CASA program needs volunteers

Each year in King County, more than 12,000 children are separated from their families due to abuse or neglect. With the support of foster programs, many of the children are placed in foster care for the time being their parents are in court. But who represents the children in court?

Court Appointed Special Advocates are trained volunteers who represent the children and their best interests during the legal process.

“We say that a CASA is the voice of the child,” Pamela Beatty, a CASA volunteer said. “We do the speaking for the children. We have heard the children, we have talked to the children, we’ve visited their schools, we’ve talked to their families and we get a sense of what is going to be best for the child in the long run.

But CASA is facing a problem – a shortage of volunteers. In King County, there can be upwards of 300 kids waiting to be matched with a CASA volunteer. The program especially needs volunteers from diverse communities, and male volunteers to be role models. Watch a short KCTV video to learn more.

Going mobile to manage hazardous waste

How can King County keep dangerous, hazardous materials from finding their way into landfills and the environment? One solution is the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program’s Wastemobile.

Rather than a fleet of vehicles driving to various locations in King County, each “wastemobile” is a temporary tent location set up on the weekends, usually in parking lots of businesses or schools, where small businesses and home owners can bring their hazardous waste to be properly disposed of.

“A little hazardous waste in the environment goes a long way and is very bad for human health and the health of the environment,” Julie Mitchell said. “Any time I can do something to keep the public safe, it is a good feeling.”

WasteMobile140

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Fun Fest teaches teamwork, cooperation and more to detained youth

Fun FestAs part of King County Juneteenth celebrations, King County Juvenile Detention threw a Fun Fest for youth detained in the facility. For the youth, it was an opportunity to expand their learning during the break between school sessions. For those volunteering, it was opportunity to teach young people different life lessons.

Spanning three days, Fun Fest offered three different programs for youth to participate in, picking one that interested them. The most popular was the Football Camp, which taught the youth the importance of teamwork and trust as well as football fundamentals. Another program, Mind, Body & Soul Workshop, included a range of activities from crafting signs reflecting positive, inspiring thoughts challenged participants to making smoothies from fruits and vegetables and learning about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. The final program, Play to Win, had the young participants learning to play games such as Monopoly, Bunco, Bingo, and Charades. Like the Football Camp, Play to Win stressed cooperation and teamwork.

“We wanted to give the youth the opportunity to engage in learning during the school break,” Lisa Hymes-Davis, Juvenile Detention Supervisor, said. “We wanted them to have fun, but learn valuable lessons at the same time. Some of them don’t have the opportunity to learn about nutrition or positive teamwork.”

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Transportation program helps employees, environment and the region

MV Sally FoxWith congestion on our roads growing as King County continues to grow, the Employee Transportation Program (ETP) is helping employees save money and time while reducing our impact on the environment with benefits including free rides on all regional buses, Sounder trains, Link light rail, Seattle Streetcar and the West Seattle and Vashon Island Water Taxis.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

“We aim to make it as easy as possible for our employees to leave their cars at home,” Hossein Barahimi said. As ETP Manager, Barahimi is in charge of developing new partnerships and programs for employees, all with the aim of reducing the number of people who are driving on their own.  Barahimi develops partnerships with Employee Health and Well-Being, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Metro Sustainability Program and others to create programs that allow employees to make healthy choices, cut the cost of travel, reduce gas consumption and help the environment.

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Sheriff’s employees run to end domestic violence

On Saturday, July 18, members of King County Sheriff’s Office along with their friends and family, readied themselves on the starting line by Safeco Field. For the second year in a row, the Sheriff’s Office was represented at the Refuse to Abuse 5K.

An avid runner, Detective Jason Houck first heard of the race last year. Wanting to participate, Houck wondered if he could get any other Sheriff’s Office employees involved and sent out a department wide email in hopes of putting together a team. He received responses from all over King County, from non-runners to avid runners like himself. While the members had different reasons for joining, they all agreed on one thing.

“The race benefits a great cause,” Detective Houck said. “As law enforcement officers I think it is very important for us to participate.”

Refuse to Abuse 5K

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Retired vehicles given life after VanPool with nonprofits

Councilmember Kathy Lambert with Mamma’s Hands Executive Director Amy Hardebeck

Councilmember Kathy Lambert with Mamma’s Hands Executive Director Amy Hardebeck

The dark blue King County Commuter VanPool Program vans are a familiar sight in our region. For some, the vehicles are a necessity for getting to and from work each day. But what happens once the vans have passed their useful economic life with the program?

