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.

Volunteer policy helps parents give back to schools

One Tuesday in February, Jeff Switzer went back to school with his two sons as part of a King County program that allows employees to volunteer at local schools.

Dressed in a white t-shirt with the WATCH D.O.G.S logo on the front, he picked up his itinerary for the day from school officials and made his way to the cafeteria to help feed students on reduced priced meals.

Switzer, a Public Affairs Coordinator for King County Department of Transportation, was using one of his allowed school volunteer sick leave days. The code – School Volunteer Leave, section 14.5 in the King County Personnel Guidelines – allows employees to use up to three days of sick leave each year to volunteer at their children’s schools.

Jeff Switzer volunteering with WATCH D.O.G.S. at his boys' school.

Jeff Switzer volunteering with WATCH D.O.G.S. at his boys’ school.

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Making Life Easier for employees and families

Pam Wyss

Pam Wyss, Employee Assistance Coordinator for King County

Everyone tries to keep work life and personal life separate. But what happens when personal life starts to affect work life? King County understands that sometimes personal life can subsume everything else, and when that happens the Making Life Easier program is there to help.

A free service offered to all King County employees and their dependents, MLE can help with personal counseling, financial and legal help, along with providing support with child, adult and elder care.

“No matter what the problem is, whether it is substance abuse, legal advice or advice on how to budget, Making Life Easier is there to help,” said Pam Wyss, Employee Assistance Coordinator for King County.

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King County’s leading digital services earn national honor

Family on ComputerKing County has been named one of the nation’s “Top 10 Digital Counties” in a 2015 survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties. This is an honor King County has received in 10 of the past 11 years.

As a King County employee, you undoubtedly use technology to get your work done. The same is true for many of our 2 million residents, who are accessing and engaging with our services in exciting new ways. Throughout the County, technology is playing an increasingly important role in Executive Constantine’s work to build the best-run government in America.

King County Information Technology (KCIT) is working to ensure that our information-based services are cost-effective, easy to use, and relevant to the work we do. This includes an improved employee intranet and cutting-edge communications tools that are making it easier for employees to collaborate.

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Employees celebrate “Equity for All” at Pride Parade

In the wake of a landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, more than 300 King County employees, along with their families and friends, joined together to march in the Seattle Pride Parade on June 28. Tens of thousands of people decked out in rainbow colors thronged Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and celebrate the decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

The One King County group was one of the largest in this year’s parade, wearing bright “Equity for All” T-shirts. King County Executive Dow Constantine led the contingent, which also showcased the services that King County provides to residents such as marriage licensing. In 2012, King County issued licenses to nearly 700 couples in three days after voters approved marriage equality in that year’s election.

“One of my proudest moments was issuing the first marriage license to a same-sex couple in Washington state,” Executive Constantine said.


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Slowing the flow to keep local waterways clean

Most people don’t think about what happens to what they flush or the sewer systems it flows into, unless things back up and cause a problem. But for King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) employees, part of their jobs is to think about everyone’s sewage.

In King County’s regional sewer system, everything that goes down the drains from homes and business ends up at a few regional treatment plants that clean all of our water.

However, in the oldest parts of our regional system, pipes were designed to carry a mix of rain and sewage on rainy days, said Erika Peterson, community relations lead.

During heavy rainfall common to western Washington, these “combined sewers” can be overwhelmed with large water flows. Rather than backing up into streets and private property, the combined sewer pipes were designed to overflow at specific points where they flow into the area’s waterways, Program Lead John Phillips said.

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Show your Pride this weekend

Pride tshirtOn Sunday, June 28, King County employees, along with their family and friends, will be marching together for the first time ever in the annual Seattle LGBT Pride Parade.

Led by King County Executive Dow Constantine, employees from across the County will take part in the parade in support of the “Equity for All – One King County” theme.

“I invite you, your family, and friends to join me and hundreds of fellow King County employees from across our divisions, departments, and branches of government to march as One King County in the 40th annual Pride Parade,” Executive Constantine said. “I hope you will be able to join in the festivities to demonstrate King County’s strong and ongoing support.”

Participation is free and voluntary, and is assured to be plenty of fun.

The parade will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. along 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Line up for the parade no later than 10:30 a.m. on Fourth Avenue between Union and Seneca. There will be “Equality for All” t-shirts in adult sizes available to the first 200 employees and family members. For participants unable to get a t-shirt, they are encouraged to wear other King County logo gear or a colorful t-shirt.

For more information, contact your department’s Pride representative.

Five Questions with Elizabeth Berris, Attorney-Guardian Ad Litem, Superior Court

Elizabeth Berris1. What is your role with King County? I am an Attorney-Guardian Ad Litem with the King County Superior Court Dependency CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program. I complete independent investigations and advocacy for the children’s best interests in cases where parents have been accused by Child Protective Services of abusing or neglecting them.

2. What is a typical day like for you? I am always on the go! I drive all over the county and beyond to meet with children, their parents, their caretakers, and then also to attend court hearings on my caseload in all three Superior Court locations. For instance, tomorrow my day will start out visiting a 3-year-old boy in Puyallup at his relative caretaker’s home. Next, I’ll go to a day care center in Tacoma to observe a 4-year-old child and then head off to an elementary school in Federal Way to meet with a 9- and an 11-year-old and their respective teachers. When those interviews are finished, I’ll need to meet a father at his new home in Kent, then to Department of Social and Health Services for a family team decision-making meeting, and I will finish my day by attending a child’s Individualized Education Program (meeting at an elementary school in the White Center neighborhood).

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Building a cleaner future with help of fourth grade class

When Doug Marsano heard that a fourth grade class was reaching out to King County proposing a plan to clean up the Duwamish River, he instantly wanted to be involved. Contacting the teacher and Susan Tallarico, Director of the Brightwater Education Center, they organized a plan.

“It was the perfect partnership,” Tallarico said. “We get to work with kids to enhance their learning and build their interest in conservation that will hopefully continue as they become adults.”

Marsano, a Water Quality Planner with King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division, said that WTD and King County are always looking for ways to provide information in the most appropriate way. Sometimes, the best way is to teach kids, he said.

Susan Tallarico - River Clean Up

Susan Tallarico, Director of the Brightwater Education Center, working with the fourth graders.

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