Thursday, December 23, 2010


In the past month, two Parks & Recreation Employees have been charged with stealing materials and equipment from the Parks & Recreation Department. This entry is not about the specifics of those cases.

Rather, I am writing today about how those cases relate to the critical and fragile trust between the City and the community we serve. Whenever I learn that a public employee anywhere (not just in Ashland) has stolen from their employer, I feel betrayed. Theft from a government is not theft from that agency. It is theft from citizens and taxpayers – the very people we work for.

As a student of history, I know that in the early 20th century, widespread corruption in government lead to many of the laws that govern public employee ethics today. Oregon was a leader in the reforms of the Progressive Era. Our state has some of the strictest laws in the country to ensure public officials – elected or employed – don’t receive personal financial gain by virtue of their public office.

In Ashland, we have raised the ethical bar even higher with Ashland Municipal Code 3.08. That code reminds us that the public interest is the primary concern of public officials. But it goes further. This section of code specifically states that public officials cannot use City owned property for personal use unless it is available to all members of the public. In other words, borrowing city equipment to use at home is more than unethical. It’s illegal.

City employees are public servants. Many of us have chosen our careers because it allows us to improve life for other people. From electricity, water. sewer, and transportation to police and fire protection to quality development, the community depends on us for basic needs, for protection, and for a good quality of life. At the City of Ashland, we also know that we have a passionate, involved citizenry who participate in the community. We know people are watching.

The City regularly conducts ethics training for our employees, but in the next few weeks we’ll be doing a refresher training to make sure every employee knows about the obligations they have under State and Ashland laws. In addition, we will investigate every allegation of wrong doing by City employees. The citizens of Ashland should be able to count on their employees to do the right thing at all times, and we will not take that important trust for granted.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Correct false allegations

At the Council meeting on Tuesday December 7, 2010 a number of people spoke to the Council about the City of Ashland police enforcement of the camping ordinance. False statements were made and, as the Chief of Police, I want to correct those allegations.

The police are taking my camping gear.”
The only time an officer would take camping gear is if the person has their camping gear with them at the time of an arrest. The gear is held at the Ashland Police Department and the person can reclaim it once they are released from jail. If the person is with someone else at the time of the arrest, they often leave their gear with the other person.
Police Officers are only allowed to take personal property/camping gear from a campsite if a noticed has been posted at the campsite 24 hours in advance. The personal property is stored at the Ashland Police Department. Personal property is defined in the Ashland Municipal Code as follows.

Personal property means any item that is reasonably recognizable as belonging to a person and that has apparent utility. Items that have no apparent value or utility or are in an unsanitary or putrescent condition may be immediately discarded.” AMC 10.46.040

The police have used unnecessary force to wake people up or otherwise enforce the camping ordinance.”
If someone feels an officer used unnecessary force he should report the incident. I have not received any complaints about the use of unnecessary force and our officers are required to make a report of all uses of force.

When I receive a complaint about an officer and enforcement, I review the video and/or audio of the incident. If the recording shows the officer did nothing wrong, I invite the person who made the complaint to watch the video with me and point out what the officer did wrong. If the recording shows the complaint is justified I take appropriate steps with the officer.

In Ashland, most enforcement encounters occur near a police car and are audio and video recorded, and most encounters that occur away from the police car are audio recorded. Almost all of the recent actions taken in or around the Plaza occurred close enough to police vehicles that we should have both audio and video recordings of the recent actions taken in or around the Plaza.

Taser Use
There were also some comments made at the council meeting about officers using Tasers on homeless people. No Ashland officer has used a Taser on anyone in over four years. An officer cannot activate a Taser without activating the video and audio recorder.

I understand that when people are passionate about an issue, their comments can become exaggerated and embellished but I felt compelled to clarify these statements. I am proud of our officers and know them to be courteous, patient and compassionate.


Chief Holderness

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Recently, people protesting on the Plaza have drawn attention to the impacts of enforcing the city’s ban on camping on public property.

On December 7, more than 20 people spoke to the City Council and many of them asked the Council to suspend enforcement on the camping ordinance.

Previous City Council’s have grappled with the same issue over the years. The current ban is just two years old, and the issues debated then are the same as those being debated today. Everyone needs a safe place to sleep, but camping in parks and sidewalks may not be the safest or the most sanitary. At the request of Councilor Navickas, the City Council will discuss the possibility of suspending enforcement of the camping ordinance at their meeting on December 21, 2010.

People who camp are the most visible face of homelessness. Homelessness shows up in many ways: some people live in their cars, others borrow the couches of friends, some sleep in shelters, and some people live on the street. People become homeless for many reasons: from losing a job, experiencing domestic violence, having a mental illness, or losing their housing or dozens of other reasons.

In February of this year, the City Council set a goal to address homelessness. The City Council will begin their work on this goal at a study session on January 31, 2011.

Jackson County and Ashland have many organizations and people who have worked on this issue. The County’s 10-year plan to end homelessness was recently adopted and we will draw on many of the same government entities, non-profits, social services, the faith community and local citizens who worked on this plan.

In addition, we know the loss of ICCA was a blow to dealing with the direct needs of homeless people, and we hope that non-profits and the faith community will want to replace those services.

In no community has any one sector “solved” homelessness. Neither government, nor non-profits, nor churches, nor people working alone have the solution to homelessness. The City can convene, but not own, the problem of safe and secure housing for all citizens. I hope a broad spectrum of citizens and organizations will help us as the Council begins their work in late January.


Martha Bennett

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Update October 29, 2010

Council - This week has really sped by. There are just a couple of things to update you about.

Halloween Parade. As you all know, Halloween is a busy day and a busy evening in Ashland. There are two formally organized events during the day and the informal activities that happen in downtown in the evening, after dark. The first event of the day is the "Monster Dash," a 5K or 1 mile run/walk to raise funds for the Ashland Schools Foundation. This event is organized by the Ashland Kiwanis and the Ashland Schools Foundation. Many of the folks who participate in this event run in costume. Afterwards, the Children's Holiday Parade, organized by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, leaves from the Library at 3:00 p.m. and goes down Main to the Plaza. Main Street will be closed for much of the afternoon. Many thanks to the Chamber of Commerce for refocusing this year's event on children. Then, of course, after the sun goes down, the adult revelers come to downtown Ashland to celebrate. We always hope that it will snow or hail after about 8:30. Barring that, Ashland Police and Ashland Fire will provide an update on the evening events on Monday. I hope your Halloween is full of treats and free of tricks.

Rich Walsh Retires. As many of you know, Rich Walsh has worked for the City of Ashland for 29 years, the last six so as Deputy Police Chief. On Thursday, October 28, Rich retired for real from the City of Ashland to become the Co-Director of Campus Public Safety for Southern Oregon University. Rich will attend the Council meeting on Tuesday night so the City can recognize him for his many years of service to the community.

Economic Development Open Houses. There are two open houses next week on the Economic Development Goals and Vision. The first is Wednesday, November 3 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Pioneer Hall. The second is November 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Center on Winburn Way. I hope you can make one or both of these events and listen to citizen comments on the strategies.

I think that is all for now. I will see you all on Monday and Tuesday at your Study Session and Regular Meeting.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Fire and Rescue happenings

A few interesting things have been happening over at Ashland Fire and Rescue:

Fire Hydrant Marking
You may have noticed some new markings on a few Ashland city streets. If you look closely, these markings are the silhouette of a blue fire hydrant on a white reflective background. The City of Ashland Street Department and Ashland Fire and Rescue are placing these markings down at certain locations on a trial basis.

