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Arlington Garden Club donates for Oso bench


Christopher Andersson

Snohomish County parks planner Kevin Teague, left, accepts a check on March 31 from Arlington Garden Club treasurer Mike Conner, right, and president Connie Gronning to build a bench near the site of the slide.

The Arlington Garden Club has donated $2,200 to Snohomish County Parks to build a bench near the site of the Oso landslide.

Club members met with a Snohomish County Parks planner on March 31 to look over the site, pick a location to put the bench and deliver the check.

"We're paying for a bench to be put into this area so that when they come and visit with family, they have some place to sit," said Connie Gronning, president of the Arlington Garden Club.

Members ended up picking a spot near the Stillaguamish River that will eventually also be alongside a trail that will run along the edge of the landslide area.

"It's an absolutely spectacular place with the river coming right around and you can see part of the slide, all but the upper third," said Gronning.

Snohomish County Parks Planner Kevin Teague said that the bench will add a resting site to the location.

"It will provide an opportunity for people to sit and look at the site," he said.

"The garden club wants to commemorate those who lost their lives here and it's very personal for some of them," he said.

Gronning said members chose a bench project near Oso because they have several members who live, or lived, in Oso.

"It was a really big impact on them," she said.

The Arlington Garden Club raises funds by holding a couple of fundraisers each year.

"Anything we can dig up and plant for our fundraiser, which is the Sunday before Mother's Day," where they typically sell perennials and annuals, she said.

"And the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we make things out of evergreens and natural products," she said.

"Those are our two major fundraisers and we donate as much as we can," said Gronning.

That includes a scholarship every year and giving to local Washington State University programs.

This year also included paying for a new Oso bench.

The bench could be installed within a month, said Teague, and is located at the edge of the site along a trail that is not open yet. It is being built by local business Cuz Concrete.

The trail will also run across the end of the site, near the current memorial location.

Teague said it is scheduled to officially open this October, although it could potentially be earlier.

There is also a planned barricade to prevent motorized vehicles from entering the landslide area. "Not a road barricade, it will be nicer," he said.

The bench will sit near one of the entrance areas of the landslide.

Christopher Andersson

The view from the location of the Arlington Garden Club's donated bench which will have views of the Stillaguamish River and the Oso landslide.

"As we've met with the families [to plan the future Oso memorial], many have said they want strong entrances," said Teague, so that people get "a sense that this place is different, that it is important."

County parks officials are still working with families on a permanent memorial that will go into the area, said Teague.

"We're just talking with people and looking for ways to memorialize those who lost their lives here," he said. "We want to tell the stories of the lives that were lost and also of the response to the slide."

The planning team is going slow to be respectful for families that are still hurting though, said Teague.

"It's going to be a longer process, just because the process of grieving. Folks may or may not be ready to engage in planning a memorial, and it's been a slow process for that reason. Not everyone's ready at the same time," said Teague.


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