Vernonia's voice. (Vernonia, OR) 2007-current, December 01, 2009, Image 1

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V E R N O N I A’ S
reflecting the spirit of our community
Who’s On Your List This Holiday
You’ll Find Something for Everyone in Vernonia
By Scott Laird
each of us picked 3 local businesses each
month and spent a total of $50 between
those businesses? According to the 3/50
people, for every $100 spent in locally
owned independent stores, $68 returns
to the community through taxes, payroll
and other expenditures, as opposed to
only $43 if you spend your money at a
chain. Spending money locally can have
a very real, significant impact on a local
I know some of you type A’s out
there are probably already finished with
your holiday shopping. You’re the ones
who actually have time to sit down, re-
lax at this time of the year and take the
time to read parts of this publication. So
I may be talking to the wrong audience
here. You guys probably already have
those gifts wrapped and already have
your tree up, don’t you?
But just in case
you’re one of us that hasn’t
finished your shopping, or
maybe haven’t started yet,
this is my chance to remind
you that when heading out
to shop, don’t forget to visit
your local merchants here in
Vernonia-- or in your own
town, if you live somewhere
Just one holiday gift idea that you can purchase
from local merchants in Vernonia.
I recently came
across a group and their website called
This concept can be used year
The 3/50 Project. Their goal-- saving the round, but can be especially significant
bricks and mortars our country is built on. during the holiday season, when so many
Here’s their pitch: What would happen if of us are spending money that isn’t in our
continued on page 14
Is Vernonia Prepared for Winter?
The  last  three  years  have  seen  significant  weather  events  in  the Vernonia 
region, prompting significant response from area Emergency Management officials.  
High winds and power outages in 2006 and 2007, a devastating flood in December 
of 2007, and paralyzing snows and flood threats in 2008 and 2009 have left residents 
anxious.  City officials are reviewing management plans and gathering resources as 
we head into another winter.  Some heavy rainstorms and flood warnings in early 
November put the community on alert and reminded everyone that the time to pre-
pare for weather events is upon us, again.  Everyone is wondering what to expect this 
New  City  Administra-
tor Bob Young and new Police 
Chief  Frank  Grace  have  not 
been  through  a  Vernonia  win-
ter  before.    Vernonia’s Voice 
sat down with Young and Chief 
Grace  to  ask  them  about  the 
city’s  preparations  for  winter.  
Do they feel they are ready?
According  to  Young  and 
Grace, the city has an Emergen-
cy  Hazard  Operations  Plan  in 
place.  The last time it was up-
dated was in 2005.  Chief Grace 
has  now  completed  a  draft  re-
writing  of  the  plan.    “This  has 
been  one  of  my  priorities--  to 
get  that  plan  updated,”  said 
Chief  Grace  reminded 
citizens that the City plan is re-
ally  a  Hazard  Mitigation  Plan, 
and is in place not just to deal 
with  winter  weather  emergen-
cies,  but  other  potential  events 
including  fire,  earthquakes, 
volcanic  eruptions,  nuclear  in-
cidents, drug labs, and drought.
The  past  few  years  have 
been  a  clear  indication  that 
in  the  event  of  an  emergency, 
a  couple  of  things  happen.  
One  is  that  we  are  potentially  
the sun
spot opens
continued on page 5
volume3  issue7
page 15
Vernonia Approves School Bond
The  balloons  lining  Bridge 
Street  from  the  current  Vernonia 
schools up the hill to Spencer Field said 
it all.  Vernonia is moving towards new 
In  a  strong  show  of  support, 
Vernonia  voters  on  Tuesday,  Novem-
ber 3, approved School Bond Measure 
5-197.   The  bond  approves  the  sale  of  
$13 million  in bonds to help build re-
placement schools for the buildings that 
were  damaged  in  the  December  2007 
With a 67% turnout, voters ap-
proved the measure by a 22% margin of 
victory-- 61 % for and 39% against. 
The  passage  of  the  bond  sets 
the stage for additional fundraising that 
will be needed to complete the estimat-
ed $37 million project.
A celebration was held at Spen-
cer  Field  on  Wednesday,  November 
4,  the  planned  site  of  the  new  school 
building, which will house grades K-12.  
“Today  we’re  going  to  cele-
brate, and tomorrow we’re going to roll 
up our sleeves and start working again,” 
said  Columbia  County  Commissioner 
and Vernonia resident, Tony Hyde.
Selected students and staff, the 
school band and local and regional dig-
nitaries attended the celebration.  Later, 
a  rally  was  held  in  the  Vernonia  High 
School Gym, with all students and staff 
in attendance.
“What  we  have  here  today  is 
a  very  resounding  message    from  the 
community that we are stepping into the 
future.  And we’re going to invest in our 
community,”  said  Commissioner  Hyde 
at the Spencer Field celebration. 
Among the dignitaries in atten-
dance was The Ford Family Foundation 
representative Tom Gallagher and State 
Senator  Betsy  Johnson,  who  brought 
greetings  from  Oregon  Governor  Ted 
“The voters spoke very clearly 
last night,” said Senator Johnson, in her 
own personal remarks.  “They stood up 
for  the  future  of  this  town,  they  stood  
Vernonia school students celebrate
the passage of School Bond Mea-
sure 5-197 at Spencer Field.
up for the kids, they made an investment 
in opportunity.  This is the beginning of 
the rebirth of a great place in Oregon.”
Johnson then read from a letter 
from  Governor  Kulongoski.    “Citizens 
of Vernonia-- Congratulations on com-
ing together to pass this critical measure 
that  represents  the  beginning  of  a  new 
and  bright  future  for  your  community.  
I know this wasn’t easy, especially dur-
ing such difficult economic times.  But 
your  commitment  and  investment  in 
education  is  exactly  where  we  should 
be focusing our efforts, so our students 
and  our state are well positioned for the 
recovery  ahead.    Your  community  has 
been  through  some  very  trying  times.  
But today marks a new beginning and a 
brighter future.  Please know you have 
a partner in this state to help make this 
community  thrive  once  again.    Con-
gratulations  on  a  job  well  done.    Ted 
Kulongoski,  Governor  of  the  State  of 
continued on page 16
Town Hall December 3rd, 2009
It’s been two years since the 
flood  of  2007  made  Vernonia  “Or-
egon’s  New  Orleans”.    Thursday, 
December 3rd, the Vernonia School 
District  and  the  City  of  Vernonia 
will  sponsor  a  Town  Hall  Meeting 
from 7:00 to 8:00 PM in the Middle 
School Cafeteria. We will mark the 
second  anniversary  of  the  Decem-
ber  3,  2007  flood  by  sharing  both 
the latest updates and dessert as we 
meet to provide the community with 
a status report. 
We will be sharing the latest 
information  on  the  new  school  de-
sign and the evolving funding strat-
egy.  We will also discuss a potential 
partnership with the city of Vernonia 
concerning  the  wastewater  sewer 
system  upgrade  and  the  district’s 
need for wetland mitigation, and fi-
nally  there  will  be  some  timely  in-
formation  on  emergency  prepared-
ness  and  how  the  city  is  preparing 
for another winter,
Please come and join us for 
dessert  as  we  share  information  on 
where we are heading and the prog-
ress  that  is  being  made.  There  will 
also be an opportunity for you to get 
your questions answered.
--Dr. Ken Cox, Superintendent
Vernonia School District