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the BEST and Worst of 2007

It's been quite the year in West Linn.

From tragedy to triumph, our little community has experienced the spectrum of human emotion in 2007.

Perhaps most ingrained in our minds have been the tragic deaths of a number of our neighbors. Kevin Gilbertson, a father of four and beloved soccer coach, died in a car crash in October. A month later, two popular and vibrant West Linn High School seniors, Daniel Sawyer and Thomas Earhart, died in a head-on collision while the two were en route to visit family in Northern California.

A local float plane pilot also died in a crash on the banks of the Willamette in West Linn. And a West Linn business owner and several family members perished in a floatplane crash in Alaska.

It's truly been trying.

But there have also been some triumphs.

The West Linn High School volleyball team won a state championship to culminate a successful sports year that saw the football team advance to the second round of the playoffs and win its first post season game since 1999 and other successes in baseball, wrestling and track and field.

The city continues to pull itself up from the low point of money embezzlement by a staff member. City Manager Chris Jordan has transformed city hall by bringing on new staff in almost every key department.

And of course, there was the political wrangling that makes news every year. Locally, a hotly contested levy to fund police failed three times, leading to a fallout that will continue well into 2008. And on the state scene - with major local implications - Measure 49 polarized neighbors and fueled debate for the entire fall season. But you don't need to hear it from us. Tidings readers and newsmakers told us what really was important in 2007, and their answers can be found within these pages.

So here's to another interesting year. Happy New Year!

- Dan Itel, editor


Reader's choice: best and worst of 2007

We asked readers and newsmakers to answer six questions on the top stories of 2007. Some answered just a few questions, others all of them. Here are their responses.


DENNIS RICHEY

Dennis Richey is a longtime West Linn resident, former member of the planning commission, neighborhood association president and current member of the police advisory committee.

Top news story:

Police levy goes down twice, and the city council is forced to consider fees.

Top newsmaker:

The West Linn girls' volleyball team.

Biggest surprise:

Lack of voter turnout at local elections.

Biggest disappointment:

The police levy going down because of a lack of voter turnout, despite passing by a good percentage margin.

Unsung hero:

Police Chief Terry Timeus for holding morale together and building up the staff.

Likely biggest story for 2008:

Public safety building urgently needed, council studies plans.


TOM IREY

Irey is a local resident who operates a home-based business as a studio photographer.

Top news story:

Could be no money-trouble stories from, about or within city hall - happy news, I'll call it.

Top newsmaker:

Gramor Development (Central Village).

Biggest surprise:

The Tidings didn't endorse Scott Burgess for city council, which also is my biggest disappointment.

Unsung hero:

Mary Closson (West Linn Chamber of Commerce executive director).

Likely biggest story for 2008:

The future is not mine to see, but maybe there will be more news about the condition of our streets in West Linn and funding solutions.


SUE BRADLEY

Sue Bradley is a longtime local resident and secretary at West Linn High School.

Top news story:

The death of Kevin Gilbertson and the deaths of our two West Linn High School students.

Top newsmaker:

Girls' volleyball team wins the state HS volleyball championship, and the academic volleyball score.

Biggest surprise:

A city employee embezzling our funds.

Biggest disappointment:

I try to not be disappointed too often. I choose to always look forward and hope for the best in everyone and everything.

Unsung hero:

The loss of Nancy Curran. She was definitely my hero. She will be sadly missed by many people.

Likely biggest story for 2008:

The housing market decline in West Linn.


DAVID TURNOY

David Turnoy is a local resident and teacher at Sunset Primary School.

Top news story:

The passage of Measure 49. Residents of our area and the state were smart enough to see that the property rights measure of 2004 needed sensible limits to preserve the quality of life that we all appreciate.

Top newsmaker:

Those who worked to make Measure 49 a reality.

Biggest surprise:

The fact that Measure 50, designed to provide health care to low income children by taxing cigarettes, failed. But perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise when out-of-state tobacco interests spend vast sums to bamboozle the electorate.

Biggest disappointment:

Failure to pass Measure 50.

Unsung hero:

Arden Eby, president of the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Association, for leading negotiations between the union and the school district in a positive way to reach an agreement that rewards teachers fairly while spending taxpayers' money wisely.

Likely biggest story for 2008:

Possible school bond to build new schools, rebuild Sunset Primary, and provide adequate facilities for district alternative programs.


PATTI GALLE

Pattie Galle is a West Linn fund-raiser who has organized such events as Pooch in the Park and efforts to pass the city police levy. She also hosts a cooking show on Willamette Falls Television.

Top news story:

I have to say the police levy. The fact it went round three times and the phenomenal number of people who came out to vote. We learned a lot in that experience.

Top news maker:

Not a person but a movement. Sustainability. You hear that word or green or eco-friendly or recycle in virtually every venue of living today.

Biggest surprise:

I think the biggest surprise was the true condition of the roads in West Linn. Just how big the issue is and what steps we need to take to see the roads are fixed.

Biggest disappointment:

Hands down the failure of the levy. With so many people coming out to vote and 72 percent of the total voters being positive votes, it really hurt deep down to see it fail due to the double majority.

Unsung hero:

Again, hands down, Andy Parks (West Linn finance director)/Chris Jordan (West Linn city manager). You really can't say one without the other. Andy, with Chris's support, I think began the process of bringing a city that was full of defeatism, bunker mentality and running itself broke with no fiscal management to a culture change that brought 50 percent new department heads, strong financial management, the purchase of quality items that are more cost effective and more positive and cohesive staff.

