WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Newport City Hall asks: “How do we fix the town’s storm drainage problem, while putting a few bucks in the bank?”

Newport City Hall

Push is coming to shove down at Newport City Hall over the town’s long festering storm drainage problems. Between angry citizens and patrolling public works crews, just about all the problems spots that flood after a big rain have been targeted. And over the past few years residents and business owners who continue to suffer from “sand bag-itis” have repeatedly demanded action from the city council. But as is very common about public services like storm drainage projects, they don’t want them to cause higher taxes or fees to go up. Certainly they don’t want to pay too much.

Perhaps in the spirit of such a dilemma Newport City Hall has put out the word that they are again asking for thoughts and suggestions from townspeople as to how the city should proceed and if more money is required, how the town should tax or “fee” itself to pay for necessary repairs or expansion to the city’s already burdened storm drain system. The city has announced that a public hearing will be held on how the city should move ahead on its storm drain problems and ways to pay for a solution. The public hearing is set for Monday, March 21st, 7pm at Newport City Hall. Ideas on how a storm water fee program might be created include charging property owners by how much hard flat surfaces they have on their parcels. Supporters of such an arrangement say storm water run-off is increased based on how much runs off of roofs, driveways and parking lots. Of course the business community questions that approach because it would be very expensive for them. They point to communities that adopt a “per parcel” fee to spread the costs around, in their view, “more equitably” knowing that the greater the number of parcel owners the lower average cost to each. And there are many variations on both themes including a flat fee with a graduated surcharge, with a cap on the total, for large parking lot business developments.

Of course, for homeowners in the northern areas of town which don’t have storm drains, some homeowners expect the city to simply put in storm drains as their responsibility to provide “city services.” But the city contends they don’t have the money to provide such expensive service “add ons” without charging for them. City officials have long discussed the creation of neighborhood taxing districts that would pay for new storm drains. But again, imderstandably, there have been big push backs on that funding idea. People just don’t want to pay more.

City hall will be asking more of its citizens than just commenting on storm drainage options. They’ll also seek opinions on how much of a reserve or savings account the city should have as a financial safety net. Cities, counties and states have traditionally considered an 8.3% reserve account to be the absolute minimum. It’s generally the amount of money held in reserve that can keep any particular government entity afloat for a month. So they’ll be talking about that as well.

Monday, March 21st, Newport City Hall at 7pm is when the public dialog begins. Any questions? Call City Hall at 541-574-0603.

Tsunami response report card: B- ?

Oregon emergency services responders have been spending the last few days reviewing how they responded to the tsunami that hit the state Friday morning. One thing is clear. The arrival estimates from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration warning systems based in Hawaii and Alaska were just under two hours off.

The arrival time was consistently given as between 7am and 7:30am west coast time. People gathered all up and down the Oregon coast to watch for “the big wave.” 7:30am, nothing. 8am, nothing. 8:30am, nothing. Some spectators began to lose interest, especially standing out in a cold Oregon breeze, some still dressed only in their pajamas and winter coats.

At 9am, still nothing. The fact that nothing was seen on the coast prompted people to write the whole event off as they do on so many dire weather forecasts that don’t play out.

Then at 9:30am, here in Lincoln County, the ocean started acting funny. Extreme high tide, extreme low tide, in ten minute intervals. Lingering beach gawkers went down onto the beach. One elderly gentleman was marooned atop the Nye Beach breakwater, but with the help of some good samaritans, returned safely to the beach. And then OFF the beach.

For several hours the ebb and flow of “tsunami slop” as some called it, rolled the sea level around. Down in Brookings, the tidal surges were very strong, destroying boats and docks. It was worse in Crescent City. Depoe Bay lost their Dock #1 as water shot in the harbor’s narrow passage like a water cannon, thrusting a boat up onto the dock, breaking it in two.

As for the early warning systems, the sirens went off as planned. The effectiveness of reverse 9-1-1 systems was mixed. Lincoln County’s system didn’t work as well as officials wanted. They say they’re still figuring out what happened and how to improve it in time for the next tsunami.

