Chuck Spieth served his community in many ways. I first got to know him as our friendly neighborhood police chief – literally – living just down the block from the home in which I grew up. It wasn’t unusual to see his police cruiser parked at his house, I’d like to think he helped to keep my brothers and I, and all the neighborhood kids on the straight and narrow. While some police seemed to take the more aggressive – “scared straight” method of dealing with kids, I never saw Chuck as that type of officer.
When I came back to town after college and wandering a bit, Chuck was my Farmer’s Insurance Agent and always seemed to have my back when it came to insuring my vehicles and home. He also served as an Oroville City Councilman and while somewhat quiet, especially compared to other council members, he always seemed to think things trough thoroughly, before casting his vote for this or that issue. Later when he became mayor, he was much the same way, never seeming to get upset or shaken about the issues that affect our community. He was a good leader and he deserves to be remember as one of Oroville’s great mayors.
I say he never got upset, maybe that should be qualified – he cared deeply about the city’s ambulance service and you could see that the dissension among the volunteer ambulance personnel was getting to him. He mostly kept his cool, but there were a few times when you could see he felt overwhelmed by what was happening to the service. The decision to accept the volunteers en mass resignation I know weighed heavily on him. It was too bad the city had to go to a contracted service, but it seems that it was the right decision and Lifeline is doing a good job for the city.
Chuck was always a good mayor to work with, while he wasn’t at every city event, he made himself available to most of the public if there was an issue to discuss, this while still operating his own business. Unlike city mayors, small town mayors aren’t paid to be on duty 24-hours a day. As a newspaper reporter Chuck was always forthcoming with a comment on issues involving the city – never shying away from letting you know his opinion.
Mostly what I remember about Chuck was that he had a great sense of humor, finding a laugh in nearly anything. When you went to see him you could easily get caught up in a conversation about everything from what’s going on in the city to any of a number of issues that didn’t directly involve Oroville.
While newspaper reporters aren’t supposed to get too chummy with the people they report on, that’s a nearly impossible task in a small town. I’ll always consider Chuck a friend and know that he will be missed as Oroville’s mayor and as a valued member of the Oroville community.
I wish the best of luck to our new mayor, Jon Neal, and hope he can carry on in the office, bringing the same decorum and true concern for his community that his predecessor did.
Editor’s Note: The city council chose Jon Neal to be Oroville’s new mayor. He will hold that position until the next ballot, when if he decides to he can run for re-election. The same is true of whomever is selected by the council to take Neal’s place as a council member. The city is seeking letters of interest from people who live within the city limits and are eligible to serve as a council member.