WHCA Quarterly Meeting Recap – Winter 2019

  Event    WHCA Event

by Devin Chicras

How is King County working to improve services for unincorporated area residents, and what does Skyway’s new health clinic have to offer? About forty neighbors (and many more online) joined us at Skyway VFW Post #9430 to find out answers to those questions and many more on Tuesday, January 15th at West Hill Community Association’s Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.

The 90-minute community catch-up included reports from several local agencies and organizations and featured a special presentation from a brand new department of King County. Watch the full video below, or read on for highlights and important links.

West Hill Community Association (WHCA) Winter Quarterly Community Meeting at Skyway VFW Post #9430 – January 15th, 2019
West Hill Community Association Board President Jeremy Williams (left) chats with Skyway Water & Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe (center) and King County Sheriff's Office Precinct 4 Operations Captain Rick Bridges (right) at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
West Hill Community Association (WHCA) Board President Jeremy Williams (left) chats with Skyway Water & Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe (center) and King County Sheriff’s Office Precinct 4 Operations Captain Rick Bridges (right).

Board President Jeremy Williams welcomed guests to the West Hill Community Association (WHCA) Winter Quarterly Community Meeting, and Skyway VFW Post #9430’s Chuck Vitiritti and daughter, Connie, made sure everyone had snacks and beverages.

Connie Vitiritti and father, Chuck Vitiritti, offer food and beverages to guests at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
Connie Vitiritti and father, Chuck Vitiritti, offer food and beverages to guests.

WHCA Board Treasurer, Devin Chicras (00:02:30 mark in video), opened the meeting with a slideshow recapping the organization’s achievements throughout last year. Highlights included WHCA’s successful voter education efforts, West Hill Action Mob’s (WHAM) annual Spring and Fall Cleanups in the Skyway Business District, the 16th season of the popular Skyway Outdoor Cinema summer festival, October’s massively fun Halloween party and much more.

West Hill Community Association Board Treasurer Devin Chicras gives a presentation at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
West Hill Community Association Board Treasurer Devin Chicras gives a presentation.

Devin mentioned that all of this work is done by volunteers and supported by small grants and donations from neighbors. To meet WHCA’s goal for 2019 and carry out the mission of “Creating a More Engaged, Informed and Vibrant West Hill”, only twenty-five more neighbors need to sign up to give just $5 per month on our website. Will you be one of our 25 new monthly donors?

West Hill Community Association Board Member Clifford Cawthon and President Jeremy Williams speak to the audience at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
West Hill Community Association Board Member Clifford Cawthon and President Jeremy Williams speak to the audience.

Another way for neighbors to support WHCA’s efforts is to volunteer (sign up for WHAM party alerts) or even join the WHCA Board of Directors, says Jeremy and Board Member Cliff Cawthon (00:12:45 mark in video). Any unincorporated West Hill resident aged 18 or older is eligible to be elected to a board seat or vote for nominees.

While all eligible residents are welcome to be nominated or self-nominate at our annual elections held on the third Tuesday of April, residents may now fill out an online application in advance for the Election Committee to review. This way, the committee can provide the applicant with an opportunity to not only be preprinted on an election ballot or potentially be considered by the Board for any vacant seat throughout the year – but also a chance to be better informed of what the role and responsibilities of a board member are.

Any applications submitted beyond the first Friday in March will not be considered for the current year’s election but may still be considered for any vacancies. Check out our About Page for links to important board documents such as Articles, Bylaws, and meeting minutes.

King County Sheriff's Office Precinct 4 Operations Captain Rick Bridges gives a report at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
King County Sheriff’s Office Precinct 4 Operations Captain Rick Bridges gives a report.

The first Community Report of the night came from King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Precinct 4 Operations Captain Rick Bridges, who was standing in for Precinct 4 Commander Major Bryan Howard while West Hill Crime Prevention Officer James “Jimmy” Mitchell is on military leave with the National Guard until January 28th (00:21:30 mark in video). Deputy Mitchell recently recovered from a broken leg – check out the video if you’d like to hear the surprising reason his leg was broken in the first place!

Captain Bridges noted that there have been no distinct crime trends nor a noticeable uptick, but if you’d like specific stats while Deputy Mitchell is away, you can contact Community Service Officer (CSO) Scott Dungan.

The West Hill area always has two patrol deputies on duty (besides Jimmy and Scott), and KCSO can reach out to neighboring police departments for additional assistance, including King County Metro Deputies.

