Education via School of Hard Knocks for Bunny Lincoln

Bunny Lincoln

“Intelligence appears to be one thing that enables a man to get along without education…”Albert Edward Wiggam.

How many teachers do you know that never took one college course yet were very successful in the classroom?

Eagle Point’s principle planner is that individual. But that’s not all. She became Eagle Point’s planner with no background in that field either.

Meet Bunny Lincoln. Perhaps she should have the title of Expert in the school of hard knocks.

Bunny (born Cornelia Warren -the name Bunny was given her before she was born because Warren is a type of rabbit.) Perhaps stretching the name Bunny from Warren (although an authentic breed) gave reason for her to do things just a bit differently.

First, she was married while still in high school, not a common thing then for someone now approaching retirement age.

Bunny was born  in Marin County, Calif. (Bay area), but moved to the tiny town of Etna, a community of some 300, when she was 12.

After marriage she became a volunteer at the school, She continued to be given more and more responsibility and actually spent 20 years teaching Special Education and English in the Etna school system which included a high school. She was self taught.

Following the birth of four children and a divorce, she moved to Oregon where she expected to continue her teaching career. But, much to her surprise, while they liked her and appreciated her teaching background, she was lacking something necessary in the state of Oregon and that was a college degree. It came as quite a shock. But she found work in the Rogue Valley Mall and with Allan Cartography. After being in the valley three years, Bunny learned of an opening in something called a planning department in the town of Eagle Point.

She applied and absolutely wanted the job when she stopped in one of the downtown restaurants and saw a fellow pull up across the street with a trailer loaded down with hay. He crawled out of his truck, where she could see the gun in a rack, and watched as he spit from his chew. ‘It was just like home,” said Lincoln. “I knew I wanted to be in Eagle Point.”

Ken Weaver, who was the city administrator 20 years ago, drove down to Etna to check out this gal’s credentials. It didn’t take long. Everyone he stopped knew her and gave a glowing report. And, today as City Administrator Dave Hussell says.“She seems to know everybody in town, or their relatives, which is a great asset.”

Now it was her turn to learn what a planner did. At that time the city of Eagle Point had a population of about 3,000.

“She has learned how to do it (planning) all herself, which has been extremely valuable,” said Hussell. “She was a huge asset for me coming on board in 1998.”

Since joining the staff, Lincoln has had a definite hand in 40 new single home subdivisions, for a total of 2,400 new homes. There are 29.62 more road miles in the city than there were in 1992. The 1992 population was 3100, today it is 8,530.

“Bunny has been invaluable, largely because of her ability to work with people, to get to the point where decisions can be made,” said Hussell. “This is especially true with her ability to work with developers where they may want something that is inappropriate.”

“As mayor, I can recall when the city had 26-30 projects in all at one time. She is the most organized person I’ve ever known,” said former Mayor Leon Sherman. “A call would come to her desk, she was on top of it and could answer the questions about any one of the projects.”

Some of those projects, including Walmart, several new commercial complexes, three new schools, and a new fire department were among the commercial-type projects. Eagle Point is  a much more vibrant community than it  was 20 years ago.

Lincoln remembers the golf course had been approved just before she joined the city staff. At that time someone told her the golf course would have no affect on the city. “Can you believe that?” she exclaimed.

“The saddest thing about my job has been watching the down turn in the economy and to see what it has done to developers and to our business people. So many have nothing now and not because they were greedy or bad people. Many were and are great people, caught in an awful situation,” said Lincoln as she recalled several names.

“The best thing about my job has been the privilege of working with City Administrator Dave Hussell,” said Lincoln.

“She is one of the best I’ve dealt with. Because she used to be an English teacher, she has been hugely valuable putting together  facts and findings. She has gone through  transportation and park plans,  re-organized them where necessary, done spell check and grammar check,” noted Hussell.

Both Hussell and Sherman agree she came to Eagle Point at an opportune time for the city and for the opportunity for Lincoln to learn the job of a planner. She would ask planners and lawyers and others questions and was able to apply the information. She is the first and until next week, the only planner Eagle Point has ever had.

“Her ability to get emerged when we went through the huge growth was critical,” said Hussell. “We worked well together, I give her most of the credit, without her ability we would have been runover.”

“I was my mother’s daughter. She believed you give back.”  And certainly Bunny Lincoln has done that  in a grand style. She has been president of the Eagle Point Community Association for about 15 years. She started the July 4th Fun Run and the Exotic Dessert (Mar. 10 will be the 19th one) Don’t forget about all the other things the EPCA does that takes leadership– Christmas tree lighting and the banners around town are two of the more obvious. Lincoln has been the Upper Rogue coordinator for Coats for Kids program for nine years and became involved with the Easter Egg Hunt a number of years ago. It is considered one of the best in the valley with 200 to 300 children arriving for 30 seconds of fun each Saturday before Easter.

She collects stuffed animals to give away at Christmas and Easter and whenever a police officer needs one to help a child through a traumatic situation.

“She’s been involved in the community in so many ways,” said Sherman, who also continues to be very supportive of community events.  Sherman believes Lincoln will continue to help in the background but he is not sure exactly what role  she will take. “She has been so organized and can do so much that people have taken her for granted. And often when they want to help she already has it well in control.”

Now that  retirement from the City of Eagle Point is Feb. 29, what will Bunny Lincoln do to occupy those 20 of 24 hours she has been either working on plotting and planning?  Retirement is not in her vocabulary. Having just had successful knee surgery, she is ready to take on several jobs.

First, many have enjoyed her baked goods for a number of years. She is opening a mobile bakery and will soon be baking cottontail cupcakes. She has been involved in importing handmade baskets from Africa and will continue with those. They are ideal for grocery shopping. Cam at The Butcher Shop has them. She hopes to spend more time in Alaska with some of her children and Eagle Point may well see her back behind the podium as a private land use consultant.

Other than that, the “new” knee will mean she is ready to get back on the bike and to take a hike, literally.

“It has been an honor and privilege. I don’t know where my life has gone, I’ve met people and lost people, enjoyed many amazing people who were mentors that are gone now. I think Eagle Point has many good days ahead of it. We just need somebody to take the initiative.”

There will be an open house for Bunny Wednesday, Feb. 29, from 3-5 p.m. at the Ashpole Center. And she will be at the Exotic Dessert auction on Mar. 10 at 7 p.m. at EPHS cafeteria. Skills USA and the Community Association will share this event and share the proceeds as well. Everyone is urged to support both groups by attending and bidding.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

 

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