West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle people http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 03:42:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 West Seattle giving: 8-year-old Joseph’s one-day food drive http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-giving-8-year-old-josephs-one-day-food-drive/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-giving-8-year-old-josephs-one-day-food-drive/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 07:56:11 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=293175

The spirit of giving can start young. These pictures show what 8-year-old Joseph Meats, a third grader at Our Lady of Guadalupe, did this past weekend. His mom Christi Meats explains, “He wanted to do something nice for Thanksgiving and the up and coming holidays so he decided to go door to door and ask for food for the food bank!” So they distributed a flyer to some homes in Admiral and Arbor Heights last Thursday asking that people leave food donations on their doorstep for pickup yesterday.

Today, he brought it all to the West Seattle Food Bank after school.

His mom adds, “His goal is to inspire others so it was fun to watch him succeed in raising awareness as he left his wagon out during the Seahawk game and people kept dropping off food!” (And if you’re inspired – contact the WS Food Bank directly, or keep an eye on our daily calendar previews and Holiday Guide for giving opportunities of all kinds.)

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Memorial tomorrow for Frank Henry Little, 1925-2014 http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/memorial-tomorrow-for-frank-henry-little-1925-2014/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/memorial-tomorrow-for-frank-henry-little-1925-2014/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:09:25 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=293094 A memorial is planned tomorrow at Hope Lutheran Church for Frank H. Little, who died last week. His family shares this remembrance:

Frank Henry Little, 89, stepped into Heaven on November 20th, 2014.

He was born at home in West Seattle to Ed and Hattie Little. He married the love of his life, Lorraine, in 1948, and they were happily married for 66 years. Frank is survived by Lorraine, daughters Sharon (Bob) and Donna (Mark), and son Gordon (Debbie); 7 grandchildren – Chris, Jason, Brian, Curtis, Ryan, Matt, and Nicole; 14 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Ed, Gerald, Bill, and sister Henrietta.

Frank was a master carpenter and gardner, loved to laugh and have fun, and dearly loved time with his family. Always willing to help out friends and family, he truly had a servant’s heart (With a smile). A celebration of his life and funeral service will be held Tuesday, Nov. 25th, at 10 am at Hope Lutheran Church, 4456 42nd Ave SW. Remembrances may be made to the Alzheimer Association.

I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to Heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done – Phil 3:14

We love you and will see you in Heaven :)

(WSB publishes obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

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Aaron’s Kids Swim Program launched with family’s gift to the Y http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/aarons-kids-swim-program-launched-with-familys-gift-to-the-y/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/aarons-kids-swim-program-launched-with-familys-gift-to-the-y/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:55:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292918

(YMCA photo: L-R, Raymond Mann, Kathryn Mann, Allison Wherry, Josh Sutton)
Thanks to the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) for sharing the news that the legacy of a favorite Y staffer will live on, as an endowment started by his family, who presented the launch donation this week (photo above). Here’s the announcement from the Y:

An endowment fund is being established in remembrance of Aaron William Mann. Aaron was an employee and volunteer of the West Seattle YMCA and previously worked at YMCAs in Anchorage and Colorado Springs. During his more than 20 years at the Y, Aaron was a lifeguard, swimming instructor and a teacher of thousands of kids, families and members. More than anything, Aaron enjoyed teaching and being around “his kids,” and had a special gift for turning their hard work into fun. Aaron taught them swimming and water safety skills, along with life skills. Aaron’s Kids Swim Program is intended to honor his memory and continue his loving support of Y kids.

Aaron’s parents, Kathryn and Raymond Mann, are establishing the endowment fund with an initial donation of $20,000. The purpose of the fund is to “Provide scholarships to kids and families for participation in the West Seattle YMCA aquatics programs.” Scholarships will be awarded to kids and families to offset the costs of swim lessons and aquatics activities. Funds may also be use to purchase aquatics equipment, particularly to meet the needs of kids’ swim programs.

The Mann family has also pledged to match the first $10,000 of incoming donations to the fund and to actively solicit continuing donations to the fund, with a first-year goal of a $50,000 endowment. Once established, the program will be managed andadministered by the West Seattle YMCA. All donations will be tax deductible in keeping with the YMCA’s non-profit status.

Thank you to the Mann family for their generous endowment and also for helping us keep Aaron’s spirit of service alive in all of us.

Aaron Mann was just 44 when he died this past June. Contact the Y for information about donating to the new program.

