30 January 2013 by Published in: News No comments yet

New DSL Director Tours NW Oregon

ISSUES, CONCERNS AND IDEAS related to Dibblee Beach in west Rainier were the topic of conversation last Thursday, Jan. 24, during one of numerous stops made by new Department of State Lands (DSL) director Mary Abrams (left), on a two-day tour of Tillamook, Clatsop and Columbia counties arranged by State Senator Betsy Johnson, (third from left facing camera). Also identifiable in the picture are State Representative Brad Witt, second from left; Rainier City Councilor Judith Taylor, and Friends of Dibblee Beach president Dearl Taylor.

Taylor told the group of local, county and state officials on the tour about the hopes of bringing Dibblee Beach, a popular fishing and recreational area, into the Columbia County parks system to address problems with illegal dumping, provide security, restrooms, etc. Abrams said the DSL staff, which has authority over a portion of the property, would consider proposals brought to them.

Other issues featured on the two-day tour, which began in Tillamook County on Wednesday, Jan. 23, included port, industrial and aricultural issues throughout Tillamook, Clatsop and Columbia counties, dredging, dikes and levees, previous problems with permits and waterway leases, etc.

In the Clatskanie area, the group also met with Port of St. Helens commissioners and staff at Port Westward, and with City of Clatskanie and Lower Columbia River Watershed Council representatives at the Clatskanie People’s Utility District meeting room.

Besides Dibblee Beach, the group stopped at Foss Maritime in downtown Rainier, before traveling on to St. Helens, to discuss various issues in the south Columbia County area. The tour ended with a meeting at the Linnton Community Center where Sauvie Island and Linnton waterfront concerns were discussed.  Chief Photo by Deborah Steele Hazen

Global Partners to Buy Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery 

by Deborah Steele Hazen

An agreement to purchase the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery ethanol plant and other assets of Cascade Kelly Holdings LLC at the Port Westward Industrial Park near Clatskanie was announced Monday by Global Partners LP (NYSE: GLP).

In a news release issued from its Waltham, Mass. headquarters, Global announced that it had signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of Cascade Kelley’s holdings at Port Westward for approximately $95 million.

The transaction includes a rail transloading facility, 200,000 barrels of tank storage capacity, access to the Port of St. Helens’ dock, and “the largest ethanol plant on the West Coast.”

The Port Westward facilties are located on land leased under a long-term  agreement with the Port of St. Helens, which owns Port Westward, once the U.S. Army’s Beaver ammunition depot.

The press release from Global noted that in November 2012, the facility began transloading unit trains of light “sweet” crude (unrefined) oil from the Bakken oil field of North Dakota.

“This transaction capitalizes on our advantaged logistics and enables Global to supply cost-competitive crude and ethanol to refiners and customers on the West Coast,” said Eric Slifka, Global’s president and chief executive officer. “From our origination hub in the Bakken region of North Dakota, we will now have destination assets on both coasts.The Oregon site is linked via BNSF (into which the Portland & Western short line railroad that runs through Columbia and Clatsop counties connects) to the Basin Transload facility in Beulah, North Dakota while our Albany, N.Y. terminal is connected via single line haul on Canadian Pacific to the Basin Transload location in Columbus, North Dakota.  This facility also creates a link between the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin and Pacific refiners. With the pending closing of our Basin Transload acquisition this quarter, these new assets increase our capability to transport crude from the U.S. and Canadian mid-continent and extend our virtual pipeline to the West.”

“Because certain regions of the West Coast energy market have limited pipeline access, the dynamics of sourcing and logistics for PADD V refiners and customers are comparable to those we see in the Northeast,” Slifka said. “As we have demonstrated to those customers, we believe that we can apply our rail and marine expertise to meet the demand for crude and ethanol on the West Coast. Given the 3.3 million barrels a day of crude refining capacity in PADD V, this facility represents an opportunity for Global to drive additional product volumes and enhance margins.”

PADD is an acronym for Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts, which were created during World War II. The West Coast region is the fifth of the five districts, thus it is known as PADD V.

According to the press release, Global’s purchase of Cascade Kelly Holdings is subject to customary regulatory approvals and various other customary commercial closing conditions. The purchase is expected to be completed by the end of the current quarter.

