INVITING CAR ENTHUSIASTS to the 20th annual Heritage Days car show on Saturday, June 26, are members of the Clatskanie Cruisers car club. Pictured in front are Dick and Gini Mickel with their 1961 Chevy Impala which won “best host car” at the 2009 car show. Chief Photo by Veronica K. Willson
Celebrating two decades of “Cruisin’ in Clatskanie,” the Clatskanie Cruisers Car Club will jumpstart the Heritage Days celebration this Saturday, June 26, with the 20th annual Heritage Cruise car show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In honor of the event, which draws collector vehicles from all over the western United States and Canada, the theme of this year’s Heritage Days celebration is “Cruisin’ in Clatskanie.”
If the weather cooperates, the cruisers are expecting the biggest show ever, including 17 cars coming from Canada.
Trophies, many of them sponsored by local businesses, will be given in dozens of different categories. The event will also include a poker walk, food vendors, raffles, kids games and music by Runaway Productions. For more information about the car show visit www.clatskanie.com/cruisers or call Donna at 503 728-3460.
CAC Pancake Breakfast
Car show day will begin with a Clatskanie Arts Commission-sponsored pancake breakfast fundraiser Saturday, June 26, from 7-10 a.m. at the Clatskanie American Legion Hall, 930 NE 5th Street.
Cost is $6 per person and $4 for children under 10 years old.
Menu includes pancakes, eggs, sausage links, biscuits and gravy, coffee, juice and milk.
Shuttle transportation from the car show in the city park will be available.
Pie Bakers Compete
Also this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Clatskanie Chapter T P.E.O. will hold its annual “Pie in the Park” pie sale.
In conjunction with the sale, pie bakers of all ages are encouraged to enter the pie baking contest.
Pies submitted for judging should arrive at the pie booth between 9 and 10 a.m. on the morning of June 26. Judging will begin at 10 a.m.
Adult (age 18 and older) pie categories are fruit, holiday specialty and sugar-free. Youth (17 and under) categories are fruit and holiday specialty. All pies entered in the contest must have homemade crusts.
Both pies entered for judging and pies baked by local members of the P.E.O. sisterhood will be sold by the slice.
Carnival Runs July 1-4
Heritage Days activities will resume on Thursday, July 1, when Haworth Family Shows carnival will begin operating on the east end of the Clatskanie City Park.
The carnival rides and games will run from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, July 1-2, and from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 3. Sunday, the 4th of July will see the carnival open at 12 noon.
Thursday is “Buddy Day” when one armband may be purchased for $20, and a second armband will be given for free if both parties ate present at the time of purchase.
Armbands will also be available on Friday and Saturday, July 2 and 3, but on Sunday, July 4, the tickets will be sold for $1.25 each or a sheet of 20 for $22. All rides take 2-4 tickets.
The Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce’s Heritage Days fund receives a portion of the proceeds of the carnival, which are used to help pay for the other costs of the celebration.
Talent Show, Coronation July 2
Talented local residents are invited to participate in the annual Heritage Days Talent Show on Friday, July 2, at 7 p.m. in the Donavon Wooley Performing Arts Center auditorium at Clatskanie Middle/High School.
Talent show practice will be held all day on Thursday, July 1, by appointment. Those wishing more information or to schedule an appointment contact Dave Borgstrom at 503 728-4248 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured during the talent show will be the coronation of the Heritage Days queen as well as a performance by the “princesses-in-training.” (See photo and caption on page 1).
Four princesses – Chelsea Backlin, Mikkelann Briggs, Annie Hulegaard and Kierra Kallunki – have been making appearances at various organizations and events. Voting by attendees at the those events will determine the queen.
The Heritage Days court final appearance before the coronation will be at the meeting of the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, July 1, at 12 noon in the banquet room of Hump’s Restaurant.
Poker Paddle, Strut Your Mutt, Movies, Sock Hop Set for July 3
A full day of events centering in the Clatskanie city park are scheduled for Saturday, July 3, including food and vendors all day.
The Clatskanie River Poker Paddle and canoe races, which benefit Turning Point Community Service Center, will begin at 10 a.m. July 3. For more information and to pre-register visit the website at clatskanieturningpoint.org.
