July, 2011

Clatskanie Blues Festival, Appraisal Fair, Book and Garage Sales Set Saturday

A day of music, bargains and a local version of the “Antique Roadshow” is set in Clatskanie this Saturday, July 30.

Saturday’s schedule includes the annual “Rhythm on the River” Clatskanie Blues Festival and Fun Run, a benefit for the United Way of Columbia County; a Clatskanie Foundation-sponsored antiques and collectibles appraisal fair, a benefit for the I.O.O.F. Hall/Avalon Theatre restoration project;  the final day of the annual Friends of the Library Buck-a-Book Sale, a benefit for children’s programs at the Clatskanie Library, and the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce-sponsored community-wide garage sales.

Music performed by Northwest blues bands will begin at 2 p.m. in the Clatskanie city park, and will continue throughout the  afternoon and evening.

“Straight Up,” with a “jump blues” style, will get the music started at 2 p.m., followed at 3:45 p.m. by “Ed Neuman & the Seasoned Pros,” comprised of familiar faces from the Portland music scene.

“The Linda Myers Band” will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. A Rainier resident who has been performing since she was 11 year old, Linda and her husband, former Venture player Harvey Wiklund, and the band perform a “West Coast” style of blues.

“Train Wreck’d,” another Rainier-based blues band,  will play from 7:15 p.m. until 9 p.m. when “Gimme Some Lovin’” will take the stage with its tribute to the “Blues Brothers.”

Vendors, auctions and raffles are also planned in the park.

A $5 donation or five cans of food will serve as admission to the blues festival which is a benefit for the United Way of Columbia County. Attendees are also asked to help “Stuff the Bus” with school supplies.

Also in conjunction with the blues benefit concert, a two-mile walk and an eight-kilometer run are planned, beginning at 12 noon. Registration fee for the walk/run is $10.

For more information about “Rhythm on the River” and  registration forms for the run/walk visit, or call the office of United Way of Columbia County at 503 556-3614.

Bring Antiques, Collectibles to Appraisal Fair

In the spirit of the “Antiques Roadshow,” an antiques and collectibles appraisal fair, sponsored by the Clatskanie Foundation as a benefit for the I.O.O.F. Hall restoration project, will be held on Saturday, July 30, from 1 to 7 p.m. at The Blue Nutria, 80 Steele Street in downtown Clatskanie, just across the bridge from the city park.

Well-known appraiser Gary Germer of Portland, who has conducted traveling antique appraisal clinics around the Pacific Northwest, has donated his expertise for the Clatskanie Foundation’s appraisal fair.

After studying at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Gary worked with his mentor, Bob Rau, host of the  popular Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) program “The Collectors”, and was certified as an appraiser of art, antiques and personal property in 1987. Gary opened his first retail store, the Vancouver Antique Mall, in 1986 and successfully ran it for six years before selling it in 1992 to devote his full time to appraising.

From 2003 through 2007 he was part of KPTV FOX 12’s Good Day Oregon television program in Portland as the “Antique Authority.” Gary produced and hosted regular segments on the show covering a variety of topics in the field of antiques and collectibles, with a down-to-earth and fun approach. He is a regular contributor to KATU AM Northwest.

At Saturday’s appraisal fair here, items will be appraised for a $10 donation to the I.O.O.F. Hall restoration project.

With or without antiques and collectibles, the public is invited to take a seat at the appraisal fair and listen to Gary’s informed and entertaining discussions about the various items that are brought in.

Buck-A-Book Sale

With proceeds to be donated for children’s needs at the Clatskanie Library, the annual Friends of the Library Buck-A-Book Sale fundraiser is slated for Thursday and Friday, July 28 and 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the library grounds on Lillich Street in downtown Clatskanie.

The sale will conclude on Saturday, July 30, with a “Buck-A-Box or Bag” closeout extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..

“Our storage space is literally stacked with boxes of books for this year’s sale that include donations from the public and some selections weeded from the library shelves to make room for new books purchased for checkout by library patrons,” notes library director Elizabeth Kruse. The book sale will also feature specially priced sets of materials including vintage volumes, videos, audio books and encyclopedias.

“Books R Us and our first concern throughout the sale is the customer’s satisfaction,” said Friends of the Library vice president John Lillich, who cautioned dealers and other early birds “that in fairness to all” the sale will start exactly at 10 a.m. each day with no “presale purchases” allowed – no exceptions.

