High Prairie Community Council

Anne Kanter, Vice President, High Prairie Community Council

It’s been a busy spring and summer for your High Prairie Community Council!

The exciting news is, the HPCC applied for and was awarded a $247,000 grant by the State of Washington for capital improvements to the Struck Road building, which houses fire station #1 and the community center. We recently received our official notification and have been assigned a Program Manager by the State. We’re rolling!

The capital improvements we intend to have done for the Fire Department include installing a generator for back-up power, putting in a commercial quality washer and dryer, and installing fire-proof cabinets for equipment.

For the Community Building side of the structure, we want to improve the HVAC system so the building can be used as an emergency warming/cooling shelter, improve the electrical system so the kitchen can be used to it’s fullest capacity to prepare food in the event of an emergency, and replace our current commercial range and dishwasher which are hard to use and not very efficient.

The HPCC is ALWAYS looking for community input and for volunteers. For the past few years COVID has made having community meetings and officer elections difficult, but we’re working to have a general meeting with HPCC Board elections, probably in October. We’re hoping to have Sheriff Songer come to address the community about crime and safety at the same meeting, so please keep an eye open for future e-mails, postings and notifications about time and dates. 

The folks that live here are the heart of High Prairie. We are working to keep us Community Strong!

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High Prairie Wins County Fair Awards

Susan Sattem

A small group of high prairie women gathered their home canned goods, photos, home made quilts, baskets, bags and crafts and dropped them off at the fairgrounds last week with high hopes and fingers crossed. When it was over on Sunday they walked out with 3 red, 15 blue blue ribbons, 3 best of lot, a top of show, and a judges choice award. 

Our little community has so much talent and we have such fun exploring new ideas and  techniques together. I encourage anyone looking for fun, friendship, and a love of learning to join us at Judi Strait’s home every Monday morning at 10:30. 

< This is Jesse Schneider, who entered approximately 12-20 things and got blue ribbons on almost everything.  

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KCFDP 14 Fire Department Quarter 3 Report

Tom McMackin

Your Klickitat County Fire Protection District #14 / High Prairie logged 85 runs to date. There were 3 wildfire incidents and once again the majority of these incident responses were medical in nature. Our members provided mutual aid teaming with firefighters from Lyle, Bingen, Wishram, White Salmon on the initial attack phase of each fire. A tender [water tanker] and two firefighters from KCFPD #14 responded to support Skamania County and Washington DNR fire crews in their efforts early in the Tunnel 5 Fire. High Prairie made the break into September without experiencing a wildfire incident. A little luck… along with your attention to details by being aware of the high fire potential conditions and acting with caution and safe practices in your outdoor activities have helped to get High Prairie into Fall without an incident!

The Klickitat County Burn Ban remains in place and will be with us for the next 6 to 8 weeks. Please be careful in all outdoor activities to avoid any activities that have the potential to create a spark or overheated equipment components in the presence of flashy fuels like grasses and leaf litter!

The realities of Nature’s wildfire incidents are stark and scary. There is a seemingly capricious demeanor to the movement and impacts any one of these types of event have on our lives. The threat to lives and property is inescapable. It doesn’t need to be fire on your doorstep. Simply catching news stories and images are compelling and frightening enough to disrupt our daily sleep and waking activities. 

The Maui and Tunnel 5 wildfire incidents presented some characteristics, as well as, illustrate parallel conditions in our own backyards here on High Prairie and generally throughout Klickitat County. Wind, extended drought conditions, power lines, rural roadways, limited water resources, lay of the land, etc. are conditions we can witness by walking to the picture window of every home on the prairie. The place fire occupies in Nature’s process interacting with us in the Wildland Urban/Rural Interface (WUI) that we call home, use for a relaxing getaway, or business and truly treasure is undeniable.

The reality is clearly stated in the comment “It is not a matter of ‘If…’ but ‘When…’ and ‘How Bad Will it be ?’ “ A simple combination of any of these listed ‘local’ factors could be, in a very few heart beats, ~ catastrophic on similar scales. Any ‘disaster’ scenario whether a process of Nature or human caused will have impacts across a broad spectrum. Fire itself brings special challenges ~ smoke that makes breathing or seeing nearly impossible, heat, frightening displays of bursting, roaring walls of flame, etc. to the experience.

