The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, June 05, 2021, WEEKEND EDITION, Page 6, Image 6

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Nicole Bales/The Astorian
The Cannon Beach public works director co-owns the
company that produced signs for the city during the
coronavirus pandemic.
Probe: Investigation into
the complaint is ongoing
Continued from Page A1
While La Bonte had
provided verbal notices of
a confl ict of interest in the
past, she does not seem to
have properly notifi ed the
necessary people about a
confl ict of interest in writ-
ing, the investigator noted.
The investigator said it
does not appear La Bonte
used her position to bene-
fi t fi nancially.
An investigation into
the complaint is ongoing .
The complaint alleges
La Bonte bypassed state
provisions to hire Cannon
Beach Design Co. to pro-
duce and install signs at
the start of the coronavirus
pandemic last year.
In a preliminary review ,
the state investigator
wrote that — according to
information provided by
St. Denis and La Bonte —
St. Denis told La Bonte to
order the signs from Can-
non Beach Design Co. so
they could be available
“I did not authorize
this work; the city man-
ager did,” La Bonte wrote
in an explanation to the
state. “I did not sign any
invoices for this work; the
city manager did. I sim-
ply gathered details that
allowed the city man-
ager to make an informed
The complaint referred
to two separate times when
the city used the company.
In the spring of 2020 ,
large signs went up at
city entrances stating that,
“Due to COVID-19 Can-
non Beach is closed to vis-
itors.” City leadership felt
the signs were necessary
after an infl ux of visitors
descended on the town
despite rising concerns
about the coronavirus and
a stay-at-home order from
Gov. Kate Brown.
Another round of signs
featuring animals wearing
face masks went up later
to remind people to wear
protective face coverings.
The total cost of the
signs came to $2,677.50.
In the state’s prelimi-
nary review of the com-
plaint, La Bonte wrote that
she made “every eff ort to
follow the city’s process
for keeping my relation-
ship with this vendor sep-
arate from the work I per-
sonally authorize. I feel I
was able to do that, even
while under the pressure
of a time crunch and a
national pandemic.”
Rusty Morris, a Manza-
nita resident who fi led the
complaint with the Eth-
ics Commission, has also
urged St. Denis and the
City Council to investigate
the contracts for the signs.
He said La Bonte should
be placed on administra-
tive leave pending the
“The taxpayers and this
community deserve an
explanation,” he wrote in
an email to the city.
The Ethics Commis-
sion confi rmed that a sec-
ond complaint has been
fi led against La Bonte, but
could not provide details
until a preliminary review
is complete.
St. Denis told the City
Council the second com-
plaint is tied to concerns
raised by an employee in
2018 about how La Bonte
disposed of wood fence
The posts had been
stored in the city’s waste-
water yard for two to three
years. The posts were not
usable under the city’s
fencing standards and
deemed surplus, St. Denis
La Bonte contacted
Fort Stevens State Park
to see if they wanted the
posts, according to St.
Denis. When the state park
declined, she off ered them
to three local contractors
and a handyman who does
work for the city. A con-
tractor who was doing
work on her home took
the posts.
The people behind the
complaints disagree with
St. Denis’ characteriza-
tion. Citing invoices, they
say the fencing cost more
than St. Denis claims and
should not have been con-
sidered surplus material
under the city’s code.
Settlement: State
now oversees the
contract with Clatsop
Behavioral Healthcare
Continued from Page A1
characterized the investi-
gations as biased and pro-
cedurally fl awed.
The Astorian reported
in 2019 that investigations
into abuse and neglect at
adult foster homes on the
North Coast uncovered
a lack of oversight in the
county’s developmental
disability program.
At the time, the county
was responsible for over-
seeing a contract with Clat-
sop Behavioral Health-
care, a private nonprofi t, to
coordinate with providers
and help people with intel-
lectual and developmen-
tal disabilities like autism,
cerebral palsy, Down syn-
drome and epilepsy.
Using the state’s public
records law, the newspaper
obtained documents that
showed the state’s concern
over management of the
program and how the state
nearly pulled the contract
in 2018 unless changes
were made.
Many of the issues sur-
rounding the lack of over-
sight stemmed from the
state investigations into
KC Care.
A few months after the
state’s concerns became
public, the county Board
of Commissioners voted
unanimously to shift over-
sight of the developmental
disability program entirely
to the Department of
Human Services. The state
now oversees the contract
with Clatsop Behavioral
R.J. Marx/The Astorian
A commercial building in Seaside sits on one of the sites hotelier Masudur Khan aims to build apartments.
Hotelier: Hopes to start the projects in
September and complete them within a year
Continued from Page A1
River Run, Khan’s second
proposed apartment develop-
ment on S. Holladay Drive,
would be located between
Riley’s Restaurant and the Red
Lion Inn & Suites. The pro-
posed 59-unit development
will replace existing commer-
cial and residential buildings
with three separate apartment
buildings and one building
dedicated to offi ce space, a
lobby and housekeeping.
