To be or not to be ‘Rat City’: Debate draws crowd to White Center Chamber lunch

June 12th, 2012 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news 17 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

“The monthly Chamber luncheon’s been happening for over 60 years … but I don’t think we’ve had this many people in a long time,” White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes said as today’s lunch began at Salvadorean Bakery, with more than 40 people on hand.

The big draw – several longtime local businesses voicing concern over the Chamber’s new website potentially including use of the neighborhood’s longtime nickname “Rat City.” First, here’s our recording of the entire discussion (note that it works better as audio than video, due to a discrepancy between the backlighting of the speakers at the front of the room and those commenting from the other half of the room):

Now, the story:

Before opinions were sought, there was a long preface.

It’s been about a year now, Ufkes recalled, that the Chamber decided to figure out ways to “better market the businesses that are here and better promote the area.” The goals included “every business owner in White Center has the opportunity to tell their story and share their story.” Redeveloping the website emerged as a priority, “to try to figure out how to present the diversity and complexity of this community to the rest of the world.” And it brought in a grant. That led to the creation of an advisory committee to help create the website. Brittany Trujillo from the website committee (which also includes Kathi “George” Wheeler, Leticia Martinez, and Aileen Sison) then spoke to the group: She read from a statement, saying “This is still in the early stages of coming together” and noting that they have done extensive research. “At this time we are not necessarily directing our energy at Rat City … but Rat City has been revitalized in our community at this time,” and with that she listed off a variety of ways the name “is here right now – people are using the name, they love it.”

Trujillo said “visitratcity.com” was an “alternate domain name” they had set aside, but the main domain name “will be visitwhitecenter.com.” She talked about the vitality of the new businesses coming into the area, and people using “hey, c’mon up to Rat City … it’s not always come up to White Center.” She said the “kick it in Rat City” that’s currently on the main page is something that will frequently change up.

Designer Wheeler then spoke about their efforts to “look at all the aspects of White Center,” including history and “reclaiming the rat a little bit – it’s not about rats eating out of garbage cans, but about the regional military training” in the area. She too talked about the “hip” new businesses. “We’re not trying to push anybody or anything out.” The rat on the website front page, she said, was inspired by the “Asian Year of the Rat,” and they’re hoping that perhaps when the “Year of the Rat” really arrives (the next one is in 2020), there might be a big party. Seventy businesses have been photographed for the website already, she said, and only a few have opted out.

She also talked about collecting information on countries of origin – wherever in the world businesspeople are from. The result will be a business directory, she explained in response to a question, broken down into five categories – including “eat,” “play” (nightclubs, bars, parks, roller rink), “shop,” “medical” (including medical-marijuana dispensaries, she noted), and “organizations” (including local nonprofits). Trujillo reiterated that there is an option to opt out, or to be included but not photographed. Wheeler said they’re trying for an “editorial look” to their photography – “warm and inviting,” not “here’s a photo of our staff … we’re going case by case to each business, assessing what’s the story to be told” by that business.”

According to Wheeler, the goal is for the website to be at least partly launched by Jubilee Days – not the business directory but the rest of it – with the rest to go live by the end of summer.

Chamber vice president “Mac” McElroy then noted that the goal of this is to bring people together.

Mikel Davila, neighborhood revitalization program manager for White Center Community Development Association, said that marketing has been an emphasis for WCCDA going back several years – the “growing a global village” brand, for example. They partnered in the web-grant seeking, to build on that branding. “In terms of other branding,” he said, they hope to “get the community voice … and see where the majority of the community wants to go … We’re just, like Mac said, trying to bring people together.”

One prominent voice of Rat City support chimed in then.

“This IS Rat City; we’re not going to change it into Wallingford,” said Justin Cline, Full Tilt Ice Cream entrepreneur and Rat City Business Association co-founder, followed by Jesse Lovell of Company, another co-founder, who said “this came together pretty organically because we (business people in downtown WC) see a lot of each other, check in with each other and it came to be based on those organizations.” They have a website which includes “Ratty,” its mascot.

