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October, 2010

Beaver and Duck Scarecrows View in Colvin’s Window

BEAVER AND DUCK FANS both have something to cheer for in the window of Colvin’s Pub and Grill where the entries in the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Festival celebrate both Oregon State University’s orange and black and the University of Oregon’s green and gold. Chief Photo by Veronica K. Willson

Ballots Due Back Nov. 2

Ballots for the November general election are due back by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

As of Monday, Oct. 25, 5,316 Columbia County ballots had been returned comprising 19 percent of registered voters, compared to a statewide return rate of 18 percent. In Clatsop County, 4,162 ballots (20 percent of registered voters) had been returned by the first of this week.

In addition to governor, state treasurer, United States senator, U.S. House of Representatives, state senator, state representative and seven state measures, Columbia County voters are being asked to decide on two countywide measures.

Measure No. 5-206 would make county commissioner positions non-partisan beginning in 2012. Measure No. 5-208 is a veterans services levy which would collect 3.5 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

Three candidates are running for Columbia County commission position 2 – Henry Heimuller, Democrat; Terry Luttrell, Republican, and Wayne Mayo, non-affiliated.

For the Clatskanie city council, Mayor Diane Pohl is unopposed for re-election, and four men are running for three open seats on the council – incumbents Ron Puzey and Toby Harris, and newcomers to city politics, Travis Zea and Dennis Short. The top three vote-getters will be elected.

For the city of Rainier, current Councilor Judith Taylor is challenging incumbent Mayor Jerry Cole.

Hank Bartholomew is running for Taylor’s position 5 against David Langford, who currently holds position 1 on the council. Scott Cooper is running unopposed for positon 1 and William Vilardi is unopposed for position 6, currently held by Vernae Christophersen, who did not file for election. Incumbents Russ Moon and Sloan Nelson are unopposed for positions 3 and 4, respectively.

Ballots which have not been mailed by late this week, should be dropped off at several locations around the county including the Clatskanie Library, Rainier City Hall, Vernonia Library, Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District main station, and the Columbia County Courthouse. The drop off sites are open during regular business hours, except on election day, Nov. 2, when they are open until 8 p.m.

The Columbia County elections department, normally open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. There is also a drive-by ballot drop box in the lower parking lot at the courthouse in St. Helens that will be available until 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

The ballots must be received at one of the drop-off sites or the county elections department by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2, in order to be counted. Ballots that have been mailed, but which have not arrived at the elections department by 8 p.m. on Tuesday will not be counted.

ODOT Explains Highway 30 Project; Hears Concerns

by Deborah Steele Hazen

A year after its last public meeting in Clatskanie to discuss the $4 million Highway 30 paving and modernization project, planned to begin next spring, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) met Monday, Oct. 25, with a full house in the Cedar Room at the Clatskanie River Inn.

Area residents crowded in to view maps, talk to ODOT representatives, hear a report on the project and express their views.

During the formal part of the presentation, ODOT’s Bill Jablonski explained that “the purpose of this project is to address safety, access management, and add left turn movements at Highway 30/Van Street to accommodate economic growth at Port Westward.”

Those goals will be achieved, Jablonski said, by:

• Widening Highawy 30 at Van Street to accommodate a left-turn lane for eastbound/southbound traffic.

• Stripe a continuous left-turn lane on Highway 30 between Van Street and the Clatskanie River bridge.

• Pave and stripe a one-mile section of Highway 30 from the intersection with Highway 47 to the Swedetown overpass.

• Improve sidewalks along Highway 30 through the project area (Highway 47 to Swedetown overpass).

• Reconstruct the existing bicycle/pedestrian path along Highway 30 east of the Clatskanie River to meet ADA guidelines.

• Upgrade signage, drainage and guardrails in the project area.

• Align the access to Highway 30 at the Northwoods Inn Motel and the Eastside Plaza (Carla’s Closet, Latte Da, etc.) to make it directly across from Van Street.

• Allow for one right-in/right-out access for the new Clatskanie PUD headquarters to Highway 30 with a dedicated, protected left turn lane onto Truhaak Street.

On the topic of the highway access for the PUD, several audience members expressed concern and confusion regarding what appears to be two current accesses on the highway at the new PUD headquarters construction site.

Clatskanie PUD general manager Greg Booth, who was unable to attend Monday’s meeting, told The Chief Tuesday that only one highway access – the one to the east which was recently purchased from Wauna Federal Credit Union – will be used. He noted, however, that both that access and the original access to the property which is nearer the bridge, are deeded highway accesses. The PUD plans to use the access closest to the bridge only as a “fire lane” or emergency access. It will not be open for use by the public.

However, ODOT’s Ron Kroup told The Chief that ODOT had not approved the emergency access.

