Vernonia Community News


Notice is hereby given that the ballot title for a measure referred by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners has been filed with the County Clerk of Columbia County on January 21, 2016.



Formation of Columbia County Rider Transportation District


Shall a transportation special district be formed with a permanent rate of $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed value beginning FY 2016-17?


This measure creates the Columbia County Rider Transportation District (the “District”), which will be a special district for the purpose of providing public transportation in Columbia County. Public transportation is currently provided by Columbia County through its transit department, Columbia County Rider (“CC Rider”). If this measure passes, the District will manage and operate CC Rider — independently from the County — and a board of seven directors elected from the District at large will govern the District. The boundaries of the District will include the area within Columbia County, including all cities in the county, except for the Cities of Clatskanie and Prescott, which did not consent to inclusion.

If approved, this measure will authorize a permanent rate limit of $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed value, beginning in fiscal year 2016-17, to provide a stable, ongoing source of funding for CC Rider. In the first year, tax revenue is expected to be an estimated $991,961.

In accordance with ORS 250.195, any elector may file petition for review of this ballot title in the Columbia County Circuit Court no later than the seventh business day after the title was filed with the county clerk (5:00 p.m. February 3, 2016).

Published pursuant to ORS 255.085 by Elizabeth E. Huser, Columbia County Clerk

A Summer With Northwest Youth Corp

Bridger Stewart and Brad Ely, both graduates of Vernonia High School, spent time this past summer as part of the Northwest Youth Corp program.  The following is their account of what they experienced.


When I was in my freshman year of high school, a friend of mine had just returned from a session at Northwest Youth Corps. He told me all about the program, what they did, where they did it, and all of the amazing people who ran the crews. It sounded so cool!

The following Summer I was able to become a Corp member and had a blast. When you go out for a session, you are placed on a 12 person crew of likeminded individuals who have the passion and drive for conservation work, such as invasive species removal, trail restoration, and some fencing projects as well. It’s eight to ten hour days, sunshine or snow, swinging a tool to help shape a new section of trail that people will get to enjoy, all because of you and your crew.

After my first session I was immediately hooked, the lifestyle of a trail dog was the life for me. Granted we only got a shower once a week, didn’t have any electronic devices, and had no cell phones. I know that all sounds very scary for some people out there, however, as soon as you give up these luxuries for a measly five weeks, you become more in tune with the things around you, like the awesome people you’ll meet, the beautiful things mother nature created, and you become more of a grounded person in my opinion.

NotyhwestYouthCorpBridger-webThis summer I was given the opportunity to work for them again as a BLP member. BLP stands for Backcountry Leadership Program, which is made up of the people who stand out on the front country crews and who are chosen to become part of BLP the following year. My crew was a very interesting bunch, a lot of people you would never have guessed would have gotten along so well.

For five weeks we built trail reinforcements and did general trail maintenance at 9700 feet in the Sawtooth Mountain Range in Idaho. It was truly a breathtaking moment when we would wake up an hour before daylight, hike to the tallest ridge next to our camp to go to work and watch the sun rise. I’ve never seen something as beautiful as I did on those days.

For anyone that truly enjoys the outdoors, doesn’t mind doing something hard, but extremely rewarding, and has a drive to become a better person, I highly recommend this program. Oh and you get paid for it too, with an Americorp scholarship to go along with it.

So if you want to get out into the woods, swing a tool, meet some awesome people, and get paid to do it, go to

~Bridger Steward


My experience at Northwest Youth Corps (NYC) this summer was a very interesting one. For those who don’t know, NYC is an opportunity for youth between 15 and 18 to get outdoors and learn about nature, create/maintain trails and remove invasive plants, while earning an educational stipend. You can apply for different sessions, determining when and where you will work. I was put into South 4, the session taking place in southern Oregon the latter half of the summer and got paired up with 9 other kids in Red Crew who came from as far away as New York. I didn’t think that I would come to enjoy their company as much as I did. On weekends we rejoined the yellow, green and blue crews to camp and take recreational trips to nearby points of interest like Crater Lake.

