May 31st marked the last day for Woodinville Fire & Rescue’s interim fire chief, Mark Risen.
In December 2012, Risen replaced WF&R Deputy Chief Mark Chubb who held the position of interim fire chief until the department could find a replacement after former chief I. David Daniels was ousted in August 2011. The department has had a series of troubles with fire chiefs dating back to 2005.
In a quick six months, Risen successfully completed the final piece of the department’s internal reorganization plan, negotiated the ongoing Bothell annexation plans to conclusion with the City of Bothell and neighboring agencies, recommended new policies, procedures and agreements to the fire department’s board and brokered several agreements with the department’s labor groups, according to Tim Osgood, current chair of WF&R’s Board of Fire Commissioners.
Risen quickly identified his primary goals when taking on the job.
"My first goal was to start rebuilding communication and trust within the organization. Without that in place, you cannot make any progress. Secondary to that was taking a good look at the immediate issues facing the District: annexation, the next chief and labor contracts," he explained.
"Chief Risen’s tenure was marked with poise, professionalism and establishing a new direction for our department," Osgood said, adding, "Although our existing staff and outgoing fire chief were working diligently on many of these things prior to Chief Risen’s arrival, he made such efficient use of his time that he has spent his last few weeks monitoring the new systems and staffing in place, making certain that we’re headed in the right direction."
Asked if he felt he’d accomplished the goals he’d set for the department, Risen said, "I believe we made outstanding progress, and all of it was accomplished by establishing trusting relationships with administrative staff, the labor group and the City of Bothell."
Risen will return to the Bellevue Fire Department and reprise his position of Deputy Chief of Operations.
Woodinville’s new partnership with the City of Bothell Fire and EMS will allow both agencies to consolidate staff and resources and begin the process to regionalize emergency services over a larger area.
This process begins with the notable decision to share the position of fire chief between the two departments.
(See front page story, Woodinville Weekly, June 3 or visit www.nwnews.com).
Photo by Shannon Michael. Avennia’s winemaker Chris Peterson (right), with the help of his sous chef Lauren Smith, put the finishing touches on their salmon entree for the fourth annual Iron Vintner Challenge at Willows Lodge on June 5. The pair went on to win the first round challenge. A rare 80-degree June day in the region complemented the perfect setting in the courtyard at Willows Lodge for the first round of the fourth annual Iron Vintner Challenge on June 5.
Avennia’s winemaker Chris Peterson was squaring off against DiStefano Winery’s winemaker Tracey La Pierre in a head-to-head cooking competition, benefitting Willow Lodge’s charity of choice, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center.
Attendees were greeted with a choice of a red or white wine from the evening’s winery competitors, Avennia and DiStefano. The Barking Frog’s Mobile Kitchen provided an array of food offerings that paired well with the wines.
The evening included observing the guest chefs learning their secret protein was salmon, followed by an intense hour of food preparation before presenting their appetizers and entrees to judges Holly Smith, chef/owner of Café Juanita; Julien Perry, editor of Eater Seattle; and Ian MacNeil, founder of Glass Vodka Distillery.
Holly Smith was excited to be a part of the evening’s competition. "I love working with winemakers because they already have such a developed palate that when they dine at Café Juanita, they appreciate the work I do – maybe even more than I do myself," she said.
Peterson, while playing down his cooking skills as mediocre at best, said, "I’m here because I wanted to help a good cause."
La Pierre was nervous before the event began. "I’m great in the winery making wines, but I’m not great in the kitchen," she said. On hand to help her was DiStefano owner Mark Newton who inspired her to enter the competition.
Winning the coveted first round event was Peterson, who was accompanied in the makeshift kitchen by his sous chef, Lauren Smith. They won the event by just one point.
A benefit auction, with offerings of magnums of wine from local wineries, a day in the kitchen with Holly Smith at her restaurant, a bottle of Glass Distillery Vodka, plus a guest package at Willows Lodge, helped raise funds for the riding center’s operational budget.
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center recently moved to Dunmire Stables in Redmond. While they currently have 200 riders in their program, they have set a goal to double that number so more can benefit from the positive effects of riding therapy.
There are three more challenge events scheduled. Lisa Baer of Baer Winery will face off against Tyson Schiffner of Betz Winery for the second round of competition on June 12.
The championship round on June 19 will feature round one winner Chris Peterson competing with the winner of the second round.
Then, on June 26, Barking Frog will host the Championship Winemaker Dinner. The restaurant’s executive chef, Bobby Moore, who is emceeing the first three competitions, will put down the microphone to prepare a four-course meal featuring the winning appetizer and entrée along with wine pairings from the participating Challenge winemakers.
Tickets and additional information for the remaining events for this year’s Iron Vintner Challenge can be found by visiting Willow Lodge’s website: www.willowslodge.com.
