By Jim Haley Special to The Herald
Naval Station Everett brings millions of dollars of payroll to Snohomish County, but it has a lot of other benefits that add to the fabric of this community.
Just ask Snohomish County Executive John Lovick, a former U.S. Coast Guard sailor, law officer and legislator.
The base and its centerpiece USS Nimitz aircraft carrier bring diversity to this area. Folks from all sorts of backgrounds and races are in the military services, and thus in our community.
It’s part of the reason why there’s a fondness for the Navy.
“That love affair has been here for a long time. That love affair is going to continue with this office of county executive,” Lovick said. “We love these guys. We love the military. We want them. Frankly, we need them in this community.”
Lovick said the Navy and the county share common goals.
“Good healthy communities, good safe schools, roads not being clogged with traffic and jobs with benefits,” he said. “The Navy is interested in the same things.”
Unlike the other major naval stations that have large naval housing complexes behind guarded gates, a lot of the Naval Station Everett families live in the community.
“We see these people in the grocery store, we see them in church. We see them on the soccer fields. They are our friends and our neighbors, so it’s just a great homecoming,” Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said of the arrival of the carrier USS Nimitz and its contingent of 3,000 crew.
Stephanson said the community has adopted the sailors. “Naval Station Everett and the sailors have been integrated into this community in such a seamless way, in all aspects a very positive way,” Stephanson said. “They just fit very well.”
Lake Stevens, Marysville and Arlington have concentrations of naval housing for families, and others are spread throughout the county.
The naval station “doesn’t have a sense of separateness about it that you might have in larger cities around the country,” U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, said. “Here the Navy personnel are a part of our community. Their kids are playing football, baseball, basketball. The kids are involved in the schools, the drama clubs. The parents are involved as well.”
The Navy has found a home here, “and Snohomish County has made a place for the Navy, as well,” Larsen said. “Again, I think that sets us apart from other naval homeports around the country.”
There’s a sense, spread by word of mouth, of many sailors choosing, if they can, to be assigned to ships at Naval Station Everett or to the base.
“Naval Station Everett is the sailor’s choice because it is the most modern naval base that we have,” Larsen added. “It’s located in Snohomish County with a high standard of living,” but one that’s less pricey than San Diego or Hawaii.
And it’s a place where Navy families want to stay.