Tag Archives: Columbia County Commissioners

County Commissioners Have Coffee with Vernonians

Hyde says he’s not in favor of LNG project

CommissionersHydeBuxton-webAll three Columbia County Commissioners were on hand the morning of April 17 at a jam packed Black Iron Grill to have coffee and chat with Vernonia area citizens.

The visit was part of the Commissioners plan to visit each of the five cities in Columbia County to hear the concerns of the community.

The top item of concern was the proposed Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline projects, which was made obvious by the large number of red shirted activists in the room.

When asked what reasons they could site for supporting the LNG plant and pipeline which would transport natural gas across Columbia County, Commissioner Tony Hyde reversed previous statements he had made that indicated support of the project and stated he now believes the project has no reason for the support of the Board of Commissioners.

Hyde explained that the Commissioners have had several presentations about the proposed project over the last six years, which  Hyde called “purely conjecture,” and included the possibility of the gas line passing through the Mist fields and using storage facilities in that area in Columbia County.  Hyde then made the following statement to applause from the audience,  “What we found out recently was that this gas line that is going to the proposed ‘Baby Baghdad in the Bay,’ for lack of a better term, is not going to Mist field and has no reason for our support.”

Hyde went on to say that he did not believe the LNG plant, proposed to be constructed in Warrenton, will ever be built. “I know the Commissioners in Clatsop County don’t support it and that the citizens, experiencing a renaissance during the last decade in Astoria, are very reticent.”

Hyde added that he has had several conversations with local constituents which has helped add to his knowledge of the project and helped sway his opinion.

When asked if the Columbia County Board of Commissioners will take policy action and publicly oppose the project, Hyde backed off and said all three Commissioners have not discussed the issue as a Board.   Read More

Coffee with the Commissioners Scheduled

The Columbia County Board of Commissioners will be meeting in Vernonia to visit with local citizens for a “Coffee with the Commissioners” event on Friday, April 17 at 9:00 AM at the Black Iron Grill, 831 Bridge Street.

According to the Board of Commissioners office, the Board will be traveling around the county throughout the next year, meeting in each of the five cities for these types of events where they can chat with locals about their issues, concerns and ideas.

Columbia County Commissioners Will Seek Jail Operations Levy

Commissioners discuss jail operations, more at Vernonia coffee event

CoffeeCommissioners-webFrom county furlough days to FEMA trailers and operation of the Columbia County Jail, the July 26 coffee klatch with county commissioners Tony Hyde, Earl Fisher and Henry Heimuller touched on a wide range of topics. The event was held at the Black Bear Coffee Company in Vernonia.

With funds tight for the county, commissioners decided several years ago to close the courthouse to the public on Fridays, to accommodate 26 furlough days. County employees work every other Friday, using the non-public contact time to catch up on tasks set aside during the non-working Friday, Heimuller said. “They don’t have to answer questions; they don’t have to answer the phone. They can concentrate on getting their work done,” he said.

Although the public may have less contact with county employees, Heimuller said that employees are learning to wear more hats and do more.

County jail operations

The 260-bed jail currently houses 105 prisoners. The majority –80— are inmates that the U.S. Marshals Service houses in the Columbia County Jail for $75 per bed, per day.

“Without those beds, we would have closed the jail two years ago,” Heimuller said.

This leaves 25 beds for individuals arrested inside Columbia County. The funding is not there to utilize the rest of the beds. “The jail was built with rentals in mind,” Hyde told the assembled group.

In November, the commissioners will send voters a jail operation levy – approximately $.55 to $.60 per thousand in assessed property value. If approved, that funding will be earmarked strictly for jail operations, Fisher said.

“There won’t be anything with the sheriff’s office, no patrol funding [in this levy attempt],” Heimuller said.

Heimuller said that the jail is operating on funding meant for 35-38 beds, and that there’s a lot that goes into supervision and care for inmates once they are housed in the county jail. Caring for inmates is not limited just to provision of food, shelter and clothing either. For example, when inmates come into the jail, the county must provide medical care and pay for it, regardless of whether the inmate has insurance or not. “If someone comes in and they need dialysis or chemo, we have to pay for that,” he said.

Every day, jail personnel must videotape every interaction with inmates and must record a visual check on each inmate every single hour. “If someone is missing from a visual check, the jail is fined,” Heimuller said.

Community members touched on the desire to require bicyclists have some sort of licensing or registration and commissioners revealed that they will entertain offers for FEMA trailers that have been in Vernonia, in light of an upcoming auction for those trailers.

The Columbia County Board of Commissioners meets every Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM in room 308.


For more Columbia County news coverage see the Columbia County Buzz Examiner page at www.examiner.com/buzz-in-portland/april-bamburg.