Opinion

Ben Cape on his departure

At the end of the week, I will drive all of my family's earthly belongings to Greeley, Colo., where I will start a new job next month as a copy editor at the Greeley Tribune. It's a bit of a homecoming. I grew up in Colorado and my wife went to college there. We have a daughter now and being closer to family started to become more important in the past year.

Naturally, I have started to reflect on the more than four years I have worked at the Valley Record. I tried to think of some wacky moments to share in this last column, but the best memories I have are of some very typical days. The culmination of those memories made up the personalities and places I got to know here at the paper. Typical days were what made this job enjoyable.

One such day was a Wednesday in October, the same day I found out I got the job in Greeley. It was a typical day on the job, but I ran across some of the people who have made this a great place to work.

Like most days, I drove into the Valley and probably stopped at Bibo Coffee Co. in Snoqualmie. Bibo was one of the first businesses to open in the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood. The drive down to Snoqualmie from Bibo's gave me the chance to look at Mount Si and the rest of the Valley as it trails off to Snoqualmie Pass. I never got tired of this view. Last week, when there was snow on the mountains, I took a picture. It was one of the views I never want to forget.

Driving down Railroad Avenue, I went by all the downtown Snoqualmie businesses. I think I have talked to every owner of every business on that street, from stalwarts like Jim Gildersleeve, who was always a go-to guy for flood information, to newcomers like Gianfranco Bafaro, whose restaurant has food so good I have been tempted to actually lick the plate.

Later that day, on my way to North Bend Elementary School, I stopped at the intersection of Main Avenue and Second Street. I looked to my right and noticed North Bend councilman Dave Cook walking his daughter down the street. Dave got involved in politics back in 2002 when North Bend considered passing an ordinance that would have put restrictions on driving while talking on a cellular phone. He started to gather signatures to give city residents powers of referendum and initiative. In the process, the City Council backed away from the cell phone ordinance and Dave stepped into city politics. He ran for office in 2003 and won. After the first of the year, Dave will be the longest-standing member of the council.

I looked left and saw the house that used to belong to Zara Fritts. Zara was an interesting woman, but I never really knew her story until I sat down to talk with her as she was moving out. She told me stories about moving out here from the Midwest, her late husband and the UFO she saw in the 1950s. I got to talk to her about a month before she died.

At North Bend Elementary, I went to a class that was getting dictionaries thanks to the Sallal Grange. I also ran into Lynn McCulley, a parent volunteer who became our part-time copy editor. I never knew community commitment to schools until I covered the Snoqualmie Valley School District.

Between my running around, I got to talk with our new reporter Sarah about some of my favorite Valley residents, including Dave Battey and Gloria McNeely. I often referred to Dave as the "unofficial" Valley historian, but I have no idea who the "official" one is so I am more than comfortable thinking of him as that. No one cares for the area's history more than Dave, and picking his brain was always a treat.

Gloria is retired but seems to work full time in various Valley organizations, including Sno-Valley Arts and the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society. I can think of nothing more financially thankless (and culturally imperative) than preserving history and organizing art events, and Gloria does both. The most she has ever asked for is the occasional story or brief in the newspaper. A sense of history and the arts provide quiet backdrops to communities that most don't recognize as essential until they're gone. Thanks to people like Gloria and Dave, they've not yet left the Valley.

That night I went to the candidates' forum for those running for office in Snoqualmie and for the school district's board of directors. I ran into Charles Peterson and talked with him about the award our photographer won for taking his picture. When I looked down the line of candidates, I saw many familiar faces, like Matt Larson, Gil Tumey, Tony Yanez and Kim Horn. Beside them were some new ones like Greg Harrelson, Bryan Holloway, Bob Jeans and Carolyn Simpson. Some I have talked with for literally hours, others I saw for the first time that night. They all talked about their love for their community. Jim commended them for running for office. I agreed.

It was a busy day to be sure, but a normal one. On other days, I ran into completely different, but no less influential and dynamic people.

If you spoke to me on any of those typical days, I may have been just another person to talk to (or avoid talking to). It may have seemed unremarkable, but I loved it. Thanks.

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