Tualatin News In Brief

Willowbrook Arts Camp
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Parking & trail access upgrades underway at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Work began in December to expand parking and upgrade sidewalk access to trails in the popular Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

The project, which is projected to be completed in the summer of 2023, will add parking spaces and a new school bus loading zone near the visitors’ centers. Parking and sidewalk access will remain open during the six-month construction period.

“Access is not expected to be impacted, though portions of the parking lot may be closed as necessary to accommodate work crew and equipment,” according to a press release.

Contractors are collaborating with Refuge managers to minimize the impact on vegetation in the work area. The new and upgraded sidewalks will use a combination of permeable surface pavers and pavement to help improve stormwater runoff. 

The 1,800-plus acre wetland and lowland sanctuary hosts educational programming throughout the year and is a popular spot for walking, birding, wildlife viewing, and photography.

The Refuge is located at 19255 SW Pacific Hwy in Sherwood

Mail Thief Sentenced to 10 Years

William Anthony McCormack, Jr., 40, of Washington County, was sentenced last month to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $5,500 in restitution to victims for using stolen bank checks and debit cards to defraud residents and intent to sell methamphetamine.

After initially pleading guilty to charges of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and the intent to distribute, McCormack escaped a drug treatment program where he was serving his sentence in March of 2021. McCormack had been a fugitive for more than a year when Tigard police arrested him last June.

Between June and September 2020, court documents showed, McCormack stole bank and community checks from residents’ mailboxes, mainly in Washington County. He used them to make illegal withdrawals from their bank accounts.

Tualatin police arrested McCormack during a Sept. 2020 traffic stop for speeding and driving with a suspended license. They found 30 small bags of methamphetamine and two 9mm handguns in McCormack’s car. Police discovered Driver’s licenses, U.S. Passports, and pieces of stolen mail in McCormack’s hotel room.

Willowbrook moves year-round offices to Brown’s Ferry Community Center

Tualatin deepened its longstanding relationship with Willowbrook Arts Camp in a mutually beneficial deal that gives the camp year-round residence in Brown’s Ferry Park, where it’s hosted summer programming since 2017.

City Council members in December unanimously approved an agreement allowing the arts camp to house administrative offices on the upper floor of the Community Center in Brown’s Ferry Park, 5485 SW Nyberg Lane, which the city said it does not have the financial resources to use for parks and recreation programs.

Willowbrook will assume some routine operating costs and responsibility for regular upkeep “although the city may have cost if major system issues occur,” according to the agreement.

The city believes that having a year-round tenant will help protect the building from graffiti and vandalism.

As part of the deal, Tualatin residents get a 5 percent tuition break on summer arts camps.

Additionally, Willowbrook is coordinating with the city in the coming year on invasive plant removal and native species planting in the park and will collaborate on parks and library programming and events.

Willowbrook will also offer family-friendly activities and help promote the city’s annual Blender Dash, ¡Viva Tualatin!, and West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta. 

The 43-year-old camp, founded by Althea Pratt-Broome and once housed in her home, the historic John Sweek House, offers year-round art classes and camps for children ages 3-18. Its award-winning programming includes fine and world arts, ceramics, basketry, puppetry, stained glass, music, nature, dance, and drama.

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