06 March 2013 by Published in: News No comments yet

Little Ballerinas Spring Forward with Daylight Saving Time

DANCING INTO SPRING, participants in Evergreen Dance Studio ballet classes taught by Chris Boothe at the Clatskanie Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, saluted the coming of Daylight Saving Time this Sunday, March 10, by posing with a clock during their class time Tuesday afternoon. Pictured from left are Ana Wehrley, Ky White, Ella Kent, Kelly Ferguson and Bella Ray. Daylight Saving Time officially starts at 2 a.m. Sunday when clocks should be turned forward one hour. Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley

Judge Declares Daniel Butts Currently  Unable to Stand Trial

by Adam J. Wehrley

In a reversal of an earlier ruling, Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove has found accused murderer Daniel Butts unable to aid and assist in his own defense following a three-day mental competency hearing on Feb. 20, 21 and 22.

Butts, 23, is accused of the Jan. 5, 2011 aggravated murder of Rainier City Police Chief Ralph Painter, and the attempted murder of Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover during the gun battle that ensued when Hoover, and officers from several law enforcement agencies, responded to the report that Painter had been shot.

At the end of that gun battle, Butts, who received a non-life-threatening bullet wound, was taken into custody. He has been held at the Columbia County Jail with several stays at the Oregon State Hospital (OSH) for mental evaluations.

For a short time after his arrest, Butts was cooperative and communicated with jail personnel, according to court documents, but his behavior has become disruptive and uncommunicative during the past two years.

In a February 2012 ruling, Judge Grove surmised that Butts was “gaming the system” and described his behavior as “calculated.”

As a result of the recent competency hearing, Judge Grove has ordered Butts to be transferred to OSH for treatment until his capacity to stand trial is regained. OSH will report back to the court after 90 days to address the possibility that Butts will be able to stand trial in the foreseeable future.

If OSH does not determine that he is competent at that time, they are ordered to report on his status every 180 days.

Butts has refused to take prescribed medications, and treatment at OSH may include forcing him to take anti-psychotic medications.

Columbia County district attorney Steve Atchison emphasized that the intent of the treatment is to bring Butts to a point where he can stand trial.

“In the meantime, we just wait,” Atchison said.

March 21 Deadline to File for Numerous Special District Seats

Public-spirited citizens have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, to file for election to dozens of positions on special district boards of directors in Columbia and Clatsop counties.

Positions up for election on the May 21st ballot include:

Port of St. Helens: Positions 4 and 5 (four-year terms). Those seats are currently held by Terry Luttrell and Chris Iverson.

Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District: Zone 2 (two-year term), Zone 3 (four-year term) and Zone 5 (four-year term). Candidates must live in the zones they represent. Zone 2 includes the Rainier to Columbia City area and is currently represented by Connie Budge; Zone 3 is the St. Helens area, currently represented by Henry Heimuller, and Zone 5 is Scappoose and Sauvie Island, currently represented by Rob Anderson.

Clatskanie School District: Positions 3, 4 and 5 (four-year at-large terms) currently held by Michael Moravec, John Moore and Erick Holsey, respectively.

Rainier School District: Zone 1 (four-year term) North and South Delena,  except sections 12, 13 and 24 that are south of Highway 30, currently held by Bill Scholten; Zone 2 (four-year term) Rainier 1, Rainier 2, West Rainier, East Rainier and that portion exempted from Zone 1, currently held by Bob Wimmer; Zone 5 (four-year term) Apiary, currently held by Chad Womack, and Zone 7 (four-year term) at-large, currently held by Dale Archibald.

Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District: (four-year at-large terms), Positions 1, 2 and 3, currently held by Malcolm Groulx, Bill Mellinger and Dave Scott, respectively.

Columbia River Fire and Rescue: Position 2 (two-year term) and Positions 4 and 5, (four-year terms) at-large positions covering the area from Delena through Warren including Rainier and St. Helens, currently held by Kim Walker, Diane Dillard and Pete Koss, respectively.

