PARKS: More King County closures

March 25th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Parks, White Center news No Comments »

Just announced:

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect public health and curb transmission of COVID-19, King County Parks is closing parks beginning Wednesday, March 25, when parking lot and trailhead gates will be locked, and restrooms will be closed. King County does not have the resources at this time to actively enforce Parks closures and social-distancing guidelines and will rely upon the public to follow the guidelines.

The closure comes on the heels of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which included guidance to further restrict groups from gatherings.

While visitors will still be able to walk into parks and back country trails and walk and bike on the regional trail network, King County is asking all residents to do their part in stopping the spread of the virus and help save lives by abiding by these closures and all social distancing guidelines. King County also urges visitors to not park illegally on roadways near parks and trails, or block park gates.

On March 20, King County Parks closed all active spaces within parks – including play areas, ballfields, sports courts, and picnic shelters, where appropriate social distancing guidelines would be difficult to maintain.

Find the latest information about any changes to Parks facilities and programming on the King County Parks Plog at

King County Parks visitors are encouraged to practice Public Health’s guidelines in preventing the spread of this virus:

Stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times.
Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

Visit to learn more about the virus and how to prevent its spread. Keep updated on the latest developments on the Public Health – Seattle & King County blog at

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March 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Coronavirus, White Center news 2 Comments »

Seen on Sunday, downtown.

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PARKS: What’s off-limits at King County Parks now

March 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Parks, White Center news No Comments »

(WCN photo)

Signs of the times at the Steve Cox Memorial Park tennis courts on Sunday, two days after this joint King County/City of Seattle announcement:

To follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines established by Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Washington Department of Health, King County Parks and Seattle Parks and Recreations are closing sports courts, playground equipment, and other active recreation areas where it could be difficult to maintain recommended social distancing guidelines.

Ballfields and playfields are open for walking and other non-team activities.

The closure includes picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open.

Pick-up games, picnics, and other large gatherings will not be permitted.

Restrooms within parks will continue to be open to the public, and will be cleaned and sanitized frequently.

“With schools closed and people adapting to new work habits, our parks and open spaces can provide an important break in these stressful times. It is clear, however, that we must continue to be vigilant in these places as well, and make sure all our residents put into practice Public Health directives,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Go for a hike. Take the family for a stroll. Kick a soccer ball around with your kids. But use good sense and avoid gatherings, team sports, pick-up games, and playground equipment.”

“Parks are beloved by all, but we must be smart about our behaviors during this unprecedented public health emergency. We are in a new normal. While individuals and families can bike, walk, or run, we cannot allow gatherings at Seattle’s best locations including Alki, Golden Gardens, Seward, Volunteer Park or Magnuson. Every single resident should take social distancing guidelines to heart – it could save someone’s life,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“We know that parks and open space provide a critical support to our communities during this difficult time, and we want to provide these opportunities to find respite and relief in nature, but we need to be able to do so in way that does not work against our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. We encourage residents and visitors to practice social distancing and not participate in organized activities that go against Public Health guidance,” said Jesus Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent. “City and County employees will be reiterating this guidance to individuals who are not practicing social distancing.”

As noted by the National Recreation and Park Association, there are a number of specific recommendations for practicing safe social distancing when in parks or on trails, including:

Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to parks and trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not visit public spaces if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.

Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.

Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers.

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QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITE: County’s update on Top Hat locaition

March 18th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 1 Comment »

(WCN file photo)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Nobody’s in the Top Hat quarantine/isolation facility (206 SW 112th) yet. But the county is launching weekly community phone meetings for updates and Q&A. We participated in the first one this afternoon.

John Taylor from Local Services, Callie Knight from the Executive’s Office, Brad Binder from Public Health, County Councilmember Joe McDermott were among those on the call.

Regarding the timeline, Knight said the timeline for opening is still “at least a week and a half” away. April 3rd is the target date, to be open for 8 four-unit trailers, including one unit to be used as an on-site office, added Christina Gonzales of Facilities, who joined the call latr. They’re still working on utility hookups. So no one is occupying it yet, but work crews continue their efforts. Demolition of the existing building hasn’t yet been completed – that’s needed to facilitate more modular units.

Regarding health staff on site, Knight said they’re still working on that and whether it would be 24/7 or not. No matter how that works, everyone who occupies the site will have a cell phone and would be checked on by “public health professionals” at least twice a day. If they needed to be moved to a health-care facility, they would be.

