Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday that clears the way to give one of Washington’s highest honors to several communities for rescue efforts after last year’s deadly Oso landslide.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday morning to allow awarding the Medal of Valor to a group of recipients rather than a single person, clearing the way to give one of Washington’s highest honors to several communities for rescue efforts after last year’s deadly Oso landside.
Later this month, Inslee plans to award the medal collectively to Oso, Darrington and Arlington, and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, for their responses to the March 2014 slide that killed 43 people. Previously, the Medal of Valor could only go to one recipient for taking action at personal risk to save one or more lives.
“We all know the heartbreak from the landslide in Oso,” Inslee said before he signed the bill. “It was so deep in our state, and now this bill will allow the honoring of many heroic individuals and groups who at great personal peril responded to the tragedy.”
The bill passed the Senate and House without opposition.
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Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, said the bill signing and the upcoming anniversary of the landslide have filled him with mixed emotions — sadness in remembering the tragedy, and pride in the way the Stillaguamish Valley worked in response to the mudslide. The medal, he said, is deserved by many.
“I wish we could give it to everybody in the Stilly Valley,” Pearson said after Inslee signed the bill.
The ceremony is scheduled for March 18, four days short of the anniversary, at a joint session of the state Senate and House.