Seattle's Magnolia Neighborhood News Blog

Magnolia Voice header image 4

Entries Tagged as 'Uncategorized'

Stranger incident Saturday

March 1st, 2015 by Sara

Kristin writes:

Magnolia Friends, This morning around 9:45 my two boys (3rd and 1st grades) and the neighbor boy (4th grade) were riding their scooters on the sidewalk at Viewmont and Raye. I looked outside and noticed a man approach them and then stop to chat. The conversation occurred across the street from my house and I watched for a second to see if the man was just making small talk while passing by. I watched one of the boys point to the two houses they all live in, seemingly in response to the man asking where the kids live. I went out onto my porch, the man looked over to where I was, then moved on. I asked the boys what the man said, the first thing being how handsome my younger son was. The man was wearing black pants, a black sweatshirt or sweater with red detailing and a black baseball-type hat. He seemed to be in his mid to late 40s (maybe older) and was of Asian or Latin descent. Coincidentally, another neighbor noticed an unmarked black van parked on the same side of the street about 1 block north of where this occurred. I have reported both the man and the van to the police. They are issuing a “Request to Watch” with our precinct. I have also posted this to the neighborhood list serv. Please be on the look out.


Private security patrols Q&A

February 26th, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley
One of the companies showing distinct interest in providing services to help facilitate private security patrols in Magnolia is a company called CopsForHire(.com). Magnolia Voice spoke with company president Andrew Finley about security patrols in general and his company’s offerings in particular.
Unlike companies which act as temporary employment agencies for off-duty officers, CopsForHire is software that allows police departments and officers who want moonlighting jobs to interact with those who wish to hire them. In this hypothetical case, the customer is the Magnolia Patrol Association.
CopsForHire software lists jobs in an easy-to-use format, keeps track of hours on the job, and automatically issues checks from funds held in escrow, according to Finley.
The following is an edited conversation to shed light on the subject of private patrols.
Magnolia Voice: Tell us specifically about the services a company such as yours provides?
Andrew Finley: We are a complete management software company that allows police departments, officers, and entities such as private companies to manage all police off-duty resources. The needs of all parties come together in one system to allow them to manage the officers, and officers to manage their own off-duty opportunities. It allows companies to hire cops, pay for cops, manage the cops who are working for them, and pay them through an escrow system.
We don’t get paid until the officers do the job. It’s an online, cloud-based software.
You have (1) officers who are logged-in and profiled on the system, (2) police departments, and (3) companies wanting to hire for shifts, in this case the Magnolia neighborhood.
Magnolia would set up jobs and shifts and post them. Once they’re posted, at which point Seattle Police Officers in our system will see them.
We’re simplifying and facilitating the process so there is no middleman. All this is is a management software to give Magnolia complete control over what the officer is doing and not doing.
MV: What is your background?
Finley: I’m a retired Pierce County deputy. I also worked for the King County Sheriff’s Department after that. We are also the founder of the 911 driving school system. We had 750,000 kids go through our system using our software. We make it easy for neighborhoods to manage police on private patrols.
MV: How is your company paid?
Finley: We have a set fee of 15% of the job. That’s our standard fee. We don’t get paid until the job is done. For the Magnolia neighborhood, because of its non-profit nature, our offer is to cut that fee in half in perpetuity.
MV: What is this private security patrol going to cost residents? Where is the money going?
Finley: The monies raised would constitute a budget. The Magnolia Patrol Association would then allocate the budget to pay for services. We have an agreement with an escrow company. Once Magnolia lists the patrol and the requirements for it – times, days, shifts – the board deposits the money in escrow. It doesn’t belong to the company. The officer comes out and performs his shift. He enters his times automatically into the system. It calculates all the hourly rates. He gets paid directly into his account, and then we take our fee.
MV: Do you think that Magnolia has the kind of property crime that can benefit from a service such as yours? How do you know we have the level of crime to justify your service?
Finley: The fact that so many people showed up at the first meeting Saturday tells me there’s a serious problem. There is a solution to it. We are hoping to be that solution. It’s about the community and how they feel or perceive their safety.
MV: Does that turn out tell you there’s a problem here?
Finley: People get burglarized or they get their car prowled and people don’t report it. If the only people who were to show up actually had a police report written, there would not be that many people there.