Then, the voice of opposition that emerged last week:

Alan Homestead, who expressed his concern at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting last Thursday (WCN coverage here), was first to speak, acknowledging he hadn’t been active in the Chamber for a while, and saying he has continued to gather information from the community. He says he is glad that WC is being promoted. But he’s wondering, “Have rats become cool? … Rats have had a negative connotation for thousands of years; can a rat change that?”

As he did during the NHUAC meeting, Homestead worried aloud that it would reinforce perceptions of uncleanliness. He said he didn’t want to stifle enthusiasm, but “I hope this marketing energy will maintain its speed and energy … but with a different mascot.” He said he spoke with 57 people in the community over the past few days, “a combination of business owners, managers, and employees,” and found 2 who supported Rat City, 11 neutral, and 44 opposed. He is requesting that the Chamber “make a determination of whether or not it supports Rat City and the rat icon … so that the Chamber’s viewpoint is clear to its members, the White Center community, and the White Center residents.”

Cline suggested “it’s a generational thing … I talked to a lot of the business owners around me, including Asian business owners, where it’s a good luck thing … I don’t think it has to be either/or. … There’s no reason we have to change the sign when you drive in.”

Website designer Wheeler pointed out that the RAT acronym has a military origin. Ufkes noted that the rat’s been on a banner “flapping in the wind,” for more than a year.

Former Chamber president and NHUAC president Russ Pritchard said he was speaking on behalf of past Chambers: “We spent tons and tons and tons of time over the years trying to change the Rat City image,” he recalled. “… Now I’m not so involved in this area any more, but when I tell people I’m from this area, they say, ‘Oh, you’re from Rat City’.” He said his main advice was to do a better job – which he said he and his colleagues had NOT done long ago – about what RAT really stands for.

Trujillo noted that the website will include White Center history – they’ll also be archiving and featuring some of the historic documents and materials in existence – and promised they’ll do a better job of educating people about the name’s history and meaning. Homestead, though, said the rat symbol would do “the opposite.”

Other opinions: “It’s not going to be a ‘scraggly rat’,” pointed out one attendee, who said “To take this ball and run with it is a great idea. It puts us on the map.” Company’s Jesse pointed out that while WC is changing, the rat is just not going away. “It’s all about branding,” said another attendee. “Clean, safe and appropriate – what does that say about White Center? … Just not that compelling. … Sometimes the more controversial a brand the more attention you get.”

Frank Cantwell of Holy Family School said his informal polling was reinforcing the generation gap. “If it’s done right, go with it,” he said a friend had told him, and he agreed. Another opinion: The rat image is “cool … I’d like it on a T-shirt .. .but everytime I run into someone, I have to explain ‘Rat City,’ and if you have to explain it, that’s not such great branding.” She noted that even the Rat City Rollergirls’ name had to be explained, when she was a Seattle-area newcomer some time back. “I also love the ‘not so centered, not so white’ (White Center slogan),” she noted, leading to a ripple of laughter through the room.

“Whether you call yourself Rat City or White Center, they both have negative connotations,” said another attendee. “Fremont has its statue of Lenin, which attracts tourists … but has negative connotations.” That brought a reaction from one attendee who said she lives in Magnolia, and points out that Fremont has “marketed its (quirkiness) quite successfully. … This ain’t your mama’s White Center any more – it’s a different community today. And the more you spend time in this community, the more you recognize, this is the next Columbia City, this could be the next Fremont.”

Ana Castro, owner of the site of the meeting, Salvadorean Bakery, said she originally opened here because it was affordable, but her business now draws people from all over the area “because it offers good products – and if you offer a good product, people are going to (come for it, wherever you are).”

Yet another attendee said “Rat City” seems younger and hipper to her, and that “White Center” seems to have a worse connotation to some from outside, “What a racist name!” she’s heard some say. She says she doesn’t see how “rat” has a more negative connotation than “white.”

“I’m old, and I’m for Rat City,” said North Highline resident Gill Loring, as the last word before Chamber president Ufkes summarized. “I’m going to call the board together and have a conversation – this conversation is not over by any means .. the key is we’re trying to tell the story of a whole bunch of businesses here and the great stuff that they have.”

