West Seattle, Washington
Charges are now filed in a case that’s attracted some national attention because of the defendant’s profession. 36-year-old High Point resident Jess Cliffe is charged with one count of commercial sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly buying sex from a 16-year-old he met online. Cliffe is described as the co-creator of the popular online game Counter-Strike. He’s been mentioned before here on WSB for his work on the website Vintage Seattle, noted when he moved to West Seattle in 2008, as well as volunteer work at what was then Kitty Harbor, mentioned here in 2010.
Charging papers say Cliffe’s arrest follows an investigation dating back to last June, when detectives interviewed a 16-year-old girl who said she “began to use (an online dating site) to meet with men who offered to pay her money to have sex with her.” She identified two men, and one, police say, turned out to be Cliffe. When detectives first met with her, she told them she had discontinued her contacts with him at some point between April and June. She said they made arrangements mostly via texting and that he picked her up at an intersection near her Beacon Hill residence and drove her to his house in High Point. She said they had at least three encounters in which he paid her $300 for an hour, including one in which she said he recorded video without her consent. She said she wasn’t sure he knew her age; he told detectives he thought she was in her early 20s, and they say her profile on the website said she was 18.
After five months of investigation, the documents say, police went to Cliffe’s house last Wednesday; he agreed to meet them an hour later at the Southwest Precinct, where he is reported to have told them he was a user of multiple dating websites, but when shown a photo of his accuser, he initially said he didn’t recognize her. That changed, the charging documents say, after detectives showed him call and text logs they obtained via a search warrant – he said he only had one meeting with her; she mentioned three. When told she was 16, the documents say, he “acted as though he was surprised to learn that before saying that a person has to be 18 years old” to join the dating website, and “immediately began questioning the legal responsibilities of the website for not incorporating an effective system to prevent minors from creating (an) account.” Police subsequently arrested him, and he was booked into King County Jail early Thursday, with his bail set at $150,000 on Friday; he got out Friday night after posting bond. Next step in the case will be arraignment in about two weeks.
If you have, or know, kids/youth at risk of hunger, Seattle Public Library wants to remind you about Kids’ Café – free afterschool meals at High Point (3411 SW Raymond) and South Park (8604 8th Ave. S.) branches every weekday during the school year:
The Seattle Public Library has partnered with Food Lifeline, Boeing and the USDA to bring healthy and kid-friendly foods to three Library locations. Free after school meals will be available for all youth ages 18 and under for the remainder of the school year, through June 22, 2018.
All kids are welcome — no proof of income, address or citizenship is ever required. Kids Café meals are specifically selected to appeal to kids’ notoriously picky palates and to meet their special nutritional guidelines.
Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. Free parking is available at all three locations. No meals during the Library’s holiday closures.
Visit the High Point branch 2:45-3:30 pm weekdays, the South Park branch 3:45-4:15 pm weekdays.
Story and photos by Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Since the first West Seattle tournament for elementary students, in 2013, chess has been proving its benefit in area schools. Now West Seattle Elementary has hosted its first state-qualifying tournament.
The all-day scholastic event today drew 104 participants from schools across the city, including multi-grade teams from Fairmount Park, Lafayette, Alki, Holy Rosary, Genesee Hill, Roxhill, Arbor Heights, and West Seattle elementaries. At the end of the day, Chess Ratings Northwest updated each student’s rating based on performance after five rounds of play. Those who earn high-enough ratings in multiple meets will qualify for the state elementary tournament in April in Pasco, the largest state meet in the country.
West Seattle Elementary introduced chess in 2012. According to teacher Ritchie Garcia, the game of strategy is proving especially helpful for the school’s many English-language learners.
“Chess provides a different way for students who are not yet proficient in English to demonstrate their abilities, especially critical thinking,” he said. “They have the immediate reward of making a smart move and even winning.”
Chess is on the schedule every week in every classroom at the school, plus students can join the after-school chess club.
