Thursday, October 23, 2014

Warrenton City Candidates Speak at Warrenton Business Association Forum

Candidates for Warrenton city positions answered voter questions in a Warrenton Business Association Candidates Forum last (Wednesday) night at Warrenton  City Hall.  Two candidates are running for Mayor: incumbent Mark Kujala and current position 4 commissioner Mark Baldwin.  The candidates for the now open city commission position 4 are Pamela Ackley, David Goldthorpe, Richard Newton and Richard Frisbee.

Last year, Warrenton voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to make the Mayor elected at large by the voters directly instead of by appointment to the office by the city commission.

An audience of about 50 packed the City Commission chamber. Their questions focused on livability and economic vitality of the city.  

Both mayoral candidates stated Public Safety as the first priority of the city commission.  Incumbent Mayor Mark Kujala summarized the current status of police officer staffing.

“We were looking at the true possibility that we might only have eight police officers in 2014.  We had a levy that was on the ballot in November in order to extend one position, we also made a decision during the budget that year to take away from the police vehicle replacement policy and take money from patrol cars and put it into personnel, take money from the WBA (Warrenton Business Association) which was so generous, to give money toward funding a new position in the police department, and then we just received money from the federal government from the Department of Justice to fund three quarters of another position in the police department.  So we’re actually looking at eleven officers in 2015.  That is three officers more than we were looking at about sixteen months ago, so that’s a tremendous improvement.”  

Kujala added the next focus should be on the fire department, and the addition of a ladder truck.

Candidate Mark Baldwin also said public safety is the number one goal, and illustrated the needs of the fire department:

Baldwin.wav:   “With working class families, which the vast majority of us are, comes children, and schools, and in a small community lots of kids walking to and from school, and at the parks and so on and so forth, and I think it’s probably our largest goal is to protect those children.  The fire: I’ll touch a little on that.  I was down on Warrenton Mills property, Hampton Mills property, when that fire started, and that could have been so much worse without a ladder truck.  If it hadn’t have been for the ladder truck coming and the efforts of Hampton Mill employees turning on their pumps at their water pond and hooking up almost all of the hoses if not all of them – I believe was five hoses coming off of that pond and that pump, who knows what could have happened.  That mill could be gone today.  So with the additions we’ve made in the police department I believe we’re moving in the right direction, but we do need to work a little harder on the fire department. I think we’re going to lose our rating if we don’t make some infrastructure improvements and some position improvements.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


   The Clatsop County Clerk’s Office will issue supplemental ballots to county voters as a result of errors in the Nov. 4 mail-in election ballot affecting a Clatsop Community College bond measure and a Cannon Beach City Council race.
For Ballot Measure 4-176, the Clatsop Community College bond, the ballot incorrectly lists the amount of the bond as “not exceeding $8,200,00.” The correct figure is $8,200,000.
In the Cannon Beach race, the ballot instructs voters to vote for one candidate in the contest between George Vetter and Mike Benefield for an at-large position on the city council. The instruction should have read “Vote for Two.”
On Monday the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office issued a directive requiring the county to issue supplemental ballots for both issues.
Supplemental ballots, including an explanatory letter, will be sent to the approximately 21,000 voters in the county later this week. The ballots will contain the Clatsop Community College bond measure question; ballots for the approximately 970 Cannon Beach voters will also include the city councilor race with the corrected instructions.
Voters are asked to vote their original ballot as well as the supplemental ballot when received.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

City Council and Mayoral Candidates Speak at AAUW Forum

Candidates for Astoria city offices took the stage last (Tuesday) night at a forum sponsored by the Astoria chapter of the American Association of University Women.
Candidates for wards 1 and 3 plus the two mayoral candidates spoke to an audience of about 200 people, answering questions ranging from how to recruit young people to participate in city politics and planning to how the city council should work with the Port of Astoria commission.
George McCartin and Zetty Nemlowill are competing for the Ward 1 position on the council.  Cindy Price is running unopposed for the Ward 3 seat.

