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Dedication ceremony slated for Saturday will officially designate Janice Lafollette Nature Park

PNG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Hubbards Mill Creek Nature Park will be renamed to Janice Lafollette Nature Park in honor of one its late advocates.For more than a half century Jan Lafollette called Hubbard home, and in that time she engaged in many civic activities and projects to enrich its livability.

Over the years Jan taught art and was engaged with the Woodburn Art Center & Glatt House Gallery, served on Hubbard panels, including the town's Hop Festival and Parks Advisory committees. She was an avid collector of antiques.WOODBURN INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - Janice Lafollette

Professionally, Jan had a long career in community newspaper advertising with the North Willamette News, Canby Herald, Woodburn Independent and Molalla Pioneer, and retired as publisher of the Pioneer in 2000.

But one indelible mark of Jan's service to the region is Mill Creek Nature Park, a well-rounding component of Hubbard's Parks and Recreation system. Recentlly nature park advocates, imbued by a conversation with Jan's late husband, Ron Lafollette, were moved to unite and recognize Jan by changing the nature park's name.

A dedication ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, 2115 Baines Boulevard, during which the grounds will be officially recognized by a new name: Janice LaFollette Nature Park.

A group of park advocates and friends of the Lafollettes' -- Dean, Traci, Jeff, Darlene, Nicole, Ashley, Angela, and Austin Sprecher -- helped spearhead the dedication.

Jan Lafollette passed away in November 2017 after a lengthy battle with cancer, and Ron, who was Jan's husband of 37 years, passed away shortly after of natural causes. Darlene said many believe Ron died from a broken heart.

"One of the last conversations we had with Ron was about his desire to rename the Mill Creek Nature Park after Jan," Darlene noted. "It is that conversation that has brought us to this point."

The Sprechers shared thoughts and memories that encapsulate the Lafollettes. Jan moved to Hubbard in 1966. She immediately embraced it as home and raised her four children in the community. Ron, a former mayor, loved the fact that he could go out into his backyard on a Sunday morning and hear the church bells ringing; it's what made Hubbard living a pleasure.

The dedication and creation of a park namesake is regarded as a fitting way to recognize the Lafollettes' lasting legacy.

"The city is a better place to live, thanks in part to the many contributions of both Jan and Ron Lafollette," Darlene said. "For Jan, the creation of the Mill Creek Nature Park was a way to develop a sense of community. Jan knew that this park would benefit everyone, including providing important wildlife habitat.

"Renaming the park to the Jan Lafollette Nature Park will commemorate two long-time residents who will have an everlasting importance to the city of Hubbard. For the family the park will be a location for our memories, a place where we can continue the work Jan started," she added.

Hubbard park name change

What: Dedication ceremony for Janice LaFollette Nature Park.

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11

Where: 2115 Baines Boulevard, Hubbard

Information: Contact Hubbard Public Works, 503-982-9429

Advocates' note: Changing the name of Mill Creek Nature Park to Jan Lafollette Nature Park will be a connection for the family to the community that Jan and Ron loved so much and will also allow the citizens of Hubbard and surrounding areas to become stewards of the natural space in their own city.

On an annual basis, there will be a community-based volunteer effort to clean and beautify the nature park. This effort will include invasive plant removal, litter clean up, planting native plants and routine maintenance.

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