WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Newport’s full blown housing crisis

Letter to the Editor:

A HOUSING CRISIS IN REAL TIME

Recently, I had an availability in an apartment here in Newport. Upon posting my ad on Craig’s List, I was inundated with phone calls, emails, and text messages. Within days, I approved my new tenant. I didn’t delete the ad and as a result I continued to get contacted about the apartment… for days and days after. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a closer accounting of how many contacts I received, but my best estimate is the total ran between 40 and 50.

Why am I sharing this story? Because what this shows is exactly how critical our housing crisis is in Newport and Lincoln County. With the VRDs wiping out most long time rental opportunities there are simply not nearly enough apartments and housing available to accommodate our pressing needs. We, as a community, MUST and CAN do something about this horrible situation. And the first thing we can do is to stop the County from moving forward with the proposed redevelopment of the Fairground property.

This almost 10-acre site in the heart of downtown Newport is the most important property in Lincoln County. Centrally located, within walking distance of schools, shops, and work, it would make the perfect place to put hundreds of apartments available for our own citizens who desperately need a place to call home. There have been conversations for years about this housing crisis while the situation only gets worse, and almost nothing is being done by our local governments to alleviate the problem.

And now, with the adoption of the Fairgrounds Master Plan, the County insists on spending well over $12 million on a facility that will never pay for itself, on a site that could be used for much more pressing needs.

We must ask ourselves, does this make sense? Why should we throw away $600,000 a year to subsidize this project that fails on all levels?

Yes, we support 4-H. And we suggest moving it to a more suitable location within the county and building their campus. Toledo has already expressed an interest in having discussions with the County about hosting the Fair there. And, as far as building a Convention Center on the old Fairgrounds property, please show me the research that documents the demand and the interest from groups that are supposed to use this building.

Furthermore, we already have a superb space that can accommodate most of the events planned for this unnecessary new building. The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center has 21,000 sq ft, and can serve as a beautiful venue for almost all occasions. Why should we waste our precious tax dollars to build a building that we don’t need?

Housing, and taking care of our local residents should — and must — be our top priority. Not a boondoggle guaranteed to throw away essential money we need for our own.

Gerry Barrett
CommonSense-LincolnCounty
Newport

Community Dialog: Immigration Issues

The Immigration Dialog

How is Lincoln County affected by the current national immigration controversy? What are the economic and societal effects locally? What are the public safety issues for all residents? Go beyond the headlines and join the discussion with community leaders on Friday, March 15th at 6:30pm. The forum will be held in the Community Room at Oregon Coast Community College, Newport at 400 SE College Way.

The panel of four will begin the program followed by an open discussion period with audience participation.

Pastor Bob Barrett, Yachats Community Presbyterian Church.
Bob just returned from a trip to the Mexican Border. He will share some of his experiences and observations. Prior to ordained ministry Bob worked as a Developmental Disabilities Case Manager for the State of CT, and later for the County Mental Health Department, in Winfield, Kansas. When not preaching, or otherwise engaged in “church work,” Bob can be found advocating, agitating, instigating and protesting; working for a just world.

Katie Moss is an activist and volunteer from Yamhill County.
Last summer she found herself in the center of a human rights crisis with immigrants being held secretly at the local federal prison, co-housed with criminals and violent offenders. She organize a large group of volunteers who signed to pick up these asylum seekers when they were released. They were taken to safe shelters, also housed in churches,
organizing the same group of volunteers to give rides to and raise money for ICE victims’ families who become orphans and widows for many months as their fathers and husbands are held in detention centers across the west coast.

Click here for coupon

Sheriff Curtis Landers, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Landers has been with Sheriff’s Office for 31 years. He has held positions of Records/Property Clerk, Corrections Deputy, Patrol Deputy, Patrol Supervisor, Administrative Lieutenant and has been serving as Sheriff since June 2016. Sheriff Landers attended the FBI National Academy, the Oregon State Sheriff Association Command College, the Supervisory and Middle Management courses and possess an executive certification from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

Pastor Angel Torres, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Newport. He is in charge of the Hispanic ministry working closely with immigrants. Angel went to Bible college in Texas where he got his Bachelor degree in theology. He is married and has two sons – both attend Newport High School. Angel has been a pastor for over twenty years. He spent fifteen years pastoring in Spain and came to Newport five years ago.

Click here for details

Please take the opportunity to join this informative conversation in a comfortable and safe environment.

This event is sponsored by KYAQ Community Radio Station, National Organization of Women (NOW), and the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church.

Letter to the Editor – Oppose County Commons Fairgrounds Rebuild

To the people of Lincoln County:

For the past three months, we have not heard anything from the Lincoln County Commissioners about their proposed Convention Center on Fairgrounds property. Perhaps County Counsel, Wayne Belmont, is waiting until after the election to see if he has two incumbents who will vote to proceed with this folly. If Doug Hunt is not re-elected, then the two newly elected women will hold the deciding votes, as the remaining incumbent, Claire Hall, remains a lone enthusiastic supporter of this guaranteed money-losing debacle.

As of yet, we the people have not seen a real budget. We haven’t even seen a business plan! Can you imagine taking this project to a bank and asking for a loan of more than $7 Million, which is only a portion of the projected full cost of more than $10 Million!! But that is what the County intends to do. For this, the people will get a metal building — metal roof, metal sides, concrete floor with no carpeting, and no interior room dividers. And that $7 million dollar figure does not include cost of operations, furnishings, or full-time staff. This project is guaranteed to lose huge sums of money every year, forever! How ironic that Commissioner Hunt touts his fiscal abilities as a reason to re-elect hi

CommonSense-LincolnCounty remains committed in opposition to this terrible waste of our County tax dollars. We hope you, the citizens of Lincoln County, are following this project, and will voice your objections to throwing away even more of our tax dollars. Please attend Board of Commissioner meetings (every other Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Courthouse), and City Urban Renewal meetings when this topic is discussed, and consider writing letters to the editor of the Newport News-Times, Lincoln City News-Guard, and NewsLincolnCounty.com. We believe County money should be spent on issues that support our local needs, not those of the millions of tourists who continue to visit our coastal communities, in spite of not having a Convention Center. For further information, or to get involved, contact us at the address below.