Given that many West Seattle Elementary families are recent immigrants, only about a dozen students usually have funding to attend a tournament, Garcia explained. “By hosting, our club members were able to compete for free in a rigorous event and we could offer other students a discount on registration.”
From the West Seattle Transportation Coalition:
We survived #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday … but what about #TransportationThursday?
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition November meeting is this Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at Neighborhood House High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW).
We have a great program on tap. Washington State Ferries Senior Planning Manager Ray Deardorf will be there to talk about the ferry system’s future plans and Sound Transit will also be on hand with a high-level view of ST3. Please join us for what promises to be a very informative evening.
This will be our last meeting of the calendar year. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, January 25, 2018.
If you missed WSTC’s last meeting – a special forum about transportation alternatives, particularly for the mobility-challenged – here’s our coverage.
Three reader reports in West Seattle Crime Watch:
STOLEN CAR: Be on the lookout for Robert‘s car:
Our car is a 2013 Chevy Sonic LT hatchback with noticeable bumper stickers.
It was stolen from the parking lot of our apartment at the Overlook at Westridge on 600 SW Kenyon St between 6:30 and 9 PM last night 11/17. The police incident # is 17-426990. License plate # ANU8386.
Call 911 if you see it.
ROCK THROWN THROUGH WINDOW: This also happened in Highland Park, near 12th/Thistle:
Around 10:30 pm (Wednesday, November 15th), 3 boys walked past our house, threw a rock, broke our bay window, and ran away.
Luckily, no one was injured. The victim has security video and has filed a police report – the number is 17-910494.
HEAVY-LIFTING BACKYARD THEFT ATTEMPT: From Christopher in High Point:
Our back porch light went out and I hadn’t had the time to replace it for about a week or two – in the meantime someone (last night 11/17/17) went into our backyard and tried to steal my BBQ. It’s a green egg so they could not do it (it’s ceramic and weighs over 200 lbs). The reason I know it happened yesterday sometime is that I was in my backyard before work about 8:30am on 11/17 and everything was in order. I woke up this morning to find the following:
Moral of the story – keep your porch lights on and if your BBQ doesn’t weigh > 200lbs like mine then lock it down.
P.S. Another reminder that the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets Tuesday, 7 pm at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster) – if you have a neighborhood crime concern/question, bring it so you can ask about it.
The painted pumpkins are guarding the treats at the Forest Lawn Cemetery and Funeral Home (WSB sponsor) Fall Festival, on until 3 pm on this sunny afternoon. The main attraction: A horse-drawn carriage for hayrides:
Forest Lawn fall festival until 3 pm. Free rides from parking lot at 6701 30th SW, circling cemetery across the street. pic.twitter.com/4WKqGE7P8x
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) October 15, 2017
The rides are looping around the cemetery, but the carriage is loading outside the Forest Lawn building at 6701 30th SW, steps away from the treats (including caramel apples and popcorn) and beverages. All free!
A week of crosstown competition between Chief Sealth International High School and West Seattle High School teams continued this afternoon with soccer at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point. The Seahawks were the home team.
The visitors dominated the game, and the Wildcats went away with their first win (after two draws), 8-1.
Thousands of students in our area went back to school today – but before the day began at West Seattle Elementary, staff and supporters literally rolled out the red carpet, subsequently lined with cheering fans:
This smile-inducing scene from early this morning was the second annual “Be There” rally at WSES.
Taking inspiration from an event back East, community members were invited to show their support with high-fives for the arriving students:
It’s an exciting start to the year not only for WSES’s students but also for the school’s second-year principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers:
Again this year, we spotted our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold in the “Be There” crowd:
(P.S. She has a community Q&A at tonight’s Southwest District Council meeting.)
Anything cool at YOUR school, today or beyond, please let us know so we can share the news!
2:56 PM: Sorry this took a while, and thanks for all the calls and texts about the helicopter search in the High Point area. We finally found police on the ground to ask – on our second trip to the precinct: A medic call just before 2 pm near Neighborhood House High Point was for a pedestrian hit by a hit-run driver. Police were looking for what was described as a male driver in a silver SUV. Hasn’t been found yet. The victim was not seriously hurt, so far as we know – they weren’t transported by Seattle Fire medic unit – but we’re confirming with SFD.
