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Letters to the Editor - Dec. 16, 2013

  • Written by Readers

For the last ten years I’ve been involved in the running of a food bank in Carnation. We feed around 200 families (about 700 people) a week and seem to be one of the very few food banks that serve everyone who comes to our door without question — no ID needed, no must show proof-of-area residence, no personal information required.

We are also one of the only food banks that feed the homeless with no questions asked.

And we are very much an "All You Can Eat" food bank."

Since being founded over 38 years ago, this food bank has operated in several locations in the Snoqualmie Valley, moving to our present building seven years ago.

During all these years of operation this service to the needy has been very generously sponsored by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, even when they as a people had nothing, they were always there, supporting this public food bank as a community service. In fact, this food bank was founded by a Snoqualmie Tribal member.

The reason I’m writing this is not to pat the tribe and we volunteers who work here on the back for many years of a job well done — although they all certainly deserve it. The reason I’m writing this piece is that this long-time service to East King County is tentatively ending as we have been told that our funding from our primary sponsor, including the use of our building and truck will cease at the end of this year. We are heart-broken and are searching for a replacement space and funding, but we weren’t given much warning and time is short.

This is a disaster not only for our food bank but more so for the entire Lower Snoqualmie Valley!

We occupy a very critical spot in the whole "help" grid in East King County that many not involved in the system may not be aware of. A large portion of our clients can not (or will not) be served at the other major food banks in the area.

They have been turned away because they can’t meet those food bank’s requirements for Food Bank registration, including a valid current photo ID, proof of current address and residency, (utility bill or bank statement), current income (or lack of income) information. If you do not have the information they request – or even do have the information but don’t meet their requirements — They Will Not Serve You!!!

We ask for nothing – no ID or personal information required.

This food bank was founded on the principle that we would do nothing to impugn our clients’ dignity, self-respect or right to privacy. We are here to help people, not to gather information.

Without us there are very few places in this part of King County that many of these people can go to for help. Of the three large food banks in NE King County: one in North Bend, one other in Carnation, and us (The Snoqualmie Tribe Public Food Bank), we are the only one that has no registration requirements or restrictions. We Feed Everybody!

The others turn people, (who do not meet their qualifications) away. Simply going to their websites can verify this. In fact, both of these food banks send the people they will not serve to us, as they are quite aware we have no restrictions on who we help.

I’m not writing this to put anybody down – I’m not a confrontational or controversial person. However, I will say that my observation is that one of the main reasons for this information-gathering disaster at some food banks is the guidelines, or these food bank’s understanding of the guidelines set up by the USDA Emergency Food Assistance Program, I believe administered in this state by DSHS.

Our food bank has refused to sign up for food assistance because of the qualifying requirements our clients would have to meet. Not only are they intrusive but they make the food bank experience an upsetting and uncomfortable process. Many who come to food banks are already at risk, why make it worse?

Because these food banks comply with what they see as the information gathering requirements that come with signing up for the food assistance (commodities), program, they just go ahead and have everybody who comes into the food bank register, and if they don’t have the information or even do but don’t qualify — Too Bad! No Food For You!

What is not realized is that there is food other than that from food assistance that comes into these same food banks — lots of it!

It comes from groups like Northwest Harvest or Food Lifeline – or maybe direct donations from small businesses and corporations – maybe it’s just a bag of groceries that somebody drops off at a food drive that ends up at that same food bank. These donations are also being kept from those who "Don’t Qualify." I suspect that most people that donate food don’t put restrictions on who gets it. In fact, I’ve been very involved in the food bank thing for quite a few years now, and nobody’s come in to any food bank I’ve been working at yet and made a donation with a list of whom they didn’t want their food to go to.

Here in East King County, just 20 miles from the Microsoft campus, you’d be amazed to know how many people are below the poverty level, but you’d be far more amazed to know how many people live below that!

People who live in old vans and cars in a friend’s back yard – or in the woods – even in tents, and it’s starting to get cold up here.

We help these people – they come to us for food and clothing – no questions asked – no ID or paperwork needed – They can’t get served at other food banks, but you know what? They still get hungry!

