News

2007 TOP STORIES

Development may have hit a small lull in 2007, but open-space preservation stayed strong.

The Friends of the Fields and the North Olympic Land Trust encouraged landowners throughout the county to consider selling development rights on their land to keep habitat, open space and agricultural practices a mainstay in the area.

The two groups worked together in May to utilize Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation grant dollars to purchase development rights on two agriculturally active parcels of land near Sequim - 41 acres that Gary Smith leases for Maple View Farm and the 38-acre Dungeness Valley Creamery.

The creamery, one of the last few dairy operations in the county, mostly deals with whole milk, making deliveries as far as Olympia. A few acres were set aside for an additional structure for the farm or the Brown family that owns the farm and land.

When the development rights are purchased, a conservation easement is placed on the land, which usually prohibits any type of development with occasional exceptions for individual farm or family structures. Easements are uniquely formed to each type of property.

In May, the land trust also helped Steve Johnson, owner of Lazy J Tree Farm, to gain additional conservation protections on his land. Johnson protects the section of Siebert Creek that runs through his property, which is known to hold both salmon and steelhead.

Ron and Donna Raven entered into an agreement with the land trust, in September, protecting nearly 14 acres of their land near the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Protections for the upland habitat will stand in perpetuity on the land's title.

Most recently, in December, local developer Bill Littlejohn helped orchestrate the preservation of 40 acres of farmland that he owns on Medsker Road. The agreement ensures the parcel will remain undeveloped. Littlejohn bought the land from a developer who was selling the topsoil commercially, literally shaving the landscape away. It took nearly three years for Littlejohn to rehabilitate the land into an operating hayfield. Even if agriculture is no longer an option, the land must remain an open space.

For more information on the North Olympic Land Trust, visit northolympiclandtrust.org and to learn more about the Friends of the Fields, visit www.friendsofthefields.org.





Sequim aims toward more open space

Gardens, parks and pedestrian-friendly plans graced Sequim City Council agendas throughout 2007, hinting at a greener municipality in years to come.

Mayor Walt Schubert created a Blue Ribbon Task Force to search out potential park sites and greenways to provide more open spaces throughout the city.

Recommendations from the task force included acquiring land or easements for an interconnected trail system throughout the area, tying together city centers, parks and the Olympic Discovery Trail. Proposals included setting aside land and using environmental buffers along Bell Creek for a trail as well as purchasing land for neighborhood parks in areas of the city without nearby parks.

After identifying potential projects to increase open space, the task force identified funding mechanisms to make the ideas into realities.

For years the city has required developers to set aside a percentage of their land as open space or pay a fee in lieu of the requirement. The task force recommended only requiring the "in lieu" fee, a proposal adopted by the city council.

Earlier in 2007, Anton and Rosa Gerhardt dedicated their homestead to the city to be kept as a passive-use park for generations to come. The couple committed more than seven acres of land at the intersection of Third Avenue and Reservoir Road, an exciting addition to the city's parkland according to Schubert.

The city was negotiating for a second park acquisition in the southeast part of town, but a new valuation of the 45-acre homestead placed the property out of the city's price range.

While the city was pursuing new tracts of parkland, two community groups were eyeing acres in the Water Reuse Demonstration Site next to Carrie Blake Park.

The Master Gardeners of the Olympics and the Sequim City Band submitted proposals for improving sections of the park in late July, causing the Parks Advisory Board to implement steps toward creating a master plan for the site.

The master plan will be phased, the first of which includes both organizations' proposals.

The Master Gardeners plan to move their demonstration garden from its current site in the county on Woodcock Road to the reuse site between the bandstand and Blake Avenue. The organization will fund the construction of a small building and the installation of the garden itself. The city has agreed to irrigate the garden and construct public restrooms.

The Sequim City Band has an ambitious plan to expand on the James Center bandstand by constructing a 500-seat indoor auditorium adjacent to the existing structure. At first, there was a conflict in the two projects' footprints, but the groups adjusted their plans to make room for each other.





OTA shuts down building, not spirit

The city of Sequim shut down Olympic Theatre Arts Center in March, but the nonprofit group didn't let that slow them down.

According to Jim Bay, director of public works, the building had to be shut down due to construction being done while crowds of people were rehearsing for, and enjoying, performances.

