‘Probable homicide’ under investigation in Top Hat

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:25 am Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | Comments Off

Few details yet but according to King County Sheriff’s Twitter account, a “probable homicide” is being investigated right now in Top Hat. KCSO says “Major Crimes detectives” are on scene, as is the Medical Examiner, in the 10700 block of 6th Avenue S. (map).


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Special visitors at Cascade Middle School: Seahawks players, for the United Way ‘Hometown Huddle’!

October 21st, 2014 at 3:20 pm Posted in Highline School District, White Center news | Comments Off


We didn’t get a chance to stop by Cascade Middle School this afternoon during this big event because of a breaking story in West Seattle, but we’re glad to share photos posted on Twitter by the Seahawks (above) and Highline Public Schools (below):


Here’s what this was all about, from the advance advisory sent to media:

Seahawks players will pay a visit to Cascade Middle School, making classroom visits, helping students get active with NFL Play 60 activity stations, and providing a lesson on eating healthy while serving a nutritious snack. United Way volunteers from Costco and architectural design firm the DLR Group will be remodeling and renovating the school’s shared youth center earlier in the day as part of United Way’s Hometown Huddle program

The NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle is a league-wide day of service focused on helping kids lead healthy and successful lives.

HPS promises more photos to come on its Facebook page.

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Update – found! Earlier – Have you seen Luna the dog?

October 20th, 2014 at 12:51 pm Posted in burien, Pets, White Center news | Comments Off

ORIGINAL REPORT: From the inbox:

My name is Rachael and on 10/18/2014 my Siberian Husky, Luna, got out of our yard. We live at the North end of Burien. I am begging everyone to please keep their eye out for her. She has distinctive “snake bite” marks on her muzzle and a dark mask with blue eyes. She is very friendly and was last seen at 10019 Des Moines Memorial Drive, Burien WA 98168. She is federally registered with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities) as a service companion and she is needed and missed. There is a reward for her safe return. Please call Rachael at 775-770-4569 or Cory at 206-683-2112 if she is found or sighted.

THURSDAY UPDATE: King County Sheriff’s Office has this short and sweet update via Twitter:

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Julian Chivington announced by King County Sheriff’s Office as new White Center storefront deputy

October 20th, 2014 at 8:48 am Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | Comments Off

Three months after Deputy BJ Myers moved to a new role with the King County Sheriff’s Office, his successor as White Center Storefront Deputy has been announced. Just in from KCSO spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates:

Deputy Julian Chivington has been selected as the new storefront deputy for the White Center community. Deputy Chivington has been with the King County Sheriff’s Office since 2008, and his most recent assignment was with the bicycle unit of our Metro Transit Police unit.

Earlier in his career he worked as a patrol deputy at our north precinct, primarily in the North Bend area. Prior to that, he worked as a patrol deputy assigned to our city of Shoreline contract.

In addition to his duties as the White Center storefront deputy, he is a member of our department’s TAC 30 team.

Deputy Chivington is looking forward to getting to know both the citizens and businesses of the White Center community.

A bit of his background is as follows:

He is originally from a small town in Ohio, leaving there when he joined the military. Deputy Chivington spent six and a half years serving in the U.S. Army, stationed initially at Fort Benning, and later at Fort Lewis. He was deployed to Iraq twice. On one of those deployments he was injured as a result of an IED which resulted in his military career being cut short.

Just two months ago, local leaders voiced concerns that the storefront deputy position might not be filled, and started a petition drive. If you don’t meet Deputy Chivington sooner, we’re told the Sheriff’s Office will be featured prominently at the next North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting (7 pm Thursday, November 6th), so make plans to be there.

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North Highline Fire District meeting Monday: ‘Benefit charge’ hearing, too

October 17th, 2014 at 5:00 pm Posted in North Highline Fire District, White Center news | Comments Off

North Highline Fire District invites you to its commissioners’ meeting next Monday (October 20th), 7 pm at NHFD headquarters, because it’s a double-duty meeting – it’s also a public hearing related to the “benefit charge” approved by voters earlier this year, along with a chance to find out more about the district’s revenue expectation for next year. You can see the full agenda here.

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Man stabbed in 1st Avenue SW home

October 17th, 2014 at 12:25 pm Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | Comments Off

King County Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating a stabbing in a home near 1st SW and 108th early today. The victim was taken to a hospital with injuries described as life-threatening; they don’t believe the attack was random. The suspect left in a 1996 Ford Probe, blue with a red bumper, WA license APA0835 – call 911 if you see it.