Bothell’s fire chief and deputy fire chief of operations will now serve Woodinville as well as Bothell, in a new partnership between the two cities’ fire departments.
David Weed, community services officer for Woodinville Fire & Rescue, said the change won’t affect the service the community receives; it will only affect administration.
“There really isn’t a difference,” Weed said. “Whether you’re a fire chief of a three-station department or a seven-station department, it’s the same responsibilities, so it’s a very easy transition ... The citizens of Bothell and Woodinville aren’t going to notice any changes.”
As of June 1, Bob Van Horne, fire chief for Bothell, and Jim Roepke, deputy chief of operations for Bothell, will also serve Woodinville. Greg Ahearn was appointed deputy chief of administration for Woodinville.
Van Horne started working for the Renton Fire Department in 1981 and moved up the ranks to deputy chief. In 2009, he became fire chief for Bothell. He’s confident this new partnership will let the department maintain good service and perhaps improve.
“In this economy, we’re going to see that this consolidation will provide as good or better service to the communities,” he said.
The partnership will save money since each city will only pay half of the salary for the shared positions. Already, Woodinville and Bothell often respond to fires together.
“I’m going to try to treat the department as one as often as possible, especially for operations,” Van Horne said. But the administrative side — including budgets and policies — will still be different for the two departments. Roepke, who has worked with the Bothell Fire Department for 26 years and been deputy chief of operations for the past three years, said the two fire departments will merge their training divisions and manage calls together, which will further help them be more efficient without duplicating positions or resources.
“The biggest change is just with call volume when you’re moving from three stations to six stations,” Roepke said. “So your span has doubled.”
Other communities already have similar administrative partnerships, Weed said, such as Eastside Fire & Rescue, which consolidated the fire departments of Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish and several other cities.
Greg Ahearn, the new deputy fire chief of administration, has worked for Woodinville Fire & Rescue since 1983. He became a lieutenant in 1993 and a battalion chief in 2010. His main goal as deputy chief of administration is efficient operation of the administrative section, as well as supporting response operation.
“I’m honored to have been chosen and looking forward to serving in my new capacity,” Ahearn said. The partnership between the Woodinville and Bothell fire departments will last two years, Van Horne said, although it could be canceled before then or extended longer.
It’s a way for Woodinville Fire & Rescue to try out a consolidation plan temporarily. If the fire department decides to consolidate, it won’t have to worry about firing a full-time chief.
Earl “Coss” CosseyWayland Cossey, son of murder victim Earl “Coss” Cossey, met with the media last week to ask for the person to come forward who found the identification belonging to his dad and mailed it back to his house. The family has offered a $1,000 reward if the person who found the identification and credit cards will contact the police and tell them where the items were found.
The lead detective in the case, Jake Pavlovich, said the person can remain anonymous. He said the finder can mail a letter to him with a handwritten note describing where the items were found. Detectives will use handwriting from the original letter to verify the mailer is the same person who mailed the found items.
During Wayland’s interview he also expressed how important it was to the family that the suspect to be caught. He said over time the family would forgive the person who murdered his dad, but they needed the case to be solved to help them move on.
Many details of the case are being withheld while the investigation is being conducted. Detective Pavlovich said, “Some of the details of this case are known only by the suspect and the detectives working the case. We want to hold those details back until we have our suspect(s) in custody.”
The Sheriff’s Office is asking the person who found Cossey’s identification and credit cards and mailed them back to his address to please call Sgt. Cindi West with the King County Sheriff’s Office at (206) 263-2560 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or mail a letter to Sgt. West at 516 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98104-2312.
Surveillance cameras will soon be used in Woodinville in the hopes of catching repeat offenders to reduce the crime rate, despite residents’ concerns about privacy.
The City Council approved the program with a 5-1 vote at its May 21 meeting, with only Mayor Bernie Talmas voting against it. Councilmember Paulette Bauman was absent.
Police Chief Sydney Jackson said the cameras would be used only in public places, likely at major intersections or portals to the city, and signs will be put up notifying the public of the cameras. The recordings would be used to investigate and prosecute specific crimes after they’ve been reported.
“Criminals don’t just commit one crime,” Jackson said. “If we’re able to use video technology to identify a suspect, that’s one less crime ... They’re not going to be in the city committing another crime.”
She cited the example of a local restaurant that caught a burglar with its private surveillance camera. The suspect was charged with crimes — which all involved cutting alarm wires and drilling into safes — in several cities, as well as arson. He’s now serving a 10-year prison sentence.
The video recorded by Woodinville’s cameras would not be used for general surveillance of the public, issuing traffic citations, tracking civil violations, identifying individuals through face-recognition technology, or proactive (constant) monitoring. License plate readers might be used to identify vehicles associated with a crime.
“We are not going to be proactively monitoring video,” Jackson said. “If we’re looking at video, it’s because we’re actively involved in an investigation and looking for evidence.”
