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City stumbles on trying to get cop cars maintained.

Newport City Hall

During Monday night’s Newport City Council meeting councilor David Allen caught something that didn’t make him happy. Or anyone else on the council either. Allen confronted City Manager Jim Voetberg over an invoice given to the city for handling a reversal of a recent council’s decision to award a police car maintenance contract to a local repair garage. Voetberg quickly deferred to City Finance Director David Marshall who said the award was protested by another repair garage. The claim was that the recommendation before the council had been the product of bias, not an objective assessment of which repair garage would benefit the city most. Marshall said the city administration, on its own, withdrew the contract offer after consulting with the city attorney’s office in Eugene. Marshall went on to say that the city attorney indicated the withdrawal was appropriate.

However, that decision rattled Allen’s sensibilities about the job of staff vs. the job of the council. He was visibly miffed that staff took it upon themselves to reverse an action of the city council, and on top of that, doing it without notifying the council that they had done it.

Marshall apologized but again assured the council that the move had the city attorney’s blessing. That riled Allen again asking “Why didn’t we get a notice from the city attorney that this had happened? Why did I have to stumble on it while reading an invoice from the city attorney to the city? An e-mail is all it would have taken.” Allen went onto say that communications between the city attorney and the council is very important. The council agreed.

The council decided last spring to hire a Eugene law firm that specializes in government law. In a move to keep legal fees to a minimum, the council acquiesced on a procedure that only Mayor Mark McConnell and City Manager Jim Voetberg would have unfettered access to the firm, while the six city councilors would need prior approval. There has been talk among the councilors that they reserve the right to call anyway if they feel strongly about an issue that they want clarified. However, they have said that such occurrences would be infrequent if not rare. Councilor Allen, himself an attorney, has been the most outspoken about the right of councilor access to the city attorney.

Newport city workers get mixed bag of pay boosts.

Newport City Hall

Last year, Newport city workers didn’t get any pay raise. This year it’s not much better. Only those who rise to a new pay grade step will get a 3.5% boost over what they would have gotten normally. That’s for workers in public works. Those in the police department will get step increases from 3.6% to 4.5%. All other city workers who don’t belong to a union will see a 3.5% bump in step. Those workers who have topped out in their respective job category and who haven’t gotten a raise in the last two years will get a six hundred dollar one time cash payment on the anniversary date of their employment. There are about 23 workers in that situation. There are no cost of living (COLA) increases for anyone on the city payroll.

The city has yet to come to an agreement with the firefighters union. The city’s last offer reportedly is “still on the table.” The city is honoring the current agreement and all firefighter positions will receive, at minimum, a 3.5% rise in step, according to city documents.

Lincoln City burglary ring busted

Eric Jones, top
Ronald Wick, middle
James Lamb, bottom

Provided by Lincoln City Police and Lincoln Interagency Narcotics Team

An investigation late last week involving Lincoln City Police Department and the Lincoln Interagency Narcotics Team (LINT) led to the arrest of three men related to the burglary of a Lincoln City hotel. The burglary allegedly was drug-related to sell or trade stolen property in order to obtain methamphetamine.

On August 10, 2011 LINT detectives received information from multiple sources that two Lincoln City men were planning a burglary at a Lincoln City hotel to steal flat screen televisions and other electronics. Detectives identified two suspects, JAMES PATRICK LAMB, age 36, and RONALD RAY WICK, age 27.

Working throughout the night and following day, LINT detectives and Lincoln City officers discovered the Star Fish Manor Hotel in Lincoln City was the victim of the planned burglary. Owners discovered they were missing at least 7 large flat screen televisions and numerous Blu Ray DVD players. Detectives determined the stolen property was inside LAMB’s West Devils Lake Apartment residence located at 3109 NE 26th Street.

Subsequent further investigation led to detectives obtaining a search warrant for LAMB’s residence. With the help of Lincoln City Police Department and Oregon State Police troopers, the warrant was executed late Friday. The majority of stolen property was found inside the apartment. A second search warrant was served at a different apartment in the same complex where detectives found additional stolen property.

LAMB was taken into custody at the apartment for Burglary in the First Degree and Theft in the First Degree.

Detectives also contacted ERIC PAUL JONES, age 30, in LAMB’s apartment and arrested him for Probation Violation.

WICK, who was arrested earlier Friday by Lincoln County Parole & Probation, was charged with Burglary in the First Degree and Theft in the First Degree.

All three were lodged in the Lincoln County Jail.

LINT detectives are continuing the investigation that may lead to other arrests.

The interagency LINT team is comprised of members from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Lincoln City Police Department, Oregon State Police, and the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office.

Master Gardeners pulling in a good harvest at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Lincoln County Master Gardeners celebrated the bounty of their harvest at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Garden Sunday as they gathered over sixty pounds of lettuce, turnips, golden beets, radishes, artichokes and zucchini, some of which wound up in a delightful fresh salad served to visitors, much to their munchy delight.

The program began every year as it does, with seed starters crafted by students at Sam Case Elementary school, and then planted at the lighthouse garden in early June. Master Gardener Liz Olsen and her husband Jeff said former gardens at the lighthouse have been going on for years. But this time, they created raised beds with “souped-up” soils that produced a bumper crop of delectable goodies. It is absolutely true that fresh garden vegetables and fruits make being a vegetarian an easy task (if one so chooses, of course!).

Olsen said they’ll be back within a few weeks to harvest more of the output of these high powered vegetable growing boxes, offering up more lettuce but then potatoes, turnips, pole and snap beans, fava beans, more artichokes, small green things that look like tomatoes which make salsa explosively delicious, husk cherries and one-bite-egg plant. And if we’re lucky, another great sampler salad from a part of the harvest!

