Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Archive for the ‘Pacific County’ Category

Congressman Brian Baird’s Successfully Civil Town Hall Meeting in Ilwaco – Health Care Reform

Posted by pallix on September 2, 2009

Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform.  Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.

What was the process? 

I can’t speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I’ve read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog).  I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night.  Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.  

The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird’s responses without interruption or interference.  Which is precisely what I wanted – information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.

We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive ‘protesters’ with their home-made cardboard signs.  They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium.   We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction). 

We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random.  Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats.  Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.

Questions came from both parties.  I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making.  The Congressman’s opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.

In Congressman Baird’s Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions.  Last night’s Town Hall was no exception.  He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him.  He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.

It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone.  But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird’s informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.

Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird’s telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress.  Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it’s warts and flaws rather than to vote against it.  I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come.  Whereas to vote against it because of it’s imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care ‘system’. 

As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don’t.

On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night.  The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone.  She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to  the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide.  He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I’m not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical.  He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school – a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home.  She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions. 

She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings.  She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer.  In my opinion, it goes to show the ‘slant’  of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird’s part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.   

Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office.  She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down.  There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium. 

Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today.  Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election.  Health Care Reform is the issue on many people’s mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.

My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform – less the noise of disruptive interference.  Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting. 

Posted in 3rd Congressional District, Health Care Reform, Pacific County, Town Hall Meeting, U.S. Representative Brian Baird | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Win This Business – Cool Cow Coffee Company in Naselle, WA

Posted by pallix on April 24, 2009

Came across this information this morning from another blogger.  An ad she found at Facebook and at YouTube.    I wasn’t able to find what she found at the source on Facebook, so it is copy and paste with a shout- out to her blog

In Naselle, Washington, just down the road from us, another local business person is having to close up shop.  The why details are included in her offer (below) to win her business, and have it relocated to within 500 miles. 

The Cool Cow Coffee Company

             The Cool Cow Coffee Company

You Could Win This Business!!

Enter by May 31st 2009

Host: Natalie Morgan – Owner – The Cool Cow Coffee Company

Type: OtherRetail

Network: Global

Start Time: Friday, March 19, 2010 at 3:55am

End Time: Monday, May 31, 2010 at 6:55am

Location: Naselle, WA

Street: SR4 & SR401

City/Town: Naselle, WA

Email: nmorgan@wwest.net

Description

Business Owner
Offers Hope to One Lucky Entrepreneur
And It Could Be You!
Pacific County, Washington

Natalie Morgan, owner of The Cool Cow Coffee Company in Naselle, closed its doors for good, after the town’s most recent disaster. Ms. Morgan had owned the drive thru espresso and deli for eighteen months when she witnessed the rising water from the Naselle River engulf the entire neighborhood before encompassing her business. Now she is hoping to give the opportunity of ownership in a new location to one hopeful entrepreneur and create even more jobs in the process.

Natalie had spent almost two months on the remodel after purchasing the business from its previous owner in June of 2007. She painted it apple red, added cedar shingles to the base of both of the buildings and adorned the structures with all sorts of country details including a life size Holstein cow that had been shipped in from Texas and proudly displayed on a platform at the front of the building. The cow is such an eye catcher that people would often stop to take pictures of her. Natalie even held a contest to name the cow and then let her employees pick the winning name. She planted flowers and hanging baskets in the summer to make the space even more beautiful and painted the picnic tables outside to match the buildings. No detail was overlooked, from the black and white cow patterned tip cups which read “Cow Tipping Allowed” to the little chocolate cow cookies that were given out with each and every beverage and ice cream treat, it was apparent that the new owner had poured her heart into every detail and it did not go unnoticed.

On the day of the flood the water had already overwhelmed the local fire and rescue building located directly across the parking lot from her espresso stand when the phone call came in from the red cross warning people in the area to evacuate. Natalie and her husband quickly moved as much of the equipment as they could up off of the floor, and then they locked the door and drove out through the rising flood water now just inches from the base of their building.

The Cool Cow Coffee Company had already been struggling in it‘s present location and the weak economic condition of one of the poorest counties in the state was not helping the locals to afford the luxury of one of the treats from the towns best coffee kiosks and delicatessen. In December of 2007 Naselle, Nellie the life-size Holstein cow that is perched high above the drive through eatery withstood the one hundred mile an hour winds that had crumpled the metal roof of the fire department next door, but this December that cow would find herself abandoned due to heavy snow fall and an inaccessible mountain of snow and ice left at the entrance of the business by plows clearing the nearby highways.

By the time a local contractor was finally able to clear the two feet of snow surrounding the coffee stand, it had only been open for five struggling days when the flood waters surrounded the buildings causing a power outage to the storage unit and a complete loss of perishable inventory.

The shop has not been opened since that dreadful day, January 6, 2009. With revenue dwindling, cash flow almost nil, inventory gone, quarterlies and property taxes soon due, Natalie had no choice but to close her shop. She applied for assistance from the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan program, but was denied because of her inability to pay back the loan due to her recent loss of income.

Even before the flood, like so many other communities and businesses in and across the nation, Naselle’s economy has also been hit hard and with the impending threat to close one of the areas main employers, the Naselle Youth Camp, Ms. Morgan feels that there is simply no hope for her shop to prosper in its present location. Buyers in the area are far and few and even if a buyer were to come along and make an offer equivalent to her initial investment, she could not sell it with a clear conscience knowing full well that it will probably flood there again.

It’s become obvious that if this business is to prosper, than it needs to be moved to an area with improved economic demographics, but Natalie and her husband, Pete, have spent the past five years physically building their home in Naselle and they still have a great deal of work to complete before they could relocate, so moving the business and relocating themselves is not an option at present. With so many people out of work, so many layoffs and so many struggling financially right now, she hoped that somehow she would be able to turn this tragedy into a positive experience for someone whom lived in a more prosperous and populated area and maybe even create a few more jobs in the process.

So she logged onto the Washington State Gaming Commission’s website and while reading through the state gaming regulations, she came across something called an essay contest. In this type of contest the prize is awarded to a winner based on a skill not chance and in this case the skill that each person’s entry will be judged on will be a creative writing project where the subject matter is based on a desire as well as a need to become self employed.

Interested persons are asked to write an essay describing why they should be given her coffee shop and are to pay a $25 entry fee with their essay. The entry fee will help Natalie to recover her initial investment and pay for any sales tax due to Washington State, the cost of the structure(s) relocation including relocation permits and fees by the contractor, free consultation on new site selection and location, all of the business’s equipment by way of a U-Haul rental truck, one week of free training in the shop at it’s new location by the shop‘s previous owner, all signage, menus and $2,000.00 cash to aid with the business’s start up costs, plus a new floor and sub floor to be installed at the building(s) new location.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Especially in today‘s difficult economic times. Natalie gets her investment, not to mention her health, back, the state gets a healthy sum of revenue out of the deal, some lucky, possibly even presently unemployed person gets the chance at owning and running their own business and perhaps even creates a few jobs in the process.

Here’s how to enter…

Write an essay explaining your current economic struggles and why you would like to own The Cool Cow Coffee Company.
250 Words Minimum – 500 Words Maximum

Mail it to:
The Cool Cow Coffee Company Essay Contest
Attention: Natalie Morgan
PO Box 502
Naselle, WA 98638

Be sure to include your written essay with your name, address and telephone number printed on the top, include a self addressed stamped envelope and the $25 entry fee. Entries must be postmarked no later than May 31, 2009. We must have at least 2,500 entries in order to award the prize. If we do not receive enough entries by May 31, 2009, your entry fee will be mailed back in the SASE you provide.

If all goes well and we get enough entries to award new ownership, the winner will be notified by phone on June 6, 2009 at 7PM.

Please, due to the high cost of structure relocation we can only relocate this business within five hundred miles of its present location in Naselle, WA. If the business’ new location is to be outside of that five hundred mile radius you will be responsible for paying the difference in relocation costs at the time of signing. The winner must sign title of ownership within 5 days of acceptance of The Cool Cow Coffee Company and will have 30 days from the date of signing to find and prepare a new site for the business to be relocated upon.

A foundation for the main structure of 9‘X18“, all utility hookups, local permits, fees, lease contracts and/or rental agreements are the sole responsibility of the winner. All such arrangements should be made within 30 days of signing the title. The business structure(s) and their contents must be relocated within 30 days of new ownership, or no later than August 15, 2009. The $2,000.00 cash award will be given to the winner on the first day of training. However if financial assistance is needed to aid the new owner with utilities, rent/lease, fees and permits etc., arrangements can be made to draw off of the cash award in the form of checks written directly to these agencies and/or land owners, but not to exceed the total sum of $2,000.00. Training will begin on a date specified by the new owner and will not exceed a 7 day training period in succession.

If you have any questions you may e-mail Natalie at nmorgan@wwest.net. If you would like to see more pictures of The Cool Cow Coffee Company go to You-Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoDrEXR8PQA and view my video.

Posted in Coffee Stand, Naselle, Neighboring communities, neighbors, Pacific County, restaraunts | Leave a Comment »

Lewis and Clark National Heritage Area moves forward…what about Chinook Tribe recognition?

Posted by pallix on April 11, 2009

It’s been on my radar to keep an eye out for the progress being made to have this region declared a National Heritage Area.  My interest is more along the lines of what seems a corresponding and relevant action to recognize the Chinook Tribe as a declared Tribe.  To my way of thinking, the naming of  Lewis and Clark National Heritage area,  requires a recognition of the Chinook people as a federally recognized tribe. 

 

Without the friendship and aid of the Chinook people, Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition may well have not survived once they arrived in this area – the mouth of Columbia River where it flows into the Pacific Ocean.  Legislation has been introduced to give recognition to the Chinook Tribe.  That legislation has not moved along; while simultaneously legislation to declared this area a Lewis and Clark National Heritage area seems to be moving along.  To my way of thinking, these are hand in glove actions, complementing each other, and it seems to me it would be hypocritical to have one without the other.

