by Beth Hutchinson
For the Pathfinder
October 29, 1998
Two infrastructure reports dominated the October 19th meeting of the Seeley Lake Community Council. Reporting on the design and status of the new filtration plant, manager Paul Torok explained that the system should be able to go on line within two weeks once the holding tank liner is approved by the engineer.
This all important liner represents a solution negotiated between the water board and Talcott Construction to remedy concrete and caulking failures in the holding tank. Put in line without such a compensation, the holding tank would leak away a substantial amount of the newly purified water.
Torok explained that the liner, made of the same 6 mil nylon-reinforced rubber material used to line landfills, has a 50 year warranty.
Torok's comprehensive description of the filtration system and improvements to the pumping capacity were capped with information that all Y2K issues had been addressed ahead of time. Maintaining access to sufficient diesel fuel would be the limiting factor to Seeley Lake's having a steady water supply in the event of a crisis.
Noting that the water quality project has in reality been in process for nearly ten years (beginning in 1989 with the concept of avoidance), Torok is well aware of how ready everyone... from the state officials to the townspeople to himself... is for it to be completed.
In a second infrastructure report, county road commissioner Horace Brown addressed a more likely source of stress for the Seeley Swan area. Brown said that the valley, particularly Seeley Lake, will probably see a reduction in service beginning in November.
Brown has been experiencing a squeeze between both available revenues and costs and competing urban and rural needs. One of Seeley Lake's road workers has already been transferred to Missoula. New paving projects, other than one approved for Rumble Creek up in the Swan, are highly unlikely over the next year or so.
Asked by council member Cheri Thompson, "Why are you taking our skilled person to Missoula when we need him?", Brown responded that it took at least a month to hire a new worker and a year or two to train the new worker. Brown added, that faced with an overally force reduction of two and a half positions (250 miles of snow-plowing a week) and needing someone ready-to-go in Missoula now, he had to make that decision.
Brown acknowledged that much local grading had been left undone over the summer because he had reassigned those workers to make use of millings (torn up road surface that are free to the country and can be recycled for new projects) in the southern part of the county. Having been informed by the state that there might be no additinal millings available for ten to twelve years, Brown wanted to acquire and make use of what he could get his hands on.
Obviously not happy with the situation, Brown indicated that the best course for Seeley Lake residents is to support funding issue #5105 (a 5 mil levy) in the November election. "Since 1987 revenue has not kept up with costs. I have cut everything possible. There's nothing left to cut," said Brown.
Questioned by council member Tom Morris about the improper lining along the high school road, Brown said he would do his best to see that it was correctly marked the next time road lining was done.
Karen Orzech, non-partisan candidate for county justice of the peace, spoke to the council about her qualifications and goals. Orzech, holder of a doctorate in biology, has worked as a crime victim's advocate for 14 years in Missoula County. Stressing her familiarity with the workings of the court system, she emphasized that an effective judge needs to be ready to "take the time to understand who is in front of them." Orzech believes that a justice must focus on making decisions that would "effect change in the individual behavior" of an offender.
Bringing balance back to the justice system is of primary concern to Orzech. She elaborated on how new tools, including victim/offender mediation, work programs and restitution, could be used to shore up areas currently out of balance and to actively serve the community.
Orzech said that she enjoys using her mind analytically and has as a result always voted independently. She has been pleased with the support she has garnered from liberals, moderates and conservatives as she has campaigned door-to-door. She feels that voters recognize her energy, commitment and judicial mind-set. "People like what I have to say," reported Orzech.
Karen Lyncoln, Y2K liason for the council, reported that the disaster meeting in Missoula was not focused on Y2K issues, but that several Seeley Lake residents had contacted her about their interest in the subject after reading the last Community Council article in the Pathfinder. As a result she and others will be forming a task force. The organizational meeting will be held at 7:00 PM on November 2nd at the Community Hall. Lyncoln urged all those interested in Y2K issues, or in related matters such as a community food bank, to attend.
Council member Thompson raised two issues about protocol during the meeting. Indicating that she had received a call about the speed (and only the speed) with which the council arrived at a decision to support "The Meadows" subdivision, Thompson said that the caller reminded her that to be effective, the council needed to invite public comment on such measures. Concurring that they had moved too quickly, the council decided to reopen the issue to public input at the next regular meeting. A request to subdivide a 10 acre lot high up on the Double Arrow will also be open for input and discussion then. Anyone interested in reviewing the subdivision plans and requests for these projects can contact council chair Paul Conn (677-3276).
Thompson went on to suggest that the council adjust the sequence of business on the agenda so that guests and community members who had specific reports or new presentations to share with the council would not have to wait indefinitely to be included. The council decided to test a new sequence. Special presentations, including relevant questions from the audience, will come in the beginning of the meeting. Those issues will be followed by public comment session #1, scheduled council business, public comment session #2 and agenda formatting.
Council chair Conn reminded council members and the public that the Community Council continues to have openings for two more members. These members would be appointed by the council. Anyone with suggestions or personally interested should contact a council member or attend the next meeting to obtain application forms.
The next regular meeting of the Seeley Lake Community Council is scheduled for November 16th at 7:00 PM in the Fire Hall. In addition to discussion of subdivision requests, the council will address the proposed pathway along the highway, infrastructure reports on school bus routes and parks, the fire hydrant project and the footbridge.