Town council declares a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

The Waterville Town Council voted unanimously April 16 to institute a one-year moratorium on new cryptocurrency mining operations in town. Operations that were already licensed before April 16 will still be allowed to operate.

Town attorney Steve Smith warned council members that they will only have one year to formulate their cryptocurrency mining policy, so they need to spend this year to research issues involved and to formulate a policy for the town.

The main issues that Smith said were of concern to the town were life safety issues related to the fire hazards involved in the high amount of power consumed by the operations relative to electrical systems in buildings and the effects of this high power consumption for the town’s long-term planning.

The council adopted the ordinance as an emergency measure that did not require a public hearing beforehand. However, a public hearing was set for 6:30 p.m. May 21 for anyone who wants to give input on the moratorium.

In other matters, the council voted unanimously to vacate the east half of Franklin Street, from Poplar Street to First Street. Kevin and Ann Whitehall and Nicholas and Jillian Loebsack, who own neighboring properties, expressed the desire to purchase the section in order to give more space for jointly building a shop. The town will maintain a utility easement on the property. The families paid for the assessed value of the property, which is $18,000.

Marc Straub, who is running for the position of Douglas County Commissioner Position 3 in this fall’s general election, came to the meeting to introduce himself and to explain his reasons for running and his plans if elected. Commissioner Steve Jenkins, who currently holds the position, is not running for reelection.

Straub said that he feels positively about the direction in which the current commissioners have been leading county government. He is concerned with maintaining and nourishing the agricultural legacy of the county. He feels that certain state regulations pose an undue burden for the county, and if elected he will do what he can to work with state government to reduce some of these burdens. He also said that he hopes that the county can work more closely with the cities for their mutual benefit. Straub indicated that he is a fiscal conservative and will do everything he can to ensure county government runs efficiently.

The council received a quarterly report from the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society. During the first quarter of the year, 13 incidents were investigated. Six dogs, three cats and one other animal were received.

Council members also reviewed a quarterly code enforcement report and the town’s quarterly financial report.

New livestock permits for 10 chickens were approved for Carissa Miller-Isaac at 416 N. Baker and Taerrah Badten at 502 E. Birch St.

Chelan-Douglas Health District Board member Jill Thompson reported that the board had approved its annual report and an emergency response manual. The board also discussed a sharp increase in chronic Hepatitis C, which has been especially prevalent among the baby boomer generation. Thompson believes that the increase is partly due to increased screening for the disease. She recommended screening as the disease can cause liver cancer if left untreated.

Mayor Royal DeVaney reported that a cultural assessment will be completed for the Walnut Street project during May. Following the assessment, the town is expected to receive permission to go to bid for the project, which is being funded by the Transportation Improvement Board. Work will be completed next year.

DeVaney also reported on a recent infrastructure funding workshop held in Moses Lake. He said that the town does not qualify for most of the funding available and that in order to qualify for low interest loans, utility rates would need to increase significantly. He does not think the town should implement such significant increases in rates.

The town’s spring cleanup day is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. May 5 on a first-come, first-served basis. Usually Dumpsters fill by around 9 a.m., so it is advised to arrive early. The cost is $15 for a pickup, $20 for a pickup with sideboards, $25 for a trailer and $60 for a truck. Hazardous waste will not be accepted at this event. Household waste and vegetative waste will be accepted. The event will be held at the maintenance shop behind town hall.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 7.