Water infrastructure investment cuts costs
I was glad to see the recent front-page story about the Walla Walla wastewater treatment plant. In the midst of our busy lives, it's easy to take for granted the important services we provide for our community that are so essential to each of us and to our mutual well-being.
About 10 years ago, the city began a $30 million upgrade to the treatment plant, which we're all paying for in monthly installments as part of our utility bills. The result is that the old plant has been transformed from one held together by "chewing gum and a prayer" to the state-of-the-art facility we have today.
As was pointed out by plant manager Willy Brashears, the fact that OMI took over operations in a brand new facility with electronic sensors, network communications capabilities and modern design, meant it could operate with one eight-hour shift rather than the round-the-clock human monitoring that was necessary at the old plant city employees had been running.
Our investment in a new, efficient facility has reduced operating costs, and will continue to do so whether operators are from the public or private sector.
In our world of changing technologies and standards, it's also important plant operators have access to outside technical support. In the case of OMI, the company supplies that assistance. When a treatment plant is operated by public employees, as over 90 percent of Washington state plants are, they also have abundant access to expertise, training and support, which is provided by national, regional and state organizations and agencies that exist for that purpose.
We have high quality potable water coming into our system and clean water going back into Mill Creek, and our new investment in the Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Plan will provide safer and more leak-free connections between them.
Our prudent and important public investment in our water infrastructure is providing us with water and sewage systems that protect our individual health and that of our economy. Congratulations to everyone involved in this service.
Using excess school funds is wise decision
I congratulate the Walla Walla School Board for having the fortitude to do the right thing for both our students and the public's pocketbook instead of playing at politics.
Using a portion of the leftover funds from Edison for radon mitigation at Blue Ridge is a no-brainer. In this economy there is no fluff in the district budget, which would have meant that funds from other programs, materials or scheduled maintenance would have had to be used to pay for the mitigation.
As far as the other improvements that they have allocated the leftover Edison funds for, it's the old "you-can-pay-me- now-or-you-can-pay-me-later" situation. The aged boiler at Pioneer truly could fail at any time. By replacing it in a planned fashion, possible disruptions during the school year are avoided as are additional costs that would occur in an emergency situation.
Both resolving the traffic conflicts at Edison and the improvement of the phone systems at other schools relate to student safety. These are items that need to be addressed at some point regardless. I would much prefer they be taken care of while costs are relatively low - they certainly will rise in the future - and before a child is harmed.
Due to conscientious monitoring of the construction of Edison, the district has excess funds. The taxpayer is not paying any more than they voted for originally and important projects are being accomplished. The School Board in its decision made the best use of taxpayer funds as it should.
Excess bond funds should be returned
On Feb. 6, 2007, we voted on a resolution to build Edison Elementary with a bond issue of $19.5 million.
In Section 2 "proposed improvements to be paid for with bond proceeds."
(a) replacement of Edison Elementary School
(b) the acquisition of all necessary appurtenances, equipment, fixtures and furnishings of foregoing as deemed necessary by the board.
This all pertained to Edison Elementary School. Not one word for other schools or district projects. We voted for Edison Elementary and nothing else.
Proposition No. 1 (same resolution)
"This proposition authorizes the District to replace Edison Elementary with a new school building and pay for other capital improvements; issue $19,500,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 13 years." No other schools or projects mentioned.
I have in hand this Resolution No. 7-2006. I also have the School Board minutes since Sept. 5, 2006. I challenge anybody to find wording of any indication that other projects could come under these minutes or the original resolution. They simply are not there.
We voted on this resolution, 61 percent yes.
Absolutely no permission to use this bond for Green Park, Berney, Pioneer or Garrison.
When all construction is finished there is a surplus of $1.6 million. This is taxpayer money and must be returned to us.
Contrary to good practice, the School Board voted to use all of these funds for projects at four different schools. Wacko!
However, these worthy projects are in my view stolen funds.
This money is not the School Board's to reinvest just because its members have their mitts on them.
The U-B is given a press release stating: "The bond measure ballot language did include provisions to use funds for other district capital projects." This statement is misleading. These funds must be returned to maintain the board's integrity.
How can we buy local?
Today I reached my frustration level of trying to shop locally. I was born and raised here in Walla Walla and we always were taught to buy in the town you live in.
I went to three different stores today to buy a sweatshirt for an upcoming trip. I had absolutely no luck whatsoever, and one of the stores is a locally owned business that does not depend on an out-of-town corporate office for its merchandise.
I find each time I go out to find something, I have no luck. Where is my Target, Costco, JC Penney, the mall - and where do you go to buy a television where you don't have to wait on yourself?
I know, 60 miles down the road to the Tri-Cities.
Unfortunately this time I don't have time to go online or out of town to find an ordinary sweatshirt. So the next time I'm out of town, I will be shopping.
If you want a good merlot, cabernet or white wine, boy, we have that covered all over town.
Unfortunately for we who are ordinary people with ordinary needs, we are in the car and heading out of town.
I feel sorry for the people who spend their advertising dollars telling us to shop locally. I feel their dollars are being wasted. There are a lot of specialty businesses that do not provide the basics a lot of people are looking for.
I really would like to have a choice of merchandise when I shop locally. Until then, the Tri-Cities or the Internet is how I have to shop. And I feel badly. I want to support the town I live in, and I can't.