Cascade Locks council hears good news on ‘growing’ fire department

— CASCADE LOCKS — City Council will interview applicants for a vacant council position in a special meeting Feb. 29 at 7 p.m.

At press time, one person had submitted an application at City Hall for the post formerly held by Eva Zerfing, who resigned earlier this month.

Council met Monday, and authorized a job description for the future city administrator. The council last month adopted a timeline for hiring a permanent administrator by July. Interim administrator Paul Koch’s contract expires in August, by which time he will have served Cascade Locks for about one year.

The job is now being advertised, and applications are due in May. Citizens will have the chance to meet applicants in community meetings set for June.

The city has authorized up to $7,500 for hiring a new administrator, including $1,000 for advertisement, $3,000 in expenses for bringing applicants to Cascade Locks and $2,800 in travel expenses for two Cascade Locks representatives to do background checks and research in the applicants current towns.

Interim fire chief Devon Wells gave a positive report on progress in reorganizing the city fire and emergency services department. In November, Wells, the fire chief for the City of Hood River, was hired to oversee the department until a formal command structure can be put in place.

“Cohesiveness is one of his big issues, and there’s been a lot of progress on that,” Mayor Lance Masters said. “They’ve had social events and are having a good time together.”

Four new applicants have signed up, and when they are processed that will bring to 21 the number of volunteers in the department.

“It’s really good news that the department is growing,” Masters said. Seven of the recruits who joined since December are now undergoing a fire academy on weekends at the fire hall, and two of them have committed to undergo EMT school, which will require more training on weeknights and weekends.

Masters said that Wells reported that he has had discussions with the volunteers about moving to a command structure with a main officer for fire companies; with five firefighters to each company.

In other business, the council received a clean audit report, from auditor Ken Onstett. Masters said that the recommended changes in the city bookkeeping are already in progress.

Council also talked about the future role of the Tourism Committee.

“We had a discussion about where we see that committee and how it fits into our efforts to bring economic development to Cascade Locks,” Masters said.

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