As an eventful 2017 draws to a close, we looked back over a landmark year of citizens taking action, to preserve open spaces, protect the environment and hold local governing bodies accountable for the same responsibilities. From crowdfunded parks projects to an unprecedented level of opposition in local elections, the citizens of our Valley have been doing their part to make this place a home for all of us.
We hope you enjoy this look back at some of the highlights of 2017.
• Lost on a trail, missing Boxer finds help after four rough days, Jan. 11:
Yogi, the beloved pet of Mike and Cindy Gaudio, made it home to his family after going missing on a Dec. 30 hike to Mailbox Peak. The family and friends searched the area for days with no luck, until the 6-year-old boxer wandered into the North Bend Fire Training Academy, tired and hungry but with only minor injuries. “If he could talk, man, what a story he might tell!” says Cindy Gaudio.
• Snoqualmie’s new police chief officially checks in, Jan. 18:
Perry Phipps, the new chief of police in Snoqualmie, was sworn into office Jan. 10. He comes to the city with more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, in a variety of roles including canine, gang unit and SWAT, and developed a police outreach program for at-risk youth.
• North Bend fields not ready for spring sports, Jan. 18:
Groundwater issues at the site of a proposed 12-acre athletic complex have delayed the project and left Mount Si High School’s baseball and softball teams searching for practice fields for the upcoming season. The new complex, a project of Bendigo Properties, LLC, will have four outdoor combination (soccer and baseball/softball) fields and 12 indoor basketball courts with parking for about 140 cars, when completed.
• Snoqualmie woman shares her story with Oprah, Feb. 8:
Long-time Snoqualmie resident Jennifer Morin was flown to California recently to share her Weight Watchers success story and to meet and talk one-on-one with media star Oprah Winfrey.
• Beating cancer: Relay chairperson Bev Jorgensen’s road to cancer recovery leads straight to 2017 Relay for Life event, Feb. 15:
In the past year, Bev Jorgensen of North Bend has taken an eventful journey, accompanied by many from the Upper Valley community. Last January, she helped kick off the 15th season of the Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life, and in February, she was among several Relay for Life committee members to accept the city of North Bend’s Organization of the Year award. Leading up to the Relay in July, she had fundraisers, team captains meetings and a survivors lunch to make happen, then finally, the big event, held July 9 at Tollgate Farm Park.
• Snoqualmie man given city award for river rescue: Snoqualmie City Council presents Life-Saving Award to José Nolasco, Feb. 22:
A Snoqualmie man, José Nolasco, was recognized for his quick response to help Dorothy Schaan, who’d fallen into Coal Creek in Snoqualmie Jan. 18. Nolasco had been outside working on a house when he heard Schaan’s calls for help and stepped into the river to grab her and pull her out.
• Snoqualmie to examine event returns in 2017, March 1:
The city of Snoqualmie wants to find out how effective its public events are and has asked contract events coordinator Lizzy Billington to provide more frequent and detailed reports on the events the city hosts. “We needed a way to measure the event as far as success, number of participants, residents satisfied with the events we offer, get a sense of return on investment, and talk to businesses that may be impacted,” said City Administrator Bob Larson.
• Historic Snoqualmie bank building owners lease space to local chef, March 1:
Chef Kristen Schumacher, owner of Heirloom Cookshop, will be opening shop in the former Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce building on the corner of River and Falls Avenue this year. She is leasing the building from Flying Pie Pizzeria, which purchased the property from the city of Snoqualmie in October 2016.
• National Football Foundation honors Mount Si athletes, March 8:
Two Mount Si High School football players, Jack Weidenbach and Max Bonda, were honored by the National Football Foundation at its 51st Annual Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet Sunday, Feb. 26, at Century Link Stadium in Seattle.
• Snoqualmie City Councilman, Charles Peterson, leaves a legacy of love for his community, April 12:
Charles S. Peterson, 79, was not exactly a founding father of the 113-year-old city of Snoqualmie, but in his long career serving the city as Mayor, Councilman, and Planning Commissioner, he definitely shaped the community that Snoqualmie, and the whole Upper Valley, is today. “Snoqualmie lost its most dedicated and longest-serving public official this week,” said Mayor Matt Larson, adding that Peterson’s tenure with the city happened at the times his leadership was most needed.
• North Bend artist creates mural for Opstad Elementary, April 19: With the help and generosity from the community around her, North Bend artist Kristin Lockwood is working on a year-long project to create a 25-foot mural for Opstad Elementary School in North Bend.
