by Adam J. Wehrley
The Rainier city council voted unanimously at its meeting Monday, April 1, to draft a letter to the Columbia County board of commissioners opposing zoning changes to 957 acres of agricultural lands adjacent to the Port Westward Industrial Park.
The land is owned by the Port of St. Helens and the proposed changes are aimed at zoning the property for industrial use, allowing more economic development that could take advantage of Port Westward’s deep-water dock.
The authorized letter, copies of which are to be sent to State Senator Betsy Johnson and State Representative Brad Witt, will specify that the city’s opposition is based on noise, delay and safety issues related to increased rail traffic through downtown Rainier.
“We need to expand. We need the economic engine, but not at our expense.” Councilor James Bradfield stated. He explained that he supports expansion at Port Westward if commodities are shipped by barge, citing the cost savings compared to shipping by rail or truck. “The solution is major water freight, water freight is cheap” he emphasized.
“We’re more interested in shipping by barge.” agreed Councilor Scott Cooper.
Councilor Steve Massey, who proposed the letter opposing the rezoning, objected to proposals to improve the rail line through Rainier to accommodate faster train, “It’s horrifying to think of trains going at 35 miles per hour through town.”
“I retired here for the livability. I see that slipping away.” Massey added.
A public hearing before the Columbia County planning commission on the rezoning, scheduled for Monday night, April 1, has been postponed until May 6.
As of The Chief’s Tuesday night press time a copy of the letter was not available, but the motion stipulated that the city opposed the expansion of industrial zoning under current transportation plans.
Budget Committee Members Appointed
In preparation for the upcoming budget season, the Rainier City Council appointed three residents to the budget committee. Rainier residents Charlene Andrews and Bill Wagner were each reappointed to the positions they held last year.
Long-time community volunteer Connie Budge was selected from a small pool of applicants to fill a vacant seat. Councilor Judith Taylor cited Budge’s history of involvement in the Rainier community, which includes serving on the Rainier city council and planning commission.
RV Campsite Approved by Planning Commission
City administrator Debra Dudley reported that the city planning commission had unanimously approved the city’s request to place a recreational vehicle (RV) dry campsite on city property adjacent to the city sewer plant. The decision was made at the commission’s March 27th meeting, which included a public hearing.
The camp will have sites for 18 RVs. Water, sewer and electric hook-up are not planned at this time, but a dump site will be available at the sewer plant.
With the campsite approved, the council’s next step will be developing city ordinances needed to manage the program.
Volleyball Courts Approved Pending REDCO Funding
Following a lengthy discussion over funding procedures, the council voted unanimously to place two beach volleyball courts at the city park.
Councilor Scott Cooper has been working with local residents on the project, which has been delayed while supporters searched for suitable sand at an affordable price.
Original estimates for the courts had exceeded $20,000 with specialized sand. A local vendor was found who can provide suitable sand for about $1000, dropping the total cost to under $10,000 including high quality nets, poles and pads.
While all councilors supported the courts in principle, Mayor Jerry Cole and councilors Taylor and Bradfield objected to moving forward on the project until after funding had been acquired through the Rainier Economic Development Council (REDCO).
Since the city councilors also serves as the REDCO board, Cooper and Councilor Sloan Nelson expressed frustration over delaying the project until after the next REDCO meeting when funds could be officially dedicated.
Cooper’s first motion to start the project with city funds, with the expectation of REDCO paying for a large portion of the project, was voted down.
The second motion, to support the project pending the availability of REDCO funds passed unanimously.
Car Show Scheduled
A classic car show hosted by the Columbia County Women’s Resource Center (CCWRC) will be held Sunday, July 28. The council granted permission for the event to close off a portion of A Street for the day of the show.
Last year marked the first time CCWRC hosted the car show, which they hope will become an annual event.
Councilor Nelson abstained from voting, due to his involvement in helping organize the show.
Service Day Planned
Rainier resident Al Guist, representing the Latter Day Saints (LDS) church, requested permission to hold a community service day on Sept 14. Based on similar events in the region, Guist expected between 250 and 300 church members to participate.
He suggested projects such as painting curbs, cleaning Fox Creek and helping the elderly with property clean up.
Guist is also coordinating clean up projects at the Rainier High School and Dibblee Beach. The council enthusiastically granted permission and assigned Dudley and public works director Kevin Patching to work with Guist in organizing projects.
Neighborhood Watch Organizational Meeting Thursday, April 4
Rainier Police Chief Gregg Griffith announced that the department will hold a neighborhood watch organizational meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, at the Rainier Police Department.