Link to article at Daily Astorian;   excerpt

Having just returned from a trip overseas, David Szymanski, superintendent at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, is canvassing the North Coast to update communities on the proposed National Heritage Area.

He presented to the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners an update on the proposed Columbia Pacific National Heritage Area Wednesday in the Judge Guy Boyington Building. Heritage areas define a region where communities can use federal funds to benefit local economies.

"This project will not go forward until we’ve heard from local governments and the public," Szymanski said.

The Columbia Pacific heritage area would incorporate portions of Clatsop County and Pacific and Wahkiakum counties in Washington.

"People are probably surprised to learn that the National Park Service often has skepticism about National Heritage Areas," Szymanski said. "Some have not been well thought out."

Szymanski said the most important requirement for a heritage area is finding the right coordinating entity. A lot of heritage areas focus on tourism, rather than broader economic development.

ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia was recently selected for the coordinating entity for this heritage area, in large part because the nonprofit organization focuses on investment and capital building.

Posted in 19th Legislative District, 3rd Congressional District, Chinook Nation, Lewis and Clark National Heritage, Native Americans, Neighboring communities, neighbors, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, recreation, U.S. Representative Brian Baird, wetlands, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Neighbors down the road, Seaview on Long Beach Peninsula

Posted by pallix on December 8, 2008

This must just be our week for meeting lots of new to us neighbors.  It happens on occasion that my google alerts set to Willapa and Pacific County, alert me to a neighbor who is blogging.  Such was the case this morning, and I encountered this blog  seaviewwa – a couple who moved to Seaview and are refurbishing a home there.  She’s been blogging as long as I’ve been blogging.

Where she has devoted her blog to highlighting life in her community, my blogging has shifted focus resulting in 20 different blogs with varying focus themes and  the building of several websites.  I feel like I’ve left too scattered an imprint over the internet.  I’ve begun a bit of the process of trying to whittle it down to fewer blogs, and fewer websites.  Meanwhile though, the social networking communities continue to develop and grow and now I find I am connected to too many of the social networks.  And then there are the multitudes of  ‘news-sharing’ social networks. 

But back to the Seaview neighbor.  I enjoyed reading her blog backwards entry after entry post to the start of her blog. Good representation of the community and nearby neighboring attractions.  I learned fairly quickly in reading her blog that she and I do not share similar political views since her blog tells of her own political activism activities, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying and appreciating her blog.

We are sort of neighbors – here in Pacific County, there are only a few small towns dotting the county – the rest of the county is wilderness, wetlands, trees and I jokingly refer to it sometimes as Weyerhauser’s county ( Weyerhauser owns a lot of the forested tree lands in the county) – so from town to town in Pacific County, we are essentially community  ‘neighbors’.   I love visiting Seaview, the community where she lives,  which is located right next to Long Beach and just a holler down from Ilwaco.  

Not sure that many know about Bay Center, in Pacific County though.  We are still a bit of a hidden treasure here, not so well known.   Lately, we’ve had a fair amount of ‘artist’ types moving here to Bay Center.  At this rate, we may become an artist colony in harmony with the historic Chinook families, another aspect for which Bay Center is known.   (btw, take a look at The Chinook Nation Restoration Act – H.R. 6689 )

Where ever one lives in Pacific County, we do share in common the beauty of this country.   We have heard more than a few times that living in Pacific County is living in  God’s country, or God’s county, or God’s landscape, or God’s valium, or other takes on that theme.   Can’t say as I disagree, although having been raised as a child what is affectionately known as a ‘military brat’ which meant moving around every couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate most landscapes as having their own unique beauty. 

Posted in Long Beach peninsula, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Seaview | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Wind Power Plans Coming to Pacific County? Will the communities accept new eco-industry?

Posted by pallix on November 21, 2008

article at Daily Astorian

If a project isn’t sold to the community it will struggle to gain public acceptance

There are suddenly plans for a lot of wind-based power generation blowing into Washington’s Pacific County, possibly a hint at what may occur in many of the coastal counties of Oregon and Washington in the years ahead.

A "joint operating agency" of Washington state electricity providers is planning an 82-megawatt wind turbine farm in the Naselle area, with completion of up to 45 wind turbines eyed in 2011. A smaller, very interesting four-turbine project is getting started in northern Pacific County and southern Grays Harbor County. In total, all this may be enough to power some 40,000 average-sized homes.

The Pacific Northwest and the nation need more of the relatively clean energy that wind farms provide. Pacific County can use the construction and operation jobs that Radar Ridge would generate along with electricity. A similar-sized plant in Calgary cost about $140 million Canadian in 2006, perhaps not far different than what the local project will cost in U.S. dollars a year or two from now. That’s a mighty big and mostly welcome investment.

At the same time, it’s important to note that phalanxes of giant wind turbines have not met with universal acclaim everywhere they’ve been constructed. Residents often complain about the impacts they have on landscape, bird migration, traffic, hunting access and other rural values.

Quoting Canada’s National Post, "Activists now decry windmills with a fervour once reserved for nuclear plants. To some, it seems strange to waste time railing against a power source that does not generate greenhouse gases, is relatively quick to construct and can serve as a powerful symbol of a community’s environmental convictions. They say critics are only displaying a modern strain of ‘Not In My Backyard’ syndrome.

"Opponents, however, say they are driven by concerns about windmills’ effects on everything from bird migration to health to property values to earthworms.

Posted in Eco-industry, Pacific County, Wind Turbines | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Congressman Brian Baird Town Hall Meeting, South Bend, WA, July 1, 2008

Posted by pallix on July 3, 2008

On Monday, June 30, I received an email from Congressman Baird’s office advising he was holding a Town Hall meeting in South Bend, on July 1 (the next day).  He holds Town Hall meetings annually in towns and cities across his district. I wanted to attend, for a couple of reasons. 

Some background:  Last summer, Congressman Brian Baird held a Town Hall Meeting in Raymond, and this was at the time that Congressman Brian Baird who had voted against the invasion into Iraq, decided that he wanted to come out approving President Bush’s ‘Surge’ of U.S. troops in Iraq.  Congressman Baird had made a trip to Iraq last year, to assess the situation of war in Iraq and had conversation with General Petreaus, coming home to believe in the value of proceeding with a Surge in U.S. troops deployed to Iraq.  The deaths of U.S. troops was at an increasing frequency, and violence was rampant in Iraq, IED’s and suicide bombings – killing civilians, Iraqi police and soldiers, and U.S. troops.   Last year, Congressman Baird made national news in his support for President Bush’s call for a ‘Surge’ (of troops) in Iraq. 

My husband and I, being a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans (both from Washington state),  attended that Town Hall meeting in Raymond, WA last summer primarily to challenge the Congressman on his support of the ‘Surge’ and it was a contentious exchange with the Congressman.  Please refer to the article ‘Baird faces his constituents in Raymond’ in Daily World last September.   

The article features photo of my husband, Arthur Ruger, and the pointed question he put to  Congressman Baird man to man -“was the war worth our son’s blood.”, to which the Congressman responded yes, he believed it was.  That was a slap in the face to us, as we do not believe, have never believed this war was worth any son or daughter’s blood.  It was important to me then, last night, a year later at the Town Hall Meeting in South Bend, for me to connect to the Congressman based on our exchange from last year.  That same year, in December 2007 our son-in-law deployed to Iraq in his second 15 month stop-loss, extended deployment, where he is now.

I wanted very much to attend Congressman Baird’s Town Hall meeting last night, even though I seem to have run out of things to say about the wrongness of the Iraq war. We attended, and after Congressman Baird gave his presentations, he opened it to audience questions. I listened through all of the questions, intending to ask my two questions at the end of the proceedings.

Issues discussed during course of the meeting:

Gas Prices; Astonishingly – well to us anyway – when the question of gas prices came up, as we knew it would, and someone asked about off shore oil drilling and leased land not being used for oil drilling, Brian Baird started to discuss it and then asked the audience for a show of hands as to who was in favor of off-shore oil drilling. And almost all the hands went up. Then Brian Baird asked who was not in favor, with my husband, mine and probably 3-4 other hands going up.

I was stunned. And in somewhat confused language pointed out peak oil and global warming and then gave up, saying never mind. I could not believe what I had just witnesssed. An expectation that enough information is out there now about the growing oil crisis, that I had thought more would be appreciative of our need to change our lifestyle to become less oil dependent and the urgency in finding alternative energy lifestyles.

Acidic Ocean; Congressman Baird acknowledged Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and then explained to the audience about acidic ocean, disappearing coral reefs, and how as a coastal community we should be concerned about our oceans. Then he answered other questions, and while I was listening attentively, I had already recognized that once again, our views on oil dependency (my husband and mine) were indeed the minority opinions amongst the community we live in. We’ve encountered this before along the course of our speaking out against the Iraq war as military family with loved ones deployed in Iraq.

Funding Iraq War vs Domestic Needs; Later when a young reporter from the Aberdeen Daily World newspaper tossed out a comment about trading off the $$ being spent in Iraq against using for homeland needs, Congressman Baird explained that we were not using current funds, rather creating a deficit that would be paid in our children and grandchildren’s time. As Congressman Baird explained it that were we to withdraw the troops now (which he then went on to explain was a time consuming process and needed to be done responsibly so as not to leave troops exposed and at-risk), there would still be no funds available to be used for domestic concerns. Rather that it would reduce somewhat the future deficit which would be paid for by our children and grandchildren.

