Archive for December 2009

Hoquiam Farmers Market News

Mike Lytle will be bringing in more fresh crab Tuesday morning in addition to more of the best oysters anywhere.  Grays Harbor oysters live in such wonderfully clean waters, unlike oysters from Hood Canal or Puget Sound.  The difference is so abundantly clear once you taste one of Lytle’s oysters that you’ll never want any other oyster but his!  He won’t be able to provide razor clams this week, but- starting on Thursday you can get your own!  Clamheads rejoice!  A 4 day dig is set, and the weather forecast doesn’t look too bad.  Remember last year when we had a blizzard on the beach while clamming?   What’s a little rain in comparison!  I have always prided myself on using a shovel and have been rather unkind in my thoughts about those who use the cylinder 
 ‘Clam Guns’, but frozen fingers combined with the generosity of dear friends has lead me to this; my first ever dig with a clam gun.  I’ll let you know how it goes.
 
Nancy has discounted all of the bakery goodies from last week and swears that she never wants to see another cookie again.  Don’t worry, she’ll get over it.  Starting Wednesday morning she’ll be back in the kitchen baking!  Cinnamon rolls, pies, whatever she feels like doing.  Maybe not cookies.
 
We all have New Year’s traditions, and the Hoquiam Farmers Market has many of its’ own.  One of which may be changed for next year, but I can’t upset too many policies in my first year as manager.  The Market will be taking a well-deserved rest during January.  Deidra will still be cooking up her mouth watering lunches, and she is always happy to ring up purchases in the rest of the market too, but, for the most part, we will be closed.  I may not be able to stand it that long, so you might just see the open sign hanging on occasion.  Nancy plans on pampering her feet and sleeping in until 4am, so this is the final week for bakery goods!  
 
The Chickens do not have calendars, and it’s useless trying to train them anyway, so they’ll keep on laying their eggs.  Our egg farmers will continue to bring those lovely fresh eggs in each week, so just come on thru the Deli and get your eggs from the cooler as usual.  
Plus, now that I have Anthony all trained up he will continue to bring his sausages into The Market.  We want to encourage this good behavior, so be sure to stop by for his products!
We have a good supply of Apples and Pears still, but don’t want to fuss Deidra with weighing them up in January, so on Wed. & Thur. The good fruit will be sent home with you for free!  Free is a great price.
 
Because of you, the Grays Harbor Public Market has had a fantastic year.  We hope that we have made your life a little bit healthier, a little bit happier.  You have given us the precious gift of your friendship and trust, and our lives are richer and lovelier for your part in them. We thank you most sincerely for your constant encouragement and support.    I wish that I could hug everyone who has visited us this year and wish you each a blessed New Year in person.  
 
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager (aka ‘slavedriver’) 538-9747
Grays Harbor Public Market at 1958 Riverside in Hoquiam
Open each day thru Dec. 31st!

Best bid, proposal announced for SR 520 floating bridge pontoons

By combining design and construction in one contract at a fixed price, taxpayers are assured that costs are controlled and the contractor team has more opportunities for innovations.

Building these pontoons prepares us to respond to a catastrophic failure of the SR 520 floating bridge should it fail in a windstorm or earthquake. Web site.

To all of you following the SR 520 Pontoon Construction Project, we appreciate your interest. We’ll be back in the New Year with more news and progress. Happy Holidays!

SR 520 project links

SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program | I-5 to Medina: Bridge Replacement and HOV Project |
Medina to SR 202: Eastside Transit and HOV Project | Pontoon Construction Project | Lake Washington Congestion Management Project

The pontoon project is estimated to support more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. We look forward to breaking ground in Grays Harbor County late next year, and a new SR 520 bridge is scheduled to open in 2014. For more details about our projects, check out our

Doug McDowell spotted in a snuggy

Commentary from the Left with Gary Murrell

Conservative Comments with Mike Yarmakovich

Feds Double Funding for N.W. Forest Road Repairs

Washington has 22,000 miles of national forest roads. It also has Congressman Norm Dicks, chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommitee in the House. Anderson says Dicks was instrumental in getting the funding increase, which will benefit more than fish and wildlife.

"At the same time, it’s also a real economic boon, because this money is going to translate into jobs for rural communities – probably hundreds of jobs."

