Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

2016 Year in Review: Part 1 (January-June)


Last updated 12/28/2016 at Noon

Paulina Cruz and Margarito Mendez, along with their three children, were displaced by the Casino Road fire on Dec. 31. With them is their 6-year-old son Yolver. Their daughters Stephani, 11, and Gricelda, 4, are not pictured.


NOAA looking to swap Tank Farm property

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has proposed that it trade its Tank Farm property with the city to build a new station.

The U.S. Air Force transferred 1.1 acres of the property to NOAA so that it can design and construct a state-of-the-art research center.

Mukilteo City Council on Monday unanimously approved an updated Waterfront Master Plan that allows NOAA the opportunity to trade its property for 1.1 acres the city owns just east of its existing station.

Over 100 homeless after Casino Road fire

Two weeks after the New Year’s Eve fire at an apartment complex on Casino Road in Everett, the American Red Cross and Hand in Hands continue to help the victims.

The three-alarm fire on Dec. 31 at The Bluffs at Evergreen apartment complex killed one, injured 15 and left more than 100 homeless. Many of the victims are Mukilteo School Dis-trict families.

Some families have been staying at a Red Cross emergency shelter established at a nearby church. Others have found refuge with family and friends.

However, the residents, most of whom only speak Spanish, say that, following the fire, their landlords had tried to take advantage of them.

Girl’s painting stolen from Snohomish County exhibit

A local girl’s artwork was stolen from a Snohomish County Arts Commission show around Dec. 31.

Emily Burson, 12, is both flattered and flustered that her reverse-glass painting of a landscape was stolen from an exhibit at the Robert J. Drewel Building in Everett.

“I’m proud and upset at the same time,” she said. “I’m a little proud that somebody actu-ally liked it so much that they took it, but I’m also a little upset because I was hoping to keep it.”

Local barber helps build house in Mexico

A local barber is back after a mission to Mexico to build a home for a family in need.

Mickey Rounds, owner of Mickey’s Hometown Barbershop, volunteered in Ensenada, Mexico, with Youth With A Mission and Homes of Hope to help build a tiny house for a mother and her four children.

“They were saying most people have garages bigger than the house we built,” he said. “It’s probably true. A two-car garage would be bigger than the house that we built.”

YWAM’s Homes of Hope was founded in 1990 to build houses for the poor so that they can break the cycle of poverty, one family at a time.

“They mostly live in these shacks built out of anything they can find,” Rounds said, add-ing that before the trip, he’d only ever built a dog house. “Anything we can give them is better than that.”

Society looks back at 50 years of history preservation

Beverly “Bevo” Ellis is the longest living member of the Mukilteo Historical Society.

At 95, Ellis was the only founding member to celebrate the Historical Society’s 50th an-niversary on Jan. 14 at Rosehill Community Center, which housed its museum of Mukilteo his-tory for many years.

“I want to thank all of the new people – ‘foreigners,’ as some of us call you – who came to Mukilteo, and now you are the ones who keep this Historical Society stimulated,” Ellis said.

“We ‘natives’ just kind of fiddled around in the mud before you came, but we did manage to keep it going year after year, even if we dwindled down to 10 people.”


Parking affecting Diamond Knot’s bottom line

Most businesses in Old Town have had issues since the city changed how parking works downtown, but perhaps not as much as Diamond Knot: It’s affecting the company’s bot-tom line.

Diamond Knot Craft Brewing, which operates the Alehouse & Brewery on Front Street, reports that it has lost about $1,000 per day since the new rules were implemented June 1.

“We hit a brick wall when paid parking started,” said Andy Eason, vice president of retail operations. “We were up in sales every period, but in that same week, it dipped and we’ve been down ever since.”

Youth suicide numbers ‘alarming’ in Snohomish County

Youth suicide is now a leading mental health issue for Snohomish County. In fact, some experts warn, it’s a crisis.

According to the Snohomish Health District, suicide is Snohomish County’s ninth leading cause of death – second for those 15-24 years old.

In 2014-15 school year, the county lost 13 students from 12-19 years old to suicide.

“That sobering fact, combined with responses from the students, demonstrates a real need for this community to come together and show our youth that they matter,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director for the Snohomish Health District.