P.S. If you are a Chamber member, you are invited to get involved in the website committee.

Other updates from the meeting:

UPDATE ON MURALS PROJECT – AND A COMPETITION: President Ufkes talked about some of what’s in progress right now, including the mural that students have been working on every afternoon for the past 2 weeks – “dozens and dozens of high-school kids from Evergreen are involved” – at Super Saver Foods (WCN coverage here). And that’s just one of several buildings where murals have been created or are planned. Not only are the murals art in their own right, they’re also a deterrent to tagging/graffiti vandalism, as Ufkes pointed out. Others he mentioned: One at 9811 17th SW next to Malo’s Auto Body. And he announced a competition – artists are welcome to take on the blank panels 1 through 7 at the SW 107th site, with $100 prize available to the artist whose vision for one of those seven panels is declared the winner. Artists and Chamber members will judge the creations. (Later in the meeting, Ufkes also invited any business owners who want murals on their buildings to call him.)

KING COUNTY P-A-L IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Head coach Tony Rago from King County Police Activities League‘s White Center boxing club (a member of USA Boxing), based in White Center for eight years, talked about his program, saying about 40 kids (generally between 10-18 years old) are involved right now – not just to box, but to get “physically fit and mentally fit” and to “provide a safe place (to be) after school.” Some kids first show up “so quiet and shy … you didn’t even know they were there,” and blossom as part of the program, which is for girls as well as boys, he pointed out. And he ticked off a variety of honors – including trophies for the boxers, and “Best Boxing Gym” honors from Seattle Weekly last year. He says they live by three mottos: “Leave No Doubt”; “Box to the Bell”; “Take It Like a Man” – whether you’ve won or lost, be gracious, be determined, “keep coming back.” He says they have a show coming up on August 25th at the Evergreen Campus, one of several they present each year. They’re accepting sponsors for the bouts, too (tax-exempt donations).

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Embrace the rat, or not? White Center Chamber to discuss today

June 12th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on Embrace the rat, or not? White Center Chamber to discuss today

Rat City Rollergirls.

Rat City Business Association.

They, among others, have embraced the rat in White Center’s nickname “Rat City” (the origins of which are still argued to this day).

As first reported here in WCN coverage of last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, the White Center Chamber of Commerce‘s new website (see the current front page here) is on the verge of embracing the rat, too. But one longtime business owner was so upset about that, he came to NHUAC to make his case (though they have no involvement with the website).

And, as also mentioned in our story, he plans to take it to the WC Chamber at their lunch meeting today. Chamber President Mark Ufkes sent around an updated announcement asking members to come prepared to discuss it, as well as making them aware they can expect to hear from rat opponents.

So just a reminder, if you are interested – noon today, Salvadorean Bakery (Roxbury just west of 17th).

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Next White Center Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting on Tuesday

June 7th, 2012 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news 2 Comments »

From White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes:

The White Center Chamber of Commerce will have its June luncheon next Tuesday, June 12th at noon at the Salvadorean Bakery located on the corner of Roxbury and 17th Ave. SW. Agenda items will include the status of the Chamber/CDA mural project to date, an update on our new website, discussion on the status of the Homeless Summit effort, Jubilee Days update, and discussions on how Chamber members can assist local youth programming. Traditionally, Chamber luncheons are not held in July or August, and begin again in September, so this is the last Chamber luncheon for the summer.

The new website is in the works at visitwhitecenter.com.

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White Center Chamber of Commerce announces this month’s lunch meeting

May 7th, 2012 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber of Commerce announces this month’s lunch meeting

Just in from White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes, announcing the Chamber’s lunch meeting tomorrow (May 8th):

The White Center Chamber of Commerce May luncheon will be at the Viva Mexico Restaurant (10601 16th Ave. SW) from noon to 1:15 pm. We will be announcing and hosting our two 2012 Evergreen High School Scholars. Annually, the White Center Chamber awards $500 scholarships to outstanding seniors at Evergreen High School. Tomorrow at the chamber luncheon we will be presenting this year’s awards and asking donations from Chamber members for next year’s awards. Chamber business includes status of the CDA/Chamber sponsored Spring Clean events, a discussion of the Chamber web site, and possible activities during Jubilee Days. We hope that you can attend.

