ONLINE THURSDAY: North Highline Fire District commissioners’ special meeting

November 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, Online, White Center news No Comments »

Happening online tomorrow (Thursday, November 12th), a special meeting of the North Highline Fire District commissioners:

The Board of Commissioners of North Highline Fire District will hold a special meeting at 5:00 PM on Thursday, November 12th, 2020 via teleconference due to COVID-19. The GoToMeeting link is accessible on the North Highline website at: www.northhighlinefd.org [left side of the page].

The purpose of the meeting is to: (1) discuss the 2021 operating budget and the reason for the hearing is to meet the requirements of RCW 84.55.120 and RCW 52.18.060. We will not set the levy or establish a budget at this meeting, but the purpose is to inform the public and consider any comments that the residents of the district may have with reference to revenues or to any proposed tax increases. (2) To review and discuss the 2021 Fire Benefit Charge. (3) To review and discuss Resolution 507

The benefit-charge proposition got 84 percent approval in this month’s election, with 87 percent turnout of voters in the district.

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Election in the spotlight as public-safety leaders visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first online meeting

October 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council has finally arrived in the world of online meetings, and the first one, this past Thursday night, was as info-packed as their in-person meetings have historically been.

Though this one spotlighted public safety, with leaders from the North Highline Fire District and King County Sheriff’s Office, the real theme was the November 3rd election, with both departments having a lot at stake in ballot measures on which you will be voting.

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT BENEFIT CHARGE: Assistant chief Ray Pettigrew opened by noting he has been with affiliated Fire District 2 for 35 years, and explained how the two districts consolidated at the start of last year after many years of cooperation.

He talked about the “benefit charge” changing the way NHFD is funded, starting six years ago after its 2014 passage, to take care of the problem with tax-exempt properties not contributing to the district funding. And he listed everything it’s enabled, as voters get ready to decide whether to renew it for 10 years. The charge “spread the cost out, made it more equitable,” Pettigrew explained, and led to a small decrease in what homeowners pay. The charge enabled the consolidation, and also led to a rating agency upgrading the department’s rating, which is good news for property owners’ insurance rates – the rating is now a 3 (1 is the best). The department also was able to buy two new fire engines that are based at Station 18. “We’re a very busy fire department,” with 11,000+ calls last year, he said, and the engines that were replaced had a lot of miles on them.

The stable funding also has enabled them to station an aid car at Station 18 most days – “it increases our ability to answer emergency calls by almost 50 percent.” They’ve upgraded air packs, and added a public educator, too. Also: A local firefighter is helping with the COVID-19 testing area that has been opened in Tukwila; Pettigrew said they were looking for other sites, maybe even White Center, but couldn’t find an available property. King County is reimbursing them for the firefighter’s work. Last but not least, they’re working on an “FD CARES” response unit – “usually an SUV” with a firefighter and nurse or social worker – to answer certain kinds of “low-acuity calls and works with the person to address their needs in a more appropriate manner.” King County Public Health has provided some funding for this. They’re hoping to have the unit up and running early next year. “We think we’ve been very good stewards of your tax dollars,” summarized Pettigrew, pitching for the renewal.

What if it’s not approved? asked NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. Reply: The property tax rate would go back up, and the FD would have to re-evaluate what it’s doing. What’s the rate and is it different from the last one? It’s been fairly consistent and is expected to continue that way – “approximately $1.50 per thousand” (dollars of property valuation).

KING COUNTY SHERIFF: KCSO sent several reps to the meeting, starting with the sheriff herself, Mitzi Johanknecht.

She talked about the every-decade county-charter-amending process. Two amendments on the November 3rd ballot would affect KCSO: Amendment #5, which would change the sheriff back to an appointed, rather than elected, position, more than 20 years after the previous change. She’s the fifth elected sheriff, in her first term, which started in early 2018. If Amendment #5 passes, the County Executive would appoint the sheriff, with County Council approval. Then the council put Amendment #6 on the ballot – “having an elected sheriff, but with conditions … that the King County Council would create an ordinance … that determines the roles and responsibilities of the sheriff.” Currently, state laws regulates sheriffs’ roles.

Dobkin mentioned hearing County Executive Dow Constantine talk about the measure on a podcast and say that since people who aren’t in the sheriff’s jurisdiction get to vote for them, changing the law made more sense. Johanknecht noted that other countywide officials are voted on by all county voters too. But, she noted, KCSO does have countywide responsibilities – Metro and Sound Transit policing, among other things. “I also think it’s important that if you’re voting for a sheriff, the sheriff should have a standalone opportunity to represent you.”

If it went to an appointed position, might that lead to cuts/changes? Johanknecht said the COVID-19 crunch has already required some cuts, so she cut some vacant positions, “the least amount of FTEs possible” so it wouldn’t harm 911 response and crime-solving. NHUAC’s Liz Giba said she’d heard the marijuana-tax money had been pulled from KCSO – was that true? The sheriff said that’s a complicated issue but it’s not resulting in any cuts/changes. She also noted that 58 percent of the KCSO budget is revenue-backed – maybe the only county agency that brings in this much money helping cover its budget.

What sort of anti-racism reforms has KCSO been working on? The sheriff said reform is one of the major things she ran to accomplish. She says her deputies now have “less-lethal tools” and that they’ve developed new policies for the critical-incident review board, plus they’ve been training in de-escalation and crisis intervention – 48 hours of the latter, “years ahead of what the state is going to demand.” They’ve also gone through implicit-bias training, and are wrapping up investigations of social-media posts that drew attention and concern. She said the issue has made her job “the most important thing I’ll ever do in my life.”

The budget includes full funding for the KCSO storefront locations, including White Center, she said, in response to a question.

She was followed by Manny Apostol, the new community-engagement specialist for KCSO, a longtime department employee. Listening to communities is his task – here are the slides outlining what he’ll do:

He was asked how he’s working on rebuilding trust with Southeast Asian communities in the wake of the Tommy Le killing. He said he’s been reaching out to groups.

STOREFRONT DEPUTY BILL KENNAMER: He talked about a problem house in the 1800 block of SW 98th that’s finally been cleared out – the eviction moratorium pushed the handling of the situation back several months. They were evicted “due to the criminal activity associated with the house,” he said. “That was the worst house in White Center right now,” he said. Among other things, one of the people associated with the house “was a murder suspect with a $2 million warrant.” Kennamer said one neighbor told him he’s had the first night in a long time that he wasn’t awakened by some trouble at that house. But there are others, it was noted.

Other wide-ranging discussion included the murals on many businesses being a graffiti-vandalism deterrent.

