Daily news blog for Seattle's University District neighborhood

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Ballard High School “Soap for Hope” drive

January 25th, 2016 by sarawilly

Do you have an extra bar of soap at home, or maybe a spare toothbrush? The Soap For Hope drive at Ballard High School is collecting various hygiene items which will be distributed to people facing hardships in Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia communities. They need:
-bars of soap
-bottles of shampoo and conditioner
-razors
-toothbrushes
-toothpaste
-lotion
-lip balm
-rolls of toilet paper
*all items must be unopened
Wednesday Jan. 20th – Friday Jan. 29th
Drop items off at BHS Main Office and Library (1418 NW 65th St)
Questions? Email addison.baker@nullhotmail.com

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UW’s Forefront backs effort to engage gun dealers and pharmacies on suicide prevention

January 25th, 2016 by sarawilly

Story from Deborah Bach, UW News and Information

Patty Yamashita was a vivacious, sweet, high-energy woman who balanced a career as an IT manager with a steadfast dedication to her family. She worked long hours but was always home to put dinner on the table and read a bedtime story for her children.

“My mother was my hero,” said her son, David. “Usually a boy or man would say that their father showed them the way in terms of growing up and how to live and how to conduct yourself in the world, but my mom really showed that to me.”

Patty and David Yamashita Photo courtesy of David Yamashita

But in July 2014, Patty, who had struggled with mental illness for several years, ended her life by overdosing on prescription medication.

“Never in a million years would we have guessed that she would make the decision she did,” said David, 29.

Patti Yamashita was one of 1,111 Washington residents who died by suicide that year. Nearly 70 percent of suicides in the state involve guns, poisonings and drug overdoses, and suicide prevention experts say many of those deaths happen in homes where guns and medications are not safely stored.

Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, based at the University of Washington School of Social Work, is working closely with Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) on new legislation aimed at reducing these tragedies. The bill, which has support from gun owners, would engage firearms dealers and pharmacists to raise awareness about suicide and the need to restrict access to guns and prescription drugs for those at risk of attempting to kill themselves.

House Bill 2793 would:

  • Create a Safe Homes Task Force led by the UW School of Social Work that would develop suicide prevention messages and trainings for gun dealers and owners, pharmacy schools and firearm safety educators
  • Incorporate suicide prevention messaging into firearm safety brochures and safety training
  • Require the state Department of Health to develop a “safe homes partner” certification for firearms dealers and offer tax credits for those who become certified
  • Direct the Department of Fish & Wildlife to update safety brochures to include information about suicide awareness and prevention
  • Test the effectiveness of combining suicide prevention training and distribution of secure storage devices and medication disposal kits in two Washington communities, one rural and one urban, with high suicide rates

Jennifer Stuber, Forefront’s co-founder and faculty director, said the legislation has support from numerous stakeholders, including the Seattle and King County public health department and the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and was developed in close consultation with the National Rifle Association and the Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation. The buy-in from gun owners, she said, makes this legislation unique.

“Gun owners are excited about the bill, and they want to help with suicide prevention,” said Stuber, an associate professor at the UW School of Social Work. “The suicide prevention movement has needed this so desperately. This is a message that’s coming from the very people it needs to come from.”

Nearly 80 percent of firearm deaths in Washington state are suicides. In 2014, 49 percent of suicides in Washington involved firearms, while poisonings from prescription medications and other substances accounted for 19 percent.

“The consequences of suicide are devastating to families and the figures are alarming,” Orwall said in a release, noting that Washington’s suicide rate is 14 percent higher than the national average.

“But it is the nation’s most preventable form of death, and we all have a role in averting it by forming partnerships and working together to raise awareness and limit access to lethal means.”

Forefront co-founder Jennifer Stuber Enrique Garcia photo

Stuber, who lost her husband to firearm suicide in 2011, said the legislation is intended to target people at risk of suicide as well as other gun shop and pharmacy customers.

Customers would see educational messages displayed, and employees would be trained to talk with them about suicide risk and the importance of securely storing guns and prescription drugs.

“People think that the big risk of storing firearms safely is about someone breaking into your house and using them to commit crimes,” she said.