"They are doing demolition work while they are doing performances and that's not safe," Bay said. "I explained to them they don't have a demo permit, a set of plans, a sprinkler system or fire protection, to name just a few things."

Elaine Caldwell, Phase III coordinator, said the whole ordeal was a misunderstanding.

"Somehow there must have been a miscommunication, because we really thought we were OK," she said.

Then, in April, OTA administrators said they were "caught off guard" when some "unexpected" changes in requirements for occupancy, including more bathroom stalls, handicap ramps and wider doors. The group revised plans, and turned them over to Bay.

Bay, who said he enjoys "amazing plays" that OTA produces, said he would agree to work overtime to assist with finishing the project.

"I'll do whatever I can to help them," said Bay, who follows a large, complicated set

of rules called the International Building Code. "I want to help them get the permit as fast as they can. Unfortunately, I'm not the guy who says you can or cannot build this."

Instead, Bay said that he enforces what is already written in the building code, and there are "pretty strict ramifications for people or cities that don't follow it."

He also explained that the requirements change as plans change: If planned occupancy increases, so do the number of amenities required by law.

Performances of various plays continued throughout the year, often at the Sequim High School auditorium.



OMC opens medical services building

The small shift from future to present tense can be an exciting event, especially with a construction project that's been in the works for three and a half years. On June 4, Olympic Medical Center's medical services building opened its doors to patients on the Sequim campus

To the right of the main entry is the 10,000-square-foot imaging department providing services in mammography, ultrasound, bone densitometry, general X-ray, CT and MRI scanning.

Farther down the hall a new digital X-ray machine allows images to be uploaded to OMC's system immediately. Radiology technicians and radiologists can read images and consult with patients on site. There's also a fluoroscopy room with an attached bathroom, spacious CT suite and the mammoth MRI scanner, all with an extra measure of protection for technicians and patients. Down the hall is the laboratory with a little more than twice the space it had in the Sequim Medical Plaza.

Occupying a portion of the north side is Olympic Medical Physicians Specialty Clinic. Other OMP specialists can "book" office time and space to see their Sequim patients but still will be based in Port Angeles.

The biggest change in quarters is in cardiac services and cardiopulmonary rehab in the northeast corner, which grew from one 80-square-foot room to a complete unit of 3,800 square feet.

Features of the one-stop-shop cardiopulmonary unit include designated areas for blood pressure checks, pulmonary function tests, EKGs and real-time echocardiograms with a nuclear camera. It cuts procedure time and patient discomfort from 40 minutes to about nine minutes.

The price tag? For the construction only by Primo Construction of Sequim - $12 million; an estimated $2.5 million for medical equipment and $300,000 for furnishings, including office equipment.





Piped ditches save river water

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Water Users Association, in conjunction with the Clallam Conservation District, piped 17 miles of open Clallam and Cline Irrigation ditches this year.

The project is committed to reducing the amount of irrigation water going into the system by six cubic feet per second, but will likely conserve more than the initial estimate.

The irrigation districts take their water supplies directly from the Dungeness River. The river becomes less stressed for water during the dry season after ditches formerly open to the ground and sun are piped.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is presently forming "instream flow" rules, slated for completion by summer 2008, which will ultimately give the stream its own water right. Other regulations are likely to come from the process, which is based on the Water Resource Inventory Area study done in 2005.

Water conservation, a major component of the study, is being heavily encouraged by Ecology, which was a main driver for the piping project. The Clallam Conservation District won the Conservation of the Year Award for its work in 2007, a great deal of which dealt with the piping project.

Some neighbors to the irrigation lines were upset about the change in their landscape or the level of work performed by the contracted workers, but legally the ditches were easements managed by the different irrigation districts that stretched grant dollars to get nearly every mile of working ditch piped.

In the spring, as the piping project was getting under way, Clallam County began looking into ways to store water during the river's high-flow period to later flood abandoned irrigation ditches in Carlsborg to recharge the aquifer.

The artificial recharge test was an attempt to offset impacts the piping project may have on the shallow aquifer. Without the ability to soak into the soil, the piped water no longer helps recharge the water table where homeowners often have wells placed for household use. The project showed initial signs of effectiveness, but research will likely continue through 2008.

For more conservation district information, visit clallam.scc.wa.gov and for more information on Ecology's Dungeness watershed planning, visit www.ecy.wa.gov/apps/watersheds/

planning/18.html.





