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Firefighter takes exception to Councilman's comments

Long-time Sunnyside Firefighter Bob Johnson, last night, voiced his displeasure with a couple of comments made by Councilman Don Vlieger during the Jan. 5 Sunnyside City Council meeting.

During a discussion at the Jan. 5 meeting regarding the hiring of a city manager, Vlieger made a comment about how the city didn't have a problem with finding firemen like there was with hiring new police officers and a city manager. Johnson took exception to those comments and read some statistics from past hirings. Out of 28 applicants in June 2000 only 10 went on to take part in the oral examination, said Johnson. There were six applicants for another open position in June 2000, of those only three ended up certified to continue beyond the initial testing for the job. Johnson said in April 2001, there were seven applicants for a position and only three qualified to move beyond the initial testing. Johnson told the Council a lot has changed in the job market since he applied in 1984, when he was the 82nd person to test for his current position.

"There were enough people we had the written test at Chief Kamiakin's cafeteria," said Johnson.

Johnson said now there are firefighter applicants who test simply for the sake of testing. Johnson told the Council a number of those applicants are just searching for the right paying position. Johnson said most applicants move on to better paying positions.

"They aren't going to work for a city that pays peanuts," said Johnson. "They are going to go to work for a city that pays almonds."

Jan. 26 agenda items discussed

City of Sunnyside Finance Director Bud Schatz is scheduled to present some information at the Jan. 26 Sunnyside City Council meeting about water and sewer rates.

Also at the Jan. 26 meeting, said Interim City Manager Mark Kunkler this past Monday night, the Council will look to approve an agreement with the Yakima engineering firm of Gray & Osborne for work to be done on the South First Street project. The Council will also be asked to approve a broad contract with the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, which will lay the work for future partnerships. Council will also look at authorizing Fire Chief Jim Stanton and Schatz to write off some uncollectable debts from the ambulance service within the fire department.

Councilman Bruce Ricks asked that the Jan. 26 meeting agenda also includes a report on the Lower Yakima County Rural Enterprise Community board of director's allocation of dollars for projects. The City of Sunnyside requested money from the REC to help fund the maintenance of SunnyView Park. At the request of Councilman Alex de la Cruz, there will be a presentation on Jan. 26 on the one-stop permit center the city's planning department is looking at implementing, and another report on the remodeling project at the Sunnyside jail that is set to begin. Adding on to de la Cruz's request from the planning department was Ricks, who asked for a report on a proposed landscaping ordinance, which has been in the works for sometime.

Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar also asked about ways to honor past council members at Centennial Square. Mayor Ed Prilucik requested Aguilar bring back cost estimates for her proposal. It wasn't clear if the item would be on the Jan. 26 meeting for discussion.

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