Welcome to Part 1 of the annual Year in Review: a roundup of some of the past year's stories.


Water main breaks Thursday night

An eight-inch water main that ruptured on Thursday night in Molalla caused 19 homes to be without water until about 5 a.m. the next day.

The rupture occurred at about 6:15 p.m. around the middle of Storey Drive, near the elementary school on the west side of town, and proceeded to flood a significant portion of the street, according to residents in the area.

Molalla Public Works responded and completed repairs of the water main early Friday morning as they worked through the night.

Mulino 10-year-old Kylie Boyle and her family were cast as extras in Hawaii Five-0.Extra, Extra

If you've ever had the opportunity to take a vacation to the gorgeous land of Hawaii, then you know just how hard it is to come back home to the Pacific Northwest, especially at this time of the year.

For Mulino 10-year-old Kylie Boyle and her family, however, that painful realization of heading home to the rain and chilly temperatures has been nonexistent, at least for the past three months.

The Boyle family has been living on the island of Oahu since October as they all were recently cast as extras in the television show Hawaii Five-0. Kylie's parents, Marc and Kinsey, had both been extras on the show in the past as well, and Kylie decided she wanted to give it a go as well.

Impact of slide closes roads

Oregon Department of Transportation closed the left northbound lane of Highway 213 Friday after Clackamas County closed Eldorado Road at its southern intersection of 213 on Thursday. Both closures are indefinite and are due to worsening road conditions resulting from a large slide.

Drilling began Monday on the highway as part of the second phase of work to remediate the effects of the ancient slide, and with it, more movement of the cracks is likely; but ODOT assures drivers that the road remains safe.

A Change of heart

It turns out that Molalla City Councilor Cindy Dragowsky will not be leaving her council post after all.

After some soul-searching and time to think, Dragowsky rescinded her resignation letter of last Tuesday and will remain a councilor for Molalla, Mayor Jimmy Thompson said Wednesday morning.

Thompson said he was happy to have her stay.

"I'm glad she's going to be there," said Thompson. "I was upset we were losing her. I think she's a valuable member of the council and the city is in good hands with her there."


Goal reached

Former city councilor, Jason Griswold, who is leading a petition for a referendum to repeal Molalla's newly instated ordinance which allows the city to charge a fee for street maintenance, needed 558 petition signatures by Feb. 9 to refer the decision to voters.

He reportedly delivered 770 signatures to the city, then the city reviewed them and came up with a total of 743. Now those signatures must be verified by the county.

Griswold is leading the petition because he believes that city fees have gotten out of hand.


Twenty-five years later, Molalla High School's 1993 state champion girls' basketball team will meet on the court once again.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the program's state title, current head coach Phil Wiesner coordinated with current MHS volleyball head coach and member of the 1993 girls' basketball team Lauree Nelzen to round up as many of her high school teammates for a reunion at a home game this season. Nelzen made it happen, and the team will reunite and be honored at halftime during this Friday's home game against Estacada.

Slip, slide & fall?

Clackamas County and the Oregon Department of Transportation together held two informational sessions at a public meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13 to provide updates and answer questions regarding the Highway 213 landslide. It was a standing room only crowd during the first session at Arrowhead Golf Club's Payne Stewart Meeting Room.

ODOT representatives offered some details on the status of the slide and ODOT's work to remediate the effects.

Molalla brings school-based mental health services to students

Recently, at least six area youth have committed suicide, and Molalla has only narrowly escaped that outcome, having transported 10 high school students so far this academic year to hospitals because of emergency mental health situations. To address the needs in Molalla's schools, district leaders have decided to partner with Trillium Family Services to bring mental health treatment to students.

"So far at the high school just this year, we've had 10 medical transports, which means that students are in such crisis and suicidal ideation that they need immediate service at an emergency room for an evaluation," MHS Counselor Matthew Rubrecht said at February's school board meeting. "Ten by the end of January is kind of staggering. Generally, you end up with 10 per school year, and we're at 10 already and we're only half way through."


When 'Love' is shared

At the close of yet another record-breaking Molalla High School fundraiser to benefit four area families each struggling with disease, Share the Love founder Joe Zenisek, aka Dr. Z, called the students' and community's efforts "extraordinary" and "nothing short of a community miracle."