The annual “Strut Your Mutt” dog show will take center stage in the city park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and canines of all kinds are invited to bring their humans to the light-hearted competition.
A no-host all-school reunion will begin in the park in the covered picnic area at 12 noon on July 3.
Teen Night, sponsored in part by the Clatskanie Together Coalition, will include reduced admission prices at the carnival for teens and an outdoor movie after dark in the city park.
A family night movie, sponsored by the Parents Supporting Education Association, is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Clatskanie Elementary School on Saturday, July 3. The Kiwanis Club of Clatskanie is also helping to sponsor the teen and family night events.
In keeping with the “Cruisin’ in Clatskanie” theme, a 1950 and ‘60s-style “sock hop,” featuring music by David Marcellino, is set from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Clatskanie American Legion Hall.
Admission to the dance is $3 for singles and $5 for couples.
Hot dogs, popcorn, chips and soda will be available for purchase.
Baseball Alumni Games
Clatskanie High School baseball alumni games, sponsored by the Clatskanie Park and Recreation District, are set for Saturday, July 3, at the Ron Puzey baseball field at Clatskanie Middle/High School.
A home run derby will start at 10 a.m., followed by batting practice at 11:30 a.m. Game 1 featuring 1996 and earlier baseball alums will start at 1 p.m. Game 2, featuring 1997 and later players, will begin at 3:30 p.m.
A barbecue will follow the games at 5 p.m.
For more information and to pre-register, call Bryan Davis at 503 728-9336.
The cost to register is $20 which includes an alumni T-shirt and the barbecue.
Davis said that approximately 40 persons are already registered to play, and T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 60 registrants.
Freedom Bike Ride Rolls Out on 4th
The 4th of July will get off to a rolling start with the third annual Heritage Freedom Bike Ride, made possible by the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Delena Baptist Church.
The ride will begin at 7 a.m. at the Clatskanie City Park and end there as well. Two routes are offered – an eigh-mile family or “fat tire” ride – and a 25-mile long route. Both of them feature beautiful scenery and historic sites around the Clatskanie area.
For more information contact Kris Lillich at 503 728-2051 or go to www.clatskaniedays.com/bike. html.
Parade Cruises on 4th
The annual 4th of July parade, led by grand marshals Dee and Elsa Wooley, will cruise down Nehalem Street at 11 a.m. on July 4th.
Parade entries are encouraged to incorporate the theme of “Cruisin’ in Clatskanie.”
Organized by the Clatskanie Fire Department, the parade’s walking units will form at the Clatskanie Elementary School parking area by the Cardiff gym, while motorized units will form in the back parking lot at Clatskanie Middle/High School.
Parade applications are available online at www.clatskaniedays. com/interim.html. They are also available at the Clatskanie fire station and at the office of The Clatskane Chief .
In the interest of safety this year, parade participants are asked to not throw candy or favors from any moving vehicle. Candy may be handed or gently thrown by walkers.
Parade trophies and ribbons will be given in the categories of adults, children, commercial floats, non-commercial floats, horse entries (must bring cleanup crew), civic groups, organized adult groups, organized youth groups, pickup/cars- pre ‘60s, pickup/cars post ‘60s, motorized equipment, commercial trucks, and courts.
Barbecue, Logging Show, Action and Fun in Park on 4th
Events will center in the park after the parade with the annual Kiwanis chicken barbecue fundraiser, Kiwanis bingo, kids trout derby, live music, the carnival, booths and vendors.
Pole climbing, log rolling, boom run, steeplechase, obstacle pole, double buck, choker set, axe throw, hot saws and much more will be featured in the annual Heritage Days Logging Show beginning at 1 p.m.
The public is invited to join in the action or just watch, as logging show competitors from around the region, including some members of the Knappa High School forestry program’s state champion forestry team compete.
The Skirvin family is again organizing the logging show.
Members of the Wyldlife youth program will be circulating through the crowd on the 4th, renting ducks for the annual rubber ducky races on the Clatskanie River on the evening tide on the 4th.
Chess players are invited to Checkmate Park at the corner of Nehalem and Lillich streets on the 4th to play “giant” chess.
At dark on the 4th, the annual fireworks display will light up the skies above Clatskanie. They will be ignited from the city wastewater plant located across the Clatskanie River from the Beaver boat ramp on the town’s west side, so the fireworks are visible from many locations around town, including the park.