Dobkin also mentioned traffic issues diverting off Roxbury, which in turn is a lot busier because of the West Seattle Bridge closure. Kennamer agreed, “The traffic is absolutely ridiculous” and “going to be frustrating for a very long time.” Dobkin said it’s a safety issue with people “flying through our streets” on streets without sidewalks. Kennamer said he’d reach out to Roads – maybe a stop sign on 106th could help, “so they can’t pick up so much speed.” He also advised “don’t walk with your back to traffic.”

What about mail theft? Kennamer was asked. “If you see it, call us quick, because they’re gone quick.” Locking mailboxes can help but some people even use saws to cut them down.

MAJOR JEFF FLOHR: He’s now the KCSO Southwest Precinct commander. The area always has at least two deputies on duty, he said. He started out talking about the “use of force” dashboard, which he said would show “how rarely we use force.”

His main topic: White Center is one of the areas where KCSO is about to run a pilot camera program – in-car and body-worn. 10 deputies will be using the cameras for 90 days, working in different areas.

He went over the functions and policies they’ll be testing.

At the end, they’ll evaluate and document what they learned, “identify the features we want if funding is provided for full implementation” – right now, it’s NOT budgeted.

Flohr also said they’re “ready to go” with the LEAD program in White Center/North Highline, just waiting for some documentation with a service provider to be finalized. Asked to refresh memories, he gave an example – say deputies respond to a mentally ill shoplifter, they deal with a team of people trying to get that person help, “trying to keep people out of jail and get them the services they need … it’s exactly what the communities have been asking for, they just don’t know that we’ve been doing it.”

CHIEF JESSE ANDERSON: He talked about “8 can’t wait” policy changes: No chokeholds unless it’s a force-type situation “last resort,” de-escalation, requiring warning before shooting, duty to intervene, no shooting at moving vehicles (unless deputies are trapped), among other things.

Regarding policing reform, he acknowledged that many of their calls are more “quality of life issues” than crimes, but he also said staffing is at the lowest level it could be while still allowing them to respond to calls.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC plans to continue via Zoom for the foreseeable future – the meetings are usually first Thursdays at 7 pm – watch nhuac.org for updates. Next time, the North Highline Sub-Area Plan will be a spotlighted topic.

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THURSDAY: Public safety spotlighted @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

As previously mentioned, the first pandemic-era North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is set for this Thursday, October 8th, online. Here’s the announcement with full details:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7 pm

How? (Here’s the link)
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

Dial-in: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

NHUAC Is Baaaack!!! NHUAC’s first meeting since February will be held Thursday, October 8th at 7 pm. It is going to be a virtual meeting via Zoom so it will be different, but the goal will be the same: To provide an opportunity to be informed, involved, and heard about issues affecting North Highline.

COVID-19 has changed our lives. We have been staying home to stay safe. Meanwhile, what has been happening in White Center, Top Hat, Boulevard Park, other North Highline neighborhoods? What is about to happen? To help us catch up and prepare, NHUAC’s October 8th meeting will focus on our first responders.

Have you ever called 911 because of a fire or medical emergency? If so, you know how important the North Highline Fire District is to our community. Assistant Chief Ray Pettigrew will discuss NHFD and ballot measure NHFD Proposition No. 1 to continue the Benefit Charge.

The climate around policing has gotten intense. King County’s response requires our serious consideration. If Charter Amendment No. 5 passes, voters will give up their right to vote for Sheriff. According to the King County Elections website, “The next sheriff would be appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county council.” Charter Amendment No. 6 would transfer much of the Sheriff’s control over KCSO to the King County Executive (currently Dow Constantine) and the King County Council.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht will discuss these issues and others specific to North Highline. We will also be joined by Chief Jesse Anderson, who recently left Precinct 4 to become head of the Patrol Operations Division. Major Jeffrey Flohr, Precinct 4’s new Commander; Manny Apostol, KCSO’s new Community Engagement Specialist; and last, but certainly not least, Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us.

Knowledge is power.

Do not miss this chance to learn and help make North Highline a safer place!

October 8, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council update – including free masks and hand sanitizer!

July 1st, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Holidays, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council update – including free masks and hand sanitizer!

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

As in our prior years, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) will not be holding July and August meetings. We will resume meetings on Thursday, September 3rd. Wishing everyone a safe, happy, warm, summer –

In the meantime, please see the info below regarding mask and hand sanitizer distribution that the North Highline Fire District in partnership with NHUAC and King County, will be handing out on July 4th.

The North Highline Fire District is Pleased to Announce

We will be distributing face masks (2 per person) and hand sanitizer (1 bottle per household) on July 4th in partnership with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and King County.

Your firefighters work hard to ensure the safety of North Highline.

We look forward to seeing you in our community on July 4th and making sure you have the protective gear you need to stay healthy!

If you need a mask or hand sanitizer before the 4th of July, please e-mail your contact information to: office@northhighlinefd.org

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Celebration of Life planned Saturday for North Highline Fire Captain Eric Boutwell

September 19th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, Obituaries, White Center news 1 Comment »

From the North Highline Fire District:

It is with profound sadness that the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, Burien Union Fire Fighters Local #1461, and King County Fire District #2 report the death of Captain Eric Boutwell in Walla Walla on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.

Celebration of Life
Saturday, September 21, 2019
11:00 a.m.
River of Life Fellowship
10615 SE 216th Street
Kent, WA 98031

Class A or B uniforms are appropriate. There will be no outside agency apparatus in the procession.

Brother Boutwell was a valued friend and colleague for all of us lucky enough to know and work with him. Eric joined the North Highline Fire District as a volunteer in 1992 and became a career firefighter at Station #18 in 1999 and touched many lives. He faithfully served the North Highline community for 26 years and, through a contractual consolidation in 2019, continued his dedicated service with King County Fire District #2. He is survived by his wife Krista, daughters Haley and Isabella; and many family and friends.

Local 1461 has established a memorial fund through the National Police & Fire Foundation to support Eric’s daughters’ education.

Link to Make Donations: www.HonoringEricBoutwell.com
Text To Give: Text the word “Honor” to 360-207-2170

Local #1461, the King County Fire District #2 Family, and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters extend our heartfelt sympathies, even as we struggle to understand this tragedy. Please keep his family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Contact Shauna Sheppard for more information: 206-209-4129.

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Standing-room-only for public-safety-focused North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

September 10th, 2019 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

Toplines from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s September meeting last Thursday, as covered by WCN co-publisher Patrick Sand:

Big crowd – standing room only. About a third were there to talk about suspected drug houses; most of the rest were there because of the deadly 4th of July fire on 10th Avenue S. blamed on people setting off fireworks. including people who knew the victim, 70-year-old Roland Kennedy.

The night was all about public safety, in equal parts law enforcement and fire. Deputy Bill Kennamer started by saying violent crime in White Center was down 20% in August compared to a year earlier. He said that property crime remains constant, and that’s when the questions about the suspected drug houses started. He told the group that he and the other deputies who work the area are aware of all the locations mentioned. His main point is that the sheriff doesn’t always have the power to get people removed from a problem house. The example he gave is a house which was owned by a woman who left no will. He said that a bank will take over the house early next year, but between now and then there’s not much that can be done.

Questioners kept bringing up lack of response after calling 911. County Councilmember Joe McDermott said they should get involved in the meetings regarding the next 20-year master plan.

McDermott also talked about fireworks, showing fireworks debris a woman brought him after picking it up out of her front yard after the 4th last year. He and Chief Mike Marrs talked about what can and cannot be sold right now, what a partial ban would include, and what a total ban might mean.

But, they stressed. any measure by any city or county to ban fireworks cannot – by state law- go into effect until 12 months after the ban is approved. So if there was a ban passed right now, it wouldn’t take effect until after one more 4th of July.

McDermott and Marrs came down on the side of a total ban. While it might not stop fireworks from coming in from other jurisdictions, they said that it would greatly decrease fireworks use.

McDermott also said that he heard more complaints about fireworks this year from WC and Vashon than any other year he’d been in office.

Also at the meeting, 34th District State House Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon spoke. We recorded video:

They also talked about the fireworks-ban law, among other things.

One more crime note – Deputy Kennamer had to leave the meeting to be part of an emphasis patrol going on that night that stretched from 16th in downtown WC down Ambaum. Over a dozen deputies were called into the area to check for warrant violations and firearms. By the end of the meeting, KCSO said, 10 arrests had been made and 2 handguns were confiscated.

NHUAC meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm at NH Fire District HQ. Watch nhuac.org for updates.

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NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT: Revenue-related public hearing November 6th

October 22nd, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, White Center news 1 Comment »

Announced by the North Highline Fire District:

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the North Highline Fire District Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing to:

Review revenue sources for the District’s 2018 expense budget including property taxes and possible increases in property tax revenues per RCW 84.55.120,

and

Review and establish the Fire District’s benefit charge to be imposed in 2018, per RCW 52.18.060(2).

Fire Station 18
1243 SW 112th Street

November 6, 2017 at 7 pm

Here’s backstory on the benefit charge.

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House fire in North Highline, 1 hurt

May 5th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Fire, North Highline Fire District, Shorewood, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Adapted from original as-it-happened coverage on partner site West Seattle Blog – smoke was visible for miles around)

Thanks to Colby for that photo, the first we received from a house fire this afternoon near 26th SW and SW 109th.

The smoke had subsided by the time our crew arrived at the fire scene – thanks to those who tipped us via text and voice on our hotline (206-293-6302). This is in the North Highline Fire District’s jurisdiction; other departments including Seattle Fire sent units as mutual aid (including Engine 11):

Big response overall.

One person suffered minor injuries, we’re told, and was treated at the scene. By 3:45 pm, the fire (at 10907 26th SW) was out or close to it, our crew reported, and investigators were on the way to try to find out how it started.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: North Highline Fire District’s funding fight in Olympia; homelessness updates

February 3rd, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 2 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

While the announcement of last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting highlighted a briefing from North Highline’s fire chief, an unannounced speaker – a former NHUAC board member who is now an encampment resident – was also a highlight. Here’s how the meeting unfolded:

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT: Mike Marrs, chief for 4 years in addition to being chief of Burien Fire District 2, was there primarily to explain how legislation in Olympia could be a threat to some of the money the district needs to operate – funding it secured just two years ago, with a voter-approved measure, via the “benefit charge.”

First, Marrs detailed the district’s many-faceted 75-year history, changed along the way by various annexations, districts, and alliances.

The history included how the Fire District gets funding – primarily through property taxes – and that meant a big drop during the recession almost a decade ago: “20, 30 percent.” NHFD “made some hard choices” and that included the leadership consolidation. District 2 pays NHFD to serve North Burien; NHFD pays District 2 for Marrs to be its chief as well as theirs.

“It was supposed to be a Band-Aid,” he recalled, “probably a short-term fix, get us through the economic difficulties,” and annexation by either Burien or Seattle seemed likely to happen relatively quickly. But then came the 2012 vote in North Highline “Area Y” rejecting Burien, and the “Band-Aid” has had to stay on.

In property taxes, “we levy up to $1.50 for $1,000 assessed value” for fire/EMS services, Marrs said, but “that number wasn’t enough to continue to field (the staffing they had).” That led to the Fire Benefit Charge, “instead of levying $1.50 per $1,000, you reduce your tax to $1.00, and then there’s a formula for (that charge).” It’s not a fee for service, but a charge for everyone to pay to benefit from having the service available.

The formula involves how much water would have to be put on what’s on your property if there was a fully involved fire. (More than 5,500 parcels are in the area.) The vote authorizing it was in 2014; it was applied in 2015; it has to be re-authorized by voters in 2020.

“The one thing that really resonated with the commissioners was that by using the Fire Benefit Charge, low-income, tax-exempt housing would have to pay it too. …The amount of (that) in the NHFD is dramatically higher than other places in the county. You have a lot of parcels that never paid any property taxes – the sole funding for the fire district – (including) multifamily properties that … get a high benefit from (the service). … The board felt over the years that there was a real inequity (in the 3 1/2-square-mile district)” before the charge was implemented.

100 percent of the district’s revenue used to be from property taxes; now it’s 80 percent taxes, 20 percent benefit charge. Some of the tax-exempt-property owners, though, he said, feel they shouldn’t have to pay, “because all of their money should go into … housing.”

For the past two years in Olympia, Marrs continued, there’s been legislation related to this, after fire departments elsewhere formed big regional “fire authorities” and implemented benefit charges.

The benefit charge required a 60 percent supermajority of voters to pass, but will only require a 50 percent approval for reauthorization. The regional authorities, however, need a 60 percent to reauthorize, and have been seeking to have that reduced to a simple majority.

And that’s where the trouble erupted. The entities that don’t want to pay the benefit charges, Marrs explained, have jumped onto the legislation, seeking exemptions from those charges in all sizes of fire districts/authorities. Marrs said he had been to Olympia to testify this past Tuesday. He tried to explain that larger districts have more property owners and so if they have to pick up the slack, it’s not as much of a hardship. $208,000 is the median price here; $260,000 is the median in Kent; $670,000 in Woodinville, he noted. Other areas also have bigger commercial bases to draw on, for funding.

