Water Under the Bridge

The USO building, built in 1942, still sits at the foot of 17th in Astoria.

10 years ago this week — 2008

The landslide that hit First and Commercial streets in Astoria in January 2007 began moving again about a month ago — slowly, almost imperceptibly — according to Astoria Public Works Director Ken Cook.

Unfortunately, financial aid for permanent infrastructure fixes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been moving at a similar speed.

But city leaders are optimistic the pace is picking up. Unsuccessful the first time they appealed FEMA’s decision to deny funding, they are hopeful a second appeal filed last month will do the trick.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not going to ask NorthernStar Natural Gas Co. to resubmit its permit application for the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas project.

And that’s fine with the National Marine Fisheries Service, according to a letter sent Friday.

The action has LNG opponents worried that NMFS might have been under political pressure to change its position.

A beloved urban trail has been renamed to honor a beloved Astoria citizen. A new sign will proclaim The Richard Fencsak Cathedral Trail.

Fencsak is very ill and has done a lot of work in the community and on the city’s trails, said Astoria City Manager Paul Benoit before the Astoria City Council’s unanimous vote Monday in favor of the name change.

“He loves those trails so much. I’ve never met anyone in my life who glories in nature so much,” said Fencsak’s wife, Arlene Layton, in an earlier interview.

Fencsak, who owns Bikes and Beyond in downtown Astoria, has been a longtime contributor to The Daily Astorian. He wrote a column on outdoor sports and later became Coast Weekend’s restaurant critic, earning the affectionate moniker, “Mouth of the Columbia.”

50 years ago — 1968

A bronze plaque commemorating establishment of the nation’s first community television cable system in February, 1949, will be erected in Astoria Column park as result of permission given by the city council Monday night.

The plaque was given the city six years ago by National Cable Television association, through Gov. Mark Hatfield.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the project, overriding objections of Councilman Roy Duoos, who felt the plaque was commercial in nature and “completely out of place” in the column park. He favored forbidding all plaques there except those connected with the column and local history.

Councilman Bill Wilson said he understood the first TV antenna was on the J.J. Astor hotel, but that he saw nothing wrong with the marker in the column park.

Clatsop County’s largest agricultural income crop, the production of mink pelts, is facing a marked decline.

Marvin Hille, manager of Oregon Fur Producers, said five mink ranchers in the county have gone out of business during the past year. This means a loss of 3,000 breeding females to an industry, which boasted 24,000 female mink in January, 1967.

The mink industry began in Clatsop County in the early 1930s and showed a steady increase until last year. A steady decline in price per pelt has been noted in some colors since 1956.

Foreign imports of pelts have cut deeply into profits of the domestic mink rancher, Hille said.

Secretary of State Clay Myers, followed by a swarm of Portland press representatives, came here Thursday morning to see the $1 million Pacific Riviera development at the mouth of the Necanicum River which suddenly has found itself the center of a storm of unwanted publicity upstate.

Myers, a member of the State Land Board by virtue of his office, said he was concerned about the problem of possible damage to clam beds and about possible infringement on the Land Board’s rights in managing submerged and submersible lands.

75 years ago — 1943

Contrary to reports about the city Saturday, Astoria meat markets are open today. For the most part, however, the butchers are busy with other things besides selling meat. Said one representative market man, “Yes, we’re open; and we have a few smelt and a bit of meat — what you see there on the show case. We have to answer the phone and be here to tell people we haven’t what they want, you know, and it’s always possible that some rancher might bring us in something.”

“What’s the answer? Well, I wouldn’t know,” continued another. “It looks like a shortage of help on the ranches, to me. How else can you explain the diminishing returns in the Portland stock yards. They’re not getting in more than half the cattle, sheep and hogs they did a year ago up there with an additional 100,000 people to feed. Yes sir, it looks bad.”

Astoria’s Fighting Fishermen last night pulled a typical Astoria basketball trick in coming from behind in the second half to blast Tillamook on the Cheesemakers’ floor, 38 to 28. The win was Astoria’s 10th consecutive victory, with no losses, and gives the Fishermen two legs on the district No. 10 championship.

Bob Duke is the author of the weekly Water Under the Bridge column in The Daily Astorian. Contact him at beachduke@gmail.com

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