East Carbon - Sunnyside merger mentioned publicly for first time
The East Carbon City Council passed several motions Tuesday aimed at fostering better communications between East Carbon and Sunnyside. While this has been done by previous councils, the city's eventual recommendation to begin work on officially joining the communities is something new.
"One of the most vital things we can do as a community is to learn better ways to communicate with one another. We are all here for the same reason, we all love this community," said East Carbon Council Member Barbara Robinett. "That is going to be one of this council's goals, that we have better communication between these communities."
Taking the issue one step further, city Mayor Orlando LaFontaine spoke to the growing notion that the two small cities should consider becoming one.
"After all of these years here and a job that I have had for seven years, I think my stand is now that these two cities need to be one," he explained. "I have never publicly said this before but there is constantly some situation. Issues with an ATV trail that we didn't get, plus a large amount of issues with the police department. The cost of one officer is a lot more than what Sunnyside is paying. We reduced their cost down to around $60,000. We have done all we can financially to make this work."
LaFontaine continued to discuss the city's current water project, which with CIB funding could produce more than 300,000 gallons of water for both East Carbon and Sunnyside.
"There has been a lot going on with this project, a lot of talk. It was printed in the newspaper that there wasn't a public hearing in Sunnyside, that we hadn't communicated with them, explained LaFontaine. "However, we have the minutes to show that there was indeed a hearing on June 12. And on top of that we did make contact with them through council member Robinett. The sad thing is, I think they forgot."
LaFontaine reiterated the project's importance, stating that not only would the city see additional water but vital repairs would be made to the community's water treatment plant if the project is approved and completed.
"We recently agreed to help with an ambulance service which Sunnyside could no longer support. Heaven forbid we don't have an ambulance service, every community needs one. Look what happened this week. We lost a young man and it really drives home the point that any of us could need an ambulance at any time." He was referring to the death of 42-year-old Tomas Hernandez of a still undetermined cause.
These arguments and the fact that the two cities are going after the same services makes it easy for agencies like the CIB to turn down the rural communities.
The mayor continued to discuss the fact that a community with over 2,000 residents does not have a library.
"There is so much more that we could have if we were to speak with one voice," he concluded. "I am suggesting to our council and attorney to form a committee which would look at joining these cities. We need to make sure everyone knows the situation. We are losing all of our young people to Price. We could have recreation if we would come together to get it."
Following the mayor's address, council member Robinett moved to request several joint council sessions with Sunnyside to explore the possibility of officially joining the towns. The motion passed unanimously.