Valley View

Sno-Valley Senior Center gets new director

  • Written by Madeline Coats

headshot Lisa Yeager 2020Lisa Yeager, long-time director of the Sno-Valley Senior Center, will move into a new position as supervisor for the Issaquah Senior Center beginning May 1.

“One of the things I love about working with seniors is that depth of experience, the amazing backgrounds people have, and the stories they have to tell,” Yeager said.

Yeager held the director position for over a decade, with the exception of a nine-year break between 2007 and 2016 to explore the field of volunteer management. She worked for various organizations and managed thousands of volunteers, including the Pacific Science Center.

Yeager said about 90% of her role at the senior center focused on fundraising, in addition to staff supervision, grant writing and dealing with an aging facility. 

“I will be changing my focus from fundraising to community outreach and programming,” she said. “Those are two things I really enjoy.”

Sno-Valley already partners with Issaquah Senior Center for joint programming through the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. Yeager will be reporting to the city of Issaquah’s Parks Department rather than a typical board of directors, she said.

She said it will be “a different, new adventure” to work for a city. Yeager accepted the job at the end of February but chose to take two months before starting to get things in order at Sno-Valley. 

“Right now, I am constantly inspired by the Sno-Valley community, especially the notes of support, money people have sent and the outpouring of love for the seniors,” she said.

Yeager said the center has been providing meals to seniors during the coronavirus pandemic. The facility is technically closed, but staffers distribute and deliver between 50-70 meals each day, as well as puzzles, activities and information to stay active during the outbreak.

“During this whole coronavirus, the seniors have had more perspective than anyone,” Yeager said. “People have seen life happen and they know that eventually, everything has an end, and so they are able to keep perspective.”

She said many of the seniors have lived through the Polio epidemic and other life-threatening events. While the center serves as a hub for people in Carnation, Duvall and Fall City, the current closures have continued to bring the community together.

The business community has provided donations and staff has gone “above and beyond,” Yeager said. She added that people are still interconnected through the school districts, city councils and the local chambers of commerce. 

“It’s a really vibrant, fun place,” she said. “I think of the center as the heartbeat of the community. The gathering place is a focal point for people to find fitness and friendship. This is just a wonderful place.”

Yeager said she is excited for the future of the Sno-Valley Senior Center as it undergoes “big changes” in strategic planning and figures out how to proceed with the Reincarnation Thrift Store and senior housing.

“She loves the mission of the center,” said Michelle Raymond, president of the Sno-Valley Senior Center. “Her knowledge of the people and resources in the community will be a huge loss for us.” 

Duvall resident serves in the Horn of Africa

  • Written by By Bob Kirkpatrick and Lt. Jennifer K. Cunningham
Shannon Llenza. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy


CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – U.S. Navy reserve Judge Advocate Gen. Cmdr. Shannon Llenza from Duvall had been deployed to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. 

Officially known as the Republic of Djibouti, the 8,958 square-mile country is strategically located near some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, controlling access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It serves as a key refueling and transshipment center and is the principal maritime port for imports from and exports to neighboring Ethiopia.

Camp Lemonnier is the only enduring U.S. military base on the continent of Africa. It provides, operates and sustains support of combat readiness and security of ships, aircraft, detachments, and personnel for regional and combatant command requirements. 

Llenza, who is also an attorney at Microsoft in Redmond, serves as the legal advisor to the base commanding officer, offering guidance regarding ethics, criminal justice, rules of engagement, and personnel and other legal matters. 

Llenza is a 1995 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 2001 graduate of Marquette University Law School She credits her success in the Navy to her adopted hometown.

“The community of Duvall has really stepped up to help my family while I’m here,” Llenza said. “We have no other relatives in the area, and it takes a village to support a military family while a parent is deployed. We haven’t lived in Duvall long, but it’s been humbling how people have come together and helped when we needed them. It’s a great community and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.”

Llenza’s commanding officer, Capt. Ken Crowe, says she’s is among the many who play an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness in the strategical seaports on the northeast coast of Africa.