Lighthouse association celebrates anniversary

If Henry Blake, the first official keeper of the New Dungeness Lighthouse, were here today, he might be surprised that his name remains tied to it and the U.S. Coast Guard in 2007 - 150 years after his service. As part of the lighthouse's sesquicentennial celebration, the New Dungeness Light Station Association invited the public to tour the Coast Guard Cutter Henry Blake (WLM 563) docked in Port Angeles Harbor on Aug. 2 and to join in a community picnic Aug. 5 in Sequim. The Henry Blake, commissioned in 2000, is a buoy tender that's responsible for the maintenance of about 250 navigational aids.

The picnic Sunday drew a steady crowd at Pioneer Park, the festivities beginning with a smudging ceremony honoring the four directions by Jamestown S'Klallam members Patrick Adams and Patsy Adams, whose ancestors first inhabited the spit. Light station association president Johan Van Nimwegen introduced board members and accepted a plaque signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire listing the New Dungeness Light Station on the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places. Philip Dobson of Olympia, great-great-great-great-grandson of Konrad Schneider, the master mason who built the 100-foot lighthouse in 1856-57 with double-width brick walls, praised and thanked the association for its efforts.

"The picnic went excellently," Van Nimwegen said, "because it raised the awareness of the light in the community. A goal I've been striving for is to increase awareness about the light on the Olympic Peninsula because two-thirds of our members are outside of the area. It was very good PR for the lighthouse."

The NDLSA also had a successful first fundraising dinner/auction on Dec. 1 with proceeds of about $15,000 targeted for replacing a marine electrical cable to the light station.



SHS seniors graduate outdoors; first time in history

From the setting of the sun as the seniors received their diplomas to the valedictorian dressing up as Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech, Sequim High School's class of 2007 had a graduation ceremony that will be hard to top in the following years.

For the first time in history, the purple gown clad graduates set off for the "real world" in an outdoor setting, after fighting hard for the opportunity.

In March, members of the senior class, including president Anna Fox, presented the school board with a petition of 110 signatures from their class and their families requesting superintendent Garn Christensen reconsider his decision on holding graduation inside the gymnasium. Fox said an informal survey handed out in a history class showed that 98 students preferred to have graduation outdoors, while six favored having it inside.

The school board approved the decision, and the seniors managed to clear obstacles, including the necessity for an outdoor sound system. Even the weather cooperated, and the class of 2007 graduated in the sunshine.

As approximately 200 students received their diplomas, family members and friends huddled under blankets and jackets in the stands, cheering loudly or crying and hugging.

"Enjoy each other and the memory of tonight," said Langston at the ceremony. "Congratulations."



Sequim's Strongman dies at 27

He was Sequim's Hercules, a broad-shouldered giant with a broad smile and a heart big enough to give a piece of it to anyone he'd meet.

Family members say Jesse Marunde was exactly the same at home as he was on the world stage: strong, kind and generous in all things to the end.

A nationally ranked Strongman competitor and father of two, Marunde died July 25 after a workout at a gymnasium in Sequim.

He was 27.

An autopsy confirmed Marunde died from an enlarged heart condition known as hypertrophic myocardium, a rare genetic disease.

At 6 feet, 5 inches and more than 300 pounds, Marunde towered above most friends and neighbors in his Sequim hometown. He became a dominating figure in Strongman competitions across the country and the world, finishing second in the 2005 MetRx World's Strongest Man.

He also ran a gym in town with his wife, Callie, and was personal trainer and workout partner for dozens of locals. He brought top athletes to

Sequim for a Strongman competition at the Irrigation Festival each year.

To the delight of fans and onlookers, he signed autographs, posed for pictures, answered queries. He made connections not only at strength shows but around town and Sundays at Sequim Community Church, inspiring everyone from young children to his own 88-year-old great-grandmother.

Jesse is survived by his wife, Callie; their infant daughter Jessica Joy "JJ"; his 8-year-old son Dawson from a previous marriage; mother, Gigi and father Chuck; brothers Bristol and Brady; sister Sabrina, grandparents George and Pat Farren and Glen and Dorothy Marunde and a host of friends and relatives.

