Warden swears in new police officer

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Rachal Pinkerton/Columbia Basin Herald Kriss Shuler (right) swears in Jonathan Balas as Warden’s new police officer while city council members look on.

WARDEN — Warden welcomed a new police officer to the city during a regular council meeting on Tuesday.

Jonathan Balas, of Everson, took the oath of office before a crowd of family and friends. He will be attending criminal justice training in Spokane in August. In the meantime, he will be performing ride-alongs with other officers and learning the city’s rules and regulations. Balas joins the Warden Police Department as its fourth full-time officer. The department also has two reserve officers and a city clerk.

In other business, the city council approved an ordinance that updated the city’s land use regulations.

“We are updating our records to match state regulation,” said Kriss Shuler, Warden’s city administrator.

The state recently updated regulations for short plats from allowing only four lots for a short plat subdivision, to nine lots. The difference between a short plat and a long plat is the length of the process and the amount of documentation required to subdivide a piece of property. Currently, most areas in Warden have already been subdivided.

“This makes it less encumbered for the developer,” Shuler said.

Tommer Construction, of Ephrata, was awarded a road construction contract contingent on approval from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB). Warden applied for a grant from the TIB to do road repair and rebuild Weir Way and West Eighth Street. Tommer Construction was the lowest of five companies that bid on the project. Despite being the lowest bid, Tommer Construction’s bid of $494,310.52 came in over the amount of the grant. The city is asking the TIB to approve the bid. If the bid is denied, the city will have to re-bid the project.

The project will include a new base and road surface for Weir Way and a new surface, curb and sidewalk for West Eighth Street. A water line will also be installed under West Eighth Street to avoid having to tear up the road later when the line needs to be replaced.

Shuler reported that testing has begun on well No. 9. Due to delays in the arrival of equipment, the project is going over the number of days originally contracted for the project. The council approved a 55-day extension of the project contract to get it completed.

“It is getting very close,” said Shuler.

Shuler estimates that all but the testing for the Department of Health will be completed by mid-June. As of Tuesday, the well was pumping 2,400 gallons of water a minute.

The council also approved an equipment sharing agreement between the city and the Warden School District. The agreement is for the protection of both agencies.

“We work well together,” Shuler said. “We’ve never had any problems.”

The agreement allows the city and the school district to establish a cost for the use of any big equipment shared between the two entities. The council also approved an extension of an hour for volunteers to be at the community center the night of Warden High School’s graduation.

“The community center closes at 1 a.m.,” said Shuler. “They normally clean up until 2 a.m. They are asking for an extension.”

“It (the party) is well chaperoned,” said Warden Mayor Tony Massa. “Students go in and don’t go back out. They are keeping kids sober and safe so we don’t lose anyone on graduation night.”

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