Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The big storm of December, 2007 has shifted the City's and Fire District's focus on emergency preparedness and management from an earthquake/tsunami to major storms where the power is out, roads are temporarily closed, communications with the outside world are interupted and at least one of our shelters need to be opened. This has raised several questions about our community's needs and how we plan for not only earthquakes and tsunamis but major storm events as well.

As a result, at the City Council's annual retreat in February, they established 5 goals for 2008-09 relating to our community's emergency preparedness. They are:

1) Reorganize the City's emergency preparedness committees.

2) Organize a program for volunteers to go door-to-door during major storms.

3) Establish a stock of pre-positioned supplies.

4) Investigate local broadcast capability.

5) Secure portable shelter arrangements for major events.

The December storm event and the above goals have caused several questions to be raised that need to be answered.

1) Can the City's E-Prep Committee, made up of 5 citizen-volunteers, continue to absorb what has become an increased work load in preparing for a emergency events?

2) Should the City and Fire District depend on more volunteers to shoulder the emergency preparedness load and if so, how should their planning efforts be organized?

3) Will this community be able to count on any help from the outside world in the aftermath of a major event? If not, how long should we plan to fend for ourselves?

4) Can our community continue to depend on the Red Cross to help out with our emergency shelters? If not, what is the most effective means of supplying and organizing an appropriate number of volunteers to keep our shelters running?

5) What is the best way to communicate with Cannon Beach citizens before and during an event?

6) How can we check on disadvantaged citizens in their homes with our small number of emergency personnel?

7) Should the City hire an employee to help complement and organize those volunteers who have recently joined the community's emergency preparedness effort?

8) How can the City and Fire District handle what could be hundreds or even thousands of visitors who may be stranded here after a major event? And if something was to happen to our emergency shelters, what could we do to provide for shelter and other basic needs for all those people?

9) How does the community plan for rebuilding should a major disaster damage our homes, businesses and infrastructure?

10) What effect will the the new state tsunami inundation zone lines have on evacuation and other emergency planning issues?

The answers to these questions are currently being discussed and worked on at various levels and, so far, this much can be determined:

The City's Emergency Preparedness Committee has done a great job of planning evacuations, educating the public and setting up shelters for almost a decade. They will also have a lot to say about question #10 above. But more is needed to complement their activities in order to plan for major storms and other events.

As a result, the City has formed a Shelter Committee to further organize up to 3 emergency shelters while concentrating on major storm events. Once preparation for future storms is settled, emphasis will be placed on more serious events. This new committee has met several times since December and has determined that we need to plan on fending for ourselves for several days. Some pre-positioned supplies have been ordered from the Red Cross and any help from them or other outside agencies will be welcome but not anticipated.

The City and Fire District are investigating the use of portable shelters should a major event render our 3 emergency shelters unsuitable. This raises the question of where these shelters can be stored and where they can be set up in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In addition, the City's Budget Committee is wrestling with whether a part-time employee is needed (and affordable) to help with volunteer recruiting and training, organizing neighborhoods and communicating with citizens during a major storm or tsunami event. Finally, the City has formed a Resiliency Committee to plan for rebuilding the community and infrastructure after an earthquake/tsunami has hit Cannon Beach.

Much work has been done before and subsequent to the December storm but much more needs to be done especially in the areas of neighborhood organization and communications with residents. Many community-minded volunteers have stepped up to help out and offer suggestions. I invite you to do the same by calling me at (503) 436-8050 or emailing me at the address above.

Monday, March 03, 2008


This isn't the most exciting subject but it is important to our City nonetheless. Our City Charter was created by a vote of the people in 1986 and has not been updated since. The City Council appointed a Charter Revision Committee, made up of 5 citizens, whose mission was to review the Charter and recomend any changes they thought were necessary.

These suggested revisions will be discussed at a City Council public hearing tomorrow evening at our regular Council meeting which starts at 7:00 pm. Although in my opinion there are no real substantive changes being proposed, you may want to attend this hearing. As citizens of Cannon Beach, you will be asked to vote on this measure as soon as May 20th.

Please feel free to email or call me with any questions regarding this important topic.

Monday, February 04, 2008


The City is happy to welcome a new Administrative Specialist to our CB Police Department - Bobbi Rae Myers. Bobbi Rae was born and raised in the Astoria area and attended both Astoria and Warrenton High Schools. She previously helped operate a dairy farm in Nehalem, owned her own business (a coffee shop also in Nehalem) and has spent the last few years staying busy as a stay-at-home-mom.

We think Bobbi Rae has the skills, energy and personality to be a positive asset to the Police Department and City. Her husband's name is Justin and they have 3 children - Garret 9 years old, Wyatt 8 and Taylor 5.

In the meantime we all bid farewell to Bobbi Rae's predecessor, Barbara Veckey and thank her for her hard work and dedication. Barb was employed by the City for 4 1/2 years and we wish her good fortune in her new full-time job at the Big River Construction Company in Astoria.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Since my arrival here 2 years ago, we have been hearing from some local citizens about the need for a Cannon Beach Farmers Market. The City Council declared it a goal for 2008 so I asked 2 local business owners, who were instrumental in trying to get one off the ground in 2005, if they would help me look at the possibility. Bob Neroni and Lenore Emory from the EVOO Cooking School stepped up and the planning began this last summer.
Now I am happy to report that, due to a dozen or so other dedicated volunteers coming forward, a Farmers Market for Cannon Beach in 2008 will be a reality.

