2018 Edmonds year in review, part 2

By Brian Soergel | Jan 05, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel An Edmonds Kind of Fourth was sponsored by the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce.


Hundreds join ‘Families Belong Together’ protest

More than 600 people gathered in Edmonds Saturday to protest President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy – which included separating children from undocumented migrant families – joining thousands more across in the country in rallies timed to start at 11 a.m. local time.

Young, old and in-between, they stood on all four corners of the busy intersection of 100th Avenue West and Edmonds Way, also the site of a rally Jan. 29, 2017, protesting Trump’s executive order halting refugees from entering the United States as well as detaining incoming refugees.

2 prison inmates get EdCC scholarships

Over three days, more than 300 Edmonds Community College students celebrated earning GEDs, certificates, and associate’s degrees at Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) in Monroe through the College in Prisons program.

Among the caps and gowns and cupcakes in the dining hall of MCC’s Minimum Security Unit (MSU) were two inmates who sat in the back and cheered for their fellow inmates’ academic achievements.

Ryan Cughan and Duane Nelson are the first incarcerated Foundation scholarship recipients. Cughan was awarded the Hernandez-Foy Second Chance Endowed Scholarship for $1,000, and Nelson received a Foundation scholarship for $1,500.

Edmonds asbestos-removal company fined

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited an Edmonds-based asbestos removal contractor for improper handling of asbestos, which the agency says was “willful.”

L&I has cited Above & Beyond Asbestos Removal, which lists its address as a home in the 1000 block of Daley Street and is a veteran-owned business, in connection with two separate inspections.


57 overdoses over 7 days in Snohomish County

More than 50 overdoses in one week. Twelve in one day.

The Snohomish Health District – in partnership with the Snohomish County Opioid Response Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group – recently completed a second seven-day point-in-time data collection for opioid overdoses from July 9-15.

The report is disheartening: 57 overdoses in one week, two being fatal. The 57 overdoses are up from last year’s inaugural count in July of 37, when there were three deaths.

Planned nine tenant apartments have zero off-street parking

Plans for a new apartment complex on the corner of Edmonds Street and Third Avenue North has left city planners perplexed and neighbors dismayed.

Under current plans, the site, which was formerly a private parking lot, will be turned into a three-story, nine tenant apartment building with zero off-street parking.

While the site will provide a bike rack and a nearby bus stop, all vehicle parking will be on the streets surrounding the complex. Neighbors are less than pleased by what will certainly result in an increase of cars in front of their properties.

New Edmonds CC president has broad vision

Edmonds Community College’s new president has a vision for the college: Make it the school of choice for the Puget Sound region.

“It’s a broad vision,” said Amit Singh, Edmonds CC’s fifth president. Singh, who succeeds Jean Hernandez, who retired, said he thinks the college and the region are positioned – geographically and economically – to serve the needs of students, the community, and local industry.

Au revoir, Café de Paris

On a recent morning at Café de Paris, chef Firmin Berclaz stirred pots and prepared meats for another round of fine French fare: beef bourguignon, filet of fresh wild salmon, halibut meunière, broiled rib eye steak and, of course, French onion soup.

It was the beginning of a quintessential day in a life of the celebrated chef, but one that is quickly winding down.

Berclaz, who is 73, recently announced that he is retiring, selling his business of 35 years to Michael Chambers and Jennifer Myatt. They plan to open a Caribbean-inspired restaurant called Calypso.

Civic leader Dean Echelbarger dies at 95

Edmonds civic and business leader Dean Echelbarger, who was given the Cornerstone Award from Edmonds Community in 2014 for his support of the college and its foundation – of which he was a founding member – died Aug. 14. He was 95.

Echelbarger was a south Snohomish County native whose many projects included restoring the historic Beeson Building in downtown Edmonds in 1967.

Edmonds sets standard with school salaries

With an infusion of funds from the McCleary school-funding decision, public school teachers’ unions across the state have rallied their bases and hit the bargaining tables with their respective school districts in an all-out attempt to increase teacher salaries.

Many have mentioned the Edmonds School District as the gold standard.

Starting pay for first-year teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience is $62,688. Top pay for teachers with a master’s degree and at least 14 years of experience and 90 additional credits will cap at $114,272.


Former Beacon Editor Al Hooper dies

Al Hooper, a journalist who lived and breathed the written word and kept readers informed as an Edmonds Beacon editor and writer, died Sunday, Sept. 30. He was 88.

“Al was a great mentor,” Beacon Publisher Paul Archipley said. “When I bought the Edmonds Beacon in 1998, he was the best part of the deal. I’m grateful I could call him my friend.”

Longtime readers will remember Hooper for his popular “City Lights” column, which he continued to write after retiring as Beacon editor in December 2008.

2 Chamber of Commerce managers resign

The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce – which serves to promote and support the economic vitality of the city – lost two-thirds of its paid staff last week with the resignations of Development and Community Engagement Manager Jan Nicholas and Operations and Finance Manager Stephanie Johnstone.

“I cannot thank the Edmonds community enough for welcoming me into their town,” Nicholas said. “I was sad to leave my position, but it was time to leave the organization while the chamber works through some challenges. I wish the chamber nothing but the best going forward."

