Month:

December, 2013

From Our Family to Yours…

Wishing You A Very Happy New Year

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WISHING READERS A HAPPY NEW YEAR are the eight grandchildren of The Chief’s publisher/editor. They are the fifth generation of the family that has owned and operated this newspaper for almost 92 years – the great grandchildren of Gail and Alvista Steele, and the great-great-grandchildren of Art and Malvina Steele. Pictured in the front row are Ana Wehrley, almost 6, and Henry Weisensee, 4 1/2; in the second row are Natasha Wehrley, 11, holding her sister Elsie, 2 1/2; Elias Wehrley, 9, and Owen Weisensee, 7; in the back row are Jonathan Moravec, 12, and Madeline Moravec, 13 1/2. The cousins are the children of Adam and Molly Wehrley, and Amanda and Michael Moravec, all of Clatskanie, and Erika and Alex Weisensee, of Milwaukie. Adam, Molly and Amanda, members of the fourth generation of The Chief family, are employed at the newspaper, along with Deborah Steele Hazen, mother of Adam, Amanda and Erika, and the third generation of the Steele family to serve as publisher/editor. Chief Photo by Deborah Steele Hazen

Campaign Violations Alleged in Wake of Recall

by Adam J. Wehrley

Complaining that Rainier Senior Center (RSC) board members violated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations prohibiting certain tax-exempt organizations from participating or intervening in political campaigns, recently recalled city councilor Judith Taylor has filed a complaint against members of the RSC board.

IRS regulations, specifically Rev. Rul. 2007-41, require that 501(c)(3) designated tax-exempt organizations operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Political campaigning violates this regulation. However, the regulations do not prohibit leaders or members of tax exempt organizations from campaigning as private individuals.

Taylor alleges that RSC board chair William Diaz, board secretary Liz Sandahl and RSC member Jim Grimes violated the center’s non-profit status by actively campaigning at the center and using their influence there for political purposes.

Specifically, Taylor accuses them of circulating the recall petition against her at RSC events, lunches and meeting, and using their RSC titles in letters to the editor in The Chief and The Daily News.

Taylor’s complaint states her belief that the recall was an act of retaliation against her for work she did as city counsel liaison with RSC. Taylor led an investigation of the center’s financial record keeping practices and worked to bring the RSC into compliance with long-neglected reporting requirements for its use of the city-owned building housing the RSC.

Taylor lost the December 19th election by four votes, 179-183. Throughout the recall campaign she maintained that her actions were in line with her duties as an elected official.

Taylor has also filed a complaint against Diaz with the Oregon Secretary of State alleging he gave false information to signers while collecting signatures for the petition.

Winners Announced in Shop Locally Promotion

Prize winners were announced Monday in the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce-sponsored “Catch the Holiday Spirit” shop locally campaign.

Turning in completed “SPIRIT” cards representing $300 each spent at participating Clatskanie businesses by the deadline of 5 p.m. on Dec. 27 were 114 local shoppers, who bought a combined total of $34,200 at local businesses between Oct. 31 and Dec. 27.

“This is by far the best participation we’ve had in the three years we’ve been doing these kind of promotions,” a Chamber spokesperson said. “And, that doesn’t count the people who shopped locally, but didn’t complete a card, or forgot to turn them in.”

In a drawing from the 114 cards turned in, Heather Paradiso was the first place winner of $100 in Clatskanie Chamber Checks; Mike Gorley won second and received $50 in Chamber Checks, while Joanne Porter was third with $30 in Chamber Checks.

The Chamber Checks, which can be purchased at Wauna Credit Union’s Clatskanie branch, may be used like personal checks at any Clatskanie business.

Paulette Morris was also a winner in the “Catch the Holiday Spirit” promotion. She was awarded a turkey, donated by Clatskanie Safeway, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Dawning of a New Year

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THE BRIGHT PROMISE OF A NEW YEAR is symbolized by the beauty of a sunrise along NE 5th Street in Clatskanie during the last week of 2013. Chief Photo by Phil Hazen

Year-End Review…

Issues Related to Port Westward Development Dominate 2013 Headlines 

by Deborah Steele Hazen

Issues related to development at the Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie topped the news during the first half of 2013.

