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Thanks for Black Tie & Blue Jeans success; lack of data for sugary drink tax in St. Helens; brains, not greed, needed for Port Westward rezone consideration

Thank you for Black Tie & Blue Jeans success

On behalf of the board of directors of Columbia Learning Center, thank you to our sponsors, donors, attendees and volunteers for another successful Black Tie & Blue Jeans Summer Social & Auction.

Thanks to your participation, we raised $140,000 to support the Chance to Become Scholarship Program. Our sponsors cover the costs of the event, making it possible for the contributions made by attendees to directly fund the scholarship program. This year we were honored to receive Gold Sponsorships from Global Partners and Hudson Garbage Service, and Silver Sponsorships from CalPortland, Columbia River PUD, Dillard's Moorage, Dyno Nobel, Kivel & Howard, Pacific Stainless, PGE, Portland & Western, and Wauna Credit Union. We are also grateful for the tremendous support provided by over 100 local businesses. These businesses donated products and services for our auction and raffle. We were delighted this year to welcome more than 350 people to Deer Island Stock Ranch for this year's event. It was our largest-ever crowd, and the generosity they showed toward this important program will have a lasting impact on the lives of dozens of local students.

This event would not be possible without our dedicated volunteer committee. I am very grateful for their tireless efforts on behalf of Black Tie. The Chance to Become Scholarship Program is special. These scholarships cannot be applied for, and are aimed at students who need someone to give them a chance. Each and every person who was involved in Black Tie has been given a chance like this in their own life.

Thank you for supporting this event, and helping us give chances to others.

Marion Christensen

Board President

Columbia Learning Center

Not buying St. Helens' sugary drink tax pitch

The city of St. Helens is thinking about protecting our health by imposing a tax on sugar, mainly on sugary drinks. The city cites obesity, heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay as a reason for doing this wonderful thing.

And the second wonderful thing they will do is use the collected money to help our parks and trails.

I have written over 50 medically scientific papers and, in doing so, I have had to present data. I have not seen any data presented by the city that here, in St. Helens, there is a problem with sugary drinks. I'm referring to real data about St. Helens, Oregon, not some other city or place. Real data.

The second part of the scientific process is to state my proposal and to identify what I hope or expect the result to be. I have heard no such statement. It needs to be stated how I am going to measure the health improvements to get the required data. I have not heard of any plan to collect any data.

I get the impression this tax is a money-collecting scam. The city's interest in making us more healthy does not match the city's action of building a marijuana grow facility in our town. That also is a money-making deal done by the City Council.The use of the sugary drink tax money, about $300,000 per year for parks, has a pleasant sound to it.

This is just after the City Council turned the industrial area at Nob Hill into a park with a reduction of $40 million in just permit fees to the city. The quick math tells us it will take 133 years to make up the difference.

Most operations, when money gets in short supply, tighten up their operation procedures. Remember the $2 million project to drive a drain pipe from Godfrey Park to the river without having to remove the overburden? Well, the information that the city provided the contractor was not quite accurate, and the overburden had to be removed at an estimated cost of another $2 million. This number came from a question about the real cost asked of the City Council — a number was not refuted. The collection of this tax will require more personnel at City Hall. With the added expense, the expected $300,000 is now reduced by how much? With 80 percent of our workforce commuting each day, it will not take much effort for the desired soft drinks to be purchased outside of St. Helens. And while the customers are buying soft drinks outside of St. Helens, they might as well buy the rest of the things they need, for convenience's sake.

Sorry store owners of St. Helens. I know that this hurts your business, but we are not going to buy overpriced items in St. Helens.

Stephen Topaz

St. Helens

For Port Westward rezone, we need brains, not greed

Why must Columbia County continue to act like a pubescent virgin being deceived by a sexual predator when it comes to the future of the county? The debate about Port Westward is a case in point — promise of a small number of "jobs" in a county that has been routinely lied to by large industry players who have shown that their care for the wellbeing of the area pales in contrast to their desire for short-term profit, while leaving the good folks of our county with unwanted long-term consequences. If we allow the proposed rezoning, it is not just the farmland and agricultural activities that will

be harmed, it is every county resident.

 Long-term county folks are familiar with the effects of road projects and miles-long traffic jams. At least those projects brought some long-term benefits to us all. We can analyze the effects of projects on viability of the currently employed local people. During the Highway 30 improvements, folks that used the road for our jobs found that there were routine delays of as many as 300 cars for 20 minutes in areas that normally take only 1.5 minutes. Delays peaked in rush hour, but people who needed to use vehicles to transfer goods, go to worksites, or deal with urgent situations were also delayed. I was in those delays dozens of times, and I counted the cars and personally absorbed the wasted time.

With the issue of Port Westward, the belief that a "deep-water port" must invariably be used for heavy industry is deceptive. Nearly all transfer processes involved must also use either rail or road transfer — the Port of St. Helens does not stand alone. The many Highway 30 crossings in the county are used by around 5,000 vehicles total per day; in about 20 cases there is no escape if a train is blocking, and a 100-car train at 8 mph takes nearly 10 minutes to pass by each of them.

If we use $15 per hour as a low-end estimate of the costs for each person-vehicle delayed by trains, and note that typically 75 people are delayed at each main crossing point during a train passage, we see a total at each crossing of about $200 of lost work-time per train. Multiply that by the 20 crossings, and we get a cost to the community of about $4,000 per train, or $1.6 million per year for 400 trains. ($12 million for 3,000 trains per year).

That estimated cost is absorbed by the local citizens, not the East Coast owners of the hazardous materials being transferred through our county. There will inevitably also be deaths caused by accidents or the delay of emergency responses. Note that this analysis does not include greatly increased heavy-truck use of our publicly funded roads. Those trucks will soon be robotic.

The Global Partners LP statement of "up to 75 jobs" does not mean 75 permanent jobs. It may mean 10 or less, and we need to recognize the following:

1) "Heavy industry" jobs are being automated worldwide, and there will be little incentive to avoid this at Port Westward. Truck-drivers, laborers, office-workers, etc. are all being replaced by robotic or other automated systems. Portland has had robotic trains in its core streets for 15 years;

2) There will be a decreasing American need for fossil fuels, and the current plans are primarily shipment to Asia of a valuable public chemical set that will be wasted or burned, with the polluting results coming back to us through the winds and ocean currents;

3) In any reasonable modern scenario, the usage of this proposed facility will taper to zero within 20 years. The results of the damage will last for hundreds or thousands of years.

The Port Commission has at least two personally interested members, and it is unknown what hidden discussions have occurred. Our county will have at least double the population in 20 years (3.5 percent per year, much due to climate refugees).

Short-term thinking of "Ooh, shiny!" is not a useful way to decide the future of our county. We need to encourage brains in our population, not greed.

Charles Bickford

Deer Island

Contract Publishing

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