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Fair winners savor victories

At the Clackamas County Fair and the Oregon State Fair this summer, two local women, Clarice Jones and Lisa Halcom, were both recognized for excellence in their respective events.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Clarice Jones accompanies herself on the piano as she sings a sample of the gospel song that impressed the judges at the Clackamas County Fair in August.Jones, an Oregon City resident, won first place in the adult category of the gospel-singing competition at the county fair, and Halcom, owner of Gladstone’s Happyrock Coffee Co., saw her Blend No. 5 named one of the 10 best espresso blends at the state fair.

Clarice Jones

Jones auditioned for the county fair in August and was chosen as one of 12 singers to compete in the adult gospel category.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Clarice Jones plays a tune for Pastor David Shankle; Jones sings at the OC Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday nights.On Aug. 15, she performed Mahalia Jackson’s “Soon I Will Be Done with the Troubles of This World,” and was thrilled to win first prize and $300.

“I heard a lot of great music that day, and I was very honored to be there,” Jones said.

She comes by her talent naturally, she said, noting that her father, the Rev. Asbury Paul Jones, was one of the first blacks to graduate from Julliard School and the first black chaplain for the California Senate.

“I have nine sisters, and we all sing and have CDs out. We can blow the heck out of a song,” Jones said, adding that she has a degree in musical theater from Sacramento State.

After college, Jones went on the road, touring with a band whose other members were all white. She appeared in “Godspell” on Broadway, where she sang “Day by Day,” and was in “Jesus Christ Superstar” in California.

She was a backup singer for B.B. King, Van Morrison, Stan Getz and Kenny Rankin, among others, and opened for Lou Rawls in Las Vegas.

Jones has toured in California, and that is where her family is, so what is she doing in Oregon?

“I’ve been here a year and eight months, waiting for a kidney,” she said, noting that her doctors told her that Oregon had good kidney doctors, partly due to the proximity of Oregon Health & Science University and Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital.

Jones has been diabetic for 12 years, and her mother died from kidney failure related to diabetes. Her own condition has worsened recently, and she is hoping a new kidney will be available soon.

Although she has health issues, Jones does not let that stop her from leading a normal life. She attends the Oregon City Church of the Nazarene, where she sings on Wednesday nights and some Sundays, and is working on a new CD, “Still Singing the Gospel.”

The pastor, David Shankle, and the congregation at the Nazarene Church have been very welcoming to her, Jones said.

“People see something in me, and I am so grateful for that. And I love my pastor; he is so sweet spirited,” she said.

“We like her gentle spirit and her heart, and she always brings us something inspired by the Lord,” Shankle said. “Her music ministry always touches the heart of the people.”

Lisa Halcom

At the Oregon State Fair on Aug. 24, a panel of six judges — restaurateurs, specialty coffee retailers and executive chefs — sampled a total of 90 coffees in three categories: signature blend, single varietal and espresso. All were presented by competition-level baristas to ensure maximum extraction per entry, Halcom said.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lisa Halcom, owner of Happyrock Coffee Co., hands out coffee samples at this summer's Oregon State Fair.At the end of the competition, her Blend No. 5 was named in the top 10 of the espresso category.

“Blend No. 5 is both bright and smooth. This three-bean blend contains equal parts coffee from Indonesia, Central America and South America. Roasted to a point between medium and dark, it has hints of citrus, touches of cacao and a clean finish,” Halcom said.

Placing in the top 10 was “huge,” she said, adding, “Oregon is a coffee-drinking state, and coffee is the second most-traded commodity in the world, second only to oil. There were many large companies in the championships, including Portland Roasting, Stumptown, K&F, Boyds, McMenamins and Public Domain.”

Competitions of this sort are not new to Halcom. She also won an award in the 2010 Best Coffee in Oregon Competition at the Oregon State Fair with the blend Storm of the Black Bear, and again in 2011, for the blend Darkness of Divinity.

In 2012, Blend No. 5 was in the top-16 finalists in the America’s Best Espresso Competition at Coffee Fest Seattle.

Happyrock Coffee Roasting Co. was built in 1999 in historic downtown Gladstone, and the name comes from what the locals call the town: Gladstone, aka Happyrock. Halcom has been the owner and roaster since 2009, and has more than 14 years of coffee experience.

“I love roasting coffee. It gives me the control to roast beans the way that I think they taste best. I love to play with blending the beans as well as offering single origins. Currently we offer Kenya Nyeri, and I am working on getting some Organic Peru directly from the farmer,” she said.

“Whenever I meet others in the coffee industry, whether it’s other coffee roasters, baristas, importers or farmers, everyone on every level is very happy with what they do.”



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