26 October 2011 by Published in: News No comments yet

Ralph Painter Memorial Highway Dedicated

“WE WILL SEE THE SIGN AND REFLECT ON ALL HE STOOD FOR,” said Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole of his friend Ralph Painter, the Rainier police chief who was killed in the line of duty Jan. 5.

Cole, pictured second from left above, was one of the speakers Monday morning, Oct. 24, during the public dedication ceremonies held in Rainier’s Riverfront Park of the “Police Chief Ralph Painter Memorial Highway.”

The sign (left) alongside the highway in west Rainier marks the beginning of the 18-mile long stretch of Highway 30 from Rainier to St. Helens, where Painter grew up and lived before joining the Rainier police force.

“He was a light in the dark of night,” said State Representative Brad Witt (standing at left), another of the speakers at the dedication. Witt referred both to his occasional stops to visit with Painter as he passed through Rainier, and to the police chief’s faithful and courageous service to his community.

Witt sponsored the bill to name the stretch of Highway 30 in Painter’s honor in the Oregon State House of Representatives along with State Rep. Jeff Barker of Aloha, who spent 31 years in law enforcement. Barker also spoke at Monday’s dedication. State Senator Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, sponsored the bill in the State Senate.

Rainier Police Chief Gregg Griffith (third from left), who served as Painter’s second in command also spoke about his friend and colleague, encouraging continuing prayers for the Painter family.

Painter’s widow Amy and youngest son Riley, pictured in the foreground at right, thanked all for their support.  The dedication of the highway in his honor is “an everlasting tribute to Ralph,” Amy said. She spoke about her husband’s habit of doing small acts of kindness. “Make someone else’s day,” she encouraged the crowd of about 100 gathered for the event. “He would appreciate that.”

Painter, who was shot and killed by a suspect when he responded to a call on the morning of Jan. 5, will be honored with the Oregon Peace Officers Association (OPOA) “Purple Heart” award at the OPOA annual conference Nov. 2-4.

Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover, Clatskanie Police Sergeant Shaun McQuiddy, and Longview police officer Doug Kazensky, who were the first officers on the scene after hearing the call of “officer down,” and who exchanged fire with the assailant and arrested him, will also be honored at the OPOA conference.

Chief Hoover will receive the OPOA’s highest award, the “Medal of Honor” because of his “heroic act in excess of normal demands of police service,” in which he “was fully aware of an imminent threat to his personal safety.”

McQuiddy and Kazensky will each receive the “Medal of Valor” given to individuals who distinguish themselves by “exceptional bravery… thereby reducing the risk of loss of life or injury to citizens.” Chief Photos by Deborah Steele Hazen

7 Percent Increase for Clatskanie PUD; Rural Rainier Annexation Proposed

by Deborah Steele Hazen

An average seven percent rate increase will go into effect for Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) customers on Jan. 1, as a result of action taken by the board of directors at its meeting Oct 19.

The resolution passed by the board raises energy charges by 3/10 of one cent per kilowatt hour (kWh), from the current .0425 cents  to .0455. Also approved was raising minimum bills from the current $8 per month for residential to $10 per month, and minimum bills for general service from $19.40 to $20. The minimum bills have not been adjusted for about 15 years.

The rate increase is tied directly to the 7.9 percent increase in power costs from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which were effective at the first of October.

However, because of the district’s “good cash position,” the board decided to hold the rates at their current levels for residential and general service customers until the end of the year.

The rate increase does not affect the “variable industrial rate,” approved earlier this year for Georgia-Pacific, which buys the majority of the Clatskanie PUD’s power for its Wauna and Halsey mills. The variable industrial rate is tied directly to the district’s actual power supply costs.

“The district is in a good cash position (about $7 million) and we expect to finish the year with over $1.5 million in net income, consistent with the 2011 budget estimate,” Booth told the board. “Sales of market power (both wholesale and a portion of the extended industrial) are expected to come out as forecast, with a net amount of $5.4 million for the year. This means that our financial position is as planned and no adjustment should be necessary other than what is needed for the increased cost of power from BPA.”

“If Bonneville hadn’t raised rates we wouldn’t be looking at this,” PUD board chair Merle Gillespie noted.

A monthly residential electric bill for 1,500 kWh will increase by $4.50. The Clatskanie PUD’s power rates, among the lowest in the nation, “will remain at about one-half to two-thirds of the level of most of the other electric utilities,” Booth told the board.

The Cowlitz PUD is proposing to raise its rates by 17.5 percent.

