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Nothing. That’s what’s on Mitchell Smith’s mind as he races toward the bar, leaps as high as he can, and sails up, over and down to the mat. “The clearest mind is the best way,” the Mount Si sophomore explains his approach to the high jump. “If you think about it, you’re probably going to hit the bar.” A jumper since seventh grade, he takes the sport one inch at a time. Driven by both a family interest in the sport and the need to stay active, Smith was stoked to break a personal record in last week’s Mount Si home meet with Interlake. Breaking the personal record is the small victory that track and field athletes chase and earn constantly.
For ten days, the Keller family killings have been the most-talked about event in the Valley, garnering rare national attention to a place more remembered for its scenic beauty than grisly crimes. In my five years at this desk, I’ve never seen a worse tragedy unfold in the Valley. It comes on top of two months of similar tragedies—first the deadly February 15 plane crash that killed three people on Mount Si, then the fatal shooting of a local man who broke into a Si View neighborhood residence March 30. It’s a triple shock that’s left me numb. Horrific things like these aren’t supposed happen here.
So Olivia Doherty tells her teammate Paxton Richardson, watching as the junior’s right-leaning hits improved over the afternoon of April 18 at Mount Si Golf Course. “I noticed she was hitting really great drives,” said Doherty, playing Interlake in Mount Si’s second flight. “I wanted her to be positive about it.” In a young team handling the growing pains of competitive golf, both Doherty and Richardson are among the team’s future leaders.
I don’t have to go far to see that the world is changing. In fact, I barely need to take a step. Right outside the window in downtown Snoqualmie, as I speak, there’s an electric vehicle charging station, stall and all. It didn’t exist a few months ago, but now, the electronics are switched on and, for a price, it’s ready to charge your car. All it needs are customers. The Volkswagen parked there now isn’t plugged in. When the “No Parking: Reserved for Customers” sign went up, it drew a few angry looks from drivers hoping to park in front of our building. But there’s plenty of parking in downtown Snoqualmie, most days, if you know where to look, so I won’t begrudge the little station its due. This, after all, is the wave of the future.
He’s just getting into Star Wars, but for the moment, Hunter still loves trains. The 4-year-old boy smiles as he explores the Northwest Railway depot with his mother, Snoqualmie resident Christina Stembler, looking around at the big machines and the other children at play. Hunter is no ordinary boy. A new toy train is a reward to Hunter for doing something today that he finds hard, but comes much easier for other little boys. In a sitting last week, he ate a few tablespoons of yogurt—the most food he’s ever swallowed. He gets a treat for that. “Today, Hunter let me put three spoonfuls of yogurt in his mouth,” Stembler says. “He sat there and let me!” He likes the taste, but eating itself is a challenge. “Later on, he’ll realize that eating is a part of life,” Christina said.
Midnight on January 1, 1974, was when North Bend’s boys in blue hung up their old uniforms. King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Toner remembers the date of the big change, when the county took over for North Bend’s own city force. It’s part of a historical file kept at the North Bend substation, the city’s police station, covering 39 years of local police history. Continuity is important for Toner, who is the latest in a long line of police chiefs who have worked for North Bend in county uniform. He might be the last.
I’ve heard it, time and again, from police in Snoqualmie and North Bend alike: No matter how big your community is, you need to lock your doors. With all the vehicle prowls and burglaries the Valley’s seen in the last few years, safety and preparedness have been the refrain. Last week’s deadly encounter at a Si View residence hammers it home.
It was a duel of defenses as Mount Si faced Mercer Island Wednesday, April 4, in their home opener. Hits were few on both sides, but Mount Si pitcher Trevor Lane came away with the laurels, as he and the Mount Si defenders held off the Islander bats in fast innings. Pitching and defense are Mount Si's focus, says Lane, who felt good at the end of his third start for the Wildcats.
For school bond’s third attempt to work, community needs full discussion of issues surrounding two campuses
Lately, the pages of the Record have been crammed with all the great things happening in local schools. A nation-hopping band program and personal profiles of Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation’s Educators of the Year have merited a lot of ink in recent weeks, and for good reason. All this positive news comes at the same time that local e-forums are buzzing with more complicated matters in local education. Chief among them is the Snoqualmie Valley district board of directors’ decision to once again seek a taxpayer-funded bond to build a new middle school, while pushing ahead with plans to put a Freshman Learning Center at Snoqualmie Middle School
I couldn’t help but get caught up in Susan Kingsbury-Comeau’s passion when, in the wake of the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation’s annual fundraiser luncheon, the vice president and luncheon chairwoman shared with me how the group blew through its donation goal, again, netting a whopping $88,000 take.
