2018 Year in Review
The city of Hillsboro has seen a lot of change over the past year and is expected to see even more next year as it continues to grow with new homes, new facilities, and with them, more people in 2019.
Here are just a few of the stories that had Hillsboro residents talking in 2018.
One day brings three bus crashes
The year began as a seemingly unfortunate time to be a Hillsboro School District bus driver. On Jan. 11, three separate crashes involving Hillsboro school buses took place on the same day.
One of the three occurred when a tree fell onto a bus carrying McKinney Elementary School students. About 30 students were on the bus at the time a tree at Southwest First Avenue and Walnut Street toppled over, knocking down power lines and crashing onto the school bus. No serious injuries were reported in the crash, but the force of the impact shattered several windows, leaving one student with a small cut on one ear and another with a small cut on the hand.
A second crash occurred earlier that morning when a bus of Liberty High School students was struck near the intersection of Northeast Shute Road and Brookwood Parkway near Evergreen Parkway. No injuries were reported in that crash. And lastly, a third crash that afternoon involved a — thankfully, empty — school bus near 209th Avenue and Tualatin Valley Highway.
Hillsboro to begin new community park
On Feb. 20, the Hillsboro City Council approved a $3.5 million contract for architects to begin designing the city's second recreation center on property near 53rd Avenue Community Park, near Baseline Street. The years-long plan to build a two-story community center in central Hillsboro, aimed at drawing visitors from across the city, finally began to see the light.
The $35 million community center is expected to be the largest Parks & Recreation project in the city's history. The center is still projected to break ground in 2019, likely in late spring or early summer, and is expected to take 18 months to complete.
Contraceptives approved for Century clinic
On Feb. 27, the Hillsboro School Board passed a vote that allowed nurse practitioners at the district's school-based health center to prescribe contraceptives to students on request. It was a long-awaited, yet controversial, rule change that had been previously voted on two years prior and shut down by board members. With new faces representing the Hillsboro School District came new opinions on the matter.
Under Oregon law, children as young as 15 can seek medical care without parental permission and students of any age are able to seek contraceptive services without parental approval. The health center, operated by Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, is located on Century High School's campus.
Not long after, the Forest Grove School District approved a similar policy.
KUIK turns off the lights
On the last day of March, talk radio station KUIK AM 1360 shut down, signing off after more than 60 years on Washington County's airwaves. The station was sold to new owners, following previous owner and manager Don McCoun's decision to retire after working in the industry for more than 50 years. Based at the Hillsboro Airport, KUIK has been a staple of Washington County's media landscape since 1954.
McCoun purchased the independently owned radio station in 1978, transforming the station into a 24-hour news and sports platform covering Washington County.
SolarWorld sold to SunPower
In April, it was announced that Hillsboro-based SolarWorld Americas would soon be purchased by rival San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. The plan put an end to months of speculation over the fate of the Hillsboro solar panel maker, which struggled after its parent company, SolarWorld AG, filed for insolvency in 2017.
In September, SunPower obtained a federal exemption from tariffs on imported solar panels — opening the door for more international manufacturing.
In October, federal regulators in the United States and Europe officially signed off on the deal.
Today, the company employs about 250 people, previously with more than 1,000 employees at its peak.
Tuality Community Hospital celebrates 100 years
In May, the community helped to celebrate the 100th birthday of a Hillsboro facility that has grown and morphed as the city has over the years. The Tuality Community Hospital started small, but it has blossomed over the years into a major player in Washington County.
When Tuality first opened its doors in 1918, the facility was drastically different than what it is today. The city boasted a population of only about 2,000. Local physicians regularly made house calls in horse-drawn buggies, performing surgeries in homes.
Today, since forming a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University hospital in 2016, the hospital is offering advanced services that no other hospital in the state is offering, like intraoperative CT scans, and doesn't plan to stop its advancements and improvements any time soon.
The hospital has come a long way in 100 years, but administrators say while the next 100 years will continue to bring innovation to the medical industry, Tuality will retain its community approach to medicine.
Student sues HSD over pro-Trump shirt
In May, the Hillsboro School District found itself in the spotlight after a senior at Liberty High School, Addison Barnes, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that teachers and administrators at the school had violated his First Amendment right to express himself when he wore an anti-immigration shirt to a political science class earlier in the year in January. He wore a shirt which bore the words "Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.," and one of the president most famous quotes from the campaign trail, "The Wall Just Got 10 Feet Taller." Barnes wore the shirt in support of Trump's policies on immigration and Homeland Security. He was told to cover it by Liberty's assistant principal and was later removed from class and threatened with a 10-day suspension for not complying.
Two months later, the district settled the lawsuit with Barnes, agreeing to pay him $25,000. The school's principal, Greg Timmons, also sent a formal written apology to the student as part of the settlement agreement.