Without the charge, Marrs stressed, there’s a real inequity in terms of properties being supported by so many others. They are currently opposing the bill, and seeking to have the proposed benefit-charge exemption removed. “We’re only asking them to contribute to the 20 percent of the budget,” not the rest of it, he reiterated. But, he said, “I think we have an uphill battle.”

Asked if the new mixed-use development on the former supermarket site in Top Hat will be tax-exempt, Marrs said he believes it will be. (We’ll follow up on that.) NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin pointed out that North Highline has double the poverty rate of King County in general – 25 percent, compared to 11 percent.

“How underfunded would we be without that money?” asked NHUAC board member Roslyn Hyde.

The charge could be raised and spread among the remaining taxpayers, Marrs said. “We know what King County Housing pays us … it’s all the others, we don’t know whether they would qualify,” such as the Coronado Springs apartment building, which “is a huge contributor now.” KCHA pays about $50,000 a year via the benefit charge, so for just that example, NHFD could just “go without” that money,” or raise what it charges among the remaining payers.

The benefit charge, he clarified, is a “more equitable way to generate money for the fire department” because, for example, a 2,000-square-foot house takes the same amount of firefighting whether it’s a highly valued view property or something of much less value. (In case you’re wondering, Marrs didn’t have the exact amount that a 2,000-sf house is charged, but said it was in the $150 vicinity.)

North Highline and Burien District 2 are somewhat isolated, he explained in answering another question – they don’t have a lot of mutual-aid resources (they’re still trying to improve how that works with Seattle, for example, he said).

So what can be done? asked NHUAC board member Rich Leibfried.

“We might ask people to write their representatives,” Marrs said. NHUAC president Liz Giba expressed frustration that the housing operators have been working on this for a long time but didn’t even see fit to bring it up with district/community leaders.

The House bill is HB 1467; the Senate bill is SB 5364. (Looking at the HB 1467 page on the Legislature’s website, we note that local State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon is a sponsor.)

If communicating with legislators, you would ask them “to remove the low-income-housing exemptions from the bills.” (The main part of the bill – getting the fire authorities’ reauthorization level to 50 percent – is not something NHFD is opposing.)

Asked about NHFD’s budget this year, Chief Marrs said it includes about $1.2 million from the benefit charge, $2.2 million from the Burien contract, and ~$2 million from property taxes. They’re “behind on engine replacement”; their budget also goes to thermal-imaging cameras, backup “bunker gear” to better =protect firefighters from the high risk of cancer; body armor when they’re dealing with scenes where they’re treating victims of violence; washer-dryer equipment that has to be dedicated to separate uses (fires and violence scenes). Their calls are split roughly 80 percent medical calls, 20 percent fires and other emergencies.

SIDE NOTE: Marrs also mentioned the cardiac-survival rate of Medic One, once “best in the world” at 27 percent, with a leader who took the rate above 60 percent within about a decade. Factors include the highest citizen-CPR training, cardiac defibrillation by responders, and excellent care at local medical centers. “Your chances of walking out of the hospital alive after suffering a cardiac event in Seattle-King County is off the charts.”

(P.S. At the start of the Fire District discussion, NHUAC president Giba reminded all first that she also is a member of the NHFD Board.)

HOMELESSNESS-RELATED TOPICS: These were all discussed in the final segment of the meeting.

First, NHUAC board member Hyde recapped last week’s meeting at which the new plan for the White Center shelter was officially announced (WCN coverage here), with Mary’s Place planning to open a family shelter, starting with about 30 people, at 8th/108th, likely on or by March 1st. She said a “wish list” of needed items would be forthcoming once there’s somewhere to store such items. Pack ‘n’ Plays and twin bedsheets are among the most-needed items, she noted. You can also apply to volunteer, via a link on the Mary’s Place website. And she reminded all of the February 11th work party.

Second, Camp Second Chance – Dobkin said she was at last night’s City of Seattle-operated meeting about what has been an unauthorized encampment since last summer on Myers Way (WCN coverage here) and is about to be made by the City of Seattle into an authorized encampment. Among other things, she said it was disappointing that no one from King County had been invited to the meeting. Leibfried noted that most of the concerns voiced were about campers outside CSC.

Then a camp resident – former NHUAC board member Patrick Mosley, who served on the board 2010-2012 – came up to the podium.

Mosley said he became homeless after losing his spouse and his home. He had been living in his truck – until an exhaust leak. He first went to a shelter in Fremont and discovered some things about it that didn’t work …including issues with a longtime encampment operator (SHARE). Then he went back to California for a while, and, when returning here to visit his children, he learned about the splinter group that had formed Camp Second Chance.

Mosley talked about the camp’s self-sufficiency and quest for 501(c)(3) status, and an eventual plan to have it become a business. “SHARE isn’t necessarily happy that this encampment is there” because of it being sanctioned, he said. He said he’s been at the camp for about three months, and that it’s a “model camp – the first time that people in this situation have a chance to make a difference … in this situation.”

He talked about a friend who committed a crime “during a few minutes of a bad mistake” who will likely never be able to get a job again. He said the camp works to help people get and stay sober, is working to help people learn skills such as gardening, is working to set up a system to get people

“It may not affect you now but it might in the future … so it’s best to set up a relationship before you (possibly) need it.”

Giba asked him what he feels about the people living outside the camp. “What do they mean to you, living there?” He said he has spoken to many of them whom he sees daily. “It’s a similar situation but different.” One man for example has mental issues. He explained that everyone at the camp has to chip in $20/month to help pay for things such as propane. Substance abusers, for example, aren’t interested in doing that. “There are a lot of drug, and drug issues, over there … but there are everywhere.” He also noted that not all the trash you see in the area was left “by the homeless people” – some is dumped by people from elsewhere. He said there are a variety of difficult circumstances, such as people going through the “revolving door” of prison/jail, and

An attendee asked about people being required to take housing if it’s offered/available. “Part of the contract with the city is that if they offer it, we can’t refuse it.”

He said would-be campers soon will have to pass a background check to see if they are a sex offender, to sign that they understand the camp’s rules, that they attend the Monday meetings.

Polly Trout from Patacara Community Services, announced last night as the camp’s operator, said that the camp will continue to be self-governing, but that her organization “We’re enrolling everyone in the new King County Coordinated Entry …but the reality is that there’s not enough housing for everyone.” She said people are prioritized, such as severely disabled people, youth, and families. About half the CSC residents are working, he said, but don’t fit into those prioritized categories. “There are some people on disability who are on waitlists,” for example, or awaiting disability-payment eligibility.

