ENTHUSIASM UN-DAMPENED BY THE RAIN, shone on the faces of Clatskanie youngsters as hundreds of residents gathered Saturday morning, April 19, for the Clatskanie Kiwanis Club’s annual Easter egg hunt. Eggs covering the Clatskanie Middle/High School football and baseball fields were snatched up in minutes by the pouncing children. Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley
by Deborah Steele Hazen
Ballots for the May 20th primary election will be mailed next Wednesday, April 30.
On the Columbia County ballot are four non-partisan, county-wide offices, plus three Columbia County Circuit Court seats, and a Columbia County Jail operating levy.
The Columbia County Jail is scheduled to close June 30, unless the three year local option levy for jail operations is passed. It would add 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed value ($58 on a $100,000 home) to property taxes for three years beginning in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The estimated money raised will be $2,287,572 in the first year, $2,356,199 in fiscal year 2015-16, and $2,426,885 in the 2016-17 fiscal year, for a total of $7,070,656.
The jail operating levy would allow for the operation of a total of 100 beds for Columbia County prisoners, including those arrested by city police forces. It would fund six additional corrections deputies and one supervisory position, and provide constitutionally required food, clothing, management and health care to inmates.
With rising personnel costs, major decreases in the county general fund from the loss of federal (O&C) timber payments to counties and declining property tax revenues, the county has only been able to have 25 beds for local inmates operating this year, down from 65 last year, resulting in many arrestees being cited and released. There are also some federal prisoners housed at the Columbia County Jail and the fees received for them have helped subsidize the operation of the jail. But the number of rented beds are also declining.
If the operating levy fails, Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson has announced that the jail, built in 1998 with a capacity of 255 beds, will close and the county will rent 10 beds, probably in Polk County, for only the worst offenders.
Residents of the Columbia River Fire and Rescue district, which serves the Rainier and St. Helens areas, will be asked to approve $15 million in general obligation bonds to purchase equipment, including new and replacement fire apparatus, ambulances, rescue vehicles, and safety equipment such as self-contained breathing apparatus, protective clothing, and radios; make station improvements, including seismic upgrades at the Rainier fire station, plus expansion and seismic upgrades of the fairgrounds station.
Additionally, if approved by voters, the bonds would also allow for the refinancing of outstanding debt for the Lee Broadbent Training Center.
Races for County Offices
County offices up for election include Columbia County Commissioner Position 2, in which incumbent Henry B. Heimuller of St. Helens is being challenged by Wayne Mayo of Scappoose for a four-year term. William (Bill) Allen, of St. Helens, who had filed for the seat has withdrawn. If one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, that candidate is elected in the May primary.
Longtime County Clerk Elizabeth (Betty) Huser, of Scappoose, is being challenged by Brady N. Preheim, also of Scappoose. The county clerk’s position is a four-year term. Both candidates will be nominated in the primary election, and will appear again on the general election ballot in November.
County Assessor Sue Martin is unchallenged for re-election to another four-year term. Her election will be final in the primary.
Justice of the Peace Wallace E. Thompson, of St. Helens, is also unchallenged for another six year term.
Two Columbia County Circuit Court positions are also up for election.
Three attorneys are seeking Position 1 on the Columbia County Circuit Court, which was vacated last year by the retirement of longtime Judge Steven B. Reed. Jean Martwick, who was appointed last year to fill the vacancy is seeking re-election. She is being challenged by former Clatskanie attorney and city prosecutor Cathleen B. Callahan, of Rainier, and Jason A. Heym, of Scappoose.
Judge Ted. E. Grove is running unopposed for Position 2 on the Columbia County Circuit Court.
Judge Jenefer S. Grant, the incumbent in Position 3, is the only candidate on the ballot, but longtime St. Helens area attorney, Agnes “Aggie” Petersen, is staging a write-in campaign.
Certification Test, Drop Sites
The public is invited to the certification test of the counting equipment for the primary election on Tuesday, May 13, at 10 a.m. in the county elections department in the Columbia County Courthouse.
Those who do not wish to mail their ballots may drop them off between April 30 and May 20 at various sites throughout the county, including the Clatskanie Library, 11 Lillich Street; Rainier City Hall, 106 B St. West; Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District, 12525 Highway 202; Vernonia Library, 701 Weed Ave.; Scappoose City Hall, 33568 E. Columbia Ave., or the elections department at the county courthouse, 230 Strand Street in St. Helens.