Rustic rebirth: Fall City’s century-old ‘Ruth’s Barn’ getting a second century with major restoration
Frank Shields slides up the window sash and takes in the view from the loft of the Kinnear Ambold Farm barn. Outside the window, beyond the metal scaffolding surrounding the barn walls, past the vintage milking shed by the road, Fall City’s rural vista of pastures, barns and farmhouses beckons. “When this was a dairy, there were acres of area that this farm had to graze cattle,” Shields said. “Now, it’s all bought up in real estate.” The Ambold dairy is now lost to time, and the barn itself, derelict to age, almost became a casualty. But next-door neighbors and new owners Tim and Nancy Uhrich stepped up to make sure that the century-old “Ruth’s Barn” has another solid hundred years of life.
Roger Cleven has been working in the same building, for the same boss, for 30 years. And he is perfectly happy about it. Cleven, named best cashier in the Valley by readers in the Valley Record’s annual “Best of the Valley” poll, still remembers the day—October 13, 1980—he approached Bill Weller and asked for a job. Weller, today manager for the North Bend QFC, hired Cleven, at 17, to work at what was then the North Bend IGA. Since then, Cleven has held down practically every role in the building.
Resiliency paid off in the 60th minute of a dark and stormy soccer game for Alex Censullo. The junior and his fellow Mount Si boys soccer squad had spent the first half of a cold and rainy Tuesday, March 20, home match against Liberty under pressure from the Patriots. Then, it was time for payback. Coming up from a 1-2 deficit and seeking goal opportunities left and right, Wildcat tenacity paid off. Junior midfielder Erik Stai fed a ball to Censullo, who cut across the Liberty keeper to put it away, eliciting cheers from a well-bundled crowd.
High school football has changed a lot since Phil Pugh was quarterbacking for the Wildcats. Pugh, 71, of the Mount Si Class of 1958, was inducted this winter into the Washington High School Football Coaches’ Hall of Fame for his nearly 30-year career helming the North Mason varsity program in Kitsap County. At North Mason High School in Belfair, Pugh went 167-107 over 27 years, taking his team to state in his first two years.
Dave Olson proudly shows me around North Bend Community Church, the church he grew up in and worships at to this day. From the dining room, we proceed around to the sanctuary where, up above the nave, the little room sits where congregation members used to be baptized in a cold, hand-pumped metal tank. The tank is still there, but today, church members are more likely to be baptized in the waters of Rattlesnake Lake on a summer day. It’s true that some things have changed, but a lot has stayed the same at North Bend Community Church, which observes its 15th anniversary this year. This church has clung to its roots, and remains a gathering place for residents and good works, just as it was founded in 1897.
Without flood insurance, how would cities along the Snoqualmie River grow and change? That's the question behind Snoqualmie and North Bend's involvement in a federal case between the National Wildlife Federation and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Last month, the two Upper Valley cities were granted permission to join as intervening parties with 14 other Puget Sound municipalities in an ongoing legal dispute between the Wildlife Federation, a private nonprofit, and FEMA, over the federal agency's National Flood Insurance Program, which provides policies for property owners in floodplains.
If you haven’t voted yet for our ‘Best of the Valley’ contest, consider this your reminder. We poll residents in nearly 60 categories in ‘Best of,’ which is both an annual bragging-rights showdown among local business, and a snapshot of our community and its movers and shakers. The clock is ticking down toward next Wednesday, when voting stops, and Staff Reporter Carol Ladwig and I start rounding up profiles on the winners. Last year, we posted Q&As on winners in community categories like the best non-profit, best Valley event, the best volunteer, firefighter, scenic treasure, best policeman and city employee.
Hunger. Poverty. Economic and climate change. Social transformation. What do you think of when you hear those terms? Do you think of big global newsmakers? You should think of the Valley. What happens on the national or even international stage is also happening here. A lot of big national issues, from hunger and poverty to climate and social change, have been echoing around our Valley in recent days.
On a spring day more than 20 years ago, Gregory Thomas equipped himself with paint, brushes and a ladder and walked to the Snoqualmie totem pole. As a totem carver and a Native American—Thomas is a Thompson River Salish—Thomas has a sense for the art form. Asked by a friend, ‘Old Man’ Kelley, to restore the aging carving, Thomas agreed. Then-mayor Jeanne Hansen supplied the materials for Thomas’s project. “I repainted it the way it was before,” Thomas said. In bright, primary colors, “I redid everything, just like it was.”
Business owners Mike Condit, at downtown Snoqualmie’s Flying Frog Curiosity Shop, and Wes and Sharon Sorstokke, at neighboring Snoqualmie Falls Candy Factory, sigh when they think about going through another long construction season. “We’re nervous, because it shuts you down,” Sharon Sorstokke says. “But it’s got to be done,” husband Wes adds.Snoqualmie is in the midst of design work for the project’s second phase, which would dramatically change the city’s main thoroughfare, Railroad Avenue, which is part of a state highway, Route 202.