“Last year we set a record, bringing in $1,475.70 on the first day with the total tally of $1,937.98 at sale’s end, enabling funds to nurture ongoing children’s educational programs at our local library that might not otherwise have been possible due to budget constraints in these difficult times of library and school funding,” said Friends president Ernest Carman as he encouraged “fellow bibliophiles” of all ages to come and check out some “true treasures at bargain prices on sale for a good cause.”

The public is also invited to take part in the annual Friends of the Library Recognition Tea that is set to honor the retirement of longtime Clatskanie Library District Board member David Willey for “Gift of Self,” featuring refreshments and a time for recalling past memories held inside the library during the book sale on Friday, July 29, from 3-5 p.m.

“Come check us out and enjoy some free, ice-cold lemonade,” invited Kruse.

For more information, including signing up as a volunteer during the sale, call the library at 503 728-3732.

Community-Wide Garage Sale

Approximately 40 individual sales in and around Clatskanie are planned for Saturday, July 30, in the 17th annual Clatskanie Community-wide Garage Sales, sponsored by the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce.

A map with a list of addresses for the sales will be available on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, at Windermere St. Helens Real Estate, Hump’s Restaurant, Fultano’s Pizza, Carla’s Closet, and Flowers ‘n Fluff.

Buck-a-Book Sale Begins Thursday

INVITING ALL TO THE BUCK-A-BOOK SALE benefit for Clatskanie Library projects is library director Elizabeth Kruse and Friends of the Library members John Lillich and Ernest Carman. The sale begins Thursday, July 28, and ends Saturday with the buck-a-bag or buck-a-box closeout sale. See story at right for more information. Photo Courtesy of Ernest Carman

Community Meeting Set Thursday on Future of Old School Building

by Deborah Steele Hazen

The future of the Community Education Center, (former Clatskanie Middle School) is the topic of a public meeting set for Thursday, July 28, at 7 p.m. at the building located at 555 SW Bryant Street.

Members of organizations or programs currently using the facility, other groups in the community, as well as all interested citizens are encouraged to attend.

Completed approximately 60 years ago as Clatskanie High School, the building sits prominently on the hilltop in the residential area south of Highway 30.

Following the construction of the new high school in 1979, the building housed Clatskanie Middle School until funding shortfalls forced the consolidation of the middle school and high school into the newer school building.

Since then, the Community Education Center (CEC) has housed the school district office as well as several community programs including Tigger Town Preschool, the Clatskanie Historical Society Museum, the Clatskanie Together Coalition and related programs such as the chess club, the Columbia Community Mental Health program and the Clatskanie Justice Court.

Facing more funding shortfalls, the school board voted at its May 24th meeting to close the CEC and move the district office to Clatskanie Middle/High School. It cost about $45,000 to operate the building with the district office located there, and it was estimated that it would cost about $24,800 for the district to maintain a minimum amount of utilities, plus insurance, etc. if it kept ownership of the building.

In a split 3-1 vote at a special meeting June 6, the school board voted to declare the building surplus and available for sale “to the bidder presenting the highest and best offer found acceptable by the board.” That could be as little as a dollar if the school board so chooses.

At the school board’s June 20th meeting, Rich Larsen, representing a group of concerned citizens, asked the board to delay the selling of the building until at least after its Aug. 22nd meeting to allow community members to make a proposal.

Larsen called the current situation with the CEC “an impending disaster or a great opportunity.”

“I can see no way it could be sold with any possibility of becoming profit-making,” Larsen, a real estate broker, said. “It would be very costly to tear down, making the land too expensive to do anything with. If closed and not used or cared for, it would just get worse,” he believes, becoming a target for vandals and a blight on the appearance of the entire community.

“It is my fear it will be deserted and become a serious problem for the community when I think it could be a community center and a nice asset,” Larsen says.

“The opportunity is upon us now to get the community together and make it a community center, expanding on the uses it has supported and make it available for more users.”

Larsen has suggested that other organizations, in addition to the ones using the CEC now, “could use it to varying degrees.”

“The school district needs a way to get out from under the cost of supporting and maintaining” the building, Larsen said in announcing Thursday’s meeting. If 20 to 30 different groups banded together to keep the building open as a community center it would cost each of them about $1,000 per year.

The meeting will include a tour of the facility and discussion.

PUD Gets Good Audit Report

by Deborah Steele Hazen

An “unqualified, clean opinion” from the auditing firm of Moss Adams was received by the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) board of directors at its meeting July 20.

Julie Desimone, the Moss Adams partner in charge of auditing the Clatskanie PUD’s books, told the board that the utility’s financial department had done “a very excellent job.” The staff “is wonderful” to work with, she said, referring particularly to finance manager Debbie Throop and accountant Barb Haas, with whom the auditors work most closely.

