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Wet and wild: 2009 in review
On New Year’s Eve, chances are there were more than a few Snoqualmie Valley residents who were relieved to see the back of 2009, and a new start for 2010.
After all, 2009 was a rip-roarer, ushered in with flood waters that caused millions of dollars in damage to local homes, roads and businesses.
Dealing with the flood’s aftermath was a recurring theme for much of the year. But the flood brought some unexpected discoveries, such as the hundreds of selfless groups and individuals who volunteered their time to help those in harm and high water’s way. Flood repairs revealed a new use for a neglected courtyard at Mount Si, leading to a new commons that will ease overcrowding at school.
The year also saw a deepening recession that blasted the state’s budget and required tough decisions at Snoqualmie Valley School District.
But even though the year saw positions cut at local schools, students stepped up — local athletes went to state playoffs in several sports, including volleyball, gymnastics and track.
The following were some of the top stories of 2009, showing local life, good and bad, from the pages of the Valley Record.
• Slamming the Valley on Jan. 7, the biggest flood in 20 years ripped out roads, damaged homes and cost millions of dollars to clean up. On the positive side, the disaster brought forward hundreds of volunteer residents, church members and organizations, who helped affected families start the recovery process.
• The state-run Tokul Creek salmon hatchery near Snoqualmie saw dramatic damage after the January flood. Flood debris narrowed the 80-foot-wide creek into a 40-foot channel. Conditions were severe enough that hatchery staff nearly had to set free the crop of young steelhead due to be released in May.
• Faced with a $5.7 billion statewide shortfall, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed an $800 million cut from elementary and secondary schools statewide. The state planned to make up $350 million by not giving teachers pay raises.
• During repairs to Mount Si High School, school staff discovered an unused outdoor courtyard that could help solve student overcrowding. The new Wildcat Court, set to open soon, will double the high school commons area, serve as a multipurpose facility and improve traffic flow in the hallways.
• Mount Si High School’s gymnastics team finished fourth overall at the 2A/3A state meet at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall. Their fourth-place finish and team score set school records for the program.
• North Bend took steps to end its ten-year-long, self-imposed development moratorium, announcing new water availability last winter. Growth required the construction of a complex system moving water from Seattle Public Utilities’ Hobo Springs in the Cedar River Watershed to Boxley Creek, which feeds into Snoqualmie River’s South Fork. The city banned development after learning they were exceeding water rights in 1999.
• With student numbers growing across the district, and Mount Si High School already above capacity, the Snoqualmie Valley School district presented taxpayers with a bond to add six double-modular units on the Mount Si campus. Voters approved the bond on March 10.
• Fixing flood damage to the tune of $115,000, the Northwest Railway Museum held a “Save our Rails” benefit dinner and train ride to get the tourist destination back on track.
• Richard Rutledge, owner of 15-year-old Twin Rivers Golf Course in Fall City, pledged he would not shave his beard until the flood-damaged course was back to normal.
• In April, members of the Snoqualmie Tribe spent their Earth Day cleaning up an illegal dump on Tribe elder Earl Moses’ Snoqualmie property. The work, by tribal staff and volunteers, cleaned up decades worth of trash dumped by the community at large.
• Snoqualmie police raided a marijuana growing operation after the pungent odor of pot plants was detected across the street from City Hall. Two people were arrested and charged for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, as 58 plants were removed from the home.
• A U.S. District Court judge overturned the April 2008 banishment of nine members of the Snoqualmie Tribe. The Tribe had banished the group because they did not have the necessary amount of Native American lineage to be members. Judge James Robart ruled that the decision did not follow due process.
• Six Snoqualmie Valley residents arrived in Korea with a warm welcome from now-sister city Gangjin. Residents were able to reunite with Korean exchange students who had visited them in January.
• About a dozen Snoqualmie Valley School District teachers were laid off due to state-imposed budget cuts. Also losing their jobs were several librarians and custodians.
• The Mount Si High School girls track team finished fifth place in state, their best showing in more than a decade.
• Three-year-old Shelby Boivin, a special needs student attending Snoqualmie Elementary, was left stranded and strapped in her school bus for three hours. The driver was fired and the district reviewed its transportation and attendance policies.
• Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson renewed discussions with the YMCA of Greater Seattle on a new Snoqualmie Community Center. Larson touted a plan that would build a center as early as 2010 without needing a bond vote.
• Swedish Medical Center aired plans for a primary clinic with space for up to six doctors at the Kimball Creek Professional Center on Snoqualmie Ridge. The clinic opened this week.
• North Bend business owner Greg Wyrsch sought development of a new hotel south of Interstate 90’s exit 31, near the large Forster Woods residential neighborhood. North Bend Planning Commission heard arguments for and against the move and ultimately approved rules permitting the use. North Bend City Council has final say in February.
• Promoted from sergeant with the King County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit, Mark Toner was named North Bend’s new police chief. He was hired to replace previous chief, Sgt. Joe Hodgson, who was transferred to the department’s administration in Seattle.
• After their 18-month stay in Snoqualmie, the Muns, a South Korean family, returned home. A farewell ceremony was held at the Salish Lodge in their honor. Father Young Hoon Mun, sent to study quality of life issues in America, departed with a hand-drawn sketch of Snoqualmie Falls by Mayor Matt Larson. Son Charlie, 13, brought his baseball bat, mitt and fishing pole, while mom Jae hauled bags of Starbucks coffee as gifts for friends and family.
• During a fall windstorm, a 15-year-old student was injured by a falling branch at North Bend’s Camp Waskowitz. A blow by a 10-foot limb broke her leg.
• The Wildcat volleyball team took sixth place at state after two days of tough competition at the 3A volleyball tournament in Kennewick.
• After landslides closed Dorothy Road in the Middle Fork neighborhood of North Bend, residents became concerned for safety, as they had to share the former residential Middle Fork Road with heavy commericial trucks. King County officials held a meeting to address the matter.
• A gray-bearded robber held up Sterling Saving Bank in North Bend, making off with less than $400 in cash. A local who saw his picture in the newspaper gave tips to police, who arrested a North Bend man. Investigators said he was the same man who held up a bank in Ballard.
• The Mount Si Senior Center in North Bend braced for a $24,000 budget cut from King County. Cuts could mean fewer hours for full time staff and a less organized senior center. More cuts were expected in 2010. The center planned to use fundraisers to make up the difference.
• A year after raw sewage rendered Snoqualmie Valley Youth Activity Center unusable, the city of North Bend and youth center directors negotiated an agreement to find a new meeting place. The center is a headquarters for many local Scout troops.
• After 18 months of construction, the new Snoqualmie City Hall finally opened its doors. More than 30 city employees moved into the building. While the job took longer and cost more than expected, Snoqualmie officials expect to recoup costs and gain energy savings through the building.
• Valley high school students collected more than 30,000 pounds of food during their annual Foodball drive, which helps local food banks.