White Center community members come together to discuss a community response to graffiti

January 13th, 2017 at 8:05 am Posted in How to Help, White Center news | 14 Comments »

By Cliff Cawthon
Reporting for White Center Now

White Center community members gathered at the NorthMart Furniture store on Thursday to discuss the rise of unauthorized graffiti on walls and local storefronts in the business district.

(Part of a tag on the NorthMart building, the meeting site)

The area is known for its murals reflecting the diversity of the area, but concerned residents have noticed a recent uptick in graffiti that they say destructively differs from those murals. 

(One of White Center’s distinctive murals)

“We are an artistic community, but these [tags] are territorial and can potentially cause violence,” says Bobby Beeman, president of the White Center Chamber of Commerce. A little over a dozen people came to take part in the community meeting where the Chamber and their partners in the Community Development Association presented a three step proposal, and solicited input from community members on solutions to the problem.

Participants came from various parts of the White Center community – local businesses, representatives from King County including staff from the office of County Council Chair Joe McDermott, members of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, and people from the neighborhood.

The unauthorized graffiti tags worry some of the business owners, as they are concerned that defaced storefronts mean that the businesses will be unappealing to shoppers. Despite the concerns about the graffiti, community members wanted their response to be productive rather than punitive: “We do not want to send air of threat … however, this is going to stop one way or another.”

In the Chamber’s plans, disaffected or homeless youth between the ages of 15-25 are the social group that the chamber wants to focus on engaging. One participant, who identified himself as Brian, the owner of adult-video store Taboo, spoke to how he thought that youth are being used by individuals as a way to designate gang or criminal territory. The danger of this going unaddressed, from Beeman’s perspective, affects everyone: “When you’re on the street and there aren’t safe spaces to put your head it becomes a violent situation”

Many in the room stressed that homelessness isn’t necessarily associated with, or causing, this issue. That’s important given the recent controversy over siting of a shelter in White Center. In regards to engaging homeless youth, and youth in general, Beeman and the Chamber, as well as their allies, proposed a three-step plan to take action and engage them as well as other youth and potential graffiti artists in the area. 

The three-point plan is based around repair, advocacy, and youth and community engagement. McLendon Hardware in White Center has agreed to give a discount – through the Chamber – to business owners who cannot afford paint, as well as to equip them with other tools.

Seth Oakes from the King County Community Work Program, part of the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, said his department is willing to “move forward and help in [graffiti and trash removal] where we can,” going forward. This first phase of this plan, as it was identified in the meeting, can build upon the Community Work Program; which re-directs people who have been charged into community service projects in lieu of incarceration or detention.

The second part of the plan relates to the Chamber and the White Center Community Development Association’s commitment to advocacy, by partnering with graffiti artists, advocates, and locals to determine and develop future spots for murals. The hope is that artspace can displace and disrupt graffiti tags and activity and get people active and involved with the community.

The third and last phase would focus on bringing youth into the process. NHUAC president Liz Giba was excited about the prospect of engagement, both as an alternative to criminal prosecution and as a preventive and educational tool: “I think it would be cool if the kids helped develop them.” Giba stressed the value of openness: “Bring them into the neighborhood, I think that … everyone has something to offer.” 

This plan still doesn’t change the law. King County Sheriff’s Office Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer said that graffiti is vandalism, a misdemeanor, with potential penalties including a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Lan Nguyen from Councilmember McDermott’s office shared that McDermott and his colleagues in county government are also working to explore alternatives to incarceration and criminal penalization for youth: “[We] want to work on figuring out what we have … who’s eligible and how can they get connected with that. I think the idea of a community coming together to say, ‘We don’t want youth to go through this harsh and punitive system, we want to be there to support him or her and support the family, [is] wonderful and beautiful.”

If you want to learn more or get involved with the push to remove graffiti from the area, email WhiteCenterCC@gmail.com.

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White Center’s Big Al Brewing closing after 8 years

January 12th, 2017 at 7:55 pm Posted in Beverages, Businesses, White Center news | 2 Comments »

(WCN photo: Big Al on opening day in 2008)

Back in August, the New York Times spotlighted five White Center establishments.

