Ballard woman heading back to Haiti to help

Last year, Ballardite Tracey Higdon volunteered at a medical clinic in Haiti through the non-profit Friends of the Children of Haiti (FOTCOH). This was long before the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. Now, she tells us, “They more than have their hands full there.”

Higdon is on the left with a line of incoming patients behind her.

“Since the earthquake I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out how best to be of help to the people of Haiti,” Higdon wrote in a letter to her friends. She’s a business owner with a background in exteriors, not the medical help the clinic could traditionally use.

The clinic does some work outside because of the air-borne illnesses.

“On March 26th I intend to head in-country to manage the repair and re-painting of the clinic. One of the last standing in clinics in the region, this 10-year old concrete building will soon deteriorate if we don’t properly seal and repaint it now,” the letter continues. A photo of the clinic when it was first completed is here.

“A blitz of patients,” Higdon says.

Higdon is trying to raise $6,000 for the trip. This money will cover Higdon’s travel, supplies, and hire labor in Haiti. The head of FOTCOH, Dick Hammond has given her the green light to hire a team of workers to help get the building back into shape, which will give a little boost to the economy. Higdon knows the team of workers she will hire and tells us that each one of them has lost their home.

Red hair is an early sign of malnutrition.

You can make a donation to help Higdon get back to Haiti through this PayPal account or attend the upcoming fundraiser at The Leary Traveler (4354 Leary Way NW) on March 8th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can contact Tracey through this email: (Thanks Noele for the tip!)

Empty Bowls event Saturday, volunteers needed

This coming Saturday is the 2nd annual Empty Bowls fundraiser and organizers are still looking for volunteers. Nancy McKinney with the Ballard Food Bank sent us a note that volunteers are needed for two-hour shifts beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 27th. They need help in the kitchen, with the auction, with crowd control, music act ‘roadies’ and other positions. If you’re interested in volunteering you can contact Andrea at to sign up. Let her know what times you will be available. Andrea will then get back to you for shift confirmation.

The Empty Bowls fundraising event runs from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ballard Community Center (6020 28th Ave NW). Painted bowls, some by local Ballardites, will be up for grabs for a minimum suggested donation of $10. (Anything over $10 is tax deductible and available for matching funds from employers.) Plus there will be a silent auction for premium bowls donated by renowned artists such as Kri Kri Studios. New bowls will be released for auction each hour.

When you buy a bowl, Ballard Market has donated meat and vegan soup to fill it and Tall Grass Bakery will provide the bread. Local musicians will be providing the entertainment.

Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger, executed at the community level. Money raised here in Ballard will go to the Ballard Food Bank. Unique to Seattle Empty Bowls is the sale of animal bowls. Money from these bowls will go to the Seattle Animal Shelter to buy food for hungry animals.

Last year, the fundraiser brought in more than $5,000 for charity. This year organizers want to double that.

Emergency repairs to Ballard Bridge on Thursday

This just in from the Seattle Department of Transportation:

Thursday, February 25, a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crew will make emergency repairs to an expansion joint on the Ballard Bridge. The north bound right lane will be closed at the north end of the bridge where roadway crosses over NW Leary. The left lane northbound will remain open to traffic. The work will begin at 9 a.m. and wrap up by 2:30 p.m. If necessary, the crew will return and do additional work in the same location on Friday, February 26, between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Motorists should expect slowing at the north end of the bridge and use added caution when passing the work zone.

World premier musical at Nordic Heritage Museum

This weekend, the Nordic Heritage Museum presents the world premier musical, Troublemaker’s Mother, based on the Finnish epic, Kalevala (Land of the Heroes.)

Finns and Fennophiles around the world honor the epic poems on February 28th, the date the author signed the forward, and this year’s Seattle celebration is no different. This is the second musical adaptation of a story within Kalevala by Seattle writer Nick DiMartino. According to a release sent out by the museum, his previous work, “Sampo” (The Magic Mill) was the highlight of the national FinnFest held at the University of Washington in 1999.

Troublemaker’s Mother “retains the classic elements of tragedy – pride, passion, betrayal, violence and death – while mining the humor beneath the somber surface. In bringing this work to the stage, DiMartino is joined by composer Kim Douglass, director Lori Larsen, and a cast of talented performers, including some returning from the Sampo production,” the release reads.

Performances of Troublemaker’s Mother are scheduled for February 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. and February 27 and 28 at 3:00 p.m. at the Nordic Heritage Museum (3014 NW 67th St). Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $17.00 for Museum members and $15 for students and seniors. Children 12 and under are free with accompanying adult. To purchase tickets, please call (206) 789-5707 ext. 10.

