Committee readies for Oregon's next big day

Bill Hansell, a member of Oregon’s 150th birthday committee and Umatilla County commissioner, speaks June 24 to the Hermiston Chamber about plans for the big celebration, starting January 2009. Karen Hutchinson-Talaski/The Hermiston Herald

Almost 150 years ago, Oregon became a state and a group of citizens and government officials are gearing up for the anniversary celebration.

Umatilla County Commissioner Bill Hansell is among 25 ex-officio committee members, appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski. He was an eighth-grader in 1959 during the 100th birthday and is excited about taking part in the sesquicentennial celebration.

"Forty-six percent of those in Oregon were born here," Hansell said.

He spoke at the Hermiston Chamber luncheon June 24, highlighting the many activities and events planned for the historic celebration. The events are being planned to "celebrate our past, honor our present and envision its future," Hansell said.

There are six "signature" programs the Oregon 150 committee has planned:

?Oregon Stories - Oregon residents sharing their stories about Oregon, the things they cherish about the state and the way things used to be or what people hope the state becomes. Oregon stories may be shared by going to and clicking on the link for Oregon Stories. Stories will be archived for the bicentennial celebration, Hansell said.

"The stories are, quite frankly, amazing," Hansell said.

?Take Care of Oregon Day - May 16 - is an opportunity for Oregonians to come together to "tend and mend the Beaver state," according to the Web site. Hansell said it is possible that to do a "massive clean-up" of the Umatilla River areas. SOLV and Rural Development Initiatives are partnering with the state on Take Care of Oregon Day.

?OREGON! OREGON! 2009 - The band Pink Martini has updated the 1959 version of OREGON! OREGON! for today's audiences. The band will perform the piece in Portland, Medford and Bend next year.

?Youth Legacy Projects - Hansell says there are three projects in the works to include the state's youth in the celebration. Former Gov. Barbara Roberts and George Fox University student Henry Balensifer III are working on projects for this piece.

?Travel Oregon 150 - This project will encourage Oregonians to "go somewhere they've never been before, Hansell said. He plans to go to Danner, where Sacajawea's son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau is buried.

?Oregon Dreamer's Blog - Another opportunity for Oregonians to talk about Oregon on the Internet.

The kick-off will start in January, Hansell said, and continue throughout the year.

"This is an opportunity for family to get together," Hansell said. "To make Oregon shine and applaud her strengths."

Hansell said the Oregon 150 group is looking for volunteers. For more information, visit

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