02 May 2012 by Published in: News No comments yet

Fatal Crash Simulation Warns Against DUII 

A FATAL CAR CRASH, claiming the life of one student and ending in the arrest of another, was simulated in the Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) parking lot on the morning of April 26, as part of an associated student body leaders’ effort to warn students against the dangers of alcohol and drinking and driving. Student leaders and parents took parts in the portrayed SKID program was held last year at RHS.

In the top photo, parents Gary and Teri Garlock are being consoled by a state police office as their daughter, Kenzie, portrays the “victim” of the crash, lying on the hood of the car (right). In the center of the photo CMHS student body president Marilyn Pikovsky is being “arrested” by Clatskanie Police Sergeant Shaun McQuiddy.

Gary Garlock described the experience in the following letter to the editor:

“This past week I had the opportunity to take part in an exercise called SKID (Stop Kids Intoxicated Driving)… I must say that it had a major impact on me as my daughter was playing the role of a death victim in a drunk driver car crash. The exercise was professionally organized by Tim Moore, a retired Washington County deputy, as a training tool for police departments and fire districts, as well as an eye opener to our youth.

“I was very pleased at the professionalism of our local city police, Columbia County Sheriff’s deputy, Oregon State Police, our local fire/EMT crew, and the Columbia County coroner, with the assistance of Groulx Family Mortuary.

“The tragic scene also included a few of our own CMHS students acting as the injured victims of the car crash, as well as one student acting as the drunk driver.  My wife and I played the part of the distraught parents of our daughter who was thrown through the windshield as her friend, who was drunk and driving home from a party after prom, crashed into another car carrying two other students.

“The scene was very realistic which made it very believable. This made me feel the emotions that I might feel in a real life scenario.  It was very difficult for me to deal with.

“The reason for this letter is to not only say ‘thank you’ to all those involved, but also to ask all parents reading this to talk to their children about the consequences of drunk driving. I realize that we can’t always keep our kids out of harm’s way, but we can talk to them and explain what can happen if they drive drunk, or get into a car with an intoxicated driver. I don’t condone underage drinking, but I do know that it happens. A simple phone call home to ask for a ride could save their life. If your student has not mentioned this exercise that they witnessed, ask them about it. Have a talk with your kids. It just might save a life. Thank you.”

Gary Garlock

Chief Photo by Amanda Gail Moravec


Merkley Seeks Input on Pros and Cons of Coal Exports

by Deborah Steele Hazen

“I am in the information collecting stage -  trying to get a first-hand understanding of the pros and cons of the situation,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley in regard to  coal export proposals.

“Will you be joining Senator (Ron) Wyden and Governor (John) Kitzhaber in calling for comprehensive environmental impact statements?” Merkley was asked by one of the approximately 90 citizens, including many students, who were gathered  in the Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) commons Tuesday afternoon, May 1, for a “town hall” meeting with Oregon’s junior senator.

Kitzhaber issued a statement April 25 asking federal agencies “to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the environmental, community, economic, transportation and energy security impacts of proposed coal exports to Asia before proceeding with further permitting and leasing decisions.”

The governor released a letter last week addressed to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and officials at the Bureau of Land Management and Army Corps of Engineers in which he asked for “a programmatic and comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS).”

Joining Kitzhaber and Wyden, who has also expressed concerns about the various coal export proposals, is “an option I’m considering,” Merkley told the crowd at the Clatskanie town hall.

“It would be a great time to weigh-in with key advantages and key challenges…with arguments for or against,” Merkley said, inviting constituents to comment on his website at http://www.merkley.senate.gov/ or to write or call his Portland office located at 121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1400, phone 503 326-3386, fax 503 326-2900.

One of the coal export proposals being questioned is Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific Project, which would see coal brought from the Powder River Basin in southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming by train to Boardman, then barged in covered barges to Port Westward near Clatskanie where it would be transferred, in a completely enclosed system, to the holds of ocean-going ships.

An Army Corps of Engineers public comments period on the project, in regard to docking facilities at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, ends May 5.

The Morrow Pacific Project would create 15 to 20 permanent jobs in Boardman, 20 to 25 at Port Westward, and more working on the river in-between.

Ambre Energy announced last week that it was seeking bids from Oregon companies  to create 20 enclosed barges valued at approximately $70,000,000. The barge building would create over 300 construction jobs over the next two years.

“What exactly are you doing to help create jobs in our area,” asked CMHS student Kelli Taylor.

