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2021 Woodburn Independent headlines portray a growing region in flux while dealing with a pandemic and natural disasters.

Between the processes of handling pandemic-induced changes, adapting to abnormal natural disasters and forging ahead with new and developing resources, the Woodburn area endured a busy, albeit unusual, year in 2021.

The following are summaries of the Woodburn Independent's top headlines over the course of 2021, beginning on Jan. 6 and running through Dec. 29.


Looking ahead with optimism, St. Paul School District opens winter term with distance learning.

A passion for the game: Gervais-area writer David Espinoza pens historical account of the Oregon Latino Basketball Tournament.

Mount Angel Library gets exclusive STEAM grant: one of 12 rural communities in nation with sizable Latino populations to receive funding.

John's journey: Mount Angel community rallies behind family with son battling late-stage kidney disease.

Working through challenges in rural Oregon: As high school students juggle responsibilities of jobs or child care, one district tests evening tutoring.

Pandemic boosts pet adoptions: Interest in adopting pets increases while people are dealing with COVID isolation.

Tuning in from afar: Distance learning presents challenges, perhaps for music educators most of all.COURTESY PHOTO: WOODBURN SCHOOL DISTRICT - Woodburn High School Senior Adriana Loera plays 'Menuet from L'Arlesienne Suite No. 2' on the flute as part of the school's virtual winter concert., Woodburn Independent - News Distance learning provides challenges to develop lesson plans, perhaps none more so than for music educators Tuning in from afar

New faces in Woodburn government: Three city council members sworn in; mayor begins his second term.

Woodburn-area farmer elected chair of national panel: Jon Iverson to focus on engagement, mental health, farmer-rancher ties.

Agriculture and entrepreneurship: Gervais High junior Dresen Ferschweiler wows podcast interviewer.

North Marion auction is Web-ready: last year organizers had to move the school fundraiser online.

Cruisin' into choir class: Chemeketa music director uses cars, technology to allow singing in unison.

Legislation calls for halt to Aurora Airport expansion: State Rep. Neron sponsors legislation to stop expansion before more planning occurs.


Sidestepping a congestion headache: Woodburn council puts housing plans on hold until traffic mitigation is solved.

Facing financial challenges: Problems related to yearlong pandemic pose cash hurdles for city of Woodburn.

Board places Woodburn superintendent on leave.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Entry from Safeway parking lot onto Molalla Road (Highway 211) is one of the concerns Woodburn city councilors expressed regarding a nearby proposed annexation and apartment complex development., Woodburn Independent - News

Engaging in the arts: Woodburn student projects win Scholastic Art Awards.

Hubbard company reaches a metal-making milestone: The Ulven Companies celebrate 50 years of business in 2021.

Hundreds vaccinated in Woodburn: Salem Health and county administered COVID-19 shots with more forthcoming.

Focusing Vaccines in Woodburn: Legacy health center offers vaccines several days a week.

Elementary, my dear Watson: Sherlock Holmes visits Woodburn as thespians take on new challenges for winter production.

Ask the senator: Wyden sets Marion County Virtual Town Hall for Feb. 19.

Rent relief on its way: Woodburn first city in state to receive federal grant.

Thousands remain without power following ice storm: More than a week after freezing rain devastated Willamette Valley power grid, many residents continue to wait for electricity.

Why ice? While Willamette Valley gets snow occasionally, ice storms are more rare.

National Guard called in: Members to be deployed in Marion County to provide storm-related help.

Honoring our most Amazing Educators is today's good news: Inaugural section honors 25 people who make the world a better place for all.


How 'bout a hot meal? Woodburn volunteers provide breakfast for utility crews.

Storm prompts impromptu tree removal ordinance: Woodburn passes temporary ordinance to deal with damaged and dangerous trees.

PCUN receives $100K grant: Oregon Consumer Justice donates more than $1.7 million in trust-based community grants to 26 Oregon nonprofits.

Policing police: One officer's saga – from sitting on the board that oversees police conduct to his resignation under fire – highlights the need for reform.

A positive trend into 'high risk': Marion County enters slightly more relaxed pandemic climate.

Police Chief Ferris' retirement is official: Woodburn Deputy Police Chief Marty Pilcher is serving as the city's acting chief.

Annexation spurs second Safeway exit idea: Ideas offered to ease traffic that would arise from 220-unit apartment complex.