Following is a month-by-month review of the top stories in The Clatskanie Chief during the first half of 2013.

January

2013 began with the remnants of a light snowfall on New Year’s Eve.

Holly Lever was announced as the first prize winner in the “Spirit of Christmas in Clatskanie” shop locally promotion, and was awarded $100 in Clatskanie Chamber Checks. Other winners of cash and prizes were Montana Helton, Vicki Holum, Katelyn Dines, Donna Garlock and Broderick Helton.

A petition was filed Jan. 4 in the Oregon Court of Appeals asking for a review of the recent changes aimed at moving gillnets off the Columbia River. The petition was filed on behalf of Steve Fick and his company, Fishhawk Fisheries of Astoria, and Jim Wells, a commercial gillnet fishermen and president of Salmon for All, an organization that supports the continuance of the commercial fishing industry on the Columbia River.

The latest unemployment figures showed a 9 percent unemployment rate for Columbia County. The rate continued to be higher than the state as a whole (8.4) and the national rate (7.8).

State Senator Betsy Johnson was named co-chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development for the 2013 legislative session. Johnson said she was looking forward “to discussing plans to get people working again in both rural and urban parts of Oregon.”

A representative of the Veterans Administration (VA), with the encouragement of Clatskanie’s veterans organizations – the American Legion Post 68 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2994 – began making regular visits to Clatskanie to assist local veterans in applying for VA programs.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley met with local leaders in Columbia City on Jan. 7. Topics discussed included the “fiscal cliff,” gun control, filibuster rules, rail and infrastructure, coal and global warming.

Northwest Oregon experienced a week of night-time temperatures in the 20s and cold sunny days in the 30s, creating a build-up of ice and frost in shady spots.

A broken pipe in the Clatskanie Elementary School’s (CES) heating system flooded the library with hundreds of gallons of water causing extensive water damage to the room and threatening the future usability of the school’s $250,000 book collection.

The damage was discovered early Monday morning, Jan. 14. Water was pouring in from a unit ventilator, similar to a radiator, attached to the school’s boiler system. The pipe broke during the cold weather snap.

CES kitchen staff members preparing for breakfast Monday morning discovered water covering about one-third of the cafeteria floor. The source was traced to the library where the carpets were flooded, heavy steam hung in the air and condensation dripped from the ceiling. The condensation saturated the library’s shelves and books.

“Every time they open something, they find more water,” said Northwest Regional Education Service District Superintendent James Sager, who stepped in as Clatskanie’s acting superintendent Jan. 14, temporarily replacing former superintendent Mary Mitchell, who resigned effective Jan. 11 to take the special education director job in St. Helens.

Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove granted a summary judgement dismissing the lawsuit against the Columbia County commissioners and the City of St. Helens in regard to the now-defunct Columbia Health District.

Over 50 local kindergarten through 12th grade students were cast in the Missoula Children’s Theatre production of “The Tortoise vs. The Hair – The Greatest Race.” The play was performed on the evening of Jan. 25 and the afternoon of Jan. 26 as part of the Clatskanie Arts Commission’s 24th annual performing arts series.

The new Department of State Lands (DSL) director Mary Abrams toured Northwest Oregon on Jan. 23 and 24, accompanied by State Senator Betsy Johnson. They met with local officials along the way, discussing concerns  such as port, industrial and agricultural issues, dredging, dikes and levees, previous problems with permits and water way leases, etc.

In the Clatskanie area, Abrams and the group of state officials traveling with her, met with Port of St. Helens commissioners and staff at Port Westward, and with City of Clatskanie and Lower Columbia River Watershed Council representatives at the Clatskanie People’s Utility District meeting room.

The group stopped at Dibblee Beach in west Rainier to discuss the hopes of bringing the beach, owned in part by the DSL, under the Columbia County parks system. They also stopped at Foss Maritime in downtown Rainier, before traveling on to St. Helens, to discuss various issues in the south county area.

An agreement to purchase the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery ethanol plant and other assets of Cascade Kelly Holdings LLC at the Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie was announced Jan. 28 by Global Partners LP.