So, much of the consternation really centers around NOAA and its prediction model that left many thinking that two hours after a predicted landfall of the tsunami came and went, that “we had dodged the bullet,” as was remarked so many times Friday morning from the streets of the Central Coast to the top of the Portland TV towers. In short, everybody learned a lot. But because teaching moments with tsunamis have been decades apart in some cases, community memories are strained at best.

More on all this from Eugene’s Register Guard. Click here.

State worker contract talks await clearer picture on upcoming state budget

Governor Kitzhaber’s opening shot on what he claims are cuts to state worker compensation are just part of the mix of variables as state lawmakers continue to assess projected state revenues versus providing meaningful levels of service to the poor and their children, the disabled, the elderly, education and law enforcement. So, at this point, state workers are technically faced with more furlough days starting July 1st, along with higher contributions to medical care and retirement. The story is in the Salem Statesman Journal: Click Here.

Bingo and Bon Bons…ya can’t beat it!

The return of Restaurant Week is just around the corner. From March 21-27, 2011 locals and visitors alike have the opportunity to sample an array of food choices, compliments of several participating eateries in Newport.

To add to the pleasure of the tasting experience, participants may play Restaurant Run Bingo. Bingo cards may be downloaded from www.newportchamber.org/restaurant_week.htm or by stopping in at the Chamber Office at 555 SW Coast Highway. Once a card is filled, up, down, or diagonally, participants may turn their entry into the Chamber Office. Drawings will be held for prizes at the close of Restaurant Week.

Bon Appetit!

Highway 20 between Toledo and Eddyville to close completely for 2.5 days starting May 20.

Part of the work ODOT is doing on the big Highway 20 reconstruction project requires them to shut down Highway 20 to ALL TRAFFIC for 2.5 days starting May 20th. The closure will be at mile post 15, between Toledo and Eddyville.

ODOT says during the 60 hour closure, Highways 34 (Alsea Highway) and 18 will be Newport’s connections to the valley. Trucks are restricted to legal length on Highway 34. ODOT suggests truck routes 99W to OR 22 or OR 18. Call ODOT Permits at 503-373-0000 with any questions about truck restrictions.

ODOT says the closure is necessary to lift the roadway and align it with a new bridge. The new roadway improves safety for motorists by eliminating sharp curves and improving sight distances.

Two stabbed during domestic violence at NW 19th Street home in Newport

A Newport man was stabbed in the back during a domestic fight at a home on NW 19th Street Wednesday morning. A 14 year old juvenile male was also arrested.

Newport Police report Daniel Wyman, 42, had assaulted a female and a male at a NW 19th Street address Tuesday evening, and then assaulted them again Wednesday morning during another confrontation.

Police say Wednesday morning the male yelled at Wyman to stop hitting the female. Wyman then reportedly pulled out a knife and threatened to kill everyone. When Wyman attacked the male, the 14 year old pulled a knife of his own and plunged it into Wyman’s back. Police say Wyman again threatened to kill all of them, throwing the knife at the male, cutting him.

Wyman then stormed out of the residence. Wyman was spotted walking near NW 12th and Grove. An ambulance was summoned and Wyman was transported to PCH where he was treated for his wound.

After an investigation, police charged Wyman with two counts of assault, four counts of menacing and 1 count of harassment and was taken to the Lincoln County Jail. The 14 year old boy was charged with assault and transported to Juvenile Hall.

While contracting costs are lower, Lincoln County moves to improve county parks.

Jack Morgan Park, near Siletz

Lincoln County Commissioners are going after a number of state grants to attempt to forge ahead on a number of county park projects while construction costs are lower than they’ve been in years.

They’ve applied for a grant to install a 2,000 gallon water tank to better regulate water for campground and visitor use at Jack Morgan Park on the Siletz River. Also, to improve the park’s boat and kayak launch, which needs an overhaul. Instead of asphalt it will be changed to concrete. If the grant is given, construction could occur in 2012.

