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Year in Review

JANUARY

Police chief says goodbye
The Snohomish Police Department was disbanded Jan. 1, and Police Chief John Turner hung up his uniform blues and became a civilian again. The City Council voted in November 2011 to disband the department and contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Days later, the city swore in its newest 18 officers.
Judge rules in favor of city in Walmart case
Walmart can build a 155,000-square-foot supercenter at the planned North Kelsey shopping area, a judge ruled this month. The city of Monroe didn’t err in approving the giant retailer’s plan to build a supercenter, large parking lot and a possible fast-food restaurant. Friends of North Kelsey, a group opposed to the project, filed an appeal later in the year in state Court of Appeals. A ruling had not been made by the end of 2012.
Snohomish Slew keeps prediction to himself
Depending on who you asked, there either would be six more weeks of winter or spring would arrive early. Only Snohomish Slew knew for sure what the Pacific Northwest was in for as the frognosticator kept his prediction to himself at this year’s GroundFrog Day Saturday, Jan. 28. Had Slew made his famous croaking sound in front of the nearly 200 people who gathered at the gazebo on Avenue A in Snohomish, spring would have been just around the corner. Slew, though, only gave a faint gurgle. As a result, there will be neither six weeks of winter or spring.
Battle over red-light cameras cost Monroe
Red-light cameras can’t be banned through the initiative process but advisory votes on the subject are OK, a Snohom ish County Superior Court judge ruled in January. Judge George Bowden ruled the city of Monroe should have allowed an advisory vote on whether or not citizens want red-light cameras because the vote wouldn’t have been binding. The City Council’s decision to refuse to allow such a vote will cost it in court fines and attorney fees. The judge fined the city $10,000 and ordered it pay back the initiative sponsor’s attorney’s fees.
Remembering Jayme Biendl
Runners passed by the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe Sunday, Jan. 29 during the first Officer Jayme Biendl Memorial 5K run/walk. The run/walk is in memory of Biendl, who worked at the Monroe prison and was murdered by an inmate on that day one year ago. The run/walk raised more than $15,000 and 486 people participated.

FEBRUARY

Business owners question need for traffic signal
The city is planning to install traffic lights at Snohomish’s First Street and Avenue D intersection, but business owners nearby say they don’t think that’s necessary. The city says it will improve traffic. Comments gathered at a February open house indicate some people think it will actually worsen traffic at the city’s southern entrance into town. The traffic signal will be installed early 2013.
Everett Station turns 10
The city of Everett celebrated Everett Station’s 10-year anniversary this month. The transportation hub for Snohomish County has come a long way. Before Everett Station opened on Feb. 4, 2002, transit services made their stops in a hodgepodge of places. Community Transit never connected at the same place as Everett Transit, and the Greyhound bus station was out at the corner of Pacific and Hoyt avenues. Amtrak had a small depot near the intersection of Hewitt and Hoyt avenues. Sound Transit’s Sounder train had yet to start, but now Everett Station is its key northern terminus.
Opponents: Ruling highlights weakness in historic preservation code
An Everett property owner can replace a 1920s home with a larger house despite efforts of historic preservation advocates to stop the project. Neighbors and Historic Everett fought the project because they say it would disrupt the character of the neighborhood and devalue the historical integrity of the neighborhood. A city hearing examiner disagreed, determining this month that planning director Allan Giffen followed city code in allowing a 1926 Dutch Colonial to be relocated for the construction of a new house. The project highlights Everett’s lax code regarding historic preservation, Historic Everett president Valerie Steel said. The Dutch Colonial was later demolished in April.
City begins to dismantle North Kelsey guidelines
After the approval of a Walmart supercenter at North Kelsey, the city of Monroe began to gut the standards and design guidelines codified in the North Kelsey development subarea plan approved by the City Council in the early 2000s after extensive public review. The “North Kelsey vision” was a grand idea in theory, but the area is shaping up to be a general commercial district, city officials said this month. By year’s end, the City Council approved a significant rewrite of the plan.
City welcomes back motorcycle show
The Snohomish City Council in a swift 7-0 vote this month approved a special events permit for the Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show, bringing back the popular May show after a previous city decision forced the show to move elsewhere.
Washington becomes 7th state to legalize same-sex marriage
At Bar Myx, Everett’s only gay bar, the owners opened bottles of champagne Monday night to celebrate Washington’s landmark legislation signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier that day. “It’s kind of like the bars of hate are being lifted off from the community,” Chris Dainard of Granite Falls said. On Monday, Feb. 13, Gregoire signed same-sex marriage into law, making Washington the seventh state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage.
Officials: Naval Station Everett’s future looks bright
Local leaders are convinced Naval Station Everett’s future is secure with the announcement this month that new ships are coming. Over the next seven years, the U.S. Navy will replace three frigates with new or modified destroyers. With the change, the Navy base will be homeport to five destroyers in addition to an aircraft carrier, resulting in a 7 percent increase in personnel from 3,956 to 4,235.
Pilchuck River spills over banks
Heavy rain and melting snow in the Cascades this month prompted a flood watch for almost all of the rivers in Snohomish County. While the Snohomish River stayed within its banks for the most part, the concern in the Snohomish area was with the Pilchuck River. A number of homes along Sexton Road and Orchard Avenue took in flood water from the Pilchuck, and many roads in the area were closed due to flood water.
District offers first dual-language class
For the first time this upcoming 2012-2013 school year, parents can enroll their children in a kindergarten class that will be taught in both English and Spanish, the two most common languages spoken in the Monroe School District.

