The Year In Review
December 30, 2009 · Updated 9:35 AM
ARLINGTON — It was a tough year for many local residents.
With the economy in free fall, a number of community members were left without jobs and wondering about what the future would hold.
The economy impacted The Arlington Times’ coverage in 2009 from city and school district budgets to businesses closing their doors for good.
But the year wasn’t all bad.
The Arlington High School Class of 2009 earned more than $1.3 million in scholarships by the time it graduated in June.
The city of Arlington hired a new police chief who started in March.
The Arlington School Board also saw its most senior member step down after 16 years of service, only to be replaced by a chemical engineer.
These items were just a few of the stories told within the pages of The Arlington Times this past year.
Arlington got off easy in November 2008 when flooding hit other areas around Puget Sound, but it wasn’t so lucky when the snow started Dec. 13, 2008.
While it was slushy around town that first day, the snow continued until New Year’s weekend.
It was Wednesday night, Dec. 17, when the cold air combined with precipitation to bury Arlington with its first serious round of nice dry snow — then it snowed and it snowed and it kept on snowing some more.
It was Friday, Dec. 19, when the Seattle TV news stations were reporting quantities of snow. After reporting that Arlington had six inches, they got calls to clarify that: “We’ve got 20 inches.” “We’ve got two feet here.”
The city, county and state all rallied to the cause of keeping the roads safe, but neighborhoods got neglected and people got frustrated none-the-less.
Snohomish County road crews plowed 50,000-plus miles, and it wasn’t just once around, each time they finished their routes, they started again as the snow just kept coming down.
Flooding was also an issue near Island Crossing.
The Stillaguamish River reached flood stage 4 at 19 feet by noon Wednesday, Jan. 7, and climbed even higher with continuing rain, cresting before noon Thursday, Jan. 8.
“It’s never been this bad at Island Crossing,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary said. “It’s a huge flood, a historic flood. I’ve never seen this before.”
In late January, Bob Sullenberger was selected by the city of Arlington to be its new police chief.
Sullenberger was one of 38 initial applicants for the position and six finalists who underwent a long and rigorous hiring process coordinated by Prothman Company of Seattle.
The process included multiple interviews by City Council members, police department staff, community members and city staff, especially city administrator Allen Johnson and the mayor.
Sullenberger was a 29-year veteran of law enforcement, and had served his entire career with the Boulder Police Department prior to coming to Arlington.
Sullenberger began March 2.
With flooding being a January issue in Arlington, FEMA was out in February encouraging residents to register with the federal agency.
Jack Heesch and a team of three FEMA officials and a Washington State representative were in Arlington trying to get all people impacted by the January floods to register for assistance.
“It’s amazing the excuses people come up with,” Heesch said. “I hear people say they didn’t register because they have flood insurance and the next person says they didn’t register because they don’t have insurance. Some say they don’t need help, that others need it more.”
Heesch and a team of four women went door to door in the Stillaguamish Valley and across Snohomish County in February to inform residents personally that they should register with FEMA.
By February, Snohomish County had reported to state and federal officials about $18 million in damages to public and individual property.
On Feb. 22, a former publisher of The Arlington Times and The Marysville Globe was remembered.
Simeon Robert “Sim” Wilson III, who also served in the Washington State House of Representatives, passed away on Feb. 8. He was 81.
Wilson was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1972, and served the 10th Legislative District for 20 years before he retired. He sold The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times to Sun News in February of 1997, after serving as publisher of both newspapers for more than 30 years.
Friends and family gathered at the Everett Transit Station to celebrate Wilson’s life. His wife, Karen Wilson, described Sim as a veritable Renaissance man, with a diversity of professional and personal pursuits.
The Lakewood School District celebrated its 95th anniversary in March.
The district held a party March 10, and the community was invited to attend.
Among Lakewood’s graduates was Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson.
“I remember that old building, and I remember my first two teachers Mrs. Hart and Mrs. Johnson.” Larson said her mother also attended Lakewood schools.
“She didn’t know a word of English when she started first grade,” said the mayor.
Arlington School District superintendent Kristine McDuffy said she also had fond memories of Lakewood, where she launched her career as an administrator.
