Letters to St. Helens Update

 

Letters to the Update are the opinions of the  writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Bill Eagle, or that of his wife, children, mother, father, sisters , brothers, domestic pets etc..

See My Standard Disclaimer.  Send all  letters to eaglew@sthelensupdate.com

From: Nancy Whitney 9/20/17

I don’t expect many of you remember a man named Joe Watson. He lived on the bluffs overlooking what now is North 11th Street connecting Columbia Boulevard and West Street in St. Helens. Back then, in the early 1960s, North 11th was not vehicle passable but it made a nice walking path between the bluffs.

Mr. Watson raised donkeys. He housed them in a dilapidated barn next to a dilapidated home and he never bothered anybody. Once in awhile, neighborhood kids would be allowed to help him with his companions and be rewarded with a donkey ride. Occasionally he could be seen walking through St. Helens, donkey laden with groceries.

 

North 11th Street became known as Jackass Canyon and Mr. Watson as Jackass Joe. Neither salutation was meant to be derogatory.

 

At some point in the 1960s, it was decided (by what powers I have been unable to determine at this time) that Mr. Watson was extremely poor and unable to take care of himself so he was removed from his property and put into a “home” to protect him. He left that “home” and went back to his property just above Jackass Canyon. The “powers that be” then moved him to a state home in Salem and he was unable to return from there - ever.

 

The property was sold many times and lo and behold, it was discovered just a few years past that Mr. Watson’s property was sitting on a basalt rock gold mine.

 

Basalt is used for a wide variety of purposes. It is most commonly crushed for use as an aggregate in construction projects. Basalt underlies more of Earth's surface than any other rock type. Most areas within Earth's ocean basins are underlain by basalt. Basalt is a very important rock and sells at a premium.

 

A fellow who once owned this hill and living in Beverly Hills, California wanted to blast this rock down to 18 feet below grade and fill it with trash and slag from a rock mining operation on Hankey Road.

 

After a few years of arguing with attorneys for an out-of-state owner, the City of St. Helens stood up and said “enough”. Apparently they realized they not only had a legal obligation but a moral obligation as well to put a stop to this blasting project. Good for them.

 

In 1978 a home was built on top of Joe’s hill. The home is lovely, the view is magnificent. Phil Derby, former Columbia County Sheriff, owned property on the hill and eventually donated four lots to the Senior Center in St. Helens. Center director, Cheryl Young, assures me the four lots are still owned by the Senior Center.

 

Rick Scholl, Mayor of St. Helens, recently purchased a lot on top of Joe Watson’s hill and has offered to purchase the four lots owned by the St. Helens Senior Center. Thus far, those offers have been rejected.

 

According to information I received, Mayor Scholl wants to build his dream home on that property and needs the additional four lots for ingress and egress.

 

Fortunately, the City of St. Helens settled the problem of blasting for basalt rock in that area and it is my understanding (and hope) this settlement cannot be revisited. I also cannot imagine anyone wanting to build condos on the hill - although a city park would be great.

 

If the mayor wants to build a home on Joe Watson Hill, more power to him. His view would be one of the best in the county. It would be nice if he decided to keep a donkey or two.

 

From: Al Peterson 9/18/17

Dear City Council and Budget Committee:

 

            SHEDCO, the St Helens Economic Development Corporation, is a nonprofit whose mission is to revitalize the historic business districts of St Helens.  SHEDCO follows the nationally recognized “Mainstreet” approach to encourage the revitalization of our city.  Since its inception SHEDCO has independently and in conjunction with the City of St Helens put together various programs to encourage business development, bring new business to St Helens and promote local shopping by our residents. 

           

            In 2013 SHEDCO put together a business plan competition and awarded a $5,000 grant and a $20,000 no-interest loan to a local business.  In 2017 SHEDCO and the City of St Helens applied for and was awarded a $100,000 grant for a local business. SHEDCO assisted in the formation of Keep it Local Columbia County.  SHEDCO has volunteered and taken part in the many city events focused on bringing visitors and tourists to St Helens:  the Spirit of Halloweentown, the Maritime Heritage Festival, the Kiwanis Parade, Christmas Ships and the downtown Christmas decorations and others.  All with the goal to support our local entrepreneurs and bring customers to our local businesses.

