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Albany Mayor Chuck McLaran, left, and Millersburg Mayor Clayton Wood toast each other on July 25, 2002, after signing a construction and operation contract for a new water treatment plant where the facility would be built.

Albany mayors serve two-year terms, and if you look at the list of more than 50 people who have served the city in that capacity, many don't have tenures that stretch beyond that length of time.

So it says something that Chuck McLaran, who served as the mayor of Albany from 1995 to 2006, racked up a dozen years in that post. McLaran died this week at the age of 85. He remains to this day the Albany mayor with the longest tenure (although the current mayor, Sharon Konopa, now is serving her sixth term and will tie that mark next year).

Here's the takeaway from that: Six times, McLaran made the decision to file for what is often a thankless volunteer job, one that required him to spend thousands of hours at public meetings. That doesn't include the other public appearances that Albany expects of its mayor, who also serves as the city's top ambassador and cheerleader. Our guess is that McLaran probably knew all about this before he tossed his hat in for the first race — but then he did it five more times, even though he then had a much better idea of what the job would entail.

He didn't do this because the job would make him wealthy: The job currently comes with a monthly stipend of a little more than $200, and $50 of that is meant to cover the cost of a home internet connection. 

No, he did it because he wanted to give something back to the city that he made his home. 

McLaran, a Texas native, worked for the FBI in San Diego beginning in 1962 after a stint as a high school teacher in Kerrville, Texas. He and his wife, Julia Kathryn “Kathy” Thomas, eventually settled in North Albany.

This week, people who worked with McLaran praised his diplomatic skills and cited as an example his work with Millersburg Mayor Clayton Wood to create an agreement for a water-treatment plant that both cities use. 

Konopa gave McLaran credit for his work to find the funding to restore the Amtrak train station in downtown Albany, refurbishing a vital hub in Hub City.

McLaran's service to Albany extended beyond City Hall: He served on the board of directors for United Way of Linn County and the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp., chaired the Calapooia District Boy Scouts of America and served on the Albany Planning Commission. 

During the holiday season, McLaran would don a red suit and white beard to play Santa Claus during Rotary Club and city events to hand out presents to children. As it turns out, those presents were just a small portion of the gifts that Chuck McLaran gave to Albany. (mm)

Go, Ducks

Fans of the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers come in two types: Fans of the first type not only root for their team, but actively root against the other team. Fans of the second type generally support state teams, regardless of whether they're Ducks or Beavers, except on those occasions when the two teams face each other.

We're in the latter camp this week, as the Oregon women's basketball team travels to Tampa, Florida as one of the final four teams in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. The team faces powerhouse Baylor today.

Women's basketball is a big deal in the state, with two outstanding programs in Corvallis and Eugene. (Portland State also qualified for the tournament this year.) 

The crowds at last weekend's Portland regional testified to the strength of the women's game in Oregon, and prompted Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano to float a crazy idea that we're 100 percent behind: Let's pitch Portland as a location for a women's Final Four, possibly as early as 2025. (Neither Eugene nor Corvallis has sufficient hotel rooms, but Portland does — and the Moda Center offers adequate seating for the event.) 

Oregon State stepped up to be the host institution for the Portland regional, and now has some of the know-how needed to pull off the event. Other backers would join the effort. It would be a spectacular amount of fun. Let's make it happen. (mm)

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