BOOKS HAVE RETURNED to the Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) library three months after an eruption of steam and water from a burst pipe flooded the library on Jan. 14 and caused extensive steam damage to the carpets, bookcases, wallboard, computers and the 11,000-volume book collection.
Librarian Connie Sims (third from right) coordinated volunteers assessing each book, page-by-page for water damage, Monday morning, April 29. Sims explained that any questionable books would be set aside for closer examination. Decisions on the replacement of books will be made after the examination is complete. Sims commented that the district’s insurance company has been “super cooperative,” through the restoration.
She said students were anxious for the library to reopen and she hoped that it would be back in service by the end of this week.
Re-shelving had waited for the replacement of bookcases. Clatskanie School District Superintendent George Lanning signed off on the library restoration Friday, April 27, and books and library furniture were returned to the rehabilitated room. Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley
Ballots for the May 21st special district election will be mailed out beginning Friday, May 3, and are due back Tuesday, May 21.
In addition to numerous special district board seats – most of which have only one candidate – the Columbia County ballot features a renewal of the Columbia Communications 9-1-1 District five-year operating levy, and a five-year local option levy for the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District.
There is a race for Port of St. Helens position 4 between incumbent Terry Luttrell of St. Helens, and Michael Clarke of Scappoose. Incumbent Port commissioner Chris Iverson is unopposed for his position 5 seat.
Voters will also be asked to make a decision for position 1 on the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD) board of directors. John Moore and Greg Brody are both seeking the seat being vacated by Malcolm Groulx. (See the candidates’ profiles on page 5). CRFPD board members William Mellinger, position 2, and David Scott, position 3, are unopposed for re-election.
Clatsop County voters will see on their ballot contests for seats on the Port of Astoria, Clatsop Community College and Sunset Empire Transportation District, as well as school districts, fire districts and water and sewer service districts, as well as operating levies, including one for the Knappa-Svensen-Burnside fire district.
Columbia 9-1-1 Operating Fund Renewal
If approved by voters, the proposed 9-1-1 operating levy rate would be the same rate as it is currently – 29 cents, which is two cents less than the 9-1-1 operating levy approved by voters in 1998.
The proposed renewal would continue the 29 cent rate for the next five years, totaling 15 years with no rate change: the same rate as approved in 2008, 2003 and at a slightly reduced rate from that approved in 1998.
For a home assessed at $200,000, that is $58 per year. The 9-1-1 district also collects a permanent rate of 25.54 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning that the total cost of the renewed operating levy plus the permanent rate on a home assessed at $200,000 would be $109.08
Kathy Denckla, a Vernonia area resident and president of the board for Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District, pointed out, “This is simply a renewal of the operating funding. We are not requesting new taxes. The renewal of the funding will maintain this essential and reliable service to everyone in Columbia County. The district has been efficient while improving services, and continues to seek alternative funding for needed technical system improvements. As a result, the rate will continue to stay the same, which is slightly less than the amount voters approved in 1998.”
The 9-1-1 district has accomplished its goal to improve essential equipment while at the same time increasing reliability and service, according to the board. The number of calls to the district have continued at about 220 per day.
Construction of the county-wide communications system is complete and is now being used to enhance the efficiency of first responders. “District 9-1-1 dispatchers handled more than 80,000 phone calls last year,” reported district executive director, Jeanine Dilley. “We successfully connect 16 different emergency service agencies with people who need their help. 9-1-1 is a vital link for the safety and livability of our communities.”
The Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District operating fund supports all ongoing functions of the 9-1-1 call center, including 24-hour staffing, training and coordination with local and state emergency operations. The five-year renewal will maintain the level of service citizens throughout Columbia County now receive.
For more information on the operating fund renewal or the Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District, interested persons may contact Dilley at 503 397-7255, ext. 2223, firstname.lastname@example.org, go to www.columbia911.com, or contact members of the Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District board of directors.
CRFPD Levy on Ballot
Also on the ballot voters will receive in the mail later this week is a five-year local option levy for the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD).
Measure 5-233 asks voters to approve a levy of $1.2533 per $1,000 of assessed property value in addition to the CRFPD’s base rate of $1.71 per $1,000.
The proposed five year local option levy would provide funding for four fulltime firefighter paramedics – almost doubling the amount of paid staff the district has now, plus funding for the purchase of needed replacement equipment and fire hoses, as well as for maintenance of the district’s buildings and property.
The ballot title filed with the Columbia County Clerk’s office states that “the permanent tax rate alone is inadequate to properly ensure fire and ambulance services. Our community continues to have increasing demand for emergency fire and medical response. Combining the permanent tax rate with a five-year levy will allow the district to provide staffing and equipment to ensure we can respond to the increasing number of calls for service.”
