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New city council president wears a lot of hats in town

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Christy Greagor completed weeks of emergency medical responder training this year, which included strapping patients on a backboard. For Christy Greagor, Banks was just a small town amid sprawling fields on the fringe of the metropolitan area, far from her suburban Aloha home, which was within minutes of shopping malls.

That was 15 years ago. Now, Greagor not only lives in Banks — she's president of its city council, a member of its Greenville City Park Management Committee, a contributor to its city-wide emergency response plan and halfway to becoming one of its volunteer firefighters.

That’s when she's not training for half-marathons, raising four children age five to 14, or making glass jewelry, a hobby all the other activities have recently overwhelmed.

The council presidency is the newest addition to Greagor's crowded resumé.

That appointment came last Tuesday, April 9, when former president Pete Edison took over the mayoral position, left vacant by John Kinsky, who moved to Hillsboro.

“I’m excited. It’s an opportunity to learn,” she said. “I’m going to step in and just do it, and learn as I go.”

That’s Greagor: dive in head-first.

“That seems to be my way — just bring it on and I’ll take care of it,” she said.

Greagor got her first taste of civic engagement when she helped establish the Greenville City Park in the housing development behind Jim’s Thriftway, complete with a gazebo and play structure.

“I have such fond memories of that — all the hard work and community effort,” she said.

After that, she was hooked.

Greagor has helped make the park a staple for Banks gatherings, including a holiday tree lighting, outdoor movies in the summer and — new this year — a farmers market on Fridays.

“I think it’s a lot of fun to be a part of how a city is run,” said Greagor, who joined the council five years ago.

Knack for government

The Greagors have a knack for involvement in city government. Christy's husband, Steve, is the assistant city manager in Hillsboro. “It helps having a spouse I can bounce ideas off of and who knows how cities work,” Christy said.

As Greagor becomes an ever-increasing presence in Banks, “it’s kind of funny to have people say to Steve, ‘So, you’re Christy’s husband.’ Usually it is the other way around,” she said.

Steve said Christy is diligent about reading her entire city council packet.

"It is page after page of some pretty mundane, hard-to-understand kind of stuff," he said.

Her role helps him remember "how seriously the city councilors take their jobs and responsibilities — it’s not an easy job.”

Steve helped explain Oregon land-use laws, which helped Greagor with Banks' Urban Growth Boundary expansion. One of her council goals is to see UGB projects move forward.

The council and Washington County commissioners approved the UGB expansion. Now they're waiting for citizens within the expanded area to apply to be included.

Initial public hearings before the Washington County Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners for an additional recreational section of land near Quail Valley Golf Course will be held at 7 p.m. tonight, April 17, in the Public Services Building, 155 N. First Ave. in Hillsboro.

Successful expansion would bring the current population of just under 1,800 Banks citizens up to between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Residents are split on the expansion, according to Interim City Manager Jolynn Becker. Some worry the population's near-doubling will change the small-town feel, she said. Others think growth will be good for businesses and property values.

Greagor believes the expansion will be good for Banks in the long run, though, and thinks the number of potential new neighbors won’t change the town's character.

“I like that Banks is small,” she said. “It feels safe and secure.”

Calling 911

She’s also looking forward to settling in after recent city upheaval. Since fall, Banks has lost its mayor, manager, attorney and planner.

Next month, Greagor will “be up in the big chair” for the first time, running her first city council meeting by stepping in for Edison, who will be out of town.

“She’s always been very active on council and very involved,” Edison said. “She’s always engaged and has done a lot of good things.”

Greagor's energy doesn’t stop with the council.

She looked into becoming a volunteer firefighter last winter.

The plan started with the severe asthma suffered by her son and daughter. "We have had more ambulance rides than I can count on both hands," she said.

Greagor remembers calling 911 while her daughter struggled for breath, feeling panicked and helpless. Banks Fire Department responders stepped into her home and took control before she could pack a small bag.

“I admire these people who go into a call not knowing what’s going on," she said. "You call 911 and you just know that these people who are trained and professional are going to come and help you."

Greagor successfully completed the Emergency Medical Responder training and passed the test this spring. But the firefighter training was too physically demanding for her 41-year-old back. The day after repeatedly climbing a six-story tower with more than 50 pounds of gear, she could barely move.

“I had a hard week after I withdrew from the fire academy, knowing I wasn’t cut out for something I had a passion for,” she said.

Greagor will use her brief history with the fire department when she meets with a group that's planning a coordinated response to potential emergencies, from natural disasters to shootings.

She might try the firefighting training again next fall, counting on her physical fitness to improve as she continues her personal workouts.

She and Steve try to walk as a couple when schedules allow. “We’re getting older and you realize you’re not invincible. We want to be able to do the things we want to do when we retire and not worry about being sick or injured,” Greagor said.

She introduced running into her daily routine a few years ago. After a slow and easy start, she now runs a few miles most days of the week.

“I came to a point in my life when I needed something to get me active again,” she said.

Last Sunday, she completed the Vernonia half-marathon for the second year in a row. She hopes this will inspire her kids to live healthily — which brings in her favorite role: mom.

“I want to show my kids I’m giving back to my community,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be your money. Time works great, too.”

Time is precious in their household, where the Greagors juggle work, volunteering, school, softball and other interests. Next year, her youngest will be in school, and with a little extra time, she’s looking forward to finding new passions in addition to her avid reading.

“I want to do something meaningful,” she said. “e don’t have a lot of resources. It takes a community effort to get things done. I think here in Banks, that’s part of life.”

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