Menu

Letters to the Editor - June 6, 2011

  • Written by Readers

Walker felt like a beginning skater doing bunny hops

Thank you to Bill Phillips for his letter regarding trail rules and signs on the Sammamish River Trail.

The only time I tried to walk on the trail, I felt like a beginning figure skater doing bunny hops in the middle of an Olympic pair skaters’ training session.

Speeding bike riders bore down on me like pair skaters in the middle of a complicated lift, unable to reduce their speed or to re-position themselves.

I quickly left and haven’t been back. I now look at the trail with longing, wishing that I could enjoy a walk through such a beautiful area, but I am terrified of being maimed or killed by a speed-crazed biker.

Beginning figure skaters don’t belong in the middle of Olympic training sessions, but I should be able to walk on a public path without fearing for my life.

Anne Frazier, Woodinville

 

Sad ending

More than 15 years of service at Woodinville Fire & Rescue Fire Station #34 ended for my husband on June 1, 2011, in a way never envisioned — in dress blues, taking down the flag and folding it in the rain, to the sounds of bagpipers mournfully playing "Amazing Grace."

Sadly, his home away from home has now closed.

Luckily, he had enough seniority to just be "displaced" to a new home, as his coworkers, those he grew to know in depth as his "other family" have also either been relocated to other stations, other shifts or even lost their jobs as Woodinville fire professionals and have unceremoniously been moved to the Kirkland fire department.

While many came to stand in unity on closing day, or sent their regards, like Deputy Chief Chubb, who was out of town for a personal family matter, it was glaringly apparent that those who did not stand in unity to save the fire station from closure were absent.

Not one member of the Woodinville Board of Fire Commissioners, or Fire Chief Daniels was in attendance to give assurance to those departing Station #34, that they continue to be valued members of Woodinville Fire and Rescue.

The press was there … citizens and neighbors were there … battalion chiefs were there…present firefighters, former employees, former volunteer firefighters and the chaplains were there.

The Explorer Scouts and NEVAC students were there.

The family of fallen firefighter, Matt Durham, who was also stationed at #34, was there — all to pay honor.

Where was Chief Daniels? Might he have been supervising his now top-heavy administrative fire department?

Could his personal secretary, Chief Administrative Officer Deputy Chief Acosta, or the finance manager have attended the short closure ceremony?

It is interesting to note that while the fire department has now shrunk to a three-station department, along with fewer firefighters, the size of administrative personnel has swelled since the hiring of Chief Daniels.

It was a day to mourn the loss of this fire station due to the annexation of Kirkland.

Those friendly faces of Station 34 who have answered 911 fire and emergency medical calls to parts of Hollywood Hill, the Sammamish Valley, wineries, group homes and broader Woodinville, are now setting up home in either the other three remaining stations, or have moved on to new departments.

And so, on behalf of my family and myself, who have come to know the firefighters on both a personal and on a professional basis, as a former Hollywood Hill School nurse, citizen of Woodinville, and wife, I give my assurances to each of you, that the firefighters of Woodinville are a valued and integral part of this community.

I am well aware that the glory of what you do lies within, and the satisfaction of serving this community is why you do what you do.

And so I am present as the emotional last words of Lt. Scott Riefers echo in my ears: "Dispatch from Station 34 — Aid and Engine 34 are out of service."

Respectfully submitted,

Patty Van Vactor, Woodinville

 

Firefighting controversy — behind the numbers

There have been a lot of numbers tossed about in the media regarding annexations and staffing in the Woodinville Fire District.

As a firefighter with Woodinville Fire and Rescue for over 18 years, I wanted to share some statistics with you that I think are meaningful.

