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The wild ride of 2007, in their words

by: file photo, Gresham Police Officer Lee Graham checks a MAX rider’s pass near the Gresham City Hall platform on Friday, Nov. 23.

Editor's Note: For our annual New Year's Eve edition of The Outlook, we decided to ask local officials and residents what they thought was most newsworthy, who had the biggest impact and who the unsung heroes in our community are. Here is what they had to say:

Mike Weatherby, Fairview Mayor

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: The final commitment by the county to do the railroad and the signaling on 223rd and Sandy. But then I'm just biased because I've been working so hard on it.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: I would really say Shane Bemis. He's really stepped up to the bat on issues that are regional. He's allowed each of the other (East County) mayors to work closer together and enhance our ability to work better.

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: Jim Raze (late former Fairview City Councilor). He involved himself in multiple ways and varying degrees, everything from the historical society to the soccer fields. He was heavily invested in the community in a very caring way. There was real depth in his commitment, and he contributed to all of East County.

Carla Piluso,

Gresham Police Chief

Q: What do you think was the top news story in East County in 2007?

A: The headlines around the public safety summit. The fact that so many members of the community were brought into the room to get down to the brass tacks of the issue and invited to participate in solutions. No sugarcoating.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: I think I would have to say Mayor Bemis.

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: For me, the unsung heroes in East Multnomah County would have to be everyone in law enforcement. Everyone is dealing with issues we've never seen before in East County, and everyone is dealing with them with a great level of professionalism.

Carol Nielsen-Hood, Gresham City Councilor

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: TriMet, unfortunately.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: I'd say our mayor (Shane Bemis).

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: Volunteers. We have a lot of unsung heroes, but without volunteers our community doesn't work. We wouldn't be able to operate.

Travis Stovall, President, Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: The thing that keeps coming to mind is the MAX issue. That really raised Gresham's stature and posture in the region, in that Gresham wasn't just going to sit back.

Q: Who do you think had the biggest impact in East County in 2007?

A: I'd give it to Shane (Bemis).

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County in 2007?

A: I would say one of those is Mark Garber (Outlook publisher) - and not just because I'm talking to you. Mark has been very instrumental in working on things behind the scenes. Robert Brown (chamber's president-elect) is by far an unsung hero, he's been essential. (Troutdale City Councilor) Barb Kyle has done a lot of great things. (State Senator) Laurie Monnes Anderson has gone to bat for us on a number of key issues. Those four individuals are unsung heroes.

Cathy Mitchell, fourth grade teacher at East Orient School

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: Overcrowded classrooms and escalating class sizes due to the surge in development in our area.

We see our schools struggling to find ways to meet the needs of all learners. Oftentimes we do not have the space or the resources to accommodate them. It is like hosting a holiday dinner without enough chairs or food to go around - somehow we have to make it work by taking away a little bit from everybody else.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: Aeylin Summers, curriculum director of the Gresham Barlow School District.

Summers has worked diligently to serve the student and teacher population by tirelessly assessing, evaluating, coordinating, aligning, and ultimately providing the district with new instructional materials/curriculum meant to produce educated citizens of the 21st century. Her ability to network and team with teachers has been an inspiration to many.

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: There is a group of retired ladies - my class refers to them as 'The Grandmas' - who devote more than 10 hours a week of their time to help students in my class.

Marlene Hawes, Annelle Carlson and Pat Turner are dedicated, hard working seniors who, without fail, come to our school and to my classroom to do whatever is needed. I would be lost without them!

Paul Thalofer,

Troutdale mayor

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: The proposed establishment of a FedEx facility on a 78-acre site between Interstate 84 and the Columbia River. Most of the property lies within Troutdale, but a tax-abatement zone extends to adjacent land in Fairview.

There will be 900 to 1,000 employees after five years of operation. It will generate $338,000 in annual tax revenue for Troutdale after the three-year tax abatement. What's good for Troutdale will be good for all of East County because the workers will be buying goods and services out here.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: American Medical Response lifeguards at the Sandy River area at Glenn Otto Park. The Troutdale Boosters and American Medical Response as well as Troutdale officials established the program. Prior to the lifeguards being there, at least one person drowned there every year, sometimes more.

Since Aug. 1999, when they were stationed there, conservatively you can say that program has saved 12 lives. No one has drowned since the lifeguards have been there.

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: School bus drivers, who have to deal with traffic conditions, weather and children's behavior issues.

They're transporting the most precious thing that people have and that's their children, and they're transporting them safely with all these issues.

State Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: Crime on the MAX trains.

People are stopping riding them at night just because of safety concerns. In February, I'm going to introduce legislation regarding safety on the MAX trains that would require TriMet to track and observe safety patterns on MAX trains and MAX platforms and park-and-rides.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: Gresham Mayor Shane T. Bemis who put police on the MAX trains to improve safety and took action on economic development and gang issues.

It's just great to see him walking the talk rather than just talking.

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: Jean DeMaster, executive director of Human Solutions, which fights homelessness and other related problems.

They have done so much for those in need regarding affordable housing. They have brought a lot of services to East County.'

Kathie Minden, Rockwood activist.

She is tenacious about the livability of East County by being such a strong proponent of parks.

Al Sigala, spokesman for Mt. Hood Community College

Q: What do you think was the top news story for East County in 2007?

A: The legislature's ability to fund higher education and kindergarten through 12th grade during a time of budget challenges.

The funding helped keep tuition costs level at Mt. Hood Community College following several years of tuition increases and decreasing state funds. Not increasing tuition this past year assisted thousands of college students in not paying more for their education. We may also be able to attribute a current increase in enrollment at the college to the ability to hold tuition steady.

Q: Who do you feel had the biggest impact on East County in 2007?

A: The newly renovated Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center 50 meter pool is having a major impact on East County's economy. Hotel, motel and restaurant owners are starting to see an influx of new tourists to the area as the Aquatic Center hosts major swimming meets from throughout the country. It has received so much attention in the swimming world, that there is a new effort to bring the 2012 Olympic trials to East County.

Q: Were there any unsung heroes in East County last year?

A: Marv Ogle, one of the founding fathers of Mt. Hood Community College.

Over 40 years later Marv is still here at the college as a foundation board member helping to raise money for scholarships for students. Each year he works with 37 other volunteers to raise funds for students who may not otherwise be able to afford a college education. He has assisted countless number of community members to reach their educational goal. Many of these students may never have the chance to meet Marv, but they have benefited from his work.