July, 2014

Live Bluegrass Music, Quilt Show and Book Sale Highlight Events in Clatskanie This Weekend


PICKERS, PLUCKERS AND STRUMMERS from across the western U.S. started rolling into the Clatskanie City Park this week for the 19th annual Clatskanie Blue Grass Festival. Pictured from left are: Rick Watson of Tustin, Calif., on dobro; Mac Wilcox of Clatskanie on mandolin, and  Wayne Kees of Gig Harbor, Wash., on banjo.  Chief Photos by Adam J. Wehrley


DISPLAYING THE CREATIVITY OF THEIR CRAFT, quilt show organizers and participants prepared for the Clatskanie Quilt Show this weekend which includes dozens of quilts displayed through out town. Pictured from left are: Pam Frazier, Polly Gibson and Desma Switzer with The Quilted Dandelion’s mascot Millie.


VOLUNTEERS OF ALL AGES help packing and organizing books for the Clatskanie Friends of the Library Buck-a-Book sale this weekend.

Bluegrass bands from around the Northwest will be performing in the Clatskanie city park for the 19th annual Clatskanie Bluegrass Festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1, 2 and 3.

Coinciding with the festival this weekend will be the Clatskanie Quilt Show on Friday and Saturday at the American Legion Hall, the Friends of the Library Buck-a-Book sale Thursday through Saturday at the Clatskanie Library, and an outdoor bazaar presented by the Clatskanie Garden Club in the parking lot of Umpqua Bank.

More details on each event are listed below.

Bluegrass Festival 

Live bluegrass music is planned on-stage Friday afternoon and evening starting at 2 p.m., all day Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the exception of a break from 4 to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 12 noon.

Bands headlining for this year are Great Northern Planes, Misty Mamas, The Loafers, Hardshell Harmony, Slipshod and Thirdstreet Bluegrass.

Friday’s schedule is open mic, 2-4 p.m.; Hardshell Harmony, 5 p.m.; Slipshod, 6 p.m.; Thirdstreet Bluegrass, 7 p.m., and Great Northern Planes, 8 p.m.

Saturday features open mic, 10 a.m.-12 noon; The Loafers, 12 noon; Misty Mamas, 1 p.m.; Hardshell Harmony, 2 p.m.; Slipshod, 3 p.m.; The Loafers, 5 p.m.; Thirdstreet Bluegrass, 6 p.m.; Misty Mamas, 7 p.m., and Great Northern Planes, 8 p.m.

Sunday features gospel music with the Alder Creek band at 10 a.m., and another band at 11 a.m. to be announced.

There are no admission charges for members of the public attending the festival.

A chili feed featuring corn on the cob and cornbread was planned in the park on Thursday, July 31, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Pancake breakfasts will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. during the festival.

Clatskanie Quilt Show 

The Clatskanie Quilt Show will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 930 NE 5th Street.

In lieu of admission, donations will be accepted for Clatskanie’s food bank, Turning Point Community Services Center.

A scavenger hunt involving various local businesses is planned during the quilt show. Pick up maps at the Legion Hall.

Show sponsors include The Bag Ladies Yarn Shop, Bergman Construction, Bundy’s, Carla’s Closet, The Chief, Clatskanie City Hall, Clatskanie Computers, Clatskanie Market/Radio Shack, Clatskanie River Inn, Colvin’s Pub & Grill, Cronies, Discounts & Deals, Flowers ‘N Fluff, Fultano’s Pizza Parlor, Gun & Boot & Gear, Hazen Hardware, Hump’s Restaurant, Ixtapa, Johnson Feed Store, Jo’s Country Market, Nancy Williamson Framing & Fibers, The Quilted Dandelion, Singing Dog Jewelry, Stitchen Custom Embroidery, Summa Real Estate, Windermere Real Estate and Your Finishing Touch.

For more information about the show, call The Quilted Dandelion at 503 728-0626 or e-mail inquiries to

Buck-A-Book Sale Thursday-Saturday

The annual Buck-A-Book Sale at the Clatskanie Library will be the library’s biggest fundraising sale ever, according to a Friends of the Library spokesperson.

