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Year in Review II:

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A look back at some of the interesting stories of 2016 from July through December


JULY

And the study says….

The city of Canby paid $15,000 for an independent retail market study that shows what needs to be done to attract and retain or upgrade Canby's existing brick-and-mortar stores.

The June 2016 study, called the Canby Retail Market Analysis, completed jointly by Portland-based companies Leland Consulting Group and Civilis Consultants, finds that the city has many attractive elements, such as a charming downtown, a strong, regional brand associated with nurseries and agriculture and hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the Clackamas County Events Center. Canby Mayor Brian Hodson offers some thoughts at the opening of the new Canby Public Library this past fall.

However, downtown Canby lacks a cohesive marketing vision and voice that will attract visitors, including people driving through town on Highway 99E, and tap into the more than 50,000 people who live in the region and shop in Canby.

"Canby is like a Utopia," Leland Consulting Principal Brian Vanneman said. "We thought it was interesting demographically in terms of incomes … Canby has a real mix of people with different incomes who all live in the same neighborhoods. If you compared that to Woodburn or West Linn it's different. That's something we learned and something you could tell as part of your whole story."

Council hears public disapproval over Confederate flag

At it's July 6 meeting, the Canby City Council received an earful from Canby residents upset about the Sons of Confederate Veterans float that appeared in the Canby Independence Day Celebration parade.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), headquartered in Tennessee but "locally" based in Condon, entered the parade approximately two hours before the 9:30 a.m. start time, according to one city official.

The group's "float" consisted of a flatbed trailer being pulled behind a tractor followed by a black pickup truck, both flying Confederate flags and with participants of each vehicle dressed in Civil War-era clothing and soldier's uniforms.

Canby resident Sarah Spoon, 38, told the city council she has lived in Canby for 30 years, graduated Canby High School and now has four children in Canby schools. She said that while the Canby Independence Day Celebration was "amazing overall," the SCV float, and what it stood for — many people in this day and age consider the "Rebel flag" a symbol of hate — has no place in a city-sanctioned event.

What if it happened here?

On June 3, in the town of Mosier, about seven miles east of Hood River, a Union Pacific oil train pulling 96 cars derailed, spilling about 10,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil.

Two years ago, the Mosier City Council passed a resolution against oil trains running through its town. Union Pacific, the company responsible for the Mosier derailment, ignored the resolution because Mosier doesn't have the revenue to put up an extended legal battle to enforce it, published reports say.

Canby has no similar resolution but city officials do worry that a hazardous-materials train could derail in Canby, splitting the town in two from north to south and causing residents and downtown businesses to evacuate if the train's contents spill.

However, Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis said he is not at all opposed to oil trains rolling through Canby.

"The major concern I had was of the potential disaster that could happen if we had a train derailment in Canby, a scenario that is very much alive," Davis said. "If we had a derailment with hazardous materials, such as crude oil, chlorine, ammonia -- you look at some of the potential bad things that could happen here that could be a significant incident for Canby, and one that (Canby Police) Chief (Bret) Smith and myself are concerned about is the potential for disaster in downtown Canby that is a trail derailment.

City passes 'hate message' resolution

The Canby City Council met in a special meeting Tuesday, July 12, and passed Resolution 1246, expressing opposition to messages of hate.

The special session, which crammed about 50 people inside the council chambers, came on the heels of several Confederate flags appearing on a Sons of Confederate Veterans float in the Canby Independence Day Celebration parade. A front page from 2016.

Councilors and city staffers received messages from the Canby community in the week following the parade — the city council also got an earful at its regular meeting on July 6 — from citizens who voiced their disapproval of the flag's appearance at a city event.

Originally, the city council did not issue a public response to the deluge of messages and did not plan to do so, prompting Councilor Tracie Heidt to post a statement online about the week's events and the city's slow response.

By Friday of that week, the city called the July 12 special meeting to not only engage in public discourse but to hammer out many details of Resolution 1246 in a public setting.

Go, 'Mon, Go

Pokemon Go, the Nintendo cell phone game that now is the most downloaded app in history has taken Canby by storm, just like much of the U.S.

