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State releases student homelessness data

Of Columbia County’s public school student population, 187 students are homeless, according to numbers released Thursday, Nov. 21, by the Oregon Department of Education.

The St. Helens School District has 50 homeless students, representing 1.53 percent of its student population.

But the Scappoose School District’s homeless student population is markedly higher. Ninety-two Scappoose students are homeless, making up 4.02 percent of its population.

While the Scappoose School District has a fairly high rate of student homelessness, several districts in the state have higher rates.

The Warrenton-Hammond School District in neighboring Clatsop County has a 13.3 percent rate, while the Butte Falls School District in Jackson County tops the list at 24 percent.

Columbia County unemployment down to 8 percent

The unemployment rate in Columbia County edged down one-tenth of a percentage point to a seasonally adjusted 8 percent, the Oregon Employment Department announced Monday, Nov. 25.

Seventy nonfarm jobs were added in Columbia County last month, contributing to the slight decrease in unemployment.

Meanwhile, statewide unemployment hit its lowest point in five years.

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in October, according to the Oregon Employment Department on Nov. 19, marking the low point for unemployment in the state this year and matching the rate for October 2008, when the economic recession was beginning.

Unemployment has been trending downward in Oregon this year. Revised rates for August and September show the state went from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September, inching down again last month.

The 0.1 percent decrease in unemployment came despite the loss of 500 jobs last month, the department said. Some 3,300 jobs were added in September, and 5,600 were created in August.

Seasonally adjusted estimates are calculated to compensate for the tendency toward greater-than-normal job creation in the summer months.

Columbia City eyes drinking water protection

Columbia City will hold a pair of meetings next month to consider ways to protect the source of drinking water in the city from contamination.

The Water and Sewer Committee will meet at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to prepare a list of source water protection strategies it deems suitable for Columbia City. The committee will then forward their recommendations to the city council for consideration.

City councilors will meet Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. for a public hearing to discuss the committee’s recommendations and hear from members of the public.

The draft list of strategies to protect drinking water sources will be posted to the municipal website by Dec. 12, according to Columbia City’s monthly newsletter for December.

The city will also devise an implementation schedule for the strategies, which will be submitted together with the city’s source water protection plan to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for certification.

SHPD to hold Donut Day

The St. Helens Police Department will hold its 11th annual Donut Day Saturday, Dec. 14, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the St. Helens Police Department located at 150 South 13th St. The event offers the community the opportunity to trade canned, non-perishable food items for fresh Krispy Kreme donuts. All donated food and cash will benefit the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.

Attendees will also be able to meet Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and listen to live music. Dutch Bros. Coffee will be on-site, selling coffee and hot chocolate, also donating its earnings from the night to the food bank.

KOHI AM 1600 will broadcast live from Donut Day and will give away free Oregon State University Beavers merchandise.

Over its 11 years, Donut Days have donated more than 37,000 pounds of food and $30,000 in cash directly to the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.

Drug court sells wreaths to generate funds

The Columbia County Treatment Court is holding a fundraiser through Dec. 18, selling holly wreaths to generate money for its program. Russell Cross of the Columbia County Circuit Court says the treatment court is completely funded by grants and fundraisers.

“I have been reaching out to the community to help get word out about our current fundraiser that just started. What we are doing is selling holly wreaths for a local holly farm and we get 50 percent of all money collected,” Cross wrote in an email. The wreaths, Cross said, come in a variety of different sizes and range in cost from $11 to $89. Cross added that the holly is locally sourced, coming from a Yankton holly farm.

Those who want to buy a wreath can stop by Cross’ St. Helens office at the Columbia County Courthouse, located at 230 Strand St.

Tribal culture event upcoming on Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island Academy will play host to a Tribal Cultural Heritage Education Night at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12. The event will be staged by members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and third-grade students at the charter school, and it will provide knowledge about the first people to settle Sauvie Island.

Third-graders at Sauvie Island Academy recently completed a curricular unit on the Chinookan peoples. They will display dioramas of traditional Chinookan plankhouse villages and the classroom aquarium in which they are raising salmon eggs for eventual release into the wild.

The event will also feature tribal drumming and singing, Native foods, culture stations with activities like traditional paint-making and basic phraseology in chinuk wawa, a language that was widespread in the Pacific Northwest before the 20th century.

The heritage event is being organized by Grand Ronde tribal member and educator Greg Archuleta, with help from Asa Gervich, the academy’s third-grade classroom teacher.

It is free and open to the public.