Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, December 13, 2017, Page A3, Image 3

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Substation technician Darrin Balch with Potelco Inc.
out of Sumner, Washington, installs a ground wire on a
riser structure at the new Umatilla Electric Cooperative
substation Wednesday off of East Elm Avenue in
Faith Stubbs, Derek McBride and Keali’imanaole Hamilton sing “So What” by Pink with the Hermiston High School a cappella
jazz choir, Majazzty, during the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.
Hermiston lights usher in Christmas
The temperature out-
side was frightful, but the
choir was still delightful
during Hermiston’s annual
tree-lighting festival down-
town on Thursday.
Cori Applegate, a teacher
at Armand Larive Middle
School, braved the cold spe-
cifically to hear Hermiston
High School’s a cappella
jazz choir Majazzty (pro-
nounced “majesty”) sing
before Santa Claus arrived
to throw the switch for the
40-foot Christmas tree just
down the street from city
“I have a lot of past stu-
dents that sing and I like to
support them when they’re
doing something fun,” she
The festival tied in with
the Hermiston Downtown
District’s First Thursday
event for December, which
drew some of the attendees
into Main Street businesses
with special deals and enter-
tainment, but Applegate said
she was waiting until after
the choir was finished to
take a peek at what the busi-
nesses had to offer.
On the other side of
the massive tree, Rebecca
LaBell was warming herself
by one of the metal fire pits
set up to add some breaks
from the cold. She said
she and her daughter came
down to the city-sponsored
event because they enjoy
any excuse to get out of the
house and mingle.
“We come to almost
everything they have,” she
said. “It gives us something
to do.”
After Majazzty finished
performing, HHS junior
Derek McBride said it “felt
great” to be up there per-
forming in front of the
community. He said his
favorite song the choir per-
formed was Michael Bublé’s
“You can dance to it,” he
said. “You can do a little cha
cha, and I love the music
break the piano and guitar
After the choir, Mayor
David Drotzmann warmed
up the crowd for Santa.
“I think it’s awesome
we as a community can get
together and celebrate the
season,” he told the crowd
before thanking the event’s
Drotzmann said this
year’s giant Christmas
tree was originally in Vic-
tory Square Park and had
been scheduled for removal
because it was crowding out
other trees and hanging over
the street. If anyone has a
large pine tree they’re look-
ing to remove from their
property, he said, let the city
know and they can put it on
the schedule as next year’s
tree to decorate.
He encouraged everyone
to take some time to check
out the businesses partic-
ipating in First Thursday
before they headed home.
“There’s no place better
to spend your money than
downtown,” he said. “These
are the guys that support
your basketball teams, sup-
port your football teams,
support your cheer team,
and those dollars come from
you spending your money
was followed by sirens, as
Santa Claus arrived on a fire
truck and flipped the candy-
cane-striped switch that lit
the towering Christmas tree
for the holiday season.
“I wanted to get here in
the St. Nick of time!” he said
when Drotzmann teased that
he had to stall for time.
‘Lengthy’ records requests to come with a cost
Public records fees for
the city of Hermiston have
expanded to include email
and other digital formats.
The city council voted
Monday to add $35 per hour
fee to cover staff time for
“lengthy” records requests
that take more than 15 min-
utes to fulfill. The fee will
be charged in increments of
15 minutes.
Previously, fees were
mostly based on reimburse-
ment for the physical record
— such as a printed page or
DVD — instead of based on
the staff time it takes to com-
pile the information then
redact or format as needed.
A memo to the council
estimated the city spends
$21,000 of staff time on
records requests each year.
City Manager Byron
Smith said the city once
fielded a request for certain
types of emails that took
$2,000 of staff time to com-
plete but the person did not
pay anything because they
received electronic copies.
He said the most common
form of records request is
police reports, about 60 per-
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A new Hermiston East
Substation will help Uma-
tilla Electric Cooperative
keep the lights on more
consistently in Hermiston.
The $4.75 million proj-
ect, at the corner of Elm
Avenue and Northeast
10th Street, will begin
operating later this month.
Josh Lankford, UEC
engineering manager, said
the new substation would
have the ability to serve
most, if not all, of Herm-
iston. Customers will con-
tinue to be spread out over
multiple substations, how-
ever, so that a problem
at one substation doesn’t
knock out power to the
whole city.
“We keep things broken
up,” Lankford said. “That
limits your outages.”
The substation features
newer technology and
equipment, which should
provide improved reliabil-
ity compared to the area’s
other stations. And when
a falling tree branch, hap-
hazard bird or other prob-
lem disrupts service,
Lankford said Hermiston
customers should see their
power restored much more
quickly now that UEC
has the extra capacity to
“backfeed” them over to
the new substation while
repairs are being made
During a tour for
Greater Hermiston Area
Chamber of Commerce
members on Wednesday,
Dec. 6, Matt Williams, the
UEC senior engineer who
oversaw the project, said
power from Bonneville
Power Administration will
come into the substation
by way of transmission
lines from the McNary
Dam and leave through
six feeders — three for
UEC and three for Herm-
iston Energy Services —
to make its way to individ-
ual homes and businesses.
Meters at the site track the
amount of energy coming
in and out of the substa-
tion, and equipment there
automatically steps down
the higher voltages com-
ing from BPA to the level
needed for distribution
through the feeders.
The substation cur-
rently has a single trans-
former, but UEC plans to
add a second transformer
sometime in the future as
the Hermiston area contin-
ues to grow.
According to a fact
sheet handed out during
the tour, Hermiston and
surrounding areas have
population and electrical
growth” and the Hermis-
ton East Substation will
help provide the added
capacity needed to keep up
with that growth.
Umatilla Electric Coop-
erative and the project’s
contractor Potelco, Inc.
are doing what they can
to make the site as safe
as possible, from protect-
ing parts against birds to
installing a network of
copper wires grounding
the equipment and snaking
their way underground to
help protect people stand-
ing nearby during a surge.
“We do it five feet out-
side the fence too, so if
kids come up to look and
grab the fence they won’t
get electrocuted,” Wil-
liams said.
The substation is owned
by UEC but will also serve
Hermiston Energy Ser-
vices customers. The
municipal utility contracts
with UEC for infrastruc-
ture, operations, mainte-
nance, billing and much
of its other day-to-day
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most cases to fulfill a request
starting Jan. 1. That causes
more of a burden for the city,
he said, and cities in Wash-
ington have reported that a
similar law has caused some
people to make repeated
time-consuming requests on
the hope that the city will fail
to meet a deadline and they
can take the city to court or
press for a settlement.
“I feel like we need to be
prepared to ward off some
of these frivolous requests,”
he said.
The council voted unan-
imously to update the fee
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cent of which are requested
by insurance companies or
attorneys. Victims always
receive a redacted copy of
their police report for free.
Smith said police reports
take about 15 minutes to pre-
pare, but the police depart-
ment also gets about two
requests per month for video
footage, which takes two to
four hours to complete.
City staff made the same
recommendation of $35 per
hour two years ago, but the
council rejected it. This time,
however, Smith said the leg-
islature has enacted a bill
that gives the city 10 days in
UEC to flip switch
on new substation
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