CORRECTION 10/20: The victim was male, not female as our original headline had said.

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Go batty with White Center talk on October 25th

October 12th, 2014 at 7:33 pm Posted in White Center news, Wildlife | Comments Off


Thanks to Michelle for tweeting that announcement, which we probably wouldn’t have heard about otherwise – McLendon Hardware in White Center invites you to learn about bats, 11 am October 25th. Just in time for Halloween .. but they’re not as scary as you think! More info here.

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Mount View Elementary among Highline schools to get Techbridge

October 6th, 2014 at 9:36 pm Posted in Education, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news | Comments Off

Announced today by Highline Public Schools:

Highline Public Schools is the first school district in Washington to offer an acclaimed program that gives girls an opportunity to explore technology-related fields. Techbridge, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring girls in science, technology and engineering, has selected Highline Public Schools as the first site of its national expansion.

Beginning in October, Techbridge will engage up to 200 girls in grades 5 through 8 in science, technology and engineering learning through hands-on activities, role models and career exploration. The program will be offered at five elementary schools (Beverly Park, Hazel Valley, Madrona, McMicken Heights, and Mount View) and two middle schools (Chinook and Sylvester.)

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with Techbridge to inspire our girls to become tomorrow’s scientists and engineers,” said Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield. “Techbridge is one more way we are supporting our goal for 19 out of 20 of today’s first graders to graduate tech-savvy and tech-literate.”

National expansion was made possible by a five-year $2.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring Techbridge’s award-winning after-school program to three cities across the U.S.

“I am thrilled to be part of an organization that truly inspires and empowers girls through science, technology and engineering,” said Elizabeth Pauley Hodges, Techbridge Greater Seattle Executive Director. “We are very excited to partner with Highline Public Schools and give girls at our partner sites the opportunity to benefit from the high quality programming Techbridge provides.”

For the past 14 years, Techbridge after-school programs have served more than 5,000 girls in grades 5-12 focusing on underrepresented communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Annexation tax credit expiring – will another tax emerge? – and other North Highline Unincorporated Area Council topics

October 2nd, 2014 at 9:11 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Issues from annexation to homelessness, with many more along the way, were part of the discussion tonight at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s October meeting:

STATE REP. JOE FITZGIBBON: He came with an update on the legislative session, starting with a status report on the annexation sales-tax credit, a key tool if the remaining North Highline area is ever to be annexed to a city. The tax credit expires December 31st of this year; Fitzgibbon sponsored legislation to renew it last session, but wasn’t successful – he said the overall state budget concerns made it an “uphill battle” for any sort of tax credit. This doesn’t mean “the tax credit can’t come back,” he said, but doesn’t expect any sort of incentive to be in the same format – maybe “a medium-term funding solution can be found.” He said that the city of Seattle had told legislators that they couldn’t make annexation pencil out “even WITH the tax credit,” saying they’d want a higher credit – doubled, in fact. “We were not able to offer that,” he said dryly. In response to a question, he said he did not envision support for annexation without a public vote. “One of the ideas that’s been floated is that you could create a special taxing district in this area to fund public safety needs” but not indefinitely, “that can work for the time being until such time as Burien or Seattle decides to offer annexation again.”

The McCleary decision, requiring the state to fully fund education, will mean up to $3 billion more is needed – “almost 10 percent of our state budget” – and legislators are trying to figure out how to get that money. Fitzgibbon says he thinks it has to be raised via an additional revenue source. “We’ll probably be working on that for many months in the 2015 session.”

On transportation, he believes there is a “continuing need” for the Legislature to provide “local funding options” for transit and roads, among other things.

An income tax would be good, multiple attendees tell Fitzgibbon, who noted that it was shot down last time it was on a statewide ballot. He says he supported it and would also support a capital-gains tax, which he expects will be discussed in the coming year.

KING COUNTY CONSORTIUM CONSOLIDATED HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN: Valerie Kendall came to presenthis is related to federal grant money, explained in handouts with lots of numbers, charts, and trends. One note of interest: Average rent in South King County is currently $988; in East King County, it’s $1,474; in North King County, $1,225. The county is working on a plan to end homelessness, the guest declared. She said they’re expecting to have to help many seniors – the “silver tsunami.” Overall, she said, her presentation was meant to “capture the pulse of the community” with where things stand and where they are going. You can take an online survey by going here. She heard concerns from NHUAC board members that some of the county’s policies have led to concentrations of poverty in the White Center area.

