Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hot Topic - Bike Racks...who knew?

On Wednesday evening, January 16th 2013 at my first official City Council Meeting as Mayor, I made a brief statement regarding the feedback that has been coming in regarding the new bike racks that were put in.

The feedback on these bike racks has been great to hear – the good and the not so good.  These were designed and created by the leadership group that was formed as part of the Ford Family Leadership Program.  This cohort was made up of over 20 people from our community – city councilors, planning commission members, business owners, and a cross section of other residents.

This first cohort of the Leadership program worked on this project for almost a year – from designing to fundraising to installation.  When the Council recommended cuts be made to the 1st Avenue Project, this group saw an opportunity to help out by taking on the bicycle racks.  Our community members raised their portion of the funds through selling “I Heart Canby” shirts.  They also secured a very generous donation of materials from local business American Steel.  All in all this was a zero cost to the city of Canby to install.

With the installation of the new bicycle racks, we removed the old black metal bike racks downtown to be refabricated into new bike racks to be used at the local schools.  With the school district deciding to have students that lived within a mile of their schools walk, this has also increased the amount of bicycle riders to school.  This increase has led to over flowing bike racks at many of the schools.  So, with school budgets tight and no funds to purchase new ones, the city is able to help out.

Another component of this is the public art aspect that this creates for our downtown and around the city.  A little personal insight on my family – I am married to an amazing woman who studied Art History at the University of Washington and did graduate work in New York City.  So she knows a few more, okay a lot more, things than I do about art.

During all the feedback that had been coming in, she made the comment that “public art does two things: it makes people think differently about the space they live, work, and play in.  It also creates conversation.”


Well, this project has done these two things and brought people to our downtown.  When I asked for feedback on my Mayor Facebook page there were over 60 comments.  I have had people tell me their thoughts at the grocery store, Chamber of Commerce functions, and the local chocolate and wine bar.  I am glad something like this has created so much conversation…and brought people into our downtown to take a look at them. 

As I delivered my statement, I wanted to make sure that with all the constructive feedback, that people know this project was executed by members of our community.  They worked very hard on this project.      Nobody likes to be criticized for work, especially when you are volunteering.  While candor is appreciated in all areas of volunteer projects, tact should also be exercised.

I closed  my statement by stating that the city will be keeping these in place for now because people worked hard on this and it is doing what they intended – create conversation, make us think differently about our public space, and that people are coming downtown to see the bike racks.  Hopefully those visitors downtown that come to look at and/or use the bike racks, stay awhile for lunch, a cup of coffee, and see what Canby has to offer.

Go Canby!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

First Visioning Meeting For The New Library

Last night, the city held it's first visioning meeting for the new library that is proposed for 2nd Avenue in Downtown Canby.  It was the first of 3 meetings to engage the public and to get productive feedback on how to move forward with the project.  It was a sparsely attended meeting, with about 35 citizens in attendance. I was hoping for a better turnout, as this is a very important project the city is working on.

Last night's meeting focused on the layout and architecture of the building.  The meeting was led by FFA, the architects the city has decided to use to create plans for the new library.  They asked questions about amenities we may or may not want or need in the new library.  If it had to do with the design and features built into the new library, this was presented last night.

The new library project was approved by the city council in August 2012.  While it did pass, there are still some approvals to finalize, design elements to consider, parking areas to finalize, and more.  This is where your input is so important.  We want to hear from everyone:  library users, people who frequent downtown, people who don't go downtown often, and really, any citizen of Canby who has questions, concerns, or opinions to give on this project.

We need a better turnout at the next two meetings!  Here are the dates and locations for the next meetings:

--Wednesday, January 30, 6:30 p.m.  (Location:  Canby Police Dept., 
1175 NW 3rd Avenue) 
--Tuesday, February 19, 6:30 p.m.  (Location:  Canby Police Dept., 1175 
NW 3rd Avenue ) (**please note this is a date change; the original date of February 14th is incorrect, as printed in the January newsletter).

Here is a link to my original article on my blog when the library plan passed and why I had voted no.

