Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

2017 year in review: July-December


Last updated 1/3/2018 at Noon


Taylor-made to serve her community

As a girl growing up in Oklahoma, Pam Taylor took to heart the value of lending a helping hand.

“As a teenager, I would mow grass for people just as a service, and I loved doing it,” she said. “My reward was knowing I had helped someone do something they couldn’t do for themselves.”

Taylor would also pay visits to fellow members of her Southern Baptist church who had become shut-ins “just to let them know that somebody cared.”

Looking back on it, she’s quick to give her mother credit for early on instilling in her an ethic of service.

“She was always pushing me and my siblings to do for others,” she said. “That was something I was just raised to do.”

Decades later, clear on the other end of the country, she’s still at it, and her new neighbors have taken notice. Taylor was named Mukilteo’s 2017 Citizen of the Year on Wednesday, June 28, during a Mukilteo Kiwanis Club meeting at Spiro’s Pizza & Pasta, though she wasn’t exactly surprised.

“After last year’s big reception honoring Debra Bordsen, [Beacon Publisher and 2008 Citizen of the Year] Paul Archipley walked by me, pointed at me and said, ‘You’re next,’” Taylor said.

Teen business partners shake up farmers markets

If it weren’t for farmers markets, two Mukilteo teens say they would still be saving up money to open their own business.

“Farmers markets are a great venue to start a business,” Rial Smith, 19, said. “It gives you room to experiment because it’s on a smaller scale. If we had gotten a storefront in the mall, for example, our costs would have been a lot higher up front.”

Smith and business partner Joey Kamp, 18, are recent Kamiak High School graduates who in May opened their milkshake-making business, Mukshakes, for the first time at the Snohomish Farmers Market.

The two met while attending Explorer Middle School, but didn’t begin exploring small business ideas until high school. Both have held jobs since age 16; Smith is currently a manager at Regal Cinemas in Everett and Kamp is a barista at Starbucks in Mukilteo.

The teens came up with the idea to open a milkshake stand at farmers markets late last summer. Actually, they came up with the name first, and a business plan followed.

“I was sending a text message, and I actually misspelled the word milkshakes,” Smith said of their business’ name: Mukshakes.

City’s fight over commercial flights shot down

The city of Mukilteo’s legal fight over plans for commercial flights at Paine Field airport has reached the end of its road.

The state Supreme Court late last month declined to review the city’s appeal of Snohomish County’s March 2015 decision to execute an option-to-lease agreement with New York-based Propeller Airports before completing an environmental review of plans to construct a two-gate terminal.

That decision was based on the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2012 finding that the project would have no significant impact on noise, traffic or air pollution. In 2013, the city appealed that finding to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which threw the case out in 2016.

Similarly, courts have denied the city’s 2015 appeal of the option-to-lease agreement at every turn.

“I felt we had a good case,” Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. “The county really didn’t have an option to back out of the agreement with Propeller. We feel they really should have done the environmental review before taking that step.”

Candidates field questions in front of packed house

Faced with filling out the city’s most crowded primary ballot in decades, Mukilteo voters packed City Hall on Monday evening to see eight City Council hopefuls in action.

“This is the largest audience I’ve ever seen in City Hall,” Position 2 incumbent and council president Bob Champion said during the July 24 candidate forum, which attracted nearly 150 people.

Aside from Beacon-prepared questions, the candidates also fielded several audience questions, including one about short-term vacation rentals and another that challenged candidates to say something positive about their opponents.

Position 3 candidate Sarah Kneller said fellow candidate Tony Markey is a hard worker who “does his homework.” Markey said Kneller is eloquent, well spoken and well informed. Fellow Position 3 candidates Troy Gray and Maxwell Chen did not participate in the forum.

Position 1 candidate James Yoo called his opponents qualified. Candidate Riaz Khan returned the favor, calling Yoo experienced. Candidate Anna Rohrbough said Yoo would bring “great perspective” to the council, and praised Khan for his efforts to educate the community about the Muslim faith. Regarding Rohrbough, Khan said, “She should work on the honesty.”


