West Seattle, Washington
It’s a fixture of getting ready for college – taking the test known as the SAT. It usually entails paying a fee and spending several hours somewhere outside the school day – but today, a special event at Chief Sealth International High School made the test possible for about a fifth of the entire student body:
Thanks to grant funds, about 270 Sealth students (mostly juniors) were able to take the SAT test today at no cost! The grant provided registration fees ($50/student), an online SAT-prep course ($70/student), and a healthy snack to students who registered. A unified effort between Lori Douglas, Academic Dean, and Cheryl Sullivan, Assistant Principal, ensured as many students who were eligible got registered for this excellent opportunity! Students had (and continue to maintain) the ability to send scores to any college(s) they chose, or they could just use the results as a “barometer.”
Thanks to assistant principal Sullivan for the report and photo; she says the grant money originated with the Race to the Top program.
If you didn’t make it to the second meeting tonight about the project to make SW Roxbury safer between 35th SW and its east end at 4th/Olson, you’re not out of chances yet, but time is finite.
As with the first meeting earlier this month in White Center, this meeting was led by SDOT’s Jim Curtin and Brian Dougherty, though it was an interactive discussion much more than a “sit down and listen” meeting. Curtin did have a new, brief slide deck – that’s him at left, below, on the Roxhill Elementary stage with Chris Stripinis from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Neighborhood Council, who had explained backstory about WWRHAH and other groups asking the city to “do something about Roxbury Street.”
Thanks to Joe Szilagyi from WWRHAH, among tonight’s attendees, for that photo. Meantime, here’s the SDOT slide deck, shared by Curtin:
If you can’t see the Scribd document above, click here for the PDF version. After the presentation, with key points including the fact that Roxbury – classified as “a principal arterial” – has “a very high rate” of collisions, 223 in the last three years, including 11 pedestrians and two bicyclists being hit. Traffic volumes rise from 13,000 vehicles daily on the west end to 25,000 daily on the east end, “a pretty busy road.” The collision hot spots are all along the stretch.
The most collision-plagued intersection is at that busy east end, Olson/4th/Roxbury, and one suggestion was for a roundabout there – that would take money and time, Curtin said, not ruling it out, but for starters they’re considering reducing the spinout factor there by roughing up the pavement.
Other suggestions written on sticky notes and left along the multi-table rendering of Roxbury included working on the turn lanes at the intersection by Safeway, so people are clearer on which way vehicles are turning. All the suggestions are being collected, along with those to come at upcoming events such as these (from the slide deck):
WHAT’S NEXT: Early projects will include pavement repair near Roxbury Safeway – that will be fixed “very soon,” Curtin promised. Photo-enforcement cameras, as already announced, will be installed in Roxhill and Holy Family school zones. This entire project is being made possible by photo-enforcement revenue, he added. Longer-term – recommendations for the corridor are expected to be out in July.
Family and friends will gather this Saturday to share memories of Cecil O. Hansel, a half-century-plus West Seattle resident who died last week at 79. Here’s the remembrance they’re sharing now:
Cecil O. Hansel
April 21, 1934 – February 20, 2014
Cecil Oscar Hansel was born in New England, North Dakota on April 21, 1934, to Pete and Mary Hansel. He was soon joined by brother, Larry and sister, Joanne and later by Royal and Suzanne. Cecil graduated from Larimore High School in 1953, where he was an all around athlete, playing football, baseball, basketball and track. He was also active in drama, on the Annual Staff and President of the Lettermen’s Club. This is where he met the love of his life, Janice Morstad, a cheerleader and two years his junior.
After high school, Cecil was offered a scholarship to play football, but decided instead to enlist in the Army and was sent to Korea for a year. After leaving the military, he attended NDSU. Cecil and Janice eloped and were married on January 21, 1956.
They moved to Spokane, Washington, where Cecil attended a trade school while working at Ideal Concrete Company. Cecil and Janice’s family grew with the birth of sons Jeff, Greg and daughter, Mary Jo.
