WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Toledo water intake project saved. Senator Merkley came through along with a few other folks.

Toledo's Siletz River water intake facility is back on track.  All is well.

Toledo’s Siletz River water intake facility is back on track. All is well.

In this case, it wasn’t darkest before it turned pitch black – it was darkest before the dawn, thanks to Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Congressman Kurt Schrader and Governor Kitzhaber’s Revitalization team. All three came together to ensure that Toledo’s water supply doesn’t suddenly disappear because a federal fisheries agency demands more research on a stretch of river that has been researched thoroughly in the past.

Toledo was recently notified that work on its new water intake facility on the Siletz River would not be allowed to move forward because the U.S. Marine Fisheries Service required a new biological study – even though the new intake is located a stone’s throw away from the old one.

Toledo officials all but panicked knowing that losing a year would violate the bond conditions surrounding the construction.

The city contacted state and federal elected officials who straight-away went to work getting to the bottom of the requirement of further inquiries into an already fully investigated site.

Within a short time, National Marine Fisheries Service changed it’s posture on the project saying that the go ahead will be forthcoming shortly. Toledo certainly hopes so because there is only a July to August window of work allowed under state law within in the Siletz River. Toldeo interim City Manager Don Munkers indicated that he believes they’ll have all permits in hand and construction ready to begin within a few weeks. He said timing will be tight but it should work out.

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The new Siletz water intake should be constructed on budget and on time this summer, followed by the laying of new water pipe from the northwest shore of Olalla Lake to the south shore this fall. Once that’s all tied in, the new water delivery system should run from the Siletz River all the way to Toledo without a hitch.

And on another note, it was announced to the city council Wednesday evening that the city has attracted THIRTY-SIX applicants for Toledo City Manager. Interviews will begin shortly. Among the applicants: Toledo Interim City Manager Don Munkers who the city hired after his stint as city manager of Burns, OR. The city council is expected to begin reviewing the applications in early June.

And finally, the Toledo City Council hired a new Toledo Public Works Director Wednesday evening. He’s Marc Howatt who was most recently the public works director of Molalla, OR, northeast of Salem in the Cascade foothills. Interim City Manager Don Munkers says Molalla is roughly twice the size of Toledo and that Howatt has a wide ranging competence on roads, sewer, water and other public works components. Howatt will start his new job with Toledo June 9th.

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