Klickitat County has developed and is working to create an innovative Department of Emergency Management. The current Emergency Alert System is available for sign up to receive alerts and emergency notifications when an incident or developing conditions may impact you, your home or neighborhood.

It is something you can sign up for today! Here are links the the Department of Emergency Management and the alert program.




KCFPD #14 High Prairie is developing a program with the goal of returning to presenting public safety information sessions for High Prairie residents and interested friends and neighbors. Tentatively proposed for late Fall, we are working to incorporate Klickitat County Emergency Management, Fire Services resources and databases with the Ready, Set, Go and FireWise programs to present in one setting information to address issues that may impact living on High Prairie.

Understanding potential emergencies; preparing for how we can respond; creating defensible environments for our homes and property; learning about our unique circumstances and conditions; creating a plan for action to succeed in preserving life and important personal property, as well as thrive in the beauty surrounding us is priceless!

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Goldendale Library Events for Fall

The Goldendale Library is planning fun things for all ages this fall. Below are events for September and  resource highlight for the month.  

Children & Families 

Wednesday Family Storytime: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM 

1st Saturdays Family Storytime 10:30 – 11:30 AM  

September 23, 2023, 1:30-3:00 PM: Bookmobile & Craft at the Lyle Activity Center 

All ages 

September 9, 2023, 1:00 – 2:00 PM Songs & Stories of the American West 

Join us for a journey in concert through the historical west, the contemporary west, and the mythological west, with songs and stories that educate and entertain.  

September 12, 2023, 2:30 – 4:00 PM: Solar Eclipse Celebration 

Celebrate the upcoming 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse with the library! Get free solar eclipse glasses, learn about the Solar Eclipse, and explore outer space through activities and crafts. 

September 16, 2023, 2:00 – 5:00 PM Family Game Afternoon 

Bring the family and enjoy a number of board and tabletop games. 


1st & 3rd Fridays Gamernoon 


September 12, 2023, 6:00 – 7:00 PM: Author Talk: Paula Judith Johnson

Paula Judith Johnson is the author of esteemed romance novels, including historical romance. Her two contemporary romances are Starting Over and Second Time Around featuring some characters in Goldendale.

September 16, 2023 6:00 – 9:00 PM: Adult Game Night

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7 College Planning Steps for Teens

Jon Hancock, Hancock Advisors LLC

As a high school student getting prepared for college, it’s normal to feel both excited and overwhelmed. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that you succeed as you embark on this new path. 

The most important thing you can do is to establish a well-structured plan. With a clear roadmap to guide your planning, you can make the process smoother and alleviate any worries that you might have. 

Here are seven boxes you can check off to help you on your way to success.

1. Find the schools you think will be a good fit

Choosing a college is a big decision that involves many factors. Some of the questions you might want to ask yourself are:

– Is it a state university or a private college? 

– Do you prefer a large or small school?

– Do you want to stay near home, or would you prefer an out-of-state college?

– Is there a specific career or major area of study that will influence your choice?

2. Sources of college funding

If you need extra cash to attend university, it’s important to remember that loans must be repaid. Take on as little debt possible; you don’t want to have an onerous repayment schedule that continues for a long time after graduation.

Before turning to student loans, you should consider scholarships and grants, which do not have to be repaid. These are often overlooked as a valuable resource and that may leave free money on the table.

3. FASFA is key

Complete the FAFSA for free to access thousands of dollars in financial help. Don’t put it off because some of the funds are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

The FAFSA application normally opens on October 1 each year. However, the opening date has been pushed back to December 2023 due to fresh amendments to the application.

Even if you don’t plan to borrow money for school, you should still think about filling out the form. Otherwise, you risk accidentally losing out on opportunities for work-study, fellowships, and scholarships.

4. Test-taking diminishes in influence

Nationally, the SAT or ACT is less of a requirement, and many colleges and universities now allow students to apply without taking the test. There are online test preparation classes and practice exams if you’re thinking about taking the SAT or ACT.

