Kilmer, Heck Announce National Heritage Site on the West Coast

TACOMA, WA – Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Denny Heck (WA-10) joined local officials to announce a bill to create the first national heritage site on the West Coast. Their legislation would establish a National Maritime Heritage Area in Washington state – the only one in the country focused on maritime history. Following the announcement the group also toured the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Congress has designated 49 areas across the country as National Heritage Areas to promote local economic growth and preserve sites and landmarks with cultural and historical significance. After being approved by Congress each area is managed by local officials, with no new regulatory authority over management or preservation given to the National Park Service.

“From fishermen to shipbuilders, the maritime economy has been central to our region for generations,” said Kilmer. “We take pride in how rich this history is. Traveling along our coast you’ll find unique stories about our tribal heritage, fishing economy, and even boundary disputes. Today, we’re shining a spotlight on our maritime traditions in the hopes of reminding future generations of how important our ties to the water are while bringing in visitors from across the nation that will support tourism businesses. This bill seeks to maintain these national treasures through local control so they don’t fade away and would not have happened without a grassroots campaign to secure a heritage designation. I look forward to continuing to work with local communities to create this area.”

“Not only will the establishment of a maritime heritage area encourage people to learn about this special place, but to also visit and experience its brilliance in person,” said Heck. “This designation will also preserve the area for many generations to enjoy our region well into the future.”


What are National Heritage Areas?

info sheet imageNational Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.


Northbound US 101 drivers near Olympia should plan ahead to avoid a lengthy detour

Weather permitting, at 11 p.m. on both Tuesday, June 17, and Wednesday June 18, crews will close northbound US 101 at the interchange with State Route 8 for asphalt grinding and paving.

Motorists will detour around the closure via State Routes 8 and 108. The detour is 26 miles long and adds 30 minutes to drivers’ trips. During the closure, bicyclists will be allowed to use Madrona Beach Road Northwest and Old Highway 410 Southwest.

Northbound 101 will reopen each following morning by 5 a.m. WSDOT says the closure is related to a paving project to rehabilitate the lanes and ramps along northbound US 101 between Black Lake Boulevard and Steamboat Island.

Before heading out, drivers should plan their trip using Washington State Department of Transportation’s traffic tools.

Use travel alerts to get real-time information about blocking incidents or construction.

Download WSDOT’s mobile app.

Follow @wsdot_Tacoma on Twitter

Call 5-1-1 for traffic updates.

Catch trout, salmon, crab across Washington during Free Fishing Weekend

Some of the most popular fishing opportunities are available for anglers in the coming weeks, including trout in hundreds of rivers, crab in south Puget Sound, chinook in the Columbia River and salmon in ocean waters along the coast.

Sound like fun? Prospective anglers who are interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license can get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 7-8.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. In addition, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required that weekend to park at any of the 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size restrictions and bag limits will still be in effect.

In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or halibut they catch that weekend. They also must fill out a catch record card for crab, which is open only in South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) during Free Fishing Weekend.

Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state.

Of course, this month’s fishing opportunities don’t begin and end with Free Fishing Weekend. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • May 31 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon open in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 1 – Crab fishing opens in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • June 7 – Trout fishing opens in hundreds of rivers across the state.
  • June 14 – Traditional recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho get under way in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 16 – Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye salmon opens on the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • July 3 – Crab fisheries open in most areas of Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at . These reports are updated throughout the month to provide up-to-date information about recreational opportunities around the state.

WDFW schedules public meetings on plans to survey public and private beaches

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host meetings in June to discuss plans to survey public and private beaches around south Puget Sound for forage fish habitat.

Beginning in June 2014, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to survey public and private beaches around south Puget Sound to document the spawning areas of forage fish.

The surveys are designed to determine where and when forage fish, such as surf smelt and Pacific sand lance, spawn in southern Puget Sound, said Phillip Dionne, WDFW research scientist.

In all, state marine biologists plan to survey 450 miles of public and private shoreline west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, and Thurston counties. Volunteers from Puget SoundCorps will help crews look for eggs – some the size of a grain of sand, to mark spawning areas.

Landowners who want to deny access to their beach properties can opt out of the surveys by filling out this online form or by calling (360) 902-2552. Anyone who chooses to opt out will need to provide his or her name, property address and parcel number.


