Tag Archives: Vernonia City News

City News

At the April 20, 2015 City Council Meeting:

Council Hears Presentation on Disaster Recovery – Council heard a presentation from Jim Tierney, Executive Director of Community Action Team (CAT), regarding Small Community Disaster Recovery.  Columbia County Flood Relief  and CAT were instrumental in assisting the City of Vernonia and its residents after the Flood of 2007.  Tierney told Council the community was able to secure funding and assistance totaling over $47 million from various sources during the recovery project.  He provided information documenting the recovery effort and said the documents could be used in the event of a future disaster.   Tierney noted that the immediate response by volunteers to gather data from damaged property owners led to 109 homes being lifted or bought out,  four commercial buyouts and one commercial flood-proofing project. The community received $2.5 million in faith group labor and  $250,000 in other volunteer labor.

Council Approves Spencer Park Fencing Plan – Council approved a plan presented by staff, and recommended by the Parks Committee, to install bollard and wire fencing around Spencer Park.  Council approved the estimated $5,000 expense based on the funding being available from the Parks budget.

Council Approves WWTP Funding- Council approved Resolution 05-15, approving  a State Revolving Fund Loan Agreement to fund the Waste Water Treatment Project.

Council Approves Funds Transfer-Council approved Resolution 06-15 for an interfund transfer in the Parks Budget in order to pay for new parks staff, pay for the major repair at Vernonia Lake, and install fencing at Spencer Field.  A total of $25,319 was transferred  from Building Operations and Maintenance, Advertising and Contingency line items to Salaries, FICA, Operational Materials and Contract Services.

Council Directs Lot Line Adjustment-Council directed staff to proceed with a lot line adjustment to establish a standard  lot size for the former cemetery care taker house at the top of Bridge Street.  The City is considering renovating and selling the home.

Council Offers Some Assistance on Water Bill – Council offered Jeff Harrison a 50% reduction on his water usage bill after he experienced a large and unnoticed water leak on his property on Springboard Lane.  Harrison previously told Council he repaired the leak as soon as it was identified but still received a bill for use of 219,900 gallons of water totaling $950.  Based on previous situations, Council offered Harrison a reduction of $457.29 and a payment plan for six months to pay for the water use during the leak.   Read More

Vernonia City News

At the March 16, City Council Meeting:

Council Votes to Forgive Portion of Water Debt – Council received a letter from Mrs. Sandra McLean who experienced higher than normal water use during a time she had a water leak.  It took some time to locate the leak and Mrs. McLean had bills approximately $100 over normal use.  She told Council she is on a fixed income and requested help.  Council voted to forgive 50% of her overage and instructed staff to develop a payment plan for the remainder of the amount.

Topics From the Floor -  Frank Patrick, representing the Curl family, told Council he is challenging the City’s ability to change their utility rate structure and increase the amount they charge for the 2 inch water meter on his client’s property.  The complaint is in response to letters recently sent out by the City informing some customers that they had been billed incorrectly for a smaller size water meter than was actually in use.

Council Approves Street Closure for Open Air Market - Council approved a request from Bill Langmaid, representing the Open Air Market, to hold the Market on Adams Avenue, at Bridge Street and to close the street for the market on Saturdays from 9 AM – 3 PM beginning in June.  Council approved the request for the months of June and July and will revisit the request to see if there have been any issues.  Council had previously rejected the request to hold the Market on Adams Avenue which was presented by City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone on behalf of the Open Air Market.

Council Approves Library Internet Policy – Council approved a new internet use policy at the Vernonia Library presented by Library Director Shannon Romtvedt.  The new policy no longer requires parent permission slips be signed for use of the internet by minors because of the difficulty in keeping track of this paperwork, but instead will track a list of minors who are restricted from use of the internet.

Council Approves Library Surplus List -  Council approved a list of items, including computers, keyboards, monitors, printers, and shelving as surplus and authorized their disposal or sale.

Council Hears Water Services Report - Council received a  written and verbal report from GIS consultant Ben Fousek on the Water Services work the City has been doing.  The report summarized work to replace the antiquated utility billing system, map and locate all water services in the system, standardize billing and rates, and provide analysis for City decision makers. Read More

City News

At the February 17, 2015 City Council Meeting:


Council Discusses Anderson Park Issues - Council spent time discussing issues surrounding monthly guests and conditions at Anderson Park.  Council and staff agreed there are concerns and changes that need to be made.  Council encouraged staff  to enforce rules and clean up the Park.


Council Approves Property Use for Open Air Market - Council approved a request from Bill Langmaid for use of the property at the corner of Bridge Street and Grant Avenue for use by the Open Air Market this upcoming summer.  The site is where the former health center building was located.  The Open Air Market will be held on Saturdays from June through September.  The Council denied the first choice location on Adams Avenue which would have required a street closure every week.  Council also agreed to waive business license fees for participating vendors at the market.


