Year in review: A look back at the news in 2013
Record season for mudslides shutting down train service
It was a record season for mudslides along the Port Gardner bluffs delaying rail service in the Everett area.
Mudslides canceled 134 Sounder North train trips and canceled 55 Amtrak Cascades train trips and forced Amtrak to bus people in lieu of the train 63 other times. This season has been an unprecedented slide season, Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said. The average slide season causes about 20 Sounder trip cancellations, Reason said. The last record high was 70 trip cancellations in the 2010 slide season. Part of the issue is that Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s tracks lie mainly along the water with bluffs and steep grades adjacent to the tracks.
Tourist train talks resume under new leadership
Talks have restarted on stalled plans to bring a tourist train to town that would bring people from the wineries in Woodinville to downtown Snohomish. Snohomish city officials attended a meeting this month to discuss the possibility of a tourist rail line with Eastside Community Rail, the new company taking over the project after the initial company GNP Railway went into bankruptcy.
City Council approves wakeboard park
The wakeboard park project at Lake Tye cleared the City Council with a 6-1 vote this month. Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback voted no.
Unlike in the past when this topic was before the Monroe council, no one spoke out during the time set aside for citizen comments.
The project will take up 17 acres of the 42-acre lake and will include a cable-tow wakeboard ride supported by six towers and a beginner cable line supported by two towers in the southern portion of the lake. The ride will include trick features and a 2,500-square-foot pro shop that will house ticket and retail sales, restrooms, lockers and office.
The developers plan to begin construction in January or February 2014.
2 names for plaza emerge
The Everett City Council will have two names to consider for the new downtown plaza. The city’s historical commission recommended naming it either Theatre Plaza or Wetmore Theatre Plaza at its January meeting. The $2.4 million plaza sits on a quarter-block next to the Everett Performing Arts Center on Wetmore Avenue. The council went with Wetmore Theatre Plaza.
City gathering comments on wildlife sanctuary plan
The parks board heard from about 15 residents on a draft wildlife refuge plan that was finalized later in the year and incorporated within the city’s parks master plan.
The city wants to make wildlife refuge areas for the public to view animals in their natural environment more acces sible. Just inside Snohomish city limits at the west end of town on the northwest side of the Snohomish River Bridge is one such viewing site. The site has a nearly one-mile path along the river. Public access to the path, completed in 2011, offers opportunities to watch birds and other animals living in the nearby marsh. The marsh is owned by the Pilchuck Audubon Society.
The marsh is largely undeveloped and would stay that way in the wildlife refuge plan, which is being developed by the city and Pilchuck Audubon Society.
Volunteers count homeless for annual survey
Volunteers took to the streets this month for Snohomish County’s annual homeless count. The volunteers found 1,960 homeless individuals countywide, a decrease from 2011 and 2012 numbers, according to preliminary numbers.
The Jan. 24 Point in Time Count isn’t a true count of homeless people because it is based on how many people are found by volunteers willing to be interviewed that day. The count gives just a snapshot of the county’s homeless population.
Snohomish Slew predicts early spring
About 200 people turned out to hear frognosticator Snohomish Slew’s weather prediction on GroundFrog Day Saturday, Feb. 2 in Snohomish. While he remained silent during the annual event, Slew predicted an early spring the night before during a television interview. The East Coast’s weather predictor, Punxsutawney Phil, also predicted an early spring.
Parents sue police over son’s shooting death
The parents of an armed man shot and killed by Everett police at his doorstep in 2008 sued the city this month in federal court over allegations the officers didn’t need to kill their son.
Dustin Willard’s parents argue the officers identified in the suit, Sunny Radosevich, Aaron Showalter and Stephen Harney, failed to announce their presence the night they were called to Willard’s house in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2008, and that other actions could have been taken to prevent the fatal shooting, according to Larry and Debra Willard’s lawsuit.
The city’s and the Willard’s versions of what happened that night differ as to whether Willard, 31, raised his gun at officers and whether or not officers properly approached the situation.
12 Everett students picked to play with Navy Concert Band
Twelve high school students in Everett were selected to perform with the U.S. Navy Concert Band, one of the most prestigious bands in the country, when the band visited Everett. The band plays for the president, at state funerals and at other major national events.
Local spirits flow at Snohomish on the Rocks Distillery Festival
Skip Rock distillery co-owner Julie Hembree poured craft beer at the second annual Snohomish on the Rocks Distillery Festival Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Snohomish Events Center. Of the 19 distilleries that participated in the two-day event, two were from Snohomish: Skip Rock and Dark Moon.