A show of strength

One year after a deadly shooting shook the Mukilteo community to its core, more than a hundred people came together at Lighthouse Park to celebrate the lives of those lost.

Anna Bui, Jake Long and Jordan Ebner were all 19 when a gunman – a former classmate – opened fire at a house party in the Chennault Beach neighborhood, killing all three and injuring a fourth: Will Kramer. The shooter is now serving a life sentence in prison.

Since then, the community has banded together, showing Mukilteo’s resilience in the face of an unspeakable tragedy. That resilience was full display Sunday, July 30, as young and old gathered to laugh, eat and play together during a city-sponsored community picnic.

“It struck me that a lot of the people there, I remember seeing them in grief and sadness at this time last year,” Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. “To see them smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company was uplifting. People are clearly still hurting and will be for a long time, but for that afternoon I think we all felt happiness just to be with each other.”

Children used chalk to decorate a walkway with mini-memorials to the victims, families came bearing enough food for everyone, and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints handed out popsicles to help people beat the heat.

Longtime Mukilteo resident Ed Taylor dies at 94

Anyone who knew Ed Taylor will remember him as a man of great stature – not simply because he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall, but because of his contributions to the Mukilteo community.

“When you’re that tall, you get noticed wherever you go,” said Kitty Jensen, Ed’s daughter. “But regardless of his height, he was such an integral part of the fabric of this community for so long.”

After 94 years of life, Ed Taylor passed away Saturday, Aug. 12, with family by his side at Harbour Pointe Senior Living, where he had lived for the past three years. Prior to that, he lived much of his life in Old Town Mukilteo.

Ed was born and raised in Everett, graduating from Everett High School in 1941. He attended Stanford University and the University of Washington before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in December of 1942.

Upon relief from active duty as a Second Lieutenant in 1946, Ed returned home to help his parents – Edgar R. Taylor and Mildred Leo Taylor – and brother older Dick with a new family venture: a small bait and tackle shop and cafe? called the Ferry Lunch located on the Mukilteo waterfront next to the ferry.

Ferry work to start right after Lighthouse Festival

Construction of Mukilteo’s new ferry terminal is set to begin Monday, Sept. 11 – less than 24 hours after this year’s Lighthouse Festival wraps up.

Crews contracted with the state Department of Transportation will install a storm water utility line along First Street and construct a concrete trestle over tidelands on which the terminal building will be constructed beginning in June 2018.

The state awarded a contract in July to Orion Marine Contractors of Tacoma, Washington, which submitted a low bid of just more than $4.648 million. The work was originally estimated to cost more than $6.365 million.

The work entails driving some 60 steel pipes, which are 24 to 30 inches in diameter, into the sea floor to support the trestle. That’s work that must be done during fall and winter months in order to avoid fish migration activity.

Construction of the terminal building itself would begin in June of next year, and the project will be complete by the end of 2019. The state is expected to advertise construction contracts for that work as early as October.


Mukilteo 5th grader wins Mayor for a Day

Rather than settle for the title of runner-up in last year’s Mayor for a Day essay contest, Finley Gonzales decided to try again this year – and it paid off.

Ten-year-old Finley, a fifth grader at Endeavour Elementary School, is the winner of Beacon Publishing’s eighth-annual Mayor for a Day essay contest.

She will ride with Mayor Jennifer Gregerson in Saturday’s annual Lighthouse Festival Parade, be honored on the main stage at Lighthouse Park on Saturday afternoon, and enjoy a catered dinner in the VIP tent while watching the fireworks with her family.

“I’m looking forward to going on the float,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be on a float.”

On a recent afternoon, Finley was sitting around at home with her family talking about the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival when her 16-year-old brother, Griffen Gonzales, suggested they go to Lighthouse Park this year to watch the fireworks.

