day : 04/11/2010 15 results

West Seattle High School’s sister-city visitors

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A gathering tonight on Alki marked the end of a 2-week adventure for more than a dozen West Seattle High School students and their families, as well as their new friends from thousands of miles away.

It was the traditional farewell beach fire – s’mores and all – for students visiting WSHS from Seattle’s sister city Nantes, France, in a unique two-part annual exchange program that teacher Douglas Peterman says is the only one of its kind in the city.

WSB visited his classroom earlier this week to meet some of the participating West Seattle and Nantes students, as well as their chaperones and a local host parent. Among the lessons we learned – the real pronunciation of Nantes, and the relevance of an exchange program in a day and age when some say technology has reduced the need to travel. Read on for the story!

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West Seattle Helpline ‘Give the Gift of Warmth and Light’ benefit

That’s West Seattle Helpline executive director Anna Fern (left) with husband Alan Fern (right) and Virginia Pellegrino and Brad Huskinson, during tonight’s fall benefit for the Helpline. Virginia and Brad produced a video that was shown at the benefit (we’re told it’ll be published online within a few days); the event’s theme, “Give the Gift of Warmth and Light.” Certainly a warmer-than-normal evening in a perfect setting, Salty’s on Alki. If you’d like to help Helpline meet the needs of folks in need this holiday season, and beyond, but couldn’t make it to the event – you can donate through the button on the left side of their home page.

South Seattle Community College president @ SW District Council

November 4, 2010 8:51 pm
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 |   Puget Ridge | Southwest District Council | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

(SSCC President Gary Oertli speaks to SW District Council, with SW Precinct Capt. Steve Paulsen and the city Department of Neighborhoods’ Southwest District Coordinator Stan Lock at right)

More from last night’s Southwest District Council meeting: The SWDC, which has long met at South Seattle Community College, got to officially meet its new president, Gary Oertli, a born-and-raised West Seattle native. “West Seattle is a state of mind – diverse, entrepreneurial, innovative – we hope South Seattle Community College reflects that in the same way.” He shared some data points with council members, and you might not know them either:

*More than 15,000 students
*West Seattle and Georgetown campuses, New Holly Park and “Airport University” locations
*Average age: 33
*70 percent of students work part-time or full-time
*Largest program: Its transfer program
*300 students in wine-technology program
*Hundreds in Running Start
*340 international students
*Annual operating budget of $53 million, with 500 employees

The numbers weren’t all rosy; Oertli also talked about the 25 percent budget cuts that community colleges have endured in the past two years, with more to come because of the state’s financial situation, but SSCC is working hard to keep serving people including the “thousands of laid-off workers (who) have turned to community colleges to upgrade their skills,” in addition to other students. And they’re working to expand the 13th Year Promise Scholarship program, with one free year of community college for students at Cleveland High School: “Our goal is to do that for EVERY student at the high schools in our service area.” Finally – they’re reaching out to the West Seattle community for increased partnership, and inviting everyone to find out more about SSCC. One place to start: The next wine-release event for its popular program is coming up November 15th (find out more here).

Happening now: Dine Out to Remember Our Fallen

Look for the red, white and blue balloons all over West Seattle tonight – like the ones outside Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) in our photo – they signify participation in the Dine Out to Remember Our Fallen fundraiser that’s under way right now. Here’s what it’s all about:

In the waiting area for Puerto Vallarta in The Junction, you’ll see that rendering of the police memorial planned for Lakewood, where four officers were gunned down almost a year ago. Tonight’s fundraiser is meant to raise money to bring it closer to reality. Helping lead local efforts, retired Seattle Police Detective Frank Kampsen, director of the Behind the Badge Foundation, and Southwest Precinct Officer Raleigh Evans:

They explained why West Seattle participation is so high:

Meantime, check out this list of participants – get out sometime tonight, and help make the memorial happen. The night’s biggest event will be emceed by Officer Evans: A rock ‘n’ roll jam at Bamboo Bar and Grill on Alki starting at 8 pm. Details here; more later!