Thank all of you for your continued support.
Gerry Barrett
commonsenselincolncounty@gmail.com
Facebook.com/CommonSense-LincolnCounty-149949655878812

Click here for details

Letter to the Editor: Newport Pulling Out of “The County Commons” Project? Maybe, maybe not….

Letter To The Editor: From Carla Perry, Common Sense-Lincoln County

All Lincoln County residents are invited to attend a Newport Urban Renewal meeting dealing with a proposal to have the city of Newport invest heavily in the Lincoln County Commons renovation project at the county fairgrounds. The meeting is set for Monday, August 20, 5:30pm, Newport City Council Chambers at City Hall.

The city will consider withdrawing any and all city urban renewal funds from the project.
(Editor’s note: The city will also consider providing financial support for the project.)

At the June 30 meeting of the Newport Urban Renewal Agency, County Counsel Wayne Belmont indicated the County would move ahead with the redevelopment of the Fairgrounds property even if they did not receive the $3 Million they were requesting from the City of Newport. This is welcome news, because it allows the City to reconsider alternative uses for those funds.

In response to Mr. Belmont’s statement, Common Sense-Lincoln County representative, Gerry Barrett, sent a letter to the City of Newport asking that the City formally notify the County it is withdrawing from consideration the allocation of any Urban Renewal funds towards the Fairgrounds redevelopment project. In response to that request, the Newport City Manager scheduled a special Urban Renewal meeting and the public is invited. Please consider attending to share your opinions on this topic. If you cannot attend, letters can be submitted to Peggy Hawker at p.hawker@newportoregon.gov

The meeting is scheduled for Monday August 20th at 5:30 p.m. in the Newport City Council Chambers.
The agenda packet will be on the City’s web site http://newportoregon.gov/ by the end of the work day on Thursday August 16.

Thank you,
Carla Perry
CommonSense-LincolnCounty

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Memo to the City Council by City Manager Spencer Nebel – Friday Afternoon

Respectfully submitted,
Spencer Nebel, City Manager
City of Newport

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An Open Letter to the Newport Council and the Lincoln County Commissioners

At the July 30th meeting of the Urban Renewal Agency, City Council member Dietmar Goebel asked Wayne Belmont, County Counsel and chief booster for the effort to redevelop the County Fairgrounds, whether or not the County would still move ahead with this project if the City of Newport was not willing to commit spending $3 million dollars in Newport Urban Renewal funds.

Mr Belmont replied, “Yes.”

This is very welcome news. Apparently, the Commissioners have identified alternative funding sources for their project, which is an endeavor that will never pay for itself. This now allows the City of Newport to reconsider alternative uses for these much-needed funds.

Therefore, on behalf of CommonSense-LincolnCounty, we ask the City of Newport’s Urban Renewal Agency to formally notify the County Commissioners that they are withdrawing from consideration the allocation of any Newport Urban Renewal funds towards the Fairgrounds redevelopment project.

Thank you
Gerry Barrett
CommonSense-LincolnCounty
Newport, Oregon

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Letter to the Editor – “Proposed” Lincoln County Commons Project

The comments, observations, recommendations or opinions expressed by those submitting a Letter to the Editor are those strictly of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions observations of the staff and management of NewsLincolnCounty.com or its advertisers.
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An Open Letter to the Newport Council and the Lincoln County Commissioners

At the July 30th meeting of the Urban Renewal Agency, City Council member Dietmar Goebel asked Wayne Belmont, the County Counsel and chief booster for the project, if the county could redevelop the County Fairgrounds on their own, and still move ahead with this project even if the City of Newport was not willing to commit spending $3 million dollars in Urban Renewal funds on the project.

Mr Belmont replied, “Yes.”

This is very welcome news. Apparently, the Commissioners have identified alternative funding sources for their project, which is an endeavor that will never pay for itself. This now allows the City of Newport to reconsider alternative uses for these much-needed funds.

Therefore, on behalf of CommonSense-LincolnCounty, we ask the City of Newport’s Urban Renewal Agency to formally notify the County Commissioners that they are withdrawing from consideration the allocation of any Urban Renewal funds towards the Fairgrounds redevelopment project.

Thank you,

Gerry Barrett
Common Sense-Lincoln County
Newport, Oregon

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The comments, observations, recommendations or opinions expressed by those submitting a Letter to the Editor are those strictly of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions observations of the staff and management of NewsLincolnCounty.com or its advertisers.

NewsLincolnCounty.com cordially invites Lincoln County Citizens to offer their thoughts and/or recommendations pertaining to the proposed Commons project by emailing them to:

News@NewsLincolnCounty.com

Letters to the Editor – Fairgrounds/County Commons proposal

Opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the speakers, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the staff or management of NewsLincolnCounty.com. They are strictly those of the submitters.
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Letter to the Editor
6/11/18

After reading Commissioner Hall’s statement that the County had revised its plans for the Fairgrounds (Commons), I returned to the 2018 Commons Master Planning site to see what I might have missed in the decision-making process. I found the Fair Board’s Meeting Audio 5.10.18. Oh my!

I did not find a motion regarding a revised plan for the Commons. I did not find a statement directing the consultants to develop a plan that could be implemented using only revenue from the County room tax, as Hall claims. What I heard, instead, was a meeting largely focused on how to shut down public comment on the $15 million or so fiasco, and how to avoid being accountable to the public for money already spent and money to be spent. Some examples follow.