“Then my mom said that since I won [the essay contest] we would get to go do that,” Finley said. “I thought she was just joking, so I said ‘If I win…’ just so she wouldn’t jinx it. But then she said that I did win.”

Last week, Finley and her family visited City Hall, met Mayor Gregerson and took a tour, not only of City Hall but also the city’s police and fire stations.

Challenger files complaint against mayor based on hearsay

Dan Matthews admits he doesn’t have all the facts, but he’s convinced Mayor Jennifer Gregerson has violated campaign laws.

That’s why the mayoral challenger filed a complaint Sept. 6 with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission alleging Gregerson used $850 of city money to hold a private luncheon for women in June at Rosehill Community Center, making her re-election campaign materials available during the event and discussing her re-election bid with attendees.

“I’m not trying to do some campaign tactic, but this was brought to my attention so I’ve filed the complaint,” Matthews said. “It’s up to the PDC to determine all the facts.”

Matthews said he did not witness the event himself. He said someone else was there and reported the information to him, but he wouldn’t identify his source. He also said a City Council member told him some $850 had been billed to the mayor’s “Discretionary Account,” but wouldn’t identify that council member, either.

“That person’s observation to me is enough corroboration that there were campaign materials available,” he said. “The event was clearly held. I don’t think she can deny that.”

In fact, it’s not clear that the event Matthews describes was ever held, and Gregerson does deny it.

“That event, as he’s describing it, was not held,” she said. “There was a leadership lunch event in April and there was an evening political event in July. I guess Dan is not very clear on his details.”

Khan calls out Zieve over claim of Muslim support

The president of a group planning to build a mosque in Mukilteo says City Council candidate Peter Zieve is falsely claiming support from Muslims in Mukilteo.

Riaz Khan, who himself has twice run for City Council only to be ousted in primary elections, told the Beacon that he feels Zieve misrepresented the local Muslim community’s support of his candidacy by enlisting people to carry signs during the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival parade that read, “Mukilteo Muslims for Zieve.”

For his part, Zieve said the signs certainly don’t amount to any kind of false advertising.

“I represent the Muslims,” Zieve said. “Most of the Muslims in Mukilteo are supporting me.”

Zieve said he purchased the signs after family friend Kiran Quadeer of Mukilteo agreed to gather other Muslim residents to march in the parade with Zieve.

“I’m not supporting him just because helped me,” Quadeer said, noting that she turned to Zieve for help following a difficult divorce. “He didn’t judge me. I had heard a lot of things about him before that, but when I met him I found he’s nothing like what people say. I just think he’s a great person.”

Quadeer said she created a Facebook page late last month called Muslims in Mukilteo, which has 55 followers and most recently reposted two of the Zieve campaign’s posts from the festival.

Finding purpose through service

Giving back gave purpose to Sargun Handa’s life.

“Community service has really saved me,” the Kamiak High School junior said. “I feel so much more complete now.”

At age 9, Handa was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract.

“I felt really helpless and depressed,” she said. “I was really secretive about it. I never told anybody until I entered high school.”

As a side effect of her medication, she began to gain weight.

“In middle school, I was becoming obese because of the medicine,” she said. “I was really worried about my body image, and I would be absent for weeks at a time.”

During the summer before her freshman year at Kamiak, Handa attended Camp Oasis, organized by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.

“I met people who understood me and accepted me for who I am,” she said.

Once school started, she followed in her older siblings’ footsteps by joining service groups such as Key Club and Human Rights Club.

“I decided I didn’t want anyone else to feel the way I had, so I began joining service groups,” she said. “I met the most amazing people I’ve ever know. They helped me take a positive outlook on my life and my journey with this disease.”


Citizens’ group forms to fight Zieve candidacy

Mukilteo’s normally sleepy election season is anything but this year, mainly due to the candidacy of one person: Peter Zieve.

