Friday, October 28, 2011/lk
Jumping into council priorities and the fire department situation will be first order of business for Jeff Helfrich, Randy Holmstrom, Gail Lewis and Mark Storm, the newest members of Cascade Locks City Council.
The quartet was appointed Monday by Council Members Lance Masters, Eva Zerfing and Tom Cramblett.
Holmstrom served on council from 1999-2006, and Lewis and Helfrich ran for council in 2010.
The new council members will be sworn in at a special meeting as early as next Tuesday, according to Paul Koch, the city's interim city administrator. (At least one of the new appointees is currently out of town, and Koch said he is working to firm up the schedule; see the Oct. 29 edition of Hood River News for details.)
Cramblett, Zerfing and Masters are the remaining three members following the Sept. 20 recall election that put former Mayor George Fischer and former council members Tiffany Pruit, Kevin Benson and Don Haight out off office.
"They stayed with the open, transparent approach," said Koch in response to the actions taken by existing council members throughout the appointment process. "You may disagree with what they did, but they kept it open and stayed with their plan to do so."
Ten of the 11 applicants were interviewed Oct. 19 and Oct. 24 in open session. Also applying were Cindilee Baseman, Glenda Groves, William Logue, Bradley Lorang, Richard Randall, Michael "Cody" Steelman and Bobby Walker. (Logue did not appear for an interview.)
The next scheduled council meeting will be Nov. 14. The newly formed council will nominate and vote in one of its members to serve as mayor; the new mayor will serve through December 2012, finishing the term started by Fischer, who was elected in November 2010.
Also on the agenda will be the fire and emergency services department, Koch's contract and the current list of council priorities.
The fire department is currently led by Chief Zerfing, on a volunteer, part-time basis. A bare-bones crew of volunteers is staffing the department, after most of the volunteers either quit or took a leave of absence in July and August following the resignation of former chief Jeff Pricher.
Koch said he will present the council with the set of priorities adopted in early August by the former council. The new council can adopt the priorities, revise them or start over, according to Koch.
The top two priorities as they now stand are resolving the fire and emergency services department crisis and revising the city budgeting process.
Koch said the council members and appointees know that the city has been preparing for a budget process to start in January with two community meetings.
He added that all council members, current and newly appointed, have agreed to undergo a council training regimen, to start next month.