A historic snowfall, new leader for Sequim schools, a major victory for Clallam County health care providers and the loss of several major community advocates.
Sequim had a busy 2019 to close out the decade, but few stories made more headlines than a story that figures to get prominent attention in 2020: the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility. Hundreds came out to Sequim City Council meetings to oppose the plan, many of them organizing the grassroots Save Our Sequim (SOS) group led by Jefferson County resident Jodi Wilke. Other groups such as the Voices for Health and Healing formed to support the tribe’s proposal, one that looks to be officially filed with city staff in January 2020.
Here’s a quick look back at other stories that made headlines throughout 2019:
Sequim Police investigated the Jan. 2 death of Sunbelt Apartment resident Valerie Claplanhoo. An autopsy later revealed she’d been killed with a knife or other sharp weapon or object that caused deadly injuries to her head and neck. No arrest has yet been made in the incident.
The discussion about ownership and management of Sequim’s John Wayne Marina heated up. Ethan Wayne, president of John Wayne Enterprises, informed the Port of Port Angeles on Jan. 3 that the firm opposes the marina being owned by any entity other than the port.
Pearl Harbor survivor Roy D. Carter of Sequim died on Jan. 3.
A partial government shutdown prevented access to Hurricane Ridge — and numerous winter sports activities — for about a month.
An online campaign to help hospitalized baby Gerald Ladd begins in January. Ladd was diagnosed at 4 months of age with a disorder that sees fats build up in his body and are unable to be removed. After spending about a month at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Ladd passed away on Jan. 27.
The discovery of beetles in its taxidermy collection led Dungeness River Audubon Center leaders to close the center on Jan. 24 and suspend its exhibits while they removed and froze items, an effort to rid the building of the drugstore beetle infestation.
Nationwide, Boy Scouts of America (now known at BSA) began allowing girl troops into its scouting programs on Feb. 1. Locally, Scout Troop 1498 hosted its first girls troop meeting a week later.
Sequim’s Lynn G. Johnson, a registered sex offender, was booked into Clallam County Jail for multiple counts of rape and molestation of children on Feb. 1. In November, Johnson, 68, pleaded guilty to nine charges and was sentenced on Dec. 16 to 35 years in prison.
The first major snowfall since storms in 1996, a “Snowmageddon” hit the North Olympic Peninsula on Feb. 8. Among other incidents, Clallam County Fire District 3 crews helped an 85-year-old Sequim man after a collapsed roof pinned him to the ground. The snowstorm forced the postponement of several community events, including the annual Irrigation Festival Pageant and Clallam Mosaic’s Night to Shine. The snowstorm impacted businesses across the region — particularly farms. Nash’s Organic Produce lost 10 crops of purple sprouting broccoli and Italian cauliflower to hungry migrating birds; the loss sparked an online gifting campaign that raised more than $20,000 for the local business.
The Clallam County PUD’s smart meter program drew concern from locals, both in regard to the opt-out policy as well a concerns regarding the safety of the devices that emit electromagnetic radiation.
Claire Mains Hatler and Don Hatler were named Sequim’s 2018 Citizens of the Year by the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 26.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe broke ground on the first phase of its $40 million resort/casino expansion in Blyn on Feb. 28.
Trustees with the North Olympic Library System announced on Feb. 28 they will stop actively pursuing a major expansion of the Sequim Library branch until at least 2021.
A federal jury on March 6 awarded a former pharmacist at Sequim and Port Angeles Walmart stores $744,620 in damages after the jury found the stores failed to accommodate Lori Jacobs her disability before placing her on unpaid leave in April 27. Jacobs said she suffers from cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis and lacks fine motor skills to provide flu shots and vaccinations to customers.
After a delay thanks to wild winter weather, the 2019 Sequim Irrigation Festival royalty pageant saw the selection of queen Emily Silva and princesses Shelby Wells, Brianna Cowan and Kjirstin Foresman on March 14.
Autumn St. George, Sequim Middle School teacher and former athletic director, settled a 2018 federal lawsuit against the Sequim School District and three employees over alleged discrimination on March 15. The suit is settled for $850,000.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe officials announced plans to open a cannabis store near its Blyn campus.
Sequim city councilors on March 25 agreed to a $6.2 million contract with Interwest Construction of Sequim to rebuild the half-mile of West Fir Street over the next 18 months,
Sequim School District officials and staff on March 26 celebrated the official opening of the districts’ new central kitchen, the culmination of a three-year, $5.75 million capital project levy voters approved in 2017. The levy paid for demolition of the unused Sequim Community School and rebuilt the central kitchen on the same property on West Fir Street.
