23 January 2013 by Published in: News No comments yet

MCT Presents “The Tortoise Versus The Hare” Friday and Saturday

DOZENS OF LOCAL CHILDREN AND TEENS from kindergarten through 12th grade, auditioned Monday for the Missoula Children’s Theatre production of “The Tortoise versus The Hare” which will be performed on the Clatskanie Middle/High School stage Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. See the accompanying story for more information. Chief Photo by Adam J. Wehrley

by Ernest A. Carman

Special Correspondent

An age-old favorite story, “The Tortoise vs. The Hare – The Greatest Race” comes to Clatskanie as the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) featuring over 50 local kindergarten through 12th grade students

Two performances are set for Friday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m., in the Donavon Wooley Performing Arts Center at Clatskanie Middle/High School, 471 SW BelAir Drive.

The plot unfolds somewhere in desert country where the inhabitants of West Sandy Bottoms are preparing for the highlight of their year – the annual race between the mammals and the reptiles.

As a company of strolling actors attempts to tell the tale in classical fashion, Philoh Ferret reminds all that his service station is for “mammals only.”  The Hare’s weasel managers brag about their racing star as the various reptiles assemble to choose their candidate.

Then the audience sees the race through the eyes of a TV news team covering the event and soon discovers that there is more than a sporting rivalry between the brown animals and the green animals. Loyalties to their specific colors create a real animosity among these creatures. But as the race proceeds, a tiny bunny is lost in the wilds of Tornado Gulch and color is forgotten as the mammals and reptiles join hands  in the search.

The wisdom of the old tortoise and the lesson learned by the feisty hare remind all that “color is just a color – it’s just decorated skin.” In the end, the animals realize the folly of their ways and live happily together in their sandy home.

For 23 years, the Clatskanie Arts Commission (CAC) has regularly partnered with MCT, the internationally-renowned touring children’s theatre program, whose mission is the development of life skills in children through participation in the performing arts.

Scripts are structured specifically for the MCT tour’s short rehearsal period that began on Monday. The plays are designed to recognize the needs of the individual child. Major roles are large, complex and challenging; ensemble parts emphasize unison songs, actions and movements suitable for even the youngest of children.  All this is accomplished through a special process known as formula directing.

MCT, the nation’s largest touring children’s theatre, has been active for over 40 years doing performances from their base in Missoula, Mont. to as far away as Osaka, Japan. They will visit nearly 1,200 communities this year with 30 teams of tour actor/directors.

Tickets are $5 for all ages for this youth interactive program offered under the sponsorship of the CAC in its on-going effort to provide a variety of entertaining programs and events which enrich the lives of the people of the Lower Columbia River region.

Tickets for the show are now available at Some Like It Hot coffee and tanning, 401 East Columbia River Highway, in the Evergreen Shopping Center, or at the door with the CAC box-office in the foyer of the auditorium, open a half hour before the show.

The Kiwanis Club of Clatskanie is sponsoring the elementary school workshops and student assemblies facilitated by the MCT touring group during their time spent working with children in the community. The performances also receive funding support from Portland General Electric through PGE’s Beaver and Port Westward plants.

For more information about this and other CAC offerings throughout the year, patrons are asked to call the commission at 503 728-3403 or visit their website at www.clatskaniearts.org.

Turning Point Welcomes New Director

by Cindy Bloomer

New Turning Point director Pandora Fasciana is settling into her role at the community service center in Clatskanie.

“Jumping in with both feet” is how Pandora describes her entry. She took the reins from long-time director Sandy Davis on Nov. 15, just in time to spearhead Turning Point’s biggest project of the year, distributing Christmas baskets of food and gifts to families in need.

“What a wonderful way to be introduced to a new area,” recalls Pandora, who moved here recently from Montana. She quickly got acquainted with many Turning Point volunteers and members of the community as she leaned on their previous experience to make the project go smoothly. “They have been patient with me,” she added.

She marveled to see how people pulled together to provide Christmas boxes to 129 households. Pandora emphasized, “I couldn’t have done it without all the wonderful people who helped. The volunteers are what really makes this place happen.”

Getting to know and better understand clients and their needs is something Pandora is looking forward to. “Sandy set a precedent and I hope I can fill those big shoes,” Pandora said.

Everybody has a unique story and a unique need. Those needs are not always for food, though food pantry services is usually what comes to mind when people think of Turning Point Community Service Center, said Pandora.

For instance, she relates an example of a man looking for help to dig mud out of his well, which was the result of heavy rains. She was able to refer him to Clatskanie Baptist Church’s “Handy Men for Christ” ministry and church volunteers were able to help him with a more permanent solution to a recurring problem.

Pandora likes being able to make a difference. She finds satisfaction in seeing faces transformed into smiles as people find hope for their situation. She sees herself as a matchmaker of sorts, listening to needs and working to provide help through the center or networking with members of the community to meet the need.

Already Pandora is looking toward the future. She is proud of how Turning Point has developed through the years and wants to see it continue to grow and serve the increasing needs of the community. Providing more services is her goal, along with a proactive, rather than reactive, approach. When it comes to hearing how Turning Point can improve, she’s “all ears.”

In addition to providing low-income households with monthly and emergency food assistance, Turning Point gives clothing vouchers for needy individuals to select items from the center’s thrift shop. Also distributed are bus transportation vouchers, rental assistance and firewood. Often they make photocopies free of charge for those who need to provide proof of identification or income for various reasons.

