Vernonia Community News

Merkley and Bonamici to Hold Joint Town Hall in Vernonia

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici will hold a joint town hall in Vernonia on Friday, April 3 at 2:00 PM at the Vernonia School Commons.

They will update constituents on their work in Washington, D.C. and answer questions and invite suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America.

“There are huge issues facing Oregonians and the best way for me to effectively advocate for Oregon’s families and businesses is by getting out on the road and holding a town hall in every county, every year to hear directly from Oregonians,” said Merkley.  “I invite all residents of Columbia County to come and discuss what we need to do to strengthen our state and nation.”

“Listening to constituents is an important part of my work,” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said. “Town hall meetings provide the opportunity for me to hear about the issues facing this diverse district and learn how I can help. Constituents always provide valuable feedback that informs the work I do when I’m back in Washington, D.C.”

Since joining the Senate in 2009, Merkley has held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year. The town hall in Vernonia will be his  224th town hall as a U.S. Senator.

WOEC Announces VOLTA Scholarship

West Oregon Electric Cooperative, Inc. is proud to announce we are offering our VOLTA scholarship to encourage graduating high school seniors, or recent graduates to seek training and employment in the utility outside lineworker field. The Cooperative will award one scholarship of $1,500.00 to a deserving graduating senior or recent graduate who reside in a home served by West Oregon Electric. They must use this scholarship to attend the VOLTA training academy.

We need your help to get the word out about our scholarships. We would really like to encourage students who enjoy working outdoors, and would like to pursue a career in utility linework to apply. Their GPA will not be as important as their goals and motivation to succeed in life.

To apply, contact your high school counselor or West Oregon Electric. The application form as well as all instructions are now available, please visit our website at westoregon.org (go to the news tab and click on scholarships) to print the forms. The information and forms will also be available at the front desk in the WOEC office.  The deadline for receiving completed applications is April 15th by 5:00 PM.

Early Morning Fire Destroys Duplex

A fire destroyed an apartment at the corner of A street and Washington Avenue in Vernonia in the early morning hours of Wednesday March 25.

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Firefighters from the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District, the Banks Fire District and the Mist-Birkenfeld Fire District all responded and kept the blaze from spreading to nearby homes.

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Fire2

Neighbors reporting hearing a loud “explosion” around 2:30 AM.  Witnesses said flames reached over thirty feet into the air when the fire was fully engaged.Fire 6Fire4

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Local Owns Two World Champion Show Horses

For an area mostly known for logging, the Vernonia area has developed quite a reputation for its horse culture.  The area features a long time trail riding group, regular seasonal arena play days, a competitive school-based equestrian team and an active 4-H program – even a national Miss Rodeo title holder.  It’s obvious that people in this region love their horses.

Marianne Berg also loves her horses and owns a couple of World Champions.

Berg, who lives in Birkenfeld, owns show horses and has been successful in breeding, raising, training and showing two real winners.

Berg shows her horses in Halter Competitions where the horses are led, not ridden, and are judged on their conformation and suitability as breeding stock.  Berg says it’s sort of like body building for horses.  “They’re really big and muscular, but they also have to be really pretty,” says Berg.  “And conformationally they have to be correct – they have to have nice straight legs, they have to have a slender neck.  They are judged on how they are put together.”

Berg purchased “No Chance of Reign,” who she calls “Clark,” shortly after he was named World Champion in his class as a young pony.  In 2013 Berg, working with a new horse trainer, and Clark took 4th place at the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Show in Fort Worth, Texas.  “Our new trainer didn’t have enough time to get him as prepared as he needed to be,” explained Berg.

Owner Marianne Berg of Birkenfeld (r) with her Reserve Grand National Champion Clark and trainer Matt Henderson.

Owner Marianne Berg of Birkenfeld (r) with her Reserve Grand National Champion Clark and trainer Matt Henderson.

This year Clark and trainer Matt Henderson of Turner-Henderson Show Horses based in Albany, Oregon traveled once again in November to Fort Worth, where Clark won the Reserve World title in the Amateur 2-year old Halter Geldings class.