Buttons and Raffles
Clatskanie Heritage Days supporter buttons and raffle tickets are now on sale at various businesses around the community, and will also be on sale in the Heritage Days information booth during the events.
Raffle prizes include a Traeger barbecue donated by Hazen Hardware, one night’s stay at the Clatskanie River Inn, two $20 gift certificates donated by Fultano’s Pizza, gift baskets donated by Wauna Federal Credit Union and Sterling Savings Bank, a gift certificate to the Cultivator General Store, a birdhouse donated by Clatskanie Floral, and gifts donated by Clatskanie Builders Supply and Clatskanie Family Chiropractic.
Contributions of all sizes are needed. Tax deductible checks may be made out to the Clatskanie Foundation and specified for either the logging show or fireworks. Checks should be sent to Clatskanie Heritage Days, P.O. Box 635, Clatskanie, OR 97016.
Vendor Spaces Available
Vendors for July 3-4 are still being sought. Applications are available at www.clatskaniedays. com/vendors.html, at The Clatskanie Chief office or by contacting Clatskanie Heritage Days chair Dave Borgstrom at 503 728-4248 or e-mail email@example.com.
Fireworks Sale Benefits Youth Wrestling
Clatskanie Youth Wrestling will be operating a fireworks booth from June 28 through July 4, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., near Jo’s Country Market alongside Highway 30.
All proceeds will go towards a youth wrestling program for kindergarten through fifth graders.
by Deborah Steele Hazen
Clatskanie School District’s budget is about $320,000 short of balancing because of a shortfall in state school funding, Superintendent Ed Serra told the budget committee at a special meeting Monday, June 21.
Serra said he was hoping to reach a tentative agreement with the teachers union – Clatskanie Education Association – prior to the adoption of the budget, under which the union would agree to unpaid furlough days to balance the budget. However, the superintendent said that union leadership had declined such an agreement prior to formal negotiations on a new contract.
With state law demanding that the district adopt a balanced budget no later than June 30, Serra said he would present a budget cutting four more teaching positions plus special education cuts at the school board’s meeting Monday, June 28.
The budget previously approved by the budget committee already required the elimination of five teachers and 3.75 FTE (full-time equivalent) classified positions.
A letter to school board and budget committee members, signed by Serra and business manager Janine Salisbury and presented at Monday’s meeting, reads as follows:
“On Monday, May 24, 2010, the Budget Committee approved the 2010-2011 budget for the Clatskanie School District at a general fund level of $7,457,912. This assumed total state formula revenue of $6,591,942. Over the following two days, the District received written notices from the State Department of Education that, due to decreased state revenues, the District’s total state formula revenue would be only $6,271,323. This is a 5 percent reduction.
“This reduction in state formula support caused a $320,000 hit to our already approved budget for the fiscal year that begins in just 9 days. Personnel costs under the currently approved budget represent 83 percent of general fund expense. In order to balance the reduced budget, the District Administration developed a plan that would include 9 furlough days for all staff, cut a 0.5 full time equivalent teacher from special education program, reduce the special education secretary from 800 to 480 hours per year, reduce instructional aide time by an average of one-half hour per day per position, and cut the additional 16 hours pay to teachers for job-related activities. (Special education teachers would retain those 16 hours because of the amount of paperwork they are required to do.) These cuts come on top of the painful staff cuts that were already made in the approved budget. The Administration believes that this proposal minimizes the negative effects of this grim situation.
“As you know, both the certified and the classified labor contracts expire on June 30, 2010. The classified contract does not contain any provisions preventing the reductions described above. The certified contract does, so the Administration approached their association with the proposal. The certified association’s letter to the District which opens negotiations stated ‘the Association is willing to discuss ways to help with the current budget crisis in any capacity that the members deem economically and morally responsible.’ The certified association, however, said they could not agree at this time to a reduction in the length of the school year or to curtail the 16 hours additional pay.
“The current certified contract contains the following language concerning the length of the school year:
“‘The teacher work year shall consist of 190 days each year, including 180 student contact days, one in-service day, three teacher workdays… and six holidays… If schools are closed… teacher salaries will not be docked.’ (Article 14)
“This language guarantees 190 days pay for certified employees regardless of the length of the school year. The teachers’ 16 hours additional pay costs about $32,000 and brings them to 192 paid days. Certified pay is about 58% of the $25,000 per day savings available from furlough days.
