Listening Tour lands in Leaburg


December 21, 2023 | View PDF

As part of her campaign promise to visit every county in the state, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek stopped in at McKenzie Fire & Rescue’s Leaburg Station last Thursday. Kotek said she was focused on listening from community to talk about their hopes, challenges, and what issues are unique to each area.

Offering insights as athe owner of Meyer’s General Store in Blue River, Melanie Brite said that she and others have talked alot over the last 3 years about the lack of recovery resources for small businesses. “I brought it up to the Governor specifically during the meeting. She then said in her wrap up press conference that making sure small businesses were able to recover was going to be a focus.”

For McKenzie School District Lane Tompkins, the meeting was an opportunity to provide some practical feedback on how Oregon’s educators have been dealing with the challenges left behind in the wake of a wildfire.

“I was pleased to hear that our concerns regarding extending wildfire funding beyond our the 2024-2025 school year for fire affected schools was already on her radar,” Tompkins says. “Overall, she took the time to listen to our concerns and celebrations. She asked really great questions which left me feeling like she is making fire recovery a top priority for her administration moving forward.”

Issues like limitations on funding and the ability to rebuild houses that people can afford were some points Brandi Crawford Ferguson, Interim Executive, Director of the McKenzie Community Land Trust said she felt were important to share. Part of her discussions included concerns about what could happen when even middle income come face-to-face with replacing homes at from 25 to 50 percent more than expected.

“I am cautiously optimistic,” Brite felt after the hour and a half meeting. “I really felt like she heard the concerns and is going to address the issues she can and hopefully be able to help us come up with some solutions that will help both the businesses destroyed in 2020 and all other businesses faced with similar circumstances in future disasters in our state.”

For her part, Kotek promised this was the only fact finding tour she has in mind. “I’ll be back, and I have dedicated staff in every region of the state who are working to support you through our Regional Solutions team,” she said. “We’re here to help you in your most urgent needs and I look forward to seeing more of you in the coming years.”


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