By Edward Snook
Shady Cove, Oregon – Williams Northwest Pipeline Company chose the small community of Shady Cove to introduce their Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline Project to southern Oregon. Their plan is to run a 30” line from Coos Bay into a connector line near Roseburg. This line then flows south to the Oregon/California border and into yet another pipeline which supplies the California energy market. Their first step was to set up a public meeting where the outcome was clearly a foregone conclusion.
The meeting was set up in such a way that very little could be heard much less discussed. The room in a local grange hall had small tables with written information on different aspects of the proposal set up on each side of the room. Those seeking information were crowded four and five deep around each small table hoping to talk to the company representative stationed there. Unfortunately little could be heard over the cacophony of voices.
Consensus seemed to be that Williams Northwest was moving through the area like a steamroller with no regard for property rights or the wishes of the local landowners. Apparently this was simply another tic mark on their list of things to do before proceeding with their pipeline program.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is to hold another meeting regarding this proposal sometime in July.
In a related story the Sunday Oregonian reported on July 18, how Portland’s Northwest Natural Gas Company is forcing a family to defend their Mist, Oregon gas rights against incredible odds. Using the Linn County Probate Court to their advantage, Northwest Natural Gas Company instigated and financed an attack on the mineral rights held by the Archie Adams family since the 1930s.
Northwest Natural Gas Company asserts that Jeanne Wollman, as Conservator and Executrix for both her father’s 1988 and 1992 wills, had defrauded the estate and her stepmother by transferring the mineral rights to herself and her brothers. However, the 1988 will had no mention of the mineral rights. The 1992 will states that those rights were a specific bequest to Mr. Adams’ three children.
Linn County circuit Court Judge Carol R. Bispham bought into Northwest Natural’s assertion. Before deciding which will prevailed, the court declared the mineral rights to be a part of the estate under probate. Ms Wollman was severely castigated for the transfer to her brothers and herself in spite of the court’s later acceptance of the 1992 will which legitimized that transfer.
Ignoring the wishes of Mr. Adams the court permitted the mineral rights to become an estate asset that can be plundered by West Coast Trust and their Salem attorney firm. Judge Bispham and others of her ilk need to be both reprimanded and sanctioned when they overturn contracts, ie wills. The Oregon Judicial Fitness Commission has the responsibility to discipline rogue judges, however filing a complaint with this insider controlled group of rubber stampers is most always futile, a mirror image of the Disciplinary Board of the Oregon State Bar.
On June 26th, the Linn County Probate Court will hear arguments regarding these and related issues.