Trout said they’d been asked how people can help the camp and its residents. “If you need a handyperson or someone to mow your lawn, you might think about coming to the camp.” She said she would not recommend someone unless she could recommend them wholeheartedly. She mentioned a couple who had lived in the camp for a while and have just moved into a rental room at a house of a friend of Trout’s.

She was asked for a little more background on herself; she’s been working with Seattle-area homeless people for 15 years, 12 of those with youth in the U-District via Seattle Education Access. She formed Patacara with an interest in something more intergenerational.

From the audience, attendee Ben Calot contended that “there are jobs out there for everyone”; he was an employer and had an employee “who smoked crack in the bathroom every day on shift.”

10 percent of CSC’s residents have been moving into housing every month, Trout said. Mosley said it has 15 residents right now, and that they’re likely to grow to 70. And the camp will be voting on potential use of “tiny houses,” as a result of what city reps said at last night’s meeting. They will consider building tiny houses themselves; other encampments generally have tiny houses built by donors. “The city has authorized us to have 50 tents and/or tiny houses,” Trout added.

What happens after two years? she was asked. They will have to find somewhere to move to, she said.

Next speaker, area resident Pat Lemoine – who said at the previous night’s meeting, and reiterated at this one, that he has a “plan to get Camp Second Chance housed.” He said he’d dealt with unemployment in the 2008 recession and came up with a plan to live on $24,000/year. “I started looking at the $50m that the city of Seattle is paying to deal with the homeless. I could live 2,083 years on that!” He noted that 4,500 people had been counted as homeless. Many have “some form of income” – a job, Social Security, etc. – and he noted that he would be eligible for $1,000/month if he retires at 62, “a $12,000 income a year, which is half the ($24,000) sum.” 4,166 people could live on the money the city is spending, he said, pointing to the written plan he had distributed last night and again tonight. He noted that one complaint is that there’s not enough affordable housing out there, but, he said, researching online, he found about 800 apartments for $1200 or less. “My plan here is more for the people who have their stuff together” – not necessarily those dealing with drugs or mental issues – “if we could get even 10 percent of (homeless people) housed …that makes it a smaller problem.” So, he believes, just a fraction of the $50 million could help. $600,000 could house everybody in Camp Second Chance right now, for example, he said, acknowledging that leases might be a challenge, “but with the power of the city … lawyers could get involved if necessary … I don’t see it as that big of a deal to get the easiest (people) housed right now.”

NHUAC president Giba said the plan of housing people instead of having them live in tents “makes sense to me.”

Attendee Calot said that it’s clear to him that Seattle is wasting its money on encampments, “making things worse,” even though it has an expert report it paid for that says Housing First is the way to go, not encampments.

“So,” asked Patrick Mosley from the audience, “what do you do in the meantime?”

The city is wasting its money on short-term goals but should be working on long-term goals rather than dedicating all its resources and energy on the former. “If we don’t focus on long-term results, we’re not going to get long-term results.” He said they want to see the “drug encampments” on Myers Way cleaned up rather than the city “allowing criminality to run rampant.”

Another area resident said that those other campers, including those in RVs, are giving a bad name to everyone around them, including CSC.

Lemoine summarized that while the county and city have declared “a state of emergency” regarding homelessness, he doesn’t see anything getting done, compared to past emergencies in wartime and other times. He wondered aloud how much of the money has gone to things aside from housing and direct solutions – how much to “writing reports,” for example.

Trout said that she appreciates some of Lemoine’s ideas, and noted that she has never before had a government contract, and “is learning a lot….I have to say that if you want a quick and frugal solution, DON’T go to the government.” That evoked laughter around the room. “We’re going to need smaller, private solutions (too),” she added.

Final related topic – Leibfried had participated in the One Night Count of people living unsheltered around King County, and Giba asked him for some thoughts. He said he had hoped to volunteer in this area but was sent to a different part of the city, with “someone who was not very well-trained,” but it was “kind of a fun experience.” He mentioned the change in methodology for this year, “gridd(ing) out the entire city,” not just looking where organizers thought people would be living outdoors. He was sent to the Burke-Gilman Trail in Wedgwood and did find a group in an RV. “It was a bit of a media circus.” Mosley asked him how accurate he thought the count would turn out. “More accurate than not doing it at all,” Leibfried said.

From the audience, a man who said he moved here a year ago from Chicago said it was disorganized there too.

TRIBUTE TO CASS TURNBULL: Vice president Dobkin offered a tribute to Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty and TreePAC, who died suddenly earlier this week. “It’s a huge loss … she had a vision for Myers Way … (to) save that property … otherwise it would all be paved over.”

JUBILEE DAYS: Saturday, April 1st, announced secretary Pat Price, there’ll be a prime-rib dinner/auction event, including “nominating a mayor of White Center,” to raise money for this year’s Jubilee Days – “save the date.”

WESTSIDE BABY’S COMMUNITEA: Price also announced the March 12th benefit tea at the Sea-Tac Hilton for White Center-headquartered WestSide Baby.

WHITE CENTER SUMMIT: Board members were asked about last weekend’s event. Several of them were there. Leibfried said that it seemed to him that more networking was in order. Three ideas emerged, according to an attendee from WCCDA: A youth council, a safety group, and a health initiative, particularly support for the coalition working ond drug abuse. “Is that posted somewhere?” he was asked. Reply: “Not yet … it will be.” Another item on the wish list, Hyde said – “a big community calendar.”

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays most months, 7 pm, at North Highline Fire District headquarters. Watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings. And if you have ideas for upcoming meetings, board members say, let them know – you can find contact info on the aforementioned website.

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council spotlights NH Fire District

January 29th, 2017 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council spotlights NH Fire District

7 pm Thursday, you’re invited to this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting. From president Liz Giba:

Please join North Highline’s volunteer community council at our February 2, 2017 meeting.

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Our past influences our present as well as our future. In 2014, our fire district, the North Highline Fire District, asked and we answered. We approved a fire benefit charge aimed at equitably spreading the cost of fire protection and emergency medical services. Join NHUAC in welcoming Fire Chief Mike Marrs to NHUAC. Chief Marrs will discuss where our fire district has been, where NHFD is today, and the road to staying on track to reestablish a healthy, stable fire district.

Good of the Order will provide community members time to discuss what’s on their minds. Do you have something of community importance to share ? Join us and share!

See you Thursday, February 2nd at 7 PM – Bring a Neighbor!