The City currently doesn't have a hydrant marking program such as the blue reflective "dots" that are common in many communities. Typically, these marking systems help the firefighters locate a fire hydrant while responding to a fire. Vegetation growth, illegally parked vehicles, and other factors can make locating fire hydrants in an emergency a difficult task. To complicate matters more, if the traditional blue reflective dots are used in areas that receive snow, such as Ashland, they must be placed in a small trough that has been ground down several inches into the surface of the street. This prevents the snow plow from scrapping the blue dots off the street surface as it passes. However, because this new trial product is made of the same material as the striping on the street there is no need to grind the street (saving us time and money.)

These new hydrant markers are placed immediately adjacent to a fire hydrant. We'll be trying this system over the winter and comparing it with the cost and durability of the blue reflective dots.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
You might also have noticed our Ashland Fire and Rescue personnel wearing particularly snazzy pink shirts. They are doing this because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to Fire and Rescue personnel for bringing attention to this important cause. I think they look great.

Hope you all have a very wonderful, crisp Fall weekend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weekend Events

It looks like this will again be a busy weekend in Ashland. There are two big events downtown this weekend. These events reflect the strength of community and of volunteerism in Ashland. You may have read about them in the paper, and I hope you will find time to enjoy one or both of them..

SoPride Parade. On Saturday, Main Street will be closed for the Southern Oregon Pride Parade. The parade will be from noon to 1 p.m., and at the end of the parade, there will be music and speeches at the Butler Band Shell in Lithia Park. There are a number of other events taking place in town on Friday and Saturday. You can learn more at

Elks Club Building Centennial. On Sunday, Main Street will be closed between First and Second from 10 a.m. to noon for the re-dedication of the Elks Lodge. The Columbia Hotel will also have a re-dedication ceremony. This is a chance for the community to visit this historic resource and to watch the "replication" of the original dedication ceremony.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekly Update, September 27 - Oct 1


League of Oregon Cities Conference. Last week, Mayor Stromberg, Councilors Chapman, Jackson, and Silberger, Rob Lloyd, Ann Seltzer, and I all attended the League of Oregon Cities conference in Eugene. The conference is often a good chance to get some training, capture a new idea, and learn about the major issues facing other communities in Oregon. This year's conference was well attended, and there were a variety of sessions on "hot" topics for City officials. For me, there were three main highlights. First, all four Gubenatorial Candidates participated in a debate on Saturday at lunchtime. The League asked all of the candidates to answer five questions that were prepared in advance. Leaving aside any political analysis (which I won't do), it was a chance to see how the two major party and the two minor party candidates define the most pressing issues for our state. It was also a chance to see the approach each candidate would take to Salem and what it might be like to work with each one of them. The second highlight was a brief speech by Governor Kulongoski, who talked about the realities of trying to close a $3 billion shortfall in the state budget. He talked very frankly about public employee benefits and about the problems of PERS. He also talked about his "reset cabinet" (and he'll be in Medford tomorrow to talk about reforms from that effort). This speech was, of course, colored by the reality that Governor Kulongoski will no longer be in office when the 2011 Legislature takes office. The third highlight was the session for the Oregon City/County Manager's Association on the practical nuts and bolts of leading a truly consensus-based process. While this training didn't offer any big revelations about the challenges of true consensus, it was good to practice the skills needed. As always, I come away humbled by the importance of listening more than talking, which many of you know is my personal challenge.

There were many other breakout sessions and useful conversations with collegues, and for all of us who attended, there will be chances to apply the lessons in our every day life.

Weekend Events. There are a couple of events this weekend that you might want to know about. During the First Friday Artwalk, youth volunteers from KSKQ have organized a Zombie Walk to draw attention to the radio station's fall fund raising. The event will involve a group of people dressed as zombies who will shamble from the Evo's parking lot around 5 pm to the plaza where I hear the zombies will perform Michael Jackson's Thiller then shamble back. I imagine that this event will draw some media attention. Saturday morning, Ashland Rotary will host a 5 K and a 10 K. This is the third sport/race event in the past three weeks, and there are several more scheduled for the rest of October.

Hearing on AT&T Cell Tower Appeal. The major item on next Tuesday's Council Meeting is an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision on the AT& Cell Tower. I wanted to give you a couple of reminders about this particular agenda item. First, please come prepared Tuesday night to disclose the substance of any ex-parte contacts you may have received. There has been a lot of press, email, letters to the editor, and organizing around this issue, and it's important that both the appellant and the applicant get a chance to address the substance of any arguments or facts you have heard. Please contact Megan Thornton if you have any questions. Second, Council Rules will require that you conclude the hearing by 9:30 p.m. (which assumes that you have extended the hearing from 9 p.m.), and given the number of people who have submitted written arguments, you may need to continue the hearing to a future meeting. Last, some of the participants in the process have organized a demonstration and parade before the City Council meeting. Councilors should plan a little extra time to get to the Council Chambers prior to your meeting.

All the best.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mayor's Statement on Oak Knoll Fire

Good morning.

Last evening a number of our fellow citizens suffered a tragic loss. Eleven homes were lost and three more suffered significant damage in the Oak Knoll neighborhood. One of our police officers was on duty directing traffic as his home burned.

These people are our neighbors. Even if we don’t know them personally we’ve likely stood in line with them in the grocery stores and passed each other on the sidewalk. On behalf of the City and all residents of Ashland I want to express our sorrow for their loss and our relief they are safe. We are grateful there were no injuries or loss of life.

Without the hard work and dedication of Ashland Fire and Rescue and more than 75 fire personnel from throughout Jackson and Josephine counties, it is likely even more damage would have occurred. We are grateful for their assistance, dedication and quick response.

Ashland is no stranger to fire. Just eleven months ago, the Siskiyou Fire raged in the west hills of Ashland. We live with the threat of fire. Fire is our potential disaster.

As you go about your daily lives please be mindful of the danger of fire and do what you can to reduce the risk.

Thank you to the members of the media who assist us in getting the word out to our citizens during emergencies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Guest Editorial

Guest Editorial
Chief Terry Holderness

I was recently contacted by a group of citizens expressing concern about the crime and disorderly contact in the downtown area and thought my response to them may be of interest to the larger community.

Reported crimes and drug related calls have been dropping in the downtown area for several years. Overall activity last summer was about half of what it was in 2007. While other crime and reports of drug related problems are consistent with 2009 we have seen an increase in disorderly conduct problems in downtown Ashland this summer. I am not sure exactly why this is happening other than there have been several groups of people in town this summer that are being unusually rude or obnoxious and causing problems.

The Ashland Police Department monitors the issue closely and is aware of the activity.

One uniformed officer is assigned full time to deal with issues in the downtown area. We always have more officers on duty on Friday and Saturday nights when it is busiest in the downtown area. All of our uniformed officers are expected to do both vehicle and foot patrol in the downtown area. In addition several times each month, during the summer and occasionally during the winter, we have officers in plain clothes patrol the area. The number of citations written in the downtown area for non traffic related offences this year is actually at an all time high for the City of Ashland. Most of those citations were written early in the summer and we have seen a significant reduction in actual violations occurring during July and August. In spite of that calls related to disorderly conduct remain high.

