New appliances have been installed as the community kitchen initiative nears its opening date.

Susan Kenady-Blachnik is one of the more inspiring people I’ve met in Creswell. She’s a tireless champion when it comes to feeding those in need. She has the will of a true-believer, one who is fully committed to the cause. Don’t confuse it with hard work; it’s a way of life, borne of a mindset that service to others is the most important thing we can do. 

Really, more than anything, she’s effective.

There’s nothing flashy; you never have to try and discern the sizzle from the steak.

She and husband Kurt have the community kitchen just about ready to open, which is an accomplishment on many levels. They renovated and remodeled and constructed and plumb-lined and painted and, well, you get the point. All while managing the food pantry, and a sudden and now sustained surge in customers during the pandemic.

A Saturday morning tour of the facilities – both the food pantry and the community kitchen – reveals the relentless pursuit of perfection during the relentless passion to serve.

Susan methodically discusses the life-changing work almost as if reading a balance sheet. Although most people don’t tear up while reading a balance sheet. She and the other partners and volunteers over the years work together to refine every process, bringing an efficiency expert’s eye to each part of the operation.

The new kitchen is a thing of beauty, appliances sparkling and standing tall against freshly painted walls, and resting on specially treated floors. The two giant ovens are shoulder to shoulder like castle sentries, guarded above by the huge exhaust fan. Kurt is responsible for much of the heavy lifting and handyman upgrades. Susan handles the rest, and she’s cooked up a remarkable plan. 

The kitchen will not only help serve hungry people in the community, it’s also a business incubator. Aspiring and veteran chefs and entrepreneurs in the food industry can utilize the kitchen to help grow and launch new businesses. It’s not easy to build a bridge between nonprofits and small businesses, let alone launch a program that supports both individually, too.

Susan recently partnered with City Councilor Martha McReynolds Jr. and produced a video that provides the latest information and a virtual tour of the facility. The video has been published online, and I encourage you to check it out on Facebook.

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An organic effort to organize a Father’s Day garage sale throughout Creswell sprung up in the past few weeks after physical-distancing guidelines forced the cancelation of the annual Mother’s Day weekend event. A cursory drive through neighborhoods Friday through Sunday indicated light foot traffic, plenty of hand sanitizer and shoppers keeping their distance. In fact, overall, it was a well-received and practical approach to getting rid of all that stuff everyone’s been cleaning out of the garage the past few months. If July 4th events are similarly conducted – “safe and sane,” as the city manager said – we’ll be fine. 

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Random thought: I’ve eaten Continental breakfasts at hundreds of hotels and work events all over the world. A single English muffin in The Chronicle newsroom is better than all of them. Every time.

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Reopening continues to be a mixed bag for small-business owners. Truly, all of them are trying to rebuild the airplane in mid-air. It’s been a challenge to meet the state’s reopening requirements while also trying to reinvent their business to serve customers and clients in new ways. Pazzo, which opened weeks before the pandemic and forced closure, has reopened with sidewalk seating along Oregon Avenue. Curbside pickup and drive-thru has become the norm for most restaurants; it’s hard to imagine successfully operating a business by counting on only one-third of your clientele. Kelly Coughlin, closing in on his 10th anniversary of owning the Round-Up Saloon and one of the few places to offer Oregon Lottery games in town, said he’s “constantly recalculating the physical structure of my business.” The state’s lottery division might be the most difficult aspect of the pandemic, he said. “Email is the only option; there is no human interaction.” Coughlin thought he had addressed all of the safety issues for his customers, creating “sneeze” barriers which are being used all over the world. The state told him he had created “air stagnation pockets,” and he would have to invest in more changes. 

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Readers reacted to Lane County Sheriff Clifford Harrold’s comments regarding the culture, training and jail oversight under his purview. The sheriff’s remarks resonated with many readers, who made it the single most-shared item on our Facebook page this year. An important clarification came from a reader, and I should have been more specific in the original column. She pointed out that the LCSO’s tracking includes all use of force for evaluation, not only that which is classified as “excessive force.” We’ll be taking a deeper dive into topics the sheriff mentioned during our interview, including the unique training program for new deputies and cutting-edge concepts around mental health care and policing. 

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I wrote about the perilous state of the US Postal Service recently, and sadly, not much has changed. Due to the pandemic, no financial relief from the government and new competitive headwinds in international shipping, our post office might go broke by Sept. 30. New rules go into place on July 1 that could weaken USPS’ international shipping business. Any drawdown on any revenue stream is the last thing it needs right now. USPS officials have stated they need $75 billion in the next Coronavirus relief package. 

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New LCSO deputies were announced last week for the contract assignments in Creswell. Sgt. Scott Denham welcomes Luke Thomas, Amy Nixon and Dylan Lemieux to the team. Stephen Naber and Chris Gardner have accepted new positions. Deputy Popp will continue to serve in Creswell. 

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The Chronicle has changed its hours of operation for its newsroom in Creswell. We’ll be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – except Tuesdays, when we close at noon. The paper is due to the printer on Tuesday evening, and we’re focused on meeting our deadline on those afternoons. We appreciate you visiting the newsroom, and also understanding the business needs around this decision.

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Creswell city’s newsletter arrived in my email inbox on June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth. I first learned of Juneteenth when we moved to Texas in 2003; it was never part of my formal education in Florida, and wasn’t on my radar during a career that took me all over Florida, NW Alabama and Utah. The city’s newsletter provided a significant and dedicated section this week to “Resources on racism,” which included links to books, articles, videos, podcasts and organizations to join or follow on social media. 

Noel Nash is publisher of The Chronicle.