Mayor to help clean up Ballard Saturday

It’s time for some spring cleaning in downtown Ballard.

As part of the Mayor’s “Clean and Green Seattle initiative,” Marvin’s Garden Park and the surrounding area will get spruced up this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Mayor Nickels, city workers and volunteers will be cleaning, painting over graffiti, removing old posters from utility poles and pruning the landscaping within the area bounded by 24th Ave NW, 20th Ave NW from NW Market to Shilshole NW. As Rob Mattson, the Ballard District Coordinator puts it, volunteers are needed “to roll up their sleeves for a couple hours to put a spit shine on our well-used and sometimes abused heart of Ballard.” Everyone is welcome to help out (we’ll be there, too). If you have any questions, you can contact Rob at

Earlier: Petition aims to fight crime at Bergen Place, Marvin’s Garden

Museum seeks volunteers for ambitious project

The Nordic Heritage Museum is looking for volunteers to help with their new oral history initiative, “Nordic American Voices.” The ambitious plan is to record the life histories of Nordic immigrants and their descendants to the Pacific Northwest, focusing on WWII occupation and resistance. A 15-member steering committee, with representatives from each of the five major Nordic heritage groups, will guide the project. The early goal is to publish a new, expanded version of the popular book “Voices of Ballard: Immigrant Stories from the Vanishing Generation” which was written and published in 2001. This project needs volunteers to be successful. For those interested in helping out, there is a training session this Saturday, May 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Janet Rauscher at or 206-789-5707, ext. 35.

Todd Boettger now breathing on his own

Todd Boettger, the man who was attacked in Greenwood earlier this month, is recovering slowly. Forrest Boettger, Todd’s brother, says that Todd is still in the ICU at Harborview but was taken off the breathing apparatus on Tuesday. The doctors have stopped giving Todd the paralysis medication, and he’s able to “open his eyes to the stimuli of voices but does not follow with his gaze. Todd is able to move all of his limbs but can not at this time follow simple commands such as move your right fingers,” Forrest writes. Todd will undergo facial reconstructive surgery today, and doctors will keep him in the ICU possibly through the weekend before he is moved. As every brain injury is different, they don’t know what the recovery process will be. “Through this ordeal I would like to take the opportunity thank everyone for their concern and love that you all hold for my brother Todd. Again I would also like to remind the community that a fund has been set up for Todd at US Bank, the Todd Boettger Relief Fund (acct # 153461776434),” says Forrest.

Forrest will be coming to Seattle May 6th – May 11th. He plans to get a group of volunteers and go business to business, door to door to collect $50,000 for Todd and Lillian. Anyone who is interested in helping can contact Forrest at:

Weekend construction to snarl Market St.

Seattle Department of Transportation paving crews will be out on Saturday fixing two areas along Market St. The first trouble spot will be just west of the intersection at 15th and Market. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. crews will funnel cars down to one lane in each direction. Further down Market near 30th, the road will be closed completely between 30th and 32nd. There will be a detour provided by way of NW 54th. The crews will be restoring pavement at both locations that was torn up to get to underground utilities.

More schools close over swine flu

Updated 8 p.m. Three Seattle schools have closed due to “probable” cases of swine flu linked to students: Madrona K-8, Stevens Elementary and Aki Kurose Middle School. There are now ten probable cases of swine flu in King County. We’ll keep you updated of any impact in our neighborhood.

Earlier report: Public health officials report three “probable” swine flu cases in Seattle, one being an 11-year-old boy who attends Madrona K-8. My Ballard reader Jennifer said the school started notification calls late Wednesday alerting parents of the possible case. “It is important to know that the student did NOT attend school during the time that he would have been contagious,” a message on Seattle Schools’ website explains. “Out of an abundance of caution, Madrona K-8 will be closed for 7 days.” All other schools remain open. Public health is not revealing where the other two ill people work or live, only to say it’s in the City of Seattle. All three people are improving. More details and swine flu information in this press release from public health, and we’ll keep you updated of any impact here in our neighborhood.

Neighbors: Church to vote on homeless shelter

The congregation of Our Redeemer’s Church is planning to vote on whether to allow a controversial SHARE homeless shelter move into Calvary Lutheran Church without sex offender background checks, several neighbors tell My Ballard. They said they were informed of the new development by Pastor Steve Grumm over the weekend while they were helping church staff spruce up the grounds around the vacant Calvary Lutheran building (below) in Loyal Heights. Neighbors say the congregation-only vote is scheduled for May 7th.

We spoke to Pastor Grumm this evening at home. “We’re not going to share any information,” Grumm said, explaining that the church had decided to stop talking with the media until they have an announcement in “a week to 10 days.” He refused to confirm a report posted a few hours earlier that quotes the church’s own spokesperson confirming the vote. “What the situation is today changes tomorrow,” he said. “Everything now is conjecture.” Grumm said the church is still “in the midst of a conversation” with neighbors.

One neighbor who’s been actively involved in these conversations says a representative from the neighborhood will be attending the May 7th vote to present their position. “I hope the congregation takes into account the neighborhood views and concerns,” he said. “We’ve been working in good faith and hope they will, too.” Another neighbor, who also asked that we not use his name, expressed his frustration that the decision will be in the hands of the Our Redeemer’s congregation. “I was formerly against this shelter -– now I am steadfastly against this shelter,” he said.

Timeline of major developments:
February 19: Homeless shelter moving into Calvary Lutheran
February 26: Emotions run high at packed community meeting
February 28: Church postpones homeless shelter move, forms task force
March 20: Food Bank closes up soup kitchen at Calvary Lutheran
April 22: SHARE refuses to submit to sex offender checks

Longtime Ballard pastor passes away

After battling lung cancer for more than a year, Reverend Malcolm Unseth of Ballard First Lutheran Church passed away last Saturday evening.

Rev. Unseth, pictured here during the 2008 Blessing of the Fleet, was instrumental in the development of the Fishermen’s Memorial and chaired the Memorial Committee. Heidi Eriksen emailed us:

Anyone who was a part of ‘Old Ballard’ knew Malcolm Unseth. He was the longtime Pastor at Ballard First Lutheran Church were he blessed the fishing fleet, cooked salmon at the Seafood fest and was an integral part of the Ballard community. “Pastor Unseth” as I knew him, was a part of my family for over forty years. My parents were married by him over 35 years ago, I was baptized by him as an infant and he helped my family say goodbye to several lost loved ones. He was and is, a true part of the Ballard community and will be deeply missed!

According to Rev. Unseth’s obituary, a “Celebration of Life” service will be held Saturday, May 2, at 2 p.m. at Ballard First Lutheran. Memorials may be given to Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Scholarship Fund, Dearborn Park Elementary School 2nd Grade, or to ELCA Hunger Relief — designate “life-giving water” or “God’s global barnyard.”

‘Dine out for Life’ in Ballard

A handful of Ballard restaurants are participating in the 16th annual “Dining Out For Life” event this Thursday. BalMar, Hattie’s Hat, King’s Hardware, Pasta Bella, Ballard Brothers Seafood and Burgers, Ray’s Boathouse, Ray’s Café and Volterra are all participating: 30% of your breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or drinks bill will go directly to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and the fight against illness and hunger in our community. Check here for more details on participating restaurants and which meals apply. (Full disclosure: Ballard Brothers is a sponsor on My Ballard.)