WELCOME TO WHITE CENTER: A family introduced themselves saying that they bought into Greenbridge, priced out of Seattle, and want to get involved with the community.

NO WORD YET ON A NEW STOREFRONT DEPUTY … according to president Dobkin. She suggests anyone and everyone with questions/concerns should contact Major Jerrell Wills and Sheriff John Urquhart.

BIKE CORRAL COMPROMISE? Bong Sto.Domingo from the county said he had been at a meeting prior to this one and a new plan is in the works.

NEW NHUAC BOARD MEMBER: Elizabeth Devine, a social worker with the Veterans Administration, said she has no political experience but admires neighborhood solidarity – “I’m one of your neighbors and I want to contribute.” She has lived in North Highline for five years. She lived in Capitol Hill before that, and says she “couldn’t have afforded a garage” there. She says she’s been burglarized twice and “I want to stand up for our neighborhood.” NHUAC members voted unanimously to appoint her to the board, and she took office immediately. President Dobkin explained that two board members had been lost recently because of factors in their lives. Anyone interested in joining NHUAC can e-mail her.

HIGHLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOND OPPONENT: Karen Steele of Normandy Park spoke in opposition to the $385 million bond measure on the November ballot. She says the bonds approved in 2002 and 2006 are not yet paid off so it will be $1 billion worth of bonds that the district is paying off until 2035. She thinks that will be a tax burden rendering some residences unaffordable. “More money does not mean better schools,” she concluded. Here’s the text of the ballot measure. An attendee pointed out that these are bonds and the money only can be spent on buildings, not salaries, about which Steele had raised concerns. It was noted that Highline Public Schools has not reached out to NHUAC to see their support or at least make their pitch; someone else noted that citizens should attend school board meetings and get involved.

NEW LIBRARY: Questions are swirling around the project, including its status, word of a six-foot fence, and what the library system plans to do with the parcel it won’t be keeping.

BOARD ANNOUNCEMENTS: Council member Pat Price says discussions are under way about a possible tribute to Dick Thurnau, maybe even renaming the park to which he devoted so much time and care (Lakewood Park, home to Hicklin Lake), maybe a plaque honoring him. Some fundraising is expected. … Council member Liz Giba reminds everyone that the White Center Food Bank fundraising dinner is October 18th, the more there, the better.

INVITATION: Southwest Suburban Sewer District board commissioner Bill Tracy invited everyone to find out more about the district, including taking a look at its Salmon Creek treatment plant.

SERVICE AREA GRANT APPLICATION TIME: Interested in one of King County’s community-engagement grants? Apply by the December deadline – details here.

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Have you seen Dooley the dog?

October 1st, 2014 at 5:20 am Posted in Pets, White Center news | Comments Off

Courtney is hoping you can help find Dooley the dog:

My dog Dooley got out of my yard on Tuesday around 6 pm. 1400 block SW 114th St., between 14th and 15th, a block from the McDonald’s on 16th. He is a miniature Australian shepherd dachshund mix. 8 yrs old 17 lbs. He needs pain pills for a shoulder injury. Has a limp, left front leg. Sometimes it’s little, and sometimes it’s worse. I’ve called all the vets and shelters in the area. My friends went door to door all around to ask around. Any help would be amazing. Thank you. 206-446-4059

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Rep. Fitzgibbon, ‘Consolidated Plan’ top the agenda for Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

September 28th, 2014 at 5:32 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 1 Comment »

At least two major reasons to be at Thursday’s meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – explained in this agenda summary from NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
WHEN: Thursday, ***October 2*** (corrected date) at 7 pm
WHERE: North Highline Fire Station – 1243 SW 112th Street

Mark your calendars and join NHUAC for a very informative community discussion with 34th District Legislative Representative, Joe Fitzgibbon. Find out what is happening in Olympia, and how it impacts us in North Highline, and more importantly, how we can impact legislative decisions.

We are also pleased to be hosting Valerie Kendall, King County Housing and Community Development Planner. Ms. Kendall will be providing important information regarding the “King County Consortium – Consolidated Plan”:

“The Consolidated Plan is the guide to the investment of approximately $6 million per year in federal housing and community development funds, and an additional $47 million per year in other federal or related state and local funds, to address housing, homelessness, and community development needs throughout the King County Consortium. The Consortium includes nearly all cities and towns in King County and the unincorporated areas of King County outside of the City of Seattle.”