The drop sites will open during regular office hours, and from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, May 20.
The county courthouse will also be open to receive ballots on Friday, May 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon, and on Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
A drive-by drop box is located in the lower parking lot of the courthouse.
by Deborah Steele Hazen
A $7,346,017 general fund budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year was presented to the Clatskanie School District budget committee at its first meeting Monday, April 21.
The budget continues the district’s trend of spending down its beginning and ending fund balances, “with a realization it is not sustainable in future years.”
However, Superintendent Lloyd Hartley stated in his budget message, “I do not recommend further cuts beyond what is already included in this budget.”
Enrollment, which impacts the district’s budget because it receives state funding on a per student basis, is projected to remain about steady.
The budget was built based on priorities of the school board and the staff, including providing full-day kindergarten, and an emphasis on academic and behavior interventions.
Positions lost at Clatskanie Middle/High School (CMHS) through attrition will not be replaced, including the vice principal’s position – former vice principal Amy McNeil was promoted to the principal’s position after the resignation of former principal Jeff Baughman. Also not to be replaced are the positions vacated by a half-time instructor, half-time counselor, and .3 FTE (full-time equivalent) English Language Learner teacher.
However, an academic dean position will be added at CMHS, in addition to the athletic dean position that was created after McNeil’s promotion. The academic dean will be responsible for student culture including displine and “pro-social teaching,” leadership, etc. An academic dean at CES will be responsible for the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and Response to Intervention (RTI) programs, plus curriculum alignment.
The changes will result in larger class sizes, Hartley said, including as many as 30 students in first grade classes at Clatskanie Elementary School (CES).
“That’s not ideal,” Dr. Hartley agreed. He said that a first/second grade split would be a possibility. “It’s something that the elementary staff will take a look at when we look at the kids more closely. We’ll figure that out together.”
At CMHS, which has had a number of small classes, the career/technical education classes are expected to be large. “We have some good elective choices, but there are going to be large classes.
Superintendent Hartley’s 2014-15 budget message reads, in part:
“This budget reflects the District’s priorities based on Board goals, a district-wide survey of priorities, and budget realities. Board goals are based on improving instruction, achievement through research based core curriculum, interventions and positive student behavior. The district-wide survey produced the following findings:
• Class size is the highest priority for both buildings.
• The next four priorities for CES were:
* Full Day Kindergarten
* Academic Interventions
* Behavior Interventions
* Curriculum/Staff Development.
• The next four priorities for CMHS were:
* Behavior Interventions
* Curriculum Alignment
* Career/Technical classes
“This budget also reflects the budget reality that CMHS class sizes under 15 (approximately 14 classes this year) and elementary class sizes of 20 and under (approximately 6 classes this year) are almost impossible to maintain in this economy. The other CES priorities are reflected in this budget by offering full-day Kindergarten and increasing support for interventions. The other CMHS priorities are reflected in this budget by re-organizing the administrative structure by utilizing more teacher/deans. The teacher workday changes (not reflected in this budget) include early release every Monday for both buildings to accommodate curriculum and staff development.
“This budget, as presented, shows a balanced budget of $7,346,017 for the General Fund. The beginning fund balance for July 1, 2014 is projected to be $342,556, with a projected ending fund balance for June 30, 2015 is $200,000. This means the District will continue to budget for deficit spending with a realization it is not sustainable in future years; however, I do not recommend further cuts beyond what is already included in this budget. For reflection, the 2013-14 budget started with a projected beginning fund balance of $800,000, and a projected ending fund balance of $200,000. In the future, the ending fund balance should be increased to the $350,000 to $450,000 range to maintain financial stability. This 2013-14 gap between beginning and ending fund balance is the main reason for the reductions this year.
“The 2014-2015 proposed budget reflects the following:
“Reductions in this budget include:
• Substitute costs for long-term sickness of employees.
• Budgeted reductions in Technology and Maintenance to more accurately reflect current spending.
• Posititons from attrition that are not being replaced include:
* 1.0 FTE (full-time equivalent) administrator at CMHS.
* 0.5 FTE CMHS instructor
* 0.5 FTE Counselor at CMHS; reduction from 1.5 to 1.0 FTE
* 0.3 FTE English Language Learner instructor.
