Vernonia Local News

Merkley and Bonamici Hold Town Hall

US Senator Jeff Merkley and US Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici held a joint Town Hall at the Vernonia School on Friday, April 3, 2015.

MerkleyBonamici-FlagUnderwood-webOver sixty people were in attendance when Senator Merkley opened the meeting by making a presentation of a United States flag to high school principal Nate Underwood.  The flag  had previously been flown over the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.  “This school contributes so much to the strength of this community,” said Merkley.  “This is really in appreciation for how every facet of the community came together to make this happen.”

Merkley and Bonamici both made opening remarks and then took questions from the audience.

In his opening remarks Merkley stated that not much has been passed through the Senate since January.  He noted that the Senate had spent almost a month working on the Keystone Pipeline issue which President Obama had said he would veto and did, spent a month on a Homeland Security bill which everyone agreed on but then had unrelated immigration policy riders added, and spent a few weeks on a new trafficking bill which everyone agreed on but then an unrelated social issue was added to it, and then time was spent on the budget.  Merkley also mentioned conversations about authorizing military force in Syria, the Iran nuclear weapons treaty, and the attempt to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the April 9, 2015 Vernonia School Board Meeting


Board Sets Date for Charter School Decision – The Board set a date of Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 PM to hold a special meeting to make a decision on whether to submit a Charter School application to the State Department of Education.


Board Tables Calendar Decision – The Board tabled a decision on the 2015-16 Instructional Calendar after being presented with five options.  High School principal Nate Underwood told the board that the committee was proposing several options that provided 160 student days, 184 contact days and the required 990 hours.  The District has been unable to provide these numbers for several years.  The Board chose to table a decision until April 21 because of concerns about the state education budget which has not yet been determined and how much funding the District will receive from the state next year, as well as the pending decision about whether the District will submit an application to become a Charter School.


Board Appoints Handegard to Budget Committee – The Board appointed Angie Handegard to serve a three year term on the Budget Committee.


Board Approves Out of State Trips – The Board approved the Senior Trip to Disneyland and the 8th grade Close-up trip to Washington DC.


Board Approves Superintendent Contract – The Board approved a single contract for Superintendent Aaron Miller which was described as a full time superintendent contract which will have Miller serving as “acting elementary school principal.”  Read More

City Department Updates: March 30 – April 10, 2015

Administration / Utility Billing

• Ordinance No. 898 that changed the City’s policy on Past Due Utility Accounts was passed by City Council on December 15th, 2014.  The following were the outstanding balances as of January 2015: 90 days: $2,108.36, 60 days: $8,306.14, 30 days: $27,715.92

As of April 2015 the outstanding balances are as follows: 90 days: $ 0.00, 60 days: $313.77, 30 days: $1,363.36

• Reminder: Shut off letters will be mailed and Late Fees will be applied on 4/17/2015. Shut offs will be on 4/27/2015

• Issued 3 electrical permits.

• Issued 2 building permits for 2 new homes.

Police Department – VPD

• Vernonia Homicide Investigation: The Vernonia Police Department has received several questions regarding the shooting incident that occurred on Riverside Drive on March 26th, 2015. At this time, only very basic details are available for public release. These types of investigations take an extraordinary amount of time and are very tasking on Law Enforcement personnel. The Vernonia Police Department will provide updates when more information comes available. However, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation we will only release very basic details.

• March 11th, 2015 – March 31st, 2015 – The total number of calls for service and Officer Initiated activity was 150.

• Statistics: The total number of calls for service and officer initiated activity in March 2015 was 230.

• April 1st, 2015 – April 8th, 2015 – The total number of Calls for Service and Officer Initiated activity was 74.

• Nuisance Violations: VPD is working on 21 properties that have violations. Details of the violations along with an area map will be provided during the next regular council meeting.


• An ad for Park Host opening at Anderson Park was posted on the City website and on two sites recommended to us by State Parks in order to find a replacement host. The current hosts have agreed to remain at the park until June. The posting closes on May 15th.

• Beginning April 6th, James McMahon will be stepping into a new role as Parks Superintendent. He will be in charge of overseeing all of the City’s parks. He will be a great asset to the City and we would like to congratulate him on his new position.

• Finance Director met with City Administrator to go over the different funds that make up the City’s budget and to go over some history of the City budget in order to begin preparing the budget message.  Final budget preparations continued. Read More

Vernonia Marathon and Half Marathon Results

Nicole DeWitt of Vernonia finished the marathon in 3:27:34.

Nicole DeWitt of Vernonia finished the marathon in 3:27:34.

The Vernonia Marathon and Half Marathon took place on Sunday, April 12.  The Marathon runners started at Cedar Ridge and traveled along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.  Half Marathon runners started at Stub Stewart State Park.  All runners finished at the Banks High School.