Among them: Big Al Brewing, which had opened at 9832 14th SW on an August day, eight years earlier – one of the first stories covered here on WCN.

Today, in the mid-January chill, “Big Al” himself, Alejandro Brown, announced he’s closing. From his announcement:

Every time I sit down to write this I have to stop because it’s too damn hard. But some things have to be said. Saturday, January 14th will be the last day of Big Al Brewing as we know it. We are closing our doors. Phew, hard part over. There are many contributing factors that led to this decision but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I’d rather focus on the positive. What an amazing 8 years it has been!! I lived my dream and experienced things I could have never thought of in my wildest dreams!

Big Al Brewing’s award-winning brews include the Chile IPA that won a silver medal in the Washington Beer Awards last year.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: January meeting toplines

January 11th, 2017 at 11:50 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: January meeting toplines

Our toplines from the January meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

NEW BOARD MEMBERS: Recent resignations created vacancies on the board, and two people have stepped up to join: Roslyn Hyde and Rich Leibfried.

NHUAC president Liz Giba said she was impressed by how they stepped up during the past few months of discussions about the 8th/108th shelter. Leibfried is a budget analyst for a health-care organization and Hyde is a graphic designer. Both have roots on the East Coast and lived in other parts of the metro Seattle area before moving to North Highline. Hyde said she first got involved in the shelter discussions because the site is near her home, but realized that she is most interested in finding ways to give a voice to people who don’t feel like they have one in public-affairs issues. She plans to be part of the One Night Count later this month (here’s how to get involved). Asked about annexation, both said they are still researching that issue and keeping an open mind.

CRIME BRIEFING: Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer was at the meeting, with a review of 2016 crime stats compared to a year earlier. Burglaries are way down, violent assaults up. One big issue of concern right now – rampant graffiti. That will be the subject of a meeting tomorrow morning (Thursday, January 12th), 9 am at Northmart in downtown WC. Deputy Kennamer also was asked about current drug problems in White Center and replied that heroin is the biggest one right now, with much of the dealing involving one person who sells small quantities to others and keeps some for himself.

SEPTIC TANK FEE FIGHT: NHUAC also heard from a county resident about the fight over a proposal to charge annual fees to people with septic systems. It wasn’t clear, though, how many such systems there are in North Highline.

HHUAC meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th) – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings.

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MLK Day of Service: You can help Monday at White Center Heights Park

January 10th, 2017 at 2:21 pm Posted in Holidays, How to Help, Parks, White Center news | Comments Off on MLK Day of Service: You can help Monday at White Center Heights Park

On Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day next Monday, it’s again a Day of Service, with many volunteer opportunities around the nation. Here’s one in White Center, from Lina:

Celebrate MLK Day with King County Parks staff and neighbors as we work to improve the health of White Center Heights Park. Event is 10 am-2 pm and we will be learning about the plants and animals of the park, digging out blackberry and planting native trees and shrubs. Please contact Lina Rose for more information – lina.rose@kingcounty.gov , 206.491.5014

Here’s where to find WCH Park.

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White Center Food Bank executive director Rick Jump to retire

January 8th, 2017 at 11:54 pm Posted in White Center Food Bank, White Center news | 2 Comments »

(Also posted to partner site West Seattle Blog)

Announced late tonight – the longtime executive director of the White Center Food Bank is retiring. Here’s how Rick Jump announced it:

To the clients, donors, volunteers, and staff of the White Center Food Bank and to the greater
White Center Community:

I have lived in White Center for 35 years; raised my children here, forged lifelong friendships, built partnerships, and helped to grow the White Center Food Bank for the past twelve years. It has been both my professional and personal passion to help support the most vulnerable in our community.

It is a unique place – one built on community, diversity, and resiliency despite the many challenges we have faced.

I am proud to call White Center my home.

