Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of the Oso landslide. This tragic event has had a profound effect on so many of us, with thoughts that will remain for a lifetime. The Oso landslide also revealed amazing stories of heroism, compassion and perseverance in our communities and beyond. I witnessed many of these acts firsthand and it was truly inspiring. I talk about some of these experiences in my recent video update.
Medal of Valor | Senate Bill 5035
The collective response of our communities was the inspiration for Senate Bill 5035. The measure, prime sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson and signed into law March 2, allows the Medal of Valor to be awarded to a group of persons who saved, or attempted to save, the life of another at the risk of serious injury to themselves. Prior to this legislation, the Medal of Valor could only be awarded to individuals. This article covered the bill signing.
Recipients of the Medal of Valor are selected by a nominating committee. No one has received the award since 2007, when four people — including 39th District residents Timothy Bourasaw and Rick Bowers — were recognized for their valor. You can learn about their stories in this article.
The Medal of Valor was awarded for the first time in 2006. That year, Jim Swett, also from the 39th District, received the award. You can learn more about his act of courage here. This means seven out of the 12 people who have received the Medal of Valor are from the 39th District.
The Medal of Valor cannot be awarded to police officers or firefighters, or others whose actions are a result of their public duties as a first responder. More information about the Medal of Valor, in addition to the Medal of Merit, can be found at this Secretary of State Web page.
Joint session of the Legislature
There was a joint session of the Legislature for the Medal of Valor and Medal of Merit on Wednesday. The communities of Arlington, Darrington, Oso and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe were awarded individual Medal of Valor certificates for their outstanding acts of valor and personal sacrifice, at risk of injury and death, in assisting with rescue, recovery and relief efforts of the Oso landslide. Accepting the award on behalf of their communities were: Brantly Stupey (Arlington); Quinn Nations (Darrington); Willy Harper (Oso); and Kevin Lenon (Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe). All four embody the spirit and inspiration of their communities in the aftermath of the Oso landslide.
Pictured: Sen. Kirk Pearson, Rep. Elizabeth Scott and Rep. Dan Kristiansen with the four Medal of Valor recipients and the Color Guard for the ceremony.
The presentation of the flags was conducted by Darrington Fire District 24. The invocation was provided by Reverend Joel Johnson, Chaplain, Oso Fire Department, and pastor at Assembly of God Church in Arlington.
At the ceremony, the Medal of Merit was awarded to Gretchen Schodde and Billy Frank Jr. (deceased). These individuals are not connected to the Oso landslide, but represent amazing stories. You can learn more about them, in addition to the details of both awards, in this event program.
Events this weekend
On Sunday at 9:00 a.m., Snohomish County will host an event to honor and remember the 43 people who lost their lives in the Oso landslide. SR 530 will be closed just west of Darrington and east of Oso, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. You can learn more about this event and others that will be held in the area this weekend here.
Telephone town hall on April 2
I will be hosting a telephone town hall with Rep. Elizabeth Scott on Thursday, April 2, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. To join in, simply call (360) 350-6256. Once connected, you can ask us questions or just listen in. We hope you can join us that evening.
In your service,