“The refusal of the certified association to negotiate now on the proposed reductions leaves us in the position of having to recommend to the Board that we layoff an additional 4 teachers; 2 at the elementary school and 2 at the mid/high school. We will have to pay unemployment compensation to these laid off teachers that would be avoided if we could reach an early agreement on the proposal. The increased unemployment expense will further degrade our educational program which is already lacking electives. We will have difficulty maintaining our accreditation.
“We remain hopeful that the teachers will become more flexible concerning the school year length and the 16 hours additional pay, but at this time we see no other option than cutting 4 more teachers.
“The purpose of this meeting is to provide information. The administration believes that the Budget Committee can no longer act because we already have an approved budget. In this situation, the School Board must make the difficult decisions.”
In presenting the proposal to cut more teaching positions, as opposed to furlough days, Serra said that the sixth grade classrooms at Clatskanie Elementary School could reach 45 students each – too big for the classrooms. “We might have to team teach them in the gym,” he said.
He also emphasized that under the furlough proposal, the cuts would be shared by all school district personnel – “from the bus drivers to the superintendent.”
The proposed furloughs would save the district about $45,000 per day. “What I like about that strategy – not that I like anyone to lose their pay – but that everyone is affected equally,” said Serra
Teachers “Prepared to Begin” Negotiation Talks
In his June 11th letter to Serra, Clatskanie Education Association (CEA) president Brad Thorud wrote:
“The Clatskanie Education Association is prepared to begin negotiations on a successor agreement. Our bargaining team has been selected and we are prepared to begin as soon as possible. Also, the Association is willing to discuss ways to help with the current budget crisis in any capacity that the members deem economically and morally responsible.
“As we prepare for negotiations, we are requesting copies of the adopted budget, current list of certified employees with their step and column, as well as any current insurance infomation. That information should include the number of employees choosing each current plan, and the total cost of both salaries and insurance.” (Salisbury said that information had been provided to the teachers’ union.)
The letter from Thorud concluded: “Please provide me with several dates in the next few weeks so we can insure that our teams have their calendars marked for our important discussions.”
Thorud’s letter was written before Serra asked him about the tentative agreement (TA) on furlough days.
Despite the lack of a TA prior to the adoption of the budget, Serra said “I’m very hopeful on the outcome of early negotiations. Many of their (CEA) members are saying you’ve got to work with the district, you’ve got to save staff.”
The CEA contract expires June 30, but under state law teachers continue to work under the terms of the expired contract until and if an impasse in negotiations is reached.
Serra noted that “we do not have money for COLAs” (cost of living allowances), but the teachers’ annual “step” increases as well as higher costs of insurance are built into the 2010-11 budget. During the 2009-10 fiscal year, the teachers contract provided for four percent COLAs, in addition to the step increases.
Under the current contract, Clatskanie teachers receive annual step increases ranging from a high of 4 percent for beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree moving from step 1, to 2.25 percent for a teacher with a master’s degree plus 45 credit hours who is moving from step 15 (15 years of experience) to step 16. The mid-range for step increases is 2.8 to 2.9 percent per year, according to Salisbury.
A beginning Clatskanie teacher with a bachelor’s degree currently makes $34,994 per year, while a teacher with a master’s degree plus 45 credit hours on Step 16 currently makes $63,676.
Budget Hearing Set Monday
A public hearing and adoption of the proposed 2010-11 budget is set for 6 p.m. next Monday, June 28, in the district office board room in the Community Education Center, 555 SW Tichenor Street in Clatskanie.
School board member Dave True said that he could not support a budget cutting additional teachers. Since the teachers’ contract expires June 30, True said he believes the furlough days should be “built into the budget.”
However, Serra said the school district’s attorney had advised that “even when you don’t have a contract in place, you’re basically working off of last year’s contract.” It is his belief that without a TA for furlough days with the CEA, the district has no choice but to cut more teaching positions. Those positions could be restored if the teachers agree to unpaid furloughs.
Unfortunately, Serra said, the Oregon Education Association (OEA) statewide teachers’ union has given teachers the impression that the state has more money to give to school districts. Most sources say that is not so.
