Gateway: Opinion

From the Helm: Thanks, Gig Harbor, it’s been a fabulous ride

Tyler Hemstreet, The Peninsula Gateway editor
Tyler Hemstreet, The Peninsula Gateway editor The News Tribune

My mother had a special appreciation for a skill I exercised perhaps a little too often in middle school and junior high.

Tyler talks too much in class, they told her. He’s always chatting with his neighbors and causing disruptions (Harsh, huh?), they’d say.

But she knew that skill would come in handy sometime down the road. She was right.

Journalism was a natural progression. It was my major in college. It led to my first job in broadcast television as a reporter/anchor, which then led to print and web career where I get paid to ask questions and talk to people.

That progression led me to The Peninsula Gateway and the wonderful town of Gig Harbor. And boy is there a lot to talk about here!

It has been a great ride, but it’s time to make my next progression. My last day as editor of The Peninsula Gateway is Jan. 19. I’ve accepted a position with the City of Federal Way to serve as its communications coordinator.

When I first came to Gig Harbor, I had been to Roy Anderson Field on assignment a few times, where I covered high school football games while huddled elbow-to-elbow with guys in the press box trying to keep stats. But after my nearly four-year stint as editor of this newspaper, I can definitely say that I realize why so many people love this community with all their heart and do so much to see it prosper.

During my time as editor, I’ve run into numerous people who grew up here, graduated from Peninsula or Gig Harbor high schools, went to college and then worked their tails off to find a way to come back to the community they love to raise their family and make a home for themselves here. And it’s crazy also how many people I’ve run into who either moved here from another county or even another state after they drove through downtown and saw the picturesque harbor.

While Gig Harbor has some issues it’s facing now and will continue to into the future, I feel it will never be without a long line of folks fighting to keep what makes it such a great place to live. And the Gateway will still be here to chronicle those stories.

Parting shots ...

▪ Yet another reason why this town is great: In a city of about 8,000, it’s surprising to me that there are specialty car shops in tiny pockets around town. I loved visiting and writing about Dundon Motorsports, a performance shop for Porsches, and Defenders Northwest, a Land Rover repair facility.

▪ The Peninsula School District is in great hands going forward. After the much-publicized failure of the bond/levy package several years ago, it seems the board of directors and Superintendent Rob Manahan have put together a good package to send to voters in April. These are desperate times, people! This measure really needs to pass to ensure a solid future for students going forward.

▪ A big tip of the cap to all the law enforcement and emergency responders who work with me and my staff on a daily basis. Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey always picks up his phone or returns emails, and the team at Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One is great about sending us information and setting up interviews when we need them.

▪ I’ll miss covering the great development stories here. Intriguing storylines, casts of characters, motivational influences and reference after reference about “code deviations,” “managed growth,” and “secret meetings.” One prediction on my way out the door: Slim chance the Haub family triangle gets developed during the current administration’s tenure (“The family is in no rush to sell,” I’m told). Same for the Peninsula Shopping Center. One builder in town told me there is no chance he’s developing a pair of lots he owns in town for at least four years.

▪ I could probably write an entire column on Hugh McMillan. I manage day-to-day functions around here, but he calls the shots. I’m going to dearly miss seeing a guy who I hope with every piece of my being I can emulate when I’m 90 years old.

▪ And I will miss the list of outstanding and memorable folks who we covered (sometimes extensively) throughout my four-year tenure. My top 4 in no particular order? Jerry Gibbs, Ron Roark, Jeni Woock and Terry Lee.

Tyler Hemstreet: 253-358-4150,, @gateway_tyler