Friday, December 17, 2010

..Gravel foes ask Lewis to bow out..

Published: December 15, 2010

Of the News-Register

Yamhill County Commissioner Leslie Lewis will be facing a new controversy when the Baker Rock hearing re-opens Jan. 6. Opponents of the company's application to mine gravel on 175 acres on Grand Island have filed a letter - now part of the official record - asking Lewis to recuse herself in the case.

Portland lawyer Ralph Bloemers of the Crag Law Center filed the letter Thursday. He cited Lewis' Dec. 2 admission that she had independently visited some reclaimed gravel sites in Salem, which he equated to potentially prejudicial ex parte contact.

In the letter, he wrote, "While I would like to give Ms. Lewis the benefit of the doubt, her testimony on behalf of the applicant plainly demonstrates that she is either unable or unwilling to objectively evaluate this proposal.

"For this reason, I see no alternative but to respectfully request that Ms. Lewis step down from deciding this matter before a decision is reached ... that prejudices the substantial rights of the local residents, farmers and property owners who will be significantly and negatively affected by the proposed quarry on Grand Island."

While he termed Lewis' comments "testimony," they were not offered as such. She made them during a part of the hearing reserved for commissioners to disclose any ex parte contact they might have had.

For example, Commissioner Kathy George noted that she had received an e-mail after an earlier installment of the hearing from opponent Kris Bledsoe.

George said she did not reply. She said she simply forwarded the message to County Counsel Rick Sanai.

Lewis' disclosure went this way:

At the first installment in the hearing in November, wetlands biologist Craig Markham testified that mine sites reclaimed as wetlands, proposed for this one at the end of its projected 30-year life, don't always turn out as well as companies promise. He cited a set on Highway 22, near Salem's Oregon State Correctional Institution, as an example.

Lewis disclosed at the Dec. 2 continuation that she had since driven to the site to get a first-hand look. But she actually ended up at another reclamation site, near Lowe's Home Improvement Store, that the Salem Chamber of Commerce had helped turn into a park.

She described the scene as a pleasant natural setting hosting a wide variety of activities.

Lewis did not offer a direct opinion of her own, but her description left the audience with a positive impression and served to introduce information into the hearing record that neither side had introduced on its own.

Bloemers latched onto that aspect, saying, "The opponents of this application are entitled to a hearing before an impartial tribunal. This means county commissioners should not be conducting their own investigation in support of or in opposition to either party."

He cited a 2007 Land Use Board of Appeals case that dealt with the issue. In that case, a city council member independently investigated the case before him, as well as attacking opponents in the newspaper and elsewhere.

The state Land Use Board of Appeals found that with one of the arbiters of the issue collecting evidence and drawing opinions from it, opponents had not gotten a fair and impartial hearing.

However, in that case, the conduct was much more extreme that anything Lewis has been accused of.

In an attempt to remain impartial, Lewis said, she has gone so far as to avoid reading any newspaper coverage of the issue. However, she said on the advice of the county counsel's office, she could not comment on the merits of the recusal request itself.

Bledsoe submitted a letter of concern of her own. Though she stopped short of joining in the call for recusal, she took a sharply critical approach.

"It appeared that she was attempting to discredit the testimony by looking for errors," Bledsoe said of Lewis' Dec. 2 remarks. "She spent an entire afternoon looking at former rock quarries in an effort to testify on behalf of Baker Rock."

Bledsoe closed by saying, "I sincerely hope that Commissioner Lewis can rise above her biases and give this application hearing the true quasi-judicial review that is appropriate."

Under Oregon land use law, Bloemers can use his request for Lewis to recuse herself and the precedent of the 2007 case in an appeal to LUBA if the commissioners ultimately vote to approve the Baker Rock application.

Oregon law requires parties to raise any such legal issues prior to the decision, and Bloemer's letter serves that end.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

..Gravel industry fuels GOP coffers..

