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Seattle/Western Wash. News Releases for Sat. Jul. 24 - 4:16 am
Fri. 07/23/21
Northwest Association for Blind Athletes to Host Camp Spark's Second Session for Youth with Visual Impairments (Photo)
Northwest Assn. for Blind Athletes - 07/23/21 11:38 AM
Celebrating Camp Spark
Celebrating Camp Spark

Vancouver, Washington—July 23, 2021—Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) is excited to announce that Camp Spark’s second session will begin on Sunday, July 25, 2021, and run through Friday, July 30, 2021. Campers will participate in a variety of sports and recreational activities, as seen in the photos included, such as goalball (a sport specifically developed for individuals with visual impairments), fitness, beep baseball, tandem cycling, yoga, track & field, and numerous others. 


This is the sixth year that NWABA has offered a summer camp for youth who are blind and visually impaired. These two one-week summer sessions will provide 1:2 sports instruction to a total of 59 campers ranging in age from 9-15 who live in Oregon and Washington. Youth who participate in Camp Spark vary in socioeconomic status, ethnic backgrounds, and level of skills and abilities. NWABA offers Camp Spark free of charge to youth and their families. Camp Spark is being hosted at the Linfield University campus in McMinnville, OR. 


"Our Board of Directors is extremely excited to offer these truly transformational programs to children and youth with visual impairments. Camp reaches far beyond participating in sports, and acts as a catalyst to help campers gain the confidence, self-esteem, friendships, and independence they need to achieve success in all areas of life.” said Founder, President/CEO, Billy Henry.


Camp Spark is partially funded by the generosity of our individual donors, foundations, state grants, and corporate partners; however, additional support is critically needed to deliver a successful camp. Donations to support Camp Spark can be made online at www.nwaba.org/donate or by mailing a check to PO BOX 61489, Vancouver, WA, 98666. For more information on Northwest Association for Blind Athletes, please contact Alyssa Baldwin at 1-360-768-5647, media@nwaba.org, or visit www.nwaba.org.


About NWABA: 
The mission of Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) is to provide life-changing opportunities through sports and physical activity to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. A group of students who were visually impaired formed the association in 2007 to ensure that people who are blind were participating in sports and physical activity. Today, NWABA is a rapidly expanding 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides more than 1,900 children, youth, adults, and military veterans with visual impairments tailored programming which improves self-confidence and self-esteem, promotes independence, creates an inclusive community of supporters, and builds the skills necessary to succeed in all areas of life including school and employment.


For information: http://www.nwaba.org  or
Contact: media@nwaba.org
Phone:  1-360-768-5647

Attached Media Files: Celebrating Camp Spark , Tandem Biking , Athlete Participating in Track & Field , Athlete Participating in Beep Baseball , Athlete Participating in Discus

Thu. 07/22/21
Lower Snake River dams help region power through recent heatwave
Bonneville Power Administration - 07/22/21 3:03 PM

Portland, Oregon – During the late June heatwave, the four dams on the lower Snake River provided much-needed energy, balancing and contingency reserves, and Ice Harbor dam on the lower Snake River played a key role in keeping the lights on in the Tri-Cities area in eastern Washington. Without these four dams, powering through the heatwave could have been much more expensive and operationally challenging. 

“This is another example of the value these facilities provide the region from a clean energy perspective,” said Administrator John Hairston. “As the region continues to discuss the future of these facilities, we believe it is important to provide data and information about their performance as a solid foundation for discussions about the future of these four dynamic dams that provide carbon-free electricity and are important assets to mitigating the impacts of climate change.”

Power and Reserves provision

As the entire Northwest experienced record or near-record temperatures and record energy demand in parts of the region between June 25 and 30, BPA was able to meet high summer demand through careful power and transmission planning. BPA also canceled planned transmission maintenance to ensure high electricity flows would not cause congestion, which can lead to cascading outages across the region and the west.

At the four lower Snake River dams, operators ensured river flows were at or above minimum levels for juvenile fish migration. This meant the operation of the dams on the lower Snake River would fill each project overnight so there was enough water for fish and power production during the peak electricity consumption hours of the day.

For the duration of the heatwave, electrical generation on the four Snake River dams ranged between 439 and 1,009 megawatts. For perspective, the average consumption of the City of Seattle is approximately 1,000 MW. However, the four dams did much more. To be prepared for an emergency, BPA must have the ability to call on power reserves to ensure it can keep the lights on. For example, in the event that generators on the grid go out of service unexpectedly, other generators must be available to increase their power output instantaneously to ensure grid stability. The dams also provided balancing reserves to move up and down to adjust for generators that can stray from their energy schedules. As the region adds more intermittent renewable energy to mitigate climate change, these balancing reserves are becoming even more important. 

