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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Snohomish Responds to the Post-Brett Karch Characterization of Their Town 

Remember how I said that there could be more to this story than meets the eye? Well, the mayor of Snohomish and the superintendent of schools have responded to the negative picture of the citizens of Snohomish.

DRAFT 12/21/06
Op-Ed Submission to the Post-Intelligencer
By Randy Hamlin, Mayor of Snohomish and Dr. William Mester, Superintendent
of Schools for the Snohomish School District

We read with great interest the article in the Seattle P-I about the threats made
against Brett Karch, a student and JROTC member whose leg was severely
injured when a ceremonial cannon exploded near him during a Snohomish High
School football game. As a result of an ongoing investigation, criminal charges
have been forwarded to their prosecutor by the City of Everett against one of the
two individuals who apparently placed threats against Brett while he was
hospitalized in Everett.

Like many of the P-I’s readers, we are both saddened and angry about this
incident. It appears that Brett Karch has been victimized by one or two
individuals who displayed an inhuman lack of compassion and a wildly misplaced
sense of values. We were shocked to read that an injured high school student
would be threatened—while still in his hospital bed—by one or more adults more
concerned about maintaining the tradition of this cannon’s use during football
games than they are about his well-being and recovery.

The P-I story and its blog site resulted in generating nearly 400 emails sent to the
City of Snohomish. Many of these email messages understandably expressed
outrage at the idea of a student being threatened by adults who wanted to ensure
the continuance of this football game tradition. We were dismayed, however, in
seeing that many of these emails also asserted that such behavior by these
individuals may somehow represent the values of our community.

We would encourage the P-I’s readers to not judge an entire community by the
actions of a very few. Snohomish is a town of 9,000 people and the school
district area that feeds our single high school contains 30,000 people. In fact, the
Snohomish community and school district have reached out to support Brett
Karch and his family.

In the two weeks of hospital confinement Brett received regular visits from
teachers, school and district administrators and students representing JROTC
and student body. Several hundred get well cards were sent to Brett from the
high school students; the football team sent Brett an autographed football to
express their support. In November, JROTC students went to Brett’s house to
bring his recliner from home to the school so he could attend the JROTC annual
ball. He was also warmly greeted by his high school peers at the annual
Veterans’ Day Assembly, where he was honored for his service to JROTC and
Snohomish High School. Additionally, significant assistance to the Karch family
has been coordinated through a local community church. Unfortunately, it
appears one or two people have tarnished this reputation by their behavior.

Most people of our community were unaware of what was happening because
the City of Everett police have investigated quietly as is the normal course in
such criminal matters. We anticipate now that information is being released, our
community will continue to reach out to Brett and his family during his recovery.

We encourage Brett Karch and his family not to be intimidated by anyone who
would expect anything less than honesty in this matter. We also urge swift and
just outcomes for any individuals found guilty of making threats against this
young man. These are the values that we believe truly represent the vast
majority of our community.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

I've commented extensively on my blog at http://www.3lakeswa.org/blog/
Thanks for the sympathy towards us poor Snohomians who had nothing to do with this.
The Mayor and School Superintendant have not actually "responded" to the media coverage in general to the situation. The response is on a city website, and further more there are contradictory/conflicting statements being made.

If the Mayor or School Superintendant truly are in the "know" of what is going on, why have they not gone to the Seattle Post Intelligencer and made a statement? The Hospital states that Karch had very few visitors, while the "response" says that Karch has had many visitors.

I would call not having any of your friends show up to a Birthday pary ample evidence that there is a "Community" issue going on, and that it is not just a "few" people who are making the threats.

I am not judging the community as a whole, I am howver viewing the lacklust response by the city and school district with suspicion.

I am a Seattle Native. I have friends and family living in Snohomish, and they are reacting the same way.
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