City Department Updates January 12-31, 2015

Administration / Utility Billing 

• As of 1/23/2015 the outstanding balances were as follows:

90 days $1,015.15

60 days $3,642.46

30 days $11,799.13

• Correction on bills sent out for the month of December: the count was 858.

• Utility Clerk mailed 858 water/sewer bills for a balance of $11,8428

• As of 1/30/2015 the outstanding balance

90 days $813.80

60 days $2,691.38

30 day $8,025.12


Police Department – VPD 

• January 9th, 2015 – January 14th, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 70.

• January 15th, 2015 – January 21st, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 59

• January 22nd, 2015 – January 29th, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 81.

• Officer Training: February 2-6, 2015 – Officer Matthew Brady will be attending Field Training Officer Training. The training is a total of (40) hours and will allow Officer Brady to train and evaluate new recruits.

• Reserve Officer Update: We currently only have one candidate left. VPD will be accepting applications for Reserve Officers again in the near future.

• Surplus Patrol Vehicles: VPD will be accepting sealed bids on two patrol vehicles through February 13, 2015. To date, VPD has received a few phone calls regarding the vehicles but we have not received any bids.



• The City’s Federal Surplus program eligibility was renewed this week. Every three years we have to renew so that the City can take advantage of this program. Not only can we take surplussed items to be sold,  we can also purchase a wide variety of items, including equipment, at a very low price. This program is run by the State Department of Administrative Services in Salem.

• City Staff and the Mayor met with our new project manager, Gordon Munro with Tetra Tech, Jon Forrester with OTAK and members of the funding agencies for the WWTP: Drew Davis with USDA and Evan Haas & Mike Pinney with DEQ. The meeting was organized so that all those who’ve been involved could bring Gordon up to speed on the status of the project and to ensure that everyone received the same information at the same time. The meeting was very productive and we are hopeful that we will be ready to advertise for bids by mid-March. 

• Finance Director began the task of creating budget documents for the upcoming budget cycle. A separate budget is created for each of our 20 different funds that make up the entire City budget. In a few weeks, the Finance Director will begin meeting with the department heads to get their input on their budgets. A first draft will be done by early April.

• Staff was kept busy this week assisting customers with their utility bills due to the change in policy. This was the first month of our new billing policy that requires account balance be paid in full within 30 days. This is a change from the previous policy of allowing a balance to be carried for up to 90 days.

• A job posting was placed on Monday for Assistant to City Administrator/City Recorder. After over 10 years of service to the City, Joann Glass will be retiring next month. She has been a great asset to the City and will be missed. We wish her all the best. The job posting can be found on the City’s website, the League of Oregon Cities website and in the local newspaper.

• There is also a job posting for part-time custodian on the City’s website and in the local paper.

• The Finance Department received property tax estimates for the upcoming fiscal year this week. After a decrease of almost 30% last year, property values have come back up and the estimate for the upcoming budget cycle is much better. This will allow for more flexibility when writing the budget for next fiscal year.

• The Library computers will finally be getting the upgrades necessary to get them back in use for the public. The City just received verification from Microsoft that our request through Tech Soup, an organization that helps non-profits and libraries receive tech products and services at a huge discount, has been approved.

• The City has received an updated schedule for the WWTP. While the bid process has been delayed, the schedule indicates that the project will still wrap up by fall of 2016.

• Staff has begun to come up with a plan to handle the new Spencer Park field scheduling. The City will be responsible for coordinating the use of the new fields beginning this summer.


Public Works

• Public works staff finished the last of the water meter ground truthing.

• Public works staff and Parks maintenance staff cleaned up debris and graded the roads at the cemetery.

• Work has begun on raw water pump # 2 intake modifications.

• Staff identified numerous water meter boxes that were broken and replaced them. These were identified during the water meter ground truthing.

• Parks staff responded to numerous cases of minor vandalism at Vernonia Lake restrooms. The toilets appear to be targeted on almost a daily basis this week.

• Public works continues to cold patch streets when extra time or staffing allows.

• Sewer Pump station #2 continues to be somewhat troublesome. The issue seems to be in the computer that controls the generator.

• Public Works staff assisted parks maintenance staff in repainting the interior of the restroom at Vernonia Lake.

• Staff finished modifications to the raw water pumps at the water plant.

• Staff rebuilt the motor on the bar screen at the sewer lagoons. We were able to replace the bearings in the motor instead of replacing the complete motor. The bar screen removes all of the large materials that are in the wastewater before they get to the lagoons.

• Parks maintenance staff replaced multiple lights at Anderson Park that had burned out.

• Staff will be working on repairs to City Hall and Library roofs.

• Staff replaced the water meter for Nehalem View Trailer Park this week. This water meter is a 4” meter that was installed in the mid 1980s.

• Staff replaced a meter curb stop at 998 Bridge St. This required disruption of water service to more residents than expected. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.

• Vandalism at Lake Vernonia continues to be an issue and staff is discussing possible solutions.

• Public Works staff helped City Hall staff with moving of City owned property from the Learning Center in preparation of the Senior Center moving into this location.

• Staff repaired roof tiles at City Hall and the Library that had blown off. Both roofs are close to their life expectancy and will most likely need replacement in the near future.


