Brian Mittge Commentary: ‘We Are the Someone’ to Bring Back Beloved Park


Norma Szabo has fond memories of a small park tucked away in a historic neighborhood between the freeway and downtown Chehalis.

West Side Park isn’t the kind of glorious civic amenity that draws people from far and wide. No, but it’s a vital part of its quiet residential neighborhood and has been a haven for town kids for as far back as living memory can recall.

I have taken all three of my children there to play over the years. It’s a small, simple place of recreation under tall trees and open sky.

There are fir cones and squirrels. There’s space for frisbee, picnics and basketball. The undulating slide was the biggest my toddler had ever seen at the time. I’ll never forget how the look on his face bounced between delight and terror as he zoomed down the varying steepness of its wavy surface. At the bottom, he settled on delight. We did a lot of sliding that day.

In short, that park is a little piece of the good life if you’re a kid (or a parent.)

Unfortunately, West Side Park has fallen on hard times. Szabo noticed that most of the toys she remembers from growing up are gone, down to just three swings and two bouncy toys.

The slide broke and has been taken down. There is no drinking fountain or restroom. Much of the nearby street parking is muddy. 

She put out a call in the “You might be from Chehalis if...” Facebook page to look for other folks who have ideas or energy to spruce up the park.

The response was tremendous. The Chehalis Rotary expressed immediate interest. People chimed in with their memories of the park (including walking there alone to play as a 5- or 6-year old — imagine that today!)

Szabo and the Chehalis Rotary will hold an outdoor meeting at West Side Park this Tuesday at 6 p.m. to discuss what they’d like to see done at the park and explore funding options. (She encourages attendees to bring their own chairs, as seating is limited.)

This is a great example of citizenship in action — the kind of can-do spirit that revitalizes our shared life for the betterment of all.

As Szabo said, “I've seen a lot of ‘I hope someone does something’ but the reality is we are the ‘someone!’”

This, folks, is why we CAN have nice things.


See Election Accuracy for Yourself

The losing candidates for United States president and Washington state governor made a big point last fall of saying that the election was stolen from them.

I weighed those claims and their so-called evidence against my own experience as a journalist who spent a dozen years watching the careful, strictly nonpartisan way elections are conducted, and I came to my own conclusions.

If you are left with lingering doubts about the integrity of our voting system based on the “stop the steal” rhetoric of 2020, there is a great way to decide the truth for yourself based on real evidence — and that’s to learn firsthand about how votes are counted.

Our very own Lewis County Auditor’s Office is inviting the public on Monday at 10 a.m. for a “logic and accuracy” test of its computer program and ballot-counting process.

Anyone can come to watch and learn. The Auditor’s Office is on the main floor (up the stairs from the street) at the historic Lewis County Courthouse.

I believe you’ll come away with renewed faith in the professionalism and idealism of the men and women who count our ballots, and our democratic republic that their honest work upholds.


Brian Mitte loves a good park. Which one is your favorite? Let him know at