5:16 PM: SFD says the victim was a boy, “approximately” 13, taken to the hospital by private ambulance in stable condition.
What better way to let your kids learn about bees and their vital role in our ecosystem, than by taking them to the West Seattle Bee Garden for Kids’ Day, presented by the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association? Above, you can watch the bees without getting too close. Earlier, it was story time:
Art activities are keeping other young visitors busy:
And the grownup visitors might be interested in buying honey to support the nonprofit PSBA:
The event’s on until 2 pm. The WS Bee Garden is on the north end of High Point Commons Park – scroll down this page for a map.
Less than three weeks until school starts. Here’s a way to help local students succeed this school year:
The Seattle Public Library is seeking Homework Help volunteers who have a passion for helping elementary, middle, and high school students learn and succeed in school.
Homework Help volunteers support students’ academic success by helping them develop literacy and mathematics skills, understand homework assignments, and prepare for college. Volunteers coach students in all academic subjects and may also specialize in college-prep subjects.
Most of the students are first-generation Americans who speak a language other than English at home. Volunteers will interact with children and teens in small groups and individually. A volunteer commitment throughout the school year is requested. Those volunteers who have variable job and/or school schedules can be scheduled as substitute Homework Helpers at least twice a month.
Eleven branches – including, in our area, High Point and South Park – will offer homework tutoring, reading support, and educational games September 11th through June 14th. South Park is particularly in need of bilingual volunteers who speak Spanish. Find out more about the program here; if you’re interested in an application packet, contact SPL volunteer-services coordinator Anne Vedella at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 25th.
Just in case you heard all the sirens a short time ago and wondered – what was a relatively sizable Seattle Fire dispatch to the 3000 block of SW Raymond in High Point was downsized quickly when a kitchen fire (according to radio communication) turned out to be nothing more than that. One engine was kept on the call.
P.S. Likely unrelated but we also got a text asking about a burning smell in the Admiral area. No other fire calls working anywhere in the city right now, so that one’s a mystery.
Another sign of summer! It’s the first weekly Farm Stand day at High Point Market Garden (32nd SW/SW Juneau). Every Wednesday, 4-7 pm, through September 27th, you can buy organic produce grown by local residents at the mini-farm that’s steps from the stand:
As announced by the city Department of Neighborhoods, which oversees the program, the farm stand (one of two in the city – the other is at NewHolly) accepts EBT cards and participates in Fresh Bucks, “which doubles consumers’ first $10 spent on the card.” Also, ROAR is at the stand again this year; it “sells produce to neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food.”
2:20 PM: You’ll want to avoid 34th/35th/Morgan for a while – there’s a police search under way, K-9 included. We’re headed over to find out more.
2:32 PM: The intersection is not affected – police are in nearby parking lots including the gas station/minimart on the northeast corner. They tell us that two people bolted out of a stolen car that’s currently by the pumps, and that’s who they’re looking for. Adding a photo.
2:41 PM: One suspect has been taken into custody.
2:50 PM: Police tell us the suspect arrested is the person they believe was driving the stolen car.
New information just in from Seattle Police on the High Point gunfire mentioned here Sunday afternoon. Though no victim was found after police arrived at the scene at 35th/Morgan, SPD says that about half an hour after the gunfire was reported, “dispatch notified officers a 20-year-old male was dropped off at Harborview Medical Center with a non life-threatening gunshot wound to the leg. The victim reported he was putting gas in his car … when he heard multiple gunshots, one of which struck him.” Police found “multiple shell casings and other possible evidence” and say that witnesses described “two possible suspects, one a female in her 20’s with blonde hair and a male in his late 20’s with dreadlocks, possibly firing shots at a silver sedan that was last seen speeding away from the scene.”