The final White Center Chamber luncheon meeting before summer break will be on Tuesday, June 12 at a location to be determined.

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White Center Chamber reminder: No lunch tomorrow – join everyone at the WCCDA mixer

April 9th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber reminder: No lunch tomorrow – join everyone at the WCCDA mixer

Just a reminder – no White Center Chamber of Commerce lunch tomorrow. President Mark Ufkes shared this note:

Rather than have two White Center business gatherings on the same day, the White Center Chamber of Commerce is cancelling the April Chamber monthly luncheon and encouraging Chamber members to attend the White Center CDA Business Mixer … The Chamber web site committee will be reporting out on our progress to date for our planned web site. We will resume our normal monthly luncheons on Tuesday, May 8th. Also remember that we will have White Center Spring Clean scheduled for Saturday, May 19th and need volunteers and funding support for our several anti-graffiti mural projects.

The WCCDA mixer is at 6 pm Tuesday at Be’s Crawfish House, 9826 16th SW.

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White Center Chamber of Commerce meets Tuesday, and remembers Art Spencer

March 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber of Commerce meets Tuesday, and remembers Art Spencer

From White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes:

The White Center Chamber of Commerce March 13, 2012 luncheon will be hosted by LUSO Food and Wine Imports Boutique, 9988 15th Ave SW, Suite C. Tina E. Hemmons is the owner, lusofoodandwines@msn.com, 206-694-3542 http://whitecenternow.com/2011/09/06/new-white-center-business-opens-luso-food-and-wine/. We will be acknowledging Art Spencer’s recent death, and his family contribution to White Center through their well-respected Spencer Automotive. We have invited Rich (his son) and Sharon (his wife) to the luncheon to talk about Art and family life in White Center and the important contribution the Spencer family has made to White Center.

Also, this Sunday, March 11, the Spencer family will be hosting a memorial for Art Spencer at Glen Acres Country Club (Sunday, March 11, from 1-4 pm) Everyone is invited to attend Art’s memorial.

At the Chamber luncheon, will also be installing our new board members, discuss our developing White Center web site, and discussing plans for several large culturally-encouraging murals painted in the core business district throughout White Center during our annual CDA/Chamber White Center Spring Clean on May 19th.

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White Center Chamber of Commerce meets Tuesday, February 14th

February 10th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber of Commerce meets Tuesday, February 14th

Just announced by White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes:

White Center Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon
Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 12-1:15 (Valentines for Everyone!)
Pho My Loi Restaurant
10439 16th SW

Agenda includes a discussion of project plans for the Chamber in 2012, board member elections and meet new board members, and discussion on the new website and great funding news for our website.

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White Center Chamber honors Jeff Hancock, Vary Jackson, Selina Daniels as heroes during annual holiday luncheon

December 6th, 2011 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber honors Jeff Hancock, Vary Jackson, Selina Daniels as heroes during annual holiday luncheon

Though White Center has a new “storefront deputy” now, Deputy B.J. Myers‘ popular predecessor Deputy Jeff Hancock returned to a hero’s welcome today. Literally! The occasion: The White Center Chamber of Commerce‘s Heroes Luncheon.

Deputy Hancock was one of the three heroes celebrated. Turns out he is actually working again in White Center – responding to emergency calls. Presenting the award, Frank Cantwell of Holy Family School recalled a ridealong with Deputy Hancock, who he said is known and respected by everyone in WC, as well as teamwork when HF put on its first street fair.

Another former member of the King County Sheriff’s Office White Center Storefront staff also was honored, Community Service Officer Vary Jackson. Chamber president Mark Ufkes called her the closest thing White Center had to a mayor during her 16 years of working there. He recalled her “endless advocacy,” which resulted in additions such as storefront planters. She wasn’t at the luncheon, but we took this photo of her with the planters in May of last year:

The third award went to county corrections workers who supervise defendants doing community service rather than spending time behind bars.

