Combined chamber hosts updates by Cornelius, Forest Grove leaders

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax pleads for bipartisanship Monday, quoting Abraham Lincoln: The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise to the occasion.Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin asked the crowd at Monday’s chamber of commerce luncheon how many had high-speed Internet.

Almost every hand went up.

Forty percent of Cornelius residents do not, meaning their only access to a computer — and to many job applications or educational tools — is through the city library, Dalin said.

That’s why the city is going back to the ballot in May with a measure to expand the city’s cramped library, he said, after a similar one failed in November by just 76 votes.

“A common post-vote reaction was, ‘I thought it was a done deal so I didn’t bother to vote,” said Dalin, adding that many of those have asked the city to give them another chance.

Dalin’s defense of the library measure was part of his State of the City address, a task he shared this year — for the first time — with Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax.

That’s because Forest Grove’s chamber of commerce, which hosts the annual event, expanded last year to include Cornelius.

In addition to promoting the library as “an economic necessity for our town center,” Dalin praised City Manager Rob Drake’s idea to investigate the possibility of using an Aquifer Storage and Recovery well to cut down on the city’s water costs.

The ASR method of water storage would be far less expensive than the above-ground tank Cornelius had originally considered as a backup to its current tank, Dalin said. And the importance of a backup water supply hit home a few weeks ago when the city’s main water line from Hillsboro broke and Cornelius had to turn to its sole storage tank for water.

The incident also highlighted the importance of cooperation as Forest Grove and Hillsboro both pitched in to help, said a grateful NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: CHASE ALLGOOD - Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin details his citys strong points Monday, including a state-certified, 50-acre, shovel-ready industrial site.

That same cooperation has worked well as Cornelius merged services with Forest Grove in several areas, Dalin said. The city now shares Forest Grove’s municipal court and fire chief. And its merger with Forest Grove’s building services has saved Cornelius about $90,000 a year, Dalin said.

Mayor Truax likewise spent his State of the City address highlighting Forest Grove’s partnerships with Metro, Washington County, Pacific University and many others that have brought improvements to Fernhill Wetlands, the B Street Trail, local transit service, Lincoln Park and — eventually, he hopes — to the intersection at Highway 47 and Maple Street, where a traffic signal would lower the risk for cyclists following the state’s newest Scenic Bikeways across the busy state highway.

Truax noted the formation of Forest Grove’s newest city commission — this one focusing on sustainability — and quoted former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson (D-Ill.) on the fragility of “spaceship earth.”

He ended his remarks with a plea for the many elected officials in the crowd to steer clear of partisanship, which is usually associated with Washington D.C., but which may be starting to raise its head here, Truax said.

Compromise should not be seen as a retreat, he said, quoting Abraham Lincoln on the value of openness.

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