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DO LIVES MATTER?
01/09/2022, 4:11 PM
DO LIVES MATTER?
Badger Hill Road 12/26 Event-FOLLOW-UP
On January 6, 2022, Ranch Matters (RM) posted the story: “DO YOU THINK SOMETHING STINKS IN YOUR BACKYARD” that talked about how that TagLine has been a catalyst for many of our investigative reports.
As reported, we stated that it has stirred some Members/Readers/Association Homeowners into action after the Badger Hill Road fiasco on December 26. Several people have asked, who is responsible for the safety and security of the property owners on Crooked River Ranch?
Our story additionally addressed Ranch President Bill Burt’s comments made at last Monday’s (January 03, 2022), Work Session Meeting that included his “8” Point Edict regarding the “LESSONS LEARNED” from the December 26 “mess” on Badger Hill Road. His comments largely focused on shifting all blame-responsibility onto some upset Badger Hill Homeowners that he referred to as the “20%.”
Association Member/Homeowner and part of the “20%”, Jeff Parcel told RM,
“Safety, not Cost, should be the Ranch Officials primary concern.”
Mr. Parcel finds it interesting that the Administration, Board and Ranch Road Department are talking about Gating Badger Hill during inclement weather events while simultaneously not knowing how and when to close the road during real dangerous/unsafe conditions/events. He added, they need to investigate the installation of GUARDRAILS and learn what kind of signs need to be employed and where to avoid repeating the December 26 events.
Parcel asked rhetorically, “How come the roads leading to the Commercial Loop area including the Administration Building seemed to remain open without any problems. Where’s the talk of gating those roads.”
Mr. Parcel asked some good questions and RM reached out to Matt Powlison, Jefferson County’s Public Works Director for some answers.
Powlison was aware of the December 26 events and initially addressed the importance, as a Road Authority Official, of the need to be prepared for any potential unsafe/dangerous road situation. He explained how his Department planned well in advance for the weather event that was issued by the National Weather Service prior to December 26. All of his equipment was readied, his chain of command was reviewed and all his staff knew what to do and where.
Matt said communication is key part of his safety/emergency plans, weather related or not.
According to Director Powlison, there are “3” simple rules he follows before his Department is activated. First, they receive a call, typically from law enforcement, but also from private citizens that there is a dangerous or unsafe road condition that needs immediate attention. Powlison fields those calls personally and also has subordinates included in his communication chain.
He then assesses the road in question and responds accordingly. He said its not “rocket science.”
We told Powlison that Ranch Officials, including the Road Department, seemingly are confused about the types and placement of signs related to the closing of Badger Hill. Powlison said it’s a “simple matter” if you know what you are doing. There are “Advance Warning” and “Temporary Road Closed Signs” that follow well documented rules. He stated, if a Road Official doesn’t know what to do there’s a book titled, “Oregon Temporary Traffic Control Handbook” that probably has the answer(s).
Powlison said the if he were to close down a road he most likely would use a “Type 3 Barricade Sign” with an attached, “Road Closed to Thru Traffic Sign.”
The Ranch Road Department used a “Type 2 Barricade Sign” on December 26.
Director Powlison emphasized, “If a road needs closed , close it. Put up your signs and your job is done-we’re not the cops…”
Powlison explained its not the Road Departments job to police the drivers that ignore Road Closure Signs. “It’s up to law enforcement to enforce the law and not the Road Department.” There is also the possibility of legal liability issues involved when untrained road staff act as traffic controllers.
Powlison was asked for his professional opinion regarding Gating Badger Hill Road. He stated, “Forget gates, gating doesn’t make any sense, just close the road” and repeated, “your job is done.”
Director Powlison was also asked about using guardrails as a safety measure. He stated, “Guardrails save lives. We want to keep people on the road.” He went on to explain that he would like to see guardrails everywhere, but costs can impact decisions. He further explained when a guardrail is damaged, insurance typically covers the cost of repairs or replacement.
One of President Burt’s comments/concerns talked about the Ranch installing guardrails on Badger. He said, “I know there have been conversations about Badger Hill Road and Chinook have guardrails. People are coming to the SRD (Special Road District) Meetings, where that was discussed and talks about insurance concerns…” Burt asked, “If we put up guardrails and someone scrapes the paint off the side of their car, do we end up having to pay for it, so we don’t put guardrails on our roads?”
Ranch Road Superintendent Jordan Jones responded, “I want to say it was the amount of upkeep if a guardrail was damaged, you are required to go in and repair it immediately. I think that’s what kinda of turned everybody away from the idea of more guardrails…”
Last June, RM reported that resident Dan Tomlinson informed the Board, during their Work Session Meeting, the discovery of $275K in a fund, attributed to CRR Roads listed under “SDC/CRR ROADS.” According to Mr. Tomlinson, the SDC Funds haven’t been used since 2016 or 2017.
Director Powlison was asked if SDC money could be used for guardrails on Badger Hill. He stated, “SDC money probably could be used for guardrails and signage on Badger Hill.” He confirmed “Increased Safety related items/measures are a good fit for SDC Projects.”
Director Powlison said he would support using SDC money for such a project, but added he’s just one of the public officials involved in the process and referenced the Community Development Department as a key player.
Note: Director Powlison stated he had a meeting sometime last October (2021) with Ranch Manager Judy Lapora and Jordan Jones from the Road Department. Apparently, Lapora and Jordan discussed using SDC money for “Mail Box Pads and Road Aprons” and nothing related to safety measures.
It appears Ranch Officials have gone out of their way to to blatantly ignore the safety needs of the Ranch residents and have prioritized their personal projects over lives.