West Seattle, Washington
(Entrance to the building – head of the line – and media area)
10:21 PM: We’re at the King County Administration Building downtown with hundreds of people – both engaged couples and media – looking ahead to 12:01 am, when County Executive Dow Constantine will sign the county’s first licenses for same-sex marriages. It’s a jubilant atmosphere. Whooping and hollering can be heard every few minutes from somewhere down the line. More to come.
10:35 PM: Above are Jason and Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby, West Seattleites who are #84 in line for their license, after 18 years together. Here’s a better shot of the line – and bubbles!
Overhead, there’s now a helicopter. Assuming it’s TV, but not entirely sure. Maybe Guardian One is doing something fun for once. We did see new Sheriff John Urquhart working the line as we arrived just after 10 pm. County staff here tell us as of a few minutes ago, they have 189 couples waiting in line for licenses. Good thing the county put up a canopy for the couples – it’s starting to rain lightly. We’ve ducked just under the overhang on the east edge of the media area.
10:48 PM: You might recognize Marley Blonsky and Whitney Young– also West Seattleites – they have been featured in various publications, and we published their announcement on WSB a while back. They are thrilled beyond belief and are somewhere around #20, according to WSB team members Katie and Torin, who are roving. This group, meantime, is serenading everyone:
At 11:20, those of us who are credentialed to go into the recorder’s office for the signing ceremony at 12:01 will have to go wait in line ourselves – if we go silent for any period of time, check the WSB Twitter account, here.
11:00 PM: One hour to go. People of course are here with signs, like Jeaneane Hill:
The other side of her sign says “for my gay son.” A guy named Scott is handing out buttons in celebration of his sister and her partner – he says they have been together 43 years. The buttons are rainbow colored with the Washington state logo and December 6, 2012.
Meantime, more couples have shown up – 205 now, according to county reps.
11:13 PM: County Councilmember Joe McDermott (with fiancé Michael Culpepper in the foreground at left – McDermott says they’ll marry sometime next year):
More music – a group has just shown up near the door and is singing a spiritual, a cappella. Again, if we can’t get photos on the web once it’s time to go in, check our Twitter feed.
11:43 PM: We’re in the County Recorder’s Office with a media and dignitary crowd. The first couple to get a license, Jane and Pete-e, have arrived for photo ops too:
Others who are in the first licensing group have arrived too. Wider view:
Lots of staging going on – the actual event will start at 11:59, we’re hearing it explained.
11:56 PM: The ceremony starts in one minute – leading up to 12:01 am issuances. The room hushes.
MIDNIGHT: The crowd counted down, as County Executive Constantine, with County Councilmember McDermott at his side – both West Seattleites – paused his speech. All applauded, and yelled HAPPY MARRIAGE! (Added – our clip including that, and the first few license signings:)
12:06 AM: And – the first to be licensed!
Among the couples who have followed – famed writer/editor Dan Savage and partner Terry:
12:11 AM: Wrapping up the ceremonial first round of couples, County Executive Constantine pays tribute to those who went before – to the years it took to get to this point. Applause followed, and then “Let’s go have a party!” (But first, a group photo.)
12:27 AM: Down toward the street level now. Those in line outside are cheering wildly as each licensed couple emerges. (Added video – Jane and Pete-e, greeted like rockstars as they departed, escorted by West Seattleite Anne Levinson, former judge and deputy mayor, a key organizer of the marriage-equality campaign, and of the logistics for this celebratory day:)
2:21 AM: Back at HQ, adding some more of the visuals and info (added the entire midnight-signing-ceremony clip inline). Thanks to Katie Meyer and Torin Record-Sand for assisting with on-the-scene coverage. For continuing coverage, King County’s social-media team is on the beat all night. Just tweeted a few minutes ago:
In 2 hours, we’ve processed 127 licenses and are still ahead of schedule. Estimated wait time for ticket No. 240 is 5am.
— King County, WA (@kcnews) December 6, 2012
Also tweeting: Jason and Shannon, featured earlier in our story:
— Shibaguyz (@Shibaguyz) December 6, 2012
Congratulations to all. We’ll be reviewing more of our photos a bit later this morning to see if there’s more to add. And again, since there’s a waiting period, the weddings don’t start till Sunday.
