Vernonia City News

City Department Updates March 16-27, 2015

Administration / Utility billing 

• As of 3/26/2015 the outstanding balances on active were as follows:

90 day 147.26

60 day 915.34

30 day 4294.84

• Sent out 193 shutoff notices on March 17th, 79 door hangers went out on March 24th, we had 7 shutoffs on March 27th.  • • REMINDER: This is a reminder to Utility customers that they can now register their account online. You can login and view your account information, current balance, and payment history. You can also pay your bill online thru a third party merchant. Check the bottom portion of your bill for registration information.

Police Department – VPD

• March 11th, 2015 – March 18th, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 61.

• Nuisance Violations: The Vernonia Police Department continues to work on nuisance violations. Several properties around the City have been identified as having minor to major violations. Some of the properties in question are vacant and it has been difficult to locate the responsible owners.

• Explosive Devices: On Friday, March 13th two old hand grenades were found in a shop at a local residence. These types of devices are found occasionally and a majority of the time the explosive material has been removed. Unfortunately, we are unable to tell if the devices are safe or not by looking at them. Therefore, the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit was contacted for safe disposal. Upon their arrival, they x-rayed the devices and determined that the explosive material had been removed. When devices like this are found, Law Enforcement should be notified immediately so that the items can be safely removed and destroyed.  Read More

Man Dies in Vernonia Shooting, Vernonia Man Arrested

At approximately 9:30 pm, officers from the Vernonia Police Department, Scappoose Police Department, St. Helens Police Department, Oregon State Police, Rainier Police Department, and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 900 block of Riverside Drive in Vernonia/Columbia County, Oregon regarding a report that a man had been shot.

According to Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner, upon arrival, officers encountered an adult male with life threatening injuries. The male was transported by ambulance to a Portland area hospital. When the man arrived at the hospital, he had succumbed to his injuries.

the victim has been identified as Jesse E. Depue of Vernonia

Police have arrested Kirk Avila, 51, of Vernonia,  in connection with the shooting and is currently being held in the Columbia County Jail on murder charges. 

At this time the Vernonia Police Department does not believe that a threat to public safety exists.

Public Works Receives 50 Year Award for Weather Station

Tyree Wilde (l) and Gerald Macke (r) of the National Weather Service presented Jeff Burch and the Vernonia Public Works Dept. with an award for fifty years of collecting weather data.

Tyree Wilde (l) and Gerald Macke (r) of the National Weather Service presented Jeff Burch and the Vernonia Public Works Dept. with an award for fifty years of collecting weather data.

The Vernonia Public Works Department has received recognition from the National Weather Service for maintaining their weather station for fifty years.

Public Works foreman Jeff Burch accepted the award for the department on March 11 from Tyree Wilde and Gerald Macke, both from the National Weather Service office in Portland. Wilde is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist and Macke is the Observation Program Leader for the Portland Region.

The weather station in Vernonia records temperature and precipitation every fifteen minutes and is part of the Cooperative Observer Program that collects data that is used to observe and predict weather patterns and changes.  Collected data is used regionally in agriculture, recreation and other fields and is being used in research about global climate change. Read More

Vernonia City News

At the March 16, City Council Meeting:

Council Votes to Forgive Portion of Water Debt – Council received a letter from Mrs. Sandra McLean who experienced higher than normal water use during a time she had a water leak.  It took some time to locate the leak and Mrs. McLean had bills approximately $100 over normal use.  She told Council she is on a fixed income and requested help.  Council voted to forgive 50% of her overage and instructed staff to develop a payment plan for the remainder of the amount.

Topics From the Floor -  Frank Patrick, representing the Curl family, told Council he is challenging the City’s ability to change their utility rate structure and increase the amount they charge for the 2 inch water meter on his client’s property.  The complaint is in response to letters recently sent out by the City informing some customers that they had been billed incorrectly for a smaller size water meter than was actually in use.

Council Approves Street Closure for Open Air Market - Council approved a request from Bill Langmaid, representing the Open Air Market, to hold the Market on Adams Avenue, at Bridge Street and to close the street for the market on Saturdays from 9 AM – 3 PM beginning in June.  Council approved the request for the months of June and July and will revisit the request to see if there have been any issues.  Council had previously rejected the request to hold the Market on Adams Avenue which was presented by City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone on behalf of the Open Air Market.