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TONIGHT: North Highline Fire District public hearing

October 17th, 2016 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, White Center news Comments Off on TONIGHT: North Highline Fire District public hearing

From the North Highline Fire District, a public hearing happening tonight (Monday, October 17th):

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the North Highline Fire District Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing to:

Review revenue sources for the District’s 2017 expense budget including property taxes and possible increases in property tax revenues per RCW 84.55.120, and

Review and establish the Fire District’s benefit charge to be imposed in 2017, per RCW 52.18.060(2).

Fire Station 18
1243 SW 112th Street
Seattle, WA 98146
October 17, 2016 at 7 pm

The benefit charge is explained on the NHFD website.

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How would Seattle annexation affect the North Highline Fire District?

May 18th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, North Highline Fire District, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

While it’s still a year and a half until the earliest date that residents of unincorporated North Highline would vote on Seattle annexation, a deadline is near:

The North Highline Fire District Board of Commissioners has two weeks to write up its position on the proposed annexation for the King County Boundary Review Board, whose public hearing starts two weeks after that.

But first, the board wants to make sure it has all the information it needs to take a stand. Some of it came during an extensive Q&A during the board’s Monday night meeting, with Seattle city and King County reps in attendance, but the board also is awaiting written answers to some key questions. By meeting’s end, the Seattle reps promised to speed it up, though NHFD lawyer Brian Snure observed that it would have been better if this information had all been in months earlier.

No way to go back in time. So here’s what did happen Monday night.

Guests for the discussion, which took up most of the public portion of the meeting (which ended with a closed-door session), were Seattle’s longtime annexation point person Kenny Pittman, Seattle Fire Department Assistant Chief of Operations Jay Hagen, and Karen Freeman from the King County Executive’s Office.

Existing Seattle Fire stations are well positioned to cover the NH area, Chief Hagen said, meeting the 4-minute response standard. “We try to get a fire engine to the emergency alarm location within 4 minutes, 90 percent of the time.” So if NH Engine 18 is busy, what does that do to response times? It would go up to 5 minutes, 10 seconds, but that’s still better than the service SE Seattle gets, he said. “In all four corners of the city, the coverage would be better here than other areas of Seattle.”

Commissioner Liz Giba asked what response time meant. “First we have to process the call – CPT is time from when the phone rings at public-safety answering point, they process the call, look for a geocoded address on the map, match to computer on fire apparatus, and send alarm to the station. When bell rings at station, we end answering time and start turnout time – until the wheels roll over threshold of station door. Then we have response time, the actual driving time to the incident. … We would ask them to gear up quicker for an aid (medical) response than for a structure fire response – an extra 20 seconds or so, about 80 seconds.”

That’s engine response, he explained. For ladder-truck response – West Seattle has only one, Ladder 11 at Station 32 in The Junction. But that’s about equidistant for what NH would get right now. “In a perfect world we’d like to rearrange things and have a ladder truck closer. … Those are the longer apparatus and the (ones) we use in Seattle are tillered, with asteering wheel on the back set of wheels … they do search and rescue, forcible entry, ventilation … they’re dedicated to certain functions on the fire ground. In Seattle we have about a 3 to 1 ratio, engines to ladders. If annexation occurs, the engine here would be the 34th engine in Seattle, and we have 11 ladder trucks spread around the city.”

SFD has a 4-platoon system, 4 groups of firefighters who relieve each other sequentially, while NH has a three-platoon system. sends two battalion chiefs to structure fires for command and control – “they’re the ones you might see with radios giving orders, or they might join firefighters inside the structure.” Then there’s Deputy 1 who has command over the entire city. All companies are staffed with four personnel at all times.

Medic unit coverage: Seattle has BLS (basic life support) – the EMT level of care, closest to the alarm location and they can get there and decide whether ALS (advanced life support) is needed or can they handle it on their own? “They pave the way to success by doing things (to prepare for) the ALS unit.” All Seattle firefighters are EMTs. The paramedics in King County, meantime, “all come from the same school … all highly regarded.” Last year, he said, they had a 62.5% cardiac-arrest survival rate. They get international visitors – one from the UK, for example, said that where he was from, they had a 12 percent survival rate. SFD is the “rolling classroom for Medic One.” He says they already provide a good level of service for ALS. But – Medic 4, he noted, is moving to downtown Burien this summer, close to NH. Seattle’s Medic 32 is at Station 37 (West Seattle’s southernmost station) during the rebuild of Station 32. “The honest truth is, when we go back to our normal condition, the medic unit is not as close as the (one) that serves this area – we’d have to do some work to make that an improvement.” They don’t have plans “developed” yet.

In response to Giba’s question, Hagen noted that the new Station 32 in the West Seattle Junction will be finished in about a year. He also noted that this area is “rich in need” – 1,000 ALS alarm in the past year. If you carved the same acreage from, say, West Seattle’s Admiral District, he said, that only generated 209 alarms in the past year.

Hagen said he thinks “there’s a great company here … at face value, not a lot would change. What’s notable to me is the depth and breadth of services that the city of Seattle could bring to bear … larger organization, more follow-on services, I think that would be noteworthy.” Comissioner Julie Hiatt asked about follow-on examples. “Technical rescue services, like trench rescue,” Hagen began. (A unit is positioned in SODO, 4th and Horton.)

North Highline (and Burien) Chief Mike Marrs said those services are provided through Zone 3 responses, any station out of King County. It would come out of on-duty firefighters as opposed to specialty crew members who are always on.

What if the specialists are busy? Giba asked. If it’s going to be more than 2 hours before they are, they have callbacks to bring personnel in. “Every Seattle firefighter is trained to the awareness of (assessing) operational level,” he said, how to call for additional resources, for example. They also could call for mutual aid if need be, Hagen said – Seattle is zone 5, South/West suburbs are zone 3.

Hiatt asked for an example. So Hagen spelled out a trench-rescue scenario, a “low priority, high impact, high risk type of emergency” that might happen every six weeks or so. If one is already in progress and a second one is called, the first-arriving firefighters know what to do – to stabilize the situation, waiting for more advanced resources to arrive. “Chances are we might do more than one of those things at once, reinstate our backup team AND call for mutual aid.”

Pittman then spoke. He said the average tax bill would go down in NH if annexed. Seattle “really does have a low tax rate because we have a huge assessed value and state law limits how much (they can charge). … Residents in this area are affected by special-purpose districts, and NHFD is a special-purpose district. If annexed … the only thing that would exist for Highline is if they passed a bond that would stay with property owners until paid off.”

“How about financing for the fire services?” Pittman’s reply: The city budgets overall for everything.

