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COVID vaccine supply can't keep up with demand

Clatsop County recorded just three new cases of COVID-19 during the past seven days, which ended Wednesday. It brings to total case count to 783 since the pandemic arrived here a year ago. Eighteen people have been hospitalized and six have died. All others have recovered or are recuperating at home. Statewide, there had been a total of 156,287 coronavirus cases with 2,252 deaths. In addition to a drop in cases, there is more good news this week. More than 1 million vaccines have b (continued)

Start of high school football a welcome relief

Coaches as well as students are thrilled the state finally is allowing high school sports play to begin. “When 35 other states have already successfully played football and volleyball, and are in the midst of finishing their winter sports season, you have to ask yourself why Oregon was shut out for so long,” said Ian O’Brien, vice principal and head football coach. “Safety of our kids has always been the priority, but forcing students to their homes with little social interaction has (continued)

Playing without spectators is a whole new game

Mia McFadden, a starting senior for this year’s Warrenton High School volleyball team, hopes there will be a section in the stands set aside for students. “It can affect the whole momentum of the game,” she said, although she realizes it’s unlikely to happen. “They won’t be able to open the stands to spectators like they have in the past,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty good about this year’s season, though.” The team was undefeated in league play last year and was league (continued)

Comic strip premiers today in The Columbia Press

Today, The Columbia Press begins running ZED, a comic strip created by Duane Abel. ZED has been around for 25 years and runs in newspapers nationwide. The Columbia Press is Abel’s first paper in Oregon. The cartoonist was born in a small Ohio town and small-town newspapers are his target market, he said. Abel also is a book illustrator and a playwright. He takes his comedic stage play “Jelly Jars” to more than 100 schools every year, encouraging students to be creative and to draw, if so (continued)

Warrenton fishing boat capsizes, killing two

A Warrenton-based commercial crab boat capsized Saturday in rough waters at the Tillamook Bay bar, killing two of the four crew members, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. All four members of fishing vessel Coastal Reign were pulled from the bay after the capsizing. The Coast Guard had been watching the area because there were small craft restrictions due to bad weather and choppy seas. A rescue crew was sent immediately from nearby Garibaldi and a helicopter from Astoria when the vessel’s (continued)

County now considered at low risk for virus

Clatsop County moves from “extreme risk” today, Feb. 26, to the least-restrictive category for COVID-19. The change eases restrictions on bars, restaurants, theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor recreation and entertainment establishments. The move to “low risk” is the result of a drop in the county’s new case rate. During the two weeks between Feb. 7 and 20, there were just 12 new cases, which is less than 50 per 100,000 population according to the state’s risk-level metric (continued)

Port disputes what it views as exorbitant DEQ charges

First published in the Feb. 26 print edition

The Port of Astoria has begun questioning some of the charges it’s being forced to pay by the state Department of Environmental Quality. The port is one of eight parties deemed responsible for a series of soil and groundwater contamination events decades ago in and around the West Mooring Basin and Astoria Riverwalk Inn. “There are specific items that have just raised some eyebrows,” Will Isom, the port’s executive director, told commissioners earlier this month. For instance, during a (continued)

Business and Development Tidbits for Feb. 26

City wants ducks to stay out of wastewater treatment plant

The city will spend $49,130 on netting to keep birds out of the aeration ponds at Warrenton’s wastewater treatment plant. Sprague Pest Solutions of Portland will provide the nets, the company deemed to be the lowest of three bids as well as the best design option. “Each year, we have problems with birds diving into the basins during the settling phase of the process and it causes high suspended solids in the final effluent,” Public Works Operations Manager Kyle Sharpsteen wrote in a (continued)

County's interim health director is a familiar face

A familiar face is stepping into the top post at the Clatsop County Public Health Department. Margo Lalich has been tapped to serve as interim director of the department following the departure of Michael McNickle, who is stepping down to head the health department in Gray’s Harbor County, Wash. She joined the county on March 1. She previously served with Clatsop County Public Health for 15 years beginning in 1998, when she joined as a public health nurse. She coordinated public health (continued)

Innovators wanted: Couple opens 'makerspace' with a twist

First published in the Feb. 19 print edition

Have a grand idea but worried about the effort or cost of seeing it to fruition? Travis Rowland may have the solution. He and his wife, Nina, have opened Vegabond 3D, a place where business ideas can be nurtured and innovators can find tools to put plans in motion. “My main mission here is to help people find their passion,” he said, “and help people improve their relationship with themselves through creativity.” Starting a business is a huge barrier to creativity, Rowland said. So he (continued)

