DLWID: Board sees one incumbent, two newcomers elected

Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 9:21 pm | Updated: 11:23 pm, Tue May 19, 2015.
By Paul Christiansen – The News Guard

With 99 percent of the votes counted for the May 19 special election, three candidates running for positions on the Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board — and running under the “Save Devils Lake” slogan — look to have won in a landslide.

For DLWID Board Position 1, incumbent Kent Norris had secured a total of 1,115 votes as of 11:23 p.m., beating out the 671 votes for Susan Russo.

DLWID Board Position 2 will now be filled by Tina French, who as of 11:23 p.m. had a tallied 1,116 votes over incumbent Randy Weldon’s 696.

Bill Sexton, the only DLWID candidate to run in an uncontested race, secured 1,373 votes as of 11:23 p.m.

The three “Save Devils Lake” candidates all said they’re looking forward to coming together with sitting board members Brian Green and David Skirvin and DLWID Lake Manager Paul Robertson to make some positive change for the lake’s future.

“I think that the board in general, as well as the new elected candidates, have the same goals in mind to make sure the lake is at its best,” Norris said. “It’s just that we all have a different approach to things. I hope to move forward with those different approaches and engage the board in a way we can all cooperate to do some positive things for the lake and its people.”

Sexton said his “first and foremost” goal is to establish a positive direction for the lake’s future.

“In the past we have had some difficulty seeing that positive direction, but hopefully with this new addition to the board we can accomplish that relatively easily with the community’s support,” Sexton said. “It’ll be interesting to see where this will take us from here.”

Ultimately, the new elections to the board — with commanding vote differentials — show that the public is making their voices heard, French said.

It’s now time for the elected officials to listen to their constituents, she said.

“We want to listen to the people, but I feel like the current board wants to exclude the homeowners on Devils Lake from that discussion,” French said. “They should have a voice, and it does need to be considered with the environmental, recreational and economical factors.

“That’s what we all love about Devils Lake,” she said. “It’s a great environmental body of water that provides recreational opportunities and millions of dollars to the community. We have to proceed from here by taking all those things into considerations before we make any decisions.”

All the elected candidates said they plan to get to work cleaning up the algae blooms and sludge from Devils Lake when they take office July 1.

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DLWID Board Vote to Relinquish 1/3 of Water Right

The DLWID Board last night voted 4-1 to abandon one third of the volume (147 million gallons) and 2 months of the duration of the District’s valuable water right. The Board also voted 4-1 to begin the permitting process for the removal of the D-River dam that is used to exercise that water right.

These ill advised motions were proposed by Board Chair Brian Green who along with members David Skirvin, Randy Weldon, and Kip Ward passed the motion.

Board member Kent Norris encouraged fellow board members to consider the overwhelming and nearly unanimous (2 spoke in favor) voices of the 120 citizens in attendance. His motion to instruct Lake Manager Paul Robertson to take action to preserve the District’s water right for the next 5 year period failed by the same margin.

Mr Norris also forwarded an offer by a prominent Oregon State University engineering professor to assist the District in quantify the impact of various options for the D-River, which could be used by the Board in making a more informed decision at a later date. He noted that the District had no idea what impact their decisions would have on the lake ecosystem, lake users or the local economy as they have had no assessment perform on the project. Board members failed to recognize or even discuss the offer.

Unbelievable, is most common reaction by people who have recently learned about this total disregard of the public process by these four members of the DLWID Board. Thank you Mr. Norris for your professional domineer and genuine concern for the members of the community that took the time to leave their home and share their thoughts on this important decision Thursday night.  The DLNA is accessing the situation to determine the best course of action.

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DLWID Candidates Announce

The Race for DLWID Board Begins

There are three positions up for election on May 19.  DLWID Board positions 1,2, and 3 are available.  As of this writing three candidates are hoping to change the current board with Bill Sexton, Tina French and Kent Norris who recently was appointed. Several of the candidates provided us an introduction to their campaign, we still await a response from others. So we have provided what we could while we wait for a response from each candidate.