On one point, Fair Board member Geltner addressed a previous meeting held in Depoe Bay, claiming that things got out of hand when the public was allowed to comment, but no time limits were in place. I attended that meeting and the Board made it clear that each speaker would be given five minutes. Only one speaker exceeded that time limit. Most took much less time. Did Geltner think that things got out of hand because there was actually public comment?

Later, Commissioner Hall commented that there should be “no arguing over decisions already made. Shut this down. This is not a forum.” What decisions have already been made? The consultants plan says “draft”. The Commons Planning website states “The County is seeking your input on redevelopment of the County Commons”. The site also contains a Public Involvement Plan. Hall stated on June 7 that “after the last public meeting, we went back to the consultants with clear orders: come back with a plan that can be built and operated within the resources we have.” So, why “shut down” public involvement if it has actually been helpful in guiding the direction of the Board? Note: I have not found where the consultants were actually given “clear orders” as Hall claims. That may be the case, but I have not found it.

Later, Hall comments, “This has been going on so damn long.” and “It’s ridiculous.” I agree that it has been going on a long time. Time enough to consider other locations for the Fair and associated uses. Time to thoroughly consider what is really needed. Time to thoroughly and publicly consider funding options. Time to actually involve the community in developing a plan for the Fair and Commons, rather than trying to “shut down” public involvement.

That this process has gone on for years, at the cost of untold hundreds of thousands of dollars with still little of substance, is certainly not the fault of members of the public who became involved when invited to do so. Hall and others should not blame thoughtful members of the public for a process that the Board has chosen to continue for years at great cost with little substance.

The Board will meet again this Thursday at 6:00pm at the OSU Extension Service office. It appears that we may see the next incarnation of the Events Center proposal. I hope that the public will be treated respectfully as we consider the decisions and expenditures being made in our behalf. I hope the “Shut this down” attitude does not prevail.

Sally Rose
South Beach

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Dear Commissioner Hall —

 

Your June 5 opinion piece in News Lincoln County raises some serious questions.

Most troubling is your statement: “This will cost local property taxpayers money.  False.  Every cent the county spends on construction and operations will come from the transient room tax.

This is disingenuous at best, as substantial funding for the project — some $3 million — is expected to come from City of Newport property taxpayers, who unequivocally qualify as “local property taxpayers.”  I urge you therefore to publish a correction to your misleading statement.

Six questions were asked by Gerry Barrett in April after meeting with you about this project (see Mr. Barrett’s attached News Lincoln County letter, https://www.newslincolncounty.com/?s=Barrett&searchsubmit= ).  At least three of Mr. Barrett’s six questions remain loudly unanswered:

If there is not enough money in the bank to pay for the project will the commissioners borrow the balance?

— If not, how will you finance the budget shortfall?

— Is there any risk that the citizens of Lincoln County will be asked to fund the construction phase or to fund the operational phase of the Commons if the room tax allocated to this project is insufficient?

These are valid questions that the public needs answers to, particularly given the fact that a large portion of Lincoln County citizens who are Newport property tax payers are already expected to fund the construction phase.  Mr. Barrett’s breakdown of the numbers makes abundantly clear that this project cannot even be started without city taxpayers’ money, and that room tax revenues will not be nearly enough for operating and maintenance costs, to say nothing of the inevitable cost over-runs that always occur.  Those room tax revenues upon which this entire project relies are themselves notoriously subject to the whims of climate, politics, stock market crashes, international trade wars, gas prices, and other dire effects on tourism.  To expect this variable and unreliable source of revenue to pay for such a grandiose project is pie-in-the-sky economics.

Your June 5 article also states “People didn’t vote to support this.  False.  They voted in both 2007 and 2016 to dedicate room tax revenues for it, by a 60 percent margin each time.  The 2016 measure was very specific: ‘The new tax revenue would be dedicated to increase support for the redevelopment of the fairgrounds… and also be available for operations of the facilities at that location.'”

This statement is also extremely misleading.  We may indeed have voted to dedicate new tax revenue to “increase support for the redevelopment of the fairgrounds,” but we did NOT vote for a huge allocation of Newport property taxes as well as massive county debt to pay for an unnecessary new building and pavilion instead of repairing, improving, and maintaining current fairground structures.  I urge you therefore to publish a correction to your false assertion that voters approved paying for a multi-million dollar project with taxpayers’ money.

I have personally seen far too many projects like this one either fail and go unfinished, or cost taxpayers inordinately far more than originally projected.  All those failures began with the same kind of misleading and unrealistic claims and obfuscations apparent in your article and in the commissioners’ public statements.

Because voters never approved spending taxpayers’ funds for this project, no further action or funds should be committed to it before it is placed on the ballot again, this time with an honest, accurate statement of where all of its funding shall come from.

Because to this day we, the public, have not been fully informed about the true costs of the project, the commissioners should publish a thorough and above all honest accounting of all estimated costs, including estimated costs of associated infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer, electrical, plumbing, storm water, parking, increased law enforcement, etc.  Such accounting should also include an honest and unexpurgated discussion of all alternative funding options and their potential financial liabilities for county taxpayers.

Sincerely,

Carol Van Strum

Five Rivers, Oregon

Letters to the Editor: The Fairgrounds issue continues…UPDATES…

The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letters are strictly those of the submitters.

===============================================

June 7, 2018
Once again, the County Commissioners misstate and mislead in their efforts to foist a multi-million boondoggle on the taxpayers in Lincoln County. This time, it is the person of Commissioner Hall.

Hall shamefully alleges “facts” which are not backed up by the very plan that the Commissioners paid consultants many hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop. Let me sight just a few.

* Hall states as “fact” that “the plan calls for a new exhibit hall of about 15,000 square feet”.

* FALSE. The plan lists a range of sizes for a multi-purpose building from 12,000 – 45,000 square feet. If the 15,000 size has been selected by the Commissioners, that decision is not available on the Commons Master Planning site. Either Hall is just making up a number, or the decision-making process the Board is following is being hidden from the public.

