Year in Review: City of Forest Grove
Fire consolidation moves closer
Longtime Gaston Fire Chief Roger Mesenbrink retires May 1 and Forest Grove Fire Chief Michael Kinkade steps in to fill that part-time slot.
Already a part-time chief for Cornelius, Kinkade now heads five of the six western Washington County fire agencies (including the rural fire districts of Forest Grove and Cornelius).
After an extensive, half-year analysis of those six agencies, Emergency Services Consulting International concludes last spring that it could save money and improve efficiency by consolidating, with a first step being intergovernmental agreements that put all six fire agencies under the authority of a single chief. Banks Fire District remains the lone holdout.
Changing of the community-service guard
After seven years with the Forest Grove Police Department, community service officer Teresa Kohl retires July 8. Using the department's outreach program to try to fill the void left after the death of her daughter, Kohl typically worked 35 to 40 hours dealing with hoarders, illegal parkers, the homeless and more, as well as organizing department events such as National Night Out. Three months later, Lauren Quinsland takes over the position.
Forest Grove gets new city manager ... and cousin?
After 16 years in Alaska, Hillsboro-area native Jesse VanderZanden returns to western Washington County Aug. 31 to become Forest Groves new city manager, a position that opened up when Michael Sykes stepped down last December.
In his first few days, VanderZanden discovers numerous connections to people and places in Forest Grove, including one with Forest Grove Police Capt. Mike Herb, who apparently shares a mutual cousin thrice removed. Interim city manger Tom Gamble resumes his full-time duties as director for the Parks & Recreation Department.
Times-Litho says goodbye, Tokola says hello
In April, Tokola Properties suggests to the Forest Grove City Council that a luxury apartment plaza would look mighty fine at the corner currently occupied by the abandoned Times-Litho building. By October, all that's left of Times-Litho is 52 years of history and a flat, vacant lot. On Dec. 7, Tokola reveals its ambitious plan: A four-story, mixed-use retail and luxury apartment complex with an underground garage and 78 units of varying sizes. The city council will vote on whether to approve the development agreement in January.
Bob Browning released from prison
Former Forest Grove land-use lawyer Bob Browning gets out of prison Sept. 2 after serving two years, three months for pleading conditional no contest to criminal mistreatment charges related to financial transactions involving his mother and mother-in-law.
His appeal of the convictions is still pending.
Potential enemies cement friendship
Friends of Historic Forest Grove members turn what could have been a nasty feud into a constructive relationship when they invite John Malnerich (right) to an open house at the 160-year-old A.T. Smith House in October. Malnerichs plans to open a concrete plant a few hundred feet from the historic home initially panicked FHFG members, who fired off their concerns and objections in a letter to the city. After sitting down with Malnerich at a city-hosted meeting and hearing him describe various environmental-protection measures at his proposed plant, FHFG President Diane Morris said she found him reasonable and well-intentioned. At the open house, Malnerich toured the house and helped identify the source of the large rocks in the homes foundation: Marine basalt, likely from what is now the Carpenter Creek quarry.
Friends of Historic Forest Grove names new fundraiser
In October, Friends of Historic Forest Grove (FHFG) put on Grave Matters, an interactive memorial tour in Mountain View Memorial Gardens centered around pioneers buried on site. It replaced the annual Historic Homes tour, which was suffering from a lack of volunteers but will return in 2016. FHFG will be presenting a recap of the cemetery tour on Jan. 5, 2016, at 7 p.m. in the Forest Grove Librarys Rogers Room.
FGPD nears impossible dream a fully staffed patrol unit
In December, the Forest Grove Police Department swears in Darren Pomeroy after he completes its long, grueling, invasive application process. Along with Bradley Schuetz and Nicole Freelove (pictured), who were sworn in last September, the three officers could eventually give the FGPD something it hasnt had for decades a fully staffed patrol unit. While funded for 18 patrol officers (not counting three patrol sergeants), FGPD has been running closer to 14 or 15, with help from three recruits who finished the training period this year. To reach full patrol staffing, the three new officers will first need to make it through the nine- to 12-month training period and noone from the current staff can leave. Given that a few officers are considering retirement, the holy grail of full staffing might remain elusive.