Then, heading into October, they’ll be back again for more potatoes, snap and pole beans, zucchini and artichokes but then also spinach, pumpkins, squash, endive, more beets, radishes and kale. Olsen says much of it will go to Lincoln County Food Share so that those in need can enjoy the rare pleasure of home-grown vegetables kids and Master Gardeners who really know what they’re doing. There will also be veggy donations made to the Newport Senior Center for seniors to take home in vegetable goody-bags.

Jeff Olsen estimated the cost of building a raised 4′ x 8′ vegetable bed at around $120 complete. He said raised beds produce a lot more food because you can better control soil ingredients, level of watering and ground temperature. Liz Olsen added that more people are taking up home vegetable gardening because they’re retired, have the time, and are returning to a life-basic of great food that’s affordable to grow. She said those who would like to learn all the right stuff, in the right order, can contact the Master Gardener program at 541-574-6537, extension 10 or you can check them out on the web at Extension.OregonState.Edu/Lincoln/Master_Gardeners. And yes it all tastes just like you remember from your grandmother’s garden.

There’s a new wrinkle in the fresh vegetable story here on the coast. The folks who run the Newport Saturday Farmers Market are debuting a WINTER Farmers Market that will kick in when the Summer Market ends at the end of October. The Winter Farmers Market will be held at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Newport inside the Exhibit Hall on Saturdays and will offer winter crops for sale including turnips, beets, radishes, artichokes, potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, chard, broccoli, green onions, and of course squash. The Newport Winter Farmers Market is expected to run from early November through the end of February or early March, right before the Spring/Summer Farmers Market kicks in again. So, twelve months of Farmers Market is about to debut here on the Central Coast.

Newport Parks: Herbicides only as “last resort,” 75% of city labor talks settled and shutting down Eads Street on school days.

Newport Herbicide Policy Review

Newport parks maintenance employees will use herbicides only when manual or alternative methods of weed killing aren’t feasible or practical. And when they do use herbicides, they’ll put up warning signs before, during and after any spraying. They’ll also try to avoid using it where kids play. That’s the gist of the new policies that will be presented to the Newport City Council Monday for it’s consideration.

A list of federal and state approved herbicides include Roundup, Garland 4, Speed Zone, Weed and Feed and Dimension 270-G. Parks and Recreation Department Director Jim Protiva said any area to be sprayed will have warning signs put up well in advance of any spraying. The date of the spraying will be clearly indicated along with the herbicide to be used or has been used. He said all herbicide handling and application requirements will be met when herbicides applied to any city park lands or other city properties. The policy applies ONLY to city property.

The issue is being brought up at the council’s work session Monday which begins at 12 noon in the city hall conference room just north of the main entrance.

During the council’s regular meeting Monday night councilors will be given the opportunity to review a tentative labor agreement between city administration and city union workers in the police and public works departments. Employees of both departments have voted in the affirmative to accept the city’s offer for step increases but no cost of living hikes. Also in the tentative agreement is that the city pays 90% of the health insurance premiums on behalf of the workers. The same wage and package increase is also being offered to all city workers who don’t belong to a union. Step increases are 3.5% for public works employees, and range from 3.6% to 4.5% for police officers. A one time payment of $600 is to be issued to workers who are at the top of their pay range, effective January of next year. Again, the same is offered to non-union city workers who are at the top of their pay range.

A memo from City Finance Director David Marshall also contains a note that negotiations with the paid staff at the fire department have not yet settled with the city, although progress is being made, albeit, slowly. In the meantime, the firefighters have received a step increase of 3.5% effective last July 1st.

And the school district is asking the city to shut down vehicular traffic on Eads Street, between 3rd and 4th, which is the crosswalk area between Newport High and its Prep Academy. A trial closure period late during the final days of the last school year proved very popular with students. Community support far out weighed what few complaints were lodged. School officials say there are frequent near-misses during the school year as students try to cross Eads between the schools. Newport High Principal Jon Nagel says two students have been hit in the crosswalks, though neither was injured. But he adds, “Closing Eads Street greatly increases the safety of our students at Newport HIgh/Newport Prep Academy without serious consequences for the surrounding neighborhood. It’s just a matter of time before a student is seriously hurt cross the street.” If the council agrees to the closure, it would be for school days only, and from 7am to 5pm. The city will erect street signs stating the closure on school days 7am-5pm, and the school district will provide school district staff and the road barriers which they will erect and remove at the designated times.

Newport City Council to discuss banning plastic “get it to the car” shopping bags

The Newport City Council Monday will talk more about picking up where the last state legislature bailed out in dealing with a major world wide pollution problem – plastic shopping bags. They cause litter, fill up landfills, clog up recycling machinery and float in the oceans causing harm to wildlife on both sides of the water line.

The Surfrider Association broached the subject with the council a few weeks ago, vowing to return with a bigger pitch in an effort to convince the council to get Newport in the “ban the bag” list which already has Portland at the top here in Oregon. Other cities that have already banned single use shopping bags include San Francisco, Los Angeles, all of Italy, and all of China, according to Surfrider’s report to the council. Other countries are doing it too, they say.

Surfrider will remind the council that plastic bags keep the U.S. even further addicted to oil, since the bags are made from oil. The last time Surfrider pitched the council on a bag ban councilors seemed open to the idea. We’ll see how far they take it during Monday’s discussions. It’ll be debated at the council’s work session which starts at City Hall at Noon.

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