Vernonia's voice. (Vernonia, OR) 2007-current, February 01, 2008, Page 03, Image 3

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voice welcome
a letter from the editor....
Courage. Determination. Resiliency. Spirit. Strength.
These are all words that I have heard used (or used myself) to describe the members of our
community during the flood of 2007, and during the first two months of our recovery. As we
move from immediate assistance to that of rebuilding, one thing is becoming very clear. We
must work together as a community; to repair the damages, to prioritize projects, to secure
funding and resources, and to make decisions. Some of those decisions will be tough. This
city, already in a difficult financial situation, now faces additional challenges and obstacles.
We have a long road ahead of us. As we look to the future and begin to move forward, we need
to do it together.
On January 17, Vernonians met in a number of venues and began the process of working
together by talking as a community about possible solutions. The School Board held a special
meeting asking for citizen input as to how they would like to see the board move forward. The
opinions expressed by the audience indicate a feeling among the community that our current
buildings are not safe; they are old, and now is the time to move on and build a new quality
facility for our children. Resident Cici Bell expressed it best I think, “This is a chance to
dream big.”
The Vernonia City Council met with the Planning Commission later that same evening at
the Scout Cabin in an emergency study session under the leadership of Interim City Adminis-
trator Aldie Howard. This session was designed to answer questions and establish clear prior-
ities for how our city government will move forward in recovery. It is clear the work ahead is
complicated and challenging, and again holds huge financial implications for the community.
This group will be making major policy decisions regarding infrastructure repair, mitigation
planning, and economic recovery.
One thing we have in our favor is the number of resources and agencies aware of our prob-
lem and who are taking an active role in our recovery. We have federal agencies involved.
We have U.S. Senators visiting and attempting to secure funding. We have Governor Kulon-
goski who has called together a Recovery Cabinet that is meeting on a regular basis and is
working on solutions. We have County Commissioner Tony Hyde, a Vernonia resident and
a flood victim, working tirelessly to secure resources. And we have city staff and a host of
volunteers who are working for the betterment of our community. It was heartening to see so
many community leaders in the same room talking about the situation and starting to prioritize
Many of these decisions need to be made quickly as there are timelines we must meet in
order to secure funding. Again, the ability of the community to work together and reach con-
sensus to create logical and obtainable solutions will be key. We are on everybody’s radar
right now and many want to help us.
This event has also presented us with the opportunity to look at the big picture. Why are
these floods happening? How are we interacting with our watershed? Should we be living and
developing in a floodplain? What does it mean to be a community?
The third meeting held that evening was of a new Community Emergency Response Team
(CERT). Our community did an amazing job during this disaster. There were many heroes,
and many people did amazing things. No one was killed or seriously injured. But there were
many things we could have done better. A thorough examination of the community’s ability to
respond to a disaster is needed. The CERT training is a good start. An Early Warning System
to alert residents is being discussed. Evacuation plans need to be revisited. Ways to control
flood waters are being studied. And as FEMA, and almost anyone you talk to on the street is
reminding us, this could happen again, at any time. What about personal preparation? Are
you and your family ready for the next disaster? Do you have an emergency kit and a supply
of water? Do you have a meeting place for your family if you live in an area that might be
affected? These topics will be explored in more detail in the next issue of Vernonia’s Voice.
The last item I want to address is the degree of selfless giving that we have witnessed. The
volunteers and donations from outside the community have been overwhelming. And the ded-
ication and caring being shown by members of the Columbia County Flood Relief team and
other community volunteers has been unmatched. So many people have stepped up to help. I
hope you all know how greatly this community appreciates what each and every one of you
has given. You are shining examples that show the true spirit of working together – exactly
what our community needs right now as we look to the future.
Scott Laird
Co-Publisher and Editor
Vernonia’s Voice welcomes and requests your
thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Please include your name, address, and phone number; limit your let-
ters to 300 words or less. Vernonia’s Voice reserves the right to edit, omit, respond, or ask for a re-
sponse to letters submitted. We will print letters, space permitting. Deadline is the 15th of the
month. Email to: or mail to: Letters, PO Box 55, Vernonia 97064.
Publisher and Managing Editor
Evangeline Doyle and Scott Laird
News Editor
Scott Laird
(503) 367-0098
Home & Garden Editor
Evangeline Doyle
(503) 317-2632
Vernonia Schools’ Editor
Jill Hult
(503) 928-1800
Alumni Editor
Tammy Vanderzanden
(503) 429-8485
Copy Editor
Evangeline Doyle
Assistant Copy Editors
Tobie Finzel
Erika Paleck
Dolly Keenon
P.J. O’Leary
Sandy Welch
Chief Mathew Workman
Evangeline Doyle
Scott Laird
Art Director/Graphic Design
Amy Shearer, On Madison Studio
Web Design/Management
Amy Shearer, On Madison Studio
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If you’re interested in submitting an
article for Vernonia’s Voice contact:
Thank you!
Evangeline and Scott