Now that Washington Initiative 940, the Police Training and Criminal Liability in Cases of Deadly Force Measure (I-940) passed in November, Captain Bridges confirmed that it is now mandatory for every deputy to take de-escalation and crisis intervention training (CIT) in addition to an annual 2.5-hour online refresher course. A summary of the new law on Ballotopedia states: “Initiative 940 was designed to create a good faith test to determine when the use of deadly force by police is justifiable, require police to receive de-escalation and mental health training, and provide that police have a duty to render first aid. It removed the requirement that prosecutors show that a law enforcement officer acted with malice to be convicted.”

King County Fire District 20 (KCFD20) Fire Chief Eric Hicks gives a report at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
King County Fire District 20 (KCFD20) Fire Chief Eric Hicks gives a report.

King County Fire District 20 (KCFD20) Fire Chief Eric Hicks announced that for 2018, the department responded to over 2,300 calls (00:34:00 mark in video). Also representing the department were several firefighters in attendance, some of whom were volunteers.

King County Fire District 20 (KCFD20) firefighters attend Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
King County Fire District 20 (KCFD20) firefighters were in attendance.

Chief Hicks noted that the department lost eight newly trained volunteer firefighters last year to other departments – which is an indicator of how much KCFD20 is known throughout the state for producing quality firefighters.

Last summer’s pre-parade pancake breakfast fundraiser for Skyway VFW Post #9430 will now be an annual event. In December, several community members completed over thirty hours of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training so they can keep themselves and their neighbors safe in the event of a disaster. For 2019, KCFD20 will offer CPR classes (not for certification, however, to dissuade non-local folks filling up the class just to advance their professional careers).

You can stay connected to KCFD20 on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), by visiting their website, or Chief Hicks invites you to stop by and chat with him in person anytime.

Skyway Water & Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe gives a report at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
Skyway Water & Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe gives a report.

Cynthia Lamothe, General Manager of Skyway Water & Sewer District, began with an overview of their operations (00:38:20 mark in video).

A publicly-elected board of three commissioners (Jon Ault, C. Gary Schulz, Donald Henry) serve 6-year terms each and provide direction and have decision making authority over a team of ten full-time staff. Their meetings held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6pm are open to the public.

The District staff carries out management and day-to-day functions and serve 17,000 people around the clock. The District’s priorities are to operate in an environmentally sound, fiscally responsible manner and to provide great customer service.

All of the water used in the District comes from three sources: the District’s own wells, and water purchased from the City of Renton and Seattle Public Utilities via the Cascade Water Alliance.

In 2018, the District substantially completed a major well improvement project. The project brings the District’s own wells from one to three, and will provide a “reliable, cost-effective source of water supply for our customers, now and into the future”.

Skyway Water and Sewer - Excerpt from January 2019 Skylines Newsletter
Skyway Water and Sewer – Excerpt from January 2019 Skylines Newsletter

The major Skyway Park Sewer Lift Station Consolidation Project will kick off this year, with the details advertised next month, and construction expected to begin in March or April.

This year, the District will be determining a plan to replace aging pipes, many now three-quarters-of-a-century old. As customer rates are its sole source of revenue (they receive no tax dollars), the District is careful to budget (and therefore adjust rates) only for projects it “needs” rather than “wants”.

Cynthia also noted that smart meters are currently being installed one route at a time, and Automated Meter Reading will be enabled once all are installed (estimated timeline TBD), which will save a significant amount of staff time. The size of the District’s staff has remained the same, despite major growth in the number of customers they serve.

You can contact the District for more information by calling 206-772-7343 or emailing [email protected]. You can also read the Skylines newsletter in your bill (or read online), or follow on Twitter.

Tent City 3 Executive Committee Member Tricia Wood (left) and Fin Hardy of Lakeridge Lutheran Church give reports at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
Tent City 3 Executive Committee Member Tricia Wood (second from right) and Fin Hardy (right) of Lakeridge Lutheran Church give reports.

Fin Hardy represented Lakeridge Lutheran Church for Pastor Scott Kramer (00:42:45 mark in video) and also introduced Tricia Wood, an Executive Committee member for Tent City 3, which is currently located in the church parking lot.

Fin mentioned that in addition to hosting Tent City 3 (TC3), Lakeridge Lutheran works with Bryn Mawr Elementary and Lakeridge Elementary Schools to help families in need, and hosts and feeds homeless men at the church every March through a cooperative housing venture called A.R.I.S.E. (Area of Renton Interfaith Service Endeavor).

