By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Amity House: A story of redemption

The approximately 1,166-square-foot house, located at 308 W. Second St. in Amity, failed to draw a single bid at a public foreclosure auction. Ownership thus revered to the county for back taxes.

Worried the property would become an attractive nuisance, the Amity Police Department approached county officials for help.

The county came up with a novel idea — having some of its juvenile offenders give the house a thorough makeover, then sell it on the open market to recoup its costs. The first sale bid fared no better than the original foreclosure auction, but the second time around proved the charm.

The county, which had invested $60,000 in the makeover, accepted a $90,000 bid submitted by Dennis and Penny Hinchman. It had set an $85,000 minimum, and the Hinchman bid was the only one exceeding that threshold.

The county believed the project would not only teach young offenders some valuable trade skills, but also responsibility, work habits and valuable life skills. And juvenile officials said it has exceeded all expectations in that regard.

Virtually everything but the foundation and frame were replaced, turning an eyesore into a showpiece in the process.

The renovated house was first offered at oral auction. There were no takers, so Deputy County Counsel Christian Boenisch launched a sealed-bid auction process.

That paid off. Commissioners accepted the Hinchman bid on Jan. 24. 

Boenisch said he was pleased with the process. In the event the county faces a like situation in the future, it now has a template in place, he said.

Commissioner Mary Stern said the fact that kids benefited from the program — one begged to remain on probation so he could see the project through and ended up parlaying that into a job in the construction field — is what matters most. “Even if had helped just that one kid, it would’ve been worth it,” she said. 

In other news, the board: 

n Heard from Mike Kemper, the county’s code enforcement officer, about longstanding efforts to rural resident Earl Lawson to clean up his property. Kemper said the county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee voted last week seek authorization to commission a cleanup at Lawson’s expense, ensuring eventual payment by placing a lien on his property if necessary.

The board is planning to give Lawson a chance to tell his side of the story first, and has sent Feb. 21 as a tentative date. 

n Approved a request from Capt. Ron Huber to upgrade the television system and remodel the H-block at the county jail, which he supervises. Huber said he plans to purchase a new television system from Dolphinio Business Solutions at a cost of $28,709.  

n Approved sale of the county’s airport hangar to Marvin Coolidge and Doug Tinerfor $70,000. 

n Named former commissioner Leslie Lewis to an honorary, non-voting post on the Parkway Committee, citing her long history with the committee and project. It also appointed Lesley Woodruff for a four-year term from Newberg, replacing Wade Witherspoon.

n Also named Lewis to the Yamhill County Fair Board, at the request of Fair Manager Al Westerhoff. Lewis was also closely associated with the fair during her tenure.

n Announced it would be accepting applications through Feb. 22 for the budget committee seat being vacated by Mike Green, now serving as county treasurer.


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