Friday, April 27, 2012

WA Aviation Industry soars in the last decade

Did you know there are 135 public-use airports all across Washington? We bet your also wondering just how these airports support and contribute to Washington’s economy, aren’t you? Well, listen up, folks, because we’ve got news for you!

The recently released 2012 Aviation Economic Impact Study conducted by the Aviation Division of the Washington State Dept. of Transportation provides us with an in-depth look at the economic benefits of our public-use airports.

Photo credit: Magnus Manske
  • About 248,500 jobs, $15.3 billion in wages and $50.9 billion in economic activity are created by statewide commercial and general aviation activity in Washington.
  • Many small aviation facilities provide much-needed access to life-saving medical air transport, disaster management, as well as support when a wildfire occurs.
  • More than $540 million in tax revenue is directed into Washington’s General Fund annually.
  • Cities, special purpose districts and counties receive about $243 million in annual tax revenue, as well.

At the time of the last study in 2001, this same industry was responsible for only 171,300 jobs, a little more than $4 billion in wages and $18.5 billion in annual sales.

To read more about the study, click here.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Proud to be a “tree-hugger”

Photo credit: Upload Bot
Today marks the 140th celebration of Arbor Day in the United States.

Great! But, you’re no doubt asking yourself, just what exactly is Arbor Day and how did it come to be a national holiday?

OK. Sit back. Relax. And enjoy a little cruise down History Lane.

J. Sterling Morton, a pioneer in the Nebraska Territory and a lover of nature, proposed a tree-planting holiday to the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture on January 4, 1872. The date was set for April 10 of that year, and prizes were awarded both to individuals and to counties who planted the most trees on that day. Much to Mr. Morton’s surprise and delight, over more than a million trees were planted that very day in Nebraska!

In 1885, the Nebraska state Legislature declared Arbor Day to be a legal holiday to be celebrated on April 10th every year.

Nationally, the last Friday in April is recognized as Arbor Day – and that just so happens to be today. So, go out and celebrate the beauty that is a tree! Ladies and gentlemen, let the hugging begin!

Click here to read more about the history of Arbor Day. For ideas on how to celebrate or for educational materials, visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s website.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meet Smokey Bear and help protect our forests

This Sunday, the Department of Natural Resource’s Volunteer and Wildfire Prevention Program is hosting an event to clean out the campfire pits at Ahtanum Campground.

With the aim of reducing the risk of wildfires due to escaped recreational fires on DNR-protected land, everyone who comes to this event will be clearing debris from and assessing campfire pits for maintenance and safety.

Smokey Bear will be in attendance so make sure to bring the kids!

When:            Sunday, April 29, 2012
                      9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where:           Ahtanum State Forest: Ahtanum Campground

Directions:      From Yakima, go south on Interstate 82 for 2 miles.
                      Drive west on Ahtanum Road to Tampico.
                      Turn west onto the A-2000 (Middle Fork road) and    
                      drive approximately 9.5 miles.

Why:             Over the past four years, there have been nearly 700
                     wildfires that resulted from negligent campers
                     leaving their fire pits smoldering and unattended.
                     Another 100 campers left campfires burning without first
                     making sure they were fully extinguished. Fortunately,
                     those were reported and put out before they escaped.

For more information, click here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Lawmaker reaching out to keep in touch with citizens

Heads up, good people of the 49th Legislative District. Tuesday night, May 1: Put your lucky pants or pantsuit on, set the dog/cat up with a good chew toy, and keep your phone handy. Thousands of folks in Vancouver and the surrounding Clark County communities are encouraged to join in the civic fun of a Telephone Town Hall.

That's right. You read right. State Rep. Jim Moeller is hosting an hour-long tele-forum that evening from 6 to 7. Moeller and the 146 other lawmakers just recently wrapped up the 2012 legislative session. The May 1 event is a grand chance for citizens to engage Moeller in a frank conversation about what in the world is going on in the state of Washington.

Shortly before 6 o’clock the night of May 1, thousands of 49th District citizens will receive telephone calls inviting them to stay on the line and participate in the tele-Town Hall. People who want to join in will be given simple, down-to-earth instructions on what to do. Oh, wait! What if you're a 49th Legislative District resident and you want to join in but you don't get the call between 5:45 and 6 Tuesday night, May 1? In that case, simply call this toll-free telephone number directly, 1-877-229-8493, and then enter PIN code No. 18646 when prompted. And you'll be in!

Moeller emphasized that citizens should always feel free to contact him whenever they want to ask a question and/or share an opinion.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Washington wine on the rise

The state budget may be squeezed, and the jobless rate still tops 8 percent statewide, but the Washington wine industry is growing at a rate that’s positively intoxicating.

Despite the effects of the Great Recession, the industry’s contribution to the economy has increased to $8.6 billion a year, according to a new study from the Washington State Wine Commission, a promotional group financed by wineries and vineyard owners. That’s up from the $3 billion a year counted in a similar study in 2007.

Just a couple of days ago, Gov. Gregoire touted the quality of the state’s wines in comparison to wines from California, the only state that produces more wine than Washington. The occasion was her signing of a construction-projects bill passed by the Legislature this year that includes $5 million for a Wine Science Center in Richland.

To read the full Wine Commission study, click here.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Two new 144-car ferries coming soon to a waterway near you!

Photo credit: WSDOT
Two new ferries will be added to Washington’s state ferry fleet thanks to funding provided by the Legislature this past session. Construction on the first 144-car ferry began this month and the second is scheduled to begin construction in December, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced yesterday.