In a news release issued from its Waltham, Mass. headquarters, Global announced that it had signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of Cascade Kelly’s holdings at Port Westward for approximately $95 million.

The transaction included a rail transloading facility, 200,000 barrels of tank storage capacity, access to the Port of St. Helens’ dock, and the largest ethanol plant on the West Coast. In November 2012, the facility began transloading unit trains of light “sweet” crude (unrefined) oil from the Baaken oil field of North Dakota. The oil is then loaded on barges at Port Westward for shipment to West Coast refineries.

The Port Westward facilities are located on land leased under a long-term agreement with the Port of St. Helens, which owns Port Westward, once the U.S. Army’s Beaver ammunition depot.

John Moore and Erick Holsey were appointed to vacancies on the Clatskanie School District board of directors after an interview session with the three sitting board members on Monday, Jan. 28. Moore and Holsey replaced Karen George and Janet Willey, who resigned from the school board in December.

Additionally at that meeting, the board hired George Lanning to serve as interim superintendent of the district for the remainder of the school year in the wake of the resignation of Mary Mitchell. Lanning is a retired superintendent with much experience.

The Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) board voted to extend health insurance coverage to board members at a cost of $577.45 per director, which is equal to the base amount provided for employees. The coverage was for board members only, not their spouses or other family members. Director Merle Gillespie voted against the motion.

The board voted by a 3-2 margin to raise its compensation for attending meetings outside of the district from $125 to $160 per day, plus expenses. Gillespie and Director Janet Willey voted against the motion.

There was no motion to raise the directors’ current monthly stipend of $350.

On the last day of January, in a long-awaited decision, Portland General Electric (PGE) announced its proposed new flexible generating plant would be built at Port Westward.

The 220-megawatt plant would be located adjacent to PGE’s existing natural gas-fired Port Westward and Beaver plants. The project would create up to 200 construction jobs during its approximately 18-month construction phase, and was expected to cost between $285 million and $310 million. However, the plant will not add significantly to the permanent PGE workforce at Port Westward.

February

Clatskanie PUD crews got busy setting large power poles west of Clatskanie on the first phase of the Clatskanie-Wauna transmission line project. The ongoing project is designed to increase system flexibility and reliability. The 12-mile long project will be built in three phases – Clatskanie to Marshland, Marshland to Westport, and Westport to Wauna.

A Clatskanie Arts Commission-sponsored concert by Spencer and Traci Hoveskeland of Bottom Line Duo (cello and bass) on Feb. 8, set the mood for Valentine’s Day.

Record-setting generosity was a cause for celebration on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the 16th annual Knappa Schools Foundation (KSF) dinner and auction. The event raised a highest-ever $92,000 – $85,000 after expenses – which will be used to provide scholarships for Knappa students and help support programs in the local schools.

Breaking a 34-34 tie in the last second of play, Clatskanie High School guard German George sunk a hook shot to seal a 35-34 victory over the Rainier High School Columbians in the first round of the Lewis and Clark League boys’ basketball playoffs on Feb. 13.

Tyler Johnson led the Tigers in scoring with nine points and nine rebounds. Kyle Sharek contributed seven points and four rebounds. George made six points, seven rebounds and two steals. Morgan Keyser added five points, six rebounds and two steals.

Rainier girls varsity basketball team captured second place in the Lewis and Clark League Feb. 5 with a close 48-46 victory over Warrenton.

Kaylea Knox led the Lady Columbians with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists. Jaden Thurston added eight points, while Kylee Crape had six points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

In the first round of play-off action, the Rainier girls beat Corbett, then they defeated number one-ranked Valley Catholic for the Lewis and Clark League championship.

Kaylea Knox was named co-most valuable player of the league, and Holly Burghardt of Clatskanie was also named to the second team.

Two other Rainier girls, Jaden Thurston and Kylee Crape, received second team recognition, while Aubree Coffman of Rainier and Kori Stavig of Clatskanie, were honorable mentions.

On the boys side, Clatskanie’s Tyler Johnson was named to the all-league first team; Kyle Sharek of Clatskanie and Sala Clark of Rainier made the second team, and Colten Puzey of Clatskanie was honorable mention.