Several members of the public also expressed disappointment that the project no longer included the replacement of the Clatskanie River bridge nor the Swedetown overpass.

ODOT representatives explained that a lack of funds was responsible for removing the bridge/overpass replacements from next year’s project, but that it is hoped to return sometime in the future to do that work. The bridge replacement alone is expected to cost $12 to $15 million – three times the cost of the project planned for next year.

Next year’s project also includes:

• The removal of one of Flowers N Fluff’s highway accesses. However, the access from the parking lot to Conyers Street will be improved, ODOT engineers said.

• Installation of a traffic loop detector at the Nehalem and Highway 30 intersection that is designed to improve efficiency at the signal.

• Improving drainage at the west end of the project. ODOT worked with City of Clatskanie last summer to begin drainage improvements.

Inconvenience “Minimized”

Jablonski said that it is planned to have a contractor “on board” by January at which time a more detailed schedule will be available. The work will “most likely” start in the early spring.

“Although it is possible for most work on this project to be completed in one year, it is possible the contractor will work into 2012,” Jablonski said.

Clatskanie City Manager Greg Hinkelman said that it was important to the city, its citizens and businesses that the project be completed in one season.

The contractor will most likely start working on sidewalks, utilities, drainage and highway widening before paving begins, Jablonski said.

“During the work, we will do our best to minimize inconvenience to you and those traveling through the area as we work in your backyard. We will do this by keeping all lanes open during peak travel times,” he said.

All travel lanes east of Swedetown Road to the Clatskanie River Bridge will remain open during weekdays between 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Travel lanes between the Clatskanie River Bridge and Highway 47 will remain open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

When lanes are closed during daytime work hours, one lane will remain open in each direction.

During the weekend, all lanes will remain open on Highway 30 during daytime hours. Lane closures will not take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Also, when the contractor is widening between Swedetown Road and the Clatskanie River bridge, the contractor will shift traffic and work in the shoulders so all travel lanes can remain open during the work, Jablonski said.

“We are not expecting significant delays during construction. Our project inspectors pay attention to traffic delays and, if needed, adjustments can be made to how we perform our traffic control to minimize delay.”

Jablonski continued: “We understand people need to get to and from business while we’re working. During construction, we make sure access is maintained to businesses. People should watch for business access detours, but detours will be signed and the contractor will work with business prior to setting up access detours.”

Port Westward Access, Traffic Calming Discussed

During the discussion, George Poysky, owner of the property on the west side of Van Street, asked why so much emphasis had been placed on widening the street for Port Westward traffic.

“During World War II, we had 1200 troops at Beaver,” the army ammunition depot that was formerly on the property which is now Port Westward, “and 200 civilian workers. They didn’t come through town. Now there’s less than 100 at Port Westward,” Poysky pointed out.

He added that he built highways for a living and he believes “you’ve got a real bad design. The bridge should be replaced first.”

In regard to the portions of the project aimed at improving access to Port Westward, ODOT’s David Kim said: “One of the key focuses is to create jobs and to create jobs in this community. Port Westward is prime for development, and we need to be ready for any kind of industrial development out there. We want to position this community to take on any projects out at Port Westward…We don’t want transportation to be a barrier to economic development.”

Kris Lillich, the owner of businesses in the historic downtown Clatskanie area asked if ODOT was considering economic development in the downtown area. “We feel that the cars are just flying by. Can’t you do something to slow down traffic” and encourage them to stop and shop in Clatskanie.

Kim explained that while “traffic calming” is not part of the current project, the city could apply for funds for enhancement projects that would give the highway through Clatskanie “more of a main street feel.”

In regard to traffic calming, beautification, replacement of the bridge and overpass, “it’s about what we’ve got money to do for the next step,” said Kroup. “It’s not finished. It’s not like you’ll never see us again. We’ll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later, talking about the next phase.”

Administrator Raises Ok’d by Clatskanie School Board

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Administrator and confidential employee contracts were approved by the Clatskanie School District board of directors at its meeting Monday, Oct. 25.

Following an executive session, the board unanimously approved three percent cost of living allowances (COLAs) for Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) Principal Jeff Baughman, CMHS Vice Principal Annikke Olson, Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) Principal Yolanda Brackman, special education director Mary Mitchell, and finance manager Janine Salisbury.

COLAs of 3.5 percent were approved for district secretary Beth Gregg, food services director Roxane Wilcoxen, district maintenance Rex Nicholas, school bus supervisor Paul Simmons, and special education secretary Tami Burgher.

It was pointed out that the administrators and confidential employees had taken a salary freeze last year, and that their salaries are generally lower than comparable positions in other Oregon school districts of similar size.

