29 January 2014 by Published in: News No comments yet

CRFPD Receives Georgia-Pacific Grant

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CLATSKANIE RURAL FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT (CRFPD) will receive urgently needed fire hose under the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grant program. The Georgia-Pacific Foundation awarded the fire department an $8,000 Bucket Brigade grant. Pictured during a check presentation ceremony at the Clatskanie fire station last week are, from left: CRFPD Fire Chief Steve Sharek,  Division Officer Erick Holsey; Steve Francoeur,  Georgia-Pacific vice president and Wauna Mill manager; Kristi Ward, Wauna Mill public affairs manager, and firefighter/paramedic Gabriel Wiggins.

In addition to the $8,000 Bucket Brigade grant, the Wauna Mill contributed $5,000 for a total of $13,000 given towards the fire hose purchase.

“The fire hose we have in service is more than 30 years old and sections were beginning to fail, which could put fire personnel at risk. The new fire hose will make it safer and more effective to extinguish large fires,” Sharek said. “I thank Georgia-Pacific for their continued support of our fire district.”

A record 55 fire departments in 21 states across the U.S. received Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grants during the past year totaling $270,000, the largest amount since the program began in 2006. The program has now surpassed the $1.25 million mark in cash grants to fire departments that serve Georgia-Pacific’s facility communities across the country.

“We’re proud we were able to support the Clatskanie Fire Department’s request for new fire hose,” said Francoeur. “Safety is very important to us and Georgia-Pacific’s grants will help first-responders better ensure their safety and the safety of the people in our local communities, including our employees.” Photo Courtesy of Georgia-Pacific Wauna Mill

Jail Crisis Topic of Town Hall Thursday

by Adam J. Wehrley

The Columbia County board of commissioners and Sheriff Jeff Dickerson will be present for a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the library room of the Port Building (former Clatskanie Middle School) at 555 SW Bryant Street in Clatskanie to discuss the proposed closing of the Columbia County Jail.

Sheriff Dickerson has announced a tentative agreement with Polk County to house 10 Columbia County inmates deemed the worst offenders. Criminals arrested on warrants from outside the county would be immediately transported by the arresting agency to the jurisdiction issuing the warrant.

Arresting agencies, such as city police departments, would either cite and release other offenders or arrange for them to be incacerated outside the county at the agency’s expense.

No cuts have been proposed to the sheriff’s enforcement/patrol division.

At a Jan. 15th special Clatskanie city council meeting called to discuss the jail closure, Mayor Diane Pohl and Police Chief Marvin Hoover expressed their opposition to the proposal, which Pohl called, “a pending disaster.”

Mayor Pohl also pointed out that county residents in municipalities pay taxes which support the sheriff’s department as well as city police departments, but do not receive benefits from sheriff’s patrols.

Chief Hoover explained at length that the closure of the jail will cripple law enforcement agencies’ abilities to enforce the law, including both city and county departments.

Although neither Sheriff Dickerson nor the county commissioners have publicly announced cuts to the patrol division, Dickerson has proposed increasing the sheriff’s department’s combined jail and patrol budget to 38 percent of the county’s general fund budget, a $1.9 million increase according to figures presented by the sheriff.

Besides the sheriff’s department, the county’s general budget of $11 million funds the assessor’s department, land development, district attorney’s office (along with some statefunding), and a variety of administrative functions. Roads, parks, community corrections and several other county functions have designated revenue sources outside the general fund.

Mayor Pohl advocates outsourcing the building permit function of the land development department.

If funding is not secured the jail will close by June 30, according to Chief Hoover’s report.

Mayor Pohl urged area residents to attend Thursday’s meeting. Councilor Kathy Engel said, “There has to be a political will, the (county commissioners) have to hear from voters.”

Councilor Jim Morgan said, “The most constructive thing citizens can do is make the commissioners as uncomfortable as possible.”