Valley General asks for levy increase
Valley General Hospital proposed its first levy increase since the late 1990s this spring.
The levy went before voters in April and asked for 37 cents per $1,000 assessed home value. The hospital’s current levy rate of 14 cents was the lowest in the state among public hospitals. The levy passed.
Claytown Park renovation begins with $10,000 boost from Kiwanis Club
Improvements to Claytown Park began this month and was largely made possible by a $10,000 donation from the Snohomish Kiwanis Club.
The park re-opened later in the year.
Kirkland could derail plans for tourist train
Unless advocates of a tourist train between Woodinville and Snohomish can talk the mayor of Kirkland out of it, Kirkland’s plans to tear up a nearly six-mile line of tracks will throw a major kink in their long-range plans.
Mayor Karen Guzak met with Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride this month to present the case to dissuade her from moving forward with her city’s plans to remove the tracks. Kirkland residents prefer the plan for a recreational trail over expanding train service. An injunction filed in federal court has since put the brakes on Kirkland’s plans to tear up the tracks.
Snohomish teacher is Civic Educator of the Year
Snohomish High School teacher Tuck Gionet was named one of two Civic Educators of the Year by the Legislature and accepted the honor Feb. 18 at the Capitol Campus in Olympia. Gionet teaches his students how to be active citizens. Gionet not only has his students come up with ideas for bills and properly write them out, he also brings his students by the busload to Olympia to present the bills to lawmakers. Many of the students’ bills receive sponsorship by a representative or senator. Some become law. More than two-thirds of Gionet’s 30 years of teaching have been spent teaching senior government at Snohomish High School. “The kids take a lot of pride in it,” Gionet said. “I might be the recipient of the award, but it’s all based on the kids’ efforts. They’re the ones that go down and take care of business.”
Seagulls win 3A District 1 title
Everett Seagulls girls basketball team won the 3A District 1 title when they beat the Glacier Peak Grizzlies of Snohomish 68-58 Feb. 15 at Lynnwood High School. This is the Seagulls’ first district title win since the 1970s.
‘Enough is enough’: Reardon announces he will resign May 31
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon announced he would be resigning later this year amid a maelstrom of scandals and battles with the County Council.
Reardon made the announcement at the end of his annual state of the county address Feb. 21 as he faced mounting calls for a full investigation of his administration on whether or not he broke campaign rules during his 2011 bid for re-election.
Bakery moving into former Mardini’s building
Snohomish Bakery and Cafe will be expanding its business and moving into the former Mardini’s Restaurant.
Ingrid Harten and husband Andy Papadatos’ bakery and cafe has been a part of the downtown community for seven years, and with business steadily increasing, they’ve been thinking about an expansion for some time.
The family friendly restaurant, which will be a separate but complimentary business, will be called First & Union Downtown Grill. The restaurant will occupy the former Mardini’s bar area, while the bakery will be located in the former dining area.
Skills gap focus of Murray visit to Everett
Business leaders told U.S. Sen. Patty Murray this month that more people need to have the math and science skills to be ready to work in technical jobs. Murray came to Everett to hear from leaders in the aerospace industry about their concerns on the ever-present national “skills gap” impacting the employment market.
Snohomish celebrates Easter
Madeline Carlson, 8, of Snohomish watches for the judges to come her way during the annual Easter Bonnet contest March 30 in Snohomish.
Kai Smalley named new Panthers football coach
Kai Smalley has been named the new Snohomish High School football coach.
Smalley is a native of the Pacific Northwest and received his degree from the University of Oregon. Smalley played for the University of Oregon Ducks as a defensive lineman from 1998 through 2002.
City wins red-light camera appeal
The state Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city of Monroe on red-light cameras.
The ruling says the issue of red-light cameras is outside the scope of the local initiative power. The ruling says the decision to use red-light cameras lies with local legislative bodies — such as city councils — and not with the electorate.
The ruling invalidates a 2011 citizen’s initiative to remove the city’s current cameras and impose a public vote before any future move is made to install cameras.
Runners battle fire and ice
Kimberly Hinsdale and Mary Richardson, both of Snohomish, run over smoldering hay during the 5K Fire and Ice Run March 2 at Bartelheimer Farm in Snohomish. Nearly 1,000 people participated in the fire-and-ice-themed obstacle course, which featured mud holes, water-covered slides and smoldering hay piles.
Arboretum celebrates 50 years in Everett
The volunteers who maintain the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens at American Legion Park celebrated the arboretum’s 50th anniversary this month.
