Current News

Oregon Coast Public Art Trail Back On Track

By: Leslie O’Donnell

With new staff and new plans in place, the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail is on the path to a more promising future.

Marcus Hinz, executive director of the regional marketing group Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA), said he has hired three contractors to inventory public art along the entire coast, one for the north, one for the central coast and one for the south. By the end of spring, the goal is to have identified 80 to 90 percent of the public art along the Oregon coast.

Hinz said public art is defined as art that is accessible 24/7 without fees or admission charges. While murals and sculpture make up much of public art, OCVA will also be documenting what Hinz termed “obscure” art, such as artistic benches or ornate manhole covers.

Public art is a “soft” way to get people interested in coastal communities, Hinz explained. The public art trail is meant to be a shoulder season marketing campaign, he noted.

“Public art is a ‘soft sell,’” he said. “The whole point of an art trail is economic development.”

He explained that when people get interested in visiting an area to view public art, they can then be introduced to museums, theaters, galleries, art studios and other venues in the same communities.

While planning for an Oregon Coast Public Art Trail has been going on for several years, Hinz is optimistic about what is happening now. Acknowledging that they have not made a lot of progress recently due to multiple staff changes, OCVA has changed its strategy so that each newly hired contractor lives in the area he or she is responsible for inventorying, and will be making face-to-face contacts with city officials and others to complete the public art inventory.

“We divided everything into three, and the new staff are renewing relationships with city officials and the local art community, and taking an inventory of public art in their area,” Hinz said.

That inventory includes taking photos, noting the latitude and longitude and address, writing a paragraph to describe what inspired the art, defining who owns the land where it is displayed and citing the name of the artist.

“Then we’ll see what we have, and will break it into two phases — marketing public art and destination development,” Hinz said. “We’ll also look at communities where there are gaps, and try to work with those towns to get public art. And we’ll work with each community to see how they want us to build itineraries to market them.”

The contractor for the Central Coast — defined as Florence to Lincoln City — is Sarah Abigail Moehrke. Hinz said she is a RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) participant from the University of Oregon, works for the City of Florence as a community and economic development assistant and has a background in public art.

The information about public art that the contractors gather will go into OTIS — the Oregon Tourism Information System database created by Travel Oregon.

“That will allow destination marketing organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Discover Newport to input the information from OTIS onto their websites,” Hinz explained.

The project is extensive, with Hinz noting that there are more than two dozen incorporated cities on the coast plus tiny, unincorporated areas such as Otter Rock and Seal Rock, bringing the total closer to 40.

“The new contractors have been working about a month, and given the new structure and support from OCVA staff, we’re going to make some pretty quick progress,” Hinz said. “We’re a team now.”

OCVA Destination Management Coordinator Arica Sears is the project leader for the Public Art Trail and oversees the three art contractors.

“This is a great opportunity to see what public art exists along the coast and to identify where public art could be placed,” Sears said. “The project will provide excellent opportunities for off-season visitation at the coast, and is a good way to highlight communities.

“We’re hoping visitors can learn about and have a deeper understanding of ‘place’ while visiting the art trail,” she concluded.

Public art is thriving in many coastal locations, and a public art inventory is already in place in several communities. Catherine Rickbone, executive director of Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (OCCA), said she thinks the idea of a coast-wide public art trail is “great and wonderful.”

She chairs the Newport Public Arts Committee and said that anything that highlights public art — such as the Oregon Coast Public Art Trail — is a good thing.

Newport has 50 to 70 pieces of public art, Rickbone noted, adding that its inventory is geared to inspire cities to develop public art. Newport’s public art ranges from Bayfront murals to sculptures at city buildings and parks, as well as at the Newport Performing Arts Center.

She helped the City of Florence develop its own public arts committee and represented both OCCA and Newport’s committee when Florence unveiled a mural at the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District in that city.

“We continue to grow our public arts inventory,” Rickbone said, adding that the Newport committee is quite active and commissions new works of art.

Sears said that anyone on the central coast with information for or questions about the coastal public art inventory is invited to contact Moehrke at centralart@thepeoplescoast.com.

Originially published in Newport News Times

City Seeks Public Input For Villages At Cascade Head Property

The City of Lincoln City is holding two public forums to discuss the proposed urban renewal boundary and a list of potential capital projects to be completed at the Villages at Cascade Head, a 360+ acre parcel of land in north Lincoln City purchased by the City in 2013.

