Vernonia Community News

PCC Columbia County Update

• In November, PCC was awarded a planning grant from the Ford Family Foundation to explore how our Future Connect program model could be implemented in rural communities in PCC’s district, including Columbia County. Future Connect is a scholarship and support program that provides low income/first generation college students with support to access and succeed in college. PCC staff will reach out to stakeholders in Columbia County and western Washington County over the next year to learn how Future Connect might be implemented in rural communities. To learn more about this exceptional program, please visit http://www.pcc.edu/resources/future-connect/.

• Vernonia High School has started a Distance Learning Program through PCC which allows students to earn both high school and college credits simultaneously. It began last fall as a pilot program and successfully engaged 16 students in a college-level writing course. The goal is to develop the program and offer a diverse array of classes. This program, supported by Vernonia School District and offered at no cost to participating students, is an excellent opportunity to get a running start at college-level work.

• Always eager to recycle usable goods, Rock Creek Campus made its second major surplus donation to Vernonia Schools in November. The school received 21 computer tables, 50 overhead storage bins, one ADA standing desk and 12 Dell flat screen monitors. The donation was valued at $11,600. Rock Creek made an earlier donation to Vernonia in May. The value of that delivery of 85 computers and 47 flat screen monitors was assessed at $17,450. The total Rock Creek surplus donation to Vernonia Schools in 2014 was $29,050. Read More

Local Board Positions Up for Election

Several positions on the Vernonia School Board, the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors, the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors and the Columbia 9-1-1 Communictions District Board of Directors will be up for election on May 19, 2015.

On the Vernonia School Board positions 2 (held by Greg Kintz), 3 (held by Tim Bamburg) and 7 (held by Board Chair Bill Langmaid) will all be open for election.  These are all four year positions.  Langmaid has declared he will not seek re-election.

On the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors positions 2 (held by Joel Glass), 3 (held by Don Schulte), and 4 (held by Terry Lindauer) are all up for election.  All are four year positions.  Lindauer has indicated he plans to run for re-election.

On the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors positions 1 (held by Larry Boxman), 2 (held by Joanie Jones), and 4 (held by Barbara Smith) are up for election.  Positions 1 and 2 are four year terms; position 4 is a two year term.

At the Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District Zone 1 (Clatskanie, held by Dee Wooley), Zone 2 (which is vacant) and Zone 4 (Vernonia, held by Kathy Denckla) are all up for election.

Each candidate for an office listed above must file a declaration of candidacy accompanied by a filing fee of $10.00 or a petition for nomination signed by at least 25 registered voters residing in the election district for the office, with the Elections Department of Columbia County by no later than 5:00 PM on March 19, 2015.

Filing forms are available on-line at the Secretary of State, Elections Division

http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/electionforms.aspx. The forms are also available at Columbia County Elections Dept., 230 Strand St., St. Helens, OR.

Feral Cat Project Helps Over 350 Animals

The Feral Cat Project is another example of how one person can make a difference.

Kim Tierney recognized that following the flood of 2007 Vernonia had developed a feral cat problem. In July of 2013 she decided to do something about it.

Tierney began encouraging local citizens to use live traps and capture feral cats in and around their neighborhoods.  Tierney then transports the cats to Portland where she works and drops them off at the Feral Cat Coalition where the cats are spayed and neutered and receive shots and other needed health care.  The cats are then returned to the neighborhoods where they came from, but now unable to reproduce and increase the local feral cat problem.

In eighteen months Tierney has now helped spay and neuter 358  local feral cats.

Tierney says she has not been working alone.  “We’ve had  a lot of care givers who have been doing their part to help out,” says Tierney.  “ We’ve also had people who have fostered and socialized kittens until we could find permanent homes for them.  This really has been a community effort.”

Tierney specifically mentioned Cindy Ball, Alexis Posley, Colleen Posley, Shyanne Carlyle and Romona Carlyle as having given a lot of time and support to the program. Read More

Pipeline Safety a Concern at Oregon LNG Meeting

About fifty citizens were in attendance on January 29, 2015 at the Cabin in Vernonia during what was billed as an informational meeting hosted by the State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The project is being proposed by Oregon LNG and Oregon Pipeline, two related corporations that are currently seeking permits for the liquid natural gas processing project.

