This is a page to promote all the wonderful things that happen in our All-America City, Cottage Grove, Oregon.

If you are involved in something that you would like shared with others, let me know.

I can help you spread the word, plus, I may even interview you to create an article about your suggestion.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Michele Portmann, Distinguished Service Award Winner Cottage Grove, Oregon 2011

Sandy Coila with Michele Portman and Marsha & Dick Yandell on her right at the 2011 chamber banquet.

I am reposting this article to celebrate the life and achievements of Michele Portman who passed away September 21, 2011 in a tragic bicycle/vehicle collision on the Row River Trail. Michele was honored in January at the 2011 Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet for her decades of Distinguished Service to this community.
Michele was a beautiful person with a contagious love for life and those of us in it.
She is greatly missed. - Rose R. Miller

Community Service Honored at Chamber Banquet

Magic, Mardi Gras and community service were the themes of the 62nd Annual Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Awards & Installation Banquet last Friday. Purple, green and gold were the colors found on beads and feather masks. The evening was introduced by a moving Color Guard presented by young members of Girl Scout Troop no. 7 and Boy Scouts Webelos Troup no. 140. Local musicians Larry Bottemiller and Jerry McCollum performed the National Anthem and there was a moving invocation from Lama Trinley, who has served the Cottage Grove Buddhist Church for many decades. Trinley called for community members to aspire to having all their efforts inspire a sense of community service in others.

This was the overwhelming message that the attendees were honoring, service to the greater community. It was apparent in the solemn oath taking of the current installation of Chamber board members, many of whom have served for years in a wide variety of positions and continue to do so because they believe that service to their community is essential for its continued success.

Sarah Canales, this year’s Junior First Citizen scholarship recipient expressed her appreciation for the support that she has always received in this community, ever since she was born here. Canales stated that she has always felt that any success that she has had has come from a combination of equal parts her effort, her parent’s support and the support of this community. Canales will use the scholarship to contribute to going forward in college and becoming a medical doctor.

There were two people honored out of the greater than 400 employees of South Lane School district. Ruth Duskey-Price was honored for her 30 years of service as a classified employee and commended for being both a mentor to children and other adults at Bohemia School. Teacher of the year was Deb Henderson, who said, “I feel blessed to do work that I love with wonderful people who make up for all the holes that I have in myself.” Henderson went on to emphasize that education is a cooperative effort taking effort from the entire community. Both women were modest about the accolades they were receiving, though well deserved.

At this point in the evening attendees were treated to magician Dale Devorak’s performance, which included a wide variety of successful illusions, greeted by gasps of wonderment. In the social hour before dinner, guests delighted in experiencing both a fortune-teller and a palm reader.

When Michele Portmann, this year’s winner for Distinguished Service was introduced by last year’s winners, Jud and Sharon VanGorder, her list of accomplishments included more than a dozen volunteer positions many of which she has held for greater than two decades. Portman’s family was able to surprise her by coming down from Portland to see her receive her award.

Roger Braswell, manager of the Cottage Grove Safeway, represented the Business of the Year. Safeway’s more than 70 years of support of the Cottage Grove community was lauded for providing human resources, both food and financial support. There was a long list of charitable organizations that they do fundraising and provide support for. Braswell stated that it was a blessing for him to be doing business in Cottage Grove, following in his father’s footsteps, a man who served for 50 years at the Cottage Grove Post Office.

Sharon Jean, award winner for First Citizen, is well known in the Cottage Grove community for all the fundraising, support and organization that she has provided to many Cottage Grove organizations, most notably turning around the Bohemia Mining Days event when it was facing bankruptcy many years ago. She was appropriately introduced as a human dynamo and perfectly represents the community of Cottage Grove; exemplifying the strong spirit of volunteerism, which was being honored at this event.
Article originally posted January 2011 in Cottage Grove Sentinel

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Keep Our Village Green In Cottage Grove

I have many questions about the current issues the community of Cottage Grove is having concerning the fate of the Village Green. It is wonderful to see and hear the outpouring of love and pride that this community has for the Village Green. However, it makes me wonder where all this emotion was in the past. Where would we be now if there had been more awareness about the fact that the property had been put up for sale in 2009?

It seems to me that the owners should have known or at least suspected that there was a large attachment in this community to keeping the Green as a shining example of Cottage Grove’s heritage. If we are all aware of people who know of Cottage Grove because of their stays at the Green, as chatter on the Internet indicates, one would think that the owners would be aware of this too. They after all, are the ones who interact with the paying customers, at least their managers and other employees do. They must have heard story after story of how people remember staying at the Green in the past and come to Cottage Grove to do just that now.