As King County Councilmember Joe McDermott explained, these crews come to White Center frequently for cleanup work and are supervised by Selina Daniels, who McDermott said spends five days a week working with a different crew each day. (With Daniels, McDermott, and Ufkes in our photo are Nate Caldwell, her supervisor, and Nick Masla, also from Corrections.)

Also at the luncheon, WestSide Baby executive director Nancy Woodland spoke about community efforts to address the problem of homeless/chronic alcoholic people.

The group that’s been convening to take this on, she said, has moved from trying to figure out how to get them sent somewhere else, to instead, considering engaging them as part of the community. The group meets again Tuesday, and Ufkes says it will be working on specific ideas for what to do next.

More business-district activities were updated by Aileen Sison, including this Saturday’s White Center Christmas Tree Lighting (5 pm Sunday at 16th/Roxbury, same place as last year). In the wake of all the attention given to the recent “Center of Attention” and DEA medical-marijuana raids, Ufkes said, this event should bring positive attention to WC and bring families out to visit, maybe even stick around for dinner.

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White Center Chamber announces Christmas Luncheon for December 6

November 23rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in Holidays, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber announces Christmas Luncheon for December 6

That’s our photo from last year’s White Center Chamber of Commerce Heroes Awards/Toys for Tots Christmas Luncheon, and this year’s edition has just been announced. From Chamber president Mark Ufkes:

The White Center Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its White Center Heroes Awards and Toys for Tots Christmas Luncheon at the Salvation Army, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from noon until 1:30 pm. The Seattle/White Center Salvation Army is located at 9050 16th Ave. SW.

Annually, the White Center Chamber board recognizes three “White Center Heroes” who have gone beyond the call of duty to serve our community. We will also be collecting “Toys for Tots” (new, packaged, unwrapped toy) that will be given to at-risk families. Attendees are asked to make a $10 contribution to the Salvation Army to help cover luncheon food costs.

Guests include King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, as well as three White Center Heroes who will be recognized, and we will discuss Chamber plans for greater cleanup and graffiti removal within the business district and expanded business district marketing in 2012.

White Center Chamber of Commerce
White Center Heroes Award Luncheon and Toys for Tots Drive
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 (Noon to 1:30)
Salvation Army – 9050 16th Ave. SW

Everyone is welcome.

Please RSVP the number attending to Jimie at (206) 619-1029 or by email to markufkes@comcast.net.

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Summit planned Friday to tackle White Center problem: Helping the homeless, while stabilizing the community

October 17th, 2011 Tracy Posted in WestSide Baby, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news 3 Comments »

Just in from White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes:

The White Center Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and WestSide Baby, is planning a working summit of White Center service providers on Friday, Oct 21 from 9 am to 12 pm at Mount View Presbyterian Church – 10806 12th Ave. SW.

The summit will bring together front line service providers who are currently serving the estimated 45 people struggling with homelessness and chronic alcoholism who currently live on White Center streets. The goal of this summit is to find ways to help our homeless neighbors and to establish a 10-point plan that addresses their service needs, plan a budget estimating the costs to provide these services, and discuss possible policies needed to address the challenges they create for our community.

“We are finding that more and more people are in need in White Center,” said Mark Ufkes, president, White Center Chamber of Commerce. “We estimate that our community’s homelessness has grown by about 30% this past summer. While I’m concerned about their needs, Chamber members want a family-oriented shopping district. I’m hearing from business owners that several of the new faces are aggressive and congregate in groups that can be intimidating.”

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Veterans’ Park re-dedicated in Delridge Triangle: Dream come true

September 18th, 2011 Tracy Posted in history, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on Veterans’ Park re-dedicated in Delridge Triangle: Dream come true

By Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

The White Center Chamber of Commerce’s rededication of Veterans Park in the Delridge Triangle this afternoon was the culmination of a six-year dream of nearby Triangle Tavern owner Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy.

