Dispatches Downstream – The Wahkiakum County Eagle

Today I hope you will pause and think of Wilho Saari de Naselle. He had a stroke and is now in hospice care at Columbia Memorial Hospital. He is a man who loves his family, Finnish music, children and Finland. He taught music, wrote a “melody every day” for many years, has CDs of kantele music, and shared his gift for the kantele with anyone who wanted to listen. I have fond memories of him playing the kantele at Deep River Church. Lord, hear our prayers.

Photo of the week: Gary Flood, director of Naselle Youth Camp, is a really nice guy. I spent an hour with him last Friday at school to learn about the school and the boys who were sent there by the Washington State Department of Corrections. Gary even invited my dog, Ben, to participate in the interview, which alone is a good indicator of how he treats the camp school students. The number of boys signed up varies from week to week, but at this point there are less than 40.

In years past, the number of registrations was much higher, up to 90. With today’s covid challenges, however, the numbers are lower. Boys are divided into three categories in the state: low risk, medium risk and high risk. At Camp Naselle, there are only low to medium risk boys, so the camp does not have a fence around the property. There are two lodges where the boys live and sleep and there is a cafeteria where they eat their meals. There is a nice little chapel on the grounds built by volunteers years ago. The very presence of this small building gives the boys and staff a heightened sense of community and family.

It is clear that Gary sees the school as a family for the boys with teachers and other staff playing the role of parents. When asked what he was most proud of there, his response was, “The staff, they’re the best. I’m glad I came to work here six years ago. I worked many years in public schools, but this one makes me proud. and hope for these students. They can graduate like in previous years, where we had up to 38 graduates. Or they can work for their GED (general education diploma) and move on. With seven teachers and approximately 35 students, classes are small and very productive for students. I am proud to be here to work with all of them.

At one time the Department of Natural Resources had a fire program, but it is no longer active here. Gary explained that having students in school all day rather than working during the day and having classes in the evening is easier for teachers and students. “We are now a day-only school which serves us well.”

Gary made a quick visit in recognition of the librarian and her program that does more than provide books. She is the orientation guide when new young people arrive. The open room in the center of the school has a long row of tables with computers where students can do their work and investigate possible careers and training schools or whatever they are considering for further education. There are two secretaries and a full-time adviser. Overall, the camp school is impressive for its campus and facilities, as well as the opportunities it provides for students. It was a joy to see him fulfill his mission so well. My dog, Ben, gave a few students a chance to just stand and watch him. He wasn’t allowed to interact with them, but they were clearly happy to watch him. Thank you to everyone who hosted me, and to Gary Flood for giving me the time to experience the youth camp.

Another success in the region is the Appelo Archives Center. Their last board meeting illustrated how busy they are and how well they serve the entire region. Resources include historical records and interviews with historical family members and those seeking more information about their family history. Their breakfasts and lunches are samples of good healthy food, well cooked in a quiet museum atmosphere that reminds me of the great museum cafes in Seattle and Tacoma. More and more work is being done to acquire gifts for the museum and books for the library. Don’t forget to renew your memberships now and continue to enjoy the member discount on sale items. You can find out more on their Facebook page anytime.

Events such as concerts are planned for March. The Finnish American Folk Festival will be held this summer at the end of July. It’s time for out-of-town visitors (and many visitors are already planning to come) to make their reservations to stay locally or on the Peninsula, or in Astoria. Plan ahead to spend more time visiting our historic sites.

Hunters Inn has changed hands. I had lunch there last week with my friend Anita Raistakka. I was so happy with the chicken salad I had. It was full of the best lettuce and the quantities were just right. They are open for breakfast on weekends, opening at 9am. During the week, they open at 11 a.m. Plenty of space for families to take grandma and grandpa for breakfast.

Denise Blanchard has returned from a long hospital stay, but she is improving day by day and we are delighted to have her home. I know his family is resting easier now.

Karen Bertroch

Flood damage undermined Covered Bridge Road near the residence of Tony and Qun Wang. The road is a dirty mess.

For those who would like to know what is going on at the Wahkiakum County Commissioners meeting, remember that you can hear and speak if you visit Zoom with your computer. Go to the county’s website and search for the meeting of commissioners. All you have to do is click on the long Zoom account web address and then enter the meeting code, which is also shown on their website. You can call instead if you want to use the number: 1-253-215-8782. Meeting ID: 880 972 233 and passcode: 721021. After the call to order of the meeting and the salute of the flag, they will approve or change the agenda and then there will be time for public comments. You are welcome at this time, so let them know your comments or questions by simply speaking up and saying your name during the public comment section following the opening at around 9:33 a.m. If the travel time is too long, or if you just don’t want to make the time to arrive before 9:30 am, just call and you can ask them your questions directly. We are fortunate that in our small riding we can speak directly to our commissioners, and they will listen.

The Senior Lunch Club meets on the first and third Wednesdays at noon at Rosburg Hall. A small donation gets you a wonderful home-cooked meal. On Thursdays at noon, CAP lunch boxes will be available at noon at Rosburg Hall. Call Denice at (360) 762-3111 to reserve box lunches.

Word of the week: Listen.

About Edward Fries

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