Columns from the Community

Schools Update: Sustainable Building Design

The Vernonia Schools building has earned national recognition for its sustainable, green-building design and technology. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program rated the building LEED Platinum, their highest rating, and the first in the nation awarded to an integrated K-12 school building.

The Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes Certification also awarded the new building high marks, rating it 3 Green Globes, their second highest rating. Green Globes Certification is an emerging alternative to LEED that is favored by many of our timber and forestry partners, and has recently been approved by the U.S. General Services Administration for federal ratings. Our school is one of the few projects to attain dual certification.

Designing the new building to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly was a major goal of the district, and these certification levels are a reward for those design efforts.

Points were earned through these rating systems for utilizing renewable energy resources, re-using and recycling of building materials, improving the efficiency and performance of the building to reduce environmental impact, improving sustainable practices within the building after construction is complete and many other efforts. Read More

Things To Ponder: The Promise of Eternal Life

Can you remember looking up at your father and thinking he was a giant?  My dad wasn’t that tall, but when I was kid he sure seemed big to me.  While I was growing up all I could think about was getting older and gaining more freedom.  When I was in the 3rd grade I used to walk by Willard Junior High school in Santa Ana, California and dream about being one of those older kids.  Time has flown by and now I’m almost seventy years old.  I’ll have to admit being older is no longer my goal. 

Somehow it seems like all the things I thought getting older would bring haven’t materialized. I anticipated liberty from parental mandates, but discovered a whole new world of responsibilities.  Time to do whatever I wanted has turned into a routine of obligations that must be fulfilled so that I don’t feel like life has no substance and meaning.  As I grow older it seems like life has taken on a whole new set of priorities.

Once young and strong, now showing signs of age and weakness forces me to think about what is next.  The Bible plants the seeds of eternity in our hearts.  We can’t help but think about what happens when this life comes to an end.  Is this all there is?  Or is there something better waiting for us in eternity?   Read More

Things To Ponder: What If?

There are many things I am thankful for, but few compare to the introduction my college buddies gave me to the vast Southwestern landscapes of Arizona.  Jack, Lenny and I were best friends in college and did almost everything together.  At one point we even shared a house to help cut back on expenses.  We rafted, hiked, and drove hundreds of miles to explore unknown territory.  

One spring weekend we invited some friends to join us for a hiking trip to Havasupi Falls, which is in the Grand Canyon.  We entered the Canyon descending down a steep one mile series of switchbacks to a sandy stream bed that opened up eleven miles later into a spacious area with trees, beautiful horses and houses.  At the end of the stream bed we passed through a village where the Havasupi Indians make their home.  It was extremely remote, but overwhelmingly beautiful.

Soon after we had started down the trail, my feet began to hurt and I was overwhelmed by sharp, shooting pains that ran all the way to my knees.  There wasn’t anywhere to sit comfortably so I thought the one mile down to a flatter spot couldn’t do too much damage.

When we finally stopped I took off my boots only to discover a series of small bloody holes in both my socks.  Apparently the person who recently re-soled my boots used nails that were too long and they punctured my feet.  Needless to say my feet caused me a great deal of misery for quite a while because of my foolishness. Read More

Schools Update: State Standards

Each year school districts are required to report to their communities on whether or not their academic programs are meeting state law. Division 22 standards are a part of Oregon Administrative Rules (Chapter 581, Division 22) that dictate areas of compliance with a wide variety of these state standards. A report on the Vernonia School District’s compliance with these standards was shared at its last Board Meeting on Thursday, January 8.

These standards include such areas as providing Career Education, assuring that all coaches have concussion training, having district curriculum that is aligned with Common Core State Standards, reporting on the size of our physical education facilities, and assuring that Equal Educational Opportunities are available for all students.

The Vernonia School District is currently meeting 54 of the 55 required Division 22 Standards. The one standard not being met is the requirement for providing 990 hours of Instructional Time for students in grades 9-12. Vernonia High School students are just shy of that amount at 976 hours of instruction. This deficiency will be reported to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) in February, along with a plan to eliminate this deficiency. Three extra days of school were added to this year’s instructional calendar to increase instructional time at all schools, and 2-3 more instructional days will be added to next year’s calendar to ensure the district meets this standard. Read More

An Unlikely Culinary Column: All Things Peppermint

I often refer to my old standby recipes for holiday sweets but this year I wanted to try something new. I have never really cooked with peppermint and have never made Biscotti, so, of course, I had to give it a whirl. I must add, while making Biscotti was a bit time consuming, it is a simple recipe to follow. I definitely will make this again.