Over this five-day heatwave, BPA transferred some reserve requirements to the four lower Snake River dams. At times, these four dams held 15% of BPA’s total required reserves, peaking at 220 MW. At their highest, these dams provided 1,118 MW of combined energy production and reserve capacity. 

Ice Harbor relieves Tri-Cities transmission capacity issue

Ice Harbor dam played a key role in keeping the lights on in the Tri-Cities area during last month’s intense heat. Had Ice Harbor not been generating, it is likely BPA would have had to work with local customers to shift loads, which can take time and require some power outages or have rolling blackouts in selected areas in the Tri-Cities to protect the system from wider, cascading outages.

“BPA relies on Ice Harbor to relieve stress on our transmission system in the Tri-Cities area,” said Vice President of Transmission Operations Michelle Cathcart. “During the recent heatwave, Ice Harbor provided voltage stabilization and helped increase the amount of energy our system could provide to parts of the Tri-Cities.”

Post-heatwave analysis by BPA transmission engineers indicates, if Ice Harbor had not been generating, an unplanned loss of one of the key transformer banks would have caused a System Operating Limit exceedance. Also, the loss of a different key transformer bank would have pushed a facility to 98% of its capacity. While BPA did not have to work with customers to implement rolling blackouts, that may not have been the case if Ice Harbor were offline.

“If not for Ice Harbor, we would have been scrambling with customers to move loads around to avoid putting customers in the dark,” said Cathcart. “Given the amount of work done to avoid rotating blackouts with Ice Harbor in service last week, it’s hard to imagine getting enough additional relief from moving loads around to keep the lights on everywhere with the plant offline.”

. BPA markets the power from the lower Snake River dams and 27 other federal dams across the Northwest. The four federal dams on the lower Snake River have long been discussed for breaching or removal to help several runs of salmon and steelhead recover. In addition to delivering affordable and reliable carbon-free renewable, and providing critical support for the region’s high-voltage transmission system, these dams feature state-of-the art fish passage technology, and contribute to the region’s economy by supporting irrigation, navigation and recreation. 

The Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland are at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers.

About BPA

The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale, carbon-free hydropower from 31 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. It also markets the output of the region’s only nuclear plant. BPA delivers this power to more than 140 Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA also owns and operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of high-voltage power lines and 261 substations, and provides transmission service to more than 300 customers. In all, BPA provides nearly a third of the power generated in the Northwest. To mitigate the impacts of the federal dams, BPA implements a fish and wildlife program that includes working with its partners to make the federal dams safer for fish passage. It also pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain safe, affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest. 

WSU faculty receive $1.4 million grant for assessment addressing truancy in schools (Photo)
Washington State University Tri-Cities - 07/22/21 12:29 PM

RICHLAND, Wash. - Several Washington State University faculty are the recipients of a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand an assessment that helps address truancy in K-12 schools.

The Washington Assessment of the Risks and Needs of Students program, also known as WARNS, uses evidence-driven procedures to track and improve interventions with students. The program was developed in 2008 to assess students on a scale of six needs that have been linked to truancy, delinquency and/or dropping out of school: aggression-defiance, depression-anxiety, substance abuse, peer deviance, family environment and school engagement. More than 100 schools in Washington state and across the nation are now using the tool.

Paul Strand, WSU Tri-Cities professor of psychology, Brian French, Berry Family Distinguished professor and director of WSU’s Learning and Performance Research Center and Psychometric Laboratory, Nick Lovrich, WSU Regents professor emeritus, and Bruce Austin, research associate in educational psychology and the LPRC, have worked since 2014 to evaluate and refine WARNS. With the grant, the group is also adding the following members to their team to help refine the tool: Chad Gotch and Marcus Poppen, both WSU assistant professors in education, and Mary Roduta Roberts, an associate professor of occupational therapy at the University of Alberta.

French said what makes the program so successful is its ability to hone-in on issues that lead to truancy early in a student’s educational path. Schools can develop a plan for how to address those issues and increase the student’s likelihood of being successful. He said what was made especially clear amid the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to get information to counselors regarding student issues at home and other external factors that prevent students’ current and future success.

“This grant will also allow us more space to examine its success,” French said. “We will also be looking into specific implications of the WARNS – how it is used and the success when it is in use. We want to look at the implications and gather data to know how those conversations are helping and specific instances of how that is happening. Then, we can continue to build from that information.”

