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Troutdale's Ray Young keeps lines of communication open amid coronavirus turmoil

COURTESY PHOTO: RAY YOUNG - Troutdale City Manager Ray Young While he enjoyed last weekend's blast of spring weather as much as anyone in the area, Troutdale City Manager Ray Young finds a silver lining in the clouds and cool weather that have rolled in since Monday.

"I'm happy the weather turned (bad)," he said. "It keeps (large groups of people) from going outside."

As the coronavirus crisis around the world and U.S. intensifies, Young is — even more than usual — thinking in highly pragmatic terms.

Working with his staff, city leaders including Mayor Casey Ryan and even other city managers around the region, Young is — amidst a tsunami of uncertainty — making a point to keep essential city services running and residents feeling as secure as the situation allows.

"Troutdale has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this point. We're communicating on our website and keeping it updated so citizens know what's going on," he said, noting the importance of assuring "the media, health services and government services are proceeding as normally as possible. When you can't get information, health care and government services, people get really worried."

Troutdale's interim City Hall at 219 E. Historic Columbia River Highway and other city facilities are not open to the public and staffed only to fulfill the most essential duties and services.

"All facilities are staffed, but we're insuring citizens and employees are separated," Young said of social-distancing practices to curtail the spread of coronavirus among individuals.

The city's 14 parks remain open, but all children's play structures are closed and cordoned off with safety tape.

Under the circumstances, city crews are shifting their emphasis from landscaping to hygiene.

"The parks team is (doing) less mowing of grass and more cleaning of bathrooms. If the grass seems to be getting long, it means they're spending time on health and safety issues," he said. "We're putting extra effort into keeping (facilities) clean."

Residents who want to pay their utility bills in person may use the drop box at the front door of City Hall, but Young encourages paying by check or through the city's website (troutdaleoregon.gov) rather than cash — "something people have touched," he said. "A check or paying online is the best."

Young emphasized the currently high level of communications between local and regional governments — as well as organizations dedicated to disaster relief and helping business — is making a seriously challenging situation much smoother to manage.

"Overall, there is a lot of good communication between us and Multnomah County, and the state also is in pretty good communications with us," Young said. "Every day we're getting updates ... There is a lot of information going back and forth. It's really nice to see."


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