MARCH

Gymnasts compete in Everett
The U.S. Gymnastics team competed in the Pacific Rim Championships at Comcast Arena in Everett. Olympic hopefuls from 17 countries participated in the weekend event that attracted more than 20,000 fans to the city.
Snohomish debate team wins state competition
The Snohomish High School speech and debate team did it again. The worldly wordsmiths beat 40 teams to win the 4A team state championship in Speech by a large margin. The team took home nine awards. The team has placed in the top five at state five times in the past six years. 
Seattle-Snohomish Mill closes down
The Seattle-Snohomish lumber mill, which has been part of the Snohomish community since 1941, closed its doors this month. The mill, located on 17 acres outside city limits along the southern bank of the Snohomish River, cited the collapse of the housing market and overseas market pressure as reasons for deciding to close. The mill once employed 160 people, but when it shut down this month only 50 employees were left. At the end of the year, the mill started up again to an unknown work capacity.
Heritage’s rezone request back before city
Heritage Baptist Fellowship’s controversial rezone request was back this month before the city of Monroe, which previously rejected similar requests brought by the church on environmental, traffic and flooding concerns. The latest rezone request would go through a number of political maneuvering before being approved by the City Council in an unpopular vote later this year. The approval didn’t last long and was reversed by the council. 
Stabbing suspect gets 13 years in plea deal
The 15-year-old girl accused of stabbing two students at Snohomish High School in October 2011 pleaded guilty in juvenile court this month and will serve 13 years in jail.

APRIL

City celebrates Easter
The city of Snohomish celebrated Easter with its 32nd annual Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Contest April 7. The bonnet contest attracted nearly 100 participants and included Lucy the dog and a guinea pig in the pet category. Thousands of people lined First Street for the parade prior to the bonnet contest. The weather was perfect for the Easter festivities as skies were clear and the temperatures warmed up for the weekend.
Council reverses decision to limit parking downtown
The Snohomish City Council voted 6-1 to repeal the new three-hour downtown parking limit ordinance, which drew immediate fire when it was adopted late 2011. A new survey showed most respondents wanted to revert back to no time limits downtown.

