Friday, May 18, 2012

First 'National Alzheimer's Plan' shines light on curing, caring, airing

Out now is the first-ever countrywide blueprint for battling Alzheimer's disease, an illness that haunts millions personally and impacts tens of millions chillingly. Three prime directives in the recently adopted National Alzheimer's Plan are finding the best tactics and strategies for preventing it, treating Alzheimer's when it hits, and strengthening public awareness of this dreadful disease.

Along with this call to action comes the grim news -- Living alone with Alzheimer's tough choice for all -- that upward of a million folks with Alzheimer's are fighting it on their own. In fact, one of every seven people so devastated live alone. The ache of solitary living, having to struggle through an existence all too often off everyone else's radar, has been chronicled in this space here just recently. HDC Advance devotees (and surely no clear-thinking soul amongst us would dare admit to living outside that estimable enclave) will recollect when this very blog-space not more than a couple of weeks back spoke of loneliness, specifically, the loneliness besetting all too many senior citizens -- Friends indeed for secluded senior citizens -- May 4, 2012.

* Articles and other websites
* Alzheimer's Foundation of America

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.
Photo: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease via Wikimedia Commons

A comeback for cider?

Photo credit: WSU NWREC
With the state’s wine industry booming and microbreweries thick on the ground in the Pacific Northwest, opportunity-seeking farmers in Washington are excited about the potential of a different fermented alcoholic beverage: hard apple cider.

The non-profit Northwest Agriculture Business Center and the Washington State University Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center – both in Mount Vernon – are jointly sponsoring one-day workshops in June and July for entrepreneurs interested in growing apples for cider and in producing cider. More intensive week-long courses in those months are sold out.

Hard cider is the fastest growing component of the alcoholic beverage industry. Washington clearly is fertile land for apple orchards – the state is by far the No. 1 producer in the nation – but the Red Delicious, Gala, Honeycrisp and other eat-fresh varieties that make up so much of the crop aren’t really well-suited to making cider. Traditional cider varieties include Dabinett, Chisel Jersey, Kingston Black and Brown Snout.

The WSU extension service in Mount Vernon is conducting research into the best varieties for cider production in Washington, and you can read more about that by clicking here.

Cider is cherished and made with care in traditional producing areas in England, France and other countries. For 18th-century American colonists in New England, it was the drink of choice. Changing patterns of immigration and settlement, as well as technological advances, led to the rise of beer to dominance in the U.S. in the 19th century.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

SEPA: Streamlining government AND protecting the environment

Ensuring a clean and healthy environment is important for Washington families and public health. Also vital to maintaining a vibrant Washington is having a permitting process that isn’t unnecessarily complex and expensive. This year, the Legislature took a major step towards streamlining the permitting process while continuing to protect environment.

Enacted in the early 1970’s the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requires state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts during the project approval process. SEPA helps ensure our state continues to be a great place to live, work, and visit. However, the act hasn’t kept up with the times.

In the 40 years since it was passed, several other federal, state, and local environmental protection laws have been adopted including the state's Growth Management Act and the federal Clean Air Act. Some of those laws overlap or conflict with SEPA. Overlapping and conflicting laws make the permitting process more complicated, expensive, and drawn out for government agencies and builders.

In his first term as a state legislator, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) took on the challenge of bringing SEPA into the 21st Century. He worked with various stakeholders in proposing changes to SEPA in an effort to streamline the review process while still protecting our environmental treasures.

Although it was a bumpy road at times, the language in his SEPA bill – HB 2253 – was eventually incorporated into SB 6406 and approved by the Legislature. Governor Gregoire signed SB 6406 into law on May 2, 2012.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tonight, back by popular demand: 24th District telephone town hall

Rep. Steve Tharinger
Back in March, Representatives Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege held a town hall by phone, and over 8500 constituents participated in it.  The response to that event was so positive that the two legislators have decided to hold another town hall by phone to discuss the recently-concluded legislative session.

Tonight, beginning at 6:00 p.m., they will call residents of the 24th Legislative District - which includes all of Clallam and Jefferson counties, as well as parts of Grays Harbor County.  Anybody who wants to participate in the town hall needs only to pick up the phone.  To ask a question, participants can press STAR 3 (*3) on their phone.  While Reps. Tharinger and Van De Wege will try their best to get to everyone's question during the one-hour event, there is also an opportunity to leave a voicemail at the conclusion of the call with questions, comments or feedback.

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege
Also, if you live in the 24th District, be sure to check your mailbox to see if you've received this year's Legislative Report from Reps. Tharinger and Van De Wege (together with Sen. Jim Hargrove).  It was mailed at the beginning of May, and includes information about the state budget and government reform efforts, as well as newly-passed legislation.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

$68 million in local grants to create jobs and protect the environment

As part of the new Jobs Act passed by the Legislature, the state awarded $68 million in grants for 117 stormwater construction projects around Washington, according to the Department of Ecology.
An estimated 400 jobs will be created for the work, which is designed to protect lakes, rivers and the Puget Sound.

Here’s a link to details about those 117 projects:

According to Ecology, pollution in stormwater runoff is the “biggest threat to waters in our state’s most populated areas. Runoff from hardened surfaces picks up chemicals and bacteria and carries it downstream into our lakes, rivers and into Puget Sound. Most of the time, stormwater is not treated, even when it goes into a street drain.”

Ecology also got a quote from Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said, “Our local governments are financially strapped, and I’m proud that our state can provide this funding. This money will give communities new jobs, cleaner water, and much-needed help for following stormwater permit requirements.”

Links to more information:

  • Water Quality Financial Assistance
  • Stormwater
  • How you can help protect Washington’s waters
  • Ecology’s website

  • To read this story in Spanish, please click here.