A package of holiday goodies was left at my doorstep by anonymous locals last week. While it crossed my mind that the treats could contain rat poison or arsenic, the enclosed religious tract added another layer to my deliberations. I ate them anyway with no ill effects. My goodness, it was a tasty assortment.

Thank you to all who have, like my secret Santa, provided volunteer holiday cheer to our community in recent weeks. Nestucca Lions and Nesko Women, with many helpers provided gifts and groceries to eighty one south Tillamook County households last week. Hats off to all of them.

If winter break has you stir crazy, load the household including visitors to the Oregon coast to watch for migrating whales with trained volunteers during Whale Watching Week from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. December 27-31. Volunteers with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department offer the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” program at 24 ocean view sites to help people spot gray whales that are heading south to Mexico. Visitors will also learn about whale migration and feeding habits. Tillamook County sites include Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. Go to whalespoken.org for more information.

We who wish to start or reestablish healthy habits for 2016 are invited to visit tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org to participate in Tillamook County’s Year of Wellness events and programs. Each quarter, participants will compete against other individuals (or in a team against other teams) to earn points by making healthier choices and attending events and programs. Outreach and speaker presentations will provide participants with resources we need to establish and maintain imptoved health.

Mark your calendar for a birding outing from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, January 9 at O.S.U. Hatfield Marine Science Center Nature Trail just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Host Mark Elliott will provide guidebooks and loan binoculars to participants dressed for the weather who gather at the east side of the visitor’s center. For more information, call 541-992-9720.

Did you know that our own Nestucca Valley Jr./Sr. High (NVHS) was recently awarded Merit status with the Oregon Green Schools program? Schools that join the program have committed to promoting environmental sustainability in their schools and community. NVHS has been a Green School since 2014 and has been making steady improvements since that time, primarily through the efforts of the Environmental Science class and instructional assistant, Will Dillon. Dillon credits much of the merit status to the efforts of former student Molly McKillip, who led the student efforts to strive for and meet merit status. Congratulations to them.

Happy New Year dear readers; happy birthday this week to: Josh Armstrong, Sean Bennett, Joyce Cochran, Michael Corey, Ron Durham, James Elliott, Taylor Geil, Emma Hagerty, Brandi Haltiner, April Huff, Mary Hurliman, Patrick Irving, Elijah Love, Eric McKillip, Kay Rulifson, Lee Saddler, Allison Sanders, Alica Sheldon, Thorn Simnitt and Cheryl Trent.

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