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Cooperation is the key to Cornelius holiday tree


City gets Douglas fir thanks to donated equipment and time from Forest Grove, Truss

Cornelius city workers help lower the tree, a 30-foot Douglas fir, into a hole dug by equipment and employees on loan from Forest Grove.Cornelius leaders recently faced a not-so-happy-holiday dilemma: How could the second annual “Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony” take place with road construction messing up access to the holiday tree?

A year ago, the city’s first tree-lighting ceremony was wildly successful, drawing about 400 community members despite cold, rainy weather.

City employees had planted a big, beautiful redwood tree in Veterans Memorial Park on Baseline Street so they could continue the ceremony on an annual basis.

City Manager Rob Drake was expecting at least 400 residents to return for the “second annual” ceremony.

Then came the Baseline Construction Project, mucking up the front of Veterans Memorial Park.

Cornelius Public Works Director Mark Crowell, a 28-year employee with the city, knew the solution would take a group effort—and an alternate tree.

“We needed a sense of urgency because there was a lot to do in a short period of time,” Crowell said. “The tree lighting had been set for December 6th and we wanted to keep that date.”

Crowell, who manages park maintenance for the city, decided the ceremony should be moved to City Hall Park at Adair Street and 14th Avenue, which is near Veterans Memorial and also has plenty of parking.

He went to Steamboat Park to find the right tree — a 30-foot Douglas fir similar to the redwood planted in Veterans Memorial Park for the annual event.

Truss Components of Cornelius donated the sling and the truck to excavate and deliver the tree.

Forest Grove Light and Power donated the equipment and labor to dig a 6-foot hole to hold the tree.

The tree went up last Thursday. It will be removed from City Hall Park after the holiday season.

“This is such a great community,” Crowell said. “So many people have come together to make this happen.”

“We are so fortunate to have the support in Cornelius and Forest Grove that we do,” said Drake, who helped start the tree-lighting ceremony in Cornelius last year.

He’d started a similar event when he was mayor of Beaverton and watched it grow from 300 to 1500 participants before he left office.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: DOUG BURKHARDT - Truss Components of Cornelius volunteered its truck and time to deliver the citys 2013 holiday tree to its new, temporary location on Adair Street.

“I love bringing families together,” Drake said. “It’s important for the community to have an event where they can associate with their friends and neighbors during the holidays.”

The Cornelius City Council agreed and the initial tree-lighting ceremony included hot chocolate, cookies, carolers and a special fire department escort for Santa Claus and the missus.

“I saw the looks on the kids’ smiling faces,” Drake said, “and knew this was the right decision to bring the ceremony to Cornelius.”

Crowell said that next year the tree-lighting ceremony will return to Veterans Memorial Park.