Is it 2019 already?
Sequim and the Dungeness Valley had a busy 2018, from additions to city council to the removal of landmarks such as the Dungeness Wharf and the Sequim Community School.
Local residents came out to protest national and regional events — including the prospect of selling the John Wayne Marina to private investors.
Sequim also saw the loss of several community figures, including two former Citizens of the Year.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the region’s news and newsmakers of 2018:
Community members were shocked after receiving news that Jeri Lyn Smith, 68, likely jumped from the Elwha River Road bridge west of Port Angeles over the new year’s first weekend. Despite multi-agency searches, the body of Smith — selected Grand Marshal for the 2009 Irrigation Festival — has yet to be recovered.
City of Sequim councilors on Jan. 8 select Jennifer States, a business development manager and co-owner of Wind Rose Cellars, to fill the vacant seat following the passing of councilor John Miller in November 2017.
Trumpeter swans, an uncommon sight in the Sequim area years ago, sees local populations swell, local birders note in January.
Sequim High student Erin Gordon was crowned 2018 Irrigation Festival queen on Feb. 10; new princesses Gabi Simonson, Eden Batson and Gracelyn Hurdlow were selected to reign over the 123rd Irrigation Festival in May. Later in the year, Liliana Williams replaced Batson on the court.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported in February that Sequim’s Roosevelt Elk herd is once again being thinned due to its numbers being too high and impacting area crops.
Judy Reandeau Stipe on Feb. 28 was selected Sequim’s 2017 Citizen of Year from a field that included Gretha Davis, Dave Shreffler, Jean Wyatt and, posthumously, Robert Streett. She was picked for her years of volunteer work with Sequim Museum & Arts and other community projects
Longtime Sequim volunteer Esther Heuhslein Nelson died on March 1. Along with being named Citizen of the Year in 1996 and serving as a dignitary twice for the Irrigation Festival, Nelson volunteered for more than a dozen other groups and events.
Bob Schroeter, executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Corp., resigned effective March 2, after just 10 months on the job.
Jason Doig, a Sequim man who risked his life preventing a woman from jumping off the Hood Canal Bridge in 2017, was awarded a Carnegie Medal for his heroism on March 3.
In light of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people in February, Sequim community members and parents shared an array of opinions and options at the Sequim School Board meeting on March 5.
On March 14, Sequim students gathered outside Sequim Middle and High schools for 17 minutes, mostly in support of the National School Walkout. At the high school, about 100 students stood in-between the gym and main office at 10 a.m. promoting gun control policy with some holding signs while others sported bright orange — a color meant to send a message about gun reform. Other students held a kind of anti-protest at the same time.
A local group of parents and safety advocates formed later in the spring. The Sequim Parents for Safe Schools began raising money to fund locks being put on the inside of classroom doors, updating window coverings for school lock-downs and putting safety buckets into classrooms across the school district.
Owners and administrators for the new FM station KZQM 104.9 announced in March plans to launch the station — Sequim’s second radio station, along with the nonprofit KSQM FM 91.5 — in May, playing classic rock music from the 1960s-1980s.
Sequim developer Bill Littlejohn gets the OK from city officials on March 12 to add 20 more condos to complete the Sherwood Village project, to bring the project total to 207.
Port of Port Angeles commissioners agreed on March 13 to seek public input on the future of publicly-owned John Wayne Marina after a Bend, Ore., developer expressed interest in making an offer for the 300-slip facility east of Sequim if port officials are interested in selling it. The possibility of a marina sale drew considerable concern at a series of public meetings following the announcement across the peninsula.
In the following months, commissioners rejected plans to sell it and decided against funding $22 million in float, breakwater and piling improvements, needed by 2035, with a levy. Port officials also struggled with City of Sequim officials — who said the marina, located in the city limits, cannot be privately operated under restrictions in the city shoreline master program. The port appealed the administrative determination, prompting the city to hire a hearing examiner to adjudicate the challenge.
Sequim graduate Bristol Marunde, along with his wife Aubrey, saw “Flip or Flop Vegas” returns to the TV airwaves on March 15 for second season.
Sequim High teacher Jon Eekhoff sustained major injuries from a fall on March 17. His recovery and subsequent return to teaching becomes a regional news story.