Because of the increased activity this summer we have increased the frequency of both uniformed and plain clothes officers patrolling the area on foot for the remainder of the summer. We will continue to devote resources and develop new strategies to deal with changing problems we encounter in the down area.

We are limited by Oregon law as to how we can handle certain situations. There is no law in Oregon against “aggressive panhandling.” However, panhandlers cannot be so aggressive that they violate laws against disorderly conduct or harassment. Unfortunately, simply being rude or obnoxious, which is the complaint we most often receive, is not covered under “disorderly conduct” or “harassment”.

Per Oregon Law:
166.025 Disorderly conduct in the second degree.
(1) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct in the second degree if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:
(a) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior;
(b) Makes unreasonable noise;
(c) Disturbs any lawful assembly of persons without lawful authority;
(d) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;

(1) A person commits the crime of harassment if the person intentionally:
(a) Harasses or annoys another person by:
(A) Subjecting such other person to offensive physical contact; or
(B) Publicly insulting such other person by abusive words or gestures in a manner intended and likely to provoke a violent response;

Possession of drugs or use of drugs or alcohol in a public place is against the law but an adult being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not a crime in the state of Oregon unless they are operating a vehicle. Police can take a person to a detoxification center if they are so intoxicated to be unable to care for the welfare of themselves or others. Generally this requires that the person be unconscious or unable to walk safely on their own. In spite of those limits we will respond and at least attempt to deal with any report of problem activity in the city.

Please call the police if you see activity that disturbs you. We will respond and try to resolve the issue. If you would like more information, have suggestions or would just like to talk about these problems I would be happy to meet with you in person and discuss the issues and what we have been and should be doing to address them.

Terry Holderness
Chief of Police

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

September 7 Council Meeting

Council -

As you know, the land use appeal hearing on the AT&T Cell Tower was originally planned for your September 7 meeting. This appeal has been continued to the first meeting in October based on an agreement with the applicant and the appellant.

Although the agenda will be rather light as a consequence, there are several remaining items scheduled for September 7 that cannot wait until September 21. Therefore, we will hold the regular meeting of the City Council on September 7. It is possible that you will be done early.

All the very best.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Appeal on the Record

**This entry was edited on August 4, 2010**

A recent land use decision of the Planning Commission for an application for in the installation of wireless communication facilities at the Ashland Shopping center has been appealed to the City Council. This is the first appeal under the new process and is referred to as “An Appeal on the Record.”

What is “An Appeal on the Record”?

An “Appeal on the Record” is an appeal of a land use decision where the City Council must consider the same facts and information (the record) that the Planning Commission saw. The City Council may not consider new facts or information.

Prior to 2008, the Council could review new information during an appeal that was not previously included in the record on which the Planning Commission based their decision.

What are the steps to appeal?

Once the Planning Commission makes a decision on a land use matter, a person can appeal that decision to the City Council. The appellant must identify, in writing, specific areas where they think the Planning Commission made a mistake. The mistake has to be an error in interpretation of a fact, an interpretation of a rule or regulation, or in procedure. The City Council will review only those specific issues raised as “errors.”

The Council will decide: 1) whether there is substantial evidence* to support the decision of the Planning Commission and 2) if the Planning Commission committed an error.

What will happen at the hearing?

At the City Council meeting, the only people who will be allowed to talk directly to the Council will be the City staff, the applicant, people who have filed the written appeal and participants who provided oral or written testimony during the original Planning Commission hearing and who submit written arguments at least ten days in advance of the City Council meeting. The applicant will be allowed 10 minutes and the people who have filed the written appeal will be allowed 10 minutes. People who have filed written arguments will be allowed 3 minutes to summarize their argument for the City Council. No one can introduce new information or facts.

Ultimately, the Council may:
Affirm the decision of the Planning Commission and reject the appeal or
Reverse the decision of the Planning Commission and support the written appeal or
Modify the decision of the Planning Commission or;
Send the decision back to the Planning Commission with instructions for further proceedings. Subsequent actions by the Planning Commission will be the final decision of the City.

The final decision of the City can be appealed to the State Land Use Board of Appeals.

* AMC 18.108 110 (D) Upon review, and except when limited reopening of the record is allowed, the City Council shall not re-examine issues of fact and shall limit its review to determining whether there is substantial evidence to support the findings of the Planning Commission, or to determining if errors in law were committed by the Commission. Review shall in any event be limited to those issues clearly and distinctly set forth in the notice of appeal. No issue may be raised on appeal to the Council that was not raised before the Planning Commission with sufficient specificity to enable the Commission and the parties to respond.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wildlife in Ashland

The Message from the Mayor below was published as a letter to the Editor in the Ashland Daily Tidings on Thursday, July 29, 2010.
Do we have a deer problem in Ashland? While some people love the deer and others see them as a pest, the fact remains that deer attacks on people and pets, a deer jumping through a store window, and deer roaming downtown in the middle of the day constitute a "deer problem" for our community as far as Im concerned. The tough question is: what can we do about it?

No one has a corner on the answer. The first thing to understand is that wildlife, including deer, bear and cougar - even the ones who live in town - are under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). This means that managing the wildlife population in Ashland is not within the legal powers of City government. We have to work with ODFW, and we have to treat these animals like wildlife - not like pets or pests.

Although we cant solve the problem, the City can convene a gathering to connect Ashland residents with state officials to converse directly about solutions that are practical and, at the same time, consistent with community values. City officials are currently arranging this meeting, which will be widely publicized so all interested citizens can attend. We will support citizen efforts to lobby ODFW for realistic options and if a solution involves local ordinances the City will participate actively in that part of the process.

We also have requested help from ODFW with training and practical tips for citizens on how to live with wildlife in urban settings, for example deer fencing, bear-proof garbage cans and more. With their help and drawing on community resources, I am hopeful we can develop a common sense approach for Ashland that will reduce the conflicts between humans and our urban wildlife.

I am compiling a list of people interested in participating in the proposed meeting(s). If that includes you, please email me at

John Stromberg, Mayor

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010

There are two little things going on that I thought you'd be interested in:

Members of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project will be hosting an open house on Thursday, July 29th between 6:30 and 8:30. The four partners will be sharing information on work performed to date as well as future work. Also, on Saturday July 31st there will be a public field trip from 9:00 am until noon. Please see the flyer for details.

Jefferson Exchange. On Friday, July 30, Mike Faught and Transportation Commission Chair Eric Heesacker will be on the Jefferson Exchange in the 8:00 to 8:30 slot, discussing the transportation plan and bicycle routes in Ashland. Given the two bike-car accidents in the past week, I expect they will get a lot of calls.

All the best.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Emergency Management Team

The City of Ashland and Ashland Fire and Rescue are looking for residents with previous public safety or emergency management experience to help the City prepare for events and emergencies. During large scale emergencies or planned events, the City needs a substantial number of people who are trained in incident management. Recent events and training exercises have revealed that the City needs more people to fill critical positions and adjutants for these positions.

We are looking for residents who will be willing to volunteer to receive training for positions in the City’s emergency management team. People who have previous experience with a police or fire department, a public works department, a wildfire agency (such as the Forest Service, BLM, or Oregon Department of Forestry), or the National Guard, reserves, or military have very desirable experience. Additionally, people trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) or the Incident Command System (ICS) would be especially valuable. If you have an emergency management background and would like to volunteer to help the community, please contact Kimberley Summers at Ashland Fire and Rescue, at 541-482-2770.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Emergency Radio Training

We here at the City of Ashland are always working on improving how we respond to emergencies and we work hard to keep out employees as prepared as possible for any emergency. Recently, we held an emergency exercise simulating a problem at Hosler Dam. The exercise was performed under the direction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and gave us some insights into the City’s functional plan for such an event. One of the areas identified as extra challenging in any emergency situation was communications between City departments and responders.

