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2018 Edmonds year in review, part 1

 

December 30, 2018

Visitors to Brackett’s Landing North wait for a BNSF train to pass at Main Street in Edmonds. Relief could come in 2019 to train noise with the long-delayed trackside warning system, which would reduce the footprint of sound.

JANUARY

11th annual splash into the Sound kicks off a new year

What started as a small gathering of like-minded folks has morphed into one of Edmonds’ most popular traditions.

Indeed, the 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Brackett’s Landing North bulged with humanity – those brave enough to splash into Puget Sound to welcome the new year, and those content to live vicariously through them.

Old high school grandstands no more

The stadium grandstands at Civic Field in Edmonds, formerly the home of the Edmonds Tigers, are being torn down by the city of Edmonds. Its demolition is the first step of creating a new park at the 8-acre site.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Carrie Hite, the tear down will be completed by Thursday, Jan. 25. Hite said the grandstand’s wood is too damaged for resale and will be recycled. “The beams we identified to save for future construction have tested positive for lead-based paint, so will be disposed of appropriately,” she said.

Ukulele Mike dies at 72

Mike, “Ukulele Mike,” an Edmonds residents who ukulele instructional videos had a worldwide reach, died at age 72 on Jan. 2. Thanks to his popular instructional videos on YouTube – he had six channels – “Ukulele Mike” was mourned by fans who filled Lynch’s Facebook page with testimonials to his informative and good-natured instruction, which he always ended with “happy strumming.”

Edmonds homicide suspect on the run

Edmonds Police have identified a suspect in a homicide investigation as 22-year-old Derrick Crawford, a man with ties to the Mukilteo and Renton areas. An arrest warrant for second-degree murder has been issued for his arrest, Edmonds Police Sgt. Shane Hawley said.

Crawford is 6’ 5” tall and weighs about 170 pounds. He goes by the street name “Wiz.”

At about 11:25 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, officers found a 27-year-old Edmonds resident, Joshua Werner, with a gunshot wound to the head. That man was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Editor’s note: Crawford was caught and is now doing time in prison.

A surprise honor at VFW meeting

Edmonds resident Michael Reagan only draws portraits of fallen soldiers. So if someone receives one of his free portraits, and that person didn’t have someone die in the war, they are special.

Olivia Olson, an 17-year-old senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School, is special.

Olson was honored for another of her award-winning essays Jan. 17 at a special meeting of the Edmonds’ VFW Post 8870 at American Legion Hall.

City benefits from passing of capital budget

Several big-budget projects in Edmonds will be getting much-needed funds after the Legislature passed a $4.18 billion capital budget on a 95-1 vote that was signed by Gov. Inslee.

It includes a record $1 billion to build public schools and $800 million to build colleges and universities, with $37.8 million for the Edmonds Community College Science, Engineering and Technology Building and $8.77 million for the replacement of Madrona K-8.

For the city of Edmonds itself, there are two major beneficiaries: $2.25 million for the Edmonds Waterfront Center, as well as $500,000 for adjacent shoreline restoration, and $391,000 for replacing the roof at Frances Anderson Center.

Edmonds orca: An icon at the beach

The ferry is no doubt the most photographed icon in Edmonds. But just off to its side, at the base of the Brackett’s Landing North jetty, is the orca.

Since installed in 1994, the driftwood sculpture has been the willing backdrop to thousands of memories. People of all ages have posed beside it, and kids who once climbed aboard now lift their own little ones onto its well-worn frame for digital keepsakes.

Look closely, and you’ll see the artist’s inscription: “Hurley 94.”

That’s John Hurley, whose tireless upkeep of his beloved work has kept the orca positioned by Puget Sound, where rain, wind, snow – and even sun – wear it down and even caused it to topple over a few years ago.

FEBRUARY

Another Seattle refugee moves to Edmonds

Two major Seattle businesses that have moved to Edmonds does not a trend make, but it certainly seems like a sign of the times.

