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County records its fifth coronavirus death

Clatsop County recorded a fifth death from COVID-19 and 53 new cases in the week that ended Wednesday. There have been 713 cases in the county since the pandemic began with 16 hospitalizations. The most recent death was an 80-year-old man who tested positive Nov. 16 and died at home on Jan. 3. As of Tuesday, the county has administered 1,847 first doses of the Moderna vaccine. Statewide, there had been 135,142 new cases as of Wednesday with 1,832 deaths. Oregon had administered a total of (continued)

Watch out for dangerous dog

Clatsop County Animal Control warned the public that an aggressive and potentially dangerous male chow chow dog had escaped custody at the shelter. The dog, which is black and 50 pounds, was last seen at 9 a.m. Tuesday near Willow Drive and Highway 101 Business. The animal has and will bite humans. If you see the animal, call 503-325-2061. (continued)

Calls for service drop in a year that's been good for the fire department

First published in the Jan. 15 print edition

Warrenton firefighters had 18 percent fewer calls last year, something Fire Chief Brian Alsbury sees as a good thing. “The way I look at it, that’s 18 percent fewer people who had the worst day of their lives,” he told city commissioners Tuesday night during a report on changes made during the past year. The department answered 1,027 calls in 2020. Most of them – 700 – were rescue and emergency medical calls; 41 were fires, 74 were traffic accidents, and 212 were other types of (continued)

Port has new plan for major projects

First published in the Jan. 15 print edition

The Port of Astoria has developed a plan for tackling its largest projects. The 45 items in the Capital Facilities Plan were prioritized by public safety, environmental compliance, maintenance of revenue sources, creation of new revenue, routine maintenance and new projects that are neither essential nor routine. “They’re things that need to be completed across four properties,” said Matt McGrath, the port’s deputy director. The goal was to provide a narrative of the agency’s holdings (continued)

Commissioners take oath of office

First published in the Jan. 15 print edition

City commissioners elected by voters in November were sworn in Tuesday night. Gerald Poe, elected for the first time in November, was the only new member; Mark Baldwin and Tom Dyer were re-elected to their posts. Also Tuesday, commissioners unanimously selected Dyer as their mayor pro tem. Later in the meeting, several people were appointed to various city committees. Eileen Purcell and Karyn Grass were appointed to the Warrenton Community Library board; Brooke Terry and AmyLeigh Sutton were (continued)

Business and Development Tidbits for Jan. 15

** Middle school ** Furniture will be ordered for Warrenton’s new middle school in less than 45 days. Construction is THAT far along. Project Manager Scott Rose reported during Wednesday night’s school board meeting that all steel construction is complete, the second-floor slab has been poured, they’ve begun roofing work and 25 percent of the exterior wall framing is complete. Drywall installation should be complete by Feb. 1. The school is “still on target” for completion by late (continued)

Scientists say new invader lurks off Pacific Coast

Research has identified a new invader threatening a vulnerable snail species on the northern Pacific Coast, the Oregon Department of State Lands says. The lined shore crab is heading north, according to research conducted at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve south of Coos Bay. The crab species, typically found between Baja California in Mexico and Southern Oregon, has shell-crushing capabilities. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem for the Sitka periwinkle, a snail that (continued)

State Parks Department changes reservation window

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department began accepting new reservations from one day to six months out on Thursday. The change is the latest step in managing future reservations during the COVID-19 pandemic, parks officials said. Early last summer, the reservation booking window temporarily changed from one day to two weeks, then to 30 days, while the agency slowly re-opened camping after a two-month closure. In normal times, the reservation window is one day to nine months. “A short (continued)

Clatsop County sees its fourth coronavirus death

Clatsop County had its fourth COVID-related death this week and also returns to the state’s “extreme risk” category on Friday, Jan. 15. The county’s fourth death was an 85-year-old Clatsop County resident first diagnosed Dec. 3. He died Dec. 31 at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin. The county’s redesignation as “extreme” means additional restrictions on businesses and social events. The county had been downgraded from “extreme risk” to “high risk” on Jan. 1, (continued)

Guard deployed to state capitol

Gov. Kate Brown activated the Oregon National Guard on Wednesday to assist with potential civil unrest at the state capitol. The action came at the request of Oregon State Police. President Trump on Wednesday became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice after last week’s storm on the U.S. Capitol. The House of Representatives passed an article charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in the riot that led to six deaths. The impeachment requires a Senate (continued)

