MT. VERNON - Dennis Bradley didn't grow up dreaming of being the mayor of Mt. Vernon. He is more of a concerned citizen, who happens to be a politician, rather than a politician, who happens to be a citizen.
"If you want to help improve anything, you have to get involved," said Bradley, who is also a father, husband and park ranger.
Bradley became involved in the inner workings of city government in 1996 when he was asked to fill a vacancy on the City Council. After putting some thought into it, Bradley decided that he would fill the vacancy, and try to get something good going for Mt.Vernon.
Soon after, in 1997, the position of mayor was vacated, and Bradley was asked to fill the vacancy.
"I jumped into it," Bradley said. "It's been a learning experience."
The first major project that Bradley jumped into was to organize a plan to meet the growing problem of water distribution and management in Mt. Vernon.
This had been a growing problem since 1994, when it got so bad that the National Guard was deployed to Mt. Vernon to distribute drinking water from water trucks, because the city's water supply had been exhausted.
The water project located wells that could be used to supply drinking water, built new reservoirs and upgraded existing ones, and replaced a large portion of the pipelines under the streets of the city.
Bradley helped to organize the water project, and it was voted on by the citizens of Mt. Vernon, and passed by a large margin.
The funds for this project were provided through a $750,000 grant from the Oregon Economic Community Development Department.
Another project Bradley organized was a committee that cleaned up the city. This included helping citizens get rid of unused cars, washers, dryers, and other things that were sitting in front yards.
"It helped spruce the town up a little bit," Bradley said.
Bradley was also involved in Mt. Vernon's "Paint the Town" program, with some help from the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, which helps provide technical assistance to rural communities. The RCAC selected the city of Mt. Vernon for a two-year pilot program. Its services include providing data on programs that other communities have instituted.
"Paint the Town" is a program in which a senior citizen's house is painted at the city's expense.
Mayor Bradley is working on beautifying downtown Mt. Vernon, with the help of the Oregon Downtown Development Association and an Oregon Department of Transportation Enhancement grant.
The Oregon Downtown Development Association sends architects into small towns to develop a design to beautify downtown.
While the city government has completed many of the programs it has been working on, it isn't finished yet.
"We still have a lot of coals in our fire," Bradley said.
The city government is working on restoring the Mt. Vernon Community Hall, which is in great need of upgrades and repairs. The hall was donated to the city in 1992 by the American Legion, and contains a large amount of memorabilia and trophies from the days when Mt. Vernon still had its own high school. Those items will be put on display in the new addition to the front of the hall.
Property was purchased recently for the purpose of meeting the hall's parking needs.
Bradley is also involved in building a path to connect Clyde Holliday State Park, where he works, with the city of Mt. Vernon.
Bradley, isn't just a politician, or even just a concerned citizen, he is a husband, father, and grandfather. He has three daughters, all of which have grown and moved out of the house, and seven grandchildren.
"They occupy a lot of our time," Bradley said.
Bradley's wife, Mary, is a lifetime resident of Mt. Vernon. Bradley has lived here for more than 30 years. Bradley graduated from Mt. Vernon High School.
He and his wife enjoy camping, riding horses, hunting, and fishing.
Bradley enjoys woodworking, a hobby which he taught to 4-H students for five years.
Bradley is a parks manager for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. He manages several parks, including Clyde Holliday State Park, the Sumpter Dredge, and Unity Lake. With so many parks under his management, he puts in long days.
He began working for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department as a summer job, and then got hired on fulltime as a ranger. He gradually progressed up the ladder from ranger, to team leader, and finally, to park manager.
"I've really enjoyed it," Bradley said.