Copper Roof Replacement at Pacific County Courthouse; would cost considerably more than was originally estimated with rising costs of copper.  Inquiry if the Congressman could get the county some $$ help to replace the copper roof.  It being a historic building, must comply with regulations pertinent to historic buildings.  (Read more about it at this Daily World article, ‘Costs of New Roof Skyrockets’)
The discussions flowed covering various issues:
Historic Post Office in Raymond lacking accessibility for disabled; seems because the Raymond Post Office is considered a historic building, and it lacks accessibility for disabled, changes cannot be made to the building to be more facilitative without regard to the regulations governing historic buildings.  At this time, disabled citizens (wheelchair bound, or unable to manage the stairs) are unable to make access to the Post Office.   (Read more about this at Daily World article, ‘Baird Hears of Acces Woes’)

Illegal Immigration:  Someone asked the Congressman about illegal immigrants, and he responded by breaking it out into three categories;  a) illegal immigrants who are hardened criminals should be sent back to countries of origins, but how to do that – ask the country ‘hey will you take back so and so who is a hardened criminal?’;  b) illegal immigrants who are hired by employers knowingly as illegal and paid under the table should not be permitted to remain; and c) illegal immigrants who are hired by employers who have verified social security number and background and taxes are being paid out of wages – those illegal immigrants have likely been here number of years, working all of those years and some provision should be provided that permits them to remain on worker permit.  Congressman cited responsive employers like Coast Seafood who work to comply with current laws and have large number of immigrants employed.

Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Area Study:  Included was a concern expressed by owner of Rose Ranch regarding our area (Willapa region) becoming a National Heritage region. She identified probably 10 coalitions that have concerns should we become designated a National Heritage site. I have tried to blog some about this at Washblog, but am too underinformed to articulate the concerns well.
As the meeting wrapped up, I was at last able to ask my two questions;

1) Senator Cantwell obtaining $2 million towards Doppler Radar for SW Washington due to the December 07 storm (read more here) , and what was his position on that? He said fully in support. Then I pointed out that while the $2 million was great it was going to take a lot more $$ to build the Doppler, and where would that money come from, would he work towards that end. He said something about $2 million being a big drop, and likely the rest of the money might have to come from the State.

2) Last year, in your Town Hall, we talked with you about our son in Iraq because you had just gone national in your approval of the Surge, and I guess I wanted to have you inquire how he is doing. Before I could finish the sentence though, it seemed that Congressman Baird did remember and did ask how our son was doing. Which left me with a weak follow up, that really that was all I wanted was for him to inquire after our son’s well being. Then the Congressman went on to explain why he took the position that he did last year on the Surge and how it seemed to be working, violence was down. I actually did find myself saying that conditions did seem to be more favorable to our son’s (actually it is son-in-law) deployment this time, or at least I’m relieved that if he has to be there, it isn’t the year before, and that I hope he gets through this deployment and safely home.

After the meeting concluded, Congressman Baird, did come over to where I was sitting, and had some private words with me. He wanted me to know that he cares, that what I was doing as a mother was natural and he was glad that I was doing what I was doing; that what my son was doing was patriotic and what I was doing was patriotic; that when he is in DC the  groups that hold vigils in DC showing the 4,000 killed, he looks at each and every face and feels it deeply.

Congressman Brian Baird talking to Lietta, Town Hall Meeting in South Bend, July 1, 2008Congressman Brian Baird talking with Lietta Ruger, Town Hall Meeting, South Bend, July 1, 2008

(photo courtesy of Steven Friederich of the Daily World) 


For the most part the words he chose to use with me were agreeable, but I didn’t like the words about patriotic – and I wasn’t altogether sure he understood that I am among those military families opposed to the war in Iraq and have been speaking out against the war in Iraq.  Personally, I wouldn’t say the ‘Surge’ (of troops) in Iraq is working, that would really be beyond my ability to discern.  But it does seem the violence is down, and whatever strategies are being used, our son-in-law who is deployed in Iraq now in his second ‘stop-loss’, extended 15 month deployment seems to be less at risk than had he been deployed in Iraq a year earlier.

As Congressman Baird was shaking my hand and done with his part of the conversation, and before I could correct any misperceptions, others were coming around, and reaching out to me, whereby I offered my smiles of appreciation. Right about then someone else said to us, wait, wait, I didn’t get the picture, and then snap went the camera. I remember saying is this a photo op and we shouldn’t be smiling then. It was a confusing moment, and then there were 2 reporters wanting me to spell my name, wanting my son (son-in-law, I corrected) name which I never give, and the moment to correct any misperceptions that the Congressman might have about my position had passed.

More details of this Town Hall Meeting reported in the Aberdeen Daily World articles here and here.

Posted in climate warming, coastal storm 2007, December 2007 Storm, Doppler Radar, Pacific County, Pacific County Commissioner, Pacific ocean, South Bend, spartina, storm 2007, Town Hall Meeting, U.S. Representative Brian Baird, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bus Fare for Pacific Transit not planning price hike

Posted by pallix on June 24, 2008

For rural transit agencies, fare hikes aren’t as useful. Pacific Transit in southwest Washington has seen ridership increase, but the system is small and fares are low — from 35 to 50 cents.

 

 

“A certain percentage of the public depends on public transit — seniors, disabled people, people who can’t afford a car,” Director Tim Russ says. The agency has always wanted to “keep fares as reasonable as possible,” he says, “and we intend to keep it that way.”

   excerpt is from Crosscut  Seattle article ‘Get on The Bus, Gus, unless it costs too much’

This is good news to hear, as with the climbing gas prices, more people in more places will look to public transit.  Here in Pacific County, we still have an operating bus sytem.  No trains though, and the train tracks were taken up.  I wonder if the future hold relaying some of those defunct train tracks?   

Since this area used to operate as a bay community, use of boating for transportation, I do also wonder that should gas prices, use of vehicles become too prohibitive, if a return to waterway transportation might come back into vogue here.

 

Posted in Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Transportation | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senator Cantwell gets $2 Million approved for Doppler Radar in SW Washington

Posted by pallix on June 24, 2008

 A U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee has approved a $2 million request from Sen. Maria Cantwell for a Doppler radar and other equipment needed to track weather patterns along Washington state’s coastline. reads the first paragraph in an article at Daily World, an Aberdeen, WA newspaper.    Good news indeed! Especially to those of us in Southwest Washington counties who experienced the December 2007 storm (hurricane strength storm!) that flooded out Lewis County and had four counties in SW Washington declared FEMA disaster areas –  my county, Pacific, and neighboring counties, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Thurston.

A deserved shout out of thanks to Senator Cantwell.

read more below the fold

 

  The storm hit us in December and was unrelenting for almost 3 days.  For many, and for us in Pacific County, we found ourselves cut off and isolated from the rest of the state for several days without power, land line phones, cell phones, gasoline, or access to much in the way of help or services.  Which isn’t to say that the Emergency Management Teams were not responsive; rather that the isolation was an outcome for several days.  You can read more about it at the Washblog story here  and here of course, here at this blog.  In March 2008, Senator Cantwell held a meeting of the minds roundtable in Aberdeen, WA to discuss the whys and wherefores of the storm.  What came out of that meeting was the lack of adequate Doppler Radar coverage to read the weather conditions in Southwest Washington.  

The Olympic Mountain Range and Willapa Hills (where we live) provide an interference that the current Doppler Radar located in Scappoose, Oregon is unable to read.  The only other Doppler Radar to cover reading weather conditions in Washington is located far north at Camano Island. Oh, and KING 5 TV news has it’s own Doppler Radar that it purchased but it cannot read the weather conditions in SW Washington due to the natural terrain interference (Olympics and Willapa Hills).  

  Meanwhile California coastline, which is far less storm-laden than our own Washington coastline, has mulitiple Doppler Radars to read that coastline weather.  The inconsistency becomes more conspicuous as was evident in the powerful presentation given by University of Washington Professor Clifford Mass (see his website here) at the Senator Cantwell roundtable meeting held in March.  

  Arthur and I attended that meeting in March, as bloggers at Washblog, as residents of Pacific County directly affected by the storm, and as general public.  We were and are certainly not experts. I took notes, even had a brief interview shown by KIRO 7 TV, but I didn’t get around to actually writing up the story at Washblog.  I did start to write it up here at WB, and can’t recall for what reason I didn’t conclude posting the actual story as I had the notes. Now I wish I had posted the story of the meeting.  

 So in the absence of having written up the story, here are excerpts from the article ‘Doppler radar station funding clears one hurdle’ at Daily World this weekend;

 

The request was spurred on by the savage December storm and intense lobbying by concerned residents as well as local community leaders. The approval is just the first step in what is usually a long process to get federal funding for practically anything these days, although the senator hopes the funding will make the final cut in a 2009 appropriations bill.The Coastal Radar was one of the top priorities given to Sen. Patty Murray during a community forum immediately after the December storm. A few months later, Cantwell conducted her own forum on the issue at Grays Harbor College and residents again were given a chance to make their case, which was spearheaded by Professor Clifford Mass, of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

 

Cantwell’s Press Office said the funding was approved on Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, Justice and Related Agencies.”Despite having the worst non-tropical storms in the nation, Washington state has the worst weather radar coverage of any U.S. coastline,” Cantwell said in the press release announcing the news.

“Our nation’s weather radar system has a gaping blind spot right over the outer coast of our state, placing our communities at risk and hindering the everyday lives of our citizens,” she added. “Just last fall, Washington state experienced storms with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains that hit right in the heart of this blind spot. The funding passed today by the Senate Appropriations Committee is a major step toward solving this gap and better protecting Washington neighborhoods, businesses, and communities.”

 

Cantwell’s Office didn’t say where the Doppler radar would be located, but the likely spot would be in the Westport-Grayland area, which would be able to catch weather patterns coming not only off the coast but in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the mouth of the Columbia River.The fishing industry, in particular, has been lobbying hard for the doppler system for years now, citing the dangers of fishing off the coast without a clear warning of storms that could be coming on to the horizon.

Cantwell’s Office noted that a single radar on the central Washington coast could view storms over a hundred miles offshore.

As an aside, I know my neighbors up in Mason County and Kitsap County on the Peninsula also  felt the effects of that storm in December.  I think with the sizeable, and unexpected flooding out in Lewis County which cut off I-5, some of our neighbors storm woes did not get much media coverage.  

On an upside to this storm, I read that some of the flooded out farmers in Lewis County are able to make a showing this season at the Olympia Public Market.  Why not pay a visit and make a special effort to purchase produce from the Lewis County vendors?

