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Of monkeys, Chick-fil-A, elections and Seahawks in Santa Clara: A look at 2016 as it will unfold

Washington state auditor Troy Kelley leaves the Federal Courthouse in Tacoma after being charged with 10 counts of criminal activity on Thursday, Apr. 16, 2015. Kelley kept stolen money, lied under oath and evaded taxes, are some of the charges.
Washington state auditor Troy Kelley leaves the Federal Courthouse in Tacoma after being charged with 10 counts of criminal activity on Thursday, Apr. 16, 2015. Kelley kept stolen money, lied under oath and evaded taxes, are some of the charges. Staff photographer

If you haven’t yet said goodbye to 2015, you’re too late.

It’s 2016, which is a leap year, a presidential election year and, according to the United Nations, the “Year of Pulses,” with a pulse being a bean, lentil, dry pea or other such legume.

In China, it’s also the Year of the Monkey.

Here’s a look at what else the New Year might offer.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Look for continued construction on Interstate 5 through Tacoma; and within the city you can expect to see the nascent results of its first vote in 47 years to spend a bundle filling potholes and otherwise improving roadbeds.

Sound Transit will ask voters to approve its next round of long-term plans with a November ballot measure. Improvements include a light-rail connection from Tacoma to Federal Way and Seattle, extension of the Tacoma line to Tacoma Community College and expanded Sounder commuter service. The proposals should become clear with a presentation in March.

The Tacoma Dome and Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center will upgrade Wi-Fi to accommodate all guests, while the convention center main exhibition hall switches to LED lighting.

POLITICS

The Legislature will begin its 60-day session Jan. 11, and you can expect continued discussion on measures to persuade the Washington State Supreme Court to lift daily contempt fines of $100,000 related to the McCleary school-funding case. Like any good football team facing fourth down and long, solons might punt the issue to the 105-day session in 2017.

Having gained a majority in the state Senate in 2014, the GOP now is one seat away from forcing a tie in the House, and two seats away from a majority. In November, the party is likely to offer Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant as the candidate to take down Gov. Jay Inslee, hoping to end a 32-year Democratic lock on the governor’s mansion.

State Auditor Troy Kelley heads to a federal courtroom in March, defending against money laundering and tax evasion charges. Kelley also might face impeachment. Stay tuned.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray will stand for re-election in the fall, likely against Republican Chris Vance, while all members of Congress will face opponents and voters.

After 240 years as a republic, the United States will see the election of its newest and 45th president.

Great Britain will probably decide whether to leave or stay within the European Union.

LOCALLY

Lakewood will turn 20 and Lakewoodians can expect a big blowout July 9 at the annual SummerFest. Early in the year expect a public hearing on whether Chick-fil-A will be allowed to operate a drive-thru lane at its proposed location supplanting the Schooner Pub and Galley at 5429 100th St. SW.

Will University Place voters have the opportunity to form a taxing district to pay for recreation services? If the measure is defeated, then expect to say goodbye to some city-run youth and senior programs.

It will be the year of groceries in Gig Harbor, with Safeway expected to return to its former location near Uptown, and with QFC (and parent Kroger) introducing its “Main & Vine” concept on Point Fosdick Drive.

Expect seismic shifts in the ever-shifting politics of Puyallup after the departure of Mayor John Knutsen and Councilman Steve Vermillion. In Pierce County, the electorate will bid adieu to Executive Pat McCarthy, and potential successors to the county steering wheel include two current councilmen, Rick Talbert and Dan Roach, and state Sen. Bruce Dammeier.

In Tacoma, 2016 will be the year of hotels. The convention center hotel project could break ground by fall, and at the other side of downtown there’s the McMenamin project at the former Elks Temple and Old City Hall. Will those projects affect a Foss Waterway hotel project proposed by Bellingham-based Hollander Investments? We’ll see.

Also in the City of Destiny (which Rudyard Kipling called a boomtown 127 years ago), all city-operated garbage trucks will convert to compressed natural gas. After a renovation, the Tacoma Dome will provide visitors with more restrooms. In addition, the minimum wage increase and a new sick-leave policy will commence in February.

Then there’s Click: Will it remain a public utility? Maybe. And look for the City Council to require front license plates to facilitate a system that reads letters and numbers. The council likely will decide whether local police agencies and intelligence officers can access that data.

Billboards remain in the inbox, and Washingtonians can expect more retail marijuana stores. Meanwhile, as you might recall, the saga of Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist continues. And continues.

Finally, there’s a chance that a coalition of interested parties will (finally) develop a solution to a crisis in mental health by building a hospital.

BIRTHDAYS

Kirk Douglas turns 100. Don Rickles, Shecky Green, Jerry Lewis and Hugh Hefner reach 90. So does Chuck Berry. Robert Redford turns 80, as do Kris Kristofferson, Alan Alda and Burt Reynolds. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, David Crosby and Eric Burden turn 75. So do Bernie Sanders and Neil Diamond, reaching 75, just like Simon and Garfunkle both. Morley Safer, Regis Philbin and Mamie Van Doren turn 85. Zsa Zsa reaches 99.

