Severance package for Chief Gray reached

Richard Gray

John Day City Manager Nick Green informed the city council May 8 that terms for a severance package for Police Chief Richard Gray were reached that morning.

Gray has been on medical leave since April. The terms provide for nearly $30,000 and vacation leave, he said.

The council gave its approval for Green to sign the severance package agreement once it was reviewed by the city’s attorney.

Green hired Mike Durr with a May 1 start date with the intent of appointing him as the city’s interim police chief during Gray’s absence. Durr had recently left the John Day Police Department to work with the Baker City Police Department.

In other city council news:

• Green informed the council about the Intergovernmental Council’s interest in using the John Day Fire Hall for 911 dispatch. The IGC, which will oversee Grant County’s 911 dispatch service once John Day no longer runs it, discussed site options for the dispatch center at its May 7 meeting.

Canyon City Mayor Steve Fischer, a member of the IGC board, told the Eagle he had expressed interest at the meeting in locating the 911 dispatch center at the industrial park next to Grant County Regional Airport because of its line-of-sight communication with Eagle Peak, but Green did not favor that option.

Green explained in the May 8 city council packet that zoning and development restrictions placed on the industrial park lots require buyers to be a private sector business that creates three new jobs and pays property taxes.

“The communications agency will do neither,” Green told the council.

Fischer told the Eagle he then asked Grant County Judge Scott Myers about putting the 911 center in the airport terminal, but the available office in the terminal building does not meet certain 911 dispatch center requirements.

Fischer said Green then offered the IGC tentative terms for a 15-year lease at the John Day Fire Hall for the 911 dispatch center, at $750 per month for the first 10 years and $1,000 per month for the next five years. The IGC asked Green to come back with an offer in writing.

Fischer noted that some IGC members were reluctant to be reliant on a city government again, while others favored the fire hall location. He also noted that Todd McKinley, a member of the John Day Rural Fire Protection District who is knowledgeable about radio communications, told the IGC that the fire hall had line-of-sight opportunities with Eagle Peak.

Green told the city council that final construction of the fire hall would begin in early July, which could include tenant improvements suitable to the 911 dispatch center. The space could be available to the IGC by October, Green said.

The council reached consensus for Green to go ahead and prepare plans for the 911 dispatch center to be located in the fire hall, if the IGC chose to locate there.

• The council also discussed overuse of the community room in the fire hall, particularly by groups that are not local and requests for multi-day reservations. The council considered charging fees that might reduce demand for use of the room.

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