 

A sugary-drink tax has been proposed for your consideration. St Helens business owners have approached SHEDCO board members about the tax and the board discussed it at our board meeting on August 24 2017.

 

            We commend your efforts in confronting a deficit of funding for our city parks and promoting healthier lifestyles.  However we respectfully ask you to not impose a sugary-drink tax in St Helens as it will affect negatively both the retail and food businesses in St Helens and along our mainstreet.

 

            As you are aware 74 percent of St Helens residents commute to their jobs in the Portland metro area.  This tax will have the simple affect to encourage customers to do their retail shopping outside of St Helens.  Of the 74 percent that are already commuting, the folks that do purchase sugary-drinks will find lower prices either near their workplace or somewhere along their commute home.   While swinging in to by lower cost sodas what other items will they pick up?   The tax will have a double or more effect, while they are buying their sodas elsewhere they will naturally shop for other items that they could just as easily buy in St Helens. 

 

            Soda dispensers use two liquid products, soda water and flavored syrup (coke, Dr. Pepper, 7up, orange, or other flavors).   According to the businesses that have approached SHEDCO board members, for the restaurants, the movie theater, and convenience stores like Skinnies, Zatterburgs, and West Street Grocery a tax by the ounce, will effectively double the cost the flavored syrup that goes into the sodas. 

 

SHEDCO and the City of St Helens have been attempting encourage St Helens residents to shop local and to promote local businesses.  This tax goes against all those efforts.

 

            The SHEDCO board unanimously opposes this tax and we ask that you do not impose this tax on the businesses of St Helens.

  

For the SHEDCO Board of Directors

  

Al  Petersen

SHEDCO Chairman

 

From: Bill Eagle 9/15/17

I don’t ordinarily write letters to post in my web page, but I think that this issue is important enough for me to want to say something.

 

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money (Cree Indian proverb)

 

In a past letter I mentioned that only 1.1% of our County is in cultivated crops and only 3.94% is in hay or pasture as opposed to 7.67% in urban and industrial lands. We presently have more urban and industrial lands than we have in agriculture.

 

It would appear that our County leaders seem to value corporate /money over local agri-businesses.  I would like to point out some things that you may not be aware of. In the Beaver Drainage District we have over 600 acres in blueberries and over 200 acres in Mint and other crops.  Our two largest blueberry growers presently employ over 60 people.  Our one mint producer employs 22 people just in their candy operation alone with plans to expand their existing workforce.  All of these would be considered environmentally healthy clean jobs. Our ag business employees live and work in the local community and most all of the money that they earn is returned to the local economy.

 

The proposed oil storage, transfer, and methanol/ethanol refineries will, thanks to automation, require minimal employees. Many of these people will live in Washington and may not have to move to the Clatskanie area. The products produced by these industries are for export and not for local or US Consumption.

 

It would also appear that little has been mentioned about the results of an oil or alcohol spill.  Potential point or non-point pollution from some of these industrial activities can cause major harm. Because of tidal influences, a spill can have the potential of polluting the Columbia from its estuary to Bonneville.

 

Transportation to Port Westward is by a single rail line. The proposed transportation plan suggests an average of 5 unit trains a day with a possible allowance of 10 a day. This traffic will have a severe impact on Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier and could very well create a danger to public safety. In addition to rail, the existing roads within Port Westward have poor load bearing capability and the Quincy-Mayger Road is located in an active slide area.

Port Westward is in both an Enterprise Zone and an Urban Renewal District. That means that, until the urban renewal bonds are paid off, all property taxes paid will remain in the Urban Renewal District and will and cannot be spent on schools or local governments.

 

The Beaver, Port Westward area has some of the last unique agricultural ground remaining in our county. The majority of our other agricultural lands are disappearing as a result of urbanizations and surface mining activities.

 

You need to ask yourself what is more important?  Losing a large number of local clean agricultural jobs or replacing them with a few people who are involved in dirty industries?

The Columbia County Planning Commission voted last year to deny this zone change and an appeal to LUBA also supported their vote.

 

I would hope that you, as County Commissioners, will listen to the voice of the people instead of the false promise of tenuous corporate money. 

