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News briefs: Unemployment data, reminder to check smoke detectors, Tip-A-Cop event planned

    Columbia County unemployment drops slightly

The expected employment rate in Columbia County dropped by 20 jobs in January, according to a release from the Oregon Employment Department. During the month a loss of 130 is normal, but the county experienced a loss of 150, with 110 of those jobs being in the private sector.

The total nonfarm employment was reported to have 80 more jobs than it did in January 2016. The unemployment rate was reported at 5.5 percent, which was a slight drop from the December rate of 5.8 percent.

St. Helens library host 'Conversation Project' on disabilities

The St. Helens Public Library will host a conversation forum titled "Understanding Disability: Family and Community Stories," on Thursday, March 16, at 7 p.m., at the library, 375 S. 18th St.

The forum will be led by Jill Crawford Hurt. Hurt describes herself as "a proud member of the disability community," and is the second of three generations to share a hereditary neuropathy, a press release from the library states. Professionally, Hurt has experience working with community advocacy and youth peer support groups, and directs a parent advocacy organization for those with disabilities.

The event is sponsored by the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project, which offers a series of free programs to offer a place for thoughtful, engaging and challenging conversations on a variety of topics.

Habitat for Humanity announces home ownership opportunity in St. Helens

Columbia County Habitat for Humanity is opening its application process to a new group of potential homeowners.

The application process will kick off with two information meetings Tuesday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 25, at 10 a.m. Both meetings are at Warren Community Fellowship, 56523 Columbia River Highway, Warren.

"Becoming a partner family is a huge commitment. Among other requirements, families have to have a stable income to be able to make an affordable mortgage payment. That's why we make the information meeting a required part of the application," states Jennifer Anderson, executive director, CCHFH.

A new Habitat for Humanity house is slated to be built in St. Helens on North 12th Street. Any low-income family who has lived in Columbia County for at least one year is eligible to apply.

The program requires accepted homeowners to put 300 hours of sweat equity into the construction of their home as well as attend homeowner education.

For more information, call 503- 366-1400, Ext. 2.

With start of daylight saving time, fire marshal offers message for smoke alarm safety

Sunday, March 12, marks the beginning of daylight saving time — clocks are moved ahead one hour — and serves as a reminder for Oregonians to test their smoke alarms, notes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal in a March 8 press release.

"Smoke alarm technology has advanced and many now come with 10-year batteries and some are tamper-resistant," said state Fire Marshal Jim Walker. "So, I encourage residents to test their alarms before changing the battery."

Oregon law requires ionization-only smoke alarms that are solely battery powered to come equipped with a hush feature and a 10-year battery. Because of this technology, the national slogan, "Change your clock, Change your battery," may not apply to Oregon residents who have ionization-only smoke alarms. Other types of alarms are also being sold with either a 10-year battery or a standard-life battery.

Working smoke alarms provide a critical early warning to a fire, allowing vital minutes to escape, which increase chances for survival. For more information about smoke alarm and fire safety, contact your local fire department or visit www.oregon.gov/osp/SFM/Pages/CommEd_SA_Program.aspx.

Tip-a-Cop night at Ixtapa

Ixtapa Family Mexican restaurant will host Tip-a-Cop night this Saturday, March 11, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The evening features police officers as hosts and servers at the restaurant for tips that benefit the Special Olympics Oregon-Columbia County local program. Money raised helps pay for training facilities, sports equipment, uniforms, travel and lodging for compeitition for athletes.

Ixtapa is located at 33452 Havlik Drive in Scappoose.

Free heroes luncheon at Moose Lodge

St. Helens Loyal Order of the Moose and St. Helens Women of the Moose will host a local heroes luncheon from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The luncheon will be held at the St. Helens Moose Lodge at 57317 Old Portland Road in Warren. First responders, including police, firefighters — paid and volunteer, paramedics, EMTs and active military members are invited to the free lunch.

Families or guests of those who receive free lunch are invited to join for $5 per adult plate and $3 for children 12 and under.

Please RSVP or send questions to Shannon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..