Remember 2013? Look at the Star's Year in Review for 2013



• The Nez Perce Longhouse burned in a fire in Nespelem the day after Christmas. An electrical malfunction was the initial cause reported. The longhouse had been a part of the community since 1975 when it was built as part of a bicentennial project.

• Grand Coulee’s Council settled pay issues with Police Chief Mel Hunt by buying his 787 compensatory hours for $42,922.50. 

• The public was invited to view the final plans for the new K-12 school complex. 

• Elmer City was divided about what to do regarding Coulee Dam’s proposed wastewater treatment plant, to which they are a major contributor.

• Dan Foster was named new superintendent of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

• A local man wanted for a November robbery of the Smoke Shop in Coulee Dam was arrested over the weekend in Spokane, where he was allegedly involved in a gang-related double shooting.

• Rayne Rabe, 27, of Coulee Dam started a local roller derby team. Rayne and her husband Josh had recently moved here from California where she participated in derby under the name “Chick Norris, Derby Raynger.”

• Greg Wilder, 69, of Coulee Dam announced that he planned to file for election to the office of mayor in May. Wilder had been at odds with Mayor Quincy Snow and the town administration for the past two years over the proposed waste water treatment plant.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

• Electric City council continued to look into allowing chickens within city limits. Community members from both sides of the fence continued raising concerns and supporting the issue at council meetings.


• Two men were arrested for first-degree burglary. Brenchley’s shop sustained $6,200 in damages and both men were taken to jail.

• Electric City’s arsenic treatment plant went into operation. The goal was to bring the arsenic level in drinking water down to seven parts per billion.

• A 300-pound safe was stolen from the Banks Lake Golf Course. It contained about $2,800 that the port district intended for fertilizer for the golf course.

• George Kohout and the Ridge Riders took home the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year and Achiever of the Year awards in a ceremony and dinner.

• Coulee Medical Center made a major accounting adjustment and took a $1.9 million loss for November 2012.

• Poachers killed five whitetail deer near Rosenberg Ranch. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating.

• Orrin Gross, senior at Lake Roosevelt High School, won the state wrestling championship at 145 pounds in the 2B tournament.

• USBR continued tree removal in the area by cutting down a 100-year-old cottonwood on the shores of Banks Lake.

• A public disclosure request for documented overtime hours by police officer Sean Cook was discontinued at his own request.

• Foss Maritime Company of Rainer, Ore., started construction on the structure at Crescent Bay that would soon house sections of the new Keller ferry.


• The battle over the wastewater treatment plant in Coulee Dam continued with a rehash of the proposal and citizen confrontations. Value Engineering was the topic of choice and the council would look into it.

• Sequestration became the law of the land as of March 1. The Grand Coulee Project was uncertain of the effect it would have on area employees.

• An explosion at the Right Power House shut down the the plant. No one was injured but work would be delayed for weeks until the cleanup was complete.

• Two bids came in for the construction of the new school, both from Spokane. The bids were over $22 million.

• A family in Electric City lost everything in a house fire. The Whybark home in North Shore Acres was a complete loss.

• Two local women proposing a day care on Main Street were stopped by Grand Coulee zoning laws. They said they would keep looking for a location because the service is needed here.

• The Colville Business Council voted to spend $40 million on a new administration building.


• Federal cuts would affect local tourism. Shorter operating hours, fewer tours and a lack of summer employees would be the major factors for the Grand Coulee Dam.

• The new laser light show’s debut was pushed back again, its new date for release in mid-July.

• Disc golf was proposed by Josh Rabe for North Dam Park. Rabe proposed a nine-hole course and each hole would cost an estimated $370 apiece.

• A thief struck again at the golf course, this time taking $763 worth of gas.

• A popular local teacher was arrested and was facing deportation. Spanish teacher Guillermo Guzman faced charges of forgery and identity theft after being arrested by Coulee Dam Police and Border Patrol agents. A student and community support campaign release of the teacher immediately started. Guzman pleaded not guilty in his arraignment hearing.

• The Coulee Dam treatment plant saga continued this week after a grant from IHS was denied and the council decided to go forward with a smaller plant plan.

• Lake Roosevelt teacher Ralph Rise received a statewide award as an example for educators across the state. He received the award from the Pacific Science Center for his science education advocacy.


• Bank of America announced that it would be shutting the doors of the Coulee Dam branch Aug. 23.

• Lake Roosevelt Principal Brad Wilson announced he would be taking a position as principal at Chelan School District and leaving here after 11 years of teaching, coaching, and being athletic director and principal. 

• Elmer City advised the town of Coulee Dam that their agreement on the wastewater treatment plant, in effect since the mid-1970s, was over. Elmer City was considering building their own treatment plant. 

• Charlie Knight’s senior project to raise awareness of domestic violence became a reality when 164 walkers joined her in “Walk for a Fight.”