“But the very real risk is within your own home. If you’ve got kids in your home, if you’ve got someone who’s depressed in your home, if you’ve got someone who’s depressed visiting your home — those are the kinds of risks that people aren’t aware of.”

The bill, whose companion bill is sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, is scheduled to go before the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 26. Forefront has helped support the passage of five other suicide prevention bills in the past four years that require training for mental health workers, doctors and nurses, and require middle and high schools to implement screening, training and suicide response plans.

Forefront volunteers will be speaking about the legislation at its third annual suicide prevention education day in Olympia on Jan. 25. More than 50 supporters, most of whom have been directly impacted by suicide, are expected to attend. The group will hold a ceremony on the front lawn of the state legislative building at 10:30 a.m. that will feature a temporary memorial with 1,111 mini tombstones representing the Washington residents who died by suicide in 2014.

Patty Yamashita, who loved animals and was a skilled cook and baker, grew up in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. Despite attending community college for just a few semesters, she built a successful career in the tech industry, working for companies including Nintendo and T-Mobile. She juggled work and family with seeming ease, but was an alcoholic who managed to hide her drinking from her family.

In 2009, Patty underwent treatment for alcoholism, and shortly afterward was laid off. Over the next three years, as she applied for job after job, her mental health began to unravel, David said. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression and became increasingly unstable. She was having trouble managing her medications — forgetting them one day, taking a double dosage the next — so David and his father kept them locked up, carefully dispensing her daily dosages.

In early July 2014, David took his mother to a pharmacy to refill her prescriptions, then dropped her off and went golfing. He forgot to lock up her medications, not fully realizing the desperate state his mother was in. By the next morning, Patty lay in a hospital bed, unconscious. She died a day later with her family by her side.

David has been working with Forefront for a year and believes the proposed legislation could save lives by increasing awareness and facilitating conversation about mental illness and suicide.

“I think the stigma around suicide obscures the fact that recovery from mental illness does happen,” he said. “I wish my mom would have lived to know that.”

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Neighbor Appreciation Day Saturday, February 13

January 19th, 2016 by sarawilly

Celebrate Seattle’s annual Neighbor Appreciation Day, a special day set aside to reach out to neighbors, create new friends, and express thanks to those who help make your neighborhood a great place to live. Residents, community groups, and businesses across Seattle will join together on Saturday, February 13 (and the week of) to celebrate.

A few ways to celebrate Neighbor Appreciation Day:

  • Plan an activity for your neighborhood such as a block party, potluck, or work party. Our website provides ideas, tools, resources, and templates to help you organize an activity. If the event is open to the public, you can post it to our events calendar.
  • Attend one of the many community activities listed on the events calendar. Many Seattle Fire stations along with pools, community centers, and neighborhoods are hosting celebrations and work parties.
  • Take your neighbor to a FREE Seattle University Redhawks basketball game. Visit this link and use Promo Code “NEIGHBORDAY” to receive tickets. For questions call 206-398-4678.
  • Share a “great neighbor” story or tell us how you are celebrating using #neighborday. Post it to our Facebook page.

Join Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and thousands of community members in celebration of what makes Seattle great – our neighbors! Click here for more information or contact Wendy Watson at wendy.watson@seattle.gov.

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Extended lane closures start in two weeks along SR 99/Aurora Avenue North

January 4th, 2016 by sarawilly

A one-mile stretch of road will narrow to two lanes during peak commutes.

Drivers and commuters should plan ahead for construction work that will reduce both directions of State Route 99/Aurora Avenue North by one lane between the Aurora Bridge and just north of Mercer Street. The median lanes in each direction will close for four to five weeks starting Monday evening, Jan. 18.

Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation need access to the median lanes to build four large sign foundations for the future SR 99 tunnel. This work was originally scheduled for spring 2015 but changed to January 2016 to lessen the traffic disruption. Winter months typically see lower traffic volumes.

“These signs require sturdy, concrete-encased pedestals along with communication lines, power lines and traffic sensors, which is why the construction work in the median will take at least four weeks,” said David Sowers, deputy administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program. “We understand this will inconvenience drivers and commuters, and we are working closely with King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation to minimize traffic impacts as much as possible.”

