Forest Grove leaves Hillsboro in the dust in bell-ringing competition

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: JOHN SCHRAG - Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax rose from the ashes of last-years humiliating third-place finish to a triumphant victory in this years Salvation Army ring-off competition. He credits part of his success to high school choir members who sang near his post.After a dismal third-place finish in last year’s first Salvation Army ring-off competition, Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax held off a late challenge from Fire Chief Michael Kinkade during a Celebrity Ring-off that also included last year’s winner, Police Chief Janie Schutz.

Schutz, who recently marked her one-year anniversary as leader of the police department, came in third this year as the three spent an hour ringing for donations to their Salvation Army red kettles during Saturday’s Holiday in the Grove festivities in downtown Forest Grove.

As of 2:30 p.m., when the official competition ended, Kinkade was neck-and-neck with Schutz, having raised $139.46, to her $139.81, with Truax far ahead, according to Denise Stephens, kettle coordinator for the Salvation Army’s Washington County office.

But Kinkade took his kettle along as he walked in the Holiday Light Parade that evening and gathered even more money.

Tuesday morning, Stephens revealed the final weekend totals: Truax $285; Kinkade $248.45; and Schutz, $139.81.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Truax credited part of his success to the fact that a roving band of choir members from Forest Grove High School stood by him and sang during part of the competition. “That drew some attention,” he said.

All three have bragging rights on behalf of the city of Forest Grove, which raised more than twice as much money as this year’s ring-off in Hillsboro, a city four times its size.

The Red Kettle Campaign raises money for The Salvation Army’s local community programs, including after-school programs, feeding programs and food box and utility assistance.

It’s a welcome boost to a year in which Army officials say the late Thanksgiving knocked a week off its bell-ringing season — and an estimated $113,000 from its usual donation total.

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