Council Approves Library Internet Policy – Council approved a new internet use policy at the Vernonia Library presented by Library Director Shannon Romtvedt.  The new policy no longer requires parent permission slips be signed for use of the internet by minors because of the difficulty in keeping track of this paperwork, but instead will track a list of minors who are restricted from use of the internet.

Council Approves Library Surplus List -  Council approved a list of items, including computers, keyboards, monitors, printers, and shelving as surplus and authorized their disposal or sale.

Council Hears Water Services Report - Council received a  written and verbal report from GIS consultant Ben Fousek on the Water Services work the City has been doing.  The report summarized work to replace the antiquated utility billing system, map and locate all water services in the system, standardize billing and rates, and provide analysis for City decision makers. Read More

City Department Updates, February 19-27

Administration/ Utility Billing

• As of 1/20/2015 the outstanding balances were as follows: 90 days: $630.59 60 days: $2,477.79 30 days $10,701.01

• With the new ordinance No. 898 that states bill are due within 30 days of billing date, in January we had 105 shut off notices sent out, 3 were shut off, and in February we are sending out 73 shut off notices. The numbers are coming down.

• Please come in to City Hall if you have an outstanding balance and would like to see if you are eligible for a payment plan, Thank you to all of you who have come in and set up payment plans.


• Finance Director filled out parade permit for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This is a small but lively parade put on each year by our local leprechaun, Pat Knight. Parade starts around 5:15, come out and join the fun.

• Finance Director met with our building inspector to go over permitting requirements for two new homes. Plans were submitted for review, but without a planner on staff the City will be looking for a planner to fill in. There are several steps involved in the permit process for new homes that must be done prior to issuance.

Public Works

• Public Works staff continued pruning of downtown trees.

• Staff began putting up new signage and parking lot striping at the VLCC in preparation for the Senior Center to move in.


• Library staff had a meeting on Tuesday, February 17 and discussed new procedures, upcoming programs, and new equipment.

• Library Director met with the Chief of Police to discuss staff procedures and follow-up in emergency and other difficult situations.

•  Every year the Friends of the Vernonia Library purchase a movie license for the library so we can show movies on a regular basis. Our movie license (through Movie Licensing, USA) restricts the library from using the name of the movie or studio when advertising through public media (newspapers, website, etc.). So that is why we ask you to contact the library for movie titles.

City Administrator /Administration 

•City Administrator, together with Mayor Mitchell and Councilor Hult attended a meeting with representatives of Ridge Riders.


• City Administrator met with Charlice Kaylor (The Building Department Manager/Building Official) to discuss current situation and potential improvement to the planning / inspection functions.

• The City Administrator, Mayor Mitchell, and Dan Brown (Community Action Team) met with Scott VanHoff (FEMA) to discuss enforcement of the City’s flood hazard reduction ordinance, and compliance with deficiencies noted in the previous Community Assistance Visit (CAV).


City and Ridge Riders Reach Agreement for Arena Use

The Vernonia City Council negotiated and approved a Settlement Agreement and a Memorandum of Agreement with the Vernonia Ridge Riders equestrian group  for use of the Equestrian Arena at Anderson Park.

Council is awaiting final approval from the Ridge Riders legal representative, but  both parties have agreed in principle to the terms of both agreements.

The Settlement Agreement concerns the dispute between the two parties over the validity of the most recent lease from August 2006 which has regulated use of the site.

The Settlement Agreement document mutually rescinds the 2006 lease and all prior agreements between the parties.  It also dismisses all claims in the matter that were scheduled to be heard in Columbia County Circuit Court. In addition, the Settlement Agreement states that use of Anderson Park Equestrian Arena will now be governed by the new Memorandum of Agreement between the two parties.

The new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)  calls for the Ridge Riders to receive twelve  days of use at the arena per calendar year which begins February 1. Scheduled clean-up, preparation and maintenance days are exempt.  The Ridge Riders will also have two “community benefit days” per calendar year.  All other days of use will be subject to general equestrian permit and fees adopted by the City Council.   Read More

City News

At the February 17, 2015 City Council Meeting:


Council Discusses Anderson Park Issues - Council spent time discussing issues surrounding monthly guests and conditions at Anderson Park.  Council and staff agreed there are concerns and changes that need to be made.  Council encouraged staff  to enforce rules and clean up the Park.