Another grant the commission went after involves Moonshine Park up Logsden Road out of Siletz where they want to replace the park’s shower facilities, as well as replace the septic tank system and install a new pump.

And they’re seeking permission from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to allow the county to improve fishing and boating access to a spot on the Siletz River at milepost 20.5. It’s long been a boat access point but not an official one. If ODFW agrees to the deal, and we’re told there is a good chance it will, the county would lease the property for free and build a small boat launch device; something short of a full blown boat ramp.

Lincoln County declares “Tsunami Disaster,” applies for FEMA aid for Depoe Bay.

Depoe Bay, Dock 1, destroyed

Lincoln County Commissioners Wednesday declared Lincoln County a disaster area and asked Governor Kitzhaber agree with them. Damage to the harbor at Depoe Bay has turned out to be a lot more than anyone figured due to the COMPLETE loss of Dock #1, and therefore projected lost income to the town on rentals and leases.

Commission Chairman Terry Thompson pointed out that the piling supports for the dock have been mis-aligned and therefore the whole dock assembly needs to be replaced. Total cost is estimated to be $340,000, a figure that far exceeds anything the Depoe City Council could possibly cope with. Thompson also said there would be permanent loss of revenue to the city should the dock not be replaced.

Governor Kitzhaber today declared Curry County a qualified disaster area based on the estimated cost of repairing the harbor at Brookings and the population of the county and its ability to handle the loss on its own. Curry County now must wait for approval from the federal government which would then send FEMA inspectors to verify the loss and authoritize the aid. However, typically FEMA only covers 75% of the cost, putting a considerable burden on Curry County as it would on Depoe Bay. In the case of Depoe Bay, city officials are hoping their insurance company will produce enough coverage to ease the burden.

Central Coast residents show solidarity with Wisconsin state workers


(Click image to play video)

A group of Central Coast residents made signs and waved them at passing cars from the corner of 101 and 20th in Newport Tuesday, showing their support for Wisconsin state workers who are locked in a political battle over workers collective bargaining rights and prospective layoffs which they contend will hurt the poor, the disabled and unemployed.
The protest was co-ordinated by a political action group called MoveOn.org.

Underlying their focus on worker rights is a broader issue of what’s called a dramatic re-distribution of wealth in the U.S. toward the rich and corporate elite. A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, a department within the U.S. Congress, shows that the top 400 income earners in America have more money and control more financial assets than 155 million Americans, roughly half the population. These protesters and others point to the fact that over the last 40 years the federal tax rate for the rich has fallen from 91% down to 15% (capital gains rate), which has driven down revenues to federal and state governments. And with tax breaks given to large corporations to ship jobs overseas, it has aggravated America’s already terrible unemployment situation. Depending on what survey you use, America’s manufacturing sector is a third to one half of what it was just twenty-five ago.

Conservatives and members of the Tea Party contend that the problem is mainly government itself. They claim if government would only reduce its role in American life and reduce taxes for everyone the economy would fix itself. They say the country’s mounting debt is a threat to the future of the country.

However, progressives contend it was the lack of government regulatory controls that allowed the housing bubble to grow along with an overheated financial derivatives market on WallStreet that caused the near collapse of the American economy. They also claim only a strong middle class can keep the country economically strong. They say that other countries around the world are pulling out of their spot in the recession by puttting their citizens to work by investing heavily in roads, highways, schools, colleges, technical schools and other infrastructure which makes them better equipped to compete in the growing world economy. They contend that by adopting a similar policy in the U.S. our the economy will start growing again and thus pull the U.S. off the bottom of the recession. They complain that the recent U.S. federal stimulus program wasn’t enough in that most of the money went to keep state budgets from collapsing along with large tax breaks for the rich. They claim only 25% of it went for projects that employ average Americans and only half of that has been spent so far.

