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2013: The Year in Review


The Newberg Graphic looks back at a year that further shaped the community

Newberg mourns passing of Joan Austin

A-dec Inc. co-founder, philanthropist and longtime Newberg resident and businesswoman Joan D. Austin died in her sleep early the morning of June 5 at the age of 81.by: GARY ALLEN - Memorial - Newberg matriarch Joan Austin died in June from heart complications. A large memorial was held a week later.

She and her husband, Ken, founded A-dec in 1964, and she remained the Newberg-based dental equipment manufacturer’s co-owner and co-chairperson of its board until her death. Hundreds attended a memorial held for her later that month at the Allison Inn & Spa — the award-winning destination resort built by her and her husband — and the 2013 Special Olympic Games in Newberg (of which she was a devoted supporter) were dedicated to her memory.

Convicted murderer Scott Cox paroled

A sad chapter in Newberg’s history, once thought closed, was reopened suddenly in February 2013, with the announcement of the imminent parole of convicted double murderer Scott William Cox. Cox was convicted in 1993 for the intentional homicides of two prostitutes.Cox

Though he has few real connections to the area, his last known address was in Newberg, so upon his initial release he was returned to Yamhill County, where he resided in subsidy housing at the jail until he secured employment and residence elsewhere.

Lost GFU student found alive on Mount Hood

After slipping and falling an estimated 40 feet during an attempted solo summit of Mount Hood on March 24, 23-year-old Newberg resident and George Fox University senior Mary Owen spent most of the next six days on Oregon’s tallest peak, injured and alone.by: GARY ALLEN - Survivor - GFU student Mary Owen survives a harrowing six-day stay on Mount Hood.

An Oregon National Guard helicopter crew spotted her while on a test flight the morning of March 30 at an elevation of about 4,600 feet and hoisted her away. She was treated at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for frostbite and other injuries and made a full recovery.

Newberg city manager steps down after admitting affair with subordinate

Newberg City Manager Dan Danicic resigned Aug. 12 at the request of the City Council, after he admitted to attempting to cover up an affair with a former city employee who, at one time, had threatened to sue the city. Tabrina McPherson, the city’s former capital projects program administrator, alleged that she had engaged in an intimate, two-year affair with her indirect supervisor, Danicic, and that her termination in 2013 was the result of her ending the relationship and his desire to keep it quiet.Danicic

Danicic had admitted the former, but denied the latter.

The city settled with McPherson out-of-court for a lump sum payment of nearly $45,000, and Assistant City Manager Lee Elliott was appointed interim city manager while a more permanent replacement is sought. Formerly Newberg’s public works director, Danicic had served in the position since 2008.

Yamhill County counsel Rick Sanai

resigns following disbarment

Yamhill County Counsel Rick Sanai resigned amid controversy in early June, after the appeal of his disbarment in Washington was denied by that state’s Supreme Court. Sanai’s license to practice law in that state had earlier been removed by the Washington State Bar Association due to his alleged legal misconduct related to the bitter divorce of his parents.Sanai

Though the complaints were unrelated to his work as counsel — a position he had held since 2010 — his disbarment in was expected due to the established practice of reciprocal discipline. Council commissioners appointed Sanai’s deputy, Christian Boenisch, in his place.

Dundee community remembers those lost

A memorial and garden was erected and dedicated in May at Dundee Elementary School to honor nine members of the school community who died since 2007: Jordan Nelson (2007), Christian Nelson (2009), Casey Binkerd (2010), Marissa Poznanski (2012), Jordan Boggs (2012), Colton Fettig (2012) and Amy, Bailey and Jackson Engels (2012).by: SETH GORDON - Paying their respects - Dozens of people showed up for dedication at Dundee Elementary School to those community members who had been lost over the prior several years.

Amity artist Sam Bernardi and a number of local students later created a series of colorful glass-tile mosaics to decorate the site and further honor those to whom it was dedicated.

State approves berm at Riverbend

After 20 months of review, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved May 30 the request by Riverbend Landfill to build a mechanically stabilized earthen berm along the western perimeter of its existing footprint. The 1,700-foot-long wall was designed to increase the landfill’s capacity by approximately 1 million cubic yards, prolonging the operation’s life expectancy by a couple more years. The decision disappointed opponents of the landfill’s continued operations, who had gone so far as to hire their own geotechnical consultant to conduct an independent review of the project. Several months later, Waste Management officials began the process to request a zoning change at Riverbend that would allow for their future expansion plans to move forward. That matter — which has also been a source of controversy — has yet to be decided.