This is why my decision to retire as the Executive Director of the White Center Food Bank is made with a heavy heart. I arrived at this decision after both I and my wife, Judy, have struggled with health issues in recent months. As much as I love this community, after 12 years of dedicating my life to helping others, it is time that Judy and I take care of ourselves.

I leave the White Center Food Bank knowing that it is in good, capable, and caring hands and am excited to see how it continues to grow to meet the needs of White Center now and into the future.

Thank YOU all for being such a wonderful community and for your support of the White Center Food Bank over the past 12 years. They have been some of my most formative and inspiring years of my life.

We are awaiting replies on a few followup questions, including when Jump plans to leave and what the process will be for choosing his successor. His list of achievements is long, including winning the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce “Westsider of the Year” award in 2011 (that’s when we took the photo you see above).

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BIZNOTE: Aaron’s Bicycle Repair moves to 9614 16th SW

January 8th, 2017 at 11:28 am Posted in Businesses, White Center news | Comments Off on BIZNOTE: Aaron’s Bicycle Repair moves to 9614 16th SW

In case you haven’t been downtown in a while … Aaron’s Bicycle Repair has moved a few blocks to a new location in the heart of downtown White Center, 9614 16th SW. Closed Sundays and Mondays, so your next chance to check it out is on Tuesday (hours listed here).

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Community meeting for revised White Center shelter proposal set for January 24th

January 5th, 2017 at 4:02 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | Comments Off on Community meeting for revised White Center shelter proposal set for January 24th

Another update late today on the revised shelter proposal for the former King County Public Health building at 8th SW/SW 108th – the long-promised second community meeting is set:

King County Department of Community and Human Services invites the public to attend a community meeting about the proposed temporary family shelter at the former White Center Public Health building.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 on January 24 at the Seola Gardens Community Center (10821 8th Ave. SW.). Mary’s Place, the shelter operator, will be in attendance to discuss the shelter program. See the King County White Center Shelter webpage for updates, including the community agreement crafted by King County, the White Center Community Group, and Mary’s Place.

If you wish to submit comments for the community agreement, contact Valerie Kendall at valerie.kendall@kingcounty.gov or by phone at 206-263-9076.

A shelter update is also on the agenda for tonight’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, 7 pm at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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THURSDAY: 1st North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2017

January 2nd, 2017 at 7:56 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on THURSDAY: 1st North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting of 2017

First Thursday of the month – in this case, first Thursday of the year – means January 5th will bring the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s first meeting of 2017, as just announced:

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 7 pm

North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our first meeting of 2017!

A new year brings new opportunities. Those opportunities are often hidden in the challenges that stand in the way of a safer, healthier, and more positive future. In North Highline, those challenges include the concentration of poverty, the concentration of marijuana businesses and homelessness.

An example is King County’s response to our community’s opposition to a low-barrier, 70-adult homeless shelter in White Center. North Highline’s opposition was heard. King County revised its plan. Instead of a low-barrier shelter, White Center’s old Public Health building will instead become the new home of Mary’s Place Family Shelter and Resource Center. Mary’s Place has an excellent reputation. Many of us believe that what started as a challenge is being transformed into an opportunity for success. Any available updates will be shared at the meeting.

Speaking about success, Betsy Howe, of Citizens Opposed to Onsite Septic System Management Washington, graciously rescheduled her presentation from last month to allow us to learn about Mary’s Place. She will join us this month to tell us about the group’s success in tabling King County’s “Turd Tax” on septic systems and its ongoing efforts. If your property includes a septic system, take this opportunity to learn about the group’s success and plans.

At December’s meeting, the need for more community participation on NHUAC’s board was discussed. We are happy to announce that NHUAC was heard! Thursday’s meeting will include an opportunity for those who have responded to our call to speak prior to a vote by current board members.

And last, but definitely not least … White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will update us with news and statistics from KCSO.

See you Thursday, January 5th at 7 PM – Bring a Friend!

