Quick, eventful year now is coming to a close
Piece o' cake. At least, that's what I thought the Lake Oswego Review city reporter job would be.
Turns out, this newspaper's city beat is no cake walk.
The first sign that I would have my hands full was when I was asked to cover a newly formed group called Ask Lake Oswegans last May.
Former Mayor Bill Klammer and former city Councilor Bob Chizum were gathering signatures at Albertson's, and I met up to see what the fuss was about.
They opposed the city's purchase of the Safeco building on Kruse Way, and wanted the city to sell it. Months later, their ballot measure went down decisively but the experience proved to me that local residents are willing to draw battle lines when they're passionate about an issue.
The Safeco building issue, alone, has kept me busy for the last year.
But there has been no shortage of other compelling issues: The $100 million sewer interceptor project; the downtown to Lake Oswego streetcar; the city of Tigard/Lake Oswego water supply study; the council's passage of the Lake Grove Village Plan, and the resignation and replacement of City Manager Doug Schmitz.
I didn't expect Lake Oswego to be that exciting. I came to the Review about a year ago, after covering architecture and city hall in Seattle for nine years at the Daily Journal of Commerce.
It seems that the action followed me south.
The last year saw the alleged murder of Frederick Stephens III, two separate incidents in which cars plowed through businesses' front windows at Lake Place, the passing of KATU anchor and LO resident Richard Ross and Robert Chizum.
Grizzly crimes and accident stories, however, don't have the same impact on me as more positive stories.
On a lazy afternoon last summer here at the Review, Tom Grigg strolled into the office to tell us about how he had married his Lake Oswego High School sweetheart, Lita Schiel. I hopped up and asked Tom if he would let me do a story about their reunion after four decades of leading separate lives.
What followed was a wonderful experience for me, as the married Griggs let me tag along while they toured Oswego Lake.
'When I was 15 years old I thought love could not be any greater, but I know now I am glad I am not 15,' Lita wrote me a few months later. 'Who would have known at that time that love could have had much greater depth and meaning 46 years later?'
She keeps in touch as she travels the world with Tom - sometimes writing from Lake Tahoe, and other times from gems like Cinque Terre on the Italian Mediterranean coast.
Lita often closes her e-mails with 'Life is good, Sam.'
In addition to Lita, there is Rita.
Rita Sandler, a local psychic who strives to teach us that we control our realities, came into the Review's radar when we heard she would be doing dog 'consultations' at Bone-Jour GourMutt Bakery in West Linn.
Rita kindly 'read' my dog, Edward, in December last year for a story about her. She surmised that Edward is my devoted guardian, but also feels a sense of duty as a watchdog at my parents' home.
I still speak with Rita. She recently reminded me that 'This is an auspicious time for you and new beginnings.'
That brings me to the point of this column.
On Monday, April 7, I join the staff of the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce. I will be covering architecture, engineering, urban design and sustainability.
It will be a change of pace, after my year with the Review. The DJC position is a return to one of my passions: Writing about architecture.
But being with the Review has been another unforgettable experience. In my 20-year journalism career, I've been lucky to work in places where I spent time as a youth, including Bend, Seaside and Seattle.
My parents moved to Lake Oswego in 1965, and a few years later moved to Dunthorpe. They still come here several times a week to shop at Wizer's and frequent the Farmer's Market. I'm sure that I will do the same in coming years.
It has been a quick, eventful year. I've appreciated the willingness of my sources - from Mayor Judie Hammerstad to Ask Lake Oswegans' spokesperson John Surrett - to speak candidly on important issues.
Compared with my first week at the Review a year ago, this has been a slow news week in Lake Oswego.
Seems that my one-year tenure at the Review came in like a lion and went out like a lamb.
After Friday, Sam Bennett can be reached through his personal e-mail at [email protected]