Current News

Newberg will kick off plan for the future with community visioning event

City officials says the Feb. 5 event is a way for the public to engage in planning the city for next 20 years

To begin envisioning what the city will look like two decades from now, Newberg will host a community event Feb. 5 to kick off the process.

The event, titled “A NewBERG,” will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chehalem Cultural Center. Community members, businesses and local organizations are invited to participate in the visioning process for the city’s next 20 years.

Charting the next two decades was a goal of the Newberg City Council and the city went to the University of Oregon for help and were provided a participant from the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments Program to serve as a visioning coordinator. That coordinator, Bayo Ware, drafted a community profile for the Community Visioning Citizens Advisory Committee.

The city has already conducted earlier stakeholder interviews and now is transitioning into a more involved stage for the public to be part of. Public events should last through June. The following step is an action plan, which is gathering all the data and putting it into a plan to finalize the vision.

An outreach timeline suggests that public surveys, in the forms of forums and workshops, be held through June, with recurring advertising also slated to start this month. There will also be community events throughout the year to serve as opportunities for outreach, as well as committee meetings, and residents are invited to share their thoughts with Ware at The goal in the packet is to have final documents due to the council by July 31; the project ends Aug. 19.

According to the city’s website, “Oregon in general, and the Portland Metro Area specifically, has seen huge growth over the past 10 years. Newberg has seen and felt this growth first-hand. In this rapidly changing time, Newberg has the great opportunity to decide what it wants to be. A Community Vision is a tool that will provide goals for the next 20 years and a roadmap to get us there.”

According to committee documents, Newberg’s population is estimated to grow 56 percent by 2040, which would bring it to roughly 36,700 residents, and states the city is growing at a faster rate than both Yamhill County and the state as a whole.

According to the committee, a visioning project “is a way for the community to participate in planning Newberg’s future.” The community is rapidly growing, “and if we don’t plan for the future, then it will become something that no one wants.” It states the benefit of the plan is it creates a roadmap to a preferred future, and at the end of the project there will be a completed document outlining specific goals providing that roadmap.

The plan would also provide a “clear picture of the city’s resources so we can identify priorities” and unify different city sectors to accomplish the vision.

Originally published in The Newberg Graphic

City explores helping fix blighted homes

PENDLETON, Oregon – Staff for the Pendleton Development Commission is working on a census of blighted homes in the downtown area. Associate Director Charles Denight says intern Kaitlyn Cook is compiling a database of the properties and information about their owners as the PDC explores making funds available to fix the eyesores.

“A lot of them are rentals, but there are a number of them that are owned by people who live in them, but who have very low or almost no income, and they’re not able to fix them up because they just don’t have the money,” Denight said.

The census by Cook is essential to giving the PDC a comprehensive overview of downtown blight.

“Amongst the owners, you can identify people who own homes and rent them and maybe don’t do a good job of keeping them up; or there are people that own the homes and live in them; or there are people that own them, inherited them, and they live somewhere else.”

The PDC has been providing grants and low-interest loans to businesses in the downtown area for years for façade improvement, expansion, and second-story development. It has not yet tackled the issue of helping the owners of blighted homes.

Originally published in My Columbia Basin

Building a bike & bed

DALLAS — Marlene Cox, the owner of Latitude One in Dallas, will apply for a Main Street Revitalization grant to transform the second story of the restaurant building into a hostel catering to bicyclists.

The upstairs of the building, located at 904 Main St., is vacant. If successful, the project would build a hostel with men’s and women’s bunk rooms, bathroom and shower facilities, a kitchen, and two private rooms. Guests would have a place to secure their bikes next to their beds.

Cox also wants to purchase the vacant former gas station at the corner of Main and Washington streets to create a bike park with a wash and repair station, restrooms and a pocket park. The park would be one block from the hostel.

Cox said the Dallas Downtown Association will help write the grant, which is due in March. The grant is offered through the Oregon Parks & Recreation State Historic Preservation Office.

