The annual State of the City address by Banks Mayor Stephanie Jones was held Thursday, May 5 at Banks Fire District 13 headquarters. There, Jones acknowledged the volunteers and staff that make the city tick and highlighted some of the work that happened in the last 12 months in the second-smallest city entirely in Washington County.
Noting visiting dignitaries, including Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax, Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey, and U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Jones gave a roughly 12 minute speech.
The Banks Chamber of Commerce also aided in putting on the event.
Jones began by highlighting the city’s monthly newsletter, which is sent to the city’s water customers, emailed to interested parties, and distributed in paper form at city hall and the Banks Public Library.
“We’re trying to give quick updates on what our city government is doing, and also beg for volunteers very frequently,” Jones said.
The various volunteer boards and commissions that provide input to the city council and help run the library, parks system, and other agencies require around 4 dozen volunteers to keep all the positions full, no small feat in a town hovering around a total population of just under 2,000.
On top of that, other volunteer opportunities crop up throughout the year, such as a recent call for volunteers to help out at the Banks Public Library community garden on May 26.
Jones highlighted the city’s attempts to bring broadband internet to the city—and perhaps rural areas adjacent—and the city’s work in developing the city’s various master plans guiding the city’s work.
Jones also highlighted city council’s recent approval of funding for a non-regulation size basketball court at Greenville City Park.
The basketball court, which received $50,000 in funding during the March 8 city council meeting, is expected to be completed toward the end of June, Jones said.
Jones also said that growth is in the city’s future, and noted that the city’s current tax base can’t keep up with inflation. Jones cited that as the reason why the city worked to update the development code, which includes planning and zoning maps.
Council also passed a resolution ending the city’s development moratorium, but put into place a requirement that developments with more than three homes find their own water source.
The lessening of the city’s water woes is thanks to the replacement of the city’s main water transmission line.
“The sixty year old transmission line is gone,” Jones said. “Ding dong, the witch is dead. That was what was causing us to lose a million and a half to two million gallons of water per month.”
After discussing water for much of her speech, Jones also noted the hiring of a new public works supervisor, JJ Olson.
“JJ has been looking at things through a fresh set of eyes,” Jones said, citing Olson’s work as a driver in increased water supply for the city, among other accomplishments.
Jones also noted improvements at the Banks Public Library—Jones serves as president of the Friends of the Banks Public Library—and praised the library’s early adoption of in-person programming following mass library closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jones touched on other topics, all of which can be listened to and watched online.