Grant approved for Millersburg intermodal project

Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker approved a $10 million grant for the intermodal-facility project under construction in Millersburg using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act during the Tuesday, Aug. 17, meeting of the Linn County Board of Commissioners.

Board Chair Nyquist said that when the Oregon Department of Transportation commissioners approved providing $25 million for the facility in 2019, they couldn’t foresee the COVID-19 pandemic nor its effects on construction costs and market conditions.

The grant was made to the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corporation (AMDEC)/Linn Economic Development Group (LEDG).

The commissioners agreed that the project was important to the local economy and would allow businesses – especially those that are agriculturally-oriented – to more efficiently move their products to ports and decrease truck congestion in metro areas. It would also allow producers to drop shipping containers in Millersburg to be loaded onto trains for shipment to northern ports.

Linn County was selected in 2019 from an eight-applicant field for the project supported by the Oregon Transportation Commission. A similar facility will be constructed in Nyssa in eastern Oregon.

The facility plans to be operating by late January 2022.

The county purchased the 190-acre site, which formerly housed the International Paper Mill, and then sold 60 acres to AMDEC for the intermodal project. The county plans to develop the other 130 acres as an industrial park.

In other business, the commissioners:

– Learned from Linn County Health Officer William Muth that the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing nationwide to the point that hospitals are concerned about bed capacities.

Some hospitals have already begun postponing elective surgeries. Muth said Linn County is experiencing a spike in daily cases, 47 on average recently, with a high of 84 one day. Muth said that although the majority of new cases are among unvaccinated individuals, the number of breakthrough cases – among people who have been vaccinated – is also increasing. Samaritan Health Services has 38 hospitalized cases — 24 in Corvallis, five in Albany, six in Lebanon, two in Newport and one in Lincoln City. 

– Learned there were 62 births – 34 girls and 28 boys – and 134 deaths last month in the county.

– Were told there were 10 cases of syphilis last month, and the number continues to increase locally and statewide. 

– Began discussions about possibly creating the position of Land Use Hearings Officer, which would replace the Board of Commissioners when making final local decisions about land-use issues. 

– Approved a contract for $99,995 with McClinton Painting of Albany to paint the Linn County Expo Center, which had last been painted in 2005. Fitzpatrick Painting bid $102,960. The project is to begin immediately and 0be completed by the end of October.

– Set a public hearing for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, so the city of Millersburg can petition to reassign the entire city to the Albany Ambulance Service Area 1.

– Approved an agreement to provide practicum learning experiences for students in the master’s degree level of social work programs at Capella University, and approved an agreement with Linn-Benton Community College to provide practicum experience for nursing students.

– Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Oregon Health Authority to provide Linn County with tort liability coverage as a provider for the Psychiatric Security Review Board.

– Approved receiving funding from the Oregon Department of Human Services so the county can provide supported employment for clients working with Vocational Rehabilitation Services. 

– Approved an intergovernmental agreement with Benton County to provide each other with backup services from each county’s Public Health Medical Director. Benton will pay Linn $120 per hour; Linn will pay Benton $125 per hour. 

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer