Column: The Real Story- by Dirk Knudsen; Editor
What you are about to read are the events of one week in my life in Hillsboro, Oregon, some opinions, but some harsh facts that are undeniable. This is a long piece that took a lot of time to write. I listened to my favorite Pandora Radio station, Thomas Newman Radio. The incredible music helped me tell what I needed to tell. Listed below are some of the songs that played as I wrote and I think they may interest you. Play this first one as you read my story. If by the end of the song you are less than interested then we both know all we need to know, and I thank you. For the rest of you I hope this story resonates with you and perhaps inspires you in some way. God bless you all.
Push Play & Begin to Read
This is hard for me to write to you all tonight because it is Friday, and I am beat, but here goes.
Maybe I wanted to believe too much that it was possible, that the Hillsboro of my youth was the one we could have again. The one we all deserve to have, yet the one we will likely never get back. But the events of this week make me want to reach out to the ethos and to all of you to hear my pleas.
It’s late, and the rain is back; it pours from the gutters tonight, beating down on the lower story of our home beneath me like a drum from some ancient people. Rhythmic and in a repeated pattern like the endless days I spend in pursuit of an honest living in a world gone mad. Each day, rising and rushing and splashing and running down down down before I finally fall. You too I am guessing.
Here are my thoughts on my week in Hillsboro, Oregon
What was it the man in the street said to me tonight as I headed home? He walked past me near The Venetian, looked inside and motioned to the diners at the white linen and candlelit tables, and said, “Looks wonderful”.
It actually is,” I said, having experienced the place.
“Food like that isn’t for me anymore. Not something I can do, not in a town like this where I have no home and no one left to share the meal with. But I have been in there so many times over the years- The Green River was my favorite.”
“Mine too! So what happened to you,” I replied.
Five minutes later, my new friend “Glenn” and I were sitting on a bench in front of the Hillsboro Pharmacy, talking about our town and all that we knew. He is my Senior by a good 15 years. Class of ‘66 from good old HilHi. The real HilHi, not that new one that “some California developer threw up over on Rood Bridge Road,” he said proudly, raising his hand with the peace sign.
“They tore it down, why did they have to do that? It was a work of art and so beautiful. It could have been kept and used for the people to enjoy.”
I told him I knew and that I had gone to school there when it was JB Thomas. Middle School That was where Velma Villareal, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, pushed me against a locker in the lower levels and taught me how to kiss. He smiled and said he knew how that felt. We spoke of the rifle range where boys and girls learned how to shoot, and the incredible theater built in the 1920s with tunnels underneath the stage and a Phantom of the Opera balcony. As our talk went on, we realized that we shared so many good things; just separated by about 4,000 sunrises and sunsets.
We both looked into the Pharmacy- no signs of life as it sits empty, still going through fire restoration. Its iconic logo and Soda fountain, now covered with tarps, hold the promise of a comeback.
“If we lose that, we lose the heart of the town,” said my new friend. “It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
We spoke of his struggle with staying here in Hillsboro. It seems he married a classmate of his after returning from Vietnam in 1971. He was trained as a mechanic and got work after he came home, which lasted for about 20 years before the vestiges of war destroyed his marriage and eventually his job too. Since that time, he has been bouncing around, He had to sell his home in the 90s just East of Bentley Orchards, just to keep things going. He always figured he would get another home, but prices ran in the 90s and 2000s to record numbers, and he was walled out of the market. Today he moves from place to place, trying to live on a soldier’s pension. His health failing, he told me he did not think he would be around much longer, and “that was probably for the best”.
“I have no money for a home or apartment rent. Nowhere to live, no money to afford a place like this modern Hillsboro. But it’s my home town, and I can’t leave it. Where would I go anyway.”
After a bit and trying to offer him hope, I thanked him for our time together and wished him well. As he walked past the burned-out hole that was the Weil’s Arcade, he stopped and looked down through the fence. Lowering his head, he seemed to pause and say something but was just out of my earshot. After a moment, he turned and headed West onto 2nd Street and crossed into the historic Sequoias on the courthouse lawn, where he disappeared. He is yet another person in a long line of people that I have met in the old town- they come like moths to a flame to relive and remember the younger years and simpler times. They come just like me.
