Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Year in review

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Crews cover linden trees covered with insecticide in the Wilsonville Target parking lot.

The year 2013 was filled with many highs and lows for members of the Wilsonville community.

The city made national headlines after a massive bumblebee kill was found; the city welcomed new faces on city council, on staff and in the police department; economic development grew with new tax increment financing zones and the welcoming of Stream Global with 1,400 jobs; and the community grieved the loss of several members.

Along the way, there were celebrations, milestones and accomplishments. Here is a look back at the stories that dominated our headlines in 2013.

— Lori Hall

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Dead bees littered the ground outside the Wilsonville Target store during a June incident involving insecticides. It was the largest recorded bee kill in U.S. history.

1. Mass bumblebee kill puts city on map

One of the most heavily covered stories in Wilsonville last year centered on an inadvertent mass bumblebee kill involving pesticides. The incident resulted in new restrictions by the state on the neonicotinoid insecticides involved.

The incident first came to light June 15 when shoppers at Target reported finding tens of thousands of dead bees in the store’s parking lot.

News quickly spread to the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a group known for its international bee conservation work, which launched an investigation.

Large-scale deaths of domestic honeybees have been reported in recent years, but among wild pollinators, documented poisoning incidents of this scale are largely unprecedented, according to experts.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture completed its investigations into four separate incidents that resulted in bumblebee deaths this summer in Wilsonville, Hillsboro, West Linn and downtown Portland.

ODA issued six civil penalties totaling $2,886 in connection with the incidents.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville City Councilors Julie Fitzgerald (L) and Susie Stevens are shown here in festive garb at the city-sponsored Reindeer Romp last month. But their first year on the council has shown they are all business when it comes to the issues facing the city and have helped swing the balance of power on that body.

2. New faces on city council

The balance of power on the Wilsonville City Council changed late in 2012 with the election of Susie Stevens and Julie Fitzgerald, both political allies of Mayor Tim Knapp, who also emerged victorious in his re-election race with sitting Councilor Richard Goddard. With Goddard still occupying a seat on the council through 2014, the dynamics of the council changed markedly after the first of the year.

To the regular observer, the first Wilsonville City Council meeting of 2013 probably felt a little routine, a bit humdrum. But behind the scenes, it was a somewhat different story.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville Community Sharing looks poised to extend its relationship with the Frog Pond Church, shown here, despite questions by some in the community over connections with the group's board of directors.

3. Food bank experiences upheaval

Wilsonville Community Sharing is known community-wide for its work on behalf of the homeless, the hungry and those in need. So it was a surprise last year when the group’s search for a new home for its food pantry produced controversy.

From the Spokesman: “There is more than just the grumbling of hungry bellies these days at the Wilsonville Community Sharing food pantry.”

In addition to paying the bills and helping the less fortunate, the group grappled with questions surrounding the ethics of its board of directors, the site selection process for a planned new facility and, finally, the skyrocketing costs to build it.

Later in the year the group’s selection of the Frog Pond Church as its new home and the site of an expanded food pantry further raised eyebrows. Nonetheless, the Wilsonville City Council chose to extend financial assistance to the group for another year after being assured by WCS officials that a new batch of board members and revised policies will prevent further problems.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - In a heavily covered tragedy, an employee at the Wildcat Haven outside Wilsonville was attacked and killed by one of the sanctuary's cougars.

4. Death at the Wildcat Haven

A 36-year-old Portland woman died after being bitten and attacked by a big cat at the Wildcat Haven Sanctuary.

Renee Radziwon served as an animal care technician at the sanctuary and studied at Portland State University. She was dead by the time first responders arrived at the scene.

Clackamas County Deputy Mark Nikolai said the cat was identified as a cougar.

Both Clackamas County deputies and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue personnel were called to Wildcat Haven around 7 p.m. Nov 9.

The local sanctuary founded by Cheryl and Mike Tuller currently sits on less than 8 acres of land in Sherwood. That will change in less than a year when they move into a home 10 times larger — 82 acres — about 40 miles south near Scotts Mill.

Radziwon was the head keeper at the sanctuary for eight years and a certified vet tech. Afterward, allegations surfaced that Radziwon may have been tending to the cats in violation of sanctuary protocol.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The balance of power swung in a conservative direction on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners with the election of former Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow (L) and Tootie Smith of Molalla.