The departures continue a pattern of instability at the chamber.

School District, Olympic View come to agreement

The Edmonds School District and the Olympic View Water and Sewer District say they have reached a compromise after a lengthy and often contentious disagreement on water service for the new Madrona K-8 school in Edmonds.

Olympic View has said it’s concerned that hooking up to the school’s drainage system would pollute its aquifer, the underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or other materials that groundwater can be extracted from through water wells.

Audit: Public Facilities District should be self-sustaining

In its most recent audit of the City of Edmonds’ Public Facilities District, which operates the nonprofit Edmonds Center for the Arts, the State Auditor’s Office reported that the district has received recommendations on its financial sustainability in eight of it past nine audits.

The most recent, in July and accounting for 2017, found that the PFD board has taken steps to increase its operating revenues, but its operating margin continues a steep declining trend, from $4.4 million in 2014 to $2.9 million in 2017.

2 law firms offer free services in legal fight over guns

The City of Edmonds will be getting some free legal services in its battle against the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, which last month sued the City, alleging, among other things, that the City’s newly adopted gun-control law, Ordinance 4120, violates the state's 35-year-old preemption statute.

The City intends to vigorously defend the ordinance, City Attorney Jeff Taraday said.

Bank of Washington sold to credit union

Lynnwood-based Bank of Washington, which started life more than 20 years ago as the Bank of Edmonds, has reached an agreement to be acquired by Sound Credit Union.

This will make Sound the first credit union in Washington state, and 23rd in the nation, to acquire a bank. The acquisition of a bank by a credit union is the first of its kind in Washington history. It also could mean that the new financial institution could be the first in Edmonds to tap into the lucrative marijuana market.

Banks under the charter of the federal government are not allowed to take in accounts for marijuana businesses.

Edmonds Rotary suspends Waterfront Festival

The Rotary Club of Edmonds, which puts on the annual Edmonds Waterfront Festival by the marina, is suspending the money-losing event in 2019. Now the club is uncertain about whether it wants it to continue.

“This is a difficult decision, after running the Waterfront Festival the past 31 years,” Edmonds Rotary President David Kaufer said. “So we agreed to look at the event in its current format and structure and determine if we can, or want to, bring it back in 2020 in a more viable format, or if it should be scrapped completely in favor of other more successful fundraising efforts within the community – which may begin with a trial event or events in 2019.”


Mayor’s 2019 budget includes parking study

For the third year in a row, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s 2019 proposed budget presentation pointed to an economy that continues to hum. But, as usual, Earling threw in a boilerplate mention of the dreaded “bump in the road” that is sure to come.

“We in Edmonds have also been obvious beneficiaries of the strong economy,” Earling said Tuesday in a prepared speech at the City Council meeting. “Whether downtown, in Westgate or along Highway 99, we have witnessed a sustained and growing energy in our community these past several years. Younger families moving in, strong sales tax revenues, new construction projects, and a growing and exciting business community.”

Police travel to North Bend to arrest molestation suspect

The search for a man suspected of molesting a 10-year-old girl at 99 Ranch Market in Edmonds had police poring over more than 80 tips from the public, two of which eventually led to a manufactured-home community in the shadow of Mount Si in North Bend.

It was there, on Oct. 3, that detectives and the Street Crimes Unit of the Edmonds Police Department arrested 50-year-old Jeffrey Allen Cook, convicted of child molestation in 1998 and communication with a minor for immoral purposes in 2017.

On Monday, Oct. 8, Cook was charged with one count of first-degree child molestation in Snohomish County District Court. Bail was previously set at $500,000.

Beacon publisher wins top honor

Paul Archipley, owner of Beacon Publishing, picked up the top award at the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s 131st Better Newspaper Contest. In addition, three Beacon staffers won a total of eight awards.

Archipley was honored with the Miles Turnbull Editor Publisher Award, the convention’s highest honor for editors and publishers.

Edmonds Beacon Editor Brian Soergel picked up two first-place honors in the competition, while

Mukilteo Beacon Editor Brandon Gustafson and Sports Editor David Pan picked up one first-place award apiece.

Draft Housing Strategy paused; reboot is promised

Housing is seemingly all anyone wants to talk about these days. The high cost of it. The lack of it. The building of it. And the loudest voices rise from established residents who don’t like the direction the city is taking, throwing out ominous references to dreaded Ballard and Kirkland.

Estimates call for about 5,500 more people by 2035, which is why in 2017 Mayor Dave Earling appointed a Housing Strategy Task Force comprised of nine local housing developers, policy experts, and civic leaders representing the public, nonprofit, and for-profit areas.

To say the draft plan has not gone over well with many, of course, is an understatement. And their voices are becoming louder and louder.


Chase’s senate run is coming to an end

Edmonds resident Maralyn Chase’s eight years as a state senator has soundly come to an end in the 32nd District, which serves the southern portion of Edmonds, as she lost in the general election to fellow Democrat and Shoreline Deputy Mayor Jesse Salomon.