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard

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HAPPY 2017! Snow in North Highline and beyond

January 1st, 2017 at 9:42 am Posted in Weather, White Center news | 3 Comments »

Thanks to Gill for the photo – a snowy start to 2017 in North Highline and points north and south (the National Weather Service says Sea-Tac Airport recorded about two inches). The snow started a few hours into the New Year. It’s stopped, and forecasters are NOT predicting any more, but it will be cold for a few days – highs in the low 30s, lows in the 20s.

P.S. As of mid-morning, Metro is still on snow routing in some area – check here before you go.

ADDED SUNDAY NIGHT: One more photo from our snowy New Year’s Day – thanks to Barbara Dobkin for this one:

About 3 1/2 inches, she estimated!

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Start the New Year with free boot camps at FitBody Solutions

December 30th, 2016 at 9:42 am Posted in Businesses, Health, White Center news | Comments Off on Start the New Year with free boot camps at FitBody Solutions

If fitness is in the plan for you for 2017, here’s an irresistible offer: FitBody Solutions in White Center (a new advertiser on our partner site West Seattle Blog) has free bootcamps coming up next week:

January 2nd, 4th, 6th, at 5 am, 6 am, 7 am, 45-minute classes. Call or e-mail to save a space – 253-642-7179, info@fitbody-solutions.com – FitBody Solutions is at 1521 SW 98th, next to Bok-a-Bok.

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YOU’RE INVITED! White Center Kiwanis Baked Potato Dinner on January 12th

December 29th, 2016 at 10:07 am Posted in White Center Kiwanis Club, White Center news | 2 Comments »

The Kiwanis Club of White Center hopes to have dinner with you next month to support local youth! Here’s the announcement:

Join us for our 6th annual Baked Potato Dinner supporting the New Start High School Kiwanis Key Club.

Come enjoy a baked potato bar, chili, salad, rolls, dessert, and beverages….

The Ricky Gene Powell Band will be providing music entertainment!

Day: Thursday, January 12, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Cost: $15 or 2 for $25, Family: $30, Kids under 12: $7, under 5: Free
Where: New Start High School 614 SW 120th St, Burien

Here’s the official flyer.

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VIDEO: White Center Christmas Tree Lighting 2016

December 18th, 2016 at 12:10 am Posted in Holidays, White Center news | Comments Off on VIDEO: White Center Christmas Tree Lighting 2016

Santa and friends reigned in White Center on Saturday night, at the community Christmas Tree Lighting celebration right outside Mac’s Triangle Pub.

As previewed here on Friday, local businesses and organizations joined forces to make it happen. At 6 pm, the music started, and just after 6:30, with a countdown … and the help of Santa and Ms.Claus … the tree was lit:

Warm beverages were offered to keep spirits bright despite the below-freezing temperature.

It’s been six years now since the community Christmas tree tradition was revived in 2010.

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White Center weather: Icy bog

December 17th, 2016 at 11:51 pm Posted in Weather, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center weather: Icy bog

Thanks to Gill for the photo from an icy morning at the White Center bog – might not look this way soon, since temperatures are finally expected to climb back above freezing sometime Sunday.

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White Center Christmas Tree Lighting set for Saturday

December 16th, 2016 at 3:25 pm Posted in Holidays, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center Christmas Tree Lighting set for Saturday

Just in – word of White Center’s next big holiday celebration:

This Saturday 12.17.2016 at 6 pm, celebrate the holidays at White Center’s community Christmas tree! Try out some hot beverages from new White Center shop Moonshot Coffee, dance to DJ TTop, and take photos with Santa!

Located at Roxbury and 16th Ave SW in front of Mac’s Triangle Pub .

Food donations are accepted and will be delivered to the White Center Food Bank.

