PENDLETON - When he left Eastern Oregon about 20 years ago John Lindstrom never dreamed he'd have an opportunity to come back.

After growing up in Ione and graduating from high school there in 1979, Lindstrom eventually got into the construction trade, beginning in Hermiston with O'Brien Construction in the early 1980s. After working his way up in the construction industry, he returned to Umatilla County last month as Pendleton's new building official.

Lindstrom, 44, spent the past 21/2 years as building official for the city of Newberg. Before that, he was a Yamhill County building inspector for about three years.

As a city building official, he has the final opinion about whether building plans, or the construction itself, meet the various building codes. Lindstrom has a number of certifications, all obtained by passing three-hour, 100-question examinations. Among his certifications are fire, life-safety; commercial and family plans examiner, commercial and family structural examiner; family mechanical, plumbing and electrical inspector and manufactured home installation inspector. He's working on obtaining his commercial mechanical inspector's certificate.

"It's business as usual," he said, referring to the changeover in the city building department. "The door swings both ways. I'm here to help the contractors."

Lindstrom's wife, Ronna, is employed at Fife Cockburn & Co. certified public accountants. They have two children who attend Sunridge Middle School.

"It was like it was meant to be," Lindstrom said, explaining how the family returned. Last spring they were visiting to help the Currin family work cows along Little Butter Creek when he noticed an ad in the East Oregonian for the building official's job. He applied, and a week later his wife saw a classified ad for an opening at Fife Cockburn. She, too, applied. Both were notified they'd been hired within 24 hours in late June, he said, and they were thrilled.

"This entire town has treated us like a million dollars," he said.

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