City council talking trees

   PRIEST RIVER—After deciding at last council meeting that they would get rid of the trees in front of city hall and the police department, the Priest River City Council did a tour of the downtown area Monday night to revisit plans. There are 26 trees downtown that were planted in 1990 but have overgrown their spots and make a mess each fall when they drop their seeds.

   City crews already took care of the four trees in front of the city buildings except for the tree trunks.

   The Chamber of Commerce, Lion’s Club and Logging group sponsored the trees several decades ago and names are on the grates around each tree.

   Mayor Jim Martin suggested they speak with business owners on High and Main Street to get their thoughts on proceeding with the removals and get ideas such as lights or something to replace.

   In other council business, they approved a general fee schedule amendment and copies are on file at city hall. One change was for peddlers and solicitors.

   Businessman Roger Gregory was on hand to share several thoughts about fees and water overage charges but began with thanking the council for the upgrades on the water system and the ongoing paving.

   “This is very positive for our town and improves the looks of Priest River. Chris and Bill are really great to work with. You say you like people to have nice looking yards but then charge for an overage on water, thus discouraging people from watering. It’s a detriment to keeping things look nice. I also want to know why our new hook up fees are so high here? I have checked Sandpoint and theirs are $14,000 but Sandpoint has money. Oldtown and Newport is $8,000 but we are $12,644. We’re the only city that has an impact fee. I think we need to look at eliminating some of these because it discourages people from building,” Gregory said.

   Councilman Jeff Connolly agreed that it’s been probably five years since they visited the fee schedule and maybe it doesn’t apply now. “I think we need to rediscuss it and I would join Roger in being on a citizen committee about it, as I am sure Chris and Bill would like to be involved,” Connolly said.

   Barry Black from the Kootenai County Juvenile Prosecutors Office came to explain their program for runaways and answer any questions. The Priest River Police Department had approached the council with an ordinance addressing runaways (ordinance #552).

   “I wear two hats here between what is best for the city and my regular job in the probation office for the county. I don’t want to get the city involved in something that is hard on the county,” Mayor Martin said.

Lots of information was shared about helping both parents, the runaways and the strain on resources for the police department to deal with the issue. Representatives from the state and county are scheduled to be in  Priest River on Wednesday to work out solutions with the police department and city.

   Roberts honored officer Nick Eylar with his Intermediate POST Certification in front of the council and thanked him for his hard work.

   Welch Comer representatives were on hand to give an update of the water treatment plant and stated that work is almost done with a small amount of projects to be completed this week. The projects are under budget, but the council approved to pay outstanding fees to Earthworks NW of $36,726 and $138,893. A workshop to announce the final tally and what monies are left for spring work and what would be on that list will be given by the end of the month.

   “I’m glad the construction is wrapping up. There’s a lot of work that has been done for the community,” Mayor Martin said.

   The council approved a temporary modification of open container ordinance for Saturday’s Oktoberfest celebration by the Priest River Chamber of Commerce.

   The council passed Ordinance 554 to redesignate the Urban Renewal Board of Commissioners as the city council with short meetings planned once a month.

   The next council meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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