Archive for July 2013

Derek Kilmer Telephone Town Hall July 31, 2013

Dead whale washes ashore near Grayland

GRAYLAND, Wash. – The body of a gray whale washed up on the beach in Grayland on Monday, you can visit it’s 40 foot skeleton at the Westport Aquarium later this summer. Store owner Marc Myrsell tells us they assisted crews from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Cascadia Research Center with the necropsy on Tuesday, and will begin stripping the whale to it’s skeletal frame today. He plans to put the skeleton on display in his aquarium once it’s been prepared.

The dead gray whale washed up Monday on the beach at Grayland, just south of Westport on the Washington coast.

The state Fish and Wildlife Department and Cascadia Research took tissue samples Tuesday to investigate what may have caused the whale to die. A few gray whales wash up on state beaches each year.

Myrsell said NOAA has approved the acquisition, and the Parks department was gracious that they wanted to remove it for them. However the clock is ticking, they have three days to help move the body parts to a piece of nearby property, where it can be prepared. The property is about 1000 feet away and the private landowner is donating the use of it to the Aquarium, pursuant to  preparing the skeleton.
Courtesy Westport AquariumCourtesy Westport Aquarium

Aberdeen home burgled last week, burned this week

ABERDEEN, Wash. – No one was home this morning while firemen walked through a house in the 2100 block of Cherry street in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Fire Department Captain Sam Baretich said their part was easy “We had a 1 1/2 story wood-framed residential dwelling with light smoke and flames showing from one side. [We] made entry, put it out.”
Flames were visible from a downstairs window when first responders got to the scene just after 3 this morning. Adding insult to non-injury, this house was also the victim of a recent burglary. Aberdeen police confirm the home was broken into last Thursday, the residents are away on vacation.

Ecology to test oil spill readiness in Strait of Juan de Fuca

MSRC will deploy oil-skimming vessels, response boats and oil barrier booms during the exercise. Local commercial fishing vessels and crews also will be safely integrated into the response as appropriate.  

The drill is designed to test several geographic-based response plans designed to help reduce environmental damage if spill were to occur. This includes setting out boom to help prevent oil from entering the Waatch River.

Since state law requires companies have the capability to extend the hours of oil cleanup operations in darkness and poor visibility, MSRC will also deploy special tracking devices in the vicinity of the spill to help determine how and where the oil is located when visibility is low.
  
Washington law mandates that all oil tankers and oil barges, large commercial vessels, oil refineries, liquid fuel pipelines and oil-handling facilities that transfer high volumes of oil over water have spill readiness – or contingency – plans to operate in state waters. Oil spill contingency plans help ensure companies are prepared to respond if they have a spill.

Since Harley Marine, Alaska Tanker Co., BP Shipping, ConocoPhillips Polar Tankers, and SeaRiver Maritime all regularly transport and transfer large volumes of oil over state waters, Ecology requires the companies to have spill contingency plans for their operations.

By participating in the drill, the five companies will fulfill part of Washington’s oil-spill preparedness requirements.

Bill Simpson Aberdeen Mayor Part 2

Bill Simpson Aberdeen Mayor Part 1

Grays Harbor College breaks ground on Gene Schermer Instructional Building

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Grays Harbor College broke ground on their newest building yesterday. President Ed Brewster introduced the building’s namesake “Gene Schermer has worked for, and with, the college now over 30 years. We are proud to have named this building after Dr. Gene Schermer.”
Dr. Schermer himself was a little surprised when he learned that the 70-thousand square foot building would be named after him “More than a little bit surprised, I never anticipated that at all. I was just overwhelmed, and very humbled, by that.”
Construction begins with demolition of the 400 building, and once complete, The $41.5-million Gene Schermer Instructional Building will be visible from the highway, it should be open for class by September of 2015. 

Brewster said it was kismit that they were able to get construction funded by state legislature this year, after they cut 11% of the building’s funding, the engineers came back with an estimate that was 11% less than the 44-million expected.

GH College New Building

New CampusThe 70-thousand square foot building will cost around $41.5-million, and should be open by September of 2015.

QIN: Advising the new White House Council on Native American Affairs

According to President Sharp, the economic disaster of the last five and-a-half years has profoundly undermined many tribal businesses across the country, and the sequestration of federal funding resulting from the federal Budget Control Act will result in an economic disaster among many tribes, creating profound desperation in Indian Country in 2014 and 2015.

The White House Council should meet with each tribal government in the country. The purpose of these meetings would be to establish a dialogue with each tribal government to resolve the “disconnect and disparity between federal efforts to meet the needs of Indian Country and the actual on-the-ground needs.”

