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Year in review: 2013

A look back at the biggest stories of the last 12 months


January

North Plains composting stench debate continues

Recology officials talked about diverting commercial food waste from the company’s composting plant in North Plains to reduce offensive odors.

Recology officials had thought that about $5 million worth of improvements to their Nature’s Needs composting plant would reduce the odors, but local residents continued to complain and Washington County’s commissioners balked at extending the company’s permit to process food waste at the plant. So Recology considered diverting commercial food waste to another location for processing.

The possible change was one of several proposals scheduled to be discussed before the Washington County Commission at a January work session. Commissioners voted unanimously to renew the company’s permit.

Off-duty Hillsboro Police officer opens fire on police in Forest Grove standoff

Hillsboro police officer Timothy Cannon opened fire at police Jan. 20 during a standoff with officers at his Forest Grove home.

Officers from three county agencies responded to a 911 call from Cannon’s wife, Lisa Cannon, who had barricaded herself and the couple’s young daughter in an upstairs bathroom after a domestic disturbance spiraled out of control. No one was killed in the 80-minute confrontation, but Cannon and another officer received non-life-threatening injuries.

Cannon resigned from the Hillsboro Police Department two days after the incident. He is charged with aggravated attempted murder, unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated first-degree animal abuse, fourth-degree assault and harassment. Ten officers are named as victims in the case. He pleaded not guilty to all charges last February.

His trial is set for June 6, 2014.

February

Search is on for additional water for Hillsboro; Willamette River a likely source

Hillsboro gets most of its water from Hagg Lake in the summer. But growing demand is projected to surpass that supply by 2030 or so. Earthquake concerns have postponed plans to raise Scoggins Dam to supply the additional water. So city officials are looking for a secondary source. The front-runner is the Willamette River, from which Wilsonville and Sherwood already get their water.

In April, Tualatin Valley Water District approved a deal with Hillsboro to draw water from the Willamette to meet the city’s increasing demand for water.

Infrastructure upgrades will need to be made and the city could start using Willamette River water in 2026.

March

Hillsboro Tribune begins publishing weekly

The Hillsboro Tribune, which was launched in September 2012 as a twice-monthly newspaper, went weekly on March 8.

“Our readers were asking for a weekly paper since the first issue hit the streets,” said publisher John Schrag.

With the change, several staffing changes were unveiled: Effective March 1, Nancy Townsley was promoted to managing editor; Doug Burkhardt was brought in as associate editor; and Amanda Miles stepped in as the Hillsboro Tribune’s new sports editor.

Hillsboro Police Chief Carey Sullivan resigns

After only 30 months as Hillsboro’s top cop, Police Chief Carey Sullivan resigned, launching a search for a new chief that would stretch into 2014.

“I have reached the difficult decision to resign from my position with the city ... in order to pursue other interests,” Sullivan wrote in a March 2 resignation letter addressed to City Manager Michael Brown.

A subsequent survey discovered morale within the Hillsboro Police Department was low, given the widespread belief that Sullivan was not communicating well with the officers in his command and did not appear to have their support.

Renaissance Fest comes to town

Hillsboro will host an annual Oregon Renaissance Festival at the Washington County Fair Complex in Hillsboro.

Minneapolis-based Renaissance Touring Co. announced it will bring the festival to town for six weekends, beginning Aug. 24.

After Washington County officials balked at the idea back in 2006 of granting a 30-year lease of prime fairground space, the company shopped the idea to officials in Linn County and later, Puyallup, Wash.

When those proposals also fell flat, the company came back to Washington County, hoping to consider new ideas. Once Renaissance Touring Co. agreed to a temporary village rather than building permanent structures, a plan came together relatively quickly.

April

Locals safe after Boston Marathon

The April 15 dual explosions at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon represented a cruel flashback for Hillsboro resident Jenny Langmann, who was there to watch her sister compete in the legendary footrace.

As it turned out, 40-year-old Toby Nishikawa of Utah — who ran in Boston 11 months after a horrific bicycle accident last May in which she broke nine bones — was one of the lucky ones.

She completed the 26.2-mile course 16 minutes before the first bomb went off in Copley Square, creating chaos at the packed finish line on Boylston Street.

A pair of Forest Grove runners, mother and son Elena Parker and Grayson Penfield, were also unharmed.

School officials begin budget process; looking at teacher layoffs

In what has become a sobering spring ritual, Hillsboro School District officials outlined $8.57 million in potential budget reductions for the 2013-14 school year, including cutting 50 teaching positions.

Cutting 50 teachers would save the district $4.1 million.

The dismal news improved during the budget process when the state Legislature voted to commit more money to schools and the city and county promised a portion of Gain Share money would go to schools countywide.

May

Brown Middle School celebrates 50 years

Brown Middle School celebrated its 50th anniversary in style with a fresh mural on the gymnasium wall.

In 1965, two years after what is now R.A. Brown Middle School opened, the north wall of the still-new gymnasium was adorned with an artistic image of a prowling panther balancing over the slogan, “Be better tomorrow than you are today.”