From: Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky 9/14/17

Hi everyone,

Thank you for packing the room yesterday to let the county commissioners know that the rezone is a highly controversial topic. It's good for them to see that the opposition to this rezone is tracking the topic closely, even after the hearing. It was disappointing that they only discussed it for a few minutes but I'm glad that the majority of you got to meet afterwards with our land use legal counsel and ask him questions.

 

Comment period extended until September 27th. Additional testimony can be sent to jan.greenhalgh@co.columbia.or.us and glen.higgins@co.columbia.or.us.

The new testimony that you should respond to is attached. Scott, our legal counsel encouraged people to focus on Issue 2 (page 3) Water Quality and Spillage....

 

If you want to provide additional testimony before Sept 27 and can raise your concern regarding water quality and the incompatibility of industrial/ag neighbors that would be most helpful.

The commission will meet again at their regular meeting on Oct 25 for the next round of deliberation. Please mark your calendar to attend!

 

In the meantime, letters to the editor are very helpful! Please keep them going!

Thanks!


From: Ann Morton 9/9/17

This land is a unique habitat, historical and a cultural treasure, not to be raped by money-hungry corporations

I attended the Port Westward rezone meeting in Clatskanie on Aug. 2 and presented my petition against the rezoning of 837 acres of prime agricultural land to industrial use. This farmland is made up of Wauna Locola silt loam, making it comparable to the Willamette Valley in its ability to produce luscious food in abundance. Making this change would not only put many people out of jobs, but would add to the shrinking production of good food for our county. The loss is not worth the gain.

Another objection to the project the Port of St. Helens is pushing is that much of the lands abutting the dock are unspoiled tidal wetlands, as is the Thompson family property. This is a prime rearing habitat for salmon as well as other wildlife. This, and the surrounding estuaries must not be harmed, and the risks of harm created by the transport and storage of fossil fuels is far too great, not to mention the increased traffic congestion created by the trains. Also the trains do not carry the insurance needed to repair damages, nor are they required to disclose this information.

The threats of the fault lines on the Oregon coast shifting and that of Cascadia Subduction Zone have been mentioned. However, I have not heard anyone mention the terrific dangers of ships crossing the Columbia Bar — at times the most difficult and dangerous of bars to cross.

Another objection is the local history and cultural mores of the area. The first Europeans landing in this area in about 1780 are thought to have been killed by the Native Americans living there. In 1802, Lewis and Clark recorded the Seine-horse net fishing habits of the Natives living there. The scant history I was able to obtain was that the tribes that lived there were part of the Multnomah Nation and were relocated to Grand Ronde. The likelihood of Native burial grounds there is indisputable.

 

This land is a unique habitat, historical and a cultural treasure, not to be raped by money-hungry corporations who will benefit at the expense of the people of Columbia County. Global Partners LP will buy the land once it is rezoned and their intentions are well known. Big oil is a dying industry, but its hold is tenacious.

 

Please listen to your constituents and to your conscience when you make your decision. The requirements to protect us have not been met.

 

From: Richard Ellmyer 9/4/17

The Arpaio pardon demands that I ask all 40 elected Oregon Republicans, again, if they continue to support Donald Trump as FIT to be President of the United States of America. ALL 40 elected Oregon Republicans indicated that they continue to support Donald Trump as FIT to be President of the United States of America.

Greg Walden - U.S. Representative, 202-225-6730

Dennis Richardson - Secretary of State, 503-986-1523

Herman Baertschiger - senator, 503-986-1702

Brian Boquist - senator, 503-986-1712

Alan DeBoer - senator, 503-986-1703

Ted Ferrioli - senator, 503-986-1950

Fred Girod - senator, 503-986-1709

Bill Hansell - senator, 503-986-1729

Tim Knopp - senator 503-986-1727

Jeff Kruse - senator, 503-986-1701

Dennis Linthicum - senator, 503-986-1728

Alan Olsen - senator, 503-986-1720

Kim Thatcher - senator, 503-986-1713

Chuck Thomsen - senator, 503-986-1726

Jackie Winters - senator, 503-986-1710

Greg Barreto - representative, 503-986-1458

Cliff Bentz - representative, 503-986-1460

Knute Buehler - representative, 503-986-1454 [Will Buehler ask Trump to campaign for him in Oregon as he runs for governor? Perhaps Knute will invite his $500,000 patron, Nike’s Phil Knight, to join him and Trump at a campaign event where they can discuss how many Oregonians would lose their health care if Trump had signed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Then they could move on to guess how many Nike customers wear their Nikes to Nazi, KKK & White Supremacist rallies. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is on the Nike board. Pay attention Tim.]

