21 August 2013 by Published in: News No comments yet

Marshland Area Mitigation Work Underway

WEBmitigation-project

EXAMINING THE DIKES WHERE 35 acres of Greenwood Resources property along Westport Slough will be flooded to provide juvenile salmon and wildlife habitat, were members of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, the Lower Columbia River Watershed Council and staff members from the office of Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington.

Greenwood’s certification by the Forest Stewardship Council requires the company to maintain 10 percent of its land holdings in wildlife habitat, which it already exceeds in the Clatskanie area. The poor drainage for agriculture and access to the Westport Slough make the site attractive as a salmon mitigation site.

The slough and its tributaries have permanent and visiting populations of coho and chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout along with other native fish species. The area is also home to whitetail deer, beaver, bald eagles and osprey.

The project is being funded by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Bonne-ville Power Administration (BPA). Kynsi Construction of Clatskanie is doing the excavation work, which includes digging out the dike, slopping the land and mimicking natural topography to give a varied habitat for the large number of native plant species to be re-introduced in the area.

Andrew Niemi of Lower Columbia Engineering engineered the project.

Chris Hathaway of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership stated that some 44,000 native plants will be planted.

Project leaders said that the estuary partnership is not a regulatory agency and prefers working with willing landowners on habitat improvement projects which disturb active agriculture as little as possible.

The project is being praised as a model of environmental restoration. Kimberly Picheira and Nicole Teutschel from Cantwell’s staff attended the presentation to learn how the senator could help with similar projects on the Washington side of the river and what legislative hurdles and helps existed.

Those in attendance promoted the reintroduction of the Columbia River Restoration Act and stressed that landowner hardships are resulting from levy certification requirements imposed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Identifiable in the picture above are from left, Margaret Magruder of the Lower Columbia Watershed Council, Tyler Joki of the Columbia Soil & Water Conservation District, Chris Hathaway of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, and Andrew Niemi of Lower Columbia Engineering. Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley

Columbia County Voters Asked to Approve Jail Operating Levy

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Columbia County voters will be asked to approve a four-year local option levy, totaling approximately $9.5 million over four years – about 58 cents per $1,000 of valuation – for operations of the county jail in the Nov. 5th election.

The Columbia County board of commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 7th to place the issue before the voters, and filed a ballot title with the Columbia County Clerk on Aug. 13.

The summary of Measure 5-234, reads as follows:

“In 1998, county voters approved construction of a new jail with a 255-bed capacity without corresponding operating funds. The county general fund and bed rentals have supported jail operations for 13 years.

“The cost to supervise, feed, clothe and provide health care for a larger inmate population is now known to be much greater than the costs to run the old jail.

“The county general fund has experienced financial deficits in the last several years and can no longer sufficiently support jail operations, leading to a reduced maximum bed capacity (25 for local inmates). The continued operation of the jail in any capacity is dependant upon federal bed rentals.

“Federal bed rentals are not guaranteed. The city governments in Columbia County currently pay nothing for use of the jail for city inmates.

“The proposed levy would restore 75 beds for local use, fund five additional corrections deputies, one technician and one supervisory position, and provide constitutionally required food, clothing, management and health care to inmates.

“The estimated money raised will be $2,287,572 in FY (fiscal year) 2015, $2,356,199 in FY 2016, $2,426,885 in FY 2017, and $2,499,691 in FY 2018 for an estimated total levy of $9,570,348.”

Citizens have until 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, to file a petition for review of the ballot title with the Columbia County Circuilt Court.

Columbia County Commissioner Earl Fisher told the Clatskanie city council at its Aug. 7th meeting that for the current fiscal year, “we’ve only been able to fund 25 beds – that hardly keeps the murderers and rapists off the street. Last year we had 65 beds (for prisoners arrested in the county) and we were matrixing people out. If we don’t get the operating levy we will not be able to have a jail next year.”

Fisher emphasized that the federal prisoners – from the U.S. Marshal’s office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – occupy more beds in the county jail and more than pay their way, traditionally helping pay the cost of housing prisoners arrested by local law enforcement agencies. However, the number of beds being rented by the federal agencies has dropped in recent years and is unpredictable at best.

Already 500 prisoners have been released from the Columbia County Jail this year because the county couldn’t afford to keep them there. Those that are sentenced to jail are likely to spend only one or two nights in jail.

“If we must close the jail due to lack of funding, our communities will be less safe. It will negatively affect our property values and our quality of life,” Fisher said.

Passage of the local option levy would allow the “100 worst offenders” to be held at the jail, according to a press release from Keep Prisoners in Jail, an organization formed to support the levy.

In addition to the Columbia County commissioners, the levy has been endorsed by State Senator Betsy Johnson, State Representative Brad Witt, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, Columbia City Mayor Cheryl Young, and several business leaders.