Chief Griffith also announced that a prescription drug take back day will be held at the Rainier Senior Center on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Council Tours Waterfront
Prior to the business meeting, the council went on a walking tour of the Rainier waterfront, discussing recent landscaping improvements, security cameras and lighting and plans to install a walk way.
They also viewed the recently completed mitigation project required for permitting of Foss Maritime’s bulkhead expansion.
by Deborah Steele Hazen
The process of hiring a new superintendent/elementary principal and the layoff of current Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) principal Yolanda Brackman were the main topics of a meeting of the Clatskanie School District board of directors Monday, April 1.
Monday’s meeting began with an executive session during which the school board discussed questions to be asked candidates for the superintendent/elementary principal job.
April 9 is the deadline for applications for the position, and a screening committee of board members, representatives of the staff (Jeff Baughman, Ryan Tompkins, Megan Kilgore, Billie Leinonen, Brad Thorud, Beth Gregg) and the community (Stuart Haas, Cyndi Warren, Valerie King, Deborah Hazen) was named to review the applications and select three to five candidates for preliminary interviews. That screening will take place Wednesday, April 10.
The interviews are scheduled for executive sessions on Monday and Tuesday, April 15 and 16. The rest of that week will be devoted to in-depth reference checking and possible site visits to the finalists’ home districts.
The announcement of the new superintendent/elementary principal could come as early as the April 22nd board meeting. However, a special board meeting to negotiate a contract with the finalist and announce the new top administrator for the district is set for April 25.
At its Feb. 25th meeting, the board unanimously adopted the recommendation of interim superintendent George Lanning to restructure the district’s administration by combining the superintendent and elementary principal positions in order to help meet the projected revenue shortfall for next year and beyond with the goal of keeping as many teachers as possible.
That action set the stage for Monday’s unanimous action by the board to layoff Brackman effective with the completion of her 225-day contract plus 23-day extended contract, but no later than June 30.
Prior to the board taking that action, Brackman read the following statement:
“I have worked for this school district for 33 years. During this time I have never received a poor review or evaluation.
“Several years ago when I was teaching in the Title I reading room, and at the top of the teaching pay scale, we were once again looking at needing to cut teachers at the elementary school. In order to save a teacher their job the idea was brought up that I move to the empty administrator position and in that way no one would lose their job.
“I spoke with Mr. Ed Serra, the superintendent at the time. We verbally agreed that if I needed to go back to teaching I could have my same teaching position back.
“Again we are looking at a reduction in force. Three times Mr. Lanning has asked me why I was still working and with the State of Oregon looking at making changes in the PERS program I may want to reconsider my decisions about continuing in the district. The special education director, in a conversation, asked me three separate questions; why don’t I retire? do I need the money? and have I thought about retiring and working in Washington State?
“I am the most senior administrator in the district. At this time I have two years left on my contract. For 33 years I have honored my contracts, as you have expected me to. Now I would expect you to honor the last two years of this contract.”
Brackman left the meeting after she read the statement.
Lanning emphasized that the sole reason for laying-off Brackman was “due to financial restraints.”
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but I believe it’s in the best interest of the children of the district to eliminate one of the administrative positions,” Lanning said. “It’s not an easy decision to make, but I think it’s the right decision.”
At the Feb. 25th meeting, Lanning had explained that because of the number of extracurricular activities at the middle/high school level, he believed a superintendent/elementary principal combination would work better than a superintendent/middle/high school principal. The board adopted that recommendation.
At Monday’s meeting, Lanning further explained that although Brackman has more seniority than any other administrator in the district, Oregon law requires “competency” in making assignments. “Competency” is legally defined as “recency – within the last five years.” Brackman is not considered eligible for the middle/high school principal position because – although she has served in a secondary administrative position in her long and varied career with the Clatskanie School District – it was more than five years ago.
Lanning noted that Brackman does have the right to return to a teaching position in the district and will be offered that opportunity.
The decision to layoff Brackman “has nothing to do with her personally or how well she’s performed,” said board vice chair Michael Moravec. “It’s an unfortunate event of our fiscal situation.”
“We had to make a difficult decision regarding Mrs. Brackman,” said board chair Megan Evenson. “We do appreciate her service to our district.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, Lanning reported on a March 14th meeting between Clatskanie and Rainier administrators, counselors and transportation personnel regarding the sharing of classes between the two districts for the 2013-14 school year.
Lanning expressed his opinion that the meeting was “very productive…The counselors came prepared with forecast numbers and classes requested by students.”
Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) Principal Jeff Baughman explained the decision to go with an eight period day would allow Clatskanie students who travel to Rainier to take classes during the last two periods of the day. Rainier is planning a seven period day with students being able to travel to Clatskanie at the beginning of the day.
The counselors still need to build a master schedule, but cannot do so until they know what their staffing levels will be, Lanning said.