“Our Downtown Dallas Association is really trying to push bike friendly,” Cox said. “We want to be able to support bikes and cyclists.”

She said there aren’t amenities in Dallas specifically for bicyclists, which means the town is potentially missing out on a tourism niche. Cox said the idea began to take form when Polk County was selected to participate in Travel Oregon’s Rural Tourism Studio.

“Cycling, that was the big main pitch. I realized that Dallas has much to offer for cyclists to come,” Cox said. “I just think some lodging is what we definitely need to have. If this … works well, it’s going to encourage other owners with the old buildings with the second level empty just like this.”

Marshall Guthrie, a bicycle enthusiast from Monmouth, said there are a lot of towns in Oregon, including Dallas, that he would rarely visit, if at all, except for on two wheels.

“I go to the farmers market, coffee shops, I meet my bike club here. If it wasn’t for my bike, I would spend zero dollars anywhere but the courthouse in Dallas,” Guthrie said. “I could say the same thing about Jefferson. I could say the same thing about Perrydale. I could name a lot of towns in Oregon that have gotten my money that wouldn’t get it if there wasn’t a reason to ride my bike there.”

He said the hostel and the bike park would not only invite bicycle tourists, but cater to what he believes is a growing movement of people moving away from cars as their primary mode of transportation.

“I think we are entering an era where individual car use is going to taper off. I’m not going to say a decline, but per capita, you will see a decline,” Guthrie said. “As the population increases, cars will increase, but I think we are starting to see a resurgence of a community that is focused on people getting around some way other than in a car.”

Gabriel Leon, the DDA manager, said he’s invested in the project as someone who has commuted by bike, but it’s also in line with the organization’s goals.

“It has a personal place in my heart. I’m doing what I can so the town can have a bike-centered space,” Leon said. “The downtown association in general is always really excited about historic preservation and making sure that the bones of our towns and cities carry on into the future.”

Cox added that downtowns must evolve to say vital.

“Let’s make some reasons to come over to Dallas,” she said. “The old days of retail is gone. If we are going to do something, it’s going to have to be what people’s lifestyles now reflect and what they want.”

Originally published in Polk County Itemizer-Observer

RARE AmeriCorps Applications NOW AVAILABLE!

Are you interested in community building, natural resources, food security, natural hazard planning, economic development or land use planning?  Does your organization have community building, natural resources, food security, natural hazard planning, economic development or land use planning projects that you do not have resources to complete?  If so, you should consider applying to the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) Program. Continue reading “RARE AmeriCorps Applications NOW AVAILABLE!”

RARE Opportunity Taken

In the fall of 2014, a group of citizens came together in Roseburg around a common mission: To improve quality of life for Douglas County residents while saving them money by catalyzing a shift to renewable energy and energy conservation.

Douglas County Smart Energy was formed, and two years later, they took a uniquely Oregon opportunity to boost their impact by participating in a program called Resource Assistance for Rural Environments. Each year, the RARE Program places thirty Americorps participants in rural communities around Oregon for a one-year period to coordinate a variety of collaborative community service projects.

RARE is how I landed in Roseburg from my former home of Hood River, and my one year of service is now wrapping up. I have had an incredible time working with Douglas County Smart Energy, coordinating renewable energy projects and promoting energy efficiency. With just a few weeks left, I am reflecting on the successes I’ve helped create and the remarkable people I’ve gotten to work with. Here are the top projects I got to work on:

