Friday, November 04, 2011

Special Election Ballots Due Back Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Friday, Nov. 4, 2011


Time is running out to return ballots for the Nov. 8 special primary election.

Ballots for the election must be returned by 8 p.m. Tuesday in order to be counted. To ensure their ballots arrive on time, voters are advised to bring completed ballots to one of the approved drop sites. Ballots placed in the mail before the deadline but not delivered until after will not be counted.

Completed ballots can be dropped at the following sites:

· Clatsop County Clerk’s Office, Public Services Building, 820 Exchange St., Astoria -or- 24-hour drop box in front of office.

· Cannon Beach City Hall, 163 Gower St., Cannon Beach

· Gearhart City Hall, 696 Pacific Way, Gearhart

· Seaside City Hall, 989 Broadway, Seaside

· Warrenton City Hall, 225 S. Main Ave., Warrenton

· Knappa High School, 41535 Old Highway 30, Knappa

· Mist-Birkenfeld Fire Hall, 12525 Oregon Highway 202

· Clatskanie Library, 11 Lillich St., Clatskanie

For more information contact the Clerk and Elections Office at (503) 325-8511 or go to the Clatsop County website, and click on “Nov. 8, 2011 Special Primary Election.”

Released by:
Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 338-3622

Clatsop Emergency Services Coordinator, Gene Strong Retires

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011


When the next emergency strikes Clatsop County, local officials will be better prepared to respond, thanks in large part to the work of outgoing Emergency Services Coordinator Gene Strong.

Strong is retiring from the position early next year after managing the county’s emergency preparedness efforts for six and a half years. Strong’s last day with the county will be Jan. 31, and the county hopes to have a new emergency services manager hired by that time so the transition is as seamless as possible.

Strong already had one full career behind him when he joined the county in 2004, having retired just the year before after 20 years as Sheriff of Wahkiakum County, Wash. His long experience proved extremely useful for the Clatsop County position.

“When I started I had a vision of taking an agency from the ground up, and I had the opportunity to do that,” Strong said. “It’s been a fun challenge.

When he came on board Clatsop County’s emergency management program was largely inactive and had lost what little state funding it had been receiving. Strong worked to improve communications infrastructure, gain outside funding and in general get the office “back on track.”

Sheriff Tom Bergin said Strong made the Emergency Management office one of the most efficient in the state.

“With Gene’s knowledge and vast amount of contacts he has put us in a state of preparedness well above what most counties will ever hope to achieve. We all owe Gene a huge thank you for making our county a safe place,” he said.

One of Strong’s first priorities was upgrading the county’s aging and inadequate communications network, which often left Sheriff’s Office personnel and other emergency responders in the field unable to talk with dispatchers. The project involved acquiring new radios and repeaters and updated transmission facilities on Wickiup Mountain – a $2 million project almost entirely funded with outside grants.

Strong also spearheaded the planning and fundraising for the county’s new Emergency Operations Center at Camp Rilea. A new wing will be built at the facility’s Warrior Hall to house state-of-the-art communications equipment and provide a permanent, centralized headquarters for coordinating the local response to a variety of disasters. State and federal dollars will cover two-thirds of the $500,000 total cost.

Successfully pursuing these and other projects involved more than just good grant-writing ability, Strong said. They also required coordination with many other agencies, including local fire and police departments.

“In the beginning it could be a challenge to get people together,” he said.

The program has also expanded training opportunities for local officials, and involved volunteer groups like amateur radio operators and the new Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in training and planning.

In 2010 the Emergency Management program was brought under the County Manager’s Office, and Human Resources Director Dean Perez was named Emergency Management Director. The program now has a staff of four full- or part-time personnel and an annual budget of $380,000, half of which is funded through an Emergency Management Program grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Perez praised Strong’s technical expertise.

“No one in Oregon is more knowledgeable about emergency radio communications systems,” he said, adding that Clatsop County’s upgraded infrastructure is considered a model for other counties.

During the December 2007 gale that struck the North Coast, much of the county’s communications was knocked out.

“We fell silent, but that will not happen again – that was (Strong’s) vision – we can’t go silent again,” Perez said.

#1 Gene Strong
#2 The new emergency communications apparatus at Wickiup Mountain. Upgrading the facility was one of Gene Strong’s top priorities as head of Clatsop County’s emergency management program.