Just a warning… the other two recipes are very sweet. I knew when I found them they would be rich, but as they say, “A little dab will do ya!” I really enjoyed cooking this pepperminty theme. I think each of these sweet treats will go perfectly with your afternoon tea.

Thank you to those who have been giving me great recipe ideas, I am working on a few fabulous dishes. Have a great holiday season folks.


CulinaryPeppermint8-webPeppermint Biscotti



¾ Cup Butter softened

¾ Cup Sugar

3 Eggs

2 Teaspoons peppermint extract

3 ¼ Cups all-purpose flour

1 Teaspoon baking powder

¼ Teaspoon salt

1 Cup crushed peppermint candies


2 Cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons shortening

½  Cup crushed peppermint candies

(In lieu of making your own frosting you can use Dolci Frutta hard chocolate shell.)


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir in peppermint candy. Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating until blended (dough will be stiff).

Divide dough in half. On an ungreased baking sheet, shape each portion into a 12-in. x 2½-in. rectangle. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove to wire racks; cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a sharp knife into ½-inch slices. Place cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle (or brush) over biscotti; sprinkle with candy. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3½ dozen Read More

Schools Update: Happy Holidays!

Winter vacation is a time for students to be with family, take a break from school and just be kids. While it is a time to rejuvenate, parents can continue to keep their students thinking. Everyday life, and holiday travels, are full of opportunities for students of all ages to use and maintain their essential academic skills. Here are a few ideas to try with your kids.

Cook a meal together. Cooking involves technical reading skills, organization and the use of measurement and fractions.  It is also a great time for children to learn responsibility while spending quality time with their family. Real world activities such as these help tie together academic learning with practical use.

Take a trip. While driving to grandma’s house, or anywhere else, play a game that uses the words and numbers on cars and signs. Use mileage signs to work on math skills. How far have you traveled? What is the distance between towns? How long will it take to get there at your current rate of speed? Which direction are you headed? Go old school and use a map. Get there and have fun doing it.

Watch the weather. Will it snow? Will it affect our travel? What kind of clothes should we take based on the weather? What will be the best weather days for our vacation plans?

Read. Curl up with a good book. Read a favorite magazine. Go to the library. Read and write letters and thank you letters. Help your child develop an interest they want to learn about and find reading materials to support their curiosity. Read, read, read! Read More

Another Round: More Words of Wisdom About Beer

AnotherRoundTapsBirk-webTaps Around Town- One of my favorite places to have a pint in the Vernonia area is The Birk where they feature beers exclusively from Astoria Brewing Co.  The last time we were out there, Mike and Wendy were pouring a really nice variety that included Strawberry Blonde, Volksweissen, Solar Dog IPA, Old Red Beard Amber, and Poop Deck Porter… a little something for everyone to go along with their dinner menu and fantastic lineup of great live music.  What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday night.  Head to The Birk… it’s not that far!

Upcoming Events: Holiday Ale Festival- One of our favorite ways to welcome the winter weather and herald the holiday season is to head to Portland for the annual Holiday Ale Festival.  This year’s five day fest, from Wednesday, December 3rd through Sunday, December 7th marks the 19th year for gathering under the clear tents in Pioneer Courthouse Square and tasting over 50 specially created and limited release rich, complex and robust beers and ales.  It’s a special treat to kick off the holiday season!

Speaking of the Holidays- Many Oregon Breweries produce what have now become a yearly tradition-seasonal beers for the holidays, some of which are available right here in Vernonia at R&S Market.  Right now you can grab a six pack of Ninkasi Sleighr, a dark double alt ale; Pelican Brewing Company’s Bad Santa, a Cascadian Dark Ale, Deschutes Brewing’s Jubel Ale, and Widmer Brothers’ Brrr.  Read More

Another Round: More Words of Wisdom About Beer

Worth the Trip: Columbia County Brewing – Tucked away and hidden in the heart of St. Helens is a new brew pub which is turning out to be a real hit–and not just for their beer.