A strange feeling came over me, reflecting on the long week I had. It is a lot to take in. I entered my office at 222 East Main and was hit with a heavy chemical smell, nearly gagging me. You see, the new and improved US Bank redevelopment project known as 2nd and Main is under demolition, and for the past 10 days, the West Hills developer who bought the property has been tearing out the old floors treating them with some sort of “solvent”. On their side of the adjoining wall, they wear white bunny suits and aspiration masks. On our side, we have no such protection, and the 3 businesses in our building have had to work with open doors and a huge box fan with a filter blowing the bad air out. We can’t work safely or productively, but hey, the new owners and their team are very sorry! And they testified during the hearings about what great Community-minded people they are. Really? Calls to the City and DEQ have raised no action thus far.
I grabbed my things and left quickly out the back alley, which is now pinched in by fences erected to support the new project.
This assault on our businesses and our efforts to be profitable has continued despite 2 years of COVID closures, not to mention the January 2nd Weil’s arson fire which trapped our building in a steel cage for almost 4 weeks with no access at all. The arsonist (Roel Leon) and his victim (Ronnie Knapp) are still fresh in our minds, as is the 30,000 SF iconic Weil’s building, which would have been 103 years old this year had it survived. It did not. Our windows, mine, in particular, have had a cinematic front-row seat for the entire ugly show, and can I say my heart broke over and over and over? Well, it did.
Ronnie Knapp’s candle lighting this week was beautiful. He died in the fire, and his body lay in the ruins for many weeks before it was found. 70 locals and his friends, many of whom struggle with mental health, addictions, and homelessness, were in attendance. Sadly no one from the City came to pay their respects, but Mayor Callaway did leave a nice card earlier that day. For those that were there, it was a very nice event with real people who really cared. Something Hillsboro seems to be running short on these days.
Earlier this week, on Monday, I visited the Historic John Shute House (1888), which members of the Haag family are nobly trying to save as the last farmhouse on the East Tualatin Plains. Surrounded by massive Data Centers and a gigantic Amazon Hub, the beautiful icon and its associated red barn stand on the edge of the abyss with an uncertain future. Great efforts are being made, but it will take leadership and a caring government to help this family save this place. It is listed on the National Historic Registry. They are now an island of Washington County, completely surrounded by the City of Hillsboro. The Shute farmstead is the last original home in one of the most historic land areas in the entire Pacific NW. More could have been done to save this area, but progress called, and the City answered, dumping tens of millions in tax giveaways into data centers, research facilities, and high-tech smoke stack corporations.
Crossing the street, I checked on the progress of the Methodist Meeting House Memorial. This is a historic marker that a few of us fought for in a land-use appeal. It marks the location of the 2nd place of worship and government in our territory. The memorial also includes 5 massive basalt columns for the children of Colonel Joseph Meek and his Nez Perce wife, Virginia. That is being done to honor the fact that the children are buried under the new Amazon parking lot. Despite fighting for the City to honor a 1-acre preservation site that was contractually agreed to by former Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes, we lost. No honoring of agreements for buried children, especially not native children. This is a burden those of us involved will carry now forever, that we did not do enough. The monument will make people stop and wonder what it is. It will be the most significant historic marker in the City, which isn’t that hard because we do not really have any. But it is beautiful, and we are proud of what it represents.
Tuesday I went to a listing I have (yes, I am a local real estate broker of 40 years) at the corner of Century Blvd. and Borwick Street. This is the site of my client’s home, which is being torn down by Washington County officials to make room for the new roadway that will plow through the Noble Woods wetlands (adjacent) on its way North to Baseline Road. Once open, this new North-South connector will unleash thousands of cars a day from the new South Hillsboro neighborhoods to Ronler Acres INTEL and US 26. Those same cars could use Cornelius Pass, but it is bottled up most days to the point of a no-flow situation. So the wetlands and forests at the place where Beaverton and Rock Creek meet just have to go- no way to save them now.
