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Wednesday, September 5, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A Last-Minute Drive To Rename Fed. Way

FEDERAL WAY

For nearly a half-century now, Ilene Marckx has been a critic of the name adopted by her hometown.

``I've always thought the name of Federal Way was a weak, meaningless name,'' grumbles Marckx. ``It's just nothing about nothing.''

At age 79, she is turning her disdain into action.

She is among a band of residents circulating a last-minute petition to change the city's name to Evergreen.

Name-change advocates must submit a petition with at least 778 valid signatures to City Hall by 5 p.m. tomorrow to place the issue before voters in the Nov. 6 general election.

Yesterday, Ed Stickel, the organizer of the drive, said he was hopeful enough signatures would be gathered by late today. Stickel and others began a last-ditch effort last week to qualify the measure.

Stickel said it was unclear how many signatures had been gathered, because the approximately two dozen people circulating petitions had not reported back yet.

About 100 people signed the petition at SeaTac Mall over the Labor Day weekend, a number that disappointed petitioners.

Stickel said name-change advocates had hoped to land three times as much support. Instead, many mall patrons were too young to vote, unregistered or did not live in the city, he said.

Petitioners have had more success ringing doorbells, he said.

Meanwhile, Marckx has been relying on the telephone to urge friends to back the petition.

But she said she has found only a handful of supporters.

``Their main objection is that it's just not an important issue,'' she said of the those unwilling to sign.

People dislike the name but not enough to bother to change it, she speculated.

Even if the current effort fails, she vows to continue backing any drive to dump Federal Way's name.

``I have been for a name change since we first came here'' back in 1945, Marckx said.

Her disdain is in contrast to her husband's fondness for a name first used 50 years ago when Federal Way High School was built with money raised by selling federal land next to Highway 99.

Stickel said if the latest campaign falls short, people who find the city's name ugly or easily confused with the federal government will wait another year for a vote.

A petition has already been approved for the November 1991 municipal ballot that questions whether to change Federal Way's name, but that measure, submitted under rules that subsequently were changed for renaming a city, does not specify a new name for Federal Way.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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