Opinion

Letters to the editor

Task force returns donations

For years, Washington State has attempted to incarcerate violent sex offenders on the McNeal Island prison facility. Upon completion of the sentence, these predators have been deemed a threat to the community and the state continues to hold the offenders as a safety concern for society. In 2001, the convicted sued the government claiming double jeopardy, as their rights were being violated under this process. The courts agreed the secondary retention period was a violation of their rights, but the courts also realized these individuals could not be released into society until they could demonstrate they were no longer a threat.

As part of the court ruling, Washington state was required to develop a facility in each county in the state to house the offenders away from the seclusion of the island prison as part of a treatment program to reintroduce the convicted back into society.

King County was elected the first county that was to comply with this new requirement, and in 2003 King County Executive Ron Sims selected an area near North Bend at Exit 38 to develop the facility. Citizens in North Bend and throughout the Snoqualmie Valley recognized the impacts this decision would have on the safety to our community, and the injustice this means for the convicted to relocate people from the seclusion of an island to the seclusion of a facility in the forest away from the city of Seattle where all the treatment facilities exist.

In response, local citizens organized the most powerful grassroots group to ever come out of the Snoqualmie Valley: Safe Kids Task Force. SKTF worked diligently within the laws of the state to stop the decision by the Department of Social Health Services to develop a facility in North Bend and provided the state with technical, clinical, and logical reasoning for the decision process to select an appropriate location in the city of Seattle for the facility.

As part of SKTF effort, citizens throughout the Valley contributed time, talent, skills, and money to help us with our mission to stop the placement of this facility in the Cascade foothills. SKTF won their fight in 2003, and since that time we have been keeping an eye on the state to ensure future action is not required to support the safety of our Valley.

We are pleased to announce that we feel the time has come when we can release the retained funds back into the community to help the people who donated to the cause. Safe Kids Task Force made a donation of $2,746.09 to the local food bank and also made an equivalent donation to Encompass, where this money will directly support the community that so generously helped when we needed them. These donations mean that we can close the book on this chapter in the valley, as we put SKTF to rest.

For all of the people of the Valley, we thank you for everything. For the state and King County, please be aware that even though we may be few in number in our Valley, we are mighty when we join together as one.

Terril Perrine, Anne Stedman, Susan Sellers, Kathy Hyland, Barbara Scott

Safe Kids Task Force board members

Santa success

A huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped make our annual Breakfast with Santa a huge success. We especially thank our wonderful Santa, Owen Walsh, for making many small children very happy — and to his delightful helper, Sue Beauvais. As always, Mayor Ken Hearing happily flipped pancakes, supported by an energetic kitchen crew.

Waitresses, hostesses and cashiers were all cheerful in their Christmas attire, serving our generous community. We appreciate the support that this community gives us each year in this fundraiser benefiting the senior center. A good time is always had by all. Santa will be back next year!

Susan Hankins and Pam Whittington

Mount Si Senior Center

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