Top Stories of 2018 in the VOICE of the Valley


Hearty souls braved the rainy weather to be a witness a ribbon cutting ceremony regarding the Lake Wilderness Park playground project. Known as the Jewell of the City, Lake Wilderness Park officially became a part of the City of Maple Valley on January 1, 2003.

2018 – the start of a new year where hopes are on the rise within the community as the newest members of the Black Diamond City Council were sworn in on Thursday, January 4 following comfortable victories from the November 2016 General Election. Mayor Carol Benson was also victorious with a comfortable lead during the November Election. The newest Councilmembers wasted no time as they joined their fellow Councilmembers Janie Edelman (who was selected as Mayor Pro-Tempore by fellow Councilmembers), Tami Deady and Pat Pepper taking care of 31 pieces of agenda items.

Students in Cailan McCutchan’s class worked together on a “Choose Kind” to make hand-tied fleece blankets that were donated to Seattle Children’s Hospital and Smidget Dog Rescue in Maple Valley.

Maple Valley City Council welcomes newcomer to the Council, Linda Olson, as well as retains Sean Kelly as Mayor and Dana Parnello as Deputy Mayor. Judge Steven Rochon was also on hand to administer the oaths of office to not only Olson, but also for re-elected members Parnello and Erin Weaver.

Once becoming the majority on the Black Diamond City Council, Councilmembers Erika Morgan, who was already seated on the Council, Brian Weber and Pat Pepper, while stating that they were watching out for the welfare of the City, were racking up quite a large bill for the City that taxpayers watching the situation became quite concerned about.

One of the monetary areas hit was in the grant funding lost by the City due to Majority Councilmembers Morgan, Weber and Pepper refusing to act on agenda bills before them. When bills were presented with funding sources that would help pay in part or in full projects needing to be taken care of within the City, Majority Councilmembers would call out that the bills were for first reading only and then assigned to a “committee.” Despite calls over the weeks/months by Councilmembers Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman to bring the bills out of committee to vote on as deadlines were looming, the Majority, for the most part, kept the bills tied up by sometimes moving them from one “committee” to another.

Area Council Biennial Citizens’ Advisory Survey. Close to 7,560 ballots/surveys were mailed to registered voters in the unincorporated area of the Tahoma School District–the Area Council’s territory. This was the first time we mailed, in advance, a large post-card to all registered voters announcing the Survey.

We received 282 completed surveys, which we consider good for the first time conducting the Survey completely online (some paper surveys were available at local markets in Hobart and Ravensdale). We are pleased to receive citizens’ opinions and concerns on so many key issues.


The Washington State Senate today honored Tahoma High School’s “We the People” team with a resolution sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, in recognition of the school’s 22nd state championship.

Mrs. Page teaches Aquiculture (Animal Science) and is the Tahoma FFA Instructor.

Page has been teaching at Tahoma High School for 34 years. She loves showing her students how to take care of animals and farming and helping the students train their animals for showing them at the fairs.

Registration for the popular Community Police Academy (CPA) is now opened until filled. The King County Sheriff’s Office and the cities of Maple Valley and Covington are working cooperatively to help the community gain a better understanding of police operations through education and interaction with law enforcement officers


Black Diamond has a new Councilmember – Chris Wisnoski. Chosen from a field of 4 candidates during the Black Diamond Council meeting on Thursday, March 1, Wisnoski replaces former Councilmember Pat Pepper following her recall on Tuesday, February 13.

On Monday, March 5, the Area Council held its monthly meeting. Our Guest Speaker was District 43 Fire Chief Aaron Tyerman. Major topics discussed were: (1) King County Cedar River Sites Industrial Moratorium (CRSIM) Study (related to the proposed Asphalt facility move); (2) Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) VISION 2050; (3) King County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan (CSWMP), and (4) PSRC Regional Open Space Conservation Plan (ROSCP).

