February 12, 2019

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting

February 12, 2019


CALL TO ORDER:  Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.  Meeting was held at the Palouse Community Center.


ROLL CALL:  Council members present:  Chris Cook; Bill Slinkard; Tim Sievers; John Snyder; Rick Wekenman; Mark Wilcomb; Katie Cooper.  Staff present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Council Meeting of January 22, 2019.  Councilmember Sievers seconded the motion and the motion carried.



Supt. Griffin submitted a written report.



-The 2013 Journey police vehicle’s cam lifter bearings had failed due to lack of oil and too much idling time. We had it repaired and already the MPG has improved and the rattling noise is gone.

-PD office got a new wireless router;

-No Brewfest issues. No DUI’s. Palouse Caboose co-owner Kim Rundle objected to all the extra patrolling after Brewfest and voiced that her patrons were concerned with it as well.  Chief Neumann explained that the extra patrolling by the Whitman Co. Sheriff’s Dept was not requested and that she should contact the sheriff’s office directly with her concerns.

-We have not yet received any applications for third police officer. Finding officers is a state-wide problem. Additionally, Chief Neumann is exploring options for himself to retire in Jan. 2020.  He doesn’t want to see the city without two police staff.  Councilmember Wekenman will have a committee meeting to discuss hiring solutions.



Mayor Echanove read aloud from CA Dixon’s report.

CA Dixon met with Whitman County Commissioners last Monday regarding siting of municipal wastewater lagoons in the county. At this time, there is not a code to allow for such construction in the county. If this ends up being the best alternative for the city’s wastewater facility plan, we will exhaust all options for annexation before requesting a code change from the county. Also met with landowners to further discuss potential land transaction that would secure enough ground to accommodate the city’s long-term wastewater needs. Further discussion, again if the city determines this to be the best option, will take place in executive session. CA Dixon and Mayor Echanove have directed our wastewater engineers to continue exploring other options during this process as well.  The meeting to discuss updates with our Dept of Ecology permit manager were postponed until sometime later this month or next.


CA Dixon and PW Supt Griffin met with Avista’s charging station engineer to discuss another site option before we proceed with the Heritage Park site as was approved by council at our last meeting. The site is located on Main St adjacent to the Brownfields site. Cost estimate for that site will be available for our next meeting.


Request for Proposals (RFP) for Brownfields site are finalized and will be published on the city’s website and in the Moscow/Pullman Daily News on February 14th. From that date, the city will accept proposals for development of the site for 60 days, ending on April 15th. After the closing date, the Brownfields Committee will meet and review all submittals and make a recommendation to council for transfer of property.


The city received feedback from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) that the portion of the work-plan submitted for the Complete Streets grant that included a bridge across the Palouse River to the park is not eligible for the program since it does not connect directly to a street or roadway. CA Dixon was optimistic that this would be approved based on previous meetings with TIB officials and how much they liked the project. The city still has alternative options to fill out the work plan.


The trip to Olympia for AWC’s City Action Days has been canceled due to the weather. We will try to plan another trip sometime in the Spring/Summer in the hopes we can accomplish much of what we would have done this week.


CA Dixon and PW Supt Griffin met with TDH Engineering to discuss work plan for water system improvements. One of the initial goals will be to complete a water model that will hopefully further identify areas of need and potential remedies. TDH will be at the next council meeting to discuss this work flow in further detail.




Owners Justin & Lindsay Brown to discuss the future of the St. Elmo Building (124-130 E Main Street): The Browns explained in detail the situation, options, building condition, etc.  In summary, Justin began remodeling the building with the intent to maintain the entire original structure. He was going to do the majority of the work as he is an accomplished builder. However, a structural engineer has since uncovered severe structural issues throughout the building, issues that are beyond his work capabilities (crane operators, etc).  The building was built in 1888 using unreinforced masonry, the bricks are poor and crumbling. Framing, joists, etc. aren’t tied in, just resting on it, the internal framing is gone, 200% overloaded. Building techniques were insufficient.  Because of this, the cost to retro-fit and renovate as originally planned is now beyond their financial abilities ($50/sf x 18,000 sf = almost $1 million).


They are left with three options:

1) remain owners and demo the building and start over with a single-story build on a smaller footprint.  It’s not their wish but financially it is what they are left with. They will save as much lumber, etc., to use in new building and repurpose as much as possible. They will design a new building in the spirit of old one. There is a lot of potential for the building, including multiple retail spaces which are needed in Palouse.

2) coming up with alternate ways to finance;

3) sell it


Members present from the Chamber of Commerce and City Council were all in accord with their gratitude to the Browns for all their efforts in saving the building. The reality is no one wants to see the building go but the condition of the building has created this situation and everyone sympathizes.  Whatever the Browns decide, city council and chamber of commerce stand behind them.  The Browns hope to begin in the spring.



Mayor Echanove appointed Phil Weagraff to the Palouse Board of Adjustment. Councilmember Sievers MOVED to ratify the Mayor’s appointment of Phil Weagraff to the BOA.  Councilmember Wilcomb seconded and the motion carried.


Liquor License Renewal for the Palouse Caboose:  No objections.


ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:  Councilmember Snyder MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Sievers seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


The following checks are approved for payment:

Payroll Paid      01/31/19            Ck. #9800-9817 & EFT              $44,058.21

Claims Paid      02/12/19            Ck. #9818-9859 & EFT              $52,445.63


ADJOURN:  Councilmember Sievers MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Slinkard seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.  The council meeting adjourned at 8:33 PM.




APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________