River Run is “a beautiful
location for an apartment,”
Khan said, sitting oppo-
site the Necanicum River
and close to downtown and
Building A will face the
water and will be a three-
story building with nine
two-bedroom apartments on
each fl oor for a total of 27
Building B, along the
south property line, will
be three stories, with eight
two-bedroom apartments on
each fl oor for a total of 24
A mixed-use building
will be three stories with
two 1,200-square-foot offi ce
spaces on the ground fl oor.
The second and third fl oors
will provide four one-bed-
room apartments on each
fl oor for a total of eight
Seaside resident Pat-
rick Roshay said notice for
the meeting had come late.
He said that the Necanicum
River could be damaged or
wildlife threatened from
the proposed development .
Emergency vehicles would
have limited access to the
area. “It’s a safety concern,”
he said. “In the plans them-
selves, there isn’t a lot of
wiggle room.”
Scott Alderson, who
lives in Sandpiper Village,
echoed those concerns. “I
don’t think fi re trucks are
really great at 90 degree
turns, which means we no
longer have fi re protection,”
he said.
He also expressed con-
cerns about noise and traffi c.
Planning commission-
ers unanimously approved
both applications, setting
conditions that the devel-
oper address parking spaces,
exterior lighting, drainage
and other issues.
Khan said he hopes to
start the projects in Sep-
tember and complete them
within a year.
With two developments
and the recent purchase of
a single-family home, Khan
has shown his confi dence
in the future of S. Holladay
Drive. “I like the river,” he
said. “I’ve always been a
water guy.”
Vaccines: ‘It’s time for individual responsibility’
Continued from Page A1
challenged Brown over
the policy, including s tate
House Republicans. They
argue that the rule violates
privacy and personal choice.
Warrenton Mayor Henry
Balensifer has also been
publicly critical of the
Kujala, the board’s chair-
man, shared the county’s let-
ter in a Facebook post saying
the board stands in solidar-
ity with businesses in Clat-
sop County.
“They don’t need to be
the vaccine police, it’s time
for some individual respon-
sibility,” Kujala said.
Commissioner Courtney
Bangs shared a similar senti-
ment with constituents.
“I am so proud of my fel-
low commissioners and I
for standing up for our busi-
nesses and churches in our
community,” Bangs wrote in
a Facebook post. “No busi-
ness or church should ever
have to be put in a potentially
confrontational position of
policing a mandate that even
our president doesn’t stand
behind. Nor should they be
faced with stringent puni-
tive measures that could
potentially put them out of
“It’s time for individual
responsibility, it’s time for
the chains to be removed, it’s
time for us to join our neigh-
boring states and the major-
ity of our nation. We stand
in solidarity with our Clat-
sop County businesses and
Brown stood by her guid-
ance during a Friday press
conference. She said it gives
businesses a choice for a
very short period of time
while the state nears its goal
of administering at least one
dose of the vaccine to 70% of
The governor said she
anticipates reaching that tar-
get before the end of June,
at which point she will lift
mask and social distancing
requirements and risk level
“I want to be very clear
that we are able to reopen
like this because of the effi -
cacy of the vaccines,” Brown
said. “For those of you who
are vaccinated, you’ve
helped us reach this point
and you are protected from
Hailey Hoff man/The Astorian
County commissioners want Gov. Kate Brown to drop a proof of vaccination requirement on
businesses and churches.
this virus. However, there are
still Oregonians who need to
take extra precautions to feel
safe and to stay safe.
“When we cross the 70%
threshold, it doesn’t mean
we are stopping our vaccine
rollout. Quite the contrary.
It means we have more hard
work in front of us to vacci-
nate the next 10% and more
of Oregonians. It means we
must double down to keep
reaching every commu-
nity with information and
The governor and Pat-
rick Allen, the director of
the Oregon Health Authority,
described what they called
two pandemics.
“As we begin the month
of June, we’re nearly six
drive,” Allen said. “It’s been
close to six weeks since we
expanded eligibility to all
adults on April 19. During
these past few months,
we’ve seen the virus come
roaring back and then begin
to retreat. In that time, a stark
picture has emerged. There
isn’t one pandemic in Ore-
gon. There are two. One is
a pandemic that is dying out
among people who are vac-
cinated, and the other is a
pandemic that is raging as
fi ercely as ever among peo-
ple who are unvaccinated.
“The data clearly show
that if you are fully vacci-
nated, you can begin to put
the pandemic behind you.”
Allen cited Clatsop
County with having a high
vaccination rate and low case
The county has vacci-
nated more than 60% of resi-
dents 16 and older, according
to the health authority, and
moved into lower risk for the
virus on Friday.
The county has set a goal
of vaccinating 27,533 people
— or 70% of the population
— against the virus to try to
reach herd immunity. As of
Friday, 17,270 people were
fully vaccinated.
The county has recorded
1,011 virus cases since the
pandemic began. According
to the county, 25 were hos-
pitalized and eight have died.
Taken by member
Jeanette M.
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