The Quinault government further urged formulation of federal agency policies based on “understanding current population characteristics, population growth data and the tribal economic environment.” President Sharp specifically urged the White House Council to share census and economic findings with each tribal government to ensure that tribal officials receive information to ensure their “free, prior and informed consent” to decisions that are made.

President Sharp specifically urged establishing funding levels on the basis of “qualified and quantified actual need” through a process of interagency cooperation, intergovernmental cooperation between tribal, state and federal governments, incentives to encourage public-private partnerships and expansion of tribal self-determination. The White House Council should document and assess “tribal government and community needs in terms of types of community needs quantified in terms of financial requirements for the next year and for the next three years,” said Sharp.

To strengthen the government-to-government relationship the Quinault statement to the White House Council called for the designation of representatives from the Department of State, Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce joined by President Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs and Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs to enter into a dialogue with a Tribal Government Contact Group to discuss and negotiate a “framework for intergovernmental relations between tribal and federal governments.” The White House Council was also urged to recommend to President Obama the designation of a Special Counsel with the “authority of the President” to negotiate settlement of intergovernmental disputes between Indian nations and the United States government.

Clearly, my government welcomes the opportunity to offer concrete comments and recommendations to the White House Council on Native American Affairs as we enter another milestone in President Barack Obama’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Tribal Nations, said Sharp.

The new White House Council was established in a June 26, 2013 executive order by President Obama to improve coordination of federal programs and the use of resources available to tribal communities. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and is comprised of the heads of numerous federal executive departments and agencies. The council conducted a nationwide conference call Tuesday to help determine its mission and future activities, intended to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and facilitate the efficient delivery of government services.

If this new White House Council follows the right path, gets out of Washington D.C., works with the tribal nations on a true government-to-government basis and follows through on the need to work with us to find true solutions to our economic crises, we can and will make progress toward a better tomorrow,” said Sharp.

Repair costs, and revised schedule for SR 520 pontoons announced

For the first change order, WSDOT will pay $48.8 million to floating bridge contractor Kiewit/General/Manson, A Joint Venture, to complete Cycle 1 pontoon crack repairs. These repairs for Cycle 1 have been underway since June to help keep overall bridge construction moving.

 

The repair procedure will address cracks that developed in the keel slabs and end walls on four of the first six pontoons built in Aberdeen. The repairs include the following:

  • Leasing and towing pontoons to drydock facilities in Portland and Seattle.
  • Building a coffer cell in Tacoma and towing it to Seattle for repairs on the other two pontoons.
  • Implementing repair procedures on all four pontoons: epoxy injections, transverse post-tensioning, and the application of carbon-fiber wrap.

 

For the second change order, WSDOT will pay $22.4 million to pontoon construction contractor Kiewit-General to add transverse post-tensioning to four pontoons while they were in the casting basin in Aberdeen. The work was completed prior to float-out in April. Both costs will be paid from the SR 520 risk reserve developed to address unforeseen project issues as part of the $2.7 billion SR 520 program budget. With these charges paid, the current risk reserve is now $100 million.

 

With the two change orders complete, the new floating bridge is now estimated to open to traffic in late 2015 or early 2016. The final date will be determined as part of the schedule negotiated with contractors.

 

Additional change orders to be finalized later this year include:

  • Adding transverse post-tensioning to the pontoons built in cycles 3–6. These cycles will be built using the revised design.
  • Schedule effects to the pontoon construction project and the floating bridge and landings project with their respective contractors.

 

The current bridge, which will be 50 years old in August, is vulnerable to earthquakes and windstorms and must be replaced. Construction on the replacement began in April 2012, and pontoon construction is underway at two casting basins: one in Aberdeen and one in Tacoma. Eight pontoons recently floated out of the Tacoma casting basin. With the recent Tacoma float-out, 32 of the 77 pontoons needed to replace the bridge are complete.

 

More information about the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program is available at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr520bridge

County Auditor Vern Spatz diagnosed with cancer

MONTESANO, Wash. - Grays Harbor County’s Auditor Vern Spatz will be taking some time off in the coming months, as he begins his fight with cancer. “So he’s going to go into a treatment program, 7 weeks of Chemo, 7 weeks of radiation,” County Commissioner Frank Gordon gave an update at their regular meeting on Monday.

Gordon said they’d been in a run of bad luck with some of their employees recently, Commissioner Herb Welch was again absent from the meeting yesterday, he’s home now, recovering from heart problems found last month.