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Cassie Sollars named MDA manager

Nov 1, 2012


News-Register Staff

Cassie Sollars, Viewpoints editor for the New-Register, has been named manager of the McMinnville Downtown Association. She will start work in her new position Monday.

Sollars, who has served in an interim capacity for the MDA since the resignation of Kris Gullo, has a lengthy history with the organization.

She started as the paid bookkeeper in 1995, and continued in a volunteer capacity after she was hired by the News-Register as an executive assistant to the publisher in 1997. She has served as secretary of the board for the last ten years, since 2002, and was honored with MDA’s excellence in voluntarism in both 2003 and 2010. 

Sollars believes the board and manager of the MDA need to be pro-active with major projects that are currently planned, looking ahead over the next 25 years. They include the Urban Renewal District, the Northeast Gateway Project and the transit mall and transportation system.

She wants to ensure that the MDA maintains the influence it has in the community.

Sollars is also a very strong believer in the institutional knowledge for the association, keeping in mind the visions of people like the late Phil Bladine, who joined Chair Glen Macy in the 1970s in leading a redevelopment committee for the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce.

That produced the original development plan for the downtown area. That included putting the utilities underground, planting the trees, rounding off the sidewalks at the intersections and adding the kiosks.

The MDA was formed in 1985 with Roger Heller as president. Malcolm Johnstone became the first full-time manager. 

Sollars said she’s enjoyed her time with the News-Register, but said, “It’s too big an opportunity to pass up.”

She was promoted to Viewpoints editor five years ago, when Wanda McAlister, a longtime journalist, decided it was time to retire one last time. Prior to joining the newspaper staff, Sollars worked in banking, accounting and real estate. 

“We’re extremely sorry to see Cassie go after not quite 15 years,” said Publisher Jeb Bladine. “It’s a difficult change for us.”

However, it will give his son, Ossie, the News-Register’s news editor, the opportunity to assume a more active role on the editorial board. Ossie represents the fourth generation of Bladines associated with the newspaper, daying back to Lars in 1928, Jeb noted.

In addition to her service with the MDA, Sollars has served as an officer in the McMinnville Kiwanis Club, Yamhill County Foundation, McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, Yamhill Valley Visitors Association, McMinnville Area Cultural Association, McMinnville City Club, Arts Alliance of Yamhill County and McMinnville Montessori School. She has also served on the McMinnville Planning Commission and McMinnville Citizens Advisory Committee. 

Sollars was named as the McMinnville Jaycees Woman of hte Year in 2004. She won the chamber’s Excellence in Voluntarism award in 1999 and Director of the Year award in 2001.

“McMinnville is a very magical place,” Sollars said. “We do some things differently here.”

She said she can’t wait to get started.

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