“Additions to this budget:
• Increase one (and only) 11 month custodian at CMHS to a 12 month custodian.
• Increasing the CES library assistant .5 hours a day to be consistent with the CMHS library assistant.
• Increasing Elementary SPED (special education) from 1.5 FTE to 2.0 FTE to reflect current SPED demand.
“Modifications to budget line items include:
• Movement of 0.25 FTE of the Title I teacher to the General Fund to reflect responsibilities in non-Title areas.
• Movement of General Funded Educational Assistant (EA) position, currently located at CMHS, into a Title EA position at CES.
• Movement of Technology and Maintenance funds from the building level to the district levels.
“The impact of the above reductions results in a need to reconfigure current staff to fill the vacancies. The greatest impact will be moving some leadership/management duties from administration to teacher/deans. The deans will be scheduled from 0.5 FTE to 1.0 FTE outside of the classroom, depending on demand, class size and job duties.
• One academic dean at CMHS responsible for student culture including discipline and pro-social teaching.
• One athletic dean at CMHS responsible for student extra-curricular activities.
• One academic dean at CES responsible for Positive Behavior Support, Response to Intervention, and Curriculum Alignment.
“K-6 Impact: Two (2) teachers at each grade level at CES, with two (2) additional teachers to be assigned in the K-6 depending on class sizes and student/building need. This also reflects two full-time Kindergarten teachers for full day Kindergarten starting in the 2014-15 school year. The greatest impact of this shift will be larger class sizes in grades 1 and 6 with the potential for those grades to be over 30 students. Other classes will continue to average between 20 and 24 students in each class. This model also includes more support for reading interventions and continuing to improve student culture through positive behavior support. The current system without a dean of students is a ‘status-quo-system, and our K-6 staff know that student learning and pro-social behavior will increase with more time specifically dedicated to these areas.
“7-12 Impact: A loss of 1.5 FTE classroom teachers and 0.5 counselor will impact students with a reduction in some classes that had few students in them and have more teachers teach a wider range of students throughout grades 7-12. These losses are primarily due to budget reductions rather than the teacher/dean model.
“The Clatskanie School District is committed to continuing to provide a quality education for the students and a safe and friendly environment for the community at large.”
Immediately before the budget committee meeting, the school board reappointed Chris Boothe to a term on the budget committee.
Sarah Rice and Boothe were elected chair and co-chair of the district’s budget committee. Other lay members of the committee are Sonja Hummer and Elisha Shulda. One vacancy exists among the lay members of the committee.
The school board is down to three members, Megan Evenson, chair; Monty Akin and Valerie King. They also serve on the budget committee.
A regular meeting of the school board is set for Monday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the CES media center.
The next meeting of the budget committee is Monday, May 5, in the CES media center.
by Adam J. Wehrley
Enacting the maximum moratorium on medical marijuana facilities allowable by Oregon law, the Rainier city council, at its Monday, April 21st meeting, unanimously passed ordinance 1063 prohibiting the facilities until after May 1 2015.
After discussing the ordinance during its first reading earlier this month, the council passed it without further discussion.
While the state is starting the process of registering medical marijuana facilities, state law allows the one year moratorium for cities to study zoning laws related to the placement of such facilities.
During the moratorium, immunity from prosecution will not apply to operators of medical marijuana facilities within the city of Rainier as it does statewide.
With the moratorium, Rainier joins dozens of other municipalities including Clatskanie, Columbia City and St. Helens.
Port Application Discussed
Alston Corner resident Darrel Whipple addressed the council expressing the Port of St. Helens application for Port Westward to be designated a “regionally significant industrial area.”
The designation would expedite certain land use and permit processes for the area.
Port executive director Patrick Trapp presented documents from the state Economic Recovery Review Council (ERRC) describing the designation and confirmed the Port’s application.
Councilor Steve Massey asked Trapp to promise development would not interfere with adjacent agriculture. Whipple stated that the rezoning of agricultural land to industrial use would threaten local food supplies.
Trapp responded that the land in question has long been in poplar tree production and would remain so until developed, in agreement with the previous owners still managing the poplar.
Councilor Sloan Nelson stated that he had been told the designation would do away with public input on development.