On March 17, Sequim High students claimed the Knowledge Bowl State Championship, the school’s first since 2008.
An Irrigation Festival Grand Pioneer in 2009, Margaret Eberle Lotzgesell died March 23. That same day, Nancy Biery — a strategist and consultant whose influence was felt in political circles across the region, state and nation — died. The former Sequim resident who held a number of state-level positions and backed more than two-dozen successful political campaigns in Washington state and Hawaii died at age 63 of cancer, about two years after being diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma.
Ten students from Sequim brought home nine first place awards, one second place award and 10 specials awards from the 61st-annual Washington State Science and Engineering Fair, held March 23-24 in Bremerton.
The City of Sequim officially opened the events center kitchen at Guy Cole Events Center on March 28.
On April 1, volunteers and staff began trapping for the season in their hunt for invasive green crab, placing 41 traps in the Graveyard Spit channel and four in spit’s base lagoon near the mainland.
In early April, 11-year-old Sequim Girl Scout Paige Krzyworz of Troop 45181 earned the honor of selling the most cookies in Western Washington after selling 3,921 boxes.
The first group of its kind in Washington state, the nonprofit Sequim Wheelers received their first bike on April 25. The nonprofit group looking to make outdoors more accessible for the elderly, persons with disabilities worked regularly with several facilities in town, such as Dungeness Courte Memory Care, Sequim Health & Rehabilitation Center and Fifth Avenue Senior Living, and provided rides for individuals and other interested groups such as Clallam Mosaic.
After months of construction and detours, the McDonald Creek Bridge re-opened to traffic on May 1, re-connecting sections of Old Olympic Highway. Crews closed the 1957 bridge in July 2017 to replace it with a more stable and wider bridge; the cost was a little more than $3 million.
The North Olympic Library System board agrees to back a Sequim Library expansion project on May 9. A majority of area voters approved the measure in November but with about 58 percent of ballots cast it fell short of the required 60 percent supermajority.
Jay Radtke, a 58-year-old Sequim man, died on May 11 after the boat he was fishing on was struck by a wave and capsized near Tatoosh Island.
With a late spring heat wave warming the Sequim area, the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers group cancels annual Kids Fishing Day in mid-May. Later in the year, the group stocks the pond so youths can fish through the fall. The move proves to be so popular, the group resets Kids Fishing Day for April 2019 and will stock the pond with fish for fall months in 2019.
The Sequim community celebrates the resurrection of a waterfall at Pioneer Memorial Park with a May 16 event.
The Sequim School District on May 18 breaks ground on Sequim Community School capital project levy, one that will see new district kitchen built and tear down unused portions of the school. The ensuing project, however, displaces students at Olympic Peninsula Academy — an alternative education program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade — who moves classes temporarily to the Sequim Boys & Girls Club to start the school year in September.
Sequim High School’s 2018 graduation class receives scholarships worth more than $4.7 million, as announced at the the school’s annual Scholarship Awards event on May 30. More than $350,000 of those came from local entities such as clubs and civic groups, foundations, businesses, churches and the like.
In early June, Clallam County Public Utility District Commissioner Hugh Haffner quits PUD panel, citing “recent health concerns.” PUD commissioners Ted Simpson and Will Purser agreed to replace Haffner with David Anderson on Sept. 17.
Destinie Bernard and sisters Lily and Pearl Peterson, members of the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, traveled to Seattle on June 5 for a VIP experience with the Seattle Storm professional women’s basketball team, as a reward for exceptional behavior and leadership. There they met Storm stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird. The Storm would go on to win the 2018 WNBA championship.
With valedictorians Audrey Hughes, Kiara Pierson, Grace Tolberd and Jazz Weller leading the way, Sequim High School sees about 190 seniors earn their high school diplomas on June 11.
Sequim Service Fest, a first-of-its-kind event where volunteers removed debris, painted exteriors, and much more across the city, was held from June 4-15.
In mid-June, a $2.9 million capital campaign was launched with an aim to expand the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park.
Olympic Peninsula native Magan Waldron took top honors at the Mrs. Washington America pageant on June 23 in Olympia.