During the first phase of this two-phase project, when the median lanes are closed, the southbound bus-only lane will open to all traffic. Drivers should use caution since buses will travel – and stop – in the lane with other vehicle traffic.

Closure details:

Jan. 18 through mid-February
• Median lanes close in both directions between the Aurora Bridge and Highland Drive, north of Mercer Street
• An additional lane will close at night and during several weekends including Jan. 23-24

Mid-February through early March
• Median lanes reopen. Northbound traffic returns to normal pattern
• The southbound curb lane near Comstock Street will close for approximately three weeks
• An additional southbound lane may close at night

WSDOT encourages drivers and bus riders to plan ahead as additional congestion is expected on Aurora Avenue North. Consider alternative travel modes such as ride-sharing or carpooling, or traveling in off-peak times. Keep informed by using King County Metro’s rider alerts or trip planning tools as well as WSDOT’s travel tools and SDOT’s travelers information page.

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Mural hunting

December 29th, 2015 by sarawilly

photo from http://seattlemurals.org

Send us your favorites!

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Seattle’s first cat cafe open

December 23rd, 2015 by sarawilly

Cat lovers rejoice-Seattle Meowtropolitan is finally open!

As we reported last month, Three students from UW have opened Seattle Meowtropolitan in Wallingford. Matt, Louisa and Andrew say they wanted to create a café and community hangout for people and kitties:

“We want you to come hang out during lunch, after work, or on a rainy weekend. Seattle Meowtropolitan will be a place for people to feel comfortable and enjoy the company…our space will be comfortable for cats and humans, so come on in and play with our cats. Feel free to adopt one on the way out, too.”

The coffee room is open to everyone, but reservations are required to visit the cat lounge. In order to avoid stressing out the kitties, they currently have a limit of 10 people at a time. If a day is no longer available, then there are also no spots for walk-ins. They typically allow reservations two weeks in advance.

There are windows for all to peek at the cats at play. Let us know if you check it out! Click here for more information.

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Man killed in shootout with police following carjacking, chase

December 6th, 2015 by sarawilly

Written by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee on December 6, 2015 4:24 pm

One man was killed in a shootout with police Sunday after he stole two vehicles at gunpoint in separate incidents in Belltown and Montlake and fired at officers while leading them on a chase through northeast Seattle.

Today’s incident began around 12:30 PM when the suspect entered a downtown coffee shop armed with a handgun, leading employees to call police.

The man then fled to a tattoo parlor at 2nd Avenue and Lenora Street leading to another 911 call. After leaving the shop, the suspect reportedly stole a red Volkswagen at gunpoint and drove to the Montlake area.  There, the armed suspect reportedly stole a second vehicle.

Officers began pursuing the suspect in Montlake, where they reported coming under fire from the fleeing suspect.

The man then drove onto westbound 520 and northbound onto Interstate 5 before exiting in the Ravenna neighborhood.

The suspect fired at officers at Northeast 68th Street and 35th Avenue NE. Officers returned fire, fatally wounding the man. He is believed to be a white male in his 30s.

The Seattle Police Department’s Force Investigation Team is reviewing the entirety of the incident. As many as 11 officers are currently believed to have exchanged gunfire with the suspect at two separate locations during today’s pursuit. All officers involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.

Several officers and uninvolved motorists were treated for non-life-threatening injuries sustained in collisions during the incident.

At this time, police are not looking for any additional suspects in the case.

The incident remains under investigation and information contained in this post is subject to change

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Metro says: “Huge” diesel spill

December 5th, 2015 by sarawilly

Sources inside Metro say the bus system and the Spill Response Unit  are attempting to locate a bus leaking a major amount of fuel from Magnolia to the University District. They say, chances are it’s either a #31 bus or a training coach, which are out today.


In the Magnolia Village a rainbow of film is attaching itself to rain runoff water heading into street drains. The smell of diesel fumes is palpable from one end of the Village to the other on both sides of West McGraw Street.
No word yet of any success in locating the leaking bus.

