News from and about King County… from health updates to community news affecting our daily lives.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Today’s update includes information about the Federal Way Link Light Rail Extension’s progress, Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) community meetings, King County Metro’s safety proposal, the resumption of the inquest process in King County, a website developed by a Mercer Island teenager to aid Ukrainians in need of shelter, Federal COVID-19 funeral assistance, upcoming Community Service Areas (CSA) Town Hall for East Federal Way residents, historical gas taxes and more.
This University of Washington alumna is an American discus thrower and four-time Olympian. Who is she?
(Answer is at the bottom).
Federal Way Link Light Rail
We are beginning to see progress at the future site of the Federal Way Link light rail station. Two years ago, I visited this site with Mayor Jim Ferrell of Federal Way. I recently visited the site again to see how the project is going. Columns and girders are now in place to support the elevated tracks and station platform. We are excited to see what this project will offer not only to our transit riders, but also to the Federal Way Downtown core and the rest of South King County.
With Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell atop the Federal Way Transit Center parking garage, overlooking the future site of the Federal Way light rail station
VSHSL Community Conversations
The Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) team will host a series of community meetings across the county this spring and summer to inform planning for possible renewal of the voter approved VSHSL. The meeting on Thursday, March 31st, from 5:30-7:00 pm, will focus on communities in and around Federal Way, Auburn, Milton, Algona, Pacific. Click here for more information or register here.
King County Metro to prioritize safety response and connect customers with resources
King County Metro is dedicated to safe, accessible, and equitable transit to support community well-being. As previously shared, a recurring challenge Metro faces is the small but impactful number of incidents where customers do not exit the bus when it has completed its route and is set to return to base. In response to this issue, an initiative was transmitted to the King County Council, communicating near-term actions to improve safety. Read more on Metro’s blog post.
King County resumes inquest process this week
King County resumed its inquest process on March 15th after a delay of more than four years due to lawsuits that led to an eventual Washington Supreme Court decision and executive order that was in effect since 2018. With the legal challenges concluded, King County is now set to resume the inquests, which will be live streamed for public transparency. Read more here.
Mercer Islander and Harvard classmate launch website to aid Ukrainians in need of shelter
After attending a protest on February 28th in solidarity with Ukrainians during the Russian invasion, Avi Schiffmann wanted to raise his level of helping others. The 19-year-old Mercer Islander, who previously founded and developed one of the first and largest coronavirus tracking websites, and his Harvard University classmate, Marco Burstein, worked together to help aid Ukrainian refugees by creating an independent platform connecting them with potential hosts in neighboring countries. The computer science students launched a website called Ukraine Take Shelter, which is natively translated into Ukrainian, Polish and other languages where hosts can list information such as space available, transportation, first aid, spoken languages, childcare, disability support, legal support and more. Read more in the Auburn Reporter article here.
Federal COVID-19 funeral assistance tops $2 billion, more eligible
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided more than $2 billion to help cover funeral costs for more than 300,000 families of people who died from COVID-19. More than 965,000 people have died in the U.S. from the virus. On Tuesday, FEMA launched a new campaign to raise awareness about the aid to eligible families. To be eligible for reimbursement, death certificates for those who died after May 16, 2020, must indicate that the death was attributed to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program provides up to $9,000 per funeral and covers COVID-19 related deaths since Jan. 20, 2020.
Community Service Areas Town Hall – East Federal Way
The King County Department of Local Services (DLS) invites residents in unincorporated East Federal Way to attend the upcoming Community Service Areas (CSA) Town Hall on March 29th, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This meeting provides an opportunity for residents to meet with DLS Director John Taylor and department representatives to engage with the community and prioritize the Community Needs List. For more information on how to join, please click here. For questions, please call 206-477-3800 or email email@example.com.
TSA extends mask requirement on planes and public transportation
The Transportation Security Administration extended the mask requirement on public transportation and transportation hubs through April 18th to allow the CDC to work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. Read more here.