• County investigates armed robbery Friday at Cascade Golf Course, May 3:
King County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the robbery of the Cascade Golf Course general store in North Bend over the weekend. The general store was robbed at 7:48 p.m. on Friday, April 28, by a thief who claimed to be armed. The suspect was described as a tall, white man, who had covered his face with sunglasses and a scarf. He reportedly entered the store, walked up to counter where employee Lisa Stephens was working and demanded all the money in the register. He told Stephens he had a gun, but Stephens did not see a weapon. The man escaped and police continued to search for him.
• Five-way mayoral race caps filing week, May 24:
As of the close of filing at King County Elections Friday, May 19, four challengers had filed their intentions to challenge Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson for his seat. The challengers include former Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher, Snoqualmie City Councilman Brad Toft, Snoqualmie business owner Steve Pennington and longtime resident Edward J. Mortensen.
• Devoted fans welcome premiere of ‘Twin Peaks’ in North Bend, May 24:
More than 60 people from all over the world gathered in North Bend for the “Twin Peaks” season three premiere party at Compass Outdoor Adventure May 21. Jessica Tate, manager of the North Bend Visitor Information Center and one of the event organizers, said the event had people participating in “Twin Peaks” filming location tours during the day, followed by the premiere that evening. Volunteer Mary Hutter led the day’s filming location tours, around North Bend, Snoqualmie and Fall City to various locations featured in the original series, before the long-awaited premiere of season 3 of the show at Compass. Snoqualmie celebrated the Twin Peaks premiere with a day of activities at DirtFish the prior weekend.
• Contamination, traffic, noise pollution are top community concerns for mill site project, May 31:
Snoqualmie City Hall was packed May 23, for a scoping meeting on the proposed development of the former Weyerhaeuser lumber mill at Snoqualmie Falls. The meeting was held to take public comments for inclusion in the upcoming environmental review of the project proposed for the site, now home to DirtFish Rally School. Seventeen people spoke about the development and what they want to see in the environmental review.
• Northwest Railway Museum celebrates 60-, 50- and 10-year anniversaries Sunday, May 31:
“To another 50 years,” Bill Petitjean announced as he cut the ribbon Sunday at the Northwest Railway Museum. His role in the event, celebrating 60 years of the Northwest Railway Museum, the 50th anniversary of the start of passenger train rides at the museum, and the 10th anniversary of the museum’s growing history campus, was especially historic since Petitjean had served as a fire man on the very first passenger train the museum operated, 50 years ago exactly, on Sunday, May 28, 1967.
• Snoqualmie man sentenced to three years in prison on federal fraud charges, June 7:
Darryl Lee Wright of Snoqualmie was sentenced Thursday, June 1, in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to three years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $646,300 in restitution for his scheme to defraud multiple government programs, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.
• I-90/S.R. 18 interchange fixes moved up on state schedule; construction to start in 2019, June 14:
Good news for Valley drivers, the problematic interchange between I-90 and State Route 18 has had its project timeline moved up seven years. Thanks to work from State Senator Mark Mullet and State Representatives Jay Rodne and Paul Graves, the project, which was originally slated to begin in July 2023 and be completed by 2028, is now starting this year.
• Karate teacher gets life-saving donation from North Bend woman, June 21:
Connections formed around community organizations can change lives. Mount Si School of Karate teacher Michael Morris knows this well, as he was the recent recipient of a kidney transplant from a parent of a student in his program. Roxanne Cannon, spoke with Morris over Facebook and decided to offer one of her kidneys to the teacher who had been such a positive influence on her son for many years.
• Tolt Hill Bridge to stay closed at least two weeks, June 28:
When the new Tolt Hill Bridge was built in 2008, it was built exactly according to the plans, King County Roads officials say, only the plans were wrong. Now, the nine-year-old, $17 million bridge is closed indefinitely — and has been since Friday evening, June 16 — while engineers determine how to make the needed repairs.
• Park expansion project is running out of time, July 5:
A five-acre parcel of land next to North Bend’s E.J. Roberts Park would be a dream come true for a partnership of the residents of the Silver Creek neighborhood, the city of North Bend and the Si View Metropolitan Parks District. Resident Leila Brett has started a Gofundme drive to raise the money to buy the land, directly East of, and roughly the same size and shape as E.J. Roberts Park. It is currently on the market as a potential site for a new 12-home neighborhood.
• Local group hopes to stop Dahlgren development, turn ‘mule pasture’ into park, July 5:
A second locally driven Gofundme campaign, also in North Bend, is proposing to fight the planned development of 21 acres along North Bend Way known as the Dahlgren Property. The proposed development on this site is a 212-unit apartment complex.
• FBI arrests suspected North Bend bank robber, ‘AK-47 Bandit’, July 5:
A joint law enforcement effort last week has resulted in the capture of the man believed to have robbed the North Bend branch of the Chase Bank with an assault rifle on July 6, 2012. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement officers from California, Nebraska and Kansas cooperated in the apprehension of Richard Lee Gathercole, 39, of Roundup, Mont., who is believed to be the AK-47 Bandit.