Primarily sponsored by:
The Triangle Pub
Tom the Live Butcher
White Center Tools

With additional donations from:
Moonshot Coffee
The White Center Chamber of Commerce
White Center Community Development Association
McLendon Hardware

For questions contact Tommy of Tommysound, White Center Chamber of Commerce Vice President, 206.229.7937

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Congratulations to White Center boxing, soccer programs recognized by King County Council

December 13th, 2016 at 10:36 am Posted in King County, White Center news | 2 Comments »

The photo and report are from the office of County Council Chair Joe McDermott, who represents our area on the council:

On Monday, the King County Council recognized two exceptional at-risk youth programs based in White Center. The Councilmembers welcomed members of the Greater King County Police Activities League (GKCPAL) White Center Boxing Club and the White Center Teen Program Aztecs Soccer team to Monday’s council meeting, honoring them with an official County recognition highlighting their athletic successes and contribution to the community.

“Providing young people with safe and engaging alternatives is exceedingly important,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “These two programs in White Center offer opportunities to build self-esteem through athletics, as well as teaching other essential life skills.”

Founded in 2007, The White Center PAL Boxing Club is a part of a larger youth services program designed to appeal to at-risk youth in the White Center and surrounding area. It is run by a local chapter of the century-old Police Activities League, a national volunteer organization that aims to provide activities for at-risk youth and allow them personal interaction with police officers.

The Boxing Club is located in the White Center Community Center on the grounds of Steve Cox Memorial Park. Over the summer the club’s tournament team took second place in the National Junior Golden Gloves Tournament in Nevada.

“The White Center PAL Boxing Club is one of our longest running outreach programs,” said Executive Director of GKCPAL Jared Karstetter. “It has obtained national attention and success, but most importantly it has taken at-risk youth out of harm’s way and placed them on a path to success academically, physically, and mentally.”

The White Center Teen Program (WCTP) is managed by the King County Parks and Recreation Division and has been operating since 1991 at the White Center Community Center. The Aztec soccer team was created out of the WCTP in 2007. A second team (FC United) was added to the soccer club in 2010. The teams practice year round at Steve Cox Memorial Park.

“We are especially proud of the accomplishments made by both the Aztecs and PAL Boxing and honored to be able to provide a home for both programs at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center,” said King County Parks Director Kevin Brown.

As of 2016, there are thirty players practicing with the WCTP Soccer Club, bringing the running total of Aztec Soccer players to over two hundred. In addition to weekly soccer practices, the team attends ongoing tutoring sessions and leadership activities. The team also volunteers regularly in their community including the White Center Spring Clean, the National Night Out Against Crime, the White Center Youth Summit, and the Annual WC Halloween Carnival.

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NEW BUSINESS: Lil’ Bug Studio opens today

December 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am Posted in Businesses, White Center news | Comments Off on NEW BUSINESS: Lil’ Bug Studio opens today

It’s opening day for a new White Center business – Lil’ Bug Studio, an “active learning play space.” A grand-opening celebration is set for 2-5 pm. Proprietor Kristi Keithly explains, “This is a free event for the community and will include cupcakes, apple cider and everyone in attendance can enter a drawing, to win a free kids’ birthday party package, valued at $225 – 1 entry per family.” Lil’ Bug Studio is at 10007 13th SW.

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WHITE CENTER SHELTER: Brief online update from King County

December 7th, 2016 at 5:17 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | Comments Off on WHITE CENTER SHELTER: Brief online update from King County

We’ve already reported it here – and it was discussed at last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting – but in case you hadn’t heard, the county’s decision to open a family shelter at the 8th/108th building is now officially online, here.

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VIDEO: Deputy Steve Cox, 15 other fallen law enforcers honored with new King County Sheriff’s Office memorial

December 2nd, 2016 at 12:24 pm Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | 1 Comment »

(WCN photos/video)

That’s the plaque for King County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Cox on the new memorial KCSO just dedicated for the 16 law enforcers it has lost in the line of duty. Deputy Cox, the White Center community leader who was killed 10 years ago today, is the most recent, but, Sheriff John Urquhart warned somberly, won’t be the last.

The short ceremony in the jury room at the King County Courthouse downtown this morning also acknowledged the sad coincidence that this event, long in the works, comes as the state mourns a Tacoma police officer killed in the line of duty this week. After the ceremony, everyone moved to the courthouse lobby outside the Sheriff’s Office, with fallen officers’ family members in the front row for the unveiling:

Family members had been given roses as they entered the ceremony, and many were placed below the memorial before they left:

We also recorded video of the ceremony at which Sheriff Urquhart and King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn spoke.

ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: Here’s that video:

And here’s the official KCSO news release about today’s event: Read the rest of this entry »

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Shelter, encampment, memories…

December 2nd, 2016 at 8:38 am Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

This month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting included discussions of two separate and very different plans to house people experiencing homelessness. Here are last night’s highlights:

SHELTER UPDATE: As reported here Wednesday, the King County shelter plan for the ex-Public Health building at 8th SW/SW 108th has changed, after weeks of work with a community task force. Mark Ellerbrook from King County and Marty Hartman from Mary’s Place came to talk about the new “family shelter” plan.

“We’ve got some steps to go through first,” Ellerbrook said, especially regarding revising the permit application “as quickly as we can … so we can make any chances in the building that we need to make.” He addressed a topic that we asked him about yesterday; “our need for shelter for single adults has not gone down,” but, “if you look at the Highline School District specifically, at least 74 homeless students – living in cars or in a tent under a bridge, and trying to go to school, make a go of it … from about 36 families.” That number is dynamic and changes, he noted. He reiterated that they plan a “large community meeting” in January.

Hartman showed a video about her organization and said its dream has been that no child would have to sleep unsheltered, but they’re not there yet, and hoping to partner in this community “to bring those children inside.”

She said they serve families in a variety of configurations, even at some of their shelters, families with pets. They have 400 beds across King County in nighttime shelters, as well as day centers, in downtown and Aurora/130th (their “family center,” open to all of their shelter guests every day). The families are “in community,” sitting around tables together, in Kids Club together, “supporting each other,” she said. She said they partner with dozens of nonprofits to offer help, assistance, resources. “Our goal is that you will not spend all day looking for 10 diapers,” for example. “Most importantly, we are able to help intervene in the trauma that is going on now – it can take six months for families to get beds in shelter, and that is unacceptable to us.” They have counselors, they ensure kids are enrolled in school, and they try to alleviate crises. “There’s nothing too horrible, too yucky, too bad that’s happened to you that we can’t talk about. … The goal is, we’re going to move you in and out of Mary’s Place as soon as possible.” But they will first be checking on financial stability, for example. A third of the people they serve are refugees and immigrants, who don’t get assistance for as long as possible. They have employers who come in and even hire on site. They do background checks, sex-offender checks, screen out for Class A felonies, etc. She says they’re all about healing and help. “This is solvable. 650 families. The beds that would be available at this shelter would be life-saving.” She said all but 10 percent of their current funding is privately provided. She said they are always looking for “that next building” to use until somebody redevelops it. And she spoke about the importance of intervening with children and families.

One attendee who had been an outspoken critic of the original shelter plan, Joseph Benavides, voiced some continuing concerns including the intersection by 8th/108th not being sufficiently configured. “I love the plan, I love everything about it” otherwise, he said. Ellerbrook said they are talking with King County Roads about safety issues there.

Hartman reiterated that they have just come into the process and expect to be assisting about 25 people for starters.

And they are continuing to work on practicalities such as laundry and hygiene, just getting some folks inside this winter, and then continuing to work on the building. Mary’s Place staff will be there 24/7 and will have a round-the-clock on-call number. “We’re not perfect neighbors all the time … sometimes an aid car will pull up … six children were admitted to the hospital this week with respiratory problems … this week a lady’s water broke right in the lobby.”

But: “In every neighborhood we’ve been in, we’ve made the neighborhood better,” she declared. “Our parents are so big on keeping things safe for their kids … there’s nothing like a momma bear.” If there is something bothering neighbors, Mary’s Place wants to know, she said, adding that their curfew is 8:30 pm, lights out by 9, every day.

Ellenbrook said there will be a three-way agreement “between the county, Mary’s Place, and the community.” A community-work-group meeting “the week of the 15th” will work on it further. There also, Ellerbrook added, will be quarterly community meetings to talk about how things are going, what’s needed, and more.

