THE TOP 10, 20 AND 30 OF EVERYTHING FOR 2012 January 01, 2013
(MONROE, WA) -- All right kids, as we said at this time last year pay attention, keep your eyes open and your hands to yourselves. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover and there’s no time to waste.
Remember there may be a test later.
The year 2012 was a big mind-pump all right, filled to the brim with all manner of weirdness, scoundrels, highwaymen, thieves, cattle rustlers, trigger men, carpet baggers, pick pockets, scum buckets of the highest order and various and sundry other no accounts engaging in all manner of dastardly deeds (including thievery, lying, cheating and outright skullduggery) which were alternately fascinating, ugly, horrifying, terrifying, unusual, interesting, sometimes funny, illuminating, enriching, gut-wrenching and/or irritating depending upon your point of view.
Here then is a look at the Top News Stories and other stuff for the year 2012.
TOP STORIES 2012 IN THE SKY VALLEY
In January of 2012 community members in Monroe got a big surprise from a judge.
Turns out that all their efforts - all the hours they put in on meetings, in planning, in talking with city leaders and other community stakeholders over several years in formulating a clear vision and design plan, all the sweat equity they put into what they assumed was a package that had the force of law that would assure the Monroe North Kelsey shopping district did not end up looking like a Lynwood/Highway 99 strip mall with a huge big box discounter dominating the city’s retail core presence – were, evidently, for nothing.
Superior Court Judge Richard T. O’Krent ruled in an Everett court room against Friends of North Kelsey, a community group that had sued the city of Monroe over the city council’s fast-track (much of it behind closed doors with no community input) go ahead for Walmart to build a superstore just off Highway 2 near the Galaxy theater.
In a hearing that lasted about a half hour the judge read his decision to both sides in the case that said, in essence, the city council could do anything it wanted in that area.
Lesson learned: be very careful whom you vote into office. Find details on that story here
Then in March Monroe community members hit the bricks at the corner of North Kelsey St. and Highway 2 in Monroe with signs, passion and resolve saying the Walmart fight ain’t over until its over.
Friends of North Kelsey announced at that time a lawsuit to appeal that January 4 county court decision that gave the green light for Walmart to build the store.
The group challenged the ruling on the basis that they believe the judge’s action in the case was a mistake in that it gave an erroneous green light to what they also believe was an illegal decision by the Monroe City Council to fast-track approve this type of huge big box store at the North Kelsey shopping district.
As of this writing the appeal has not been ruled on. More on that story here
In Sultan at the end of April the community saw the grand opening of its first large, full service hardware store in many a decade when the new Sultan Ace Hardware store opened where the old Sultan Feed & Seed store had been right next to the Sultan River Bridge.
Also in April a landmark building in Skykomish burned to the ground in an arson fire. King County Fire Investigators said the early morning Tuesday blaze that destroyed the historic Whistling Post Tavern in Skykomish was likely started to conceal a burglary.
“When investigators arrived they discovered the phone lines to the century old building had been cut and money was stolen from the automatic teller machine (ATM) located inside the building,” said Sergeant Cindi West of the King County Sheriff's Office.
The tavern, a landmark that has been in continuous operation in Skykomish under one name or another since 1897, is located right on the town’s main street, Railroad Avenue.
The tavern is almost completely rebuilt now and the last word we heard was that Grand Opening was planned around mid January or so.
In a pre-game ceremony before Volunteer Appreciation Night at the Everett AquaSox game Monday, Aug. 6 United Way of Snohomish County presented Donna Rice of Startup, WA with the 2012 Roger Bouck Award for Volunteerism in Action.
Rice is known in the Sky Valley community for serving meals to the homeless, caring for seniors and helping as a midwife - delivering 350 babies over the past 50 years - all as a volunteer.
In late May came a story from Gold Bar that made national news. It was one of those dramatic, pulse-pounding rescues that might have been the storyline of a Hollywood movie but it was for real over a weekend up at Wallace Falls State Park, a popular 4,735-acre camping park with three waterfalls just off Highway 2 near Gold Bar.
A young boy slipped while wading in the Wallace River. He quickly then was swept over a ten foot waterfall before he was able to scramble to a rock, just prior to going over the main 270 foot waterfall. He came within a gnat’s eyelash of death.
And there he sat right next to the edge of the waterfall on a tiny rock, freezing from the cold and waiting for hours to be rescued. The story, with pictures and video can be found here
In June the construction of a new wakeboard park in Monroe was given the green light. The Monroe city council voted 5-2 to approve a deal with the water sports company H3O Development to build the facility at tiny Lake Tye located at 14964 Fryelands Blvd.
The city, which owns the land on which the park would be built, will lease the land to H3O for 10 years with an option to extend the contract out another 15 years.
SULTAN LOSES A BANK & THE SANCHEZ-LEON CASE IN SKYKOMISH
In September of 2012 it was announced that by the end of the year Sultan would be losing one of only two banks in town.
The Bank of America branch in Sultan was set to close by year’s end as part of Bank of America’s cost cutting plan which was projected to result in some 16,000 jobs being slashed by the end of 2012.
The bank is now closed and the building is vacant.
In January of 2012 a Snohomish man was being held on $1 million dollars bail after being accused of raping, sexually abusing in other ways and photographing at least four young girls, some as young as 2 or 3 years old.
Enrique D. Sanchez-Leon, who lived at an apartment in the 700 block of Avenue D, was being held at the Snohomish County Jail after police seized a huge amount of alleged child pornography in Sanchez’s apartment on more than 30 computers and upwards of 50 to 60 hard drives.
