Business Bits: Acoustic Flash Mob (AFM)

Columbia County, OR- New to Columbia County, Acoustic Flash Mob (AFM) packed the house the night of their 1st performance on Feb 24th at Running Dogs Brewery in St Helens.  This is just the beginning for AFM fans as they are also performing April 14th at Warren Country Inn and booked for Rainier Days in July 2018.  So you too can join in the sensation surrounding the new concept of reflective social commentary and humor inviting those that listen to engage in the music and fun.

Band Member, Todd Tolles, tells the tale of how the band formed, “Acoustic Flash Mob, aka AFM, began one fine summer day back in 2016.  Two acoustic guitar troubadours, Bob Salisbury and Todd Tolles, wandered into the dining patio of one of our local Columbia County establishments, sparked by Bob Salisbury’s brilliant idea of finding an audience, instantly, to partake in our fun… we sat down with a few local patrons and began playing some familiar songs.  After being well received and appreciated some of the folks joined along in singing, AFM was born.”  Tolles explains, “Fast forward to today; we ‘Troubadors’ have decided to take AFM up a notch by adding a rhythm section.  The rhythm section has Chris Ponti on upright Bass and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sean Clark on percussion.  Enhancing the ability brought a whole slew of new songs to perform as a mostly acoustic outfit; think MTV Unplugged circa the early 90’s.”  The spirit of the ‘flash mob’ stays alive with the use of songbooks at performances to help audiences sing along.

AFM creates a fun loving, intimate vibe in the venues where they show up or even in their planned shows.  They choose songs with a little bit of reflective social commentary and some tongue in cheek humor, along with some very familiar tunes to those for singin’ along to.  AFM aims to enrich people’s time out in our local community with thoughtful, good vibrations.  AFM wants you to resolve to evolve by seeing more live music in 2018 and they are the perfect group to inspire folks to do just that.  Their mission for their show is simple:  AFM-Resolve to Evolve  | See More Live Music.   Contact band manager, Meagan Tolles for booking and questions 503-333-8790.



Oldest Photo of Oregon Senate Donated by Your Neighbor

St. Helens, OR – On March 3rd, during the 2018 Oregon Legislative Session in Salem, Senator Betsy Johnson presented the Oregon Senate with the oldest photo of the Senate and showed members of the 12th Bi-Annual 1882 Oregon Senate.  Local resident Diane Kruggel Dillard recently found this heirloom photo and wanted to share it with the Oregon Senate.

The Dillard family has a long history of public service in Columbia County. The photo was the property of William Barclay Dillard married to Susan Holcomb Dillard, and who were early residents of St. Helens. William Barclay worked as a Columbia County District Attorney and his wife was the first postmistress and later head librarian. They had two sons, William Walden and James Mason. Walden, like his father, served as County District Attorney while James Mason was appointed Federal District Attorney.  The Dillard family had two sons, Max W. “Sandy” Dillard and Carl Dillard.

Diane Dillard married Sandy in 1964. Sandy served as a County Commissioner for Columbia County.   Diane served as Communications Manager for Boise Cascade and retired after 44 years of service. She donated her time to many worthy causes including, Columbia Rural Fire District, United Way, CASA, Chamber of Commerce, Sacagawea and Chance to Become Scholarship.  Diane, a widow, is still a strong supporter of Columbia County.

To view the official state recording from the Senate website, go to Dillard Senate Presentation

Business Bits: The Lake House

Scappoose, OR – The new business that has everyone buzzing comes complete with a water feature as one would imagine from its name, The Lake House.  It is located at 1600 SE 9th St. in Scappoose, OR.  They opened their doors to events after hosting their first wedding in August of 2017.

Since then they’ve hosted many types of events such as baby showers, class reunions, weddings, birthday parties, memorials, family reunions, holiday events, and much more.  They have a blast at everything they do with the main goal to make their client’s vision come to life.

It’s not surprising that this new event, performance & concert venue is such a success from the start. Bart Hafeman, the owner, decided to open the doors to events because of his years of experience in the industry and his desire to create a warm, positive atmosphere for celebrating unique moments and milestones in life.   If you’ve seen Bart play, he carries that rock n roll, have fun just dance attitude always with a big smile.  He makes you want to get up and go.  His positive outlook on life carries thru in his interactions with his audience and clients.