“I hope this information will get the community to pressure the union to agree to furlough days,” said Serra. “We don’t want to cut staff. We don’t want our students to suffer any more.”
Budget committee member Cami Sprague stated her opinion that “I don’t think our community realizes how serious the situation is.”
School board member Karen George said she had talked with parents and staff who are interested in exploring the idea of merging high schools with Rainier.
Board Meeting Monday
Following the 6 p.m. budget hearing next Monday, June 28, the Clatskanie school board will hold a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. with budget adoption, health curriculum, the AmberVision missing child alert system and the classified employee contract on the agenda as action items.
Heritage Days Princess Annie Hulegaard has always loved the 4th of July in Clatskanie – the way “the entire community comes together.”
The 16-year-old daughter of Robin FouchŽ and Bob Hulegaard of Clatskanie, Annie is a triplet, sharing her birthday with brothers Conner and Brendan. She also has an older sister Christy, 20, a junior at Oregon State University, and a brother Tyler, 18, who graduated from Clatskanie High School this month.
Annie just completed her junior year at CHS, but is taking her classes at Lower Columbia College as part of the advanced college placement program. She will receive her high school diploma next year, and then plans to attend a four-year university.
Moving with her family to the Clatskanie area at the age of three, Annie considers this her hometown. Several years ago, the family began remodeling the old Co-op Building on Beaver Falls Road into their home.
For her speech as a member of the Heritage Days court, Annie has researched local events during the time period between 1936 and 1960 and has been interested to learn about the dances that were held during that time period in the building – then known as the “pavilion” – which is now her home.
Annie is actively involved in the Clatskanie Baptist Church and its youth group. She also enjoys scrapbooking and journaling, babysitting and working with kids. She will put her love for children to good use this summer as a counselor at the Lake Retreat Camp and Conference Center near Tacoma. But, she will be coming back to Clatskanie for Heritage Days activities.
As the child of a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Annie has always found American history interesting.
This year she’s excited to have the opportunity to be a part of her hometown’s 4th of July celebration.
by Deborah Steele Hazen
Although a shortfall in state school funding may require further cuts, the Rainier School District board of directors adopted a $11,756,376 budget at its meeting Monday, June 21.
The budget, which is based on the $5.8 billion statewide school funding level, was previously approved by the budget committee.
Subsequently, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski announced that state revenue decreases would require across the board cuts to all programs supported by the state’s general fund, including education.
It is currently being estimated by the Oregon Department of Education that funding for the 2010-11 school year will be at about the $5.7 biennial statewide level, rather than the $6 billion promised by the legislature.
“We aren’t going to cut from $5.8 to $5.7 now,” Rainier School Superintendent Michael Carter explained to the school board.
However, at the request of the school board, the administration presented a list of potential ways to trim the budget that would each save $100,000.
That list includes: 1. Cutting three grade days and one in-service day for staff – described as having the least impact on students; 2. Eliminating a half-time literacy specialist and band or vocational agricultural program – the least impact on class size; 3. Cut three school days – least impact on programs; 4. Cut another three school days; 5. and 6. Reduce athletics or the swimming pool – least impact on student/teacher contact time; 7. Cut the band or vocational agriculture program and music or physical education – least impact on core instruction.
OSEA Contract Approved
Carter reported that the leadership of the Rainier chapter of the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA) classified union and representatives of the board met and reached a proposed contract agreement.
The three-year contract was previously approved by the union members, and was unanimously approved by the board at Monday’s meeting.
For 2009-10, Rainier’s classified employees took a “freeze” in both step increases and cost of living allowance (COLA), with a $500 lump sum payment to be made in the second year of the contract. For 2010-11, the classified employees will receive a 3.7 percent step increase and a ninth step was added to the salary schedule. They will receive no COLA for 2010-11.
For the third year of the contract, 2011-12, the employees will receive 3.7 step increases, plus a one percent COLA, and a $300 lump sum payment for employees already at step nine at the end of year two.
In regard to benefits, they were frozen for 2009-10, and the contract calls for the district to increase its contribution to insurance by seven percent in both 2010-11 and 2011-12.
“It was a very collaborative effort,” Carter said of the classified union negotiations.
The district has been negotiating for over a year with the Rainier Education Association teacher’s union, and has yet to reach an agreement.
Rainier Schools Meet AYP
Carter proudly announced that kindergarten through 12th grade at Hudson Park Elementary (HPE) and Rainier Junior/Senior High School (RJSHS) had achieved the federally-defined “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) in all areas.
The only portion of the district not to achieve AYP was the North Columbia Academy charter school in the area of attendance.
Wimmer Appointed to Board; Safety Concerns Addressed
After interviewing four candidates during a work session prior to the regular meeting, the school board appointed Bobby Wimmer to the zone 2 position on the school board that had been vacated by the resignation of Scott Schuff.
Wimmer, a meterman for Portland General Electric and chair of its apprentice program, will be seated on the board at its July 12th meeting. His appointment will expire next year at which time he, as well as other residents of the district, could run for a full term on the board.
In other action at the meeting, the board:
• Approved a request for students to raise funds for a trip to France next summer led by art teacher Elizabeth Bailey. The trip will not cost the district any money.
• Approved implementation of the AmberVision system which uses the current AMBER Alert systems and software to get the word out quickly about missing children.
• Heard concerns about safety from parents in regard to being notified if students do not come to school, and about young students walking unescorted on campus. Superintendent Carter said a program to call parents if students are absent would be instituted in the fall. He said he would look into the issue about young students walking alone on the 260-acre rural campus. A camera surveillance system is now being installed.
• Approved a drop-out recovery program.
• Approved a leave of absence for Rachell Coffee, charter school assistant.
• Heard, but did not act upon a request from sixth grade band teacher Julia Holmes to match a $2000 donation from the Parent Teachers Organization to purchase new instruments for sixth grade band members.
• Approved posting of full-time language arts and full-time science teaching positions.
Under the consent agenda, the school board:
• Accepted the resignation of Kim Wilson, RJSHS science teacher;
• Approved the hirings of Serena Hazapis as school nurse, Jill Glinert as special education teacher, and Laurie Kash as director of special education/student services director.
• Accepted donations of a $500 scholarship for a graduating senior, $500 for the HPE library, and $100 for the RJSHS library from Midco, the district’s transportation contractor; donation of winter coats for students from Harding and Daughters; donation of a pair of Aldan front coil-over shocks from Flat Out Engineering, and a donation of $1000 for the HPE Library “bikes for books” program from the Rainier Masonic Lodge.
Non-Renewal Upheld, Calendar Postponed
After an executive session, the board voted unanimously to uphold the superintendent’s decision not to renew the contract for probationary teacher David Bahr, and agreed to postpone action on a calendar for the 2010-11 school year.
No Apology to Clatskanie
In response to a letter received from the Clatskanie School District board of directors on the topic of a disparaging remark about the Clatskanie football team which was reported to have been made by Rainier High School teacher and coach Thor Ware while he was giving a speech at the Rainier graduation ceremony, director Dale Archibald said “I don’t believe we owe them (the Clatskanie school board) an apology. Thor did an outstanding motivational talk to his kids.”
Archibald added that Ware had made remarks about other schools, in addition to Clatskanie during his speech.
“I believe that our football teams can be rivals and our districts can work together,” said board member Alison Dale-Moore.
The Daily News reported that Ware urged Rainier graduates not to get “stuck in the mud – like the Clatskanie offense.”
The letter signed by Clatskanie school board chair Janet Willey that was sent to the Rainier board read, in part: “Such remarks might be deemed acceptable, if tasteless, in a pre-game session with his team. However, in the public forum at which they were presented, we find such remarks to be inappropriate, unprofessional, and insulting. Graduation ceremonies should be a time of positive comments, encouraging students to achieve their potential.
“We can appreciate a ‘friendly’ rivalry between neighboring schools, but Mr. Ware’s statement crossed the line. A high school coach is in a supremely influential position and should be teaching students about the benefits of discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship rather than belittling another team.
“During this economic crisis, we should be looking for all possible ways in which the Rainier and Clatskanie school districts and communities can work together in a supportive relationship. Unfortunately, this incident has caused quite the opposite effect; reversing much of the positive momentum we recently have been nurturing. We would appreciate and expect a decisive response to this unfortunate situation so that our two districts may continue to foster a mutually beneficial relationship.”
by Amanda Gail Moravec
Rainier City Council unanimously approved a $6.68 million budget for 2010-11 and related resolutions at its meeting Monday, June 21, but failed to reach agreement on water or sewer increases to avoid draining the city’s reserves.