Most people aren’t even aware of food banks except on Thanksgiving and Christmas when they show them on TV – but we are here all year … Going Full Tilt!!!

We are HOPE for many of the families we serve … Some are people that get their entire nutrition for the week from our food bank – who because of their situation can’t get help elsewhere in the area … We MUST be here to help them … this food bank MUST survive!

But even if we can’t save our food bank and we are forced to close, this is a wrong in the food distribution system that must be righted.

Fred Vosk, lead volunteer, Snoqualmie Tribe PUBLIC Food Bank

(206) 949-2310

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

http://www.bikesters.com

It’s biting cold outside, even during the daytime hours. Where are we as citizens of Woodinville housing anyone who is homeless, caught out in this cold weather?

There are people out there, perhaps some hiding in parks, or in the woods, without true warmth or even food.

How is it our community has not opened up the City Hall west side door at night with lights and warmth for the homeless?

The PD is connected within the building, and certainly, the on-duty officers are not supposed to be sleeping on the job.

Why can’t we open those doors during this terrible cold snap?

I know the city hall does not have carpets on the floor, but you cannot tell me that it has no heat or lights. We as a community can afford to pay for additional heat, especially if we can pay for a sports field, pay to have art works scattered all over town, pay to have a mural painted on the old brick schoolhouse, etc. We CAN afford to help the poor.

Where is this community in helping to feed these folks, as well.

I do NOT mean just gathering food into bags at churches or grocery stores, as these go to families in need, not to the homeless. We need to organize now and get something going for these people, as well as notify them out in public with signs as to where to go. We must have somewhere, and we can all step up to bat, not just with funds [good though] but with our hands. Christmas has nothing to do with a tree, gifts or shop ‘til you drop; Christmas is a celebration of life and LOVE. Where is love if we cannot love the unfortunate?

I’m 77 years old, fighting cancer and pneumonia but I am so angry with humanity’s indifference during this cold all over, staying awake to pray for those out in it. We show more caring for illegals than we do our own. We need to care about all people, including those unfortunate in our OWN country right now. Times are tough all over the world.

So my question again is: Where are we housing those homeless people caught out in this terrible cold? Where have we designated an eating place for them? Where is our TRUE Christmas spirit? Can you still have a merry Christmas? Let’s try to do something. My part is bringing it out in the open and praying someone will act on it. Let’s HELP!

Diane M. Condon, Woodinville

I would like to commend the exceptional students/softball players from our own Woodinville High School Lady Falcons Fastpitch team for their volunteer efforts recently.

The Lady Falcons, along with coach Dani Weir and assistant coach Mike Dale, took time out of their weekends to provide an unprecedented set of four free clinics designed to encourage girls to play softball.

I would further like to thank Absolute Blast/the Launch Pad for donating their facility for the clinic. Playing softball is a lifetime sport — it encourages team work, sportsmanship, drive and dedication — all virtues exhibited by the exceptional Falcons.

Thank you for showing our girls what it means to be a Falcon and for showing them how much they have to look forward to by participating in high school sports.

Jess Smith, VP Softball, Woodinville Little League

Letters to the Editor - Nov. 18, 2013

  • Written by Readers

This past November 8th – 10th, the Basketball Club of Woodinville hosted our 12th annual Falcon Classic Basketball tournament.  

This annual event is the major fundraiser for our club, which supports both the WHS boys basketball teams and Woodinville select boys basketball teams in grades 4 – 8. This year’s event was our biggest ever — bringing over 80 teams and nearly 1,000 players plus their supporters to Woodinville.   

While the tournament is run by the parents and players in the club, it could not have been accomplished without the support we received from the Northshore School District and businesses in the community. A huge thank you goes out to the school district for making the gyms available, the staffs at Woodinville High School, Bothell High School and Northshore Junior High for welcoming us onto their campuses, and to the Woodinville High School Drama Club for the partnership required to accommodate so many people on campus on Friday and Saturday nights for their play and our tournament.