5. Increase your chance with essays and letters of recommendation

The most crucial thing to do is to begin writing your essay and to request and gather letters of recommendation that highlight your talents and accomplishments from instructors, guidance counselors, and even your principal.

6. Take a trip

Visit the school or schools you want to attend. Every campus is unique. The school, the residence halls, the library, the classrooms, the dining hall, the student union, recreational facilities, campus hangouts, off-campus life, and much more can all be explored during an on-campus tour.

7. Your guidance counselor will help you

Applying to college can seem overwhelming, but you can seek help from your high school guidance counselor, who can provide valuable advice that will make the process easier.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

If you’re going to college next year, or even in the next few years, breaking  your prep work into smaller tasks can help reduce stress and give you a sense of accomplishment. Start your preparation today and you will be surprised by what you learn and the admissions challenges you can overcome.

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First Date

Lozetta Doll

First date with a boy
Who drove his own car.
Good kid, doctor’s son.
My mother liked him.

I don’t remember the movie,
Only that he held my hand.
Afterwards, the obligatory Coke
At our teenage hangout.

And then he drove up
Into the Silverton hills
Onto a country road,
Pulled off and parked.

Before us, rippled by breeze,
Field turned into ocean,
Of golden wheat waves
In the glow of August’s full moon.

A 50s ballad played softly,
His arm, tentative,
Across my shoulders.
Everything was perfect.

Except the boy.

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Tom McMackin

Short and sweet advice for this FireWise note:

Preparing for the the coming of Fall’s outdoor chores is the key for your foundation in planning for the 2024 wildfire season. The two most important focus points at this juncture are the pruning of evergreen trees on your property after the first good freeze event and planning for the end of the seasonal county-wide burn ban and the safe way you can utilize fire to reduce fuels under trees.

In conjunction with High Prairie Fire we will be working to have a presentation for the community that will address a variety of subjects related to living on High Prairie in the natural environments that make up this beautiful landscape. FireWise concepts will be one aspect of the presentation in the mix of subjects on safety considerations, actions that we each can employ to improve the defensibility of your home and how to be prepared for any situation that might cause you to need to evacuate High Prairie for some period of time. If there are particular subjects or questions you have that fit into matters related to living on High Prairie or being a member of our rural communities ~ Please feel free to send them in an email to firewise.onhighprairie@gmail.com 

Please be safe enjoying our beautiful areas of the Gorge and all that it has to offer ! Prepare for potential emergency events, particularly wildland fire, because it is a natural part of this environment and only a matter of when not if a fire will visit these places !

FireWise on High Prairie Resources

Contact me, Tom McMackin, if you’d like more information on the ‘FireWise’ and ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ programs; if you have comments or suggestions; or if you would like to be more involved with the High Prairie FireWise effort. I can answer questions and get you connected with the resources we have available as a recognized FireWise Community. Contact me by email at firewise.onhighprairie@gmail.com or by phone message by calling 509-365-2786. Please, if you don’t receive a response from your email call me!

Online resources: 

FireWise –

http://www.firewise.org  or http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/home-and-landscape.aspx

Ready, Set, Go! – http://www.wildlandfirersg.org  or http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/Resident

Preparedness & Evacuation


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My New Favorite Garden Tool

Debbie McDonald

High Prairie has a lot of great gardeners, and we all have a hundred different ideas about what makes a great garden, the best plant varieties, and how to control pests and disease. Just like most things in life, there are many ways to achieve the same goals. I’m kind of a do-with-what-you-have gardener – not necessarily pretty but very functional. In fact, my new favorite garden tool is not new at all. It is recycled from my kitchen.

I have been wanting to replace this kitchen Chinese strainer for ages as the wires tend to snag food and the holes are a bit big. I bit the bullet and purchased the stainless steel strainer that I really wanted, but I couldn’t just throw away a perfectly functional tool. I took the spider to the garden and found it was great for so many hand-tool tasks in my raised beds. It fluffs up and mixes soil, it can create a row for planting and lightly cover the row with soil, it’s tough enough to dig around weeds for pulling (don’t you hate Canada thistle?), it can dig a hole big enough to plant a potato seed, and it may be left behind in the elements without fear of damage if lain down and forgotten in the moment. Perfect for my way of gardening.

