Thursday, December 12, 2013

Highlights From December 11, 2013 CCBofC Meeting

Boat Launch Lease; The board approved a lease agreement with the owners of property containing a boat launch ramp and parking area at Aldrich Point near Brownsmead. The 10-year lease, with Ernest John Affolter and Gerald Veenker, will enable the county to resume maintenance and repairs at the site. The county has maintained the site since the 1970s but ceased those activities in 2007 when it was unable to come to a lease or sale agreement with the owners at that time.

 Animal Tool Ban; The board postponed action on a proposed ordinance banning the use of bullhooks, whips and electric prods on certain animals. The ordinance would prohibit the use of the devices on elephants, felines and primates used for display or entertainment in the county. Commissioners and staff discussed adding language that would expand the list of devices covered, and considered putting the ordinance before county voters at an upcoming election. The board will take up the issue at its Feb. 26, 2014 meeting.

 Veterans Services Presentation; The board heard a presentation from Veterans Services Officer Phil Simmons, who provided an update on the program’s accomplishments since the commissioners voted earlier this year to increase county support. He and his wife, Buffy Simmons, have increased the number of hours available to work with clients, and have increased the amount of benefits coming to local claimants, while reducing the number of open claims.

 Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator 
(503) 325-1000 ext. 1312

Sunday, December 08, 2013

An Open Letter From Shel Cantor To Astoria City Council On Astoria Property Sales

OPEN LETTER TO ASTORIA CITY COUNCIL DATE: November 26, 2013 SUBJECT: Planned sale of city-owned, vacant land FROM: Shel Cantor SUMMARY: At the October 18 City Council meeting, during the public comment session regarding the City of Astoria Property Sales Program, I and other citizens asked why our city is now selling off vacant land. In my presentation, I quoted numbers from the county tax assessor's office that indicate land prices in Astoria are at their lowest level in eight years and are likely to increase in the near future. After the public comment session was closed, Mayor Van Dusen and City Councilors addressed this Why Now issue. We were not permitted to immediately respond to what we heard. I offer my rebuttal here. I explain below that the responses from the Mayor and City Counselors Warr, Mellin, and LaMear were not substantive, and none justified any urgency for this Sales Program. In the absence of urgency, is this recently initiated, rapid sell off of a large fraction of the city's vacant lots consistent with best-practices of financial management? -- especially in today's market conditions, and considering that you will flood the market and thereby further depress the prices of the land you are trying to sell off. Note: as of November 26, 2014, at the Clatsop Association of Realtors web site (, there were 41 vacant properties listed for sale in all of Astoria; compared with the city's 1300 properties, 37 of which you designated for just the first group of this sell off. Moreover, you are selling land presently serving as a contingency fund for the city. These assets would be sorely missed if, unlike today, a truly urgent need befalls our city in the future. It would be advisable to request a written, legal opinion from City Attorney Henningsgaard assessing your compliance with your fiduciary responsibilities and potential personal liability exposure on these counts. Councilor Herzig stated during the meeting that after consideration of all arguments, he rescinded his support for this Sales Program. Later in the meeting, he was the lone vote against approval. I urge the rest of you to reconsider your approval. I recommend (further below) changes to this Sales Program that would be more beneficial for Astoria residents and would manage these city assets more responsibly. The changes would also inhibit handing over our city's vacant land to developers, speculators, and those who wish to buy the land only to sell off its trees; which is what the Sales Program you approved will primarily do. DISCUSSION: Responding to the Why Now issue, Mayor Van Dusen asked each member of the Council to explain why s/he had voted (in January 2014) to set a goal of selling off land. Mayor Van Dusen began, stating his objective was to increase the number of residents of Astoria (via housing being built on vacant lots) to spread out the cost of utilities among more users, and thereby reduce utility rates. Regardless of how realistic it is to assume that “if you build it, they will come,” the Mayor's objective would equally apply in past and future years. Therefore, it does not justify urgency. Incidentally, there were 4980 housing units in Astoria as of 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau ( How many new, occupied housing units would need to be added via this sell off in order to achieve a significant reduction in utility rates? Councilor Warr stated his objective was to reduce city costs to maintain these properties. This objective would equally apply to past and future years, also. It, too, does not justify urgency. Beyond that, Councilor Warr did not indicate how much savings of city maintenance expenditures would be achieved by this sell off. On page 1 of the document “City of Astoria, Adopted Budget, Year Beginning July 1, 2013,” dated July 1, 2013 (,%202014%20city%20astoria%20adopted%20budget.pdf), the entire, “Total Expenditures” line item for Parks Operation - Maintenance (which includes more than maintaining just these lots) is 5% of the city's total “projected gross resources” ($457 thousand out of just under $9 Million) for the current fiscal year (p. iv). I could not find a breakout within that budget for maintaining vacant lots, let alone those lots designated for sale. Vacant (mostly forested) land does not require much maintenance. Our city is clearly not spending any appreciable fraction of its resources maintaining the vacant lots designated for sale. Counselor Mellin stated her objective was to provide resources for the city's capital improvement fund, needed for purchases such as police vehicles. However, according to that same budget document (pages iv-v), city staff are projecting a $190,350 balance in that capital improvement fund at the end of the current fiscal year (90% more than last year), and that projection already includes $61,000 allocated for buying three public service vehicles. Again, this objective is an unconvincing justification for why NOW. By the way, moving city-owned vacant land onto the tax rolls in order to increase future city (general fund) revenue is an objective worth weighing against what would be lost in doing so. Yet, the current fiscal year budget for our city is balanced, plus a projected contingency fund of 1.4 million dollars at the end of the year, the same as at the beginning of the year, and this contingency is “18% of budgeted expenditures ... [and] remains a sound fund balance.” (p iv, from the budget document referenced above). Here as well, one fails to see urgency. Counselor LaMear, in her turn, repeated the objective to reduce the cost for maintaining the vacant land, which was rebutted above. She added her hope that this Sales Program would result in neighbors buying adjacent lots for good purposes (e.g., planting gardens). However, if land is designated by the city for sale and the four-week window (during which neighbors must decide whether to write an offer to buy the land) comes at a bad time for someone who would have been a Good-Neighbor for that lot, the property then goes out for “general listing” (as stated in one of City Manager Benoit's presentation slides). General listing is open to everyone. In stark contrast to Good-Neighbors, developers buy land (preferably at low prices, like now), denude the land, throw up housing units, sell them, and could leave it to others to deal with any resulting, eventual landslides, etc. Speculators buy land at low prices when the market is likely to increase (like now), hang on to the lots for a few years, and then sell the land (usually to developers) at higher prices (which the city could have obtained if not for unjustified urgency). Would-be “mini-timber-barons” buy land at a price below the value of its trees, deforest it, sell off the felled trees for a net profit, and then could walk away (Flavel-like) from the property. The Sales Program you approved might benefit some Good-Neighbors. I believe, though, ultimately, neighbors and non-neighbors who are developers, speculators, and mini-timber-barons will benefit most (and most often). PROPOSED CHANGES: The procedures for this Sales Program can be modified to: -- Comply with your fiduciary responsibilities, -- Encourage Good-Neighbor purchases, and -- Preclude the sell off of city-owned land to developers, speculators, and mini-timber-barons. Starting with the list of all properties deemed “excess” (as you called them), we could permit the sale of any from that list, at any time, but no more than ten annually. This procedure would be appropriate for good stewardship of city assets, because it would reduce the “investment timing” risk of fetching poor prices in a depressed market (like now), avoid flooding the market (which would further lower prices), and avoid rapidly depleting this important contingency resource of land when there is no urgency for a large sell off at this time. It would also avoid forcing residents to hurriedly use or lose their rights within an arbitrarily chosen, four-week window. We could permit sales only to those whose primary residence is adjacent to the land they bid on. The bidder would have to agree in the written contract to certain restrictions, including requirements that the purchased lot be immediately combined with the buyer's own property into a single parcel, and that cutting down trees on the purchased lot would remain subject to the rules currently applied to city-owned lots. This would foster Good-Neighbors while inhibiting anyone, including neighbors, from buying in order to develop, speculate, or make a quick profit by just cutting down trees. The prices could be set at the most recent “Real Market Value” determined by the county tax assessor (which is available on-line to everyone). And a bid would need prior, written agreement from all other neighbors living on land adjacent to the vacant lot of interest. This would promote transparency, fairness, and the rule of law over the rule of whim. With procedures like these (and this is not yet a vetted, complete list), there would be no need to hire a real estate broker or administrator to enable these small numbers of transparently specified transactions. We can do the right thing for our city, if you want to.

