ASTORIA — SmartAsset, a financial technology company, has released its third annual study on property taxes, which looks at local school ratings and crime rates as clues to whether residents are getting a good return on their property taxes. According to this analysis, Clatsop County ranks 20th among Oregon’s 36 counties. Baker County is said by SmartAsset to get the best value for its property taxes.

Across the Columbia, Pacific County was rated 7th among Washington’s 39 counties, while Whitman County in the state’s southeast corner was first.

Check for more details.

LONG BEACH — Pacific County’s jobless rate remained unchanged in October at 6.1 percent — essentially what it was since mid-summer. The rate was lower than in any October since at least 1990, suggesting the county is close to full employment.

The total number of jobs counted in the count dipped slightly to 7,886 from 7,988 in September, but fewer people were looking for work.

Washington’s unemployment rate fell from 4.6 to 4.5 percent in October — equaling the state’s all-time low for unemployment set earlier this year, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“Washington’s economy keeps growing,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “The demand for workers remains strong with ample opportunity for employment.” Washington added 6,900 nonfarm jobs in October. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its October Monthly Employment Report.

The national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent this October.

Clatsop County finished October with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, up slightly from September, according to figures from the state Employment Department. Oregon’s overall seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 4.3 percent. Washington does not apply a seasonal adjustment to county jobless rates.

In October, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment rose by 11,600 jobs, following a revised loss of 1,100 jobs in September. The gain in October was the largest monthly increase since 14,100 jobs were added in February 2017.

ASTORIA — Vancouver Granite Works announced in November the opening of its first satellite office, located in the former Astoria Granite Works building at 415 W. Marine Dr. They have been in the memorial business since 1921 and bring extensive experience in the industry.

The Astoria Granite Works showroom has been remodeled and enhanced with additional monument and headstone options.

Vancouver Granite Works, based in Vancouver, Washington, is owned and operated by Joey Fuerstenberg, a certified memorialist with a family legacy as the third generation of the Fuerstenberg family to own the business.

“We look forward to assisting the families in Astoria and the surrounding communities for many years to come.” Fuerstenberg said. “The former owners of Astoria Granite Works, Russ and Mo Warr, brought helpful compassion to the families they serve and we look forward to continuing that tradition.

“We provide the local community with a full line of remembrance products.”

Vancouver Granite Works is a member of the Monument Builders of North America and the Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association.

LONG BEACH — Washington state is in the middle among the 50 states on a scorecard developed by the Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy, a coalition of business groups.

“Based on the most recent data available, Washington now ranks 25th (or at the median of all states), with an Opportunity Score of 76. In the two years that Opportunity Washington has tracked Opportunity Scores for the 50 states, Washington’s performance has ranged from a high ranking of 24 (Fall 2015) to a low of 31 (Spring 2017),” according to the

Utah leads the U.S. for pro-business policies, with an opportunity score of 210. Oregon is 28th, with a score of 72 this fall.

Washington climbed in the rankings thanks to lower unemployment insurance taxes, higher levels of private sector research and development investment, and improved performance on both the Tax Climate Index and the Kauffman Growth Entrepreneurship Index.

Competing state rankings from Forbes magazine rated Washington 11th, just out of the top 10. The state came in 9th in 2016 and 10th in 2015. Oregon was 18th in Forbes’ 2017 ranking.

MANZANITA — Meredith Lodging LLC, an Oregon boutique vacation-home manager, said it has assumed ownership of Manzanita Rental Co., its fifth vacation-lodging firm acquisition in the last 10 months. Meredith Lodging’s Oregon serves more than 300,000 guests, according to a press release.

Matt and Kay Christianson, owners of Manzanita Rental, said they were pleased to have Meredith Lodging acquire the business. “Many companies have sought to purchase Manzanita Rentals over the years, but none of them felt quite right,” Kay Christianson said. “It became clear that Meredith Lodging would be able to treat our homeowners and guests with integrity and high-quality service.”

Long-time local Oregon Coast residents and Meredith Lodging owners Jon and Meredith Oksenholt say they keep their interests aligned with homeowners.

For more information, see or call 1-800-224-7660.

SALEM — Unemployment tax rates for most Oregon employers will be lower in 2018. Tax rates will drop to schedule three for employers that pay into the unemployment insurance system.

Tax schedule three includes an average rate of 1.97 percent for the first $39,300 paid to each employee. In 2017 Oregon operated on schedule four which had an average rate of 2.26 percent. The specific rate each employer will pay under the new schedule depends on how much they have used the unemployment insurance system.