He mentioned the state sales tax that would be partly funneled to Seattle – $7.75 million a year for a 6-year period, while the previous version was $5 million for 10 years – without costing anyone anything more.

His spreadsheet showed that annual taxes on an average NH property would go down about $200 a year – dropping from $3,239 to $3,011.

Asked about the recently passed Move Seattle transportation levy, Pittman replied incorrectly that it wasn’t a property tax – but it is (“The $930 million levy will be paid for through a property tax that will cost the median Seattle household (valued at $450,000) about $275 per year, for nine years.”)

He was asked about school districts. This area would remain in the Highline Public Schools system unless something happened to change that in the future. The school districts would have to go to the Educational Service District to ake a change – “there are no plans to do that, and no discussions to my knowledge (about that).”

Back to fire-related matters. He mentioned that firefighters would retain their seniority and benefits – “the two unions would have some discussion among themselves” about who goes where,” and the Fire Departments also would have some details to work out, if there were any layoffs. But again, they’d need more firefighters than they have now. What about administrative staff? “We’re looking into that,” said Pittman.

What about rank? asked Giba. Pittman said that people would be evaluated on an individual basis to see if they met the qualifications for the Seattle version of the title they hold in NH. Hagen elaborated, “I called the president of Local 27 this morning, Kenny Stewart, to say we’d be having some of these discussions – he’s in pretty close communication with NH leadership, some of this stuff hasn’t been worked out yet.” They’d look at resumes, training, etc. Hiatt wondered if there are set criteria for evaluation. Local 27 VP Jeff Miller was in the room and said “That all gets worked out in union negotiations … as a union we wouldn’t be doing any evaluating but we’d be advocating for people to keep their seniority,” etc.

“It’s a pretty well-documented body of knowledge,” Hagen added.

Hiatt asked him for elaboration on administrative staff.

“They’re not necessarily at the fire stations – we have them at the training facility, Harborview, headquarters – I’m going to guess we have in the 50s, admin employees who are in Local 17.” Hagen said he couldn’t commit to what the situation would be under annexation – there’s one administrative staffer at the NHFD HQ – “I think we’d find a place for that person to go.”

What changes would people see in this building?

Pittman didn’t think many, but acknowledged that the building is used a lot for community meetings, so that would be worked out. The vehicles would be the biggest change.

No plans for station relocation? asked commissioner Dominic Barrera.

“Not at this time,” said Pittman. If there was a need to relocate the building, he added, it would probably be a little further north and east, “but there are no plans for that, let me be real clear.”

The real question, he said, is whether the plans would continue for a station in the potentially to-be-annexed area, “and there are no plans to have no station here” – he pointed out that this station would help service parts of West Seattle too.

“Is there any way you can give us an assurance there will always be a station in area Y?” asked Hiatt.

“An iron-clad guarantee? … It wouldn’t make sense to not have one in this area,” said Hagen.

“But it doesn’t make sense to not have one in Arbor Heights,” Hiatt pressed (an area annexed to Seattle in xxx). “… We wouldn’t want to be Arbor Heights.”

What about mutual-aid agreements if north Burien suddenly was without the NH fire station? Seattle already has several, said Hagen.

Do you feel a responsibility to north Burien? pressed Hiatt, saying it would leave “a hole.”

The Boundary Review Board would look at “doing no harm,” replied Pittman. He also said he had been “having conversations with Chief (Mike) Marrs … we take it very seriously.”

Hagen mentioned Seattle’s remodeling of fire stations – 30 of 33 done – “we would be making (upgrades) to this station,” including a decontamination area. “We’ve made a commitment to storing our protetive ensemble in a cimte-clintrolled system … with airflow through … the gear degrades a lot more quickly if we don’t take care of it. So we’ve made a commitment to appropriate gear storage facilities.” He said they also are committed to seat belts, strapping things down in cabs, cancer and heart attack. They also have put a functional gym system in every fire station, for health and wellness. They have facilities to capture the “diesel soot” as engines come in and out. “And on sleeping arrangements, we have gone to 1 person per room.”

Mutual aid is not automatic right now for Seattle, Hagen acknowledged, but it could be.

That surfaced concerns about North Burien losing coverage if the remaining portion of North Highline became part of Seattle. So – How would Burien get pre-approved for (automatic) Seattle mutual aid? Hagen said the county’s 50 fire chiefs meet regularly, and Seattle’s new Chief Harold Scoggins “is very comfortable operating in that environment … I see it as a trend we’re moving toward in this county.”

“Wouldn’t being the closest to Arbor Heights put an additional strain on this station?” asked Barbara Dobkin of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.

Hagen pointed out that “if we remove the political boundary,” then Engine 26 (South Park) and Engine 11 (Highland Park) would take part of what’s currently the North Highline area, so this station wouldn’t necessarily be serving everything it does AND more.

Pittman then picked up the timeline. The Boundary Review Board takes this up in June. Either a November 2017 or November 2018 election could follow. The former would result in annexation taking effect in January 2019, after a “full-blown budget process with the City Council.” Or, if a 2018 vote, then it would take effect in January 2020. “So there’s time to work out these issues.”

“So shouldn’t people have answers to these questions before they vote?” asked Giba.

Yes, and that’s what they’re working on now, said Hagen and Pittman. Two to three weeks away.

“We have to take a position and develop a brief on annexation and whether we support it by May 27th,” before the Boundary Review Board meeting, said the NHFD board’s lawyer. Without all the answers, it would be difficult for them to support it. So, the lawyer said, why do you have to have a Boundary Review Board hearing this soon for a November 2017 annexation vote?

Because they already asked for a one-year extension,and the main issue – the tax credit – has been addressed, Pittman said.

Anything you’d like to add? Giba asked Freeman.

No, she replied, but she’d answer questions.

First question – is King County financially assisting any government over these annexed areas? No, she said. Part of why we’re supporting annexations is because we (are low on money).

What about finding North Burien a place to build a fire station? Freeman recapped some past discussions including “an agreement that sunsetted in 2012” – the year by which the county had envisioned all the annexations would be complete. “We’re well past that date and we’re not done.” Three “islands” are claimed by Renton, there’s one outside Federal Way, there’s this one, and “63 smaller islands” elsewhere in the county.

“So you’re not going to find a parcel for North Burien (fire station) if the annexation goes through?” Hiatt asked.

“That’s correct,” said Freeman.

What would happen to the community if annexation was voted in, before it took effect? Dobkin asked.

We’d continue to serve it as best we can, said Freeman, adding that the county is looking at a “significant budget shortfall” in the next biennium. And “service continues to degrade.”