Born Jesse Dawson Marunde Sept. 14, 1979, in Glennallan, Alaska, he grew up a hunter and fisherman, breaking into commercial fishing by age 8. He claimed some of his early grip strength from working those fishing nets.

His death sent shock throughout the Strongman and weightlifting community within hours, filling numerous message boards with comments raging from utter shock to pain and grief, and often all three.



Plans unveiled for new

hotel on East Washington

When the Quality Inn opened on River Road early last year, sales and marketing manager Damian Humphries got a lot of feedback and suggestions from the public.

"We listened to what people suggested and what people wanted," he said. Humphries and his team took those suggestions seriously - and have plans to open a brand new Holiday Inn Express on East Washington Street near Simdars Road by summer of next year.

While the blueprints for the hotel, which is slated for a Memorial Day 2008 grand opening, boast big plans - an adjoining Black Bear Diner, a roof-top sun terrace and a pool with a retractable roof - Humphries said that the idea behind the hotel is much simpler.

"We built this based on customer service and community," he said of the nearly 3.7-acre Holiday Inn Express. "We have a responsibility not only to the guests, but to the community and small businesses. If we price gouge, guests are not going to spend as much money on all the businesses around (the hotel)."

Humphries said because of the success of the Quality Inn it made sense to have a branded hotel at both ends of town.

"It will benefit travelers coming into town from the east," Humphries said.

Humphries expects the hotel and restaurant will generate about 40 new jobs. He said the company will work with the Skill Center and Peninsula College in the hiring process.

"We want to teach them about customer service," he said.

The Black Bear Diner, based out of Shasta, Calif., will incorporate a local flavor by purchasing fresh produce grown on the North Olympic Peninsula as well as fish from local venders.

"We will look to the community for a local flavor," Humphries said.

The Holiday Inn Express, which will be run by Quality Inn general manager Nancy Schade, is expected to have a 200- to 250-person meeting room, a plan that was added after speaking with members of the community, said Humphries.

"Many people's whole view of Sequim is of the employees of the hotel they stay at," said Humphries. "If we deliver high standards, people will come back, and if they come back we benefit and Sequim benefits."



Clallam close to adopting septic code

After more than a year's preparation, the Clallam County Board of Health is getting ready to adopt on-site sewage system rules that will dramatically affect sewage management in the county.

However, health authorities need to make sure the draft code will meet the state's requirements. The adoption of the code will likely happen early in 2008.

The On-Site Septic System Work Group, a consortium of professionals and citizens including health officials, home- owners, septic system installers, real estate representatives and environmental advocates drafted the rules.

The group began meeting in October 2006 to construct a plan for establishing and implementing on-site sewer regulations. The county, like others in the state, was mandated to create regulations regarding on-site sewer systems due to the growing concerns related to water quality and aging or failing systems.

Generally the group stayed within the state's recommendations, rarely taking regulations a step further.

The code would require home- owners with a gravity-fed system to have their tanks inspected every three years. Those with any other type of system need to have it checked annually. Homeowners will have the ability to check their own system after taking a county-certified class with a few exceptions, such as if the system is not in the county's records.

One foreseeable problem with the regulation is the potential financial burden on county residents on fixed incomes. Aside from the potential costs associated with replacing or fixing a failing system, homeowners may need to pay a professional for general inspections if they are unable to do inspections themselves. There is also a possibility the county will need to assess some sort of revenue from homeowners to cover the costs of its new obligations under the code, such as inventorying qualified inspectors and recording the status of all on-site systems in the county.

The state has not promised any funding for the implementation of the on-site system regulations, but the county is searching every possible aspect before dedicating itself to assessing homeowners.

Health officials have filed for a grant from the state Department of Ecology for implementation of the plan, but the county will not hear back about the grant until April 2008.

The text of the code, as well as a list of frequently asked questions, is available on the county's Web site, www.clallam.net, under current issues.





Slowly but surely, WASL math scores are improving

Sequim School District received some pleasant news this year when Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores came in -

Sequim students were better than state average in the generally low-scoring subjects of math and science.

"Historically, math and science (scores) have not been going well," Sequim Middle School Principal Brian Jones said at the end of the 2006-2007 school year. In 2007, Jones and the middle school faculty and staff had proposed to change the school day from seven class periods to five in order to give equal time to math and science courses as is given to language arts and social studies courses. After parents and students became concerned about losing instruction time for electives such as art, a six-period compromise was reached.

