November 22, 2019 Newsletter
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thanksgiving is upon us. Next week our tables will be filled with an abundance of food and our hearts full of gratitude as we celebrate the holiday season. May your homes be filled with laughter and happiness and may the good things of life be yours in abundance throughout the coming year.
Honoring our Veterans
Pat and I attended the veteran's ceremony at the World War II Memorial on the State Capitol grounds. It was a very nice ceremony with a good number of veterans in attendance. Thank you to those who came to express their gratitude.
Military Service — A Proud Tradition in my Family
On Veteran's Day, I participated in various events throughout the district and I was humbled by those who took the time to remember and honor our veterans for their sacrifice in defending our freedoms.
Serving as Vice Chair of the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee has been a rewarding experience. I am proud of my heritage and the long line of military veterans in my family.
My military lineage can be traced all the way back to the American Revolution. During the Civil War, one of my ancestors was captured and spent time in the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. He was freed in a prisoner exchange brokered by President Abraham Lincoln.
Fast forward to World War I, where my grandfather served in the trenches in France as a stretcher bearer carrying wounded to the aid station in three separate major campaigns. He suffered mustard gas attacks on multiple occasions, entered a VA Hospital in the mid-1940s and eventually died there as a result of his injuries.
Another relative, who served during World War II, was captured by the Germans and spent time in a German POW camp until the end of the war. Another uncle served in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II, jumped behind enemy lines on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and was at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
My brother and I both enlisted in the Army in the 1960s during the Vietnam War and served during that era. Following a three-year enlistment, we both enlisted in the Wyoming National Guard. I served two years in the Guard. In 2005, I volunteered to go to Iraq to train the Iraqi Police leadership. It has been my life's greatest honor to serve my country and my community.
In sharing this information, it is my hope that you, too, will share your family history of service with your children, your grandchildren, and your loved ones so they may learn about their family's heritage of service in a meaningful and personal way.
In the District
On October 26th, I had the distinct honor and privilege to participate in the roadside sign dedication ceremony for fallen hero Nickolaus Gregory Gossack. State Senator Fred Girod and I co-Chief sponsored HCR 4 this past legislative session. Both chambers unanimously passed the resolution, which recognizes and honors Army Specialist Nickolaus Gossack for his service to our country.
The dedication of the sign which is located near the entrance to Silverton, on Silverton Road, was attended by friends, fellow veterans and family, and included the Patriot Guard Riders, the Silverton Police Department and Marion County Sheriff's Office, Silverton American Legion Post members, Senator and Mrs. Girod, Marion County Commissioner, Colm Willis and many others. It was a particular honor to meet a "battle buddy" of Nick's who served in Nick's unit and flew in from his home in Denver to honor his friend. I spoke to the audience about Nick's devotion to duty and his sense of patriotism and I read the House Concurrent Resolution.
Nick Gossack was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and was under orders for another deployment when he was killed in an accident at Fort Hood, Texas on Father's Day, June 20, 2010. Specialist Gossack was the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon. He was a 2005 graduate of Silverton High School and is survived by his parents, Greg and Shannon Gossack and his sister Vanessa. Nick is also honored on the Freedom Memorial Plaza wall in Townsquare Park.
November 1st was a busy day with tours of three important business enterprises in the mid-Willamette valley. Thanks to Nick Harville with SEDCOR for putting this tour together.
We started with a tour of Freres Lumber in Lyons to see the amazing work they are doing with Mass Plywood Panel (MPP) fabrication. MPP is a massive, large scale, structural composite lumber based panel designed as an alternative to Cross Laminated Timbers (CLT) for construction that is earthquake resistant and a whole lot more. My friend and colleague Representative Shelly Boshart-Davis joined us for this tour. Representatives from Chemeketa were along on the tour as well. Thank you to Eric Ortiz from Freres Lumber for this very informative tour.