Crowd Gathers for Methanol Presentation

by Deborah Steele Hazen

An overflow crowd gathered at the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD) meeting room Jan. 23 to hear a presentation from Northwest Innovation Works LLC, regarding its proposal to build a two-phase, total $1.8 billion methanol plant at the Port Westward industrial park near Clatskanie.

The presentation came at a meeting of the Port of St. Helens board of commissioners. The Port district owns the Port Westward property.

As reported in the Jan. 23rd issue of The Chief, Northwest Innovation Works LLC, is proposing to build a twophase methanol manufacturing plant at Port Westward. The first phase represents a $1 billion investment, and the second phase is valued at approximately $800,000. Each phase would employ approximately 120 permanent workers.

Additionally, according to the presentation given by Northwest Innovation Works president Vee Godley at last week’s Port commission meeting, about 1,000 union construction workers would be employed during the two to three year construction process. Hundreds of indirect jobs would also be associated with the plant, providing ancillary services, etc.

Godley noted that the project is facing a “complex permitting process.” It is hoped  to have the permits in 12 to 18 months, immediately start breaking ground, and begin operating the first phase in early 2018, he said.

The second phase at Port Westward would begin to be constructed soon after the first phase goes on-line.

The proposed methanol plant would not use the railroad.

In addition to the two phases planned for Port Westward, the company has announced a third phase to be built in Kalama – another $1 billion investment.

Godley emphasized that the two sites, and other unannounced sites under consideration are not in competition with each other.

Chinese Connection

Northwest Innovation Works is owned by Clean Energy Technology, a joint venture between the Chinese government’s China Academy of Sciences (CAS) and British Petroleum (BP).

CAS has the need for up to 10 “phases” of methanol production in the Pacific Northwest, Godley explained, to supply manufacturing plants in China with methanol and replace some of the coal-based methanol plants now operating in China.

The methane (wood alcohol) is made through a process using natural gas, and the pipeline currently serving other industries at Port Westward is sufficient to supply the first phase of the plant, Godley said.

The methane manufactured here will be shipped – two Panamax-class ships per week – from Port Westward to the city of Dalian, China which is building eight million tons of methanol storage capacity. The company emphasizes that the plant “will create value-added manufacturing jobs, consistent with the Northwest’s strong manufacturing and export economy.”

Methanol is used to produce olefin, a key compound employed in the manufacturing of numerous products from plastic water bottles to cell phone cases to polyester carpets, according to an information sheet offered to those attending the Jan. 23rd meeting. “Olefin can also be produced with petroleum and from coal. Replacing oil and coal with olefin derived from methane made from natural gas reduces carbon emissions by as much as 70 percent,” according to the company.

Safety Questions

Several members of the public at last week’s meeting asked questions about the safety of methanol which is “routinely manufactured, stored and transported across the globe without harm to people or the environment. It can be stored at ambient temperatures and does not require pressurization,” according to the company’s fact sheet.

Methanol is flammable, but is rated among the least dangerous of “hazardous materials,” said Northwest Innovation Works vice president Joe Smith, a certified “haz mat” incident commander and instructor. Methanol is a light and colorless liquid that evaporates in air. It is water soluable and biodegradable.

The proposed plant site is located on property that was not part of the original Beaver Army ammunition depot, but was purchased about a decade ago by the Summit Westward project, which did not come to fruition. The Port of St. Helens then purchased the property. It is not part of the land under long-term lease to Portland General Electric and it is not part of the former Greenwood Resources property, also purchased by the Port, which is up for rezoning.

The proposed site of the methanol plant is already zoned heavy industrial. It is located about 1,000 yards (over half a mile) southeast of the Global Partners Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery and even farther from PGE’s power generating facilities at Port Westward.

The plant, which will operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week, will be totally enclosed from the natural gas input pipeline, to distillation, through storage and transport. The methanol manufacturing facilities will connect to underground natural gas piplines, and the methanol will travel via a closed pipeline to be loaded onto bulk liquid carrier ships at the Port Westward dock.