Cascade Kelly acquired what was originally the Cascade Grain Products ethanol plant, and two of the former Portland General Electric-owned tanks at Port Westward, after the original developer of the plant went into bankruptcy in early 2009, after only about six months of operation.

Cascade Kelly invested millions in the facility to upgrade it. In the late summer of 2011, the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery began hiring back workers in hopes of restarting the ethanol plant, but continued poor market conditions caused a reduction of about two-thirds of the plant’s 72 employees in May of last year.

Hire-backs resumed in September, and in November Cascade Kelly announced that it had diversified its operation to transload “light sweet crude” oil transported to the site by train.

Confidence Expressed in Local Management

Port of St. Helens commission chair Robert Keyser told The Chief Tuesday that Global officials had expressed their confidence in the local management and workforce, as well as Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery’s philosophy on ethanol production and ethanol byproducts.

In regard to the transloading of oil at Port Westward, Keyser said the Port had been assured that there is an adequate safety response plan in place, approved by the Coast Guard, to protect the environment.

The shipments made so far “have gone just fine,” Keyser noted. “I’m excited to see the ethanol plant find a strategy that will make it viable over long-term.”

Global’s plans to transload oil and ethanol at the Port Westward dock would not  interfere with the proposed Ambre Energy Morrow Pacific coal transloading project, nor the proposed Kinder Morgan coal export facility at Port Westward, Keyser said.

A Fortune 500® company, Global Partners LP owns, controls or has access to one of the largest terminal networks of refined petroleum products and renewable fuels in the Northeastern United States, and is a leader in the logistics of transporting crude and other products.

Global is one of the largest wholesale distributors of gasoline (including blendstocks such as ethanol and naphtha), distillates (such as home heating oil, diesel and kerosene), residual oil and renewable fuels to wholesalers, retailers and commercial customers in the New England states and New York. Additionally, the company owns approximately 1,000 gas stations in nine Northeastern states.

More information is available on the website at www.globalp.com.

Clatskanie School Board Vacancies Filled; Interim Superintendent Hired

by Deborah Steele Hazen

John Moore and Erick Holsey were appointed to vacancies on the Clatskanie School District board of directors after an interview session with the three sitting board members Monday, Jan. 28.

Additionally at Monday’s meeting, the board hired George D. Lanning to serve as interim superintendent of the district for the remainder of the school year, in the wake of the recent resignation of superintendent Mary Mitchell, who announced in mid-December that she was accepting a position as special education director in the St. Helens School District.

A former teacher and a longtime administrator with the Amity School District, Lanning also served as executive director of the Oregon Small Schools Association, and as an adjunct professor for teacher professional development at Western Oregon University. Since his retirement he has served as an interim superintendent, most recently for the Warrenton-Hammond School District.

Lanning also retired as a colonel from the Oregon Army National Guard in 2006 after almost 35 years of service to the state and nation. He is a much decorated veteran with overseas duty in Kosovo and Kuwait.

Lanning will be paid $8,000 per month for the period of Feb. 1 through June 30, plus a total of $1,851.53 for health insurance, and $390 per month for a recreational vehicle space rental. He will stay locally throughout the work week, and on weekends when necessary, he told the board. He and his wife reside in Salem.

Besides the day-to-day oversight of the district, Lanning will be helping to guide the school board through the process of hiring a permanent superintendent.

In a written statement, Lanning said his goals for his five months at the helm of the Clatskanie School District are:

• To develop a positive school environment by focusing on and celebrating student and staff success in the community.

• To work in a collaborative process with various factions within the community and build consensus focusing on helping all students develop to their fullest potential academically, socially, emotionally, and physically.

• To provide district-wide leadership in conducting daily operations utilizing a collaborative team approach.  This includes effective delegation of duties to utilize the talents and expertise of all staff; whereas, the responsibility for success or failure shall rest with the superintendent.

• To work with the board on clarifying appropriate roles and responsibilities of the superintendent and board.

• To assist the board in negotiating both a licensed and classified contract.