Our second stop was a visit to Agriculture Capital Foods Silver Mountain berry processing plant outside of Sublimity. The plant is located on what was previously a tree farm. Determined to deliver the highest-quality blueberries to its customers, the company has invested in high-tech equipment that uses algorithms to screen every blueberry to determine its quality. Their innovative technology and commitment to quality blueberry processing earned them SEDCOR's 2018 Agri-Business of the Year award. Thank you to Tyson Davies for taking us through the process.
The third stop was a visit to GK Machine, Inc. located in Donald. What an amazing operation! The business has been in existence since 1976 and has about 200 employees. Their manufactured products are primarily used for agriculture. They manufacture high quality equipment, parts and accessories from production runs of parts and pieces to complete machine assemblies. This operation is state-of-the-art. Thanks to Mike Mader for showing us around.
On November 2nd, I was honored to receive the "Friend of Nurseries" award by the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN).
Oregon has approximately 61,099 acres in nursery production — more than any other state.
It is a great privilege to represent the rural areas of Marion and Clackamas counties, home to some of the most robust agriculture communities in the Willamette Valley.
Oregon nurseries are nearly a $1 billion industry in our state and they are an economic force that strengthens our economy state-wide. I am humbled and honored by OAN's recognition and I will continue to work to safeguard their success throughout our state.
OAN is a non-profit trade association that represents more than 700 individual nursery stock producers, retailers, landscapers and related companies serving Oregon's nursery and greenhouse industry.
A press release can be viewed on my legislative web page here.
November 7th I was pleased to provide the Molalla Rotary Club a legislative recap of the 2019 session as their guest speaker. Thank you all who attended for sharing your thoughts and feedback about what's happening in Salem.
On November 8th, it was a pleasure to speak to our middle school students at their annual Veterans Day assemblies. I spoke at Molalla Middle School at 12:30 pm and then to Silverton Middle School students at 2:00 pm. There was a great turnout of veterans at both events and it was wonderful to visit with students and faculty. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to participate in these programs.
An early morning veterans ceremony received a small turnout at Townsquare Park in Silverton. The branch flags were posted by our local American Legion Post and veterans of the various branches of military service. I was asked to say a few words during the ceremony. The group then met for breakfast at the Town House Restaurant where a veteran’s special was served. Thank you to the Town House for honoring our veterans.
The Veterans Day ceremony at Mt. Angel Towers Retirement Home was a humbling experience. To be in a room of veterans from The Greatest Generation who served in World War II and Korea, reminds us of the sacrifices of this generation of veterans who seldom spoke of their experiences and are last to consider themselves heroes.
As we approach our Republic's 250th birthday in a few years, it is important that we remember the price of freedom and the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform who fought and died in support of those freedoms that quite often are taken for granted.
Thank you to Mt. Angel Towers and the Mt. Angel American Legion Post for this moving ceremony and for honoring our veterans! It was also good to visit with my old friend, Vince Till, from Silverton.
In the Capitol
This week, legislators returned to Salem for a second round of interim committee and task force meetings. Informational hearings on topics that could lead to legislation took place as we shape our policy priorities for the February 2020 session. We also received updates on implementations of past legislation and heard from state agencies and task force groups to keep us current on various issues impacting Oregonians.
Each of my legislative committees, House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness, Joint Transportation, and House Judiciary met. If you were unable to attend the hearings, video recordings can be viewed by clicking the respective committee links above.
As member of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund steering committee , I spoke at Tuesday's Press Conference to honor our Vietnam Veterans and lend support for the Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds. A great deal of work has gone into making this memorial a reality and I am proud to be a part if this vision.
Serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, although my overseas service was in a different part of the world, I remember all too well the treatment our service members endured during that era and how it especially impacted those who served in Vietnam. When called upon to serve, they didn't shirk their responsibility to do so. Some enlisted, many were drafted, but all served their country when called upon.
It is a blessing that our service members currently serving in the armed forces of our nation and in the National Guard are treated with the respect they have earned and deserve. They, too, have answered the call of duty. For our Vietnam veterans, they have never received that welcome home and our thanks for answering the call of duty. They bear the scars, both physical and emotional, not only from being in-country, but also from the treatment they received on their return home. This memorial is intended to thank them at long last. It is a memorial, not to war, but rather to service and sacrifice.
