Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel has announced the appointment of City Councilor Aaron Collett as the new City Engineer for the City of Newport. Aaron brings more than two decades of diverse experiences, in both public and private settings as an engineer, to the City of Newport. The hiring follows a national search for recruiting and evaluating candidates for this position. Aaron currently works for Oregon State University as the Infrastructure Project Manager, and has previously worked for Civil West Engineering, the City of Bend, the City of Springfield Public Works, and CH2M Hill. Aaron received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Oregon State University, and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University. He is a licenses civil engineer.
Previously, the positions of City Engineer and Public Works Director were combined. As part of the City’s new organizational structure, the City Engineer will report directly to the City Manager. By separating these positions, it provides greater focus on engineering and project implementation and on public works operations which falls under the direction of the Public Works Director.
Collett stated, “I am looking forward to having the opportunity to serve as City Engineer for the community that I have resided in for the past six years. I am excited to be able to be in a job that can truly shape the future of Newport.”
During this past year, Chris Janigo has been Acting City Engineer. Nebel reported that he “greatly appreciates the role and effort Chris made in moving projects forward during this time. Chris will continue to be a valuable member of the Engineering Department as part of the engineering team with Aaron.”
Nebel, indicated “Aaron will bring a new perspective to the Engineering Department. He has a strong history of working collaboratively through various issues to achieve desirable results for all parties. He has had the added experience of being appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Council over the past 15 months. This experience will be very beneficial in synthesizing Council policies with the design moving forward in various infrastructure projects to benefit the community.”
Aaron will begin his duties as City Engineer on October 11, 2021.
Merkley Announces Major Funding for Wildfire Response and Drought Relief
Oregon Senator, who chairs key subcommittee, fought to ensure Western states’ needs were addressed in disaster relief bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who serves as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, today announced that key legislation to fund the federal government until December and respond to recent natural disasters will include billions of dollars in funding for wildfire disaster response, drought relief, public lands restoration, and other critical needs for Western states that have been hit hard by record wildfires and drought in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Congress is aiming to pass this legislation before September 30th to avert a potential government shutdown.
After the White House’s Office of Management and Budget failed to request any funding to restore public lands and repair damage to trails, roads, and bridges from two back-to-back years of historic wildfires, as well as other Department of Interior and Forest Service lands and facilities damaged by hurricanes and other disasters, Merkley got to work. As the sole Oregonian sitting on the powerful Appropriations Committee, Merkley used his position and his subcommittee chairmanship to ensure that wildfire recovery would not be left behind.
“Between record droughts and raging megafires, Oregon and other Western states have been hit hard over the last couple of years,” said Merkley. “Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, these natural disasters have delivered a devastating triple punch to many of our rural economies. The federal government can and must do much more to help our communities recover and build back stronger, and today’s news is a big win in that process. I’ll keep fighting for the resources our communities need to make it through these disasters and prevent future megafires—and to address the climate chaos that is making these natural disasters more and more devastating each decade.”
Today’s news comes as catastrophic wildfire events are still occurring, with 51 uncontained large fires burning today, including seven in Oregon, driving additional damage that will require recovery assistance.
The funding included in today’s draft legislation addresses many areas of critical need, including:
$1.775 billion for the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to address disaster recovery and prevent future catastrophic wildfires.
o This includes $1.545 billion for disaster recovery from wildfire and other natural disasters and $230 million for hazardous fuels reduction. Hazardous fuels reduction is critical to making forests more resilient to wildfire and preventing future wildfire disasters, and Merkley has made investing more in this work one of his key priorities on the Appropriations Committee.
o The Interior and USFS funding is badly needed for debris removal, hazardous materials clean-up, and recovery and restoration of natural resources, including invasive species management, revegetation, critical habitat protection, burned area recovery, and watershed restoration, all of which must occur for restoration of these public lands to their previous state, and to prevent further damage.
o Funding is also needed for the repair and rehabilitation of federal facilities, roads, bridges, trails, levees, and visitor areas.
o These funds specifically include $1.185 billion for the Forest Service, $229.5 million for the National Park Service, $58 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service, and $26 million for the U.S. Geological Survey.
$5 billion for Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR), which is critical to covering ongoing recovery expenses from the devastating 2020 wildfire season.
$200 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to assist with drought relief, including in the Klamath Basin and Central Oregon.
$10 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide relief to agricultural producers impacted by drought, wildfire, smoke, and heat.
Newport City Councilors had a thick agenda Monday evening. First off, the City Council seemed willing to help to better finance a number of tourist attractions to enhance tourist visitation to the Central Coast. The Newport City Council approved switching tourism attractions and promotions to a more centrally organized approach – namely the Newport Chamber of Commerce and their new Discover Newport website. The city council learned that the old days are gone when tourists came only four months out of the year. Today tourism is a pretty steady stream to the Oregon Coast coming from all over the world as well as around the U.S. So we’ll see how this new arrangement turns out. Everyone seemed impressed with the change in how City Hall can give the tourism industry a shot in the arm.