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Memorial on Monday for Army, Air Force veteran Chad Hammond http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/memorial-on-monday-for-army-air-force-veteran-chad-hammond/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/memorial-on-monday-for-army-air-force-veteran-chad-hammond/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 01:08:40 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292892 44-year-old Chad Hammond will be remembered at a funeral with military honors on Monday. His family is sharing this remembrance:

Chad Preston Hammond was born in Gaffney, South Carolina on October 29, 1969. He passed away on October 22, 2014 at his home in West Seattle, just a few days shy of his 45th birthday.

Chad was a retired military veteran, having spent 5 years in the Army and 14 years in the Air Force Reserves. While in the Army, Chad was based out of Fort Lewis and also spent three years overseas in Panama. He worked out of McChord AFB for his Reserve duty. He was activated several times during his time in the Reserves, including time spent supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Chad also held civilian jobs during his time in the Reserves and after his retirement.

Throughout the years, he worked a medical assistant, heavy equipment operator, and a semi-truck driver. Chad loved to do thrilling, adrenaline-pumping activities such as sky-diving, scuba diving, cliff jumping, and dirt bike & motorcycle riding. He also loved sports, and when his sons were younger, he volunteered as an umpire for West Seattle Little League Baseball. Chad was very much loved by his family and friends and is greatly missed. He is survived by his three sons Tyler, Bryce, and Jacob Hammond of West Seattle, his parents Robert and Linda Hammond of Dayton, TX, and his brothers, Kyle Hammond of Flagstaff, Arizona and Justin Hammond of Crawfordville, Florida. There will be a military funeral for Chad on Monday, November 24th at 11:00 AM at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, where he will also be laid to rest.

(WSB publishes obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

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Carrie Akre returns to West Seattle, explores world beyond music http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/carrie-akre-returns-to-west-seattle-explores-the-world-beyond-music/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/carrie-akre-returns-to-west-seattle-explores-the-world-beyond-music/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 03:19:18 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292606

(Photo courtesy Carrie Akre)
By Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Many of Seattle’s talented icons call West Seattle home, from photographer Art Wolfe to Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder. Now another icon has returned to our fold: singer/songwriter Carrie Akre.

If you don’t quite recognize her name, you probably know of the Seattle-based bands she led: Hammerbox, Goodness, or the Rockfords, and you would definitely recognize her voice; soulful and bluesy, but clear as a sunny winter’s day on Puget Sound.

After a break from the music scene and from the West Coast, Carrie returned to West Seattle this year. We sat down with her at the Admiral Bird to discuss the past few years, and what the future holds, professionally, musically, and personally.

Besides writing, playing and singing in bands Akre wrote and produced solo albums including “Invitation” in 2002 and “…Last the Evening” in 2007, efforts that she says left her “burnt crispy” from exhaustion.

“I’m not good about reaching out for help so I became isolated. I didn’t have the right manager and wasn’t clear about knowing what I needed. It takes a lot of emotional stamina to ride the ups and down in this business and I wasn’t taking the time to fuel myself artistically. I finally just sat down and realized I wanted relief and safety.” She also wanted to raise a family, and experience a more-structured lifestyle.

She adds, “I was burnt out on Seattle. I’d lived here for 26 years and felt like I needed something new to escape the history which was a burden rather than a gift at the time. Plus, Seattle was getting more crowded and expensive. We were upside-down on our house, broke, and stressed, so we decided to leave.”

Akre and her husband sold their house in Highland Park and moved with their son to Minneapolis. Their new city “cradled us and we made great friends. It made us closer as a family.”

It was the 10-year anniversary of the music club Neumos that brought Carrie back to Seattle.

A reunion gig with her “Goodness” bandmates in January of this year made Carrie feel that “it was nice to be back in my community—with fans, and other artists. It was time to come home.”

Among other things, “coming home” meant returning to West Seattle: “It’s the only place I was willing to move to in Seattle! I’ve lived everywhere (in the city) and my gut feeling was to live here. It’s a magical little island that contains everything I want or need — killer small businesses and community and parks. I can get away without getting away.”

Having an existing fan base encouraged Akre to pursue performing again; she played the 2014 West Seattle Summer Fest and has multiple upcoming shows. Her event schedule can be found on her website: carrie-akre.com, and includes shows at West Seattle venues.

These shows will help support her latest musical effort, a Kickstarter project, “Single Each Month Club” aimed at funding her while she writes new music.

Asked why she’s developing new music through Kickstarter rather than an established music label, she answered: “With Kickstarter, the project can be small. With labels you may make one penny off each record sale because you have to pay everyone else first. Think about the number of records you have to sell to make money! Also, I don’t want the kind of fame that will affect my family’s life or take anything away from my life.”

Another reason to keep the music projects smaller is so she can develop her vocation as a Life Coach, which she started to explore prior to moving to Minneapolis and developed while working in the corporate world. “I feel like there’s an epidemic of people who feel lost and afraid. If I can be a person to bring transformation and healing to people through classes or music, that’s the job I want!”

