The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, July 07, 2015, Image 3

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    NORTH COAST
THE DAILY ASTORIAN • TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2015
3A
Astoria may create homeless task force
City Council also approves sewer and water rate hikes, settlement on Emerald Heights
By DERRICK DePLEDGE
The Daily Astorian
Troubled by an increasingly vis-
ible homeless population, the As-
toria City Council Monday night
asked Mayor Arline LaMear to con-
sider a task force to look at potential
solutions.
Even though social services are
mostly county, state and federal re-
sponsibilities, City Councilor Cin-
dy Price said the city should have
a role in the discussion on issues
such as homelessness, mental health
treatment and affordable housing.
Police Chief Brad Johnston said
police are limited to enforcing be-
havioral issues tied to homeless-
ness, such a public urination and
trespassing, since begging is not
against the law and is protected in
Oregon as free speech.
The police chief said a task force
could include law enforcement,
health and social service providers
and the faith-based community.
But City Councilors Zetty Nem-
lowill and Russ Warr questioned
whether the city has the resources
or capability to tackle social issues.
“I don’t see how we’re supposed
to take this on,” Nemlowill said.
Warr supported looking into
strategies to address homelessness
or panhandling but thought Price’s
idea was too broad. He said the
“City Council can’t be all things to
all people.”
Price said the city should be part
of the conversation.
“I think we need to address our
gritty as much as we address our
pretty,” she said, “because we are
both.”
The City Council voted 4-0 to
ask LaMear to come back with a
task force proposal. Nemlowill,
who said she was not ready to make
a decision Monday night, abstained.
In other action Monday, the City
Council:
• Approved 2 percent increases
to water and sewer rates and a 5 per-
cent increase in the surcharge used
to help ¿nance a $40 million to $50
sewer improvement project.
The rate hikes are part of the
city’s budget for this ¿scal year.
Consumers can expect to pay a
combined $4.65 more on average
monthly residential bills, or $9.30
in bimonthly payments.
The sewer improvement project
is reducing wastewater Àows into
the Columbia River after heavy
rains so the city can meet the re-
quirements of the federal Clean Wa-
ter Act.
“It’s always troubling to make
Astoria more expensive to live in,
and yet we have to pay for the sew-
er overÀow project and that sort of
thing,” said City Councilor Drew
Herzig. “So it’s unfortunate but this
has been predicted every year in the
budget.”
• Backed a settlement agreement
with Emerald Heights Apartments
to end a legal dispute over billing
for water and sewer.
The agreement will treat Emerald
Heights like other multi-residential
apartment complexes, which will
Trial set in attempted Seaside murder case
Hammer attack sent
man to hospital
By KYLE SPURR
The Daily Astorian
One of the two men accused of at-
tempted murder for allegedly assaulting
another man with a hammer in February
is set for trial this fall.
Judge Philip Nelson set a two-to-three
day trial to begin Oct. 6 in Clatsop Coun-
ty Circuit Court for Kevin Michael Burn-
ham, 25, of Seaside.
Burnham is accused of attempted
murder, two counts of ¿rst-degree rob-
bery, two counts of criminal conspira-
cy, ¿rst-degree assault, two counts of
third-degree assault and second-degree
theft.
Joshua Lee Fitch, 23, of Longview,
Wash., is accused of the same charges.
The robbery and theft charges relate
to Burnham and Fitch reportedly stealing
the victim’s backpack.
At the hearing Monday, Burnham
was originally scheduled to accept a plea
deal. However, his defense attorney Rock
Pizzo submitted a request three hours be-
fore the hearing to postpone the deal and
set a trial date.
“I don’t want to lose that offer, but we
are trying to get a better offer than that,”
Pizzo said. “At this
point, we are asking
for trial.”
Prosecutor
Dawn Buzzard said
she will not budge
from her offer of 70
months — or nearly
six years — in pris-
on for pleading to a
lesser charge of sec-
Kevin
ond-degree robbery.
Michael Burnham
Judge Nelson
is giving Burnham
two weeks to consider the offer before
proceeding to trial.
On Feb. 20, Seaside Police respond-
ed to Providence Seaside Hospital after
receiving a report of a man who had suf-
fered a serious head injury.
The man reported being assaulted
with hammers by two other men, later
identi¿ed as Burnham and Fitch. The
victim was transported to a Portland-area
hospital, and later released.
Fitch and Burnham were arrested Feb.
27 in Seaside after a weeklong investiga-
tion, according to Seaside Police.
Both men were out on conditional
release for previous crimes when they
allegedly committed the attempted mur-
der, according to the District Attorney’s
Of¿ce.
Fitch was arrested Feb. 3 for unlawful
manufacturing of marijuana within 1,000
feet of a school, possession of metham-
phetamine and two counts of child en-
dangerment.
Burnham was arrested Feb. 8 for
possession of methamphetamine and
¿rst-degree criminal trespass after Sea-
side Police found him squatting in a Sea-
side residence.
Burnham is scheduled to be sentenced
for the drug possession case on Aug. 6.
For the attempted murder case, Buz-
zard said, she is still deciding if she wants
to consolidate Burnham and Fitch as
co-defendants. Currently, Fitch is sched-
uled for a ¿nal resolution conference on
July 31, usually the last hearing before a
settlement or trial.
