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Power outages remain after Thursday night’s windstorm


Photo by Kathy Doran

A tree lies on its side after being uprooted in Thursday night’s storm near the Mill Creek library.

Staff and Wire Reports

EVERETT — About 12,000 Snohomish County Public Utility District customers remained without power Friday afternoon after a windstorm blew through Western Washington.

Schools in the Everett and Stanwood-Camano districts canceled or delayed classes on some campuses that were left without power.

Forecasters expect a calmer weekend with some sunshine and a return next week to occasional rain showers and mountain snow.

Winds reached 49 mph Thursday night at Sea-Tac Airport, 62 mph at Paine Field in Everett and 69 at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Continued scattered outages were reported Friday in the areas of Paine Field, south Everett, Tulalip and Marysville, PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said. Outages peaked Thursday at about 50,000 customers, he said.

PUD brought on extra crews to help restore power, he said. Many of the outages were attributed to trees knocked down by winds.


Heavy rains expected, minor flooding possible on Stillaguamish River

By Rikki King, Herald Writer

EVERETT — Heavy rains predicted this week could bring flooding to Snohomish County, particularly along the Stillaguamish River in the Arlington area.

At least two prolonged periods of rain are expected between Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening, said Josh Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. That could mean up to 3 inches of rain in the lowlands, with more in Darrington, and up to 9 inches in the mountains.

“It’s going to be a little bit soggy,” Smith said.

The Weather Service on Monday issued a hydrology outlook predicting “a plume of moisture” and potential river flooding for much of Western Washington.

The Snohomish and Skykomish rivers aren’t expected to flood, but it depends on the rainfall, Smith said. People should keep an eye on the forecast as the week develops.

The Stillaguamish River in the Island Crossing area is expected to crest above flood stage late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to the Weather Service. Only minor flooding is predicted at this point.

Warmer temperatures are expected until Wednesday as well, but could start to drop again Thursday, Smith said.

Friday temperatures could be back in the 40s, he said.

Rikki King:




Everett seeks workable solutions for pot outlet

By Chris Winters, Herald Writer

EVERETT — Two months after the Everett City Council renewed an interim ordinance that regulates recreational marijuana businesses, the city has come under pressure to change or overturn it.

Neighbors opposed to a new retail shop on Rucker Avenue have appealed to the City Council, and on Nov. 26, council member Ron Gipson proposed an emergency action to essentially halt all marijuana retail sales in the city.

That proposal was voted down out of concern for possible legal action, but all the council members expressed a desire to address the situation on Rucker in a manner that would be fair to residents — and legal.

“It’s no secret that the citizens voted this in,” Gipson said, referring to Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana businesses. “It’s now up to us to craft an ordinance that will be workable.”

The shop at 4218 Rucker Ave., Purple Haze, plans to open in a building once used as a hair salon and law office. It has already filed for permits with the city.

Rucker Avenue’s zoning allows a wide variety of uses, including residential. The street is home to such businesses as an auto parts store, a nail salon, a massage parlor, a paint shop and a Safeway store, as well as a few residential houses. Across an alley is a residential neighborhood.

Everett’s interim recreational marijuana ordinance was renewed in October and will come up for renewal again in April. It is more restrictive than state law in some ways. For example, it imposes a higher minimum separation between marijuana retail businesses, from 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet.

But Everett’s ordinance also specifies that those retail shops be in commercial or industrial zones, which include the E-1 zone on Rucker Avenue and Evergreen Way.

It’s an unintended consequence of I-502 that the council only now has learned.

“I didn’t think there would be residences in a commercial zone, but lo and behold, we do have some,” Gipson said.

A few doors down, at 4312 Rucker, is the headquarters for Camp Fire Snohomish County Council, the youth social and outdoors organization.

Dave Surface, the executive director for Camp Fire, said his organization might need to consider moving if Purple Haze opens.

“It wouldn’t matter if it was a liquor store or a tobacco shop, it’s not just the thing we think is appropriate for kids,” Surface said.

