City & Government, Cottage Grove, Creswell, Springfield

City Government Briefs: Week of Dec. 14

Five finalists announced for city manager role in Cottage Grove

COTTAGE GROVE – The search for Cottage Grove’s new city manager is nearing its end as five candidates have been announced as finalists.

The finalists are:

Highlighted among James Hunt’s 20 years of city manager and city administrator experience are the 12 years he spent serving in Alaska; he served as city manager for the City of Whittier, AK for five years and the City of Seward, AK for seven years. Hunt has also been a city administrator in both Oregon and Iowa. He gained his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of South Dakota Vermillion.

Scott Meszaros comes in with over 23 years of public service, including town administrator in Meeker, Colo., town manager in Hope Mills, N.C., and – like Hunt – city manager in Seward, AK. He served five years in the U.S. Navy, and most recently, Meszaros was the interim president/CEO of Distinctly Fayetteville. He gained his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University-Pueblo and his master of public administration from Troy University.

Charles Morris stayed consistent, earning over 20 years of public service with the City of Niceville, FL, and he now serves as deputy city manager as well as director of purchasing and director of information systems. He served in the U.S. Army for two years. Morris gained his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of West Florida and a master of public administration from Troy University.

With over 30 years of public service experience, Michael Sauerwein has the most experience out of the other candidates. He has served as city manager for the City of Sheridan, assistant city manager for the City of Sammamish, WA, and the city manager for the City of Medina, WA. He spent part of this year as the interim administrative services director for Grays Harbor County. Sauerwein gained his masters of public affairs from the University of Oregon.

Lastly is a name you may recognize: Faye Stewart, who is the City’s current public works and development director and has been since 2017. He began in public service in 2005 as an East Lane County commissioner.

The City’s goal is to “select a candidate whose experience and education aligns with the values and aspirations of our community.” To engage with and meet these five finalists, community members are invited to attend the Candidate Reception at the Cottage Grove Armory from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14.  — Amanda Lurey

Creswell moratorium extended six months

CRESWELL – The moratorium’s first six months came to a close on Tuesday, Dec. 12, which caused the city council to discuss whether to let it end or extend it for another six months. The latter was the consensus at the meeting on Monday.

According to city manager Michelle Amberg, the moratorium placed on the west side of the city is Creswell’s response to its “inability to connect to our wastewater system due to limitations by DEQ.”

In response to Councilor Norma Jean Osborn, who asked Amberg, “So we’re making progress?” Amberg said, “Absolutely. Public works is moving as quickly as it possibly can. The hang up will really come at the end when we have to update the plant. Cliff Bellew and his folks are doing everything they can to move it along as quickly as possible.”

According to Bellew, public works director, there are 30 hookups up for grabs right now on the west side of Creswell, but he did mention that 24 of them may already be allocated.

Although Amberg praised the City’s staff for its commitment to abiding by the DEQ’s regulations, Amberg added that she “anticipates the City will have several more of these (extensions).”

It was confirmed, though, through some questions from Councilor Staci Holt, that Creswell’s new McDonald’s will be using China Wok’s facilities – as it will be taking over that property – so the new McDonald’s is not a concern for the moratorium on development. — Amanda Lurey

Thurston Hills Trail System dedicated to DeFazio

SPRINGFIELD – Willamalane honored Congressman Peter DeFazio last week with the naming of The Peter DeFazio Trail System at Thurston Hills Natural Area.

A short ceremony to acknowledge DeFazio’s accomplishments preceded the official ribbon cutting.

“We are here to honor a true champion for preserving our natural treasures and our great friend, Congressman Peter DeFazio. When the Board was considering how to recognize and honor Peter for his steadfast leadership and support for Springfield parks and recreation in general, the opportunity to name a trail system that is around the corner from his house, that he walks on daily, was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” said Chris Wig, who is the Willamalane board president.

“Many of you know that Congressman DeFazio helped us acquire this property many years ago. It started with a dream to build the Thurston Hills natural area. His help in Washington, D.C. helped provide funds that allowed us to protect it from wildfires, to build the trails that we all love to hike on, and that will bear his name moving forward.”

Michael Wargo, Willamalane executive director, said he was proud to be able to name this trail system in DeFazio’s honor.

“Your work here will obviously live on for generations, and the Peter DeFazio trail system here at Thurston Hills will be here in perpetuity,” Wargo said.

Mayor Sean VanGordon commended Willamalane for continuing to host outdoor events in the middle of December – despite people’s innate desire to be inside with a blanket when it’s cold outside. He continued by commending DeFazio for his “sense of place.”

“He was always such a good advocate for how you bring natural beauty in the sense of how you link to neighborhoods in your community – and he has really been an advocate for Springfield’s natural beauty and ability for people to leave their neighborhood and simply walk out here and take advantage of it,” VanGordon said. “I’m glad this is right next to your house. Enjoy it.”

Upon taking the podium, DeFazio emphasized that focusing on natural amenities, like this trail system, would allow Springfield to be a destination point for people – although he went on to joke that maybe “not this time of year” since “a lot of trails are closed for the winter.”

“It was my honor to represent Springfield, to represent the fourth district, to represent Willamalane – and to help bring some funds that actually made this possible and a number of other fabulous amenities for our community,” DeFazio said. “I’m very grateful for that.” — Amanda Lurey 



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