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Stay safe this holiday season

December 1st, 2015 by sarawilly

SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston has some tips for how to protect yourself this season. She writes:

Travel light:  take only what you need when you are out.  Leave the heavy purse behind and clean out your wallet of unneeded credit cards, medical cards, etc.

Dress the part:  It feels darker now without our sunny Seattle skies, so make sure you can be seen by motorists.  Are your shoes comfortable enough to allow you to move, kick, run if you had to.  Long billowing scarves, umbrellas, certain kinds of hats can reduce the ability to see around you, or might give a mugger something by which to grab you.  Leave the bling behind or under layers of clothing if you’ll be out walking around much.

Cell phones:  “apple picking” is what some are calling the grabbing of iphones and other electronic devices.  You may be asked by a stranger for the time, or if they can borrow your phone. Then boom, in a blink of an eye, they’re off and away with your device.  While cell phones are a helpful safety device, street robbers love them so don’t flash them around.  Be mindful when using them in public places.

“What’s your location?” means being able to relay your location such as house number, business or street names, hundred block; intersections, landmarks, or mile markers.  Make it a habit to know your location!  This is key when making calls to 9-1-1.  Seconds matter in emergencies, help us get to you or the incident quicker.  Stay on the line with the call taker until instructed to hang up.

If you will be out of town, please let your trusted neighbors know.  Encourage them to keep an extra watch out for your home and let them know you want them to call 9-1-1 if something is suspicious.  Enlist their help with picking up newspapers, checking for oversized mail, packages and those pesky flyers left on doorknobs.  On our block, we pick up each others’ parcels that have been left on a porch for safekeeping. You want to make your home look occupied (lights and radio on timers; have someone park in your driveway, bring in your garbage can/recycling bins, etc.)  Getting a house sitter can be helpful.  Watchful neighbors truly are your best alarm!

Car prowls:  Thieves target all makes and models of vehicles looking for GPS devices; cellular phones; cameras; purses; garbage remotes; jackets.  I know some parents who keep their kids’ holiday gifts in the trunk.  Not good!  Also, I’ve read a few police reports where people pack up their car the night before heading out on a trip, only to find the car was prowled over night.  Leave your car empty; disable internal trunk releases and be consistent with any theft-deterrent device like the “club” or audible alarm.

Warming up the car:  Vehicles left running and unattended while the heater and defroster kick in may be just the opportunity the auto thief needed.

…Trust your intuitions and watch out for each other. Stay safe and warm!

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Celebrate International Games day at the Seattle Public Library

November 18th, 2015 by sarawilly

Celebrate International Games Day by dropping in to play board games or video games at six locations of The Seattle Public Library. Most locations will host an event on Saturday, Nov. 21 – the official date for International Games Day:

Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W., 206-684-4089.

  • Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 – Children, teens and adults are invited to drop in and play an array of classic and new board games. Games will include Blokus, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Jenga, Scrabble and more.

Fremont Branch, 731 N. 35th St., 206-684-4084.

  • 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 – Teens and adults are invited to drop in and play Netrunner, a collectible card game that combines bluffing and strategy with a cyberpunk theme. Players can use the Library’s core Netrunner decks, or bring their own. Board games will also be available for children.

Magnolia Branch, 2801 34th Ave. W., 206-386-4225.

  • Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 – Children, teens and adults are invited to drop in and play classic board games. Games will include Scrabble, Battleship, Jenga, Clue and more.

Northeast Branch, 6801 35th Ave. N.E., 206-684-7539.

  • 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 – Teens are invited to drop in and play board and video games. Board games will include Exploding Kittens, Apples to Apples, Balderdash, Fluxx, Munchkin, Pictionary, Twister and Zombie Dice. Video games for the Wii and Xbox 360 will include Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Dance Central and Kinect Sports.

Queen Anne Branch, 400 W. Garfield St., 206-386-4227.

  • 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 – Children, teens and adults are invited to drop in and play classic and new board and card games. Games will include Munchkin Treasure Hunt, Chinese checkers, chess, Sorry, Clue, Uno and more.

Library events are free and open to the public. No registration is required. Free parking is available at the branches.

For more information, call the Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask A Librarian.

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