The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, September 02, 2015, Image 1

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get shut out
Seaside Fall
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PAGES 10A & 11A
143rd YEAR, No. 46
Port seals short-term deal on inn
Former Astorians emerge in latest
twist in Riverwalk Inn negotiations
The Daily Astorian
The Port of Astoria Com-
mission voted Tuesday night
to have Astoria Hospitality
Ventures, represented by Wil-
liam Orr and Chester Trabuc-
co, take over short-term oper-
ation of the Astoria Riverwalk
Orr is a Seattle business-
man and lawyer from Astoria.
Trabucco b ought and ¿ [ed
up the Hotel Elliott, before
selling it amid foreclosure to
a business partner. He also
owns 1os. and Si[th St.,
where a large commercial wa-
terfront building of his burned
down several years ago.
It is unclear what short-
term means in the hotel’s op-
eration. While Astoria Hospi-
tality Ventures steps in, Port
staff will develop an open
bidding process for the long-
term operation.
It is also unclear how the
Port plans to recover the debts
owed by Brad Smithart, op-
erator of the Riverwalk Inn
through his company Hos-
pitality Masters since March
2012. Orr had set aside
$350,000 in escrow account
to satisfy the debts, but later
withdrew the funds when it
appeared the Port would go
with another operator.
The Port estimates Smi-
thart owes the Port upward
of $400,000 in rent and rev-
enue-sharing, along with ap-
pro[imately $100,000 owed
to the city and $16,000 in
delinquent water bills. The
Port’s lawyer, Robert Koury,
said the state is also seeking
$120,000 from Smithart for
failure to pay worker’s com-
pensation. Smithart also has
ta[ liens.
Smithart, at the meeting
Tuesday, said he paid the
water bills and brought his
bill with the city down to
Joshua Bessex/The Daily Astorian
See PORT, Page 12A
Chester Trabucco speaks during an August Port meeting.
Magistrate had
found in favor
of Army Corps
The Daily Astorian
Cheryl Hoefler/The Eagle
The sun is nearly blocked and the covered wagon east of Prairie City silhouetted as dark smoke from the Canyon Creek Complex fire
across the valley fills the late afternoon sky on Aug. 26. Prairie City went under attack itself over the weekend.
µYou could feel the heat of the ¿ re and smell the smoke’
Blue Mountain Eagle
watching a raging wild¿ re
consume their neighbors’
properties to the south and west of
them for two weeks, Prairie City
residents e[perienced their own tri-
al by ¿ re last weekend.
It took only a switch in wind
direction for the ¿ re to turn onto
the ridge just above the town,
the À ames so brilliant against the
night sky that the buildings below
glowed in the ¿ ery light.
Streets ¿ lled with smoke. Sirens
scared residents out of bed. Half
the town received orders to evacu-
ate immediately; the other half was
told to prepare for evacuation any
In the smoky haze, headlights
appeared as a convoy of trucks
and cars, ¿ lled with prized posses-
sions and random household goods
quickly thrown into trunks, began
moving west, down the highway.
Meanwhile, hundreds of ¿ re-
Sean Ellis/The Eagle
An information board was set up to update residents and the media
during the evacuation in Prairie City Saturday.
¿ ghters headed east toward the ¿ re.
The ¿ ght to save Prairie City
was on. Here is that story, hour by
Friday, Aug. 28
5:30 p.m.: During a community
brie¿ ng in Prairie City, ¿ re of¿ cials
alert residents about the incoming
high winds and the potential for the
¿ re to change direction.
Saturday, Aug. 29
2:30 a.m.: Winds begin to pick
up, fanning the Canyon Creek
Comple[ ¿ re.
Prairie City Fire Chief Marvin
Rynearson is in bed when he hears
the wind.
“The hair stood up on the back
of my neck,” he said.
He spends the ne[t few hours
on his porch, watching. Concerned
residents and ¿ re¿ ghters on the
front line update him on the ¿ re’s
4:42 a.m.: The operations sec-
tion chief of the Great Basin Inci-
dent Management Team is noti¿ ed
by the night operations division
supervisor that ¿ re activity has
increased signi¿ cantly due to the
high winds. The message goes up
the chain of command quickly.
Resources are reassigned from
other parts of the ¿ re and begin
shifting toward Prairie City.
That includes 11 dozers, two
skidgens, multiple water tenders,
supervisors and medics. Three
hotshot crews and si[ hand crews
from adjacent divisions are shifted
See FIRE, Page 12A
In an emergency, look for the yellow signs
Goal is quicker
emergency responses
EO Media Group
bright yellow sign stands in front
of homes on Chapman Beach The
sign is part of an Oregon Parks and
Recreation Department beach safety
project, meant to speed emergency
response. The signs are new to Sgt.
Matt Phillips, Search and Rescue
coordinator for the Clatsop County
Sheriff’s Office.
But he’s no stranger to the guess-
ing game.
“I do know from e[perience that
people, especially from out of the
area, have a hard time relaying infor-
mation to responders,” Phillips said.
The state’s Park and Recreation
Courtesy of Oregon State Parks
Oregon State Parks is installing numbered signs along the length of the Oregon
Coast to help beach visitors tell emergency responders where to send help.
Department began installing the
signs at state, federal and county
beach access points from the Colum-
bia River jetty to Crissey Field at the
California border in 2008. The first
was placed in Lincoln City and Dev-
il’s Lake. The signs are designed to
A federal judge in Portland has
accepted a magistrate’s ¿ ndings
that Oregon LNG waited too long
to contest an Army Corps of Engi-
neers easement on land in Warrenton
where the energy company hopes to
build an e[port terminal.
U.S. District Judge Anna Brown
on Monday adopted Magistrate
Judge John Acosta’s ¿ ndings and
granted the Army Corps’ motion to
dismiss Oregon LNG’s legal chal-
Oregon LNG could choose to ap-
Jonathan Radmacher, a Portland
attorney for the energy company,
said the company has ¿ led a motion
to amend the complaint against the
Army Corps but does not otherwise
comment on litigation matters.
Ammunition for opponents
Opponents of the $6 billion ter-
minal and pipeline will use the fed-
eral court’s ruling to strengthen their
arguments at a hearing Wednesday
evening in Warrenton on develop-
ment permits for the project.
The city’s planning staff will
recommend approval of the project
with public works- and traf¿ c- re-
lated conditions, but opponents will
argue, among other points, that Or-
egon LNG does not have full access
to the proposed terminal site on the
Skipanon Peninsula because of the
Army Corps easement.
“The city should deny the Ore-
gon LNG project because Oregon
LNG simply doesn’t have autho-
rization from the Corps to use the
area for an LNG terminal,” Dan
Serres, the conservation director of
Columbia Riverkeeper, a Hood Riv-
er-based environmental group, said
in an email. “The Corps holds a sig-
ni¿ cant property right — a dredge
disposal easement — on the east
Skipanon Peninsula, and a federal
judge threw out Oregon LNG’s at-
tempt to void the Corps’ valid prop-
erty right.
“According to Warrenton’s code,
Oregon LNG shouldn’t even be
able to make this land use applica-
tion without authorization from the
“It’s like proposing a home in the
middle of a city street,” Serres said.
“It just doesn’t make sense, particu-
larly when a federal judge just issued
an order dismissing Oregon LNG’s
Contested claims
be easily seen by beachgoers in emer-
gencies, so they can relay the num-
ber to 911 dispatchers who will have
the GPS coordinates needed to direct
first responders.
Oregon LNG wants to build the
terminal and an 87-mile pipeline
to a natural gas line in Washington
See SIGNS, Page 5A
See LNG, Page 12A