Another Edmonds resident, Strom Peterson, handily won his bid for a third term at state representative, position 1, in the 21st District.

Other winners were 21st District, Democrat incumbent Marko Liias and Lillian Ortiz-Self; 32nd District winners were Cindy Ryu and Lauren Davis.

Marsh: Grassroots group sees chance to further protect natural habitat

The Edmonds Marsh – a 22.5-acre wildlife sanctuary and home to hundreds of species of permanent and migratory birds – is an important natural habitat that city leaders and vocal proponents agree needs protection.

In other words, pretty much leave it alone.

But what about the 22 acres south of the marsh, the old Unocal tank farm property which the Washington State Department of Transportation officially plans to purchase early next year?

After reading through the Washington State Ferries’ latest newly released 2040 draft long-range plan, the local grassroots group Save Our Marsh saw an opening.

In particular, members determined that, for the first time in years, the draft report did not mention Edmonds Crossing.

Senior Center volunteers depart, as thrift store plans move to Westgate

On a recent Saturday, Ray Ferguson and Virginia Waldroup worked on lunch in an Edmonds Senior Center conference room. An incoming ferry in light chop was their picture-perfect view out the window.

It’s a view the two have seen many times during more than 28 years of sorting donations and ringing up sales at the senior center’s cozy thrift store.

But this day was their last, a bittersweet moment in time as the 91-year-old Waldroup and 87-year-old Ferguson worked through their last day at the cramped store. They had decided it was finally time to retire.

And the thrift store has already found a new, temporary home in Westgate, at the QFC shopping center at 100th Avenue West and Edmonds Way. It will occupy a space formerly held by a Hallmark store, senior center Executive Director Farrell Fleming said.

The store opens Jan. 19.

A new man; Jess Cienfuegos is ready to tell his story

When Jess Cienfuegos grabs a chair at Red Twig Bakery in Edmonds, the challenge is not to stare.

The 26-year-old’s beard is trim and neat; a light moustache is visible above his lip. A white shirt strains to hold in his barreled chest. His biceps bulge, and his left arm is muscular with tattoos.

Jess’ smile is welcoming. He’s outgoing and friendly during an hour-long interview. He seems happy and content. He fields questions thoughtfully. Honestly. He wants people to hear his story.

His coming-out story. Three years ago, Jess Cienfuegos was Jessica Cienfuegos.

Edmonds whale-watching group opposes proposed restrictions

A task force arranged by Gov. Jay Inslee in March has recommended a partial ban on whale-watching tours in an attempt to save Washington state’s endangered southern resident killer whales from extinction. The task force wants to suspend whale-watching boat tours focused on southern residents for three to five years.

That recommendation is misguided, said Puget Sound Express, a whale-watching operation with departures from Edmonds and Port Townsend.

City moves to include public on housing strategy

After hearing from irate citizens about the lack of transparency and public input on its draft housing strategy, the City now appears to be doing all it can to involve residents.

On Tuesday, City Councilmembers Neil Tibbott and Diane Buckshnis presented a proposal for creating a Citizens Housing Commission, which would provide advice to Mayor Dave Earling and the City’s seven councilmembers.

No property tax increase

Despite costing the average homeowner in Edmonds just 62 cents a month – and with home prices decreasing in Puget Sound – a proposal to raise property taxes in Edmonds by 1 percent was defeated by the City Council this week.

Chalk it up to tax fatigue.

That decision was just one of several voted up or down during a back-and-forth between City staff and councilmembers as they continue to iron out the 2019 budget.


Stolen handgun will not test Edmonds’ safe-storage ordinance

The shooting death of 17-year-old Gala Zuehlke in Edmonds from a gun that was allegedly stolen will not test the city’s gun-safety ordinance.

In July, the Edmonds City Council overwhelmingly approved an ordinance governing the safe storage of firearms, which does not go into effect until March 21.

Introduced by Council President Mike Nelson, the ordinance requires gun owners to lock up their guns when they aren’t in use. Failure to do so could result in a fine between $500 and $1,000.

In addition, should a prohibited or at-risk person or minor obtain an unsecured firearm and use it to commit a crime, the gun owner could be fined up to $10,000.

2019 budget includes $1.3 million for the marsh

The Edmonds City Council approved its 2019 budget on Tuesday, a budget top-heavy with amendments and with a total figure of $109,471,322.

Last year’s budget came in at $92.4 million.

The big takeaway was the council’s decision to allocate $1.3 million toward restoration efforts of the Edmonds Marsh, money that Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said is needed to show state and federal grant funders that it has “skin in the game.”

Shooting at senior center

A large, private party at the Edmonds Senior Center Friday, Dec. 14, ended with gunfire, one man dead and another booked for second-degree murder.

With the help of other officers, the suspects were successfully detained. After being read their rights, they claimed they fled the scene after hearing gunshots. But the man in the car’s back seat – a 21-year-old from SeaTac – was later confirmed to be the murder suspect, records show.

The alleged shooter and the male driver – also 21 and from SeaTac, who was arrested for eluding police – were both taken to Snohomish County Jail in Everett.

Both were not charged by prosecutors.





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