The sale will be held Thursday and Friday, July 31 and Aug. 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the library, located at 11 Lillich Street. The sale will end on Saturday with closeout prices from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a “buck-a-box or bag.”

Free lemonade will be available to shoppers at the sale.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards children’s programs at the library. Raffle tickets to win a Schwinn touring bike will also be for sale.

Clatskanie Woman Stabs Husband

by Adam J. Wehrley

Suffering from stab wounds, James Mitchell, 43 of Clatskanie was hospitalized Monday morning, July 28, following an altercation with his wife Tracy Mitchell at a third party’s residence on Co-op Road north of Clatskanie.

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson confirmed that Mr. Mitchell was at the home with the consent of a resident who was present at the time of the assault, but not identified in reports.

Deputies responded to the home on a disturbance call, and learned that Ms. Mitchell had stabbed her husband. She was reportedly driving him to the hospital when deputies caught up with the vehicle. Medics then transport Mr. Mitchell to St. John Medical Center.

Ms. Mitchell is charged with Assault in the First Degree, Burglary First Degree and Menacing. Sheriff Dickerson said the menacing charge “can be construed as related to Mr. Mitchell and/or to the resident of the home.”

He also explained, “Oregon’s burglary statutes (ORS 164.215-225) describe the crime of burglary as a ‘person [who] enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein.’ While that crime is often theft, in this case, the crimes were assault and menacing.”

CPUD Proposes Up to 17.75 Percent Increase, $15 Million in Debt

by Adam J. Wehrley

The proposed institution of base service charges accompanied by power usage rate increases occupied the concluding discussions of the Clatskanie People’s Utility District’s (CPUD) two-day strategic planning workshop July 22-23.

CPUD power management staff proposed taking out $15 million in bonded debt to fund capital projects and payoff an existing line of credit. The bond payments would be covered by the proposed rate increase and/or base service charges.

The proposals will add $9 million to CPUD’s $21 million in debt and could raise residential power rates by up to 17.75 percent, with additional increases passed down from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) next year. Base service charges between $10 and $15 in conjunction with smaller rate increases were also proposed to fund the capital projects.

While CPUD director Marc Farmer stated he preferred a combination of increased power rates and a base charge, no formal recommendation was made to the board. CPUD residential customers pay no fixed base rate fees, but Farmer noted that the Oregon average is about $36 per month to fund supply infrastructure needed whether an individual customer used any power in a given month or not.

Senior Power Analyst Paul Dockery presented several scenarios based on paying for 50 percent of capital improvement needs over the next five to 10 years with bonds taken out this year. A line of credit for $6 million, due in June of 2017, also would be refinanced under the new bonds.

In order to maintain bond ratings with the higher debt load, CPUD would increase its cash holdings to at least $12.5 million, a quarter of its annual operating budget of approximately $50 million. The various proposals discussed showed up to $18 million in cash reserves accompanying the $15 million bonds to fund half of the $2 million in improvements each year.

No proposals were made suggesting the improvements, which amount to four percent of the current budget, being funded through increases to the general fund.

CPUD has $15 million in additional debt for work at the Bradbury and Conyers substations and related transmission lines serving Port Westward. Global Partners, which owns the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery, has been paying $50,000 per month for equipment installed by the PUD inside the ethanol plant. If it receives permits to expand its operations, Global is expected to pay off the remaining debt to the PUD of approximately $2 million.

Of the $6 million line of credit due in June of 2017, $4 million in debt was incurred to build the CPUD headquarters and shop. The total cost of the facility was about $11.2 million, $9.5 million for buildings and contents, $1.7 million towards land and land improvements.


The Chief mistakenly reported the cost of the headquarters complex as $14 million instead of $11.2 million including contents,  in last week’s issue and in an article in the Feb. 27, 2014 edition.