“A straight-forward question with a more complicated answer,” replied Merkley. He then spoke about encouraging the production of energy in the United States, revitalizing the housing market, and the transportation bill he helped develop.

Merkley defended his vote against the Keystone pipeline proposal, and  condemned subsidies to oil companies.

While he expressed enthusiasm for biomass ethanol development, he was less supportive of the corn ethanol industry – such as the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward near Clatskanie. “Corn ethanol was one of the most subsidized substances,” until Congress took away a portion of the subsidies last year, Merkley said. “Biomass ethanol is a much cooler idea.”

The senator also defended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), informally referred to as “Obamacare.”

“It is a complex bill, but there are also a lot of stories about it that aren’t correct.” Merkley offered to find answers to specific questions raised by a constituent.

Merkley also expressed support for the efforts of Oregon and other states and unions to seek waivers from “Obamacare.”

“That’s why the waivers were put in. If Oregon can find a better path that provides a good system of health care – that’s good.”

Some or all of the questions about the PPACA may be “academic,” Merkley reminded the constituents, since the Supreme Court is now in the process of ruling on its constitutionality.

“The state efforts wouldn’t have the same constitutional test,” retired Rainier dentist Sydney Goodrich pointed out.

“Although the empowerment of the states could go down with the bill,” responded Merkley.

Another local citizen expressed his gratitude for the Oregon Health Plan, telling his story of a $50,000 bypass surgery that he could not have paid for without help from state and federal programs.

“We have the most complicated health care system in the world,” Merkley stated. “There are enormous stress factors with the complexity of our system.”

Merkley also shared the frustration of Stan Egaas, owner of The Berry Patch in Westport, who spoke about the over $50,000 in student loans owed by one of his employees. “Why is the government charging her 3.4 percent interest, and providing loans at lower interest rates to corporations?”

“We are becoming the first generation of parents whose children are getting less education than we did,” Merkley said. “It has huge consequences for opportunities for our children and for our economy.”

He suggested taking the money that is being spent on the war in Afghanistan and directing it in thirds to pay down the deficit, increase jobs and improve education.

“Does it pay down the deficit and does it create jobs?” That is Merkley’s test for new legislation, he said.

In answer to the last question of the town hall – from CMHS senior Hunter Spendlove – Merkley spoke about his initiative to fund more science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities in Oregon schools.


RHS Theatre Club Presents Beauty and the Beast

TAKING THE STAGE in Rainier High School Theatre Club’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. are (in back from left) Alyssa Nelson, Kaylah Hancock, Alyssa Swanson and (front) Nicholas Clark. Performances are scheduled May 4-5, and 11-12, at 7 p.m., with Saturday 2 p.m. matinees. Photo Courtesy of Kristina Brinton Anderson



Rainier School District Projects 2012-13 Budget

by Adam J. Wehrley

Rainier School District Superintendent Michael Carter and business manager Lil Guisinger presented the district’s 2012-13 proposed budget Tuesday night, May 1, to the budget committee. The committee is composed  of both school board members and district residents.

General fund revenues are projected to be $8,829,295 based on an assumed student enrollment with an average daily membership (ADM) of 1200 students. This is a $45,637 increase over last year’s budget.

In his budget message Carter stated that, “The projected total general fund revenue is $370,000 short of funding the projected expenditures.” The proposed budget reflects sufficient reductions to balance the budget, including one less teaching position at the elementary school and two less at the high school. The budget also includes an addition of $120,000 in funds held over from the 2011-12 year.

Carter also discussed several deferred maintenance items which he stated the district could no longer forego, including painting several buildings and the swimming pool. Half of the cost to paint the Briarcliff Pool is funded by donations and fundraising projects.

Carter also mentioned the need to update textbooks.

Another area of costs increases is in nutrition services, which will require $15,000 in increased supplements from the the general budget over last year’s funding. Carter stated that unfunded federal mandates account for much of the increases. The district’s nutrition budget has increased $84,049 since the 2009-10 budget year.

The committee elected George Evans as committee chair and Angela Wegener as vice-chair.

Guisinger gave a page-by-page explanation of the entire budget.

Throughout the meeting Carter stressed that the budget is an estimate, based on the ADM, which can fluctuate. Several committee members agreed that the enrollment numbers would be clearer after the kindergarten roundup on May 15.

At Carter’s suggestion the committee approved two changes to the budget for programs which were underfunded. Carter requested that the committee find $25,000 to maintain custodial services. He also asked for $25,000 for the extracurricular budget, which athletic director Graden Blue said had $30,000 in shortfalls this year.