The 10-garden arboretum spans 3.5 acres. The gardens include a Japanese maple grove, a rock garden and a woodland garden.
The group used the event as a springboard to raise money to complete the arboretum’s south wing. The south wing will finish the plans laid out for the arboretum in 1963.
‘No further action’ recommendation on rooming houses
After listening to impassioned testimony from nearly 70 Snohomish residents about two rooming house ordinances at an overflowing public hearing this month, the planning commission agreed to send a “no action” recommendation to the City Council.
Nearly 200 people attended the April 3 public hearing. Residents have been organizing for months in opposition to two draft ordinances that would allow very tiny apartment units with their own private bedroom and bathroom but shared kitchen within one building in single-family residential and multifamily residential zones.
One resident against rooming houses presented the planning commission with a petition of 768 signatures opposing the idea.
“Our preference as a commission is that no further action be taken on either ordinance,” planning commission chair Rolf Rautenberg said.
Ron Simmons named Snohomish fire chief
Since his boss and longtime mentor Mark Collins retired as fire chief of Snohomish Fire District 4, Ron Simmons has been busy orchestrating big changes as he officially takes the title of chief this month.
Snohomish Eagles Building’s new chapter
Scott Swoboda put millions of dollars into a dream he’s had since childhood to restore the Eagles Building on First and Cedar to its original splendor. It took another month until the final touches were done, but for the most part, the Eagles Building’s three-year restoration was completed this month.
The building was built in 1904 and housed an Eagles Club up until around 2007. At one point, Swoboda said, the membership of the Eagles Club was more than the population of the city.
View Ridge celebrates newly designed school
View Ridge Vikings of all ages came to celebrate the school’s first year of classes in its new building.
More than 300 people came for View Ridge Elementary’s dedication, which included the introduction of a 50-year time capsule.
The Everett School District over the last two years rebuilt View Ridge into a modern, two-story building big enough for 460 students.
New group cheers craft beverage producers
Artisanal alcohol producers in Snohomish County recently joined forces to form a guild to promote their products called the Liquid Local Arts.
Craft alcohol producers have been popping up in growing numbers all over the state, and a big cluster of them are right here in Snohomish County, guild president John Bell said.
“The industry here is burgeoning, just like it is for the entire state,” Bell said.
Park renamed Drew Nielsen Neighborhood Park
Neighbors and friends of late Everett Councilman Drew Nielsen stood and clapped this month after the City Council renamed Northwest Neighborhood Park to Drew Nielsen Neighborhood Park.
Nielsen, who died May 12, 2012 in a whitewater rafting accident, helped save the park’s site at 13th Street and Colby Avenue from being developed and with neighbors later helped build it into a park. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett wanted to build a children’s center on the site in the 1990s.
Nielsen was a co-founder of the Northwest Neighborhood and a dedicated neighborhood activist before getting into politics.
Despite concerns, council hands Riverfront site over to Polygon
The Everett City Council had some concerns before voting to approve the transfer of development rights of the Riverfront Development to homebuilder Polygon Northwest.
City Council members took issue with last-minute changes to the agreement and the revelation that one of the analysts hired by the city to evaluate the Polygon deal works for a company tied in a land sale to Polygon. The vote was 6 to 1 to approve the transfer of development rights to Polygon. Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher cast the opposing vote. She said she didn’t feel comfortable approving the transfer after hearing the consultant’s independent analysis put into question.
Sheriff Lovick named county executive
The Snohomish County Council unanimously appointed Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick as county executive June 3 following the resignation of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon on May 31.
District won’t be changing school times
The start and dismissal times for Everett schools won’t be changing this school year.
The district proposed changing school schedules to save money because currently the district has to dispatch extra buses to cover ones stuck in traffic. In a district survey, parents overwhelmingly said they didn’t want school times to change.
Library celebrates 10 years at Maple Avenue location
The Snohomish Library may be celebrating 10 years in its current location, but the library has been a center of knowledge, art and culture for the city for almost 150 years.
The current building that houses thousands of books, DVDs, almost 50 computers and dozens of decades-old newspapers is a work of art in and of itself, head librarian Rebecca Loney said.
When the community began to outgrow the Carnegie Library, voters approved a bond to build a new library building.
Voters approved an $8 million levy, Loney said, because Snohomish residents recognized the importance of a library in the community.
Former police officer charged with sex crimes
A former Monroe police officer was charged this month with multiple counts of sex crimes involving a then 14-year-old girl who was abused by the officer for nearly 10 years.
Carlos Martinez, 58, was charged with three felonies: voyeurism, child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor. The abuse allegedly began in 2003. The girl is now 24.
