Small Faces alum win first-ever Wirta Scholarships

Two alumni of Small Faces Child Development Center are the recipients of the first-ever Lynn B. Wirta Scholarships. Jane Pendras-Verdon, winner of the Alumni Scholarship, and Kelsey Gray, winner of the Staff Scholarship, will each receive $500. Both women currently work at the school as an Assistant Teacher and Associate Teacher, respectively.

From the release:

The Wirta Scholarship, named in honor of Lynn B. Wirta, is open to current Small Faces staff and alumni students. Lynn B. Wirta was employed at Small Faces for 30 years, 25 of which were as the Director. In that time, she developed an accredited program for children where social, emotional, physical and intellectual skills could be creatively nurtured through purposeful play. In addition to the children, Lynn encouraged staff to continue their adult education specifically in the Early Learning field. Upon her retirement in 2009, a scholarship fund was established to assist students who continue post high school education in Early Learning, Elementary or Special Education.

Cancer patient and dad raising money & awareness

This summer we introduced readers to an inspirational 9-year-old Loyal Heights Elementary student who is fighting cancer.

Owain Weinert rides in the Seattle Livestrong Challenge.

Owain Weinert was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) earlier this year, but the disease didn’t stop him from riding in Seattle’s Livestrong Challenge. He had originally signed up to do the entire ride, but had to cut it short after his diagnosis.

Owain’s dad, Alex, emails us that his son raised nearly $4,000, riding 14 miles just two days after a chemo treatment. The Livestrong folks interviewed Owain, bringing his story to the attention of Lance Armstrong, who tweeted it to his 2-million plus followers. (See third tweet down.)

Owain is now in what’s called “long-term maintenance,” a lower intensity chemo treatment that consists of one chemo pill each day with a chemo injection once a month, his dad tells us. His hair started growing back less than two weeks ago, a huge milestone. “Along with this, he’s regaining some of his physical strength,” Alex tells us, “It will be a long road, but he’s definitely getting stronger every day.”

With his son in recovery, Alex Weinert is now on a campaign of his own to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. This weekend he’ll ride 200 miles from Seattle to Portland, to raise money for Pablove Across America. Alex has reached his financial goal of $2,500, but for him it’s not about the money. “My goal is to get as many DIFFERENT donors as possible to build up awareness,” Alex writes, “I am asking for ‘buy me a latte’ type donations for the ride, but hope to reach as many people as possible.” If you’d like, you can donate here.

Metro Transit making changes to Ballard routes

In order to save money, preserve bus service and operate more efficiently, Metro Transit is making changes to its service. Some of those changes include Ballard routes.

Linda Thielke with Metro sent the following alert for routes serving Ballard:

• Route 17 – There are routing changes in downtown Seattle for both northbound and southbound trips.

• Route 28 – On weekdays, the southbound express trip to downtown Seattle from Aurora Avenue and North 143rd Street at 5:34 a.m. will be discontinued. Also discontinued are all shuttle trips operating between Aurora Avenue and North 143rd Street and between Fremont Avenue North and North 34th Street.

• Route 46 – The westbound trips to Golden Gardens from Fremont Avenue North and North 34th Street at 11:33 a.m., 12:33 p.m. and 1:33 p.m., and the eastbound trips to Fremont from Golden Gardens at 12:10 p.m., 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. will be discontinued.

• Route 75 – On weekday evenings and all day Sunday, service frequency between Ballard and Northgate will improve from 60 minutes to 30 minutes. Seventy-nine trips per week between Ballard and Northgate and 109 trips between Northgate and the U-District will be added.

“Unfortunately, due to reduced sales-tax revenue for transit, Metro also had to eliminate some trips on designated routes,” Thielke writes, “These trip reductions were chosen to minimize the disruption for bus riders whenever possible.”

All service changes can be found here. The changes will begin this Saturday, October 2nd.

Mayor releases proposed 2011 budget

Update 12:45: In today’s 2011 City of Seattle Budget Address, Mayor Mike McGinn has spelled out the finance proposal for next year.

Under the proposal, the Ballard Community Center will run on reduced operating hours. The Mayor’s plan calls for drop-in hours to be reduced from 53 hours per week during the school year and 46 hours per week in the summer to 15 to 20 hours per week year round.

The proposal also calls for the Sound View wading pool to be open three days a week again next summer, similar to 2010. The Gilman wading pool will be closed again next year, under the proposal.

Seven of the 13 Neighborhood Service Centers will be closed if the Mayor’s budget is approved. The Ballard NSC will be one of the six to remain open.

The City Council will spend the next two months reviewing the Mayor’s proposed budget. There will be three meetings for the public to voice their thoughts and concerns. The first meeting will be this Wednesday, September 29th, at the Northgate Community Center Gym (10510 5th Ave NE). If you’d like to speak, sign-in is at 5 p.m. The meeting begins at 5:30.

By Washington State law, the council must adopt a balanced budget no later than Dec. 2nd.

To see more of Mayor McGinn’s proposed budget, click here.

Feedback sought for landscaping at Ballard Locks

Most of the property that the Corps of Engineers manages at the Locks and nearby Ship Canal is on the National Historic Registry. The property on the south side of the Locks near the fish ladder is not.

The Corps is in the very initial phases of determining how to manage the property from here on out and possibly how to get it on the National Historic Registry, according to Andrea Takash, Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

From the Army Corps of Engineers’ website:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District is seeking public comments regarding a draft report on an evaluation and management proposal for the Corps’ property on the south side of the Locks near the fish ladder.

