A memorable West Seattle neighbor named Vern Christensen is gone but not forgotten. Cindy Craig shared photos and the story of how neighbors and friends gathered to remember him a few rainy/sunny Sundays ago:
On Sunday, March 30, about 40 friends (several of them 4-legged) gathered at the traffic island at 40th Av. SW and SW Juneau to remember their good neighbor, Vern Christensen, who passed away on March 15.
Most days during the past 24 years if you drove by the grassy knoll there on the corner previously known as ‘Weed Island’ you were likely to see Vern taking his daily constitutional, keeping a benevolent eye on the neighborhood between Fauntleroy and California and Brandon and Morgan. If it was raining, you would probably see him clearing the storm drain with his trusty rake because the city had asked citizens to help. Long before the West Seattle Blog was the ‘go to’ source for any news in Fairmount Springs, Vern was who you thought to ask first.
Vern was a farm boy from Flasher, North Dakota, born during the Great Depression in 1932. He always seemed to embrace those rural values of knowing your neighbors and taking the time to stop and share a story. He knew what the value of community was and he would have been pleased to see the diverse group of people that he helped weave together gathering to celebrate our common thread at the newly renamed ‘Vern Island.’
A native currant was planted on the island in Vern’s honor, and the Golden Rake and its duty to keep the drain cleared was transferred to another resident of 40th Av. S.W., Vern’s close friend Paul Sureddin:
And for a little while on a rainy Sunday afternoon in March, the sun came out just long enough for Vern Christensen’s neighbors to take one more walk around Vern’s beloved Fairmount Springs and remember a man who reminded us every day in his unassuming way what it was to be part of a community.
We will miss him.
The photo and report are from Friends of Morgan Junction Parks‘ Barry White:
Friends of Morgan Junction Parks concluded a productive first year this morning with the first phase of a restoration project at the Juneau/Fauntleroy triangle. [map] Volunteers dug out some weedy and deeply buried street trees and applied fresh mulch. A considerable understory of ivy that ran throughout the land was removed, and a maze of dead, low-hanging branches was pruned out to bring much needed light into the interior.
We wish to thank the many volunteers who turned out this year at Morgan Junction Park, the triangle park next to Thriftway, and the Juneau triangle. We’ll start up again in spring with some planting parties at all three sites. Thanks to Morgan Community Association for their backing and to the folks at Seattle Parks and SDOT for the tools, mulch, and plants. It’s been a great year.
You’ll find more photos – and other info about FoMJP – on the group’s Facebook page.
3:30 AM: We’re checking out a fire call in the 5900 block of 39th SW (map) – crews originally were dispatched to an address on Fauntleroy Way, but scanner traffic has changed the location. Doesn’t sound big but they are calling for the investigator (Marshal 5). More when we get there.
3:42 AM UPDATE: At the scene, SFD tells us this was a small fire in some building materials behind what appears to be a construction/remodeling project. A neighbor who happened to be awake saw it and called it in to 911, and it was extinguished quickly. No injuries and no damage beyond the “building materials,” we’re told, but the investigator will have to figure out how it started. (Thanks to everybody who texted/e-mailed/tweeted about this!)
9:31 AM UPDATE: Just checked with Lt. Sue Stangl at SFD. Investigators couldn’t figure out exactly what started the fire, so the cause will remain officially “undetermined” – but she added that they found no evidence it was “suspicious.”
1:30 PM: We are in the courtroom of King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller, who is to sentence Monty Richardson in the Fairmount Springs attack case from last July. Judge Heller has just entered; defendant Monty Richardson, who entered a type of guilty plea while not acknowledging guilt, is now at the bench. The victim is here, as is her daughter and three family friends. On behalf of Richardson is his wife, their daughter, a former landlord of theirs, and the church he attends. Richardson is being sentenced for burglary and assault, to which he pleaded guilty on November 17th. Here’s our most recent report, after we discovered that plea bargain in court records.
The attack “fairly shocks the conscience,” says senior deputy prosecuting attorney Erin Becker, saying Richardson went into the victim’s home – across the street from his – and “inflicted extreme injuries … 26 fractures” including two spinal fractures. She was “left unconscious and alone when the attack ended. … Frankly, it’s very hard to have to explain to victims that this is what the Legislature proscribes for a crime .. a standard range of 26 to 34 months.” She mentions that some letters written in Richardson’s support allude to comments here that suggested somebody else did it.
1:36 PM: The victim is now speaking.