On May 10, Brown Middle School — which opened as East Hillsboro Junior High School in 1963 — students watched as a new wall mural created by seventh-grader Grace Strid was unveiled.

The mural features a leaner, leaping panther above a new, retooled slogan: “Building futures since 1963.”

Shute Park Library remodeled

Public officials swinging sledgehammers signaled a beginning and an end. The Shute Park Library closed for remodeling after Mayor Jerry Willey and Library Director Mike Smith began its demolition. The 15,000-square-foot library was gutted to a shell and will get new windows, a new roof, new plumbing and electrical systems, new heating and cooling technology and a retrofit of the entire building for better earthquake survivability.

The entrance will be moved from the south side of the building to the west side. The library is slated to reopen in March.

Murder-suicide shatters weekend calm

A husband and wife died in an apparent murder-suicide May 26 that also left a male roommate wounded.

Officials with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office believe Kenneth Van Patten, 61, killed his wife, Melinda Van Patten, 56, in their home outside Hillsboro at 5355 S.W. River Road in unincorporated Washington County.

Kenneth also allegedly shot Glen Hamilton, 56, before turning the gun on himself. Hamilton, who was living in the house, fled to a neighbor’s home with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.

According to WCSO spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray, deputies responded to a Sunday, May 26, call that Kenneth Van Patten, 61, and Melinda Van Patten, 56, were arguing over getting a divorce.

Ray said Melinda Van Patten was apparently involved with the roommate, Glen Hamilton, 56.

June

New ball team comes to town

Hillsboro welcomed its new single-A short season baseball team, the Hillsboro Hops, with a sold-out game June 17. The Hops opened their first home stand with a 12-0 shellacking of the Eugene Emeralds.

The Hops are an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks and play at the new Hillsboro Ballpark adjacent to the Hillsboro Stadium. Veteran baseball radio announcer Rich Burk calls the games for the Hops.

Bee deaths raise ire

Residents expressed sadness and ire at a bumblebee die-off along Washington Street. In March, the city sprayed approximately 200 trees of different varieties in the downtown area with the pesticide “Safari.” The application was designed to fight aphids, which secrete a sticky sap.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Xerces Society were called to help determine the bees’ cause of death.

“We take bees very seriously in Hillsboro,” the city’s Public Affairs Manager Patrick Preston said.

July

SolarWorld axes 100 jobs in restructuring plan

SolarWorld notified the State of Oregon that it intends to lay off approximately 100 employees at its Hillsboro solar panel manufacturing plant.

Ben Santarris, the company’s head of public relations, says the layoffs represent the final phase of an operational restructuring plan that began in February. Santarris says the company expects to employ around 650 workers at the plant after the restructuring is complete.

According to Santarris, restructuring plans are in response to what he terms “illegal” competition from Chinese manufacturers who are selling solar products below cost in the United States and Europe.

August

Airshow, county fair on same weekend

The Oregon International Air Show and the Washington County Fair were held the same weekend — right across the street from each other. The two big events, which draw large crowds, were scheduled the same weekend for the first time ever. Air Show organizers set the date to fit the Blue Angels’ schedule, but the Blue Angels ended up canceling its appearance due to federal budget cuts.

At the Washington County Fair, attendance dropped by 9 percent from last year. Animal exhibits attracted hundreds and competitions went smoothly even as jets roared over the airport across the street. Despite the anticipated problems stemming from the double-booking, fair manager Leah Perkins-Hagele said there were no issues.

Kaiser Westside Hospital and Medical Center opens

Kaiser Westside Medical Center opened Aug. 6, the first new hospital in Washington County in 40 years.

The state-of-the-art facility, located on Stucki Avenue in Tanasbourne, has 126 beds, eight operating rooms and 27 emergency treatment rooms.

The facility employs approximately 1,000 people.

Citizens unhappy with proposed TV Highway strip club

Hillsboro residents living in a small neighborhood just north of The Cooler Club on Tualatin Valley Highway are upset about reports the former tavern is planning to reopen as a strip club named Gems.

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that free speech provisions of the state constitution protect nude dancing, and Oregon voters have repeatedly defeated proposed constitutional amendments to allow local governments to regulate adult businesses at the ballot box.

Gems opened this fall.

Motorist charged with manslaughter

A Washington County grand jury returned an indictment against a Hillsboro motorist who crashed into a residential yard in Aloha earlier this year, striking and killing 11-year-old Kylie Hornych. On Aug. 22, the grand jury handed down a secret indictment charging David Alan Herman, 59, with second-degree manslaughter and reckless driving. Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Herman at his Hillsboro residence Aug. 23.

The arrest comes in the wake of the fatal collision on April 4 that took the young girl’s life. Herman entered a “not guilty” plea.

September

Man dies in gorge fall

Michael A. Cigler, a 29-year-old Hillsboro resident, died Sept. 1 after falling from near the top of the Angel’s Rest trail in the Columbia River Gorge east of Corbett.

Hillsboro man Ryan Horn missing

Family members joined law enforcement officials in the effort to find missing Hillsboro man Ryan Horn, 28. Horn left home driving his 2004 Ford Ranger pick-up truck on Aug. 28 and his family believed he was carrying a firearm.

