2013 Year in Review (Part 2)

Dec 31, 2013
Aida Miller, on mandolin, and Kevin Miller, on guitar, of the bluegrass band Blueberry Hill, sing a duet at the Bluegrass and Folk Festival held Aug. 17 in the Lincoln Courtyard in Old Town.


Missing teen hikers found safe

Two Kamiak High School grads who were missing after a day hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness were found Tuesday morning.

Ricardo Perez, 18, and Brian Chim, 19, set out on a hike around 7 a.m. Sunday to Mason Lake, near Snoqualmie Pass. They were reported missing by their parents.

King County Search and Rescue and the King County Sheriff’s Office searched Monday for Perez and Chim and resumed the search on Tuesday. The teens were rescued just after 7 a.m.

King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said the hikers were picked up by a sheriff’s office helicopter and brought to Bandera Air Field in North Bend.

“They were both really hungry, really tired, pretty scratched up from going through the brush, and really thankful to be found,” she said.

Teen hikers: ‘No one thinks that they’re lost’

It was Day 2 when two Kamiak High School grads lost after a day hike in the Cascades first heard a chopper.

A King County sheriff’s helicopter was searching overhead for Ricardo Perez, 18, and Brian Chim, 19, who had set out on a hike on June 31 to Mason Lake, near Mount Defiance.

The two had hiked to Mason Lake and then headed to another lake, but lost the trail on the way there.

“No one thinks that they’re lost,” Perez said. “We just kept going, seeing as how we didn’t really think we were lost.”

At about 8 a.m. on July 1, Perez and Chim waved to the helicopter with a beach towel and sweatshirt. After a day lost near Mason Lake, they were more than ready to be rescued.

Then the helicopter left.

Schools to add $1 million in programs

After years of budget cuts, the Mukilteo School District is looking to add more than $1 million in new programs and services into its budget.

Approved June 28, the state budget added $1 billion in new funding to K-12 education – the biggest increase in funding school districts have received in years. Mukilteo will get $7.9 million of that amount in the 2013-14 school year.

With those dollars, the state will pay more of the cost of busing students to and from school, help improve the teacher-to-student ratio for low-income kindergarteners and first graders, and pick up more of the district’s materials, supplies and operating costs.

Kamiak grads playing together as Knights again

Two former Kamiak baseball players are once again playing for the same team – also for the Knights.

Alex Nesbitt, 19, and Seth Heck, 20, are playing with the Corvallis Knights in the West Coast League, a summer collegiate baseball team. Nesbitt plays pitcher, Heck is a short stop.

“We grew up together, and then I went off to college and he was still in high school,” Heck said. “The fact that our paths crossed here, in Corvallis, a year and a half later is pretty unique.”

The Knights play 11 other teams in the two-division league, from the Cowlitz Black Bears to the Walla Walla Sweets. Their home field is at Goss Stadium, also home of the Pac-12 Oregon State Beavers.

Dog prevents house fire

A dog helped to prevent an early morning brush fire on Saturday from spreading to a home off of Goat Trail Road.

Bogi summoned his inner Lassie when he woke his owner, alerting him to a fire around 4:25 a.m. at a neighbor’s house in the 4900 block of 70th Street S.W. in Mukilteo.

Myles Oresik thought the “antsy” Chow/German Shepherd mix just needed to be let out, but when he opened the back door, he saw flames reaching up to 12 feet.

A row of tall bushes that lined his neighbor’s front yard was on fire.

He immediately called 911, and then drove over to the house and awakened his neighbors.


Japanese Gulch won’t make Nov. ballot

Although the City Council is still undecided, Mayor Joe Marine expects the city will make an offer to purchase land in Japanese Gulch this year.

All seven councilmembers want to buy the last 97 acres of undeveloped land on the border of Mukilteo in Everett, but they are divided on whether to ask voters to OK taxes or instead issue councilmanic bonds, which circumvents voters.

The council on Monday again agreed to wait to make a decision on whether it will put another measure on the ballot, asking either for an advisory vote or an OK to fund land acquisition by issuing bonds for up to $2.5 million.