7:12 AM NOTE: The county is continuing to tweet updates at @kcnews. More than 300 licenses so far.
It might be West Seattle’s smallest community tree, and it won’t have a gala lighting ceremony, but it will be the center of community festivities these next few weeks in Highland Park. Tonight, HP Improvement Club volunteers trimmed the tree at HPIC’s historic headquarters (12th/Holden). Events ahead include the monthly Corner Bar – all ages! – this Friday night and the Highland Park Holiday Bazaar on Saturday – details on both events are here, and you can look them up on the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide page, too.
AAA‘s new West Seattle location has been open for a while at Jefferson Square, but they hadn’t gotten a chance to celebrate until today. AAA had been at the southwest corner of 42nd and Alaska, but had to move over the summer because of the impending Equity Residential development (scheduled to start demolition before the end of this month, as reported here last month). Today’s ribbon-cutting was part of an all-day open house, which also gave the AAA team a chance to show off an aspect of their business you might not know about:
That’s some of the merchandise in the Travel Store – items related to travel, big and small (even just a road trip). AAA also books travel and handles insurance.
(October 2010 WSB photo, taken during meeting @ West Seattle Elementary)
Former Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson has died at the age of 55. While we were at today’s School Board work session (report to come) when the news started circulating, no statement was made there; this has since been e-mailed by the district public-affairs office:
All of us at Seattle Public Schools are saddened to learn of the death today of our former Superintendent, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson.
We are grateful for her years of service to Seattle Public Schools and her efforts during her four-year tenure here to put our students on the path to academic success. The fact that we have seen consistent improvements in student academic achievement is a testament to her leadership.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband Bruce and daughter Maya.
Maya is just 8; she was born when Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was 47. A report from Charleston, South Carolina, where she served as superintendent before her Seattle tenure – trailblazing as that district’s first black and first female superintendent – says she died from lung cancer. It’s been a year and nine months since the school board here – whose president at the time was West Seattleite Steve Sundquist – voted to let her go.
4:53 PM: Breaking this out from the daily transit/traffic tracker again today since it’s a major intersection – the California/Fauntleroy traffic signal in Morgan Junction is having trouble again (thanks to everybody who tipped us on this). Police are again helping direct traffic. We’ll keep an eye out for when it gets fixed; let us know if you see it working again before we’ve reported an update.
6:35 PM UPDATE: As commenters have noted, it’s fixed – just came through on our way back from the School Board work session. We’ll ask SDOT tomorrow if it’s been looked at for a chronic problem.
Two nights till West Seattle’s next tree lighting, and the highest-elevation Christmas tree in the city (about 500′ above sea level) is being readied for the big moment. Passing 35th and Myrtle, we spotted the lights going up on the big tree outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and School, and pulled over to get a quick pic. Everyone’s invited to the 7 pm festivities this Friday night (December 7th), with caroling outside, then more holiday fun inside. Bring canned food for the food drive! (And check out lots more holiday-giving opportunities, and celebrations, and more, on the frequently updated WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide.)
Just so you can’t say you weren’t warned … The other big thing happening at 12:01 am is the new marijuana law, which says a certain amount will be no longer against state law. The federal government, however, has sent the media the following statement to share:
The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington State. The Department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.
So now you know.
Tonight (technically early tomorrow) at one minute past midnight, King County will start granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples – the moment it becomes legal because of last month’s approval of Referendum 74, affirming the Legislature and Governor’s earlier action to make it possible. Ten couples have been chosen to get their licenses first, for a special ceremony in which King County Executive (and West Seattleite) Dow Constantine will sign their licenses – and the first is a West Seattle couple, 77-year-old Jane Abbott Lighty and 85-year-old Pete-e Petersen. They are featured in the video story above, shared by our friends at KIRO TV. Biographical information provided by the county notes that they have been together 35 years and co-founded the Seattle Women’s Chorus; they will get married this Sunday night during the Seattle Men’s Chorus concert at Benaroya Hall. The second couple whose license will be signed have local ties too – Brendon K. Taga and Jesse Page of Vashon Island. The county says Jesse “manages a bank in West Seattle.” WSB will be downtown to cover the historic events as they happen – we’ve already heard from a few local couples who plan to be there to be among the first to get marriage licenses – if you are going to be there too, please consider letting us know so our team can catch up with you! (email@example.com) Thanks, and congratulations to all.