Zieve, founder and owner of Electroimpact, an international aerospace automation company headquartered in Mukilteo, is challenging incumbent Bob Champion for Position 2 on the Mukilteo City Council.

An independent group of citizens called Mukilteo for All has formed to oppose Zieve’s candidacy. Its members don’t think Zieve would be the kind of leader they want representing the city.

Spokesperson Paul Kramer said their goal ultimately is “to promote Mukilteo as a welcoming city.”

“We intend to reach out to help people see that Peter is a divisive figure who doesn’t represent our values,” Kramer said. The group planned to launch a website and Facebook page today (Oct. 11), he said.

Kramer emphasized that the group is not involved with or a part of Champion’s campaign.

Zieve garnered 26.71 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race, taking second place and earning a spot on the general election ballot. Champion, currently serving as the council president, took first place with 54.28 percent of the vote.

Despite that seemingly comfortable margin for the incumbent, Kramer said the Mukilteo for All coalition didn’t want to take any chances.

In noble act, homecoming king shares crown

As homecoming only comes around once every year, the distinction of being named the school’s “king” or “queen” by fellow students is a big honor.

The same terms get floated around regarding the traits that a school’s king should have, such as nobility, kindness, humility and so on.

This year, Mariner High School’s elected king, Jordan Davis-Miller, exemplifies exactly why he deserved to win that award from his classmates.

Davis-Miller decided there was someone even more deserving than himself to hold the honor of being Mariner’s homecoming king.

That person was fellow senior Koby Inthavong, a special needs student who can only communicate via a specialized computer on his wheelchair.

Mariner students also elected Inthavong, like Davis-Miller, to Mariner’s royalty court.

“It was an easy choice to give Koby the crown,” Davis-Miller said. “You can just tell what a kind and happy kid he is. When I got to talk with him it made it that much easier.”

Mukilteo dentist brings smiles and supplies to refugees in Greece

When it comes to smiles, you would be hard-pressed to find someone more knowledgeable than Mukilteo’s own Dr. Nhi Pham.

Pham, who owns and runs the Mukilteo Dental Center, is tasked with making sure her patients’ smiles are in the best shape they can be.

When Pham is not helping her clients, she is often helping the less fortunate. Recently, the Washington State Dental Association awarded Pham their “Citizen of the Year” award for her incredible volunteer work.

“I am humbled by the Citizen of the Year Award from the Washington State Dental Association since I am shy to receive any award or recognition,” Pham said.

Just recently, Pham, along with others through Medical Relief International, returned from a mission trip to Lesvos, Greece, a small island in the northern Aegean Sea, which has become home to thousands of refugees over the past few years.

“We were in Greece for a total of 12 days,” Pham said. “We were on the island itself for about a week. We had to take an 11-hour ferry ride from Athens to get to this remote island.”

Pham could relate to those she helped in Greece, as she too was a refugee as a 2-year-old child from Vietnam with her family in search of a better life in America.


Mayor’s salary hot-button issue at council meeting

What started as a fairly typical Mukilteo City Council meeting turned testy Monday with a proposal to immediately slash the mayor’s salary and make the position part time.

Councilmember Scott Whelpley had been fairly quiet throughout the night, only answering “yay” or “nay” in regards to motions being filed, but just before the meeting was set to end, he attempted a last-minute motion the day before the election.

“We currently have a full-time city administrator … and we do have a full-time policy analyst,” Whelpley said. “So I’m thinking about the leveling of our resources, and I think it’s important I do this the night before the election because whoever is victorious here tomorrow … I want them to have a clear understanding of what the job entails.

“I want to remove the redundancy of this,” Whelpley said. “So, I’m going to make the motion that we reduce the mayoral salary to $30,000 a year and make it a part-time position.”

Council Vice President Steve Schmalz seconded the motion, noting they had talked about this issue before, and that he was comfortable voting for it that night.