Keyport, a seafood producer and food manufacturer, plans to officially open its doors Feb. 2 at 654 Fifth Ave. S with 20-plus employees, having made the move from Shilshole Avenue NW in Ballard. Interestingly, it is taking the spot formerly held by another Seattle refugee, Ten Gun Design, which moved from Pioneer Square to Second Avenue South last year.

‘Blowing up’ the Taste: Changes in store for Edmonds’ biggest event

This year’s A Taste of Edmonds in August may be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced or seen. It starts with a new name: It’s now Taste Edmonds.

That’s according to the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the annual event at Civic Field, to be called Civic Park after its redesign in the near future.

Details were scarce, but the chamber’s Jan Nicholas told members the following during the 2017 annual report meeting Jan. 26 at the Edmonds Yacht Club: “We’re making a huge commitment. We will be completely blowing up the Taste. We want (locals) to love to hear that the Taste is coming, not dread it.”

Police investigating possible hate crime

Two African-American teenagers taking pictures for a school project were given a frightening lesson in intolerance when they claimed a group of people outside Harvey’s Lounge in Edmonds threw racial slurs their way and threatened them with a baseball bat.

The Edmonds Police Department is investigating the possible hate crime through interviewing witnesses and viewing surveillance footage from the business to determine if a crime occurred. It also has notified the FBI.

The incident was the talk of local social media on Monday, Feb. 5, after the mother of the two teens, Darnesha Weary, posted her version of the Sunday, Feb. 4, incident on the Edmonds Moms Facebook page.

She decided to cut back her corkscrew willow. Hubbub ensued.

So this is the lady who has caused so much consternation in Edmonds over the years. Katherine Stojkovic is a diminutive woman with closely cropped, short white hair. Her lean and solid figure is testament to years sweating through CrossFit training.

Stojkovic looks tiny in front of her 3,800-square-foot home – anyone would be, really – as it’s a modern, upscale neighbor to mostly older homes, a few showing their wear from time.

I met Stojkovic after she fired off a letter to the Beacon over the weekend that she titled “Get the story before you speak!” In it, she expressed dismay at passers-by who criticized her after she hired a botanist to cut back a very large and very visible corkscrew willow tree in front of her house.

Hundreds rally in Edmonds for gun-control reform

It seemed appropriate that Edmonds-Woodway High School was the backdrop for the start of a rally in support of reducing gun violence, which has claimed too many young lives on school campuses.

“We shouldn’t have to go to school each morning fearing for our lives,” E-W sophomore Quinlon Merrin told a crowd of several hundred people – of all ages – who marched from the high school to College Place Elementary on Monday, Feb. 19.

Merrin was referring to the Feb. 14 mass murder of 17 students Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The shooter used an AR-57, which, according to Wikipedia, is produced by a company in Kent.

MARCH

State of the City: Change, yes, but retaining charm

Is Edmonds better off now than 10 or 20 years ago?

It depends on whom you ask, of course. Certainly, there are restaurants seemingly opening every week, a world-class museum, and a sparkling performing arts center. A new waterfront center is coming, as is a reimagined downtown park. Summer weekends are packed with tourists spending money.

But then there’s the traffic and lack of parking.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling did not have to mention that his city isn’t “Deadmonds” anymore during his sixth State of the City address. He didn’t have to. Everyone’s hip to it now.

Students told to write feelings about ‘a well-organized Indian attack’

The Edmonds School District is praising a parent who brought to their attention an elementary school assignment that she deemed racist.

Shawna Gallagher, a Native American, said a teacher at Meadowdale Elementary School in Lynnwood gave her class a writing assignment that asked students to describe their “conflicted feelings toward the Indians” after seeing white colonists killed during a surprise attack.

Gallagher’s son Blaine, 11, was the only Native American in the class.

Racial profiling incident in Edmonds a hoax

A case of possible racial profiling that spread quickly on social media turned out to be false report.

