Bouncing around Ballston
Published: July 12, 2008
Boosters in Ballston are a very busy bunch these days.
How to revive the annual feed, fund community center repairs and maintain the historic schoolhouse in the park are all issues currently in play. Some difficult decisions need to be made.
The mid-valley community is more akin to a village than a true town, but its residents take their sense of community quite seriously. They're not about to shirk their responsibilities when it comes to important public issues.
At a recent meeting of the Ballston Community Club, members grappled with these key matters. Finding a way to get a new roof on the community center topped the agenda.
The former schoolhouse, moved from Airlie to Ballston many years back, has served the town well. But the roof is rapidly deteriorating and there's no money to replace it.
Ballston now has a tenant using the commercially licensed kitchen to bake pies. That lends urgency to the issue.
The piemaking business is growing rapidly. If conditions turn damp when wet weather returns in the fall, Ballston could have some unhappy cookers on its hands.
That's not to mention the potential loss of income from organizations and individuals that tend to keep the hall rented out fairly regularly during the year.
The community club has applied for a grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, charitable arm of the Spirit Mountain Casino operated by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. The initial response seemed favorable, so everyone is hopeful.
Ballston's historic pride and joy, the pioneer schoolhouse situated among a grove of trees in Ballston Park, recently got a new roof courtesy of the state.
The venerable building, built in 1855, is one of the valley's oldest. Beginning life as a school, it later served as a church, social center, private residence and storehouse before being turned into a museum.
Packed within its four walls are artifacts and memorabilia dating back to the days of Isaac Ball, on whose donation land claim the town rose. It's historic landmark status made it eligible for state funds and the job got done.
However, ongoing upkeep to the building and the city park in which it is located remain a challenge. Ivy has invaded and volunteers are being recruited to pull up the insidious stuff.
Among this year's accomplishments was the hosting of another nostalgia-filled Back to Ballston reunion. It took place June 29.
This longstanding community event, always held the last Sunday in June, drew 75 attendees from around the region.
Ballston native Don Moon said he was especially pleased to see a number of young folks sprinkled among the old-timers.
For nearly 50 years, Ballston held an annual turkey feed requiring months of planning and thousands of man-hours of preparation and oversight. It reliably drew hundreds of customers. Reviving that one probably poses the biggest community challenge of them all.
Like annual signature events held in other Yamhill Valley towns, the turkey feed became uniquely identified with Ballston. But, as they say, all good things must eventually come to an end.
In 2001, the Ballston Community Club didn't have the resources to stage the turkey feed. The club managed to pull it off again from 2002 to 2005, but got a late start in 2006 and had to cancel again.
Community leaders started earlier the next year, but came to the same frustrating conclusion. The size and scope of the feed had simply grown to the point where logistics outstripped local resources.
This year, club members are determined to revive the event in a more manageable format. According to Moon and Bob Bannister, they are planning to dish up an all-American, country-style breakfast of biscuits, gravy and eggs on the date of the traditional turkey feed - the last Sunday in October.
This will, in fact, be the community's 50th annual food-centered event, as gobbler get-togethers were held every year but one from 1956 through 2005. It will put an exclamation point on a half-century celebration of community.
Watch the News-Register in general and this space, in particular, for updates and details. Meanwhile, if you'd like to lend the Ballston boosters a hand with some ivy-pulling or other assistance, give Bannister a call at 503-843-5586.
And that's what I found out while OUT and ABOUT - trying to keep my eye on the bouncing ball in Ballston
Karl Klooster, the News-Register's regional editor, can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 503-883-6227.