• Many sports,just one wheel: North American Unicycling Championships arrives next week in North Bend, July 12:
After 15 years, the North American Unicycling Convention and Championships are returning to the Valley. North Bend has been selected to be the host city for the upcoming event, July 16 to 22. The NAUCC will bring in people from around the country to compete in distance riding, freestyle exhibitions, urban terrain obstacle courses, mountain biking, and team sports including basketball and hockey.
• Valley’s Relay for Life raises more than $79,000 to fight cancer, July 12:
Cancer survivors, caregivers, supporters and community members came out to Tollgate Farm Park in North Bend July 8, to participate in the annual Relay for Life. This year’s event brought in more than $79,000.
• Plaza project begins, July 26:
Construction on the North Bend Downtown Plaza project began on Monday and is projected to wrap up by the end of November. East North Bend Way and Main Avenue North will be closed for the work. Improvements planned for the $1.6 million project include widened sidewalks, improved stormwater drainage, landscaping and the burial of utility lines in the North Bend Way/Main Avenue intersection.
• Preston CrossFit gym sends eight athletes to CrossFit Games in Wisconsin, July 26:
A team of athletes from Cascade CrossFit in Preston is one of 40 in the world to compete the 2017 CrossFit games, Aug. 3 to 6 in Madison, Wisc. The team, includes James Bevan-Lee, Hannah Heil, Trina Huarte, Kyle Jacobson, Nick Martindale and Caitlyn Zavaglia. James Sprague and Tudor Magda, both age 15, also qualified for the event, placing third and 10th, respectively in their age division.
• Missing hiker and dog rescued Thursday afternoon from Crater Lake area of Mt. Teneriffe, Aug. 9:
Kimberly Haines, missing since Monday, was reunited with her family Thursday afternoon, after King County Search and Rescue pinpointed her location, near Crater Lake. She walked off the Guardian One helicopter without assistance and said repeatedly she was OK.
• North Bend Chiropractor celebrates 30 years of business in the Valley, Aug. 16:
Longevity and good health aren’t just goals for North Bend chiropractor Leslie Bedell’s clients, they have been some of the defining factors of her business for decades. On Saturday, Aug. 5, Bedell celebrated 30 years of doing business at Agape Chiropractic Healing Center.
• City Council unanimously rejects Snoqualmie Hills West annexation proposal, Aug. 25:
The Snoqualmie City Council voted unanimously Aug. 21 against a developer’s letter of intent to petition for a proposed annexation of Snoqualmie Hills West. The land proposed for annexation was being considered as the location for development of an 800-unit 55-and-older senior living community.
• Classic starting signal, Sept. 1:
A Boeing jet flies over The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge Aug. 25, signalling the start of the PGA Champions Tour event. The tournament capped off a week of activities at the Boeing Classic, and ended Sunday with the a 3.5-foot putt by Jerry Kelly to claim the $2.1 million grand prize.
• Hundreds turn out to debate North Bend farm’s future, Sept. 8:
It will be both a farm and a college in the next few years, say supporters of a plan to restore Mountain Meadows Farm in North Bend to agricultural production. It will be a traffic nightmare, accompanied by water and septic system problems and wildlife habitat loss say opponents. The two sides came together at an open house Aug. 31 to discuss the project.
• Little law firm earns big honors: Brown & Sterling named one of Washington’s Best Workplaces, Sept. 22:
One of Washington’s best workplaces, according to a list put out this summer by the Puget Sound Business Journal, is the small law firm of Brown and Sterling in Fall City. It’s an office with 11 staffers, total, including the founder Larry Brown, and it shares the honor with such big names as BECU, Evergreen Home Loans and the Zillow Group.
• Snoqualmie Valley Riding Club shuts down after 70 years in North Bend, Sept. 22:
On the year of its 70th anniversary, the Snoqualmie Valley Riding Club is closing its doors and looking for another non-profit organization to donate its property to after a tough few years of declining membership and funding. The club, established in 1947, is located on a seven- acre property at 13121 415th Way SE, North Bend, and features a clubhouse and arena.
• JazzClubsNW partners with Wildflower Wine Shop at fire hall, Sept. 22:
After losing its partner for food and wine service at the old North Bend Fire Station, the non-profit JazzClubsNW, previously the Boxley Music Fund, has announced a partnership with Wildflower Wine Shop to renovate the building. Together, the two organizations will serve up live music, plus food and drink. Piccola Cellars ended operation in North Bend on July 30.
