Tag Archives: Mist Birkenfeld Rural Fire District

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

Early Morning Fire Destroys Duplex

A fire destroyed an apartment at the corner of A street and Washington Avenue in Vernonia in the early morning hours of Wednesday March 25.










Firefighters from the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District, the Banks Fire District and the Mist-Birkenfeld Fire District all responded and kept the blaze from spreading to nearby homes.



Neighbors reporting hearing a loud “explosion” around 2:30 AM.  Witnesses said flames reached over thirty feet into the air when the fire was fully engaged.Fire 6Fire4


Meet Joe Kaczenski: Mist-Birkenfeld Fire Chief

MistBirkfireChief-webJoe Kaczenski has been the Fire Chief for the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) for almost one year.  So far things seem to be going pretty well.

Kaczenski replaced long time Chief Dave Crawford who retired last June.  Kaczenski was hired in August as the Fire Chief; Crawford has remained as the part-time Administrative Chief.  “Chief Crawford is still here,” says Kaczenski.  “He still has a title, still helps me with the budget and is still helping me transition. He and Mary Lou (Assistant Chief Mary Lou Busch who also retired last June) are great assets to have.”

Kaczenski and his family moved to the Mist-Birkenfeld area from Aloha in 2000, but Kaczenski says his wife Ginger’s family have long roots in the region.  “My wife’s ancestors actually founded the community of Knappa and were in the Jewell area in the 1800s,” explains Kaczenski.  “We always  wanted to move into the country and settled out here because of the way the community is.”

For the Kaczenski’s firefighting runs in the family.  Kaczenski grew up in the fire service  – he is the fourth generation in his family to work professionally as a firefighter.  His great grandfather was a firefighter for Portland, his grandfather worked in Sweet Home and also worked for the Oregon State Police in the arson division, his father retired from the Portland Fire Bureau and Joe has worked full time for the City of Hillsboro since 1997 as well as currently serving as the part-time Mist-Birkenfeld Fire Chief.

Ginger Kaczenski is a third generation firefighter.  Her father and grandfather were both firefighters and she is a volunteer tender operator at Mist-Birkenfeld RFPD.  The Kaczenski’s two children also volunteered with the Mist-Birkemfeld department.

Kaczenski says his department has handled a handful of fires in the last year including a fairly large log deck fire just inside the Clatsop County line at a logging site in October.  Kaczenski says that, although the fire was actually outside of the Mist-Birkenfeld District, they were the closest department that could respond and they worked with Oregon Department of Forestry personnel. “Our folks did a great job,” said Kaczenski.   Kaczenski noted that the water pond the District built last year next to their station  worked really well during that firefight as numerous trucks were able to refill and return to the action.

Logs that were burned in that fire and could not be processed were donated to the Mist-Birkenfeld RFPD and are being cut for firewood by volunteer association members.  The firewood is provided by the RFPD to needy families in their area; Kaczenski says there should be enough left over that the department can sell to raise funds to support the volunteer association and put back into the community.

Kaczenski says his department is always short staffed and is always looking for new recruits.  “The volunteers we have are very dedicated,” he says.  “It so hard because our population is so sparse and spread out, but the ones we do have now are exceptional.  They put in a lot of volunteer hours.”

Kaczenski wanted to be sure to invite the community to help the Mist-Birkenfeld RFPD celebrate their 35th Anniversary this year at their annual picnic on September 6.  According to Kaczenski, the Department was actually established around 1956 but dissolved.  It was re-formed in 1979 and “…going strong,” he says.  He says they still have several original members with the department.

Election Results: Columbia County Approves 9-1-1 Levy

Columbia County voters overwhelmingly approved the renewal of the 9-1-1 operations levy in the May 21st election.  Voters voted by an 85% to 15% margin to renew funding for five years for   daily operations of the 9-1-1 emergency call and dispatch center.

In local elections for Vernonia School Board, all incumbents were re-elected, including Jim Krahn, Ernie Smith and Carrie Levenseller  all candidates ran unopposed.   Results for Position 6, which did not have a candidate filed to run but had 129 write-in votes,  will not be known until next week.

In elections for the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors, Luke Ellis was elected to Position 5 receiving 231 votes;  Micheal Demeter received 216.  Ben Davis was was elected to Position 1 running unopposed.

In elections for the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District Board of Director,  Joan Jones, William DeJager, and Patricia Wright were all elected having run unopposed.  Position 5 had 21 write-in votes and the result of that count will also not be known until next week.

The Scuttlebutt – News From Around Our Town

Margy Prout recently visited Tepozatlan, Mexico.

Margy Prout recently visited Tepozatlan, Mexico.

Where Do You Read the Voice?  Margy Prout recently carried her copy of Vernonia’s Voice all the way to the top of the El Tepozteco Pyramid in Tepozatlan, Mexico.

El Tepozteco Pyramid in Tepozatlan, Mexico.

El Tepozteco Pyramid in Tepozatlan, Mexico.

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