The Clatskanie Education Association teachers’ union received a four percent COLA last year and a step increase both this year and last year, plus their contract calls for a three percent COLA on the last month of the 2010-11 school year. The district’s classified workers received a step increase last year but no COLA. This year they are getting a 3.8 percent COLA and freezing their salary steps.

However, all employees’ salaries will be reduced by five unpaid furlough days at the end of the current school year. The furlough is planned to save costs.

Under the new salaries approved Monday, Baughman’s salary will go from the current $75,000 to $77,250, but will be reduced because of the furlough to $75,533; Brackman’s will go from $74,000 to $76,220, reduced by the furlough to $74,526; Mitchell will go from the current $75,042 to $77,293, reduced by the furlough to $75,453; Olson’s will go from $65,000 (current) to $66,950 to $65,393 (because of furlough); Salisbury’s from $62,983 to $64,872 to $63,624; Burgher (a part-time employee) will go from $6,993 to $7,237 to $7,056; Gregg’s from $36,400 to $37,674 to $36,950; Nicholas’ from $41,551 to $43,006 to $42,179; Simmons’ from $48,402 to $50,096 to $49,132, and Wilcoxen’s from $34,238 to $35,436 to $34,755.

Additionally, the board approved a $25 per month stipend for Simmons and Nicholas for the use of a personal cell phone to be on call for the school district.

The administrative and confidential raises will cost the district about $6600, Salisbury reported.

Funding, Local Option Levy Discussed

Currently, the district is projecting an ending fund balance of $524,827, but “things can change” Salisbury emphasized.

Superintendent Ed Serra reported that state school funding is expected to drop next year. “We’re looking at $400,000 to $500,000 less.”

What to do about the continuing shortfalls in state school funding was the topic of a work session preceding the regular meeting Monday.

Salisbury presented information – compiled with the assistance of Seattle Northwest, the district’s general obligation bond issuance company – about the possibility of a local option levy that could raise an additional approximately $1 million for operating expenses if approved by the district’s voters.

Oregon law allows for five year local option levies for school operating expenses. Under the complicated formula created by Measure 50 in 1997, expanded to schools in 1999 and modified by the legislature in 2007, approximately $1 million per year would be the most the Clatskanie School District could raise locally without subtracting from its state school funding.

During the regular meeting, and based on discussion from the Sept. 28th work session, the board set the following goals for the current year:

1. Relook at Measure 5 and see how communities can run local levies.

2. Take political action in regards to funding public education.

3. Gather state union support to address how to handle the budget shortfall without violating negotiated contract. (Work together to solve the financial crisis.)

4. Look at the possibility of hiring a grant writer – (as a district or partnering with other organization(s) which also need a grant writer. Perhaps even a grant writer for the five Columbia County school districts.

5. What programs/services can be combined with other local school districts?

6. Consolidation of services – (Proposal being tossed around by the five major ESDs – education service districts)

7. Feasibility and effectiveness of “on-line” courses. (Does it benefit districts to sign on with on-line companies that still provide part of the ADM – average daily membership on which state school funding is based – to the district.)

8. What can be cut without sacrificing a comprehensive, accredited school district?

9. Recent discussion at state level regarding consolidating school districts.

Policies Approved

The board held a second reading and approved policy JHFF “Reporting Requirements Regarding Sexual Conduct with Students.”

The board also approved several policy revisions suggested by the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA).

However, at the suggestion of director Michael Moravec, the board changed the wording in the policies regarding “Nondiscrimination” and “Equal Employment Opportunity” to leave out the “laundry list” of groups protected by various state and federal law in the wording of the policies, and substitute “as prescribed by federal and state law.”

Those two policies, as revised, passed by 3-2 margins with directors Moravec, Stuart Haas and Dave True voting in favor, and Janet Willey and Karen George opposed, saying they were uncomfortable with changing the wording recommended by the OSBA.

Facility Use Fees

The board discussed the facility use fee schedule which had been suspended after it was revised last year, creating an outcry from several youth activity leaders.

The board directed Superintendent Serra to negotiate a contract with Clatskanie Youth Tiger Tourneys for the use of facilities for the 2010-11 season.

The board also directed the superintendent to double check the fee schedule to make sure “some other community group is not going to be grossly affected,” and bring it back to the board for consideration before it is reinstated.

Land Donated

Serra informed the board that local resident Herb Clifford, who owns property adjacent to the CMHS athletic fields, has offered to re-do the boundary line and donate the dirt road that goes by the softball field to the district.

The board voted to accept the land donation from Clifford, and expressed their thanks to him.

