December 28, 1998
The year 1998, especially in the early months, brought big city troubles and negative publicity to the Valley cities, but there was plenty of good news around to offset the bad.
The beginning of the year brought hopeful news for the small community of Preston. King County announced it had purchased the historic Preston Mill site, thereby saving it from becoming a victim of industrial development. The purchase was part of the Preston Vision, a long-term plan for the revitalization of the Preston community.
Farther north, revitalization was on the minds of members of Duvall's Arts Commission, as well. In mid-January, plans were unveiled for the moving and remodeling of the historic Thayer Barn, on the south end of town. Recently, though, problems have arisen regarding the development of the property the barn sits on, which could spell doom for the barn.
Duvall also began 1998 with an empty council seat. Councilmember Ernie Zumwalt was automatically ousted from his position after a January conviction on charges of possessing and selling cocaine. Zumwalt, who maintained his innocence, was sentenced to three years in prison for the conviction but remains free on appeal. He did admit in court to using drugs in the past.
Although Zumwalt was unopposed in the past election, 17 residents applied for his council position.
January was also the month when Medalia Healthcare, Duvall's only physicians' office, closed its doors.
On a lighter note, in January, Alana McCoy was named Duvall Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year for her active involvement in town activities, and a group of Cedarcrest High School artists found their work good enough to be entered in State competition.
Then came February, when all appeared well, except in Carnation. The city began unraveling from the top down when investigations by the FBI, King County Sheriff, and town officials were initiated into possible police misconduct.
Police Chief Gunnar Otness and officer Frank Sloan were placed on administrative leave. Neither one returned. Mayor Jack Stein was unreachable. He resigned in early March, citing "threats to family members" and was replaced in May by David Hunter. Then Hunter decided the city needed a new city administrator when Randy Suko agreed in mid-year that he was not up to the challenges the city faced.
And in Duvall that month, Mark Cole was appointed to fill Ernie Zumwalt's council position.
In March, Cathy Cushman, a third grade teacher at Stillwater Elementary, was named to the Association of Science-Technology Center's 1998 Honor Roll of Teachers. Also that month, Cedarcrest High School became a satellite campus of Bellevue Community College and residents became concerned that a new freeway could bisect the Snoqualmie Valley.
April was the month Valley youth got together at a summit. They decided the area needed a skate park/bike track which they are continuing to work on.
In Duvall that month, city engineer Ken McDowell quit, telling the council he felt his decisions were being undermined by the mayor. In Carnation, King County Sheriff's Sgt. D.J. Nesel became interim chief.
May saw a victory by the Novelty Neighbors, a group of Valley residents fighting a proposed gravel pit south of Duvall, when the Growth Management Board dismissed an appeal by the landowners of the proposed pit.
Late in May, King County Executive Ron Sims opened Preston Mill Park, announcing that he recommended a park master plan be developed beginning in 1999.
June was a month for concern for Duvall business owners, who worried that a city Park & Ride planned for an area just north of the Woodinville-Duvall Bridge, would destroy needed parking.
Concern also brought out the best in local residents, after an uninsured local man was diagnosed with bone cancer. The Valley community rallied around Mark Heyting and his family with fund-raisers to help pay for a blood stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, Heyting lost his battle with the cancer later in the year.
A startling discovery came in July, when ancient tools were unearthed at a site being prepared for a new water filtration plant east of Duvall. Snoqualmie Tribal members said the site was located in "the heartland" of their people. Archeologists worked the site until the end of October, collecting dozens of boxes of stone tools thought to be 8,000 years old.
In August, Duvall celebrated 85 years of incorporation and Riverview officials decided to try again to pass another athletic fields bond measure.
In September, contract talks began in earnest for Riverview teachers and classified employees.
In October, an arsonist struck the Fall City area, torching a home, a shed, and several cars. A week later, Duvall police Officer Mark Leitl arrested the suspect as he tried to pass a bad check at the Duvall Seafirst Bank.
In November, the Riverview Athletic Bond failed, but police and fire services levies passed. Also that month, two North Bend teens were killed in separate, tragic accidents. November also brought wind, rain, and flooding to the Valley.
In early December, Riverview teachers threatened to strike Jan. 7 if contract issues were not resolved. But by mid-month, the Riverview District announced agreements had been made with both the teachers and the classified employees, a relief for all.
And during the week before Christmas, optimism reigned in Carnation as the city voted to contract with King County for police services, and to hire Woody Edvalson as the new city administrator.