Depoe Bay Mayor AJ Mattila had just barely banged the gavel to begin another city council meeting when tempers flared and despair moved throughout the council room. It was the first meeting since the death of City Councilor Skip Hoitink, whose body was found inside his Newport apartment last Friday. But beyond the grief many felt at Hoitink’s passing was a seething anger at the way the news of his demise was handled.
Long time resident John Hayes, a close friend of Hoitink’s, quickly outed who he contended was the source of the rumor that Hoitink had committed suicide – City Councilor Zeke Olsen – an occasional political foil of Hoitink and councilors Dorinda Goddard and Barbara Leff. Hayes asked Olsen if he was the source of the rumor and Olsen replied that he had talked about it but added he thought his sources were reliable.
Law enforcement investigators continue to say only that the investigation into Hointink’s death is still ongoing. No official cause of death has been released to the news media.
A very angry Hayes proceeded to demand that Olsen immediately resign his seat on the council, charging that the statement, which spread quickly throughout the town, was a cruel thing to do to Hoitink’s family and to a town filled with people who loved and admired him.
Olsen did not resign and there was no movement by anyone on the council to call for his resignation, although some harsh words were exchanged. Councilor Barbara Leff and Mayor AJ Mattila recommended that the council put up a plaque in memory and in honor of Skip Hoitink and place it on the city’s Wall of Honor downtown. Further details on other methods of honoring Hoitink’s service to the community are expected to be discussed by the council at future meetings.
Those who would like to listen to the Clerk Recorder’s official recording of the meeting can click here.
Gleneden Beach okays participation in Vista Street sewer pump and line replacement replacement
The council got a report that the Gleneden Beach Sanitary District is now fully supportive of replacing a raw sewage pump at Vista behind Pirate’s Coffee just north of the main downtown. There was, for a time, a breakdown in communications between Depoe Bay and the district during which the district strongly protested any action by Depoe Bay on the line until the project was clearly understood by the district board. Depoe Bay Public Works Supervisor Brady Weidner had been describing the frailty of the pump and the 50 year old line it’s connected to. He expressed fears that if it ever blew, which it could, he claimed, could send quite a mess through the downtown instead of to the sewer plant at the south end of town. Mayor AJ Mattila reported that recent meetings have fixed any misgivings between the two entities. The project is now moving forward.
However, the long-time sewer service agreement between the two entities is soon to be a topic of examination with regard to who pays for what on the system and in what proportion to the total costs of operating and maintaining it. The Depoe Bay sewer plant serves more customers outside its city limits than inside which allows Gleneden Beach and Salishan areas to have sewer service without having to build a sewer plant of their own.
Depoe Bay gets subtle hint from ODOT: “It may not be exactly what you want.”
The Depoe Bay City Council reluctantly agreed to sign an ODOT document that basically reveals that federal and state transportation funds are getting stretched so thin you can practically see through them. Gas tax collections in an era of electric cars and very high mileage electric-gas hybrids have reduced the amount of federal gas taxes available for highway and byway projects nationwide. No real progress on the dilemma on the issue is expected until the middle of next year at the earliest, according to U.S. Congressional leaders.
And the situation is causing funding problems right down to the local level.
At issue is a long-promised ODOT project to improve sidewalks and crosswalks south of the Depoe Bay Bridge. ODOT’s letter to the city clearly implies that the scope of the work may very well be scaled back significantly due to financial constraints due to possible diminishing federal funding. ODOT asked the council to sign an agreement that takes official note of the possible scale-back. The council voted very reluctantly to sign the agreement acknowledging that what was once hoped to be in the project could very well be trimmed considerably. The window of construction was reported to be between “the near future” and 2018.