Before naming Paul Eckert as the final city manager candidate at its meeting Monday, the Roseburg City Council commended Lance Colley for his seven years as city manager.

It was Colley’s last city council meeting — his official last day is April 30.

“This is a happy day for Lance as he enters the retirement phase of his life,” Mayor Larry Rich said. “This is also a very sad day for Roseburg, because we are losing an excellent city manager.”

Audience members gave Colley a standing ovation, and several city councilors teared up during Rich’s comments. Several of Colley’s friends came to watch his last meeting.

Colley thanked everyone for allowing him to serve the community.

“This is a little harder than I actually thought it was going to be, and I thought it was going to be hard,” he said about speaking at his last city council meeting.

Rich gifted Colley a framed picture of his city headshot, a key to the city and a watch. The city is holding a reception for Colley at 3 p.m. on Thursday in the Ford Community Room of the Roseburg Public Library.

After praising Colley’s work, the City Council named Public Works Director Nikki Messenger as interim city manager, approved funding sources to repair the Stewart Park Pavilion and accepted contract agreements for other city projects.

Messenger will be city manager for more than 30 days between Colley’s last day and the new city manager’s first day, according to Human Resources Director John VanWinkle.

“There’s really one clear choice for that appointment,” VanWinkle said. “Nikki Messenger has been with the city for a total of 20 years. She has experience working with each of our departments.”

Messenger will receive a 10% pay increase, taking on the full duties of city manager while maintaining her normal public works role.

The City Council then authorized city staff to apply for a $75,000 Oregon Parks and Recreation Local Government Grant to renovate the Stewart Park Pavilion, which Messenger said has exceeded its initial lifespan.

“It’s getting pretty aged,” Messenger said. “The roof has four leaks that we’ve identified, it has that heavy tile roof on it. So we would like to apply for a grant to renovate it, see how we can get some more light into it, do something with the fireplaces that are pretty defunct in the middle of it, pull that roof off and probably put a metal roof on it that’s lighter.”

The city has already applied for the parks department’s local government grant in the larger category — more than $75,000 — for renovations at Beulah Park.

The pavilion project would cost $125,000. In addition to the grant, the city would use $25,000 from the Stewart Park Trust Fund and another $25,000 from economic development and park improvement funds, which the city approved immediately after the grant discussion.

The City Council also awarded $519,829 to Kunert Electric LLC for several traffic safety improvement projects. The projects will be partially funded through a $462,946 grant the city has received from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s All Roads Transportation Safety Program.

“The intent of that program is to reduce serious injury and fatal accidents,” Messenger said. “So you look at crash data within the city, you look at what they call crash reduction factors, and we work with a consultant to put in these grant applications.”

The projects will include a pedestrian activated warning system and raised median refuge on Northeast Stephens Street near Northeast Roseland Avenue and pedestrian countdown signal heads on Northwest Stephens Street at Northwest Edenbower Boulevard and at Northeast Newton Creek Road and Northeast Stewart Parkway, among other improvements at major pedestrian areas.

Additionally, the City Council agreed to contract with Adapt’s Compass Behavioral Health program for a mobile crisis intervention program, which will be funded through a three-year $750,000 grant the city received from the Oregon Department of Justice.

The program allows Compass personnel to respond to calls for service that involve mental health, substance abuse or domestic violence with the Roseburg Police Department. The program has been in effect since March 1. Since then, Compass has been deployed between noon and midnight, because that’s when the data show the greatest concentration call involving mental health crises.

“It has been very successful,” Colley said. “Chief Klopfenstein, I think, has been really appreciative of the hard work that the folks at Compass are doing. In the very near future they hope to have two different people that will be deploying with us seven days a week.”

Max Egener can be reached at megener@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4217. Or follow him on Twitter @maxegener.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

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