The Camp Fire office hosts kids once per week for the Teens in Action program, and some Camp Fire clubs meet there regularly, Surface said.

Any decision to sell the building would have to come from the organization’s board of directors, Surface said.

Jim Iles, the Everett city attorney, informed the council Nov. 26 that the state didn’t view the Camp Fire offices to be in the same category as other sensitive uses that cater to children, such as schools and public parks with playgrounds.

The state has already issued Purple Haze a license to operate at the location.

At the council’s Dec. 3 meeting, Purple Haze co-owners Eugene Elfrank and Angela Deoliveira promised to operate as good neighbors and emphasized that they have followed all the laws and regulations set forth by the state and city.

“We want to be a strong part of the community and not a nuisance,” Deoliveira told the council.

Marcia Fischer, an attorney hired by the owners of two houses on Rucker, suggested that the City Council consider regulating marijuana businesses as it would other adults-only businesses, like strip clubs. That would require a minimum separation between them and any residential areas.

While the strip fronting Rucker Avenue is zoned for commercial use, it adjoins a residential neighborhood across an alley.

Many residents of that area protested the new marijuana shop at Wednesday’s council meeting, even though the issue was not on the agenda.

Council member Paul Roberts wouldn’t comment on the Purple Haze case, given the potential for litigation, but he said the residents do raise fair questions about how to handle pot businesses near residential areas.

“The challenge is, it’s a transitional zone,” Roberts said. “There are clearly some questions that need addressing.”

It may be that the city’s renewal of the interim ordinance in April will be when that happens.

Gipson said he hopes to revisit it sooner.

“But I’m not holding my breath,” he said. “My concern isn’t April, it’s now.”

Allan Giffen, the city’s planning and community development director, said his staff has been gathering information from Everett and other communities about the impact of new marijuana businesses. Specific recommendations haven’t been proposed yet.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters Twitter:@Chris_At_Herald.


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Restaurant workers rally for higher minimum wage


The Seattle Times

Calls for increasing the minimum wage spread Thursday beyond Seattle and SeaTac, as demonstrators rallied around Puget Sound and sat in on a legislative hearing at the Capitol.

Demonstrators gathered at restaurants in Aberdeen, Bellevue and Kent, and at the Capitol in Olympia.

Sage Wilson, spokesman for Working Washington, which organized the events, said, “people working in fast food and home care and retail, they can’t earn enough” on the state’s current minimum wage of $9.32 an hour.

In Olympia, demonstrators gathered in the early afternoon at the Capitol Campus, where the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee heard presentations on the state of the minimum wage. Supporters of a higher minimum wage rolled out slide after slide showing how wages had remained flat, costs had risen and some workers didn’t make enough to support a family while making the minimum wage.

Although it has been keeping up with inflation, it’s not keeping up with costs,” Lisa Manzer, senior research coordinator with the Center for Women’s Welfare, told lawmakers. While wages in America have been stagnant for about 35 years, major costs like housing and health care have gotten more expensive, Manzer said.

Manzer presented list of costs researched by CWW that had increased between 2001 and 2014: housing up 40 percent, child care up 68 percent, food up 55 percent and health care up 70 percent.

For a family with two children, both adults would each need to earn $16.56 per hour in Snohomish County, or $12.67 per hour in Spokane County, to meet a family’s basic needs, according to Manzer.

Three men representing business interests didn’t dispute any of this. But David Burroughs, vice chairman for Cascade Design Inc., told lawmakers that lower trade barriers with other countries have forced his company to compete with lower-wage workers across the world.

Cascade Design, a Seattle-based company that makes outdoor gear, including sleeping bags and hammocks, said the rise in Seattle’s minimum wage would cost the company $2 million per year.

“Which is a substantial part of our earnings,” Burroughs said.

Burroughs was perhaps the only person to suggest an alternative method of combating income inequality — by raising taxes on the country’s wealthiest people.

“I think that the top 1 percent should be more heavily taxed,” Burroughs told lawmakers.

