When I met Sean Peters, he was a teenager, and dreamed of racing in NASCAR. He was off to a credible start. I was writing about him because it was close to Father’s Day, and he and his dad had an unusual hobby. They had a racing team called Battlewagon and they fixed up their battered cars week in and week out and took them to the track, hurtling around the Figure 8 loops and trying not to get hit in the intersection.
Sean was a nice kid, and at an age when so many kids can’t even speak civilly to their parents, I was warmed by his friendship with his dad.
I had a horrible feeling when I heard last week that two young people had been killed in a crash. I’ve been writing here for almost nine years, which means I know an awful lot of young people around here.
When I got an email from Doug and Traci Hobbs, who run the track, letting people know when the service would be, I learned that one of the young men killed was Sean Peters, now 23.
Last week a Facebook page went up for Sean and his friend Ryan Kenyon, 25, of Sultan, who also died in the crash.
The photos that friends posted were of young men doing what young men do, making silly faces at the camera, posing with young women and laughing at the photographer, horsing around in the summer in sunglasses, shirtless and tattooed.
I can not imagine the grief of the parents of these two young men. I want to join hundreds of other people in this community in saying how much I wish this had not happened, and that I am thinking of them.
This week, I concluded my three-part series on downtown Monroe. I focus a lot on the downtown, although it’s certainly not the only district of town that is important.
I focus on it because I’m frustrated by its potential. Sometimes when I drive in from a different direction than usual and see it from a fresh perspective, it catches me all over again. This is a beautiful collection of old buildings.
There are other towns with buildings like that. Some of them are gorgeous. They have all those things we talk about, the things the consultants recommended when they were here, the nice blade signs, the flowers, the awnings, the sidewalk cafes, the benches, the gift shops.
We have every single asset that a town needs to make a downtown like that possible. We have unique assets no other town has, around which we could build a brilliant marketing campaign. We’ve got the fair, and we’ve got the mountains nearby, and we have a growing wealth of sports events. If we marketed that and added to that a pretty downtown, Monroe could be a place people talked about the way they do La Conner and Gig Harbor.
But it would be more than a commercial triumph. It would be a human triumph.
I truly believe that there is nothing standing in the way of Monroe realizing its potential than the people of the town itself.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Monroe residents; there isn’t. But what is lacking is creative fire, a sense of optimism and hope, a desire for the sheer joyous struggle of carving something exceptional out of an ordinary town with potential.
Right now there seems to be more reason to hope for the town’s future than there has ever been before. Passionate people have filled the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and DREAM. The city is turning attention to the downtown and talking about making the long-held vision of parking and public space a reality.
Monroe has a Downtown Master Plan and a thorough economic study at its disposal; something most towns don’t have.
New events are coming. The farmer’s market is coming back. DREAM is compiling a real estate data base and getting ready to market downtown commercial space to specific retailers, seeking to fill in the downtown with the kind of businesses that will help all the other businesses succeed.
More business are vacant than ever before on Main right now, it’s true. But there is reason to believe the future could yet be bright.