day : 12/04/2016 10 results

WEDNESDAY: Local underwater-robotics trio AMNO & CO. at White House Science Fair!

(2015 AMNO & CO. photo – from left, Nicholas Orndorff, Clara Orndorff, Alex Miller)

Tomorrow morning, you can watch live online as the next White House Science Fair celebrates young achievers from our area – AMNO & CO., the underwater-robotics team of Clara Orndorff, 19; Nicholas Orndorff, 16; and Alex Miller, 17. We’ve reported on their success several times in the past few years – including this international-competition win last summer – but it doesn’t get much bigger than a trip to the White House. AMNO & CO. will be part of President Obama’s sixth and final White House Science Fair starting at 11:15 am our time on Wednesday – see the list of participants from all over the country, here.

Murray Combined Sewer Overflow project by Lowman Beach will be done by year’s end, Fauntleroy Community Association told

First of two reports from tonight’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting, which wrapped up this past hour at the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse:

(Photo courtesy King County Wastewater Treatment Division)

King County Wastewater Treatment Division reps assured FCA that the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project will be done by the end of the year – the county, in fact, they insisted, is “highly motivated” to finish it by then. The facility itself, a million-gallon tank meant to keep most combined-sewer overflow from spilling into Puget Sound, should be operational by early October. That isn’t the end of the project – next fall and winter will bring restoration of Lowman Beach Park, where an underground pump station is undergoing upgrades and where construction trailers and some other project support has been staged; a ribbon-cutting and celebration is expected to happen next spring.

In the far more immediate future, 6,000 homes in the area are about to get a mailer with the final timeline, and you’re invited to an “information session” at the site two weeks from tonight, Tuesday, April 26th, 5 pm-7 pm.

BACKSTORY: After five-plus years of talking and planning, construction began more than 2 1/2 years ago with demolition of the block of residential buildings that had been on what’s now the tank site. When operational, it’s expected to reduce the number of Puget Sound-polluting overflows – which typically happen during major storms – from an average of five a year, to one.

CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Charges filed against suspect arrested after Beach Drive search

Getting followup information on criminal cases often takes a while. This is one example. But now we know a lot more about the suspect arrested on Beach Drive last Wednesday, including where the case stands and how the incident began.


38-year-old Joshua C. Utecht is the man police arrested on Wednesday afternoon, found hiding under a deck/porch, allegedly after crashing a stolen Honda CR-V (described in court documents as having “stolen, swapped plates”) on Atlas Drive and bolting downslope to where he was found with the help of a K-9 team.

Utecht has since been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and reckless driving. He also is being held on a warrant for escaping state Department of Corrections supervision. Court documents say he has been under DOC supervision for eight years, during which time he was found guilty of two robberies and a burglary. He had been under supervision since getting out of prison less than two years ago. And he is a fugitive from Louisiana.

The probable-cause document and police report say this all started with a call to police when a man and woman were seen acting suspiciously earlier Wednesday afternoon in the 6700 block of SW Holly and near 48th and Eddy. An officer arriving in the area spotted a suspicious vehicle in an alley between 47th and 48th, Juneau and Raymond. The officer checked its license-plate number and discovered the plate had been reported stolen. He spotted the woman who had gotten out of the car and yelled at her to get back into it; she just kept walking. Meantime, the car took off, headed northbound “at a high rate of speed” and went down Juneau to where it turns into Atlas, crashing into a garage, car, and pole in the 5900 block. Passengers pointed police to where they said a man had fled the car and headed downslope toward Beach Drive, dropping a folding knife – locked in the open position – as he ran.

Meantime, police discovered the stolen plate – missing since early March – didn’t match the car, whose ID number revealed it to have been stolen in January. After Utecht was found hiding on Beach Drive, he told a sergeant that the car was “borrowed.” He also said the woman who he had left behind in Seaview wasn’t involved in anything bad, while describing himself with an unflattering expletive. His last known address, as listed on the police report, was in the Alki area. He’s being held without bail on the escape charge, while bail for the new charges was set at $30,000. (We also looked up the case related to the escape charge. The “escape” – which, when related to supervision, is more like “not reporting in” – isn’t described, but the case itself traced back to November 2009, with Utecht found in White Center in a car stolen from Beacon Hill, then eluding a King County Sheriff’s Deputy in a high-speed chase, which ended with the car abandoned in Seola Beach and Utecht found by the Guardian One helicopter after running through a ravine and hiding in a shed.)