Bart’s experience gives The Lake House its own relaxed atmosphere that draws people to his venue.  Bart Hafeman is widely known as the singer for Hit Machine, and because of that he’s been able to entertain at a handful of our events- However, they have hosted small private exclusive events like Jennifer Batten, guitar player for Michael Jackson on the Bad, History and Dangerous world tours. Bart joined in and sang “Human Nature” with her that evening. Tommy Tutone who sang the 80’s hit, “867-5309” has performed on the property as well.  They are currently working on a Lake House Summer Concert Series and would love to hear from people about who they would like to see perform at The Lake House.  Please send your suggestions to  They want to hear from you!

If you are looking for a venue to host an event, you may want to consider The Lake House.  They can accommodate between  20 to 200 people. For winter events the barn can hold up to 85 individuals downstairs and 30 people upstairs- summer events offer more room due to better weather conditions, which allows up to 200 guests.   Additionally, they offer a complete package for the one-stop shopper, or can customize an event when desired. They have a list of preferred vendors but are always open to our client’s dreams and desires for their event.  The Lake House offers an incredibly unique atmosphere that carries a rustic and elegant element all at the same time. The barn has a warm intimate feeling that not many venues offer.

We want to welcome The Lake House to Columbia County and wish them continued success!  #columbiacountybusinesses #concertvenue #TheLakeHouse #performancevenue


A Growing Art Scene

Columbia County-  Thanks to the Columbia Arts Guild, 2018 brings many opportunities for Artists and Art Enthusiasts alike.  The  Columbia Arts Guild (CAG) has accomplished big things in just a few years for local artists.  This group of committed and talented volunteers continues to work together to bring more to the table in 2018 for our communities.  In 2017, the group became an official 501(c) 3 and fundraised to build a secure cabinet to display art at the St Helens Public Library.  You can find more about their group on their website

Columbia Arts Guild is connecting like-minded artists with one another by creating together, hosting a countywide art competition, a community art project and a celebration with hands-on art.  A little something for everyone. Here are more specifics about the upcoming CAG events and ways you can get involved:

  • Art Happening- Paint the Town.  Weekly group of artists that meet on Thursdays at 10:00 AM in the hallway of the Columbia Learning Center.  The goal is for the artist to Bring Your Own Art (BYOA), work on your project, get advice, share information, listen or join the Urban Sketchers as they go out to Paint the Town! 
  • CAG Virtual Arts Competition will run until Dec 31st, 2018.  The competition is called Adventure & Art in Columbia County.   To enter go to their Facebook paged upload your submission photo in the album.  Competition is open to all Columbia County residents.  Basic guidelines, you can enter as many times in as many categories as you want.  Open to all mediums.  Judging will be in January 2019, people’s choice awards will be chosen by a number of likes on the Facebook post with people’s choice. The competition is for the I LOVE Columbia County Book will be created with winners published by December 2019 available on Amazon in 2020. The I LOVE Columbia County book proceeds will go to further Art Opportunities in Columbia County through the Columbia Arts Guild.
  • “This is Us” St. Helens is a Community Art Project.  During the next several months the CAG will be hosting “This Is Us” paint events throughout the St. Helens area. Paint events are the opportunity for you and your group of 10 or more to take part in this project. They provide everything you need to paint your house and participate.   CAG will keep all the painted, signed houses created by the community so that we may assemble them into one large piece of community art.  Everyone can create/paint one house to represent themselves in our diverse community. You can even take a picture of your house and share it on this page.  Call or text Joan@5033691081 to schedule a paint event.
  • Spring Walk Into Art is in its 3rd year to Celebrate the Arts!  It has a Professional Art Show, Youth Art Show, Music, Dancing, Open Mic, Book Signing, Culinary Art, Hands on Art and more!  Save the date for May 5th at Columbia Learning Center, 375 S 18th St, Saint Helens, Oregon 97051.



Businesss Bits: Running Dogs Brewery

Photo Courtesy of Running Dogs Brewery FB Page

St Helens, OR –  Running Dogs Brewery is so much more than just beer.  Running Dogs Brewery is a place where locals hang out for good drinks and a good time.  Help us welcome, Maggie & Jaron Clayton, owners of Running Dog Brewery at 291 South 1st St, St Helens, OR to the downtown business scene.   They have only been open a few months but are already a welcome new addition to Downtown St Helens.