By Lietta Ruger

Posted in climate warming, coastal storm 2007, Doppler Radar, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, pacific northwest storm 2007, storm 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

After the Storm of the century in Pacific County

Posted by pallix on January 2, 2008

While it appears I last posted an entry Dec 7, 2007, that is not quite accurate, as I began trying to chronicle the media reports as they unfolded, by collecting them and creating a special page for the articles here  – titled Storm of the Century, Pacific Northwest, December 2007.    The second week after the storm, on December 11, Pacific County held a debriefing meeting calling together all of the emergency, disaster responders across the entire county.  It was a public meeting, and I saw an announcement of the meeting in Oregon newspaper, which I then tracked down to find Pacific County Commissioners website, made contact by email indicating if it was public meeting, I wanted to attend and also input.  I was advised it was public meeting, yes, but intended for debriefing and time wouldn’t permit public comments.   I invited my mother to attend with me, and I think the two of us were the only ‘public’ to attend the meeting.

I took notes, and continued adding comments to the original story of my report of our experience that was already at Washblog.  For more detail of how those weeks between the storm and now unfolded, visit and read the comments at Washblog.   My husband, Arthur, during this time was fully engaged as bi-lingual case manager with DSHS and was deployed to Grays Harbor CSO to help with delivery of emergency/disaster related DSHS programs.  Grays Harbor and Lewis Counties were declared FEMA disaster counties, and that specification permitted and authorized the DSHS programs . He was putting in 14 hour days for an entire week, and the applications numbered in the thousands, a thousand and more a day.  The following week Pacific, Mason and Thurston counties were declared FEMA disaster counties.  He was putting in the hours at his own CSO in South Bend in Pacific County.

During this time period, I had taken my vehicle into Steve’s Auto for repairs, and repairs were clearly needed, but he had to order parts which were delayed in arriving due in part to after the storm clean up  delaying normal operations.  We were without vehicle for almost three weeks, until after Christmas, so for my mother and I, it meant staying pretty close to home most of that time and cabin fever set in from time to time.

I had wanted and tried to share  at the Dec 11 county debriefing meeting, something of the Bay Center experience of the storm and Sheriff Didion seemed to want to discourage me from sharing, citing that there would be public community meetings in January 2008. Not much deterred, I wanted to make sure some report from Bay Center became part of the county record, as to date I had heard nothing from or about Bay Center, and wondered why volunteer fire department, or Bay Center Community Association or someone from Bay Center was not representing on this county debriefing meeting.

I actually don’t know if anyone from Bay Center was invited to participate in the debriefing meeting and perhaps declined to come, or if representation of Bay Center community is met via South Bend representation, ie, South Bend Fire Department, South Bend Police.   But if that is the case, it seemed odd to me that the small community of Nemah was represented at this meeting, and reported their experience as much like what we experienced in Bay Center – isolation and no information and a seeming failure of communications across the county.  So I insisted on making a bit of a report as a member of Bay Center Community Association, to report on actions taken by the Bay Center Store.

Earlier in the meeting, there had been a go around of introductions, and I had introduced as resident of Bay Center, public, and contributing editor of Washblog.  Perhaps Sheriff Didion saw me more as contributing editor of Washblog, and less as active resident concerned about the disaster response to and in my community of Bay Center.  After about three attempts to explain I wanted to report on the response in Bay Center, Sheriff Didion permitted me to speak, whereby I gave a very brief report of the actions of the staff of the Bay Center Store in the absence of any other contact or communication in, to or out of Bay Center.  It seemed the representatives in the meeting listened politely, but I felt a bit unrecognized and that perhaps I had not made my intentions clear – wanting something of representation from the community of Bay Center at this meeting.   Later, when the meeting was concluded, Sheriff Didion did seek me out and apologize saying he meant no disrespect.  I said I understood what he was trying to facilitate and the intention of the meeting, and having years of experiences with business meetings, know he was keeping meeting on track and did a good job.

So, I am still puzzled, then, about the coming together of my community in Bay Center to meet to discuss things of this nature.  Actually the Bay Center Community Association did have it’s monthly meeting the week after the county debrief meeting, and I did not attend – other things came up.  I did query in email  to the secretary who took notes of that meeting, inquiring if there had been discussion of the storm, community preparedness, county response.  She said that had not been part of the discussion, and more the meeting settled an administrative issue about a financial matter as to who was to be signed onto the Association’s check book.   I responded  that I was disappointed the storm had not come up for discussion.

On another day,  when my mother and I went out to walk the dogs and check the mail, I was having discussion about the storm, the community response, the county response and talking about the county debriefing meeting I had attended.  Several from the town coming in to check their mail entered into discussion, and we had a bit of an informal town hall type meeting right there in the post office.    Later at the town Christmas pageant, I had another opportunity to talk to some from the community about the storm, the response, including the wife of one of our own who is National Guard and participated as National Guard deployed to help in Pacific County.

About 2 weeks after the storm, I wrote letters to the editor that I sent to Pacific County PressChinook Observer and Willapa Harbor Herald to compliment the staff of the Bay Center Store, the community, the work of all who participated across the county in responded, while also indicating Pacific County could do better.  The letters were long, and I had thought they would not be published, or if published, would be edited for length.  Surprisingly both Pacific County Press and Chinook Observer printed my letter in it’s entirety; Pacific County Press making it an article, Chinook Observer placing it in center of the many other letters to the editor they received commenting on the storm and response of Pacific County.   (text here of my published letter to editor).    Willapa Harbor Herald has yet to publish anything I or Arthur have submitted to their paper as letter to editor.  Perhaps we are not following their particular established protocol, as we have sent ltte by email, and perhaps they don’t take email ltte.  Something for me to check into another time, perhaps I will phone them to learn why they don’t publish the ltte he and I have sent.

Wanting to ensure that when Pacific County was declared a FEMA disaster county, that the community of Bay Center understood they could then be eligible for the DSHS disaster related food program, Arthur drafted a flyer that I could post at the Bay Center Post Office.  I sent a copy of his flyer as well to Stephanie Fritts,  PCEMA (Pacific County Emergency Management) and I’m glad I did as it became one of the notifications that were shared around the county (including in the Willapa Harbor Herald – h0w ironic).

We finished up the holidays with pleasantries the Saturday before Christmas.  Arthur’s daughter payed us an overnight visit and we took her and my mother to Astoria, Oregon for a high tea; a Christmas Tea at the Windsor House of Tea.  It was charming.    There had been no opportunity to do any kind of Christmas shopping at all, and this was our one day to do a bit of gift buying, so we did a hurried shopping, and later that evening exchanged gifts.   On Christmas Eve, we attended Christmas Eve worship services at our church, St John’s Episcopal in South Bend, WA.   It wasn’t until Friday of Christmas week that I got my vehicle back, and by then it was time to take my mother back to her home in Tacoma.

A most different and unusual Christmas holiday, but very much neighbors helping neighbors and my husband had the opportunity to be a bit of Father Christmas in a real kind of way to people who lost so much due to the storm, and at the very least he was able to provide comfort, humor  helping people to chuckle a bit, even in the face of losing so much as he approved application after application.   It wasn’t he alone, and there were DSHS case managers, supervisors, administrators, directors from across the state putting in the long hours over the Christmas holiday season to help people in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Mason and Thurston counties during the disaster of the storm of December 1 -2, 2007.

I am trying to find ways to put away the affect the storm has had on me emotionally, as life move on, and we transition from the end of last year into the new year.  It isn’t so easy to let it go, and while I know we were not nearly so adversely affected as many were, somehow,   I have experienced this storm as an intrusion into reality as not only a personal wake up call for how we will need to adjust our lives while we remain living in this community and county, but also it needs to be a wake up call of bigger proportion than just us, just this community, just this county, just this state.    We experienced the best of neighbors helping neighbors and some of the hallmarks of rugged individualism that comprise the people in this region, but we also experienced, or I experienced what I perceive as a glimpse into the future as global warming marches onward.  No matter the cause, no matter the diversity of reactions, it sure seems to me that global warming won’t be waiting for humans to make up their minds if it is a real phenomenon or not, but that nature will respond to whatever is and has been affecting it irrespective of whether humans want to react to it proactively or not.

I remember once when I was a supervisor of a team of case managers, a training exercise I attended, an exercise in which we were all to pretend we were in a submarine which was unable to surface and the oxygen was limited.  Our instructions were that we had xx amount of oxygen, and our job was to survive xx number of minutes on the air we had without verbally speaking to one another.   I was stunned that the participants in this exercise were following the instructions and were not verbalizing, but motioning by charades how to share the oxygen.  I deliberately broke with the rules, and spoke aloud, saying this is ridiculous, we are about to run out of air, and will drown in this submarine, and we need to talk to make a plan quickly, and yet we are ‘following instructions’ to not talk aloud?!  We are about to die and need to work together to avoid that outcome.   Unfortunately for me and the participants I was not convincing, or persuasive,  so the miming and pantomine and charade acting continued, and when time was called for the exercise, sure enough, our group was dead – had died.

The lesson I took from that is that while I may well have been ‘right’ in this instance, but without stronger skills of persuasion, I was unable to convince my group of my viewpoint, mission, and purpose, so I perished with the group.  The actions of the team, in this instance, put me in more peril than trusting my own instincts, yet I needed the team to avoid perishing.  In some ways, it feels like that exercise was a bit of the reality we experienced here in Pacific County this past month – the month of the storm of the century.

