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The Molalla Pioneer recently sent a number of questions to Mayor Jimmy Thompson, City Manager Dan Huff and Public Works Director Gerald Fisher. The following are their answers.

There's been talk about pop up stores as well as an art store featuring articles from area artists. How or what can council members do to make that happen?

I believe the "pop up" comment came from a Clackamas County Arts Alliance meeting a couple of months ago. The first action that needs to occur is a City Council decision on whether or not the Arts Commission should be reinstated. The other component would be funding. Where would the funding derive from? We need to move forward on those items long before discussing a pop-up store.

In so far as pop up stores, there is not much the council can do. There are opportunities at events for booths and such, but to utilize an actual property it would be up to the property owner to do so. In so far as art, there are discussion of bringing back the arts commission which would be the board that would help make something like that happen.

When is the city planning to hire an economic development director? An appointment like this would provide the city with a strong focus for new businesses? Can the city afford to hire someone for such a job?

At this point in time we do not have plans to hire an Economic Development Staff person. We currently work very closely with the Clackamas County Business and Economic Development Department. While someone focused purely on economic development for the city may provide some benefit, and the city needs to keep an eye on the future, there are things that still need to be done before economic development becomes a primary focus. The city needs to be able to support such development before it more actively pursues it.

What happened to the city council working together with the chamber of commerce? There used to be a chamber member at each meeting, that hasn't happened in the last few months?

The City continues to try and build the relationship with the Chamber as well as promote the Chambers success. We have a council liaison to their board, and they still have an open seat at the council meetings to participate in the discussions. You may need to ask the Chamber the question regarding their attendance.

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This budget year the city and the school district signed an IGA to equally pay for a School Resource Officer. Are there any other of these agreements on the way? Why or why not?

We have no plans to increase or expand the SRO program. We will be focusing on establishing the new SRO program and building a relationship with the District with our current agreement. The city and the school district regularly meet to discuss opportunities for cooperation. Any additions to the current program will require additional funding from both agencies and I believe that is a few years off. While there are likely not any other IGA's like that for the School Resource Officer on the horizon, there are discussions on how to improve the community and the services that each entity provides.

What has the city done and what can it continue to do to show residents that the council members and staff are working for them?

DH: Continue to repair/replace aging infrastructure and provide the best level of service possible with the limited resources provided. I believe the City has greatly improved its information provision through our updated Website as well as our Facebook page. Monthly Public Works updates have also outlined our progress on the many projects throughout the City.

JT: My personal cell phone number is 503-737-4487. It is on the website. My email is HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I take calls all the time regarding the city from residents with concerns, I respond to emails, and I do my best to have a presence on Facebook communities regarding the City.

I think we still have work to do to overcome the stigma of the Good Ole Boys club, but that only happens in time. If you look at where the city was five years ago, and where it is today, financially in particular, I think it has been shown that the council and staff work for our city. We need to continue to be open and transparent, take advantage of things like Facebook for livestreaming meetings, and continue to work to engage citizens in what we are doing. The visioning project should provide some groundwork to address any areas where a better alignment of community expectations and staff or council expectations are possible.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF MOLALLA - Molalla's wastewater treatment plant is out of date, and a new master plan will be presented Sept. 12.

All in all, what would you like to say about how the city has improved from five years ago? Discuss!

DH: The City of Molalla went through some trying times fiscally about ten (10) years ago. However, over the past five years we have worked hard at rebuilding a fiscal portfolio that allows us to improve and fund community services. We established a goal a few years ago that residents and visitors should experience and improvement in their community annually and we have met that goal every year.  

JT: Five years ago was the first time the City received a clean audit in years, and began the steady progress to where we are today. There was a lot of work that led up to it, but I feel that was a real turning point for our city. Past decisions made with the best of intentions left a pretty big hole, but that hole has been filled in and those decisions mostly corrected.

I attend meetings outside of Molalla, and have been party to discussions where when Molalla was brought up it was almost passed over because decision makers outside of our community had only heard about financial troubles or other issues the city had. It has been a pleasure to set the record straight, and to have decision makers begin to include Molalla in those conversations. To have our House Representative take up the torch for Molalla and secure $750,000 in additional funding for Hwy 211 was a huge success, as is having County Commissioners fight for us in regional transportation funding discussions.

We have a great council, and exceptional city staff who really do work for the community, often with fewer resources than other communities yet consistently meeting the challenges they face.

How can you get more residents involved in working with and for the city? It would be nice to see more people attending council meetings, especially those who aren't there to complain. Many people are attending our meetings on-line. That actually works against attendance but they are being informed by watching. Both Council and Staff would always choose more people in-person but today that is difficult.  

It is a bit of a secret, but we don't even mind people who come to complain. At least they give us an opportunity to address a concern when they do.

The city now has a Facebook page, and is streaming council meetings. I think we need to have more townhalls where we invite people to hear their concerns in a less formal format than an official meeting. The visioning project has led to some excellent engagement. The first meeting with stakeholders was probably one of the biggest meetings the adult center has ever hosted. I believe there were 45 people there. The 2nd meeting was even better attended.

The council agreed to put a ban on plastic bags on the November ballot. How is that project coming? What is being done and by who? Any other measures you plan to put on the ballot?

Councilor Childress is working with Molalla High School Leadership to have a presence at the Celebrate Molalla event and MHS Leadership is working on educating the community. Other than the open council seats, no other items that we are aware of.

Big cities typically do a state of the city annually in February. Any chance the mayor will start this coming up?

We have discussed doing so. It didn't work out this year, but may in the future.

There's a seat open on the council. What do you plan to do about it? Will you appoint someone or will you put it on the ballot? Also, three seats will be open in January and it's nearing time for the ballot explanations, can you tell us whether Elizabeth Klein and Leota Childress plan to run for their seats? Anyone else considering a run? I know that Glen Boreth is not planning on running.

Council appointed Jody Newland to the open Council seat on August 22nd. Councilors Klein and Childress have picked up their information and will be running again, unless they change their minds. We have received a filing from Terry Shankle for the seat being vacated by Councilor Boreth.

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