The Columbia River PUD, which serves the rural Rainier area as well as south Columbia County raised its rates by four percent effective Oct. 1. It has a residential customer charge of $8, and a per kWh charge of .0607 cents. According to a recent Columbia River PUD press release, after the Oct. 1st increase, its rates are approximately 25 percent lower than the average rates for all Oregon electric utilities.

For a residence in the Clatskanie PUD service area that uses 1,000 kWh per month (less than average for the district), the monthly electric bill will be $42.50 with the discounts applied to the bill from the co-generation benefit (.003 cents per kWh). That is higher than the last several years, but less than a dollar higher than 1995’s $41.14. When adjusted by the consumer price index, the Clatskanie PUD rates were higher in 2004, and from 1991 through 1997, than they will be after the rate increase, according to charts presented by PUD staff.

Annexation of Rural Rainier Proposed

Also at last week’s meeting, the Clatskanie PUD board voted 4-1 to take “no position” on a proposed annexation petition submitted by Lonnie and Kay Richards, who reside in the West Rainier precinct.

According to its ordinances, the PUD board considers proposed annexations and may choose to endorse, object to or take no action.

Director Stephen Petersen was the dissenting vote on the motion to take no action on the petition, letting the petitioners proceed through the legal steps. Petersen said he favored endorsing the petition.

The annexation petition would include the remainder of the Rainier 1 and 2 precincts along with the portions of the North and South Delena precincts not currently within the Clatskanie PUD, along with the entirety of the West Rainier precinct which is now all outside the Clatskanie PUD boundaries.

The areas being proposed for annexation are currently within the Columbia River PUD. Under such circumstances, petitioners must simultaneously withdraw from one district to annex to the other district.

Booth said it was his understanding that the Columbia County district attorney is now considering modifications to the petition language to clarify that requirement. After passing through the various steps, the question of annexation would eventually be put before the voters of the area to be annexed.

The last annexation to the Clatskanie PUD was the area encompassed by the 1940 city limits of Rainier. In 1999, PGE was proposing to sell its Columbia County service territory to West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) which serves Vernonia and the Nehalem Valley area. City of Rainier residents petitioned and voted overwhelmingly to annex to the Clatskanie PUD. That annexation formally took place in early 2000.

The rural Rainier area has been served by the Columbia River PUD since it began providing service in 1984.

In his memorandum to the board regarding the annexation proposal, Booth noted that the area consists of nearly 800 registered voters, which would add up to about 14.7 percent of the total voters of the district should the area be annexed. “This would add roughly the same number of customers,” Booth told the board. “Impact to the district would include acquisition or extension of facilities, the cost of which have in the past been directly assigned to the customers in the annexed area. Power supply arrangements would have little impact on the district except for one industrial facility in the area. The adjustment of allocations of electricity from the Federal Columbia River Power System would be an issue in that case. The area in question would adjust the boundaries so that all of the district would be contiguous, resulting in some efficiences of providing service to the area.”

“Our evaluation is that the annexation can be done without detriment to our existing customers,” Booth said.

Coloring Contest Winners Announced

In other business at last week’s meeting, the PUD board picked the Public Power Week coloring contest winners and drew three winners from the crossword puzzle contest.

The crossword puzzle winners of $300 towards the purchase of a qualified Energy Star appliance are: Diana Karthaeuser, Gloria Trotter and Joseph Thorp.

The coloring contest winners include:

Under 4:  Kennedy Johnson and Emma Parmley.

5-8 yrs: Lillian Lankard, Guy Shulda and Lexus Holmes

9-12 yrs: Kayla Clark, Taina-Olena LaBat-Polanco and Ryan Bochner.

Columbia County Property Taxes…

Real Market Value Down, Tax Bills Up

The 2011-12 Columbia County Assessment and Tax Roll has been certified and property tax bills have been mailed to Columbia County property owners.

According to a press release from the county, due to the steep decline in the real market value of residential properties between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jan. 1, 2011, many property owners may see a decrease in their tax bill for the first time since maximum assessed value was set in 1997 by passage of Measure 50.

This is due to the real market value falling below the maximum assessed value for these properties; therefore the real market value becomes the tax assessed value, a county spokesperson explained.

Additionally, if the categorized consolidated rates exceed the constitutional limits of $5 per thousand for education districts or $10 per thousand for general government limits when applied to the real market value, the tax is further reduced by “compression.”

Based on permanent operating rates, the consolidated education rates for St. Helens, Scappoose, Vernonia and Rainier exceed the $5 per thousand rate limit, and the consolidated general government rates for properties located inside the city limits of Rainier and Clatskanie exceed the $10 per thousand rate limit.

