Linn County Board of Commissioners Receive Annual COG Report

New COG Economic Development Director Jaclyn Disney and COG Executive Director Ryan Vogt speak to the Board of Commissioners. Photo by Alex Paul

The Meals on Wheels program sponsored by the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG) provided more than 158,000 meals (146,559 home delivered and 11,518 in-person dining) to Linn County residents in 2023, Executive Director Ryan Vogt noted in the organization’s hot-off-the press annual report delivered to the Linn County Board of Commissioners on April 2.

Meals are served at the Albany, Lebanon and Sweet Home community centers, the Mill City First Presbyterian Church and the Brownsville Christian Church. OCWCOG also provided 3,861 shelf-stable food boxes and held 11 Medicare 101 information seminars.

Some 16 foster grandparents contributed 12,519 volunteer hours to youth in schools, libraries and after-school programs. There were 10 senior companion volunteers who provided almost 4,000 volunteer hours helping seniors with transportation to run errands, shop for groceries etc. The Cascades West Ride Line provided 80,394 trips totaling 1,424,907 miles for non-emergent medical transportation. Working with 29 adult foster homes, OCWCOG provided up to 145 residents with safe housing and assisted 2,191 Linn County residents through the Aging and Disability Resource Connection.

OCWCOG received $1 million in Brownfields Grant Funding to clean up three contaminated properties, three of which are located in Linn County. The Cascades West Business Lending program provided area businesses with $1.2 million in loans. Vogt said four loans were made in 2023 and it appears there will be even more applicants in 2024.

Vogt introduced new economic development director Jaclyn Disney, who comes to the mid-valley with many years of management and economic development experience from the Redding, Calif., area. She has a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University, Chico.

In other business, the commissioners:

◆ Approved a $13.1 million supplemental budget request by Treasurer Michelle Hawkins. The funds will be moved from Contingency into Materials and Services. A portion of the funding, more than $10 million, was already used to purchase the Wheelhouse Building and another $2.6 million is being set aside to be used to purchase a building behind Samaritan Albany General Hospital. The county is in the due diligence phase of that potential purchase. The funds come from the federal government and were set aside for these purposes during last year’s budget hearings process in anticipation of such purchases.

◆ Were informed by Veterans Services Director Dee Baley-Hyder that her staff helped local veterans recover more than $493,000 in benefits owed them from Jan. 1 to March 20 and more than $1.5 million from July 1, 2023 until March 20, 2024. She also told the board about the April 25 Honor Flight taking veterans to Washington, D.C. that will start with a program on the north steps of the courthouse on April 25.

◆ Approved accepting a $77,780 grant from the Oregon Department of Energy to be used to purchase electric-powered vehicles for the General Services Department.

◆ Appointed Josh Barbour and reappointed Darrin Lane and JoAnn McQueary to the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board.

◆ Approved a temporary part-time employment contract with Communications Dispatcher Brittany Kleivan, who resigned from a full-time position effective March 31. With her contract, the Sheriff’s Office will still have five open dispatch positions.

◆ Agreed to sponsor the First-Time Youth Wage program for the 17th year. Linn County allocates money from the Oregon Video Lottery program earmarked for economic development to subsidize wages paid by local employers who hire young employees. Traditionally the county has provided $2 per hour and total outlay according to Treasurer Michell Hawkins is between $30,000 and $40,000 annually. The commissioners agreed to up the subsidy to $3 this year. Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger said she would like to see some form of measurable objectives and outcomes and to ask employers if the subsidy actually makes a difference in whether they would hire young people.