Tending to the trees: Ice storm damage impacts hazelnut yields, making cleanup vital.

Providing guidance at Gervais High: Coordinator Kate Talbot helps students proactively prepare for college career.

Comcast eyes Woodburn, surrounding area: Internet, cable TV provider makes pitch to city councils to provide services.

Bringing Germany to the valley: Proprietors fete five years operating Touch of Bavaria in Mount Angel.

Riding milestones: Roy Thompson of Woodburn celebrated his 80th birthday and 70 years as the proud owner of a Schwinn bicycle.

Transitioning with technology: Gervais district to apply technology for safety as part of its learning transition.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Roy Thompson of Woodburn, who turned 80 on March 18, shows the vintage Schwinn bicycle he received on his 10th birthday., Woodburn Independent - News

Woodburn endorses bill on clean energy: Legislation geared toward cities' energy-decision autonomy.

Comcast is coming: Council adopts agreement so company could offer service as infrastructure is built.

New connectivity option in the air: Woodburn library joins others in making mobile hotspots available.


Governor greets Woodburn students: Brown visits Lincoln Elementary as students return to hybrid in-person learning.

Woodburn annexes southwest acreage: Annexation yields more industrial-use land in Woodburn.

Woodburn Fire District places bond on the ballot: 20-year bond that funds capital costs to be decided by voters in spring primary.

Champions! North Marion girls soccer team made program history, defeating the Marist Spartans 6-5 on penalty kicks.

Calling for shots: Mobile clinics in rural areas help distribute vaccines more equitably.

Woodburn SD superintendent takes legal step: Woodburn schools chief files tort claim notice with board.

Respite for cyclists: Aurora installs bike hub on Second Street off Highway 99E.

Woodburn seeks new police chief: City begins process for find replacement for recently retired leader Jim Ferraris.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - North Marion High School junior and FFA member Sydney Bircher waters plants in the schools new greenhouse., Woodburn Independent - News

Woodburn School Board's 'quiet' is disquieting: Teacher association demands disclosure in superintendent case.

A growing education: Through fundraising and some helping hands, North Marion FFA realized a spacious new greenhouse.

Woodburn School District Board votes to terminate superintendent: Noemi Legaspi is lone vote in favor of keeping Oscar Moreno Gilson.

Technology abates pandemic obstacles on campuses: Gervais has kept staff, students safe with contact tracers.

Surplus store opens at former Wallace Video: Hubbard resident Tammy Flora channels passion into new business.

Projectile shot from rifle kills one pet, wounds another: St. Paul family alerts police after second pet cat is shot.


Council gives nod to new development: Woodburn annexes 31 acres north of town, approves 'Dove Landing' planned unit development.

Federal funds may help restore city services: Woodburn stands to receive $5.36 million from American Rescue Plan.

Extreme risk classification declared: As case numbers climb, Marion County moves to extreme risk for COVID-19.

Woodburn keeps pace in challenging pandemic times: State of the City address packs plethora of positives into short video.

A pioneer in her community: CCC board member Irene Kovev hopes more Russians run for leadership posts.

Court moves airport case to county: Request to move it to state Court of Appeals denied.

School district narrows superintendent search: Mount Angel residents meet final two candidates.

Gervais council mulls police agreement with Donald: Vote postponed following abrupt resignation of council president.

Housing changes on the horizon: 2019 bill allows more multi-family structures in neighborhoods.

WHS Art Fest slated: Art, music and theater students to showcase talents at outdoor event.

Shooting, kidnapping in Gervais leads to shootout in Silverton: Two injured, one critical after Woodburn man charged with attempted murder.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Cole Beyer shot a three-under 68 at the 4A state championship showcase on May 18, forcing a sudden death playoff with Tillamook sophomore Elliott Lee who finished tied with Beyer after 18 holes. Beyer sunk a six-foot birdie putt on the second hole of the playoff to win the title outright, becoming the second golfer in Woodburn history to win an individual golf championship., Woodburn Independent - Sports Bulldog senior wins sudden death playoff, becomes second player in school history to win individual golf title Woodburn's Beyer wins 4A golf championship

A community in mourning: Gervais community rallies around family of slain teen.

Election: Fire bond passes with overwhelming support; Woodburn School District incumbents lead across the board.

Historic: Cole Beyer's three-under score of 68 was two strokes off the best single-day score in 4A championship history, tying for seventh all-time.