Council Passes Two Resolutions  – Council Passed Resolution 03-15, Amending City Council Rules and Procedures,  and Resolution 04-15 Amending Ordinance 880 which establishes the organization of City Committees.  Both resolutions made minor changes.  Resolution 03-15 adds an Action Item Summary to City Council meetings in Section 10 describing the Order of Business at a City Council meeting.  Resolution 04-15 adds verbiage to sections 3 and 7 of Ordinance 880, stating that two members of a City Committee may be appointed from outside city limits, adding “within the Vernonia School district Boundaries, ” and adding the statement, “In an event there is not a full committee, a quorum relates to its current capacity of members until filled.”


At the March 2, 2015 City Council Meeting:


Mayor Resigns to Accept Assistant City Admin Position - Mayor Josette Mitchell read a letter to the Council and audience announcing her resignation as Mayor in order to accept a staff position as Assistant to the City Administrator/City Recorder.  Council President Randy Parrow was nominated and accepted the role of Mayor and Councilor Kim Tierney was elected the new Council President.


Council Approves Agreement With Ridge Riders - Council voted to approve a Settlement Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vernonia Ridge Riders equestrian group for use of the Equestrian Arena adjacent to Anderson Park, based on acceptance by the Ridge Riders.

Read More

City News

At the January 20, 2015 City Council Meeting:

Council Approves Budget Calendar, Appoints Budget Officer-Council approved the Budget Calendar presented by Finance Director Angie Handegard.  The first Budget Committee meeting is scheduled for April 28, with additional meetings scheduled for May 5, 12, and 19.  The Council also appointed City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone as the Budget Officer.  Mayor Josette Mitchell appointed former City Councilor Bruce McNair to serve as a citizen member of the Budget Committee.  The Budget Committee is still looking for additional citizens to serve.

Council Agrees to Forgive Part of Water Bill-City Administrator Mammone presented Council with a report on the water leak issue that was brought before Council by resident Victoria McAdams at the January 5, 2015 City Council meeting.  Mammone reported that after two months of increasingly high water usage, City staff visited the property, saw no indication of a leak and replaced the water meter at McAdams’ rental where she lives.  The following month the reading still showed an unusual increase in usage (82,000) gallons.  In December City staff met with McAdams and the landlord and was informed there was a leak in a toilet, which is the responsibility of the owner/renter.  Mammone told Council that City policy is clear, a leak on private property is not the responsibility of the City.  The outstanding balance still due for usage during the time of the issue (not including the monthly base rate and  loans payments) totals  $485.26.  Council agreed to forgive half the usage fees and instructed city staff to send a bill for the balance to both McAdams and the landlord so they can work out payment arrangements.  Mayor Mitchell said McAdams will not be subject to any shutoff procedure if the balance of payment is late.

Council Approves Senior Center Lease-Council authorized the City Administrator to sign a revised lease agreement between the City and the Senior Center for use of the Vernonia Community Learning Center (VCLC) as a Thrift Store.  The proposed lease includes the VCLC building, the courtyard attached to the building and the parking area in back of the building.  Rent is $12 per year and the tenant would pay $200 for the cost of administrating, drafting and executing the lease.  The tenant will sublease one office space to the Vernonia Friends of the Library.  During the discussion of the lease terms several items were brought forward by Jim Tierney of Community Action Team, who is assisting the Senior Center with the negotiation.  Questions included: the length of the lease – either two or three years, permitted uses, and responsibility for maintenance and repairs.  City legal counsel was involved in part of the discussion by phone and was asked to prepare a revised version of the lease.  Council gave the City Administrator authorization to sign the lease with revisions,  if approved by the Senior Center. The lease was later signed. Read More

City News

At the January 5, 2015 City Council Meeting:

Mayor and New Councilors Sworn In- Mayor Josette Mitchell and new City Councilors Jill Hult and Mike Seager took the oath of office following their election in November 2014.  Mitchell returns as Mayor for her third term; this is the first term for Seager and Hult.

City Recorder Joann Glass administers the oath of office to Josette Mitchell who is serving her third term as mayor of  Vernonia.

City Recorder Joann Glass administers the oath of office to Josette Mitchell who is serving her third term as mayor of Vernonia.

Council Names President and Committee Liaisons-City Councilor Randy Parrow was elected City Council President by the rest of the Council.  New Councilor Jill Hult will act as Council liaison to the Airport Committee, Mike Seager will act as liaison to the Public Works Committee.  Councilor Parrow, who is already liaison to the Parks Committee, will also serve as liaison to the Library Board. Mayor Josette Mitchell will continue to serve as liaison to the Cemetery Committee and Councilor Kim Tierney will continue to serve as liaison to the Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Mayor Appoints  Roberts to Parks Committee- Mayor Josette Mitchell, with approval from Council, appointed Brittanie Roberts to the Parks Committee.