Police say they were alerted to the case when two young girls, now 5 and 8, came forward to detectives in December 2011 saying they had been sexually abused for years inside Sanchez’s apartment.
Later in the year Sanchez-Leon was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
And by October a Sultan woman, who was a former girlfriend of Sanchez-Leon was looking at a Nov. 19 sentencing date after pleading guilty to child sex abuse charges.
Caitlin Ferry, 23, pleaded in October to first-degree child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor after being arrested in January.
Detectives had discovered sexually explicit pictures of Ferry with a child in which both were nude during a search of her former boyfriend’s computers.
Ferry was arrested in January but had been released on bail until August. A condition of her release from the earlier arrest was that she was not to be around children.
She was taken into custody again after it was discovered she was working as a ride operator at Kiddie Land at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe.
BUSH HOUSE IN INDEX GETS A FACELIFT
The historic Bush House Inn & Restaurant in Index (built in 1898) was purchased in late December of 2011 for $100,000 by local Index residents from the estate of the previous owner Loyal M. Nordstrom (of the Nordstrom family of the department stores of the same name) and by late October of 2012 the old structure had been raised up on jacks to get rid of the old, original post-and-pier wood foundation and to allow the laying of a new concrete foundation.
The old hotel was set back down on its new foundation Friday afternoon October 26.
That new foundation is part of the rehab effort necessary to make the old building - which contains 11 hotel rooms, a river rock fireplace, a large dining room and a one time well equipped modern kitchen - come to life again.
The new owners plan to reopen the old hotel in some new incarnation of a commercial business venture. More on that here
By July of 2012 the city of Gold Bar was looking at the possibility of having to disincorporate due to less than half a dozen people in town causing the town to burn through $350,000 it could not afford to spend just responding to public records requests.
In the November general election Gold Bar residents voted no on a proposal to tax themselves a small amount to handle all the legal costs so the city was back to the drawing board in Nov.-Dec. to see if it could survive without additional revenue in 2013.
MAJOR MEDICAL NEWS IN MONROE
And big news in medical care for the Sky Valley came in December of 2012 when it was announced that Kirkland, Washington based EvergreenHealth and Valley General Hospital in Monroe had approved an agreement that makes Valley General Hospital an affiliate of EvergreenHealth.
The boards of each organization approved the agreement in a unanimous vote on Dec. 4.
News of the approval to the agreement follows an announcement in September when the two organizations announced their intent to form a new affiliation
The new co-venture is designed to give Snohomish County residents more choices and access to the many integrated services offered by the larger EvergreenHealth and its partners Virginia Mason Medical Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
On Jan. 2 of last year Mt. Rainier National Park was closed as hundreds of law officers from various agencies searched for a man they believe to be armed and who killed a ranger at the park New Year’s Day.
The person of interest they were looking for – a young Iraqi war vet with survival skills who may have gone there to hide out from a previous shooting in Seattle – had close to 370 square miles of alternately dense and rough terrain in which to elude what has become a massive manhunt.
The man authorities are searching for, as Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, was also described as a suspect in a shooting earlier in the day in Seattle’s Skyway (Rainier Beach) area.
A spokesman for Mount Rainier National Park said a car recovered at the scene of Anderson's shooting was registered to Barnes and inside officers said they found weapons, body armor and survival gear.
The Mt. Rainier Park ranger that was killed, 34-year-old Margaret Anderson was shot to death following a traffic stop inside the park.
Taking a cue from the Occupy Seattle demonstrations the previous fall that targeted both Chase bank and Bank of America, two well known Seattle area church groups staged a protest in downtown Seattle in mid January 2012 outside a Bank of America branch to announce they were moving their money to another financial institution because of what they called BOA’s sinful and greedy corporate practices.
On Jan. 19 Gov. Chris Gregoire issued an emergency proclamation after almost 300,000 people in the region were left without power due to the snow and ice storms. Among other things the proclamation directed state government to support emergency response activities in local jurisdictions affected by the winter storm and it allowed state agencies to make expenditures and utilize resources to assist local communities in their recovery efforts.
And a big regional story in February turned into a national news story; a horrific double murder and suicide perpetrated by Josh Powell, the young man who was the only person of interest ever publicly named by police in the 2009 disappearance of his wife in Utah.
Powell died along with his two young sons in a massive explosion and then fire at Powell’s rented home near Graham in Pierce County.
The blast rocked nearby homes and shocked neighbors. The story can be found here
BODY OF MURDERER AND SURVIVALIST FOUND IN NORTH BEND BUNKER
Peter Keller, 41, the man police believe went into hiding in an underground bunker to wait for the end of the world, saw his own world come to an end long before he may have envisioned it.
In late April King County Sheriff’s TAC 30 SWAT deputies used an explosive on a Saturday morning to breach the roof of the heavily fortified underground hideout in North Bend Keller had built.
Once inside deputies discovered Keller’s body. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It remains a strange story indeed and can be found here
And there are many more stories that made news in 2012 in the Sky Valley and Washington State but we simply don’t have the time to list them all.
TOP TEN WEIRD STORIES
Yes, someone has gone to the trouble to list the Top Ten Weird News Stories of 2012. Like (and this is not a joke) Tanning mom challenging Octomom to a boxing match. But it gets way weirder than that.
The horrific massacre of 26 children and staff at a Connecticut elementary school, along with other mass shootings, was the top news story of 2012, narrowly edging out the U.S. election, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.