Councilmembers said they don’t want to decide yet because there are still too many “unknowns” – namely, how much would need to be covered by the bonds.

‘Silent’ volunteer is named Citizen of the Year

Kathy Wisbeck has been named Mukilteo’s Citizen of the Year.

The Kiwanis-sponsored award is given to a Mukilteo citizen to recognize the outstanding contributions he or she has made to the city. Couples may also be recognized.

Wisbeck was honored at the Mukilteo Kiwanis Club meeting on July 31.

“It’s very nice of them to honor me,” she said. “There are so many dedicated volunteers in Mukilteo, I felt very fortunate to have been selected.”

Kiwanis received several letters nominating Wisbeck over the years.

The letters noted the countless hours she has worked as a leader and volunteer for a variety of community service and fundraising events in Mukilteo, year after year.

“If anyone needs help, Kathy is there, no questions asked,” wrote Steve and Darlene Conklé. “She is a very giving person and a credit to our community.”

Old Town residents not happy with chip seal

Several residents of Old Town are unhappy with their recently chip-sealed streets, which some say are “shoddy” or “sloppy.”

The city has chip sealed more than 20 miles of streets in the last seven years through its Pavement Preservation program. Chip seal is estimated to last 7-10 years.

Adopted by City Council in 2007, the program calls for the chip sealing of several miles of road each year. The streets are repaved on a rotating schedule in July and August.

Chip sealing involves laying a layer of oil, covering it with about 3/8 inch of clean rock chips and seating them with a roller, then adding a seal coat of oil. Another black seal is added later to smooth out the road.

This summer, many roads in Old Town, as well as on Washington Avenue and Goat Trail Road, were chip sealed.

Many of the residents on these streets have complained, saying they are unsatisfied with the finished result – that it should be called “cheap seal, not chip seal.”

Pioneer of the Year’s ‘roots run deep’

When Madeline LaBeau Kuykendal smells the salt water and seaweed of Mukilteo, she knows she’s back home.

“When I smell the shoreline with all the old seaweed hanging around, it just invigorates me,” she said. “I come alive inside. I’m home.”

Kuykendal, 89, is the 2013 Mukilteo Historical Society Pioneer of the Year, chosen by MHS members as a way to commemorate the history of Mukilteo.

Her memories were recorded on video during an MHS meeting at Rosehill Community Center on Aug. 8.

Kuykendal’s Mukilteo roots run deep: Her mother was one of the four daughters of Louis and Mary Foster, who operated the Bay View Hotel in Mukilteo in the early 1900s.


Garden club marks 80 years of service

The Mukilteo Way Garden Club will celebrate its 80th anniversary on Sept. 9.

The garden club was founded on Sept. 9, 1933 in the home of Jessie Kaune on Mukilteo Boulevard.

Over 80 years, the club has promoted gardening and community service. Members also care for the Fowler Pear Tree Park in Mukilteo, identify historic trees for preservation, and support a number of local gardening projects.

Founder Jessie Kaune, from Missouri, was fascinated by the way plants grew in Washington. She planted a garden of flowers and vegetables, while her husband planted trees.

Neighbors came to admire the Kaune plantings, and eventually the women on the boulevard thought to meet as a club.

“It was basically neighbors inviting neighbors to share things in the garden,” said club president Diane Tinsley. “It [turned into] an educational as well as social and service organization.”

Rainfall causes floods, mudslides

Extreme rainfall on the evening of Aug. 29 overwhelmed Mukilteo’s stormwater system, causing flooding and mudslides throughout the city.

It rained 1.25 inches in Mukilteo between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

The storm inundated the city’s stormwater system, filling catch basins, plugging pipes, washing out culverts and overflowing on to the streets.

Rainfall at Paine Field Airport in Everett was 1.30 inches in 24 hours, according to NWS records. That is more rainfall than Puget Sound usually gets throughout the month of August.

“It’s pretty rare to get a whole month’s rainfall in one and a half hours,” said NWS meteorologist Josh Smith. “It maybe happens every 5-10 years.”

Many residents called 911 to report that their garages or basements had flooded and had up to 6 inches of standing water. The city had 26 reports of localized flooding.

