By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Follow the trail for just a few 'minutes'

Please second my motion in praise of minutes.

This week, minutes saved me hours, perhaps days, in reviewing activities of the Yamhill County Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. Those hours and days are time, and these “minutes” are written records of YCPRAB actions that help explain recent parks board controversies.

Meeting minutes confirmed a News-Register error in reporting that county Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer “was the former parks liaison, but did not attend parks board meetings.” One parks board member was accurately quoted about limited engagement from commissioners in the past year, but Berschauer did attend three parks board meetings between May 2021 and January 2022.

Minutes reveal Commissioner Berschauer’s concern about Yamhill County’s cost of parks maintenance, and identify her vision for county parks as “sustainability to maintain what we have.” The Board of Commissioners did put $100,000 into the 2022-23 parks Master Planning budget, but only after having redirected dedicated Master Planning funds in a previous budget.

Most interesting, minutes from Berschauer’s last parks board meeting 14 months ago expose a telling moment that might have been a precursor to this year’s YCPRAB shakeup. To quote:

“Commissioner Berschauer asked about the cost of the (Yamhelis Westsider) trail and why that wasn’t included in the (2021) survey, claiming that the trail costs would be similar to light rail development in this transportation corridor. (Board member) Andrew Mortensen noted that the purpose of the Oregon Department of Transportation planning grant for the trail, which Commissioner Berschauer voted to terminate before completion, was to determine how much the trail was going to cost, and that one couldn’t compare this trail to light rail.”

Yamhill County commissioners are dedicated to squeezing out any possible hopes for resuscitation of the Yamhelis Trail. So it makes sense, at least in their minds, to remake related advisory boards in their one-sided image.

That mission was furthered when Mortensen, a widely known senior manager for complex transportation projects, became one of two YCPRAB members who resigned this month after the county commission “rebuilt” the parks board. Acting on his own ideas about spending productive and meaningful minutes, hours and days, Mortensen told the News-Register:

“The advance of six of those seven applicants was a telltale sign that this is just stacking the advisory board for political reasons, and I just don’t have patience for that.”

Some political pundits suggest, “Follow the money.” Here in Yamhill County, you also have to “Follow the trail.”

News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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