* Hall states “Every cent the county spends on construction and operations will come from the transient room tax.” He estimates this revenue to be $425,000 annually.

* FALSE. This claim is in direct conflict with the plan the Board paid consultants to develop. That plan states:
“The annual debt payment would be about $1,060,000. The County would be able to dedicate $400,000 to $475,000 of Transient Lodging tax revenue to the debt payment, depending on the operational deficit. The County will need to find funding to cover the funding gap of $500,000 to $600,000 per year.” (emphasis added)

Why would Hall make such an outlandish claim? According to the consultant’s plan, it will actually cost over twice what Hall estimates is actually available from the room tax. Does the Board have a financing mechanism in mind that it has not shared with the public?

Taxpayers should also be aware that these figures do not include actual operation of the facility, nor annual maintenance costs.

Further, it is apparent that Hall is aware that what she is claiming as “fact” is actually intended to mislead. Why else would she later add a paragraph naming a variety of public enterprises, such as libraries and recreational centers, which provide services to the public but are not self-sustaining? I love libraries and art centers and the Lincoln County Fair! I support paying for them with my tax dollars. I don’t support this particular proposal because it does not reflect what we in Lincoln County actually need or want! This proposal is full of hidden costs, unsupported claims, and lame allegations of public mandate.

Hall continues to claim that the Board has a mandate for this fiasco because of two approvals of a County transient lodging tax. Here again, she misstates the language of the 2016 ballot measure, and, therefore, what the voters actually supported. Ballot Measure 21-165 actually states:

“The additional revenue would be available for future fairgrounds redevelopment and operations, or similar facilities and operations throughout the County” (emphasis added).

This is not, as Hall asserts, a mandate for this specific project on this specific site. Further, we all know that placing a tax on tourists is not the same as agreeing to tax ourselves, and shame on Hall and the rest of the Board for continuing to insist that they are.

Politicians have used this tactic for years—repeating the same falsehoods in the hopes that they will eventually be accepted as fact. I expect this behavior in Washington, D.C. I will not tolerate it from my own local elected officials!

So, the Board of County Commissioners continues to make false and misleading statements and continues to push a proposal that has never had the support of the voters and taxpayers of Lincoln County, which we do not need and cannot afford. Why? Do they have plan, approach or information that they have not released to the public?

The Board should stop playing us for a bunch of fools and patsies, and, instead get off this crazy, expensive merry-go-round and address what we really need—a Lincoln County Fairgrounds.

Sally Rose
South Beach

IN REBUTTAL:
From County Commissioner Claire Hall

A new Lincoln County Fairgrounds is exactly what the public is going to get. I am sorry I wasn’t clear in my earlier submission. The construction and operating costs that Ms. Rose references from the earlier document are correct, but they are based on the consultants’ original concept, which represented the ultimate wish list of those who participated in our initial stakeholder interviews. However, after the last public meeting, we went back to the consultants with clear orders: come back with a plan that can be built and operated within the resources we have. The 15,000 square foot exhibit hall, 25,000 square foot pavilion and the thrift store re-purposed for 4-H represents the entirety of the project, and it can be built and operated without one cent of general fund dollars.

Claire Elizabeth Hall
Lincoln County Commissioner


IN REBUTTAL

From Sally Rose, South Beach

Interesting claim, Commissioner Hall, but where is the plan? Where are the facts? So far, we still see nothing concrete, just unsupported statements and platitudes. When will we actually see something of substance?

Sally Rose
South Beach

REBUTTAL BY CO. COMMISSIONER CLAIRE HALL

Hi Carol,

I didn’t mention the Urban Renewal money for two reasons: it is my
understanding that the city has not finalized its committment of these
funds, and if they are provided, they want them to go for ancillary
improvements like utility upgrades and additional parking, as opposed to
the construction of the project itself. As the Urban Renewal Agency for
the City of Newport, the City Council has the authority to determine
whether or not the allocation of funds to support the project benefits
Newport residents and taxpayers. I am not able to speak for the
council–they can and will do that for themselves–but my understanding
is that they see this project as being within the broad scope of what
Urban Renewal is designed to accomplish–improved community
infrastructure that stimulates economic activity and growth.

The revised plan shows a projected $550,000 per year available for the
Commons project through the 2007 and 2016 room tax measure. The revised
plan which will be presented to the Master Plan Steering Committee on
Thursday allocated $400,000 of that per year for capital costs over
thirty years, with $150,000 for an operating subsidy. If room tax
revenues continue to rise and income from the facility exceeds
projections, we could pay off the capital costs sooner. If the need for
subsidy exceeds the $150,000 figure, we can extend the payout of the
capital costs. Our directive to the consultants has been clear–redesign
the project to fit within the means available to us. I have not, and
never will support any kind of subsidy from the county general fund to
build or operate this facility.

I hope this helps clarify where the county stands on this.

Claire Elizabeth Hall
Lincoln County Commissioner
My pronouns are she/her/hers
cehall@co.lincoln.or.us
541-265-4100

REBUTTTAL BY CAROLE VAN STRUM

Dear Commissioner Hall —

Your June 5 opinion piece in News Lincoln County raises some serious
questions.

Most troubling is your statement: “This will cost local property
taxpayers money. False. Every cent the county spends on construction
and operations will come from the transient room tax.”

This is disingenuous at best, as substantial funding for the project —
some $3 million — is expected to come from City of Newport property
taxpayers, who unequivocally qualify as “local property taxpayers.” I
urge you therefore to publish a correction to your misleading statement.

Six questions were asked by Gerry Barrett in April after meeting with
you about this project (see Mr. Barrett’s attached News Lincoln County
letter). At least three of Mr. Barrett’s six questions remain loudly
unanswered:

— If there is not enough money in the bank to pay for the project will
the commissioners borrow the balance?