As with most communities these days, Ashland uses a combination of portable radios and cellular devices to communicate with field personnel in an emergency. However, there is a strong chance that, in a true emergency, cellular devices would be in-operable for at least some (if not all) of the emergency operations. Without cellular devices, all communications would be limited to portable radios. This being the cellular world it is, portable radios are not something most city staff regularly use in their daily work.

To help emergency responders to have a working knowledge of our portable radio systems, this whole week, July 12 - 16, the City of Ashland staff is acting as if we have no ability to use cellular devices. All communications between departments and field personnel will be conducted via the City’s radio system. The City’s fire department, police department, electric division, street division, water division and waste water division all have radio communications capabilities and will conduct all their day-to-day operations via radio communications.

This exercise will help identify any problems with the radio system, as well as give employees the opportunity to practice using existing radio protocols. We will use the information gathered from this exercise to further improve the City’s ability to function effectively during a large scale emergency. We'll be sure to give you an update here on the blog about how our cellular free week went.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weekly Update, July 5 - 9, 2010

Council -

It was great to see many of you on Sunday as you drove, rode, and walked by during the 4th of July parade.

Fourth of July. As you know, this was a very successful holiday with fewer fire and police calls for service than in prior years. The number of people in town was bigger than many years, so the low levels of calls is really remarkable. Here is a memo that Chief Karns sent me on Tuesday about the Fire Department's calls. Councilor Voisin rode along with Ashland Fire and Rescue, and as it turns out, it would have been difficult for her to have picked a more boring day. Ashland Fire and Rescue staff really enjoyed having Councilor Voisin ride along with them. If anyone else on the Council would like to do a ride along for all or part of a shift, please contact John Karns. In addition to having fewer calls, the reduction in fireworks also meant a lot less garbage in several parks, on school grounds, and on the streets. Thanks are due to the Chamber of Commerce, to the Public Works, Parks & Recreation, Police, and Fire Departments, to all of the community groups who participate in the parade and in Lithia Park, and to the hundreds of citizen volunteers who organize this event.

Water. Unlike last year, the news about the City's water supply is good. Reeder Reservoir is still at 100% capacity (in fact, water is still spilling over the top of the dam), and there is still snow melting on Mount Ashland. The flows from the east and west forks are still good. Also, we have not yet had an algae bloom in the reservoir (this is partially because of cool weather and partially because spilling water over the top of the dam keeps the water circulating). Public Works staff expect that we will likely have to treat for algae in about three weeks (probably the last week in July). We will use the non-toxic treatment again this year, and Public Works staff will be doing the treatment, which should lower our costs. Public Works Operations staff are updating the information about Reeder daily. Here is the status report on the Reeder draw down from yesterday. Please contact Terry Ellis in Public Works if you want more information.

Lightening Storms. As I am sure all of you noticed, thunderstorm season has started. While we didn't get any lightening or rain in town, there were several strikes close in. The Oregon Department of Forestry does a daily report during thunderstorm season, and we will pass on information about fires close to town. For example, there was a single-tree fire near Shale City , 11 miles northeast of Ashland, yesterday that was quickly contained. More thunderstorms are expected today.

Next Week. Next Week I will be at the Oregon City/County Manager's conference in Bend. I will be working, but Lee Tuneberg will be City Administrator Pro-Tem in my absence. I will be answering email, and Diana Shiplet and Lee Tuneberg can both track me down if needed.

Please let me know if you have questions.


Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010 Weekly Update

Council -
Independence Day is my favorite holiday. It happens in the middle of the summer, it's got a great story, there are no gifts, and it's close enough to my birthday to make me think that big commercial firework display is all for me. Thanks to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and to hundreds of community volunteers, Ashland takes this holiday to new heights. (Check the Chamber's website at for the day's schedule).

The City plays a major support role, and the Parks & Recreation, Public Works, Police, and Fire Departments will all do a great deal of work between now and next Tuesday. If you get a chance this weekend, please thank the staff and volunteers you see working from these departments for all that they do to make sure the 4th of July is fun and safe for everyone. We plan for 25,000 people to be in Ashland for the parade and the many events in the afternoon and evening. In addition to the large number of people who come to town, we have a few other challenges this year including the new ban on fireworks and a couple of additional beer gardens that a couple of restaurants will be setting up. I will give you a debrief of any major issues that arise on Tuesday.

There are just a few other things you will want to know about.

Fiscal Year End/Beginning. July 1 was the beginning of the fiscal year. If you have any lingering reimbursement requests that you need to turn in from Fiscal Year 2010, please get them into Diana Shiplet ASAP. This includes any travel or expense reimbursements from a training or committee. If you turn them in after July 19, we will not be able to reimburse your expenses because we close out the year.

Fire at Ashland High School. The cause of the fire in the bleachers at Ashland High School is still under investigation. It's been a tricky case to investigate both because the sprinklers partially put the fire out and because the bleachers had to be reconstructed before the investigation was complete. The City's building inspectors will be out looking at the safety of the bleachers today because the American Band College concert will have to be rearranged if the bleachers aren't safe to be used. If you have any questions about the investigation, please let Chief Karns know.

Upcoming Annual Meeting with the Ashland Community Hospital. Once a year, the President of the Ashland Community Hospital Board and the CEO of the Hospital hold an annual meeting with the City Council. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 on July 20 (just before the Council meeting). In addition to the report, the Hospital folks will discuss some changes they would like to request in our existing lease and agreement.

Sonja Akerman Retires. On Wednesday, June 30, Sonja Akerman retired from the City of Ashland after 27 years of service. Sonja worked for most of that time for the Community Development Department, and she, Sue Yates and Robbin Pearce tell famous stories about being crammed into the area that Dana Smith now occupies with one computer and a daisy wheel printer. Sonja has been a steady and calm presence in the Human Resources Department for nearly a decade, and she frequently backed up all of us in Administration. We will miss many things about her, not the least of which is that she is one of the few people who knew EVERY employee's name (not to mention everyone's favorite color). We will miss her a great deal.

As a reminder, City offices are closed on Monday, July 5, as that is the official "holiday" recognizing Independence Day.

I look forward to waiving at all of you as you go by in the parade on Sunday. Have a great Independence Day Holiday.


Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18 Weekly Update

Council -

I am sure you have noticed, but it appears summer is mostly here at last. Ashland High School Graduation and the opening of the Elizabethan Theater both went well last week. There is lots of activity in town, and the City is moving into the things that keep us busy in the summer - such as construction projects and lots of activity in the parks.