“Forage fish play a critical role in the food web, providing nutrients for marine mammals, seabirds, salmon and even people,” Dionne said. “We want to let landowners and beach-goers know our crews will be out on shorelines beginning in June, conducting research on forage fish for the next few years.”

WDFW has scheduled two public meetings on June 2 to discuss the beach surveys. The first meeting will begin at 10 a.m., the second at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Landowners who don’t want their properties to be included in the beach surveys can opt out by calling (360) 902-2552 or by filling out a form online at .

During the beach surveys, WDFW crews will collect sediment samples to test for fish spawn, photograph beach conditions and take measurements at beaches in Thurston, Mason and Pierce counties. Beach surveys generally take no more than one hour per location.

In all, state marine biologists plan to survey 450 miles of shoreline west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with the help of volunteers from Puget SoundCorps. Crews will cover 1,000-foot beach sections and conduct their work by boat and on foot.

“At the end of the project, WDFW will have a better understanding of what makes good habitat for forage fish,” Dionne said.

He noted that an egg from a surf smelt or sand lance is about the size of a grain of sand, making it difficult for anyone to spot a spawning area with the naked eye.

For that reason, private landowners wouldn’t necessarily know if their beaches are being used by forage fish to spawn.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about forage fish and spawning habitat can visit WDFW’s website at

Twelve Puget SoundCorps volunteers will participate in the beach survey project. A part of the Washington Conservation Corps, Puget SoundCorps employs young adults and military veterans, who dedicate up to two years to work on projects designed to restore and protect Puget Sound.

Corps members receive job skills and experience while earning money to pay student loans or continue their education. For more on Puget SoundCorps, visit .

Meeting tonight to detail the nation’s first tsunami vertical-evacuation structure being built in Ocosta

The Ocosta School District will release plans tonight for the nation’s first vertical-evacuation refuge. Contractors are presenting designs and floor plans for the new Elementary School, Chuck Wallace with the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency said recently; “They’re building the vertical evacuation aspect to their new elementary school and that’s the first one in the country. They’re getting a tremendous amount of attention and I believe that once it is built they are going to get a lot more attention.
Several project leads will be available Thursday night with information, School Superintendent Dr. Paula Akerlund tells us Brian Ho and Brian Fitzgerald from TCF Architects in Tacoma will provide information on the design and floor plan of the new school, including the tsunami vertical evacuation structure.
Cale Ash, structural engineer on the project, will furnish details about the engineering of the vertical evacuation structure.
Doug Nichols, project manager from Construction Services Group, will provide information on the construction timeline and budget.
The meeting starts at 6:30 Thursday night in the elementary school’s multi purpose room.

Tacoma man dies after car flips into Lake Cushman

A Tacoma man died yesterday evening after his car went into Lake Cushman, off of North Staircase Road in Mason County. The Washington State Patrol tells us the passenger was able to escape the car and swim to shore. The Mason County Coroner notified family of 20 year old Joseph Dusek overnight, his 2000 Audi TT was Southbound when it left the road to the right, rolled and came to rest upside down in the lake. The passenger, a 19 year old Lacey man was injured and transported by aid to Mason General Hospital. Trooper Richardson’s report lists “wheels off the roadway” as the cause of the accident.

Shelton felon arrested for plotting to blow up store and gas station as bank robbery diversion

A recently released prison inmate was arrested on Monday for plotting to blow up a large store and gas station as part of his bank robbery scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. LARRY GILLETTE, 53, of Shelton, Washington, is charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm. GILLETTE allegedly began plotting the bombings and bank robberies while still serving a state prison sentence for identity theft. After being released from prison on April 14, 2014, GILLETTE described his plot in detail to someone he thought would assist him with his crimes. In fact the person he met with was an undercover officer working for the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. GILLETTE will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.

