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SCHOOLS: Vashon Island SD still accepting non-resident applications

With a month left in the school year, many are looking ahead to next year. In addition to Seattle Public Schools, West Seattle has public-school students in neighboring districts, primarily Highline to the south and Vashon Island to the west. VISD’s superintendent Dr. Slade McSheehy asked us to publish this reminder for any family interested in their district:

Did you know that the Vashon Island School District is currently accepting non-resident applications for students in grades K-12? This is a wonderful opportunity for families in our neighboring communities to become part of an exceptional school district. At Vashon Island School District, we take pride in small school environments where every student is not just a name on a roster, but welcomed, known, and treasured.

Join over 200+ students, K-12, who commute daily to be a part of our close-knit island community.

Apply for admission using the VISD Non-Resident Student application, Non-Resident Application

Questions, forms, and other information can be received for each school from the following people:

Chautauqua Elementary: Caleb Johns, CES Registrar – 206-463-8540

McMurray Middle School: Kelly Murphy, McM Registrar – 206-463-9168

Vashon High School: Deb Franson, VHS Registrar – 206-463-8684

Choice Transfers, District Contact: Kareem Greenidge – 206-463-8530

In case you wondered too: Dark smoke to the south

From the ‘in case you wondered too’ file: Jamie sent the photo, wondering about the plume of dark smoke visible in the south, as seen from the Genesee Hill vicinity. We found a callout indicating that South King County firefighters are responding to a residential fire in the 2100 block of SW 162nd in Burien [map].

BIZNOTE: Miss Kamei Japanese Restaurant? Here’s where to find it now

Two years after closing in the West Seattle Junction, the owners of Kamei Japanese Restaurant have justopened a new location in Tacoma. They contacted us today to ask us to share that news with their West Seattle fans. They sent a few photos, too.

You’ll find Kamei Sushi Restaurant at 10435 Pacific Avenue South in Tacoma, Tuesdays-Sundays 11 am-2:30 pm for lunch and 4:30-8:30 pm for dinner. It opened earlier this month. (The West Seattle building that replaced the former locations of Kamei and Lee’s Asian restaurants, at 4508 California SW, is nearing completion, but its commercial space will be taken by an urgent-care clinic, as we reported in December.)

In case you wondered too: Here’s why all those King County Sheriff’s Office vehicles were ferrying to/from Vashon

Several readers asked about a major sighting of police vehicles in the Fauntleroy ferry dock vicinity in the past few hours. They were King County Sheriff’s Office vehicles, including SWAT, heading to/from Vashon Island, and a story from the Vashon Beachcomber explains why: An incident on Cove Road [map] involving a domestic-violence suspect. The Beachcomber reports that the suspect is in custody.

SCHOOLS: Vashon Island district invites non-islanders to apply

Midway through the 2023-2024 school year, families are finalizing their plans for 2024-2025. So we’ve been showcasing open houses and tours for various West Seattle schools of all types. A nearby district is raising its hand for your consideration, too. Vashon Island School District superintendent Dr. Slade McSheehy asked us to share this announcement with you:

Vashon Island School District Still Accepting Non-Resident Applications

(Photo courtesy Vashon Island SD)

Did you know that the Vashon Island School District is currently accepting non-resident applications for students in grades K-12? This is a wonderful opportunity for families in our neighboring communities to become part of an exceptional school district.

At Vashon Island School District, we take pride in small school environments where every student is not just a name on a roster, but welcomed, known, and treasured.

Join over 200+ students, K-12, who commute daily to be a part of our close-knit island community.

Apply for admission using the VISD Non-Resident Student application, Non-Resident Application

Questions, forms, and other information can be received for each school from the following people:

Chautauqua Elementary: Caleb Johns, CES Registrar- 206-463-8540
McMurray Middle School: Kelly Murphy, McM Registrar – 206-463-9168
Vashon High School: Deb Franson, VHS Registrar – 206-463-8684
Choice Transfers, District Contact: Kareem Greenidge – 206-463-8530

We asked the superintendent for a few more specifics about their current “commuter” student population: “We have 257 off-island students who commute. Approximately 25-30 are from Southworth and the remainder from Fauntleroy. Approximately 25 are K-5 with the remainder grades 6-12.” The total district enrollment is just over 1,500, so that means one in six students is from off-island.