MAY

Mother’s Day tradition ends after 34 years

The 2012 Mother’s Day variety show was the Leight Fantastics last show, bringing an end to a 34-year Snohomish tradition. The tireless 90-year-old woman behind the show, Eleanor Leight, said she looks forward to working on other projects with her dance troupe.
Art center transforming downtown
The Schack Art Center in Everett celebrated its one-year anniversary Sunday, May 6. It took years of work to get the Schack open, and it is becoming a recognized hub for the arts in Everett. Some credit the Schack with helping change downtown’s image. Michelle Denton hears the “oohs” and “aahs” from her seat at the front desk counter. “Most of them are shocked to see Everett has something of this caliber,” Denton said.
Collins Building pieces find new homes
The Collins Building in Everett is now gone, but almost every piece salvaged from it found a new home both near and far. More than 90 percent of the material determined salvageable went to 17 other historic buildings across the region, Chris Moore, field director of the nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, said. This includes timber and windows. Parts of the 84-year-old Collins Building made it as far as Colville in Eastern Washington, Moore said. Other pieces made it into buildings in Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties.
Council member dies in rafting accident
Everett City Councilman Drew Nielsen died in a rafting accident on May 12. He was 61. At a public memorial Sunday, May 20 at Everett Station, more than 300 people showed up to pay their respects. Earlier that week, a group of 60 people attended a private gathering May 14 at Northwest Neighborhood Park, a park Nielsen helped create.
More details revealed about proposed wakeboard park
H3O was back before the Monroe City Council in May with more details about their plans to build a cable tow wakeboard park at Lake Tye. The company’s presentation was billed as an attempt to clear up misconceptions about the project and both supporters and opponents filled the council chambers to hear it. The City Council approved an agreement with H30 in June.
Site for new ferry terminal selected
Washington State Ferries selected putting a new Mukilteo ferry terminal one-third of a mile east of the existing terminal and partially onto the U.S Air Force Tank Farm. Elliot Point 2, the preferred site alternative, would best avoid environmental impacts and addresses problems at the existing terminal, which is located at the foot of Front Street and state Route 525, according to WSF. A final decision on the site location is expected spring 2013.
Council selects interim council member
Working quickly this month, the Everett City Council selected Gigi Burke to temporarily fill the seat left empty by the passing of Councilman Drew Nielsen. Burke got the nod after five of the six council members nominated her from a pool of 10 applicants.
Garden club raises money for flower baskets
The Snohomish Garden Club rallied its members and was able to resurrect a scaled-down version of the downtown historic district flower basket program. The club raised enough money to hang and water 25 baskets along First Street. The baskets went up this month.

JUNE

Pilot pesticide-free program comes to an end
The effort to keep Lowell Neighborhood Park in Everett free of pesticides came to an end when the city began spraying parts of the park once again. The Lowell Civic Association maintained the entire 10-acre park without using pesticides for two years under an effort led by association vice chair Megan Dunn.
This year, the neighborhood agreed to let the parks department spray in the park after not enough volunteers could keep the park up to city standards.
Scholarship fund raises record amount
The Snohomish Education Foundation awarded a record $152,000 in scholarships to Snohomish School District graduating seniors. This amount is comprised of 155 individual awards provided to exceptional students.
Thrift shop will benefit senior center
The Snohomish Senior Center opened a thrift store this month called Fabulously Frugal Thrift Shop at 611 Second St. The proceeds from the store’s sales will go toward senior center programs. The store will be “the Nordstrom Rack of thrift stores,” city economic development manager Debbie Emge said.
Highway 522 rock blasting begins
The Department of Transportation began rock blasting along Highway 522 near Monroe in preparation for work that will add a new lane in each direction over four miles of highway. DOT will be removing 300,000 cubic yards of rock along the westbound lanes. Drivers can expect up to 150 weekday closures through mid-2013.
Arbitrator upholds officer’s firing
He resorted to deadly force too quickly, and he was stripped of his badge for his poor judgment. Arbitrator Janet Gaunt this month upheld the Everett Police Department’s decision to fire police officer Troy Meade for a 2009 line-of-duty shooting that killed a drunken man.