The number of cameras, their locations, when they will be installed, and the company that will provide the cameras haven’t been decided yet, she said.
The City Council and the chamber of commerce used three surveys to gauge public opinion about the security cameras — one at a chamber of commerce meeting and two online. Out of a total of 359 responses to the survey, 43 percent (155 respondents) supported the cameras and 57 percent (204 residents) opposed them. (Jackson noted there’s no way to tell if the online responses came from people who live in Woodinville, although the survey could only be taken once from a certain device.)
“It is very disappointing that the city of Woodinville did not listen to their citizens,” said Susan Milke, who’s lived in Woodinville for more than 20 years. “Is there something else going on that we don’t know about?”
Although she frequently shops in Woodinville, she plans to take her business to neighboring cities instead to protest the cameras. She also thinks city officials need to clarify details about the security cameras before the public can form an opinion.
“We need to know when they’re going up, where they’re going up, who’s going to be monitoring them, etc.,” she said. “They haven’t given us enough information to approve or disapprove.”
Video from the surveillance cameras will only be stored for 30 days. However, anyone can obtain the video through an open records request.
The budget for the cameras is $55,000 — dramatically less than the $180,000 to $185,000 yearly cost of a deputy police officer. But Jackson said there’s no data to prove security cameras deter crime.
According to a 2011 study by the Urban Institute, surveillance cameras are most effective when they are constantly monitored — which Woodinville doesn’t plan to do.
Baltimore, where the cameras were monitored live, reported a drop in crime, according to the study. In Chicago, one neighborhood saw a reduction in crime rates after cameras were installed, but in another neighborhood, where residents believed police weren’t monitoring cameras closely, the crime rate stayed the same. In Washington, D.C., where there were strict rules for monitoring the cameras, the crime rate didn’t change. Although it’s “not a clear-cut issue,” Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders voted to approve the surveillance cameras because she felt the anecdotal evidence of residents who wanted cameras outweighed the “philosophical concerns” of those opposed to the cameras.
“I think the fear about Big Brother is certainly sincere, but I think the concern is hypothetical,” she said. “The burglaries, the bank robberies, the murders that are apparently associated with burglaries, are real.” Many people don’t realize the camera surveillance program was driven by requests from citizens living in areas of Woodinville with high crime rates, Boundy-Sanders said. The privacy concerns, on the other hand, have come from parts of town with low crime.
She pointed out that the cameras wouldn’t necessarily be used in downtown; instead, they might be used in the industrial district — which has a problem with metal theft — or in specific neighborhoods with high crime. Councilmember Scott Hageman told about a personal experience — his car window was smashed and his briefcase stolen outside of Target — that made him wish surveillance cameras were monitoring crime. He wants to see Woodinville use the cameras on a trial basis.
“Being on the wrong end of a criminal act is something that I don’t want to subject our citizens to,” he said. “If we can do this in a smart way, in a limited way, and in a way that is not intrusive, and with signage, then I would like to see this go forward.”
Dotty Heberling, owner of Northshore Sports Complex, installed her own security camera after her cash register was broken into three times in a month. Three days after installing the camera, she saw the suspect stealing again and, with the help of police, caught him.
Still, she doesn’t support the city putting up surveillance cameras.
“In my situation, it wouldn’t have helped. I think individuals need to have their own cameras,” she said. “To me, it seems kind of strange that the city would put up cameras when there are so many more important issues.” Mayor Talmas said he was also the victim of a burglary recently, but “would not give up my privacy rights for the purpose of catching whoever did it ... On behalf of the public, I don’t want to give up or compromise the public’s privacy rights for any benefit we might get out of this. I think the benefits — the potential benefits — are too tenuous to give up our right to privacy.”
The demonstration of the security cameras, in which a camera outside of City Hall gave a clear enough picture to identify girls playing soccer on the nearby sports fields, made him uncomfortable, he said. “Another more practical consideration for us is that we’re a small city; we run a big litigation risk,” he said. “... I’d hate to have Woodinville be a target of the ACLU or any other organization and have us in court for years over this.”
In fact, the ACLU contacted Woodinville to express its concern when the City Council first started discussing surveillance cameras.
Jamela Debelak, technology and liberty director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state, said Woodinville has “gone through the process the right way” by seeking public input and hopes the city will include policies to protect privacy, such as regulations for who will have access to the recordings.
But the possibility of “mission creep” makes her cautious. “We don’t frequently know how government is using the data they collect ...We don’t really know if they’re being used for any other purpose.”
Although Woodinville has the opportunity to create regulations that will balance crime prevention with privacy, Talmas is concerned that policies could change under future leaders.
“Whenever any group or organization in power makes these kinds of decisions, they’re always made with the best of intentions, but as someone pointed out, people on the boards and commissions and departments change, and it’s difficult to control something like this once it’s out there.”