Renaming Don Davis Park – Pats on the backs for City Manager and City Attorney – Losing old modulars – and residents demand no timber chemical spraying above Newport’s water supply!Financial atta-boys to city manager and city attorney.
Saying that the city of Newport is lucky to have him, the Newport City Council Monday night gave City Manager Spencer Nebel a long-awaited 3.5% pay raise, bringing his base salary to just over $134,600. The council said Nebel has the city well organized, understands priorities and sticks to them, works well with others across all city departments, is good at analyzing city finances and spending priorities yet preserving enough energy to provide foresight and vision looking to the future.
And speaking of the future, the council wants Nebel to get out in the community more and do more face to face with business and civic leaders. Joining Rotary was on the council’s suggestion list. They would like Nebel to ride herd on city code enforcement, examine the organization of the engineering and public works departments as part of the upcoming city budget for the new fiscal year and to reserve some intellectual and managerial energy to guide the city in fulfilling the goals in the recently formulated Greater Newport Area Vision 2040 plan.
The city council also evaluated the job performance of City Attorney Steve Rich saying he has been doing a an excellent job for the city and he too got a pay raise of 3.5% with a pay base of just over $115,000.
The city council agreed to re-name Don Davis Park at the foot of Olive Street. They’re changing the name to add Don Davis’ wife Priscilla Ann to the name. Mrs. Davis died January 22nd of this year and Don wanted her remembered as his life-partner who had a lot to do with his success as Newport’s City Manager for many years. Priscilla Ann was very active in the community in her own right.
However the city council agreed with city staff that changing the name of the park to Don and Priscilla Ann Davis Park might be a little much, seeing as the wayfinding and street signs might get a bit long. Councilors tossed around the idea of shortening the name to Don and Ann Davis Park, and it was mentioned that Don would go along with it. So the council decided to bring the issue back before the council in the near future to officially decide on the name change.
The city council got some less than good news on their hopes to recycle several modular homes that were damaged by a hill slide back in 2015. The homes, formally perched atop a bluff on NE 70th, were rescued, so to speak, by being transported to a temporary storage area at the Newport Airport. It was hoped they could be renovated and made available for housing – either for residents or new hires at the city knowing it can take a long time to find an affordable house in the Newport area.
But as it turned out, the homes were pushed and stretched by the landslide, even if they didn’t fall to the creek below like two others. So they were judged to be, like Humpty Dumpty, unable to be put back together again. Council decided to let inspectors see what is salvagable, a-la-Habitat for Humanity, and dispose of what’s left.
Finally, the council was confronted by some residents who contend that a major timber company wants to apply harmful herbicides and pesticides throughout a large clear cut on timberlands above Newport’s sole source of drinking water – Big Creek Reservoir. Hancock Timber says they spray with the chemicals to keep down brushy competition so they don’t compete with young seedlings destined to be big trees someday.
Group leader Debra Gant told the council that the toxic chemicals, even though administered on the ground from backpacks, can still get into Newport’s water supply, which they contend is a health threat. Gant pointed out that when the Depoe Bay City Council learned that Hancock was going to spray above Depoe Bay’s water reservoir, they protested to Hancock and Hancock backed off. Gant said Newport should demand the same consideration.
Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross said he’s been in touch with Hancock and says the timber company will not spray if an agreement with the city cannot be reached. To be continued.