Tag Archives: City Administrator

Council Hires Mitchell for City Administrator

The City of Vernonia has hired Josette Mitchell to be the new City Administrator.

Mitchell was offered the City Administrators position following the September 8, 2015 City Council meeting.

“We’re pleased to have Josette Mitchell as our new City Administrator,” said Mayor Randy Parrow. “We look forward to having someone in this position who is familiar with our community and has a solid working knowledge of the City’s current goals and projects.”

Mitchell was elected as Mayor three times in 2010, 2012, and 2014 before stepping down to take the position of City Recorder/Assistant to the City Administrator this past March.  Mitchell has previously served as Interim City Administrator on two separate occasions.  She replaces former City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone who was relieved of his duties on August 12.

There had been some speculation that Mitchell would again be named Interim City Administrator  following Mammone’s dismissal.  But instead the City Council chose to offer her the full position and forego any further search or interview any additional candidates.

“Josette has shown her commitment to the City of Vernonia over the last several years,” said Mayor Parrow.  “She has earned this opportunity and we look forward to working with her and helping her succeed in moving the City forward.”

Terms of Mitchell’s contract were not made public.

City Has New Administrator

NewCityAdministrator-webThe City of Vernonia has reached an agreement with Gian Paolo ‘Paul’ Mammone to become the new City Administrator.

An agreement was signed on July 30, 2014.  Mammone is scheduled to start on September 1, 2014.  Terms of the agreement were not made public.

“After some serious consideration in our process we have picked Gian Paolo as our new City Administrator,” said City Council President Randy Parrow. “A contract is signed, sealed and delivered and we are ready to roll.  He will be starting on September 1st officially, but will be stepping in before that and providing some technical assistance in some instances where we need immediate help.”

Mammone recently completed a contract with the City of Banks, OR as the Interim City Administrator.   Prior to working in Banks, Mammone contracted with the City of Toledo, OR providing assistance with Public Works operations and personnel management.  He also contracted with the City of Connell, WA where he served as City Administrator.  Mammone also served as City Administrator for the City of Falls City, OR from 2009 to 2012.

“We’re very happy to have Gian Paolo and are looking forward to a long term relationship,” said Parrow.  Read More

City Administrator Candidates Interviewed

The Vernonia City Council voted on Saturday, July 12 to offer the permanent City Administrator position to one of the three candidates following a series of interviews on the same day.

The candidates were interviewed by three separate panels: a panel of citizens including representatives from several city committees; a panel of city staff; and a panel made up of the four current City Councilors.  Current Vernonia Mayor and acting City Administrator Josette Mitchell was one of the candidates being interviewed for the position.

Following the interviews the Council met in Executive Session and deliberated for almost three hours about the interviews and the recommendations from the citizen and staff panels.  Following the Executive Session, the Council met in open session and instructed city staff to begin negotiations with their first choice candidate.  The Council’s choice will not be made public until negotiations are complete and an offer has been accepted.

City Will Wait to Hire Permanent City Administrator

The Vernonia City Council is waiting until they go through the 2014-15 budget process before making any decisions about hiring a permanent City Administrator.

Mayor Josette Mitchell says that the City has exhausted all the funds allocated for the City Administrator position for this fiscal year, due to all the expenses and costs the City incurred to finalize the dismissal of previous City Administrator Bill Haack.

“We realized there wasn’t money in that line item to hire someone for the rest of the fiscal year without making extreme changes, like letting someone else go or cutting something else way back to where the services provided would not be what the citizens were expecting,” said Mitchell during a recent interview. Read More

An Opinion: It was Time for a Change at City Hall

On Tuesday December 11, 2013 the Vernonia City Council voted to fire City Administrator Bill Haack.  This somewhat surprising news caught most citizens off guard.  While some locals greeted the news  with open arms, others were shocked by this seemingly sudden decision.

Although unexpected, the dismissal of Haack by the Vernonia City Council was not sudden and was the right move for the City.

Haack’s three-and-a-half years as Vernonia City Administrator have certainly been tumultuous.
He has been an enigma in many ways, popular and capable, yet often difficult to understand and work with.  In the end, it was this difficult-to-work-with component of his persona that led to his falling out with the City Council.