..Flurry of contributions come with contentious gravel hearing looming..
Of the News-Register

Yamhill County Commissioner Leslie Lewis, poised to vote next month on a hotly contested gravel mining proposal from Baker Rock Resources, sought and obtained a series of gravel company contributions last month for the county's Republican Party coffers.
She said they were for an election-eve voters guide touting the party's local legislative state and gubernatorial candidates-and possibly an ideologically compatible in a nonpartisan county commission race.
Though term limit rules prevent Lewis from running again, she also accepted a $1,000 contribution from one of the firms, Meisel Rock Products, to her own campaign fund.
She said the company is headed by an old friend who simply wanted to help her pay off about $10,000 of her $20,000 in campaign debt-the part not owed to her family business. She said it was not related to either the pending gravel mining application or the Republican Party voter's guide project.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, the GOP recorded a $1,000 donation from Baker Rock itself. It was intended for the voter's guide project, according to President Todd Baker.
On Monday, Sept. 27, the ostensibly nonpartisan county commission campaign of Mary Starrett-not a Republican, but a kindred ideological spirit who has been embraced by local Republican officials-recorded a $1,000 donation from the party.
If she succeeds in ousting two-term incumbent Mary Stern, Starrett could end up voting on the Baker Rock proposal in some form.
However, local party leader Dale Stepper said the timing was coincidental; there was no link. He said it should be considered a party contribution, not a Baker Rock or gravel company contribution.
In all, four local gravel companies contributed $4,500 between Sept. 20 and 25. Baker Rock and Meisel were joined by Wilsonville Concrete and Kizer Excavating.
The party received only one other business contribution during the period-a $1,000 contribution from A-Dec, a Newburg-based dental equipment manufacturer that traditionally supports Republicans.
However, Lewis said she had solicited contributions from an array of GOP-oriented individuals and businesses for the voter's guide, not just the gravel industry, and significant contributions would be forthcoming from several of them.
She said she has limited her gravel industry contact to Rich Angstrom, executive director of the Oregon Concrete & Aggregate Producers Association, a long-time associate of hers. She said she would not have solicited any of the companies individually, and most certainly not baker Rock.
Commissioner Kathy George, who joins Lewis and Stern on the three-member body, accepted $4,000 from Meisel for her campaign for re-election in the may primary. At that point the Baker Rock proposal had not reached the planning commission level.
State records indicate gravel interests had not offered her any campaign money since. She confirmed that by phone, adding,"If they had, I would not have taken it"
George, whose Republican Party ties run as deep as those of Lewis, was not aware at the time that her commission colleague had just accepted a $1,000 contribution from Meisel.
Stern, who was aware, said she had not and would not accept gravel industry money under the circumstances. She termed Lewis's acceptance of such money on the eve of the hearing" extremely inappropriate and very unfortunate for the citizens of Yamhill County who expect and deserve impartiality from their commissioners.
Baker Rock is seeking land use approval for a 174 acre quarry at the south end of Grand Island, a local area of sustainable and organic agriculture. That has stirred strong opposition from both environmental and agricultural interests.
Lewis, George and Stern-whose Democratic party affiliation often leaves her the odd person out and has spurred Lewis to campaign ardently for Starrett-are set to open the climatic public hearing on the proposal Nov. 10. That will set the stage for a widely anticipated showdown-but one coming post-election.