FOLLOWUP: Jury acquits defendant in deadly SODO shooting of West Seattle man

We’re continuing to go through court files of cases we hadn’t checked in a while, and found another one has been resolved – the shooting death of a West Seattle man near the SODO Costco store in July 2022.

68-year-old Bob Jensen, described by friends as a longtime West Seattleite, was shot and killed after getting out of his vehicle on 4th Avenue South to confront a driver who reportedly refused to let him merge at a spot where two lanes narrowed to one. Police said the man who shot him, then-38-year-old Angel A. Valderrama of Kirkland, told police he shot Mr. Jensen because he was holding something that might have been a weapon. None was found on Mr. Jensen’s person or in his pickup. Valderrama was not arrested at the time but was charged with second-degree murder a month later. Court documents show that Valderrama was found not guilty by a King County Superior Court jury last month, after a trial that lasted less than two weeks. Jurors had the option to convict him of manslaughter but found him not guilty of that too; the trial minutes show they deliberated for a day and a half. Jurors also had to decide an extra issue, whether the defendant proved that the use of force was lawful; a “yes” verdict would have entitled him to compensation for lost wages while jailed. The jury’s decision was “no.”

UPDATE: Fireworks off Bainbridge Island startle thousands

(Added: Photo sent by Shawn)

9:35 PM: There’s one heck of a fireworks show under way – according to the peek we could get from the end of our street, looks like it’s off south Bainbridge Island. Trying to find out whose!

9:44 PM: On Twitter/X, @westseawx unearthed an announcement from the Bainbridge Island Fire Department that there would be a “private fireworks show” tonight.

(Added: Photo by John Skerratt)

9:54 PM: The BIFD announcement said it would be “south of” the island and out of their jurisdiction, but within the Coast Guard’s jurisdiction.

10:05 PM: The BIFD announcement, and a KUOW story some have linked in comments, note that there was a similar show on the corresponding third Saturday night in September last year. We just checked our archives and it got only a fleeting mention because at that moment on that night (9/17/22) the West Seattle Bridge had just reopened.

10:23 PM: The dogs in our neighborhood are still barking. … We checked the latest Coast Guard Notice to Mariners, but it gave no hint of fireworks – the notation was just “Private Party, 2130-2200, IVO (in vicinity of) Blake Island.”

11:10 PM: For comparison, 10 years ago there was a private fireworks show off a barge off Beach Drive. The local company producing the celebration that included the show circulated an alert three weeks ahead of time.

SUNDAY EVENING: The Seattle Times identifies the fireworks company involved, and the various goverment agencies nominally involved, but still no enlightenment as to who the show was for and why.

About the dark smoke visible from downtown

5:10 PM: A texter sent that photo as several other readers were asking if we knew anything about that dark smoke from downtown. It’s a fire response logged to Fairview and Mercer, in the South Lake Union area, just re-coded on the 911 log to “encampment fire.” Firefighters are still working to extinguish it, according to radio exchanges.

6:06 PM: SFD says the fire is under control and that no one was hurt.

ADDED TUESDAY: Regional media has long since picked up on this – our initial basic item was published because they were slow on the uptake and we were getting lots of questions. But for the record, here’s the SPD report summary posted today:

At 1654 hours, officers responded to assist SFD with a fire that occurred in an encampment located near Minor Ave N / Mercer St. The encampment was in a vacant lot near an apartment building. SFD put the fire out before it could damage the apartment building. No one was in the encampment during the fire and the only losses were tent structures and personal property inside the encampment and plant life. Witnesses described a suspect who may have started the fire. Officers located that suspect in the area. The suspect provided information indicating that he lived in the encampment and accidentally started the fire. The suspect was taken into custody for Reckless Burning 1st degree.

