Reuse of Harbor Paper materials saves PUD over $460K in clean-up costs

In spite of its demise and demolition, Hoquiam’s Harbor Paper mill is benefiting several projects in Grays Harbor and surrounding counties.  In fulfilling its clean-up and demolition responsibilities, the Grays Harbor Public Utility District has worked with state, county and city offices to find cheaper alternatives to the costly landfill disposal of thousands of tons of sand ash, a bark/rock mixture and the concrete remains of the mills wastewater treatment facility.

When the PUD first examined the clean-up of the mill site, the estimated final cost to demolish the treatment facility and dispose of tens-of-thousands of tons of waste materials was over $10-million.  Working within the guidelines set by the Department of Ecology and Grays Harbor County Health Department, Special Projects Manager John Pellegrini was able to find less costly ways to responsibly utilize those materials, in most cases reusing the materials on current and future projects.

“This is an example of innovative thinking being used to work a problem and arrive at a solution benefiting multiple parties,” said PUD General Manager Dave Ward.  “Our Special Projects Manager was asked to value engineer every portion of our clean-up work at Harbor Paper.  As a result, we came up with beneficial uses for tons of materials that saved the PUD money and aided several other projects.”

The alternative methods of disposal include:

  • Working with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to have over 15,000 tons of sand ash declared a registered fertilizer.  As a registered fertilizer, the sand ash was marketed to over 30 customers for land application in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Mason, Lewis and Thurston counties.
  • Working with the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Ecology, Mason County Environmental Health, and Grays Harbor Environmental Health to have 20,000 tons of bark/rock mixture deemed acceptable for use as organic material for the surface mine reclamation project in Mason County.
  • Partnering with the City of Aberdeen to utilize over 10,000 tons of recycled concrete aggregate from the wastewater treatment plant.  The processed concrete material will be hauled by contract drivers to locations in the City of Aberdeen for use as ballast on future projects.


The alternative uses of the Harbor Paper site materials will allow the PUD to save an estimated total of over $460,000 in landfill tipping fees.  The PUD will be responsible for the yet to be determined cost of transporting the materials from the mill site.


Under its agreement with Rayonier Properties, LLC, the PUD is obligated to clean and remove the facility’s water treatment system and remove solid byproducts including the basin sludge and piles of bark/rock mixture, sand ash, and boiler grate material.

Montesano man in custody after brief high-speed chase

A 23-year-old Montesano man is back in custody after a high-speed chase from Hoquiam into Aberdeen. Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers tells us the man was at Grays Harbor Community Hospital for an evaluation when Aberdeen police received the report that he had left. Hoquiam Sgt Mitchell spotted a suspicious vehicle that had been reported near an auto dealership on Simpson Avenue just before 3 pm Wednesday. Mitchell reported that the vehicle sped off at a high rate of speed into Aberdeen as he approached. When the Ford pickup rounded the corner from Simpson Avenue onto Park Street it rear-ended an SUV. Myers reports no injuries to either the man or the driver of the vehicle he struck, but the damage disabled his vehicle enough that he put it in reverse and drove into the parking lot near another dealership and struck a U-Haul truck. At that point Mitchell was able to pin the truck and make an arrest with the help of responding officers.

23-year-old Derek Robecker was in Grays Harbor County custody this morning for multiple charges dating back to the summer of 2014.

Myers said it appears that he had just been released that morning, left the hospital and stole a truck from a parking lot near the Grays Harbor PUD. From there it appears he attempted to break into a home on Aberdeen Avenue but was confronted by the homeowner, fled back to the truck, and was then spotted by Mitchell.

On Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at approximately 1435 hours, Aberdeen PD was advised of a subject who had walked away from Community Hospital; he was apparently at the facility pending a mental health evaluation. A passerby later reported giving the subject a ride from the top of the hill down to the area of the Dollar Tree.