• To conduct an analysis of the district’s financial condition and identify a variety of strategies to eliminate any funding gap while protecting classroom funding to the maximum extent possible.  This includes both the current fiscal year and developing the 2013-2014 budget document to reflect community values.

• To work collaboratively with the administrative team, staff, parents and students in meeting Oregon’s Educational Standards.

• To work with the board in consultation with the administrative team, licensed union representative and teachers to meet the evaluation guidelines required by ORS 342.850 and SB 290.

• To assist the board in setting annual targets of student achievement that will lead to 100 percent graduation from high school by the year 2025. This requires reviewing the 2012 achievement compacts, student performance data, incorporating public comments and building on the recommendations of the achievement compact advisory committees in the district.

• To work in collaboration with the Rainier and Clatskanie school boards, high school administration and staff to address shared curriculum programs.

• To work with the board, as they deem appropriate, in the recruiting, selection, hiring and transition of the permanent superintendent of Clatskanie School District.

Board Candidates Questioned, Budget Vacancies and More

After a question and answer session with the board, Moore, the manager of the Clatskanie branch of Sterling Bank, and Holsey, a Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District captain, were appointed to fill positions 4 and 5, respectively which were recently vacated by the resignations of Janet Willey and Karen George.

Hillary Johnson, a former teacher in the district, also interviewed for one of the appointments.

Moore and Holsey were appointed to serve the remainder of Willey’s and George’s terms which expire on June 30. They, as well as other possible candidates, may choose to run for election to full four-year terms in the May election.

In honor of “School Board Recognition Month,” members of the middle school leadership group presented the board with balloons and treats, while the high school leadership group gave them cookies.

It was noted that there are three vacancies on the budget committee, and interested persons are asked to contact district secretary Beth Gregg at 503 728-0587 ext. 2003, or contact any board member. (See the legal notice on page 8.)

Deputy Clerk Janice Essenberg reported that a new, “more positive” template to calculate school funding for 2013-14 had been issued. Rather than the $300,000 deficit feared earlier, it now appears that the “worst case deficit” for the district for the 2013-14 budget would be about $168,000, and under the “best case – we’d practically break even.”

Essenberg cautioned, however, that because of declining enrollment, the district could be facing a greater shortage in 2014-15.

After hearing a report from Northwest Regional Education Service District Superintendent James Sager, who has been acting as the district’s superintendent since Jan. 7, the board approved the ESD local service contract for the coming year.

Under the consent agenda, the board accepted the resignation of teacher Cory Trotter.

Library Report

Sager and Rex Nicholas, head of district maintenance, reported on progress of repairs to the Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) library which was damaged by a series of ruptured coils carrying hot water for the building’s heating system. The library was discovered flooded with 200-degree steam and water on the morning of Jan. 7, in the midst of freezing weather.

Nicholas explained that he is still investigating why the back-up systems failed. “We’re looking to not only correct that, but to get some kind of warning before something like that happens again.”

Sager and Nicholas have been working with insurance adjustors to cover the estimated almost half million dollars worth of damage to the library and its contents, including furniture, books and computers, and believe that all of the damage will be covered.

Sager and the board thanked Nicholas, CES Principal Yolanda Brackman and the entire staff, especially librarian Connie Sims and retired Rainier school librarian Beki Fisher, who has been volunteering to assist in the recovery effort.

Sager explained that dehumidifiers “sucked a lot of the moisture out” of the books that absorbed steam, but Sims and a group of volunteers will go through them one by one to determine which ones need to be replaced.

Unemployment Rates Show Little Change

Columbia County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.0 percent in December, varying only slightly from the previous month’s 9.1 percent, but lower than the year before at 9.6 percent.

The rate was higher than the 8.4 percent statewide rate and the 7.8 percent national rate.

Total employment fell by 201 to 22,199 and the number of unemployed people jumped by 37 to 2,189. Total employment this December was 308 less than one year before and there were 192 fewer people unemployed this year, yielding a total drop in the labor force of 500.

Estimates of labor force and unemployment provided by the Oregon Employment Department are based on a survey of households and businesses.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment rose by 10 jobs in December to 9,740. Seasonally adjusted figures compare expected changes with actual changes.