Anderson says the crumbling road system is a problem that has taken years to create and will require a long-term commitment and funding to fix.

Two state agencies and about 15 conservation groups have formed a coalition, the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative, to improve watersheds in the Northwest; they’ll be keeping an eye on the progress. The new slate of maintenance and reclamation projects, called "Legacy Roads & Trails Remediation," should get underway by this summer.

EPA Takes First Stab at Curbing Big-Ship Pollution

Sarah Burt is an attorney for Earthjustice, the law firm representing groups that have been trying to get the EPA to make these rules since the mid-1990s. She says the agency could be much tougher.

"The EPA has authority to regulate all ships that come into U.S. ports and waters. And so, EPA could have applied these standards to all ships that emit pollutants, in the United States. And that’s what we have been encouraging EPA to do."

Burt says the new rules aren’t more stringent because the agency doesn’t want to put American shipping companies at a disadvantage, compared to competitors registered in other countries where the pollution standards are lax. The EPA also has already exempted about 400 older steamships from having to comply.

Burt says asthma and other chronic conditions are worse in busy port areas because of the smog created by burning bunker fuel.

"After all the petroleum products have been refined out, it’s the sludge that remains – really heavy, really contaminated stuff. And they’ve been using this for a long time, even though engines of all other classes have been forced to run on distillate fuel or Diesel."

The EPA says it will also limit the production and sale of bunker fuel in the U.S. Burt says the agency is asking the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which serves as the "United Nations" of the shipping industry, to approve the rules. The IMO meets again in March.

Health Care Bill Contains Key Cost-Cutting Provisions Championed By Cantwell

The bill now moves to a conference committee involving House and Senate leaders. Cantwell said she would be working with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to ensure that key cost control measures contained in the Senate bill are included in the final legislation that Congress will send the President.
 
 “This has been a marathon effort, and our work is not yet done,” Cantwell said. “I am confident that our cost control initiatives will remain in the final bill. Medicare reform is critical to Washington state doctors and seniors. The Basic Health Plan for 20 years has provided Washington’s residents with quality health care while saving 30-40 percent on insurance premiums.”
 
The following is a summary of Cantwell’s key reforms included in the bill:
 
·         Basic Plan: Gives all 50 states the option to negotiate directly with health insurers to provide high quality health care coverage at a lower cost. The plan, which would fully fund Washington state’s Basic Health program, directs money to participating states and lets them use their purchasing power to negotiate with private insurance carriers. The annual cost of a typical individual plan would be $4,100. That’s 30 percent less than the $5,850 the same plan would cost in today’s private market.
 
·         Basic Plan, Short-term Fix: The main provisions of the bill, including the Basic Plan, do not take effect until 2014. For that reason, Cantwell authored a provision to provide critical short-term relief for Washington state. The bill allows the state to apply for federal funding that would cover two-thirds of the cost of the state’s Basic Health Plan until 2014. The state would be eligible for grants of up to $180 million per year.
 
·         Medicare reform: Establishes a “value-based index” to reward doctors for providing high quality, efficient, and coordinated care. The measure replaces the current system that rewards practitioners for ordering often redundant or unnecessary tests and procedures, contributing to an estimated $120 billion per year in wasted spending. The value-based index will particularly benefit Washington state patients and providers by ending Medicare’s practice of paying more to high-cost states. 
 
·         Long Term Care: The bill includes $1.1 billion that will help seniors in need of long-term care who prefer to remain in their homes. Home-based care is 70 percent less expensive than nursing home care.
 
·         Primary Care: The bill includes measures to expand the number of medical students pursuing careers as primary care physicians. Primary care doctors can play a significant role in cutting health care costs by skillfully coordinating and overseeing patient care. But these care-givers are underpaid in our current system. The measure expands training capacity for primary care physicians and includes incentives for medical students who opt for a career in primary care.
 
·         Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs):  Serving as the middlemen between health insurance plans, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and pharmacies, PBMs manage most of the prescriptions filled in the United States but are the only unregulated area of the health insurance industry.  Cantwell’s proposal requires reporting by PBMs to ensure that savings from drug price negotiations are passed on to consumers and not contributing more to pharmaceuticals’ bottom lines.
 
