By Jessica Smith
IRRIGON As the opening of the Irrigon skate park approaches, the excitement level is growing with the ranks of city government.
The park is on schedule for the projected April 14th grand opening, and plans for promotion of the event include demonstrations by professional skaters and speeches by various dignitaries.
"We have some things in this skate park that do not exist anywhere else in the United States," said Pastor Rick Yardley, the citizen's representative on the Skate Park Committee. "It really is going to be a destination park.
The park includes a full pipe more than 14 feet in diameter. According to city officials, there are fewer than 10 full pipes that size in America. Irrigon's pipe has a doorway, and some other changes that are unique to this park.
Another point of interest to the Irrigon project is that the crew working on the park are all skateboarders or bikers. Yardley said they are taking time to test equipment as they build it.
"All the guys out there working are very good," Yardley said.
City Councilor and Morrow County Sheriff Ken Matlack said the testing of the equipment led to a recent call from a concerned citizen. The caller, said Matlack, said she saw what she thought were kids fooling around at night in the park. The "kids" turned out to be the project crew putting the skate park through its paces at the end of a work day.
The council also discussed a donor wall that would include the names of those who have supported the project with donations. One plan called for a marble slab, but that may prove to be much more costly than planned. Other options are still being considered for the donor wall.
The council also voted to name the park the Don Baxter Skate Park. Baxter recently resigned due to health reasons.
More volunteer hours and donations are needed to help make the project a bigger success, said Chuck Neumman, who was recently elected by the council to replace Baxter. Neumman encouraged anyone interested in volunteering to contact city hall.
In other council business:
? The council discussed the Irrigon Watermelon festival and the city's 50th anniversary. The discussion was tabled to allow options to be gathered for exactly how these two events should be combined and celebrated.
? City Administrator Gerald Breazeale read a letter from the public works director from Morrow County, proposing a tax levy to help fund repairs on three roads, and looking for the city's support of the levy.
"People may want to not have this," said Matlack, "but I can attest all those roads, all the roads in Irrigon, and those in the county are in terrible shape."
Any decision was tabled until later so that more information could be gathered.
? The council discussed the need for individuals to hook into the new sewer system. The newer system needs a certain number of users to keep the system balanced and help keep the nitrate levels around the city at lower levels, said Breazeale. The council approved a resolution to wave sewer and connection charges for a limited duration for property connections to the conventional gravity sewer system.
? The council approved a request to place a veterans memorial on the City Hall site by the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association.
The next meeting will be March 20, at 7 p.m. at Stokes Landing Senior Center, 195 Northwest Opal Place, Irrigon.
Jessica Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org