April 18, 2024 1:56 pm

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A look back at 2023: Lifestyle stories

To continue with the Lynnwood Times’ Year in Review series, the Lynnwood Times is highlighting the top 2023 lifestyle stories. From LGBTQ+ issues to breaking barriers to dog shows to protests to volunteerism, a lot of history was made in several Snohomish County cities in 2023.

Local students walk out in protest to show support for Palestine

Around 50 Mountlake Terrace High School students walked out of classes in support of Palestine in November. Students began the walkout at 9 a.m. and marched down 44th Avenue, before returning around 11 a.m.

During the march, students chanted phrases like “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” while holding signs like “Ceasefire,” “Let Gaza live,” and “Your Zionism is genocide.” 

School officials sent out an email to inform parents of the protest, however, students were undeterred. Those who participated in the walkout were marked for an unexcused absence by the school, but faced no further discipline. 

Kamiak students walk out for gun control

Kamiak HIgh School students joined thousands statewide in a walkout to protest gun violence in April. The walkout was organized at Kamiak by the student organization Kamiak Demands Action and took place at noon and lasted around 30 minutes.

The protest was part of a larger nationwide movement due to the sharp increase in school shootings, with some CDC data showing firearms as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents

Sadly, only 5 months after the walkout, 15-year-old Kamiak student Bryan Tamya was murdered in a drive-by shooting.

Son of Hamas founder stands with Israel at Snohomish event amidst statewide protests

Mosab Hassan Yousef, author and son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, spoke in Snohomish in November, condemning the attacks made by Hamas.

“Hamas is a terrorist group by all standards,” Yousef said. “In fact, terrorist is an understatement, because what they did on October 7 was barbaric… Hamas initiated the war, that was the cause, what we are witnessing right now is the effect of that war.”

Yousef, once a member of Hamas, defected to Israel in 1997. He worked for the Israel Security Agency, also known as Shabak or Shin Bet, for 10 years before seeking political asylum in the United States in 2007.

Seattle Seahawks help at Lynnwood Food Bank amidst volunteer shortage

Four former Seattle Seahawks volunteered at the Lynnwood Food Bank as part of the Back to Action campaign back in September. 

The Back to Action campaign works with organizations like Northwest Harvest, Safeway, the Washington Food Coalition, Vault89 Strategies, the Seattle Seahawks, and King5 to raise awareness and increase volunteering at food banks across Washington.

The four players, Red Bryant, Clint Gresham, Paul McQuistan, and Brandon Mebane, were part of the 2013 Seahawks roster that won Super Bowl 48 against the Denver Broncos and spent the day learning about the facility and dividing up portions of oats and rice.

Community discussion about fentanyl with author Sam Quinones

The Mayors and Business Leaders for Public Safety coalition held a free presentation and Q&A about the fentanyl crisis featuring author and journalist Sam Quinones in September.

The presentation given by Quinones was based on research for his award-winning books “The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth” and “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.” He has 35 years of experience in the field, chronicling drug epidemics for almost a decade.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney also interviewed Quinones back in March for an episode of the department’s podcast. 

Settlement of $1.75 million in Lynnwood jail suicide lawsuit

The City of Lynnwood and the family of Tirhas Tesfatsion reached a settlement agreement of $1.75 million back in September. Tesfatsion died of suicide in the Lynnwood jail on July 13, 2021 and sparked protests and calls for answers.

The settlement was not an admission of liability by the City of Lynnwood or of the five staff members listed in the wrongful death lawsuit. The city also agreed to pay “reasonable attorney fees and costs” and must provide annual training regarding suicide prevention, mental health, and other related topics.

Tesfatsion’s death in police custody was the first in-custody death at the Lynnwood jail since it opened in 1994.

Lynnwood actor Jon Meggison wins Actor of the Year at Soul Café Awards ceremony

The Soul Café Awards named Lynnwood-based actor Jon Meggison as Actor of the Year for 2023 during their awards show at the Rainier Arts and Culture Center in September. 

Meggison started his career in modeling in 2019 before appearing in films like “A Haunting in Ravenwood” and “Conjuring: The Beyond.”  

Meggison’s next appearance will be in “The Legend of Johnny Jones,” featuring actors like Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, Jake Busey, and Kevin Sorbo.