As for requiring people to stay there – we’re not in a police state situation, Knight said, but they hope the decision to not house anyone there with behavior-health or social-service needs, they hope it will reduce the possibility. They are working on “notification measures …so that quick communication could happen” if someone does leave against advisement.

Nearby residents are going to get in-person outreach starting tomorrow, with a team of 4 county workers, and they’ve been reaching out to local businesses and apartment managers as well.

Will the food provided for quarantined people come from local providers? They’re working on that, county reps said. Will local volunteers be needed? Coordination of offers of help is in progress. Call participants mentioned that – separate from this – Camp Second Chance on Myers Way is having trouble getting sanitary items.

Want to be on the next call? email

In addition to this site, the county also has opened a former motel in Kent, where three people are now in isolation, and also has leased a motel in Issaquah as well as working on other sites in Bellevue, Interbay, and North Seattle.

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FOOD: Lunches for Highline Public Schools students start today

March 16th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Highline School District, White Center news 1 Comment »

Today’s the first day that Highline Public Schools students will be able to pick up lunches. Times and locations are listed here.

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QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITES: King County adds two on Eastside

March 14th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, White Center news No Comments »

No occupants yet at the Top Hat site, but King County’s daily coronavirus update included this update about two new quarantine/isolation sites, both on the Eastside, plus a new shelter space:

King County continues to look to its own properties and facilities as critical assets and resources, and is also actively pursuing new acquisitions countywide that can serve the needs of our communities during this unprecedented health crisis. The county is re-purposing and dedicating the following three county properties:

King County International Airport [Boeing Field]: In a continuing effort to lower the number of people in our larger shelter locations and achieve the recommended social-distancing guidelines (six feel apart), the Arrivals Hall at the King County International Airport (7277 Perimeter Road South) is being used to provide shelter for the men, typically older adults, who usually shelter at St. Martin De Porres in Seattle. This service began on 3/13/20, and last night sheltered 80 men, 55 years or older. This action will help prevent people from becoming ill in the first place.

Eastgate Parking Lot: A fully self-contained tent, with flooring and heat, has been purchased for use as an isolation and recovery location and will be placed on the county-owned parking lot located at 13620 Eastgate Way in Bellevue. The location will have 24/7 onsite security and health services staff. The site will be available in about a week.

Issaquah Motel (new acquisition): King County Facilities Management Division has finalized a lease of a motel located at 1801 12th Avenue NW in Issaquah. We are currently considering site uses that include expanding medical support for vulnerable populations or isolation for people who do not require significant social support services, as well as step-down medical care for people who do not require hospitalization to maximize available space in regional medical facilities.

King County will continue to identify or acquire properties in all parts of the county to ensure residents are supported appropriately through this health emergency.

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CLOSING: King County Library System, after today

March 13th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Libraries, White Center news No Comments »

From the King County Library System:

Effective at 6pm today, Friday, March 13, the King County Library System (KCLS) will close all library locations to the public. These closures will remain in effect until at least April 13, or further notice, to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Like neighboring library systems in Seattle, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, this decision was made out of the utmost concern for the health, safety and well-being of library patrons, staff and the community. The scientific evidence that social distancing can help stop the spread of COVID-19 is a compelling factor in taking this precautionary step.

“Public libraries have always been about community, and the safety of our communities is paramount,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “We value your understanding of our decision during this challenging time.”

During the closure, library customers should keep items currently checked out until KCLS reopens or until further notice. All due dates have been automatically extended until April 30, and KCLS is waiving all late fees accrued between March 1 and April 30. Library staff will continue to work while buildings are closed.

During the closure, patrons are encouraged to use KCLS’ online resources and services. Residents in KCLS’ service area can sign up instantly for a digital eCard for access to:

Streaming TV and movies
Online databases and more
Tax filing resources
2020 Census

As the situation continues to evolve, KCLS will follow mandates from Washington state Governor Jay Inslee and Public Health—Seattle & King County in order to assess when it is safe to reopen our libraries. Stay connected to KCLS by:

Visiting our website
Following us on social media (Facebook and Twitter)
Contacting Ask KCLS with questions, or calling (425) 462-9600 or (800) 462-9600
Checking out KCLS blogs, podcasts, booklists and newsletters

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QUARANTINE/ISOLATION SITE: King County amends plan after Kent incident

March 13th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 5 Comments »

Received from the county this morning:

As King County’s response to COVID-19 evolves and to address community concerns, King County’s temporary housing units in Kent and White Center will be available for those individuals who are able to quarantine or isolate without the need of social services or additional supports.

