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Wait! Don't plant those seeds!

If you receive unexpected seeds in the mail from an unknown source, do not to plant them, the Oregon Department of Agriculture warns. “We are aware of reports of people getting seeds in the mail from China, often labeled as jewelry, that they did not order,” an agency press release states. “Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock.” And do we really need another Scotch broom or kudzu problem in this country? The seeds apparently (continued)

Coronavirus cases up again in past week

The past week continued to see Oregon cases of COVID-19 rise. During the week that ended Aug. 2, there were 2,278 new statewide cases of the virus, up slightly from the previous week’s total of 2,241. And there were 39 Oregon deaths, up from 27 the previous week. As of Wednesday, Oregon has had 19,979 cases with 338 deaths. An outbreak of 27 cases was reported at the Walmart Distribution Center in Hermiston. The case count includes all people linked to the outbreak, including household (continued)

Building a better downtown

Volunteers, businesses tackle on property at a time

A pandemic has slowed the economy nationwide but the pace of progress in Warrenton’s downtown has quickened. Business owners are polishing their facades, a new restaurant and a brewpub are opening, a walk-to-town apartment complex is nearly complete, and a group of volunteers has put a fresh face on everything. “I think it’s crazy, but awesome that business development is still going on in Warrenton,” Mayor Henry Balensifer said at Tuesday night’s city commission meeting. Spruce Up (continued)

Late summer will be all about the streets

Streets were all over the agenda Tuesday night (July 28). Warrenton city commissioners made decisions about paving 21 streets, talked about state plans to change the intersection of Highway 101 at Perkins Road south of town, and issued invitations for contractors to bid on two more road-related projects. “We’re just going down the list of projects in our management plan,” Public Works Director Collin Stelzig told commissioners when asked why certain streets were selected. In some cases, a (continued)

Most coronavirus cases in county began in processing plants

Clatsop County saw five more positive cases of COVID-19 during the past week On Wednesday, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 40s were reported positive for the virus. Both live in the north part of Clatsop County. Cases at Da Yang Seafood in Astoria rose to four after having all 160 employees tested last week. After a worker in his 30s showed symptoms in mid-July, he was tested and determined to be positive. Both of Da Yang’s plants were closed for deep cleaning. Three additional employees (continued)

Business and Development Tidbits for July 31

** Fish market woes ** When Warrenton Deep Sea Market closed its doors for good on June 19, it left a void in the city, which is home to commercial and recreational fishing enterprises. Mayor Henry Balensifer announced at Tuesday’s city commission meeting that he is working on getting a fish market back in town. “I've reached out and am now in talks with industry professionals to bring a fish market back to Warrenton,” he said after the meeting. “We’ve looked at two sites, one in the (continued)

UO developing ways for teens to beat anxiety disorders

Sixth grade can be a tumultuous time for youth, and the additions of a global pandemic and intense discussions around race have only increased adolescent stress in recent months. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, a team of researchers from the University of Oregon and the local community is working on a way to teach students basic mental health skills as well as give teachers a tool to keep classrooms on a more even keel. Education’s Nichole Kelly, local licensed (continued)

County unveils plan for safety routes, relocations

Clatsop County is working on a plan to make it better equipped to respond to disasters. The Resiliency Project calls for relocating the county’s Public Works facility and establishing alternative routes for emergency evacuation and delivery of vital services. The first of many opportunities for the community to learn about the project and provide input is during an information videoconference at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13. County commissioners prioritized the relocation of essential county (continued)

New Girl Scouts badges focus on 'ambitious leadership'

Girl Scouts of America announced this week 24 new badges available to girls. The badges are designed to foster “ambitious leadership” in the crucial areas of automotive engineering, STEM career exploration, entrepreneurship, and civics, many of which remain male-dominated. “In a year of unprecedented global change, our country's need for strong, broad-minded, and decisive leadership has never been greater,” according to a Girl Scout press release. “Through new and exist (continued)