Were Starrett to be elected Nov. 2, she would be involved in any future proceedings involving resubmissions or remands stemming from the appellate process.
Baker said the donation and land-use proposal were not related.
He said he was encouraged to give the local GOP $1,000 for it's voter's guide by Angstrom, in his capacity as head of the industry trade association. He said he was not trying to funnel money to starrett or any other candidate, nor had he to his knowledge.
Angstrom said the association had no intention of supporting Starrett either. He said it often supports Republican-affiliated candidates, but only at the state level, where its aim is to influence the makeup of legislation and the Legislature.
He said Lewis had approached him about the project and he had decided the association should get on board.
Stepper said both the flurry of gravel company donations and the party donations to Starrett were coincidental in their timing. He said there was no ill intent in either case.
He said the party had been seeking, and is expecting donations from a range of business interests for the voter's guide project. He said it opted to donate to Starrett-even though she has been sharply critical of the Republican party in her previous capacities as national director for the libertarian-leaning Constitution Party-because it likes her conservative ideology.
Just last year, Starrett said in an online post on News with Views.
"Ive been searching high and low for any signs the RNC has kkowtowed to the conservatives in the party. I can't find one. What I did find was a long list of the party's sellouts of that'right wing' on amnesty,border security,bailouts,spending,guns,abortion,free speech,civil liberties,national sovereignty,industry killers like NAFTA and GATT and the federal takeover of education, to name a few.
"Meanwhile, it seems the left is softening towards the GOP because GOP is softening on the issues. Soft, in this case is not good."
Stepper said that didn't bother him. At the state and national levels, Republicans have not done a good job including true conservatives, he said.
That's not the case in Yamhill County, he said. Starrett's brand of staunch conservatism ideology resonates with local Republicans, he said.
Meisel Rock's $1,000 contribution to Lewis came on Sept. 20, state records show. It was made in the company's name, even though Lewis termed it a personal contribution from the company CEO Lloyd Town.
The next day, Meisel and Kizer Excavating each gave $500 to the county GOP. Wilsonville Concrete gave the party $500 on Sept. 23 and Meisal and Baker Rock each gave $1,000 on Sept. 25, records show.
Lewis said she did not even consider it awkward, let alone unethical to accept campaign money from a local gravel company with a contentious gravel hearing looming. She said she took strong offense at any suggestion.
She said she is prepared to absorb the portion of her campaign debt owed to her family business, but hates to leave a good faith outside lender in the lurch.
In this case, that would be George Advertising, owned by colleague Kathy George and her husband, Gary. State records indicate George Advertising is virtually her sole creditor.
Lewis said she doesn't like to have any debt, either business or personal, so it troubles her as she nears the point of being termlimited into political retirement. She said Town was simply a longtime friend sympathetic to her plight.
She said it's hard for a non candidate to raise money in an election year, so she wasn't inclined to pass up Town's offer. She said Meisel and Baker Rock are staunch competitors in the marketplace, so Town certainly didn't have Baker Rock's interests in mind.
She said the donation would have no effect on her neutrality and objectivity in the hearing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