Since 1996, VanPool has been working with Metro’s Accessible Services and King County Councilmembers to pair nonprofits, in need of vehicles to meet their transportation needs, with retired vanpool vehicles. If a nonprofit agency meets the criteria of having adequate insurance and the ability to cover the cost of maintenance, along with staff to operate and service the vans, VanPool provides the vans and Accessible Services works with the nonprofit agency and County Council staff members to finalize the process, said Syd Pawlowski, Supervisor of Rideshare Operations.

The vans average 85,000 to 95,000 miles and are eight to ten years old. They have been maintained throughout their life on a rigorous service schedule and have been well cared for by customers and employees.

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Helping King County’s animals, from lost dogs to injured horses

When our animal friends need a helping hand, who’s there to help them? King County TV recently rode along with employees from King County Animal Control Services as they responded to reports of injured or escaped animals.

“We are a relatively small unit,” Dr. Gene Mueller, manager of Regional Animal Services, said. “We are covering almost a thousand square miles and almost a million people in our jurisdiction.”

Animal Services covers all of unincorporated King County and 25 contract cities, and responds to anything from dog bites to animal cruelty complaints, Animal Control Sergeant Tim Anderson said. Each year, King County responds to over 300 calls and complaints.

When an officer responds to a call about an injured animal, they check not only the health of the animal and whether it has been treated, but also its living conditions.

Many of the calls Animal Control officers respond to are stray dog complaints. These calls range from a lost pet roaming a neighborhood and being a danger to itself and cars on the road, to collecting a lost pet from someone who found it.

“It’s never boring; we always have plenty to do,” Animal Control Officer Steve Nickelson said.

Watch the full video here.

Five Questions with Nori Catabay, Green Building Team Program Manager, Department of Natural Resources & Parks

Nori Catabay1. What was your first role at King County? I started at King County in 2002 as the Senior Policy Analyst to King County Councilmember Carolyn Edmonds working on legislation related to Natural Resources and Parks and the Board of Health.

2. What does your work with the Green Building Team involve?  As a service provided by the King County GreenTools Program funded by the Solid Waste Division, I coordinate King County’s internal Green Building Team which includes representatives from multiple departments that manage and operate capital assets, as well as have an impact on green building and sustainable development. We are responsible for implementing the County’s Green Building Ordinance which includes designing, constructing and operating our County assets with the latest green building and sustainable development practices.  I provide green building technical assistance to County projects, review project’s annual green building reports, organize trainings to County staff, coordinate with other sustainability programs, create necessary tools to implement the policy requirements, collaborate across divisions to make process improvements, assist projects with green building rating systems, and promote County green building achievements.

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DCHS employee named Outstanding Woman Veteran of the Year

Debra Wood WDVA AwardThe Washington Department of Veterans Affair’s Women’s Advisory Board named King County employee, Debra Wood, its 2015 Outstanding Woman Veteran of the Year.

A Vietnam-era veteran, Debra received the award for her dedication and volunteer work as an advocate for veterans and their families with a focus on military sexual trauma survivors. Debra manages the administrative staff for King County Community Services Division in the Department of Community and Human Services.

While her work hours are filled with helping the community, her enthusiasm extends past work hours. In her free time, Debra helps veterans and their families navigate issues such as finding housing, filing disability claims, networking, finding gainful employment, and financial hardships.

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DCHS employee honored for veterans employment efforts

Rich Garmong honoredRich Garmong, King County Veterans Business Outreach Coordinator with the Department of Community and Human Services (pictured far right), was honored by the International Association of Workforce Professionals (IAWP) for his work in helping returning veterans find new careers when they leave the military.

The “Group Service to Veterans Award” was presented to the South King County Veterans Team at the IAWP annual conference. In addition to Rich, the team includes staff members from the Washington State Employment Security Department in the Renton and Auburn WorkSource sites.

The team won the award for breaking down system barriers and forming a State/County partnership to provide comprehensive orientations to veterans in the WorkSource sites. This orientation includes helping veterans link to integrated and comprehensive services, including the King County Veterans Program. The team was particularly recognized for its excellent customer service.

Rich also helped put together the Veterans Career Expo at the Washington State Convention Center on July 16, 2015 where about 100 employers with jobs to fill came to meet and interview veterans and their spouses at the Veterans Career Expo.

The employers came from government, law enforcement, aerospace, manufacturing, retail, information technology and more. Hundreds of veterans and spouses were able to meet perspective employers and many got job interviews the same day.

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