20 February 2013 by Published in: News No comments yet

Sale Closed on Ethanol Plant, Related Facilities at Port Westward

AN AERIAL VIEW of the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery which was sold this week to Global Partners LP. See the story at right for more information. Photo Courtesy of the Port of St. Helens

by Deborah Steele Hazen

The completion of the sale of the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery to Global Partners LP, based in Waltham, Mass., was announced Tuesday, Feb. 19.

A press release from Global stated that the company has completed acquisition of 100 percent of the interests of Cascade Kelly Holdings LLC, including the largest ethanol plant on the West Coast, a rail transloading facility, 200,000 barrels of tank storage capacity, and a deepwater marine terminal with access to a 1,200-foot leased dock, all located along the Columbia River at the Port of St. Helens-owned Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie.

The purchase price, “subject to post-closing adjustments,” was approximately $95 million. The pending sale was announced in late January.

“The purchase of this crude oil and ethanol facility strategically enhances our network of origin and destination assets, and extends Global’s virtual pipeline to the West Coast,” said Eric Slifka, Global’s president and chief executive officer. “Just as we have for East Coast refiners since 2011, Global can now supply cost-competitive crude from the United States and Canadian mid-continent to refiners on the West Coast.”

“The Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery is a great fit for Global Partners and Global Partners is a great fit for Columbia County,” Port of  St. Helens board of commissioners president Robert Keyser told The Chief Tuesday. “From the Port’s perspective, Global Partners resources and proven business model will add value to the world class ethanol plant and bulk liquid export facility.  We congratulate Global Partners on their purchase and look forward to a continued strong working relationship.”

“We would also like to thank JH Kelly for their willingness to invest in the facility to make this deal possible,” Keyser said.

The Port Westward facilities are served by the Portland and Western railroad, which links into the BNSF Railway to Global’s Basin Transload facility in Beulah, N.D., where the company is constructing a 140,000 barrel tank and truck offloading rack to support crude oil production in the Williston Basin.”

Earlier this month, Global completed the acquisition of a 60 percent membership interest in Basin Transload LLC for approximately $85 million. To finance both transactions, Global increased its bank credit facility by $115 million and closed a senior unsecured five-year note of $70 million from funds managed by GSO Capital Partners LP, the credit arm of The Blackstone Group, according to the press release.

Background on Plant

Originally the Cascade Grain Products ethanol plant, Cascade Kelly Holdings, a subsidiary of JH Kelly, purchased the plant and two of the former Portland General Electric-owned tanks at Port Westward, after the original ethanol plant developer 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 2012.

Hire-backs resumed last 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.

Global has expressed confidence in the existing management and workforce of the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery.

About Global Partners

According to the Global press release, “the Cascade Kelly Holdings transaction is expected to be accretive to unit holders in its  first full year of operation, based on current and anticipated future performance as well as economic and market conditions.”

A Fortune 500® company (GLP on the New York Stock Exchange), 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.

CRFPD Continues Tax Levy Preparations

by Adam J. Wehrley

As part of a process that started last fall, members of the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD) board of directors voted unanimously at their Feb. 13th meeting in favor of a resolution placing a five-year local option tax levy on the May 21st ballot.

If approved by voters, the measure would impose a $1.2533 tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value, in addition to the CRFPD’s existing tax rate of  $1.71 per $1,000. Funds raised through the levy would be used to hire additional paramedic/firefighters to serve the district. Last week’s resolution was a required step towards placing the measure on the May ballot.

A political action committee (PAC) supporting the levy campaign has been formed by CRFPD directors in order to establish the necessary legal “firewalls” between district funds and activities, and the political activities supporting the levy. Community members and volunteer firefighters have joined the PAC in support of the campaign.

Oregon election laws forbid district employees from participating in certain forms of political activities in their official capacity, but allow the distribution of informational materials. Elected officials and volunteers are not under similar restraints.

CRFPD Chief Steve Sharek reported that he and CRFPD board president Robert Keyser made a levy presentation to the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce recently.

The PAC met on the evening of Feb. 13 after the CRFPD board meeting.

During the board meeting, CRFPD financial administrator Cyndi Warren requested that the board discuss the upcoming budget season and whether the 2013-14 budget should be written to reflect the passing or failing of the levy.

