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About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View This Issue
The INDEPENDENT, August 19, 2010
Published on the first and third Thursdays of each month by
The Independent, LLC, 725 Bridge St., Vernonia, OR 97064.
Publisher Clark McGaugh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Rebecca McGaugh, email@example.com
Mentor Noni Andersen
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based dyes
Thanks to our Governor
When the flood hit Vernonia on December 3, 2007, Gov-
ernor Kulongoski flew in, by helicopter (coincidentally land-
ing at Spencer Park where the school is now planning to re-
locate), to look over the damage within days. He named Ver-
nonia as an Oregon Solutions project some months later.
Oregon Solutions is a think tank, collaborative process to
find sustainable solutions to community-based problems.
Oregon Solutions has been working since, and is still work-
ing on ways to get Vernonia new schools out of the flood
area. Now, just months before he leaves office, the Gover-
nor has signed Executive Order 10-07 (see page 1 for more
information) which orders state agencies to continue to help
Vernonia get those new schools. It also directs help our way
to move the health clinic, food bank and senior center out of
the way of future flooding. It doesn’t send dollars flying our
way, but it does tell state agencies to help facilitate the
meeting of our needs; whether for new roads, land permit-
ting processes, or whatever state agencies may need to
touch to get our schools and community services moved, up
Just want to take this opportunity to thank you, Governor
Kulongoski, on Vernonia’s behalf. We hope you will be well
pleased when all the dust clears and Vernonia opens it new,
Deadline to file coming up
Tuesday, August 24, is the deadline to file for city posi-
tions. The Mayor’s seat and two councilor positions are up
for grabs in this November’s election.
If you have been thinking of filing but haven’t done so, run
right down to City Hall and get a packet. For those who have
already filed, thanks for caring enough to be willing to give
up two Mondays a month, plus a bunch of other time, to look
after the city and work on behalf of its citizens.
Candidates: Have you been attending council meetings?
The best way to get up to speed is to attend. Hopefully,
those who aren’t elected to office will stay involved by at-
tending meetings and letting your voices be heard by those
who are elected to serve. Not sure if you want to serve on
the council, but do want to get involved? Do like councilor
Catherine Helmer did before recently applying and being ap-
pointed to fill an open council position – get your feet wet by
joining committees and community service organizations.
And, please, don’t run in order to get one problem solved,
then ignore the issues that don’t apply to you. Serve the en-
tire community, not just yourself. Listen to every opinion you
can get, not just to your friends.
Out of My Mind…
by Noni Andersen
I recently filled in at a
council meeting and an
executive session of the
Banks City Council, when
The Independent’s regular
reporter was unable to at-
tend the two meetings.
It was a good experi-
ence, not because it re-
minded me of all the meet-
ings I used to attend (I
don’t miss that), but because it reminded me of
how a well-functioning city council discusses city
business in both public and private meetings.
Proposed capital expenditures were dis-
cussed in considerable detail in the public meet-
ing and, even though the primary purpose of the
projects had been clarified at previous meetings,
all but one of the councilors had questions, some
had multiple questions. The questions ranged
from those requiring simple responses, such as
whether the estimated cost (of a project) includ-
ed landscaping and fencing, to far more complex
questions requiring specific details about the fi-
Questions were asked of the city manager,
engineer, attorney and recorder. They were
asked and answered courteously. When the
mayor felt that he or a councilor needed addition-
al clarification, he would repeat or rephrase a
question, sometimes specifying a particular ele-
ment that was unclear. City officials displayed no
impatience at any time, even when questions re-
quired repetitive answers.
During an executive session the following
week, when the subject matter could have been
uncomfortable, the pattern of courteous state-
ments, questions and responses continued. The
only negative statement received a thoughtful,
If you have attended Vernonia City Council
(“Council” includes the mayor.) meetings, you
know things are very different. Please note that
these comments specifically exempt the newest
council member, Catherine Helmer, who is both
courteous and professional.
It is rare to hear an in-depth discussion of any
complicated city business – budget, sewage
treatment upgrade, financing, etc. Regardless of
the topic, a staff recommendation is usually ap-
proved without discussion, leaving citizens won-
dering whether the topic was discussed private-
ly, or whether council members don’t want to
show a lack of knowledge by asking questions.
Other times, comparatively simple subjects
are talked nearly to death. For instance, follow-
ing a long, long discussion about legally required
changes to the city’s contract with the Vernonia
Ridge Riders regarding the Anderson Park are-
na…information that was available and should
have been presented to the Ridge Riders in writ-
ing before any discussion…a special workshop
had to be scheduled.
This council also loudly and repeatedly exco-
riates those who are critical of their governance.
Their behavior is demeaning to themselves
and to the city.