Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle

First, I must apologize to Ed and Steve Blain because in last week's Grays River Diking District report, I mistakenly said Steve Blain instead of Ed Blain. I bet both Steve and Ed are wondering what's wrong with this woman? Truthfully the list is long but I assure you I now realize there are at least two Blain families in the area, but one spelling of their last name. Many thanks to Marlea Blain for correcting me with humor and forgiveness.

Wilho Saari: Now, to the sad reality of the death of Wilho Saari, who recently passed away. All of us in the area, region, country and the world, knew him, or knew of him. His gifts of music, humor, love and gentleness, are well known to all, myself included. His family has written lovely tributes to him. Those are the most precious because they love him best.

Alpha Theta is having a sale of hanging baskets with a summer mix of flowers or of fuchsias. Proceeds from the sale will support the Alpha Theta Scholarship in the spring. Baskets can be ordered in either the summer mix of flowers for $35 each or fuchsias for $40 each by contacting Loretta Smalley at (360) 520-2071 or emailing her at lmsmalley After enjoying them for most of the summer, you can loan them back and deliver the baskets to the Naselle/GR School for the week of Finn Fest July 29-31. Your baskets will be displayed at the Festival there and can be picked up on Sunday after it ends. The baskets will be watered carefully under the watchful eye of Loretta Smalley herself.

Photo of the week: Wahkiakum County has one less food pantry because of the recent closure of Helping Hand in Cathlamet. In Rosburg, the West End Food Pantry is open on Thursdays from 1- 5 p.m. Founded in 2011 by many area volunteers, it regularly serves 30 or more families each week, along with 60 elders served with food and senior box lunches.

Many families have several children, so the actual food needed is much more than we might realize. Many shut-ins and elderly folks receive theirs by volunteers who deliver to them. Donated food is received on Thursdays as well as handed out. They have a small budget and 10 regular volunteers. Extra donations of money or food is needed during the holidays. They usually give out turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas in 60 boxes full of all that's needed for a full dinner with food for one to eight per family. They receive donated beef, then they have it processed and put into one pound packages of hamburger.

With the covid shutdown for restaurants, they often receive left over food that hasn't been used. Many folks simply clean out their pantries and bring what they don't use to the food pantry. They have to buy milk and other dairy products. When I visited with the folks there last Thursday, I asked them what they are most proud of at the food pantry. The answer was clear, "We are proud of how we can feed folks who need food. If anyone comes to us hungry, we feed them." No questions are asked and no forms need to be filled out.

Anyone can simply walk in and get what they need, whether it's formula for the baby, dog food, or boxes of produce. Early founders are Suzie Whalen, Lori Hamp, Linda Ramsay, Noreen Fitts, and Mike Backman from the Hunger Task Force. The West End Food Pantry serves folks from Pacific County, all of Wahkiakum and anyone else who comes in the door. There are no requirements to get food at the pantry located in Johnson Park across from the Rosburg Store. Their contact phone number is (360) 465-2344 if you have questions.

Sea lions: Have you noticed the sea lions in the Grays? Seems they follow the incoming tide up to the corner behind Duffy's Pub, then they return to the Columbia on the outgoing tide. Some call them seals but I suspect they're sea lions because they bark like sea lions did when I lived on my sailboat at the Shilshole Marina in Ballard in years past. They kept us all awake at night. They are enjoying our fish but they have permission, I guess.

Zerr family: Many have asked me if the Zerrs have left. Yes, they have moved to West Birnie Slough Road on Puget Island. They now have a 36 acre farm, while they also have lifetime rights to their house in Grays River so they can stay there anytime. The new owners, Tony and Qun Wang, have also purchased the house formerly owned by the Abbots across from the Wang property on Covered Bridge Road. The Wangs have also purchased the Larson's big white house on the east side of Covered Bridge Road just past the bridge.

Movie and book: I recently watched a movie that some of you might enjoy, "The Tender Bar" on Amazon. Sweet story with good acting and George Clooney is the director. And a book to help pass the "getting longer" winter days,"Under A Flaming Sky – the Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894." Written by Daniel James Brown, author of the popular "Boys in the Boat" bestseller, it gives us yet more images of immense firestorms such as the ones in California in recent years. The Hinckley fire is famous in Minnesota, though not so well known here.

Fires are something we need to think about in our area where the summers have been getting hotter and hotter. Fires could be a reality here someday. We have one main highway winding through the county, so we need to be mindful of the fires we set intentionally, and how we teach our children about fires. We are a county with more timber than open area. As our summers heat up, our timber dries out.

Senior Lunch Club is scheduled for Wednesdays at noon on February 2 and 16 at Rosburg Hall. Senior box lunches are on Thursdays at noon for pick up at Rosburg Hall. Call ahead to Denice to reserve your lunch at (360) 762-3111.

Naselle Sports Club wants everyone to know that Registration is open for baseball (7-12 year olds), softball (8-14 year olds), and T-ball (5-6 year olds; if 4, parents must be coaching).

Baseball registration closes on Feb. 11; tryouts are scheduled for Feb. 11, 3-4:30 p.m. at the school; at the softball field, batting cage and football stadium. This is for 7-11 year olds ,; bring cleats and gloves.

Softball registration will be open through mid-April. Tryouts will be mid-April, date to be determined.

T-ball registration closes May 1.

Registration is available online at

Word for the Week: Blessings.


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