Pittman pointed out that it would only be a year between the vote and annexation taking effect.

Hiatt wondered if medic mutual aid could be available out of Burien, expressing concern that there’s just one unit in WS and it’s a ways away. “There’s a couple options” said Hagen – “one would be to make an arrangement with Medic 4 to provide that service in this area, the existing medic unit in West Seattle could be relocated further south …” Currently, they don’t call for mutual aid until everyone’s tied up, but that could change, Hagen said. “…I can tell you your concern is heard.” But, “There’s really no good reason we don’t have automatic aid right now … we can give easier than we can get … most of the time.”

Pat Price from NHUAC asked about timetable for the Duwamish annexation and how that’s affecting NHFD. “We’re still working through the interlocal agreement with King County … still looking at (possibly) putting it on November ballot this year, and it would take effect in 2018.”

Chief Hagen committed to getting answers to the e-mailed questions as soon as possible – even if partial, Hiatt stressed and he agreed to that.

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SEATTLE ANNEXATION? Next discussion: North Highline Fire District Board on May 16th

May 6th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Annexation, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on SEATTLE ANNEXATION? Next discussion: North Highline Fire District Board on May 16th

Quick followup to the announcement at last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting (WCN coverage here) that the King County Boundary Review Board has scheduled its public hearing on possible Seattle annexation:

As mentioned in our story, the BRB public hearings are set for 7 pm June 13-14 at the Technology Access Foundation’s Bethaday Community Space.

We followed up this morning with Seattle city government’s point person on the proposed annexation, Kenny Pittman. He said the city is still waiting for its formal notification of what’s on the BRB website, so it hasn’t made an official announcement of the hearings yet. He also said the city has yet to set up the webpage it promised at the March Dubsea Coffee community meeting, with information about the proposal and process. We asked if any further community conversations are scheduled; not yet, he said, but he did mention that he will be at the North Highline Fire District board’s meeting on May 16th (7 pm, NHFD HQ, 1243 SW 112th) at the board’s invitation, and will be bringing along a Seattle Fire assistant chief.

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Small house fire in White Center, no one hurt

November 9th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Fire, North Highline Fire District, White Center news Comments Off on Small house fire in White Center, no one hurt

(WCN photo by Patrick Sand)
North Highline firefighters are just wrapping up their work at a house in the 10800 block of 11th SW, where a small fire started in a wall and extended to the ceiling before it was put out. They tell us damage is not major and the home’s residents will be able to go back inside soon. Nobody was hurt. The fire’s cause has not yet been determined.

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VIDEO: King County Sheriff’s Office, North Highline Fire District, AMR ambulance, other safety specialists visit White Center Heights Elementary

April 29th, 2015 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, Schools, White Center news 1 Comment »

(UPDATED EARLY THURSDAY with more video, photos)

The youngest students at White Center Heights Elementary School got a lesson today that will last their whole lives: Finding out firsthand about public-safety personnel and what they do, during the school’s second annual Emergency Services Day. In our video, above, the star of the show was the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter Guardian One, which landed right on the school’s playfield after circling a few times. Once it had come to a full stop, the students got to go over for a close-up look:

But the helicopter was not the only visitor. Public-safety vehicles including a North Highline Fire District engine and crew rolled onto the WC Heights playground for show and tell:

Ever wonder how a fire engine works and what equipment’s on board? Listen to the explanation and Q/A for this group of students:

An AMR ambulance was there too, with an EMT who has a special connection to the school – David Sonsteng is WC Heights Elementary’s PTSA president:

And a KCSO Gang Unit detective showed the students a patrol car as well as explaining his gear, from weapons to radio:

The students included WC Heights kindergarteners who had been working on their “community helpers” module, and preschool and Head Start students who were finishing up a “transportation” module. Introducing young children to emergency personnel in a non-emergency situation is helpful in case of a future emergency – firefighters, police and others might look scary with their uniforms and equipment unless a child recalls having learned about who they are and what they do. So all these little ones went home today with stories to tell:

(Here’s our coverage of the first WCH Emergency Services Day last year.)
————————-
————————-
EARLIER: Below, the short version of our story, originally published Wednesday afternoon:

During a burst of sunshine between showers, White Center Heights Elementary students greeted special visitors for the school’s 2nd annual Emergency Services DayKing County Sheriff’s Office (including the Guardian One helicopter and a Gang Unit detective), North Highline Fire District, AMR (ambulance), and more. Above, a quick bit of video from right after Guardian One’s landing on the school playfield – we have much more to add later this evening.

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

October 17th, 2014 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Fire District meeting Monday: ‘Benefit charge’ hearing, too

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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Scenes from Night Out 2014 in North Highline

August 6th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, Neighborhoods, North Highline Fire District, White Center news Comments Off on Scenes from Night Out 2014 in North Highline

Thanks to North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin for sharing photos from a lively Night Out gathering in NH – our apologies for delayed publication. Above, NH Fire District firefighters stopped by. Below, King County Sheriff’s Office was represented too – that’s Major Jerrell Wills in uniform:

And he wasn’t alone:

Next year, let us know if you are having a Night Out party – we would love to stop by a few, as we do on the other side of the city-county line – whitecenternow@gmail.com any time!

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Election 2014: North Highline Fire District ‘benefit charge’ passing

August 5th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline Fire District, White Center news 1 Comment »

It needs 60 percent approval – and so far, after the first ballot count in tonight’s election, the North Highline Fire District benefit charge has almost 70 percent approval. Here’s the full list of election results from around King County; next ballot count will be out tomorrow afternoon.

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North Highline ballot measure: Hearing next Monday; ballots on the way

July 16th, 2014 Tracy Posted in North Highline Fire District, White Center news 3 Comments »

King County Elections is sending out ballots for the August 5th election starting today, and if you live in the North Highline Fire District, you will be asked to vote on Proposition 1, the “benefit charge” measure. The district is having a public hearing next Monday, July 21st, during its regular meeting (7 pm, NHFD HQ, 1243 SW 112th). Here’s the fact sheet it’s circulating:

P.S. If you want to return your ballot without having to pay postage, the drop-off van will be back in Greenbridge August 2nd, 4th, 5th – details here.

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34th District Democrats endorse North Highline Fire District measure

July 10th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline Fire District, White Center news 5 Comments »

Less than a week until King County Elections sends out the August 5th ballots, which will include the North Highline Fire District benefit-charge ballot measure. Last night, meeting in West Seattle, this area’s biggest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, endorsed the measure. If you’re still getting up to speed on what it’s about, see the video in this WCN story from last month’s NH Unincorporated Area Council meeting.

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