He lived life the way we all should: Former Woodburn Chamber director Harry Lee Kwai remembered fondly.


Gervais School District welcomes new student officer: Student Services Officer Tim West sworn in at May council meeting.

Redemption: Kennedy Trojans complete undefeated season with emphatic 16-0 win over Grant Union in 2A softball championship.

Traffic concerns remain after council OKs housing complex: Shopping center owners reject additional driveway to ease traffic flow.

MASD hires new superintendent: Superintendent Rachel Stucky has broad experience, including administrative work.

Cultivating a love for reading amid COVID-19: North Marion school names top 10 Battle of the Books readers.

Class dismissed: Woodburn High celebrates graduating Class of 2021.

Alma Awards given: Woodburn Chamber of Commerce honors Larios, Wells and Swanson.

Rodeo is a go, but capacity is in limbo: St. Paul rite returns after one-year layoff due to pandemic.

Woodburn Fire District anticipates new bond projects: Increased staffing, replacing apparatus top priorities in district.

Mount Angel Fire PIO receives statewide recognition: John Rossi receives Golden Spark award from fire marshal.

Small town, big problems, creative answers: Pandemic hit Gervais hard, worsening disparities in educational success for students of color.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - The Gervais girls basketball team finished the shortened 2021 season with a 12-0 record, including a 49-41 victory over Salem Academy in the championship game of the 2A showcase tournament at Ridgeview High School on Saturday., Woodburn Independent - Sports Cougars complete undefeated season to win third title in program history 'We finally did it': Gervais girls are 2A state champs

Aviation board accepts funding for Aurora plan update: Lawyer requests board move ahead on disputed runway extension project.

Ryan Smith takes Love INC reins: Resignations spur leadership change at Woodburn nonprofit.

JFK Graduation Day: Kennedy Class of 2021 celebrates commencement.

Survey examines police in schools: Woodburn district poll sees mostly favorable views about resource officers.

Gervais ends police contract with Donald: Council votes 3-2 in favor of not renewing deal that is set to expire June 30.

Coming home to unexpected family reunion: North Marion father reunites with Woodburn family following eight-month deployment in Middle East.

Storybook ending: The Gervais girls basketball team celebrates after winning the program's third state championship in school history; the 2021 Cougars join the 1994 and 1988 teams.

A pediatric pillar hangs up stethoscope: Richard Steinberg to retire from clinic he founded in 1975.


Food Bank mural completes creative collaboration: Visitors to AWARE greeted in multiple languages, thanks to Oregon Youth Authority.

Amazon Woodburn fulfillment center boosts local employment: Online retailer's new development expected to bring hundreds of jobs as it serves Willamette Valley customers.

Alma awards pivot this year: A handful are recognized for adapting well in the pandemic culture.

Heatwave sparks state workplace emergency rules: Oregon OSHA adopts rule to protect workers from dangers of high and extreme heat.

County fair game picks up STEAM: Marion County's 2021 fair served up educational tidbits.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Addi Arnzen, 14, of the Gervais FFA prepares for the swine show in the animal bard at the Marion County Fair Friday, July 9, 2021. This years fair will feature different animals each day. , Woodburn Independent - News

New Love INC director counts on frontline experience: Ryan Smith puts Navy experience to work toward nonprofit's growth.

Local firefighters battle blazes in Oregon, Washington: Woodburn and Hubbard districts sending crews as wildfires spread.

City mulls new rules for middle housing: Like other cities around Oregon, Woodburn will have to make adjustments to comply with housing density regulations.

Woodburn pharmacist stresses vaccines: Adrian Contreras advocates vaccinations for the hesitant, especially since his life has been affected by COVID-19.

New store paints a booming picture: Miller Paint opens small operations in Woodburn, Battle Ground, Washington.

Time for a Fiesta! Meet the court as the Fiesta Mexicana returns to Woodburn.

Fleshing out the Metropolis: Several new eateries have Woodburn's Metropolis hopping.

Woodburn caregivers awarded: French Prairie rehab center garners national recognition.

New firefighters arrive in Woodburn: Woodburn district adds two firefighter paramedics July 21.


WSD board gives Larios the nod: WSD Interim Superintendent Juan Larios will continue in his current position.

Doggone good time! Rose City Classic draws thousands of dog enthusiasts to the St. Paul Rodeo grounds.

