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News Releases
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,

Gresham upgrades to silver status as a Bicycle Friendly Community - 11/20/14
GRESHAM, Ore. - The League of American Bicyclists has raised Gresham's status as a Bicycle Friendly Community to a silver level designation.

In 2009, the City received its first bronze level designation from the League, a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes biking across the U.S. More than 700 communities have applied for Bicycle Friendly status since the program began in 2002, but only 326 communities have earned it. Independent panels judge applicants on the "five E's" - engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning - necessary to promote safe, fun biking.

Gresham was elevated to silver status this week by the League due to several factors, including new buffered bike lanes, improved bike lane road markings, and stronger education outreach. Gresham has also forged important new partnerships with groups such as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

Chris Strong, Gresham's transportation division manager, said the award upgrade is evidence of the sustained, strategic attention his staff is paying to cycling.

With 10 miles of trails and more than 117 miles of bike lanes, Gresham is a haven for cycling enthusiasts. The City has created a bike map with local cyclists, hosts an annual Transportation Safety Fair and Bike Rodeo, and recently launched a Safe Routes to School program to promote biking and walking among schoolchildren.

"Gresham has the gift of natural beauty and lots of trails, and we're proud of the amenities we offer to cyclists," Strong said. "Because the League award goes all the way up to diamond status, we have higher targets to aim for. We will continue to reduce traffic congestion, boost safety, and encourage bicycle use for all Gresham residents."

Gresham's Eric Schmidt named Oregon Building Official of the Year (Photo) - 11/18/14
GRESHAM, OR - Eric Schmidt, the building official and community development director for the City of Gresham, is this year's winner of the Building Official of the Year award given by the Oregon Building Officials Association.

The award is the highest honor given by the association, which supports Oregon's building officials, who protect public safety by enforcing state and municipal building codes, issuing construction permits, and conducting commercial and residential inspections.

The Gresham City Council recognized the award today with a brief presentation by Melanie Adams, building director for the City of Hillsboro and past president of the Oregon Building Officials Association.

Schmidt's strong and steady leadership earned him the 2014 top award, according to Terry Whitehill, vice president of the Oregon Building Officials Association and plan review section manager for Portland's Bureau of Development Services. Whitehill said Schmidt, co-chair of the association's legislative committee, was particularly effective representing the association before the Oregon Legislature this spring and helping the association hire a new management company.

"Eric steps up to any challenge that gets thrown at him," Whitehill said. "He is creative, a skilled listener, and always gets to a good solution."

A member of Gresham's senior leadership team, Schmidt has worked for the City since 1998. He oversees a diverse portfolio, including the Building Department, the Permit Services Center, Neighborhood Enforcement, Rental Housing Inspections, Community Revitalization and the Small Business Center. A long-time private sector engineer, Schmidt played a leading role in Gresham's successful Garage-to-Storefront small business incentive program and its award-winning rental housing inspection program.

Attached Media Files: IMG_2650.JPG
Santa will make a special appearance to greet the crowd, take photos, and assist Mayor Bemis in leading the countdown to the tree lighting. Free hot cocoa, cider, candy canes and popcorn will be served.
Santa will make a special appearance to greet the crowd, take photos, and assist Mayor Bemis in leading the countdown to the tree lighting. Free hot cocoa, cider, candy canes and popcorn will be served.
Light up the holiday season at Gresham's Spirit of Christmas: Annual tree lighting returns to downtown Arts Plaza on Nov. 29 (Photo) - 11/17/14
GRESHAM, Ore. - Santa Claus is headed to historic downtown Gresham, and will light up the City's 60-foot ponderosa pine during the 23rd annual Spirit of Christmas tree lighting event on Saturday, Nov. 29. The free festivities start at 5 p.m. with music and treats on the Arts Plaza, located at 401 N.E. Second St. The tree is lit promptly at 6 p.m.

"The Spirit of Christmas is one of my favorite family events in Gresham," Mayor Shane Bemis said. "I invite everyone to bundle up, bring the kids and join us as we light Gresham's Christmas tree and kick off the holiday season."

The program includes live music performances by groups that include the Salvation Army Gresham Corps Youth Band and Gresham Arthur Academy public charter school. Santa will make a special appearance to greet the crowd, take photos, and assist Mayor Bemis in leading the countdown to the tree lighting. Free hot cocoa, cider, candy canes and popcorn will be served.

Spreading some warmth this season, the City's Youth Advisory Committee will collect donations of new and gently-used blankets, coats and socks for SnowCap Community Charities, which provides food, clothing, advocacy and other services to local needy families.

This annual event is made possible by local businesses, including Gold Sponsor Riverview Community Bank. Hot drinks are provided by Silver Sponsor Servpro of Gresham, plus an evening of fun thanks to Silver Sponsors U.S. World Class Taekwondo, Gresham Ford, Schedeen's and MetroEast Community Media.

The Spirit of Christmas also features downtown activities before and after the tree lighting, which are hosted by local businesses with support from the Historic Downtown Gresham Business Association:

10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Photos with Santa, crafts at the Gresham History Museum
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Refreshments at US Bank
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Gingerbread decorating for children at iCandy
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Biodegradable bird feeder building at Kohler Meyers O'Halloran
3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. - Phone calls to the North Pole at Café Delirium
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. - Holiday music at Café Delirium
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. - Christmas jazz with the Tim Paxton Quartet at the Hoppy Brewer

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