Capture history on Earth Day as Gresham celebrates energy net zero status - 04/16/15
EMBARGOED - NOT FOR PUBLICATION
GRESHAM, Ore. - Capture a major environmental milestone - complete with kids, cupcakes and kudos - as the City of Gresham celebrates energy net zero status for its wastewater treatment plant on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. at the plant, located at 20015 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
Net zero refers to the energy equation: the Gresham plant now produces about the same amount of power it uses in a year. It's the first treatment plant in the Pacific Northwest, and one of only a handful in the nation, to reach this green goal.
A unique collaboration with the non-profit Energy Trust of Oregon, as well the Oregon Department of Energy and the Global Fortune 500 company Veolia, the project will save Gresham ratepayers $500,000 a year and reduce the region's greenhouse gas emissions.
Reporters can capture remarks by:
* Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis
* Energy Trust of Oregon Board President Debbie Kitchin
* Oregon Department of Energy Director Michael Kaplan
* Veolia North America Vice President of Operations for Southern California Rick Smith
* National Energy Technology Laboratory Research & Development Area Lead David Alman
About 80 fourth-graders from nearby Wilkes Elementary School, who are studying energy, will be on hand and tour the plant. Another big visual opportunity: Attendees will count down to zero and form the number on the lawn - which photographers can capture from a nearby first-floor rooftop.
A press release will be available at the event, with an explainer about the renewable energy processes at the Gresham plant. Officials will be available for interviews.
Bring it: Gresham recycles tons at popular Earth Day event (Photo)
In 2014, residents recycled 2,080 pounds of hard plastics
GRESHAM, Ore. - If history speaks volumes, then Gresham and Wood Village residents will bring tons of items to the City of Gresham's 17th annual Earth Day Recycling Collection event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18, in the City Hall parking lots, located at 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway.
Last year, area residents dropped off:
3,364 pounds of batteries
2,080 pounds of hard plastics
1,085 pounds of hard Styrofoam
16,448 feet of fluorescent tubes and lights.
New in 2015, the City will collect non-working small appliances and electronics such as toasters, blenders, microwaves, radios, DVD players and remote controls.
"We try to always collect materials that are hard to recycle, and small, broken appliances and electronics are hard to find a home for," Gresham Recycling and Solid Waste Manager Dan Blue said. "You can't put them in your recycling roll cart, yet many contain precious metals that are great to recycle and don't belong in the landfill.
"We're hoping to keep tons of material from being thrown away this year," Blue added.
Rain or shine, volunteers and staff will collect these non-curbside items: large, rigid plastics; block Styrofoam; fluorescent tubes and lights; batteries; non-working small appliances and electronics; cell phones; plastic sacks; and paper for shredding on site.
Not accepted: computers, televisions, hazardous waste, soft plastics, fast-food containers, squishy foam, packing peanuts, and curbside recyclables.
The Earth Day Recycling Collection event is free, and open to Gresham and Wood Village residents only. Limit one car per household.
Complete collection information including limits and guidelines, recycling item descriptions and photos - as well as information about where to take these items year-round for recycling - is available online at GreshamOregon.gov/EarthDay.
Get year-round recycling tips and garbage service reminders with the City's GoCart! tool for smartphone or computer. Sign up at GreshamOregon.gov/GoCart for a chance to win six months of free garbage and recycling service.
For questions about the recycling event, the public may call Administrative Specialist Cherie Ludwig in the Recycling and Solid Waste Division at 503-618-2518.
City of Gresham helps homeless students get a Second Home
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham is partnering with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the Gresham-Barlow School District to give homeless teens a second chance - and an open door - to earn a high school diploma.
The City has brought to Gresham a nonprofit program called Second Home, which helps high school students without a home, or involved parents, find temporary, stable housing with volunteer home providers.
Tera Cleland, who oversees East Metro Mediation, a City program, championed Second Home and led efforts to bring it to Gresham. Beaverton is the only other Oregon city to feature this service for homeless teens; Lincoln County plans to launch a Second Home program before the end of the school year.
"These are good kids in a tough situation, whatever it may be, but they want to finish school," Cleland said. "This collaboration is key because we can help them achieve their goal - and help raise awareness and action around youth homelessness."
The Gresham-Barlow School District has a total of 287 students, so far, who are eligible for federal unstable housing resource assistance for the 2014-2015 school year. Of the 287 students, 59 are identified as unaccompanied homeless youth.
