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The year that was 2003

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - Most years don't begin the way 2003 did, which is good news for the Snoqualmie Valley.

As 2003 dawned, local ski resorts were paying the price for one of the driest winters in recent memory, causing late openings for area slopes and a slow year for skiers. As winter progressed, North Bend residents discovered that despite being told the contrary just months before, a spot near Grouse Ridge was one of three finalists for a state Department of Social and Health Services sex-offender halfway house. The Si View Community Center was closed by King County as of Jan. 1 in an effort to trim money from its budget to remedy a projected shortfall. It was not known if the facility would be saved as tough economic times found the city of North Bend without money to fund the center.

But as the year progressed, so did the luck of the Valley.

A grass-roots group, formed by concerned residents, led the charge that finally defeated the sex-offender halfway house. Voters decided to approve a Metropolitan Park District to save Si View, and by summertime the pool had reopened. And Snoqualmie celebrated 100 years as a city with the party of the century.

As the year wound down ski areas opened early, and both Snoqualmie and North Bend residents elected a handful of new officials to lead them into 2004.

Throughout the year the Valley lost a number of visionaries who not only defined the city, but laid a groundwork for generations of residents to enjoy the area so many call home. While they will be missed, they will not be forgotten.

As we look forward to a successful and prosperous 2004, here's a look back at 2003.



January

Teachers prepare for 'Day of Action'

Almost 180 Snoqualmie Valley School District employees travel to Olympia to participate in the "Day of Action" organized by the Washington Education Association. The event is aimed at showing support for school funding as the state Legislature mulls over its budget, which is expected to include cuts to education funding.

Organizers of the event find it interesting that due to the higher cost of homes in the Valley, many teachers live closer to Olympia than to the schools at which they teach.


Celebrating 80 with a workout

Joe Baranowski celebrates his 80th birthday with a workout at Alpine Fitness in North Bend. The octogenarian can handily dead-lift 265 pounds and begin weightlifting at the age of 62.


Student struggle with exchange

A group of Brazilian college students say they got more than they bargained for when they signed up for a work exchange.

Students claim that a lack of snow has suspended the ski-resort jobs they were promised, while their employer claims many of the students were fired for not performing their duties. The 25-year-old travel company that organized the program put the students up in a local motel, while the participants thought they'd receive better accommodations.

Eventually many of the students find other jobs around the area and are taken in by families who attend a local church.


Simpson won't run

North Bend Mayor Joan Simpson announces she will not seek a third term.

Simpson was the first female mayor of North Bend and played a pivotal role in restoring order to a City Council that had been contentious for years. Simpson also is credited with helping secure about 800 acres of open space for the city. In addition, Simpson is responsible for many firsts in the city, such as helping shape the city's first skate park and creating the first economic development commission.


'Deca'-dent results for Wildcats

Comprised mostly of first-year members, students on the Mount Si High School DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) members glean several awards at the group's regional competition in Bellevue.


Nearing 1,000

Standout Mount Si High School girls' basketball player Nicci Landdeck closes in on 1,000 career points, just 39 points shy of the mark after an outstanding performance against Mercer Island High School.


February


Man charged in beating

Former Mount Si student Shaun Maurer, 19, of Klahanie, is charged with second-degree assault for his role in the beating of an Issaquah High School student in January.

Maurer was picked up by King County Sheriff's deputies for his role in a fight involving 60 or more Mount Si and Issaquah high-school students near Lake Tradition trailhead on Jan. 14.

The incident stemmed from a confrontation at a basketball game earlier in January between the two schools.


Flood-reduction project signed

A plan aimed at reducing a chronic flooding problem along the Snoqualmie River reaches a critical milestone in its 30-year history when an agreement by the three parties - King County, city of Snoqualmie and U.S. Corp. of Engineers - sponsoring the endeavor is signed.

The project is expected to reduce flooding in the city by blasting away a section of the banks of the Snoqualmie River above the Falls. Those banks have created a bottleneck in the area that has been targeted as contributing to water backing up and flooding homes and other structures.


City on halfway house list

King County officials announce they are considering a remote site off Exit 38 as a possible candidate for a sex-offender halfway house.

State officials say they are looking at 13 locations as potential sites for the facility, which the state is being required to build.


Jim North passes away

Former professional football player and Valley cornerstone Jim North passes away at the age of 83.


Snoqualmie water to receive chlorine

Some Snoqualmie residents will have a little more in their water than just hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom as chlorine is headed to the tap.

Under order of the Washington State Department of Health, the city will start to add chlorine to the spring that supplies water to the city's historical district sometime within the next year.


Pedeferri three-peats

Cedarcrest High School senior wrestler Aaron Pedeferri wins his third state title in as many years at the Mat Classic XV in Tacoma. Pedeferri is among seven Valley wrestlers who took home medals at the competition.


March


Tree Farm sold to Hancock Timber

Weyerhaeuser Co. announces that it will sell the 104,000-acre Snoqualmie Tree Farm to Boston-based Hancock Timber Resource Group for $185 million. The sale is expected to close May 1.

In 2002, Weyerhaeuser and the Evergreen Forest Trust conservation group entered into a year-long purchase-and-sale agreement that prevented other potential buyers from acquiring the land. When that deadline expired in January, Weyerhaeuser announced that it would entertain other offers to purchase the property.

Although the farm's new owner will harvest timber from the property, the company said it will work closely with local conservation groups.


Frances North passes away at 83

Valley crusader Frances North, credited for keeping Mount Si free from logging, passes away at the age of 83.

North served in the state Legislature and as a North Bend City Council member.


Prank delays start of school

The Snoqualmie Valley School District is searching for students it suspects let the air out of the tires on a majority of the district's buses.

At around 4 a.m. on March 14, district employees showed up for work at the bus barn located on Silva Avenue in Snoqualmie to find 32 of the district's 38 buses with flat tires.

The event caused the school district to run on a delayed schedule, with classes starting two hours later than usual.


Tribe moves to acquire parks

The Snoqualmie Tribe may take over two King County parks in the Valley as part of the county's effort to reduce costs.

Last fall the Tribe approached the county about the possibility of acquiring the Tolt-MacDonald Park just outside Carnation, and the Fall City Park on the north bank of the Snoqualmie River. Both sites have p

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