Number of Woodinville fire stations that are able to deliver fire and EMS personnel within seven minutes into the majority of Station 34’s area that is still the responsibility of Woodinville Fire and Rescue: zero

Number of Woodinville fire district commissioners who live within this now under-protected area of the Woodinville fire district: zero

Percentage of taxpayers in this now under-protected area of the fire district who had their fire and EMS Benefit Service Charge raised by the current fire commission: 100 percent

Number of current full-time administrative personnel at Woodinville Fire and Rescue as of June 1: 16

Number of additional full-time administrators slated to be hired in the very near future: 2

Number of full-time administrative positions that are new and did not exist before Jan. 1, 2010: 5

Number of on-duty firefighters needed daily to staff the three remaining Woodinville fire stations: 13

Number of additional on-duty firefighters needed per day to provide enough personnel to staff an aid car at Station 34 (or other strategic location) to restore emergency medical services to Station 34’s area that is still the responsibility of Woodinville Fire and Rescue: 1

Number of dollars spent on the fire district’s legal expenses from Jan. 1, 2010 through April 30, 2011: $385,000

Number of dollars spent or committed toward an unfunded $74million training facility in Snohomish County: $274,000

Number of current Woodinville Fire and Rescue public educators: 1

Number of Woodinville Fire and Rescue Public Educators after July 1: zero

Number of WF&R community risk reduction personnel providing life safety and fire prevention inspections in the City of Woodinville since Jan. 1, 2011: zero

I hope you find these numbers compelling. I can speak for all of the firefighters of Woodinville Fire and Rescue by telling you, we certainly do.

Ted Klinkenberg, firefighter, E-Board, Local 2950

 

 

Riverview plans baccalaureate for June 5

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

The graduating classes of 2011 (Cedarcrest High School, PARADE, and CLIP) will hold their baccalaureate Celebration on Sunday, June 5, at Cedarcrest High School’s Theater at 2 p.m.

This celebration is in honor of all Riverview School District seniors.

The featured speaker will be Bill Marsh, with performances by students and participation by local clergy.

A reception will immediately follow the ceremony.

Families and friends are invited to attend. This event is being sponsored by CHS PTSA, with donations by area businesses.

Letters to the Editor - May 30, 2011

  • Written by Readers

Time to speak up

I’ve been a Woodinville firefighter for almost 18 years, and I wanted to add my two cents to last week’s article (May 23, "Fire Brass, Union Go Toe to Toe") regarding firefighters’ dispute with WF&R Fire Chief I. David Daniels and the fire commission.

We firefighters have seen significant changes in our fire service over the last year and a half, and we’re not simply carping about the addition of administrators as we watch critical fire services being cut.

We are sincerely concerned about our ongoing ability to provide fire and emergency medical services to the community and we are concerned about the solvency of the fire district based on the district’s own numbers. We will continue to be vocal because we’re adamant about serving and protecting the citizens of Woodinville.

Other fire departments in the county, state, and nation are consolidating districts to eliminate overlap and waste in administration in order to keep more firefighters on the street. The Woodinville Fire District is actually cutting firefighters while adding new administrative positions that have never even existed in this district.

It’s well past time to re-prioritize the budget to reinstate the fire district’s focus on the delivery of fire and emergency medical services to the citizens of Woodinville.

Incidentally, the Woodinville fire district is set to begin interviewing candidates on June 7 for an Emergency Manager, another new full-time administrative position.

I invite you and all of your readers to come to the Board of Fire Commissioners Meeting on the evening of Monday, June 6, at 5 p.m. at Station 31 (17718 Wood/Snohomish Road) to voice your opinion about this and other issues facing the fire district.

Paul Peterson, treasurer, Local 2950 Woodinville Firefighters

 

Woodinville firefighters cancel time off

Recently, Woodinville firefighters were able to keep a fire engine in service by canceling their scheduled time off.

Six firefighters from Woodinville Fire and Rescue will transfer to the Kirkland Fire Department as a result of the recent annexation. Although the annexation does not occur until June 1, Woodinville Fire and Rescue Chief I. David Daniels sent the six firefighters to Kirkland effective May 16 so they could receive orientation and training from their new employer. The chief also decided to reduce the staffing at Station 34 for this two-week period from three firefighters to two. This action would have placed Engine 34 out of service but would maintain operations for Aid Unit 34. This meant that the Kingsgate and Hollywood Hill residents would be without the protection of a fire engine for two weeks.

When the fire fighters of Woodinville Fire and Rescue heard that area residents would be without a fire engine, they quickly mobilized to fix the situation. About a dozen firefighters canceled their time off in order to increase the staffing level at Station 34 from May 16 to June 1.

If there is available time off on the calendar, they will be able to reschedule this time for later in the year.

Several of the firefighters needed to cancel other plans and obligations they had in order to make this happen. This sacrifice compensated for the early transfer of the firefighters to Kirkland, ensured that the area residents were adequately covered in case of a fire-related emergency and was cost neutral to Woodinville Fire and Rescue.