• Three local students received the Gates full-ride scholarship. Johnny McCragie, Kendall Piccolo and Charlie Knight were three of the 1,000 students country wide that received the honor.

• Once again the golf course safe was burgled. This time about $300 was taken from the safe itself and about $200 from other various locations. Thieves entered the same way they had before and the investigation continued.

• A runaway truck smashed into Jack’s 4-Corners Service Station causing major structural damage. No one was hurt but the station would have extensive repairs to make.

• Dozens of local candidates filed for election. Numerous races for council seats and mayoral seats would be contested. Quincy Snow would be challenged by Greg Wilder and Shawn Derrick. Mary Jo Carey would be challenged by Gail Morin.

• Coulee Dam voted for a smaller sewer treatment plant. The vote did not make anyone happy. Citizens and council members all had objections to the project.


• Fire gutted the Electric City home of Mike Lowry. Fire departments from all cities and towns responded.

• Gordon Proctor retired after 40 years as an educator.

• Lake Roosevelt Class of 2013 graduated. School Board Director Ted Piccolo handed out 36 diplomas to the smallest class in school history.

• Electric City officials released a statement saying not to worry about the colored water coming from some residence pipes. The colored water was an effect of chlorine on material accumulated in the pipes.

• Elmer City’s town council approved an agreement for Colville Tribal Police to handle law enforcement issues in town.

• Three nights of music were planned for the 4th of July festival, including The Cruizers, Kayla Newland, Raggs Gustaffe, Kathy Boyd & Phoenix Rising, and Elvis impersonator Steve Sogura.


• The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the entire area over the 4th of July week due to extreme heat and the possibility of fires due to fireworks and outdoor activities.

• Two fires separated only by a couple of miles scrambled local volunteer firefighters to save the Highway Tire building and surrounding properties. Two separate blazes on two different days came within yards of homes and buildings but no losses were reported, except for the 200-plus acres charred.

• The new laser light show was delayed till next year, according to Lynne Brougher, public affairs officer for Bureau of Reclamation.

• The Grand Coulee Derby Dames took to the tennis courts at North Dam Park in the first Red, White and Bruise scrimmage. Some 200 people showed up to support their favorite skaters and learn about roller derby.

• The new ferry was launched. The San Poil took to the water after its final fitting and testing.

• The Electric City arsenic plant was shut down due to brown water in the pipes. The Department of Health advised the city to shut down the plant until the new system could be tuned.

• Two local men were arrested in separate incidents of theft. One was arrested in the theft of a Quincy farmer’s truck; another was arrested for a break-in at Galaxy Smoke Shop.

• The A-frame building that had housed the headquarters for the Colville Tribes for decades burned down. Some 40 employees and several departments were displaced due to the fire. It is a complete loss.

• The new school site construction continued with the addition of a big wall. Workers were placing 1,200-pound blocks on the 1,100-foot long retaining wall at the new K-12 school.


• Challenger Greg Wilder received 67 percent of the vote in the primary election for the Coulee Dam mayoral race.

• Galaxy Smoke shop suffered another break-in. When officers arrived, they found cigarettes and other items scattered across the floor. About $80 in cash and $500 in surveillance equipment was taken.

• The Regional Board of Mayors is faced emergency repairs to the transfer station. A single bid of $18,109.97 was made for the repairs.

• Coulee Dam’s wastewater treatment plant was stalled again due to the state rejecting the funding for a smaller plant. It was decided to wait until after the November elections to move forward in any other direction.

• A bear made many visits to the residents of Coulee Dam. Fish and Wildlife officers were called in to handle the animal.

• The chamber of commerce visited city councils and pitched an aggressive plan to support tourism in the area. Manager Peggy Nevsimal proposed a $62,000 promotion schedule to all the cities in an attempt to bolster tourism and the economy.

• The complaints of brown water and severe chlorine smell in Electric City water kept coming in to city hall. The system was recently started back up after repairs were made but the problem persisted. Officials were unsure how long the problem would last.

• A big storm hit the area, knocking down trees and power lines throughout. One road was closed for two hours while crews worked to clear the street. Two big trees at Mason City Park, which had been part of the area for decades, were blown over.

• The Coulee Pioneer Museum found a home in the old feed store building in Electric City. The museum will continue to search for grants to help preserve area history.


• A local young man died in an accident in Kansas. Dakotah Holt, a 2011 graduate of Lake Roosevelt, died when the power pole he was working on fell. His death was felt throughout the community and more than 300 attended his services.

• The governing body of the Colville Tribes amended its law to recognize same sex marriages. “This change is keeping with the tribal values, and in recognizing the special place that the Two-Spirited Peoples hold within the tribal community,” stated a press release.

• The City of Grand Coulee approved its latest contract for law enforcement at Grand Coulee Dam at a special meeting. Coulee Dam Police also had bid to extend their contract but did not get accepted.