Topics From the Floor- Paula Hanson told Council that the signs for the “Walk Your Wheels” Campaign are being installed at downtown businesses and thanked Council for their support and how easily the project came together.  The “Walk Your Wheels” safety project was initiated by Hanson to encourage users of bicycles, skateboards and scooters to follow local ordinance 764, which prohibits riding on sidewalks in downtown, and to encourage local law enforcement to enforce the ordinance.  Council later gave permission for a “Walk Your Wheels” sign to be installed on the Vernonia Community Learning Center by City staff.

Scott Laird told Council that he has been researching the “Walk Your Wheels” project and noted that he had learned after speaking with Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner, that the area covered in the ordinance that prohibits riding on sidewalks extends from Weed Avenue all the way to California Avenue.  Laird suggested that Council consider reviewing the ordinance and shorten the zone.

Sally Harrison spoke on behalf of the Ridge Riders equestrian club and told Council that the Ridge Riders are in the process of  withdrawing their litigation against the City and Harrison encouraged the City to schedule and meet with the Ridge Riders to resolve their differences concerning the lease agreement for the use of the Anderson Park Horse Arena.

Brett Costley told Council that, since the State of Oregon has approved the legalization of marijuana,  he encouraged Council to not waste City resources in any attempt to create any special ordinance to zone out any retail establishment.

Victoria McAdams discussed with Council a water billing issue.  McAdams told Council she discovered in September that she had an unusually large water usage at the rental where she lives.  The City replaced her water meter. Her high usage continued and in November McAdams was facing a shut off  by the City.  It was then discovered that the meter was not the problem, but that there was a leak.  McAdams said she has paid a portion of her bill but still has an outstanding balance of $500.  She asked Council to forgive some of the bill because she was led to believe by the City that the meter was the problem.  Council later authorized the City Administrator to negotiate with McAdams to settle her outstanding balance and forgive the extra usage.  Council also instructed the City Administrator to send copies of billing accounts that are behind to landlords.   Read More

Vernonia City News

At the December 1, 2014 City Council Meeting:

Mayor Appoints Planning Commissioner- Mayor Josette Mitchell, with approval from the Council,  reappointed Jeff Goodman to the Planning Commission.

Council Discusses VCLC Lease with Senior Center-Council discussed a memorandum from Community Action Team (CAT) concerning a potential lease agreement between the City and the Vernonia Senior Center for use of the Vernonia Community Learning Center (VCLC).  The memo from CAT, written by Jim Tierney and presented by Casey Mitchell, outlined proposed terms of the agreement.  The suggested lease would be for two years at $1/year with the Senior Center responsible for all utilities.  The agreement would allow the Friends of the Library to continue to use one office space for book storage.  Council discussed storage space and furniture currently in the building.  Council agreed with the terms and instructed staff to work with the City Attorney to finalize a lease.

Council Accepts General Election Abstract- Council voted to accept the official abstract of votes from the Columbia County Clerk’s office for the General Election held on November 4, 2014.  The acceptance of the abstract makes official the election of Josette Mitchell as Mayor and Jill Hult and Mike Seager as City Councilors.

Police Identify Owner of House- Police Chief Mike Conner told Council  that he has identified a bank which is the owner of an abandoned property in Vernonia.  The City has received complaints that the property is being used by squatters and has become a nuisance.   Read More

Vernonia City News

At the November 17, 2014 City Council Meeting:

Council Appoints and Accepts Resignation for Committees- Based on a recommendation from the Airport Committee and with consensus from Council, Mayor Josette Mitchell appointed Georgeanna Seager to the Airport Committee, beginning January 1, 2015.

Council also accepted the resignation of Barbara Ward from the Library Committee.

Topics From the Floor- Bill Sword explained some of the history of the road through his property and told Council he is tired of the City telling him what he can do with regards to traveling through City owned Anderson Park.

Sword also complained about the garbage containers on Bridge Street at the corners which block drivers view and should be moved to the middle of the block.

Paula Hanson updated Council on her “Walk Your Wheels” project and told them the Lions Club has agreed to pay for  eight signs at a cost of $414.72.  Hanson said she has an agreement with four businesses, Black Iron Grill, All In Pub, Vernonia Florist and Galorist and True Value Hardware to place signs on their buildings.  Hanson is working with city staff  to place the other signs.