Director Jim Gibson stated that the budget should reflect a status quo financial situation. Chief Sharek and others stated that draft budgets could be outlined reflecting both possibilities since the budget process is not required to be completed until June 30.

The general consensus was that preparations should be made for either case, with the formal budget process starting after the election results are known.

The directors agreed to table further action on a planned survey of district residents. Initial work on the survey began last fall as part of the tax levy preparation. It was delayed when several directors expressed concern over the length of the survey and the relevance of many questions. At last week’s meeting, Keyser questioned whether the survey still had value to the levy campaign.

Director Bill Mellinger said that the survey did not have value in its current form. Gibson noted that the information could be useful “down the road” to learn how the department might better serve the public.

CRFPD has spent about $500 preparing for the survey, which had a total estimated cost of $5,000.

The board agreed that the district should continue contracting ambulance billing services with Columbia River Fire Rescue (CRF&R) at the rate of about $3,000 per month.

Chief Sharek stated that he was pleased with the arrangement and noted that CRF&R had requested some one-time improvements to Clatskanie’s information technology systems.

He said that longterm agreements were on the agenda for the CRF&R board’s next meeting.

Sharek reported that he had met with leadership at Georgia Pacific’s Wauna Mill to discuss a fire suppression contract.

Mellinger stated the mill personnel were most concerned about continuing ambulance service, which is contracted through a CRFPD agreement with Clatsop County.

Renovations are underway at the CRFPD main station to build additional sleeping quarters for paid staff and volunteers on overnight duty. Division officer Bruce Holsey reported that construction and painting was completed and that doors, trim and lighting needed to be installed.

Longtime volunteer firefighter Ed Franklin commented that changes to staffing arrangements were working well, since division officers had been put on 24-hour shifts. He reported that the district had received three calls over a short period of time and had been able to field medic units to all three. He also credited the changes for an increase in volunteer activity at the station.

Chief Sharek announced that lieutenant testing would begin soon and he hoped to have a candidate by the end of the month.

The board held a closed executive session to discuss labor negotiations.

Division officer Erick Holsey reported that a volunteer academy was “in full swing” and another was being considered for the fall.

Franklin updated the board on fire suppression techniques training he had attended and said that he hoped to bring back what he learned to help the district.

Cougar Preys on Llama in Delena Area

by Adam J. Wehrley

In an apparent day-time cougar attack, a yearling llama was killed and partially devoured at a farm on Paradise Valley Road south of the Delena area, between Clatskanie and Rainier, on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Curt Haas reported that he has raised llamas at his farm for about 18 years and that until last year had seen no signs of cougar predation, although he had seen one of the big cats on his property several years ago.

Last year, two of his llamas disappeared without a trace, and Haas suspected cougars.

Last week’s attack occurred between noon and 4 p.m., when Haas arrived home and found the dead animal.

Haas said that a state wildlife officer examined the kill and agreed that it was most likely a cougar attack, based on the bite marks on its neck.

Haas kept 14 llamas in the paddock where the attack happened and believes the cat dropped from a tree, which is about 50 feet from his home.

Haas thinks he frightened the cat away when he got home at 4 p.m., and the cougar was not able to finish feeding on the carcass.

Llamas are commonly used to guard other livestock from predators, and Haas said that a number of male llamas he has raised are being used for that purpose.

Ferry Closure in Westport to Begin Monday

The Wahkiakum Ferry which runs between Westport and Puget Island is scheduled to close for maintenance work on the ferry, beginning Monday, Feb. 25.

The last scheduled run will be from Westport to Puget Island, leaving Westport at 7:15 a.m. Monday morning. The closure is expected to last about a week.

Clatskanie School Board Meets Twice

Interviewing of consulting firms to assist in the selection of a new superintendent was the topic of a special meeting of the Clatskanie School District board of directors set for Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m., in room 107 at Clatskanie Middle/High School.

The school board’s regular monthly meeting is scheduled Monday, Feb. 25, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the same location.

Agenda items for the Feb. 25th meeting include a resolution declaring March 4-8 as Classified Employee Appreciation Week; celebrating student and staff successes; a student body leadership report; a presentation on Portland General Electric’s strategic investment program funding by Port of St. Helens commission president Robert Keyser, and audience comments.