We would also like to thank the following businesses in Woodinville who supported our tournament with sponsorships, discounted good and services and special offers for tournament attendees:

• The presenting sponsor of our tournament – Wilkins Performance

• Liberty Sign Shoppe

• FASTSigns

• Seattle Espresso

•Washington Pizza Company

• Subway

• Jimmy Johns

• Ezell’s Fried Chicken

• Chipotle

• Red Robin

• Roundtable Pizza

• Dairy Queen

• Woodinville Hometown Values Coupon Magazine

• Mazatlan

• Plaza Garcia

• Garlic Jim’s

• Gold’s Gym

• Massage Envy

• Restaurant Depot

• State Farm/Mike Rodgers

Brian Riseland, VP, Basketball Club of Woodinville

 

I would like to respond to last week’s letters on the subject of homeless people in our area. I’ve confronted only one woman outside Kingsgate Safeway in Kirkland who, though appearing homeless, admitted she had a room to occupy at night. I believe she spent the money she collected at a nearby tavern.  Whatever the backstory of the homeless, however, my experience has been to adopt such a person, which I did in the University district when I attended graduate school. I spent 3 1/2 years on this project. If anyone can help such a person, it would be a great thing. There can be unspeakable hurdles, however, as I have experienced, whereby psychologically-deprived people who wish to reach out to a normal person, cannot even compose a grammatical sentence. These are people who should be helped by the professional community, but are not. The professionals, ensconced in their offices, don’t wish to know people without insurance. To help another person on a one to one basis, overcome these grave psychological problems is an extraordinary feat, and I am thinking how clueless we all feel when confronting a person whom we cannot raise up. We just don’t understand what makes a person fall below the poverty line and stay there, as if it is their life’s fate.

  Nancy Snyder, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - Nov. 11, 2013

  • Written by Readers

A letter from Grandma:

Since 1998 the Northshore Wranglers Program has offered activities, advocacy and support for individuals of all ages with intellectual, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

I write this letter today requesting your generous support. The Wranglers Program needs your help! Our program currently serves over 180 young people ranging in age from grade school and beyond.

The Northshore Wranglers Program includes families and caregivers, offering year-round, weekly, and ongoing specialized and inclusive opportunities for all participants. The Wranglers is a non-profit program.

Donations are currently being accepted online and via email to support and ensure a bright future of fun and friendships in Wranglers weekly programming activities.

Through a generous anonymous donor,the first $10,000 in donations will be matched until December 6.

This letter has been written from my heart. My granddaughter, Taylor, has greatly benefited from this program and I can’t imagine our life without it. Taylor is currently in a drama production, and the number of hours volunteered to make this production happen is overwhelming. I’ve watched her learn life skills, participate in bowling, drama performances, basketball, swimming, and so much more. The joy on her face is priceless; as are the friendships she has created. This program makes her and others feel special, rather than a child with special needs. This program is not just about the kids. Many parents can’t leave their child unattended. These programs provide a break for the parents as well! Not only do parents receive an hour or two each week to themselves, but they get the joy of watching their child perform just like any other child on the day of the performance, game, or event. The number of volunteers is amazing and as I watch the teen volunteers, I wonder who is getting the most from this program ... the special needs children or those donating their time. We all learn so much from each other!

This program is our safe place; there is no bullying, strange looks or misguided comments. Rather, this program generates the much needed praise, cheers, and laughter we all need in our lives.

Please help support this program! Many participants cannot afford to participate due to their high medical costs and costs for special care.

This giving campaign helps bridge that gap so all can participate and it also helps us retain individuals like Coach Cole Caplan, program coordinator, who make this program run so efficiently. Coach Cole has dedicated himself to this program for many years and is like family to us all. He is truly a saint with our children and we are blessed beyond words to have him. Our needed goal is $30,000 and we are far from it. Whatever you can spare $10, $50, $100 ... is much appreciated and benefits so many.

TAX-DEDUCTABl E DONATIONS can be made online at http://www.northshorewranglers.org

Blessings,

Taylor’s Grandmother

________

 

Last month was homecoming for WHS. My son and friends went to a bowling alley and then to an indoor trampoline center to celebrate.