Trapp assured the council that public input would still be sought and that the designation did not approve any specific use or industry or circumvent the permitting process by the Department of Environmental Quality, Division of State Lands, Oregon Department of Transportation or other agencies.
ERRC information including meeting times can be found at www.oregon4biz.com/ERRC/.
Trapp invited the council to suggest industrial sites within Rainier to be included in the Port’s application.
Month of HOPE Declared
Mayor Jerry Cole read a proclamation designating May 2014 the Month of HOPE, recognizing the contribution of Help Our People Eat of Rainier in providing food for residents struggling economically.
The mayor reminded those in attendance that the Rainier Clean-up Day Saturday, May 3, would accept food and cash donations to HOPE.
The council approved a date revision for commercial sewer rates to reflect billing cycles. Councilor Nelson declared a conflict of interest and abstained.
Property inspector Greg McFeron gave a report on the condition of several city buildings related to the water treatment system. The report addressed the properties and buildings only, not the treatment equipment. McFeron outlined several concerns including paint, damaged gutters, roofing and erosion of one building’s foundation.
The report will be used during the budgeting process to prioritize repairs.
Public works direct Jim Dahlquist reported that mapping, cleaning and inspection of sewer lines in downtown Rainier has been completed. A full report will be given by Gibbs and Olsen engineering at a future meeting.
Dahlquist said that the inspection discovered three manholes that had been paved over in the past.
He also reported that 85-90 percent of the wastewater treatment plant’s biosolids had been hauled during recent clear weather.
Hump’s Restaurant is scheduled to reopen Saturday, May 3, after a two year hiatus.
The landmark Clatskanie establishment has recently been purchased from retired owners Pam and Eric Sellix by Rob and Brenda Cameron, longtime residents of Clatskanie. The Camerons, both graduates of Rainier High School, plan a grand opening to commemorate the reopening of the restaurant that has provided meals and a meeting place to the residents and visitors of the community for over 60 years.
The Camerons hope to continue to provide a place for meetings, weddings, parties, banquets, rallies, reunions and other gatherings as well as a place of local employment, just as the restaurant has provided for decades.
“So many of those we have talked to regarding the reopening of Hump’s have been truly excited and very supportive of our efforts! They want to see it return as a centerpiece of the community” according to Rob.
Meals will include breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring Northwest cuisine. Halibut fish and chips, clam chowder, chicken fried steak, apple pie and biscuits with sausage gravy will be featured on the menu.
The lounge will offer local Oregon Pinots and Washington Rieslings among the featured wines and ales, in addition to traditional distilled spirits.
The 144-seat restaurant overlooking the Clatskanie River is equipped with an elevator that provides accessibility to the second floor banquet facilities offering seating for up to 80.
The Camerons have been involved in food service and business management since the early 1970s. Rob grew up working and managing at the former Riverview Restaurant and Lounge in Rainier, which was built and owned by his stepmother, Barbara and her mother Laura Kayser in 1970. Brenda also worked in food service throughout the 1990s in the local area.
In 1947, Forris Humphrey purchased the Brach’s Candy and Soda Fountain location in downtown Clatskanie, where he opened the original Hump’s. With the construction of the “new” highway, Forris and his wife Rachel built a ‘50s style “drive-in” and diner in 1956 at the current site at the intersection of Highway 30 and Nehalem Street, and moved Hump’s there. It continued to expand over the years.
Pam Sellix, daughter of Forris and Rachel, worked in the restaurant while growing up. She and her husband Eric took over the business in 1978. A fire burned the building to the ground in 1989, but the Sellixes rebuilt an 11,000 square-foot facility and opened it the following year.
“Meet and Greet” Candidates Friday in St. Helens
An opportunity to “meet and greet” candidates running for non-partisan positions in Columbia County is set Friday, April 25, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Village Inn, 535 S. Columbia River Highway in St. Helens.
All interested citizens are encouraged to attend, meet and ask questions of the candidates. Food and beverages will be available on a no-host basis.
Candidates who have been invited to the “meet and greet” are:
For Circuit Court Judge Position 1: Jean Martwick, Cathleen Callahan, Jason Heym.
For Circuit Court Judge Position 3: Jenefer Grant and Agnes Peterson.
For County Commissioner Position 2: Henry Heimueller and Wayne Mayo.