SPARKY THE FIRE DOG stops, drops and rolls in a fire safety demonstration for Megan Kilgore’s first grade class at Clatskanie Elementary School (CES) Tuesday morning, Oct. 9. The demonstration was part of Fire Prevention Week. Firefighters from the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District are conducting demonstrations with Sparky and a portable fire safety house along with in-classroom visits this week. Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley
by Deborah Steele Hazen
The National Weather Service is predicting “a significant weather change” beginning Friday, Oct. 12, when a series of wet and possibly windy Pacific fronts are expected to end the long warm dry spell.
But while 2012’s prolonged summer may be coming to an end, no one is predicting anything approaching what happened on Friday, Oct. 12, 1962 – exactly 50 years ago.
What has become known as the Columbus Day Storm is the “benchmark storm for which all other storms are compared to across the Pacific Northwest,” according to Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meterorological Society.
The violent and deadly storm struck during the late afternoon of Oct. 12, 1962 with winds gusting as high as 130 miles per hour (mph) in the Willamette Valley and 170 mph along the Oregon Coast. Across the region, nearly 50 people perished in the storm which began in the western Pacific as the remnants of Typhoon Frieda.
By 6 p.m. on that Friday evening, toppling trees had taken out electrical and telephone service in Clatskanie and throughout the surrounding rural area.
Large plate glass windows were blown in at the Lewis Market and the Clatskanie Variety store in downtown Clatskanie as the first big gusts hit.
An ancient locust tree uprooted in the front yard of Elsie Bryant (now the Bryant House) just up South Nehalem Street from the Clatskanie Prebyterian Church, tearing down the power lines and blocking the street.
An old cedar fell across the front corner of the historic home of Willard T. and Edna Evenson at the end of North Nehalem Street. Another tree landed on the James Ward house across the street from Clatskanie Elementary School.
A black walnut tree in the front yard of The Castle, then the home of George and Anne Salmi, crashed down across the lawn.
A tree went down across Beaver Falls Road at Rocky Point, blocking that route into town. Literally hundreds of trees fell on rural roads throughout the area.
Fruit trees and orchards were hard hit.
“Men who have been in the woods since the Friday blow have been horrified at the damage and downed trees,” the Oct. 19, 1962 issue of The Clatskanie Chief reported. By the next week, however, a Benson Timber Co. (now Evenson Timber Company) spokesman was saying that most of the blown down trees in the private forests surrounding Clatskanie were salvageable.
Many barns and sheds were flattened or tipped over, and several small buildings at the Beaver Army Terminal (now Port Westward) were “crumpled.”
Chimneys were blown off at the Richard Sandstrom and William Carson homes.
Stories of the Storm
Kent Magruder set off from Clatskanie that fateful afternoon enroute to the Pacific International Livestock Exposition in Portland with a load of pigs. Not far behind him were his son Dick Magruder accompanied by Forrest and Edna Bradley with three head of prize cattle.
Dr. Magruder was in the lead and got through as far as Deer Island when a tree came across the road in front of him and damaged his truck extensively. He was uninjured, but had to wait there until morning to escape the tangle of trees blocking the highway.
About halfway between Clatskanie and Rainier on what is now old Rainier Road, the Bradleys and Dick were trapped between trees falling in front and behind them. The truck slid off the road. Eventually, they unloaded the cattle and took them to the George Gamble barn where they were kept overnight.
Clatskanie Grade School was one of numerous buildings to sustain roof damage. Three large hawthorne trees at the side of the building were destroyed and one awning was lost. A chimney at the bus garage was blown off.
Clatskanie High School buildings also suffered roof damage and three windows were broken by flying debris.
Local dairies had to dump some 20,000 pounds of milk because it couldn’t be kept cool. At the Darigold creamery, just outside of town on what is now Beaver Falls Road, a gas engine was borrowed from a hay baler owned by Kynsi and Lammi to keep the ice cream cold.
Dr. Otto George loaned a generator to the Lahti Shell station so that gas could be pumped. It was pumped by hand at the Larsen service station.
At Westport, traffic to the ferry landing was blocked with debris from large uprooted trees that had been in the yard of the Jack Taylor home. It was estimated that the pileup of limbs and trees was 20 feet high.
