March 27, 2015 Issue
Editor’s note: Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman read the following statement at the Tuesday evening Warrenton City Commission meeting where John Breitmeyer received a Citizen Commendation award.
On November 5, 2014, at 6:23 p.m., Warrenton police officers were sent to the Warrenton Mini Mart in reference to a disturbance between a male and female. While in route officers were advised that someone had been struck by a vehicle and the suspect was being detained on the ground by several subjects. Warrenton Police Officer Leonard Mossman arrived and found several subjects (including John Breitmeyer) holding the suspect down although he was continuing to struggle. Officer Mossman engaged the suspect who continued to fight even after being handcuffed. The suspect thrashed, kicked, attempted to bite, and grabbed the crotch of the officer. The other subjects continued to assist Officer Mossman until other officers arrived and the suspect was secured in a police vehicle, though he continued to struggle until he was lodged in the jail. During his investigation, Officer Mossman spoke to several subjects, including Mr. Breitmeyer, all of whom described the incident. The incident started when a woman started screaming for help from a vehicle in the parking lot. Witnesses saw the male suspect striking the female victim, then said he climbed on top of the woman, started choking her while she was sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Besides choking the female victim, the suspect also struck her several times in the face with his elbows. Mr. Breitmeyer and other witnesses tried to enter the vehicle to help the female victim but the doors were locked. The suspect, while on top of the female victim, was able to get the vehicle into reverse causing the vehicle to move rapidly backwards. The female subject was then able to apply the brakes and stop the vehicle before it struck anything though it was thought that someone might have been struck. As the struggle in the car continued, the female victim was somehow able to unlock the vehicle doors. Once the doors were unlocked, Mr. Breitmeyer opened the door and dragged the suspect out of the vehicle where he and other subjects detained him until the police arrived. Only after the suspect was detained and the female victim got out of the vehicle did everyone realize in the back seat of the vehicle was the two-year-old son of the female victim. The female victim was taken to the hospital where she was treated for her injuries and released. It was later learned that the suspect had choked the female almost to the point of blacking-out twice that evening and had been striking her in the head while she was driving prior to the incident at the Mini Mart. Because she was scared for her life the female victim made the decision to pull into the Mini Mart because there were other people there. If not for the decision of the female victim and Mr. Breitmeyer’s bravery and willingness to help the victim that November evening, I am positive that this incident would have ended in tragedy. The City of Warrenton and the Warrenton Police Department want to commend John P. Breitmeyer for his actions on the evening of November 5, 2014, where he and other citizens came to the aid of a female victim who was being attacked by a male suspect.
City Commission Tables 8th Street Dam Project
By Gary Nevan
The Warrenton City Commission again tabled a decision regarding a proposed 8th Street dam project that would remove the tide gate and dam on the Skipanon River and construct a new, one-lane 54-foot long bridge over the waterway. At the last commission meeting, several citizens voiced opposition to the plan which calls for a 14-foot wide single-lane bridge. Those in opposition, who are owners of property earmarked for future development or currently have a business on the east side of the river, asked why the bridge wasn’t being built to city code standards for new streets which calls for a minimum 20-foot wide width. Mayor Mark Kujala, who along with family members, owns property and businesses on the east side of the proposed project, declared a conflict of interest and removed himself from discussion and a vote. The project is a partnership between the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST), the Skipanon Water Control District and the City of Warrenton. CREST was able to secure funding for the proposed $1.2 million project from the Bonneville Power Administration. The project was first initiated by the Skipanon Water Control District who has owned the dam for many years after it was given to them by the federal government. The district board decided to remove the dam after determining it was ineffective for flood control and unsafe, said Chair Tessa Scheller.
“We’ve been talking about this for years,” she said. “This isn’t a city dam. It has done the city no good at all. The dam wrecks fish habitat. CREST found a compromise and found the money to replace the access. We’re not building a road for development. We can’t use salmon dollars to pay for development. This isn’t something we can pay for. That’s not our dime. We only want the dam out.”
At the Tuesday evening meeting, the commission heard comments from those in opposition to the width of the bridge. Mark Mead, owner of Cascade Yacht, which is located on the east side of the river, told the commission that a 14-foot wide bridge would prevent him from bringing boats into his business for work. “The bridge is a street in my opinion,” he said. “City standards are 20-foot wide. That’s what we expect. If you go with 14-foot wide, we’ll see you in court.”
Paul Kujala, who said his mother owns property on the east side of the river, told the commission that he has been misled. “I don’t believe any of this is true,” he said. “What is the total cost? I see what the BPA is getting with salmon credits. I see that the Skipanon Water District has an anti-development agenda. I really don’t see what the city is getting out of this. CREST was never told to design the bridge to code.”
City Manager Kurt Fritsch said the current bridge is not a public street and the project is not about the bridge, but is about the removal of the dam.
Skipanon Water Control District Vice-Chair Bruce Francis agreed. “The city manager has hit it on the head,” he said. “This is not a public street. It’s not platted. It was never designed to be a roadway. It is for emergency access only. It’s not designed to be a thoroughfare to the other side.”
Commissioner Rick Newton said he is a conservationist but wants to make sure that property owners are protected in the future. “I don’t want property owners taken by saying it’s a salmon habitat,” he said.
Commissioner Pam Ackley also voiced her concern about property owners possibly facing roadblocks in the future. “Landowners are concerned they won’t be able to develop because it’s salmon habitat,” she said.
Commissioner Tom Dyer, acting as chair of the proceedings due to Mayor’s Kujala declaration of conflict and Vice-Chair Henry Balensifer’s absence due to recent surgery, said he preferred to table the issue. “I want Henry here to vote,” he said.
The commission approved a motion to return for a special meeting on Wednesday, April 8, 6 p.m.They will hear further testimony from Matt VanNess, Habitat Restoration Program Manager for CREST, Mark Mead, Jason Palmberg and Tessa Scheller to try and work out a deal that would satisfy all parties including a possible Local Improvement District to pay for the widening of the bridge to 20-feet.
“I think we can come up with a win-win solution,” said Commissioner Ackley.
Warrenton High School wrestlers Rogue Bergerson and Colton Walker took second place in their respective weight divisions at the OSAA State Wrestling Tournament.
February 6, 2015 Issue
Warrenton Grade School student Jacob Morrow recently won the district competition of the VFW Patriot Pen Essay Contest.
February 6, 2015 Issue
The historic DK Warren House in Warrenton has new owners. See this week’s Columbia Press for the full story…
January 16, 2015 Issue
(Top)Mark Kujala was sworn into office as Warrenton’s first elected mayor at the January 13 city commission meeting. City Manager Kurt Fritsch administered the oath of Office. (Bottom) Rick Newton was sworn into office as Warrenton City Commissioner at the same meeting.
Downtown Warrenton Commercial Facade Improvement Grant Program Available
The Warrenton Urban Renewal District, in cooperation with the Warrenton Business Association is accepting applications from businesses in the Urban Renewal District for grants for building facade improvements. Matching grants up to $5,000 per building are available from a $50,000 grant fund. Applications may be submitted immediately and until February 28, 2015, with awards to be made in April 2015. Applications and eligibility requirements may be found on the City of Warrenton website: www.ci.warrenton.or.us under “Urban Renewal” or at City Hall, 225 S. Main Avenue. For more information, call the City Recorder’s Office at 503-861-0823.