UPDATE: About that dark plume of smoke across Puget Sound

10:17 AM: Thanks to everyone who sent pics/questions after a large, dark plume of smoke started billowing from Bainbridge Island. According to an alert from Bainbridge Island city government, it’s from a “working structure fire” in the Falk Road area (map). No other details.

12:42 PM: The Kitsap Sun has since published a story saying the fire was at a two-story house and is blamed on oil-soaked rags.

Wonder Camp in the San Juans: New WSB sponsor

July 12, 2023 9:04 pm
|    Comments Off on Wonder Camp in the San Juans: New WSB sponsor
 |   Not WS but we're mentioning it anyway | West Seattle news

Summer camp isn’t just for kids – and it’s not just in the neighborhood. Want to get away? Wonder Camp in the San Juans is sponsoring WSB right now to let you know what you can experience there:

Come out to the San Juans to enjoy the lakes, mountains and forests – plus explore your creativity at Wonder Camp in Moran State Park.

Family Camp is August 5-8 with 3-night lodging and meals. Sing, strum, drum, play, dance, read poetry and learn directly from island creatives. Wonder Camp is the perfect chance to take a dive into creative arts and the natural world. Campers can also choose from indigo dyeing, blacksmithing, painting, drawing, and wildcrafted body-care-product-making classes. Guided field walks include herbalism, mushroom ID, and wilderness survival skills. Adult and family packages.

Spark your imagination – Lots to explore!

The historic Camp Moran is Wonder’s homebase and a lovely setting surrounded by meadows, mountains, forest and lake. Cabin and tent site options.

Meet our instructors and learn more at

Wonder Camp also is offering a Writers’ Track:

Writers of all types are invited to join the summer Wonder Camp for our Writers Track, August 6th and 7th.

Guest instructors for the Writers Track are Abigail Morgan Prout and Quinn Bailey, who both grew up in the San Juans and whose writings capture the intricate balance of loving, observing, fearing for, and protecting these beautiful islands.

Read more about the Writers Track workshops here. Registration is at the same link –

About those fireworks in the distance

Fireworks season has begun, formally as well as informally. We’ve been hearing booms in the distance for a while, indicating a show somewhere, and indeed, it’s the Bremerton Bridge Blast.

Local students’ next chance to connect with area robotics teams

(File photo)

Got a student in your household who’s interested in robotics? Two teams that meet a bit south of here – but have, and welcome, West Seattle participants – sent this announcement of an event that’s just a few days away:

Two local robotics teams will be hosting an information night for students and their families on May 23rd, from 6:30 to 8 pm. Tekerz Robotics and Skunk Works Robotics are competitive robotics teams based in the Highline area. They are affiliated with 4-H and accept members from any school, including homeschoolers. The teams share a workspace graciously provided by Highline Public Schools.

Skunk Works and Tekerz have been in the Highline area for 17 and 13 years respectively and have won numerous awards as part of FIRST robotics. Both are looking for new members who want an opportunity to develop and utilize skills in CAD, programming, graphic design, statistical analysis, marketing, wiring and parts fabrication. The teams function as businesses and learn marketable skills and teamwork under the supervision of mentors.

Students are welcome to visit with either team or both. The Tekerz plan to compete in FTC and FRC. The Skunks focus solely on the FRC division. FTC competes on a 12’x12′ field and builds robots that must fit into a 18″ cube. FTC is for students from 7th to 12th grade. FRC competes on a 54’x27′ field and builds robots that weigh less than 125lbs. The size requirements vary each year. FRC is primarily for 9th to 12th grade.

