Press Release: OCWCOG Celebrates Regional Success

Honors Six Leaders with Regional Awards During CelebrateLBL

Event Provided Opportunity to Update State of the Region and Raised Money for Meals on Wheels Program

The Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG), the Oregon Cascades West Economic Development District, the Oregon Cascades West Area Agency on Aging, and our Alliance partners – the United Way of Linn County and the United Way of Benton & Lincoln Counties – brought together more than 150 local community, business leaders, regional stakeholders, and elected officials on November 2nd to its Celebrate Linn, Benton, and Linn (CelerateLBL). The seminal event offered an opportunity for the Region to recognize excellence, allow for OCWCOG update its State of the Region report, and raise money for the Meals on Wheels program.

CelebrateLBL was a tremendous success,” said Commissioner Bill Hall, Lincoln County and Board Member, OCWCOG, who also served as the evening’s emcee. “Our award winners were thrilled by their recognition. The State of the Region update reminded everyone that we are one Region, and the Silent Auction raised money for Meals on Wheels. We couldn’t have asked for a better night.”

The Regional Awards recognized individuals or projects within OCWCOG’s tri-County Region; nominees and awardees were honored during the event. The 2017 Regional Award winners are:

  • Chair’s AwardDr. Greg Hamann, President of Linn-Benton Community College, for his encouragement of student success, furthering of the Regional economy, promoting the community college, and being a valuable community partner
  • Meals on Wheels Volunteer of the Year – posthumously presented to Georgiann Jones, long-time Meals on Wheels volunteer (The award was accepted by her son and daughter-in-law, Billie and Tina Jones.)
  • Volunteer of the YearJoni Nelson, long-time volunteer for the City of Brownsville
  • Business Partner of the YearAlyrica Networks, Inc., for their partnership with the City of Halsey to lay broadband internet fiber in the City
  • Project of the YearPort of Toledo, for its completion and the expansion of the Port, and economic impact to the Region
  • Citizen of the RegionDr. Larry Mullins, Samaritan Health Services, for his commitment to the Region and community over the last 25 years, professionally and philanthropically.

For more information about the Region Award winners, CelebrateLBL, and to view pictures from this year’s event, visit Next year’s event will be held in Lincoln County.

CelebrateLBL was a great event for our community,” said Mayor Sharon Konopa, City of Albany, and Chair, Board of Directors of OCWCOG. “Our regional organization, OCWCOG, showed the importance of regionalism through highlighting the work of leaders across our three Counties, while also emphasizing the need to continue to work together as a community and elected leaders through the State of the Region update.”

OCWCOG provided an update to its State of the Region during the CelebrateLBL event. The update focused on the increasing population shift and resulting economic development shifts for the Region, including residential building permits; Regional unemployment (4.5% vs. 4.2% for the State); tourism dollars; industry development projects; and middle-wage jobs in our Region. Overall, our Region’s job growth will continue to parallel that of the State, as long as the Region maintains three advantages: 1) ability to attract and retain a skilled labor force; 2) current industry structure; and 3) a favorable climate for new business formation.

The State of the Region presentation included information about the Meals on Wheels program: 1,200 home-deliveries and 150,000 meals were delivered, along with serving over 32,000 meals to 800 dining room clients last year. Over the next 15 years, OCWCOG expects this number to increase by 23.4%. Several maps were presented to show that many of the home-delivered meals were made to rural clients or to clients that lived more than a quarter of a mile away from grocery stores.

OCWCOG will be updating the complete State of the Region report in 2018.

“The State of the Region report is a powerful tool for local elected officials and business leaders alike,” said Fred Abousleman, Executive Director, OCWCOG. “The CelebrateLBL update shows that healthcare is where most jobs will be over the next several years, driven mostly by demographics of our Region. Construction growth will also be in high demand, as the housing and commercial inventory is currently low. Other stand-out items from our research: tourism numbers were up between five and seven percent, as well as home values and incomes. The Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties are a powerful economic Region.”

For more information on the State of the Region report, or to access a copy of what was presented at CelebrateLBL, visit

CelebrateLBL served as a fundraiser for the Meals on Wheels program of Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties. The event raised more than $5,000 for the program, allowing for seniors and disabled adults to receive 525 hot and nutritious meals across our Region. Our attendee’s generosity includes more than a meal; it means: health, safety, and socialization:

  • Health Each meal is designed to provide adequate caloric intake, quality proteins, and bioavailable vitamins.
  • Safety Fifteen days of check-ins for 17 homebound seniors and disabled adults. When volunteers deliver hot meals to homebound clients, they’re also visually checking the physical safety of the client and their home.
  • SocializationFifteen days of meals for nine seniors in dining rooms, allowing for social connections between our diners.

For more information on the Meals on Wheels program, contact Jennifer Moore, or 541-812-6008, or visit

Thank you!

OCWCOG would like to thank our CelebrateLBL sponsors for their generous support of the event: LBLPrime Partner Barker-Uerlings Insurance; Irie-AT; Rotary Club of Corvallis; and Oregon State Credit Union.

CelebrateLBL would also not have been possible without the support of our silent auction donors. Thank you: 2 Stones Pizza; Bateman Community Living; CDWG; Commissioner Anne Schuster; Darkside Theatre; Debbie Culbertson; Dell; Elegant Floral; Epic Day Spa; Eugene Airport; First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op; Golf City Par-3; Grant Scheele Insurance Agency; Hilary Norton and Norton Fine Arts; Many Hands Trading; Mary & Co The Salon; Mid-Willamette Valley YMCA; SkyHigh Brewing and Pub; The Book Bin; TOBY POMEROY; Town & Country Realty; Tried and True Coffee; Trump’s Hobbies; and Wilco.