HANDS UP HIGH WITH THE SIGN for love, respect and acceptance, Clatskanie Middle School students, staff and community members posed for a group picture Thursday, March 13, after a day-long Challenge Day program aimed at inspiring participants to live, study and work in accordance with “the golden rule.” See the Trident at left for more information about the Challenge Days that were offered last week to all students and staff at Clatskanie Middle/High School. Chief Photo by Amanda Gail Moravec
by Deborah Steele Hazen
Columbia River Fire and Rescue (CRFR) district has placed a $15 million general obligation bond issue on the May 20th ballot.
If approved by voters, the bonds, not to exceed $15 million, will be used to purchase equipment, finance station improvements and refinance an outstanding bond.
CRFR provides firefighting and emergency medical response to the St. Helens and Rainier areas as far west as the Alston’s Corner area between Rainier and Clatskanie.
According to the ballot summary filed with the Columbia County Clerk’s Office Monday, the funds raised through the bond would:
• Acquire new and replacement fire apparatus, ambulances, rescue vehicles and other related equipment.
• Acquire safety equipment including self-contained breathing apparatus, protective clothing, radios and other safety equipment.
• Make station improvements, including seismic upgrades at the Rainier Station, expansion and seismic upgrades of the Fairgrounds Station, and other station improvments.
• Refinance outstanding obligations of the District related to the construction of the Lee Broadbent Training center.
• Pay associated bond insurance costs.
It is planned to issue the bonds in increments and keep the additional cost to the district’s property taxpayers at no more than 30 cents per $1,000 ($30 on a $100,000 home), a district spokesperson said. The bonds would mature in 20 years or less.
A three-year option levy to keep the Columbia County jail open and operating was expected to be filed before the deadline for measures for the May 20th ballot this Thursday, March 20.
After receiving input from Columbia County citizens, and hundreds of signatures asking them to put a jail operating levy back on the ballot, the Columbia County board of commissioners agreed last month to do so.
In 1998, county voters approved construction of a new jail with a 255-bed capacity. It was stated and publicized at the time that an operating levy would be necessary at some point.
Since the new jail opened in 2001, it has been operated with money from the county’s general fund and additional revenues from renting beds to other jurisdictions.
However, the cost to supervise, feed, clothe and provide health care for the inmate population has increased each year, while the general fund budget has significantly decreased.
Because of the lack of funds to supervise and house more prisoners, the jail capacity for Columbia County inmates was lowered to 65 last year, and is just 25 this year. Other arrestees are booked and released.
It is expected that if voters, who turned down a similar four-year levy last November, again defeat the proposed three-year levy, the Columbia County Jail will close, and about 10 beds for the worst offenders will be rented in Polk County.
The proposed levy of approximately 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed value ($58 for a $100,000 property) would restore 75 beds for a total of 100 beds for local prisoners. It would also fund six additional corrections deputies and one supervisory position, and provide constitutionally-required food, clothing, management and health care to inmates.
The estimated money raised would be $2,287,572 in fiscal year (FY) 2014-15, $2,356,199 in FY 2015-16, and $2,426,885 in FY 2016-17 – a total of $7,070,656.
Since the filing deadline for candidates March 11, William “Bill” Allen has withdrawn as a candidate for Columbia County Commissioner, Position 2.
That position is currently held by Commissioner Henry Heimuller of St. Helens, who is being challenged by Wayne Mayo of Scappoose.
The other two county commission positions, held by Tony Hyde and Earl Fisher, are not up for election this year.
Three candidates are seeking Position 1 on the Columbia County Circuit Court, which was vacated last year by the retirement of longtime Judge Steven B. Reed.
Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Jean Marie Martwick to fill the vacancy and she is seeking re-election. Also vying for the judgeship are attorneys Jason A. Heym of Scappoose, and Cathleen B. Callahan of Rainier.
For the other two circuit court positions, Judge Ted Grove and Judge Jenefer S. Grant are unopposed for re-election to their positions 2 and 3.
Longtime Columbia County Clerk Elizabeth “Betty” Huser is running for re-election, but is being challenged by Brady N. Preheim of Scappoose.
Other Columbia County positions on the May ballot are uncontested.
Incumbent Sue Martin is unopposed for county assessor.
Justice of the Peace Wallace “Wally” Thompson is unopposed for re-election, as is District Attorney Stephen Atchison.
by Adam J. Wehrley
Cooperative agreements with Georgia-Pacific (GP) and a legislative update from Mark Kreutzer of the Oregon Fire District Directors Association (OFDDA) highlighted conversations at the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District’s (CRFPD) business meeting Wednesday, March 12.
GP’s Wauna mill contacted the CRFPD to contract for paramedic coverage during a planned maintenance shutdown in May. Under the requested contract the paramedics would be stationed at the mill outside their regular shifts so there would be no reduction in coverage for residents.
GP would pay overtime and other costs. Exact details are being developed.
Mill fire brigade training was also discussed. As were cooperative drills.
CRFPD staff recently toured the mill to better familiarize themselves with its layout and potential hazards.