Released by:
Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 338-3622

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Oregon ODOT May Provide Funding For South Seaside Hwy. 101 Flooding

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011


The Oregon Department of Transportation may provide money for a proposed solution to the annual flooding problem on U.S. Highway 101 south of Seaside through its wetlands conservation program.

The project, spearheaded by Clatsop County with support from ODOT, the Port of Astoria and local cities, involves the removal of a berm along the nearby Necanicum River near Circle Creek Campground. The work was recommended by a hydrological consultant who says it should substantially reduce the incidence of flooding that occurs nearly every winter when heavy rains combine with high tides to send water over the roadway and cause traffic restrictions.

The project partners are planning the next steps, including drawing up detailed plans and obtaining permits, with the goal of launching the work in summer 2012.

In July Northwest Hydraulic Consultants of Seattle released a study, funded by the project partners and based on months of water-flow data and other information, recommending removal of the berm, at an estimated cost of $500,000. The structure, built in the 1960s along the west bank of the Necanicum, causes water to overtop the nearby highway by keeping high water in the river from spilling out onto the lower ground to the west, according to the study.

ODOT cannot spend money from its highway budget on the berm project because it does not directly involve the roadway itself. But the work may qualify for wetlands funding because the proposed solution will open up hundreds of acres of former pasture land to restoration.

At a meeting of project partners last week in Seaside, representatives from ODOT’s wetlands office explained that the adjacent 364 acres of land, currently owned by the North Coast Land Conservancy, can be added to the agency’s wetlands “bank” program, which maintains wetland areas around the state as mitigation for other wetland sites impacted by highway projects.

ODOT recently submitted a prospectus, a general outline of a Necanicum restoration project, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of State Lands for their review. A more detailed analysis, including plans for longterm stewardship of the site, will then follow. Both plans will be released for public comment.

In the meantime, Clatsop County plans to ask the consultant to prepare a scope-of-work document for the berm removal. The project partners will meet again in January.

ODOT Area 1 Manager Larry McKinley said the state’s Regional Solutions Team, which coordinates state agency resources in support of local community economic development efforts, could assist in the permitting process. He noted the Highway 101project is a key priority of Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Released by:
Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 338-3622

Oregon Secretary Of State, Kate Brown Visits Clatsop County Elections, Tries Out New Voter Service

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011


Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown paid a visit Tuesday to the Clatsop County Clerk and Elections office to see the department’s ballot-processing for the Nov. 8 special primary election – and to try out a new service for voters with special needs.

Brown visited all five Oregon counties taking part in the election, which will pick a Democratic and Republican candidate for the vacant District 1 Congressional seat. The two winners will face off in a special general election Jan. 31, 2012.

Because the contest involves only five counties, the state has picked the election for a pilot project utilizing iPad portable computers to assist voters with limited visibility or other issues causing them difficulty filling out their mail-in ballots. An election worker brings the device to the voter, who calls up his or her ballot, taps the screen to make a selection, then prints out the ballot on a portable printer. The ballot can then be mailed to or dropped off at the elections office.

Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout, who accompanied Brown on Tuesday’s visit, said multiple attachments and apps, including screen readers, are available to make the devices usable for as many people as possible.

If the service proves successful, the state elections office will make the devices available to all 36 counties.

For more information on voting through the new pilot project, contact the Election Division at (503) 325-8511.

Brown noted that she won her first race for the Oregon House of Representatives by seven votes – “that shows the importance of voting.”

Ballots for the special primary election, which went out only to registered Democrats and Republicans, must be received at the Clatsop County Elections Division by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. For more information go to

PHOTO CAPTION: Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (right) tries out the new iPad voting service with Clatsop County Clerk Maeve Kennedy Grimes during a visit Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Released by:
Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 338-3622

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Update!!!..Astoria Police And Warrenton/Astoria High Schools Investigate Potential Shooting Plot. A 16 Year Old Student Arrested

Tuesday, Nov. 1,


A 16-year-old male
juvenile was taken into custody Monday, Oct. 31 by the Astoria Police Department
on a charge of Solicitation to Commit Aggravated Murder.
Peter Ancel Williams,
dob 10/13/95, is currently being held in the custody of the Clatsop County
Juvenile Department at the Youngs Bay Juvenile Detention facility in Warrenton.
Williams appeared by telephone at a hearing before Clatsop County Circuit Court
Judge Phil Nelson on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Nelson ordered the suspect to continue to
be held in detention pending a hearing scheduled for Nov. 15 at 1:15
At the hearing
Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis said Williams, a student at
Astoria High School, allegedly approached a 15-year-old juvenile regarding a
plan to engage in a mass shooting at Astoria High School.

