Today's capsule ceremony is a gift for city to open in 50 years

After a year of looking back at Tualatin’s first century, the city will send a message to the future.

Or, rather, the city will preserve a snapshot of modern life for future Tualatin residents to unearth in five decades.

“Some people are thinking, well, 50 years isn't very long,” said Tualatin parks and recreation manager Carl Switzer, “but if you look back 50 years, life has changed quite a bit since 1963.”

Creating a time capsule has been equal parts art and science, Switzer explained.

The Centennial Time Capsule will be buried today (Thursday) at noon at the Tualatin Heritage Center, 8700 S.W. Sweek Drive.

For example, petrochemicals in specific kinds of plastics will degrade and emit gases that could damage other artifacts in the time capsule.

“Because it’s a relatively short time, we took the basic approach: Don’t include batteries, or anything that can explode, or liquids,” Switzer said.

The city also considered the elements, topography and floodplains.

“We wanted (the capsule to be buried) in a place where the public could easily access it, walk by it, reflect on it, build some anticipation in the future,” he said, adding that a plaque will mark the spot.

“We know that the Tualatin River has a desire to flood from time to time,” Switzer explained. “We have a cement utility vault that's buried several feet under the ground that weighs a couple hundred pounds. Inside that will be a welded-shut stainless steel box, which is probably 100, 150 pounds.”

Future Packaging & Preservation, a Covina, Calif., company that specializes in time capsules, has provided many of the necessary materials, and some much-needed advice.

At final count, the time capsule will contain more than 78 separate items, including a Centennial police chief badge, a mastodon bone fragment, glacial erratic tips, Tualatin High School Timberwolves license plate frame and varsity letter, as well as TriMet bus and train schedules. For posterity, the city is also including Aug. 15 and Oct. 31 issues of The Times.

Portland Trail Blazers 2013 program, as well as menus from local restaurants, like Hayden's Lakefront Grill and Outback Steakhouse.

Future Packaging & Preservation recommended that if the city was including any kind of media, they also include the technology to support it. Switzer said the time capsule will contain a portable DVD player to enable future generations to enjoy the veritable library the city is enclosing, which includes a copy of "Tualatin's Visual Chronicle," "Centennial Celebration Retrospective," a compilation of footage provided by Tualatin Valley Community Television, "Sweek House Tour," "Tualatin Then & Now," "The Road to Statehood Ran Through Tualatin," a DVD of one of Tualatin Elementary School's kindergarten classes performing an original production entitled "Black Bear," and "The Avengers," which topped box office sales this year.

The capsule will also contain letters from Tualatin residents, although not as many as Switzer had hoped. Despite the city’s open call for correspondence with the future, Switzer said only about a dozen letters from the community were received, although another 50 letters were submitted from Tualatin-area students.

The city specifically asked for letters in order to involve the public in the capsule project, while maintaining common-sense guidelines.

Otherwise, Switzer said, the committee feared “people might show up with a stuffed squirrel, or their grandmother’s ashes.”

“We thought, ‘We have a pretty small space. How can we maximize the number of people who can participate in this, and not end up with goofy stuff we don’t know what to do with?’” he added.

All told, the Centennial time capsule cost $3,500 and was included in the city’s Centennial Celebration budget of $30,000, Switzer said.

The Centennial Celebration planning committee includes Switzer, as well as Frank Bubenik and Nancy Grimes from the City Council; Tigard-Tualatin School District spokeswoman Susan Stark-Haydon; Yvonne Addington, Larry McClure and Christine Tunstall of the Tualatin Historical Society; Linda Moholt from the Chamber of Commerce; and Christine Moore of Pamplin Media Group.

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