One more highlight from the big, bright weekend just past – 5 scenes from one of its biggest events, the fifth annual West Seattle Bee Festival! Co-organizer Karen Berge shared the photos. Above, that’s the hive demonstration with Lauren Englund, founder of the West Seattle Bee Garden, who first shared her dream here on WSB five years ago. The biggest bee at the festival was human-made:
The Big Bee led the kids-and-pets parade, a collaboration with High Point’s Vietnamese community, with coordination by Seattle Housing Authority‘s Thu Thai Duong.
The festival’s main organizer Deborah Vandermar, meantime, was instrumental in organizing a new activity – Pop-Up Sewing, inside Neighborhood House High Point:
Back outdoors, the Plant Swap “was amazing this year,” Karen reports. There are leftovers – if you are interested in free plants, they were left next to the bee enclosure in the Bee Garden and are yours for the taking, she says. And from the vendor and community-resource fair, West Seattle Be Prepared made preparedness education fun:
That’s Cindi Barker and the “Wheel of Misfortune.” So many more participants – you just had to be there! If you missed it, maybe next year … the sixth annual West Seattle Bee Festival is already taking shape. And you can visit the Bee Garden any time, on the north side of High Point Commons Park (here’s a map).
Thanks for the tips. Multiple people reported hearing gunfire near 35th and Morgan in High Point, and now police have Morgan blocked off east of 35th as they investigate. No victims reported; we don’t know yet what if any evidence of gunfire they’ve found.
The first major festival of spring/summer is almost here! The West Seattle Bee Festival will turn High Point Commons Park and vicinity – including the West Seattle Bee Garden itself – into a hive of activity on Saturday starting at 10 am (after the 8:30 am Honey Run). In the top photo, that’s one of the organizers, Deborah Vandermar from the High Point Open Spaces Association, after she and co-organizer Karen Berge (who took the picture) put up the banner at Walking on Logs along the southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge.
A special aspect of the Bee Festival is that it’s educational as well as fun. Toward that end, don’t miss the hive demonstration at the Bee Garden on the north end of the park at noon. Yes, there are bees at the Bee Garden, and the woman whose dream it was, Lauren Englund, is their keeper. If the weather’s truly good on Saturday, she might even do a second demonstration, Karen tells us.
When you’re there, don’t miss what’s happening inside Neighborhood House High Point, on the south end of the park. Art and science activities for kids start with costume-making at 10 am for the parade at 11 am; artists Hosanna Tekle and Ellen Rivers will work with parade participants on costumes, and then host art activities in the afternoon. Also inside, Karen adds, “Non-kids can learn how to build a house for Mason Bees or bring favorite clothing items to Pop-Up Sewing and learn to repair them.” Deborah’s putting that together, Karen says, adding that Seattle Housing Authority‘s Asmeret Habte has been working on music, activities, and food – the latter is highlighted by a noon-1:30 pm international-finger-food buffet.
Environmental sustainability and organic gardening are big focuses too, and Karen has been organizing the Vendor Fair (11 am-2 pm) with participants from those areas, including the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, Honeybee Conservancy, Tilth Alliance, Camp Long naturalists, Rent Mason Bees, P-Patch program, mobile farm stand ROAR, Nature Stewards/Weed Warriors, six businesses with bee-related products, and community-resource organizations including the West Seattle Timebank, West Seattle Food Bank, West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network, West Seattle Be Prepared, Nature Consortium, Neighborcare Health, SHA Family Self-Sufficiency Program … plus the Seattle Police Department (until ~12:30) and Seattle Fire Department (starting ~12:30) are planning to stop by.
The plant/seed/tool swap is on for 11 am-2 pm, too; if you have more flower/vegetable starts than you can use, bring them to the festival, along with extra seeds, garden tools, or related books. Here’s an overview of how the festival will be laid out:
Find even more festival information online, here!
By Talajah Williams, student reporter
Special to West Seattle Blog
For the first time since introducing chess in 2012, West Seattle Elementary had five students who earned the right to compete at the state level.
Only two students qualified in past years.
This year, those five third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students played in the 2017 Washington State Elementary and Middle School Chess Championships on April 29th in Tacoma. Although they did not bring home top trophies, they did their school proud.