“I got my first admin job as principal of Lakewood High School,” said McDuffy.
Later she was promoted to superintendent.
“Lakewood schools are unique in the tight-knit community of the staff,” McDuffy said. “And the community, too.”
On March 16, Edward L. Goodridge Sr., Linda L. Goodridge, Edward L. Goodridge Jr. and Sara L. Milliron Schroedl were sentenced for trafficking more than $55 million worth of contraband cigarettes in the state of Washington.
Goodridge Sr., Goodridge Jr. and Schroedl were on the Stillaguamish Tribal Council when they set up a corporation to run the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop for their own personal profit.
Goodridge Sr. and Jr. were each sentenced to 14 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Schroedl was sentenced to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release.
Linda Goodridge, the wife of Ed Sr., was sentenced to two years of supervised release, four months of home confinement with electronic monitoring and 200 hours of community service.
The defendants deprived the state of more than $25 million of tax revenue by refusing to pay cigarette taxes, according to court papers.
Evidence gathered from the searches of Blue Stilly and various cigarette suppliers revealed that between March 2003 and May 2007, Blue Stilly had ordered and illegally sold in excess of 1.8 million cartons of cigarettes and generated more than $55 million in revenues.
A 20-ton sculpture by Arlington resident Verena Schwippert was delivered to the Everett Transit Center March 12.
The sculpture, titled “Hand Werke” was commissioned by Sound Transit and the city of Everett.
“The sculptures were born in Arlington,” Schwippert said. “But the granite rocks were born 400 million years ago.”
“Hand Werk” reflects Schwippert’s native German language, and the public artwork was designed as a tribute to the manufacturing history of Everett, she said.
A former city of Arlington employee was sentenced to 37 months in prison for embezzling more than $1 million.
Terry L. Davis was told she must self-report to prison after she was sentenced March 27.
Following her prison sentence, she was slated to have three years of supervised released.
Davis was sentenced for mail fraud and filing a false tax return. She also has to pay $1.3 million in restitution.
She told the court she did not do it out of greed or for the love of the high life.
“I want and need to publicly apologize to the city of Arlington, the people I worked with and the court. It was taxpayer money that I did not need but they did. It was done out of compulsion,” she said.
The former human resources administrator was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Davis, 57, agreed to forfeit her interest in two properties, two cars and a Whistler time-share condo to the government as part of her plea agreement signed in December 2008.
Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson wrote in a letter to the judge, that Davis’s fraud has “broken [the] trust” of the city’s taxpayers, damaging years of hard work by the city to show that its staff is “helpful, friendly and willing to go the extra mile for our customers.”
The case was investigated by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts.
The Arlington School District grappled with a budget shortfall in April, and the School Board held a public forum on April 14 — the day after holding a meeting with the Arlington Education Association.
The forum provided an opportunity for each person present to meet one-on-one with members of the School Board. Rather than have everyone stand up and speak to the whole group, they all waited in line patiently to speak to a director, with administrative staff taking notes.
At the time, the district was grappling with a $3 million to $5 million budget shortfall.
Members of the association said that they were willing to take cuts in pay, but only if the district continued to keep class sizes small.
“We’d rather see programs cut than teachers,” said Deb Hubenthal, a teacher at Pioneer Elementary School who is secretary for the AEA.
An 89-year-old Arlington man was grateful to be back on U.S. soil after being held in Mexico for more than two months.
On May 3, Chrisman’s friends and family members celebrated his return from Mexico, where he and his grandson were imprisoned.
On Jan. 8, Ed and his grandson Gary Chrisman took a trip to Algodones, Mexico. Gary works just across the border in Yuma, Ariz., and Ed had traveled to Yuma for his annual winter stay.
They stopped in a convenience store for a drink.
“Before we even knew what was happening, we were surrounded by five police cars,” Ed Chrisman said. “We were never told what we were accused of doing, but we were able to piece it together eventually.”
When the Chrisman family in America hired a Mexican attorney, they learned that a mother in the convenience store had accused both men of asking her 13-year-old daughter if they could take a sexually explicit photograph of her. According to Gary Chrisman, the photographs he took were not sexually explicit, and the mother had given her permission, but she had asked for more than the $25 he had given her.