To date, Clark has amassed well over 600 APHA halter points.  Clark is also the 2014 #1 APHA Honor Roll 2-year old gelding in the nation.  “That is very hard to do and he accomplished it this year,” says Berg. “I’m very proud of him.  He has won more awards than I can even recall.”

Berg says the horses are bred to be show horses.  Breeding stock is chosen for their genetics.  “You can tell when they’re babies if they have it or they don’t.  And then you can build on it.  You can do it yourself, which I have done or send it to a trainer.  And then they are put into a fitness program, like a true athlete.  They are fed a certain way.  They are worked a certain way to help build their muscles.  But the horse has to be genetically predispositioned to look this way.” Read More

Activists Rally Against LNG

Local activists and citizens met on Thursday, March 12 to discuss the Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline projects.

The meeting was organized and moderated by Steve Calhoun, along with his son Michael,  to raise awareness within the community about the projects and included several guest speakers.  The discussion focused on ways to organize and oppose the projects and on making sure locals understand that they have a voice in whether they are constructed or not.

The Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline projects propose to transport fracked natural gas from Canada across Washington and Oregon in a high pressure, thirty-six inch pipeline, to a terminal in Warrenton, OR where it would be converted to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and exported to overseas markets.  The pipeline travels across Columbia County through mostly private timberland and crosses Rock Creek about five miles above the intake to the City of Vernonia’s water plant.

Some of the most pertinent concerns about the projects include water quality degradation and damage to critical salmon habitat, and public safety and the risk to residents in the event of an accident.

Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper addressed a crowd of local activists concerned about LNG projects.

Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper addressed a crowd of local activists concerned about LNG projects.

Among the guest speakers was Dan Serres, Conservation Director at Columbia Riverkeeper, who has been opposing LNG projects in Oregon for ten years.  Serres provided an overview of what he called “one of the most controversial projects in all of Oregon,” and told the audience that the one way to stop the projects was to stop the terminal in Warrenton.  “Without the terminal there is no pipeline,” said Serres.  He also pointed out that both State and Federal regulatory agencies need to approve the projects before it can move forward.  Serres explained that FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) will say yes to this so it is important for local citizens to be heard by state agencies and legislators.  Serres encouraged locals to organize together to oppose the project.

Maggie Peyton, Executive Director of the Upper Nehalem Watershed Council (UNWC), told the audience that her organization has been working to restore salmon habitat in the region for twenty-six years and that she sees no real benefit for the local population from the projects.  In addition to her concerns about water quality in the rivers, streams and wetlands the pipeline would cross and its  impact on local salmon populations, Peyton also expressed reservations about the  continued dependence on fossil fuels,  the ability of local emergency responders to handle accidents or natural disasters, and the effects on water quality from deforestation in the region.  She said she is also highly concerned about the potential damage from a predicted large subduction zone earthquake.   Read More

NOTICE OF MEASURE ELECTION-Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District General Obligation Bond.

NOTICE OF MEASURE ELECTION AND RECEIPT OF BALLOT TITLE Filed in the Office of County Clerk 3/18/2015

Notice is hereby given that a ballot title for a measure referred by Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District has been filed with the Columbia County Clerk on March 18, 2015.

The ballot title caption is Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District General Obligation Bond.

Vernonia-RFPD-GOB

Notice is hereby given that a measure election conducted by mail will be held on Tuesday, May 19 2015.

An elector may file a petition for review of this ballot title in the Columbia County Circuit Court no later than 5:00 p.m. March 31, 2015 (which is the 7th business day after receipt.) ORS 255.155

This notice is published pursuant to ORS 255.145 by Elizabeth E. Huser, Columbia County Clerk.

NOTICE OF MEASURE ELECTIONFive Year Local Option Levy for Emergency Services Training and Operations.

NOTICE OF MEASURE ELECTION AND RECEIPT OF BALLOT TITLE-AMENDED Filed in the Office of County Clerk 3/18/2015

Notice is hereby given that a ballot title for a measure referred by Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District has been filed with the Columbia County Clerk on March 18, 2015.

The ballot title caption is  Five Year Local Option Levy for Emergency Services Training and Operations.

