Tag Archives: Jim Buxton

Amateur Radio Can Assist in Emergencies

Members of the Vernonia Emergency Radio Association and the Vernonia Amateur Radio Klub (VERA/VARK) held an open house at the Vernonia Fire Station on Sunday January 26th.

“We just want to get the word out that amateur radio exists in our area,” said Dawn Moss, who is the Secretary for VERA/VARK and the Public Information Officer for the West Columbia County Amateur Radio Emergency Service.  “Amateur radio is still working, it does work, we still use it and it is evolving all the time.”

VERA/VARK is a small group of local amateur radio operators who volunteer their time and expertise to help prepare a communications network in the event of a local disaster.  They were very active during the 2007 Flood in Vernonia when electrical power and phone lines were shut down.

Jim Buxton manning the radios at the Vernonia Fire Station.

Jim Buxton manning the radios at the Vernonia Fire Station.

Amateur radio, also known as “ham radio” is a reliable source for communications which does not need complex systems of infrastructure to operate.  Even when systems are functioning in an emergency, lines could be overwhelmed by the volume of calls.  Amateur radio operators can bypass the usual systems and talk directly to each other, either across town or anywhere in the world.

According to Moss, VERA/VARK currently has six active members, although there are approximately fifty licensed amateur radio operators in the Vernonia community.  “We would like to get a few more people involved,” says Moss, whose radio call letters are KE7HHI. Read More

Voices From the Crowd: More About Our Co-op

Members of Power of One appear to have expectations and beliefs about Oregon law which are not borne out in reality. Again, the following is an attempt to set the record straight:

West Oregon Electric Cooperative (WOEC) is a non-profit cooperative corporation, operating under Oregon law (ORS chapter 62). All corporations and other businesses in Oregon are subject to law. Statements suggesting that WOEC is somehow not subject to law are false.

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) does not regulate Cooperatives, Municipals or Public Utility Districts (PUDs) except in matters of safety (ORS chapter 757).

The powers of the Attorney General can be found in ORS chapter 180.

Next, how is it that people re-elected multiple times to the Board are not “a model of democratic conduct”? Perhaps people are re-elected because they are doing a good job. Perhaps they are re-elected because it is a tough job and nobody else wants to do it. The board as currently constituted contains a mixture of long-time members, new members and some in between. It is a good mix. Some new board members bring new ideas to the table. New ideas are not necessarily good ideas. The older board members also have ideas, but in addition, have a memory of ideas that have been tried, some of which have succeeded and some that have failed. The bottom line is that each and every board member has been elected democratically and represents us in their decisions. They are doing their best on our behalf. There is no evidence to the contrary. Read More

Voices From the Crowd-Defending the Co-op

I was once West Oregon Electric Cooperative’s most vocal critic. But now I am hearing criticism so far out that I find myself defending the co-op. Below are statements recently made, followed by a comment:

•  “No entity – Federal, state, county or city has any jurisdiction over co-ops.”  Not so. The co-op operates under the laws of the State of Oregon, ORS Chapter 62. The PUC generally leaves the co-op alone, but comes down hard if we fall behind in our tree trimming. When we borrow money from RUS, a service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have to jump through their hoops. And then there is the IRS, OSHA, etc.

•  “The co-op is undemocratic.”  Not so. The members of the Board of Directors are democratically elected by the membership and represent us in doing the business of the co-op. The board consists of our elected friends and neighbors, trying to do the best job they can. I have not had a problem talking with individual board members. Even if I disagree with their decisions, they deserve my courtesy and respect. Read More

Report from WOEC Monthly Meeting

I attended the WOEC board meeting Tuesday, August 20, 2013. Several items are, in my opinion, noteworthy.

You may have heard that the newest director, Robert France unexpectedly did not show up to the annual meeting. The reason is that he had died suddenly on the Thursday before  the annual meeting of complications from diabetes. The other candidate for the position, Larry Averitt of Cason Road near Banks was appointed as the new District 7 director at the Tuesday board meeting.

Leigh Taylor of CoBank, a cooperative bank, gave a presentation to the board. WOEC already has a line of credit with another cooperative bank, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), but CoBank has some additional advantages.  It appeared that it might be beneficial to WOEC to be members of both cooperatives. The board voted to join CoBank and agreed to pay the $1,000 membership fee. Now, it might seem like a bad idea for financially strapped WOEC to spend $1,000 to join another co-op, but consider:

• Several programs exist to help financially strapped people to pay utility bills. WOEC contributes $5,000 each to Oregon Heat and Care to Share. In addition, WOEC employees and members also donate to these organizations. CoBank will match WOEC’s $5,000 donation to one of those organizations. What makes this all worthwhile is that WOEC is forced to write off at least $4,000 per month in bad debt. So every little bit helps. Read More