A loss of 70 jobs is normal for the month, and the county’s payroll employment dropped by 60. The private sector shed all 60 jobs and government employment was unchanged. Trade, transportation and utilities added 20 jobs and professional and business services, which includes temporary help agencies, trimmed 40.

Total nonfarm employment in December was up 80 jobs from one year before. Private sector employment increased by 70 and governments added 10 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 at 7.4 Percent

Clatsop County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in December, nearly the same as the previous month’s 7.5 percent and lower than the year before at 7.8 percent.

It was lower than the statewide rate of 8.4 percent and close to the 7.8 percent national rate.

Total employment in the county decreased by 391 from the previous month to 18,626. The estimated number of unemployed people rose by 59 to 1,600. The number of unemployed this December was 109 fewer than one year before and 617 fewer people were employed, yielding a total drop in the labor force of 726.

Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment fell by 60 in December to 16,730. Seasonally adjusted figures compare expected changes with actual changes. A loss of 140 jobs is normal for the month, and the county shed 200. The private sector lost 130 jobs and government employment dropped by 70.

Food manufacturing cut 80 jobs and leisure and hospitality shed 180. Transportation, warehousing and utilities added 100 jobs. Local governments, including education, dropped 70 jobs.

December’s total nonfarm payroll employment was 120 less than its level last year.

Clatskanie PUD Directors Vote for Health Insurance, Increased Per Diem

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Three Clatskanie People’s Utility District (CPUD) board of directors took the oath of office at the first board meeting of 2013 on Jan. 23.

Also at the meeting, the board voted 4-1 to give themselves health insurance benefits, and 3-2 to raise their per diem allowance.

Directors Merle Gillespie, Bob Wiggins and Steve Petersen took the oath of office at the beginning of the meeting. All three ran unopposed in the November 2012 general election.

Gillespie is beginning his sixth four-year term as director of subdivision 2. Wiggins and Petersen both were appointed to the CPUD board in 2007 to fill vacancies due to the recalls of directors. Wiggins is beginning his fourth term as director of subdivision 1 and Petersen is beginning his fourth term as director of subdivision 5.

Immediately following the swearing-in, the board of directors selected new officers with Don Hooper succeeding Gillespie as president, Wiggins selected vice president, Janet Willey, secretary, and Gillespie, treasurer.

The board voted to extend health insurance coverage to board members at a cost of $577.45 per director which is equal to the base amount provided for employees. The coverage is for the board members only, not their spouses or other family members. It becomes effective Feb. 1.

The board members may take the insurance benefit in the form of a pre-tax medical savings account or for a supplemental health insurance policy.

Gillespie voted against the motion made by Petersen and seconded by Willey, and said he would not accept the benefit.

On a motion by Wiggins, seconded by Petersen, the board voted to raise its per diem compensation from the current $125 per day when board members are on CPUD business outside of the district to $160. Hooper joined Wiggins and Petersen in voting for the increase, while Willey and Gillespie voted no.

Prior to the vote on the health insurance and per diem compensation, CPUD general manager Greg Booth noted the district “tends to be at the bottom end of the scale on the board stipend, and toward the bottom of the scale on the per diem.” All other Oregon PUDs offer health insurance coverage to their  board members and some also to families of directors.

There was no motion to raise the directors’ current monthly stipend of $350.

Wauna Mill Outage

Booth reported on the over two-hour power outage at the Georgia-Pacific Wauna Mill on Jan. 11 caused by a transformer failure. “It shouldn’t have happened,” Booth said. “The protection scheme did not work.”

CPUD is consulting with an engineering firm to make sure the protection of the system that provides service to the mill – by far CPUD’s largest customer – is appropriate.

“We’re going to give it a thorough evaluation and make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Don Smith, director of operations and engineering.

PUD Directors Take Oath of Office

TAKING THE OATH OF OFFICE as members of the Clatskanie People’s Utility District  (CPUD) board of directors at the Jan. 23 meeting were, from left Steve Petersen, Merle Gillespie and Bob Wiggins, who were all re-elected in the November general election. CPUD communications/executive coordinator, Becky Rakoz performed the swearing-in ceremony. See the related story for more information. Chief Photo by Deborah Steele Hazen



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