• Triathletes hit the water, pavement and pedals again during the 10th and final annual Grand Columbian Triathlon.

• Grand Coulee’s mayor and council received a tongue-lashing again from local resident Becky Billups, who complained about the enforcement of ordinances in her neighborhood, specifically the upkeep of property and putting drug offenders away. 

• Two local businesses complained to the Grand Coulee City Council about a mechanic working out of his home, without a business license and in an area not zoned for business.

• The Center Lodge Motel was robbed of $2,000-plus, taken from an overnight drop box. The cash register was also taken. The person was caught on camera but police were unable to recognize the suspect.

• Firefighters responded to the Senior Manor where a sprinkler head had been activated in an apartment. The fire seemed to have started on the stove and there was smoke and fire damage on the cupboards above it. No injuries were reported.


• Coulee Dam was losing officers and Grand Coulee gaining them due to their contract status with Grand Coulee Dam. Coulee Dam was negotiating with USBR officials to get their contract extended.

• Tribal Police were investigating the death of an inmate who hung himself in his jail cell. Aaron J. Swan was found dead, hanging in his cell by a bed sheet, on Sept. 24.

• Liability issues put a dampener on a program proposed by a local horse rescue group for the Grand Coulee Dam School District. The district’s insurance carrier said liability would be a huge factor in getting the program running.

• Nespelem eighth graders received new MacBook Airs purchased by the school district as a push to move their students toward the 21st century in the education process. The district bought a dozen laptops for $16,738.08.

• Grand Coulee banned marijuana for six months, declaring a moratorium on any type of marijuana business in the city limits.

• A handful of citizens from Faith Community Church held a “Blessing of the Steel” at the new Grand Coulee Dam School building currently under construction.

• The feud between Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam police departments continued with a Coulee Dam police lock-out of Grand Coulee officers. Contracts with the USBR to provide law enforcement were extended for Grand Coulee but not for Coulee Dam, causing officers to be let go at Coulee Dam and hired at Grand Coulee. Coulee Dam continues to try and get a contract negotiated with USBR. The regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation stepped in to try and solve the issue.

• A school bus was rear-ended in Elmer City, only minor injuries were reported.

• Local area candidates responded to questions from The Star. Most candidates responded and got their views on issues made public.

• A dam explosion got the attention of Coulee Dam residents, who reported hearing and feeling a loud boom. No one was hurt in the incident, when a shock wave came as a 230-kilovolt line went to ground through water spilling from an overflow outlet.

• Mayoral challenger Greg Wilder filed a complaint against incumbent Quincy Snow with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, contending that Snow used his office and town resources to support his own campaign.


• A crowd at Coulee Medical Center had a lot to say to the board. Upset about the removal of a blood screening program, the high turnover of employees and recent cutbacks, community members took the floor and made sure the hospital commission heard their complaints. The commission voted to form a compliance committee. A few weeks later after a closed session, Commissioner Geary Oliver moved for a vote of no confidence in CEO Scott Graham. That died for lack of a second, and a new committee was formed to look in to a vote of no confidence by the doctors and employee complaints.

• Greg Wilder was elected mayor of Coulee Dam and Gail Morin mayor of Elmer City.

• Tribal police were investigating the death of a 29-year-old woman who was found dead in Nespelem. Maria Victoria Sanchez’s body was found on the old School Loop Road not far from where she once lived.

• The mechanic that had been at the root of controversy regarding him working out of his home is scheduled to appear in court soon. He was served a citation by Grand Coulee Police telling him to cease working vehicles from his home garage in violation of city ordinances. 

• Daniel McCulloch, 54, was flown to Harborview Medical Center after an explosion at Grand Coulee Dam that disabled the pump-generator plant. McCulloch reportedly burned over much of his body, was listed in serious condition.

• Jaci Gross was named teacher of the month by Eastern Washington University and KHQ-TV. The fifth-grade teacher at Grand Coulee Dam Middle School was nominated by her former student, Taylor Holman.

• An eventual contract for law enforcement services between the USBR and local agencies would probably look like this - Grand Coulee four officers, Coulee Dam two officers and two officers from Colville Tribal Police. Discussion continues but no date has been set for a final decision.


• Tension between doctors and administration at Coulee Medical Center remained high. Health care providers vowed to quit if the hospital’s chief executive officer did not leave. Commissioners hope to sit down with CEO Graham to talk soon.

• A small group of parents formed a group to address bullying in the school district. At a meeting and online, many testimonies of recent bullying in the district were told and became a hot-button item for the area.

• A dry cement truck wrecked at the bottom of the Coulee Dam hill, stopping traffic for hours. The driver stated that his brakes failed and he diverted the truck to the side of the road to avoid hitting cars up ahead. The driver was taken to CMC by ambulance where he was treated and released.


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