By Pat Nelson
Valley Bugler Columnist
Woodland’s welcome sign, located in a triangle of ground between the northbound off ramp from I-5 and the southbound on ramp, served its purpose for many years. Eventually, though, the elements ate into the carved wood and it fell over, becoming more of a welcome mat than a welcome sign.
Noel Johnson, who brings us the popular website www.LewisRiver.com, always has his eye on Woodland and the surrounding area, often through the lens of his camera as he records area events for his website. He noticed the rotted sign and took it upon himself to bring the community together to come up with a new sign and fresh landscaping.
That involved presenting his idea to Woodland citizens and businesses and then getting pledges of time and materials to get the job done. He raised hundreds of dollars and got individuals and businesses alike excited about working together on this project.
First, the old sign was removed. Then Woodland’s family-owned Chilton Logging Inc. excavated and removed the old trees and shrubs. I drove by during the removal phase, my first clue that something was going on in the triangle. I shuddered when I saw lilac trees being removed because, after all, Woodland is home of the famous Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens. I shouldn’t have worried. Lilacs donated by Roberta Peterson now grace the new landscape.
Advanced Electric Signs provided and installed the new welcome sign. Refuge Custom Painting, specializing in automotive restoration and collision repair, painted the front of the new sign and Jenny Sawyer painted the back. A large steel salmon donated by PDM Steel’s Bill Raybill tops the display, representing the area’s popularity for salmon fishing in both the Columbia River and the Lewis River.
Columbia Pacific Construction donated rocks for three landscape walls and Colf Construction constructed those walls. Then Tsugawa Nursery donated the material and landscaping, filling the triangle with trees, shrubs and colorful flowers. A bench in memory of Mabel Tsugawa sits on one side of the triangle. Money for the bench was also donated. The finishing touch was bark dust donated by Groat Brothers.
To deal with maintenance of the new, City of Woodland donated irrigation and lighting and Port of Woodland agreed to maintain the landscaping.
This summer’s visitors get to see a great example of Woodland pride as they pass through town or visit the nearby Visitors’ Information Center at 900 Goerig Street, thanks to Noel Johnson for keeping an eye on Woodland. And we’ll see lilacs blooming in this spot for years to come.