Akre is offering a series of “Creative Classes” around West Seattle which she hopes will evolve into a series of workshops with other coaches. Also on tap: developing a podcast featuring a series of interviews with women who are musicians who also have kids.

Asked about memories that stand out from her musical career, Akre answers: “People say to me, ‘Your record saved my life,’ or ‘Your music helped me get through my divorce.’ A mom wrote me a letter that said, ‘You saved my son from killing himself.’ I kept that letter.”

For “Creative Class”-related questions, email Akre at: Carrie.akre@outlook.com

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Friday memorial for Don Knodel, 89, barber-shop owner and more http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/friday-memorial-for-don-knodel-89-barber-shop-owner-and-more/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/friday-memorial-for-don-knodel-89-barber-shop-owner-and-more/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:13:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292559 This Friday afternoon at Forest Lawn, family and friends will gather to say goodbye to Don Knodel. Here’s the remembrance they’re sharing with the community:

In Loving Memory of Don Knodel

It is with great sadness that on 11/11/14 our father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, and friend, passed away. He was the anchor of the Knodel family and will be missed.

Donald Clayton Knodel was born in Chasely, ND and raised in Hurdsfield, ND. He was one of 8 children and lived there until he joined the Navy, where he served in World War II on the USS Howard W. Gilmore. He came home and married Audrey Jean Kelm, his wife of 64 years. Together they took a leap of faith and with their two young children moved from ND, to West Seattle where they lived out the rest of their lives.

Don owned and operated Don’s Barber Shop on California Ave. for 45 years. He was an avid sportsman his whole life, playing baseball and basketball in school, then in the men’s league in ND. Moving to WS he became a regular bowler at the W.S. Bowl, poker player, and was involved with W.S. Little League Baseball as a coach and umpire. He and Audrey were Totems hockey season ticket holders and original Seahawks season ticket holders. Fishing was his true passion with trips to Canada and up at Timberlakes. Don loved having family and friends around him, whether it was playing cards, dancing or just sitting around telling stories and laughing. Lots of laughing….

Preceded in death by his wife Audrey; 3 brothers – Durward, Al, Andy; 2 sisters – Doris and Joyce. He is survived by his children Dwight (Nik), Kath (Kelly), Pam (Tom); grandchildren Erin, Damon, Tyler, Ian, Kaley; 6 great-grandchildren; 2 sisters Opal, Irene; and countless friends and family who will miss, but never forget, him.

Service: 11/21/2014, 2 pm, Forest Lawn Funeral Home (6701 30th SW). Please join us in the celebration of his life at the Knodel residence following the service (4122 41st SW). If you wish, donations to the Alzheimer’s Foundation would be greatly appreciated.

(WSB publishes obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

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Local student Carmen Gray in national cooking contest finals http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/local-student-carmen-gray-in-national-cooking-contest-finals/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/local-student-carmen-gray-in-national-cooking-contest-finals/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 03:11:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292260 Congratulations to Carmen Gray, who is the only Pacific Northwest contender in the final round of a kids’ cooking contest. She and 24 others are in the running for the Ben’s Beginners grand prize – $30,000 for their school cafeteria, and $15,000 for the winner. Carmen is a 4th grader at Fairmount Park Elementary; her family explains that the prize money for the school can be used at its discretion: “Some possible uses are: a learning garden, composting program, and/or healthy food related artwork for the bare walls. As you know, the school is new and while we have all the basics, it is pretty stark in the cafeteria.” The contest sponsors also will present “a hometown celebration with an appearance by NY Chef Marcus Samuelsson.” Carmen entered by making a video for her recipe “Brown Rice Bean Burger” (using the sponsor’s product) and now needs votes to win. You can see her video and vote (no strings attached – you don’t have to sign up for anything, register, or take social-media action) by going here daily until November 26th. Good luck, Carmen!

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Followup: Senior Center of West Seattle’s board meets, one day after ‘stay or go?’ community-comment town halls http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/followup-senior-center-of-west-seattles-board-meets-one-day-after-stay-or-go-community-comment-town-halls/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/followup-senior-center-of-west-seattles-board-meets-one-day-after-stay-or-go-community-comment-town-halls/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:58:18 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291995

Following up on Tuesday’s “town hall” meetings (WSB coverage here) for community comment on whether the Senior Center of West Seattle should go independent or be absorbed into the citywide nonprofit Senior Services – we went to last night’s meeting of the SCWS board, which will ultimately make the choice. Toplines ahead:

We counted about a dozen in attendance; having not covered the center board previously, we don’t know if that’s more or fewer than usual. (Board members, by the way, are listed on the SCWS website here.)

