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Jacksonville to host mayors' conference

Jacksonville to host mayors' conference

JACKSONVILLE ' The city will play host to the 2005 Oregon Mayors Association Summer Conference today, thanks to a local innkeeper.

Mayor Jim Lewis says more than 65 Oregon mayors and their spouses and guests will converge on the town Thursday through Saturday.

I'm tickled to death, says Lewis.

The Oregon Mayors Conference is a networking and educational organization that works in conjunction with the League of Oregon Cities, says LOC event organizer JoAnn Ghelfi.

Lewis says telling Maryann Ramsden, owner of the McCully House Inn,thatthe historic town might be considered too small to host the annual convention spurred her to action.

— This is all happening because I told Maryann it couldn't be done, says Lewis, laughing.

Ramsden says shebegan lobbying on behalf of Jacksonville about three years ago.

I never say never, says Ramsden. I invited (Ghelfi) to our town, took her by the hand and showed her around.

Impressed with Ramsden's tour, Ghelfi booked the city for the 2005 conference.

The conference provides an opportunity for mayors to network and learn more about the responsibilities of public office ' a job that comes with a lot of duties and very little financial recompense, Ghelfi says.

Only two mayors in the state (Portland and Beaverton) are paid, says Ghelfi.

The event's theme is Together We Make a Community, says Lewis.

Conference sessions will take place at the U.S. Hotel ballroom in Jacksonville. Topics will include Taking the War out of Words, How to Work with TV, Radio and Print Media, How to Be a Mayor and Have a Life Too, 2005 Legislative Report and Prozac and Show Me the Money.

It's all kind of a communication slant, says Lewis.

Lewis says in addition to educational opportunities, the conference provides an opportunity for general socializing among the mayors. The annual tradition of offering a mayor's basket exchange has become an opportunity for Jacksonville to shine, says Lewis. More than &

36;2,000 in gifts will fill an antique Chinese chest as the town's coveted offering this year, he says.

We have wine from Valley View, coffee from the Good Bean, meats from Gary West and a free night at one of the inns, says Lewis. It's an embarrassment of riches.

Additional conference highlights include a Mayors Parade, an evening at one of Britt's classical music concerts, and an annual banquet and awards presentation, Ramsden says.

For additional information, contact the Visitor Information Center located in the old Rogue River Valley Railway Station, 185 N. Oregon St., Jacksonville, or call 899-8118.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail Jacksonville to host mayors? conference"sspecht@mailtribune.com.