Mount Shasta kicked off 2016 with project updates and informative presentations during their first city council meeting on Jan. 11. The meeting started with a series of questions for council posed by Boy Scout Troop 97 and ended with a fiber and broadband technology community improvement update presented by Mayor Jeffrey Collings.

Public Works Director Rod Bryan gave an update on the status of the big lakes water line replacement project.

Boy Scouts

Scouts approached the podium one by one with written questions they had prepared for city council. One scout asked what people his age could do to help the community, and another asked council members what they’re planning to do to address the city’s homeless population.

In response, council member Kathy Morter said a free lunch program for students in need is being developed and suggested that might be a good volunteer opportunity for scouts.

Council member Harkness suggested the scouts ask themselves how they are involved with the city and help out with something they really care about.

As for the ongoing issue with homeless transients, council member Tim Stearns said they’ve recently formed a quality of life committee focused on determining how various agencies can come together to address those problems.

Council members reminded the troop that they are the leaders of tomorrow and encouraged them to always ask questions.

Big lakes water line

Public Works Director Bryan announced that a request for proposals has already gone out for the big lakes water line replacement project even though grant funding for the project is yet to be confirmed by the DWR.

He said the RFP went out to ensure the project would be under construction by the April 1, 2016 deadline dictated by the city’s grant proposal.

“We anticipate receipt of the award but haven’t heard yet,” Bryan said. “If we don’t get the money, the worst that could happen is that we don’t award a contract.”

He said the decision to award a contract is scheduled to come before council at the second meeting in February.

Harkness said he heard from the DWR that a decision will be made Wednesday, Jan. 13, and the award recipients will be notified this week.

“It does look pretty promising that we’ll receive everything that was requested,” he said.

Harkness explained that this project will take a water main that runs behind the Mount Shasta Herald building near Spring Hill and move it farther east, toward North Mount Shasta Boulevard. “This will make the line easier to maintain and we’ll be able to install fire hydrants,” he said.

Fiber broadband

Mayor Collings presented information about the collective effort to bring high speed fiber optic broadband to Siskiyou County.

He gave an overview of the city’s economic state, including a declining population size and school enrollment rate.

Collings suggested that fiber broadband is the next step in a series of infrastructure changes to boost the economy.

“First there was the railroad, then it was electricity, then the freeway. Now, it’s the information freeway,” he summarized.

Collings expressed the hope that offering high speed internet would attract technology professionals to the city, not necessarily to open businesses here, but to telecommute.

He said he would never hope to turn Mount Shasta into Silicon Valley, but would like people working for businesses in Silicon Valley to be able to live here with their families.

“Software engineers need a fast connection to send their programs all over the world,” he said.

Aside from businesses, Collings said home entertainment technology is advancing so rapidly that an upgrade will be required in the near future, simply to enjoy on-demand television.

He said the city’s objectives are to bring fiber to every home and business with nationally competitive rates and no cap on monthly data use.

Collings emphasized that this is a collaborative south county effort, and the cities are not competing with one another.

Other business

Eckert announced the LED streetlight project will begin this week, and Siemens will be handling the installation.

He said there continues to be good progress on the Centennial trail project located between KFC and the Ray’s shopping center parking lot.

During the public comment period, John Kennedy reminded council of the high water and sewer connection fees in the city. Collings and Morter requested that matter be addressed sooner rather than later.

Eckert shared good news on the condition of the city’s water supply. Spring production for 2015 was 855 million gallons, up from 802 million in 2014. Additionally, this past year saw a 40% reduction in water use.