2001: A year to remember

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - No one will forget 2001.

In the Snoqualmie Valley, it was a year that included historic land preservation deals, a proposed casino and disaster. The story that had - and will have - the biggest impact on local residents is the creation of the Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative, which ruled out development near Snoqualmie Falls, but in return began the process of expanding to Phase II on Snoqualmie Ridge.

The events of Sept. 11 weighed heavily on everyone, and the Snoqualmie Tribe's plans to buy land near Snoqualmie and build a casino garnered much of the community's attention as the year drew to an end. North Bend rejoiced after saving Tollgate Farm from development, as did Habitat for Humanity families who saw their dreams of moving into a new house come to fruition.

So here are the top 10 stories for 2001, as selected by readers and the staff of the Valley Record. We also offer a prediction: Some of them will likely be at the top of the list for 2002.

1. Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative

The first major land preservation story of 2001 occurred in February and was a complex agreement between the city of Snoqualmie, King County, Weyerhaeuser and Puget Western Inc. called the Snoqualmie Preservation Initiative (SPI). The $13.3 million deal, brokered by the Cascade Land Conservancy, preserved the Falls Crossing land north of the Snoqualmie Parkway as open space and could potentially save about 9,000 acres from development, much of it along the Raging River.

In return for funding most of the agreement, Weyerhaeuser will be able to build more houses in Phase I of Snoqualmie Ridge, and the SPI calls for the city to extend its urban growth boundary to include Phase II.

2. Tribe casino

In August, word got out that the Snoqualmie Tribe had applied to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place about 56 acres of land near Snoqualmie in trust, which would be used as the location for a planned casino.

Preliminary drawings of the "great lodge"-style facility were presented to the public at a Snoqualmie City Council meeting in November. Snoqualmie Tribe Councilman Ray Mullen said the casino was needed to generate money that would allow the Tribe to provide services to its members. Of the three-story building's 175,000 square feet of space, about one quarter of it would be used for gaming. The casino would have three restaurants and a 400-seat theater. Mullen said it could eventually employ about 700 people.

3. Sept. 11, 2001

In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Valley residents struggled to make sense of it all. Services - some organized, some impromptu - were held to honor those who lost their lives. Calls went out to display the American flag, and makeshift memorials, such as one on a rock wall along the Preston-Fall City Road, were created.

Everyone was directly affected by the attacks. As the economy worsened, layoffs were announced, including those at the Weyerhaeuser plant in Snoqualmie. Businesses suffered and local schools were faced with the difficult task of explaining what happened to students.

4. Tollgate Farm

In May, the city of North Bend, the Trust for Public Lands and King County announced they had created a plan to preserve the historic 410-acre Tollgate Farm, which had been slated for development.

King County provided money to purchase the two ends of the farm. A vote in September to buy the "central meadow" narrowly missed claiming the 60 percent approval needed to pass a $3.56 million levy. But thanks to a large, anonymous donation, in October the City Council approved $1.6 million in councilmanic bonds to go toward the central meadow purchase, which, when combined with the county acquisition, helped preserve all but 30 acres of the farm.

5. Nisqually quake

On Feb. 28, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rolled through the Puget Sound area. In the Snoqualmie Valley, chimneys toppled, roads cracked and merchandise fell from store shelves.

Luckily no one was hurt, but the temblor caused major headaches for commuters. The Washington State Department of Transportation was forced to close State Route 202 between Snoqualmie and Fall City because of a more than 900-foot-long crack and an increased threat of landslides. The highway reopened in May - too late for business owners who lost customers because of the closure.

6. Habitat for Humanity

Thousands of volunteers descended on Snoqualmie in August for Habitat for Humanity of East King County's massive blitz build. Over the span of 12 days, 20 houses were built, and work began on the 21st house and on a community center.

The blitz build was the culmination of several years' worth of work. Many of the families who moved into their Habitat houses in November are from the Snoqualmie Valley. The work isn't over, though - a total of 50 houses are expected to be constructed at the site.

7. Levies

Years after it was built, Cedarcrest High School will sport a new athletic field and track thanks to a $5.75 million levy that voters passed in May. It also included money for improvements to the high school, Tolt Middle School and elementary schools.

Carnation wasn't as fortunate in winning voter support, as a three-year, $108,000 levy to fund existing police services failed in both the September primary election and the November general election. But down in Fall City, a $2.4 million levy to upgrade the King County Fire Protection District 27 fire station garnered enough "yes" votes to win approval in the November election.

8. Snoqualmie Valley Hospital

Upon having its licensed renewed by the state Department of Health, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital began treating senior behavioral health patients early in 2001.

In April, King County Public Hospital District No. 4 announced it was working with Overlake Hospital Medical Center on a management agreement, which was finalized a few months later. Overlake would run Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, which would have access to Overlake's resources in areas such as patient billing, information technology, purchasing and pharmacy services.

9. Cross sentenced to die

After foregoing a jury trial and submitting Alford pleas to the 1999 murders his wife, Anouchka Baldwin, and stepdaughters, Salome Holly and Amanda Baldwin, Dayva Cross received the death sentence on three counts of first-degree aggravated murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon.

A jury that had been impaneled for the sentencing phase of Cross' trial decided his fate. Despite defense attorneys' arguments that Cross was mentally ill, jurors found that he was competent at the time of the March 6, 1999, murders and deserved to die for his crimes.

10. Community center

In December, plans for a $9.7 million pool and community center were presented to the Snoqualmie City Council, whose members then approved a contract with James G. Fletcher Associates Inc. of Issaquah to begin a fund-raising campaign that he said would take less than a year to complete and could generate as much as $1.8 million to $1.9 million.

The proposed facility differs from a previous plan for the community center that did not include a swimming pool because of its expected costs.

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