The school board appointed Elisha Shulda to a three-year term on the budget committee, and Valerie King to serve this year. King is running unopposed for position 4 on the school board, now held by John Moore who was appointed to the seat after the resignation of Janet Willey in December.
First meeting of the budget committee is next Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 107 at CMHS.
However, Lanning said, because deputy clerk Janice Essenberg has been called out-of-state because of an illness in her family, a budget proposal will not be available until the second meeting of the budget committee on April 22 at 5:30 p.m.
Among issues that the budget committee will need to study are the many maintenance needs in the district as compiled in a recent facilities survey that was presented to the board at Monday’s meeting.
Calendar Adopted, Policies Revised
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board adopted a calendar for the 2013-14 school year after being assured that the staff had the opportunity to comment on it.
The calendar will see school starting on Sept. 3 and ending on June 12. Winter vacation is set for Dec. 23 through Jan. 5, and spring vacation will be March 24-28.
The board held an official first reading of numerous policies being revised under a contract with the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA).
Evenson read and the board approved a resolution supporting the “Strong Schools, Strong State” campaign to prioritize education in the state budget.
Thirty Clatskanie businesses are participating in the annual Springtime Spectacular local shopping spree sponsored by the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce.
Shoppers at the participating businesses will receive – or should ask for – “SPRING” cards. The cards have 30 boxes, and for each $10 spent, store personnel will mark a box.
When all the boxes are marked, the completed cards may be turned in at the Clatskanie PUD headquarters – at the front desk or in the night deposit box.
The shop locally promotion began March 28 and continues through May 12, with completed cards due by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 13.
Three cards will be drawn for cash prizes of $100, $50 and $30.
Participating businesses are Clatskanie Floral, M&N Workwear, Sporty’s Inc., Discounts & Deals, Cronies, Sterling Bank, Wauna Federal Credit Union, Flowers “n Fluff, Colvin’s Pub & Grill, the City of Clatskanie, Quincy Greenhouse, Fultano’s Pizza, Ixtapa Family Mexican Restaurant, Jim’s Garage, Johnson Family Feed, Hazen Hardware, Clatskanie Builders Supply, NAPA Quality Auto Parts, Clatskanie PUD, Hi-School Pharmacy, Singing Dog Jewelry, The Hair Place, Turning Point Community Services Center, The Quilted Dandelion, Clatskanie River Inn, The Bag Ladies Yarn Shop, RadioShack Clatskanie Market, Subway, Clatskanie Mini Storage and State Farm.
by Ernest A. Carman
The Alley Cats, America’s premier doo-wop group, will perform the finale concert of the Clatskanie Arts Commission’s (CAC) 24th annual performing arts series this Friday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Donavon D. Wooley Performing Arts Center auditorium at Clatskanie Middle/High School, 471 SW BelAir Drive.
With musical talent and comic timing, The Alley Cats are famous for reclaiming the great songs of the 1950s and ‘60s. CAC spokespersons described their shows as refreshing and exciting with spontaneous humor and interaction with audiences.The Alley Cats – Royce, Juan, Mando, and David – bring their own contemporary style to the great songs of a bygone era in American music.
Formed while studying music at Fullerton College, The Alley Cats began their musical journey in 1987 as a featured act in Disneyland’s “Blast to the Past,” a salute to the 1950s. Their long-standing relationship with Disney took them to New York City, where they were featured during the world premiere of Disney’s animated film, Hercules.
Further accomplishments include numerous TV shows, radio jingles, and thousands of live stage performances including being a regular opening act on the Jay Leno show.
Past triumphs include providing entertainment during a USO show on the White House lawn hosted by President Bush, and delighting the troops aboard the U.S.S. Constellation.
The Alley Cats have performed across the country at corporate events, trade shows, major festivals and performing arts centers. They have shared the stage with such notable artists as Chubby Checkers, the Beach Boys, and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
“The Cats’ engaging wit and humor have won over audiences nationally as they relate directly to the crowd with jokes, stories, and audience participation that appeal to young and old alike,” says a spokesperson for the CAC, remembering their last visit to Clatskanie when they opened the commission’s 2007-08 Performing Arts Season.
Tickets, at $15 adults, $12 senior citizens or students and $10 for children 5 and under, are available at Some Like It Hot, 401 W. Columbia River Highway in the Evergreen Shopping Center, or at the door a half hour before the show.
This performance receives partial grant funding from the Western States Arts Federation -WESTAF, the National Endowment for the Arts – NEA, and Dr. Charles Wardle of Eyes on Commerce, in Longview.
For more information about this and other CAC offerings call 503 728-3403 or visit them on the web at www.clatskaniearts.org.