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As summer turns to fall, we enter a new season of school classes, sporting and recreation events, the wrap of construction projects… and the ramping up of political contests. It’s a time of change, and as such can be both exhiliarating and frustrating. Which brings me to roll out a few autumn 2012 cheers and jeers:
‘The years have gone by so fast’: Diane Keener retiring after 41 years at Mount Si Transitional Center
Diane Keener holds back the tears when she thinks about the change in front of her. She’s leaving behind her full-time job, but will miss the people who have meant so much to her over the last four decades. Most Americans change jobs several times over their lives. But Keener, a North Bend resident, seems to have bucked that trend. This Friday, she retires after 41 years, nearly the entirety of her adult working life, at the Mount Si Transitional Heath Center. “It doesn’t seem like 41 years,” she says. “The years have gone by so fast.”
The crucial moment for Ella Thompson came on the final hill climb. Her legs wanted to stop. But Ella’s willpower wouldn’t allow it. “On the hill, especially, people want to stop really bad,” the Mount Si junior said. She was one of them. “I just put my mind someplace else, tell my feet to keep going,” Thompson said. She’s tried mentally humming songs. But what really works is simply zoning out. Her mind is over her muscle. The Mount Si distance squads met Bellevue and Lake Washington in their first league meet, Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek Park.
Trudy the dog keeps her eyes on the Harrison family’s flock. She noses in for a closer look at a big, white hen. The hen eyes her back, safe on the other side of a layer of chicken wire, then goes back to her business, patrolling a dirt-floored pen for food. Other hens take dust baths, cluck gently, or maintain their pecking order. Several keep their eyes on the nearby Harrisons, hauling in groceries from the car, hoping for a treat. To dad Ryan Harrison, the best part of owning 11 hens in his Snoqualmie backyard is the entertainment value. “Chicken TV,” he calls it. “You can sit out here and watch them all day long. They just do their thing.”
Ed Wilson grasps the club with both arms. Only one, his right, ends in a hand. His left arm links to a prosthetic, a red, white and blue-striped fork that fits around the club, giving Wilson added power and control. He drives the ball with practiced ease. Wilson, a 21-year North Bend resident and competitive golfer, lost his left hand 18 years ago, after the packing unit of a recycling truck snagged his glove. The injury couldn’t keep him off the green, though. “Sometimes, I think things are meant to be this way,” says Wilson.
He wasn’t in it for the glory. He didn’t even give me his full name. But the North Bend man—just Jim to me—who was moved by reports about the massive wildfire blazing in Central Washington, and dropped off a small pile of supplies as part of the growing donation effort, did what he did for good reasons. He acted out of basic humanity, and because he believes that what goes around, comes around. Time and again, I and others at this newspaper heard similar stories from the folks in our Valley, and beyond, who stepped up over the last two weeks to help families affected by the Taylor Bridge wildfire in Kittitas County.
First one teen, then another steps onto the ladder, takes the scraper and starts cleaning 50-year-old gunk from the wooden interior of Messenger of Peace. While some teens might drag their heels on household chores, these hands-on activities at the Northwest Railway Museum seem to draw in the dozen teenage participants in RailCamp Northwest, which recently visited the Snoqualmie heritage site. Open to high-school-age boys and girls, the camp, organized by the National Railway Historical Society, has run for 15 years on the east coast, but made its first visit to the left coast earlier this month. Most participants were from back east, but several learned about it in the Northwest. So far, the camp has been a big success, counselors said.
Thin gouts of sand fly as the Caitlyn Maralack whacks ball after ball out of the bunker at Snoqualmie Ridge TPC. Caitlyn is at home in the sand, just as she is on the green or the rough, or really, anywhere on a golf course. “I’m working on all the parts of my game, putting it all together,” says Caitlyn. “This is the sport I’m going to stick to. It’s something I’m good at.”
Brother and sister Landen and Izzy Hearing were soaked but happy as the final parade car rolled past. They were among a horde of children—and a few adults—who danced in the cooling spray of a local fire truck in the finale of the Festival at Mount Si Grand parade. This was the first parade ever for Landen, 9, and Izzy, 6. "I like the small-town parade," said mom Sharesa. "So far, so good." With construction on at Si View Park, the Festival saw some changes this year, but most popular events returned. The parade lasted nearly two hours, and the Festival still drew thousands to Si View Park.
When a hard decision needs to be made, should government come to you, or should you go to local government? That’s one of the questions that’s come to my mind in recent weeks, as I’ve noticed what appears to be a trend: Local cities using a specialized tool to connect with their citizens. This year, both the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend turned to a private survey company to gauge local support for tough decisions. In Snoqualmie’s case, the firm, called EMC Research and Northwest Public Affairs, ran a telephone survey to gauge potential support for a levy.
