Westhaven State Park closed for paving March 23 through April 17, affecting beach access in Westport

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announces that Westhaven State Park will be closed from March 23 through April 17, while crews pave the gravel parking area. Vehicles and pedestrians will not be able to access the beach from the park.

The closure will significantly affect beach access and parking to the Westport Jetty and the beach directly south of the jetty. This area is very popular with surfers and with jetty fishermen this time of year. As an alternative, visitors may park or drive on to the beach about 1 mile south at Westport Light State Park. (View a map of the area: http://j.mp/1NT3iOn) Additional parking also is available at Half Moon Bay parking lot along Jetty Way Road near the Coast Guard tower.

Also closed during this time will be the section of the Westport Light Trail that runs through Westhaven State Park. There are no detours around the park. The remainder of the trail remains open.

Each year, from April 15 to the day after Labor Day, the beach closes to vehicle use from north of Schafer Road at Twin Harbors State Park to Westport. This is to accommodate the increased non-motorized and pedestrian traffic in the spring and summer seasons. Driving is always prohibited on the section of beach that runs through Westhaven State Park.

For more information about the temporary closure, contact park staff at 360-267-4301. For more information about Westhaven State Park, visit: www.parks.wa.gov/285/Westhaven

About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

Follow Washington State Parks:

Share your favorite state park adventure on the State Parks’ blog site atwww.AdventureAwaits.com.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visitwww.discoverpass.wa.gov.

Shelton Police find over $10,000 in drugs during car search

Shelton Police searching a vehicle found methamphetamine worth over $10-thousand last week.

The Department reports an officer was following up on a tip regarding narcotics sales in the 1900 blk. of First St. looking for the suspicious vehicle. The officer saw the vehicle that had been described by the “tipster” parked in front of a home on First St. The owner of the vehicle saw the officer and immediately got out of the parked car and went in to a nearby home to avoid contact, leaving the vehicle illegally parked. At that point the officer had no probable cause to chase the suspect into the home.

The officer then called for the assistance of Shelton Police K9- Lilly. K-9 Lilly was able to detect the presence of narcotics in the vehicle and based upon that, the officers were able to obtain a search warrant. During a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers’ located a large amount of methamphetamine, with an estimated value of over $10,000. A variety of other narcotics was also located, this included prescription pills, cocaine, and marijuana.
Unfortunately the suspect had fled the area before the officer could get assistance securing the car and the house that the suspect had fled to. However the suspect was identified as 42 yr. old Michael Darnell of Shelton, anyone with information regarding Michael Darnell is encouraged to contact the Shelton Police Department.

Governor Inslee declares drought for three Washington regions

Snowpack conditions across Washington state mountains are near record low levels, prompting Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a drought emergency forthree key regions.

Watersheds on the Olympic Peninsula, east side of the central Cascade Mountains including Yakima and Wenatchee, and Walla Walla region will be hit hardest with drought conditions.

Snowpack is a mere 7 percent of normal in the Olympic Mountains. It ranges from 8 to 45 percent of normal across the Cascades, and is 67 percent of normal in the Walla Walla region.

“We can’t wait any longer, we have to prepare now for drought conditions that are in store for much of the state,” said Inslee. “Snowpack is at record lows, and we have farms, vital agricultural regions, communities and fish that are going to need our support.”

An unusually warm winter has caused much of the precipitation to fall as rain, leaving mountain snowpack a fraction of normal. And a healthy snowpack is what would slowly feed rivers across the state and sustains farms and fish through the drier summer months.

“We’ve been monitoring the snow conditions for months now, hoping for a late-season recovery,” said Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “Now we’re gearing up to help provide relief wherever we can when the time comes. Hardships are on the horizon, and we’re going to be ready.”

Short and long-range weather forecasts are not expected to bring relief, calling for warmer and drier weather.

With snowpack statewide averaging 27 percent of normal, 34 of the state’s 62 watersheds are expected to receive less than 75 percent of their normal water supplies.

Ecology has requested $9 million in drought relief from the legislature. The money would pay for agricultural and fisheries projects, emergency water-right permits, changes to existing water rights, and grant water-right transfers.

For now, water suppliers in the Seattle, Tacoma and Everett areas are in decent shape and are not projecting much hardship.

