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Finding life after Weyerhaeuser

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - Duane 'Suds' Ronnei is careful to look both ways before crossing State Route 203 to get to the land he owns across the street from his house.

"When it gets to be rush hour, you need starting blocks to get across the street," he said.

When he does get across, he tends to his newest venture: farming. Although his family has owned the property between Carnation and Duvall since the homesteading years of the early 1900s, Ronnei only recently got into the farming business full time. He had planted a tree farm and hopes to harvest some Douglas Firs as Christmas trees in about three years. He has also planted a vegetable garden that he will use primarily to feed himself. It is a vocation as old as civilization, but it is all quite new to him.

"I know as much as you do about planting trees," Ronnei said.

He has some time to learn. Ronnei was one of the last Weyerhaeuser employees to finish work at the Snoqualmie finishing and planing mill when it closed its doors last month. The closing ended Weyerhaeuser's presence in the area, which had started about the same time Ronnei's ancestors settled in the Valley.

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