October 22, 2001
Grace goes cyber
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Thousands of people ogle tulips in the Skagit Valley each year not realizing there's something much better to view in a town north of Woodinville called Grace.
Just a hop, skip and jump over the railroad tracks, the small township features many points of interest. But none more lovely than Scotch Broom Park.
Every spring, the park's fields of invasive plants dazzle visitors in a wash of bright yellow. At least it dazzles those visitors who can find it. The location is actually known only to a few. But that's life in Grace where nothing stays put like the town's movable parking meter.
However, the physical location of Grace does stay put, at least most of the time. Its borders fall somewhere between Highway 9 and State Route 522.
Auto parts stores, steel fabrication shops and self-storage warehouses operate thriving businesses there. The town boasts a real city sign, a real (friendly) mayor and a real hometown newspaper. But that's where the tangible world ends because Grace also lies in the imagination.
The town's fluctuation between reality and fantasy makes it hard to tell which is real and which is not. One thing is for certain. In Grace anything can happen.
So it isn't with sadness that Woodinville's neighbor announced plans to shut down its venerable newspaper, The Greater Grace Gazette.
"We anticipate one more edition as soon as we find a long enough roll of newsprint," says John Hughes, editor and co-publisher. The monthly publication first rolled off the presses in August 1992. And though the printing press will punch out one final edition, this isn't the end for the only newspaper Grace has ever known.
Actually, it's a brand new beginning. Under the creation and design of Hughes and with the help of special technical consultant Jon Adams, the Gazette goes cyber within the next month. For the 1,300 Gazette subscribers who own a computer, they will not miss a beat or a laugh.
The cyber copy will carry on with all the outrageous Grace humor and clever witticisms it's known for. After all, the town's motto claims that Grace is, "where having fun is serious business."
But no one has to wait until the first edition appears on the Internet before plugging into Grace's new site.
According to the town's mayor-for-life, Terry Jarvis, the Web site continues to be under perpetual construction. Says Jarvis, "It's up and working. It's a functioning, vibrant living site. It's full of pizazz and (yes!) grace."
Those who drop in at the Grace Web site will be treated to wry amusement and wild color like one might see through a kaleidoscope after having downed several glasses of wine.
A virtual tour is on hand for those wanting to take in the full Grace experience and don't feel up to getting off their chair. There's information on who's who in Grace and the low-down on Grace wannabes.
"We're contemplating having daily reports on our observations regarding the development and future of Brightwater at Grace," says Hughes.
Grace is currently being considered as a future site for the regional wastewater treatment facility called Brightwater, and Hughes and Jarvis have a watchful eye on the siting process.
They're concerned about the harm the facility may cause to Grace's tourism industry, but they hide their worry with lighthearted humor. They've already named the potential site, "Flushing Meadows."
They say they plan to open a waterworks bottling plant next door and call it 'Sparkling Springs Water.'
Jarvis smiles and says in true Graceian humor, "People are lining up in hopes of getting that franchise. That's going to be the newest growth industry. It'll be sold in multicolored glass bottles from Spectrum Glass."
However, he does not jest when he mentions that the town's vineyard (planted outside his store, Vintage Auto Parts,) will not be affected by gray water.
The plants, he says, are knee-high and on target for harvest in 2003. The Grace vineyard has been under the care of an Oregon vineyardist since last spring.
People have already put money down to purchase bottles of the rare Pinot Noir wine that will be pressed from Grace grapes. Proceeds benefit the Woodinville Rotary Club community service projects.
In the meantime, co-publishers Hughes and Jarvis look forward to informing their subscribers, who are spread out over six nations, on the latest news in and out of Grace. Says Hughes, "We want people to e-mail us so we can include them on our distribution list for e-mail updates. That way, they'll get first crack at our special bulldog editions."
Jarvis asks that people send in their annual Gazette subscription price to cover the Web site costs. The charge continues to be $10 for new subscribers, $11 for those who cancel and $12 for a change of address.
For further information, take a trip to Grace at www.townofgrace.org.