On March 12, an individual experiencing homelessness and waiting test results for COVID-19 voluntarily responded to offers of service and took a room at the Kent motel currently used for isolation and quarantine.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the individual disregarded the instructions of an onsite security guard and left the motel. The individual crossed Central Avenue North and entered a convenience store, where he allegedly shoplifted items before taking a northbound Route 153 King County Metro bus. The bus was taken out of service for cleaning and sanitation.

There have only been two people in this facility so far. The first individual tested negative and left the motel.

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds and resources are rapidly moving to meet public health needs, King County is shifting the Kent and White Center sites to help people who do not need supportive social services.

Sites for those with behavioral health needs will be identified and staffed appropriately.

Public Health Seattle & King County expects that the vast majority of residents who are infected or who have symptoms will successfully isolate in their own homes. King County does not have a mandatory quarantine in place.

As we reported earlier this week, no one has been moved into the Top Hat facility yet, and the county says that might not happen for two weeks.

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With governor’s countywide order, Highline Public Schools closing too

March 12th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news No Comments »

Now that Gov. Jay Inslee has announced all K-12 schools in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties must close no later than Tuesday, Highline Public Schools are closing too. Here’s the announcement:

We have kept our schools open as long as possible, as recommended by state and local public health authorities. We know that in addition to education, schools provide vital support to our communities and that closure will have a major impact on our families.

At 2:00 p.m. today, Governor Inslee issued an executive order closing all schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties until at least April 24. All Highline schools will close to students, effective Monday, March 16.

Today, Thursday, March 12 is the last day of school, including athletics, activities and clubs. Friday, March 13 is a non-student day as normally scheduled. School offices will remain open through Friday, March 20 so families can pick up their student’s medication and other personal items.

We understand that extended school closure will create hardship for many families. The school day is the centerpiece of the lives of many people. Children count on the reliable routine that a school day offers, from the classroom setting to the many people at school who know them, care for them and provide recognition of them five days a week.

Families, too, count on that routine and the knowledge that their children are cared for during the day. It allows them to tend to their workday or focus on the other pieces of life that need to be taken care of–and there are many.

Contemplating weeks without that structure and care may seem overwhelming. Please know that we are doing our very best to make decisions that will help care for all of us through this time.

Meals for Students

Meals will be available to all students under the age of 18 starting this Monday. Locations for Monday are as follows:

Glacier Middle School | 12:00-12:30 p.m. | 2450 South 142nd Street, SeaTac
Central Office | 12:00-12:30 p.m. | 15676 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien
White Center Heights Elementary | 12:30-1:00 p.m. | 10015 6th Ave SW, Seattle

More locations will be added

No forms or registration are required. Students can drop by to pick up a meal.

Over the next few days, we will communicate additional meal locations, as well as our plan to support families in the following ways:

Providing learning support materials online, via email and hard copy. These are not meant to be a substitute for classroom instruction but will help students practice their skills and learn independently during the closure.

Providing child care for our families who need to continue working during our closure.

Providing support to our 12th-grade students to ensure they complete graduation requirements.

We will be sending frequent updates with information and resources via email, text messages, the website and social media channels.

We are so grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through this difficult situation. We will get through this challenge together. We are Highline.

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TOP HAT QUARANTINE SITE: ‘At least 2 weeks’ before anyone moves in

March 12th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 1 Comment »

Five days after an at-times-contentious phone meeting about the county’s plan to open a COVID-19 quarantine/isolation compound at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat, the promised email followup has arrived. The headline: Calli Knight from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office says, “I’ve confirmed with Facilities Management and Public Health that no one will occupy the site for at least the next two weeks. … While residents may see Facilities Management staff at the site working on utility hook-up, no one will be occupying the facilities. We are committed to giving as much advance notice as possible when the facility becomes fully operational (meaning when an individual or individuals actually utilize the facility to get well).” And Knight noted a change from what was said on Friday’s call: “Additionally, my team is working on confirming that medical staff will be on-site once the facility becomes operational.”

