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A large crowd greeted the Salmon City Council at its May 19th meeting.

The council was aware of why so many people were in attendance and that it had to do with the Sacajawea Center. Councilman Ron Radford referred to the email being circulated and said “It looks like you got a lot more people out than we did when we was trying to figure out how to spend $4 million for the sewer.”

Radford is a member of the Sacajawea Center Committee and that evening he was appointed as committee chairman. He defined his comments as personal feelings not necessarily those of the council and said he believes the council as a whole is not against the Sacajawea Center. He indicated it is more a matter of trying to fund everything that needs funding. He said the existing city parks cost a lot to maintain and that cost is carried by city taxpayers. Recounting other issues at hand Radford said city residents have been hurt by the city’s need to raise water and sewer rates; there is a $6.4 million water treatment plant bill to pay and efforts are being made to avoid going into debt for needed upgrades to the sewer plant.

Radford commended contracted city employees who last year turned down the three percent raise that was due them. He said he felt that was very thoughtful.

Radford mentioned needed repairs to city streets and said there are many other things with which the city is dealing. He thanked those in attendance and invited helpful suggestions.

Councilman Bud Bartlett referred to a letter received by the city and said its authors did not give any credit what so ever to the city or council. He noted the $240,000 Sacajawea Center debt the city voted to absorb two years ago and he praised the center’s director, Angie Hurley, for her use of the HUD grant which funded the new Learning Center as well as sewer and water line connections to the Sacajawea Center.

Thanks to the new lines several businesses in the area have been connected and the city has been able to disconnect the City Park swimming pool from an old well and reconnect it to city water.

Councilman Jim Kluesner agreed with what had been said, Councilman Jim Baker passed on his turn to speak and Councilman Ken Gutzman said, “No comment.”

Mayor John Miller said he found the letter degrading to the council and the mayor. He quoted the letter as saying several councilmen ran for office on a platform of closing or reducing services at the Sacajawea Center and that they seemed to view it as a rest stop for tourists who happen to be in Salmon for some other reason.

Miller said the center is just one part of the city’s budget issues and added, “…if these people ran on that platform and they got elected, apparently the majority of the people agreed with them.” Miller acknowledged the center has been a touchy topic for a very long time. “What I really don’t appreciate is this little letter running around rallying the revolution’s support of the Sacajawea Center when the people on the other side aren’t being given the opportunity to be here and voice their opinion.” He said using that approach made the discussion one sided.

Another Roundtable topic was whether or not any progress has been made on the city’s Watershed Protection Plan.

The community’s water supply comes from a watershed located above the city in very rugged terrain currently filled with beetle kill timber and very difficult for firefighters to defend. City Administrator George Ambrose told the council the city had applied for a grant to fund the writing of a Source Water Protection Plan. It has recently been denied by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Ambrose said the city needs to have that protection plan in place.

Miller said he has spoken with the Forest Service regarding access to that area so it can be cleaned of down, dying and dead timber. He said the clean-up is necessary to prevent the new waste water treatment plant from being ruined in the event of a forest fire. He said he was told the agency is working on it. Miller said the Forest Service is aware of the problem, the city is aware of it and the Governor is aware of it. He said the last mayor [Stan Davis] even declared the watershed a disaster area but as yet, nothing has been done. An update will be sought.

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