Here is the link to a follow-up article regarding my vision and plan for the library.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First Canby Visioning Meeting of 2013

Last night, the city held it's first visioning meeting at the police station. I joined about 50 other citizens to go over the summary of the previous 13 meetings that spanned four months concerning vision for the city. Prior to this meeting last night, there were numerous meetings with citizens going over the following four topics:

 1.  Community

2.  Parks and Recreation

3.  Transportation and Public Safety

4.  Growth and Economic Development

Last night's meeting was a presentation of all the information, feedback, input from citizens, and goals in these four key areas from those previous meetings.  It highlighted the past successes of Canby, such as the Canby Pioneer Industrial Park and the facade improvement program.

Last night's meeting also emphasized the purpose of the visioning processes.  Those key points are:

1. To help community members think broader and longer term about how they want their
home town to grow and develop over time in a way that works for them.
2.To understand the broader community current and future needs and preferences
3. To gain consensus and direction on top priority community investments and initiatives
4. To build a common foundation for community and organizational leaders to work together
to meet community needs and expectations over a longer term

To read the full document of what was presented last night, please click here.  You can also view the Powerpoint presentation of last night's meeting here. If you'd like to read what happened at the 13 meetings that occurred prior, please click here for that information.

This information will become a "reference manual" for the mayor and council to help set priorities and have citizen input at their fingertips.

We still need your help!  The city is conducting a 2013 visioning survey.  It's an easy online questionnaire that can be filled out by click here.  The city will use this survey information to possibly plan more visioning meetings in the future.

We also have visioning meetings coming up for the new library, and we sincerely need your input here.  There are a lot of details to still fine tune and we appreciate your feedback.  Here is the schedule:

--Tuesday, January 15, 6:30 p.m.  (Location:  Canby Public Library, 292 
N. Holly Street) 
--Wednesday, January 30, 6:30 p.m.  (Location:  Canby Police Dept., 
1175 NW 3rd Avenue) 
--Tuesday, February 19, 6:30 p.m.  (Location:  Canby Police Dept., 1175 
NW 3rd Avenue ) (**please note this is a date change; the original date of February 14th is incorrect, as printed in the January newsletter).

Finally, I ask you to attend city council meetings.  Citizens always have an open opportunity to voice their opinion on any topic pertinent to our city.  You can always view the city calendar to see when upcoming meetings are.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

State of the City

Yesterday, I delivered the State of the City address at the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.  It was a full house and I was excited (and maybe a little anxious) to share my report, analysis, and glimpse of the future of Canby.  I have only been "on the job" since January 2nd.  I did have a lot of help from city staff with much of the technical information and I am confident that my passion for what lies ahead and that we be solutions minded on our future challenges came across.

Below is the "hard copy" of what I presented.  I welcome your feedback, praises, and concerns for what I have presented.  Thank you for reading.

State of the City Address January 8, 2013
Mayor Brian D. Hodson

Before I begin I want to thank Walt Daniels and Randy Carson for their service to our community.  They have contributed a lot to Canby.

If you would have told me 10-15 years ago that I was going to be a city councilor or Mayor, I would have said “No way”.  Well, it has happened.  This has something I have thought about pursuing and even joked – “Some day I will run for office”. Who knew?  What I will not joke about is that I take this responsibility very seriously and appreciate the trust you all have placed in me.  I’m excited and energized to take on this role for the city and for you.

Our world has shown that it can change in a flash.  In the last 6 months I have run a campaign, been elected, decided to change jobs and work with the Chamber Board to plan a Christmas Light Event.  Since November, we have selected a new mayor and council members, changed the leadership of our county, and re-elected President Obama.  We witnessed tragedy at the hands of desperate, hurting individuals that touched some in this room, and every one of us across the country.

There were several Canby detectives and officers that assisted in the investigation at Clackamas Town Center and several churches in Canby that united to support the city of Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  I want to thank those officers and churches for lending a helping hand and support.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we come together and unite for a good cause.

On Sunday January 6th in an interview with my Pastor, he asked what excited me about Canby?  It is the heroic, heartfelt acts I just mentioned, like those by our Police Team and our community to reach out across our nation. Such actions say we are thinking of you in this time of need.  I become excited and proud about our city when the Canby Center is able to meet its financial need to continue its operations because of donations by the community. I am excited when we have talented youth that pour their hearts into theatre, music, art, sports, and science. I am even more excited when the community shows up in support; and when one of our community members, Francisco Zamora is recognized as a local hero by local media.

I am filled with excitement and optimism when I hear of new businesses expressing interest in Canby and existing ones staying open or expanding in this continued tough economic climate.  These are the things that lay our foundation.