The first of two public forums is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7, at Ace’s Bar and Grill, 3309 NE Clubhouse Dr. The second will be held 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, 540 NE Highway 101.

“The upcoming public forum is one step in creating the draft plan which we hope will be ready for Council consideration in July or August this year,” Urban Renewal Economic Development Coordinator Jodi Mescher said. “If City Council votes to adopt the Urban Renewal Plan for Roads End/Villages at Cascade Head area, it could be an important economic development tool to increase financing for priority projects in the new urban renewal area.”

If the Urban Renewal Plan is adopted by the Lincoln City Council, the Urban Renewal Agency can go ahead with capital projects, such as:

Construction or improvement of public facilities including streets, sidewalks, utilities, parks
Streetscape improvements
Storefront improvements
Participation with developers for property improvement
Rehabilitation of existing buildings

City staff has identified a list of potential projects to be completed and the first public forum is to discuss the draft plan and collect feedback on priority projects and projects yet to be identified.

The Villages at Cascade Head, previously a bankrupt vacant development, was purchased in 2013 by Lincoln City for $2.5 million.

For over 20 years the vision for 1,800+ homes at the Villages at Cascade Head has been troubled by foreclosure, developer concerns and expiring city planning approvals.

City officials have long-held to the idea that the Villages at Cascade Head will be an economic boon to Lincoln City but have struggled to advance the multi-million dollar investment despite spending an additional $2 million into the site for planning, utilities and other costs typically paid for by developers.

According to sources, developers have put in over $10 million to develop the Villages.

Developers are skeptical on a city-controlled situation where the City can drop hundreds of lots at any given time with a vote from the council. Builders believe they could not compete and the unknowns are too much to risk large amounts of money.

“If the City can sell lots at will or rezone adjacent properties it reduces the value and makes it unattractive,” a prominent Lincoln City developer who requested anonymity said.

Former Lincoln City Mayor Don Williams, who won in a 2014 landslide election, called for a sale of the Villages as part of his campaign.

“I don’t believe the City should be in the land development business,” Williams said. “We were assured repeatedly that we weren’t going to do this, but here we are in the land development business.”

Whatever the City decides to do, it will impact property values for improved and unimproved property throughout Lincoln City and North Lincoln County.

Originally published by Lincoln City Homepage

Port Purchase For Wetland Mitigation Could Be Beginning Of Costs

By Anna Del Savio

The Port of Columbia County board of commissioners authorized the purchase of 194 acres near Port Westward at their Jan. 8 meeting. The land, which the port bid on in November, will be used for wetland mitigation.

Bringing the land up to its full wetland mitigation potential, however, could cost as much as $45,000 per acre, Commissioner Larry Ericksen said at the port meeting.

The land itself cost $452,500. Making the land more effective for wetland mitigation could cost millions more.

“In terms of the wetland quality, it’s very low currently wetland quality. It would not be a valuable mitigation site until a lot of work is done there,” Commissioner Chip Bubl said.

The port only found out about the land auction shortly before the deadline for bids, leaving little time for studying the land quality.

The process to check for wetland mitigation potential “was relatively minimal,” according to Port Planning Coordinator Tabitha Tolsma.

“Basically, soil scientists came out and dug some small trenches and determined that the soil was hydric,” Tolsma said.

Projects that remove or inhibit natural wetlands are required to mitigate the impacts of the project by establishing wetland mitigation elsewhere or purchasing credits from a mitigation bank.

Credits would be available from the port, which would cover the costs of bringing the wetlands up to standards.

“Current practice has been — for PGE projects — they’ve been mitigating on our site, and they’ve been very free to give away our property to mitigation,” Commissioner Robert Keyser said.

Valuable wetlands can have deed restrictions placed on them, prohibiting any development on the land. That’s a concern when companies use unoccupied land for wetland mitigation, potentially jeopardizing any development future.

Keyser advocated for the land purchase over continuing the current practice.

The port is paying for the land out of the general fund but is also looking into financing options, explained Bob Gadotti, the port’s finance manager.

Originally published in Columbia County Spotlight

Falls City Looks To Rehab Building

FALLS CITY — The city of Falls City hopes to build a partnership with Polk County to redevelop a vacant property it owns on North Main Street into an operating business.