Sal Esquivel - representative, 503-986-1406

Jodi Hack - representative, 503-986-1419

Cedric Hayden - representative, 503-986-1407

Dallas Heard - representative, 503-986-1402

John Huffman - representative, 503-986-1459

Mark Johnson - representative, 503-986-1452

Bill Kennemer - representative, 503-986-1439

Rick Lewis - representative, 503-986-1418

Mike McLane - representative, 503-986-1455

Mike Nearman - representative, 503-986-1423

Ron Noble - representative, 503-986-1424

Andy Olson - representative, 503-986-1415

Julie Parrish - representative, 503-986-1437

Bill Post - representative, 503-986-1425

Werner Reschke - representative, 503-986-1456

David Smith - representative, 503-986-1401

Greg Smith - representative, 503-986-1457

Sherrie Sprenger - representative, 503-986-1417

Duane Stark - representative, 503-986-1404

Richard Vial - representative, 503-986-1426

Gene Whisnant - representative, 503-986-1453

Carl Wilson - representative, 503-986-1403

By NOT revoking their support they are saying that every policy position, appointment, decision, public utterance and tweet by Donald Trump from his inauguration on January 20, 2017 to August 30, 2017 does NOT, separately nor in the aggregate, disqualify him as unfit to be president. This would include their recognition that Donald Trump is an exemplar of the best American role model of American morals and values for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H and every young American in every school in America.

They understand, this means that ALL of Trump’s actions during that period can be hung around the neck of each and every Oregon Republican during the next election cycle. The longer they wait the greater the weight. There will be no absolution for those who spinelessly follow the crowd when it finally abandons ship rather than those who righteously lead the exodus.

 

From: Richard Ellmyer 8/24/17

ALL 40 elected Oregon Republicans continue to support Donald Trump as FIT to be President of the United States of America.

Greg Walden - U.S. Representative, 202-225-6730

Dennis Richardson - Secretary of State, 503-986-1523

Herman Baertschiger - senator, 503-986-1702

Brian Boquist - senator, 503-986-1712

Alan DeBoer - senator, 503-986-1703

Ted Ferrioli - senator, 503-986-1950

Fred Girod - senator, 503-986-1709

Bill Hansell - senator, 503-986-1729

Tim Knopp - senator 503-986-1727

Jeff Kruse - senator, 503-986-1701

Dennis Linthicum - senator, 503-986-1728

Alan Olsen - senator, 503-986-1720

Kim Thatcher - senator, 503-986-1713

Chuck Thomsen - senator, 503-986-1726

Jackie Winters - senator, 503-986-1710

Greg Barreto - representative, 503-986-1458

Cliff Bentz - representative, 503-986-1460

Knute Buehler - representative, 503-986-1454 [Will Buehler ask Trump to campaign for him in Oregon as he runs for governor? Perhaps Knute will invite his $500,000 patron, Nike’s Phil Knight, to join him and Trump at a campaign event where they can discuss how many Oregonians would lose their health care if Trump had signed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Then they could move on to guess how many Nike customers wear their Nikes to Nazi, KKK & White Supremacist rallies. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is on the Nike board. Pay attention Tim.]

