What a year! My Edmonds News reviews 2011

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From the My Edmonds News archives, here’s a list of our top stories from 2011:

JANUARY

Attendees write messages of support for the Ullerich family. (Photo by Jonathan Assink)

About 300 students, parents, friends and co-workers of Madrona K-8 teacher GayLynne Ullerich lit candles and gathered on the Madrona K-8 playfield Sunday night to remember the vibrant life of the physical education teacher who died in a car crash as she and her family were headed to the mountains for a day of skiing.

No one was injured when a roof over a walkway collapsed outside Ranch 99 Market on Highway 99 in Edmonds. Firefighters responded to Ranch 99, located in the 22500 block of Highway 99, after dispatchers received reports of a problem from the building’s alarm company and employees at a neighboring espresso stand.

The Edmonds City Council voted 6-1 to adopt an interim zoning moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries until the Washington State Legislature addresses what some say are inadequate rules governing the possession and sale of the drug under the state’s medical marijuana law. The moratorium will expire in six months.

An attendee at te "Revisioning" meeting for the Westgate business area gets ready to post her idea for neighborhood improvement.

Idea for redesigning the commercial area in Edmonds’ Westgate neighborhood were generated by a group of nearly 30 citizens who attended a public “Listening Session” on “Revisioning Westgate,” sponsored by the City of Edmonds in conjunction with the Economic Development Commission and Planning Board.

The Edmonds Historical Museum appointed a new director, Tarin Erickson. A Pacific Northwest native, Erickson received  an undergraduate degree in Journalism-Public Relations from Western Washington University in 2003, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Art and Design from Savannah College in Savannah, Georgia. She has experience working in museums in both Savannah and Oklahoma City.

FEBRUARY

A group of about 75 representatives of South Snohomish and North King County municipalities — including mayors, city councilmembers, city managers and fire chiefs — packed the third floor of Edmonds City Hall to learn more about what it takes to form a Regional Fire Protection Service Authority.

An investigation into whether two Edmonds City Councilmembers harassed City of Edmonds Finance Director Lorenzo Hines concluded that such discrimination didn’t occur, but the report did acknowledge that the conduct of Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis and Michael Plunkett could be considered rude and uncivil.

The Edmonds Pharmacy was robbed five times in three months.

The Edmonds Pharmacy was robbed for the fifth time since late November 2010 but this time, police were able to arrest a suspect. Nearby Edmonds-Woodway High School was locked down as precaution following the robbery.

“Dear fellow students, my name is Pascal Cloutier, and I am here to tell you the truth. ”So began the speech of Edmonds-Woodway High School student Pascal Cloutier, candidate for Associated Student Body president, during a broadcast over the high school’s television station, WBN, in February. Problem was, the speech he gave wasn’t the same one that had been approved by school administrators. So the high school suspended him.

On Feb. 17, 1911, a new library opened in Edmonds on 118 5th Ave. N., funded through the foundation of self-made millionaire Andrew Carnegie. One hundred years later, the building is now on the National Register of Historic Buildings and serves as home to the Edmonds Historical Museum. The Edmond-South Snohomish County Historical Society commemorated the building’ 100th birthday with a ribbon cutting.

There’s a new city attorney in town. The Edmonds City Council voted 4-3 to award the City Attorney contract to the Lighthouse Law Group. That city ended its contract with Ogden Murphy Wallace – which has represented Edmonds since 1957 — and Attorney Scott Snyder, who has served as Edmonds’ City Attorney for the past 27 years.

MARCH

For the second straight year, the Edmonds-Woodway High School girls basketball team played in the state 4A basketball tournament, but were knocked out in a heartbreaking 53-52 loss to Bellarmine Prep.

Mayor Mike Cooper sent to the Edmonds City Council a proposed levy plan to go before voters in August. Cooper’s levy memo, entitled “Safe Neighborhoods, Safe Streets and Parks For Everyone,” proposed a 35-cents-per-thousand of assessed valuation general operations levy over a four-year period, that would be indexed with a 2.5 percent increase on an annual basis.

The town of Otsuchi after the tsunami. (Photos courtesy of the Sea Shepherd Society)

Edmonds resident Scott West of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was in northern Japan when the earthquake and resulting tsunami hit in March. West and other members of the Sea Shepherd Society spent the night on a hill, watching as the town was destroyed, then had to walk out by foot due to impassable roads.

Nearly 75 citizens, property owners, City of Edmonds staff and consultants spent four hours planning the future of two of Edmonds’ most prominent and well-traveled commercial centers — Westgate and Five Corners — and their surrounding neighborhoods. Participants in the city-sponsored design workshop — the second in a series of planning meetings for the two commercial sites — discussed the merits of everything from roundabouts to street-facing businesses to pocket parks to rain gardens.