Abe Vigoda and Monty Hall turn 95. Barry Gibb, the only BeeGee extant, hits 70. So do Donovan, Naomi Judd, Pat Sajak, Donald Trump and Steven Spielberg. So does Dolly Parton. Fabio and Boy George reach 55. Pope Francis and Wavy Gravy turn 80 and so do Mary Tyler Moore and Englebert Humperdinck. Liza Minnelli and Patty Duke turn 70 and Justin Timberlake earns half the candles, joining Elijah Wood at 35. Carol Channing reaches 95. Johnny Rotten sees 60. James Earl Jones reaches 85 and Kid Rock 45.

The Freedom of Information Act turns 50, as do “Star Trek,” Cindy Crawford and Tone Loc. The dates are fuzzy, but it’s been just about 50 years since Ken Kesey conducted the first acid test at the Fillmore, and 50 years since officials broke ground on the Twin Towers.

The National Park Service hits 100, as does Boeing, as does Brown & Haley’s Mountain Bar (in celebration of which look for a reformulated premium bar as well as the introduction of Mountain Thins).

A hundred years ago the planet was halfway done with the War to End All Wars, and this is the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, where one million people were either killed or wounded.

EVENTS

Monster Jam will return to the Tacoma Dome this month, and look for metal heavies AC/DC in February, followed four days later by Black Sabbath. Brad Paisley appears, as does Iron Maiden, in March.

At the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, look for the Charity Choice Invitational gymnastics competition and the Northwest Cheerleading and Dance Competition in February, followed by the Remodeling Expo, South Sound Sustainability Expo and the Mary Kay Career Conference in March.

The Daffodil Festival Grand Floral Parade will take to the streets of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting on April 9, this following the April 3 coronation of the 2016 Daffodil Queen. This year’s theme: “Fun in the Sun.”

MISCELLANEOUS I

The World Trade Center Tacoma will sponsor a trade mission to the China Import Expo and the Cross Straits Trade Fair, and if you’re in the neighborhood, check out the Tacoma Pavilion at the Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone.

A delegation will visit Cuba in February to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Tacoma’s sibling-city relationship with Cinfuegos.

The 21-day Washington State Fair will expand to include Labor Day weekend and exclude Tuesdays. The dates: Sept. 2-25. The theme: “The Fabulous Forties.”

A megaship (the world’s largest) will likely call at the Port of Seattle.

Defeating a bid by KUOW, supporters likely will continue their effort to buy KPLU from PLU.

Expect construction of the Environmental Learning Center at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium early in the year. The new structure, a collaboration with Tacoma Public Schools, will serve as the main classroom building for the Science & Math Institute (SAMI) high school and will benefit little learners in the zoo’s early education programs. A pedestrian bridge over the roadway will provide access from indoor classrooms to the outdoor park.

Also, expect to hear the barking of California sea lions in the Rocky Shores area of the zoo sometime this summer as plans call for renovating the current seal pool and adding sea lions to the exhibit space. Meanwhile, a new aquarium will move from drawing boards to groundbreaking come summer, with an opening pegged for 2018.

Metro Parks plans to open an all-weather multipurpose field at its SERA Campus in Southeast Tacoma, thus allowing sports to be played that have been unplayable because of pooled water. And speaking of pools, People’s Community Center Pool will open later this year.

SPORTS

With 2015 heralding the departures of Seattle Mariners managers Jack Zduriencik and Lloyd McClendon, look for new head Scott Servais come spring. Old Friend Edgar Martinez is the only holdover on the M’s coaching staff, and at least 17 fresh jerseys are hanging in the 40-man clubhouse. Expect the return of Cano, Cruz and Seager to the lineup, with the rotation continuing to feature Felix, Hisashi and Taijuan.

And don’t be surprised if you hear the name Ken Griffey Jr. on Jan. 6 when inductees to the Hall of Fame are announced. Do be surprised if you hear the name Martinez.

The San Francisco ’49ers will not be playing in their Santa Clara stadium come Feb. 7 at Super Bowl 50. Instead, the Seattle Seahawks will trample the New England Patriots 30-17.

The Sounders get a new pitch.

Federal Way boys basketball coach Jerome Collins has coached former NBA players — including Michael Dickerson and Donny Marshall — but never has he won back-to-back state championships in a career that started in 1984. That could change this year.

After winning the 4A state title last season, Collins’ team will return as the top-ranked team in the state and the Eagles are the state favorite behind 6-foot-10 Jalen McDaniels, who already signed his letter of intent to San Diego State University.