According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement learned that GILLETTE told others in prison of his plan to rob banks in Shelton using bombs at various businesses as a diversion during which he would commit violent takeover style robberies. Following his release from prison, an undercover officer posed as someone who could assist GILLETTE in obtaining weapons and explosives for his plot. On two different occasions in April 2014, GILLETTE was recorded on audio and video describing his plot to the undercover officer as they drove around Shelton. As described in court documents, the plot involved powerful bombs at Walmart, and Arco and Chevron gas stations. The plot allegedly anticipated that while first responders were busy with the bombings, GILLETTE would rob three banks. GILLETTE indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies. At one point in the investigation, GILLETTE took possession of four Glock firearms. GILLETTE did not know the firearms had been modified so they would not fire. GILLETTE was arrested yesterday afternoon when he met again with the undercover officer, and attempted to ignite a car bomb. The “bomb” was inoperable.

Solicitation to commit a crime of violence is punishable by up to twenty years of imprisonment. Being a felon in possession of a firearm is punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force — which includes special agents from the FBI and task force officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) — and the SPD Major Crimes Task Force. SPD SWAT, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and Shelton Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) partnered with the task forces on the arrest and the serving of search warrants.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey A. Backhus.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer at (206) 553-4110 or

Fourth cycle of State Route 520 pontoons leaving Aberdeen casting basin April 15

The fourth cycle of pontoons headed for the State Route 520 bridge will be floating out of the Aberdeen casting basin late tonight. Deputy Executive Director at the Port of Grays Harbor Leonard Barnes told commissioners last week, the giant concrete structures will be floated to other terminals for inspection and preparation.
Some are stored at a moorage facility in the harbor, North of John’s River until they are towed 260 nautical miles around the Olympic Peninsula to Lake Washington for the new State Route 520 floating bridge.
Ian Sterling with WSDOT tells KBKW they have another six pontoons for the new SR 520 floating bridge ready to float out from the casting facility in Aberdeen. Crews plan to work through the night on Tuesday, April 15, with the first pontoon scheduled to leave the casting basin close to midnight to coincide with the high tide necessary for float-out.
These six pontoons represent the fourth cycle built in Aberdeen, meaning two-thirds of the 33 pontoons being constructed there are now complete. Other bridge pontoons are being built in Tacoma. All told, 52 of the 77 total pontoons needed for the new bridge are now complete.
Six more SR 520 pontoons wait for high tide in Tacoma
Six more SR 520 supplemental stability pontoons are towed out of their Tacoma casting basin in pairs each evening, as the high tides allow.

Fourth batch of State Route 520 Bridge Pontoons to float from Aberdeen

The fourth cycle of pontoons headed for the State Route 520 bridge will be floating out of the Aberdeen casting basin in early April. “We’ve had 3 completed so far, it’ll be the 4th.” Deputy Executive Director at the Port of Grays Harbor Leonard Barnes told commissioners in February “I expect [the date] to change -with weather, construction, it’s kind of a moving target. But I expect some time in April we’ll have our forth float-out.” The commissioners heard yesterday that the new target date is April 15th.
Just like the last three undertakings, the huge concrete structures need to leave the port facility during the highest tides possible. Barnes said we’ll also see some of the pontoons that are anchored near John’s River moving in the coming months. “There are some out by John’s River, they are close to getting ready for those in SeattleAberdeen Casting Basin - Port of Grays Harbor - 2013, I would expect in the next 60 days we’ll see some activity where those will come back to our marine terminal, and those will get moved up and around to the lake.”
Washington State Department of Transportation contractors are building 77 pontoons, 33 from Aberdeen and 44 from Tacoma. The pontoons are stored at a moorage facility in Grays Harbor until they are towed 260 nautical miles around the Olympic Peninsula to Lake Washington for the new State Route 520 floating bridge.

Risky business becomes rewarding enterprise for hosts of Aberdeen wine bar

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Wine bars are a risky business, especially in a small town. When the local supermarket has a good selection of decent wines for under $15, wine bars have an uphill battle to bring in sufficient customers to pay the bills.

That’s why Erik Stewart, a certified business advisor with the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), was thrilled when he walked into GH Wine Sellars on Broadway in Aberdeen recently.

“It was standing room only,” he said. People were elbow to elbow at the bar, where patrons are offered sample tastings of several wines before they make a selection.

‘Feels like home’

It’s not standing room only every night, but owners Karen and Ryan Rowe have created a community gathering spot since they opened for business in June 2013. During the Christmas holidays they booked nearly a dozen private parties, and GH Wine Sellars continues to be a go-to location for meeting a friend or celebrating a special occasion.