West Seattle scenes: Crosswalk countdown; market sign

Two photos from a jaunt out-and-about during this spectacularly sunny afternoon: While we were in The Junction checking on a few things, Michael from Liberty Bell Printing pointed out that the crosswalk signals at Walk-All-Ways have been switched to the increasingly common “countdown” style – so now you know exactly how long you have to scamper diagonally (or otherwise) to the other side. Meantime, in High Point:

Thanks to Jake for sending word that the sign’s up for the market going into a spot on property owned by Hans’ VW at 35th and Graham. We reported on the new market three months ago, when support was being sought for a “change of use” permit to make it possible. We will keep checking to see if we can find out how soon it’s likely to open.

Update: Downtown rescue ending, streets reopen

November 4, 2010 3:44 pm
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 |   Not WS but we're mentioning it anyway | Safety

3:44 PM: Various citywide news sources are going into the details of this more deeply than we will. Suffice it to say if you haven’t already heard: Public-safety personnel have closed off (this is changing rapidly) parts of 3rd, 4th, and 5th near the county courthouse and jail on the south end of downtown; they have been trying to rescue a woman who at least at one point was threatening to jump, and has walked atop the skybridge between the two buildings. The street closures are affecting bus routes as well. We will add information here if anything changes.

(For anyone needing help – 206-461-3222 is the 24-hour Crisis Clinic hotline.)

4:43 PM: Onscene reports via Twitter say the woman has been rescued. Metro alerts say streets are open again and buses returning to normal.

Happening now: City Council considers budget changes

Live right now at The City Council Budget Committee is talking about changes to the mayor’s proposed cuts in the Department of Neighborhoods. Assistants are presenting the proposed changes: First, they re-added a coordinator who was to be cut from the Historic Preservation program; next, came restoration of more than $300,000 that was to be cut from the Neighborhood Matching Fund program. None of this is final until the council votes on its official plan in about two and a half weeks. Still to come: A discussion of possibly canceling the plan to close the Neighborhood Service Center in The Junction and cut the job of its Neighborhood District Coordinator; we’ll continue to add updates here. The full agenda, with supporting documents, is here.

2:16 PM: They are now discussing the Southwest NSC’s fate. The council’s assistant is noting that the location in The Junction is on a month-by-month basis (because of the proposed Conner Homes development, which, she added, may be delayed further – “That hasn’t been moving too quickly,” observed West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen). “And if the development takes place, we’ll have the extra property taxes to fund the new location,” added Council President Richard Conlin cheerily. Now on to the proposed cut of Neighborhood District Coordinators’ jobs (including Stan Lock, who works out of the Southwest NSC in The Junction) – they’re talking about keeping those jobs, but at 80% time, and they want the mayor to explain how neighborhood engagement would play out without these jobs. “This allows us to make a rational policy choice, instead of just sweeping them away,” observed Councilmember Tim Burgess.

2:35 PM UPDATE: They’ve moved on to SDOT – and the first item is about the proposed street-parking changes. Councilmember Jean Godden has suggested she’d like to see the top parking rate be $4 instead of $5.

3:10 PM: Though no official votes are being taken, there seems to be more sentiment about NOT starting paid Sunday parking – studying it as a possible addition later. Councilmember Nick Licata says the public should be “cut a little slack” given they’ll already be asked to start paying for parking all the way till 8 pm on other nights.

4:22 PM: They’re still talking transportation – right now, the proposed increase in the commercial parking tax.

4:45 PM: Today’s meeting is over. Next week, it’s “Round 2,” which means final decisions on changes – so NOTHING is final till then, even items that were well-received in meetings like today.

West Seattle businesses: Sign’s up for soon-to-open Tuscan Tea Room

Thanks to TouchTech SystemsBrian Presser for sharing the photo of the sign going up today. We’re awaiting owner Aimee Pellegrini‘s announcement of the opening date, but it’s clearly very close for her Tuscan Tea Room and Romanza Floral in The Junction, next to the newly opened Wing Dome. We first reported on the new business back in June; Aimee’s been running Romanza Floral for quite some time, but decided to venture into the tea-room business.

