Wallowa City revitalization plans have taken a hit with the resignation of city council member and Wallowa Hometown Project spearhead Garrett Lowe. Lowe announced his resignation at a special meeting last Tuesday, citing health concerns. Lowe also resigned from the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority.
“I consider my time serving the citizens of Wallowa as a privilege and one of my greatest opportunities,” Lowe said. “It has been an honor to serve with you and beside you.”
No replacement for Wallowa Hometown Project has been announced. The city will seek a new council member to fill Lowe’s position.
City administration was also frustrated by the disappearance of paperwork. Back Achers, the second-hand, recycled, wholesale goods business on Douglas Street in Wallowa is seeking to renew their five-year lease of the “business incubator” building on the site of the old finger-joint mill. The county originally purchased the property with a $310,000 USDA rural development grant. Community Smallwoods was the original tenant at the site in 2008.
The incubator site was later transferred to the city, and original usage rules are in still in effect. Back Achers owners Ben and JoAnn Deal said the city leased the 9,000 square-foot building they use and surrounding property for five years with a five-year renewable option. However, the city cannot find the original paperwork in their archives and neither can USDA offices in Pendleton.
The issue of the extended lease was continued to Aug. 15 regular meeting while City Attorney Roland Johnson searches for a copy of the grant agreement in county files.
City administration received a progress report on the solid waste transfer station. Johnson announced that he had gotten confirmation that the Department of Environmental Quality would accept Rahn Sanitary Service as a leasee of the city transfer site. Rahn Sanitary asked for a one-year trial period to determine if the deal hammered out with the city would be profitable.
The city approved a free lease agreement for a one-year trial period of services, an exclusive franchise with fees approved by the city and a termination clause of 60 days. Johnson will produce a simple lease agreement to that effect by the Aug. 15 regular city council meeting. Both Joseph and Enterprise have already agreed to exclusive franchise with Rahn. Potential rate increases, which Johnson described as historically “pretty modest,” will have to come before the council for approval.