They have many board games, a tasty beer with a selection that changes often and when the weather is good your dog can enjoy time on the patio! Open Wednesday thru Sunday Running Dogs provides a new hangout, hours do vary on Sunday so check out their Facebook page!

They not only have craft beer made in Columbia County but also make a variety of panni’s along with cheese/meat boards, snacks, and kids meals. Click here for the full menu.

Regular events like Trivia & Bingo Nights happen often also a variety of different events upcoming for January 2018.  Please follow their Facebook page to stay up to date.  Below is a snapshot:

New Years Eve Party, Dec 31st – Before 9:00 PM, Family Friendly fun. Live music starts at 6:00 PM with champagne for Sale and Confetti Cannons!  Dance the night away.

Yoga & Beer, Jan 7th, 2018 –  Flow Yoga for all levels 60 Minutes, taught by Beer Yogi and Yoga Instructor, Amanda Malarkey. After class, yogis are invited to stay and enjoy a post-class pint. Your registration includes yoga + your first pint of beer.

Northern Lights Painting Party, Jan 8th, 2018  –  6:00 PM- 9:00 PM.  $45 includes your painting & Panino Sandwich.

Zumba & Beer, Jan 15th, 2018-   11:00 AM -12:00 PM.   Free class taught by Claire Catt.  Deposit required can be applied to food or beer after class.

Paint Your Pet Night, Jan 22nd, 2018  –     6:00 PM -9:00 PM.  $55 includes your painting and a Panino Sandwich.

To Get creative?  Exercise?   Relax?  Great conversation?  New friends? Stop by the taproom.  You’ll find a little bit of everything at Running Dogs Brewery. To get more information on their business check out their website  Welcome to Columbia County Running Dogs Brewery!  #brewery #madeincc #shopcolumbiacounty


Business Bits: Roof

St. Helens, OR- Take the elevator or stairs it doesn’t matter but check out the new restaurant, Roof.  It’s located on the 4th floor of the Muckle Building at 31 Cowlitz Street, St Helens.  Roof offers food and drinks with sweeping views of the Columbia River.  It’s only been open since September so it’s still considered fairly new to Columbia County.

Owners, Marsha Lee &  husband,  Jeff Carver decided to get into the restaurant industry according to Marsha because “Jeff has the passion for the restaurant business.  He loves the Columbia River and this restaurant, so it has been a good fit.”  As we move into the winter months, Marsha said, “It’s going to be awesome with the first snowfall.  We have all these big windows for patrons to look and enjoy all the sights from tugboats to freighters to the bald eagles that soar just below the restaurant.”  Marsha is right, it’s an experience to view all the activity on the mighty Columbia.

Roof offers a variety of craft beers, ciders, wine, Irish Coffee plus a variety of handmade wraps, salads and now serving Chili and soups.   They also have a few fun upcoming events you may want to check out:

Follow their Facebook Page to stay up to date.   Stop by for lunch or a drink and don’t forget the views at Roof! #gemsofcolumbiacounty



It’s Here! It’s Holiday Bazaar Season

Columbia County, OR – Many local organizations host a Holiday Bazaar as fundraisers for our nonprofits like our PTO’s, band programs, and more worthy causes. The bazaars are more than just local businesses wanting to sell you something.  They want to share their products with their neighbors.  You are sure to find many reasonably priced quality goods made in Columbia County.  These Holiday Bazaars offer a place to meet your neighbors and new friends.  It’s part of the holiday culture out here in Columbia County.  You will find many talented bakers, artisans, and artists at these local bazaars.

We’ve listed a few local favorites but this certainly isn’t a complete list only highlights.   You will find many events listed on, and  Upcoming local holiday bazaars:

Nov 18thLadies of the Elks Christmas Bazaar, 350 Belton Road, St Helens, OR from 9-3:00 PM.  Large assortment of homemade goodies & craft items.  Refreshments available all day long for purchase.  Cake Walk & Santa 11-1.

