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Bid solicitations approved for Phase 1 of Sweet Home treatment plant

By Benny Westcott
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

The Sweet Home City Council voted unanimously Aug. 9 to allow staff to solicit bids for Phase One of the Mahler Water Reclamation Facility Improvements Project.

The city has been in design for wastewater treatment plant capacity and process improvements to meet Department of Environmental Quality requirements since 2018. The project includes improvements to every step of the treatment process, according to a request for council action submitted by Engineering Technician Trish Rice.

The project has been split into three phases to meet the June 30, 2023, deadline for use of a $7,000,000 allocation from the state.

The Phase One construction contract includes demolition of abandoned buildings on the wastewater treatment plant’s upper site, construction of a new influent pump station and main electrical and blower building, underground piping on the upper site – which will be connected to Phase Two process installations – and construction of the access road and retaining wall.

The engineer’s estimate for the construction contract is $6.4 million with a recommended 10% contingency reserve for change orders.

Phase One also includes purchasing owner-supplied electrical equipment, including the backup generator, switchgear, motor control centers and the control system software’s associated components, at an estimated cost of $2.4 million.

Rice said that the electrical equipment will be installed during Phase Two, but it needs to be ordered now with lead times currently running at 60 weeks or more.

The bid posting will be advertised immediately upon completion of the contractor pre-qualification process no later than Aug. 18. Bids will close Sept. 14.

The contract award is anticipated to come before the council for approval in October, with groundbreaking on the project set for November.

In other action:

♦ The council voted unanimously to authorize staff to advertise a special inspections and testing services request for proposal for the Mahler Water Reclamation Facility Improvements Project.

Rice’s request for council action noted that special inspections are required for such facilities projects to assure compliance with project specifications and state building codes, above and beyond the routine inspections conducted by city or West Yost Associates engineering staff and by the building official.

She said that examples of inspections and tests requiring specialized equipment and knowledge include base rock compaction; rebar, steel and concrete; and application of protective coatings.

West Yost prepared the request for proposal to assist the city with selecting a contractor specializing in such inspections and testing that will serve for construction phases one and two. The contractor will be contracted with the city and be independent of the construction contractor.

Proposals are due Sept. 8. The contract award is anticipated to come before the council in late September or early October, prior to the Mahler WRF Improvements Project groundbreaking.

Benny Westcott
Police Chief Jeff Lynn, left, welcomes new police officer Cody McPherson, right, who grew up in Sweet Home and graduated from Western Oregon University with a bachelor’s degree in business. “He’s a numbers guy,” Lynn said. “We are ecstatic to have him as our newest member.” The hire brings the department to full capacity.

♦ New officer Cody McPherson was sworn into the Sweet Home Police Department. Police Chief Jeff Lynn said that the hire brings the department up to full staff.

“It’s been a long road to walk up, and we’re finally here,” he said.

McPherson grew up in Sweet Home and attended Western Oregon University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business, with a focus in accounting.

“He’s a numbers guy, which is fantastic,” Lynn said. “We are ecstatic to have him as our newest member of the department. We’re excited about this opportunity and look for great things from Cody.”

♦ The council voted unanimously to award a contract for $663,865.27 to Corvallis-based Trench Line Excavation, Inc. for street restoration overlay and corner ramp replacements, as well as replacing waterlines and services and adding fire hydrants on 9th Avenue between Cedar Street and Oak Terrace, as well as Grape Street and Catalpa Street off 9th Avenue.

The project will be funded with American Rescue Plan Act funds, as per previous council direction to allocate $1 million to the city’s small diameter replacement program. However, Grape Street requires an alternative funding source. So, as part of its vote, the council allocated $45,000 in streets overlay funds to complete that pavement project.

♦ The council voted unanimously to authorize staff to amend an intergovernmental agreement with Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG) for recruitment services in hiring the city’s next city manager. In March, the council decided to use OCWCOG in an amount not to exceed $4,500.

However, following the first round of interviews, the council wished to continue the recruitment to gain additional applicants. OCWCOG advertised the position a second time, adding costs to the original contract, plus additional travel costs and staff time for the second round of interviews. The amended contract outlines that these additional services will not exceed a cost of $1,500 to the city.

♦ The council unanimously approved Northside Park property line adjustments that would convert the park from six separate tax lots to one. A request for council action submitted by Associate Planner Angela Clegg stated that if the park remained in split parcels, some of its future projects may cross multiple lot lines. Making the park one property, she added, would simplify deliveries, site planning and permitting.

Currently, she noted, “Due to the number of parcels that make up the park, references in site plans and permitting could get mislabeled. Reducing the number of parcels would improve and simplify all development and grant application processes.”

In March 2021, city staff became aware of a private donor wanting to install a dog park. Staff asked if Northside Park would make a desirable location, to which the donor agreed.

It was determined at the January Park and Tree Committee meeting that the 2022-2023 parks budget would focus on improving Northside Park.

Combining six tax lots into one would require filing recording documents with Linn County. City staff anticipated that the fees for that process would be below $500.

♦ Councilor Dave Trask expressed frustration about the city requesting filing extensions for its annual audits in recent years.

He said he called the Secretary of State’s office, where representatives directed him to the Oregon Audits Division. From this research he found that in 2018, an extension was made for the city’s audit. He said it was “put off” until Feb. 19, 2019, when, without the extension, it would have been due Dec. 30, 2018. The extension was requested again in 2019, he added.

“They are supposed to be there Dec. 30,” he said, “and that one did not make it either.”

He noted that in 2021, the city asked for an extension until February 2022.

“Until a few days ago,” he said, “it had still not been given to the auditors.”

He detailed some of the consequences the city faced if it missed the deadline.

“They can take away our funding from the state,” he said. “That’s pretty important to us. They could take away the $7 million that they’ve offered to us. This is just not acceptable, in my opinion. I think that the council needs to make sure that from now on, we need to be more involved in this, so that we know when it’s supposed to be there, how it gets there, and where we are at certain points.”

Councilor Dylan Richards “completely agreed” with Trask.

“When I first got on the council, I had asked [former City Manager Ray Towry] several different times about if the audit was going to be finished or anything, and he told me it was all done,” he said. “So I don’t understand where all this has happened or what has caused all of this.”

“I was disappointed,” Trask said. “It just shouldn’t happen.”