This is an important opportunity to learn how we can have input on how this money will be spent in North Highline – funding can be allocated for sidewalks, park improvements, etc. – What would you like to see in our community? They want to hear from us –

We are also pleased to be interviewing North Highline resident, Elizabeth Devine, for an open seat on the NHUAC board –

See you there!

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School bus and car collide; no serious injuries

September 25th, 2014 at 8:26 am Posted in Shorewood, White Center news | Comments Off

In case you saw this and wondered – a Highline Public Schools bus was involved in a collision with a car at 28th SW and SW 106th this morning, but everyone on the bus is OK, and were being transferred to the other bus you see in our photo, according to a KCSO deputy on the scene. The driver was being checked out for what was described as a possible wrist injury. Tow crews were arriving and this wasn’t expected to impede traffic for too much longer.

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Happy 5th anniversary, Proletariat Pizza!

September 19th, 2014 at 11:07 pm Posted in Businesses, restaurants, White Center news | 3 Comments »

While out covering the United Way Day of Caring this morning, we stopped by Caffé Delia for coffee, and learned big news from their neighbors at Proletariat PizzaMike and Stefanie Albaeck told us they have just marked five years of serving “the pizza that made White Center famous.” In August 2009, we showed a photo of the sign going up outside their restaurant on 16th SW in the heart of the main WC business district; a few weeks later, they were open and have been drawing crowds ever since. By the way, see those artistically decorated pizza peels behind Stefanie and Mike? We’re told they are up for silent auction for a few more weeks, with proceeds going to the White Center Food Bank. Go in and make a bid! And congratulate the Albaecks, while you’re there.

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United Way of King County brings Day of Caring volunteers to White Center

September 19th, 2014 at 1:24 pm Posted in White Center Food Bank, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Extra help at the White Center Food Bank today – volunteers from Bentall Kennedy are there on behalf of the United Way of King County‘s “Day of Caring.” Countywide, more than 11,000 volunteers are working on projects at more than 500 sites.

P.S. Got your ticket for the WCFB’s 10th annual Harvest Dinner and Auction yet? It’s just four weeks away – on October 18th.

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Storytelling this Friday! Learn about Ukraine with Trusted Advocates

September 17th, 2014 at 8:54 am Posted in White Center news | Comments Off

You’ve heard about Ukraine’s struggle – now get a closer look, this Friday at Seola Gardens:

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County’s Greenbridge clinic to be spared, with new Planned Parenthood partnership plus City of Seattle $

September 15th, 2014 at 1:14 pm Posted in Health, White Center news | Comments Off

The Seattle-King County Public Health clinic in Greenbridge was facing the ax because of county-budget challenges – but it’s been spared, if a plan announced this afternoon in White Center goes through. County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, acting Public Health Director Patty Hayes, Seattle Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest CEO Chris Charbonneau were there – as were we and other media – for the announcement detailed in this news release from the executive’s office:

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a partnership with the City of Seattle and Planned Parenthood to preserve critical health services for women, children, and families in White Center and surrounding areas.

“Through innovative partnerships like this we can keep providing the important health services our clients need, despite cuts to the federal and state funding that supported those services,” said Executive Constantine. “I want to thank Mayor Murray and our partners at Planned Parenthood for helping us ensure that children are born healthy and able to reach their full potential.”

Due to continual and sharp declines in the federal and state funds that support public health, the Public Health Center at Greenbridge was proposed by the department earlier this summer for closure.

Under the new partnership, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest will provide family planning services at the facility, while Public Health continues to provide Women, Infant and Children (WIC) and Maternity Support services for the next two years. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has committed $400,000 in 2015 to help keep Greenbridge open and preserve a variety of public health services.

Key details of the partnership include:

*Relocation of Planned Parenthood from its current West Seattle clinic to Greenbridge, a King County Housing Authority development.

*Continuation of family planning services at Greenbridge, with Planned Parenthood as the service provider.

*Creation of a family planning “access committee” to provide countywide accountability and oversight, and assurance that all county residents maintain access to the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods; services for prevention and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases for men and women; and screening for cervical cancer.

*Continued provision by Public Health of Maternity Support Services and WIC services at Greenbridge.