AnotherRoundCCBTastingRoom-webLocated at 164 South 15th Street (at the corner of Columbia Blvd.), Trent Dolyniuk and son-in-law Ed Rosenlund opened Columbia County Brewing (CCB) in May of this year and have been almost overwhelmed by the popularity of their brews and the food they are serving.

“We’ve been very busy,” said Dolyniuk during a recent visit to the pub and brewery.

Dolyniuk, who also owns Blackbird Catering, is in charge of the food and the pub.  Rosenlund, who manages the beer side of things, had been home brewing for about ten years before the family (wives Kelly and Sam are equal partners in the endeavor) starting mapping out plans to start a brewery last Thanksgiving.

Today CCB can barely keep up with the demand.  What was originally the catering kitchen for Blackbird has been converted into a small, (some might even call it tiny), tasting room and pub, with three taps.   Dolyniuk has ingeniously expanded the seating area with an enclosed and heated tent space.  “We initially planned to be mainly a tasting room and have a couple people coming by occasionally for a few meals – it has become much more than that,” says Dolyniuk.  “People come to drink AND eat!”AnotherRoundCCBOutsideSeating-web

The limited but extremely popular menu had just five main items, the most popular being, according to Dolyniuk, the BBQ Brisket Mac Daddy, a beef brisket resting between two griddle seared slabs of mac’ n’ cheese. Other items: a long hot dog, pulled pork sandwich, curry vegetable risotto and black bean brisket chili. The large servings are not inexpensive ($10-$16) but have been surprisingly popular.

“The beer gets them here and is the driver of the whole operation,” explains Dolyniuk.  “Then they try the food and think, ‘…this is pretty good food for a brew pub,’ and then we get them back.”

Dolyniuk is also especially proud of the extensive whiskey selection they serve in the pub; he described it as “…maybe the most extensive in all of Columbia County,” with over thirty bottles on the shelf.

So, about that beer.  Rosenlund, is making very clean, well thought out, and well-crafted beers. He currently has a two barrel system with a sixty gallon brew kettle which he double batches to make 120 gallons at a time.  He’s in the process of upgrading to a seven barrel system to keep up with demand.

We tasted the two beers that were on tap.  The Westy Wheat was refreshing and flavorful.

The Double Hard Hat IPA is dry hopped and was especially clean with a smooth finish which wasn’t intensely hoppy.

“From the beginning we’ve tried to make food and beer for the people here in Columbia County,” says Dolyniuk.   “They have a different palette than the people in Portland or Eugene or some other market.  We have people that want an IPA but not one that’s overpowering, but one that’s nice and drinkable.”

CCB also serves Redwood, a red described as “malty and not too hoppy.”  Roselund also had a Hell-for-Stout in the works and says he’s hoping to try a Saison in the spring.  He also brews another popular beer, called Alder, which uses grains smoked on the BBQ.  He says he tries to brew styles according to the seasons. Look for a batch of hard cider, expected to be ready for Christmas.

Although Rosenlund is struggling to keep his own taps flowing, Columbia County Brewing is also on tap at The Dockside in Old Town St. Helens and available for growler fills at Skinny’s on Highway 30.

The brewery is set up in what used to be Al’s Automatic Transmission Shop, and has lots of room to grow.  Rosenlund who grew up in the Yankton/Goble area and graduated from Rainier High School, used to work as a pipe fitter, so he is right at home scavenging metal and building and retrofitting his own brewing equipment.  Pacific Stainless, a local St. Helens company, is helping with some fabrication.  Slowly and steadily production capabilities are being improved, upgraded and expanded  to meet demand.

If you’re ever in the St. Helens area, or looking for a nice short road trip, make sure to stop in and try the food and beer at Columbia County Brewing.

Columbia County Brewing is open Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 10 PM.  You can check them out on Facebook.

AnotherRound-KringleBeer-Bottle-cropped-webHere come the Holidays - With the holidays just around the corner, McMenamins’ brewers have been busy-as-elves brewing up a special gift for your taste buds: Kris Kringle Holiday Ale. So special that they’re calling this year’s version of Kris Kringle a “winter warmer” for its rich, toasty and chocolaty malt flavors.

This traditional yuletide ale with bold malt complexity is the perfect brew to enjoy at McMenamins pubs during the holiday months.  Kris Kringle will be available at all McMenamins locations from November 14 through December 24.