Discussion of the Tuesday meetings began early. Lucinda Getz, who had come forward to organize yesterday’s “Should We Stay or Should We Go?” meetings, spoke first as she had to leave early. Asked about Getz’s background, board president David Robertson said she’s worked with seniors for more than a decade and came forward, met with the board, and volunteered to organize the town halls.

Getz said she had several takeways from the meetings, starting with her primary observation, that no one had talked about the risks involved with either decision, staying or going. She gave several examples from both
sides, first about the loss of funds from Senior Services if independence is chosen, then the loss of trust from the membership and the West Seattle community if the center becomes an SS program. Her largest point was that people in the community have the experience and drive to make something happen and are willing to help, so is the board willing to cast aside that support if they choose to let SS run everything?

Getz also said it’s still very unclear where the root of the problem lies – why this discussion is happening in the first place, what problem is it supposed to be solving.

(SS had mentioned, both in an interview with WSB and on Tuesday, that “funders and auditors” were concerned about accountability questions, with both the center and SS having their own boards.)

Some have brought up the Central Area Senior Center’s problems with independence. Getz noted that it had nowhere near the membership or coverage area of the West Seattle center. And regarding funding, she noted that if the WS center does indeed have $200,000 in the bank, what kind of incentive would Senior Services have to seek more money for WS, vs. their other centers?

Bottom line, she said, she and the community need a lot of help understanding what’s at the heart of this potential change.

Later in the meeting, during the public-comment period, one attendee said she would like to hear each West Seattle board member to state publicly, somewhere, their position on staying or going, for transparency.

Some attendees echoed what one person had said in Tuesday’s first meeting, that they don’t trust Senior Services. One said he hadn’t gleaned much from the meeting about what SS really does for the West Seattle center, so he favors independence.

From the board’s side, president Robertson said he would pursue the suggestion made Tuesday, that a board member should be elected from among the general membership. He also said he would follow up on the idea of a regular board Q/A with members.

Board member Patricia Throop said it was clear the board needs to be more open about what it does, and that its sessions should be publicized any and every way available.

No action was taken on this issue, and none expected; it was explained Tuesday that for now, the board has decided to stay with SS while that agency spends a year (or more) exploring how to go about converting centers to programs and comes up with an official plan.

WHAT’S NEXT? The board will not meet in December, it was announced last night, so its next meeting is the second Wednesday in January – January 14th, 5:30 pm.

SIDE NOTE: If you’re not that familiar with what the center does – check out its November/December newsletter, online.

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Remembering longtime West Seattleite Lori Hobby, 1957-2014 http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/remembering-longtime-west-seattleite-lori-hobby-1957-2014/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/remembering-longtime-west-seattleite-lori-hobby-1957-2014/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:00:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291984 Family and friends are remembering Lori Hobby, who died last week at age 57. Here’s the remembrance they wanted to share with the community:

Lori Lynn Hobby, a born-and-raised West Seattleite, was brought up by parents Ann and Jim Hughes, with siblings Dana, Jimmy, and Steve. She attended Jefferson Elementary, James Madison Middle school, and graduated from West Seattle High School as an Indian.

Married to Doug Hobby, together they raised three wonderful kids, Keith, Anna, and Tim. November 5th, 2014, the two-year battle with breast cancer and liver cancer ended in her beautiful home she made.

A private memorial for Lori will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Saturday, November 15th. Anybody wishing to send flowers, please reconsider donating to your favorite charity instead.

(WSB publishes obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

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2 ‘town halls’ on Senior Center of West Seattle’s future: As-it-happened coverage of #1, full video of #2 http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/happening-now-1st-of-two-town-halls-on-senior-center-of-west-seattles-future/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/happening-now-1st-of-two-town-halls-on-senior-center-of-west-seattles-future/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 23:05:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291778 (MIDNIGHT UPDATE: Right after our as-it-happened coverage of meeting #1, we have added the full unedited video of meeting #2)


We’re at the Senior Center of West Seattle with about 100 people here to hear, and talk, about the center’s future. The issue first came to public light four months ago with the sudden ouster of the center’s longtime director Karen Sisson (as first reported here), who says she was fired over an e-mail (read it in this WSB report) expressing concern about the decision the center is reported to be facing – becoming a “program” of the citywide nonprofit Senior Services, or going independent. We’ll be reporting live as the meeting goes; there is a second session coming up at 5:30 pm for those who cannot be here this early.

Regarding the question “should we stay or should we go,” it’s just been stressed by independent facilitator Charlotte Stuart that “no decision will be made today.” She says they do not want those in attendance to speak about Sisson’s departure.

