Vernonia dubbed 'the town that just won't quit'
VERNONIA, Ore. - It's "the town that just won't quit."
That's what Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said about this town Tuesday. He and other members of Oregon's congressional delegation helped dedicate a new school building and community center. It's a milestone for the town that's fought so hard to rebuild after two devastating floods.
Hundreds of people came out to celebrate at the new K-12 school that's built on higher ground to reduce the risk of flood damage. It can also provide a safe place for everyone in the community to stay when there's an emergency.
It was 2007 when a major flood destroyed the school and much of the town, and at the time Vernonia was still rebuilding from the 1996 flood.
The new school is 135,000 square feet and everything down to the lockers is new.
It took a couple years to build it and it'll fit 600 students now and as many as a thousand down the road.
The elementary school, middle school and high school classrooms are all under one roof in separate wings.
It's also a LEED certified building, which will cut the district's energy bill in half.
The $40 million project was paid for with federal and state funding, some donations and a $13 million bond measure city voters approved in 2009.
The opening of the school was a big deal for students and their parents. Belle Coleman, decked out in a cowgirl outfit, said the best part of Tuesday's tour was the "whole school."
She and others poured through the school's halls trying to familiarize themselves with their new environment.
Coleman remembered how much worse it was after the big flood.
"When I was in kindergarten there was like a flood so we had to go to a church thing. I didn't really like it," she said.