In 2017, the owner of the then-Little Luckiamute Clinic donated the property, located at 304 N. Main, to the city. It has since been vacant and falling into disrepair.

The next year, the city formed a committee to explore options to occupy the building, with the possibility that the new tenant would repair the building in exchange for little or no rent for a certain amount of time.

“The advisory committee made a suggestion and that is to partner with Turning Earth Farms, have them fix it up and do a contract,” said city manager Mac Corthell at a council meeting in December.

Turning Earth Farms would have made the building into a community/multi-use center and would have managed it.

“It didn’t work out. When we attempted to negotiate, I think there were some things they didn’t anticipate that they would need to be responsible for,” Corthell said. “It wasn’t a feasible agreement to be made.”

He said the contract was scrapped and so was the advisory committee.

Corthell said having the building vacant and deteriorating will eventually be a liability to the city, so he proposed a plan to put the property into use again.

“It’s in a prime location in Falls City, so we really need to look at moving that thing one way or another,” Corthell said. “We are looking into the cost to get it habitable, and my goal and plan is to discuss the potential of a two-part grant with the county. The county offers an economic vitality grant, if you will. They give out $30,000 for free to businesses that create jobs in Polk County. I’m going to attempt to partner with them.”

He said the hope is to get cost estimates to repair the property for occupancy and seek a grant to pay for the work. Then once a tenant has been identified, apply for an economic opportunity grant from Polk County to help the business get started.

He said the option could be more beneficial than selling the property, because it could eventually become a revenue source with a lease, and the city would have more control on what kind of business occupied the property.

William Sullivan, an AmeriCorps Resource Assistance for Rural Economics participant working for the city, said the first step is finding out how much it will cost to rehabilitate the building.

“We will have some contractors take a look at it and get some itemized numbers to bring back to council,” Sullivan said.

Mayor Jeremy Gordon said he liked the idea of spending money on the former clinic to help get it occupied.

“I think the city should invest a little in that property,” he said. “If we are asking people to clean up theirs, we should be taking care of ours.”

Originally published by the Itemizer-Observer

Meet Our RARE AmeriCorps Members: Eva Kahn

Eva grew up in Portland, OR and Hood River, OR. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2019 with a degree in Planning, Public Policy, and Management. In college, Eva was the coordinator of the University’s student community garden, studied sustainable development abroad in Ecuador, and completed an Honors Thesis on student farming. She has a passion for sustainable and equitable food systems, which is what brought her to the Columbia Gorge Food Bank and RARE. When she’s not working with food, Eva likes to ride her bike long distances, draw, listen to bluegrass, and revel in this beautiful state.

Community and Organization:

The Dalles sits on the banks of the Columbia River, straddling the border of Oregon and Washington. Most know the Columbia River Gorge for its astonishing beauty, the emerging tech and engineering industry, craft beer breweries, outdoor recreation opportunities, and fruit orchards. Despite all its glory, the Columbia Gorge struggles with similar issues facing many rural communities in Oregon. Economic disparity, lack of housing, poverty, and hunger pervade. Columbia Gorge Food Bank seeks to challenge hunger and its root causes across three counties (Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman). It partners with 25 agencies in the Gorge, distributing food to 33 sites. These sites directly assist people in need of food. The food bank also coordinates with the state network of food banks and works on regional-level policy and community issues relating to the root causes of hunger.

Project:

Eva will be assisting the food bank on a variety of projects, including opening two new school food pantries in Hood River County, a Harvest Share program at Hood River Valley Adult Center, and organizing community outreach events. She will also be helping the food bank transition to an independent nonprofit entity by helping assemble a founding Board of Directors and helping write the 501(c)3. She will also be coordinating the food bank’s volunteer program, developing its Disaster Plan, and supporting work around housing security in The Dalles.

Email: ekahn@oregonfoodbank.org
Organization: Columbia Gorge Food Bank
Community: Columbia River Gorge
Population: 82,608
Counties: Wasco, Sherman, Hood River

RARE AmeriCorps Applications for 2020-2021 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 for 2020-2021 Now Available!”

Talent Plans To Drop Fossil Fuels

Talent Energy Efficiency Coordinator Michael Hoch is busy these days answering questions about the city’s clean energy action plan. In November Talent became the first city in Oregon to include such a document in its city’s comprehensive plan, a set of guidelines for development required by state law.