Why weren’t the concerns that the Village Green owners were having brought to the public eye? Obviously the city and the community are concerned about this potential loss. Often business owners do not want to make a fuss about what they consider their dire straits. Yet, we see now that if this had been brought to the attention of this community there would have been an outpouring of support. This is obvious now by the new blog, http://keepourvillagegreen.blogspot.com/, and the Facebook group, ‘Keep Our Village Green in Cottage Grove,’ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=465734655374, which arose since the greater community was made aware of these concerns and issues in the past few weeks.

We can only hope that the voice of the community was heard loud and clear by the potential buyer and that may be one reason that the ‘truck stop’ offer was withdrawn. Hopefully other potential buyers are considering the historical value of this community icon, which is in very good condition considering its age and repairs that still need to be made.

I have heard talk of fundraisers, volunteer activity, loans backed by grants and even a casino and other options for the building and the land. It is hard to say what would make the difference and allow this community to retain its charm and vitality, but we do see that when drawn into the fold, this community will work very hard at making sure there are viable options on the table. What I have learned from this is to be open to the possibilities out there that may exist even when you are not aware of them and to ask for help and support when you need it. The outcome may surprise you.

I have worked a lot in my life with the ideas of positive thinking and manifestation. One important thing I always remember is that it is important to focus on the essence of what it is that you desire and not as much on the form. Being that our limited minds cannot always conceive of the full range of possibilities that are out there. I think this community is doing a great job of that. The qualities of the Village Green that I hear being evoked are small-town charm with a world class destination and holding on to the values and essence of the past. It may feel that this decision is out of our hands as we are not the ones who will make the final choice, but I think we are seeing the value of putting your thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams out there. You never know how you may influence someone. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Village Green Conference Center/Moonstone Cloistered Gardens Urban Renewal Project Proposal


Village Green Conference Center/Moonstone Cloistered Gardens

Cottage Grove Urban Renewal Ballot Initiative
(Proposed as a 2010 Cottage Grove Ballot Measure)

Contributed by Jim Kness, The Blind Seer of Cottage Grove

Anyone May Copy And Distribute This

I. Our city should be the site of an exemplary regional conference center; The Village Green/Moonstone Gardens should be redesigned and upgraded in such a way as to accomplish this purpose.

II. The Village Green/Moonstone Gardens has a civic ambiance and architectural style that needs to be preserved and restored instead of being torn down. An architectural design charrette should be hosted by the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce as soon as possible to enable this urban renewal iniative. Time is of the essence; economic development and cultural improvement should be proactively enabled by the CG Area Chamber of Commerce, CG Economic Development Director, CG City Council Manager, and CG City Planner.

III. I believe that in order to obtain sufficient funding for a Village Green Urban Renewal District there should be a tourist destination tribal casino facility built on the Gateway Boulevard side of I-5. The Tribal Casino and Conference Center needs to be connected by a pedestrian bridge (with electric shuttle auxiliary conveyance)over I-5 that could serve as an architecturally significant landmark for Cottage Grove. A major truck stop facility (for selling locally produced bio-fuel products) could also be located on the Gateway boulevard side of I-5. The Tribal Casino/Conference Center needs to be designed in a synergistic relationship with the major truck stop facility and fast-food purveyors of Gateway Boulevard.

IV. I believe that the District boundaries for this major Cottage Grove Urban Renewal Ballot Initative should be drawn as shown on the maps that accompany this précis.

V. I believe that an architectural design charrette for a Grand Ronde Tribal Casino should be undertaken concurrently with the Village Green design charrette as previously mentioned. The present fast food purveyors fronting on Gateway Boulevard are part of a civic ambiance that could be esthetically augmented in conjunction with a tribal casino/truck stop architectural design concept. The City of Cottage Grove could acquire property within this urban renewal district by right of eminent domain if need be, or with a "Buy and Lease-Back" agreement with existing property owners. This kind of 50 year lease hold would remain in force even if the property title deeds were to be ceded to the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon for the purpose of building a tribal casino within the city limits of Cottage Grove

VI. The Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce needs to host a joint architectural design charrette for the Village Green Conference Center/Grand Ronde tribal casino with financing in mind for accomplishing maximum civic benefit. The financing of the VGCC/ GRTC economic development concept could be accomplished with a combination of Urban Renewal revenue sharing bonds, serial levy bonds, and tribal casino debenture coupons.

VII. Here are some architectural design criteria that I believe should be written into both of the conference center/ tribal casino design charettes:

A. A cloistered wall needs to be built along the edge of the I-5 right-of-way for the purpose of suppressing "freeway noise". The cloister wall should be specified as an element of landscape architectural design consistent with the philosophy of Moonstone Gardens and the needs of Cottage Grove and its citizens.

