With 2020 ushered in, we would like to continue our annual tradition of looking back on the news of the past year.
This past year, 2019, the Snoqualmie Valley saw both reason to celebrate and tragedy throughout the year. Local elections were held, and at times they were contentious. While there was often cause for caution and concern, there also was reason to celebrate.
The first month of the year often is the slowest in terms of news as people adjust back into a routine after the holidays. While there was no single story that jumped out as defining the month, many positive news stories were reported in January, from plans for an art studio, a new bedtime story, a plastic bottle chandelier, a new North Bend city attorney, and a therapy dog for the Snoqualmie Fire Department.
Snow, snow and more snow. It seemed like the snow just would not stop in the Valley or on the Eastside. “‘Snowiest’ February on record” was the headline on Feb. 15, 2019. Then the next week, more snow and another headline: “Valley cities work to clear roads after heavy snowfall” published Feb. 22, 2019. Also in the Feb. 22 issue was a story about drivers stranded by snow at the Pass having to follow a convoy back to safety.
“Fall City voters will decide on fire district merger April 23” published March 15, 2019. That doesn’t seem like much of a headline or a story if you’re looking at it without context, but that proposed merger divided a town, and the impacts of that division rippled through 2019 and continues to reverberate into 2020. The merger failed in the special election.
“Local gem becomes national treasure” published April 5, 2019. Readers know it, we know it, Seattlites even know it — the Mountains to Sound Greenway is special. The federal government was apparently late to get the memo. But better late than never, as they say, when Congress designated the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area in March. The designation brings opportunities to “conserve natural resources, protect our cultural heritage, and contribute to the economic vitality of the region,” a press release stated at the time.
“North Bend man killed in crane accident,” published May 3, 2019. Tragedy struck for a North Bend family and the community when a crane collapse killed a father of two from North Bend. Andrew Yoder was an ironworker when a crane fell on April 27 in Seattle. The accident killed three other people, and four people were injured. Yoder, a veteran, was remembered throughout the year with memorials.
“Snoqualmie scores new two-sheet hockey ice arena,” published June 14, 2019. Seattle isn’t the only city gearing up for hockey action in the near future — Snoqualmie got good news when Sno-King Amateur Hockey Association and Sno-King Ice Sports entered a long-term lease agreement for a property on Snoqualmie Ridge. The price tag sits at about $23 million. The arena is expected to open sometime this summer.
“Snoqualmie council sets new public records rules,” published July 26, 2019. Several residents and the Valley Record cried foul when the Snoqualmie City Council voted to limit how much staff time is spent filling public records requests. The council disagreed with the accusation that the decision limits transparency, accountability and access. Later in the year, the city planned to get outside training for further public records request efficiency.
“North Bend continues development push as water situation, river mitigation remains uncertain,” published Aug. 23, 2019. We’re not sure if this story was entered to win a longest headline competition, but it likely will be entered as a flagship investigative piece in this year’s Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association contest. A pair of Valley Record reporters dug through piles of paperwork and studies to create a piece that illustrates the concerns several residents have regarding the stewardship of the river and natural environment and how that is weighed against the push for development in North Bend.
“E. coli found in Sallal water,” published Sept. 27, 2019. Some 5,000 people were greatly inconvenienced when their water was found to be tainted with E. coli. The boil water advisory went on for weeks and a well was shutdown before the whole system was treated and brought back online for consumption. Though the water was deemed healthy to drink, the Sallal Water Association noted that the system now will be chlorinated for the foreseeable future.
“Transparency topic ignites chamber forum,” published Oct. 18, 2019. Divided candidates vying for a city council seat for a divided city broke into lively debate when the topic of “transparency” struck a nerve. Since changing its public records policy, the Snoqualmie City Council had been accused of shucking transparency and accountability and limiting access — when the issue was broached, the incumbents went on the defense and the challengers didn’t mince words. The incumbents won out in the November General Election.
“Snoqualmie Tribe acquires Salish Lodge, property,” published Nov. 8, 2019. The Snoqualmie Tribe recovered a piece of its tradition territory with the $125 million purchase of the Salish Lodge and surrounding 45 acres. Plans to expand the lodge — which had been met with some opposition from residents near facility — were axed with the purchase.
“Urine mis-delivery prompts a Black Friday surprise,” published Dec. 6, 2019. A packed screening of “Frozen 2” in North Bend was evacuated when urine was accidentally delivered to the theater.