Tag Archives: Columbia County Jail

Businesses Support Jail Levy Campaign

Businesses are now voicing their support for Measure 5-234, which will be on the ballot in Columbia County this November. Three chambers of commerce in the county have decided to endorse the campaign to fund the jail for four years with 100 local beds.

Members of the South County Chamber, Clatskanie Chamber and Rainer Chamber include hundreds of businesses with a presence in the area. Both national companies and Mom-and-Pop shops are represented by these chamber organizations.

“Local businesses understand the need for a jail in the area. With a rash of burglaries in the area and no money to keep the offenders in jail when caught, we feel very vulnerable,” stated Chris Dahlgren, President of the Clatskanie Chamber and Owner of Discounts and Deals. “Having criminals released on the streets with no threat of punishment could easily be detrimental to businesses in the area. Increased theft and drug use will not bode well for my company and the other businesses in the county. We are willing to slightly increase our property taxes, if it means protection for our establishment and our community.” Read More

All Mayors Support Ballot Measure to Keep Prisoners in Jail

Every city mayor in Columbia County has endorsed the county-wide jail levy campaign. The levy, Measure 5-234, will be the only measure on the ballot during the special election this November. Commissioners referred the levy to the November ballot because lack of funds threaten to close the county jail altogether. Without passage of this levy, the jail is predicted to shut down completely in the near future.

More than 500 criminals have been released this year because of funding restraints. Most local offenders that go to the jail are likely to only spend 1 or 2 nights there because of the cost.

“The punishment should fit the crime. Cite and release should not be tolerable,” claimed Mayor Cheryl Young of Columbia City when explaining why she was supportive of the levy.  Read More

Levy to Keep Prisoners in Jail on November Ballot

Jail levy language has been filed with the Columbia County Elections office.

Commissioners referred the levy to the November ballot because lack of funds threaten to close the county jail altogether. Without the levy, the jail is predicted to be shut down by the end of 2013.

Already 500 prisoners have been released from the jail this year. Those that are sentenced are likely to only spend 1 or 2 nights in jail because of costs. “If we must close the jail due to lack of funding our communities will be less safe. It will negatively affect our property values and our quality of life,” claims Earl Fisher, Columbia County Commissioner. Read More

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.

Columbia County Forced Jail Releases

From Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson:

“In an effort to keep the community informed on our forced releases from our jail, the attached graphic will be produced weekly to show the previous week’s (Sunday through Saturday) forced releases.”