Snohomish County’s annual suicide rate – for both youth and adults – is higher than the rates for the state and the nation.

Discovery 3rd graders bring biographies to life

When learning about biographies, third graders at Discovery Elementary do more than research a noteworthy man or woman – they become them.

On the Night of the Notables, the students transform into Leonardo da Vinci, Muhammad Ali, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Helen Keller, Charles Darwin, Mother Teresa and others famous in world history.

About 100 third graders from Discovery posed as historical figures from around the world on Feb. 4 and delivered one- or two-minute speeches about their lives to fellow students.

Baseball pioneer played for Mukilteo team

Thirty years before Jackie Robinson, an African-American man who once played for a Mukilteo team broke professional baseball’s color barrier.

Jimmy Claxton pitched a doubleheader for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1916. Robinson wasn’t even born yet.

“Everybody knows about Jackie Robinson, and he’s credited with breaking the color bar-rier, but here we have Jimmy Claxton, the one who really does it decades before,” Mukilteo his-torian Steven K. Bertrand said. “It was Jimmy’s legacy.”

Claxton, who was of mixed racial background, was originally allowed to play in the mi-nors but was kicked out of the league after two games because he was too dark.

He is a forgotten man of baseball history, a pioneer who suffered racial discrimination and yet continued to make a livelihood in the sport.

More than 60% vote for school measure

Voters have passed a Mukilteo School District measure on the February ballot by more than 60 percent.

As of Tuesday, Proposition 1 to renew a six-year capital projects levy that expires by the end of this year is at 63 percent, according to results released by Snohomish County Elections around 4 p.m. on Feb. 11. It required a simple majority.

“It’s always great to have ballot measures passed,” said Andy Muntz, spokesman for the Mukilteo School District. “It’s good to have support from the community, because that’s what we’re built on.

“Having good support from the community makes our school system as successful as it is.”


City seeks a bridge over troubled alternatives

Unhappy Mukilteo councilmembers and members of the public unloaded on state trans-portation officials recently after seeing two proposed alternatives for improving pedestrian and bicycle access on the Speedway south of Front Street.

Long looking for safer alternatives for moving people over the railroad tracks on SR 525, the city applied for a $2.6 million state Pedestrian Access Grant in 2004. The state approved the application.

At a Feb. 16 council meeting, followed by a Feb. 24 open house here, the Washington State Department of Transportation – WSDOT – presented two alternatives for giving pedestri-ans and bike riders more room to cross the narrow bridge that connects the waterfront to the rest of town.

Sudden gym closure surprises members, employees

The closure of the Mukilteo Athletic Club last week left members looking for refunds, employees wondering if they’d see their final paychecks, and the property owner and gym owner pointing fingers at each other.

The surprise closure of the club, formerly Gold’s Gym, at 12138 Mukilteo Speedway, followed several years of struggle. It boasted a wide range of equipment, classes and amenities, but it competed in a limited market that includes several smaller gyms as well as the Mukilteo Family YMCA and Rosehill Community Center.

However, members reported the club increasingly was dirty, broken equipment wasn’t repaired or replaced, and it often opened late while members were stuck in the parking lot cool-ing their heels.

Alaska Air ‘keenly interested’ in Paine Field

Now that circuit judges have denied an appeal of the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to permit commercial flights out of Paine Field, interest from at least one airline is back.

Two airlines asked Snohomish County to allow them to offer commercial passenger service at Paine Field – Alaska Airlines and Allegiant Air. But after years of waiting for the deci-sion, they backed off.

Though Alaska Air had said that it no longer wanted to fly out of Paine Field in 2012, a spokeswoman said March 15 that the airline is looking again.

“As the hometown carrier with longstanding and deep ties in the region, Alaska Airlines is keenly interested in terminal construction that could make commercial service possible at Paine Field,” said Bobbie Egan, spokeswoman for Alaska Air.

Girls go bald to fight childhood cancer

While most of their friends are growing their hair out, two 12-year-old girls from Mukilteo willingly shaved theirs off this month for kids with cancer.

Annmarie Thomson and Charlotte Crocco, who are best friends, braved the shave and raised $10,500 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to find a cure for childhood cancer.

