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Federal Way's top stories of 2010 | Year in review

The World Championship of Sand Sculpting made its U.S. debut in September in Federal Way. Many of the sculptures suffered rain damage. The competition will return in 2011. - Mirror file photo
The World Championship of Sand Sculpting made its U.S. debut in September in Federal Way. Many of the sculptures suffered rain damage. The competition will return in 2011.
— image credit: Mirror file photo

The following is a month-by-month retrospective of Federal Way's top stories from 2010.

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January 2010

• Murphy’s retirement: Former Federal Way Superintendent Tom Murphy gives his final “State of the Schools” speech. The event draws a crowd of 230. Murphy announced his retirement in fall 2009 after a 20-year career in the district, with 10 years as superintendent.

• Leticia Granados: Federal Way High School student Leticia Granados died Jan. 13 after a battle with cancer. One of Granados’ last desires was to graduate high school, which she did in a special ceremony shortly before her death.

• Homicide: Federal Way’s first homicide of 2010 occurs Jan. 17 at a home on 20th Avenue South. Two people were shot, one died at around 4:30 a.m. at a purported house party.

• Federal Way dodges traffic: A proposal to replace Northeast Tacoma’s Northshore Golf Course with several hundred homes was denied Jan. 7. Hearing examiner Wick Dufford denied a rezone modification, preliminary plat approval and site plan approval for The Point at Northshore. The development would have replaced the 116-acre golf course, at 4101 North Shore Boulevard NE and 1611 Browns Point Boulevard NE, with approximately 860 homes. Among other things, the development would have brought significantly more traffic to Federal Way.

• Mayor’s salary set at $9,400 a month: Federal Way’s first elected mayor will earn less than mayors in some nearby cities, but the salary certainly won’t be small change. On Jan. 22, the Independent Salary Commission established the salary and benefits package for the city’s elected mayor position. The mayor will receive $112,800 per year and be privy to a benefits package similar to that provided to the city’s non-represented employees.

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February 2010

• Education funding: On Feb. 4, King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ruled that the Legislature was not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fund basic education. This was a victory for the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) in its lawsuit against the state. The Federal Way school board voted in 2008 to support NEWS’ suit.

• Twin Lakes drama: A controversial amenities proposal was defeated by Twin Lakes homeowners. The proposal asked residents to pay an additional $25 a month in homeowners association dues to benefit the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. In exchange, residents would have received limited access to the club’s facilities. The debate centered on the private country club’s relation to property values in Twin Lakes. Many supporters saw the proposal as a small investment to prevent a drastic lowering of the neighborhood’s home values. Opponents decried the proposal as an unnecessary bailout that forced homeowners to pay for something they didn’t use.

• Tech levy: The Federal Way Public Schools’ technology levy passed and was certified on Feb. 24. Initial poll results showed the measure losing. The levy provides funds for technology upgrades like new computers, new operating systems, server upgrade, wireless access, video projectors and technology staff.

• Animal control: Federal Way opted to break from King County to operate its own animal control services. On Feb. 16, the city council voted 6-to-1 to create an animal control unit within the police department. Federal Way was one of 34 King County cities outside Seattle that contracted with the county for animal control. The service includes animal sheltering, licensing and responses to complaints. By summer, Federal Way offered the same services at a lesser price than King County.

• Happy birthday to Federal Way: Federal Way celebrated 20 years of cityhood since incorporating on Feb. 28, 1990. A bevy of activities and celebrations were held Feb. 26-28. Looking back, land use was the hot issue in unincorporated Federal Way. A building boom in the 1980s sent land use out of control. Local leaders wanted to incorporate in order to establish Federal Way’s own codes and development regulations.

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March 2010

• Red light camera fines: A judge dismissed a class action lawsuit filed against 18 defendants, including Federal Way, by plaintiffs with grievances against red light and speed zone photo enforcement fines. U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour ruled in the case March 2. The cities named in the lawsuit were Federal Way, Auburn, Bellevue, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Burien, Fife, Issaquah, Lacey, Lake Forest Park, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Puyallup, Renton, SeaTac, Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma. Red Flex Traffic Systems Inc. and American Traffic Systems Inc., both operators of camera enforcement systems, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in June 2009 and brought by more than 40 drivers who claimed tickets issued in conjunction with the defendants’ enforcement cameras are unlawful.

• Teach for America: The Federal Way School Board heard a presentation from Teach for America, a nonprofit that supplies low-income schools with teachers. Teach for America’s teachers are not certified, but many come from Ivy League schools. Teach for America is still not active in Federal Way schools, but is targeting summer 2011 to launch in the region.

• Superintendent search: The school board began screening applicants looking to become Federal Way’s newest superintendent. The candidates visited Federal Way for the first time March 20 for a daylong, closed-door interview process with the board.

• Man shoots wife at Federal Way church: Charles L. Parsons, 41, of Lakewood, was charged with first-degree murder of his ex-wife Carol Parsons, 38, of Lakewood. Parsons allegedly shot his ex-wife in the torso March 17 during a counseling session at Calvary Lutheran Church, 2415 S. 320th St. in Federal Way. Charles and Carol Parsons were married for 12 years and had three children in common. The couple divorced about a year before the shooting.

• WASL retired: The Washington Assessment of Student Learning was retired. It was replaced by the High School Proficiency Exam, which students took for the first time on March 16. The HSPE was advertised as shorter: the WASL took two sessions to administer, while HSPE takes one.

• Soldier dies: Federal Way resident Army Specialist Erin McLyman, 26, was killed in Balad, Iraq, on March 13 by mortar fire. A memorial was held March 30. It was McLyman’s first deployment in Iraq; she was assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division as a wheeled vehicle mechanic.

• Flaming fad: A smelly and dangerous trend swept through Federal Way schools when students used cans of Axe Body Spray as flame throwers. The district threatened to expel anyone caught using the body spray as a fire starter; students were allowed back at school if they completed a fire safety course.

• Brian Walsh: The community paid its respects to Federal Way police officer Brian M. Walsh on March 26 during a memorial rich with tradition. Walsh, 34, died March 21 as police investigated a crime scene involving a stolen vehicle. Walsh was among officers who set up a perimeter around the area after one suspect fled the scene. He was found collapsed in his patrol vehicle. CPR was administered, but to no avail. The medical examiner declared Walsh’s cause of death a heart attack. The memorial took place at Federal Way’s Christian Faith Center. It included honor and color guard, a bagpipe and drum band, a slideshow of Walsh’s life and the reading of the “Policeman’s Prayer.”

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April 2010

• In with the Neu: Robert Neu was selected as Federal Way’s new superintendent on April 6. He started the new job on July 1.

• Bomb: A bomb was discovered April 26 at Rainier View Elementary school’s playground. It turned out to be a 6-inch pipe bomb. School was closed for a few hours while the device was disposed.

• Dash Point spill: An April 29 fuel spill closed Dash Point State Park for nearly a week. The spill originated from a 300-gallon fuel tank, owned by a private contractor, being used for a Washington State Department of Transportation project.

• Westway: In an annual tradition, community volunteers gathered to show Federal Way’s Westway neighborhood some loving care. Approximately 90 volunteers from Federal Way AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity Seattle/South King County, along with Westway homeowners and others convened in the neighborhood near Southwest 334th Street. Volunteers painted fences, picked up trash and planted flowers during the annual Westway Community Day of Action. The group paid its respects to a longtime neighborhood advocate and leader, Jimmy Box, who helped transform the neighborhood — once known for its criminal activity.

• Federal Way parks: Non-residents of Federal Way will now pay more to reserve coveted recreation space at the city’s parks and special event sites. Locations such as Steel Lake Park, Celebration Park and Saghalie Middle School feature picnic spots and areas used for special events. The council voted to increase, by 50 percent, year-round non-resident fees to reserve a picnic or special event area. Council also voted to keep Federal Way residents’ rates the same during the peak season and lower the prices by 25 percent during the off-season, November to April. Previously, reservation fees were the same for residents and non-residents.

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May 2010

• School budget: Outgoing superintendent Tom Murphy put forth his final school budget, which reveals no teacher layoffs, though the district at the time was predicted to lose $3.1 million in state funding due to budget cuts.

• Federal Way Regional Library reopens: A crowd gathered beside soft yellow walls glowing with the touch of elongated sun rays for a sneak peak of the newly renovated Federal Way Regional Library. The library, located at 34200 1st Way S., had been closed for renovations since March 2009. It reopened to the public June 5. “We’ve been waiting for it (to open) and we’re just delighted,” Federal Way resident Mike Lane said.

• School construction: The Babbit Neuman Construction Company is awarded a contract to build a new Sunnycrest Elementary school with its bid of $9.8 million.

• MLK Celebration: City council member Roger Freeman attempted to revive Federal Way’s long-standing Martin Luther King celebration. Freeman, who was elected to the city council in 2009, promised Federal Way residents he’d strive to better recognize and celebrate the city’s diversity. In May, he spearheaded the first meeting to form a new MLK committee and plan the annual January event, which has struggled since former committee chairman Ron Walker stepped down in 2009.

• Buds and Blooms and garden fever: Federal Way held its annual Buds and Blooms spring garden festival May 8-9, featuring the Federal Way Senior Center Community Garden, West Hylebos Wetlands Park, PowellsWood Garden, Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and the Federal Way Farmers Market. The Federal Way Senior Center Community Garden, which opened in May 2009, has fueled a small movement to spread gardens across the city: On Sept. 22, a groundbreaking ceremony at Truman High School welcomed the city’s second community garden.

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June 2010

• Federal Way lowers gambling tax: On June 15, the city council voted unanimously to lower the tax on pull tabs from 5 percent to 3 percent. The move was first considered in May when P.J. Pockets Casino, located at 1320 S. 324th St., closed due to a lagging economy and a hefty gambling tax on card rooms. The council, shortly after the closure, considered lowering both the card room and pull tab taxes. The council unanimously voted June 1 to slice the card table tax in half, from 20 percent to 10 percent, but at that time, could not agree on the percentage by which to decrease pull tab taxes. The casino finally re-opened in October.

• School groundbreaking: Ground is broken June 3 on a new Lakeland Elementary School. Ground is broken June 10 for a new Sunnycrest. Click here to learn more.

• Octopus’s garden: Georgette, an octopus living at Highline Community College’s Marine Science and Technology center, is released into the Puget Sound. Georgette grew by 10 feet in her seven-month stay at Highline.

• Students die in DUI crash: Decatur High School students Derek King, 17, and Nicholas Hodgins, 18, were killed June 9 after being rear-ended by a drunken driver after their car broke down on Interstate 5 in Tukwila. King died at the scene and Hodgins died the next day. Hodgins and King would have graduated high school on June 12. Alexander Peder of Kirkland was charged in their deaths; Peder had a blood alcohol content of .16 at the scene of the crash, according to police reports.

• Business incubator: A major step toward revitalizing Federal Way’s business sector was celebrated June 21 when the Chamber of Commerce’s business incubator opened. The South Sound Regional Business Incubator (SSRBI) is designed to assist start-ups and companies looking to expand. The incubator offers business owners resources and services to launch their venture and keep it flourishing. Financial management tools, business planning, Internet access, marketing advice, access to capital, business training programs, mentoring and more are available to participants.

• Farewell: June 30 was Tom Murphy’s last day as superintendent of Federal Way schools.

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July 2010

• Mayor race: A debate on July 19 at Federal Way High School featured four mayoral candidates for the primary election: Federal Way City Council members Jim Ferrell, Linda Kochmar and Mike Park, and State Rep. Skip Priest (Priest and Ferrell advanced to the November election). Meanwhile, five candidates competed for Priest’s vacant seat in the Legislature.

• Federal Way rescues World Championship of Sand Sculpting: Just when Federal Way’s World Championship of Sand Sculpting competition looked like it would be a bust, the city agreed to pitch in $58,000 to rescue the event. The Federal Way City Council voted 3-2 to give the non-profit Federal Way Community Council, the championship’s organizing body, the remaining money it needed to hold the competition. The funding was considered a grant because the city was not allowed to act as a loaning agency. It came from the city’s $3 million Redevelopment Fund. The $58,000 was requested by World Championship Sand Sculpting executive board members Rudi Alcott, also publisher of The Mirror, and Bob Hitchcock.

• iPads in schools: The Federal Way School District considered using Apple iPads in classrooms. Apple representatives gave the school board a presentation on all the tablet computer’s educational applications.

• School facilities: The school district broke ground on a new facilities and maintenance center in an empty lot at the end of 332nd Street near Celebration Park.

• Photo enforcement: Federal Way will continue to use photo enforcement cameras into 2013. On July 20, the city council unanimously approved renewing and extending the city’s contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS). The company’s cameras capture photos and take brief videos of red light and school speed zone violations. The city has contracted with ATS for the cameras since 2008. Use of photo enforcement has generated mixed reactions from the public. Local leaders said the cameras make the city’s intersections and school zones safer.

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August 2010

• Fire district’s proposal fails: Proposition One, also known as South King Fire and Rescue’s proposed service benefit charge, failed at the Aug. 17 primary election. The proposal was an effort to stabilize the fire district’s revenue and maintain the current level of service.

• Sonic booms: Two loud booms rattled offices and homes in the Puget Sound region around 1:50 p.m. Aug. 17. The booms were felt from Gig Harbor to Seattle and came from military aircraft. During a regional visit by President Obama, two F-15 jets scrambled from Portland in response to a breach of air space by a private Cessna floatplane.

• Federal Way ‘triangle’ interchange: An eager crowd celebrated the groundbreaking of long-awaited road improvements to Federal Way’s Triangle Project, which refers to the interchange in southern Federal Way where Highway 161 (Enchanted Parkway), Highway 18 and Interstate 5 meet. The interchange has long held a reputation for being dangerous and hair-raising for drivers. Federal Way and King County officials have worked to fund the project for more than a decade. Improvements to the interchange will demand the public’s patience, but are expected to make the roadways safer and easier to navigate.

• Sand sculpting: The 2010 World Championship of Sand Sculpting event prepared to come to Federal Way and began accepting volunteers. This was the first time the event was hosted in the United States.

• Budget cuts: City manager Brian Wilson released his proposed 2011-2012 budget, recommending cutting 39.58 full-time filled staff positions. Layoffs are necessary to close Federal Way’s $9 million (about $4.5 million per year) gap and balance the budget. Layoffs will occur in nearly all departments. Public safety, the mayor’s office and community development will see the most staff decreases. The police will feel the biggest squeeze. The 136-person staff stands to lose 18 officers by the end of 2012.

• Hotel opens: Hampton Inn and Suites officially opened for business Aug. 24 in Federal Way. The 80,000-square-foot, five-story hotel is located at 31720 Gateway Center Blvd. S., just off Interstate 5 at the South 320th Street exit. The hotel features 142 guest rooms and has 40 full-time employees.

• Faked pregnancy: A Federal Way woman faced multiple charges in a case involving a faked pregnancy and thousands of dollars in child support payments. Carmen Lynn Johnsen was accused of forgery, first-degree theft and first-degree perjury after an investigation by the Federal Way Police Department. In December 2008, Johnsen told a man she was seeing that she was pregnant with his child, and the man eventually began paying $700 a month in child support. Johnsen continued cashing the man’s checks after receiving negative results on three pregnancy tests.

• World Vision: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that Federal Way-based World Vision is lawful in hiring only Christians. Three former World Vision employees were fired in 2006 due to their non-Christian beliefs. The group filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in 2007. That court granted World Vision a summary judgement and, in 2009, the plaintiffs appealed the District Court’s decision. On Aug. 23, the Appeals Court ruled 2-1 that the Christian-based organization is exempt from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars religious discrimination in hiring. Exemptions are given to corporations, associations, educational institutions or societies that can be shown to be “primarily religious,” as defined by “religious and secular characteristics.”

• FUSION festival: The annual FUSION summer arts festival, themed “Under the Tuscan Sun,” was held Aug. 4 at Dumas Bay Centre in Federal Way. The festival featured plenty of local art, live and silent auctions, Italian food and entertainment. FUSION stands for Friends United to Shelter the Indigent, Oppressed and Needy. The money raised at the FUSION summer arts festival helps homeless women and children in the area live more self-sufficiently. FUSION’s net proceeds amounted to $123,000 for the 2010 event.

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September 2010

• Dash Point State Park closes: The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced that Dash Point State Park will close for about eight months, beginning Sept. 7, to complete construction of a new sewer system. The park is scheduled to reopen in May 2011. The park, located on Dash Point Road in Federal Way, has experienced temporary closures due to sewer system failures. The sewer system will be rebuilt with $3.4 million from the 2009-2011 capitol budget.

• Bikini baristas spark code amendment: Federal Way considered amending city code to limit the amount of skin bikini baristas, and other individuals, can publicly display. The Parks, Recreation, Human Services and Public Safety city council subcommittee proposed an amendment to the public morals code that specifically defines lewd public conduct and addresses behaviors such as indecent exposure. The measure was needed to eliminate gray areas in the code, deputy police chief Andy Hwang said. It was also a proactive measure needed to establish acceptable attire for bikini baristas in Federal Way. The city’s first such business, Pink Spot Cafe, began operating a few months before at 27525 Pacific Highway S. The business was not violating code had not generated complaints.

• Vending machines: Federal Way schools stopped serving high-calorie sodas in their vending machines. Elementary schools serve only water; middle school machines serve water and juice; high school machines serve water, juice, diet soda and various Sobe and Gatorade brand drinks.

• Lakota Middle School: The new Lakota Middle School opens. The school features one of the largest solar energy systems in Washington. School officials estimate the system can produce up to 15 percent of Lakota’s energy needs on a given day.

• Student achievement: Adequate Yearly Progress results from spring 2010 state testing arrived. Several schools did not make AYP including Decatur High School, Federal Way High School, Todd Beamer High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, Illahee Middle School, Lakota Middle School, Sacajawea Middle School, Saghalie Middle School, Totem Middle School, Sequoyah Middle School, Wildwood Elementary School, Internet Academy, and the TAF academy.

• Policy Governance: The Federal Way school board adopted a “Policy Governance” style of leadership. This style was touted as giving more responsibility to district administrators, allowing the board to act as a “think tank.” The board had been working on the move to Policy Governance for almost two years.

• Federal Way City Council asks skyscraper developer for a business plan: Twin Development and the Federal Way City Council each dropped a bombshell. The developer announced it could not meet its Sept. 30 deadline to purchase the former AMC Theatres property from the city. The council voted 4 to 3 to extend the closing date on the land for the seventh time. The extension is the latest in a series of controversial decisions regarding the 4.1-acre property the council hopes will be the key to spurring economic development downtown. The extension comes just three months after the council sternly told Twin Development it would walk away from the deal if the developer did not find the money to purchase the property by September’s end. The extension was granted at the city council meeting after a nearly 90-minute discussion marked by tension, opposing viewpoints and Twin Development’s refusal to provide a business plan or marketing plan to the council.

• Drinking water: Federal Way residents will eventually see cleaner water flowing from their faucets. In March, the Tacoma Public Utilities Board voted to build a filtration station on the Green River. The first phase of construction will start in spring 2012, with completion slated for mid-2014. Lakehaven Utility District, which serves the Federal Way area, has taken on 11 percent ownership of the project.

• Chili Cook-off: Organizers of the Federal Way Farmers Market’s annual Chili Cook-off passed out checks of $1,505 each to Special Olympics and the South King Firefighters Foundation. Proceeds were raised at this year’s cook-off, held Sept. 25. Federal Way police won first, second and third place as well as the People’s Choice Award against South King Fire and Rescue.

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October 2010

• Salary bump: After four months on the job, Federal Way School District Superintendent Robert Neu was given a $6,000 pay bump to cover expenses related to the job. The bump brought his base salary up to $195,000.

• Methadone death: 12-year-old Lakota Middle School student Jessica Griffith died of a methadone overdose at her aunt’s home in Northeast Tacoma. Her mother, Jane Griffith, is later charged in the death, accused of feeding her daughter the methadone.

• Baby’s death: Federal Way police investigated the suspicious death of an infant exposed to a lethal amount of prescription drugs. On Oct. 6, fire, medics and police responded to a call of CPR in progress at 952 SW Campus Drive. A mother had phoned 911 and relayed that her eight-month-old female infant was not breathing and was cold to the touch. Medics were unable to revive the infant. Information pertaining to the case called for further investigation, police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said. The child was allegedly admitted and released from Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital that morning.

• No police layoffs: City manager Brian Wilson has asked the Federal Way City Council to use one-time funding to pay police salaries and avoid law enforcement layoffs in the next two years. In October, Wilson presented his latest budget proposal, which differed from that made public in August. That proposal aimed to close the city’s $9 million 2011-2012 budget gap and set up a structure to ensure a healthy long-term (six-year) budget. It was based on the council’s desire to adopt a budget model that avoided relying on funds provided on a one-time basis — for example, funds left over when a capital project is bid lower than expected — to pay for long-term ongoing costs such as reoccurring programs or staff positions. The recent budget proposal presented a balanced biennial budget that took into consideration council and public feedback.

• Poisoning trial: A 12-person jury was split 9 to 3 in its decision to convict Joseph Naimo, 63, in the first-degree murder of his wife. A mistrial was declared. The jury began deliberating Oct. 12. It was unable to unanimously decide whether it had been proven without a doubt that Naimo, of Federal Way, had poisoned his wife. Ann Marie Naimo, 53, died from ingesting strychnine, a substance used to kill pests, on Nov. 28, 2008. Joseph Naimo, a pest control manager with decades of experience in the field, was the only person with Ann when she passed. Toxicology tests revealed Ann, an alcoholic, also had alcohol and prescription medications in her system when she died. Joseph Naimo’s trial lasted nearly two months. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office later announced Naimo would face a retrial.

• Boost for human services: The Multi-Service Center officially opened its Program Services Building on Oct. 5. The 8,100-square-foot three-story facility houses classrooms for tutoring and employment skills training. Classrooms cater to students seeking their GED or learning English as a second language. The Federal Way charity assists thousands of low-income residents with clothing, food, housing and education. The center helps residents rebuild their lives and become more self-sufficient.

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November 2010

• Election results: State Rep. Skip Priest becomes Federal Way’s first elected mayor, topping Federal Way City Councilman Jim Ferrell at the polls. Republican Katrina Asay was elected to Priest’s District 30 seat in the state House of Representatives after edging Democrat Carol Gregory. Democrat Mark Miloscia retained his House seat against Republican challenger Shawn Sullivan. Democrat Tracey Eide kept her State Senate seat with a slim win over Republican Tony Moore. Congressman Adam Smith (D-9th District) was re-elected in a victory over Republican Dick Muri, a Pierce County Council member. The 2010 election featured a record number of state initiatives. Voters defeated two liquor privatization proposals, a state income tax initiative on the wealthy and a King County sales tax increase. Voters repealed the state tax on candy and bottled water.

• In the line of duty: Deceased South King Fire and Rescue firefighter Doug Waller’s 2006 death from complications related to HIV is recognized as having occurred in the line of duty. Waller is believed to have contracted the HIV at the beginning of the decade. A medical investigation had to prove that Waller got HIV while at work, which is why the recognition took so long. The recognition allowed his name to be engraved on a fallen fire fighters’ memorial in Colorado, and eventually on state memorials.

• Bomb threat: A bomb threat shut down Kilo Middle School early Nov. 4. It was a hoax, but one of six such threats sent to various Federal Way schools since the beginning of the 2010 school year.

• November snow: On Nov. 24, the Puget Sound region was hit by a rare snow storm. The storm dropped between 2 and 3 inches of snow in the region, causing power outages, school cancellations and hellish traffic jams.

• Lovell Sykes: Fifteen-year-old Todd Beamer High School student Lovell Sykes died Nov. 15 from a blood clot related to a sprained ankle. The Beamer community rallied to help Sykes’ family.

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December 2010

• Road map: The Community Center for Education Results group launched its “Road Map for Eduction Results” plan for a swath of King County between Seattle and Federal Way. The goal is to close the achievement gap and better prepare students for post-secondary achievement. Leaders of the group plan to gather and publish data from the target areas and support projects that further the road map’s goals.

• School board leader: Tony Moore was re-elected Federal Way School Board president, though he received a challenge, as Amye Bronson-Doherty was nominated for the post by board member Suzanne Smith.

• Federal Way faces legal tango in property deal: The former downtown Toys “R” Us property will become a performing arts, conference and cultural center. The decision came in a series of four split Federal Way City Council votes. The city will purchase the 3.95-acre parcel at 31510 20th Ave. S. for $5.375 million, plus closing costs, from Pal-Do World Inc. A state grant will cover the majority of the acquisition costs. Street frontage and infrastructure improvements near the property will be added before the city takes on the full capital project sometime in the future. At the seller’s request, the city will issue a letter threatening to condemn the acreage and acquire it for a public use. This permits Pal-Do World to skirt federal taxes on the land’s sale for two years.

• Sand sculpting competition will return to Federal Way in 2011: Despite an outstanding debt of nearly $50,000 from this year’s event, the World Championship of Sand Sculpting will return to Federal Way in 2011. The 2010 World Championship of Sand Sculpting brought professional sand sculptors to Federal Way between Sept. 8 and Oct. 10. The event cost $312,703 to host. Revenues amounted to $264,299. The Federal Way Community Council (FWCC), the non-profit event coordinator, was left with a debt of $48,474. The FWCC owes money to several vendors. The non-profit has found a way to pay its debt and is moving ahead with plans for 2011’s championship. The announcement came as a shock to the council, which was prepared to vote on whether to issue the FWCC $50,000 to cover its debt.

• Videotaping: South King Fire and Rescue’s board of commissioners made a policy revision that will ensure any member of the public can videotape meetings. The policy changes came after an incident where a citizen was asked to shut off his camera.

• Police negligence: A jury found the Federal Way Police Department negligent in enforcing a 2008 anti-harassment protection order issued to Chan Ok Kim, who murdered his live-in girlfriend, Baerbel Roznowski, hours after police served the order. The jury ruled unanimously Dec. 22 that the department was negligent in enforcing the order. It ruled 10-2 that the negligence caused the May 3, 2008, death of Roznowski. The civil suit was brought by Roznowski’s daughters, Carola Washburn and Janet Loh, both of California, in May 2009. The jury awarded Roznowski’s estate $1.1 million.

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