Oregon annually adjusts employer tax rates using eight tax schedules based on the solvency of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Movement between the eight schedules of tax rates represents part of the self-balancing aspects of Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund law. Each September a formula contained in state law determines how much should be collected during the next year to maintain a solvent fund. Each schedule has a range of tax rates based on an employer’s previous Unemployment Insurance experience.

As a result of this approach, Oregon has one of the strongest trust funds in the nation, Oregon Employment Department said in a press release. The trust fund provides support for temporarily unemployed workers, their families, and communities while minimizing the impact on employers. This approach allows this support without having to reduce benefits to workers, increase employer taxes, or borrow from the federal government as most other states had to do for the Great Recession.

ASTORIA — Partners for the PAC (Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center, 588 16th St.) has obtained non-profit status and formed a board of directors. The Partners have been engaged in raising funds to keep the Performing Arts Center open and operating as a community arts and education venue, as it has been since 2012, through an agreement with Clatsop Community College. Early notable fundraising productions were Bach and Rock Around the Clock and “Hitchin’ the Musical.”

According to the Partners board president Charlene Larsen, and vice-president Brian Bergman, the Partners for the PAC is in continuing discussion with the community college about long term stability for the Performing Arts Center, in order to keep affordable music and other cultural events available to the community. Because of its full complement of stage lighting and sound equipment and the excellent acoustics, the Performing Arts Center is attractive to a wide range of musicians, actors, dancers, speakers and more.

The Partners continue to pay rent of close to $1,900 per month to the college. The monthly rent is shared among its partner groups: Astoria Music Festival, North Coast Big Band, North Coast Chorale, North Coast Symphonic Band, North Oregon Coast Symphony, Pacific Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Tillicum Foundation, and the newest member, Cascadia Concert Opera.For more information go to

ASTORIA — Business analysts Marcus & Millichap reported last month that investors are showing increasing interest in hotel properties in Washington and Oregon, which account for about 90 percent of sales in the Northwest, which also includes Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Transactions in Portland inched down slightly as more buyers sought properties outside the metro area, the analysts said. Regional prices varied widely depending on property age and recent performance, with the regional average resting above $87,000 per room.

The supply of hotel rooms is expanding, with more than 7,000 rooms under construction in the Northwest. Roughly 6,700 rooms have entered the final planning stage with the expectation to break ground in the coming year.

Occupancy in Oregon plunged to 78.6 percent in the year that ended June 30. Portland was a significant driver of the decline as an influx of supply outpaced room use. Occupancy in Portland fell to 83.6 percent. Washington state’s occupancy rate increased 4.1 percent year over year.

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Revenue is warning businesses to be aware of a new telephone scam.

The scammers fraudulently claim to be from Revenue and request over-the-phone payment to renew expired business licenses.

Revenue will never ask for or take payment for license renewals over the phone. The department mails businesses a notice about six weeks before their renewal is due and a delinquent notice a week after the license expires.

License renewals should be made through a business’s secure My DOR account.

Businesses that receive one of these fraudulent calls and want to check their license status should visit the My DOR website at and log in to review their account information.

If a business is unsure about correspondence with the Department of Revenue or has questions related to this scam, they are asked to call 1-800-451-7985.

The Department of Revenue is Washington state’s primary tax administration agency, nationally recognized for innovation and service quality. Revenue collected $22.4 billion in tax revenues in Fiscal Year 2016. These funds support education, social services, health care, corrections, public safety, natural resources conservation and other public services.

GARIBALDI — The Tillamook Coast food cart, operated by Jeff Wong, a sustainable-practices fisherman based in Garibaldi, is doing business at NE 8th and Couch in Portland next to Cider Riot cidermakers. It is being featured at the Oregon Zoo’s ZooLights celebration through Jan. 7.

The cart is a partnership between CS Fishery and Visit Tillamook Coast, the county’s tourism organization.

The menu features locally sourced foods from Tillamook County, including fresh seafood from Wong’s sustainable CS Fishery, grass-fed meats from Nehalem River Ranch, certified organic produce from DeNoble Farms, hand-ground hot dogs from Tillamook Meats, Tillamook Cheese, and Jacobsen Salt harvested from Netarts Bay. Menu items include fish tacos, chowder, crispy crab grilled cheese, fish and chips, and other Oregon Coast specialties.

For more information on the food cart, call the Visit Tillamook Coast office at 503 842-2672 or email For more about ZooLights, visit

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