Horn, who worked at Genentech Inc., was under a doctor’s care for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Searchers focused their efforts on finding Horn in the Tillamook Forest near Banks.

Citizens blast Intel over emissions

Speaker after speaker came to the microphone at the Hillsboro Civic Center to offer testimony about emissions from Intel’s semi-conductor manufacturing plants in Hillsboro and Aloha.

The event, sponsored by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), was a formal public hearing to allow citizens to comment on Intel’s proposed new “Title V air quality permit.” With its local operations expanding, Intel is seeking regulatory authority to “establish new plant site emission limits” for fluorides and greenhouse gases, and proposes to increase emission limits for volatile organic compounds.

At the hearing, which stretched well over two hours, 18 citizens offered testimony, virtually all of them speaking in opposition to Intel’s request.

Banks to Tillamook trail proposed

Dual meetings in Tillamook and Banks formally launched a planning process to determine if there is sufficient interest — and whether it is economically feasible — to create a hiking, biking and equestrian trail that would directly connect Banks with the Oregon coast.

The proposed trail would follow an existing railroad corridor between Banks and Tillamook by way of Manning, Timber, Wheeler and Rockaway Beach. Owned by the Port of Tillamook Bay, the rail line has been mostly out of service since severe storms hit the Coast Range in December 2007.

October

Ryan Horn found dead

After 40 days waiting for answers, the family of missing Hillsboro man Ryan Ross Horn, 28, learned Oct. 8 that he had been found dead near Buxton.

Horn’s red Ford pickup was discovered that morning by a man hunting for his dog on a logging road off Highway 47, west of the Sunset Highway near Buxton, authorities said. His body was found nearby.

“Our hearts are absolutely broken,” said Horn’s sister, Jessica Horn Bledsoe of Cornelius.

Washington County sheriff’s deputies located Horn’s body about 60 yards from his truck in a grassy, recessed area near a creek south of Stub Stewart State Park, said Hillsboro Police Det. Marth Bual, who led the month-and-a-half-long investigation into the disappearance.

A handgun was found near the body. Police do not suspect foul play.

City narrows police chief search to final five

On Oct. 17, the city of Hillsboro announced it had narrowed its search for a new police chief for the Hillsboro Police Department to five final candidates. In all, the city reported it had received 62 applications for the position from candidates in 17 states.

Hillsboro has been without a full-time police chief since the March 9 resignation of Carey Sullivan, who had been hired to serve as Hillsboro’s chief in 2010.

November

Man opens fire at officer during traffic stop

A Hillsboro police officer is fortunate to be alive after a passenger in a vehicle, which was pulled over in a traffic stop on 13th Avenue near Maple Street, opened fire with a handgun.

As officer Tina Latendresse approached the car — described as a green 1992 Honda Accord — and began talking with its occupants, a man in the front passenger seat allegedly pulled out a .22-caliber revolver and began firing at Latendresse.

Officer Latendresse was able to pull back and get away from the car and the suspect’s bullets missed her. At the same time, Latendresse’s partner, officer Will Blood, returned fire with his handgun.

The suspect was later identified as Victor Torres-Elizondo, also known as Victor Torres, 30, most recently of Woodburn and Forest Grove

Torres was hit by at least one bullet fired from Blood’s service weapon. He was transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where he later died from his wounds.

Officer Latendresse suffered an injury to her hand from shrapnel from one of the suspect’s bullets.

Voters reject school bond

It was a rough night for the Hillsboro School District, as voters rejected Measure 34-206, the district’s proposed general obligation bond.

The measure would have authorized raising $25 million over a five-year period to purchase new instructional technology equipment, pay for safety enhancements and cover the expense of maintenance projects on school buildings around the district.

The measure was defeated 54 percent to 46 percent.

Citizens blast WalMart plans — again

When it comes to the community’s views on WalMart locating on Cornelius Pass Road in Hillsboro, not much has changed in 10 years.

On Nov. 13, more than 100 citizens turned out for a Hillsboro Planning Commission public hearing that stretched more than four hours. The commission called the meeting to take testimony on a proposal to create a mixed-use development anchored by a 50,000-square-foot WalMart “neighborhood market,” and as had been the case in 2003, the public appeared to be overwhelmingly against the concept.

The commission denied a permit for a WalMart “superstore” at the same location a decade ago.

December

Cold weather shelters open as temperatures plummet

A forecast that called for freezing temperatures had a pair of severe weather shelters in western Washington County opening their doors to people without homes of their own.

Starting Dec. 2, when temperatures began to fall into the 20s and 30s, shelters at the Sonrise Church in Hillsboro and the United Church of Christ in Forest Grove were staffed and open for business.

Police chief search down to two

One more of the original 62 candidates to be Hillsboro’s police chief was advised he was no longer in the running for the job.

David Kirby, undersheriff for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, was dropped, leaving two final candidates: Lee Dobrowolski, the deputy chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department, and Brian Martinek, who serves as executive director of the Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center of the Portland Police Bureau.

The city hopes to have a new chief on the job early in 2014.

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