At 1445 hours, Sgt. Mitchell was dispatched to a car lot in the 2700 block of Simpson Ave for a report of a suspicious person who had just arrived in a blue and gray older model Ford pick-up. The subject had quickly exited the truck and jumped a six foot-barb wire fence into a nearby alley. Sgt. Mitchell checked the registration on the truck, which returned to an older gentlemen from Copalis Beach; the description of the driver did not match the owner.
Sgt. Mitchell and other Hoquiam officers checked the area in an attempt to locate the subject to no avail. Sgt. Mitchell returned to the car lot a few minutes later to find the male sitting in the truck now parked on the sidewalk. As Sgt. Mitchell pulled over, the suspect rapidly accelerated out into traffic, nearly striking the patrol car. As the suspect entered Simpson Avenue, he lost control of the truck, nearly striking a passing car.
Sgt. Mitchell activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the pick-up. The driver accelerated and weaved back and forth between both lanes of Simpson Avenue around other traffic at a high rate of speed. The sergeant was forced to slow for heavier traffic in the 3000 block, but the pick-up driver avoided traffic by driving down the parking strip and then up onto the sidewalk.
Upon entering the city of Aberdeen on Simpson Avenue, the driver weaved from sidewalk to sidewalk around other traffic. The suspect approached Aberdeen Corporal Snodgrass parked on the side of the street intending to deploy spike-strips to stop the truck; the suspect passed by the patrol car at a high rate of speed, only missing the side of the car by inches.
The suspect entered the corner from Simpson Avenue onto Park Street whereby he lost control and apparently struck the rear of a green Jeep in traffic ahead. The pick-up sustained damage to the left front corner, apparently making it difficult to steer.
Sgt. Mitchell attempted to cut-off the pick-up, but instead the driver threw the truck into reverse and careened across both lanes of traffic, over an adjacent grass strip and into the corner parking lot near the old middle Swanson’s store. The driver continued in reverse until he struck the corner of an unoccupied U-Haul truck.
Sgt. Mitchell used his patrol car push-bars to pin the side of the truck to prevent the driver from trying drive off. The suspect, a 23-year Montesano man was pulled from the truck and taken into custody; he was not injured. The occupants of the green Jeep were checked by Aberdeen Fire Department, but apparently were not injured. It was determined the suspect arrested from the pick-up was the same person who had earlier left the hospital.
Officers discovered the pick-up had been stolen from the parking lot of the PUD office during the time-frame after he had left the hospital. Unfortunately, the truck owner had left his keys in the ignition when he went inside to pay his power bill.
Hoquiam officers were later advised the same suspect had forced his way into a home in the 2700 block of Aberdeen Avenue in Hoquiam between the time he stole the truck and led Sgt. Mitchell on the pursuit. The homeowner was concerned as the suspect had been acting strangely and refused to leave, demanding to use the phone. The suspect never made a call and finally left after a few minutes.
Aberdeen PD is investigating the stolen vehicle and related traffic collisions; Hoquiam PD is investigating the trespass at the home and the felony attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle. The suspect was booked at the Grays Harbor County Jail, ironically where he had just been released that morning after serving his sentence on prior offenses. Aberdeen PD and Hoquiam PD are coordinating all the charges against the suspect with the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor.

Aberdeen and Hoquiam students hit the streets for Foodball 2014

The 33rd Annual Foodball Competition begins Friday November 7th in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, and it runs for 10 days until a final weigh-in on November 17th. “It’s always a great event for our community to help support the food bank,” Aberdeen School Superintendant Tom Opstad reminds parents and drivers, kids will be out combing the neighborhoods collecting donations of non-perishable food or cash.
Each dollar is worth ten pounds of food in the friendly competition that Aberdeen has let Hoquiam win for the past four years.
For the past two years Aberdeen and Hoquiam have collected a combined total of over 1 million pounds of food which is then donated to Coastal Harvest who distributes it to local food banks. The final weigh-in will be held at 5 pm at the Grays Harbor PUD on November 17th.

While Foodball may be a friendly competition between schools, the real winners are those in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. All of the food and cash will be donated to the Coastal Harvest Food Distribution Warehouse for local families. Coastal Harvest also delivers food to over 50 food banks, senior centers, tribal centers, and feeding programs across Washington.

Raines leads on election night, along with Incumbent Democrats in 19th and 24th

Preliminary numbers for the November General Election are in, Elections Supervisor Katy Moore tells us with over 15,000 ballots counted so far, Grays Harbor County voter turnout is just over 41%. “We’re hoping to get to 18, or 19-thousand by the time that we certify the election, which is November 25th.”
With ballot drop boxes being returned Tuesday night, and some ballots still in the mail. Moore said the tightest race is for Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda holds 620 more votes than Mike Spencer.

Vickie Raines holds a strong lead in the race for Grays Harbor County Commissioner “Right now Vickie Raines is currently in the lead with 8,577 to Keith Olson 5,817.”

Dan Lindgren is holding a strong lead over incumbent Rick Hole for the Grays Harbor County Assessors position, while Grays Harbor PUD incumbent Commissioner Russ Skolrood is leading over John Straka.

