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Volunteers Build Community Resource Directory

Every mailbox to get a copy

Just in time for spring, local residents may be able to take advantage of a valuable new resource: a directory of community-based educational and recreational activities in White Salmon and elsewhere in western Klickitat County.

For about a year now, a handful of determined volunteers, calling themselves the Northwest Community Education Board of Directors, has been gathering information on various events and putting it together in a resource directory.

"The directory would list who to contact if you're interested in various activities and events; where to go and who to call if you need information," said Laura Melkonian, chair of the NCE board.

The Northwest Community Education organization (NCE) was formed in June 2007, and has applied for non-profit status. The focus of the group's community education program is on recreation and education.

When the directory is finalized -- expected to be sometime in the spring -- the information will be sent to every mailbox within the White Salmon Valley School District, and it will also be placed on a Web site that is still under construction. A toll-free number to call for information is also in the works.

The still incomplete list NCE is putting together includes a wide variety of activities and resources, with information on swimming lessons, Jazzercise, classes sponsored by Baha'i Faith, natural resource management, job search services, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, youth baseball, horse riding clubs, blacksmithing, and much more.

The primary goal is to have information about activities such as these available from one central source, allowing community members to much more easily be able to take advantage of what the community has to offer.

"It would be so nice to have all the community sports under one umbrella," Melkonian explained. "Right now, people are confused about where to go to get kids signed up for soccer, for example. Most communities have a club or a parks and recreation district. We don't have that yet. It's crazy to have six different organizers -- for basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. And that's just sports. We want to cover all the community classes and community education, and have it all centralized."

The NCE is mainly geared toward those in the White Salmon School District, but is not limited exclusively to that.

"It's open to others in the county," explained Deidre Duffy, a member of the NCE board. "We cover the north side of the Columbia River. Not just White Salmon, but Trout Lake, Klickitat County, some of Skamania County. The goal is to be a broad-based organization."

Duffy added that one objective of the centralization is to assist with scheduling of various events, so there is no overlapping or overuse of a particular sports field or classroom. NCE also pledges to help take care of the facilities it uses.

In its efforts, NCE is partnering with the WSU Learning Center, the Klickitat County Health Department, and the White Salmon Valley School District.

"There is a lot of stuff going on around White Salmon, and there could be a lot more. It's a lot to figure out, and it gets complicated," Melkonian pointed out.

Those seeking to add their activities to the community education program can call Deidre Duffy at 493-1927, or mail information to NCE at P.O. Box 159, White Salmon, Wash., 98672.

NCE wants to have the directory ready for the public by the summer, and the deadline for submitting information for the directory is March 31.

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