Monday, December 02, 2013


Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

The deadline to file applications to start health insurance coverage with Cover Oregon is Wednesday, Dec. 4. Applications must be postmarked by Dec. 4 in order for applicants to begin receiving coverage under the health insurance exchange beginning on Jan. 1, 2014. Applicants who sign up after the Dec. 4 deadline may not begin receiving coverage until a later date. Cover Oregon is the state’s new online marketplace where Oregonians can shop for health insurance, compare various health insurance options side-by-side to find plans that will fit their needs and budget, and access savings to help pay for coverage. More Oregonians can now get health insurance even if they already have a health condition. Clatsop County residents looking to apply can get help locally from: Judi Mahoney, Clatsop County Public Health outreach coordinator, (503) 338-3684, -or- Miranda Helligso, Coastal Family Health Center, (503) 741-8028, For a list of other local agents available to assist with applications, and for other information on Cover Oregon go to or call toll-free 1-855-CoverOR. Released by: Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator (503) 338-3622

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 WESTPORT/WAHKIAKUM FERRY OUT OF SERVICE The Wahkiakum Ferry is out of service. The vessel, which carries vehicles between Westport, Ore. and Puget Island, Wash., is expected to be out of service for repairs for at least the next few days, according to the Wahkiakum County, Wash. Public Works Department. Alternate routes across the Columbia River are at Astoria and Longview, Wash. Released by: Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator (503) 338-3622

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Want to know what to do when "The Big One" hits?

Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 ‘OREGON SHAKEOUT’ INCLUDES CLATSOPALERTS! TEST; SIGN-UP OPEN Do you know what to do when the “big one” hits? The “Great Oregon Shakeout” on Thursday, Oct. 17 will test the readiness of individuals, schools, businesses and organizations for a major earthquake. At 10:17 a.m. people are encouraged to practice the “duck, cover and hold on” rule for surviving earthquakes – drop to the ground, get under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on for at least 60 seconds. The Shakeout is designed to promote preparedness by educating the public how to reduce hazards in their homes and workplaces, prepare emergency kits and take other measures. To learn more go to People can register as Shakeout participants to be tallied as event participants, but registration is not required to take part. As part of the Shakeout exercise, two emergency notification systems will be tested: Clatsop County’s ClatsopAlerts! and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s IPAWS. Designed to provide local citizens with immediate information and warnings about storms, floods and tsunamis, water contamination alerts, missing persons reports, road closures and other events, ClatsopALERTS! sends out recorded voice or text messages to citizens’ home phones, cell phones, pagers and email addresses, alerting them to the emergency and providing important response information. The first county-wide ClatsopAlerts! message will be sent out at 10 a.m. Thursday. At 10:15 a.m. the National Weather Service will send out an IPAWS message. IPAWS – Integrated Public Alert and Warning System – is an emergency-only notification system that gives local emergency agencies the ability to send messages to cell phone users in Clatsop County regardless of whether they are signed up for ClatsopAlerts! This provides the ability to reach visitors with severe weather warnings, evacuation notices, Amber Alerts and other emergency messages. All land-line telephone customers in the county are automatically registered with ClatsopAlerts! – citizens can also sign up to receive messages through cell phones, email and pagers. Registration is available online at Released by: Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator (503) 338-3622

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Clatsop County Board Of Commissioners Rejects Oregon Pipeline Land Use Application!!!

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 BOARD REJECTS NATURAL GAS PIPELINE LAND-USE APPLICATION The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to reject a land-use application for construction of a natural gas pipeline to serve a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal. Following a public hearing the board, by a 5-0 vote, found that the consolidated application from Oregon Pipeline LLC did not meet several criteria among the county’s land-use standards. The vote brings to an end a review process that was put on hold for almost two and a half years by the applicant’s legal challenge to the board’s jurisdiction. Testimony in Wednesday’s hearing was allowed only from representatives of Oregon Pipeline and project opponent Columbia Riverkeeper, but the board also reviewed written comments submitted by citizens and other parties prior to the hearing. Wednesday’s decision reverses the original ruling made by the board of commissioners in November 2010 to approve the application. In January 2011 the board, with three new members, voted to withdraw the approval and reconsider the application. In a new hearing in March of that year the board tentatively rejected the application, but was prevented from finalizing that decision when the Oregon Supreme Court issued a stay on the county at the request of Oregon Pipeline. The company argued that the board’s move to withdrawn the original November 2010 approval was done after the mandated deadline. The company’s motion was denied by a Clatsop County Circuit Court judge and the Oregon Court of Appeals, and in April 2013 the Oregon Supreme Court declined to review the appeals court ruling. In August the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals approved a motion from the county to resume the reconsideration process. At Wednesday’s hearing the board deliberated whether Oregon Pipeline’s application met the standards of twelve comprehensive plan land-use goals, eight zoning designations, four land-use overlays and other criteria. As they did at the March 2011 hearing, the commissioners largely accepted the findings of Community Development Department staff, who recommended denial of the application based on their findings that the proposed project did not meet several of the criteria. In particular, staff determined that the pipeline meets the definition of a “transmission” line, which is not allowed in two of the affected zones, versus a “distribution” line, and that the project was not compatible with other uses on surrounding lands. Released by: Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator (503) 338-3622

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

County Residents Can Find Health Insurance Help Through County Public Health Department

Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 LOCAL AGENT TO HELP COUNTY RESIDENTS FIND HEALTH INSURANCE Cover Oregon, the new health insurance marketplace, kicks off in October and Clatsop County citizens will have a local agent to help them navigate the new program. Cover Oregon is the state’s new online marketplace where Oregonians can shop for health insurance, choose from different health insurance companies to find plans that will fit their needs and budget, and access savings to help pay for coverage. Open enrollment starts in October, and more Oregonians can now get health insurance even if they already have a health condition. To help Oregon individuals and families enroll in health insurance through Cover Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority awarded grants to local governments and community organizations. The Clatsop County Public Health Department received a grant and is certified to help county resident enroll in coverage. Judi Mahoney, an outreach coordinator with the county Public Health Department, is a certified enrollment assistance agent and can help county residents find health insurance through Cover Oregon. She is available to work with individuals, families and owners of businesses with fewer than 50 employees. All enrollment assistance is provided at no cost. Spanish-language assistance is also available. In the past, Mahoney has also worked as the county’s outreach specialist for the Oregon Healthy Kids program. Mahoney can be reached by phone at (503) 358-2333 or email at People can also call a special appointment line at the county Public Health office at (503) 338-3684. Coastal Family Health Center in Astoria is also a certified Cover Oregon assistance provider. Call (503) 741-8035 to find out more. Cover Oregon is designed to provide an easily accessible venue for Oregonians to compare various health insurance options side-by-side, whether they currently have no coverage or are simply interested in checking out alternatives. The program also provides information financial assistance offered to help people afford coverage. Enrollment is set to begin Oct. 1 – online enrollment will be available in the near future, but initially all sign-ups will need to go through a local community agent like Mahoney or Coastal Family Health Center. Dec. 15 is the deadline to sign up in order to have coverage begin Jan. 1, 2014.
  More information is available at or by calling toll-free 1-855-CoverOR. Released by: 
Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator (503) 338-3622

