Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


The Stefan home after fire was out showing that everything around the house was protected and saved, even the birdhouse. Photo by Linda Elliott.

I want to start by honoring Rick Nelson, a steadfast man of courage and commitment who passed away on Friday, June 2. To spend 22 years fighting cancer was an enormous challenge for both Rick and his wife, with so many years of trips to OHSU, meetings with doctors, nights away from home, staying in the hospital, enduring chemotherapy of all types and its aftermath. I admire him in death as in life and his continally used word, "Onward," will stay with me forever. "Onward, Rick," and may all the past guitar greats be at the Gates of Heaven to greet you.

Photo of the week: This is an "after" photo Linda Elliott sent me of what was left of the Stefan's fire in the early morning of Memorial Day. Austin Burkhalter told me how important it was to have so many fire districts show up. He mentioned that some of the fire trucks used the eight-inch water line at Johnson Park to get filled up. That's quite a jaunt from Altoona Pillar Rock to Johnson Park, but we all do what we must to make life work here in rural Washington. You can see from the photo what a fantastic job the firefighters did keeping the fire from spreading. DNR came to protect the timber and even the birdhouse clearly seen in front of the house survived. Plants and trees around the house were all protected, too. It was truly a miracle that there were people in the house to catch the fire happening and help everyone get out. Thanks to our volunteer firefighters because you folks are life savers for our community. There aren't enough words to fully express our appreciation, but we can send donations to our Fire District #3 to help build their funds back up after buying a truck from the Skamokawa Fire District. Send your gifts to Wahkiakum County Fire District #3, PO Box 10, Rosburg, WA 98642. I am sending mine as thanks for the work they did on the Stefan fire. God bless you all and keep you safe.

This past weekend, Johnson Park was busy with their Community BBQ-Potluck. I visited in the afternoon to check it out. Many people came and enjoyed all the live music on the stage. Tables were set up in the gym and so much food made it hard to choose what to eat. The old school brought up memories for several older folks who talked about which rooms were their classrooms as kids. Thanks to Denise Blanchard, the other board members and all the volunteers who made it such a success. On Saturday, the FAFF folks opened the Naselle Community Center to a "Vendor Bender" that also was a success with many vendors and lots of customers.

As well as Rick Nelson, we lost several from our area in the past weeks. An addition to the events calendar is the funeral on Saturday, June 17 for Frances Marie (Francy) Pentilla at the Naselle Lutheran Church at 1 pm with a reception afterward at the Church. She died May 24 at home with her family at 96 years old. Brad Warra died on April 22, the same day as Joe Barnes, the husband of Anita Raistakka. Jon Pakanen died May 8, at 77 years old. He was the great grandson of Finnish settlers, Jacob and Katariina Pakanen.

On the other end of the circle of life, graduation will be Sunday, June 10 at 4 pm. Parties and gatherings will happen afterward, and the pride will be rampant. This class is highly gifted and was very productive in academics as well as sports. It will be fun to see all the scholarships these students receive for colleges all up and down the West Coast. Many received sports scholarships and of course, the boys baseball team now holds the state 1B championship trophy for another year. Both the middle school and the high school had a high number of members of the Honor Society, reflecting their hard work, too. And to keep honoring all our kids, I must not leave out Shellie Burkhalter's dancing students who had their recital last weekend, too. How much fun is that? A community is easily judged by its children and youth, so we have multiple reasons for pride and hope in all our kids. Congratulations to all.

Please remember that the Grays River Grange will have their first Farmers Market on June 10 at their Grange Hall on SR 4 west of Duffy's Pub. It will be on the second Saturday of each month through October from 10-1. It's a great opportunity for us locals to eat local food!

Calendar of Events:

Mondays: First Monday of the month, Naselle Library has a men's coffee gathering 10-11:30.

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors morning quilters and knitters in afternoons.

Third Tuesday: Naselle Grays River School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

Second Wednesday of the month: Grays River Habitat Enhancement District meets at the Grays River Fire Hall across from Duffy's Pub at 5:15.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

Wednesdays at 2 at the Timberland Naselle Library: July 5, Amazing Magic Show; July 12: Reptile Man; July 19: Brownsmead Flats; July 26: East of Sun and West of Moon with Pegasus Puppets; August 2: Ice Cream Party and Great Egg Hunt.

First Thursday of the month: Grays River/Rosburg Gardening group meets at Johnson Park at 6.

First Thursday of the month: Caregiver Support Group at Naselle Library with OBH staff 1-2.

Thursdays: CAP Senior Lunches are located at Rosburg Hall at noon.

Second Friday of month: Women's Coffee Group at Naselle Library at 10.

Second Saturdays of the month: Grays River Grange Farmers Market 10-1.

June 21: Wednesday Senior Lunch at Rosburg Hall at noon.

June 9: Red Cross Blood Drive at Johnson Park 10-3. "Walk-ins welcome. Please give, there is an urgent need!"

June 10: High School Graduation at 4.

June 10: First Grays River Grange Farmers Market at Grays River Grange, then second Saturdays of the month from 10-1.

June 14: Celebrate Julia Butler Hansen day from 1-3 in Cathlamet.

June 24: FAFF Salmon Dinner 5-7 and Concert 6-8 at Rosburg Hall: $20 Music by Emily Rudolph and Sunnyside. Tickets at

July 29: Nordic Music Concert at Chinook School at 5 with kantele and harp.

August 19: Loggers Reunion with BBQ and beer from 2-5.

Phrase of the Week: "Start with hope." – Michael Jordan.


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