The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, January 23, 2018, Page 5A, Image 5

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Balensifer: Newton
does not plan to
run against him
Continued from Page 1A
City Commissioner Rick
Newton has no plans to run
against him. Newton also vied
for the mayoral appointment
last spring but withdrew his
name from consideration after
it was clear it would lead to
a stalemate among commis-
sioners. He voted for Balen-
sifer instead.
“Henry’s got some great
ideas,” Newton said. “He’s
growing into the job. It’s
working. … At this point in
time, I don’t have any plans to
challenge him.”
Newton does plan to run
for his spot on the commis-
sion again.
Newton previously served
on the Urban Renewal Com-
mittee, but his election to the
City Commission in 2014
marked his first time in polit-
ical office.
Balensifer said he has been
fortunate to have a “highly
functional commission” to
help him as he found his foot-
ing in the new role. He is
excited to continue the work
the commission has begun.
He points to several major
plans that are moving forward,
including further develop-
ment of the Hammond Marina
and the beautification and
improvement of downtown.
The commission has yet to
set goals for the coming year,
but to Balensifer it seems
clear that many of the discus-
sions and decisions they face
relate to how to balance ongo-
ing commercial development
with a growing population
that is served by very small
city departments.
“I think that we need to
start taking another look at
everything we’re doing and
asking ourselves is this the
way we want to do it,” Balen-
sifer said. “And I think a lot of
that is already in motion.”
There are some things
the community had already
charted for the city’s future
growth but which were never
“When you talk to the folks
just moving in, that’s exactly
what they’re looking for,” he
said. “Most of these plans have
what they want. … I think peo-
ple can take assurance from
the fact that we’re dusting off
a lot of work the community
put together that may not have
been actively used.”
The other members of the
City Commission are Pam Ack-
ley, Tom Dyer and Mark Bald-
win. Baldwin was appointed
last year to fill the commission
seat Balensifer vacated when
he became mayor.
Debt: Hotel transfer isn’t set
to take place until November
Continued from Page 1A
“We’re looking at a way
to be able to be made whole
essentially, to include all the
fines and interests that are
owed the city,” City Manager
Brett Estes said.
In his filing, Hennings-
gaard claims that $139,195,
representing attorney fees
and other debts plus interest,
is subject to garnishment by
the city.
Param’s lawyer responded
that Smithart’s debt will not
become due until the Port
actually delivers possession
of the hotel. This transfer isn’t
set to take place until Novem-
ber and is not guaranteed.
The Port, which owns the
hotel, has appealed the court
judgment. If the Port asks for
a stay of the judgment until
the appeals process wraps up,
nothing would be due to Asto-
ria or others looking to collect
on past debts until that pro-
cess is resolved.
“It is also possible that
the Court of Appeals would
reverse or vacate the Circuit
Court’s judgment, in which
case no payment would be
due at all,” Param’s response
to Henningsgaard states.
Param argues that the judg-
ment against the Port obli-
gates the hotelier to pay Asto-
ria only $115,585, the amount
Smithart owed the city as of
July 2015 for water and sewer
charges and lodging taxes.
While the Smithart case
— with its tangled chain of
ownership and leases — is
an anomaly for the city, Asto-
ria has had trouble collect-
ing money owed by hote-
liers in the past. In response,
city leaders beefed up a city
ordinance and can now audit
lodging establishments that
fall behind on payments.
“I think at this point we’re
current with everybody except
the Smithart debt,” Estes said.
It is important that the city
collect what is owed, Hen-
ningsgaard emphasized. “It’s
not fair to allow one hotel to
collect (lodging tax money)
from its occupants and then
not pay it over to the city,” he
Smithart could not be
reached for comment.
In 2016, the Astoria City
Council pursued a judgment
against Smithart for nearly
$120,000 of debt. The city
had previously established a
payment plan with Smithart,
but he quickly fell behind on
the payments.
1 dead, 9 injured in Kentucky
school shooting; suspect held
Associated Press
BENTON, Ky. — Someone
with a gun opened fire inside
a rural Kentucky high school
Tuesday morning, killing one
person and injuring nine others.
Police said a suspect was appre-
hended and there is no reason to
suspect anyone else in the first
fatal school shooting of 2018.
Nearly 100 students ran
out of Marshall County High
School seeking safety, said
Mitchell Garland, who rushed
outside of his business when he
heard about the shooting.
“They was running and cry-
ing and screaming,” he said.
“They was just kids running
down the highway. They were
trying to get out of there.”
A half-dozen ambulances
and numerous police cars con-
verged on the school. Offi-
cers in black fatigues carrying
assault rifles showed up as well.
Federal authorities responded,
and Gov. Matt Bevin ran out
of the Capitol to rush to the
school. Parents left their cars
on both sides of an adjacent
road, desperately trying to find
their teenagers.
One victim died at the scene,
6 PM
ter, Darlene Lynn of Marshall
County Emergency Manage-
ment told WDRB-TV. Four
of them were flown about 120
miles (193 kilometers) to Nash-
ville, Tennessee’s Vanderbilt
University Medical Center,
spokeswoman Tavia Smith said.
This was the year’s first
fatal school shooting, 23 days
in to 2018, according to data
compiled by the Gun Violence
Archive, which relies on media
reports and other information.