The project and permits are currently under review by several regulatory agencies.

OLNG,DEQMeeting-Crowd-webLocal citizens asked questions and raised concerns about the safety of a proposed natural gas high pressure pipeline that could be constructed near the Vernonia community and the accompanying export terminal in Warrenton.

The meeting was held to discuss the 401 water quality certification process for the Oregon LNG project which includes the export terminal and the eighty-five mile pipeline which crosses Columbia, Tillamook, and Clatsop Counties.  Citizens were encouraged to ask questions and provide comments on the proposed project, specifically relating to water quality.  According to the public notice inviting citizens to attend, the meeting was not intended to answer technical questions about the project.

Sara Christensen, DEQ’s 401 Water Quality Certification Coordinator, and Jennifer Purcell, Regional Coordinator for DEQ, were part of a panel who fielded questions from the audience.  The panel also included Mike Turaski, Chief of Portland Permits Section and Richard Chong, Project Manager, both from the US Army Corps of Engineers and Patrick Wingard from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

The audience included Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell, Vernonia City Councilor Jill Hult, a representative  from US House Representative Suzanne Bonamici’s office and Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental watch dog group which has been following this project for many years.  No representative from Columbia County or state representative or senator’s offices were in attendance.

The six billion dollar project, in development since 2004, would include an LNG export terminal in Warrenton.  The project proposes taking natural gas obtained from Canada through the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and transporting it across Washington through an expanded Williams Northwest Pipeline.  The pipeline would cross the Columbia River near Columbia City, OR and Woodland, WA and then traverse Columbia County in a thirty-six inch pipeline.  At the Warrenton plant the natural gas would be converted to liquefied natural gas in order to be shipped to potential Asian markets. Read More

Vernonia Health Center Has New Physician Assistant

VHC-PhysicianAssistantKimLovato-webA new Physician Assistant has been hired as the permanent  primary care provider at the Vernonia Health Clinic. Kimberly Lovato, PA-C began her position on January 5th. The Vernonia Health Center will continue its partnership with Pacific University and The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County to provide medical care. Students in the PA program at Pacific University will continue to do rotations in the health center under the supervision of the PA.

Lovato has practiced rural family medicine for seven years and has experience diagnosing, treating, and providing support and maintenance of a wide scope of medical conditions from pediatric to geriatric patients. She is highly skilled in assisting patients to reach their goals in chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, COPD, endocrine and coagulation disorders. Dr. Eubanks will continue to supervise the clinic. Melissa Walsh, who provided the bulk of coverage at the Vernonia Health Center during the search for a permanent provider, will continue her practice at the school-based health center at the Vernonia Schools.

To schedule an appointment at the Vernonia Health Center, please call (503) 429-0622.

PSU Students to Design Pedestrian Bridge for Trail

Graduate students from the Portland State University (PSU) School of Civil and Environmental Engineering will be working to design a pedestrian bridge to cross the Nehalem River as part of their capstone project.

Four groups of students have chosen to work on the project under the direction of PSU instructor Even Kristof.PSUEngineeringStudents-web

The proposed bridge will connect the Crown Zellerbach Trail to Vernonia Lake.  The trail currently terminates at Knott Street, but Columbia County personnel are attempting to extend the trail to Coon Creek Road and then develop the river crossing somewhere in that area.

The PSU students received an introduction to the project from Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde and Columbia County Parks Manager Glen Crinklaw and toured potential sites for the bridge crossing on January 9.  The students will continue to work in the area during the next several months. They will work closely with staff from the Columbia County Roads Department, including Engineering Project Coordinator Tristan Wood and Crinklaw.

“Walk Your Wheels” Help Make Our Sidewalks Safer

People often wonder if one person really can make a difference.  Paula Hanson has proven once again that they can.

Hanson is the inspiration and creator of “Walk Your Wheels,” a campaign designed to make Vernonia’s downtown corridor safer for pedestrians and encourage courtesy and consideration on Vernonia’s sidewalks.

WalkYourWheels-SignOnly-webThe  “Walk Your Wheels” safety program Hanson initiated involves signage in Vernonia’s downtown that reminds bicyclists, skateboarders, scooter riders  and users of other wheeled devices that the City has an ordinance prohibiting riding on sidewalks in certain portions of town.  Three signs were recently installed at local businesses and more will be in place shortly.

