News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Governor visits Detroit – Kotek in Detroit to discuss wildfire recovery issues

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek stopped in Detroit on June 22 to discuss wildfire recovery issues with local officials and residents.

The visit was one of six Marion County stops Kotek made that day as part of the 16th installment of her Oregon Listening Tour. 

Kotek, a first-term Democrat from Portland, also made 3 stops in Silverton as well as one in Aumsville before closing the day with a press conference in Woodburn. None of the stops were public events.

There were two components to the Detroit visit. First, Kotek discussed recovery efforts in a roundtable discussion that featured members of the governor’s staff, including Doug Grafe, Kotek’s wildfire and emergency response adviser. Representing Detroit were Mayor Jim Trett and Councilor Denny Nielsen, whose portfolio includes commercial rebuilding in town. Also on hand was Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron, who has long-standing Detroit ties.

Participants in a wildfire recovery discussion with Governor Tina Kotek are shown outside the Detroit Community Center. From left are Beth Wytoski of the governor’s staff, Councilor Denny Nielsen, Mayor Jim Trett, Kotek, Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron and state wildfire adviser Doug Grafe.   OFFICE OF GOVERNOR TINA KOTEK
Participants in a wildfire recovery discussion with Governor Tina Kotek are shown outside the Detroit Community Center. From left are Beth Wytoski of the governor’s staff, Councilor Denny Nielsen, Mayor Jim Trett, Kotek, Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron and state wildfire adviser Doug Grafe.   OFFICE OF GOVERNOR TINA KOTEK

Kotek also toured the impacted region with the Tesdal family, whose home and neighborhood burned down in the 2020 wildfire. 

Don and Michele Tesdal are rebuilding their home using wood that was milled from the area after the fire.

“We were glad to see her,” Mayor Jim Trett told The Canyon Weekly of Kotek’s visit. “We invited her back in case she wants to just come and enjoy the area and not do the politics.”

During the roundtable, “We talked about some of the successes of the recovery and some of the problems and challenges we are facing. We also talked about ways the state might be able to help us, particularly with septic and the sewers,” Trett said.

The North Santiam Sewer Authority, a coalition that includes participation from Mill City, Gates, Detroit and Idanha, is working on a two-phase plan to install a sewer system in the Santiam Canyon. 

The Mill City-Gates piece already has been funded to the tune of $50 million, with officials hoping to complete that phase by 2026. Another $60 million is needed for Detroit and Idanha and no timeline has been set.

“It was a good meeting,” Trett said. “The consensus was that she did listen, although there is not much she can do right now because the legislative session is over. It was a productive meeting, everybody got along and we’ll go from there.”

It was the first visit to Detroit for Kotek, who was sworn in as governor in January. According to Trett, Kotek’s predecessor, Gov. Kate Brown, did not visit Detroit in the nearly 2.5 years she remained in office after the Labor Day fires.

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