So, it’s a complicated debate that is just now emerging in the streets and in the mainstream media. Whether the debate grows to a scale of national prominence, only time will tell.

AG John Kroger: Tualatin Company settles with Attorney General over black worker finding a noose over his work station.

John Kroger, Attorney General

Provided by Attorney General John Kroger:

Attorney General John Kroger today announced an agreement that resolves serious discrimination claims made by an African American employee that included a racially-charged incident with a noose.

“No one should have to be subjected to workplace discrimination, and particularly under conditions that gave rise to these complaints,” said Attorney General Kroger.

The agreement announced today is with Tualatin-based Valmont Industries, Inc., a steel galvanizing plant, and Barrett Business Services, Inc., a temporary employment agency. The agreement resolves Xavier Perry’s allegations that these joint employers failed to take immediate and appropriate investigative and remedial action in response to his complaints about workplace discrimination.

Perry, an African American, alleged that a co-worker pushed him and engaged in other discriminatory behavior that Perry perceived to be based on his race and national origin. According to facts alleged in his complaint, Perry asked his managers to move him to another work location but the request was denied. After voicing his complaints to management, the harassment escalated to the point where a noose was placed above Perry’s work station. The noose remained up until a Barrett Business Services manager removed it. Perry did not return to work after this racially-charged incident. Neither employer contacted Perry after the incident to investigate the allegations, nor offered to return him to work.

Following a successful mediation, the companies agreed to the following terms:

· The payment of monetary damages to Xavier Perry;
· A permanent full-time position at Valmont Industries, Inc.;
· Anti-retaliation protections going forward;
· Both companies agreed to participate in anti-discrimination trainings through the Bureau of Labor and Industries Technical Assistance Program;
· Valmont and Barrett Business Services will provide Perry with a positive letter of reference; and
· A designated point-person will be selected for Perry to contact to report workplace discrimination, in addition to other reporting systems in place.

Assistant Attorney General Diane Sykes handled the case.

Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department’s mission to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.

Common sense advice on potassium iodine pills: Don’t take ’em.

Potassium Iodine

Because watching television’s versions of any natural disaster can create a wave of fear among its viewers, the Oregon Health Department has issued a firm opinion on what’s going on in Japan as it relates to Oregon’s environment down wind of Japan. And the advice is; if you have potassium iodine pills, don’t take them. The risk of side effects exceeds any radiation threat to Oregon, which, at the moment, is ZERO. The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.

Toledo Port Commissioners get the bitter with the sweet.

ODOT said no…

River pathway/RxR Museum grant denied:
Port of Toledo Commissioners were disappointed to learn that their application for a multi-use trail, train museum and other facilities did not make the ODOT grant funding cut. No other applications from Lincoln County made it either, for that matter. Commissioners asked why the application failed, Port Manager Bud Shoemake said the competition for funds was fierce but that it might have been perceived as a grant for two projects in one, the upland development coupled with a multi-use path along the river. He said he is going to check into it.

Other improvements going in anyway:
However, the port, none the less, has a number of improvements going in around the site, just east of the current port office to the top of the parking lot and south of the train station. They’re putting in new restrooms, a transit dock, a park pavilion, an “inside” kitchen, a gathering area and a covered stage for musical performances. Shoemake told NewsLincolnCounty.com that all of it should be built and ready for its big debut in time for the annual Toledo Wooden Boat Show in August. Shoemake said the transit dock will take a little longer since they can’t do any “in water” work until November 1st. But once begun, it should not be more than a two to three week job at the longest. The $800,000 project is funded with a combination of state and federal grants.

Port Station One taking shape:
Shoemake told his commission that renovations at Port Station One at the top of the hill on Business 20 are coming along well. (See pictures.) He said the old fire station should be ready for the port offices to move in and be up and running in time for the next port commission meeting April 19th. Chairman Chuck Gerttula told the gathering that Port Station One will have a lot more room than the commission’s current meeting facilities. That means, he says, when the commission has an executive session just before the 7 o’clock port meeting, those who come for the meeting won’t have to stand out in the rain while waiting for the executive session to end. They’ll be able to come in, sit down in a comfortable spot where it’s warm and dry! The old port office area is being taken over by a commercial operation. The port will get some rental revenue out of it.