Her successor, interim center director Lyle Evans, is the first to make an opening statement. Second, board president David Robertson says the board has made a decision “to remain at this time under the current umbrella of Senior Services and to work with Senior Services to fulfill (its) mission … The Senior Center board of directors supports Lyle’s position as interim director” and will work with him.



Senior Services CEO Paula Houston (who fired Sisson) speaks next. “We are very excited that the board has voted to remain with us and to work through the process that we are going to be putting in place.” That would seem to suggest that the first-announced point of the meeting is moot – the question “should we stay or should we go?” – although it came just minutes after the facilitator said “no decision would be made today.” Houston then goes on to say “nothing has been decided … we are just at the beginning of our decision-making process.” We’ll do what we can to get this clarified after the meeting.

One attendee asks Houston to define Senior Services and the center’s relationship with it. “We are a nonprofit … the largest one serving seniors in King County … we also operate (programs such as) Meals on Wheels, caregivers … enhanced fitness. Our relationship to this center is that we operate it under a memorandum of agreement – although the center is its own 501(c)(3) with its own governing body, Senior Services employs the staff, (provides some) funding, and (handles support services) such as IT, payroll …”

3:22 PM: The first member of the audience asks for clarification of that very point. Robertson says “That is not a permanent decision, that is a decision that at this time we are going to stay under the umbrella of Senior Services. There is a task force (that will) study the Memorandum of Agreement … to help develop (a new one). At this time we are staying under that umbrella – I am stressing those words, ‘at this time’. We are looking at a good 12 to 18 months before they have even done their research talking to the various centers and their staff.” (Senior Services runs six centers in the region.)

Nancy Sorensen, a member of the West Seattle center’s board, stands to say she wrote the original contract, ~30 years ago, and offers more background: The center was incorporated in 1972, and bought the building – now owned free and clear – in 1986; the center also has about $200,000 in reserves, she says. She explains the board first voted to secede from Senior Services, then rescinded that decision and decided to gather more information, including talking with the community and looking at budget projections and “whether there is community support for independence or community support for being part of Senior Services.” She summarizes, “the board has decided to remain a part of Senior Services pending further study.”

Will another permanent director be hired? asks another attendee. That’s on hold while the future is determined, is the reply.

Next Q: You all know all about this memorandum – but we don’t – can we see it? Sorensen (photo above) explains that the contract included a statement that the center director could not be determined without consulting the board, and mentions Sisson’s firing (which was supposedly not to be mentioned) was done “in violation of that memorandum of agreement.” She says copies of the six-page memorandum “can be provided.”

Then Doug Garvey steps up and says, “if we choose to go with Senior Services instead of stay independent, what are you going to do for me?”


Houston steps up to reply, “We are going to ensure that this senior center remains a senior center in perpetuity. We know how important this center is to the community.” “How are you going to do that?” someone calls out from the crowd. Garvey steps back up to the mike and says, “We own this building … I gotta say, I don’t trust you. I think we can handle it on our own, that we can be independent … we got a good base here, we got a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we have a lot of great people here who can continue this, and I’m all for that.” Some applause ensues.

Facilitator Stuart next reads a question that was submitted in writing, asking for the advantages and disadvantages of staying with Senior Services. …

Houston said she didn’t know exactly how long the center had been under the SS umbrella. “Right about the time the building was purchased in 1984,” Sorensen says. Houston continues: “The benefits of staying with us .. Right now the staff is part of Senior Services, that means the salaries and benefits all come out of Senior Services. HR is one thing an independent center would have to take care of … There are definitely financial issues that come with being an independent center.” She mentions “the benefits of being with a larger organization” and the fundraising efforts that SS does, some of which benefit the center, which otherwise would have to do all its own fundraising. “You get our advertising – a lot of marketing, a lot of community engagement …”

Another member of the panel, Tim Bridges from Senior Services, says that the center went independent once and then returned to Senior Services, so perhaps someone could offer some backstory.

Regarding employees, Sorensen says they’ve “done a budget analysis for the next three years that would enable the same salaries and comparable benefits” as well as pension/IRA contribution. She says the “vast majority” of funds raised comes from this community, and while it does receive services from Senior Services, the center “pays for those services.” She says the MOA has been “redone over the years” with rights “taken away” from the center, and she mentions “an issue of trust” because of Sisson’s termination.

Bridges retorts that SS pays some benefits and that Senior Services is the “third largest funder” of the center, “after rentals and the thrift store.”

Craig Roberts is next to speak from the audience. He was board president in 1984-1986 “when this center was going through turmoil of the recession” before those years. “We pulled together in 1985 and raised over $1 million … to purchase this building .. I know every tear that was shed at every single board meeting (in those years) … the sweat and tears of this community … no one from downtown gave us money … I would love to see this center remain independent.” He says the MOA as 12 months at a time because Senior Services was chosen as a lifeline “with suspicion .. that suspicion has grown (as SS tries to take over) … I urge this board to remain independent. … (SS) does not know what is best for this community.”

