CLOSING OUT THE HUMP’S RESTAURANT cash register one last time were owners Pam and Eric Sellix, who retired at the end of the evening dinner hour on Sunday, Feb. 26. The landmark Clatskanie business, owned and operated by the Humphrey/Sellix family for 65 years, is now closed, but “all options are open” for the building’s future, the Sellixes say. Hump’s last day was a busy one with families participating in the Tiger Tourney basketball competition, and many locals enjoying one last meal. Chief Photo by Amanda Gail Moravec
After OSHA Fine…
by Adam J. Wehrley
and Deborah Steele Hazen
An emergency meeting was called Thursday, Feb. 23, by the Rainier City Council to continue discussion of issues regarding personnel.
The council, which had also met in executive session at the end of its regular meeting Feb. 21, immediately went into closed executive session on the 23rd in accordance with state law, “To consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent…”
The executive session lasted for over two hours, with no council action taking place afterwards in open session.
Rainier public works director Darrel Lockard remained on paid administrative leave as of Tuesday, Feb. 28, following a Feb. 16th decision by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which resulted in $10,000 in fines being assessed against the city.
The fines are the result of an OSHA investigation into an incident on Oct. 17 during which a public works employee was injured when a trench dug to repair water lines on Fir Street collapsed.
According to the OSHA citation, “A trench, estimated to be about 6 to 7 feet in depth with signs of a potential cave-in such as sloughing and soil saturation, was not protected be any protective system, which resulted in an employee in the trench being struck by sloughing soil. The employee sustained an injury to the right leg.”
The citation further stated, “The job supervisor, who was the competent person, witnessed various hazardous conditions such as cracking and sloughing of trench wall, saturated soil, no means of effective egress, and water at the bottom of the trench and no protective system in place. The supervisor person did not remove the exposed employees from the trench or abate the hazardous conditions.” Employees resorted to using a backhoe to help them exit the trench.
According to OSHA, the trench wall collapsed, pinning an employee who was freed by a co-worker who had to further expose himself to hazard. The injured employee went to the hospital after receiving what the report called, “a crushing type contusion.”
The OSHA citation further charges that when the supervisor came to the site he told the workers to continue working in the still unprotected trench.
The violations regarding the trench wall collapse are considered “serious” by OSHA.
Several training issues were mentioned in the citation: workers were not trained in trench/excavation hazards nor protective systems; no safety meetings have been held since June; there has been no flagger training, and “employees do not know what to do in case of a medical emergency, because there is no emergency medical plan.”
The city appealed the original OSHA citation, resulting in a reduction of the fines from $11,520 to $10,000, which the city council voted to pay at the Feb. 21st meeting.
In an appeal letter to OSHA written by Lockard, he contests several details of the initial citation. Specifically, Lockard disagrees with OSHA about the depth of the trench, signs of potential collapse prior to the collapse, and the depth of the water in the trench.
The City of Rainier continues to contract with a Clatskanie-based consultant to provide oversight and state-mandated reporting for the water department.
Members of the Rainier city council expressed concern at their Jan. 23rd meeting over an incident that occurred Jan. 18, during which the city’s snow plow was reportedly taken an estimated eight miles outside the city limits where it got stuck in the snow.
Another emergency executive session on issues regarding personnel is expected to be called later this week.
With less than a week left before the March 6th filing deadline for the May 15th primary election, a few more candidates and one more ballot measure have surfaced in Columbia and Clatsop counties.
Up for election this year in Columbia County are the positions of sheriff, county commissioner positions 1 and 3, and treasurer.
Two men have filed against Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, who has also filed for re-election.
Challenging Dickerson are Anthony Miltich, a City of Scappoose police officer and former businessman, and Dave Fuller, a current Columbia County Sheriff’s deputy.
The top two vote-getters in the primary election will compete in the general election in November.
Columbia County Commissioner Earl Fisher, of Clatskanie, is being challenged for position 1 by Colleen DeShazer and Terrence Luttrell, both currently serving on the Port of St. Helens board of commissioners.
Commissioner Tony Hyde, has filed for re-election to position 3. He is being challenged by Jim Gibson of Clatskanie, and Reginald Ward of Vernonia.
There have been no filings so far for county treasurer, a seat now held by Ruth Baker.
Under election laws for non-partisan offices, if a candidate for commission receives at least 50 percent of the vote plus one vote, he or she would be elected in the primary. If no candidate for commissioner receives a majority then the top two vote-getters in the primary would go on to face each other in the general election next fall.