P.S. OutWest Bar is throwing an equality bash on Sunday night, after the first day of legal weddings. Details on this Facebook page.
How might Seattle Public Schools address crowding issues in the two years before BEX IV-funded projects start coming online (assuming voters approve the levy next year)? During a work session (open to the public to observe but not comment) at 4 pm today, the School Board will look at some ideas from district staff. We have a preview, via the slide deck that will be shown to the board – see it here. It details what the district sees as the trouble spots, and lists some “options,” including, for schools in West Seattle:
*Move Highland Park, Schmitz Park, and/or West Seattle Elementaries’ kindergartens to Boren
*Move Schmitz Park 5th graders to Madison Middle School
*Address Denny IMS crowding by adding portables or “reducing choice”
*Address Chief Sealth IHS crowding by adding portables or “reducing available choice seats”
*Other schools are suggested for possible combinations of portables, repurposing prep space as classrooms, etc.
The presentation also notes: “Since BEX IV planning will require boundary changes, boundary changes for 2013-14 are not recommended.” But it does suggest “(adding) West Seattle Elementary attendance area as the GeoZone for K-5 STEM at Boren.”
As reported here last night, 37-year-old Amy Lynn O’Brien is now charged with hit-and-run and second-degree assault in connection with the attack one week ago on two teenage girls across from their school, Chief Sealth International High School – and that she had gotten out of jail shortly after those charges were filed.
This morning, we have a copy of the charging documents from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Asked why O’Brien was allowed out of jail, KCPAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe says that while prosecutors asked that her bail remain at $250,000, a judge granted her request to be freed on “personal recognizance.”
Ahead new details from the charging documents – we’re transcribing them in two installments, and you can read (as of 10:59 am) both, ahead:Read More
(November 24th WSB/WCN photo by Patrick Sand)
The night of the November 24th house fire that killed 71-year-old Peggy Munsen, we heard from her friend Lissa Stephens, who explained she had seen the WSB coverage and went to the scene to tell authorities she knew the victim’s identity – since she wasn’t sure they would be able to reach Ms. Munsen’s out-of-town family. As a result of that, Lissa and her husband wanted to share information to make sure that others could be sure that their families could be reached in case of tragedy or disaster. Here’s their message to you:
A Note to Our Friends and Neighbors of West Seattle and beyond –
Our friend Peggy Munsen passed away tragically from a fire in her home on November 24th. To quote her sister, Kay, “Peggy was a friend to all.” She was a wonderfully sweet and kind lady with a wicked sense of humor and a hearty laugh that could make you laugh; a dear friend who will be greatly missed.
When we first saw the article about the fire on the Blog, all I could think of was “How would they find her sisters to let them know she passed?” and so we (my husband and I) raced over to Peggy’s that night and gave the fire commander the contact information, who then contacted her sister, Kay, of Bremerton.
With Peggy’s passing, it became very apparent to us that very few people would know how to reach our families (all out of town) if such circumstances were to happen to us.
I would like to ask everyone to take a few minutes to really consider the importance of having an emergency contact information sheet. In the last few days I have asked several of my friends “If you perished in a house fire, how would people know how to notify your next-of-kin?” Nobody had a good answer, me included. Our hope is that this small note will get people thinking and taking action to make sure their emergency contact information is in order and with a neighbor, a copy in the freezer or with friends.
Here is a sample template of an emergency contact sheet that is downloadable and alterable to fit your family and circumstances. site.beaniedesigns.com/blog/emergency-contact-sheet-template
There are many samples on the internet, most free. In our case we will also include our pets and any medications.
It is also suggested to put a contact listing in your cell phone titled “ICE” – in-case-of-emergency, with important contact information and phone numbers.