Sturgeon Bend Boatyard humming along:
Shoemake also gave a report that’s starting to sound rather predictable; that the port’s new boatyard at Sturgeon Bend (picture left) continues to hum along at a rather profitable clip. Shoemake says the facility, with a dry dock and a heavy lift is getting boats in, getting them worked on, and getting them back in the water, one after another, week in and week out. He said they’re getting the gamut of boat maintenance and repair jobs and that a wide range of skilled tradesmen and vendors are working in partnership with the port to make it a big economic boost for Toledo.

Industrial land zoning meeting coming up:
Toledo City Manager Michelle Amberg reminded the port commission that an important meeting is coming up dealing with industrial land use zoning for the town, which involves port land and other sites. She invited everyone with an interest in Toledo’s future industrial potential to attend a meeting of the Toledo Planning Commission, 7pm, March 30th in the city council chambers. The planning commission will be taking testimony on which lands within the city are suitable for industrial development. Whatever land use plan the planning commission comes up with will be forwarded to the city council for review and formal adoption. Amberg said anyone who has any ideas about industrial uses in Toledo should attend and let their observations and opinions be heard. Again, March 30th, 7pm, at the city council chambers.

No public health risk from Japan radiation, says Oregon Public Health Director

Provided by Lincoln County Commission

The Oregon Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program and the Radiation Protection Services are closely monitoring information on the radiation release reported in Japan.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the incident does not pose a radiation health threat to Oregonians. Given the thousands of miles between the two countries, Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.

Public health officials monitor information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s network of highly sensitive radiation detectors, which provide hourly reports of ambient radiation. The monitors are part of a national network run by the Environmental Protection Agency called “RadNet.” There are two monitors in Oregon, one in Corvallis and one in Portland.

There have been no elevated radiation readings detected in Oregon and air samples remain normal. Given the current size of the release and the distance from Oregon, we do not expect that to change and there is no public health risk to the state. We are also in contact with our federal partners including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Oregon state health department will continue its monitoring work as the situation in Japan develops and changes.”

For current information please see the “Current Hazards” section of the Oregon Health Authority/Public Health web site at: http://public.health.oregon.gov/Preparedness/CurrentHazards/Pages/index.aspx

To reach Lincoln County Public Information Officer, Casey Miller: 541-265-0211 clmiller@co.lincoln.or.us

Seaport Airlines selling advance trip “vouchers” at discount.

Seaport Airlines

The Newport Airport Committee learned today that Seaport Airlines is selling advance tickets for flights to and from Portland in the form of discount vouchers which can be purchased from the airline. Mayor Mark McConnell reported that the vouchers are being purchased which is good news for the town and the Newport City Council has always been very supportive of preserving airline service to the region. McConnell also added that all ticket vouchers are transferrable to anyone, so they spend just like money.

There has been a great deal of uncertainty around the area as to whether Seaport would continue airline service after early March, which is when the state subsidy ran out. Seaport has said publicly that they would continue scheduled airline service “as long as it pencils out.” However, no one seems to know what “pencils out” means in terms of the price of a ticket and whether other costs could be brought down to hit the break-even point. Airport Manager Gene Cossey and Mayor Mark McConnell say Seaport has apparently had some flights coming in with nearly all seats filled. Cossey says a local advertising blitz he’s been running in the newspaper and on radio stations appears to have produced a heightened awareness among Central Coast residents that scheduled airline service is indeed available. Funds for the advertising campaign came from the last little bit of the state subsidy account. Mayor McConnell added that Seaport has been entering into agreements with local lodging providers giving management a free round trip ticket to Portland for 5 nights of free lodging for its pilots when they dead-head in Newport Sundays through Thursdays.

