Blanding City Council discusses fire department and city projects

A busy month of training and response to fire was discussed at the February 25 meeting of the Blanding City Council. 
Blanding City Fire Chief Corey Spillman reported there were four calls in the last month, including one from White Mesa which looks suspiciously like arson.
A criminal investigation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Utah State Fire Marshall determined that the fire was the result of arson. 
Councilmember Cheryl Bowers asked how jurisdictional issues impact the fire department while responding to calls from a reservation. Spillman responded, “Some of this to me is a gray area, but if the pager goes off, I’m gonna go.” 
The Blanding City Fire Department has a large area to cover. Spillman reported the area covers all the way from Halls Crossing to Colorado. The department will also assist the cities of Bluff and Monticello when needed.
Mayor Lyman called the Blanding City Fire Department the largest and best funded department in the county, which the county relies on more than any other entity.
“The volunteer element is so enormous,” said Lyman. “They are amazing.”  
Spillman reports the department is focused on training since they do not have a high call volume. Training provides the confidence to fight fires strategically in different scenarios.  “The more we train, everything starts clicking,” he said.
Mayor Lyman commented on the high quality of service the fire department provides. He said to Spillman, “People in the community have no idea how good our fire department is. You guys are that good and have been for a long time.”
Spillman reports there are 21 volunteers in the fire department. Of those volunteers, 12 to 14 have advanced certifications, which require hundreds of hours of training. Even the state certification council recognizes the quality of the Blanding City Fire Department. 
In other business, City Engineer Terry Ekker updated councilmembers on the status of projects in the city. Of particular note is a storm drain project put out to bid earlier this year. Blanding City did not receive any bids for the storm drain project.
Contractors report having too much work or conflicts with the schedule the city had outlined for the project. Possibilities moving forward include re-writing the specifications and putting it out to re-bid, or saving the project for another year. City officials expressed a desire to complete the project this year. 
Ekker also discussed the transportation master plan being developed along with Jones and Demille Engineering.
He emphasized the need to advertise the plan to the public so those that are affected have the chance to give input as early in the process as possible.
City Manager Jeremy Redd said, “We really do want to get the word out to anybody who is impacted. If they have some issue, we need to know now so we can make adjustments in the plan.” 
City Finance Director Kim Palmer reported on the financial status of the city. Palmer noted a decrease in revenue for the rec center is due to a decrease in memberships for students from Utah State University. The number is expected to fluctuate from semester to semester.
Palmer said the rec center revenue will go up with the new Utah Navajo Health System memberships this week. Councilmember Bowers noted on the report that basketball revenue is double that of the prior year. 
Public comment was made by Madison Palmer from the National Honor Society at San Juan High School. She requested financial support from the city for the Easter egg hunt to be held the Saturday before Easter.
The council had budgeted for the community event and approved the request.

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