In early April, leaders with the Dungeness River Audubon Center’s $3 million capital campaign announced they’ve received a $300,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The funding is to expand the educational facility and improve the overall site.
The April 13 break-in at FREDS Guns sparked an investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after video recordings show someone used a stolen agricultural loader, plowed through the front of the Carlsborg store and stole upward of 20-30 handguns and ammunition. Forensic evidence left during the burglary led to the arrest of Joey Anthony Maillet, 38, who was recently booked into the Snohomish County Jail in May on an unrelated warrant.
Dungeness Creamery pulled its raw milk from shelves in early April after a routine state test sampling found E. coli STEC in one sample of the Sequim farm’s milk product. The products were given an “all clear” on April 22 after further testing by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Locals set up a GoFundMe account to help the Sequim business recoup lost sales. The creamery again pulled products in early June after state officials found E. coli in one sample dated June 5, but saw products back on shelves days later.
Benjamin G. Bonner was committed to a state psychiatric hospital on April 9 for the killing of 71-year-old Sequim Cynthia Little and her dog in May 2017.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Library is named a finalist for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service on April 19. In early May, it’s announced the library won the honor over two other finalists. It’s the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries making “significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.”
A house fire in Gardiner displaced a family on April 26; no one was injured.
State lawmakers and local leaders announced the approval of $7.2 million for the first phase of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility to be built in Sequim and (eventually) jointly-operated by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Olympic Medical Center and Jefferson Healthcare. The funding is part of $4.9 billion in appropriated state capital funds — $123 million of which was earmarked for 24th legislative district projects in Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.
On May 6 the Sequim School Board approved the resignation of district superintendent Gary Neal, Sequim’s top school administrator; Neal took a position with Vanir Construction Management, Inc. of Bellevue.
Thomas “Bill” Fatherson, the 1999 Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, died on May 10 at age 92.
Sequim hosted its first Rainshadow Bigfoot Conference on May 11.
In mid-May, animal advocates helped rescue nearly 30 Australian Shepherd-Border Collies from an Agnew home after the owner died on May 15. Representatives from the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, Welfare for Animals Guild and Central Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene took in the animals.
In late May Sequim High School’s “Legally Blonde” production earned five nominations in The 5th Avenue Theatre Awards.
Graduating Sequim High seniors got $3.1 million for college and vocational education at the school’s annual scholarship awards event on May 29.
In late May Yewah Lau, district manager for the U.S. Forest Service’s Hood Canal district, announced plans to improve some roads, decommission others and relocate some trail-heads and their parking areas in the Olympic National Forest.
Retired Dr. Eloise Kailin, a Sequim environmentalist, died on June 1. Kailin’s activism helped the fight against a nuclear power plant on the Miller Peninsula and against fluoridation of Port Angeles drinking water, for the successful upgrade of sewer systems in Sequim, co-founded the Olympic Environmental Council and was the face of the environmental group Protect the Peninsula’s Future. She won the 1987 Clallam County Community Service Award.
On June 4, Sequim High students and recent graduates completed a project to furnish the SHS library in honor of Robby Streett, the local youth who died at age 16 in a head-on highway collision in July of 2017, a crash that also killed his father Robert. Streett would have graduated with his class this June.
Led by its seven valedictorians — Emily Bundy, Liam Payne, Elizabeth Sweet, Maggie Van Dyken, Sean Weber and Blake Wiker — Sequim High School’s Class of 2019 saw 185 graduating seniors accept diplomas at the school’s commencement ceremony on June 7.
Representatives of the Sequim Food Bank on June 15 celebrated the naming of the facility’s bread and meat building will be named the Stephen Rosales Building, after the longtime (13-year) volunteer and advocate.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Public Safety and Justice Center opened in early June, a 6,500-square-foot, $2.6 million building featuring a courtroom/multi-purpose room, office space and child advocacy center.
In mid-June the Washington State Historical Society announced receiving a large collection of artifacts and decades worth of research of the Manis mastodon site. The items were donated by Sequim’s Clare Manis Hatler, whose late husband Emanuel (“Manny”) Manis discovered mastodon tusks on the couple’s Happy Valley property in Sequim about 40 years ago. The find sparked years of on-site study by Dr. Carl Gustafson, whose research concluded (and was affirmed years later) that human civilization was established in this area nearly 14,000 years ago, the earliest confirmed human culture on the continent.
Sequim School District’s board of directors selected Rob Clark as interim superintendent in June 18, picking the former lead administrator of the Milton-Freewater School District (Oregon) over former Port Angeles schools superintendent Jane Pryne.
