Clay Owen, of Birch Bay, walks down Hewitt Avenue with his flag before a rally for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Aug. 30, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Clay Owen, of Birch Bay, walks down Hewitt Avenue with his flag before a rally for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Aug. 30, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

The Herald’s top stories of 2016: Challenges, tragedy, triumph

The year 2016 will be remembered in Snohomish County for breaking events and gradual change.

The man who would become president stopped by, an aerospace giant turned 100, fires raged, families grieved mass shootings, voters approved billions for transit, and a resurrection of sorts continued along a gritty stretch of Everett’s north Broadway.

Here’s a look at local stories that made the news and likely will continue to in 2017:

Trump stumps in Everett

Donald Trump shook up the political world in 2016.

He did the same to the city of Everett with an August rally that drew 9,000 people to Xfinity Arena. Hundreds more gathered outside, some to get in and others to protest.

The leader of Washington’s Republican Party predicted the visit would trigger a wave of GOP successes in Snohomish County. It didn’t. Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the county. Democrats U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Congressman Rick Larsen and Gov. Jay Inslee won re-election here, too.

Oso: $60 million settlement

After two years of pretrial battles and more than $3 million spent on experts, the state of Washington and a timber company agreed to settle wrongful death claims connected to the Oso mudslide.

The $60 million in settlements came in October on the eve of what was expected to be a months-long civil trial probing the March 2014 disaster.

The deals with the state and Grandy Lake Forest Associates timber company included apologies to the families of 43 people killed when a wall of mud and trees swept across the North Fork Stillaguamish River, destroying dozens of homes.

The settlements followed a ruling by King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff to sanction state attorneys over a secret plan that saw their scientific and engineering experts systematically destroy emails in which they discussed what role, if any, people played in setting the stage for the disaster.

The work included the first-ever investigative drilling on the hill, and the state’s experts claimed that much of what people believed about why the hill fell simply wasn’t supported by science. Plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged that the experts were tailoring their results to help the state. The email destruction strengthened their case. Rogoff later announced about $1.2 million in sanctions and court costs against the state and its lawyers.

The mudslide litigation is not over. Attorneys for the plaintiffs are appealing other rulings by Rogoff that last year led to Snohomish County being dismissed as a defendant in the case.

Boeing and Fortive: Old and new

The Boeing Co. continued making history in its 100th year.

It has invested more than $1 billion in assembling the 777X and making its giant wings in Everett. Boeing opened its Composite Wing Center in May, putting the area on the forefront of composite material manufacturing in aerospace.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes got a new chief executive. Former GM Aerospace executive Kevin McAllister takes over for Ray Conner. McAllister came up as an engineer and is highly regarded in the industry.

Boeing also created a new business unit: Boeing Global Services. It joins Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense, Space and Security, which moved its headquarters to the Washington, D.C.-area. The new division underscores Boeing’s focus on making money from services and not just sales.

Orders for new airplanes lagged in 2016 as airlines caught their breath after an historic spending spree in recent years.

Another Fortune 500 company set up headquarters in Everett. Fortive owns about two dozen industry-leading businesses, including the Fluke Corp, that collectively did $6.2 billion worth of business in 2015. Those businesses employ more than 20,000 people.

Mass shootings

We know what it is like for a community to endure mass shootings. Three times over.

The year began with Raymond Fryberg, of Tulalip, heading to federal prison for illegally acquiring firearms. The weapons included the handgun Fryberg’s son used in 2014 to shoot five friends and himself in a Marysville Pilchuck High School cafeteria. All were freshmen. The sentencing seemed to close a chapter.

Then, early on July 30, gunfire rang out in an upscale Mukilteo neighborhood. Allen Ivanov, then 19, brought a military-style rifle to a house party attended by former Kamiak High School classmates. He hunted down and fatally shot his former girlfriend, Anna Bui, as well as Jacob Long and Jordan Ebner, all 19. He then emptied a 30-round magazine trying to murder others at the party, including Will Kramer, who was shot in the back.

“I’m selfish. That’s why I did this,” Ivanov wrote in a letter that was recovered within hours of the shootings.

Less than six months later, the former University of Washington Bothell student pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated murder and attempted murder. He faces a mandatory life sentence.

On Sept. 23, Arcan Cetin of Oak Harbor carried a rifle into the Cascade Mall in Burlington. He killed five people, including four with ties here. The dead included Belinda Galde, 64, of Arlington. The longtime probation counselor was fatally shot along with her mom, Beatrice Dotson, 95. Boeing worker Wilton Charles “Chuck” Eagan, 61, of Lake Stevens, was at the mall with his wife when the bullets found him. Shayla Martin, 52, was at her job in the cosmetics department in Macy’s when the gunman opened fire. The Mount Vernon woman was the sister of Karen Van Horn, a longtime employee of The Daily Herald.

Cetin, 20, has a history of violence and mental illness. He is being held for investigation of multiple counts of murder.

Up in flames

Fires in Everett and Bothell caused more than $35 million in damage.

