Columns from the Community

Diggin’ in the Dirt: Squash and Cucumber Comments

Food preservation and food safety

Want to learn how to safely preserve produce from your garden this summer?   The OSU Extension Service in Columbia County offers food preservation information and resources.  Here is a list of services that we provide:

·         Free Printed Publications and Safe Canning Recipes

·         Online Publications and Recipes:

·         Free Pressure Canner Gauge Testing (call ahead before bringing in your gauge)

·         Direct assistance from the Extension office in St. Helens. Call 503 397-3462

·         Food Preservation and Food Safety Hotline from July 14 through October 17, 2014, 9 am – 4 pm Monday- Friday.   1-800-354-7319

·         A list of our hands-on canning classes can be found on our website:  or call our office at 503 397-3462


Squash and cucumber comments

Most gardeners have lots of winter squash. Varieties such as Acorn, Buttercup, Butternut, and Hubbard (to name a few) will store well for at least four months. Harvesting the oldest squash can start now. Clip the squash from the vine leaving a couple inches of stem except with Hubbard squash which store best with the stems removed. Wash squash with a mix of one part bleach to nine parts water, dry it off, and leave it in a room that is very dry for about two weeks. This will form a hard shell on the squash that will make it more resistant to storage diseases. Then put it in a dry garage or basement for long-term storage, Check the squash periodically to remove those showing any signs of rot. Keep the mice away. Read More

Good Old Days: End of an Era

On Wednesday, September 11, 1957, at 11:30 AM, the last log was cut by the giant saw at the former Oregon-American mill, just little more than thirty-three years after the first.   Over the next three months, this log and the rest of the remaining cut timber were transformed into finished lumber in the dry kilns and planing department.  The last shipments of finished lumber left Vernonia for IP’s Longview operations in April 1958.  By May, only three office staff, three watchmen, three caretakers, and three workers in the timberlands remained on the payroll that once had over 700 workers.  During its thirty years of operations over two and one half billion board feet of timber were processed into finished lumber; the mill was closed for three years during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

International Paper (IP), Long-Bell Division, had acquired all of Oregon-American’s holdings in 1953, well aware that the supply of logs near the Vernonia mill would run out in a few years.  IP was focused on the 20,000 acres of timber-growing land that would be improved and replanted for future harvests.  During the last months of mill operations, plans for disposition of company-owned assets including the sixty-six homes on O-A Hill were also underway.  By the end of 1957, over a fourth of the homes were vacant but the remainder was being rented by former O-A/Long-Bell employees.  In November 1958, IP deeded the homes plus a building lot in the business district and other acreages to the City of Vernonia.  The homes were sold over the next several years to individual homebuyers. Read More

The Good Old Days

The War is Over 

A radio announcement on Tuesday afternoon, August 14, 1945, informed the nation that the Japanese had accepted the American terms of surrender, and World War II finally, formally came to an end.  As was true across the country, Vernonia erupted into a jubilant celebration that lasted well into the night. Sirens and whistles sounded, the city’s fire alarm brought firemen in to drive the trucks with sirens wailing in a spontaneous parade through the suddenly crowded center of town.  Flags appeared everywhere borne by the happy citizens.  On a more personal level, families rejoiced that their loved ones were now out of danger and motorists looked forward to the end of gas rationing when they could once again say “fill ‘er up.”  A street dance with music from a local band ended the day.

The Last Log Train

On August 27, 1957, Locomotive 105 brought the final load of logs to the mill in Vernonia, signaling the end of an era that began in 1924 when the first cargo from Camp McGregor rolled into town.  Chet Alexander, engineer, drove as a bigger than usual crowd watched and waved. The train also bore some of the logging machinery and tool sheds from the camp.   Chet came to Vernonia in 1922 as the tracks to the camp were being laid, and worked as engineer for all but the years when the mill was closed during the Great Depression.  Over the lifetime of Oregon-American, its 28,000 acres of timber yielded two and a half billion board feet of lumber, the bulk of which was delivered by this daily run.