B. The present Wal-Mart site next to the Village Green should be acquired by right of eminent domain and should be included as part of the Moonstone Gardens/Village Green Conference Center architectural master plan. Wal-Mart as a corporate entity could be compensated for CG condemnation with an amicable relocation to Creswell.

C. A four or five-story parking structure to serve the patrons of a tribal casino facility could be built on the site of the present Vintage Inn, KFC, McDonald's, gas station, etc. All of these present fast-food purveyors would retain their present business locations at sidewalk level under the roof of the tribal casino parking structure. The actual tribal casino facility could be of the penthouse (e.g. on rooftop of parking structure) pavilion style, resembling the architectural style of the Village Green.

D. A quasi-arcology structure consisting of several geodesic Rotegrity Domes could provide bridge access over the I-5 right-of-way between the Grand Ronde Tribal Casino Facilities and the Village Green Conference Center. The Rotegrity Dome frameworks could also be used as a "world renowned aeroponic garden floral exhibit."

Charrette: –noun- a final, intensive effort to finish a project, esp. an architectural design project, before a deadline.
                           Origin: 1965–70; < F: cart, OF, equiv. to char chariot, wagon (see car1) +-ette -ettefrom the idea of speed of wheels

Precis:–noun- a concise summary.
1750–60; < F, n. use of adj., lit., cut short. See precise

1. digest, condensation, abstract.

definitions from dictionary.com

Contributed by Jim Kness, The Blind Seer of Cottage Grove
Anyone May Copy And Distribute This

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cottage Grove's 2010 Relay For Life

Many team members participate in honor of a loved one. Dawn Maezes, the Fight Like a Girl team captain, is participating for her second year in the Cottage Grove Relay For Life in honor of many family members, including herself. Maezes is an eighteen-year survivor of cancer and her mother and all her sisters have also faced cancer. This year they are celebrating their survival with a family reunion at the event being held on June 18, 2010 at Lincoln Middle School.

This is the fourteenth year for Relay For Life; in 1986 the first event with teams took place in Tacoma, Washington. The year prior, Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, personally walked for 24 hours to raise the first $27,000.
Each Relay For Life team consists of 8 to 15 members. There are currently twenty-one teams registered for this year's Cottage Grove event. Maezes' team grew so large that had to split in two. One team is Fight Like a Girl and their motto is “Teed Off About Breast Cancer.” The other team is called the Cottage Bowlers and their mission is to “Strike Out Cancer”.
There are a variety of ways for people to participate. During the 24-hour period of the relay, teams always have at least one person walking the track. Other ways members participate are by helping to set up, decorate, operate or clean-up team campsites. There are competitions for the best decorated site.

People can come and walk even if they have not participated before the event and this is valued as it helps to fill in scheduling gaps that may occur at the last minute. Photographers are valued also. To participate sign up online or contact Natalie Cardoza at 541- 767- 2695 as soon as possible.

Each member, whether walking or helping in another way, does fundraising prior to the event. They each set a personal fundraising goal of $100 or greater. Maezes said, “They make it so easy, with a simple e-mail that you can send to contacts of your choosing for sponsorship of your walk.”
Maezes is referring to the American Cancer Society, who has raised over 3 billion dollars with this event. She added that they also make it easy for you to invite other people to participate on your team or even to invite survivors you may know to walk. Participants are encouraged to invite people over the phone or by letter if that suits their personal style better.
It is suggested that each fundraiser aim to gather many small donations, a few larger ones or some combination in-between. Places to find people to ask are through organizations you are a part of, your work or service providers you have contact with. 
There are also lit bags, which line the Relay For Life track, called luminaries, that are sponsored and then dedicated to a loved one, in memory, honor or support of their experience with cancer. Maezes said, "It is awesome when they light the luminaries. It is an unbelievable feeling to be a cancer survivor walking the survivors' lap." 
Maezes made one last point saying, “It is so important for those of us who have fought and won to know there are others and that we can, as a group, do something for those who are still fighting the battle alone and need support and encouragement.” 
For more information: 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Supporting Local Businesses

We all know that healthier businesses lead to healthier communities. On January 6th,  2010, twenty-six local businesses received a boost to their company’s immune system right here in Cottage Grove! They are attending a nine month, Strategies of Success (S.O.S.) class hosted by the Chamber of Commerce through the Lane Community College Business Development Center (LBDC).

This great partnership has brought much needed resources to the Cottage Grove business community. The current class is full but there is another in the works for this fall. Chris Nystrom, the LBDC instructor who is teaching the class, stressed that she is there to be a guide, helping to direct the business owner to finding the information and resources that they need, but most importantly to be a coach encouraging them towards greater success.

In addition to the once-per-month class each attendee gets a monthly private consultation here in Cottage Grove with Nystrom, where she supplements the topics covered in class with even greater detail, tailored to the needs of each business.