(Our as-it-happened coverage continues ahead, concluding with the sentencing decision just after 2 pm – video added of the judge explaining his decision): Click to read the rest of Video: Maximum sentence in Fairmount Springs attack…
Just got word from Southwest Precinct that there has been an arrest in connection with the May 8th attack that left a Fairmount Springs woman badly hurt. The case raised so much concern, there was a special neighborhood meeting about it a few days later, with precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen in attendance (here’s our coverage). Precinct operations Lt. Pierre Davis tells WSB an arrest was made just before 5 pm yesterday: “Our detectives did a fantastic job with this case. The arrest warrant was served on the suspect without incident.” We are working to get more details about the arrest, the suspect, and the circumstances of the case, which were all something of a mystery back in May.
ADDED SATURDAY MORNING: Inquiries with police and prosecutors on Friday afternoon didn’t yield much, but overnight we did get a bit of extra information from SW Precinct Lt. Alan Williams, who says the information he could access shows that the suspect (whose name we still don’t know, so we can’t check his/her status through the jail register, and there are way too many people booked for assault/burglary type charges for anyone to stand out as the likely arrestee) “was located in the 1000 block of 4th (Avenue) South and taken into custody without incident.” Because of government closures for the Monday holiday, we don’t expect to be able to get more information before Tuesday.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At the heart of a meeting tonight in Fairmount Springs was not a victim, but a person – a neighbor in the hospital, for reasons not yet understood, fighting to recover from serious injuries she suffered in some kind of attack.
She’s in stable condition, reported neighbors at the meeting’s start. Then at the meeting’s end, a prayer for her physical and emotional recovery was offered, by the pastor of the church where about 50 neighbors gathered.
And the neighbors’ condition was a source of concern too. Don’t be frightened, exhorted police. “It’s not the one who did this that’s the powerful one – you are,” asserted Mark Solomon, the Southwest Precinct‘s Crime Prevention Coordinator.
He spoke along with the top two Seattle Police leaders from the precinct, its commander, Capt. Steve Paulsen, and operations Lt. Pierre Davis. Before the meeting was out, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had offered a few words too.
The gathering at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene was the first major neighborhood meeting since another one sparked by crime concerns a year and a half ago (here’s our report from that night). And as it concluded, neighbors agreed they would like to meet more often – maybe quarterly – though they already are bound by strong Block Watches and a much-used mailing list. But first: What police said tonight about the Sunday morning attack, reported in the 5900 block of 41st SW – ahead: Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: Police brief Fairmount Springs neighbors…
Police have released more information about the case we reported here on Monday, a woman who is in the hospital and told police she was attacked by someone in her Fairmount Springs home. Seattle Police media-unit Det. Mark Jamieson says there is no question the woman was seriously injured – but police do not believe it happened in her home; there is no sign of a struggle or other evidence there indicating an attack. According to the police-report narrative in the case, the original call did not come from the woman’s home; the victim showed up at a neighbor’s house early Sunday morning saying she was “hurt and needed to sleep.” Then the neighbor noticed the woman was clearly injured, and called 911. The victim told police she woke up to find a man in her room; he said nothing but restrained her, then sat on her, and tried to strangle her. She said she fought back, and that she lost consciousness and awoke later to find him gone, at which time she said she managed to get herself free and walked over to her neighbor’s house. Police also confirm they questioned someone yesterday in connection with the case but that no one is currently under arrest. The victim remains at Harborview Medical Center, and because of her condition, Det. Jamieson says, police have been unable to talk more with her yet about what happened and where it happened.
A 64-year-old Fairmount Springs woman is in the hospital today with what police describe as “serious injuries,” after an incident reported to them as a break-in. According to Seattle Police media-response unit Det. Mark Jamieson, the description is cautious because investigators are still trying to sort out what actually happened and how the victim was injured – he says they are not at all sure yet what actually took place, nor is there a description of a potential attacker, nor do they know for sure whether the attack was random or involved a stranger. He says all they do know for sure is that police were called to a home in the 5900 block of 41st SW around 4:30 am Sunday, that a woman is in the hospital with serious injuries, and that detectives are still working the case. When any additional information become available, we will add to the story.
ORIGINAL 10: 31 PM REPORT: If you are north of Morgan Junction or in Fairmount Springs, we’re tracking the police search that’s currently under way. We’re not certain about the incident that triggered it but a K-9 unit is involved in the search too. To our knowledge, it hasn’t involved a violent crime, but scanner traffic indicates the search might involve a suspect who is known to police. (No names in the comments, please, in case that turns out only to be speculation.) More details whenever they’re available.
12:57 AM UPDATE: The suspect whose name we heard on the scanner is in jail as of about half an hour ago, according to the King County Jail Register, and the potential charge is listed as fourth-degree assault, domestic violence. The case isn’t in the online court system yet but if it stays in Municipal Court, it’s an official charge, and we’ll report more later this morning. We had been tracking another case involving this suspect – one in which he was due to return to court next week for a status update.
2:40 PM FRIDAY: The suspect, charged in Municipal Court with assault, is Joel Lund. We last reported on him in March, when a judge allowed him out over prosecutors’ objections, after he was charged in connection with an incident involving a stolen catalytic converter. His next hearing in that case had been slated for April 28th; now he’s in jail awaiting arraignment tomorrow in connection with this new charge.
