State asks for Maury Island mining halt
The State Commissioner of Public Lands is asking Northwest Aggregates to halt, at least for now, gravel mining operations on Maury Island permitted under state land lease. He is concerned with the company’s ability to protect Puget Sound waters from environmental damage.
“After a thorough review of the lease, I
am not confident that NW Aggregate will be able to comply with the lease in a way that is consistent with both the objectives of the aquatic reserve and the clean-up and recovery of Puget Sound,” Commissioner Peter Goldmark said in a statement. “It is not clear how, or if, NW Aggregate will implement and monitor actions to ensure compliance within the existing lease.”
The lease for access across state land to extract the gravel was issued by Goldmark’s predecessor, Doug Sutherland, and played a prominent part in last November’s election debates. So the request from Department of Natural Resources was not unexpected.
DNR is asking for additional documentation and plans to show this mining activity can be carried out with due regard for “protection, preservation and restoration of the important ecosystem in lease area for the entire lease term.”
Online resource for Olympics visitors
Washington State Tourism is making it easy for travelers to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to enjoy a complete Northwest experience by visiting Washington.
A new Web page includes idea-generating travel itineraries, border-crossing information and other resources to ensure travelers can make the most of their trip as they travel to and from the 2010 Winter Games.
“Washington’s travel industry is an important piece of our state’s economic engine,” said Rogers Weed, director of the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. “In 2008 alone, travelers in Washington spent $15.7 billion, and we plan to take advantage of the global spotlight on the Pacific Northwest next winter in order to spur more tourism following the Winter Games.”
Visitors to the site can explore the countless attractions that are accessible from Vancouver and from major portals for 2010 Winter Games-bound travelers, including SeaTac International Airport, Interstate 5 and Interstate 90. For more information, visit ExperienceWA.com.
State ranks fifth for teen jobs this year
New employment data has confirmed what economists feared – the bad economy and increasing federal minimum wage have had a disastrous effect on teens looking for jobs this summer.
Washington ranks fifth in the country in teen unemployment. The state’s teen unemployment rate was 29.7 percent in May, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Washington’s overall unemployment rate was 9.4 percent. By comparison, the state’s overall unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in May 2008. Unemployment in Washington increased by over 84 percent in just one year.
The latest employment data continues to show an increase in lack of jobs for America’s teens, which reached the highest rate in 17 years this spring and continued to climb over the summer. The teen unemployment rate is currently at 24 percent, a nearly 12 percent increase from earlier this summer and 2.5 times the national unemployment rate. African American teen unemployment is at 37.9 percent, four times the national unemployment rate. Nationwide African American teen unemployment has increased by over 27 percent in one year.
“The unintended consequence of the federal minimum wage hike is pricing some employees out of the workforce, and based on the recent unemployment data, it’s teens – minority teens, especially – who are getting hit the hardest,” said Kristen Lopez Eastlick, senior research analyst for the Employment Policies Institute.
Summer months have historically been a time when teenagers flock to entry-level employment opportunities and in doing so, gain valuable job skills that increase their chance of successfully entering the adult workforce.
“A job for a young employee is a chance to gain important skills and learn the invisible curriculum that comes from being employed,” Eastlick said. “Unfortunately, many teens were denied the chance to learn skills that come with having a first job this summer because of an auto pilot wage increase coming on top of shrinking business profits.”
Tacoma is ‘stronger’ in weak hotel market
The latest data on Washington’s hotel occupancy during the month of May showed Tacoma and Pierce County as the only sub-markets in the state that did not see a drop in its average daily room rate.
The month’s comparison to 2008 was just 0.5 percent up, but in comparison to the statewide average 4 percent drop in this measurement, the South Sound stands out. Statewide, Average Daily Rate was down 13.8 percent. At the same time, the average rate of $82.28 in the greater South Sound is less than half the $171.38 downtown Seattle price.
Wolfgang Rood Hospitality Consulting tabulates this data monthly for Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Both those other states also showed decreases in visitors taking hotel or motel rooms, with Oregon suffering the most so far.
DSHS stops boarding home admissions
The state Department of Social and Health Services officials ordered that Living Hope Care Center, a Tacoma boarding home, stop accepting new residents. They also revoked the license of My Grandma’s House LLC, a privately operated adult family home elsewhere in Tacoma.
Living Hope is licensed to Joyce Adult Family Home LLC. My Grandma’s House is licensed to Cynthia Blancaflor.
The state took the action against Living Hope after reporteldy finding numerous violations that jeopardized the safety and well-being of residents. The violations included lapses in resident care and staff training, as well as failure to follow safe smoking practices.
My Grandma’s House reportedly failed to meet the financial obligations required to own and operate a business resulting in an abrupt closure of the home with five current residents. The residents were reportedly at immediate risk of homelessness and the lack of shelter, food, care and services. This is a repeat deficiency that was first noted in mid-2008.
Some developers in Pierce County have delayed projects until market conditions improve, so county planners are taking steps to help those developers keep from losing their original investment in fees and applications.
Pierce County Public Works and Utilities announced that the sewer permit extension window that expired June 30 has been extended again, this time through the rest of the year. The action allows all sewer applications, approved plans and permits that would expire by the end of the year will remain valid for another year.
The original policy change applied only to sewer applications that would have expired before July 1. Now those that will expire by the end of the year are also eligible for the one-year extension.
More than 40 percent of all Quadrant homes sold since January went to military families, the company said. With locations near the South Sound’s numerous military posts, convenience is a key reason military buyers choose to buy.
“We have always been military-friendly but with current lending regulations and the availability of VA financing, we have seen more interest from military families,” said Brent Howard, director of sales for Quadrant.
Because military personnel are often stationed multiple time zones away, the company’s streamlined buying and construction processes take uncertainty out of home buying. Overseas service members can electronically sign a purchase-and-sale agreement and remain up to date on each stage of the construction process through Web updates.
The builder’s 54-day construction schedule also allows military families to better plan for move-in dates, when they return home from military assignments.
More cleanup coming to Fife, Milton
Work is about to begin on the next phase of cleanup for the B & L Woodwaste site near the border of Milton and Fife in Pierce County.
Construction starts this month on an underground barrier wall to keep contaminated soils and groundwater from leaching out of the former landfill. In the fall, a groundwater treatment system will begin operating to treat contamination in groundwater in the nearby wetland.
The landfill was used in the 1970s and 1980s to dispose of arsenic-laden slag from Asarco and woodwaste from log sorting yards. The Environmental Protection Agency identified the site and it to its National Priorities List in 1982.