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For the fourth year in a row, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with America's State Parks to offer free guided First Day Hikes in state parks across Oregon on New Year's Day. Information about the special hike to take place in Oregon Coast parks is below.

These same details, along with directions to the park, are available on the Oregon State Parks website--go to bit.ly/OPRDcalendar online and search for "First Day Hikes" under Event Category.  Participants should dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water as well as a camera or binoculars for wildlife viewing. In case of inclement weather, the park should be contacted directly to find out about cancellation.  Read more to see participating parks. 

It was Willis Van Dusen's last council meeting as Mayor of Astoria last night. Before a packed house the six-term Van Dusen said he has been part of some really great teams and accomplished much for the town over his time as a City Councilor and Mayor. He said that what he has personally enjoyed most are the many friendships he has gained that would not have been possible if he hadn't served in the office. City Attorney and former City Councilor Blair Henningsgard presented the Mayor with a custom designed bobble-head figurine depicting the Mayor riding his beloved Harley motorcycle which drew some good natured laughter from the audience. Mayor-Elect Arline LaMear presented Van Dusen with a city plate and engraving marking his service. It was also the last meeting for Councilor Karen Mellin who was honored for her four years of service. The Mayor presented Mellin, who he admitted he called "melon-head" behind her back not knowing her friends called her that nickname all her life, with a city plate and noted that the engraving has a typo saying Mellin served as city councilor through the year 2104 instead of 2014. She was delighted and said the mistake makes it collectable as well.

The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a settlement agreement with the owner of the Sunset Lake RV and Mobile Home Park designed to end a lengthy stand-off over multiple county code violations, including overcrowding and unpermitted construction.  The agreement requires the owner, Ken Hick and his company Resources Northwest, Inc., to reduce the total number of dwelling units to 43, the number stipulated in a 2012 compliance order, within 90 days, and to pay $5,000 to offset the county's costs. In return the county will drop a lawsuit filed against Hick in 2013 to force compliance with the order, but only if full compliance is reached within 180 days.

Sunset Empire Transportation District's Board of Commissioners approved the appointment of Mitch Mitchum to the District Board at their December 11th meeting filling the District's Commissioner #7 vacancy from August 2014.

On December 12, 2014 Astoria Police arrested 35 year old Astoria resident Bruce Bemisdarfer on charges of Rape II. Bemisdarfer was arrested near 14th and Kensington where he was located by Astoria Police Officers.

Clam diggers will get another chance to dig some fresh razor clams for the holidays during an opening Dec. 19-23 at several Washington beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the opening after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

On December 3, 2014 Astoria Police were notified of a burglary and theft from Pier 39. Through video of the events at Pier 39, Astoria Police were able to identify the suspects in the case as 36 year old Astoria resident Keaton Huff and 34 year old Julie Brownfield. Astoria Police contacted Huff and were attempting to work to get the property returned in exchange for not taking him to jail immediately. Huff did not follow through on his promises to return the property.


The board of commissioners approved contributing up to $7,000 to fund an independent technical review of a new flood study released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency identifying flood areas in Clatsop County for the purpose of flood insurance coverage. County staff told the board that due to a data anomaly, the new maps give a higher base flood elevation and place many inland areas within the "velocity zone" flood designation, which would result in new, severe restrictions on development if the maps are adopted without change. The cities of Astoria and Warrenton and Port of Astoria will also contribute to the technical study, which is estimated to cost $15,000 to $20,000.

A proposed ConnectOregon V project for Astoria that didn't make the first cut gets another look by the State Transportation Commission.

After considering input from the public at a hearing in July, 2014 and reviewing a large volume of written comments, the Oregon Transportation Commission approved 36 multimodal projects from around the state for $40,369,189 in funding, provided by the ConnectOregon V program. The Port of Astoria won a grant for $480,000 to upgrade runways at the regional airport and The Columbia River Pilots won a $949,608 grant for their proposed Columbia River clearance project.  Because the commission disagreed with staff over selection of one of the proposed projects in St. Helens there is some extra money available.

The 2015 Clatsop County Cultural Coalition grant recipients have been selected. Each year, approximately $8,000 is made available by the Oregon Cultural Trust to Clatsop County Cultural Coalition to fund projects in art, music, humanities, and heritage in Clatsop County. An awards ceremony for the 2015 grant recipients was held Wednesday, December 10th at the Butterfield Cottage, Seaside Museum and Historical Society, Seaside. 2015 grant recipients gave brief presentations on their projects and received their award checks. Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Blanche also performed.

Following their repeated calls to ensure the safety of residents in coastal areas, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici today announced the Congress has passed legislation that will keep the U.S. Coast Guard's air facility at Newport open through the coming year.

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