Metro’s wreckers: always at the ready

Regional TransitDay or night, King County Metro Transit’s wreckers respond to trouble calls and emergencies. They push, pull, lift, or tow, whatever it takes to get buses and traffic moving and Metro’s riders to their destinations.

Metro has single wreckers stationed at each of its outlying bus bases (North, East, and South), but Atlantic Base has two—referred to as Atlantic 1 and Atlantic 2—to support the three Seattle core bases (Ryerson, Central, and Atlantic) and the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. These downtown Seattle wreckers and their crews have their work cut out for them, including responding to the needs of a “mature” trolley fleet, diesel buses from two bases, and the unique demands of the tunnel.

Atlantic Base mechanic Dave Bankson, left, uses the wrecker to lift a disabled bus while Central Base mechanic Walter Olson removes a damaged tire.

Atlantic Base mechanic Dave Bankson, left, uses the wrecker to lift a disabled bus while Central Base mechanic Walter Olson removes a damaged tire.

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County’s Investment Officer prioritizes financial safety

Best-Run GovernmentAs the County’s Investment Officer, Mike Smith manages an investment portfolio worth an average of $5 billion.  With the safety of $5 billion at stake, Mike depends heavily on assistance from his colleagues Christine Denis and Josh Freese in managing the King County Investment Pool.

In keeping with the County’s goals of financial stewardship and being the best-run government in the nation, Smith and his colleagues focus on the three ideals for public investing: safety, liquidity, and return.

“You want to keep the principal safe, you want to make sure money is always available to pay the bills, and thirdly you want to make sure you earn a return on it,” Smith said.

Mike Smith

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Five Questions with Cynthia Hernandez, Project/Program Manager IV, DNRP

Cynthia Hernandez1. What was your first role at King County? I was hired to work as the Correspondence Manager for County Executive Ron Sims when he first became Executive in 1997. In those days most constituent correspondence came as paper mail addressed to the Executive, so I coordinated with departments to get those letters answered. I did some community engagement ghostwriting for the Executive on everything from proclamations and recognitions to talking points and book chapters. I also wrote the first “customer service” policies we had for responding to constituent inquiries and oversaw the development of the first constituent tracking database used by the Executive Office. It was a very interesting job, which gave me the advantage of working closely with Executive Sims and a great team of staffers, while also providing me a unique vantage point to learn about the breadth and depth of county services and offices, as well as the people behind them.

2. What do you do as a Program Manager IV for DNRP? DNRP has a proud history of excellence in the performance of its mission and has been on the leading edge of service delivery for decades. In 2000, the DNRP Director’s Office undertook a reorganization that embraced many of the tenets of Lean, including standard work and continuous improvement. I was asked to join the office to help standardize a departmental approach to Public Records responses and records management, and to facilitate continuity and alignment across the department and externally to the central county on a variety of initiatives, which over the years ranged from the Health Reform Initiative to Green Fleets, from Emergency Preparedness to Customer Service. Currently, my primary areas of focus are on maturing our Records Management and Public Records response practices across the department, and leading DNRP’s efforts to maximize the use of office space as part of the King Street Center Space Efficiencies Project. I also serve on a number of countywide cross teams working on the development of a variety of policies and plans.

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Transit employee makes “Top 40 under 40” list

Christine O’Claire 1​Christina O’Claire, supervisor of strategic planning and analysis (Service Development) for Metro Transit, was named in September by Mass Transit magazine as one of its 2014 “Top 40 under 40.” This list honors transit professionals who made significant contributions to the public transit industry. Nominated by peers, honorees were judged on job commitment, industry involvement and contributions, achievements, and innovation in their field.

O’Claire was cited for “helping King County Metro move into the future through an evolving array of strategic performance and planning initiatives.” She is currently working to keep Metro focused on its strategic plan, analyzing and reporting on progress toward the plan’s goals and objectives; developing a Community Mobility Contracts program in which local cities partner with Metro to “buy” transit service; establishing Metro’s first long-range plan since the mid-1990s; establishing performance metrics for Metro to measure success; and leading Metro’s technical team in the development and analy​sis of data and business process improvements as part of the International Bus Benchmarking Group.

O’Claire credits much of her success to co-workers. “I have an amazing team of professionals that truly care about the quality of service that we deliver,” she said. “I am only as good as my team — and I am fortunate to have a wonderful team.”

Read the full Mass Transit article online at

(Article originally appeared in Metro Transit’s In Transit newsletter, Nov/Dec. 2014).

New video spotlights program that gives veterans new skills

King County is partnering with 4Culture, Historic Seattle and local construction firms to give returning military veterans new skills that they can use in building restoration and preservation careers.

VETS RESTORE is a new education and career opportunity for returning military veterans in King County where participants are trained in preservation carpentry and introduced to the building rehabilitation trades. The mission of VETS RESTORE is to connect veterans with the valuable work of revitalizing America’s historic building stock.

In this video, Bryan Fry with the King County Veterans’ Program shares how diverse opportunities, including preservation carpentry training, help meet the employment needs of the more than 127,000 veterans who call King County home.

CASA volunteers help keep children safe

Peggy LarsenWhat makes a good Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, according to Peggy Larson, is someone who has a commitment to helping children.

“They get the reward of knowing they’ve made a difference in a child’s life,” Larson said.

Larson, a CASA Supervisor at the Maleng Regional Justice Center who works with CASA volunteers, has been at King County for 25 years.

“It’s a great job. I love working with our volunteers. They’re such interesting people and they do so much on behalf of the kids,” Larson said.

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Training Series: Leadership in a Changing Landscape

Take advantage of a series of three training opportunities that will build your leadership skills and help you manage change in difficult circumstances:

You can take all three classes or individual classes depending on your schedule.

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Executive meets with employees, volunteers who are “a voice for children”

In neglect and abuse cases involving children, a vital role is played by a group of volunteers known as CASAs.

King County Executive Dow Constantine recently visited some of the employees and volunteers from the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in Kent to learn more, and thank them for their care and support of children going through traumatic times.


A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer who represents the best interests of children up to 11 years old who have allegedly been abused and/or neglected as they are taken through the legal process. They are a voice for children.

“If you care about children and want to make a difference, you can do that here,” CASA volunteer Pamela Beatty told the Executive.

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Last chance to snag a great holiday gift!

Save up to 43% off Chinook Books and get access to over 500 coupons to your favorite local merchants. Due to demand, this offer expires on November 30, 2014. Order as a group with your colleagues and pay just one shipping fee. Click here to place your order. Available in print and mobile editions.

For more employee discounts, click here.

Lunch and Learn honors veterans

When he entered the civilian workforce, Navy veteran Bryan Fry says one of the hardest parts was finding the “red line.”

“In a blink, your military career is over. You’re done. Time to go home, time to get a job. But, where’s the red line? How do I integrate back home? I had a relationship with order, I had a relationship with the red line and it’s not there anymore,” Fry said at a King County Lunch and Learn called “Increasing Understanding of Our Veteran Employees.”

Moderated by Fry, who is now King County’s Veterans Program Coordinator, the Lunch and Learn included a short film honoring King County’s veteran employees, as well as a panel discussion. Panel members Steven Stamper, Jennifer Schneider, Manuel Martinez, and Renita Borders all are military veterans and King County employees.

The Lunch and Learn was inspired by King County’s goal to be more a more “veteran ready” employer.

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