Police found photographs and video tapes of the girl and other evidence.
Former sergeant Martinez worked at the Monroe Police Department for 20 years and left the department in 2009 amid investigations alleging he was involved in domestic abuse.
Snohomish celebrates Kla Ha Ya Days
Snohomish’s summer festival Kla Ha Ya Days opened July 17 and ran through July 21.
Fired prison guards get their jobs back
An arbitrator’s decision orders three corrections officers who were fired after the murder of corrections officer Jayme Biendl by an inmate in 2011 back to work.
The decision also orders the state Department of Corrections to reinstate the rank of a fourth officer who was demoted from a supervisory position after the murder.
Arbitrator Michael Cavanaugh found serious problems with each officer’s actions the night Biendl was strangled inside the chapel at the Washington State Reformatory within the Monroe Correctional Complex. But those actions warranted reprimand and not termination or demotion, Cavanaugh ruled.
The DOC had accused the officers of misconduct and lying to investigators. The arbitrator found that “institutional complacency” that had developed over time within the reformatory also contributed to the circumstances that led to the murder. The arbitrator also found the DOC failed to meet the high standard of proof needed to fire employees for lying.
Boeing wooing begins
Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at a ceremony for the donation of a FedEx Boeing 727 freighter jet to EvCC’s Aviation Maintenance Technician School July 25 at Paine Field in Everett. The state and Snohomish County made an aggressive push to convince Boeing to build the new 777X jetliner at Paine Field. By year’s end, the machinists union and Boeing were still working on a contract to build the 777X in Everett.
Snohomish pair arrested in Freshman Campus stabbing
Two people were arrested this month for stabbing two men who were playing Frisbee at the former Freshman Campus field in the 600 block of Glen Ave.
Pianos placed on streets this month
Pianos returned to downtown Everett streets this month for anyone to play for free during daylight hours.
The city rolled out 18 pianos on Aug. 7 as part of its annual Street Tunes.
More than 150 attend Everett’s hearing on legal pot industry
Key questions remained for people hoping to jump into the unprecedented recreational marijuana industry after an August public hearing at Comcast Arena on the state’s implementation of Initiative 502, which legalized the production, processing and sale of pot for adults.
The public hearing in Everett drew more than 150 people.
Beer drinkers converge on Hoyt
Hoyt Avenue filled with beer enthusiasts on Aug. 17 for the second annual Everett Craft Beer Festival. Thirty craft brewers from throughout Western Washington poured more than 70 different beers at this year’s event presented by the Washington Beer Commission and Experience Everett.
City hesitates on allowing pot retail stores
The city isn’t in a hurry to allow recreational marijuana businesses to open up in town.
The Snohomish City Council placed a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses.
U.S. 2 Bickford Avenue overpass opens
The long awaited Bickford Avenue overpass at U.S. 2 opened to vehicles this month.
The new overpass eliminates the need for drivers to crossover fast-moving eastbound U.S. 2 traffic to merge into westbound U.S. 2 lanes from Bickford Avenue.
The intersection, which was under construction for more than a year, was the site of dozens of traffic accidents over the past few years, some of them fatal.
Kusler’s sells business to Rite Aid
The owners of Kusler’s Pharmacy in Snohomish sold the business to Rite Aid.
Ownership of the compound prescription business will be transferred to Snohomish resident Dawn Ipsen. Ipsen has been managing the compound prescription business under owner Janet Kusler for several years.
Cascade teen killed walking home from school
The Everett community mourned the loss of Perla Hernandez, 14, who was killed in an accident while walking home from school.
Hernandez, a freshman, was walking home from Cascade High School on Oct. 10 when a car veered onto the sidewalk and struck her. She died from her injuries later at a Seattle hospital.
The crash happened at 112th Street SE and Seventh Avenue SE.
Affholter resigns from City Council for new job
Everett City Councilman Shannon Affholter resigned from council this month to become executive director of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. Affholter’s term was up on Dec. 31, 2015.
Kimberly-Clark Mill site sold to maritime company
A Seattle-based maritime and transportation company is buying the former Kimberly-Clark Mill site.
Saltchuk Resources finalized an exclusive purchase agreement to buy the 66-acre site. The sale may close by late spring 2014 if all goes smoothly.
Saltchuk plans to make Everett its ship repair headquarters for subsidiary Foss Maritime Co., an internationally known tugboat and ship towing company. Foss’ operations are boxed in at its current location at Seattle’s Ballard Locks, preventing it from working on larger vessels.