Speaking at the ceremony, he told of his adoption of the bedraggled, non-standard-sized flag he discovered in the park upon taking ownership of the tavern six years ago. As a Navy veteran and member of a longtime military family, he recalled the importance of the journey to raise not only a properly sized flag, but to be able to have the flag fly 24 hours a day over the place where White Center and West Seattle meet.

Years of inquiries to city and county agencies, VFW groups and others were made by Mac to determine who was responsible for the orphaned veterans’ memorial, originally established by a now-defunct Glendale veterans group decades ago. Through those years, Mac paid for small replacement flags each year, but his dream was to have a full 5×8 flag fully illuminated at night, as required by federal law to fly the Stars and Stripes.

Finally, as WCN reported last December, the Chamber of Commerce, with the help of Seattle Public Utilities, determined that the flagpole did indeed have power, though the mechanisms had not been maintained or tested in years. The power source was determined and the fixtures upgraded to halogen lights in anticipation of POW/MIA Recognition Day, a national day befitting acknowledgement of those veterans who have served but never made it home.

A Color Guard in full blues from Joint Base Lewis-McChord participated in the formal ceremony and presentation of the flag.

Chamber president Mark Ufkes’ White Center Boy Scout troop also played a role, playing the somber Taps and removing the old flag, with the lively Reveille (video to come) as the brand new and much larger flag was hoisted by a troop member.

The commemorative plaque, inscripted with “To All Who Have Served Our American Flag” rededicates the park to those in the past and the present and will be maintained in perpetuity by the White Center Chamber of Commerce so that the light will always remain upon the flag, reminding future generations of those who have valiantly served.

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White Center Triangle Veterans’ Park: Your re-dedication invitation

September 11th, 2011 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Triangle Veterans’ Park: Your re-dedication invitation

(Photo taken this morning by Patrick Sand for WCN)
On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, tribute is being paid not only to those lost on that day, but to those who have served, before and since, to keep our country free. The White Center area’s most visible tribute is days away from rededication, and Mark Ufkes has shared the invitation to all veterans – and the rest of the community – for the event one week from today:

Calling all Veterans! There will be a re-dedication of the White Center Triangle Veterans Park, scheduled for Sunday, September 18 at 4 pm. Veterans and the entire community are invited. We have invited Medal of Honor Recipient Joe M. Jackson from Kent to help us install a new American flag, a plaque, and re-dedicate the park.

The park is located at the corner of Roxbury, Delridge and 16th Ave. SW. in White Center. (9200 Delridge). The park and flagpole were dedicated well over two decades ago by the now defunct Glendale White Center Veterans of Foreign Wars. The White Center Chamber of Commerce, working with Seattle City Light, installed flagpole lighting at the site and use the site each year to install the White Center community christmas tree.

A new plaque will be installed, and we will acknowledge the installation of lighting to allow the Chamber to fly the flag legally 24 hours per day at the park. The plaque will read;

Re-Dedication
Veterans Triangle Park
To all who have served
our American Flag

White Center Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 2011

All veterans are invited and we ask veterans to wear part of their uniform if possible. Light refreshments will be served.

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To annex or not to annex? Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visits White Center

February 26th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Annexation, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news 14 Comments »

(Photo by Deanie Schwarz for WCN)
With the issue of White Center (etc.) annexation before the Seattle City Council right now – a committee takes it up on Tuesday – Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visited downtown WC this afternoon. With him in this photo, taken in front of Proletariat Pizza, are White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes and White Center Community Development Association executive director Aileen Balahadia; in the background, mayor’s office rep Kenny Pittman, who has long been a point person on the annexation issue. Most recently, as we have reported, McGinn’s stance has been “we can’t afford it”; WCN contributor Deanie Schwarz reports his main comment today was, “Seattle has some big decisions to make.”

Here’s the agenda for Tuesday afternoon’s Seattle Council committee meeting; here’s the briefing document (PDF) which lays out the potential timeline for a council decision on an annexation vote, as well as the potential range of financial effects if Seattle annexed the area.

