Bland quits Port

<p>Jack Bland</p>

Interested in serving on the Port of Astoria Commission?

After the recent resignations of Jack Bland and Ric Gerttula, two spots are now vacant, with no applicants on file as of Tuesday. The application period runs through the end of May, and the Port is trying to interview and appoint replacements by June 3.

“Effective immediately, I resign as commissioner of the Port of Astoria,” wrote Jack Bland Tuesday to Interim Executive Director Mike Weston and Commission Chairman James Campbell. “It is with deep regret I take this action, and wish to thank Port of Astoria staff, the state of Oregon, the cities of Clatsop County and in particular, Clatsop County residents and taxpayers for their support and encouragement during my five years in office.”

Bland, who was unavailable for comment by press time, resigned two weeks after Gerttula, who left just before the public portion of the May 6 meeting and officially announced his resignation the following morning. That leaves three commissioners – Stephen Fulton, Bill Hunsinger and Campbell – the minimum requirement needed to reach a quorum and conduct meetings.

“Jack was a volunteer, just like the rest of us for our community,” said Fulton, who along with Hunsinger thanked Bland for his service.

Hunsinger said he knew Bland hadn’t been feeling well, adding that the Port should commemorate his time with the commission in some way.

Bland, a resident of Gearhart, was appointed to the commission 3-1 in June 2009 to replace Kathy Sanders, who resigned the previous month. He could not be immediately reached for comment. Voting for Bland were Floyd Holcom, Larry Pfund and Dan Hess: Hunsinger voted for Chris Connaway. In 2011, voters re-elected Bland, whose term was to last until May 2015.

Damage control

During the Port meeting Tuesday night, Fulton motioned for Campbell and Weston to communicate directly with Mayors Dianne Widdop of Gearhart, Don Larson of Seaside and Mike Morgan of Cannon Beach. The request is in response to their letter to the editor asking the state to reorganize the Port.

“I think we need to respond, because there was so much inaccuracy in what was reported,” said Campbell.

The mayors jointly called for the state to exert pressure on and restructure the Port commission.

“There is too much at stake in the short run to have a dysfunctional public organization managing millions in revenue,” their letter, published in The Daily Astorian May 16, read. “In the long run, perhaps a reorganized Port could start to serve the entire county.”

The Port commission voted unanimously to have Weston and Campbell start communicating with the mayors.

Fulton’s motion came after Pat O’Grady, owner of Warrenton Auto & Marine Repair, took the podium at Tuesday’s meeting and derided what he called continually inaccurate reporting from The Daily Astorian.

“The public deserves better,” he said. “It’s gotten out of hand.”

Of the South County mayors who wrote the letter, O’Grady said he’s never seen any of them at a Port meeting, adding that they’re taking inaccurate information from The Daily Astorian. He added that The Columbia Press, a newspaper based in Warrenton, needs to make a presence at Port meetings.

Up sewage creek

Weston said the Missoula, Mont., Washington Group, which owns the Port’s leased facility at North Tongue Point, in June will present an effort to replace a failing sewer lift station there.

The station belongs to the U.S. Department of Labor, which administers Job Corps, including its center operated by the Management and Training Corporation (MTC) at Tongue Point.

The Labor department, added Weston, wants to abandon the failing station and run its own line to the center. That could leave the Port without sewage to North Tongue Point if the station fails.

The project to replace the failing station, said Weston, could cost $100,000 to $200,000 overall. Washington Group would cover the engineering and planning. The Port might pay that cost back over the duration of its lease, which he added runs through 2019.

As Tongue Point was annexed into the city of Astoria, added Fulton, Weston should speak with the city about where their responsibility ends.

“We’re in the city,” said Fulton. “They’ve got to get rid of our sewage. I think the city of Warrenton has 27 of these things (sewer lift stations) we maintain.”

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