The only issue filed for Columbia County’s May ballot is the proposal to annex the city of Clatskanie to the Rainier Cemetery District .
In Clatsop County, Sheriff Tom Bergin is seeking re-election with four other candidates filed against him. They are Bill Fuzia of Astoria, Jim Pierce of Warrenton, Michael V. Nelson of Astoria, and Steve Barnett of Seaside.
Clatsop County Commissioner Patricia Roberts has announced that she will not seek re-election to her District 2 position. John B. Dunzer of Seaside and Sarah Nebeker of Gearhart have filed for the seat.
Incumbent Dirk Rohne is currently the only candidate for his District 4 position on the Clatsop County commission.
As a result of action last week by the county commission, Clatsop County voters will now face two measures on the May ballot.
Measure 4-155 would prohibit the display of elephants and exotic animals in the unincorporated portions of the county.
Measure 4-156, placed on the ballot by the county commission, would raise $14 million in general obligation bonds for expansion and remodeling of the county jail. (See the article inside for more information.
Filing for Democrat and Republican male and female precinct committee persons are also due by March 6.
For more information contact the Columbia County elections office at 503 397-7214 or the Clatsop County elections office at 503 325-8511.
by Deborah Steele Hazen
and Adam J. Wehrley
The Clatskanie School District board of directors covered a wide variety of topics in a lengthy meeting Monday night, Feb. 27, including an audit report, the renewal of teacher contracts, coordination of 2012-13 school calendars with Rainier School District, and a statement about the board’s decision regarding the high school softball coaching staff.
The board also heard a report on Common Core State Standards by Art Anderson of the Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD), discussed budget priorities, and declared the week of March 5-9 Classified Employee Appreciation Week.
Following the open session, the board held an executive session to discuss personnel-related issues. The meeting did not adjourn until after 11 p.m.
At the recommendation of the administration, the board renewed the contracts of certified and administrative staff as follows:
The administrative staff members who were renewed for three year contracts are: Superintendent Mary Mitchell, Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) Principal Yolanda Brackman, (Continued from Page 1)
Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) Principal Jeff Baughman, and CMHS Vice Principal Annikke Olson.
CES contract teachers who were renewed are: Kara Burghardt, Sheryl Heacock, Ron Reynolds, Sara Tallman, Amber Crawford, Amanda Plough, Rebecca Horness, Amber-Dawn Ingwerson, Brad Thorud, Heather Stafford, Megan Kilgore, Jim Manser, Sarah Thorud, Theresa Trotter and Dawn Warren.
CES probationary teachers, third year (contract due 2013-2014) renewed are: Diane Arnst and Hallie Vossen; probationary teacher, second year (contract due 2014-2015): Lucius Jones.
The renewed CMHS contract teachers are: Marc Brewer, Anne Carmack, John Hazapis, Rhonda Stecker, Tim VanVoorst, James Byrne, Robert Emminger, Mary Schulte, Ryan Tompkins, Jordan Slavish, Cory Trotter, Linda Johnson, Karen Slotten and Nina Brewer; Probationary teachers, third year (contract due 2013-2014): CJ Butenschoen, Neil Rininger, Mary Sizemore and Renee Wells.
Calendars Coordinated to Promote Sharing
Superintendent Mitchell discussed the coordination of the 2012-2013 school calendar with the Rainier School District. This process will facilitate shared services between Clatskanie and Rainier.
Clatskanie has seven more student/teacher contact days than Rainier, and the question was raised about how that affects students from Rainier who miss classes here. It was stated that it was an option for them to attend their classes in Clatskanie on those days, and in some cases they had, but that it hadn’t created any significant problems this year.
Mitchell was confident that the remaining calendar differences could be worked out.
She reported that the administrators of the Clatskanie and Rainier school districts had “a very positive meeting” regarding the on-going sharing of services and classes to expand student opportunities.
Under questioning from board member Michael Moravec, Mitchell emphasized that “we are strictly talking about sharing. I’m not talking merger, I haven’t heard anyone talk merger.”
As part of the county-wide agreement among public school districts, the board moved unanimously to limit inter-district transfers with Rainier to five students. The Rainier school board recently took the same action.
Mitchell also reported on a meeting with the Rainier business manager, Lil Guisinger, regarding the possibility of sharing that position. “Rainier would do that,” she told the board. “They would make it work.” However, Mitchell said that she believed that option would cost the district more than staying with the current arrangement of contracting with the NWRESD for the services of business manager Janice Essenberg.