Clatskanie Library District: Positions 1 and 2 (four-year terms, at large), currently held by Linda Constans and Janice Youra, respectively.

Clatskanie Park and Recreation District: Positions 1, 4 and 5 (four-year terms, at large), currently held by Ryan Tompkins, Bob Emminger and Bruce Holsey.

Rainier Cemetery District: Positions 2 and 3 (four-year terms) currently held by Tomey Greer and Melvin “Dearl” Taylor, respectively.

How to File

Those filing for election to special district seats must file a declaration of candidacy accompanied by a $10 fee or a petition for nomination signed by at least 25 registered voters residing in the election district with the Columbia County elections department no later than 5 p.m. on March 21.

Filing forms are available online at the Secretary of State Elections Division http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/publications/district.html. The forms are also available in the Columbia County Elections Department in the county courthouse, 230 Strand Street in St. Helens.

Numerous Clatsop County Seats Also Up for Election

Numerous special district seats are also up for election in Clatsop County including the Port of Astoria, Clatsop Community College and Sunset Empire Transportation District, as well as  school districts, rural fire districts, water and sewer districts, and other entities.

A complete list of all seats on the May ballot in Clatsop County, the requirements for each office and other information, is available at http://www.co.clatsop.or.us/

Former Mist Resident Arrested in 1982 Murder

Kenneth Lee Hicks, a former Mist resident, currently of St. Helens, was arrested Feb. 27 on two counts of aggravated murder for the 1982 slaying of Lori Billingsley.

The arrest was announced last week by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department (WCSD).

Billingsley’s body was found in a drainage ditch in Aloha on Oct. 10, 1982. Detectives determined that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered. Billingsley was 17 years old at the time. Hicks, now 49, was 19 in 1982.

WCSD detectives initially worked the case for over a year. Hicks was identified as a potential suspect, but there was not enough evidence to charge him with the murder. A comprehensive investigation was completed and the department retained the evidence.

In 1991, detectives submitted evidence from the Billingsley homicide to the Oregon State Police (OSP) crime lab for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis, but no DNA profile was identified.

According to the WCSD, advances in DNA technology now allow testing of small or degraded samples of evidence that were unable to be tested in the 1990s. In 2010, sheriff’s detectives again submitted evidence from the Billingsley homicide to the OSP Crime Lab for DNA analysis. A DNA profile was identified, but did not match any people currently in the DNA database.

The cold case has been under investigation by retired Detective Mike O’Connell, who served with WCSD for 30 years.

Detective O’Connell served a search warrant to seize a sample of Hicks’s DNA which the OSP Crime Lab determined to be a positive match with evidence from the Billingsley homicide.

On Feb. 26, a Washington County grand jury indicted Hicks on two counts of aggravated murder. District Attorney Robert Hermann was assigned to the original case in 1982 and is currently prosecuting the case on behalf of Washington County.

Hicks was arrested in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, and was lodged in the Washington County Jail. He is being held without bail.

Hicks and his family lived in Mist from approximately 2005 to 2008. While there, he worked in the logging industry.

New Clatskanie Public Works Director Begins Duties

by Deborah Steele Hazen

The City of Clatskanie’s new public works director, Ray DiPasquale, began his duties this week.

DiPasquale comes to Clatskanie from Lolo, Mont., but he was originally from the East Coast.

Growing up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Penn., DiPasquale graduated from Penn State in 1984 with an engineering degree.

He spent the first 19 years of his career as a partner in engineering firms in New York and New Jersey, working in the areas of civil and infrastructure engineering and land use planning, primarily in large cities. He has been licensed as an engineer in seven different states.

By 2003, DiPasquale and his wife Tracy Holland, who has degrees in mechanical engineering and wildlife biology, were tired of the big city environment and made the move to Montana.

They settled in Lolo, a small town outside of Missoula, where DiPasquale operated as a consulting engineer.

