14 November 2012 by Published in: News No comments yet

Wrapping Gifts for Veterans

WRAPPING ABOUT 150 CHRISTMAS GIFT boxes for veterans and their families last Thursday at the Clatskanie American Legion Hall  were about 25 members of Clatskanie’s American Legion Auxiliary Louis Larsen unit 68, students from Piercing Arrow Private School and other Clatskanie and Rainier community members. The boxes will be part of the 1800 to 2000 gifts distributed at the Portland Veterans Administration hospital this Christmas season.

The veterans gift program has been operating in the Portland region for 72 years and has served as a model for similar programs across the country. Patients in the hospital and those walking in to receive treatment will be given gifts – for themselves and to give to family members.

Operated by the American Legion Auxiliary, the program works in part through community donations and in cooperation with the American Legion which purchases the gifts. For more information or to make a donation, contact Del Dyer, American Legion Auxiliary gift program chairperson, 503 680-5499. Chief Photo by Molly G. Wehrley

Complaint Characterized as “Vendetta” by Councilor

by Adam J. Wehrley

“It is a disgrace that individuals are again wasting taxpayer money for their personal vendettas,” said Rainier city councilor Sloan Nelson in  response to an ethics complaint filed last week, against him and city administrator Debra Dudley.

The Oregon Government Ethics Commission would not release the content of the complaint due to confidentiality regulations, but did confirm that recalled city councilors Russ Moon and David Langford had filed it along with several other Rainier residents.

“The complaint did not include any specific alleged violations, but appears to be centered around the EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) issue,” stated Dudley, who received a copy of the complaint along with Nelson. “I am confident that the ethics commission will dismiss this complaint as unfounded.” she said.

At the time the EDU program was adopted, Dudley was serving as finance director and played no policy setting role in the determination of utility rates.

The EDU program, which sets base utility rates for housing units with multiple dwellings, has become an issue of debate over the past several months and Mayor Jerry Cole has formed a committee to investigate the program.

A Sept. 20th, 2010, memo written by former city administrator Lars Gare recommended approving resolution 10-09-02 setting the EDU charges. The minutes from that night’s council meeting show Moon moving to approve the motion and Nelson and Mike Avent abstaining, based on a conflict of interest. Langford also voted in favor of the resolution.

The program increased the base rate paid by the owners of properties included in the program, which previously had paid per account, rather than per housing unit. Under the program, an apartment or motel/hotel room pays a percentage of the rate (EDU) paid by a single family dwelling.

A representative from the ethics commission explained that the commission will determine whether the claims fall into its jurisdiction before starting a review, which may take 135 days, after which an investigation may be started. The commission has the option of dismissing the charges at any point, if they are determined to be unfounded.

In  a written statement provided to The Chief on Tuesday, Nov. 13, Nelson’s said: “I have received notice from the Government Ethics Commission that a complaint was received. While not identifying specific violations, the complaint is related to the EDU issue.

“This complaint is led by a disgruntled individual attempting to discredit and disrupt the operation of the city. This is yet another example of the harassment the council and city staff has been subjected to.

“It is a disgrace that individuals are again wasting taxpayer money for their personal vendettas.

“As your city councilor, I am confident that this complaint has no merit. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions,” Nelson concluded.

County and State Election Final Counts In

by Adam J. Wehrley

With polls closed and ballots counted, incumbents held their ground in many state and county-wide positions following the Nov. 6th election, including Columbia County commissioners Earl Fisher and Tony Hyde and Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson.

Fisher’s challenger, Wayne Mayo, with 9,903 votes, fell only 267 votes short of Fisher’s 10,170 votes for position 1.

With 16 years of service on the board of county commissioner, Hyde will continue serving after receiving over 61 percent of the votes. His challenger Tammy Maygra received 38 percent.

Sheriff Dickerson was elected to a second term with 12,092 votes (59 percent). Retired deputy Dave Fuller took 8,253 (40 percent).

Rounding out the Columbia county-wide positions, Jennifer Cuellar Smith was unopposed and was re-elected as county treasurer with nearly 98 percent of the votes.

Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole ran unopposed and received 93 percent of the votes.

Three Rainier city council positions were contested.

In position 2, Councilor Mike Avent, who has served since 1997 lost to challenger and former council member Judith Taylor. Taylor took 398 votes to Avent’s 311.

Councilor William Vilardi retained position 6, bringing in 432 votes, almost 62 percent. Vilardi was challenged by Councilor Phil Butcher, who gave up his seat in position 7 to run against Vilardi. Butcher drew 261 votes.