Then came the subject of fireworks during the 4th of July. Noting a long dry spell along the coast, those organizations that promote July 4th celebrations have been trying to economically survive the decline of fireworks…mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the drought. There were inclinations to centralize fireworks celebrations with impressive volleys of “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” but it was rather low key compared to other years. Fireworks promoters said that the country has to scale back the magnitude of available “boom makers” due to the country’s explosive wild fires. Oregon and other western states had to make the best of it. But there is constant discussion about planning for next Summer.
And finally, Newport hired a new City Engineer, Aaron Collet…a name that sounds familiar because Mr. Collett currently sits on the Newport City Council. Collett was selected by a vote of the city council who greatly appreciated his service to the city but also for his deep knowledge on how to keep a city – big or small – going ever forward. In short, a formidable city engineer. The City Council will now begin searching for a candidate to fill his city council seat.
Lincoln City Library, underneath Lincoln City City Hall (on the upper floors)
Dark & Stormy Nights at Driftwood Public Library
Driftwood Public Library is delighted to announce the schedule of writers for its 18th annual Dark & Stormy Night series for this October. In light of the continuing COVID situation, this year’s series will be virtual. Live events will take place via Zoom at 4 PM on Thursday afternoons in October, beginning October 7th. Most presentations will be recorded for later viewing as well.
Eighteen years ago, Driftwood teamed with the late Marcy Taylor to bring Northwest mystery writers to the Oregon coast. That first year was so successful that the series has continued every October, with one break while the library was closed for its renovation in the Autumn and early Winter of 2009, and a very scaled-back program in 2020 during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The series has expanded to include writers from other genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, sometimes all mashed together!
Caitlin Starling will be returning to open this year’s series on October 7th. Caitlin closed our series in 2019 and recorded a reading for us last year. This year sees the release of her newest novel, The Death of Jane Lawrence, just two days before she joins us! Described by Publisher’s Weekly as “intricately plotted [and] deliciously bonkers”, The Death of Jane Lawrence is an updating of the classic haunted house tale: Newly-married Jane visits her husband’s ancestral home following an accident, despite being warned not to. Something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall. At night, strange figures stalk the halls, and Jane catches glimpses of a beautiful red-eyed woman in mirrors and windows. Augustine claims she was a patient of his who died two years before, but unexpected house guests tell a different story: her name was Elodie Lawrence, and Augustine believes he killed her. Soon, Jane is fighting for her sanity and her life, drawn into a world of secret societies, theoretical mathematics, impossible magic, and rituals gone wrong. And now that the secrets of Lindridge Hall have met her, they’re not about to let her go.
The series continues on October 14th with a visit from Karen Thompson Walker. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, Karen was born in San Diego, earned her degree in English and creative writing at UCLA, and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Oregon in the Creative Writing department. She is currently the author of two novels. Her 2012 debut, The Age of Miracles, chronicles the fictional phenomenon of “slowing”, in which one Earth day begins to stretch out and takes longer and longer to complete. Her most recent book is The Dreamers from 2019, a science-fiction novel that details an ominous sleeping virus that sweeps over the fictional town, Santa Lora, in Southern California. The story follows a group of college students and families, and explores their experiences with everlasting sleep and heightened dreams. Walker was awarded the Bomb “best fiction” prize, and was awarded a Sirenland Fellowship. On October 21st, we’re delighted to welcome comic book writers Matt Fraction & Sue Deconnick. Both have written extensively for the Marvel comics universe, as well as for DC, Image, and Dark Horse comics, and both have been nominated for or won multiple awards including the Eisner, the Inkpot, and the Hugo. They are married and have two children and together run the production company Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Inc, home to comic series such as Bitch Planet, Casanova, Ody-C, Pretty Deadly, and Sex Criminals. Milkfed is currently developing television with Legendary TV.
Gabriel Urza will close the series on October 28th. Gabriel’s family is from the Basque region of Spain, and he lived there for several years himself. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Politico, Guernica, and elsewhere, and he is the author of two books. All That Followed is a psychologically twisting novel from 2015 about a politically-charged act of violence that echoes through a small Spanish town; a debut novel that the New York Times Book Review called “a triumph.” In 2019 Gabriel published the novella The White Death: An Illusion, the story of illusionist Benjamin Vaughan, who dies under mysterious circumstances at the height of his career and whose brief life is chronicled by an unnamed narrator who encountered Vaughan as a boy. Urza earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame and spent several years as a public defender in Reno, Nevada. He currently teaches fiction in the MFA program at Portland State University.
To join the live Zoom presentation, please contact the library at email@example.com or call 541-996-2277 prior to the event. Recorded presentations will be available on library’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
All events in the Dark & Stormy Night series are free to the public and made possible by ongoing generous support from The Driftwood Library Foundation. Questions about the series may be directed to Ken Hobson at Driftwood Public Library: 541-996-1242 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Driftwood Public Library is located at 801 SW HWY 101 in Lincoln City on the 2nd floor of the City Hall building, across the street from Burger King and adjacent to McKay’s Market.