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.

Medical marijuana dispensaries open in Ballard

Over the past few months, Ballard has become home for two medical marijuana dispensaries: Ballard Herbal Collective and the Seattle Cannabis Co-op.

“People need to feel comfortable here,” explains Stacey K., founder and director of Ballard Herbal Collective, located in a building on NW 56th and 22nd Ave. “My dad has been a longtime patient, and I have seen the benefits of medicinal cannabis.”

Located not too far away on 77th and 15th is the Seattle Cannabis Co-op. “We have been in Ballard for two and a half months and we will probably stay for the next two years. We like this area a lot,” says Jing Mok, key director and president of SCC. “There is less of a social taboo to marijuana amongst the young people.”

Ballard Herbal Collective

In the State of Washington, medical marijuana is already legal, but it seems to be stuck in a gray area. People with authorization from a doctor are able to grow up to 15 plants and hold at least 24 ounces of dry marijuana at a time; or they can dedicate a person to grow and provide for them.  However, under the existing Washington State Medical Marijuana laws, co-ops are not exactly legal, but nothing in the current laws say they cannot be there.

Due to the way the current laws are written, there is not much that the Seattle Police Department can do to shut the dispensaries down. “For us, we know that medical marijuana exists in the city. We are looking at one right now, and ultimately, the reason we are doing it is because of community concern, it’s not a proactive concern,” Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said when I called to ask. “The bottom line for us is that marijuana is a very low priority. Since medical marijuana is legal, dispensaries are not something that we dedicate resources to, that is until they come to our attention in a negative way; via individual, community, or business complaint.”

All of the marijuana dispensaries in Washington must operate as non-profits. When a patient has more than their allotted 24 ounces for 60 days, they will make a donation to one of these centers. The donated marijuana is then sold to people who carry an authorization card, to cover business costs; in Stacey’s case it’s just enough to cover the rent. “We all volunteer,” Stacey tells me. “We are here to help others, not bring in a lot of money.” Despite his intentions, Stacey’s landlord has still not decided whether or not he will allow Ballard Herbal Collective to stay in their current location.

Other tenants in the building do not seem to mind what Stacey does. “We have no concerns,” one tenant says in his office below the dispensary. “As a tenant we would have loved to have been notified before he moved in, but so far no problems.”

Seattle Cannabis Co-op

But one neighbor of Seattle Cannabis Co-op is far from happy. “I smell it every day, it gives me headaches,” says Ann, the owner of Ann’s Hair Salon and Nails. “My customers complain about the smell, and my landlord won’t do anything about it.”

Due to the smell, Ann says a few of her customers have decided to not to come back, which in these economic times have made things extremely difficult. She says she’s also having problem with parking. “I pay for two parking spots, and their customers park in them, even with my signs.”

A firm believer in alternative medicine, Stacey moved to the Ballard area for many of the same reasons as Jing — because of its location. It’s just close enough to downtown, safe, and easy to access from anywhere; especially for those in wheelchairs. “The first location we looked at had stairs and I realized that the group of people I am trying to help can not always do that.” Stacey says. “This is one of the few locations that is wheelchair accessible.”

Both SCC and Ballard Herbal Collective say they’d like to stay in the area. Stacey wants to remain small and focused on serving the Ballard community. He thinks that there are a lot of people in Ballard that could be well served by knowing more about, and even the use of medicinal marijuana.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles has introduced legislation that would establish a regulatory system for the sale and purchase of medical marijuana. “There is much ambiguity around our state’s current medical marijuana laws that is resulting in inconsistent enforcement throughout the state,” she said.

Cafe Reiki to open soon in Ballard

A new organic cafe is getting ready to open at the corner of 17th Ave NW and NW 56th St.

Cafe Reiki coins itself as “Organic Raw living foods Cafe and Community hub for holistic living.” As well as the traditional cafe offerings of juice, espresso, tea and pastries, they will also pre-packaged organic, gluten-free meals (which can be delivered or picked up), community workshops on holistic health and catering and specialty vegan desserts.

Cafe Reiki, which used to be home to Nervous Nellie’s, is scheduled to open next month. (Thanks everyone for the tip!)

Lucky Ballardite wins Ballard shopping spree

Ballardite Kelly Herron is a self-proclaimed lucky girl. “I’m a very lucky person,” she tells us, “In fact, my friends just mentioned a few weeks ago that its been a while since I’ve won anything.”

Herron picking up the gift certificates at Sip & Ship.

Last month, Herron and her friend Jason did the InBallard Merchants Association’s Holidays in Ballard passport promotion. In order to be entered, the duo had to have a certain number of businesses sign off on the passport. Once filled, the passport was turned in for the grand prize drawing – a Ballard shopping/eating/drinking spree.

Herron and Jason spending the gift certificate at Savour.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to Herron and Jason when her name was drawn to receive gift cards from eight different businesses. “My friend Jason and I have had so much fun spending the gift cards at the businesses we loved even before this contest!” Herron says, “I will continue to love living in Ballard for a long, long time to come.”

Dolly Parton night at Conor Byrne

It was all Dolly, all the time at Conor Byrne (5140 Ballard Ave NW) Saturday night. A “sold-out” sign hung on the door to the popular pub. “You couldn’t buy tickets, we are just sold out from people walking in,” Kiley Dumas, an employee at the Pub says. “Tribute Nights always get a lot of people.” It was the third annual tribute night for Dolly Parton. Cost was $10 at the door and all proceeds benefited Seattle’s Left Bank Books Anarchist Book Fair.

The Gloria Darlings playing a cover of “Little Sparrow”

From 9:20 until midnight, nine bands took the stage and performed a wide variety of Dolly Parton music to a full house.

“I love [to play] here in Ballard and at Conor Byrnes.” Rachel Sage a violinist for The Gloria Darlings said after their three song set. Rachel lived in Ballard a few years ago and keeps coming back for shows. She met her band member Pandi at a Bob Dylan Tribute night almost two years ago. They have been playing at Bluegrass and folk festivals as well as at various venues in Ballard since.

According to Kiley Dumas, Conor Byrne hosts three to four tribute nights a year and mainly rely on bands to advertise.  The pub does have a chalkboard of upcoming events hanging on the wall across from the bar. Last month they held a Tom Waits night, which is the biggest one of the year.

The bands featured were: The Dolly Pops, MoZo, Mikey Budd, Strange Jerome, Holler, Randall Walker, The Gloria Darlings, Cheshire Faulkner and Side Saddle.