Bellevue resident Reily Finnelly is a pilot in the Air Force Reserve. Finnelly was born into a family of pilots. Photo Courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Bellevue resident Reily Finnelly is a pilot in the Air Force Reserve. Finnelly was born into a family of pilots. Photo Courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Bellevue Reporter’s top 10 most-viewed web stories of 2019

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2020 1:30am
  • News

1. Amazon confirms move to Bellevue

Amazon confirmed rumors and numerous reports that the industry giant is planning a big move to Bellevue. GeekWire broke the news after Dave Clark, the senior vice president in charge of Amazon’s worldwide operations team, sent out an email on April 3 announcing the move. The Seattle-based team will relocate its thousands of employees to Bellevue by 2023. “We opened our first office building in Bellevue in 2017,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “It’s a city with great amenities, a high-quality of life for our employees, and fantastic talent – and it’s recognized for its business-friendly environment. We look forward to continue growing our presence in Bellevue and bringing more jobs to the city.”

2. Bellevue High School student honored as winner of worldwide illustrating contest

Alice Wang, a sophomore at Bellevue High School, has been drawing for as long as she can remember. Wang remembers drawing as an infant and grew up surrounded by stacks of notebooks filled with her own scribbles. To this day, Wang continues to immerse herself in the world of art. The 16-year-old recently entered a contest she found online, submitted three pieces from her portfolio, and waited for results. Wang entered an international competition, Illustrators of the Future, and to her surprise was chosen as a winner. She was recognized at the 35th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards in Hollywood on April 5.

3. Dixie’s BBQ closes after 25 years

Dixie’s BBQ, owned by Dixie Porter and the late Gene Porter, closed its doors as of Oct. 26. The restaurant was located at 11520 Northrup Way in Bellevue and it had been serving up racks of ribs and barbecue for the last 25 years. What some people might not know about the restaurant is that people originally drove to the Bellevue destination for auto repairs or chainsaw needs. In fact, signage of “Porter’s Automotive” still hangs outside. When Porter’s Automotive shared a shop with Goodsell Chainsaw in the 1970s, Dixie Porter said her husband would take a lunch break and barbecue in the back of the auto-shop. The aroma of roasting meat wafting into the air attracted other workers. Although Gene (who died on Feb. 28, 2010) was a skilled mechanic, the car economy changed by the 1990s. The market was flooded with foreign cars. Dixie said many auto mechanics had to buy expensive, specialized tools and seek out further training to work on the complicated foreign or high-tech cars that drove through auto mechanics’ bay doors. The change in the industry is what made Gene decide to get out of the auto repair business and into the food industry. In 1994, Dixie and Gene Porter opened Dixie’s BBQ. The restaurant quickly gained notoriety for its barbecue food and hot sauce, coined “The Man.”

4. Bellevue restaurants reopen after assumed norovirus outbreak

The King County Public Health Department investigated a norovirus-like illness with 31 confirmed cases, all associated with Purple Café and Wine Bar, Lot No. 3 and Cast Iron Studios in Bellevue. The department reported it first learned of the outbreak on April 11 when about 26 customers from three separate meal parties showed norovirus-like symptoms after eating at the three restaurants between April 6 and 10. The three restaurants are all owned by the Heavy Restaurant Group and investigators found at least five employees had experienced “symptoms consistent with norovirus” since April 7 and may have worked while contagious. “As you can imagine we took this recent incident extremely seriously and immediately contacted the health department to offer our full cooperation after we were alerted to a potential problem,” said David Yusen, spokesperson for the Heavy Restaurant Group.

5. Man arrested for ‘racially-fueled’ malicious harassment on Bellevue bus

A Kent man was arrested in Bellevue on charges of malicious harassment after he allegedly threatened to physically harm a man and yelled multiple race-fueled comments. On March 8, just shortly before 9 p.m., Bellevue police responded to the downtown transit center on Northeast 6th Street, following a report of a disturbance on a bus. When officers arrived, they located the victim, whom police described as being “shaky” and “visibly scared.” The victim said suspect Todd Ramey, 49, sitting two seats in front of him on the bus, allegedly called him a “stupid Hispanic” and said he was going to kill him, after the victim asked to be left alone, according to the police report. The victim also heard Ramey, a white man, state that the victim “hates white men because you’re Mexican.” The yelling went on for about 20 minutes and the victim attempted to get the driver’s attention, but was unsuccessful. As the victim walked to leave the bus, Ramey challenged to fight him. The threats were racially fueled, the victim believed, due to the man yelling at no one but him and a black female also on the bus, even though others were also commuting on the bus.

