The following is an article from The Daily Astorian on January 3, 2014:
"Sunset magazine, Smithsonian and other periodicals have placed Astoria and the Columbia-Pacific region on lists. Best places to retire. Best small towns to visit.
While these accolades are welcome, they miss something. For a long-term resident, it is people that make a place appealing.
What our region has in abundance are men and women who know a lot about one thing. We might call them experts. Sometimes we call them eccentrics, as in Michael Foster of Astoria, whose art collection is akin to that of a museum. The point is that Foster could talk for hours about his topic, which is collecting.
The people on the list that follows are there because they have pursued an interest or a passion to an extreme level. These are people with whom you have no difficulty making conversation.
When I describe the burly Steve Fick to people who don’t know him, I point out that Fick started his fish processing business around 1971, which wasn’t a good time for that industry. Thus Fick, by definition, is smart, innovative and tenacious.
Fick’s interests extend beyond fish processing – to the Clatsop Community College Foundation, for instance. But his passion is the river and the people who make a living by bringing a catch to his loading dock. He also has a keen appreciation for the skills and instincts of men and women who’ve spent their lives in fish processing. He is a repository of the spirit and innate horse sense that drove the engine of this region’s economy in the 20th century.
Karen Emmerling was doing metal work in her husband’s Gearhart foundry when she attended a workshop on book selling. She came home and told John Emmerling that she wanted to open a bookstore.
In 2013 Emmerling doubled the floor space of her store, Beach Books, by moving to a location at the pivotal crossroads of Broadway and Holladay Drive in Seaside. She has more than doubled her sales. Emmerling chooses her inventory wisely, and she has created what marketers such as Starbuck’s call a Third Space (not home and not the workplace). The store is a comfortable habitat (complete with resident cat) for tourists as well as resident readers.
Digitized books are supposed to be killing bookstores. So it is wonderful to see someone move against the conventional wisdom and win. And by the way, Emmerling sells those as well.
If you want deep knowledge of Lewis and Clark’s time on lower Columbia River, Jim Sayce is your man. The enthusiasm with which he has tracked the coordinates of weather, tides, landscape and the Lewis and Clark journals is at times breathtaking. An unreconstructed Boy Scout, Sayce recognizes that with a bit of hiking or canoeing, we may glimpse the adventure the explorers had in these parts.
Denise Reed had established herself as a music leader in our region well before the Performing Arts Center was in jeopardy. As director of the North Coast Chorale, she led her singers through challenging works.
Looking at the PAC, Reed was fascinated by its pipe organ, which had lain dormant for decades. Her drive to restore the organ led to the engagement of an organ technician, who brought this powerful instrument back to life.
Behind every restoration there is a zealot. Without Reed’s single-minded passion, the organ would still be in slumber.
When the New York Yankees emailed Dan Supple, his excitement was off the chart. The Yankees wanted Supple to build one of his custom rocking chairs for Mariano Rivera, the legendary closer. In his deep affection for baseball – which he played in college and the minor league – Supple invented the rocker that’s made with baseball bats and stitched leather. If baseball is your game, Supple is a trove of memory and lore.
When my wife and I responded to Sue Kroning’s advertisement for bridge lessons, it opened the door to a wellspring of knowledge about an endlessly fascinating game. Like all great teachers, Kroning has the ability to make something that is complex into a set of choices that she describes in a down-to-earth, colloquial manner.
There are golfers who throw their clubs when they don’t do well and bridge players who take it personally. Kroning’s sense of humor and sunny personality helps her students to keep this challenging game in perspective.
Keith Clark has made the improbable a reality. The Astoria Music Festival, of which he is director, has turned in a succession of annual performances that would be the talk of Seattle or Portland if they happened in those cities. It is true that Katherine Matschiner was the music festival’s seminal spark plug. But Clark has kept it going.
Landing the rising star Angela Meade for Astoria performances of Il Trovatore and Norma made Seattle Opera’s impresario Speight Jenkins look like an underachiever.
If our newspaper asks Liisa Penner for assistance, we have learned there are no short answers from the archivist of the Clatsop County Historical Society. Penner’s grasp of Clatsop County genealogy runs very deep. The quarterly Cumtux, which she edits, would be a credit to many, much larger state historical societies.
It is fitting that this avid historian works in the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. She knows the nooks and crannies of our region’s history and delights in the retelling.
What our region has in abundance are men and women who know a lot about one thing.
Source: "Editor's Notebook: Eight Who Make This Place Engaging." The Daily Astorian. N.p., 4 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. http://www.dailyastorian.com/opinion/columns/editor-s-notebook-eight-who-make-this-place-engaging/article_40b91282-74ae-11e3-881b-001a4bcf887a.html
KPTV FOX 12 Oregon aired this special yesterday during all their evening news segments! A longer version will be airing during the Sunday Sports show airing at 11pm on KPTV if you want to check it out this weekend.