  • Coordinating the submission of four grant proposals to place solar arrays on the buildings of community groups serving low-to-moderate income residents. Two of these grant proposals were to the Pacific Power Blue Sky Foundation, the fund made possible by contributions of Pacific Power rate payers. We won’t know for a couple more months if these projects will be fully funded, but we are feeling very encouraged by the fact that we recently received partial funding for one of them.
  • Supporting the development of an additional four solar projects for nonprofits in the county that will serve the low-to-moderate income population as a member of the statewide Sunshot Solar in Your Community team, coordinated by Sustainable Northwest.
  • Helping pave the path for more funding options for medium-to-large solar projects in Douglas County by making it easier for nonprofits, local governments, churches and other groups to take advantage of the federal investment tax credit, which can reduce project costs by 30 percent.
  • Participating in the submission of a grant to get four new electric vehicle charging stations in Roseburg.
  • Creating a plan to promote energy efficiency awareness that targets multiple sectors, including contractors, home builders, realtors, county and city staff and officials, K-12 students, and the general public.
  • Conducting outreach to twenty Douglas County school districts to get out the word about Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s solar curriculum program, Renewable Energy Leadership Lab.
  • Developing a list of Douglas County energy efficiency success stories of people who went the extra mile and built very energy efficient homes, discovering along the way how quickly the investment paid for itself.
  • I am in the midst of my last RARE project, surveying realtors and contractors to help DC Smart Energy better understand how to promote energy efficient construction. With buildings being responsible for approximately 40 percent of all energy consumption in the United States, and there being many tried and true (and cost effective) methods for constructing buildings that consume a fraction of the energy of buildings built to code, there is plenty of room for leaders in Douglas County to make a difference. This survey should help us better understand opportunities in the building industry in Douglas County, and potentially bring relevant training to the county.

At this point I haven’t decided what I’m doing next, but I’m finishing up my RARE year with immense gratitude for getting to work on such fun projects with such fantastic people. I’ve gotten to do work I care deeply about, and have discovered passion for a new career path I plan to pursue.

To those of you in Douglas County Smart Energy and others who helped make this possible, thank you, and keep up the excellent work.

Sander Lazar is a RARE volunteer working with DC Smart Energy and UCAN as the Renewable Energy Coordinator. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit, or on Facebook by searching DCSmartEnergy.

Originally published in The News-Review

OSU Extension – Welcome, Lauren Johnson!

We are pleased to welcome Lauren Johnson as the new Member Services Coordinator for the Oregon Community Food Systems Network. Lauren is a RARE/AmeriCorps volunteer and will be based out of the OSU Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems for her year of service with OCFSN.

In her own words:

“I got a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, but my heart was always with food and farming, so I often explored those themes in my research. After college, I spent the winter farming in Costa Rica, and then came to Oregon for a RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) AmeriCorps service position in Wallowa County in 2014. My job was to engage with different facets of the County’s local food system, from health care to farmers markets to schools to community gardening programs.

“During that year, I had the opportunity to attend the Oregon Community Food System Network’s first annual convening. I remember
feeling so energized being surrounded by all these incredible people and organizations working at the forefront of community food systems development. Not only were they implementing what was then fairly new and innovative programming to support community food systems, but they were also engaged in a difficult conversation about how to make that work more impactful.

“During my graduate degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, I interned with OCFSN’s Policy and Advocacy Working Group because I believe in what they’re doing so strongly. Now, I’m so excited to be working full time with these 53 organizations, spread throughout Oregon and engaged with every facet of this state’s food system. It’s pretty incredible to get the bird’s eye view of community food systems in my daily work.”

Thanks, Lauren, and welcome.

‘We don’t want to overflow our streets but we want people to come and enjoy this place’

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. — Jared Sidman says it didn’t take long for him to fall for the charms of Cottage Grove.

“So we’re full of beautiful murals; we’ve got covered bridges around town that we’re known for,” said Sidman.

The native of Philadelphia is the new full-time coordinator for Cottage Grove’s Main Street program.

Only a few months ago, Sidman was wrapping up a two year assignment in Micronesia, for the Peace Corps.

“So I was actually on a one square mile island with just a few hundred people, doing some teaching in the schools,” said Sidman.

And doing projects to boost tourism. Now, Sidman wants to see what he can do in Cottage Grove.

“So I’m trying to translate that to here,” said Sidman. “We don’t want to overflow our streets but we want people to come and enjoy this place.”

Sidman acts as a Liason Officer between city hall and downtown business owners.

Business owners, such as Candace Solesbee, is getting ready for a downtown infrastructure face-lift called, the Main St. Revitalization project.

