Tag Archives: City of Vernonia

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 of Vernonia, USDA Break Ground on Wastewater System Improvement Project

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Join the City of Vernonia, USDA Rural Development, elected officials, and residents to celebrate the groundbreaking for a wastewater system improvement project nearly 20 years in the making. Funded by Rural Development, this project will improve water quality for the local community and native fish species while also upgrading the town’s infrastructure and safeguarding it against flooding.

Who:         The groundbreaking ceremony will be attended by City of Vernonia Mayor Randall J. Parrow; USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker; representatives from the Offices of Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici; staff from both the City of Vernonia and USDA; and representatives from the construction company Tetra Tech. Also invited are representatives from the State of Oregon, local officials, and the public.

What:        A groundbreaking ceremony for the City of Vernonia’s wastewater treatment system improvement project.

When:       Tuesday, August 25, 2015,  11:00 AM  Read More

Vernonia Council Fires City Administrator

The Vernonia City Council voted unanimously late on Tuesday,  August 11, 2015 to terminate the contract  of City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone without cause.

The vote followed an Executive Session scheduled by the Council to perform an annual job performance review for Mammone.

Terms of the contract separation were not immediately available.

Mammone was hired as the City Administrator in August 2014.

Council has not named a successor, but will discuss the situation at their August 17, 2015 meeting.

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

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 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

Meet New Library Director Shannon Romtvedt

MeetLibrarianShannonRomtvedt-webShannon Romtvedt is the new Director at the Vernonia Library.  Romtvedt was a highly qualified candidate who was selected for the position by City staff in November.

Romtvedt, who lives outside Vernonia off Keasey Road with her young family, brings a professional education and experience in several other library systems.  She says she is excited by the opportunity to work in her own hometown.

“One of my favorite things to hear as a librarian is:  ‘I didn’t know where to start with this question, so I came to the library,’” said Romtvedt.

Romtvedt says she was interested in working in libraries from a young age.  She grew up in West Salem, OR and enjoyed spending time at the local branch of her local library.  “It was not much  bigger than this Vernonia Library and I spent a lot of time there,” remembers Romtvedt.  “As a kid I envisioned being the Librarian there.”

Romtvedt did end up volunteering at her local library as a high school student, and enjoyed straightening the children’s area and creating displays.  “I had a lot of fun with that,” she says.

Romtvedt attended George Fox University, majoring in Writing and Literature, graduating in 2005.  While at George Fox Romtvedt did a work/study program at the university library.  She also met her soon to be husband Brady Romtvedt at George Fox.  Following graduation they moved together to Texas where Brady worked on a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Baylor University. Read More

City Department Updates: January 1-9, 2015

 Administration / Utility Billing 

• Utility clerk sent out bills on 12/24/2014 to 958 customers for a total amount of $158,372.12 .  As of 1/9/2015 the outstanding balances were as follows:

90 day 2,108.36

60 day 8,306.14

30 day 27,715.92

• Utilities shut offs will be on 1/22/2015


Police Department – VPD 

• January 1st , 2015 – January 8th, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer initiated activity was 69.

• Reserve Officer Update: Pending results of Medical & Psychological Evaluations.

• Surplus Patrol Vehicles: VPD will be accepting sealed bids on two patrol vehicles through February 13, 2015



• The Finance Director spent most of the week going through old files, sorting and reorganizing. This is a tedious project as all files must be reviewed to determine retention requirements and it hasn’t been done for many years.

• Staff is still working to resolve the Library computer issues. Staff will present the latest proposal to Council at the next meeting.

• The server upgrade project is completed and the final cost was just under the estimate given by our IT provider. The upgrade will be good for at least three years. The upgrades must be done in order to ensure that all software updates and security is up to date.

• The Finance Director continues to work on the Waste Water Treatment Plan project documents. A meeting of all agencies involved with the project is scheduled for next week. There has been a change of staffing at Tetra Tech (the consulting engineering group) and there is a new project manager assigned to the project. He has over 20 years experience and we are confident that he will do a good job for the City.

• The City’s insurance provider has awarded the City $7,500 through their risk management incentive grant program to help pay for a security fence at “pump station #1” near the transfer station. This will eliminate the possibility of someone getting hurt on the property and deter vandalism that has occurred in the past.  Read More

“Walk Your Wheels” Help Make Our Sidewalks Safer

People often wonder if one person really can make a difference.  Paula Hanson has proven once again that they can.

Hanson is the inspiration and creator of “Walk Your Wheels,” a campaign designed to make Vernonia’s downtown corridor safer for pedestrians and encourage courtesy and consideration on Vernonia’s sidewalks.

WalkYourWheels-SignOnly-webThe  “Walk Your Wheels” safety program Hanson initiated involves signage in Vernonia’s downtown that reminds bicyclists, skateboarders, scooter riders  and users of other wheeled devices that the City has an ordinance prohibiting riding on sidewalks in certain portions of town.  Three signs were recently installed at local businesses and more will be in place shortly.

“We’re hoping these signs become familiar and that people understand what it means,” says Hanson.

The “Walk Your Wheels” program does not suggest that riders move into the street, but instead encourages them to walk their wheeled device on sidewalks where riding is prohibited.

The signs references city ordinance 764 which controls vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The ordinance prohibits use of wheeled devices on Bridge Street from Weed Avenue to California along with adjacent side streets that include Madison Avenue and Jefferson Avenue between Bridge and Maple Avenue.

“We’re not chasing people off the sidewalks, we just want them to be aware of and courteous of our foot traffic,” says Hanson.

According to Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner, violation of the ordinance is punishable by a $50 fine.  Conner says his officers will initially give warnings to violators, especially for visitors to the community who may not be familiar with the ordinance.  Read More

 Administration / Utility Billing 

• This month when the utility bills were processed there was a hiccup in the system and the water consumption portion of the bill was doubled for every account. The problem was not discovered until after all of the bills were mailed out. The problem was corrected and all accounts are now showing the correct charges. City staff would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.

• As of 12/12/2014 the outstanding balances were as follows:

90 day $1,915.62

60 day $7,993.80

30 day $2,4307.68

• Utilities shut-offs will be on 12/22/2014

• We would like to remind all 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 through a third party merchant. Check the bottom portion of your bill for registration information. Please, feel free to call City Hall (503.429.5291) for any assistance.

Police Department – VPD 

• November 2014 Statistics: The total number of calls for service and Officer initiated activity was 212.

• December 01, – December 05, 2014: The total number of calls for service and Officer initiated activity was 38.

• December 06 – December 12, 2014: The total number of calls for service and Officer initiated activity was 74.

• Both of the recently purchased patrol vehicles are now in service.

• We have begun the background process for four Reserve Officer applicants. Upon completion, the selected applicants will be scheduled for medical evaluations.


• Finance Director is continuing to work with Public Works Foreman to assess the staffing needs of the Public Works Department. A report is being drafted that will show all tasks that should be done on a regular schedule. Preventative maintenance is the area most neglected due to lack of staff.

• Finance Director is working with the Senior Center’s insurance agent and the City’s insurance agent to ensure both parties are properly covered in preparation of the possible move of Senior Center into the Vernonia Community Learning Center next year.  Read More