Sep 152014
 
Newport City Council File Photo

Newport City Council
File Photo

Town water system improvements -

Newport City Councilors Monday night decided to float revenue bonds to fund much needed water system improvements, not the least of which is the new Agate Beach water tank and all the plumbing, water lines and pump stations that goes with it – all aimed at better water flow for fire protection for that end of town. The revenue bond decision is not to exceed $18 million in expenditures for these and other water projects down the road. The projects would be launched gradually over time to drag out the expenditures so as to stretch out the financial hit to water customers. Recently, annual water bill increases have been mentioned in the 4% a year range.

City Finance Director “Emeritus” Bob Gazewood said that by agreeing on the bonding option, the voters of Newport have the legal right to collect sufficient signatures to put the issue on the ballot for an up or down vote. They’ll have 30 days starting around Friday or Saturday after a public notice is published in a local newspaper. If no voter initiative surfaces, the plan moves forward. There are a lot of aging and leaky water lines around Newport – some many decades old. City Public Works Director Tim Gross has said often in the past that Newport needs to spend upwards of $3 million a year each for water and sewer to get the city caught up and to stay caught up on maintaining it’s sewer and water system.

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Upgrading water meter reading -

The city council also approved spending nearly $300,000 to automate the rest of the town’s water meters. Under the new system, water meters can be read by simply driving by a home or business without having to stop. The system involves a radio transmitter built within each water meter that can be read remotely. And the sweet part of the plan is that Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, which already has an automated meter reading program of its own, will help the city reduce costs by letting the city onto its system at a good rate. The switch out of old meters for the new ones will take a number of months to accomplish. The new system will, of course, reduce the number of workers associated with meter reading. But instead of laying anyone off, Public Works Director Tim Gross said he’s got some holes in his department work force that are critical to water system operations that will absorb those soon-to-be former meter readers.

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Evaluating Newport’s still rather new City Manager -

And the council Monday night agreed on an evaluation procedure for City Manager Spencer Nebel’s first year at the helm. Councilors will get their individual evaluation form tomorrow, the 16th, fill it out and turn the forms in by the 23rd of the month. An executive session of the council will be held on September 29th to discuss the evaluations given by individual councilors – what Nebel is doing right and where there might be room for improvement, if that is in fact the case. Then a final report will be produced during a public city council meeting on October 6th. They’ll also announce whether Nebel merits a bump up in pay.

Generally speaking, the council, as a whole, seems extremely pleased with Nebel’s first year performance – the way he has brought order and organizational efficiencies to the city so officials and workers can become more effective in getting their work done and in Nebel providing competent and consistent leadership for all city departments as well as the city council.

In short, the long leadership drought has been officially declared over.

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Cat’s out of the bag for Newport’s new city attorney –

City Councilors David Allen and Dick Beemer politely threw caution to the wind Monday evening and announced who they, as a subcommittee of two, will recommend to be the city’s new city attorney. He’s the current County Counsel of Josephine County, Steven Rich. Mr. Rich will likely be formally offered the position of Newport City Attorney at the council’s regular meeting on October 6th. The city has been without a strong consistent in-house legal resource to help guide the council through what are often complicated legal issues. It is still contemplated that when highly specialized legal services are required that may involve human resource matters or Oregon’s notoriously complicated state land use statutes, that supplemental outside legal advice may be appropriate.

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 Posted by at 11:00 PM
Sep 152014
 
Dr. G's front porch view of the widening clouds of smoke from the Estacada fire.

Dr. G’s front porch view of the widening clouds of smoke from the Estacada fire.

Governor Kitzhaber invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act today in response to the 36 Pit Fire burning near Estacada. The fire threatens 168 homes.

“The smoke in the Willamette Valley and the continuing hot temperatures are sobering reminders that wildfire season continues to affect Oregonians directly,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “This declaration allows us to deploy more resources to battle this fire to help residents and firefighters.”

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In accordance with ORS 476.510-476.610, Governor Kitzhaber determined that a threat to life, safety, and property exists due to the fire and that the threat exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local firefighting personnel and equipment.

The Governor’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire.

The emergency was declared for the 36 Pit Fire only and is effective immediately.

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 Posted by at 7:49 PM
Sep 152014
 

Courtesy NOAA

Courtesy NOAA


CO2 loading over last 650K years

Climate researchers have reported that the Pacific Northwest has warmed up over the four decades and is expected to warm up even faster in the decades ahead. And all indicators point to human activity – largely the greenhouse gas pollution from the countless coal fired power plants and automobiles and trucks around the world.

The latest update on global warming comes from a publication of Oregon State University. Click here.

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 Posted by at 7:06 PM
Sep 152014
 

trick or treat fun run

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 Posted by at 6:45 PM
Sep 152014
 
Juvenile Sea Stars UCSC photo

Juvenile Sea Stars
Maya George, UCSC photo

University of California Santa Cruz and Humboldt State University Marine Laboratory in Arcata, CA are reporting sightings of small juvenile sea stars in their inter-tidal shorelines. Marine scientists say this bodes well for chances of a recovering a sea star population that all but disappeared up and down the West Coast in a matter of months. They just wasted away, one arm at a time and then died.

But the appearance of juvenile sea stars has raised hopes that Mother Nature may be back at work repopulating these apex predators who are so important at preserving the health of the inter-tidal shoreline of the West Coast.

However, it’s critical that these juvenile sea stars not be similarly dispatched by the sea star wasting disease. Sadly, some are. But it’s not known to what extent.

The rest of the story is in the Eureka Times-Standard in Eureka, CA. Click here.

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 Posted by at 6:33 PM
Sep 152014
 

cover oregon banner 3-14

When it was first reported that up to 10,000 Cover Oregon enrollees might have been given too much in tax credits and therefore might owe some tall dollars to the federal government at tax time, the uproar was thunderous. Many Republicans and Democrats called for the immediate end of Cover Oregon seeing the mistake as more bad news that had already sent a tsunami of criticism across Cover Oregon from it’s thoroughly botched exchange computer sign up system.

But, as happens so often with these kinds of issues, it appears that the tax incentive goof up affects far few people than originally believed.

Here’s the story in the Oregonian. Click here.

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 Posted by at 6:03 PM
Sep 152014
 

4pm
Vehicle on side of Highway 20 hit by passing vehicle. Two other vehicles possibly involved. Highway 20 milepost 18 Just west of Eddyville .

One vehicle into a tree.

4:13pm
All vehicles are off the pavement. No blockage to the highway but caution is required.

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 Posted by at 4:00 PM
Sep 152014
 
Enjoying the last lazy days of Summer 2014 Greg Henton photo

Enjoying the last lazy days of Summer 2014
Greg Henton photo

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 Posted by at 3:15 PM
Sep 152014
 

swim deal newport pool

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 Posted by at 3:10 PM
Sep 152014
 
Wikipedia photo

Wikipedia photo

When the first white explorers moved across the great American West, they found fertile prairies and huge stretches of massive old growth forests. And in Oregon those forests were seemingly endless as they were thick with trees – big trees – trees so large that that one section today would hardly fit between the trailers of a modern day logging truck.

Those days and those trees are gone. But contemporary forestry researchers are figuring out how those trees got to be so big and so unfazed by fire. The answer lies in their discovery that fire and Mother Nature got along quite well – fire had found its own rightful place in the ecology of forests.

Determining exactly what that rightful place looks and acts like is the perpetual quest of forestry researchers at Oregon State University. And they haven’t found Smoky Bear anywhere in it.

Here’s a quick video from OSU:

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 Posted by at 2:30 PM