“Our staff has lost confidence in our business office,” Mitchell said. A new business manager hired in July left the district within a few months. “I think it is in the best interests of our district to remain with the NWRESD at this time. We need stability to restore confidence,” Mitchell told the board.
She said that sharing business manager services with Rainier would cost the district about $40,000 more than the current arrangement with the NWRESD.
Mitchell said she also met with Rainier’s special education director, and believes “it would not be a financial benefit” to share those services with Rainier either.
The board received the auditor’s report from a representative of Merina & Company, LLP.
The report included “a material weakness” in the district’s accounting procedures in that “controls were not in place to ensure capital assets were properly recorded and depreciated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011,” less severe than “a material weakness, yet important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance.”
That “significant deficiency” was that “controls were not in place to ensure that the appropriate payroll expense allocation was being charged to the Title I program.”
The auditors stated their belief that the “turnover in the Business Manager position” caused both problems.
The board was presented with auditors’ proposals from both Merina & Company, and the firm of Pauly Rogers for the coming year’s audit, but took no action on the proposals at Monday’s meeting.
Following the lengthy executive session, the board approved temporary increases in the salaries of confidential employees “to recognize the new scale of work that they are performing without the business manager.”
The raises are retroactive to Nov. 14, 2011 and are effective until June 30, 2012, at which time they will be re-evaluated.
Under the proposal from the administration to compensate the confidential employees for their added work, Tami Burgher’s hours will double from her current 528 hours, raising her annual salary from $8,840 to $17,128.
Roxane Wilcoxen’s annual salary will be temporarily increased from $35,968 to $38,126, and Beth Gregg’s will be raised from $38,240 to $40,534.
It was emphasized, however, that Wilcoxen and Gregg will not receive those entire amounts, because the increase in the annual salary will be applied only for the period from Nov. 14, 2011 to June 30, 2012.
The board gave a nod of agreement to a list of budget priorities developed by the board last year, including maintaining academic compliance, maintaining and sustaining comprehensive programs, drug testing, sustainable budgeting, safety, maintenance of facilities, and teacher training.
In regard to the goal of keeping a cash reserve of not less than three percent, Mitchell noted the current reserve is at 1.75 percent.
Moravec suggested, and Essenberg agreed, that a more feasible reserve for the coming year would be two percent, working towards an eventual goal of three percent.
The board appointed Sonja Hummer and Mary Reinbold to the district’s budget committee, and renewed Sarah Rice for a two-year term. They join Erick Holsey and Chris Boothe as the citizen members of the committee.
Statement Regarding Softball Decision
Moravec read a statement from the board about the recent decision regarding the softball coaching staff.
The statement reads:
“The Clatskanie School District Board of Directors is elected by the people of the District to set policy and oversee the Administration. Recently, issues regarding the varsity softball coaching staff were brought to the Board by members of the public. After listening to hours of testimony in multiple executive sessions from people on both sides of the issue, the Board made a unanimous decision. That decision was not an easy one; but after listening to the testimony we found that we no longer had confidence in the softball head coach’s ability to perform the administrative duties which come with this position. The decision was not to reflect on the coach’s dedication to the softball program nor his ability to coach a specific skill set. Rather, it was based on the unresolved friction between the subordinate coaching staff, athletes, and parents.
“Our decision was not what was recommended by the District’s Administration. Some have questioned whether this shows a lack of support for the Administration from the Board. We strongly support the work this District’s Administration performs. However, we did not agree with the Administration on this particular issue. Support does not mean unquestioning agreement with every Administrative decision.
“We are very appreciative of the effort put forth by Vice Principal/Athletic Director Annikke Olson. Placed in a very difficult position, we feel she conducted herself in a professional and competent manner. We believe her investigative conclusions were not incorrect in themselves; but rather that her plan of action was not sufficient given the situation which developed. The Board would like to publicly state that Annikke Olson has the full support of this Board and that we greatly appreciate the hard work she performs for this District.
“We also appreciate our head coaches and the responsibilities they bear. They are responsible for teaching not only athletic skills, but life lessons. They must balance the desire to win with the ethic of sportsmanship. They must build teamwork not only among the athletes, but also with their assistant coaches and supporters. It is a hard job. We know that. We encourage our head coaches to seek the advice and help of the athletic director whenever difficulties arise beyond their control.”
Under the consent agenda at Monday’s meeting, the board approved the hiring of Renee Wells as the new head softball coach.
Other staff changes approved were the acceptance of the resignation of Jason Gundlach, fulltime teacher at CES, effective upon the hiring of his replacement, and the hiring of Ashley Rininger as a part-time temporary assistant.