“We think it’s a small sacrifice to make if we can help these kids,” Annmarie said. “We decided it’s a really worthy cause and that looking a little funny didn’t matter.”

Although cancer in children is rare, more kids die from cancer in the United States than any other disease. It is the second leading cause of death for children.

It is estimated that about 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will have cancer – and that 1 in 5 of those kids will die from the disease.

Dance crew performs with Justin Bieber on world tour

Six local kids won the chance to dance with Justin Bieber in concert at Key Arena during the first stop of his world tour.

The Bratz – a Mukilteo-based hip hop crew of 10- to 13-year-olds – joined the Canadian pop star on stage in Seattle on March 10 for the Justin Bieber: Purpose World Tour.

Kayla Agag, 10, Elahna Ayson, 13, Kendall Edwards, 11, Caden Henson, 12, DeDe Parker, 13, and Dasia Sadora, 13, won a contest to perform a routine with Bieber during the song “Children.”

“I was really excited to be a part of the show,” Caden said. “It was a dream come true to do something like that and be on a tour with someone.”


Mukilteo high schools’ diploma rates trending up

A focus on test scores and class credits has led to a trend of more students earning their diplomas in the Mukilteo School District than the state average.

According to new data released by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the four-year graduation rate for Mukilteo’s three high schools was 83.7 percent in 2015, compared to the Washington state rate of 78.10 percent.

The five-year graduation rate in the district – for students needing an additional year to graduate – was 85.6 percent, in comparison to the state’s five-year rate of 81.10 percent.

Mukilteo’s graduation rates have been increasing slowly for about 10 years, although sometimes it dips below year-to-year rates: The district's 83.7 percent is up from 79.1 percent in 2014 and 81.9 percent in 2013.

Once a year, local historian turns into festival mapmaker

If Christopher Summitt has a motto, it might be: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

As a volunteer for the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, Summitt makes a 3D map for each year’s festival layout using Google Earth and Google SketchUp computer mapping programs.

He knows where everything goes at Lighthouse Park, from the food booths and chil-dren’s activities to the beer garden and VIP tent. He even knows where the porta-potties go.

“My role is mapmaker for logistics,” Summitt said. “I get to see and hear everybody as they talk about how things are done in real space, so we can plan how far apart things need to be. I’ve got my fingers in every pie.”

Head of Electroimpact apologizes, clarifies anti-mosque postcard

The head of Electroimpact Inc., who has been linked to a group that opposes the build-ing of a mosque in Mukilteo, this week said he is concerned about the breeding of radicals.

Peter Zieve is the owner and president of the Mukilteo-based company that is a major supplier of tools and assembly lines to aerospace companies including Boeing, Airbus, Xi’an Aircraft of China and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

An anonymous postcard was mailed two weeks ago notifying Mukilteo residents of an Is-lamic group’s plans to build a mosque; it provided the email address

The Beacon emailed the provided address and received the following response: The mosque is potentially “dangerous” as it could become a “breeding place for terrorists.”

Mayor: Public needs more power over airport

A commission is scheduled to review a proposal next week to change the way Paine Field is governed.

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson has proposed that the county’s review commission amend the county charter so that the public has more input over Snohomish County Airport’s assets.

The mayor’s proposal has two parts: First, amend the charter so that the county is re-quired to hold a public vote before any sale or transfer of airport property.

Second, add the Paine Field Community Council to the charter and empower it to pro-vide more oversight of the airport.

“I want to make sure that there’s more sunshine and attention on the operations of the airport and the decisions that are made,” said Gregerson, who is the chair of the County Review Commission. “I think government benefits from that openness and transparency.

“It’s our largest neighbor, it’s a driver of economic growth for our community, and it has impacts on the community, too.”

Woman flying biplane around world lands here

A woman who is flying solo in a biplane around the world in honor of pioneering aviators has landed in Mukilteo.

Pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor has flown her restored Boeing Stearman from Cape Town to Goodwood, England, and then from there to Australia. After a stop at the Historic Flight Founda-tion on April 28, she will fly from Seattle to Boston to finish her flight around the world.