Utility Boxes. The Public Arts Commission has begun work on a second round of painting electrical boxes. They recently received proposals to paint one transformer box on the plaza and two on Helman Street near DreamSacks's new location. The two on Helman are sponsored by DreamSacks. The Commission is appointing a selection panel, which includes a few artists, plaza merchants, and neighbors on Helman. The Public Arts Commission plans to make a recommendation to the City Council on July 20. Please let Ann know if you have any questions

Independence Day Preparation. I am sure you have all decided whether you will be walking in the parade. You should also plan to visit the bandshell after the parade to hear an official welcome from Mayor Stromberg and the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence. There are a couple of things you should know about on July 2. First, the City will host the official breakfast to welcome the dignitaries from Guanajuato that morning. All members of the City Council are invited, and you will receive more information from Diana Shiplet soon. Second, the Amigo Club will be dedicating a park bench to Senora Chela Kocks to recognize her role as the lynchpin in the sister city relationship. That bench will be in Lithia Park, and the ceremony will be at 4 p.m. Hope you can all make it.

The City is also working with the Chamber of Commerce to ask Ashland residents to plan to attend and support the official fireworks display at SOU on Independence Day. Both Ashland Fire and Rescue and the Chamber are educating folks about the new fireworks ban. We will be doing additional enforcement in the days leading up to the 4th this year (especially because the 4th is on Sunday).

We are also doing our standard work of preparing for the thousands of people who come for the parade and the festivities of the park. It's a big day in Ashland, and I'll keep you posted as things get closer.

There are two Public Works Projects you may want to know about. The Liberty Street LID will commence on June 22. The pre-construction meeting was held this week and the notice to proceed has been issued to the contractor (Visar Construction), letters have been sent to all property owners and the information has been posted on the City web. Morgan Wayman will be managing this project and will be on the site on a daily basis. He is prepared to handle all issues whether they be property owner concerns, utility problems or contractor issues.

Jefferson Street Project. Back in 2006, the Council worked with Brammo Motorsports on a grant/loan from the State to build the extension of Jefferson Street. While there were some hiccups along the way, the City has now received permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and will soon receive permits from Oregon Division of State Lands for the portion of the project that crosses the creek. Once those permits are on hand, the City will go out to bid for construction, and that project will begin later this summer (at last!)

Chamber Board Meeting. Mayor Stromberg, Councilor Voisin, Adam Hanks and I all attended the monthly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Board last week. As you would expect, the Chamber is very focused on the 4th of July right now. Meiwen Richards also reported on the recent visit of a delegation from Fujin province in China. Finally, the Chamber's annual dinner will be on October 7 this year, so please mark your calendars if you plan to attend.

I think this is the major news of the week. Please let me know if you have questions.


Friday, June 4, 2010

May 31 - June 4

June 4, 2010

It's been a short week, and many of the key topics were covered at Tuesday night's Council meeting. So, there are a couple of things I need to get off my chest this week before I give you an update.

First, congratulations to all of the students of Southern Oregon University who are graduating this weekend. Graduation ceremonies are tomorrow.

Second, good luck to the Ashland High School Boys Baseball team who face North Eugene in the State 5A playoffs tomorrow. Go Griz!

Regional Problem Solving. Council has begun receiving public input for your June 15 discussion of Regional Problem Solving. We will put the letters and emails we've received into the Council packet. At that meeting, you will be discussing the comments the City will send to the Jackson County Planning Commission. Also, it is not a formal "public hearing." Council can still take public comment as you normally do on agenda items, but you are not bound by public hearing rules. Hope this is clear, but please let me know if it isn't.

Good Work By Public Works Staff. I know that you have read about the recent issue we've had with paint in Ashland Creek, and you have seen press about the resolution to the investigation. While I wish the incident hadn't happened, the fact that we were able to find the origins of the spilled paint is due to the good work of the public works crews who used the cameras the City uses to televise sewer lines (to identify maintenance issues) to follow the paint to its source. Next time you see John Peterson or a member of the Street/Stormwater crew, please thank them for their work.

More on Storm Drains. The incident with the storm drains is an opportunity for the City to increase our education efforts about stormwater. As you know, Conservation Commission volunteers and City crews have been installing "Drains to Stream" markers on the catch basins in the community. We will also be stepping up efforts to let people that everything that goes into stormwater goes directly into our community's creeks and wetlands.

Big Week Next week. Next Friday night is high school graduation, the opening of the outdoor season for OSF, and the last day of school. So, even though it might not seem like summer yet, it's here.

Please let me know if you have questions.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Weekly Update, May 24 - 28, 2010

Council -

There is not much to report on this week that hasn't been in the news. The Police Department has been very busy in the last couple of weeks with the vandalism and tire slashing around town and with the incident at the high school. Here are some other things you might be interested in.

League of Oregon Cities Policy Issues. As I think I have mentioned in previous posts to this blog, the League of Oregon Cities is in the process of developing the Legislative Agenda for the 2011 session of the Oregon Legislature. The Policy Committees have completed their work, and now it's time for all of the cities in Oregon to weigh in. The League has sent a comprehensive list of all of the recommended policy priorities, and every City Council in Oregon has a chance to pick their preferences for League priorities. Every City can recommend four priorities to the League's Board, and then the League Board will meet in late July to finalize the list for the upcoming session. This is scheduled for action by the Ashland City Council on June 29, 2010, and the Department Head staff will meet to develop a recommendation for Council consideration. The list is quite diverse and can be found here. As you may remember, David Chapman and Mike Faught serve on the League's Transportation Committee, and I serve on both the Finance and Taxation and Community Development Committees. As I participate in these committees, I am reminded that Oregon's cities are quite diverse - geographically, economically, and politically - and that it is a tough challenge to develop consensus on a Policy Agenda.

Request for Salary and Benefit Information. A reporter for the Sneak Preview has requested (and received) salary and benefit information for all City employees. He mentioned that his deadline is June 3, so I expect that there will be a story about this in the next issue of the Sneak Preview.

Parking Reconfiguration on the Plaza. Last week, the Transportation Commission approved a decision to reconfigure the parking in the plaza and in front of City Hall. The design actually will add a couple of new parking spaces and remove the first two parking stalls nearest North Main (in front of Mix), by changing current 75 degree angle parking to a 60 degree angle. This recommendation will be coming to the City Council for final approval. A couple of people have submitted written testimony in opposition to the proposed changes, and the change is significant enough that it will affect how the Plaza looks. The staff is looking at whether the removed spaces can be used for bicycle parking and for motorcycle parking. Please let Mike Faught or Pieter Smeenk know if you have any questions about this.

Ex Parte Contact and Cell Tower Decision. Many of you know that there is an application to install a new cell tower at the Ashland Street Cinemas. The Planning Commission has held a hearing on the matter. Because this decision is very likely to be appealed no matter how it turns out, Councilors should avoid ex parte contact on this case. In other words, if you get a phone call or get stopped at the grocery store, you probably should let folks know that you can't talk to them about the case. If you do talk to the person, please write down the date, the person's name, and the general statement that the person makes. And, if you receive any email, you probably should hang onto them and make sure that they are entered into the record if the matter is appealed. I know this is a really hot topic in town, and it's going to be important that Council keeps the procedure clean. If you have any questions about this, you should contact Richard Appicello or Bill Molnar.

City Administrator Pro Tem. I'll be out of town this weekend, and Lee Tuneberg will be City Administrator Pro Tem for any weird thing that comes up in my absence.

See you all Tuesday evening.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18 Weekly Update

Council - There isn't much that you don't already know this week.

