UDRC Feb. 1, 2023 Board Meeting Minutes

Attendees: Called to Order 2:00PM
Jim Larsen, President
Dean Richardson, Vice President
Glenna Larsen, Treasurer
Carol Brennan, Secretary
Helen Marston, Board Member
A quorum was established

Agenda Items:
Officer Elections: All Officers volunteered to keep their same positions after a brief discussion.
MOTION TO APPROVE OFFICERS: passed by unanimous vote.

Home Hardening Pilot Program: The pilot program has been paused during November, December & January, due to snow on the ground and inclement weather. Jim Larsen discussed changes to the program for 2023, where the application process will be initiated online with a single form. The form will provide a list of projects homeowners can do and explain the 50% reimbursement benefit. It will ask the homeowner what type of work they want to do, so that the assessor can discuss the project and give advice. Once the application form is submitted, it will trigger a home assessment.. The assessment is returned to UDRC with comments, such as the anticipated project. The Assessor will leave a document that explains the procedure and time restrictions for submitting receipts. If the homeowner has questions, Glenna Larsen will be the lead on explaining the reimbursement process.

UDRC has not yet appointed a Project Coordinator; someone who can answer assessor questions, or provide backup if no volunteer assessor is available to do a wildfire risk assessment. Carol, Helen, and Dean volunteered to serve as Coordinators. As much as possible, referrals for questions will go to the Board member that lives in the general area. Each Board Member will back up the others, if some is unavailable.

The 2023 Home Hardening Program for 2023 will launch immediately after we hold a work session for existing assessors. The session will cover the new assessment form, the different programs offered, qualifications for each, and overall process for getting assistance. We expect to have the work session in the next week or two, schedules permitting.

Assessor Recruitment & Training: In early March, UDRC will begin recruiting for volunteer assessors and hold at least 1 training session. Feedback for Assessors emphasized that they want to work in their own neighborhoods. The Board will target Firewise Communities, and recipients of cash assistance to reach a broader audience. The goal is to have assessors within each neighborhood, or group of smaller neighborhoods. Training will be revised to shorten the PowerPoint, and emphasize SB 762 requirements, as they are developed. Board members will submit ideas on Volunteer Appreciation events or gifts, to encourage membership.

Grant Applications & Management: The Board discussed upcoming grant opportunities for defensible space grants.  Still no result from Oregon USFS on the CWDG (Community Wildfire Defense Grant). The request is for a roadside chipping program. In January, UDRC submitted an application for the OFSM (Office of the State Fire Marshall) Defensible Space grant. Awardees are to be announced sometime in March 2023. The application has two parts: Low-income homeowner defensible space assistance and sponsorship for HOA’s and Firewise Communities to do community projects.

The 2023 Wildfire Defensible Space Reimbursement Program, funded by Maybelle Clark Macdonald Foundation was opened for applications on January 15th. UDRC has already approved 23 applications. There are 16 openings left for the spring program that will close on June 1st. A fall program will launch sometime after June 1st. Demand continues to be very strong.

Jim Larsen sent the final report on the BNSF Railway grant, and is in the process of applying for another year of funds to keep the defensible space reimbursement program continuing.

OFSM awarded UDRC $10,000 for continuation of the defensible space reimbursement program. A contract is in the works for using funds in 2023. The Firewise group in River Forest Acres received a grant for $5,000 from Deschutes County, to fund neighborhood projects, such as a tool-sharing library, and purchase of rock to replace bark mulch adjacent to homes. UDRC agreed to sponsor the grant and is working on procedures with the Firewise lead, Chris McCleod.

Year-End Financial Report: Glenna Larsen went over the financial reports and explained 2023 budgets.Glenna has all information to file the form 990, and will begin that work this month.

Mileage Reimbursement Policy: In conjunction with a years’ old policy, Glenna has been reimbursing Dean for mileage to assessments, and to Board Meetings. To make the policy clear, Glenna suggested that the Board vote on a Motion to make the mileage reimbursement benefit available to all Board Members.

Also noted, Board members are not required to claim mileage, and it remains voluntary for Board members to submit mileage claims. Payments will be made quarterly. Assessors are already reimbursed for mileage to do assessments. They are not reimbursed for mileage to Board Meetings, or training sessions. UDRC does, however, plan to increase its Volunteer appreciation efforts in 2023, within reasonable budgetary limits.

Public Meetings Survey: The Board discussed the relatively weak attendance at public outreach events. A number of factors contribute to weak attendance: COVID fears, absence of a marketing plan, and weak response from our mailing list. A number of suggestions were discussed: seeking assistance from Monte Dammarell (former Board member), soliciting marketing help, targeting firewise groups, announcing meetings to local fire agencies, Chamber of Commerce. The decision was made to scale back public meetings this year, and start with a goal of having a spring kick-off meeting that will feature the new Firewise Coordinator, County Forester, and Fire Marshall representative. Target for the meeting is mid-late April.

Strategic Plan Review: UDRC made significant progress on strategic plan goals, primarily in the areas of financial processes, policies, procedures, and document updates. Grant writing was restructured to a volunteer function, which has proven to be a vast improvement over the past structure, which was unsustainable. UDRC made significant headway on increasing its volunteer base and visibility with agencies.

Areas where we need to focus in 2023 include: develop a marketing plan, cross-train for Board Functions, recruit additional Board members, build up operating budgets, get an independent financial review, keep up with the ever-changing requirements of SB 762 and how it will affect local homeowners.
This is a 3-year strategic plan, so not every goal was intended to be reached in Year 1. It is a point of focus to build up presence, financial capability, and strengthen our ability to perform our mission.

Next regular Board Meeting: in Spring, to be arranged via email later.

Adjourn: 4:10PM