Category Archives: Work

Vernonia Added to Enterprise Zone

The City of Vernonia has been added to the South Columbia County Enterprise Zone.

Working with the Columbia County Economic Team (CCET) in the spring of 2014, the City of Vernonia successfully applied for the expansion of the zone to include Vernonia. Traditionally a community of commuters and blue collar workers, Vernonia is seeing a an increase in the manufacturing sector and is working to meet those demands through zoning and other changes.

The State of Oregon and local agencies within Columbia County, including CCET, offer a range of public incentives and financing options that strengthen the competitiveness of local firms by reducing the costs of doing business and providing access to capital. Most of these programs are geared towards manufacturing, logistics, processing, and other “trade sector businesses”.

The South Columbia Enterprise Zone currently offers three to five years of property tax exceptions for new investments in plants and equipment for eligible business firms.

Local business owner Brad Curtis has already seen an immediate benefit from the Enterprise Zone expansion.   Curtis is the owner of Photo Solutions, a small manufacturing firm servicing the global high tech industries . Curtis recently expanded his business, purchasing $200,000 of new equipment. “I see a lot of possibilities for firms to do business out here, especially for businesses where location doesn’t matter.” says Curtis. “The enterprise zone expansion helps level the playing field.”

Curtis’s manufacturing plant was damaged in the 2007 flood and the incentives available may allow him to move his business to higher ground at the California Avenue industrial site currently under development in Vernonia. The high school recently was awarded a grant to help them expand their career and technical education curriculum, and is working on partnerships with Oregon businesses to equip students for careers in these technical fields. The Governor’s office has been making it a priority to create a workforce that is able to meet the needs of our growing economy, with particular emphasis on the creation and retention of living wage jobs.


For more information visit the South Columbia County Enterprise Zone.

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.