Soul Café Awards, which originated in the Pacific Northwest, is an annual event that recognizes and empowers artists.

Mukilteo celebrates a pawsitively successful dog show at Lighthouse Park

The Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce hosted its first Great Mukilteo Dog Show in July. The event took place at Lighthouse Park and featured over 50 dogs of various breeds and ages.

Best in show went to a 12-year-old standard poodle named Rango the Wonder Dog. 

The show had 15 different categories: Best Smile, Best Bark, Cutest Puppy, Most Slobbery, Best Senior, Best Jump, Fluffiest, Best Look-alike, Best Mutt, Best trick, Best ears, Best haircut, Best Legs, Best Wiggles, and Best Outfit.

With the success of the first show, the city intends to make the dog show an annual event. 

Everett calls for Arlington to support its LGBTQIA+ community / Arlington Pride

Tensions rose leading up to the 2nd annual Arlington Pride event back in July, leading the Everett City Council to unanimously pass a resolution in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and the event. 

The resolution read, in part, “We join in support of the Arlington LGBTQIA+ community” and the Everett City Council cals on “the City of Arlington to adequately enforce proactive safety measures to protect all who attend the Arlington Pride events, and to safeguard attendees from hate crimes and intimidation…”

A week later, the pride event, dubbed Camp Pride, had several hundred in attendance, with an increased police presence and a small group of protestors.

Marilyn Quincy: The deep roots of a Snohomish County legend

Marilyn Quincy was awarded the Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee’s Legacy Award, named the Marilyn Quincy Award, back in April during their Red and White Banquet.

Quincy’s family settled here in the 1880s before Washington was a state, so she and her family have had a large impact on the history of Snohomish County. William P. Stewart Highway in Everett is named after her great grandfather, a Black Civil War veteran of the Union Army. 

Quincy herself worked at the Washington State Employment Security Department for over 36 years and was recognized by the state legislature with House Resolution 4649. She also served for 15 years as a commissioner for the Housing Authority of Snohomish County.

Judge rules female-only Lynnwood spa must allow pre-op transwomen

The decision from a Western Washington District Court judge to order Olympus Spa in Lynnwood to allow pre-op transgender women into their female-only facilities sparked a rally and counterprotest in June.

The court oversaw the case after Des Moines resident Haven Wilvich filed a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Wilvich claimed that after being invited to attend a gathering at Olympus Spa, she called ahead to confirm if she’d be allowed in and was told she would not be welcome.

Olympus Spa, sometimes referred to as the “naked lady spa,” offers a traditional Korean nude spa experience and has operated for 20 years with this female-only rule.

The Hand Up Project reeling after revelations of fraud against founder

In March, The Hand Up Project removed its founder, Robert Smiley, after internal investigations alleged Smith used the non-profit’s reputation to pocketed thousands of dollars in contributions. Board members claim Smiley would routinely solicit donations on social media while alluding the money would go to the non-profit.

An individual claiming to be Smiley commented on our article vehemently denying the allegations.

Based in Lynnwood, The Hand Up Project assisted individuals experiencing homelessness with substance abuse as a contributing factor. It does, however, appear that The Hand Up Project has been replaced with Advocates Recovery Services. The Lynnwood Times plans on following up on this.

More than 2,600 Afghan and Ukrainian refugees now call Snohomish County home

Back in February, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced that the county, in partnership with local nonprofits, helped resettle and support over 2,600 Afghan and Ukrainian refugees since 2021.

Snohomish County Human Services contracts with Volunteers of America Western Washington and Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest to provide resettlement services, such as: finding temporary and long-term housing, employment services, transportation, rent assistance, and school enrollment.

At the time of the announcement, at least 425 families were able to secure long-term housing, over 1,000 individuals achieved employment goals, and over 2,100 individuals received clothing and household goods.

Lynnwood issues Certificate of Occupancy for opioid treatment center

While the certificate of occupancy was issued on December 19, 2022, the ensuing controversy over Acadia Healthcare’s opioid treatment center dominated the Lynnwood City Council meetings in January. 

While most council members and residents who spoke were in favor of the facility, many objected to the facility’s proximity — 443 feet — to the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club and the lack of transparency behind the announcement. 

Lynnwood later updated their guidelines on what permit applications require the council to be notified in an attempt to prevent a similar facility slipping through the cracks again.

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