I can’t discuss all the details that went into Council’s decision to fire Haack, as this is a private personnel issue.  All of the discussion by Council took place in several closed Executive Sessions.  But it was obvious in recent public meetings that  Council was growing unhappy with Haack’s administrative style.  Trouble was already brewing during the budget process last spring, as Council and Haack grappled over management of  tight finances.  Haack’s manner and communication style were grating on some members of  Council.  It all came to a head when the Council expressed displeasure with the project management on the Wastewater Upgrade Project and decided it was time for a change of direction at City Hall. Read More

City Administrator Report



The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility improvements project cost estimate is adjusted up to $6.3 million. The Flume Improvement Project is complete with final costs at about $300,000, including $275,524 for Lyda Excavating, $10,431 for Otak for design and construction management, $5,425 KLS Surveying and $8,065 Shannon and Wilson for geotechnical reports and testing.  This is well below the engineers cost estimate for construction.  The estimate for biosolids removal is between $800,000 and $1.2 million depending on where materials are hauled – Polk County or Sherman/Wasco County (See Biosolids discussion below).   The estimate for the construction of the pipe gallery, dike elevation and additional constructed improvements remains as estimated in the August 2012 Predesign report – $4.52 million – this will be adjusted by the end of the calendar year prior to going out to bid.  The City Engineer and City staff direct construction management and over sight expenses will be added to the total cost through 2015.


Pacific Habitat Services (PHS) successfully facilitated the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) accepted Tetra Tech’s TM (technical memorandum) on the operations protocol for operating the hyporheic infiltration allows for their concurrence that the Biological Opinion developed PHS is acceptable.  The PHS Environmental Assessment and Biological Assessment are now presented to DEQ for their review under their State Environmental Review Process (See http://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/loans/docs/SERPApplicantGuide.pdf).  This process meets Oregon Clean Water State Revolving Fund guidelines established to meet EPA NEPA standards. Read More

Vernonia City Administrators Report, May 6, 2013



The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility improvements project cost estimate is unchanged, with total project cost established within a $5.25 to $6.0 million range.  Otak provided the State with an engineer’s estimate for the Biosolids removal and Flume Improvement projects of $800,000 and $305,000 respectively.  (There is more discussion below on the Flume project).  The new construction hyporheic discharge WWTP facility improvements are estimated at $4.5 million.  There are various other construction management, materials testing, and project administration costs that need to be firmed up.


The City Administrator met with USDA Rural Utility Services to discuss their Wastewater Loan and Grant programs.  If eligible I will develop an agenda item for the 5-6-13 City Council meeting that directs staff to pursue USDA funding.  (However, DEQ financing is still planned for the Flume Improvement Project and the Biosolids Removal Project.) Read More

Vernonia City Administrators Report, April 1, 2013



The City of Vernonia along with development team members from Otak, Tetra Tech, Pacific Habitat Services and Shannon and Wilson, are working closely together to provide NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with temperature and ammonia modeling for the hyporheic discharge design now under DEQ review.  The NMFS is only one of the cross cutting federal environmental hurdles that need to be cleared in the submittal to EPA, but is clearly the one that may be problematic.  Otak is working to satisfy Pacific Habitat need for temperature data by Friday March 29, 2013.  DEQ and EPA are negotiating with NMFS on the required ammonia modeling.



The Public Works Committee will review a proposal from Dan Heffernan Company to update specific elements of the city SDC schedule to align the fee charged with the Master capital Plan.  I will bring this to the committee after the Council adopts the Master Capital Plan. Read More

Vernonia City News-City Administrator Report



The wastewater treatment plant cost estimate is still rough, but is in the range of $5.25 to $6.0 million.  As discussed at the joint Public Works Committee and City Council work session, the cost of the project is composed of three parts: (1) Flume Improvements – $300,000 to $350,000 which includes Otak engineering project management and DEQ fee, (2) Biosolids Removal, $600,000 to $800,000, and (3) WWTP Construction and overall Project/Construction Management, $4,500,000.  There will be additional costs for testing and monitoring (e.g. Shannon and Wilson geotechnical, and Pacific Habitat for wetland and erosion).  There will also be project management costs that will include Otak project management and City staff clerking the draws, maintaining records and writing reports.  Using City staff will be a least cost approach rather than using staff of the city engineering firm. Read More