Program-changing director to take on new challenges

<p>Ivan Anderholm talks about his tenure with Hermiston Parks and Recreation. Anderholm announced he has accepted a position as the assistant director of Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation.</p>

When Ivan Anderholm started working for the city of Hermiston 15 years ago, he was a one-man recreation department with exactly zero programs. After mustering the first youth classes — arts and crafts in the library basement and a few youth sports such as flag football — he taught, refereed and laid field stripes with cans of spray paint.

“I did pretty much everything back then,” said Anderholm, 41.

Now the Parks and Recreation Department is a thriving six-person team offering more than 150 programs every year. It oversees the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center and creates and maintains city parks. Anderholm has grown the department into something beyond his wildest dreams, but now he’s headed for greener sports fields. Starting Oct. 10, he’ll be the new assistant director of the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department.

In Lake Oswego, four recreation divisions — senior services, cultural programs, special events and sports and fitness — will report to Anderholm, a challenge he’s looking forward to. But he won’t forget his experiences in Hermiston anytime soon.

“If you’re doing something worthwhile, this community will bend over backward to make sure it gets done,” he said.

Average Hermiston residents may not know Anderholm, but they are certainly familiar with his handiwork. The giant new fireworks display from atop the Hermiston Butte? “I take credit for that,” he said with a grin. “I’ve been pushing for 10 years to do fireworks from the butte.”

Anderholm wasn’t the driving force behind the aquatic center, he was the workhorse. He persuaded the public to support the center, lobbied and secured funding for the project and then acted as the on-site construction manager. Once it was up and running, Anderholm trained the staff.

“That was one of the experiences that I would never get anywhere else,” he said.

Anderholm brought back adult-league softball, volleyball and basketball. Among the offerings in this summer’s activity guide were fishing, gymnastics, art, photography, couponing, jam making, belly dance and musical drama. Youth sports programs grow by double-digit percentages every year.  

Anderholm originally planned to stay only a few years, build his resume and move on. Needless to say, Hermiston kept him happy for much longer.

“The opportunities and the variety of what I’ve been exposed to have just been phenomenal,” he said. “It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Anderholm announced his resignation at Monday night’s city council meeting, to the council’s good-natured disappointment. City Manager Ed Brookshier reminisced about Anderholm’s first few months, during which he acted very unlike a recreation specialist. He sat at his desk and wrote a lot, gathering information and creating a plan.

“You were the Parks and Recreation Department,” councilor Jackie Myers said. “What you’ve built out of it is nothing short of spectacular.”

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