Hoch’s research has found no other city in Oregon that has a clean energy plan as an element of its comprehensive plan. Rianna Koppel, a citizen who helped create the plan, reported her research found the same.

“Several cities and counties have contacted me directly,” said Hoch. They are seeking everything from basic nuts and bolts information on how the plan got created and incorporated … to more detailed information.

While in Klamath Falls Friday for a training session, Hoch met with residents there who are interested in getting clean energy components into their comprehensive plans.

Besides Klamath Falls, Hoch has received inquiries from cities in the Columbia Gorge, including Hood River, and from the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, which includes three Oregon and two Washington counties.

Among plan goals for Talent is achievement of 100% independence from fossil fuel sources by 2030 to help combat climate change.

City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Nov. 20 that amended the comprehensive plan to include the clean energy element. Talent’s Planning Commission had recommended adopting the element.

With support from Rogue Climate, a group of Talent residents started work on the plan following an October 2015 envisioning workshop. Volunteers worked for more than 1,000 hours to create a plan that became Talent Clean Energy Action Plan 2018-2030.

“When we started this plan, a big focus was climate change … and to step away from fossil fuels and come up with a plan B or C,” said Ray Sanchez-Pescodor, who participated in the plan development from the start. “We also wanted it to make common sense financially. The suggestions we are making make good financial sense, some in the short term and especially in the longterm.”

The element is a basis for policy and not policy itself, said Community Development Director Zac Moody. But it spells out potential implementation strategies in a number of areas, including transportation, housing, energy efficiency, conservation, city facilities, education, the economy, infrastructure and energy generation.

While work was done for plan adoption, the city and groups also focused on acquiring clean energy installations for Talent. That has included solar panels for the Community Center, an EV charging station and work with Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, which led to $149,000 in grants for solar installations at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production building, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 headquarters and the downtown civic center campus.

The latest clean energy upgrade for the city will bring four EV charging stations to city-owned property behind Camelot Theatre on Seiber Street. Pacific Power awarded a grant of up to $10,000 to assist with the project. While the city will purchase and install the stations, they will be operated by a commercial charging company.

Hoch helps coordinate the energy projects and is involved in other efficiency efforts, such as a LED light bulb give away that took place last spring. He monitors energy consumption and reports that energy use in city facilities is on track to achieve a 30% reduction in use by 2020 compared to 2015.

One element of the plan calls for a feasibility analysis on a transition from the current investor-owned utility model to a consumer-owned or community choice aggregation model. During the public hearing, Pacific Power General Business Manager Christina Kruger voiced concerns about that language.

“Pacific Power assets in this community are not for sale,” said Kruger. She said the firm applauds many parts of the plan and that some of the implementing strategies would require partnerships with Pacific Power and other entities such as Energy Trust of Oregon, with whom they work. She asked that language on creation of a city utility be dropped from the plan.

Council members and Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood said that feasibility studies would be conducted prior to any decision on changing utility providers, but that it could create competition where none exists.

“It sort of lifts us out of the monopoly situation we are in and creates an opportunity for us that may motivate us all to work in a partnership way we haven’t before,” said Ayers-Flood.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

Originally published in The Mail Tribune

Mescher to battle blight and preserve Lincoln City with Urban Renewal Agency

The newest addition to the City of Lincoln City is coming off a stint as a Peace Corps Rural Aquaculture Extension Agent in Zambia, and will now turn her attention to historic preservation and improving our economic development toolbox.

Jodi Mescher will spend 11 months working as Economic Development Coordinator alongside Urban Renewal Agency Director Alison Robertson doing what Urban Renewal does: attracting job producing private investments that will improve property values, improve the area’s visual quality and establish a positive linkage between the area and the Pacific Ocean.

“I’m happy to be here,” Mescher said. “I’m excited to see what we can do while I’m here.”

Mescher is here as part of the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) program, connecting trained graduate-level people with rural communities for an 11-month period. Administered by the University of Oregon and funded by Americorps, Meshner is here to assist Lincoln City in the development and implementation of plans for achieving a sustainable natural resource base and improving rural economic conditions while gaining community building and leadership skills.

Mescher will focus on the economic development toolbox and identifying underutilized properties. She’d also like to make Lincoln City a Certified Local Government (CLG) to qualify for federal grants from the National Park Service to promote historic preservation.