If approved by the voters in November, the levy would last for four years and then would have to be renewed by the voters to continue.

Local Firefighters Sent to Wildfire in The Dalles

Firefighters in Columbia County were mobilized on Monday, Aug. 19, to help  fight wildfires in The Dalles.

Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District sent four firefighters and a “brush engine.” Strike team leader Erick Holsey was scheduled to leave Tuesday night to relieve the leader dispatched on Monday.

Included in the county’s response efforts to The Dalles are Columbia River Fire and Rescue (CRF&R), which sent four firefighters and a fire truck, and the Mist-Birkenfeld fire department which provided a fire engine and personnel.

Rainier District Makes New Hires, Opens Online School

by Adam J. Wehrley

A number of staff changes at Rainier Junior/Senior High School (RJSHS) and Hudson Park Elementary (HPE) filled the agenda of the Rainier school board meeting Monday, Aug. 19.

The board accepted the resignations of Jerry DeShazer, HPE physical education teacher; Jerimy Kelley, RJSHS English teacher; Jill Loupin, HPE special education teacher; Richard Mendes, RJSHS advanced math teacher; Mark Bernhardt, RJSHS vice principal, and Christina Aukers, cook.

The board then approved recommendations to hire Peter Linnell, RJSHS advanced math teacher; Rebecca Johanson, HPE teacher; Jessica DuMouchel, RJSHS English teacher; Barry Dehler, special education teacher; Eric Blackford, associate principal; Megan Benson, RJSHS English teacher; Kay Richards, cook, and Beth Bailey, RJSHS French teacher.

Superintendent/ RJSHS Principal Dr. Michael Carter explained that changes to the district’s public employee retirement system (PERS) rate allowed an increase of $111,043 to the instruction budget.

In addition, many of the new hires come in at a lower pay scale than staff members leaving the district, resulting in $74,000 in savings.

In accordance to add-back priorities expressed by the board and budget committee, vice-principal/athletic director Graden Blue, whose position had been reduced to half-time, was hired back to a full-time position.

Eric Blackford, who has worked at HPE as a academic program coach, was hired as part-time associate principal. Blackford will work part-time out of district.

The board moved to transfer $25,000 from the contingency fund to the district’s athletic budget.

North Columbia Academy Opens Online School

North Columbia Academy (NCA), a district-run charter school, is now offering online courses open to seventh through 12th grade students statewide. Courses are provided through several online programs and included regular contact with instructors and other educational opportunities.

Students enrolled in the new online program may complete their high school education at home and may be eligible to participate in RJSHS athletics.

The board renewed NCA’s charter for three years and adopted the 2013-14 NCA student handbook. Information and enrollment forms for NCA are available online at http://www.ncaonline13.com/.

Facility Tour and Update

Prior to the meeting Carter conducted a tour of the district campus highlighting work done over the summer. This included painting about half the exterior walls, cutting timber damaged by beetle infestations, building an outdoor classroom, painting a new logo on the gym floor and refinishing floors through out the campus.

The tour also visited the Braircliff Pool where Carter pointed out problems with the recent paint job and the need to update the facility as a whole.

At the meeting he reported that the paint has been sent to a third independent lab for testing and the results should be legally binding. He stated the district’s attorneys have expressed confidence that should the issue go into litigation the district would have a strong case.

This winter’s swim season is dependent on a resolution to the issue.

Funds, Officers and 

Other Business

The board moved to transfer district funds to St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union. The district’s previous bank has recently closed its Rainier branch and new Oregon credit union laws now allow credit unions to be depositories for government funds.

As a matter of housekeeping for the new 2013-14 school year, the board made a number of appointments and authorized check signers and district credit card holders.

The board also signed an inter-government agreement with the Longview school district to remain part of a purchasing co-operative, which will save the district money on food and supplies.

The district accepted a $30,000 Oregon Farm-to-School grant. $16,500 of the grant will be available for the current school year. Various fee schedules were also adopted.

Carter reported that the district is conducting negotiations with the Portland Habilitation Center regarding the district’s janitorial contract.

The effort to share elective courses between Rainier and Clatskanie high school has been mainly postponed for the 2013-14 school year, due to logistical problems and a lack of student interest. Neither school will be transporting students, but options may still exist for students able to drive themselves.

The board adopted a number of student, staff and coaching handbooks all available online at http://www.rainier.k12.or.us/node/1020.

Blue reported that the district was looking into purchasing three additional defibrillators in case of an emergency at the athletic fields.

Hood to Coast Relay Passes Through County Friday, Saturday

The Hood to Coast Relay, heralded as “the most popular relay race in the world,” will bring nearly 20,000 runners and walkers through local communities on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24.

This year’s event will include professional and amateur athletes from all 50 states in the U.S. and 39 countries around the world.