New business will include board policy regarding the lay-off of licensed administrators and a discussion about administrative restructuring based on a projected revenue shortfall. Also under new business is the adoption of a calendar for the superintendent search, the status of the Clatskanie/Rainier sharing program with a discussion of potential shared classes and a seven versus eight period day; a draft 2013-14 school calendar, and a proposal from the Oregon School Boards Association to rewrite board policies.

Consideration of licensed personnel status is on the agenda following a closed executive session called under the subjects of employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent, labor negotions, and to consider information or records exempt from public inspection.

Refuge Columbia River Whitetails Transferred to Ridgefield

GENTLY SUBDUING a Columbia River whitetail deer before placing it in a crate for transfer to a new habitat are personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and volunteers. See the accompanying story for more details. Photo Courtesy of Duane Bernard

by Adam J. Wehrley

Columbia River whitetail deer are being rounded up and transported from the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge west of Cathlamet to the Ridgefield, Wash. area in order to relieve pressure on habitat that is at risk of flooding from eminent dike failure.

Personnel from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and area volunteers have participated in a series of captures over the last several weeks, which have resulted in the successful transport of 14 deer to Ridgefield.

USFWS spokesperson Doug Zimmer reported that the agency hopes to transfer 50 whitetails to their new home, which is in the species’ historic range, before mid-April. Later in the spring the stress of transportation becomes dangerous for does and their unborn fawns.

In 2011 refuge personnel discovered that erosion was rapidly eating away at the dike which protects the mainland portion of the refuge and concluded that a failure of the dike was eminent. Zimmer reported that floods have historically hampered efforts to increase whitetail populations along the lower Columbia. He emphasized that Columbia River whitetails are a separate species from eastern varieties. They are listed as endangered by both federal and state agencies.

In the future, the agency hopes to build a levee inland from the current dike and use approximately 100 acres between the two for juvenile salmon habitat. Deer transportation efforts are progressing at what Zimmer described as an unprecedented rate to relieve habitat pressure in case of flooding.

Captures involve suspending nets from poles using electromagnets and baiting the area under the nets with pears and apples. When deer come to feed, the nets are dropped and staff and volunteers work as quickly and quietly as possible to restrain them and place them in crates.

While the animals are down they are given vitamin shots and biological samples are taken. Zimmer stated that so far the deer captured have represented a good mix of age and gender.

Plans are also in the works to transfer 15 deer on Puget Island and transfer them to Cottonwood Island near the mouth of the Cowlitz River. This transfer is to reduce conflicts with landowners and to improve the genetic diversity on Cottonwood Island.

All transferred deer receive ear tags and radio collars, and will be monitored to ensure they remain within their new refuges.

Rainier Council Accepts Street Grant

by Adam J. Wehrley

In a brief meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19, the Rainier City Council approved a $50,000 small city allowance (SCA) grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to resurface city streets which access Highway 30.

Acoya Windsor-Moran, associated student body secretary at Rainier Junior/ Senior High School (RJSHS) gave an update to the council about activities at the school as part of an effort to increase cooperation and communication between the city and the school.

Mayor Jerry Cole met with the RJSHS leadership class to brainstorm ways to work together. It was agreed that representatives from the student body would attend city council meetings monthly.

Public works director Kevin Patching reported that Rainier resident Dan Jacobson has been working to clean up and landscape around the transient boat tie up. Patching said he was pleased with the work and had offered assistance in the effort.

Patching continues to work with the council and city staff on plans to establish a recreational vehicle (RV) camp near the city marina. The council discussed possible impacts an RV camp would have on boat trailer parking during peak fishing seasons, along with the potential benefits and revenue from the camp. Collection of fees for the camp and for boat launching were also considered.

During his staff report, Patching stated that a new public works employee was being hired, but that he was unable to announce the hire until all candidates had been notified.

Prior to the council meeting, the Rainier Economic Development Council (REDCO) met to discuss upcoming training on defining the limits and scope of REDCO’s work.

City administrator Debra Dudley reported that she was reviewing past contractual work done for REDCO which may involve over-payment.




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