Hamsher re-elected in write-in campaign

Prairie City Mayor Jim Hamsher, who launched a write-in campaign for the position, looks at election results Nov. 6. Hamsher won re-election with 218 votes.

Prairie City Mayor Jim Hamsher won re-election as a write-in candidate with overwhelming numbers.

Hamsher received 218 votes in his write-in campaign, according to unofficial election results, while Frances Preston received 108, Carole Garrison received 87 and write-in candidate Taci Philbrook received 59.

He said he wanted to stay in office to ensure that important infrastructure projects are completed. He said the results showed he still had clout in town.

The water project was on many voters’ minds after two summers of shortages. Plans call for running pipes and power to city wells at Fainman Springs to boost the municipal water supply.

The city declared a water emergency Aug. 6 after the level in the city’s million-gallon water reservoir dropped to 1.5 feet over the Aug. 4-5 weekend. Water tenders hauled water from John Day to Prairie City to keep up with residential demand.

Recognizing the emergency situation, the state agreed to provide Prairie City up to $1.5 million for the project, with one-third as a grant and the rest as a 30-year loan at 1.7 percent interest. Hamsher said Scott Fairley at Business Oregon told him the water project was moving along at a fast pace, despite a 950-page application.

Prairie City will also see major improvements to its sewer system, including new booster pumps at the treatment plant, about 1,500 feet of new forced mains along Highway 26 and new collector mains in parts of the city. The funding and construction bids have already been approved, he said.

A new U.S. Cellular tower on city land will provide the city with additional revenue, Hamsher said. Attorneys are finalizing the contracts, which he expected to have signed by the end of November, he said.

Fencing to be installed on the north and south ends of the city park will protect children, Hamsher said. Installing 15 winter-proof water hook-ups and higher amperage services at the Depot RV Park could significantly increase revenue there, he said.

There are signs of growth in Prairie City — new businesses and three new homes underway. But completing the water and sewer projects is essential to growing the community, Hamsher said. It’s hard to grow a city if it can’t meet basic needs, he said.

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