Camp McGregor was built in 1922 far up Rock Creek beyond the rail yard at Keasey in the center of O-A’s timberlands.  Logging operations commenced while the big lumber mill in Vernonia was under construction.  The camp consisted of bunkhouses, dining hall, cook house, commissary, offices, and a school.  It housed nearly 300 loggers at its peak.  Several families established homes there, too, but it all burned down in 1933’s Wolf Creek Fire.  It was left abandoned during the Depression-caused mill closure that began in 1933.  When the mill reopened in 1936, bunkhouses needed for the camp were built at the mill and sent by train back up into the woods.  In 1947, with logging operations now too far from Camp McGregor, Camp Olson was built further south in the Coast Range.   It was dismantled and its buildings moved by train back to Camp McGregor in 1955.  On August 16, 1957, with logging operations nearly over, the cook house closed and the end of Camp McGregor was nigh. Read More

Life with a Scottish Accent: My Summer Studying Abroad – Part 3

Another two weeks have gone by and the Scottish adventures continue. I started my internship as a research assistant with the School of Sport here at the University. I am already starting to feel like part of the team! I got to assist in two bicycle trials where we measured lactate levels in the blood during different levels of resistance on the bike. During the first trial, I mostly observed so that I could get the feel for the trial protocol. Then during the second trial, they let me take the helm. I got to take the blood samples to test the lactate levels and also controlled the resistance on the bike.  Another big part of my internship is data analysis. I have been taking the data from the trials and putting it into Excel to make spreadsheets and graphs. Even though it was only two weeks, I feel like I have already learned so much through my internship.

The guide at the Ghost Tour of Stirling.

The guide at the Ghost Tour of Stirling.

Last week a group of us decided to do a Ghost Tour of Stirling. The guide was in full costume and character as the old town “torturer.”  After walking through the old part of Stirling, he took us up to the cemetery, which was beautiful, and not as creepy as I thought it was going to be. Our guide was very knowledgeable as well as funny and told us not only ghost stories, but also a lot of the history behind them which I really appreciated.

That weekend I also took a guided three day trip of the Scottish highlands. I have to say that trip was definitely the highlight of my time in Scotland (at least so far). Our guide’s name was Nory, and he was frankly the best tour guide I have ever had. He was hilarious and told us tons of stories and history about all of the places we went and made it interesting, not just a boring history lecture. The first day we drove through the highlands to Glencoe, Fort Williams, and even stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is better known as the Harry Potter Bridge. It was amazing how beautiful and green everything was, things in Oregon are green, but it is nothing compared to the shade of green in Scotland, it looks almost fake, it was like something out of a fantasy film!

Natalie Wallace at the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Natalie Wallace at the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The second day we spent exploring the beautiful Isle of Skye off the coast of mainland Scotland. We first went to the Faerie Pools, which are these crystal clear pools and waterfalls that you can swim in. We ate lunch there and waded around in them for a bit. Since it is mountain run off, they were refreshingly cold, but it wasn’t anywhere near as cold as the Oregon Coast. After the faerie pools, we headed out and stopped at many places to take pictures of various mountain ranges and landmarks. The

Faerie Glen

Faerie Glen

last stop of the day was Faerie Glen, which is where the entrance to the faerie kingdom is supposed to be. Nory warned us that we better all believe in faeries or we could be dragged into the faerie kingdom where we would be stuck for a whole year until we could get pulled back out again.

The third and last day of our trip started out with us getting the chance to go out onto Loch Carron with a local fisherman to catch Queen’s scallops. When the catch came up, we all had fun picking through all of the different organisms that had been caught in the net even though we didn’t catch too many scallops. After that, we headed back out on the road and went to Loch Ness and then to Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave to round out our trip. To my disappointment, I did not see Nessie, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist!

Natalie at Loch Ness.

Natalie at Loch Ness.

I took another trip to London with two of my roommates as well over one weekend. We saw and did so much that I can’t believe we fit it all into only three days. The highlight had to be going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was amazing to see where the films were actually shot and walk on the actual sets. While in London we also saw the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Baker Street, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, and even did a night bus tour of the city. The night tour was one of my favorites because it gave us a chance to see the whole city all lit up.

Even though I am having a great time in Scotland, I do miss my family. I can’t believe that I only have two weeks left abroad, it seems like I just got here. I guess that is just how these experiences work; after all, time flies when you’re having fun!


Natalie Wallace is a 2012 graduate of Vernonia High School who is majoring in Biology at Western Oregon University.  Wallace is spending the summer studying abroad at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland.  Wallace will be sending Vernonia’s Voice updates throughout the summer about her adventures in Scotland.