Jam for Haiti at Egan’s this Thursday

Egan’s Ballard Jam House has quite the line-up to jam the night away this Thursday. Starting at 7 p.m., more than 25 local musicians (see the flyer here) will take to the stage. All donations will go directly to Haiti earthquake victims through “Food for the Poor” and “Doctors Without Borders.” According to their website, “We won’t be taking reservations for this show, since people will be coming and going throughout the evening. Come early if you really want a seat!”

Help design a new Sunset Hill park tonight

Just behind Picolino’s at 65th & 32nd sits a little plot of land that the Sunset Hill Community Association is hoping will become the area’s newest park.

Back in November, a group of neighbors was awarded a nearly $15,000 grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to study the feasibility of turning the substation land into a public space. “Our idea is that this new park could have a serious array of photovoltaic modules, generating electricity and feeding it into the grid. We’re not talking about a demonstration project; we’re talking about a real, functioning part of the city’s energy infrastructure,” Robert Drucker, the president of the SHCA emailed us, “Below the modules we are proposing a park, and what that park will look like is the subject of Tuesday’s meeting.”

CAST Architecture from Fremont has been hired to help design the area. “They are a young and very creative firm, and they are coming on Tuesday to facilitate the workshop. After introductions and some technical sharing at 6:30pm, we’re going to break into small groups to design a park!” Drucker says.

The meeting will be held at the Sunset Hill Community Club (3003 NW 66th St) tonight from 6:30 to 8:30. “We’re serving refreshments as an added attraction,” Drucker adds. To keep up to date on the project, you can check out the new Sunset Substation blog.

Little Caesars opening delayed until Thursday

You’ll have to wait a couple more days to get your Little Caesars pizza. Owner Elizabeth Lorenzen emailed us to say that instead of opening the new store at 9776 Holman Rd today, they have to wait until Thursday. The health inspector will be there on Wednesday and after they pass the health inspection they can start making pizza. “We have been busy getting the store ready and have had a lot of people stopping by from the neighborhood to welcome us,” she writes.

Former Ballard business owners sentenced for embezzlement

The former owners of Lunde Electric in Ballard now face the penalty for two felony charges of Embezzlement or Conversion from an Employee Pension Benefit Plan, and one felony charge of Falsification of Records of an Employee Pension Benefit Plan.

Sigmund G. Eriksen and Raymond A. Eriksen were sentenced on Friday to two years of probation, a $20,000 fine each and they must perform 240 hours of community service.

The Eriksens were convicted in October 2009. A jury acquitted the two of nine counts and couldn’t reach a verdict on the other charges. At the sentencing on Friday, “U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said that any businessman who talks with the Eriksens will realize that they would be a fool to engage in similar conduct and run the risk of a felony prosecution and conviction,” the press release from the Department of Justice states. Here are details from the release:

According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, Lunde Electric adopted a 401(k) retirement plan for their non-union employees in 1995. Employees could pay a portion of their salary into the plan, and the company would match 50% of the employee contribution. By law, employee contributions are to be paid into the trust fund as soon as deducted from employees’ paychecks and in no case later than the 15th day of the following month. Beginning in January 1999, and continuing into 2003, the Eriksens failed to forward the employee contributions to the 401(k) trust fund. Employees received 401(k) account statements that failed to disclose that their contributions had not been paid into the trust fund.
The Eriksens were advised by their attorney and accountant to begin forwarding the employee contributions to the trust fund, but failed to do so. In October 2004, some 18 months after the U.S. Department of Labor subpoenaed the Lunde Electric 401(k) records, the Eriksens paid just over $90,000 to the trust fund, more than $65,000 of that was employee money. The Eriksens were indicted in December 2008.

Prosecutors wrote to the court asking for prison time because the men, “…stole their employees’ retirement contributions month after month over a four-year period and used these funds to meet the financial obligations of a company that they, and only they, owned and controlled. They did so despite their fiduciary obligations to their employees as the plan trustees; despite the repeated input from their bookkeeper; despite the advice and warnings they received from their ERISA attorney and plan accountant; and despite having no need for their employees’ contributions. They stopped taking their employees’ money only after they were served with grand jury subpoenas in early April 2003, i.e., only after the Department of Justice intervened.” Judge Coughenour decided that prison time for the two was not necessary. (Thanks Todd for the tip!)

Parish school breaks new ground

St. Alphonsus Parish School students and parents got down on dirty on Saturday, creating their new Parish Community Garden.

“The goal is just to have a living laboratory for the students,” principal Maureen Reid tells us. The students will be able to explore and apply science concepts in the garden, as well as grow fresh produce. Reid tells us that the produce will be donated to the Ballard Food Bank and the students will sell flowers and herbs to raise money for a school in Guatemala, which they have a relationship through “Bridges to Understanding.”

One of the teachers received a sustainable school grant last year, which got the “green” ball rolling. The school is now composting lunches, they have worm bins and this garden is just a natural extension of that, Reid says.