MLTnews 2020 year in review: January-June

As we wrap up what is likely to be a memorable year, MLTnews is looking back on 2020.

Part 1, January-June

January

Newly-elected Councilmember Erin Murray is sworn in for Position 7.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council kicked off 2020 by swearing in four councilmembers during the council’s Jan. 2 work session. The council also voted to re-elect Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto Wright as mayor and Councilmember Doug McCardle as mayor pro tem.

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To accommodate future population growth and rising student enrollment, the Edmonds School District proposed a $600 million construction bond measure to develop a new elementary and middle school, as well as a new building to house Scriber Lake High School. On Jan. 3, Edmonds School District Superintendent Kris McDuffy briefed the Mountlake Terrace City Council on the proposed measure.

According to staff, there are about $1.7 billion worth of needs across the district, which will take many years to address. The $600 million measure was the first of three bond proposals likely to come before voters between through 2032 on a six-year cycle. However, the measure failed in February to get the 60% majority vote needed to pass.

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The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Jan. 21 business meeting was briefed on custodial concerns from city staff and customers as part of an ongoing discussion about the city’s current practice of outsourcing its custodial work. During the discussion, staff proposed the city hire employees to do the job instead.

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Seaun Richards prepares an order at his Red Onion Cafe last year.

After eight years on the Mountlake Terrace City Council, Councilmember Seaun Richards decided he’d had enough of politics and was ready to focus on his business. Known for his Red Onion Burger eatery, Richards branched out into a seafood menu with Red Onion Cafe and Seafood Bar. After the new menu struggled to take off, Richards announced he would be returning to burgers by rebranding his restaurant for a second time to 44th Street Sliders.

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For months, Mountlake Terrace High School students have been waiving signs on 44th Avenue West protesting climate change.

Mountlake Terrace High School students t00k to the streets, waving signs outside of their school to spread awareness about climate change. The demonstrations were part of FridaysForFuture — a global climate strike movement inspired by 15-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

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During the 2019-20 school year, it was reported that the Edmonds School District spent $800,000 in additional pay to teachers teaching in overcrowded classrooms during one semester.

Under the contract between the district and the teachers’ union, when a teacher’s classroom enrollment goes over the allotted ratio, the teacher receives compensation, called trigger pay. In the district, class sizes for kindergarten through third grade are in the mid 20s, while grades 4 through 12 class sizes range from the high 20s to the low 30s.

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After months of discussion, the Edmonds School Board voted to adopt the Units of Study learning reading curriculum for K-6 grade students. The curriculum teaches students to read through classroom workshops and is part of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project co-founded in 1981 by educator Lucy Calkins.

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Striking health care workers on the picket line in front of Swedish/Edmonds during the three-day walkout. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

Roughly 300 health care workers rallied at the Swedish Edmonds hospital campus following a three-day strike protesting “unsafe, unfair and unacceptable working conditions,” according to their union SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.

The strike came after 7,800 hospital employees walked off the job protesting the allegedly unsuitable working conditions.

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City of Mountlake Terrace staff hosted a Jan. 22 public meeting to review and gather input on waterfront elements of its planned park improvements project. The discussion included information about the city’s plans to include a new fishing pier, boat launch, boat dock and beach improvements along the waterfront.

The changes are part of the city’s 2015 Ballinger Park Master Plan.

February

In honor of Black History Month, the Edmonds School Board unanimously endorsed the Black Lives Matter at School month of action. At its Jan. 28 business meeting, the board encouraged teachers, staff and students to participate in activities and discussions throughout the month that are inclusive and enrich classroom instruction throughout the school year.

On Feb. 7, district parents, students and staff held a community discussion on ways to address race in the classroom.

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Nagendiram Kandasamy

Community members gathered in honor of Nagendiram Kandasamy, a 7-11 clerk in Edmonds who was shot and killed on Feb. 21 while he was working. Kandasamy was remembered for his hard work ethic and friendly attitude. 

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At Celebrating Black Storytellers, Inventors and Leaders, books featuring black characters and books written by Black authors were on display for kids to read.

In honor of Black History Month, the Edmonds School District on Fev. 2 celebrated Black authors, inventors and leaders with a storytime event at the Edmonds Library. Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Steve Woodard attended the event as one of the guest readers.

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The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its Feb. 18 work session approved a $1.4 million contract to install FieldTurf and new lighting at Evergreen Playfield, which is currently a dirt field and underutilized. The project will also include grading of the current dirt field, demolition and removal of the two diamond backstops and playfield fencing. The project will also involve removing up to 10 trees, construction of new light standards, installation of new lights, construction of new ADA sidewalks and installation of new backstops and dugout concrete slabs, fencing and synthetic turf.

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The Snohomish County Housing Affordability Regional Taskforce released its final HART report, which helps establish a five-year action plan that identifies priorities for local governments to meet the affordable housing needs of all Snohomish County residents.