On March 3, the Edmonds Police Department learned of community concerns that a young black male was stopped by Edmonds police while running down the street on his way to soccer practice at Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Social media posts claimed that the stop had been racially motivated, and these concerns were forwarded to the Edmonds Beacon, as well as Mayor Dave Earling and City Council members, by community member Michael Bateman.

Eventually, the high school student making the claim changed his story.

Avalanche takes the life of Luke Rohde

You couldn’t keep Luke Rohde off his snowmobile for long. Everybody knew that.

“When he rode, he was so happy,” said his father, Korey Rohde, on Tuesday. “You can ask everybody. He lived for snowmobiling. And for someone to be that passionate about something is truly amazing.”

Family, friends and the snowmobiling world are mourning the loss of Luke and his upbeat energy, forever gone after an avalanche swept him down a gully on Park Butte near Mount Baker in Whatcom County on Saturday, March 10.

Luke was 27, a local guy. He grew up in Esperance, attending Westgate Elementary and College Place Middle, graduating from Edmonds-Woodway High in 2008.

QFC overcharged its shoppers during a two-week period

QFC in Edmonds admits it overcharged customers on their sales tax between Feb. 26 and March 10 due to an internal error.

Charles Hunter, a retired doctor from Woodway who practiced in Edmonds, brought the pricing error to the store’s attention earlier this month. He said he checked a receipt because he knew that the tax increased in Edmonds earlier in 2017, on April 1, but he didn’t remember what it was.

(Edmonds’ sales tax jumped from 9.8 percent to 10.3 percent, thanks to voter approval of a half-cent increase to support the Regional Tax Authority, Sound Transit.)

Hunter and his wife shop at QFC frequently (which, like Fred Meyer, is owned by Kroger). “That’s strange,” he said he told his wife after inspecting the receipt. “It looks like it’s over 11 percent. I did the math on it. I didn’t think it was going that high.”

APRIL

Sister City Commission celebrates 30 years with another trip to Japan

When the nine members of the Edmonds Sister City delegation return from Hekinan, Japan, on Friday, April 6, they will have seen some amazing sites from their week’s stay: City Hall and the Chubu thermal power plant, the Toyota automobile factory, the Tatsukichi Fujii Contemporary Art Museum and the Okazaki Castle Cherry Blossom Festival..

“It really is a great adventure for the folks who sign up to go,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, who is there with his wife, Susan. Among the delegation are Edmonds Historical Museum Director Katie Kelly and Edmonds Historic Commission Chair Emily Scott, a local archeologist. All pay their own expenses.

Rep. Jayapal packs Edmonds Senior Center

U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal received plenty of applause March 29 when she hosted a town hall before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 150 people at the Edmonds Senior Center.

She also drew loud boos – not for the progressive issues she championed during a 45-minute speech before a Q&A – but by ticking off the names of President Trump’s cabinet members who “lead entire departments where they don’t even believe in it”: Betsy DeVos (Education); Ben Carson (Housing and Urban Development); Scott Pruitt (Environmental Protection Agency); and Mick Mulvaney (Management and Budget).

Edmonds-Kingston run could see ferries’ first conversion to cleaner energy

Washington State Ferries is in the preliminary stage of converting three of its Jumbo Class II boats from diesel to hybrid electric power, and the Puyallup – which serves the Edmonds-Kingston run – could be first in line for the environmentally friendly and cost-saving upgrade.

Gov. Jay Inslee included $600,000 in his 2017 transportation budget to WSF to study the transition. A hybrid integration study was completed in February, and a request for proposals for design and implementation is now being planned.

In addition to the Puyallup, two other boats – the Tacoma and Wenatchee, which primarily serve the Seattle-Bainbridge run – would be included in the conversion.

Councilmember: Taxpayers are subsidizing Sno-Isle

Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Teitzel wants to make sure he’s clear on one point.

“I am a strong supporter of the Sno-Isle Libraries,” he said. “They provide a very important service as part of a vibrant community and are delivering excellent library service to Edmonds citizens. And I understand the need for revenue to continue to provide top-notch service.”