From Kristin, who encountered this solicitor late this morning:
I just had a guy come to my door claiming to want to wash my carpets. When I said no thanks, he wanted to do my floors or upholstery – one room for free. He had no ID, and forgot to ask until after he was gone. He was on foot – no van anywhere in sight. I’m near Graham and 38th.
(He may have been perfectly legit, but we share these alerts just in case.)
Out of the WSB inbox, from a Fairmount Springs resident who doesn’t want to be identified:
I … wanted to let the community know that yesterday, Sunday, 11/7/10, at about 1:45 pm, two youths drove by our home on the 5900 block of Fauntleroy Way [map] and shot a bb gun at our front window, putting a hole through both panes. A neighbor walking by with her young son and was startled by the sudden POP! She noticed the culprits were driving a gray sedan but was unable to get the license plate number. The police have been notified and a case # was assigned. Please comment here if you have any helpful information or if you hear of any similar unfortunate incidents. Thanks very much, and be safe.
The city’s My Neighborhood map, which catalogs many police responses within a few hours, does confirm a case categorized as “property damage” in that block yesterday afternoon; because the classification is so general, it’s impossible to tell at this point whether there were other similar, recent cases, but we’re checking with police – West Seattle has had past cases of serial BB-gun shooters, with people being hit and hurt.
Eight days after a contentious crowd (WSB story here) asked the King County Wastewater Treatment Division to extend the public process in deciding what to build to reduce Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) at Lowman Beach‘s Murray Pump Station, there’s no indication yet that will happen. So one neighbor has set up a legal fund. Linda Ann Cox e-mailed to announce the fund, saying “I am not convinced that anything will happen unless we can take legal action and MAKE the government stop and listen to the community.” She started the fund with $100, but says they need at least $1,000 to get something going. Community members have voiced displeasure with all three options (detailed here) that the county is evaluating regarding CSO control; all involve underground storage, with some above-ground components: The two least-popular would involve burying a storage tank by either digging up much of Lowman Beach Park, including its tennis court and century-old trees – “restoration” is promised if that is chosen – or forcing residents to leave homes/apartments across the street from the park. Cox says the account is at US Bank and it’s called “Save Lowman Beach Park.” Contributions can be made at US Bank branches or by mailing her a check payable to the fund name, 6523 California Ave SW #228, Seattle, WA 98136. Meantime, we have a message out to KCWTD to ask about the results of their “discussions back at the office” (as explained last week) regarding more public meetings, and will add any update we get here. (Also, the West Seattle Sound Angels website set up by park neighbor Dr. Ron Sterling continues to track community advocacy and information-seeking.) 3:25 PM UPDATE: Just got a call back from KCWTD’s Martha Tuttle. She says there WILL be another community meeting to discuss the data that neighbors have been requesting regarding all the potential CSO-control alternatives, including the ones that were ruled out. No date or location set yet; she says that should be announced next week. FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: Thanks to Amanda for forwarding e-mail sent by the county to its list for those interested in not only the Murray CSO project but also Barton (by the Fauntleroy ferry dock) and two others in the north end – the public comment period has been extended to May 14. The comment form is here.
Three reports to share this time – first one’s a case of watchful neighbors getting a suspect off the street:
Fairmount Springs coalition of Block Watchers (about a hundred on our list) had a success story last week by reporting a local known problem person who had no reason to be in the neighborhood. The ever-vigilant block watch captain on 41st confronted (the man), who had a very dumb reason to be in the neighborhood (Thanksgiving at a vacant house) and reported him to the police. Thanks to SPD, they showed up and arrested (the man), who is now in jail on numerous charges. This guy has been seen lurking in yards and slowly driving his red Merc down alleys in our neighborhood and is suspected of being the source of some local crime.
According to King County Jail Register records, this is the fifth time this year the man’s been in jail – this arrest came just three weeks after his most recent release. He’s being held for alleged failure to appear to face previous charges, including harassment, trespassing and pot possession. Meantime, we have two more reports to share – a car break-in, and suspected casing – those two reports, just ahead: Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: Success story, plus two alerts…
More than 60 people gathered at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene last night to brainstorm, commiserate, and most of all, prepare to fight back against burglaries and car prowls in the greater Fairmount Springs neighborhood – neighborhood organizer and e-mail-list-keeper Paul says his list, approaching 200 members, has grown to include folks in a wide area between The Junction and Morgan Junction. We reported last night on a side discussion at the meeting – how to handle door-to-door solicitors. Now, the main discussion: what can be done to deter crime. Some of it, you’ve heard before; some of it, maybe not. Read on: Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: Fairmount Springs fights back…
Just back from a meeting tonight involving neighbors banding together to fight crime – not a regularly scheduled meeting, but one called by the Fairmount Springs neighborhood, and held at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene (42nd/Juneau). We’ll publish a separate story about crimefighting tips and questions, including answers by Block Watch leaders as well as Community Police Team Officer Ken Mazzuca, but first a short story with a separate topic that came up – always a hot topic here: Door-to-door solicitors. When a meeting attendee asked, “So what’s legal?” deputy city attorney Beth Gappert, who is liaison to the Southwest Precinct and therefore based here in West Seattle, jumped up.