— If not, how will you finance the budget shortfall?

— Is there any risk that the citizens of Lincoln County will be asked
to fund the construction phase or to fund the operational phase of the
Commons if the room tax allocated to this project is insufficient?

These are valid questions that the public needs answers to, particularly
given the fact that a large portion of Lincoln County citizens who are
Newport property tax payers are already expected to fund the
construction phase. Mr. Barrett’s breakdown of the numbers makes
abundantly clear that this project cannot even be started without city
taxpayers’ money, and that room tax revenues will not be nearly enough
for operating and maintenance costs, to say nothing of the inevitable
cost over-runs that always occur. Those room tax revenues upon which
this entire project relies are themselves notoriously subject to the
whims of climate, politics, stock market crashes, international trade
wars, gas prices, and other dire effects on tourism. To expect this
variable and unreliable source of revenue to pay for such a grandiose
project is pie-in-the-sky economics.

Your June 5 article also states “People didn’t vote to support this.
False. They voted in both 2007 and 2016 to dedicate room tax revenues
for it, by a 60 percent margin each time. The 2016 measure was very
specific: ‘The new tax revenue would be dedicated to increase support
for the redevelopment of the fairgrounds… and also be available for
operations of the facilities at that location.'”

This statement is also extremely misleading. We may indeed have voted
to dedicate new tax revenue to “increase support for the redevelopment
of the fairgrounds,” but we did NOT vote for a huge allocation of
Newport property taxes as well as massive county debt to pay for an
unnecessary new building and pavilion instead of repairing, improving,
and maintaining current fairground structures. I urge you therefore to
publish a correction to your false assertion that voters approved paying
for a multi-million dollar project with taxpayers’ money.

I have personally seen far too many projects like this one either fail
and go unfinished, or cost taxpayers inordinately far more than
originally projected. All those failures began with the same kind of
misleading and unrealistic claims and obfuscations apparent in your
article and in the commissioners’ public statements.

Because voters never approved spending taxpayers’ funds for this
project, no further action or funds should be committed to it before it
is placed on the ballot again, this time with an honest, accurate
statement of where all of its funding shall come from.

Because to this day we, the public, have not been fully informed about
the true costs of the project, the commissioners should publish a
thorough and above all honest accounting of all estimated costs,
including estimated costs of associated infrastructure improvements such
as water, sewer, electrical, plumbing, storm water, parking, increased
law enforcement, etc. Such accounting should also include an honest and
unexpurgated discussion of all alternative funding options and their
potential financial liabilities for county taxpayers.

Sincerely,

Carol Van Strum
Five Rivers, Oregon
541-528-7151

Letter to the Editor – Lincoln County Commons

The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter.

Letter to the Editor:

Gerry Barrett has exposed the grossly inadequate funding actually available for the huge convention center proposed by the county commissioners.

Some of the shortfall might come from the city of Newport, which believes it will provide funding from the city’s new urban renewal zone. So, tax dollars that might otherwise go towards building sidewalks, paving streets, adding needed stop signs and increasing the police force beyond current 2009 staffing level, would instead be spent on building a convention center that will be a drain on county and city taxpayers, inevitably needing the maintenance and repairs the county has been unwilling to fund on the current fairgrounds.

However, even adding city tax dollars will be insufficient to fund the center’s construction.

Once construction has begun, and funding from those sources proves inadequate, the county and city will demand passage of a tax levy to provide the needed funds. The cry will be: we’ve come this far! We’ve got sunk costs! We can’t stop now, we have to finish it!

Instead, it’s time for the county commissioners learned to live within the county’s budget. The proposed convention center is not an essential government service. It’s not a road, not a police force, nor is it other essential services or infrastructure.

Like Ms. Perry, I believe there are already existing and underutilized potential convention/event/meeting structures in Newport and South Beach. In addition to the Maritime History building, there are also school buildings, including the community college’s. Schools sit empty on many weekends, breaks and most of the summer. The college has been almost empty by 5:30 pm on the weekdays and weekends. It has a large open central space, as well as many meeting rooms. Just like a convention center.

Where is the demand for the huge spaces the commissioners desire? At least one hotel along Elizabeth Street, as well as the Best Western in Agate Beach, has “convention” space and facilities that appear to be lightly used and could handle far more meetings, conventions, and trade shows than they currently do. Salishan’s convention/meeting facility has struggled unsuccessfully for years to break even.

The consultant’s report on a proposed convention center listed events that might be held there. All but one of those events has been held successfully at the middle school and Yaquina View school, successfully using existing facilities that taxpayers have already paid for.

I suggest the county commissioners seek to utilize these structures further, rather than wasting tax money on a large superfluous facility.

Susan Hogg Newport

Letters to the Editor: Proposed County Commons Improvements in Newport

The following letters to the editor concern the proposed Lincoln County Commons Exhibit Hall on the County Fairgrounds in Newport. The views and opinions expressed by the writers are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the management and staff of NewsLincolnCounty.com or its advertisers.

Letter to the Editor:
From Gerry Barrett, Newport

As a concerned Lincoln County resident, I met recently with Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall regarding community outreach regarding the “Commons” Exhibition Hall on the County Fairgrounds property, and then asked a few follow-up questions about financing of the construction and operations for that project.

These are the questions I asked:

* How much money is in the bank for the Commons project now?
* What is the proposed budget for this project?
* What restraints, if any, are there as to the use of this money?
* If there is not enough money in the bank to pay for the project will the commissioners borrow the balance?
* If not, how will you finance the budget shortfall?
* Is there any risk that the citizens of Lincoln County will be asked to fund the construction phase or to fund the operational phase of the Commons if the room tax allocated to this project is insufficient?