My hubby and I went to dinner in Redmond. There we ran into two party bus loads of WHS students. Funny thing is, none were planning on attending the dance either. We have found that the music and style of dance is unacceptable to a large percentage of our kids and that’s a shame. Many of these kids would like to dance but can’t stand the raunchy music and shameless grinding that is found there. Oh, I know what you’re thinking…"that’s what our parents said of our dances!" Have you been to a high school dance in the last decade? We used to chaperone many dances at WHS and Leota but found that we were so discouraged and saddened by what we saw and felt so helpless to stop it and effectively create a change for the better, that we quit.

Rules at the dances are not enforced. Chaperones stand by with their hands in their pockets looking lost and useless. Occasionally, a good song will get played and the floor will suddenly become full of dancing kids but then the rap crap starts again and most of the kids leave the floor. At one dance, we saw a 9th grader lift her dress high while twerking her tush into the crouch of a very excited boy – while her mother was watching! The mother was smiling and said, "Isn’t she cute?!"

So what can we do about it? I know … a lot of kids like that (nasty) music. So maybe we mix it up more? Or have themed dances based on music genre? If I had the funds, I would open a dance club where teenagers could come for some good, clean fun.

It would be local and affordable and have enforced rules! It would have free dance lessons for those who showed up early.  (Swing, Ballroom, Salsa, Country Line dancing, etc.) It would have chaperones who cared about kids. I know that many will disagree or just don’t care, and for you kids who like to bump and grind – it’s not all about you.

Tina Sander, Woodinville

__________

 

Regarding the front page story, "City Seeks to Ban Panhandling ...," rather than finding ways to sweep away panhandlers, perhaps we ought to be looking at ways of protecting the homeless through the hard winter for the short term, with a longer view toward ensuring none of our citizens need to beg for money or food. As already stated within the article, laws currently exist to curb harassment and similar illegal activity.

Until we are ready to create a pilot program for eliminating homelessness in our city, let’s avoid legislation that ignores our poorest citizens and criminalizes their search for aid. In the meantime, you can save lives this winter by donating sleeping bags at Northgate P&R on November 16 from noon-4 p.m.

Raven J. Demers

__________

I feel compelled to speak on behalf of the homeless folks who wind up on the streets and those facing insurmountable social, economic or emotional obstacles.

I too have, "taken inventory," but with a very different outcome. I’ve discovered that the circumstances that brought the panhandlers here to Woodinville are all quite unique, and the only commonality is that they enjoy no advantages over us with lovely homes, cars and a secure life free of fear and anxiety.

For many years my husband and I have been acquainted with the man who carries the sign pictured in your article. He is an interesting, warm-hearted fellow who happens to face some mental and physical disabilities. I would describe him as chronically homeless rather than,  a "professional panhandler" or someone with a bankable income. 

During a terrible snow storm a couple of years back, my husband gave the man a ride to the non-running van he was living in at the time. This rig provided shelter but it did not have a source of heat. He needed blankets and warm food and clothing. (Since that time, because he was not able to move the van off of the city street, it was impounded and towed away. ) He does have a name and a story and I wish I could tell you more of his, but out of respect for him, I will not.

I hope those who have been annoyed by the presence of homeless folks and panhandlers will count your many blessings and discover instead a spirit of kindness and compassion.

Yes, our First Amendment can sometimes include inconveniences but I believe it is our moral imperative to tolerate free speech.

Kathryn Johnson, Woodinville

__________

I would like to give a very public kudos to my hard-working, enthusiastic and energetic NYSA U-9 boys team — the Stingers. Each year I find the boys teaching me more than I could ever hope to impart. Our roster this year included Casey Holling, Hayden Burgess, Jackie Flamer, Rafael Luanava, Reece Mustarde, Robert Hoagland, Sinclair Jones and Xavier Graziano. Congratulations Stingers on another exciting, winning season!

Coach Kathryn Holling, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - Oct. 21, 2013

  • Written by Readers

We all have a right to know what we are eating and when our food has been adulterated.

Monsanto has never fully proven the safety of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) seeds. They claim there is no significant difference between GMO seeds and conventional ones, but they also patent them at the same time. There is no ability to contain GMO seeds from contaminating other fields. A recent find of GMO wheat plants growing in Oregon (a variety that was never allowed on the market, but had been tested in Oregon a decade prior) is just one example of this inability to contain them.

