City Department Updates: March 30 – April 10, 2015

Administration / Utility Billing

• Ordinance No. 898 that changed the City’s policy on Past Due Utility Accounts was passed by City Council on December 15th, 2014.  The following were the outstanding balances as of January 2015: 90 days: $2,108.36, 60 days: $8,306.14, 30 days: $27,715.92

As of April 2015 the outstanding balances are as follows: 90 days: $ 0.00, 60 days: $313.77, 30 days: $1,363.36

• Reminder: Shut off letters will be mailed and Late Fees will be applied on 4/17/2015. Shut offs will be on 4/27/2015

• Issued 3 electrical permits.

• Issued 2 building permits for 2 new homes.

Police Department – VPD

• Vernonia Homicide Investigation: The Vernonia Police Department has received several questions regarding the shooting incident that occurred on Riverside Drive on March 26th, 2015. At this time, only very basic details are available for public release. These types of investigations take an extraordinary amount of time and are very tasking on Law Enforcement personnel. The Vernonia Police Department will provide updates when more information comes available. However, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation we will only release very basic details.

• March 11th, 2015 – March 31st, 2015 – The total number of calls for service and Officer Initiated activity was 150.

• Statistics: The total number of calls for service and officer initiated activity in March 2015 was 230.

• April 1st, 2015 – April 8th, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer Initiated activity was 74.

• Nuisance Violations: VPD is working on 21 properties that have violations. Details of the violations along with an area map will be provided during the next regular council meeting.


• An ad for Park Host opening at Anderson Park was posted on the City website and on two sites recommended to us by State Parks in order to find a replacement host. The current hosts have agreed to remain at the park until June. The posting closes on May 15th.

• Beginning April 6th, James McMahon will be stepping into a new role as Parks Superintendent. He will be in charge of overseeing all of the City’s parks. He will be a great asset to the City and we would like to congratulate him on his new position.

• Finance Director met with City Administrator to go over the different funds that make up the City’s budget and to go over some history of the City budget in order to begin preparing the budget message.  Final budget preparations continued.

• Finance Director created supplemental budget (FY 14-15) for the Parks Department to be presented to Council at the next meeting. The supplemental budget will move funds from contingency into salaries and appropriate funds between some other line items in order to cover costs associated with the new Parks Superintendent position until June 30, 2015 and the recent repairs to the hole in the dike at Vernonia Lake. The total Park budget will not change or increase, we are simply appropriating within the existing line items.

• Finance Director created a resolution to authorize the use of DEQ funds for interim financing of the Waste Water Treatment Plant Project. This will also be presented to Council at the next meeting. This is a checklist item required by DEQ when using their funds. The project should be out to bid very soon.

Public Works

• Public Works installed two new water services this week. They are both located on Rose Hedge Ct. We currently have two more water services to install in the following week. One is located on Clatsop St. and the other is located on 5th Ave. We have not had this many new homes being built for the last couple of years.

• Staff collected routine monthly water samples and delivered to lab this week. While in town, water parts were also picked up. These parts are to replenish inventory that has been used over the last few months. Parts include water meters, misc. repair parts, and meter boxes and lids.

• Vernonia Lake developed a considerable leak early this week. Staff met with ODFW to get their opinion on the situation.  Staff installed temporary fencing to keep fish from escaping and volunteers placed sand bags around the hole. Staff came back  on Sunday with the help of a local contractor to place a berm around it to control the erosion then plugged the leak with a mixture of bentonite clay and gravel into the hole and create a plug. The berm placed around the hole has been left to provide extra protection and has created a new access point to the lake for the public.

• On Thursday after the leak was repaired staff proceeded to turn on the lake pump only to discover that someone had cut off the power cord and stolen it. This then required an emergency call to our electrician. The repairs have been completed and the lake pump is back on and refilling lake.


• Circulation Statistics: 1,566 items were checked out the month of March 2015. By comparison, 1,410 items were checked out February 2015* and 2,063 items were checked out in March 2014. *Error in February 2015 statistics printed in previous weekly update

• 7 new members joined the library in March 2015. Welcome!

•  Library Director attended the Library Board meeting on Tuesday, April 7. Members made a motion to recommend an applicant to the Library Board at the next council meeting and reviewed the library budget draft for 2015-2016.