In the Nehalem Valley, a cow was electrocuted at the Shalmon Libel farm, and numerous barn and garage collapses were reported.
Closer to Clatskanie a cow belonging to Herb Edmonds was killed by a falling tree.
The newly-refurbished Hudson Park grandstand was another victim of the storm.
Line Crews and Volunteers Work Round-the-Clock
The Clatskanie volunteer fire department went on around-the-clock watch as soon as the storm started.
Crews from the Clatskanie People’s Utility District (PUD), and the West Coast Telephone Company went to work as soon as it was safe to restore service.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t until 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14, 46 hours after the electricity went out, that the the majority of the PUD’s customers had power restored. It was the next Sunday, Oct. 21, before all of the PUD’s 1700 active accounts were restored.
PUD manager Alden Bailey estimated the damage to PUD lines and facilities at $15,000 to $20,000 (in 1962 dollars and not counting labor costs) – mostly in the rural areas and especially in the Shepard Road, Lost Creek and Hazel Grove vicinity.
Two weeks after the storm, 64 telephone customers still did not have service.
“The unsung heroes of any storm,” wrote Chief publisher Art Steele in his Trident column of Oct. 19, 1962, “have been the men who climb the electric and telephone poles in their hurried efforts to restore service. Repeatedly, the past week was the remark, ‘How I’d hate to be a lineman!’ In foul weather, we nominate it for top place as the toughest, most disagreeable of jobs.
“But there are other heroes (new ones) in last Friday’s storm. They were the large number of loggers and others who had power saws and immediately went to work voluntarily cutting the hundreds of trees that fell across highways.
“It would have been weeks before regular road crews could have cleared all the highways without their help. A big vote of thanks to the chainsaw boys.”
Another Storm Averted
By the next week, while the clean-up after the Pacific Northwest’s worst storm in recorded history continued, The Trident was on the topic of the Cuban Missile crisis, which began just two days after the Columbus Day Storm and continued for 13 tense days felt around the world.
“There are times when all of us become very disgusted with the two-party system,” Steele wrote in the Oct. 26, 1962 Trident. “Too often, the apperances are that the lawmakers are more interested in what will help the party than in the good of the people.
“But happily, as in the case of the Cuban crisis, parties are forgotten and the United States is presenting a united front. The president’s proclamation for the Cuban ‘blockade’ was a two-party decison and no ‘big voice’ has been heard in the country condemning. It is as it should be.”
Fifty years ago this week, the Pacific Northwest was recovering from its “storm of the century,” but the world had narrowly escaped what could have been a nuclear storm of unimaginable consequences.
Charles William “Bill” Wiley Jr., an experienced bridge worker described as “very safety conscious,” fell from a platform under the midsection of the Lewis and Clark Bridge mid-day Sunday, Oct. 7.
A fellow construction worker called Cowlitz County 9-1-1 at about 11:25 a.m. and reported seeing Wiley fall from the bridge into the Columbia River.
A search began immediately but the missing man has not been found, and is presumed drowned. The search involved the Cowlitz and Columbia sheriffs’ office, the U.S. Coast Guard, local tug boats operators, a boat from one of the contractors working on the bridge and several private recreational boaters.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Department reported that the search was officially suspended at about 2:15 p.m. Monday. Cowlitz Dive and Rescue was on scene, but was not deployed due to the hazards in the immediate section of the river.
The sheriff deputies conducting the investigation inspected the site and interviewed people who were on the bridge working in the area where the worker fell. They said that the Wiley was working on a platform directly under the bridge when one of the workers looked over and saw him fall from the bridge.
It is still not exactly known how or why the safety equipment that Wiley was wearing did not prevent his fall. The Cowlitx County Sheriff’s Office will be coordinating the investigation with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
“There is nothing at the site where the worker fell from that sheds light on how or why the worker’s safety equipment did not prevent the fall.” said a statement released by the sheriff’s department
Wiley was 40 years of age, married and a resident of Mississippi. He was working for Odyssey-Geronimo JV out of Houston, Penn., which was rewarded the $33.7 million contract to repaint the bridge. “The company has been very cooperative with the sheriff investigators and has maintained contact with us.” stated a sheriff’s office spokesperson.
