by Devin Chicras
Folks who tuned into West Hill Community Association’s Spring 2023 Community Quarterly Meeting on April 18 found out how King County Metro’s new “Metro Flex” service works, got the inside scoop on King County’s new heat pump program, and more. Watch the full video below, or read on for highlights.
Updates from West Hill Community Association
Fin Hardy, WHCA Co-Chair
- Thank you to Beth Hintz for your four years of service to the WHCA board! Beth will continue to serve on the Fundraising Committee.
- Welcome to our two newest board members: Terrence Williams and Rahul Jathar!
- Call for muralists: if you have experience creating outdoor murals, share your info here.
- Register today for a wetlands restoration and litter pick up in Skyway Park with our West Hill Action Mob and partners at King County Parks in honor of Earth Month.
King County Local Services
Bong Sto. Domingo, Community Liaison
- Solar powered lights are now (finally!) working on the community kiosk message boards! Check them out at the Skyway and Campbell Hill locations.
Skyway Water and Sewer District
Cynthia Lamothe, General Manager
- Will be applying for additional Public Works Trust Fund loans, which have very low interest rates.
- There is a new customer web portal, create your account today!
- Find copies of Skylines Newsletter online.
- Entering into a contract with Public Health Seattle-King County for a project to extend the sewer main on the northeast side of Renton Avenue South to get a few people off of septic and on to the district’s sewer system. It will also open up opportunities for people north of Renton Ave S (northeast of the Skyway post office) to convert if they choose.
King County Fire District 20
Eric Hicks, Fire Chief
- A few fires in 2023 so far:
- Fire in Creston Point Apartments on February 15. Started on exterior of building, spread to the second floor via the vinyl siding and into an apartment unit where it was extinguished by the sprinkler system. King County fire investigator determined the fire was intentionally set. No injuries.
- Fire at an abandoned house in the wetlands area of the Brooks Village property off Renton Avenue South and South 116th Street. Firefighters have responded to that property three times in the last few years. This time, the fire completely burned the structure all the way to the ground.
- Fire at 8700 block of South 117th Street on April 7. Fire started in ceiling fan in the bathroom and spread to the attic area.
- With the support of the community and board of commissioners, KCFD20 has a new fire engine! Currently in the shop getting decals. New engines are a 20-30 year investment. The two current engines from 2004 will move into a reserve capacity for the next 5-6 years until they are surplussed.
- KCFD20 firefighters participated in the 32nd annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Firefighter Stairclimb on March 12 at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle, climbing up 69 floors in full gear while breathing from an air tank. They raised over $7,400 toward finding a cure for blood cancers.
- The annual Health and Safety Fair is coming up on Saturday, August 19.
- KCFD20 was established in 1943 and is celebrating its 80th year in service. There will be cake, punch, and station tours at the Health and Safety Fair to commemorate the milestone.
- Know anyone that’s interested in becoming a firefighter? King County Fire Chief’s Association is hosting the fourth semi-annual Diversity & Recruitment Workshop on May 6, 8 a.m., at Central Washington University’s Sammamish campus. “Learn everything you need to know about beginning a career in fire and life safety!” These are held twice a year at different locations (in December it was in Renton).
King County Sheriff’s Office
Mike Norris, Detective and West Hill Storefront Officer
- Thanks to all who came out to the Coffee with a Cop event at Winnie’s Coffee & Deli on March 29, great turnout!
- We’re planning a Coffee with a First Responder event with King County Fire District 20.
- Crime stats are on par with last year, only exception is a spike in stolen and recovered vehicles. In the last month alone, we’ve recovered more than 20 stolen vehicles. This has been an ongoing problem for the last several months, ever since the Kia/Hyundai vulnerability went viral.
- Community Service Officer Vickie Cariello is organizing an event along with Public Health Seattle-King County to provide car seat checks by safety certified technicians at KCFD20 on May 25. More details are coming.
- A monthly newsletter is in the works to keep the community informed. Working on template now, should debut in next couple of weeks.
- Update shared by WHCA Co-Chair Fin Hardy: Everyone’s welcome to the Alajawan’s Hands Community Family Reunion on Saturday, April 29 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Skyway Grocery Outlet Community Stage! Featuring free food, giveaways, music, and a resource fair.
Renton School District
Randy Matheson, Executive Director of Community Relations
- Renton Schools just had a spring break last week
- Shout out to coaches at Renton High School for going above and beyond to prepare students for their future, over the break they took students to tour colleges in Washington and Oregon
- About 40 students district-wide went to Georgia to tour Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
- A couple of Renton High School students got recruited to Boeing right out of the aerospace engineering classes that give them hands-on training.
- Thanks to voter support on school construction measures, there are a lot of upgrades and renovations happening. Currently, renovations are happening to front entrances of schools to improve safety, including new vestibules at elementary schools that require visitors to be buzzed in through a secondary door after front desk gets an eyes-on view of them.
- Dimmitt Middle School is getting a new principal next year – a transplant from Hazelwood Elementary School.
Skyway VFW Post 9430
Chad Hassebroek, VFW Member
- Last May, Skyway VFW Post 9430 celebrated 75 years of serving the community.