Governor speaks at Hilhi graduation
In June, a group of Hillsboro students received a visit from Gov. Kate Brown on one of the most important days of their journeys thus far. Brown attended Hillsboro High School's graduation ceremony, where roughly 300 students received their diploma and were encouraged by the governor to fly, soar and be brilliant.
Hilhi's was the only graduation ceremony Brown attended last spring. Brown said she wanted to speak at the school's graduation because of its exemplary work as part of Brown's "Future Ready Oregon Initiative," a program that encourages jobs-training as part of school curriculum.
"I want to close the gap between the skills that Oregon workers have and the skills our growing businesses need," Brown said. "What closes the gap are the hands-on learning opportunities like the ones you had at Hilhi."
Hillsboro hosts Street of Dreams
It was Hillsboro that hosted the annual NW Natural Street of Dreams event this year, beginning in July. For decades, the showcase has given Portland-area builders the chance to flex their creative muscles, constructing luxurious homes and inspiring locals.
This was the third time since the 1980s the event was held in Hillsboro, and where better to do it than in South Hillsboro, the massive new housing development being built along Tualatin Valley Highway near Century Boulevard and Cornelius Pass Road? The homes on display during Street of Dreams were the first to be built on the expansive construction site. This year, the event also presented its first-ever "tiny home."
Hillsboro hosts water balloon fight, giant bounce castle
There was no shortage of fun in the sun for Hillsboro-area residents in the month of August. Between the water balloon fight at Shute Park, and a tour stop at AmberGlen Park of the world's largest bounce house, kids and parents alike found their inner-child for some enjoyable outdoor play.
The 10,000-square-foot bounce house drew in huge crowds, as it featured inflatable basketball hoops, slides, a DJ booth, rock-climbing wall and more. H20K water balloon fight also drew in hundreds to the park for a day friendly competition between two teams. The party-like atmosphere included a DJ, a water slide, lawn games and plenty of food and drinks.
Hillsboro teen shot, killed at party
The month of September ended with sad news, when a local teenager was shot and killed at a house party in the Rock Creek area.
Fermin Alonso-Alonso, 18, of North Plains had just graduated from Glencoe High School in June. The investigation is still ongoing, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office. No additional information is being released at this time.
A candlelight vigil was held on Oct. 1 at Compound Gallery in Portland, showcasing Alonso-Alonso's work. He wanted to become a professional photographer, his friends said.
"He had some of the most amazing shots I've ever seen in my life," his friend William Deleon, 18, said. "It was his dream to capture those moments that people wanted to keep forever."
City manager announces resignation
In October, Hillsboro City Manager Michael Brown announced he will be leaving the city after more than seven years on the job. Brown oversees all of the city government's day-to-day duties, from public works projects to libraries, police and fire services.
Brown has been a part of much of the change in the fast-growing city, including massive planned development in South Hillsboro; the construction of new fire stations and parks, as well as a public plaza at Orenco Station; expansion and remodel of Hillsboro's senior center and libraries; and even the oversight work to bring the Hillsboro Hops baseball team to the city, building Ron Tonkin Field in 2012. His last day will be Jan. 18, 2019.
Until Brown's position is officially filled, current assistant city manager Robby Hammond will serve as interim.
Allen, Pace, Alcaire win council seats
After months of campaigning for seats on the Hillsboro City Council, incumbents Kyle Allen and Olivia Alcaire retained their positions on Nov. 6, and a third candidate, nonprofit executive Beach Pace received more than 67 percent of the vote in her race — making her the easy winner to join the council in January, taking the seat of outgoing Council President Darell Lumaco.
The council is officially nonpartisan, but progressive candidates, including the three elected, have swept into office in Hillsboro government over the last few elections. Allen has served on the council for four years, while Alcaire was appointed in 2017.
School districts face threats of violence
Local school districts received some heat toward the end of 2018, after they dealt with concerning incidents that drew very mixed responses from parents and community members.
On Dec. 3, Hillsboro police officers entered a Liberty High School classroom with weapons drawn after receiving an erroneous report of an armed student in the classroom. Many criticized the officers for their seemingly aggressive response, while others defended them for being prepared and following protocol.
Days before, in nearby Beaverton, several Beaverton School District administrators received a threatening email alluding to a potentially armed person being inside a Stoller Middle School classroom. The school went into lockdown for four hours while Washington County sheriff's deputies searched room by room, and another four hours were spent reuniting students with parents and guardians after the building was deemed safe.
Both are situations school districts, and law enforcement, are unfortunately becoming more and more familiar with, but how to best respond to them has become something much of the community is divided on. It's alarming to see officers with weapons drawn on school property, the Hillsboro Police Department acknowledged, but it's protocol law enforcement follow in order to protect students.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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