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City signs agreement to maintain Peace Candle as neighboring barn is demolished

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The barn next to the Peace Candle in Scappoose has been demolished. The Peace Candle will remain intact thanks to an easement agreement between the city and WDC, the developers building an apartment complex on the property.The Peace Candle, which celebrated 49 years standing by Columbia River Highway this month, will stay intact and in place thanks to an agreement between the city of Scappoose and new developers.

WDC Properties, the development company which purchased the property, has proposed building an 80-unit apartment complex for the site.

The Scappoose City Council approved an agreement with WDC at the council's May 4 meeting, which will allow the city access to maintain the Peace Candle in its original location, even though the property is privately owned.

When the property sale was first reported in the Columbia County Spotlight, many in the community voiced concern for the future of the Peace Candle. When the old barn next to the candle was demolished this month, some were again dismayed by the leveling of long-standing structures to make way for new residences.

Jennifer Herbert-Pugsley, a member of the Columbia County Museum Association's board of directors, acknowledged that the property had been up for sale for years.

"I'm a real estate broker, that's my business, so you'd think I want lots of development, but I don't," Herbert-Pugsley said. "But the property was on sale for a long time and no one jumped on it, so shame on all of us."

The property was owned by the Grabhorns, who maintained the Peace Candle for years. Janet Grabhorn declined to comment on the property sale.

The city will now be responsible for maintaining the candle. City Planner Laurie Oliver said the city's proposed budget for 2020-21 includes $50,000 for maintenance of the Peace Candle.

Maintenance in future years is not expected to be as expensive.

Initial repairs would include "structural repair to the top of the Peace Candle where the flame is attached, replacement of the flame, new signage, electrical work, lighting, paint, and landscaping," a staff report to the Scappoose City Council explained.

"We've had a tremendous outpouring of people grateful that the candle is going to stay," WDC founder Mark Madden said.

Madden said he hopes to obtain permits to start construction this summer on the newly named Candlelight Apartments. Building the 80 units — mostly two bedroom apartments, with a couple dozen one bedroom units — will take 12 to 14 months, Madden said.

In recent months, the Columbia County Museum Association has been mapping historic barns across Columbia County. Well over a decade ago, the county contracted with a historian to create a list of historic properties, but that list has sat mostly untouched in a binder for years.

Herbert-Pugsley said the museum association has been mapping the properties, and more work for historical preservation is ahead. The dairy-barn-turned-candle-factory on the Peace Candle property is one of two memorable barns that were torn down in recent months, Herbert-Pugsley said.

The Peace Candle of the World was built by the Brock family, who owned the Western Candle company located in Scappoose. The candle was originally constructed with a wick and wax poured over a grain silo, but it was eventually coated in a cement mixture and paint, and a electric flame replaced the wick.


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