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Welcome to the past issues of The Back Fence 2009

Sept. 4 2009
Welcome to the Back Fence. This is my corner for chit-chat and all the gossip that’s fit to print, something like the little weekly column I once wrote for a local newspaper.

Since writing my final column, my Swan Song, so to speak, many of my readers have come up to me and thanked me for my news about Bay City and the folks who live in it. Here, I propose to continue trying to keep you informed, just not in print. Look for my Back Fence every week or so, though at this formative stage in my new publishing venture, I can’t say which day a new Back Fence will appear.

This has been a busy summer, and it’s hard to believe that it’s over. As I’ve said more than once, we need to have summers with more weekends.

Sharline and I were really flummoxed when we read our most recent water bill. Would you believe, we used more than 14,000 gallons last month? And we don’t even have a swimming pool. At least, not that either of us know about. Our water bill had been creeping up each month, but neither of us gave it much thought. Just forked over the cash without question while the City smiled all the way to the bank.

You know, Sharline and I had marveled at that one spot of vibrant, lush, green grass in our back yard, especially since we never water our lawn — or what passes as our lawn. Well, since that was precisely the spot Joe, my son-in-law, and I had repaired a leak five years ago, I figured that was a pretty good spot to look for another leak. I dug down a little bit, and found the pea gravel in the old hole with was pretty wet.

Clark Plumbing to the rescue! They arrived at precisely the time they said they would, and finished the job in just 30 minutes. When the plumbers dug down a bit, they were greeted by Old Faithful, sans steam. Once the water valves on both ends were secured, the repair went off without a hitch. When Joe and I made a similar repair five years ago, it took us almost the entire day. But we enjoyed each other’s company between cuss words.

Sharline and I were becoming quite concerned, because we hadn’t seen our usual deer for several weeks. It seemed as though they had abandoned us. Perhaps the blackberries were bigger and riper elsewhere. But, happily, several days ago when I came home from the store, I was greeted by a very handsome buck and his doe. And they were certainly scarfing down on our blackberries. Eat heartily, little friends, but remember, when you leave your calling cards, leave them somewhere else. We don’t want all those fertilized berry seeds lurking like a time bomb in our front yard.

 

My best wishes to Judy Wadley, Bay City’s Postmaster, on her recent birthday. I learned is was her birthday when I found Vicki sitting in for her Thursday, Sept. 3. Vicki said Judy and Glen were off celebrating. By coincidence, Sept. 3 also happens to be my brother’s birthday. Seems he experienced a low blood sugar episode while driving his son, Timothy, to dinner in Stanardsville, VA. So, right now, he’s sporting a neck brace and resting comfortably at a rehabilitation center. Happily, his broken neck vertebrae didn’t produce any neurological injuries.

As I have written previously, we’re looking forward to celebrating our Bay City centennial in 2010. It will probably be in September or early October. The county clerk, on Sept. 2, 1910, tallied the vote count and declared that the voters in Bay City, all 48 of them, had agreed to incorporate. The city charter was formally adopted Dec. 22 that year.

On September 25, about 2 p.m., Helen Wright will call the first meeting of the Centennial Celebration Committee to order at City Hall. She has a ton of ideas for the celebration, so we’ll be hitting the ground running.
One more thing. Judy, our birthday girl, Mark Taylor and I are working on getting an Information Kiosk built along the north property line in the post office parking lot. If we’re successful, Bay City residents will once again have a place to put up their notices about lost dogs, cats and kids. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s about it for this week. I’ve gone way beyond the 440 words I was allowed in my former journalistic career. See you next week over the Back Fence.

Sept. 15, 2009

We’re making progress. When the Tillamook postmaster outlawed community notices on the windows of the post office, it took away a place for Bay City residents to post information about craft sales, lost pets, missing kids, bake sales, or whatever.

But a plan evolved from a conversation between Judy Wadley, our local postmaster, and Linda Vining, president of the Bay City Boosters. Then, along came Mark Taylor, Bay City’s factotum and master of all trades — sort of. How about putting a community information kiosk at the edge of the post office parking lot? The more they kicked it around, the better it sounded.

On Sept. 15, the City Council gave its blessing to the idea of putting up an information kiosk, subject to the City Attorney’s determination whether it will be necessary to obtain a setback variance from the Planning Commission. And, should that be necessary, the Council agreed to waive the application fee. Of course, Judy and I would have to recuse ourselves from deliberating on the variance, since we’re both on the Commission.

In any event, I see a community information and news kiosk in Bay City’s future. It will be located next to the sidewalk and against the fence along the north property line. There will be a roof to keep some of the raindrops off. Mark will donate his labor to build the kiosk, and we’ll get some donations to buy the materials. The bulletin board will be protected by two locking glass doors, to which Postmaster Judy will have the key. Anyone posting a notice would have to get the key from her.

