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Community gathered to officially open the recently completed Bear Creek Byway in Molalla

KAREN GRAVES - Craig Loughridge, center, presents a plaque to City Manager Dan Huff and new Molalla mayor, Jimmy Thompson at a rain-soaked dedication ceremony for the newly-completed Bear Creek Byway last week. With them, l-r, is Sherrie Rhodes, Eric Hublein and Carol Maloy, holding the umbrella. 
It was almost fitting that it started to rain just as everyone walked out to the new Bear Creek pedestrian bridge for the Bear Creek Byway dedication ceremony last Saturday.

And it rained steadily throughout the ceremony. Volunteers who had hung in there and worked hard on the project through many other obstacles weren't about to let a little rain hold them back.

The gathering of roughly 35 people was fantastic, said Craig Loughridge, project manager for the Molalla Community Builders/Bear Creek Byway.

They donned raincoats, huddled under umbrellas and marched right out to the bridge at the appointed time.

Loughridge gave a brief speech noting the timeline of the project, and how much work was involved.

At the dedication, Loughridge thanked all of the supporters from all around Molalla and the entire Portland metro region.

He noted how the byway path benefitted everyone--not just pedestrians and bicyclists--by ensuring that Molalla ambulances (which cover hundreds of square miles) would hopefully have fewer accidents involving bikes and pedestrians on highways 211 and 213 at the west end of Molalla.

KAREN GRAVES  - Volunteers clown around a little with a caution ribbon across the bridge: L-R, Cindy Munoz Sanchez, Pamela Lucht, Sherrie Rhodes, Craig Loughridge, Angela Patton, Kelly Andrews and Shilo Whittrock-Laccino.  Not pictured is Linda Philpot, who was unable to attend the ceremony, due to a family event.
Loughridge also noted how proud he was of the volunteers. He called each of their names and pointed them out one by one for recognition.

"Your persistence and dedication to getting this job done well has been amazing," he told them.

Time constraints kept him from naming everyone involved in the project, but Loughridge did name and describe a few people who made major contributions to the project, including Shawn Morford and Gary Stewart, who provided training and advice at critical points throughout the project; and Evan Kristof, a faculty member at Portland State University's school of engineering, who recruited student volunteers and donated many hours of his own time. Loughridge also extended thanks to city leaders for their support.

With the help of project supporter Eric Heublein, he presented to City Manager Dan Huff and Molalla Mayor Jimmy Thompson a dedication plaque to commemorate the project. He also asked Huff and Thompson to address the crowd.

KAREN GRAVES - Some of those attending the ceremony walk through the rain to cross the bridge. Standing on the bridge is L-R, Craig Loughridge, holding the green  umbrella, Neal Lucht, whose company contributed to the project, and  Evan Christoff, PSU School of Engineering.
Thompson noted the importance of the byway to the community, and thanked the volunteers for their work.

Huff noted that the project was a demonstration of what a community can do.

Among Molalla Community Builders members who offered comments was Angela Patton, who thanked Loughridge for his leadership and support throughout the project.

Molalla Community Builders volunteers posed in front of the bridge while Loughridge stood behind cutting the "Caution" tape across the bridge entrance.

He said they had selected the "Caution" tape partly as a symbol of the difficulties they'd had with the project.

Dedication attendees then spent some time walking the bridge and path in the rain before retiring to the Lumber Jack Grill for hors d'oeuvres donated by the restaurant and its owner, Bernadette Yoder.

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