Since the free app was released in early July, Pokemon Go players can be seen everywhere around Canby — small groups of people, which mainly appear to consist of Millennials, huddling together on sidewalks and in Wait Park, walking through parking lots and crossing streets without looking, all while staring at their cell phones trying to snag one of the game's 151 catchable monsters, which have names like Mewtwo, Smogon, Zubat and Rattata.

AUGUST

STEAM-ing Students

Adam Gingerich, a fifth-grade teacher at Eccles Elementary, started a science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) program, which began August 1, where he teaches third and fourth graders how to build working computers from donated parts, as well as coding skills.

Yes, it's already too late to sign up for classes this year, for those wondering.

Gingerich enlisted support from four Canby-area organizations — Canby Telcom, the Canby Kiwanis Club, Clackamas County Computer Services and Bridging Cultures Canby — as well as the Canby School District, to sponsor the program, which runs weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Aug. 17.

"After the students finish their builds they will be learning how to code using Java

script and practice creating 3D animation," Gingerich said. "Nothing extremely easy is going to be happening. It gives kids a basic understanding of what programming is and an understanding of how computers work. They all have technology devices in their homes but it's important for them to also know what a CPU is — it's not just a magic box that you put video games into."

Aurora student selected for national scholars group

The National Society of High School Scholars has selected Gisela Villasenor, a junior at North Marion High School, to become a member of the organization.

The society recognizes top scholars who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, scholarship and community commitment.

The announcement was made by NSHSS Founder and Chairman Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel prizes.

Heritage trail unveiled

Last week's First Friday event had a little something extra with the unveiling of the city's first heritage trail by the Canby Historic Review Board. Mayor Brian Hodson and Main Street Manager Jamie Stickel (above) checked out one of the markers that provides information about the heritage trail next to the Wait Park gazebo. Both offered their thoughts on the project, along with HRB President Carol Palmer before the unveiling. Visitors to the park were able to look at the plaques that will go up at the historic trail sites around downtown (left).

Ageless aviation dreams help WWII vets soar

The Aurora State Airport played host on August 18 to nine Oregon U.S. military veterans, aged 72 to 96 years old, who had the chance to fly in a 1942 Boeing Stearman open-aired, two-seater bi-wing airplane — the same make and model used to train aviators in the 1940s.

The flights were made possible through funding provided by the Vital Life Foundation, a Milwaukie-based nonprofit that supports causes and resources that help seniors, the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2011 that honors seniors and U.S. military veterans living in long-term care facilities, and Sport Clips, the haircut salon that caters to men and boys.

"Vital Life serves to provide meaning and vitality in the lives of seniors, and that's exactly what today was all about," said Ann Adrian, the foundation's executive director. "Each and every one of these senior veterans dedicated a portion of their lives to serving our country and it's so important that they are recognized for doing so."

World War II veteran Bob Fisher was sitting quietly in the shade, watching as his plane landed after taking a veteran up for a 30-minute flight at about 1,000 feet. Fisher said his son originally came up with the idea of providing free flights in their own Boeing Stearman biplane, which they restored in March 2011, and when he gave his permission, his son revealed that he already had two people scheduled to fly.

"I remember WWII really well — I fought in it," Fisher said.

SEPTEMBER

School leaders, parents outraged at bus service

Canby students and their parents expressed excitement on Facebook about the start of the 2016-17 school year during the week leading to opening day for all kids.

But after a week of students getting picked and up dropped off late for school, or taken home as late as after 5:00 p.m. in some cases, the school district had enough and called out the companys executives during a recent work session. A front page from 2016.

The Canby School District Board of Directors and school officials, as well as representatives from Student Transportation of America (STA), engaged in pointed discussions about the poor bus service and the company's demonstrated lack of preparedness from day one.

The outrage was evident in STA receiving repeated phone calls from parents and CSD officials wondering why buses were late to scheduled stops, and by the company's full voicemail box, which kept parents and school officials from contacting STA with concerns. Later, the company established a phone number CSD officials can call to get an immediate response from a human, STA General Manager Rowdy Bates told the board.

Canby native survives Louisiana flooding

On the day she was supposed to come back to Canby for a visit, Mina Saadati instead came face-to-face with a life-changing event.

