2015: Albany’s year of the smile? – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

2015: Albany’s year of the smile?

Written January 14th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa reads her annual message while City Attorney Jim Delapoer listens.

Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa reads her annual message while City Attorney Jim Delapoer listens.

Something to smile about — that’s what Mayor Sharon Konopa hopes the city council will be able to achieve often as it deals with issues in 2015. Konopa is starting her fourth consecutive term in the mayor’s office. At the first regular council meeting of the year on Wednesday, she projected her usually sunny outlook in her annual message. Without mentioning specifics, she believes Albany residents had much to smile about during the past year, and she hopes the council’s work in the coming year “will keep a smile on people’s faces.”

Indeed, the council found a few items to smile about during an otherwise uneventful session at City Hall.

Members got the word from City Attorney Jim Delapoer and Public Works Director Mark Shepard that Lowe’s is following through and will build its long-awaited home improvement center, as it promised in a new contract with the city. It intends to put in for a building permit next month, and it also plans to pay a street assessment of $700,000 as soon as the requisite ordinance is passed rather than in installments. The store use must be ready by Dec. 31 under the agreement with the city. That’s a year later than originally planned, but the store is one of only a few Lowe’s building projects that did not get canceled over the last few years.

Want more good news? The ISO rating agency has given Albany’s building inspection service its second-highest grade (2 on a scale of 1 to 10), which according to City Manager Wes Hare should benefit property owners with favorable insurance premiums.

Also on the upbeat side: The fire department is saving about half the cost of a new ambulance by having a contractor (Braun Northwest Inc.) refurbish and update the box of an old one and then put it on a new chassis, though the cost is still $127,268.

And as for actual smiles or even grins, there were a few of those in the mostly empty chamber when a woman telling the council about her troubles under “business from the public” mentioned the city attorney while pointing and looking accusingly — at me. (hh)

City Clerk Mary dibble swears in re-elected council members, from left, Bessie Johnson, Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen and Mayor Konopa.

City Clerk Mary dibble swears in re-elected council members, from left, Bessie Johnson, Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen and a smiling Mayor Sharon Konopa.

6 responses to “2015: Albany’s year of the smile?”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    A smiling council and mayor? Easy to do when most of your energy is focused on spending other people’s money. It’s easy to fool yourself into a smile when virtually all of the money comes from someone else.

    But what is ignored (a form of denial), is the pain and sacrifice that is caused. To spend, the council and mayor must first take. Such taking should never come with a smile.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    It comes out of our pockets too. If I believe it is in the overall best interests of all of the citizens of Albany, I have no qualms whatsoever in doing so – and with a smile.

  3. Jim Engel says:

    Smile you may Ray. It is my opinion that every one of those CARA projects would never pass muster if given a voting chance with the public. Haven’t heard a hammer yet at the proposed Novak’s. Still waiting on the other two restaurant locations one at Penny’s other at Riverhouse. There is a no standing room only problem at the one Promenade. To cram a few hundred welfare/workfare people into a city block only makes for a concentrated latter ghetto. When a select few hold the purse & only they can vote how it’s spent is pure old ‘ole boy politcs. JE

    • Hasso Hering says:

      It seems to me that some of us are too quick to criticize without thinking about, let alone running for office and proposing to carry out, workable alternatives. Woodland Square was a blot on the community and a sore in the neighborhood, and the council supported a housing development to take its place. Before complaining about results, maybe we should give the project a chance and see how it goes. The Wheelhouse, built mostly with private money, remains largely empty. But it is a handsome, taxpaying property, and without it, we would still have the abandoned and increasingly vandalized ruins of the old Buzz Saw restaurant. Yes, Novak’s move downtown has been stymied so far by causes unrelated to the city’s offer of financing help. So what would you have the city do — offer even more help? I appreciate more than anyone a vigorous criticism of government action. But how about letting it be fair and based on facts? (hh)

    • James Carrick says:

      I’m no big fan of CARA as most readers here already know, but IF there was ever a worthy project, I would vote for the Woodland Square project, now nearing completion. That place was a BLIGHT on my neighborhood. Most of the other CARA projects I don’t agree with but those arguments can be made individually for their unique reasons. I just don’t care for the concept of siphoning tax revenues from other, VITAL taxing districts, particularly where they involve the very reasons we have local government: Public Safety.

      I will assert again: If CARA were subject to a vote TODAY, now that the public is much more aware of the effects and mechanism of CARA and its funding, I do not think it would be approved. But that’s just my opinion.

      As to all the “smiles”…..I’d prefer seeing the smiles on the taxpayer’s faces. Let’s not forget the Mayor’s interest in a new gas tax she would NEVER have brought up if we had gas prices approaching $4.00 as we did not long ago. The “marijuana tax” was foolhardy also. Leopards don’t change their spots, and this bunch never saw a tax it didn’t like.

  4. Jim Clausen says:

    I can understand the lady’s confusion Hasso… all you bald guys look alike… ;)


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