“The reason for their success is their personalities,” Stewart said. “They are the most wonderful hosts. You walk in and you feel like you’re getting a hug.”

The Facebook reviews are glowing as well: “Feels like home.” “Amazing atmosphere.” “OUTSTANDING!”

That feels-like-home ambience was the vision from the start, Karen Rowe said, because Aberdeen is home for both her and Ryan. Many of their customers are longtime friends or friends of friends.

The way they are treated at the wine bar is pretty much the way they’d be treated if they were at the Rowes’ home: “We want people to come in and sit, relax and enjoy a nice glass of wine,” Karen Rowe said.

Start with market research

The rustic interior features a fireplace, couches and armchairs arranged for intimate tête-à-têtes as well as after-work happy hours. Those who choose to stand can enjoy the craftsmanship of the mixed-wood bar that Ryan Rowe made.

Open 3-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and noon-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, GH Wine Sellars serves more than 80 wines, including a large selection from Washington state. The wine bar also offers limited food service, focusing on simple but tasty appetizers.

While Stewart has become a fan of the business as well as a customer, Karen Rowe enjoys joking with him that he started out as a skeptic. The Rowes first contacted the SBDC in 2010 when they were considering a shop at Westport, Wash., and thought they might need an SBA loan. Karen Rowe recalls Stewart saying, “Yeah, that’s not going to work at all, but I’ll help you any way I can.”

She laughs when she tells the story – and Stewart laughs when he hears it – but he insists it is an apocryphal tale.

“I would never tell a client that their idea won’t work,” Stewart said, “but I did urge them to do extensive market research into wine bars in general and wine shops on the Olympic Peninsula in particular.”

Small town, large volume

While many clients first contact the SBDC for help with loan applications, the SBDC provides confidential, no cost, one-to-one advising on just about any issue critical to starting, growing or transitioning a small business.

The Washington SBDC ( is hosted by Washington State University and receives support from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additional support comes from local economic development agencies and institutions of higher education.

In fact, opening a wine bar is a difficult proposition and Stewart knew it. He ran one of the largest retail wine programs in Tacoma in the 1980s.

The problem, he said, is that wine bars typically have limited seating and often depend on high volume to cover the costs – volume Stewart was concerned could not be generated in a small town.

Right location, careful accounting

The Rowes decided to skip the Westport deal because of a family crisis, but they continued to explore other wine bar opportunities over the next two years. For one reason or another nothing panned out.

But in March 2013 Karen Rowe was driving through downtown Aberdeen and saw a “For Rent” sign on the corner of Wishkah and Broadway in the old Elks Building. That changed everything. The sign, she said, was a sign.

“I had told Ryan, if we are doing it in Aberdeen, it had to be in that building,” she said.

Stewart was still skeptical, Karen Rowe said, but she appreciated his playing the devil’s advocate.

“Having your own business is not easy,” she said. “It takes all of your days and all of your nights.” The fact that Stewart wasn’t simply a booster who downplayed the risks helped them strengthen their business plan, she said.

Stewart stressed that since their margins would be thin, they needed to account for every penny, a concept well known to Ryan Rowe, who is an accountant by trade.

“He got it,” Stewart said.

Dream come true

With Stewart’s background in wine, he was a great resource for everything from how to talk about wine to how to pour it to how to price it.

“Erik gave us things to think about that we would never have thought about,” Karen Rowe said – “some of the little things that can make or break your business.”

There were little things (that can easily become big things) like having to pay an ASCAP licensing fee if they wanted to play music in the bar. And there were big things like how to manage their inventory so they weren’t leaving wine in bottles that eventually would be discarded.

Stewart is thrilled that the Rowes are off to a great start. Detailed and rigorous accounting systems coupled with outstanding customer service are making the difference, he said: “They are doing a lot of things right – and they are happy.”

Karen Rowe agreed she and her husband are happy – happy to be back in Aberdeen and happy to be the owners of the wine bar they first dreamed about nearly a decade ago.

For more information about GH Wine Sellars, go to the Facebook page at  

Find this news release at WSU News online at