We started our first week on an island close to Eugene brushing out an old dirt trail. It felt slow because of all the new experiences I was having (like getting up every day at 4:30 am), and it was also our most difficult week overall, with nine wasp nests and 104 degree temperatures. The second week, we pulled a ton of knapweed and sweet clover on logging roads. We also had an incident where our cooler was briefly stolen, prompting us to change campsites. The third and fourth week we built a trail to Opal Lake, a nice little lake a few hours away from Eugene. We also found a throwing axe in the woods, which was really cool. The fifth and final week was spent pulling English ivy off of a hillside.  NorthwestYouthCorpGroup-web

At the end of my trip, I realized that I had connected to all of these people on a very personal level. We worked, laughed, and lived together, and it drew us very close together. I may have liked some more than others, but I will miss them and the experiences that we shared.  I learned valuable life skills and that I can push through difficult situations while working to keep a positive mental attitude.  I really benefited from the structure of the program emphasizing personal responsibility and individual growth.  I definitely learned to appreciate many of the things that I take for granted at home, like time to relax and a hot shower each day.  I also learned that mayonnaise does not actually NEED refrigeration.

I would recommend NYC to anyone who is willing to put in the physical labor and long days in exchange for a unique experience where you can find new friends, see new places, and discover parts of yourself.

~Brad Ely

Keturah Coffee Roasters: Artisan Coffee Crafted in Vernonia

Vernonians now have a new option for a really great cup of coffee right here in town.

Sam and Kari Hough are now roasting small batches of artisan coffee in their home and are making it available for purchase.

KeturahCoffeeRoastingBeans-webSmall batch artisan coffee is a newer movement built on the idea that consumers are interested in knowing about the product farm-to-cup.  The coffee generally uses high quality beans that are lightly and medium roasted to retain the flavors from the region where they are grown and can be personally roasted to fit the taste of the consumer.

“We’re happy to be introducing people to the world of good, fresh coffee, said Sam Hough during a recent visit to see their coffee roasting operation.

What started as a hobby and a desire to drink the best coffee they could brew, the Houghs have expanded their passion into a small, home based business.

“I’ve been roasting my own coffee for quite a long time,” said Sam. “I started out doing it in a frying pan, and learned how to roast it really well that way, and then moved into using a popcorn popper. Back then we were doing it for ourselves and giving it to friends as gifts, and people really liked our coffee.”

KeturahCoffeeFamily-webSam is the pastor at the Vernonia Christian Church and Kari does pet grooming and pet care in the community.  They homeschool their children, and have created a small urban farm on their property on OA Hill, with rabbits, chickens, bees, a small orchard and they make their own kambucha and keiffer.  A home based coffee roasting business was a perfect fit, something they could fit in around their somewhat flexible schedules and other responsibilities.

Sam says his goal is to build up some small and medium wholesale accounts; he’s already secured several through connections in Vernonia.  A local Bed and Breakfast is using their coffees as well as several local realtors in gift baskets for new clients.  They have also established a good retail following of locals who stop by to pick up their roasted coffee beans or have them delivered by Sam or Kari.  They’ve also started a website ( where customers can order coffee for mail shipment or delivery if they live in Vernonia.  The website also features high quality coffee grinders, drip coffee makers and espresso machines that can be purchased through Keturah Coffee Roasters.   Read More

Heavy Rains Friday and Saturday Could Mean Problems Traveling in NW Oregon

Road surfaces get slick and traveling gets tricky when rain first falls after a long dry spell

With the weekend forecast predicting heavy rains in Northwest Oregon, travelers need to be prepared for difficult conditions. Oil and grease don’t wash away during the dry season; they come to the surface when the next rain comes, which can make roads unexpectedly slick and treacherous.

“Hazards created by snow and ice are obvious but the travel hazards that come with the first rain after a long dry spell can catch you by surprise,” said Rian Windsheimer, ODOT Region Manager for the Portland area. “Roads will be slick, especially in the first few hours. Drivers and bicyclists, please slow down, give yourself extra stopping distance and please be aware of the possibly slick conditions.”