Notice-Election-and-Receipt-VernRFPD-levy-AMENDED-Spotlight-Vernonia-website

Notice is hereby given that a measure election conducted by mail will be held on Tuesday, May 19 2015.

An elector may file a petition for review of this ballot title in the Columbia County Circuit Court no later than 5:00 p.m. March 31, 2015 (which is the 7th business day after receipt.) ORS 255.155

This notice is published pursuant to ORS 255.145 by Elizabeth E. Huser, Columbia County Clerk.

Ride Inn to Open this Spring

The Ride Inn, the new hotel on the site of the old Vernonia Inn, is scheduled to open this spring.

“We are shooting for sometime in April but we’ll be open by May 1 for sure,” said property owner Jerry Cordell in a recent interview.  Cordell said he and his partners have been working through the winter at their own pace, renovating and cleaning up the property to get it ready for guests.

“When it’s ready we’ll open it,” said Cordell.  “We’re getting close now.”

Cordell says he has already taken reservations for several upcoming wedding parties.RideInn-web

Worth the Trip: Astoria

Steeped in history and an industrial heritage, the City of Astoria has reinvented itself as a tourist destination.  Located at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon’s far northwest corner, Astoria has found a way to blend its riverfront, coastal, and cannery cultures.  Without taking itself too seriously, the town has embraced its working class roots and opened its doors and welcomed visitors to come and enjoy a relaxed and charming experience.

The Cannery Pier Hotel

The Cannery Pier Hotel

The Pub at Buoy Beer Company

The Pub at Buoy Beer Company

The region and town played a vital role in the western expansion of the United States and uses that rich history to draw and captivate visitors.  It uses great restaurants, cafes, and brew pubs, and an eclectic waterfront to entice those visitors to stay.  It’s friendly, casual and welcoming attitude, along with year-round events, keep guests coming back.

AnotherRoundWetDogSign-webAstoria is perfect for a day trip, a romantic overnight get away or a weekend family vacation.  Located just sixty miles from Vernonia, less from Columbia County’s Highway 30 corridor, it’s just down the road, yet feels like you’ve traveled a world away.

Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.  Mariners Robert Gray and James Cook passed by in the 1790s and Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery established their Pacific Coast base in the region in 1805.  John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company established a fort where the town now stands in the early 1800s.  Large populations of Scandinavians and Chinese immigrants arrived to work, cutting down the huge timber and catching and canning the tremendous runs of salmon.  The fur, timber and canning industries have left a long lasting and still visible legacy on the community.

Astoria-Oldbuilding-webToday Astoria embraces its newest industry – tourism.  The vibrant waterfront and downtown is packed with old buildings, some renovated into new and thriving businesses, some still waiting to be revived.  Restaurants, antique shops, galleries, clothing stores, book shops and more line the streets.  Museums, parks, trails, bird watching, live music, and theater provide activities for just about everyone.

The Astoria Riverwalk trail

The Astoria Riverwalk trail

 

And of course there is the ever present view.  Every establishment along the waterfront tries to take advantage of the expansive river with huge windows, decks and balconies, allowing guests to watch passing ships and the wildlife while sipping a brew or enjoying a meal.  Astoria has also established the Riverwalk, a six mile paved trail that follows the waterfront so visitors can further enjoy the maritime atmosphere.

 

Emily at Coffee Girl

Emily at Coffee Girl

 

One thing I noticed during our recent visit to Astoria was the quality of the service everywhere we went.  Everyone was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.  They all seemed genuinely pleased to see us walk in, and especially interested in making us feel welcome.  It’s amazing the impact that a friendly face, authentic smile and welcoming attitude can have in helping a tourist, as well as the locals, enjoy their visit.

If you are planning a trip to Astoria make sure to check the local calendar for upcoming festivals and events before you visit.  Year round activities happen every month; you may want to either avoid the crowds or plan to join in the fun.  There is always something happening in Astoria: the Fisher Poets Gathering in February; the Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival in April; the Tenor Guitar Gathering in May; the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, and the Astoria Music Festival in June; the Astoria Regatta in August; the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup in September, the Astoria International Film Festival in October. These are just some of the events you might want to check out.  In addition the Astoria Sunday Market happens May through October, the theatrical “Shanghaied in Astoria” plays Thursdays through Saturdays from July to September, and a Civil War Reenactment takes place in August and September at nearby Fort Stevens.