If approved, the levy would begin in the 2013-14 fiscal year. If approved, the CRFPD levy will cost property tax payers an additional $1.2533 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Using the same $200,000 property as the 9-1-1 district for an example, that will cost an additional $250 per year.
That is on top of the CRFPD’s existing tax rate of $1.71 per $1,000, about $342 on a $200,000 property.
However, because of “compression” – the fact that most properties within the city limits of Clatskanie are already paying the maximum of $15 per $1,000 of assessed valuation – many in-city properties will not see a significant increase in their property tax bills if the levy passes.
The proposed CRFPD local option levy would raise approximately $536,629 in 2013-14, $551,834 in 2014-15, $567,469 in 2015-16, $583,548 in 2016-17, and $600,082 in 2017-18.
Registration and Drop-off
Those who need to update their registration have until 8 p.m. on election day to do so. People can register online with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office at www.sos.state.or.us/elections, or go to their county elections departments.
Ballots may be returned by mail or at the usual drop-off sites, including the Clatskanie Library, Rainier Library and Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District main station.
by Deborah Steele Hazen
After a day full of meetings with staff and the public on April 24, and a final interview that evening with the school board, Lloyd Hartley, currently superintendent/principal of the Glendale School District, was offered and accepted the position of Clatskanie School District superintendent/elementary school principal.
Hartley signed a three-year contract with a salary of $110,000 per year.
The other finalist for the job to succeed Mary Mitchell, who resigned in December to accept a special education director post with the St. Helens school district, was Craig Downs, currently superintendent of the Chimicum School District on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
Hartley who has served as superintendent/principal of the approximately 400-student Glendale School District in Douglas County for the past nine years, holds a doctorate in education from Lewis and Clark University. He began his college career at Southern Oregon University where he received a bachelor of science degree in business administration as well as his teaching license and master’s degree. He earned his administrative credentials at the University of Oregon.
Hartley taught at Sacred Heart Elementary School from 1995 to 1997, and at the high school level in Elkton from 1998 to 2002, before serving as superintendent of the Long Creek School District in Eastern Oregon from 2002-04. From there he went to Glendale, where he has served in a combined superintendent/principal position for the past nine years – most of it as a superintendent/elementary principal.
Earlier this year, at the recommendation of interim superintendent George Lanning, and as a cost-saving measure, the Clatskanie School District made the decision to combine the superintendent and elementary principal positions.
Hartley and his wife Sandy have two sons – Stephen, who will be a fourth grader at Clatskanie Elementary School next year, and Michael, who will be starting kindergarten at CES.
“I am filled with excitement, energy and anticipation of beginning my new journey in Clatskanie,” Hartley wrote in an e-mail interview with The Chief this week.
“The welcome I have received from the first day of interviews has been warm and inviting. It is clear that the community and staff care deeply about the school district as a whole, and especially the students. I am also thankful for the assistance people have offered in making my family’s transition as smooth as possible.
“I am looking forward to being involved in the community, and building on the district’s attention toward academics and the development of leadership skills of all through professional development, classroom experiences, and extra-curricular activities.
“I am looking forward to being a part of this community, sending my kids to school in Clatskanie, and developing relationships. I am fortunate to be inheriting a strong district, with a staff/community that has a shared passion for student success.
“I will be coming to Clatskanie before this school year is over to learn more about the school system, meet people and look for housing with my family. I plan on being on the job in the middle of July,
prepared for the challenges of creating a sustainable model for the superintendent/principal combination, and providing a focused vision of student excellence in academics and leadership development.”
School Board Meets Monday
The Clatskanie school board is scheduled to meet Monday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 107 at Clatskanie Middle/High School.
Agenda items will include a curriculum presentation by Lanning with an overview of the new priority, focus and model school ratings and achivement compacts for the Clatskanie School District by Art Anderson of the Northwest Regional Education Service District.
Various staff members will report on different aspects of what the school district is doing to improve instruction and increase student proficiency.
The administration will also be presenting a retirement incentive proposal for licensed personnel.
The board will be conducting first readings of numerous policies which are being revised and updated.
by Adam J. Wehrley
Rainier School District (RSD) Superintendent Michael Carter presented a $9,023,682 proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year on Tuesday, April 30, at a meeting of the RSD budget committee.
“The projected total general fund revenue is $415,000 short of funding the projected expenditures. Reductions made to balance the budget are reflected in this proposed budget. Since 2013-2014 is the first year of the biennium and very little, if any, increase can be counted upon for this coming year, reductions that are sustainable must be achieved.” stated Carter’s budget message.
In order to balance the budget Carter proposed RSD consolidate the superintendent and high school principal positions for a savings of over $135,000.