During this busy holiday season please take a few minutes to update your emergency information.
Be grateful for your friends and family who are still with you.
Wishing everyone safe and happy holidays!
Lissa and Bill Stephens
We’re at the King County Courthouse, where 34-year-old Ryan Cox – charged with malicious harassment for an October attack alleged to have been motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation – was scheduled to appear for a competency hearing, that was to follow a mental-health evaluation. Cox was not present as his lawyer just told the judge that the evaluation, to be done at the King County Jail, hasn’t happened yet, but is scheduled for next Monday (December 10th). Assuming that happens, Cox is now rescheduled for the competency hearing – which also was to include his arraignment on the charges – on December 19th. As previously reported, Cox is the man who first made news for arrests in connection with homophobic graffiti vandalism, including cases that were dropped because he was found not competent to stand trial. Cox has been in jail since his arrest in late October.
Busy night last night at Chief Sealth International High School – basketball in the gym, symphonic music in the auditorium. It was the first of two holiday concerts for the West Seattle Community Orchestras – Kim Roy conducting the West Seattle Symphony Orchestra in a concert themed “Russian Holiday.” In our clip, it’s Ralph Vaughan Williams‘ “Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves’. The program also included Tchaikovsky‘s “Nutcracker Suite.” Next Tuesday (6:30 pm December 11th, also at the Sealth auditorium) WSCO’s Debut and Intermediate Orchestras will perform their holiday concert, “Dancin’, Drummin’, and Singin’” – with the latter provided by special guests, the Endolyne Children’s Choir.
Bronté Corbray (#1) led the way with 28 points last night as Chief Sealth International High School‘s boys-varsity basketball team beat Eastside Catholic at home, 56-54. The Seahawks are undefeated – 3-0 on the season. Here’s Trevor Reed (#33) on defense:
Tonight it’s the Sealth girls-varsity team’s turn to play Eastside Catholic, 7:30 pm at home. Both varsity teams will be on the road against Bainbridge this Friday night.
(Live view from the only WS Bridge camera currently in operation; see other cameras on the WSB Traffic page)
6:59 AM: The weather’s quieted down, and nothing out of the ordinary is reported on the roads from/through/to West Seattle so far this morning. For ferry riders: In case you missed the final update last night, the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route IS back to three boats.
8:25 AM: One commenter mentions a construction backup on Avalon – so if you haven’t left yet, you might consider another route, if you can. Since it’s not raining, we have the feeling we’ll see lots of road work today, since multiple projects are still going.
2:45 PM: Metro is warning that Route 21 is being rerouted southbound at 35th and Barton. It’s construction work, says spokesperson Jeff Switzer.
EVENING NOTE: The bus reroute is over. And the Fauntleroy/California signal is broken again.
A memorial is planned tomorrow (Thursday, December 6) at Our Lady of Guadalupe for Peggy Munsen, who died in a fire at her home near 26th and Roxbury a week and a half ago. Here’s a remembrance from her family:
Peggy E. Munsen, 6/16/1941 ~ 11/24/2012
The world will miss Peggy, but she is in God’s hands now. She died unexpectedly from a fire in her home, caused by a spark from a heater.
Her sister, Kay Trepanier, is devastated, as they were as close as close could be. Peggy leaves behind 2 sisters, Kay Trepanier of Bremerton and Mary Munsen of Houston. While Peggy had no children, she was the loving aunt of 8 children, 6 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren, with 3 more on the way.
A memorial fund (Peggy Munsen Memorial Fund) has been set up at Kitsap Credit Union, 360-662-2000 in Bremerton, to help her sister with all the expenses. With this economy, neither Kay nor Peggy had any discretionary funds, and Kay needs help with the overwhelming expenses.
The memorial service will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in West Seattle this Thursday, December 6th, at 1 pm, followed by a memorial reception in the church hall at 2 pm.
A side note: A friend of Ms. Munsen’s learned a lesson that night about making sure authorities will be able to notify your loved ones in case something catastrophic like this happens. She wants to share it with you, and we will publish her open letter later today.