The Astoria Police Department is close to being fully staffed for patrols again.
Mayor Arline LaMear swore in the department’s two newest officers at a City Council meeting Monday night.
Andrew Murray and Levi Winfrey bring the total number of officers up to 15. The department is authorized for up to 16 officers and Interim Police Chief Geoff Spalding plans to begin recruiting for the sixteenth officer soon.
Murray and Winfrey still have months of police academy and field training with other Astoria police officers ahead of them before they will begin patrolling the city on their own. Spalding estimates it will be summer before the men can work solo.
Murray was raised in Astoria, serves in the Air National Guard and previously worked on tugboats. He also studied fire science at Clatsop Community College.
Winfrey was raised in Tillamook and also studied fire science. He is an Army Reserve sergeant and has worked as a volunteer emergency medical technician and firefighter in the Banks and Tillamook areas.
Spalding joked that though both Murray and Winfrey have fire backgrounds “they made the right choice” to pursue careers with the Astoria Police Department.
In other business, the City Council …
• Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce for planning and engineering assistance. The city’s Community Development Department has used CREST’s planning services over the past decades.
A memo from City Manager Brett Estes noted that with all the changes in the department right now — Estes is serving as interim director while the city searches for a replacement for former Community Development Director Kevin Cronin — “there has been a need for additional support for staff reports to the Planning Commission and for minor administrative permits.”
CREST will provide up to 10 hours of planning services per week, according to the agreement. The city will pay a rate of $60 per hour for the work.
• Finalized a modification of city code to allow Astoria High School students to park at Tapiola Park. The school is experiencing increased demands for student parking and the parking lots on school grounds are at capacity, Estes wrote in a memo. City ordinances had prohibited students from parking at the park. The modified ordinance will now let people authorized by the high school to park in the lower parking lot during regular school hours. It is up to the school to determine how it will authorize and permit students to park at Tapiola.
- Approved a liquor license for a new bottleshop set to open on Duane Street, Bridge and Tunnel Bottleshop and Taproom. Before the Council voted, Councilor Zetty Nemlowill declared a potential conflict since her husband is one of the owners of Fort George Brewery, a business that distributes alcohol and may do business with the bottleshop in the future.