Planning / Building

• The City has received its letter from FEMA after the September 4, 2014 Community Assistance Visit (CAV) with a detailed information package which summarizes the findings and discussions from that meeting. The City has 60 days to respond with a plan on how the City will submit the required documentation to FEMA and to close the CAV in a timely manner.

• A primary purpose of the CAV visit was to assure enforcement of Vernonia’s Flood Hazard Reduction Ordinance. Continued enforcement enables the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue allowing flood insurance to be sold throughout the city.



• The Library, “On the Shelves” column is back in Vernonia’s Voice. The column will include library program information and book recommendations as well as other information. The column will be in the paper once a month but look for library programs and hours in every issue of the paper.

• The library shelves are full beyond capacity. Library staff are removing items from the collection to make space, looking for books and materials that are damaged, not checking out, and out dated. Items that are in good condition will then be put in the Friends of the Library Book sale. Profits from the sale fund library programs and services. Mark your calendars for the Spring Book Sale: Friday, March 13 – Sunday, March 15.

• The Library Director is reviewing circulation statistics for each magazine as it comes up for renewal, canceling subscriptions that do not check out and purchasing new ones of interest. Now is a good time to make a suggestion to consider for the collection!

• The Library had exciting visitors on Wednesday, January 21. Children from Head Start came to the library for a special storytime. The class is currently learning about animals so the Library Director shared fun animal stories, rhymes, and songs.

• The Library Director ordered new books for the collection this week. New materials (including Books, DVDs, and AudioBooks) are ordered for the library every 2 weeks. The Library Catalog displays new items added to the collection. You can view the library catalog from home by linking to the library page from the City of Vernonia website:

• Library Director visited the Vernonia School libraries to take a tour and meet with Vernonia High School librarian, Dana Hyde.

• The Oregon Reads Committee gave the library approval to spend grant money on a project in 2015. Money needs to be spent on poetry or writing related materials or programs. The library applied for and received a $500 grant for Oregon Reads 2014, William Stafford Centennial Celebration. The grant money was not spent for the original project. The Library Director is working on a plan and will report to the Oregon Reads Committee once the project is complete.

• Library staff created “Library Craft Boxes” that will be available starting February 2. There are two boxes, one for Pre-K and one for K-6. Children and parents can sign out for a box at the desk and make a craft in the library. Crafts will be switched out every 3-4 weeks. The first craft has a Valentine’s Day theme.

• The library will be celebrating Dr. Seuss’s Birthday on Tuesday, March 3, 6:00 pm. Take a picture with the Cat in the Hat! Birthday Cake! Find Dr. Seuss characters hidden throughout the library and enter to win a prize. This program is a Read Across America event, sponsored by the Friends of the Vernonia Library. Read Across America is a National Education Association project focused on motivating children and teens to read.


City Clerk / Administration

• City Recorder is ending one year and beginning another following the retention rules.

• City Recorder will be working on the Flood Hazard Reduction Ordinance to bring to Council on February 2, 2015

• The City web page has been updated and is more user friendly.


City Administrator /Administration

• City Administrator Attended County/City Dinner Meeting held at the Cabin in Vernonia. The meeting was sponsored and hosted by the City of Vernonia.  Among Mayors, Councilors, City Administrators, and other managers in Columbia County, other attendees were Commissioners Fisher, and Hyde.

• The PW crew did a great job at the cemetery. All PW department members worked to clean the fields, and to grade and restore the internal vehicular paths. Thanks to Shirlee Daughtry who, in addition to presenting to the City Council her concerns (and showing pictures) about the bad conditions of the cemetery, raked all the leafs from the grounds and piled them for easy collection from our crew.

It is very nice when we can rely on the assistance and support of our citizens…and it is rewarding when we see that our residents feel comfortable to come to City Hall to voice their concerns and discuss their worries about City operations. Constructive criticism from our residents will do a lot in helping us improving our ways and means, and in becoming a successful organization and community.

• The City Administrator attended a “Readiness Training Identification and Preparedness Planning Workshop”  in St. Helens. The Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) establishes guidance for Columbia County’s actions during response to, and short-term recovery from,  major emergencies or disasters.

• The City Administrator and Police Chief “walked their beat” in downtown and visited some businesses. This is going to be (for now) a weekly event with the City Administrator and the Police Chief (or another officer) walking downtown to make the PD presence more visible, to get to know businesses owners, to get residents familiar and comfortable with our officers, to meet residents and tourists and to hear about concerns. This is what people expect police to do: to reach out to their community and residents by being an active presence and also taking care of problems and…getting the bad guys.

• The City Administrator attended the DEQ hosted Public Information Meeting relating to the proposed Oregon LNG project’s 401 water quality certification, on Thursday, January 29, at the Cabin in Vernonia, 6:00-9:00 pm. A large number of local residents were in attendance

• The City Administrator, along with the Mayor and Councilor Parrow met with representatives of the Ridge Riders. This was an informal meeting aimed at rebuilding a City collaborative relationship with the Riders, understanding each other’s concerns and preferred options, while trying to forge a strong and long lasting strategic partnership that would benefit the community at large.