New details posted at 1:30 p.m. March 23
The Chronicle has reached out for insight from St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl following Gov. Tina Kotek's visit to St. Helens March 22. The following is our conversation with the Mayor.
The Chronicle: What specifically did you and the Governor discuss and why whose topics?
Rick Scholl: I thanked the Governor for her work to support our community. We discussed our 2019 Housing Needs Analysis results and the infrastructure projects that we have identified that are needed to support housing. St. Helens is growing. We have available, buildable land, but we need state partnerships to build sufficient infrastructure to support growth.
We also discussed the St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Project and economic development, including the Streets and Utilities Extension Project, Riverwalk Project, Central Waterfront, and activation of the St. Helens Industrial Business Park. Waterfront redevelopment is a key focus of the City to support future economic growth, provide cohesive connection between city districts, improve the environment, and create overall sustainability for St. Helens.
The Chronicle: Following your meeting with Tina Kotek, do you believe the Governor has a better understanding of the needs of our community and how she might be able to help?
Scholl: Yes, we had an open and honest conversation with the Governor about our needs as a community. The Governor’s recommended budget is in line with our community’s priorities.
The Chronicle: What do you believe the Governor's visit to St. Helens and to Columbia County means to our residents and businesses?
Schoil: The Governor’s visit created a connection and better understanding of St. Helens and our county. We appreciate that she reached out to us to learn about St. Helens and listen to our needs apart from any political differences.
Previous coverage post at 5 a.m. March 23
It is called, One Oregon Listening Tour, and Gov.Tina Kotek brought the third stop of her tour to Columbia County Wednesday, March 22.
Kotek participated in three community conversations on the topics of education, mental health and recovery, and housing and homelessness.
“I heard from some of our youngest Oregonians who care about each other and their future,” Kotek said. “It puts a fine point on the need to invest in our children’s education so they have the chance to thrive. I was also impressed by the community service providers working hard to help their neighbors despite resource challenges and a large service area. They make up for those challenges through strong relationships across the community and their incredible ingenuity.”
The day started at Vernonia Elementary School where Governor Kotek met with first graders, read the picture book “Be Kind,” and discussed the importance of reading and kindness with the students. She also met with and took questions from a fourth-grade class about the work the governor does, ways she can help, and more.
Kotek then led a roundtable discussion with school administrators and teachers. The discussion centered on efforts she is making to fund summer education and enrichment programs, with a focus on improving childhood literacy, and the increased mental health challenges facing students.
In St. Helens, Kotek toured Columbia Community Mental Health (CCMH), including a crisis stabilization center being developed on the organization’s campus.
CCMH offers holistic wrap-around services from crisis intervention to residential and community services. In a subsequent behavioral health discussion, area providers noted the positive impact of the Measure 110 funding they received to expand service capacity, the successful work their outreach teams are doing, and the workforce challenges in a rural community.
Following the visit to CCMH, the Governor had lunch in St. Helens with Mayor Rick Scholl and discussed local economic development opportunities and the ongoing efforts the city is leading to update its historic downtown.
Kotek ended the day with the Community Action Team (CAT), a community organization that works to provide supportive services for veterans, help people pay rent, find permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness, and more. CAT has 16 housing units on site to support Oregonians transitioning out of unsheltered homelessness and has successfully supported 45 individuals to reach permanent housing.
The Governor heard about how CAT delivers services, followed by a roundtable discussion with regional service providers about the intersection between behavioral health and homelessness, social determinants of health, and the need to support veterans.
Kotek has said she will visit every county in Oregon within her first year in office through the “One Oregon Listening Tour” to foster trust and build strong partnerships across the state to get results for Oregonians, with a focus on housing and homelessness, mental health and recovery, and early learning and education.
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