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Volume 1, Issue 27                                                                               August 19, 2017


Naselle: A Melting Pot of Neighbors

By Barb Swanson

Susan and Gary Burkhalter and boys: Gus and Bowen.

Our local communities of Naselle, Rosburg, Deep River, Rosburg and Grays River, have a rich Scandinavian heritage. Most families here have deep roots in Finland and Sweden. It is common to see children grow up fair-haired with deep blue eyes, however, we are now expanding and growing into a more diverse community.  We have a good representation of Spanish influences as well as those with Filipino ancestry.  We have something special here too, an increase of adopted children from countries around the world!  The culture of our community is becoming richer!

For the last several years, some of our Christian families have been adopting children from Vietnam, Africa, Ethiopia, China, etc., thus helping to create this ‘melting pot’ full of diversity.

Gus and Bowen’s first day in America with friends.

In Rosburg at the Valley Bible Church, you might find children from all over the world participating in church pageants and Sunday School programs. The faith of this church is very strong and families are willing to reach out to needy children from any country. Five families of this church have adopted 12 children from impoverished nations over the last several years. The church has been very good about providing emotional and in some cases financial support where needed.

My own sister-in-law and husband, Susan and Gary Burkhalter, adopted two boys from Ethiopia in 2011 and named them Gus and Bowen.  They are thriving boys, doing very well on their dairy, learning the farm life. Susan and Gary are also in the process of adopting a 3rd boy from China. They will name him Theo, after Susan’s father, Theodore. They recently received their acceptance letter from China so the wheels are now in motion!  The rest of the Swanson and Burkhalter families have been very supportive and excited to be a part of raising Gus and Bowen, and look forward to meeting Theo!

Those two boys bring joy into the lives of anyone they come across! They love spending time with their older brothers, Kyle and Austin, both now grown with families of their own. Fishing in the Columbia River with brother Kyle is a special treat!

Riann and Alex Schell’s six children.

Another local family, Riann and Alex Schell, adopted four children from different countries! One girl is from Vietnam, MyLihn, adopted back in 2008. Then, came a boy from Ethiopia, Moses, adopted in 2010. They received much support from their family, church and friends to add on to their own family.  Another adoption came in 2013, a girl from China that they named Mercy.  Riann and Alex were so excited and felt it was God’s plan to adopt a third child. Yet again, they felt moved to adopt a 4th child! They adopted ‘Milo’ from China in 2016 and increased the number to six children!

This incredible family is raising a beautiful family that loves and supports each other while growing up in their small community. 

Susan and Gary’s boys have even become fast friends with Riann and Alex’s boy ‘Moses,” and people call them “The Three Amigos.”  I feel certain the Three Amigos have big plans someday!

Our local communities are quickly growing into a multi-cultured yet close-knit group that lives, works, plays, dances, sings and creates a little happiness through their diversity.



Contribute to the Backpack Program and be Entered to Win Seahawks Tickets

Wauna Credit Union

By Josh Rein

Long Beach, WA - Many children across the country who rely on free school lunch and breakfast programs in order to eat on a daily basis, are left hungry once the weekend starts.  Unfortunately, Southwest Washington is no different. As the school year kicks off the Backpack Program of Pacific County is in need of donations to help meet the upcoming rush of students who need help with basic needs to get their school year started on the right foot.

While contributing to such a worthy cause is rewarding on its own, those who give $5 between today and Wednesday, August 23 will be entered to win two tickets to the August 25th Seattle Seahawks preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Century Link Field in Seattle. For every $5 donated people will receive one entry into the ticket drawing.

Members and non-members can contribute in person at any of the credit union’s branches in Astoria, Warrenton, Clatskanie, Vernonia, St. Helens and Scappoose, as well as the Mortgage Origination Office in Long Beach. Members can even call the Wauna Credit Union Communication Center and have a Member Consultant transfer money directly to The Backpack Program.

Wauna Credit Union recognized the need the Backpack Program filled in the community and wanted to help.  The credit union, with branches in Long Beach, Astoria, Warrenton, Clatskanie, Vernonia, St. Helens and Scappoose made the Backpack Program of Pacific County its official charity for the year, and throughout the year fundraises for the organization in many different ways. Employees donate a portion of every paycheck to the Backpack program, have drawings for Trailblazer games, Seahawks and even sell Tillamook pepperoni and beef jerky with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the charity.