Wednesday: I met with another client and friend Sandy. It seems another Data Center is on the prowl, and her family farm is being impacted. So we talked about policy, money, power, and all things land use and transportation. We both want to be in favor of these behemoths, but it is hard to be. As we have previously covered, they suck power, water, land, and resources up in a way that can double the consumption of those commodities in the City. Scary stuff for a few jobs and profits that all leave our community to Wall Street and places much further away. Sandy told me at the end of our meeting that I needed to watch the movie The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, starring acting great Sidney Poitier. I did – and she was right. Great movie and a great message. More on this in the summary below.
Thursday was the day to show and try to sell a local family a home near Orenco. The price was $600,000 dollars, and we came in strong at about $630,000. We even offered no inspections and non-refundable earnest money but lost out to an all-cash buyer who was representing an out-of-town investment group buying homes specifically in Hillsboro, Oregon. Why here? Because an internal report says that our market is going to continue to see rents and prices rise at a higher rate than the rest of the Nation. And why is that? Because the jobs we have created here that so many are touting as a “win” for Hillsboro are the damnation of our local people. We can not build homes that people can afford, and our city lacks the land to do anything about it. As companies run into Hillsboro, people like my clients, and most of you, can no longer buy homes here.
That brings us back to my evening here tonight, on Friday.
It is really late now, like 3 AM, dead of the night late. The rain has stopped, and in the distance, I hear the train blasting its formidable whistle about 3 miles to the South. It might be crossing at 209th by Harvey the White Rabbit or maybe at Brookwood by Hazeldale and TV Highway. I am thinking of all of this that I have experienced in just this week, I am thinking of all of these fine folks and all of you too.
As I contemplate what this all means, this song came on Pandora; The Hand of Fate from the soundtrack to the movie Signs. This is the music that is playing when Mel Gibson finally pieces together all of the things that he knows to be true about the state of affairs he and his family are in. At the moment of their ultimate demise by alien invaders, he sees clearly what to do and utters to his brother the now-famous words, “swing away Merrill ….. Merrill swing away” . That triggered Merrill to grab his Louisville Slugger off the wall and take care of the alien with some choice blows and some water from a smashed glass, leading to the solution to the entire problem for the world.
So as I sit here and reflect on this week the signs are all there and they all make sense, so I will just spread some water around now about what it is all so ultimately clear to me.
- We as a people should have never stood the destruction of our beautiful old High School. Regardless of some environmental issues, it was beautiful and had many years left, during which it could have been an iconic community center. Argue all you want- it was a bad decision to take it down. If we have $40 Million to give a baseball team, we have enough to care for our historic places.
- The rifle range was awesome, and we should still teach kids gun safety and respect. I am no gun nut, folks but the girls and boys alike loved it, and we never had gun issues in those days. No one shot anyone, and most of us guys had shotguns in our pickups during high school. We surely did not have executions like the one that went down last month near Graterris tire.
- The Hillsboro Pharmacy is the heart of the City, and right now, we need it back. We can not heal the woes of this modern Hillsboro growing out of control. But we can retreat inside for a coffee, a sweet treat, or a friendly face or two who will remind us that the world can be better. Hurry back, you guys!
- My new friend “Glenn” should be able to have a home and not struggle – we need to have places people on fixed incomes can live as long as they want, especially our Veterans.
- I and my co-tenants should not be choking in our place of work just because another out-of-town developer wants to run over us. Our city needs to stand up and show up when these things happen, and we need to hold the offenders 120% accountable. We are hoping to get some help on Monday – but are not putting money on it.
- Roel Leon, who burned the Weils Department Store, has a long record and has led a life of mental instability. He will pay for his arson and for killing Ronnie, but we could have done more as a society. Try getting mental help for someone, and you will see what I mean. Until last year it was impossible to access help, and it barely is now. We have to do more. We continue to send our prayers and support out to Ronnie’s family and friends.