Social Security premiers new web portal

Social Security Administration announced the first of several steps the agency is taking to improve the public’s experience on its website. The newly redesigned retirement benefits portal,, is designed to help millions of people prepare for and apply for retirement. “We are working hard to continue improving our website to provide people with clear, helpful information and easy access to our online services,” said Andrew Saul, commissioner of Social (continued)

Appraisers focusing on Seaside

Appraisers from Clatsop County’s Assessment and Taxation Department will inspect residential and business properties in Seaside during the next two to three years as part of the department’s ongoing reappraisal of the entire county. Appraisers will visit neighborhoods in vehicles bearing the Clatsop County logo and will carry official county identification. Typically, appraisers go lot-by-lot in a reappraisal area and knock on the front door of residential properties to contact the (continued)

Transit agency has trip-planning app

The website for NW Connector now has a trip planner for using transit throughout Northwest Oregon. Riders just need to type in a starting address and destination within the NW Connector area and the trip planner will figure out the best trip routes. It includes trip options on an interactive map. The trip planner is at (continued)

Paddlers need new permits

Paddlers of nonmotorized boats must carry a Waterway Access Permit beginning Aug. 1. The permit is required for all nonmotorized boats 10 feet and longer and replaces the Aquatic Invasive Species permit. Failure to show the permit is a Class D violation with a $115 fine. The permit funds two programs, invasive species prevention and the development and improvement of nonmotorized access. Permits are not required on federally designated wild and scenic rivers where other permits are required or (continued)

Keeping it clean during a pandemic

SOLVE has had to get creative in meeting its mission

A group that has organized mass beach cleanups for years has found keeping the coastline clean a bit challenging with social distancing requirements. “Although we had to cancel the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup in March, we have replaced this massive one-day effort with a summer beach cleanup series,” said Jon Schmidt, coordinator of SOLVE’s beach cleanup programs. SOLVE, formerly SOLV or Sustaining Oregon’s Legacy by Volunteering, was founded in 1969 as a way to improve the environment, (continued)

Skipanon Water Control District a step closer to disbanding

A board that worked diligently for decades providing flood control along the Skipanon River has all but disbanded. And now the Clatsop County Commission must decide how to dissolve the agency and its assets. “It has come to more urgency recently as the Skipanon board no longer has a quorum,” County Manager Don Bohn said Wednesday. Skipanon Water Control District was unable to find anyone to run for a seat on the board during their last election two years ago. That left the board one member (continued)

Business and development tidbits for July 24

** Helicopter repair business ** Port of Astoria commissioners approved a new lease on the executive hangar at Astoria Regional Airport that previously had been rented by Life Flight, which recently completed its new headquarters elsewhere at the airport. Varlay Aviation, owned by Warrenton resident Steve Varlay, is the new tenant. Varlay is an airframe and powerplant mechanic licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. “I believe the use is a very good one for the airport,” Airport (continued)

Coming to a highway near you: electrically powered big rigs

A plan to create a clean transit corridor supporting electric-powered big rigs would have 27 charging stations built along Interstate 5 through California, Oregon and Washington. During the next decade, electricity could power as many as 25 percent of the medium-duty trucks and 5 percent of the heavy freight haulers in the three states, according to the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative. The initiative is a study commissioned by an unprecedented collaboration between a variety of (continued)

Planning a 'head' makes boating more bearable

If nature calls while on the water, it helps to plan “a-head,” the Oregon Marine Board says. Some recreational boating facilities have reduced or closed available services in light of the pandemic. If access to shoreside restrooms is limited and your boat does not have an installed head, have a backup plan such as a portable toilet or bucket with a fitted lid, gloves, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and garbage bags. Warrenton Marina has a dump station just north of the marina office in the (continued)

Time to part with those pennies and dimes

Pardon me, mister. Can you spare some change? Oregon Bankers Association encourages people to empty their piggy banks to help small businesses facing coin shortages resulting from the pandemic. When retail establishments closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the rate of coin recirculation slowed significantly. Consumers migrated to online shopping and the use of debit and credit cards to avoid physical contact associated with using cash. Coins that would have been returned in change wer (continued)

Red Cross needs Clatsop County volunteers

The Pacific Northwest could be in for a busy wildfire season, experts say, which has prompted the American Red Cross to seek volunteers to help in local communities. “The coronavirus pandemic will make it challenging to deploy trained disaster volunteers from other parts of the country, should a large emergency occur in Oregon or Southwest Washington,” said Rebecca Marshall, regional disaster officer for the Cascades Region, which includes Clatsop County. “In light of this, the Red Cross (continued)

Columnists & Other Opinions

Mayor's Message: Some of July's changes were good. Very good.