Below are a couple places where your donations go a long way:
Auburn Food Bank
930 18th Pl NE, Auburn, WA 98002
Donations accepted in person Monday-Friday (8:00 am to 3:00 pm)
Auburn Valley Humane Society
4910 A St. SE, Auburn, WA 98092
1123 E Main St., Auburn, WA 98002 (Thrift Store)
To donate supplies, call 253-545-0314 Monday-Saturday (10:00 am – 6:00 pm), Sunday (11:00 am – 5:00 pm).
1414 S 324th St., Suite B101, Federal Way, WA 98003
Whole blood and apheresis donations are accepted Monday-Tuesday (10:00 am to 6:00 pm), Wednesday, Friday-Saturday (8:00 am to 4:00 pm), and Sunday (9:00 am to 5:00 pm). To schedule a donation appointment, call 253-945-8660 or 800-398-7888 or visit https://schedule.bloodworksnw.org/DonorPortal/.
Bridging a Gap (BAG)
33313 1st Way S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Food donations can be dropped off at the following locations:
St. Luke’s Church - 515 S 312th St., Federal Way, WA 98003
Communities in Schools - 1825 S 316th St., Federal Way, WA 98003
Red Canoe Credit Union - 33616 Pacific Hwy S, Federal Way, WA 98003
Federal Way Senior Center
4016 S 352nd St., Auburn, WA 98001
To volunteer, please call 253-838-3604 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FUSION Décor Boutique
1108 S 322nd Pl, Federal Way, WA 98003
Donations are accepted Tuesday-Saturday (10:00 am to 6:00 pm)
Please call beforehand at 253-839-4045 with a description of the items.
Multi-Service Center Food Bank
1200 S 336th St., Federal Way, WA 98003
Donations may be dropped off at the warehouse Monday-Friday (8:30 am to 4:00 pm)
The Salvation Army
26419 16th Ave S, Des Moines, WA 98198
Open Monday-Thursday (9:00 am to 4:30 pm) and Friday (9:00 am to 12:00 pm)
Historical Gas Taxes
With all the recent news about the price of gas, it is interesting to look back at historical gas prices in our state, and how much federal and state gas taxes contribute to the price of gas at the pump.
Since 1949, the federal gas tax has only increased four times. In 1949, it was at $0.002, with increases to $0.004 in 1961, $0.009 in 1984, $0.141 in 1991 and $0.184 from 2003 to present. The state gas tax has increased multiple times through the years, starting at $0.007 in 1949 and staying at its current rate of $0.494 since 2016.
In 1949, the combination of federal and state gas taxes makes up 3% of a gallon of gas at the pump. Fast forward to today, it makes up 14% of a gallon of regular/premium gas at the pump.
King County COVID-19 Case Update
Yesterday, Seattle – King County Public Health reported 172 daily average positive cases, bringing the total in King County to 370,112. In addition, Public Health reported 3 daily average deaths, bringing the total in the county to 2,647.
Recent data may be incomplete. For more information, visit the King County COVID Daily Summary Dashboard here.
Order free COVID home test kits: www.covidtests.gov | https://sayyescovidhometest.org/.
Vaccine Locator: To find COVID-19 vaccine appointments, visit Vaccine Locator.
For King County residents: Register here to schedule your appointment at one of the high-volume vaccination sites in King County.
For in-home vaccination: Call King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977.
Register by phone: Call King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 or Washington COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.
For veterans: Call 206-716-5716 or visit www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine.
For more information, visit Getting vaccinated in King County.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255, text TALK to 741-741 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Find your King County Council district here.
With best wishes,
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember
Washington trivia answer:
Aretha Thurmond is an American discus thrower with a personal best distance of 65.86 meters (216.1 feet). She graduated from Renton High School in 1994 and the University of Washington in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. During her time, she set many collegiate records and was a four-time NCAA All-American.
Aretha is a four-time Olympian in the discus and served as Team USA captain in two Olympic Games and two World Outdoor Championships. She has made five World Championship teams in her career. She is currently the Managing Director of International Teams with USA Track and Field.
(Photo Source: usatf.org)
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