JULY

City begins installing water meters in north Everett
The city began installing water meters in northeast Everett this month. More than 12,000 homes will be getting water meters by 2017 to meet a state mandate passed by the Legislature in 2003. Most north Everett homes don’t have meters because their homes were built before meters were required by the city in the 1990s.
SHS stabbing victims sue district, hospital
The families of the victims of the two students stabbed at Snohomish High School in fall 2011 are suing Snohomish School District, Fairfax Hospital and the parents of the assailant claiming the attack was preventable. April Lutz and Bekah Staudacher were stabbed multiple times inside a school bathroom by a now 16-year-old student who pleaded guilty in March and is serving a 13-year sentence. The victims’ attorney Sim Osborn said the female assailant should have never been allowed back on campus.
City to replace Broadway Bridge
The Broadway Bridge is long overdue for replacement. The city of Everett plans to tear down the 100-year-old bridge over the railroad tracks in spring 2013. Traffic will be diverted off the bridge, and drivers can expect the crossing to be closed for one year during construction.
Council rejects, then supports marriage equality
At the July 3 City Council meeting, Mayor Karen Guzak brought forth an opportunity for the city of Snohomish to join a nationwide marriage equality movement. The City Council didn’t want to get involved. Guzak said she would like to sign the national initiative “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry,” but she wanted the support of the council first. “Mayors” is a nonpartisan group of mayors who “believe that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage,” according to the group’s website. The group’s board is made up of the mayors of New York City, Boston, Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles. In this state, the mayors of Seattle, Shoreline, Stanwood, Redmond, Vancouver, Des Moines, Ferndale, Issaquah, Olympia and Burien have signed the initiative. In Snohomish, Councilman Derrick Burke was Guzak’s sole supporter.
The council reversed its decision in September after hearing from residents.

AUGUST

Hearing examiner’s ruling blasts city’s analysis of church rezone
Monroe hearing examiner John Galt decided this month in favor of Lowell Anderson and his neighbors, rejecting the city’s phased environmental impact statement of Heritage Baptist Fellowship’s controversial rezone request, calling the environmental analysis “profoundly lacking” in detail. The City Council would later approve the rezone only to reverse that decision days later. As it stands at the close of 2012, the church’s land remains limited open space.
Seismic work on Carnegie begins 
The city of Snohomish began seismic work on the former Carnegie Library this month and work will last into early 2013.
The seismic retrofit project will make the historic 1910 building more stable during an earthquake by strengthening existing structure materials, replacing the clay roof tile and upgrading the building’s framing, diaphragm and roof-wall connections.
It is the first step in the city’s effort to restore and reopen the building to the public.
Evergreen Fair kicks off
The Evergreen State Fair in Monroe opened on Aug. 23.
City, landowner reach agreement to fix road
The city of Everett could have Lowell-Larimer Road restored to two lanes by fall 2012 after securing a deal this month with a property owner to come onto his property to fix the road.
The city needed an agreement in place to get onto Hugh Henrickson’s property because it’s the only access point to fix the section of the road. The road has been reduced to one lane since July 2011 for safety reasons. The city closed the lane after the shoulder slid down a slope caused by a landslide.

SEPTEMBER

City releases 4 development options for old mill site
The city of Everett has four development alternatives mapped out for the former Kimberly-Clark mill site known as the Central Waterfront Planning Area.
One alternative sticks with current zoning regulations. The other three include a combination of water-dependent and heavy industrial uses, a business park and public access land use layout and a mix of water-dependent and non-water-dependent industrial uses.
Whooping cough cases at all-time high
Whooping cough cases have hit an all-time high in Snohomish County, and the first case at a school has been reported this month. As of Sept. 13, the Snohomish Health District has reported 507 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, this year, eclipsing the 226 reported in 2011. A student at Mukilteo’s Voyager Middle School reported having whooping cough during the first week of school. Health officials do not believe the student needed hospitalization.
So far, whooping cough has caused nine hospitalizations.
Festival of Pumpkins begins
When fall sets in around Snohomish, you know it’s time to head out to one of six family-owned valley farms participating in the Festival of Pumpkins. The festival offers family fun events including pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides.
Road work begins in 2 neighborhoods
The city of Snohomish’s first street projects funded by the sales-tax-supported Transportation Benefit District began this month. The two projects involve work on 16th Street and Terrace Avenue and on 10th Street.

