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January 19, 2017

Alan Meyer, Pacific Power Regional Business Manager

Making hay when the sun doesn't shine

By Alan Meyer
Regional Business Manager

This coming August, Stayton, Oregon will be one of the darkest places in the entire nation. The reason is simple luck of the draw in geography. Our historic community in the scenic Santiam Valley east of Salem, will be one of the few towns that will experience a total solar eclipse set for Aug. 21.

The Big Eclipse from Fallfest Chalk Art Festival

It may be a little odd to celebrate that, but folks in Stayton know how to make hay while the sun shines. Or in this case, when it doesn’t.

More about the party in the dark later. One of the groups that will be helping Stayton welcome what is expected to be thousands of cosmic visitors is The Friends of Old Town Stayton (FOTS). I am proud to chair this group of community members, business owners and city staff that are dedicated to revitalizing Third Avenue. We got started as a result of Stayton residents attending an Oregon Main Street Conference in 2015 and seeing the tremendous benefits that this program has brought to other communities in Oregon and realizing what it could do for Stayton.

I grew up in the small town of Washington, Missouri, which is one of the best success stories of the Main Street approach. Like many small cities Washington’s downtown area slowly died until it pretty much became a ghost town. We know that story is far too common here in Oregon as well where Main Street has helped many towns from Astoria to Baker City. Every one of us who are part of FOTS have similar stories and we are passionate about bringing Stayton’s downtown back to life again. Stayton’s downtown already has a lot to offer, we just need to do a better job of getting the word out and that’s one of our goals as well.

That vision involves fundraising and grant writing and all that. But it is driven by small local acts that make an immediate difference, like cleaning awnings, which we did before Summerfest last year.

Alan Meyer hands out candy at FOTS downtown Halloween event Alan Meyer hands out candy at FOTS downtown Halloween event

We had a great response when calling owners and tenants to get the ball rolling. In fact two building owners did more than just say OK. They washed their own awnings (and sidewalks in one instance) which left only three large awnings to do. While working on this project, several people on the street (and other business owners) stopped by to express their appreciation and support.

I especially appreciate the response of Caren from Stayton ACE Hardware and Equipment Rental. She graciously approved free use of their genie lift for the day. Thanks also to Mark in the rental shop who helped me understand how to use it. Finally, a special thanks to Lance and Bob at Stayton Public Works, who graciously provided safety cones, an extra length of hose, and access to water on 3rd. This great community spirit and collaboration will continue to move us forward!

We have some big things planned for 2017 including a first class empty buildings tour in the spring, which will include both a history lesson and a unique offer at each location. The idea, of course, is to spark ideas for people to use the buildings so they won’t be empty next year.

But what about that eclipse? Stayton is right on the center line of the path of totality for the 2017 Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21 and is noted as one of the best locations in the United States to observe the eclipse. FOTS is currently planning a Howl at the Moon event with entertainment including live music on Friday, Aug. 18 and is working with other organizations to fill the weekend with fun and entertainment for both residents and the many visitors Stayton will be accommodating for the eclipse.

It will be a great celebration and sure to bring a bright spotlight on downtown Stayton’s revitalization.

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