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Highlights Of The August 14, 2013 CCBofC General Meeting

Official minutes available once approved by board

Forest lawsuit funding
The board gave consent to funding the county’s share of the 2014 budget of the Council of Forest Trust Land Counties, including a $12,000 special assessment earmarked for legal expenses related to a federal lawsuit over habitat protection in the state forests.
The Council represents the 15 Oregon counties, including Clatsop County, containing state forest land. In July 2012 the council’s board voted to file as an intervenor in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the State of Oregon over what the groups claim are inadequate protection measures for the endangered marbled murrelet.
On Wednesday, Council Chair Tim Josi and Executive Director Gil Ridell told the board that as an intervenor on the side of the state, the Council has “a place at the table” during the legal process. Other audience members urged the county not to contribute to the legal defense, arguing that the Oregon Department of Forestry is failing to protect murrelet habitat.
The Council budget is approved at the annual conference of the Association of Oregon Counties in November.

Other Business
In other business the board:
-Set a public hearing for Aug. 28 on an appeal by John Newton of a Clatsop County Hearings Officer ruling regarding a lot-of-record determination for a property on Green Mountain Road south of Astoria. The board also voted to waive a $2,536 appeal fee charged to Newton.
-Approved a budget adjustment to accept a $9,467 grant from the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission for the study of impacts of dredge material disposal on crab grounds as part of the development of the Mouth of the Columbia River Regional Sediment Management Plan.
-Approved a 5 percent pay raise for County Manager Scott Somers. Chair Peter Huhtala said the raise recognizes that Somers, who joined the county in July 2012, has exceeded the board’s expectations in his job. “We would like to express our appreciation and respect for your services,” he said.

Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 325-1000 ext. 1312

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Highlights Of The July 24, 2013 Clatsop County Board Of Commissioners Meeting

Official minutes available once approved by board

Code enforcement ordinance
The board adopted an ordinance establishing a civil citation process for code enforcement and nuisance abatement and replacing the existing enforcement process. The ordinance is designed to provide the county’s code compliance officer with a more efficient process for responding to non-criminal violations of the county’s land use ordinance and building codes. It clarifies the definition of public nuisance, revises the schedule of fines and creates an Abatement Fund to hold revenue from fines to help fund enforcement actions.
The ordinance replaces the existing “notice-order” nuisance abatement process, which is labor-intensive and results in compliance orders that are difficult to enforce.

Land-use appeal
The board voted unanimously to reverse a ruling on a land-use appeal filed by Steve Cullen and grant Cullen a variance to expand a storage structure at an agriculture machine manufacturing facility.
Cullen challenged a June 9 ruling by Hearings Officer Dan Olsen rejecting his application to expand a non-conforming storage building at the Versa Corporation off Highway 202 south of Astoria. Land-use rules limit the expansion of non-conforming structures on land zoned Exclusive Farm Use to an additional 20 percent of the existing size – Cullen sought a variance from those rules to expand the structure by 44 percent.
The board determined that Cullen’s application did meet the criteria for a variance, and directed staff to prepare the required findings for approval at a future meeting.

Similar Use request
The board gave consent to a July 9 ruling from the county Planning Commission approving a “similar-use” land-use request from Safe Harbor Development Corporation to operate a veterinary clinic in a commercial property on Highway 101 between Warrenton and Gearhart.
The county land-use ordinance gives the planning commission the authority to determine if a development that is not listed in a land-use zone is similar to uses that are listed and can be approved for development. The proposed site is zoned Neighborhood Commercial, which allows uses including general stores, eating establishments and automobile service stations.

Forestlands presentation
The board heard a presentation from Oregon Department of Forestry’s Tom Savage and Neal Bond about the agency’s Forestland Classification program, which involves a comprehensive, county-wide assessment of forest lands for the purpose of levying fire-protection fees. The board is being asked to appoint three people to a six-member committee that will oversee the assessment process – the appointments are scheduled to be made Aug. 14.

Other Business
In other business the board
-approved a 2013-14 contract with Veterans Service Officer Phil Simmons that includes an increase in the county’s annual contribution to the program of $14,285 approved by the board in March. The increase, boosting the county’s total share to $20,485, gives the program $57,587.64 this year, including money from the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Simmons sought additional county funding to increase outreach efforts to local military veterans.
-heard a presentation from Clatsop Economic Development Resources (CEDR) Executive Director Kevin Leahy on the organization’s activities, which include business counseling and training.
-approved a resolution urging the Oregon Department of Forestry to take steps  to preserve the “Arcadia Cedar,” a Western red cedar located on state forest land south of Cannon Beach identified as the largest of its species in Oregon.

Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 325-1000 ext. 1312

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cause Of Pacific Seafoods Fire Declared

Thursday, July 18, 2013


According to investigators, the cause of the fire at Pacific Coast Seafoods Co. in Warrenton on June 4th was caused by maintenance being done on the roof of the facility. Pacific Coast Seafoods Co had installed several new vents in the roof of the plant and was having several leaks repaired. The vents were being sealed using a propane torch to apply a “torch down” material around them. This heating ignited the underside of the roof and burned in the void space for as long as an hour before being noticed.

The investigation into the fire, which destroyed the processing facility on Skipanon Drive, involved the State Fire Marshal, Oregon State Police, Clatsop County Fire Investigation Team, Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and insurance investigators from Case Forensics.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Friday, May 24, 2013


Clatsop County Clerk Nicole Williams announced her departure from the position Friday, May 24. Her last day with the county will be June 28.
Williams is joining the Clatsop Care Health District as administrator/CEO. She replaces outgoing administrator Anita Schacher.
Williams joined the Clatsop County Clerk’s office in 1999. She was named county clerk in 2005 and held the position until 2008 when she was hired as assistant county manager. She returned to the clerk position when it became vacant in 2012.
“I am excited about this opportunity to be part of improving healthcare services for the citizens of this county,” she said.
Clatsop Care Center Health District operates the Clatsop Care Center and Clatsop Retirement Village in Astoria, and provides in-home health care services.
County Manager Scott said the county will take the opportunity to review the internal management structure and look for more efficiencies and savings before embarking on a recruitment effort to fill the clerk position.
The county clerk is the record-keeper for the county and administers public records, archives, legal recordings, passports and marriage licenses. The office also oversees elections and voter registration, and coordinates property tax appeals.
Following Williams’ move back to the Clerk position in 2012 and the departure of Finance Director Mike Robison in March, the county instituted a reorganization that eliminated the Assistant County Manager position and dissolved the Central Services department and split its functions among other departments. The move will save the county more than $260,000 in the upcoming fiscal year budget.
“The greatest asset to county government is the employees,” Williams said. “I truly cherish my professional and personal relationships that I have established in my time with the county.”
As assistant county manager, Williams oversaw the preparation of the annual budgets, the sale and development of the North Coast Business Park property, and other projects and initiatives. At the county clerk’s office she worked on the implementation of vote-by-mail.

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Speaking Of Upcoming Port Elections, How Is It The Incumbent Port Commissioners Sandbagged On This Opprtunity To Deny Us Good, Long-Term, Family Wage Jobs For Many Of Us?

Port wants to ride the green tide
Commission forms partnership with start-up shipping company, pursues federal grant to build one or two cargo ships

The Daily Astorian

A national push for greener transportation could bring cargo through the Port of Astoria again.

The Port is partnering with a start-up shipping company and pursuing a federal grant to build one or two small container ships that would transport cargo up and down the West Coast, and as far up the Columbia River as Lewiston, Idaho.

Port leaders and Santa Maria Shipping, LLC, of Santa Rosa, Calif., are trying to tap into $575 billion of stimulus funding. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program is intended to improve economic competitiveness and reduce congestion on U.S. highways. Minimum grant size for the projects is $20 million.

One aspect of the TIGER grant is to lighten traffic on highways and move freight to more fuel-efficient ships that will cut carbon emissions and save shippers money.

The Port's proposed project would include construction of the two ships and a rail head at North Tongue Point. The 400-foot ships would be capable of carrying up to 125 cargo boxes up and down the West Coast. And their 14-foot draft would allow them to go up the Columbia River to Lewiston, Idaho. The estimated total cost for the ships is between $20 million and $40 million. Santa Maria is taking bids from three Northwest companies to build the ships.

The Port would own the ships and Santa Maria would be the leasing company.

Dan Snitchler, the company's vice president in charge of special projects, said about 100 cargo boxes per week have been "signed up for." Hundreds of boxes are already leaving Lewiston by truck or rail, headed for Europe.

"We believe that the marine highway is the wave of the future," Snitchler said.

Potential customers include Astoria Warehousing and Deals Only.

The ships could eventually move 5,000 container boxes between Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle each day.

Snitchler said at least one crane for Astoria would be included in the grant request. The estimated cost for the mobile, 80-ton-capacity crane is $4 million. The company intends to position cranes at other cities or "drop sites."

Santa Maria has been working with the Port of Astoria on business opportunities at North Tongue Point, where the company was looking to build a shipyard.

Port of Astoria Executive Director Jack Crider said Santa Maria is now dedicated to the current project.

"With mostly grants, there's not a lot of risk," Crider said. "Risk is not moving ahead. We learned the risk of not moving ahead with NOAA."

When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was looking for a new home for its Pacific fleet of research vessels, the Port jumped into the fray. But the Clatsop Economic Development Resources (CEDR) determined that Astoria wasn't likely to land the fleet and the Port pulled out of consideration. NOAA decided to move the fleet to Newport.

"I wanted to put the facility here (on Pier 1) instead of Tongue Point," Crider said. "I wish we would have moved ahead and done it. Newport put together a great proposal."

Crider said the purchase of the Tongue Point property has taken a turn. The Port had been trying to buy the property from the Washington Group, a Montana-based company.