In Beaverton, during the 2013-2014 school year, Second Home served 12 students, providing them with 70 months of housing and 6,000 meals. That year, six seniors graduated, another earned his GED and others are still in school - a 92% success rate. Since the program began in Beaverton in 2010, it has provided housing for 32 students.
"We're excited to see the program expand into Gresham with such community support," said Jennifer Pratt, Second Home project manager.
Gresham is now recruiting volunteer home providers.
Providers must be 18 or older and able to provide a bed and meals. Everyone - including the high school student - must pass a background check. Together, providers and students work with mediators to draw up a contract aimed at forging a successful relationship.
Gresham-Barlow School District Federal Programs Director April Olson said the program makes educational sense. "When a student has their basic needs met, and someone who supports them," Olson said, "it can make all the difference."
To learn more about becoming a Gresham home provider, contact Cleland at 503-618-2684 or Tera.Cleland@GreshamOregon.gov
Industrial development in Gresham is booming - 04/07/15
GRESHAM, Ore. - Nearly $17 million in new industrial development projects are in the works in Gresham - construction that is bringing new businesses to the city and allowing existing businesses to expand. In total, the development will create about 70 jobs.
Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis provided details of this progress today at a Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. At the Chamber event, Bemis discussed the City's economic development efforts and the City Council's focus in recent years on job creation and business attraction and retention.
"The Council and I share the view that the City of Gresham should be a resource and a good partner to business," Bemis said. "We want to bring your business to Gresham, get you what you need, and then get out of your way."
Signs of this commitment stand at 181st Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, and at Northeast Riverside Parkway at the Southshore Corporate Center. In December, two new industrial properties were completed on these sites. These so-called "spec buildings" are empty shells containing 423,000 square feet of flexible space. Companies that lease part of these buildings can build out the space according to their own specifications.
Two additional spec buildings, to be built at 181st Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, are currently in the land-use review process. They will provide an additional 200,000 square feet of industrial space, along with space for traded sector companies with the potential to create more high-wage jobs in the community.
In addition, several industrial expansions and renovations are planned:
* Teeny Foods, the wholesale baking company, is planning a $12.7 million expansion that more than doubles its production space on Northeast 170th Place from 47,000 to 127,000 square feet. Construction is currently underway and is expected to be complete in fall 2015. On March 17, the City Council approved a three-year tax abatement for Teeny Foods for this project.
* Shamrock Foods - the seventh-largest food distributor in the United States - is making $1.2 million in improvements to the former Charlie's Produce building on San Rafael Street and will locate a food distribution operation there. The distribution center will be Shamrock's first site in Oregon, allowing the company to serve new clients in the Pacific Northwest.
* Grocery Outlet is leasing 185,000 square feet of the Cascade Distribution Center at Sandy Boulevard and 202nd Avenue, and will make $1.4 million in improvements. On March 3, the Gresham City Council approved a five-year Enterprise Zone tax abatement for Grocery Outlet for this project.
* SEKO, the global logistics company, is building a 20,000-square-foot industrial space on Sandy Boulevard, a $1.5 million project expected to be complete in 2015.
Shannon Stadey, director of Economic Development Services for the City, said these relocations and expansions are a sign of the region's recent increased real estate activity and business growth, and also serve as confirmation that Gresham is getting economic development right for the traded sector.
In 2013, Gresham launched a mobile app designed to help industrial site selectors find space. In 2014, Gresham became the first city in Oregon to guarantee turn-around time for industrial development review and approval. For 2015, Gresham is considering new incentives for manufacturers and other traded sector companies.
"Our companies are doing well and staying put, and new companies are coming in," Stadey said. "That says, to me, that Gresham is a good place to do business."
City of Gresham offers help for first-time homebuyers
GRESHAM, Ore. - The City of Gresham today launches WELCOME HOME, its new homebuyer assistance program, to help some qualified residents get their first home.
The program provides no-interest loans to individuals or families who:
* Live in Gresham and buy a home in Gresham.
* Make 80 percent or less of federal annual median income, or $55,000 or less for a family of four.
* Qualify for a primary mortgage from an Oregon licensed lender.
* Are first-time homebuyers, or have not owned a home in the past three years.
* Live in the home as their primary residence.
Qualifying residents receive no-interest loans ranging from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on financial need. If they remain in their home for 15 years, the loan balance is forgiven.