Commissioner Hall’s response on February 9, 2018 indicated that $2.3M was available through room tax revenues, and he helpfully included copies of the 2016 and 2007 ballot measures (#s 21-165 and 21-119) that voters passed to fund this project through increased room tax fees. Commissioner Hall indicated that there was no proposed project yet because plans haven’t been finalized, that borrowing to make up the difference between available funds and actual cost wasn’t yet decided, and he suggested the project could be done in phases when more room tax funds became available.

According to the County’s 607 County Commons Facility Fund, there is approximately $2.4M in the bank today. Measure 21-165 (2016) states that the convention center will be approximately 25,000 square feet.

“A portion of the tax is currently dedicated to the Fairgrounds Facilities Improvement Fund. That funding is intended to support the redevelopment of the fairgrounds, recently renamed the County Commons, including the addition of a new exhibit hall of about 25,000 square feet.”

So the notion that there’s no proposed project yet is false. Clearly, today there are plans for an Exhibit Center, possible new buildings, as well as upgrades to existing structures.

If you could build this for $150 per square feet, which in my opinion you can’t, the cost just for the building would be $3,750,000, which is obviously far in excess of available funds. Nor does this estimate for the building include any money for infrastructure improvements, which will need to be included in any budget. The cost for those upgrades will be quite substantial as water, sewer, electrical, plumbing, storm water, parking, and other incidentals are all required. Plus demolition and grading must be considered. Assume additional costs will be factored into the budget.

How does the County propose to fund these required upgrades? Once again, referring to Ballot Measure 21-165:

“Without any impact to local property tax payers, we’ll be able to improve the infrastructure and structures at the Commons. Included in these improvements will be electrical, plumbing, sewer, and internet services.”

Now is the time to have these discussions. Certainly, Commissioner Hall and the other two County commissioners haven’t gotten this far in the planning process to not know what the alternative funding options are. It is disingenuous and, in my opinion, reckless to say there haven’t been any County discussions about the necessity for borrowing funds to build this project. Don’t you need to know how you are going to pay for something before you make a plan to build it? Just because plans haven’t been finalized doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know approximately how much money will be needed to build the project and where that money is coming from? There isn’t enough money in the bank today to even contemplate starting unless the County has already secured sources for additional funding. And since there won’t be any impact on the taxpayers of Lincoln County, I’m wondering how they propose to go forward.

To suggest that this “Commons” project be done in phases, and paying for the additions through future room tax revenues is misleading because there isn’t enough money today to start, and even if there was enough to start, the amount of money earned each year (approximately $200,000) from room tax, after deducting expenses for operations and staffing, will not be enough to build much of anything, certainly not the plan the County has put forth to date.

Maybe I’m missing something here, and I hope I am, but I do not see how the Lincoln County Commissioners can come to us today and tell us that this project can and will be built with the existing funds, and without having any additional financial impact on the Lincoln County taxpayers. The money available today and the “Commons” plan doesn’t add up. In my opinion, it is imperative that the County Commissioners re-evaluate the wisdom of going forward with this project.

Gerry Barrett
Newport

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Letter to the Editor: Carla Perry

Open Letter To The People Of Lincoln County,

I was invited to the Video Sneak Peek of “Ebb & Flow: Life On Yaquina” held last Friday evening at the Maritime Museum on the Bayfront.

As I entered, I chatted a bit with Spencer Nebel (City Manager), and Sandy Roumagoux (Mayor), and sat next to a woman named Kathryn who had, on her lap, the original bylaws and rules book signed by the Indians who were booted out of Toledo to make way for the white settlers. She unwrapped it … all handwritten accounts of every rule they could think of as they headed off to the reservation. Kathryn’s grandmother gave her the book after holding onto it for 100 years. The book will be going back to the Tribe, but they have no place to keep it safe from dampness and decay just yet.

The “Ebb & Flow” videos were the history of Newport and Toledo and were very well done, informative, good music track, excellent short vignettes with various people interviewed doing commentary as the images came and went on topics such as Newport’s earliest history, then segments on the railroads, timber & logging, Nye Beach, Yaquina City, a segment on the fishermen with commentary by the sons and grandsons of those fishermen. In between sets of short movies, Don Davis spoke a bit, funny as usual.

But the big reason why you should have been there was the space… The Maritime Museum has numerous conference rooms, numerous reception areas with views of the river & docks, full kitchen, a real movie theater (still in the works). Numerous floors and half-floors, and patios to the outside that can hold more than 100 people. Brand new windows, the woodwork (extensive) is beautiful. Do you know Thom Frazier? A local woodworker who generally does boats, but he gave me a tour of some downstairs rooms not yet open to the public for which he’d been making the doors, doorways, and woodwork in the women’s bathroom. They saved the old windows to use as the front of display cases built along the inner wall, the old stonework left exposed in some areas. High quality, tasteful touches everywhere. The wood stairway railings lovely to touch. It’s got sufficient parking. When all renovations are complete, it will make a splendid event center.

Why do we need to build another one? This has everything the Fairgrounds event center wants to include, but the walls aren’t moveable cheap stuff. Just many, many interestingly-shaped and varied size rooms. Have you been in the building lately? It would be worth your while.

Carla Perry,
Newport
541-574-7708

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“Love Letters” @ One of Us Productions, 441 Hwy 101 North

“Love Letters” @ One of Us Productions, Yachats


One of Us Productions in Yachats will feature A.R.Gurney’s “Love Letters” from April 7 through April 23. Three different casts will rotate each weekend, offering audiences the opportunity to see this love story from different vantage points. From left are Dean Peterson, Johnni Prince, Bob Barrett, Janey Cutshall (stage manager), Greg Covell, Lorraine Barrett, and Barbara Covell. Seated is director Robbie Schoonover. For more information, call (541) 547-4121 or go to: https://www.facebook.com/One.of.Us.Productions/. Chris Graamans photo

Tickets are on sale for “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney! Purchase yours at Touchstone Gallery, Toad Hall, Ya-Hots Video Country Store, Chuck’s Waldport Video, or Crescent Moon Consignment. You can also buy at the door (box office opens half hour before show.) Ticket price: $12.