Several Sequim residents helped to save a man from drowning in Dungeness Bay after he fell from his boat on the July 4 holiday. Sue Cram and Dick Neil found the man face-down in the water sans life jacket, and attempted to get him into their boat. They got assistance from John Robert Labbe and family members, who were able to transport the man — later identified as Ki — to John Wayne Marina for medical assistance and an ambulance. Fire District officials estimate Ki was in the water for about 45 minutes. Ki, who later recounted the experience for the Sequim Gazette, was treated at Olympic Medical Center and released several hours later.
Sequim Museum & Arts celebrated its new home, a 6,500-square-foot facility on North Sequim Avenue housing local artifacts, historic photos and more. The center opened with fanfare on July 6.
Sequim resident Jake Patterson took the reigns as Clallam County Fire District 2 (Port Angeles) chief in early July, following the retirement of chief Sam Phillips.
A second round of capturing a transplanting mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the North Cascades got underway in early July.
Longtime business owner/community advocate Billy Nagler (Oak Table Cafe) died on July 13.
Sequim School Board director Robin Henrickson resigned her position, stating a desire to allow the board to have an easier transition process with the district’s new superintendent. She and fellow board member Heather Short announced earlier in the year they would not seek re-election in November.
Former Sequim Gazette editor Jim Casey died at age 72 on Aug. 9.
In a 6-1 vote, Sequim city councilors on Aug. 12 approved a 97-single family lot subdivision on South Seventh Avenue. With new development sitting on a 37.6-acre lot, developers will connect South Seventh Avenue to create a through-way between East Silberhorn Road and Happy Valley Road.
Clallam County celebrated its 100th fair — officially — from Aug. 15-18. The first county fair was held in 1985 but didn’t see a second fair until 1914, and suspended fair activities in 1918 (influenza) and 1942-1946 (World War II).
Trustees with the North Olympic Library System voted on Aug. 22 to eliminate any past and future late fines at its libraries in Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay. The policy was effective Sept. 1.
Bernie Fryer of Sequim, who had a 46-year career playing and officiating in the National Basketball Association, earned his fourth Hall of Fame nod when he was inducted into the Washington Sports Hall of Fame at a Seattle Mariners game on Aug. 26.
Jason Bradley Hutt of Sequim was arrested for investigation of poaching three bears and three deer between June 1-Sept. 4, 2018, in a series of illegal hunts in 2018 in Clallam and Jefferson counties; 16 charges were included in a complaint on Aug. 30.
Dungeness’ Lee Bowen learned in the late summer that a dahlia he developed — dubbed “Zookeeper’s Giraffe” — will enter the “2020 Classification and Handbook of Dahlias,” what gardeners call the bible of dahlias.
Jamye Wisecup, Clallam County Emergency Management Coordinator whom coworkers said was instrumental in getting peninsula communities prepared for various disasters, collapsed unexpectedly following her presentation at the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 10 and died soon after.
State and federal officials began distributing warnings about vaping products on or about Sept. 12, after reports of 380 confirmed and probable cases of vaping-related breathing illnesses in 36 states.
Ryan and Sarah McCarthey of Dungeness Valley Creamery were honored with the North Olympic Land Trust’s Farmer of the Year award on Sept. 15.
A federal judge in mid-September ruled in favor of Olympic Medical Center and other hospitals across the country that the Trump administration did not have the authority to implement a Medicare reimbursement rule that would have cost OMC more than $47 million over the next decade.
The annual Reach and Row for Hospice event expanded to two days, Sept. 28-29. Organizers dedicated the sailboat race to Bob McClinton, an avid sailor and top fundraiser for the event who died on April 12. McClinton raised more than $100,000 for Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County through the event.
After 16 years in various locations throughout Sequim, part of the original Lehman Market murals began getting new homes, including some at the new Sequim Museum & Arts facility and others at city landmarks.
Michael McAleer and Hope Glasser were named 2019 Sequim High School Homecoming King and Queen on Oct. 4.
Larisa Jean Dietz, a 48-year-old Sequim woman, is charged with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault with the Oct. 8 stabbing of Ricky Lynn McGowan in the Sunbelt Apartments on South Fifth Avenue. McGowan, who normally uses a walker or a wheelchair to get around, recovered from stab wounds at Harborview Medical Center.
The City of Sequim and Clallam County Public Utility District No. 1 partnered on an electric vehicle charging station at the former PUD building at 410 E. Washington St., unveiling the facility on Oct. 11.
Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s annual Harvest of Hope event on Oct. 12 raised $124,000 for OMC’s Sequim-based cancer center expansion.
