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Myrtle Creek: Sparks and Recreation

I split a pizza with the mayor this week. Members of the city council grabbed a couple slices, too. The Chamber of Commerce president even joined us at the table. You may have seen it in the local newspaper. Their photographer swung by to document the whole thing.

That wasn’t exactly the experience I planned prior to visiting Myrtle Creek, OR, the Pacific Northwest’s take on Mayberry. I was originally on a mission to party. Matthew Hald, owner/inspector of Superior Northwest Home Inspections, was selected by Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific as the recipient of a 2019 Spark Award – an honor recognizing young businesses positively impacting the communities where they operate. I made the trip down from Seattle to celebrate his win.

That celebration was happening at Abby’s Legendary Pizza, a reliable lunch spot located a little past downtown on the other side of the Myrtle Creek Bridge. I rolled into the parking lot fully prepared to share with Hald the many reasons why his business deserved the win. Hald prioritizes honesty, integrity and excellence, proudly providing stability to customers as they go through the nerve-wracking experience of purchasing a home. Most importantly, Hald takes pride in what he does and loves where he does it.

The affection was mutual. I walked into Abby’s and was immediately greeted by a dedicated corps of civic engagers. In addition to the irresistible allure of afternoon pizza, they all gathered to celebrate an appreciated community leader. The group patiently listened to me deliver a brief speech and present Hald his Spark Award before unleashing applause that echoed at least as far as the salad bar.

It was a reception that carried more weight than I first realized. In addition to being one of Myrtle Creek’s most esteemed business owners, Hald is its mayor. The community of roughly 3,000 residents found themselves without any candidates during their most recent mayoral election, so the city council asked Hald to fill the vacancy. He happily reported for public service.

The remainder of the meal was spent discussing plans Hald and our lunchmates had in the works. This fall introduced a scarecrow decorating competition that welcomed entries from more than 30 local businesses. And next summer, Myrtle Creek will host its first-ever 5K — the Steelhead Run — intended to highlight the town’s most scenic spots. Those events tie into a full rebrand, complete with an updated logo and collateral, that’s on the docket, too. It’s all part of an effort to shed more light on a community its residents adore.

If I’d stayed a half hour longer, I may have volunteered to join Hald and his team on the planning committee. And I’d have been lucky if they let me. It’s always impressive to read award submissions for businesses like Superior Northwest Home Inspections, but it’s even more inspiring to see those words put into action.

Mayor Hald is adding authentic culture and embedding social impact into Myrtle Creek. And his Spark Award-winning business is just one slice of a much larger pie.

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Written by Ben Spradling

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