Clackamas Fire Chief Fred Charlton, Police Chief Jim Band lend support to program at 606 John Adams St.

Hey kids, it's finally time to decide whether firefighters or police officers are cooler.

Oregon City librarians have launched a campaign called "Battle of the Chiefs" to encourage summer reading. When children sign up for the program, they get to vote for the chief of Clackamas Fire or the chief of the Oregon City Police Department.

PHOTOS COURTESY: CITY OF OC - Clackamas Fire Chief Fred Charlton and Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band have become celebrity cutouts for kids to vote on using stickers at the Oregon City Public Library.Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band is the first on the promotional video and tells kids that he hopes they have a great summer with lots of reading. His pitch to get the kids to vote for police? Cop cars are faster than fire trucks.

Not to be outdone, Fire Chief Fred Charlton comes on the video next with a pitch of his own for kids' votes, with the help of Sparky the Fire Dog, an adult-sized mascot who can be seen holding up three fingers and giving a thumbs-up during the video.

"Clackamas Fire needs your help to build a butterfly garden this summer at the Oregon City library," Charlton said. "We need you to do three things: Read for 25 minutes a day, read for 25 days, and help support Clackamas Fire and Sparky the Fire Dog."

Kids vote for Band or Charlton by placing a sticker on one of their life-sized cutouts in the library. Community outreach funding for OCPD and Clackamas Fire will donate 25 cents to the proposed butterfly garden for each sticker placed on the cutouts. Each organization has a maximum donation amount of $250 for a total of $500 for the project.

PHOTOS COURTESY: CITY OF OC - When you sign up for Oregon City's Adult Summer Reading program, you receive this tote bag (while supplies last), modeled by library assistant Hannah Bostrom. Voting ends on Aug. 21, and kids can earn up to five stickers/votes: one for signing up for the summer-reading program, one for each reading log they complete (up to three for kids who read every day this summer), and one for completing a Library Bingo card that library staff will be handing out in July.

Barratt Miller, Oregon City's Youth Services Librarian, ordered the cardboard cutouts of the chiefs from a website called Party Standups, which makes custom cutouts of anyone you want, if you have a decent picture and $100. Ready to Read grant funds went to purchase the cutouts and the stickers.

"It's a great way to visually represent an abstract concept like donations for kids," Miller said. "We have two staff members with an interest in photography who used their good cameras to take the photographs we submitted for the cutouts."

Miller borrowed the cardboard-cutouts/stickers concept from Bryce Kozla, who currently works for Washington County Cooperative Library Services

Genesis of project

Last spring, Library Director Maureen Cole mentioned that she'd love it if library staff could build on the friendly rivalry between the police and fire departments in a way that would get all three organizations working together in the community.

Since the theme for this summer's reading program is Build a Better World, Miller thought that working with Clackamas Fire and OCPD, Oregon City's two biggest "community helpers," would be a natural fit for that idea. Miller officially got them to come on board in November, when Clackamas Fire and OCPD agreed to race to see who could be the first to reach a donation goal for a kid-selected community project.

Starting in December, the library's Children's Room and Teen Area featured posters with the question, "What would make Oregon City an even better place to live?"

"Kids and teens (and some adults) wrote their answers on sticky notes we provided and shared them on the board," Miller said. "We got hundreds of suggestions from people of all ages! Almost right away, we got several gardening suggestions and I knew we had a really great idea work with."

PHOTO COURTESY: WILLAMETTE FALLS MEDIA CENTER - As seen in this screen shot of a video in which a butterfly is digitally added in, a garden will be planted in the concrete planter directly to the west of the Oregon City Public Library's Sixth Street entrance.Miller got the butterfly-garden idea from her friend Lauren Chambers, the teen librarian at the Urbana Free Library in Champaign, Illinois, who planted one with the help of her library's teen advisory board last summer.

The "Build a Better World" Summer Reading theme is used by every public library in Oregon as part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program.

"Themes and activities are planned about three years in advance by a group of librarians from all 50 U.S. states, several U.S, territories, and—as of this year — Australia," Miller said. "As we were planning the butterfly garden project, I began to suspect that whoever suggested this theme way back in 2013 must have had a crystal ball. Given the current political climate, it seems especially important that we give our kids an opportunity to come together as a community this summer to do something that benefits everyone in Oregon City."

Butterfly garden

The butterfly garden will be planted in the concrete planter directly to the west of the library entrance on Sixth Street. The wheelchair/stroller access ramp from Carnegie Park's spray park to the library winds around this planter.

Oregon City officials plan to select a mixture of plants that feed larvae and plants that serve as nectar sources for adult butterflies, with an emphasis on native plants and plants that are non-toxic to the children and dogs who visit Carnegie Park.

"We'll be working closely with the [Oregon City] Parks Department to purchase and plant the garden," Miller said. "Extra touches may include some miniature furniture for any fairies who happen to visit the garden, a butterfly hatching kit for our Children's Room, and a party to celebrate the garden opening sometime this fall."

Once the garden is planted, teen members of the library's soon-to-be-formed teen advisory group will maintain the garden. Interested middle and high school students can apply for the advisory group at the library starting in July.

If you'd like to help out the butterfly garden, you can donate to Clackamas Fire or OCPD's community-outreach funds, or you play the "coin race" in the Children's Room at the library. By playing the coin race, you can watch coins make their way through a maze and help the library raise money for child-specific activities. The library's first "coin race" purchase was the pretend kitchen play area.

"If we need additional funds beyond the $500 for the butterfly garden, I plan to dip into my coin-race fund," Miller said. "Since the money is donated by kids and families in OC, I'd like to give them a chance to vote on what we should do for our next coin-race project."

Read this summer!

Sign up for the summer-reading programs through July 28 at the Oregon City Public Library, 606 John Adams St. More information is available at or

Adult participants will receive a tote bag (while supplies last), bookmark, bingo card, word search and prize-drawing entry slips that you will use to record your reading. Every week through Aug. 19, drawings will be held for a variety of prizes, including:

• Oregon City Brewing Company gift certificate and swag

• First City Central Marketplace and Bistro gift certificate

• Movie tickets

• Mike's Drive-In gift certificates

• Fat Cupcake gift certificate

• Dutch Bros. gift cards

• Singer Hill gift card

• White Rabbit gift card

• Summer Reading coloring supplies and more!

Kids can participate in "Monday Fundays" at the library at 10 and 11 a.m. every Monday beginning June 19 through Aug. 21. Check out the Events&Calendars page of the Clackamas Review/Oregon City News or visit the library's website for more information.

Oregon City Public Library staff would like to acknowledge everyone who helped with the video:


• Melody Ashford and the team at Willamette Falls Media Center, who filmed and edited the video.

• Fire Chief Fred Charlton, Lt. Steve Hoffeditz, Sparky the Fire Dog and all of the Oregon City-based Clackamas Fire staff members.

• Chief Jim Band, Community Outreach Coordinator Chris Wadsworth and all of the OCPD staff members.

• The youth volunteers (and library staff) who acted in the video

• Jessica Varga, an OC teen who drew our Build a Better World art as part of the LINCC Teen Art Contest.

• Library staff "for being the best teammates I could ask for," said Barratt Miller, Oregon City's Youth Services Librarian.

• Volunteers, Friends of the Oregon City Public Library, Library Foundation supporters, Library Board members, city staff members, City Commission and everyone else who supports the library year-round.

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