Released by:
Tom Bennett
Community Relations
(503) 338-3622
Report One!
Astoria Police and Schools Investigate Plot
16 Year Old Student Arrested
On the afternoon of October 31, 2011 Astoria Police were contacted by Astoria High School administrators reporting that they had received information that a 16 year old male student had attempted to get another 15 year old student to join him in a school shooting at Astoria High School. The student solicited to join in the shooting brought printed Facebook messages to school administrators. School administrators immediately reported the matter to police.

Based on the initial investigation into the matter, Astoria Police determined that this was not a single conversation about a fantasy but a series of conversations expressing the desire to shoot people at the Astoria High School and to engage this particular 15 year old boy as a partner in the activity. Police were able to find corroborating evidence of the conversation. A search of the 16 year olds residence did not reveal any firearms. The 16 year old student lives with his mother in Astoria.

The 16 year old student was arrested by School Resource Officer Ken Hansen for Solicitation to Commit Murder. He was lodged by the Clatsop County Juvenile Department. The matter remains under investigation as Astoria Police look for further information about the potential plot. There is no current information that others are involved. Astoria Police will be interviewing witnesses and looking for any additional information.

Deputy Chief Brad Johnston said, “It is good that this 15 year old was able to see the severity of the situation and contact adults that he trusted. Early intervention in situations like this is best for all parties involved. The cooperation of schools and police during a situation like this is outstanding. While our processes run independent of each other they overlap well and we were able to keep in communication throughout the incident. Having a School Resource Officer who is in touch with the kids and knows who is who in the schools was a huge help in this investigation. He had information that would not have been available to most police officers investigating this crime because of his ability to see kids interact and understanding the dynamics at the school.”

"Drug Facts Week' Seeks To Seperate The Myths From The Facts

Monday, Oct. 31,


Test your knowledge
and win fun prizes while shattering myths about drug use at National Drug Facts
Week Trivia Night, 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at Street 14 Coffee, 1410 Commercial
St., Astoria.
This is a
family-friendly event and offers a great opportunity to promote dialogue between
youth and parents about drug use.
The event is
sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and North Coast Prevention
, with prizes provided by Astoria Cooperative, Amazing Stories comics store
and Street 14 Coffee.

Released by:Tom Bennett
Community Relations
(503) 338-3622

Monday, October 31, 2011

Astoria And Seaside Join ClatsopAlerts Emergency System

Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011


Astoria and Seaside have joined Clatsop County’s new ClatsopALERTS! emergency notification system, enabling both cities to send out warnings and notices aimed at their own citizens.

On Wednesday the county board of commissioners approved intergovernmental agreements with both cities providing them with use of the system at no cost.

ClatsopALERTS! is a web-based communications system allowing local officials to deliver emergency warnings and other messages to citizens via land-line and cell phone, text message and email. Messages can be sent county-wide or to select areas to inform residents and businesses of natural disasters, law enforcement activities, missing persons reports, boil-water orders and other important information.

Clatsop County has operated an emergency notification system, often called “reverse-911,” for several years, but in May switched to a new vendor, Inspiron Logistics. The web-based system enables local officials to send out thousands of pre-recorded voice messages or text messages in minutes.

The new agreements with Astoria and Seaside will allow officials of the two cities to access the system to send out warnings and notices specific to their citizens. Each city will be able to send out up to 20,000 calls through ClatsopALERTS! at no cost through the end of the current service contract in May 2012.

The system will be accessed by the two cities’ 911 dispatch centers.

Citizens throughout the county are urged to register for ClatsopALERTS! The phone numbers of homes and businesses with land-line telephone service through Qwest, CenturyTel and other standard phone companies are automatically entered into the ClatsopALERTS! database. But cell phone numbers, as well as numbers for other land-line carriers, pager numbers and email addresses, must be entered by the user.

To register a phone number or other contact, go to “ClatsopALERTS! Emergency Notification System” on the Clatsop County website, You will be asked to enter your name, phone number and address, and choose English- or Spanish-language messages. You may enter a phone number, pager number and/or email address, and may choose to receive the alerts by voice or text message.

A “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the county website provides more detailed tips about the service.

For more information go to the ClatsopALERTS! page on the county website, or contact the Emergency Management Division at (503) 338-3656.

Released by:
Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 338-3622