MV: The levels of service and the numbers of patrols will be secret. Why?
Finley: Loose lips sink ships. You don’t want the bad guys to know when the patrols are working or how many. But you do want them to know that they are there. Criminals do their homework. They are not that stupid.
MV: You provide actual police officers in uniform with weapons. Is that better than a regular security guard who is not a sworn officer?
Finley: Do you want someone out there who can call 911 and hope to get a response, or do you want someone who can actually act as a police officer and make arrests?
MV: How do we know the officer on duty is taking care of business and not slacking?
Finley: Our recommendation is to have a car that’s assigned to the Magnolia Patrol Association. You might be able to acquire an old patrol car from the City of Seattle. That means they’ll have the shield and the radio. Our recommendation is to give the officer a cell phone that’s issued by the Magnolia Patrol Association. A cell phone will give subscribers direct access to the officer on patrol. They can text requests for patrols, vacation requests, or suspicious person activity. The premium members who are paying for the service get these extras. The non-paying part of the community benefits with the extra patrols. Not everyone will pay.
MV: Please elaborate. What about those who don’t pay versus those who will?
Finley: Premium members who pay receive added benefits. They will have direct access to the officers on patrol, for example. Subscribers will be issued the phone number. They can use the phone number for GPS tracking. Residents can see where the officer is located. Non-subscribers benefit because of the presence of patrols, but subscribers have additional benefits. Those who don’t pay can still call 911. The whole community benefits by having police on patrol. Everyone benefits from an increased police presence.
MV: Can you cite successes elsewhere with your program?
Finley: We are a new company. We launched in November. We are currently in talks with several departments to include Kirkland Police Department. We have departments in Cincinnati. We have police in Pennsylvania. We are bidding for a contract in Tampa. We are growing.
MV: Are there neighborhoods outside of Seattle that are considering private patrols? Is this a trend?
Finley: Yes, it’s very much a trend. They are all over the country. Police can’t deal with property crimes if they’re out there dealing with stabbings.
MV: There are those who question the need for these patrols. Would you expect success that would lower the rates of property crimes in Magnolia?
Finley: Yes, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a commonsense approach to solving a problem. If you have a lot of crime in the area and you put additional police there, crime will go down. If you take police away from an area, crime goes up. If there are too many police, bad guys aren’t going to go there. It’s very simple.
MV: How is your company different from others in your field?
Finley:  We are not a temp agency. We are not involved in hiring, firing, or who gets to work. The neighborhood would have complete control over who is hired. Officers can be rated. If they don’t show up on time, or if there are other problems, the neighborhood association can rate officers’ performance. The neighborhood is not stuck in one contract. In fact, we don’t even use a contract. We have a good service. If you like it, use it. You can cancel anytime.
We feel we have great software that will benefit this community. We have solutions to make sure the concerns of the community are met.
MV: Is there a difference between patrols in actual police cars versus private vehicles? Which is better?
Finley: A fully-marked patrol car is best. If an officer makes an arrest, where is he going to put him? In his personal car? Is the bad guy going to dump drugs in the backseat of his personal car? It’s just not a good idea to use personal cars. If you want a patrol car, and the city allows it, you can pay an additional rate for the car itself. That’s based on the department’s cost. If the neighborhood wants the patrol car, the department charges an additional fee. Our software can take care of the invoicing.
MV: Your company has its hat in the ring to provide services. It’s not a done deal, is it?
Finley: No, we are just an option. We are an option for the Magnolia Patrol Association for how much they spend. They can have as many police as the budget will allow. You’re not set with one company saying, “our fees are $60 an hour.” It’s not like that. You can hand select the officer you want. Or you can open it to all of the officers in Seattle. Whoever is in our system. Most entities that hire police officers want the patrol vehicle to go with the deal. It’s a big billboard reminder that there is a cop there. That’s the impact you want.
Additionally, for your consideration, CopsForHire will donate $2,000 toward the purchase of a MPA patrol vehicle.
Contact Andrew Finley:


Low clouds

February 26th, 2015 by Sara

K. Kennell writes:

It was amazing to see the freighters stacked up but these clouds were dramatic hanging over Magnolia and the Sound.

Thanks, K!