APRIL

The Edmonds-based Miss Peters & May hydroplane.

Scott and Shannon Raney and JW Meyers chose Edmonds to be the headquarters for their unlimited hydroplane race team, Unlimited Racing Group. The team was renovating the boat at an Edmonds warehouse located near Highway 99 for the upcoming season.

A levy proposal appeared to be gaining support among Edmonds City Councilmembers. Mayor Mike Cooper in March proposed a $2.26 million levy, and the Council-appointed Citizens Levy Committee came up with its own recommendations that include multiple levies targeted at specific programs, including funding $1.5 million annually in street paving projects for three years.

Edmonds’ downtown Ace Hardware store in Old Milltown announced it was liquidating its inventory immediately and closing as of June 1. The owner of the franchise talked about the chain of events that caused the closure, spurred by the inability of the building to support the weight of a hardware store.

Edmonds City Councilmember Steve Bernheim said that he would not run for re-election to his council seat and would retire after one term.

After cutting public transit service 15 percent last summer, including the elimination of Sunday and holiday service, Community Transit will slash its service an additional 20 percent  in February 2012. The culprit is sluggish sales tax revenues in the Snohomish County, the transit agency said.

Citing an Edmonds City Council that doesn’t respect — or in many cases doesn’t listen to — their concerns about lack of funding for Edmonds street and sidewalk improvements, all five citizen members of the Edmonds Transportation Committee  resigned.

MAY

The sun — and the dignitaries — came out for the official groundbreaking of a Dick’s Drive-In in Edmonds. Seven lucky Dick’s fans also donned hard hats for the celebration, chosen from among the restaurant chain’s 154,000 Facebook fans based on their answer to why they should join founder Dick Spady during the ceremony.

Swedish/Edmonds announced that it has been designated among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News Media Group, publisher of U.S. News & World Report. The hospital is nationally ranked in the medical specialty of urology.

Reports of shots fired at Edmonds-Woodway High School brought a SWAT team and droves of media to the high school, but the call was later determined to be a hoax. Police surrounded the building and did a thorough search, but no suspects were found.

Former Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Earling announced his candidacy for Mayor of Edmonds, opposing incumbent Mike Cooper, who was appointed to the position in summer 2010.

Edmonds Citizen of Year Laura Spehar with Bonnie Mott, who nominated her for the award.

Edmonds volunteer extraordinaire Laura Spehar graciously accepted her award as the 2011 Citizen of the Year, an annual recognition sponsored by the Edmonds Kiwanis Club.

E-W, Meadowdale spring sports success: In tennis, the Edmonds-Woodway doubles team of Youngha and Younghan Kim placed fifth and Meadowdale singles player Alex Casper placed seventh at the state high school 4A and 3A tennis tournaments Saturday. In baseball, Edmonds-Woodway beat Puyallup but then lost to Bothell in State 4A baseball tournament action, while Meadowdale lost to Enumclaw in the first round of the 3A tourney.

JUNE

Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper announced that he was ordering an immediate hiring freeze to address the projected 2011 budget shortfall. Cooper said he made the decision based on the latest projections from the city’s interim finance director. “Conditions at the end of the first quarter, coupled with the recent report from the Edmonds Public Facilities District showing that we may spend up to a $300,000 over our budget this year, are cause for concern,” Cooper said.

Austin Jones

It must have been fate that Edmonds-Woodway High School first baseman Austin “Bubba” Jones was sitting in drafting class when he was drafted by the New York Yankees. The Warriors’ slugger — who batted .568 this year and helped propel E-W into the state baseball playoffs — was been drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round, number 239th overall. Jones signed with the team in July.

The Edmonds-based Hazel Miller Foundation awarded the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce a $25,000 grant to support Edmonds’ Fourth of July fireworks celebration, parade and other activities.

Chermak Construction was ranked 10th in Seattle Business Magazine’s latest ranking of 100 Best Companies to Work For. The Edmonds-based company was also named a finalist for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2011 Washington Best Workplaces.

Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper gathered with a group of stakeholders to sign ordinance 3842, “Complete Streets,” into law. The new ordinance will ensure that when the City of Edmonds plans for, designs and builds new transportation projects, it will provide appropriate accommodation for everyone, including pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users.

Following an outcry from two councilmembers and some citizens, the three-hour Edmonds City Council workshop scheduled to discuss ideas for a possible November levy has been moved from City Hall’s Brackett Room back to the Council Chambers, where it can be televised.

