News & Information from the City of Albany, Oregon

Residents can help conquer tall grass and weeds


Our wet spring weather has provided perfect growing conditions for grass and weeds throughout Albany. Unfortunately, Albany residents can't rely on the City to do anything about overgrown private properties.


City staff who have handled grass and weed complaints in prior years are also responsible for keeping track of vacant houses and other buildings and making sure they are secure. The increase in vacant homes due to the foreclosure crisis combined with a limited City budget leaves staff unable to investigate complaints of overgrown lawns, weeds, and blackberries on private, occupied property.


But staff can take action when offending vegetation is on City-owned property or in clear vision areas that must be maintained at each access to a public street (such as driveways) and at any property corners next to street or railroad intersections. (Albany Development Code 12.180)


Residents can help out, too. If there is a yard nearby that hasn't been mowed for weeks, reach out. A neighbor who is unable to mow the yard on his or her own might appreciate some help. A little investment of time and caring can pay off in making the entire neighborhood better!


If you know of a vacant property that is not being maintained, call 541-704-2321 or e-mail mary.gaeta@cityofalbany.net.


About 40 volunteers of all ages helped clean up the west Broadway neighborhood and along Albany rivers and paths as part of The Big Pickup:  Albany Community Action Day on Saturday, May 17, 2014.  Public Works employees Bret Johnson and Ron Humphries and Ward II City Councilor Ray Kopczynski worked filling Dumpsters at West Albany High School, while BetaSeed employees, their families, and others spruced up the historic Masonic Cemetery at Seventh Avenue and Broadway Street.  The 2015 Big Pickup is scheduled for the third Saturday in May.  Will your neighborhood be next?

June art at City Hall is Purely Pastels


Drawings in pastels will be displayed at Albany City Hall during the month of June 2014.


The works of artists Gladys Bacon, Joy Descoteaux, Germaine Hammon, Anna Horrigan, Kate McGee, and Marianne Post complement each other. The exhibit represents the broad spectrum of pastel effects and techniques from the lively strokes of impressionism to the abstract layering of bold color blocks to the gentle blending and shading of near photographic realism. 


Albany City Hall hosts art from around the mid-valley and the Northwest in exhibits that change every month, year-round. Art work in a variety of media is displayed on both floors of the building and is available for viewing weekdays during business hours and a few evenings each month when public meetings are held.


For information about the exhibits and the Arts Commission, contact Commissioner Billie Moore, 541-928-6182, or Debbie Little, 541-917-7778, or debbie.little@cityofalbany.net.


Firefighters Tim Verdun and Aaron Huyck fit a Safety camper with a life vest during a water safety session.
Safety Camp returns  
June 23 and July 28


Albany students entering fourth, fifth, and sixth grades this fall can register now for the 2014 Summer Safety Camps, held at South Albany High School.


Camp lasts for four days, and two sessions are scheduled for 2014: June 23-26 and July 28-31. This year, campers will learn about animal safety, electrical safety, camping safety, calling 9-1-1, and yoga. Each session includes a field trip to the Kroc Center in Salem, and daily swimming at the Albany Community Pool.


Cost is $35 and includes daily snacks and lunches. Scholarships are available. Registration is at the Boys & Girls Club of Albany, 1215 Hill Street SE.


Safety Camp is cosponsored by the City of Albany Fire, Police, and Parks & Recreation Departments; Greater Albany Public Schools; and the Boys & Girls Club of Albany.

Albany 150: Main Street?


By Cathy Ingalls, Albany Regional Museum volunteer


Why two Albany families - the Hacklemans and the Burkharts - chose the name Main Street for a road more than ten blocks east of the city center probably will never be known, several historians say. 


Naming the street, however, can be traced to a feud the Hacklemans and Burkharts had with the other early arriving Monteith family. The already brewing animosity with the Monteiths intensified with the American Civil War.


The Monteiths and their supporters wanted the city to develop just south and east of the confluence of the Calapooia and Willamette Rivers. But the Hacklemans and Burkharts preferred a location farther to the east, where many of them lived.  As a result, the Monteiths and their friends picked First Avenue for their main street in the downtown, and the other two families selected Main Street to the east.


Many Democrats and Southern sympathizers lived in the Main Street area, while Whigs, and later Republicans, tended to congregate in what is now the downtown.  Those in the eastern half of the city even opened a school they called Dixie.


Starting about 1850, residents to the east began calling their part of town New Albany, later changing the name to Takenah, which some say is a Kalapuya word for where rivers come together or "hole in the ground."


In 1854, the east-siders persuaded the state Legislature to name the entire town Takenah; but two years later, the Monteiths got the name changed back to Albany.


Albany historian Jerry Brenneman has said he believes the rift between the two factions de-escalated after the Civil War as both sides combined efforts to entice the railroad to lay tracks to Albany, which all agreed would benefit everyone.  


Main Street, he said, thrived until after World War II, when people began moving to the outlying parts of Albany.


Brenneman recalls that the Main Street of the 1940s boasted a drug store with a soda fountain, two grocery stores, a cleaners, a gas station and motel, a car dealership, a wrecking yard, a large cannery, and the Linger Longer Tavern, which is still open.


He also remembers that a large house that belonged to the pastor of the Lutheran church sat where the 7-Eleven is now, and Whitaker Paint & Wallpaper started out as a hardware and paint store. 