But Teitzel has another issue, and this concerns the disproportionate amount of money Edmonds residents pay relative to other cities in the Sno-Isle system to maintain library services through property taxes. He says residents are paying too much.

Sno-King Chorale’s Frank DeMiero announces retirement

Award-winning music educator and conductor Frank DeMiero will close out his career with Edmonds-based Sno-King Community Chorale by directing the 95-voice group in one of his favorite genres of music – jazz.

The chorale will perform two original pieces by guest artists Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson 7 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at Edmonds Center for the Arts.

DeMiero – along with his wife Yvonne – has relocated to Dallas to be closer to family, and is turning over the reins to conductor and artistic director Dustin Willetts.

Waterfront Center cost jumps from $11M to $16M

The financial news on the planned Edmonds Waterfront Center is not encouraging. It took six people to break it to councilmembers Tuesday night.

The cost for the sparkling jewel on the waterfront – to replace the past-its-prime, last-legs-status Senior Center, has gone up from an envisioned $11 million to $16 million.

That’s a 44 percent jump.

Still, Tuesday’s speakers were committed to the idea of the center, even with the new price tag.

“It would be a travesty to build anything less than the full dream,” said campaign director Daniel Johnson, who added that he had looked into saving costs by building a smaller space

E-W students join national movement against gun violence

This time, there was plenty of talking. And yelling. Impassioned statements by young people tired of the same old, same old.

Edmonds Woodway High School students joined schools across the country April 20 in a peaceful school walkout, responding to recent gun violence and commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

It was a different scene in March, when E-W students gathered in the school’s courtyard for a silent protest.

“The entire country is standing up and saying they have had enough,” said sophomore Alissa Berman, one of the rally’s organizers for National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools.

MAY

A new look for Sixth and Main

When the Edmonds Beacon posted a story on Facebook last week announcing the closure of a beloved Edmonds business – Next-to-Nature pet store at Sixth Avenue South and Main Street – many comments, some verging on desperation, predictably centered on the not-more-condos-anything-but-a-bank variety.

Mike McMurray hears the criticisms. But the second-generation Edmonds resident, a local financial adviser, purchased the property at 550 Main St., also home to Ombu Salon, with the idea of creating something the city can be proud of.

His plans don’t include tearing down the building on site, a distinctive 1950s, curved-roof building originally home to a Thriftway grocery store. He envisions a renovated building – updated to meet current codes – decked out with gray metal siding and black, industrial-like windows, similar to a warehouse you might appreciate in Portland’s trendy Pearl District.

More parking: 75 additional spaces coming to downtown

Parking: Everybody talks about it, and Edmonds is trying to do something about it.

Following changes to on-street parking made downtown last spring, the city has embarked on a new set of changes that will free up even more parking for shoppers and visitors.

Last year, the city reconfigured the on-street employee parking permit area to make more three-hour parking available for shoppers and visitors.

It also started a pilot program by demarcating 20-foot, individual, on-street parking spaces on Fourth and Fifth avenues north between Main and Bell streets and Main Street between Fifth and Sixth.

Students come forward to report weapon at E-W

An 18-year-old Edmonds-Woodway student who pointed a gun at the head of a fellow student on campus Tuesday, May 8, was booked into Snohomish County Jail for second-degree assault, a felony.

On Wednesday, Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure reported that the weapon was an air gun, commonly referred to as an airsoft gun. They are realistic-looking weapons frequently used by competitive teams playing simulated war games.

Suspect: ‘Get out of our country’

A woman accused of hurling racial slurs at McDonald’s in Edmonds on Highway 99 was arrested and charged with malicious harassment, according to Edmonds police.

Sgt. Josh McClure said the 59-year-old Edmonds woman was taken into custody Friday, May 4, after police received a 911 call from a witness.

Dorothy Gross named 2018 Citizen of the Year

When Dorothy Gross moved to Edmonds with her husband in 1981, she immediately began searching for volunteer opportunities in her new hometown. She found them, and then some, including serving the Edmonds Log Cabin Visitor Information Center for nearly 31 years.

