New Sergeant, Climate Change, False Alarms, New Airline Service?, Getting Serious About Homelessness?, and Parking Enforcement Back Under City Control
Newport City Clerk-Recorder Peggy Hawker Monday night swore in Newport’s newest police officer. Sergeant Mike Leake, who has 16 years of professional police experience, made his swearing-in ceremony a homecoming celebration since he actually grew up in Newport.
The city council then accepted a proclamation in honor of a local group who is inviting more and more Newport area residents to learn about climate change, adding that science points to an accelerating rate of global warming and for the need to cease using fossil fuels that cause it. Climate Change clarion caller Bill Kucha and others said it will be a real challenge to unite everyone on planet Earth in order to dramatically alter the way we heat and cool our homes, propel our transportation, grow our food, preserve our oceans and just plain survive.
In light of the increasing rate of false fire alarms in Newport, the city council felt compelled to finally do something about them. Newport’s false alarm rates are very high, even for a small city like Newport. Fire Chief Rob Murphy says between the town’s fire engines and police vehicles, and time taken away from real emergencies, something has to be done. And so the city council lowered the boom. For the first two false alarms, there is no charge. But three false alarms and higher, it gets expensive. Three false alarms over a period of a year is a $50 fine. Four false alarms, the fine goes to $75. 5th false alarm in a 12 month period costs you $100.
So make sure your fire and burglar alarms are working properly and are not vulnerable to accidental activation.
The city council decided Monday evening to take another bite of the airline apple by deciding to apply for a state commercial aviation grant to entice small airline service between Newport and Portland. The council has an idea which airline they’d like to work with – said to be Boutique Airlines which flies smaller aircraft around Oregon, Southwest Washington and Idaho. Another short-hop airline provided state subsidized air service between the coast and Portland a number of years ago. But when the state subsidies ran out, they flew away.
But this time it might work – at least longer. Boutique Airlines (which is mentioned in conversations) has a long record of serving smaller towns in the Pacific Northwest. They also use smaller, more economical twin-engine aircraft. The council voted unanimously to apply for a state subsidy grant and will submit an offer to smaller air carriers to invite them to provide air service to the coast. The process is expected to take a while.
The Newport City Council got a little broad-sided by some folks who use the recently constructed Newport Aquatic Center, behind City Hall. The friction started when those in charge of Newport High School’s swim team revealed, in their opinion, that the school’s swim team will soon be getting the short end of the pool when it comes to training for swim meets – which Newport High School swimmers are pretty well known for. They’re very competitive state-wide.
Complaints that they’re squeezed out by the swim team were echoed by swim team leaders complaining that they feel squeezed out themselves. Obviously there are some scheduling problems. So the council told City Manager Spencer Nebel to get everybody around a big table and work out swim schedules so everyone can enjoy the town’s magnificent swim center. Newport High School’s swim training schedule is fast approaching so Nebel is aiming to have everything figured out and scheduled by November 15th – the day of the next City Council meeting.
The City Council also told Mr. Nebel they agree that there’s been more talk than action in rising to the challenge of increasing homelessness on the coast. The council approved the launching of an element of the recently adopted 2040 Vision plan for Newport. The council told City Manager Spencer Nebel they want a series of experts on homelessness to assemble a committee of resource representatives to sit down on a regular basis and get some traction in solving Newport’s growing homeless crisis. There is a legislative referral on Tuesday’s election ballot that makes it easier for city, county and state governments to partner with private business and non-profits in building more affordable housing – and at lower cost.
And finally the City Council dropped their contract with TCB Security Services which has been trying to help manage the city’s tight parking situation – especially along the Bayfront and around Nye Beach. City Manager Spencer Nebel recommended that the city take the job back “in house” by hiring a parking enforcement officer. Nebel said that the city will likely get more revenue from parking violators through the efforts of a full time city employee concentrating strictly on parking. More revenue for the city and more parking turn-over on the streets of Newport. It just might work!