"City leaders recognize that many families continue to struggle financially to get - or keep - their homes and have made helping homebuyers a priority," Gresham Community Development Director Eric Schmidt said. "So we created WELCOME HOME from scratch and are ready to accept applications."
Starting April 1, 2015, the City will fund approximately eight to 10 loans through WELCOME HOME. Funding for another five to seven loans has been proposed for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
WELCOME HOME is a partnership with the Portland Housing Center, which serves as the underwriter and provides homebuyer education required by the federal government. Loans are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For more information or to apply, contact Heidi Martin, Portland Housing Center, at 503-797-4020 Heidim@PortlandHousingCenter.org
It's time to play at Nadaka Nature Park (Photo)
Friends of Nadaka leader Lee Dayfield
GRESHAM, Ore. - Nadaka Nature Park will host a grand opening on Saturday, April 4, to celebrate completion of the park and community garden as well as the unusual and uplifting partnerships that brought down the barbed wire around an urban forest and reclaimed it - and improved it - for the public.
The community is invited to celebrate from 10 a.m. to noon at Nadaka, a City of Gresham park located at Northeast 175th Avenue and Northeast Glisan Street in the City's Wilkes East neighborhood. The new nature-based play area and community garden will be open for the first time, tempting kids of all ages to climb, ride, build and jump on boulders, totem poles, a log cabin and a life-sized canoe carved from local cedar. A sand pit, 50-plot community garden and covered picnic area are also part of the park renovation, which was designed by MIG, a Portland design and planning firm.
The celebration is public - because the park is. About 75 percent of the funds used to create Nadaka came from bond measures to support parks that were passed by voters in Gresham and across the region in 1990, 1995 and 2006.
At the grand opening, Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis will speak, along with Friends of Nadaka Leader Lee Dayfield; Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick; Audubon Society of Portland Urban Conservationist Jim Labbe; Columbia Slough Watershed Council Executive Director Jane Van Dyke; and East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District Executive Director Jay Udelhoven.
Raptors from the Audubon Society will be on hand, along with nature educators from Audubon and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council's Slough School. Experts from the Oregon Natural Play Initiative, or ONPlay, will demonstrate the possibilities for fun that nature-based play areas provide. Children can sow spring seeds in the park, families can sign up for garden plots, and everyone can enjoy free refreshments. After the celebration, the community is invited to stay and play all day.
"We made it to this day because of the magic of the park," Dayfield said. "You walk out of the city into the forest, and it's green and quiet and shady. Nadaka really is an oasis. People respond to that peacefulness - and spread the spirit."
Nadaka is a 12-acre park located in a dense, diverse neighborhood in northwest Gresham, and is a half-mile walk for about 4,500 people, many of them children. Nadaka is home to owls and more than a dozen other species of birds, along with salamanders, possums and frogs.
Nadaka is short for "nature day kamp" - a name given to the property by Camp Fire, which ran a summer program for girls on the property from 1956 to 1995. In 1995, Camp Fire sold its 10 acres to the City, which used $500,000 from the 1990 Gresham Open Space Bond to pay for the property. After years of being closed to the public, the City in 2001 opened the north gate and built a quarter-mile loop trail through the firs.
Dayfield got involved in 2008, forming the community group Friends of Nadaka.
Dayfield marshalled the assistance of hundreds of individuals and organizations to help refurbish the site by clearing weeds and debris, planting and installing trash cans and signs. In 2009, Friends of Nadaka raised enough money from Metro through its Regional Natural Area Bond Measure, the East Multnomah Soil and Conservation District and the T.A. Nelson Estate to purchase two acres on the south side of the property from the Nelson family.
The purchase opened the park to busy Glisan Street and the Rockwood neighborhood, increasing public access by 50 percent. This two-acre parcel now holds the nature-based play area and community garden, which was largely paid for with a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Meyer Memorial Trust provided grants to support park planning, as well as partial funding for a new full-time park coordinator.
In 2011, 17 community organizations and local governments, including the City, signed the Nadaka Nature Park and Garden Project Declaration of Cooperation. This unique agreement set out the vision for the new construction and a plan to jointly manage and operate the park for five years.
"The community created this park, with support from the public, private and non-profit sectors, and that cooperation is a testament to the passion and persistence of Lee Dayfield and the people of Gresham," Mayor Shane Bemis said. "Bringing nature and play to our children and families is a major priority for Gresham this year, so this celebration is as welcome as spring."