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Newport City Council: New council member picked and everything you never wanted to know about Covid-19

And now a word from Newport City Hall. Fasten your seat belts.

Twelve Newport residents interviewed with the Newport City Council Monday. Lots of eager candidates to fill a vacancy on the Newport City Council – 12 candidates at last count – and it came down to two people and the council picked Aaron Collett, a six year resident of the town.

Collett started out by attending Stanford University, in the heartland of Silicon Valley south of San Francisco. Upon graduation he launched a much lauded career in engineering, planning, and building large commercial projects. Collett eventually became Oregon State University’s Infrastructure Project Manager. He then migrated to the private sector joining a high profile engineering services company called Civil West which opened the door for him to master business development, client services management, and eventually took over management of Civil West’s Newport facility.

Collett presented himself to the city council as a pretty good grants writer – including convincing many grant sources to help him build ambitious facilities. Collett also said that his experience has taught him that major projects like roads, streets, powerlines, sewer, water and other vital infrastructure must be paid close attention to, because if you don’t keep them up, you’ll have to replace vital public services at higher cost rather than maintaining them through the years. In short, he says, neglect is far more expensive than responsible maintenance.

Collett also mentioned something that should give a lot of Newport area families some hope – more affordable housing.

The Newport City Council also grabbed a tiger by the tail by finally focusing on the 250 to 350 year intervals between the mother of all earthquakes and tsunamis – the Cascadia Subduction Zone a couple hundred miles to sea. It’s where the churning and grinding Pacific Cascadia Subduction Zone undercuts the North American continent. The council showed great interest in reducing, if not totally eliminating new construction in Central Coast communities that have homes and businesses built within a stone’s throw of the ocean. After such an earthquake those living close to the sea will be in great danger. The council agreed with staff that it’s well past time to discourage construction within striking range of a giant wall of water coming ashore and wiping out everything in its wake. Re-evaluating local zoning codes and “current” elevation of land above sea level is prompting a call to respect the fact that the subduction zone “pops” every 250 to 350 years. The last huge shaker and tsunami roared ashore on January 26, 1700. By the calendar, that puts the threat level of a very damaging tsunami right at our doorsteps and could strike at any time.

On a lighter note, the City of Newport is positioning itself to enter into a contract with KPTV-TV in Portland that likes to put weather-watching cameras in rather beautiful areas of Oregon – especially along the coast. Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel told the council and the community that KPTV would like to use strategically placed LIVE TV cameras atop seaside buildings or poles to help draw more tourists to the Oregon Coast. Final details on advertising rates have yet to be worked out but it appears that Newport is about to put itself even more boldly in the minds of Portland and Eugene viewers that visiting Newport is a very big and enjoyable deal. A contract is said to be in the works.

Some recently graduated Lincoln County high school seniors laid out a plan to Newport City Councilors that they want the Central Coast to join millions of Americans in convincing the country that in many instances street policing has gotten too rough – even deadly. The case George Floyd, a black man, was strangled on the streets of Minneapolis because he was allegedly caught passing a phony twenty dollar bill at a downtown market. Floyd protested being detained but soon was thrown to the ground with a police officer’s knee crushing his neck. In a little under 9 minutes Mr. Floyd was dead setting off a nationwide outrage. The three teens told the council that they’re very nervous about the country’s future with so many law enforcement agencies harboring “quick to violence” tactics even for minor street offenses. Former students Ruben Kruger, Sophie Goodwin-Rice and Jenny Beltran admitted being afraid of the police – but also admitting that building better relationships between police and the communities they’re sworn to protect is the way out of our violent tendencies. Newport Police Chief Jason Malloy agreed that the country has a problem but that he is more than willing to get the Newport public and law enforcement to come together and iron this thing out – that violence should never be a last resort on the street, in a shopping mall or driving down the road. Chief Malloy said he’s organizing serious meetings between the public and his police staff to help ensure Newport remains a safe and secure community. It’s not perfect – but it’s no Minneapolis along with many other cities with officers who resort to deadly violence all too often and all too quickly. Chief Malloy said his department will soon launch community meetings aimed at improving public relations with those who are sworn to protect and defend the American people.

And finally, the council got the less-than-sterling news that orders given to Newport area neighbors to sequester in place due to the Covid-19 virus has cost our local artists dearly. Employees have even been temporarily furloughed to stay home until the Visual Arts Center and the Performing Arts Center can once again invite the public to c’mon back and enjoy the seemingly never-ending stream of artistic accomplishments on paper, in sculpture, in music and dance. With perhaps six-to-nine more months before a vaccine and/or effective treatment for the Covid-19 Virus can be developed, it’s best to wear a face-mask when out and around – because so many people who have the virus but who don’t show symptoms, are the greatest threat to their friends and neighbors and family members. Let’s hope those vaccines arrive by Thanksgiving or Christmas – a virus cure delivered by Santa. Be safe, stay smart and stay home whenever possible.

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