He said the Port is now considering a lease option, and fishing vessels out of Alaska will be showing up soon, looking for berths.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Thursday, May 9, 2013


How will local cities, utility districts and other public agencies react when a major disaster disrupts water and sewer service on the northern Oregon Coast?

Local officials from Clatsop and Tillamook counties and representatives of state agencies and other organizations – 40 in all – gathered recently at Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center in Warrenton to review how well-prepared they are.

The April 17 table-top exercise was organized by Clatsop County’s Public Health Department and Emergency Management Division and facilitated by the University of Washington Northwest Center for Public Health Practice.

“We had participated in previous planning sessions but had never exercised a multi-disciplinary response to water sanitation issues,” Public Health Director Margo Lalich said. “This was a first for us and it was a huge learning moment.”

The exercise simulated a fictional earthquake and tsunami off the north coast of Oregon that would cause severe damage to water and sewer lines and treatment plants, knock out power and flood low-lying areas with contaminated water. Participants were asked to examine each other’s agency plans and policies and discuss ways to coordinate resources in response to such scenarios as handling illness from tainted water, reduced fire-fighting capability and service to evacuation shelters and vulnerable populations.

NWCPHP faculty member, Carl Osaki, developed and led the exercise and was pleased with the group’s progress. “Tabletops are a chance to identify gaps and that can be disconcerting. Most agencies don’t want to expose their vulnerabilities,” he said. “This group was willing to lay out their plans and tackle complicated issues.”

Along with the five incorporated cities, Clatsop County has 11 water districts and five sewer districts providing service to residents and businesses.

Maureen Sheffield-Taylor, Clatsop County Environmental Health Supervisor, said “this tabletop was a great start but it was just the beginning. Now we see how much more work we have to do.”

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



Clatsop County Elections Division will conduct a public certification test of its vote-tally system on Monday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Judge Guy Boyington Building, 857 Commercial St., Astoria in anticipation of the May 21 special district election.

A test is routinely performed prior to a county election and members of the public are invited to observe the process.

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clatsop County To Reorganize/Streamline Administrative Operations

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 ADMINISTRATIVE REORGANIZATION SAVES MONEY, STREAMLINES OPERATIONS A planned reorganization of some administrative offices proposed by Clatsop County Manager Scott Somers will save money while increasing efficiency, he said. On Wednesday the county Board of Commissioners held the first reading of an ordinance enacting the plan. A final vote is scheduled for April 24. The plan was prompted by the move in December of former Assistant County Manager Nicole Williams to the County Clerk position, and the departure of former Central Services Department Director Mike Robison in March. With two positions vacant, Somers looked at ways to streamline the county’s administrative functions by “flattening out” the chain of command while trimming spending in the face of looming cost increases in retirement and benefits for county staff. The plan is projected to save the county $265,704 in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Under the new plan, the Assistant County Manager and Central Services Director positions are eliminated. Two of the functions currently under Central Services will moved – Information Systems to the County Manager’s Office, and Building and Grounds to the Public Works Department. Central Services will be renamed the Budget and Finance Department and will focus on budget preparation and oversight, banking, payroll, revenue and expenditure monitoring and other fiscal duties. The County Manager’s Office, which currently oversees Emergency Management and Human Resources, will become the Administrative Services Department. The county Assessment and Taxation Department, which since 2010 was overseen by Robison, will again have its own director. The county will seek applicants for both the Budget and Finance director and Assessment and Taxation director positions. -30- Released by: Tom Bennett Community Relations Coordinator (503) 338-3622

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Columbia - Pacific Common Sense Meets March 21st and Other Upcoming Activist Events

Columbia Pacific Common Sense
Thursday, March 21st 
6:00  potluck snacks and socializing
6:30 - 8:00  meeting
1030 Duane in Astoria   

Dan Serres, Conservation Director of Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK), will provide legal updates and other news from LNG-land.  Whether you've been active from the beginning or are new to NO LNG, please attend and check out how you can make a difference!

Cheryl & Laurie
UPCOMING EVENTS concerning our estuary as a conduit for fossil fuel exports:
Coal, Oil, and Gas, Oh My!
Lower Columbia River Community Conversation
Wednesday, March 13th
6:00 - 7:30
Skamokawa Grange
16 Fairgrounds Road, Skamokawa, WA
(take the 5:15 pm ferry from Westport)

The Columbia River faces unprecedented new proposals to export coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and crude oil to Asia. How will the new pipelines, trains, and tankers impact the estuary? Current plans could make the Columbia River the nation's largest exporter of coal, LNG, and oil.