July was an interesting month. A very different month. Yet there are two things I’m happy to announce. The first is that Spruce Up Warrenton is still moving forward on downtown improvements. The second is that we continue to see greater efficiency with our fire department and burn permits will now be annual. Spruce Up Warrenton is our Main Street Program. Their work has improved our town greatly and I hear positive feedback from folks every week. They just finished some planter boxes (continued)

Letter to the editor: Questions remain on flood control

According to my records, the established history of the Eighth Street Dam is as follows: The tide gates were permanently removed in 2015 and cannot be replaced as they originally were. In December 2015, there was flooding up to within a few inches of entering some of the homes located on the river inside Warrenton city limits. The Skipanon Water Control District had a written charter that required them to prevent flooding above all other considerations. Oregon Water Control regulations, which (continued)

Senior Moments: Could you be a hypochondriac?

Some seniors – not ourselves, of course -- might be considered hypochondriacs. Several years ago, I was given a copy of the Senior’s Star, a senior column from the Palm Springs area. It contained an article, “You are a hypochondria if … “ Every birthday you treat yourself to a spa, massage, and an MRI. Your favorite reference site on the Internet is Sickipedia. You have more doctors than friends. You wear a hospital gown to bed. You swear you heard the doctor whisper to the nurse, (continued)

Senior Moment: How hair has helped us stay in touch

Recently, I got to thinking about how long Good Housekeeping magazine has been in my life. The first issue was published by Hearst Magazines on May 2, 1885, almost 150 years ago. It has mostly featured articles of interest to women and a key component has been product testing. An article in the June 24 issue by Becca Miller was brought to my attention. It is about how families and others can stay close, even during times of separation. Upon reading it, I realized separation anxiety can affect (continued)


A night for those suffering 'Shanghaied' withdrawals

An outdoor performance of “Shanghaied in Astoria” is scheduled for 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. The event includes some live performances and portions of prior years’ performances will be showed on a movie screen outside the theater. The audio will be broadcast over a low-power FM transmitter so people can stay by or in their vehicles to hear the show. The event is free, although the group hopes to raise funds through the sale of beer and wine, hot dogs, sausages and popcorn. Other (continued)

Grange plans flea market this weekend

Svensen’s monthly flea market is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15 and 16, at the Wickiup Grange, 92683 Svensen Market Road. The market, held the third weekend of every month, includes jewelry, antiques, collectibles, plants, handmade items and more. Food will be available in the kitchen. The market opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday and closes at 4 p.m. both days. For more information, call Marsha Ettro at 503-458-6652. (continued)

County conference explores disaster options

A public videoconference on Clatsop County’s plans for moving its public works facility and establishing emergency evacuation routes will be held Thursday, Aug. 13. The Resiliency Project conference begins at 5:30 p.m. Details of the plan are on the county’s website, There’s also a link there to register for the conference in advance. County commissioners have prioritized the relocation of essential buildings and supplies outside the tsunami inundation zone as well a (continued)

Support group is for those who've had a loss

“Understanding Your Grief,” a free support group for anyone experiencing the loss of someone, meets at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20. Organizers say the group is a safe place to explore the challenges one faces on each person’s unique path of grief. Participants will learn about the grief process, identify coping strategies, and engage in discussions about a variety of topics related to healing. Participants must wear a mask. The group meets in Conference Room A at Columbia Memor (continued)

Find answers for Census concerns

A 2020 Census event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Sweet Shop, 567 Pacific Way, Gearhart. The mobile meet-up is designed for anyone having trouble with questions on the census – or if their household didn’t get census information. (continued)

