2017 year in review of Front Page News Makers

It has been a very busy year throughout the Black Diamond/Maple Valley area this past year and those making it to the VOICE of the Valley newspaper Front Page are as follows:

JANUARY – Black Diamond City Council voted on December 27th to accept a temporary budget for 2017 that would need to be finalized and voted on by March 31, 2017.

Veterans from the Washington Soldier’s Home in Orting received a washing machine to replace an old machine. When the call went out for the need, Maple Valley/Black Diamond VFW Post 5052 stepped up and volunteered to pay for the machine.

Alliance Bible Church once again offered free firewood to the elderly or disabled members of the community.

Sound Generations were looking for volunteer drivers to help drive seniors to their life-sustaining medical appointments.

Hopes were dashed during a Black Diamond Work Study that Councilmembers would commit to working together on the 2017 City Budget.

Black Diamond Council Councilmember Pat Pepper was rushing through her changes to a new agenda that added new items, including rejection of the Mayor hiring a law firm to represent the City and Council in the Open Public Meetings Act lawsuit filed by CCD Black Diamond Partners LLC.

FEBRUARYWe the People was recognized for their 20th State Championship, by the Washington State Senate in a resolution sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet of Issaquah and Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn.

Maple Valley Planning Commission continued a public hearing on proposed amendments to the City’s zoning code regarding the sale of recreational marijuana within city limits.

A mudslide destroyed a family home and a call for help of donation items went out.

Debates began over the hiring of attorneys for Black Diamond Councilmembers regarding pending lawsuits found the City attempting to hire one attorney while Majority Councilmembers Erika Morgan, Brian Weber, and Pat Pepper wanted to hire their own attorney who would be paid for by the City.

Jurors heard of the catastrophic conditions in the 2014 vehicular homicide scene involving Andy Tedford, Suzanne McCay, Caleb Graham, Rehlein Stone, James Vaccaro and Nicholas Anderson.

Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council reported on Surface Water Management Fees; Water Availability and Permitting Study; and Black Diamond Open Space Stewardship Plan.

Tahoma Elementary, Middle School, JV and Varsity teams had a great final Orienteering meet where competitors used a map and compass to find check points in the woods that all lead to a finish point.

MARCH – Maple Valley Firefighters Benevolent Fund board of directors donated $7,500 on February 10th to the Vine Maple Place Children and Youth programs.

Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety notified the public of its intent to put a Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) issue on the August 1, 2017 ballot.

Jurors in the vehicular homicide case regarding Andy Tedford, Suzanne McCay, Caleb Graham, Rehlein Stone, James Vaccaro and Nicholas Anderson came back with a guilty verdict to seven charges against Anderson.

Deputy Bill Michels suffered a heart attack while arresting a DUI suspect. He was in ICU for a short time, and then made a full recovery.

Maple Valley Veterans Memorial – Serving those who served – update reported that the emphasis shifted to a fundraising effort for the Memorial that is to be placed by the Greater Maple Valley Community Center.

Tahoma High School Math Team took top honors at the Washington State Mu Alpha Theta competition held at Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn.

Black Diamond citizens continued to challenge Councilmembers during Public Comment at the March 16th Council meeting.

APRIL – Third grader Evan Stricker; 5th grader Stella Stricker; and 6th grader Sophia Stadler, all Tahoma School District students, formed a group called Joyful Noise that has blessed many an audience.

D’Ann Tedford, who sat in on many court hearings regarding the DUI collision that took her son Andy’s life and three others was ready to start life anew following sentencing of Nicolas Anderson.

Tahoma Robotics Club headed to the World Championship in Huston, Texas.

Recall petition was filed against Black Diamond Councilmembers Morgan and Pepper.

Fishing Derby time – Winners included CJ McConaghy, 1st place, Leon Vasquez, 2nd, and Richie Harrington, 3rd.

State Sen. Mark Mullet held a Town Hall meeting at Tahoma School District Central Services.

Maple Valley Lions Club was looking for Charter members for a new Lion’s Club.

MAY – Black Diamond Councilmembers Morgan, Weber and Pepper refused to go into executive session, but were observed talking with Bellevue resident Kristen Bryant, who encouraged the members not to go into the meeting. Meanwhile, the City came out with a clean audit announcement, as Majority Councilmembers refused to pay for a mediator to help them get along as a Council.

Tahoma High School presented their production of Ghost, the Musical.

Snoqualmie Nation Wood Carvers visited Tahoma Jr. High with Master Carver Elder John Mullen and his son, John. Students practiced wood carving skills on a six-foot dugout cedar canoe.

Black Diamond Council managed to get work done at their Council meeting with five items on the Agenda. It was also announced that Recall efforts against Morgan was dropped as she was up for election in the fall, however, Recall efforts regarding Pepper were still in place.

Tahoma National Cemetery prepared for Memorial Day services, which included flyovers of a WWII B-25 and Guardian One.

Hobart community dedicated their community playground, which is located on the Hobart Community Church property.

Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council announced the topic of their upcoming meeting as the Ravensdale Reserve Silica mine reclamation and toxics clean-up program.

JUNE – Memorial Day, May 29 was a busy day for the community as it honored Veterans at three local cemeteries – Maple Valley/Hobart, Black Diamond and Tahoma National Cemetery.

Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council meeting saw a good turnout for the presentation regarding the Ravensdale Reserve Silica Project. Questions were taken, following an information packed presentation.

A new gospel choir for youth (Sr.-Jr. high) and adults was looking to start up a community choir that would be performing at local events and happenings.

Kids’ Bike Challenge and Safety Rodeo was announced as the kicking off of summer events at Lake Wilderness.