Tank Farm transfer as good as done

After nearly 70 years, Mukilteo will again have access to its waterfront, as soon as next year.

The Port of Everett Commission on Sept. 10 accepted the transfer of the Mukilteo Tank Farm from the U.S. Air Force.

Port officials expect that the 20-acre Tank Farm will be in local control before October. All that is needed now is a signature from the Secretary of the Air Force.

“I’m confident the transfer will take place before the end of the month,” said John Mohr, executive director of the port.

The port has worked with the city of Mukilteo, city of Everett, Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit and Community Transit for decades to secure 18.8 acres on the northern Mukilteo-Everett waterfront so that it can be redeveloped for a ferry terminal, transit station, parking garage and waterfront promenade.

County awards $2.5 million to save gulch

Mukilteo is $2.5 million closer to realizing its vision of preserving more of Japanese Gulch as parkland.

Snohomish County Council on Sept. 10 awarded a Conservation Futures grant to Mukilteo to purchase the last 97 acres of undeveloped land on the border of Mukilteo and Everett. The council voted 4-1 to fund it and several other projects.

Mukilteo’s was one of 29 projects to request a cut of $25 million in grants. The county’s Conservation Futures Advisory Board had recommended that the county award the $2.5 million.

The city now has $4.3 million in funds allocated to pay for the gulch, including another $800,000 from Snohomish County (also Conservation Futures grants) and $1 million from the state.

Man charged with murder a suspect in other attacks

A Mukilteo man charged with murder for an Everett stabbing is now accused of knifing two more in Seattle.

Derek Donnelly, 32, reportedly likes to refer to himself as a “stick-up kid” and has a reputation for robbing at knifepoint for drugs. He is now a suspect in a Seattle stabbing from Dec. 4, 2011.

Two women, ages 60 and 54, were stabbed during a residential robbery. Both women had cuts to their faces. One woman suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs, and the other was stabbed in the back.

At the time of the stabbing, Donnelly was already a suspect in the April 23, 2012, murder of Luis Verduzco in Everett.


DNA on popsicle sticks links to burglary suspect

A convicted felon has been connected to a Mukilteo burglary after police found his DNA on popsicle sticks.

Joseph T. Medoro, 32, apparently likes to snack on popsicles while he’s allegedly burglarizing homes.

His DNA was found on popsicle sticks that were part of the mess left after burglars broke into a Mukilteo home in July 2012, according to Snohomish County Superior Court papers.

The popsicles were stolen out of a downstairs freezer and seemingly eaten while burglars were ransacking the house.

“At the time, the homeowners found some popsicle sticks that they did not eat in their house,” said Officer Colt Davis. “An officer bagged them up to be tested for DNA, and they got a hit on one of the suspects in the case.”

Young girls help save father with CPR

Richard Blalock now knows you don’t have to be big to be a hero. He almost died, but was saved by two small ones.

His daughters Lauren, 9, and Jenna, 8, helped his wife Sharon Blalock prevent him from dying of a severe asthma attack last month in their Everett home.

Lauren, a fourth grader at Mukilteo Elementary, and Jenna, a third grader at Olivia Park Elementary, have no formal training, but followed their trained mom’s CPR instructions.

Richard, 43, suffered the asthma attack that caused him to stop breathing around 9 a.m. on Sept. 8. Just before he blacked out, he managed to say “Call 911.” His  daughters were in the room and heard him.

“These three little heroes of mine did their best to keep me alive,” Richard said. “I’ve told them many, many times, ‘You guys are my heroes. You’ve really done an amazing job.’ I’m really thankful for them.”

Mukilteo plans for its 5 acres of waterfront

Now that ownership of the Tank Farm was transferred last month, many are looking at what it means for Mukilteo.

The Port of Everett accepted the transfer from the Air Force on Sept. 10, and now owns nearly 20 acres.

The port has plans to convey parts of it “as quickly as possible” to Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit and the city of Mukilteo, said John Mohr, executive director of the port. Other land transfers may also occur, he said.