Nicole DeWitt of Vernonia finished the Marathon in 3:27:34, the 24th finisher overall and 4th among women and qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Jennifer Draeger also completed the marathon in a time of 3:58:34 good for 67th place out of 147 runners.

Top Vernonia finishers in the Half Marathon included Derek Handegard who finished 19th with a time of 1:30:02;  Tim Becken, 22nd, 1:30:37; Nicole Miller, 185th, 2:02:37; Andrea Grant, 186th, 2:03:03 and Rebecca Scotto, 233rd, 2:10:07.  453 total runners completed the Half Marathon.

City News

At the April 6, 2015 City Council Meeting:

Parrow Sworn in as Mayor - Randy Parrow took the Oath of Office and was sworn in as the Mayor of Vernonia.  Parrow, a former City Councilor, took over the position when former Mayor Josette Mitchell resigned in order to accept the position of City Recorder/Assistant to the City Administrator.

Council Approves Daily City Hall Closure for Lunch – Council approved a proposal from staff to close City Hall from 12:30 to 1:30 PM beginning May 4, 2015, so staff can take a scheduled lunch break.  City Hall will also now be open to the public for business beginning at 8:00 AM; the office was previously not open until 9:00 AM.

Council Approves City Car – Council approved the conversion of an old Police vehicle that is no longer in service and has been for sale, to use as a city vehicle.  The vehicle would be used by the City Administrator as needed for city business, by the Police Department for Code Enforcement duties, by the City Flood Plain Manager and for travel by staff outside the city. Cost to convert the vehicle and operate it for a year was estimated by staff to be $1,304.  Cost to reimburse employees for use of their own vehicles for city business was estimated to be $2,488.

Council Approves Library Notification Plan – Council approved a plan presented by Library Director Shannon Romtvedt to publicize the new Computer and Internet Use Policy at the Library.  Council approved the new policy at the March 16, 2015 meeting, which requires minors to have a signed “opt out of internet use” form as opposed to them being required to have signed permission for use.  The plan to publicize the changes include: informing new patrons of the Library, posting it on the City Facebook page, publish a notice in Vernonia’s Voice, communicate the policy change with the School  District through School Library staff, and continuing to inform patrons with children of the policy change.

Council Approves Participation Protocol – Based on a request from the Public Works Committee, Council approved a protocol allowing Public Works Committee representatives to participate in the Waste Water Treatment Upgrade Project by visiting the project site and participating in Weekly Project Meetings.  Read More

Ralph H. Craft-Obituary

       Ralph H. Craft, 78, a former resident of the Banks community, late of Carlton, died Thursday evening, March 26, 2015 at the Vineyard Heights Assisted Living Facility in McMinnville.

Private Family Service will be held.

RALPH HARRY CRAFT was born on June 14, 1936 in Central City, New Mexico, the son of the late           Harry C. Craft and Annabelle (Gibbs) Craft. He was raised and received his education in the Banks community, having been a graduate with the Banks High School Class of 1955.

He was a Veteran of the United States Army, having enlisted on May 15, 1957 in the United States Army in Europe until April 22, 1959. He served active duty for 2 years, and was in the Army Reserve until receiving Honorable Discharge on May 31st, 1963 at the rank of Specialist Fourth Class.

Ralph was united in marriage to Sue Ann Medearis on July 29, 1964 in Portland, Oregon. Following their marriage they made their home in the Portland community until 1966 when they moved back to the Banks community.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sue Ann on September 11, 2011 after celebrating over 47 years of marriage together. Following Sue’s passing Ralph moved to the Carlton community to reside with his John and family. In December he became a guest resident at the Vineyard Heights Assisted Living Facility in McMinnville, where he has resided since.

Ralph worked for Nottingham Moving and Storage in Portland for several years and was a member of Teamsters Union Local 162. He later worked as a Real Estate Broker for Pro Group Realty for many years until his retirement in June 2006.

He was a member of the Forest Grove Elks Lodge B.P.O.E #2440; the Loyal Order of the Moose; the Banks Lions Club; The American Legion; The Sunset Park in Banks and was involved in coaching and umpiring Little League Baseball, having been instrumental in bringing the program to Banks.

Among his special interests, Ralph enjoyed fishing, hunting, clamming, gardening and caring for his flowers and wood working, especially making birdhouses.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Annabelle Craft; and his infant son Tommy.

