2004: Year of the 'wardrobe malfunction,' presidential election, lethal tsunamis and Auburn loses soldiers in Iraq

Decade in Review
By: Anne Papineau Journal Staff Writer
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A look back at the aughts Editor’s note: The Journal shares some notable events that occurred in the last decade of Auburn’s history. 2004 gave us the trivial magnified large: remember Janet Jackson’s breast-baring “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl? August saw malfunction of another stripe. A 4-foot wave of water swept down the middle fork of the American River after a system malfunction accidentally opened a gate in Ralston Dam above Foresthill. There were no injuries but the accident triggered an emergency response such as hadn’t been seen in the foothills for years. 2004 concluded with waves as devastating as ever imagined. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck off the Indonesian coast triggered deadly tsunamis. Massive tidal waves claimed more than 150,000 souls, from Thailand to Somalia. JANUARY: A trio of endurance runners completed the first winter crossing of the Western States Trail from Squaw Valley to the Historic Courthouse. Auburn’s Jesse Mizener, 23, was killed in a mortar attack in Iraq, leaving a wife, daughters aged 2 and 1, and his baby son, Jesse Mizener, Jr. FEBRUARY: A suicide bomber in Baghdad kills nearly 50 people seeking employment with Iraq’s new army. A day earlier, at least 54 people, mostly civilians lined up applying for jobs, die outside a police station in Iskandariyah. Auburn moviegoers were out in record numbers as Mel Gibson’s controversial film, “The Passion of the Christ,” opens nationwide. By 5 p.m., more than 3,500 had seen one of the film’s six midday showngs at Auburn’s Signature Theatres. MARCH: Californians approved a $15 billion bond measure to bail out the world’s sixth largest economy. Terrorists struck in Madrid where bombings of four commuter trains killed nearly 200 people. The No. 9 seeded Colfax girls became the lowest seed ever to win a section basketball title as they beat No. 2 Bret Harte 45-39 in the title game at ARCO Arena. The Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team delivered the school’s first state championship in any sport. Colfax Record editor Tom Homer, who left an indelible mark on the Auburn area as a journalist for more than a quarter-century, was found dead at the Colfax newspaper’s office. He was 60. APRIL: When kindergartner Levey Padocs, Jr. showed up at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School sporting a blue mohawk, he had the school questioning its dress code and his parent questioning an attorney. Principal Derek Cooper asked if the blue could be washed out or Levey excluded from one of two class photos for parents who wished to have a Mohawk-free image. The first open-air Auburn Marketplace opened on Lincoln Way. As the five year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre drew near, some Penryn School parents drew comparisons when a seventh grade boy allegedly threatened the life of an eighth grade girl. The boy later revealed others who made his hit list, including Principal Cindy Uptain, two teachers and 4 students. MAY: Faced once again with declining enrollment and a state budget crisis, the Auburn Union Elementary School District worked to shear $463,701 from an already “bare bones” budget. The Auburn City council approved four items that took a $707,000 step toward achieving the School Park Preserve. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was “pumped up” to take on the state budget as he released a $102.8 billion plan to restore California’s financial health. JUNE: Former president Ronald Reagan died of Alzheimer’s disease at 93. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed millions of schoolchildren to keep affirming loyalty to one nation “under God” but dodged the underlying question of whether the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional blending of church and state. The median price of a home in Auburn was $419,000, a 28 percent increase over the previous May. Scott Jurek crossed the finish line in 15 hours and 36 minutes to win the Western States Endurance Run for a record-setting sixth time. JULY: The Democratic National Convention officially nominated John Kerry and vice presidential choice John Edwards to head the ticket in the race against George W. Bush and the GOP for the presidency. In U.S. Olympics Team Trials at Sac State’s Hornet Stadium, Auburn’s Stacy Dragila broke her own pole-vaulting meet record, clearing 15 feet, 7 inches, to claim first. AUGUST: The Stevens Fire destroyed more than 950 acres near Cape Horn and Colfax. The California Supreme Court voided the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned by San Francisco and ruled that Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority by issuing the licenses. The body of an Auburn man, who had been attacked by a great white shark, was recovered off the coast of Mendocino. Friends of Randall Fry, 50, described him as a top sport fishing and diving lobbyist. Del Oro’s High School’s new gym, performing arts and administrative center opens. Stacy Dragila failed to make it past the pole vault qualifying rounds at the Olympics Games in Athens. Two gunmen walked into a museum in Norway and walked out with Edvard Munch’s masterpiece, “The Scream.” SEPTEMBER: Four years in the planning, Foresthill High School opened. An estimated 15,000 people packed The Ridge Golf Course in Auburn to see the third round of golf at the Longs Drugs Ladies Professional Golf Association Challenge. Christina Kim won. In Russia, a school siege ended with more than 330 dead, mostly children. The median home price in Auburn climbed to $450,000. A year ago, the median was $100,000 less. OCTOBER: The Iraq war claimed its second Auburn victim with the death of David Waters, 19. Compounding the tragedy, his mother, Susan Waters, was found murdered outside the SBC Communications building in Auburn in September 2003. The Congressional Budget Office projected a record federal deficit of $415 billion for the year. NOVEMBER: Placer County voter turnout was heavier than expected, with close to 78 percent represented at the polls. Ohio held the key in a very tight race between George W. Bush and John Kerry for the presidency. Yasser Arafat, leader of the movement for a Palestinian homeland for four decades, died. Placer High School girls’ cross country team capped off a tremendous season by winning the CIF State Division III Champion in Fresno, the second team state title in the history of the school. DECEMBER: The jury handed down a death sentence to Scott Peterson for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son, Conner, two years before. Virginia Fleming, Auburn’s last living link with the 19th century, died at age 105. She was born in Auburn in 1899 and in her 80s and 90s was named both a McCann Award winner and to the list of the city’s all time 100 most influential residents. An attack believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber killed 22 in the mess tent of a U.S. military base near the northern city of Mosul, Iraq. Twenty of the dead were Americans. The Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center Committee approved an option to buy the historic State Theater for $800,000.