In 1963, the family moved to Seattle, Washington, and settled in West Seattle. Cecil began working at the Corps of Engineers. The family continued growing with the additions of sons, Mark and David.
Cecil played American Legion Baseball and enjoyed coaching little league football, basketball and baseball. He also enjoyed taking his family on vacations to Spirit Lake, Deer Lake, and other places, eventually retiring to Lake Trask to enjoy the fishing. He retired after 30 years at the Corps of Engineers as Chief of Photogrammetry. He enjoyed watching his kids and grandkids play sports, spending time with family and friends, and fishing.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Janice and his parents. He is survived by his sons, Jeff, Greg (Denise), Mark, and David (Diana), his daughter, Mary Jo Dunlap (Brian), his brothers Larry (Leah), and Royal, his sisters Joanne Hanson and Suzanne Green (Greg), his grandchildren Christina (Jonathan), Tom, Drew and Drake, four great-grandchildren, and also nephews and nieces.
A funeral will be held at Forest Lawn Funeral Home on Saturday, March 1st, at 1:00 pm. It is located at 6701 30th Ave SW.
(WSB publishes obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to firstname.lastname@example.org)
(One view of project team’s preferred ‘massing’ for Harbor Avenue project)
One week from tomorrow, the Southwest Design Review Board meets again, with two projects on the agenda – a two-building, ~100-unit, ~85-parking-space project at 3257/3303 Harbor Avenue SW (map; first reported here last month), and a 4-story, 16-apartment, 16+-parking-space building proposed for 1606 California SW (map; first reported here last October).
(One view of project team’s preferred ‘massing’ for California SW project)
Both “packets” full of renderings, massing options, and other early details are now viewable online, so you can preview one or both if you’re interested – the Harbor Avenue project packet from architects Public 47 is here, the California SW project packet from architect Roger Newell is here. Both are going before the board for the first time, so they are both in the Early Design Guidance stage, which is focused on massing – size and shape – rather than specifics of how the buildings will look. Harbor Avenue is first up at 6:30, California SW at 8 pm, when the board meets Thursday, March 6th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle (California/Oregon).
From the city:
Seattle Parks and Recreation, in conjunction with the Green Seattle Partnership, is undertaking another project to preserve portions of Me-Kwa-Mooks Park off SW Jacobsen Road. Activities will include control of 4 acres of invasive weeds, planting thousands of native plants, erosion control and litter removal with the help of urban forestry crews and volunteer support.
The public can expect to see activity throughout the year on Parks-owned properties that lie along Jacobsen Road between the western boundary of SW Hudson and SW 56th Ave.
There’s been a resurgence of complaints/concerns about door-to-door solicitors in West Seattle lately. Some people have posted notes in the WSB Forums, but with more mentions showing up in all of our message boxes, from e-mail to Facebook to text, it seems like a good time to at least talk about the rules.
Most of the complaints we have heard have NOT been simply for the solicitation itself – but mostly because they were aggressive and/or rude. For example, we received this one today from Fauntleroy:
Just had an aggressive door to door magazine salesman in the last 30 minutes or so. Name Mike and claimed to be new here from South Carolina on a job program. No contact info or web information that could be looked up and referenced. He just had some magazine info of laminated paper and was pushing aggressively to try and get a donation/subscription.
He went away frustrated when I said I didn’t conduct any business from door to door sales.
The archives show it’s been a while since we recapped Seattle city law – so here again are the rules for door-to-door soliciting, aka “residential sales,” as shown in the Seattle Municipal Code. Key points to remember: If they are selling something, they must have licenses and IDs and they should not be the least bit reluctant to show both to you; hours are restricted to 8 am-9 pm; if you have a “no soliciting” sign, they’re supposed to leave you alone. But if someone is simply asking for a charity contribution, they do NOT require a license. And if you suspect they’re not really soliciting, but perhaps casing – they jiggled the doorknob, for example – police say, don’t hesitate to call.
P.S. For even more details from SPD, see the second half of this Crime Prevention newsletter from last year (PDF).