6. Bellevue pushes forward small cells despite FCC limitations

The city of Bellevue, in collaboration with the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and several wireless service providers, has paved the way for small cell and 5G technology within the city. The city council approved a master licensing agreement for small cell implementation on Jan. 22, despite a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order approved in September 2018 limiting the city’s control over small cell design approval and annual rent. Small cells are smaller cell phone antennas, designed to fit on utility poles or light posts and fill in the gaps left between the larger cell towers. They currently support 4G or LTE networks and will eventually support 5G networks as the technology develops.

7. Destined to fly, Bellevue resident becomes Air Force pilot

As a child, the Bellevue native Reily Finnelly, 27, had no idea she would be flying planes all over the world with the military. Finnelly comes from a long line of pilots. Her father’s side of the family has been heavily involved in aviation. Two of her uncles fly for commercial airlines, just like her grandfather did before them. Although she was destined to become a pilot herself, Finnelly chose a different route, and it wasn’t until she was in college that she decided to follow in her family’s footsteps. While finishing her degree at Washington State University, Finnelly first pursued and received her civilian pilot license. She later joined the Air Force Reserve. Finnelly now has the opportunity to fly all over the world with the military to places like Germany, Japan, Hawaii and South Korea. Flying for the military, Finnelly has operated the C-17 aircraft, a four-engine aircraft that moves cargo and people wherever they need to go in the world. Finnelly said cargo can be anything from medical equipment for evacuation patients to vehicles, and even people airdropping from the aircraft.

8. Memorial honors late Sammamish High School student

A student-organized memorial was held March 28 to honor the life of Sammamish High School student Amaya Storseth. Storseth was a senior varsity basketball player and a member of the school’s Black Student Union. She died by suicide on March 13. It is believed she took her life due to being bullied by other students. Former teachers and friends spoke of their memories of her. Rachel Pinter, Storseth’s former English teacher, said Storseth taught her a lot about weathering life’s storms. “She taught me a lot about teaching… She was generous, considerate, loyal and someone who enacted change,” Pinter said. “This loss is our bond. It’s the storm that tethers us. Please don’t let this go unacknowledged, and let it affect you in an authentic way.”

9. Police chief: Increased Crossroads violent acts may be gang related

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett made one thing clear during a town hall meeting on the topic of crime in the Crossroads neighborhood: Over the last several months there has been an uptick in violent behavior in the area. The department has seen discharging firearms, assaults, intimidation, people terrorizing each other. Since Jan. 22, more than 25 shots were fired in the general Crossroads area, police said in April. The body of an 18-year-old male was found slumped over at Goldsmith Neighborhood Park on April 3. He had multiple close-up gunshot wounds and was found after neighbors reported sounds of gunshots shortly after 12:30 a.m. And Mylett believes the uptick in crime the neighborhood is seeing is gang affiliated — primarily being committed by youths. “The group responsible for this, I can’t come straight out and say it is solely 100 percent solidly affiliated with a gang, but there are strong links to it,” Mylett said. “And I’m getting really, really close to claiming that.” He vocalized that message to the crowd at a Stevenson Elementary School gathering on April 10. It was one town hall meeting and more are planned to follow, providing more details and resources for helping local youth.

10. Why is Bellevue taking so long to finish its shelter?

A decade after Bellevue agreed to meaningfully address homelessness, it is scheduled to finally site a permanent location for a men’s shelter, leading some advocates to question why it took the city so long to act. In 2012, the major Eastside cities of Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond agreed to address homelessness. Two years later, they fleshed out a plan where Bellevue would host a men’s shelter, Kirkland would create a women and families shelter, and Redmond would house youths. Redmond’s Friends of Youth shelter came online in 2012, and Kirkland has plans to open its shelter in 2020. However, a lengthy battle with neighbors near Bellevue’s Factoria location has derailed the project and forced back its possible opening date to 2022. Congregations for the Homeless (CFH) already runs an emergency shelter in Lincoln Square, which operates six months out of the year. However, the facility closes each spring and does not have needed infrastructure, such as a sprinkler system, to allow it to stay open year-round. The organization is raising funds to renovate the building, and once it is renovated, the city can issue an emergency permit allowing year-round operations for three years. This could buy CFH enough time to set up a permanent location for the shelter on surplus land currently owned by King County at 13620 SE Eastgate Way.

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