But with a campaign name like "Share the Love" in a town filled with hearts big enough to raise more than $82,000 for the cause, he knew he could ask for more.

CONNER WILLIAMS - Molalla High School students again broke their fundraising record during Share the Love 2018.

Molalla veterinarian honored with award

Dr. Tom Holechek from South Clackamas Veterinary Service in Molalla recently received the Animal Welfare Award from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.

The OVMA's Animal Welfare Award recognizes a veterinarian who has demonstrated outstanding compassion and/or developed programs for the welfare of animals.

And now the world?

Molalla's robotics team, the Gracious Professionals, finished in second place at the VEX State Championship, earning them a spot in the World Championship in April.

Seventy-four teams competed in the tournament from around the state at Chemeketa Community College on March 9-10. The Gracious Professionals competed in the platinum division, and ended up in an alliance of three teams that took the second place spot.

The team made the decision that they will attend the World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky in April. But they have an uphill battle ahead when it comes to funds.


The life aquatic

The sun was shining Saturday, March 31, when the Molalla Aquatic Center reopened its doors to the public after sitting closed for more than three years. They kicked off with a free Easter egg swim and open swim that day.

"After so long of it being closed and it being such a fight, I'm really glad that it's open now," said Blake, a youth who swam Saturday. "So, I'm really excited. It was really fun and everyone was really nice."

Pool staff have released the spring schedule and fees on their website. Here are the highlights.

KRISTEN WOHLERS - The Molalla Aquatic Center reopened on March 31, 2018.

Toilets travel Molalla for good cause

Molalla residents may notice an (entirely normal) influx of colorful toilets plopping down in yards around town starting this week and continuing through the month of April.

But before you call the potty police, know that it's all for a good cause.

Some parents of Molalla High School seniors are behind the potty dumps in an effort to raise funds for a senior drug- and alcohol-free graduation party. They're calling the fundraiser "The Traveling Toilet."

Sweet, successful sounds

On Thursday, April 12, the Molalla High School Choir sang their way to the top of the district competition and all the way to the state championship, which will be held in May.

Six schools competed Thursday before three judges at the Tri-Valley Vocal Festival, an Oregon School Activities Association sanctioned event. Choirs that receive at least two judges' scores of 81 (out of 100) or better have a chance to qualify for state. An average score of 86 is an automatic-in. Under choir director Tim Friesen, Molalla earned massive scores from all three judges: 93, 92 and 92, earning them the conference title and advancement to state.

Crane drops restrooms at Feyrer Park

Visitors of Feyrer Park are in for a treat this summer as new playground equipment and bathrooms have been installed.

On April 12, the new restroom facility was delivered on three trucks and set in place using a crane from Forslund Crane Service, Inc.

Clackamas County Parks and Recreation began a campaign a couple of years ago, according to Rick Gruen, Clackamas County Parks and forest manager, which involved saving money to prioritize everything involving life, health and safety. They first replaced all of the aging, wooden playground structures in county parks, including Feyrer.


Getting on track

A familiar Molalla feature is getting some work done and when the dust clears, the results should speak for themselves.

The Molalla River BMX track, located at 920 Toliver Road, is currently undergoing renovation and redesign to give the course a new look and to make it adhere to USA BMX standards and guidelines.

"We're renovating the track because our board of directors felt that it was time," said track operator Mike Dahlberg. "What we've decided is that BMX has changed throughout the years as far as track layouts are and how they're normally built. Now we have decided we need to come up to more current standards to where riders improve their performance on how they race."

MHS student wins Congressional Art Competition

Students in art class at Molalla High School were surprised when U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader walked into their classroom on Wednesday, May 2, but none more surprised than sophomore Alicia Johnson when leadership students sent confetti flying and Schrader announced that she was the winner of the Congressional Art Competition for the 5th District of Oregon.

"I was honestly just really surprised I won," Johnson said. "My art teacher and my family were very discreet about it so I had no clue."

Molalla ties for 4A choir crown

After winning the league title in March, on May 4 Molalla High School Concert Choir went on to become state 4A co-champions in a rare tie with La Grande.