Two-time American Olympian and former South Sudanese refugee Lopez Lomong will lead a group of five Hood to Coast teams, with a goal of raising over $300,000 for World Vision’s clean water projects in South Sudan.

Lomong will be accompanied by the following four honorary team captains. Ashton Eaton is a 2012 American gold medalist and the record holder in the decathlon and heptathlon. Jim Ryun is a three-time Olympian with world records in the half-mile, mile and 1,500 meters. Ryun is also a five-term U.S. congressman from Kansas. Andrew Baldwin – in addition to being an eight-time Ironman finisher, marathoner and triathlete – is board-certified in family medicine, a U.S. Navy physician and a media personality. Jenny Hatfield is coach and columnist for Runners World.

The event includes the Hood to Coast Relay, Portland to Coast Relay and the Portland to Coast High School Challenge Relay. Races start at Mt. Hood and in Portland, and are routed through Scappoose, St. Helens, Mist and Birkenfeld to the coast where the race ends in Seaside.

All are welcome to join the party at the finish line on Saturday in Seaside at the beach. Festivites start at 11 a.m. Live music is planned in the afternoon, awards ceremonies start at 5 p.m., followed by more live music and a fireworks display at 9:05 p.m.

Local Agencies Prepare

In preparation for the onslaught of activity locally, Mist-Birkenfeld Fire Protection District will have three first aid stations to take care of minor medical issues. First aid providers will be placed in the Natal area, at the relay leg exchange point near Mist, and the department’s main station between Mist and Birkenfeld.

Volunteers will staff the fire station round-the-clock during the relay to allow for quick response in case of an emergency involving relay participants or other calls in the community. Equipment and personnel are also strategically placed beyond the route of the runners at the east end of the fire district towards Vernonia.

Traffic Advisory

Relay organizers advise residents that traffic flow may be affected in Columbia County starting on Friday, Aug. 23, and continuing through Saturday evening, Aug. 24.

Delays because of race-related traffic are anticipated at the following times.

Highway 30 – Friday, Aug. 23, from approximately 5:15 a.m. to Saturday, Aug. 24, at 8:40 a.m. Relay leg 16 will finish at Scappoose High School, and leg 17 at St. Helens High School.

In St. Helens, the relay route will turn off onto Pittsburg Road, go left on Sunset Boulevard, right on Columbia Boulevard, slight right on Gable Road, then left on Bachelor Flat Road until reaching the Columbia County Fairgrounds.

Highway 47 – Friday, Aug. 23, from approximately 4 p.m. to Saturday, Aug. 24, at 12:30 p.m.

Hood to Coast Hotline

In response to any race-related issues created by the event within the communities it passes through, organizers have posted the toll-free hotline number 1 800 853-8412 for the general public from Aug. 19-31. Dial 9-1-1 if the situation is an emergency.

Horseless Carriages Tour Area This Weekend

Approximately 25 cars, none newer than 1932, will visit Clatskanie this weekend as the community plays host to the Portland regional group of the Horseless Carriage Club of America “Lewis and Clark Tour.”

Most of the classic cars will arrive via trailers about noon on Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Clatskanie River Inn, where they will be headquartered over the weekend.

At about 3 p.m. Thursday, the participants will drive their vintage cars to the Port Westward industrial site, via Beaver Falls Road, Quincy-Mayger Road and Kallunki Road, for a tour of the Portland General Electric (PGE) generating plant.

On Friday, Aug. 23, starting between 9 and 9:30 p.m., the horseless carriages will head over Highway 47 through Mist to Vernonia, then back via Apiary Road where they will stop at Camp Wilkerson for lunch. Then they will return to Clatskanie via Beaver Falls Road, staying off Highway 30 as much as possible.

Saturday’s tour will see the classic cars heading out of Clatskanie via Beaver Falls Road, onto Highway 30 for a short distance, and then onto Alston-Mayger Road, Quincy-Mayger Road, Beaver Falls Road and NW 5th Street in Clatskanie.

They will parade down N. Nehalem Street in downtown Clatskanie and take Highway 30 west to Port Adams Road for a tour around the dikelands to Woodson. After lunch at the Berry Patch in Westport, the horseless carriages will travel down Highway 30 to the Wauna overpass and then return to Clatskanie via as much of old Highway 30 (Taylorville Road, Colvin Road, etc.), as possible.

An awards banquet will be held in the Cedar Room at the Clatskanie River Inn Saturday evening, concluding the Horseless Carriage Club’s visit to Clatskanie.

Local residents are welcome to view the beautifully-restored cars, which will be parked, when not touring, at the Clatskanie River Inn.

Tour organizer Glen Slack suggested public viewing between 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Friday or Saturday mornings when the participants will be getting their cars ready for the road.

 

 

 

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