We’ll have a policy on how long a notice may remain posted, probably two weeks or the day following an advertised event. I’ll monitor the bulletin board for new notices and date them. And, I’ll post some one-liners trumpeting the latest Bay City news. And, of course, you can get the full story right here.

 

I’d like to welcome Barbara Phelps as Bay City’s new Fencepost writer. She came into the newspaper office and volunteered to write Fencepost and cover the Council meetings. Good luck on your new venture, Barbara. You’ll find it interesting and enjoyable.

And speaking of enjoyable, congratulations to Chuck Bartholet on that lunker 30-pound Chinook salmon he caught Saturday at the Ghost Hole. He said he was going to smoke it. Linda Vining said her husband, Pat, has done well fishing in the bay, but he fishes on the far side. However, she told me, Pat got skunked Sunday. That’s because it was the 13th, Pat.

It looks as if one of the unfinished houses on Portland Ave. may soon be sold. Sharline and I will certainly be glad to see those unfinished houses completed and occupied. Those empty buildings are little more than an attractive nuisance right now. They are the sad product of our recent economic downturn, when credit tightened and construction came to a screeching halt.

I hope things pick up soon and we start getting some bucks flowing and people working. I fear for our City finances this fall, when the tax revenues come in. Our tax receipts may be a bit skinny this year, with people out of work and unable to pay their property taxes. The City can’t spend money it doesn’t receive, no matter how carefully crafted its budget might be. Keep your fingers crossed.

And that’s it. See you next week over the Back Fence.
John Sollman

 

Sept. 23, 2009

“What fools these mortals be,” mused Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. And that guy was right on the money. In our modern society, even the most simple, well-intentioned deeds are fraught with all sorts of hidden bureaucratic perils. And we do it to ourselves. And, to my eternal shame, as a member of the Planning Commission, I’m a part of it.

What started as a simple plan to put up a community information kiosk next to the post office has become ensnarled in a red tape Gordian Knot. The City Council was very supportive of having a venue for the kiosk where many in Bay City come almost daily to collect their mail, buy stamps, or visit with Judy Wadley, our postmaster. We thought we had the consent of the property owners involved — David Seed for the property to the North, and Brian Clark for the post office property — as well as a site plan and a conceptual drawing of the kiosk.

The City Council OK’d the idea, subject to the city attorney’s determination whether we had to go to the Planning Commission for a setback variance. And, as I fully expected, Lois Albright, our city attorney, ruled that the ordinance required a variance and therefore a hearing before the Planning Commission. But the City had greased the skids for us in waiving the required fee.

So far, so good. Minor complication, but nothing insurmountable. All I had to do was fill out the request for the setback variance and get the post office building property owner to sign it. Well, it turns out that Brian doesn’t own the 10-foot strip along the property line with the Seed property to the North, where the kiosk is to be built. Brian’s property description includes only the South 40 feet of Lot 12 in Block 4; lot 12 is 50 feet wide.

So, who owns that 10-foot strip? Good question. The tax records show Rhonda Lane, Norman Rucka and David Rucka as the owners of the strip. I understand that Rhonda is deceased, so it would appear that the two Ruckas each own half. Maybe.

 

 

My challenge, impossible as it may seem, is to contact the Ruckas and explain that we want to put up a community information kiosk on their strip next to the post office, because the postmaster in Tillamook no longer allows posting of community notices on the post office windows. Then I must secure their permission, and, finally, get them to sign the application for a setback variance and public hearing before the Planning Commission. But to do that, I must first have a phone number. Now, that will be the granddaddy of all cold calls! Absent a phone number, I must write a very convoluted letter explaining our plight. You know, it was much easier 100 years ago, when you could seal a deal with a handshake.

Sadly, public notice requirements make it impossible, now, to get a hearing earlier than the November meeting. We can’t make the newspaper deadline to publish notice of an October hearing 20 days in advance. We might possibly have made that deadline had Brian actually owned that strip, as we all thought he did.
Before I forget it, the Bay City Boosters begin their new business year Friday, Sept. 25. Potluck goes down at 11:30 a.m. The meeting starts when we’ve all eaten our fill. Everyone is welcome.

Following the Boosters meeting, at 2 p.m., there’ll be a meeting of area business owners and others interested in planning the Bay City Centennial Celebration, set for late summer or early autumn in 2010. Coincidentally, the Port of Garibaldi, originally the Port of Bay City, also celebrates its centennial next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll do a couple of things together.

And that’s it. See you next week over the Back Fence.
John Sollman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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