....McMinnville Food and Farm Forum....

hope you can attend along with a friend or two!

McMinnville Food and Farm Forum
Hosted by Friends of Family Farmers and Slow Food Yamhill
Date: Tuesday, September 28th, 6-8:30pm
Location: McMinnville Community Center, 600 NE Evans Street, Room 103
6-7pm: Meet & Greet with an opportunity to write down questions
7-8:30: Panelists consisting of candidates for House District 24; Susan Sokol Blossor and Jim Weidner will answer questions written by the audience and posed by a Moderator.

Slow Food Yamhill County is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness, availability and access to locally grown food.

For questions about Slow Food or an upcoming event please contact me via email to this address or telephone at 971.237.3953.

for Slow Food Yamhill County

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


..The Baker Rock Mining Application Hearing has been postponed again..The new date is November 10th at 1:00PM at the McMinnville Community Center..This gives us more time to prepare and more time to make more people aware of our fight..Keep the cards and letters flowing in to the Yamhill County Planning Board..Hope to see ALL of you there..Thanks..

Tuesday, August 31, 2010



Sunday, August 29, 2010

..Oregon Agriculture is adaptive, renewable, sustainable and efficient..

..The crops and commodities produced will change over time in response to market signals, technology, and consumer demand. Witness the rise in production of nursery products, wine grapes, grass seed, blueberries, and other specialty crops in the past decade even as there has been a decline in acreage devoted to vegetable crops, strawberries, hops, garlic and other specialty crops.
..Aricultural production provides us with a source of renewable food, fiber, fuel, and medicine...and if the land is protected and properly managed it will continue producing into perpetuity.
..Ariculture is one of the most constant and stable economic engines our economy has, while also producing many ecolgical and community benefits. More than 1,800 farms in Oregon have been operated by the same families for over 100 years. There is no other industry in the state with that type of sustainable, long-term record of operation. Properly managed, agricultural soils can continue producing crops, livestock, fiber and other materials, and proving carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, open spaces and other amenities critical to human subsistence and enjoyment for generations to come.
..Agriculture efficiency is another factor that has increased dramatically over time and will undoubtedly continue in the future, making any measure of future productivity based on a single point in time a simplistic approach. Today the average American farmer can feed as many as 130 people, compared to 27 in 1950. Developments in technology, agronomy, water conservation, hybrid seeds and other applications make agriculture a continually evolving and effective means of generating more output (economic activity) and in increasingly environmentally friendly ways, on existing farmland. A recent study demonstrates that productivity growth over the 1947-1985 periods accounted for 82 percent of the economic growth in agriculture, compared with only 13 percent in the private non-farm economy. Moreover the rate of productivity growth over this period in agriculture(1.58 percent) was nearly four times the corresponding rate in the private non-farm economy(o.44 percent. Efficiency also means the consumer in the USA spends less time earning enough money to buy food than in any other country in the world at any point in history, on average, less than 9% of disposable income goes for food in the United States. Countries that have small production bases relative to population and which import large portions of their food supply pay significantly higher prices. Loss of farmland is not without a price. Retaining a viable agriculture base is a long-term investment in food security and economic sustainability of a community and a nation.
..History has shown that agriculture lands can be productive year after year and increasingly so at an accelerated pace. It would be a mistake to minimize agriculture's future contributions to society as being of little or no value due to analysis on a constant time value of money with a constant income stream i.e. the same amount of income year after year. Oregon agriculture is not stagnate. Land in agriculture production is renewable, perpetual and adaptive. Oregon's agriculture industry has a history of growth. Annual increases in productivity spurred Oregon's agriculture total output to grow from $428 million in 1964 to $3.8 billion in 2004: a 788% increase! That equates to an annual increase of 5.61% compounded annually.

Friday, August 20, 2010

....Sunday Tours....

Grand Island tours: Educational tours of Grand Island to the site where Baker Rock Resources wants to establish a rock quarry will be held from 1 to 3 PM Sundays, Aug 22 and 29, sponsored by the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries and the Yamhill County Democrats. Two vans/buses will leave from the parking lot of the Ministries building at 544 N.E. Second St. There is no cost to attend. For more information, contact Liz Marlia-Stein at 503-434-5352

Thursday, August 19, 2010

....Grand Island Tour....

....Mr Sam Sweeny organized a tour of our Island yesterday..We had various guests attend our meeting and all took a guided tour..We had speakers that farm and live here tell them about our concerns with this mining application being allowed to pass and this 3rd gravel pit being allowed to open on our Island..Afterwards we all had a wonderful dinner and had time to relax and visit with not only our guests but our neighbors as well..Thanks everybody for all the time and effort that was put into this tour..

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Margaret Scoggan and Tom Jackson took the stage this week on Frank Nelson's local access tv program Speaking Frankly out of McMinnville to try and increase public awareness of what a jewel our island really is and why it should be saved. It is my understanding the airings are the same week to week.


AUG. 14 AUG. 15 AUG. 16 AUG. 18 AUG. 19 AUG. 20

10:30 AM 7:30 PM 5:30 PM 9:30 PM 10:30 AM 7:30 PM

Watch for them on Comcast channel 11 or Verivon channel 29. Thanks to Margaret and Tom and a big thank you to Frank Nelson for providing a forum for our cause.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Neil Svarverud was interviewed by Frank Nelson of Speaking Frankly a McMinnville local access tv program. Neil spoke in opposion to Baker Rock's plan to open a gravel pit on a large portion of Grand Island. The program aired on Aug. 7th, 8th and 9th and will air again on ..............................
Aug. 11th at 9:30 pm
Aug. 12th at 10:30 am
Aug 13th at 7:30 pm
If you get local access Comcast channel 11 or Verison channel 29, tune in. Thanks Neil you did a fine job.