The sheriff’s office search coordinators have plans to continue the search/recovery for the victim.
They are asking that anyone who is out on the river and sees anything that may be related to this investigation to call the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at 360 577-3092.
Voters are encouraged to learn more about the candidates running for the Rainier City Council at a “Meet Your Candidates Forum” scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 18, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rainier Senior Center.
Incumbent Mike Avent is being challenged by Judith Taylor for Rainier city council position number two.
Council president Phil Butcher, who has served in position six, has filed against incumbent Bill Vilardi for position seven.
Steve Massey and Robert Piercy are running for position six.
The Rainier Senior Center, where the forum is being held is located at 48 West 7th St. west of the city park and marina.
by Adam J. Wehrley
In an e-mail which Rainier School District (RSD) Superintendent Michael Carter referred to as “unprofessional,” the Rainier school board was informed that Corbett High School is dropping out of the 2012 Lewis and Clark League varsity football season, giving Rainier players and coaches only three days notice of the cancellation of their game Thursday, Oct. 11.
Both Carter and Rainier High School (RHS) Principal Mark Bernhardt expressed disappointment that they were not given enough time to find a make up game and that with a bye next week, RHS will not have another opportunity to play before the homecoming game against Warrenton on Oct. 26.
Bernhardt stated that he would be filing a complaint with the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA). “We did not know about this until 2:50 Monday.” reported Carter.
The Corbett Cardinals are 0-5 for the season, losing by an average of 37 points per game according to the OSAA website. They were scheduled to play Clatskanie High School on Oct. 16.
Athlete Drug Testing Underway
In response to previous board questions, Rainier athletic director Graden Blue submitted a written report on Rainier Junior/Senior High School’s (RJSHS) mandatory drug testing program for school athletes which began in 2011.
Blue reported that last year, “Testing was temporarily suspended to make some necessary procedural adjustments, as a result some teams were not tested.”
Currently, all of the 109 varsity and junior varsity (JV) fall athletes have been tested as teams. Middle school drug testing and random drug testing have begun.
Veteran Granted Class of 1961 Diploma
The board granted a Rainier High School diploma to Robert E. Bowen who attended RHS in 1957-58 before dropping out to work and then enlist in the United States Navy. Bowen was on two vessels deployed in Southeast Asia during the early stages of the Vietnam War.
State ordinance allows districts to grant diplomas to veterans who left school to serve in the armed forces during times of war.
It was reported that Bowen plans to walk in the RHS commencement ceremony next spring with the class of 2013.
Joint Sharing Committee Drafts Directive
Board Director Dale Archibald reported on a Sept. 22nd joint sharing committee meeting with representatives of the Clatskanie School District (CSD).
Archibald presented a draft of a directive to both districts’ superintendents written by the joint committee. The draft document directs them to develop a unified block schedule, plans to allow for moving staff between districts, and a two-year plan for sharing.
The document states these goals are expected to be completed by the regularly scheduled school board meeting in February 2013.
Grow Healthy Kids Program Update Given
As part of a $4.8 million dollar research grant to Oregon State University (OSU) funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jenny Rudolph and Allison O’Sullivan of the OSU extension service gave a presentation on the Generating Rural Options for Weight-Healthy Kids & Communities (GROW HKC) program throughout Columbia County.
They reported that nation-wide studies show that 36 percent of rural children are obese compared to 30 percent of non-rural children. The purpose of the study was described as better understanding of life in rural communities, what barriers and supports exist to healthy life-styles, and how to prevent childhood obesity in rural communities.
It was reported that heights and weights of students at Hudson Park Elementary (HPE) were being recorded and that the researchers did not yet know how Columbia County students measured up against national averages.
The program is scheduled to continue for three years and include mapping recreational opportunities for kids throughout the county.
Pool, Softball, Energy Efficiency Projects Near Completion
After being closed for repainting since Aug. 20, the Braircliff pool is scheduled to reopen on Monday, Oct 15. Carter reported that refilling the pool was taking longer than expected due to the water shortage related to the dry weather, and that he was concerned that this would “cut into the revenue stream.”