Meantime, she promised some of the funding approved this week by the King County Council would “provide robust language access services, and direct resources to community-based organizations in White Center” and added, “We will also continue to work through how best to support impacted businesses in White Center, Kent, and near the two facilities in the City of Seattle.” According to the daily update from Seattle-King County Public Health, the Kent facility – a former motel – has its first patient in residence; the news release also says, “The number of persons in King County’s isolation and quarantine sites will be included in regular updates provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County. No other identifying or personal information will be provided.”

Back to Knight’s email, she said she’s still “working to determine answers to a small number of questions” and hopes to have them by week’s end. Two “fact sheets” were attached – this one (PDF) with Q&A about the quarantine/isolation sites, including their future use; that answer: “We are focused on the public health emergency and creating spaces for people to safely isolate and quarantine. Future use of any of the emergency community services locations being created now is a conversation for a future time.” Here’s the other one (PDF), which overlaps to some degree with the FAQ.

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SCHOOLS: No Highline closure yet

March 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news No Comments »

Now that Seattle Public Schools has decided to close for at least two weeks, you might be wondering if Highline Public Schools will do the same. No decision yet, according to the district website:

This is the first of several communications over the coming days based on the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation.

This morning, Governor Inslee and Public Health Seattle & King County asked school districts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to prepare for potential school closures that could last weeks or months. We are anticipating an order to close in the coming days.

We know this raises all kinds of questions and implications including childcare needs for our staff and families, school meals, graduation, and much more. We are working on plans to address a range of impacts, and we will be in constant communication as we work through these issues.

Superintendent Susan Enfield says, “The coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented regional crisis. It will take all of us working together to get through it–and we will get through it.”

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FOLLOWUP: Preparations continue at planned Top Hat coronavirus quarantine/isolation site

March 9th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Top Hat, White Center news 11 Comments »

(WCN photo, Sunday)

Tomorrow marks one week since King County announced it planned to use the former Wilderness Technology Alliance site at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat as a COVID-19 quarantine/isolation site. No patients there yet, but preparation work continues, we confirmed with the King County Executive’s Office today. We asked a few questions today since we hadn’t seen the promised followup to last Friday’s telephone meeting yet; spokesperson Alex Fryer said that’s still in the works and likely will be sent to community members tomorrow.

Though no patients are there yet, Fryer said, they are on track to be ready as soon as Thursday; the second modular unit has been delivered, and the sewer line was installed Sunday. The old WTA building will be demolished by the middle of next week, he said (that would potentially clear the way for additional modular units).

During Friday’s call, county officials said they were still shaping the criteria for who this facility would house. We asked Fryer what they’d decided on. His reply:

Criteria would include those who have been exposed to the virus, who are not ill, and need a place separate from others; those who are symptomatic but not critical and in need of housing; and those recovering … examples include:

i. College students living in dorm housing

ii. People who have traveled to the region and don’t have a home to self-quarantine

iii. First responders who have been exposed or are exhibiting symptoms who can’t self-quarantine at home

iv. People experiencing homelessness

v. People who can’t self-quarantine at home because they have a family member who is at a high risk of contracting the virus

The King County Council is scheduled to consider emergency funding tomorrow related to the outbreak response; here’s the agenda and packet (PDF) for the 1 pm Tuesday meeting, with the emergency-funding response on page 239. The documents call for allocating $10 million to placement of the modular facilities, which so far have been announced for two Seattle sites (Interbay and North Seattle) as well as the Top Hat location.

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CORONAVIRUS: Updates from Highline Public Schools

March 7th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Schools, White Center news Comments Off on CORONAVIRUS: Updates from Highline Public Schools

Like most districts in the region, classes continue at Highline Public Schools. But some changes are taking effect next week. From the district’s newest update:

The health and safety of our students and staff is paramount, and we are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.

We have no known cases of COVID-19 among students or staff in Highline.

As Coronavirus continues to affect our region, we want to reassure you that the safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Public Health Seattle & King County is not currently recommending that schools proactively close unless they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or student.

Public Health has shared this rationale:

-Children are not known to get seriously ill from COVID-19

-Closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway at other locations

-Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be at work. If these critical workers stay home with children it causes significant impacts on the healthcare system and other institutions that are essential for our community to function

-If schools close, some children might have to stay home with alternative caregivers, such as elders, who are more vulnerable

-We don’t know how effective children are in spreading this disease

-Learn more about how Public Health makes this decision.

