City honors couple committed to community service

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    Ken Courtmanch, Virginia Olson, Kristin Piepho and city councilmembers say goodbye to Jim Ito (center left) and Melanie Granfors (center right).

    The City of Mountlake Terrace is about to say goodbye to two people who have spent years working on local community projects. Before they leave the Pacific Northwest for sunny San Diego, the City Council honored Jim Ito and Melanie Granfors with a plaque and reminiscing during its meeting on Monday night.

    Ito and Granfors were leaders in the creation of the Mountlake Terrace Dog Off-leash Group, or MLT D.O.G., which allowed the city to create an off-leash dog park in 2009 without exasperating city resources.

    “They have helped us keep it (the park) up since it opened in spring 2009,” Mountlake Terrace Parks Manager Ken Courtmanch said.

    The couple also helped begin the “Reading with Rover” program at the Mountlake Terrace library, which pairs kids learning to read with therapy dogs they can read to.

    “Dogs don’t judge the kids or correct them on their pronunciation,” Library Manager Kristin Piepho said. “We appreciate everything you have done to support literacy in our community.”

    City Spokeswoman Virginia Olson presented a plaque thanking Ito and Granfors for their years of community service and for establishing the off-leash dog park. The photo on top of the plaque shows the day the dog park opened. The city didn’t cut a ribbon that day — instead they unhooked two dog leashes latched together for the celebration.

    “We are all going to miss you tremendously,” Olson said.

    Granfors and Ito expressed their gratitude to the city.

    “All I can say is we love this community, we’re just making some changes,” Granfors said. “We will never forget you guys. We will be on Facebook posting away.”

    Granfors said they plan to continue doing the kind of community service work they did in Mountlake Terrace in their new city. Ito said it was their pleasure.

    “We enjoyed making this place better, and now we are off to bigger and sunnier,” Ito said.

    –Story and photo by Natalie Covate

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