“Camp Lemonnier is a key Navy base and a vital asset to the United States as our location in the Horn of Africa overlooks the world’s fourth busiest waterway,” Crowe said “A mission as critical as ours comes with a lot of responsibilities and challenges, but our military members and civilians work hard. I’m honored to serve alongside each and every one of them, including Commander Llenza.”

Llenza is the first person in her family to join the military. Her husband is a retired Navy veteran. Llenza said she’d be honored to see her children following in their footsteps.

“My dad influenced me to join the Navy after law school,” Llenza said. “The Navy has been good to me and if my kids want to join, I’d completely support them. I feel like being in the Navy has helped to provide my daughter with a strong female role model because she sees that women can do anything that men can do.”

Transportation Coalition looks to add services in Snoqualmie Valley

  • Written by Madeline Coats
The Snoqualmie Valley Transportation Coalition recently completed its five-year plan to improve transportation opportunities in the cities of Monroe, Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, Snoqualmie, North Bend and unincorporated King County. Snoqualmie Valley Transportation has already taken steps to increase transit services in the Valley. SVTC courtesy photo


A coalition of cities, counties, elected officials, community members and local organizations assembled to create more transit options for cities in the Snoqualmie Valley back in 2017. 

Over two years after forming, the Snoqualmie Valley Transportation Coalition (SVTC) completed its five-year transportation plan for the cities of Monroe, Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, Snoqualmie and North Bend. SVTC is staffed by Hopelink and receives funding through the Washington State Department of Transportation.   

“Our coalition is energized, and we have come together with a unified voice to bring transportation improvements to the Valley,” said M’Liss Moon, mobility coordinator at Hopelink and lead staff support for the transportation coalition. 

The five-year plan aims to improve transportation in both incorporated and unincorporated regions, while also supporting affordability, accessibility, and social equity for all riders. Priorities were identified as part of two assessment surveys completed by citizens in 2017 and 2019.

According to a news release, goals of the plan include expanded services on all days of the week and more rider connections to transit hubs in Redmond, Issaquah, Bellevue, Seattle and more. 

Survey respondents highlighted current inabilities to reach public transportation from their homes due to distance, safety and mobility, especially for older individuals and others trying to reach medical appointments. 

Other results indicated an overall lack of understanding for what services already exist. Many people suggested more communication about transit projects.

“This is a big deal. We are recognizing Snoqualmie Valley as the regional transit area that it is,” said Amy Biggs, director of Snoqualmie Valley Transportation. “This will be the plan for transportation improvements in the Valley through 2024. When the entire valley speaks together, we can have a big voice. We’re excited to start work on these important projects.” 

The transportation plan said Carnation residents highlighted a need for more frequent service by the Valley Shuttle and increased connections to Redmond transit centers. 

Citizens in Duvall called for “more westbound and northbound” connections, leading the coalition to plan a partnership with Snohomish County’s Community Transit. Survey participants advocated for the expansion and continuation of the Duvall-Monroe Shuttle, as stated in the plan.

Residents in unincorporated King County advocated for improved transit frequency on Ames Lake Road, Carnation Farms Road, Tolt River Road and Tolt Hill Road. A news release said the coalition is continuing to identify transportation solutions to connect unincorporated regions to city centers.

Choosing kindness to improve the quality of life in Duvall

  • Written by Madeline Coats
King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert (right) awarded Duvall resident Laura Smith with the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service at a council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 25. Photo courtesy of Laura Smith

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously asked the question, “What are you doing for others?” to an audience in 1957. 

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert believes Duvall resident Laura Smith answers the question with her service and dedication to improve the quality of life for children and families in the Snoqualmie Valley. Smith was awarded the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service at a council meeting Feb. 25.

“Thanks to her leadership and dedication, the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network is working to promote and inspire youth to lead safe, healthy and successful lives,” Lambert said.

With more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Smith has worked in a variety of volunteer and leadership roles to improve her community. She taught at both high school and elementary levels in Colorado before moving to Duvall to raise a family. 

Smith joined the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network in 2005 and became the organization’s third ever executive director in 2012. She said her work focuses on youth development, partnerships and community outreach, with emphasis on parent education and youth mental health. 

