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September, 2012

Semi Truck Crash Blocks Highway 30 for Hours

A SEMI TRUCK OVERTURNED AND LOST ITS LOAD containing more than 800 bales of pest control attic insulation as it rounded the cloverleaf exit from the Lewis and Clark Bridge onto Highway 30 toward Rainier on Wednesday at approximately 3:30 p.m. The driver was extricated, treated and transported by Columbia River Fire and Rescue (CRF&R) to St. John Medical Center in Longview. Fuel leakage from the vehicle was estimated to be 50 gallons. The truck was towing two 40-foot flatbed trailers, one of which was empty.
Traffic flow was confined to one lane as emergency crews coordinated with Oregon Department of Transportation to control traffic, remove bales and contain fuel leakage. Traffic remained impacted until late in the evening. Chief Photo by Amanda Gail Moravec

Highway 30 Crash History Detailed by Safety Task Force

With the declaration of September as Highway 30 Safety Awareness Month, the Highway 30 Safety Task Force released a history of approximately 800 crashes on the highway through Columbia County from 2007 to 2011. (See the map on page 13).
Led by State Senator Betsy Johnson and Columbia County Commissioner Earl Fisher, the Highway 30 Safety Task Force is comprised of Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) staff members, Columbia County and local emergency responders and road personnel planners, industrial representatives and others.
ODOT estimates that 85 percent of vehicles on Highway 30 are speeding.
Turning issues are involved in 32 percent of all accidents on Highway 30 in Columbia County. Rear-ending is the second most common kind of crash – 23 percent. Many “rear-enders” take place at stop lights and stop signs. The third leading type of crashes on Highway 30 involves striking fixed objects – 15 percent of all crashes.
Perhaps surprisingly, a study of statistics has found that most crashes take place under dry conditions, during the day time. (See the pie charts printed with the map).
The public information campaign during September has focused on back to school safety, eliminating “distracted driving” (avoiding texting, cell phones, and focusing on the road), and driver readiness and safety attitudes – don’t drive drowsy, don’t speed, don’t follow too close, etc.
The map details 24 fatalities during the four-year period on the 48.5 stretch of Highway 30 through Columbia County between the Multnomah and Clatsop county lines.
The worst of those fatal crashes, in terms of number of lives lost, was the crash that took the lives of four just west of Clatskanie on Aug. 10, 2009.
A crash near Woodson, about seven miles west of Clatskanie on Aug. 27, 2010, took the lives of two people.
Half of the Highway 30 fatalities in the county from 2007 to 2011 were in the Clatskanie/Rainier area, with the other 12 spanning a point a few miles south of Goble to Scappoose.
Eighteen of the 24 fatalities were in 18 separate accidents.
The map also indicates the concentration of accidents, with the highest incident areas (61 or more accidents of all severities) shown in purple. The highest accident concentration areas are along the strip between Scappoose and St. Helens (Warren area), and in the vicinity of the Rainier Hill. Because of its abnormally high crash rate, the Warren area has been declared a “Safety Corridor,” and ODOT has added reflective striping and rumble strips
Information distributed by the Highway 30 Safety Task Force states that “the goal of reducing the crash rate to under 90 percent of the state average is achievable if we all remember that traffic safety begins with me.”
Traffic safety tips include:
• Give yourself at least a three-second count when following cars.
• Be rested before driving so you are alert behind the wheel. And remember, if you are tired and can’t remember the last few miles driven – you are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. It’s time to find a safe place to pull over and get some rest.
• Don’t text and drive. Texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of a football field completely blind.
• Remember that excessive speeding hurts everyone. Please follow posted speed limits.

Classified Raise Approved; School Board Hears Concerns

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Approval of a 1.25 percent cost of living allowance (COLA) for classified employees of the Clatskanie School District, issues related to a volunteer coach, and the continuation of youth basketball tournaments were on the agenda of the school board Monday, Sept. 24.

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved the COLA for the 2012-13 school year. Members of the Clatskanie chapter of the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA) had already approved the offer after the two-year contract, which began in 2011-12, was opened only to discuss wages for the coming year.

Also under the consent agenda, the board accepted the resignation of bus driver Warren Currington and the hiring of half-time bus driver Daisy McGinnis.

