The Columbia press. (Astoria, Or.) 1949-current, July 17, 2020, Image 1

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    T he C olumbia P ress
50 ¢
C latsop C ounty ’ s I ndependent W eekly
July 17, 2020
Vol. 4, Issue 29
Warrenton Fire promotes two to division chiefs Police officer
Two longtime Warrenton “As the fire chief of War-
Fire Department employ- renton, I am very excited
exonerated of
ees have been promoted.
that the department was
Capt. John Shepherd, able to promote both Scott
who began his career in and John to the rank of di-
1977 as a firefighter with
the Hammond Fire De-
partment, is the new divi-
sion chief of training.
Firefighter Scott Watson,
who joined WFD as a fire-
fighter in 1990, is the new
division chief of opera-
tions and recruitment.
vision chief,” Chief Brian
Alsbury said.
“This will allow the de-
partment to focus more
time on training, opera-
tions, fire prevention and
recruitment, while giving
us the ability to find ways
See ‘WFD’ on Page 6
Proposed fish plant
prompts closer look
at sewer capacity
B y C indy y ingst
B y C indy y ingst
The Columbia Press
Div. Chief John Shepherd
Div. Chief Scott Watson
Walk in the park
The Columbia Press
A fishmeal processing plant pro-
posed for industrial land next to Asto-
ria Regional Airport has caused War-
renton leaders to take another look at
whether the city’s wastewater treat-
ment plant is up to the task.
A large industrial enterprise would
be an asset for the city, Public Works
Director Collin Stelzig said, but stud-
ies have estimated the treatment plant
could be at capacity in as little as four
“We’re looking at a
specific project, but this
(discussion) isn’t that
told city commissioners
at their Tuesday night
The main concerns are
the collection system’s
hydraulic capacity – liquid pumped in
pipes under pressure – and the treat-
ment plant’s ability to process waste
from the plant.
The industrial park, like the airport,
is owned by the Port of Astoria. For ev-
See ‘Fish plant’ on Page 4
Cindy Yingst/The Columbia Press
A herd of Roosevelt elk crosses Northwest Warrenton Drive toward Car-
ruthers Park, above, and makes its way past the dog park, below. The city
recently moved the park’s small dog area and added additional parking, but
has yet to add an elk promenade.
Warrenton Police Officer Robert Wirt
was exonerated Friday following an in-
vestigation into accusations made in a
Facebook post about his behavior at a
local bar on June 13.
“The investigation is complete and
none of the allegations were substantiat-
ed and, as such, the city will not be tak-
ing any further action and the employee
will be returning from administrative
leave,” City Manager Linda Engbretson
“I’ve been exonerated, but the damage
has been done,” Wirt said Friday after an
on-air interview with radio personality
Lars Larson.
Juan Salcedo had accused the officer
of mocking the final words of George
Floyd, a black man who died after a Min-
neapolis police officer sat with a knee on
his neck.
Renee Starr, a Portland attorney spe-
cializing in employment law, conducted
the investigation. She interviewed nine
witnesses with direct knowledge of the
allegations and reviewed security video
footage from Bubba’s Sports Bar.
“I do not find substantial evidence that
Wirt said the words, ‘I can’t breathe’ and
mocked the killing of George Floyd,”
Starr wrote in a summary of her investi-
gation, which was obtained from the city
through a public records request.
She found both the accuser, Salcedo,
and the accused, Wirt, credible witness-
es and was unable to find evidence that it
was more likely than not that Wirt made
the offensive comment.
According to Starr’s summary, she
based her conclusion on the following:
• The incident lasts barely 10 seconds.
The friend’s hand comes along the left
See ‘Officer’ on Page 6