Oregon is about to experience a growth spurt.
From the opening of Jefferson Crossing apartment building to construction of a new hotel and youth center, there was plenty of action in 2018.
Many of the most notable events of the year were actually planning for the future, however. The most far-reaching of those was the successful Oregon School District referendum effort voters approved Nov. 6, totaling $47 million.
The result will be a new elementary school in the northern part of the district and the purchase of land for an eventual new middle school off the U.S. Hwy. 14/County Hwy. MM interchange – with the construction of the middle school saved for a separate vote in a few years.
That effort and the resulting land purchase deals days later capped a busy year for school officials, who convened a growth task force and coordinated a public information campaign for the district’s fourth referendum since 2012.
Oregon’s main commercial areas were another target of this growth and the plans for more.
The downtown got a new look with the addition of the Jefferson Crossing, which opened to residents in July after more than a year of construction. All 61 units in the three-story building were rented almost immediately.
Less than a mile away, at 110 N. Oak St., construction started in October on a new Oregon Youth Center, funded almost entirely by donations. The Oregon Community Resource Network raised about $1 million over the past year for the project, which will rely heavily on in-kind labor donations, with hopes to have the new 5,800-square-foot youth center ready for kids to use in early 2019.
A few blocks away on Main Street, the new library has yet to break ground, but an agreement with the Library Board in October provided a a commitment from the Village Board to borrow $6 million for the project. The effort had hit a snag in January, when library director Nikki Busch abruptly resigned, but the new director Jennifer Endres Way regained some moment by starting a fundraising study to determine the size, design and timing of the new building, originally estimated to cost around $10 million to $12 million.
On the other end of the village’s commercial corridor, a 66-room Sleep Inn and Suites Hotel reached the final stages of a busy year of construction. Work is wrapping up this winter at the $4.5 million, three-story hotel at the corner of Park and Rosewood Avenue near the U.S. Hwy. 14/State Hwy. 138 interchange, and it’s expected to open right around the beginning of the year.
In preparation for growth on that end of the city – including a future business park east of 14, the city finally connected North and South Perry Parkway, linking Janesville Street to the high school and the soon-to-be-upgraded Jaycee Park West and providing some traffic relief.
Also growing in 2018 was the new food pantry, which had already gotten a new building the year before but now added hours and more clientele.
Other notable developments in 2018 were Village President Steve Staton’s decision not to run again and trustee Jeanne Carpenter’s announcement that she’ll run for that spot, a state soccer title for the Oregon High School boys team, the school board’s somewhat reluctant decision to make drug searches permanent and another 100-year flood – which this time didn’t do much personal property damage but instead ruined the village’s new bike path to Fitchburg.