Sal Esquivel - representative, 503-986-1406

Jodi Hack - representative, 503-986-1419

Cedric Hayden - representative, 503-986-1407

Dallas Heard - representative, 503-986-1402

John Huffman - representative, 503-986-1459

Mark Johnson - representative, 503-986-1452

Bill Kennemer - representative, 503-986-1439

Rick Lewis - representative, 503-986-1418

Mike McLane - representative, 503-986-1455

Mike Nearman - representative, 503-986-1423

Ron Noble - representative, 503-986-1424

Andy Olson - representative, 503-986-1415

Julie Parrish - representative, 503-986-1437

Bill Post - representative, 503-986-1425

Werner Reschke - representative, 503-986-1456

David Smith - representative, 503-986-1401

Greg Smith - representative, 503-986-1457

Sherrie Sprenger - representative, 503-986-1417

Duane Stark - representative, 503-986-1404

Richard Vial - representative, 503-986-1426

Gene Whisnant - representative, 503-986-1453

Carl Wilson - representative, 503-986-1403

By NOT revoking their support they are saying that every policy position, appointment, decision, public utterance and tweet by Donald Trump from his inauguration on January 20, 2017 to August 20, 2017 does NOT, separately nor in the aggregate, disqualify him as unfit to be president. This would include their recognition that Donald Trump is an exemplar of the best American role model of American morals and values for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H and every young American in every school in America.

They understand, this means that ALL of Trump’s actions during that period can be hung around the neck of each and every Oregon Republican during the next election cycle. The longer they wait the greater the weight. There will be no absolution for those who spinelessly follow the crowd when it finally abandons ship rather than those who righteously lead the exodus.

 

Richard Ellmyer

North Portland

NAV, Non-Aligned Voter

Author of The Ellmyer Report, a newsletter that informs, educates and influences on public policy. Occasionally distributed to more than a quarter of a million readers in Oregon and beyond. Facebook, Portland Politics Plus

 

From: Arnold Baumfalk 8/22/17

Although not having consumed sugary drinks for quite some time, I have to agree with the businesses that would be affected by this way of making money. And that is all it amounts to as you can be sure if the city couldn’t make any money off this it would all at once not be a problem. And why go for just drinks—why not go for all these convenience foods that are high in sugar content. They too have been known to lead to obesity as well.

Boy, could the city ever make a bundle if they went that route—that is if there would be any businesses in town by then to collect the taxes from. Think you get my drift. It just isn’t right to single out one item when that is far from being the only one that is to blame on obesity. I just hate to see something like that go in that would hurt our local economy just for a few dollars. I don’t think the trade-off is worth it as we already have enough empty storefronts in our town without adding more.

I think it would be wise to think of raising money in other ways that won’t hurt our local businesses.

From Nancy Ward 8/10/17

The leaked Columbia River Fire and Rescue report about Ron Youngberg's vile 20-year history of abuse — not just of firefighters and staff, but also victims in need of emergency service — has something in common with the leaked Columbia River People's Utility District report about the unethical behavior of John Nguyen

 

What gives in Columbia County?

 

Here we have not one, but two public agencies that requested and paid for an independent investigation into suspected questionable conduct, and when the final report confirms the suspicion, absolutely nothing is done.

 

Well, that's not exactly true. In the case of Nguyen, he was rewarded by the board of directors who, after reading the report, hired him as the general manager and gave him a raise that put his earnings above that of Gov. Kate Brown's. And Youngberg was allowed to quietly resign and take his PERS into a comfortable retirement.

 

This doesn't represent the kind of action we would expect given the information provided in the investigation documents.

 

How are the citizens and taxpayers of the county supposed to make sense of this? Is the message simply that accountability is not a requirement of employment at these agencies? Does being in a management or supervisory position mean you are given a pass to act with impunity?

 

What happened to the chain of command? In the case of Youngberg, he was accountable to former Fire Chief Jay Tappan. In order to keep from believing the reported truth about Youngberg, Tappan simply decided to brush it away. He is quoted as saying, "There is a lot of animus toward Chief Youngberg, and apparently this is the way it came out".

 

Really? We're supposed to accept this as a statement worthy of a fire chief?

And what about CRFR Human Resources Director Marit Nelson? As the HR direction, isn't she charged with being an advocate for personnel who have complaints? If both she and Tappan refused to take action, no wonder it took 25 years for this situation to come to light.

As for Nguyen, there was no one to stop him, except the board of directors. Kudos to former Directors

 

Dave Baker and Richard Simpson for attempting to maintain ethical boundaries at the PUD. They were no match for the other three board members, but they will be remembered as the ones who tried, at great personal risk, to do the right thing.