Hirings, Retirement

Under the consent agenda, the school board approved the hirings of Francis Donayri, CHS head softball coach for the 2010-11 season, James Engen as CHS head boys basketball coach for the 2010-11 season, and Gary Kuehl as interim groundskeeper for the district until the regular position is filled. Also accepted was the retirement of fulltime kindergarten teacher Judith Bergman, effective Jan. 1.

Clatskanie PUD Reminds Customers of Power Outages

Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) customers fared well through the weekend despite forecasters predicting strong weather systems to move through the area, but that luck ended Monday morning around 6 a.m. when 675 customers in Rainier lost power.

A large tree, heavily covered in ivy, fell across power lines on Fern Hill Road causing a recloser to open up at the Rainier Substation. Line crews cleared the tree and made repairs to the wire. Service was restored to all customers by 8:40 a.m.

Line crews were also called out Sunday for two separate outages involving only seven customers in Clatskanie due to limbs on the lines.

“Clatskanie PUD would like to thank all of their customers for their patience during the power restoration process,” said a Clatskanie PUD press release.

“With the storm season just beginning, Clatskanie PUD would like to emphasize the importance of being prepared should an outage occur and reminds everyone to please let the repair crews do their job. It’s tempting to stop the crews and ask questions about when the power is going to be restored, but this only delays the restoration process. Remember that while the crews want to be helpful, they also want to restore your power quickly so they too can get home to their families,” said the release.

Customers are encouraged to report an outage but often times the phone lines are jammed when a widespread outage occurs. If the line is busy the first time, try again later because any information might help.

For questions, call Clatskanie PUD at 503 728-2163.

Community Education Classes Start, Full Schedule Inside

Community education classes under the sponsorship of the Clatskanie Together Coalition will begin the week of Nov. 8.

A full schedule of classes, times, locations and registration forms is inserted inside this edition.

Registration forms may be dropped off at the Clatskanie Rec Center by the middle school gym on SW Bryant Street weekdays between 12 noon and 5 p.m.

Interested persons may also call to enroll during those hours at 503 728-3099.

First Fall Storm Brings Almost 3 Inches of Rain

The first autumn storm brought almost three inches of rain to Clatskanie from Friday evening through Tuesday morning.

Official weather records are kept by Rick Palm at the City of Clatskanie wastewater treatment plant. The high and low temperature and precipitation amounts are recorded at 8 a.m. each morning, reflecting the previous 24 hours.

Highs, lows and rain amounts recorded on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings were: Saturday, high 62, low 43, .08 inch rain; Sunday, high 57, low 49, 1.02 inch rain; Monday, high 55, low 46, 1.22 inch rain; Tuesday, high 55, low 42, .62 inch rain.

The precipitation for the four 24-hour periods totaled 2.94 inches.

Oregon Symphonic Band Heralds CAC’s 22nd Season Sunday

A favorite of local performing arts patrons, the Oregon Symphonic Band (OSB) returns to Clatskanie to perform a program of music in tune with Halloween this Sunday, Oct. 31, at 3 p.m., at the Donavon Wooley Performing Arts Center, located at the Clatskanie Middle/High School at 471 SW BelAir Drive.

An organization of approximately 60 musicians, which has been acclaimed nationally as Oregon’s “premier symphonic band,” OSB will perform its “All Halloween Concert” that promises an entertaining afternoon for all ages.

“In deciding on the theme for this year’s concert we’ve taken a hint from the holiday Halloween and the performance will be underscored by vibrant renditions of the ‘Tam O’Shanter Overture,’ ‘The Ascension from the Divine Comedy,’ ‘Funeral March of a Marionet’ and ‘Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld,’” says OSB conductor Michael Burch-Pesses.

“OSB is comprised of some of the Portland area’s best instrumentalists, professional and amateur, and although our musicians come from all walks of life, we all have two things in common: we all love to play great band music and we are all volunteers,” notes Clatskanie Arts Commission (CAC) chairman and retired Clatskanie music teacher Donavon “Dee” Wooley, who is also a member of the band.

Tickets are available at Hump’s Restaurant, which continues to offer a complimentary dessert to ticket-holders who dine there just prior to the concert, or at the door with the CAC box-office opening at 2:30 p.m. the afternoon of the show. Ticket prices are $10 adult, $8 senior citizen or student and $5 for children 5 and under.

Kicking off CAC’s 22nd annual performing arts season, the performance is sponsored by Mike Arthur Machine Service of Clatskanie.

CAC’s ongoing mission is to offer a variety of entertaining programs and events which enrich the lives of the people of the Lower Columbia region.

For more information about this and other CAC offerings throughout the year, patrons are invited to call the commission at 503 728-3403 or visit the CAC on the web at www.clatskaniearts.org . Photo Courtesy Oregon Symphonic Band

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