“Being hungry makes learning that much harder,” said Natalie Hanson, Backpack Program Co-Founder, “We’re really thankful that Wauna Credit Union continues to be involved. In addition to their support, they are offering to be a collection point for members of the community.”

WCU has been successful so far, raising $7319 of its $12,000 goal for 2017, which has already helped to provide 200 children weekend meals for 12 weeks. Wauna Credit Union is actively soliciting contributions at all branches across Columbia and Clatsop counties in Oregon, and Pacific County in Washington.

“One of Wauna Credit Union’s core values is to be ambassadors in our communities and beyond,” said Jenifer Katon at Wauna Credit Union. “I cannot think of a better way to do that than through the Backpack Program. It serves the most underserved and vulnerable members of our communities. I am so thrilled to be able to give back to our communities through this program.”

More help is always needed in our area. According to Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States, 15.7 percent of Pacific County residents are food insecure, with many of the most vulnerable being children. The Backpack Program of Pacific County serves students at Long Beach Elementary, Ocean Park Elementary, Hilltop School, Ilwaco High School and Ocean Beach Alternative School for a total of over 200 kids per week.

A Rural Big City Library!

By Barb Swanson

I can remember my daughters growing up in the small town of Rosburg, and wondering how I would provide a rich source of language and Reading to them, without going broke trying to buy books and materials. We discovered a bookmobile that came to visit Naselle, consisting of a large mobile home filled with books and movies. I took advantage of the 15- minute drive to Naselle to find just the right children’s books for my daughters. The occasional Disney movie was also a big treat for us. Family movie time and reading books before bedtime was a common tradition. Being able to access books in our small town was a huge need for many families with children.

Naselle received onsite library service in 1986, after years of being served by the once a week bookmobile. The old bookmobile was put up on blocks, across the highway from the present library. The Library was opened as an ‘experimental’ “mini-library” to serve the local patrons.  The surrounding communities were beyond thrilled to have their first permanent library, and supported the 1991 construction of the current building with much enthusiasm, financial support and effort!

“Friends of the Naselle Library”, a volunteer group which raises support and organizes community events at the Library, also helped from the beginning of the Library’s construction, gaining community support. They were very involved in the original landscaping of the Library project.  (It takes a village!)  They brought in local plants and set up other landscaping projects. They were the group that provided the beautiful rhododendrons located near the entrance of the library today.  Friends of the Naselle Library have monthly meetings to plan fundraisers and local events for community patrons.  They meet the first Tuesday of every month and are always looking for new members! The Friends of the Library also provides two books for every child on the local Angel Tree in December. (A wonderful service!) 

Amazingly enough, there have been 18,024 visits to the library as recorded in (2015), so since then, even more visits have occurred. This institution has become the hotspot of our town!

The Library now offers books, DVDs, CDs, newspapers and magazines, downloadable audiobooks, e-books, videos and music. It has public computers with Internet access, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher. It even has online Reference Databases, including on-line magazines and newspapers, encyclopedias, auto manuals and standardized tests.

The Library has FREE wireless Internet access, Wi-fi service and all kinds of programs and events for kids.

The Naselle Library also offers an additional service called Interlibrary Loan, where it can borrow an item for a patron from another library in another city. Naselle has courier service 5 days a week, so if there is an item for a patron from another Library, they can usually get it here in a day or two.

Another service that amazed me to discover is their free printing service, up to 100 free pages per week!! The Library also provides access to and Microsoft Imagine Academy, along with many other research databases.  Here are some of the incredible services and activities they have provided for our community: A regular playgroup time for kids. A regular story time for kids (very popular); (the manager, Michelle, even reads to the Kindergarten classes at the local school. Summer Reading programs, performances from singers, magicians, comedians, puppeteers, and others! Events after school, such as OzoBots and other coding, STEM activities. A monthly Lego Club (going strong). Movies for kids on the first Saturday of each month. Musical events such as July’s Music on the Lawn series and an upcoming December singalong. Author Talks. A Backyard series for adults.

The Library staff today consists of: Cheryl Heywood---Director. Michelle Zilli---Manager. Tania Remmers—Senior Library Assistant. Marsha Woods—Senior Library Assistant. Shannon Tetz, Library Aide. 

