In spite of budget cuts that decimated the city’s parks department in recent years, Gresham has found a way to increase amenities for its citizens for this summer and many summers to come.

Because of the leadership of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, for the first time in years, the city can offer daily activities for kids at three city parks along with a free lunch, thanks to the help of the USDA and local school districts.

That’s a huge effort that will have far-reaching effects, along with the recent opening of the new Children’s Fountain at the Arts Plaza. It’s the only free splash pad for kids in East Multnomah County and was entirely paid for with a $1.5 million grant in federal funds to be used for community development. The investment seems well worth the money: Since its July 4 opening, the fountain has been crowded every day with squealing, happy children.

Another example is the decision of Mayor Shane Bemis to have the city take over the Gresham Arts Festival, formerly the Gresham Art Walk. That shows an administration dedicated not only to providing amenities to citizens but to helping sustain the local economy.

The festival, held Saturday, July 19, this year, features the works of renowned artisans from all over the Pacific Northwest, and brings more than 10,000 people to town. Back in January, Bemis made the decision overnight to take over the festival, and has expanded the volunteer base while spreading the work around city staff with longtime festival volunteer and city employee Jill Bradley leading the effort. Bemis expects costs to the city to be offset by fees for vendors and artists.

Bemis, city staff and many volunteers all deserve kudos for doing their utmost to help keep Gresham a great place to live that’s getting even better.

Contract Publishing

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