Roberts points to the bingo sign donated by his family (seen below in a WSB photo from its 2011 dedication):

“We raise thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars for this center, and we can keep doing that independently … we don’t need Senior Services of King County to tell us what to do. We can do it ourselves.” Applause. “I urge the board to vote for independence … stop the tactics that are going on with Senior Services … we need to remain independent. I believe with our heart of hearts … (that the community can fund the center).”

Can some questions be asked by e-mail? The Senior Services reps say theirs are on the website. (We’ll find that link shortly.)

3:46 PM: Next to speak is community member Susan Harmon, who mentions her community advocacy has involved fundraising. “One of the things about this that concerns me is the ‘top down’ – that’s not how we operate in West Seattle – we are ‘bottom up’ – we want the voice of the people to be heard.” She says the membership should be meeting and making decisions and instructing the board on what *they* want to have done “and that is the way this has to be handled … any other way is not a way that will work for this community or for that matter any other community.”

Speaking next, audience member John Kennedy, who says he is in the financial-services business and “likes to trace the money.” He said he reviewed Senior Services’ financial reports. He said their report says they received $6 million and passed $6 million back to centers. So, he said, can they have a West Seattle-specific report, and can they trace Older Americans funds down to the center? Bridges says the center does not receive federal funds, and that it is a decision consciously made by the center not to receive governmental funds except for some city money. He says the WS center’s budget is “somewhere in the $400,000 range each year so the money we receive specifically for the Senior Center of West Seattle that comes downtown rather than to (the center) is $30,000 from the United Way,” otherwise, he says, the money they spend on the center is “unrestricted funds that we choose to give to” the center.

Next from the audience, Terry, who says he shows movies here twice a week and says he didn’t realize how great it was until he started coming here a few years ago. He brings up Stop ‘n’ Shop downstairs and its fundraising for the center. He says the “face time” provided by the center is healthy and suggests most people here are sending the message “don’t screw that up.” He also suggests “you’re as sick as your secrets” and asks for transparency – saying he can’t find information on when the board meets. “You don’t want people coming, you don’t want a big huge crowd?” He ends by asking for the personal e-mails of everyone at the table at the head of the room.

Community-dining programs run by the center would stay here, even if the center became an SS program, said Evans in response to a written question. Another written question: “Why does (Senior Services) want the West Seattle building?” Houston replies three times, “We do not want your building … Our task force is looking at models to ensure that you retain your assets. We understand that (you) have put (a lot) into making these buildings your own. Whatever model we come up, we are going to make sure you maintain your assets … I can’t say it any clearer.”

What’s it worth? $4 million is the reply, and Sorensen says, “Senior Services says it would not own the building, but it would become part of (some kind of) trust, and be leased back on a longterm basis.” She says the board meets on the second Wednesday of the month, 5:30 pm at the center. And yes, it’s an open meeting, she says.

Next question – why is Senior Services looking for “a new model”? Houston says she answered that in her opening remarks but will answer it again – “some of our major funders” questioned her about the MOA when she came on board about a year ago. (We asked this question in this prior WSB report.) Auditors asked, too, she said.

4:02 PM: Next audience change – would the Hyde Shuttle service change? No, Houston replies. She is next asked how Senior Services came to be, and offers some backstory involving United Way funding. Who is your boss? she is asked next. Senior Services board chair John Norton, a West Seattleite, she replies. (He apparently is not here.) Houston also clarifies that SS is an independent nonprofit, not a government agency.

Next question is addressed to Bridges: Do all six of the centers that SS runs get the same amount of funding? “No, every senior center does not get the same allowance,” he says, mentioning a formula starting “with a minimum of $40,000″ and goes from there depending on size and success of a center. “So how much do we get?” asks the attendee, “versus, say, Beacon Hill.” Bridges say he thinks it’s about $128,000 for 2015.

Houston is addressed point-blank, did you step outside the agreement in making a personnel decision (the firing of Sisson)? She says she cannot comment. Next question, from West Seattleite Cindi Barker: Why would the building be put in a trust? Houston says, “That’s just one model, nothing has been decided.” She asks Bridges to reply. “It was just one idea we came up with … if the Memorandum of Agreement were to go away, and the Senior Center of West Seattle as a 501c3 organization would cease to be, the assets, something would have to happen to them … The fear is that Senior Services would swoop in, so (we looked at) ways (not to do that).”