From the beginning of our 6 months of planning, our "mission" was geared toward providing CB residents the opportunity to purchase fresh produce and other related food products. It was also important to minimize attracting vendors who would compete with local merchants.

Here are some of the other particulars related to this event:

DATES AND TIMES - The market will run on Tuesday afternoons from 2:00 to 6:00 pm beginning June 17th and ending September 30th. The committee felt Tuesdays during the summer would alleviate parking concerns while experiencing the most optimum weather conditions.

LOCATION - The market will set up in the northwest corner of the City Hall parking lot. Having these events will help the midtown area while not creating more traffic problems for downtown during our busiest months.

PRODUCT - Very strict guidelines have been established as to what can be sold or displayed and our planning committe discussed this issue at length. We finally decided on allowing Oregon and Washington grown food products including and limited to: fruits and vegetables; grower-made or preserved foods such as honey, jams, ciders, pickled vegetables and dehydrated fruits; meat and seafood, eggs and cheeses; herbs in pots, cut or dried; and shelf stable baked goods.

VENDORS - We expect to attract between 5 to 8 vendors the first year with growth to 10 to 12 by the third year. Criteria for vendors' participation will be established by a special
committee according to the criteria listed above. The committe is also exploring the idea of having some appropriate music groups playing during the times the market is running.

FINANCES - The City Council has approved a budget for the Farmers Market which, if all goes according to plan, would result in an annual cost of not more than $6000 offset by weekly or annual charges to the vendors for a 10' by 20' booth.

The success of a Cannon Beach Farmers Market is dependent on the numbers of people that would attend and purchase goods.

Friday, December 28, 2007


This blog will attempt to relate what happened, what we did about it, what we learned, what we did well and what we can improve on.

What happened? Well, first our power went out about 11 am on Sunday, December 2nd. The power went back on for about 4 hours Sunday evening (for some of us) and then went out again for an additional 125 hours until the very early hours of Saturday morning.

During Sunday and Monday about 5 inches of rain fell on Cannon Beach within a 12 hour period of time. Downed trees and flooded roads resulted in Routes 101 and 26 being blocked at various points and many of our local roads as well. Cell phone service ceased and 2 of Qwest's trunk lines were severed in the northern part of Clatsop County resulting in the county's 911 systems failing. The lack of communication services even resulted in the Governor's office in Salem not being able to establish contact with the North Coast.So, Sunday and Monday, there were no communications, no way into CB and no way out of CB. We were effectively isolated.

Our police department spent the first 2 days conducting welfare checks, patrolling our city and helping motorists and pedestrians. Our public works crews spent the first 2 days clearing local roads and keeping our water, sewer and stormwater systems operational which involved transporting several generators from from sewer lift station to lift station. This latter effort was hampered by the main road to our water plant and springs, the source of the city's water supply, being blocked by literally hundreds of trees. 2 of our water department employees conducted an inspection of our watershed and a hike that would normally take 25 minutes took more than 2 1/2 hours.

Beginning Wednesday, our Director of Public Works would spend the bulk of his time with Pacific Power crews at the CB substation. For my part, I spent most of my time either with Pacific Power, at the Presbyterian Church shelter (which opened Monday morning), checking in at our RV Park (to monitor the gas supply) and meeting daily with city staff (every morning at 8 am), with city department heads including the fire district chief (every morning at 11 am) or at the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Astoria. The EOC met at 9 am and 9 pm every day with the fire district chief and me splitting up the meetings.
As I indicated, by Monday morning our shelter at the church opened, I believe the first shelter to open on the coast. By Monday evening, Route 101 opened from the north and, by Tuesday afternoon, from the south. By Tuesday all local roads were open except the aforementioned Elk Creek Road in the City's watershed. Early Thursday some of the city received sporadic cell phone service which became more consistent and reliable by late Thursday. Also late that day, Route 26 opened all the way to Portland and on Saturday our watershed road was completely cleared.

Throughout the week, it became apparent that Cannon Beach fared better than most other towns to the north and south of us. The one exception was the damage sustained in our watershed, mostly on state property, where hundreds of trees were either uprooted or, more likely, snapped in two from the high winds. Citizens can see for themselves with a 2 minute walk east of the Elk Creek Road gate.

On Wednesday, Pacific Power made a valiant effort to bring electricity to what they hoped then would be 30 to 40% of Cannon Beach. This involved contracting with several different companies to deliver generators, transformers and related equipment (cranes, poles, fork lifts, cables, etc.) from as far away as California to connect to the CB substation. Finally, on Thursday afternoon, about 20% of CB received some power including City Hall and the Presbyterian Church and by Friday noon, another 10% of the city was powered.Pacific Power had 43 power poles lost to the storm just from their substation near MP 4 on Route 26 to the CB station alone, not to mention the extensive damage to their system throughout the northwest part of the state. So, considering they virtually rebuilt most of their entire infrastructure under adverse weather conditions within a 5 day period, I feel their efforts should be applauded.