“It’s a pretty big deal down here,,” said Solesbee. “It’s going to help us even out our roads because we’ve got a real “barrel” in our roads–so it will be great for the citizens here.”

Yet-to-be-finalized projects may include new sidewalks, more downtown lighting and other elements if funds from a $10 million state grant are approved. Sidman also dreams of funds to erect some billboards and attract more people downtown. in short, he’s bullish on the town’s future.

Originally published on NBC 16

Colorful Coburg

Coburg, Oregon continues to hold its place in the heart of the South Willamette Valley despite its proximity to the Eugene area. In large part this can be attributed to its small-town appeal including Coburg’s National Historic District of vintage style homes with architecture dating back to the 1800s. Coburg’s agrarian flair has been established through cultivated connections to surrounding farming communities, long stretches of country roads and backdrop of the Coburg Hills. The well -preserved homes of varying styles include cottages, barns and bungalows which recall over 150 years of Coburg history. Coburg residents’ value their small-town charm and are fervent to sustain preservation of these assets. During 2017 the community completed its Visioning project with Rural Development Initiatives identifying historic character as a substantial priority to retain and build upon in the years to come.

Coburg’s Heritage Committee continues to play an important role in advancing projects that aim to inspire community involvement. One such project was Coburg Community Historic Art Contest which culminated in Coburg’s first Art Show this past May. The art show displayed depictions of historic structures in Coburg as a means to spotlight local artists and historic buildings. Other projects including an updated Historic Walking Tour Brochure and Colorful Coburg Coloring Book. The Colorful Coburg Coloring book printed through 2018 Certified Local Government (CLG) Grant funds includes depictions of historic homes and architecture included in our Coburg Historic Walking Tour Brochure. Through a partnership with local business owner and active community member Terry Dawson, the Coburg Coloring Book was reproduced from a previous edition dating back to the 1980s. The Coloring Book will be available throughout the holiday season to engage more youth interest in historic preservation. Through these projects, we wish to promote creative expression for future generations as we maintain and enrich ties to our past.

Written by: Emma Vallillo, Community Development Project Manager, RARE AmeriCorps Member for City of Coburg

Originally published on the Oregon Heritage Exchange

Newberg residents begin charting 20-year vision

A new city group hopes to set the city’s future as continued population growth is expected

Between now and July, a citizens’ advisory group will look to chart the vision for Newberg for the coming 20 years.

As one of its goals to be completed this year, the Newberg City Council asked for the completion of a community visioning process. Community Development Coordinator Doug Rux said the city then went to the University of Oregon and were provided a participant from the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) program to serve as a visioning coordinator.

According to a packet provided to members of the Community Visioning Citizens Advisory Committee, Newberg is the second largest city in Yamhill County, and its population has “greatly grown because of a high standard of living; a clean, green environment; and a strong economy. Large agriculture and manufacturing sectors; education, health care and social services; and tourism lead to a household median income of over $53,000. To prepare for the growth expected to continue to happen, the city has created plans to meet the housing and business needs. This will help Newberg keep the small-town feel that makes it such a great place to call home while keeping a strong, local economy.”

Rux said the RARE visioning coordinator has drafted a community profile, which the committee will provide feedback of to the city.

Right now, he said a project website is being constructed as well.

“We’ve done stakeholder interviews,” Rux said. “As we move into 2019 we’ll starting engaging the broader public for what their vision is.”

According to a timeline in the packet, following the stakeholder interviews, the next steps will be to engage the community with public events, which should run through June. A third step is an action plan, which will gather all the data and put it into a plan to finalize the vision and its action plan.

An outreach timeline suggests public surveys, in the forms of forums and workshops, be held from January through June, with recurring advertising also slated to start in January. There will also be community events throughout the year, such as Halloween, the annual tree lighting and the Camelia Festival, to serve as opportunities for outreach. The goal in the packet is to have final documents due to the City Council by July 31, and the project ends Aug. 19.

