Town Hall meeting this Saturday

Now that the 2009 legislative session is over the 36th District lawmakers are holding a town hall meeting to talk about issues affecting the 36th District. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson and Rep. Reuven Carlyle will host the meeting to provide an overview of the session and what future steps our state should take. The town hall will be held this Saturday, May 30th from 10am – Noon at the Seattle Labor Temple in Belltown (2800 -1st Ave). There will be time for comments and questions.

Burned out street lights could be fixed this summer

Those burned out street lights may get fixed this summer. Mayor Greg Nickels has authorized $2.1 million for maintenance crews to catch up with all the outages, according to the Seattle PostGlobe. The online news site says that skyrocketing energy prices have forced a cutback on overtime, which has resulted in a month-and-a-half waiting period to get a streetlight fixed. A year ago, according to the Seattle PI, lights were back on in 10 days. Just this February, we were told that the wait time was 32 working days. Today, that period has jumped to 48 days. The PostGlobe says that crews will work during the summer months to fix the outages.

Abraxus Books planning to leave Ballard

After seven years in Ballard, Abraxus Books is telling customers that they’re planning to move to lower Queen Anne.

An employee tells us that the store will be moving to 524 1st Ave N at the beginning of next month, although the owner tells us that no date has been set. Abraxus has been in the old Ballard Library location at 5711 24th Avenue NW for two years. Before that it was down on Seaview Avenue next to Anthony’s. (Thanks Nancy and Jeff for the tip!)

Penny Harvest a success at Adams Elementary

Pennies really do add up, and the kids at Adams Elementary are living proof.

The Penny Harvest ended on December 1 of last year, and now the money has been donated. Students at Adams collected 700 pounds of coins or about $1,000. For the past few months, the “Powerful Penny People” (the Penny Harvest leaders at Adams) have been trying to decide which charities to support. Last week, they presented checks to Childhaven, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, and the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic and Adopt-an-orca through the Whale Museum. (Thanks Bobbi for the tip and photo!)

Short-lived Disney PR stunt at Edith’s home

Update: If you drove by Edith Macefield’s old home just after 9 this morning, you saw a big bundle of balloons soaring above it.

Turns out, it was a publicity stunt for the Disney movie “Up,” which is about an elderly man who flees the encroaching city by soaring away — inside his house — under thousands of helium balloons.

But today’s promotion didn’t last long. The balloons were pulled down a couple hours later after they started popping in the wind, Disney tells us. By the way, the fact that Edith’s story mirrors the movie isn’t a new idea: My Ballard reader Josh made the connection in August of last year, and we posted a blurb about it. (Thanks Jonathan for today’s photo!)

Mobile cottage looking for a home

Jeff and Arlene are downsizing. Big time. The couple is building a “mini-mobile cottage” and looking for somewhere to live once they move to Seattle in a few months when Jeff starts as a PhD student at UW. “This home is our experiment in voluntary simplicity, leaving less of a carbon footprint, using green building materials and sustainability,” Arlene explains.

The tiny home measures just 7’-6”x18’-6” on the inside. On their blog, they say that they want a safe, quiet location not too far from UW — and they love the Ballard area. “We simply need a space to park the cottage, an outdoor extension cord for our tiny frig and a garden hose for a hookup for showers when we don’t shower at the YMCA after a morning workout.” They’re willing to pay rent for use of space. They’ll recycle rainwater, they have a composting toilet and will bring along their own propane tank for heating and cooking. If you’re interested, you can contact Jeff and Arlene here.

School start time may shift this fall

School start times could be moved up by 10 to 15 minutes starting next school year. Based on feedback from teachers, principals and families, school district staff is proposing the changes. “Making these start/end time changes will ensure that all elementary students are picked up and dropped off during daylight hours,” a release from Seattle Public Schools said. The district also says the changes will also use 49 fewer buses with these proposed start times and reduce the transportation cost by $2.2 million. Here’s the breakdown (.pdf):

Adams Elem.: 9:15 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. (now 8:55 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.)
Ballard High: 8:00 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. (now 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.)
Loyal Heights Elem.: 9:05 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. (now 8:50 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.)
North Beach Elem.: 9:20 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. (now 9:00 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.)
Salmon Bay: 9:05 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (now 8:55 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.)
West Woodland Elem.: 9:10 to 3:20 p.m. (now 9:10 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.)
Whitman Middle: 8:05 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. (now 7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.)
Whittier Elem.: 9:25 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (now 9:05 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.)

Earlier, there was speculation that the start times could as late as 9:40 a.m., sparking a petition signed by nearly 700 parents. “This start time is nearly untenable for most working parents, who will be forced to either negotiate their own start times to 10 a.m. or later or find and pay for additional child care, an especially outrageous accommodation to demand in this economy,” the petition reads. The board will vote on the proposed times listed above on June 3rd.

Where the layoffs hit Ballard schools

Seattle Public Schools announced last week that it needed to lay off more than 150 teachers and staff to help adjust for an estimated $34 million budget shortfall. Today, we’ve learned from the school district that 21 total teachers and staff at Ballard-area schools have been let go.

Here’s the breakdown: Ballard High School was hardest hit with seven layoffs including teachers and a counselor. Whitman Middle School had six layoffs which also included teachers and a counselor. Adams Elementary had to dismiss three teachers while West Woodland and Salmon Bay each had two teachers let go. Whittier Elementary had one teacher cut. Neither North Beach Elementary or Loyal Heights Elementary had any staff members laid off, although as we wrote earlier this week, Loyal Heights will be getting a new principal.

New burger joint coming to Ballard Blocks

A burger place called The Counter is coming to Ballard Blocks this fall.

The Counter is best known in California, seen here in Santa Monica. You sit down, grab a clipboard and “build your own gourmet burger” with 312,120 different combinations to choose from. The Counter establishments also have a full bar. This is the first restaurant to come to the Ballard Blocks development on 14th Ave. — a Chipotle Grill was planning to open there, but pulled out a short time later. (Thanks Jack and Joni for the tip!)