Updating the assessment

Strand said the new grant will allow the team to update the instrument in a few ways. He said a variety of new issues have arisen that have impacted school attendance and performance in recent years. Examples, he said, include the prevalence of vaping and social media use.

Additionally, the team aims to improve the middle school version of the instrument to tailor it further for issues that pertain to that specific age demographic.

“The grant allows us to explore the context of student situations and how to refine WARNS to reflect that context,” Strand said.

Identifying issues early to reduce truancy, drop-out rates

French said more than 10,000 assessments have been given through the program.

“To me, that represents 10,000 productive conversations that have occurred with kids,” he said. “We can look at the large numbers to help us do that, but each of those individual conversations are helping make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids each year.”

Strand said schools use the data from the assessment to develop and implement a plan for at-risk students through school community truancy boards to help prevent and/or correct student behavior.

“With the pandemic, we have seen that many counselors are struggling to stay connected and invested in kids,” he said. “But what we have seen with WARNS is that it has helped schools stay connected and invested in kids. The pandemic wasn’t something we could have envisioned, but it is a tool that has helped.”

For more information about WARNS, including how to implement it for individual schools or school districts, visit warns.wsu.edu.

100% of the project will be financed with federal money as a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences. The total dollar amount of grant funding received is $1,408,482.


Also view the press release on the WSU Tri-Cities website: https://tricities.wsu.edu/wsu-faculty-receive-1-4-million-grant-for-assessment-addressing-truancy-in-schools/

Attached Media Files: 2021-07/6937/146992/Brian-French-792x528.jpg , 2021-07/6937/146992/Paul-Strand-1-1024x684-1-792x529.jpg

PSESD Announces Regional Teacher of the Year and Classified School Employee of the Year (Photo)
Puget Sound ESD - 07/22/21 10:00 AM
Boo Balkan Foster, Regional Teacher of the Year (photo by Melissa Ponder, courtesy of Native Action Network)
Boo Balkan Foster, Regional Teacher of the Year (photo by Melissa Ponder, courtesy of Native Action Network)

July 22, 2021

PSESD Announces Regional Teacher of the Year and Classified School Employee of the Year
Local educators honored for excellence in education

Renton, Wash. — Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) is thrilled to announce its Regional Teacher of the Year, Boo Balkan Foster of Seattle Public Schools, and Regional Classified School Employee of the Year, Janis Campbell-Aikens of Auburn School District. Both recipients were nominated, evaluated and selected for the awards based on their professional biographies, outstanding work performance, professional leadership and collaboration, and any other unique qualities or circumstances.

Boo Balkan Foster is a š?qa?ib teacher in Native American Education at Chief Sealth International High School, who works with students in grades 6-12. She is a veteran educator, with 26 years of experience as a teacher. When asked to describe how she helps students make connections between school, their family and culture, and their local community, she shared “š?qa?ib is a Southern Lushootseed word meaning, ‘raising hands.’ We raise hands to say hello, good morning, thank-you and to show respect. However, it’s much more. It essentially means, ‘I hold you in the highest esteem.’ Viewing students through this lens is the first step in supporting connection to school, family, culture and community.” 

Janis Campbell-Aikens is the Child Nutrition Director in the Auburn School District. She is an innovative leader who focuses on excellence and consistency in the district’s Child Nutrition programs. Campbell-Aikens’s core belief is that “school days should be focused on learning and not impacted by concerns about food.” This shows up in her commitment to students’ growth, health, and academic development. It is notable that after a year in a pandemic, the Child Nutrition Department served 1,635,239 meals, highlighting their determination to ensure that students have food. 

Both award recipients are now qualified as candidates for the Washington State Educator Awards, which will be announced by Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in the fall. Teacher of the Year and Classified School Employee of the Year are equal parts recognition and professional development. Regional award recipients participate with their cohort in extensive training in communications, advocacy, and policy.

PSESD is one of nine regional educational agencies serving school districts, tribal compact schools, and state approved charter and private schools in Washington. Educational Service Districts, created by the legislature, are an essential regional delivery system for early learning and K–postsecondary services in the state.   


