16 January 2013 by Published in: News No comments yet

Frozen Pipe Damages CES Library

FINDING HUNDREDS OF GALLONS OF HOT WATER leaking from a broken radiator and condensation from steam dripping from the ceiling, Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) staff acted quickly to clear books, furniture and equipment from the school library early Monday morning, Jan. 14.

By Tuesday afternoon water damage response crews from Servpro of Longview had removed damaged book cases and cut away the library’s sheetrock to blow heated air in an effort to prevent mold growth and dry out the structure.

Top Photo Courtesy of Connie Sims, Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley

Broken Pipe Floods CES Library Causing Extensive Damage

by Adam J. Wehrley

Causing extensive water damage and threatening the usability of the school’s $250,000 book collection, a broken pipe in the Clatskanie Elementary School’s (CES) heating system flooded the library with hundreds of gallons of water.

The damage was discovered early Monday morning, Jan 14. The water was pouring in from a unit ventilator, similar to a radiator, attached to the school’s boiler system.

Maintenance director Rex Nicholas confirmed that the flooding resulted from a pipe damaged by the cold weather over the weekend. He told The Chief that the library had been fine Saturday evening, when it was last checked.

Staff members preparing for breakfast Monday morning discovered water covering about one-third of the cafeteria floor. The source was traced to the library where the carpets were flooded, heavy steam hung in the air and condensation dripped from the ceiling.

Condensation saturated the library’s shelves and books. The full extent of the damage has not yet been determined, “Every time they open something, they find more water.” said Northwest Regional Education Service District Superintendent James Sager, who stepped in as Clatskanie’s acting superintendent Monday morning, temporarily replacing former superintendent Mary Mitchell, who resigned effective Jan. 11 to take the special education director job in St. Helens.

The library’s 11,000 books, valued at about $250,000 have been removed from the shelves and boxed until the room can be dried completely. The space will then used to examine each volume for damage.

CES librarian Connie Sims explained that during that process damaged books will be deleted from the library computer catalogue. Decisions about which books will need to be replaced will be held off until after the damage is accessed.

“I can run the library from any computer.” stated Sims explaining that while students are currently holding on to books they have checked out, a temporary location will need to be found. She also said that the district has classroom libraries and some books in storage in another building.

Sager noted that the big impact will be to the school’s various reading programs including the Bikes for Books program, sponsored by the Clatskanie Masonic Lodge. CES students check out over 20,000 books per year.

Sager stated that the financial damage should be covered by the district’s insurance policy which has a $1000 deductible. Insurance adjusters will consult with the district this week.

Water damage was evident on many of the bookcases that had been removed and staff members were concerned about window casings. Sager and Nicolas hope  the carpets can be saved, although baseboards have been removed in both the library and cafeteria and will need replacing.

Wallboard and insulation have been cut away near the floors in part of the library to ventilate the walls with hot air in an effort to prevent further damage.

“We were on it fast enough that we hope to avoid any mold problems.” said Sager. He then said that air quality will be tested to insure that a mold problem is not present. He also stated that the space above the ceiling appeared to be fine and the ceiling tiles should be alright due to their protective coating.

The library is in the newest wing of the school, completed in 2002 as part of $7.9 million in renovations which also included repairs to other buildings in the district.

No estimates of the total cost of the damage, the timeline for reopening the library or the number of books which will have to be disposed of and replaced were available as of Tuesday.

Sims expressed her gratitude to the teachers and staff who helped move books, furniture and equipment early Monday morning and thanked them for the quick thinking.

“These guys are fabulous!” She said of the clean-up and restoration workers from Servpro of Longview.

Auditions Monday for Children’s Theatre Production

Auditions for the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) production of “The Tortoise Versus The Hare – The Greatest Race” are set for Monday, Jan. 21, at 3:30 p.m. in the Donavon Wooley Performing Arts Center at Clatskanie Middle/High School, 471 SW BelAir Drive.

Local children from kindergarten through 12th grade  are invited to audition for the play, which will be performed on Friday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m. after rehearsals all week. Approximately 50 to 60 local children and teens will be cast in the play – a fresh look at the well-known fable.