- Our city should have officially sent people to pay respects to Ronnie and his family– that is a wrong that must be righted in the future. This is not who we are as a city and the no-show can be considered as a lack of caring- and that is wrong. The family felt it too and let me know. We have the capacity to manage everything from Home Energy Scores to a nearly 1 Billion dollar a year budget. We can have people to make sure we show up when these things happen.
- The Shute House must be saved, and the City needs to work with the family to offer them anything they need to save it- that means zoning, grant money, tax breaks, assistance, planning help, etc. Just my opinion, but the City expanded the growth boundary, rezoned the entire area (with the State insisting) to Industrial, and gave tax breaks to companies that have now surrounded this jewel. Those same considerations are owed to anyone this happens to.
- The 1-acre lot for the Methodist Meeting House should have been honored by our City. It was not. Commitments are just that, commitments. We all need to keep them.
- We really should not have let Newland, the massive Canadian developer, alter all of that farmland in South Hillsboro into homes. Too much history here to explain but believe me, the money was flowing to get that to happen, and hundreds of millions in profits are rolling in. Those decisions have now led to Century Blvd being extended through a pristine creek preserve and to my clients losing their home to a right of way taking. It is progress, but that does not make this right.
- My friend Sandy needs to do what is best for her and he property. But Data Centers are no friend to the people of Hillsboro. We let them waltz in here, buy all the prime land we had for real jobs, and take up our power and demand our water. To hear members of their management gloat about endless profits falling from the sky, I am sickened. We should all be. I think a tax on every megawatt they use and terabyte they create should be levied to support housing for the young and the average joes and janes of Hillsboro. Not low income but Middle Income which is most of our city. Someone needs to do something, and it is way too late as it is, but we need to act.
- My buyers should not have to pay $630,000 in Cash to own a very average home in our City. Mark my words, the Californication of our markets will have that same home at 1.2 Million inside of 10 years. We have to find solutions. One of them is to put a moratorium on all tax giveaways for commercial users and to halt all Industrial land expansions. We have to be smart enough to stop and let housing catch up. Shut off the endless supply of money to these corps, and they will take a pause or come because Hillsboro is a good place to do business, not because we will beg them to come and pay them to do so. That is just foolish and bad for the people of Hillsboro. In addition, we should consider some limited UGB expansions on the North end of the City, where a large group already has the ear of Mayor Callaway, Commissioner Beach Pace, and County Commissioner Jerry Willey. When we do move that line, however, it should only be moved with some hooks that the homes will be built so that median-income Hillsboro buyers can afford one. That can be done through lowered land prices, credits from the land owners, or help from the City. Their lands are worth maybe $30,000 per acre now, and that will jump to $700,000 per acre if selected to come into the growth boundary. So we need to be brave enough to say to them that it has to be a quid pro quo or no-go. Believe me, they all would agree in a heartbeat and still make a fortune.
- That brings me back to The Simple Life Of Noah Dearborn. The story is a corollary of what is happening here in so many ways. One man has the stones to say “NO- Not for sale,” and the story then gets into many sideline themes. All of them are good, and it is inspiring to see the ending. It is a simple approach- at some point, enough is enough, and smaller towns should just not all be wiped off the maps. We have to slow down or stop here – and the results would be miraculous. The pace we are on is unsustainable, and we can not manage it. But we have to find people who are willing to call BS when they see these things. I am a Noah Deerborn fan- great watch, and I highly recommend it.
I have said a lot here, folks. But among you are many of the Sons and Daughters of Hillsboro, and you know what I mean. Many of you newer folks came from towns like ours, running from the hoard and the orcs who claw and tear at the earth, and together we must work for a better Hillsboro. We are not at our best; no, we are far, far from it. But we can course correct, and we can be better. We must be. As for me, I am back at it tomorrow and Sunday, and there is so very much to do. One thing I am thinking about is baseball and not the Hillsboro Hops.
After all, what else is a local boy who loves his town to do once he sees all the Signs lined up?