All played five matches; one won three out of five and two won two out of five.
Competition was stiff. A hundred schools from throughout the state were represented by more than 1,000 students. Other West Seattle schools at the tourney were Fairmount Park Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, Pathfinder K-8, and Madison Middle School.
“We strive to provide different avenues of success for our students, especially those whose rudimentary grasp of English makes success on state tests a steep challenge,” said Ritchie Garcia, who’s in his first year running the program for second through fifth grades. He also coaches the 45-member after-school chess club.
“With chess, no language barrier inhibits bright minds from excelling.” he added. “Even those lacking English proficiency can have the immediate reward of being able to demonstrate their intelligence and critical-thinking skills.”
The five students qualified for state by winning at least three local competitions. Every win is announced on Husky News, the school’s TV show, and during an assembly. Trophies are beginning to fill cases outside the school office.
Just this school year, fourth grader Sabrina Ali decided to give chess a try after seeing the enthusiasm of other students and Garcia’s skill as the coach. She found she liked it – and proved she was good enough to go to state. She overcame a case of nerves to face five opponents on the floor of Tacoma’s convention center.
“Even if students don’t win, chess prepares them for life,” said Garcia, “because it helps them think critically about the decisions they make.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Judy Pickens for the first tip about this achievement and coordinating making the student-written report and coach photos available. And congratulations to all!
10:46 AM: If you’re wondering about the police response along 32nd SW in south High Point – it’s a standoff with someone we are told is a suspect in a domestic-violence-related incident. No word of any injuries. But avoid 32nd for a few blocks south of Morgan until this is resolved. More to come.
11:01 AM: We’re trying to verify this, but it appears the situation is winding down. Our photographer saw one person taken into custody and officers subsequently went into the residence to be sure no one else was inside (and have already emerged).
11:09 AM: It’s over and the street’s reopening.
(WSB file photo: West Seattle Bee Festival parade participants)
We’re continuing to count down to more of West Seattle’s awesome spring and summer events, and we are now just 3 weeks away from this year’s West Seattle Bee Festival, 10 am-3 pm Saturday, May 20th, at High Point Commons Park, home of the West Seattle Bee Garden, just north of HP Neighborhood House at 6400 Sylvan Way SW.
Before the festival, you’re invited to be part of the Honey Run at 8:30 am:
The Honey Run is a free, informal, fun run for all ages that takes place at High Point Commons Park. One lap around the park is 1K. Runners compete to see how many laps they can do, and in how short a time. The earlier start time will allow runners or walkers time to do more laps – last year, the parade was on their heels on the same course.
The kids’ and pets’ parade is at 11 am, after an hour of getting ready – face painting, dressing up as bees and flowers, etc. It will be led by the Big Bee, which organizers explain is “a huge puppet and drum inspired by the traditional dragon dance from Asia. The High Point Vietnamese community designed, built and will operate this exciting spectacle!”
Other West Seattle Bee Festival features:
*See, and learn more about, bees, with Puget Sound Beekeepers. Find out how you can help bees survive and thrive. (Hive demo at noon!)
*Music and food
*Street fair showcasing businesses, community groups, and organizations focusing on environmental sustainability, providing community resources, and/or helping support bees. The fair also includes a Plant/Seed/Tool Swap again this year – “bring your excess plants, seeds, or tools … and take home what you find!” It’ll be near the north end of the fair, which runs 11 am-2 pm.
*Unusual pollinators, presented by Woodland Park Zoo noon-2 pm (above, Jungle Nymph photographed last year)
*Art activities for kids with artist Kimisha Turner
Watch the Bee Festival webpage as the festival gets closer!
After our drippy winter and early spring – the sun was out in full force for this morning’s egg hunts. We photographed some of the younger egg-hunters at High Point Community Center – as they looked around the play equipment, and on the tennis court:
Egg-hunting equipment has gone far beyond Easter baskets – this young participant had a unique tote:
More egg-hunt coverage to come.