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  • Waitsburg student served as senate page

    Karen Huwe, The Times|Apr 13, 2023

    OLYMPIA-Fifteen-year-old Waitsburg High School sophomore Cedar Stegall was a little nervous but mostly excited before traveling to Olympia as a Senate page the week of March 26. Stegall said she knew little before the trip but learned about the parliamentary procedure while she was there. She hadn't been particularly interested in politics but thought it would be a fun experience when it was announced at school. Waitsburg teacher Gabe Kiefel shared his experience serving as a page in his youth,...

  • CERB invests $2.1 million in four counties

    Lane Gwinn, The Times|Mar 23, 2023

    OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) approved $2 million in low-interest loans and $150,000 in grants for economic development and public infrastructure improvements to spur business growth and job growth creation in communities throughout the state. • Columbia County – Will recieve a $50,000 grant to the Port of Columbia for the “BMS Craft Malt & Grain Cluster Study.” This planning study will determine the feasibility, optimal configuration, and next steps for developing the infrastru...

  • $100 million available for businesses affected by pandemic

    The Times|Mar 9, 2023

    OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Commerce announced a new grant opportunity for businesses in the hospitality and lodging industry that suffered business losses due to the pandemic. An informational webinar will be held on Monday, March 13. Information on the webinar and the application are available at wahospitalitygrants.com. The application portal opens on March 14. Questions can be emailed to info@wahospitalitygrants.com. The grants are open only to: Restaurants; food stands, trucks, and carts Caterers, bars, saloons, lounges, and...

  • Misinformation was focus at January Board of Health meeting

    Beka Compton, The Times|Jan 20, 2022

    OLYMPIA—The Washington State Board of Health (SBOH) received more than 7,500 public requests to speak at the January 12 meeting. Many comments were in reaction to misinformation that spread like wildfire on social media platforms leading up to the meeting. Executive Director Michelle Davis made Board announcements. She reminded board members that many comments are objections to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). In October 2021, the SBOH convened a...

  • COVID-19 cases rise in last two weeks

    The Times|Jan 6, 2022

    OLYMPIA—Washington state is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases, and experts predict increased transmission in the coming weeks. While it is still too early to tell how much of the increase is due to Omicron, epidemiologists with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) agree it is most likely the dominant strain. While the state waits for complete data from county health departments, the highest single-day of new cases was reported on December 24, with 6,140 new COVID-19 cases. Despite the increase in testing for the holidays, offici...

  • Recommendations from Washington State Parks to improve three local area parks

    Justin Jaech, The Times|Nov 18, 2021

    Washington State Parks held a public meeting on November 8, 2021, at 6 PM in Dayton Elementary School multipurpose room. Although the public sparsely attended the meeting, the topics covered will affect many in the Touchet Valley. The representatives from Washington State Parks presented preliminary recommendations from the Land Classification and Long-Term Boundary planning for Lyons Ferry State Park, Palouse Falls State Park, and Lewis and Clark Trail State Park. These recommendations are from... Full story

  • Vaccination mandate has minimal impact on local hospitals

    The Times|Oct 21, 2021

    OLYMPIA—Monday, October 18, was the deadline for workers in specific sectors, including private and public healthcare, state employees, and education, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs. As the deadline neared, concerns about the mandate’s impact on healthcare staffing and services have raised throughout the state. A spokesperson for Providence St. Mary Medical Center and the Providence Medical Group in Walla Walla said their hospital has a high compliance rate that would not significantly impact its ope...

  • Single-use plastic bag ban went into effect on October 1

    The Times|Oct 7, 2021

    OLYMPIA—After more than a year delay, a statewide single-use plastic bag ban went into effect on Friday, October 1, for Washington’s retail, restaurant, and grocery stores. Washington joins eight states, including Hawaii, California, and Oregon, and multiple cities across the country in efforts to reduce plastic consumption and pollution. The state legislation passed in 2020 and was set to go into effect in January 2021. The delay was caused by limited access to compatible bag materials. Lik...