Curtis’ track and field program has a storied jump history, but only eventual University of Kansas All-American Andrea Geubelle had hit 40 feet in the triple jump until a pair of freshmen — Alexis Ellis and Saudia James-Heard — accomplished that feat last year; they return this spring as two of the top jumpers not only in the state, but the nation.

This year will see the end of an era for state football. No football coach has amassed more wins in state history than Tumwater’s Sid Otton, who said he plans to make his next season his last. Otton’s unmatched career record is 384-129 as a football coach in this state, and this past November he led Tumwater to the 2A state championship game for the eighth time in his career.

In August, the Summer Olympics will hit Rio (where it will be winter, by the way).

LEGALLY SPEAKING

Two of the highest-profile criminal cases in recent times, State v. Dorcus Allen and State v. Odies Walker, are to go to jury trial, again.

Allen, now 44, originally was convicted in 2011 of being an accomplice to four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Gregory Richards. Jurors believed prosecutors’ arguments that Allen willingly served as the getaway driver for killer Maurice Clemmons.

Walker, now 48, also was convicted in 2011 of aggravated first-degree murder in the death of armored-car guard Kurt Husted, who was gunned down during a robbery at the Lakewood Walmart.

The convictions of both men were overturned on appeal, with appellate judges citing prosecutorial misconduct as the reason. Expect retrials for Allen in March and Walker in May.

It’s anticipated that maybe a handful of Pierce County Superior Court and District Court judges will retire this year, opening the various benches to fresh faces.

EDUCATION

The fight over charter schools will move from the courtroom to the Legislature after a court ruling that declared the voter-approved charter-school law unconstitutional.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act might have an impact locally, with states given more flexibility and authority — although 2016 will be a transition year with the law coming into full effect in 2017-2018.

Construction hereabouts continues at McCarver Elementary, Wilson High, Stewart Middle and Wainwright Intermediate schools. Expect McCarver and Wainwright to open in the fall.

In Puyallup, preparations for school construction will begin based on the approval of a $292.5 million package approved in November. The first bonds went on sale early in December and generated $80 million.

Speaking of money, more than half of Pierce County’s 15 local school districts will take their funding requests to voters in February.

MISCELLANEOUS II

“The Revenant,” “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday,” “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “The Jungle Book,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “The Legend of Tarzan,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Bourne 5,” “Ben Hur,” “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” and “Star Wars: Rogue One” will hit the big screen in 2016.

The small screen will see the return — tonight, actually — of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Otherwise, “The X-Files” will return in January and a remake of “Roots” will air later in the year. “Twin Peaks” will take another stab at the cherry pie, while “NCIS” will marks its 300th episode.

“American Idol” will fade away.

So, too, “Downton Abbey.”

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

New restaurants? There’s a slew. Peter Levy of Seattle’s Chow’s Foods intends to open Cooks’ Tavern (“food for the Americas”) in the Proctor District. Two beer halls will open with the coming of Rhein Haus (bocce ball, housemade sausage and pretzels) in the Stadium District, while the Berliner Pub will open its doors at the Merkle Corner at 2401 Pacific Ave. Top Pot Doughnuts will expand both to University Place (near Whole Foods) and to Proctor Station.

At the location deserted by the old University Place Keg, expect a Prohibition-themed Sawyer Jax. The owners of the Stadium district Shake Shake Shake expect to open Fish Fish Fish.

BOOTS ON THE GRIND

Some of the most anticipated news coming out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord this year will center on two proposals that would give the Army more room to practice flying helicopters and firing rockets around here.

One would open up certain remote areas on public land in the North Cascades and in Southwest Washington to regular Army helicopter training. The other would allow the Army to test-fire rockets at JBLM, a practice that so far has been limited to the Yakima Training Center because of concerns it could startle South Sound residents.

The Army wants the new training areas so it can give soldiers more opportunities to train closer to their homes. They might save money, too, by reducing the likelihood that soldiers will travel elsewhere for required training. But the proposals are controversial because they raise the prospect of bringing loud military training to public areas more often.

Away from home, JBLM soldiers expect another busy year balancing deployments to the Middle East and to friendly exercises with allies in East Asia.

JBLM today has a rocket battalion in Iraq and a command-level headquarters in Afghanistan. Hundreds of its Stryker soldiers and its corps headquarters, meanwhile, anticipate exercises from Indonesia to South Korea.

Ongoing budget cuts likely will continue to unfold at the base. The Air Force’s 62nd Airlift Wing is slated to close one of its four C-17 squadrons. The Army is likewise shaving the headcount from its civilian payroll.

OTHERWISE...

From all of us at The News Tribune, Happy New Year!

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535

Staff writers Jordan Schrader, Derrick Nunnally, Melissa Santos, Brynn Grimley, Kari Plog, Kate Martin, Bob Dutton, Debbie Cafazzo, Craig Hill, Adam Ashton, Sue Kidd, Don Ruiz, TJ Cotterill and Adam Lynn contributed to this report.

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