For the 2010-11 tax year, only 579 out of a total of 23,204 residential properties countywide had a tax assessed value lower than their maximum assessed value.

For the 2011-12 tax year, this number has increased to 5838 out of a total of 23,026 residential properties. The City of Clatskanie had the least percentage of properties at 9.29 percent that fell below the maximum assessed value this year, while the cities of St. Helens and Columbia City had the highest percentage of properties at 40.46 percent falling below the maximum assessed value.

All properties have market trends developed by analyzing sales in each market area to determine the current tax year’s increase or decrease in value, the county spokesperson explained.

For the current assessment date of Jan. 1, 2011, all sales in 2010 are reviewed and compared to the Jan. 1, 2010 value. Real market values for residential properties decreased an average of 20 percent countywide.

Property owners of townhouses and row houses in St. Helens and Columbia City will see the greatest decrease of 36 percent, while property owners of rural residential properties in the Clatskanie dikeland area will see an increase of 3 percent in their real market value.

For residential properties that are currently electronically recalculated annually, the sales are analyzed using the recalculated value, not the actual previous year value.

This means that the trend applied to the previous year value shown on the tax statement is not likely to equal this year’s value. Real market values of residential property located in St. Helens, Columbia City and Vernonia (both city and rural) were recalculated this year.  A recalculation does not include a physical inspection of property, but rather is a computer assisted recalculation of values by analyzing and using current market data and local cost modifiers, the spokesperson said.

While this method does not identify properties that may have more or less than typical maintenance, it provides the most efficient and accurate method of valuing properties at 100 percent of real market value each year between physical reappraisals.  A reappraisal of the city of Rainier and the surrounding rural area was completed for this year and the real market values in these areas will reflect any changes noted from the physical inspection by county appraisers.

For market areas that have not yet been physically reappraised and converted to recalculation, the trend is applied to the actual previous year value.

Reappraisal for the Clatskanie area and for personal property manufactured structures countywide are scheduled for the 2012-13 tax year, rural Saint Helens and Warren for the 2013-14 tax year, and the Scappoose area for the 2014-15 tax year. In 2015-16, both commercial and industrial properties are scheduled for reappraisal.

Real market values for commercial properties remained unchanged due to a lack of sales data, the spokesperson said. While many businesses may be experiencing decreased income due to the economy, a review of market listings in Columbia County revealed over 90 percent of businesses listed for sale are asking a purchase price that is at or above the current real market values on the county assessment rolls.

Due to the market decline and minimal new construction in the county, there is very little change in the total assessed value for most taxing districts. This will result in a minimal increase, and in some cases, a reduction in property tax revenue received by most taxing districts during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

$55,789,038 in Property Tax Bills Sent Out

A total of $55,789,038  in property taxes are being billed for the county, cities, schools  and special districts within Columbia County.  That amount is 3.74 percent more than was billed last year.

In addition, a total of $1,044,608 will be collected for such things as drainage district assessments and the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire patrol special assessments.  That amount is 5.5 percent higher than last year.

Countywide, the market value of all taxable property decreased from $5.72 billion to $5.48 billion, a decrease of 4 percent. The total tax assessed value this year is $4,085,273,311 or 2.30 percent higher than last year.

Highest Payers Listed

The top 20 highest property tax payers in Columbia County with their property tax amount, assessed value (AV) and real market value (RMV) listed in that order are:

1. Northwest Natural Gas Co.: tax $1,977,153.27; AV $171,190,157, RMV $171,190,830.

2. United States Gypsum: tax $1,255,520.26; AV $73,852,420, RMV $73,852,420.

3. Portland General Electric: tax $1,102,004.22; AV $321,175,043, RMV $321,198.246;

4. Longview Timberlands LLC: tax $502,985.90; AV – $42,549,649; RMV $66,398,196.

5. Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD): tax $440,140.98; AV $35,585.900; RMV $35,585,900.