Last Phase of Budget Adoption. Thanks for all of your hard work in the past three weeks on the Budget Committee. I thought the Committee and staff worked really well together this year, and I hope you do as well. Council will hold the last formal hearing on the 2010-2011 budget on June 1, 2010 at your regular Council meeting. If you know of anyone with an opinion to share on this year's budget, please invite them to offer comments to the Council at this public hearing. People can also email their written comments either to the Comment to the Council listserv ( or by sending them to Barbara Christensen ( or Bryn Morrison (

PERS Issue. On Friday, David Chapman and Mike Faught happened to be in Salem at a League of Oregon Cities Transportation Policy Committee meeting. Councilor Chapman spoke to League staff, and League staff followed up with a call to me. I told staff that the City would likely send a letter to the Human Resources Policy Committee asking for continued work by LOC with the Legislature and the PERS Board to minimize and control the effect of Tier One benefit costs so that cities don't have to cut essential services to fund retirement benefits. League staff reminded me that in 2003, the Oregon Legislature did pass a bill to attempt to better manage the Tier One costs (it allowed the PERS Board to reduce allocations to accounts, to reduce benefits, and to refuse to give Cost of Living Adjustments to retirees). That law was thrown out by the Oregon Supreme Court in a case called Strunk,, v. Public Employees Retirement Board (PERB), in 2005. The opinion by the court is 92 pages long and it is very complicated. The net effect is that there isn't much the Legislature is likely to do as a result of this case. The Legislature did create a major reform in 2003 that applies to everyone hired since then.

Scott Winkels also shared that Ashland's increase is likely to be on the low end (close to or maybe even less than 6%) because we do not have significant unfunded liabilities. Also. the rate increase could be lower if the investments income for PERS continues to increase this calendar year.

Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting. The Mayor, Councilor Voisin, Adam Hanks and I all attended the Chamber of Commerce Board meeting on Thursday, May 13. There was much discussion about National Tourism Week, Downtown beautification, and the plans for the Fourth of July. Sandra and Meiwen Richards also reported on a meeting they attended with the Oregon Business Council in their efforts to update the Oregon Business Plan. The group discussed the growing divide in Oregon between government and business, and we talked a little about ways to develop an agenda for the issues we agree on. The Chamber of Commerce is also part of a coalition that is welcoming some VIPs from China to the Rogue Valley on June 4, and the hope is that will improve some trade and will lead to more tourists from China choosing Oregon and the Rogue Valley as a destination.

See most of you at this week's Council meeting. Please let me know if you have questions.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekly Update, May 11, 2010

Council - It seems like we've all been spending quite a bit of time together in the past couple of weeks, so hopefully you feel up-to-date on most things going on in the City.

Budget Committee meetings. We have two Budget Committee meetings this week, and they are both important. On Wednesday, May 12, you will be hearing from the Public Works Department, the Department with the largest budgets in the City. On Thursday, you will conduct your Committee Discussion, making decisions about the variety of issues that have come up during the past three weeks. This is the meeting, too, where the Committee sets the overall budget and the property tax rate. Finance staff have been compiling a list of issues that have come up, and that will be included on the agenda. If you have any issues that you want the full Budget Committee to discuss, please get those to Lee or Bryn by Wednesday evening so the issue can be on the agenda. Also, if you are going to miss a meeting and have not already told Bryn or Melissa, please let them know as soon as you can. Council will consider the Budget Committee's decisions on June 1, 2010.

Croman Master Plan Special Meeting. We have scheduled the special meeting to deliberate on the Croman Mill Master Plan for Wednesday, May 26. Here is a list of the discussion topics that the Mayor prepared for your deliberation. Staff will not be providing any additional copies of materials for this session, so please bring your packets from the April 6 and May 4 meetings with you on May 26. We will send out an agenda on May 21 with the meeting time, the finalized list of deliberation topics, and anything else you need for the meeting.

League of Oregon Cities Weekly Bulletin. Last Friday's bulletin from the League of Oregon cities had updates on two issues that I thought you all might be interested in. The first was the Department of Energy's work to update the Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC), and the second is work on the State's Transportation Planning Rule (TPR). The TPR is especially interesting to Ashland, and I'd draw your attention to efforts to use something besides the volume to capacity ration (V/C Ratio) to g\figure out whether a transportation facility needs to be bigger. More flexibility will be good for Ashland. The link is:

Ashland Creek Bacteria. A few weeks ago, Lesley Adams, the Rogue Riverkeeper, pulled together a group of people who are interested in trying to reduce fecal coliform and e-coli in Ashland Creek during the summer so that the stream never exceeds the levels for safe swimming. A good cross section of people with expertise in testing and pollution have come together to design a strategy to identify the sources of pollution and to reduce them to avoid violating health standards. City and Parks staff have been participating along with community advocates, SOU faculty, DEQ staff, and some citizens with real expertise and passion for water and stream quality issues. As you can imagine, we are both excited about the chance to really look at where the pollution is coming from and pleased that a group is helping us tackle it constructively. Mike Faught and soon-to-retire GIS Tech Richard Best can give you more information about the effort. Thank you to Lesley and all of the other good folks who are working on this issue.

June 11 Update. Many of you may know that June 11 will be a very busy evening in downtown Ashland. Both High School Graduation and the opening of the Elizabethan Theater and Feast of Will are on that evening. First, I appreciate all of the work that OSF, ASD, the Lions Club, Parks and Recreation and Ashland Police have done already to coordinate the timing of these events to reduce conflicts. Second, we are working closely with these groups to ensure that each organization has a plan for traffic and for parking. You may get complaints from citizens about this overlapping schedule. You should know that there is a lot of coordination taking place to ensure that everyone has a successful event. If you have questions from our end, please talk with Don Robertson or Terry Holderness. This is a good problem to have, even though it is a challenge.

Economic Development Planning. The Economic Development Strategy is moving into its public outreach phase. A draft vision and about 14 draft strategies are going out for public comment shortly after July 4. We will be holding several kinds of meetings and will have an on-line questionnaire about the draft. If you have any specific suggestions about groups or people we should not forget to talk with, please let Adam Hanks know.

I think that is all for now. Please keep your fingers crossed for warmer weather so I can turn the heat off at home.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weekly Update, April 26 - 30

Summer meetings. First, in past years, you have canceled not only the meeting closest to the Independence Day Holiday, but also one in August. Diana will be polling all of you in the next week or so to check on your summer plans. Depending on what we learn, we may propose to cancel one (or none!) of the two meetings in August. We will try to keep Study Sessions in the summertime to a minimum. Because we cancel that first meeting in July, the meeting on July 20 will be very important, so we probably won't pick that one!

League of Oregon Cities Policy Committee meetings. Several of you know that in the spring and summer of even numbered years, the League of Oregon cities develops an agenda to guide the League's work on issues before the upcoming State Legislature. The League forms Policy Committees around several topic areas to develop a list of possible priorities. There are nine standing committees, and each committee will recommend that the League Board and membership consider three or four major policy initiatives as a priority. (The list of standing committees can be found at The complied list will go to the League Board in the summer, and then it will go out to all 202 member cities (including Ashland) for the members to vote on the priorities. The top three or four issues selected by the members will become the League's top priorities for the 2011 Legislative session. Currently, I serve on two Policy Committees (Finance and Taxation and Community Development) and Mike Faught and Councilor Chapman serve on the Transportation Policy Committee.