Swing away, Merrill…Merrill…Swing away!
The soundtrack for Reading or Writing a story like this:
From Past To Present (Jeremy Soule)
They’re Sending Me to Vietnam (Album Version) – Forest Gump Soundtrack
Brooks Was Here – The Shawshank Redemption
Beneath the Starry Night – David Tolk
Nothing Else Matters – James Newton Howard
The Hand Of Fate – From the Movie Signs Soundtrack
End Credits – The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – Castaway
The Grey Havens – The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Soundtrack)
You article brought a tear to my eye. I 100% agree with all you wrote. Thank you for being so forthright. Sadly, I think my soul has capitulated to the inevitable consequences for not just Hillsboro but for the world.
Helen – Stay strong. We never surrender. We never lose hope, even when all hope feels lost. Hillsboro is a wonderful place and as this rampant growth continues thee will be a pushback and a reckoning. Both the old and new timers in Hillsboro can see what is happening- feel it. It is everywhere every day. And it must not be let to continue without documentation and a fight. I hope you will not lose hope. Stand with us- things will never be the same, but we can affect the outcomes that are to come. It is never ever over!
Very well written, Dirk, and from hour heart. You brought me to tears. It is so sad, especially The Shute property. Thank you for sharing your personal feelings.
Thank you. I am trying. We need to do better- much much better. Please continue to read and speak up wherever you can.
Very well written and sensitive to the times and changes happening in our community. Thank you for taking the time who express what many of us are thinking.
Nancy- I always wonder how many people feel the way I do. This is nice to know I am not alone. That means the world to me.
Keep reading and reacting, and we will keep the thought-provoking stories coming!
All my best-
Thank you for your sensitive and timely description of what is happening in our community. It has certainly been a roller-coaster ride with heritage vs. development. The good, the bad and, at times, the ugly. You summed it up accurately and painfully. Hopefully, the “powers-to-be” will absorb the integrity and thoughtfulness of your comments and work harder to maintain the history and humanity of this beautiful city.
I know them all- I like them all. But they are all nodding their heads on every issue. No one has dissented on any single issue I am aware of in years. That should concern people. It sure and the hell concerns me.
Please be vocal and helpful anyway you can. Stand by for more to come!
All our best;
Dirk, thank you for your very thoughtful Tale of Your Week pointing out the Signs around us. Many of us have had similar weeks and I for one appreciate you for putting into words what it’s been like – in particular for those of us working on Main St in Downtown Hillsboro. It had been a place where the previous city leaders had been our friends and neighbors and they wouldn’t have allowed what’s going on around us to happen. No City help for the dozens of businesses that have struggled because of the Weil Arcade fire – but they can give money to an out of town developer at 2nd & Main that has plans to take away existing fire access to all of mid-block betweeen 2nd & 3rd – potentially harming not only buildings, but families life times – businesses and lives that should have more value than some project that out of towners are getting Hillsboro money to use to take away SAFETY from Hillsboro families. What has happened to that Hillsboro and The Hillsboro Way?
You and Sandie and your entire family exude the “Hillsboro Way”. That is one of fairness and help for all in need. Of listening and speaking up- or caring about our town- your town. What has happened? People are complacent and tired and can not understand the moving parts of a city that has put up walls around City Hall where many questions are asked, but few are answered. Together we will hold everyone accountable for what is happening – it will not go on the way it is much longer. If I did not suffer sleeplessness and an over active mind, along with a deep desire to leave our town better off then it is, I would leave and not care. Despite many suggesting that is what I should do, that is the last thing I ever will do. The more we find out the worse things look. So let’s keep it up- let’s turn it up!
Thank you guys – and for anyone that has not been to LeStuff or seen it on Main Street, please do. It is a main stay in the real “Hillsboro Way”.
All my best;
Wow, what a powerful piece. Dirk, than you for sharing that week with us. I’ve only lived here 20ish years, but I grew up in a small town and my heart thrilled when I first met Hillsboro’s downtown. It hearkened back to a simpler time when greed didn’t operate quite so openly, when people were better to one another. Maybe I’m remembering with rose colored glasses, but I agree the Californication of Hillsboro will destroy it, because the people who created such a nice place to live will no longer be able to stay. Thanks again!
