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A community visioning process promises to give the Molalla community an opportunity to envision a future it wants and plan how to make it happen.

Pastor Dale Satrum, Foothills Community ChurchThe city of Molalla held a meeting where about 35 citizens attended and viewed the results of the Molalla Area Community Visioning survey, taken by more than 100 respondents, which outlined what people like about Molalla and what they would like to see added to the area to improve the quality of life.

Community aspects singled out included the small-town environment, parades and events, residents who take pride in homegrown farm products, the close-knit community and family atmosphere, people's acceptance of others, the slow pace, the city government that encourages people to participate in municipal affairs, minimal traffic, being able to see the stars at night, and the proximity to hiking, fishing, rafting, hunting, biking, sky diving and kayaking, among many other qualities.

The citizens who attended each sat in tables of five or six people, and each group cited what they would like to see more of in Molalla's future.

Dale Satrum, pastor of Foothills Community Church, said that one of the biggest disconnects in Molalla is the lack of connection between the Big Meadow subdivision and downtown.

"There is no citizen or physical connection," Satrum said. "(Those who live in Big Meadow) have no reason to go downtown. It's just their lifestyle. If they need something they just go to Safeway."

Jennifer SatterJennifer Satter, former Molalla city councilor, said she was pleasantly surprised to see that those who responded to the survey wanted to see more community events, and that people feel like they are being ignored by county and state government entities.

"Maybe we could increase our communication about how many things we have that we feel we don't have control over," Satter said. "Perhaps our communication could entail emailing ODOT 10,000 times a day as a way to push things forward (to improve our roads)."

Part of the survey results included a word cloud, which is a visual representation of text data typically used to highlight keywords that people thought of when discussing Molalla. Troy Klein, husband of city councilor Elizabeth Klein, said he was surprised to see so many statements in the cloud were not very positive, although there were many that were affirmative.

The words that appeared largest in the cloud were small-town, country, friendly, quiet, beautiful, tranquil, safe, raise-family, quaint, lively, scenic, unified, progressing, brave, caring, community, potential, growing, peaceful, rural and nostalgic.

Words that could be perceived as negative included struggling, full-of-gossip, identity-crisis, without-personality-soul, religious sheep, decaying-neighborhoods, drunk, unsure-who-we-are-as-a-city, lacking-in-vision, directionless, held-back-by-current-leadership-lid, hostage-to-a-few-prominent-families and corrupt.

Carol Westergreen, owner of Out in the Garden Nursery, said that the city and the school district need to do a better job explaining to the local population what responsibilities each entity holds.

"People don't seem to understand the different roles of government and schools," she said. "The message needs to get out to the population that here's what the city does and here's what the school district does -- what the city can control versus what the school board can do."

Supt. Tony MannTony Mann, superintendent of the Molalla River School District, said the recently-passed pool bond shows people are willing to spend extra money.

"As long as it is for something of value to the community." Mann said.

John Flavin, a teacher at Molalla High School, brought up the Molalla Public Library struggling to get people to attend its events. "Meanwhile, the farmer's market is packed, but maybe that's because it's outdoors."

City Councilor Leota Childress said the visioning process brought out more Molalla residents than she can recall ever seeing in the 11 years she's lived in town.

"There are a lot of events and things we do that Spanish speakers are not a part of or don't know about," Childress said. "Like the library events and farmer's market are not promoted to them. That's very important and it's time that we come together and include all of our community."

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