Board members agreed to allow the superintendent to dispose of unusable or outdated district property valued by the deputy clerk at $100 or less.

The purchasing of two new large busses through the lease-to-own purchasing program, as previously presented by the transportation director, was approved at a cost of approximately $22,000 per year.

Volunteer Coach Asks to be Reinstated

During the portion of the meeting devoted to public comments, Calvin Olsen read the following statement: “… I was recently relieved of my duties as CMHS (Clatskanie Middle/High School) JVII boys basketball coach. I am here this evening to contest this decision. I was informed by my head coach at 11:27 p.m. on August 20th, that the principal was not going to sign off on me coaching until we had a meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 5 p.m. the next day, August 21. With such short notice, I was unable to attend said meeting and it was rescheduled for August 29. The meeting included the head basketball coach, the assistant coach, the new athletic director, the principal and myself. I was under the impression that the meeting had been called for hearsay language that I had used at a practice in late January??? I stated in the meeting that yes, I got caught up in the heat of a moment and I muttered a curse word after I ended practice early due to a lack of respect by the boys. In this meeting, I apologized and promised I would clean up my mouth. Besides my language, I was also asked to promise not to practice with the boys. I was also sternly warned to fix a relationship with a colleague, which unbeknownst to me, was broken. That statement still has me baffled. I feel my character was also unfairly called into question in this meeting.

“This meeting occurred no less than seven months after the incident. I find it astounding that, if this happened inJanuary, why was I allowed to continue to volunteer my time? I have yet to be ‘officially’ let go. The principal stated that he would make his decision by the next morning. It wasn’t until two mornings later that I received a text message from the head basketball coach to call him. I did and he informed me that the principal didn’t want me to coach or to hold open gym.

“I feel that I have met all the requirements that were set before me and yet I was still ‘fired.’ When is enough enough and when is an apology meaningful? Tonight, I’m here to request to have my position as JVII coach reinstated. I have gone through all the proper channels and I feel that this is one of my last options.”

A group of students and citizens in attendance applauded at the end of Olsen’s statement.

Prior to the statement, Ronnie Cox, a parent and concerned citizen, said he had heard “lots of rumors” about Olsen “losing his rights to have open gym. Hopefully I’ll hear some answers and justification of why it was done.”

School board chair Megan Evenson thanked those who spoke and the other members of the public in attendance and assured them that Superintendent Mary Mitchell would be addressing the questions and concerns. Following the meeting, Mitchell told The Chief that she would call Olsen, Cox and Kevin Sprague, who spoke on another issue, on Tuesday.

Sprague told the board that he was a spokesperson for the committee which is hoping to continue the youth basketball program and tournaments that have been run by Gary Points for the past several years. Sprague said Points has decided he will not continue with the program.

Sprague asked for the school staff and board’s assistance in getting information regarding the availability of the school buildings for practices and tournaments. He also asked for their support for the program and “any direction you may have to offer.”
Board Members Offer Encouragement

Although most of the citizens and students present during the public comments portion of the meeting had left by the time for the “board comments” agenda item, directors Michael Moravec and Monty Akin both thanked the public for attending and bringing their concerns to the board.

Moravec encouraged them to speak to the athletic director about the open gym issue.

“I’m pleased to hear that there are parents willing to continue the basketball tournaments,” said Akin. “The tournaments are very much a benefit to the community and the students.” He spoke words of encouragement to the parents “who are working towards getting that started.”

Policies and Reports

In the only action item of the evening, the board unanimously approved revisions to policies regarding the reporting of suspected abuse of a child, and reporting requirements regarding sexual conduct with students.

Student body officer Taryn Clappé reported on the recent back-to-school night and the planning that is underway for homecoming, Oct. 8-12.

Teachers Ryan Tompkins and Marc Brewer told the board about the current effort to track student achievement through data, and sharing that information in data teams.

CMHS principal Jeff Baughman reported that the new forestry classes taught by Tristan Holecheck are “going well.”

In response to a question from board member Janet Willey, Baughman said that a Kiwanis Builders Club for middle school students, had been started with the assistance of Melody Skirvin, and a Kiwanis Key Club for high school students was being restarted with the help of Kiwanians Greg Buzzy and Monica Hastings.

