Bill Moeller Commentary: Errors and Omissions — Me?


I’ve found that one of the most embarrassing things about writing columns — such as this friendly psalm — are the occasions when discovering that a little more research could have, and should have, been done before sending a completed column to The Chronicle. 

Maybe I just wanted to be “trendy” and disregard “fact checking.” 

Two weeks ago, I expressed my opinion with absolute support for the proposed YMCA camp on the shores of Mineral Lake. I based that feeling on the wonderful weeks spent each year at Lutherland on the shores of Lake Killarney, between Tacoma and Seattle. 

The two large cabins there couldn’t have held more than 20 or 25 youths each. That was a reasonable number, small enough to learn many of the campers’ names but large enough to gather plenty of players for any sport.

And while I still support the concept of a proposed camp on Mineral Lake, for what it’s worth, learning that the planned project would be based on a figure of around 400 campers was enough to make me retract my original support unless they replace that number with a figure at least 75% smaller. 

“Sorry,” said I in a lofty manner, as if my opinion was being sought.

On another matter, the writing of last week’s column about Centralia’s farmers market somehow brought to mind the incident about Centralia’s downtown benches. Remember that episode?    After they were installed, I figured that they were meant for out-of-towners who had grown weary after purchasing so many antiques. 

The only problem as I saw it was the fact that they were installed at the outer edge of each sidewalk and facing toward traffic instead of the sidewalk itself, which in my mind would have been the more neighborly thing to do. To me, it meant that human contact between shoppers, workers and local citizens was about as non-existent as possible. I also felt that asking visitors to rest on the bench with nothing more to look at than the side of a parked car was just not being friendly. 

A few benches did get turned around to face humanity rather than cars zooming by, but slowly and quietly some were removed. 

On a recent Sunday morning — after I had picked up a copy of The Sunday Seattle Times (OK, so I read it for the funnies before passing them to my son) — I drove downtown and noted that many benches still remained in what could be considered Tower Avenue’s main business district. As far as I could tell, their backs are still turned against any human connection with those citizens and visitors who are walking on the sidewalks. 

Enough of that.  How many of you can remember when the little brick passageway was cleared from Tower to the city parking lot on Pearl? It was just north of Duffy’s Florist and had lovely plantings and a bench or two where one could take a brief rest while shopping. It was a very attractive streetscape. 

A final note: Now that the outdoor eating area has been established on Pine Street perhaps the rear of that street could host what I’ve been touting for years — a public restroom outside of the one in the train depot. I don’t know how many times I’ve written that we’re the only city trying to attract shoppers that I know of that doesn’t have one.

Another final note: How many can remember being at the intersection of Pine Street with Tower Avenue when President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore both spoke to the crowd, with their wives sitting on the platform behind them? When they were done and everyone crowded to get a handshake with either of them, I was standing only about 3 inches too far away to shake hands with the president of the United States.

The entourage then enjoyed a dinner catered by Wigley’s with fried chicken, baked goods. Real “home cooking.” Rumors are that they felt our town was one of their most delicious dinner stops!


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at