Birds, squirrels and wind easily spread these seeds far and wide. One thing we do know for sure is that plants grown from GMO seeds will contain a large quantity of pesticides. That is the one thing these seeds were designed to do. Unfortunately, it also creates super weeds and bugs that are tolerant of these high levels of pesticides. 

Farmers using pesticides like RoundUp are advised to wear suits to spray the pesticides, yet we are told that it is safe to eat. The No on I-522 campaign has been claiming that requiring manufacturers to label their food products will cause increases in food prices. These same manufacturers manage to have a new label for every holiday. All one needs to do is visit a grocery store right now to see all the Halloween packaging.

The Green Party of Snohomish County endorses a Yes vote on I-522.

Debbie Shapiro, Officer at Large - Green Party of Snohomish County

I read B-Z Davis’ response to my recent letter to the editor with a smile on my face. B-Z should know, as a former school board member, that the most significant effect on public school enrollment is new housing development, not full-day kindergarten or smaller class sizes. It was on her watch that the district changed boundaries and moved hundreds of students around to try and manage the lopsided effect of new housing development. Northshore is not to blame for this situation; it’s a function of the Urban Growth Boundary, an outcome of the State Growth Management Act.

Development is restricted in the eastern part of the district, but as an attractive place to live, demand for homes has increased and the supply of those homes is only allowed in the north and west parts of the school district. We’ve all seen the explosion of new home construction happening now that there is more confidence in the economy. I’ve seen large developments nearing completion but nowhere near the eastern part of the district where development is restricted. District decision makers need to do the right thing and not wait for circumstances to "be assessed in the future." Delaying a decision and keeping parents in the dark as long as possible is not the responsible action to take. District leaders need to begin a public process to engage parents, staff and community members in the tough decisions that need to be made. Then there will be a clear roadmap between now and the "circumstances as they evolve." This makes sense.

Susan Stoltzfus, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - Oct. 14, 2013

  • Written by Readers

The 10 minute later start implemented this year by NSD was appreciated by PALS as a small "step in the right direction."

However, as many of you are aware, this did not automatically translate to more time for students, as buses were on the same or in some cases earlier, pick up schedules than last year. 

Although times of pick up are getting better, this does not mean 7.20 a.m. is the right start time for students in high school.

The school board agrees with all the statistics that have been provided by PALS over the years to support later start. However, it all comes down to money. As transportation will now be fully funded by the state within the next year it will free up levy dollars that have been used to support transportation.

Therefore wouldn’t this be the right time to put at least some of those levy dollars back into transportation?

In order to have high schools start later without affecting junior high or elementary schools, transportation needs to be adequate for the population it transports.

This is not the case within NSD, who have reduced transportation funds over the last few years leaving this district with less buses and more children to transport than any other district. Transportation is an important part of the educational process and should be treated with the priority it deserves.

If you would like to see a later start for high school then please support our petition on Change.org Northshore School Board Start Later.

PALS Representatives Wendy Reynolds, Annette  Whelan, K. Van Til

It was with interest that I read Susan Stoltzfus letter regarding school capacity in Northshore.

I initially shared her concerns regarding grade reconfiguration and how that might impact some of our smaller elementary schools.  I was pleased to see the Board  addressed this concern in adopting resolution 680 at their June board meeting.

This resolution speaks to the overcrowded schools in the northern part of the district. 

It also recognizes the under capacity in some of our elementary schools.  It goes on to encompass the state Legislature’s revised definition of basic education to include universal full-day kindergarten and K-3 class size reduction. The McCleary ruling makes this mandatory by 2018. 

These considerations, individually and collectively will impact our elementaries in ways that we cannot foresee at this time, and makes talking about school closures possibly premature.

Superintendent Larry Francois recommended to the Board that school closures not be a part of the current plan to pursue a new high school and grade reconfiguration, but that the possibility of closure be assessed in the future as circumstances evolve. This makes sense.

A new high school in the north end of the district; along with grade reconfiguration creates a long term solution to an ever increasing need.

