Fairgrounds center named for county official

MONROE — A new building at the Snohomish County-run Evergreen State Fairgrounds will be getting a familiar name.

The County Council voted Monday to rechristen the Evergreen Events Center the Gary D. Weikel Events Center, in honor of a former deputy county executive who had a big hand in shaping the county parks system. That included major projects such as Willis Tucker Community Park outside Mill Creek and the Centennial Trail.

The recognition caught Weikel by surprise; Councilwoman Stephanie Wright had invited him to the fairgrounds Monday on the pretext of taking a tour.

When Weikel arrived, he saw his family there, including his wife, county Auditor Carolyn Weikel, two children and two grandchildren. The Weikels listened by phone as the council, in council chambers in Everett, voted unanimously to approve the name change.

Weikel called the tribute humbling.

“None of this, of course, gets done by one person,” he said. “It’s a lot of people working together to make things happen.”

The fairgrounds events center, with more than 33,000 square feet, first opened in 2011.

Weikel, 68, is an Everett native, a 1963 Everett High School graduate who was born at what’s now the Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s Pacific campus.

His 20-year career at the county began in 1987, under the county’s first executive, Willis Tucker. He served as deputy executive under Bob Drewel and briefly under Aaron Reardon.

For nearly 30 years, Weikel has been a fixture at the annual Evergreen State Fair, where he has served as the county’s honorary ambassador.

“He’s been a great mentor and a friend,” said Council Chairman Brian Sullivan, who sponsored the motion to rename the building.

Councilman Dave Gossett said that while he and Weikel had worked on numerous issues during 20-plus years, “the thing he loves the most is parks and the fairgrounds, so I think this is very appropriate.”

“Indeed,” added Councilman John Koster.

Weikel finished his county career with a stint as acting parks director, before retiring in 2007. At the time, Drewel called Weikel, “the best invisible friend this county ever had.”

A meeting room at the county’s Willis Tucker park also bears his name.

Weikel wasn’t the only one surprised by Monday’s announcement. So was Reardon’s office, which oversees the parks system.

Though he once worked at the highest levels of Reardon’s administration, Weikel was one of several public officials during the past year who encouraged the Washington State Patrol and other agencies to investigate his former boss.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

A close friendship is lost to fire

An 88-year-old Smokey Point mobile home resident died despite a valiant effort by neighbors.

Jensen Webster sorts through food stuffs at the Sultan High School in Sultan on March 14, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Sultan school children take charge to help their peers

The Sky Valley Youth Coalition has installed pantries at schools so kids can take food home.

Everett woman found dead identified as 21-year-old

There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body of Brianna Leigh Nyer.

Ivar’s in Mukilteo closes for disinfection after illnesses

The Snohomish Health District said it’s not certain what caused some patrons to get sick.

State will spend millions on task forces and reports

Here are eight undertakings that will incite possible action by lawmakers in the future.

Everett man admits deadly slashing of 2 Maltby-area women

John Dimitri Kuljis Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

State: Secret deal endangers Marysville Strawberry Festival

The “bizarre” agreement promises a former leader up to $175,000 if the group fails to meet his demands.

Destroyer USS Ralph Johnson to arrive in Everett on April 27

The brand-new ship will join five other guided-missile destroyers that call Naval Station Everett home.

Again, students here join nationwide protests over shootings

Friday’s marches and walkouts marked the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine. (With video)

Most Read