Lake Wilderness Elementary was torn down making room for the new school by fall 2017.

JULY – Seventy-six bike competitors from 5-11 years old raced around Lake Wilderness Park looking for the fastest times in the annual Maple Valley Parks and Recreation Bike Challenge.

Black Diamond Neighbor to Neighbor members were out gathering signatures for the Recall of Pepper while she sought a stay in the process as well as relief from expedited review of the matter.

An Open House was held at Lake Wilderness Lodge as the Parks and Recreation Department sought input regarding playground equipment replacement at the park.

Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council reported on the Landsburg Mine site cleanup, Reserve Silica Mine site, and the Fire Benefit Rating System.

The community of Black Diamond came together to hold a fundraising event for Hunter Coffman who was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma in 2015, declared cancer free in 2016 and then relapsed in 2017.

A Life Jacket Loaner Station was placed in Cherokee Bay Community Park, by Pipe Lake. The community was encouraged to use the life jackets while at the lake and then return them when finished so others could use them. Other stations were placed at Lake Wilderness and Lake Forest Estates.

The newest Black Diamond Elementary nears completion.

AUGUST – The community was invited to help celebrate the newest Tahoma High School during its dedication on Tuesday, August 8, as well as by attending an Open House held on Saturday, August 12.

C-Span invited Gretchen Wulfing, social studies teacher at Tahoma High School, to a 2017 Educators’ Conference in Washington D.C. The conference provided educators the opportunity to explore C-Span’s programs and classroom’s free primary source materials.

Brian Derdowski and Kristen Bryant, both of Bellevue, were subpoenaed by CCD Black Diamond Partners LLC, requiring them to produce documents regarding their involvement with Black Diamond Councilmembers.

Black Diamond Elementary dedicated on Tuesday, August 7.

Black Diamond Majority Councilmembers ignore City Attorney warnings regarding their handling of agendas.

Tahoma High School graduates from yesteryear – Tom Ourada (1987) and Iris Scott (2002) – unveiled beautiful works of art placed at the school in each of their own artistic mediums (woodwork and finger painting) that will be enjoyed by students, faculty, administration and guests for years to come.

Black Diamond celebrated the addition of two new police officers – Austin Hershaw and Ryan Keller.

SEPTEMBER – The newest Lake Wilderness Elementary School was dedicated on Thursday, August 31.

Fundraiser announced to help local teachers, Mitch and Maureen Boyer, whose baby daughter, Lola, was very much in need of heart surgery.

Black Diamond November election heats up. Meanwhile, Neighbor to Neighbor members Johna Thomson and Robbin Taylor presented King County Elections with 639 signatures in support of the Recall of Councilmember Pepper.

When Coal Was King photo showed a historical photo of a building used to house rail crews in the town of Lester.

King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn delivered a surplus Metro Transit Vanpool van to the Black Diamond Community Center to assist the facility in its transportation needs in the community.

OCTOBER – Black Diamond artists, Patricia Moss and Mira Hoke, finished their painting masterpiece, while beautifying the King County Sewer Lift Station by the Black Diamond Cemetery.

Cartoonist Noel Franklin discussed her graphic memoir-in-progress, Girl On the Road, at Kent Regional Library.

20th Annual Maple Valley Model Train Show was held at the Gracie Hansen Community Center in Ravensdale.

When Coal Was King photo of Howard Hanson Dam, originally known as Eagle Gorge Dam. The dam was erected for flood control of the Kent valley and dedicated in May 1962.

NOVEMBER – Tahoma National Cemetery saluted Korean War Veterans during Veterans Day service.

Tahoma School District bus driver Connie Schmoll saved the life of a 4th grader, choking on a piece of candy, when she gave the student a Heimlich procedure that dislodged a piece of candy the student was eating.

Marcus Delgado was playing basketball during a fundraising event for baby Lola, with a heart condition needing surgery, when he himself had cardiac arrest and fell to the floor. Due to some quick action of those around him, including Lola’s dad who ran and got an automated emergency defibrillator at the new Tahoma High School, Delgado lived to serve another day as a reminder of the importance of knowing CPR and having access to automated emergency defibrillators.

Black Diamond citizens voted to retain Mayor Carol Benson, as well as voted for two new Councilmembers Erin Rose Stout and Melissa Oglesbee.

The City of Maple Valley was gearing up for their annual Hometown Holidays community event in the 4-Corners area, complete with the official lighting of the Christmas Tree.

Councilmembers Erika Morgan, Brian Weber and Pat Pepper were once again served with legal documents generated by Oakpointe during the November 16th Council meeting.

The first production in Tahoma High School’s new Performing Arts Center was Miracle on 34th Street.

DECEMBER – The 2017 Jerry Woods Holiday Engines were out and about collecting food and donations for the Maple Valley Food Bank.

Hometown Christmas was held on December 9th in Black Diamond with various activities scheduled from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. around the City.

Lakeside Industries proposal for an asphalt facility was the major topic of the Greater Maple Valley Unincorporated Area Council’s monthly meeting.

The annual Wreaths Across America event where wreaths are placed on gravesites at Tahoma National Cemetery took place on December 16th.

Lake Wilderness Park playground undergoes complete renovation during the month of December. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Friday, December 29.

Registration for Winter Recreation opened for the whole family with new adult classes as well.

Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety Holiday Engines collected 24,552 pounds of food (over 12 tons) along with $23,902 cash donations for the Maple Valley Food Bank.

VOICE of the Valley staff is proud to continue the 49-year tradition of bringing news from around the area to the greater community, and we would like to thank all of you, you’re our support. From all of us at the VOICE to all of you and your families – we wish you a happy and prosperous 2018!!