JULY

Breaking ground for the Edmonds Way Apartments.

City of Edmonds officials and representatives of Goodman Real Estate broke ground for the largest-ever mixed-use development in Edmonds. The Edmonds Way Apartments project planned for the northwest corner of 232nd Street Southwest and the Edmonds Way, will include 89 residential living units and over 3,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space. Two buildings with three and four levels will be built on the 1.8-acre site.

The committee working to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) for Downtown Edmonds announced that it had reached 50 percent of the signatures needed before the Edmonds City Council can create a BID. In meeting its June 30 goal, the BID committee chaired by David Arista of Arista Wine Cellars remains on target to present the required number of signatures to the City Council by January 2012.The streets of

Two girls dance to drummers practicing prior to the parade's start.

Edmonds turned red, white and blue as thousands gathered for the Fourth of July children’s parade and main parade.

The Edmonds City Council voted unanimously to proceed with designing a roundabout for the Five Corners intersection at 212th Street Southwest and 84th Avenue West. The council authorized the mayor to sign a consultant agreement to complete plans, specifications, environmental documentation, cost estimate, and right-of way-services.

About two dozen elected officials, city employees and Lake Ballinger-area neighbors turned out for the official construction groundbreaking for the Interurban Trail Project that will complete the missing Edmonds link of the 30-mile regional trail that runs from North Seattle to Everett. The $2.4 million project, which will extend from the intersection of Highway 104 and 76th Avenue West to 228th Street in Mountlake Terrace, is expected to be complete by early 2012.

Dignitaries gather for the Edmonds Station ribbon-cutting.

Calling it “just the kind of access that’s key for our community,” Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper and other dignitaries gathered to dedicate the new Edmonds Sound Transit rail station directly across from the Edmonds ferry terminal. Edmonds Sounder train riders had been using a temporary station located south of the Amtrak station while the new station was being built.

Edmonds police arrested three baristas and the owner of the Java Juggs espresso stand on Highway 99 on charges including prostitution and illegal exposure. Police launched an investigation into potential illegal activities at the espresso stand, located at the southwest corner of Highway 99 and 212th Street Southwest in Edmonds, after receiving numerous citizen complaints about baristas exposing themselves to customers. Edmonds police officers working in plain clothes and posing as customers obtained video evidence of several violations during the course of this investigation.

With a six-month interim moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries set to expire on July 28, the Edmonds City Council revisited the future of dispensaries in Edmonds. But in the end, councilmembers seemed to agree with a conclusion by the City Attorney and police chief: As long as the federal government considers the dispensaries illegal, there is no reason to take any action on the moratorium, so they let it expire.

AUGUST

The founder of the Louis Braille School on Edmonds Way, which served children with visual impairments, confirmed that the school has closed after five years in Edmonds due to lack of funding.

Edmonds City Councilmember Strom Peterson and Lynnwood Honda's Mike Popke talk over their Taste of Edmonds vote.

Judges in the annual Taste of Edmonds Taste-Off chose the Shrimp and Scallop Crepe by Crepealicious as the winning main dish. The winning side dish was fire roasted sweet corn from Corn Roasters while the judges’ favorite dessert was salted caramel cashew sundae, courtesy of Peaks Frozen Custard.

The Edmonds City Council approved three separate levy propositions for the Nov. 8 general election ballot: $1 million for city services, $1 million for street pavement overlays and $500,000 to fund building maintenance and park improvements. All three levies would cover the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 and would expire after three years.

Edmonds mayoral candidate Dave Earling mounted a solid lead over incumbent Mayor Mike Cooper in the primary election, receiving 3,611 votes, or 54 percent to Cooper’s 2,594, or 38 percent. In the race for City Council Position 4, challenger Bob Wilcox was edging incumbent Diane Buckshnis, receiving 3,020 votes, or 46 percent, to Buckshnis’ 2,879 or 44 percent.

SEPTEMBER

Breaking ground on the Old Milltown Plaza.

Citizens and elected officials gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Old Milltown Plaza at 5th Avenue South and Maple Street. The City of Edmonds purchased the site in 2008 with the intent of preserving the central downtown open space for community use.

A 34-year-old Edmonds resident was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release for possession of heroin with intent to distribute. A citizen of Ecuador, Hugo Acosta-Loja will likely be deported following his prison term.  He was arrested Nov. 19, 2010 outside his Edmonds home with more than 30 pounds of heroin and $141,000 in cash in the open trunk of his car.

