Vernonia Local News


Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals Upholds Clatsop County’s Decision Denying Gas Pipeline for Proposed Columbia River Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal

A state appeals board agreed with Clatsop County’s decision that a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline would threaten public safety and improperly harm protected rivers and farmland. 

Today the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) ruled in favor of Clatsop County, upholding the County’s decision to deny a key permit for the Oregon LNG pipeline. Without the critical land use permit, the proposed LNG pipeline cannot be built, as state law prohibits the LNG company from securing state environmental permits or certifications without county land use permits.

“We are thrilled that LUBA chose to respect our county’s decision to deny Oregon LNG’s proposed natural gas export pipeline,” said Laurie Caplan, an Astoria resident and local activist representing Columbia Pacific Common Sense.

In today’s decision, LUBA ruled that Clatsop County properly decided that the LNG pipeline violates local laws designed to protect public safety and salmon. The County found that the pipeline operates with pressurized flammable and explosive gases that present a well-documented safety risk to nearby residential uses. The County also found that Oregon LNG’s plans to bore the pipeline under salmon-bearing rivers violated the requirement to protect the Columbia River estuary, an area at the center of regional and national efforts to recover endangered salmon.

“Today’s decision marks a significant turning point for LNG on the Columbia River,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “The people of Clatsop County want clean water, safe communities, and strong salmon runs. LNG development would take us in the wrong direction.” Read More

ODFW to Host Family Fishing Event at Vernonia Pond

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife invites new anglers to take part in its Family Fishing Event Saturday, May 2 at Vernonia Pond from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.

ODFW will provide equipment for the event including rods, reels and bait on a first-come, first-served basis. Anglers are also welcome to bring their own gear.  Angling education instructors and volunteers will be present to answer questions and offer assistance.  Approximately 6,000 trout wiil be released into the pond just prior to the event to improve everybody’s chances of catching fish.

“This is an excellent opportunity for all to discover fishing, or for those haven’t fished for a while to reacquaint themselves with this activity,” said Ron Rehn, fishing event coordinator for ODFW’s North Coast Watershed. “We’ll have plenty of experienced anglers at the event to answer any questions and help with instruction,” he said.

Anglers 13 years old and younger do not need a fishing license while those 14-17 years of age will need a juvenile fishing license that can be purchased for $9. Everybody else must have an adult fishing license or day pass. Licenses will not be sold at the event so individuals planning to participate should obtain them ahead of time from an ODFW license agent, ODFW field office or on-line at

Vernonia Pond is a 42-acre former mill pond located in the city of Vernonia.  From Hwy 26 west of Portland, take Hwy. 47 north to Vernonia. Follow the highway through town to the pond, which is in a city park just east of the road.


Young Signs Letter of Intent

Vernonia High School senior Brittany Young singed a Letter of Intent to play volleyball for New Hope Christian College.  Young was named First Team All League for the Lady Loggers in her senior year.  New Hope College is located in Eugene, Oregon.

Left to right:  Vernonia volleyball coaches Brandy Everett and Teresa Williams with Brittany Young and New Hope Christian College volleyball coaches Anna Barton and Audrey Smith.

Left to right: Vernonia volleyball coaches Brandy Everett and Teresa Williams with Brittany Young and New Hope Christian College volleyball coaches Anna Barton and Audrey Smith.


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

Head Start Recruiting Now

Head Start, a federally funded pre-school program, is seeking students for the 2015-2016 school year.  Applications are being taken from all three and four year olds in Columbia County.  Recruitment for fall enrollment is now in progress.  If parents are interested in enrollment information they are urged to phone immediately.

Perspective students must be three or four years old by September 1, 2015. Children must be from limited income households or have a disability and/or special needs to qualify.

Head Start incorporates a total family program that includes nutrition, education, medical and dental services for the enrolled child and home visitations.  USDA approved meals are served.  Training on various subjects and on the job training is offered to all enrolled families.  Transportation is not available.

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the State of Oregon prohibit discrimination in all USDA programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability.