Council Discusses Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) Amendment- Council discussed an amendment to the IGA between the City of Vernonia and the Vernonia School District for the construction of Spencer Park.  Through the construction process several agreements were made for changes to the original agreement, but were not officially documented.  The amendment to the IGA updates the final work and documents the District’s compliance with the park construction.  Council agreed with the amendment and asked that it be sent to School Superintendent  Aaron Miller for approval.  The School District and City are attempting to close out the project and have final funds (approximately $500,000) for the construction released from escrow. Read More

City News

At the October 20, 2014 City Council Meeting: 

Council Approves Zone Change-Council approved an application from Bud and Sharla Dow to change the zone designation for the Lincoln School property from Residential R to General Commercial GC.  (See full story on front page)

Topics From the Floor – Council heard an update on activities at Vernonia Schools from Summer Snow and Alexis Baska representing the Vernonia High School Leadership Class.

Council Approves Marijuana Tax – Council held a public hearing to consider adoption of Ordinance 896 establishing a tax on the sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products in the City of Vernonia.  Measure 91, which was voted on in Oregon on November 4 would legalize marijuana in the state.  Council’s legal advisor Ruban Cleaveland advised Council that there is no current law that prohibits local governments from taxing marijuana, but the passage of Measure 91 could restrict local governments from instituting taxes.  Cleaveland advised Council that many cities in Oregon are considering establishing taxes ahead of the possible passage of Measure 91.  Council approved the first reading of Ordinance 896 which taxes up to 20%, of  the gross receipts of sales of marijuana, medical marijuana and marijuana infused products.

Council Receives Quarterly Financial Report – City Finance Director Angie Handegard provided Council with a quarterly financial report.  Handegard reported that the city looks to be on track financially with several funds doing better than expected.

Council Amends Water Ordinance – Council adopted Ordinance 897, which amends Ordinance 895 to clarify the rules and regulations for the conduct and management of the Water Department.  City staff had requested this amendment because some the language and changes of policy in Ordinance 895 were not clear.  The amendment to Section 4  adds subsections 4.1 and 4.2  and explains how accounts considered “inactive”  or “Temporary Vacancy/Stand By” should be charged.   Read More

City Department Updates

Administration/Utility Billing 

• 4 new sewer/water accounts for the month of September and 2 new water/sewer service accounts for the week of the 6th of October.

• Pertaining to the Water/Sewer bills issued on September 27, (and that were due on October 10th) a Late Fee will be added (as per City policy) on Tuesday, October 14th. Subsequently, should the bills still remain outstanding, PW crew will proceed with Shut offs on October 22nd.

• A letter was sent out with the utility bills to residents that in the past have left town in the winter and have been charged a monthly fee of $5. The City Council adopted Ordinance 825 implementing new options for “snow birds.” The letter explained that the resident can either have their water turned off while they are away paying $35, and $35 to have it turned back on. Also, they can simply leave the water on and pay the regular base rate of $131.00.

• Staff is in the process of reviewing the Utilities (Water) Ordinance. Staff review is focusing on sections relevant to “Billing and Collection,” “Payment Arrangements” and “Temporary Vacancies.” Once the study is completed, recommendation for potential language change will be presented to City Council for review, discussion and adoption.

• Community Action Team has issued a new Columbia County Resource Guide. This reference book has been prepared to better acquaint Columbia County residents with available resources and services. Community Action Team’s programs include: Energy Services; Housing Solutions; Affordable Housing & Community Development; Housing Rehabilitation & Weatherization; Self-Help Housing; Senior Services; Veterans Services; Healthy Families; Head Start; Parenting Education & Support Services.  For any questions please call 503.397.3511 or visit the website at www.cat-team.org. Read More

City News

At the October 6, 2014 City Council Meeting:

Council Postpones Zone Change Hearing- Mayor Josette Mitchell announced to the audience that a scheduled Public Hearing to consider a request by Bud and Sharla Dow to change the zone designation of the Lincoln School parcel on Bridge Street was being postponed until October 20.

Topics From the Floor- Burdette Robb spoke against the proposed zone change for the Lincoln School property. He would like it to stay Residential.

Council Changes Sewer EDU’s- Council held a long discussion about a request from the Public Works Committee to return sewer Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU’s) to pre-Muni billing counts.  When the City installed the new Muni billing system, several accounts were unintentionally changed, causing the city to lose revenue each month.  The City has been gathering accurate data and intending to  establish policy to make larger changes to the billing rates in the future and has not adjusted the accounts that were inadvertently adjusted in the interest of only making changes one time.  Council voted to return two sewer account EDU’s to pre-Muni billing immediately.

Council Releases School District Funds- Council voted to release approximately $500,000 in funds to the Vernonia School District that were being  held in escrow pending the completion of Spencer Park.  There are several questions about documentation for changes to the original Intergovernmental Agreement that were agreed upon between the School District and City.  Council has received a letter from Dan Brown, who is responsible for assuring compliance for the project for Columbia County, stating their was no reason  not to release the funds. Council agreed that the District had met all their obligations and agreed to release the funds based on adequate documentation being located and agreement from the National Park Service that the District has met all their obligations.  Council voted 4-0 with Councilor Kim Tierney abstaining. Read More