Opinion

2001: a year of change

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Whenever I head into a new year, thoughts of what might be in store

for me inevitably come to mind. First and foremost is health. Will I be

healthy through 2001 and not encounter any significant health issues? And as

always, I make a New Year's resolution to exercise and eat healthier foods.

Last year our family went to the extreme of purchasing a Stairmaster

and weight bench, both of which work well for us. The Stairmaster is great

for hanging clean clothes on, and the weight bench makes a nice

pseudo-laundry table. Both items have replaced the couch, which was nicknamed

the McKiernan Mountain for the pile of clean laundry it usually held.

This year there will be no New Year's resolutions except to enjoy life.

If the exercise happens, great. If it doesn't, well, I need to do a few more

push-aways — push away from the table prior to getting full. I assume most

people go through this same routine each year, trying to balance kids, job,

family, work and health. It's a tough balancing act, and to those that can do it, I

envy you.

Typically, I think of myself as the average Valley resident, albeit

keenly aware of the history of the Valley and with strong personal relationships

with many Valley residents. Driving down I-90 the other day toward North

Bend, just past the hospital exit on that long, straight stretch, I gazed up at that

beautiful mountain (Mount Si) and, as usual, felt a sense of relief that I was

home. There is something about seeing that mountain when you come home

that instills a sense of belonging, almost a sense of security.

That mountain couldn't possibly let anything happen to me or my

family. And if you have lived here long enough to realize the significance of this

place and its beauty, the site of that mountain on a clear day, looming large above

us, will put a lump in your throat. Sometimes people don't realize that until

they have been away from it for a while, and then they see it while heading

home, maybe on I-90 near Highway 18, just cresting over the hill.

But for me, the mountain also brings thoughts of issues that we continue

to face. First and foremost, what will the impact of the Cadman gravel mine

be on our Valley? Will Cadman see the light and use Exit 38 if they get past all

the environmental issues? Will they develop a strong contingency plan for

aquifer damage, and will they be held to the highest dollar consequence if, in

fact, there is aquifer damage?

Will Falls Crossing be approved in its current form, and what will be

the impacts to the viewshed and downtown area? I don't believe the

proposal, conditions or any documentation adequately addresses either of these

impacts of the project. It would also be wise to assess the trees that have succumbed

to high winds and have blown down in neighboring Snoqualmie Ridge in

determining viewshed impacts.

The city of Snoqualmie is rapidly changing, and with the changes

come questions regarding the future of the city. Monetarily, the city looks

good, with new revenue from a significantly larger tax base. But beyond the

dollars, there still appears to be an underlying problem that nobody wants to talk

about: the "us and them" attitude. And this attitude isn't just coming from one side, it

is, and has been, fostered by both sides.

So how can Snoqualmie and the Valley do a better job of integrating new

So how can Snoqualmie and the Valley do a better job of integrating new

residents into a great community? And how can the new residents learn

the history, culture and underlying values that have made this such a great

place? What will the makeup of the council be in a few years as the population

mass moves to the newer developments? Who will be mayor, and what role

will they take, realizing the shift in population? What elements of life are

important to the newer residents, and what are they willing to do to shape the

future of the city? Will a vocal minority be the only representation of newer

residents, or will the masses get involved in government, civic

organizations, schools and non-profits?

In North Bend, where the impacts of newer developments have

already been realized, there has been a change in direction for the city. Newer

residents are now actively involved in city government and have instilled

their values on the political process. Some of these values are the same as

before, but some are different. One noticeable difference in North Bend has been

the change in attitude toward local businesses. In the past, city staff, the

council and mayor recognized the importance of their small-business tax base. Is

that level of importance still held by staff and council? Will city staff work

toward achieving the goals of its constituents, the very people they are working for?

With regards to the County Council, there still looms larger issues,

some that involve state and federal agencies. First is flooding, and with very

little evidence of flood reduction efforts, it is obvious that lots of talk and

little action have become the norm. Shamrock Park still is poised as the

Valley swimming pool when water rises in the Snoqualmie River. Instead of

dredging and reinforcing the dike system, the county is planting snags in the river

to foster fish habitat. Is this a case of environment over people?

Other things are just as important, but on a smaller scale. Will the

Historical Railway get its restoration facility? Will the school district realize the

importance of non-school youth athletic programs and work with various

organizations to facilitate their needs? Will the new interpretive center at

Rattlesnake Lake change the way locals enjoy the lake during the summer

months? Will Alpine Days find a new group of people to carry the torch?

Finally, will the Valley Record be there to report on local

government, local sports and local news? You bet, in fact, to a higher degree than we

have been able to in the past. We will continue to be the watchdog for

government activity, providing you with the information necessary to ensure that our

elected officials are doing what is in our best interest and holding them accountable

if not. We will provide you the latest scores on Mount Si and Cedarcrest

sports. We will provide you with columnists that give a glimpse into their daily

lives, and we will continue to write editorials that cause you to ask questions or

get involved. That's our job, and we are darn proud to do it.

Jim McKiernan

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