The Airport Committee also learned that improvements along with maintenance of various navigational equipment, airport signage and runway and taxi way lighting are well underway.

NOAA type de Havilland Twin Otter

There was also an interesting conversation between the committee and Airport Manager Gene Cossey over the possibility that NOAA may be interested in basing one of their scientific aircraft at Newport. NOAA flies twin engine de Havilland DHC-6 aircraft which are specifically adapted for low and slow flight as they perform scientific missions over the land and sea. Should NOAA eventually decide to base one of their aircraft here it would be because they can get fuel at a fixed price, be able to park it in a hanger and have easy access to routine aircraft maintenance personnel. Cossey told the committee he has been in touch with NOAA and have had very preliminary conversations with them but that’s all. The committee urged Cossey to pursue the idea and to report back to them. Such an aircraft would be a real plumb for the airport because of gas sales and the maintenance possibilities.

Fred Meyer to pay back pay/pension benefits to workers deployed for military service.

Provided by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger

FRED MEYER AGREES TO PROVIDE BACK PAY AND PENSION BENEFITS TO EMPLOYEES DEPLOYED FOR MILITARY SERVICE

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Justice worked with Fred Meyer to reach an agreement that benefits veterans

Veterans’ Affairs Director Jim Willis and Attorney General John Kroger today announced an agreement with Fred Meyer Stores for the company to provide back pay and pension benefits to Oregon employees who were deployed for military service during the last seven years and to modify its employment practices.

“We are pleased that Fred Meyer, a progressive and prominent Oregon employer, has taken a proactive approach to comply with re-employment rights for all of its veteran employees,” said Director Willis.

The Department of Justice in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs launched an investigation after receiving complaints from veterans that they had not received step increases and pension benefits during their periods of military deployment in violation of the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and state law. Once the concerns were brought to Fred Meyer’s attention, the company was cooperative during the investigation and agreed to correct pay discrepancies for certain qualifying veterans.

Under the settlement, Fred Meyer agrees to:

● Identify all Oregon residents who took military leave from Fred Meyer employment on or after January 1, 2004, who returned to work within 90 days of discharge, and who were subject to a compensation structure providing for pay increases and pension benefits based on their time of service;

● Calculate and provide a pay and pension adjustment that represents the difference between what the veteran received in step increases and pension benefits and what the veteran should have received if the veteran remained employed at Fred Meyer and had not gone on military leave;

● Going forward, provide deployed veterans step increases and pension benefits consistent with the terms of the agreement; and

● Contact all qualifying veterans who were employed by Fred Meyer and advise them of the agreement.

Assistant Attorney General Diane Sykes and Keith Dubanevich, Chief of Staff and Special Counsel to Attorney General Kroger, handled the case.

Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department’s mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.

Coastal Congressman Kurt Schrader to hold community town hall meetings in Newport and Rockaway Beach

Rep. Kurt Schrader

SCHRADER TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETINGS IN NEWPORT AND ROCKAWAY BEACH NEXT WEEK

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Congressman Kurt Schrader announced today that he will hold town hall meetings in Newport and Rockaway Beach next week.

Town hall meetings are opportunities for constituents to ask questions about issues pending in Congress or the community.

Over the past month Schrader has held town hall meetings in Oregon City, Salem and Corvallis. He also recently held a town hall meeting over the telephone that drew nearly 4,000 constituents.

Newport Town Hall
Hatfield Marine Science Center Auditorium
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Thursday March 24th, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Rockaway Beach Town Hall
City Hall Civic Facility
276 Highway 101 South
Friday March 25th, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Highway 34 between Waldport and Alsea blocked again

A landslide continues to block the westbound lane of OR 34 (Alsea Hwy.) at milepost 22.5, between Alsea and Waldport. ODOT crews have opened the eastbound lane and are flagging traffic through. Motorists are encouraged to use caution while traveling through the slide area and expect delays.

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Coast Tree

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Coast Tree

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