The task force included local elected officials, community members and experts who drafted a report that establishes a five-year action plan that identifies priorities for county and city governments to meet the affordable housing needs of all Snohomish County residents.

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At its Feb. 13 work session, the Mountlake Terrace City Council was briefed by city staff on the city’s six-year financial forecast and ways construction of the future Sound Transit light rail station contributed to the city’s funds.

March

Dr. Gustavo Balderas

The Edmonds School Board voted to hire Dr. Gustavo Balderas as the Edmonds School District’s new superintendent. Balderas was previously the superintendent of the Eugene School District in Eugene, Oregon. 

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With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Edmonds School District suspended athletics and other extracurricular events. Across the district, hundreds of student athletes were unable to finish out their season. Impacted sports included baseball, softball, boys soccer, girls tennis, golf and track.

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The Edmonds School Board met remotely for its March 24 business meeting to discuss remote learning options after it was decided to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to COVID-19. The board also committed to ensuring every student in the district had access to a district-issued Chromebook.

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After months of negotiations, demonstrations and a three-day strike, Swedish Hospital reached a contract agreement with its more than 7,700 represented health care workers.

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At its March 7 council retreat, the Mountlake Terrace City Council prioritized its well-maintained city parks and open spaces, fully-funding city services and infrastructure and creating a vibrant Town Center when discussing the city’s plans for the next 30 to 50 years.

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During the state-mandated closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion staff and maintenance personnel took advantage of the facility’s closure to perform some upkeep to the sauna, pool, locker rooms and public spaces. With no public swims scheduled, the sauna and portions of the pool were drained and are got some needed maintenance; a new floor is being installed in the sauna and the lazy river is getting its liner patched.

April

After months of negotiations, demonstrations and a three-day strike, Swedish Hospital reached a contract agreement with its more than 7,700 represented health care workers.

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The former Lynnwood Applus auto emission test station has opened its restroom facilities to provide showers to the homeless community.

The former Lynnwood emissions test station was repurposed to provide showers and bathroom facilities for those who are homeless. In addition to showers, people are able to grab food, toiletries and other necessary items at the site.

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Among those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, senior citizens ranked near the top of the list. After being encouraged by public health officials to remain home to mitigate chances of catching the virus, many seniors were forced to find ways to remain positive during isolation.

May

The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its May 4 business meeting authorized an additional $310,000 in contingency funds to pay for city-approved change orders and other expenditures related to construction of the Mountlake Terrace Civic Campus project.

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As school buildings across the Edmonds School District closed, graduating seniors lamented about ways the pandemic affected their last year of high school. From canceled prom plans to disappointment about not being able to walk at graduation, students expressed regrets about what the pandemic took from them.

June

After several contentious community-led discussions, the Edmonds School Board voted to remove school resource officers (SROs) from three of the district’s campuses. The board voted at its June 23 business meeting to cancel contracts with the Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace police departments. A decision to remove the Lynnwood High School SRO provided by Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office was delayed pending further discussion.

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Black Edmonds School District students were recognized at the Juneteenth event on June 17.

In honor of Juneteenth, Edmonds School District students spent the day marching, supporting Black businesses and celebrating Black artists and authors. Later, roughly 100 students, parents and community members gathered at Meadowdale High School for a candlelit vigil.

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The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its June 1 business meeting discussed ways to spend the $647,000 the city received through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. Idea included sending  every resident face masks through the mail, awarding grants to local businesses and covering college tuition for retraining and providing money to food banks.

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Atticus with some of the donated food.

A local 9-year-old Mountlake Terrace boy collected food, toiletries and cash to donate to the Concern for Neighbors Food Bank. Inspired by students his mother taught, Atticus Patella-Buckley decided to help out by organizing a neighborhood food drive. A couple of weeks later he had collected 475 pounds of food and toiletries, along with $295 in cash that he and his family dropped off to the organization on June 8.

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Families came out on June 4 to demonstrate in honor of George Floyd.

Community members lined the streets near Mountlake Terrace Elementary School on June 4 to honor George Floyd with a candlelight vigil while protesting police brutality against Black men and woman. Hundreds gathered along 220th Street Southwest and 52nd Avenue West in front of the elementary school to protest the killing of Floyd, a Black man who died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes.

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Mountlake Terrace High School Class of 2020 graduates pose for a picture.

The Mountlake Terrace High School Class of 2020 on June 12 received congratulations from family, friends and community members who drove by on 44th Avenue West to celebrate their graduation. Graduates accepted horn honks, cheers and applause instead of a live, in-person graduation ceremony, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Mountlake Terrace City Council at its June 15 meeting unanimously approved allocating approximately $420,000 in federal funding to help residents and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the council’s approved proposal, relief efforts will be directed toward three areas previously identified for helping local residents and businesses — safety, assistance and the economy — plus specific ideas in each of those areas to support constituents’ needs.

–By Cody Sexton

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