Columns from the Community

Schools Update: Making Adjustments for Overcrowded Classrooms

Increased enrollment is a great thing for the vitality and diversity of our schools, as well as for the long-term, financial health of our community and school district. Enrollment is up this year, and we expect that trend to continue.

While this is very positive for our schools and community, it does come with some complications in terms of effectively meeting the needs of those extra students while still being funded based on lower enrollment numbers from the past. Fortunately, we have been able to work through these “growing pains” with some additional hiring since the beginning of this school year.

In addition to an increase in our primary grade enrollment, we have also seen larger class sizes in third, fourth and sixth grades. The following staffing increases have already been added to help alleviate larger class sizes:

•   One full-time Kindergarten-2nd Grade


•   One full-time K-12 Behavior Specialist

•  One extra period of math instruction

at the Middle School

•  Three middle school/high school

teachers increased their schedule by

one period per day, increasing their hours to full-time Read More

Diggin’ in the Dirt: The First Frost

Regional events of note:

All About Fruit Show. Clackamas County Fairgrounds, Canby  10/18-19  from 10am-4pm both days.  $6 entrance fee.


A great opportunity to taste hundreds of apples, pears, kiwi and grapes. You can order a custom-grafted tree, made just for you, to be delivered in the spring. Excellent speakers, experts available to answer all your questions, pie baking contest, exotic fruit sorbet to taste. The Apple ID Team will try to identify your mystery apples.


Fall Mushroom Show. Miller Hall, Western Forestry Center, Portland  10/19  12pm-5pm

Admission: Adults $5; Seniors and students $3; Children under 12 free. Free to OMS Members.

Beautifully arranged tables display wild, locally foraged mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest, carefully picked, identified and arranged to educate the public about fungi. The number and type of mushrooms vary with fruiting conditions. This colorful event also features special interest tables, including mushroom cookery and preservation, toxic mushroom information, dyeing with mushrooms, a truffle exhibit, mushroom themed art, a “Kids Corner”, mushroom cultivation, as well as books, posters, and “grow-your-own-at-home” kits for sale, and much more!! And there are plenty of knowledgeable OMS members on hand to answer questions, identify mushrooms that you bring in, and chat with about fungi. Read More

Natural Path to Health: My Practice

I hope you have been enjoying this AMAZING weather we have been having! There is a big harvest this year. I have been trying to balance my preservation techniques with spending time outside. Rain will come soon and I want to soak up the sun!

There are some reminders I would like to share in regards to my practice. These are mostly just informative. I would like to try and answer some common questions people have and give basic information to people who have not yet visited the office.

What I do: I am a Naturopathic physician and a licensed Acupuncturist with a Doctorate in Naturopathic medicine, a Masters in Oriental medicine and a Bachelors in psychology with minor in sociology.
I am recognized as a PCP (primary care physician) in the state of Oregon and have applied with Columbia County CCO to be recognized as such. If the paperwork is approved that will mean that you can choose to be assigned to me and I will act as your PCP.
I practice spinal manipulation, nutrition, Chinese and Western herbs, Essential oils, homeopathy, acupuncture, well-child check-ups, physical exams, DOT physicals, body work and musculoskeletal techniques including use of TENS and US application. I also have a DEA license to prescribe prescription drugs.  Read More

An Unlikely Culinary Column: Falling in Love With Fall

It is officially one year since we have moved to Halfway. We are thrilled to be part of this community and have learned much in this first year. I am falling in love with fall and all of its beauty and gifts. Our neighbors have blessed us with a large basket of pears and here are some of the recipes that I have enjoyed.

One of my old time favorites is Poached Pears in Red Wine. This is the simplest desert I have ever made. It is decadent and when topped with cream your guests will think that you have gone to a great effort. Any kind of red wine works. Leaving the pears, vanilla and wine simmering for hours will fill up your home with a lovely aroma. This is the perfect desert for having company.

As a California girl making Apple Butter has always sounded romantic. I have made it twice before but find myself never eating it. I tried making Pear Butter for the first time this year and realized that I prefer Pear Butter to almost any fruit that I have canned. This recipe is simple and uses honey instead of sugar so there is no guilt when you eat it alone or put it on EVERYTHING!