West Seattle showcased on HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’ tonight

Thanks to Evan Wilson, who shared that photo after we asked for one when he e-mailed to say tonight’s episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” will feature him and wife Becky: “Our house is here in West Seattle (in the Gatewood neighborhood). All the homes we toured were in WS and we did some filming at Lincoln Park and Bird on a Wire Espresso as well.” Evan also notes they worked with West Seattle-based realtor Todd Williamson. Tonight’s episode is at 10 pm.

Why you should comment on the newest Viaduct/Tunnel report

(WSDOT’s newest animation showing the tunnel plan and other area components)
In the Alaskan Way Viaduct project offices downtown this morning, project leader Ron Paananen led a media briefing meant to underscore the point in our headline – why you should take the time to comment on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the tunnel, officially released a week ago. Much of the discussion centered on the fact project managers believe the tunnel has to carry a toll to raise hundreds of millions of dollars – but, as the SDEIS points out, if the tunnel is tolled, there will be almost as many drivers avoiding it as drivers using it – about 45,000 daily for each. And, according to the summaries handed out at this morning’s briefing, that would affect West Seattle drivers: Not just the obvious effect, the fact that West Seattleites going downtown won’t use the tunnel because it has no exits, but the fact that the “diversion” (tunnel avoidance) will put enough traffic on other streets that it’ll increase the travel time. This morning’s presentation included:

With a tolled bored tunnel, the West Seattle to downtown and Woodland Park to downtown trips’ travel times could be 3 to 4 minutes longer than without tolls.

“No toll” is apparently not an option, but the new report does study three levels of tolling (ranging between $1 and $5 “in 2015 dollars), including one option that would only raise about a fourth of the money. It also notes that the tunnel still puts more traffic on city streets than they carry today, since it is not designed for as much capacity as the current Alaskan Way Viaduct carries – two lines in each direction compared to the current three. So if so many people would avoid the tunnel, how will gridlock be averted? The “potential tools for traffic management” listed at the briefing include:

Fine-tune toll-rate structure throughout the day
City street operations
Transit priority into and through downtown
Pedestrian and bicycle improvements
Manage parking on downtown streets
Seek additional transit funding
Active Traffic Management (ATM)

The state has started to dabble in the latter – variable speed limits, among other things. Meantime, it was asked whether tolls would continue after the loans were paid off; “That’s up to the Legislature to decide,” Paananen replied. Tolling and traffic are just part of what the SDEIS looks at; it also discusses tunnel-construction effects, such as five and a half years of 24/7 construction work with “17 potential staging areas.” But the biggest direct West Seattle effects are those travel times; you will be able to comment, and ask questions, at the public hearing/open house coming up at Madison Middle School, 6:30 pm November 16, and you can also have your say all these different ways. (The links to the entire document, including an “executive summary,” are here.)

West Seattle Thriftway makes history with new city loan program

Just got word that West Seattle Thriftway, an independent, locally owned grocer, is getting a $2 million loan through the National Development Council and the City of Seattle. The announcement from the NDC says its Grow Seattle Fund is loaning Thriftway the money to help it consolidate its debt and “make energy-efficiency upgrades to lighting and refrigeration units, resulting in an annual energy-savings of more than 596,042 kilowatt-hours … enough energy to power 45 single-family homes for an entire year.” The program uses a U.S. Small Business Administration “guarantee program,” according to the announcement, which says this is designed to help small businesses that might otherwise have trouble getting financing. The city says businesses can apply for a Grow Seattle Fund, with qualifications including three years of profitability and a need for $100,000 to $5 million “to help with working capital, equipment purchases, tenant improvements, or energy-efficiency improvements” – there’s more information here.