In case you couldn’t be there, we recorded video of last night’s community meeting at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene, focused on the proposed six-townhouse development on church-owned land known best as an informal “park.” (We first reported on the project, which would require a rezone, back in September, with subsequent reports here and here.) Architect David Neiman and developer Joe Paar presented the plan, and church leaders were there too; it was stressed that the townhouses will be put up for sale, not rented. The project is continuing to move through the city system; the rezone (to Lowrise 1 from single family) would require City Council approval and is proposed to include a special agreement to keep part of the site as open space.
This morning, we are grateful to be able to showcase TWO beautiful photos – a Tuesday view of the Olympics peeking from the clouds, from James Bratsanos, above; and below, this morning’s sunrise sky from Debbie Bukoski:
Now, on with the highlights, mostly directly from the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, where you can always look ahead to tomorrow, next week, next month …
FREE COMPOSTING BIN: Today’s the day! 11 am-3 pm, go to the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center and get your free “collector’s edition” Felix Hernandez-branded kitchen-scraps bin, explained in our preview. (2801 SW Thistle)
FAIRMOUNT PARK ELEMENTARY INFO NIGHT: Another one tonight, 6-8 pm at Alki Elementary; meet planning principal Julie Breidenbach and find out more about the expanding/reopening Fairmount Park Elementary – details in our listing. (3010 59th SW)
HIGHLAND PARK ACTION COMMITTEE: After a 6:30 pm potluck, HPAC meets tonight at 7 pm at Highland Park Improvement Club:
So far, the agenda includes:
*Official announcement of the formation of HPAC’s very own Greening Committee: HPAC member Craig Rankin has taken the lead on this and already has a very cool kick off event in the works. Come learn about what’s going on and how to get involved in making our neighborhood more beautiful.
*Aly Pennucci from DPD is joining us to discuss a Pedestrian Zone Mapping Project.
*We have some updates on the Seattle City Light Surplus Properties, several park projects going on in the neighborhood, and all kinds of announcements of cool stuff happening.
*We will be presenting HPIC’s landscape plan for community input and review- come check it out and see how you can help transform part of HPIC’s parking lot into a beautiful courtyard for the community- it’s happening fast!
WEST SEATTLE TIMEBANK: Whether you have already joined the Timebank, or are interested in becoming a new member, tonight’s meeting is for you, 7 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle, details in our listing. (California/Oregon)
TRIVIA BENEFIT FOR THE Y: Tonight’s 8:30 pm trivia at Talarico’s Pizza in The Junction is a special fundraiser:
The West Seattle and Fauntleroy YMCA are partnering with Talarico’s Pizzeria for trivia tonight, and 100% of the “pay to play” money will go directly to support the YMCA’s Annual Campaign. The Annual Campaign raises funds to support youth in the West Seattle community by providing scholarships for summer camps, tutoring services, swim lessons, youth sports, and so much more!
(4718 California SW)
LOTS MORE … on the calendar, for today, tonight, and beyond.
This morning, an invitation-only design charrette downtown is devoted to taking a fresh look (as explained here) at one of West Seattle’s more-problematic intersections, and it was preceded by a walking tour on Tuesday afternoon. The intersection is the five-way meeting of Chelan, Spokane, Delridge, and West Marginal Way SW, just west of the “low bridge.” West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was among those on hand for a firsthand look and discussion of its challenges and its potential.
Among the stops – a bus lane that wasn’t serving its originally intended purpose, because of route changes.
The bicycling/walking/running trail was scrutinized too; there’s already a project in the works just to the south at 23rd/Delridge to improve connectivity (as mentioned in our coverage of the most recent West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting).
This morning’s design event was billed as for “stakeholders”; we’ll be checking back to find out what’s next.
(More cameras, and other info, on the WSB Traffic page)
So far, so good as we head for the heart of the morning commute. Today’s transportation notes:
ROXBURY SAFETY MEETING: Tonight is the second of two meetings to set the stage for SDOT’s safety project on SW Roxbury, the result of local neighborhood advocates pushing for solutions to longrunning problems: 6 pm at Roxhill Elementary (30th/Roxbury).
