All posts by Bill Langmaid

Right Mate – Let’s Play Futbol!

“Right, Mate—Let’s Play Futball!”


            “Grab that gear from the boot!”

                “Right, once around the grid you go!”

                “Your not telling us any porkies, are ya?”

                “That was a brilliant, Riri!”

 SoccerTorres2           Those were some of the strange phrases heard on the Vernonia school field a few weeks ago, as the Vernonia Soccer Club (VSC) spent a week training with Jack Walsh and Tim Drohan.   Walsh and Drohan are two young gents from England who spent the week schooling Vernonia youth in soccer skills, training drills and soccer (or as they like to call it, futbol) culture. It was all part of the Challenger Soccer Camp hosted by VSC.

            Challenger Soccer Camps provide a British style, day camp experience that teaches young soccer players new skills and builds confidence, while having fun at the same time. In Vernonia, about twenty-five players ranging in age from four to twelve participated.

            Not only did the students learn discipline and how to dribble, trap, shoot and head the ball, they also learned about the English Premiership (the top league in England), Major League Soccer (the top league in the United States) and about some of the most famous soccer players in the world.   And they learned lots of British slang and soccer terms along the way.

            The puzzled looks from the kids when they were first told to get on the “pitch” or tuck in their “kit” were priceless, but they sure caught on quickly, especially when they had to run around the “grid” or do pushups when they didn’t hustle or were caught fooling around. By the end of the week, four year olds were sprinting across the “pitch” to avoid punishment.

            Don’t get the wrong idea; this was not like boot camp. A little discipline seemed to work for the kids and the players really seemed to enjoy their time with their new English friends. Besides using games to teach skills, and scrimmages for practice, the coaches gave many of the kids nicknames and played elimination trivia games to teach them more about the world of soccer.

            “What country is Lionel Messi from—Portugal, Spain, Argentina, or England?” (Messi, considered the world’s best player, plays for Spanish club Barcelona, but is from Argentina. Those that answered England were greeted in mock disbelief by Walsh: “Lionel Messi!—does that sound English to you? Tim Drohan? Jack Walsh? Lionel Messi!? Right, you’re out!”

            It was all in fun and the kids really enjoyed working with such knowledgeable coaches, and learning the slang and soccer terms. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing kids around Vernonia in the next few weeks constantly saying “Brilliant!”

            At the end of camp, each player received an individual evaluation from Coach Jack and Coach Tim. One of the young girls was having trouble reading the handwriting on her evaluation and asked Tim to read it to her. Another girl stood in line behind her. “Can you read mine too, please,” she asked after Tim read the first card. “I know what you wrote; I just want to hear you say it.” she said.

            After working with the kids, Walsh and Drohan held a two hour Coaches Clinic on the last day of camp for adults who want to coach Vernonia youth. “We’ll teach them basic warm ups, basic drills—footwork, positional play–so they can improve the kids,” says Walsh.

            It’s a great trade off. For the young English coaches, the Challenger camps are a fun way to spend the summer, traveling the United States and teaching American kids about the game of soccer.

            “It’s a really good experience, you get to see the world,” explains Walsh about working for Challenger. “I could come over here and get paid to coach soccer or work in the supermarket at home.”

            Hope to see you on the pitch this summer!

Vernonia Golf Course is ready for another season

Now that the sun is back and the weather is warming up, it’s time to dust off those golf clubs and hit the links again. And the Vernonia Golf Club is just the place to head.

            Owners, and brothers, Nick and Bob Zavales took over the nine-hole club two years ago and have been doing a great job sprucing up the place and getting ready for another great season.

            Bob and Nick say the course is in “phenomenal shape” right now; the greens are alive and putting really well and things are dry throughout.

            During the winter of 2012 the Zavales’s thinned a number of large trees which opened up the course quite a bit and allowed a lot more sunlight to reach the grass and dry things out. “Our regular players tell us it’s a big improvement,” says Nick. A new gravel cart path was another major improvement. Some newly installed culverts have also helped improve drainage.

            The club has hosted several tournaments including the annual “Midnight Madness” tournament on July 3rd. Play starts at dark with glow-in-the-dark balls and has been a highlight of each of the past two seasons. The Vernonia Rural Fire Volunteers will also hold their fundraising tournament on the Sunday of Jamboree weekend, starting at 7:00 AM.

GolfClub1            A Men’s Club continues to meet every Wednesday evening, a chance to play with locals and other players. The Club also hosted the Vernonia High School Golf Team for practice all season.