The Good Ol’ Days

Museum News

We wish everyone the best for Christmas, the other December holidays and the New Year.  If you’re looking for a last minute gift for someone with Vernonia connections, stop by the museum during our open hours, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 – 4 pm.  We have copies of both books on Vernonia history and music CDs by Hobe Kytr and Timberbound as well as a selection of DVDs of photos and videos of Vernonia events.  The Vernonia books are also on sale at R&S Market (formerly Sentry).

We also want to thank our members, donors, visitors, and volunteers for helping us keep Vernonia history alive and accessible.  Thanks to Mike Snow of ArtAttack! we’ll soon have a new sign in the outdoor equipment shed thanking those who helped make our two most recent projects possible.

The Malmsten Family in Vernonia, Part 2

After his return to Vernonia from the odd jobs he’d taken in the St. Helens area, Franklin continued to work his homestead.  By 1895, his father, Olof, had proved up his own homestead and decided to return to Minnesota.  Franklin and his brother Otto accompanied him on the long walk to St. Helens, each carrying a suitcase weighing from fifty to seventy-five pounds.  They took a steamboat to Portland where Olof boarded the train to St. Paul.  Otto and Franklin returned to Vernonia on foot.

Franklin resumed timber falling and other odd jobs around Vernonia.  He befriended Dorr Keasey, grandson of Eden Keasey whose land claim was five miles up Rock Creek; much of that land remains in the Keasey family to this day.  Franklin and Dorr worked together in a local sawmill.  When the engineer at the mill was fired for not keeping the steam power steady, Franklin got the job as both engineer and fireman.

Franklin went back to logging for a short time with Frank Brown, a former sheriff from Maine.  He next took a job as a dump cart driver on a new railroad that was being built between Rainier and Astoria and Seaside followed by a stint with Northern Pacific near Warren.  When his parents, his brother Sidney, and Olof’s brother Andrew, returned to Vernonia in December 1897, Franklin rejoined his family.  Olof and his wife, Louisa, bought seven acres on two adjoining lots on the Nehalem River by what is now Mist Drive.  The family lived in an existing home that burned in later years; the barn they built still stands at Farmwoman’s Nursery.

Franklin, still a bachelor, wasn’t sure about remaining in Oregon; in April 1898 he returned to the family farms in Minnesota where he partnered with his brother, Elon.  He traded half interest in his Vernonia quarter section for half interest in Elon’s farm equipment.  They farmed both Malmsten family farms until Olof sold them in 1902; the brothers then rented nearby properties and continued farming.

Two weeks after Franklin returned to Minnesota, his brother Charles came to Vernonia and filed for 160 acres on Pebble Creek Road.  Elon married in 1899, and Frankin attended the state agricultural college in St. Paul where he studied agriculture, animal husbandry, mathematics, and steam engineering.  He then went to a business school in Minneapolis for a three month course in bookkeeping, arithmetic and language.  Shortly after the sale of the family farms, Franklin visited Iowa and met Bessie Anderson to whom he was married in 1903. His wedding coat and their wedding picture are among the Malmsten artifacts on display at the Vernonia Pioneer Museum.

Franklin harvested the 1903 crop on the rented farm and moved to Swea City, Iowa, where he went into partnership with his brother-in-law in a hardware business.  Franklin and Bessie came to Vernonia in late 1906 with their baby daughter, Hazel, to visit his parents who had not yet met his wife or child.  They decided to remain in Vernonia.  Franklin sold his share of the hardware business, and Bessie and Hazel returned briefly to Iowa to sell the household goods that they didn’t ship to Oregon.

In 1907 Franklin decided to build a saw mill with his three brothers (Charles, Sidney and Elon, the last brother to come to Oregon) and a Mr. Hurt.  They called their business “Vernonia Lumber and Fuel.”  The mill was located near where the New Hong Kong Restaurant stands today.  With all the brothers and parents now in Vernonia, they set up a telephone line between their homes and let other neighbors join in.  At first known informally as “The Swede Line,” it became the foundation of the Nehalem Telephone Company.

Part 3 will complete our brief history of the Malmsten Family in our January column.


From Virgil Powell’s Diary

Virgil Powell (1887-1963) was a long-time resident whose family had a farm in the Upper Nehalem Valley between Natal and Pittsburg.  Each year from 1906 until 1955, he kept a regular diary of his activities.  It appears that a woman named Alice was his sweetheart in 1906 and 1907 but, as usual, the details are definitely lacking!   At the end of his 1907 diary, Virgil noted that he had sent 38 post cards to Alice in 1906 through January 15, 1907, and 23 leather post cards.