Someone was supposed to be on fire watch June 4 at a warehouse full of junk at 101 E Marine View Drive in Everett.

The warehouse burned, causing an estimated $10 million in damage. A cause of the fire could not be determined.

The site, owned by a local trust, has a history of code enforcement problems.

A four-alarm fire in downtown Bothell on July 22 destroyed a six-story apartment building under construction, along with a number of businesses. Initial damage estimates were pegged at $25 million. Federal investigators could not determine a cause. Renovation of downtown continues with a $4.7 million state grant.

Billions to transit

Voters in November committed to the largest investment in Sound Transit’s history by approving a $54 billion expansion plan known as ST3.

The alluring long-term dividend is to have Link light rail trains running between Everett and Seattle every six minutes by 2036.

Until then, it’ll mean more options for bus service as new rail stations come on line every few years. Increases in sales tax, property tax and car tab fees will help pay for the improvements.

The measure garnered 51 percent in Snohomish County where the past 20 years of tax collections had resulted in a system of buses and heavy rail that can be stalled by a hard rain.

ST3 opponents warned county voters that the project will not deliver the promised benefits. But the potential it might bring less-congested routes of travel for themselves and their descendants appealed to the majority.

Renaissance on Broadway

Slowly, the once-vibrant hotels and motels along north Broadway slipped into disrepair.

The opening of I-5 between Everett and Marysville in 1969 spelled their doom, siphoning off tourists who once spent good money in town. Clientele changed. Addicts and thieves more frequently took up lodging along north Broadway while prostitution gained a foothold.

Over time, many of the inns were shuttered, unable to compete with newer and bigger hotels closer to the freeway.

Today, new businesses are sprouting up in their place, but nothing compares in scope and significance to the expansion of Everett Community College and the emergence of Washington State University North Puget Sound and University Center, a hub for regional schools that WSU will manage.

Living with the past

It took 100 years for a permanent, public marker acknowledging the Everett Massacre.

The Bayside and Port Gardner neighborhood associations had the memorial installed near the waterfront in September.

A century earlier, a bitter strike among local mill workers attracted the attention of the Industrial Workers of the World. Known as Wobblies, they were deemed anarchists and agitators by the Everett establishment.

A series of violent confrontations led to the Nov. 5, 1916, showdown on the Everett dock. Two lawmen and at least five Wobblies were killed. Six others disappeared in Port Gardner.

What happened that day was seldom discussed publicly. Even now, it can stir up strong feelings.

“It was such an untouchable subject for so many years,” said Everett historian Jack O’Donnell.

Recovering together

Nearly three years ago, the world watched as the Stillaguamish Valley dug out from the Oso mudslide.

Today, the area is earning national attention for recovery efforts.

Local leaders and volunteers drafted a plan focused not only on dealing with the immediate impacts of a disaster, but also on confronting long-term challenges. They wanted to add jobs, expand education opportunities, ease transportation snarls and make the area more welcoming.

Arlington and Darrington entered the recovery plan as a team in a national competition. The America’s Best Communities contest started in 2014 with entrants from 27 states. Arlington-Darrington was named one of eight finalists. In April, those communities will be judged on how well they’ve carried out their plans. The top prize is $3 million.

Homes for the homeless

Drug abuse and mental illness continued to create problems throughout the county. Efforts to help increasingly focused on the “housing first” strategy. The idea is that people are more likely to seek change if they have a place to stay, particularly if that place has an on-site manager 24 hours a day and social services available in the building.

Sebastian Place, which is geared toward homeless veterans, opened over the summer in Lynnwood.

The Everett City Council in November voted in favor of putting a 70-unit apartment project for homeless people in the largely residential Pinehurst neighborhood. The decision followed months of pushback. Expect more fireworks as the project moves toward environmental review.

Meanwhile, special teams of Everett police and Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies continue to partner with social workers to encourage people to get help with the problems that are contributing to their homelessness.

Voters in August narrowly rejected a tax increase that was billed as a way to pay for more outreach, particularly combating addiction.

Health officials since 2015 have said the county is facing an “epidemic” of opioid abuse, with nearly one in five of the state’s heroin fatalities happening here.

Trials of an aging courthouse

To retrofit or build anew, the debate over the future of the Snohomish County Courthouse has taken many turns.

At one time, a majority of the County Council signed off on a $162 million plan for an eight-story courthouse across the street and down the block from the existing one.

Those plans were put on hold during the summer of 2015, a week before contractors were supposed to break ground. Dave Somers, who moved into the executive’s office after beating John Lovick in the 2015 election, earlier this year recommended returning to a remodeling plan. He said the county’s finances were too shaky to support the new construction.

The County Council had been expecting to vote on a plan in December. Specialists from the county’s architect have spent months examining the nearly 50-year-old building and likely need a little longer. They’re trying to determine what can be accomplished within the $62 million budget — and what would be left off the to-do list. A decision is expected early this year.

Reporters Rikki King, Jerry Cornfield, Kari Bray, Noah Haglund, Dan Catchpole, Eric Stevick and Scott North contributed to this story.

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