Rainier wrestlers outscored Gervais by a slight margin to win the 2012 Special Wresting District 1 team title. Rainier qualified 12, top-three-place-winning wrestlers for the state championships: Emmett Earlywine, third at 106 pounds; Justice Larson, champion, 113; Trevor Lefebvre, second, 120; Sean Shipley, champion, 145; Oliver Bolden, third, 145; Derek Clark, second, 160; Tyson Lorentson, champion, 170; Charlie Vestal, third, 170; Dorian Graff, second, 182; Garrett Dees, champion, 195; Evan Gleaves, second, 220, and Jason Larson, third, 220. Shipley was voted the outstanding wrestler of the tournament for the lower weight classes.

Clatskanie’s Chris Puckett won the 160-pound championship. Puckett was the only Tiger wrestler to qualify for the state meet.

Two Rainier High School swimmers and three boys relay teams earned the right to compete in the state meet as a result of their performances at the district meet Feb. 8 and 9 at the Astoria Aquatic Center. Competing for Rainier at the state swim meet Feb. 15-16 at Mt. Hood Community College were Jade Feigert in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and Tyson Griffith in the 100 breaststroke.

Relay team members qualifying in the 200 yard medley were Feigert and Griffith along with Nathan Soule and Nik Griffith. 200 yard freestyle relay members were the two Griffiths along with Feigert and Jeremiah Kramberg.

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 Feb. 13.

As part of a process that started in the fall of 2012, 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 to fund additional firefighter/paramedic positions on the May 21st ballot.

The Clatskanie Masonic Lodge hosted its annual Washington’s Birthday Breakfast on Sunday, Feb. 17, from 7:30 to 11 a.m.

The completion of the sale of the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery to Global Partners LP was announced on Feb. 19. “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 said. “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.”

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

Butts 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.

As a result of the competency hearing, Judge Grove ordered Butts to be transferred to the Oregon State Hospital for treatment until his capacity to stand trial is regained.

Lynn Siltala became Clatskanie’s first-ever girls state wrestling champion by winning the 145-pound Oregon high school girls wrestling state championship Feb. 23 at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.

Rainier High School’s wrestling team came away with six individual place winners and a seventh place team finish from the state wrestling tournament. Evan Cleaves won third at 220 pounds, Sean Shipley won second at 145 pounds; Justice Larson, fourth, 113 pounds; Tyson Lorentson, fifth, 170 pounds; Garrett Dees, fifth, 170, and Jason Larson, fifth, 220 pounds.

The Clatskanie school board decided that the yet-to-be-hired new district superintendent would also serve as principal of the elementary school. Community meetings were scheduled in late February to gather public input on the subject of “qualities and qualifications” for the superintendent/elementary school principal position.

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 came as a result of a continuing investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. Billingsley’s body was found in a drainage ditch in Aloha on Oct. 10, 1982. Billingsley was 17 years old at the time. Hicks, now 49, was 19 in 1982.

March

The Rainier girls basketball team captured third place at the Oregon state 3A basketball championships held in Coos Bay Feb. 28-March 2. The Lady Columbians lost only to the eventual state champion, Valley Catholic.

Kaylea Knox was named to the all-state first team and Kylee Crape was all-state honorable mention.

The City of Clatskanie’s new public works director, Ray DiPasquale, began his duties during the first week of March, replacing the long-serving Dave True, who went to work for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The Clatskanie PUD celebrated 70 years of service on the anniversary of becoming Oregon’s first operating PUD on March 12, 1943. The PUD invited its customer-owners to stop by the lobby at the headquarters building March 12-22 to view historical memorabilia and enjoy refreshments.

Global Partners LP, the new owner of the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery ethanol plant and related facilities at Port Westward is ready, willing and able to expand operations and employment at the Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie. That was the message from Eric Slifka, president and chief executive officer, during a March 15th interview with The Chief.

The interview came the day after Global reported record earnings for 2012. The company is ranked 182 in the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations.

A 58-year-old Knappa man, Conrad Weirup, drowned as the result of a boating accident March 15 when the small boat he was in capsized and sank in Blind Slough. Two other occupants of the boat were able to swim ashore.