“Residential selling IS legal,” she began, but then went on to very clearly explain the rules that we’ve linked to here, time and time again, though without quite as vivid an explanation. “The company that’s selling is required to have a license. Each employee must have a residential agent’s license. It must be displayed prominently on their clothing. And each employee must have a copy of the company’s business license.”
Sounds easy enough, but Gappert went on to say that she’s checked the records and “only about half a dozen businesses have residential sellers’ licenses in the city – so the vast majority of sellers do NOT have licenses.” That means they’re operating illegally – as is the case if a solicitor of any kind knocks on a door despite a “no soliciting” sign – and, she added, “It is illegal if you ask them to leave and they refuse.” If ANY of those circumstances happen, Gappert stressed – with Officer Mazzuca at her side – “I highly encourage people to call the police over this issue. We know this precinct is going crazy over solicitors. I see the reports. I read about it on (WSB). … Make a report, be willing to testify, so we can prosecute. … Officers in this area are ready to go after them.”
Still got questions/concerns? Come to tomorrow night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting — Gappert is almost always there, as are CPT officers and leaders — 7 pm Tuesday, Southwest Precinct (Delridge/Webster). Meantime, watch for our second story from the meeting, with advice from the police, and neighbor-to-neighbor, on fighting and deterring the crimes we hear about the most these days – burglaries and car prowls.
(April 2008 WSB photo of “Fauntle-rut Way” pothole repairs)
We’re at the Morgan Community Association‘s quarterly meeting at The Kenney, and Liz Ellis from SDOT revealed HUGE news that’s buried in the mayor’s 2009 budget proposal: Money is proposed for repaving Fauntleroy Way next year between Alaska and California — the stretch we once dubbed (and we probably weren’t the first) “Fauntle-rut Way.” It’s the only West Seattle project proposed for the Arterial Asphalt and Concrete Program. You can find it on page 11 of this PDF.
“Open House,” sure, but “Grand Opening” for a mini-cluster of new $400K townhomes (Fauntleroy & Findlay)? Struck us funny, or maybe we’re just giddy from sunshine.
Some kind of accident had Fauntleroy blocked off most of the way between Cali and Alaska when we headed out a bit earlier this morning. Not sure if it’s cleared yet, but wanted to pass this along just in case.
If you frequently drive Fauntleroy northeast of Morgan Junction, you might have noticed a little storefront full of used items, in the lower level of a brick building, with its offerings frequently spilling out onto the parking strip. It’s called “Previously Enjoyed.” On our stroll today, we discovered why those colorful, busy displays haven’t been out lately — a note on the door says “Due to a landlord dispute, we are closed till further notice.” More ominously, very close to that note, there’s a business card from a state revenue agent with a scrawled note telling the store owner he “needs to call” said agent. Hmm.
Well, you knew someplace in Hizzoner’s home turf would make the Dirty Dozen list.
I still say Fauntleroy between California and Alaska is worse.
–The latest edition of the Alki News Beacon just went up a few days ago.
–On the other end of the peninsula, the Fauntleroy Community Association’s spring newsletter is now posted.
–Found an excellent tale of community crime-fighting at the “Fairmount Springs” site.
–The West Seattle Junction site has been bannered “New Site Coming Soon” for months. I know redesigns are tough, but I’ve seen entire skyscrapers go up faster than this.
–Just one week till Colman Pool opens for the summer. If you have never been to this Sound-front city pool, you are missing something spectacular. Excellent swimming bargain, too, since its public swims run up to three hours, three times the maximum swim time for the same price at Southwest Pool and most other indoor facilities.
–Want to re-experience the joy of discovering West Seattle? Check out this blog entry from a new arrival.
Sounds like things are getting a little scary on this side of the peninsula.
First the Fairmount Springs team runs yet another post about a car prowl.
Now the Fauntleroy folks are calling a “community security meeting” after a siege by smash-and-grabbers so brazen, they’re even hitting the church parking lot. Now that’s just evil.
… I’d have one for the people who keep decorating their traffic island along the west side of Fauntleroy, just before the bend into Morgan Junction. It was sparkly for Christmas; now its trees and bushes have heart ornaments for Valentine’s Day. I’m not much into “cute” but I still think they deserve props for creativity that just might make a passing driver or two smile.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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