The South Entry Landscape report is available on line for review. Please click here. The Corps is accepting comments on the document through Oct. 15. Comments may be sent to and should reference the “South Entry Draft Evaluation and Management Proposal Plan” in the subject line.

You can read the report here (.pdf). There is a public open house tomorrow evening, Tuesday, September 28th, to provide information about the report and answer questions related to proposals. The open house will be held between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at the Chittenden Locks Visitor Center. The public is invited to drop in anytime to meet with Corps of Engineers staff.

Mayor hosts walking tour of Crown Hill

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn rode up on his bicycle to join a small group of community leaders in a walking tour of Crown Hill on Saturday afternoon. The mayor takes several walking tours of Seattle neighborhoods each year, but this one was a short commute — McGinn lives nearby in Greenwood.

During the walking tour, the mayor heard concerns about a lack of sidewalks, traffic on Holman Road and drug dealing at Baker Park, among other things.

The first stop was the playground at the old Crown Hill Elementary School at 13th Ave. and Holman Road, which will soon become Crown Hill Park. Community leaders from Crown Hill Neighborhood Association and Crown Hill Business Association expressed concerns about safe access to the park. Construction is slated to begin next year.

The group paused along the pedestrian overpass over Holman Road. “Although it’s a very important transportation asset, it’s dangerous to drive on and dangerous to cross,” said Ryan McFarland, the president of the CHNA. As if on cue, the mayor watched as a bicyclist perilously weaved through traffic (above). McFarland suggested that adding a planted median along the street “could make the turn lanes more clear, provide islands for pedestrians and dramatically improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”

Since Holman road isn’t due for repaving anytime soon, the mayor said it boils down to funding in a difficult economic time. He said he plans to propose a “significant increase” in the commercial parking tax — above and beyond the city council’s proposed increase — to pay for transportation projects like these. “Help me out here guys, when we go in front of council,” he said, adding that he’s asked SDOT to look at different solutions for different neighborhoods.

The mayor also heard about the lack of sidewalks on many Crown Hill streets. Earlier this year, community members applied for a Bridging the Gap grant for sidewalks in the area that spans NW 85th to NW 90th between 15th Ave NW and 20th Ave NW. But due to a lack of funding, the proposed project was slimmed down considerably. “Tell the council to approve my proposed tax increases for pedestrian improvements,” the mayor said.

The next stop was Baker Park along 14th Ave. between 85th and 83rd Streets. Catherine Weatbrook, with the Crown Hill Business Association, told the mayor that neighbors often complain about drinking and vagrancy. “You’re very lucky you’re here after all the rain in September because the smell has substantially decreased, because there are no bathrooms,” she said. “There are fairly active drug deals that happen along that street (pointing to Mary Ave.)”

“It’s just the activation and usage,” the mayor said after hearing the park is not popular. “Have you looked at — I’m just going to toss out an idea — a pea patch? It would get people here every day.” He said pea patches have worked elsewhere, even if they’re just a secondary component of the park. With Crown Hill Park opening soon nearby, “maybe that’s a viable thing,” Weatbrook said.

A neighbor raised concerns about drug deals a couple blocks away, at 15th Ave. and 87th St., often behind the Radio Shack building. “I see it happen all the time,” Jon said, adding that police don’t always respond. “We’ve got a lot of people calling about it.”

On 87th and 17th, the mayor was given this photo of flooding in a low area there — a frequent problem. The mayor promised to pass it along to Seattle Public Utilities to find out what’s going on. “We’ll get you a response,” he said. “At least we’ll let you know where we stand.” A staff member accompanying the mayor wrote down questions and complaints raised along the walk.

After the walk, Weatbrook said she felt it went well. “I think we have a lot of commonality in things we’re trying to do,” she said. “We have the hard realities of the budget, the economic situation, so we’ll have to work through it.”

Big crowd attends fire station dedication

The mayor, fire chief and nearly 200 others attended the dedication of a new, state-of-the-art fire station in Crown Hill this afternoon.

The new facility at 15th Ave. and 87th St. replaces the old Fire Station 35, which lacked earthquake reinforcement and was built for horse-drawn engines.

“It took the citizens of Seattle to ensure that your firefighters would be available, that they’d be here if there’s an earthquake,” said Fire Chief Gregory Dean, standing in front of one of the station’s first “horseless” engines from the 1920s. “As you walk around this fire station, you will see the ingenuity to make sure our firefighters are safe,” he said.

Beyond the safety features, the environmentally-friendly LEED “silver” facility is a big upgrade in amenities for firefighters, from a gym and entertainment center to a small outside deck with a BBQ. This is the “beanery,” or kitchen. (For a video tour, see our earlier story on the facility.)

Many families brought their kids to today’s event, and they enjoyed climbing on Engine 35 and taking a tour of the new station. For the time being, only Engine 35 is housed at the station, with a crew of 4 firefighters on a shift.

Artist Kay Kirpatrick was on hand to talk about her creation, called “Rescue,” which marks the entrance to Station 35. It’s an abstracted ladder adorned with a neon crown and the number 35, designed to reflect the neighborhood’s 1950’s architecture. (And it looks pretty cool at night.)

Folks from the Last Resort fire department attended the event, showcasing that old engine from the 1920s. They also showed photos of the earliest engines, including this hose wagon from 1924 just outside the old Station 35.

Today’s dedication comes after Mayor Mike McGinn held a walking tour of the Crown Hill neighborhood with a small group of community leaders.