Window seat in the room at the Cannery Pier Hotel with Pendleton Blanket and binoculars

Window seat in the room at the Cannery Pier Hotel with Pendleton Blanket and binoculars

There are plenty of places to stay overnight in Astoria, from motels on the main street to small bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels.  One of the best hotels in town is the Cannery Pier Hotel.  Located just west of the bridge and jutting out over the river, the Cannery Pier Hotel offers spectacular balcony river views to go along with all the expected amenities of a top flight establishment.

 

Watching the ships from the balcony of the Cannery Pier Hotel

Watching the ships from the balcony of the Cannery Pier Hotel

Take a ride in a vintage car, courtesy of  the Cannery Pier Hotel

Take a ride in a vintage car, courtesy of the Cannery Pier Hotel

All of the amenities are great but the Cannery Pier Hotel takes your comfort and enjoyment further.  Rooms feature a large claw foot tub and glass shower – a through window provides a river view while you bathe.  There was a pair of binoculars and a Pendleton wool blanket to enhance our wildlife and ship watching from the padded window seat and balcony. From our balcony we watched a bald eagle, sea lions, ducks, Canada geese, a Blue heron, gulls and other sea birds pass by, along with small sailboats, fishing boats and giant shipping vessels.  In the evening there was complimentary wine and lox tasting.  There’s a full service  spa which features an authentic Finnish sauna and a large hot tub, with, you guessed it, a view of the river.  The hotel has three vintage cars available to chauffeur you to and from dinner, free of charge. On our return to the hotel, fresh baked cookies were waiting for guests in the lobby.  In the morning we borrowed cruiser bicycles and rode the riverwalk to breakfast.  A guest really couldn’t ask for much more.  Make sure you make reservations early—the Cannery Pier Hotel tends to be full most weekends.

Pints go beer at Buoy Brewing

Pints of beer at Buoy Beer Company

 

Astoria is bursting with restaurants, cafés, coffee houses and drinking establishments.  If Oregon microbrews are your thing, you’re in luck.  Astoria has a choice of five breweries including, the Rogue Ales Public House, the Fort George Brewery and Public House, the Wet Dog Café, the Astoria Brewing Company Tasting Room and Buoy Beer Company. Don’t forget to bring your growler!

 

 

 

The dining room at Buoy Beer Company offers sweeping views of the river

The dining room at Buoy Beer Company offers sweeping views of the river

The Buoy Beer Company on Pier 8 has great river front seating in the dining room, a great pub, fantastic gourmet pub food – the fries were great and so was the pasta special – and fourteen beers on tap.  Try the Coffee Brown – it’s excellent!  And don’t miss the glass floor where you can watch sea lions relaxing – the kids, and adults, will love it!

For breakfast try Coffee Girl at the east end of town on Pier 39.  Tucked away inside the old cannery building, the cozy Coffee Girl has delicious baked goods, tasty entrees, inexpensive prices and of course, good coffee – and a great view of the river.  The Blueberry Croissant Bread Pudding was delicious and the Breakfast Panini Sandwich and Swedish Veggie Bagel were both extremely tasty.

Vegetarians will love the Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe, a worker owned cooperative located right next door to the Fort George Brewery.   The Tempeh Rubin was excellent and so was the atmosphere.

For coffee in the morning check out Three Cups Coffee House right under the bridge, featuring Columbia River Coffee Roasters’ Thundermuck, a dark roasted and flavorful brew to get your day started.

Of course there is much more to do in Astoria than just eating and drinking.  There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family occupied for days.  Among the highlights:

• Columbia River Maritime Museum This 24,000 square foot exhibit space contains an extensive collection of nautical artifacts with interactive displays on shipwrecks, fishing, lighthouses, navigation and naval history. Remodeled and expanded in 2001-02, this nationally recognized museum is a treasure trove of wonders.

• Astoria Column Perched on the highest hill in Astoria the 125 foot column, with 164 steps to the top,  offers spectacular views of the surrounding area and includes fascinating illustrations winding up the outside of the column that document the history of the region.