River floaters stranded on gravel bar: Woodburn woman, friend rescued from Willamette July 29.

City addresses tree-removal fines: Woodburn takes steps to strengthen city ordinance for unlawful cutting of trees.

A night out with neighbors: Public safety crews visit with citizens as part of National Night Out event.

Wary farmworkers greet new safety rules with applause, skepticism.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Checking it out: Aurora Fire with its rigs and apparatus provided a popular attraction to the community celebration Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021., Woodburn Independent - News

Fiesta spins a colorful city block party: Annual Fiesta Mexicana parades through town as region eases out of pandemic doldrums.

Renters hurt by fires, COVID to get help: Marion County has access to federal funds to help households behind on rent.

County prefers local discretion on masks: Scoffers speak out at meeting; BOC passes resolution opposing school mandate.

A night out on the town: Aurora hosts casual celebration Saturday with meals, music and merriment.

Tougher tree ordinance passes: Woodburn City Council approves stiffer penalties for wanton scofflaws.

Dual enrollment program gets a boost: Chemeketa to boost programs for students facing transition barriers.

Keeping AWARD moving forward: Woodburn food bank forges on with helping hand from city after fire leaves building unsafe.

Oregonians Flight for Freedom: Bourrie book looks back at historic trip by residents who went to New York to offer solace in wake of 9/11 attacks.

Mt. Angel blacksmith shop gets grant to begin repairs: Family members plan to form nonprofit to gather donations.


Marion County steps up COVID-19 outreach: Woodburn Ambulance receives a piece of Marion County's allotment for front-line efforts.

Connecting community with resources: Woodburn's Community Connection Day had two firsts: a Kids Fest addition and a Legion Park hosting.

Fall sports are BACK: Athletic contests resume after COVID-stunted season.

Rapid-fire responses: Student firefighters were the very first to respond to last month's food bank fire.

New year on the horizon: North Marion School District event kicks off 2021-22 school year.

Addressing mental health & suicide: Mental health officials underscore importance of suicide prevention.

PCUN joins vaccine equity campaign: Marion County approves $195,415 for COVID outreach effort, inoculations.

Oktoberfest is on tap: Planners in Mount Angel are determined to make a go of the Oktoberfest this year.

Native practice may be key to curb devastating fires: prescribed burning was used by indigenous peoples for generations.

Teachers, students welcome new year: North Marion district students return to classes following the extended layoff.

Charting a career course: Many WHS students explore Willamette Career Academy opportunities.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - The U.S. and Mexican flags are trotted down 1st Street for Woodburns Hispanic Heritage celebration Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021., Woodburn Independent - News Rains couldn't dampen the spirit of Woodburn's Hispanic Heritage celebration Saturday Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: Rain couldn't dampen spirits at Woodburn's cultural celebration.

Parking lot sale boosts American Cancer Society.

Stocking up the food bank: The Keizer Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints shipped in a truckload of food for distribution at Woodburn's AWARE Food Bank.

Help wanted! Shortage of bus drivers, substitute teachers leave districts challenged.

Woodburn to honor fallen firefighters: Woodburn Fire District will take part in the Fallen Firefighters National Memorial Weekend.

Former superintendent sues Woodburn School District: Oscar Moreno Gilson filed a lawsuit on Sept. 20, alleging wrongful dismissal.


New service options forge into area: Comcast regales its first customer as new services hook up in Hubbard.

Sidewalk repair program: Woodburn looks to make good on sidewalk repair reimbursement goal.

Green-lighted development: Amazon goes full tilt building Woodburn fulfillment center.

Armed robbery suspects sought: Woodburn Police respond to armed robbery at Woodburn Premium Outlet Stores Friday.

Gubernatorial candidate visits Woodburn, Hubbard: One of nine Republican candidates toured Woodburn-area businesses Monday.

An AVID interest in education: North Marion makes use of national program.COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - AVID students at North Marion Middle School listen to Teacher/ AVID Instructional Coach Chelsea Landry detail the next lesson one September morning. From left to right are seventh-graders: Bryan Morales Rodriguez, Trenton Righter, Victoria Valenzuela, and Eman Hussein., Woodburn Independent - News

Mount Angel fire destroys four structures: Firefighters from multiple districts were deployed early Saturday morning to battle a blaze that engulfed prominent Mount Angel buildings.

Pilcher officially sworn in as chief: Woodburn's deputy police chief proves to be top candidate.