In hopes of gathering public input on whether to raise sewer and/or water rates, or look for cuts elsewhere, the council set a special meeting next Monday, June 28, at 6 p.m. at Rainier city hall.
Mayor Jerry Cole, who said he would be unavailable for the June 28th meeting, nonetheless urged the city councilors to devote the first portion of the meeting to public input.
At this week’s meeting, city staff presented four proposals for increases in sewer or water rates – the most recent in a series of rate proposals prepared for the council’s consideration.
One of the water rate proposals and one of the sewer proposals were directed solely at the United States Gypsum (USG) plant in west Rainier, the city’s largest water and sewer customer, raising its costs significantly.
The proposal which would have created a fixed fee of $3000 per month for USG’s sewage service, plus a usage fee of $2.90 per 100 cubic feet was tabled on a motion by Councilor Russ Moon.
Councilor Mike Avent asked finance manager Debra Dudley for an estimate of “what the council’s indecision” is costing the city of Rainier every week and every month. “It’s critical that we make some decisions immediately.”
Councilor Phil Butcher moved, with a second by Moon, to raise the base rate for residential and commercial sewer customers from the current $31.25 to $35.50 per month, and the usage charge from $2.60 per 100 cubic feet to $2.90 per 100 cubic feet.
Avent joined in voting with them on the motion, but Councilors Sloan Nelson, Judith Taylor and Vernae Christophersen voted “nay,” creating a tie.
Saying that he had promised not to raise the sewer rates when the voters passed a general obligation (GO) bond to fund the construction of the new wastewater plant, Mayor Cole broke the tie by voting no and defeating the motion.
“What are we going to do next,” Avent said after the failure of the motion. “Now we have to sit here as a council and do cuts.”
“Yeah, let’s do it,” responded Taylor. “We have pay raises across the board.” She noted that she had made suggestions to the mayor and the council regarding potential cuts.
“We can’t keep funding our sewer repairs and rates out of the general fund or we lose our other services,” said Cole.
“We’re down a police officer and a public works employee,” Butcher noted. “We’re running short-handed already.”
“We need to give the community the opportunity to know what they might be losing” if the council does not raise the water and sewer rates, Councilor Nelson said.
“I appreciate you guys trying to keep our rates down,” said citizen Scott Cooper. “On the other side, we all care about Rainier, and we wouldn’t mind hearing what the sour pill will be that we have to swallow to keep our city healthy and keep our services.”
“Are these the same sewer rates you told us would not be raised when we passed the GO bond?” asked Dearl Taylor from the audience.
“Tell us what you want cut,” responded Mayor Cole. “Do we cut a police officer? Or what? Maybe we come back to a version (of the water and sewer rate proposals). At least half of the council doesn’t feel comfortable with what has been presented.”
Attorney Contract Approved
A contract with the city attorney, which had been the topic of a contentious discussion at the June 7th meeting, was approved unanimously.
The three-year contract calls for a $300 per month retainer, $150 per hour for representation regarding criminal matters and $175 per hour for civil matters, plus additional fees for specialized work, reimbursement for “out-of-pocket” costs, and payment for a legal assistant at the rate of $100 per hour.
Enterprise Zone Deferral, Other Business
A resolution approving the deferral of employment requirements for the currently shutdown ethanol plant at the Port Westward Energy Park near Clatskanie was approved by the Rainier council.
Rainier is one of four sponsors of the enterprise zone, along with the City of Clatskanie, Columbia County and the Port of St. Helens. The action in effect extends the property tax exemptions for the plant, now owned by Cascade Kelly Holdings LLC.
Formerly owned by Cascade Grain Products, which declared bankruptcy, the plant is now the property of Cascade Kelly, the general contractor, and is for sale.
The council approved a proposal to remove a few trees on the south side of the water plant for a right-of-way for a previously approved subdivision.
Also approved was a memorandum of cooperation with Columbia County and other stakeholders “for the purpose of creating a cross-jurisdictional water conservaton and protection plan.”