5. County power stays in Wilsonville

“Bruising” doesn’t quite describe the 2012 general election in Clackamas County.

From out of the cauldron, however, Wilsonville resident John Ludlow emerged with a narrow victory in the race for chairman of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

Not only did Ludlow win, he did so at the expense of another former Wilsonville mayor, Charlotte Lehan. The campaign was loud, very public and backed by amounts of outside money unprecedented for a race at this level. In the end, however, the balance of power in the county stayed in the Wilsonville area through 2013 and beyond.

From the Spokesman: “Newly-elected Clackamas County Commission Chair John Ludlow described last November’s election results as a ‘new dawn of a new day’ for local residents, as he and two other newly elected commissioners were sworn into office.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - New Wilsonville Chief of Police James Rhodes gets down and dirty during a K9 unit demonstration at Marquis Wilsonville.

6. City gets new chief of police

After six years there finally was turnover at the top of the ranks in the Wilsonville Police Department.

From the Spokesman: “Now-former Wilsonville Police Chief Nick Watt calls working for the city the pinnacle of his career. On June 17, Watt stepped down from his role as police chief and began the transition to retirement. In his place, Lt. James Rhodes from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office became Wilsonville’s next chief.”

Rhodes began his law enforcement career two decades ago as a reserve officer with the Oregon City Police Department.

“What I’ve always liked,” he said, “is finding something I know little about and then teaching myself, learning and doing it.”

That has applied to his police career, which has included stints in search and rescue, homicide and violent crimes and narcotics. The last included an undercover stint that ended with Rhodes donating a 22-inch ponytail grown for the assignment to Locks of Love.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - After occupying the Wilsonville Visitor Center, shown here, for many years, the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce is moving this month to new digs in north Wilsonville.

7. Chamber moves to north Wilsonville

From the Spokesman: “If there’s such a thing as an amicable divorce, this may well qualify.”

The Wilsonville City Council voted to negotiate a mutual termination of tenancy with the Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce at the Wilsonville Visitor Information Center, thereby signaling the imminent end of an operating agreement between the city and chamber that had been in place for more than a decade.

At the same time, the city intends to continue partnering with the chamber in the growing area of tourism promotion. It just won’t be done at the visitor information center, which the city now intends to convert to a parks and recreation facility, as well as a possible Korean War museum or memorial.

The chamber subsequently found a new home in north Wilsonville in a building it will share with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The addition of Stream Global - and up to 1,400 new employees - is Wilsonville's biggest business story of the year in a 12-month period that has been full of similar successes.

8. Stream Global moves in

The current Wilsonville city administration and council are focused on jobs, jobs and more jobs. And in April they got their wish when Stream Global Services announced it would relocate its Beaverton service center to Wilsonville over the summer.

From the Spokesman: “The move, which was announced by the company March 26, ultimately will bring more than 1,400 jobs to Wilsonville, mostly current employees, by the end of the year.”

The company moved into the former headquarters of Hollywood Video, a 120,000-square-foot facility on Southwest Peyton Lane on the west side of Wilsonville.

Stream provides technical support, customer service and “revenue generation” services for a host of Fortune 1,000 companies.

The Wilsonville chamber also played a key role.

“The chamber was an active participant in this recruitment,” said Steve Gilmore, chamber CEO. “We were pretty confident after our driving tour that they would be coming to Wilsonville. This is a huge win for our retail sector, (which) will have many more people in town to go into their businesses.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The story of 8-year-old Estevan Catalan, who bravely battled an incurable brain tumor earlier this year before succumbing, captivated the Wilsonville community, which responded with an outpouring of affection for the boy and his family.

9. Estevan Catalan named community hero

The tragic story of Wilsonville youth Estevan Catalan gripped the community early in 2013 when his battle with an inoperable brain cancer was publicized. People responded with an outpouring of love and support for the boy and his family. His story also was shared as an example of courage in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

From the Spokesman: “Portland-based Children’s Cancer Association announced its 2013 Community Heroes, a group of 24 children and teens recognized for their exceptional courage, wisdom and grace in the face of serious medical challenges.

Estevan was named one of the heroes.

He passed away May 3. He was survived by two older brothers, Christian and Daniel, and one older sister, Celeste. Together, they loved to laugh and dance silly to the Black Eyed Peas.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - City of Wilsonville employee Candi Garrett shows off her Boston Marathon finisher's medal.

