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Newport on the move in more ways than three…

Newport City Hall

The Newport City Council appears to be jumping into electric car charging stations with nearly two feet. Councilors aren’t quite sure how to go about providing more electric charging stations in Newport but they’re committed to make whatever is possible – happen.

One of the reasons for vehicle charging stations, which some will likely be built at Walmart and at other locations around town, is the fact that city officials are also thinking about having ALL city government vehicles be battery powered. And the way to speed that along is to have the city lead the way in the fast approaching Electric Vehicle era. There was also talk about installing EV vehicle charging stations at Oregon State University’s new dormitories near Oregon Coast Community College so students can easily drive from their new living center, near the college, down to the OSU Marine Science Center at South Beach.

The story could very well unfold and rather rapidly as the city is contemplating a requirement that certain already established and new construction might also be asked to install electrical wiring under and above ground to accommodate what is predictably a game-changing way to get around and hopefully help reverse Climate Change. Stay tuned on this one!

Another related energy subject is night time lighting around Newport – replacing all the street lighting with a lot smarter lighting – lighting that illuminates just sidewalks, crosswalks and store fronts. Very straight-down-to-the-street lighting so it doesn’t shine into nearby homes or apartments. The city is exploring switching out regular street lights with directional LED’s. They shine practically straight down. These lights last a lot longer than standard street lights and concentrate more light where it’s needed and not lighting up areas and buildings that clearly don’t need them. The city and the power company have been gaining traction on this new approach to navigating after dark. Part of the costs would be paid by the city and the power company over a period of 7 to 17 years. The swap out of old fashioned light bulbs for accurately directed LED’s is already happening all over the country, including Oregon.

Yaquina Bay Bridge
Cecille Kennedy photo

The city councilors also got an update from a group of local officials who are trying to convince the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to hurry up the reconstruction of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. But state agencies have not agreed with local Newport officials that the bridge, built in 1936, needs replacing. ODOT claims there are more important heavily traveled highway bridges that are in worse shape and that’s where they want to spend their money. They point out that ODOT has been doing routine maintenance on the Yaquina Bay Bridge for some time and that it appears to be handling traffic pretty well

Predictably, Newport officials disagree claiming that Newport is growing as are the number of accidents on the bridge which has only two lanes. They say Newport will be investing millions of dollars in urban planning, a wide array construction of commercial, sewer and water distribution systems as well as other accommodations for rapidly growing numbers of residential and vacation dwellings.  And because of that a new Yaquina Bay Bridge should be a very high priority on ODOT’s “to do” list. Negotiations continue. Stay tuned.

Covid-19 Virus

Other things that are happening around Newport is the emergence that Lincoln County is doing a pretty good job at keeping the Covid-19 virus at bay. But for how long? Due to growth in virus testing, among other things, Lincoln County has enjoyed a slackening of the virus’ spread. Lincoln County medical workers and administrators know that the current “lull in the covid storm” may not last very long despite the hard work of many medical workers and their associates. The explosion of Covid-19 around the country is similarly starting to infect Oregon. But Oregon doesn’t have a lot of hospital capacity outside of Portland, Salem and Eugene. And it worries county and city officials because they know it wouldn’t take much to overflow local hospitals. So for the time time being those taking care of seriously ill Covid-19 patients – it’s nail biting time.

On a somewhat less stressful topic Newport City Councilors believe the town’s water treatment plant will soon be back to it’s fighting weight – removing soluble organics from Siletz River and Big Creek Reservoir water. It’s been an up-and-down fight to figure out what was happening, but experts figured out that the organics, however they’re getting in to the water chain, can be removed but it’ll cost water plant operations about a half-million dollars to fix. And the fix involves adding another section of filtration in the water purifying process. Engineers predict the installation of the supplemental filtering machinery will be completed by next Spring – and that should take care of the problem.

Vintage Coast Guard Victory boats lined up at the Coast Guard Station on Yaquina Bay.

And finally, on a sad-happy note, the U.S. Coast Guard is re-arranging the furniture out in front of their Headquarters in Newport. It means the old, and terribly weathered 1953 model of a Coast Guard rescue vessel will be removed from the front lawn and be replaced by an old but bigger Coast Guard Cutter “Victory” that will likely hold up better against the frequent downpours and high winds that rake Yaquina Bay Harbor during the winter. So a bitter-sweet changing of the scenery outside Coast Guard Headquarters in Newport.

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