He said the trust would mean they couldn’t take a mortgage out on it or sell it, and a board of trustees would still decide about maintenance of the building but wouldn’t be operating the center. “What that does is, that preserves this spot, a prime location in West Seattle, so that this building … stays a senior center in perpetuity. … That’s just one idea that we’re bouncing around, but it’s one idea that gives the community the most leverage over the building.” He said the idea came up in spring, when Houston “said ‘we may need to get rid of the MOA’” because of what auditors said.

Is the building the major sticking point with the memorandum? asks an attendee. “No,” Bridges says, “(it was that) there is no clear line of authority between the (local) board and the Senior Services board, who … could be totally at odds and it would cause us all sorts of problems with our funders and our insurance, and it’s an unsustainable business practice.”

So why hasn’t it been a problem before? asked an attendee. And is it a problem with all the other centers administered by SS?

Houston says the MOAs with all the centers “is being looked at.” And she says they “got new auditors this year,” precipitating the issue. Did the auditors provide recommendations? she was asked. “(No), other than that we needed to look at a different model.” Bridges adds that the taxes for all the centers are filed “under a group return.” He says the IRS wouldn’t allow this method of operation if it started today, would wonder why separate 501c3s were filing under one return, but that it’s been “grandfathered in” until now.

4:17 PM: One attendee reacts to the earlier mention of the United Way by telling a story about experiences at a corporation years earlier, saying it did not support her co-workers. Bridges says “I share your concerns about United Way.” When he arrived, UW was supporting SS with $1.3 million a year, but that’s down to $500,000 of a $16.5 million budget “and will continue to decline,” and about $30,000 of that goes to the West Seattle center.

He’s asked about city funding. About $88,000 a year for the West Seattle center (not included in the money that comes from Senior Services), according to Bridges, but a lot of it is “passthrough federal money” – the city “signs the check,” but the money originates with the feds. Responding to another question, he reiterated that this center “is unique” in not getting much governmental money. How much does SS get for administration? 17 percent of the expenses of each program, Bridges replies. The attendee clarifies, of, for example, $500,000 from United Way, how much does SS take for administration? He says they don’t take it off the top, but rather charge it “on the expenses going out.” The attendee then says it sounds like being a “managing agent” of a condominium, as much as anything.

Next question: Why doesn’t the board take government money? Sorensen says, “The board hasn’t taken any steps toward not accepting government money. … Quite a number of the services, programs provided here are paid for by government grants of one sort or another … they’re marked for (those services), and those would continue regardless. The center here has been successful in the support from the community in terms of growing itself and providing other services beyond what government services have been, so 83 percent of the budget (here) is locally raised in one way or another, whether through facility rentals, donations, other sources.” She reiterated that the building is owned free and clear, “to have this with no debt on it is a huge accomplishment.” She said the total budget for the center is about $650,000 a year (different from the number Bridges mentioned), “from all sorts of sources … there has been no effort in avoiding obtaining money from any source that’s available.”

Karen Sisson’s husband Doug Sisson speaks next. “Senior Services gives this money to the center but hasn’t mentioned that they charge the center $100,000 a year to be part of their organization” and says that the center would be able to apply for more than it can apply for now, because it wouldn’t have conflicts with other centers.

Moderator Stuart is now wrapping up. Sorensen says people could see the 3-year budget projections worked out for the center if it chose to go independent. One person says, “Why do you care if West Seattle opts out?” Houston replies, “We believe that all the senior centers are an important part of our organization and our network. We want to have a presence in West Seattle … and all the parts of the county where our services are. But if this community decides that Senior Services is not an optimal organization to be part of, we are going to continue the services in this community … community dining, enhanced fitness, Meals on Wheels, Hyde Shuttle, it’s going to stay.”

If you have questions and/or want to hear this information firsthand, there is another version of this meeting at 5:30 pm, upstairs at the Senior Center. Meantime, you can send questions/comments to interim director Evans at lylee@seniorservices.org.

–Tracy Record, WSB editor

*************

ADDED MIDNIGHT TUESDAY NIGHT: To cover the second meeting, we recorded it on video in its entirety:

A few toplines from WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand:

*Smaller turnout, about 30 people

*Some questions about how people get onto the West Seattle center’s board. Its president Dave Robertson said people apply, and then the sitting board votes on who to accept. It was suggested that the board should have someone from the general Senior Center membership; another attendee said it worked that way, once. Robertson said the board would be open to that type of change.

*Issues of trust emerged again, with the contention that Karen Sisson’s firing was at the heart of the lack of trust in Senior Services.