Mohr said it is likely that about 5 acres will go to Mukilteo for redevelopment. That acreage includes where the ferry terminal and holding lanes are now and a promenade along the waterfront.

Potential projects for Mukilteo’s 5 acres, slated for a timeline of 2014-2025, include: a waterfront promenade, “daylighting of Japanese Gulch Creek, a “prow” or “treaty” park, a robotic parking garage, an expanded fishing pier and relocated boat launch.

Council passes law to regulate marijuana businesses

Mukilteo will allow state-licensed marijuana businesses to operate in the city, if and when these types of licenses are issued.

Mukilteo City Council on Monday unanimously passed the law in anticipation that the state will soon license businesses to grow, process and sell recreational marijuana.

The Liquor Control Board has capped the number of retail marijuana licenses to be issued in each county and some cities, whereas growing or packaging facilities are not capped. Mukilteo was capped at one retail license.

As passed, the Mukilteo law allows one state-licensed marijuana store in the city’s commercial zones.

Mukilteo limits growing or packaging facilities to its industrial zones – the same zones the city allows for medical marijuana “collective gardens.” As such, there could be as many as four of these marijuana facilities in Mukilteo.

Elder abuse an ‘invisible’ problem in Snohomish County

Though many aren’t aware of it, elder abuse is a problem in Snohomish County.

A panel of experts discussed on Oct. 23 the invisible issue of abuse of older adults in Snohomish County due to underreporting and a shortage of resources, as well as the county’s efforts to prevent elder abuse and provide services to victims.

The discussion, held at Harbour Pointe Retirement & Assisted Living Center in Mukilteo, was attended by about 45 residents and non-residents.

Experts included Vicci Hilty, director of the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, Mukilteo Police Chief Rex Caldwell and Nathalie Gauteron of Senior Services of Snohomish County.

In 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of adults 65 years and older in Snohomish County was 73,400 or about 10.3 percent of the total population. Statistically, every year an estimated 9,000 older adults are victims of abuse in the county.


Kamiak senior earns perfect ACT score

A Kamiak High School senior has earned the highest possible score on the ACT college admission exam.

Ryan Vogt, son of Tony and Rachel Vogt, has achieved the top composite score of 36 on a recent ACT.

His achievement is as remarkable as it is rare: On average, roughly one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the test receive a top score.

In 2013, only 1,162 of the nearly 1.8 million students who took the test earned a perfect composite score. The average composite score was 20.9. In Washington state, the average was 22.8.

Gregerson to be next mayor of Mukilteo

Jennifer Gregerson has been elected as the next mayor of Mukilteo.

Gregerson has kept a lead over Mayor Joe Marine in the mayoral race by more than 8 percent.

As of 3:45 p.m. on Nov. 12, Gregerson has 53.83 percent of the votes and Marine is following with 45.54 percent, according to unofficial results released by Snohomish County Elections.

“I’m honored and very grateful to everyone who voted for me,” Gregerson said. “I look forward to serving everyone in the city, whether they voted for me or not. That would be my job.”

Marine wasn’t about to concede on Nov. 5, but as more votes were counted and the results hadn’t changed in his favor, it is clear Gregerson will become the next mayor of Mukilteo. Marine trails by 503 votes. At this point, he can’t make up the difference.

Man convicted of abusing, starving girl

A Mukilteo man whose girlfriend last year was convicted of starving and beating his younger sister now faces more than 15 years in prison for the same crimes.

Derron Alexis, 44, was convicted of the first-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree unlawful imprisonment of his 10-year-old adopted sister.

Police waited until after his live-in girlfriend was convicted to charge him in the case. After a week-long trial, a jury found Alexis guilty on Nov. 5.

Jurors also concluded that the victim was particularly vulnerable, and that Alexis had abused his position of trust. Those special verdicts will allow the state to seek a sentence above the standard range.

Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Paul said she hasn’t decided yet how long of a prison term she’ll ask for at the Dec. 2 sentencing.

Alexis' former girlfriend, Mary Mazalic, 36, was convicted last year of first-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment of the girl, and is serving a 30-year sentence.