• River Walk Also known as the Astoria River Trail you can travel the entire length of the historic water front (6.4 miles) and enjoy the interesting architecture, shops and views. Ride the trolley in season, bring your bikes and peddle the entire length, or just take a leisurely stroll.

Sea Lions at Pier 36

Sea Lions at Pier 36

• Sea Lions The barking of sea lions is ever present along the waterfront and there are several places where they regularly congregate; the 36th Street Pier is one of the best and most popular spots to watch them swim, sun and wrestle.

• Lewis and Clark Walk in the footsteps of the famous explorers at several nearby locations.  Fort Clatsop National Historic Park is the site of their winter encampment complete with replica fort, exhibit hall, interpretive center and trails.  Drive across the Astoria-Megler Bridge and 10 miles up the Washington coastline to Cape Disappointment State Park which contains eight miles of trails, miles of beaches, two lighthouses and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  Spectacular views of the Pacific and the Columbia Bar can be seen from the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

The Cape Disappointemnt Lighthouse and view of the Columbia Bar

The Cape Disappointemnt Lighthouse and view of the Columbia Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to Astoria can be relaxing, fun, informative, and entertaining, and certainly worth the trip.

Early morning on the balcony of the Cannery Pier Hotel

Early morning on the balcony of the Cannery Pier Hotel

What You Need to Know About Oregon LNG

A conversation with Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper

Conversation-DanSerres-webDan Serres is the Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental organization that works to protect the Columbia River,  its fish and wildlife,  and the people that depend on it.  On January 29, 2015 Serres spoke at an informational meeting in Vernonia hosted by Oregon DEQ concerning the Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline projects.  The projects would transport natural gas in a thirty-six inch pipeline from Canada across Washington and Oregon to be exported from a terminal in Warrenton.  The pipeline crosses local timberland and numerous streams and rivers including Rock Creek five miles above the drinking water intake for the City of Vernonia.  On February 26 Serres met with local activists in Vernonia during an organizational meeting to discuss the project.  Vernonia’s Voice met with Serres prior to that meeting to talk about the Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline projects.

 

Vernonia’s Voice: Can you give us some background and the history of this Oregon LNG project?

Dan Serres: Oregon LNG came to Oregon in 2004.  There had been a proposal by Calpine previous to that in Humbolt Bay in California and they were run out by commercial fisherman who didn’t want an LNG terminal that would disrupt commercial fishing there.  So they moved very quickly and quietly north and came to the Columbia River.  They secured a sublease with the Port of Astoria.  At that time they were talking about importing Liquefied Natural Gas, (LNG), and there was no pipeline, just a big terminal plunked down in the middle of Warrenton.  

It was very controversial because people felt like the decision was made behind closed doors without much public knowledge.  In the meantime, Calpine went bankrupt in 2007 and the project was bought by Leucadia National Corporation, a private equity firm in New York, who now fully own it.  They changed the name to Oregon LNG and proposed adding a very large pipeline which would run through Clatsop County, down through Washington and Yamhill Counties, across Marion and Clackamas Counties to Molalla.  

That was the import part of the project with big storage tanks in Warrenton and big tankers coming into the Columbia River.  At that time the promoters of the project were saying that North America was running out of natural gas and we absolutely need to be importing LNG or natural gas prices are going to spike.  That was totally, absolutely wrong.  The same people are now trying to sell us the idea that we have so much natural gas that we need to be liquefying it and exporting it all over the world. They made both those arguments within five years with equal passion and conviction.

The import part of the project faced really fierce opposition in Clatsop County and then equally fierce opposition along the pipeline route in communities like Yamhill, Gaston, Forest Grove, and Molalla.  Farmers, timberland owners, and fisherman organized and teamed up with conservation groups like us.  It was sort of unusual because those groups don’t normally agree on anything, but we were all on the same page.  People did an incredible job of creating political will to say no to LNG and defend their properties by really focusing on stopping the terminals and using the absurd  idea of running these pipeline projects through farms, through really steep and rugged territory and salmon bearing streams.   Read More