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More Info Revealed on YamCo Trail
Staff and commissioners pressed on, despite losses

Rogue Commissioners and Yamhill County Staff spent many years and millions of dollars attempting to build a bike path on an abandoned rail line.

The latest in the saga of the illegal Yamhelas-Westsider Trail involves the public disclosure of 37 emails between various County staff, Commissioner Casey Kulla, Oregon Department of Transportation officials, watchdog Oregon Department of Justice officials, several leaders of Friends of the Yamhelas-Westsider Trail, plus former Commissioners Primozich and Olson. The public records requested emails hit the inbox of Yamhill County Commissioners late Wednesday, April 21st. The emails are all very damning, if not incriminating.

To review, the project was declared illegal with four remands by the Land Use Board of Appeals. Later, LUBA issued a Stay of Construction and finally awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiff costing the culpable County over $47,000. The Department of Justice issued a warning against improper actions, but they were ignored. County Counsel Todd Sadlo, loser every time he paraded before LUBA, took on the role of dragging out the process while others plotted various end runs. Commissioner Kulla played the role of propaganda minister making up stories for hundreds of cycling enthusiasts, KOIN television reporter Hannah Lambert, the local paper, County staff, ODOT and the Chehalem Parks and Recreation Department. He was aided in fabricating stories by grants coordinator Carrie Martin. Ms. Martin put a happy face on failures to perform so that grantor ODOT would relax their demands and indulge County incompetence. She reworked the numbers when necessary to derail actions detrimental to the conspirators cause.

ODOT, for their part was very lenient, only becoming more insistent after millions had been spent outside the scope of the grants. The County Administrator, Ken Huffer, acted as cheerleader encouraging his staff’s endeavors. Citizen action was most enthusiastic from Phil Higgins, Wayne Weibke and Steve Wick all backed by the ever-present wallet of Ken Wright. Realizing they were likely doomed, Commissioner Kulla plotted a desperate attempt to acquire the cycling Trailhead property.

That involved an attack on the family business of Steve Belt, a long-time respected businessman in the area. Action by Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer put a necessary pause to those shenanigans. But the staff followed Kulla’s lead unquestioningly, revealing the fatal weakness that exists in staff leadership. Emails between staff members show they truly believe their talking points and rationalize the legal ruling against them as, well, as illegal.

An investigation of staff by disaffected parties outside of Yamhill County government is needed.


--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-04-21 18:23:15Last Update: 2021-04-22 10:07:33



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