PRESORTED STANDARD U.S. Postage Paid Vernonia, OR 97064 Permit No. 37 Vol. 27, No. 3 THE FREE INDEPENDENT The Voice Voice of of the Upper Nehalem River The River Valley Valley for for Over Over 25 27 years years February 1, 2012 Town Hall on preparedness The new Vernonia school building continues to take shape. This picture, taken January 31, of the front entrance shows many of the windows in place and FSC cedar siding. The FSC designation assures that the wood was responsibly harvested from well-managed verified sources. For more information on the new school and funding, see article on page 12 by Su- perintendent Dr. Ken Cox. Early results give Bonamici the lead Based on results available early last night, Suzanne Bonamici is leading for the 1st District Congressional seat with 54.24% of the statewide vote, which included 49.89% percent of the Columbia Coun- ty votes and 52.95% of Wash- ington County votes. The win- ner will take the seat vacated by David Wu’s resignation in 2011. Voter turnout for the January 31 special election was 45.40% in Columbia County, 38.86% in Washington County and 40.01% statewide as of 9:00 p.m. election night. Suzanne Bonamici U.S. Senator Wyden Town Hall U.S. Senator Ron Wyden will hold a Town Hall meeting in Scappoose on February 5, at 12:30 p.m., at Scappoose City Hall, 33568 E. Columbia Ave. Senator Wyden has been holding town hall meetings in every county, every year since 1996. The City of Vernonia held a hurriedly scheduled Storm Watch 2012 Preparedness community town hall on Satur- day, January 28, at the Vernon- ia Middle School. The town hall was set up as a result of the re- cent snow storm, with electrici- ty loss, and was based on ex- pectations of very wet weather for the rest of this winter. Though only 15-20 commu- nity members attended the town hall, West Oregon Electric Cooperation (WOEC) General Manager Marc Farmer started the presentations (see Power of the People on page 13 for that information). Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell explained the reasons the city had declared an emer- gency during the storm. That declaration is done in order to start mobilization of county re- sources in case the needs of the event outstrip the city’s available funds. It sets the stage for county, and possibly state or federal (depending on the level of needs and costs) agencies to be able to help. In the case of this last storm, out- side resources (other than WOEC’s need for outside crews) were not needed. The declaration does not mean that shelters will necessarily be set up, just that the city is trying to be ready for whatever needs may arise. Recognizing that citizens need for a way for citizens to find out what’s going on, and what resources are available depending on the situation, the city is setting up a Facebook page for information, in addi- tion to the city website. The two buildings designat- ed as shelters are St. Mary’s Feb. 10 will be a school day Western Pond Turtle is one of two turtle species native to Oregon that will be covered in a free presentation. See page 20 for more information. Friday, February 10, will be a school day with a regu- lar Friday schedule for Ver- nonia students. The day will make up for one of the days lost recently to snow. Catholic Church and the old Lincoln Grade School building. Community members can go to one of those two locations for information if they don’t have phone service. If they do have phone service, call the Vernon- ia Police Department non- emergency numbers, where in- formation will be recorded. Those numbers are 503-397- 1521 or 1-800-696-7795. The city’s Emergency Com- mittee, in conjunction with the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District has put together a sur- vey to find out which communi- ty members may be vulnerable in different scenarios (such as flood, earthquake, power out- age, etc.). It is available at city hall and will be mailed out with the next water bill. The need for all community members to be able to “shelter in place” for the first 48-72 hours of any emergency was stressed. Each home needs to have food, a heat source, and water for up to three days. In- formation on what should be in the 72-hour kit can be found at http://72hours.org/build_kit.htm l and other online sites. Another suggestion was for each household to have signs to put in a front window, one saying “HELP” and the other “OKAY” so that neighbors and friends can see right away who needs help and who’s doing fine. The city will continue work- ing on refining emergency pro- cedures and getting more citi- zens involved in emergency re- sponse and more information to the community. More emergency prepared- ness information is on page 8. Band Concert Cancelled The January 24 Vernonia band concert was cancelled, at the last minute, due to the loss of school days from weather during the previous week. It has not yet been rescheduled.