The third and final season of restoration work on the Lewis and Clark Bridge began  in mid-March, and was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The $30 million preservation project on the 84-year-old bridge was paid for by the states of Washington and Oregon, along with $12.3 million in federal funding through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The bridge across the Columbia River between Longview and Rainier carries an estimated 21,000 vehicles per day.

The Clatskanie High School cheerleaders brought home a trophy for third place in the nation, after performing at a competition at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif. on March 16.

The 12 squad members and four coaches raised funds to attend the National Cheerleaders Association West Coast Classic, after they took second place to Rainier at the Oregon state cheerleading championships.

Members of the team are Breeann Hendricks, Mckenna Clappé, Hailey Hopstad, Jaqueline Clark, Sadie Harkins, Kateland Waterman, Tana Johnson, Zia Wiles, Patricia Candela, Megan Strom, Kaitlyn Carson and Maegan Hunter. Coaches are Chris Boothe, Mary Schulte, Kandice Schulte and AnneMarie Schulte.

As the coming of spring brought blossoms to the lowlands, a late season snow hit the higher elevations.

The governors of Oregon and Washington asked U.S. President Barack Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality to “undertake and complete a thorough examination of the greenhouse gas and other air quality effects of continued coal leasing and export before the U.S. and its partners make irretrievable long-term investments in expanding this trade.”

The letter dated Monday, March 25, specifically named Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific Terminal proposal, which would see up to eight million tons of coal per year transported by barge from Boardman in Eastern Oregon to the Port of St. Helens-owned Port Westward site near Clatskanie.

It also named the Millenium Bulk Terminals proposal in Longview and the Gateway Pacific Terminal in Bellingham.

Port of St. Helens commission president Robert Keyser said he thought the governors’ letter could be a “death sentence” to Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific project and the Kinder-Morgan proposal – which has not yet entered the permitting process – to export coal from Port Westward.

Christians celebrated Holy Week with a variety of Easter services during the last week of March, culminating on Easter Sunday.

The annual Clatskanie area Kiwanis-sponsored Easter egg hunt was held on Saturday morning, March 30, at the Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) athletic fields.

The Rainier Eagles sponsored an Easter egg at the same time at Rainier Riverfront Park.

April

The Rainier city council voted unanimously at its meeting Monday, April 1, to draft a letter to the Columbia County board of commissioners opposing the proposed rezoning of 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 were aimed at zoning the property for industrial use, allowing more economic development that could take advantage of Port Westward’s deep-water dock.

The Rainier city council’s opposition was based on noise, delay and safety issues related to increased rail traffic through downtown Rainier.

Reacting to the Rainier city council’s action, the Clatskanie city council voted in favor of economic development at Port Westward at its meeting April 3, and agreed unanimously to draft a letter in support of the proposed zone change.

The Alley Cats, America’s premier doo-wop group, performed the finale concert of the Clatskanie Arts Commission’s 24th annual performing art series on April 5 at the Donavon D. Wooley Performing Arts Center auditorium at CMHS.

The 11th annual Clatskanie Bulky Waste Clean-up Day was held Saturday, April 13. Over 130 loads of everything from old furniture to lawn mowers to tires were brought to the city park for disposal.

The 11th annual event was sponsored by the City of Clatskanie and the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce with the cooperation of Clatskanie Sanitary Service, Clatskanie Park and Recreation District, Clatskanie PUD, Sterling Bank-Clatskanie, Stan’s Refrigeration, Clatskanie Builders Supply, Kynsi Construction, Columbia County Land Development Services, and volunteers from the Chamber, Clatskanie Kiwanis, Clatskanie Masonic Lodge #133, Cub Scout Pack #241, Great Vow Zen Monastery and other community members.

April 13th was also the date of the fourth annual “Rainier Revisited” event at the Beaver Homes Grange in Goble. The historical re-enactment recreated scenes from 1853 – the year Rainier was founded. It is planned and put on by Rainier Junior/Senior High School history club, which is advised by history and social studies teacher Andrew Demko.

