Orion railroaded again

Mindy Carls

    For the fourth year in a row, Burlington Northern Santa Fe has reneged on promises to repair railroad crossings in Orion, Village President Jim Cooper said on Monday, Sept. 3.

    “This is totally unacceptable,” he told village board members.

    One of the railroad’s public projects managers, Craig Rasmussen, said that if the village agreed to close the 10th Avenue crossing, he was sure he could find the money to repair the 11th and 12th avenue crossings this year.

    That left village officials using the word “blackmail” to describe the offer.

    Orion already has had to give up the 13th Avenue bridge, Cooper told Rasmussen. The railroad closed it in 2007.

    “The bridge to me is very important,” resident Al Saunders said.

    Big trouble will erupt the one time a train blocks the streets when an ambulance or fire engine is needed on the west side of town, he said.

    “We understand it’s important, but there’s no quick fix,” Cooper said. At its own expense, the railroad is hiring an engineer to determine what the weight limit would be if the bridge is restored according to its original condition.

    Keep bugging the railroad, Saunders said.

Recycling issue recycled

    Residents need to contact the board with their opinions about curbside recycling, Cooper said.

    “Without a doubt, it is the most controversial issue to come before the board since I became mayor,” he said.

    Cooper said it is not his pet project, but it is something people asked him to look into and he did.

    “Our minds are not made up on this issue,” Cooper said.

    “I’m not against recycling,” Saunders said. “I recycle. But paying $2.81 to do what I’ve done for nothing? No, thank you. The utility tax is $5 or $6 a month, and that can be a lot on a fixed income. Now you want to add $2.81. Gas, food and medicine are going up, and $2.81 could be a strain for someone on Social Security.”

    Over the five years of the curbside recycling proposal, $2.81 is the average monthly fee that would be imposed on every household in town.

    “Your point is well taken,” Cooper said. “Right now everyone is paying for recycling whether they use it or not.”

    The bin now available to all village residents costs $2,700 per year, with the cost divided among 700 households, Saunders said.

    That’s about $3.85 per household per year.

    Trustee Mike Dunne acknowledged that $2 is a lot of money for some, but if the village adopts a single trash hauler at the same time as curbside recycling, residents could save money.

    If residents paid for curbside recycling on a voluntary basis, Eagle Enterprises Recycling of Galva would charge $7.50 a month, Trustee Robert “Deano” O’Leary said.

In other business

• The dog that bit two village employees on Eighth Street in Wilson’s addition is still in isolation, Cooper said. An assistant state’s attorney investigating the incident received a petition from 200 village residents asking for the dog to be declared a vicious animal. That would allow a judge to issue an order to have the dog euthanized.

• Animal control officer Patti Hardi reported that two pit bulls confined in the village kennels were no longer there. After both passed temperament testing  by Dave and Cindy Vanlandingham, the female went to a family in Iowa and the male to a foster home.