25 August 2010 by Published in: News No comments yet

Ready for the Strart of School

EXCITED AND READY TO LEARN are students from Clatskanie Elementary School waiting in anticipation of the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. Pictured from left to right is Zoee Ylen, Makayla Henry, Mackenzie Henry, Sabrina Trujillo, Ashley Lankard, Jadyn Warren, Alyssa Shefstad, Junior Sims and Blake Lorenzen. Chief Photo by Veronica K. Willson

WELCOMING BACK STUDENTS at Rainier Junior/Senior High School (RJSHS) with ethusiasim is Principal Mark Bernhardt. Pre-registration day is Monday, Aug. 30 with the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 7, beginning at 8 a.m. Chief Photo by Veronica K. Willson

Election Filings Assure a Few Interesting Local Races

The close of filings Tuesday, Aug. 24, for local offices on the November general election ballot brought news of some interesting races.

Some changes of faces on the Rainier city council are assured.

Scott Cooper is the only candidate for position 1 on the council for which David Langford is the incumbent.

Langford has filed for position 5 along with Hank Bartholomew, who has been critical of the council’s recent decision-making process.

Judith Taylor, the current holder of position 5, has filed for mayor against incumbent Jerry Cole.

Incumbent Russ Moon is unopposed for re-election to his position 3, as is incumbent Sloan Nelson for position 4.

William Vilardi has filed for position 6 on the Rainier city council. Vernae Christophersen currently holds position 6, to which she was appointed, but she is not seeking election to the council.

Not up for election this year are position 2, held by Mike Avent, and position 7, held by Phil Butcher.

As previously reported, Clatskanie’s city council filings closed Aug. 17. Four candidates are running for three at-large positions on the council – incumbents Ron Puzey and Toby Harris, as well as two newcomers to city politics, Travis Zea and Dennis Short.

The top three vote-getters in November will be elected.

Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl is unopposed for re-election.

For the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD), incumbents, Janet Willey, subdivision 3, and Don Hooper, subdivision 4, are unopposed for re-election.

Carol Everman, the incumbent for the Columbia River PUD position 5, representing the rural Rainier area, is being challenged by Grant W. Gillis.

Incumbent Loren Tarbell is unopposed for the Scappoose area subdivision 2 seat on the Columbia River PUD board.

Filings for the three seats up for election on the Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District board of directors are incumbents Randolph Bergman, zone 1, and K.C. Van Natta, zone 3. Lona Pierce has filed for the at-large position 2.

Incumbent Columbia County clerk Betty Huser is unopposed for re-election.

While the Republican and Democratic candidates for Columbia County commissioner position 2, Terry Luttrell and Henry Heimuller, respectively, were selected by their parties in the May primary election, Scappoose businessman Wayne Mayo, an independent, has qualified to run against them in November. Incumbent Rita Bernhard is retiring.

Two measures have been placed on the November ballot by the Columbia County board of commissioners.

Measure No. 5-206 would make county commissioner positions non-partisan beginning in 2012.

Measure No. 5-208 is a Columbia County veterans services operating levy, which would collect 3.5 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

Clatskanie School District Reaches Tentative Agreement with Teachers

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Negotiation teams for the Clatskanie School District and the Clatskanie Education Association (CEA) reached a tentative contract agreement during a session Tuesday evening, Aug. 24.

Superintendent Ed Serra said it is expected that the CEA negotiation team will present the tentative agreement to its membership within the next week.

If it is approved by the teachers union the school board is expected to schedule a special meeting soon.

“I feel hopeful that the contract is a good contract, and that the district team will recommend ratification once the contract is ratified by the union,” Serra told The Chief Tuesday night.

Ratification of the Clatskanie School Employees Association (CSEA) classified union contract might also occur at a special meeting, if contract language issues, which were the topic of an executive session of the school board Monday night, are ironed out.

Details of the contracts would be released once the agreements are approved by both the unions and the district..

Policy Revisions Approved

Policy revisions and reports on preparations for the start of school were on the agenda for the school board at its meeting Monday, Aug. 23.

The board approved revisions recommended by the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) in regard to “student welfare – suicide” and reporting requirements regarding sexual conduct with students.

The suicide policy directs the superintendent “to initiate and establish an aggressive, comprehensive suicide prevention progam.”

