Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle

Today I hope you will pause and think of Wilho Saari from Naselle. He has had a stroke and is now under hospice care at Columbia Memorial Hospital. He is a man who loves his family, Finnish music, children and Finland. He taught music, has written a "tune every day," for many years, has CD's of kantele music, and shared his gift for the kantele with anyone who wanted to listen. I have great memories of him playing the kantele at the Deep River Church. Lord, hear our prayers.

Photo of the Week: Gary Flood, principal at the Naselle Youth Camp School, is a genuinely nice guy. I spent an hour with him last Friday at the school to learn more about the school and the boys who have been sent there from the State of Washington's Department of Corrections. Gary even invited my dog, Ben to come into the interview, so that alone is a nice indicator of how he treats the students at the camp school. The number of boys enrolled varies from week to week, but at this point there are less than 40.

In years past, there been much higher numbers enrolled, up to 90. With the covid challenges today, however, the numbers are lower. The boys are divided into three categories in the state: low risk, medium risk, and high risk. At the Naselle Camp, there are only low to medium risk boys, therefore the Camp has no fencing around the property. There are two lodges where the boys live and sleep and there is a cafeteria where they eat their meals. There is a lovely small chapel on the grounds built by volunteers years ago. The very presence of that small building gives the boys and staff a higher sense of community and family.

Clearly Gary considers the school as a family for the boys with teachers and other staff serving in parental roles. When asked what he is most proud of there, his response was, "The staff, they are the best. I am glad I came to work here six years ago. I have worked many years in public schools, but this one gives me pride and hope for these students. They can graduate with diplomas as in the past years, where we had up to 38 graduates. Or they can work for their GED (General Education Degree) and move on that way. With seven teachers and around 35 students, the classes are small and very productive for the students. I am proud to be here working with them all."

At one time the Department of Natural Resources had a fire-fighting program, but it is no longer active here. Gary explained that having the students in school all day rather than working during the day and having classes in the evenings is easier on both teachers and students. "We are now a straight day only school which serves us well."

Gary gave a small tour recognizing the librarian and her program which does much more than provide books. She is the orientation guide when new youth arrive. The open room in the center of the school has a long line of tables with computers where students can do their work and investigate possible careers and training schools or whatever they are thinking of for more education. There are two secretaries and a full-time counselor. Overall, the camp school is impressive for its campus and facilities, and for the opportunities it offers the students. It was a joy to see it fulfilling its mission so well. My dog, Ben, gave a few students a chance to simply stand and watch him. He wasn't allowed to interact with them, but they were clearly glad just to watch him. Thanks to all who hosted me, and to Gary Flood for giving me the time to learn about the Youth Camp.

Another success in the area is the Appelo Archives Center. Their last board meeting illustrated how busy they are and how well they are serving the entire area. Resources there include historical documents and interviews with historic family members and those searching for more information on their family's history. Their breakfasts and lunches are samples of good, healthy food, cooked well in a quiet, museum atmosphere that reminds me of cafés in large museums in Seattle and Tacoma. More and more work is being done accessioning gifts for the museum and books for the library. Remember to renew your memberships now and continue to enjoy the member discount on the items for sale. You can learn more on their Facebook page anytime.

Events such as concerts are being planned for March forward. The Finnish American Folk Festival will be held this summer at the end of July. It's time for visitors from out of town (and there are many visitors planning to come already) to make their reservations to stay locally or on the Peninsula, or in Astoria. Plan ahead to spend extra time visiting our historic spots.

Hunters Inn has changed hands. I had lunch there last week with my friend, Anita Raistakka. I was so pleased with the chicken salad I had. It was full of the best lettuce and the amounts were just right. They are open for breakfast on the weekends, opening at 9 a.m. During the week they open at 11 a.m. Plenty of room for families to take Grandma and Grandad out for breakfast.

Denise Blanchard has come home from being in the hospital for a long time, but she is getting better every day and we are so glad to have her home. I know her family rests easier now.

For those who might want to hear what's happening during the Wahkiakum County Commissioners meeting, remember you can hear and speak if you visit on Zoom with your computer. Go to the county's website and look for the commissioners meeting. All you need to do is click on the long web address for the Zoom account, then put in the code for the meeting, also shown on their website. You can call instead if you'd like using the number: 1-253-215-8782. Meeting ID: 880 972 233 and passcode: 721021. After the meeting's call to order and the flag salute, they will approve or change the agenda, then there is time for public comment. You are welcome at that time to speak, so bring your comments or questions to them by simply speaking up and saying your name during the public comment section that follows the opening at about 9:33 a.m. If the travel time is too much, or you simply don't want to take the time to get there by 9:30, simply call in and you can bring your questions to them directly. We are lucky that in our small county, we can speak directly to our commissioners, and they will listen.

Senior Lunch Club meets on the first and third Wednesdays at noon at Rosburg Hall. A small donation gives you a wonderful home cooked meal. On Thursdays at noon CAP's box lunches will be available at noon at Rosburg Hall. Call Denice at (360)762-3111 to reserve lunch boxes.

Word for the Week: Listen.


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