Cottage Grove

It’s been easy to keep busy in the Grove

COTTAGE GROVE — Radio station KNND’s Rock Roll & Rumble didn’t let the Coronavirus hold it back from getting some cool cars cruising along its traditional route through historic downtown and along south River Road this past weekend. It was a made-for-social-distancing event as people typically bring folding chairs and spread out along the route looking for shade anyway. Being in the open air doesn’t hurt either. 

Missing this year was the popular Show & Shine segment. Normally, before the cruise, car owners would park their pampered pet cars along Main Street for folks to stroll along and enjoy up close at their leisure. Often with the hoods up to display the gleaming custom engines or accompanied by period accoutrements dating from the time the vehicle originally rolled off the assembly line, it was a great time to reminisce or ask questions.

Station owner Cameron Reiten said he traced some of the history of the event. A car enthusiast group “South Lane Cruisers” originally decided to start a car meet utilizing the historic downtown and it has evolved from there. KNND got involved in 2006 by sponsoring the “Show and Shine” in Coiner Park. As the event grew its original organizers phased out and KNND created the Rock Roll & Rumble combining 1950s-era music, cars, and dancing, with nostalgia. Other partnerships have come and gone. The Chamber added the chili cook-off when the Show & Shine moved downtown. The Coast Fork Kiwanis took over that when the Chamber bowed out; although it won’t happen this year, the popular cook-off will be back.

“We decided we really wanted to have something fun for Grovers to do this summer,” Reiten said. “We understand it is an unprecedented health crisis, and have worked closely with the city to make sure it is safe for everyone. The cruise isn’t a problem as people naturally spread out along the route, but we couldn’t safely do the car show. The dance will be strictly monitored and masks required but we do want for people despite the virus to feel we are living our lives and continuing on.”

There were plenty of deep-throated rumbles as a colorful stream of vehicles followed each other along the route to cheers. The variety went from a carefully restored classic Cadillac to souped-up late model cars. Besides a steady flow of hot rods and classic cars, were a few jacked up trucks, some old school VWs, and a WWII motorcycle complete with a sidecar. 

After the rumble died down, many of the cars ended up over at Stacy’s Covered Bridge Restaurant, where the “Men of Surf” kept the ’50s vibes going with their bending tones.

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This weekend would have also been the 88th year of exhibitions of local agricultural and lumberjack skills. The Western Oregon Exposition traditionally holds its family-friendly show the third weekend in August. Here are some of the sounds and sights that I will be missing: The 4-H kids and their animals competing, the displays of locally grown fruits and produce, art, crafts, and local organizations offering information on what they are doing and how to get involved. There would also be a professional-level competition of chainsaw, axe, and other woods-work skills at the annual Gene Campbell Lumberjack show. Both men and women would be suiting up in chaps and ear protection to compete in the skills divisions and for bragging rights. 

The young women and men of the W.O.E. Royal court would be plugging in to help run the event, while working toward recognition of their leadership and people skills. They would be hoping to wear the crown and to represent the Exposition during the year in the community. The steady umph-bang of the old-timey single stroke engines showing how it used to be done. And just the happy sounds of people coming together in a time-honored way to celebrate the bounty of the land and some good clean fun with friends and neighbors. 

Dang you Covid, this one hurts! But the W.O.E will ride again. It takes more than a virus to keep the salt of the Earth down.

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When I first got to Cottage Grove I was surprised to see many people ignoring the sidewalks while genially walking in the middle of quieter streets. After a while I figured out why. The sidewalks are a mixed bag here in the Grove. Some end in front of one house, only to pick up several houses down. The quality is also rather random, as far as a level surface goes. Since most streets are pretty low traffic anyway, it makes sense to utilize the broader and smoother path.  

The City Council at its Aug. 10 meeting held the first of two required meetings to amend the city code concerning the use of bicycles, skates, scooters, skateboards, and ironically skiing and sledding on the city’s sidewalks. The council decided to clean up the ordinance a bit. Citing “low usage” of sidewalks outside of the historic district it was decided to open sidewalks to nearly any sort of self-propelled transport for all ages. The councilors held firm about the section of downtown Main Street, prohibiting wheels to appear there (with exception of medical necessity).

This is good news for all the families that have been breaking the law, most likely unwittingly, by allowing their kids to be on the sidewalks on their bikes and scooters. I know in my neighborhood two kids that live across the street from each other have long held “races” on their sidewalks from their driveways to the end of the block. Depending on where you are in the city, it often makes sense to hop onto the sidewalk if you are on a bike due to traffic, lack of bike lanes, or other safety reasons.  

The city council will revisit the proposed change in the code next meeting to consider setting their decision in stone. Just use common sense out there, and don’t run anybody down or trip on an uneven surface.

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There was a spirited group who showed up at the Cottage Grove Post Office on Saturday in a show of support for this essential service. Holding signs and waving to the patrons arriving, it was good to see people sticking up for the mail service. Some cautious people were glad to learn it was, in fact, support. With so much divisiveness at present that is to be expected. I guess it was preaching to the choir in some aspects as users are usually fans or else they wouldn’t be there. 

Considering the modest cost, sending a letter would be worth it to me even at twice the price. From an early age, looking forward to birthday cards from my grandparents and collecting stamps, to now paying bills and general correspondence, I’m still a postal service believer. In fact that’s how I get my copy of The Chronicle every week!  

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Molly Murai, the Main Street coordinator, related how her role is expanding with the merger of EBID and the Main Street Program.

“The details haven’t been worked out, but up until now I am pretty much confined to the Historic Downtown area,” Murai said. “I try to provide resources and help businesses getting loans and grants to renovate their buildings which are available by virtue of the Historic designation. Also I work to boost local business and events to draw people to downtown. With the larger area I will get to work with more businesses.”

One thing Main Street has up its sleeve comes in sizes from S to 4XL, and in three styles. The “Downtown together Cottage Grove’’ T-shirt is an idea designed to help boost solidarity and support businesses hit hard by the Coronavirus.  

On the front is a design with the words “Small town, big heart” at the top. Downtown businesses are listed on the back. You can order one from this website:

Funds generated by the shirts will go into a pool that will be shared by the participating businesses. Show your Grove pride and help our businesses by buying and wearing one!

Keep staying safe out there. Pray for those that are being driven from their homes due to the wildfires and thank goodness that we are not experiencing smoke and flames. It is very dry and with the heat drying things out even more please be very cautious. Even yard work is a possible instigator of a fire that could run out of control.  Always be safe rather than sorry.

Write Dana at [email protected].



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