Superintendent Mitchell reported that the Clatskanie School District “achievement compact” was not approved by the new Oregon Education Investment Board, but the data necessary to meet the requirements is now available and she is confident the district will be successful in setting goals acceptable to the board.

“It would probably be a better time” to develop these goals just before the beginning of the school year when the data is available, “but the date (in the spring) is set by statute,” Mitchell explained.

Baughman reported that the staff is working hard on the “SMART” goals related to Oregon’s testing standards.

The CMHS principal is also addressing 12 recommendations from the accreditation report, but “we came out looking good.”

He introduced the new half-time counselor, Sharon Williams, who is working with middle school students on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and is also volunteering as a middle school volleyball coach.

The administrators reported that the combined enrollment for the district is down only about two or three – a couple of new students enrolled this week – from the end of the year enrollment last spring. However, the current 744 students is down about 40 from the September, 2011 enrollment. That has become typical for Clatskanie’s enrollment to be 30 to 40 students fewer at the end of the year than at the beginning, the administrators said.

Assistant principal and athletic director Amy McNeil reported on a “wonderful” first month of the school year with two “phenomenal assemblies,” one put on by the middle school leadership group, and the other a pep assembly for Clatskanie High School.
The dedication of the new football scoreboard and “Hall of Fame” inductions are set for the Oct. 5th football game against Rainier.
McNeil reported that there had been several football injuries, but they are “hopefully healing pretty soon.”

 

North Nehalem Street Paving Set This Week

Lakeside Industries, working under contract for the City of Clatskanie was scheduled to conduct pavement repairs on North Nehalem Street in downtown Clatskanie between Highway 30 and 5th Street on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 26 and 27, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The work includes repairs to deteriorated pavement sections and paving.

On Wednesday, the west side (southbound lane) of North Nehalem Street was scheduled to be closed and street parking was prohibited.
On Thursday, the east side (northbound lane) was to be closed and street parking prohibited.

Closed to all traffic during work hours on both days will be NE Lillich Street and NE 1st Street (the alley between Colvin’s Pub & Grill and the Conestoga) at their intersections with North Nehalem Street.

The contractor, Lakeside Industries, Inc. will have traffic control in place to assist motorists through the work area.
City of Clatskanie public works director Dave True apologized for any inconvenience. Those with questions may call him at 503 741-0802.

 

Columbia County Unemployment Worsens Slightly, Clatsop County Rate Unchanged

Columbia County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.5 percent in August was increased slightly from the previous month’s 9.4 percent, but was lower than the year before at 10.3 percent.

The rate was higher than the statewide rate of 8.9 percent and the national rate of 8.1 percent.

Total employment fell by 87 to 22,435 and the number of unemployed people dropped by 106 to 2,319. Total employment this August was 111 more than one year before and there were 164 fewer people unemployed this year.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 70 in August to 9,580. Seasonally adjusted figures compare expected changes with actual changes.

A gain of 10 jobs is normal for the month and the county’s payroll employment grew by 60. The private sector added 10 jobs and government employment increased by 50. Trade, transportation and utilities gained 20 jobs. Local government education added 50 jobs as school neared.

Total nonfarm employment in August was down 30 jobs from one year before. Private sector employment increased by 70 and governments cut 100 jobs.

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

Stays at 8.0 Percent

Clatsop County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.0 percent in August, the same as the previous month, but lower than the year before at 8.6 percent. It was lower than the statewide rate of 8.9 percent and about the same as the national rate of 8.1 percent.

Total employment in the county decreased by 121 from the previous month to 19,809. The estimated number of unemployed people dropped by 57 to 1,517. The number of unemployed this August was 181 fewer than one year before and 235 fewer people were employed meaning the labor force has dropped by 416 in total, according to a recent employment department press release.
Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment fell by 100 in August to 16,630. Seasonally adjusted figures compare expected changes with actual changes. A gain of 40 jobs is normal for the month, and the county shed 60 jobs. The private sector lost 90 jobs and government employment grew by 30.

Food manufacturing cut 110 jobs and leisure and hospitality grew by 50. The federal government added 30 jobs.

July’s total nonfarm payroll employment was 10 more than its level last year.

Unemployment rates for other counties can be found at www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/AllRates.

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