Classified Employees Appreciation Week
The board proclaimed Classified Employee Appreciation Week as the week of March 5-9, and encouraged “all members of our community to join in this observance, recognizing the dedication and hard work of these individuals.”
Art Anderson of the NWRESD gave a presentation on Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which is a nationwide set of academic standards adopted by 45 states and Washington, D.C.
The new standards will replace the current Oregon standards and Oregon Assessment of Knowledge Skills (OAKS) testing over the next several years.
Anderson’s report stated that: “Currently, every state has its own set of academic standards, meaning public education students in each state are learning to different levels.” He also emphasized that CCSS was initially driven by the states as a joint effort between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
According to Anderson, the standards stress college and career readiness and cross curricular writing and thinking skills. On the elementary level, more time will be spent on non-fiction reading and preparation of students for CCSS standards at higher levels.
Congratulations to Cheer Squad, Student Body Report, Senior Party
Board member Monty Akin congratulated the cheerleading squad on its second place finish at the state championship, saying that the crowd was very impressed by their performance.
CMHS student body president Marilyn Pikovsky reported on various student activities and projects.
In response to a request from parents of the class of 2012, the board agreed to donate $500 to the planned alcohol/drug-free graduation party in lieu of providing bus transportation, which has been done in the past. The graduates will be spending a day celebrating at the Washington Family Camp in Central Oregon.
Following an executive session regarding a grievance from CMHS teacher Hillary Johnson, the board upheld the administration’s decision with the modification that a five-day suspension be reduced to four days.
Meetings March 12 and 19
The Clatskanie school board will meet Monday, March 12, to discuss upcoming union negotiations, and again for its regular board meeting on March 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the board meeting room at CMHS.
by Ernest Carman
A fresh look at a favorite story comes to Clatskanie as the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT), with more than 50 local students from kindergarten through 12th grade, present “King Arthur’s Quest,” sponsored by the Clatskanie Arts Commission (CAC).
Performances are set for Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, at 3 p.m., at the Donavon Wooley Performing Arts Center in the Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) at 471 SW BelAir Drive.
MCT, the nation’s largest touring children’s theatre for the last 40 years, will hold open auditions on Monday, March 5, at 3:30 p.m. at the CMHS auditorium.
In this new version of the age-old tale, lots of music, plot surprises, and humor await theatergoers.
Tickets for the show are available for $5 at the door with the CAC box-office in the foyer of the auditorium, open a half hour before the show.
The Kiwanis Club of Clatskanie is sponsoring the elementary school workshops and student assemblies, facilitated by the MCT touring group during their time spent working with children in the community.
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 them on the web at www.clatskaniearts.org.
by Cindy Bloomer
The town hall meeting in Rainier held by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici Saturday afternoon, Feb. 25, at the Rainier Senior Center drew a crowd despite the rainy, snowy weather.
Approximately 60 to 70 people attended, including Rainier and Clatskanie-area residents, elected officials and representatives of local businesses. The meeting was the fifth in a series of six town halls held by Bonamici across Oregon’s First Congressional District.
Bonamici began the town hall with an update summarizing her two and a half weeks in Congress since being sworn in Feb. 7, followed by a question and answer session. Bonamici noted that usually new members of Congress have an orientation lasting about one and a half weeks – hers was 45 minutes and she commenced to vote immediately.
Her first legislative action was to co-sponsor the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act of 2011, which raises the cap on credit union lending to small businesses.
Bonamici also co-sponsored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act to prohibit members of Congress from insider trading; the DISCLOSE 2012 Act, which enacts additional election campaign disclosure requirements, and the Teacher Relief Act of 2011, which allows tax deductions for teacher out-of-pocket expenses.
Bonamici emphasized that “Jobs is the number one issue,” and expressed support for President Obama’s infrastructure bank proposal, which she said will “be based on need and merit.” She added that she understands Columbia County has higher unemployment than any other county in Oregon’s First Congressional District.
The trasportation bill “went back to the drawing board,” said Bonamici, who described the bill as focused primarily on roads and without provisions for other forms of transit. Though Bonamici did not support the transportation bill, she clarified, “I hope to support it in a form that is good for Oregon.”
Support was also expressed by Congresswoman Bonamici for a bill to delay cuts for Medicare reimbursements to physicians. She also backs the continuation of unemployment benefits, and the reduced contributions by employees to Social Security, the “payroll tax cut.”
