By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
Here are some of the news stories we covered in 2020.
The City of Mill Creek is moving forward this year to improve service delivery by increasing staffing levels in a number of departments. Hiring has begun in earnest to fill some new positions and to replace a number of employees who have left the city.
Interim City Clerk Naomi Fay gave the oath of office to Councilmembers Vince Cavaleri, Mark Bond, and Mike Todd at the January 7th city council meeting. Councilmember Pam Pruitt was elected mayor and Councilmember Brian Holtzclaw was elected mayor pro tem.
The Snohomish County Council unanimously elected Councilmember Nate Nehring as Chair and Councilmember Stephanie Wright as Vice Chair at their January 6th administrative session. This is the first time in recent history that a minority party member has been elected chair.
The Washington State Department of Health confirmed a case of 2019 novel coronavirus in a Snohomish County resident on Tuesday, January 21st. The risk to the general public is low and health officials are now monitoring 50 people who came into close personal contact to the infected individual.
Mill Creek City Manager Michael Ciaravino announced the hiring of Grace Lockett as Interim Chief of Staff at the January 28th city council meeting.
On Thursday, February 6th, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced Terry Ryan will be the county's new Aerospace Economic Development Director. He will resign from the Snohomish County Council to focus on retaining and increasing the county's aerospace industry.
Acting Mill Creek Police Chief Scott Eastman gave the Citizen Patrol Oath of Honor to two community volunteers at the January 28th, city council meeting. Tracy Simplot and Jennifer Hoaglan received limited police commissions allowing them to write tickets.
Having served as Mill Creek’s certified tracking and drug-detection dog since 2017, K9 Officer Bagira was forced to retire from active duty in December 2019. The dog's retirement was forced by his increasing behavioral issues.
In an effort to inform the city council how the Mill Creek Police Department uses tax dollars effectively, Acting Police Chief Scott Eastman came to the February 25th city council meeting armed with facts and figures.
Out of an abundance of caution over the spread of COVID-19, Snohomish County and the City of Everett declared a simultaneous State of Emergency on Wednesday, March 4th, making it easier to continue to work together as partners to keep the community safe.
In response to the novel coronavirus, beginning on Friday, March 6th, visitors to Mill Creek City Halls North and South are required to sanitize their hands before entering the buildings.
Over 1,000 computers were checked out by students who will be learning at home during the school closure mandated by the state.
City of Mill Creek closes City Hall to public
In an effort to comply with state and county emergency declarations regarding COVID-19 from the Washington state and Snohomish County governments, the City of Mill Creek will restrict public access to City Hall effective Wednesday, March 18th.
In consultation with other Snohomish County leaders, Executive Dave Somers announced the restriction of public access to select county facilities, primarily those in the Administration Buildings on the county campus in Everett, effective Tuesday, March 17th.
Effective Friday, March 20th, all Community Transit buses will be fare free and passengers will board and exit through rear doors only. This measure was taken after four drivers tested positive for COVID-19.
In order to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the City of Mill Creek closed all city parks, picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields and other active recreation locations including restrooms on Monday afternoon, March 23rd.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced the closure of Snohomish County park gates and bathrooms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic effective Monday morning, March 23rd.
City Manager Michael Ciaravino very recently hired Jeff Balentine as the city's new finance director.
The Washington State Department of Health recommend people wear cloth face coverings when they are in public settings where they cannot maintain six feet of distance from others.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and County Council Chair Nate Nehring announced a series of budget steps they are considering in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a hiring freeze, eliminating any discretionary raises, canceling travel and training, and other fiscal management tools.
At their April 28th meeting the Mill Creek City Council learned that the city’s recent purchase of land meant to be used for park use is not eligible to receive a Snohomish County Conservation Futures grant.
In accordance with Governor Inslee's recent guidelines, Snohomish County Parks will re-open for many but not all day-use activities on Tuesday, May 5th, with a number of restrictions.
The Mill Creek Town Center will lose another core business this summer. On Tuesday, May 19th, the company announced that they are seeking bankruptcy court permission to begin an “orderly wind-down” of their business by closing all stores and selling all inventory and assets.
Congratulations to Officer Nathan Lerma and Police Service Dog Hondo on their first capture as a team on Tuesday night, May 19th.
Snohomish County Execute Dave Somers announced the Snohomish County Council and the Snohomish Health District Board approved his effort to move the county into Phase 2.
On Friday, June 12th, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers signed a proclamation announcing his proposed actions to fight racism. These proposed actions follow the murder of George Floyd, widespread protests for justice, and are in response to continuing institutional and systemic racism in Snohomish County.