To track snow and watershed totals, Ecology is posting daily updates to its drought website – www.ecy.wa.gov/drought, and providing routine updates on Facebook and Twitter – search @ecologywa or #wadrought.

FAA, WSDOT seek feedback on proposed Unmanned Aircraft Systems requirements

The public has two chances to comment on proposed safety requirements for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations in the nation’s airspace.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is accepting feedback directly, but the Washington State Department of Transportation also welcomes public comments to help shape its agency response.

The proposed requirements address non-recreation UAS operations, including:

  • Crop monitoring/inspection
  • Research and development
  • Educational/academic uses
  • Power-line/pipeline inspection in hilly or mountainous terrain
  • Antenna inspections
  • Aiding certain rescue operations such as locating snow avalanche victims
  • Bridge inspections
  • Aerial photography
  • Wildlife nesting area evaluations

 

The FAA also proposes changes to its regulations (known as14 CFR) to clarify UAS categories, hours of operations, registration, certification and other requirements.

 

Please submit feedback to WSDOT by Monday, April 13. Email comments to Rob Hodgman, WSDOT Aviation senior planner at Hodgmar@wsdot.wa.gov.

 

Comments are due to the FAA by April 24.

 

Learn more about the proposed UAS requirements and how to submit comments to the FAA.

State employee contract negotiations to remain secret

This Sunday (March 15) is the beginning of National Sunshine Week. The motto for this national celebration of government transparency is “Open government is good government.” Based on the untimely death of SB 5329 (Requiring public employee collective bargaining sessions to be open meetings) this week in the Senate, however, state employee contract negotiations will continue to be conducted under a total eclipse of secrecy with the public kept in the dark.

Under SB 5329, public employee negotiations would have been subject to the state’s open public meetings law, so that the public, media and lawmakers could see what tradeoffs and promises are being proposed before final agreements are reached. This is similar to the transparent process used in several other states when deciding the compensation of government employees and the amount of tax dollars required to fund the agreements.

Although this open government reform had been placed on the Senate floor, it was not voted on before yesterday’s 5 p.m. cutoff. This means the bill is technically dead for this session.

This does not mean, however, the Legislature can’t act this session to provide more transparency for these negotiations.

The Legislature still must decide whether to approve the secretly negotiated contracts agreed to by Governor Inslee last summer. This decision is most definitely considered Necessary to Implement the Budget (NTIB) which means a bill could be introduced on the topic of approving the contracts. Depending on the bill title, such a discussion could also address whether future negotiations should occur in a more transparent way.

While the policy proposed by SB 5329 did not receive approval, perhaps a variation could still win legislative support this session. One potential idea would be to require a process similar to what the City of Costa Mesa in California uses to keep the public informed called COIN (Civic Openness in Negotiations).

Under this type of system all of the proposals and documents that are to be discussed in closed-door secret negotiation must be made publicly available before and after the meetings with fiscal analysis provided showing the costs.

While not full-fledged open meetings as proposed by SB 5329, providing access to all of the documents before the meetings would better help inform the public about the promises and tradeoffs being proposed with their tax dollars before an agreement is reached. This would also help to keep make clear whether one side is being unreasonable, and would quickly reveal whether anyone is acting in bad faith.

State and local employment contracts should not be negotiated in secret. The public provides the money for these agreements. Taxpayers should be allowed to follow the process and hold government officials accountable for the spending decisions they make on our behalf.

Though the open meetings proposed by SB 5329 may be dead, there is still time for the Legislature to let the sun shine on government employee contract negotiations and end the practice of keeping the public in the dark until it comes time to ask taxpayers to pay for the agreement that was written in secret.

Jason Mercier
Director, Center for Government Reform

Belfair woman attempts to help neighbor, mistaken for attempted abduction

A concerned neighbor helping a child appeared more like an attempted child abduction in Mason County this week. Detective William Adam with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office reports around 3 Tueday afternoon they received a call from staff at the Sand Hill Elementary School in Belfair, that a young girl was approached earlier that day while she was waiting for her school bus. According to the child, a woman stopped and asked if she could provide the girl a ride to school. The school bus then arrived and the woman left.
On Wednesday March 11th, the adult woman came into the Sheriff’s Office in Belfair and said that she was most likely the one that the Sheriff’s Office was looking for. The woman explained that she knows the little girl, and was afraid that she had missed her bus. She said she offered the girl a ride, and left when the school bus showed up.