Posted in Bay Center, Bay Center Grocery Store, Bay Center proper, Chinook Observer, climate warming, coastal storm 2007, Pacific County, Pacific County Commissioner, Pacific County Commissioners, Pacific County Press, storm 2007, storm of the decade, Willapa Harbor Herald | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Survived hurricane-force winds of 119 mph, infrastructure collapse Pacific County, Washington coast, December 2007 Pacific Northwest storm

Posted by pallix on December 7, 2007

More on page on this website (see tabs above) dedicated to ‘Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007′

Today is Friday, Dec 7, 2007 and we just got power back yesterday, Thursday, Dec 6, 2007, after being without power, communications, access in or out of the county since the storm hit last Sunday, Dec 2, 2007. It was what it was advertised by the Chinook Observer to be – the storm of the decade and it affected most all of Washington coastline with grave flooding inland and great parts of Oregon coastline. Most hard hit with massive flooding was Lewis County and Grays Harbor County, our neighboring counties. Pacific County was hit hard too, enough to collapse a seemingly fragile infrastructure; no power, no land phones, no cell phones, no 911, no access in or out of the county and even emergency communications out of county to notify status were limited and curtailed. It was an eerie feeling to be so completely cut off.

Later as the week wore on the reality of not being able to access our own bank account or get gas as gas pumps need electricity to work, and word of possible contamination of water in South Bend/Raymond, the fragility of the infrastructure not only in our own county but any county became evident to me. We must learn to rely on individual preparedness, and preparedness and help from among our community to see us through those early days of catastrophic weather events. And given what we experienced with this storm, I’m inclined to believe that with climate warming, we will see other such storms, perhaps not at that magnitude, but enough to cause breaks in the infrastructure here in Pacific County and in neighboring counties.

Sorting out how to tell parts of the story, and rather than one big fat blog entry, I will want to break it down some. For the days without power and communications (phones, cell phones, 911, emergency access), I started a journal. Now that we have power back and I am seeing via internet news all the devastation around us in our own county and neighboring counties, I recognize we are among the very fortunate.

Providing the link to the Washblog interview Noemie did with me when she phoned me yesterday to check up on us where she gives an account of what I shared with her.

Report from Lietta Ruger: Storm Causes Complete Infrastructure Collapse in Pacific Co.

I just spoke with Lietta Ruger, one of Washblog’s editors, and she asked me to post a little summary of our conversation. She plans to post something more in-depth later.

She and Arthur Ruger live in the Willapa Bay community in Bay Center. There is no locally owned broadcast media in the area, and so they rely primarily on King 5 TV for their storm warnings. KIRO and KOMO generally don’t provide coverage on their area. She said that no warnings came through mainstream media on the severe impacts that their community was expected to face from the impending storm last weekend. It was only because they happen to subscribe to what she describes as a tiny newspaper, a weekly called The Chinook Observer, that she learned her community was facing perhaps “the storm of the decade.”

Having received this one warning, she and Arthur brought out their candles and blankets and cooked up the food in their refrigerator and battened down the hatches – just in case. The storm hit on Sunday and the three of them – including Lietta’s mother – stayed indoors for two days as winds up to 119 miles an hour raged outside. There was no electricity, no phone service, no cellphone service. After the storm subsided, the roads were so impassible in every direction, and the power outage and the lack of emergency service so complete — that as far as people in her community knew, they might have separated from the rest of the United States and floated off into the Pacific Ocean.

It wasn’t until yesterday that a local store selling crank radios opened and she and Arthur were able to tune into coverage from Astoria, Oregon to find out the extent of the damage to the rest of Washington state.

Even then, most of the stores remained locked, the social services office, where emergency help is usually offered, remained closed and dark. The gas pumps, which run on electricity, don’t work. People who have medical emergencies are out of luck. And at least one woman did die, when her house caught on fire from the candles she was using to provide light.

There was no safe way to travel by water, either, because the water was moving too fast and there were too many other dangers, low tree branches, objects, etc. Even the county’s weather monitoring equipment failed. We know that winds reached 119 mph in Bay Center and 120 mph in Astoria, she said, because private citizens had equipment that withstood the wind, while the wind broke the county’s equipment.

The problem wasn’t with community members. People helped each other quite a bit. In fact, the owner of the Bay Center grocery store, a woman named Lori, drove from Long Beach through all the hazards to Bay Center and fired up the generator and stove and cooked soups and made sandwiches to serve the people in that community. And her husband and son did that in the other grocery stores owned by the family in other nearby communities. But now that the electricity has come back on, and she’s learned that the rest of the world is still here — though Grays Harbon and Lewis Counties appear to have suffered even more — now she’s feeling pretty upset.

This is a warning, she said, that we need to get our act together on emergency preparedness. We are experiencing the effects of climate change and we can expect more. This kind of storm is not on the usual scale. It’s a clear signal, as well, that we need some major changes in how we do media. Pacific County needs its own broadcast media. We talked for awhile about testimony at the recent FCC hearing in Seattle that local communities are endangered by the centralization of broadcast media. That is absolutely correct, she said. Now that she has a little time to think, it’s hitting her, the extent of this collapse of infrastructure: the lack of emergency preparedness and media coverage and the blackout on all services during the storm or for the 2 days afterwards. “This complete and utter failure, she said, “is unacceptable.

(read more at the Washblog story)

A few photos below taken by my mother of Bay Center in Pacific County, after the 2 days

of hurricane-force winds. Click on photos to see larger view.

Downed tree on Bay Center Road

Downed treee on Bay Center Road, Bay Center, WA in Pacific County, WA

Several downed trees at Bay Center residence

Several downed trees at Bay Center residence, Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

Tree down on power line Bay Center Road

Tree down on power line Bay Center Road,Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

Blow down trees in the county park at tip of Bay Center

Blow down trees in the county park at tip of Bay Center, WA in Pacific County,WA

More on page on this website (see tabs above) dedicated to ‘Storm of the Decade, Pacific Northwest, December 2007’


Posted in Bay Center, Bay Center Grocery Store, climate warming, coastal storm 2007, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Pacific County Commissioner, pacific northwest storm 2007, Pacific ocean, South Bend, storm 2007, storm of the decade, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The neighbor who knows a thing or two about a thing or two

Posted by pallix on November 21, 2007

My neighbor, a generational oyster farmer, has taken a shine to sharing information with us, believing we are uninformed city dwellers (we were, but we are learning), and what he likes to call ‘Yankees’ when he is in a bad temper. He has Native American blood, Chinook. I don’t know how much and while he presents as if he is fully Chinook, I am given to understand it may be a percentile. So, he has seen me attempting my kitchen garden and has given me his insights as to how he did it when he was a kid growing up.

Seems though, that I would need chickens, a chicken coop built atop the garden to create the scenario he describes with natural fertilizer for the garden, and bonus of eggs. Well it sounds efficient to me, but we don’t live on a farm, it’s a lot within the township. Although this is not as much a town as a fishing community, so not too likely my neighbors would complain too much if I was inclined to take his advice. Nah, I’m not quite ready to go there.

Further, he’d have me kill a bear for the fat to make pies as he shares a story with me of how his mother asked him when he was a kid if he wanted a blackberry pie. Sure, he says, and she says, well go kill me a bear. Seems she used the bear fat for lard. Or so that is how he tells me it was, back in the day, when he was a kid growing up around here. Well, there are no shortage of blackberries, in fact, they threaten to overtake anything in their path, including houses. I have actually seen here a house completely overgrown and ensconced in blackberry brambles . I haven’t seen a bear, but my other neighbors have on one of their walks along the beach.

Recently, my neighbors who have overgrown blackberries in the unused part of their lot, had the thickets cut down. One morning I look out my door to see a sign that says ‘Lietta’s Garden’. We had talked about having me expand my kitchen garden to include growing some vegetables and a couple of fruit trees on this part of their lot. Apparantly, they thought it a good enough idea to have paid to have the thicket cut down. As I explained to her, I think that blackberry brambles come back ferociously and cutting them back isn’t going to be enough; they would have to actually be eradicated.
Lietta’s Patch
Lietta’s Patch

My other neighbor (the oyster farmer) has taken to letting his yard go to wild, so blackberries have overtaken the front and side parts of his yard. I had been telling him about our other neighbors yielding part of their lot to the idea of a community garden and I’d like to extend that to include his yard too. He agreed, said sure, go ahead. I doubt we will actually, as he is known to have a change of heart and having said one thing one time, wouldn’t necessarily have ‘meant’ it.

He has been amused at some of what he calls my city philosophies as I’ve talked to him about community garden, sustainable living, 100 mile diet. But he keeps bringing me bits of information. Research papers on spartina, that plant life growing in Willapa Bay that has generated controversy about effects Willapa Bay and on oyster farms in the area. More recently though, he is intrigued (and terribly amused) at my mention of wanting to help grow a farmer’s market in our area (existing Public Market on the Willapa), as an extension of the idea of the 100 mile diet. He brought me a magazine, ‘Mother Earth News’ because of an article that mentions the 100 mile diet. I actually appreciated and enjoyed the magazine, and subscribed to the online email newsletter.

Oh, and that reminds me to mention how my oyster farmer neighbor does not have a computer, does not want a computer, and calls it ‘the box’. He knows we do have computer, use it daily, write our blogs, including as contributing editors to political blog forum Washblog, and that topics come up in our political blogging that sometimes more directly affect Southwest Washington, Willapa Bay, Pacific County.

A couple weeks ago, he brought us a treat – some fresh oysters and said ‘enjoy lunch’. Oh, how sweet, I said, but you know neither of us eat or like oysters. He looked at me in utter surprise and said exactly what one of my other neighbors said to me when he learned we don’t eat oysters and my husband doesn’t eat much seafood at all — ‘whaddya move here for then’. So that makes twice I’ve heard that now from my immediate neighbors. Guess not too many people don’t like oysters. And being that the town up the road calls itself ‘The Oyster Capital of the World’, one could indeed wonder why we moved to this area at all. We don’t have a boat, we don’t boat, we don’t fish, we don’t hunt, we don’t farm and lately we don’t even get much hiking, walking in.

This week, my oyster farmer neighbor brought me a newspaper – Capital Press, because it had a few articles that referenced the 100 mile diet and sustainable living. Oh, I said, I just learned of Capital Press because of the award The Daily Astorian won for it’s comprehensive reporting on climate warming. Pshah, he says – ”I don’t believe in that climate warming stuff”. Ahh, I said, well you will when you recognize it has potential to affect oysters and Willapa Bay. “How”, he says.

