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The old Hanson tire shop on Southeast Chapman Place is the site of this year's men's cold weather shelter. 

Andy Cripe, Gazette-Times file

The Corvallis cold weather shelter for men opened for the season on Saturday in its new location on Southeast Chapman Place.

The Nov. 4 opening came a few days later than expected, considering that the men's shelter in Corvallis typically opens around the first of November. The opening day was pushed back because of unexpected delays surrounding the bathrooms in the new facility; finally, city officials gave the OK to open the shelter in the interim with portable toilets and hand-washing stations. It's not an ideal solution, but it's better than leaving the shelter closed as chilly nighttime temperatures descend on the area.

And, actually, it's remarkable how much work has been done in such a short time on the facility, the former Hanson Tire Factory shop. Officials didn't announce until mid-August that the building, owned by Devco Engineering, would be the site of the shelter this season. Work to renovate the building to serve as the shelter proceeded briskly, but the timetable was tight enough that an unexpected bump like the bathroom issues was sufficient to push the project past the projected opening date.

The move to the new location in South Corvallis was prompted by continued complaints from neighbors and businesses about the shelter's old location on Southwest Fourth Street. Eventually, the City Council decided not to provide funding for that site beyond the 2016-17 winter season.

As you might recall, that decision set up a race to find a new location for the shelter, and the race went down to the wire.

But now, even as the shelter, its operators and its patrons settle down into the rhythms of another winter, the clock is ticking again.

That's because Devco Engineering plans to use the building for office space after this season. That's fine; Devco certainly stepped up to the plate for this season as spring slipped into the summer and no location had been announced. The company also contributed $35,000 to the renovation effort. It didn't have to do any of that, but we're grateful that it did.

But it means the search is on again for a location for the cold weather shelter for the 2018-19 season. And if the search for this year's location showed us anything, it's that this can be a challenging proposition. So if we can get a head start on this effort now, all the better. Ideally, when the location on Chapman Place closes down for the season next spring, we'll have a location lined up for the following season. Otherwise, each passing month reduces the margin of error — and, as we have just observed, puts serious time pressure on any renovations the new site will require.

The shelter will be operated this year by volunteers coordinated by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis, and we owe that group thanks as well for shouldering that burden.

Organizers still are seeking volunteers to help staff the shelter this year. If you're interested in taking a crack at that work, and getting a new perspective on the issues surrounding homelessness in Corvallis and Benton County, consider signing up.

For more information, email (mm)

Vote today

You have one last chance today to retrieve your ballot (it might be stuck between a couple of catalogs in that pile of mail you swear you'll get to) and vote. But the clock is ticking: Your ballot must be deposited in one of Benton County's ballot drop-off boxes by 8 p.m.

Most county voters have just one issue on the ballot, a request from the county to renew a levy that helps to pay for certain public safety and health programs. We recommend a "yes" vote. But regardless of how you vote, it won't count if you fail to return your ballot on time. (mm)


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