It was a 1974 Chevy Nova, a plain-Jane, emerald green four-door and the last car my grandpa bought before he died.
When it became mine six years later, I immediately dolled it up with a line of peel-and-stick faux chrome trim down each side. My brothers – both mechanics – rolled their eyes. I didn’t care; it was my first car.
Lots of people can still tell their first-car stories. We’re American. We love our cars.
That makes this week’s opening of LeMay-America’s Car Museum exciting on a personal level. The museum also is exciting on a civic level. The new addition to Tacoma’s skyline brings a much-needed boost to our community psyche. After all, it’s been a rough few years around town.
It’s even OK for the newspaper to get a little excited.
The News Tribune has played a number of journalistic roles since the museum idea was hatched in the late 1990’s. Initially, we were news-breakers, simply letting readers know what the LeMays and local officials were considering. Through the years, we were watchdogs, telling readers how the city, state or federal government planned to spend their tax dollars or use their land for the project. A number of times, we were storytellers, not a difficult role given the colorful main character – Harold LeMay.
In today’s paper, we are explainers. Rob Carson, who was our chief explainer for five years on the Tacoma Narrows bridge construction, explains how the new museum plans to keep people coming back by changing up the cars, offering interactive exhibits and becoming a social hub. He also explains the sometimes bumpy road to Saturday’s grand opening – not surprising given the strong family dynamics. And he explains the new museum’s relationship to the remaining LeMay Family Collection in Parkland.
Later this week, we’ll be celebrators. On Friday, we’re publishing a 16-page section packed with fun facts about the museum, biographies of the cars and a floor plan to help guide you through. It will have lots of pictures and graphics, thanks to the hard work of photographer Dean Koepfler and artist Jessica Randklev. We’ll attend Saturday’s grand opening and write about it for Sunday’s paper.
We live in this community, too, and we want it to be successful. As long as we also play our other important roles, it’s OK for us sometimes to be cheerleaders.
LOOK FOR NEW BYLINES
We have another great roster of summer interns whose bylines you’ll soon be seeing in the paper. They include:
Karen Miller, a grad student at the University of Missouri, who will join our politics and government team. Miller graduated from Curtis High School and grew up in University Place.
Jack Sorenson from Pacific Lutheran University and incoming editor-in-chief of the school’s Mooring Mast, who will join our Sound Life team. Sorenson is from Spokane.
Zach Smith, a student at Central Washington University, who will work with our communities team. Smith hails from Enumclaw.
T.J. Cotterill, a Western Washington University senior, who’ll work on our sports team.
You already may have seen photo credits for Heather Perry, our photo intern from PLU. She’s been with us for several weeks, shooting mainly sports. Perry is a Rogers High grad from Puyallup.
Alexis Krell from the University of Washington ends her extended statehouse internship with us this week. Krell was our capable third reporter during this year’s legislative session and leaves us with a stack of A1 stories in her portfolio.
TNT STAFFERS HONORED
A number of our reporters and photographers won awards last weekend in the 2011 Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. Our category included the biggest papers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Winners included:
Ryan Divish, third place in sports features for his piece on Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge.
Dean Koepfler, third place in photo essays for his Labor Day package on the unemployed and underemployed.
Kathleen Merryman, third place in personalities reporting for her story about Cecil Leadinghorse of Tacoma and his recovery from homelessness and alcoholism.
Sean Robinson, third place in investigative reporting for his story on the questionable activities of the Westnet policing organization in Kitsap County.
Bill Virgin, third place in business columns.
Liu Kit Wong, second place in sports photography for his picture of high school runner Maureen Tremblay.