And I launch into my newly developing language about how climate warming will affect the Western Coast and salmon and he cuts me off to remind me he is a studied geologist and launches into some history about the salmon. I listen politely for a while, then explain to him that what he is telling me is very likely true (salmon hatcheries, diseased spawnings, etc) and that he very obviously knows more about that than I could begin to know, BUT, I tell him — with climate warming, what was may not continue to be and that was more the point I was wanting to make while applauding The Daily Astorian for the many articles that explore climate warming in our region.

I was startled though with so many of the other facts he was rattling off including his statement that grain can’t grow here in Western WA – too wet, so where was I going to get grain (wheat, etc) within 100 miles for my 100 mile diet. And he also pointed out that since we are located at water’s edge, rural, and distant from most of the farming communities in SW Washington, perhaps I could expand my search beyond 100 miles. I searched my mind for a moment, recognizing the truth of what he was saying. Now I really have to rethink the whole concept of the 100 mile diet. Ah, those early tribes did eat fish, berries, and now I have to go learn what they did for grains. Ah, and that perhaps is why it is necessary to ‘trade’ and/or ‘barter’ with neighboring communities. Across the mountains in our state, is the drier and warmer climates, where most of the agriculture is grown – wheat, grain, fruit.

He was also quick to rattle off all the various diseases that can affect crops; seems he had done some farming in the area when he was younger man. After listening to him for awhile, I exclaimed in mild distress, that if I listened to him, I would give up already, and not ready to give up. Much I need to learn, I know, and how about being a resource when I have questions. He does know a thing or two about a thing or two, but he also doesn’t know some things about some things and not usually easy conversations. Friendly, but not easy.

This morning I read through the articles in the edition of the The Capital Press he provided and there was a wealth of useful information on agricuture, farming, and so I figured if there was an online email newsletter, I’d sign up and get online updates. Yep, there is, and I subscribed.

Now…about that grain problem with grain not likely to grow in Western WA along the coastline, how am I going to fit that into the 100 mile diet……..

well, article in The Capital Press about Shepherds Grain grown in Spokane – direct seed, organic, sustainable sparks an idea for trade with my daughter who lives in Spokane. She says blackberries don’t grow readily in Spokane and she is having to $6.00 for 1/4 lb while I have them growing around here all over the place at no charge. I took her pounds of blackberries that I’d picked for her this summer. Now I’ll make an offer to trade her blackberries for Shepherd’s Grain. While it isn’t quite within the 100 mile diet distance limits, it’s conceptually keeping within the concept. It’s grain that isn’t grown and shipped from thousands of miles away. Hundreds, yes, because Spokane is a few hundred miles from here – one side of the state to the other in this state is hundreds of miles – but it is from within the state and therefore Local! I solved that problem nicely. Well sorta – still got to work out the shipping exchange with maximum carbon reduced methodology.

Posted in 100 mile diet, agriculture, blackberries, climate warming, farmers market, Native Americans, Neighboring communities, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, South Bend, spartina | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brian Hatfield, wins State Senate election

Posted by pallix on November 21, 2007

SOUTH BEND – Appointed state Sen. Brian Hatfield was elected by voters with a 76 percent victory last Tuesday night, just two days after his wife died of breast cancer.His was one of only two Senate seats on the Washington ballot.

The other seat was easily retained by a Republican appointee, Curtis King of Yakima by a similar high percentage.Hatfield earned 13,455 votes in the four counties to 4,386 by his opponent, Jesse Ashe, a Kelso Republican. In Pacific County, the vote was 5,261 for Hatfield (76 percent) to 1,663.Hatfield was appointed to the position a year ago after the resignation of Mark Doumit. He had to run to complete the final year of a four-year term.

Results announced Tuesday night were augmented with additional mail-in ballots tallied Friday by the Pacific County Elections Department staff.

read more at Chinook Observer

website for WA state Senator, Brian Hatfield (D), 19th Legislative District; Grays Harbor County, Pacific County, Wahkiakum County, Cowlitz County.

Posted in 19th Legislative District, Brian Hatfield, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, politics, state Senator | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Daily Astorian wins 2007 Dolly Connelly Award for series on climate change impact on Pacific NW

Posted by pallix on November 13, 2007

I have also posted this as front page story on Washblog.

The Daily Astorian has won the 2007 Dolly Connelly Award for excellence in environmental journalism for a series of articles on how global warming stands to impact the Pacific Northwest and its living creatures.

Established in 1998, the Connelly Award is given out annually by the association. It was established by Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly in memory of his mother, who worked as a freelance journalist and correspondent for Time-Life.

I learned today in Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal publishing a Seattle AP report. Hey, the Daily Astorian is our neck of the woods – out here in Bay Center, in Pacific County. So I followed the link and found a fantastic resource in the collection of articles for this special report featured in the Daily Astorian.

An award wining special report as provided by a collaborating collection of 22 writers, seven photographers, seven editors, six page designers and two logo creators from The Daily Astorian.

There are 71 articles from March 2006 to the most recent one in Sept 2007. I will be reading them over the weeks ahead and I’ve already read through several of the articles. I can see some grave relevance, not only for our immediate region on coastal Southwest WA, but along the WA coastline and those Puget Sound bodies of water.

I’m struck by how the articles reference two of the nearby towns of South Bend and Raymond in the region where we live as the ‘canaries in a coal mine’.

from one of the articles ‘What you would see here would be a hell of a mess’

Not only would the coastline change, but there is no question there would be a corresponding rise in the water table, said Douglas Canning, recently retired from the Washington Department of Ecology’s Shorelands Program and affiliated with the University of Washington’s Climate Impact Group.

A rise in the table water would cause low-lying inland lakes to expand. Areas that are now wetlands could have standing water year-round, or become small lakes. New wetlands could form on previously dry ground. Freshwater marshes could become inundated with saltwater.

Because Raymond and South Bend are feeling the symptoms, Canning suggests county leaders consider them their canaries in a coal mine.

“Those are my poster children,” for demonstrating the dangers of the long-term effects of rising ocean levels, he said. Any unanticipated consequences of climate change and a rise in the ocean level should manifest there first.

I’m also struck by the specific article on Bay Center (where we live) becoming an island. We already are an ‘island’ technically, but the article isn’t talking about the mere channel of water that separates us now from the mainland where a small bridge is our way in and out.

from one of the articles ‘Maps reveal extent of worries for Bay Center, Oysterville’

Washington’s Pacific County covers 928 square miles, but by 2100, based on predictions of ocean level rise caused by global climate change, the county could lose 20 square miles to the ocean.

A Geographic Information System analysis of Pacific County was done using a projected rise in ocean level of 3.4 feet by 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an approximate rise in ocean level of three feet by 2100, and a Canadian study suggests the Pacific Northwest may experience half as much again again as the global average.

Bay Center, bracketed by Willapa Bay and a river, will become a virtual island at high tide.

Of course, those are immediate concerns to those of us who live in Pacific County, however, I don’t think the effects are limited to Southwest Washington as much as The Daily Astorian chose to do a very comprehensive and scientific analytical report, giving me reason to be very proud of the reporting in our region from what is considered to be a small town newspaper in The Daily Astorian.

Astoria, Oregon, on Highway 101, is a Megler Bridge away from us in Pacific County, so we consider it very much part of our region. The Megler Astoria Bridge spans the mouth of the Columbia River where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.

I wonder if the newspapers to the north of us in the larger cities along western Washington coast have invested this kind of time in reporting? And if not, why not?

By pointing to the concerns we face in our region, I think the smorgasboard of articles points to larger concerns beyond just our immediate region. For example:

Will fishing cool down as the oceans warm up?


Bananas growing in Oregon?


Northwest water supplies rely on storage and conservation


It’s like a freight train coming and no one can stop it
Salmon are hardy – but can they survive warmer water? It may be hard to believe that chinook salmon or steelhead could be bothered or hurt by a few degrees warmer water

Invasive species hurting lifestyles on Long Beach Peninsula

Forests and crops struggle to beat the heat

Cranberry crop on the Peninsula may be vulnerable to climate change


Along with drier landscape comes another problem – more weeds
SPOKANE, Wash. – Bigger weeds. Weeds that go further up mountainsides. Weeds that take advantage, not only of warmer temperatures, but higher carbon dioxide levels that will accompany global climate change.


Sea birds, insects and other critters suffer amid changing climate


Growers around the Northwest point to evidence of more pests


Forests encounter new pest problems in the age of global warming


Effects on bird species bring climate change into focus
Bird count shows some new species are appearing here


Climate change activists converge in Skamakowa
(my note; Skamokawa is a tiny town in Wahkiakum County, the next county over and south from us in Pacific County. A tiny town like that taking a lead in climate change — I’m mightily impressed!)

Climate change team

This installment of the climate change series is produced by the East Oregonian Publishing Group, whose member newspapers include The Daily Astorian in Astoria, Ore., The East Oregonian in Pendleton, Ore., The Capital Press in Salem, Ore., (covering four states); the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day, Ore., The Wallowa Chieftain in Enterprise, Ore., and the Chinook Observer in Long Beach, Wash.

I seem to have gravitated to a place where I find the focus of my attention on quite hefty and heavy topics, between activism regarding Iraq war (wars in Middle East) and concerns with climate warming. At least I feel like with the climate warming there are some things I can do (we can do, each and every one of us) that might make some difference to the greater sum in effort to work to reduce impacts. And in each little step I find I can take, I feel a small but empowered sense that this is something where we can have a unifying commonality and work together in building communities and work towards life-giving purposes.

Oh, but with Iraq war, I feel like I have failed despite my best efforts after 5 years of focused activism. I feel the failure acutely as my son-in-law leaves at the end of this week for his second deployment to Iraq. I really find myself feeling awkward in knowing what to say to him, and I can’t shake the feeling of having failed him and his wife and children when I am with them. I realize it is in the hands of Congress now, and am coming to the sad realization that there is nothing Congress will do to shift the course of Iraq war for the remainder of this President’s term. I’m not so sure Congress will do much even when (if) a new President takes on the Commander-in-Chief role in Jan 2009.