Stuart McColl, who was defeated for a school board position by incumbent Sarah Bedinger in November, said he may have the answer to improving WASL scores in those subjects. McColl pushed to ban calculator use in the elementary schools to improve basic math skills that can be carried on to the middle and high school levels.

"The kids in this community are mathematically deficient," McColl said. "The middle school teachers are asking for this ... they are tired of receiving elementary school students that are not prepared."

Jones said the teachers have not spoken to him about any such proposal and a "calculator law" is not in the works.

Sequim High School math teacher Brian Berg said that he agrees that basic math skills are needed - but is not sure a calculator ban is the best way.

"I understand (McColl's) concern and agree with it ... but banning calculators is not the way," said Berg. "I think there is always a need for basic arithmetic skills without a calculator ... but it also limits the amount of problems (teachers) can give students."

"We haven't gotten any data that suggests that the presence of calculators in elementary schools has any negative effect on math performance or WASL scores," added Sequim school board member Walt Johnson.

New superintendent Bill Bentley said that improving WASL math scores does not have a "single, simple answer" but that increasing performance is always being looked at.

"We feel very good about the improvement," Bentley said.





Peninsula College longhouse

opens up to public

Dark clouds looming above the trees threatened to ruin the celebration, but Makah tribal members Lester Green and Pat Johns didn't let that stop them from beating drums and singing a welcome song to call their ancestors.

"We want them to be here for this," said Green.

"This" was the opening of the Peninsula College Longhouse cultural center on Oct. 15, and as the two played, a large crowd risked the weather and gathered outdoors on campus.

At the entrance of the nearly 3,000-square-foot Longhouse, which according to builder Walt Darymple of Aldergrove Construction, took about eight months to build, stands a 12-foot-tall gateway sculpture that reads "House of Learning" in both a native S'Klallam language and English. The gateway, made of old-growth red cedar, was a donation by the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe to Peninsula College for the Longhouse.

The name is fitting, as education is the unofficial theme of the center that features art exhibits donated by individuals and tribes, and areas where visitors can learn about native history and celebrate Indian culture.

"The Longhouse is about learning," said Peninsula College president Dr. Thomas Keegan at the grand opening. "Just as importantly, it's about building relationships between ... the college and the tribal elders and between the college and tribal youth. (That's why) this is a wonderful day."

The tribal representatives all stressed the importance of education when addressing the crowd and said the completion of the longhouse would encourage Indian youths to attend higher education.

"I think this will increase the number of (Indian) students who want to experience educational success," said Harry Fulton, Port Gamble S'Klallam tribal council vice chairman.

Jamestown S'Klallam tribal vice chairwoman Liz Mueller, who told the audience that the entire Jamestown tribal council had attended Peninsula College, said education and retaining culture go hand-in-hand, and she believes that is what will strengthen everyone.

"You need to hold education in one hand and you need to hold your culture in the other," Mueller said. "And that's what makes us a strong people."





Irrigation Festival float

goes up in smoke



With 14 parades under its tires and three more to go, the Sequim Irrigation Festival float caught fire and was destroyed on the way home from the Hoquiam Loggers Play Day parade Sept. 8.

Drivers Joe and Tawana Borden stopped for a bathroom break at a rest stop next to Dosewallips State Park - followed by Al and Hattie Dixon, Tom Angier and the royal court in support vehicles - when the group noticed a "strange smoke smell" and saw black smoke coming from the trailer.

No foul play was suspected.

According to Dixon, firefighters put out the blaze and attributed the fire to an electrical short in the float's cockpit that created a spark and set the spare tire on fire.

The float was completely destroyed but the trailer was salvageable. The Irrigation Festival float also faced problems at Seafair in Seattle last July when a broken fan belt caused the float's engine to overheat during the parade, forcing the royal court to walk. The girls won the Spirit Award for their efforts.

The Irrigation Festival float won numerous awards earlier in the season, including first place in the Tacoma Daffodil Parade, the Governor's Award in the Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival parade, first place for Best in Show at Victoria Days, the President's Award at the Marysville Strawberry Festival, the Queen's Award at the Port Orchard Fathoms of Fun and the Grand Sweepstakes Award at the Forks Fourth of July parade.



We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 27 edition online now. Browse the archives.