Tag Archives: Henry Heimuller

Vernonia’s Voice Endorses Mitchell, Hult and Heimuller

On Thursday, October16 Vernonia’s Voice hosted a political forum called “Meet the Candidates.”  We invited candidates for Vernonia Mayor, Vernonia City Council, Columbia County Commissioner, and Circuit Court Judge.  The candidates answered a series of questions allowing audience members a chance to see some of the differences between them.

In the past, Vernonia’s Voice has not made endorsements of political candidates.  But there are several races on the ballot this year that are just too important.

Vernonia’s Voice is pleased to announce our endorsement of Josette Mitchell for Vernonia Mayor, Jill Hult for Vernonia City Council and Henry Heimuller for Columbia County Commissioner.

The following is recap of the “Meet the Candidates” event and our reasons for endorsing these candidates.


Vernonia Mayor

Candidates:  Josette Mitchell, Sally Harrison

Josette Mitchell has served as Vernonia Mayor for the last four years.  Her opponent, Sally Harrison was the previous Mayor; Mitchell defeated Harrison in the 2010 election and than ran unopposed in 2012.

In the time Mitchell has been Mayor she has been extremely active and involved in the day-to-day operations at City Hall.  She has been extremely busy, acting as the interim City Administrator for nine months as well as Mayor this past year.  She has shown the ability to dig in and learn about and deal with the issues facing the City.  As she stated during the forum, she has been involved in moving numerous projects forward and wants the opportunity to complete the work she started as mayor.  She deserves her chance.

Mitchell is a doer.  She has diligently tackled several complicated issues head-on and worked to find solutions.  I believe she has learned that government work can be painstakingly slow, but she has shown  she has the determination and grit and to stick with it and deal with the issues.   Whether or not you’ve agreed with her decisions or methods,  you certainly can’t accuse her of standing pat, giving up,  or letting things slide.  Whether it’s been helping a citizen deal with a drainage issue, or dealing with the conflict between the Ridge Riders and the City, or complaints about maintenance at the cemetery, or making sure the Spencer Park fields were built correctly, Mitchell has jumped in, looked for solutions and followed through.   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.