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Wednesday, December 31, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Year In Review -- It Was A Year That Began With Some Of The Area's Worst-Ever Storms, Then Say The Eastside Continue To Grow And Traffic Continue To Thicken -- 1997'S Eastside Stories

JANUARY

1: The widespread damage in the aftermath of two snowstorms and heavy rain included collapsed roofs, mudslides, flooding and sinkholes.

5: William and Rose Wilson and their two daughters were killed in Bellevue. Trials for Alex Baranyi and David Anderson, acquaintances of one of the daughters, have been scheduled for May.

6: A fire destroyed the Herbfarm restaurant, noted for its gourmet meals. The Fall City restaurant will be rebuilt, along with a bed-and-breakfast inn.

13: A federal judge rejected a Bellevue ordinance restricting teen group homes in residential areas, saying it was based on "stereotyped notions" that youths are more dangerous living in group homes than with their families.

24: While Seattle officials debated their merits, used snowplow blades were snapped up by a city of Bellevue employee for one-tenth the cost of new blades, prompting Seattle Councilman Charlie Chong to say, "They've got lots more sense than our city does."

FEBRUARY

4: Sprint employee Steven Ver Woert, 44, was slain in his Bothell trailer. His ex-wife, Marty Malone, later pleaded guilty to contract murder, and Jonathan Curtis was convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. Curtis is be sentenced Jan. 21. There is no sentencing date yet for Malone.

15: Cracks were found in the pontoons of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, which needs about $33 million in repairs.

19: Bellevue selected King County Sheriff Jim Montgomery as its new police chief.

27: Steven Long of Mercer Island pleaded guilty to the 1993 strangling of his wife, Elvira Long. Now serving a 21-year sentence in prison, Long was ordered in August to pay $14 million to his three children for killing their mother.

MARCH

4: The state released a study warning that average speeds on Interstate 405 would drop to as low as 26 mph within two decades no matter what improvements are made.

6: Brian Schrader, 19, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 1996 drowning of 18-year-old Michael Schuerhoff, who was pushed off a Bothell trestle. Three other teens were acquitted, and a fourth pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance in the case.

13: Kirkland plastic surgeon Gregory Johnson was arrested, accused of anesthetizing and raping a patient and fondling others. He later was convicted of assault and acquitted of indecent liberties. A jury deadlocked on the rape allegation. He begins serving a jail sentence on the assault conviction Jan. 26 and will be retried on the second-degree-rape charge March 2.

14: Former Microsoft President Jon Shirley and his wife, Mary, gave $2 million to help build the new Bellevue Art Museum.

15: Vancouver passed Bellevue in population to become the state's No. 4 city.

20: A Bellevue jury couldn't decide whether Gina Pickell committed a crime by turning her garden hose on three anti-fur activists outside her home. Bellevue city attorneys later decided not to retry the Bon Marche exec's wife.

30: Terry Ellis, Kirkland city manager for 11 1/2 years, resigned.

APRIL

7: Woodinville's first city manager, Joe Meneghini, resigned from the position he had held since the city incorporated in 1993.

15: Kirkland City Council declared a moratorium on building permits for downtown structures more than 35 feet tall. It adopted new height rules and design standards Dec. 18.

21: Michael Chumney, 24, of Redmond was killed when a woman at a Bellevue firing-range accidentally shot him in the neck when her gun recoiled.

26: After more than three decades of planning, protests and legal wrangling, work began on the 1.1 mile Lakemont Boulevard extension in southeast Bellevue.

MAY

1: The state Supreme Court upheld Bellevue's ordinance requiring strip-club dancers to stay at least 4 feet from customers.

15: L. Joseph Scott, founder and conductor of the Bellevue Philharmonic, retired after nearly 30 years at the maestro's podium.

16: A Lake Sammamish couple put up a chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire, across a former rail line earmarked to become public trail. Later, the Land Conservancy appealed a federal ruling ordering that the route be given back to the railroad.

24: Black bears turned up in parking lots and backyards in the Factoria-Coal Creek Park area.

25: Joe Bolger, a 17-year-old Eastlake High School junior, collapsed and died during a backyard boxing-match fund-raiser.

28: Twelve-year-old Alex Kerchner of Kamiakin Junior High in Kirkland won the National Geography Bee and a $25,000 college scholarship.

30: In a crackdown on teen drinking, King County police arrested 50 people at weekend keg parties on the Sammamish Plateau.

JUNE

1: After a nine-year effort, ground was broken for Kirkland's new 400-seat, $5.5 million Performance Center.

