A look back
From welcoming more than 10 new businesses and a local high school ranking among the top 40 schools in Oregon, 2019 was an eventful year in Estacada. The community said farewell to the original Faraday Powerhouse and learned that Timber Lake Job Corps would remain in operation after its potential closure was announced. New City Councilors were sworn in, and the Estacada Rural Fire District's board of directors moved forward with a contract for service with Clackamas Fire.
With 2020 just around the corner, the Estacada News took a look back awt some of this year's top stories.
History comes to town
In February, Estacada Funeral Chapel received a special visitor — a replica of Abraham Lincoln's coffin. Estacada Funeral Chapel owner Rob Gaskill partnered with the Batesville Casket Company of Indiana to bring the coffin to Estacada.
It was one of five replicas made by the casket company, four of which travel around the U.S. The fifth is part of the permanent collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
"What a great thing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this funeral home and see how things were done back then," Gaskill commented in February.
This year, many new businesses opened in Estacada, including Totally Unique Hair Design, Working Concepts, Parlour Beauté Bar, CBDlish, Sol Tapatio, New Panda, Expozed Ink, VIJ Eatery, Vitality Juice Co., Blush and Roses Flower Shop, Broadway Barber Shop, Lennox Jai Boutique and the Freckled Peach.
Additionally, Stone Circle Cider opened a tasting room, Fire and Knives BBQ established a food truck and Hillockburn Farm opened a new shop.
Longtime Harmony Bakery owner Linda Lawrence and chef Sandy Walker announced their retirement at the end of the year, with Lawrence's niece Jenny Beaudoin taking over operations at the bakery.
New members join City Council
During their first meeting of the year, several Estacada City Councilors took their oaths of office. Councilors Katy Dunsmuir and Jerry Tenbush were elected in the November 2018 election, and Councilor Justin Gates and Mayor Sean Drinkwine were re-elected to their positions at that same time.
In April, the council received a new member and a new leader. Councilor Aaron Gant stepped down from his position because he was moving outside of city limits, and Councilor Eric Hall was appointed to fill the vacancy.
Dunsmuir was selected as Council President, a position that Gant had previously filled.
"I'm excited to continue representing Estacada inside and outside of city limits," she said in April. "I have a lot of hope for the future."
Fire district looks to the future
The year saw several changes for the Estacada Rural Fire District, including a new board member and the approval of a contract for service with Clackamas Fire.
During an election in May, Ken Oliver was elected to Position 2 on the group's board of directors, and incumbents John McAdoo and John Bresko were reelected to their positions.
In October, the board voted 4-1 to approve a contract for service with Clackamas Fire. As outlined in the agreement, voters from each district will consider the integration of Estacada Fire into Clackamas Fire during the November 2020 election. The integration would need to be approved by constituents of both Estacada and Clackamas to take effect.
The contract begins Jan. 1, 2020, and continues through June 30, 2021. Clackamas Fire will staff the Estacada Fire Station with three firefighters for all 24-hour shifts, something that Estacada Fire can provide only 68% of the time. The George Fire Station will be staffed with additional volunteers, and Clackamas will provide Estacada with 24-hour fire chief coverage. If a merger is approved, staffing at the Estacada Fire Station will increase to four people.
"From a sensibility standpoint of providing the best possible service to the community, what's before you this evening has been really thought through, and I think it's the best for the community," director Matthew Silva said in October.
School district launches new programs, strategic plan
The Estacada School District saw several triumphs this year, including being ranked among Oregon's top 40 high schools by US News and World report.
The magazine named Estacada High 39th out of 253 high schools in the state. The rankings considered the number of seniors who passed at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam, the number of seniors who passed AP or IB tests in multiple subjects, student proficiency and performance in math and reading, and the number of students who graduated within four years.
"We are very proud of the hard work of both our students and staff to achieve this type of recognition," said Estacada High School Principal Bill Blevins.
In July, the Estacada School Board approved a new strategic plan for the district that looks to the future. The title of the plan, Envision Estacada Schools 2030, is a reference to when this year's first-graders will graduate from high school.
"It's a five-year plan, but we want to think longer than that," said Maggie Kelly, communications coordinator for the district.
In Estacada classrooms, students could enroll in an agriculture program, which was re-launched this year because of increased community interest. High school students could study plant science, animal science and agricultural leadership, and middle school students were able to enroll in an introductory course.
Meanwhile, the district's youngest learners could enroll in a pre-kindergarten program, which focused on literature, math, science, social studies and social and emotional skills.
In terms of district leadership, Estacada School Board incumbents Ben Wheeler, Ken Riedel, Jamie Smith and William Johnston were re-elected to their positions with the group during an election in May. Previous Estacada High School Vice Principal Trevor Syring stepped into a newly created position as vice principal of both elementary schools, and Jocelyn McIntire was selected as Syring's successor at the high school.