It is amazing to think how far our little Naselle Library has come since the days of the bookmobile. I know my own daughters (now grown) would have loved taking part in all the wonderful services that the Library now has to offer. Instead, I can continue to bring my grandsons to the Library every time they come to visit. The appeal can now be 2nd and 3rd generational!

The Library is planning to continue to upgrade with a new seating area for teens and a new service desk. It continues to become more inviting and comfortable and invites everyone to come for a visit! 



Population Growth and Trends in Northwest Oregon

By Erik Knoder

Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties combined to produce 57 more births than deaths from July 2015 through June 2016. The graph shows the natural increase (births minus deaths) in the combined population of Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties. The natural increase underwent a long-term decline in the region throughout the 1980s and 1990s. No clear trend of change has emerged since then, although the number of births exceeds the number of deaths most years.

The modest increase in natural population in 2016 was a drop from the previous year and lower than most recent years. The increase was due to natural growth in just three of the counties: Benton, Clatsop, and Columbia. Benton County is by far the largest of the five counties, and it had the largest natural increase (+151). Columbia County had 56 more births than deaths over the 12 months, and Clatsop County squeaked into the growth category with just 13 more births than deaths.

Benton County is often the outlier in Northwest Oregon. It has the largest percentage of people ages 18 to 64 and thousands of college students, and it is the only complete metro area in the region. The county had 760 births and 609 deaths from July 2015 through June 2016.

Columbia County has a population age distribution that is fairly similar to the state’s distribution. The county had 512 births and 456 deaths over the time period. The natural population change in Columbia County fluctuates to an unusual degree, primarily due to swings in the number of births in the county.

Clatsop County had a small natural increase over the 12 months, and is more rural in character than Benton and Columbia counties. Clatsop County had 408 births and 395 deaths. The county usually has a small natural increase in population, but seems to run a natural decrease every few years.

Lincoln and Tillamook counties both had natural population losses, typical for rural counties. Natural population loss is traditionally the case for these two counties that are notable for their older-aged populations. Twenty-five percent of Tillamook County’s population is age 65 or older. The county had 36 more deaths than births last year. Tillamook County had 261 births and 297 deaths over the 12 months.

Lincoln County has the oldest population of the five counties in northwest Oregon. About 27 percent of the population is 65 or older. The county has had more deaths than births for more than 20 years. The county logged 127 more deaths than births in the year to July 2016. Lincoln County had 580 deaths and 452 births.

Migration. Net immigration, mostly from surrounding counties, also adds to the region’s population. It slowed during the recession then picked up again since 2011. In 2006, net migration was about 2,500. By 2010, it was down to 271 people. In 2016, it was at a record-setting 2,878. All five counties had net in-migration, and migration accounts for the majority of the population growth in the region.

Future population growth within the region will be governed not just by employment opportunities, but also by the quality of life, affordability, commuting times, and a host of other reasons. The Corvallis metro area, the coastal areas, and the parts of Columbia County close to the Portland metro area usually grow the fastest.

Based on estimates and projections provided by the Population Research Center and the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, Northwest Oregon’s population is anticipated to grow from 253,995 in 2015 to almost 260,652 when 2020 rolls around.

Northwest Oregon’s Education & Health Services Industry Has Grown by 27 Percent

By Shawna Sykes

In the past 10 years, job growth in the education and health services sector within NW Oregon (27%) has been more than five times faster than overall job growth across all industries (5%). This industry has also grown in relative importance to the region, from 11 percent of jobs in 2006 to over 13 percent of the area’s total employment in 2016.

With employment surpassing 25,000 jobs and payroll of more than $1.2 billion in 2016 within the region, it is comprised of education providers, ambulatory health care services, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and social assistance providers.

Within Northwest Oregon, educational services makes up nearly half (46%) of employment within educational and health services with over 11,400 jobs. Hospitals are the second largest segment of this industry with nearly 4,400 jobs and 18 percent of employment followed by ambulatory health care services (14%), social assistance (13%), and nursing and residential care facilities (9%).

Of the five segments of education and health services, hospitals had the highest 2016 average annual wage within the region ($73,062) followed by educational services ($56,833), ambulatory health care services ($51,436), nursing and residential care facilities ($26,190), and social assistance providers ($24,955).

