By Pat Caldwell
NYSSA – Nyssa City Manager Jim Maret is a man focused on a mission: Keep Nyssa moving into the future and help it thrive.
Right now no other project exemplifies his focus than the work at the new city water treatment plant.
The $5.7 million project broke ground in August and construction crews have been hard at work since.
The treatment plant, situated just across the Snake River from Nyssa, is part of a project that will drop arsenic levels in the city’s water by a miniscule amount. The project, though, was required after the federal Environmental Protection Agency lowered its baseline standard for the mineral 16 years ago.
Maret said even though the work is going forward he is still involved on a daily basis. He said he answers a dozen emails a day about the project and makes regular visits to the new plant. He also keeps a close eye on expenditures.
“I have to review the budget of it, so I make sure we stay within our means,” said Maret.
For Maret, the water treatment plant project represents how important planning for the future is and why it must be a methodical process.
“For me, and the mayor, we didn’t want a 10-year fix. We wanted to get the 30- to 50-year fix and that is what I look at,” said Maret.
Another example of that planning is one of the three new water tanks at the plant. Maret said at one point officials faced a decision: Use a glass-lined tank or a standard container. Maret said he chose the glass-lined tank because “it lasts forever.”
Maret said work on the water treatment plan should be completed by autumn 2018.
“The arsenic level will be gone by then basically. We will probably have the best drinking water around. We shouldn’t have any issue for quite some time,” said Maret.
Maret said he is also busy promoting Nyssa. While he wouldn’t go into detail, Maret said there is some interest about creating new businesses in town.
“I’ve actually showed some folks around Nyssa who are interested in maybe purchasing some property,” he said.
Another potential big boost for Nyssa said Maret would be if the new rail-shipping center is built nearby.
The Malheur County Development Corp., the group that will oversee the rail shipping facility, is reviewing five sites in the county for the facility.
At such a facility, farm products are trucked in and then loaded onto special trains that can make a run to the east coast in a matter of days. Each train holds several hundred truckloads of goods, lowering freight costs and allowing faster delivery. The center, which could employ up to 125 people, is expected to be a big boost for Malheur County’s onion industry.
Maret said the residual impact from such a facility near Nyssa would be significant.
“Think about what happens, the things that would surround that site. What would be the next opportunity there? A truck stop?” said Maret said.
While Maret said he has no idea if a site for the facility would be near Nyssa, he said he believes one way or another the town is going to grow soon.
“I was talking to my public works guy the other day and I told him, ‘Be prepared because we are going to grow.’ I don’t know how fast or how big but we will grow within the next two or three years,” said Maret.
Have a news tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at email@example.com or 541-473-3377.