POLK COUNTY — It is traditional to take a look back through the year as the end of 2017 arrives.
This year, the Itemizer-Observer staff wanted to look ahead. We don’t have a crystal ball, so can’t be certain what the year will bring, but here are a few things we expect to keep an eye on in 2018. Here are just a few things we expect to see happen and report on.
What would you like us to watch for in 2018?
City of Dallas city manager position
When the Dallas City Council terminated city manager Ron Foggin for no cause, and then hired Greg Ellis to serve as interim city manager, we put the recruitment and hiring of a new city manager on our list of things to watch.
We have since discovered Ellis may stay for up to two years as interim, and so this item may not end up happening until 2019 or 2020.
Dallas Booster Club’s turf fundraising
Dallas Booster Club started raising money and in-kind donations from the community last summer to build an artificial turf field at Dallas High School. The project really took off when the Dallas School Board agreed to pay for a new track if the field project was successful.
We are eager to see the fundraising reach its goals and a new field installed soon. If the booster club reaches its goal for this year, the new track will be installed in the summer of 2019.
The development at Independence Landing in downtown Independence on the waterfront has been in the works since Independence purchased the property from Valley Concrete.
The city put in the money and man hours to get the land ready for development, and build streets and infrastructure.
Officials then nurtured a deal with Tokola Properties for a hotel and residential units.
We expect to see the developer break ground on the hotel this spring, if it goes according to plan, and be finished within two years.
We have quite a few local seats up for election in 2018. We’ll keep an eye on how that changes the face of the our local governments — if at all.
Highway 99W project
The city of Monmouth and Oregon Department of Transportation have been working together for a few years to redesign the stretch of Highway 99W that goes through Monmouth.
Last year, the two got closer to agreeing on what should be done and who will have to pay for what. We expect to see this project take serious shape this year.
High school sports
Dallas’ softball team reached the state championship game last season. With most of its roster returning, the Dragons will look to make another deep run and contend for a state championship.
Central welcomes three new coaches for spring sports: Joel Everett (golf), Patty Nevue (girls tennis) and Tom Roberts (baseball).
Many storefronts in Monmouth’s downtown are occupied, but a few remain empty. We are particularly interested in the corner of Highway 99W and Main Street, where last we heard a Carl’s Jr. is moving in.
We hope to see more businesses in downtown and progress being made on that corner property.
Dallas events: Summerfest
After the smashing success of the events surrounding the Great American Eclipse, coupled with lower-than-average Summerfest parade entries, the Dallas Area Visitor’s Center’s new events manager Ashley Kahl is giving Summerfest a makeover.
She’s announced the three-day festival will be shortened to two days — not counting Rotary’s activities in the park on Sunday.
Part of what made the eclipse so successful was because groups and businesses talked to each other and made it happen.
With the creation of a Summer Events Task Force, we hope to see more collaboration between entities such as the DAVC and the downtown association, and more volunteers step up to help make a difference.
We also are eager to see how an August music festival shapes up.
Dallas Downtown Association murder mystery
The DDA’s murder mystery afternoon in October left us all on a cliffhanger. Who killed Drew Golden? We all want to know, and looks like we’ll have to wait until October to find out.
Development in Dallas
The Jiffy Lube location going up on East Ellendale Avenue is set to open this year, but a few more business project may be kicking off soon.
Grocery Outlet is expected to open a location in Dallas and work on that should begin in early 2018.
Also, an industrial project in the works for some time now, “Indigo,” could bring new life to a vacant industrial parcel in town. City officials call it “transformative,” if it happens.
More details to come on that in early 2018
Of course, we are eagerly watching for more progress on the Blue Garden in 2018, too.
Falls City closing Wagner
Barring a dramatic last-minute rescue, Wagner Community Library will close after the summer reading program this year.
City and community leaders have vowed to find ways to replace services lost once the door close on the library. We’ll be watching to see what innovative solutions they find.
Development in Independence
Businesses have been filling the once-empty storefronts on Main Street in downtown Independence, and we expect to see more coming in.
We have heard that leases are in the works for the Taylor’s building, as well as a new establishment in the former YMCA slot.
A new restaurant should be moving in next to the Three Legged Dog, and talks are ongoing to fill the corner slot at the Cooper Block.
New home for Power and Light
Monmouth officials have been working on plans for a new home for Monmouth Power and Light, currently located next to Minet on Hogan Road.
The new building will feature state-of-the-art solar energy uses, as well as provide adequate storage.
The city closed on the land for the new building in 2015. Last year, details of the floor plan were being ironed out.
We hope to see some dirt moved in 2018.