Survivors include his children and their spouses, John and Cheryl Craft, of Carlton, Oregon; and Carrie Craft of Banks, Oregon;  Sue Ann’s children Debra and Raymond Mott, of Banks, Oregon; Byron Prickett of Tigard, Oregon; Susie Dunthorn, of Banks, Oregon; his sisters and brothers-in-law, and his brothers and sisters-in-law,

Also surviving are fourteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

The family suggests that remembrances may be contributions to the Banks Fire Department,

300 S. Main Street, Banks, Oregon 97106, in his memory.

To sign the online guestbook or to send the family condolences visit

Fuiten, Rose & Hoyt Funeral Home in Forest Grove is in charge of the arrangements. 503-357-2161

Jesse E. DePue-Obituary

Obit-DePue-webJesse E. DePue, 31, a resident of the Vernonia community, died Thursday evening, March 26, 2015 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland.

Private Family Services will be held. A Public Celebration of Life Service will be held at a later date.

JESSE EARL DEPUE was born May 20, 1983 in Bend, Oregon, the son of Steven J. DePue and Marjorie (Williamson) Depue. He was raised and received his education in the community of Gilchrist, Oregon.

He had resided in the community of Gilchrist until he moved to the Vernonia community, where he had resided since.
Jesse had worked as a carpenter in the construction industry and later as a logger in the timber industry for Big Guns Logging in Vernonia.

Among his special interests he enjoyed hunting, fishing, watching his boys play sports, spending time with his family and helping others. Read More

New Girls Basketball Team Completes Successful Season

The Vernonia 6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls formed a tournament basketball team for the first time this year and had a very successful “season.” They competed in both Banks and Forest Grove tournaments, placing second in each.  The team hopes to be strong competitors again next year and add more tournaments to their calendar.  They are a group of upcoming athletes to watch!

Left to right: Brooklynn Walters, Jessica Butcher, Lauren Ely, Jordan Walters, Coach Jim Krahn, Assistant Megan Ely, Karrah Delemos, Joyce Everett, Sophia Tesdall, Hannah Baska.  Not pictured are Sofia Wolf and Madison Dennis.

Left to right: Brooklynn Walters, Jessica Butcher, Lauren Ely, Jordan Walters, Coach Jim Krahn, Assistant Megan Ely, Karrah Delemos, Joyce Everett, Sophia Tesdall, Hannah Baska.  Not pictured are Sofia Wolf and Madison Dennis.

Loggerbots Take Second at Robotics Regionals


Left to right:  Conner Larke, Benjamin Skanes, formerRobotics instructor James Brookins, Nick Rainbolt and Jeffrey Goodman.

Left to right: Conner Larke, Benjamin Skanes, formerRobotics instructor James Brookins, Nick Rainbolt and Jeffrey Goodman.

The Vernonia Loggerbots advanced all the way to the finals at the Oregon FIRST Robotics District competition March 26-28, and ended up second place overall.

The Loggerbots competed against thirty-two teams overall, including teams from Portland, Seattle, Eugene, Corvallis, Ashland, Vancouver, Grants Pass, and Klamath Falls.  Also at the competition was the team from Blachly, OR where former Vernonia instructor James Brookins is now Superintendent.  Brookins was instrumental in originally forming the Vernonia Robotics program.

At the end of the opening rounds of competition the Loggerbots were ranked 20th but were selected by one of the top six teams to be part of an alliance that advanced and won in the  quarterfinals and semifinals.

VHS Spring Sports Preview

Softball - Head coach Mike Fetch and assistant Ernie Smith return most of their starting lineup from last season’s league championship team, meaning the Lady Loggers should be favored to win the league again.  After being eliminated in the opening round of the state playoffs, Fetch and the Lady Loggers are looking to go further this year.

Juniors Kassidy Fetch and Sarah Smith will once again be on the mound and behind the plate for the Lady Loggers.  Paige Smith  may also pick up some pitching duties.

Payton Wolf will play second base and anchor the infield.  Otherwise Fetch has been doing some experimenting trying to fill a hole at third base where Pearl Cook, Paige Smith and Kassidy Fetch have been seeing time.  Cook has also played shortstop along with freshman Allegra Poetter.  Smith has shared time at first with Poetter and Cassidy Whitton has also played some infield.  “We’re trying to find the right formula that clicks for us,” said coach Fetch.  “Errors have been killing us early. As the season progresses I’m sure we’ll find our rhythm.”

In the outfield, Cassidy Whitton usually starts, with Cook, Paige Smith, Fetch, Autumn Sorenson and Kristine Lauenborg all seeing playing time.

Almost all the Lady Loggers are good at the plate but expect to see a lot of offense from Wolf who consistently gets on base and Fetch who slaps the ball, bunts and uses her speed.  Cook, Poetter and both Smith girls have all been hitting the ball hard in the early season.

With a light league schedule, the Lady Loggers scheduled in numerous non-league games.  They traveled to Bend where they participated in the Central Oregon Tournament.  They begin Northwest League play on Tuesday, April 7 against Gaston.

Read More