Washington state health exchange ready to launch

SEATTLE (AP) - Officials launching Washington state's new health insurance exchange have said they aren't concerned that computer glitches, bad weather or even debates in Washington, D.C., over a possible government shutdown will stop people from signing up for health insurance when the marketplace debuts on Tuesday.

"We're not really worried about that," said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the Washington state programs involved in President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

They're also not worried about being overwhelmed by consumer phone calls or Internet traffic or even political protests when the exchange opens, he said.

"This is a long-awaited step forward for our country and our state," Gov. Jay Inslee said during a news conference in Olympia. "Despite the shenanigans happening in Washington, D.C., today, we're ready to go in the state of Washington tomorrow."

State Sen. Karen Keiser says the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and nothing that happens in Washington, D.C., this week will change that.

"This isn't a one-day event. This is a landmark in history," said Keiser, D-Kent.

Online:

Washington Healthplanfinder: http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org

On the telephone:

1-855-923-4633 on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Suspicious Package Prompts Bomb Squad Response in Ocean Shores

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. - A briefcase left in a restroom was reported as suspicious Saturday night prompting a bomb squad response from the Washington State Patrol in Olympia. Trooper Russ Winger tells KBKW the package, found in the West Chance A La Mer approach restroom, was cordoned off Saturday night and x-rayed. The bomb squad determined that the breifcase was not a threat, and turned the lost property over to the Ocean Shores Police Department.

Tsunami Debris Information

The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan is a human tragedy. The disaster claimed nearly 16,000 lives, injured 6,000 people and destroyed or damaged countless buildings.

Most debris sinks, unknown amount still in Pacific Ocean

The tsunami also swept approximately 5 million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean. About 70 percent of the debris sank near Japan’s shore.

It is still unknown how much of the remaining 30 percent of the debris remains afloat. The debris dispersed in the northern Pacific Ocean where it is making its way eastward, carried by currents and wind.

Assessing tsunami debris, monitoring impacts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is collaborating with federal, state, tribal and local partners to collect data, assess the debris, and reduce possible impacts to our coastal communities and natural resources. Ecology has been closely involved in this coordinated effort.

Ecology is distributing information about whom to call when citizens encounter debris. The department has developed a flier and a wallet card; they can both be saved and printed for your use.

If you see suspected tsunami debris, NOAA asks that you report it, including the specific location and associated photographs, todisasterdebris@noaa.gov.

Please don’t burn any tsunami debris — burning wood or natural vegetation that has soaked in saltwater creates dangerous toxic pollution. In Washington, burning garbage is always illegal.

Hoquiam Farmer’s Market News – Double Recipe Edition

What an abundance of good local food- I still have razor clams in the frig from the weekend digs, hard-boiled Easter eggs, and a ham bone. It’s time for some of my all time favorite foods!
I have waited for months to indulge in some of my most favorite comfort foods. Number one in my hit list comes from my great grandmother’s tattered cookbook. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t give away all my other cookbooks and stay with this classic tome. 
We have fresh tulips and daffodils arriving Thursday morning, Puyallup rhubarb came in this morning, and right now is the height of artichoke season, so guess what we have! Um-hm, great big luscious artichokes. A new crop of organic potatoes came in, both yellow and red, and the organic Kale is looking really fine.

Olympus Rally Returns to Grays Harbor

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. - The Rally America National Championship schedule resumes at the end of April with its two-event West Coast Swing in Washington and Oregon. The Olympus Rally April 30th-May 1st runs along the beautiful shorelines of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula.  More than 50 top teams representing the United States, Canada and Great Britain will travel to the seaside community of Ocean Shores, WA for the third round of six Rally America National Championship events.
 
The season has already delivered surprising results. Perhaps the biggest surprise comes from privateer New Hampshire driver Travis Hanson, a Super Production Class competitor, who currently leads the overall Championship over many quicker, factory supported Open Class teams.  Hanson, a rally school instructor from Littleton, NH, and his father, Terry  from Traverse City, Michigan drew a line in the snow by winning the season opening Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta, Michigan last January 2011.

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.

Doppler Weather Radar Coming to Grays Harbor

Doppler Location

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash. -  The National Weather Service says Grays Harbor's Doppler Weather Radar system should be in place and operational by September of this year.

Doug McDonnal with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said they've always had a blind spot in Grays Harbor.

 

Cliff Mass with the National Weather Radio service tells us construction on the Doppler Radar site at Langley Hill in Northern Grays Harbor should begin during the next few months, with the radar installed by mid summer.

Cantwell Announces $37.7M for Washington State Homelessness Programs

SPOKANE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that 68 Washington projects will receive a total of $37,700,917 in grants for the development of Continuum of Care programs from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Continuum of Care programs are coordinated community-based efforts to address homelessness by examining needs and building programs that address those needs. Grants under this program were competitively awarded to applicants across the nation. 

 

“I applaud the Department of Housing for these critical investments towards in addressing homelessness in Washington state,” Senator Cantwell said.  “During hard economic times, it is critical we insure that the neediest in our communities have somewhere to turn.”

 

Programs awarded today include the Supportive Housing Program (SHP) that provides housing in a supportive environment with a service component; the Shelter Plus Care (S+C) program that provides grants for rental assistance for homeless persons with disabilities; and the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) program that provides rental assistance on behalf of homeless individuals in connection with moderate rehabilitation of SRO buildings.

Cooler Coastal Waters Could Mean Rougher Winter for Nortwest

ABERDEEN, Wash. -  It appears La Nina is definitely taking hold in the Pacific. Water temperatures are 2-3 degrees below normal which is a strong indicator of a harsh winter for the Pacific Northwest. AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Joe Bastardi predicts the Winter’s Worst Cold & Snow will be in the Pacific Northwest reaching all the way to the Great Lakes. Cities like Portland & Seattle who experienced mild winters last year are forecast to be much colder and snowier this year.

The harsh cold air we receive in the winter months comes from Canada to Washington State. It is predicted that the Canadian winter will be very harsh this year compared to the mild winter last year, which means that we could be in for many more sub freezing temperature days than the few we experienced in early December last year.

All in all it looks like we had better prepare for more severe winter storms, colder temperatures, more snow and freezing rain. It may only be August, but it’s never too early to prepare for what the experts are predicting to be a severe winter for our region. Learn to be Pro-Active. Visit Grays Harbor Emergency Management website at: http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/DEM/Index.asp.

Ocean sport anglers allowed up to two chinook daily

OLYMPIA – Sport anglers fishing for salmon off the coast of Washington will be able to take up to two chinook a day as part of their daily limit, effective tomorrow (July 8).

Patrick Pattillo, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) salmon policy coordinator, said the department initially set catch limits for the season to ensure that the fishery would not have to close early.

“With the predictions of chinook stocks nearly three times last year’s numbers, we were concerned that we could see very high chinook catch rates, and seasons could be closed early,” said Pattillo. “From what we’ve seen in the early part of the season, we no longer have that concern.”