On the morning of Friday, Aug. 12, she had just woken up around 6 a.m. and was about to let her dog out when she discovered her home in Denham Spring, La., was surrounded by water. That discovery and her evacuation in the face of relentless flooding in her part of the state left her faced with the prospect of rebuilding her life. The 2005 Canby High School graduate isn't alone. She's one of 105,000 in Denham Springs who are trying to rebuild some semblance of their old lives in the aftermath of the flooding.

"I don't have flood insurance, no one in my neighborhood does," Saadati said. "We are not in a flood zone at all. This area hasn't flooded in, like, 1,000 years. It was totally unexpected and it has been awful to say the least."

Canby FFA team wins state finals

After testing their equine knowledge against the top schools in Oregon, the Canby High School FFA horse evaluation team did not expect to win state and initially didn't plan to travel back to Corvallis the next day to hear the final results.

But team advisor Patty Abell withheld a secret.

She received word of the team's triumph, told the team they had placed in the top four and must return the next day to hear the results.

Not until the results were revealed did the Cougars realize their achievement.

"As they made the announcement, it dawned on them. 'Oh my god, we won the contest,'" Abell said.

She added: "It was a great feeling because the kids worked so hard."

Someone started a Canby podcast

Sometimes you just have to say, "What the heck," and do it.

In a nutshell, that's Tyler Clawson, co-founder of The Vision Obscured, a six-month-old podcast produced by three Canby friends that focuses on not giving up on the pursuit of dreams.

Clawson said it was his own experience getting stonewalled in the film industry that led him to start The Vision Obscured with co-creator Brandon Suydam and producer David Tutmark.

OCTOBER

Downtown development in the future?

The city of Canby has plans in the works to sell its downtown property to Portland-based Hanlon Development, which would knock down all existing city structures, except for the historic city hall building, to build a 32,000-square-foot mixed-use development with retail on the ground floor and mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments on the top three.

The project, currently working its way through the Canby Planning Commission's vetting process, is a way for the city to keep the five downtown buildings and property it owns from remaining unoccupied or individually for sale for a long period of time, essentially turning blight into beauty, as City Attorney Jospeh Lindsay indicated during a recent Canby Urban Renewal Agency (URA) meeting, which is the charge of the URA.

Rick Robinson, Canby's city administrator, said the so-called "city block" properties would be worth a total of about $1.8 million if sold individually, but selling the property as a whole to Hanlon Development, which has a solid plan for turning those properties into a four-story, 70-unit retail and housing complex, could reinvigorate downtown businesses and create housing that will accommodate what amounts to built-in shoppers living in town, as well as create a new tax-revenue stream for the city of as much as $15 million.

The new library opens

The new library-civic building welcomed more than 300 people to its grand opening Saturday morning. After words of thanks from City Administrator Rick Robinson, Urban Renewal Agency Chairman Tim Dale and Mayor Brian Hodson (right), those gathered witnessed the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and then were free to tour the new Canby Public Library, and enjoy cake and refreshments.

Construction of the facility cost $6.9 million. The overall cost of the project (including property purchase, design, permits and fees, etc.) was $9.4 million. The project broke ground on Aug. 21, 2015 and construction began that October.

When the chicken (poop) crosses the road

What a load, and what an afternoon for the Canby Fire Department.

A semi-truck carrying 30,000 pounds of chicken fertilizer overturned on the northbound side of Highway 99E just north of Canby on Friday, Oct. 21 around 1:30 p.m., backing up traffic for miles all the way through town for about four hours, Canby Fire Department (CFD) Chief Jim Davis said.

Besides the 30,000-pound mess, the truck also had a small diesel fuel leak. The Oregon Department of Transportation incident management team and Canby Fire used street sweepers and shovels to clean up chicken fertilizer all over the highway, as well as the minor fuel spill, traffic in both directions was diverted to South End Road where a second accident occurred, this one involving two vehicles, one trying to turn into a driveway and the other T-boning it, Davis said.

NOVEMBER

The end of an era

An era came to a close for the Canby Fire District (CFD) when Dr. Richard Davies, the district's medical director, or physician advisor, of the last 38 years, retired in a small ceremony at the fire department last week.

Davies, whose father was Canby Fire's medical director prior to his tenure, joined CFD in 1978 as a volunteer firefighter. He became the physician advisor within two years and began teaching new techniques and protocols for medical treatment of patients prior to and during transportation to the hospital.