So what did we learn? Our experience the week of December 2nd verified something our planning for an earthquake and tsunami has assumed for the last 2 years. That is, in the event of a disaster, the community of Cannon Beach shouldn't count on anyone or anything other than ourselves. For, despite the best of intentions of some of the assistance we relied on from the outside, that help didn't come through.

During the week of December 2nd, the City and Fire District worked with, directly or indirectly, or relied on 18 different organizations from outside our community. They were: 3 cell phone companies, Clatsop County, FEMA, Globalstar (for satellite phones), ham radio operators, the National Guard, ODOT, Pacific Power, Qwest, 3 radio stations, the Red Cross, the State of Oregon, the US Coast Guard and Western Oregon Waste. By now you've probably heard that some of these agencies stepped up and some didn't. But in order for us to be effective public managers in the future, we have to get along with these groups to the extent we may come to rely on them and appreciate them for their assistance. So, we will work with these organizations behind the scenes in an attempt to improve performance and relationships for the benefit of all CB citizens. After all, there are things we can improve on also. (See below.)

What did we do well? Early on, our public works department and community volunteers got all of our local roads open and kept our underground infrastructure operational. Our police department and local EOC at the fire station checked on home-bound citizens through the welfare check program and answered many questions to the best of their ability. Our church shelter, with much assistance from local businesses served more than 2500 meals over a 5 day period and offered overnight accomodations to several guests. Our ham operators at the EOC provided and accepted vital communications during the time that satellite, cell and land line phones did not work.

What can we improve on? The City and Fire District have finetuned a list of seemingly minor but very important items, a checklist if you will, that improves the detailing of what needs to be accomplished before a storm hits. This includes items such as turning off a switch here, opening a gate there, reviewing safety procedures, coordinating radio communications, things like that.

I also think we can improve communication to the public. While we posted bulletins on the city's website, made 2 announcements street by street with loudspeakers, distributed informational "Updates" to 7 locations and conducted interviews with 3 North Coast radio stations and the Daily Astorian, I feel we could have and should have done all those things earlier in the week. Next time we will. In the future, I will also be utilizing my City Manager Blog to disseminate information so if you would like to be included, please email me to get automatic updates during emergency situations. Other ideas you may have on improving communication are most welcome.

Other improvements we'll be working on are organizing and clarifying emergency shelter operations and finding and training at least 2 more ham radio operators from our community. The City and Fire District will also be working with State of Oregon officials to attempt to develop wider power line corridors. As I understand it, 80% of all power failures are caused by downed trees on power lines. When 100 foot tall trees fall within 50 foot easements, it's not difficult to understand that wider corridors will reduce that potential and alleviate a lot of hardship.

In conclusion, I'd like to thank the many individuals and agencies that assisted the City and Fire District during the difficult week of December 2nd. It was a true community effort that helped us all cope with what I hope is a rare event.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


In a previous blog from about a month ago, I detailed the efforts of a group of Cannon Beach teenagers to raise more than $60,000 toward the construction of a new skate park on East 2nd. In the blog, I also explained the City's match, other in-kind donations, the hiring of a design-builder and efforts to secure a $120,000 state grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

These efforts included a trip to Bend on June 11th to give a presentation to the Advisory Committee responsible for recomending which Oregon local governments receive grants. There were a total of 40 applications totalling $11.5 million which averages out to $285,000 per request. Just $4.5 million was available for funding.

The presentation from the Cannon Beach contingent was 20 minutes long and included presentations from Lujac Desautel, Cole Willyard (both ages 15), Margo Lalich, Mike Berger and yours truly. The evaluation committee allowed a maximum total of 55 points for each application and decided not to award grants to any agency that scored lower than 37.

The highest score went to the City of Hood River who scored 47 out of 55. Cannon Beach scored 45. Out of the 40 grant applications, Cannon Beach ranked 5th and last week we were officially notified by OPRD that we were the recipients of $120,000 to build our skate park.

Special thanks and recognition needs to go to Lujac and Cole for their leadership activities in not only their excellent presentations in Bend, but also their accomplishment in raising most of the necessary match. Credit also goes to Margo and Mike and also Ed Johnson who represented the City's Parks Committee during this 3 year effort.

Monday, July 09, 2007


The City of Cannon Beach is pleased to announce the hiring of Colleen Waldhaus as our new Administrative Specialist. Colleen, who started work on July 9th, replaces Brandy Harker who was promoted to Administrative Assistant in May.

Colleen is familiar to many CB citizens having worked at the Bank of Astoria and the Inn at Cannon Beach for several years. Much of her work experience has been in the areas of customer service and accounting, she has been a small business owner and is an accomplished pastry chef.

Colleen has 3 grown children (Kristofer, Timothy and Alessandra) and one grandson (2 year old Kayne) all of whom reside in Portland.

Please stop by City Hall and welcome Colleen aboard.