An Unlikely Culinary Column: Healthy Klondike Bars

For years I have been taking pictures of people living with disabilities.  I also like to cook, but I never thought I would be taking photos of food and writing a column for the local paper.

It is funny how life has led me in an unlikely direction. The last three years, I have been traveling around the US and Singapore, talking to families who live with unique (disabled) children. I am always meeting wonderful people who inspire me. I love taking photos and making videos of individuals doing amazing things no matter their ability. With the help of the Mac Store I designed my own website and began editing and sharing videos of people living a unique life experience. My daughter Lorrin was born in 1994; she was vaccine injured at six weeks of age. The vaccine gave her severe brain damage leaving her body a train wreck but her soul powerful. Lorrin died in 2009, and I have been trying to figure out what I will be when I grow up ever since. Writing a food column was not anywhere in my sights.

During Lorrin’s life I stayed home and focused on cooking healthy and healing meals. I learned much about how important it was to eat fresh and local. I focused on nutrition to keep my daughter healthy, but it was equally as important that I stay healthy too. I love to eat and I love to cook, and experiment with new recipes combining my favorite foods.

My husband and I moved from the Los Angeles area to a small town of 300 in Eastern Oregon called Halfway. My niece Mackenzie Kero and her husband just bought their first home in Vernonia. Each time we visit I think maybe we should have moved here. I love Vernonia and it is an honor to be a part of the local paper. I hope my recipes inspire you to explore new foods. I look forward to sharing with you and would love to hear what you are cooking.

Healthy-Klondike-Bars-Dairy-free-5-webHealthy Klondike Bars – Dairy Free

A big trend in today’s diet is called the Paleo way of eating. It is referred to as a caveman diet; if a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. This includes eating meat, fish, nuts, leafy greens, veggies, fruit and seeds, omitting pasta, cereal and candy. You don’t’ have to keep track of how much you eat or count calories. The thought is that our bodies have not adjusted to eating so many grains and today’s diets are full of grains. As obesity remains an ongoing battle I was excited to try a paleo, vegan sweet dessert.

The weather is heating up and providing healthy choices for summer snacks will be in demand. Who doesn’t have that childhood memory of eating ice cream in the summer? Here is my version of a Klondike Bar, it is easy to make, healthy and delicious. I think you will find your kiddo’s sweet tooth fully satisfied and have them asking for more.

Healthy Klondike Bars

Dairy Free



Line a casserole sized pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a blender combine the ice cream ingredients; blend until they are well combined. Pour the batter into the lined dish. Place in a freezer until the ice cream is frozen solid, 4-6 hours. Remove the pan from the freezer and pull out the cream via the parchment paper. Using a solid knife cut the ice cream into 8 squares, then return to the freezer while you prepare the chocolate mixture. Whisk together the melted coconut oil, and cocoa powder and maple syrup, breaking up the clumps. You can add more cocoa powder for a darker chocolate flavor or more maple for sweeter chocolate. Spoon the chocolate mixture over each ice cream bar, making sure to coat all sides evenly. Place the bars once they are coated on a plate lined with parchment paper and put back in the freezer. Once each bar is covered store in a sealed container in the freezer until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!


Vanilla Ice Cream Bars:

•  2 Cans light coconut milk

•  1/4 Cup melted coconut oil

•  4 Tablespoons honey

•  2 Tablespoons maple syrup

•  1 1/2 Vanilla extract

Chocolate Coating:

•  13 Tablespoons cocoa powder

•  8 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

•  1/2 Cup maple syrup



Schools Update: Attendance

The topic of attendance in our schools has come up quite a bit recently. We are addressing the issue, and we’re beginning to see changes for the better.

Mr. Miller presented data at the board meeting last month that shows significant improvement in our Kindergarten attendance. We are continuing our research into our middle and high school attendance data, which we will be reporting on at our next board meeting on March 13.

Parents were notified earlier this year of our new attendance policy. We have made it a practice to have teachers, counselors, and, if necessary, the principal contact parents about their student’s attendance. We have made adjustments to that policy and will be placing it on the Attendance page on our district website.

