Photo by Ken Robinson
It was a big year for Evergreen track coach and lotto winner Tyrone Curry, right. He donated $40,000 for a new Evergreen track and was elected to the Highline School Board. PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE FOR MORE.

SLIDESHOW: Controversies continued in 2011

Controversies continued in 2011.

Most of them were left over from years past or flared up one again such as Burien annexation and the SeaTac Elected Mayor Proposition.


Here is a month-by-month look back at what made the news in Highline this past year:

The Des Moines Police Guild demanded the resignation of Mayor Bob Sheckler because of statements he made shortly after a Des Moines police officer shot and killed Rosie, a Newfoundland dog, in November. Sheckler called the demand “absurd.”
Des Moines interim police chief John O’Leary said there would be no formal disciplinary action against the officers involved in the shooting.

Former Highline Times publisher Al Sneed and ex- White Center librarian Gertrude Finney both died in January.

Controversial activist Bill Ayers spoke at Highline Community College in Des Moines during Martin Luther King Jr. Week.

Accolades rolled in for SeaTac’s Cedarbrook Lodge and its restaurant, Copperleaf. The lodge was rated the no. 1 hotel in the United States and No. 17 in the world in the Trip Advisor 2011 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Gayot recognized Copperleaf as a Top 10 New Restaurant in the U.S.

Hope was expressed that a sometimes-rancorous relationship between city staffers and developers would ease with the appointment of Cindy Baker as the director of SeaTac’s new community and economic development department. The department was a consolidation of five departments and divisions.

After six years, a new shoreline management plan was approved for Des Moines. It requires a 115-foot setback for new homes built in the shoreline residential area.

The Highline Public Schools four-year $188 million programs levy passed easily. Des Moines voters approved a special taxing district to keep open the Mt. Rainier Pool while Normandy Park voters very narrowly OK’d a special taxing district to operate local parks.

At an initial hearing on the civil complaint lodged against two Des Moines police officers by Chuck and Deirdre Wright over the shooting of their dog, Rosie, Des Moines Municipal Court Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan recused herself. In turn, the King County District Court presiding judge sent the case on to the Pierce County District Court, saying all members of the court bench were disqualified.

With spring about to spring, outdoor activities began, including the Cove to Clover charity 5K run, featuring the 500-foot ‘Snake Hill.”

The 2010 federal Census confirmed that Highline has become a much more diverse place. Minority residents in SeaTac and Tukwila are a majority of the population with the New York Times naming Tukwila the most diverse school district in the country.

Because modern jets are quieter, the designated noise contours for Sea-Tac Airport will shrink, even with the new third runway, the Port of Seattle’s Stan Shepherd told SeaTac lawmakers.

Evergreen High track coach and janitor Tyrone Curry donated $40,000 to build a new track at his school. Curry won $3.4 million in the state’s Quinto lottery in June 2006.

John Welch announced he was resigning as Highline Public Schools superintendent to become superintendent of the Puget Sound Educational Service District. Alan Spicciati was named interim superintendent.

Former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar led efforts to get a retired space shuttle for Tukwila’s Museum of Flight.

Seattle council members “punted” on annexing White Center and the remaining unincorporated North Highline area. Burien City Manager Mike Martin said there would be “no sudden moves” on annexation by Burien lawmakers.

A nonprofit group, C.A.R.E.S., headed by Discover Burien events coordinator Debra George was awarded the contract to handle animal control services for Burien.

Burien began holding community forums on its visioning statement for the future of the city.

Burglary rates in Burien and SeaTac have soared since December, nearly 100 residents were told at a crime prevention meeting.

SeaTac council members approved a $10,000 donation for Fourth of July fireworks over Angle Lake but indicated private efforts would have to fund the display in the future.

Budget cuts claimed 22 jobs at Highline Community College in Des Moines.

Snohomish County District Court agreed to hear the Rosie the dog civil complaint against two Des Moines police officers.

The state Department of Ecology approved Burien’s Shoreline Management Plan with changes. The DOE said Burien must impose a 65-foot setback for new development on marine shorelines. Also, the state agency said if public access is allowed on Lake Burien, boats may not be banned. Burien council members rejected the changes.

The Highline School Board upheld a decision not to allow 25-year volunteer Dr. Jim Rice to continue coaching Highline athletic teams. He was not accused of wrongdoing but clashed with administrators over new athletic policies.

The world’s oldest active Fuller Brush Man, Burien resident Arthur Pearson died at age 93.

Highline Public schools adopted a new logo, which went on to win a national award. Meanwhile, Superintendent Welch recommended $2 million in cuts to the district budget, including merging assistant

Superintendent Geri Fain’s position with another administrative position after Fain retired in June.

A Highline School District security guard was charged with choking a Chinook Middle School student.

With the advent of summer, Burien held its annual Wild Strawberry Festival and SeaTac hosted its International Festival.

After a half-century each of teaching, Highline High’s David Craig and Highline College’s Jim Glennon retired.

Burien council members signaled that if conditions were right, they would favor incorporating North Highline.

Patrons of the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries began a petition drive aimed at convincing the King County Library System board to not close the two libraries and build a new one near Southwest 128th Street. The board delayed its decision.