The Vernonia Center is located at 500 California Avenue next to the Blue Heron Hollow Apartment complex.  Families who live in the Mist, Birkenfeld and Vernonia areas may phone (503) 429-9243 or (503) 369-7249 for more information. Read More

VHS Spring Sports Report

Equestrian - The Vernonia Equestrian Team competed in their third and final meet of the season during the weekend of April 9-12.  Sheyanne Pedersen took first in Working Rancher; Jordan Brickley and Kassidy Fetch took first and second in Breakaway Roping; and the team of  Jordan Brickley/Lauren Glass/Makayla McCord took first in Team Penning with the team of Kassidy Fetch/Pearl Cook/Sheyanne Pedersen taking second.

Left to right:  Lauren Glass, Jordan Brickley, Sheyanne Pedersen, Kassidy Fetch, Makayla McCord, and Pearl Cook.

Left to right: Lauren Glass, Jordan Brickley, Sheyanne Pedersen, Kassidy Fetch, Makayla McCord, and Pearl Cook.










Seven team members qualified for the State meet in May and the team honored senior Makayla McCord in her final regular meet.

State Qualifiers are:

Jordan Brickley – Breakaway, Team Penning

Jordon McCord – Alternate – Team Penning, Freestyle Fours

Kassidy Fetch – Barrels, Figure 8,  Breakaway, 1st Alternate – Freestyle Fours, Team Penning, 2nd Alternate – Birangle,

Lauren Glass – Team Penning, 1st Alternate – Freestyle Fours

Makayla McCord – Keyhole,  Poles, Team Penning, 1st Alternate –  Freestyle Fours

Pearl Cook – 1st Alternate – Freestyle Fours, Team Penning, 2nd Alternate – Birangle

Sheyanne Pedersen - Working Rancher, Breakaway,  1st Alternate – Team Penning, 2nd Alternate – Steer Daubing

Payton Wolf  Photo courtesy of Tracy Easlon.

Payton Wolf Photo courtesy of Tracy Easlon.

Softball – The Lady Loggers are struggling to start the season.  They entered Northwest League play with a 2-6 record and then proceeded to drop three straight games to Gaston 5-8, 4-7 and 8-10.  With only four schools fielding a team in the league this year, every league match up is crucial.  The Lady Loggers have upcoming non-league games against Kennedy, at home against  Portland Christian on Thursday, April 23 and return to League play against Knappa at home on Tuesday, April 28.

Brett Elliott. Photo courtesy of Tracy Easlon.

Brett Elliott. Photo courtesy of Tracy Easlon.




Baseball – Coach Joe Walters young Loggers team has had mixed results to start their season.  After going 0-3 in non-league play, the Loggers began league play by sweeping a three game series from Nestucca, then dropped three straight to Gaston.

The Loggers have gotten strong pitching from Bailey Morrison.  Offensively the Loggers have been making good contact, but were not hitting the ball hard early in the season and have mostly scored runs by stringing together singles.  Brendyn Millikin has been getting on base and scoring runs.  Brett Elliot has consistently put together multiple hit games and is driving in runs, along with Hayden Cieloha. The rest of the team is regularly getting on base.

The Loggers host upcoming home double headers against Portland Lutheran on Friday, April 17 and against Faith Bible on Friday, April 24. Read More

New Computer and Internet Use Policy at the Library

On Monday, March 16, 2015, City Council approved the Computer and Internet Use Policy now in effect at the library.  The policy was drafted by the Library Director, Shannon Romtvedt, based on policies used at other libraries and a great deal of input and research from the Library Board.

One rule that is a significant change from the previous policy is stated here:

“Children under 10 years of age must be directly supervised by a parent/legal guardian or adult caregiver when using the computer.  Parents/legal guardians who wish to restrict computer access for a minor (age 17 or younger) may do so at any time by requesting a Minor Internet Access Restriction form.”

The previous policy required written parental permission for minors to use the computer.  Children under the age of 13 needed direct parental supervision to use the Internet.  Reasoning for the change is as follows:

1) Many libraries are revising their Internet Policy and are no longer requiring parental permission for minors. Sandy Public Library made the change in November 2014, stating that “A lot of libraries made the decision (to require formal parent permission) when the Internet was very new.” Read More

School Board to Make Charter School Decision

The Vernonia School Board will meet in a special meeting on April 21 at 6:30 PM to decide whether to sponsor a Charter School and submit an application to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

The Vernonia School District formed a Steering Committee earlier this spring made up of citizens, school staff, School Board members and parents to discuss the possibility of submitting an application to the state to become a Charter School.  The Steering Committee held discussions, decided to move forward, and prepared the formal application which was reviewed by a School Board Subcommittee for completeness.  Following two public hearings, the full School Board is currently evaluating the application on its merits and will make a final decision about submitting it to the State at the special meeting on April 21.