Everyone living here has a right to their version of what Hillsboro means to them- what they experience. 20 years ago, Hillsboro was a much different place. Once we crossed over 80,000 people we became a “big-town,” and foreign and corporate interests infiltrated every corner of our City – that can change but it will take work. Thankfully many like you are speaking up so it is not just all of us “Old-Timers”. I hope you will be active here at the Herald and help send stories and ideas in. We need people just like you more than you know.
All my best;
Oh how I loved your beautiful history of what Hillsboro was! Born in Portland, childhood spent roaming my end of Lake Oswego, which was known as lake Grove, I came to retire in Hillsboro , and have watched it disappear! Thank you, Ruth Landon
Ruth- We would love to get to know you and understand more about your “Hillsboro Story”- we all have one. Thank you for reading and thanks for caring. Stay strong and hopeful for better days!
All our best;
Thanks for this Dirk…. one other loss not mentioned is what TPTB pulled off in destroying the Washington County Fairgrounds. I remember going to a meeting at the fairgrounds some years ago when the fair board offered their proposal to tear down a number of the buildings and barns on the grounds and develop a shopping center on the property instead. They had a plan to erect an open span building on the other side of 34th behind what was once the hotel, and set up temporary open pens and a manure in the same area that could be used during the fair. They intended to block off 34th to create space for the fair thrill rides and games and food cart venders. I’m not sure how people were supposed to get to Tri-Met light rail because Veterans Drive did not exist at the time.
The people in attendance were clearly not willing to accept the plan and so the fairgrounds remained for a time… sort of. I think the rodeo arena was the first casualty and I don’t remember any announcement prior to the destruction, or much comment after. Now other buildings are gone and I suspect the barns will be the next casualty.
Hillsboro Happy Days is pretty much a distant memory for those of us who have lived in this area for many years, and odds are the Washington County Fair will also suffer the same fate, bit by bit because some people have no apparent regard for history and heritage.
The Fair holds so many memories – Happy Days was the glue that stuck us together. That whole Fair situation is horrible – taking away the animals and arena and all of that violated some of the agreements that were made when the Fair was set up and the land put together. We must stick together and work together. We MUST! When we get some new momentum, which we are working on, we will need your help. I hope you will be there for us! Stay strong you daughter of Hillsboro – your town needs you!
Dirk – we graduated from the same Hilhi class, attended JB Thomas Mid High together and grew up in the same beloved Hillsboro. I now live in a rented house on 2nd Ave because I’m one of the many that are priced out of home ownership. It’s disheartening. It’s frustrating. I live in an area that reminds me of old Hillsboro – only blocks away from the arson fire. So many of the buildings around me are older homes and it’s here that I feel at peace. I love being able to walk to the Farmers Market and enjoy the many old storefronts – in fact visited your shared space about 3 weeks ago. The Candy Basket was a favorite drop in while I was growing up and the Artful Garden is still a favorite to drop in and see the creativity of the local people. I miss it. I want it back. Progress is a mixture of good and bad. Here’s wishing for the return to older Hillsboro.
Hello fellow Spartan! Come see me sometime in the space and let’s catch up! Pull out any of your old pics or memories and share them with me/us. Join the We Remember Hillsboro Page if you have not before on FB- there are almost 5,000 of us on there keeping the old memories alive. Make sure to look me up!!
ALl my best,
Dirk, thank you for your comments. My heart is breaking for our town, both past AND present. Please continue to keep us citizens informed by sharing what you know and what you we can do to help in the fight for the soul of Hillsboro as well as the history. You are more appreciated than you know!
Thank you, Dianna. You have been a rock for this town. The last great small bookstore anywhere. And people need to support you as you support our town! We are both part of the old guard and we are required to step up and speak up! Keep being you!