We ask that a parent or guardian attend as well. Interested students may fill out the Google form and the teams will contact them with additional information regarding the programs and the location prior to the event. You may also contact the teams directly via email at or

About the I Luv Teriyaki fire just off 1st Avenue South Bridge

At the left side of that traffic-camera image is a sight that made a lot of teriyaki fans sad today – major fire damage at I Luv Teriyaki at 4th/Michigan just east of the north end of the 1st Avenue South Bridge [map]. The fire was big but didn’t get as much citywide-media attention today as it might have if not for some other big incidents, so several people asked us about it. We just got info tonight from Seattle Fire. Nobody was hurt in the fire, reported just after 1:30 am. SFD says its investigators determined the fire “was accidental and started in the kitchen.”

UPDATE: Power outage in Georgetown, SODO, Beacon Hill

11:45 AM: Alex suggested other West Seattle neighbors headed east today might want to know that a big power outage in Georgetown, SODO, and Beacon Hill is affecting some businesses and major intersections. If you’re planning to head that way, check the map first.

1:51 PM: Most of the outage area has power back, except (mostly) for the SODO customers with a planned outage as noted by Amy in comments.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: Space Needle’s plan for welcoming 2023 – fireworks, lights, and drones

(January 1, 2019 photo by Robert Spears)

With a clear view from across the bay, the Space Needle‘s New Year’s Eve fireworks show is practically local for us, so here’s what was just announced: For one, if you’d rather be there in person than watching from here (or on a screen), they’re again going to allow a crowd to gather for viewing from beneath the Needle at Seattle Center. Second, they’re adding a drone light show this year. It’ll be produced by Sky Elements of Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s how the Space Needle’s announcement describes the plan:

The captivating formations — designed to integrate with the fireworks and light displays being launched and projected off of the Space Needle — will fly between 200 and 600 feet above ground, directly north of the tower. The coordinated drone effects will be best seen from the Seattle Center campus grounds. This won’t be the firm’s first show in the Emerald City; Sky Elements’ drones performed at T-Mobile Park following a Seattle Mariners game on July 22, 2022.

Before the midnight fireworks and drone light show, the Needle will stage “two musically-choreographed light shows” at 10 pm and 11 pm, produced by Illuminate Production Services; the 11 minutes of fireworks are by Pyro Spectaculars by Souza.

In case you wondered too: House fire on Vashon Island

Texter reported a lot of black smoke from the north end of Vashon Island, so we looked into it, and found out there’s a house-fire response in the 10700 block of SW 111th Place [vicinity map]. No further information so far.

P.S. No official information, but commenters have shared some updates and visuals.

ACROSS THE BAY: Special colors for Space Needle on Sunday night

For those who have a view across Elliott Bay, or will be walking/riding/driving along the downtown-facing West Seattle waterfront, an FYI: The Space Needle has announced special lights for Sunday night:

In celebration of Team USA’s exciting return to the FIFA World Cup, and in anticipation of Seattle selected to be the host city for the FIFA World Cup in 2026, the Space Needle is proud to light up red, white, and blue and fly the American flag.

The FIFA World Cup honor will take place on Sunday, November 20 at 9 PM, prior to Team USA’s first match on Monday morning vs Wales.

Additionally, the Space Needle celebrates two Seattle Sounders players who will be playing for Team USA in the World Cup: Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan have been named to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. This marks the first FIFA World Cup call-up for either player.

INVESTIGATION: Detectives seeking information after person found dead along Highway 509

Several people asked about an investigation that lasted for hours along southbound Highway 509 south of West Seattle, just north of Glendale Way South/5th Avenue South. (Thanks to Mel for the photo.) The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a death and looking for the public’s help:

Detectives are requesting the community’s help as they investigate what happened to a female found deceased this morning on the side of Highway 509.

We’re requesting information for anyone who was driving southbound on 509 between the 1st Ave. South Bridge and the 518 interchange between midnight and 7:30 am this morning (October 7th) and observed anything suspicious (vehicles stopped, people on the roadway, etc.) or have dashcam video.

