CANNON BEACH — Concerned about the safety of students at Cannon Beach Elementary School, the City Council is hoping to meet with members of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization to discuss whether the students should leave the school and attend Seaside schools instead.

While considering alternatives in the event of an earthquake and tsunami during a work session Tuesday night, the Council requested that City Manager Rich Mays ask Seaside School District Superintendent Doug Dougherty and PTO members to meet with the Council. Dougherty is also the principal of Cannon Beach Elementary School.

“I am very concerned about the children and the construction of the school,” said Councilor Melissa Cadwallader. “What’s going to be the impact on the kids after an earthquake?”

Cadwallader and other councilors wondered if parents knew they could request that their children be transferred to another elementary school. Dougherty told The Daily Astorian last week that parents only had to ask to have their children transferred to Seaside schools, and it would be allowed.

He said the other schools had the capacity to absorb all 84 students attending Cannon Beach Elementary.

The Council discussion came during a review of the Cascadia Preparedness Forum presented last month. Although about 50 people attended the forum, the city received only 15 comment cards. Many of them expressed concern about the students.

The Council is considering a proposal to build a pedestrian bridge or replace the existing bridge across Ecola Creek to enable students and others to reach higher ground quickly to avoid a tsunami.

But councilors worried Tuesday night that the school buildings might collapse in an earthquake and prevent the children from escaping. The city’s building official, Mark Brien, said in a report last year that the school’s 50-year-old structures are “nonfunctional” and need to be completely upgraded or torn down.

Although another emergency forum is not planned immediately, Mays said the evacuation alternatives being considered, including the bridges and a tsunami evacuation tower, are posted on the city’s website at


 Public comments also can be posted there or emailed to city councilors.

The Council also discussed the recommendations made by the city’s Tourism and Arts Commission for allocating $215,000 in lodging taxes to local nonprofit organizations.

The funds will support a variety of arts-related projects designed to attract overnight visitors.

However, Mayor Mike Morgan objected to some of the proposed allocations that would pay for marketing and public relations for the events. Many of the events already are well established, Morgan said.

He questioned a recommendation of $29,000 for a yoga festival, asking whether yoga was an art. He also asked about the Savor Cannon Beach culinary arts event.

“I personally would like to see more funding going into fine arts rather than ancillary arts, like yoga and the culinary arts,” he said. “The funding also seems heavily weighted toward PR and marketing for the Coaster (Theatre), the chamber of commerce and the Gallery Group.”

At one point, Morgan suggested that, if most of the funding was going to be spent in marketing that the money be given to the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce to market every event.

At that, Carol Hungerford, incoming president of the chamber board, noted that the request submitted to the arts commission was “crafted specifically to help with other events.”

Although the chamber requested $96,000 to support a marketing director’s position and destination marketing efforts, the arts commission recommended only $33,000.

Councilor Wendy Higgins, who displayed some magazines with stories about Cannon Beach, noted that marketing efforts done by the chamber as well as individual organizations resulted in more attention to the town. She said more people stayed at the Ocean Lodge, which she manages, because of the publicity.

“We’re farther ahead than we were two years ago (before the arts commission was established),” Higgins said. “More people know about Cannon Beach, and more people are coming. That’s a positive.”

Funding for other events, including a literary weekend, which received $13,000 and a winter concert series, which was allocated $5,000 should be “bumped up,” Morgan said. Both events will be sponsored by the Tolovana Arts Colony, and Morgan has played a background role in both events. Arts Commissioner Val Ryan also helped to plan the literary event but didn’t vote on the commission’s recommendation to fund it.

“I don’t think you can run a literary event for $13,000 and that’s as valuable as a yoga event,” Morgan said. “If it means shaving off some of the other events, that’s OK.”

The Council, however, did not send the recommendations back to the arts commission. A final review will be done by the Council when it meets in a formal session Nov. 1.