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Candidates answer questions
All five Orland City Council hopefuls attended a candidates forum Thursday sponsored by the Orland Chamber of Commerce -tackling questions about city-owned real estate and their accomplishments.
The two-hour event allowed the two incumbents and three challengers — all past council members — to introduce themselves to voters at the Carnegie Center.
They include Councilmen Bruce Roundy and Jim Paschall, and veteran council members Marjorie Palmer, Salina Edwards and Mike Yalow.
Moderator Tracey Quarne, superintendent of Glenn County Office of Education, read 10 questions submitted by the audience to the candidates after they were picked from a basket.
Questions focused on what to do with the city-owned Purity Market building on Fourth Street to what the candidates accomplished and what they would have done differently.
Yalow was on the council when Orland bought the market building with a plan to turn it into an emergency center for the Orland Police Department.
"We had major plans for it," Yalow said, but in 2006 funding dried up and they could not move forward.
He added, "It may have been premature to buy it, but we had good intentions."
Yalow also suggested waiting and seeing what happens since the city would "take a hit" selling it now.
Part of the building is now rented to a discount grocer retailer, and Edwards suggested renting the rest of the building out until the city is able to sell it.
Roundy said closed session discussions are in the works about the building and the possible re-location of City Hall to another site, but nothing is finalized.
"We are getting information to make a cautious and prudent decision," he said. "If we sold it now, we'd have to explain the $500,000 we have in it now to the taxpayers."
Roundy agreed expanding the police station into City Hall makes sense and said it would be wise to wait five years before selling the market building.
Paschall said renting the rest of the building is fine, but he cautioned it would take a lot of money to get the back half into condition to rent it as roofing and other repairs are needed.
And Palmer said she would have to see the cost of bringing the building up to code and possibly moving City Hall over there before expressing an opinion.
As for accomplishments, Edwards said she is pleased with work her council did towards getting Highway 32 re-routed on the west end of town where Centennial Park is located.
However, she wished they had worked harder to get solar street lights in town because many neighborhoods like her own are too dark for emergency personnel to see the street numbers.
Roundy cited his work in helping get the city's emergency reserve fund up from $138,000 four years ago to almost $600,000 today, and the sharing of City Librarian Jody Meza with the Willows Library — saving both cities money.
But he would have liked to have hired another city manager instead of Paul Poczobut whose contract was not renewed in 2011, Roundy said.
Paschall said getting a stoplight at Papst Avenue was an accomplishment during the last four years - even though it took 20 years to get it.
Not getting more grocery stores during his past terms was a negative, Paschall said, although more may be coming now.
Palmer said she was proud of keeping the city swimming pool and parks open during her term on the council, while Yalow talked about completing the city's recreation center built with impact fees and grants as an accomplishment.
Support for a new community center is there from all five candidates, but it is tempered by the lack of money to build it.
"I think everyone would support it," Roundy said, "but the problem is financing it."
Grant funding might be a possibility in the future, he added, because the city should not spend its reserve funding on such a project right now.
Paschall predicted it could take 10 years to build such a facility with the current economic situation as more money needs to come in before it could be built.
"With the economy the way it is, I can't support a community center," Palmer said, since there is space at the Orland Memorial Hall and Glenn County Fairgrounds for events.
Yalow said he still supports the project, but funding is the key and matching grants from federal or state sources are needed to do it.
Edwards also favors building one, she said, but not in Vinsonhaler Park since it should remain a park.
All the candidates expressed support for helping the chamber of commerce with some city funding if it is available and the organization's proposal is a good one.
They also all pledged to be ethical representatives on the council.
Another question asked about joint-exercises between county and city law enforcement and fire agencies to be ready for emergencies.
Yalow and Roundy said that is already being done as Orland police work with both Willows police and the Glenn County Sheriff's deputies regularly under mutual aid agreements. The fire department also works with other fire departments in the area, Paschall said.
Candidates rated Orland's financial health in the middle of a scale from 1 to 10 - with one needing help and 10 being in good shape.
Edwards said a four because of the foreclosed homes in town, even though other candidates said the city has no control over that.
Palmer said it was a 5, Yalow a 7.5 and Roundy a 7 based on improvements in its reserves and other factors. Paschall also rated it at 7.
Protecting the city's municipal wells also got support from the candidates — although funding for new wells needs to be increased which is why the city recently raised its water and sewer rates after several years, officials said.