Nov 25th Columbia County Small Business Expo– Featuring local businesses and professional services such as Wauna Federal Credit Union hosting the Kids Activities, Scott Burge Insurance, 5R Farms, Darling Foods, Saint Helens Market Fresh with a Made in Columbia County Booth and more.  Expo open 10 AM- 4 PM.  Santa will be on site from 10-1.  Hot drinks & treats available.  Fundraiser to benefit Columbia County K-9 Unit and Keep It Local CC programs. 

Dec 2nd– Avamere hosts a Holiday Bazaar for their residents and the community.  Avamere presents gifts to the first 50 attendees.  McBride POT also has a Holiday Bazaar at  McBride Elementry,  9:00-2:30 PM

Dec 9th & 10th–  Holiday Bazaar to benefit Scappoose Share & Care & Columbia County Toy N Joy 10:00 AM -4:00 PM at Oregon National Guard Armory, 474 S. 7th, St, St Helens.  This is their 8th year.   They have a reindeer which is an adult and kid favorite. The reindeer are on site with Santa on Sunday 10th from 11-2 PM.  Photos taken by Mossbarger photography with donations requested but not required.   Lewis & Clark Elementary PTO is also hosting a Holiday Bazaar on Dec 9th. 111 S. 9th, St Helens,  Open to public 10-2 PM.

Dec 16th- St Helens Band Patrons Lions Holiday Bazaar at St Helens High School Commons 10-4 PM.  Contact Nicole Johanson 971-203-6300 if you are interested in being a vendor.  



New to Scappoose – Columbia County Rotary Children’s Fountain

Scappoose, OR- On October 7th citizens gathered for the dedication ceremony for the new Columbia County Rotary Children’s Fountain designed by Michael Curry Designs.  You will find the artwork nestled behind the  Scappoose Public Libary, Veterans Memorial, and City Hall in Scappoose.

The sculpture is visible from Highway 30 but from the highway, you can’t experience the joy of this new art piece.    As you approach the sculpture,  light-hearted music fills the air and colored mist sprays against the copper metal of the artwork.  I’ll guarantee you’ll certainly see a rainbow or two.   The experience is an amazing combination of one’s senses.   I also recommend you take time to read the phrases located on the ground and let the words inspire you.

Current President, Holly Houston, said, “The Rotary Club of Columbia County is honored to have been such a part of this beautiful project that promotes fellowship and fun in our community.” The club meets every Wednesday at noon at the Warren Country Inn if you are curious about attending a meeting.  They also hold a variety community events like fundraisers for local Veterans by hosting a Monster Dash in October.  Follow their Facebook page to stay up to date with Columbia County Rotary.

#gemsofcolumbiacounty #scappoooseoregon #roadsideattraction #hwy30roadsideartwork #sculpture #highwayart #childrensfountain #columbiacountyrotary #waterfountain

Columbia County Celebrates Halloweentown!

Columbia County-  Leaves are dropping along with the temperature, Fall has arrived and Halloween is quickly approaching for Columbia County.   With the movie Halloweentown filmed in St. Helens in 1998, the city is still celebrating and the many across Columbia County have also embraced this holiday.

Photo Courtesy of Spirit of Halloweentown Facebook. Brian Fawcett, Clatskanie Resident. Sitting 2nd to the left bottom row between his sister and mother.

Local citizens have ties to the movie as many had their debut acting in the movie as extras such as Rainier Mayor, Jerry Cole along with Clatskanie resident, Brian Fawcett.  Brian was a kid at the time who got his first paycheck as an extra to perform alongside his sister and mom in an Aladdin Costume.  Brian shared that his favorite memory of the movie was, “Being part of a locally made movie with my family was a cool experience. And watching the movie near Halloween after the fact to find myself, my mom, and my sister in random scenes made for some good memories.”  Maybe that’s why so many people jump at the chance to celebrate Halloween and welcome curious tourists.

The movie has a cult following that will bring a lot of tourists to the area for Halloween the month of October for a variety of activities.  To view, a list of Spirit of Halloweentown events go to and to view many local events.  SHEDCO (ST Helens Economic Development Corporation) has partnered with several local groups to host a few events for locals to have some fun along with the tourists and ways they can get engaged to show off their local community.