With Chris (and Andy) on board they brought in Terry Timeus, Kirsten Wyatt, Andy Parks, Gene Green, and the new library director.

It doesn't get much better than that. If anyone disagrees they have the professional level of a floor sweeper in a saw dust factory.

Andy Parks gets a four star rating as we got a fantastic budget, many changes to fiscal management, we get to pay our water bills once a month and electronically and now the purchase of new and efficient software. Wow. He is an unsung hero because when the city reaps the rewards of these actions not many people will realize he is the driving force behind much of the positive change.

Biggest news story for 2008:

Patti Galle's cooking show is picked up by the Food Network and she is over heard saying 'West Linn? Where is that?' Okay, okay, I think one of the likely stories will be the confirmation of a new police station, the aquatic center going to vote and the face of the new city council and how that will affect the current momentum.


MIKE GATES

Mike Gates is the West Linn City Council president.

Top news story:

Combined losses of the police levies due solely to the double-majority rule. The direct impact was restructuring the funding for the police department in West Linn. The deeper impacts were moving the city to more reliance on a fee-based funding model sooner than anticipated.

It also exposed the inherent issues with the double-majority voting process. As further consideration as the top story of the year, it was probably the longest lasting story, covering many months, and invoked the most vitriol and passion on all sides (and continues to do so).

Top newsmaker:

If a multiple choice is allowed, I would suggest it is the volunteer spirit of the citizens of West Linn.

Week after week the Tidings has easily found (well, maybe not so easily, but you get my point) a multitude of good-hearted people who spend an enormous number of hours, and often their own resources, to maintain or improve the quality of life of their fellow citizens.

There are standouts on every block. Just do a word search in your own paper for the word 'volunteer' over the last year and see what happens!

Biggest surprise:

Perhaps it would be the state champion West Linn High School volleyball team.

Biggest disappointment:

Refer to No. 1 above. Though the votes cast came to 45 and 43 percent of registered voters (when other electorates were turning out half or less of those numbers), it was not enough to have nearly 80-percent approval.

The biggest frustration was knowing the Elections Division admitted that another 10 percent of the voters either didn't really exist or were ineligible but could not be challenged.

Unsung hero:

Bill Ray, head custodian at West Linn High for decades, and has served as boys soccer coach for freshman and junior varsity teams for almost as long.

His kindnesses and gentle ways have been the kind of anonymous caring and concern that hold the fabric of a community together. Plus, he never complains as the youth pour their daily refuse on the floor for him to pick up. He never chastises others and always has an upbeat attitude.

Likely biggest story for 2008:

Something to do with the 'greening' of West Linn. There are several initiatives afoot, and not just at city hall. The regular ivy pulls at Mary S. Young Park might begin to transform the parks. On the other hand, there is a chance the big deal will be the centennial for Willamette, if the committee is successful with all their plans.


MARGIE WATT

Margie Watt is a West Linn mom.

Top news story:

I was very interested in the compelling pieces Nicole DeCosta (Tidings staff writer) wrote about the family that was hit as they were taking a walk, and how the dad saved the son. I hope they are healthy and doing fine now.

I hope the driver got the help he needed.

Top newsmaker:

The forced eviction of the mobile home residents.

Biggest surprise:

The sad news of the two high school boys killed on Rosemont.

Biggest disappointment:

I was excited to learn about the reconstruction of the outdated strip mall off of 10th street, but was disappointed that it was not going to be used as a hip, charming, area with interesting shops and eating holes. There was so much potential for that to be a chic walkable shopping area.

Unsung heroes:

The two second graders that are focused on raising money for a school in Africa - very inspiring and feel good story.

Likely biggest 2008 story:

West Linn to build new outdoor swim park and tennis center.


JAICE LEONETTI

Jaice Leonetti is a Lake Oswego resident and volunteer with Title 1 schools and Clackamas County CASA.

Top news story:

One particular story did not really stand out in my mind. I really enjoy reading about the good things that people are doing in the community.

Biggest Surprise:

'Nothing.'

Unsung Hero:

I cannot think of anyone in particular. I have met people in the community that do some wonderful things - people at Windermere, people in the Lake Oswego and West Linn Rotary, Liz Dove at Christie Care and local Clackamas County CASA's that are working hard for their kids.


SUSAN and CHUCK MANSFIELD

The Mansfields are former Lake Oswego residents now living in West Linn. She retired this year as the Review-Tidings' office manager; he is a former Milwaukie police chief.

Likely biggest story of 2008:

We think the biggest story of 2008 will be what proceeds now with the West End building.

Biggest disappointment:

A big disappointment in 2007 was the response by some in the community to the accidents that occurred on Rosemont Road. That is a beautiful drive; there are no surprises or crazy turns, just the potential to go very fast.

But I believe all the highly publicized accidents that occurred were due to driver error, not negligence by public officials.

The decorated cross on Rosemont Road is but one reminder to slow down; others are the deer trying to cross the road and the homes that are located close to the road. I got on my soapbox about this one, but I remember how much the article made me think about driving on Rosemont Road (and how sometimes I go beyond the speed limit).

On the same subject, I don't believe I have once seen a law enforcement vehicle on Rosemont Road between Carriage Way and the roundabout other than in response to an incident.

Biggest surprise:

That the Sellwood Bridge was deemed OK for continued use by cars after the Minneapolis-St. Paul bridge collapse.