Bill Sexton

donate-2Bill Sexton has been working on Devils Lake since 1985.   That’s 35 years of navigating and coming to know this lake since the days when it was choked with weeds. With his work experience he knows and has worked with all the agencies involved with its management, from federal level on down; all of their requirements and permitting processes. Bill has also been a volunteer firefighter for Lincoln City for the past 18 years,  3 years serving as Association president. Bill states that his primary goal in becoming a candidate for a board position on the DLWID is to see that the mission statement written in its by-laws is fulfilled as originally intended.
Kent Norris

Kent-Donate-2Kent is a recently retired science educator that understands the science of the lake and how to apply this to the analysis and decision making of the Board.  He has the collaborative experience to engage residents, regulatory agencies, and the business community to achieve a balanced set of goals for Devils Lake.  Kent recently brought state and federal regulatory agencies together, in a joint effort with his neighbor, on their lakefront properties to reach agreement on their waterfront restoration, protection, and enhancement project prior to the permitting process. Kent feel that the DLWID Board should be a resource for its users and residents.

 Tina French

Tint-DonateTina was born and raised in Lincoln City.  Devils Lake was her playground every summer.  She had every birthday party at Sand Point Park until she was 14 years old.  After college she moved back to Lincoln City.  She and husband Lonnie now have two children who love the lake as much as she did as a child. Tina assumed leadership as president of North Lincoln Sanitary Service in 1991 and looks forward to applying her experience in environmental management  through her service on the Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board.  Tina feels that taking care of our lake is a natural extension of good ecological stewardship of our community.

Randy Weldon Currently serves on the Devils Lake Water Improvement District board. Current proposals include lifejacket station, and removal of the D-River dam.

Susan Russo campaign-statement-photo-susan-russo-(1)Susan has lived in Lincoln City since 1996 with her husband Rob Russo and daughter Savannah. They have enjoyed many of the water activities that D-Lake has to offer, such as jet skiing, wake boarding, tubing and Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Susan has worked as a Salem Hospital nurse for the past 20yrs and has a Bachelors of Science in both Microbiology and Nursing. Her initiative to run for the DLWID Board stems from her desire to maintain and improve the quality of Devils Lake for all community members, wildlife and the environment. She feels that she will bring a nice balance to the Board, as a non-lakefront property owner that has a strong science background. She is known as someone who is not set in her ways, a problem solver, finds creative ways to get things done, thinks outside the box and is willing to listen to and consider all options and opinions. She looks forward to focusing her time and energy on the DLWID Board and the community needs. Her goal is to honor the mission statements of the DLWID.

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Time for that Dam Decision

Mark Your Calendar Public Hearing
April 9th, 2015 6:00pm

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District will hold a Public Hearing as part of its April 9, 2015 meeting. The meeting will start at 6pm and will be held at Lincoln City Council Chambers, 801 SW Hwy 101, 3rd Floor, Lincoln City, Oregon 97367.

fish_out_of_water“The purpose of the Devils Lake Water Improvement District public hearing will be for the board to take public input on the potential replacement of the impoundment structure otherwise known as the dam and the overall managed use and/or continuance of the District’s Water Right Certificate 69267, Permit to Appropriate the Public Waters #52672, and Permit to Store the Public Waters #R-11968.”

The Association has been informed that representatives from the District participated in a pre-application meeting to discuss the regulatory requirements of such a project.  Representative from the Department of State Lands, NOAA, DEQ, the National Forest Service, and the EPA were in attendance.

We might be able to support a well thought out improvement to the current dam, one that has been publicly vetted, is professionally engineered, has been reviewed by the required State and Federal agencies and has received all required permits.  That is not what we have here. This board feels it can remove the existing structure prior to receiving approvals to install a replacement.  There is a high potential that a replacement structure could see long delays while attempting to receive the required approvals, or it could be denied outright.  In fact, this year the District has placed their water right at risk; by not fully impounding the lake the past four seasons, all it takes is a few months delay and they will lose their water right forever.

