Memorial signs OK'd by Council

A skateboarder's death will serve as a reminder to others to wear helmets while riding.

Earlier this week, the Ashland City Council approved a new program to install memorial signs to commemorate drivers, bicyclists, skateboarders and others who have died on city streets.

The signs will carry safety messages such as "Wear a helmet when riding" or "Drive sober." They will also say, "In memory of..." with the deceased person's name listed.

In June 2010, 26-year-old Jesse Brandsen crashed on his skateboard as he was traveling down Faith Avenue to visit his mother. He struck his head and later died as an ambulance rushed him to Rogue Valley Medical Center.

Brandsen was not wearing a helmet at the time, despite a city law requiring people to wear helmets while using skateboards.

In May 2011, his mother, Janet Brandsen, asked the Ashland Transportation Commission for permission to install a sign memorializing her son.

The commission then developed a memorial sign policy, which was approved on Tuesday by the City Council.

The Ashland Public Works Department will install the memorial sign on Faith Avenue.

Jesse Brandsen's grandmother, Ruth Wire, said young people often don't want to wear helmets.

"They think it's corny. But we want to encourage them to save their own lives. You never know when you can fall and hit your head," Wire said.

Under the new sign policy adopted by the council, immediate family members or friends of the deceased may submit written requests for a street-side memorial sign. If the request is made by friends, they must have written permission from the deceased person's immediate family.

The applicant must pay for the sign and its installation, which costs about $150 to $200. However, the city of Ashland may choose to sponsor a sign and pay the costs.

City staff members will work with the applicant on the exact wording of each sign.

The sign face will be removed after two years and given to the applicant.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and many cities across the nation have memorial sign programs, according to city staff.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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