The proposed application would leave the Mist School separate from the charter.  The charter  would encompass the entire K-12  Vernonia School.  The new Charter School would require the formation of a separate Board of Directors and require independent accounting processes.

Vernonia District Superintendent Aaron Miller elaborated on the Charter School application process during a recent conversation.  Miller said the Steering Committee included several community partners and was what he deemed “a representative group” that included “a wide range of people from the community.”

According to Miller the Steering Committee identified several advantages to becoming a Charter School.  Miller said one advantage was the ability to expand the Natural Resources curriculum that the District has already made a priority as well as expanding programs like engineering, math and art.  “We feel like we’ve done a good job but the Charter School option comes with some extra funding that would provide resources and supplies we need to keep moving them forward and also provide professional development for teachers to implement new and innovative programs,” said Miller. Read More

City Council Discusses Marijuana Dispensaries

At their April 6, 2015 City Council meeting, the City Council held a lengthy and comprehensive discussion about how they might regulate already legal medical marijuana dispensaries as well as recreational retail establishments that will become legal in the next calendar year.

One  year ago the Vernonia City Council placed a one year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries as a precautionary move since the state was getting ready to vote on Measure 91 which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Oregon. Numerous other cities around the state took similar action to protect themselves against the unknown ramifications a yes vote might have for the state and local governments. The City also voted to tax recreational marijuana if it did become legal.

The city moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries is set to expire on May 1st and Council felt the need to discuss how they might  move forward. Their conversation lasted about an hour and included Ruben Cleaveland, their legal advisor, on the phone to give them advice.

Oregon citizens approved Measure 91 and recreational use of marijuana becomes legal July 1st, 2015 which means a citizen can legally possess marijuana, smoke it in private settings, and even grow a few plants for personal use. The OLCC will not begin taking applications for retail sales establishments until January of 2016 and is still discussing the details of how they intend to regulate grow operations as well as retail establishments.

Councilor Kim Tierney said she sees the benefits of medical marijuana and since the people voted to approve legalizing  recreational use, she didn’t see why the City should oppose that. Councilor Jill Hult said she agreed with Tierney.  Councilor Mike Seager said he was absolutely opposed to the sale of marijuana in the city of Vernonia in any way. Mayor Randy Parrow said that although he didn’t like the idea of marijuana being sold legally in Vernonia, the people voted to legalize it and he represents the people.  Read More

May 19 Elections Give Voters Some Interesting Choices

The upcoming May 19 election will offer local voters the chance to elect representatives to the Vernonia School Board, The Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District, the Mist-Birkenfeld Fire District and the Columbia County 9-1-1 Communications District.  There are also three ballot Measures  for voters consideration.

Ballot Measure 5-243 is a county wide measure that would increase the Natural Resources Depletion Fee  by thirty-five cents ($.35) per ton to a total of fifty cents ($.50) per ton. The current fee primarily provides revenue for county roads. The increase is intended to cover the costs to the infrastructure of Columbia County that result from mining activities. The additional fees would be used as follows:

• Ten cents ($.10) for road improvements and maintenance of existing roads and bridges.

• Twenty-five cents ($.25) for Columbia County Rider Transportation.

The initiative requires that none of the proposed increased funds could be used for other county general fund purposes.

Measures 5-245 and 5-246 would raise funds for the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District.  Measure 5-245 is a ten year bond for the purchase of fire apparatus and is estimated to cost taxpayers an average of $0.2621 per thousand of assessed value each year. For the owner of a home or property owner, the estimated annual average cost would be $26.21 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value. Measure 5-246 is a five year levy which would fund  the salary and benefits package of a Training Captain. This person would be responsible for the District’s training program and responding to incidents.  This measure is estimated to cost taxpayers an average of $0.32 per thousand of assessed value each year. For the owner of a home or property the estimated annual average cost would be $32 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value. Read More