Council Approves Property Use for Open Air Market - Council approved a request from Bill Langmaid for use of the property at the corner of Bridge Street and Grant Avenue for use by the Open Air Market this upcoming summer.  The site is where the former health center building was located.  The Open Air Market will be held on Saturdays from June through September.  The Council denied the first choice location on Adams Avenue which would have required a street closure every week.  Council also agreed to waive business license fees for participating vendors at the market.


Council Passes Two Resolutions  – Council Passed Resolution 03-15, Amending City Council Rules and Procedures,  and Resolution 04-15 Amending Ordinance 880 which establishes the organization of City Committees.  Both resolutions made minor changes.  Resolution 03-15 adds an Action Item Summary to City Council meetings in Section 10 describing the Order of Business at a City Council meeting.  Resolution 04-15 adds verbiage to sections 3 and 7 of Ordinance 880, stating that two members of a City Committee may be appointed from outside city limits, adding “within the Vernonia School district Boundaries, ” and adding the statement, “In an event there is not a full committee, a quorum relates to its current capacity of members until filled.”


At the March 2, 2015 City Council Meeting:


Mayor Resigns to Accept Assistant City Admin Position - Mayor Josette Mitchell read a letter to the Council and audience announcing her resignation as Mayor in order to accept a staff position as Assistant to the City Administrator/City Recorder.  Council President Randy Parrow was nominated and accepted the role of Mayor and Councilor Kim Tierney was elected the new Council President.


Council Approves Agreement With Ridge Riders - Council voted to approve a Settlement Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vernonia Ridge Riders equestrian group for use of the Equestrian Arena adjacent to Anderson Park, based on acceptance by the Ridge Riders.

Read More

Mayor Resigns, Accepts Position as Assistant City Administrator

Following an extensive recruitment and selection process, the City of Vernonia is happy to announce the appointment of Josette Mitchell as its new Assistant to the City Administrator / City Recorder.

“I am extremely pleased to add Josette to our team, especially as we continue to focus on the City’s growth,” said City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone.  “She brings years of extensive, and intensive, hands on City operations, having served both as its chief legislative officer (Mayor) and executive (Interim City Administrator) officer.”

Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell reads her letter of resignation during the March 2, 2015 City Council meeting.

Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell reads her letter of resignation during the March 2, 2015 City Council meeting.

Mitchell, who began her third term as Mayor of the City of Vernonia in January, resigned her post to accept the new staff position following the March 2, 2015  City Council meeting.  Mitchell has also served on two separate occasions as Interim City Administrator for the City.

The City Charter does not allow an elected official to also be an employee of the City.

“With the recent retirement of Joann Glass as City Recorder we looked at this recruitment as an opportunity to improve the organization in a way that would go beyond the position of the City Recorder,” said Mammone.

City Council President Randy Parrow was appointed to fill the position of Mayor at the request of the rest of the City Council at the March 2, City Council meeting.  Councilor Kim Tierney was elected as the new Council President.  The City Council will discuss the process they will use to select a new Councilor at a scheduled workshop on March 30.   The City Charter allows the sitting Council to appoint someone to finish Parrow’s term which expires in 2016. Read More

City Department Updates: February 2-13, 2015

Administration / Utility Billing 

• Late fees will be applied on 2/17/15. Shut off letter will be sent out on 2/17/2015. Shut offs will be on 2/26/2015

• Staff is getting ready to send out the Six month Business License renewal.

• As of 2/13/2015 the outstanding balances were as follows: 90 days $1,098.37, 60 days $3,532.38, 30 days $14,280.26


Police Department – VPD 

• Statistics; The total number of calls for service and officer initiated activity in January 2015 was 299.

• January 30th, 2015 – February 4th, 2015 –The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 54.

• February 5, 2015 – February 11, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 62.

• Departmental Training- All VPD Officers will be attending “Emergency Vehicle Operation” training over the next two weeks. The training is in Portland and VPD vehicles will be traveling for training.

• Reserve Officer Update: VPD will reopen for Reserve Police Officers in July upon budget approval. The last two potential candidates were unable to successfully complete the process.

• Surplus Patrol Vehicles: As of February 12, 2015 VPD has not received an acceptable bid on the two surplus patrol vehicles. We will be relisting the vehicles next week.



• 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 has retired. 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.  Read More

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.  Read More