“It’s really been a remarkable process,”said NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, considering, as she pointed out, “nobody’s yelling here tonight” – in comparison to the emotions that ran high during the community meeting September 15th. “This is just a wonderful compromise that will work.” Benavides added. “The wholesomeness of this whole approach is what this community is all about.”

“I think they really listened,” NHUAC president Liz Giba said about the county reps who were at last month’s meeting (WCN coverage here), including department director Adrienne Quinn.

The discussion concluded with applause.

SEATTLE’S MYERS WAY ENCAMPMENT PLAN: This was discussed at two points in the meeting. Early on, during the community-announcements section, Gunner Scott of the Highland Park Action Committee community council spoke about the Seattle city announcement earlier in the day of a sanctioned encampment at the city-owned Myers Way Parcels (here’s the story on our partner site West Seattle Blog).

Scott said, “It’s probably a done deal but what we can do – working together- is probably, negotiate terms.” He said that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has been invited to HPAC’s next meeting in January to talk about this as well as other things. He said that the city told him that Camp Second Chance – which has been at the site, without authorization, since summer – would likely be asked to stay as a self-managed encampment, possibly with some “religious organizations” that they’ve been working with. President Giba said that Seattle’s director of homelessness George Scarola told her that they believe about 20 people are living at CSC right now; the city’s plan for the site could more than double that. Later in the meeting, she said that she had spoken to him to ensure that NH would be included in discussions with community leaders. And she said he told her the city would be reaching out to some of the people living unsheltered along Myers Way, but not in the camp, to see if they would join it.

CRIME UPDATES: King County Sheriff’s Office storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer said “Car thefts are really high,” but almost everything else is down. “It’s unusual that you’d have this cluster of this many auto thefts – they’re usually taken as transportation. … Burglaries are really down a lot,” he added.

The local KCSO storefront is now in its new HQ at Steve Cox Memorial Park, announced months ago.

REMEMBERING DEPUTY COX: Giba noted that today (the day after the meeting) is the 10th anniversary of Deputy Cox’s murder on December 2, 2006. “He was a deputy, he was a leader, he was a good friend … he drew people in and tried to get you involved … he decided early on that I needed some mentoring, and he spent some hours trying to accomplish that.” He was also president of NHUAC at the time. She said she tried to get him to take that day off so he could go speak to the Seattle City Council, to tell them to “leave us alone” …but he said he had to work, and told them “you guys can handle it.” She observed, “I feel like that was the message he left to the whole community – ‘you guys can handle it’ – I feel like that’s what we have done.” One example, she said, was the way the shelter had worked out. “He loved kids, he was a new dad, I feel somewhere he is smiling.”

Others’ memories:

“He was an excellent human being.”
“He was a kind of person who just does things. He loved the community.”
“There are some really strong people lost in this community over the years … it’s really up to all of us to continue his legacy. .. We’re a community, we have to stick together, it’s only together that we can work on these issues … if we’re together, we’re powerful.”

The King County Sheriff’s Office will pay tribute to Deputy Cox and 15 others who died in the line of duty in the department’s history at a plaque dedication downtown this morning. WCN will be there.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Pat Price announced a survey that the King County Library System is conducting (we will add the link when we get it) … Bob Price announced a fundraising dinner Friday (December 9th) 5:30 pm at the White Center Eagles for Jubilee Days….Giba announced Rudy Garza‘s art exhibit tonight (Friday), 5-7 pm, at Dubsea Coffee in Greenbridge … Mark Johnston said King County is due out with its first “marijuana report” on potential retail-store sites soon….White Center Kiwanis and New Start Key Club will have the annual baked-potato dinner January 12th at the school, $15 for one ticket, $25 for two, $30 for a family. …

NHUAC BOARD RESIGNATIONS: Elizabeth Devine says work demands will require her to leave the NHUAC board. Also, since the last meeting, Dominic Barrera has resigned. So the board is looking for prospective new members – contact info is on the NHUAC website.