The Memorial will be located in the southwest corner of Willson Park in Salem, which is the park surrounding the State Capitol building. You can take a virtual tour of the proposed memorial here. More information about the Vietnam Memorial Fund's vision can also be found here.
The week closed today, marking the deadline for legislators to submit bill requests to Legislative Counsel to be drafted for the 2020 session. The Oregon Legislature convenes for a 35 day session on February 3, 2020. A final round of interim committees will take place January 13-15, 2020. Additional key dates are noted on legislative calendar below.
Holidays at the Capitol Celebrating 38 Years
On Thursday, the Holiday Grand Tree arrived at the Capitol and the decorating began. The approximately 30-foot Noble fir tree, selected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, arrived from the Clatsop State Forest Osweg Creek area.
After staging the tree in the Capitol Rotunda, volunteer electricians from the NECA-IBEW Locals 48 & 280 strung more than 7,000 LED lights on the tree in preparation for the December 3rd Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration.
The 38th annual Holidays at the Capitol celebration is made possible through generous donations by organizations, businesses and individual volunteers. The new LED lights were a gift from NECA-IBEW Locals 48 & 280 in 2017.
Holidays at the Capitol free and open to the public.
Dec 3 — Grand tree lighting festivities begin with a performance by Sprague High School's jazz choir from 5:00 - 5:30 p.m.. Between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. Santa and special guests will lead the crowd in the traditional tree lighting countdown. Other family-friendly activities include: Free photos with Santa, provided by Best Buy and free cookies and punch for all.
Dec 4 - Dec 24 — Daily performances between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.*, Monday - Saturday. You can view the performance schedule here. Performances streamed live Monday through Friday here.
Around the State
On November 3rd, Pat and I attended the mobilization ceremony for the 116th Air Control Squadron of the Oregon Air National Guard in Astoria. This group of ninety men and women deployed to the Middle East for a six-month tour. Included in those deploying is TSgt Summer Cain from Silverton (pictured below) who will be on her fourth deployment. We wish the unit a safe and successful deployment and look forward to their safe return to families and loved ones. Soundbites from the ceremony can be viewed here
Approximately 1,500 Oregon Air and National Guard men and women are scheduled for deployment to various locations primarily in the Middle East. We honor their service and the sacrifices they and their families are making and we wish them a safe return to their loved ones.
On November 13, the Willamette Falls Locks Commission met for our quarterly meeting. As a commission member, I am pleased to report that we are in the process of working through the details of a probable transfer of the locks from federal control with the goal of reopening them. A delegation from the Locks Commission made presentations before the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness and Joint Transportation committees this week. More information and the next steps in the process will be available in February. You can listen to the presentations by clicking on the following committee links:
The historic Willamette Falls Locks are the nation's oldest locks located on the west bank of the Willamette River in West Linn, Oregon and are the second largest waterfall by volume in North America. The locks were built in the early 1870s to move river traffic around the 40-foot horseshoe-shaped basalt ridge between Oregon City and West Linn. The locks opened on New Year's Day in 1873 and were operated by a number of owners before the Army Corps of Engineers purchased them in 1915 from Portland Railway Light and Power Company for $375,000. The locks were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Costly repairs to the locks led the Corps to shut them down in 2011 and they have remained on non-operational since that time.
In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to reopen the locks and bring back a major piece of the area's history. In 2017, Senate Bill 256 established the Willamette Falls Locks Commission to advise state, local, and regional government agencies on development and implementation of a plan for repair, reopening, operation, and maintenance of the navigation canal and locks, which brings us to where we are today.
A reopening of the locks would provide millions of dollars in economic benefits. It also provides environmental benefits and congestion relief by reducing the number of semi-trucks on our highways, allowing goods to be moved by river. Reopening further enhances recreational opportunities and our ability to provide disaster preparedness recovery functions in the region.
Thank you again for taking time to read my newsletter and for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative. Please don't hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of assistance.
State Representative House
Oregon's Christmas Tree District
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1418
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, OR 97301