“This is a major change to our administrative structure… With the reduction of one full-time administrator, the other administrators will need to change roles and take on added responsibilities,” Carter stated.
The student service director will also head up human resources.
The Hudson Park Elementary (HPE) principal will become an assistant superintendent absorbing curriculum responsibilities, as well as maintaining the elementary principal position.
Additionally, only two of the three retiring teachers at HPE will be replaced next year, resulting in a reduction of force.
The budget includes cutting two days from the school year.
A large contributing factor to the shortfalls was the loss of 66 RSD students over the previous year, resulting in cuts to RSD’s state funding.
Business manager Lil Guisinger said “If we hadn’t lost any students we’d have had $400,000 more.”
Carter explained the enrollment drop saying, “That’s the economy, people have moved out.” He added, “How do you budget for that? You can’t.”
School funding is distributed by the state to school districts based on “average daily membership weighted” (ADMw), which takes into account additional costs of special needs and low income students and other factors. Budget calculations were based on 1134 ADMw, down from 1200 ADMw used for the 2012-13 school budget.
The unweighted student enrollment for 2012-13 averages 936 students, compared to 1002 in 2011-12.
Carter’s message stated, “After reviewing the budget process, we are once again required to make reductions in order to balance the budget. With the salary increases as negotiated with the local unions and insurance increases of 7-10 percent, maintenance and capital funds need to be increased.
“We have a need for a new computer lab costing around $35,000, and we need to paint the complex since it has been over 10 years. This painting project is expected to cost around $60,000, and we need to continue to save funds for future roof repairs.
“In addition, the cost of doing business continues to increase and contracted services, fuel, and staff development costs continue.
“The food service department will not be able to operate in the black as it has in the past. We have transferred $42,000 from the general fund to balance the budget. A new dishwasher for the kitchen is needed and it is estimated to cost around $40,000. I have not added this to the budget but I need the Board/community to be aware that this liability is a very real possibility.”
Explaining funding, the message said, “The primary revenue source is the State School Fund, which is distributed by the Oregon Department of Education… Rainier is building its budget on a state budget set at $6.55 billon.”
The budget assumed only modest reforms to the state Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
On a positive note, Carter highlighted several grants the staff has received and the possibility of obtaining a full-time school psychologist through an internship agreement.
RSD is working with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office to place a full-time deputy on campus as a school resource officer. An anticipated federal grant will fund the position.
Tentatively, a portion of the special education services is being negotiated to be contracted with Clatskanie. Food services and technology service are already contracted to Clatskanie from the RSD.
The budget committee will meet again on Wednesday, May 29, at 6:30 p.m.
The Columbia County Planning Commission will consider a comprehensive plan amendment and zone change to expand the Port Westward industrial site at a meeting Monday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the circuit courtroom on the third floor of the courthouse annex 230 Strand Street in St. Helens.
The meeting is open to the public.
The planning commission’s consideration of the Port of St. Helens request to rezone approximately 957 acres from agriculture to rural industrial to facilitate and attract large scale industrial users, was originally set to go before the planning commission in April, but the meeting was cancelled due to lack of a quorum.
The Rainier city council voted unanimously at its meeting Monday, April 1, opposing the zone change primarily because of its concerns regarding increased rail traffic through downtown Rainier.
On April 3, the Clatskanie city council expressed strong support for the zone change from the standpoint of economic development and job creation.
In a 16-page report, the Columbia County planning staff found that the rezoning is consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan, with statewide planning goals, and that the affected area, lying adjacent to the Port Westward industrial park, has adequate facilities, services and transportation networks to support the zone change.
Based on those findings, the planning director recommends approval of the proposed rezone.
The planning commission does not make the final decision on the comprehensive plan amendment, but it may make a recommendation to approve, approve with conditions or deny the application to the Columbia County board of commissioners who have the decision making authority.
PALLETS OF FRESH PRODUCE arrived Tuesday morning at Turning Point Community Services Center for distribution, as part of a pilot program by the Oregon Food Bank. Turning Point director Pandora Fasciana lowers 1200 pounds of potatoes with a fork lift and displays bags full of carrots and potatoes.
Shipments of fresh fruits and vegetables will continue to arrive weekly on Tuesdays. Varying types of produce are expected and are available free of charge to residents of Clatskanie and surrounding communities. “This is for every single human being in our area,” emphasized Fasciana. There are no income limits and no paperwork to fill out, said a Turning Point spokesperson.
Distribution is Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Turning Point, 220 E. Columbia River Highway. Any remaining produce left on Mondays will be available for those who want it for livestock or compost. Chief Photo by Molly G. Wehrley