Monday, July 13, 2020

Whitefish pedestrian underpass OK’d

| June 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Construction of a $1.6 million pedestrian underpass for Baker Avenue near Depot Park is set to begin this summer following years of planning.

The Whitefish City Council last week approved a contract for construction of the project with LHC Inc.

The underpass will span under Baker near the O’Shaughnessy Center, connecting the city’s path off Railway Street to Depot Park.

The city’s downtown master plan and bicycle and pedestrian master plan both call for the construction of the Baker Avenue underpass to serve as a link connecting the Railroad District to Central Avenue, and also as a critical link in the city’s bike path system.

Public Works Director Craig Workman said many pedestrian-oriented enhancements have been constructed over the years to enhance the character of downtown and also achieve a pedestrian-friendly environment.

The city is using tax increment finance funds to pay for the underpass. The project also incorporates security cameras linked to 24-hour surveillance.

— Whitefish Pilot

Dr. Brad Black, health officer for Lincoln County, wants you to get tested for the coronavirus. And then get tested again. And again.

Although interest in coronavirus testing has ebbed locally since fear of the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in early spring, Black said last week that implementing a robust testing system will prove invaluable when the disease springs back up. Such a program would include targeted testing of individuals regularly in contact with the public as well as residents from all walks of life.

“We want to do as much sampling as we can during the summer — we do want to keep an understanding of what level of COVID-19 activity could be going on in the community,” Black said. “If we are able to identify, trace and track that, we can find out if it is spreading very rapidly.”

Black expects a low level of transmission of COVID-19 in Lincoln County during the summer months, though a traveler bringing the coronavirus to the community remains likely, he said.

When that happens, a healthy testing system can help local officials keep tabs on the spread, protect the vulnerable and issue sound community-wide guidance, Black said. To achieve that, officials will need to test employees of salons, restaurants and supermarkets on a regular basis for what’s described as community surveillance.

But Black wants anyone who is willing to schedule regular tests if possible, regardless of whether they feel ill. At least 20 percent of people who contract the coronavirus become asymptomatic carriers, passing it along without ever knowing, Black said.

Anyone who visits with a vulnerable individual ought to get tested on a regular basis, Black said.

In Lincoln County, health officials have partnered with the Center for Asbestos Related Disease to handle coronavirus testing. Aided by a roughly $30,000 infusion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, they hope to hire a fulltime test coordinator.

— The Western News

The city of Columbia Falls has settled a longstanding lawsuit with Badger Direction Drilling over a water-line installation that ended up causing a sinkhole in U.S. 2.

The case stems from an incident in August 2011, when the city contracted Badger to drill a water line under U.S. 2 from a main near Super 1 Foods to the north that would ultimately serve the Timber Creek Village assisted-living center.

Four years later a sinkhole developed on the north side of the highway. It was discovered the water line had been drilled through a storm sewer main. The sewer main then collapsed, making a sinkhole.

The state, in turn, required the city pay for the repair, which it did, at a total cost of more than $176,000, as it had to have the water line re-drilled and it had to have the hole fixed.

On June 4, the city settled with Badger for $82,750. In addition, Apec Engineering, which also worked on the project, agreed to pay $6,500 in the case.

Badger long maintained it didn’t know the sewer line was there when it drilled under the highway as it wasn’t properly notified. The city claimed the company could have easily seen there was a storm sewer there, whether it was marked or not.

The settlement requires that all parties pay their own attorney and court costs in the matter.

— Hungry Horse News

After a two-year wait, Plains area residents finally were able to take a dip in the E.L. Johnson Memorial Pool last week.

Work began on the pool in May 2019 with funds from city coffers as well as the Committee for Safe Swimming, led by Kathy Gregg.

The committee received donations, grants and fundraising money in excess of $46,000 since March of 2019 allowing it to still have a limited reserve on hand in case of future emergencies, according to Gregg.

“It was a long process,” said Plains Mayor Dan Rowan. “I’m glad to see it get done and be open.”

According to Gregg, the total repairs the Committee for Safe Swimming has paid in the past year totals $52,234.

“Many thanks to Mayor Dan Rowan for ramrodding this project and not ever giving up on it,” Gregg said. “Thanks also for the many hours that he has authorized and that city workers have put in on it. The town of Plains has used budget funds for various miscellaneous expenses along the way and has received significant help from Kurt Campbell and Doug Wipplinger as well.”

Rowan said the pool has a full staff of lifeguards after they completed training last week.

The pool is open daily from 1-5 p.m. Swim lessons are also planned, but Rowan said he wasn’t sure if aerobic programs would be held.

— Clark Fork Valley Press