New Dundee firehouse under way

Construction began this summer on a new, 17,500-square-foot firehouse to serve as the headquarters of the Dundee Fire Department. The project will be undertaken in two phases, with the construction of the new building scheduled for completion in February.

The second phase involves paving the parking lot, landscaping and moving apparatuses and fire officials into the new building. The old building will be demolished in April. officials reported in November that the project is on schedule and keeping pace with its $3.8 million budget.

HAYC project breaks ground on affordable housing facility

Construction began in July on a $13 million, 56-unit affordable housing complex on , known as Deskins Commons. The project, spearheaded by the Housing Authority of Yamhill County (HAYC) is unique in that the complex is being built around an existing historical structure, the Ellen D. Todd House, built circa 1905.

The house will be renovated, restored and converted into a combination of common space and a private residence to be used in the future by the property’s HAYC-employed site manager. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2014.

Let the good times keep rolling at 99W Drive-In

Newberg’s own 99W Drive-In was one of five drive-in theaters to win a new digital projection system in September, courtesy of Honda’s Project Drive-In. Without the digital projector, the 60-year-old family-owned drive-in theater could have been forced to close.by: GARY ALLEN - Going digital - The 99W Drive-In found out in late summer that it would be one of a few across the country to receive a digital projector, courtesy of the Honda Corporation.

Movie distributors are ending the use of 35-millimeter film, and the costly switch to digital projection would have been too expensive for the small theater. The projectors can cost as much as $70,000. Honda’s Project Drive-In, created as a national effort to save as many of ’s remaining drive-ins as possible, determined through online voting which theaters would receive the new projectors.

Take-down begins at 100-year-old cabin

A Portland company began carefully dismantling the Pioneer Mother’s Memorial Cabin at Champoeg State Heritage Center in November as part of an effort to relocate the historic log structure to higher ground as the clay bank behind the cabin is further undermined by the Willamette River.

Built in 1931 and owned by the Oregon State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the cabin serves as a pioneer museum and historical exhibit for schoolchildren. The deconstruction and reconstruction effort, which is being funded by donations and grants, is expected to be completed by as early as this summer, depending on the success of fundraising efforts.

NCD plaza completion delayed to 2014

Originally slated to be finished Dec. 1, the construction of a plaza in front of the Chehalem Cultural Center on Sheridan Street (described by Newberg Cultural District officials as a “living room” for the city) has been delayed by weather and other issues such that its completion has been postponed to mid- to late January. The project, which began construction in September, includes improvements to the street, sidewalk and sewer, as well as the addition of a forecourt area for the cultural center. Total cost of the building project is approximately $850,000, which is being shared by the city and and Recreation District.

Library expansion hits shelving snag

The Newberg Public Library unveiled its new and improved children’s reading room this summer, after a two-month construction and renovation project nearly doubled its size and added a computer area and family restroom. The library met its more-than $260,000 goal entirely through its fundraising effort, “Making Room to Read,” and grants. Though the expansion opened in June, the library has experienced several delays related to the new shelves for the space, which were funded through a separate grant from the Oregon Community Foundation and had initially been expected as early as October. When the shelves arrived in November, they were the wrong size, and now, new ones are being made that should come next month. The grand opening for the space has been set for Feb. 8.

New animal shelter nears completion

After more than a decade of fundraising and planning, the new Newberg Animal Shelter on Sandoz Road opened to receive its first dogs and cats this year.by: GARY ALLEN - A long time coming - During the summer the new animal shelter building was completed and volunteers began moving in dogs and cats to the Sandoz Road facility.

But though the kennels and basic construction was largely complete, the space was still in need of significant interior work and furnishing to be fully ready for public use. That work continued throughout 2013, and in November, shelter officials announced that they would be using December to gauge the facility for full-time occupation.

Terra Estates subdivision approved

After months of debate and a handful of delays, the application for the 44-lot Terra Estates subdivision north of town was approved by the Newberg City Council Dec. 16. The Del Boca Vista LLC project had been a source of criticism from neighbors for the past several months. Opponents had argued that the subdivision off North College Street was inconsistent with surrounding land uses and claimed the development would create more traffic than nearby streets could handle.