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City Lights Slowly Coming Back On
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In a concise meeting with a tapered agenda, the Oakdale City Council heard a presentation from Finance Director Albert Avila on Monday, Oct. 15 that informed the council that all street lights would be back on in the city within a month. Some of the lights had been shut off more than two years ago due to city budget concerns.

The meeting, which included awards recognition by Pat Paul to the Love Oakdale participants and contributing merchants, did not even hit the one-hour mark as only one staff report and three brief information items were discussed.

After a presentation at the Oct. 1 meeting from Interim City Manager Stan Feathers about a better-than-expected budget highlighting Measure O funds and some city personnel cuts put the city in a position with $200,000 more than it had budgeted for at this point in the year, some council members asked Avila to look into the restoration of street lighting due to concerns they had received from residents.

Avila said a short-staffed public works department had identified the lights that had been turned off as well as those that were being paid for in the adopt-a-light program where residents were paying to keep a lamp lit.

“I’m anticipating all lights to be back on within four weeks,” Avila said. “Those that were billed for a specific street light will no longer see the charge on next month’s statement.”

Avila added that a newer style of street lamp the city now uses as replacements will also show a cost savings in energy charges to offset the process of lighting all city street lights. Some 184 of the newer style lights have already been installed throughout the city.

Avila also presented a proposal to re-establish street sweeping on city streets.

In June of this year, then Director of Public Works Joe Leach had presented three plans to city officials that included seasonal street sweeping services.

The street sweeping will reduce leaves in gutters and reduce or eliminate the need for crews in work trucks to go out and gather leaves in the winter.

Streets and Utilities Supervisor Mark Ozbirn said that residents should be aware that streets haven’t been swept for a long time and the gutters may not be cleaned to their liking on the first go through.

Ozbirn agreed with Avila that the resumption of sweeping would relieve the storm station infrastructure.

Ozbirn also advised citizens to use the green waste disposal bins for large amount of leaves rather than raking into the street.

“If your pile is bigger than a wheelbarrow, put them in the green waste bin,” Ozbirn said.

Police Chief Lester Jenkins also gave an update of department activity which included several animal control upgrades including microchipping services, the addition of a new animal control officer, and three new kennels added by the Shelter Pet Alliance.

Jenkins also discussed the building of a new shelter paid for by private funds, grants, and donations.

Other police department upgrades included a new workout area for police staff paid for by the Oakdale Police Officers Association, a new recording system for interviewing, and an upgraded bicycle storage area.

The department is also anticipating a police lieutenant test, restricted to current employees only, to replace the vacant position when Jenkins was promoted to police chief on July 1.