Urban Renewal 101 for Rural Communities… A community building strategy where all citizens can be engaged!

The old historic Whale Inn on 101…embarrassing blight is not good for community… City of Depoe Bay, Oregon…
Urban Renewal 101 could address this terrible eye sore for Depoe Bay, Oregon… The Whale Inn on 101 is abandoned…


Knowledge is Power… by Dave Morgan, news@bendnewstoday.com

“Urban Renewal is not a trick pony you tie up in front of city hall and put money in some peoples’ pockets as they wink at each other from across the room.  It’s enormously complex in terms of regulations, financial instruments and state and local tax laws.
This is not a toy or a silver bullet to benefit a small group of people – not that any bond counsel, attorney or local banker would ever go along with a scheme to hijack the process.  Urban Renewal has been around for decades – a product of the Federal Model Cities program dating back to the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.  It’s well travel ground.  Those who would seek to use it as a way to direct monetary or political benefits have no idea – nary a clue – as to what kind of wasp nest they’re whacking.”
Dave Morgan’s article spells it out in simple terms for me.  The citizens of rural communities who are fortunate to have Urban Renewal resources and boundaries have choices that can make a difference in attracting more visitors and stimulating economic development.  But we have to be highly engaged and take ownership as community partners to make it happen.  I encourage those interested to download the Urban Renewal 101 Starter Kit to become educated.  Next step is to contact your City Hall and Urban Renewal Agency to get involved.
Talking for myself as a Depoe Bay City Councilor, we need to be fully informed, and become experts in Urban Renewal in order to take full advantage of the opportunities for our community to build a competitive 21st Century City.  We have significant resources available but must take ownership ourselves to ensure that funding opportunities are selected appropriately and managed effectively.  Citizens of rural communities must play a huge role.  We need your help and support!
I serve at the pleasure of the citizens of Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Thank you all for your support!
Steve Sparks
City Councilor
Depoe Bay, Oregon
Please “like” my page…

Katie’s Way…A safe place of healing and treatment for young adults with mental health challenges…

The Mathis Family Lost Katie to Depression…

Katie’s Way… Click on the highlighted text, and take a moment to see the powerfully moving video clip…

“Katie’s Way was established in cooperation with The No Stone Unturned Foundation to provide services that promote social-emotional development, prevent development of mental health challenges, and address social-emotional problems that currently exist.”

“Katie’s Way was developed to overcome barriers by providing:

  • A non-institutional setting to overcome the stigmatism associated with an institutional model
  • Team-Based Care – psychiatry and psychology professionals all working together
  • All staff are specialty credentialed in child and adolescent psychiatry/psychology”


We live in the rural community of Depoe Bay, Oregon in Lincoln County on the Central Oregon Coast.  We are blessed to live out our dreams in this beautiful and stunning coastal community.  We have big challenges just like many rural towns, including the lack of resources to help those who are mentally challenged, especially kids.  The stigma of mental health hits us hard just like everywhere else in America.  Most hesitate or even avoid telling parents and loved ones about feelings of severe depression and anxiety for fear it will not lead to a helpful outcome, or even worse, could keep them from achieving dreams of college, career, and building loving relationships.  We are devastated and traumatized whenever there is word of a death, suicide or accident connected with the need for vastly improved mental health treatment and healing resources.

One of the most recent tragedies in our community is the story of little London McCabe, who’s mother tossed him over the Yaquina Bridge in Newport, Oregon because she was hearing voices.  Other examples we can’t mention names in order to protect victims, include child abuse, sexual abuse and maltreatment.  My own life experience includes a severely toxic and sometimes violent home culture while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s before leaving to join the US Navy in 1963… “I got away!”

The State of Oregon acknowledges the need to improve mental health support and treatment resources by making it a legislative priority.  Our local Depoe Bay, Oregon City Council formally put mental health on its agenda.  We participate in the local community governing process by sitting on both the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) and the Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC).  We are making room in our new Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital expansion to include space and beds for a detox treatment center.  Where we have a sticky problem is trying to build resources within our smaller communities similar to Katie’s Way, where getting help comes from a safe and secure setting managed by non institutional professionals and volunteers.

Katie’s Way is a non-profit public private partnership business model we need to get serious about right now!  There have been attempts in the past that have either failed or struggled to achieve sustainability.  We have the compassion, passion, and talent in Lincoln County to make it happen, we just need to go the extra mile.  I hope the story of Katie’s Way will give us the extra energy and commitment to move forward more quickly.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page.

Depoe Bay City Councilor

https://www.facebook.com/councilorsparks     Please “like” my page…



A Golden Nugget of History from Whale Cove, Depoe Bay, Oregon…

Big Whale Cove, as we Depoe Bay coastal residents call this beautiful and stunning beach, with a large Harbor Seal population.


Whale Cove, south of Depoe Bay, Oregon, colorized aerial photograph
The Jonucus Hondius map of 1589 of Drake’s New Albion cove
Sir Francis Drake…Pirate click highlighted text for more…


Sir Francis Drake and Whale Cove…  Quote from website article written by Patrick Alexander, Oregon Coast Today…

New exhibit could re-write history of Sir Francis Drake’s epic voyage

By Patrick Alexander…Oregon Coast TODAY

“To the casual observer, Depoe Bay’s Whale Cove appears to be nothing more than yet another breathtakingly beautiful inlet of the type that appears every few miles along the Oregon Coast.  But to historical sleuth Bob Ward, the bay is a key part of a mystery involving English explorer Sir Francis Drake, a 16th-Century cover up and the true birthplace of the British Empire.  Ward’s theories are the subject of a new exhibit, “Drake in Oregon,” on display at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum in Lincoln City through the end of this year.  Drawing on 30 years of extensive research, the exhibit makes the case that Drake spent the summer of 1579 at anchor in Whale Cove rather than the bay north of San Francisco that now bears his name.”