Posted in agriculture, Bay Center proper, climate warming, estuary, farming, migratory birds, Neighboring communities, oysters, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, shorebirds, South Bend, spartina, tideflats, waterfowl habitat, wetlands, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Voters taking their time before sending ballots back

Posted by pallix on October 26, 2007

 excerpt from article at The Daily World:  Voters taking their time before sending ballots back

In Pacific County, Auditor Pat Gardner said, as of this morning, 2,028 ballots have been returned. That’s about 16 percent of the county’s 12,000 or so registered voters.

“That’s pretty good,” Gardner said. She added that there aren’t any particularly “hot” races in the county to draw voters.

Chris Stephens, chief deputy auditor, said that in the last General Election, about 60 percent of the Pacific County electorate voted. Because the number of ballots coming in day-to-day is “pretty consistent,” Stephens said the office is expecting a “good turnout.”

Updates on the returned ballots are being posted on the Pacific County Web site; voters in that county who have mailed in their ballots can check to see if their vote will count by entering their name or registration number at www.pacificcountyballots.com.

Posted in Pacific County, voting | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Sunny Autumn Day at the very blue Bay Center

Posted by pallix on October 26, 2007

I took my dog, Jake, for a thorough and long walk yesterday, going a little further than we usually walk. It was a crisp, sunny, Autumn day and perfect for getting out of the house after the wind and rain storms of the week before. My mother had sent some of her digital photos of Autumn colors where she lives and I had thought I might take some photos to show off Autumn where I live. Well, I didn’t find much color, found a lot of blue, but some great photos anyway. Sharing a few here.

processing building Bay Center

full size click here – processing building Palix River, on Bay Center Dike Road

Fishing boat

full size click here – Fishing boat on Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

processing building on pier posts

full size click here – processing building on pier posts, Palix River on Bay Center Dike Road

private ramp and dock

full size click here – private ramp and dock on Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

dock for fishing boats

full size click here – private dock for fishing boats, Palix River, Bay Center Dike Road

Dock of the Bay tavern and restaraunt Bay Center, WA
full size click here – Dock of the Bay tavern and restaraunt Bay Center, WA

old historic Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA
full size click here – old historic Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA

historic former owners of our house; Bochau marker at  Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA

full size click here – historic former owners of our house; Bochau marker at Pioneer Cemetary, Bay Center, WA


View of the Palix River and Bay Center Port from old historic Pioneer Cemetary

full size click here – View of the Palix River and Bay Center Port from old historic Pioneer Cemetary


Oyster shell holding area - oyster shells galore

full size click here – Oyster shell holding area – oyster shells galore

Posted in Bochau family, dock, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, photos, restaraunts, tideflats, Uncategorized, wetlands, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tales of the Willapa, as told by TurnerJake

Posted by pallix on October 20, 2007

 tales of the willapa curmudgeon

Somewhere in the year 2000, when husband and I were still at the having fun stage with the internet and computers, back in the day when one could playfully build a personal website, back before blogs and business enterprises took the internet seriously, we built a personal webpage for the Tales of the Willapa – tall tales as told by a curmudgeon character we named Turner Jake. Just some amusing tall tales crafted by my husband’s observations of the new region we moved to here in Willapa land.

As personal webpages disappeared and fell out of vogue, I continued to move his tales to different personal webpages until I found a permanent home for them here.

Posted in oysters, Pacific County, tall tales, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Willapa Bay Lighthouse – Lost Lights

Posted by pallix on October 20, 2007

Another lost treasure to Willapa Bay, the Willapa Bay Lighthouse, situated on what is North Cove (Washaway Beach) where land mass tumbles into the Pacific Ocean. The Willapa Bay Lighthouse was lost in this way – depicted in historical photos below from WLA Photo Gallery

Willapa Bay Lighthouse

Willapa Bay Lighthouse-Originally known as the Shoalwater Bay Lighthouse. A fourth-order Fresnel lens provided the light’s beacon when it went into operation on October 1, 1858. “Twelve miles south of the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, the Willapa Bay Lighthouse once marked the northern side of Willapa Bay. Built in 1858, the lighthouse operated for over 80 years until it was undercut by the sea and tumbled into the bay in December of 1940.

Several replacement towers have served to mark the bay, each one being placed ever farther north and east of the original lighthouse. Much of the city of North Cove has also tumbled into the sea…The last tower, which stood three-fourths of a mile from the site of the original lighthouse, apparently succumbed to erosion in the 1990s.” (Text courtesy of “lighthousefriends.com”) Photo courtesy of E.DeWire. Date unknown.

Willapa Bay Lighthouse

Willapa Bay Lighthouse

Willapa Bay display-Westport Maritime Museum. June 2004. (click on image to enlarge). “In 1939, the lighthouse was declared unsafe and abandoned. On December 26, 1940, the lighthouse met its demise. It had been precariously hanging over the side of the bluff, looking as though it might topple at any second. The Coast Guard decided it was endangering the many sightseers who swarmed to get a last glimpse of the light. One wall had already collapsed.

First, they washed away the remaining sand from the west side of the structure and then set off a charge of dynamite which toppled the lighthouse over the brink, ending another part of U.S. Lighthouse history. The lighthouse was once accompanied by the nearby Shoalwater Bay Lifesaving Station. In 1889, the federal government decided to change the name from Shoalwater to Willapa to rightfully honor the tribe of Indians who had inhabited the land for centuries.” (Text courtesy of Lighthouse Digest, Jan1999)

see these and more photos at Washington Lightkeepers WLA Photo Gallery

Posted in Lighthouses, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is the Idyllic Estuary known as Willapa Bay under threat?

Posted by pallix on October 17, 2007

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Many say yes to the need to control spartina in Willapa Bay while some say no need to spray chemicals in pristine Willapa Bay to control spartina. I’m paying curious attention, since we are now residents on this wondrous bay. What we have come to take as indicative and a large part of the reason why we chose to put roots down here in the region of Willapa Bay – Willapa Hills – in Pacific County of Washington was the untouched by humans wilderness aspect of life in this area. In the near decade we have lived here, we have learned a bit about the region from our neighbors at work, at church, at home and in the community.

We do not work in the primary industries of timber, commercial fishing, farming, tourism, or small business that make up most of the industry in this region. So we remain always respectful onlookers, observers, if you will, of those who labor in these industries.

Of late though, my attention has been drawn to something that would likely not have been more than passing interest to me were it not for the fact that it is the reality of where we live. More out of curiosity than necessity, I’ve been drawn into doing a bit of looking into the research of others, far more expert than I, on the matter of eco-relationship of life forms who share the Willapa Bay; plant life, marine life, bird refuge, and human life.

We know a bit about the oyster farms, oyster farmers, and commercial fishing industry in the area because they are our neighbors, but also because our employment vocations put us in touch with the ebbs and flows of human economic sustenance in this region. If it isn’t going well for the marine life here, then it isn’t going well for the human life here either. There is a strong interdependence and one in which human stewardship plays an important role. A role seemingly well understood by the people who know and appreciate with respect the history, the immediate present and the future of Willapa Bay.

Oyster farming on Willapa Bay, Washington

Oyster farming on Willapa Bay

My (step) father introduced us to awareness of Willapa Bay because he and my mother made almost annual visits here, and both would tell us of their trip that year. One of the things he used to tell us, often and with great pride, was that Willapa Bay was the third largest bay in the country and the most pristine. He was a longshoreman and had at an earlier time in his life, in his younger years worked the docks and boats on Willapa Bay. He passed last year, Jan 2006, and some of his friends may well remember Charlie Ellsworth. He was a guy’s guy kind of man, honest, forthright, sincere, loyal, a veteran and had a strong work ethic. His pride of the Willapa often piqued my interest, but not enough to seek it out and see for myself until one day…..

My husband and I took a planned camping trip ourselves to meet up with my children at Fort Stevens in Warrenton, Oregon. Causing us to drive on Highway 101, through towns of South Bend, Raymond, which we actually had never heard of before and then about 10 miles out of South Bend, was the road sign for Bay Center — the place were my mom and dad took an annual vacation trip. Thus was our introduction to this region of Washington and it was so breath-taking that I wondered aloud if we could transfer our employment here and take up residence here. (We both were employees for State of Washington, Dept. Social and Health Services and can transfer where openings exist in offices in Washington state).

There was one opening, not two, and my husband got himself transferred to South Bend, and we moved here and thus began our life in Willapa. Over the years, as we got acquainted with the area, we knew it was among those considered economically depressed and that while it was not flourishing in terms of human economic development, it was an environmental treasure not yet exploited. Unlike some residents who are generational families living in the area, we are imports – from the city – no less, but we have become very attached to the beauty of the region and feel blessed to have the opportunity to live here.

This was more quiet knowing on my part. Over the years we have lived here, I have only begun to understand how important the region is to Washington state and on a larger scale to other bay, estuary, wilderness communities that have been less cautious in their over development and exploitation of the fragile co-existence that must remain to preserve the quality of life that keeps Willapa Bay the least spoiled estuary environments in North America.

No, this is not me bragging – this is me being astonished at how others, more versed and knowledgeable define Willapa Bay. And that does then, cause me to be proud of where we live, and desire to enter into a stewardship to preserve what is here for future generations to appreciate. Do my grandchildren care deeply whether spartina will overtake the bay and turn it from a mud bay estuary refuge for the thousands of migratory birds? Or will they care if the oyster farmers who have an enormous stake in the condition of the bay will continue to be watchful stewards and keepers of the bay? Will they care – not likely, but if not my grandchildren, than I know some others grandchildren may indeed care – and deeply.

I defer to others more learned than I on the matter, in recognition that I could not begin to acquire that kind of knowlege base beyond that of a reader, listener, and resident here on Willapa Bay. What do I know about burrowing shrimp, ghost shrimp, mud shrimp – native species to Willapa Bay and their impact on oysters – not native to Willapa Bay yet perhaps exactly because of the shepherding of oyster farmers exists Willapa Bay as I have come to know it — as my father said in pride – it is the most pristine bay in the country.

