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About Vernonia's voice. (Vernonia, OR) 2007-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 2008)
At the November 27 City Council Meeting:
At the December 17 City Council Meeting:
Waste Water and Storm Water Assessment Completed
Works regular committee meeting on November 27, the committee heard a report from Dale
Merrill, a civil engineer with Land Design Group. Mr. Merrill reported on the state of the city’s
Waste and Storm Water systems, a study Merrill had agreed to do free of charge for the city,
and on which he spent almost forty hours of time.
City Administrator Kline Recommends Changes to
Citing the recent floods and the expected financial impact
the recovery process will entail, current City Administra-
tor Dick Kline recommended that City Council approve a
plan to combine the salary of the City Administrator and
the funds paid to contracted City Planner Aldie Howard,
and split the amount between the two. Under this plan
Mr. Howard would assume the role as interim City Ad-
ministrator and handle Flood Recovery, while Mr. Kline
would concentrate on financial issues and Public Works.
Both Howard and Kline would become contract employ-
ees, meaning Kline will give up his city benefits pack-
age. Kline stated, ”This city is in a financial crisis, and
needs to spend its money on flood recovery. This is the
right thing to do.” Councilor Randy Parrow requested an
emergency session to allow all Councilors to be present
to discuss and decide the issue. Council later approved
these changes at that Emergency meeting.
Merrill’s report did not offer much good news for the city, but did offer a number of sugges-
tions to help right the situation. Merrill also offered encouragement that the city’s issues were
not insurmountable, and also not unusual. “Vernonia is not the only city with utility problems,”
Merrill noted that the city is without master plans for its waste water and storm water systems.
He also noted the lack of rate studies. He laid out a plan for establishing operational costs,
and some suggested steps to help the city gain a more comprehensive understanding of its
Merrill recommended the following action steps:
• Contact DEQ to ask for additional considerations given the cities circumstances
• Complete a comprehensive rate study of the city waste water system
• Develop master plans for both the waste water and storm water systems
Merrill also offered the following suggestions:
• Don’t do any thing else with the waste water system until the above action steps are
• Upgrade the current water master plan that the city already has, to include water
• Begin collecting a depreciation account in a reserve fund to make future needed
upgrades and major repairs
• Develop and implement a maintenance management plan
• Try to spread out the debt load, it is currently too heavy
Merrill explained that each of the rate studies could expect to take at least six months. He also
offered that the city may want to consider selling the water utilities to a private company.
“This is not a problem that has developed overnight,” explained Merrill. “The city of Vernonia
has gotten into this over the last twenty-five years. The city has not paid attention to the way
it has operated these utilities.”
No Decision Made on Remote Control Planes at Airport
City Council tabled a vote on allowing remote control
airplanes at the Vernonia Municipal Airport. Councilor
Randy Parrow suggested waiting due to the absence of
Councilor Steve Whiteman, who is the council liaison to
the Airport Committee.
Changes Made to Office Staff Job Descriptions
City Council approved changes to the job description for
the Administrative and Financial Services Assistant, add-
ing the title and duties of Human Resources Coordinator.
According to City Administrator M.R, “Dick” Kline, the
move is intended to provide for a team of cross-trained,
multi-tasking employees, and also provide for human re-
source functions to be assigned to an employee in con-
Is There A Doctor A Message From Vernonia Mayor Sally Harrison
In The House?
Why yes, there most certainly is a doctor
in the house – a doctor and a top-notch
The City of Vernonia would like to send a
special thank you to Dr. Phyllis Gilmore
and her staff at Providence Medical
Center. Dr. Gilmore has been Vernonia’s
medical doctor since 2004 and has al-
ways given “her all” to this community.
The hours and days following the flood
were no exception. Dr. Gilmore lost no
time setting up temporary medical ser-
vices at the Fire Station, remaining open
from morning to night throughout the
weekend flowing the flood; then estab-
lishing much needed MASH tents on
clinic property in Vernonia. And in just
two weeks time – Dr. Gilmore and staff
are back in business in their reconstruct-
ed offices on Bridge Street.
Well, here we are again, dear friends and neighbors. What can I possibly say that you haven’t already heard or
thought? An awful mess! Who would have ever thought this would happen again so soon. Wasn’t it supposed to be
a 100 year flood in ’96? Well, believe me, we won’t believe the hype and we aren’t going to grow complacent again.
When thinking of what can be done, some of the solution words I’ve heard are: raising, moving, diking, dredging, fun-
neling, and damming. Not very technical terminology but words I can understand.
The next step is to get the experts, engineers, hydrologists, geologists, etc. who can come up with the plans that will
bring about the multi-layered solutions we need.
Here is where your elected officials local, county, state and national will help us. We need funding for the planning and
the implementation. We need solutions that will pass the test of time. We won’t forget what has happened.
Your council is hard at work restructuring City Hall. This is the time to have the expertise we need in the best positions
so we get the most efficiency from our limited funds.
Ideas are being brought forward for evaluation. Hopefully this next six months will be innovative, creative and pro-
I promise to keep you posted on the progress on both fronts. Keep the
faith. We are a community of the finest, most resilient folks in the world.
‘Til next time,
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