In a related conversation, CRFPD director Robert Keyser requested that the district’s 2014-15 budget have separate line-items distinguishing overtime payments for contracted services, training, extended leave and conflagrations in order to determine how much overtime pay was recovered from outside the district. Keyser proposed investigating a part-time employee to fill staffing needs outside regular shifts if overtime costs warranted it.
Volunteers and Employee Status
Kreutzer reported on recent assurances from the federal government that fire volunteers would not be counted as employees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and districts would not be required to provide health care coverage to volunteers. This had been a concern for volunteer districts nation-wide, many of which operate on limited budgets which could not absorb health care costs.
He also noted that because various state and federal agencies define employees and volunteers differently fire districts have difficulties establishing incentive programs that comply with all regulations. He said that CRFPD uses a program widely recognized by these agencies.
Division Officer Dan Hires reported that CRFPD is working with Clatskanie High School to re-establish the firefighter explorer program for the 2014-15 school year.
Specifications for the purchase of a new ambulance are nearing completion.
It was reported that two volunteers had completed a recent recruit academy and two more are enrolled currently.
Two new restrictions are in place at Jones Beach, the popular fishing and recreational beach, along the Columbia River west of Clatskanie.
Under new rules adopted by the Department of State Lands (DSL), the beach is closed for all uses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily throughout the year.
All-terrain vehicles, as defined in state law (ORS 801.190-194), are prohibited.
Exceptions are listed in Oregon Admnistrative Rules (OAR) 141-088-0190 (government-owned vehicles on official business; street-legal class II all-terrain vehicles during open use hours; public and private vehicles performing company business; vehicles involved in rescue or emergency activities; district-authorized persons and landowners inspecting or maintaining levees and fences).
Jones Beach is under the jurisdiction of the State Land Board and DSL. The board adopted the new rules in 2013 in response to comments from nearby property owners and local law enforcement about illegal activities and habitat damage from vehicles.
The rulemaking process was publicized in front page articles in The Chief last year.
The DSL is in the process of installing signs at Jones Beach, informing the public of the new restrictions. Violators are subject to citation for criminal trespass and other penalties.
VOLUNTEER SERVERS at the Clatskanie Senior Center Irish Stew Colcannon “FUNraiser” held Monday evening, St. Patrick’s Day, were members of the Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) National Honor Society: Jewell Penn, German George, Tommy Miller, Lynn Siltala, and Alayna Seely. They are pictured at The Castle just prior to the event standing left to right around the center’s chef Susan “Susie” Lyons and Bertie Barr Smith the creator of the Key Lime cake (an old family recipe) with key lime cream cheese frosting, topped with strawberries, kiwis and whipped cream.
Castle volunteers Renée Swartz, Sandy Jones and Barbara Ekwall decorated the lunchroom with a St. Patrick’s Day theme earlier that afternoon and the floral centerpieces on the tables were donated by Donna Herber. Rebecca Fisher-Jolma lined up the student servers with the help of CMHS National Honor Society faculty advisor Marc Brewer, Jeff and Joy Green were also on hand accomplishing last minute tasks.
“We thank all the volunteers who stepped forward making this gathering such a success in raising much needed funds enabling the senior center to flourish here at The Castle,” said Bes Savage, the center’s treasurer and the director of the Flippin Castle National Historic Site, who spearheaded the fundraiser.
This activity received support from an Oregon Cultural Trust 2013-14 grant administered through the Columbia County Cultural Coalition. Chief Photo by Ernest A. Carman
With the official arrival of spring this week, the Clatskanie Chamber of Commerce has announced its Spring Spectacular Shopping Spree with over 30 participating businesses and offices.
The shop locally promotion begins Friday, March 21, and will continue through Monday, May 12, the day after Mother’s Day.
During that time, those who shop at over 30 participating local businesses and offices (see pages 4 and 5) will receive “SPRING” cards with 30 boxes on them. For each $10 spent, store personnel will mark a box. In the case of financial institutions and the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD), one box will be marked per transaction. (Purchases of lottery tickets are excluded.)
Completed “SPRING” cards should be turned in to the Clatskanie PUD office at 495 E. Columbia River Highway by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 12, to be eligible for a drawing for a first prize of $100, $50 and $30 in Chamber Checks, which can be used like cash at Clatskanie businesses.
Participating businesses are: Clatskanie Floral, M&N Workwear, Discounts & Deals, Cronies, Sterling Bank, Wauna Credit Union, Flowers ‘N Fluff, Colvin’s Pub & Grill, City of Clatskanie, Quincy Greenhouse, Fultano’s Pizza, Jim’s Garage, Johnson Family Feed, Hazen Hardware, Clatskanie Builders Supply, NAPA Quality Auto, Clatskanie PUD, Hi-School Pharmacy, Singing Dog Jewelry, The Hair Place, The Quilted Dandelion, Clatkanie River Inn, The Bag Ladies Yarn Shop, Clatskanie Market, Subway, Clatskanie Mini Storage, State Farm Insurance, Bundy’s, Conestoga Pub & Grill, U.S. Bank, and The Clatskanie Chief.
If customers don’t receive “SPRING” cards from participating businesses while shopping, they are encouraged to ask for them.