Three factors play into the overall score of 360 points possible: performance, sight reading and time. At the performance level, Molalla led La Grande 272 to 267. But La Grande went ahead with a sight reading score of 56 to Molalla's 46. La Grande suffered a time penalty of five points, bringing the schools to a dead tie at 318.

"Out of 360 total points, to tie is pretty unusual," said Tim Friesen, Molalla's choir director.

Molalla High School's concert choir comes away from the state competition on May 4 with a first place trophy.

School district tabs new principal

The Molalla River School District announced Friday that Linda Brecht-Kwirant from Iowa has been selected as the next Molalla Elementary School principal starting in the next academic year.

"We believe Linda brings a passionate focus on what is best for all kids to her new role at Molalla Elementary," said Superintendent Tony Mann. "Her references describe her as an expert in teaching and learning who leads from the heart."

The mean streets

The Molalla street maintenance vote failed miserably and it appears that the streets, many of which are already in bad shape, won't get better any time soon.

"People complain about pot holes and street cracks, and it's going to be too bad, because we have no added revenue source like Canby has. That's how they can keep up their streets," City Manager Dan Huff said.

By Wednesday morning the vote against was an even stronger push down with 1,011 against and a mere 391 for.

"There won't be any street maintenance and it's getting worse and worse and worse," said Mayor Jimmy Thompson.

Discovering the 'bear' necessities

Last week, a Molalla resident called police to report seeing a bear in his driveway on S. Molalla Forest Road, across from the old mill on S. Molalla Avenue and fittingly just south of Bear Creek.

Molalla Police Sergeant Chris Long was on duty that night when the call came in.

"I happened to be working," Long said, "and I started driving out towards there and as I came up to the mill, I saw the bear in the mill, running through the mill, and it crossed Molalla Avenue right in front of my patrol car and bounded off into the woods."

Long and another officer got out of their patrol cars and monitored the wood line to make sure the black bear did not return to town.


RPA student awarded National Merit Scholarship

Renaissance Public Academy student Jason Schwartz has been named a National Merit $2,500 scholarship winner. He was among 2,500 winners (26 in Oregon) of the prestigious award from a pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists.

"I am just thrilled to receive it and grateful of course to my family and all the educators that really formed me to the point that I would be able to even think of receiving such an honor," Schwartz said. "I'm excited."

New scholarship comes from surprising donor

For many years Molalla High School seniors have had plentiful opportunities to win local scholarships, but this year, a new scholarship came to town in the amount of about $100,000 or more to be disbursed exclusively to Molalla graduates.

And the funds come from an unlikely source.

The scholarship is a gift from Donald Slaughter, who passed away on his birthday in 2015. As far as his attorney Don Kelley can tell, Slaughter may have never graduated from high school.

Yet, he arranged to give much of his wealth to Molalla's graduating students.

Talkin' Arts

More than 30 people crowded into a former coffee shop on Main Street last Thursday (June 14) to discuss the state of arts and culture in the greater Molalla area. They were there to meet with and learn how the Clackamas County Arts Alliance can help the city and its surrounding areas to support efforts to bring all the various arts and culture together into a thriving arts community in Molalla.

While most of those attending have something to do with the arts -- teachers, a silversmith, photographers, painters, sculptors and even a student from Molalla River Academy -- there were five people from city government, including the city manager and three council members. Finding such a large segment of people wanting to better the arts and culture vibe in Molalla, was a nice surprise said several members of the Clackamas County's Arts Alliance.

Molalla residents meet to plan 'Celebrate Molalla'

Want to have fun and meet people? Come to Molalla on Sept. 22 and celebrate the city, meet new people and just have some good ole' fun. Celebrate Molalla is getting off the ground!

On Thursday, June 21, about 10 people gathered at Molalla Adult Community Center to brainstorm ideas for the new event. It is designed as part of the city's Visioning Process and will be developed into a community building event. It's hoped to be the first annual event in the city's new principle of community building, "Be profoundly inclusive," and integrate all of greater Molalla's residents.

A second planning meeting will be held in mid-July, with the date to be announced later.

The celebration is set for Sept. 22, and will join the annual Heritage Apple Fest for a truly inclusive event.

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