A noisy generator at the Joseph fire station returned for discussion at the city council meeting Nov. 1.

Scott Reinhardt confronted the chief about a whining noise emitted by the department’s generator. Reinhardt said that the noise bothered both him and his dog and neighbors. He added that complaints to the city three months ago went unheeded.

“It should not take three months to fix something like that for any good electrician or controls guy,” he said.

Joseph Fire Chief Jeff Wecks, who is an electrician, explained that the parts were hard to find. Reinhardt suggested the department replace the generator. Wecks said the city didn’t have the $60,000 to purchase a new unit.

Wecks said the generator came to the city from the Department of Defense and had been around awhile. Reinhardt suggested a sound barrier. Wecks said he could teach Reinhardt and the neighbor to shut off the alarm, which seemed to mollify Reinhardt.

Another citizens, Bud Rayburn, told the council that during a visit to city hall around two months back, he had talked with someone who showed him Facebook photos of a Wallowa Lake diving excursion by Blue Mountain Divers. The lake is the city’s main drinking water supply. The pictures showed debris littering the bottom of the lake.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality had been notified and Rayburn obtained a copy of the state’s report. The divers reported finding at least two barrels –– one labeled 2,4,5-T, a herbicide. Another barrel carried a 2,4-D label, another herbicide.

The combination of those two agents produced Agent Orange, a controversial herbicide used during the Vietnam War.

The divers also took pictures of the labels, which were in 85 feet of water and within 200 feet of the boat docks northeast of the marina. The divers noted the barrels were intact.

They did not disturb the barrels. The divers also found numerous vehicle parts, tires, semi-truck batteries and assorted other trash.

According to Rayburn, the reports indicate the state tested the soil beneath the barrels and gave it a clean bill of health. Rayburn said he wasn’t sure what to believe.

“In all this, they say that they assume there is no chance of contamination,” he said. “How can those barrels sink? ... Do those barrels have the stuff in them or don’t they?”

Mayor Teresa Sajonia asked Rayburn to bring a copy of the information to city hall. He said after 35 years of residence, he was concerned about the city’s water quality, including taste and smell. He also stated that a city employee had run a camera through his water line and it contained freshwater clams.

The session ended after a mere 75 minutes, probably a record.

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