6: Seventeen Sammamish High School seniors spray-painted "Class of '97" graffiti in the school parking lot. They later paid for their prank by being banned from graduation ceremonies.

10: State officials released video footage of peregrine falcons - two adults and three fledglings - on their cliffside roost near North Bend in the first documentation of a peregrine brood in the wilds of King County.

11: Issaquah police flying over Lake Sammamish State Park in a helicopter spotted 400 marijuana plants and an intricate system of plots and tunnels in thick blackberry bushes.

16: Bellevue businessman Samuel Lau killed his wife, two sons and then himself in the family's South Bellevue home, apparently desperate over business dealings.

30: A British Columbia court barred the extradition of Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns, charged with first-degree murder for the slaying of Rafay's parents and sister in Bellevue.

JULY

1: Led by Redmond, every Eastside city but one - Medina - grew in population last year, according to figures from the state. 15: Fourteen-year-old Isaac Lee of Redmond was shot in the head as a group of boys were playing with a gun. He died the next day. His 13-year-old friend was found guilty in juvenile court of first-degree manslaughter. Sentencing is Jan. 14.

26: Issaquah hairdresser Mary Johnsen was killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking along a road on the Sammamish Plateau. Susan West, who admitted to driving drunk, was sentenced to nine years in prison for vehicular homicide.

28: A West Seattle couple won a $175,000 settlement for an abuse-of-power claim three years after being pulled over for speeding and then taken by then-Trooper Lane Jackstadt against their will to a Kirkland anti-abortion counseling center.

AUGUST

1: City Councilman Ernie Zumwalt was among those arrested in a major drug sweep in Duvall. Zumwalt's trial on cocaine possession and sale charges began this week.

14: Redmond Town Center, a dramatic open-air mall integrated with downtown Redmond, opened. "We didn't want to create an island in the middle of a cornfield," said City Councilwoman Nancy McCormick.

20: Gary Dean Ackley was charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the slaying of Stephanie Dittrick of Redmond and with second-degree murder in the death of Arlene Jensen of Kingsgate. Dittrick was last seen at her mother's home July 5. Her body was found Aug. 10 in a remote campground near Skykomish. Jensen disappeared from her condominium in the Kingsgate area May 26. Her body was found June 21 in thick brush near the Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. Jensen was the grandmother of Ackley's children. Dittrick was a childhood friend. The trial date is Feb. 17.

22: After 140 years of waiting, tribal status was restored to the Snoqualmie Indians, once one of the most powerful tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

SEPTEMBER

6: Aubrey Kouchalakos, 4, and her father, David Kouchalakos, 52, were found dead in their locked Bellevue home in what police said was a murder-suicide.

11: Bill and Melinda Gates moved into their $60 million waterfront estate.

16: Kenmore voters approved incorporation as King County's 14th-largest city.

23: Blue-green algae, a slick of bacteria potentially harmful to children and small animals, prompted state officials to post warnings along Lake Sammamish.

23: Members of the Issaquah High School football team stole a Native-American story pole from Beaver Lake Park, then burned it two nights later at an off-campus pep rally. They pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. Their school collected food for the Snoqualmie Tribe as an apology.

NOVEMBER

4: Connie Marshall beat Heidi Benz-Merritt for Bellevue City Council seat, and Fuzzy Fletcher and Ava Frisinger won mayoral elections in Snoqualmie and Issaquah, respectively.

4: Adopting a slower approach to his proposed Port Quendall development, Paul Allen extended his options to buy two polluted industrial properties on Lake Washington, but not the 20-acre Barbee Mill.

11: Bellevue was close to signing a $6.3 million deal to buy the Meydenbauer Bay Marina, long-sought for a major park on the waterfront.

19: In a fiscal year in which Microsoft hired 2,500 more employees, the software manufacturer looked for room to expand, possibly into Group Health Cooperative's underused Eastside hospital or the Issaquah Highlands development.

DECEMBER

1: Bellevue City Council approved a $65 million expansion of the downtown convention center, part of a massive private development next door.

9: Redmond city employees Sherry Ducken and Trudy Sullivan were killed and Phil Cohen was injured in a pedestrian-car accident near City Hall.

16: With a building boom overwhelming the city's ability to cope, the Redmond City Council put the brakes on new permit applications for commercial development in 1998. But with more than 4 million square feet of construction already in the pipeline, construction won't come to a screeching halt.

18: After a crime spree of eight holdups from Seattle to the Eastside, a Federal Way youth was fatally shot by a shop owner after trying to hold up a Woodinville 7-Eleven store.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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