After the committee discussed the importance of athletics and other extra-curricular activities, school board director Rod Harding, suggested a $70,000 transfer from the unappropriated fund balance into the board’s contingency fund, from which it can fund the custodial and athletic needs.

Budget committee member Debbie Dudley moved to make the transfer in the budget and member Tina Edwards seconded it. The committee unanimously approved the change.

Committee members were urged to continue reviewing the budget before the next committee meeting on May 22.



Whooping Cough Reported in Clatsop County and Washington

More regional reports of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) have been received by the Clatsop County Public Health Department (CCPHD), prompting them to encourage vaccinations for residents ages 2 months and above.

CCPHD has tallied a total of 14 positive reports of pertussis since March 16, involving 10 school-age children as well as one infant, two toddlers and one adult.

Spokespersons for the Clatskanie and Rainier school districts both said that no recent cases of pertussis have occurred at local schools. Mary Altenhein of the Columbia County Health Department said that no pertussis cases have been reported in Columbia County. Altenhein said, “The best bet is to be fully immunized.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Washington State, including Cowitz County, is experiencing a pertussis epidemic in 2012. As of April 21, there have been1,008 cases reported there, compared with110 for the same time period in 2011. Nationally, as of April 21, there have been 6,450 cases and six pertussis deaths in 2012.

Symptoms of pertussis include coughing “fits” sometimes followed by a “whooping” noise, vomiting, or the inability to catch one’s breath. People with pertussis are contagious for about three weeks or until after the fifth day of an appropriate antibiotic regime. In spite of antibiotics, severe coughing may last for months.

Parents whose children have been coughing repeatedly are advised to keep their children home from school, and to contact school officials if they believe their child has pertussis.

Pertussis can be life-threatening in infants up to 12 months old. Pregnant women in their third trimester are also considered high-risk because of the potential of passing the infection to their newborns. Adults with severe cases may develop pneumonia and need hospitalization. Adults and teenagers may spread the disease to infants and young children.

Clatsop County Public Health is recommending the pertussis booster vaccinations for all children ages 10 years and up in the Astoria School District who have not received a diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccination in the past five years.

The department is encouraging everyone in the county to review his or her vaccination records and contact their primary care provider or Clatsop County Public Health Department at (503) 325-8500. Pertussis vaccines are available at low or no cost through Clatsop County.


Rainier Saturday Market Returns to City Park

The Saturday Market will return to the Rainier city park beginning this Saturday, May 5.

The market will run the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning May 5 and continuing through Sept. 15.

A spokesperson for the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, which is coordinating the market, said: “We will have a nice selection of vendors at the market, with the number growing as the season progresses and the products change.”

New vendors are welcome to participate in the market. Contact Michael Kreger at 503 556-1312 or (503)320-8303, or email him at Michael.a.kreger@gmail.com.

Market applications are also available online at www.rainierchamberofcommerce.com.


Free Disposal of Bulky Waste at Rainier Cleanup Day Saturday

Residents in the Rainier area are invited to “help clean our little corner of the world” by the City of Rainier.

Rainier Cleanup Day this Saturday, May 5, will provide residents within the 97048 zip code area the opportunity to dispose of bulky items such as appliances and furniture free of charge.

Items will be accepted  from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 690 West A Street in Rainier, behind the wastewater treatment plant. A document shredding truck will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Accepted items include televisions, dishwashers, stoves, water heaters, washers and dryers, microwaves, furniture, car batteries, scrap metal, computers, printers and monitors, tires (not on rims) and yard debris.

Items not accepted are car bodies, hazardous waste including pesticides, solvents, paints, paint cans, liquids, commercial waste, propane bottles, concrete or bricks, tires on rims, household food and/or garbage, and sharps/needle containers.

Donations of canned food for H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Eat), Rainier’s community food pantry, will be collected at the event.

Supporters of the event are: the City of Rainier, The Clatskanie Chief, Clatskanie People’s Utility District, Columbia County Transfer Station, Columbia County work crew, Deli Store, Hudson Garbage Service, Junk It Store, Les Schwab Tire Center in St. Helens, Lower Columbia Insurance, Rainier Appliance, Rainier Sign Company, Recall, Triton Lawn and Yard Maintenance, and community volunteers.

Seniors or those who are disabled and need assistance with delivery of bulky items should contact Rainier city hall at 503 556-7301 by 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Those who would like more information or are interested in volunteering for the event should also contact city hall.


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