In other news, we had a successful town hall meeting last Tuesday, February 25th. With over 60 in attendance a number of different topics were covered. The two main items of discussion were future opportunities for our career and technical education programs and the establishment of a task force to research the feasibility, advantages, and disadvantages of a four day school week. If you are interested in participating or have ideas about either of these topics, please contact the district office.

Natural Path to Health: Winter Fun!

I hope you all enjoyed our recent snow storm. We all did. I was so glad our kids got to experience the snow in their own back yard. There was much sledding and fun in the snow. I even dug out a snow cave for the kids- a blast from my past as a young girl in NY on my grandparent’s farm. Wonderful memories…

Keep yourselves warm and healthy. The flu has been very prevalent this year so support yourself with herbal teas that enhance your immune system and fight pathogens. REST is always the best medicine. When in doubt- remember the warming socks! If you don’t know about this simply amazing treatment ask around or stop into the office for a hand out with details.

New and exciting developments happening include:

•  Group acupuncture (coming soon in March) at the office~ I just have to find the perfect comfy chairs… any suggestions give me a call. Thanks!

•  Qigong classes: At the Senior Center every Friday morning from 9-9:30 AM starting February 14th. This class is free for anyone over 55 years old thanks to a grant obtained by the senior center. Others are welcome to join the class for my regular fee of $7 drop in or $20/month. Come check it out and bring a friend. Read More

Diggin’ in the Dirt: Starting New Garden Beds

Last Chance to Sign up for the 2014 OSU/Columbia Master Gardener™ Class in Vernonia

We are coming close to our sign-up deadline (February25th) for the Master Gardener classes to be held in Vernonia. Currently, we do not have enough people signed up to put on the program.   The classes will be held at the Vernonia Learning Center each Thursday from about 10:00 am – 3 p.m. starting March 6th. 2014; there will be about 10 class days on successive weeks. Classes will start in March to avoid the worst weather and will go through early May. Cost of the class series will still be $75. Gardeners from all parts of the county are welcome. The classes will cover vegetable and fruit gardening, soils and fertilizers, insect and disease identification and management, weed identification and management, and lots of other topics of interest to gardeners.

Payback projects (an obligation for all Master Gardeners™) will be focused in the Vernonia area and nearby communities. If you are interested in the Vernonia OSU Master Gardener program, please call Chip Bubl or Vicki Krenz as soon as possible at the OSU Extension office 503 397-3462 to get more information and to sign up.


Grafting workshop in February

The OSU Extension office in St. Helens will be hosting a grafting workshop on February 22nd (rescheduled from the snow cancellation on 2/8) from 9:00 ÅM-12:00 PM Participants will be taught how to graft apple scions on to dwarf apple rootstocks. Each participant will receive 5 rootstocks to work with and supplies to secure the graft. Scion varieties will be available or participants can bring their own varieties they wish to graft. Cost of the workshop is $15. The class is limited to 20 people so early registration will assure a place.  To register or for more information, call the Extension office at 503 397-3462.


Pruning grapes

Diggin-PruningGrapesPruning table grapes can seem complicated. Whether the grapes are growing on an arbor or on a trellis, the trick is to remove most of last year’s growth. On one-wire trellis, pick out two good canes and cut the new growth on each back to 12-20 buds. These are the fruiting buds for the current season. Then find two other canes and cut them back to 2-3 buds. These will produce the renewal canes for the following year. For more information, check out our table grape publication on-line at  or go to the OSU Extension catalog and type in grapes in the search box and click on “Growing Table Grapes”. This is an on-line publication only that you can download. It is excellent!


Fertilize caneberries this month

Raspberries and the blackberry group (Marions, Boysens, Logans, Cascades, etc,) should be fertilized at the end of this month. The standard rate for a conventional 10-20-20 mix is 1.5-2 pounds/100 feet of row. Organic sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can also be used. Check the analysis on the bags of any of the fertilizers and adjust the rates as needed.



Starting new garden beds

Whether you are thinking of a vegetable garden or new flowerbeds, there is a no-dig method that has proven very useful in the Pacific Northwest. Be warned that this process takes four to six months to work well, so it might be a little late for a spring garden.

If you want to sharply define the outline of the bed, take string and lay it out.  Then take a sharp shovel (those square bladed ones are great) and dig a small trench four inches wide by four inches deep following the string outline. Throw the excavated material into the future bed.