Mayor Mike Cooper confirmed that he fired Human Resources Director Debi Humann, stating that “I no longer had confidence in her ability to do the job and to work effectively with me.” Rumors started appearing on Facebook Thursday morning that Humann had been fired.

Mike Cooper’s former executive assistant resigned Sept. 22 and her attorney released a statement on Cole’s behalf, stating she faced a “hostile work environment created by certain employees in the City of Edmonds.

Richmond Beach Drive looking north to Point Wells. (Photo courtesy Shoreline Area News)

The Town of Woodway and the non-profit community group Save Richmond Beach announced that they filed a lawsuit against Snohomish County and Point Wells developer Blue Square Real Estate (BSRE). The lawsuit seeks to prohibit Snohomish County from continuing to process the developer’s application for a mixed-use development at Point Wells.

The consultant hired by the City of Edmonds to oversee development of a city strategic plan officially launched the process during an evening retreat, explaining his approach to members of the Edmonds City Council, Planning Board and Economic Development Commission — along with a few dozen citizens — gathered in the Council Chambers.

The Edmonds City Council voted 6-1 to begin an investigation into whether former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson violated city policy when he approved $725,000 in change orders for construction at Haines Wharf Park.

OCTOBER

A plan to run up to nine coal trains daily through Edmonds — on their way to Bellingham for shipment to China — drew about 120 people to a meeting room at Edmonds Community College for a spirited discussion on the health, environmental and economic impacts of such a project — and possible ways to stop it.

Burgers and fries fly out the window on opening day. (Photo by Char Blankenship)

Burger mania hit Edmonds as the Dick’s Drive-In officially opened in the TOP Food parking lot. Dick Spady — the 88-year-old company president and namesake — officially cut the ribbon to the whoops of those crowded around.

The Edmonds City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution voiding two “purported separation agreements” that Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper entered into with his former executive assistant, Kim Cole, stating that the mayor had no authority to enter into such agreements.

In a shining moment for Edmonds environmental advocates, the ribbon was cut for Western Washington’s first community-owned solar cooperative, which launched a 4.2-kilowatt solar-powered system on the roof of the City of Edmonds-owned Frances Anderson Community Center.

Mayor Mike Cooper announced that the City of Edmonds was hiring an outside investigator to conduct a probe into allegations by his executive assistant, Kim Cole, that she was harassed in the workplace.

Despite Councilmember Steve Bernheim’s claims that former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson ”bullied and intimidated” Edmonds City Councilmembers, didn’t answer Councilmembers’ questions about city finances and wasn’t transparent about cost overruns at Haines Wharf Park, the Council decided not to take any action against the former mayor.

NOVEMBER

More than one political candidate has accused the Edmonds City Council and mayor in recent weeks of engaging in too much drama, and the City Council didn’t disappoint when it voted following a lengthy executive session to censure Councilmember DJ Wilson for his role in trying to arrange a settlement for Mayor Mike Cooper’s executive assistant, Kim Cole. Wilson, meanwhile, offered his own take on the Council vote, stating “they put bad politics over good government.”

Kim Cole

The woman at the center of a firestorm over Mayor Mike Cooper’s firing of City of Edmonds Human Resources Director Debi Humannsays she knew that going public with her allegations of a “hostile work environment” might hurt Cooper’s re-election chances, but that she could no longer tolerate the harassment she was experiencing on the job.

Former Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Earling decisively defeated appointed Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper in November’s general election. Three of the City Council races were initially too close to call, but eventually incumbents Lora Petso and Diane Buckshnis edged their respective challengers, Darlene Stern and Bob Wilcox, while challenger Joan Bloom widened her small early lead to defeat first-term Councilmember DJ Wilson. In the fourth council race, for an open seat vacated by Steve Bernheim, Frank Yamamoto easily outpolled challenger Alvin Rutledge.

In the general election for Edmonds School Board, Diana White defeated Mark Dillan in the race for the open Position 5 seat. Voters also chose Korey DeMun (running unopposed) to fill the Position 1 board seat vacated by Susan Paine, and also returned incumbent Gary Noble for his third term at Position 5.

The Edmonds City Council approved a 2012 budget of just under $33 million, and in the process slashed a $165,000 contingency fund and the $110,000 Human Resources Director position left vacant when Mayor Mike Cooper fired HR Director Debi Humann in September

Judge Joseph A. Thibodeau issues the oath of office to incoming Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling.

Newly-elected Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis and Lora Petso were sworn in to their respective positions Nov. 29 — a day after the election results were certified — because each of their positions had been filled with people who had been appointed rather than elected. The other two new City Councilmembers — Frank Yamamoto and Joan Bloom — will take office in January.

