By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

A week filled with high-interest news

All WhatchamaColumns

It’s been a week of milestones and memories, as high-interest news stories have people thinking back, looking forward and wondering what’s next.

One surprise announcement told us that Radio Station KLYC would close its doors today, ending a 63-year life that began when my father and his older brother opened the doors of KMCM. I was in grade school when they sold the station, and my youthful family business focus was on delivering newspapers, not spinning platters.

The radio station generated plenty of buzz in the 1970s when it joined a campaign that delayed and ultimately killed a proposed Willamette River bridge project. There also was a high-profile story involving surreptitious taping of local public officials and the station’s controversial FCC license renewal hearings.

Few remember those stories, but many of us share decades of memories about the positive contributions of McMinnville’s radio station in areas of news, entertainment, sports and community events. In all those years, we have been friendly competitors for advertising dollars, but more importantly, closely connected by common interests in quality community journalism.

Another unexpected story this week involves sale of Evergreen Helicopters Inc. to Portland-based Erickson Air-Crane Inc. EHI was the original and still is a major operating division of Evergreen International Aviation.

Follow-ups to the mid-week announcement suggest that this could be a great benefit to both Evergreen and McMinnville. Erickson reportedly intends to maintain McMinnville-based operations for EHI, which has 100 local employees among a total of 400. Remaining Evergreen divisions will provide services to the new owner, and both companies have strong financial incentives to work together going forward. That’s great news after months of local concern about Evergreen’s well-publicized financial challenges.

Directly across Highway 18, a $2.1 million log chapel is half-built, adding another unique component to the Evergreen museum complex. Work has stalled on a new hotel, campground and adventure park, but perhaps the Erickson deal bodes well for those developments.

Jumping to downtown McMinnville, readers this week were treated to detailed development plans for the KAOS hotel and restaurant complex awaiting finalization of financing. As envisioned, it’s the most exciting new downtown project since McMenamins opened the Oregon Hotel in 1999.

The site at Third and Galloway is prepared for demolition work, and the idea of new construction on a three-story downtown complex promises much spectator entertainment leading to a hoped-for opening in early 2015.

Milestones and memories come in all shapes and sizes; this week produced more than its share of both.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news or 503-687-1223.

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