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About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View Entire Issue (April 21, 2011)
The INDEPENDENT, April 21, 2011
Published on the first and third Thursdays of each month by
The Independent, LLC, 725 Bridge St., Vernonia, OR 97064.
Publisher Clark McGaugh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Rebecca McGaugh, email@example.com
Mentor Noni Andersen
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based dyes
Help VHS help Jaden
It’s really nice to see young people reaching out to
help people in nearby communities. A talent show is
scheduled for April 23, here in Vernonia, to help a boy
in Banks who has cancer (see page 1 for more infor-
mation). If you can help Vernonia High School help
Jaden, please attend the show. And thanks to all who
worked to put this fundraiser together.
Whose trash is on Hwy. 47?
While looking through the April 30, 1987 issue, a let-
ter to the editor from a 12-year old caught our attention.
The letter, from Rebecca Jensen, said, “…tell me why
so much garbage is dumped on Hwy. 47. Surely it is not
all tourists and out-of-towners that put it there. It takes
very little effort to keep your garbage in your car and
dispose of it when you reach your destination. Now that
Out of My
some effort has been made to clean up Hwy. 47 and
the city streets, let us keep it that way. How our town by Noni Andersen
looks reflects the attitude of all of us. Take pride in Ver-
nonia; you live here.” We couldn’t have said it better.
And yet, 24 years later, there is still garbage all along
Hwy. 47. Please don’t litter.
Oregon health report card
Oregon recently got a report card on health by coun-
ty (for full results see www.countyhealthrankings.org).
Columbia County is shown to have 15% excessive
drinking, compared to the Oregon average of 16% and
the national average of 8% of the population. The Ore-
gon Health Authority reported that there are, each year
in Oregon, 1,400 alcohol-related deaths, 41,000 Dri-
ving Under the Influence arrests and 5,100 violent
crimes attributed to alcohol. Just for comparison, in
2009 (last year of report), there were 213 Oregon
deaths attributed to drug related causes.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month (see page 9 for
more information). Have you ever wondered if you
drink too much, or had someone suggest your drinking
is a problem? If you are wondering, there is a survey at
www.alcoholscreening.org that can help. If you’d like to
quit drinking but don’t know how to start, a free re-
source is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). You can find an
AA meeting on page 4 of this paper, or call 503-223-
8569 for meetings in other locations.
So much is going on,
and so little of it is helpful
to the community that I
don’t know whether to
laugh, cry, or curl up in a
fetal position and hiber-
nate. I know there are
many who would prefer
that I hibernate.
After the Vernonia City Council election, last
November, I was thinking about the responsibili-
ties facing the winning candidates. I felt that
Josette Mitchell was capable of doing a credible
job as mayor, and she has worked hard to con-
quer the steep learning curve that came with the
win. She has even managed to instill some order
at meetings despite inappropriate behavior by
sometimes fractious councilors.
I also felt that the two new councilors, Willow
Burch and Marilyn Nicks, who both own and op-
erate local businesses, would be good for busi-
ness, and was concerned only about their ability
to represent the rest of the community. Boy, was
They have both joined Councilor Kevin Hud-
son in his effort to replace the first competent city
administrator in years, one who has the confi-
dence of disparate elements of the community –
city staff, volunteer committees, local businesses
and organizations, and ordinary citizens – over
what? Personal pique?
This pettiness harms the community, and is
especially harmful to businesses because of the
The current administrator, Bill Haack, is work-
ing on many difficult projects facing Vernonia:
wastewater treatment system, interfacing with
the school district’s huge project, how to handle
what will be a park encompassing property from
Rock Creek to Vernonia Lake, plus multiple oth-
er post-flood properties that will become the
city’s responsibility, a new senior center and food
bank, the development of a biomass-powered
commercial zone, and more. These are projects
that require a professional administrator.
We have known for over a decade that the
wastewater treatment system must be improved;
Vernonia will not be allowed to continue dis-
charging all of it’s treated effluent into the Ne-
halem. The city has gotten extension after exten-
sion, countless plans have been considered,
many engineers have been consulted, and mil-
lions have been borrowed and spent.
Incapable and/or incompetent administrators,
combined with similar councils that refused to
deal with reality, have complicated and delayed
solutions. The delays have resulted in higher
costs for both the project and the loans.
Now we have three councilors who obviously
don’t like Haack, so they want a new administra-
tor – creating more delays and driving costs
higher, including possible penalties for failure to
comply with clean water regulations. Vernonia is
already a high tax and fee city. Driving costs
higher – unnecessarily – isn’t just bad for busi-
ness; it’s irresponsible.