*Toward the end of the meeting, there was a direct question about the board’s position on staying or going. Robertson said that right now, the majority of the board wants “more information.” He acknowledged that the board is split right now between wanting to await that information from Senior Services’ task force, and wanting to secede. A majority vote eventually will decide. Robertson said board members had many discussions, including closed-door meetings, about it, and while they’re staying with Senior Services right now, that doesn’t mean they might not eventually decide to go their own way.

(Again, the board’s next meeting is Wednesday at 5:30 pm, and it was confirmed in the first meeting that it’s an open, public meeting, all welcome.)

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Followup: Emily’s misdelivered wedding ring has been found! http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/followup-emilys-misdelivered-wedding-ring-has-been-found/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/followup-emilys-misdelivered-wedding-ring-has-been-found/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 00:54:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291689 On Saturday morning, we published Emily’s plea, trying to find out who might have the package containing her wedding ring, remade for her upcoming 10th anniversary, after its delivery … to the wrong address. No one knew WHICH wrong address. But Emily just sent this happy news:

MY RING HAS BEEN FOUND! The delivery driver went to every house on his route…at this house in particular, they saw the news story and didn’t even realize it was in their screen door. My faith in humanity has been restored :)

Thanks go out to everyone who helped look!

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Next step toward Watton family’s pocket-park gift: Teardown http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/next-step-toward-watton-familys-pocket-park-gift-teardown/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/next-step-toward-watton-familys-pocket-park-gift-teardown/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 17:47:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291632

This isn’t the only house being demolished in West Seattle today, but we’re pretty sure it’s the only one with a backstory like this: It’s the house at 3823 SW Willow in Gatewood that was mentioned here three months ago, as Seattle Parks notified neighbors about the plans to turn it into a pocket park, thanks to a “reserved life estate donation” from George Watton, who lived there with wife DeLayne Watton for more than half a century. He built the house after returning home from World War II and had arranged the donation of the site, plus money to cover demolition, long before his death last year at age 95 (his wife died in 2007). Parks has said that after the site is cleared – today’s teardown follows a long period of more-gentle “deconstruction” – they will embark on site restoration and turf establishment, to be complete by next spring.

P.S. Thanks to Joseph for sharing the photo!

ADDED: And thanks to Ron for this view hours later, as the final wall of the house was brought down:

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Reader report: Words of gratitude for a West Seattle neighbor http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/reader-report-words-of-gratitude-for-a-west-seattle-neighbor/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/reader-report-words-of-gratitude-for-a-west-seattle-neighbor/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 17:09:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291629 A message like this might usually end up in the WSB Forums‘ Rant/Rave section, but it arrived in our inbox, and a Monday morning seemed like the time for some good news. From Kelly:

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to the woman who is currently raking leaves off the sidewalk (which is also the primary bike route in/out of our neighborhood) and the Delridge onramp to the bridge. That street flooded horribly earlier this week because of leaves in the storm grate and was dangerous. The water was almost over the sidewalk. My husband and I were driving by so I couldn’t thank her myself but I hope you’ll share my deep appreciation!

Shared!

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West Seattle weekend scene: American Legion Post 160′s Veterans Day ‘thank you’ dinner http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-weekend-scene-american-legion-post-160s-veterans-day-thank-you-dinner/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-weekend-scene-american-legion-post-160s-veterans-day-thank-you-dinner/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 04:48:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291598

The doors at American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle were open for three hours tonight for those who have served or are serving to come enjoy a free “thank you” dinner, as Veterans Day approaches. In our photo above are Post 160 Commander Keith Hughes and Linda Cox. Dinner was an Italian menu again this year:

Post 160 has one more invitation: Everyone who has served in the U.S. armed forces, or is serving now, is welcome to be a member. The post (3618 SW Alaska) has a general meeting every second Wednesday, 6 pm, which means the next one is coming up in just three days, on November 12th. Questions? E-mail wslegion160@gmail.com or call 206-932-9696.

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Early Veterans Day gift: Volunteer project makes WWII vet’s home safer http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/early-veterans-day-gift-volunteer-project-makes-wwii-vets-home-safer/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/early-veterans-day-gift-volunteer-project-makes-wwii-vets-home-safer/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 05:06:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291511

Three days before Veterans Day, a West Seattle man who served in World War II got an early gift.

Rebuilding Together Seattle, with help from Renewal by Andersen, worked on the Beach Drive home of World War II veteran Elvino Naccarato. Along with fencing, the volunteers worked to build safer stairs and a porch.

They also worked to clean and organize the home, hauling away what they cleaned up as well as debris from work they did.

Kerianne Halpin, a spokesperson for the project, explained, “We want to help someone who helped us through their dedicated service. By making improvements to his home, we will make it safer and more comfortable for Elvino.”

P.S. RTS accepts applications from qualifying homeowners in need. It welcomes volunteers, too.

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