MCT, the nation’s largest touring children’s theatre for the last 40 years, has presented productions for  the Clatskanie Arts Commision (CAC) for  many years.

In this new version of the age-old tale, lots of music, plot surprises, and humor await theatergoers. As part of CAC’s 24th season, this production promises to be a heartwarming presentation that will delight audiences of all ages, a spokesperson said.

Tickets for the show are now available at $5 for all ages at Some Like It Hot! coffee and tanning, 401 East Columbia River Highway, in the Evergreen Shopping Center, or at the door with the CAC box-office opening in the foyer of the auditorium a half hour before each 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 our community.  The performances also receive funding support from Portland General Electric through PGE’s Beaver and Port Westward plants.

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 the website at www.clatskaniearts.org.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Columbia County Commissioners

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Ted E. Grove has granted a summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit filed against the Columbia County commissioners and the City of St. Helens in regard to the now-defunct Columbia Health District.

In a ruling dated Dec. 28, Judge Grove stated: “I am granting summary judgment in both matters against the plaintiffs and in favor of all defendants and intervenors as to all claims based upon my determination that the actions complained of were within the statutory authority of the Columbia County Commissioners in their capacity as trustees of the dissolved Columbia Health District.”

The letter was addressed to attorneys for both the plaintiffs – the new members of the health district board who took office 45 days before the voter-approved dissolution of the district occurred – and the defendants – Columbia County Commissioners Tony Hyde, Earl Fisher and Henry Heimuller and the City of St. Helens.

The lawsuit alleged that the board of commissioners were acting illegally as trustees of the Columbia Health District (CHD) assets after voters of the district voted to dissolve it, and that the assets of the district, including property in St. Helens on which the former CHD board had hoped to build a hospital, should not be transferred to the City of St. Helens.

The defendants contended that they were acting as the law required.

In his letter announcing his ruling, Judge Grove wrote: “Following the election in which the voters overwhelmingly decided to dissolve the district, the then District Board of Directors appointed the Columbia County Board of Commissioners to act as the Board of Trustees pursuant to ORS 198.945(1) for purposes of disposing of the district’s assets and paying any remaining debts as set out in Resolution No. 10-13-2011 which was adopted on October 13, 2011.”

Judge Grove stated that the plaintiffs had filed no affidavits in opposition to the motions for summary judgment and the time for filing those affidavits had long since passed.

A lawsuit about the same issues and asking for a multi-million dollar settlement was filed in federal court in October. The commissioners have not been served with any paperwork in that lawsuit.

Beautiful, Treacherous Ice

SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES FOR SEVERAL NIGHTS, followed by cold days that allow just a bit of thawing, resulted in picturesque “hoarfrost” coating the bare branches of a tree. This photo was taken Sunday morning. While beautiful, the wintry weather contributed to serious damage to the Clatskanie Elementary School library (see photos and story above), and delayed or closed local schools on Tuesday due to icy roads. Clatskanie, Vernonia, Jewell, Scappoose and St. Helens schools were delayed for two hours Tuesday morning, while Rainier was forced to close school for the day. The Mist grade school was also closed on Tuesday because of the hazardous driving conditions. Chief Photo by Cindy Bloomer

Wet and Dry Extremes Highlight 2012 Weather

by Cindy Bloomer

Despite an exceptionally dry summer season, 2012 was significantly wetter than normal, largely due to near record rainfall in March plus a very soggy December.

Rainfall in Clatskanie for the year totaled 67.96 inches, which was well above the yearly average of 56.39, according to records kept by the City of Clatskanie.

Average mean temperature in Clatskanie for the year was 50.3 degrees – slightly cooler than the typical annual mean temperature of 50.9.

Following is a month-by-month summary of Clatskanie weather highlights.


January of last year boasted more snow than normal, due to a four-day snow storm mid-month which blanketed the valley floor and delivered accumulations of around two feet in the higher elevations.

In Clatskanie, an inch of snow was measured on Jan. 15, 16 and 17, and four inches fell overnight on the 18th, bringing the January snowfall to a total of seven inches. Typical snowfall for the month is 4.4 inches, according to weather records kept since 1935 and assembled by the Western Regional Climate Center.

