Washington Commemorates Worker Memorial Day

People are gathering around the state through this weekend to honor those who have died on the job.

Workers' Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance, held on or near the April 28 date on which Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970.

Several ceremonies will honor 69 people who died in Washington state in 2011 as a result of job-related illnesses or injuries. They include a corrections officer, a firefighter, a salesperson and a construction worker as well as military personnel, and will be remembered for their service to their communities.

James Robinson, president of the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 793 at Lakewood's Western State Hospital, says people come away from these ceremonies with a new resolve to be safer at work.

It gives us all an opportunity to pause and reflect about our jobs and the environments that we work in, and how we can make 'em better. And that's really the focal point of Worker Memorial Day.

Aberdeen Officer Joins WDFW Ranks

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife is about to release some small frys back into the wild. The department introduced five new officers that graduated from the CJTC Basic Law Enforcement Academy on April 6th. Officer Chris Smith of Aberdeen joins Carly Peters of Bellingham, Will Smith of Ephrata, Taylor Kimball of White Salmon, and Casey Wilkinson of Everett attending specialized law enforcement training in Olympia. The new recruits will then join Field Training Officers at the end of the month.

Fishing seasons for halibut reflect higher catch quota

OLYMPIA - This year's recreational halibut seasons will be similar to 2010 in Puget Sound, but may allow for more days of fishing off the coast under new catch quotas adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

This year's quota for Washington, Oregon and California is 910,000 pounds, up 12 percent from 2010. In Washington, sport anglers will be allowed to catch 216,489  pounds of the big flatfish compared to 192,699 pounds last year.

Those increases will improve fishing opportunities in coastal waters of Washington and other West Coast states, said Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

In Puget Sound, where the sport catch has exceeded area harvest guidelines for the past two years, this year's higher sub-quota also helped to avert further cutbacks in fishing opportunities, she said.

"This year's quota, together with shorter seasons adopted last year, will bring the catch more in line with the allowable harvest," Reed said. "We took a big step toward stabilizing the fishery last year, and the higher quota will help to accommodate the growing popularity of halibut fishing in Puget Sound."

This year's catch quota for Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca is 58,155 pounds, up from 50,542 pounds in 2010.  Like last year, most areas of the Sound will be open for halibut fishing three days a week - Thursday, Friday and Saturday - except as noted below.

New Education Resource For Grays Harbor and Pacific County’s Aspiring Teachers Comes Online

Grays Harbor, Wash. — City University of Seattle will offer aspiring teachers in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties a unique opportunity to study locally for their Bachelor of Arts in Education this summer. Students who have earned or are nearly finished with an associate degree may enroll now in program classes on the Grays Harbor College (GHC) campus.

 

“In light of ongoing state budget cuts to higher education, I’m delighted CityU of Seattle’s Albright School of Education (ASOE) will be able to provide an accommodating and affordable solution for students in and around Grays Harbor. This new partnership also will allow students the opportunity to develop their specialty skills in high needs areas,” said CityU President Lee Gorsuch.

Volunteers needed to count bicyclists and pedestrians for annual statewide survey

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Volunteers are needed in communities across the state to help count the number of people who walk or bike to their destinations. The information gathered this fall will be used to track progress toward the state’s goal of increasing bicycling and walking in Washington and reducing the number of vehicle miles driven.

 

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Cascade Bicycle Club are enlisting volunteers and organizations like FeetFirst and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to count the numbers of people bicycling and walking on paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, and other facilities on Oct. 5, 6 and 7.

 

“We are working on ways to reduce the number of miles we drive each year, and counting bicyclists and pedestrians at specific locations can help us more accurately measure demand and the benefits of existing paths and trails,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “The counts also help us identify where future bicycle and pedestrian facilities are needed.”

Ecology Seeking Public Comment on Updates to State Shoreline Rules

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking public comment on a proposal to change five state Shoreline Management Act rules - including new guidance designed to address controversy surrounding commercial geoduck aquaculture in the intertidal, or shallower, areas of Puget Sound.

"The proposed geoduck aquaculture rule simply makes permit processes consistent across all jurisdictions - hopefully creating a fair and equitable playing field for our state's vital shellfish industry and shoreline residents," said Gordon White, Program Manager for Ecology's Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program.

White said the new draft geoduck aquaculture rule is based on a 2007 legislative mandate directing Ecology to provide guidance to local governments on addressing commercial geoduck aquaculture in their shoreline master programs.

BMT Takes on New Welders for New Contract

SATSOP, Wash. - Fifteen to 20 welders are being tested right now at BMT-Northwest to help with a new contract to build a $3.2 million, 10-tank, five-module package for the cementing part of an oil rig located on Spy Island near the tiny village of Nikaitchuq on the Beaufort Sea in Alaska.

The new hires will bring the number of employees at BMT-Northwest to about 82.

This order for M.I. Swaco, which is scheduled to be complete in January, is larger than the one BMT-NW completed last year in October. That one was a 26,400 barrel system that went to Liberty Platform on the North Slope of Alaska. This contract is for a 44,000 barrel system, said Rollie Irwin, vice president of manufacturing for BMT-Northwest.

"Getting this rig package contract is only because of being located at Satsop Development Park," Irwin said. "We have the space and the capacity here to rig this up inside the building as well as the ability to barge it out when we're done."

In April, another large order headed for Alaska was the first to be shipped from the Park's newly renovated industrial barge slip on the Chehalis River.

WA Taxpayers Asked to Sound Off on State Budget

TACOMA, Wash. - Washingtonians are being asked to sound off about the state budget at a series of four hearings beginning tonight in Tacoma. You don't have to be an economist or a labor leader to add your two cents' worth - or, in this case, two minutes's worth - of testimony. Each meeting starts with a one-hour overview of the state budget. In the second hour, citizen comments will be taken.

Marty Brown, director of the governor's Office of Financial Management, says he knows the panel will hear a lot of complaints, but he hopes there are also some good ideas for navigating the budget crisis.

"We're going to get down to some very tough decisions about what to spend taxpayer dollars on and what not to. We need to hear from folks about what they think is important to receive from the state, from the taxpayer's perspective and from some people who receive those services."

Mr. Dizzy to Appear at Grays Harbor Raceway This Weekend

Sideline Auto Wrecking in Aberdeen will present the Northwest’s most electrifying Stuntman, Mr. Dizzy who will make his first ever appearance at Grays Harbor Raceway this Saturday night at the fast 3/8’s ASA Member clay oval located at the Fairgrounds in Elma, Washington. Mr. Dizzy and his partner The Crusher will perform two electrifying stunts, a Car Domino Jump and a Pyramid Car Jump for the first time ever at Grays Harbor Raceway..

There will also be the three top local divisions in competition, the Whitney’s Auto Group 360 Sprint Cars, Shipwreck Beads Modifieds and the Triple X Ford Focus Midgets.

Health of sediments in Commencement Bay improving

OLYMPIA - Sediment samples the state Department of Ecology has collected from the bottom of Puget Sound's Commencement Bay show signs of improved environmental health compared to samples from identical locations nearly 10 years ago.

 

The findings come from a just-released Ecology study, "Urban Waters Initiative, 2008: Sediment Quality in Commencement Bay." The Commencement Bay sediment data collection is a follow-up to a previous Ecology sediment study at the same locations in 1999.

The new study found reduced levels of toxic metals in the sediments such as arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, tin and zinc. It found reductions in cancer-causing chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. The study also found healthier populations of tiny sediment-dwelling life known as benthic invertebrates.