MARCH 6, 2020

All school cleaning: This weekend, all schools will get extra cleaning and disinfection. Surfaces not covered with papers, books and other materials will be wiped down with Clorox hydrogen peroxide wipes.

Field trips: We are suspending all school day and overnight field trips, including Camp Waskowitz, starting Monday, March 9 through Friday, March 20.

School events & athletics: All school events and athletics after 5:00 p.m. are canceled, with the exception of school conferences, to allow custodial staff time to thoroughly clean schools. This is based on Public Health recommendations to postpone events that bring together large groups of people. After-school activities sponsored by schools or partner organizations must conclude by 5:00 p.m. These restrictions on events and activities will be in effect Monday, March 9 through March 20.

Make-up school work: If your child is absent from school due to illness or safety concerns, your child’s teacher will provide assignments and opportunities for learning.

Remote learning: If Public Health advises us to close schools, we will not offer remote learning options. This decision is rooted in our commitment to equity and ensuring all students have an equal chance at success.

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CORONAVIRUS: King County conference call reveals new information about Top Hat quarantine/isolation site

March 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Top Hat, White Center news 17 Comments »

(This is also published on our partner site West Seattle Blog)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

New information on the King County quarantine/isolation facility planned at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat, just east of White Center, first announced Tuesday. The new details emerged in a conference call meeting that county reps organized for community members; we were on that call, which just concluded, for WCN and partner site West Seattle Blog.

The site will start up with two 4-room trailers, with up to six more when a vacant building on the site is demolished. (Above are our photos after the first trailer was delivered Tuesday – the county had 14 in storage on Harbor Island.) The county has now decided NOT to open the site until utilities including water/sewer are hooked up to the trailers’ built-in bathrooms – they originally had said they would start with portable toilets and hand-washing stations but have scrapped that plan. They expect the connections will be complete by the middle of next week.

The site will NOT have medical staff – but the county plans to “check in” with people at least twice a day. They also plan to deliver food and other supplies. And they will have 24-hour security who will “notify” county reps if someone leaves the site.

Who will be there? Criteria are still being developed, the county reps said. Three scenarios were mentioned for starters – people who are traveling and have nowhere else to go, people who are unhoused, people who can’t “self-quarantine” because of a situation at their home such as an at-risk person also living there.

How long will someone stay? If they’re being tested – until the test results are in, if those results are negative. If they’re ill, “until they’ve recovered.”

The call wasn’t strictly informational – strong opposition was voiced, primarily by people pointing out that the area is home to low-income people and other marginalized populations and should not have to bear this burden and risk. “10,000 people are opposed” was mentioned – apparently a reference to this online petition. But county reps were clear – this decision has been made and will not change.

Those on the call, besides several staffers from various county departments such as Local Services, included County Councilmember Joe McDermott and Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta. McDermott said County Executive Dow Constantine‘s request for emergency funding will be approved at next Tuesday’s King County Council meeting.

We have a few other details to add shortly.

ADDED 12:58 PM: First, for those wondering about the other two quarantine sites, the county has provided these addresses – 531 Elliott Avenue West [map] in Interbay and 1132 N. 128th Street [map] in North Seattle. The Top Hat site was formerly home to the Wilderness Technology Alliance.

Julie Hiatt of the North Highline Fire District, which serves the area, was on the call and said NHFD had not even had a meeting with the county to talk about this; one was promised. County reps also said they were not intending for NHFD to have to transport patients to/from the site; they are working with potential providers such as Tri-Med.

One community member on the call was aghast at the single-security-guard plan: “You’re bringing this into poor communties and telling us there’s going to be one security guard for people who might leave?” Security plans would be re-evaluated along the way, county reps said. Another community member: “If this is going to spread, this is not the community you want it to spread in – most (nearby) people don’t even have health insurance.” The site is in a densely populated area of North Highline, with neighboring apartment complexes including the huge new Southside by Vintage across SW 112th.

Another community member: “It seems like an experiment. … The community does not want this facility here. It’s going to cause death … There is death attached to this facility.” County reps countered that this was meant to save lives; Local Services director John Taylor countered, “The consequence to the community of not doing this could be disastrous.”

The call ended after an hour but more communication including an email list was promised.

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CORONAVIRUS: White Center Heights Elementary precautionary cleaning tonight

March 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Highline School District, Safety, Schools, White Center news Comments Off on CORONAVIRUS: White Center Heights Elementary precautionary cleaning tonight

Thanks to the White Center Heights Elementary community member who forwarded this:

We have learned that a staff member who has been out ill this week has symptoms that may be related to Coronavirus. The individual is staying home and being monitored by a doctor. The doctor has not recommended a COVID-19 test at this time.