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First the banners, now new signs welcoming you to White Center

January 21st, 2011 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news 4 Comments »

Thanks to Gill for the photo and the news that the new multilingual “Welcome to White Center” signs are up in at least two spots – this one’s along SW Roxbury by Holy Family Church/School, and another one’s up at 4th SW/SW 108th. This follows the similarly themed banners that have started to go up around the area (here’s our story from two weeks ago).

ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: The Chamber board plans a photo opportunity by one of the new signs this afternoon, and also included this information about the signs:

The White Center Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Seattle Foundation and the White Center Community Development Association (CDA), has installed two new multi-language “Welcome” signs in White Center. Of the five original signs installed in the early 1990s, all are damaged beyond repair. These two signs are coated with an anti-graffiti material and represent the first phase for replacing all White Center Welcome signs. The Chamber board will gather at the sign located at Holy Family School in Seattle (Roxbury and 19th SW) at 1:00 pm today. The second new sign is located at 4th SW and SW 108th in unincorporated King County. The Chamber will continue fund raising to replace the other three signs in 2011.

ADDED: Here’s the photo!

The WC Chamber reps in attendance included, according to president Mark Ufkes, Mac McElroy, Carlos Jimenez, Jimie Martin (Chamber mgr), Nhan Nguyen, Kathi Wheeler (Chamber board member next year and sign designer) Nancy Calos Nakano, Ray Zombro, Dr. Chris Hill.

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White Center community Christmas tree is up, with lighting planned for Wednesday

December 11th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Holidays, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news 3 Comments »

(Photos by Deanie Schwarz for White Center Now/West Seattle Blog)
As White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes promised during last Wednesday’s Chamber holiday luncheon (WCN coverage here), the first community Christmas tree in a very long time went up this morning in the Delridge Triangle – and a lighting ceremony is now planned for this Wednesday. White Center Now was there to get photos as lots of volunteers made it happen:

More about them, the tree, and the lighting, in this news release just sent by the WC Chamber:

The White Center Chamber of Commerce, working in partnership with many White Center businesses and families, installed the first White Center Christmas tree in decades in Seattle’s Triangle Park, on the corner of Roxbury, 16th Ave. SW, and Delridge. The Chamber will install a tree annually as a result of the positive community response to this effort.

The idea came from a Chamber discussion about encouraging White Center businesses to install Christmas lights in their windows during the holiday season. Vary Jackson, King County Sheriff Community Service Officer (CSO), suggested that a Christmas tree would look great at the park. Mac McElroy, owner of Mac’s Triangle Pub and a Chamber board member, expressed a need to secure lighting for the American flag on the park flag pole that was installed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Mac, who is also a vet, has been raising his personal American flag on the pole for several years. American flags flown at night must be lit, so Mac has been eager to solve this issue as well.

Seattle City Light and the Seattle Department of Transportation that owns the land, have been working to resolve the access to electricity issue. White Center Chamber member McLendon Hardware (Sandy Vaughn, manager) donated $250 in Christmas lights. A White Center Buddhist family (Many, Merda and Budd Chhim) donated a beautiful 22-foot Northern pine tree from their backyard “to bring good karma to White Center.” White Center attorney Dennis Pflug and resident Jimie Martin arranged to have the tree professionally cut down. Boy Scout Troop 375, with scouts from White Center, Burien and West Seattle helped install the tree with help from the King County Department of Corrections crew.

Due to the severe rain predicted through Tuesday, December 14, the official lighting for the tree will occur at 7 pm, on Wednesday night, December 15, by White Center Chamber of Commerce members.

Note the tree’s not the only new sign of holiday cheer in the Triangle’s little park:

Meantime, more information from contributor Deanie Schwarz on the power issue, affecting both the tree and the veterans’ memorial:

Ufkes says lights will be turned on soon, hopefully only temporarily, by borrowing power,perhaps from the Triangle Pub, until the responsible agency either repairs the failed fixture on the flag pole and/or a breaker is found, or both. Normally, City light poles have identifying serial numbers located near two horizontal black bands, but somewhere along the installation process years ago, this island was not assigned an ID. Or if it was assigned some other way to track it, it ostensibly has been lost. It is not a standard streetlight, but rather a lit flagpole. Whether that is the reason no department or agency has yet found any reliable data on a city installation or its maintenance remains a bit of a mystery.