“It is unbelievable that this
would happen in a small, close-
knit community like Marshall
County. As there is still much
Senators strike a deal reopening government
Associated Press
ident Donald Trump signed a
bill reopening the government
late Monday, ending a 69-hour
display of partisan dysfunc-
tion after Democrats reluc-
tantly voted to temporarily pay
for resumed operations. They
relented in return for Republi-
can assurances that the Senate
will soon take up the plight of
young immigrant “dreamers”
and other contentious issues.
The vote set the stage for
hundreds of thousands of fed-
eral workers to return on Tues-
day, cutting short what could
have become a messy and
costly impasse. The House
approved the measure shortly
thereafter, and President Don-
ald Trump later signed it
behind closed doors at the
White House.
But by relenting, the Dem-
ocrats prompted a backlash
from immigration activists
and liberal base supporters
who wanted them to fight lon-
ger and harder for legislation
to protect from deportation the
700,000 or so younger immi-
grants who were brought to
the country as children and
now are here illegally.
onboard after two days of
negotiations that ended with
new assurances from Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McCo-
nnell that the Senate would
consider immigration propos-
als in the coming weeks. But
there were deep divides in
the Democratic caucus over
strategy, as red-state lawmak-
ers fighting for their survival
broke with progressives look-
ing to satisfy liberals’ and
immigrants’ demands.
Tsunami: Quake was felt hundreds of miles away
Continued from Page 1A
have caused an ocean-cross-
ing tsunami, some local resi-
dents sought shelter at Hilltop
School in Ilwaco. Authorities
opened some forest gates —
for example the access road to
the rock quarry above Chinook
— to allow motorists access.
A witness described a line of
vehicles eastbound on U.S.
Highway 101 leading away
from the coast in the hours the
alert was in effect.
The first of four automated
calls from Pacific County’s
reverse 911 system went out
around 1:50 a.m. It advised
coastal residents of a tsunami
watch from 1:35 a.m. to 2:35
a.m. It suggested they check
the National Weather Ser-
vice or local media for more
a person is in custody and the
Kentucky State Police have
no reason to suspect anyone
else, Trooper Jody Cash told
the Murray Ledger & Times.
Authorities released no imme-
diate details on the shooter or
Nine people were injured in
the gunfire, which happened in
a common area before classes
began, according to Brian Roy,
the county’s former sheriff,
who told the Louisville Couri-
er-Journal he had spoken with
people at the scene.
Seven victims were taken
to hospitals, some by helicop-
The alert also listed a local
phone number to call for more
information. The message was
repeated when people called to
learn more.
The Pacific County Emer-
gency Management Agency
sent its first news release to
the local media at 4:38 a.m. It
wasn’t about the tsunami warn-
ings, though. They’d been can-
celed 20 minutes earlier. It was
about a high-wind warning from
later in the day, from 1 to 7 p.m.
When the Chinook Observer
asked in an email why no infor-
mation was sent to report-
ers when the emergency calls
were directing people to check
local news for tsunami watch
updates, County Emergency
Management Director Scott
McDougall said he’d identified
some “issues with the calls that
will ensure a bit better notifica-
tion next time around.”
The Alaska earthquake was
a type that usually produces less
vertical motion, which means
less chance for waves to build
for a tsunami.
That’s according to Paul
Earle, a seismologist with the
U.S. Geological Survey.
He says the earthquake was
within the Pacific plate and
was a so-called “strike-slip
That’s the type when one side
of the fault slides past another
fault, like the San Andreas fault
in California.
In the Alaska earthquake,
Earle says one side went more
to the east and one side went
more to the west.
He says that’s somewhat
Ryan Hermens/The Paducah Sun
Emergency crews respond to Marshall County High
School after a fatal school shooting Tuesday in Benton, Ky.
unknown, I encourage people to
love each other,” Bevin said in a
Marshall County High
School is about 30 minutes
from Heath High School in
Paducah, Kentucky, where a
1997 mass shooting killed three
and injured five. Michael Car-
neal, then 14, opened fire there
about two years before the
fatal attack at Columbine High
School in Colorado, ushering in
an era when mass school shoot-
ings have become much more
Meanwhile, in the small
North Texas town of Italy, a
15-year-old girl was recovering
Tuesday after police said she
was shot by a 16-year-old class-
mate in her high school cafete-
ria on Monday, sending doz-
ens of students scrambling for
The scene of Tuesday’s
shooting was chaotic, with
parents and students rushing
around trying to find each other,
said Dusty Kornbacher, who
owns a nearby floral shop.
“All the parking lots were
full with parents and kids hug-
ging each other and crying and
nobody really knowing what
was going on,” Kornbacher
unusual because quakes in the
area are usually thrust earth-
quakes where one side goes
underneath the other.
He says those are the type
that cause more vertical motion
and increase the chance for a
The Alaska quake was the
planet’s strongest since an 8.2 in
Mexico in September.
For Alaskans accustomed
not only to tsunami threats but
also to regular drills, the early
morning alert that made cell-
phone alarms go off still cre-
ated some fretful moments. The
phone message read: “Emer-
gency Alert. Tsunami danger on
the coast. Go to high ground or
move inland.”
The Daily Astorian and the
Chinook Observer contributed
to this report.
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