“Icing on the Cake”

By Sue Cody

As the temperature rises, so does the activity at the Clatsop County Fair. Kids are abuzz with energy, chores, nerves and just plain fun. While kids climb a rock wall, a pirate sets up a display complete with parrots at his ship. Dogs are tested at an obedience course, while young women study their notes for judging horsemanship.

The smell of elephant ears, curly fries, Mexican food and corndogs permeates the air, while a magician entices children to help him on stage. Inside, the displays of flowers, artwork, Lego villages and baked goods show a sense of accomplishment.

The barns are filled with horses, chickens, rabbits, bulls, swine, calves, turkeys and all kinds of animals. And there are the kids in 4-H who raised them, busy cleaning stalls and sweeping the walkway.

“The kids have to do all the work of feeding, watering, cleaning the stalls and grooming the animals,” says Michelle Anglim, a 4-H leader. “Adults are only allowed to help if there is a safety issue.”

“Learning life skills is what it is all about,” says Sandra Carlson, Clatsop County 4-H coordinator. “Kids learn integrity, empathy, responsibility, leadership, community outreach and teamwork.”

“There is such a variety of activities,” Anglim says, as she reels off projects her children have been involved in, such as making sausage links, cooking and eating them; sewing; making bread and butter; creating ornaments for the Christmas Wishing Trees; and making placemats for care homes.

“Kids learn responsibility and leadership because there are requirements for their presentations, whether it be dog obedience, horsemanship or showing market swine,” shesays.

Activities cross traditional barriers. 4-H activities are not divided between traditional male and female roles. Girls and boys learn life skills together. Girls learn to change the oil in cars, boys learn to sew and arrange flowers. Everyone can learn horticulture, cooking and raising animals.

Hayleigh Anglim and Austin Lacy both like sewing. Hayleigh says she likes it because her leader, Ashley Latora, is a good seamstress and brings all kinds of patterns for the kids to choose from. Hayleigh has made a reversible skirt, a fleece hat, pajama dress and more.

Austin says he recently had to sew a button onto his pants after it fell off. “I love the sewing machine, but I don’t like hand sewing,” he says. He also does a lot with sheep, pigs, poultry, horses and chinchillas.

One young girl grooming a rabbit recognizes this writer’s The Way to Wellville shirt and gets excited. She says, “I was in Clatsop Kids Go!” It is an in-school program developed by The Way to Wellville to encourage kids to stay active, eat healthy foods and practice mindfulness. It served 250 students last year in three school districts, and will continue in the fall.

A crowd of boys circles a table for the flower arranging contest. Juan Jimenez concentrates as he clips stems and places them in the arrangement. Last year he arranged flowers at the Oregon State Fair, which he says was “a crazy, good experience.” He says when he was in sixth grade, he was pushed to do flower arranging and judging by his leader, Katherine Kahl.

Juan says, “We have a motto — ‘Real men arrange flowers.’”

Kahl says, “Most of these kids won’t be farmers, but they will be consumers. They will know where their food comes from and the value of hard work.”

Carlson says, “The County Fair is the icing on the cake, the grand finale, a way to show off what these kids have accomplished.”

County Youth Headed to State Fair

By Wendi Agalzoff-LaRue

Over the past week at the Clatsop County Fair, locals and visitors alike enjoyed animal showmanship, carnival rides and talking with the local youth with the 4H Program.  All year, young adults from grades 4th-12th have worked hard on animal showmanship as well as hall exhibit entries. Accomplishments range from photography, baking, everything in between and non-animal competitions such as shooting.

According to Clatsop County 4H Coordinator Sandra Carlson, the 2017 4H program in Clatsop County had 275 youth exhibitors this year at the Clatsop County Fair.  Of those exhibitors, over 48 have qualified to travel to the upcoming Oregon State Fair!  With over 150 students involved in animal showmanship, (including horses, dogs, small animals, swine and beef), over 100 youth participated in Horticulture, Shotgun, Archery and other contests.

The total competitive entry count was at an outstanding 1,969 entries for the 2017 year staff. Volunteers worked hard to close the books on Clatsop County Fair and push onward to the state level competitions!  There is 6 youth from large livestock, (swine, beef, swine, goats); 8 youth from small animal, (rabbit, poultry, cavy, waterfowl); 6 youth from horse division; 3 youth with dogs; and over 20 students have qualified for various competitions at the Oregon State Fair. They are now preparing to travel with their animals and exhibits!

