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A look back at the top stories of 2013 in Covington, Black Diamond and Maple Valley
BY KRIS HILL and KATHERINE SMITH
As this is the last issue of the Covington-Maple Valley-Black Diamond Reporter for 2013, it seems appropriate to reflect on the biggest stories of the year, the ones which generated the most comments on the website, the most views, the most shares on Facebook, the most letters to the editor and the most conversation in the office. They are presented in no particular order. All these stories have a ripple effect on the community in some way, whether about an issue, an election or an individual. With that, we ring out 2013 and greet the new year of 2014.
The Maple Valley City Council and the King County Council independently gave unanimous approval to an interlocal agreement between the county and the city allowing the city to annex the county-owned Donut Hole property on Sept. 9.
The Donut Hole is 154 acres of unincorporated land within the urban growth boundary off Kent-Kangley Road Southeast and Southeast 228th Street that is entirely surrounded by the city of Maple Valley and home to nine holes of Elk Run Golf Course, a stand of trees and the county’s 13-acre roads maintenance facility.
Earlier this year Gov. Inslee signed Senate Bill 5417 into law which amended the requirements a piece of property must meet before a city can initiate the annexation process, thus allowing Maple Valley to annex the Donut Hole.
The city plans to rezone the property, which is currently zoned for residential development, as part of the 2014 comprehensive plan update. Additionally, the Tahoma School District is in the process of purchasing 35 acres of the site which will become the home of the new Tahoma High School.
The interlocal agreement will allow for the transition of the Maple Valley proposed annexation area to city control and enable the continued operation of the roads maintenance facility owned by the King County Department of Transportation that is located on the property until the county is able to relocate the facility.
COVINGTON’S SALE TAX MEASURE FAILS
Covington officials sought a way to generate cash to infuse its street funds and put a sales tax increase on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. It failed by 39 votes.
A transportation benefit district was formed, and the Covington City Council operates as its board. The City Council approved putting the matter to voters because it doesn’t have enough money to fix streets and would like to add another officer to its police force. If the trend continues, the city will spend its reserves for road projects in four years.
The TBD would have created enough revenue through a sales tax increase of 0.2 percent — from 8.6 percent to 8.8 percent — to fill the coffers of its street fund and could generate as much as $750,000 a year.
As of late July, the street fund is expected to be short $56,000 this year. City Manager Derek Matheson explained to the Covington Rotary July 26 that the recession, higher gas prices, inflation and statewide ballot measures reduced the cash flow into the city’s street fund.
Given the failure of the proposition, Covington officials will consider their options in January.
TAHOMA SCHOOL BOND PASSES
The Tahoma School District $195 million construction bond received overwhelming approval with nearly 70 percent approval in the November general election.
The bond includes money for a new comprehensive Tahoma High School to house the district’s students in grades 9 through 12 to be located on 35 acres in the Donut Hole in Maple Valley. The bond also includes what are referred to as warm, safe, and dry projects as well as funding for work related to realigning the district’s existing schools for different grade levels.
The plans for district realignment call for Glacier Park and Rock Creek to remain elementary schools. Lake Wilderness, which is currently the largest elementary school in the state, will also remain an elementary school but the older portion of the school will be torn down and the school will become about half its current size. Shadow Lake will also remain an elementary school but will only house half the elementary grades, with the other half housed at Cedar River as a companion school. Tahoma Middle School is slated to become an elementary school and Tahoma Junior High and the current Tahoma High School building will both be turned into middle schools.
The last time that a construction bond was passed in the district was in 1997 for $45 million, which paid for the remodeling of the current Tahoma High School among other projects. Tahoma’s last bond measure in April 2011 garnered just under 53 percent of voter approval.
KENTWOOD PRINCIPAL LEAVES AFTER 14 YEARS
Doug Hostetter spent nearly half his career working at Kentwood High before leaving at the end of June to take on a new position as director of high schools for the Tacoma School District.
Hostetter earned his doctorate in the spring from Seton Hall University. This after he initially set his sights on medical school before he went to Pacific Lutheran University. A coaching job during summer break helped him make the connection between his ability to work with the kids that his mother always saw in him.
“Not to sound old, but I’ve got a lot of good years left in me,” Hostetter told the Reporter in May. “I’m ready for a new challenge.”
Hostetter said he will be focused in Tacoma on figuring out how to help students achieve the new standards and on closing the achievement gap, a problem for which he feels his time at Kentwood will be particularly helpful.
“How can I replicate what we’ve done here at Kentwood across the Tacoma School District,” Hostetter said.
FROM TOMMYJOHN SURGERY TO STATE CHAMP
Denham Patricelli, a senior at Tahoma High, lost a year of sports after shredding his elbow in the spring of his sophomore year throwing the javelin.
Patricelli made the choice to undergo Tommy John surgery. A standout football player, Patricelli missed his junior season on the gridiron, but when the spring of 2013 rolled around he began working to get back to throwing and football.
When it came time to make his final throw at the 4A state track and field championships in May, Patricelli knew he could hit his goal with the right throw even though he hurled the javelin far enough on his third try to win the crown.
He also had something to prove to himself.
“I was feeling it, I wanted to throw 200 (feet), that was my goal and the very next throw I threw 205 and that was my (personal record) and that was the throw I won state on,” Patricelli said.
It was also a good 25 feet farther than the boy who took second place.
Patricelli is a self-described football fanatic with talent to match. He started on offense and defense as a sophomore, something Tahoma head coach Tony Davis explained in an email interview over the summer is virtually unheard of in the 19 years he’s coached there.