We are treating this with an abundance of caution. White Center Heights will get a deep cleaning this evening. School will be open tomorrow. We will continue to monitor this situation.

For more information about Coronavirus, please visit our website or call the district Health Services office at 206-631-3011.

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FOLLOWUP: Why SW 112th quarantine site was chosen, and 3 other sites announced

March 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, White Center news 5 Comments »

That’s video of today’s King County briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, concluded a short time ago. Along with announcing new cases, and new recomendations, more quarantine sites were announced – modular housing in Interbay and North Seattle, like what arrived at 206 SW 112th in Top Hat yesterday, and a motel in Kent. King County Executive Dow Constantine also addressed the concerns over the Top Hat site, saying it was chosen because the county owns it, it has utilities, and it can be set up quick.

(WCN photo from Tuesday)

You can advance the video to (updated) about 11 minutes in, to see what he said. Today’s other King County announcements are in this news release.

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UPDATE: King County-owned Top Hat property is first portable-housing site for coronavirus patients; Senator Nguyen questions site choice

March 3rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, White Center news 31 Comments »

(WCN photos)

5:59 PM: That county-owned site at 206 SW 112th, across the street from the northwest side of the sprawling new Southside by Vintage apartments, is the first to hold a portable housing building that might soon be used for people who need to be isolated because of coronavirus COVID-19 illness.

The four-room, eight-bed unit is one of 14 that the county has been storing at the old flour mill on Harbor Island. We talked with King County Executive Services spokesperson Barbara Ramey at the site this afternoon. She says the county originally bought 20 portables like this one and six are in use elsewhere for people experiencing homeless. Who will use this, and when? That’ll be up to Seattle-King County Public Health, Ramey says. Here’s a look inside:

First, crews will be working to hook these up to utilities – they include bathrooms – but if they’re needed faster than that work can be done, she said, temporary hand-washing stations and portable toilets will be brought in. The county is planning deployment of the other 13 available portables – some at as-yet undetermined sites – as well as continuing to work on the purchase of a motel whose location remains undisclosed. Ramey also said there’s been “outreach” to neighbors to let them know what’s being done at this site, which holds an old commercial building that will be torn down.

6:15 PM: 34th District State Sen. Joe Nguyen just sent this news release questioning the site choice:

While lauding the state’s energetic response to the spread of coronavirus, Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) said the siting of a quarantine facility in White Center continues a pattern of systemic disregard for that community.

“I understand why this facility is needed,” said Nguyen, who represents White Center in the Washington State Senate. “But the appearance of placing it in a neighborhood that has already been historically marginalized conveys a message about whose safety we most value in our society that is not lost on me.”

Nguyen’s comments came after King County officials announced today that a quarantine facility for those diagnosed with coronavirus will be opened in the Top Hat neighborhood of White Center following news of multiple deaths from the virus earlier this week.

“It is promising to hear of action from the state regarding the containment of coronavirus,” Nguyen said. “While a quarantine facility does not necessarily mean the surrounding area is more prone to infection, I am wary to see that this facility has been placed in a community already deeply disenfranchised by decades of policies working against it.”

White Center is one of the most racially diverse areas in King County, with 60 percent of its population made up by people of color, according to 2010 Census records.

The quarantine facility is expected to be operating within 10 days and will include 32 rooms for people infected with coronavirus. More facilities are expected to be announced in the coming days in response to an increasing number of cases of the illness being diagnosed in King County.

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for March

February 29th, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for March

From North Highline Unincorporated Area Council leadership:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, NHUAC’s Thursday, March 5th meeting is cancelled. Please plan on joining us for the next scheduled meeting on Thursday, April 2nd.

Thanks – we look forward to seeing you all in April.

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White Center Community Development Association, King County Housing Authority get new Zero Waste grants

February 28th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Environment, King County, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Community Development Association, King County Housing Authority get new Zero Waste grants

Announced today by the King County Solid Waste Division:

The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) and the White Center Community Development Association will receive $40,800 in grant funding under a pilot project designed to promote recycling, decrease waste, and reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in King County’s unincorporated areas, starting with White Center.