What I will present to you today is a city that is in good shape and that I am proud of.  We can always do better and we will do our very best, to be better.  I will go out on a limb for the council and for staff when I say we can always do better.

Financially Speaking: Our city is holding the course.  We were faced last year with a higher than anticipated increase in health care costs that impacted us.  Mr. Ellis and his Leadership team presented a balanced budget to the budget committee this past spring with further cuts to expenses all the while working hard at maintaining our high levels of customer service. 

For the remainder of the fiscal year that began in July we have already begun to look ahead to next year and the next couple of years after that.  We will be having a supplemental budget coming to us in February to capture the $1MM in county capital money for the new library and the savings of over $250,000 through the restructuring of debt on projects from 2003 and 2004, combining transaction fees and taking insurance on our library and Sequoia projects.  The restructuring can be looked at like refinancing your home for an interest rate below 3% and this will be a huge savings.  Thank you to Mr. Ellis, Haley Fish our Finance Director and her team for pulling this together.

The city’s budget committee has already held its 1st meeting of the year in November to discuss the potential impact that PERS, Cost of Living Adjustments, and Health Care Costs will potentially have on us.  As of now these items could have a tremendous negative impact on services.  I am stressing ‘potential’ and ‘could’ because they are our best guess numbers as of right now.  Our State legislature will be weighing in when session convenes, we enter into contract negotiations with our Police Union this year and I am confident that conversation will give way to dialogue with the City Employees Union, where all of these will impact that overall number.

Our city leadership are working from the position of what are the “have to do” versus the “want to do”.  They are being frugal and a spend it all mentality has not, does not, and will not work.  They understand that we need to work now to set up the future so Canby will continue to be successful.

A large aspect that we provide for is public safety and this year was no exception. 

Canby Police Department
We completed the new police station where police staff moved in the week of August 14-17th.  Our Police had an average response time to all calls within the 2011 calendar year of 114 seconds, or 1 minute 54 seconds.  Over 14,000 calls were dispatched to Canby Police Officers. That is about 1,170 calls per month.

GREAT Program – Gang Reduction Education and Training –has been maintained with Canby Schools due to an overtime grant funded by a partnership with the Clackamas County Juvenile Department.  Taught in the classroom by a trained uniformed officer, the goal of this program and curriculum is to prevent youth crime, violence, and gang involvement while developing a positive relationship among law enforcement, families, and our young people to create safer communities. 

In an effort to improve efficiency, cost savings, and prepare for the development downtown the Municipal Court, to include court personnel and City Attorney, is now under the direction of the police department.  Court hearings with will now temporarily take place at the police department beginning January 7 of this year. 

Chief Smith and the department continue to mold our police force through hard work on the identification and implementation of the police department’s “new” Mission, Values, and Vision Statement.  This will give shape and direction to the Police Department’s future.

In September 2012, the department implemented a patrol shift that will allow for the better movement of sworn personnel to other shifts.  Such rotation of assignment will minimize fatigue, create opportunities for personnel growth and development and promote oversight and familiarity of personnel by supervisors.

We are committed to continuing the School Resource Officer at Canby High School.  The placement of a law enforcement officer, Greg Larrison, within the school system is a very proactive and preventive decision.  The officer works in partnership with the high school and typically will focus their duty related functions on a model consisting of law enforcement, student counseling, and law-related education. 

In the upcoming year our Police Department is working toward accomplishing the following important goals:
·         Fill police officer vacancies that will promote better shift coverage, increased officer safety, provide better service to the community due to decreased response times and allow for multi-agency partnerships and collaboration.
·         Create a new web page for the police department to interact with the city’s web page.
·         Implement the Citizens/Community Academy that is a series of classes designed to give community members and City Leaders a peek into the inner working of the Canby Police Department. 
·         With a grant from Oregon Department of Transportation, will begin implementation of an Electronic Ticket System that will issue traffic citations in less than 60 seconds and enables officers to return to service faster. 

Other public safety measures taken this year include the completion of sidewalks and walkways at the area called the Triangle that separate 3rd and 4th and extended them past the Fairgrounds.

Canby School District and the city partnered together to improve several of the routes to area schools.  With more children walking to school this school year, additional striping, cross-walks, stop signs and flashing pedestrian indicators were added.  Canby Police also increased patrols around the schools before and after school for safety, monitoring, and presence.  I am confident these helpful additions will be evaluated at the end of the year by the school district and the city so we can course correct as needed for future needs.