• Echo Glen marks 50 years of rehabilitating youth, Sept. 29:
It’s been 50 years since Echo Glen Children’s Center began operating in the Snoqualmie Valley under the State Department of Social and Health Services as a juvenile rehabilitation institution. On Sept. 20, the administration welcomed former staff members, alumni, city representatives and many community volunteers to a 50th anniversary celebration.
• Hundreds celebrate 100th birthday with Preston’s Pearl Moore, Sept. 29:
Pearl Genevieve (Carlson) Moore of Preston celebrated her 100th birthday with some 300 family members and friends Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Preston Community Center. Among the guests at the reception was King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, who presented her with a U.S. flag, flown over the U.S. Capitol on Monday, Sept. 18, her 100th birthday.
• Snoqualmie sites dedicated to honor former mayor, Charles Peterson, Oct. 6:
After months of preparation and work, the family of former city leader Charles S. Peterson held a community walk to several downtown Snoqualmie locations and announced the dedication of several memorials in memory of Peterson.
• Rare electric interurban car added to museum’s collection, Oct. 6:
“It takes a little imagination,” Northwest Railway Museum Director Richard Anderson said, as a deteriorating 1907 train car arrived in Snoqualmie. A little imagination, but that’s all that’s needed to envision the luxurious origins of this newest acquisition by the Northwest Railway Museum.
• Mayhew appointed to Snoqualmie’s open City Council seat, Position 4, Oct. 13:
After multiple rounds of interviews, the Snoqualmie City Council on Oct. 9 chose James Mayhew to fill a vacant seat, at Position 4. The position was open since Councilman Brad Toft resigned the seat Aug. 19, two years into his term. The position is the only city council seat not on the ballot for election this year. Mayhew will serve through Dec. 31, 2019.
• Saving Valley history: Two Valley efforts recognized with John D. Spellman awards for historic preservation, Oct. 27:
King County’s History Preservation program recognized two parties from the Snoqualmie Valley, the Fall City Historical Society and Valley resident Diana Keller, for their efforts in historic education and rehabilitation Oct. 18 at the annual presentation of the county’s John D. Spellman Awards for Achievement in Historic Preservation.
• City Council wants events contract investigation, Nov. 3:
Snoqualmie will soon hire an ethics hearing officer, as well as an independent auditor to investigate whether two employees have violated the city’s ethics code, and whether the city was fraudulently billed for work not performed. The council reached these points of consensus Oct. 30, after a lengthy discussion on recent findings by Snoqualmie citizens. The two employees in question are contract events coordinator and previous economic development consultant, Leslie (Lizzy) Billington, and her supervisor for the past year, Public Works Director Dan Marcinko.
• Hospital board votes to pursue next step in affiliation process with Astria Health, Nov. 3:
Snoqualmie Valley Hospital’s board of commissioners has voted to proceed with the process of affiliating the hospital with Astria Health, recently renamed from Regional Health.
• North Bend cuts the ribbon on downtown plaza improvements, Nov. 3:
On Oct. 31, the city of North Bend held the official ribbon cutting for downtown plaza improvements. Alongside the city celebration, downtown businesses gave out candy to trick-or-treaters as part of the “Trick-or- Treat Street Plaza Party.”
• North Bend area preferred for new weigh station, Nov. 17:
Snoqualmie’s weigh station, located at the S.R. 18 and Interstate 90 interchange, has got to go. It’s too small for inspections, says WSP Captain Michael Dahl, and there won’t be room for it there once the future improvements planned for that interchange in 2019 begin. Dahl and several officers from WSP met with North Bend residents to discuss alternative locations for the station. Dahl’s preference, at milepost 33.5, was a very unpopular choice for audience members.
• Valley organizations form coalition to improve public transportation options for residents, Dec. 8:
Making use of a $100,000 grant from the non-profit human services organization Easterseals, Hopelink has formed the Snoqualmie Valley Transportation Coalition, a group of representatives from each city in the Snoqualmie Valley and several organizations who would be able to create a more coordinated vision for the future of travel in and out of the area. The grant will fund the group’s projects to make improvements to public transportation in the area over the next year.
• Good, muddy fun: Mountain biking club celebrates big season, recruits for next year, Dec. 15:
When the Mount Si Mountain Bike Club started in 2012, it was too small to actually compete. When the 2016-17 season ended in October, the team boasted more than 40 members, boys and girls, high school and middle school, with plans to recruit more of them all, but especially girls, for the start of the next season in February.
• Snoqualmie receives Quadrant donation of four properties, Dec. 22:
Quadrant, one of the developers of Snoqualmie Ridge, has offered to give the city four forested properties around the north side of the Ridge development. The Snoqualmie City Council authorized the mayor Dec. 11 to accept Quadrant’s offer to convey ownership of the land at no cost to the city.