Job Information

In their interview last week with The Chief, the developers said that approximately 30 to 40 percent of the total 240 employees (120 per phase) would be managers, chemists and engineers, most of whom would be moving to the area. The rest would be hired locally. All of the jobs would be “good, family wage jobs,” meeting the state’s definition of that term, Godley said.

Pressed for more exact information about wage scale levels as well as numerous other questions about the project, the developers promised to create a question and answer sheet and circulate it through its website, the Port of St. Helens website, and media outlets.

As of Chief presstime on Tuesday night, that question and answer sheet was not yet available.

Numerous of those in attendance also spoke in favor of the project.

After the presentation, Godley and other representatives of the company met informally with members of the public in the PUD’s lunch room, while the Port commission finished its meeting.

Port Commission May Consider Lease Option at Feb. 12 Meeting

A resolution authorizing the Port to enter into an option to lease agreement with Northwest Innovation Works, LLC may be considered at the Port commission’s Feb. 12th meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the Port of St. Helens office at 100 E Street in Columbia City.

Port commission president Robert Keyser invited the public to send comments to the Port of St. Helens at P.O. Box 190, Columbia City, OR 97018, or via the Port’s website at http://www.portsh.org/contact.php.

Clatskanie School District Hears Assessment Reports

by Adam J. Wehrley

The Clatskanie School District (CSD) board of directors held a workshop meeting Monday, Jan. 27, to hear a presentation on recent student achievement data, on Common Core Standards and the new Smarter Balanced testing system.

Teachers and staff were invited to the workshop and partnered with board members during exercises and discussions.

The presentation was given by Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) director of board development Peggy Holstedt and OSBA board development specialist Renee Sessler.

Before reporting on CSD specifically, th3 presentation covered various levels of assessment, both formal and observational used by teachers throughout the school year. These included the end-of-the-year state-mandated assessment tests,  in-class testing and observations which allow teachers to respond to student progress on a day-to-day basis.

Holstedt explained how the board could use assessments to make decisions on allocating funds and personnel resources to meet student achievement goals.

She also stressed the need to ensure that curriculum was aligned to meet the standards the tests assess.

Holstedt spoke about the need to adjust education to the rapidly changing workforce requirements and increasing expectations that job-seekers have either college or vocational training prior to entering the workforce.

She explained that the Common Core Standards adopted by more than 40 states do not, in themselves, dictate how the standards are taught, nor limit instruction to only meeting the base standards.

The current Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) assessment tests will be replaced by the Smarter Balanced assessments for the 2014-15 school year.

Sessler presented much of the information on the recent assessments of CSD students. She emphasized that tests gave only a “snapshot” of student achievement at a specific time.

Clatskanie students exceeded state averages in eight of the 14 test groups for reading and math during the 2012-13 school year.

Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) third, fourth and fifth grade students exceeded the state average of students meeting or exceeding the reading and math standards by between nine and 17 percentage points.

CSD students in sixth, seventh and eighth lagged behind state averages in both reading and math, although sixth-grade reading scores were only two points behind the state average.

Less than 50 percent of CSD sixth, seventh and eighth grade students met or exceeded state math standards.

Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) Principal Amy McNeil explained that the district’s math curriculum at the time was not aligned with state-mandated assessments so students were not tested on what they had been taught.

In the reading assessment, 86 percent of CMHS 11th graders met or exceeded the standards, compared to 85 percent of student statewide. This was the most consistently met or exceeded standard.

The same class of 11th graders fell 13 points behind the state average. Superintendant Lloyd Hartley said that math standards for 11th graders and as a condition of graduation were being implemented this school year.

CMHS councilor Rhonda Stecker said that 12th-grade students who had not yet passed the standards would be reassessed prior to graduation.

Holstedt suggested that the CSD board make student assessment updates and discussions a regular portion of meetings.

Branches Etched Against a Winter Sunset

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THE BARE WINTER BRANCHES of trees on the Rainier School District’s Briarcliff campus were etched against the sky during a winter sunset last week. Chief Photo by Amanda Gail Moravec

 

 

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