For her tireless efforts to make Edmonds a better place for both visitors and residents, Gross has been named 2018 Edmonds Citizen of the Year.

“I am flattered,” Gross said. “I’m just an ordinary member of the community. I’m not quite sure why the Kiwanis selected me this year, but it’s great, and I’m happy about it.”

Edmonds police to patrol Woodway full time

The city of Edmonds and the Town of Woodway have agreed to a new contract for police services, one that both say will benefit their citizens.

Under the existing longtime interlocal agreement – which goes through the end of the year _ Edmonds PD will continue to provide on a per-call basis for 16 hours per day to supplement Woodway’s own police officers serving eight hours per day.

Under that agreement, Woodway has paid Edmonds $4,166.66 a month, which equates to $50,000 on an annual basis.

Edmonds first in county to ban straws, stirrers, plastic cutlery

Nine years ago, Edmonds became the first city in Washington state to ban the use of single-use plastic checkout bags at all retail establishments.

On Tuesday, the city took another step toward an environmental protection leadership role with a resolution to ban single-use plastic straws and stirrers, as well as plastic cutlery, in the Edmonds food service industry.

Edmonds is the first city in Snohomish County to do so.

City Council votes against building height study

It turns out a renewed discussion among city leaders to consider adjusting height limitations in the downtown Edmonds retail core never had a chance. If you want to start a conversation about it with those who admire downtown’s architectural appeal – “quaint” is an adjective you will hear all day long – get ready to settle down and stay awhile.

But last week, City Council members did the opposite, quickly rejecting a proposal by the Economic Development Commission to study – “study,” not to make a decision one way or the other – of reducing the ground-floor building height from 15 feet to 12 feet in Business District 1 (BD1).

JUNE

Truck crashes into home

An unoccupied, runaway semi-truck carrying an excavator slammed into an Edmonds home at about 1 p.m. Monday, June 18, causing considerable damage but causing no casualties. According to Edmonds Police on scene and witnesses, the truck – registered to Evergreen Heavy Haul in Seattle – rolled down the steep incline of Viewland Way and crashed into the home at 1125 Olympic Ave.

Seattle startup chooses Edmonds for first stackable housing project

With the housing affordability crisis increasing, and no sign of easing, one Edmonds church is on the forefront of an innovative approach to benefit what it calls the most vulnerable in society. Get ready for a new approach to modular homes, the first of which is expected to be installed this month.

Edmonds Lutheran Church and Compass Housing Alliance have partnered to introduce a three-phase, multistory housing development for low-income individuals and couples. The goal: To provide affordable housing for people experiencing “housing instability,” including students, veterans, the homeless, teachers, firefighters, service workers, seniors, refugees and others who find housing out of reach.

Woman kills herself on Edmonds train tracks

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled that the death of a 33-year-old woman who jumped in front of a BNSF train in Edmonds was a suicide.

A memorial for the woman is growing on a fence inside the Brackett's Landing North parking lot. In addition to flower, a large poster includes a number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) and felt pens for writing messages.

The incident occurred at about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, June 16, said Edmonds Police Sgt. Shane Hawley, citing witnesses at the scene.

Falling short on electric car mandate

In April, Edmonds-Woodway students walked out of class to protest gun violence.

Eleven years ago, the Washington Legislature passed an ambitious law, signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire, that required taxpayer-supported local and state governments to run their vehicle fleets on electricity and biofuels rather than fossil fuels.

The mandate charged that they do this “to the extent practical” by June 1, 2018.

But a report from Coltura, a Seattle-based nonprofit working to achieve a gasoline-free U.S. by 2040, recently released a report showing that compliance remains woefully inadequate.

The Beacon, working with City of Edmonds Fleet Manager Mike Adams, found that the city had just four vehicles out of a fleet of 119 that satisfied the all-electric mandate. The four were Nissan Leafs, three in the Public Works Department and one in the Planning Department.

 

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