For those of you who are eating sugar, chocolate and nuts, this is a fun recipe that you will want to share simply to keep from eating the entire batch yourself. I found this a bit messy but definitely delicious. The temperature of the caramel is key, testing it in a glass of ice water is the best way to ensure that you get the perfect texture. Be patient, mine should have been cooked longer but I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and an abundance of pears, and as always, please let me know what you are cooking.


Poached Pears In Red Wine


•  4 Pears, skinned, halved and the seeds

scooped out  (using a small melon ball

scoop makes it easy)

•  ¾ Bottle of red wine, more if needed

•  ¾ Cup sugar

•  Vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla

•  Heavy cream Read More

The Good Ol’ Days: Fish Tales

Fish Tales

Even with the near-record dry summer, the brief rains in mid-September brought the salmon back to Rock Creek to spawn just in time for Vernonia’s Salmon Festival.  Thanks to Maggie Peyton, Director of the Upper Nehalem Watershed Council, Claudia Chinook, the walk-through salmon, also paid a call.  Maggie recently came upon an article about early-day fishing and the need for clear streams that she shared with Council members, one of whom gave me a copy of the fascinating story.  This writer doesn’t know when it was written or the author’s maiden name; if any reader can supply additional information to the museum on the source of this article or the author, it would be appreciated.

Dora Marlin (presumably her married name) was born in 1916 and at eight years of age moved with her parents and four sisters to a 160 acre farm on Deer Creek and Little Deer Creek near Natal.  She attended Mist School and later Vernonia High School.  Her father was a dairy farmer, and the 160 acres of virgin fir and cedar only had forty partially cleared acres on which they grew crops to feed the family, their cattle and other farm animals.  As was true for many, fishing and hunting provided most of the family’s protein as their only cash income was from the cream they sold to the Raven Dairy in Portland.

Dora was the only one of her sisters who loved to fish, and so she was allowed to get out of her regular farm chores save one when the salmon runs began.  Before first light, she took a lantern to the barn and chopped up carrots, turnips and other root crops to put in wooden buckets for each cow. She then got hay from the hay-mow and grain and molasses from wooden buckets in the barn.  A rich diet for the cows meant high butterfat-content cream which brought a higher price.  This required chore complete, Dora went off to fish with a pole crafted by her father from strong maple wood.  She had to be careful with her fishing line and hooks as these had to be purchased with the family’s scarce cash. Read More

Creature Comforts: My Dog Acts Like a Cow!

If your dog is only eating grass, you should consider yourself lucky. While it isn’t surprising that a dog can eat all kinds of vile, disgusting things, it may be surprising to learn why they do. To understand these behaviors, we need to go back thousands of years, long before dogs were domesticated, when they roamed the countryside in packs, hunting their food, as referenced from an article published out of American Animal Hospital Association: “Dogs and Grass Eating”

Wild dogs ate their food on the run. They hunted all kinds of animals, and ate the whole of the animal, except for things like the skin. They ate the major organs, the muscles and even the bones, all to get the nutrients they needed to be healthy and strong. They didn’t have the easy life of most dogs today. Most of the prey they subsisted on were herbivores. While a dog’s digestive system is strong, it does need vegetable matter to help digest meat proteins, especially those in the raw meat it was eating. They ate the vital organs first; the stomach and intestines of the animals they were eating were full of partially digested vegetable matter.

Even though their digestive processes remain the same, you need to carefully review what your dog is eating to ensure they are getting a well-balanced diet. Without a proper balance of nutrients, a dog will develop all kinds of health problems, just like their human masters. Read More

Things to Ponder-The Lord is Good

Hardly a day goes by that a good dose of encouragement is not a welcome blessing to our heart.  In the Old Testament book of Nahum, the prophet assures Israel that God is their friend.  Nineveh, their mighty enemy threatened their safety and the Lord tells them through Nahum in chapter 1 verse 7, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the darkness.”   The God who made that promise over 2,000 years ago is the same God who wants to be your friend today.  