Tad Wineman, Battalion Chief, E-board, Local 2950

 

Letter is fascinating and appalling

The May 16th letter-to-the-editor about more administrators than firefighters was both fascinating and appalling, especially in view of a Seattle Times recently published "Highest Paid City of Seattle Employees" of which 14 of 20 of the highest paid were fire department chiefs.

Their gross annual pay ranged between $199,236 and $238,919. (It would be educational to local taxpayers if the Woodinville Weekly would publish the gross annual pay of Woodinville district chiefs, as well as administrators and firefighters who are non-chiefs.)

I understand that firefighters are able to condense their work weeks into a couple of days at the station, because they eat and sleep at the station, with all time counted as work.

I’ll bet the average taxpayer would endorse lowering firefighters’ wages and benefits, especially in outlying areas where there are few, if any, industrial-type fires and a preponderance of emergency-assistance calls having nothing to do with fires.

Maxine Keesling. via e-mail

 

Trail rules need to be posted

As a long time resident and someone who has literally logged thousands of miles on the Sammamish River Trail (running, walking and biking), I’ve seen more accidents in the last few months than in the last 20 years. This is due mainly to the large number of new users who have no idea of the rules that used to govern the use of the trail. There used to be signs at each trail entrance with the rules pertaining to the trail. They specifically said: 15 mph speed limit, all users STAY TO THE RIGHT, pedestrians have the right of way. Bikers should announce when passing and King County helmet law BOH 9.10.010(A) is in effect.

I’ve sent letters to King County Parks without response. Can’t Woodinville do something to help families be safe on the trail?

Perhaps this would be a good Rotary project if there aren’t public funds available.

With summer coming (even though that’s hard to believe), it would be great to get everyone over to the right and not be grazed by speeding bikers who come flying by you without announcing themselves.

The trail is being used by more and more families and should be governed by safety regulations to help avoid accidents.

Streets are a better place for "Tour de France" training than a trail where children are learning to ride with training wheels. We really miss the signs.

Bill Phillips, Woodinville

 

Black bears in Bear Creek Valley

I just had the biggest black bear I have seen since moving here in 1957, wandering around my lawn and garden. He looks well fed, but certainly is foraging. I live on Bear Creek near the Woodinville-Duvall Road.

Needless to say, we have always had bears and are used to them. However, with the shrinking habitat and poor food supply, the bears are becoming bolder and more desperate. It would be good to alert folks in the Upper Bear Creek area to watch their bird feeders, as that is a big source of food for these bears.

Wendy Walsh, Bear Creek Farm, Woodinville

 

Countywide Community Forums

While some bright spots are emerging in our local economy, many communities continue to feel economic distress and local governments continue to deal with budget shortfalls that include cuts in services and vital programs.

Citizens throughout King County are asking the question, "How can we do better, especially in those communities hit hardest by the recession?"

Your county leaders want to hear from you about what you need to be safe, healthy, and successful – no matter where you live, your income level, your age, or ethnic background.That is why Countywide Community Forums (CCF) is providing both neighborhood-based forums and online tools for you to share your opinions with county decision-makers. This process is designed to give you an easy, educational, and enjoyable opportunity to be heard on important issues.

Community values and hands-on democracy have been a passion of mine for over 40 years. Our sense of community is about how we connect to each other and influence larger social trends through the choices we make. CCF is about making the democratic process more accessible and using technology in ways that strengthen our civic infrastructure ... . You can take the online survey and learn more at CommunityForums.org or call toll free at (800) 369-2584.

Dick Spady, co-founder and president, Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, Inc.

 

Postal workers are heroes

The postal food drive is very important in the life of a food bank. Our holiday donations are depleted and summer is right around the corner. We are deeply grateful to everyone who gave so generously to this food drive. We collected nearly 10,000 lbs. of food which will help us this summer. We are very grateful to the postal workers who take time to collect the food on their routes. We know it takes a lot of extra time to pick it up and make extra room in your trucks. You are our heroes. Thank you everyone who helped extend limited budgets with good food.

