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In wake of Port Westward rezone decision, it's time Columbia County voters make a change.

Columbia County Commissioner Alex Tardif is the voice of our future.

I attended the county commissioners meeting on Nov. 29 to hear the vote on the rezoning of 837 acres of prime farmland into an industrial area at Port Westward near Clatskanie. Well — it passed. The vote from the three commissioners was two to one.

Commissioner Henry Heimuller and Commissioner Margaret Magruder voted to allow the rezoning of hundreds of acres of farmland into industrial use.

Commissioner Alex Tardif voted no.

Let me explain something: Only 3.6 percent of land in Columbia County continues to be considered as prime agricultural land.

The 837 acres of the aforementioned Port Westward land constitutes 1 percent of that 3.6 percent.

Commissioner Magruder expounded on the fact that her family has farmed this same land since 1904. Part of her rhetoric in attempting to get elected to her current position was proclaiming frequently and loudly that she was a farmer — how her family had farmed this Port Westward land for over 100 years — that she would protect these farmlands. Well, you can kiss that campaign promise goodbye. Today she threw that farmland under the fossil fuel bus. I wonder who told her how to vote.

At least Heimuller is sticking to his same old rhetoric: jobs, jobs, jobs. It's been the same for years. Heimuller was on the commissioners' board when we were promised 600 jobs at the Port Westward facility. Less than 25 people have permanent jobs. Heimuller has continued to push for development of fossil fuel facilities at this location.

On a constant basis, I continue to see fuels being shipped through our county with the "1987 Hazardous" label, which designates denatured alcohol, a "flammable liquid poison" according to Cameo Chemicals (noaa.gov). Even more tank cars glide by on railroad tracks with the

"1170 Hazardous" label designating ethanol which, among other things, is a carcinogen (cancer-causing) combustible.

Commissioner Alex Tardif voted "no" on this rezone, I believe, because he truly is "looking to the future." He does not believe we have to destroy the Columbia River, the land adjacent, fish and wildlife and even the possibility of the loss of human life to the detriment of job development. He stated that he believes we need to look to the future and not the past as a way of developing Port Westward.

Granted, there will be further hearings on today's disastrous vote to allow the rezoning of Port Westward. However, even more important — there will be future elections.

We can continue to replace the people who have been in office way too long and those who are elected to just go along with the "good old boy/girl" system. Like Commissioner Tardif said in his election bid, "if you can't accomplish something in 20 years, you need to move on."

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

Contract Publishing

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