Sequim School board directors voted on June 26 to not extend superintendent Gary Neal’s contract.
Pickleball courts opened at Sequim’s Carrie Blake Community Park on June 28. The new eight-court facility is the culmination of a three-year effort to bring them to the area. A ribbon cutting on July 25 featured pickleball co-founder Barney McCallum.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Elaine Grinnell was one of four people across the nation to earn the First Peoples Fund’s Community Spirit Award for 2018, because of her dedication to passing down the tribe’s traditions through storytelling, drum making, basketry and cooking. She was honored in Blyn on June 30.
Famed Sequim photographer Ross Hamilton marries Kathy Barnes on July 1 — six decades after the two met.
Sequim resident David Price was one of 11 survivors of a July 10 plane crash in Alaska. The owner of Price Ford in Port Angeles, Price and his brother were on a charter flight about 40 miles from Ketchikan, Alaska, when the float plane crashed on Mount Jumbo on Prince Wales Island.
The Sequim City Council picked salon owner William Armacost for its newest member on July 23. Armacost was selected to fill the vacant city council position left by Pam Leonard-Ray, who resigned in May.
Sequim native Richard Rogers was cast as one of 12 contestants in the new ABC Television series “Castaways”; the show premiered Aug. 7.
Nathan A. Chavez of Sequim, 32, was sentenced on Aug. 9 to 11 1⁄2 years in prison, followed by 36 months of community custody, for rape of minors.
City of Sequim staff announced plans on Aug. 13 to purchase 19 solar powered radar speed signs to place around Sequim.
In mid-August, staff with the Sequim Community Warming Center began looking for new space after Serenity House Clallam County was no longer able to accommodate the seasonal shelter. In October, however, the warming center — which provides shelter for area residents to get in out of cold on nights with consecutive temperatures of 36 degrees or below — found a new home at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
In late August, Ian Mackay completed 13-day journey on an electric wheelchair from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to his Agnew home.
Also in late August, Shelli Robb-Kahler announced her resignation of executive director of Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce after seven-year tenure. In September, the board selected Anji Scalf to succeed Robb-Kahler.
Sequim resident Tim Finch found a desecrated human skull on Labor Day. Finsch reportedly found the skull attached to a stake and bobbing at the tide line about a quarter mile from the Port Williams boat launch. The skull was then sent to the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to determine if it is of Native American origin.
After Washington State Department of Health linked two cases of E. coli to Sequim’s Dungeness Valley Creamery on Sept. 7, the Washington State Department of Agriculture said results the following day showed E. coli was not found in random product samples from the farm.
On Sept. 10, a five-year operation to move Olympic National Park’s mountain goats back to their native habitat in the North Cascades began. Leading Edge Aviation, park staff, veterinarians and officials from other agencies started operations to move as many of the estimated 700 mountain goats as possible — an effort that includes helicopters, tranquilizer darts, nets and refrigerated trucks.
John Wayne Marina and the Sequim Bay Yacht Club hosts the first-ever Waterfront Day in conjunction with the annual Reach for Hospice fundraiser on Sept. 15.
The North Olympic Land Trust honors Scott Chichester as its Farmer of the Year for 2018 at a Sept. 16 event.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund in September threatened to sue the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, alleging the facility keeps animals — including lions, tigers, bears, gray wolves and Canada lynx — in substandard and cramped conditions in violation of the Endangered Species Act and state animal cruelty laws. On Dec. 18, the advocacy organization made good on its threat with a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tacoma.
Sequim Police began investigating thefts/burglaries at Sequim Food Bank. Stephen Rosales, board president for the food bank, said in mid-October that food was stolen from the facility’s delivery truck along with food and equipment from the facility’s buildings, with at least four incidents in the past three weeks.
The creosote-laden pilings marking the remnants of the Dungeness Wharf are removed, making way for improved habitat for salmon, other sea-going creatures and peninsula residents. The three-day removal, finished on Oct. 10, was part of initial plans in the Three Crabs Estuarine and Nearshore Restoration Project that removed infrastructure, fill and armoring at the site of the former 3 Crabs Restaurant
Security Services Northwest, Inc., based in Sequim, provided a special security detail for Chelsea Clinton — daughter of former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hilary Clinton — for her book signing event in Seattle on Oct. 24.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) and Lantern Entertainment announced on Oct. 30 they are partnering to develop, finance, produce and distribute “Boys in the Boat,” a feature film telling the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-man crew team that overcame nearly impossible odds to win the Olympic Games gold medal. The film will be based on The New York Times bestselling non-fiction book “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown, a story that revolves predominantly around former Sequim resident Joe Rantz.