Highline cities celebrated summer with Fourth of July festivities along with music, movies and plays in the parks.

A man and woman were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jennifer Walstrand. She was found brutally stabbed and beaten in her Des Moines apartment.

Former Highline athletic assistant and stadium manager Jayson Boehm was sentenced to 13 months in prison. He was sentenced for conducting physicals on students without a license and first-degree theft.

Ground was broken for the Artmis Hotel on Pacific Highway South. With Chinese financing the facility will be Des Moines’ largest hotel.

The Sound Transit Board approved the accelerated construction of the South 200th Street light-rail station in SeaTac. Sound Transit officials are looking to the parking facility at the new station to relieve parking congestion at the Tukwila station.

Elsbeth Robinson, wife of Robinson Newspapers publisher Gerald Robinson, passed away. She worked side by side with her husband for 43 years as associate publisher and community supporter.

The Burien Town Square condos were scheduled to go back on the market at about 35 percent off their original prices.

BERK consultants released a study saying that annexation of North Highline would be financially feasible with a state sales tax credit of $5 million per year for ten years.

The iFly indoor skydiving facility opened in Tukwila near Interstate 405.

Anti-annexation activist Bob Edgar, who had attempted to withdraw from the race, garnered more votes than long-time incumbent Gordon Shaw in the primary election for a Burien City Council seat. Joey Martinez was eliminated from the three-way race.

Raisbeck Aviation High School broke ground on a site across from Tukwila’s Museum of Flight. The school is administered by the Highline School District and is the first new Highline high school building built since SeaTac’s Tyee High School.

The five-story, 500-stall Burien Park-and-Ride Garage was dedicated.

Highline School District students started their classroom labors before Labor Day as the new school year began on Sept. 1.

Summer fun continued into fall with the Burien Arts-A-Glow lantern festival, procession and gala show.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced new programs to combat gang violence in South King County. The move came after a shooting at a strip mall bordering Des Moines.

Jim Hughes announced he was retiring and closing Sal’s deli in downtown Burien. Meanwhile, Scott Law opened his model train store along the city’s main street. Law said lease rates had become too expensive in West Seattle.

Officials announced that the new jail in Des Moines, called SCORE, was ready for inmates. It will house short-term prisoners from Burien, Des Moines, SeaTac and Tukwila.

The gloves came off in SeaTac as two factions traded charges at a SeaTac council meeting. Othman Heibe, who lost his bid for a council seat in the August primary, accused Deputy Mayor Gene Fisher of using city resources to send an email to City Councilwoman Mia Gregerson and King County Councilwoman Julia Patterson accusing them of using Heibe as a “pawn.” In a startling development, Aileen Fisher, the deputy mayor’s wife, said she had sent the emails. She then read emails between Gregerson and Human Services director Colleen Brandt-Schulter that denigrated fellow council members. The emails also contained contact information about human services clients that may have been used to campaign against an elected mayor proposition in 2009.

The Burien City Council voted to declare the city’s intent to annex North Highline. A state Boundary Review Board will hold public hearings on Jan. 9 and 10 on the proposal. The board is expected to make its decision in February.

Runners and walkers participated in the 5k Brat Trot and German-style Oktoberfest in Olde Burien.

It was a tough general election for incumbents as annexation critic Bob Edgar defeated long-time Burien City Councilman Gordon Shaw and Deputy Mayor Gene Fisher was beat by ex-Councilman Barry Ladenburg. Stacia Jenkins defeated former Normandy Park mayor Charlie Harris.

Des Moines Mayor Bob Sheckler had to hang on until a mandatory machine recount determined he squeaked by with a victory over Rebecca King.
Evergreen track coach and state lotto winner Tyrone Curry defeated Highline School Board president Sili Savusa for a board position.

SeaTac’s elected mayor proposition failed for a fourth time. Proposition proponents complained that a hospitality workers union and others had spent more than $100,000 to defeat the proposition and Fisher as well as re-elect Councilwoman Mia Gregerson who had been involved in an email scandal.

The King County Library System board again gave the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries a reprieve from closure. The board voted to hold off on their consolidation plan until the boundary review board rules on annexation.

Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed to cut by 10 percent the state sales tax credit that cities have been receiving for annexing urban unincorporated areas such as Boulevard Park. She would eliminate altogether a credit for annexing new areas such as White Center. Burien officials have said the city cannot afford to annex White Center without the credit.

Two West Seattle developers announced big plans for the Des Moines Theater and surrounding buildings.

SeaTac Deputy Mayor Gene Fisher left the SeaTac council with a blast at the hospitality workers union, the firefighters union, King County Councilwoman Julia Patterson and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. Fisher said his election opponents had lied about him and damaged his reputation during the election. He accused McKenna, the state attorney general, of refusing to prosecute those who broke laws in the campaign against him.

As Highline School Board president Sili Savusa left the board to regional accolades, vice president Angelica Alvarez was elected the new president.

Highline Medical Center merged its Tukwila Specialty Campus emergency room with its new ER in Burien. An urgent care facility will replace the Tukwila ER.

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