“We’re hoping these signs become familiar and that people understand what it means,” says Hanson.

The “Walk Your Wheels” program does not suggest that riders move into the street, but instead encourages them to walk their wheeled device on sidewalks where riding is prohibited.

The signs references city ordinance 764 which controls vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The ordinance prohibits use of wheeled devices on Bridge Street from Weed Avenue to California along with adjacent side streets that include Madison Avenue and Jefferson Avenue between Bridge and Maple Avenue.

“We’re not chasing people off the sidewalks, we just want them to be aware of and courteous of our foot traffic,” says Hanson.

According to Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner, violation of the ordinance is punishable by a $50 fine.  Conner says his officers will initially give warnings to violators, especially for visitors to the community who may not be familiar with the ordinance.  Read More

DEQ Announces Informational Meeting on Oregon LNG in Vernonia

DEQ has announced it will host two informational meetings on a 401 water quality certification for the proposed Oregon LNG pipeline project. DEQ will hold the meetings in Vernonia on Thursday, January 29 at 6:00 PM at the Cabin in Vernonia. DEQ will also host a meeting in Warrenton on Tuesday, January 27.

DEQ’s public comment period on the proposed Oregon LNG 401 water quality certification application has been extended and now closes on Monday, February 16, 2015.

The proposed thirty-six inch pipeline would travel just northwest of Vernonia.  It would connect with the Williams Pipeline in Woodland Washington, crossing the Columbia River into Oregon near Dear Island and travel across Columbia and Clatsop Counties.  The total length of proposed pipe in Oregon is eighty-six miles.  The pipeline would transport natural gas from Canada through Washington to a proposed terminal in Warrenton, OR, where the gas would be sold and shipped overseas, most likely to Asian markets.

Marilyn Tatman lives on 32 acres at the end of Creekview Lane off Keasey Road.  The proposed pipeline would cross Rock Creek along the eastern property line of the Tatman’s property, four miles above Vernonia. The Tatmans are one of the few small private property owners directly affected by the proposed route of the pipeline.  The proposed route mostly travels along roads and across some timberland.

Tatman says she is concerned for several reasons including possible environmental degradation as well as safety concerns.

Among Tatman’s chief concerns is the fact that the pipeline crosses Rock Creek, the water source for the City of Vernonia as well as numerous residents along the water route.  “We pump our water out of Rock Creek and so do a lot of other people below where the pipeline would cross,” says Tatman.   Read More

Vernonia Man Dies in Single Vehicle Crash on Highway 47

Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into a single vehicle, single fatality crash on highway 47 near milepost 54.5, just north of Vernonia.

Preliminary investigation of the crash indicates that for unknown reasons, a Grey, 2008 Subaru Outback,operated by NATHAN J. JACKSON, 36, of Vernonia, was southbound on highway 47 near milepost 54.5 when it crossed the northbound lane and left the roadway, striking a tree. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene. Alcohol is being investigated as a potential contributing factor.

OSP was assisted at the scene by the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Mist Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District.

DEQ Announces Informational Meeting on Oregon LNG in Vernonia

DEQ has announced it will host two informational meetings on a 401 water quality certification for the proposed Oregon LNG project. DEQ will hold the meetings in Vernonia on Thursday, January 29 at 6:00 PM at the Cabin in Vernonia. DEQ will also host a meeting in Warrenton on Tuesday January 27.

DEQ’s public comment period on the proposed Oregon LNG 401 water quality certification application has been extended and now closes on Monday, Feb 16, 2015.

The proposed pipeline would travel just north of Vernonia.

A 401 water quality certification is required for any federally licensed or permitted projects that may result in a discharge into navigable waters. Specifically, DEQ provides the certification to ensure that work permitted under a federal Clean Water Act Section 404 Dredge/Fill Permit will meet state water quality standards. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues the Section 404 Dredge/Fill Permit.

The purpose of the upcoming informational meetings is to provide the public with an opportunity to ask questions about DEQ’s 401 water quality certification process. Representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Oregon Department of State Lands and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation & Development also will attend the meetings.  Read More