Tricia stated that TC3 had previously been located adjacent to the 7-Eleven at South 129th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South (State Route 900) but had been struggling to find a new location after their 120-day permit neared expiration. They were grateful to be referred to Lakeridge Lutheran, which helped them out when they most needed it.

There are fifty-two adult residents and four children call TC3 home, including Tricia’s two-year-old son. According to Tricia, the community has been very welcoming to residents of TC3, including the police and EMTs.

Community members are welcome to stop by TC3 to speak with residents or take a guided tour – just visit the front desk at the camp which is staffed 24/7. If you’d like to support our neighbors at TC3, you can find their wishlist online. Donations an also be dropped off at the front desk.

Bryn Mawr United Methodist Church (Bryn Mawr UMC) Pastor Meredith Dodd gives a report at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
Bryn Mawr United Methodist Church (Bryn Mawr UMC) Pastor Meredith Dodd gives a report.

Pastor Meredith Dodd of Bryn Mawr United Methodist Church mentioned that they were working with TC3 to offer a dental clinic van at the church on second Saturdays for anyone who needs it (00:47:20 mark in video).

Bryn Mawr UMC will also be allowing nonprofit groups to use their space free of of charge. One such example is WHCA’s upcoming board game event on Saturday, February 16th from noon to 4pm.

Friends of Skyway Library's Kathleen Sidwell gives a report at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
Friends of Skyway Library’s Kathleen Sidwell gives a report.

Kathleen Sidwell represented Friends of Skyway Library (00:52:50 mark in video). Kathleen noted that the group is in need of new members. Members help sort book donations for resale at the library and for their large annual book sale events. The group raises thousands of dollars to support programming at the library every year. If you are interested in helping out, you can inquire at the Skyway Library front desk.

The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm in the library’s meeting room, except for August and December.

King County Department of Local Services (DLS) Director John Taylor give a presentation at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
King County Department of Local Services (DLS) Director John Taylor give a presentation.

Our featured presenter of the night was John Taylor, Director of the new King County Department of Local Services (DLS) (00:54:45 mark in video). King County provides services to over 250,000 unincorporated residents divided into seven Community Service Areas (ours is considered part of “West King County”) – altogether, unincorporated residents would account for the second largest city in the state. The new department seeks to create a “virtual city hall” for “getting things done”.

Despite no additional budget, aims for greater efficiency by reorganizing several departments under the DLS banner, including the Permitting Division (formerly the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review), Road Services Division, and the Community Service Areas (CSA) Program. DLS also has service partnerships with King County Parks, Regional Animal Services of King County’s (RASKC) Animal Control Response, On-site Septic System and Plumbing and Gas Piping programs.

Map of King County Unincorporated Areas
Map of King County Unincorporated Areas

In addition to the reorganization, they will be building a more robust CSA Program, increasing outreach efforts, adding two new subarea planners and hiring the first ever Economic Development Program Manager for unincorporated King County which “will provide strategic planning, coordination and support for economic development activities”.

The adoption of the biennial 2019-2020 King County Budget also means there will be more services from both the Roads Services Division (more sidewalk repairs, bridge replacements, dedicated road maintenance crews) and Permitting Division (increasing online tools, streamlining permitting requirements for already built construction (ABC), more staff time spent on customer inquiries).

You can connect with Roads on Twitter, Facebook, or on their 24/7 helpline: 206-477-8100. The Permitting Division can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 206-296-6600.

Each division will continue to operate out of their existing locations, but this may change as soon as 2020, pending ongoing analysis and additional funding. An office in Skyway has not been ruled out.

King County Department of Local Services (DLS) Communications Manager Jerry Pionk (left) and Director John Taylor (right) discuss the West Hill Subarea Plan at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
King County Department of Local Services (DLS) Communications Manager Jerry Pionk (left) and Director John Taylor (right) discuss the West Hill Subarea Plan.

With the two new planners hired, the county will aim for completing one subarea plan per year. The “Skyway-West Hill” plan is already underway, and the County is currently interviewing local stakeholders and asking folks to take a new land use survey found on Slido (enter code #SWHlanduseplan until February 5th, 2019).

The County will distill the information from those discussions and surveys into themes which will be explored in more detail in small group meetings with community members in February to collect feedback that will impact the draft plan. A final plan will go before the King County Council in June. Read more about the plan and watch a video of the subarea plan town hall on our blog. You can subscribe to email updates for the subarea plan on its dedicated webpage.