Obituary: Dannie Nichols/Svensen

Jerry Danial "Dannie" Nichols, 80, died Jan. 3 at home in Svensen after a short battle with COVID-19. Nichols was born in Astoria on Oct. 24, 1940, to Joe and Bessie Nichols. He attended school in Hammond until the family moved to Gearhart. He graduated from Seaside High School in 1958. After graduation, Nichols joined the Army and served in Missouri and Spokane for three years. Nichols was a commercial fisherman and crabber for many years and, in 1996, moved to Coquille to work for th (continued)

Obituary: Merle Thornton/Warrenton

Merle Edward Thornton, 93, passed away Jan. 3 in Preston, Idaho. He was born Sept. 22, 1927, to Oral and Elsie Thornton in Dallas, Ore. He spent many years in Salem and Astoria. He served in the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during World War II. After leaving the service, he married his wife, Viola Pedersen, and they were married for 66 years. She died in 2013. He worked as an automotive parts manager and loved to fish on the Columbia River and play cards. He was never idle, always finding (continued)

Minimizing the harm of natural disasters: County releases draft action plan

First published in the Jan. 8 print edition

Living in Clatsop County isn’t for the faint of heart. We’re threatened by drought, erosion, tsunami, flood, landslide, volcanic ashfall, wildfire, windstorms and winter weather, which includes ice storms and freezing rain. The “acts of God” scenarios are spelled out in a report just released by the county, “Clatsop County Multi-Jurisdictional Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.” The 582-page report details the hazards posed to every community and major public facility in the county. (continued)

Shorter list of new laws for 2021

Last year, Oregonians had to adjust to new laws that required shoppers to bring their own bags and prohibited most plastic straws at restaurants and fast-food stands. And then the pandemic put those laws on hold. Most years, there are plenty of new laws that begin on Jan. 1. This year, lawmakers spent much of the year dealing with the pandemic, such as passing legislation to distribute personal protection equipment and now, vaccines. That leaves few big legislative changes. But in a year that (continued)

Camp Kiwanilong getting Wi-Fi thanks to area businesses

Three local businesses have joined forces with the school district to provide Wi-Fi for students at Camp Kiwanilong. The district has been using the camp through a contract signed last year. It provides an additional location with room to spread out during the pandemic. Districts have been required to ensure students maintain social distancing and other health practices. Pacific Seafood, Lum’s Auto Center and Providence Seaside Hospital paid for the installation. The introduction of Wi-Fi a (continued)

Earliest residents may have used psychedelic drugs

A new study co-authored by a University of Oregon scientist found evidence that the region’s earliest residents used psychedelic drugs. Archaeologists have long debated whether mind-altering substances influenced the ancient art in caves and rock shelters. The research, published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers new insight into the role psychedelics may have played in some Native American communities. At Southern California’s Pinwheel Cave, a rock ar (continued)

Foundation awards grant for child care

PacifiCorp Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Pacific Power, has donated to the city of Astoria’s Parks and Recreation department. The $4,500 grant is to help the Lil’ Sprouts Academy relocate and expand so it can provide child care during the pandemic for health workers, emergency personnel and other critical workers. The foundation awarded 44 grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to nonprofit groups in six states, much of it to support the arts. “Local programs like these are the heartbeat (continued)

Columnists & Other Opinions

History in the Making: 25 years ago, city hires first female officer

A look at Warrenton's top stories from the annals of The Columbia Press.

** January 2011, 10 years ago ** Mark Kujala is appointed mayor by Warrenton city commissioners. He takes over for Gil Gramson, who left the commission in December. Dick Hellberg is named vice mayor. Don Patterson and Robert Fulton receive community pride awards from Warrenton Business Association for improvements made to their complex, which includes Warrenton Mini Mart, Fultano’s Pizza, and Bubba’s Sports Bar. Brad Pope received the award for his new Bayshore Animal Hospital building on (continued)

Letter to the Editor: Thanks for holiday decorations

I wanted to reach out and thank the people who provided Warrenton with the many holiday decorations. Spruce Up Warrenton played a very important role in this project, as well as Pat O’Grady with his bucket truck, the help provided by Mike Moha, the help of the people from Pacific Power, and those people not named who came to help. One of the Warrenton Commission’s goals is livability, and this effort certainly works toward that goal. Thank you all. (continued)

Off the Shelf: Ideas for reading and getting involved

The library moved to drive-through service only in the middle of December, and it’s been quite busy, with many community members utilizing the window and picking up items, including puzzles, audio books and, of course, the latest, best-selling books and movies. It’s super convenient being in a building with a drive-up window, especially during a pandemic. And if you have a computer, it’s simple to search the online catalog and place a book on hold for pickup. If you have difficulty wi (continued)