For the next three days, Gary and Ed Chrisman were held without food, water, blankets or heat, in isolated cells.
Ed Chrisman contracted pneumonia during their 66-day stay in Mexico.
On Feb. 9, a Mexican federal judge ruled that Ed Chrisman’s rights had been violated, and that he should be set free and not required to stand trial, but he remained in prison until March 14, when the paperwork was done.
The Arlington School District also had a difficult month, as it sent home layoff notices to 24 staff members.
The cuts were widely distributed across the district, with seven from the high school including three counselors, five from Eagle Creek Elementary, four from Presidents, three from Trafton, two from Kent Prairie, two from Post Middle School and one from Pioneer Elementary School.
“We hope to be able to rehire some of them in fall, but that depends on enrollment figures,” McDuffy told The Arlington Times May 15.
Despite tough economic conditions, downtown Arlington received a facelift in June.
The entry into downtown was spruced up thanks to a remodel of the Stillaguamish Square, which included longtime business Arlington Pharmacy.
The pharmacy and other tenants of the fancy new building at the intersection of SR 530 and SR 9 celebrated its new look with a big party on Super Saturday, June 6.
In addition to the pharmacy, tenants included La Hacienda Family Mexican Restaurant, Grandura Barber Shop, 10 Minute Walk-In Clinic, Stilly Coffee House, Arlington Copy, Mail & More, Cheepers Food and Things, Radio Shack and Arlington Chiropractic Center.
Area high schools also had something to celebrate.
Students from the Class of 2009 at Arlington, Weston and Lakewood high schools and the Stillaguamish Valley School all graduated in June.
The graduating class of 2009 — more than 300 students — at AHS earned $1.3 million in scholarships. Students graduated on June 12.
Thirty-one students at Weston graduated on June 10, while 154 seniors accepted their diplomas from Lakewood on June 11.
Ten students from Stillaguamish threw their hats during their June 18 graduation.
An Arlington 7-year-old said that he didn’t want the latest video game for his birthday.
Instead, he asked all of his friends to show up to his birthday party June 12 with food items that could be donated to the Arlington Food Bank.
On July 2, Caden, his 9-year-old brother Coleson, their mother Shauna and their grandmother, Candi Nicholas, dropped off 51 pounds of food, which were donated by five different families, to the Food Bank.
The boys’ mother explained that they’d already attended a few “charity birthdays” among their friends, and Caden was inspired to follow suit, especially since his grandmother volunteers at the Food Bank once a week.
“Our family has enough, and the kids know that,” Shauna Wynne said. “They got excited as the idea sank in.”
In mid July, Highland Christian School brought in a new principal.
Kevin Reimer was brought on at the Arlington school after serving as deputy director of an international school in Latvia.
Reimer spent four years overseas in Jurmala, Latvia.
“Besides my parents, whom I love dearly, the most influential people in my life have been teachers and coaches, and many of them had a Christian faith in common,” Reimer told The Arlington Times. “I like to be out in the halls. Leaders don’t just sit behind desks. They get out into the world.”
Later that month, an Arlington resident received a letter in the mail for her deceased husband notifying him that he had been selected for jury duty at Cascade District Court.
Billye Brooks-Sebastiani’s husband, Thomas Sebastiani died of kidney cancer in October 2005.
Billye Brooks-Sebastiani hadn’t received a ballot for her husband for the 2008 election, so she felt confident that his name had been removed from the voting rolls, but in September 2008, the state Department of Licensing sent a notice to her husband, reminding him that the driver’s license he’d obtained in 2003 needed to be renewed.
Billye Brooks-Sebastiani contacted the DOL and told them to strike Thomas Sebastiani from their records, but she didn’t give it another thought until she received a summons for him to report for three days of jury duty, starting June 24.
Court officials said that glitches in the system have been known to occur.
“It’s totally amazing that, even with modern technology, we can’t manage these records,” Billye Brooks-Sebastiani said. “If they can’t keep track of this, how can they keep track of criminals, or monitor sex offenders? It calls their whole credibility into question.”