Attached Media Files: Janis Campbell-Aikens, Regional Classified School Employee of the Year , Boo Balkan Foster, Regional Teacher of the Year (photo by Melissa Ponder, courtesy of Native Action Network)

Wed. 07/21/21
PSESD Awarded Office of Head Start Federal Grant
Puget Sound ESD - 07/21/21 5:00 PM

July 21, 2021

PSESD Awarded Office of Head Start Federal Grant 
Funding to serve Head Start and Early Head Start children across King and Pierce counties


Renton, Wash. — Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) is pleased to announce that it has recently completed the grant application process for the Early Head Start/Head Start 412 federal grant and will receive $15.5 million per year over the next five years. This grant will fund programs and services for nearly 1,000 children enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start through PSESD. 

According to PSESD’s Early Learning leadership team, “PSESD is honored to continue to partner with so many amazing providers across the region to provide access to high quality, comprehensive early learning and care services, as we know these opportunities change trajectories for children and families and are strongly aligned with our end: success for each child and eliminate the opportunity gap by leading with racial equity.”  

The total funding available through this grant was $20.2 million, to serve children and families in King and Pierce counties. Alongside PSESD, Neighborhood House was awarded $4.7 million per year for five years, to serve infants and toddlers in the Burien and White Center area. PSESD and Neighborhood House are working together to transition services and will collaborate to provide a continuum of services to the community.

PSESD applied for all $20.2 million available with the intent to serve over 1,300 infants, toddlers and pregnant women in King and Pierce counties. Recent expansion opportunities for ECEAP (Washington State-funded preschool) that were also awarded to PSESD will provide several hundred additional enrollment opportunities for preschool-aged children in the two-county region. Kay Lancaster, PSESD Early Learning Department Executive Director shared, “The excellent timing of ECEAP expansion opportunities will help to bring these early learning experiences to more children across our region, thereby helping our youngest learners to be well-prepared with strong school and life readiness skills.”

PSESD is one of nine regional educational agencies serving school districts, tribal compact schools and state approved charter and private schools in Washington State. Educational service districts, created by the legislature, are essential regional delivery systems for early learning and K–postsecondary services in the state. PSESD is committed to becoming an antiracist multicultural organization in order to achieve our agency end: success for each child and eliminate the opportunity gap by leading with racial equity.


Sun. 07/18/21
70-year-old Grandmother Goes On Hunger Strike Over Failed Discharge Practices at Western State Hospital
Rethinking Psychiatry - 07/18/21 11:22 PM

On July 4th, 70-year-old Vancouver resident Cindi Fisher began a hunger strike in protest of her adult child’s continued confinement at Western State Hospital. Cindi Fisher is demanding that Siddarta Fisher be put back on Western State Hospital’s discharge list and immediately released without restrictions. Siddharta had been removed from the discharge list without explanation.


Western State Hospital continues to be under investigation regarding failed discharge practices. Such failure is a possible violation of the Olmstead Decision, a federal Supreme Court decision that requires that people with disabilities receive care in the least restrictive accommodation whenever available. This means that people with psychiatric disabilities cannot be kept indefinitely in psychiatric confinement if a less restrictive accommodation is available.


  • On March 27th, 2020, Siddharta Fisher was arrested by police after experiencing a mental health crisis in Vancouver, WA.

  • In mid-April, 2021, Siddharta was determined to be discharge ready from Western State Hospital.

  • After weeks of the hospital not making progress towards discharge, Siddharta and Cindi Fisher took the initiative and worked out accommodations that would accept Siddharta and set up wrap around services from a local mental health agency that Siddharta had worked well with before. The hospital agreed to the plan, but still did not give Siddharta a firm date for release.

  • On June 28, 2021, after Cindi Fisher informed the hospital administration that she would commence a hunger strike based on what seemed like a violation of the Olmstead Decision, Siddharta was given a July 1 discharge date.

  • On June 30, 2021, less than 23 hours before Siddharta’s long awaited release, the discharge was blocked with no explanation before or at the time.

  • Cindi Fisher stated, “For the last 6 weeks, Sidd had such laser focus about getting discharged, and was so articulate about going home and what freedom would feel like. When Sidd’s long and desperately awaited walk to Freedom was revoked by Dr. Ziskind and medical director Dr. Waiblinger less than 23 hours before I was due to pick her up, it had a harsh and crushing effect on Sidd's mental health. She lost her clarity and hope.”


Because of structural inequalities, black and gender non-conforming people like Siddharta experience increased vulnerability to mental health crises, less access to quality treatment, and the least access to resources to continue care after discharge. Black patients receive more stigmatizing diagnoses for the same symptoms, higher doses of medication, and a higher likelihood of going to jail rather than a hospital for the same actions.


Western State Hospital has also been decertified, and defunded $53 million annually by Medicare due to the dangerous conditions that threaten both staff and patients, among other reasons.