The Community Development Policy Committee has finished its work for the year and has recommended four priorities. The four priorities are: 1) Giving cities the ability to set their own population forecasts for land use planning if their County either fails to do it or fails to take City issues into account. 2) Create a conflict resolution process to deal with disagreements between Cities and Counties (like Ashland has with Jackson County) over population forecasts. 3) Create a work group that would look at a wide range of issues that are affecting cities abilities to amend their urban grown boundaries (this is not a big issue for Ashland, but has been difficult for a lot of cities in Oregon). 4) Develop legislation to resolve conflicts between the Transportation Planning Rule and the Statewide Land Use Planning Goal 14 (Urbanization). This would also be beneficial to Ashland as the current regulations and case law require cities to plan for new roads (often) before adopting land use plan. It doesn't allow cities to negotiate lower or different traffic standards, and it doesn't allow cities to use transit or non-motorized transportation to off-set required road improvements. Thus, the current application of the Transportation Planning Rule is in conflict with the Urbanization Goal's focus on infill and transit friendly design.

The Finance and Taxation Committee is about 2/3 of the way through their work. At this point, this committee is working on three priorities: 1) Convening a work group (not Legislation) to craft options to reform Oregon's Property Tax system. The focus is on creating a revenue neutral change that makes a stronger connection between Real Market Value and Assessed value, increases local control, allows jurisdictions to adjust their permanent rate, is stable, and addresses issues for local governments and for schools. I will keep you posted on this priority, as it is quite important for all local governments in Oregon. 2) Protecting State Shared Revenues (Gas Tax, Liquor Tax, Cigarette Tax, and 9-1-1 Tax). Finally 3) Allowing Transient Occupancy Tax to be used for visitor-related services as well as for capital project and for tourism marketing. This is a change we have previously supported as it would allow us to fund a few of the things that are directly related to the influx of visitors we receive in the summer such as Park Patrol. This committee will finish up on May 13, and I'll let you all know if there is a change.
Mike and David can give you an update on the Transportation Committee once they have finished their work. As a side note, if any of you are interested in particular issues that cities face on the state level, let me or Ann know, and we'll get you plugged into a League Committee during the next cycle.

Another Era is Ending. Many of you know that after approximately a bizillian years (ok, so 28 years), Pat Woods, Finance Division Manager for the Customer Service Division is retiring on Friday, April 30. Responsible for Utility Billing and managing Food and Beverage, Transient Occupancy Tax, and Business License collections, Pat has been critical to ensuring the City accurately bills and collects revenue. Pat managed the City's migration, to new utility billing software, managed transitions in AFN and cable television, and dealt with water curtailment. We are losing an excellent employee with many years of institutional knowledge. Please stop by City Hall on Friday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to wish Pat well in her next adventure.

Project report. We will send an updated project report out to the listserv as soon as we get the update done. A couple key people are out with spring colds, so we will get it done as soon as we can.

Thanks for all your efforts, particularly as we work through the proposed budget. Please let me know if you have questions.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volunteer Spirit

Tonight, I will be presenting the annual James M. Ragland "Volunteer Spirit" Community Service Award to the Ashland Food Project. I have to tell you that it was actually a bit of a struggle this year for the Council and me to select a winner, and I think you'll see why after you read a little about the exceptional nominees this year. Be sure to give each of these nominees (and the people who support them) a "pat on the back" and thank them for their service to our community.

Olaf Paul. Since 2005, Olaf has been the coordinator for the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), logging over 2,000 hours in his 4 years running that program and stepping into any volunteer position needed, including (but not limited to) crossing guard, foot patrol, assisting with the Festival of Lights and 4th of July activities, delivering interdepartmental mail, District Attorney courier, vacation house check, and regular VIPS office duties.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The OLLI program at SOU is run largely by volunteers and has been providing public education courses since 1993. They also partner with other local institution such as the Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, Jackson County Library Service, and ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum to provide educational events.

Dr. Robert Cox. Dr. Cox has been volunteering for 15 years with the Forensics Lab and for 17 years with the Ashland Senior Center. At the forensics lab, Dr. Cox works to assist the regular employees by creating the background data necessary for those who testify in court. At the Senior Center, he helps with the meals programs, and teaches basic computer skills to seniors.

Michael Hersh. Michael volunteers with a wide variety of groups including: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Tudor Guild, Meals on Wheels, the Ashland Police Department, ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, and the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers.

Ballet Rogue's "Ballet in the Park". The Ballet in the Park program provides free ballet performances every summer in Lithia Park.

Ashland High School's ASPIRE Program. The ASPIRE program helps students value learning, gain access to education and vocational training beyond high school, and provides mentoring and resources about education and financial aid. They have helped the rate of graduating Ashland High School students going on to two or four year colleges go from 62% to 87%.

Tim Church. Tim helps at the Recycle Center. While on duty at the Recycle Center, Tim brings adoptable dogs, giving the dogs both an opportunity for socialization and the possibility of finding a loving permanent home.

Ashland St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Ashland Volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul Society assist the needy with emergency utility payments, food, clothing, and prescription drugs. They do not offer direct cash, but instead, do the legwork of intervening with landlords, utility companies, etc. Last year the eleven Ashland/Talent volunteers responded to 587 calls for assistance.

James Matteson II. Jim was in the Rotary Club of Ashland since moving here in 1980. Over the years he served as Rotary president, district governor, and secretary-treasurer as well as trustee for the Ashland Rotary Foundation. He also served as the chair of the 4th of July Parade, and was on the Chamber Board for my years. From 1990-1997 Jim and his wife, Betty, acted as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at the Festival of Lights. Jim was also an OSF volunteer, and a member of the Elks Club of Ashland. Jim, sadly, passed away in March of this year.

James M. Ragland "Volunteer Spirit" Community Service Award 2010 given to:

The Ashland Food Project. This reliable, easy, door-to-door food collection program provides a steady supply of food to both Ashland and Talent "free food" programs. Once every two months, on the second Saturday of the month, neighborhood volunteers with the project collect food set out by households who have agreed to support, on a regular basis, local meal programs (including the Ashland Food Bank, Food Angels, Uncle Food's Diner, the Ashland Senior Center, the First Congregational United Church of Christ's Monday Morning Breakfast, and the Talent Food Pantry.) Last, but not least, this program strengthens the community as a whole as it requires face-to-face / neighbor-to-neighbor interaction with the volunteers and donating households.

Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for this year's Ragland Award! And to all the nominees, thank you for your efforts. Keep up the good work!

Mayor Stromberg

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weekly Update, April 5 - 9, 2010

Council - It has been a few weeks since I have sent an update on the "miscellaneous" things that are going on. Here are some:

Ashland Independent Film Festival. AIFF is this weekend, and activity already seems likely around town for the weekend. Many of their showings are sold out, but if you're interested in attending, you can find the schedule here.

Proposed Budget. Budget Committee members should be receiving the paper copy of the Proposed Budget for FY 2010-2011 today. Finance staff will be bringing the document up on the website, so it should be available electronically very soon. The first meeting of the Budget Committee is April 19, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, and Lee Tuneberg and I will deliver the Budget Message. Please remember that until that meeting, members of the Budget Committee cannot talk to each other about the Proposed Budget. If you have questions, please let Lee know. Getting this document out every year is a huge amount of work by the Administrative Services staff and by all City Departments. Thank you to Lee, Bryn, and Melissa in particular for pulling the document together.

AFR Tour. Fire Department staff will be conducting a couple of tours of the first areas that will be treated as part of Ashland Forest Resiliency. One of the tours is already full, and the other is tentatively planned for May 8. I am wondering how many of Councilors might be interested in going along so that we can either notice the tour as a public meeting or schedule an additional tour. Can you please email John Karns if you would like to go on May 8. Also, this is a tentative date, and it may be rescheduled. John would like to hear from the public as well as Councilors, so for any blog readers, if you are interested, please email Chief Karns.