A signature event to kick off the month-long celebration is the Halloweentown Parade that is on Oct 7th at 3:00 PM.   Last year,  the parade had a Witches Float, Star Wars of Oregon, Columbia County Sherrif Department, Aliens, Zombie fighters, Scary Clown Bikers and more participated.  The 2nd year parade is sure to outshine the past year.  When asked what will make this year different?” Gretchen Williams, Parade Organizer, replied, “For me, the parade this year is different from the last because of the willingness from groups to participate. Many crowd favorites from last year contacted me immediately wanting to return. I didn’t even have to ask them! I have several families who have signed up to participate simply because they love Halloween. I’m very excited to see their entries! We are on track to surpass the number of entries we had last year. Something else that is new this year is that I did not have to charge an entry fee. Thanks to several additional sponsors, everyone can participate for free.”  Afterwards, the Community Pumpkin lightening will take place in the Holiday Plaza at 7:00 PM.

Ways for you to get involved:

  • September 25th-Oct 6th Participate in a Scarecrow Contest.  Open to all citizens and businesses Across Columbia County are invited to put up a ScareCrow for the Spirit of Halloweentown ScareCrow Contest.  Winners get $150 sponsored by the City of St. Helens.  You can post your photos to the FB page between Sept 25th- Oct 6th details on the facebook page.
  • Oct 7th – Halloweentown Parade sponsored by SCC Chamber of Commerce, SHEDCO & Columbia River PUD Oct 7th.  Locals can participate in the parade for free by emailing for an application.  
  • Oct 7th- The Bite of Columbia County – Be a spectator!  It’s a fundraiser for the Columbia Pacific Food Bank & St Helens BackPack Program.  Get your tickets online for $30.00 each or 2 for $50.00 or you can purchase at Bertucci’s and Houlton Bakery.  You’ll get to sample foods from over 20 local restaurants.
  • Oct 14th- Columbia County Rotary- Monster Dash Fundraiser for local Columbia County Veterans. Sign up here.
  • October 6th – Oct 30th.  If you like to get dressed up in costume, you can become a WayFinding Witch.  What’s that?  It’s a chance to share our local businesses and happenings with the tourists in your Halloween Costume.  Click on the link, to sign up for a volunteer spot.
  • Oct 15th – Meet and Treat at Aggies featuring Kimberly Brown. Locals use your zip code to receive a discount on tickets.  Follow the event on Facebook for more information. 
  • Oct 21st – Annual Masquerade Charity Ball hosted by Windemere Foundation Columbia County
  • Oct 19th,20,21st at 7:00 PM & 21st at 2 PM ShoeString Theatre, “The War of the Worlds” on October 19, 20, 21 at 7 pm, and October 21 for a 2 pm matinee.  Tickets on Sale September 30th online or at Bertucci’s. 


5th Annual Columbia City Celebration Day

Columbia City, OR- The Columbia City Celebration is a 5th Annual Columbia County tradition which takes place September 16th from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM.   If you’re new to the area, you must check it out if you’ve never been. If it’s been awhile, you don’t want to miss out this year.

You can start your Saturday off with a homemade strawberry pancake breakfast held at the Community Hall which starts at 7:00 AM this year due to an expected large crowd.  Many locals, your neighbors gather to talk as they wait for their breakfast so the Community Hall is filled with chatter.  Other ongoing events are the car show,  book sale, local vendors many selling handmade items and a silent auction.  The Elks will be on site for children’s visual screening held inside the library.  Children who visit the library will be given a free book.  A special treat this year is the Renaissance/MidEvil Reiancments will also take place to provide some entertainment.  Most of all it’s a day to celebrate Columbia City with your local neighbors.  The event serves a dual purpose also as a fundraiser for the Columbia City Library.  Be sure to follow their Facebook page to see what’s going on.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is also on site to answer your questions and local Artists from the Columbia Arts Guild will be selling their local art.  President of the Columbia Art Guild, Teresa Knight said she participated last year in the event but this year, “The Columbia Arts Guild has been participating at the Columbia City Celebration over the years at different capacities, but this year they are more involved and in addition to the Art Show a few of the artists will have booths with their work for sale! Pine needle baskets, carved gourds, ceramics, paintings, cards and much more!”

Join us for the fun at the Columbia City Celebration Sept 16th! #familyfun #cruisein #carshow #silentauction #columbiacityor #columbiacitycelebration #localtraditions #annualeventincc #staycationhereincc #keepitlocalcc