“I have to decide if I will do a mo-
tion to consolidate. Normally that makes
sense, but there is case law that says I
can’t introduce evidence Mr. Fitch said
(about Burnham),” Buzzard said. “That
would be the reason not to because we
wouldn’t be able to get in all of their
statements.”
Burnham, who appeared via video
link Monday from Clatsop County Jail,
is being held in custody on $250,000
bail.
Fitch, who is represented by defense
lawyer James von Boeckmann, is also
being held in custody on $250,000 bail
for the attempted murder case.
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By R.J. MARX
The Daily Astorian
GEARHART — Despite
the failure of a $3.75 million
bond in 2006 to build a new
¿re station, the Gearhart City
Council took fresh steps to-
ward the old station’s replace-
ment.
At a meeting Wednesday,
councilors said they hope to
involve a wider range of voic-
es in the discussion from the
start.
“I’m wondering if it should
be a broader base to begin
with,” City Councilor Sue Lo-
rain said. “I think go big, with
lots of input, then go from
there.”
In March, replacing or ren-
ovating the ¿re station was
enumerated as the council’s
top 2015 goal. Other goals
included investigating sys-
tem development charges, re-
vamping the city website and
updating the city’s compre-
hensive plan.
When the community vot-
ed in 2006 on a $3.75 million
general obligation bond mea-
sure to address the problem,
the proposal included plans
for a high-end building to
house the police department,
City Hall and ¿re station.
“Several years ago there
was a bond issue put together
by the Fire Department with
no citizen input at all,” City
Manager Chad Sweet said.
“To a lot of people it seemed
to be extremely expensive
with a lot of bells and whistles
that may not have been neces-
sary.”
Sweet is a 17-year Gearhart
¿re¿ghter and currently serves
as a lieutenant with the depart-
ment. “The decrepit building
is the No. 1 concern,” he said.
“How do we take care of the
community in the event of a
calamity when a building falls
on top of our ¿re trucks" It’s
naturally an emergency center,
but it’s woefully inadequate
for that.”
“This isn’t a new issue,”
Gearhart resident and former
planning commission member
Jay Speakman said. “There
was an effort to actually ap-
prove a new station. It went to
a vote, and it failed. There was
a lot of bad publicity about it
at the time, about overreach,
excess taxation and so forth.
So we missed an opportunity
to do it in the past, but it has
been tried.”
Despite the plan’s rejection
in 2006, councilors unani-
mously agreed that the ¿re sta-
tion needs a second look.
“I see no reason not to
talk,” Councilor Daniel Jesse
said.
According to Sweet, the
difference between this pro-
cess and the 2006 bond is
the impetus coming from the
City Council rather than the
¿re department. “The coun-
cilors know the condition of
that building,” he said. “They
know that it is a hollow brick
building that will collapse in
an earthquake.”
A broad-based committee,
including councilors, ¿remen,
business leaders and the gen-
eral public “is a way for peo-
ple to get together,” Sweet
said.
Mayor Dianne Widdop
asked the council for volun-
teers to head a committee to
discuss options for a new ¿re
station or renovations to the ex-
isting structure.
“This is not necessarily only
for people who think it’s a great
idea,” Widdop said. “We would
like some people who think it’s
the worst thing they’ve ever
heard, and want to go through
it with us. Give us that opinion
too. That’s ¿ne.”
lead to a reduction in rates. The bill-
ing formula the city and the apart-
ment owner had agreed to years
ago eventually led to a federal
civil rights lawsuit.
The city had prevailed in
U.S. District Court, but Emerald
Heights appealed to the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The thought was, at the time,
it was giving them a break,” City
Attorney Blair Henningsgaard
said of the old billing formula.
“As it turns out, when the math
is done, it was actually charging
them slightly more than other us-
ers.
“Since that wasn’t the intent
of the city in the first place, we
agreed to bill them the way we bill
everybody else.”
Man sentenced to
¿Ye years Ior assaXlt
with a beer bottle
By KYLE SPURR
The Daily Astorian
A man was sentenced
last week in Clatsop
County Circuit Court to
five years in prison for
assaulting another man
with a beer bottle at a
Seaside bar in Decem-
ber.
Jeremy
Michael
Haws, 37, was original-
ly charged with first-de-
gree assault. He accept-
ed a plea deal last month
and pleaded no contest
to a lesser charge of at-
tempted first-degree as-
sault.
At a sentencing hear-
ing last week, Judge
Paula Brownhill sen-
tenced Haws to 60
months, or five years, in
prison.
Haws was at the
Twisted Fish Steak-
house in Seaside Dec.
29 when he smashed a
glass beer bottle into the
face of the other man.
The victim suffered se-
rious cuts to his face.
“He really cut up his
face, really split his lip
open,” Prosecutor Dawn
Buzzard said. “There
were cuts above his
eyes and on the side of
his face.”
As part of his sen-
tence, Haws is re-
quired to pay a $2,400
compensatory fine and
$3,126 in restitution
to the victim. Buzzard
said the fines will help
cover the victim’s med-
ical bills and lost wages
from missing work for
two months.
The victim has healed
well since the incident,
she said.
Haws offered a brief
apology at the sentenc-
ing hearing last week
saying he was sorry.
According to his
criminal record, Haws
was previously con-
victed of attempted sec-
ond-degree assault in
Multnomah County in
2000.
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Across from McDonalds in Seaside