King County’s Solid Waste Division and the Hazardous Waste Management Program launched the Zero Waste grant pilot program in White Center because it is among the most demographically diverse communities in King County’s unincorporated areas. White Center’s proximity to the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site, two major airports, and a large industrial corridor is linked to health and economic disparities that continue to burden many residents.

“The grant from King County will provide key support to our White Center to White House Youth Leadership Program,” said Taylor Farley, WCCDA Development and Marketing Manager. “Funds will be used for youth education in proper recycling techniques and hazardous products management. Youth leaders will share what they’ve learned with the community, helping to transform thinking on environmental issues.”

“The King County grant will allow KCHA residents in White Center opportunities to live more sustainably,” said Patrick Malloy KCHA Resource Conservation Specialist. “We will reach our young people through an Eco Living Challenge to educate families on recycling and household hazardous waste management; our gardeners through a Green Gardening program to reduce green waste and the use of pesticides and herbicides; and all of the residents of the Greenbridge neighborhood through a 12 month program to reduce waste, recycle more, and properly manage household hazardous materials.”

Projects that will be funded are listed:

Eco Living Challenge – The King County Housing Authority was awarded $9,120 to teach 260 students at the Greenbridge and Seola Gardens Youth Clubs about waste reduction through recycling and composting, and about green alternatives to chemical-based commercial cleaning products.

Green Gardening – The Greenbridge and Seola Community Gardens is the place where up to 100 people will get hands-on training in organic gardening, composting, and natural pest management. The King County Housing Authority received $6,400 to carry out this program.

Greenbridge Waste Reduction and Recycling – An intensive year-long effort to spur recycling and responsible waste management, which will include collecting hazardous waste, will get underway at Greenbridge housing thanks to a $20,700 grant to the King County Housing Authority.

White Center Community Development Association – This organization will receive $4,580 to train young community leaders on best practices in composting, recycling, and waste reduction so they can share their knowledge with community members. Funding will also support paying for guest speakers on relevant environmental topics.

King County has set a goal to achieve zero waste of resources by 2030, as specified in King County Code and the 2019 Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan. The Solid Waste Division is also committed to equitable service delivery.

Nonprofits, community groups, schools, special purpose districts, tribes, businesses, and independent municipal corporations were all eligible to compete for funding for projects designed to benefit the White Center community.

Grants will be funded by King County Solid Waste disposal and Haz Waste Program fees.

For more information about the Zero Waste Pilot Program Grant, please contact grants administrator Lucy Auster at 206-477-5268 or

Learn more about the Solid Waste Division at Learn more about the Hazardous Waste Management Program at

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County Councilmember Joe McDermott to formally propose fireworks ban today

February 27th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County, Safety, White Center news 6 Comments »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(Reader photo: Fireworks debris, July 2018)

After years of clamor for a fireworks ban in unincorporated King County, last year’s deadly fire has finally ignited action.

As promised, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott – whose district includes White Center – is about to introduce legislation that would ban fireworks in the unincorporated areas. See a summary below (or here in PDF):

See the full text of the legislation below (or here in PDF):

We talked with Councilmember McDermott as he prepared to officially get it into the system today.

McDermott notes that 25 jurisdictions within King County – including Seattle and Burien, which bookend White Center – already ban fireworks. And in addition to the deadly fire in North Highline, he’s heard from constituents with other concerns, including wildfire worries on Vashon Island.

Yes, he’s heard the concerns raised before – what does this really do if there’s no extra enforcement? “It sets a new norm,” McDermott contends, and use will be reduced. What about the organizations that have raised money through fireworks sales? They’re going to have to find a new, not potentially deadly way to raise money. McDermott says the fundraising-related concerns were a factor in a related bill that has died for the year in the State Legislature, 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon‘s proposal to change state law so that fireworks bans could take effect faster. The stalling of that bill means that if McDermott’s proposal passes, it wouldn’t take effect until next year, so fireworks would still be legal in unincorporated King County this summer.

What are the chances it will pass? McDermott says he can count on support from at least a couple council colleagues, but he’s not taking anything/anyone for granted. If you have a strong opinion on the proposal, contact all the county councilmembers (here’s how). There also will be a hearing on the proposal, in the Local Services Committee chaired by Councilmember Reagan Dunn, to which the legislation will be referred after the council officially receivesit next week (no date for that hearing yet).

P.S. Professional fireworks displays would still be allowed in unincorporated King County – as they are in the cities with fireworks bans – by permit.

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