A day after he was sworn in as Edmonds’ new mayor, Dave Earling announced that he terminated the employment of ex-Mayor Mike Cooper’s executive assistant, Kim Cole, who had been on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into a claim she made in regards to a hostile work environment.

Edmonds Community Services and Economic Development Director Stephan Clifton noted in a November email that “Edmonds is on a roll” when it comes to economic development. Clifton cited a new Subway operating at Westgate, a building foundation and site work permit for a new Swedish Oncology Center, the opening of Red Petal Cakes at 321 Main St. in Marc 2012, a Certificate of Occupancy for Jack Murphys Pub (which opened in December)The Rusty Pelican restaurant, scheduled to open in the former Olives restaurant space in January; a formal building permit for Premier Ortho (Kruger Clinic), the location of Averetek, an integrated technology and applications development company, next to Opus Bank on 5th Avenue South and Walnut  Street; and plans by Foundation for International Services to open in February 2012.

Meadowdale's only loss, to Camas, knocked them out of the state football semifinals. (Photo by Char Blankenship)

It was quite a fall for Meadowdale High School sports teams. The Mavs’ undefeated football season came to an end when they lost to Camas 40-0 in the 3A state football semifinals in Camas. Meadowdale finished with an 11-1 record. The Mavericks’ girls’ soccer team, meanwhile, lost 1-0 to Eastside Catholic in the state 3A consolation match for third and fourth place. The girls came away with a fourth-place medal and a 18-5 overall record. And Meadowdale earned its first-ever state volleyball trophy with a seventh-place finish in the 3A state tournament in Lacey, sweeping Timberline 25-12, 26-24 and 25-19. Finally, MHS swimmer Anna Keane won state titles  at the 3A swimming and diving championships in Federal Way Saturday. Keane finished the 50 free in 23.5 seconds and the 100 free in 50.62.

DECEMBER

Community members and elected officials joined firefighters and other first responders at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park in downtown Edmonds to view a steel beam recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center. The 2,018-pound, 8-foot-long steel beam will become the centerpiece of a Fallen Firefighter memorial to be built at the park, which is located adjacent to Fire Station 17 on 6th Avenue North.

Ribbon cutting for Shell Valley access road.

City of Edmonds officials cut the ribbon for the Shell Valley Emergency Access road, aimed at giving those living in the Shell Valley neighborhood a safer way to get home during during icy and snowy weather. The primary route into the neighborhood, Pioneer Way, is a very steep and winding road, which can become hazardous during icy weather.

Community solar activist Carlo Voli spent a weekend on the rooftop of the Fabric of Life building at 523 Main St.  to raise awareness of solar power’s benefits and grow membership in the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative — and expand the solar-powered system now installed on the Frances Anderson Center rooftop.

Mayor Dave Earling reinstated fired City of Edmonds Human Resources Director Debi Humann, although she will be laid off at year’s end because the City Council decided recently to eliminate the HR Director position in a cost-cutting move.

The Sound Transit Board of Directors took a major step toward expanding mass transit to Snohomish County, unanimously directing staff to move ahead with environmental studies to identify a light rail route along the Interstate 5 corridor. Sound Transit will now examine routing and station details between Northgate and Lynnwood.

An artist's rendering of the proposed roundabout at Five Corners.

With 23 people appearing in person to testify and close to a hundred more submitting opinions via emails and letter, the Edmonds City Council received a good cross section of opinions on the proposed Five Corners roundabout at 212th Street Southwest and 84th Avenue West. In the end, councilmembers voted 5-2 to continue the design process for the project.

Walgreens has applied for a permit to build a new store on Edmonds Way and 100th Avenue West, on the property that is currently home to Edmonds bowling alley Robin Hood Lanes. If the city approves the permit, it would mean the demise of the neighborhood gathering place that has stood in Edmonds since 1960.

Bellevue-based Rosen-Harbottle Commercial Real Estate has purchased the Old Milltown property at 201 5th Ave. S. and plans to invest a significant amount of money into sprucing up the building to attract new tenants.

A yacht burned in the Edmonds Marina Fire. (Photo by Ron Wambolt)

Damage from an early New Year’s Eve morning fire at the Edmonds Marina involving two 50-foot motor yachts and the nearby dock is expected to total more than $600,000, and fire investigators now are working to determine how the fire started.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Modestly missing among the listing of the major stories or happening in Edmonds in 2011 is the emergence of a superb new source of local news that has filled a large and long existing gap in our city’s daily news, MYEDMONDSNEWS,COM !!

    Moreover this new source of news has also provided citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions and debate the issues.

    Thank you Teresa and staff!

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