Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

By Ed Moreth 

Group plans pickleball courts in Plains


March 16, 2023

Ed Moreth

SPECIAL SPEAKER – Sanders County Emergency Manager Bill Naegeli talks to the Plains Town Council at Plains City Hall about a plan in the event of a railroad accident that included a hazardous spill.

The City Hall meeting room was packed last Monday, but it wasn't for some sort of controversial matter as it has been before. The subject was pickleball.

Ten women gathered at City Hall to ask the town council to allow the old tennis court site at the E.L. Johnson Memorial Park, known to many as the "pool park," to be available for a future pickleball court. Sandy Revier was the spokesperson for the group, which has been using the Christian Alliance Church for pickleball games since early January. She told the council that they would like to have a court built for outdoor play at the pool park. She told council members that they weren't looking for them to pay for anything, but wanted permission to utilize the area. After less than 15 minutes, the council voted unanimously to give them the green light.

Plans are to put in four courts to cover an area of 64x134 feet with a fence surrounding concrete courts, according to Revier. Thompson Falls had pickleball courts installed last year and used asphalt, which Revier said is initially less expensive than concrete, but requires more maintenance and is more costly in the long run. Group member Betty Taylor said they're looking into state and federal grants to pay for the courts, which were estimated to be $26,000 to $27,000 for construction, nets and fencing, but they would also take donations. The group met Wednesday and officially formed the Plains Pickleball Association with a [email protected] email. The group is planning to become a nonprofit organization and plans to start a GoFundMe page to help raise money. They're also developing a Facebook page.

Revier said pickleball is a great sport for all ages, but for older people in particular because the courts are smaller than tennis and don't require as much running. They have nearly 20 people, including four men, each week on two courts at the church. They play each Tuesday and Thursday. They hope to get the new pickleball court constructed at the pool park next year. She said they are considering using the same company that Thompson Falls used, a Corvallis man with almost 30 years experience of building them.

"It's been a blast to get out there and play with friends," said Revier, a retired Plains High School teacher. "I was pleased that they were very willing to utilize city property for the benefit of the community," said Taylor, also a retired teacher.

The meeting also included a visit by Sanders County Emergency Manager Bill Naegeli, who gave a quick synopsis on a plan in the event of a railroad accident that included a hazardous spill. It was Councilwoman Connie Foust's idea to have Naegeli talk about the emergency plan. "I still have concerns for the older folks who may not drive anymore, but I think with more discussion we can work that out," said Foust. "Also of note was his worry regarding semi-trucks carrying toxic loads," she said.

Naegeli said one of his biggest concerns is getting people with cell phones to sign up with the county's public alert system, Hyper-Reach, in order to contact those people in a time of emergency. Landline phones are already in the system, said Naegeli, but cell phone users need to get their numbers to the county in the event of some type of evacuation. Naegeli believes more than 80% of the county residents use cell phones.

Plains resident Loren Hutnik, who used to work with hazardous materials in Ohio, was concerned with people being trapped on one side of the railroad tracks if an accident were to occur in the downtown area, but Mayor Chris Allen noted they could get away via River Road East. Hutnik told the crowd he was disappointed about the lack of training the railroad people do with local fire and police departments. Naegeli said the railroad has an excellent training program and he has not seen a hazardous spill by the railroad, but he has worked seven hazardous spill truck accidents. Naegeli, who's been the emergency manager for nearly 20 years, said his department would like to hold a decontamination exercise in Sanders County this year.

The council passed a number of motions with regard to road, water and sewer projects. It approved a $407,080 bid from Lindberg Construction LLC of Kalispell to replace main and all service lines on First Street West. Allen said that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will pay for the pipe replacement and part of the road that is impacted by water main and service lines and the town would pay for the rest of the roadwork. Lindberg Construction was one of four bidders for the project. Council also approved a  $301,100 bid for an extended water improvements project to Razz Construction Inc. of Bellingham, Wash. It extends the Plains water service on the east side of town past the Town Pump with a water main and connecting service lines, said Allen.

As with the others, council unanimously passed a motion to pay M.E.T. Automation & Controls $171,457, contingent on funding, to be the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) provider for the Wastewater Lagoons Relocation Project, which is part of the grant work project on the lagoon at an estimated equipment cost of $171,457. "When that is installed it will give us the opportunity to use it to connect to all our water systems also," the mayor said. 

Council also approved a motion to hire WGM Group of Kalispell to complete geographic information system mapping services for $7,000 in accordance with a Feb. 17 proposal, which would allow an employee with no knowledge of location to go right to a problem. "With this they'll be able to find a problem on their phone or laptop. If there's a problem somewhere, they'll have the coordinates right to it," said Allen.

The council also approved by 3-2 vote to add Lloyd Rice to the Plains Planning Board for a two-year term, giving the board the full seven person board. For the second time in a row, the council tabled a first read of Ordinance #23-1 - "Amending Title 8 Governing the Operation of Dog Kennels" to give council members more time to look it over.

Allen passed on to the council and audience that the Chief of Police Brian Josephson has been researching grants and the town might be able to get two fully loaded police cars for $108,292.17, leaving the town to come up with only $36,219.39. He said it's a grant of 75% forgiveness on two patrol cars. "That's huge when referring to a small municipality and limited tax revenue," said Allen.

The mayor also reported the town's water loss has decreased. The town pumped 3,128,000 gallons and sold 2,535,600 gallons, which is only a 19% loss. "It's not great, but we've had a lot worse, so we're working in the right direction," said Allen.

The town held a special meeting on Feb. 13 to appoint John Roesler as the council's newest member for Ward 3. Roesler is filling a vacancy left by Allen when he became interim mayor. 

It looks as though the town will have a beautification day cleanup this spring. The mayor was pleased when Chris Reyna, a town police officer, volunteered to lead the coordination charge of the town cleanup. "I like Plains and I want to see the town do well," said Reyna, who doesn't even reside within the town limits. He hasn't developed a plan yet, but he's shooting for April or May for the event and is hopeful to get volunteers to help.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2023

Rendered 06/05/2023 08:29