Rhoades joins North Marion High School: Former Woodburn School District interim superintendent takes on a position at NMSD.

Go play, county style: Some of them are obscure and out of the way, but county parks in Yamhill and Marion counties offer delightful variety to the region.

Fortifying the fire department: Woodburn Fire District has seen incremental increases in emergency calls since 2013.

Published! Woodburn High School students among those published in anthology.

Running free again: Beloved annual fun run returns to North Marion School District.

Tax time: Property tax statements have been mailed; taxes due Nov. 15.


What if there were no local reporters?

Legion Park improvements will begin in April: Woodburn grants next phase Legion Park upgrades to Hellas Construction.

WHS to stage Noel Coward's 'Blithe Spirit': Woodburn HS Theatre thrilled to re-open doors first time since pre-pandemic.

Fed funds, Woodburn to help neediest: Nonprofits and charitable outfits received vital boosts as the city of Woodburn revealed its American Rescue Plan Act funding allotments.

Preserving cultural heritage: Oregon Cultural Trust grant will help Friends of the Bungalow Theatre preserve a historic piece of downtown Woodburn.

Woodburn's oldest park to get makeover: What will the remodeling of Legion Park bring to Woodburn's residents?

NMSD celebrates its principals: North Marion School District takes National Principals Month to heart by celebrating seven individuals.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - A grant of more than $24k will help Friends of the Bungalow Theatre preserve an historical part of Woodburn's downtown., Woodburn Independent - News

One-stop shopping for jobs: Woodburn Economic Development Department partners with regional cities and businesses to create an employment hub.

Meet new faces on the North Marion School board: Air Force veteran among several new to the NMSD board.

County to business: Expand now, taxes can wait; New state program helps re-incentivize agrarian investments by setting aside some property taxes for three years.

Opinion boosts Dems' congressional redistricting plan: Panel considers statement, GOP challenge, to new map by Democrats.

Devising a Brooks-Hopmere Plan: Marion County dedicates resources to help guide a very busy and growing unincorporated corridor.

'I'd give it a 10': Supportive classrooms are assets this fall as students return after long hiatus.

Advocate for equity: Bill Graupp among 'new' North Marion School District board members.

'Day of Giving' upcoming: Woodburn Fire District takes lead, take donations to help Love Santa.


DA: Accused Woodburn man died by suicide: Suspect in kidnapping, murder hanged himself earlier this year.

State Park improvements slated in 2022: Champoeg and Silver Falls state parks authorized for capital improvements.

Goddard continues to be a community leader: New NMSD board member also served city councils in Wilsonville, Aurora.

WFD promotion: Woodburn Fire District promoted Mitchell Raines to lieutenant in November.

Ag workers go 'Mano a Mano': Farmworkers file court petition in effort to win overtime pay.

Woodburn man found guilty: Jury convicts Gypsy Joker Outlaw Motorcycle Club members on racketeering.

Clogging with confidence: Area dance students delight in clogging, help with community service.

A visit to a high school classroom: Dynamic lessons include some singing, math Jeopardy! In North Marion classroom.

Students make the cut: Woodburn High School woodshop class builds picnic tables for use at school.COURTESY PHOTO: NADIA MAKSIMOV - Woodburn High School Mariachi band plays in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall lobby prior to a featured holiday concert 'A Very Merry Christmas Concert with Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández.', Woodburn Independent - News Woodburn High School Mariachi band had a memorable trip to Portland on Wednesday Mariachi at the Schnitzer

Skyrocketing prices for a pad: Already high and rising, rental costs increased another 14% in Oregon during 2021.

Visit to intermediate school class setting: Cause and effect lessons in intermediate class at school.

Gentle signs in difficult times: North Marion PTO advances mental-health support, suicide awareness.

Mariachi at the Schnitzer: WHS band's memorable trip to Portland.

Woodburn district's major makeovers wind down: Facilities supervisor reflects on major improvements as the projects from the 2015 bond wind down.

City agrees to support extreme-weather shelter: Woodburn will cover some operational costs of operating the emergency center during inclement weather.

Visit to a middle school classroom: 'I really didn't know the meaning of school, and now I do' student says.

Reforming Woodburn High School: Academy system that's operated for 15 years will change in fall 2022.

Charting NMSD's course to the future: Advocates for North Marion district convene to discuss direction, complexion.

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