She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University in 2015 for Environmental Economics and Sustainability and was a Student Assistant in the Department of Planning and Design at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio in 2016. She spent time in Africa with the Peace Corps, providing technical assistance selecting and constructing fish and rice farm sites, increasing the local economy and nutrition.

Mescher is overflowing with ambition as evidenced by traveling halfway across the world to teach people how to farm fish and rice. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for this go getter.

Originally published in the Lincoln City Homepage

BLUECHIP: Dedicated organizers, thriving business hub build community strength in Cottage Grove

Food at the root

People are talking about food in several ways these days in Cottage Grove. Conversations are happening at the farmers’ market, at community meetings, even at a commercial kitchen, where the dream of succeeding with a food business is front and center.

Sustainability builds community

Sustainable Cottage Grove, for one, is facilitating engagement about the local food system and is providing workshops and education about food preparation, food preservation and healthy meals as part of its greater mission to promote sustainable living practices, enhance mental and physical health, and foster interdependence among community members. The project, formed in 2011, operates beneath the nonprofit umbrella Another Way Enterprises, and Rob Dickinson, Beth Pool and Richard Sedlock are among Sustainable Cottage Grove’s core organizers.

They host a monthly potluck on the first Friday of every month at the Rural Organizing Project building. “It’s really more of a social gathering than a meeting,” Dickinson says. “We welcome anyone.” Ideas are shared and plans are made to fill in the gaps where the community food system is concerned.

Sustainable Cottage Grove sponsored the “Southern Willamette Valley Community Food Assessment” in 2016, together with the Oregon Food Bank, Resource Assistance for Rural Environments, and Americorps. The numbers within the published report reveal the need for ongoing community engagement regarding food: 19.2% of the population in Cottage Grove and Dorena live below the poverty level, with 29% of children living below the poverty level and 65.3% participating in Oregon’s Free and Reduced Lunch program. The assessment also looked at the communities of Drain, Curtin, Elkton, Creswell, Lorane, and Yoncalla. Its findings helped to galvanize community efforts toward organizing the weekly outdoor South Valley Farmers’ Market, which has since expanded to include fall hours indoors at the Cottage Grove Armory.

“Certainly, the farmers’ market and farmer cooperatives have been success stories,” Sedlock reflects. Providing ongoing adult education about nutrition and healthy habits also has been at the top of the list.

“I’ve always been passionate about food,” admits Pool, who taught home economics in the Bay Area before retiring and moving to Cottage Grove with her husband, Richard Sedlock.

A certified Master Food Preserver, Pool teaches a series of classes about canning fruits and vegetables, smoking and drying meat, pickling and fermenting, and making food gifts for the holidays.

The other way Sustainable Cottage Grove has had an impact in its community of more than 10,000 people, has been to encourage food production via backyard gardening. They’ve also worked to improve healthy nutrition in local schools, which has included installing gardens and greenhouses. In fact, a greenhouse kit currently awaits assembly at the Al Kennedy Alternative High School, where Sedlock serves on the school’s Gardens/Orchard/Greenhouse advisory board and tends to the school’s 53-acre orchard.

There are long-range plans, too.

“In addition to our food system efforts, we see ourselves as much more in the community-building business than anything else,” Dickinson says.

For example, Sustainable Cottage Grove is one of several community partners that has been involved in helping to secure economic development planning assistance for the city of Cottage Grove from the USDA through the national Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) Initiative. The initiative draws on four national partners to deliver the assistance to communities who applied through a competitive process: One of those partners, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, will be providing Cottage Grove with technical assistance for up to two years using Wealth Works, a model by which communities identify and market their local assets rather than focus on an individual business.

This is where Kim Johnson and the Bohemia Food Hub – a main benefactor of the REDI Initiative’s assistance – come into the bigger picture.

Hub with heart

Community building is at the center of Johnson’s goals, too. She has created a line of food-related businesses along 10th Street that includes the Bohemia Food Hub, the Coast Fork Farm Stand and the Food Truck Hub, just next door to the farm stand.

“This is my dream,” says Johnson, a well-connected and experienced food entrepreneur, who has been developing her food hub idea for the past six years as owner of the long-neglected warehouse space that now serves as a 3,500-squarefoot commercial kitchen for several food businesses. (You won’t see a sign at the food hub yet, but you can’t miss the building with Roger Pete’s resplendent mural of the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly.)