When Judy and I moved to the coast in 2005 with our beloved chocolate lab, Mocha, we had no idea we would discover Big Whale Cove, a secluded cove with difficult access so close to our new home.  We already felt lucky to find our very own community of Little Whale Cove just south of Depoe Bay situated on a high basalt plateau close to the coastline.  As a special amenity we have access to a smaller fresh water cove known as “Little Whale Cove.”  A small fresh water pond formed tens of thousands of years ago and transformed into a beach head that emptied into the ocean, therefore not considered a public beach by Oregon law.  During the winter Little Whale Cove is often almost completely flooded by the Pacific Ocean’s high tides and waves that pound the shore…not always accessible during big storms.  White foam often covers the entire cove during a major storm…

Little Whale Cove, a fresh water outlet to the Pacific Ocean…just a short walk south over the hill is Big Whale Cove.

After 10 years of Oregon Coastal living near Depoe Bay, Judy and I still can’t get enough of the beauty of this region, especially the coastline near our home.  Every summer we head to Big Whale Cove as much as we can.  The Harbor Seals (click to see images) just off shore watch us very closely…we are transfixed by the staring creatures who believe we are intruders.  Our American ancestors were also intruders 5 centuries ago when arriving here for the first time and meeting the Siletz Tribal Community…who made their home on the shores of the Central Oregon Coast.  The Native American culture has a very special place in our hearts and coastal community.

Assuming the legend and story of Sir Francis Drake’s discovery of America at Whale Cove near Depoe Bay is accurate, we are proud to be part of the long history of this very unique coastal area that was home to the Siletz Native American Tribe in the beginning.  The Oregon Coast continues to have a strong Siletz Tribal population located further inland, who have been good neighbors and partners in community building and economic development.  Drake and his band of pirates enjoyed their first summer on this gorgeous and still secluded cove in 1579.  Judy and I are definitely going to visit the North Lincoln County Historical Museum to learn more after reading about Bob Ward’s research and exhibit in Oregon Coast Today…

Summer is right around the corner…  So the joy of spending lazy summer days at Big Whale Cove visiting our Harbor Seal friends, inspired me to get a head start by sharing my family’s special experience living on the Central Oregon Coast near Big Whale Cove next to Depoe Bay.  We feel so grateful and blessed to have found this special place to live out our dreams and aspirations…and to share with family and friends… Being part of the amazing history of the Oregon Coast, and imagining the delight of those before us relaxing and playing on this stunning beach with a view that never tires, makes the experience even more special…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…


21st Century Community Building in Depoe Bay, Oregon…where all citizens can make a difference…

Depoe Bay Harbor…Summer on the beautiful Oregon Coast…
Depoe Bay City Council with Mayor A.J. Mattila …center…click for larger view…


News from my hometown, Depoe Bay, Oregon  Quote from the News Lincoln County article…

A way forward on harbor issues –

“Depoe Bay City Councilors, noting that plans to upgrade The World’s Smallest Harbor were going too slowly, decided to initiate a “Harbor Summit” to speed things up. They decided that attending that summit will be the Harbor Commission, the Harbor Master Plan Committee, and the City Council. Several councilors cited what appeared to be irreconcilable differences between members of the two harbor committees, something the city council wants to resolve. The council decided on the summit in order to get everyone around the same table and map out what the council believes are the three biggest issues – the need for new dock pilings, new docks in positions 2, 3 and 4 and improvements to the harbor’s fuel dock.


I love talking about my hometown, Depoe Bay, Oregon!  Judy and I moved to the Oregon Coast almost 10 years ago and have not looked back.  We’ve been blessed to have lived and experienced rural America, including Leavenworth, Washington for the past 25 years.  Smaller communities offer the experience and culture of volunteerism and community service where all citizens can take ownership and make a difference.  If your heart moves you in later life when there is more time to give back, a rural community offers great opportunity and potential to use wisdom and career skill sets to make a positive impact for the greater good.

Judy and I discovered the “magic” of small town living back in 1991 when we left the stressful life of the big city and a world of a high intensity career that became a “burn-out” by the time we reached our 40’s.  We found our dream first in the mountains of Leavenworth, Washington in the north central part of the region.  This is where we fell in love with small town America and the heartfelt rewards of community service.  Now we enjoy an even greater love for giving back living on the stunning Oregon Coast in Depoe Bay, “The Smallest Navigable Harbor in the World.”  We also love the diversified culture of townsfolk, neighbors, and friends who built this community and those who came here later in life like us.  We are all one family thinking and focusing on a better future for our children and grandchildren.  We all play a part in making a difference while enjoying the treasured and unique experience of living in a coastal community.

We explore the coastal beaches, including our own backyard in Little Whale Cove, with every free moment.  The pounding waves at night put us to sleep.  The mild temperate climate is never too hot or too cold.  The sunny warm days of summer and a break from the rain from winter months make this a paradise we truly appreciate.  The winter storms are amazing to experience and sometimes create a little anxiety when occasionally, winds reach 100 mph on the coast.  We are happy to part of positive human connectedness and spiritual growth in our hometown of Depoe Bay, Oregon…  Please come to the Central Oregon Coast and experience the gift of a natural earth energy vortex…food for your soul!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

Councilor, City of Depoe Bay, Oregon