Better mapping for geological risks


In response to the Oso mudslide that killed 43 people in Snohomish County a year ago, the Legislature passed a bill to expand the state’s use of LiDAR mapping to document geological hazards. Senate Bill 5088 was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. LiDAR is a high-tech, highly accurate way to measure topography, exposing underlying risks of unstable soils.


A Mason County man was sentenced last week to serve 30 days in jail stemming from his use of a backhoe to fill and alter the course of the Tahuya River in 2013. The state Attorney General’s Office said William Cayo Sr. also was fined $8,143, put on probation and is subject to a restitution hearing in June for the somewhat unusual criminal prosecution for violating water and shoreline acts, and other violations. We hope the case serves as a deterrent to others tempted to bypass environmental protections.


Ricardo’s, the Lacey steakhouse, is outgrowing its Lacey Boulevard home and plans to move into a larger space at Woodland Square near Huntamer Park late this fall. This is a welcome boost for Lacey’s Woodland District, whose character is transforming from an office district situated west of city hall into a better mix of activities. Construction of South Puget Sound Community College’s new satellite campus is under way in the same area that one day may feel a lot more like a downtown.


The downsizing that lies ahead for Joint Base Lewis McChord could lead to more noisy interruptions coming from the military base northeast of Lacey. That is because soldiers who have traveled to the Yakima Training Center in Eastern Washington may do more training closer to base. One exercise last month featured infantry fire from mortar launches as well as cannons and attack helicopters. It might be annoying but we can be thankful Yakima took a turn at bearing this unavoidable cost of a prepared military.


The purchase of 4.5 acres of land on Olympia’s west side by Alicia Elliot is credited with helping to preserve the city’s lone great blue heron rookery. The birds are back this year, nesting at the end of Dickinson Street as they have done for more than 40 years. Elliott’s land buy in late 2014 was key, but townhouse developer Glenn Wells has also been very patient, and is revising his development plans. Spearheading the habitat protection was a new group, the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation, led by Dan Einstein.


Eight insurance companies that sold health policies through the state exchange have agreed to stop providing misleading information about contraceptives coverage. The Affordable Care Act requires policies to cover all federally approved contraception without co-pays or co-insurance, but a “secret shopper” phone survey by pro-choice groups including NARAL last year found the insurers were giving misleading or false information about that coverage.

The insurers agreed to change practices when Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler complained.