            You don’t have to play golf to enjoy the Vernonia Golf Club. The Club House is seeing a lot of activity. The restaurant features breakfast and lunch as well as a full dinner menu on Friday nights, including steak, seafood, pasta and prime rib. The regular menu has burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chicken strips and other items. They are currently serving beer and wine. The clubhouse is also available for private parties, including class reunions, family gatherings, business meetings and more.

            Prices to play remain a great deal: $12 for nine holes, $20 for eighteen on weekdays; $14 and $24 on weekends; $2 off for seniors and junior players. Pull carts and power carts are available for rent.

            Memberships are also available: $550 for an annual unlimited membership, $950 for a couple, (and you don’t have to be man and wife, so grab your buddy, sign up and save a few bucks!) $400 for weekdays only, non-resident outside thirty miles is $475.

            The course is in great shape, the restaurant and bar are open and the weather is great. So head out the Vernonia Golf Club and enjoy!


The Vernonia Golf Club is located at 15961 Timber Road, Vernonia OR. Phone them at 503-429-6811

Vernonia Volunteer Ambulance Association

VVAA1One interesting aspect of small town life is that the idea of neighbors helping neighbors extends to our emergency services. In cases where medical support is necessary, be it due to a fall, car crash, or outdoor accident, the ambulance and fire apparatus will be staffed with both paid and volunteer staff. Our emergency services are provided by the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District (VRFPD) and the Vernonia Volunteer Ambulance Association (VVAA).  Both are located at 555 E Bridge St.  Though ambulance and fire are separate departments, they work together as a team.

At the fire station, the Medic’s private living quarters are located on the second floor with a living room, charting computer, 2 bedrooms, showers, Wi-Fi and TVs with satellite service. There is also a small kitchen located in the ambulance bay.

The VVAA is unique in that it is sponsored by Metro West Ambulance (MWA), allowing for advanced medical care and state of the art equipment about 40 miles away from the nearest Hospital.  MWA supplies Vernonia with a fully stocked ALS ambulance, a paid Paramedic (24/7) and a paid EMT Basic (M-F, 6am-4pm). The remaining hours, 4pm-6am and all weekends, are covered by our dedicated volunteers.

Ambulances are stocked similar to those in Washington County with the addition of an Easy IO drill.   Vernonia operates under Washington County protocol and MRH.  They run a type 2, 4X4 ambulance as terrain and weather can be extreme.  A second ambulance is occasionally available and can be managed by 2 EMTs whenever needed.

Emergency Services played a vital role in protecting and sustaining our small town during 2 catastrophic floods and multiple extreme snow storms.

If an MWA employee wants to come out and experience rural EMS by helping to fill shifts, they need the approval of the Vernonia supervisor, Jeff Mathia. ‘You do not need to be a VVAA member, but may want to join after taking part in this unique, rural EMS experience!’

To become a member of the VVAA, prospects are made employees of MWA, ifVVAA2 they aren’t already. They must meet all requirements; background check, driving record, drug testing, continued education (CE), certification and other code of conduct required by MWA.    They must also attend 2 business meetings or 2 drills and be voted on by the other members after all requirements are met. Meetings are 1st Tuesday of the month; drills are the 3rd Tuesday of the month, but prospects should call in advance as drills have been known to change.

Volunteers can be Paramedics, EMTs, drivers or fund raising/support staff. The VVAA has a Chair, Co-Chair, secretary, treasurer and Sergeant of Arms.   All positions are elected by the members.

EMT certified members must dedicate 24 hours per month to shifts in a schedule book.  These hours are made to be as flexible and as convenient as possible. Shifts are available in 6 hour blocks on up to a 24 hour weekend shift to get your commitment done at once.  Current out of town members use volunteer hours for study and reading as call volume varies from an average 7-10 calls per week.

Though volunteers are unpaid for shifts, a transport will earn you $25.  There are often paid opportunities working out of town, such as the Races in St. Helens during the summer or concerts and events at the Moda Center in Portland year round.

Pagers, uniforms, EMS polo and 1/4 zip sweat shirts are provided.  Other benefits to members include CE classes (3rd Tuesday of the month), paid re-certification, EMT basic course paid with completion, award banquet, specialized logo T shirts, personal tactical items and of course BBQ’s! Members, who show excellence by taking extra shifts, helping with fund raising events and covering 2nd out emergencies, receive gift cards, challenge coins and possible EMS Conference and lodging, all paid for!  There is an Oregon State Rural EMT tax credit of $250/year available for volunteers who meet requirements.