The remaining $2 million in the line of credit funded the first phase of upgrades to the transmission system between Clatskanie and Wauna, necessitated at the time by reliability concerns with the BPA system. Operations and engineering director Charlie O’Hare explained that BPA improvements made since have reduced the priority of completing the final two stages of that project.

O’Hare explained the $2 million-per-year capital improvement plan (CIP) calls for numerous small projects throughout the CPUD system rather than one large project.

A variety of improvements are planned at CPUD substations in Delena, Wauna and Rainier at a cost of about $1.46 million over three years.

Underground cables with aluminum neutrals will be replaced for $750,000 over five years.

Converting some overhead lines to underground, will cost about $750,000.

The replacement of feeder line A, from Wauna to Clatskanie will cost $1.176 million.

Scheduled replacement of vehicles and heavy equipment is estimated to cost between $80,000 and $320,000 annually depending on which vehicles are due for replacement in a given year.

A pilot program to explore automated metering infrastructure (AMI) is scheduled to begin in 2015 at a cost of $50,000. If deemed beneficial, the AMI program is estimated to cost $1.6 million.

O’Hare noted that along with labor savings, AMI would also allow CPUD to pinpoint the cause of outages more quickly by instantly identifying which customers lose power. Several configurations of AMI systems are available and O’Hare said these are being explored.

Critics of AMI have called to question its cost effectiveness for utilities with low numbers of customers.

The CPUD board was split on the question of bonding capital projects for five or 10 years in advance.

CPUD is awaiting the results of a rate analysis, which will be presented at the August 20th board workshop. It was announced that the board will not take action on rate increases at the August board meeting.

Press Release From CPUD

CPUD issued the following press release about the strategic planning session:

“The Clatskanie People’s Utility District Board of directors and management staff completed a two day strategic planning session held at Hump’s in Clatskanie on July 22nd and 23rd, 2014.  Arnie Winkler from the Northwest Public Power Association served as the facilitator for the planning sessions. He guided the board and staff through several brain storming activities to help determine the PUD’s strategic objectives for the next few years.

“The financial health of Clatskanie PUD was the top priority along with continued emphasis on providing excellent customer service. The strategic objectives also known as ‘Key Results Areas’ (KRA) were narrowed down to the following categories: Financial Health, Employee Relations, Customer Service, Reliability, Safety, and Operational Excellence. The board and staff have more work to do on finalizing the details of what indicators and goals will be set for each category, so that the success of the action plan can be measured. The strategic plan will serve as a management tool to help Clatskanie PUD stay focused and effectively use the energy, resources, and time of everyone in the organization to work together to meet common goals.  Input will be gathered from all CPUD employees, and opportunities for public comment and input on the draft plan will be provided as well. Once the strategic plan is finalized it will be published in the Ruralite Magazine, The Chief newspaper and on the CPUD website ( This plan will provide a blueprint for making informed decisions about the future, and to guide the utility’s goals and core values.

“The afternoon of the second day of the strategic planning session was dedicated to working with the new District Planning Model (DPM) that was developed by Paul Dockery, CPUD Senior Power Analyst.  Eric Hiaasen, Energy Resources & Services Manager, and Dockery presented several financial scenarios using CPUD’s current financial situation and projected costs, power sales and projected revenue based on the annual hydro being at, below, or above average. Dockery stated, ‘The DPM is a complicated model, because we are in a complicated business. Revenues from power sales are largely dependent on weather patterns each year and one bad water year can have a dramatic effect on our financials.’ The model shows that Clatskanie PUD will need to increase rates to provide the financial stability necessary for successful operations of the PUD by: providing funds for capital improvements to the system for reliability, maintaining an adequate bond rating to continue to have access to low-interest funds, and providing adequate cash flow to pay our monthly bills.

“A rate analysis will be presented along with several rate increase options for the Board’s consideration at the August 20, 2014 Board Workshop. Discussions will be held on how much of a rate increase is needed, if the increase should be done in one year or be broken up in two parts over the next two years, and the best way to implement the increase between a possible fixed charge and kWh usage. The board will not take action at the August board meeting on the rates; it will only be a discussion item.”


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