If you know or saw anything, call our tip line 206-296-3311 or report anonymous tips at – Case #C22033455

UPDATE: About that giant cloud of smoke – residential fire in North Highline

10:21 AM: Thanks to everybody who’s sent photos of this (the one above is by Paul Weatherman) smoke cloud from a fire southeast of West Seattle. The problem with trying to sleuth this is that there are several calls on the logs on both sides of the city-limit line that could apply – but according to a tweet from WSDOT (thanks to @WestSeaWX for pointing us there), it’s a residential fire near Highway 509, which is blocked northbound near South Cloverdale as a result. It’s in the 10400 block of 8th Avenue South [map]. More as we get it.

10:43 AM: Thanks to John Graham for that photo from downtown. We’ve tried to get to the fire scene but got stuck in traffic. Northbound 509 is still closed in the area, according to WSDOT.

11:08 AM: King County Fire District 2 has just tweeted that photo, saying they’re still working to knock down the fire, and adding that no injuries are reported so far.

11:41 AM: They’ve also tweeted acknowledgments: “Thank you to responding agencies for their support, including Skyway Fire, Medic One, Port of Seattle, Tukwila Fire, Renton Fire, Puget Sound RFA, Seattle City Light, PSE, Water District #20, Zone 3 Rehab, and Members of Seattle that were at the training center to assist!” Meantime, WSDOT says one lane of northbound 509 has reopened.

2:10 PM: Two more photos tweeted by fire agencies (via @ZONE3PIOS)

Northbound 509 has fully reopened,

About those fireworks to the west

If you too are hearing fireworks off to the distant west – it’s the return of the Bremerton Bridge Blast fireworks show, fired from the Manette Bridge in east Bremerton.

Didn’t get to do enough shopping on West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day? Check out this nearby day of sales

Maybe you were a seller. Maybe you were busy doing something else. Or maybe six hours just wasn’t enough time to do all the shopping you wanted to do on West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day 3+ weeks ago. So here’s another chance to shop till you drop – Shorewood on the Sound (within the Burien city limits) is bringing back its Streets of Sales this Saturday (June 11th), 9 am-4 pm. They are extending a special invitation to their northern neighbors (that’s us) to head a bit south and shop 30+ sales within a single square mile. Shorewood on the Sound has been doing this for 20+ years. This link will get you to their map.

UPDATE: One person found dead aftere boathouse fire by 1st Ave S Bridge

(Added: Texted photo)

1:48 PM: Thanks for all the tips. There’s a big fire callout just north of the 1st Av S bridge. SFD says the fire is in a boathouse. Updates to come.

(Seattle Fire Department photo)

2:11 PM: Update from SFD: “6300 block of 1st Ave. South: three boats and boathouse (housing two of the boats) have burned. One person reported to have sustained injuries; search of boats is still underway. Working to put out hot spots.” Here’s a map.

2:52 PM: SFD says that “one person reported to have been aboard one of the burned boats has not been located at this time.” Meantime, SFD investigators are working to figure out what started the fire. (And if you were wondering about traffic, cameras indicate the bridge is operating normally.)

7:33 PM: Molly points out in comments that SFD has since updated to say, “firefighters have unfortunately located a deceased individual inside the cabin area of one of the boats that caught fire. The Medical Examiner’s office has been contacted and is responding to the scene.”

ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: SPD’s report summaries includes this additional information on the incident: “The Fire Marshal responded and determined the fire to be accidental. The boat had been occupied by the same elderly man for at least the past ten years. He was reported by witnesses to be in poor health, a heavy smoker, and on oxygen.”

UPDATE: 4th Avenue South Bridge closed, power outage in area

(SDOT image)

3:47 PM: The 4th Avenue South bridge in SODO (south of Costco) is closed right now both ways because of “leaning poles.” No word yet how long repairs are expected to take. There’s also a power outage in the area – (added) reader Mary tells us, “No lights at Costco and no traffic lights working on 4th Ave.”

8:05 PM: The bridge is still closed, and buses are being diverted. Many of the customers involved in the original outage have their power back, but the SCL map still shows 140+ out.