Washington Charter School Commission denies proposed school for Twin Harbors

Washington’s statewide charter schools commission appears ready to approve six proposals for charter schools to open in the state, but a school that would service Grays Harbor and Pacific County is not among them.
The Charter School Commission posted its analysis on proposals for 19 schools vying to be among Washington’s first charter schools yesterday afternoon.
The panel said that the Evergreen Leadership Academy did not meet their standards, citing the lack of a “well-developed” plan to launch the charter school in Grays Harbor. The panel also noted the parent company Pioneer Youth Corps of Oregon operates a school in Oregon that has a history of low financial performance and non-renewal.
The panel is scheduled to meet Thursday.

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Target Breach Costs Mounting for Northwest Credit Unions

The massive Target breach has already cost Northwest credit unions an estimated $1.3 million, as they work fast and furiously to protect their 4.5 million consumer members.

“A survey of Oregon and Washington credit unions finds potential for over 258,000 of our members’ credit and debit cards to have been impacted, so our credit unions worked quickly to prevent fraud against their members,” said Lynn Heider, vice president of public relations and communications for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “Since news of the breach came to our attention in December, Northwest credit unions have done everything they can to help their members, including reissuing cards to prevent fraud, and investing in extra staff hours to answer members’ calls.”

Target confirmed the breach affected the credit and debit cards of up to 110 million consumers. In addition, up to 70 million consumers’ names, home and email addresses, and phone numbers were also compromised.

“Consumers who monitor their card activity and report suspicious purchases to their financial institutions are generally not liable for the expense of the fraud,” Heider said, “but because credit unions are cooperatives, the cost of these breaches could ultimately be shouldered by the members.”

For that reason, the NWCUA is encouraging its member credit unions to report all cost data to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The data will be useful as the credit union movement pushes for retailer accountability in legislatures and courts. The survey indicates thus far, Oregon and Washington credit unions have incurred expenses of about $5.10 for each card being reissued, totaling over $1.3 million in the region. Nationally, CUNA estimates, credit unions have incurred up to $30 million in expenses. The results don’t include the cost of any fraud losses which may occur later, and not all credit unions have reported their expenses yet.

“Northwest credit unions are taking precautions to prevent fraud against their members and we will vigorously pursue any possible recourse in their behalf,” said Heider.

Public input sought on potential habitat restoration project near Astoria

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is seeking public input and comment on potential environmental impacts from a proposed project to restore a tidal marsh in Clatsop County, Ore., to benefit salmon and steelhead. An open house describing the proposed work will be held Jan. 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Astoria.
The Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project proposes to modify a levee to inundate historic wetlands on a 221-acre property at the confluence of the Wallooskee and Youngs rivers some five miles from the Columbia River. The restoration would include the creation of a network of tidal channels and the re-establishment of native vegetation. The project would enhance rearing and estuary habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead as well as provide habitat for wildlife such as deer, elk and river otter.
BPA is considering funding the project to help mitigate for the impacts of the construction and operation of federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers, collectively referred to as the Federal Columbia River Power System. The work is being done by Astoria Wetlands, an environmental resources company.
After the restoration efforts, Astoria Wetlands would turn the property over to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe for long-term stewardship. BPA would maintain a conservation easement to ensure permanent protection of the property’s conservation values. To understand the potential environmental impacts of this proposal, BPA will prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be a cooperating agency in the development of the assessment in their role as a permitting agency for levee modification and wetland work.

Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project Open House
Date: 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: Nehalem Room, Oregon Department of Forestry, 92219 Highway 202, Astoria,
Ore.

At the meeting, there will be no formal presentation. Instead, members of the public can review displays and other materials. Representatives from BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Astoria Wetlands will be on hand to answer questions. Public comments will be accepted at the meeting.
Additionally, comments will be accepted through Jan. 27 online at www.bpa.gov/goto/WallooskeeYoungs as well as the following venues:
Mail: Bonneville Power Administration, Public Affairs – DKE, P.O. Box 14428,
Portland, OR 97291-4428
Fax: 503-230-4019
Email: comments@bpa.gov
Phone: 800-622-4519 (toll-free)
Please refer to Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project when leaving a comment.

WA Natural Resources Board OKs purchase of Wahkiakum forestland for Common School Trust

OLYMPIA – At its regular monthly meeting today, the state Board of Natural Resources authorized the purchase of 834 acres of working forestland in Wahkiakum County from a private seller for $2.19 million.

DNR will manage the acquired parcels, located near the town of Skamokawa, to support quality stream and forest habitat for fish and wildlife, while producing sustainable long-term income to the Common School Trust, which funds public school construction statewide.

Continue reading WA Natural Resources Board OKs purchase of Wahkiakum forestland for Common School Trust

Washington’s minimum wage increases to $9.32 per hour

Tumwater – Washington’s minimum wage will increase to $9.32 per hour beginning today, as announced in September by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

The 13-cent-per-hour increase, from $9.19 to $9.32 an hour, reflects a 1.455 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index between September 2012 and August 2013 for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI‑W).

L&I uses this annual change in the federal CPI to calculate the state’s minimum wage each year, as required by Initiative 688, approved by Washington voters in 1998.