Thalassinidea (ghost shrimp)

Thalassinidea (ghost shrimp)

What do I know of the plant life spartina, except what I see waving on the shore and in the waters at the beaches where I live on Willapa Bay, in the Palix river that borders Bay Center Dike Road on it’s way to emptying into Willapa Bay. What do I know about the ongoing environmentally controversial matter of whether to use chemical sprays to help (or hinder) the interplay of life that now exists on Willapa Bay and likely needs to continue to remain, if not thrive and flourish on Willapa Bay.

A clump of Spartina alterniflora

A clump of Spartina alterniflora

I know very little, but I know enough to know that it is worthwhile to remain curious and interested enough to try to follow along as an interested observer, an interested bystander, an interested onlooker. And for that reason, I want to add links like the one below that do a better job of investigative reporting than I could begin to do. My son, attending Oregon State University, not that interested in what happens at Willapa Bay found himself having to learn about geology and with that a study of Willapa Bay. I have come to understand that universities and colleges in both Washington and Oregon continue to study Willapa Bay. I have come to appreciate that Willapa Bay has much to offer as a study in what is working that keeps it what it is; a clean, pristine bay – estuary – mudflats – tidelands – wilderness – refuge.

Willapa Bay Migrating Birds

photo courtesy of Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge

Washington State Magazine

Willapa Bay, also known as Shoalwater, is the largest estuary between San Francisco and Puget Sound. It boasts one of the least-spoiled environments and the healthiest salmon runs south of Canada, produces one in every four oysters farmed in the United States, and is a favorite pit stop for tens of thousands of migratory birds.

And it’s in trouble.

The infestation of Spartina, imported by accident from the East Coast, collects enough silt to raise the bay floor by up to a foot, turning much of Willapa’s enviably productive tidal zone into a giant, unkempt lawn. At the same time, other introduced plants and animals and two opportunistic species of native shrimp also threaten to spoil the pristine bay.

“If you lose Willapa Bay, it’s of both state and national significance,” says Kim Patten (’83 Ph.D. Horticulture), a Washington State University researcher and associate professor of horticulture who is a leader in the battle for the bay.

“I think it’s a national treasure, because every estuary in North America would try to emulate it. There’s no other estuary out there like it,” Patten says. “We have sort of an idyllic estuary. It’s not perfect, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a very functioning estuary. You don’t get better than that.”

Environmentally, aquatic landscapes from Chesapeake Bay to San Francisco Bay are infamous for what they’ve lost. Willapa Bay’s protectors want to make it renowned for what it kept. They’re starting to get noticed.

Last June, the National Audubon Society ranked Willapa Bay second—just behind part of Florida’s Everglades—in its Cooling the Hot Spots report detailing wildlife areas threatened by invasive species. That followed a similar listing in the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s 2002 report, Silent Invasion. And the Nature Conservancy has made protecting the bay and its rich watershed one of its highest Washington priorities.

Senator Patty Murray (’72 Recreation) and her colleagues helped secure another $1 million in federal funding for this season’s work, the second in a six-year, multi-partner plan to eradicate Spartina. The state is pitching in hundreds of thousands more.

“It’s so common for us to not realize what we’ve got until we lost it,” says U.S. Representative Brian Baird, D-Vancouver. “This wonderful bay faces some real threats. Spartina, for example, is a nightmare. It can turn the Willapa Bay into the Willapa Prairie.”

……..

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in 1937 to protect habitat for migrating birds. But as Spartina has thickened, Willapa’s legions of shorebirds have thinned.

Shorebirds flock to unspoiled tidal flats to peck for worms, midges, nematodes, and other critters that make up the “groceries” that fuel the birds’ long migrations along the West Coast. Some also will forage among the stubble and wrack of dead Spartina, but they won’t venture into living meadows where predators might lurk.

“Willapa Bay is one of the few stepping-stones of habitat left for migrating birds from South and Central America to Canada and Alaska,” says Nina Carter, policy director for Audubon Washington. She helped lobby her national organization to train a spotlight on Willapa’s disappearing habitat for short-billed dowitchers and tens of thousands of other shorebirds that migrate through each year.

Posted in burrowing shrimp, estuary, Friends of Willapa, ghost shrimp, marine life, marsh, migratory birds, mud shrimp, oyster farms, oysters, Pacific County, shorebirds, spartina, tideflats, Uncategorized, waterfowl habitat, wetlands, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Seeing Pink in Pacific County

Posted by pallix on October 13, 2007

I had a dental appointment in ‘town’ yesterday.  That means a drive from Bay Center to South Bend or Raymond.  Sometimes it means a drive to the ‘city’ and that could be Aberdeen or Astoria.  So I was headed for Raymond yesterday and encountered pink everywhere I went, it seemed.  What’s up with the pink, I wondered, but rather guessed it had something to do with supporting breast cancer awareness.   And sure enough, when I finished with the dentist (or better said, when he finished working me over – my teeth, that is) I stopped by the pharmacy in South Bend to get a prescription filled.

Some of the Raymond steel statues are decked out in pink.  As I drive by Bud’s Lumber – you know the pervue of masculine endeavors, their front displays are wrapped in pink, their trees are wrapped in pink.  Pink ribbons on lawn and yard equipment.

So when I do arrive at the South Bend Pharmacy, and enter the store , I find pink everywhere, gift items, angel stones, pink ribbons, and even pink flamingos.  And that is where I asked my question and got the answer I thought I would get – breast cancer awareness.   Ahh, this community can be so spirited about some things, I think to myself, and in a good way.  Here is something they can do to raise funds to help local people fighting the cancer battle.  Here is where they can make a difference at a level they can touch and feel and know they have done something that counts, is measureable.

I’ve seen the communities do collective fundraisers before to help an individual family or child who encounters severe medical challenges.  I remember thinking then how proud I was to join a community who could champion local families this way.

And this morning, I see that the Pink of Pacific County is an article in the Aberdeen Daily World

Pacific County towns going pink for breast cancer

The sea of pink that will cover South Bend, Raymond, Menlo and Lebam starting today is part of the Willapa Harbor Helping Hands’ second “Paint the Towns Pink” celebration that is held in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The community celebration runs until Oct. 20 with the aim of promoting breast cancer awareness and raising money for Willapa Harbor Helping Hands, a non-profit organization formed in 2004 to financially assist North Pacific County cancer patients. The group helps with expenses such as pharmacy bills, gas to drive to appointments and house payments.

   ……

If businesses see a Pink Panther sandwich board and a flock of flamingos outside their door this week, they have been “flamingoed” and must donate $25 to have the items moved to another business, where the game will start again. Businesses can call 875-5757 or Suzie Zakel at 942-6101 to have the items moved.

……..

If you have questions or need ideas on how you can participate in Paint the Towns Pink week, call Halpin at 942-5471 or the Willapa Harbor Helping Hands office at 875-5550.

Posted in Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Willapa Harbor Helping Hands | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Washaway Beach ‘Hungry sea devours dreams’, Seattle Times article

Posted by pallix on October 10, 2007

Seattle Times isn’t the first and won’t be the last to publish an article about Washaway Beach at North Cove where Willapa Bay meets the Pacific ocean.  I’ve heard people who have lived here much longer than I tell me a bit about how Washaway Beach was once considered a playground for wealthy Seattlites in past decades.   In this time of global warming, climate change, the phenomenom of Washaway Beach which is literally washing into the ocean couldn’t be a more timely time for Seattle Times to write this article.

article;  ‘Hungry Sea Devours dreams’, Seattle Times  Sept 14, 2007

NORTH COVE, Pacific County — From Greg Tumidanski’s front deck, the steel-gray ribbon of the Pacific Ocean stretches beyond sight. Pelicans divebomb the surf. The wind is gentle and warm.

All this — a cabin on more than seven acres of oceanfront land — he picked up for just $45,000 two years ago.

It was a deal so good it just had to have a catch: Tumidanski expects his oasis on the sea to be gone in about three years, consumed by the omnivorous waves at Washaway Beach.

This two miles of shoreline at the northern confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay, 12 miles south of Westport, is believed to be the fastest-eroding beach on the Pacific Coast. It has lost about 65 feet a year to the sea since the late 1800s. More than 100 homes, including the entire town of North Cove, have already disappeared, many of them in the past 20 years.

Yet despite the very public destruction, official warnings and a decade-old building moratorium, people such as Tumidanski keep putting down good money for property here. Sixty-five parcels have changed hands in the past six years, long after it became virtually impossible to buy a homeowner’s policy.

It’s a perverse real-estate calculus: the closer to the water, the cheaper the land. Beachfront can be had for $500, but it might not survive the winter. On the other hand, property a quarter-mile inland can fetch $100,000 or more. After all, it might last as long as a couple of decades.

“You tell yourself, this property is usually for the rich,” Tumidanski said as he surveyed the view from his deck.

“This view, even for a few years, is worth it.”

Aptly named

As its name proves, Washaway Beach has not been a secret. As the northern channel of Willapa Bay carves away land so that it can empty more efficiently into the Pacific, one home after another has slid into the ocean.

Its historic name is Cape Shoalwater, and people two decades ago talked about saving it. But today, the cape is largely gone and so is any real hope of help from local, state and federal governments.

More than $24 million has been spent to protect Highway 105 nearby, and $12 million is planned to shelter the Shoalwater Bay Indian reservation just to the south. But there are no plans to protect the property at Washaway Beach.

Today, it’s an eerie graveyard of real estate. Dozens of rusting water pipes, chunks of foundation and pieces of asphalt sprout from the sand. Up the beach, some of the remaining properties look mostly abandoned, placidly waiting their turn to slide away.

Protecting what’s left would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said Mike DeSimone, the head planner for Pacific County.

(read more at the article link )

Posted in Native Americans, Neighboring communities, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, willapa bay, Willapa Bay in the news | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »