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About Vernonia's voice. (Vernonia, OR) 2007-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 1, 2008)
V E R N O N I A’ S
reflecting the spirit of our community
volume 1 issue 8
Pages 12 & 13
Winter Wonderland Senator Ron Wyden
By Scott Laird
Winter fun at Stub Stewart state park. Story on page 11.
Thank You for Your Service, Jim Walters
Over fifty people gathered at the Vernonia Fire Hall De-
cember 29 to honor and celebrate a man who has given twen-
ty-five years of service to Vernonia. Jim Walters, Vernonia
Police Officer, retired from duty on December 31, 2007.
When Walters arrived, he was met with a round of
applause. The first person to greet him was his grand-
daughter who unabashedly ran to him and jumped up
into his arms. She got a great big hug from her Grandpa,
much to everyone’s delight.
There was an abundance of stories, hugs and tears as
residents celebrated Walters’ years of service. The Fire
Hall never smelt as sweet with generous homemade re-
freshments being shared by all.
During the celebration, Murray Carter of Carter Cutlery presented Jim with a
custom made hand-forged knife in appreciation of his selfless service to the Ver-
nonia Community. “I want to publicly recognize Jim for his friendly service and for
making new arrivals, such as myself, feel so welcome here,” said Carter.
Jim Walters was a popular police officer with the citizens of Vernonia, and the people
will miss seeing him in uniform.
On Friday January 4, 2008, US Senator Ron
Wyden held a Town Hall meeting at the Ver-
nonia Scout Cabin. Senator Wyden, who had
visited Vernonia immediately after the flood in
December to assess damages, fielded questions
from the audience and expressed his admiration
for the spirit shown by the community.
“This is a gutsy community,” said Wyden.
“On my last visit here, just days after the flood,
the lights flickered – and after all you’ve been
through, you still laughed.”
During an hour long question and answer
session, Wyden discussed flood insurance is-
sues, flood control, FEMA’s work in the com-
munity, and health care.
On private flood insurance, Wyden asked “I’m going to pull out all the
for a show of hands from people who are hav- stops for this community.”
-- Senator Ron Wyden
ing trouble with their insurance adjusters, and
promised to look into the issue of insurance
companies “low balling” or undervaluing customer claims. “You don’t hear about
that in their advertising,” said Wyden. After fielding complaints about the national
flood insurance program, Wyden stated, “This is a Federal Program, we should fix
the confusion,” and promised to follow up.
Two different residents expressed dissatisfaction with their interaction with
FEMA and the resulting decisions about their claims. Both times Wyden had his staff
gather the residents, FEMA representatives, and local relief assistance volunteers in
a back room to try to sort out the issues and find solutions. “Let’s start working on
this right now,” was Wyden’s idea.
Senator Wyden also discussed flood control alternatives, including “Water Bank-
ing”, and other ways to divert high water when necessary and store it for future use.
Wyden also took a moment to talk about the Healthy Americans Act that he has
sponsored in the US Senate as a way to hold down health care costs through patient-
driven coverage. Wyden discussed how he has worked to promote this Act through
bipartisanship, personally visiting sixty Senators in an attempt to gain their support.
Wyden declined to publicly comment on the Presidential primary races, joking
that he “...is the only person in the US Senate not running for President, because
someone needs to stay in Washington and do the work.”
Wyden concluded his talk by stating, “I’m going to pull out all the stops for this
community. There is a lot to do, and the work is not done until it’s done.”
Aldie Howard Appointed as Interim
By Scott Laird
Aldie Howard has been appointed by Mayor Sally Harrison as In-
terim City Administrator to guide the city of Vernonia through its
initial phase of flood recovery. Howard’s appointment was made
in the immediate aftermath of the December 3 flood in the absence
of previous Administrator Dick Kline; the decision was formalized
at a special City Council Meeting on December 18. Kline decided
to resign his position, but has reached an agreement with the city
to continue as the Financial Director on a contractual basis.
Howard became immediately and dramatically involved in the
flood upon his initial appointment on December 6, and continues
to head the city’s efforts. “I want to thank all those who have so
generously and willingly assisted in this recovery effort. Without them we would still be under water!” said Howard.
“Aldie Howard really stepped up to the plate for us,” said Mayor Harrison. “He was the logical choice to fill this role.
He knows all the players here, and knows our situation. He’s a ‘can do’ kind of guy who takes a problem and finds a
solution. Bringing in someone new would have been very difficult. He has done a wonderful job. He has shown he is
dedicated to this city and to our recovery.”
Continued on page 7