Newport City Council: No FEMA relief yet – Renaming Agate Beach Wayside – Fluoridated ballot wording – Top 5 accomplishments of 2015
The Newport City Council has settled on the language the voters will see on the water re-fluoridation issue expected to appear on the May 17th ballot. There was some word-smithing back and forth on the exact language but it still boiled down to whether the voters will say yes or no to resuming fluoridated water in the city’s domestic drinking water system.
Fluoridation was interrupted several years ago when the city built a new water treatment plant. Due to cost overruns on the new plant, the decision was made to interrupt the fluoridation process. But a records check showed an earlier city council had passed an ordinance that fluoridation be added to the water supply and so the city began making plans to resume fluoridation.
But due to the perennial debate over whether fluoridation is effective or whether it’s more of a hazard than a benefit, a local group convinced the city council to put the matter on the May 17th ballot. If the voters vote yes, the water will be fluoridated. If the vote is no, fluoridation will not be added to the city’s drinking water.
Newport doesn’t extend its disaster designation.
Correction on earlier story. FEMA hasn’t yet determined one way or another whether disaster relief will be given to Lincoln County. City Public Works Director Tim Gross says there’s a public side to FEMA relief and there’s a private side. Damaged bridges, roads and damaged water or sewer systems rack up the dollars rather quick. So it’s easier to anticipate FEMA money for the public side. The private side, he says, is a little different. He says Tillamook County flooded pretty heavily in their downtown so there may be a big damage number that Newport’s NE 70th home slides could be added to and get FEMA money for the private sector. Gross says he expects a decision from FEMA within two weeks to a month.
Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy said repeated inspections along NE 70th shows the ground is still moving under several homes on the north side of the street. One house is largely already at the bottom of the Schooner Creek ravine. The one next door, to the west, has been red-tagged as unsafe to even set foot in. Other homes aren’t faring much better – now even worse that the hillside appears to be still moving.
Testimony before the council contended that the ground the homes was built on was largely put there as fill material atop the ravine. The houses existed for years without any sign of trouble. But continued torrential rains in early December undermined the hillside and the fill material apparently, and it started giving way. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover landslides. Any relief would have to come from FEMA, which again, we’ll hear about in two weeks to a month.
Top issues of 2015 according to City Manager Spencer Nebel
And in a document read by interim City Manager Ted Smith, written by the vacationing regular City Manager Spencer Nebel, the top five issues of 2015 were:
1. The process of adopting local city rules regulating retail sales of marijuana in the city. State laws also pertain to the growing, processing and sales of retail marijuana.
2. The issue of fluoridated water – the great debate – and placing it on the May 17th ballot.
3. The creation of new Urban Renewal Districts in Newport – one that takes in downtown Newport north along 101 to Agate Beach. The other includes McLean Point as part of the Port of Newport’s major renovation of the International Terminal.
4. The Nye Beach Overlay Zone aimed at spurring economic growth in that part of Newport.
5. Trying to grapple with the future of the Newport Airport. It’s gotten a new main runway, but managing the airport now appears headed for the private sector that can not only turn a profit for the city (as opposed to a current quarter million dollar deficit annually) and the recruiting of private Fixed Base Operator to make that happen. The selection of one of several proposals just received from a number of private companies will produce progress toward making the airport self-sufficient – no longer requiring a subsidy from the city’s general fund.
Renaming the Agate Beach Wayside –
And the council made a commitment to try to get the Oregon Department of Transportation to name the soon-to-be-completed Agate Beach Wayside, at the north end of town, the Ernest Bloch Memorial Wayside. Ernest Bloch died at the age of 78 in Newport after a long career of writing classical music.
Although Mr. Bloch showed a deep interest in photography and developed a sizeable collection of personal photographic works, he is probably best remembered for creating classical music. Most of his well known works were heavily influenced by Jewish religious and folk music. His composition, Schelomo (1916), for cello and orchestra, was dedicated to the cellist Aleixandre Barjansky.
Newport is also home to a music appreciation group that has long lauded Mr. Bloch’s musical compositions.
Sister City Celebration coming up
And the city council got an update from former Mayor Mark McConnell on this year’s celebration of 50 years of Newport being Mombetsu Japan’s Sister City. Newport will entertain visits from Mombetsu dignitaries and a celebration dinner, a new monument and the planting of a cherry tree next to City Hall, and a number of Newport dignitaries and residents flying over to Mombetsu Japan to commemorate a half-century of municipal sisterhood.
Two new volunteer firefighters sworn in
And two new Newport residents were sworn in as the newest additions to Newport Fire Department. With their proud wives looking on, City Clerk-Recorder Peggy Hawker gave the oath of service, to which both Tommy Walker and Larry Wootten swore allegiance in their service to Newport as firefighters. Newport, like many rural communities, relies very heavily on volunteers to supplement regular full-time city and fire district employees to get the job done 24/7, 365 days a year. Typically when full time positions open up in the fire department, those within the rank of volunteers are given strong consideration based on proven performance as volunteers. Volunteers undergo a great deal of training and practice drills to main their firefighting rating which also helps in their promotion within the ranks of volunteers – and that also helps them land full time professional firefighting jobs.