Last call for West Seattle Junction mural ‘Midnight Call’


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One of the West Seattle Junction’s historic murals is history.

The mural called “Midnight Call” was removed today from the south side of 4711 44th SW.

By the time we noticed the removal work in progress, while passing through The Junction earlier this afternoon, most of it was down already, and a short time later, the remaining panels were gone. The mural by Don Barrie depicted a horse-drawn fire rig leaving a long-ago firehouse nearby, as explained toward the end of this page about some of Barrie’s work.

It was removed with regret, we heard from Mark Swanson, son of the namesake of the building’s main tenant, Don Swanson Insurance, telling us his dad was so proud of the mural. Swanson says the building’s owners are having some exterior work done, and the mural already was rotting – it had to be taken down and couldn’t be saved. As you can see in this photo from five years ago, it was also faded – compare it to the photo below, from the mid-’00s:

(Image Credit: Seattle Online)

While checking into the situation, we noticed vandalism on another mural on the west side of 44th SW, “Press Day” – tagging vandalism in brown paint over its lower-right corner. And that is almost directly across 44th from the “First Duwamish Bridge” mural, which, as first reported here in February, was badly defaced by vandal(s) with black spray paint. The West Seattle Junction Association has continued to work on figuring out whether it can be saved; director Susan Melrose told us today that they have a $5,000 bid for repair work, but no plan yet on how to proceed.

You might be surprised to hear the murals aren’t publicly owned. They were commissioned a quarter-century ago as part of a project that won a national award in 1992, as noted here, but most have deteriorated to some degree, with no central plan for care or preservation. One exception: The parade mural on the side of the Junction Post Office, restored in 2007.

Coincidentally, the West Seattle Art Walk committee had been working on a plan for a walking tour of the murals sometime later this year. Now, there’s one less mural to see.

BIZNOTE: JF Henry sets closing date, urges you to keep supporting local businesses


It’s already been a month since we took that photo of JF Henry Cooking and Dining proprietor Tom Henry putting up the banner for his store’s Retirement Sale – and countdown to closure. At the time, he wasn’t sure when they would close for good, but now the date is set – this Saturday (April 16th) is the sale’s last day, and the store’s last day. As first reported here last month, rather than sell the 31-year-old business, Henry decided to rent out the space; it was announced days later as the new home of the West Seattle branch of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Contacting us with word of the closing date, Tom Henry also shared the message he has posted on the store’s door, which is more than a farewell:

Greetings and Happy Spring!

As we approach our last week here at JF Henry we would again like to sincerely thank you for all the many years of support.

We are truly blessed to have had this opportunity to live, work & raise our family in such an incredible community as West Seattle.

I hope all of us continue to be aware of our responsibilities in supporting our local businesses in West Seattle. We have an amazing selection of stores, restaurants & professional services that are mostly locally owned and operated by our neighbors. I truly believe by choosing to buy locally we all make an incredible difference in the health and prosperity of our business district.

Carol, Betty, Patty & I are looking forward to a lot more time for family, friends & fun. We will continue to live in and love West Seattle! See ya around the neighborhood.

All the Best!

Through the final day on Saturday, JF Henry (4445 California SW) is open 10 am-6 pm daily.

West Seattle Crime Watch: About the police response on 9th SW

(WSB photo)

11:28 AM: Thanks to the person who tipped us about this (text/call 206-293-6302, 24/7): The guns-drawn police response in the 9400 block of 9th SW in south Highland Park is a Bellevue Police case, with Seattle Police assisting. We were told at the scene that it involves a Bellevue warrant related to auto theft. That’s all we know so far, but we’re checking with BPD and will update later if we find out anything more.