Fire burns Mukilteo home to the ground

A 2-alarm fire destroyed a Mukilteo home Wednesday morning.

The fire was reported around 9:45 a.m. at a house on the 6000 block of 88th Street S.W. It was engulfed in flames and a total loss.

“When we got there, there was nothing we could do,” Mukilteo Assistant Fire Chief Brian McMahan said. “There was nothing to save.”

The site on a bluff overlooking the waterfront proved to be a difficult one for firefighters.

McMahan said they were delayed because it is located near the end of a narrow, winding road and far away from a hydrant.


GPS tracker finds burglary suspect

A convicted felon has been connected to a Mukilteo burglary after police tracked him with the GPS technology on a laptop.

Steven Espitia, 31, who reportedly calls himself “Uncle Thieve,” allegedly broke into a Mukilteo home in August and tried to sell some of the loot to a former sister-in-law.

When selling her the laptop, Espitia made reference to seeing some Air Jordan sports shoes in the house he allegedly had burglarized. He reportedly promised the woman's children that he would get them iPhones and tablets.

One of the victims notified police he was able to activate GPS tracking software installed on one of the stolen laptops.

When the computer was turned on, it notified their cellphone of its location in unincorporated Snohomish County.

Mayor-elect steps into her new role

Even before she is sworn in, Mayor-elect Jennifer Gregerson is stepping into her new role.

Gregerson won the mayoral race with 53.70 percent of the vote, according to official results released by Snohomish County Elections. Mayor Joe Marine followed with 45.57 percent.

Gregerson kept a lead over Marine in the race by more than 8 percent.

“It’s been very exciting and an honor,” she said. “I had a good couple of days of celebrating, and then it’s been jumping in with both feet since then.”

She was so confident that she would be elected that she has been meeting with staff at City Hall and tagging along with Marine to his meetings before the results were certified.

She has also formed a Transition Committee to assist her in shaping the new administration.

Man gets 12 years for starving girl

A judge sentenced a Mukilteo man to 12 1/2 years in prison on Dec. 2 for beating and starving his younger sister.

A jury convicted Derron Alexis, 44, of first-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree unlawful imprisonment of his 10-year-old sister.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne agreed with prosecutors that the man deserved an exceptional sentence for his egregious ways.

His adopted sister weighed just 51 pounds when she was rescued from his home in 2011.

Her body had almost no fat and started to metabolize her muscles for energy. She had an open wound and an untreated kidney infection, as well as scars and bruises from beatings.

Author of ‘Mukilteo Pictures and Memories’ dies at 88

Opal McConnell, local historian, author of “Mukilteo Pictures and Memories” and co-owner of the historic McConnell’s Boat House in Mukilteo, died on Dec. 1. She was 88.

“If she left a mark on Mukilteo, it was how important family are and how we shouldn’t lose our history,” said son Brad McConnell. “Those were things she felt were important.”

Her husband George bought Victor McConnell’s Service Station in 1946 – no relation – and renamed it McConnell’s Boat House. He wanted his own marina business, and happened to find one that “already had his name on it,” Brad McConnell said.

McConnell and her husband lived for years in a loft atop the boathouse with no toilet or shower and a sink with no drain. She was the bookkeeper; he rented and repaired the boats.

Mukilteans will also remember McConnell for her contributions to the Mukilteo Historical Society and the book “Mukilteo Pictures and Memories.”

Kamiak grad charged in Harvard bomb hoax

A Harvard University student from Mukilteo is accused of making a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of four buildings on campus so he could get out of a final exam.

Prosecutors from the Boston U.S. attorney’s office allege that Eldo Kim, 20, a Harvard sophomore, sent hoax emails Dec. 16 saying shrapnel bombs would go off soon in two of four buildings on Harvard’s Cambridge, Mass., campus.

The emails arrived minutes before he was to take a final exam in one of the buildings.

The threats led to a shut down of the buildings for hours before investigators determined there were no explosives.

Kim is a 2012 graduate of Kamiak High School. While at Kamiak, he was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and was a member of the tennis and debate teams, said Mukilteo School District spokesperson Andy Muntz.

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