Her journey pays tribute to the many aviation pioneers of the 1920s and 1930s who paved the way for air travel as we know it today.

Each of Curtis-Taylor’s flights – through Africa, to Australia and across the United States – recreates a breakthrough flight from that era with an open cockpit, stick and rudder, flying with basic period instruments and frequent stops along the way.

“I have long been steeped in the life-stories of many of the pioneering aviators and what they achieved,” Curtis-Taylor said. “They were adventurous free spirits with luminous courage and imagination, who took enormous personal risks.

“This is my way of retelling their story and celebrating what they did to establish and open up the air routes.”


Residents appeal industrial park plans

Some residents along the Mukilteo-Everett border are appealing plans to build an indus-trial park next door.

A developer has plans to construct three office buildings totaling about a half-million square feet and 1,000 parking spaces along 36th Avenue W. in Everett.

The project, known as Soundview Technology Center, would occupy 40 acres between Japanese Gulch and Edgewater Creek. The forested land is zoned light industrial.

However, residents are concerned that plans for a 40-foot retaining wall and two storm-water vaults large enough to store 3.4 million gallons of water would put their homes and the wildlife corridor between the gulch and the creek at risk.

“We don’t think they’ve done an adequate environmental assessment of what the im-pacts of this project will be, said Don March, a Mukilteo resident. “We’d like them to redraw it to make it much more compatible with the neighborhood and the environment.”

Religious bigotry comes to Mukilteo

Anger and distrust are hindering efforts to find common ground and understanding over a proposal to build a mosque in Mukilteo.

Peter Zieve, the founder and CEO of Electroimpact – a Mukilteo company specializing in the design and manufacture of aerospace tooling and automation – touched off a firestorm in April when he was linked to the mailing of postcards alerting Mukilteans about an Islamic group’s plans to build the mosque.

Zieve told The Beacon he was concerned about Islamic radicals coming to Mukilteo.

Although he wasn’t the only one raising concerns, he became the lightning rod over the issue, prompting angry responses from Muslims as well as others who were offended.

Mohammed Riaz Khan, a Mukilteo resident who ran for the City Council last year and is a driving force behind the mosque project, along with the Muslim Association of Seattle, de-manded an apology from Zieve as a beginning move to heal the wounds.

City to lobby for park & ride upgrades

The city of Mukilteo has long wished for a park & ride, and finally that wish may be coming true with a facility planned on Bernie Webber Drive on the east side of the Mukilteo Speedway at Chennault Beach Road.

But for city officials, the Community Transit project comes attached with a little bit of the warning “be careful what you wish for.”

That’s because, city officials complained, they had little input on the plan itself, and for the first time CT is asking the city to pony up some money – $100,000 – to help pay for the pro-ject.

At a City Council worksession Monday, Councilmember Randy Lord said the council’s Infrastructure committee saw the plan for the first time in March.

“We weren’t even at the table,” Lord said of the planning process. “They said, ‘The plan is done, it’s ready to go, by the way, we want your money.’

“That doesn’t sit well with me.”

Committee looking to curb panhandling

A man held a cardboard sign that read: “Any assistance is appreciated.”

He stood at the entrance of the Harbour Pointe Shopping Center off Mukilteo Speedway. It was Thursday around 3:30 p.m.

In three hours of panhandling, he had collected a few bags of toiletries and snacks. No cash.

“We don’t ask for money, we ask for assistance,” said 36-year-old Junior, who didn’t give a last name. “Any help is appreciated. I’m down on my luck, but I’m not out.”

When he’s not working odd jobs through Labor Ready, Junior begs in and around Mu-kilteo. His favorite spots are off the Speedway near QFC or McDonald’s.

Police have seen an increase in the number of calls reporting panhandlers with card-board signs in Mukilteo lately, as a few regularly stand at the entrance of the shopping center.

“I’ve been here 10 years, and it’s been around probably the whole time,” Police Chief Chuck Macklin said. “It just hasn’t been as obvious as it is now.”

Kamiak grad’s book offers tips for STEM students

As a struggling science major in college, Yoo Jung Kim wished there was a book to help her turn her grades around. When she couldn’t find one, she decided to write it herself.