According to Mac, owner of Mac’s Triangle Pub and a Navy veteran, and Ufkes, there are few places which are even allowed to fly a flag unlit in the entire country. Beyond providing an exterior power source for the community’s future use, both are hopeful that the city repairs the flagpole power to bring it into compliance with long-standing, national, flag-displaying codes and traditions for year-round honoring of the Stars and Stripes in White Center.

Again, the tree lighting is set for Wednesday – see you there!

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White Center Chamber lunch: Heroes honored, and more

December 7th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Businesses, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Chamber lunch: Heroes honored, and more

That’s unedited video of a highlight of today’s well-attended White Center Chamber of Commerce luncheon – a celebration of community heroes, including Holy Family School principal Frank Cantwell (who you see in the screen grab on our video clip) – led by Chamber president Mark Ufkes, but featuring the heroes themselves, including two people who saved a life with CPR just last week.

The luncheon event also brought other news: White Center’s first community Christmas tree is scheduled to go up in the Delridge Triangle this Saturday, with help from local Scouts and other volunteers. As for whether it’ll have lights – that’s a little more up-in-the-air. Ufkes says the Chamber is also working to help find a solution to the power problem in the nearby Veterans’ Memorial, as identified by local entrepreneur, once-and-future candidate, and veteran “Mac” McElroy – also now a White Center Chamber board member – who pointed out last month that the memorial’s flag is unlit. And that’s not all we heard at the lunch – other milestones and achievements for the year were celebrated, as was the WC C of C board:

Members who were present were asked to come up to be introduced. The board and Chamber’s revitalization were a key point of a “2010 Community Report” handed out at the lunch. The report began by recounting the decline of the organization 2006-2009, until Holy Family principal Cantwell agreed to serve as interim president and worked with other community leaders to keep the Chamber from dying. (Current board members, minus new member McElroy, are listed on this page of the Chamber website.)

Successes past and hoped-for future were detailed, such as the “Good Neighbor” program seeking businesses’ partnership in responsible alcohol sales and new White Center signage that will welcome people in more than a dozen languages. According to the report, there also will be signs/banners in the Delridge Triangle park celebrating holidays and festivals celebrated by White Center’s many cultures – the Christmas tree will be only the first.

An important issue for the community even beyond its businesses was brought up as well: The Highline Public Schools levy that will be on next February’s ballot. (You can read about it here.) School-board member Sili Savusa discussed its importance and the need for volunteers to help with the campaign to make sure it is approved.

Want to know more about the White Center Chamber? It’s online at whitecenterchamber.org – and be sure to check out the newsletter, which can be downloaded from the chamber’s home page.

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White Center heroes to be celebrated at Chamber luncheon Tuesday

December 6th, 2010 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on White Center heroes to be celebrated at Chamber luncheon Tuesday

White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes says more than 50 local business reps have confirmed they’ll be at Tuesday’s White Center Chamber lunch at the Salvation Army – honoring White Center’s 2010 heroes. According to the advance announcement, two of them saved a life just last week with quick CPR work; a week earlier, a local church gave a potentially life-saving gift by opening its doors to homeless people during the November 22-23 wintry weather. There will also be news of a community Christmas tree to be decked this weekend! The luncheon’s at noon at the Salvation Army Community Center, 9050 16th SW.

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And two big White Center yard sales ahead too …

May 31st, 2010 Tracy Posted in White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news, Yard sales Comments Off on And two big White Center yard sales ahead too …

In addition to the Shorewood multi-sale event next Saturday, we also have these notes from the White Center Chamber of Commerce: The White Center Library Guild‘s annual yard sale is on Saturday, June 5, 1110 SW 116th Street, 10 am to 3 pm. … Then the White Center Kiwanis has its annual yard sale a week later – Saturday, June 12 — in the parking lot at 9826 14th Avenue SW.

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