Senior Moments: Quotes and kitties can be motivating

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be,” -- Abraham Lincoln In a review of those words, spoken about 160 years ago, I suggest the aesthetics of life need to go. Our lives simply are not as they used to be prior to the worldwide pandemic. Many of you have chosen to hibernate or totally shut yourselves in. Others put on a mask or shield and tackle the world. Think about it. “Happiness is when what you think and what you say and what you do are in harmony.” That quote (continued)

Here's to Your Health: Answers to COVID-19 vaccine questions

** How well is the vaccination effort going in Clatsop County? ** Our local vaccination effort is going smoothly. According to the Oregon Health Authority, as of Jan. 5, Clatsop County’s vaccination rate was higher than any other county in Oregon. Columbia Memorial Hospital has nearly finished distributing its first 700 doses of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19. Following state guidelines, the first doses were given to emergency and urgent care staff, hospital caregivers, providers and staff (continued)

Senior Moments: Ways to 'book' an adventure

“Jingle All the Way,” the latest book that I’m reading, started out so very slow that a few times I almost gave up on it. However, around the third chapter, the key character finds herself on the Amazon Explorer jungle tour being assured that she should expect an exciting two weeks in the Amazon rain forests. I am a “read in bed person,” and last night I read till almost midnight. I especially enjoy reading books about real life experiences. The author, Debbie McComber, lives in Port (continued)


Mask give-away is Thursday, Jan. 28

Free KN95 masks will be given away through drive-up events throughout the county on Thursday, Jan. 28. All the giveaways are from 2 to 4 p.m. When recipients reach the front of the line, they should put their car in park, hold up fingers to show how many face coverings are needed, roll down the window the receive the bag of masks. Warrenton: Fire station, 225 S. Main Ave. Gearhart: Fire station, 670 Pacific Way. Astoria: Aquatic Center, 1997 Marine Drive. Lewis & Clark: Fire station, 34571 (continued)

Chamber banquet will be different this year

Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual meeting and banquet at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. Although it will be held virtually, the chamber is working to make sure it doesn’t feel virtual. Participants will be placed at a random table where they can chat with others or click open seats at tables around the virtual room. Those who attend can use their computer’s camera and mic to video chat with others at the table and there’s a text-based chat feature to address th (continued)

Police and Public Safety

Teens arrested on gun charges

Three teenage boys were arrested early Monday after firing a handgun near the turnaround in Seaside, police reported. They are ages 14, 15, and 16 and none lives in Clatsop County. Calls of a firearm being discharged on the beach came into the dispatch center at 1:09 a.m. Monday. Officers found two boys on the beach with a pistol, Seaside police said. A third boy was found nearby in a parked vehicle and he, too, had a pistol. The boys were arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful (continued)

Man dies in Highway 26 crash

A Seaside man was killed Monday when his car was struck by a semitrailer on Highway 26, according to Oregon State Police. Lonnie Meade, 65, was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident was reported at 3:40 p.m. Monday about seven miles east of Seaside. Meade was headed east and had stopped to turn left into a driveway when his Ford Explorer was struck from behind by a Peterbuilt truck driven by Alejandro Flores, 43, of Tigard. Flores was uninjured. Highway 26 was closed for four hours. (continued)

Public safety calls for week of Jan. 15

** Warrants ** Warrant service, 3:07 p.m. Jan. 4, 100 block Northwest Fourth Street. Amanda T. Brim, 40, of Warrenton was arrested on a Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office warrant. ** Assaults ** Disturbance, 11:25 a.m. Jan. 10, 1000 block Northwest Warrenton Drive. Maria M. Thorslev, 76, of Astoria was cited for fourth-degree assault. Domestic disturbance, 6:28 a.m. Jan. 11, 200 block Southwest Alder Court. Marton C. McCroskey, 32, of Warrenton was arrested on suspicion of fourth-degree assault (continued)

Public safety calls for week of Jan. 8

** Suspicious circumstances and disturbances ** Trespassing, 12:45 p.m. Dec. 31, 1300 block Southeast Second Street. A 38-year-old man who has been camping on the property in a recreation vehicle for several months was given 72 hours to leave. Disturbance, 12:23 p.m. Jan. 1, Panda Express. Sarah M. Karr, 18, of Hammond was cited for minor in possession by consumption. ** Traffic ** Traffic stop, 3:17 p.m. Dec. 29, Highway 101 at Southeast Dolphin Drive. Driver cited for driving while suspended. (continued)