David and Peggy Beamer visited Todd Beamer High School, named after their son Todd Beamer, on Sept. 10. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

David and Peggy Beamer visited Todd Beamer High School, named after their son Todd Beamer, on Sept. 10. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

Year in review: Top Federal Way stories from 2021

A look back at newsworthy events of 2021.

As another year slides into the past, let’s take a look at some of the newsworthy Federal Way events of 2021.

January

• The Federal Way Macy’s department store announced it would close by the end of March. The Macy’s store in Federal Way was an anchor of The Commons mall, serving the community for 43 years.

• Some members of South King Fire and Rescue and the Federal Way Police Department received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccinations. Later in the year, the South King Fire Board of Commissioners would mandate all firefighters to be fully vaccinated in order to care for patients, resulting in a backlash from union members and four firefighters leaving the department.

• Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell and the Federal Way City Council made a proclamation on Jan. 18 titled “Black Lives Matter — A Call to Action,” which denounced racist acts of oppression, and pledged to develop equitable policies and practices to dismantle systemic racism and prejudices in the City of Federal Way, among other commitments.

• Federal Way Public Schools opened the district’s first School Based Health Center at TAF@Saghalie. This facility provides health care to students who do not have access to services. In-person and telehealth services include primary care, vaccinations, mental health counseling, sports physicals and more.

February

• On Feb. 5, Federal Way native Kelyn Rowe was signed to the Seattle Sounders.

• After a nearly yearlong hiatus from high school sports, the Federal Way Public Schools district resumed conditioning practices to prepare for a condensed season fitting most sports into just three months of competition.

• Laird Thornton, beloved music educator at Thomas Jefferson High School and Federal Way Chorale director, died Feb. 15 at age 66 at his home in Renton. Thornton spent 30 years at TJHS, retiring in 2019. In addition, he dedicated 28 years at Grace Lutheran Church as the director of choral music, and nearly 15 years with the Federal Way Chorale as the artistic director.

March

• On March 2, Federal Way’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100 people. As of Dec. 29, the death toll has reached 146 people.

• Students returned to Federal Way classrooms on March 15, almost exactly one year to the day since Gov. Jay Inslee ordered schools to close for what was supposed to be a two-week break in spring 2020.

• Local residents took to the streets to support Federal Way’s Asian American community. The Stop Asian Hate rally was attended by about 70 people and followed a statement from the Federal Way City Council condemning racism against Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals.

April

• Keys to the city were presented to all healthcare workers, Federal Way Police Department officers and personnel, South King Fire and Rescue firefighters, and grocery workers in Federal Way by the mayor on April 6.

• On April 20, former Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell announced her resignation from the district. Campbell served as superintendent since 2015. Dr. Dani Pfeiffer was appointed as the new school district superintendent.

May

• Federal Way High School graduate London Houston made the USA Nationals junior and U23 women’s freestyle wrestling teams. Houston is a two-time wrestling state champion and won a gold medal at the Junior Pan American Championships in June.

• The South King Tool Library was awarded a Green Globe award from King County for its efforts in waste reduction.

June

• Federal Way leaders raised the Pride flag and Juneteenth flag outside City Hall.

• Poverty Bay Cafe reopened under the leadership of Federal Way nonprofit FUSION. Due to COVID-19 and staffing reworks, the cafe closed a few months later with plans to reopen in 2022.

• Dr. Tammy Campbell was presented with the first-ever Dream Maker Award by the Federal Way Public Schools Board of Directors.

• FWPS seniors participated in outdoor graduation ceremonies at Federal Way Memorial Field.

• The Federal Way City Council approved body worn cameras for the Federal Way Police Department. About 25 officers are already donning the body cameras and the goal is to have the entire department trained and wearing body cameras by Jan. 31, 2022.

July

• King County announced the purchase of a Federal Way hotel as part of the county’s Health Through Housing initiative to provide shelter and health services to unhoused people.

August

• A Federal Way girl, Mireille Ignacio, was selected as an honorary team captain by the Seattle Seahawks. A Federal Way boy, Kingston Edwards, was selected for the Seattle Mariners Hometown Nine class.

• On Aug. 28, local leaders broke ground on the first traditional Korean garden, located near 550 SW Campus Drive between the Panther Lake Trail and the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

September

• Decatur High School graduate Janson Junk made his debut as pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 5.

• David and Peggy Beamer spoke at a memorial event at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way in honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the heroism of their son Todd Beamer, who was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93.

• King County announced a new mandate requiring people to provide vaccination proof or a negative COVID test for restaurants, bars, events and other venues.

October

• Two Federal Way officers received Washington Medal of Honor awards from Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Both officers were injured in a fatal officer-involved shooting on Dec. 31, 2019.

• A Federal Way girl was presented with 2021 Whitney Bellinghausen Community Service Award by South King Fire and Rescue. Arianna Graham and her mother, Andrea, work to promote Down syndrome acceptance throughout Federal Way and communities beyond.

November

• Red Robin Gourmet Burgers reopened in Federal Way at a new location, 31920 Gateway Center Blvd. S.

• Lakehaven Water and Sewer District broke ground on a new headquarters facility. The $53 million project includes a headquarters facility housing four departments, vehicle storage and more.

• A Federal Way business owner was responsible for leading a QAnon gathering in Dallas to see return of JFK Jr., but JFK Jr. did not attend the event.

December

• A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mobile COVID-19 vaccination center opened in Federal Way, the first location in the state. The vaccination center moves to Auburn after Jan. 3.

• A healing ceremony was held for a Federal Way school that received a new name and mascot in accordance to House Bill 1356. Evergreen Middle School, located at 26630 40th Ave. South in Kent and previously named “Totem,” is now the home of the Grizzlies.

• The Sound Transit Board of Directors approved the Federal Way South 336th Street site to house the new light rail maintenance facility. A final decision will be made in late 2022.


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A kindergarten student at Panther Lake Elementary raises her hand during attendance on the first day of in-person learning on March 15. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

A kindergarten student at Panther Lake Elementary raises her hand during attendance on the first day of in-person learning on March 15. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Decatur graduates move their tassels from right to left on June 12. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Decatur graduates move their tassels from right to left on June 12. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

People at the event participated in a round dance while listening to a drum circle led by Federal Way resident Raymond Kingfisher. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

People at the event participated in a round dance while listening to a drum circle led by Federal Way resident Raymond Kingfisher. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

Lakehaven Water & Sewer District commissioners break ground on the new headquarters building with Lakehaven General Manager John Bowman (far right). Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Lakehaven Water & Sewer District commissioners break ground on the new headquarters building with Lakehaven General Manager John Bowman (far right). Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

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