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

Agencies launch coordinated response to an opioid ‘emergency’

Health workers, law enforcement agencies and emergency managers are responding as they might to a disaster.

Jordan Evers distributes coffee Sunday afternoon during the annual community meal at Carl Gipson Senior Center in Everett on November 19, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Firefighters serve Thanksgiving meals at Carl Gipson center

The next two feasts at the senior center in Everett will be Thanksgiving Day and Dec. 3.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

Darrington School Board race might come down to a coin flip

With a one-vote difference, a single ballot in Skagit County remains to be counted.

As rain continues, Snohomish River still rising in places

Monroe and Snohomish likely won’t see the end of flood stage until Friday.

Is the state Transportation Commission irrelevant?

A report says the citizen panel often is ignored, and its duties overlap with the Transportation Department.

Most Read