Steven Massey and Robert Piercy ran for position 7, left open by Butcher. Massey won over 62 percent of the votes for a 419 to 240 vote victory.

Incumbent State Representative Brad Witt (Democrat) retained the 31st District carrying 53 percent of the votes. Lew Barnes (Republican) took 41 percent.

In the 32nd District, Deborah Boone (Democrat) carried 68 percent to win reelection against Jim Welsh (Constitution), who took 25 percent.

Columbia River People’s Utility District (CRPUD) had challenges for subdivisions 1, 3 and 4. Incumbent David Baker held onto subdivision 1 with 51 percent of the vote (1,516) over Will Kessi’s 1,420 (48 percent).

Richard Simpson received 1,817 votes (70 percent), to retain subdivision 3. Challenger Ernie Zimbrick had 684 (26 percent).

Challenger Jake Carter successfully won subdivision 4, with 1,605 votes (63 percent) to incumbent Darrel Purkerson’s 882 (35 percent).

Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl was unopposed and received 554 votes for reelection, giving her 90 percent, with 59 write-in votes cast.

Clatskanie’s city council is elected at-large, with the top three vote gainers taking office. The three incumbents were the only candidates filed and will retain their seats. Kathryn R. Engel received 518 votes, James L. Morgan took 504 and Stephen S. Constans had 490.

For the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (CPUD), three incumbent directors ran unopposed for reelection, each gaining 95 percent or more. Bob Wiggins was reelected to subdivision 1. Merle Gillespie stays in subdivision 2 and Stephen Petersen remains in subdivision 5.

County-wide 23,785 out of the 29,450 registered voters in Columbia County cast ballots, for an 80.76 percent voter turnout exceeding the Oregon statewide turnout of 77.96%.

President Barack Obama received 50.26% of Columbia County votes over Mitt Romney’s 45.18 percent.

Suzanne Bonamici (Democrat) was elected as first district U.S. representative, receiving 60 percent of the votes district-wide and 54 percent in Columbia County. Delinda Morgan (Republican) received 32 percent of the votes in the district and the county. Constitution party candidate Bob Ekstrom took nine percent of the Columbia County votes and 2.6 percent overall.

Secretary of State,Kate Brown (Democrat) was reelected with 51 percent of the votes state-wide and 50.8 percent in the county. Challenger Dr. Knute Buehler (Republican) received 43 percent of the vote.

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler (Democrat) won with 57 percent of the state and 55 percent of the county. Republican challenger Tom Cox took 37 percent both at the state and county level.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (Democrat) took 56 percent of the statewide votes and 53 percent of Columbia County. James Buchal (Republican) gained 39 percent of the state and 40 percent of Columbia County.

Democrat Brad Avakian was reelected Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industry with 52 percent statewide, but didn’t carry Columbia County, taking only 48 percent. Bruce Starr received nearly 47 percent of the statewide votes and won Columbia County with 50.48 percent.

Columbia County disagreed with the state as a whole on Ballot Measure Number 77 which amends the constitution so that the Governor may declare “catastrophic disaster” and authorizes suspending specified constitutional spending restrictions. The county voted 51 to 48 percent against the measure, which was approved by 58 percent of Oregon voters.

Measure 78, which changes constitutional language describing separation of powers and makes grammatical and spelling changes passed with 71 percent state-wide and 62 percent in the county.

Ballot Measure 79 prohibiting real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on Dec. 31, 2009 was approved by 65 percent of Columbia County and 59 percent of Oregonians.

Measure 80 allowing the personal possession of marijuana and hemp cultivation without a license failed 53 percent to 46 statewide and by a slightly higher 54 to 45 percent margin in the county.

Measure 81, which would have prohibited the commercial non-tribal fishing with gillnets in Oregon, was rejected by Oregon voters 65 percent to 34. Columbia County residents voted against it 60 percent to 39. In Clatsop County the measure failed by an 86 paercent margin.

Measure 82 authorizing privately-owned casinos failed by a 71 to 28 percent margin state-wide and by a narrower 66 to 33 margin in the county.

Measure 83 specifically authorizing a casino in Wood Village failed by a slightly smaller 70 to 29 percent statewide and 65 to 34 Columbia County margins.

Measure 84 which proposed phasing out inheritance taxes on large estates and taxes on intra-family property transfers failed statewide 53 to 46 percent. In Columbia County it was much closer with only  a three-vote margin, with 11,355 no votes and 11,352 yes votes.

Oregonians voted 59 percent in favor of Measure 85 which amends the constitution, allocating any corporate income/excise tax “kicker” refund to additionally fund kindergarten through 12 public education. Columbia county voted 52 percent to 47 percent in favor.