Friday, December 20:  Went down to the Pringle School House in the morning and took one of the library books down.  Also hunted for some pheasants.  Pretty fair day but awful cold.

Tuesday, December 24:  Started down for the shooting match at Natal at 9 and got back at 4:30.  Had a pretty good time.  Started for Vernonia doings at 6 and got back at 12:30.  Had a pretty good time.  Did not rain any all day but cold.  Received two postals from Alice.  Got 7 altogether.

Wednesday, December 25:  Did not do much but stay in the house all day because it rained awful hard all day.  Received a postal from Dee.

Thursday, December 26:  Went up to Pittsburg the first thing in the morning to mail some letters.  Pretty fair day.  Sent a postal to Alice.  Received a note from Alice asking me down next Saturday night.  The mail has not been over from Clatskanie since Monday.

Saturday, December 28:  Went down to Pringles in the morning and heard the phonograph for a while.  Snowed a little and a terrible bad day.  Received a short letter from Alice.  Started down to Petersons at 6:45 p.m. and had one of the best times I have had for a long time.  Got home at 2:30 a.m.

Tuesday, December 31:  Was getting ready for the dance at Vernonia most of morning.  Started for Vernonia at 3 p.m.  Got there at 4.  Alice was my partner for the evening.  Had a fair time.  Left the dance at 3:30 a.m. and got home at 5:30.  Slept till 9.  Myrtle and Henry came.


The Vernonia Pioneer Museum is located at E. 511 Bridge Street and is open from 1 to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays (excluding holidays) all year.  From June through mid-September, the museum is also open on Fridays from 1 – 4 pm.  There is no charge for admission but donations are always welcome.   Become a member of the museum for an annual $5 fee to receive the periodic newsletter, and if you are a Facebook user, check out the new Vernonia Pioneer Museum page created by Bill Langmaid. The museum volunteers are always pleased to enlist additional volunteers to help hold the museum open and assist in other ways.  Please stop by and let one of the volunteers know of your interest in helping out. 

The Good Ol’ Days

Museum News

We were pleased to have a visit in early November from Mark and Gordon Greathouse, sons of Kathryn Malmsten Greathouse, and their niece, a recent Pacific University grad.  Their great-grandfather Olof  Malmsten and several of his children were some of Vernonia’s early “movers and shakers.”  Mark and his wife, Helena, established the Malmsten Family Fund at the museum.  That fund has enabled us to restore and display Malmsten photos and artifacts in addition to supporting other projects.

The Malmsten Family in Vernonia, Part 1

Vernonia had its share of boom and bust cycles before the turn of the 20th century. Following the first wave of farming homesteaders in the 1870s, rumors of a railroad that would link Portland to the coast brought new residents who hoped for the economic benefit of rail service through a remote rural town.

Olof Malmsten, a master blacksmith, emigrated to the United States from Sweden in 1852.  After several years of working in his trade and buying and selling farm properties in Minnesota, Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, he acquired a 160 acre farm in Vasa, Minnesota, to which he brought his fellow Swedish immigrant bride, Maria.  In 1887 he traveled to eastern Oregon with one of his four sons, Elon, to visit an old friend and to investigate land around Pendleton.  He returned home to Vasa when his family sent word about an insect infestation that was threatening their crops.

Still interested in Oregon, Olof and his oldest son, Otto,  left for Oregon on June 12, 1889, arriving in Vernonia eight days later.  He had heard of the famous Nehalem Valley from his friend, Simon Johnson, of Mist, Oregon.  Olof and Otto both took up homesteads in Oregon three months later, in part because a railroad survey had been made.  The railroad was expected to be built soon, but that didn’t happen for another thirty-two years.

Otto contested a claim of 160 acres one and half miles southeast of Vernonia on Pebble Creek Road where Pebble Creek empties into the Nehalem.  William Adams had forfeited his right to the homestead by being absent over six months; Otto and Olof moved in.  Olof then went northeast of Vernonia on Crooked Creek where a settlement of Swedish people lived.  He filed for 160 acres northeast of Vernonia.   Both Olof and Otto got various jobs in Mist, Scappoose and Vernonia.  Olof, a horseshoer and blacksmith, had no problem staying busy.  Read More