The CPI-W measures average price changes for goods and services purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers. The goods and services it monitors include basic living costs such as food, clothing, shelter, fuels and services such as doctor visits.

Washington is one of 10 states that adjust the minimum wage based on inflation and the CPI. The others are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon and Vermont.

Washington has the highest minimum wage, followed by Oregon, where the minimum wage will rise on Jan. 1 by 15 cents, to $9.10 per hour.

Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, although 14‑ and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $7.92 per hour in 2014.

More information on Washington’s minimum wage is available at Wages.Lni.wa.gov. Employers and workers also may call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.

California Firm Recalls Grilled Chicken Salad Products Due To Possible E. Coli O157:H7 Contamination

The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, 2013 and shipped to distributions centers intended for retail sale in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

FSIS began monitoring a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on Oct. 29, 2013 then was notified by FDA on Nov. 6, 2013 that California authorities had reported case-patients consuming pre-packaged salads with grilled chicken. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services, FSIS has determined that there is a link between the grilled chicken salads and the illness cluster. Twenty-six case-patients have been identified in three states with indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 PFGE (genetic fingerprint) patterns with illness onset dates ranging from Sept 29, 2013 to Oct. 26, 2013. Based on epidemiological information, 15 case-patients reported consumption of ready-to-eat pre-packaged salads prior to illness onset. A traceback investigation determined Glass Onion Catering was the supplier of the products implicated in the outbreak.  

While uncommon to find E. coli O157:H7 in a poultry product, FSIS will continue its investigation in conjunction with the FDA to identify the source of the contamination. FSIS continues to work with the CDC, FDA and state public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

 E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.
 
 FSIS and the company are concerned that some products may be in a consumer’s refrigerators. Because this is a ready-to-eat product, FSIS advises all consumers to destroy the product.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Tom Atherstone, company president, at (510) 236-8905.
 
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Three more Haagan stores closing, Aberdeen Top Food & Drug not among them

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Haggen grocery chain is closing three more stores in Washington, but the Aberdeen location will remain open. The Bellingham company announced this week that they are closing” TOP Food & Drug” stores in Kent, Auburn and Yakima.
Earlier this year Haggen announced plans to close stores in Tacoma, Lacey, Federal Way, Bellevue and Shoreline. The company says the closures are part of a long-term plan to improve competitiveness. They currently operate more than 20 stores in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen Northwest Fresh and TOP Food & Drug names.

USDA issues health alert for some California chicken

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing a public health alert for raw chicken packaged at three Foster Farms facilities in California after 278 people have fallen ill.

The USDA says that strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with chicken distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington state.

The Salmonella outbreak has spread to 18 states, though most of the illnesses have been reported in California.

A spokesman for Foster Farms says no recall is in effect and that the infections were caused by eating undercooked or improperly handled chicken.

The USDA has not directly linked the outbreak of illnesses to a specific product or production period. The USDA mark on suspect packages would read: P6137, P6137A and P7632.

Cooking chicken to 165-degrees kills the Salmonella bacteria.

It's time to cook.... your chicken.

Oregon firm recalls meat and poultry products sold in Washington

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers (including restaurants) of the recall and to ensure that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall should contact Siberoni at 503-335-5843 or visit the firm’s website at www.siberoni.com.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. “Ask Karen” live chat services are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

U.S. House could vote this week on “Healthy Forests” bill to increase logging of federal forest lands

Earlier this summer Hastings said “Across our country, rural forest communities are struggling for survival.  These communities have depended on the forest for their livelihoods.  Yet in the last three decades, federal forest lands have essentially been shut down due to bureaucratic red tape and lawsuits and these rural communities are paying the price.  The federal government made a commitment over 100 years ago to actively manage our national forests and provide a percentage of revenue from that management to counties containing national forest land. land.  Yet the federal government has failed to uphold that promise,” said Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). “These communities cannot afford the status quo.  Police units don’t have the resources to respond to emergency calls, schools districts are laying teachers off, and communities are being left to crumble without funds to pay for infrastructure.  A new approach is needed now. This bill is a long-term solution to put hard-working Americans back to work and to restore the economies of these rural communities.”

At the markup, the Committee approved an amendment in the nature of substitute to H.R. 1526 offered by Chairman Hastings that combined several proposals to address the forest management stalemate on public lands and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildlife. 

“This amendment is a coordinated effort to combine these proposals in the interest of moving forward with a cohesive piece of legislation.  My colleagues on this Committee have put forth a lot of time and effort to develop pieces of legislation to help cut red tape and allow for increased management, and I am pleased that we were able to bring these bills together to restore the health of all our federal forest lands,” said Chairman Hastings.

Specifically, H.R. 1526, as amended, would reestablish the priority of actively managing our forests and promotes responsible timber production on Forest Service commercial timber land; improve forest health and prevent catastrophic wildfires by allowing great state and local involvement; improve forest management by allowing counties to actively manage portions of National Forest land; addresses the forest lands currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Western Oregon, known as “O&C Lands;” and allows for a short-term extension of Secure Rural Schools payments as counties transition back to active forest management.