Friday, August 6, 2010

..Recent e-mail to The Yamhill County Planning Dept..

....It's seems our planning dept has no answers for us about this question..What kind of "pumps" are not listed anywhere in Baker Rock's application, nor were they even considered or added to their DEQ Noise Study that was submitted with their application for a zone change..Kerrie G. Standlee of Daly-Standlee & Associates ( they did the noise study for this application ) wrote..:In responce to your question about a dewatering pump, yes a dewatering pump could influence the ambient noise level in your area and the amount of sound generated by such a pump could depend on whether it was electric or diesel powered."


I have forwarded your question on to the applicant. It would also be a good question to ask at the hearing. Ken Friday

From: []
Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2010 10:54 AM
To: Ken Friday
Subject: question/Baker Rock application

..Mr. Friday..Since I am sure that your office has read and studied the app, maybe you can answer my question or direct me to the part of the app that covers this..What does Baker Rock intend to use for pumping out the water from the mine cells..Are they using an electric motor or Diesel motor for their pumps..And will these pumps be running 24 hours a day..How many gallons per minute will they be pumping out?..Please place this e-mail into the formal record for the Commissioners Hearing for this application..Thank you..Margaret Scoggan

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

....The t-shirts are ready....

....We have t-shirts for sale to promote our cause..They are 8.00 and 10.00 ( for xl sizes). They have the web site on the back and our new logo on the front..To order just send me an e-mail to and tell me what sizes and how many you would like and we will get them out to you right away if you are local..We will also mail you one if you are from far away..We just have to add the postage..Thanks everybody..

Sunday, July 18, 2010

....Questions for the County.??.

..This is the Yamhill County Tax Lot Map. You can see how large lot 5326-600 is. I live on tax lot #5326-700, so you can see why I oppose this zone change from Goal 3 farm use to Goal 5 mineral use. Also note the boundary lines for the tax lots. Do you see the lot next to #5326-600, the one without any lot #.? Do you also notice that this land is being farmed.? Being rented out by Baker Rock to a farmer, with no tax-lot, does this mean that Baker Rock is paying taxes on 174 acres but renting out more.? I don't know, maybe you should ask the County.? I got these photo's from Yamhill County's Planning Dept.'s web site.

....Dayton Car Show....

....The Veterans are hosting a BBQ and Car Show in the Dayton City Park today from 10-3..Please come out and support our Vets..Also look up Keely as she is taking pre-orders for our t-shirts..Thanks..


....There will be no Community Meeting this week do to various family vacations,ect..The next meeting will go on as planned..July 28th at 7PM at the Unionvale Church..7 miles south of Dayton on Wallace Road..We hope to see you there..

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

..Latest Update..

..It's seems as soon as the Commissioners hearing was scheduled for the Baker Rock Mining application, it has now been cancelled and is set to be held "sometime" in September. We don't have a date yet, and really no explanation as to why it has been postponed. This doesn't mean that we can rest in our war,this just gives us more time to prepare for the battle. We are not going to sit by and let Baker Rock or Yamhill County treat us like our lives and homes and farms don't matter. We need to intensify our efforts in sending letters, e-mails and phone calls to let our elected officials know that enough is enough. We will no longer stand by and let them make decisions that effect peoples lives without thinking or caring. Every taxpayer in Yamhill County has a stake in this fight. You will be the ones to pay for the repair of our roads and the replacement of our bridge. You will bare the cost of rising food prices when there is no longer anymore local farms to grow and supply your food. We Islanders invite you to come out and drive to the southern end and see for yourselves just how large this piece of Prime Willamette Valley farmland is that Baker Rock wants to gobble up. And don't forget to write your letters, make the phone calls, send your e-mails and let our commissioners know that we care, even if they don't.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Update on Tonights Community Meeting