 

The same can't be said of the CRFR board who, to this day, remain totally mum. Are we to believe they were unaware of Youngberg's behavior? Are we also to believe they didn't see the results of the investigation? The current board is comprised of all new members, with the exception of Mark Kreutzer and Ron Schlumpberger. Mr. Kreutzer has been a board member for some 14 years and is a retired firefighter. He has been a seemingly fierce advocate for the wellbeing and safety of personnel at CRFR. It is hard to believe he was unaware, and it is hard to reconcile that if he was aware, he did not take action.

Talk to us, Mark. We deserve to know.

 

Since the report was published we have not seen or read an apology from CRFR to the firefighters who were subjected to this abuse. As a chagrined member of the public I will offer my personal apology for the harassment and unprofessional environment you were subjected to. Had we known, I have no doubt the public would have demanded the agency act on your claims of misconduct.

These incidences and the reports that confirmed them became public only because brave individuals with a strong moral compass leaked the reports to The Spotlight. Thank heaven for leakers. Without them, we would never know the truth.

From: Nancy Whitney 8/9/17

I regret I was unable to make it to the public meeting held in Clatskanie last week for a vote on major rezoning at Port Westward.

 

I understand 36 people stood up to avow their disapproval of rezoning more than 800 acres at Port Westward into industrial use area- - - - thereby destroying many small farms in the process and most likely any hope of ecological recovery for the Columbia River.

 

Discounting those with business interests in favor of the zone change, 2 people  expressed their approval. That should send some message to the County Commissioners if they care to listen to the majority of Columbia County citizens.

 

The bulk of the material stored or shipped to Port Westward will be shipped by rail through nearly all of Columbia County.

 

Look at it this way. Train tracks carrying Bakken crude oil and methanol first enter the populated area of our county in Scappoose. The destruction zone of either of these highly explosive materials encompasses three schools in Scappoose, the entire main business district and an untold number of homes.

 

It appears St. Helens is developing most of their businesses along Highway 30 with the railroad tracks running right beside the highway. The St. Helens High School can easily be seen about a block from the tracks. The middle school is maybe three blocks from the tracks with only a few homes between it and the possibility of disastrous explosions.

 

Even McBride School is within the limits of total destruction if and when a fossil fuel train explodes. I understand the Columbia City School will be back in service again this autumn - two blocks from the tracks.

 

Have you ever sat in the great little restaurant in Rainier called the Cornerstone Cafe when the rollicking fossil fuel trains come through? 

The only thing between you and millions of liquid explosives is the length of your car.

 

I suggest you look online at the spill-tracker website. These people keep track of fossil fuel spills, pipeline leaks and explosions throughout the United States and Canada. In 2015 they followed 34 catastrophic “accidents” . With more trains this is expected to increase.

 

Imagine with even 30 trains per month going through the county (and we know they are planning for more) that equals 360 per year - 360 chances to be one of the 34 accidents recorded by spill-track. Please take these figures seriously. It most certainly can happen anywhere.

 

Clatskanie - at the end of the fossil fuel trail - is the only city which most likely will not be blown off the map by a fuel train explosion. It is also the city where all the meetings are held on Port Westward.

 

It is the city which, along with the Port of St. Helens and the County Commissioners, continuously spouts there is a “pressing need for more industrial land and family wage job”¯.

 

It is just a mantra, along with “jobs, jobs, jobs”¯ which is repeated by politician after politician when they want to make an unpopular change.

 

Clatskanie’s unemployment rate (4.2%)was lower than that of Columbia County (4.5%) and the United States (4,3%) according to May 2017 figures.

 

Clatskanie is a nice small city on beautiful Oregon waterways with incredibly productive farms.

 

Bill Eagle, a noted soil and conservation specialist, stated that “only 3.6% of the land in Columbia County is considered prime agricultural land”¯.  Mr. Eagle also states, “our county’s best agricultural land now has been replaced by rock pits and gravel mines.

 

In considering this request from the Port to rezone these 837 acres, I urge Commissioner Tardif, Commissioner Heimuller and Commissioner Magruder to please listen to Eagle’s words and follow John McCain’s lead. Vote “NO”¯ simply because it is the right thing to do.