“It certainly isn’t a new item that we have been discussing,” Schmalz said. “I think it’s been an opinion of the public since it was first enacted.”

Caught off guard, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said the question deserved careful deliberation, rather than be made in haste.

Mukilteo local helps adapt toys for special needs children

Brandon Nguyen is a busy man. Having finished his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and working on a graduate degree in physical therapy, he spends a large amount of his time adapting toys for special needs children.

Nguyen, a Mukilteo local who graduated from Archbishop Murphy, is a chair member for HuskyADAPT, a UW organization that works with community members, health clinics and families to adapt toys and other products for children and people with special needs.

“Our mission is to foster an inclusive, sustainable, and multidisciplinary community supporting accessible design and play technology to empower individuals with disabilities.”

Nguyen and the organization have had a lot of success, which has allowed them to present their work at different conferences in the area.

“We adapt toys for children with special needs and design solutions to accessibility challenges,” Nguyen said. “I recently presented at a national physical therapy conference adapting toys for children with special needs, which will be donated to the Providence Children's Center in Everett.”


Council moves to eliminate Marko Liias’ position

After prolonged talks on 2018’s annual budget at the City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 4, council Vice President Steve Schmalz filed a motion that could save the city around $85,000 in 2018.

“I’m going to make a motion to eliminate the policy analyst position as of Dec. 31, 2017,” Schmalz said. “We’d save about $85,000.”

The motion was seconded by Councilmember Scott Whelpley.

Ultimately the motion passed four votes to three, and starting in 2018, Mukilteo won’t have a policy analyst position.

The position has been held by Marko Liias, a state senator and former Mukilteo city councilmember, since 2014.

The city also has a management services director position in the executive department, held by Steve Edin, along with the mayor’s position.

Council approves 2018 budget

Mukilteo’s City Council unanimously adopted Mukilteo’s 2018 budget at a special meeting last Wednesday, Dec. 6, after weeks of public hearings and discussions.

Mukilteo Finance Director Michelle Meyer took part in the discussions, using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track cuts and additions each councilmember wanted to put in the budget.

Councilmember Randy Lord led the council in voting on individual issues that they wanted to change for the amended budget. Lord has taken part in the budgetary process for 12 years, and this was his last budget meeting.

Mukilteo woman selected to American Public Works Association board

Snohomish County Public Works engineering services director Janice Fahning has helped improve transportation in the area for about 25 years.

The American Public Works Association (APWA) has recognized her work and, as a result, Fahning has been selected to serve as a board member for the APWA in 2018-19 for Washington.

“Janice is an invaluable member of our Public Works team, and this selection shows how much others value her engineering knowledge and leadership,” Snohomish County Public Works director Steve Thomsen said. “She has the ability to listen and collaborate along with being a strong leader. That will only make the APWA board that much more effective.”

The APWA has about 1,500 members across Washington maintaining transportation, water supply and treatment, and solid waste disposal systems, as well as public buildings and structures. According to Fahning, the board has a $750,000 budget, and their three focuses are education, networking and advocacy.

Fahning has been working with Snohomish County for four years, and has been in the engineering field for over two decades.

Local creates coloring book

In a time when politics are arguably more frustrating and divisive than ever, sometimes you need a good laugh.

That’s what Jim Corbett, co-author of the adult coloring book, “I am So Sick of White Guys,” thinks.

Corbett, who lives in Picnic Point, even revealed a “secret” about his co-author and himself.

“I’m going to let you in on a company secret,” Corbett said. “Tim and I are both white guys.”

Yes, Corbett and co-author Tim Jones, a published humor writer, are two white guys who are upset with the current political climate to the point where “even white guys are sick of white guys.”

In less than a year, Corbett and Jones crafted their idea and had it published at the end of November by Amazon.

“This all started last May when I was just shouting at my television,” Corbett said. “I was looking at all this stuff happening, and I said to myself, ‘I am so sick of these white guys doing crazy stuff.’”


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