City Council Gives Community Service Award; OKs MOU with Foundation

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Longtime teacher and community volunteer Elsa Wooley was honored by the City of Clatskanie at a reception prior to the regular council meeting last Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Wooley served as a Clatskanie High School teacher for 30 years and also served in many roles as a club and class advisor. Since her retirement she has continued to encourage students to seek post-secondary education through serving as a mentor and as a scholarship committee member for the Clatskanie Foundation.

Recently named to the board of the Foundation, Wooley now serves as its scholarship chair and is also a member of the Foundation’s Clatskanie Cultural Center (IOOF Hall/Theatre building restoration) project development and capital campaign committees.

Along with her husband, Donavon “Dee” Wooley, she is a founding member of the Clatskanie Arts Commission and continues to lead that organization. She also formerly served as vice president of the Clatskanie Senior Citizens board of directors; is active with the Clatskanie Cruisers car club, and is a member and past president of Chapter T P.E.O., serving as co-chair for the 2011 P.E.O. state convention.

During the reception honoring Wooley, friends and well-wishers filled the city council chambers, and Mayor Diane Pohl made the formal presentation of the award just prior to the start of the regular meeting.

Business during the city council meeting included the  approval of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City of Clatskanie and the Clatskanie Foundation regarding the IOOF hall project.

The MOU agrees upon the following intentions:

“1. The City will relocate City Hall operations from its existing building to the second floor of the IOOF hall after the IOOF restoration project is complete.

“2. The existing City Hall building will be transferred to the Foundation. It is understood by both parties that the Foundation intends to raze the existing City Hall and use the vacated space for parking.

“3. In lieu of a cash payment for the existing city hall building, the Foundation intends to rent the proposed city hall space in the IOOF hall to the City for 20 years, rent free.

“4. The City intends to provide water and sewer service to the IOOF hall (excluding the designated retail space) for 20 years.

“5. This MOU is strictly a recitation of current intentions and is not contractually binding upon either party hereto.”

The Clatskanie Foundation has so far raised approximately $1.9 million of a total $3.3 million goal, and several grant applications are in progress. The goal is to have the funding in place for the project by the end of 2013.

Those wishing to know more about the local fundraising drive – which currently stands at $99,000 – are invited to contact Deborah Hazen at 503 728-3350, 503 728-4129 or e-mail chief@clatskanie.com.

In other business at last week’s meeting, the council:

• Approved a sludge hauling contract with Roto Rooter for $15,200.

• Decided that because of low interest rates no recreational grants from the Scout Lake fund will be given during the current fiscal year.

• Approved the placing of stop signs at the intersection of SW 7th and Bryant streets, and at 3rd and Truhaak streets to address traffic control concerns.

• City manager Greg Hinkelman reported that 14 applications had been received for the position of public works director, recently vacated by the resignation of Dave True. The majority of those applying are civil engineers.

• Hinkelman reported that the Clatskanie People’s Utility District is again interested in renting the pole yard space on the city’s property at the old Beaver Mill site to store poles and equipment during the current line reconstruction between Clatskanie and Wauna.

Elsa Wooley Honored by City

HONORED WITH THE CITY OF CLATSKANIE’S highest award, the Oren C. Tweet Community Service Award, at the Nov. 7th city council meeting was Elsa Wooley, pictured with her husband, Donavon “Dee” Wooley, in front of the picture of Tweet, the longtime city councilor and community volunteer for whom the award was named. See the accompanying story for more information. Chief Photo by Deborah Steele Hazen

Sharing Forum Set Nov. 20

With inter-district sharing between Clatskanie and Rainier as its topic, a public forum has been called by the administration of Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS), to be held in the CMHS auditorium from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Starting last year, the sharing program has been designed to maintain elective opportunities for students during a time of shrinking budgets. Either Clatskanie or Rainier high school students may choose to take classes offered at the other high school.

CMHS Principal Jeff Baughman stated that the purpose of next week’s forum is to discuss the sharing program with parents and other interested community members, answer questions, hear concerns, and give information about the educational benefits of the sharing program.

Buses Run Earlier

In an attempt to address what was identified at a recent joint meeting of the Clatskanie and Rainier school boards as the main logistical problem with sharing – the timely transferring of students from one district to another – Clatskanie School District superintendent Mary Mitchell has announced that starting Monday, Nov. 26, school buses will pick up students 15 minutes earlier.

School start time will not change.

Next meeting of the Clatskanie school board is Monday, Nov. 26, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 107 at CMHS.

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