When he saw the advertisement for the City of Clatskanie public works director position, to replace long-serving Dave True, DiPasquale said it peaked his interested in pursuing a public sector position – “something that I wanted to pursue as a portion of my career that I hadn’t yet accomplished.”

Another big plus for Pasquale and Holland in accepting the position here was Clatskanie’s location.

“We’re outdoors people,” enjoying fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, tennis and other outdoor activities. “It’s the perfect blend – the best of both worlds – on tidal water, not far from the ocean or the mountains.” They have rented a house outside of Clatskanie along the Columbia River.

During his interview process and meeting his co-workers and local citizens this week, DiPasquale also said he was impressed with the stability of the city and the civic-minded attitude of the community.

Rainier City Council Hears 9-1-1 Levy, Transit, Health Care Reports

by Adam J. Wehrley

Informational presentations and a water quality discussion filled most of the agenda for the Rainier city council’s Monday, March 4th meeting and the work session which preceded it.

The council’s one action item was to unanimously approve $2025 towards replanting timberland harvested last year on the city’s Fox Creek watershed property. Planting will be completed by June.

Rainier resident Gloria MacKenzie raised concerns over detrimental effects that changes to ship anchorage procedures may have on the city’s water system’s intake in the river. The Army Corps of Engineers recently placed a stern buoy and ship refueling station near Cottonwood Island across the Columbia River from Rainier. Related changes in ship activity along with increases in noise and light led MacKenzie to address the council.

One cause of concern was her observation that ship personnel had washed decks with water rinsed directly into the river following fueling. Councilor Scott Nelson, who had also noted the changes, and has experience in ship refueling and spill detection and clean-up, stated that he doubted more than a pint of fuel could be spilt without the Coast Guard detecting it.

Public works director Kevin Patching and other public works personnel stated that fuel spills would remain high in the water table and that they are much more concerned about heavy metals in the river in regard to the city’s water quality.

The city monitors and treats water as it is taken into the system and has not detected any changes to pollutants or water turbidity which could be attributed to the new shipping activity.

Councilor James Bradfield reiterated the detectability of spills. Bradfield has been a major proponent of re-establishing the Fox Creek dam as the city’s primary source of drinking water, citing both water quality and financial reasons for repairing the system.

Patching reported that a dam inspection by the state was scheduled for Tuesday, March 5, and would determine the extent of work required to continue repairs.

Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District director Jeanine Dilley addressed the council during its work session. She spoke about the $.29 per $1000 of accessed value property tax levy which is up for renewal on the May 21st ballot. It was last approved in 2008.

Dilley stressed that the operating levy is not a tax increase, but a renewal of the levy which currently helps fund the district. She also handed out fact sheets on the levy and the district’s call volume and funding. She emphasized the need to maintain the funding at its current level and to keep up with updates in communication technology.

9-1-1 district director Connie Budge, of Rainier, asked the city council to consider passing a resolution in support of the levy.

Councilor Judith Taylor moved to pass a resolution supporting the levy. City administrator Debra Dudley stated that she would draft a resolution for the council to consider at the next business meeting. Taylor withdrew her motion in favor of passing one later.

Patricia Ortiz of Oregon’s school-based health care network reported on health care programs for children up to 19 who lack health coverage. She also spoke about plans to provide service to adults through the clinic, which is based at the Rainier school campus, and low-cost programs for adults through the Oregon Health Plan.

Janet Wright and Roy Weedman of the Columbia County Rider (CCR) transit system reported on service reductions the CCR will be instituting as a result of budget cuts, including $89,540 in funding reductions from Columbia County.

Route changes and service reductions will begin on April 1.

During his staff report Patching announced that a Department of State Lands (DSL) mandated habitat mitigation project had been completed as part of the permit requirements for a bulkhead extension project by Foss Maritime in downtown Rainier.

The mitigation project was conducted on land near the mouth of Fox Creek.

Police Chief Gregg Griffith reported that a neighborhood watch program was being instituted and classes would start in early April.

The city hired Rodney Cook to join the public works department on a permanent basis. He has been working as a temporary employee for several months.

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