Joining us for our meeting were Rep. Jim Weider, who attended so that he could learn more about the serious issuses we Grand Islanders are facing. Rep. Weidner, who grew up in Yamhill county and stated he had spent alot of time on the Island in his youth also took a short tour of the Island after the meeting was over. Also attending were his chief-of-staff and Mary Starrett, who is running for Yamhill County Commissioner in November. Mary has been interested in our plight for some time now.We were glad to have them all join us. The group discussed ways to promote our cause. Neil made a great flyer and Katie had the postcards ready, along with the stamps to mail them with. If anyone wants any flyers to pass out let me know and I will get them to you. Also contact Katie for the postcards. If you would like a 2 square foot magnetized sign for your car or pickup or tractor the cost is $10. Beth is taking care of that. We also discussed having t-shirts made for people to wear at the Commissioners Hearing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

....The Record Has Been Opened....

Yamhill County Commissioners have opened the Record and are now accepting letters and written comments concerning the Baker Rock Mining Permit. Baker Rock wants a zoning change to be allowed to open a third gravel pit on 174 acres on Grand Island. Let your voice be heard on this important issue..Please write to our commissioners.. Mary Stern..Leslie Lewis..Kathy George..Submit written testimony to the Yamhill County Planning Department (525 NE 4th St, McMinnville, OR 97128) — remember to reference the quarry application number: PAZ-01-10/WRG-01-10..We are also holding another Community Meeting on Wed. July 7th, 7PM at the Unionvale Countryside Church on Wallace Rd. 7 miles south of Dayton. Mary Starrett will be joining us for this meeting..

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grand Islanders raise rock quarry concerns

of the News-Register

Much of the testimony against Baker Rock's proposal to mine gravel on Grand Island spoke to the power of the Willamette River: the power to flood, to shift, to surprise.
But that Baker Rock proposal has shown a power of it's own; to unite, to light a fire of opposition.
Members of the Grand island, Dayton, and Unionvale communities met Wednesday at the Unionvale Countryside Church to discuss the possibility of a gravel quarry on the Island and what that could mean for their farms.
The event was organized by farmer Sam Sweeney, a member of the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District; Ron Schindler, a Grand Island organic farmer; and Kris Bledsoe, Grand Island resident and chair of the Yamhill Basin Council.
More than 40 people, who ranged from seasoned old-timers to Casey and Katie Culla's son, Rusty, about 6 months old, to everyone in between. Politicians from both sides of the aisle were represented and Jim Johnson came from the state Department of Agriculture to discuss the issues surrounding gravel mines on farmland.
Citizens concerns varied but touched on common issues. Many worried about traffic. They said gravel trucks would clog the narrow Island roads and damage the already-worn bridge that connect the Island with the rest of Yamhill County.
Island residents said they had always considered their community a safe place for children to play and people to walk, but intense quarry traffic would jeopardize that peace. They said the narrow bridges particularly worried them.
Baker Rock had proposed putting up "narrow bridge" signs, which complies with the Oregon law, but most residents said that wouldn't be enough to eliminate safety hazards.
Water also raised concerns.Some people said the mining operations could draw down the groundwater table that provides the well water.Others worried mining could exacerbate the prevalent flooding on the Island.
Baker Rock hired Colorado geomorphologist Chris Lidstone,who testified at the May and June Planning Commission meetings and said neither groundwater levels or flooding patterns would be affected.He said the mine was designed to work with the existing water behavior,not change it.
But the most overwhelming concern was the cumulative impact an approval of the application could create.Another quarry,owned by Bernert Towing,was approved on the Island in 2004,and citizens worried that the entire Island would systematically be taken over by quarries.Gravel deposits likely exist under the entire land mass.
Johnson,who has worked in land use planning for 30 years said the number od acres of farmland in the Willamette valley shrinks every year.He said gravel quarries have a lagal advantage over other uses when it comes to taking a plot of farmland.
Most applicants seeking to rezone cultivated Exclusive Farm Use tracts need to justify an exception to Goal Three,the farmland protection goal in Oregon land use guidelines.And Goal Three exceptions are hard to come by.
But that won't be the case here,as mining fulfills another of Oregon's land use planning goals-Goal Five_which encourages development of mineral and aggregate resources.
However,Johnson told the crowd to keep fighting.He cited a 2003 case in Lane County in which the Lane County commissioners denied a gravel quarry based on it's potential negative impacts to farming.
Lane county Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes said the farmers in that case were very organized.He said they brought in experts,economists from the University of Oregon and two lawyers to argue the case.
Vorhes said the expert testimony ultimately swayed the Lane County commission.
Johnson encouraged the crowd emphatically."You can win this," he said.He said the land use process is as much political as legal.
Bledsoe said it was "probably guaranteed" commissioners Kathy George and Leslie Lewis would vote in favor of the quarry.She said both have received campaign donations from Meisel Rock Products.
Bledsoe lost campaign bids against both Lewis and George in 2008 and 2010,respectively.
But the rest of the political clout in the county seems to be falling on the side of the Grand Island farmers.
Rep. Jim Weidner,R-Yamhill,whose chief of staff attended Wednesday's meeting,said,"I'm concerned about the impact on available farm land,the property rights of existing operating farms in close proximity to the proposed mine location,and the strain placed upon the bridge by large truck traffic.
His oppnent,winemaker and Democrat Susan Sokol Blosser,attended the meeting and said she fully supports the farmer's cause.
"The cornucopia of diverse crops on the Island represent the future of our local agriculture and present an opportunity for new families to grow the fruits and vegetables that are the bounty of our county,"she said."There are other places that gravel pits can go.There is only one Grand Island."
County commissioner candidate Mary Starrett said she hasn't made up her mind about the application.She said she has talked to county Planning Director Mike Brandt and understands the facts of the case.She said she realizes the need for gravel,but also has serious concerns about the quarry's impacts on traffic,quality of life and the neighbors ability to farm.
Her opponent Mary Stern,could not comment because the application will soon appear in front of her,George and Lewis in a quasi-judicial capacity.
The next morning after digesting everything discussed at Wednesday's meeting,event organizer Sweeney summed it up this way:
"To see their Island carted away in large,noisy,belly dump trucks is a horrible thought.But also to realize that their families and livelihood will be altered forever by a consumptive industry only caring about it's bottom line is angering,frightening and devastating."