He’s here every morning, and he keeps punctual office hours. A photo of him in office attire, complete with necktie, hangs by the door. From his perch in a comfy seat by the counter, he scopes out the customers as they enter, or takes an interested glance at the products that employees carry past. Sometimes, he naps on the job. You might think Sylar owns the place.
The black-and-white photo shows a row of men hefting fire axes and saws, smiling confidently as they open a new station. The 2005 image chronicles the Snoqualmie Fire Department of a different era—a time of fast growth in the city, when fire and police divisions were being built and staffed to handle a big new population. Fast-forward seven years, and most of the men in the picture still work in Snoqualmie. But their jobs have changed. Their department is busier, but hasn’t grown in nearly a decade. Increasing needs are beginning to tell. A hiring freeze could thaw soon, though, as part of an operations levy that goes before city voters this fall.
There’s an amazing rate of change going on in the Valley. It’s apparent in the growth that’s happening, even amid a recession, in cities like North Bend and Snoqualmie. It’s apparent in people’s behavior, be it in how they handle their trash, deal with wildlife, help others, or even drive their cars. Life in our community is an experience in flux. It struck me this week how Valley residents are being asked to change. It all started with the bears.
One night last spring, two moms—one a human, the other a bear—came face to face. Becca Russell of Preston was a new mom, up late tending to her newborn, when she heard a noise in the night. “Oh, shoot, it’s the bears,” she thought. But it wasn’t one roving, garage-browsing bear, but three: A sow and two cubs. Russell’s annoyance that now more of the hungry creatures were making a haven of her home turned to fear, when she tried to shoo them away, hollering from the safety of her home. Outside her office window, the mama bear rose to her hind legs and huffed in defiance.
Most of us can agree that the summer is flying by. I took stock of that over the last few days when I was confronted by multiple announcements for upcoming tax measures and requests for interviews by some of the area’s candidates for legislature. Suddenly, the August primary is days away. The August 7 vote winnows the field for another election on November 6 to decide our next set of state legislators, congressional representatives and governor. At the same time, we’ve got two important local tax propositions in the pipeline: Operations levy for both the City of Snoqualmie and the Si View Metro Parks District.
New promise from lives cut short: Scholarship honors murder victims Lynnettee and Kaylene Keller | Photo gallery
Eighteen-year-old Kaylene Keller had the perfect life of a teen, and a fantastic future bringing virtual worlds to life seemed just around the corner. Three months ago, Keller and boyfriend Carson Brammer were taking their love of video games to a new level. The teens had dated for 15 months, drawn together by common interests and goals. Carson would haul a 32-inch television over to Kaylene’s North Bend house, or they’d push their computer monitors together, then explore and adventure in virtual realms like Skyrim or Portal.
Wendy Thomas kept telling me that she didn’t want to relive the past. Specifically, she didn’t want to keep reopening old wounds—the ten years of missed opportunities that she and fellow downtown merchants experienced when Snoqualmie’s main tourist route changed from Highway 202 to the Snoqualmie Parkway. Ever since, she and other merchants have described a changed neighborhood, where, at its most extreme, fewer than half of the number of visitors stopped and shopped. I never knew that the downtown had seen such changes, as I’m a relative newcomer here.
When it comes to her big idea, Wendy Thomas is eager to keep things positive. That explains the hula hoops. Thomas, as owner of Carmichael’s True Value Hardware Store, has been a presence in downtown Snoqualmie for 10 years. In that time, she’s watched the tourist traffic flowing through her neighborhood ebb with the times. She wants to reverse that with a new tourism traffic route linking downtown, the Ridge and Snoqualmie Casino—a loop, hence the hoop, a prop for her route argument.
Steve McCulley’s two decades as a Valley resident, parent, and police officer had a culmination Sunday, July 1, when he officially took the reins of the Snoqualmie Police Department as chief. Handpicked for this moment two years ago this August when he was hired as captain, McCulley replaced the newly retired Jim Schaffer, the personable officer who saw Snoqualmie through more than two decades of massive population growth. Now, McCulley oversees the department as Snoqualmie reaches its full growth, and will add officers, expand the department and increase its presence in schools.
A low, steady moan comes from inside the steel tube as Sgt. Kim Chandler approaches. When he gets too close, the occupant lets out a huffy snort, and Chandler springs back, not eager to get his face coated in bear sneeze. Chandler and four other Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers had trapped the bear in the usual way—Krispy Kreme donuts are the favored bait—but were in for a surprise after they shot the animal with a tranquilizer dart in the shoulder.