- Competitive youth essay programs at local, district, state, and national levels offer scholarships for high school students in grades 9-12 (Voice of Democracy) and middle schoolers in grades 6-8 (Patriot Pen program). Elementary students in grades 3-5 can compete up to the state level.
- The post has a long term partnership with KCFD20 and enjoys collaborating on events and supporting the Health and Safety Fair each summer.
- There are four seasonal youth events that are held annually for the membership and community members: an Easter party with egg hunt and bunny visit, an end of summer event in August with school supplies and food, a Halloween trunk-or-treat, and a visit from Santa with fun and games.
- Follow them on Facebook for updates and event postings.
Melissa Mather, Teen and Adult Services Librarian
- Many events and programs upcoming! Be sure to watch the events calendar for updates.
- Recurring programs include family story time, play and learn, tutoring, Spring into Art and STEM series for K-12, and more.
- Summer Reading kickoff is Wednesday, June 28 featuring two alumni from the Northwest Tap Connection.
- Wednesdays in July will feature fun activities like Funko play testing and pixel art.
Energize! Heat Pump Program
Medha Kumar, NextGen Climate intern with King County
- PROGRAM GOAL: Provide efficient electric heating and cooling to 150 Skyway-West Hill and White Center homes. This would supplement, not replace, existing systems.
- PROGRAM COVERS: Ductless or ducted heat pump, electrical panel upgrades. 100% of costs are covered for households below 80% average median income (AMI), and 80% of costs for households with 81-120% AMI.
- ELIGIBILITY: Must be resident of unincorporated Skyway-West Hill or White Center with AMI below 120%.
- FUNDED BY: King County and Washington State University’s Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP).
- PROCESS: Attend a workshop (dates coming soon!), receive a bid from selected contractor(s), and complete an application.
Other program features:
- Contractor selection process targeted Women and Minority Owned Businesses (WMBE).
- Support for renters by incentivizing homeowners with free installation in exchange for affordability covenants to keep rents reasonable.
- Weatherization opportunities through partner organizations.
- Running concurrently with other organizations like Puget Sound Energy programs.
- Workforce development opportunities for youth to learn HVAC installation.
General program timeline:
- Currently: There is a request for qualifications open for HVAC contractors, and an immediate need for residents aged 18+ to join the Selection Committee for the HVAC Roster
- Community reviewers commit up to 15 hours of work for a $450 stipend, no experience or expertise necessary. Email Nicole Sanders right away if interested: [email protected].
- April: HVAC Contractor selection.
- May: Outreach and HVAC contractor contracting and orientation.
- June-onward: Customer support through case management (application, site assessment, installation, evaluation).
- June: First workshop.
- July: Second workshop.
- August: Third workshop.
- September: Fourth, final workshop.
- October-December: Continued installations.
This program could save you:
- Product and installation costs ($7-20k).
- Electrical panel upgrade costs ($1.5-3k).
- Energy savings of about 40-60% of current heating costs.
- Time and effort with pre-selected installers, technical and incentives support, and case management.
- Money in extra tax credits and rebates: don’t forget to check the Rewiring America Inflation Reduction Act Savings Calculator to see how much!
Direct questions to Amy Bettle of Spark Northwest: [email protected] and (515) 868-6240.
Metro Flex: King County Metro’s On-Demand Service
Jordan Hoover, Community Engagement Planner at King County Metro
- On-demand service means you can call a van to you within a defined service area and get a ride within the same service area for the same cost as a bus ride ($2.75, or $1 for seniors, or free for youth under 18).
- Metro Flex is a rebranding of Via (and programs from other areas like Kent’s “Pingo” or the Eastside’s “Community Ride”) to have a single name and brand.
- Service areas exist in other areas like Juanita, Sammamish, Othello, Tukwila, and Kent. Our service area covers Rainier Beach and Skyway-West Hill, and also allows for usage within the Renton service area.
- Service hours are Monday-Saturday 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 6 a.m. to midnight (same as light rail).
- Boundary streets: South Cloverdale Street to the north, SW Grady Way to the south.
- How it works:
- Request a ride using the app, call center, or web booking. Entering your start and end times and locations will display an estimated time or options for a bus if it would be faster.
- Do this as early as possible for best results as there is no guarantee when the next ride is available. It often takes at least 15 minutes.
- You may have to walk 1-2 blocks for the nearest pickup location. The walk requirement can be overridden by your stated accessibility needs and the time selected (late night and early morning).
- This is a shared ride on a 7-passenger van, there may be other people in the van during your ride.
- There is an option in the app to request a wheelchair accessible vehicle or a vehicle with a bike rack. Those that call in have interpreter services available, and the app is available in five languages.
- No cash is accepted on board, pay with ORCA card or through the app.
- Ways you can use Metro Flex:
- Book a daytrip to Kubota Garden.
- Hit up the new Lake to Sound Trail Black River Junction section.
- Meet friends at Beach Comber Sports Bar and Grill knowing you have a designated driver!
- Get to the Rainier Beach light rail station or the Renton Transit Center.
- Schedule a ride for someone else using the website:
- Get your teen to get from your house to programs at the library.
- Help an elder get to and from the Skyway Grocery Outlet.
Like having a more engaged, informed and vibrant community? You can make a huge impact by joining your neighbors in giving $5 or more a month to the leanest, hardest working all-volunteer nonprofit in the neighborhood.