Turning Point serves as a facilitator for energy assistance and water discount programs, including the “Share the Warmth” program which helps families in the Clatskanie People’s Utility District pay their electric bills.

“We’re not just for low-income people – we’re here for everybody,” emphasized the new director, and “confidentiality is our number one priority.” She sees Turning Point as an organization which belongs to Clatskanie and its surrounding communities – neighbors helping neighbors.

Food drives and donations are an important component for Turning Point operations. Pandora explained that sometimes people don’t realize that the center purchases food in addition to what is provided through federal programs, and the support from food donations really helps them stretch the budget.

One area of particular need right now is rental assistance. Many of the agencies which help with this have depleted  their budgets, she explained. “I’ve had to turn people away,” she laments. She noted that if Turning Point has money that is designated for food, she can’t touch it for helping someone with rent.

The thrift shop at Turning Point, located at 220 E. Columbia River Highway, funds day-to-day expenses for the center such as rent and utilities. Merchandise offered for sale includes clothing, household items, books and an ever-changing array of items, all donated by the community. “We try to keep our prices low,” said Pandora, which becomes yet another way of serving the community.

Pandora never knows what a day at Turning Point will entail or what kind of request she will try to find an answer for, but she is alright with that. She likes the variety plus the opportunity to become a part of people’s lives.

“My job extends beyond the doors of Turning Point,” Pandora said. Whether it’s tranporting firewood or sharing her lunch table with someone who approaches with a friendly “I’ve been meaning to talk to you” – she thinks of it as another way of integrating into the community. She adds with a smile, “I just haven’t met an unfriendly person yet.”

The small town atmosphere of Clatskanie is a comfortable fit for Pandora, who moved from Hot Springs, Mont. with a population of just 500. She has lived in Florida, which she didn’t care for so much, and a number of other places across the country, where she worked in a variety of managerial positions and more recently as a librarian. But when she came to the Pacific Northwest, Pandora described the feeling as “coming home,” like she now knew what had been missing.

Pandora is anxious to experience more of the outdoors around the Clatskanie area. She loves to kayak and enjoys the inner peace she experiences when on the water. “Me and the water really connect,” Pandora said.Lately she has been eyeing the waterways with anticipation of warmer weather. Next on her list is finding a buddy with whom to go kayaking.

NEW TURNING POINT DIRECTOR Pandora Fasciana, who took over the position from retiring director Sandy Davis Nov. 15, settles into leading the organization into the new year. The transition came at Turning Point’s busiest season of the year as it coordinated the delivery of Christmas gifts and food to 129 local families. Chief Photo by Cindy Bloomer

United Way of Columbia County Strives to Reach Goal

United Way of Columbia County (UWCC) is still fundraising for much needed money to help support programs that are vital to the community, according to press release issued Monday.

To date, the United Way of Columbia County (UWCC) has raised just over 66 percent of its goal, having pledges or contributions of $201,304, compared to the goal of $312,013.

“We have a long way to go, but I know we can do it,” stated campaign chair Chris Kaleta “The people of Columbia County have shown their generosity on countless occasions and I don’t think this time will be any different.”

To make a donation or pledge to UWCC, persons may email director Kathye Beck at uwcc@hotmail.com, call 503 556-3614 or go to www.unitedwayofcolumbiaount.com and click on the donate button at the top of the page.

Donations and pledges to the community impact fund allow the volunteers the most freedom to fund where the needs are greatest, explained Beck “However, you may designate your pledge or donation to a specific not-for-profit if you wish.”

UWCC allocates donations in six focus areas: children and youth, emergency and basic needs, seniors, disabilities and special needs, the Catalyst Campaign to help rebuild the Vernonia school, “Stuff the Bus” to purchase school supplies for Columbia County students in need.

UWCC is preparing to begin the 2012-2013 allocation process, in which the volunteer board of directors determine what programs will receive additional funding from UWCC over and above the designations they receive directly from donor gifts.

Donations made prior to Feb. 28 will be included in this process.

The mission of United Way of Columbia County is “to improve the organized capacity of people to care      for one another” by uniting the resources of the community to identify and address the most pressing human needs.

For information on the various programs United Way helps to fund visit www.unitedwayofcolumbiacounty.com or call 503 556-3614.

School Board to Fill Vacancies, Name Interim Superintendent

Interviewing of applicants for two vacant positions on the Clatskanie School District board of directors, action regarding an interim superintendent, and an update on the damage to the Clatskanie Elementary School library are on the agenda of the Clatskanie school board for a meeting Monday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. in Room 107 of Clatskanie Middle/High School.

The public is invited to attend.

Also on the agenda is a time to hear comments from the public, a student body report, business concerning the education service district (ESD) local service contract, the budget committee and calendar.

Northwest Regional ESD Superintendent James Sager, who has been acting as Clatskanie superintendent for the past two weeks, will update the board on the CES library, which was heavily damaged by a broken water pipe discovered on Jan. 14. Sager has been heading the district temporarily since former Superintendent Mary Mitchell’s last day on Jan. 11. Mitchell resigned to accept a position as special education director of the St. Helens School District.

At Monday’s meeting, the school board is expected to take action on the hiring of an interim superintendent to lead the district for the remainder of the school year, and during the search for a new permanent superintendent.

An executive session to consider the employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent is planned during the meeting.

Other reports from Sager will include an update on shared services with Rainier and the completion of the transfer of ownership of the Community Education Center (old middle school and district office) to the Port of St. Helens.

Building administrator reports are also on the agenda.


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