Following the February 13thSpecial Ballot Measure regarding the Recall of Councilmember Pat Pepper where 66.64% (845) of the eligible 1268 voters cast a “no” vote for her to remain in office another 2 years, the City of Black Diamond called on the community to come forward and apply for Pepper’s vacated seat. In an effort to have someone selected as soon as possible, interested applicants needed to have their applications in by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27.

Between 1-2 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, a Driver possibly suffered medical emergency as their car somehow hit a parked truck outside the O’Reilly’s in Maple Valley pushing the truck completely into the store. The driver was transported to Harborview hospital with serious injuries. No one in the store was injured.


The Tahoma High School Math Team earned top honors at the Washington State Mu Alpha Theta (MATH) competition at Thomas Jefferson High School on March 24 with 300 participants.  Murou Wang, Leon Hong, James Goetz, Mallika Sansgiri, Laena Tieng, Noah Miller, and Emily Clark competed with the 17 of the top schools in the state. The team was recognized for placing in 8 areas of competition and taking home a well-deserved plaque for 7th place in overall sweepstakes as a school!

Had a great turn out for our first Open House for Tahoma FFA – Showing our newly designed barn at MVMS (old THS GREENHOUSE). Thank you for all the support and donations to the Maple Valley Food Bank $525.

Black Diamond Museum, Mayor Carol Benson, along with a host of friends and family, surprised past Mayor Gomer Evans Jr. with the announcement that the lower portion of Lawson Avenue would now be formally changed to “Gomer Evans Jr. Drive.”  Evans was appointed as the Mayor Pro Tem in late 1973 following the death of then Mayor Vic Weston. He went on to be elected and served as Mayor from 1974-1978.

The Greater Maple Valley – Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Maple Valley Rotary and the City of Maple Valley, presents the 16th annual celebration of “Hooked On Fishing” Opening Day Trout Season on Lake Wilderness!

A young girls basketball team started playing together as third graders in a sport they loved. Those former third graders, now age 13, stayed on court for four years as a team. The group, Tahoma Bears Gold 7thGrade Girls Team, can also now call themselves “State Champions.”


The 2018 Maple Valley Fishing Derby Has Come and Gone with Camping, Fun and Fish!

Another moment in history was marked Friday at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks All-Sports Awards Ceremony. The first Linda Moffitt Leadership in Courage Award was awarded to cross country runner, Cheyenne Greenside by Vice Chancellor Keith Champagne at the Schaible Auditorium on the UAF Campus.

Taking time to stop and reflect on, as well as pay honor to, all the men and women, who have served and who are currently serving this nation day in and day out 356 days of the year, should be one of the most important moments of anyone’s day – especially on Memorial Day.

One doesn’t need to ask Gordon B. Baird (Gordie) what he will be doing on the national holiday, May 28. He carries his placard message and a personal flag along streets, in community buildings, anywhere a spectator might be curious about his message.

The last Monday in May, in the U.S., is declared Memorial Day, the federal holiday created to give recognition and remembrance of those who died in the armed forces while serving this country. Baird’s personal placard offers a chilling reminder: “VIETNAM IS STILL KILLING US”. His emphasis, he says, is the word STILL. Baird’s life is being claimed now, 50 years after his service in Long Binh, Vietnam. After being cured of an initial cancer, the disease has now spread to bones and other areas of his body. Asked about any prognoses that he’s been given by doctors, his reply is three words, “about a year.”

Tahoma School Board voted 5-0 to offer Tony Giurado a contract to become the next superintendent of schools.

Giurado, Chief Academic Officer of the Mesa County Valley School District in Grand Junction, Colo., and Doug Hostetter, Executive Director of Secondary Education for Tacoma Public Schools, were finalists for the position. The board made its decision after meeting in executive session for four hours Tuesday to evaluate and discuss the candidates. The board convened in a special open session at noon to vote.


First on the minds of all those attending Memorial Day – Monday, May 28 – ceremonies at the Maple Valley/Hobart, Black Diamond, and Tahoma National Cemeteries was showing honor to all those men and women of the military services who gave their lives – with some paying the ultimate price – in service to their country.

Tahoma Superintendent Rob Morrow received the Golden Maple Leaf Award from the City of Maple Valley in a surprise presentation at Tuesday’s School Board meeting. The annual award is given by the City Council in recognition of significant positive contributions to the community.

The Tahoma School Board approved two proposals, May 29, that use reserve funds to maintain critical technology and transportation needs. The board authorized purchase of six school buses, using $300,000 in state depreciation funding and $500,000 from the district’s fund balance reserve. Three buses will be equipped with luggage compartments that can be used to transport equipment for sports teams or marching band. The purchase makes it possible to replace several older buses now used as spares.

On Friday evening, June 1, Military Club of Tahoma High School hosted its first annual “Send-Off” for seniors entering into military service. It is their way of saying to their classmates; thank you, safe travels, and uninterrupted success in their defense of our nation. In his address, Keynote Speaker Colonel Michael Meyer instructed the fifteen enlistees on the meaning of their oath, the challenges and dangers they will face, and his personal gratitude for their willingness to serve. Each enlistee was introduced by their military recruiter with anecdotes about the recruit and their planned specializations within the service. SSgt. Luis Vega (USMC) and SFC Josh Garlick (Army) spoke as well on the meaning and importance of military service.

Friends since grade school, Parker Kneadler and Colt Sherrell just finished their high school athletics, playing golf on a high note when they, along with teammates, took second place at the State Championships.


The City of Maple Valley’s Annual Independence Day picnic is presented this year’s Title sponsor Fred Meyer with Event Sponsor Recology Clean Scapes and Stage Sponsor Amber Bills Group. This fun day is designed to appeal to local families and will include a wide variety of things to do.

Dress yourself for picnic-style comfortable and get prepared for surprises and a walk through memories from the past. Then attend Tahoma High School’s reunion and Annual Picnic. It is scheduled by Maple Valley Historical Society (MVHS), always on the first Sunday of August.

“We’re Moving” is the postcard sized message sent from Maple Valley Historical Society (MVHS) to their newsletter subscribers, to the community, to Tahoma School District alumni. Moving, in the notice, was actually an invitation to come. The invitation continues, “Join us for a ‘Last Look Open House’ to see the schoolhouse and museum collections before we move.”

The cost of building a tiny house, $2500 in donations, had been tallied and spent. Materials for construction were delivered via six truckloads to safe storage. Tools were loaned and enthusiasm cooked to a boil. In response, a talented volunteer work crew assembled last Wednesday to complete the first four steps in building a tiny Home for the Homeless. In 3½ hours they completed a floor with insulation.

Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) provides many supportive services for the homeless. Mark Friesen, a newcomer to the Maple Valley Four Corners area, is a member of LIHI. He first initiated the idea for building a Tiny House to Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church (SVLC). LIHI partners with Puget Sound cities, businesses, non-profits, churches and schools to address the Puget Sound area homeless epidemic. They provide “very simple” 23-step tiny house assembly instructions that are often completed in five days by a small work crew.


On Thursday, August 2, City of Maple Valley Parks Department, Councilmembers and others celebrated the groundbreaking of Summit Park.

Summit Park is 14.57 acres and is located at the northwest corner of SE 276thStreet and Maple Valley Highway (State Route 169).

It consists of 14. 57 acres. Once completed the park will have restrooms picnic areas, 3 sports fields, skate park, walking trails, playground – for all ages and abilities.

Future plans are to add a dog park with an off leash area and sports courts.

The first event scheduled at the Park is “Be the HOPE Walk” on July 20, 2019. This is a Cancer fundraiser spearheaded by Tina McDonough.

On Thursday evening July 9, 2018 Maple Valley City Councilmembers, City Parks and Recreation Staff and lots of spectators were in attentance for the grand Ribbon Cutting of the new Lake Wilderness Beach House.

The whole Beach House was completely renovated with new bathrooms, new concessions stand and more. The renovation is not complete yet, but soon will be adding landscaping around the Beach House as well.

Meanwhile the concessions stand is open for business. Come and check it out!

On Monday, August 6, the Area Council held a Special Event at its monthly meeting with 60 people in attendance. An open discussion was held on the proposed reopening of the John Henry Mine by the Pacific Coast Coal Co. (PCCC). For more background, a variety of documents are available for review on the Area Council’s Environment Committee web page: environment/. These include the Federal Environmental Assessment (EA), Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), initial Federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSMRE) comments, and the comments on this proposal submitted by the Area Council, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER).

Prior to the meeting our guest speakers were provided a set of four overriding questions: (1) What role does the Federal OSMRE play in the renewal of coal mining operations? (2) What are the permitting responsibilities of the State and King County going forward? (3) What reclamation activities are required and planned?

(4) What statutory discretion does the State possess under RCW 78.44.055 to assume primary responsibility for the permitting and oversight of surface coal mining?

“In My Neighborhood” is a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle designed for children ages six and older.  In Maple Valley there is a 187-piece accumulation of puzzling construction materials. Children, teens, and a work crew of ten adults are assembling those pieces as a “Tiny House” in Homes for the Homeless, a summer project at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church on SE 216thStreet.

“Celebrate what is. Commit to what can be.” The uplifting slogan is a call to action posted at a newly constructed building that houses Children’s Therapy Center (CTC). It offers a bright future for babies and toddlers. The philosophy announces a service conveniently located at the boundaries of Black Diamond, Covington and Maple Valley that converge. Early intervention on behalf of children from birth to age three is the focus of CTC’s newest location; the non-profit organization services children birth to 18 months at other locations in South King and Pierce counties. It is the largest provider of pediatric therapy in Washington State.


The City of Maple Valley Council paid special tribute to beach safety and the Lake Wilderness Swim Beach lifeguards during the city’s annual Town Hall Meeting and Birthday Celebration at Lake Wilderness Lodge on Monday, August 27.

A Spaghetti Feed Dinner and Dance Fundraiser is being held at Black Diamond Eagles Hall this Saturday, Sept. 15.  The general public is invited to the five-hour program where all proceeds go toward supporting the children’s holiday event, “Hometown Christmas.”

On Monday, September 10, the Area Council held a Special Event at its monthly meeting with ~50 people in attendance. State and County responses to the State Supreme Court’s Hirst decision (ensure water is both legally and factually available for any proposed use) and their plans to implement the State Legislature’s solution (ESSB 6091) were presented and discussed with the Council members and public attendees. Guest speakers were: Stacy J. Vynne McKinstry— Streamflow Restoration Program Unit Supervisor, State Department of Ecology (DOE); Randy Sandin—Interim Assistant Director of Permitting, King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER); and Josh Baldi—Director of the Water and Land Resources Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP).

Tiny House is complete. Hope for homelessness in the Pacific Northwest continues. The construction process took two and a half months of Wednesday evenings. It exceeded expectation in professional leadership with a strong work crew and support staff. Donations totaling $3277 provided materials. And finally … curtains. The house is finished. The local Tiny House that was built with guidance from Low Income Housing Institute is on its way to Seattle. There it will join a small community of 8’x12’ sleeping-and-storage units for homeless people.

Dwight Dively, Director of the King County Office of Management and Budget, will discuss the upcoming County biennial budget (see: executive/performance-strategy-budget/budget/2019-2020.aspx).


On Thursday, Sept 20, 2018, at the Black Diamond City Council meeting, Officer Ryan Keller was presented with a life saving award for his actions back in July. Officer Keller was on his way home when he heard a call about a citizen having a medical event. Officer Keller headed to the location and performed CPR, saving the citizen’s life. Great job Officer Keller!

The first official flag raising ceremony at Ten Trails Civic Center was held during Hometown Harvest last Saturday. Veterans conducted the ceremony attended by Black Diamond mayor Carol Benson as well as three prior mayors: Howard Botts, Rebecca Olness and Gomer Evans.

The door swings wide open and in comes bunches of children pulling their parents forward. The loud whistle blows CHOO-CHOO as they stop, trying to absorb the bright lights and the movement of a dozen whizzing projects before them. The kids are all saying, “Let’s go! I see toys”, as the adults restrain them, suddenly aware of someone right next to them with a greeting of “Welcome to the train show.”

7th annual Girls’ Generation Competition. An event that promotes women in STEM careers as well as being affiliated with the high school. We participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), part of an organization that promotes science and technology to K-12 students.

As many as six World War II biplanes will conduct a flyover at Tahoma National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11 at 11:05 AM, in recognition of the World War I centennial. The flyover, which will consist of two passes of the open cockpit planes at an altitude of 500 feet, will include the Boeing-Stearman Model 75 and N3N aircraft performing a Missing Man Formation in honor of all veterans who have died in military service. Members of the Stearman Group of Puget Sound will be piloting the flyover, weather permitting.


Ground Breaking of Veteran’s Memorial – Greater Maple Valley Community Center, 22010 SE 248thSt, Maple Valley, WA 98038. Hosted by The Greater Maple Valley Veterans Memorial Foundation.

Bear Metal, the robotics team from Tahoma High School, hosted their annual Girls’ Generation Competition. Bear Metal started Girls Gen back in 2012 with the goal of giving girls in the Pacific Northwest a chance to get involved in their robotics teams, as well as promoting women in STEM careers.

At this competition, the robot drive teams must be made up of girls. The team is part of the FIRST robotics competition (FRC), a high school program that has teams build and compete with a robot in a task-based challenge. Girl’s Generation is part of the FRC off-season. Bear Metal’s girls ended the qualification matches ranked 4th out of 33.

Tahoma Wrestling is hosting a fundraiser collecting new and gently used clean shoes of all sizes and kinds, from flips-flops to combat boots. They are working to reach their goal of 2,500 pairs of shoes.

The theme of this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony was, Celebrating the 100thAnniversary of the end of World War 1. Mary Elder Assistant Regional Director, External Affairs Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the Keynote Speaker. Guest Speaker Lieutenant Colonel Fawcett, Commanding Officer Canadian Detachment JBLM, provided an address, provided an overview of the role Canadian Forces had in the many wars they have been involved in. Royal Canadian Air Force Master Corporal, Jason Roswell read the Poem Flanders Fields.

Joe Zumek attended Black Diamond High School until the spring of 1943. He left to enlist in the Army during World War II, 27 months of duty. But he never received his certificate of graduation, a diploma. He is now 94 and will be 95 in December. While interviewing Joe to obtain some town history, the Black Diamond Historical Society became aware of the fact that to Joe, having not received his diploma was a major regret for him. The Society contacted Enumclaw School District Superintendent, Mike Nelson, since Enumclaw holds the academic records for Black Diamond. Although they searched the archives, they were unable to locate the diploma. In contacting the Department of Veteran Affairs they learned DVA has a program allowing them to issue the diploma in cases such as Joe’s.


Christmas Tree Lightings Coming to Black Diamond, Hobart and Maple Valley.

Tahoma National Cemetery will host Wreaths Across America, an annual holiday wreath-laying ceremony to honor and remember our nation’s Veterans at the Tahoma National Cemetery Flag Pole Assembly Area – 18600 SE 240th Street, Kent, WA  98042

This year’s theme is “Be Their Witness”. The inspiration for this year’s theme stems from the 2009 drama “Taking Chance,” which was based on the experiences of U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl, who escorted the body of a fallen Marine, PFC Chance Phelps back to his hometown in Wyoming from the Iraq War.

Celebrate The Reason For The Season At One Of These Churches.

A school bus recently unloaded 30 students and three classroom teachers from Auburn Mountainview High School at the Black Diamond Museum. These students, from their Washington State History, sociology, and civic classes, were in town for a unique approach to studying local history: a live performance featured coal mining songs written and sung by Steve Israel; a slideshow with Dee Israel gave visual clarity to the lyrics; and narration by Don Mason embellished the event with personal stories gleaned from the coal miners.