“When I bought this place it had been empty for years and years,” Johnson says.

At the time of the purchase, she had owned Tsunami Sushi with a friend and wanted to grow the business. She sought advice and mentorship from RAIN Eugene, now The Eugene Accelerator. When her friend decided to move on, Johnson renamed the business Real Live Food, installed a small kitchen in the warehouse to start, added fresh collard wraps to the menu, and then expanded her product reach into the Portland market. That’s when things really scaled up quickly.

“I kept growing the kitchen to accommodate the growth of the business,” Johnson says.

Since then, Johnson has sold Real Live Food to a fellow tenant at the food hub, Sohr Foods, and is focusing on developing the food hub concept. Based on a Lane County public market and food hub analysis completed in 2014, elements of a food hub conceptually include a wholesaling outlet, a food lab and demo kitchen, cold and dry storage, food prep space, a meat processing space, along with technical assistance and office space. Some of these elements are already in place.

Johnson’s vision, however, is even more deliberate, encompassing local entrepreneurial efforts to produce food and helping to foster her community’s food-centric economic development.

Her Coast Fork Farm Stand provides a critical retail link for the community and the food hub, not only stocking local produce and products, but also selling everything that’s made inside the commercial kitchen: Real Live Food’s collard wraps and sushi rolls; Hot Winter Hot Sauce; Lola’s Fruit Shrubs; herbally infused Wildfire Elixirs; Dirtballs snack balls; Ketovore Life, foods to fit a Keto diet; and Boho Boto organic and herbal tinctures. Looking ahead, Johnson says, she’d love to have a baker join the food hub.

At the front end of her warehouse space, she envisions at least two restaurants, where customers can enjoy locally made fare, as well as what she calls “pilot pods,” or trial spaces, for budding restaurants or food trucks not quite ready to go it alone. Three food trucks are already in place at the Food Truck Hub, with developed space for four more.

The kitchen still needs work, admits Johnson, who is in the process of trying to secure funding from Oregon Business out of its Strategic Reserve Fund. Johnson believes that more kitchen equipment will diversify the type of tenants the food hub could support, including food producers in the local Guatemalan and Latino communities.

Only connect
Other elements integral to her food hub,Johnson says, are maintaining strong ties to the community’s farmers and growers, and including value-added events and opportunities, such as pop-up restaurants, or a mentorship program for high school and college students with food business ideas – or food preservation workshops.

Beth Pool of Sustainable Cottage Grove is 100% committed to that food preservation education.

“Making people aware that food is fundamental to everyone’s functioning – physically, mentally, spiritually – is critical for me,” Pool says.

“Beth is a dear friend of mine,” Johnson says. “We’re trying to figure out how does Sustainable Cottage Grove connect more at the hub; and when we build office space, is this maybe a home for Sustainable? Could Sustainable become the nonprofit umbrella of those sorts of activities at the food hub?”

No doubt these many ideas are fodder for more community building within Cottage Grove’s growing alignment around food.

”I’m really proud of my community here and the way people rally to work together. Those partnerships are really important,” Johnson says.

Originally published in the Register Guard

Grovers Gobble Up Return Of ‘Turkey Drop’

Grovers relived a downtown tradition on Nov. 23 as plush turkeys were thrown off the roof of the Axe & Fiddle building to eager, outstretched arms.

The Turkey Drop, a tradition extending back to 1930, gives locals a chance to win a Thanksgiving dinner or dessert. Though live turkeys were used in past iterations, modern sensibilities have since seen a transition to stuffed animals.

“This event is to promote Small Business Saturday, which is to encourage people to shop locally and support your local business owners,” said Cottage Grove Main Street Coordinator Molly Murai.

On Saturday, 45 stuffed turkeys were thrown to a crowd of young and old, all hoping to snatch a doll with a winning number.

In the subsequent drawing, two turkey dinners and a large chocolate turkey were awarded to a few select winners.

Grocery Outlet provided coupons and the fixings for the turkey dinners while Sanity Chocolate provided the chocolate turkey prize.

“I’d also really like to thank Alyssa Gonzales for helping and agreeing to let us use her building (the Axe & Fiddle),” said Murai.

Originally published in The Cottage Grove Sentinel