New Sodaville administrator takes the helm

Brandi Libra poses for a photo after accepting her new position as city administrator/recorder for Sodaville on March 21. Photos by Sarah Brown

The Sodaville City Council hired a new city administrator/recorder during its March 21 meeting.

Brandi Libra, of Lebanon, will replace Alex McHaddad, who’s served the city for the past two years.

During his time in Sodaville, McHaddad updated the city’s resolutions and ordinances dating as far back as the 1950s, and made all of them available digitally online. According to him, some of the ordinances that were updated during his term included amending the administrator’s pay structure (which was still on record as $6 a month), removing a ban on skateboarding and obliterating a law that criminalized offenses against “public morals,” which, McHaddad said, eludes to racial and sexual biases.

“That kind of decay in our order was (because) you have all these laws on the books since the 1950s, nobody’s taking care to read them, (so) you wind up with all sorts of things happening,” he said.

Outgoing city administrator Alex McHaddad discusses steps the city must take to acquire a new well.

After former administrator Judy Smith, who was in the position for a number of years, moved away in 2021, four different people filled the role until McHaddad was hired in March 2022. Prior to Sodaville, he managed a special district (“the only television translator district in Oregon”), and has worked in government and public policy “in one form or fashion” since 2011.

“Alex has been a really good asset to the city,” said Councilor Roger Perry, who’s served on the council in a number of capacities since the 1980s.

He helped straighten out the city’s water fund deficits, Perry said, and even reduced his work hours this year to help reduce costs to the city.

McHaddad will be moving to Elgin, Ore., to serve as the city’s administrator/recorder for a population of approximately 1,700.

Libra was born and raised in Lebanon, with a brief stint in central Oregon. Her experience includes working with Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, operating her own rental cleaning business, property management, realty, store owner and city recorder for the City of Waterloo. She participated in the Lebanon Optimist Club, New Business Generation and Lebanon Strawberry Festival, and is a Lebanon Chamber Ambassador.

Libra continues to work as Waterloo’s city recorder, as a realtor and as owner of Waterloo Country Store. She has five children.

In other business:

◆ The council approved a three percent raise for Public Works Director JD Burns;

◆ McHaddad updated the council on the process to install a new well;

◆ Burns reported an 11.86% loss of water for the past month. He doesn’t know why there was such a big loss, but suspects it might be related to the recent cleaning of the system.

◆ Burns informed the council of an opportunity for the city to join ORWARN (Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network), a no-cost partnership with other municipal members that would assist Sodaville with water and wastewater issues in emergencies. For more information, visit https://orwarn.org/about.aspx.

Public Works Director JD Burns shares pictures of a new emergency supply storage organized by Sand Ridge Charter School.

◆ The council agreed to donate $200 to Sand Ridge Charter School for supplies to the school’s new emergency supply cache, which will be made available to city residents in a city-wide emergency. The cache will have items such as a generator, food, water, water cleaning systems, toilet paper and more.

◆ McHaddad informed the council the city attorney is closing their business and the city will begin looking for a replacement. The council approved a motion to issue a request for proposal.

◆ McHaddad reported the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG) asked for a donation for the Meals on Wheels program. The council decided to decline the invitation for the time-being, given the state of the city finances and the fact only one Sodaville resident uses the program.

◆ The council approved a resolution to transfer the bimonthly LGIP reserve funds into the city’s reserve account, and transfer $5,031.34 in ODOT funding from the reserve account into the operating account to pay for expenses in the streets program.

◆ The council adopted a corrective action plan for the city’s audit.