From the highlight above you can see that this may be their intent all along, hence the phase “or continuance” in the quote from the March staff report.

How important is this meeting? We also know from past experience this board will likely take action at this meeting.  Action which could have dire consequences on summertime recreation on Devils Lake forever.

Please put this important meeting on your calendar.  We need you to attend and send a message to this board.  We have had as many as 140 at a meeting we need 280 or more.  Don’t leave spouses, family or friends behind.  Come fill the room and overflow into the hallway! Force a second public hearing and make them think twice. Buy us some time. I know we keep asking but we really need your help. Come one, Come all.

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DLNA 3rd of July Fireworks Spectacular!

Here We Go Again!

Announcing the Second Annual Devils Lake Neighborhood Association Fireworks display.

Fireworks Display
Date: Friday July 3rd
Time: 9:30 PM

The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association is proud to announce the Second Annual DLNA fireworks display. Mark your calendar and begin making big plans. The Association is once again working with Western Fireworks who will come to Devils Lake and put on a spectacular show.  Our show will be held on Friday July 3rd beginning at 9:30pm last 20-30 minutes and include some very special displays. Of course we’ll have another boat parade prior the evening’s big display!

This spectacular show will be launched off a barge centrally located on the lake near Brown Bear Park, and will be clearly visible from D River Wayside, Regatta Park and Sand Point Park.

Please contact Max Hanson at maxh@siskiyouins.net or 541 994-7771 with your interest in helping out with this fun event.

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Attend DLWID March Board Meeting

Special Date – March 5th, 2015 6:00pm

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting will be held a week early on Thursday March 5th at 6:00pm. The meeting will be held in the City Hall Council Chambers, which are located on the third floor of City Hall. We need you, the homeowners, to attend once again to make it clear to the DLWID Board that the District needs to involve the community in their decision making process.

The Board’s agenda continues to consider the replacement of the water impoundment devices (the dam) this month.  They had directed the Lake Manager to hire a consultant to gather supporting data for dam removal to present at a future public hearing. (see related article)

Agenda

Staff Reports

Minutes

Also on the docket for this month action on the Lake Managers recommendation to authorize proceeding with a direct appointment for an engineering plan and general report for an aeration/oxidation project for Devils Lake not to exceed $30,000 without additional approvals.

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February DLWID Board Report

There were several important items on the Board’s agenda including the replacement of the water impoundment device (the dam). This item was brought forward by Director Randy Weldon in the November 2014 meeting. The proposal was to first remove the current dam and then try some other structure such as sandbags or water-filled flood control tubes.  The second large topic for the night was the consideration of the RFP for the aeration project.

Lake Level

Do we have an image problem.  This was Kylo's drink special tonight. The Devils Lake!

Do we have an image problem. This was Kylo’s drink special tonight. The Devils Lake!

The Blue Heron Marina brought a show and tell session with the District Board. They displayed the dozen plus propellers that were damaged by low water conditions that now exist in the summer under the new lake levels approved by the Board.  He requested that the if the District is going to continue to keep the current policy perhaps they could work toward marking low water areas and other submarine dangers to prevent damage to boats and potential injury.

Dam Removal

DLNA commented on the proposed removal of the impoundment structure.  We stated that the proposed removal of the Dam seems to be justified by concerns over the sandbar which exists at the mouth of the river. We feel that the discussions related to this project have had little to do with the actual sandbar and have been primarily focused on the dam.

Perhaps the project should be renamed the “sandbar abatement project”?  From that perspective the District might come up with a different set of potential solutions to the problem rather than the single threaded view currently on the table.

We don’t disagree with a review or thought process related to the sandbar. We do question the timing and urgency of the proposed solution (dam removal).  Why does the District feel this must be done prior to this year’s impoundment?

We know from testimony last month that the sandbar has been a constant fixture in the river since the 30’s and beyond. The City has removed sand from the area in the years prior to the District’s existence; they have split the responsibility in later years.  At one time a large beach was created in the small park located at that location from the tailings of the dredging process.

We recommend that first and foremost the District should address the water right and the need to impound to 9.53’ for at least one day this year by installing the impoundment structure early enough in the season to be successful. This is the final year in the five year cycle.  This must be done in order to preserve our water right.  Let’s check off that requirement first.

After completing this important step, a study could be run and/or trials on particular solutions to reducing the sandbar.  We also felt that they should not forget the potential of dredging which has been discussed by the board but never seriously considered as an option for fear that the permitting process may be too complex.

The Lake Manager stated that he was working with  George Drake who is the from PBS Engineering + Environmental and is asking for a bid to study the project.  The information would be presented in the April Board meeting during a public hearing on the subject.  The Board did not discuss the project, not one word.

Aeration Project

The second topic that we discussed tonight is related to the aeration project RFP which did not receive a single bids by the January deadline.  We felt that a possibly reason for this was more related to issues with the RFP than the project.  Interesting this RFP was not for an actual project but only a call for qualifications, were not that sure why that was the approach, but its how the district approached it.

There were three responses from interested firms as to why the RFP was not bid.  You can review those at this link.  The following is an excerpt that is representative of the comments provided.

There were three constraints that gave us problems:

“Certification of Proposer’s willingness to acquire a performance bond as part of any potential contract that might arise from this solicitation providing for the successful project completion as designed meeting the described outcomes within the Scope of Work particularly relative to achieving the Chlorophyll a standard of 15 ug/L, a pH of 6.5 to 8.5, and the elimination of water contact advisories associated with Harmful Algal Blooms.” P. 14 of the RFP.  

We do not believe that it is possible to design a system that can live up to these guarantees without extremely high construction costs and contingencies to insure against a costly penalty. Bonding companies are unwilling to provide indemnity for work that could be significantly impacted by weather (number of sunny days, storm water flows, plant die off due to herbicide applications by others) and other factors well beyond the contractor’s control. If a claim on a bond were made, the contractor would put their bonding relationship and personal finances in jeopardy for a bet against bad weather. If a claim on a bond was made, the surety would have incredible difficulty stepping into the defaulted contractors position to accept these guarantees.

“The  General  Report  to  accompany  the  Engineering  Plan  shall  identify  all necessary Improvements including but not limited to, permits and easements and the associated costs of, and timeline for acquiring such.” P.2

We believed that this requirement would likely require relocating a full time staff member for an extended period of time (months) to identify and research all permits, easements, and to gain familiarity with the various agencies involved.  Had the District provided some direction as to which properties were potentially available, and whom to contact, this may have not been such a large roadblock.

“Works and Improvements related to this Engineering Plan and General Report, the Consultant will be prohibited from bidding on such.” P.23

Our company views engineering, construction, and maintenance roles for water bodies as a continuum. In contrast to a commercial building that can generally be handed off between architect, contractor, and janitor – a lake is a living ecosystem that sometimes does not respond favorably to handoffs.  While the design was an enticing opportunity, we would not want to preclude ourselves from the construction activity, the phase which represents the largest part of our company’s revenues.  

The staff proposed four options related to this project; split out j the engineering from the construction and bid separately, redraft the RFP’s with less stringent requirements and resubmit for bid, directly assign the engineering portion without RFP, or abandon the project in favor to longer term measures.

We advocated to redraft the RFP and create a second round of bidding.  The Board discussed options including a two phased approach or a trial on a smaller scale that the entire lake.  Then the Lake Manager began to speak and continued for 45 minutes.  In the end the Board decided to proceed with the redrafting of the RFP for review in the next meeting.

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