In Lake Stevens, major Friday night events are high-school basketball or football games, and a glorious way to spend a summer day is floating...

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In Lake Stevens, major Friday night events are high-school basketball or football games, and a glorious way to spend a summer day is floating in an inner tube on the big lake.

It is a small town full of families, where most everyone knows each other — or at least knows of each other, according to resident Lisa Clawson.

“It has all the major clichés of hometown America, and I love it,” said Clawson, owner of the city’s only bookstore, Lake Stevens Books.

About 50 years ago, the population of this Snohomish County community was 900. Today there are about 15 times as many people — and in two decades, the number of residents is estimated to reach as many as 46,000.

Lake Stevens has been expanding its city limits, and in December added in the 708-acre Frontier Village shopping area.

A nearby transit station now runs buses directly to Everett, Marysville and Seattle.

Lake Stevens is now working on annexing more than 400 acres east of the lake and nearly 300 acres to the west called Soper Hill.

Population: Nearly 13,500 within the city limits; about 30,000 in the Lake Stevens area.

Distance to downtown Seattle: 37 miles

Schools: Lake Stevens is served by the Lake Stevens School District.

Recreation: Lake Stevens is quite popular in the summer for water-skiing and other water sports. There are three parks that offer swimming beaches.

Historical moment: In 1905 a railroad spur was built by the Rucker Brothers Timber Co. and soon after, Rucker Mill was opened along the north cove of the lake and established the town of Lake Stevens to support the hundreds of people working in the mill. The mill burned twice and in 1925 was dismantled.

— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf

Donna Foster, who has lived in the town her entire life, says Lake Stevens has certainly grown up in the last 20 years.

When she was a kid, her family would have to “go to town” and that meant making a trip to Everett.

Now, “we’re pretty self-sufficient. There’s not much you can’t get in Lake Stevens.”

But despite growth, it is still home to the things signature of a close-knit community: the town’s annual local festival Aquafest, a host of community organizations and church groups, and mom-and-pop type businesses scattered in the northeast’s “old town” area.

For now, Lake Stevens retains its small-town feeling without being in the middle of nowhere, Clawson said.

“There is a tremendous sense of community here,” she said. “There’s a lot going up here that city people aren’t aware of, but if you want to go to a play or a ballet, you can without going into the city.”

Clawson recently bought a 2,000-square-foot home for $330,000 and put her renovated lakeside house up for sale for $750,000.

Realtor Jennifer Barnes, with Barnes Real Estate Group & Keller Williams Realty, says there are a lot of new homes being built in the area and existing homes continue to experience steady appreciation.

Last year, the average existing home in the greater Lake Stevens area was valued at about $360,000 — based on sales figures — and had appreciated more than 20 percent over 2005, according to First American Title Insurance statistics.

New homes cost more, $400,000 on average, and some saw annual appreciation of almost 35 percent, according to those statistics.

Most of the area’s older homes are standard 1970s or 1980s architecture styles — split levels and standard ramblers. New homes are typical of tract developments.

The average rent of apartments, rare sights compared with the majority single-family residences, are around $700 a month.

The city of Lake Stevens found that there is a low job-to-housing ratio, signaling most residents generally commute to work.