Food truck pod by City Hall awaits design

First published in the Feb. 19 print edition

The city has hired an award-winning landscape architect to develop a food truck pod that will be anything but boring. “The Food Pod project is a fun one, and I hope that it brings a lot of energy to downtown Warrenton when completed,” said Scott Hess, Warrenton’s Community Development director. Warrenton Urban Renewal Agency, an entity established in 2007 to revitalize downtown using special tax money, signed an agreement late last year with GreenWorks, a Portland-based landscap (continued)

Sewer fix should pave way for airport development

First published in the Feb. 19 print edition

Big River Construction of Astoria was awarded a contract Tuesday to immediately begin replacing the sewer system at Astoria-Warrenton Regional Airport. The replacement is essential for the Port of Astoria to develop its industrial park adjacent to the airport and completing the job allows the industrial park’s first tenant, Scoular, to build its seafood processing plant there. “We’re going to replace most of the sewer infrastructure we have out at the airport,” said Matt McGrath, deputy (continued)

History in the Making: A look at Warrenton's top stories from The Columbia Press annals

Hammond considers conference center proposal

** February 2011, 10 years ago ** The Warrenton-Hammond Historical Society, which has housed its archives for three years in space donated by the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Benefit Fund at Lighthouse Park, has moved and is searching for a new location. City officials are outraged when state leaders offer a mere $100,000 to help the city build its new multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant, which also will be used by Fort Stevens State Park and its 3 million annual visitors. A 1979 (continued)

National park offers listening adventure

Want to explore the sounds of nature without leaving your easy chair? Lewis and Clark National Historical Park can take you on a sound adventure, allowing you to hear local birds, babbling streams, rustling reeds, even the sounds of shotguns during an elk hunt. The sounds were recorded by Jacob Job of the Colorado State University Sound and Light Ecology Team as part of the national park’s Soundscape Project. A Lewis and Clark Listening Adventure story map highlights the sounds of Lewis and (continued)

County arts groups receive operating grants

The Oregon Arts Commission awarded small grants to 97 organizations statewide, meant to be a lifeline ensuring arts access for Oregonians, the agency announced. The Small Operating Grants are designed to provide support to arts organizations with budgets under $150,000. Eligibility was limited to nonprofit organizations at least two years old that provide ongoing, sustained artistic programming and outreach programs. Each organization received $1,159. “So many grants are project-oriented when (continued)

Columnists & Other Opinions

Mayor's Message: Goals include finishing what was started

The City Commission has chosen four goals this year to guide budgeting and staff priorities. They are: Goal No. 1, Aggressively Pursue Revenue Opportunities; Goal No. 2, Improve Internal and External Communications; Goal No. 3, Address Critical Staffing Needs; and Goal No. 4, Finish the Unfinished Projects. All of these goals are interconnected in that they need each other to be successful. What does this all mean? Aggressively pursuing revenue opportunities is primarily aimed at the efforts (continued)

Letter to the editor: Mayor works hard for city and its residents

I am writing to the citizens of Warrenton because many people are unaware of the amount of time and energy our mayor, Henry Balensifer, devotes to his way-underpaid job as mayor. When our “Coffee with the Mayor” was able to take place at 9 a.m. Mondays, anyone who wanted could appear and discuss issues with him. I took the time to look for other cities that might have such a continual citizen information event and found none. When CV19 first appeared, with Henry’s leadership Warrenton (continued)

Senior Moments: Waiting for the sun and an extra hour

Since this is the last issue of the Columbia Press for February, spring is before us and many will begin to count the days before we get back the hour we had to give up in November. And many of us Oregonians assumed we were going to get to keep daylight saving time forever and ever, but not so. In the fall, Oregonian reporter Lizzy Acker cautioned us "not yet" about daylight saving time. "There is one caveat to this time change cessation legally and that is -- Congress has to approve t (continued)

It's delightful when books jump into our bags

We delightedly reopened the Warrenton Community Library (WCL) doors this week for patrons to browse for books and materials and use the computers, with a limited time of 30 minutes. Thank you to everyone for understanding the importance of utilizing the drive-through during the past two months and helping Clatsop County slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We are delighted to let people in again, with masks and social distancing, helping them fill their informational and literacy (continued)

Senior Moments: I've learned a lot from obituaries

I’ll begin my column today with a confession. I enjoy reading obituaries and often come away happy. Of course, there are the sad ones that provoke a person to pray for all concerned even if you do not know the family. And there are times you read an obituary wishing you had known the person when they were living. Or maybe you knew the person, but not the salient facts about them and you wish you had. I have a daughter-in-law in California who now and then sends copies of obituaries she has (continued)