If you have a desire to serve the community and would like to learn how to help someone in a medical emergency, the Vernonia Volunteer Ambulance Association, in partnership with Metro West Ambulance, offers an opportunity to save a life and change yours.

Feel free to attend one of our business meetings to ask questions and meet our volunteers.

Vernonia Celebrates Opening of New School

“I cannot tell you how proud I am to be an Oregonian because of this community. You are what Oregon is all about.”

                ~ Former Oregon Governor, Ted Kulongoski


                It was a day for happiness. It was a day for smiles. It was a day for a few tears of joy. But most of all it was a day for celebration.

            On August 21, 2012 the new Vernonia School was officially dedicated and opened.   The events included speeches and tours of the new facility and also took time to thank all those who have had a hand in making this dream a reality. The day was filled with visiting dignitaries from government, business and philanthropy, including several US and Oregon Senators and Representatives and a former Oregon Governor.


            “It’s a great day to be a Logger and a great day to be in Vernonia!”

               ~ US Senator, Ron Wyden


            The day of celebration began at 9:00 AM with a short presentation inside the building. This was followed by the official Grand Opening Celebration at 10:00 AM in front of the new building with speeches by former Governor Ted Kulongoski, US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, US Representative Suzanne Bonamici, County Commissioner Tony Hyde and more. The biggest round of applause was reserved for State Senator Betsy Johnson, who has championed this project from the very beginning.


            “In 2007 when Vernonia was in ruins, some people said, ‘Who cares! Give it up! Move to town! Send the kids to Hillsboro or Scappoose or Forest Grove! Rebuild someplace else!’ And you Vernonia didn’t! We fought back, and here it is—your new schools!”

                ~ Oregon State Senator, Betsy Johnson


            The opening of the new school facility was a tribute to the many sectors that worked together to accomplish this goal, including the creation of an Oregon Solutions team by then Governor Kulongoski. The infusion of local, state and federal funding played played a significant role. Fundraising efforts, both big and small kept the campaign to replace Vernonia’s schools moving along, including donations from philanthropic organizations, private business and efforts by local students and citizens.


            Today V is for Vernonia. Today V is for vitality. Today V is for a valediction to churning flood waters claiming your schools, your homes and your businesses. Today V is for victory and for Vernonia.

                ~ President and CEO of The Ford Family Foundation, Norm Smith


            The facility is beautiful both inside and out. The wood siding, local materials and the upright cedar logs that tower over the main lobby and the wood benches both inside and out are a testament to the history of the community. The computer labs, natural lighting and energy efficiency and sustainability features speak to the modern design that has been incorporated into the construction. The new natural resources curriculum that will use the building as a working laboratory is a look towards the future.   The facility will house grades K-12 in an innovative approach to cost savings and a new educational model. It is designed with the capacity to expand and hold up to 1000 students.


            “This school is model of sustainability but the people of Vernonia are a model of what can happen when we work together. You should all be very proud – you’re an inspiration.”

                ~ US Representative, Suzanne Bonamici


            The school building was designed to achieve LEED certification and to be a model which incorporates human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality into its design and uses. The facility includes natural lighting and ventilation and is orientated on the site to maximize use of solar energy and day lighting.   A biomass boiler will provide heating and cooling through a radiant in-floor system.   The site includes bio swales to treat storm water; a community garden, a greenhouse and a nursery. Off site is a wetland education center.


            “Vernonia is on the national map as a leader in natural resources education.”

                ~ US Senator, Jeff Merkely


                Some people thought the day would never arrive. But arrive it did, and there were smiles all around. Especially from the children and students who now have lockers and hallways and a new school they can be proud of. School Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox made sure the teachers and students were the first to enter the new building following the dedication ceremony, because first and foremost, this building will be for them.


                “Kids bring us to this place of faith where we step out sometimes not knowing what might happen. We dare to dream big again in spite of adversity. We actually say to ourselves that which we hope our children will say when they are not around us which is, ‘One door may close, but another opens.’

                These children in front of us, children who are going to come to this school and children all around this state, are asking us, and you have demonstrated the ability, to step out on faith and say, ‘We will actually build, not just this, but we’ll build a whole new world around it.’

                I want to tell you, that’s inspiring. It’s absolutely awe inspiring. From somebody who has been in big cities, all across this country, from somebody who has been across the back woods of a lot of places both here and in Washington, I can tell you I have seen inspiring and I have not seen it any more beautiful, any more finely textured, any more human than what I have seen right here in Vernonia.”

                ~ Chief Education Officer, State of Oregon, Rudy Crew