SUBSTANCE-ABUSE SURVEY: Former NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon brought a survey that’s ready for more community members’ participation. She’s representing a coalition that got a grant they’ll be working on next year, focusing on preventing substance abuse among middle-schoolers. She also had warm words for the community youth who had spoken in favor of a family homeless shelter replacing the county’s original idea for the Public Health building. The grant with which she and the coalition is working is from revenue generated by marijuana businesses in the area. We’ve featured the survey before – go here for the links if you haven’t answered it yet.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets on the first Thursday of most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District HQ – watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings.

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WHITE CENTER SHELTER: County takes task force’s suggestion, changes plan to ‘family shelter’

November 30th, 2016 at 4:48 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | 9 Comments »

(WCN file photo of future shelter site)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Two and a half months after that tumultuous meeting about a proposed shelter at the former King County Public Health building at 8th SW/SW 108th, the proposal has changed.

At the urging of a small community task force that was formed in the wake of that meeting, the county is now planning a “family shelter” for the space instead of a shelter for single adults and couples. The original plan drew sharp criticisms including its proximity to school and park facilities and the proposal for it to be “no-barrier.”

We just talked with the county’s point person, Housing and Community Development manager Mark Ellerbrook, who will be at tomorrow night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting to present a briefing about the new plan.

“The proposal to open it as an (adults-only) shelter is no longer on the table,” Ellerbrook confirmed. They’re also no longer planning to work with the Salvation Army, but instead, they expect the operator will be Mary’s Place, which already runs shelter space for families elsewhere in the region. (Its executive director will join Ellerbrook at the NHUAC meeting.)

Mary’s Place had toured the space “a couple times,” and gave a presentation at last night’s meeting of the task force.

This means a modification in the permit application for changing the building’s use, Ellerbrook said, and that means they’re not likely to be able to open the facility any sooner than January.

The shelter also likely will operate with fewer people than first planned; while they were discussing a capacity of 70 under the original plan, they’re now thinking more like 25 to 30 people, according to Ellerbrook. “Obviously we need more shelter for all populations across the county,” he said. “Countywide, 600 families are in need of shelter.” The prospective client base for the new White Center plan, he said, would be the families of Highline Public Schools student currently experiencing homelessness; as of the most recent county, that includes 36 families with 76 students.

What would the definition of family be in this context? we asked.

As discussed by Mary’s Place, Ellerbrook said, it could be a parent and child – that could include adult children – maybe a single parent, maybe a couple, maybe a multigenerational family. “We need to work through the details.” Mary’s Place has some families in its North Seattle shelter with up to eight members, he said.

While they were touring the site, he added, a family came by “and asked if the shelter was open yet.”

The first step toward this is the permit modification, as they are “trying to figure out” what will be needed, such as, potentially, hygiene facilities. They might open and continue making modifications while they’re already in operation, “so we could get it operating and see what tweaks need to be made.”

What would happen, we asked, to the other people in White Center that the county had planned to serve?

Ellerbrook said the new county budget has $6 million in funding for “two shelters in and around downtown for single adults, 24/7 shelters we were discussing, as the family shelter will now operate … as we do outreach to (people experiencing homelessness) in White Center,” they would hope to be able to point those people toward the future downtown shelters.

How much will the family-shelter plan cost? we asked. Ellerbrook says they don’t yet know what the county’s share of the cost would be and how much Mary’s Place might be able to operate.

Overall, he lauded “a good process (working with) the community at large to really identify the need and the issues in the community” resulting in this change of plans.

But bring your questions to tomorrow’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, 7 pm at North Highline Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th). After that, Ellerbrook says, there will be a second community meeting about the new shelter proposal, but the date’s not yet set – “probably early January.”

BACKSTORY: NHUAC’s September meeting brought first public word of the planned shelter, though the county later acknowledged the plan had been in the works for months. The community task force that generated the family-shelter plan was created following the raucous-at-times September 15th community meeting.

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