By Karen Hutchinson-Talaski

Staff writer

HERMISTON — In a surprise reversal, the Hermiston City Council Monday night voted to allow alcohol at the 3-on-3 tournament sponsorship dinner being held in one of the city's parks.

At the May 14 council meeting, in a 5 - 2 vote, the council voted to deny the 3-on-3 Tournament committee's request to serve alcohol at their sponsorship dinner. Jackie Myers, one of the councilors who voted against the denial, had been inundated with phone calls after the vote last week.

"I would like the council to reconsider their denial," Myers said during Monday night's meeting. "I believe there was a lack of information regarding this group."

She reminded councilors that this would be the second year in a row the 3-on-3 sponsorship dinner would serve alcohol to their guests.

"I don't think it is right to deny when they already planned on it," she said. "They didn't have any idea that it would be denied."

Councilor Manuel Gutierrez, who voted for the denial last week, said he felt the council will "have egg on our face" because they had previously voted for a local bank to serve alcohol and then denied the 3-on-3 tournament sponsorship dinner.

Councilor Rod Hardin, who made the original motion to deny the request, made the motion to reconsider despite his reservations about serving alcohol in a city park.

"I've always had issues with serving alcohol in the park," Hardin said. "I vote against all requests."

The motion carried 5-2 with Hardin and Walt Acuff voting against.

An amendment to change the language in the city's ordinances regarding alcohol in public places was referred to the safety committee.

In other council news, the city received an American flag flown in Iraq and sent to former mayor Frank Harkenrider by a former neighbor, Col. Chris Owens. Owens sent the flag as a symbol of what is happening in Iraq and as an appreciation for the support of the American people.

"I also wanted you to know that however many years have gone by, I still think back fondly of the years I lived in Hermiston," wrote Owens.

A four-way stop will be installed at the intersection of S.W. River Hill Drive and Sunland Avenue due to safety issues. Street superintendent Ron Sivey told the council it was nearly impossible to see if cars were coming in the cross street due to poor visibility. The poor visibility is being caused by a curve in the street.

The council voted against giving free pool passes to city employees this year.

Last year, the issuance of free pool passes to city employees and elected officials caused an uproar among Hermiston residents. The councilors decided to reconsider the original vote and only gave the pool passes to city employees.

"I believe that all the council thinks it is a good idea," said Myers. "It's not popular with the general public. We're here to represent the public."

Councilor Harmon Springer agreed. He said he had comments from both sides last year. However, he felt that the public feels city employees earn enough money to be able to go to the pool.

"If you talk to the poor people, they say they have to pay to go to the pool," said Gutierrez.

The city also received a check from Don Daggett of Banner Bank for $15,000 as their sponsorship of the Hermiston Centennial.

Karen Hutchinson-Talaski can be reached at ktalaski@hermistonherald.com.

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