Get more information at www.nsd.org.

Please support our schools in the 2014 levy/bond election.

B-Z Davis – Citizens for Northshore schools co-chair

Jodi Spitalli, the fantastic Outdoor Curriculum Specialist at Woodinville Family Preschool, will be leaving the preschool, effective  October 31.

Jodi has a unique opportunity to move with her family to a beautiful property on Orcas Island.

Jodi became part of the Woodinville Family Preschool staff in 2008.  Through her resourcefulness and hard work with others in our community, we have renovated our playground to a natural play space.  Through her dedication and singular persistence, we have achieved certification as a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. 

In addition, Jodi has been a source of comfort and friendship to hundreds of children and a mentor and shoulder to cry on for hundreds of parents. 

For our staff, she has been a joy to work with — compassionate, caring, funny, and a visionary for what can be accomplished at Woodinville Family Preschool. 

Jodi will be missed in so many ways, big and small.

If Jodi has been part of your parenting journey or your time at Woodinville Family Preschool and you wish to share a memory or photo, please send to Jodi Spitalli, c/o Woodinville Family Preschool, PO Box 125, Woodinville, WA  98072

Cecile Culp Mielenz, Ph.D., LMHC, Director, Woodinville Family Preschool

As a first-time council candidate, people want to know my priorities and how I will make decisions for Woodinville.

I know that many people will offer advice, hoping to convince me of one policy or another. And, of course, I will listen to all of them, even those attacking me currently.

It is the only way to get past the gridlock that has taken hold of the council.

Ultimately, however, I will have two guides: my sons. Every decision will focus on how it affects their future in our community.

I am not a politician. I don’t have years of political obligations and constraints to live up to.

I do have a family and Woodinville is our home. I will work to make sure it stays a great place for my sons.

I want to work to ensure Woodinville remains a jewel of our state.

I do not want to see our home become another cookie cutter city with mega chain restaurants and big box retailers, but instead a lush tourist village with craft eateries and artisan shops.

Our "wine pioneers" who draw so many to our area deserve to have our support and infrastructure to continue to make Woodinville a premier destination for wine, spirits and food.

I live in Woodinville with my wife, who is a speech therapist for Northshore School District, and our two young sons.

We are very proud to live in the area and to call Woodinville our home!

I have promised my family, friends and neighbors to serve the city with an open mind and with the understanding that while I will not always agree with those I will serve with, their voice is just as important as mine, and their message deserves to be heard.

Brad Walker, Woodinville City Council Candidate - Position 7

Wow! It’s election season for the hamlet of Woodinville and this time around I find a need to wear rubber gloves just to pick up and handle my mail.

A weekly attack on Mayor Talmas has now invaded the postal system.

Packed with so much slime  that one needs to bathe before going on with the day, these hit pieces use lies about the mayor in order to give a back door endorsement to the person running against him.

This unethical anonymous group,  seems to feel that the mayor’s attempt to get at the truth of a council member’s residency, is a big deal.

Folks, it’s really not. The mayor did not contract anyone to follow the council member in question.

I think even that council member  gets that. That same council member probably also realizes that all he needed to do at this infamous council meeting, was to correctly give his address to all, showing that he was indeed a legitimate resident of Woodinville. He did not do that.

Now, in this election season, we the citizens have our mailboxes polluted with some of the meanest mailers I’ve seen in my lifetime.

The mailers can only appeal to a segment of the voting public who have not taken the time to really look at the issues.

Don’t be manipulated into an ignorant fervor against an incumbent.

Please look into this election.

The future of our city is at stake.

The truth of the matter is that Mayor Talmas is not only a good and decent man, he may also be one of the greatest mayors this city has been fortunate to have.

A quick look at his web site would show any thinking voter how much he has done for all of us.

He has earned the respect of all major parties and those endorsements are a good measure of the man who represents all of us not only locally but regionally and state wide.

Personally I believe that all of our council members are underpaid, under perked and overworked.

That said, Mayor Talmas’ commitment to the city of Woodinville has been enormous, his accomplishments many and is the primary reason for re-electing him to the Woodinville City Council

Steve Maloney, Woodinville