All my best;
33 in Hillsboro and it is a sad to see. Spring is here but looking around town I see dismayed at many trees and shrubs that are not coming back to life, casualties of last summer no doubt. Also dismayed to see the pattern of new development. Much of it seemingly with no thought to fostering community atmosphere. My husband and I were lucky to get into a townhouse in 2015 for 185,000. These same homes are going in the 360-370,000 range now. My health is bad and I too am starting to feel it might not be so bad to cross over. If there is anything I can do for my town I would love to do what I can.
The Noble Woods is saddening 🙁 already the park is compromised by the widening of Baseline and my husband and I were also aghast at the new large metal electric poles that also extend along Baseline.
In high school they warned us in humanities we read an article called “future shock” I thought I would maybe reach the point at 40, 50. I am 33.
Citizen concerned with “progress”. I’m missing the soul of Hillsboro, as well. Crystal Heart and Sequoia gallery do a lot to enrich the spirit of downtown. Hope life will find a way back.
Thank you Malia! We need people 33 to step up- this is your town and you can create the change you see, that many of us see, is needed. I hope we hear from you often!
All our best-
A good and thoughtful piece. Indeed, Hillsboro needs to get a handle on the powerful forces currently altering our civic landscape in ways that cannot be reversed. Our quiet Stonewater neighborhood is dreading the huge water pipeline project the city and WWS will soon be ramming through right behind our houses. Just another example of what you describe. Growth is indeed out of control. And what deserves to be saved should be saved. But I have a bad feeling that it’s already too late.
The Stonewater Neighborhood has been an active and engaged group – It is never too late. A few of us prevented 480 homes from covering what is now the Orenco Woods Nature Park- had we not spent our time and money and energy, that would have happened. So take heart. It is not over until it is over. The day for Hillsboro to be DONE growing is coming- it is past due. We have to slow or stop and tend to the outcomes and damages that have been done now. I may try and throw the anchor out more often than not. Together a few of us can change the world here. But I need help – there are others working on this. But we are few- so let’s have that discussion – together. Thanks and keep posting and send stories to me too – that makes a lot of differnce.
This is so well written, Dirk. You’ve expressed so many thoughts I’ve had about the development of our Hillsboro area.
Thank you for a piece that brought back many memories. I moved to Hillsboro in 1965 at age seven and can still recall the Welcome to Hillsboro sign at Brookwood and TV Hywy, the population listed on that sign was 14,036 people. It was a great place to grow up. I was one of the first students in WL Henry Elementary where I met my now mother-in-law. She was a substitute teacher. My fourth grade teacher was gone most of the year due to a complicated pregnancy and Mrs.Jones was a frequent substitute in my class and was very popular. That teacher came back the following year and was confined to her desk chair for the year. A student was detailed to push her around in her chair, so she could continue to teach. Can you imagine that happening now? My wife and I ran a business in downtown for 17 years and I can tell you that if you aren’t part of the “in crowd” there is little support there. I was told by more than 1 of my neighbors that we didn’t fit in and should move elsewhere. I have it on good authority that when covid relief money (PPP) was available one small restaurant was 6 mos. behind on rent and other bills. They received enough help to wipe out their negative balance while a very similar business got zero help. I have a child who works at one of the data centers along with her partner. Between the two of them, they make about 1/2 of the median PDX income and even at that without Section 8 housing which takes 1/2 of their income, they’d be homeless. We were fortunate enough to buy our starter home about 30 years ago for $82,000, current value is about 410,000 and if we sold, we couldn’t buy anything equivalent in that price range. I’m not sure of the answer or even if there is one. I thank you for fighting the good fight. Carry on, most of us geezers support you.
Thank you, Thomas. You have many of the same experiences I do. I have a business downtown now, and it is still the same, if not worse. I have heard all the horror stories about favoritism in the handling of county and city ARPA money and COVID-related issues. Your testimony on data centers is especially heart-wrenching. I know that to be the truth but am one of the few speaking up. Please, lend your voice as often as you want or can and feel free to contact me anytime with story ideas or comments.
All the best;