“It’s important to note that when you live in rural King County, services aren’t as accessible as inside more populated areas,” Smith said. “We’re working alongside other nonprofits in the valley to really close up those gaps that exist.”

The community network was originally formed in 1994, along with more than 40 others across the state, as part of funding allocated by the state legislature. 

Some years later, the recession ended state funding and networks were forced to choose between becoming a nonprofit, merging with another entity or going dormant. Smith said Snoqualmie Valley’s network became a nonprofit and remains one of only five still in action around the state.

“The superintendent of the Riverview School District said it from his perspective. It was like I was pushing a locomotive up a big hill, which took a while, and then all of a sudden it passed the hill and started going down the other side,” she said. “And now I’m running behind it and trying to catch up because the momentum has just been breathtaking.”

Smith said the organization brings community partners together to talk about issues that are challenging. Several campaigns and programs were developed following data from Healthy Youth Surveys.

Programs within the network focus on youth leadership, employment success, mental health, substance abuse and mentorship. Parents are also given the opportunity to learn the importance of guidance, monitoring and consequences for their children.

“We’ve been very purposeful by listening to kids talk about what they actually need in order to build the mentoring program and opportunities for connection,” Smith said.

The network is currently working on a kindness campaign to reinforce positive behaviors in local schools. She said the campaign emphasizes social emotional learning and building empathy, while modeling inclusion.

Smith said the youth suicide component provides the community with training related to stress, depression and suicide prevention. The organization aims to connect more students with an adult to confide in during tough times, she added.

How to Help a Friend training allows older teenagers to become peer trainers for younger students. She said more than 1,500 students in Snoqualmie Valley received suicide prevention training last year alone. 

Progress continues on performing arts center

  • Written by Madeline Coats
The board of directors for the Duvall Foundation for the Arts, from left, are Karen Hendrickson, Elizabeth Hill, Tina Koch, Deanna Hobbs Connie Zimmerman, Tina Koch, Jennifer Brooks and Rita Ho. Photo courtesy of Duvall Foundation for the Arts


The idea to create a performing arts center in Duvall began in 1995 when a large property of land, containing an old dairy cow barn, was annexed into the city. Over 20 years later, the Duvall Cultural and Performing Arts Center is finally coming to life.

The Duvall Foundation of the Arts obtained the deed for the property Dec. 12 and celebrated the accomplishment most recently with the community Feb. 22. Headway on the center continues as part of a tri-party development agreement between DFA, the city of Duvall and Westcott Homes.

“We want the performing arts center to preserve and promote an artistic hub for the scope of the Valley,” said Elizabeth Hill, volunteer project manager and board member for the Duvall Foundation of the Arts. 

In a region known for heavy rainfall, Hill said there are not many indoor spaces to be used for creative opportunities in the Valley. The arts center plans to open an outdoor area this summer, which includes a trail pathway connecting the parking lot to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

The new three-story center will replace an old barn just west of State Route 203. Hill said the top floor will provide an area for performing arts, in addition to rentable space for special events.

She said the middle floor, which is located at ground level, will highlight galleries of work from local artists. Hill hinted at an informal gallery space for citizens and artists to get coffee and gather for short films, photography displays and more. A daylight basement is anticipated to allow for a kitchen, green room and dressing area, she added.

“We have so many creative people in the Snoqualmie Valley,” Hill said. “We are trying to make this space as flexible as possible because there are so many different types of creativity.”

Once all money is raised for the building, Hill said remaining construction should take 18 to 24 months. The multi-million-dollar project will be funded through various grants and donations within the community. 

King County’s 4Culture provided an abundance of funding for outdoor site improvements, Hill said. The city of Duvall, Rotary Club of Duvall and numerous local businesses have also donated time, services and money for the arts center.

Westcott Homes, the overall project owner and developer, started outdoor improvements for the center in the fall of 2018. Westcott is also building about 99 new townhomes around the property.

Hill said the city of Duvall obtained a parking lot for people attending events at the performing arts center and for pedestrians accessing the new connection to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The city also helped with road frontage improvements along SR 203, she added.

The project site now has developed roads, street lighting and proper working utilities. Now, Hill said the foundation is focused on fundraising money to complete the infrastructure.