  • Behavioral Health Resources for Back to School

    The Times|Sep 16, 2021

    OLYMPIA —As students and educators head back into the classroom and restart the in-person learning routine, the Department of Health (DOH) provides behavioral health tips and resources for navigating the emotional responses that children, teens, and adults may have experienced during this exciting and stressful time. The COVID-19 Back-to-Classroom THINK Toolbox is a resource to help with adjusting to the return of in-person school and learning. THINK, which stands for Teaching with Healthcare Informed Neurological Strategies for Kids, is a t... Full story

  • Inslee statement on 20th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks

    The Times|Sep 16, 2021

    “My fellow Washingtonians, today marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in this country on September 11, 2001. As we remember this tragedy and honor our nation’s resilience, this time is also an opportunity to strengthen our national consciousness and consider what we can keep doing to advance freedom. “Twenty years is a long time, but all of us who lived through these events remember where we were that day. I was in our nation’s capital, serving in Congress, where I saw the smoke rise from the Pen...

  • Health officials warn against using Ivermectin to treat, prevent COVID-19

    Beka Compton, The Times|Sep 2, 2021

    OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) warns against using Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug commonly used for humans and animals, to treat or prevent COVID-19. Ivermectin, first discovered in 1975 and commercialized in 1980, began making COVID-19 headlines last year, after Australian researchers reported that the drug could inhibit in vitro coronavirus replication in large doses. The drug has been permitted as treatment in some of the worst-hits areas of the world, including S...

  • Delta variant drives dramatic spike in cases, exhausting hospital capacity across the state

    The Times|Aug 19, 2021

    OLYMPIA—COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are accelerating across the state of Washington, demonstrating the delta variant’s potential to unravel the state’s hard-fought progress toward recovery. Unvaccinated people have been hit hardest, and public health officials continue to urge everyone who are not fully vaccinated to do so immediately. Now is also the time to redouble efforts around the key behaviors that keep the virus from spreading. All people should: Wear a mask, watch distance, wash hands often, carry hand sanitizer, and enabl...

  • Inslee issues final utility moratorium extension

    The Times|Jul 8, 2021

    OLYMPIA—Govenor Jay Inslee issued an extension of the utility moratorium proclamation last week, which will now expire on September 30, 2021. This will be the final extension of the proclamation and the extension will align with the end date of the tenancy preservation bridge (21-09) to give Washingtonians struggling with housing payments time to prepare and seek assistance before both proclamations expire. “Utilities and housing are inextricably linked,” Inslee said. “Our priority is to keep Washingtonians safe and housed, and give them a...

  • Inslee statement on June 30 reopening

    The Times|Jul 1, 2021

    OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement today ahead of Washington’s upcoming June 30 reopening for individuals and businesses preparing to return to normal capacity and operations. “Washington has come a long way since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country was found in our state January 2020, and that is in no small part due to Washingtonians’ dedication and resilience in protecting themselves and their communities throughout the pandemic. “Because folks listened to the science and stayed home to stay healthy, wore mask...

  • Don't forget your mask after June 30

    The Times|Jul 1, 2021

    OLYMPIA – The Secretary of Health’s mask order will remain in place even after June 30, which means that people who are not fully vaccinated need to continue to wear a face mask in public indoor settings even when things start to go back to normal as the state reaches a reopening milestone. All people, regardless of vaccination status, are still required to wear masks in certain places, such as schools and health care settings. In most other settings, people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask. Businesses and local aut... Full story

  • Drought advisory issued for Washington

    The Times|Jun 3, 2021

    The Department of Ecology (DOE) issued a drought advisory for most of Washington State, including Walla Walla and Columbia Counties, on May 27 following several extremely dry months. This year, March through April was the fourth driest period for the state since 1865. Ranchers, farmers, and agriculture professionals from the affected regions have expressed growing concerns. Early crop observations show crop stress and have set an expectation for reduced yields, with wheat and hay crops being... Full story

  • Inslee announces two-week pause on phase movement despite case count rise

    The Times|May 6, 2021

    OLYMPIA-Governor Jay Inslee Tuesday announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. Under the pause, every Washington State county will remain in its current phase, and will be reevaluated at the end of the two-week pause. The decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health, and reflects current data suggesting that the state's fourth COVID-19 wave has hit a plateau. "We are at the intersection of progress and failure, and we...