 

 

From: Ann Morten 8/7/17

There is mounting concern about the proposed opening of 800 acres of prime farmland along the Columbia River to industrial use. This would allow the fossil fuel magnates to store and ship fossil fuels, increasing rail use, greatly increasing risk of explosion, train derailment, and/or spill of toxic chemicals. This push is a pattern of the Port of St. Helens and is not in the best interests of the people of Columbia County.

 

We do not want to take these risks to harm our fish and wildlife, increase our help risks and destroy our environment. The benefactors are the fossil fuel corporations who are getting wealthy at huge expense of the people who live here.

 

If this is allowed we are contributing to our dying democracy and conversion to plutocracy.

This proposal should be rejected. We need our farms to produce our food and we should support the farmers. You can’t eat oil ad coal and you don’t get Mesothelioma from food.

 

America has been losing over 40 acres of farmland every hour to developers as cities and suburbs expand. We need careful city and county planning to prevent our cities from becoming Longview.

 

I am sure you would not like to live there. And if you are thinking this proposal will create jobs, fossil fuel industries are rapidly being surpassed by clean energy ones. Conclusion, this is a bad venture.

 

We must protect our blueberries, strawberries, which are the best I the world, mint and other foods our land produces. It is paramount that we have safe industry and development here in this county.

From Bill Eagle 8/1/17

I am a graduate of Oregon State University. I majored in Agriculture with a minor in Soils. I was the District Conservationist for the NRCS in Columbia County from 1980 – 2000.  I assisted in the preparation and development of the Columbia County Soil Survey. I authored the section on Agriculture/settlement and development in the Survey. I also participated in the final soils review.

 

Only 3.6% of the land in Columbia County is considered prime agricultural land. Prime Ag land is a good place for raising crops. Unfortunately, it is also a good place to grow homes and build factories.

 

Only 1.1% of our County is in cultivated crops and only 3.94% is in hay or pasture as opposed to 7.67% in urban and industrial lands. We have more Urban and Industrial lands than we have agriculture.  As industrial lands grow, agricultural lands are disappearing.  Our county’s best agricultural land now has been replaced by rock pits and gravel mines.

 

On May 29th 1973 Governor Tom Mc Call signed SB 100 and 101, which set up statewide protections for farmland.  From the moment these laws were passed powerful and wealthy interests have worked hard to overturn them. They paid money to promote initiatives in 1976, 1978 and 1982 to defeat these protections; all were defeated by a large public vote.

 

I am a Director of the Columbia SWCD.  In 1976 the Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District passed a resolution to support the preservation of agricultural lands in our county. Agricultural lands are normally shown as lands with soils capability classes I – IV. Our County Soils Survey shows that ¾ of the soils in the proposed land zoning change are Capability Classes II and III and are good productive agricultural land.

 

My fears are that we will lose good agricultural land along with the environmentally friendly jobs that agriculture creates. I also fear that industrial activity will force existing farms and businesses like the Seely family peppermint operation to either close or relocate.  In addition to the people employed by the Seely Family; the two major Blueberry operations have more full time employees than all the existing industrial business at Port Westward.

 

It is because of this that I believe the Port’s request for rezoning and amending our County’s Comprehensive plan is not in the best interests of county residents and it certainly does not agree with the vision that Governor Tom McCall had for our states future when he signed into law our statewide planning goals.

 

I would urge our County Commissioners to listen to the People as well as to the prior recommendation from their own Planning Commission and deny this zone change request.

 

*Sources Columbia County Soil Survey November 1986 and NRCS Strategic Plan for Columbia County March 2012

 

From: Jasmin Zimmer-Stucky 7/23/17

The clock is ticking for a controversial effort to open over 800 acres of high-quality farmland along the Columbia River for industrial development, including methanol export and oil-by-rail terminals.

Can you make it to the August 2, 2017, public hearing to protect salmon habitat and farmland from the fossil fuel industry?

What: Columbia County Commission public hearing on the proposed Port Westward industrial land rezone. RSVP today!
When: Wednesday, August 2, 2017, at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Clatskanie High School Auditorium, 471 SW Bel Air Drive, Clatskanie, OR 97016.
Public testimony will be allowed. Proponents of the Port Westward rezone will speak first, opponents will follow.