Within the Urban Renewal District we saw the completion of our Police Station.  This modern and updated facility places Canby at the forefront of public safety with improved technology, improved evidence storage, protection to our officers and it came in under budget to name a few important elements.  The 1st Avenue Redevelopment project brought new streets, streetlights, parking lot, wider sidewalks, landscaping and seating areas. The project also undergrounded utilities, and replaced sewer, water and stormwater lines.   I want to thank the businesses along 1st Ave and in the Downtown area for their patience; I know it was not easy. 

Economic Development headed by Renata Mengleberg, continued to be an important focus for the Council and Staff this past year.  A Canby Business Survey was conducted last spring to gather input from all sections of Canby’s business areas. Over 70% of businesses rate Canby as an excellent or good place to do business, and appreciated the quality of life, proximity to customers, amenities and local vendors. New resources that have been developed to support local businesses include:
·         “Shop Canby” was launched in January. This searchable website lists all Canby businesses. This enables each business to have a micro website that they can customize to promote their services.  65 business have customized information on the site that attracts 200-400 each month.  On average 65% are new visitors customers. 
·         The Canby Retail Market Analysis was completed last summer. Over 900 residents and 221 employers responded to the survey to help with this analysis. The study provided recommendations on types of business to attract based on the survey feedback and marketing materials to promote Canby to new retailers.
·         The city now has an updated online inventory of vacant retail, industrial space and land available to promote Canby.  This is being updated quarterly so potential businesses can see what is available.
·         A Canby Revolving Loan Program was launched in July to support local business investment.  Loans from $10,000 to $250,000 are available with 10 year terms for building expansions, new construction, building code upgrades, fixtures and seismic retrofits.
·         Three Industrial Forums were held for major employers that provided expert presentations on operational excellence.  Thank you to local manufacturers including MEC Northwest, Pioneer Pump that have hosted the forums. The program was successful and will continue for a second year in 2013.

Industrial Business Expansions and Additions have fueled our economic development this past year also:
·         Pioneer Pump completed its $2.7 million expansion in March. The 34,500 square foot warehouse will support 54 new jobs over time.
·         Shimadzu celebrated its 54,000 square foot expansion in June. The company invested $4.4 million and will add 45 new jobs in Canby.
·         Hawksoft, an insurance agent software developer, moved in to its new 15,000 square foot building in June bringing 42 jobs to Canby. Their goal is to grow to 100 over time.
·         Bold Ideas - a precision metals manufacturer moved in to the Canby Pioneer Industrial Park in bringing 15 jobs. They are projecting to add 40-50 employees over time.
·         Dragonberry Produce broke ground on their new 12,384 square foot building in the Canby Pioneer Industrial Park. They will invest $2.5 million in the new building which will be completed in June bringing 15 jobs to start with.
·         The Habitat for Humanity ReStore opened a shop in Canby this Fall.
·         The 6.1 acre former police site has been cleaned up to make it more competitive for sale.
·         The city promoted Canby to 10 industrial business leads and met with or assisted 13 larger Canby companies.  
·         The Canby Pioneer Industrial Park is now home to 17 companies that employ almost 850 people and have invested over $74 million in buildings and equipment. The park is 35% developed at this point.

Staff is currently developing an economic development plan that will be brought forward for adoption in March so that we can have continued success in the future.

Included in the umbrella of the Urban Renewal Agency is our Main St Program, headed by Jamie Stickle.

2012 brought many exciting successes to downtown Canby.
·         The Façade improvement program continued to gain steam with several projects completed – including the new Bricks and Minifigs building and Canby Station. Many more façade improvements were approved by the Urban Renewal board including the American Legion, T-Line Design, Trinity Counseling, and Canby Music that we will see this year.
·         Ten new businesses opened within the downtown commercial district, spanning everything from hair salons to accounting firms, wellness centers to health clinics.
·         Downtown events promoted downtown including the ongoing First Friday program, Halloween festivities and a new Halloween costume parade, the Cruise In and the annual Light the Night parade and tree lighting.
·         Two rounds of the artistic banner program brought art from local artists and high school students to the streets of Canby, while forging key community partnerships.
·         The Main Street program currently has 18 active volunteers supporting the Promotion and Design committees. Involvement is always encouraged to expand existing committees to leverage Canby’s assets.