Cover all the bed area with about one-half inch of newspaper. This will help to suppress perennial weeds, especially grass. Then cover the entire area with eight to twelve inches of compost, manure or mulch mixed with compost or manure. Sprinkle about 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet into the compost/manure as you are shoveling it onto the future bed.

During the next four to six months, the organic matter will decompose and shrink and the grass underneath will suffer from lack of sun. Some gardeners cover the entire bed with black plastic to speed the process. The compost must be moist, though not saturated, to decompose.

Four months later, you can plant potted perennial plants directly into the bed and top with a layer of nutrient rich compost. Remove the black plastic prior to planting, of course.

For vegetable gardens that you will seed, the entire mass can be tilled in. The grass crowns underneath should be largely dead, though seeds of both grass and broadleaf weeds will return. Add organic or conventional fertilizers to feed the vegetables.


Take extra produce you might have to the food bank, senior centers, or community meals programs. Cash donations to buy food are also greatly appreciated.


The Extension Service offers its programs and materials equally to all people.


Free newsletter

The Oregon State University Extension office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter on gardening and farming topics (called County Living) written/edited by yours truly. All you need to do is ask for it and it will be mailed to you. Call 503 397-3462 to be put on the list. Alternatively, you can find it on the web at and click on newsletters.


Contact information for the Extension office

Oregon State University Extension Service – Columbia County

505 N. Columbia River Highway (across from the Legacy clinic)

St. Helens, OR 97051

503 397-3462


Good Ol’ Days: Pauline Dial King, 1919-2014

Pauline Dial King 1919 – 2014

Vernonia lost another of its honored citizens last month with the passing of Pauline Dial King.  Pauline and her daughter, Christine King Redmond, were active volunteers at Vernonia Pioneer Museum until Pauline moved to her daughter Marilyn’s home in Florence following the 2007 flood.  The museum held a special place in her heart; her family has established a Pauline King Memorial Fund to which contributions may be made in her honor.  In 2005, we interviewed Pauline as part of the museum’s oral history project.   The following is an excerpt from that interview.

Pauline was born in Renton, Washington, and lived her first years in Cut Bank, Montana, on the family homestead and then a wheat ranch in Oregon.  When she was three, her father got word of the big mill being built in Vernonia, so the family came by sternwheeler to Rainier and from there to Vernonia in 1922.  When her parents divorced, Pauline returned to Cut Bank with her mother until March of her junior year in high school when they came back to Vernonia.  She graduated from VHS in 1936.

Pauline’s mother opened a restaurant, the Squeeze Inn, located where part of the Cedar Side Inn is today.  A barber shop occupied the rest of the future Cedar Side bar area.  There were just nine stools in the Squeeze Inn; a sign in the restaurant read “We can serve 1000 a day, 9 at a time.”  The Inn was open nearly 24 hours per day most days during the late 1930s to accommodate the loggers and mill shift workers.  Pauline worked long hours along with her mother.  The Squeeze Inn was famous for its chili, turkey dinners and a big $1.95 ham and egg breakfast.  Business was brisk throughout the day with the mill and all the logging camps active.  The railroad and logging crews came in early to pick up lunches that were made up in the wee hours of the morning.   Read More

Natural Path to Health-Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year! 

I do hope the New Year is treating you well so far.  Chinese New Year will begin January 31, 2014. This year is the Year of the Wood Horse. Wood represents change and growth, while the horse represents strength, respect and heart. The year of the wood horse will be one of great transition and power. Respect and strength plus change and growth will make this a most abundant and transformative year!

There are many new changes happening at the office this year as well. I have rearranged the office and made room for a group acupuncture space and alternative meditation space upstairs. Shiatsu massage is now being offered at the office. Missy is there on Mondays by appointment and we hope to add an additional day very soon.  Ask your neighbors… this type of massage is so amazing! You will love it.

I will be putting together a protocol for addiction treatment. This protocol will include weekly or biweekly group acupuncture with application of specific essential oils and supplements. It will not be an overwhelming protocol and will be easy to follow. There will be a package price for this service and I expect to have it all put together by the end of February. Groups will start in March. Please call the office if you are interested in signing up. Space in group session will be limited to 4 people/session, so it would be great to get an idea of the number of people interested so I know how many different groups I need to have each week. Providing group sessions allows for better pricing and makes things more affordable for everyone.  Read More