St. Francis Hospital employees pose for a photo, before laughing about smiling behind their masks. A parade to show support to frontline hospital workers took place in April. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

St. Francis Hospital employees pose for a photo, before laughing about smiling behind their masks. A parade to show support to frontline hospital workers took place in April. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Top Federal Way stories of 2020

I hate the word “unprecedented” just as much as the next overworked journalist in 2020, but this year did enter so many realms of new, unfamiliar, and frankly terrifying, territory.

They say all news is local news. In Federal Way, we experienced the national and global events of this year on a local level with some close ties into the community, too. The impacts felt just as all-consuming and massive in our city of just about 100,000 residents.

Even with the New Year, 2020 and its aftermath won’t be wiped away at the strike of midnight, no matter how much we want to wish or pretend it may.

As we trek forward into the future, I hope you continue to cling to the good in your life for your mental, physical and spiritual health, find hope wherever possible, and keep wearing your masks.

In all the madness of 2020, here are the top stories within your Federal Way community from the last year about politics, art, first-ever milestones, crime, and yes, the COVID-19 pandemic.

January

On Jan. 15, former Federal Way City Councilmember Jesse Johnson was appointed as the 30th District state representative, a seat vacated by Kristine Reeves. Johnson would later be elected to Position 2 in the November General Election, along with Jamila Taylor for Position 1.

The United States’ first case of the novel coronavirus is believed to be found in Snohomish County. The resident, a man in his 30s, had recently traveled overseas and months after his initial diagnosis, King County health officials refute claims that the man is “Patient Zero.”

February

On Feb. 7, El Centro de la Raza — the center for people of all races — opened a new location in Federal Way. The organization provides resources and support for vulnerable, marginalized communities.

On Feb. 25, South King Fire and Rescue Commissioner James Fossos resigns after a lengthy medical absence from the board. Fossos served more than 27 years collectively as a fire commissioner. David Berger is appointed as the newest fire commissioner the following month.

March

On March 7, Greg Baruso was appointed to the Federal Way City Council after a speedy and contentious tiebreaker by Mayor Jim Ferrell.

On March 13, Gov. Jay Inslee announced an emergency six-week closure of King, Pierce and Snohomish county K-12 schools. In the following days, the closure would become statewide. Federal Way Public Schools has yet to resume in-person learning and will remain remote learning through early 2021.

April

By the first week of April, South King Fire and Rescue opened King County’s first COVID-19 decontamination site for law enforcement officers, including sanitization efforts for officers’ uniforms, gear and vehicles.

On April 5, local woman Sheri Bebbington became the first patient enrolled in CHI Franciscan’s clinical drug trial for Remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment.

May

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police on May 25, nationwide protests and movements reached Federal Way as local community members and students took to the streets to support Black Lives Matter.

After a two-month hiatus due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy, the Federal Way Mirror resumes its weekly print edition. The Mirror posted news online only during that hiatus.

June

The City of Federal Way raised its first-ever Pride Flag outside City Hall in honor of Pride month. Just days later, the city also raised its first-ever Juneteenth Flag to acknowledge the freedom of Black Americans and their liberation from slavery.

On June 13, seniors throughout the Federal Way Public Schools district waved a melancholy goodbye to their final year of high school with virtual graduation ceremonies.

July

The Mirror investigated why Federal Way police officers do not wear body cameras or have vehicle dashboard cameras. City officials said the cameras were costly and not a priority. In the recent Legislative session asks, city officials requested $350,000 to fund a police body camera pilot program.

On July 22, Councilmember Mark Koppang resigned from the Federal Way City Council to take a job in California.

A debate ensued on whether to keep or change the name of Thomas Jefferson High School due to Thomas Jefferson’s historical ties to slavery.

August

Construction is underway for the new Sound Transit Federal Way Link Extension project and murals by local artists are being displayed. Mass demolition in downtown Federal Way has drastically changed the cityscape. The new light rail is expected to be finished in 2024.

September

Widespread power outages delay the first day of (remote) school for nearby school districts including Federal Way. Wildfires in the Sumner and Bonney Lake areas also forced some Federal Way educators to evacuate their homes during the first week of school.

October

Local nonprofit FUSION opened Federal Way’s first-ever short-term emergency family shelter on Oct. 8. Named the Pete Andersen FUSION Family Center, the facility received a $1 million donation from Lennar Homes associate Pete Andersen, who was one of the first people in the nation to die from COVID-19.

On Oct. 15, King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Leandra Craft was appointed to the Federal Way City Council after another tiebreaker by Mayor Jim Ferrell.

A massive COVID-19 testing site opens Oct. 13 in Federal Way at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. At the time the site opened, the Federal Way area had King County’s highest number of virus cases, but the least amount of testing.

November

The Federal Way community and elected officials were outraged at the proposed idea of an elephant sculpture at the incoming Federal Way Link Extension station, causing Sound Transit to scrap the idea and sending the artist Donald Lipski back to the drawing board.

On Nov. 6, City officials hosted a dedication ceremony for the Federal Way Time Capsule, which is now buried in Town Square Park until 2050.

The beloved Poverty Bay Cafe was donated by owner Dan Olmstead to FUSION as a job- and life-skill training site for homeless individuals. The cafe hopes to reopen once the governor’s orders are lifted.

December (you are here)

The City of Federal Way decided to return to the public SCORE Jail on a contractual basis for three guaranteed beds, after departing from the jail for cost savings a few months prior.

COVID-19 vaccinations reach employees at CHI Franciscan’s St. Francis Hospital and South King Fire and Rescue. So far, CHI has distributed more than 5,000 vaccines systemwide and 38 SKFR members have received their first vaccination.




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Drone footage shows partial demolition of the Gateway Movies 8 theater along S. 317th Street in Federal Way on Sept. 13. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda

Drone footage shows partial demolition of the Gateway Movies 8 theater along S. 317th Street in Federal Way on Sept. 13. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda

Cars line up to enter the first tent at Federal Way’s testing site on Nov. 18. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Cars line up to enter the first tent at Federal Way’s testing site on Nov. 18. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Vehicles fill the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center parking lot on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Vehicles fill the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center parking lot on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Local artists (pictured left to right) Leann Realiza, Diane Jones Smith and Nici Anderson on June 26 at Wayside United Church of Christ to celebrate the rebuilding of Pride Doors that had been destroyed by vandals the week before. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Local artists (pictured left to right) Leann Realiza, Diane Jones Smith and Nici Anderson on June 26 at Wayside United Church of Christ to celebrate the rebuilding of Pride Doors that had been destroyed by vandals the week before. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

A June 10 protest at Thomas Jefferson High School in response to the death of George Floyd. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

A June 10 protest at Thomas Jefferson High School in response to the death of George Floyd. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Bri Holt and her husband transformed their family’s minivan into a makeshift school bus to start the online learning school year. Photo courtesy of Bri Holt

Bri Holt and her husband transformed their family’s minivan into a makeshift school bus to start the online learning school year. Photo courtesy of Bri Holt

Senior Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20 in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Senior Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20 in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

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