Mengelberg picks up state honor

Canby Economic Development Director Renate Mengelberg has been named the economic development leader of the year by the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA), a group of about 150 practitioners from across the state who promote business and healthy business clients in their respective cities.

New face joins pair of council vets

Results of the 2016 local general biennial election posted by Clackamas County Elections show Canby City Council candidate Sarah Spoon was the top vote getter, followed by Tim Dale and Traci Hensley in third.

Spoon will serve for her first time in a government position, and Dale and Hensley will serve their second full terms as elected councilors — each originally was appointed.

Mayor Brian Hodson, running unopposed, was re-elected.

BottleDrop redemption center push is on

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will award citizens for recycling less by increasing the statewide beverage container redemption value from 5 cents to 10 cents per bottle or can beginning April 1, 2017.

Frank Cutsforth, owner of Cutsforth's Thriftway, said that although there are three beverage container recycling centers in Canby — one each at Fred Meyer, Cutsforth's and Safeway — a BottleDrop redemption center is needed in Canby because the closest such facility is in Oregon City.

"It's a better way of handling it for one because people coming into the grocery store, both customers and employees, hate the mess and the odor it creates in the back room, or outside the store," Cutsforth said. "It's really not conducive to a grocery store because of the sanitation part of it. It would be nice for our customers in Canby to have one place to return all of their bottles and cans."

DECEMBER

Homeless student rates continue to rise

Nearly 8,000 public school children — a 9.3 percent increase from two years ago — in the tri-county area meet the federal definition of homeless.

That's according to 2015-16 data released Thursday from the Oregon Department of Education.

The data also shows the Canby School District (CSD) has 357 homeless students in grades K-12 for the 2015-16 school year, an increase from 311 last February, according to Maggie Rosario, homeless student liaison for CSD. Additionally, those 357 students account for 7.63 percent of CSD's student body.

During the 2014-15 school year, 263 CSD students were homeless, or 5.61 of the student population, and for the 2013-14 academic year the homeless student total was 251, or 5.29 of the student body.

CSD experienced a two year decrease in its homeless student population from 2012-13 when the numbers reached 277 students before falling through the 2014-15 school year.

Making it all work

The city of Canby is using a little-known finance tool to pay for the cost of constructing an 8-inch gravity sewer line along SE 13th Avenue from Sequoia Parkway to Mulino Road that it anticipates planned and projected development will connect into, and it will require those future property owners to pay the city a proportionate share for tapping into the municipal sewage system.

The Canby City Council designated the city as the developer of an advance finance district (AFD) to recover the costs of constructing an $850,000 sewage lift station that will serve future adjoining properties, and kept the door open to one day create a second AFD if future expenses are incurred for utility improvements in the area.

An advance financing district is a tool that municipalities use to fund the cost of public works improvement projects while postponing repayment for the benefitting property owners until the property actually is developed.

Snow-Mageddon: Arrival at last

A week earlier, predictions of a major snow event didn't quite pan out that way. Though snow fell in Canby on Dec. 8, the totals weren't much to write home about.

That wouldn't be the case Dec. 14 as what was considered a weaker weather threat bared its teeth a little more.

The valley floor was covered with anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of snow by Wednesday night and below freezing temperatures through the weekend left the valley, including Canby, in a bit of an icy mess.. Fortunately, while cars and humans did a little slipping and sliding in the aftermath of the storm, there were no serious injuries or issues that would arise.

Person of the year

Many people cringe a little looking back at 2016 with its extreme highs and lows, which is why it was noteworthy that everyone smiled down to the last person when we mentioned to citizens the selection of City Administrator Rick Robinson as the Canby Herald's first-ever selection as 2016's Person of the Year.

"He's been practically heroic getting Canby on a track towards modernity," City Councilor Tracie Heidt said. "Getting the library project on the tracks and completed so quickly, routing all the disparate partners involved and after the hurt feelings and divisiveness caused with the old project he very deftly navigated through the old wounds and to a building everyone pleased with. That's top notch."

Robinson doesn't see his role that way.

In fact, Robinson gets noticeably uncomfortable when the spotlight finds its way directly on him, and always sort of whitewashes his work with others.