Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


Karen Bertroch

Presenting the new EMT's at the Grays River Fire Department: L-r, Austin and Nicole Burkhalter and Mike Whalen.

Firewatch: Towers in the National Forests used to be common years ago. College students would stay at a tower for the summer to watch for smoke indicating a fire. They would contact the agency so fire crews could get to the fire ASAP. Can we all be like those firewatchers? If you see some smoke, call the landowners to check on the fire, or call the Sheriff's Office at (360) 465-2654 or in Pacific County, (360) 642-9404 in Long Beach.

From Kaye Weimer: Karen, thank you for the birthday greetings in last week's Eagle. I must tell you that it was also Cliff's birthday. Yes, we have the same birthday. It has been fun celebrating together for over 60 years. Thought I should let you know. Thank you for taking on the Downriver Dispatch. We enjoy reading it every week. And then I get to read the sheriff's report. Highlight of my week! LOL

Very Sad Loss: I want to start by honoring a woman I have long admired, Carol Penttila, who passed away a few days ago. She was a strong woman who struggled with serious health challenges for an exceptionally long time. She was a role model for all who also had to deal with pain and loss, but she came through. I suspect we all just assumed she would continue to prevail, but to hear of her death was a shock. Her family was blessed by her as were all who knew her. May God be with her family members and on through all the many relatives and so many in the community who loved her. We are losing too many too fast.

Finnish American Folk Festival (FAFF) Market: The next outdoor market is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Naselle Community Center on Parpala Road.There will be several vendors. If you want to sign up at the last minute as a vendor, contact Jennifer Boggs at (360)484-3679. The Veggie Girls from Zimmerman's Farm will be at the market so you can plan on great vegetables to be on sale.

Barbecue and Concert with Carl Wirkkala: FAFF is also offering a barbecue and concert later that day with Carl Wirkkala and his band, "The Whistle Punks." It's all happening at the Naselle Community Center just past the Timberland Library, at 14 Parpala Road in Naselle. At 5:30 p.m. hot dog and cheeseburger combos prepared by Travis Boggs from Country Catering will be available for purchase. The concert will begin at 6:30 following the barbecue. Tickets by donation with all proceeds to help maintain the community center.

Songs of Finland Concert: Also on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Valley Bible Church, "Songs of Finland" will be presented by Marja Liisa Kay who has sung with symphonies and premiered principal roles in modern operas throughout Europe and America. She will sing accompanied by Stephen Lewis. Tickets by donation.

Shoreline management hearings: The county commissioners will hold two hearings on the proposed shoreline management plan. The plan is important to all property owners in Wahkiakum County. There will be two hearings. The first will be on August 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse in Cathlamet. The second will be at Johnson Park on August 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Rosburg.

Wahkiakum County Fair: This will be fun! August 19, 20 and 21 at the Fairgrounds in Skamokawa. Get it on your calendar! The Fairbooks are now available so look for them around the community. The books are full of good information, so get those vegetables, flowers, animals, art, and craft items entered accordingly. And be sure to help the kids get their things entered, too!

Grange Spelling Bee: Help spread the word about the 2021 Grays River Grange Spelling Bee on August 21 at 1 p.m. inside the Skamokawa Grange building. It's the last day of the fair and a fun time to help youth get on stage and show what they've learned. The study spelling lists are available at the or website:

Plan ahead for School Opening of Naselle/Grays River School: September 2 will be the first day of school for students followed by Labor Day weekend, so keep that in mind as you make plans for the holiday. Students will be at school Thursday and Friday, but they will not come back till the day after Labor Day.

Naselle/Grays River Valley Board opening: The Naselle-Grays River Valley School District is seeking a board member for Area 1. Area 1 boundary and description can be found at the district's web site: This position will remain open until filled.

Photo of the Week: Six new EMT's graduated with their diploma certificates recently from classes held on the peninsula. Three are from the Grays River Fire Department and three are from Naselle's Fire Department. Nicole and Austin Burkhalter made it through the required studying by putting their kids to bed, then studying together after the kids went to sleep. They both wanted to help the community by becoming EMT's. Nicole said she has always been interested in health care. You may remember that Ed Hunt of Rosburg started as an EMT, then went to school and became a nurse. Mike Whalen, son-in-law of Joel and Noreen Fitts, and husband of their daughter Susie, said he wanted to do it to see if at his age he could still learn. And that he did! We in the community are proud of these folks who attend the long series of classes and graduated so they now can officially help the ambulance crew with calls.

Senior Lunches: The Senior Lunch Club had their potluck luncheon yesterday, but they will meet next on August 4 and 18. Today (July 22), the menu is chicken Parmesan, broccoli spears, orange grapefruit salad. On July 29: beef and tater bake, sliced tomatoes, sliced apricots. For reservations, call Diane Hollenbeck at (362) 762-3111.

Word for the Week: Firewatchers.


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