One person was killed and six people, including four children, were injured in a crash on Highway 30 in the Bradley Hill area, about 13 miles west of Clatskanie. A 1998 Volkswagen Jetta, driven by Lucas William Brown, age 36, of Longview, crossed the double solid center line and collided head-on with a westbound 2003 Mini Cooper.

Brown was pronounced dead after being flown by Life Flight helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. His two children, also of Longview, were passengers. Noah Waite-Brown, age 8, was listed in critical condition, and Kane G. Brown, age 7, was being treated for non-life threatening injuries. Noah subsequently died of his injuries on April 21.

The driver of the Mini Cooper, Kimberly Sultan, 42, of Astoria, was extricated from the wreckage by firefighters and was transported by ambulance to St. John Medical Center in Longview. She was later transferred to Legacy Emanuel in Portland in critical condition.

Her passengers, Ivan Sultan, age 44; Keanu Sultan, age 16, and Emily Lloyd, age 22 months, were treated at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria for minor injuries.

The Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District, Knappa Fire District, Medix Ambulance, Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation all responded and assisted at the scene. Highway 30 was closed for about three hours.

The Clatskanie Foundation announced the receipt of a $500,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation that pushes the Clatskanie Cultural Center project – the restoration of the old I.O.O.F. Hall and Avalon Theatre – to approximately 70 percent of its goal.

Interim Clatskanie School District Superintendent George Lanning presented a $9,553,978 proposed budget at a meeting of the budget committee April 22.

The Clatskanie PUD board of directors approved the sale of the old headquarters building at the corner of N. Nehalem and NE 5th streets to Community Access Services, the non-profit company that operates group homes and vocational training programs for disabled adults. The agreed upon price was $450,000.

After 15 years at the helm of the PUD, general manager Greg Booth announced that he would be retiring effective at the end of February 2014.

State Senator Betsy Johnson suffered a fractured pelvis in a “low-impact collision” in Scappoose on April 22.  She was on her way to the legislature when the crash occurred.

Although Senator Johnson spent the remainder of the year recovering from the injury, she remained active in representing the people of Northwest Oregon.

The public was invited to “meet and greet” the two finalists for the position of Clatskanie School District superintendent/elementary school principal on Wednesday, April 24. The two finalists were Lloyd Hartley, currently superintendent/high school principal and formerly superintendent/elementary principal at the Glendale School District in Douglas County, and Craig Downs, superintendent of the Chimacum School District in Jefferson County, Wash., and formerly assistant superintendent in Woodland, and an elementary principal in Kelso.

Hartley and Downs spent the day meeting with students and staff, as well as community members.

At the end of another round of interviews with the school board that night, Hartley was offered and accepted the position.

Three months after an eruption of steam and water from a burst pipe flooded the CES library and caused extensive damage to carpets, bookcases, wallboard, computers and the 11,000 volume collection, librarian Connie Sims and a group of volunteers began assessing each book, page-by-page for water damage to see if they could be returned to the shelves, after restoration of the room had been completed.

Rainier School District Superintendent Michael Carter presented a $9,023,682 proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year, which included a proposal to consolidate the superintendent and high school principal positions for a savings of over $135,000.

Columbia County’s unemployment figures gradually inched downward, reaching 8.4 percent in April, still higher than the statewide 8 percent and the national 7.5 percent.

May

At its meeting May 1, Clatskanie’s city council voted unanimously to extend an enterprise zone property tax exemption to Teevin Bros. Land and Timber Co. for its $2.5 million dock expansion along the Rainier waterfront. But in so doing, the Clatskanie councilors instructed Mayor Diane Pohl and city manager Greg Hinkelman to send a letter to the City of Rainier, encouraging Rainier leaders to work with the railroad and the Oregon Department of Transportation rail division to address their issues with the railroad.

Nearly 100 coal export opponents packed a Columbia County planning commission hearing Monday, May 6, regarding proposed zoning changes to 787 acres of land owned by the Port of St. Helens and 171 acres of adjoining private land next to the Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie.

Representatives of the Port and other proponents of the rezoning stressed the need for jobs in the economically depressed north county. They stressed that the changes will be necessary to site any industrial development on the land acquired by the port district in 2010, prior to either of the proposals to ship coal through Port Westward.

