With the passing of local business owner Paul Martin on December 17, Cottage Grove lost a small but important part of its community.
Despite owning three businesses in town, Martin was perhaps best known for his classic CG taxi service, and many who relied on the service have wondered about his future since his death.
Fifteen years ago, Martin won a battle with cancer, explained Martin’s daughter, Christina Seeto.
âBut with the chemotherapy and radiation therapy, they caused organ damage specifically to his kidneys and liver. â¦ And ultimately what got it was organ failure from cancer treatments, âshe said. âUnfortunately, with his passing, there will be no more local taxis.â
The loss of taxi service means that some residents will have to find other means of transportation.
Besides the loss of this service, however, Cottage Grove also lost a committed member to its community.
Born in Cottage Grove on September 8, 1948, Martin grew up and lived here until his death.
After graduating from high school, Paul began his career at Bohemia Mill.
He then enlisted in the military and served in Vietnam, receiving high praise.
âWith diligence, determination, loyalty, initiative and perseverance, he led others to accomplish as many accomplishments as possible with distinct credit,â one reads his obituary.
After Vietnam, Martin returned to the factory until his retirement, after which he brought three new businesses to the community: PM Tax Service, CG Classic Taxi, and CG Historical Guns.
In 2002 he worked as a driver at South Lane Wheels and worked for just over six years for the nonprofit, where he was also a dispatcher and accountant.
During this time, he realized that there was a transportation niche to be filled in the Cottage Grove and Creswell areas, and in 2008 he started CG Classic Taxi.
The company pushed the boundaries of what you might call “humble” beginnings. His first taxi was a station wagon, with flair.
âWe actually painted this cab the brightest candy green,â Seeto recalls. âSo it was that candy green station wagon from 1976. And he even put a subsystem with neon lights on it. His whole idea was to attract attention and have that shock effect.
Having just finished his battle with cancer, Martin was enjoying his new lease of life, even sporting a Mohawk hairstyle.
“[Surviving cancer] That’s what led him to live his life and go for it, âSeeto said. âAnd so he started the mohawk and he started the taxi service; he was coordinating the color of his mohawk to go with the holidays – green and red or red, white and blue. Or sometimes it would be hot pink or bright green just for that knockdown. “
Martin’s taxi company has carved out a niche in the community, expanding its service to provide medical transportation with RideSource.
Although popular and relied on by many, it was not a cash cow for Martin.
âIt never made him any money, but he felt like it was a service to the community,â Seeto said. âSo he basically did it for free for people. And it always came from his personal pocket, because he wanted to render a service to the community.
Last month, Martin succumbed to his long battle with organ failure.
With his passing, CG Classic Taxi no longer has its iconic owner to maintain the operation and the business is in the process of being sold to Lane Medical Transport Company. The Eugene-based company will operate in the same CG Classic Taxi building and continue medical transportation services to the region.
Martin also owned the business CG Historical Guns, which her daughter described more as an expression of a collector’s hobby than a business venture.
âMy dad was a huge fan and avid Star Trek collector,â Seeto said. âHe had the largest Star Trek collection in the state of Oregon, but then he sold it and he wanted to start collecting guns. And while he collected guns, his collection kept growing. “
Seeto described his father as an outdoorsman, fond of dance and country western music.
“[He was] always loving to have fun, âshe said. âHe didn’t want to be put down by anything. He didn’t want to deal with any problem. He’d rather give you the shirt off his back than make you pay a dollar for it. He was interested in anything that makes everyone’s life easier. Helping people was more important than earning a dollar.
His commitment to others was also recognized. Martin received the Portland Trail Blazers’ Hometown Hero Award for his years playing Santa in the community.
Martin’s son, Shawn, was born with muscular dystrophy (MD), with a life expectancy of around 15 years.
After Shawn passed away, Martin gave back to the muscular dystrophy community by visiting the homes of families who had children with the genetic condition, dressing as Santa Claus to bring joy to their lives.
âIt was very important for him to honor children with MD,â Seeto said.
At his own request, there is no funeral planned for Martin. However, the family is instead planning a Celebration of Life this summer, details of which will be released at a later date.
For those who would like to join or share anything with his family, contact 541-285-3236. Arrangements are in the funeral chapel and crematorium at Smith Lund Mills.
Martin’s departure also leaves a bit of a void in the community in terms of transportation. His former workplace, South Lane Wheels, remains the only local option and part of the population may have to adjust to a different system.
With ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft having a presence in town, South Lane Wheels has attempted over the past two years to adapt to appease demand for more spontaneous rides.
The association provides door-to-door services by reservation by calling ahead and scheduling a route, which may extend to the Eugene-Springfield area.
There is also its LTD connector service on demand, accessible via an app or by a call to a dispatcher. Also door-to-door, the LTD connector places passengers in an automated queue and takes them anywhere within the city limits of Cottage Grove.
Additionally, a Metro shuttle service is designed for South Lane residents who have destinations outside of the local service area and tends to accommodate those with medical appointments north of Cottage Grove.
Last year, South Lane Wheels also partnered with Umpqua Public Transportation District (UPTD) to launch a pilot program called Lane-Douglas Connector (LDC), which offers free rides between the offices of Eugene and Roseburg Veterans. Affairs.
The LDC makes two round trips on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a single bus operating from 7:38 a.m. to 3:18 p.m.
Between the Eugene VA Clinic and Roseburg VA Medical Center, the connector stops at Peace-Health and Walmart Community Medical Center in Cottage Grove and Ray’s Food in Drain.
The route does not have direct connections with the Lane Transit District or UPTD bus lines.
For advanced trip planning with LDS, passengers can call UPTD at 888-232-8121.
For South Lane Wheels services, passengers can book by calling 541-942-0456.
Because this is a reservation-based service, those who have become accustomed to using a taxi may have to prepare more than usual.
âThey just have to be ready to go,â said Ruth Linoz, Managing Director of South Lane Wheels. âFor future pickup, it must be ready to go and ready to be picked up. “
Linoz said the association expects demand to increase with the loss of CG Classic Taxi and aims to meet needs as they arise.
âWe would like people to know that they are not stuck,â she said.