Be aware of conditions

Rain can create dangerous travel conditions with reduced visibility, reduced traction between tires and the road and less predictable handling for cars, motorcycles and bicycles. When it’s raining, be cautious and give yourself more time to get where you’re going. Also remember to:

  • Slow down. Driving through water at high speed can cause you to lose control. Lowering your speed helps you avoid sudden stops caused by disabled cars, debris and other hazards.
  • Expect road surfaces to be slick. The first few hours of rain can be the most dangerous.
  • Turn on your headlights to improve visibility. Disengage your cruise control.
  • Keep your distance. A car needs two to three times more stopping distance on wet roads.
  • Motorists and bicyclists must watch for each other: Cars won’t stop as quickly and bicycles may be harder to see. Give riders room!

Maintain your vehicle

The most common vehicle problems in wet weather involve wipers, brakes, tires and defrosters.

  • Check your wipers. Replace wiper blades regularly.
  • Make sure your defroster is functioning properly, especially if you haven’t used it in a while.
  • Check your brakes. After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times.
  • Check your tires. Make sure tires are in good condition and are at the recommended inflation level. Tires should have at least 1/32 of an inch tread depth at any two adjacent grooves, the minimum allowable by law. Driving on over-inflated or under-inflated tires is dangerous on wet pavement.

Watch for hydroplaning conditions

Hydroplaning occurs when your front tires surf on a film of water. It can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour, especially if tires are worn. If you hydroplane, ease off the gas, gently apply the brakes and steer straight ahead.

Know before you go

For updated information on highway work and current travel information throughout Oregon, visit or call the Oregon road report at 511 or 1-800-977-6368.

Apiary Road Closure

Columbia County Road Department will be closing Apiary Road at MP 17.7 from August 31st to September 16th.

Closure will be for construction crews to replace a double culvert with a new concrete arch culvert. Alternate routes will be Hwy 47 into Clatskanie or Scappoose-Vernonia Hwy to Hwy 30.

For details and questions about the project please contact road department office for project details.

To stay up to date on all Road Department activities and project details please follow us on Facebook. Link is on Center of page

Former VHS Student Composes, Conducts Vernonia Overture

A former Vernonia High School student has composed a piece of orchestral music, dedicated to the community of Vernonia and his classmates at VHS.

VernoniaOverture-webNate McCroskey-Izzett, a senior at Mazama High School in Klamath Falls, Oregon, directed the world premiere performance of Vernonia Overture, which he composed, at the Klamath Falls Community Band concert on April 12, 2015.  The composition was inspired by the devastation and recovery that the community experienced during and following the December 3, 2007 flood.

McCroskey-Izzett is the son of former Vernonia Band Instructor Rob Izzett, who now teaches at Mazama High School.  Izzett led the Vernonia Band when they won the State Championship in 2012.

McCroskey-Izzett began composing the musical piece while he was a sophomore at Vernonia High School.  He and his family moved to Klaamth Falls in 2013, and McCroskey-Izzett completed the seven minute composition as his Senior Project. He worked with noted American composer Robert Sheldon as his mentor for the project.  McCroskey-Izzett and Sheldon became acquainted following the flood when Sheldon, the head of instrumental music for Alfred Publishing, donated sixty music titles to the Vernonia School when he heard about the devastation and the loss of Rob Izzett’s music library in the flood.  Sheldon provided guidance and instruction to McCroskey-Izzett via email during the composition of the piece.  Read More

County Commissioners Have Coffee with Vernonians

Hyde says he’s not in favor of LNG project

CommissionersHydeBuxton-webAll three Columbia County Commissioners were on hand the morning of April 17 at a jam packed Black Iron Grill to have coffee and chat with Vernonia area citizens.

The visit was part of the Commissioners plan to visit each of the five cities in Columbia County to hear the concerns of the community.

The top item of concern was the proposed Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline projects, which was made obvious by the large number of red shirted activists in the room.

When asked what reasons they could site for supporting the LNG plant and pipeline which would transport natural gas across Columbia County, Commissioner Tony Hyde reversed previous statements he had made that indicated support of the project and stated he now believes the project has no reason for the support of the Board of Commissioners.