The two new ferries will be replacing two vessels in the Evergreen State class. Originally built in 1954, Evergreen State ferries are some of the oldest ferries still in use today – and it’s high time for Washington to upgrade!

Did I mention the construction process will create about 500 family-wage jobs in Washington shipyards?

Some of the other project benefits include:
  • Increased passenger safety – better heating and ventilation; more seating
  • Improved vessel design – room for more cars/trucks; improved passenger access to vehicles
  • Improved ADA access – two compliant ADA elevators and wider stair towers with a more gradual slope
  • Minimized environmental impact – cleaner burning engines; low-emissions fuels; wake-reducing hull; and quieter machinery

With the largest ferry fleet in the United States, Washington State Ferries operates 23 vessels across the Puget Sound and its waterways. Carrying over 23 million passengers, the state ferry system acts as a marine highway for everyone from commercial users to daily commuters to tourists.

The first new ferry is expected to be in operation by early 2014 and the second by early 2015.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We made another top-ten list!

Would you say we’re peaceful in Washington?  According to the just-released 2012 United States Peace Index produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace we are among the top ten most peaceful states in the nation.

The study took into account five indicators to rank each state:
•    Number of homicides per 100,000 people
•    Number of violent crimes per 100,000 people
•    Incarceration rate per 100,000 people
•    Number of police employees per 100,000 people
•    Availability of small arms

And this is how we scored:

Michael Killelea, founder and CEO of the institute, said that peaceful states perform better in terms of economy, health and education: “They have higher high school graduation rates, lower poverty, better access to basic services, higher labor force participation rates, higher life expectancy and less single-parented families. Even social capital – like volunteerism, civic engagement, trust, and group membership — is higher in more peaceful states."

Washington has been among the top ten most peaceful states since 2006, but this is the first time we’re at number 7, so we seem to be getting the hang of the peace thing.

For more information be sure to take a look at the report here.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Four Washington schools receive Green Ribbon Awards

When you make several nominations in a national competition you hope maybe one of your nominees will be a winner.  You don’t expect all of your nominees will receive awards. But it happened: the four Washington schools that were nominated as Green Ribbon Schools turned out to be winners. Yep, all four!

The US Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Program celebrates schools that have made significant achievements to:

•    Increase environmental and sustainability literacy
•    Reduce the school's environmental footprint
•    Create a healthy community for students and staff

Schools are evaluated based on their progress towards these concepts and a wide variety of green benchmarks including zero greenhouse gas emissions, food that is locally sourced and sustainable, and curriculum that ensures all students are environmentally literate and civic minded.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the 78 winning schools yesterday, including three Washington state public schools and one private school:

Camelot Elementary School (Federal Way School District)
Tahoma Junior High School (Tahoma)
Secondary Academy for Success (Northshore)
The Overlake School (a private school in Redmond)

For more information on the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Program, please go here.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Probst hosts tele-town hall

Rep. Tim Probst from the 17th Legislative District in Vancouver will host a telephone town hall 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. He looks forward to a live conversation with his constituents about the issues that matter most to the district and the state.

Under the telephone town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive automatically generated telephone calls to their homes in the 17th Legislative District just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. The constituents may ask questions for Rep. Probst to answer by pressing *3 on their phones during the call, and they may listen to the live conversation to hear questions from others and answers.
 Constituents who do not receive a phone call may participate in the meeting simply by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering the ID code (PIN) number 18646 when prompted.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

New capital budget: Help is on the way for fixing up big component of Brier's infrastructure

In the nick of time. Yes, indeed, that was a close one.

Just before the ultimate, early-morning gavel FINALLY fell on the 2012 Legislature a few weeks back, the state's new supplemental 2011-2013 capital budget -- featuring a very significant item that, according to its main booster and prime proponent, "will go quite a long way toward helping rebuild a significant piece of Brier's infrastructure” -- captured the long-awaited legislative "Green Light" and flew off to a coveted spot on the governor's desk, needing only her tasty autograph to become the "Law of the State."

State Rep. Derek Stanford this past session rounded up support for an $800,000 appropriation in the capital budget to assist in paying for a new Scriber Creek Pedestrian Bridge. This updated construction budget won final legislative approval near, as your true and loyal HDC Advance Blogster might have noted a couple of lines back, the very end of the recent special session.

Stanford explained that the horrible flood in December 2007 battered the you-know-what out of the bridge and areas around the bridge -- "eroding the creek bank to such an extent that two of the four pilings supporting the bridge were exposed."

"I'd like to express my appreciation to Rep. Stanford and his staff for their efforts assisting the City of Brier to acquire the funding needed for this project," said Brier Mayor Bob Colinas. "The city will now be able to make the repairs ensuring the bridge, sewer line and the fragile ecosystem of Scriber Creek will be maintained."

The Scriber Creek Pedestrian Bridge not only provides a major trail link in Brier, it also carries a sewer pipe over Scriber Creek, which is a salmon-bearing waterway.

Stanford said the prime directives in the capital budget, which this year is also called the "Jobs Now! Act," emphasize repairs for schools and other public buildings, as well as new-construction projects that will put many thousands of Washington men and women to work in communities all across the state. This budget will help leverage federal, local and private funding, and it also helps preserve and maintain state facilities.

He also noted that the capital budget “is primarily funded by the sale of bonds, and doesn’t do anything to add to the serious shortfall currently confronting our state’s biennial operating budget.”

To read this post in Spanish, click here.