Foss’ 250 family-wage jobs would move to Everett in the next two years, and the Everett site gives the company room to grow.
Saltchuk chairman Matt Tabbutt suggested the company could add other operations on the site, and said Everett is a natural fit for a winter homeport for its oil exploration subsidiary.
Wind causes trouble downtown
Workers in Snohomish cleaned up scaffolding and tarps that blew over onto several parked cars during Nov. 2’s windstorm that brought 50 mph gusts of wind throughout the Puget Sound area. The scaffolding was covering the west side of the building at the corner of First Street and Avenue A. The incident happened at about 11 a.m. No injuries were reported. The scaffolding brought down power lines, and First Street was closed for several hours.
Monroe elects Geoffrey Thomas as mayor
Voters elected Geoffrey Thomas as their new mayor.
Thomas won by a nearly 10-point lead over opponent and current Monroe City Councilman Ed Davis.
City Council selects Rich Anderson to fill vacancy
Everett native and accountant Rich Anderson was appointed the newest member of the Everett City Council.
Anderson, 59, was selected in a final 4-2 council vote over Schack Art Center director Judy Tuohy to fill the seat vacated by Shannon Affholter.
Fryelands teacher wins Golden Apple Award
It was just one book that changed Randy Brown’s life, and because he read it, he has changed the lives of hundreds of others.
He didn’t do it alone. He did it with the help of several Randy Browns. He made more than 400 instructional videos starring himself for his third-graders at Fryelands Elementary.
His efforts won him a Golden Apple Award, or what educators in the state call the Oscars for teachers.
City won’t force homeowners to pay for its mistake
The city of Snohomish reversed course on pursuing thousands of dollars from homeowners for unpaid development fees the city never collected from the developer.
The City Council voted unanimously this month to leave 13 affected homeowners alone.
The council directed the city to try again to collect the fees from the development companies involved.
The homeowners have been affected throughout the issue that has lasted for years.
The unpaid utility and school impact fees, which range from $3,000 to $20,000 per household, have been coming up as delinquencies on the homeowner’s titles any time the residents wanted to sell, refinance or access the equity on their homes.
Victim identified in Hodges fire
The fatal fire in Everett on Dec. 15 at the Hodges Building is raising questions about the safety of downtown’s low-rent apartment buildings, but fire officials emphasized last week that this fire was unrelated to code compliance issues involving the building.
The official cause of the fire had yet to be determined as of this month. Fire Marshal Rick Robinson indicated the fire may have started near two power strips.
The fire was confined to the bedroom of apartment 402 where Wendy A. Pirring, 47, lived, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause and manner of Pirring’s death were still pending as of this month.
After the fire, officials found that her apartment had only one electrical outlet, which is against modern building code. The Hodges is a 90-year-old building. The fire displaced 36 residents.
The Hodges fire is igniting focus on conditions in historic buildings across downtown.
7 people apply for vacancy on Everett School Board
Seven people have applied for the Everett School Board seat abruptly vacated by Jeff Russell earlier this month.
The applicants are: Kristine Harper-Petereit, Rodman Reynolds, George Reynolds, Cris Larson, Traci Mitchell, Caroline Mason, and Myrna Overstreet.
Polygon’s plans for riverfront site questioned by residents, officials
Is this the first warning shot that Polygon Northwest may not be able to produce what Everett leaders have envisioned for the Riverfront Development site?
The city sees this property as a good place for an urban mix of commercial and denser residential neighborhoods. The 100-acre site sits along the Snohomish River near the Lowell Neighborhood, and Polygon is already asking for changes to the development agreement.
Polygon’s plans for tract housing came under fire this month from residents who say the plans won’t produce the intended upscale, urban neighborhood.
More than a dozen residents from across the city criticized the homebuilder’s published plans for 408 single family homes and townhouses on two pieces of tidy suburban plots.
Also, Polygon has yet to reveal any details on the site’s required commercial component.
City Council likes tax for parks idea
Voters may be asked to support a new taxing district that would dedicate a pot of money just for parks and recreation projects.
At a Dec. 17 workshop discussing the formation of a Metropolitan Park District last week, the Snohomish City Council gave its full support for the idea.
The city’s tentative plan is to take the Metropolitan Park District, or MPD, to voters in 2015.
“This is one part of a strategy for better Snohomish parks,” parks board member Lya Badgley said. “We’re lucky to have as many parks as we do, but the recent recession showed how at the mercy of the economy our parks are.”
The maintenance and purchase of new park land comes out of the general fund and must compete with other city services such as police services.
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