Carol Carlson, Janet Troy and Brian Almquist honored for years of community service
By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news
Three people were honored for their contributions to Ashland during the annual city town hall on Wednesday in Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University.
Award recipients were introduced with speeches, given a small gift and shook the hands of Ashland city councilors as they were applauded by town hall attendees.
Ashland residents Carol Carlson and Janet Troy were chosen for the James M. Ragland Volunteer Spirit Community Service Award.
Mayor Tonya Graham referred to Carlson as a “visionary” and “the mother of all community gardens,” in the region for her decades of work organizing and promoting gardening in Ashland.
Carlson co-founded the first community garden in the Rogue Valley over 20 years ago. Then called the Ashland Community Garden, its name is now the Ashland Creek Community Garden.
Carlson used her certification as a master gardener to teach classes and staff the master gardener booth at the grower’s market. She served on the Ashland Conservation Commission, established and maintained the community garden’s greenhouse and distributed truckloads of organic compost as well as beneficial nematodes to other gardeners. Carlson was always eager to help other gardeners, from warning of coming frosts to working the garden beds of those with physical limitations, Graham said.
The Ashland Creek Community Garden now distributes extra produce to community members and the Ashland Food Bank, Graham said. Helman Elementary School kindergarteners also come to plant seeds at the garden every year to “encourage a lifelong love of gardening and appreciation for the natural world,” she said.
Janet Troy was recognized for 14 years of volunteer service oriented to women, children and families through her work with the Ashland Rotary Club and other organizations.
Troy has been an active member of Ashland Rotary 2009, becoming its president in 2023 and previously serving as program committee chair and board secretary. Troy is also a member of a variety of committees within the Ashland Rotary Club, including budget, circle of friends, fundraising, membership, nominating, social and membership engagement, Rogue community service, district Polio Plus society and the district club presidents.
Troy is also a member of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of University Women, and for 14 years was the executive director of the Ashland Community Health Foundation (formerly the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation).
She has helped organize community service projects, such as the Easter egg hunt in Lithia Park, Ashland Reads and raising awareness for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Graham said.
Brian Almquist was chosen for the Alan C. Bates Public Service Award in recognition of his 40 year career of public service.
Almquist was the Ashland City Administrator from 1970 to 1998, serving five mayors and 53 council members, Graham said.
In his career with the city of Ashland, Almquist was successful in a variety of projects from creating parks and disaster management.
He negotiated the city’s original electric power contract with Bonneville Power Administration and managed a downtown beautification project to install new sidewalks, planters, street trees and lighting. Through creating the opportunity for helicopter logging to thin Ashland’s forests, Almquist was able to obtain land that would have been clear cut and instead became Siskiyou Mountain Park at no cost to the city, Graham said.
He managed the city’s response to the 1974 and 1997 floods, initiated the campaign and helped negotiate the contract to purchase Mt. Ashland Ski Area when the operator announced it would be closed. Almquist also helped establish Ashland Fiber Network and RVTV.
Almquist has also been involved in various organization and volunteer work, including as a member of the League of Oregon Cities Legislative committee, as president of the Northwest Public Power Association, the Oregon City County Managers Association and the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation board. He has also been a member of the Ashland Rotary Club since 1977, Graham said.
Former Ashland Mayor Cathy Shaw spoke about the actions Almquist took to make Ashland the city it is today — from the big projects to the little things.
“I never walked across the Plaza with Brian when he did not stoop to pick up a piece of litter,” Shaw said.
She credited Almquist’s vision for a “European model for our downtown” as the foundation for the feeling and appearance of downtown Ashland today. Almquist kept fast food chains out of downtown and instead championed not only the farmers market but outdoor eating areas along Guanajuato way and Ashland Creek, she said.
“We should thank him as we enjoy a meal on a hot summer day in that magic park,” she said.
Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at firstname.lastname@example.org.