The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, April 06, 2018, Page 7A, Image 7

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    7A
THE DAILY ASTORIAN • FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 2018
Water: Studies will
Diagnosis: ‘She loved that dog with her life’
outline millions of
dollars worth of work
Continued from Page 1A
Continued from Page 1A
vice from the last time the
four cells that purify water
through a slow sand filtration
process were cleaned and
had the sand replaced.
“We’re actually mak-
ing headway,” Harrington
said. “You just about have
to borrow money for capital
improvements. That’s pretty
standard across the board.
But borrowing money for
maintenance is something
you try to avoid and we’re
pretty much out of needing
to do that now.”
At the end of 2017, Har-
rington and his staff com-
piled a list of ongoing public
works projects. Under water
projects, they listed relatively
small updates. This summer,
the department expects to
complete a road bank sta-
bilization project on Pipe-
line Road to address a small
spot where the water pipe-
line diverges from the road
and goes into the woods and
passes a creek — another
minor project. The depart-
ment also plans to construct
an emergency overflow weir
for the Bear Creek Dam. The
dam has stood for over 100
years and has never over-
topped, as far as city records
show, but the weir is an extra
safety precaution for a very
large storm.
One of the bigger proj-
ects is a two-year process to
empty the city’s four water
purification cells one by one,
and replace the liners and
the sand used in the filtra-
tion system. Work on the first
cell is more or less complete.
The cost of the total project is
$1.4 million.
Resiliency
The city’s budget pro-
cess has just begun and Har-
rington isn’t sure yet what
if any change in water rates
might be on the horizon.
The City Council rejected
a staff recommendation last
year to increase water rates
for the outlying districts and
other users Astoria supplies.
Public works’ staff had rec-
ommended a jump from a
10 percent surcharge to a 25
percent surcharge over the
next three years, with a 5
percent increase that would
have gone into effect this
July. Harrington and Cindy
Moore, the assistant city
engineer, said the increase
would have addressed equity
issues, bringing outside rates
up to what other munici-
palities charge and sharing
maintenance costs across the
water customer base, as well
as put money toward the
construction of a clearwell
system. Though the clear-
well system would be on the
table even without the out-
of-town customers, Moore
noted it would provide stor-
age of treated water for those
consumers.
The City Council split on
the decision, with the major-
ity voting not to increase
rates until there was a clear
road map for what it would
mean to install a clearwell
system.
In years past, the city
believed a clearwell sys-
tem was more critical. There
wasn’t yet a fourth cell
for water purification and
Astoria’s population was
expected to grow. In this
vision of the future, the fish-
ing industry was booming.
Instead, Astoria didn’t grow
at the projected rate and
the fishing industry slowed
down.
All the breweries in the
city have yet to match the
kind of water consumption
fish processing facilities
required.
Still, the city believes
the system is an import-
ant addition to build resil-
iency
and
capacity.
Astoria is fortunate in that
it owns its entire watershed
— the Bear Creek water-
shed to the east — and water
is pulled from multiple
sources in that watershed,
city staff say. According to
the state, the primary source
of contamination in Asto-
ria’s drinking water is from
soil erosion.
The West Coast expe-
rienced drought in recent
years, but Astoria’s water
supply remained strong.
Astoria’s
water
usage
remains below the num-
ber of gallons filtration and
transmission systems can
handle, and a study found
Bear Creek Dam is not at
risk of seismic failure though
it is classified as a high haz-
ard because of its proxim-
ity to human populations
downstream.
Problems cleared
Water quality issues in
2016 tied to construction
of the Spur 14 water source
have been cleared up. The
city had notified custom-
ers of a violation of a fed-
eral drinking water standard
when the city used a higher
than normal amount of chlo-
rine to treat organic matter in
the Main Lake water, part of
the Bear Creek watershed.
An interaction between chlo-
rine and organic matter pro-
duced contaminants known
as disinfection byproducts.
The 2017 report indi-
cates these byproducts are
now well below the state’s
threshold.
privacy. But accounts from her
family and court filings show
the uncertainty over the exact
cause of Moor’s mental health
challenges.
Her case is an example of
the complexity of dealing with
mental health and addiction,
a web that can feel especially
hopeless in Clatsop County
and other rural communities
where treatment options are
limited.
“The worst part of this work
is to watch people become
more ill and to feel helpless
to do anything,” Amy Baker,
the executive director of Clat-
sop Behavioral Healthcare, the
county’s mental health con-
tractor, said in a statement.
“I understand completely the
frustrations families and cli-
ents experience, because we
often feel it too.
“We wait for opportunities
to insert ourselves and to help
individuals get back on track.
We also see miracles of growth
and recovery every day.”
‘Difficult to diagnose’
Ryan hoped her daughter
might be one of those miracles.
Eight-and-a-half years ago,
while in drug rehabilitation
in Astoria for heroin, Moor
left, threw a brick through a
downtown window, and wan-
dered around naked until she
was picked up by police, her
mother said. She spent sev-
eral months afterward in men-
tal hospitals.
But no similar episodes
surfaced over the past several
years. Moor, 28, is on disabil-
ity, her mother and fiance said,
and appeared to be taking pre-
scribed medications for bipolar
disorder and opioid cravings.
Bipolar disorder, accord-
ing to the National Institute
of Mental Health, can cause
unusual shifts in mood, energy
and the ability to carry out
daily tasks.
