Memories of a bygone Columbia River lifestyle
Remember years back when our entire youthful summer vacations were spent in or near the Columbia River? We fished, swam, boated and rode logs. We used inner tubes to paddle to Sand Island and hoped for a ride back. It always seemed to work out.
We spent whole days swimming and picnicking on Columbia City Beach. We built beach fires and roasted hotdogs after dark. The road was a bit hazardous, but I can only remember one mishap when a young, just-licensed driver drove his parents' Buick Roadmaster over the edge of the road with the necessity of being towed.
I particularly remember this incident since my future husband and I were in the backseat.
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It begins in the British Columbia Rocky Mountains and flows approximately 1,243 miles to the Pacific Ocean. It is beautiful and magnificent and most of the people of Columbia County are fortunate to live within its influence.
At one time, we could walk with our daughter and our son from St. Helens to Columbia City on lovely river beaches with only one creek to cross.
This is what I really want to talk about — river access.
I still love the smell of the river and the spring fragrance from the cottonwoods growing along its shores. I just regret there is so little unlimited access to those shores.
I cannot watch the weekend fisherman on the docks behind the Columbia County Courthouse because those docks are coveted by large — really large — boats from upriver. I cannot walk between St. Helens and Columbia City now because of the private walkways to the river and the docks built for private use.
The Port of St. Helens unlocks the gates to their parking lot near Trestle Beach at 9 a.m. and locks these again at 7 p.m.
There go the beach fires, the roasted hotdogs and watching the sun rise up from the river. Walking from the Highway 30 access path under the Portland & Western Railroad trestle is a very long way for many of us.
Columbia City does have Pixie Park, which provides some access to the Columbia River. The park is flanked by two large homes reaching out over the publicly owned beach.
Dyno Noble stopped access over their land in approximately March because of damage to their dock property and illegal camping. They no longer even write permits for a walk across their property.
The Port of St. Helens is attempting to develop Clatskanie's Port Westward totally for industrial usage, thereby eliminating the farms now operating in that area and eliminating further access to the Columbia River. There are a couple of sensible Port commissioners against this move, so let's keep our fingers crossed.
So my last hope is the development by the city of St. Helens of the Old Mill Park property.
I was not able to make contact with the city manager but did speak with an employee who gave me the exciting news that there is the "possibility of swimming access in the concept plan" for this development, but not to count on it because the concept plan often changes.
We sold our boat years ago, and it appears we have sold our inherited rights to the Columbia River, also. I miss my river.
Pot farm on city property is a disservice
So now the city of St. Helens is basically in the pot business. The leaders should be just giddy that the city is now an enabler of a business that is dependent on addiction. A behavior that contributes nothing to the good of society.
You would think the city would at least have the company contribute to a recovery program for pot-dependent people within the goody bag of bribes that the company offered. A real moral service to the community by the city leaders, but — hey! — money trumps everything except the real costs, as in human costs.
In spite of the propaganda of the pot proponents, I have dealt with addicts for many years and every one used pot at some point in the staircase to addiction heaven — or, rather, hell.
Concerned about changes proposed for farmland
We are writing to express our concern that the Columbia County Board of Commissioners is moving toward approval of the rezone of 837 acres of land owned by the Port of St. Helens at Port Westward. The proposal is to convert, through rezoning, the agricultural land to rural industrial planned development (RIPD). The public hearing will take place Aug. 2 at the Clatskanie High School.
Here are the reasons we object to this rezone to industrial:
1. Loss of valuable agricultural land.
2. Increased traffic on Highway 30 and on the single rail line used to bring unknown commodities to rural Port Westward results in an increased risk to public safety.
3. Increased risk of pollution; specifically, the water table in the area is only 3 to 7 feet below the ground surface.
4. Few, if any, extra jobs will offset the increased traffic, risk to the environment and public safety. We feel the citizens of Columbia County deserve to know the full potential impact of rezoning. Once rezoned to RIPD, the agricultural land will be converted from farmland to industrial uses of unknown origin. As stated above, the high risks are not balanced by job growth.
Liz and Bill Byrd
To Sen. Betsy Johnson
I want to express my appreciation for your sponsorship of the Columbia County Fair. We moved to Scappoose two years ago and this is our first year attending the fair. Coming from Clackamas County the two fairs seem very different, but probably are very similar.
This year our two granddaughters are participating in 4-H at the ages of 9 and 6, so we have witnessed firsthand the wonderful educational experience in such programs. From the dog show to the chicken showings we watched an amazing amount of children work as leaders, presenters and overseers of the upkeep of the barns.
In the past year I have been reviewing the history found in volumes at the Watts House and the fair has been an integral part of the community for decades. Your sponsorship is an essential factor in making these experiences available to our youth and all those who attend.
We are building the future by bringing together people of all ages in support of one another. Thank you!