Editor reflects on a year at helm of MLTnews

By Doug Petrowksi
Editor, MLTnews.com

It has been one year since the relaunch of MLTnews.com. The news website has grown in scope and importance, thanks to you, the loyal readers. We want to express our gratitude for making us a part of your online world.

So what makes MLTnews unique and significant for this corner of South Snohomish County? We would like to think it’s the coverage of news, sports, events, the arts and the people of this community that you just can’t find anywhere else. We hope that each day our readers will be more informed, enlightened and involved than those who haven’t discovered us yet.

We’ve posted hundreds of articles on MLTnews over the past 12 months — some more noteworthy than others, but all significant in one way or another. Here are five that, in my mind, define our mission to the community.

No. 5 — Resignation of MLT City Councilmember Michelle Robles, posted June 28, 2012

Michelle Robles
Michelle Robles

Covering city government can be tedious, with dozens of meeting each month, the deliberate pace and the often-confusing language and procedures. It’s also important, for decisions are made that affect residents every day. So we cover city hall and attend many (though not all) of city government meetings. In the case of the July 28 Mountlake Terrace City Council work/study session, we were fortunate to be there as a surprise announcement was made: the resignation of three-term councilmember Michelle Robles.

MLTnews readers found out about the Robles resignation first; no other news agency covered the story that night. In later articles, we wrote of Robles’ personal reasons for leaving, and how the city proceeded to appoint Bryan Wahl to fill the vacant council seat.

This year five of the seven council seats will be contested in August and November elections. Councilmembers wanting to run for their posts again, along with candidates interested in the positions, will be filing their candidacy papers in May. Count on MLTnews.com to cover all of it.

No. 4 — Profiles of Chuck Mellinger, posted July 24, 2012, and Burton Wagnerin, posted Nov. 16, 2012

Chuck Mellinger (Photo by Doug Petrowski)
Chuck Mellinger (Photo by Doug Petrowski)

Sometimes stories are discovered while in pursuit of something totally different. While doing research on an August 2012 ballot measure, I met Chuck Mellinger, a long-time Mountlake Terrace resident and member of the Lake City Vigilantes, a charitable organization most known for their appearances in local parades. Mellinger’s involvement with the Vigilantes,’ and his love of life, made him a profile I just couldn’t resist. The article also became part of promotiing Tour de Terrace, the city’s biggest community celebration.

7-11 clerk Burton Wangerin greets customers arriving during his graveyard shift.
7-11 clerk Burton Wangerin greets customers arriving during his graveyard shift. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)

The November posting about Mountlake Terrace 7-11 clerk Burton Wagnerin was initial intended to be a crime story, but instead became a profile on an amazing individual who had been working the graveyard shift at the convenience store for 37 years.

Sharing the stories of remarkable characters from our community is a joy, and an opportunity I hope to continue on MLTnews.

No. 3 — Dispute over 9/11 World Trade Center beam, postings on April 27, May 1 and May 22, 2012

An eight-foot, 2,018-pound steel beam from New York City’s World Trade Center became the center of attention for Snohomish County Fire District 1 Commissioners, District 1 firefighters and Mountlake Terrace city officials last spring when a plan to split the beam in two was on the agenda.

Fire District 1 Commissioners had scheduled a vote on a proposal that would divide the beam, giving one half to the City of Edmonds and the other half to the City of Mountlake Terrace. Each city would then display its beam half in firefighter memorial parks. But the plan was put on hold after emotional testimony from firefighters at the May 1 Fire District 1 Commissioners’ meeting. Firefighters objected to the concept, noting that they had been the ones who obtained possession of it and brought it to Snohomish County from New York, and that the beam represented the “tomb” that became the final resting place of 343 New York firefighters.

After the proposal was tabled, Mountlake Terrace officials eventually dropped their request for half of the beam, ending the dispute.

Taluswood Apartments fire rescue.
Taluswood Apartments fire rescue. (Mark Hopkins Photography)

No. 2 — Taluswood Apartments fire, postings beginning on April 16, 2012

Unfortunately bad things happen in this world. While news media is accused of obsessing on the tragic, the criminal and the negative, MLTnews doesn’t make accidents, crimes and fires the central focus of coverage. But we will cover these stories when necessary. The morning of April 16, 2012, was one of those times.

A two-alarm fire in the J Building of the Taluswood Apartments in Mountlake Terrace filled the immediate neighborhood with smoke and sirens. Fortunately, no injuries from the fire were reported. While MLTnews had only been back online for a couple weeks, we covered the fire from many angles: the fire itself, the work of Fire District 1and other agencies’ firefighters, the stories of building residents, the community’s charitable efforts following the fire, and the follow-up by fire officials to answer questions of the apartment complex’s residents.

A big part of covering the event ended up being the photos posted online. Remarkable images of the fire, and heroism displayed by firefighters, came from MLTnews contributor Mark Hopkins, Fire District 1 and residents of Taluswood.

No. 1 — MTHS basketball at the WIAA 3A State Tournament, concluding with posting on March 2, 2013

The 2012-2013 season of the Mountlake Terrace High School boys basketball team captured the attention of many in the community as the squad qualified for the WIAA 3A state championships at the Tacoma Dome. With other local media covering the tournament, and Terrace games being broadcast live on the Hawks Live Sports Network, Hawk fans had plenty of outlets to follow the team. So we had to go beyond simple game coverage. We had to portray the emotion attached to the weekend.

For the basketball team, the tourney had real significance. The squad had made it a season goal of winning a trophy at the tournament. Once that goal was realized, the emotion spilled out. I hope readers felt it in the comments made by Coach Nalin Sood following the team’s final game. MLTnews posted his post-game remarks (made with tear-filled eyes) at length; coverage that I’m hopeful sets this news website apart from other media outlets.

  1. As the founder and former editor of MLTnews it was a hard decision to shut it down. Though when Teresa Wippel stepped up and said she was interested in continuing operating the site I knew it was going to turn in to something bigger and better than what I could ever make it. Doug, you have done a excellent job as editor and the site continues to be a vital part of the community and the only publication that MLT residents can count on to cover local issues. Keep up the great work.

  2. I am very grateful to all of the folks at mltnews.com thatpicked up and expanded upon what Dustin started. Having dedicated news coverage of our small community brings us together and allows us to share the ups and downs, wins and losses. It has allowed us to share needs; from finding lost dogs and cats, collecting clothes and furniture for victims of fire, eggs and candy for community events to rallying support for a much loved member battling illness and loss. I love that the successes of our local schools and athletes get their moment to shine as well. Thank you for taking the time to cover all aspects of life in MLT and thank you to the volunteers and advertisers that make it possible.

  3. I read MLTNews.com every day and look forward to it! You do a great job. I have thought to myself, how does he come up with these newsy tidbits everyday? I hope they keep coming. Thank you so much!

  4. I agree with the previous comment – I look forward to & read MLTnews.com everyday. I count on it to find out about things going on around Mountlake Terrace.

  5. Thank you Doug and Teresa for all of your contributions to our community and for allowing me to be a small part of your world. You have done an amazing job of keeping your readers informed as to what is happening in this community not only from a news standpoint, but in also shedding light on some of the great people and activities that make this community a wonderful place to live. Keep up the great work and hopefully this is the first anniversary of many!!

  6. I enjoy reading the news every day. It keeps me informed at what is happening in
    our neighborhood, which is important as I do not watch TV.

  7. Dustin is to be commended for having the vision to start MLTnews.com in 2009. I am grateful to be following in his footsteps as publisher. Doug is doing an amazing job covering the community. I don’t know how he does it all!

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