City News

At the October 7, 2013 City Council Meeting:

Council Hears Request to Re-Open Police Contract-Council approved a request by the Vernonia Police Association (VPA) to re-open the “Health and Welfare” section of their contract.  The current contract  became effective July 1, 2012 and was agreed to  based on a newly developing Health Care plan through Kaiser.  All details of the plan were not available at the time of negotiations.  The VPA has since discovered that additional changes were made to the plan and that they would not have chosen the plan if they had known these details.  They asked that police employees be allowed to revert to their original plan which would have negative budget implications of $4,308 annually for the City of Vernonia.  Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner said he would off-set the cost difference by reducing fuel, overtime and uniform expenses so there would be no budget overage.  Council requested a  chance to review the exact wording of the proposed changes to the contract and have it reviewed by their legal counsel and tabled the request until their October 21 meeting.

Council Approves “Food for Fines” Program-Council approved a recommendation from the Library Board for the “Food for Fines” program.  The program allows Vernonia Library patrons to pay off their fines by donating food items for the Vernonia Cares Food Bank between November 30 and December 16. 

Council Approves Parking Marking-Council directed staff to apply for a permit from ODOT to install marking for parking along Rose Avenue in front of the West Oregon Electric Cooperative office.  According to Police Chief Mike Conner there has been confusion about the intended use for the extra space along the street and it is a safety issue.  According to Conner the space is intended as parking and should be marked so it is not used as a turn lane.

Council Approves Emergency Phone Upgrade-Council approved a request from police Chief Mike Conner to use Emergency Management funds the City holds to wire the City Hall phone system to the emergency generator.  Conner estimated the expense to be $1500; the fund has $2500.

Council Approves Appointments-Council approved the appointment of Audeen Wagner  to fill a vacated position on the Library Board and re-appointed Susan Wagner to the Budget Committee.

Topics from the Floor-Bill Sword asked Council to consider honoring an easement across Anderson Park he says was given to him by the City Council around 1983-85.  Sword requested that a 12 foot wide roadway be installed, that he would pay for, from his bridge through Anderson Park to Adams Street.  Council directed staff to look into whether there is any mention of the easement in past City Council  minutes.

Council Approves Inhabiting Trailer Application-Council approved a request by David Garlington to allow someone to temporarily inhabit a travel trailer at his property at 1164 Douglas Street.  Garlington said he has given the inhabitant a time limit for occupancy to end prior to winter weather setting in.  Council approved the request for six months.

Council Approves Declaration of Surplus Property-Council approved the declaration of computer equipment  at the Vernonia Community Learning Center to be surplus property and  no longer needed for public use.

Mayor Proclaims  Domestic Violence Awareness Month-Mayor Josette Mitchell read a proclamation from SAFE of Columbia County declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Vernonia and encouraging all citizens to join in the observance.  According to the proclamation there were 55 domestic violence related deaths in Oregon last year and a total of 158,665 calls for help were answered by Domestic and Sexual Violence programs in Oregon.  SAFE of Columbia County answered 1,563 of those calls.

Council Discusses Passenger Trailer Permit-Police Chief Conner informed Council that City Ordinance does not allow the transport of people in trailers on city streets.  Conner used the example of hay rides during Salmon Festival, which according to the City Ordinance is illegal.  Conner explained that having a parade permit allows for normally disallowed uses.  Council directed staff to investigate establishing a permit for transporting people in trailers.