Afterward, about 100 activists rallied at the Capitol. Some chanted, “We can’t live on nine dollars and change!” and “Show me … 15.”

Among the rally speakers was Elizabeth Atkins-Pattenson, a student at The Evergreen State College who said she earns $9.32 an hour plus tips as a server at the Olive Garden restaurant on Olympia’s west side.

“Fifteen (dollars) is an amazing step toward income equality,” Atkins-Pattenson told the crowd to cheers. Many advocates later boarded buses to the Olive Garden site where they planned to join pickets.

Staff writer Brad Shannon contributed to this report.



Main rail line open between Seattle-Everett

The main rail line between Seattle and Everett, Washington, has reopened for passenger traffic after crews cleaned up trees and debris from a weekend mudslide.


The main rail line between Seattle and Everett, Washington, has reopened for passenger traffic after crews cleaned up trees and debris from a weekend mudslide.

BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said a 48-hour passenger rail traffic moratorium on the rail segment ended Monday evening.

A mudslide south of Everett blocked the line Saturday evening, halting freight and passenger service.

Freight traffic has resumed. Melonas said Monday evening that Amtrak and Sounder trains have a green light to resume operations.


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Neighbors say Everett pot shop too close to kids’ hangouts, but city disagrees


EVERETT — The city of Everett is allowed five retail pot shops. The first two opened quietly, but the third is being met with a lot of resistance from neighbors.

Neighbors say the newest shop, Purple Haze, is too close to a Camp Fire office and the Interurban Trail. They say they don’t want it at that location, as it appears to break the law that says pot shops can’t be within 1,000 feet of places were children gather.

Now, parents are gearing up to fight the new shop.

“I think things need to change so we have more say about what’s going on in our neighborhood,” said Candace Duce, mom to a preschooler and a kindergartner, and a resident not far from the shop.

She’s worried about marijuana users coming and going, and criminals that could be attracted to this cash only business.

“I’m terrified for their safety,” said Duce.  “We play outside all the time in our backyard, and we have our children’s friends over all the time to play and I worry about their safety, too.

“It’s just not good to have our young children being around this kind of business,” said another neighbor, Katie Arnestad.

Keeping kids from pot shops was one of the goals of the state when voters made marijuana legal, they said. But City of Everett workers say the shop takes into account area places where children gather.

“Our regulations that we have right now take into account state laws about distance from recreational facilities and things like that,” said Meghan Pembroke, spokesperson for the city of Everett.

The state apparently doesn’t  consider places like the Camp Fire office and the Interurban Trail locations places where children gather, and so neither does the city. The owner of Purpla Haze didn’t want to talk, but there is a lot of work under way to get the store up and running.

Neighbors are working too. They just hired a lawyer, and say they may take the city to court to keep their new neighbors out.

The city is expected to issue the business a retail permit sometime this week, and at that point, Purple Haze can open at any time.



Lynnwood Water Main Break….

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — A water main break left behind a soggy mess on Thursday evening off 164th Street Southwest in Lynnwood, as it flooded a nearby business. It sent a 20-foot geyser of water shooting into the air.

The Alderwood Water and Wastewater District was notified of the break at about 7:15 p.m. While crews had it capped twenty minutes later, the water ran down a hill and flooded an O’Reilly Auto Parts store.

Employees there spent much of Thursday evening sweeping the water out of their store as best as they could.


The staff at a nearby restaurant was able to keep the water just outside of its doors by sweeping it away as it lapped up the back entrance.

Jeff Clarke with Alderwood Water and Wastewater said that his crews were working on an ongoing projection in conjunction with Snohomish County Public Works. They were re-routing a water main as part of that project when something went wrong.

“In re-routing the water tonight in order to keep some water service to several business, a pipe fitting broke and water shot about 20 feet in the air, and it took a little while for crews to get there and get it turned off,” said Clarke.

He said the water district’s insurance company has already been contacted, and will be reaching out to any businesses that suffered damage.

The costs of damage and clean-up would then likely be covered by the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District.

Witnesses said the geyser of water was both scary and exciting to watch.