One of Us Productions presents a unique and imaginative theatre piece comprised of letters exchanged over a lifetime between two people who grew up together, went their separate ways, but continued to share confidences. As the actors read the letters aloud, what is created is an evocative, touching, frequently funny but always telling pair of character studies in which what is implied is as revealing and meaningful as what is actually written down.

Three pairs of actors will perform the roles of Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner as follows:

Bob Barrett & Johnni Prince – April 7*, 14 & 22
Dean Peterson & Lorraine Fritz Barrett – April 8, 16 & 21
Greg Covell & Barbara Covell – April 9, 15 & 23

Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

*Yachats Youth and Family Activities Program will hold a special dinner theatre fundraiser on Friday, April 7. That evening’s performance is dinner theatre only.

Calling All Green Thumbs!

Coastal winds, drenching rains and a cool maritime climate, present a challenge for those who want to grow vegetables and flowers in Lincoln County. Garden structures that can retain heat and provide protection from the wind are a great solution for establishing early plantings and protecting delicate seedlings from the outside elements. Heat loving plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, basil and eggplants can remain under shelter throughout the year.

“More On Greenhouses” is the second in the Lincoln County Master Gardeners Round Table series for 2017. If you want to learn how to jump start your garden, maximize earlier yields and work in the soil year-round, the “More On Greenhouses” Round Table presentation will offer a great opportunity. This Round Table will take place on Thursday, February 16, from 10 a.m. until noon in the community room of the Oregon Coast Community College campus in South Beach.

Dan Barrett, owner of Toledo’s, Affordable Space, will present a range of greenhouse concepts and building designs, from small cloches to commercial hot houses. He will discuss and answer questions about size, construction, coverings, soil, heat retention and much more. For those who are handy and would like to fabricate their own structure, information on where to find materials for greenhouse and cloche construction will be available.

Sally Reill, a long time master gardener with many years of experience using greenhouses, will answer questions about various ways in which to use a greenhouse. She will discuss heating, ventilation and other topics of interest related and essential to growing successfully in these garden structures.

This informative event is free to all but please call the OSU Extension Office at 541-574-6534, ext. 57411 to ensure adequate seating and materials.

The “Odd Couple” never runs out of “oddness” even 50 years later

The Odd Couple One of Us Productions Get tickets soon...

The Odd Couple
One of Us Productions
Get tickets soon…

One of Us Productions presents Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple – Female Version,” a contemporary comedy directed by Johnni Prince. This “Odd Couple” is a feminine pair of dysfunctional roommates – Olive Madison and Florence “Flo” Unger, played by Lorraine Barrett and Debbie Coxey. The cast also features Hannah Barrett (Sylvie), River Benson (Renee), Marcie Pickner (Vera), Jodi Smith (Mickey), Carl Foster Miller (Manolo Costazuela), and Zach Barrett (Jesus Costazuela).

What starts as Olive’s sincere effort to help her friend Flo, when her marriage suddenly falls apart, evolves into a hilarious string of minor tensions and major flare-ups about orderliness, responsibility, personal space, and everything else. With the help of their Trivial Pursuit-playing friends and two handsome Spanish neighbors, Olive and Flo survive three weeks as the most mismatched roommates of all time. Director Prince sums it up splendidly: “These characters are delightfully ‘Odd.’ One minute you want to hug them and the next, you want to choke them! A lot like ‘real’ life, wouldn’t you say?”

The fun-filled comedy opens Saturday, April 9, and runs for three weekends through April 24 at the Yachats Commons (441 Hwy. 101 North, Yachats). Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets are on sale at Touchstone Gallery, Toad Hall, Ya-Hots Video Country Store, Waldport Video, and Crescent Moon Consignment; online by clicking here, or at the door (box office opens half hour before the show.) Ticket price: $12.

Yachats Youth and Family Activities Program will hold a special dinner theatre fundraiser on Friday, April 8. Call (541) 547-4599 for details.

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Hot Houses for a Cool Coast

Coast Greenhouse Cooperative Extension

Coast Greenhouse
Cooperative Extension

Hot Houses for a Cool Coast
From Lincoln County Master Gardeners

Our coastal winds, drenching downpours and cool weather make growing vegetables and flowers a challenge in Lincoln County. Therefore! Garden structures that keep heat in and wind out are a great solution for getting plants established early and keeping delicate ones growing throughout the year.

If you want to learn how to jump start your garden and work in the soil year-round, the “All About Greenhouses” Round Table program is a great opportunity. This Round Table will take place on Thursday, February 26, from 10 a.m. until noon in the Community Room at the Oregon Coast Community College in South Beach.

James Knox, co-owner of Samuri Greenhouse Supplies in Albany, OR, and Dan Barrett, owner of Toledo’s, Affordable Space, will be on hand to present a range of greenhouse concepts and designs, from small cloches to commercial hot houses. They’ll field your questions about sizing , construction, coverings, soil, heat retention and much more.

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This event is free to all, but please call the OSU Extension Office at 541-574-6534 to ensure adequate seating and materials.

“All About Greenhouses” is the second in the Lincoln County Master Gardeners Round Table series for 2015. This is the fourth year that the Master Gardeners are sponsoring round table discussions oriented to gardeners and the general public. Eight round tables are being held this spring, and three will take place in the fall. A list of topics, dates and times is available on line at oregonstate.edu/lincoln/master_gardeners or by calling the Lincoln County Extension office at 541-574-6534.

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Newport: Elderly man backs into 1010 Building off 101 – injures man inside

1010 Building off Bridge Street, near 101.

1010 Building off Bridge Street, near 101.
Jim Fairchild photo

Considerable rear end damage to the car...