Hyde explained that the Commissioners have had several presentations about the proposed project over the last six years, which  Hyde called “purely conjecture,” and included the possibility of the gas line passing through the Mist fields and using storage facilities in that area in Columbia County.  Hyde then made the following statement to applause from the audience,  “What we found out recently was that this gas line that is going to the proposed ‘Baby Baghdad in the Bay,’ for lack of a better term, is not going to Mist field and has no reason for our support.”

Hyde went on to say that he did not believe the LNG plant, proposed to be constructed in Warrenton, will ever be built. “I know the Commissioners in Clatsop County don’t support it and that the citizens, experiencing a renaissance during the last decade in Astoria, are very reticent.”

Hyde added that he has had several conversations with local constituents which has helped add to his knowledge of the project and helped sway his opinion.

When asked if the Columbia County Board of Commissioners will take policy action and publicly oppose the project, Hyde backed off and said all three Commissioners have not discussed the issue as a Board.   Read More

Supporting Local Fire Protection: A Conversation with Chief Dean Smith

Vernonia citizens will have a chance to vote on two measures in the upcoming election that would support the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District.  The Fire District has placed Measure 5-245, a ten year bond for the purchase of a new fire engine, and  Measure 5-246, a five year levy to fund a training officer for the district.  According to Vernonia Fire Chief Dean Smith, both Measures are vital for helping local fire fighters continue to provide quality service to the community.  The following is an excerpt from a recent conversation Vernonia’s Voice had with Chief Smith.

Vernonia’s Voice: Why are both these Measures so important for the Fire District? 

FireMeasures-ConversationDeanSmith-webChief Smith: The operating levy, Measure 5-264, is important because I’m the only paid responder we have.  I’m also paid to be an administrator.  The duties that are required within a fire district and the tasks that need to be managed are always increasing and so is the amount of training our volunteers are required to receive and stay  current on.  There is always something else that needs to be taken care of.

Our District is responding to a record number of  calls now and our volunteer levels have dropped to as low as I’ve ever seen them. We’re at a point where our district needs to have another body in here that can take some of these tasks that need to be managed.

What we need is a Training Captain that can be dedicated to oversight and look at all the aspects of our training program and make sure we’re covering and tracking all the certification for our volunteers and keeping their files up to date.  We need to make sure we’re meeting the needs and addressing the aspirations of our volunteers, so that we can see where they want to go and assist them in getting there.  It’s become imperative—we need another body here.  We can’t continue giving the level of service if we don’t.

Measure 5-245 is a bond for equipment.  We recently purchased a used engine from Banks for a heck of a deal.  The last bond we put out was in 2000 and it matured and was paid off in 2010.  In reality the District should have  immediately put out another bond.

VV: Why is it so important to have a paid Training Officer?

CS: We’ve used volunteers in that role for a long time.  The average time span that a volunteer lasts in that role is about three years.  And every training officer that we’ve had since I’ve been here, has not only stepped down from training, they’ve resigned from the department completely.  They get so burned out because there is so much extra work.  And the worst part is, the people we give the training responsibility to are usually some of our best volunteers and then we end up losing them.  They’re going to their regular jobs for forty hours a week and then they are volunteering here and then putting in all this extra work. Read More

Camp 18 Logger Activities Scheduled for May 9

The annual Camp 18 Logger’s Memorial Dedication and Logging Exhibition will be held on Saturday, May 9 at the Camp 18 Logging Museum in Elsie, OR.  Admission is free.

The Logger’s Memorial starts at 10:00 AM and honors men and women that have had plaques placed in the Logger’s Memorial during the past year.

The Logging Exhibition will be loaded with lots of action from high school forestry teams along with local loggers competing in an assortment of logging skills.

For the first time the Museum’s Blacksmith shop will be open.

An auction will include one set of 11-21-5 steering tires donated by Superior Tires, a gun safe donated by Papé Machinery, a log truck load of firewood and a custom throwing axe.  Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

For more information contact Mark Standly, 503-343-0148 or Darlene Wilcoxen 503-728-2050.