Committees and Caucuses
Bonamici is serving on the science, space and technology committee and is one of two Oregon voices on the congressional budget committee.
As a member of the budget committee Bonamici said she will be “looking at where the money goes and ways to reduce the deficit.” She anticipates “war savings” which, instead of being needed for funding military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be used to help balance the budget.
Corporation subsidies will be under scrutiny by Bonamici and she expressed her intent to end “Bush tax cuts for millionaires.” “There’s too many loopholes for those who make a lot of money – to pay someone to find a way to get them out of paying,” emphasized Bonamici.
In Congress, Bonamici is a part of the caucuses on the following topics: community college, pro choice, civility, congressional arts, congressional bike (to encourage cycling), small brewers, medical device and homelessness.
Bonamici particularly noted the partisan atmosphere in Congress, with Democrat members sitting together on one side and Republicans on the other, seldom interacting with each other – so unlike the bipartisanship she was accustomed to in the Oregon Senate. She hopes that through involvement in the civility caucus she can help address working together.
Questions from members of the audience were taken by Bonamici using a raffle system. Attendees interested in asking questions were given a ticket when arriving and had opportunity to ask a question if their number was called.
Bonamici’s help was requested in clarifying regulatory hurdles and exactly what is being proposed in the coal terminal projects along the Columbia River and the coal train activity they would bring to the area. Another citizen raised concerns about the impacts of coal trains, specifically in regard to noise and vibration.
“You deserve to have all the information you can get,” responded Bonamici, and encouraged everyone to “make their voices heard and keep in touch with concerns.” She noted it is an issue she will be looking at closely around the district. Citizens at town halls in Tigard and Hillsboro also expressed their interest in the coal issue, she added, and Bonamici was met by some of the same concerns at the Astoria town hall held following the Rainier meeting.
Paul Langner, waterfront facilities manager for Teevin Bros., detailed the condition of the Westport Slough. What used to be a viable port facility with a channel depth of 28 feet is now just seven feet in many places – shoaled in for the past 18 years, he said. If the Westport Slough were open, Langner emphasized he could have 17 people to work tomorrow with more to come.
Maintenance to keep Westport Slough open was federally funded up until 1993 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers temporarily suspended maintenance to shift resources to the Columbia River channel-deepening project, explained Langner.
Requests for the past eight years to Bonamici’s predecessor David Wu to champion federal authorization to dredge and maintain Westport Slough resulted in nothing but a series of missed opportunities, according to Langner. In regards to reopening the Westport Slough, Bonamici’s response was, “It is definitely on my list and I look forward to backing the delegation on that issue.”
Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl voiced her support for the timber bill under consideration by the Oregon legislature, which would allow for cutting timber while setting aside areas for preservation. Bonamici thought the bill’s passage “looks very promising” and called it an example of bipartisanship that is more of a long term solution.
Concerns were raised by several citizens over the rising gas prices. In response to an inquiry about exporting oil overseas Bonamici said, “I understand the concern of exporting oil and will be working to make sure that we are exporting goods that make sense.”
A businessman involved in the agriculture industry expressed his desire to be allowed to give kids the opportunity to work. Bonamici said she supported that, but with strong laws to prevent employment abuses against children that have happened in the past.
Joan Mason asked, “What ideas do you have on national health care access and affordability for everyone?” Bonamici replied, “When everyone has access, that’s when we begin to reduce costs,” and explained that when people do not have coverage, they often get their health care in the most expensive way possible – the emergency room.
Concern was voiced about the prevalence of lottery machines and its promotion to the public. In her response, Bonamici stressed the importance of not relying on lottery dollars for improvements and economic development.
Among other issues raised by citizens were privatization of Social Security, to which Bonamici stated her position as not supporting privatization or cuts; federal law usurping state law, particularly in the areas of medical marijuana and the sharing of vegetables; allowing family members of mentally ill patients to be more involved in their care and renewable energy.
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici may be reached by contacting her Oregon or Washington D.C. offices: 620 SW Main, Suite 606, Portland, OR 97205, 503 326-2901 or toll-free at 800 442-4003, and 2338 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515, 202 225-0855.
Offices are open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the Washington D.C. office, hours reflect eastern standard time.
Bonamici may also be contacted by e-mail through her “online office” at http://bonamici.house.gov/.
NEWLY-SEATED CONGRESSWOMAN Suzanne Bonamici gave an update on her first weeks in Congress and answered questions from constituents at a town hall meeting held at the Rainier Senior Center Saturday afternoon. For more details see accompanying story. Chief Photos by Cindy Bloomer