In the New Testament John records the words of Jesus in chapter 10:14, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  Jesus proved He was not only good, but the right person to put their (our) trust in.  He laid down His life and rose from the dead to prove He had the message of hope they (we) need to face uncertain times.  Their world, just like ours, was filled with turmoil, fear, and questions about the future.  Jesus gave them the answers they longed for.   Their fears about death and dying where softened by His post crucifixion appearances.   Faith in God provides the safest refuge possible because it offers us hope of deliverance from our greatest enemy, death.   Death is not a pleasant subject but a reality everyone must face. Read More

Schools Update: Making Progress


Classrooms and hallways are once again filled with the sweet sounds of working and learning. Preparations will soon be made for Homecoming Week (October 13-17). Preliminary enrollment numbers show an 8.9% increase in enrollment with 48 more students attending Vernonia Schools compared to June of last year. Overall it has been a great start for our new school year.

While students are busy making academic progress, the Vernonia School District and its partners are making progress toward long-term financial and facilities’ goals.

• The Vernonia City Council recently approved the waiver of all remaining System Development Charges for the school district. This generous decision will provide the schools with over $111,000 worth of debt relief over the next three years. Thank you very much to our partners at the City!

• Vernonia Champions,  State Representative Brad Witt and State Senator Betsy Johnson combined their legislative efforts to provide another $212,500 for the District to support our continuing fundraising efforts. A unanimous vote by the Legislative Emergency Board freed up this funding from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s Local Disaster Assistance Loan and Grant Program. Thank you Representative Witt and Senator Johnson for your continuing efforts on behalf of our schools and our entire community! Read More

Voices From the Crowd: My Thoughts on Vernonia Schools

  I’ve had a year to reflect on the choice we made to uproot our family after seventeen years and move to Vernonia and away from everything we know and everyone we love, including our schools and familiar teachers in the Hillsboro and Beaverton School Districts. 

When recently asked what our thoughts were on our new school situation, my first initial idea was, “I thought I was moving to a nightmare but possibly ended up finding a little bit of heaven.”

We moved from extremely overcrowded schools. My kids succeeded much more in the class rooms in the grade school when they had a good student/teacher relationship. In other words, the teachers knew the kids. In Washington County, once my children hit middle school and high school, it became visible that students became numbers. Classes were overflowing and with these high numbers came a disconnect between student and teacher. With higher numbers, individual needs were next to impossible to meet. This brought the question, “Is the time spent at school truly worth the 6 ½ hours that my children are there? Is it even worth the teacher’s time?” Even the sports programs were overcrowded. Extremely talented players were not able to play because there were simply too many students crammed up into the schools. Deserving players missed the opportunity for experience and scholarships due to the fact of the overcrowded issue. Some of my family described it as “suffocating.”

As a parent, I felt I couldn’t breathe. I was subsequently consumed at all times; consumed with finding other options for my children’s education; consumed with trying to find tutors; consumed with searching for other opportune moments in sports; consumed with over-volunteering to try to help out; consumed with politics to try to fix the budget problems and help avoid cutting programs; consumed with keeping up with my own budget because all the money was going somewhere else to make up the difference missed in school and sports, the very system that I was pouring taxes into already. It was, in fact, suffocating and frustrating.  Read More

An Unlikely Culinary Column: Fresh Blackberry Deliciousness

Culinary-Blackberry-webMy first year of picking fresh berries has been an adventure in harvesting and cooking. Blackberries proved to be equally as rewarding. I am not going to complain about my stained fingers and scraped hands and legs. Those luscious berries filled with healthy antioxidants are simply delicious and I would like to have as many stored in my freezer as I can, for all kinds of delicious treats. 

Blintzes are one of those decadent dishes that I have only ever eaten at a restaurant. They are rich in flavor and just eating one is fully satisfying. After I made the crepes recipe….twice, I was encouraged to try Blintzes, it was my gateway recipe to attempting to make this delicate crepe filled with ricotta and topped with the most delicious syrup I have ever made. There is no hiding the calorie and sugar content, not to mention the effort that is needed to make this dish. I would suggest you try this recipe; it is great for any special occasion. Blintzes are not difficult by any means but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it takes a bit of effort.  Read More