Washington hikes minimum wage, tops nation
OLYMPIA Washington is one of seven states that increased the minimum wage Jan. 1 and our state has the highest minimum wage in the country at $8.67 after a 12-cent increase. Over 650,000 workers in Colorado, Washington, Montana, Arizona, Ohio, Oregon and Vermont will see their wages rise in 2011.
Arizona will get a 10-cent raise to $7.35; Colorado will see an 11-cent raise to $7.36; Montana will get a 10-cent raise to $7.35; Ohio will get a 10-cent raise to $7.40; Oregon will receive a 10-cent raise to $8.50; and Vermont will get a 9-cent raise to $8.15.
The minimum wage increase is necessary for workers to deal with rising costs, National Employment Law Project Director Christine Owens said. Regular increases in the minimum wage that help workers keep up with rising living costs are critical during economic times and directly benefit workers and state economies.
Owens said, These small increases mean that thousands of minimum wage earners like health aides, child care workers, restaurant workers, and retail clerks are better able to put food on the table, provide for their children, and keep a roof over their head.
Ferry fares rise between Puget Island, Westport
CATHLAMET According to Pete Ringen, director/county engineer of Wahkiakum County Public Works, as of Jan. 1, the Wahkiakum County commissioners have approved an increase in the cost of trip packs on the Puget Island Ferry. The 22-trip half-book costs $14 more, and is $64; the 44-trip pack now costs $25 more, and is $125. There has been no change in the single trip rate.
Linking Cathlamet and Westport, the ferry is the only way for automobiles to get across the Columbia River between Astoria and Longview. The increases in fares that have been implemented in the last two years are hoped to bring in an extra annual $85,000.
Long Beach thanked for domestic violence work
LONG BEACH During public comment at Mondays Long Beach City Council meeting, Kendall Biggs, co-founder of the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, thanked the council and mayor for supporting this past summers run to memorialize Lisa Bonney and raise domestic violence awareness. He stated that there were 73 participants and the event raised funds for Crisis Support Network.
Biggs said that he and co-founder Scott Klingler have been considering applying for non-profit status, which would help them in their goal to educate young people about respectful relationships and also supply gas money, hotel stipends and other necessities to victims of domestic violence.
The second annual Domestic Violence Awareness Project 5k run is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.
Long Beach resident Al Pilger expressed dissatisfaction with the lighting in the Chinook tunnel.
During council reports, several members of the board said they received positive responses in regards to the citys Christmas light displays.
Councilman Jerry Phillips reported that the Elks Lodge served over 400 meals on Christmas. He also thanked the city crew for their work to collect funds and donations for local food charities.
In his mayors report, Bob Andrew announced that Country and Sunset magazines recently featured articles about Long Beach. He also said a date will soon be set for an open house for citizens to tour the new water plant.
Due to the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, the next Long Beach City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.
Legislators dont want Basic Health eliminated
OLYMPIA (AP) Legislative leaders say that they will look at alternatives to Gov. Chris Gregoires proposed eliminations of state-funded health care for the poor and assistance for the disabled.
But Gregoire says the states budget is in such bad shape that there arent many options left to cut in the budget.
When the 2011 legislative session begins next week, lawmakers will be tasked to patch a projected $4.6 billion deficit. Last month, Gregoire unveiled an all-cuts budget that eliminated the states Basic Health and Disability Lifeline programs for a cut of more than $550 million.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said that lawmakers will seek reforms within the programs to shave off costs, instead of completely cutting them.
Gregoire says there are programs the state cant afford anymore, such as health care coverage for the poor.
High tide helps refloat grounded fishing boat
NEAH BAY (AP) An overnight high tide helped refloat a fishing boat that ran aground near Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Department of Ecology says the 88-foot commercial vessel was pulled from a beach near Shipwreck Point early Tuesday.
Officials say there are no reports of any oil spill or discharge, but a floating boom was placed around the boat as a precaution until the Coast Guard inspects it.
Ecology, the Coast Guard and the Makah Tribe responded when the vessel ran aground Monday evening.
Salmonella outbreak blamed on Kent sprouts
OLYMPIA (AP) Washington and Oregon health officials say six Northwest residents have fallen ill in a salmonella outbreak linked to clover sprouts from a Kent company.
Four illnesses have been reported in Washington and two in Oregon; no one has required hospitalization.
Sprouters Northwest of Kent has voluntarily recalled the products. The sprouts are sold in a variety of package sizes labeled clover sprouts or as mixed varieties that contain clover sprouts as an ingredient. The recalled products all have a best by date of 1/16/11 and earlier.
Oregon Public Health officials say the sprouts were sold in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia and possibly other states.
Salmonellosis is a common infection that can cause diarrhea, fever and vomiting.