“Healthy women and healthy children are vital to a healthy Seattle – that’s why my budget proposal commits $400,000 in City funds in 2015 to ensure Greenbridge continues to provide critical services such as prenatal care and the WIC program to all Seattle residents, in addition to several other important services,” said Mayor Murray. “I look forward to working with the County Executive as we search for a new Director of Public Health who will institute sustainable improvements to our business management of vital public health programs.”

The partnership with Planned Parenthood provides family planning services for all – regardless of ability to pay – at the same location where Public Health has served the White Center community for more than 50 years, primarily assisting women, mothers, and young children.

“As the leading family planning medical provider in the Pacific Northwest, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is a natural fit to step in and ensure continuity of care in White Center, West Seattle, and surrounding communities,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. “Through this partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County, we remain committed to providing high-quality, affordable reproductive health care for the women, men, and teens who need it most.”

“As the transition of providers happens at Greenbridge public health center, Planned Parenthood is acutely focused on ensuring that residents in the community continue to receive the same level of comprehensive family planning services. Our goal is that no one falls through the cracks,” added Charbonneau.

Serving the community

The service area of the White Center clinic extends to West Seattle, Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Des Moines. Many of its services are delivered by a team that can include nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and community health workers, who also help clients find everything from housing to an obstetrician.

“White Center families are from many different backgrounds – Latino, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Somali, Samoan – and our Public Health staff helps them navigate important issues like nutrition, breastfeeding, and physical activity,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who is also chair of the King County Board of Health. “These are all important components of families raising healthy babies and thriving young children.”

“I’ve seen first-hand what a difference it makes when a Public Health nurse visits with an expecting mom and begins to help the mom and the rest of the household prepare a healthy environment for that new baby – so preserving these services wherever possible is a high priority,” said Patty Hayes, Interim Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Executive Constantine will present his 2015/2016 Executive Proposed Budget to the Metropolitan King County Council on Sept. 22, while continuing to work with cities and community partners to preserve critical public health services elsewhere in King County.

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In case you heard the sirens: Fire on 1st Ave. S.

September 13th, 2014 at 3:15 am Posted in fire, White Center news | Comments Off

We first heard about it when Skyway Fire tweeted that it had equipment en route to help with a commercial fire in North Highline, 11400 block of 1st Avenue S. No further details but KING 5 photojournalist Doug Dillon got to the scene and reported, also via Twitter, that the fire’s out:

We’ll update if any other details are reported.

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About the motorcycle crash last Sunday morning

September 11th, 2014 at 12:36 pm Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | Comments Off

We received a few questions about a motorcycle crash near the Chase Bank in White Center early Sunday. Sorry that it’s taken us so long to get the information, but in case you were still wondering, here’s what King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates is able to tell us:

There was a serious-injury, one-motorcycle collision on 09.07.14 around 2:30 AM at SW 98 and White Center Cutoff Road.

The sole driver (no passenger) was taken to Harborview with life-threatening injuries but I’ve had no update on his current condition.

The driver was a 34 year old man last known to have a Whatcom County address. Detectives from our Major Accident and Reconstruction Unit responded. It’s believed speed and alcohol and/or drugs were factors. The investigation will take some time to complete.

Thanks to those who asked – you are welcome to text/call us about breaking White Center news any time at our main WSB/WCN number, 206-293-6302 – usually we’ll find out faster, but this time we weren’t able to get out to the scene.

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‘Can Ferguson Happen Here?’ meeting Wednesday night

September 9th, 2014 at 4:37 pm Posted in White Center news | 3 Comments »

Tomorrow (Wednesday, September 10th) night, you’re invited to a meeting in which White Center Community Development Association‘s Sili Savusa is participating, tackling a question of interest to us all. As announced by King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove (who provides more context here):

Public Meeting:
Can Ferguson Happen Here?

What:
Can Ferguson Happen here? – An open panel discussion and audience questions about South King County’s relationship with King County law enforcement including:

· Militarization of the Police

· King County law enforcement’s relationship with our diverse communities

· Lessons learned from recent events in Ferguson, Missouri

Who:
King County Sheriff John Urquhart
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg
Sili Savusa, White Center CDA
Dr. Edward Donalson, III, Kingdom Family Worship Center in Kent
Jorge Barón, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Jim Graddon, Member of advisory panel to King County’s Office of Law Enforcement
Oversight (OLEO)

The discussion is hosted by King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and moderated by local Emmy award winning broadcaster, Enrique Cerna.

