There’s money in old records – literally

For the last 20 years Janet Back’s husband has been fighting Parkinson’s disease. As a classical music lover, he used to buy records to play on his old turn table. Because of the disease, he can’t do that anymore.

“He’s pretty much in late-stage Parkinson’s and can’t walk a lot of the time, and you have trouble understanding him,” Back says with tears in her eyes. They decided recently to move him into an adult home, and because he doesn’t have the dexterity to use the turn table, Janet decided to sell his record collection.

After calling several stores, she discovered that Bop Street Records (2220 NW Market St.) is one of the few shops with a significant classical music section. So she decided to sell them her husband’s collection.

A couple of days after the boxes were dropped off at the store, Janet remembered something – her husband used to stick money in record sleeves.

Voorhees showing where Back’s husband would stash money.

Bob Jacobs and Bop Street owner Dave Voorhees agreed to go through the nearly 1,400 records to look for cash. “When we had only found $200, we called Janet and she was just overjoyed with 200 bucks, so then it became my mission. Let’s find more and more and more!'” Voorhees recalls.

Eleven hours later, after going through each record twice, they had the final tally: $3,553 had been stashed away. “He had the money stuck down in the covers or in some cases inside the paper sleeves,” Voorhees says.

“I didn’t even know how I was going to pay the deductible on my insurance,” Back says of her car that was in the shop. “We just don’t have extra. I mean everything… we’ve just struggled for years.”

A Bop Street employee, Bob Jacobs, Cory Nelson of Viking Bank, Janet Back and Dave Voorhees

“I think the thing that just blew me away was, you know, in this day and age I think that ethics, morals and standards have really started to slip and I think there are a probably a large percentage of people that would’ve found that money and just put it in their pocket and I would’ve never been the wiser,” she said.

Back gave Voorhees and Jacobs a small portion of the money they’d found, even though they tried to talk her out of it. That money will be donated to the Ballard Food Bank in Back’s name.

“I’m sure someday someone will buy one of these albums and find a special little chunk of money,” Back laughs, “And they’ll go ‘Yee haw!'”

Rep. Carlyle assumes vice chair of Higher Education Committee, aims for ‘genuine reform’

Rep. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle’s 36th district began the new legislative session and his second term in Olympia as vice chair of the Higher Education Committee this month.

“What I hope to do is to really bring about some genuine reform in our education system—in K-12 and higher education,” said Carlyle. “I have four young children, and that’s the heart and soul of who I am and why I ran for office.”

Carlyle has worked on the committee during the last two sessions, but this is his first in a leadership position.

The state’s education system is moving in a troubling direction that warrants immediate and profound action, according to Carlyle. He said this area of state government distresses him the most and characterizes the shift of funding from the state to the students as “a disaster waiting to happen.”

“The state is retreating from its obligation to open the doors of access to higher education, and it’s going to become more and more elite and privatized,” Carlyle said. “But there’s many of us giving it all we have fighting tooth and nail to try to educate the public about the value of changing course and really being much more aggressive about allowing everybody to access higher education, not just a small segment of society.”

Photo from Carlyle’s Facebook page.

Carlyle will also serve as a member of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. This is his first time serving on the committee, which is especially critical given the state’s current economic woes.

“Our economy is going through the most extraordinary structural change in generations,” Carlyle said. “This is a time to break down old clichés and old stereotypes about state government and about taxes and services and to really honor the will of the public to rebuild our state.”

From Washington’s House Democrats website:

In the December special session, $588 million of the $1.6 billion budget deficit for the current budget cycle was addressed. How to address the remaining amount is the Ways and Means Committee’s first problem, before moving onto the projected $4.6 billion shortfall in the two-year budget starting in July.

“It’s time we thoughtfully lay out our state’s priorities and do our best to fund them,” Carlyle said. “I’ll be challenging colleagues to start fresh with our budgeting, and put dollars where we can unleash opportunity and the entrepreneurial spirit in our state.”

Also serving on the Ways and Means Committee are Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, both representing the 36th district.

Carlyle will continue to serve on the Technology, Energy and Communications Committee, and hopes to use his voice to bring technological efficiency to the state infrastructure. The current session will run from Jan 10 to April 24.

Bus stop on Leary moved to accommodate food bank

The bus stop at NW Leary and Ione Place has always been in front of the Carter showroom, until recently. Earlier this month, the stop was moved to the other side of the intersection, in front of the new location of the Ballard Food Bank (5130 Leary Ave NW).