Sequim’s first Oxford House opens on Nov. 1. One of many in Washington state that serves as a self-sufficient recovery house for substance abusers that provides a chance for individuals to maintain a clean and sober way of life. Sequim’s facility is dubbed, “Oxford House Rainshadow.”
As Olympic Medical Center leaders warned, cuts in reimbursements from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are moving forward next year and will significantly impact the hospital. OMC CEO Eric Lewis said on Nov. 2 he learned of CMS’s approval for cutting 60 percent of reimbursements to off-site hospital outpatient departments, such as Sequim’s campus and the Primary Care Clinic in Port Angeles, which are both more than 250 yards from their main hospital — in this case OMC’s main hospital in Port Angeles. OMC staff estimate cuts will cost the hospital $3.4 million over two years and up to $47 million over the next decade.
Later in the month, Olympic Medical Center announced they are preparing to sue the federal government over its cuts to Medicare reimbursements for off-site clinics. The hospital’s board of commissioners unanimously decided to join the American Hospital Association’s lawsuit against the federal Department of Health and Human Services CMS’s cuts.
Incumbents in nearly all local races held their seats in the Nov. 6 Clallam County general election, including those for Clallam County commissioner, prosecuting attorney, sheriff and director of community development.
Two of three Sequim-area measures — Clallam Fire District 3’s levy lid lift and the City of Sequim’s Transportation Benefit District levy — both passed while the Sequim Library expansion proposition failed to meet a required supermajority.
Gerilee Gustason, a long-time advocate for deaf children and adults, died on Nov. 9. A professor, researcher and author, Gustason was best known for “Signing Exact English” (SEE) — which she co-authored with colleague/friend Esther Zawolkow — a sign language system designed to be an exact representation of English vocabulary and grammar.
Staff with the Boys & Girls Club of the Olympic Peninsula reported its 30th annual auction broke several records on Nov. 10. With the theme “Adventures in the Northwest,” the event saw about 400 guests raise $326,000 for the Sequim and Port Angeles’ clubs’ general operations in Sequim’s Carroll C. Kendall unit.
The Sequim Bee Farm won big bucks, as Meg DePew and her husband Buddy received $20,000 from Kitsap Bank’s fifth annual edg3 FUND small business competition on Nov. 15. The competition judges based their decision on how each business helps its community economically, socially, and environmentally.
In late November, Jaye Moore of Northwest Raptor and Wildlife Center in Sequim announced the expected closure of the facility by end of year. The center is home to injured birds on the North Olympic Peninsula, from pigeons to bald eagles, for more than 30 years.
In early December, former Clallam County employee Tina Hendrickson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against county Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols was settled in an agreement under which Hendrickson will be paid $350,000.
After an insanity evaluation was filed in November, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer on Dec. 7 scheduled a two- to three-week trial for 19-year-old Benjamin G. Bonner, to begin Feb. 25. A state psychiatrist determined that evidence of Bonner’s legal sanity at the time of Sequim resident Cynthia Little’s death is mixed and should be left to a jury.
The City of Sequim and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe come to a wastewater agreement that would connect the tribe’s Blyn facilities to the city’s treatment facility. City councilors approve the plan on Dec. 10. Tribal Council Chairman W. Ron Allen said he anticipates the project breaking ground in February 2019 at a cost of about $8.5 million.
A severe windstorm rips through Sequim, Clallam County on Dec. 14. Winds reached upwards of 65 miles per hour in Port Angeles and nearly 30 mph in the Sequim area. Several large trees are knocked over — including Sequim’s downtown Christmas tree — but there are no reports of major injuries.
Walt Schubert, former Sequim mayor, Citizen of the Year and longtime advocate for Sequim youth, died on Dec. 22 from complications from congestive heart failure.