6. Armstrong World Industries, Inc.: tax $408,558.61; AV $28,373,900; RMV $28,373,900.

7. Columbia River PUD: tax $395,209.25; AV $31,570,700; RMV $31,570,700.

8. Boise White Paper LLC: tax $299,704.39; AV $20,766,363; RMV $24,452,825.

9. Dyno Nobel Inc.: tax $296,534.58; AV $23,815,810; RMV $24,253,540.

10. Cascade Tissue Group of Oregon: tax $240,290.87; AV $16,687,910; RMV $16,687,910.

11. Fred Meyer Stores Inc.: tax $185,438.50; AV $11,927,300; RMV $17,183,480.

12. Comcast Corp.: tax $178,577.13; AV $12,042,700; RMV $14,114,362.

13. Weyerhaeuser Co.: tax $149,740.94; AV $12,289,993; RMV $19,441,347.

14. Port of St. Helens: tax $139,740.13; AV $49,114,800; RMV $50,996,950.

15. Knife River Corporation – NW: tax  $129,927.14; AV $9,256,881; RMV $10,075,714.

16. Enerfin Resources Northwest LP: tax $129,862.11; AV $12,000,000; RMV $12,000,000.

17. QWEST Corp.: tax  $122,651,47;  AV $8,544,000; RMV $8,544,000.

18. Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust: tax $112,457.80; AV $7,565,070, RMV $12,488,580.

19. Brix Maritime Co.: tax $110,944.01; AV $6,443,480; RMV $6,547,830.

20. Teevin Investment Co. Inc.: tax $109,000.48; AV $5,809,776; RMV $7,176,103.

Payments Due Nov. 15

The first payment of the tax bill is due on Tuesday, Nov. 15. At least one third of the amount is due at that time. Payments can  be made at the tax office in the Columbia County Courthouse, 230 Strand Street, in St. Helens on Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8:30 am and 5 p.m. The courthouse county offices are closed to the public on Fridays.

For payments that are made using a bank’s bill pay service, the tax account number should be noted in the memo field. Payments that are mailed need to be postmarked by the 15th. A return envelope is included with the statement. The second and third installments are due by Feb. 15, 2012 and May 15, 2012, however the county does not send out statements for the February or May due dates.

Property taxes may also be paid with E-checks and credit and debit cards through the Point & Pay website on-line at www.co.columbia.or.us, or by calling 1-866-587-4007.   There is a 2.95% charge to use for credit or debit card payments and a flat fee of $2.95 for E-checks.

This year, arrangements have been made with the St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union (all branches) as an authorized collector for the county to collect only the 2011-12 property tax payments through Nov. 15.

Property owners who pay the entire amount due by Nov. 15  receive a three percent discount. If two thirds of the bill is paid by Nov. 15 a two percent discount of the amount paid will be allowed.

Property owners may appeal the value of their property as in past years.  However, there would only be a reduction in the taxes due if the market value falls below the assessed value. The deadline for filing an appeal is Jan. 3, 2012. Appeal forms are available from the county clerk or county assessors office, or can be found online at www.co.columbia.or.us/departments/assessors-office.

Halloween Events Reach Full Swing This Weekend, Culminates on Monday

Halloween-related activities are already underway in the Clatskanie and Rainier areas, and continue through this weekend culminating on Monday, Oct. 31.

Scheduled activities in the Clatskanie area include:

Trick-or-Treating at Clatskanie Businesses

As has become an annual tradition in Clatskanie, many businesses will extend a welcome to trick-or-treaters on Halloween by distributing treats to children in costume.

Trick-or-treating will be available during the normal operating hours of each participating business.

Participating businesses include: The Amber, Ark Real Estate, The Bag Ladies Yarn Shop, Big Guy’s Sport Club, Clatskanie Builders Supply, The Clatskanie Chief, Clatskanie City Hall, Clatskanie Computers, Clatskanie Dry Cleaners, Clatskanie Family Chiropractic Clinic, Clatskanie Insurance, Clatskanie Library, Clatskanie Liquor Store, Clatskanie Market, Clatskanie Mini Mart, Clatskanie Police Department, Clatskanie People’s Utility District, Clatskanie Recreation Center, Clatskanie River Inn, Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District main station, Clatskanie Safeway, Clatskanie Subway, Colvin’s Grill, Conestoga, Discounts and Deals, Dr. John Briggs, Eastside Plaza – Latté Da, Carla’s Closet, Clatskanie Floral, Evenson Logging Company, Flowers ‘n Fluff, Fultano’s Pizza Parlor, The Hair Place, Hazen Hardware, Hi-School Pharmacy, Hump’s Restaurant, Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant, Jim’s Garage, M & N Workwear, NAPA Quality Auto Parts, Quilt Garden, Redemption – Furniture and Home Décor, Turning Point Community Service Center, Tri-City Insurance, Salisbury & Callahan law office, Some Like It Hot, Sporty’s Inc., State Farm Insurance, Sterling Savings Bank, Tio Calvino’s, U.S. Bank, Wauna Federal Credit Union and Windermere/St. Helens Real Estate.