10. Boston Marathon bombing strikes close to home

One of the most publicized stories of the year in America - the bombings at the Boston Marathon - also impacted Wilsonville residents.

From the Spokesman: “For Candi Garrett, a city of Wilsonville employee, the heavy bronze medallion with its royal blue and yellow ribbon always will be a reminder of the day she nearly finished the Boston Marathon.”

At the time, Garrett said the race was her sixth marathon and that she had planned on it being her last.

Instead, she found herself caught up directly in the most notorious terrorist attack on American soil since the Sept. 11 plane hijackings more than 11 years ago.

Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed and 176 injured by a pair of pressure cooker bombs placed near the finish line of the 117th running of the marathon on April 15.

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Wilson family is shown at an awards ceremony earlier this year at which they were awarded the Small Business of the Year award for their work with the family's chain of Napa auto parts stores.

11. Family honored for business accomplishments

From the Spokesman: “Tony and Gail Wilson started their Napa auto parts business in 1987 with a single location in Newberg.

As is the case with many small businesses, the odds were against the Wilsons. But they sacrificed, built a loyal customer base and gradually began to expand.”

Today, the Wilsons are a metro area business fixture, with 15 Napa stores in different towns in Oregon and Southwest Washington, including a Wilsonville institution sitting at the corner of Parkway Avenue and Town Center Loop.

As a result, the Wilsons recently were named Oregon’s Family-owned Business of the Year by the Oregon chapter of the Small Business Administration. They were presented with the award May 20 at a Small Business Week awards ceremony at the Portland Art Museum.

“There’s a lot of small businesses out there, and they’re equally deserving,” Wilson said. “For us to get it was a great honor.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - News surrounding the city of Wilsonville's Willamette River Water Treatment Plant, shown here, and future plans to supply the city of Hillsboro and other entities with water ranked highly on this year's list of significant events.

12. Long-term water plans set in motion

Water is one of the keys to future development in the metro area, and Wilsonville is already well placed to be a major player. The year 2013 saw the start of what could eventually turn out to be a major expansion of the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant, part of a long-term plan to supply the cities of Sherwood, Hillsboro and others with water in the future.

From the Spokesman: “It’s going to be well more than a decade and a billion-plus dollars from now, but planning has now moved to a higher gear with regard to the long-awaited expansion of Wilsonville’s Willamette River Water Treatment Plant.”

In June, the Wilsonville City Council met with officials from the city of Hillsboro and the Tualatin Valley Water District and heard more detail about the former’s plan to eventually draw water from the Willamette and pipe it north across Washington County.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Memorial Park is currently having its parking lot overhauled, due to water damage like that shown in this photo.

13. Memorial Park gets overhaul

From the Spokesman: “Wilsonville’s Memorial Park will be getting a significant makeover as early as Labor Day. The Wilsonville City Council voted Monday, Feb. 4, to award a $149,000 engineering contract to Wallis Engineering of Vancouver, Wash. The contract will cover planning for the overhaul of the parking lot at the 126-acre city park that runs along the banks of the Willamette River.”

Groundwater and storm water runoff at Memorial Park have damaged the asphalt in the parking lot to the extent where immediate replacement now was deemed required. The cost of the construction itself was estimated in the $600,000-$750,000 range.

Work is currently underway at the park and should be finished sometime after the first of the year.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The South Metro Area Regional Transit agency unveiled a new $6.5 million maintenance facility and operations center.

14. SMART unveils $6.5 million headquarters

From the Spokesman: “SMART Director Stephan Lashbrook is hard-pressed to find any downside to his agency’s new $6.5 million operations and maintenance facility near the corner of Southwest Boberg and Barber streets in Wilsonville.”

The new 12,500-square-foot facility has been in the works for several years and finally opened to the public at a Feb. 26 open house event.

The new facility has two separate wings, one for administration, the other for maintenance. The latter features four work bays, space for parts, tools, tire storage, a welding area, office area, break room and restrooms. It has a 35- space parking lot in front and a 45,000-square-foot bus parking and maneuvering area behind the building that includes fueling stations for diesel as well as SMART’s new compressed natural gas-powered short buses.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville's new TIF Zones cover six individal properties, including the former Hollywood Video distribution center in north Wilsonville, shown here.

15. Voters approve TIF zones

From the Spokesman: “Wilsonville voters, all 29.5 percent of them, overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure ... that will allow the city to offer property tax rebates to companies that invest in one of six select commercial properties within city limits.”

