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home : current news : current news July 24, 2017


6/27/2017 11:13:00 AM
City barbecue brings out citizenry
City staff — Kim Keeton, Paul Bertagna and Joe O’Neill — prepared food for some 250 citizens who attended the City’s barbecue last Thursday. photo by Sue Stafford
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City staff — Kim Keeton, Paul Bertagna and Joe O’Neill — prepared food for some 250 citizens who attended the City’s barbecue last Thursday. photo by Sue Stafford

By Sue Stafford


Sisters' first-ever City barbecue last Thursday evening was a rousing success, according to many attendees.

An estimated 250 residents enjoyed the food, while meeting old and making new friends and tapping their toes to the music of The Anvil Blasters.

Mayor Chuck Ryan and the originator of the idea for the barbecue, City Councilor Richard Esterman, welcomed everyone, thanked the City staff for pulling the event together, introduced the members of City Council, and welcomed new city manager, Brant Kucera.

Kucera drove over from Cannon Beach, accompanied by his 5-year-old son Rhys and his fiancé, Sandy Jacobs. Kucera and Jacobs will be married on July 1 and Kucera reports for his first day of work in Sisters on July 5. They have made an offer on a house with some acreage out on Holmes Road and are waiting to close the deal.

The City Hall parking lot was transformed into a picnic spot for the barbecue. A large canopy provided some shade for the guests, who were seated at long tables covered in festive red and white-checked tablecloths.

Diners had a choice of hamburgers and hot dogs, ably cooked on the grill by Public Works Director Paul Bertagna and Finance Officer Joe O'Neill, aided by Kim Keeton, City accounting technician, who handed out the buns. Potato salad, green salad, bags of chips, and cookies, restocked by Kerry Prosser, city recorder, and Carol Jenkins, planning technician, rounded out the menu.

Everything was free of charge, as part of the City's outreach to the community.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

"Why didn't we do this before?" wondered Sisters artist Paul Bennett.

City Council President Nancy Connolly was pleased with the citizens' response, and added, "It's nice to see such a good turnout and hear such positive comments about the direction of the City."

Showing inside the Council chambers was a continuous slide show of historical snapshots of Sisters dating as far back as 1895, with photos of the horse-drawn stage line, the original Sisters two-story white school house, and the Brooks-Scanlon logging train that carried cut ponderosas to their mill. There were photos of the early days of the rodeo, and the heavy snowfall of 1919. Also included was a short film made in 1967 of driving down Cascade Avenue showing what Sisters looked like in those days. City staffer Julie Pieper, finance administrative assistant, put the slide show together.

Outgoing City Manager Rick Allen received a number of compliments on the job he has done in Sisters over the past year.

"You brought decency back to Sisters," offered 23-year Sisters resident Carolyn Platt.

Allen, who has been involved in local Central Oregon government for years and served as the La Pine interim city manager before coming to Sisters, responded to Platt.

"I learn everywhere I go and, therefore, I can bring different ways of doing things... When I arrived in Sisters, it wasn't fun (for citizen volunteers) to serve here and it wasn't fun to work here. We have been able to change the culture and how we respond to people," he said.

Dennis Schmidling of Sisters Gallery & Frame Shop summed up the importance of the new culture and the value of events like the barbecue.

"Building community is the salve we need," he said.

Dennis's wife, Helen, was impressed with the strong turnout. Their friend Bob Burgess, president of Sisters Arts Association, added, "I think they (staff) did a great job on the barbecue, especially without knowing how many people were coming."

Senior planner BeAnne McConkie did have to make a run to Ray's for 80 more hamburger patties, and eventually every bit of food was eaten.

Esterman remarked, "We had an excellent turnout and we owe a big thanks to the staff for all their hard work."









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