 
Senator Cantwell’s floor speech before the final passage of the Senate health care bill can be found here.

Volcano Rescue Team gets BPA snowcat

The Volcano Rescue Team is based in Yacolt, Wash., and is part of North Country Emergency Medical Service, which responds to emergencies across more than 1,000 square miles of southwest Washington, including Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

“We’re often going far into backcountry areas where there is no other way in,” said Tom McDowell, director of North Country EMS. “With a snowcat you can get a large number of people out in the field without our guys having to hike in and without people being exposed to the snow and the cold.”

In some conditions a snowcat could make the difference in saving lives, he said.

BPA used the snowcat to maintain transmission lines and typically sells such used equipment or transfers it to other federal agencies to get the best return for ratepayers. However, the agency determined in this case that donating the snowcat to the Volcano Rescue Team would provide lasting benefit to the region BPA serves.

BPA staff explain snowcat operation

“For a search and rescue agency that’s covering the area around Mount St. Helens, it’s a huge piece of equipment that would be very expensive to acquire on their own,” said Ulrik Larsen, BPA’s property disposal officer. “Our responsibility is to get the best value for ratepayers. In this instance, if even one life is saved, that’s a very large payoff.”

Larsen is a mountain climber himself. “I knew exactly the sort of thing they’re going out there to deal with,” he said.

The snowcat is valued at about $15,000, making it one of BPA’s largest donations in terms of dollar value and the largest in several years. BPA used the four-person 1979 Bombardier snowcat to access remote transmission lines in winter, but is now replacing the vehicle as the agency updates and standardizes its snowcat fleet.

BPA is a not-for-profit federal electric utility that operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  It also markets more than a third of the electricity consumed in the Pacific Northwest. The power is produced at 31 federal dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and one nuclear plant in the Northwest and is sold to more than 140 Northwest utilities.  BPA purchases power from seven wind projects and has more than 2,300 megawatts of wind interconnected to its transmission system. 

WSDOT announces best value proposal for SR 520 floating bridge pontoons

“We appreciate the hard work and excellent proposals submitted by the three firms. Some of the top engineering firms in the world vied to work on the pontoon project,” said Dave Dye, WSDOT Deputy Secretary. “This bid opening is another significant milestone as we work to open a new SR 520 bridge in 2014.”
 
In addition to Kiewit-General, bids also were submitted by Flatiron, Graham, Turner Joint Venture and Skanska, Mowat, Manson Joint Venture.
 
The contractor team will:
  • Design and build a new pontoon construction facility in Grays Harbor County – scheduled to begin in late 2010.
  • Design and construct 33 new floating bridge pontoons.
  • Store pontoons until they are needed for the SR 520 floating bridge.
 
By combining design and construction in one contract at a fixed price, the contractor team has more opportunities for innovations and WSDOT and taxpayers are assured that costs are controlled. A final contract is scheduled to be signed in coming weeks.
 
“This winter’s weather is an important reminder that the SR 520 floating bridge is a vulnerable structure,” said Julie Meredith, WSDOT’s SR 520 Program Director. “Building these pontoons prepares WSDOT and the region to respond to a catastrophic failure of the SR 520 floating bridge.”
 
The pontoon construction project is one project under way to replace the SR 520 floating bridge. The state Legislature has authorized approximately $2 billion out of a $4.65 billion budget using a combination of state and federal funding and future SR 520 toll revenue. Tolling is scheduled to begin in spring 2011 and toll rates will be set by the state Transportation Commission in 2010.
 
Kiewit-General is a world leader in floating bridge construction. The firm is completing the SR 104 Hood Canal repair and replacement project for WSDOT.
 
In August, WSDOT identified the 55-acre Aberdeen Log Yard as the preferred site for the Grays Harbor area pontoon casting facility. Environmental review of the log yard site and the alternate 90-acre Anderson & Middleton site in Hoquiam is scheduled to be completed in 2010. After environmental review is completed and permits obtained, construction of the pontoon casting facility can begin. By the end of 2012, the first wave of the 33 pontoons will be constructed at the facility.
 
More details about the SR 520 program are online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/project/sr520bridge.
Maps, graphics and other details about the SR 520 pontoon construction project are online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr520/pontoons.