→ No Comments

Magnolia bridge to the past

February 25th, 2015 by Sara

208BComplied by Monica Wooton,
Magnolia Historical Society Board Member

Magnolia, because of its isolation, waterways and hilly terrain had its share of wooden trestles, eight major ones documented, which were a phenomenon of the late 1800 and early 1900’s. The now 86 year old “new” Magnolia Bridge came about because of a trestle disaster and community fight to get it.

What happened here was not uncommon a fate of these structures. Hal Will in his chapter “Magnolia’s Wooden Trestles”, in Magnolia: Memories & Milestones defines the structures “…as cross-braced wood structures of timbers or piling to carry pedestrian, railroad or other vehicle traffic. They typically do not span very long open spaces without a bridge truss. Seattle’s shorelines were laced with trestles in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Timber was plentiful and trestle construction was a well-known trade.” 

“…The most destructive day for Magnolia trestles was June 30, 1924. The next day The Seattle Times reported: “SEATTLE BRIDGES BURN, Replacements Will Cost City $250,000.” A fire on the Lawton Way trestle, believed to have been started by sparks from a steam locomotive, was brought under control within an hour but it broke bounds later and spread to the Wheeler Street trestle, virtually destroying it. In all, about 12 or 15 blocks of trestle were destroyed and the remainder of the structures was declared a total loss. Magnolians were again totally dependent on the Dravus Street trestle or the Garfield Street/23rd Avenue West trestles. This situation was to last almost five years.”

The resulting fight for the building of the new poured concrete Garfield Street Bridge, now called the Magnolia Bridge lasted for about 5 years and was not to be opened until 1930. Now, again, a new Magnolia Bridge design, decided upon in a 4 year process from 2002-2006 (brought on by questions of safety because of natural disasters and extensive repairs to the Bridge) still sits, another 9 years passing, with no current plans by the City to go ahead and replace it due to the inability to get the funding.


The Magnolia Bridge, now 86 years old itself, finally rises in 1930, after the Wheeler Street Bridge, a complex structure of wooden trestles and the primary way to get to Magnolia burned to the ground, nearly 6 years earlier. Photo 1930, Seattle Engineering Department #8880

The Magnolia Bridge, now 86 years old itself, finally rises in 1930, after the Wheeler Street Bridge, a complex structure of wooden trestles and the primary way to get to Magnolia burned to the ground, nearly 6 years earlier. Photo 1930, Seattle Engineering Department #8880


→ 1 Comment

Homeless woodpeckers

February 25th, 2015 by Sara

It looks like a bird or two may have been displaced last week.  MV reader April writes:

They are fixing up the Military Cemetery in Discovery Park and in doing so chopped down a tree next to the old sheds where two woodpeckers were living.  I hope they are okay.


→ No Comments

Big turnout for private security patrols

February 22nd, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley


The United Church of Christ had a full house Saturday with about 200 neighbors present to hear Joe Villarino explain the nuts and bolts of the private security patrol idea for Magnolia. He spoke to receptive audience.
With hand after hand shooting up with questions, Villarino and a neighborhood off-duty Seattle police officer did their best to answer them. Although some inquiries were too politically sensitive for our man in uniform, Villarino did his best to reply in his stead.
Meanwhile more than a dozen enthusiastic attendees wanted to pay the estimated $250 yearly fee on the spot to begin service. Villarino wouldn’t take a cent until by-laws are written, a governing board is set up, and a plan is put in place. Vigorous calls from the floor to, “take the money,” were rebuffed citing the lack of financial infrastructure.


A meeting for those who spoke of a desire to work on the volunteer board is this Thursday night. Several would-be board members stood and spoke. Villarino stated he has met with private patrol administrators from Laurelhurst, Whittier Heights, and Windermere where triumph over much property crime was a considered a success.
A lively crowd, many of whom were victims of thieves themselves, gave testimony along with pointed questions. In the end it was clear more time was needed  to authorize patrol services. Many in attendance wanted them to commence immediately.
No one spoke against the idea.
Downtown news media deemed this Magnolia story important enough to send news crews to our neighborhood including KOMO, KIRO, and KING. A documentary film maker was also in present rolling on the meeting for a future presentation on policing and communities.
Villarino estimates patrols could begin in May. He asks those with questions to email:
See the KIRO story HERE.