The class brainstormed opportunities, challenges and trends that they see as business owners here in Cottage Grove. Each participant then got to define for themselves who their target market is and then did an exercise sharing this as an elevator pitch to another classmate. The night was filled with positive energy and with great hopes of future growth for each business this year.

Local businesses can look forward to more opportunities like this class in the future. The Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to supporting local businesses and is always looking at new ways of serving each business better.

To find out more about the services that the LBDC provides contact them at http://www.lanebdc.com/ or (541) 463-5255 or come down to the Visitor’s Center at 700 E. Gibbs to pick up a copy of their spring 2010 schedule.

For more information or to get on a waiting list for the next class this fall please contact Kristin at the Cottage Grove Chamber at (541) 942-2411.

This is a reprint, courtesy of the Cottage Grove Area Chamber, of an article,
which I wrote for their monthly Chamber Newsletter that gets printed in the Cottage Grove Sentinel. ~ Rose R. Miller

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Economic Development Website

Have you had a chance to check out the new website for the Economic Business Improvement District of Cottage Grove? It is actually a partnership between the city http://www.cottagegrove.org/ the chamber http://cgchamber.com/ and the Economic Development Committee.

Check out the site at http://www.growingthegrove.com/

You'll find some great success stories as well as information for anyone desiring to start a business here in Cottage Grove. Let me know what you think of the site!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chamber Banquet

At the end of the evening I found written on the coffee mug of a tablemate, “The past cannot be changed, but the future is whatever you want it to be.” This was very appropriate as the theme of the evening was, “Remembering the past, looking forward to the future.” Friday, January 22, 2010, was The 61st Annual Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Awards & Installation Banquet. Held at the Catholic Church Parish Center, the room was set with great ambient lighting, leading to a festive feel.

The evening started with George Devine, a chamber board president from the late ‘90s and owner of Cascade Home Center, reflecting on what he remembered from that time. He recalled that a decade ago Cottage Grove was dealing with a defunct high school, train yard, hospital and an empty lot on Main St. In the past ten years, through the countless hours of volunteer service contributed by this community, we now have a top-of-the-line high school, a new hospital, the afore mentioned All America City Square and the beautiful Bohemia Amphitheater and Park now in progress.

He pointed out and acknowledged that without the dedicated citizens of this town and all their effort, Cottage Grove would not be the great place to live that it is. It is through all that effort and dedication that we were named an All-America City in 2004 for the second time (first 1968), which rarely happens.

The program began with the area’s original chamber greeter, Marge Wrightson, introducing The Junior First Citizens. She emphasized that these two young ladies had learned to live by the phrase, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” In past years the Chamber Greeters have given out five scholarships to area youth. This year, though, due to the economy, they only had two awards. Aislinn Mirsch was awarded a $500 scholarship and Shelby Stepper was awarded $1000 for her education.

Krista Parent, Superintendent of South Lane School District presented the next two awards. The Teacher of the Year, GeriAnn Walker, was praised for her availability to students and co-workers. This year for the first time an award was given for The Classified Employee of the Year. Marlene Culp was a very deserving recipient, having just celebrated her 31st year of serving meals to the students of Cottage Grove. Culp was commended for her theme-based lunches and all she does with the summer food program to keep Cottage Grove children fed year-round.

Two awards were given to couples this year. Judd & Sharon Van Gorder presented The Distinguished Service Award to Joyce and Jim Settlemeyer, not knowing that they were to be the recipients of the Citizen of the Year Award later in the evening. The Settlemeyers and their sons have been organizing the annual Tree of Joy for many years. In addition to the almost 500 gifts they facilitate being given to children in our community; they also organize and manage two annual runs as fundraisers for organizations such as Community Sharing. The Jingle Bell Run and That Dam Run are enjoyed by participants in Cottage Grove annually.

Business of the Year was given to the Axe & Fiddle, who were commended for all the work and effort that they put into restoring their building, which resulted in them being given the State’s designation as a Historic Building. They also contribute greatly to our community with fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity and others.

The final presentation of the evening was The Citizen of the Year Award given to Judd and Sharon Van Gorder, who from the list of volunteer service they perform, must be busy volunteering each and every day in addition to running their two home based businesses, Carousel House B&B and Catering. During this award, after a rousing standing ovation, I saw members of the audience with tears in their eyes including the Van Gorders. Judd Van Gorder stated that the reason this award meant so much to them was because it was from the people of Cottage Grove. In addition to handing out the award for distinguished service, the Van Gorder’s also catered the event, so they were busy all night, playing many different roles.

There was an awesome video presentation by a committee of Chamber Board members detailing some history and points of interest in Cottage Grove. I am hoping to get a copy to post here soon.