“He is an outstanding receiver and linebacker,” Davis wrote. “Very instinctive player. He missed all of last season due to the elbow surgery and his return will have a big impact on our team.”
Indeed it did. In an early season game in September against Bethel, Patricelli hauled in three receptions for touchdowns — in the first quarter. He helped the Bears to the playoffs.
Even over the summer break, Patricelli knew his best shot at getting a scholarship in college was on the strength of his right arm and how far he could throw a javelin.
“For javelin I set my standards pretty high,” Patricelli told the Reporter in July. “Right now going into next year … I want to repeat as state champ and go for the state record and also the national record because they’re pretty close.”
Patricelli loves the competition and it would come as no surprise that even if he didn’t need to throw the javelin more than 227 feet, 11 inches — the current state record — to win his second straight 4A title, he probably would if he believed he could do it.
He could be an even bigger story in 2014.
COVINGTON COMMUNITY PARK OPENS
In June when Covington officials celebrated opening the first phase of the park — the soccer field, a parking lot and trail system to name a few features — marked a significant milestone for Covington.
Covington Community Park is located at 180th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 240th Street.
Phase one is vital because it fills a critical need which is one of the highest priorities for residents according to research the city has done in preparing its Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Plan. Scott Thomas, the city’s parks and recreation director, told the Reporter in December 2012 there is a significant need to provide a place for children to play sports.
The site is about 30 acres and is a collection of four parcels purchased by the city in 2003 and then brought into King County’s urban growth boundary in 2004. It was annexed into the city in 2008. It is a short walk from Tahoma High School.
Construction had a $1.6 million price tag while the total project cost comes in at $2.26 million.
“It took us 10 years to build to this point,” said Mayor Margaret Harto during the ribbon cutting in June.
City officials hope it won’t take 10 years to get the second phase complete but an allocation of funding from the state Legislature during this year’s session gives Covington a head start on the process.
MAPLE VALLEY WOMAN KILLED IN LAS VEGAS CRASH
Sandi Sutton, a resident of Maple Valley, was one of the victims of a car crash in the early morning hours of Feb. 21 on Las Vegas Boulevard, the city’s center of gaming known as The Strip.
Sutton was a passenger in a taxi cab that was struck by a Maserati at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard. The driver of Maserati lost control of the vehicle after allegedly being shot by the driver of a black Range Rover after an altercation between the two drivers in a nearby parking lot. The driver of the taxi and the driver of the Maserati also died. The driver of the Range Rover was later located and arrested near Los Angeles and was sent to jail in Nevada where he is awaiting trial in 2014 on charges related to the shooting and crash.
Sutton grew up in Maple Valley and graduated from Tahoma High School in 1982. Sutton was also a local business owner, and an active member of the Greater Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce and the Maple Valley Rotary. Together she and her husband owned All Service Plumbing and she was also co-owner of The Dazzled Dame with Leih Mulvihill. She is survived by her husband, James Wasmund, and their three children, Austin, Sarah, and Hunter.
KENTLAKE LEADS THE WAY IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Renton Technical College and Kentlake High forged a partnership in the spring to fulfill an innovative education vision.
Through the partnership, Kentlake students could earn a two-year associate’s degree in pre-nursing alongside a high school diploma.
The program, called Kentlake Medical Career Pathways, will align Kentlake’s curriculum with requirements at Renton Tech for students in the program, allowing a direct transfer of credits to Renton Tech or the possibility of transferring to another college or university explained Kentlake Principal Joe Potts in February.
“Renton has a distinct focus on healthcare and healthcare related fields,” Potts said of the reason Kentlake decided to partner with Renton Tech. “The president of Renton Tech was really interested in promoting this partnership, he’s been at the table with his sleeves rolled up from the beginning.”
Both organizations got the stamp of approval from their respective boards of directors in March during a special meeting at Kentlake.
Steve Hansen, the president of RTC, sees the program as a chance to seamlessly blend high school and college and give students hands-on experiences that lead to career options.
“What we really value in the education we do is it’s hands-on learning,” Hansen said during the meeting in March.
Some of that hands-on learning will also come through a partnership with MultiCare in Covington where some of the classes will be held.
The program also fits with the city of Covington’s vision for becoming a hub for healthcare in south King County.
Covington Mayor Margaret Harto said in March the program is the first step in changing how Covington looks at the potential of youth and giving youth opportunities for jobs at home.
“It’s unimaginable, even beyond healthcare,” Harto said. “Now we have the first of those things that will bring them back to Covington.”
Classes began in September and the 1900 building at Kentlake bears a Renton Technical College sign.
MAPLE VALLEY RESIDENT SHOOTS, KILLS MAN
A man was killed and a woman was critically injured early on the morning of April 5 by a property owner in Maple Valley.
The incident happened in the 23200 block of 212th Avenue Southeast.
A property owner called 911 just before 4 a.m., King County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sergeant Cindi West said, and reported hearing people and noise on his property. Then the line went dead and the man called back a few minutes later and said he shot two people.
Police responded to the scene where the man was declared dead and the woman was airlifted to Harborview.
LANDSLIDE VICTORIES IN BLACK DIAMOND ELECTIONS
In the November general election Dave Gordon won the Black Diamond mayoral race with 68.55 percent of the vote defeating incumbent mayor Rebecca Olness. His platform was based on opposition to the YarrowBay development.
The two YarrowBay master planned developments call for over an additional 6,000 homes to the community of about 5,000 people and have been contentious issues in the city since 2009, galvanizing a political movement that placed Gordon in the mayor’s seat and a trio of candidates on City Council as a result of the election.
Erika Morgan, Carol Benson and Janie Edelman won the three City Council elections, all soundly defeating their opponents.