  • Three counties roll back to Phase 2

    Beka Compton, The Times|Apr 15, 2021

    OLYMPIA—Governor Jay Inslee Monday announced that three Washington State counties would roll back to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan after failing to meet the necessary metrics. The three counties returning to Phase 2 are Cowlitz County, Pierce County, and Whitman County. “These metric trends are driven by the virus, and we must continue to do everything we can to sharpen our focus and keep COVID-19 activity down. We are so close to the end of the tunnel here — we have made...

  • A little less plastic: Bag ban a part of the "new normal"

    Beka Compton, The Times|Apr 8, 2021

    The lion of early spring has roared, and shops are embracing the relaxed pandemic-related restrictions as they shake off the winter blues. As shoppers, we have gotten used to wearing face masks and the smell of hand sanitizer, and before we know it, we will be used to packing reusable shopping bags with us. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington shoppers use two billion single-use plastic bags each year. Most bags go in the trash once people get home and put their...

  • New round of Working Washington Grants, March 29

    The Times|Apr 1, 2021

    OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Commerce opened applications for Working Washington Grants: Round 4 on March 29. Business owners can find information about the program and a link to the application portal at www.commercegrants.com. This is the fourth round of the Working Washington Grant program. Legislators approved $240 million for the current round as part of an early action bill that also provided additional funding for rent assistance and other COVID-19 response efforts. Some of the criteria outlined in this legislation i...

  • Department of Health adopting CDC guidance on safe behaviors post-vaccine

    The Times|Mar 11, 2021

    OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is adopting the guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding post-vaccine behavior. If someone has been fully vaccinated, they can: • Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people in private residences without wearing a mask and, • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household in private residences (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an in...

  • 2020 overdose death rates show alarming trend; fentanyl partly to blame

    The Times|Feb 25, 2021

    OLYMPIA—Overdose deaths accelerated in Washington in 2020, increasing by 38% in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. Most of that increase came from deaths involving fentanyl, a powerful opioid. Preliminary data show 835 overdose deaths in the first six months of 2020 compared to 607 deaths in the first half of 2019. Fentanyl-involved deaths more than doubled from 137 to 309 during that time. Most deaths involved multiple substances. The increase in overdose deaths was highest among groups already dealing with i...

  • State parks hiring aides and senior park aides

    The Times|Feb 25, 2021

    OLYMPIA—Washington State Parks announces its annual recruitment for various park aide and senior park aide positions across the state. The available park aide and senior park aide positions are seasonal and non-permanent. Each summer, State Parks employs 400 park aides and 45 senior park aides to work the busy season, which runs from April through September. Park aides register campers, maintain trails, clean campgrounds and comfort stations, and perform various custodial maintenance chores. They also may work in park offices, interact with v...

  • All regions in State are now in Phase 2 of reopening plan

    Feb 18, 2021

    OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that a hospital in the South-Central Region of the Healthy Washington Plan misreported data, which led to a determination that the region remain in Phase 1 of Governor Jay Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery phased reopening plan. When the region was the only one not move to Phase 2, it was brought to the attention of DOH that a hospital in the region appeared to be incorrectly reporting its hospital admission data. After learning that the hospital, Providence St. Mary Medical Cen... Full story

  • Dozier, Klicker officially sworn into office

    The Times|Jan 14, 2021

    Republican Mark Klicker was officially sworn into office as a member of the Washington State House of Representatives to serve the 16th Legislative District on Friday, January 8, 2021. "I am very humbled and honored to serve the people of the 16th District," said Klicker, in a release. "These are challenging and unique times in the state. We need to come together on both sides of the aisle to find solutions that help everyone, and get Washington moving forward again." As he begins his term in...

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