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Cornelius, Forest Grove mayors share podium for 'State of City' talks

Truax boasts about low electric rates; Dalin praises volunteers

For two cities that share a border, a school district, a fire chief, a chamber of commerce and more, it makes perfect sense for their mayors to share their State of the City speeches at the same event.

Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax and Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin both spoke at Monday’s Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce luncheon — the third such double-header since the chamber merged.

As usual, the audience included not only chamber members but a wide array of political representatives, from the U.S. Congress to Metro to Washington County, Pacific University, Centro Cultural and Portland Community College and four other mayors.

Truax started off with an update on the Parks and Recreation Department, which is updating its overall master plan, exploring the possible development of a recreation/community center, and adding an Old Town Loop Trail this year.

Truax noted the city’s low electric rates and energy conservation measures, as well as several new housing developments and three upcoming road projects on Highway 47 that will make travel safer and easier for both trucks and the general public.

On the business front, newcomer Chaucer Foods has added 95 jobs in the city this year, while expansion of existing businesses has added another 30 or so.

Truax also noted the need for a new police station and the growing partnership between the firefighting

agencies of western Washington County.

He ended by stating his conviction that the upcoming Tokola Properties apartment/retail complex will be “transformative” for the city and doesn’t mean city leaders have forgotten its most vulnerable citizens.

The city won a $325,000 Community Development Block Grant, for example, to remodel the senior and community center.

And Truax vowed to continue working with nonprofits and other partners to address the need for affordable housing.

Dalin started off with an admonition to “Find something in your community and volunteer,” citing his own (and his wife’s) volunteer time with Boy Scouts, who will soon put up a fence that will help give Cornelius its own dog park.

He then thanked all the people now volunteering in Cornelius, including firefighters and receptionists at the Cornelius Police Department.

Dalin praised the five-year fire operations levy that voters passed last year, giving the city faster and more reliable emergency service. And he noted the rise in officer-initiated stops since the Washington County Sheriff’s Office took over the police department in July 2014. Many of those are simply deputies’ attempts to make a positive connection with citizens, he said: “If you see stickers on kids’ shirts, it shows an officer stopped to talk to them that day.”

Dalin also celebrated the city’s new aquifer. Its current above-ground storage tank holds only 1.5 million gallons of water — for a city that “burns through about a million gallons a day.” Expected to be ready for use next year, the aquifer will be able to store not just 30 to 50 million gallons (as originally estimated) but 50 to 100 million gallons, he said.

He also described how one of the Cornelius librarians led a group to a book sale in Mexico and brought back numerous discounted Spanish-language books for the city, where more than 50 percent of residents are Latino.

When he asked how many in the audience spoke Spanish only three hands went up (including Cornelius Police Chief Al Roquet). Dalin then suggested everyone come to one of the city’s Spanish-language Town Halls, where “it’s interesting to be the one who needs an interpreter.”