We need your help to put this bad idea to bed forever. RSVP to the August 2, 2017, public hearing to tell the Commissioners how the Port’s proposal would impact quality of life, the environment, and Oregon’s tradition of protecting high-quality farmland!

The Port of St. Helens’ admitted that methanol export and oil-by-rail terminals are potential candidates for the high-quality farmland threatened by the rezone. Specialty mint and blueberries are grown on farms adjacent to the land threatened by the Port’s rezone. Farming and fossil fuel industries do not mix.

Trading high-value agricultural land for fossil fuel expansion is the wrong direction for Oregon. Attend the public hearing next Wednesday, August 2nd and urge the Columbia County Commissioners to protect high-quality farmland from fossil fuel development.
 
Onward,

From: Nancy Whitney 7/18/17

Remember years back when our entire youthful summer vacations were spent in or near the Columbia River?  We fished, swam, boated and rode logs. We used inner tubes to paddle to Sand Island and hoped for a ride back. It always seemed to work out.

 

We spent whole days swimming and picnicking on Columbia City Beach. We built beach fires and roasted hotdogs after dark. The road was a bit hazardous but I can only remember one mishap when a young just- licensed driver drove his parent’s Buick Roadmaster over the edge of the road with the necessity of being towed.

 

 I particularly remember this incident since my future husband and I were in the backseat.

 

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.  It begins in the British Columbia Rocky Mountains and flows approximately 1,243 miles to the Pacific Ocean. It is beautiful and magnificent and most of the people of Columbia County are fortunate to live within its influence.

 

At one time, we could walk with our daughter and our son from St. Helens to  Columbia City on lovely river beaches with only one creek to cross. This is what I really want to talk about - river access.

 

I still love the smell of the river and the Spring fragrance from the cottonwoods growing along its shores. I just regret there is so little unlimited access to those shores.

 

I cannot watch the weekend fisherman on the docks behind the county courthouse because those docks are coveted by large (really large) boats from up river. I cannot walk between St. Helens and Columbia City now because of the private walkways to the river and the docks built for private use.

 

The Port of St. Helens unlocks the gates to their parking lot near Trestle Beach at 9 am and locks these again at 7 pm in the evening. There go the beach fires, the roasted hotdogs and watching the sun rise up from the river. Walking from the Highway 30 access path under the PNW railroad trestle is a very long way for many of us.

 

Columbia City does have Pixie Park which provides some access to the Columbia River. The park is flanked by two large homes reaching out over the publicly owned beach.

 

Dyno Noble stopped access over their land in approximately March because of damage to their dock property and illegal camping. They no longer even write permits for a walk across their property.

 

The Port of St. Helens is attempting to develop  Clatskanie’s Port Westward totally for industrial usage thereby eliminating the farms now operating in that area and eliminating further access to the Columbia River. There are a couple of sensible Port commissioners against this move, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

 

So my last hope - the development by the City of St. Helens of the Old Mill Park property.

 

I was not able to make contact with the city manager but did speak with an employee who gave me the exciting news that there is the “possibility of swimming access in the concept plan”¯ for this development but not to count on it because the concept plan often changes.

 

We sold our boat years ago and it appears we have sold our inherited rights to the Columbia River also.  I miss my river.

 

From: Sylvia Fine 7/18/17

I have not written any letters to the Update for some time. Usually when I post, I will write about things that are primarily of interest to the people in St Helens. This is not a St. Helens issue, but a national one….but it still effects people here in St. Helens.  According to CNN Back when Trump was still President elect he prosed proposed a penalty -- including possible jail time or loss of citizenship -- for burning the American flag, in spite of two US Supreme Court rulings that protect the act under the First Amendment as a form of free speech.

"Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag -- if they do, there must be consequences -- perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" Trump tweeted.

Mind you this is from a man who has been giving away state secrets to the Russians and it would now appear that he and his staff utilized Russian hackers to interfere with our US  election.

What he and his GOP staff has done is commit Treason.

It is obvious that he does not understand the Constitution of the United States or the laws that our country was founded on.

With his party controlling both houses of Congress and  the Supreme court, will he get away with