Mayor plans Town Hall meeting in West Seattle next month

Also from last night’s Southwest District Council meeting, and confirmed by the mayor’s office this morning: Mayor Mike McGinn is coming to West Seattle for a Town Hall meeting, December 2nd at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. More details to come with the formal announcement; the time is expected to be 6-8 pm.

West Seattle holidays: 2 changes this year in The Junction

(Look closely and you’ll see some of the new lighting atop the ArtsWest building)
Exactly one month till this year’s tree-lighting ceremony in The Junction on December 4th – and this year, it’ll be in Junction Plaza Park, instead of the 44th/Alaska parking lot where it’s been held the past few years. (The first year we covered a ceremony for WSB, 2006, it was on the site that’s since become the park!) Meantime, we also learned from West Seattle Junction Association director Susan Melrose at last night’s Southwest District Council meeting that the Junction’s holiday lighting will be different this year – instead of hanging lights in Junction trees, you will find the tops of “Downtown West Seattle” buildings outlined in lights, plus the trademark Junction wreaths will have additional lighting, for a “brighter, more festive experience,” as Melrose puts it. As previously noted, you can also mark your calendar for three Hometown Holidays Sundays in The Junction, December 5th, 12th, and 19th (the 5th is when the West Seattle Volunteer Recognition Awards will be announced – separate from the tree-lighting ceremony this year – nominated someone yet? do it now!). Watch for even more holiday-happenings details to come.

West Seattle Thursday: ‘Dine Out to Remember’; WSHS play; more

November 4, 2010 8:21 am
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 |   West Seattle news | WS miscellaneous

Two events previewed here in recent days are happening tonight. First, “Dine Out to Remember the Fallen,” raising money for the Lakewood Police Memorial, has lots of West Seattle participants, as outlined here (along with specifics on how they are participating – proceeds from food sales, drink sales, both, etc.), and concludes with an all-star jam at 8 pm at Bamboo Bar and Grill on Alki (latest on that here) … Another fundraiser happening tonight: West Seattle Helpline‘s fall benefit, 6 pm, Salty’s on Alki (previewed here last month) … Also tonight, the West Seattle High School Drama Club‘s fall production “12 Angry People” premieres for the first of its six-performance run, 7:30 pm (ticket details and a video clip are part of the preview we published here) … The freeform Ecstatic Dance comes to West Seattle starting tonight, 7:30 pm, VFW Hall – read about it hereYoungstown Cultural Arts Center hosts a special event with teenagers exploring the issue of climate change, 6:30 pm, all invited (full details here) … In The Junction, West Seattle jewelry designer Dave Sheely has a trunk show at knows perfume, 6-9 pm (Facebook event page here), and CAPERS hosts “Girlfriends’ Night Out” with West Seattle author Cynthia Nims signing her new book “Gourmet Game Night (and more), also 6-9 pm … More on the WSB West Seattle Events calendar!

West Seattle holidays: Trim the tree, and help Hi-Yu

November 4, 2010 12:44 am
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 |   Holidays | West Seattle Hi-Yu Festival | West Seattle news

Once again this holiday season – yes, it’s the holiday season, with Thanksgiving just three weeks from today! – the West Seattle Hi-Yu Festival is raising money by selling special ornaments. You can place an order by phone or look for them at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market starting this Sunday, says Hi-Yu Vice President Deena Mahn:

It’s time for West Seattle Hi-Yu’s Annual Ornament Sale!!! This year we have 3 beautiful handmade ornaments to choose from. Each ornament is approximately 7-8 inches long and was designed and created for Hi-Yu by glass artist Zeus Rudner. We met him at this year’s Issaquah Salmon Days parade! The cost of each ornament is $15.00, and will help support this year’s Senior Court Scholarship program, float building and our festival events! They make great gifts for family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coworkers, clients and yourself!! Pre-orders are being taken now with our first shipment coming in mid-November; please call (206) 935-6517 to place your order. Ornaments are also available for purchase from any Hi-Yu member and will also be sold at the Farmers’ Market in November. Thanks for your support!