Colony Days parade will honor trio of Aurora folks
But three of Aurora's citizens will have very special seats, indeed. Riding in style will be Barb and Arnie Mitchell as king and queen of the parade, and Karen Townsend as volunteer of the year.
The Mitchels are the owners of the Feller House Bed and Breakfast at the intersection of Butteville and Ehlen Roads. They moved to Aurora 10 years ago to buy and remodel the Feller House property, formerly the farmhouse on a hops farm that dated to the 1860s. They had been long-time residents of Newberg, where they raised their son and daughter. Barb worked in the business office of George Fox University for many years and Arnie spent 25 years with Camp Tilikum, 15 as property manager and 10 as director.
"Owning a B&B was a fulfillment of a dream for me," said Barb. "It has been a lot of fun meeting guests from all around the world."
The couple's decade in Aurora has brought many community and volunteer engagements. For seven years they sponsored a community garden on the Feller House property, with group work sessions, weekly potlock dinners and special events such as tomato tastings. Helping to advance the cause of B&Bs, Barb serves on the board of the Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild. The couple both became involved with the Aurora Colony Visitors Association, for which Barb has been treasurer for the past two years.
They have led various beautification efforts in Aurora, such as regular maintenance of the wine-barrel flower planters and restoration of the "Aurora blue" memorial benches that dot the downtown business district.
Townsend is the owner of the Time After Time antiques and gift store in an 1870s-era house on Main Street. She came from Seattle to Aurora in 1981 with her husband Larry and their two young daughters. She opened her business two years later. By the end of the decade, she had begun her long and vital record of civic involvement.
Her life in Aurora has included many terms and many different leadership roles on the city planning commission, the Aurora Colony Historic Museum, the Historic Review Board, and the Aurora Colony Visitors Association (and its predecessor Chamber of Commerce). Currently, she serves on the Historic Review Board and is marketing director for the Aurora Colony Visitors Association. Karen has spearheaded many Aurora projects, including its many new sidewalks and streetscape improvements, and extensive city code revisions for historic identification and protection. Her work has allowed Aurora to win many competitive state grants to fund municipal improvements and economic development projects.
The hallmark of all of Townsend's efforts has been fruitful coordination and cooperation among numerous and sometimes disparate entities, volunteer groups and interested individuals.
"We always find common ground in our mutual love for Aurora," she said.
John Berard, chair of the Colony Days parade committee, said that Barb, Arnie and Karen exemplify how individuals make a difference in Aurora.
"They truly are vital members of the community. They don't merely live here and make their living here -- they give thoughtfully and generously of their time, talent and probably some of their personal treasure to make Aurora a better place for all of us and our many visitors," he said. And "They enjoy doing it. That's plain for anyone to see, and it's infectious."