Fran Walster, Maltby Food Bank Director

Letters to the Editor - May 23, 2011

  • Written by Readers
 Thank you

I want to sincerely thank the volunteers who came out (recently) to join in our Hollywood Hill Early Summer Roadside Cleanup. Along with many other groups, the Hollywood Hill Association hosts roadside cleanup days through the King County Adopt-A-Road program which provides volunteers with the supplies, safety equipment and the opportunity to contribute to bettering our community. I was just speaking with a friend who was in a nearby state who was shocked at how dirty the streets were. By comparison, our Woodinville area is wonderfully clean through the efforts of local volunteers who make the effort to enhance the lives of all of us. It is more important now than ever before to take just an hour or two once or twice a year to give back to your community. Your work will be greatly appreciated, and as the Hollywood Hill Association Adopt-A-Road coordinator I would like to thank Paul Kim, Suzy, Mike, Carolyn and Lincoln for their efforts. Special thanks go to Kevin, Rieley, Kauri and Dana, four young men who worked hard and cheerfully, filling several bags. These young men are learning the value of giving back to our community, and I hope to see more young people at our next cleanup.

John S. Snow, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - May 16, 2011

  • Written by Readers

Fire district top-heavy with managers

Woodinville Firefighters have been concerned over the last year and a half that the poor decisions being made by the current administration and board would move beyond simply damaging trust and confidence among district employees.

Eventually, we feared, bad policy decisions would have a direct and harmful impact on the services we are able to provide to the citizens of Woodinville and the surrounding communities.

Our fears are being realized.

Fire Station 34 in Kingsgate will be officially closing on June 1st, 2011 and if not for the actions taken by the firefighters, Engine 34 would have been placed out of service two weeks earlier on May 16th*.

Additionally, the office of Public Education is closing and the Fire Prevention Bureau has been eviscerated.

The leadership of Woodinville Firefighters Local 2950 presented reasonable options to continue coverage in Station 34’s response area after the annexation, but the chief and the board rebuffed them. We have also stressed the importance of public education and fire prevention to no avail.

Ironically, all this is happening during a time when the number of administrators at WF&R is being dramatically increased. The organizational chart that is being implemented resembles a big city fire department, not a small fire district.

When the staffing plan is complete and Station 34 is no longer open, there will be more office administrators than there will be firefighters on duty providing fire and emergency medical services to the community.

How is this possible? Well, for the first time in the fire district’s history, the fire chief has his own full-time personal executive assistant. Additionally, there are two deputy chiefs and there is a chief administrative officer as well.

An operations deputy chief is necessary in any fire department but what does the second deputy chief do when there is already a chief administrative officer? I’m not sure. Incidentally, the board of fire commissioners reorganized the fire district at the end of 2009 with the expressed intent to lower overhead costs and reduce the number of deputy chiefs to one. There are effectively three now, including the chief administrative officer.

In the finance division, the district has added a full-time finance manager in addition to the full-time payroll manager and the full-time accounts payable/receivable manager.

What does a full-time finance manager do at such a small organization that already has a fire chief to do the annual budget, and a payroll manager and an accounts payable/receivable manager that handle the day-to-day finances? I’m not sure, but he has been very helpful lately attending to maintenance needs such as replacing ceiling tiles, ordering light bulbs, and repairing oven doors. This should not last long, however, as the fire district has just hired a full-time maintenance person.

If this weren’t enough, a job posting has just recently been issued to hire a full-time emergency manager whose job duties will most certainly mimic work already being done by current employees.

There is also a plan in place to hire a full-time human resources manager apparently to assist the chief administrative officer. Each of these extraneous administrators cost nearly as much as a full-time firefighter and some of them cost more.

To top it all off, the fire district allows many of these administrators to flex their time and work from home since the board and the fire chief decided to close the administrative offices on Fridays.

So, dear public, if you have non-emergency business with the fire district, please come by or call Monday through Thursday. If you need direct contact with the fire chief, however, I honestly can’t say with any certainty when he will be in – please contact his executive assistant.

If you have an emergency, please dial 9-1-1. We will be honored to serve you. Unfortunately, if you are calling from 34’s response area outside of the City of Kirkland, we regret to inform you that we will be responding from an outlying station and therefore will be delayed.

Tony Woods,
Firefighter and E-board Member, Local 2950

*BOFC Meeting, May 2, 2011 – See Vimeo Link http://vimeo.com/23237468