Last spring, her mother
said, Moor was taken off the
antipsychotic medication she
had been using in favor of
something else because of
weight gain. Her mother said
she noticed a small difference
in her behavior in September,
but was not concerned because
she thought her daughter was
keeping her appointments
with Clatsop Behavioral
Healthcare.
Over the past few months,
though, Ryan feared Moor
was unraveling. Her daugh-
ter showed extreme paranoia
that culminated in an attack on
Mitch Peak, her fiance, and her
placement in Cedar Hills.
As far as Ryan and Peak
knew, they said, Moor was not
abusing illegal drugs.
In a consultation report to
help the Circuit Court deter-
mine whether Moor was
able to aid and assist in her
defense on the felony animal
abuse charge, Clatsop Behav-
Facebook
Noel Moor with Bolt, her dog.
ioral Healthcare drew a starker
picture.
Moor, the report found, had
been unable to comply with
medications or abstain from
substances. She had also can-
celed or missed several therapy
sessions and medication-man-
agement appointments since
last summer.
“It is very difficult to diag-
nose and treat bipolar and psy-
chotic symptoms when sub-
stance use is occurring, as
origin of symptoms is diffi-
cult to determine,” the report
advised.
For her mother and fiance,
the most obvious, uncharacter-
istic thing about Moor’s behav-
ior was acting out against her
dog.
Bolt, a 7-year-old male
Chihuahua, was her compan-
ion and a star of her Facebook
page. “She loved that dog with
her life,” her mother said in an
email.
Moor thought an ex-boy-
friend was inside the dog, her
mother and fiance said. She
also told her fiance she thought
her ex-boyfriend was inside
him, too.
In mental health interviews
after her arrest, court filings
show, she was at times delu-
sional — “I’m God” — and
seemingly aware of what hap-
pened — “I feel horrible about
killing my dog.”
‘Imminent risk’
Citing privacy laws, Cedar
Hills said it could not disclose
any information about patients.
“We can share, however, that
it is the policy of Cedar Hills
Hospital to assess every patient
on the day of discharge to
ensure that they are safe to dis-
charge and that the discharge
disposition is appropriate for
that patient,” Libby Hutter, the
Portland hospital’s chief execu-
tive officer, said in an email.
Clatsop Behavioral Health-
care can place holds on
patients at Columbia Memo-
rial. But the mental health
agency — which came under
intense scrutiny after a woman
in crisis jumped off the Astoria
Bridge in 2015 — has tried to
clarify its role.
Baker said Clatsop Behav-
ioral Healthcare does not
decide when patients are
released from the hospital.
“We do not make decisions
about who is kept and who is
discharged from emergency
departments,” she said. “We
provide consultations to the
hospitals.”
Nicole Williams, the chief
operating officer at Colum-
bia Memorial, said in a state-
ment that “our hearts go out to
the people and families in our
community who are dealing
with mental health issues.” She
explained that when patients
arrive in the emergency room,
the hospital’s first responsibil-
ity is to treat any emergency
medical conditions. If a patient
is experiencing a possible
mental health crisis, the hos-
pital collaborates with Clat-
sop Behavioral Healthcare on
whether they are an imminent
danger to themselves or others.
“Patients may be held for
transfer to an inpatient mental
health facility only if they meet
strict federal and state criteria
for involuntary commitment
and have been deemed by the
courts to be at imminent risk,”
Williams said. “All patients
with mental health concerns
are released with a discharge
safety plan that includes fol-
low-up with a mental health
professional.”
The process can be exas-
perating for police officers,
who are often called to inter-
vene when people are in crisis,
and excruciating for families,
who often have no place else
to turn when their loved ones
are in trouble.
Peak, Moor’s fiance,
described a harrowing back-
and-forth with Warrenton
police, mental health and hos-
pital staff over Moor’s care
that involved several trips to
Columbia Memorial around
the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
After one last violent encoun-
ter with Moor at home, Peak
said he took all the knives and
his guns out of the house and,
with the help of police, pressed
mental health staff to place
Moor on a hold.
Anxious, Peak parked by
the Warrenton Mini Mart while
police located Moor on the
street and again brought her to
the hospital. When he got back
home, he said smelled some-
thing burning and found Bolt
inside the oven.
Moor was moved from the
hospital to the county jail the
next day.
Macon Benoit, Moor’s
attorney, asked the Circuit
Court to find Moor unable to
aid and assist in her defense
based primarily on Clatsop
Behavioral Healthcare’s con-
sultation report. Judge Paula
Brownhill ruled in late March
that Moor lacked the fitness to
proceed and committed her to
the Oregon State Hospital for
treatment and evaluation. A
court hearing on the status of
her capacity to stand trial is set
for May.
Ryan and Peak do not think
Moor was ready for discharge
from Cedar Hills to the crisis
respite center, which does not
have secure beds to prevent
her from walking out. They
believe there were enough
warning signs in the days
before Bolt’s death to keep her
at Columbia Memorial until a
mental health option could be
found.
“This was a clear case of
the system letting her down
when she went to them for
help,” Ryan said in an email.
“I let her down too. I should
have seen and or acted on the
signs sooner.”
Peak, a log truck driver,
said he researched mental
health since his relationship
with Moor so he could better
understand what she is going
through. He did what anyone
would do when they see some-
one they love in crisis. He tried
to get her help.
“She’s a sweetheart,” he
said. “She’s got a bigger heart
than anybody I know.”
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