Thumbs up: Beach Cleanup
More than 100 volunteers recently boarded a small flotilla of boats and headed for southern Puget Sound where they combed the shoreline for chunks of Styrofoam, tires, oyster bags and other marine debris that washed ashore this winter on South Sound beaches. They scoured more than 100 miles of beach as part of the twice-annual South Sound beach cleanup sponsored by the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. What a great project. The volunteers and sponsors of the cleanup deserve community praise. The anti-litter campaign started seven years ago by commercial shellfish growers to collect debris. Past tallies reveal that more than 80 percent of the volume of debris collected each cleanup has not been from shellfish farms. This year, the boats and their crews from 10 shellfish farms, the Squaxin Island Tribe, state Department of Natural Resources, Manke Lumber Co., Pacific Shellfish Institute and the Surf Riders Foundation, were assigned stretches of beaches on the inlets, islands and bays of Mason, Thurston and Pierce counties where commercial shellfish operations are concentrated. Beth Rossow, a waterfront resident near Arcadia Point for 33 years, said, “Some of this stuff is just too big for individual homeowners to pick up off the beach.” In the past six years, the beach cleanup crews have gathered nearly 720 cubic yards of debris, including more than 1,000 tires that were recycled with funding from the state Department of Ecology. This is a terrific project that enhances the shoreline for visitors and homeowners, too.
Thumbs down: Firings
The three men who were hailed as heroes by Spokane’s mayor and police chief for finding a bomb and reporting it to police say they lost their jobs for their actions that day. The three men were employed by Labor Ready and working under contract for the Spokane Public Facilities District on Jan. 17, when they came upon a backpack and discovered the bomb that was placed along the route of the annual march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Mark Steiner, Brandon Klaus and Sherman Welpton said they were “chewed out” for their actions by officials from Labor Ready and the facilities district and that they were “let go” soon after. “For the first two days, basically all we did was get chewed out. We did this wrong. We did that wrong,” Steiner told KHQ. “I don’t know what you consider calling 911 wrong after two minutes after we found it.” Labor Ready officials deny the accusation. “We’ve certainly not fired them or fired them as a result of them finding the bomb,” said Stacey Burke, Labor Ready spokeswoman. “In fact, we really appreciate their swift action and the fact they notified the right authorities immediately.” The three workers stand by their version, saying they were dismissed. Kevin Twohig, CEO of the facilities district, said that workers were not disciplined by the district. He did say that there was concern that “they were messing around with the bomb. I think they put themselves at more risk than they needed,” Twohig said. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner had it right in her State of the City address earlier when she said, “They did not ignore what they thought was suspicious, and many of us owe them our lives.”
Thumbs up: League
The Junior League of Olympia a week ago staged its annual “Every Child Matters” gala auction and part of the fundraising effort raised $19,150 to replace the aging playground equipment at Madison Elementary School. What a great effort that leaves the Junior League just $10,000 short of its fundraising goal. The school is turning to local Rotary clubs, area churches, writing grant applications and planning a penny drive at the Olympia elementary school to push fundraising efforts over the top, according to Katya Miltimore, coordinator of the Madison playground project. “When I started on this project two and a half months ago, my vision was to alert as many members of the local community as possible to the plight of the play equipment at Madison and also the fundraising challenges we routinely face because of the demographic we serve – 60 percent of the students are on the free and reduced lunch program (twice the district average) and 16 percent are homeless students,” Miltimore said. “We reached out to everyone in the community and at this point we have been able to raise 70 percent of the project costs from local funders and from our collaboration with Olympia School District. And there probably will be more local funding coming our way. I think this in itself is an outstanding story.” We agree. Given the early success of the fundraising effort, it probably won’t be long until the great students at Madison are enjoying much-needed new playground equipment, thanks to the cooperation of the school district, the generosity of the community and the work of the Junior League of Olympia.