Friday, July 2, 2010

..The Record has Been Reopened..

....Yamhill County Commissioners have opened the Record and are now accepting letters and written comments concerning the Baker Rock Mining Permit. Baker Rock wants a zoning change to be allowed to open a third gravel pit on 174 acres on Grand Island. Let your voice be heard on this important issue..Please write to our commissioners.. Mary Stern..Leslie Lewis..Kathy George..Submit written testimony to the Yamhill County Planning Department (525 NE 4th St, McMinnville, OR 97128) — remember to reference the quarry application number: PAZ-01-10/WRG-01-10..We are also holding another Community Meeting on Wed. July 7th, 7PM at the Unionvale Countryside Church on Wallace Rd. 7 miles south of Dayton. Mary Starrett will be joining us for this meeting..

Thursday, July 1, 2010

....Bravo To The Yamhill County Planning Board....

..The Planning Board of Yamhill County voted 5-2 this evening to deny Baker Rock's app to mine gravel on Grand Island..They sited various reasons for going against the advice of the planning staff which was to approve the permit.. They showed great courage and wisdom in taking all the evidence into consideration before casting their votes..We here on Grand Island and the surrounding community wish to thank them for their fairness and attention to this very important matter..This however is just the first step in the process, we still have to go before the commissioners and plead our case..We are prepared to fight this to the end, doing whatever is necessary to stop this continued destruction of our Willamette Valley farmland....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

....Notice of Community Meeting....

Farmers’ Concerns

So, what’s the big deal? There are many real issues at stake here beyond simply “Not in My Backyard” type of stuff. Here are the concerns that some farmers on the island have about yet another quarry being approved on Grand Island:

Traffic on Grand Island roads — The traffic report included with this application only takes into account current traffic use. However, a quarry has already been approved on the north end of the island with similar volumes of truck traffic, thus potentially doubling the new increased truck traffic on island roads and bridge.