Ballot Measure 3-421 allows the city of Wilsonville to refund up to 75 percent of taxes levied over a three-year period on any of six currently vacant buildings more than 100,000 square feet in size.

Under the measure, a company can qualify for tax rebates by putting at least $25 million into capital improvements and creating at least 75 full-time jobs that pay at least 125 percent of the average Clackamas County wage.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - New city of Wilsonville Parks Director Stan Sherer.

16. City’s first parks and rec director hired

Signaling a new direction, the city of Wilsonville not only formed a parks and recreation department last year but also hired its first parks and recreation director and announced plans for yet another aquatic center/community center feasibility study.

Stan Sherer’s position merges responsibilities formerly shared by multiple city departments, including community services and public works.

Sherer started work in June and has a 38-year career in municipal parks and recreation management.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The new World of Speed car museum in Wilsonville plans to show off exotic racers such as this Ford Mustang, restored last fall by Autotopia for the museum.

17. Car museum announced

World of Speed, a nonprofit group headed by Tony Thacker, a former Southern California auto racing entrepreneur, will soon be taking up residence in what was the Wilsonville Town and Country Jeep Dodge dealership off Southwest 95th Avenue.

World of Speed purchased the 80,000-square-foot facility from Town and Country following lengthy negotiations. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but county records indicate the property was sold on April 25 for $7.15 million.

The museum is currently scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue opened a new fire station and operations center in Wilsonville last fall.

18. TVF&R opens new station

From the Spokesman: “For the crews that will man it, the best thing about Wilsonville’s new fire station is the fact they won’t be living in temporary quarters anymore.

The new two-story facility is state of the art and quite comfortable, but the pair of ancient Quonset huts that formerly served as the temporary home of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Station No. 56 will not be missed.”

Firefighting personnel started moving in and working out of the station Aug. 21, while operations center staff actually began working there in mid-July. The station was officially unveiled to the public at an October open house.

A $77.5 million general obligation bond approved by fire district voters in 2006 provided the funding for the $6.5 million station.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - This teenager was let go with a warning a year ago during a ridealong with the Wilsonville Police carried out by the Spokesman. In 2013, however, he would have met with a very different outcome.

19. Crime spree leads to crackdown

From the Spokesman: “Some residents may not have noticed. But those in certain Wilsonville neighborhoods certainly were affected by a summer crime wave that led local police to ratchet up enforcement on juvenile curfew offenders.”

According to Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Lt. James Rhodes, who serves as chief of the Wilsonville Police Department, the city “experienced an acute and severe, a profound increase, in crime,” between May and August.

A number of portable toilets on public property were set on fire, along with a number of garbage cans. Vehicles were shot with air guns firing BBs, while other objects were reportedly thrown at vehicles regularly enough to merit police attention.

After June, that changed dramatically. Instead of a lift home or a talking-to, police began automatically transporting juveniles found in violation of curfew to a county-run youth detention facility in Oregon City.

By the time July rolled around, Wilsonville officers had taken 15 juveniles to Oregon City, where their parents were required to pick them up. Reported crimes dropped from 46 in June to 19 in July.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Boeckman Bridge finally re-opened to vehicle traffic in November after two years of problems involving the bridge settling into soft soil.

20. Boeckman Bridge reopens

Wilsonville’s much-maligned Boeckman Bridge finally re-opened near the end of 2013, re-establishing an east-west crossing above Interstate 5 in the middle of the city.

From the Spokesman: “It took place on a Monday, with relatively little fanfare. But it probably won’t be long before the effects are felt in full across Wilsonville.”

Southwest Boeckman Road reopened Nov. 25 where the roadway crosses the Coffee Creek wetland. The first cars moved across the newly renovated bridge, and just like that, more than two years of heartburn for the city and its residents alike was over.

The news likely was welcomed by local residents who long since have grown accustomed to the detour around Boeckman Road to either end of Wilsonville.

After two years of frustration with the bridge, which settled into the soft wetland soil much deeper than expected, the city still wants to keep a lid on expectations, however.

“We’re not trying to draw attention to it,” quipped City Manager Bryan Cosgrove.




Local Weather

Fair

48°F

Wilsonville

Fair

Humidity: 86%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 20 Apr 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 68°F 46°F

  • 21 Apr 2014

    Showers 64°F 42°F