2003 to bring many changes

Even though I turned 40 in 2002, I am kind of glad it's over. The economy is in shambles, many people are out of work and many of the freedoms that Americans enjoy are under attack.

I don't usually wax philosophic about international topics, but things are getting a little out of hand. I have heard that Sept. 11 did nothing more than solidify the country against terrorism. That may be true, but things have changed much more significantly than our president and government want to admit.

Think of what we had prior to Sept. 11. Concerns about terrorism were not high on the priority list. Americans had the luxury of traveling across our borders with ease and without fear of interrogation. We could get in and out of the airport, without problems, in less than two hours. I don't know about you, but I really have no desire to fly because of the delays and hassles at airports.

We are contemplating arming pilots, something new since Sept. 11. We have created the Department of Homeland Security and are increasing the size of its force, something else new since Sept. 11. Even without an action movie to perpetuate the stigma, we have stereotyped all Middle-Easterners as anti-American or potential terrorists, putting their faces on the television and saying, "watch for these guys." Heaven forbid that an angry mob finds one of the people in the photos and takes matters into its own hands, squashing the idea of due process.

Let's face it, Americans have less freedoms than we did prior to Sept. 11. And it appears likely that the United States will fight a war soon. But do we have enough evidence to invade another country? All I ask is for the government to prove it to me, as an American.

To put this in perspective, let's remember that the one questioning our direction is a Snoqualmie Valley boy who owns a big, four-wheel drive pick-up truck with mounted gun-rack and wears jeans and tennis shoes. I would think I would be lumped into the category that backs our direction with little regard for reasons, but that is not the case.

Enough about international politics, there are issues closer to home. The year 2003 will see us being asked for more tax dollars. Will we approve a levy to open an urgent-care facility at the hospital? Are these services not currently available?

Will we approve a new fire station for North Bend, even though money used to pay for Tollgate could have offset the costs of the facility? I do think a new fire station is needed, I just wish we had prioritized where the dollars were spent, knowing it needed to be replaced.

Will the tree farm deal go through in 2003? I'm still wondering if it will ever happen? I believe it is still possible that the tree farm will be sold to another lumber company and harvesting will start up again.

Will Snoqualmie Ridge's Phase II permitting and plans be done in time to release SPI money to save the former Falls Crossing property?

Will Si View, a gem in the Snoqualmie Valley, be saved from permanent mothballs with a voter-approved parks district plan? Will the Snoqualmie community center be put on the ballot again in 2003 in its current form or will a phased approach be on the table?

Will home prices in our Valley continue to rise, forcing many to consider living elsewhere? Obviously affordable housing in rural areas of King County will never be a reality. I heard King County Executive Ron Sims on television recently (OK, maybe government television is a little boring) mention that growth management was working and clustering with high-density housing areas was working. That the county's plan was to limit growth in the rural areas to less than 4 percent.

I would beg to differ on whether growth management is working. I see it as making the rural areas of King County only affordable to the upper-income classes and with a lack of jobs in rural areas, contributing significantly to our traffic problems. Has anyone ever drawn a correlation between growth management and the traffic congestion that stagnates our economy? Seems simple to me, but I have to admit to being simple minded at times.

So 2003 brings many questions to mind. But all in all the Snoqualmie Valley is still a great place to live. We have many great people and our sense of community is strong. I do hope the economy picks up in 2003 and more of our residents are back to work.

I hope you will read the Record on a regular basis. We will do our best to provide you all the information necessary to make objective decisions. We, or I should say I, will also throw some questions your direction to provoke thought. I may be barking up the wrong tree at times but I hope you take the time to disagree with me.

Happy New Year.

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