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The Columbia Press

Columnists & Other Opinions

Mayor's Message: Warrenton's progress is due to many people

Henry Balensifer
By Henry Balensifer, Thursday, February 7, 2019

2018--what a year!

A lot of things were accomplished, including a wider involvement by citizens in shaping the city.

Two things stand out to me about 2018. The first was how clean the downtown has become compared to years past thanks to the efforts of the RDI Economic Roadmapping Downtown Community Action Team. The second is how proud I am of the city making a special emphasis to honor our veterans.

To the first point, I feel credit is long overdue.

Before the Downtown Action Team was formed, the groundwork for downtown revitalization was laid by three citizens who persevered and really spurred myself and the commission to look at what makes Warrenton a good place to live: Norm and Brenda Hoxsey, and Jim Dutcher.

It all started at a Mayor's Coffee when they raised a safety issue. Long story short, it had to do with derelict vehicles, trailers and junk preventing residents from seeing oncoming traffic as they left their development. Due to some jurisdictional issues with the state, the city began looking for better options and discovered the nuisance ordinance of 1989 enabled the city to resolve the issue.

It took more than a year to hash everything out, but Norm, Brenda, and Jim were patient and persistent. Their advocacy ended up kicking off a year of cleanups, including a few for which Commission Tom Dyer organized citizen groups to assist folks whose properties were beyond their ability to clean them up.   To the second point, Warrenton really made 2018 a year to remember. Our Fourth of July parade had the best turnout ever, and it was dedicated to all veterans. The Oregon Air National Guard was so impressed by how much our city supports the military and our veterans that they cleared much of their flyover schedule and made what was, essentially, a one-time special dispensation to provide us with an F-15 Eagle flyover led by the commander of the fighter wing.

Local veterans, inspired by the F-15 flyover, made a commemorative flyover of the Labor Day concert in the park as well.

Beyond that, Warrenton VFW, in partnership with the city, erected the first veterans memorial in Clatsop County in more than 90 years! This brings me to another Warrenton couple who have made a big difference. Bert and Debbie Little.

Bert and Debbie received the Richard Ford Award last weekend, which is the highest award the city of Warrenton bestows upon people who spend a significant part of the lives improving our city.

Bert and Debbie are very active members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and, if not for them, there would be no veterans memorial downtown. There also wouldn’t be regular and active concessions at the Quincy Robinson Park.

They also maintain the flags flown near the veterans memorial. Did I mention they were involved in getting the Army to improve the Fort Stevens Military Cemetery to military standards?

This is just what they've done as a couple in the past five years and they've been doing things individually in nonprofit groups, schools and churches for decades before that. I don’t have the column inches to list it all, but if you see them--congratulate them on their well-deserved honor as Richard Ford Award recipients, and thank them for their service to the city.

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