Getting down to beaver business

Jakob Shockey believes in partnering with the beavers. He’s the featured speaker at this month’s Nature Matters lecture, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 11. Nature Matters is sponsored by Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in partnership with North Coast Watershed Association, the national park association and Fort George Brewery. Shockey has been working professionally in Oregon’s streams, rivers, and wetlands for eight years. He is cofounder and executive director of The Beaver (continued)

Local radio begins spring pledge drive

Coast Community Radio begins its monthlong spring pledge drive March 15. As the only local noncommercial broadcaster, Coast operates its three stations by relying on funds from the community it serves. “KMUN is a reflection of the community we serve,” Membership Director Janet Fryberger said. “Listener support facilitates and drives our quest to be a refuge through music programming, and a resource through news and local interest shows.” Coast Community Radio is supported by members and (continued)

Master Gardeners offers scholarship

Clatsop County Master Gardener Association seeks applicants for its annual scholarship program. Awards of up to $1,000 will be given to one or more high school seniors who live in Clatsop County and who plan to attend college, vocational school or a training program that helps them develop skills that contribute to the advancement of sound gardening practices. Awards are made based on a student’s academic standing and interest in horticulture or a related field. Applicants must submit a (continued)

Registration opens for Girls Build camps

Registration is open for the popular Girls Build camp scheduled in Warrenton this summer. The camp is co-sponsored by Hampton Affiliates and the Warrenton-Hammond School District and is run by women in the construction trades. It provides a hands-on opportunity for girls ages 8 to 15 to develop building skills and learn about the high-paying skilled crafts. In prior years, participants have built playhouses, benches and picture boxes and worked with circular saws, nail guns, drills and sanders. (continued)

Police and Public Safety

Public safety calls for week of Feb. 26

** Warrants ** Warrant service, 12:45 p.m. Feb. 19, Harbor Drive at Main Avenue. Margi M. Seburn, 41, of Portland was arrested on a failure to appear warrant from Oregon City. ** Thefts and burglaries ** Shoplifting, 9:46 p.m. Feb. 12, Walmart. Rebecca L. Lee, 27, of Keizer and Anastasia G. Dorokhov, 27, of Salem were cited for third-degree theft and Lee also was cited for criminal mischief after they allegedly attempted to leave the store without paying for two pairs of gloves valued at $40. (continued)

Public safety calls for week of Feb. 19

** Warrants** Warrant service, 4:39 p.m. Feb. 10, 600 block East Harbor Drive. Daniel C. Lunsford, 31, of Warrenton was arrested on a statewide felony warrant from Clatsop Community Corrections. Warrant service, 6:07 a.m. Feb. 11, police station. Jonathan C. Myers, 35, of Warrenton was arrested on a failure to appear warrant. ** Drug offenses ** Possession of controlled substances, 11:30 am. Feb. 13, 1300 block Southeast Second Street. Christopher R. Cave, 35, of Astoria was arrested on (continued)


Celebrating 100 days

A first-grader sports a new T-shirt marking his 100th day of classes at Warrenton Grade School. While the 100th day celebration is an annual event, “We felt it was essential to hold onto as many traditions as we were able,” Vice Principal Sean O’Malley said. (continued)

Volleyball season begins with bevy of home games

Warrenton High School’s volleyball season starts at home on Tuesday, March 2, against nonleague Neah-Kah-Nie. The 6 p.m. game will be broadcast live on the NFHS network ( “I feel like I'm in some kind of a time warp. Is this August or February? I’m just not quite sure,” Head Coach Staci Miethe said. “But hey, I'm so glad to be out on the court. It's nice to be with the girls. We're going to have a great season.” A bright smile beamed across her face, discernabl (continued)

Team ready to push aside pandemic, get out and play

Charlie Bergerson is a starting senior on Warrenton High School’s varsity football team, No. 55 on the offensive and defensive lines. In an interview, Charlie talked about the impact the pandemic has had on his life. “I'm grateful that school is starting up again. But, more importantly, I'm excited about football,” he said. “It’s a way of relieving my stress. It gives me an opportunity to hang out with friends and to socialize--to be a part of a team.” Initially, he found th (continued)

College news: Three locals make dean's list

Three local residents have been named to the Eastern Oregon University dean’s list for the fall term. To qualify, students must achieve and maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or higher while completing a minimum of 12 hours of graded coursework. Those on the list are Amanda Adams and Trenton Shaw, Astoria; and Robert Leitch, Hammond. (continued)