Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
September 19, 2012     The New Era Paper
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September 19, 2012

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Page 8 V tJR C '_C MMIIEtlTV ~llt iEra - September 19, 2012 From page 1 largest pocket of residents affected by the railroad's demands. "This is not my fight. This is all of our fight. We don't think it is right for them to charge us to go to'our own homes. "They can put liens against my prop- erty and put barricades up," he said. "They can knock themselves out. We'll organize a big rally. I speak for people like Shirley Trahan, who don't have the ability to fight for themselves." The crew from KVAL TV had visited Trahan's home Tuesday, Sept. 11, where it had filmed a report on Trahan's concerns over the letter. Cameraman Bill Goetz and reporter Lauren Lee were back Wednesday after Albany & Eastern officials took issue with the fact that KVAL personnel were standing on the railroad right-of-way when they filmed the story Tuesday. "They made it clear that we could be prosecuted for being on railroad property," Goetz said. Wednesday they stayed well way from the actual crossing, filming angry residents farther down Trahan's driveway. Neighbor Leena Neuschwander said she moved onto nearby property owned by her grandmother, Ethel Ellis, right about the time the first of three letters, sent by the company to some of the residents, arrived in March. She said the first two letters arrived a week before the company held an informa- tional meeting on March 22 at the Sweet Home Community Center. About 40 people attended that meeting, at which some voiced concerns over the railroad's plan to charge the fees. Most of the neighbors at Trahan's home on Sept. 12 said they had only received one letter - the latest, dated Aug. 30, 2012, and the fee was news to them. Neuschwander said it appeared the company sent the initial letters to land- owners it had been able to identify by that point. "It's outrageous," said Joe Brocard, who operates an apple orchard at 28095 Santiam Highway. "How the hell can they shut your crossing off when I pay taxes to the county? The assessor doesn't have any trouble finding me." Cornell said last week that he had "no comment" on the crossings. He said Albany & Eastern was preparing a written response, but as of Tuesday morning, Sept. 18, The New Era had not received that document, despite a phone inquiry as to its status. During the March 22 meeting with residents at the Community Center, Al- bany & Eastern General Manager Mark Photo by Scott Swanson Shirley Trahan, who lives across the railroad tracks from Highway 20, talks with a TV reporter in her front yard as neighbors watch. Russell said a letter had been mailed to but he said that when he contacted County the rails to level two. Parts of the rails cur- some residents outlining the permit re- Commissioner Roger Nyquist to ask abolit rently fall below the lowest classification quirements. He said at the March meet- the situation, Nyquist sided with the railroad, and speeds are limited in some places to ing, and area residents said last week, that saying it was the residents' responsibility to as low as 3 mph. When complete, the track some people along the railway have agree- pay for maintaining the crossing because the will allow speeds of up to 25 mph. ments with Burlington Northern-Sante Fe road is not up to county standards. The project is largely funded through a Railroad, which owned the rails until the Nyquist told The New Era that Coun-Connect Oregon III grant through the Or- late 1990s. Some of them have even made try Lane is one of "500 to 1,000" similar egon Department of Transportation using payments as late as 2011, Russell staid, small developments in which developers set Oregon Lottery dollars. The state is paying He said then that questions regarding the aside one parcel for access and deed it to for approximately $2.6 million out of the $4 $600 fee were still being resolved and that the county, but do not improve it to county million estimat sed cost, which involves re- Albany &Eastern had a request in to BNSF standards. Thus, those lanes and driveways placing ties and crossings. A&E has already and property owners for information on are not part of the county road system, even completed work between Albany and Leba- those permits, though the county owns the land. non and Lebanon and Mill City. Cornell declined to answer a reporter's He said some property owners have Cornell said the company is hoping questions, which included inquiries into the formed local improvement districts to up- to attract industry to Sweet Home with the status 0f those information-gatheringefforts grade their access roads to county stan- railroad improvements. "There's a lot of by Albany & Eastern. dards, which have then been included in the prime real estate in that area that could be Martel said a related issue for the 10 county road system, developed," he said. "Our vision is to build residents of Country Lane is who actually At the March 22 meeting, Russell said the railroad, develop sites, and bring indus- owns their road and the condition of the the 70 miles of rails now owned by Albany try and economy to Linn County." railroad crossing there, which he described & Eastern have been neglected for about 50 Martel and others termed the rebuilding as poor - frequently flooding during rainy years, project as a "railroad to nowhere" seasons, even after it was repaired after the The company has been involved in a "I understand economic development," crossing washed out completely in 1997. project, at an estimated cost of $4 million, Martel said. "I'm all for it. But why would He produced a county document stat- to improve the track and raise the Federal you impose those penalties on US in this in- ing that the gravel road is county property, Railroad Administration classification of fant stage?" Veterans home groundbreaking Thursday The Oregon Department of Vet- care to veterans, their spouses and erans' Affairs and the city of Leba- Gold Star parents," said ODVA Di- non will join forces for the official rector Jim Willis. groundbreaking of the state's new "The home will be built using a 154-bed veterans' home at 1 p.m. small house model, which creates a Thursday, Sept. 20. small community for residents and Officials from the ODVA, state staff and is abig departure from other legislature, city of Lebanon, Linn traditional skilled nursing homes and County, and others will break ground similar assisted living facilities." on the new $30 million project. The new 154-bed facility will "Once complete the new veter- be built on 12 acres adjacent to the ans' home will offer long-termskilled Samaritan Health Sciences Campus nursing care, rehabilitation services, in Lebanon. andAlzheimer's and memory related The project's contractor, Lease We want you to be part of our Harvest Festival Saturday, October 13th at Sankey Park. Contact Community Development - 541-367-8113 Crutcher Lewis of Portland, will be- gin site work by October, which will include the site utilities, temporary roads, parking areas and establishing the building pads. Funded by federal grants and lo- cal matching funds, the new home is expected to open in late-2014. Willis said the home will employ about 200 people including admin- istrators, medical staff, custodians and bus drivers. "We will also need many, many volunteers," he said. The new home will increase the total number of veteran beds in Or- egon to 305. For more information regarding the project, contact ODVA's project manager, John Osborn, (503-) 373- 2023.