The Center For Justice — a Spokane-based group — filed a motion on July 20 for summary judgement against the Arlington School Board, saying that the entity repeatedly violate the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Officials from the center believed that there was enough evidence to support their claim that the Board allegedly committed 144 violations form March 2006 to May 2008.
A Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled in October that Board members did violate the state act, but did not do so on purpose.
The body of an Arlington woman was found after she went missing from a cruise ship in Alaska in early August.
Amber Malkuch, 45, was last seen alive on board the Holland America Line cruise ship Zaandam at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 3, after she ordered room service when the vessel was near Alaska’s Douglas Island.
She was reported missing by a traveling companion on the morning of Aug. 3, when the Zaandam was in Glacier Bay National Park, roughly 75 miles northwest of Juneau.
After a search stretching more than 80 miles, Malkuch’s body was found at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 3, by the crew of a commercial helicopter, operated by Ketchikan-based TEMSCO Helicopters. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Dana Warr said that Malkuch’s body was found on the west side of Douglas Island, about 12 miles northwest of where Malkuch was last seen alive.
“Based on evidence and information to date, it does not appear to be foul play,” Holland America spokesperson Sally Andrews said from Seattle.
Later in August, the national auto industry crunch hit Arlington.
Dwayne Lane’s Family of Auto Dealerships announced Aug. 20 that it would be closing Dwayne Lane’s Arlington Chevrolet as of Aug. 31
The family-owned dealership moved its remaining inventory to 7800 Evergreen Way in Everett — the former site of Dwayne Lane Dodge — along with about 10 of the Arlington dealership’s 15 employees, said Tom Lane, president of the Northwest auto group.
Dwayne Lane lost its franchise rights to sell Chevrolet, meaning it could no longer sell and purchase any new Chevrolet makes and models.
The Arlington dealership closed down less than a year after the Arlington Planning Commission Design Review Board approved Lane’s proposal to build a new Chevrolet dealership on 59th Avenue and SR 530 in Island Crossing.
Lane said the plan was to move the Dwayne Lane Chevrolet to the location once the proposed dealership was completed.
But in early 2009 General Motors announced it would be shutting down approximately 2,400 of its 6,000 dealership nationwide, including about 30 in Washington state, Lane said, adding that it was “ironic.”
The H1N1 pandemic began reaching Snohomish County in September, and city officials geared up for the threat of a local outbreak.
The three major city organizations — the city of Arlington, the Arlington School District and Cascade Valley Hospital — announced that they were working with Chris Badger, community emergency management coordinator, to establish a jointly operated system to combat an H1N1 virus pandemic or any other emergency within the city.
Badger and other coordinating staff hosted an open house on Swine Flu later that month. In addition to the event, the Arlington City Council proclaimed the month of September as Disaster Preparedness Month.
Doses of the H1N1 vaccine were distributed through the Snohomish Health District in October. Currently the H1N1 vaccine is available free of charge at many clinics throughout the county.
A fishy art project was also gearing up in September.
Residents and organizations purchased wooden salmon, trout, sturgeon and rockfish cutouts for the city’s “Some Things Fishy in Arlington” community art project that began in July.
More than 350 fish, which organizers later displayed near the Interstate 5 corridor and throughout the city, were purchased for the project.
The thought behind the project was to encourage attendees of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C., to visit Arlington, said organizer Jean Olson.
“I don’t think anybody expect it to be this big,” Olson said. “We were hoping to sell 104 — that would be one more than (in 2003) when they were selling cows.”
The Arlington School District conducted bus ridership week in early October.
About 2,500 students rode the bus during the week of Sept. 28 as part of a statewide count. Districts obtain funding based on the number of students who ride the bus during that one week.
“Drivers are given state count sheets and at every stop for five consecutive days they keep track of how many students get on at each stop,” said Cheryl Power, supervisor of transportation for the Arlington School District. “For that week, there’s some work on the drivers’ part.”
Also in October, The Arlington Times announced that it would be switching from a broadsheet format to a tabloid format to cut costs and increase content.