When:
September 10, 2014. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Panel discussion and audience questions from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Where:
Tyee High School Cafeteria, 4424 S 188th Street, SeaTac

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Personnel shortage hits King County Sheriff’s Office hard, precinct commander tells North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 7th, 2014 at 3:25 pm Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, safety, White Center news | 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Tough to have a meeting during a big game – but the issues before the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council couldn’t wait, and its Thursday night meeting went on as scheduled, despite the Seahawks’ concurrent home opener (ending, just before the meeting ended, with fireworks exploded by fans somewhere, audibly, nearby).

The marquee guest was King County Sheriff’s Office precinct commander Major Jerrell Wills (photo above), speaking about changes in KCSO, including scheduling changes, and the storefront-deputy situation (as previously reported, Deputy BJ Myers has been promoted to a new role and is no longer in the storefront; West Hill, to the east, has lost its storefront deputy too).

Maj. Wills said two candidates initially had sought the North Highline position, and neither worked out; he posted the job again (along with West Hill) and had no applicants, so he reposted, and “still doesn’t have any interested applicants” though the second posting was about to expire.

He says, “I’m not inclined to just pick someone” – a community liaison is a position to which he doesn’t favor drafting an appointee, he says, so he plans to discuss it again with Sheriff John Urquhart – he will not repost it, but hopes the sheriff will be “open to some of my operational ideas.” But, he says, White Center does still have “what most communities don’t have” – a community service officer (Peter Truong).

Major Wills stressed repeatedly that the “storefront deputy” is not the only KCSO position that can respond to concerns. Asked about current staffing, 6 deputies are on in the area per shift – 2 on Vashon, 2 in White Center/North Highline, 2 in Skyway. That would be more, Maj. Wills said, except for the fact his precinct alone has eight vacancies – the personnel situation is not a budget problem, but a personnel shortage problem, he insisted, adding that retirements are hitting the KCSO hard; many are getting to 30 years of service. (He mentioned that he’s been serving for 26 years.)

“We’re fighting an uphill battle,” he said about the problem, “so now we’re in a situation we’re calling redeployment.” For example, detectives who might be in specialized areas are being “redeployed to supplant our lack of staffing just to keep us at six (in the precinct) each shift.” That’s been happening since July and the union has agreed to let them keep doing it through January – “just so we can get to minimum every day.” And yet the retirements and other departures keep coming, he said.

“If not for the (staffing shortage), would we have more deputies assigned to the community?” asked NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin. Yes, there would be more per shift, Maj. Wills said. “What would that number be?” he was asked, but he didn’t have the specific number. “Per shift you might have two to three additional people.”

The attrition/recruiting problems are not unique to KCSO, Maj. Wills said. He also pointed out that the process of going through the academy causes a fair number of dropouts. They want to fill the positions, he insisted, “it’s just a challenge.”

Council member Elizabeth Gordon then asked Maj. Wills about homelessness/graffiti problems in certain areas, and he said he didn’t know about those specific problems, but did have an update on the pond/bog area. “That’s been a source of homeless encampments for some time,” he said, for the entirety of the two years he’s been here. Now signage is posted “all over” to warn campers that clearing is coming – “signage everywhere to notify, you can’t be in here, this is not a campground. … That’s the first part, education,” he said. Next part is cleaning – “King County code enforcement has been actively partnering with us to clean up the hedges, etc.” The cleanup was expected to start the following day and “they’re going to cut a road” so deputies can drive into the area, he added.

Once it’s been cleaned up, “then we’re going to go in and identify the people who are in there illegally and serve them with written notice that ‘you, John Doe, are no longer able to come back here … you’ve been warned’.” Then Community Service Officer Truong will help with figuring out some possible services/referrals for the people who are there: “We can’t arrest our way out of this,” declared Maj. Wills, so they hope to find housing/services for campers rather than just hauling them off to jail.

Major Wills also brought up the recent White Center bicycle-corral meeting and said while he’s not voicing a position on the proposed parking configuration, he found it helpful to be at that meeting – held in the KCSO storefront – to hear community concerns such as fears about safety (and lack of it) in the alleys. He said he plans to do some foot patrol in the alleys – “not to make arrests (but to) survey some of the issues I’m hearing about, the homeless, alcohol- and drug-addicted people who are impacting residents of North Highline.”