Though snowier than usual, January of 2012 was slightly drier than normal with 8.60 inches of precipitation, compared with the historical average of 8.88.

January temperatures were close to average with minimum and maximum average temperatures of 32 and 45 degrees. Mean temperature – calculated using the average high and low temperatures – was 38.5 degrees, just under the typical mean of 38.8.


Typical temperatures and a slightly drier trend continued through February, punctuated by a hint of spring-like weather Feb. 3-7 bringing highs in the mid to upper 50s.

Average high and low temperatures registered 49 and 34 degrees which were slightly below the historical normal of 49.2 and 34.5. Mean temperature was 41.5, compared to the average mean of 41.8 degrees.

Although some of the higher elevations experienced snow during February, none was recorded in Clatskanie on the valley floor.

February’s precipitation was nearly an inch and a half less than usual – 5.27 inches compared to 6.67. Measureable amounts of rain were recorded almost every day with the exception of the five-day warm surge early in the month.


With near record rainfall, March more than made up for any lack of rain the previous two months.

The month’s 12.76 inches of precipitation was more than twice as wet as normal and came within an inch of the standing record of 13.51 inches set in March of 1956.

Snow arriving March 1 brought to mind the old saying about “coming in like a lion,” and set the stage for the wildly wet weather the rest of the month, coupled with cooler than usual temperatures.

More snow fell March 22, bringing the total snowfall for the month to one inch, which is the typical amount for Clatskanie in March, according to historical averages.

Maximum and minimum average temperatures were 50 and 35 degrees, for a mean temperature of 42.5, – compared to historical averages of 53.6 and 36.5, and a mean of 45.1 degrees for March.

Instead of “going out like a lamb,” March left in a blustery huff, giving no mind to the arrival of spring March 20.


Cool weather succumbed to spring in April, but not without getting in a handful of freezing temperatures.

A three-day burst of warm weather April 22-24 brought the year’s first 70-degree weather and also accounted for half of the dry days for the month.

Overall, temperatures and precipitation were rather average. The mean temperature of 49 degrees for April differed only slightly from the typical mean of 48.9. Maximum and minimum temperatures for Clatskanie were 58 and 40 degrees, close to the historical averages of 58.5 and 39.4.

Rainfall measured 4.02 inches, which was less than a quarter inch above the normal rainfall of 3.88 for April. Measurable and trace amounts of precipitation were recorded on all but six days.


Rainclouds parted over Clatskanie for a nearly two-week stretch May 7-19, bringing with it a sampling of summer temperatures, but overall, temperatures for May were significantly cooler than normal.

Just several days before the 80-degree weather, the thermometer dipped to 31 degrees on May 10, claiming the last freezing temperature  of the season.

May’s minimum average temperature of 42 degrees was over two degrees cooler than the normal average low of 44.4. Maximum average was 63 degrees, compared with the typical high of 64.4 for Clatskanie.

Mean temperature for the month was 52.5, nearly two degrees cooler than the typical mean of 54.4 degrees.

Most of the month’s 2.88 inches of rainfall was concentrated into two rainy spells which ushered in the sunny weather and escorted it out. Precipitation was just a little over Clatskanie’s average of 2.55 inches for May.


June’s wet, cool weather could easily have been mistaken for typical May weather, judging by Clatskanie meteorological records.

June’s rainfall of 3.58 inches surpassed May’s average precipitation amount of 2.55 inches and swept past June’s typical average of 1.81. Though considerably wetter than normal, the month fell short of the 4.85 inches record in Clatskanie for June set in 1937.

Historically, June temperatures average a maximum and minimum of 68.5 and 49.2 degrees, respectively. Highs and lows for June 2012 averaged 64 and 46 degrees, for a mean temperature of 55 degrees – considerably cooler than the typical mean of 58.9.


Judging by the weather in Clatskanie for 2012, one might argue that summer did not really begin until July 5, which marked the beginning of a long dry spell over the summer months.