Looking ahead, the Main Street Program will focus its efforts on a wide variety of projects, including a blade sign program, creating a sign that will be stationed at the Event Center to direct visitors to the downtown core, adding two additional Main Street committees – Economic Restructuring and Organization,  To expand the Main Street Program, staff will provide additional funding sources including pursuing various grants, and holding special events throughout the year.

Additional accomplishments and items on the horizon for Canby – we adopted the 99E Corridor Plan; we started and are close to the completion of a series of city visioning meetings that will direct our planning and goal setting efforts in the coming years; The Ford Family Leadership Foundation completed a year long bike rack project bringing new and unique elements around Canby.  Here in 2013 we will be moving forward with Stormwater Master Planning, the planning for the new library is progressing forward with community meetings starting this month, and we will begin the Sequoia connection to SE 13th Ave this spring. 

There is much to be proud of for the past year and there are a number of things that will need our attention, we need a new level of detail, and the ability for government to do the work differently.  What worked in the past may still not be a viable option.  We must realize that we have to prioritize the “have to do’s” before we do the “want to do’s”.  It is not easy.  It means delayed gratification in most instances and it may not be a “No” answer.  It may be a “not just yet”. 

I encourage the council to take a detailed look at how we are setting up Canby for success in not only the city budget and use the Urban Renewal District funds but how we need to plan for the future.  The District closes in about 7 years and as we have seen, the planning we do now will very well be executed by a different council.  Let’s be great in the little things as well as in the big things.  We are building for another generation.

For us to grow Canby’s economic engine we have to be aggressive to draw businesses here to our Industrial Park.  At a state level, the legislature must focus on how to make Oregon a desirable place to bring and open businesses.  Our state as a leader in manufacturing must continue to grow this by becoming more business friendly.

We need our County Commissioners to come together and change the image and reputation that our county is not business friendly.  When a business is looking in the Portland Metro area, we want Canby to be one of the top three places they look into. Canby is not just “shovel ready” we are “Job Ready”. 

On a city level if the draw of new businesses to the state is a trickle, we must appeal to businesses in Washington and Multnomah County to bring them to Canby.  If we can be more attractive to draw the right community minded businesses here then let’s do that.  We have a tremendous amount of Economic know-how at our disposal – our Economic Development Director worked at the county, our former Economic Development Director is currently at the county, and our Chamber Director has ten plus years of promoting Canby across the state.  This is an incredible team that we must leverage for Canby and Clackamas’ benefit.  Let’s “coach up” the members of the Planning Commission so that when businesses do come knocking and housing starts begin we can be ready, without any delay.

For eighteen years I worked for a company that stressed we answer the question – “How do we stay small as we grow bigger?”.  Through the visioning process we have heard it come across that we want to keep our small town feel.   We stay small through making connections in our neighborhoods, being involved by going to community events, and by being engaged in solutions for what is happening in our community.  We will grow positively together on our terms and in a way that is best for Canby!

Thank you to the Chamber for allowing me to speak today, thank you to city staff for all your hardwork this past year, thank you to the city councilors that work hard for all of us, and thank you to the citizens of Canby for your passion.  God Bless you, your families, and Canby.  Let’s get to work!


Brian Hodson
City of Canby, OR.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Mayor

I hope this blog post finds you reflecting on a joyous holiday season and prosperous 2012. I as well had a wonderful holiday season with my family and am looking forward to an exciting 2013.

 One of the main reasons I am looking forward to the new year is I take the realm as your new mayor in Canby on January 2nd! I've spent the past few months since the election meeting with fellow city councilors, our city administrator, and other key officials to strategize, create priorities, and get a feel of what is our highest priority as we begin the new year. I am also meeting with and listening to you, the citizens of Canby. 

As I stated in my campaign, you are the true voice of what is most important to the growth and prosperity of our town. I value your opinions and suggestions. I hope you know that you can email me or call me anytime with your concerns and feedback. As the new year begins for our town, there are a lot of immediate concerns and issues to address: fine tuning 1st Avenue, addressing issues with 99E, and other key parts of our town.

 I invite you to attend the City Council meeting on January 2nd, when I am sworn in. If you have specific concerns, questions, or community issues you feel need immediate attention in my tenure, I encourage you to voice them at the meeting. If you supported me on my campaign and are excited for this new venture, I would appreciate your support at the meeting as well as I am sworn in. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook, to show your support and that you will be in attendance January 2nd. Happy New Year!
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