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Ups and Downs Lead to Opportunity

Colleen Johnson, “High Prairie Dog Trainer”

It’s been a rough few years for many of us, with circumstances changing at the drop of a hat. Five years ago I had a nice little startup business breeding French Bulldogs. I finally felt like life was going my way. Unfortunately, COVID struck and gradually destroyed the market for French Bulldogs. I began searching for a job, not realizing that it would lead to a wonderful opportunity.

From the time I was a little girl we owned about every type of animal. My mother loves animals, and Dad was always bringing home little injured wild animals for her to nurse back to health. We had domestic, wild, farm and exotic animals. (The day Dad brought home a Caiman Crocodile, though, he crossed the line. Needless to say, Mom was not impressed. A baby skunk would have been accepted in a heartbeat, but reptiles were not her thing!)

I spent a large part of my early childhood playing with baby animals. When I was about four or five years old, dogs captured my heart. My mother explained the basics of training a dog (as were used back in the day). I was fascinated, and started “training” our dogs. I remember having some success even back then. I was so proud of myself! Although over the years training took a back seat, my love of dogs never did.

I have recently learned a lesson in following your heart when the chips are down. While looking for a new job, I felt really discouraged by online job search sites. They took me in circles trying to get to the applications and contact numbers. Then I saw a job offer from Petco and became very excited. However, once again I could not get the application to “send” after filling it out. At first I was disappointed and ready to give up. Then it occurred to me that there is only one Petco in the area, so I called them. Not only did they send me an application, they  walked me through their whole process. Within a couple of days I had an interview. Afterward, I still didn’t know if I’d get the job – they had a few more people to interview. 

A funny mistake ended the suspense. I noticed that autofill had put my son’s name on my application. I almost cried, because I figured they’d think I was a complete idiot. No way was I going to get the job. I called the hiring manager to tell them about the mistake, and he said, “Oh, that’s no problem. I was just getting ready to call you. You blew us away, so we decided not to even interview the others. I have an idea for you, though. How would you like to be our Dog Trainer?” Of course I said yes!

It was quite a process going through online training for the position; but once I started actually working with dogs, I realized I was a natural. I communicate with them on their level and they cooperate. Sometimes it feels like magic. More than once, I explained to the pet parent what behavior I was going to teach the dog and what the dog was going to do. Then I took the leash and the dog just did it. It’s like the dog had listened to the conversation and thought, “I’ve got this.”

I learned the basic techniques from Petco’s Program, but it was confining. I didn’t like the restrictions of the program or the atmosphere I was training in. I felt Petco was holding me back. I wanted to give my clients their money’s worth and the dogs the opportunity to advance naturally. I knew I could offer more if I did things my way. I started studying other types of training and offering my own style that I had used in training my French Bulldog puppies from birth.

Then my dad got sick and almost died from septic shock. He needed a caregiver, and I had that experience in my tool box. I quit my job at Petco so I could be up here in High Prairie helping Mom and Dad; but I became aware of another great option for dog training: I could go mobile. People had asked me many times, at Petco, if I could do outside training at their homes or meet in parks. I had had to say no. Now, however, I can offer personalized sessions instead of boxed deals, and I can go to my clients. I no longer work for Petco, but I am now a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and get to do what I love. I am much happier and still able to be here for my parents.

The moral of this story is… Never give up. Know your worth. Believe in yourself. Be yourself. Never let anything or anyone hold you back. You’ve got this.

This is Piper, a wonderful and very energetic Border Collie mix that I trained while working at Petco. I wish I’d been able to train her my way. Though we got her trained, it was made much more difficult because of the crackerbox, one-size-fits-all Petco program.

Our Locations…
704 Centerville Hwy (The Old Fire Station)
701 Struck Rd (Community Center)
783 Centerville Hwy (3 Family Yard Sale)
410 Centerville Hwy
1030 Horseshoebend Rd

Other locations to be determined…

Maps at each location

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Not Forgotten 

Rebecca Sonniksen 

We knew they were there: the 12 or more unmarked graves in Old Kent Cemetery. This pioneer cemetery 2-1/2 miles south of Kent, Oregon, off U.S. 97, is where our great-grandfather, Thomas Craig was buried in 1906. He has a marker, a quite beautiful one, which was kind of a surprise given their humble means. 

