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Commissioners OK proposal for Millersburg ‘quiet zone’

Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker approved by consensus Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, Roadmaster Wayne Mink’s suggestion to accept a $700,000 grant to develop a railroad crossing “quiet zone” at the request of a Millersburg resident in the Millersburg Drive area.

Since 2005, communities have been allowed to ask for “quiet zones,” which are areas at least a half-mile long where safety gates, flashing lights, bells, warning time indicators and power-out indicators replace the mandatory sounding of warning horns for 15 to 20 seconds at railroad crossings. Horns can still be sounded in emergencies.

Mink said the money comes from the American Rescue Plan at the request of Sen. Sara Gelser-Blouin, D-Corvallis.

Although all three commissioners supported the proposal, Tucker was concerned that such a project would cost more than the $700,000 allocation, possibly as much as $1 million. He said he didn’t want to see county road funds used to make up that difference.

After the meeting, Mink said that the project required cooperation among the Federal Railroad Administration, ODOT Rail and the Road Department.

Grant funds would need to be expended no later than June 30, 2024.

In other business, the commissioners:

♦ Were told by Planning & Building Director Steve Wills that 288 total permits were issued in January, including five building permits for housing – four single-family dwellings and one manufactured dwelling. The department has waived $113,381 in fees for rebuilding projects in the Santiam Canyon wildlife recovery area. Commissioner Sprenger told Wills she was impressed with the quarterly meetings between officials and representatives of communities that contract with the department for permitting and inspections.

♦ Approved a $254,335 grant for the Linn-Benton Radio Improvement Project and another $20,000 grant for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue program, moving money from a checking account.

♦ Approved a $1,200 refund for a construction permit for Karl Lonebeck.

♦ Discussed a Sweet Home homeowner who was long in arrears on property taxes, to the point of foreclosure by the county. The man had experienced some health issues and asked for some time to pay his taxes. By consent the commissioners agreed to give him 30 more days (he is past the six-year deadline) before taking further action.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer