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The Year in Review. Federal Way's top 10 stories
"Bullets fly near Federal Way highA shooting near Federal Way High School shook residents and students in the afternoon hours of Sept. 25.Police said the shooting arose from an ongoing conflict between two groups after the driver of a white Ford Mustang deliberately rear-ended a Cadillac El Dorado. A 16-year-old Thomas Jefferson High School student was treated for a compound fracture to his ankle.Thirty to 50 youth converged on the scene of the shooting - many of them Federal Way and Jefferson students - and were fighting before enough police officers arrived to break up the scuffle. According to student and witness accounts, trouble had been brewing for about three weeks among a group of students after a previous weekend dispute.District officials suspended or expelled six students from Federal Way High School and four students from Jefferson. Both schools were closed the day after the shooting.Reacting to the incident, the school district called a community-wide forum that drew parents, pupils and residents to learn details of the shooting and talk about it.UPDATE:Police are still searching for the suspect in the shooting. They believe it is a school-age person, but not a student in the Federal Way school district. They are asking the community for help in finding the white Mustang involved in the shooting.Teacher's aide fired for sexual misconductWord of Nancy Alexander-Anderson, a 49-year-old teacher's aide, who had sex with a 15-year-old student, sent news media - and Federal Way Public Schools - into a frenzy. Alexander-Anderson, an employee of Sacajawea Junior High School, was charged with raping a student she worked closely with for five months. The Mirror did not name the boy because he is a minor.During the course of their relationship, Alexander-Anderson took the boy skiing at Crystal Mountain and to five motels, where they engaged in sexual intercourse, according to prosecutors.On March 10, Alexander-Anderson was ordered to transfer to Federal Way High School on suspicion that she was negatively influencing the boy. According to the school district, officials had no indication that there was a sexual relationship.UPDATE:Alexander-Anderson had been employed by the district since 1998 before she was placed on administrative leave May 12. She was sentenced last month to 14 months in prison for one count of third-degree child rape.City of Federal Way prosecutors charged Sacajawea Principal Fannie Kelley for failing to report child abuse. According to court records, she told police there were no complaints about Alexander-Anderson, though evidence proves otherwise.City prosecutor Gurjit Pandher said Kelley may have committed a crime if he can prove Kelley had reason to believe the boy was abused and didn't act on it.She had a legal obligation to report it and that goes for any school personnel, Pandher said. If guilty Kelley could face up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Police chief quits, city hires new oneCity Manager David Moseley named Anne Kirkpatrick as the new police chief on Dec. 13. Kirkpatrick, 41, is the chief of the Ellensburg Police Department, a position Moseley hired her into in 1996 when he was city manager there. She begins her new position Jan. 29.Kirkpatrick replaces Ron Wood, who was the first Federal Way Department of Public Safety employee to be hired. Wood resigned from his position as director in July. He declined to comment on his specific reasons for resigning but said he fulfilled the goals he set for himself in the job.The resignation came after Wood did not notify City Hall before acquiring a Zodiac boat and authorizing its use by Federal Way officers on Lake Union on the Fourth of July. Moseley was also looking into an ambulance the department might have gained without authorization.Seventy-two people applied for the position. Moseley interviewed four finalists - Bainbridge Island Police Chief Bob Cooper, Kirkpatrick, Santa Maria, Calif., Cmdr. David Stern and Federal Way Deputy Public Safety Director Brian Wilson. City appoints milestone mayor, and turns 10 In January, the Federal Way City Council unanimously picked Michael Park, who had served as deputy mayor under Mayor Ron Gintz, as the first Korean-American mayor in the state and reportedly only the second in the nation.Park, who owns a Des Moines dry cleaners, attracted widespread media attention. In September, a film crew from the Korea Broadcasting System filmed him for an hour-long documentary that aired in October. Being a first-generation Korean makes Park's story like American dream (come) true, said Frank Yi, a friend of Park. The city achieved another milestone in February when it celebrated its 10th birthday. After three unsuccessful incorporation efforts, voters approved the fourth try. Federal Way officially became a city on Feb. 28, 1990. City employees, citizens and past and present council members crowded into Council Chambers of City Hall in February for a celebration. Diving trials are economic boon to cityThe six-day long U.S. Olympic diving trials made a big splash in the Federal Way economy in late June.Local merchants and businesses smiled at the revenue generated with 52 divers, their coaches, families, the media and press crews that converged on the city. The Red Robin Restaurant near SeaTac Mall saw its business swell with a throng of hungry divers and media almost each night after the competitions. Assistant general manager Thad Richardson said sales jumped by $7,623 over projection.Westfair Floral and Gifts also experienced its share of the diving revenue pie. Owner Stacy Keen said several customers came in who said they were in town for the diving meet. Business at SeaTac Mall, however, didn't experience a boost in sales, according to mall marketing director Kelley Gast.Gast says the nice weather during the diving trials may have lured people away from the indoor mall.The newly built Holiday Inn, however, fared much better by hosting all the divers and most of the media crews. Holiday Inn Director of Sales Christine Cochran said the diving trials brought more than $150,000 in hotel revenue.Then-president of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce Alison Corrigan estimated the economic benefits were in the area of $2 million.Six Flags buys Wild WavesSix Flags Inc., the world's largest amusement theme park, bought popular local amusement park Wild Waves and Enchanted Village this month.The deal was worth $19.3 million.Six Flags bought the 70-acre Enchanted Parks complex because it felt the Seattle-Tacoma market was a good place to expand, said Debbie Nauser, a Six Flags spokeswoman. Seattle is the 14th largest city in the nation in terms of population, and people have money to spend, she said.Park officials are evaluating enterance prices, but declined to say whether admission costs might go up or down next year. One thing they are counting on, however, is expansion of the two parks.The amusement park features about 24 rides, a playground, miniature golf course and a video arcade. In the past five years, the park has drawn about 500,000 visitors a year. Enchanted Parks employs about 1,000 people on a seasonal basis.This is Six Flags' first park in the Northwest and the 29th in the United States.Controversial sign code takes effectFeb. 28 marked the deadline for compliance with the city's revised sign code, which requires that the vast majority of businesses in Federal Way remove pole signs and replace them with lower monument or pedestal signs. Schools, churches and government agencies also had to abide by the stricter sign guidelines.Pole signs are allowed only for downtown developments that cover at least 15 acres. Even those must have more than one pole for support.The idea behind the revamped sign code, which was approved in 1995, was to create a less cluttered, more attractive skyline, according to officials. The city began a $200,000 sign incentive program to offer business owners a portion of the cost of replacing their signs. Some business owners have said changing their signs is too much of a financial burden and will make their signs harder to spot. In fact, strip mall owner David Rhodes, who owns three signs, and Horan Real Estate owner Harry Horan, who owns one, filed a lawsuit in October in King County Superior Court. They contend they shouldn't have to remove their signs until the city pays for them. That court decision likely won't come until spring.Minicasinos flourish in Federal WayThe city began the year with just one minicasino - stalwart PJ Pockets, which opened in June 1998 in Ross Plaza - but ended it with four - PJ Pockets, Players Casino, New Sonny's Casino and Café Arizona.The New Sonny's Casino opened Jan. 20. Players Casino opened in April, 1999, closed four months later and re-opened under new ownership in June of this year. Former owner Jim Routos attributed the closure to the City Council's decision to increase the social card room tax from 11 percent to 20 percent.Café Arizona, which previously operated as a dance club, got its gambling license from the Washington State Gambling Commission on Oct. 12 and began operating as a minicasino a few hours later.It has since been a contentious relationship between Cafe Arizona and the city of Federal Way. The Liquor Control Board voted to not renew the club's liquor license after the city said the dance club required more police time than other clubs in town. The club appealed the decision to an administrative law judge, who ruled in November that the club should be granted the renewal. The Liquor Control Board will release its decision next year, though either side could appeal it to Superior Court. updateXXXXXXXXXXXXXXWeyerhaeuser turns 100The world's largest producer of softwood lumber and market pulp celebrated its 100th birthday on Jan. 18 this year.Headquartered in Federal Way, Weyerhaeuser Company established itself as a wood products giant this century and has positioned itself to dominate the industry in the coming millennium.Employees for the company celebrated worldwide in North America, Europe and Asia.We're as strong as ever, said company spokesman Frank Mendizabal. Weyerhaeuser announced on Jan. 6 that it had acquired a controlling interest in TJ International, for $270 million making Weyerhauser the world's largest producer of engineered wood products .Weyerhaeuser owns or manages 5.3 acres of timberland throughout the United States - 1.5 million acres in Washington - and possess timber licenses on 27 million acres in Canada. In 1999, the company showed profits of $13.3 billion.Municipal Court hears first casesThe Federal Way Municipal Court opened Jan. 4 with Judge David Tracy presiding. The council appointed Tracy to the position for an abbreviated four-year term that will expire Dec. 31, 2001. When the court opened, Court Administrator Sandra Warter had been busy since July, determining the court's layout, hiring other staff, ordering paperwork and visiting other municipal courts to see how they operate.The Federal Way City Council voted in March, 1999, to form a municipal court after contracting with King County District Court for the last 10 years. District Court handled about 13,500 cases a year for the city. City officials believed forming a municipal court would give the city more control over costs and quality of service, better coordination with the Federal Way police department (Including overtime for police officers who must testify in court) and flexibility in setting the number of judges and court staff.The city is leasing space in a building at 34004 Ninth Ave. S. near the police department. But the city ultimately wants to move the Municipal Court, police department and City Hall into one building downtown.UpdateThe Municipal Court has been hopping since opening earlier this year. From January through November, the court held 10,428 hearings, including 5,886 criminal filings and 3,785 parking tickets and other infractions. The court will open a third window to assist visitors by mid-January. The line's out to the front door, said Court Administrator Sandra Warter. "