The school district, the elementary school and the little girl’s family were all notified about the concerned neighbor and that it had not been an attempted child abduction.

Montesano Mayor replies to former councilwoman’s allegations of harrasment

Montesano Mayor Ken Estes has released a statement regarding allegations made by a resigning councilwoman that the city failed to accommodate her hearing disability. “I’m very disappointed and a little bit upset, we received the resignation letter from Marisa Salzer tonight.” Estes told the city council at Tuesday’s meeting “Her letter contained many inaccuracies, and some troubling statements.”

Read the Salzer resignation letter, and Estes Statement on Salzer here.

Continue reading Montesano Mayor replies to former councilwoman’s allegations of harrasment

Aberdeen man arrested after failing to ride stolen motorcycle

An Aberdeen man was arrested after trying to ride a stolen motorcycle in front of police, and failing. Police Captain John Green tells us the bike was reported stolen from Cosmopolis, but that’s not what got officers attention. Officer Bradbury and Officer Sexton noticed him at the intersection of Marion and Mill Street while on patrol March 10th because he was having troubles riding. Green said “when he started to move forward and turn the bike, he started pushing it while sitting on it, he applied some throttle and then fell over as the bike stalled.

The man told the officers it was his first time on a motorcycle and he did not have a motorcycle endorsement, that’s when Police Chief Stratton from neighboring Cosmopolis Police Department notified them that the motorcycle had been reported stolen during a burglary.
The suspect, a 29 year old Aberdeen male, was reportedly wearing motorcycle type clothing, and numerous rings and a necklace. He was also in possession of two Social Security cards in the names of other people.
The victim of the burglary where the motorcycle was stolen reported jewelry stolen.
The suspect was transported to the City of Aberdeen jail and booked for Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Driving while License Suspended in the Third Degree.
The investigation is continuing.

Aberdeen homeowner interrupts burglar, calls police

An Aberdeen homeowner called police yesterday after finding someone in their home that didn’t belong. Aberdeen Police Captain John Green tells us they were called to a home in the 1100 block of East 2nd Street on March 11th at 12:59 A.M. on the report of an interrupted burglary.

Responding officers were informed that the resident was reporting the back door to the house being open and a person inside who was not known to the owner.

The Aberdeen Officers began searching the inside of the home. The officers saw that the back door was now closed and locked.

During the search the officers located a 23 year old Aberdeen male crouching on a landing inside the house. The owner of the home told the officers he did not know the male suspect. The suspect was taken into custody at that time.

Items were located inside the home that the owner told the police did not belong to him and must of been brought there by the suspect.

The suspect was transported to the City of Aberdeen jail and booked on the charges of residential burglary.

The investigation is continuing.

Upcoming razor clam dig shifts from evening to morning tides

State shellfish managers have approved a series of razor clam digs that starts Monday (March 16) on evening tides, then switches to morning tides Saturday (March 21) for four more days of digging.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildwlife (WDFW) approved the digs after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

As spring approaches, the best low tides start occurring in the morning rather than evening, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. The switch from evening to morning digs reflects that seasonal cycle.

“We are happy to be able to provide this opener to coincide with the annual Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival,” Ayres said. “The split schedule also provides an opportunity for back-to-back digs the evening of Friday, March 20, and the morning of Saturday, March 21.”

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

This is the last chance for diggers to use their 2014-15 fishing licenses, which expire March 31, Ayres said. Beginning April 1, a 2015-16 fishing license will be required. A list of proposed upcoming digs is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

The dig is scheduled for the following dates, beaches and low tides:

March 16, Monday, 4:15 p.m.; 0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
March 17, Tuesday, 5:08 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
March 18, Wednesday, 5:57 p.m.; -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
March 19, Thursday, 6:42 p.m.; -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
March 20, Friday, 7:26 p.m.; -0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks

Seasonal switch to morning tides

March 21, Saturday, 7:55 a.m.; -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
March 22, Sunday, 8:42 a.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
March 23, Monday, 9:31 a.m.; -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
March 24, Tuesday, 10:21 a.m.; -0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

WDFW has razor clam recipes as well as advice on digging and cleaning clams on its webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/