Citing a lack of parking spaces downtown, the first audience question sought the candidates takes on what to do with the former Safeway site – now the site of the proposed Heritage Square.  George McCartin said some environmental evaluation would have to take place before any plans could be implemented, and that further development should be prioritized against other city projects according to need.  Zetty Nemlowill and Cindy Price both stressed the need for affordable housing downtown.  Nemlowill said an earlier public input process called for a mixed use space.  She suggested such a space could include rental housing.

            “Lets look at student housing for the college.  If people live downtown, they’re going to shop downtown.  They’re not going to need to get in their cars and drive.” (:08)

Cindy Price added positive comments about mixed use for the site, and referenced a downtown improvement study done by consultant Michele Reeves for the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association

            “The biggest driver of downtown vitality is housing, and this is a really perfect place where we don’t have to worry about blocking other people’s views...” (:10)

Price added more public input should be sought before further design and fundraising plans. 

Friday, September 26, 2014


The Sunset Empire Transportation District, Board of Commissioners, announced today their appointment of Jeff Hazen as the new Executive Director for the District. Mr. Hazen brings many years of experience in financial and operational management, marketing and customer service to the District. Mr. Hazen has served in local government as a Clatsop County Commissioner and Warrenton Mayor and is an active member of several community organizations. Mr. Hazen lives in the Hammond area and will start work at the District on September 29th.

Razor clam harvest to re-open Oct. 1 on Clatsop beaches

The Clatsop beaches will re-open to razor clamming Oct. 1 following the annual conservation closure.

During the razor clam conservation closure, ODFW conducted stock assessment surveys to determine the status and health of the population.  From July 15 to Sept. 30 ODFW staff collected information about the distribution, abundance, and sizes of razor clams. Similar surveys have been conducted annually since 2004. 
This year’s survey found the highest number of razor clams since ODFW began conducting the assessment.  About 16 million razor clams inhabit the 18-mile stretch of beach located between the Columbia River south jetty and Tillamook Head.  This estimate of clam abundance is significantly greater than the previous peak of 9 million clams in 2005.  The average size of clams was a little over 2 ½ inches, and only a few larger than 4-inches were found.   Razor clams were distributed fairly evenly along the entire stretch of beach.

“These high numbers are very encouraging,” said Matt Hunter, ODFW’s Shellfish Project Leader.  “Clatsop beach hasn’t seen a significant recruitment since 2009 so this bodes well for future years.”

“Come this spring, if the small razors survive the winter, we could have an epic season!” Hunter added.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Board of Clatsop County Commisssioners Meeting Highlights: September 24

Septic inspection program
The board heard a presentation from Environmental Health Supervisor Mike McNickle on the county’s on-site sewer disposal inspection program. Since the county assumed responsibility for the program from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in June, the Public Health and Community Development departments, which administer it, have worked to improve responsiveness for applications, McNickle said, including a one-week turn-around goal for applications.
The program handles inspection and permitting of new septic system installations for residential and small commercial properties and response to complaints of failed systems.

Cullaby Lake advisory
Natural Resources Manager Steve Meshke updated the board on the recent health advisory issued regarding algae blooms in Cullaby Lake. The Oregon Public Health Division issued the advisory Monday, Sept. 22 in response to water sampling that found levels of toxins associated with the blooms of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. The advisory warned visitors against any contact with the lake water, in particular children and pets.
Meshke told the board he was waiting for the results from water testing conducted earlier this week to determine when the advisory could be lifted.

ODFW Salmon and Trout Advisory Committee to meet in Astoria on Oct. 2

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program Advisory Committee will meet in Astoria on Wednesday, Oct. 1 and Thursday, Oct. 2.

On Wednesday, Oct. 1 the board will tour several local STEP projects from 1-5 p.m.  Members of the public may accompany the group during the tour but must provide their own transportation. For additional information on the field trip, contact STEP Program staff at (503) 947-6232.

The committee will meet on Oct. 2 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express Astoria at 204, West Marine Drive Astoria, Oregon 97103.

The agenda includes review of 14 mini-grant applications, updates on district STEP activities, setting the 2015 schedule, establishing STEP goals and updates on projects and administrative items.

A copy of the full agenda is available on the ODFW Web site.