The policy regarding sexual conduct states that “sexual conduct by district/school employees as defined by Oregon law will not be tolerated.” It requires that any district or school employee who has reasonable cause to believe that another employee or volunteer with the district has engaged in sexual conduct with a student must immediately notify their supervisor or the person identified by the district to receive such reports.

As defined by Oregon law, “sexual conduct” is “any verbal or physical conduct…that is sexual in nature; directed toward a kindergarten through grade 12 student; unreasonably interferes with a student’s educational performance; and creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.”

The policy also provides for the reporting procedures, investigation of complaints, appeals process, and training to district employees, parents and students.

District administrators reported on various preparations for the start of school and scheduled events which are reported elsewhere in this issue.

Financial Frustrations

Finance manager Janine Salisbury reported that the citizens committee which was looking into the possibility of a bond levy to address facility maintenance needs, realized that it did not have time to place a proposal on the November general election ballot.

The committee, which is expected to begin meeting again soon, is considering other possible election dates.

On the topic of school finance, Serra reported that Oregon was going to receive more federal education funds, but that Governor Theodore Kulongoski has already warned that more state budget shortfalls are likely.

“How do you forecast and try to address budgetary issues when the target isn’t set yet, let alone stable,” said Serra.

Board members also expressed frustration at the inadequate school funding situation.

Columbia County Prepares for Hood- to-Coast Weekend

Clatskanie High School’s Cross Country team will be among thousands participating in the annual Hood-to-Coast marathon through Columbia County on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 27-28.

The Tiger team will run the marathon starting in Portland, with other high school runners, as well as walkers.

Most of the annual marathon’s participants are runners who start at Mt. Hood and end up in Seaside. Several thousand people are involved in each portion of the marathon.

Local agencies have been busy preparing for the event, according to Columbia County Emergency Management Director Derek White.

“We enjoy having Hood-to-Coast in our county,” says White, “However, citizens need to be aware that having such an influx of folks in our county means we have to work together to make sure we have a good game plan for handling any issues that arise as well as regular calls for service.”

The event starts in Columbia County on Highway 30 at the Multnomah County line. After going through Scappoose, the route heads off Highway 30 at Church Road in Warren, past the fairgrounds into mostly rural areas of the county. The race then goes through Mist and Birkenfeld before crossing the Clatsop County line.

“The sheriff’s office will be working with partner public safety agencies to provide safety patrols on county roads and special enforcement and crowd control in congested areas,” Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said.

“Particular areas of concern are at Church Road and Highway 30 and from Schaefer Road and Apiary Road to Mist,” he said, adding “we will be providing an increased presence during peak hours in those congested areas.”

In addition, the Columbia County Sheriffs Office will restrict left turns onto Highway 30 from Church Road during the event.

Chief Mike Greisen of Scappoose Regional Fire District asks drivers to remain alert and to watch out for walkers and runners.

Chief Jay Tappan of Columbia River Fire and rescue encourages Hood-to-Coast participants to stay safe and take precautions for heat-related problems by staying hydrated and wearing appropriate clothing for running or walking.

Administrative Contract, Personnel Changes Approved by Rainier School Board

by Amanda Gail Moravec and Deborah Steele Hazen

A two-year contract agreement for administrative personnel and staff changes were approved by the Rainier School District board of directors at a meeting Monday, Aug. 23.

Following an executive session at the end of the meeting, the school board approved the administrative contract which calls for a three percent increase in the first year, 2010-11, of the two-year contract, and a one-time lump sum payment of $750, negotiated because the administrators had taken a salary freeze for 2009-10.

The administrative personnel covered by the contract are the Hudson Park Elementary (HPE) and Rainier Junior/Senior High School (RJSHS) principals, the special education/student services director, the RJSHS vice principal/athletic director, the food services director, technology coordinator, business manager and administrative assistant.

Since they are new to their jobs this year, the RJSHS vice principal/athletic director and the special education/student services director will not receive the lump sum payment.

The superintendent has a separate contract.

During the first year of the administrative contract the district’s contribution to health insurance costs is frozen, but a 15 percent increase in the district’s insurance contribution is provided in the second year. Also, in 2011-2012, the administrative group will receive a one percent salary increase.

Administrative personnel changes approved by the board included accepting the resignation of RJSHS principal Brad Ramey, who has accepted a job elsewhere, and hiring former vice principal/athletic director Mark Bernhardt as principal. Graden Blue was hired as the new RJSHS vice principal/athletic director.