The Retirement Club

Local Membership Increases in Size

By Barb Swanson


It is difficult to believe that I am now considered to be a member of the retirement community. Where did those 30+ years go?  How did this automatic membership materialize?  Did I pay dues to join this club? Yes, indeed I did! My retirement fund has now officially recognized my separation from service and the day I received my first check was a good one.  I slept in that day!

Retirement consists of a change of life. Instead of one career that dominates a good portion of your daily life, a retiree faces the challenge of choosing what they want to do to fill their days.

A change in careers?  An exciting travel adventure plan?  Enveloping oneself in the lives of grandchildren? An unexpected commitment to the care of aging family members? Writing and even publishing that long-awaited book? Volunteering in local organizations? Writing and performing music? The list seems endless but oh so difficult to choose, plan and carry out. The challenge is there!

My retirement came after 33 years of teaching at Naselle, and 3 years of teaching in Neah Bay.  I taught Kindergarten, Elementary Music, Drama/Theater, Reading and Poetry.  I miss the kids but feel honored to have been a tool for their learning. Some of my music students went on to study music as adults. Several of my Drama students have gone on to study theater and have been cast in plays and music productions. Teaching Drama at the Youth Camp facility was also very rewarding. The students were not inhibited and showed real talent in acting. The best part was watching their self-esteem and confidence begin to grow!

I recently attended a retirement party for Scott Smith, a friend and fellow ‘former’ colleague.  He was such an incredible asset to our community. He served in many capacities: teacher, chaperone, class advisor, athletic coach and even knowledge bowl coach.  He taught for 35 years and is well deserved of this time of retirement.  He gave much wisdom to so many kids, and watched as they grew up to emulate his example of honesty, forthrightness, integrity and faith. He took students to knowledge bowl competitions, state tournaments in basketball, track and cross country.  He will, no doubt, enjoy his rest from the stress of teaching, but will miss the kids that he worked with every bit of skill and effort.

Being an avid sportsman, Scott will no doubt spend more time doing things he is passionate about: fishing, time with family, especially his 8 grandchildren, basketball and bicycling. I’m sure there are many more ideas in the works. 

Karen Wirkkala and Alan Bennett retired last year during the same time that I did. They both served as administrators for our district. Both helped to guide programs for our kids, budget finances to keep things running smoothly, and disciplined students of all ages. These educators served as fine examples of leaders in our school district as well as our community.

I had the pleasure of working for both administrators for years and witnessed their excellence in helping students to meet the challenges of passing state tests and earning credits towards graduation. They both went the extra mile.

Karen Wirkkala taught school for many years before becoming a principal for our school district. My daughters even had her for a teacher in their early years.  Altogether, Karen put in 37 years of service to our community. She helped our schools succeed at achieving some of the best test scores in Washington State.  Karen had such a positive impact on her students over the years. She was thankful that she could help “…propel them on to be the citizens of the future.”

I’m sure Karen will be spending a lot of time with her incredibly adorable grandson. Her family is a blessing and a priority for her.  She plans to travel to Hawaii along with other favorite destinations.

Alan Bennett retired after 32 years of teaching and administrative work. He taught school in our school district and then switched to administrative work. He later became principal out at the Naselle Youth Camp where I finished my last years of teaching. He was a great administrator to work for and supported every curriculum project or Art/Performance idea that I had.

Alan is probably the most ambitious of all of us. He has a farm to manage, and is currently building a living space next to his house for his mother to move in to. Being a devoted family man, he wanted to retire to help take care of his Mother whose health took a downward turn. Alan even operates his own bio-diesel plant to fuel his truck and recently had solar panels installed on his roof. He also plans to add a wood-fired boiler to heat his home.

What do I plan to do?  Well, besides my desire to see family, my life has steered towards a couple of new part-time careers: working as a secretary at the local Mike Swanson Real Estate office and becoming a writer for “Clatsop Current News.” I really enjoy writing about our local people, as well as historical and cultural events happening in our area. I find great fulfillment in seeing my articles published!  I also remain committed to our local Finn Festival Association.  My love for the arts continue with the hope of starting a local Performing Arts Center for our community. You just never know. The challenge is there! 

Kiitos to some of the newest members!

- Barb

The Senior Retirement club: A community of people dedicated to living their lives to the fullest!

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