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.