The Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments (MWVCOG) recognized local elected officials, inter-governmental projects, and local leaders at the MWVCOG Annual Meeting on February 20, 2019, at the Keizer Civic Center in Keizer, Oregon. The event was sponsored by Portland General Electric (PGE), the City of Keizer, and Chemeketa Community College’s Viticulture Program; and the keynote was presented by PGE President Maria Pope.
The Master of Ceremonies was Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark, 2018 chair of the MWVCOG Board of Directors, who will retain that position for 2019. Polk County Commissioner Mike Ainsworth will retain the position of Immediate Past Chair, Jackie Franke, Chemeketa Community College Board of Education Member, is the 2019 Vice Chair, and McMinnville Councilor Sal Peralta will be a new addition to round out the MWVCOG Executive Committee for 2019.
The following awards were presented:
The Gwen VanDenBosch Regional Leadership Award for outstanding leadership by an elected official was presented to former Newberg Mayor Bob Andrews in recognition of outstanding leadership for cooperative, regional, intergovernmental initiatives. Mayor Andrews was recognized for his 16 years of service with the City of Newberg as City Councilor and Mayor, his support of the Special Olympics, promotion of youth participation in government, and particularly his unflagging efforts to maintain momentum on the Newberg/Dundee Bypass project. He was an active member of the MWVCOG Board of Directors from 2005 through 2018, and on the Mid-Willamette Area Commission on Transportation (MWACT) from 2007 through 2018. He was active with the region’s Mayors Coalition, as well as the Oregon Mayors Association, and was an active facilitator in building a strong bond between George Fox University and the region, and spearheaded bringing a Portland Community College campus to Newberg.
The Wes Kvarsten Professional Service Award for distinguished service by a staff person or volunteer was presented to Heather Richards, Planning Director for the City of McMinnville, for sustained commitment in support of regional intergovernmental cooperation. Ms. Richards has been able to develop and implement a new business plan to draw new investment to the city’s urban renewal district, attracting projects that will have tremendous economic impact on the region. She has also made changes to the city’s fee schedules and successfully applied for grants to the benefit of the city. With creative code changes and slight department reorganizations, Ms. Richards has enabled neighborhood density and diversity to increase with mixed use and multi-family developments, and ensured that code enforcement is better aligned with city needs.
The Regional Cooperative Project Award for a project or initiative was given to the cities of Carlton, Lafayette, McMinnville, Yamhill County, and McMinnville Water and Light for the Yamhill Regional Water Authority. This annual award recognizes a partnership of local governments within the Mid-Willamette Valley region for a project or initiative that has best exemplified intergovernmental cooperation. This cooperative effort, which began in 2011, continues as the combined actions of the municipal bodies and their supporting County counterparts promise to provide for the future water needs of thousands of Yamhill County residents.
The Chairs’ Choice Award, which recognizes a person, project, or group selected at the sole discretion of the Board Chair, was presented to The Claggett Creek Watershed Council for their work In recognition of their dedicated work to promote and protect water quality and wildlife habitat of the Claggett Creek Watershed through projects, education, regional collaboration, and community-wide partnerships.
A Certificate of Recognition was presented to James LaBar, Regional Solutions Coordinator, Governor Brown’s Office. In this role, James has embodied the spirit of cooperation and made a profound positive difference with communities throughout Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties. With a results-oriented drive, James always found creative ways to bring state agency resources together to assist communities in moving essential projects forward. He has been helpful in identifying barriers and working with motivated local communities to take projects from idea to reality.
A Special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jim Fairchild, Dallas City Councilor and former Mayor. A dedicated public servant, in addition to being a teacher, coach, and serving on the Dallas City Council, Jim also spent 20 years volunteering as an EMT in the Dallas ambulance service and served seven years on the State of Oregon Construction Contractors Board. He served on the League of Oregon Cities Board of Directors, of which he was the President in 2006. He served on the National League of Cities Community and Economic Development Committee, and he has served on the MWVCOG Board since 2001. Jim has worked hard to go beyond the needs of his own city and provide leadership and wisdom to his fellow Mayors and Councilors in our region and the city leaders throughout the state. Jim’s service through the Board of Directors of our Mid-Willamette Council of Governments has helped steer and support the work to navigate the COG’s development over the years, weather some rough times with the economy that impacted the COG, and encourage us to stick with it because working together as a region is the right thing to do.
In addition, there was recognition of current and outgoing members of the MWVCOG Board of Directors, current and retired MWVCOG staff, our community partners and visitors. McNary High School music ensembles provided music during the reception period, and the McNary High School AFJROTC Cadets presented and posted the colors at the beginning of the evening’s program.