OCTOBER

School remodel complete
In Beth Porter’s five years as principal of Snohomish High School, she has probably seen more changes to her school than most principals see in their career.
Porter not only works as principal of Snohomish, but she also oversaw the more than 100-year-old school’s complete reconstruction and remodel, which was officially finished this school year and rededicated in a ceremony this month.
Parents, students and faculty — old and new — celebrated the seven brand-new and remodeled buildings in a community rededication ceremony Monday, Oct. 1. District spokeswoman Kristin Foley said about 500 people came to the ceremony at the school at 1316 Fifth St.
The school jazz band played and the jazz choir sang, and special guests such as Superintendent Bill Mester spoke during a presentation in the newly remodeled gym. Associated Student Body president Lindsey Shackelford also spoke.
School district opposed to lowering impact fees
The Monroe School Board announced at its Oct. 8 board meeting that it is “adamantly opposed” to a city proposal to reduce the amount collected for school impact fees.
Fire chief to retire
Snohomish Fire Chief Mark Collins announced his retirement this month. He had been with Snohomish Fire District 4 for more than 30 years.
Work begins on district’s aquatic facility
The eagerly awaited Snohomish School District’s $21.3 million aquatic center is slowly but surely taking shape as construction workers this month began pouring concrete that will support one of the center’s three pools.
The facility will have three pools including a competitive Olympic-sized pool with 10 lanes and a recreational pool with a lazy river. Other features include a hot tub, bleachers for 420 spectators, locker rooms, family changing rooms and a water slide.
The center is scheduled to open fall 2013.

NOVEMBER

Providence breaks ground on new building
The city of Monroe and hospital officials celebrated the groundbreaking of Providence Regional Medical Center’s new $22 million facility at North Kelsey early this month. The facility, which will begin construction soon, is expected to be open by fall 2013 and will replace the current Providence facility at 14692 179th Ave. SE.
Bader beats Robinson for council seat
Scott Bader defeated June Robinson for Everett City Council. The seat on council opened up after the death of Councilman Drew Nielsen who died in May in a rafting accident.
People celebrate election returns at Everett bars
Rousing cheers marked much of the night at two bars as election results rolled in. The loudest cheers came when President Obama clinched the electoral votes needed for re-election.
People there were hoping for the passages of Referendum 74, which upholds the legalization of same-sex marriage, and Initiative 502, which legalizes marijuana. Both were approved.
Council reverses decision to charge for parking at park
The city of Mukilteo reversed its decision to charge for parking at Lighthouse Park and to install parking meters downtown. Parking will remain free and on a first come, first served basis.

DECEMBER

Hatloe to retire at end of year
Everett City Councilman Arlan Hatloe surprised everyone by announcing his retirement at the end of the year.
Hatloe, 73, will be stepping down with one year left in his third term in office.
First same-sex couples apply for marriage
Lynnwood couple Keith and Kevin Arnett and their neighbors Molly Lloyd-Wilson and Corine Schmidt were the first couples in line at 7:30 a.m. to apply for marriage licenses.
The two couples were among almost a dozen same-sex couples who came to the Snohomish County auditor’s office registration desk in Everett to get marriage licenses. By the end of the day, the auditor’s office reported 25 same-sex couples got marriage license applications Dec. 6. The first same-sex marriages took place Sunday, Dec. 9 after the state’s required three-day waiting period.
“It means we’re finally equal in the eyes of the law,” Keith Arnett, 61, said.
Kevin Arnett, 57, said he didn’t think either of them would see same-sex marriage legalized in their lifetimes. “I’m delighted.”
The Arnetts took their license, gave each other a kiss and Kevin held up the paperwork to a round of applause. The couple has been together for 12 years and married on Dec. 9.
FAA clears path for commercial flights
The FAA clears the path for commercial flights at Paine Field in Everett.
The Federal Aviation Administration this month gave airlines an expected “OK” to fly from Everett’s Paine Field. The decision faces a Snohomish County environmental review and a legal challenge from the city of Mukilteo.
Stonecipher not happy with waterfront plan
Everett City Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher is objecting to plans to keep the former Kimberly-Clark Mill site on the waterfront zoned industrial. She would rather see the area become a high-wage business park. She said allowing heavy manufacturing there is a step backward.
“Why would we go back, I do not share that vision,” Stonecipher said. “This is what we’ve tried to rise above and get away from.”
The council will vote on the development option in January.
Valley General reaches deal with EvergreenHealth
Kirkland-based EvergreenHealth and Valley General Hospital in Monroe have approved an agreement that makes Valley General an affiliate of EvergreenHealth. The boards of each organization approved the agreement in a unanimous vote on Dec. 4.
Wakeboard park permits vote moved to January
The Monroe City Council in December postponed its vote on approving permits for the wakeboard park on Lake Tye, moving the vote to Tuesday, Jan. 15.

 

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