Also approved were the following personnel changes: resignation of Rebecca Whittaker, instructional assistant; hiring of Heidi Schafer and Marty Babarik, special education resource room teachers; Maria Lammi, RJSHS language arts and physical education teacher; Anne Montgomery, science teacher, and Cheryl Roberts, secretary.

Due to federal stimulus funds, the following certified personnel who had been laid-off because of budget areas, have been recalled: Carol Cramer, HPE teacher; Jen Nelson, teacher on special assignment; Virginia Rose, councilor, and Michael Sawdy, RJSHS, math teacher.

Superintendent Michael Carter noted that the federal stimulus was a one-time budget increase and could not be counted on in the future.

Complaint Policy Related to REA Negotiations Adopted

Related to the Rainier Education Association (REA) teachers union contract, which has been under negotiation since early 2009, the school board approved a revised complaint procedure policy following an executive session.

Previously, during the regular meeting, school board members had discussed delaying adoption of the policy, because some of them did not have the opportunity to review it previously.

That suggestion elicited some frustration from REA leader Sue Byrum, who asked if the board expected the teachers to delay the scheduled Sept. 1st contract ratification vote until after the board approved the complaint procedure policy.

“It’s a good policy,” said Director Rod Harding, a member of the district’s negotiating team, and after the executive session it was approved.

The district and the REA reached a tentative contract agreement July 27. The union membership is scheduled to vote on the contract Sept. 1, and if it is approved it will come to the school board for ratification.

The details of the agreement will be released after it is approved.

The board adopted the 2010-11 school calendar, which also was a topic of teacher negotiations.

In other business:

• The board unanimously approved a motion to go “paperless” and purchase electronic mini-notebooks at a cost of $249 each – a total of approximately $2100 from the supply budget – for the board. It is believed that the electronic notebooks will more than pay for themselves by savings in the cost of paper, copier ink and staff time to prepare packets of information for the board.

• On a split decision with directors Penny Blahm and Bob Wimmer in opposition, the board approved a request for $2000 to match funds raised for the purchase of musical instruments for sixth grade band students.

• The board unanimously approved the transfer of $7500 for outdoor school.

• Revised student handbooks were approved, and the administrators thanked for their work on them. • In a “housekeeping” measure the North Columbia Academy charter was re-adopted, as is required every three years.

• Technology coordinator Larry Cook gave a presentation on the security cameras, the purchase of which was previously approved by the board, that have been installed in various locations on campus.

The board adopted a video surveillance policy which will be presented to students and parents at orientation.

Under the policy, if there are no issues that would require keeping the video, it will be “cleared” upon board approval each semester.

• Carter reported that only 36 students have registered for kindergarten, compared to the 46 expected. If the class remains at 36 it will be the smallest in the history of HPE.

“Obviously, we’re hoping more show up on the first day of school,” said Carter.

In contrast, there are over 100 sixth graders, requiring the addition of staff.

• A donation of $500 to the Rainier Art Club was accepted from the Columbian Artists Association.

• In regard to the dispute between the school district and the City of Rainier, Carter reported that the district has requested documentation from the city about other sewer rate agreements with businesses and organizations.

Carter asked that members of the school board attend the next meeting of the Rainier city council on Sept. 7.

The finance manager has been directed not to pay the city sewer bill until the issue is resolved, Carter said.

Timberlands Closed to Public Due to Forest Fire Danger

Evenson Timberlands Agency, Evenson Logging Company, the Campbell Group and Longview Timberlands LLC have announced closure of their private timberlands to all public recreation because of high forest-fire danger.

“We have decided to close our forestlands in Oregon and Washington to public access until substantial rains reduce the wildfire threat,” Longview Timberlands president Blake Rowe said in an announcement Tuesday, Aug. 24.

“Conditions are very dry in the Pacific Northwest and long-range forecasts indicate the overall dry weather will continue for some time,” Rowe continued. “The public’s cooperation in staying out of the tree farms during this hazardous forest-fire period will be much appreciated.”

The Evenson and Campbell properties in the Clatskanie area were closed to the public for the same reasons last week.

Foresters have been closing gates and posting closure notices at timberland entry points during the past week. Security patrols will be increased for the duration of the fire season.

Longview Timberlands offers up-to-date information on land closures at its website at www.longviewtimber.com.

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