An Excess levy for ambulance Services in Fire District 17 that covers Humptulips/Axford Prairie appears to be passing.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer is leading over Marty McClendon, while incumbent Dean Takko leads over David Steenson, incumbent Brian Blake leads over Hugh Fleet, and incumbent Steve Tharinger leads over Thomas Greisamer

In Pacific County, they’re looking at closer to 51% voter turnout so far, incumbent Commissioner Lisa Ayers is leading over Michael Hess. Incumbent County Prosecutor David Burke is trailing challenger Mark McClain by over 1100 votes. and Incumbent PUD Commissioner Mike Swanson is holding on to a strong lead over Joe Basil. (BASE-UL)

Pacific County is also passing an EMS Ambulance fund.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler lead over Bob Dingethal, and incumbent South District Court Judge Douglas Goelz is leading over Nancy R. McAllister.

No injuries, minor damages after small electrical fire at North Beach High School

A small electrical fire at North Beach High School this afternoon apparently started in a motor used to move the wall in their gym. The Ocean Shores Fire Department reports they responded after 1 P.M. Tuesday to the report of smoke at the school. The Grays Harbor PUD also reported a power outage in the area at the same time. Ocean Shores Fire crews checked the area and found only minor damage to the motor, no injuries were reported. The Grays Harbor PUD restored power just after 2:30 today.

Phone scammers continue to target Grays Harbor PUD customers

The Grays Harbor Public Utility District is again warning customers to be aware of a phone scam in which callers are posing as PUD employees and threatening to shutoff the customer’s power, unless they immediately pay overdue accounts.

PUD Chief Financial Officer Doug Streeter says the PUD has received several reports from businesses and individuals who have received calls from people claiming to be employees of the PUD.

“Scammers continue to target customers of many businesses, including the Grays Harbor PUD,” said Streeter.  “If you receive a call demanding immediate payment, please do not give the caller any information.  Instead you should hang up and immediately contact PUD Customer Service at (360) 532-4220.  Under no circumstances should you make a payment of any kind to callers without first checking to see that they are legitimate representatives of the PUD who can verify your account information and exact amount of money you owe.”

This is the latest in a string of phone scam attempts involving the PUD and other businesses.  Law enforcement agencies say their offices have received similar reports of callers claiming to represent television and phone providers, public utilities and magazine companies, demanding immediate payment.  Other scams include forged bills and parking tickets left on cars and in mail boxes.  Recipients of such fraudulent calls and mailings are advised to first contact company officials to verify the claim and to contact the office of your local law enforcement agency.

Intermittent SR 12 closures scheduled for pole replacement work

All lanes of State Route 12 east of Aberdeen at Baila Dip will be closed intermittently between 10pm on Thursday, Aug. 28th and 4am on Friday, Aug. 29th.  The closures are part of ongoing line maintenance and pole replacement work by Grays Harbor PUD line crews.

The intermittent closures will be between milepost 1.6 and milepost 2.07 and are expected to last 10 to 20 minutes each.  Drivers are advised to use alternate routes during the impacted time.  The closures will not impact Thursday evening or Friday morning commutes.

House mover to save Olympic National Park chalet

An historic Olympic National Park lodge teetering on the edge of the Quinault River should be moved next month before it falls into the water.

The park has awarded a $124,000 contract to the Monroe House Moving company of Carlsborg to move the Enchanted Valley Chalet to safer ground.

The Peninsula Daily News reports ( most materials will be packed in by mule because the site is in a wilderness area. The park service will provide a helicopter for big equipment.

The chalet is located 13 miles from the nearest road. It was built as a backcountry lodge in the 1930s, before the creation of the park. More recently, it has been used as a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter.

The Grays Harbor PUD has announced a planned power outage in the South Beach area that will impact about 5,000 customers from the Ocean Spray facility in Markham west to the ocean beaches and south to Tokeland.

The outage will start at 10PM on September 11, 2014 and is expected to last until 6:00 AM on September 12.

Grays Harbor PUD announces planned South Beach outage

The Grays Harbor Public Utility District has announced a planned power outage which will impact PUD customers in the South Beach area of Grays Harbor County.  The outage will begin at 10:00 PM on September 11, 2014 and is expected to last until 6:00 AM on September 12.


The outage will impact all Grays Harbor PUD customers after the Ocean Spray facility in Markham west to the ocean beaches and south to Tokeland.  In all 4,837 Grays Harbor PUD customers will be impacted.


During the outage, multiple PUD crews will replace three transmission poles and one distribution switch in addition to carrying out substation maintenance work.  This is the fourth planned outage undertaken by PUD crews this summer, as the District strengthens its infrastructure by replacing aging poles and carrying out line and substation maintenance.


In preparation for this outage, customers are advised to take precautions with any electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, and microwaves by unplugging those items.  You should leave them disconnected until after the power has been fully restored.


The outage time of eight hours is only an estimate and power could be restored at any time as work is completed.  Therefore, it is not safe to do electrical work or repairs during that period of time.