The packet states Newberg’s population is estimated to grow 56 percent by 2040, which would bring it to roughly 36,700 residents, and notes the city is growing at a faster rate than both Yamhill County and the state as a whole.

According to the packet, a visioning project “is a way for the community to participate in planning Newberg’s future.” The community is rapidly growing, “and if we don’t plan for the future, then it will become something that no one wants.”

It states the benefit of the plan is it creates a roadmap to a preferred future, and at the end of the project there will be a completed document outlining specific goals providing that roadmap. The plan would also provide a “clear picture of the city’s resources so we can identify priorities” and unify different city sectors to accomplish the vision.

Originally published in The Newberg Graphic

Crowds attend soft opening of new Roseburg Public Library

People flocked into the Roseburg Public Library on Thursday as soon as the doors opened for the first time in more than a year and a half.

Giddy community members of all ages looked through the stacks and applied for new library cards as volunteers welcomed people for the soft opening at 1 p.m.

It marks the beginning of regular hours for the new city library after voters decided to end funding for the county library system in 2016. The library and its new partners, the Douglas Education Service District, will hold a grand opening on Jan. 10.

A half hour after the doors opened, more than 140 people had purchased books at a book sale in the Ford Family Room, according to Marcy Belzner, a volunteer with Friends of the Library.

“It’s so exciting,” Belzner said. “I’ve nearly been in tears all day. This is what book hunger looks like.”

Belzner said she was overwhelmed by the number of people browsing through the books for sale, which volunteers weeded out of the library’s old collection in preparation for the reopening.

Construction of new meeting rooms and offices for ESD staff moving to the new shared location reduced the space for the library. Belzner said volunteers maintained two-thirds of the original book collection even though the library is one-third of the original space.

The book sale will continue every day until the end of January during regular hours. Hardbacks and large paperbacks cost 50 cents and small paperbacks and children’s books cost 25 cents. The money will go toward adding books to the collection and funding new library programs.

Fifteen-year-old South Umpqua High School student Kaana Fye held a stack of books nearly up to her chin. She planned to buy what she could carry and come back for more.

“You can never have too many books,” Fye said. “Half of these I’ve never seen before. And if you think about it, when you learn something from them, guess what, that’s more knowledge that you don’t have to pay for later.”

Fye wasn’t particularly excited for any one of her new books, she was excited for them all, she said.

While the book sale stayed busy hours after the doors first opened, people in the main area lined up to register new library cards and check out books. Kids used crayons in Oregon Cultural Trust coloring books set out on the tables in the Deer Creek room. Teens logged onto computers in the new young adult area — an age-specific space that the old library lacked.

Myrtle Creek resident Alvin Helgeson flipped through “Scared to Live” by Stephen Booth as he stood between the stacks. He said he had no problem paying the annual $60 library card fee for non-Roseburg residents. The fee became controversial leading up to the library reopening because all county residents used to be able to become members for free.

“I read quite a few English mysteries,” Helgeson said. “It has cost me a fortune since the library closed because I’ve had to buy the books. So I’m glad to see the library open again.”

He said he used to come to the library once a week before it closed. He hopes the collection expands, but he thinks the lack of countywide funding may impede the library’s ability to get new books from his favorite authors such as Booth. While he’s happy the library is open, he will miss the days when all the libraries in the county — many of which have already reopened — could trade books within the common collection.

Some parts of the facility, such as the children’s library, aren’t open yet, and many Roseburg Library Commission projects are still ongoing. The commission will continue to assess potential book trading systems with other local libraries, according to Library Director Kris Wiley.

The commission is also trying to establish a donation system that will allow low-income people living outside of Roseburg to apply for a library card for free, said Adrienne Groves, an AmeriCorps participant with the city who has been working with the commission. People who use the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would be able to qualify for a free library card.

“We’ve just had so many people in the community who said they wanted to donate to help people get cards,” Groves said.

The grand opening of the library on Jan. 10 will feature performances from ventriloquist Steve Chaney and the Jo Lane Middle School Jazz Band.

Regular hours are 1 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Originally published in the News-Review