This evening event will feature presentations on Columbia River water quality and new limits on toxic pollution as well as issues surrounding the use of the Columbia River as a fossil fuel highway. There will also be a moderated, open-forum discussion about local concerns and practical solutions.
Sponsored by Columbia Riverkeeper
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Stop Coal Exports!
Rally at the Oregon State Capitol
WHO: YOU! And other Northwest citizens opposed to coal export.
WHAT: Rally and press conference on the Capitol steps
WHENWednesday, March 13, 2013 (11:30AM-12:30PM)
WHERE: Oregon State Capitol Building (Salem) - Interested in a rideshare from Portland?  Meet at 1821 SE Ankeny, Portland, Oregon at 10AM.
The barges would take coal from a train-fed terminal at the Port of Morrow near Boardman to Port Westward near Clatskanie for loading onto sea-going ships.
Oregon state agencies are currently reviewing permits for Ambre Energy's coal export plan. The Oregon Department of State Lands has set April 1, 2013 as a decision date for their agency - they need to hear from us now! 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Highlights Of February 27, 2013 Clatsop County Board Of Commissioners Meeting

Official minutes available once approved by board

Veterans program examined
During a work session the board heard a presentation from Veterans’ Services Officer Phil Simmons, who asked the commissioners to consider increasing his level of compensation under the veterans services contract.
Simmons, who took over the contract in 2011, said the position has required more work – an average of 35 hours a week – than he originally envisioned. Without an increase in the contract, he and his wife Buffy Simmons, who shares the program duties with him, would likely have to cut back on their hours, he said.
The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs provides $43,100 a year for the program. Clatsop County provides an additional $6,200.
The veterans’ services officer assists local military vets in applying for benefits through the federal Veterans Administration. Simmons said since he took over the contract, the total monthly payments coming to Clatsop County vets has increased from about $57,000 to $80,000. There are currently 4,518 veterans in the county, he said.
County Manager Scott Somers said staff would develop three funding options for the program contract and present them to the board at its March 27 meeting.

Other business
In other business the board:
-Approved an ordinance making “housekeeping” amendments to the county’s Land and Water Development and Use Ordinance and Standards document to clarify ambiguous language, further define procedures and correct references to state rules.
-Designated Human Resources Director Dean Perez as County Manager Pro Tem. Perez, who also serves as Emergency Management Director, will assume the duties of county manager in the event of the absence of County Manager Scott Somers. Finance Director Mike Robison was designated as alternate County Manager Pro Tem.
-Approved a letter of support for an application to the Business Oregon Industrial Lands Certification Program for the county’s North Coast Business Park in Warrenton. The program offers a statewide inventory of properties ready for industrial development.
-Approved a letter to Stimson Lumber company asking that it allow the Sunset Empire Amateur Radio Club continued use of a small piece of Stimson property east of Arch Cape for a radio repeater.

Tom Bennett
Community Relations Coordinator
(503) 325-1000 ext. 1312

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Angry Astoria Mother Wants Answers From City Of Astoria On Why A Careles Driver Who Struck And Injured Her Son In A Crosswalk Was Not Cited By Astoria Police Officer!

From: "diana johnson" <gl*^#*>
Date: Feb 10, 2013 2:44 PM
Subject: Uncited vehicle/pedestrian collision - Uniontown, Jan. 19th
To: <>, <>

Mayor Van Dusen and Senator Betsy Johnson:

On a beautiful, dry Saturday afternoon, January 19 at 3:29 pm, my son, Ben Johnson:
  • Activated the amber flashing signal at W. Marine Drive located in front of 3 Cups of Tea (under the bridge in Uniontown)
  • Paused and waited for the nearest vehicle to come to a full stop
  • Proceeded to cross when the first vehicle had stopped 
  • Was struck by a Ford F250 truck in the adjoining lane 
  • Was transported to the ER at Columbia Memorial Hospital and 
  • Was diagnosed with a concussion.
The driver of the truck was not issued a citation.

Officer Robinson of the Astoria Police Department, the officer who responded to the scene of the accident, delivered Oregon Police Traffic Crash Report #A201320204.
He stated that:
  • The driver of the vehicle was a "nice guy" who was concerned about Ben's injuries and
  • He and another officer had discussed the accident and felt that bicycles should not be ridden across crosswalks.
Within minutes, via internet, I was able to check Oregon laws: 
  • 2011 ORS 814.410 ...a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk
  • 2011 ORS 811.060 (Class A misdemeanor) Committing vehicular assault of a bicycle operated by a person, a person operating a bicycle or a pedestrian and the contact caused physical injury to the person operating a bicycle or the pedestrian
  • 2011 ORS 811.028 (Class B traffic violation) Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian. A pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when any part of extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian's body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.
  • 2011 ORS 811.020 (Class B traffic violation) Passing a stopped vehicle at the crosswalk
Oregon attorneys who specialize in bicycle law, agree that a person on a bicycle in a crosswalk has every right that a person on foot has to cross safely. 

I need also to address the implication that the driver of the truck who struck my son was a "nice guy."
Does this assume, then, that my son is not deserving of "nice guy" status? 

Let me introduce you to Ben Johnson.
  • 24 year old, African-American with Downs Syndrome
  • will never drive a car and has relied on his bicycle to maintain a sense of independence. His bike was a cumbersome 3-wheel adult trike - but it was his joy
  • has an acute sense of civic duty. For the past 6 years, every Sunday from the opening of the Astoria Sunday Market in May through the final Sunday in October, Ben has gleaned fruits and vegetables for donation to the Astoria Senior Center. 
He often used his adult trike to collect the produce from the vendors. This is a remarkable contribution to the community since it supplies our low-income seniors with healthy, free produce. By the end of the     market season each October, Ben collects over 1500 pounds of fresh produce for distribution to the Senior Center. 

Over the course of 6 years, he has contributed 9600 pounds of fresh, wholesome food to the Astoria Senior Center. 