Another attendee wondered about whether anything can be done to attract a business or traffic to the vacant grocery store at 1st/112th in Top Hat, because, she says, it’s become a magnet for trouble. Dobkin said she’s been in touch with the owner, a Bellevue resident, who told Dobkin she is getting ready to sell the site, which is why there was tank abatement recently.

All in all, Maj. Wills said that they’re just trying to do “something” about a variety of problems. But, the people now camping at the bog “are not going to just vanish,” he said, then quipping, “It would be great if they would just go to the north side of Roxbury.”

Asked about recurring graffiti problems, he said covering it up as fast as possible is vital, or else it might just attract more.

A Metro Transit Police deputy (that agency is part of the King County Sheriff’s Office), Bill Kennamer, spoke up after Maj. Wills departed. He said he is assigned to the general West Seattle/White Center/vicinity area. The trouble spots he has addressed include 15th/Roxbury – “we’ve pushed them away, and now we all know where they are, they’re in the valley. … I try to tackle transit-related community problems.” He said he had “come to an agreement” with people who had sat in bus stops drinking their beer. He said, “The bus system is better now than it was before.”

Asked if the Westwood Village transit concentration had made anything worse, he said he had a “problem-solving project” open for that area, visited it “dozens and dozens of times,” and “closed it” because “the problems there are not Metro problems, they are park problems.”

There was a question about new graffiti vandalism on the former restaurant property on 16th/Ambaum, and about vandalism painted on some of the commercial buildings in downtown White Center. In general, it was reminded, they need to get owners’ permission to clean up graffiti and other such problems on private property.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who was in attendance, was asked if his office might have meetings, a regular meet-and-greet, or a regular presence in downtown White Center. He said it might not be efficient or ideal for his office to continuously be the filter for county issues, when county government has other agencies and reps who can work with the community directly. But, McDermott added, he was there because it’s helpful to hear about community concerns.

Council member Gordon, who had brought up the issue, said that made sense but she asked because the community seems “fractured” and CM McDermott could be a “unifying force.”

Overall, president Dobkin explained, “We have a lot of issues here, and people feel like we’re being abandoned,” due to various factors, including the ongoing unincorporated status. “I mean, there are people sleeping in my alley. … People think everything is great in White Center, but it’s not.”

WANT TO BE ON THE NHUAC BOARD? If you live and/or work in the area, you’re invited to be part of it. Contact Dobkin through the NHUAC website.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: First thing on the agenda at the meeting:

*Council member Gordon had just come from a community-development forum in SeaTac and said those involved would be happy to have input from North Highline, such as “What are the issues that we’re facing and what are some of the barriers or challenges in getting them addressed?” For example, she said, “… there’s a lack of connection between the county and what goes on in this area … in particular, homelessness, things that go on in the business district.” A survey is online; find it here. President Dobkin said that Valerie Kendall, from the group overseeing the forums, would be at NHUAC next month, and that the survey is open for people to voice needs such as sidewalks.

Gordon also addressed the bike-corral concerns in downtown White Center, mentioning that possible alternatives are being looked at so that “another proposal” could be put out. She said community members’ opinions are being sought as well. Dobkin said that since it seems to be controversial and divisive, regarding the corral possibly replacing two motorized-vehicle-parking spaces, she thinks NHUAC shouldn’t take a position. Council member Pat Price said she found it hard to believe 20 people would come to downtown White Center riding bicycles. Dobkin and an attendee who didn’t identify himself pointed out that some of those who participated at the meeting and expressed support for the bike corral weren’t from White Center but instead were from West Seattle.

*Gordon also mentioned the Roxbury SW road safety project that is in the works (led by the Seattle Department of Transportation) and pointed people to the proposals that had been discussed at recent meetings. Dobkin said she had been to the first of the two meetings and was concerned that much of the work seemed to be happening on the west end; Gordon pointed to some of the proposals for the east end.

*Council member Price mentioned the White Center Food Bank‘s gala is coming up next month.

From the community, Gill Loring brought up four homeless camps in the “bog” (Neighborhood Pond) area, and said that another clearing operation is apparently planned in the area. He is particularly concerned that camp residents’ waste is going into the water. He added that there’s word of someone sleeping in an alley near his house, and urged people to report to 911 if that sort of thing is found (and, he added, make sure the dispatcher is clear you’re talking about the county, not the city).

*Final announcement – Gordon said seamountathletics.com has information about local high-school sports and their need for community support.

Watch northhighlineuac.org for word of the next meeting.

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