Considerable rear end damage to the car
Jim Fairchild photo

Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy surveys the damage.

Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy surveys the damage.
Newport Fire photo

Police and firefighters inpsect damage at 1010 Building

Police and firefighters inpsect damage at 1010 Building
Newport PD photo

An out of control car crashed rear-end first into and through the front entrance of the 1010 Medical Building off Bridge Street in Newport this morning. The accident didn’t injure the driver but it badly injured an unsuspecting elderly man who was walking through the doors at the time.

Police say it all started when 76 year old Barrett Roesing of Tidewater started his car in the parking lot of the 1010 Building and then prepared to depart. Police say Roesing put his car in reverse and his car took off at a high rate of speed in reverse, bounced off a 1010 Building support column and then crashed through the front doors of the building – unfortunately hitting the 83 year old man walking through the doors just at that instant. The impact thrust the victim through the first set of glass doors and then also through the second set of glass doors. He was very severely injured. He was rushed to PCH where he was quickly loaded aboard a medical helicopter and was flown to a trauma center in the valley.

Meanwhile, Newport Police, after talking with Mr. Roesing, determined that he had driven recklessly and had caused major injuries to another person. Roesing was cited and given a date to appear in court and then released.

No word yet on the condition of the 83 year old victim. His name was not released by police.

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Kiwanis brings Christmas to less fortunate children

Volunteer Joe Novello accompanies Sam Case student Shawn to the cash register to purchase Shawn's selections.

Volunteer Joe Novello accompanies Sam Case student Shawn to the cash register to purchase Shawn’s selections.

Rob Spooner, member of the Florence Kiwanis Club, presents a check to Sue Perretta, president of the Central Coast Kiwanis Club.

Rob Spooner, member of the Florence Kiwanis Club, presents a check to Sue Perretta, president of the Central Coast Kiwanis Club.

Wednesday after school, more than two dozen children from Sam Case Elementary, chosen by the Lincoln County School District’s HELP program and Sam Case Family Advocates, took part in the Kids In need Shopping Spree (KISS), organized by the Central Coast Kiwanis Club of Newport.

Accompanied by Kiwanis members and other community volunteers, each child was allowed to choose $100 (after generous store discounts) in shoes and clothing from the Newport Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer stores. Afterwards, the children, who ranged from kindergarten through third grade, enjoyed a party with holiday food, entertainment, and a visit from Santa at the HELP center at the former Yaquina View School. In addition to the shopping spree, 42 other children received Christmas stockings full of goodies and a $25 shoe voucher from PayLess Shoes, all donated by the club.

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“The idea originated with our charter president, John Williams,” said Sue Perretta, the current club president. “Luci Diaz, our treasurer, was instrumental in bringing it all together. The idea was to let the children have fun while providing them with something to keep them warm this winter.”

The volunteers who assisted enjoyed the experience almost as much as the kids. Afterwards, Katie Bighill noted, “I had to hold my tears back. One little boy I was with said, ‘this is the best day ever!’ My little guy told me he felt like crying because he was so excited about his light up shoes and the party! I am so thankful to have been a part of this event.”

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In addition to several community fundraising projects, some generous donations made the event possible, of which the largest was $1250 from the Florence Kiwanis Foundation. “The Kiwanis Club of Florence was one of the two sponsoring clubs for the Central Coast Kiwanis Club last year,” said Sean Barrett, president of the Kiwanis Foundation of Florence. “We were happy to help with their first big project. Our club is well established with 60 members contributing hundreds of volunteer service hours along with $30,000 annually to the community. This is the kind of impact a strong Kiwanis club can have and we hope to see the club in Newport accomplish as much within a few years.”

One of the new style of Kiwanis clubs, the Central Coast Kiwanis Club welcomes members from Yachats to Depoe Bay. They aim at having five social and service hours and just one hour meeting to do business each month. Anyone interested in learning more about Kiwanis can email sueperretta@hotmail.com.

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Depoe Bay City Council

Depoe Bay City Council File photo

Depoe Bay City Council
File photo

A note to all Depoe Bay residents from City Councilor Barbara Leff

Hi to All —

The Monday, 8/11 special event to dedicate the City Park Bridge and Nature Trail, and honor our Coast Guard and Fire District folks, is on this meeting’s agenda. We’ll also discuss (once more) the street light request from Hour Lane and Council’s request that staff review costs and any possible cost savings for employee health insurance.

Other agenda items include a possible extension of a temporary maintenance contract, water treatment plant security and surveillance, an event request and a memorial wall plaque request. The complete agenda is attached.

Thank you to those who attended the last meeting. We hope you can join us this week. Your opinion matters to us and your presence informs our deliberations. Looking forward to seeing you at the meeting!

Barb Leff

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AGENDA – City Council meeting, starts 7pm

I. Pledge of Allegiance

II. Call Meeting to Order and Establish a Quorum

III. Approve Minutes: July 15, 2014 Regular Meeting

IV. Accounts Payable

V. Special Orders
A. Interview/Appoint Applicants for City Commissions and Committees

VI. Reports of Officers, Boards, or Standing Committees
A. Depoe Bay City Park Nature Trail/Bridge Dedication and Community Picnic

VII. Public Comments

VIII. Unfinished Business
A. Directive to Shop Employee Health Insurance
B. Street Light Request – Hour Lane
C. Vista Pump Station Pressure Main – Engineering Request for Proposals (RFP)

IX. New Business
A. Request to Schedule Event August 16, 2014 in Whale Park – Treasure Depoe Bay
B. Memorial Wall Plaque Request – In Memory of Michael Miller
C. Extend Barrett Business Services Contract – Temporary Maintenance
D. Water Treatment Plant Security and Surveillance – Video Camera, Fence, Etc.

X. Correspondence

XI. City Staff Report

XII. Council Comments

XIII. Adjourn

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