In addition, he volunteers with fresh fish butchering and delivery to the Astoria Senior Center, an activity that runs from July through November. He has undertaken this volunteerism over the past 5 years.

As the mother and guardian of Ben, I am his advocate. There is ongoing trauma resulting from this accident, including the nagging feelings that Ben was not protected under Oregon laws and that he has been relegated to a status undeserving of protection under the law. 

I have written to Chief Curzon for explanation of 1) Why the driver who struck Ben was not cited and 2) Why the witnesses to the accident were not contacted to ascertain circumstances regarding the accident?
There has been no response to my concerns.

At this time in Astoria, awareness of pedestrian safety has garnered attention from the public officials. Drivers are cited for their failure to stop at crosswalks when pedestrians intend to cross.
Why, then, was the driver not cited when the pedestrian who crossed under flashing amber lights on a marked crosswalk was struck by his vehicle and injured?

Ben's accident went unreported in the Daily Astorian. According to Patrick Webb, the Police Department would have notified the newspaper of yet another crosswalk accident involving a bicycle and/or pedestrian. Since this accident was not officially reported, I suspect that our city (Astoria) has an even greater incidence of vehicular violations involving pedestrians that go unheeded - and uncited.

Please respond.

Diana Johnson

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Astoria School District, Clatsop County Public Health & Coastal Family Health Plan Informational Meeting For School-Based Health Center

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013


The public is invited to learn more about the school-based health center proposed for the Astoria School District at a series of community meetings beginning later this month.
The meetings will be held Jan. 30, Feb. 26 and March 21. All the meetings will take place at the Astoria High School auditorium from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Organizers will provide information as well as take feedback and answer questions.
The health center project is a joint effort of the Astoria School District, Coastal Family Health Center (CFHC) and the Clatsop County Public Health Department. Its goal is to provide easier access to health care for district students.
Currently there are more than 60 school-based health centers in Oregon, and 1,800 nationwide. They provide services including routine physical exams, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illness, treatment of minor injuries, vision, dental and blood pressure screenings, immunizations and health education.
Data show that school-based health centers, by providing convenient access to health services, help decrease student absenteeism, reduce unnecessary and costly emergency room visits, and ensure quality and cost-effective care for children and adolescents. Improving access to healthcare also launches youth on a path of wellness and prevention that can pay life-long dividends.
The planning efforts are supported in part by a $60,000 state grant received by the county in 2012 and directed by a steering committee representing the school district, Public Health, CFHC and other entities, as well as AHS students.
Through the public meetings, organizers hope to find out the level of community support, take questions the public has about the project, and hear about services people would like to see provided.
For more information go to

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Charley Reese's Final Article - 545 Versus 300,000,000

Charley Reese's Final column!

A very interesting column. COMPLETELY NEUTRAL.
Be sure to Read the Poem at the end..

Charley Reese's final column for the Orlando Sentinel... He has been a journalist for 49 years. He is retiring and this is HIS LAST COLUMN.

Be sure to read the Tax List at the end.

This is about as clear and easy to understand as it can be. The article below is completely neutral, neither anti-republican or democrat. Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day. It's a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000 People
-By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. ( The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House?( John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. ) If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. [The House has passed a budget but the Senate has not approved a budget in over three years. The President's proposed budgets have gotten almost unanimous rejections in the Senate in that time. ]

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ..

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.
Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees... We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it... is up to you.
This might be funny if it weren't so true.
Be sure to read all the way to the end:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid...

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
'Taxes drove me
to my doom...'

When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the heck happened? Can you spell 'politicians?'
I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times!!! YOU can help it get there!!!


Thursday, January 10, 2013


Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013
Clatsop County’s Community Development Department is moving forward to implement a land-use study of the Clatsop Plains/Camp Rilea area.
On Wednesday the county board of commissioners approved a contract with a consultant, MIG Inc., to facilitate the development of the North Clatsop Plains Sub-Area Plan. The plan, an addition to the county’s comprehensive land-use plan, will enact recommendations from the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), a comprehensive project completed last year that examined current and potential compatibility issues between the Camp Rilea military training facility and surrounding residents.
The Sub-Area plan, funded by a $130,000 Department of Defense grant, is due for completion in June 2014. An advisory committee, appointed by the board of commissioners Wednesday, will lead the development of the plan, which will include opportunities for public input.
Clatsop County is seeking two additional members for the advisory panel, specifically from among residents of the study area, which stretches from the south Warrenton city limits to Cullaby Lake. To apply, go to the county website,
The JLUS study, also DOD-funded, looked at issues of land-use, communications, safety, noise and other areas of possible conflict between Camp Rilea’s military training activities and nearby residential areas. Among recommendations from the study are allowing no increase in density in residential-zoned land, requiring appropriate noise-control measures for new construction, and development of a beach management plan for the shoreline adjacent to Camp Rilea.
The Sub-Area plan will also examine several water-related issues affecting the study area, including water and sewer service and water quality in local lakes.
Camp Rilea was established as a National Guard training site in 1927, and annually hosts as many as 200,000 personnel from U.S. and international military units and state and federal law enforcement agencies for small arms, explosives and urban combat training. The facilities are also made available to public users.

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