2017 had its share of scary times and good times in south Pierce County.
From a shooting involving high school students that left two teenagers wounded, to countless examples of individuals and communities at their best, it was a year of pain and pride. Here, based on headlines in The Dispatch, is how it went from start to finish.
First child among the latest flu fatalities:
The fatal flu epidemic in Pierce County claimed its first child – 10 years old – in a death toll that rose to 17 in mid-month. Of the other flu-related deaths, 14 people were older than 60, and two were in their 40s.
Police shooting of man with chainsaw “lawfull”
Pierce County Sheriff Department deputies acted lawfully when they fatally shot a man nearly 30 times after he threatened them with a chainsaw at his parents' home in Graham. That was the conclusion of the county's prosecuting attorney after a review of the shooting that occurred the previous August when a man at a Graham home advanced on deputies with a running chainsaw.
Making others feel better goes a long way for students:
Eatonville Elementary School was an especially nice place for five days in January. Students went out of their way to say hello and help each other during the week-long Graet Kindness Challenge.
Townsfolk respond to local outlet for concealed handgun licenses:
Eatonville residents who want to carry handguns are taking advantage of a close-to-home method of getting permission. The town's Police Department recorded 162 license transactions involving concealed handguns in the first 24 months it handled pistol permits.
Living proof that CPR saves lives:
Dan Haupt is alive because Jeremy Osborn wanted to know CPR. When Haupt went into cardiac arrest while working at a Seattle construction site in January, Osborn, an Eatonville resident who was working nearby, came to Haupt’s aid with the CPR skills he learned “because you never know when you might need them.” The two men met for the first time two days before the incident, never suspecting that one would save the other’s life.
Eatonville School District is Nisqually Land Trust's newest Partner of the Year:
When it comes to partners in conservation, Nisqually Land Trust believes there are none better than the Eatonville School District. The Land Trust's annual Conservation Dinner and Auction next month included the presentation of its Partner of the Year Award to the school district in recognition of school officials' work on preserving the former Burwash Farm property and converting it to educational purposes.
Hearing brings out opponents of Rim Rock:
Too much traffic, too much noise and too much risky business was the message at a public hearing from opponents of a proposed gravel quarry near Eatonville. A Pierce County hearing examiner, who will decide whether Randles Sand and Gravel can open and remove 250,000 tons a year of rock and other material from the 762-acre site, listened to about two hours of testimony from citizens on why the project isn't wanted. No one spoke in its favor.
The dams are all right, but safety officials keeping an eye on them:
After the Oroville Dam crisis in California forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate their California homes, Washingtonians may wonder if the dams that surround them are in danger of failing. The good news is that dams such as Alder Dam and La Grande Dam in south Pierce County are structurally sound. The bad news is that a major earthquake could change that.
Seroshek wins state equestrian barrel race title:
During the state WAHSET (Washington High School Equestrian Teams) state meet May 13-14 at the Grant County Fairgrounds, Kennedy Seroshek of Eatonville High won the barrel race title. She came within .010 of a second of breaking the state record.
'Today is our day to say thank you'
As usual, the audience had to be at the Eatonville High School gym early to get a seat in the bleachers or the chairs on one end of the basketball court for Community Day 2017. That’s normal for the annual celebration of everything that's good among the area's schools and residents. For the 103rd time, Community Day was a must-see event, much like it’s been since the first one in 1913. “This community celebrates children by wanting the best for them. Today is our day to say thank you," said school district superintendent Krestin Bahr.
County puts its foot down on trashy property:
Pierce County is tightening the screws on trash-laden or blighted homes and other properties that spoil surrounding communities. The County Council, addressing the issue of public nuisances, approved funding for more personnel to enforce regulations. The council also added money for cleanups of problem sites and directed the Planning and Public Works Department to create an online feature for the public to track progress against public nuisance sites.
Another high-altitude skier perishes on Mount Rainier:
A skier from Seattle died July 16 when he fell more than 100 feet into a crevasse high on the slopes of Mount Rainier. Michael Soloman Naiman, 42, was the second person this month to either die or disappear while skiing down the mountain.
Hospitalized kids benefit from two days of biking:
People spent two days riding bicycles in and around Eatonville one weekend in support of seriously ill children and their families. The Mary Bridge Children's Courage bike ride, an annual two-dday fund-raiser for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, featured the pedal power of 350 participants. All proceeds supported the hospital’s young patients, helping ensure they get the medical attention they need regardless of their families’ ability to pay.
200-plus “amazing' volunteers give their community some love:”
It’s been said that Eatonville is the small town with a big heart, and no truer words could be used to describe the town on the morning of Sept. 9. it showed what having a big heart really means at the annual 9-11 Day of Service and Remembrance. Before they headed out on community-service projects, over 200 volunteers of all ages crowded around the Eatonville High School flagpole as Boy Scout Troop 599 raised a flag bearing the names of all who lost their lives on that terrifying day 16 years ago.
Schools of Distinction:
“A commitment to change for all kids,” as Eatonville School District officials called it, earned a 2017 School of Distinction award for Eatonville Elementary School. The award goes to schools statewide whose students have made the most improvement in reading, English and mathematics. Eatonville is one of two schools in south Pierce County that made the grade. Thompson Elementary School in the Bethel School District was the other.
Fire levies pass in Graham, fail in South Pierce:
Voter support of local fire protection and emergency medical services districts wasn't what one fire district hoped for in the general election. Graham Fire and Rescue’s levy was approved in voting that ended Nov. 7, but two levies in the South Pierce Fire and Rescue district went down to defeat. South Pierce plans to try again in 2018.
Mount Rainier park entrance might cost $70:
By the middle of 2018, summertime visitors could be paying $70 a carload – nearly three times what it costs now -- to drive into Mount Rainier National Park. That’s one of the increased entrance fees being proposed by the National Park Service for a handful of its most heavily used parks around the U.S. The plan is to generate money to pay for upgrades of roads, campgrounds and other park amenities.
The higher fees, which would take effect June 1 at Mount Rainier, would be charged during what park officials define as the peak visitor season. For Mount Rainier, that’s basically the summer months, when the bulk of the approximately 1 million-plus visits occur.
Off-campus incident started as a fight, ended in gunfire:
Two students had a serious brush with death and two other teenagers were facing possible criminal charges after a shooting near Graham-Kapowsin High School last week. Authorities arrested and took into custody three teenage males in connection with the incident, which started with a dispute at the school and led to the shooting Dec. 5 off school grounds. Shots that were fired from an automobile leaving the scene of a reported fight struck two Graham-Kapowsin students, who were rushed to hospitals for medical treatment. A 16-year-old who later surrendered will be tried as an adult on charges that he was the shooter.
Look at all the holiday cheer:
There was plenty to see and do for getting into the holiday spirit last Saturday in Eatonville, as the town turned out for the annual Christmas Parade and accompanying festivities, including visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a tree-lighting ceremony.
Town Council turns down pot business regulations:
For now, the Town of Eatonville will go without land-use regulations that anybody wanting to get into the legalized marijuana industry would have to abide by. The Town Council decided not to put such rules into place. Council members also started down a path toward a possible advisory vote for Eatonville residents on whether marijuana businesses should be allowed in their town at all.