For the 2019-20 school year, six Estacada High School alumni returned to the district to teach, including Rita Hill, Kristine Bible, Bri Jury, Emma Kirchoffer, Brandy Atwell and Sammie Beaton.
Library increases offerings
Several new programs launched at the Estacada Public Library, including the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The program, made possible through a partnership between the Estacada Community Foundation and Friends of the Estacada Public Library, mails books to young readers once a month until their fifth birthday.
Program leaders hosted a kickoff event in January, and almost one year later, 176 children are participating.
In September, Estacada joined several other libraries in Clackamas County in creating a Library of Things, from which patrons can check out items for baking, crafting, music, outdoor activities and more.
New activities come to parks
Leaders on the Parks and Recreation Commission focused their efforts on the next phase of Wade Creek Park. Phase three of Wade Creek Park will include an outdoor amphitheater, a community room, picnic shelter, new trails, exercise features and a restored stream. As of November, $1.2 million had been raised for the project.
The summer saw a new tradition of concerts at Wade Creek Park. O Brother, the Red Hots, Alaina Fidanzo and Eryn Morgan all took the stage and provided live music for attendees, while the Estacada High School Boosters Club hosted a barbecue.
Job Corps remains in Mt. Hood National Forest
In May, Timber Lake Job Corps was one of nine Civilian Conservation Centers proposed for deactivation by the federal government. However, this was not without pushback from local community members and political leaders.
Shortly after the announcement, Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined colleagues from both sides of the political aisle in introducing legislation to reverse the decision. In June, it was announced that the centers would remain open.
"Today's news is a huge victory for the people of Oregon and for rural communities across the country," Merkley said that month. "At a time when the West has faced devastating, back-to-back fire seasons, dismantling the CCCs was a reckless and wrong-headed decision. Oregonians can breathe a huge sigh of relief that our beloved CCCs are safe and our students will remain on the job."
This year, Estacada said goodbye to the original Faraday Powerhouse and learned that the Clackamas River Ranger Office would relocate to Sandy in 2020.
The Faraday Powerhouse, Portland General Electric's first dam on the Clackamas River that was built 111 years ago, was demolished in May. The new structure will generate additional energy, provide a safer environment for fish and feature new flood protections and additional seismic stability.
Meanwhile, employees of the Clackamas River Ranger District will move to Sandy next year. Clackamas River Ranger District employees will move from their office on Industrial Way in Estacada to join the Mt. Hood National Forest Headquarters in Sandy.
Combining the two offices was a joint decision by staff at the Mt. Hood National Forest and the General Service Administration, the federal government's leasing agent.
"We used to have a bigger workforce," said Laura Pramuk, Mt. Hood National Forest public affairs officer. "We want to be responsible stewards of taxpayer funds and not pay to lease two buildings that are bigger than what we need."
Community members do good
At the Chamber of Commerce's Community Recognition ceremony in October, Connie Redmond was named the Estacadian of the Year; the Estacada Lions Club and the Estacada Garden Girls were honored as Outstanding Nonprofit Groups; Parlour Beauté Bar was recognized as the Best Business; Zachary Backwell was lauded as the Outstanding Youth of the Year; Ryan Liberman was honored as the Outstanding Public Employee of the Year; Mary Cooper was honored as Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year; Trevor Syring was honored as the Outstanding School District Employee of the Year; and the Harvest Market employees were honored for Outstanding Customer Service.
Chamber leaders also gave two Lifetime Achievement Awards, which recognize "an individual or group that has spent their lifetime investing in our community." Linda Lawrence and Sandy Walker of Harmony Baking Company, and Candace Hammond of Estacada Vision Clinic were honored in this category.
In the Estacada American Legion Carl Douglas Post's annual teacher, firefighter and law enforcement officer of the year awards, Estacada Middle School's Kristole Juker, Nick Wettlaufer of the Estacada Rural Fire District and Deputy Dan Steeves of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office were all recognized for their service to the community.
Community members also took home a variety of other noteworthy accomplishments.
Clackamas County Parks Ranger and Eagle Creek resident Victor Harshman rode his bike across the country in the 2019 Trans Am Bike Race; Estacada Middle School student Maria Roshto was selected as the cover artist for "The Wolfenoot Story," a book written by a 7-year-old New Zealand resident; River Mill Elementary student Parker Trujillo participated in the Amateur National Motocross Championship; Estacada Middle School teacher Christine Boatman earned a summer fellowship in Greece; and Estacada Middle School student Maddy McCullough was selected as the Estacada News' 2019 Amazing Kid for her work organizing a pet food drive at the Estacada Area Food Bank.
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