The most imposing building still on the road is Grace Presbyterian Church, which was built on a 5,250-square-foot lot in 1892 at 401 Main Street S.E. The early pastors were affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, whose leaders often had a less formal education than their counterparts. 


Many of the church members in Albany were from the South, but there were serious divisions in the church during the Civil War. As the Albany church membership increased, the building was separated, and a new section was built at right angles in the middle.


The church continued as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church until the Great Depression, when many members transferred to a Presbyterian Church downtown.


In 2000, the City of Albany bought the Main Street church site and a few nearby parcels for $150,000 anticipating the major street reconstruction project that is now underway.


The church on Main and Whitespires on Fifth Avenue, built in 1891, are the two oldest church buildings in Albany. 


More information about the history of early Albany can be discovered at the Albany Regional Museum, 136 Lyon Street S.

Willamette River Relay and Paddle Me Plunge coming to Albany August 8-9


The Calapooia Watershed Council will present the inaugural Willamette River Relay, a paddling/bicycling/running race, and Paddle Me Plunge in Albany August 8 and 9, 2014, to raise awareness and funding for river restoration efforts in the Willamette Basin, attract visitors to historic Downtown Albany, and highlight outdoor recreation opportunities in the mid-Willamette Valley.


The City of Albany and The Nature Conservancy are partners in the events.


Event festivities kick off Friday, August 8, at 4:00 p.m. with race participant packet pickup, free live music, and a screening of Willamette Futures in Monteith Riverpark. Willamette Futures is a feature film from Corvallis-based Freshwaters Illustrated about the challenge of restoring the ecological value of Oregon's big river, the people who are rising to that challenge, and the growing community conversation about the future Oregonians want for the Willamette River and its tributaries.


The Willamette River Relay begins at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 9, with a 2.4-mile paddle from Hyak County Park to Bryant Park, an out-and-back 15.2-mile bicycle ride from Bryant Park following the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, and a 6.2-mile run from Bryant Park along the Dave Clark Path, finishing at Monteith Riverpark. Following the race, participants will be greeted by a festival with live music, a Calapooia Brewing Company beer garden, and displays from groups engaged in river restoration throughout the Willamette Valley.


After the relay, participants can join Calapooia Brewing Company's Paddle Me Plunge, a fun float from Hyak Park to Bryant Park, with an after-party at Calapooia Brewing Company featuring live music from Orquesta Montecalvo and Just People. Plunge participants will be eligible for prizes for best costume, best floatation device, and most innovative paddle, as judged by a panel of local celebrities.


The Nature Conservancy and Calapooia Watershed Council are working up and down the Willamette River to improve wildlife habitat and water quality, provide place-based youth watershed education programming, and engage residents in the value of local rivers and all that makes the Willamette Valley a great place to play, work, and live.


Proceeds from the Relay and Plunge will benefit the Calapooia Watershed Council and efforts to improve the health of local rivers for people and fish alike.


For information on event registration, volunteer opportunities, and sponsorship, visit www.riverrelay.com or contact Kyle Smith of the Calapooia Watershed Council at 541-466-3493 or ksmith@calapooia.org.

River Rhythms opens with fireworks on the Third of July


The 2014 River Rhythms concert series opens Thursday, July 3, at Monteith Riverpark in Downtown Albany. Soul and blues artists John Nemeth and the Bo-Keys featuring Percy Wiggins open the series' 31st year. A community fireworks show will follow the concert in celebration of Independence Day.


Music begins at 7:00 p.m. The fireworks show is expected to begin about 10:00 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.


Bryant Park will be closed to the public until 10:00 a.m. July 3 to allow setup for the fireworks show. Fireworks fans can park at Bryant beginning at 10:00 a.m. for $5.00 per vehicle.


The lower (north) Bryant shelter area will be used as the fallout zone for the fireworks and will be closed all day.


The community fireworks are made possible entirely by donations from Albany-area businesses. The show is presented by Lassen Toyota, Northwest Toyota Dealers, Toyota Let's Go Places.


For more information on this year's River Rhythms concerts, go to riverrhythms.org.
Clean Energy Works protects the indoor environment 


When considering home energy efficiency, air quality is often not a part of the conversation. But radon, mold, moisture, and particulates entering a home from leaky ducts and poorly insulated crawlspaces can add up to very unhealthy indoor air.


Environmental Protection Agency studies have found that pollutant levels inside homes can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Studies have also found that six out of ten homes are hazardous to occupants' health. Living in a home with chronically poor air quality can cause frequent headaches, long-lasting colds, bronchitis, and chronic asthma. To make matters worse, people who are most vulnerable to poor indoor air are inside the most: children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses. The best way to protect your family is to fix common problems, which can dramatically improve the health and safety, energy efficiency, and personal comfort.


Clean Energy Works provides home performance assessments, instant rebates, and no-money-down financing as part of its services. The best way to begin is to contact Clean Energy Works to find out if your home is eligible for a free home performance assessment. Get started today.


Previous issues of City Bridges are available at:
General Information: 541-917-7500
Mayor Sharon Konopa: 541-791-0300
City Manager
Wes Hare:  
Ward I Councilors:
Dick Olsen,

Floyd Collins,

Ward II Councilors:
Bill Coburn,

Ray Kopczynski,

Ward III Councilors:
Bessie Johnson,

Rich Kellum,

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City of Albany, Oregon