The Kamiak High School grad has co-authored a new book to help STEM majors suc-ceed in college.

“What Every Science Student Should Know” is a how-to guide for high school seniors who plan to study science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics in college.

The book offers advice for the entire college experience, including getting scholarships, choosing a major, mastering study skills, doing scientific research and finding a job.

“I really coasted by high school,” Kim said. “I started off very assured of my own abilities, but then realized that college was a very different beast altogether.”


Arcade aficionado holds two world records

Unlike many of us, Jason Lundgren has kept his New Year’s resolution.

The Mukilteo man’s goal was to beat the world’s high score in an arcade game.

Not too long after New Year’s, Lundgren did just that. Not just once, but twice.

Lundgren, 33, now holds the world record in the 1988 shoot-and-arrest game NARC with 2,411,075 points, beating Doc Mack from Brookfield, Ill., who previously held the record with 1,720,750 points.

He also holds the world record in the 1991 beat-'em-up game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time with 363 kills. He beat David Price from New York City who previously held the record with 212 kills.

“It feels great,” Lundgren said. “I’m well on my way to proving to the world that I am one of the best vintage arcade players out there.”

At the top of their class

This year’s highest-ranking students of the graduating class of Kamiak High School say they are prepared for what the future brings.

Joon Young Lee is the valedictorian and Nancy Jong is the salutatorian of Kamiak’s Class of 2016, top honors based on grade point average. Lee has a 4.33 GPA and Jong has a 4.30 GPA.

“It’s really amazing because, first of all, when anybody understands the academic caliber of Kamiak High School, for them to have achieved this is phenomenal,” said Kimberly Jensen, senior class adviser. “On top of that, both of them are really involved. It’s not like academics is the only thing that they do.

“Based on their success here at Kamiak and their involvement, I have no doubt they’re going to do great things in our community and in our world. They’re two awesome people, and I wish them the best of luck.”

Group appeals Frognal Estates decision

A neighborhood group has appealed a hearing examiner’s decision to allow a developer to build homes in a Picnic Point gulch.

Hearing Examiner Peter Camp on May 25 issued a decision that denied an appeal of the project’s environmental impact statement, allowing a developer to build 112 homes in Frognal Estates, formerly known as Horseman's Trail, on 22.3 acres in the Picnic Point neighborhood.

“Our community is extremely disappointed and shocked to have the county dismiss the impacts and the property rights of current homeowners, as well as impose the future cost and risk to the community, county and environment,” said Emily Mydynski, president of the Picnic Point Preservation Committee, a neighborhood group.

NOAA fisheries scientist dies at 52

Casey Rice, a Mukilteo-based ecologist whose research helped link a jellyfish boom in the Puget Sound to the deteriorating health of the ecosystem, has died.

Rice died after he fell down stairs at his Everett home on June 2. He was 52.

A fisheries biologist and researcher for NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center at Mukilteo for 25 years, Rice was at the forefront of the administration’s efforts to protect and re-store the Puget Sound – though he wouldn’t have wanted to take credit for it.

“He was very much into collaborations,” said Jeff Duda, a longtime friend. “He never took credit for stuff himself. He made sure his partners and colleagues received credit, and would lead from behind. He was the glue that kept the team together.”

Most notable, Rice was one of the first to discover that portions of Puget Sound are see-ing an increase in jellyfish and a decrease in forage fish, such as herring and smelt, which is disrupting the food chain.

Mayor has dropped nearly 100 pounds

Three years ago, Jennifer Gregerson’s goal was to get elected as mayor of Mukilteo.

It wasn’t to lose weight.

“I had settled,” Gregerson said. “I had decided this is the weight I’m going to be the rest of my life, this is what I look like, that’s the end.”

Jason Lundgren of Mukilteo holds the world record in the arcade game NARC with 2,411,075 points.

Goal or no goal, the mayor has dropped nearly 100 pounds in three years.

In 2013, Gregerson made the decision to run for mayor. But, at 239 pounds, she was too out of shape to campaign door-to-door in Mukilteo.

“I knew that meant a lot of knocking on doors … and I was worried I would be unable to do that because I would just be exhausted,” she said. “I was 34 years old. That was too young to not be able to move around a city.”

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