City officials first consider, then decline to use an online city polling system to gauge the community’s support (or lack thereof) of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) facility on Oct. 14.
First Federal Community Foundation announced on Oct. 22 its $100,000 donation to kick off the Shipley Center’s $1.5 million capital campaign project to add a demonstration kitchen, a cooking venue, classroom space and more at a planned 6,400-square-foot annex across from the center on East Hammond Street.
A Clallam County jury on Oct. 21 ruled that Clallam Transit was not at fault after a Sequim woman, Virginia Moon — who asked for nearly $1 million in damages — tripped over an empty tree box at the Sequim Transit Center in 2015.
The North Olympic Library System on Nov. 1 joined in a boycott against a national publisher in protest of Macmillan Publishers’ restriction on libraries purchasing more than one e-book copy of new titles for eight weeks after initial release.
In the Nov. 5 General Election, Clallam County commissioner Mark Ozias — who represents the Sequim portion of the county — easily kept his bid to remain on the three-person board while voters OK a renewal of Fire District 3’s emergency medical services levy through 2029. A number of local election positions get new faces after three of four Sequim City Council candidates run unopposed (the one incumbent, Jennifer States, wins over write-in candidate Sarah Kincaid) while two of three Sequim School Board races go to unchallenged candidates (Jim Stoffer, the lone incumbent, wins his re-election campaign). Bill Miano unseats incumbent James Barnfather for a Fire District 3 commissioner seat and Ann Marie Henninger, despite a controversy regarding her official residence, topped challenger Nate Adkisson for her Olympic Medical Center board seat.
City of Sequim councilors on Nov. 12 agreed to notify the Port of Port Angeles their intent to take on ownership of John Wayne Marina, seeking the transfer at no cost to the city and for any profits beyond expenses be put in a fund for future marina improvements.
Former Sequim city clerk Karen Kuzenk-Reese died on Nov. 14. Family members of the longtime arts advocate join the community in celebrating her life and efforts with the naming of the Karen Kuzenk-Reese Gallery a month later.
Community advocate Jim Pickett, who led grassroots efforts to pass a Sequim school bond to fund construction of the Sequim Middle School in the 1990s, died on Nov. 15 at age 81. Pickett held several local leadership positions and was the top fundraiser in North America for ShelterBox, a Rotary program that delivers shelter and critical items to victims of major disasters. He earned the Clallam County Service Award in 2007 and Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Citizen of the Year honor.
Clallam County Fire District 3 announced in late November the anonymous donation of $50,000 that will be used to purchase upgrades in “Jaws of Life” devices.
Bryce Fish, a major contributor to several community groups including the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and Sequim Sunrise Rotary club, died Nov. 26 at age 78. Boys & Girls club officials said Fish’s philanthropy over the years netted the clubs more than $1 million.
In a 2-1 vote, Clallam County commissioners on Nov. 26 approved a property tax intended to preserve farmland.
On Dec. 1 federal officials announced Clallam Transit will get $1.6 million in funding to but three buses to expand the system’s Strait Shot route that connects users from the North Olympic Peninsula to the downtown Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.
In early December the Trump Administration announced it has agreed to pay Olympic Medical Center’s Medicare claims from 2019 in full after a federal judge’s September ruling that 30 percent cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates for off-campus clinics are unlawful.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe revealed its design plans for the proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic on Dec. 5.
Save Our Sequim leader Jodi Wilke and other SOS members brought to the Sequim City Council on Dec. 9 a scroll of paper with signatures from about 2,600 people who live in or near Sequim and oppose the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s proposed medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic.
In a 3-3 vote deadlock, Sequim city councilors on Dec. 9 denied Lavender Meadows, a proposed manufactured home park that would have brought 217 houses in three phases to a 38.3-acre site at the intersection of North Sequim Avenue and Port Williams Road.
The Port of Port Angeles received and saw three proposals for the future of John Wayne Marina at a Dec. 10 meeting: one from the City of Sequim, one from Bainbridge Island-based Marsh Anderson and a third from Safe Harbor Marinas of Dallas. Wayne family members said they are opposed to the sale of the marina but would not object to the port retaining ownership while entering into a long-term agreement with a marina operator who would make necessary capital improvements and keep (or improve) public access to the property.
Bill Littlejohn, a longtime businessman, community advocate and philanthropist, died on Dec. 12 at age 72.
Clallam County Fire District 3 gets another big boost from the Sequim-Dungeness Hospital Guild, who contributed more than $25,000 that district officials say will go toward CPR training for firefighters and residents.
Sequim School Board directors on Dec. 16 voted to extend the contract of interim superintendent Rob Clark for a year.