Back in October, King County Councilman Larry Phillips took a walking tour of Ballard. On the tour, Ballard Food Bank employees asked for his help in urging the city and Metro traffic to move the stop. It didn’t take much. Nancy McKinney, the executive director of the food bank tells us that the move is a win-win for everyone. “They understood the rationale and got the job done very quickly,” she says. “We felt that it would be easier for our clients to get on and off the bus directly in front of the building. In addition it took some of the traffic away from Carter’s show room.” (Disclosure: Councilmember Phillips is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

Rep. Dickerson wants to legalize marijuana to ease budget shortfall

36th District Representative Mary Lou Dickerson is once again calling on the state legislature to legalize marijuana. House Bill 1550, which was introduced this morning, would legalize the use of cannabis for adults age 21 and over.

Rep. Dickerson says that legalizing marijuana could generate $400 million per biennium for the state. “Subjecting cannabis to a licensed, regulated system would not only improve public health and safety, it would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for health care at a time when Washington’s budget is being decimated,” said Dr. William Robertson, founder of the Washington Poison Control Center.

Under the bill, cannabis would be sold through state liquor stores with growers applying for a license through the Liquor Control Board. The LCB, according to a press release, has a 96 percent success rate in preventing alcohol sales to minors.“Drug cartels and black-market dealers have made it easier for kids to get cannabis than alcohol,” Dickerson said. “The Liquor Control Board has a proven track record of shielding kids from its products. I’m confident our bill will break the back of cannabis crime-syndicate profits and make it possible to preserve vital health services across Washington in these very difficult budget times.”

In 2010, Dickerson submitted a similar bill, HB 2401, which didn’t make it past the Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness.

Local economy looks promising

This time last year people were spending less, the stock market was still at record lows and people around the country were being laid off.  Over the last few months, Ballard businesses say they’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I don’t know if we are in a pocket, where we have been affected differently by the down turn,” Kristie Kisbye, owner of Annie’s Art and Frame on Market St. says, “but we are up two digits from this time last year.”

Some businesses got through the past few years with very careful planning.  “A few years ago we went back to the basics,” Legh Burns, owner of re-soul said, “going by the numbers is what got us through it.” Re-soul had one of the best Decembers ever, a feat that many other local business are happy to share as well.

Down Ballard Ave, new shops are opening up or getting ready to move in. One that is new to Ballard is Dish-It-Up.  With their cooking classes and cabinetry options, owner Andrea Reith is very excited to be in the neighborhood.  “It’s about the time where people are looking to remodel.”

Canto Barcelona

Most of the business owners thank local residents for their sales. “We are doing really well. The support of Ballard and the eastside is very appreciated,” Jimmy Hasson, owner of Canto Barcelona says. Canto Barcelona, a Spanish clothing store, is up 20 percent from last year.

Bionda, an employee at Camelion Design, says that they had an especially good December as well and she has noticed that people are shopping more locally.

With more money in the area, less closing signs are seen on Ballard Way. Damsalfly will be moving into the old Bark Natural Pet store, and a few other stores are being prepared for new owners.

“It feels like it is picking up, emotionally it feels more positive,” Richard Hiner, a local architect says. A few larger projects got his small firm through the past year. Although business is picking up, it won’t be until they have twice as many projects that he will feel like the economy has actually turned around.

Despite the positive numbers, many believe that the economy has a long way to go before it will fully be recovered. Very few businesses are hiring, and most are still having winter closeout sales, but for now the overall feel amongst local business owners seems to be very positive. (Disclosure: Dish it up! is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

5th annual preschool fair on Saturday

If you’re overwhelmed with the thought of finding the right preschool for your child, Mom’s Club of Seattle – NW wants to make your life a little easier. This Saturday is the 5th annual preschool fair at St. Alphonsus Parish School, which is free to the public. Representatives from nearly 40 area preschools will be there from 10 a.m. to noon to answer questions. There will be an unsupervised play area for kids. Here is a list and links to the participating preschools.

MammoVan in Ballard on Tuesday

The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Mobile Mammography van will be in Ballard on Tuesday.
From the SCCA:

Women age 40 and over should have routine screening mammograms for breast cancer. The Women’s Center at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance knows it can be difficult to find the time to schedule an office exam. That’s why we offer Mobile Mammography Service.A convenient way to get the screening you need.

The “MammoVan” will be parked in the Ballard Safeway parking lot (1423 NW Market St.) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome or you can make an appointment at 206-288-7800.