VFW plans blood drive for Red Cross

The Fort Stevens Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10580 and Auxiliary will have a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Gateway Masonic Lodge, 66 S.W. Fourth St., Warrenton. The Red Cross is providing free COVID-19 antibody tests for every donor. To register, go to and type in your ZIP code under find a blood drive. Register for a specific time under the VFW’s drive. Those who need help with registration can email Debbie Little, auxiliary president, a (continued)

Hiking club sets three outings in August

Angora Hiking Club, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this month, has scheduled three events before the end of August. The first will follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark along the Fort to Sea Trail in Warrenton. The 6.5-mile hike begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, from the RV parking lot at Fort Clatsop. It is moderately difficult. Arline LaMear is hike leader and can be reached at 503-338-6883. The second event is an easy hike or bike ride on Saturday, Aug. 15, that begins aboard the (continued)

Produce pantry available Thursdays

A mobile produce pantry for low-income Clatsop County residents is available every Thursday through Sept. 24. Anyone at or below eligible income levels (participants in the food stamp program or SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or Low Income Energy Assistance Program) can pick up free fruits and vegetables. Warrenton – 3 to 4:30 p.m. at 2010 S.E. Chokeberry Ave., just past the animal shelter. Astoria – 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the 200 block of Marine (continued)

Police and Public Safety

Woman killed running across Highway 101

A Seaside woman was killed late Thursday, July 30, when she ran across Highway 101 in front of traffic, State Police reported. Rachel Faith McCune, 35, was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident was reported at 9:30 p.m. at Shamrock Road in Gearhart. Aaron M. Harris, 29, of Cannon Beach told officers he was driving north and slowed when he spotted McCune crossing from the west side of the highway, according to a media release. Suddenly, the woman ran into his lane and he attempted to swerve (continued)

Teen faces murder charges after driving through party crowd

A teenager faces murder and other charges after he allegedly drove through a crowd at a party, killing a Rainier man and injuring several other people. The crime occurred about 4 a.m. Saturday, July 25, at the Hunt Creek Rock pit off Highway 30 near Westport. There had been a large gathering at the rock pit and the juvenile drove through the crowd as he left the area, according to the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office. Three people were seriously injured by the vehicle and Robert Betschart, 23, (continued)

Public safety calls for week of July 31

** Thefts and burglaries ** Shoplifting, 4:25 p.m. July 19, Fred Meyer. Brittany A. Niverson, 23, no known address, was cited for third-degree theft after she allegedly left the store with $50 in flashlights Theft of propane tanks and RV battery, 11:25 a.m. July 20, 0-100 block Northeast Heron Avenue. Thieves stole $440 in items from an Astoria man’s recreational vehicle. Shoplifting, 2:56 p.m. July 20, Walmart. Christopher Michael White, 32, of Lincoln City was cited for second-degree theft (continued)

Public safety calls for week of July 24

** Warrants ** Warrant service, 3:42 p.m. July 9, Walmart. Jerabie L. Trevitts, 40, of Gresham was arrested on multiple warrants. Warrant service, 4:55 p.m. July 14, 300 block Marlin Avenue. Justin A. Yawgel, 26, of Seaside was arrested on a warrant. Warrant service, 5:05 p.m. July 14, Staples. Christine D. Jamieson, 42, no known address, was arrested on a warrant from Crook County. Warrant service, 11:21 a.m. July 21, Highway 101 south of Seaside. Samantha A. Manz, 28, no known address, was (continued)


Ready for school and a pandemic

A school bus parked at Warrenton High School sports eyes and a face covering. The Warrenton-Hammond school board is expected to meet tonight (July 30) in a special session on the district's reopening plans during this time of COVID-19. (continued)

College nursing programs look at teaching in a new way

Portland Community College came up with an innovative way to run its nursing program during social distancing requirements brought on by COVID-19. The nursing program moved entirely online using software that allows its students to care for actor patients in real time. The pivot has allowed students to continue training, graduate on time and find jobs in the health-care industry. Rather than attending clinical experiences to practice direct patient care, students engage in virtual simulation (continued)