Boy Scouts, Bunnies, and $18.5 Million

Several weeks ago, I wrote about a prospective trip to the Oregon Coast with a group of Scouts.  As the photos below document, the trip was a success; and I think everyone involved learned something and had a good time.


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Albany Scouts at Beachside State Park (only a teenager or a lunatic would swim in that water.)


I am also happy to report that all the bunnies mentioned in last week’s blog now have good homes with various members of my family and a couple of City employees.  The Gateway Fourth of July Parade was a great success, although we briefly lost my seven-year-old grandson who was riding his motorbike.  He didn’t realize the parade was over and he continued past the turnout to his great-grandparent’s ranch.  We found him before any serious damage to his psyche and after a few more years were carved off of my life.

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Roland before the Parade

This week, the Albany City Council will begin the process of allocating $18.5 million received as a settlement from Pepsico for failing to build a manufacturing plant in the city after signing a contract to do so.  Nearly all the ideas I have heard for use of this unique resource would be of benefit to the community.  I think the issue before the Council is a matter of determining what is best in the eyes of the majority, rather than trying to decide what is good.  Reducing debt, building needed facilities, economic development, and strengthening reserves are all good ideas.  Picking the best will be a difficult job, subject to extensive debate and criticism.  I do not know and find it hard to even speculate about what the final decisions will be, but I have great faith in the people elected to make these choices.  Albany will derive great benefits from the settlement; and, in my opinion, the only remaining question is what the benefits will be.

Celebrating the Fourth of July

I believe it’s reasonable to assume that I will be the only city manager in the United States taking along six bunnies as I travel to a Fourth of July celebration in Gateway, Oregon, today.  Traveling to Gateway is a little unusual because not very many people know where it is and even fewer find reasons to visit there.  Taking along bunnies is just odd, but there is an almost rational explanation.

Several months ago, two small domestic rabbits started visiting our yard on an almost daily basis.  They would hop onto our property and eat the luxuriant clover that has taken over my backyard.  My nearly three-year-old granddaughter was especially fond of these visits; so we encouraged the rabbits by giving them carrots and lettuce.  Jayden and one of the bunnies are pictured below.

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We believe the rabbit shown in the picture above came to a bad end awhile back (rabbit fur on sidewalk) but not before leaving a legacy of six little bunnies, courtesy of his partner, in our backyard.

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As the pictures show, the babies are cute, cuddly little creatures that immediately endear themselves to anyone who sees them.  Unfortunately, these qualities have not translated into a willingness to adopt.  We have, thus far, found homes for only two of the bunnies.  I try to separate my work and home lives and will deny any accusation of favoritism toward Jorge, our IT director, just because he showed the good judgment to let his daughter be the first to accept a Hare bunny.

This is not our first experience with rabbits.  Some years ago, my daughter participated in a church trip to Boise, Idaho, that involved stopping at a mall on the way home to La Grande.  She found a pet store in the mall that offered bunnies for sale with the qualification that any buyer under the age of 18 required parental permission to conclude the transaction.  A former friend our family posed as my daughter’s father to grant the necessary permission, and I ended up as the primary caregiver to a dwarf rabbit, appropriately named “Spud,” for the next nine years.

I learned from my experience with Spud that you can’t just leave a rabbit to fend for itself if you expect it to live very long.  Bunnies require the usual feeding and watering, plus cage cleaning and attention on a daily basis.  Hence, the reason why I’m taking five baby bunnies and one adult rabbit on vacation should be self-evident.  Our ulterior motive is that many of our extended family members, including a host of little children, will be present at the Gateway celebration and vulnerable to the wiles of our furry friends.  My hope is to return home with substantially fewer bunnies than the six I inherited.

Our family will also be participating in the annual Gateway Fourth of July Parade, which involves farm equipment, old cars, motorcycles, and anyone who wants to march along the half-mile parade route.  The parade is never really organized; it just sort of happens as people and vehicles show up.  Most of my family rides motocross bikes, while the young children are loaded into the back of an early 1940s vintage GMC pickup.  I’m told this will be the last year of the Gateway parade, and I will miss it.

The Fourth of July is more than parades and fireworks, or even bunnies.  The day is a chance to celebrate with our families the enduring ideals of our republic and how they have made possible the best of our lives today.  Our freedom to make choices, express ourselves, and pursue happiness is something worth celebrating with those we care about.  I just hope a few of them are interested in taking home a new pet.