He was laid to rest among his neighbors, the Bennetts, the Trotters, the Kentners, and other pioneer families who came as homesteaders to Sherman County at the turn of the century. From 1899 through 1913, they buried their kin in the Old Kent Cemetery. They were school teachers, preachers, well diggers, farmers, merchants – the people who shaped the town of Kent and the surrounding communities. 

“Gone but not forgotten,” Florence Kentner’s carved granite stone reads. Died 1901,17 years old. Next to her marker, only a dip in the earth. Nothing to mark the grave we suspect is there. Forgotten or maybe, after 125 years, the wooden cross was worn down by the wind and the snow? 

And over there in the far corner of the cemetery is the grave of Richard Steidel: “Our blessed son” died in 1904 at just 4 months old. His grave is marked by a white granite lamb, its head tucked down in rest. But what about the depressions in the rocky, hard ground close by. Is there another child buried there? 

Next to the wrought iron fence of Ned Lane, buried in 1905, the rocky soil slopes and dips down to the edges of a field plowed for wheat. It makes you wonder if another pioneer lies forgotten. Ned’s grave was only recently marked by a family member who placed a granite slab with his name and death date. In 1905, Ned Lane’s young widow could only afford the wrought iron fence, no marker with his name. 

Only after moving up to this area, did I, as well as my husband Scott, become aware of ancestry buried in Sherman and Hood River counties.  So when we discovered the condition of the old Kent cemetery, we decided, with my sister Amy Elbert, and the new owner, Stan Decker, that it was time to restore the dignity of this forgotten place. 

It lay forgotten because the cemetery is on private land and many descendants, like us, have migrated to other places. And for the past hundred years it has been left to winds, weeds, and the harshness of the climate. Markers were covered in stickery weeds and rolled up barbed wire fencing strewn around the graves. Many had disappeared, sunken into the ground. 

The first step was the eradication of the many invasive species, which had encroached and covered the rocky ground. This task was completed by the property owner this past year. After clearing out the tangle of weeds and barbed wire we could see more clearly there were unmarked graves that needed to be identified. 

From the beginning of our restoration project, we were urged to seek out the unmarked graves. to make sure no one was left outside the circumference of the cemetery. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of High Prairie neighbor, Fred Henchell, guided by his dousing stick, we were able to locate fifteen possible graves. Sadly, Fred passed June 9, 2023. 

To confirm Fred’s hunches, we decided after some consultation to hire a contractor to use Ground Penetration Radar (GPR), which is typically used to detect underground pipes at building sites. 

Given that detecting hidden graves takes a much different mindset than locating pipe, we were gratified, to find Nikos Tzetos of Pacific Geophysics, who was recommended by a The Dalles engineering firm. Nikos had done similar work for the Yakama Nation and other small cemeteries and, as he confided to us, finding unmarked graves is what he’d most wanted to do. 

So on July 20, one of the hottest days of the summer, we met Nikos at the cemetery where he began what became an 8-hour day of work. As we began our walk among the markers, he leaned towards us to let us know he respected those buried here. This was a personal quest. And we hope to do so now. We may not be able to give each grave a name, but our hope is to mark it in some respect. 

After measuring and gridding out the cemetery, he carefully pushed his equipment, with an eye to his computer screen, taking readings of the underground impressions. Because of the harshness of the land, the graves were probably buried only four feet, but the rocky, uneven, hard ground made the final readings difficult. 

According to Nikos, they are working on improving the profiles with filtering and further processing; nevertheless, they are seeing some interesting results. So stay tuned. We hope to know by the end of August. 

Our hope is, once the locations have been verified, to mark each grave with a stone or metal marker. Anyone who has had experience with this or has suggestions, please let me know, rsonniksen@gmail.com. We’ve just begun the research and hope to apply for a grant next year. The owner agreed to share the cost of the GPR, which will run around $4,000.

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