Land Use Permit for Calle and Comm. Dev. Parking Lot. The Parks Dept and the City have been working with merchants , the artisans, and restaurants on the Calle to allow additional sidewalk/Calle dining for the Sesame Kitchen. Last year's initial layout for Sesame caused some access issues for several businesses and also conflicted with the weekend Saturday Market booth space layout. The City and Parks offered a solution of extending the Saturday Market booth area into the existing parking lot of the City's Community Development building immediately west of the Calle on the opposite side of the creek. The proposed space in the Community Development parking lot replaces those lost to the Calle dining and adds 5 to 6 additional booth spaces for the weekend operations that happen each year from May through October. To do this, Parks and the City is submitting a joint application to the Planning Department for a modification to the existing conditional use permit that the Market currently operates under. Please contact Adam Hanks in Administration or Rachel Dials in Parks if you have any questions about this application.

Evening Event related to Sexual Assault and Abductions. On April 19 at 6:30 p.m., the Ashland Police Department and Southern Oregon University will host an evening presentation highlighting the importance that community involvement plays in stopping predators. The event will be in the Rogue River Room, and tickets are needed. I am sorry that this is the same evening as the Budget Committee. APD will also be hosting an officer training that afternoon. For those who aren't familiar with this topic, 19 yr old Brooke Wilberger was abducted on May 24th, 2004, in Corvallis, Oregon. In the first 7 days 1,139 tips were received by a task force that included Corvallis PD, Benton County SO, OSP, FBI, US Marshals and numerous other law enforcement agencies. This is a unique opportunity to hear from Brook's parents, Greg and Cammy Wilberger, as well as those who investigated and prosecuted this case. If you have any questions, please contact Chief Holderness.

Chamber Board Meeting. The Chamber of Commerce Board met Thursday. The Board asked a task force to send comments to the City Council for the record for the Croman Mill Master Plan. The Chamber Board also discussed issues related to the Fourth of July Parade, an upcoming seminar they are hosting for new businesses, and a beautification project that they are working with City staff on for their offices. The Chamber will be hosting a series of events the week of May 10 for Tourism Promotion Week, and they are coordinating their programs with the City as this is also Historic Preservation Week. For example, we will have a series of tours of historic houses that are now Bed & Breakfast Inns. Lastly, the Chamber just released the new "Living and Doing Business" guide, which is the publication they use for talking with new businesses and potential new residents. If you'd like a copy of that publication, please let Diana Shiplet know and we will request a few extra from the Chamber.

Oregon Business Development Commission. The Business Development Commission will hold their regular business meeting in Ashland. This Commission oversees the Oregon Business Development Department's activities. This state agency provides a variety of economic development support programs. The meeting will take place on the SOU campus, and I will get more details to you as we have them.

ODOT Open House. CLICK HERE for the flyer that ODOT recently sent to all Ashland addresses about the status of the Exit 14 and 19 bridge replacement projects. In the center of the flyer, you'll see how they are talking about the bicycle signal on the eastbound lane of Exit 14. They also had an open house Thursday evening.

Weekly Project Report. For many other City projects, the weekly project update can be found if you CLICK HERE.

I hope all of you are well, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Martha Bennett, City Administrator

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Quiet Spring Break

It's Spring Break week here in Ashland, which means quiet, quiet, and more quiet. Honestly, it's been nice to get some of the filing and desk cleaning jobs done that have been put off since, well, last spring break. There are a few bits of information you might find interesting:

Jackson County Waste Diversion Days
Properly dispose of household paints and chemicals

Free Latex Paint Drop-off Event
April 30 & May 1, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Drop off your household latex paints for proper disposal. Remember: household latex paints only; this event is not open to business waste or oil based paints. Need some paint? Check out the free re-use table. Jackson County Drop-off sites:
Rogue Disposal & Recycling transfer station, 8001 Table Rock Road, White City, 779-4161,
Recology Ashland Sanitary Service transfer station, 3000 N. Valley View Road, Ashland, 482-1471,

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event
May 7-8, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bring your household hazardous waste to Rogue Disposal Transfer Station, 8001 Table Rock Road. Cost is $5.00 per vehicle. Trade in your mercury thermometer for a digital one at no charge. Acceptable items include: cleaning supplies, batteries, pool and spa chemicals, lead and oil-based paint, paint removers, wood preservatives and light ballasts.
Do NOT bring: fluorescent bulbs, medical or biological waste, explosives, radioactive materials, ammunition, commercial or industrial waste, asbestos, 55 gallon drums, propane tanks, fire extinguishers or other metal tanks. For more information, contact Rogue Disposal at 541-779-4161 or

Thanks to Paige Prewett of the Jackson County SMARTWorks & Jackson County Recycling Partnership for the Waste Diversion Days information.

Did you know you can now follow the City of Ashland on Facebook? If your Facebook homepage is how you get your daily dose of news, you can find City of Ashland news there too. Just search for 'City of Ashland' while on Facebook, or use the link on the City's homepage. We'll soon have Twitter up and running too!

Economic Development
I've had the pleasure of participating in the Economic Development Strategy work, specifically with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). I must say this has been an interesting process thus far. Both the TAC and the Policy Committee have worked very hard to honestly understand both the good and the bad in Ashland's economy. Currently, both groups are working in tandem on creating a definition of Economic Development for Ashland and a Vision Statement for the future of Ashland's economy. They are also just beginning to figure out how to take the leap between what the vision Ashland's future economy and what we (community members, city government, and regional partners) need to do (or not do) to get to that vision. If you have any interest in learning more about the project, check out the economic strategy webpage and all the links on the left-side of the page. If you've got comments or questions on the process contact Councilor Russ Silbiger,, Councilor Kate Jackson or staff member Adam Hanks,

Hope your Spring Break is wonderful!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010

Let Us Know. We've just activated a new feature on our website, called, "Let Us Know." If you spot things the City needs to be aware of like; clogged storm drains, flickering street lights, graffiti, or damaged playground equipment just go to the link on our website ( or click here to let us know!

Food Bank 2009 Report. A few days ago we received a copy of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB) 2009 President's Report. It had some interesting facts I think you should know about. From January 2007 to January 2009, the number of individuals served increased by 145% and from January 2009 to December 2009 that number increased another 46%. By December of 2009, the AEFB has provided a 5-7 day supply of food to a record high 1,479 children and adults.

Many thanks to the people and organizations who donated this year, including, but not certainly not limited to, numerous local churches, The Olde Bagley Orchard in Talent, the Ashland Rotary Club (who created gardens to provide fresh vegetables), the Ashland Food Project, the Ashland Community Food Store (Co-Op), the Ashland Daily Tidings, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, City of Ashland Employees, and the Chaney Family Foundations. In 2009, the AEFB received a total of 188,565 pounds of food. There were over 395 individual volunteers who provided 6,906 hours of community service to the AEFB.

Personally, I think these are amazing statistics. I see both that this recession is an especially challenging time for many people and that, in quite an amazing way, Ashland (and the Rogue Valley) is a very generous community. If you want to volunteer or donate either cash or food to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, call them at 541-488-9544 or stop by the food bank itself at 2200 Ashland Street.