McKenzie Locals Helping Locals has been touching many of us since the Holiday Farm Fire in 2020. After a year of work Mary Ellen Wheeler (President of the McKenzie Locals Helping Locals) along with Cliff Richardson (Vice President) and Steve Schaefers (Board of Directors) gathered members of the O’Brien Memorial Library and the Vida McKenzie Community Center at the McKenzie Station Pub to announce the success and distribution of funds thanks to our McKenzie valley community.
The “Locals Helping Locals” organization came up with an idea to do something worth while with all the burn trees that were left caused by the Holiday Farm Fire in September 2020. The idea was simple, collect the burnt trees the residents wanted to donate and sell them to the mills. The simple task was not easy. A lot of coordinating with FEMA, Oregon DOT and Suulutaaq, Inc. (ODOT’s on site contractor) was required. Valley residents living along a 25 mile corridor had trees that had to be removed. Who would cut, move, store, haul them to mills and what mills would take the trees after they were sorted by the many different kinds of wood?
Cliff Richardson explained the process of what had to happen to make the logging process the success it was. Suulutaaq LLC provided the storage lot and the task began. Logging trucks had to be hired. Timber tax had to be paid. All total, the mills of Giustina, Senica and Wood Recover processed 112,000 board feet of lumber. Three non-profit organizations were selected by the residents to received the funds: McKenzie Locals Helping Local, O’Brien Memorial Library and the Vida McKenzie Community Center. Each organization received the percentages designated by the tree donors. Thanks to the generosity of our community the lumber sales totaled over $55,000.
Josh Zeni (Suulutaaq LLC Project Manager) spoke of the hundreds of thousands of burnt trees they had to deal with and how our community while stressed to the max, enjoyed working with community members. Josh presented a check in the amount of $22,000 to help in the rebuilding of the community center.
Through the generosity of our community and Suulutaaq, our rebuilding fund increased by $27,776.18!