BANDON - The Port of Bandon has discontinued its 30-year inmate work program. The unanimous decision was made at the Port Commission meeting on Feb. 28.
Port General Manager Jeff Griffin said the Shutter Creek Correctional Institution program has been problematic for the Port for a few years. According to Harbormaster Bob Shammot, the cost of sending a person to pick up the inmates each day, plus the cost of maintaining the van used for transportation, insurance and other costs do not pencil out for the Port.
In addition, the number of inmates released to work has decreased, so the Port has been picking up a crew of about four men each day. Shammot said the inmates that come to the Port each day are often not skilled workers, and when inmates are finally trained to do needed work around the facilities, they are transferred to another prison or released.
"We listed out the costs and want a discussion of where we want to go from here," Shammot told the commission. "It's getting to the point where the program may have run its course."
Griffin said he has examined the Port's budget and said the money is there to hire two full-time workers instead, at an hourly wage to be determined, to assist the Harbormaster in his duties at the Port. Shammot is retiring and a new Harbormaster is coming on later this month.
Griffin said the inmate release program has been a good one for the Port and with their help over the years, the Port has been able to accomplish many things it wouldn't have been able to do without considerable expense. He said Port staff who work with the inmates can keep up their required training and in the future the Port could occasionally utilize a larger crew for bigger projects, such as brush clearing.
"I think the Port has done a great job with the inmate crew, but it's changed," Griffin said. "Maybe we can achieve the same goal in a different way."
The commission unanimously approved the hiring of two full-time skilled laborer positions at an hourly rate to be determined and instructed Griffin to investigate options to continue working with Shutter Creek with on-the-job training opportunities.
"I hate to lose the program," said Commissioner Rick Goche. "I know how valuable it's been to the inmates."
The commission also was presented with a PowerPoint by Brain Johnson of PND Engineering detailing three options for the Marina Redevelopment Project. Johnson asked the commissioners which option they preferred so the company can do a 30-percent design, which is needed for the Port to apply for the proper permits and funding for the project.
The project involves a complete redesign of the marina, including replacing treated wooden pilings with concrete ones and constructing new docks and gangways. The new design will likely accommodate more slips (there are currently 84 slips) and will allow for larger vessels to tie up to a transient dock when they occasionally come to port. The commission tentatively decided on a design, but asked for more details before they committed to one. The new marina project will be completed in phases and the costs have not yet been determined.
The commission also heard from Griffin regarding the proposed ADA fishing pier. The plan is to widen and lower the current fishing pier to make it ADA accessible. The pier is located between the crabbing docks and the marina, leading just off the Port's High Dock. The ADA fishing pier would be located on the west side of that structure. The Port has applied for a $200,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for the project, which is estimated to cost just under $800,000, which includes 30 percent in contingency funds. The Port will have to allocate $96,000 plus $30,000 in-kind monies and will seek other grants from Oregon State Parks, the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, The Ford Family Foundation and the Oregon Wildlife Fund, among others.
"I think if we keep working on it we might be able to get close to our goal," Griffin said.
Port Commissioner Reg Pullen said while a new marina is important, he's not sure future fishing opportunities will be as available as they have in the past. But an ADA accessible fishing dock would be a great benefit to Port users.
"An ADA accessible dock would be used by a large number of people desiring of opportunities to fish who can't now," Pullen said. "But I think we can accomplish both goals."
The commission voted unanimously to have Griffin allocate $100,000 in next fiscal year's budget for the ADA fishing pier project. It will take about 3-5 months to complete, and it is hoped work can begin next November or December.
In other business, the commission:
- Though asked to reconsider their previous motion, decided not to change the new fees charged for vendors of the Old Town Marketplace. Several vendors were at the meeting and asked the commission to lower the larger booth fee. Both booth fees were raised by a commission vote in January by $5 per day, from $15 to $20 for 5x10-foot booths and from $20 to $25 per day for 10x10-foot booths. In addition, a $1 and $2 per-day fee was added to vendors who choose to keep their booths up during the week when the market is closed. One person at the meeting said she felt the fees were not fair for those with larger booths.
- Learned that Lori and Barry Osborne have purchased the former Watson Seafood Market in the Old Town Marketplace and will offer fresh seafood as well as meats and other items.
- Announced that Commissioner Rick Goche will travel with former Commissioner Robin Miller to Washington D.C. later this month to lobby for small port interests.