Kinder Morgan, which had been investigating the possibility of siting a coal export facility at the Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie, announced May 8 that it would not be pursuing the project here.

After months in the permitting phase, PGE broke ground on its new natural gas-fired generating plant at Port Westward during the second week in May. Numerous gravel trucks began traveling over the route to Port Westward to create the stone columns, sunk into the ground, which will provide a firm foundation for the 220-megawatt plant which is designed as a high-efficient and environmentally-responsible  facility with maximum flexibility to help meet real-time fluctuations in customer demand, and integrate variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar.

A $10,215,079 2013-14 budget was approved by the City of Clatskanie budget committee May 9. The budget represents a 16 percent increase from the previous year. The reason for the increase was a proposed harvest of 130 acres of city-owned timberland that has been harvest-ready for several years. The city had delayed cutting the timber until prices rebounded. Despite the increase in the budget’s bottom line, the regular day-to-day operational budget was “virtually identical” to the current year, city manager Greg Hinkelman said.

The CMHS choir placed sixth in the state among 3A schools at the state choir championship held May 9 at George Fox University in Newberg.

A dramatic 6-5 win over Warrenton on May 13 sent the Clatskanie High School baseball team to state competition.

Clatskanie and Rainier baseball teams battled for state tournament seeding on May 16, with the Tigers bringing home a 3-1 victory. The two local teams – Rainier took second in the league and Clatskanie third – hovered around the 9th and 10th place ranking in the Oregon School Activities Association computerized ranking system as they built winning seasons.

However, both local teams lost in the opening round of  state playoffs.

Rainier’s Oliver Bolden was named Lewis and Clark League co-player of the year and also was named to the all-state first team. Clatskanie’s Mica Karber and Shaine Warren were chosen to the second team all-state, while German George of Clatskanie was named to the third team, and Rainier’s Wes Tripp was honorable mention all-state.

First team all-league honors went to Bolden and Tripp of Rainier, and Clatskanie’s Warren, Karber, George and Nick Donaldson.

The two teams shared the league’s sportsmanship trophy, and Clatskanie’s Ryan Tompkins was named coach of the year.

Pitcher Katie Burgher and shortstop Holly Burghardt of Clatskanie were named all-league first team players for the Lewis and Clark League

Undefeated in league and 23-3 overall, the Rainier softball team headed for the state tournament with a second-in-state ranking.

The Rainier boys track and field team ran away with the Lewis and Clark League team title at the district meet May 19. Rainier qualified seven members of the boys squad for the state championships including Devon Marshall who qualified in the 200 and 400 meter races as well as a member of the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.

Other Rainier state qualifiers include Clay Wimmer in the 400 meters, 4×100 and 4×400 relays; Devyn Heflin, 100 meters, 300 meter hurdles, 4×100 and 4×400 relays; Parker Dean, 4×100 relay; Brian Guisinger, 800 meters and 4×400; Alex Hisey, shotput, and Joseph Loidhamer, discus.

Marshall won the state championship in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.03 – the fastest 400 meter time of the year in the state. The Rainier boys took fifth place overall at the state meet with Marshall placing second in the 200 meter dash. Devyn Heflin placed fifth in the 100, and fourth in the 300, while Clay Wimmer placed seventh in the 400. The Columbians took fourth in the boys 4×400 relay. Brian Guisinger was ninth in the 800, Joseph Loidhamer placed ninth in discus, and Alex Hisey was 10th in the shotput.

Clatskanie dominated the girls’ throwing events at the Lewis and Clark League district meet, with Carley Lannan taking first place in the discus and shotput with throws of 97’7” and 37’6”, respectively. Maegan Hunter took second in the javelin with a throw of 108.3”, while Lannan took fourth place in the javelin with 93’ and Hunter took fourth place in the discus and shotput with throws of 81’2” and 27’11”.

Lannan went on to win the state shotput championship May 23 with a throw of 41’ 8.5”. She placed sixth in the discus with 108’8”. Hunter took eighth in the javelin with 105’ 9”.