In this year’s audit, Desimone said Moss Adams “took a substantial look at this building,” referring to the new approximately $10 million PUD headquarters. The firm audits approximately 65 utilities across the nation, about 75 percent of which are public, and “we haven’t seen a building go in for under $10 million…You guys did a very good job of keeping costs down.”

Desimone made some suggestions regarding documentation of the monitoring of work orders. “We feel comfortable that the conversation and monitoring is occurring, we would just like to see documentation that it is occurring.”

The board officially accepted the 2010 audit report as presented.

Board Officers Re-Elected

Also at the meeting, the board re-elected its current slate of officers: Merle Gillespie, president; Don Hooper, vice president; Stephen Petersen, secretary, and Bob Wiggins, treasurer.

It was noted that board officers are normally elected in January, but that the board had gotten “out of sync.” It was agreed to put the election of board officers on the January 2012 meeting agenda.

Meeting Room Rules

Rules for the community meeting room in the new headquarters were adopted by the board.

The meeting room is available for non-commercial use by the community, and is generally available during business hours and on evenings and weekends when not being used for PUD-related functions.

Arrangements must be made in advance, no food is allowed in the meeting room unless prior arrangements have been made, and the employee lunch room which adjoins the meeting room will not be available for public use. Occupancy is limited to 100 persons.

The board agreed that it would not charge for public use of the meeting room, unless “it starts costing us extra money.”

Workshop Topics

During a workshop session preceding the regular meeting, the PUD discussed and reviewed its policies regarding annexation, line extension and area lighting.

General manager Greg Booth reported that the PUD staff is “in the process of continuing discussions with prospective tenants and a purchaser” who may be interested in purchasing the old headquarters facilities, or in leasing portions of it.

New census information indicates that no adjustments will be necessary in the PUD’s subdivisions, Booth reported, because the populations within each of the five subdivisions continue to be close enough to being equal to meet the government standards.

Columbia and Clatsop Unemployment Rates Lower Than a Year Ago

Columbia County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 10.4 percent in June was increased slightly from the previous month’s 10.0 percent, but was lower than the year before at 12.2 percent.

The rate was above the statewide rate of 9.4 percent and the 9.2 percent national rate.

Total employment inched upward by 13 to 22,082 and the number of unemployed people jumped by 356 to 2,764. Total employment this June was 574 more than one year before and there were 221 fewer people unemployed this year.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment fell by 50 jobs in June to 9,470. Seasonally adjusted figures compare expected changes with actual changes.

A gain of 90 jobs is normal for the month and the county’s payroll employment expanded by 40.

The private sector added 60 jobs and governments cut 20. Nondurable goods manufacturing added 20 jobs and leisure and hospitality climbed by 20. Local government education shed 40 jobs.

Total nonfarm employment in June was 190 less than one year before. The county lost employment in wood product manufacturing, retail trade and government. Part of the drop over the year in government employment was due to the loss of jobs for the 2010 Census.

Many Columbia County residents commute elsewhere for work, so it is not uncommon for the total number of employed people residing in the county to change without a similar change in the number of payroll jobs located within the county.

Clatsop County Rate at 8.6 Percent

Clatsop County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in June, just slightly more than the previous month’s 8.4 percent, but lower than the year before at 9.3 percent. It was lower than the statewide rate of 9.4 percent and the national rate of 9.2 percent.

Total employment in the county increased by 371 from the previous month to 19,820. The estimated number of unemployed people rose by 95 to 1,787. The number of unemployed this June was 35 fewer than one year before and 395 more people were employed.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 60 jobs in June to 16,840. Seasonally adjusted figures compare expected changes with actual changes. A gain of 490 jobs is normal for the month, but the county added only 430 jobs. The private sector added 350 jobs and governments grew by 80.

Leisure and hospitality gained 270 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities added 40 and construction grew by 40. Local governments and state government each added 30 jobs as recreation areas prepare for the summer.

June’s total nonfarm payroll employment was 10 more than its level last year,  and all from the private sector.

Edvard Evenson Passes Away

Edvard Evenson, a near lifelong Clatskanie resident, passed away at his home Tuesday evening, July 26. He was 88.

A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, he was the father, grandfather and great-grandfather of the multi-generational Evenson Logging Company and Evenson Timberland Agency family.

Known for quietly, but consistently coming to the aid of his community, Edvard was a hands-on forester, who worked in the woods long after what most people consider retirement age. He had been in declining health recently.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Ruth Ann, in March of 2009.

Full obituary details will be printed in next week’s edition.

Groulx Family Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

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