Folks are also welcome to drop in and visit Subarea Planner Bradley Clark during the next “field office day” at Skyway Water & Sewer District (6723 South 124th Street) on Tuesday, January 29th between 8am and 4pm.

DLS Communications Manager Jerry Pionk also shared that another survey regarding improvements to service delivery for all unincorporated residents can also be found on Slido (enter code #localservices until April 1st, 2019).

DLS has an active Instagram page, and you can contact them via email at [email protected].

HealthPoint Nurse Practitioner Shannon Duffy give a presentation at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
HealthPoint Nurse Practitioner Shannon Duffy give a presentation.

Presenting next was Shannon Duffy, a Nurse Practitioner at the HealthPoint clinic located in the Renton Area Youth & Family Services’ (RAYS) Cynthia A. Green Family Center, located at 12704 76th Avenue South (01:21:00 mark in video).

HealthPoint maintains thirteen community health centers in the region including ours, and they serve all patients but primarily those with lower income or uninsured (sliding scale program is offered) patients. 

HealthPoint’s focus is on primary care – from wellness visits (i.e. vaccines, physicals, cancer prevention screenings, well child checks) and sick visits (i.e. stitches, cold, flu, UTI) to ongoing care for chronic illness (i.e. diabetes, hypertension).

HealthPoint chose to partner with RAYS not just because the facility is such a vibrant community center, but also because RAYS offers counseling and behavioral health services onsite as well.

Shannon highlighted how comfortable and relaxed feeling the space is, and that Skyway Water & Sewer General Manager Cynthia Lamothe’s father used to operate a family clinic in the same building many years ago.

While the clinic is only open on Mondays and Thursdays from 8am to 5pm, walk-in appointments are available (although it’s a good idea to call ahead and schedule an appointment at 206-839-3540). See our blog post for more information about the clinic, and pictures from its grand opening in April.

Chuck Vitiritti of Skyway VFW Post #9430 gives a report at the Post on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
Chuck Vitiritti of Skyway VFW Post #9430 gives a report.

Chuck Vitiritti represented our hosts Skyway VFW Post #9430 (01:25:20 mark in video). Chuck reported that twenty Thanksgiving baskets and twenty-four Christmas baskets worth $9,000 total were given to families of their five adopted units at Fort Lewis. In addition, the Post collected so many children’s toys to give to Fort Lewis and Childhaven that it filled their whole dance floor (nearly $40,000 worth).

Chuck revealed that he has been battling lung cancer and genetic lung disease, and is slowly getting back into his active volunteer work. Watch the video to hear Chuck’s emotional first-person account of surviving a deadly fire on board the USS Enterprise fifty years ago to the day.

Skyway Solutions Logo
Skyway Solutions Community Development Association Logo

Skyway Solutions wasn’t able to make the meeting, but we received the following written report from board member JT Williams:

  1. Youth Leadership Program: consisting of 30 youth, ages 14-24 who are meeting for 2019 with various topics each month such as (education, financials, advocacy, etc). They are currently working on a community video project of how they would like to see Skyway built that could possibly be presented to King County for planning purposes. 
  2. Recreation Coordination: In the process of partnering with providers to lead recreational activities for 2019 throughout Skyway with it being free for residents. 
  3. Parade and Block Party: The parade date is set for 8/17/19. Planning meetings will start in February. More details to be shared via Facebook.
  4. Skyway Gateway Park: Construction begins in late February. 
West Hill Community Association Vice President Margie Lindberg and Board Member Jacqueline Frazier draw winning tickets for gift card door prizes at Skyway VFW Post #9430 on January 15th, 2019 for WHCA's Winter Quarterly Community Meeting.
West Hill Community Association Vice President Margie Lindberg and Board Member Jacqueline Frazier draw winning tickets for gift card door prizes.

The meeting ended with a door prize raffle (01:30:00 mark in video). WHCA Vice President Margie Lindberg & Board Member Jacqueline Frazier drew three lucky tickets (two winners of a $20 gift card to Nevzat’s Espresso and one $20 gift card for Skyway Grocery Outlet). Congrats to all the winners!

Stay connected with your WHCA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and sign up for neighborhood news in your inbox. You can find upcoming events on our calendar.

Thank you to all our guests, speakers, and those that joined us via livestream. A very special thank you goes out to Lordia Williams for all of the great photos featured in this post.

Our next Quarterly Community Meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 16th and will feature our board elections.