Island bridge performance — There is only one route on and off the island: the narrow bridge on the west side of the island, built many decades ago for use by farming vehicles. There are continued concerns about the long-term bridge performance given the proposed increase in heavy truck traffic from three large operating quarries. Dozens of farm business and residents rely on this bridge for their continued livelihood and farm practices. Significant for people beyond Grand Island — if the bridge fails because of gravel quarry truck traffic, who will pay to fix it? Should the tax paying citizens of Yamhill County have to pay?

Bridge visibility & safety — The current Grand Island bridge is too narrow to allow two gravel trucks to pass at one time. The application proposes that trucks would visually check for oncoming traffic and only one truck would be on the bridge at a time. However, the curves at the top and bottom of the bridge make it impossible to see oncoming traffic until on is actually driving on the bridge, creating a real potential driving hazard for frequent use by wide gravel trucks.

Floodwater movement — Given Grand Island’s history of unpredictable and damaging flood waters, there is continued concern that even a minor shift in floodwaters could negatively impact farms or residences on the island. Quarries disturb ground and can lead to significant shifts in water movement. In 1996, 17 quarries in western Oregon were “captured” by rivers, meaning that they (and adjacent properties) became a permanent part of the main channel. Here on Grand Island, farmers are worried that disturbing the ground at the south end of the island (upstream from everyone else) could cause the island to be cut through by the Willamette along what is currently a seasonal waterway, Sutter Creek. This could cause irreparable damage to many farms along Sutter Creek and potentially increase the unpredictability of any future flood events. In such a scenario, who would be liable for the permanent losses to farms and individuals?

Dust — Several properties adjacent to the proposed site and/or along the truck route produce fresh market fruits and vegetables. Keeping those fruits and vegetables clean is an integral aspect of these farms’ practices, and there are concerns about the potential dust created by the operation itself and the high volume of gravel truck traffic on the road. Also, studies have shown that dust can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of agricultural sprays and also the photosynthetic capacity of leaves (thus reducing yields and impacting plant health).

Impact on nearby wells — There are many shallow irrigation and residential wells near to the proposed site. Farmers and residents are concerned that the quality and quantity of the ground water could be negatively affected by the mining operation.
Insufficient studied “impact area” — Once again, given that the site is upstream from the rest of the island, some farmers believe that the studied “Impact Area” in the application is too small to be accurate. The application only considered properties within 1500′ of the proposed site rather than any property downstream or along Sutter Creek.

Loss of farmland — Since this is the third large quarry proposed on Grand Island, there is a concern among farmers about the continued loss of prime farmland. According to the Yamhill County Comprehensive Plan, section F (Economic Development): “The economy of Yamhill County is largely based on agricultural and forestry related industries” and “Yamhill County will encourage economic development projects which do not conflict with the predominant timber and agricultural character of the county” (emphasis added). Agriculture represents a sustainable, long-term economic base that can provide jobs into the future. Grand Island is uniquely suited to successful agricultural ventures — good soil, good water, close to infrastructure and markets. The island is currently home to dozens of diverse thriving farm businesses, many of whom are constantly evolving and expanding their operations. Expansion of operations is a common and necessary farm practice and requires the continued availability of suitable farmland in close proximity to existing farms. The loss of any farmland on the island represents the loss of future opportunities for farmers today and tomorrow.

Lack of demonstrated market need for aggregate — Yamhill County Zoning Ordinance 404.90 (MR Zone Change Criteria) part A reads that approval of a zone change shall be based on the following critera: “That a sufficient quality and quantity of mineral resource exists at the proposed site to fulfill a market need” (emphasis added). The application does not make the case for a market need for said resource, especially given that a larger mining site was approved in 2004 but has yet to be developed. And a smaller mining site was approved but has been shut down by Baker Rock because of problems with flooding and erosion of the site.