Halloween Parade

A Halloween parade is set Monday, Oct. 31, in Clatskanie for students at Clatskanie Elementary School.

The parade will start at the elementary school at 1:15 p.m. and proceed down Nehalem Street, ending at the Clatskanie Police Department office.

Quincy Grange Halloween Carnival

Quincy Grange is hosting a Halloween carnival Monday, Oct. 31, from 5-8 p.m.

Planned activities include bingo, a cake walk, fish pond, games, and food including hot cider.

Quincy Grange is located three and a half miles northeast of Clatskanie on Rutters Road.

“Treats” for Turning Point

Donations are being collected for Turning Point Community Service Center, Clatskanie’s community food pantry, at various decorated  displays at a number of businesses around Clatskanie

Participating Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce businesses include Hump’s Restaurant, Sterling Savings Bank, Discounts and Deals, Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) and The Clatskanie Chief.

Fultano’s Pizza Parlor is offering $2 off any large pizza or $3 off any family-size pizza with any contribution of non-perishable food items through Monday, Oct. 31.

The Chamber is also encouraging local businesses to decorate in a fall or Halloween theme. Those who wish to be judged on Oct. 31 should e-mail chambersecretary@clatskanie.com.

Halloween events planned in the Rainier area include:

Rainier Pumpkin Festival Saturday

The second annual Rainier Pumpkin Festival is set Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Rainier Riverfront Park. The event begins at 3 p.m and continues until 9 p.m.

Scheduled activities include hayrides, a costume contest for all ages, pet costume contest, spooky maze, games and live music.

All are invited to bring carved jack-o-lanters to enter in the pumpkin carving contest. Entries will illuminate the park area after dark. A “pumpkin patch” will be available for attendees who did not bring a carved pumpkin.

All high school clubs and homerooms may compete for bringing the most carved pumpkins. Prizes are a pizza dinner donated by Hometown Pizza in Rainier and a concert provided by “Middle of the Road” band of Longview.

Bus rides to the Beaver Homes Grange haunted house will be offered from the festival. (See below for more details.)

The “Trunk or Treat” vehicle parade is set at 6 p.m. The parade will begin at the east end of A Street in Rainier and end in the park.

Parade entrants will then park their decorated vehicles along A Street beside the city park, open the trunks and dispense goodies to trick-or-treaters. Prizes will be awarded for the best decorated vehicles.

Signup forms for the parade are available at Rainier City Hall and the Rainier post office. Participants may also register at the park before the parade begins.

Donations will be accepted for the Rainier Junior/Senior High School art and music programs.

More event information is available at www.rainierpumpkinfestival.com.

Beaver Homes Grange Haunted House

Beaver Homes Grange in Goble is conducting a haunted house. The event, which opened last weekend, will resume on Friday.

Hauntings are set from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28 through Monday, Oct. 31. Admission is $5.

Games and treats will be available downstairs.

To coincide with the Rainier Pumpkin Festival the haunted house will be open Saturday, Oct. 29, from 3-6 p.m. Rides from the pumpkin festival in Rainier will be available and admission is set at $4 for the afternoon showing.

The haunted house will then reopen at 6:30 p.m. for its evening haunt.

Signs will guide attendees onto Nicolai Road from Highway 30 to the grange hall located at 31105 Beaver Homes Road.

RJSHS Theatre Club Haunted House

Rainier Junior/Senior High School’s (RJSHS) theatre club will present a haunted house titled “Living Nightmares” in the school auditorium.

Haunted house hours are set Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29, from 6-10:30 p.m., and on Monday, Oct. 31, from 5-10 p.m.

Admission is $3 per person.

Halloween Pool Party

A Halloween-themed pool party is set at Briarcliff Pool in Rainier on Friday, Oct. 28, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Planned activities include carnival games and swimming. Each participant will receive a prize, said organizers.

Cost for the event is $4. For more information, call the pool at 503 556-4217 and leave a message including a call back number.

Haunting Halloween Fun at Beaver Homes Grange

A SKULL-FACED HARLEQUIN clown served as the guide through the Beaver Homes Grange haunted house on its opening weekend, Oct. 21 and 22. After emerging from the dark labyrinth filled with gruesome, startling and spine-tingling characters and scenes,  visitors were led downstairs, where refreshments were served, and those with sufficient wits remaining were invited to pick a spider ring from a web-strung piano.  Those who dare are invited to the haunted house at the Beaver Homes Grange (take Nicolai Road from Highway 30 at Goble and follow signs) Oct. 28-31, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. See story on Halloween events for more information. Photos by Deborah Steele Hazen


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