City of Gresham
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News Releases
Gresham lights up the holidays with annual tree lighting event - 11/28/14

GRESHAM, Ore. - Media representatives can capture the "wow" when the City of Gresham lights its 60-foot ponderosa pine during the 23rd annual Spirit of Christmas tree lighting event on Saturday, Nov. 29. Festivities start at 5 p.m. with music and treats on the City's Arts Plaza. The tree is lit promptly at 6 p.m.

Santa Claus will climb into a fire truck at about 5:00 p.m. at the Gresham History Museum, located at 410 N. Main Ave. in historic downtown, and will be escorted by Gresham firefighters a few blocks to the Arts Plaza at approximately 5:15 p.m., when he'll be greeted by the crowd.

The Salvation Army Gresham Corps Youth Band will play holiday favorites, and elementary school students from Gresham Arthur Academy Public Charter School will sing carols. Santa will take photos with children, then take the stage to assist Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis in leading the countdown to the tree lighting.

The Spirit of Christmas also features photogenic family activities before and after the tree lighting in participating downtown businesses. For a complete schedule, see

DATE: Saturday, Nov. 29
TIME: 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.
PLACE: Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second St., Gresham
City of Gresham and Multnomah County partner to keep Rockwood rising - 11/25/14
GRESHAM, Ore. - Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury today announced their pursuit of federal Promise Zone status for Gresham's Rockwood neighborhood, and committed to work with the community to make continued progress on job creation, crime reduction, and better access to educational opportunities.

Communities that earn Promise Zone designations get federal tools to help them organize residents and raise critical funds to meet specific needs in their area. Promise Zone communities receive preference points on competitive grant applications for more than 35 key federal programs, a federal liaison to help navigate the system, and five AmeriCorps VISTA members to help organize volunteers.

Six new urban Promise Zones will be designated in early 2015. Designations last for 10 years. Applications were submitted Friday, Nov. 21 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Rockwood Promise Zone application is a top shared priority for the City of Gresham and Multnomah County, and has been enthusiastically endorsed by Mayor Shane Bemis, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and County Commissioner Diane McKeel. Since the federal announcement of the program was made in early October, city and county staff have worked with a broad spectrum of community organizations and leaders to craft a strong application. Twenty-four agencies and organizations are listed as initial implementation partners.

"Today we are celebrating the completion of a major joint effort that could pay great dividends to the Rockwood neighborhood, but more importantly, we are celebrating a new era of partnership between the City of Gresham and Multnomah County when it comes to improving lives and livability for our shared constituents," Mayor Shane Bemis said.

"This application shows how committed Gresham and Multnomah County, community partners, advocates and residents are to making a difference in the Rockwood neighborhood," Chair Deborah Kafoury said. "Receiving a Promise Zone designation will help us make progress on enhancing health, livability and safety in the neighborhood."

The Rockwood Promise Zone application has six goals: reduce crime, create jobs, support economic development, strengthen education, support health and wellness, and improve infrastructure.

Examples of specific activities referenced in the Promise Zone application include:

*offering comprehensive support for unemployed residents;
*enhancing prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies to reduce crime;
*supporting culturally relevant programs and policies to increase educational attainment;
*creating a multi-sector coalition to increase food access;
*supporting an innovative "systems navigator" model to connect families to needed services;
*convening partners to increase access to community gathering spaces and transportation; and
*supporting public-private developments that will bring jobs and housing to vacant lots.

The Rockwood neighborhood, on Gresham's northwestern edge, is the youngest, most diverse, and most economically challenged neighborhood in the Portland metropolitan region.
Rockwood is also on the rise, attracting major new public and private sector investments. The City of Gresham opened the Rockwood Public Safety Facility in November 2013, and the nonprofit Friends of the Children and Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland are currently building facilities in Rockwood. Nadaka Nature Park, a 12-acre site off Glisan Street with forested trails, community gardens and a natural play area, opens in spring 2015. The former Rockwood Community Office building on 187th Avenue is slated to reopen with a suite of new restaurants in summer 2015. The Gresham Redevelopment Commission is also planning a major redevelopment on five acres along Stark Street in the heart of Rockwood.

Media Advisory/City of Gresham and Multnomah County Partner for Promise - 11/24/14

GRESHAM, Ore. - Media representatives can learn more about a bid by the City of Gresham and Multnomah County to garner federal Promise Zone designation for the Rockwood neighborhood in Gresham at a media briefing and community kickoff on Tuesday, Nov. 25. This joint application represents a new era of partnership between the City of Gresham and Multnomah County.

Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury will discuss their joint application for Promise Zone designation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Promise Zones were created last year by the federal government to help create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime in high-poverty communities.

A press release and fact sheet will be available, and Mayor Bemis and Chair Kafoury will answer questions. They will also thank members of the Rockwood community, some of whom helped prepare the application, for their support and their work improving their community.

Date: Tuesday, Nov. 25
Time: 1:30 to 2 p.m.
Place: Rockwood Public Safety Facility, 675 NE 181st Ave., Gresham

Contact Information:
Wendy Lawton, Communications Manager, City of Gresham, 503-793-4167,
David Austin, Communications Director, Multnomah County, 503- 803-8616,