Precipitation was recorded July 1-4, and the rest of the month was dry except for several days with only light showers. July’s rainfall total of .28 inch fell significantly short of the typical average of .69 inch.

Though drier than normal, maximum temperatures kept on the cool side with highs in the 60s and 70s. The coldest temperature for the month was recorded the morning of July 4 with a chilling 40 degrees, but warmed later in the day for a fair weather 4th of July celebration.

Average maximum temperature was 70 degrees, more than three degrees cooler than the typical average high of 73.7 degrees for July. However, the minimum average temperature of 53 degrees was slightly warmer than the month’s average low temperature of 52.7.

Mean temperature was cooler than normal – 61.5 degrees compared to the historical average of 63.2.


Summer cranked up the heat in August and kept rainclouds pushed away, causing considerably drier conditions than normal for August.

A cold nip in the air finished off August with cold temperatures that dipped into the 40s during the last week.

The entire month’s measurable precipitation of .09 inch fell on Aug. 27, a trace amount was recorded Aug. 6. Typical rainfall for August in Clatskanie is .99 inch.

The hottest day of the year was recorded Aug. 5, reflecting the previous day’s sweltering 97 degrees.

Overall, temperatures were higher than usual in August. The average maximum temperature of 76 degrees was nearly two degrees higher than the historical average of 74.1. Average minimum temperature was 53 degrees, very close to the typical low of 53.1.

Mean temperature registered higher than normal in August – 64.5 degrees compared to the historical normal of 63.6 for the month.


September weather was among the driest on record for Clatskanie – the month’s .02 inch of precipitation rivaled the record set in September of 1975 with just .01 inch of rain.

The extended summer dry spell coupled with warmer than usual temperatures created increased fire danger levels.

High temperature averages for September registered about three degrees higher than normal while lows averaged about three degrees cooler – 74 and 46 degrees, compared to 71.1 and 49.3.

Mean temperature of 60 degrees, reflecting the month’s average highs and lows, was slightly below the typical mean of 60.2 for September.


Rain returned in mid October with a bit of a vengeance. bringing summer to an abrupt end as the rainy season descended beginning Oct. 12.

Precipitation for October totaled 7.72 inches, significantly more than the typical 4.5 inches for the month.

Maximum average temperature for October was right on target for normal with its 60 degrees, but minimum temperatures were lower than usual – 41 degrees versus 43.3, pulling the mean temperature downward.

Mean temperature registered 51 degrees, whereas a typical mean for October is 52.2.

The fall season’s first freezing temperature in Clatskanie was Oct. 6 with a 30-degree low.


November weather was warmer and wetter than normal.

Markedly higher average temperatures pulled the mean temperature up significantly from the usual November mean of 44 degrees to 46.5.

Average highs and lows were 53 and 40 degrees, elevated from the normal historical averages of 50.5 and 37.6.

November’s only freezing temperatures occurred on two three-day dry stretches, but otherwise rain was recorded each day of the month.

Rainfall totaled 9.48 inches, which was more than the average amount of 8.59 for November.


December delivered heavy rains which brought minor flooding in the area and mudslides.

Rainfall totaled a drenching 13.26 inches and easily surpassed the historical December average of 9.61 inches, but stayed well under the standing record of 18.48 inches set in December 2007.

Average maximum and minimum temperatures were a little higher than usual – 46 and 36 degrees, compared with historical averages of 44.9 and 34.4.

Mean temperature was 41 degrees, slightly higher than the typical mean of 39.7 for Clatskanie.

Had December’s temperatures not been a little milder than usual, there may have been significant accumulations of snow. As it was, there were a couple bouts with snow in the higher elevations which caused school closures and delays.

Snow finally made its way to the valley floor Dec. 31, covering the area with winter whiteness and bringing a visual “fresh start” for 2013.

Precipitation for 2012

Monthly precipitation totals for 2012 are as follows.

January                           8.60

February                         5.27

March                           12.76

April                               4.02

May                                2.88

June                                3.58

July                                  .28

August                             .09

September                        .02

October                          7.72

November                      9.48

December                    13.26

2012 Precipitation 67.96


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