6:37 PM: We just heard back from BPD’s public-information officer, who says, “I can confirm that investigators with our Department’s Special Enforcement Team (SET) were in that area investigating a vehicle theft and serving a search warrant on a residence.” Officer Seth Tyler added background on the SET, saying that it “addresses specific types of repeat crimes with an innovative, proactive approach. The team targets prolific, active criminals in an effort to lower the overall rate of reported crime. The team conducts plainclothes surveillance of targeted areas and surveillance of known active criminals and then coordinates with the King County Prosecutor’s Office to ensure that arrested suspects remain in custody. Additionally, SET works frequently with the investigative units of other agencies to help address multijurisdictional offenders.”

ADDED THURSDAY: More info from Bellevue PD – we’re publishing a separate followup.

West Seattle Tuesday: Admiral & Fauntleroy community councils; ‘Math Buddies’; more

Two neighborhood councils meet tonight, and that’s part of what’s on the highlight list:


LOW TIDE: Low enough for a beach walk if you’re able to take a break, -0.8 feet at 3:39 pm, which is a little higher than when we took the photo above at Alki on Monday afternoon.

MATH BUDDIES: Teen volunteers are at West Seattle (Admiral) Library 4-5 pm to play math-related games and activities with K-5 students, Just drop in! (2306 42nd SW)

DREAM DINNERS’ OPEN-HOUSE DEAL: If you’re new to Dream Dinners-West Seattle (WSB sponsor), you have two chances tonight to make three family dinners for half-price ($24.99 total). Sign up here for 5:45 pm or here for 7 pm – both have a few spots open as of this writing. DD-WS is on the east side of outer Jefferson Square. (4701 41st SW, Suite 110)

FAMILY STORY TIME: 7 pm at Delridge Library, bring the kids and enjoy stories, songs, and rhymes with the children’s librarian. (5423 Delridge Way SW)

ADMIRAL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: 7 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral. Agenda highlights are in the preview we published last weekend, from housing to transit. (42nd SW/SW Lander)

FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION: 7 pm at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse (in Room 6B this month). The FCA agenda includes an update on the Lowman Beach pump-station project, vanpool parking, and the future of the publicly owned house by Cove Park. (9131 California SW)

NIGHTLIFE AND MORE … to see what else is up, please check our complete calendar!

Roxhill confirmed for Find It, Fix It event this summer

(WSB photo from last October’s Find It, Fix It walk in Delridge)

At this month’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting – as noted in our coverage last week – we learned Mayor Murray’s Find It, Fix It Community Walks for this year would likely include one in the Roxhill area. Today, that’s just been confirmed. The exact date isn’t set yet, but the mayor’s office just announced this year’s list, and Roxhill is on it for sometime in July. (The first Find It, Fix It walk in West Seattle was in Delridge last October.) Read the full announcement after the jump, including how to get involved in advance:

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FOLLOWUP: Seattle Lutheran robotics team qualifies for world championships

Earlier this month, we shared the news that the Seattle Lutheran High School robotics team, Team SeaBot, was advancing in regional competition. Now the school sends word they’ve qualified for the first time for the FIRST Robotics World Championships later this month in St. Louis, and are raising money to get there:

The team qualified with a rank of 22 of 158 teams in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. The top 30 teams will represent the Pacific Northwest. The St. Louis competition includes teams from across the U.S. and around the world.

Over 400,000 elementary, middle and high-school students are involved in FIRST Robotics activities nationally. For students, FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of athletics with the rigors of technology, math and science resulting in a team of students who learn important skills: STEM skills; branding/marketing their team; teamwork and communication; building and programing; and real-world engineering skills. Students make professional connections with adults who are led by volunteer mentors who give time and talent teaching students valuable skills.

Team SeaBot is one of the oldest continually active teams in Washington State. Each year, in January, the team creates a brand new robot to meet required needs of the year’s competition. Team SeaBot has enjoyed great success in the past and has won several awards; this is the first time they have qualified for the FIRST Robotics World Championship.

SeaBot Robotic Team needs to raise $15,000 to get to the World Championships in St. Louis. If you’d like to help with a donation, please go here. We are excited for this opportunity and grateful for the support of our community.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Spring-break Tuesday

(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)

6:43 AM: Good morning! No incidents in/from West Seattle so far.