He said that the project by the Rainier Youth Softball League to improve the softball complex had secured a donation of 100 yards of rock from various donors. He called the work “outstanding.”
Completion of the $980,907 McKinstry energy efficiency and upgrade project has been delayed to the end of October, but Carter said that he did not anticipate additional costs to the district.
Financial Report Given
RSD business manager Lil Guisinger reported that the district’s average daily membership was 55 students below 2011-12, although it is up 14 students from the beginning of the school year. The drop in enrollment is expected to cost the district in excess of $100,000 in state funding.
Carter suggested that the board consider the possibility of bonding the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) cost increases, which he described as “borrowing money against your debt at a cheaper debt rate.” He noted that a similar bonding had saved the district money in the past.
Trip to French Canada Planned
The school board approved a request from RJSHS French teacher Beth Bailey to plan a spring break trip to Montreal and Quebec, Canada. Bailey estimated the trip would cost students about $1100 if she hosted it, rather than the $2700 it would cost through an agency. She noted that the company which had hosted the student trips to France in recent years had raised its prices several times.
Bailey said she expects five or more students to attend, with the possibility of students from the international club joining.
The board unanimously approved the request, including $1000 to cover Bailey’s costs as chaperone. The participating students are responsible for their costs.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, the district’s Hudson Park Campus will host a cyclocross bike race. Besides the $1500 the district charges race organizers for the use of the campus, revenue is also generated by charging for parking and selling concessions to races and spectators.
Citing a need to meet with representatives of the teachers’ union, Carter requested the board delay making a decision on changes to the district’s personal communication device policy as recommended by the Oregon School Board Association.
RJSHS teacher Dale Taylor and Carter agreed to meet to discuss problems with the policy.
The board accepted a $14,673 grant from the Office of Safe and Healthy Students.
Following the public session, the board held a closed executive session in which contract negotiations, litigation and student discipline were discussed.
“Swing Fever” Opens CAC 24th Performing Arts Season Saturday
by Special Correspondent
Ernest A. Carman
“Swing Fever,” swinging since 1978, begins the Clatskanie Arts Commission (CAC) 2012-13 performing arts series on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Donavon Wooley Performing Arts Center at Clatskanie Middle/High School, 471 SW BelAir Drive.
A small swing band with a big band sound, “Swing Fever” performs 1930s and 40s jazz and has toured and recorded with renowned musicians, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, trumpeter Clark Terry, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco and vibraphonist Terry Gibbs.
Created and nurtured in the San Francisco Bay Area as a group dedicated to the music of the swing era, “Swing Fever” has persisted, somewhat against the grain, in its own piano-less swing style.
The band is renowned for its well-garnished vocals celebrating classic Gershwin and Ellington as well as jive.
Highlighting this show, part of the group’s October Northwest tour, will be California vocalist Denise Perrier. Known as “the voice with a heart,” Perrier has spent most of her 30-year career performing in the San Francisco Bay Area and touring Europe, Latin America and Asia. Harkening back to the time when a singer told the story and left the rest to the instrumentalists, Denise has a welcoming straight-ahead style, concentrating on the standards and adding blues and Latin for variety.
Honored as a California Arts Council touring artist in 1990, “Swing Fever” has a song list that includes “Straighten Up And Fly Right” by Nat King Cole in 1943, “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” by Cole Porter in 1942, “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington in 1931, “Route 66” by Bobby Troup in 1946, and “Take the ‘A’ Train” by Billy Strayhorn in 1941.
The band has played two recent concert tours in Alaska, and is a long time member of Western Arts Alliance.
Tickets, at $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens or students, and $5 for children five and under, are available at Some Like It Hot, 401 W. Columbia River Highway, in the Evergreen Shopping Center, or at the door a half hour before the show.
With sponsorship support from Kynsi Construction, a CAC spokesperson invites local residents to “catch Swing Fever” from this mix of rhythmic, romantic, torrid and witty music.
For more information about this and other CAC offerings call 503 728-3403 or visit www.clatskaniearts.org.