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Current issue: JULY 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Something for the kids. Concrete Youth Activity Day serves up fun and helpful resources for youth of every age and their families. Parks Committee pursues spray park. Two grant sources have created a perfect storm of funding for a spray park in Concrete. Museum kicks off fundraising efforts to “Raise the Roof.” The Concrete Heritage Museum needs a new roof and has begun a fundraising drive to generate the money needed: $20,000. A different kind of grocer. The Woolley Market will bring local food and reminders of Upper Valley history to downtown Sedro-Woolley. Remembering April. A covered play area stands at Lyman Elementary School in memory of paraprofessional April Sanders. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * June 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Looking back ... looking forward. After the landslide, Darrington’s resilient graduating seniors remember their high school days and ponder their futures. Fire and Life Safety Building delayed. Construction of Concrete’s new Fire and Life Safety Building has been delayed but not forgotten: The permitting and design processes are still rolling behind the scenes, and Concrete’s Town Council has been making key decisions on the project. Town seeks public input for Comp. Plan update. Town of Concrete is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, which will guide the town’s decisions in key areas for the next 20 years. Concrete sophomore wins $1,000 for poem. She did it! On May 25, Concrete High School sophomore Haley McNealey learned she had won $1,000 and a second-place showing for her poem, titled “Our Duty,” that she entered in the Creativity Contest sponsored by Guemes Island Environmental Trust (GIET). Lyman layoffs unpopular with some residents. Two recent layoffs have some Lyman residents crying foul. At issue are the departures of former certified water operator Mark Kitchen—a staff member—and Cas Hancock, the former water operator at Town of Lyman, a contracted position. According to Lyman Mayor Debra Heinzman, Hancock’s contract was ended in March; Kitchen was notified of his termination around April 10. Shortly after, at least two homemade signs appeared in Lyman, stating “Lyman needs a change, starting with the mayor.” SR 530 reopens one lane. Following a moment of silence at noon Sat., May 31, State Route 530 reopened to traffic, re-establishing a critical link between the communities of Arlington, Oso, and Darrington. The highway has been closed for more than two months while crews worked to clear a devastating landslide that covered a mile of the rural corridor in March. Cascade River Road to close Sept. 1. Hikers and climbers who plan to access Boston Basin or the Cascade Pass area in North Cascades National Park this fall need to be aware that the last three miles of Cascade River Road will be closed to vehicle and foot traffic of any kind from Sept. 1 until late October. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * May 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Airport will get fueling station. If everything goes according to plan, Mears Field in Concrete soon will offer an amenity it’s never had before: fuel. The cement pad is poured and bollards in place to accept a 2,000-gallon, reinforced fuel tank by the end of May. Community clears new path. A recently cleared path that begins at the pullout on State Route 20 and leads to the Skagit River at the east end of Concrete was a collaborative effort of community members and local organizations. It replaced steps that had deteriorated over time and had been removed because they were no longer safe or functional. Shoreline work finishes ahead of schedule. WSDOT announced May 1 that State Route 20 was back on its original course east of Rockport after completion of a project to keep the Skagit River in its current channel. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * April 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Women HAND in Hand. Upper Valley group aims to bring inspiration, hope, friendship, encouragement to women. Earth Week in Concrete. Earth Day is April 22 this year,and Concrete is joining the effort to celebrate our planet by hosting Earth Week in Concrete, a variety of events from April 19 to 26. Here’s a list of some of the confirmed activities. FBLA team triumphs. Under the leadership of high school teacher and club advisor Claus Joens, Concrete’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) team is going to great lengths to prepare for future success. Chief Wood announces retirement. On May 31, Sedro-Woolley Police Chief Doug Wood will ride off into the sunset of retirement, but he won’t be out of sight. Name, leadership change for United General. A ribbon-cutting ceremony April 1 marked the beginning of an alliance between PeaceHealth Medical Group and what Upper Valley citizens have known for decades as United General Hospital. The facility’s new name is PeaceHealth United General Medical Center. Jim Barnhart was named its chief administrative officer. SR 20 clearing work begins. The effort to reopen the North Cascades Highway began March 31. Despite the heavy late-season snowfall, those responsible for the annual reopening effort are optimistic that State Route 20 could be open by early May. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * March 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Wonder Women. Upper Valley women are losing weight and rediscovering themselves. Council concerned about Eagles Nest. Reports that the Eagles Nest Motel in Concrete was being used as transitional housing raised concerns among Concrete Town Council members last November. New owner Greg Bowlin was quick to smooth out misconceptions, assuring the council that he is running the Eagles Nest as a motel, with reduced rates for up to a 30-day stay. Does East Valley Medical have a future? At noon on April 1, a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Sedro-Woolley will mark the beginning of a new approach to health care in eastern Skagit County, as PeaceHealth United General Medical Center becomes a reality. In Concrete, that reality might soon mean the end of East Valley Medical Clinic as it exists today, if a new way of managing its predominantly low-income clientele can’t be found. Ketchum takes second in 2B state wrestling tourney. Concrete freshman Louie Ketchum must have been reading from the same play-book as Darrington sophomore Mason McKenzie, because this year at Mat Classic XXVI, Ketchum did exactly what McKenzie did last year, albeit in a lighter weight class. Wins propelled the 106-lb. Ketchum into the finals, where he eventually faced Jose Paco of Kittitas, who handed him his first loss. But Ketchum already had what most freshmen athletes never achieve: a 2nd place medal at the state 2B level. Anne Schwartz honored at EcoFarm. Anne Schwartz of Blue Heron Farm in Rockport traveled to California in January, where she was honored for her decades of work in support of sustainable agriculture. Schwartz was one of three people awarded a “Sustie” at the annual EcoFarm Conference, held by the Ecological Farming Association this year at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, Calif. Darrington wrestlers pound Mat Classic. Logger wrestlers steamrolled their way into the finals at Mat Classic XXVI this year, capturing four individual medals and a 3rd place team trophy. Community garden opens April 1. The Angele Cupples Community Garden in Concrete will enter its fourth growing season on April 1. An Imagine Concrete initiative, the garden offers 29 raised beds that are available for rent, as well as eight additional beds and a field crops area that again will be used to grow produce for Concrete Food Bank. Concrete and area citizens are encouraged to rent a bed in the garden, where produce can be grown for a fraction of the cost of store-bought vegetables. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * February 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Nailed it. After 15 years of stop-and-start efforts, Concrete locks down final funding for its planned Fire and Life Safety Building: a $1 million Community Development Block Grant. No clear answers after Cape Horn assault reports. Officials still don’t have any suspects after two alleged assaults were reported in the Cape Horn park late last year. Imagine Concrete Foundation gets nonprofit status. Imagine Concrete Foundation received welcome news late last year. A letter from the IRS dated Nov. 20, 2013, confirmed the fledgling foundation had finally been granted 501(c)(3) status, allowing it to accept donations for Imagine Concrete initiative projects and provide receipts for tax purposes. The foundation may pay out funds only to municipalities and other 501(c)(3)-designated nonprofits. Redevelopment of Northern State Hospital to be explored. The Port of Skagit announced in January it has formed a partnership with Skagit County and the City of Sedro-Woolley to explore possibilities for the redevelopment of the former Northern State Hospital campus and grounds, according to an interlocal agreement among the three entities completed Jan. 13. Riverbank restoration project in full swing this month. With a temporary roadway detour in place, WSDOT crews will begin this month to install engineered logjams along the Skagit River shoreline and SR 20 approximately three miles east of Rockport. Marblemount man still missing; subject in jail. A Marblemount man is in jail on suspicion of involvement in the disappearance of a second Marblemount man, Edgar James “Jimmy” Robinette, 32. Steven Frederick Gest, 57, is being held on a magistrate’s warrant while the investigation into Robinette’s disappearance continues. Gest is charged with first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * January 2014 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Ogling eagles. The Skagit Eagle Festival again beckons visitors to eastern Skagit County in January for four weekends of recreation, entertainment, and education. Council appoints new member. On Dec. 9, Concrete Town Council members appointed Ginger Kyritsis to Council Position No. 5. Interpretive Center open through Jan. 26. The doors of the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center in Rockport will be open to the public through Jan. 26, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is located along the northern edge of Howard Miller Steelhead Park. Darrington quality of life discussed. On Dec. 12 the Darrington Intervention-Prevention Community Coalition (DIPCC) and the Family Resource Center teamed up to present a community forum titled, “Family Night with a Purpose” to discuss the quality of life in Darrington. Marblemount to host Eagle Festival events. The weekend of Jan. 11–12 is packed with Skagit Eagle Festival events in Marblemount. Here’s a look at what’s in store for attendees. Resolutions into reality. It’s the time of year when we’re faced with making New Year’s resolutions again. Studies show that only eight percent of people are successful at achieving their goals. The No. 1 resolution is to lose weight. As a certified health coach and retired RN, I’ve learned a lot about why people fail and succeed. The answer is in their approach to making resolutions. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * December 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Unlikely artists. Let’s be honest: When asked to imagine an artist, most people’s thoughts don’t immediately jump to their friendly neighborhood public works employee. But that’s exactly the situation in Concrete, where not one but two staffers spend their days maintaining and operating the town’s infrastructure and landscapes, and their nights creating beautiful works of art that some Concrete Herald readers have hanging in their homes. Miller wins mayoral race. He’s been the voice of the Upper Skagit Valley for four years, but now it’s more than just a line on a newspaper flag. Jason Miller was elected mayor of Concrete Nov. 5, beating six-year incumbent Judd Wilson with 61 percent of the vote. Concrete approves marijuana zoning changes. At its Nov. 25 regular meeting, the Concrete Town Council approved changes to its zoning code that will prohibit production, processing, and retail sales of recreational and medical marijuana within its residential areas. Two new faces on S-W Council. On Nov. 26 the Skagit County Elections Dept. certified the last of 35,847 ballots cast in the county. In Sedro-Woolley the final numbers mean some new faces will fill city council seats effective Jan. 1, 2014. Darrington athletics in the spotlight. Darrington volleyball team goes to State, Amy Miles is all kinds of awesome, new coaches and athletes inducted into Hall of Fame. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * November 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) "Now I know who I am." Rose Weaver of Concrete reunited with her birth mother, Connie Brackney, after decades of searching and wondering about her place in the world. Weaver was taken from her mother at six weeks old and placed with an adoptive family. Council nears marijuana decision. The Town of Concrete Town Council decided Oct. 28 to take a “better safe than sorry” approach to addressing production, processing, and retail sales of recreational and medical marijuana, and medical marijuana collective gardens. Imagine Concrete announces 2013 workshop results. On March 16, Imagine Concrete Foundation held its third community visioning workshop, during which it focused on economic development and ways of creating an economic engine. Sedro-Woolley songwriter working toward success. Sedro-Woolley songwriter and musician Lance Sims has reached a milestone on a musical journey that takes him to Nashville and back. And yet, in many ways, he’s never left home. What's next for DABA? Darrington area business owners and concerned citizens gathered Oct. 16 for the monthly Darrington Area Business Association meeting. Top of mind for most attendees was DABA President Nels Rasmussen’s September announcement that the organization had received an automatic letter of nonprofit revocation from the IRS for DABA’s 501(c)(6) status. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * October 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Incumbents face challengers in Nov. 5 general election. Several Upper Valley public offices will go to a vote in the Nov. 5 general election, with four contested council races in Sedro-Woolley and a mayoral race in Concrete. The Martians are coming! Graphic novel will illustrate Upper Valley citizens’ reactions to Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast. Sedro-Woolley icon Anne Janicki passes. Janicki family matriarch and longtime Sedro-Woolley citizen Anne Janicki passed away Sept. 17. She was 83 years old. Rockport couple creates a place for healing. “Camp Stillwater” bunkhouse offers respite for veterans wounded in action. Third time’s the charm? After two failed attempts to build a skate park in Darrington, project proponents hope fledgling funds will mean success. Boot Drive pulls in thousands. This year’s Boot Drive fundraiser brought much-needed support for the Marblemount station in Fire Dist. 19. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * September 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) In the bend of the bow. Steve Sahlin preaches and practices the art of bow making in Marblemount. Wilson, Miller vie for Concrete Mayor seat. On election day Nov. 5, Concrete citizens will choose between two candidates for mayor: incumbent Judd Wilson and his challenger, Jason Miller. Fire Dist. 10 lands three grants. Fire District 10—which includes the Grasmere and Birdsview stations—has received approval for three federal grants that will pay for new bunker gear, equipment, and a vehicle. Community garden to benefit from USDA grant. August brought good news for the Angele Cupples Community Garden in Concrete, with word that the town has secured a $13,800 USDA Rural Development grant. Field narrows as Nov. 5 approaches. The Aug. 6 primary election left one contested Sedro-Woolley City Council race too close to call, and a second race all but a sure thing. Concerned Darrington citizens discuss forest service roads. Community members and U.S. Forest Service staff packed the Darrington Community Center Aug. 21 to participate in a Sustainable Roads Analysis public forum for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * August 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Hometown hero honored. A bright and blustery day greeted visitors to the Concrete High School football field July 27, where more than 500 gathered to commemorate a Concrete graduate who went out into the world and became a hero. Key funding comes through for new Life Safety Building. As the 2013 legislative session finally came to a close the evening of June 29, a stroke of good fortune occurred for Town of Concrete and its efforts to secure funding for a new Life Safety Building to replace its old fire hall. CAIR-WA suspends complaint against Concrete School District. The Seattle office of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), a self-described Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, will, for the time being, no longer pursue allegations it filed in February with the U.S. Dept. of Justice against Concrete School District and elementary school teacher Mary Janda. Matthew's moving on. Come the 2013–14 school year, Concrete High School is going to notice some significant gaps in its coaching staff. Matthew Williams, who has coached in various capacities for the past five years, resigned in January to pursue employment as a 911 call taker and dispatcher in Skagit County. Darrington draws archers for national competition. More than 300 archers from all over the world descended on Darrington from July 24–28 for the 2013 National Field Archery Association Outdoor National Championship. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * July 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Upper Valley packed with July events. July in the Upper Skagit Valley typically is packed with events, and this year is no exception. Here’s a look at the major happenings this month, in order. Public meetings announced to decide future of forest roads. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staffers want to find out what roads are important to the public and why. Guided by mandates in the 2005 Travel Management Rule, each national forest must identify a road system by 2015 within budget for safe travel, use, administration, and resource protection. Translation: Tell the forest service which roads you can’t live without, and be prepared to see the others decommissioned. Jail funding on Aug. 6 ballot. On Aug. 6, Skagit County voters will be asked to approve a 3/10 of one percent increase to the existing county sales tax (approximately three cents per every $10 spent) to pay for a new county jail. A history of flight. At Mears Field in Concrete is a museum that exists because of one man’s vision—and the passion of a colleague and friend to run with it. Composed of six hangars and about 45 old flying machines, the North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museum invites visitors year-round to experience airplanes from the 1920s and ’30s, the “Golden Age of Aviation.” Effort to rehab North Mountain Lookout gaining traction. A family of four bounces up Forest Rd. No. 2810 a few miles outside Darrington. As they round a corner, a lookout comes into sight above the treetops. They park and carry their gear up the 41-foot tower. The kids are thrilled, the parents are enchanted. They’ve just discovered their new family tradition. That’s the vision for the Friends of North Mountain—or one version of it. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * June 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Some offices contested in coming elections. With filing week passed, Upper Valley towns have a clear picture of who’s running for which public office this fall. Some positions have three candidates vying for the seat; those candidates will face off in the Aug. 6 primary election. Positions with two or fewer candidates will move through to the Nov. 5 general election. Elk Management Steering Committee to meet. The North Cascades Elk Management Group Steering Committee will hold the first meeting of the North Cascades Elk Management Group this month. The public meeting will be held Wed., June 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sedro-Woolley Community Center, 703 Pacific St. in Sedro-Woolley. Concrete Resource Group receives funding to reduce underage drinking. Concrete Resource Group has been selected to receive $50,000 to reduce youth alcohol and other drug use, and create a healthier and safer community environment. The support includes funding for half-time coordinator, training, technical assistance, and community and school-based prevention services. Council reduces sewer connection fees. In an effort to bolster business development in town, the Sedro-Woolley City Council unanimously voted to reduce sewer connection fees and transportation impact fees at its regular meeting May 8. Venn retires after decade with SWSD. Sedro-Woolley School District Superintendent Mark Venn will step down from his post this month, a decade after he joined the district. His last day will be June 26. Natural Skagit Day at Lyman Slough. Skagit Land Trust will host Natural Skagit Day at the Lyman Slough Conservation Area on Sat., June 15. The family-friendly event begins at Lyman City Park and will feature nature walks, fly-fishing demonstrations, and volunteer opportunities. Rockport man faces murder charge. A Rockport man faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of his longtime girlfriend. Dwight Foster, 70, was taken into custody by Skagit County Sheriff’s deputies May 12 at his residence in Rockport. Deputies responded to the residence after a neighbor called 911 and reported that Foster had said he had killed his wife. Comments requested on lake restoration proposal. The National Park Service is seeking comments on proposed changes to the mountain lakes restoration program at North Cascades National Park Complex. North Cascades National Park is soliciting public comments through June 14, 2013. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * May 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) The problem with elk. Late last year, former Concrete resident Robert DiLeo, Jr. stood on a neighbor’s front porch, dried blood in his left ear and numerous cuts on his face. He knocked on the door and asked for some plastic sheeting to create a temporary window on the driver’s side of the family car. 2014 offices open for election. Several Upper Valley public offices will go to a vote in the Aug. 6 primary election and Nov. 5 general election this year. Candidate filing week is May 13–17. Lions Den Teen Center. The former Concrete Eagles building in Concrete Town Center is about to get a major overhaul. New owners Mike and Melissa Swanberg, who own The Washington Cafe and Bakery next door, plan to expand their dining area and bakery kitchen into their “new” digs, and include a section of artwork and other items made by Upper Skagit Valley residents. But that’s just the tip of this story’s iceberg. The Swanbergs also have given the nod to local couple Jarrod and Valerie Lee, who plan to convert the basement of the former Eagles building into a hangout for high school-age youth: the Lions Den Teen Center. Revived robotics program places at competition. After a two-year hiatus, the Concrete High School Robotics program roared back to life this year at the FIRST Robotics Regional Tournament in Ellensburg, Wash., placing 4th out of 50 teams at the event. Reward offered for missing log section. An important piece of history has gone missing from the Hamilton area, and its owner is willing to pay for its return. Sometime during the two weeks prior to April 8, a massive log section was removed from the Janicki Industries’ Hamilton Plant in Hamilton. Lyman will annex into Fire Dist. 8. An overwhelming vote April 23 from Lyman and Fire Dist. 8 residents will see the town annex into the fire district. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * CAIR-WA and Concrete School District: Peers: Student misinterpreted teacher’s message. Two more students have stepped forward to defend Concrete School District teacher Mary Janda’s claim that she did not make statements of religious intolerance last October, bringing the total number of students corroborating Janda’s version of the incident to four. Concrete Herald barred from interview with student. After sending a March 21 invitation to a special, media-only interview with the student who has accused Concrete K-8 teacher Mary Janda of making anti-Muslim comments during a class discussion, the Seattle office for the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) today abruptly barred Concrete Herald from attending the interview. CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari cited family concerns as the reason. CAIR-WA hosts forum in Concrete. About 60 people attended a March 24 meeting at Concrete Center in the ongoing discussion surrounding Concrete K-8 School teacher Mary Janda and the student who claims Janda made anti-Muslim comments during a class discussion last October. Community rallies for Concrete teacher. More than 450 people—about half of them from Concrete and other Upper Valley communities—filled the Concrete Assembly of God Church Tuesday night in support of Concrete Elementary School teacher Mary Janda. * * * April 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) How to save a Superior Building. Last year, almost three dozen citizens from Concrete and its vicinity gathered in front of the Superior Portland Cement Company administrative building on Main Street in Concrete, holding signs that demonstrated their feelings about the old landmark: “This Place Matters.” Peers: Student misinterpreted teacher’s message. Two more students have stepped forward to defend Concrete School District teacher Mary Janda’s claim that she did not make statements of religious intolerance last October, bringing the total number of students corroborating Janda’s version of the incident to four. Imagining a viable economy. A group of about 25 engaged Upper Valley citizens met March 16 for the third biennial Imagine Concrete workshop. This year’s topic was economic development in Concrete and the surrounding areas, and how their assets and resources might be used to restart the local economy. 2013 offices open for election: Candidate filing week is May 13–17. Several Upper Valley public offices will go to a vote in the Aug. 6 primary election and Nov. 5 general election this year. Candidate filing week is May 13–17. Candidates who wish to run for public office must register during this period between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Clear Lake Beach Park takes another step. After hosting two Parks Board Meetings in the Clear Lake Community in late 2012 to discuss the new Site Development Plan for Clear Lake Beach Park, the Skagit County Parks and Recreation board reconvened March 21 for a regular meeting that included a look at the most recent park design. PeaceHealth responds to group's concerns. The pending alliance between United General Hospital and PeaceHealth in July of this year has gotten a mixed reaction from citizens of the Upper Skagit Valley. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * March 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Our dentist can beat up your dentist. Concrete dentist Sharon Feller doesn’t necessarily look like she can take a hit. But she’s discovered a new hobby that leaves her bruised—and exhilarated—every time she does it. Let's talk about economic development. Ever since the cement industries pulled up stakes and the logging industry waned, Concrete and the rest of the Upper Skagit Valley have toggled back and forth between struggle and stagnation. A company town for most of its existence, Concrete actually flourished during the Great Depression, when the rest of the country bowed under the weight of an economic downturn unrivaled to this day. Mr. Wilson goes to Olympia. Concrete Mayor Judd Wilson and Fire Chief Rich Philips traveled to Olympia Feb. 20 to increase awareness and encourage support for the town’s planned Fire and Life Safety Building. Shorter hours at rural post offices. Budget crunches in the United States Postal Service are finding their way to the rural communities of eastern Skagit County, and not many citizens here are happy with the changes. Concrete extends medical Cannabis moratorium. The Concrete Town Council voted unanimously Feb. 25 to extend a moratorium in place regarding medical Cannabis dispensaries and collective gardens within the town limits. Loggers nab three medals at Mat Classic. Admirable efforts by the Darrington wrestling team netted three state medals for the loggers, including one for the record books. Filtz, Warner wreck school hoops records. Concrete senior women’s basketball players Jessica Filtz and Kylee Warner finished their Concrete High School careers by repeatedly etching their names in the school’s record books and setting the bar even higher for future players. Accusations of religious intolerance at Concrete K-12. Allegations of religious discrimination were leveled against the Concrete School District in February, when the Seattle office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) announced it would seek a Department of Justice investigation into alleged anti-Islam remarks made by a Concrete K-8 School teacher. The district immediately defended the teacher, Mary Janda, who has a spotless record in her 20-year career at the school, according to Superintendent Barbara Hawkings. Holte gift supports Community Action. Alvina “Bunny” Holte and her late husband, Lester, contributed generously to the Skagit Valley community. Upon her passing in September 2012 at the age of 98, Holte left a legacy gift of more than $800,000 to Community Action of Skagit County. DABA discusses fate of North Mountain Lookout. The Feb. 20 meeting of the Darrington Area Business Association found members facing a lofty subject—literally. On the table was the condition of the North Mountain Lookout and whether it might be rehabilitated or left to the same fate as many of its peers in the U.S.: decay or demolition. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * February 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Mile-high love. When faced with the specter of breast cancer, some people react with tears or anger or determination. Sahara Suval is going to climb a mountain. Council scales back Public Safety Building. Town of Concrete has decided to think smaller in order to fund its new Public Safety Building with a grant and state moneys instead of another loan. Doug Vose statue installation planned. A plan is in the works to commemorate Concrete High School graduate Douglas W. Vose III (class of 1988) with a lifesize bronze statue installed on the school’s campus in July. Replacement levy vote coming Feb. 12. Concrete School District voters will decide Feb. 12 whether to approve a replacement educational programs and operations levy for the district. Hamilton names new mayor. Hamilton Town Council members voted Jan. 8 to fill the mayor’s seat left vacant by the passing of former Mayor Tim Bates. A unanimous vote put councilmember Joan Cromley in the position. Tragic death near Marblemount. News of an unexpected death rocked Upper Valley communities in mid-January, when citizens learned that Brittany Zika, 28, of Rockport, had died from a gunshot wound. Shepherd of the Hills welcomes new pastor. Retired pastor and U.S. Army Special Forces Chaplain Chris Anderson has stepped up to fill the pulpit at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Concrete. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * January 2013 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Hamilton mourns its mayor. Hamilton Mayor Timothy Bates passed away Dec. 16, leaving behind a legacy of 27 years spent caring for the town’s citizens. The show will go on. An eight-month effort has yielded the desired outcome: Concrete Theatre’s doors will stay open in 2013. United General acquires Concrete clinic and pharmacy. Effective Jan. 1, United General Hospital began leasing East Valley Medical and Diagnostic Center and East Valley Pharmacy. The facility, located at 7438 South D Ave. in Concrete, is now one of three family practices operated by United General. The other two are in Sedro-Woolley. The eagles are back. The popular Skagit Eagle Festival will once again beckon visitors to eastern Skagit County for four weekends of recreation, entertainment and education in January 2013. Loggerodeo launches fundraising drive. Loggerodeo officials are driving a recently launched fundraiser to help pay for the flower baskets that line the streets of downtown Sedro-Woolley. Back where they belong. Staff and volunteers from Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Friday Harbor converged on Rockport Dec. 12. They brought with them four special guests: juvenile bald eagles that had come to harm—and been nursed back to health by the center. Darrington community dance going strong. On a snowy evening Dec. 15 at the Mansford Grange in Darrington, nearly 30 adults and kids participated in the monthly community contra dance. "It's a Wonderful Life" parody wins CCF contest. Cathaleen and Colby Stewart of Marblemount worked together to snag a fun win for the Campus Christian Fellowship club at Skagit Valley College in December. Seattle City Light acquires 30-plus acres of salmon habitat. Seattle City Light has completed the final purchase of three properties totaling 32.5 acres of land to protect key spawning areas for Chinook salmon in the Skagit River. A Dec. 11 purchase agreement involved 4.5 acres of land on the Skagit River, six miles east of Marblemount known as the Hylback property. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * December 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) United General, PeaceHealth sign off on proposed alliance. For Public Hospital District No. 304 commissioners, Christmas came in November. At their Nov. 15 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to form an alliance with PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. Christmas services and events. A list of holiday-themed parties, soirees, church services, etc. Second community forum further solidifies vision for Clear Lake Beach Park. A second public forum to discuss a new site plan for Clear Lake Beach Park was held Nov. 29 at Clear Lake Elementary School. Parade, Holiday Home Tour headline Magic of Christmas. Magic of Christmas festivities kicked off Dec. 1 with the annual tree-lighting ceremony and parade through downtown Sedro-Woolley. More events are scheduled through December. Lyman Elementary a “School of Distinction” again. They did it again. For the second year in a row, Lyman Elementary School teachers and administrators have done what it takes to be named a 2012 School of Distinction in Washington. Lyman Elementary was the only elementary school in Skagit County to earn the award. Interpretive Center open to public through January. The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport is open to the general public through January. Managed and staffed by members of the Skagit River Bald Eagle Awareness Team (SRBEAT), the center will welcome visitors each weekend during that period, as well as the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. City Light reimagines its Skagit facilities. If you’ve been to Newhalem recently, you’ve noticed some obvious changes to a few of the buildings in town. In 2009, Seattle City Light began considering its facilities in Newhalem and Diablo. In 2011, work began to reimagine those facilities. The effort is becoming more noticeable now. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * November 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Life after I-1183. Five months after it took effect, the initiative that privatized liquor sales in Washington gets mixed reviews from Upper Valley retailers. Officials discuss public safety building. State and federal government officials traveled to Concrete Oct. 31 for a meeting with town staff and representatives. The agenda: Concrete’s plan for a new public safety building to replace its failing fire station at the east end of Main Street. PSE power house, floating surface collector projects enter home stretch. Two major Puget Sound Energy projects are sprinting toward completion in Concrete. Both should wrap up at different points in 2013. What's your vision for Clear Lake Beach Park? A second public forum to discuss a new site plan for Clear Lake Beach Park is scheduled for Thur., Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at Clear Lake Elementary School, 23631 Lake St., in Clear Lake, and hosted by Skagit County Parks and Recreation. Heaven on wheels. Soggy skies did little to dampen the spirits of more than 100 skateboard enthusiasts who descended on Sedro-Woolley’s latest skater-friendly attraction: a brand-new skate park that already is being touted as the finest one north of Seattle. Lyman annexes into Fire Dist. 8. It’s official. Town of Lyman has merged with Fire Dist. 8. The annexation was made official Oct. 10 when the district passed a resolution to accept the annexation. Rerouted stream will double habitat for young fish. A restoration project at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport soon will increase young salmon and trout habitat twofold. WSDOT to repair Skagit River shoreline near milepost 100. A $20 million effort has begun to protect a short stretch of State Route 20 and restore the Skagit River. The trouble spot is between Marblemount and Rockport, just east of milepost 100 and across the highway from Cascadian Farm, where the shoreline is constantly buffeted by the Skagit. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * October 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Library, Concrete Center will stay where they are—for now. After some messy misunderstandings, county officials announced Sept. 21 that the two county-run entities won’t trade places anytime in the foreseeable future. Road construction to continue into October. September found two major road projects under way in Concrete. Ghost Walk returns for 7th year. This year’s Concrete Ghost Walk brings back the spooky every Saturday night in October, delivering an experience that’s “partly historical, sometimes hysterical, and usually more than a little bit creepy,” according to organizers. Art Auction to support theater. Pacific Northwest artists are rallying behind Concrete Theatre’s “Donate to Digital” campaign. To further help generate funds for the effort, an Art Show and Auction will be held at the theater on Fri., Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. Clear Lake Beach Park discussed at community forum. What is your vision for Clear Lake Beach Park? That was the question on the table at a Sept. 20 community forum hosted by Skagit County Parks and Recreation in Clear Lake. Long rider reaches Rockport. Art Olson and Christie Fairchild of Glacier View Mules in Rockport got an interesting phone call last month. Ramsie Rue had made it to Darrington, but needed new shoes. Not for herself. For her horses. Darrington birthday girl Ella McClure turns 100. Anyone who lives to be 100 has to put up with people asking her how she did it. I sat down with Ella McClure and her close friend, Rose Fagerberg, in McClure’s Darrington home Sept. 18 and decided to get that question out of the way. She answered with disarming brevity. “I didn’t do anything. I just lived.” Statewide poaching and wildlife trafficking raids include Marblemount restaurant. Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife police officers served 14 warrants statewide Sept. 18, targeting businesses and individuals who allegedly were involved in poaching and illegally selling wild animal parts. One of those businesses was a Marblemount restaurant. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * September 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Sewer rates to rise slowly. Concrete’s cash-strapped sewer utility fund isn’t healing itself, and the only way to bring it back into the black is to raise rates for utility payers. That’s the way Concrete Town Council members voted during their Aug. 13 regular meeting. Town ponders buying burned property. Town of Concrete is growing weary of looking at the burned-out house at 45501 Main St. During their Aug. 27 regular meeting, council members decided to push a little harder to find out why the building hasn’t been demolished. Theater campaign passes halfway mark. The fundraising campaign for the Concrete Theatre Digital Conversion has passed the halfway mark toward its goal of $50,000. The combination of several fundraising events and the efforts and contributions of many individuals has resulted in just over $25,000 collected at the end of August. Lions football reloads for 2012. Down the hall, in a trophy case, sits what was once the football team’s rallying cry: “We Don’t Rebuild, We Reload.” That saying can be applied to this season’s squad as well. Gone are games where names like Howell and Clark were a focal point, and in have stepped a bevy of backs and ends who are eager to share the workload. Old Darrington City Hall gets a new life. A friend’s suggestion prompted Bruce Blacker to ask the Darrington City Council about leasing the old City Hall building. He had an idea about what could be done with it. Blacker, who owns the Blacker Shake Mill in Oso, is working to transform the building, located on the corner of Darrington St. and Elwell Ave., into a distillery, brew pub, and restaurant. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * August 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Superior Building gets a reprieve. After first voting on July 9 to abandon efforts to secure funding for an early phase of restoring the Superior Portland Cement Company Administration Building, the Concrete Town Council agreed on July 25 to let two advisory groups pursue funding opportunities. Road Warriors. What do you do when one of your favorite backcountry roads has been closed because there isn’t enough money for the U.S. Forest Service to maintain it? If you’re Darrington’s Martha Rasmussen, you form a volunteer group to take on the task of monitoring the most crucial forest roads and doing what you can to keep them open, navigable, and beautiful. Concrete passes moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. Looking to buy time to gather citizen input and examine its legal options and obligations, Concrete Town Council voted July 25 to place a moratorium on the issue of whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries within town limits. August road projects in Concrete. Main Street, Burpee Hill Rd. get the nod this month. Cascade Days hits Concrete. Concrete’s biggest summer attraction is once again lined up, promising family-friendly fun for all ages during the weekend of Aug. 18–19. Back to School Blessing. The annual Back-to-School Blessing event in Concrete will take place at Concrete Center on Sun., Aug. 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. Concrete Theatre fundraising nears halfway point. Six months into its campaign to raise $50,000 for a digital projection system, Concrete Theatre is nearing the halfway point. As of July 30, the effort had pulled in $22,130, said Valerie Stafford, who owns the theater with her husband, Fred West. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * July 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) July events kick off summer. Summer is finally here, bringing a slew of community festivals to the Upper Valley. Main Street Painting Project begins to show results. If you’ve been to Concrete Town Center recently, you might have noticed a marked change in the appearance of the buildings along the south side of Main Street. Those brand-new coats of paint are largely because of a small band of local volunteers who decided to make an effort to help any interested business or building owner spruce up their building’s exterior. Editorial: A pivotal point for the Superior Bldg. During the regular Concrete Town Council meeting on June 25, a surprising and disappointing thing happened. After more than three years of what Superior Building proponents have interpreted as support for its adaptive reuse, three councilmembers started singing a different tune. Summer road projects aim to repair, increase safety. June, July, and August road projects in Concrete will shore up potential problem areas and make travel lanes safer for folks on foot and behind the wheel. "Mountain Runners" to screen at Concrete Theatre. “Amazing Race”? We have your amazing race right here. On Sun., July 22, Concrete Theatre will screen director Todd Warger’s latest documentary, “The Mountain Runners,” in two showings, at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $7. PUD bringing high-speed Internet to Lyman area. A plan to bring high-speed Internet to a stretch of the Upper Valley between Punkin Center and Lyman could spell relief for businesses and homeowners who have struggled with sluggish transmission speeds for years. Skagit County Public Utility District plans to connect them to an existing backbone of fiber optics it installed in 2007, which runs from Sedro-Woolley to Hamilton. If all goes according to plan, the project will be complete by March 19, 2013. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * June 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) High-speed Internet coming to Upper Valley. The promise of high-speed Internet access is about to be realized in the smaller, rural communities of the Upper Skagit Valley. Concrete steps up ordinance enforcement. Town of Concrete will intensify enforcement of a few key ordinances during 2012, according to its Code Enforcement Officer, Rich Philips. Track team brings home state tourney medals. Eight Concrete athletes headed to the WIAA State Track & Field Champion-ships in Cheney, bringing home 2nd- and 8th-place medals. Leading the way was junior Jessica Filtz, who grabbed second place in women’s javelin with a personal-best throw of 123 feet, 4 inches. Lyman Yard Sale coming June 22-23. Lyman’s 9th Annual Community Yard Sale will be held on Fri., June 22 and Sat., June 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration forms are available at Town Hall or online at www.facebook.com/lymanyardsale. A day on the river for wounded warriors. Four combat-wounded U.S. military veterans will arrive in Rockport this month as part of a program that seeks to reconnect veterans with their peers and American society. Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo arrives in June. The dust will fly again as the 51st annual Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo gallops into town June 23–24. The fun begins at 2 p.m. both days. Produced by the Darrington Horse Owners Association (DHOA), the event again will be held at the rodeo grounds, located at 42109 SR 530 NE near Darrington. Marblemount Diner reopens with new owners. Jim and Charlene Mullen have traded the hustle and bustle of Everett for the relative calm of Marblemount—at least during the winter. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * May 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Why Concrete matters. One engaged citizen aims to document the places we love too much to lose. Former deputy clerk gets 20 days, restitution. A former deputy clerk for Town of Concrete was found guilty of second-degree theft, sentenced to 20 days of jail time, and ordered to repay Town of Concrete for funds she stole while serving in her former position. Public safety building moving from dream to reality. After years of waiting for the right stars to align, an idea to build a new public safety building in Concrete has begun to grow legs. Paint the town. Main Street Painting Project aims to dress up storefronts on a shoestring budget. Concrete Theatre launches fundraising campaign. After a flurry of publicity from Seattle television stations and local radio, Concrete Theatre owners Val Stafford and Fred West hosted a brainstorming session on April 26 at the theater. The topic? How to raise $50,000 for a digital projection system for the theater. Historical Association plans annual reunion. Clear Lake Historical Association invites the public to join its members for the Clear Lake Reunion (anyone having anything to do with Clear Lake, past or present). This year’s event will be held Sun., May 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the former IOOF Hall in Clear Lake, 12655 Highway 9 (next door to the post office). Blast from the Past is back. One of Sedro-Woolley’s favorite events is coming again, returning to town June 1–3. Illabot Creek Road will stay open. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest won’t close the Illabot Creek Road anytime soon. A decision to dismantle the road and remove culverts and bridges was withdrawn March 27 in response to public appeals. Darrington Day descends again on May 26. It’s time once again for Darrington’s annual celebration of wildflowers, waterfalls, and outdoor adventures. This year’s Darrington Day event will be held Sat., May 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * April 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Tales of B tournaments. Retired coach Jim Stinson of Spokane has compiled a history of Washington’s “B” basketball tournament from 1931–2010. Concrete water must be metered by 2017. A 2003 state law could force Town of Concrete to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars by 2017 in order to bring parts of its water system into compliance. Concrete Theatre faces $50K digital upgrade challenge. Reopening Concrete Theatre in February 2010 was challenging enough for owners Val Stafford and Fred West. Now, a film industry shift to digital-only movies has the potential to close the theater for good. Fly-in appears to be a go. March was a rollercoaster ride for Town of Concrete officials as the future of this year’s North Cascades Vintage Fly-in moved from certain to doubtful, then back to probable. Easter 2012 services and events. New coach for fastpitch team. Britt Howell was member of 2007 state champs team. Fire destroys Marblemount farmers' home. Marblemount farmers Brandie Lambdin and Bradley Tremper have been trying to recover from a March 11 fire that destroyed their home. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * March 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Singing with a star. Montgomery Gentry’s Eddie Kilgallon joins SWHS music groups March 16 to raise funds for Challenge Day. Sewer rate hike likely in 2012. Concrete citizens soon may find themselves paying a slowly increasing rate for sewer services. The primary reason for the increase is payments the town makes on three USDA loans the town secured to build its wastewater treatment plant. Fly-in almost nosedives. After insurance concerns were raised by a pilot/attorney after last year’s event, the 2012 Concrete North Cascade Vintage Fly-in almost became a fond memory. Superior Building presentation full of hope. A preliminary report delivered during the Feb. 16 Historical Preservation and Landmarks Commission meeting offered a hopeful future for the Superior Building. The building lay neglected for decades before the Imagine Concrete of April 2009 revealed an interest among area citizens to restore it to its former beauty. Cement City Trail Run aims to boost boosters. Concrete Lions Booster Club will host the “Cement City Trail Run” on Sat., April 21. Designed as a fundraiser for the club, which funnels money directly to Concrete School District students, the run offers races for all ages and running experience. Marblemount Diner owners retire after seven years. A Marblemount institution will officially change hands later this month. After seven years of providing delicious American fare, Marblemount Diner owners Alan and Lori Goerdt have decided to open the “retirement” chapter of their lives. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * February 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Leader of the band. Someone is helping the Concrete School District Music Department move toward reclaiming its glory of decades past. That someone is Peter Ormsby. Mardi Gras 2012 in Concrete. Got the winter doldrums? Shake them off with the 5th annual Mardi Gras celebration in Concrete Town Center on Sat., Feb. 18. The parade starts at 3 p.m., with more food and fun to follow. Main Street Revitalization. It's a brand-new year, one we could start with a new mantra: "Rethink, Reclaim, Revitalize." New faces at Sheriff's East Detachment office. Locals should recognize Sgt. Chad Clark and Deputy Kelly Howell, who moved to the Concrete office at the beginning of January. Tyler Clark breaks scoring record. Concrete senior resets the mark at 1,923 after Jan. 27 game against Mount Vernon Christian. Lady Lions set new school record. The Lady Lions basketball team went 7–2 during January, set a new school record for most consecutive wins in a season (seven), and clinched a post-season berth for the second consecutive year. Concert for Chase. On Jan. 22, Chase Dionne received a gift of music, one that should have a very real effect on his health. On that day, two local bluegrass bands took the stage in the Sedro-Woolley High School auditorium and played music for more than two hours. Chase loved it; so did the 125-plus other people who attended, although they didn’t dance quite as much as Chase did. Fundraiser nets $1,600 for food bank. Deep snow prevented some from attending the Bread of Life Food Bank fundraising event Jan. 21, but even with the low-end turnout of 50, almost $1,600 was raised in support of Bread of Life Food Bank in Marblemount. Community garden ramps up for 2012. The Angele Cupples Community Garden in Concrete will enter its second growing season on April 1. The garden offers 22 raised beds that are available for rent, as well as eight additional beds and a field crops area that will be used to grow produce for Concrete Food Bank. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * January 2012 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Skagit Eagle Festival 2012. Concrete Chamber of Commerce presents the 2012 Skagit Eagle Festival beginning Jan. 7 and continuing every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month. Warrant issued for former deputy clerk. A bench warrant for the arrest of former Concrete deputy clerk Paula Mann was issued after Mann failed to appear at her scheduled arraignment Dec. 16 at Skagit County Superior Court. Tavern fight led to gunfire. A fight in a Concrete Town Center tavern led to gunfire on Main St. Dec. 2. PSE gives museum gift worth $25K. Concrete Heritage Museum is the recipient of a Christmas present from Puget Sound Energy that is worth $25,000. During the museum’s board meeting Dec. 8, a PSE representative presented the museum with a package of photos of the 1920s Lower Baker Dam construction project, in hardcopy and digital format. Rock-n-roll marathoner. Cascade Middle School’s Clay Wing adds another 26.2 miles to his list of accomplishments. S-W Chamber hopes to retain flower baskets. In December the City of Sedro-Woolley decided to end its flower basket program—one of many cuts chosen to balance the 2012 budget—saving the city $8,500. The landscaping at Hammer Heritage Square and city entrances also got the axe. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pola Kelley has stepped up to the plate and is encouraging business owners and citizens of Sedro-Woolley to donate toward retaining the hanging baskets and landscaping. Big changes for rangers at Rockport, Rasar state parks. Responding to Washington State’s deep budget cuts and below-expected revenues, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has decided to lay off or downgrade dozens of its 189 rangers from its ranks. Two of those rangers work in eastern Skagit County. Bread of Life Food Bank to host fundraiser. The Bread of Life Food Bank in Marblemount will host a buffet/silent auction fundraiser Sat., Jan. 21, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Marblemount Community Hall. Concrete Center hours scaled back. The doors of Concrete Center—formerly known as Concrete Senior Center—won’t be open for as long each day as they used to be. Effective Jan. 3, the center will be available for use from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Prior to that, the center was open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * DECEMBER 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Christmas 2011 services and events. Get your holiday on. Power to the people. Puget Sound Energy’s new power house project will produce more juice, help to increase salmon runs, and boost Concrete’s economy. Editorial: Proposed cuts could mean disaster for United General. Guest editorial from Greg Reed, CEO/superintendent for United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley. Commentary: Funding rural hospitals requires budget priorities. Rep. Dan Kristiansen weighs in on the proposed budget cuts, and what's not being cut. Concrete wins $1.3 million in grants. Town of Concrete had a good, good, last couple of months, securing three grants—two quite major—that will help beautify and bring greater levels of safety to local roads, while starting the Superior Building adaptive reuse project on the right foot. Here come the eagles. Skagit Eagle Festival slated for every January weekend. Money wins 2011 Teacher of Excellence award. A Concrete Elementary teacher was honored recently with a 2011 Teacher of Excellence Award after being nominated by a former student. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * November 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Back from the brink. The Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #1444 has been in Concrete for 109 years. But last year, the organization’s illustrious tradition almost came to an ignoble end. Stafford named SWAN Woman of the Year. Concrete’s own Valerie Stafford captured the title of Woman of the Year during an Oct. 20 ceremony in Bow. The honor was bestowed by Skagit Women’s Alliance and Network (SWAN) during its 27th annual award banquet. 2012 Budget Workshops. Concrete entered budget season with workshops held one hour prior to the council’s regular meetings on Sept. 12 and 26, and Oct. 11 and 24. Howell, Wilkins retire from CFVD. After serving 25 years each with the Concrete Volunteer Fire Department, firefighters Colin Howell and Alan Wilkins have hung up their bunker gear. Skagit Eagle Festival 2012. The Concrete Chamber of Commerce has begun preparations for the 2012 Skagit Eagle Festival, which will be held every Saturday and Sunday during January 2012. Anyone interested in hosting an event needs to fill out a “Sanctioned Event Application” for the festival by Nov. 9. Darrington's Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, Nancy Snyder walked by the trophy cases at Darrington High School and thought, why don’t we have an athletic hall of fame? Snyder, who taught for 30 years at DHS and is now in her 39th year of coaching there, didn’t let her thought sit idle. Essay: What Hymns Know. In my church, and in many evangelical churches across the nation, we have stopped singing hymns. We chant praise songs instead. We lift our hands, our hearts, our voices with an exuberance unknown in the churches of my childhood. But what have we lost? How to spot domestic violence. Esther Francis Joseph believes that almost everyone knows someone who is being physically abused at home—they just don’t know it. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * October 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Where is Patti Krieger? On Oct. 2, 2010, a woman separated from her friends while hiking on Sauk Mountain. She hasn’t been seen since. Concrete Ghost Walk 2011. The Concrete Ghost Walk takes place on Saturdays, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Concrete Theatre, 45920 Main Street in Concrete. Participants must be 13 years of age or older; all minors must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is $10 per person. House fire heroes. Concrete and Grasmere fire departments responded to a single-family house fire in Concrete the evening of Sept. 23. No lives were lost in the fire, thanks to quick responses from four Concrete young men. First steps toward revitalization. A group of 20 business owners from the Concrete area met Sept. 9 to discuss economic development in Concrete Town Center and the surrounding region. KSVU needs you! Eastern Skagit County’s fledgling radio station, KSVU 90.1 FM, finally has a studio home close to its target audience: the citizens of Lyman, Hamilton, Concrete, Rockport, and Marblemount. Now it needs some original programming. The station’s general manager, Rip Robbins, hopes that east county residents will step forward to provide that and more. Where are they now? RadioDownSound.com. Concrete High School grad Dave Ramsey’s Web site is music to the ears of people with—and without—disabilities. Illabot Creek Rd. environmental assessment comments sought. The environmental assessment (EA) for the Illabot Road Project and two appendices of the EA were available for comment as of Oct. 3. The EA and appendices can be downloaded at www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=29892. Comments are due by the end of October. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * September 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) War of the Worlds. Documentary to revisit radio broadcast that helped put Concrete on the map. Founders' Day 2011. Originally designed to be a family-friendly fundraiser for the Sedro-Woolley Museum, Founders’ Day has come a long way since its debut in 1994. Guest editorial: Sauk-Suiattle Tribe information false. So much misinformation has been presented about the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe of Darrington, Wash., that rumors and announcements of investigations have spread unfortunate and untruthful myths about the nature of this quiet and beautiful small tribe of Indian peoples. Parks and Rec honors Concrete couple. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has announced the recipients of the 2010 Volunteer Recognition Awards for outstanding volunteer service. Among the recipients are Neil and Janet O’Connell of Concrete, who were awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award for service at Rasar State Park near Birdsview. No easy answers, says small town expert. Rural business consultant Becky McCray stood before a small but engaged crowd in Concrete Aug. 30, holding a bag and asking if anyone knew what was inside. She got an answer—the first time anyone had got it right. Back-to-School Parade 2011. The 7th annual Lyman Elementary Back to School parade will hit the streets of Lyman on Wed., Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. The parade celebrates the start of the new school year and is immediately followed by an open house at the school. Record donations for Hamilton Food Bank. Hamilton Community Food Bank had a record-breaking month in August and thanks all our donors, volunteers, and clients we serve. Rockport F. D. garage sale nets almost $3K. Rockport Volunteer Fire Department did it again, with this year’s fundraising garage sale pulling in $2,978 for the department. Proceeds from the three-day event, which ran from Aug. 5–7, will go to the department’s Auxiliary account, which supports building maintenance, supplies, and training. Powwow draws generations. For four days in August, the drums sang and the people danced. From Aug. 4–7, the 2011 Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe Powwow, a “Celebration of Generations,” welcomed hundreds of representatives from tribes all over the U.S. Mohawk and Seneca were there, as were Mohican, Pequot, Nez Perce, Cherokee, Iroquois, and Chilliwack, to name just a few. American Alps Challenge. A day of “fun, learning, and conservation history” is planned for Sat., Sept. 24, at and around Diablo Lake, near the east-county communities of Marblemount and Newhalem. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * August 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Cascade Days 2011. Concrete’s signature summer event is back this month, running Sat. and Sun., Aug. 20–21. The decades-old celebration now known as Cascade Days brings the biggest crowds to town for two days of games, contests, and a parade that fills Main Street almost end to end. Boat launch to close for ramp replacement. From Aug. 23 to Sept. 15, the Faber Ferry North boat launch on the Skagit River five miles east of Concrete will be closed to public access as crews install a new boat ramp. Editorial: Does Concrete need a consultant? It all started in June, when Community Stew principal Eric Archuletta stood before the Concrete Town Council and offered a proposal: Consider bringing him on board as a paid consultant to help the town find its way back to the economic vitality for which it was known during the first half of the 20th century. Small-town specialist to present August 30. East county business owners, chambers of commerce, and town officials are encouraged to attend a presentation by entrepreneur and rural economic development expert Becky McCray in Concrete Aug. 30. Growing pains. Eight years after it opened, Upper Skagit Library needs more book room. Clear Lake Street Fair. The 4th annual Street Fair at Clear Lake will be held Sat., Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Praise in the Pasture. Carrying on the tradition begun by Praisefest in Rockport last year, a similar event is planned in Lyman this month. Praise in the Pasture will be held Sat., Aug. 27, from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m. (or later), in the field behind Lyman Baptist Church, located at 31551 W. Main St., in Lyman. Newhalem 2011 softball tournament. The fine print at the bottom of the scoring board for the 33rd Annual Newhalem-Walberg Jack & Jill Softball Tournament in Newhalem included a few basic rules for play. "Upriver Divas" run the Ragnar. For 30.5 hours, from July 22–23, 12 women from the Concrete area and Mount Vernon ran a 200-mile relay race from Blaine to Langley, at the south end of Whidbey Island. They got about 5 hours of sleep. They got sore. Some of their toenails are not long for this world. But they did it. We probably should stop calling them the weaker sex. Iron Woman. Heidi Smith-Crosson of Concrete learned to swim two years ago. Since that time, she has completed 14 sprint triathlons and four Olympic triathlons. On July 16 she traveled to Chelan, Wash., and finished her first Half Ironman. Jewel on Baker Lake. Redesigned and reopened, Swift Creek Campground stays closer to nature while allowing recreational access. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * July 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Lyman Car & Craft Show hits the streets July 9. This year’s Lyman Car & Craft Show will be held July 9, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Youth Activity Day filled with games, resources. Here comes the fun! This year’s Concrete Youth Activity Day will be held July 21 from 12:30 to 5 p.m., at Silo Park in Concrete. In its fourth year, the free event is aimed at kids and their families. It features a skateboard competition, field games, hands-on activities, live music, food, prizes, a family movie at the Concrete Theatre and an opportunity to connect with resource providers. Fly-In lands in Concrete. It’s back! July 22–24 brings the North Cascades Fly-In—a.k.a., Concrete Fly-In—back to town for three days of planes, food, and fun. Billed as “the greatest little fly-in in the Pacific Northwest,” the event is one of Concrete’s most popular during the summer months. Cement City Street Fair returns July 23. You can be sure it’s summer when there’s dancing in the streets! On Sat., July 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Cement City Street Fair in Concrete will feature everything from a Zumba demonstration and a motorcycle show to poetry reading and blood pressure screenings. Commentary: Outside Envision 2060, peering in. When I was ten years old, our Sunday school teacher asked us what we thought heaven was like. I said I thought it was just like Skagit County, which ended that conversation. In the intervening 68 years I haven’t changed my vision of heaven. Even though Skagit County is not as heavenly as I remember, enough remains to hope for more careful stewardship now and in the future. Two arrested after Birdsview beating. Two male suspects were arrested July 1 in connection with the June 25 fatal beating of a man in his Birdsview home. The victim, Kenneth “Bob” Wayne Stewart, 54, of Birdsview, was attacked late that Saturday night as he stepped outside of his mobile home on Wilde Road in Birdsview, to turn off an outside light. Concrete wins $7K grant. May and June were good months for Town of Concrete. In the former, it gained Certified Local Government status through the State of Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. In the latter, it landed its first grant award through the new program: $7,000 to fund a feasibility study for the Superior Building adaptive reuse project. Imagine Concrete workshop unveils ideas. A follow-up Imagine Concrete workshop June 25 in the Commons room at Concrete High School focused on presenting the results from the April 16 workshop, during which participants revisited the ideas that were generated two years ago, brainstormed new ideas, and added them to each of the five initiatives that grew from the first workshop. Top ideas from each initiative included ... "A rock with a soft center." Family, friends, colleagues, and former students gathered May 7 to bid farewell to one of Concrete’s most beloved teachers. More than a hundred guests poured into the Concrete High School gym to remember and honor Terry Lane, who taught and coached at the school for 31 years, from 1978 to his retirement in 2009. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * June 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Blast from the Past, Loggerodeo back in S-W. Two signature Sedro-Woolley events are on tap for June and July, carrying on the town's tradition of family-friendly fun. Summit Bank fails, Columbia Bank buys. May was a bad month for Burlington-based Summit Bank. Citing inadequate capital and severe loan losses, the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) closed the bank just before 6 p.m. on May 20. Pass opened May 25. Finally! The May 25, noon reopening of the North Cascades Highway marked the second latest since the highway opened 39 years ago. The latest ever was June 14, 1974, and the next latest, surpassed by this year, was in 1976, when it reopened on May 21. Deadline looms for elections filing. Candidates who wish to run for any elected office need to file with Skagit County Elections Department during the week of June 6–10, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Swift Creek Campground to open June 24. Creators of the new Swift Creek Campground will celebrate its completion with a Grand Opening event on June 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend. The U.S. Forest Service, Hoodoo Recreation Services, and Puget Sound Energy collaborated to create the campground, located at the site of the former Baker Lake Resort (Concrete Herald, July 2009). Festivities will include tours of the new facilities, displays, a visit from Smokey Bear, and a short ceremony with a ribbon cutting at noon. New book includes story of Concrete Herald's return. Renowned journalist Judy Muller visited Concrete during Cascade Days in August 2009 to learn more about the return of Concrete Herald and chat up the citizens of eastern Skagit County to find out why they’re willing to support the hometown newspaper. She recalls her visit in her new book, Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories from Small Towns. Carving a memory. These days, Concrete’s Rick Williams doesn’t spend much time at home. He’s been working 12-hour days under a large tent at Pier 57 in Seattle, knife in hand, carving totem poles in memory of his brother, John T. Williams. Imagine Concrete follow-up workshop, June 25. A follow-up Imagine Concrete workshop is planned for June 25 in the Commons room at Concrete High School. The workshop will begin at 9 a.m. and will end “as quickly as possible,” according to organizers. Beazizo, Whitten headed to other schools. At the end of June, Concrete School District’s two principals will move on to new phases in their careers. Planting a future. Clear Lake Elementary School teacher Jan Johnson believes a child’s education shouldn’t end at the walls of her classroom. Zumba donations bolster school. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday night from 7 to 8 p.m., the Lyman Elementary School gym throbs with pulsating music and the Latin American moves of Zumba. Instructor Christina Jepperson offers the class for free, but accepts donations, which she funnels straight to the school. Dust to dust, ashes to ... glass. When Hamilton glass artist Richard Lowrie made his first glass creation that incorporated the cremated remains of his father, he wasn’t necessarily thinking he would market similar creations. Reason to celebrate. What do you do when you complete your cancer treatment? Cathaleen Stewart threw a party. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * May 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Waiting for the pass. East county merchants lose money while snow slows efforts to clear North Cascades Highway. Pass-clearing photos are posted at www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/5598996290/in/set-72157626170712679/ Be aware of bears. We're waking up to spring; so are the bears. Be careful out there. Lyman Elementary girls collect coins for Japan. Brontë Stiles, Tayler Henderson, and Lily Millison took a good idea and ran with it, raising more than $500 for tsunami victims in Japan. Imagine Concrete workshop update. April 16 found a group of east county citizens gathered in the Commons room at Concrete High School, bent on doing what they could to create the community they wanted to live in. Report: Former deputy clerk stole more than $1,700. A report from the Washington state auditor released April 18 states that a former Town of Concrete deputy clerk shifted funds from utility payments in the amount of $1,713.65. KSVU on the air. It’s been a long wait, but KSVU is on the air, at 90.1 on your FM dial. PTO president captures VIPP award. Concrete PTO President Debbie Ross was honored April 28 at Skagit Prevention Council’s Very Important Prevention Person, Project, or Program awards ceremony at the Burlington Public Library. Remembering Ted Meamber. Sedro-Woolley City Council member Ted Meamber died April 20. A long-time community contributor, Meamber will be missed. Sedro-Woolley Mayor Mike Anderson and the City Council recognized and honored Ted Meamber’s lifetime of service during the City Council meeting April 27, which was declared Ted Meamber Day in the city. On April 22, Mayor Anderson released the following memories of Ted. PSE recognized for Baker River project. The National Hydropower Association on April 5 presented Puget Sound Energy one of the hydropower industry’s most prestigious honors—the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Award—in recognition of the utility’s decades-long efforts to improve salmon runs on the Baker River. "Blast Open the Pass" returns. After a hiatus of more than 20 years, the Marblemount Community Club will once again host a celebration to welcome the season. Reviving the late ’70s to mid ’80s tradition of (literally) flinging into spring, east county residents should soon be peeling off those old winter-worn woolies to shake a leg with live music and good food. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * April 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Reliving history. Booms, wounds, and lessons from our past as Civil War reenactment comes to Marblemount April 16–17. EDITORIAL: It's time to re-imagine Concrete. Mark your calendar: On April 16, from 9 a.m. to noon, Concrete citizens will again gather to think about what they want their town to become. A “re-imagining” workshop will be held in the Commons room at Concrete High School. Concrete opens its first community garden. The Angele Cupples Community Garden in Concrete released for rental 22 raised beds April 1. On opening day, 13 of the beds had been rented. Wild Women wave good-bye. The S-W American Legion Hall was a bittersweet place to be March 12, as the Wild Women of Woolley (“and a few good men”) performed their final show to a packed room. Robotics team ranks 5th out of 50. In its third year, the Concrete High School robotics team ranked 5th out of 50 teams at the 20th annual FIRST Robotics Competition in Seattle March 18–19. Burpee Hill Road open. Both lanes of Burpee Hill Road in Concrete reopened March 7 for local traffic. A Skagit County road maintenance crew began work earlier in the day and finished ahead of schedule, at 2:20 p.m. Pass opening delayed till May. Deep snow and avalanche danger forces latest start in 20 years. Birdsview business makes beautiful music. Pacific Rim Tonewoods supplies Sitka spruce soundboards to guitar-makers Taylor, Martin, Gibson. Thoughts on health care, part III. The thing about our current health care system in the United States is it’s never going to change, not while our politicians have comprehensive health care coverage, paid for by the taxpayers. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * March 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Mardi Gras in Concrete. The Concrete Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 4th annual Mardi Gras celebration in Concrete on Sat., March 5. The fun takes place on Main Street and includes a colorful parade, New Orleans-style crayfish boil, children’s activities, demonstrations, and contests. The event is topped off with a nighttime masquerade ball ... Burpee Hill Rd. fix to come. Both lanes of Burpee Hill Road in Concrete reopened March 7 for local traffic. A Skagit County road maintenance crew began work earlier in the day and finished ahead of schedule, at 2:20 p.m. ... Envision Skagit reps get answers. On Feb. 8, Envision Skagit 2060 Citizen Committee members hosted a community meeting in Concrete to gain public input on the future of Skagit County. The meeting was held in the Commons room at Concrete High School, with upwards of 30 people attending ... The house that God (re)built. When Lyman Baptist Church burned Nov. 10, 2007, its congregation was faced with a tough question: Was it time to dissolve their 105-year-old church? After all, the structure that had given their worship a home was completely gone, burned to the ground. All that was left was the church bell and a charred Christmas cactus plant, its pot melted, its roots mushy and blackened ... Soroptimists donate to multiple causes. Soroptimist International of Sedro-Woolley (SISW) presented checks to area food banks, the Sedro-Woolley Museum, and a Skagit County student who will use the monies to fund her education during its semi-monthly meeting at the town’s Community Center on February 22 ... Music man. Singer/songwriter/musician Michael McLaskey of Rockport finds inspiration in the natural world ... Concrete wrestlers back from State. Concrete sent six wrestlers and two alternates to Mat Classic this year, with Dalton Dellinger bringing home a second-place medal and Johnny Evans taking a fourth-place spot ... Community garden beds open for rental. The Angele Cupples Community Garden in Concrete now includes 20 raised beds that are available for rent. Water lines and yard hydrants will be installed in March. Ranging in size from 4x8 feet to 4x12 feet, the beds will be rented beginning April 1 for the following rates: 4x8 @ $25 per year; 4x10 @ $35 per year; 4x12 @ $45 per year ... Thoughts on health care, part II. If you’re not compelled by how much cheaper it might be to have a national health service in this country, then consider the following: As a masters degree student in economics, I learned in my economic development class that the definition of a developed nation is “literacy and health care for all.” ... Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * February 2011 (To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) $17 million bond sought. At first glance, Cascade Middle School in Sedro-Woolley looks like a perfectly serviceable facility. The bell rings, the kids learn, the buses come and take them home. But look beneath the surface at the aging campus and you’ll find retrofitted wiring, water infiltration at the roof and exterior walls, buried pipes that need frequent repair, and a boiler whose days are numbered. Sedro-Woolley School District officials hope to address these and other problems with a $17 million bond request. Ballots went out to Sedro-Woolley citizens Jan. 19, which must be returned or postmarked by Feb. 8. Concrete Theatre marks first year. The Concrete Theatre celebrates its first anniversary this month and owners Valerie Stafford and Fred West are marking the occasion with true grit. The movie, that is. True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges in a re-make of the 1969 film starring John Wayne, is one of the many new movies planned for the theater’s month-long celebration. Clear Lake has a winner! Envision Skagit community meeting planned. On Tue., Feb. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m., Envision Skagit 2060 will hold a community meeting in Concrete to gain public input on the future of Skagit County. The meeting will be held in the Commons room at Concrete High School. Burpee Hill Road closes Concrete renews SCSO contract Lion wrestlers clinch league title Homeless for five days American Combat Flag Presentation Ceremony. Sedro-Woolley Community Troop Support will host an American Combat Flag Presentation Ceremony at 1 p.m. Feb. 17, in the Concrete Elementary School gym. The public is invited to attend. The U.S. flag to be presented was flown in a nighttime combat operation over Afghanistan on Dec. 9, 2010, in honor of SWCTS. It will be presented in thanks and appreciation for the support and encouragement sent in the form of generous care packages to overseas troops during the 2010 Christmas season. Community garden opens bed reservations Thoughts on health care, part I. I’m from England originally, one of those countries that has what many in the U.S. call “socialized medicine.” In England, we never call it socialized medicine; we call it the National Health Service, or NHS. And, since the idea of having anything like the NHS in this country seems to terrify certain Americans, I thought I’d take a moment to describe its better features. Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both! * * * January 2011(To read all these articles and more, subscribe to the print or electronic editions) Eagle Festival returns. The eagles are back, and eastern Skagit County is the best place to see them. After a one-year hiatus, the popular Skagit Eagle Festival will once again welcome visitors to Concrete, Rockport, and Marblemount for four weekends this month. The festival will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from Jan. 8 through 30. American Alps project seeks to expand park boundaries Concrete cracks down Community garden gearing up for spring Rockport State Park after the storm Marblemount woman battles cancer PSE breaks ground on new power house Skagit County Veterans Stand-down North Cascades Highway closed. The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) is closed for the winter season, from milepost 134 near Diablo, to milepost 171 near Early Winters. More info here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/ Want more? Click here to subscribe to the Concrete Herald print or electronic editions--or both!