• Library Director has been working with the Vernonia High School to create ongoing Community Service opportunities for students at the library.

• Library staff are implementing a new system for sorting donations and books withdrawn from the collection. The goal for the new system is to make transport and sorting more efficient for the Friends of the Library and free up library work space.

• Library Director spent time scheduling Summer Reading programs and outreach, contacting local businesses interested in sponsoring Summer Reading, and publicizing upcoming programs. Donations are now flowing in for Summer Reading prizes. Thank you for your support! Businesses will be recognized for sponsoring the program in Summer Reading publicity.

• Per City Council recommendation, the Library Director sent out a press release to the Vernonia’s Voice and City website and Facebook page regarding the new Computer and Internet Use Policy. The purpose of the press release is to inform parents about the following: “Children under 10 years of age must be directly supervised by a parent/legal guardian or adult caregiver while using the computer. Parents/legal guardians who wish to restrict computer access for a minor (age 17 or younger) may do so at any time by requesting a Minor Internet Access Restriction form.”

City Recorder / Assistant to the City 


• Attended the IFA/OBDD roundtable meeting in Clatskanie to give input as to the City of Vernonia’s priorities related to future 2016-2020 allocation of CDBG funds. Funds such as these have been used in the past by the City and are potential funding for future Vernonia Senior Center/Vernonia Cares Food Bank.

• Worked with Carole Connell to address potential land use applications and potential vacation applications within the City of Vernonia.

• Developed cost analysis comparison for modifying VPD surplus vehicle for staff use.

• Developed staff reports and relevant documentation for City Council meeting April 6, 2015, regarding WWTP participation of PW Committee members, City Car, and City Lunch Hour Closure.

• Worked on establishing design/construction cost related to New Spencer Park restrooms.

• Worked with Dan Brown (Community Action Team) to finalize documents relating to demolition of Vernonia Senior Center.

• Developed Press Release for New City Hall Hours of operation. Beginning Monday, May 4th, City Hall office will be closed to the public from 12:30 to 1:30 PM.

• Worked with Vernonia Police Department to address issue at Anderson Park pertaining to RV campers lack of payment of park fees.

• Met with developer on requirements for potential development in Light Industrial zone and relevant building standards.

City Administrator / Administration 

• City Administrator and Police Chief Conner met with Columbia County Sheriff Dickerson and Under Sheriff Moyer to share information about protocols, costs, and coverage and for a comprehensive initial conversation about a potential Law Enforcement agreement between the City and Columbia County.

• City Administrator met with School Superintendent Aaron Miller to discuss a potential partnership (City/School) aimed at developing recreational activities for the community, while using school facilities. Given the lack of recreational activities during the Fall and Winter the conversation focused on potential recreational programs that could be of interest to a large number of citizens, and the potential availability of school facilities and grounds.

• City Administrator attended International City/County Management Association (ICMA) West Coast Regional conference in Portland. 150 City Administrators from Oregon, Washington and California were in attendance.

• We have recently discovered some vandalism/graffiti in the restrooms at Vernonia Lake. The Police Department has been informed and is investigating.

• Demolition of the old Senior Center is  complete.

• The City Administrator met the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Chair (Scott Laird) to discuss vision and maintenance/improvements projects to different city properties (parks, cemetery, parking facilities, empty city lots, etc.) throughout the city. These are, for the most, small maintenance improvement projects (one to two days completion time) to improve the quality of our facilities, and to prepare our facilities for the summer season, while welcoming residents and tourists and offering a beautiful and improved experience.

• The City Administrator met with County Commissioners and the Director of Land Development Services (Todd Dugdale) to discuss County potential interest in being of assistance to City of Vernonia with Planning and/or Building functions. Following the resignations of the City Planner (Carole Connell), the City is in the process of reviewing options to discharge the planning tasks. Conversations are also being held with other municipalities that would be willing to enter into a strategic partnership and share the planning functions. Also met with Scappoose City Manager (Michael Sykes) to discuss Scappoose’s potential interest in being of assistance to City of Vernonia with Planning functions.

• Our new (and first) Parks and Rec. Superintendent began work. James McMahon will dedicate most of his time to Parks issues but  is still being of assistance to the PW department as we are going through recruitment in order to fill staff vacancies. Next week we will have a dedicated space for “Parks and Rec” in our Weekly Departmental Updates.