Former Hoquiam choir teacher Matthew Hirschfelder will not serve any jail time, but will not teach again, after being sentenced on Tuesday in Grays Harbor Superior Court. Prosecutor Stu Menafee says Hirschfelder received a two year suspended sentence after he plead guilty to a charge of Coercion following a sexual relationship with an 18 year old student in 2006. In return for the suspended sentence, Hirschfelder will drop the appeal of the suspension of his teaching certificate. The deal ends a five year process that saw Hirschfelder argue that he had done nothing criminal since his 18 year old victim was not a minor. However, Hirschfelder did face a charge of Sexual Misconduct with a Minor after the Supreme Court ruled that any sexual relationship between a teacher and student can be prosecuted. Although the case was drawn out over five years and ultimately ended in a plea deal, Menafee tells KXRO that in the end an important standard has been set, sending a message to teachers that such action will not be tolerated. Menafee says it was unfortunate that the victim in the case had to be put through such a long process, but that finally everyone can move on.
The medical insurance for the employees of Grays Harbor Paper Company is ending at the end of this month. Being able to continue to have their families insured for healthcare and there are options available to GHP families through various insurance companies to keep uninterrupted coverage. There are some definite timeframes to keep in mind: They must have applications in by May 31st at 5PM to have no gap in coverage. There is a 90 day window to avoid underwriting and still have guaranteed acceptance, a 63 day window to still get credit for the 9 month pre-existing condition waiting period, and only a 31 day window to get children insured. Timeframes begin with the date of coverage loss: May 31st.
Lakeside High School was too much for Montesano’s touted fastpitch team in Spokane. For the second time in two days, Lakeside knocked off the Bulldogs, winning Saturday 5-0 to eliminate Montesano, one win shy of yet another state trophy. The loss in the consolation semifinals ended a remarkable day for the Bulldogs who won two one-run games on Saturday, beating Castle Rock 7-6 and Ridgefield 5-4. In the 1B Tournament in Yakima, Wishkah fell out of the consolation bracket on Saturday, losing to Selkirk 10-0.
Grays Harbor Economic Development Council has formed an exploratory group to investigate all options available for the Grays Harbor Paper facility in Hoquiam, Washington. Core members of this team include the City of Hoquiam, City of Aberdeen, Grays Harbor Public Utility District and Port of Grays Harbor. In addition, the Washington State Department of Commerce is working with the group. Several considerations are on the table, however it is too early to tell what options may be available for the facility and the workforce. EDC Executive Director Tim Gibbs says “A commitment has been made to work through this situation as quickly as possible. Restoring the family wage jobs that were lost is top priority”. In addition to the EDC group, Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney says he would like the help of Governor Chris Gregoire, who helped keep the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill in front of potential buyers.
After dropping their opener, Wishkah Valley fastpitch rebounded with a 10-5 win over Highland Christian. The Loggers will play one to two games today for 3rd or 4th place in Yakima.
Aberdeen’s stay at the 2A Fastpitch Tournament was a short one. In their first ever state trip, the Bobcats beat Granite Falls 16-5 in the opening round, but lost to Selah, 10-2 and WF West, 12-2 to end their run at a state trophy. In the 1A Tournament, Hoquaim went two and out, losing to Friday Harbor, 6-4 and Riverview, 7-6. Also in Spokane, Montesano continued its history of good play at state. Although they lost to Lakeside 8-1 in the first round, Monte bounced back with a 10-1 win over Cedar Park Christian to stay alive for the 3rd-4th place game on Saturday. In the 1B Tournament in Yakima, Wishkah lost to Garfield-Palouse in the first round 16-2. Second round scores were not reported.
As the news of the closure of the Grays Harbor Paper facility sinks in, employees and support business owners are beginning the search for new jobs and opportunities. As to the future of the facility itself, Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney says he is hopeful that a feasibility study can be put together to examine the mill and announce whether or not it is a viable facility with a desired product. Durney says the city may turn to Governor Chris Gregoire who orchestrated a similar study in Cosmopolis that led to the mill being reopened by the Gores Group under the name Cosmo Specialty Fibers. Durney says the city and region’s relationship with Panaltech’s Roy Nott and investor Richard Bassett, both of whom helped keep the Cosmopolis mill in front of potential buyers can only help Hoquiam in this case.
With it’s tower complete, crews are now working to raise the radome of the Langley Hill Doppler Radar site into place. The next generation radar will be raised into position by crane and hooked up to the system that will relay detailed information on approaching storms to the National Weather Service.
The Pacific Northwest has been extremely fortunate eluding the devastating weather and natural disasters which have wreaked havoc worldwide over the past 2-3 years. In the US, extreme cold and record snowfalls were recorded in the Northeast. Flooding continues to impact the South and all along the Mississippi. Currently, the Midwest is being threatened by daily destructive tornadoes.
Since 1953, there have been 42 Presidential Disaster Declarations in Washington State including flooding, severe storm, earthquake, wildfire and volcano which breaks down to one disaster every 17 months. Grays Harbor County has been named in 8 of the last 9 Presidential Disaster Declarations in Washington State between 2001 and 2011 or one disaster every 15 months.
Grays Harbor County Emergency Management would like to advise all citizens to become PRO-ACTIVE and begin preparing for any weather or disaster situation. Essential preparation issues include:
1) Obtain an All Hazard Weather Radio, program it to the proper frequency and change the batteries in it every time we change the clocks.
2) Sign up for the Grays Harbor County Notification System You’ll receive a text message, phone call and an e-mail with information about weather or disaster related issues.
3) Find out where the closest assembly area and shelter is located and practice moving to those areas with your entire family.
4) All members of your family should have a person to call outside of Grays Harbor County to inform of their situation in the event they are separated from your family during an emergency or weather situation.
5) Prepare a GO-KIT backpack to keep in your car (1) and at work (2) with: ** These are minimal amounts **
a) an AM/FM battery operated portable radio
c) 1- 2 bottles of water for each person and for each pet in the household.
d) Matches in a waterproof container (plastic bag)
e) Snack bars for your family and a small plastic bag of food for each pet
f) A sweatshirt or light jacket for each member
g) Disposable rain poncho for each member of your family
h) Hand warmer packets
i) Package of sanitary wipes
j) Pocketknife (be aware there may be restrictions for the workplace)
6) Begin assembling emergency supplies at home to last for a minimum of 3 days in the event a situation occurs where you need to shelter in place.
For more information on becoming PRO-ACTIVE and to sign up for the Grays Harbor County Notification System, please go to the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management website at: http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/DEM/Index.asp or call (360) 249-3911.
2A Tournament at Mt Tahomah High School, Tacoma
1A/2B/1B Tournament at Eastern Washington University, Cheney
2A Tournament Selah
Aberdeen v. Granite Falls, Friday at noon
1A Tournament Spokane
Hoquiam v. Friday Harbor, Friday at noon
Montesano v. Lakeside, Friday at noon
1B Tournament Yakima
Wishkah Valley v. Garfield, Friday at 1:00