Original artwork and crafts by students, plus tickets to sports events and area attractions, gift certificates to local businesses and more were featured at the first-ever CES Spring Auction May 18. The money raised was used to buy computer equipment and other necessary items for the school.

The Columbia 9-1-1 operating levy renewal earned overwhelming approval by Columbia County voters 7,892 (84.99 percent) yes to 1,294 (15.01 percent) no in the May 21st special district election.

The Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD) local option levy also got strong support from voters, passing 832 (59.39 percent) yes to 569 (40.61 percent) no in the Columbia County portion, while passing by a 24 to 10 count in the Clatsop County portion.

In the few contested special board seats in the election, incumbent Port of St. Helens incumbent commissioner Terry Luttrell won re-election to his position with 3,843 (53.74 percent) to challenger Michael Clarke’s 3,257 (45.55 percent). Chris Iverson was unopposed for re-election to the board.

In the only contested CRFPD seat on the ballot, John Moore defeated Greg Brody for the fire board seat being vacated by the retirement of Malcolm Groulx. Bill Mellinger and Dave Scott were unopposed for re-election.

Valerie King was elected to the seat on the Clatskanie school board being vacated by John Moore.

With only minor changes, the Rainier city budget committee recommended the adoption of a proposed $8,857,741 budget.

Memorial Day was observed with the 58th annual Clatskanie Memorial Day breakfast, services at the Clatskanie Veterans Memorial, and an “Avenue of Flags” at the Murray Hill Cemetery, planned and organized by the Clatskanie American Legion Post 68, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2994, and Veterans of Foreign War Post 2994 with help from the Clatskanie Kiwanis Club.

Columbia River VFW Post 1909 and auxiliary of Rainier conducted a Memorial Day service at the veterans memorial at Hudson Cemetery on Larson Road. Prior to the service, a pancake breakfast was served at the Beaver Valley Grange Hall, just across the road from the cemetery.

The Rainier girls sealed their 2013 season by winning the state championship, soundly defeating Dayton in the final game by 9-3 on May 31 in Corvallis.

June

Rainier held a bulky waste clean-up day on June 1.

Clatskanie’s swimming pool opened for the season June 6.

Both local schools held their 2013 graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 5.

Five seniors were named Clatskanie honor graduates – Christmas Fou, Kyle Sharek, Holly Burghardt, Megan Strom and Amanda Paul.

Clatskanie graduates received over $69,000 in scholarships.

Three valedictorians – Hayley Strenke, Kaylea Knox and Jubilie Jefferson – and one salutatorian – Jaden Thurston – were honored at Rainier’s graduation.

The Columbia County planning commission voted 4-1 to deny the rezoning of 957 acres of land adjacent to the Port Westward at a meeting June 17th. Terry Luttrell, who serves on both the Port commission and the planning commission recused himself from the deliberations and the voting. Planning commissioner Alta Lynch voted against the denial, while Guy Letourneau, Paula Lichatowich, Linda Hooper and Jeffrey VanNatta voted to deny the application.

The planning commission vote was a recommendation to the Columbia County board of commissioners, which took up the issue during a series of meetings in September and October, and ultimately voted 3-0 to grant the rezoning. By year’s end, the decision was being appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals by the opponents of new industry at Port Westward.

Eighteen little girls gathered at the Flippin Castle June 22 for the annual “Princess-in-Training” event – marking the beginning of Clatskanie’s Heritage Days events.

As the month of June ended, the Heritage Days events gained momentum with a talent show and coronation on June 28, the 23rd annual Heritage Days Car show, “Pie in the Park” and other activities on Saturday, June 29; the all-school reunion, “Strut your Mutt” and Dog Day Afternoon” on Sunday, June 30; an outdoor family movie night in the park on Monday, July 1; a teen dance on Tuesday, July 2; a skateboard/bike showcase and teen movie night on Wednesday, July 3 and reaching a peak on Thursday, July 4, with the big 4th of July parade, a logging show, chili cook-off, live music and various activities in the park, and the fireworks spectacular at dark.

(The year-end review will be continued in next week’s edition with local events of the second half of 2013.)

 

 

 

 

 

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