The new format also introduced a new monthly feature — 100 percent distribution days — in which The Arlington Times is distributed to all 16,312 households in Arlington’s 98223 zip code.
Those 100 percent distribution issues debuted Oct. 21, and will continue through 2010.
The city of Arlington announced in October that it would be cracking down on gang activity, despite the fact that it does not have what officials call a “gang problem.”
The Arlington City Council passed an ordinance in October that would fine property owners $100 per day for graffiti left unabated on their properties.
Arlington Police Chief Robert Sullenberger presented the proposed ordinance to the City Council during a work session Sept. 28 and the Council approved the measure Monday, Oct. 5.
Sullenberger said that only about 35 percent of all graffiti is gang related. However, graffiti can generate a public perception of blight, increasing community members’ fear of gang activity.
Most of the city’s graffiti does not come from local teenagers or gang members, but from residents of other surrounding areas, said Officer Lisa Wojciechowicz, of the Arlington Police Department.
Also in October, the city of Arlington announced its first round of layoffs in response to a $1.8 million budget shortfall.
Eight employees either accepted voluntary layoffs or early retirement packages. Three more would be let go by the time the city’s budget was finalized and approved.
“It’s definitely a challenging time,” city of Arlington spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said. “We’re very much a family and it’s really difficult to say goodbye.”
Five businesses, as well as two unused commercial spaces, were either completely destroyed or damaged in a two-alarm fire in Smokey Point Plaza in the 3400 block of 172nd Street NE.
Investigators estimated that the fire did more than $1 million in damages.
The blaze ravaged Smokey Point Pawn Shop, #1 Teriyaki, Big Foot Music, and Loans 4 You in the building’s east end. A fifth business — H & R Block — also suffered damage.
Approximately 5,000-square-feet of retail space was affected, said Chris Badger, Arlington Fire Department spokeswoman.
The nearly 24,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1985.
Officials from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as crews from the Arlington and Marysville fire departments, Fire District 19 and North County Fire/EMS spent three days working at the retail building clearing wreckage.
According to the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office, the building and property was valued at approximately $2.8 million in 2008.
A former Highland Christian School principal was sentenced in November to one year in jail.
Mark Evan Brown, who prosecutors allege raped a 14-year-old girl in 2008, will be allowed to serve his time on work release, Superior Court Judge Ronald Castleberry said Monday, Nov. 16.
Brown, 38, pleaded guilty Sept. 11 to second-degree kidnapping of a teenage female student at the private school in Arlington.
Brown had originally been charged with rape in the third degree in Snohomish County Superior Court in July 2008. Prosecutors alleged that Brown had sexual intercourse with the teenage student in June 2008 after encouraging her to run away from home and promising her a place to stay at the school.
Prosecutors amended their original charges of third-degree rape in favor of the kidnapping charges as part of a plea agreement. The kidnapping charges are a class B felony, while rape charges are only a class C felony, said Halley Hupp, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor.
Brown was fired by Highland Christian on July 25, 2008.
Carolyn Erickson attended her last School Board meeting on Nov. 30, 16 years after being elected as the Arlington School Board’s District No. 3 Director.
New Board member Ursula Ghirardo took over Erickson’s position in December.
At the Nov. 23 School Board meeting, Arlington Education Association Union President Eric Grant presented Erickson with flowers and gifts. Two other certified staff members also spoke about Erickson during the public comments portion, said Misti Gilman, Arlington School District spokeswoman.
“Thank you for your sensibility, compassion and generous heart,” Grant said to Erickson.
The School Board member then received a standing ovation from audience members, Gilman said.
Since taking over in 1993, Erickson’s seen several changes within the district that were ultimately decided by the Board.
Most of the big changes, Erickson said, came in the form of new construction.
School officials were able to pass a $54 million bond measure in March 2000 to finance the construction of a new high school.
Replacing Erickson was Ghirardo, who was officially sworn in on Dec. 14.
Ghirardo brings her experience as a chemical engineer to the School Board.
“There’s a lot of crossover,” said Ghirardo. “From finances to personnel, it’s just a matter of applying what you know in that circumstance. I’m just overseeing teaching and learning instead of chemical engineering.”