WONDERING ABOUT THOSE ROAD MARKINGS? SDOT e-mailed to make sure we had seen a post on the SDOT Blog site last week – answering the question “why are there white paint marks on my street?” In Arbor Heights and Fauntleroy, they’re probably for the upcoming microsurfacing prep work.
HIGHWAY 99/ALASKAN WAY VIADUCT CLOSURE REMINDER: Saturday and Sunday, 6 am-6 pm both days, Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct north of the West Seattle Bridge will close for its annual inspection. Before and inbetween, other stretches of 99 will close for a variety of reasons – all explained by WSDOT here. P.S. WSDOT also updates the ongoing discussion of “settling” after what it terms “inaccurate” recent reports elsewhere.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A 40-minute primer on DNA testing led off the third day of witness testimony in the Morgan Junction murder trial.
It was courtesy of state crime lab forensic scientist Katherine Woodard, who testified about testing evidence gathered at the scene of the January 21, 2012, shooting for which 69-year-old Lovett “Cid” Chambers is charged with second-degree murder.
The testimony most likely to be revisited later involves what she said about what was not tested – the passenger door handle of Chambers’ car, which he contends was pulled open in a threatening move moments before he shot and killed 35-year-old Travis Hood.
Besides Woodard, Tuesday’s witnesses were two Seattle Police officers who had been part of the response the night of the shooting – one where it happened, alongside Morgan Junction Park; the other, at Providence Mount St. Vincent, where Hood had been taken by his friend Jamie Vause.
Early in the day, Vause’s upcoming testimony was again the subject of arguments made by the legal teams to Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle outside the presence of the 15-member (including three alternates) jury. The argument was about what he might say, how it might compare to a statement by a police officer, and how he might be impeached and subsequently rehabilitated.
The discussion wrapped up around 9:30 am, and it was time for testimony to begin.
Woodard, from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab – which does testing for criminal-justice agencies around the state – took the stand (which is really a seat, a chair between the judge’s “bench” and the jury “box,” which also is really just two rows of chairs).
As with most expert witnesses, time was taken to establish her credentials – 12 years at the lab, after time in the private sector, with a degree in cellular/molecular biology. She estimated she’s testified as a DNA expert about 25 times before.
The courtroom’s big-screen display monitor was used for slides explaining DNA testing, narrowing in on the specific types done by the lab, particularly “STR” – short tandem repeat, looking at repeating genetic sequences that help distinguish individuals.
After explaining how testing is done, she was asked about “degradation” of samples, which included a mention that the person who last handled something is not always the person who will have the most DNA on that object.
This specific case finally became the focus after more than 40 minutes. Woodard recounted receiving for analysis a pistol, magazines, swabs from the shovel that Hood was holding when he was shot, and a small folding knife. These items were present in court, and some were handled during Woodard’s testimony – she and the lawyers all wore gloves when touching the items.
It was noted that she had begun working on the case in June 2012 – almost five months after Hood’s death and Chambers’s arrest.
She described what she swabbed and tested, and explained that the work was done in line with a “case scenario,” explained as testing “what’s likely to give us the best answers, a guide to go by.”
There was a “blood indicatory sample” on the shovel, found lying across the curb and street where it fell when Hood was shot. On the knife, Woodard said, the blade was found to have Hood’s DNA; the handle indicated DNA of two people, mostly Hood.
After an hour, prosecution questions ran out, and the defense team’s senior lawyer Ben Goldsmith began his cross-examination. He hoisted the shovel – the most sizable piece of evidence shown in court to date – and asked how decisions are made regarding what will be tested and what will not. It’s under the direction of investigators, Woodard replied. And the DNA must be compared to “reference profiles” – it is not just tested to come up with an ID of whose DNA it might be, it is compared to someone’s DNA for reference. The detective with whom Woodard worked on the case, she testified, had not asked for analysis of whether Vause’s DNA was on the knife, only whether Hood and/or Chambers had DNA on it. And, she confirmed, there was no request to test for DNA on the passenger door or trunk of Chambers’ BMW.
