Last week, the White Salmon City Council made two wise investments of its funds.
First, the council voted unanimously to contract with James Hulbert, head of James Hulbert Planning Consultants, to coordinate a fuel-hazard reduction project designed to reduce the danger of wildfires -- especially as it pertains to the danger of fires spreading up the bluff.
Hulbert will lead the planning process that will remove vegetation, thick undergrowth, and small diameter trees that can burn swiftly. By removing these thick fuels, fires that do get started will move more slowly, thus allowing fire crews to have a better chance to prevent a serious incident.
Hulbert's contract is for $25,000, a sum provided in a grant from the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners.
This $25,000 is a minor expense given what is potentially at stake in terms of property loss or danger to residents.
At the same meeting, the city awarded a professional services contract to Lorena Lowell, who will be serving the city as a grants writer through the end of 2004.
Lowell, who is the director of the new Bambinos Learning Center in White Salmon and has a tremendous record of success in securing major grants for a variety of previous clients.
Lowell will be turned loose to try to secure grants for several very important projects that would boost the city's infrastructure. On the list of projects Lowell will be working to gain grants for are the following:
SR 14 wastewater collection trunk line and lift station ($1.7 million estimated cost);
Storm water infrastructure improvements, including land purchase for treatment ponds ($350,000); a storm water line for SE Oak ($403,000); and construction of treatment ponds ($412,000);
Loop water mains that now dead-end (initial cost of $50,400);
Purchase of an all-season 4x4 police patrol vehicle ($25,500);
Street system improvements ($325,000);
Compactor truck storage shelter and wash unit ($170,000);
Purchase of breathable air units for the Fire Department ($22,000).
In her spare time, she might also be asked to secure funding for further development of the Mamie Gaddis Park.
Lowell's contract will pay her $24,000. Obviously, if she is successful in obtaining even one of the grants on her priority list -- and by all accounts she is highly capable -- she has more than paid for her contract.
These two contracts are examples of wise fiscal planning by city government. All the projects above are supremely worthwhile endeavors.
Everyone involved here -- the mayor, city staff, members of the City Council, the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners (for supplying the first phase of the fuel hazard reduction project), and the contractors themselves -- are to be commended. This certainly appears to be money very well spent, and the tangible fruits will be visible to citizens of the community.