All City of Mill Creek parks and amenities, such as playground equipment, basketball courts, ball fields, restrooms, and the skate park and are now open for public use.
An unfair labor practices complaint has been filed against the City of Mill Creek on behalf of a number of employees who were to be laid off the week of July 6th.
Local government agencies and community groups have been forced to cancel many summer and fall events to avoid further spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Mill Creek Festival is one of the latest events to be canceled.
On Wednesday, July 29th, Superintendent Ian Saltzman announced 100% of fall classes will be held remotely because of Snohomish County’s COVID-19 case resurgence.
Detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit arrested a 62 year-old Bothell man for the April 1993 murder of 15 year-old Melissa Lee.
On Wednesday, August 12th, City Manager Michael Ciaravino sent out a press release in response to a number of public inquiries regarding the recent layoffs and the employees union unfair labor practices complaints.
On Friday, August 14th, the Washington State Department of Health released the latest statewide situation report, which reflects the flattening of new COVID-19 case counts in most counties in western and eastern Washington.
The Mill Creek Police Foundation presented a $15,000 check to Bothell Police Department representatives on August 10th, bringing the total raised for Officer Jonathan Shoop’s family to $35,000.
There’s no question that the City of Mill Creek has lost decades of institutional knowledge in the past year or so with the departures of long term employees. Finance Director Jeff Balentine’s office was empty the week of August 17th.
Pam Pruitt has resigned her position as Mayor and Councilmember of the City of Mill Creek effective on Monday, August 24th.
Interim Community Development and Public Works Director Matthew Feeley resigned from his position on Friday evening, August 29th.
By unanimous vote, the Mill Creek City Council elected Councilmember Brian Holtzclaw as mayor and Councilmember Stephanie Vignal as mayor pro tem at their September 1st regular meeting.
Those who attended the September 1st virtual Mill Creek City Council meeting were pleasantly surprised to see Finance Director Jeff Balentine had returned to his job full time.
On Wednesday, September 16th, Mike Todd resigned his Mill Creek City Council position to accept a job as the city's Director of Public Works and Development Services and Community Development.
The Mill Creek City Council approved a development agreement with Community Transit for a new rapid transit bus station on 164th Street SE at their September 22nd meeting.
Multiple fire agencies were dispatched to a report of a commercial structure fire in Maltby on Thursday, September 24th. Crews quickly extinguished the fire on the roof, keeping the fire from spreading to the building's interior.
It took four hours and four rounds of final ballots, but in the end Benjamin Briles was selected to take Pam Pruitt’s position on the Mill Creek City Council in a September 29th special meeting.
Interim Police Chief Scott Eastman was laid off recently because City Manager Michael Ciaravino chose someone else to head up Mill Creek’s Police Department.
On Thursday, October 15th, the City of Mill Creek kicked off a grant program for small businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mill Creek City Council selected Adam Morgan to take Mike Todd’s council position on Tuesday, October 20th.
Developmental Kindergarten, Developmental Pre-K, Life Skills, and Strive students will return to classrooms on November 16th; but other Everett Public Schools students will remain in full remote learning until January 11th.
Edmonds College awarded $1.4 million in federal CARES Act funding to students who are experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardships and are in need of emergency assistance.
Governor Inslee's new Covid-19 restrictions went into effect on November 16th and are scheduled to remain in place until December 14th.
Small businesses physically located within Mill Creek city limits that were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and service organizations providing COVID-19 relief programs in Mill Creek will receive grants totaling $670,000 by Friday, November 20th.
City Manager Michael Ciaravino announced Jeffery Young as his choice to be Mill Creek’s new police chief.
No one was injured in a Thanksgiving evening house fire east of Mill Creek.
A 37-year-old Lake Stevens man was arrested after shooting at Snohomish County Sheriff's Deputies during a high-speed chase through Mill Creek on Saturday evening, November 28th.
In December the City of Mill Creek plans to distribute an additional $117,192 of CARES Act funding to small businesses physically located within city limits.
On Tuesday morning, December 1st, a vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Lynnwood. The suspect vehicle fled the scene, but was later located on 164th Street in Mill Creek.
On Tuesday, December 1st, bomb squad experts transported several volatile explosives from a residence near Silver Lake to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Cathcart Operations Center where they were rendered safe.
City Manager Michael Ciaravino introduced new Finance Director Laurel Gimzo at the December 8th virtual city council meeting. She took the place of Jeff Balentine who resigned his position for the second time.