Many variables go into test samples. At this point, we learned that “some people are sloughers” – they shed more skin cells than others. And then we learned that many factors can “degrade” a sample, even a change in temperature.
Exposure to water and sand could wash DNA off something like a door handle, Goldsmith sought to confirm – something mentioned in his co-defender Lauren McLane‘s opening statement, their contention that the condition of the car, towed along wet, gritty streets and then stored, made it impossible to get a good DNA sample.
But, he said yet again, you were “never asked to check the passenger door handle.”
No, Woodard affirmed, she was not.
The morning ended on that note, and the customary hour and a half lunch break ensued. Woodard returned to the witness stand when it was over, though not for long – just a few more questions, from both sides, about aspects of degradation of DNA samples.
Next witness was questioned by the senior member of the prosecution team, Margaret Nave: SPD Detective Tanya Kinney, who was a patrol officer the night of the shooting, in the William-1 sector, focused around the Alki area, but for an incident like this, she said, it was typical for just about everyone in the precinct to rush that way. “All we heard was, shots fired at that location, possibly a truck involved … my purpose was to go to the scene and see where they need me.”
Having gone through special “evidence training,” Kinney was assigned first to take photos of the shell casings found at the scene; she also placed numbered placards over them, “to make it easier for CSI” (the Crime Scene Investigation team). Photos were shown of the placards, and of the scene in general, including the yellow crime tape, and some blood spatters – the first graphic evidence shown, and – audibly – a difficult moment for friends and family of the victim, who have been in the gallery daily, a box of tissues nearby.
Kinney did not touch the evidence, she testified – that’s for the CSI detectives (who arrived, she said, around 12:30 am); her job was to make sure it was not tampered with, and she continued to assist with containment of the scene even after she was done with photos and placards (the latter of which blew away a few times that night, she said).
Her next job, assigned by a detective, was to start “logging the scene” – keeping track of which officers/detectives came and went. Her log from that night was placed into evidence, and a few points reiterated before her hour or so of testimony ended.
Following the afternoon break, the day’s final witness was SPD Officer Brandon McDougald. On the night of the shooting, he was headed to the scene at Morgan Junction Park when he heard the victim had shown up at Providence Mount St. Vincent, to which he was closer.
He explained that it “looks like what most people would think of as what a typical medical center would look like” (the reason Vause has given for why he drove his wounded friend there).
Upon his arrival, he saw Seattle Fire Department medics “working on somebody lying on the ground just outside the front door of the facility.” Standing to the left of the person on the ground was Jamie Vause, who McDougald said told him that he was the person driving the red pickup truck (seen leaving the shooting scene), and that the person on the ground was who he had brought from that location. McDougald subsequently had Vause get into his patrol car so he could “take a statement.”
He described Vause as “very coherent … I didn’t smell any alcohol on him .. he seemed rather in shock.”
After talking with Vause, McDougald said, he drove him back to his house. And then he had one more task related to the investigation: He was asked to go to the suspect’s house in Gatewood to impound the BMW.
It had been backed into a detached garage behind the house. McDougald said he had been given the task because he knew how to drive a stick shift. The tow truck arrived at 4:07 am (by which time six hours had elapsed since the shooting), and he followed it to the SPD processing room at Park 95 (off Airport Way).
McLane cross-examined him, at which time he said he wrote Vause’s statement and Vause indicated it was correct and signed it. On redirect from Isaacson, the officer was asked if he found “anything memorable” when he checked Vause’s background. “Not that I recall.”
The lawyers were done questioning him at 3:45, too close to the 4 pm adjournment time to call another witness. At least two SPD officers who were mentioned Tuesday morning as expected afternoon witnesses were yet to come, so we expect they’ll be called Wednesday.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE AND BACKSTORY: Links, in case you are catching up:
Charge reduced to second-degree murder (August 9, 2013)
Charges filed against Chambers (January 25, 2012)
Coverage the night it happened and the morning after (January 21-22, 2012)