Chase Winter blues away with art classes

February 20th, 2015 by Sara


Gray Sky Gallery (new to Magnolia! In the work/loft building just South of Whole Foods) is offering kids and adult art classes. Local artists and Magnolia moms, Laura Van Horne and Julie Jacobson, are teaching a variety of classes starting at the beginning of March. Mixed media classes (using encaustic beeswax, acrylic and watercolor paint, sculpture, collage, textiles and more) offer a fun, experimental place to create, make a mess or to make a masterpiece. Even if it’s just a few fun things to hang on the wall! They have a ton of ideas to share.

Kids class is a 5 week session held on Saturdays from 9.30-10.30 and 11-12, with an age range of 6-12. Max 20 students.
Adult encaustic class is a 4 week session. Class runs on Thursday nights March 12 through April 2 from 6:30-8:30pm. Max 10 students per class.
Classes are now available online.

→ No Comments

Armed robbery of Corner Store

February 20th, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley
DSC04016 DSC04019

Just before noon today, Magnolia Voice on the scene of a robbery of the Corner Store, 2809 Thorndyke Avenue West. Neighbors were alerted to police activity including an SPD canine unit searching for a man police describe as a “young hispanic male.” No suspect was located.
Witnesses say the perpetrator indicated a weapon by pointing it at the clerk as it poked from his jacket pocket.
Police were taking fingerprints. The distraught owner declined a request for an interview.DSC04028


Reminder: The initial meeting for private security patrols in Magnolia is tomorrow (Saturday) at the United Church of Christ, 3555 West McGraw Street. Meeting starts at noon. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.


Meet Scott Ward, Magnolia’s Business Person of the Year

February 19th, 2015 by Sara



Scott Ward, of Scott Ward Art and Current and Furbish, has been named Magnolia’s Business Person of the Year by the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce. Magnolia Voice caught up with the artist and asked him a little bit about his art and inviting Village shop:

MV:What was the inspiration for your store?

SW: We wanted to offer unique and creative items. This includes refurbished furniture, found items, as well as art, housewares, gifts, cards, puzzles – all interesting, colorful and special.  Nothing we carry is made in China.  We focus on country of origin pieces and are always looking for new things.

MV: What do you enjoy most about having a shop in Magnolia?

SW: I don’t spend a whole lot of time there, but, there are several things we love about it.  First, we live in Magnolia so being able to walk to and from the village is a treat.  We also love the sense of a small town, where our customers are also our friends.  It allows us to be more personal in how we do business.

MV: Tell us about your art!

SW: I’ve been a professional artist since 1999.  It is my intention to create art that is inspiring, uplifting and, well, happy.  There is something magical about sitting at the easel on a gray, rainy Seattle day and filling the canvas with bright, fun, vibrant colors.

MV: Why is the Chamber important to our community?

SW: The Chamber sits at the cross roads – where business meets neighbor meets community. The people that are on the Chamber Board and the members of the chamber are dedicated to making Magnolia a vital, vibrant, active community.  We are in the process of working with a consultant to focus on the Village and explore what it can be in this time a place.  (more information to come later this year)  The chamber represents the business core of Magnolia life – whether it be the Village, or Interbay, or Thorndyke or at home businesses.  The chamber is active in creating many community events including Wine Walks, Winterfest, Summerfest.

MV: Anything you’d like to add?

SW: I love Magnolia! I love it’s history, it’s geography and it’s people. I see that Magnolia is in a time of transition – the change over from one generation to the next.  There are many things about this community that are nostalgic and defining, that we need to honor.  At the same time, there are some new things that we can introduce that will meet the needs of today’s residents.  I love the both of these aspects of Magnolia – it’s harkening to a simpler time and it’s willingness to explore what that looks like today.  I have met some amazing and dedicated people in my short time with the chamber.  One thing is true – the people that live in Magnolia love Magnolia. 

Current and Furbish is open Tuesday – Friday from 11-5 and Saturday from 10-5.

The Magnolia Chamber of Commerce has presented a yearly Business Person Award since 1955.  The award recognizes a long-standing contribution to the Chamber and the community through outstanding achievements and activities on behalf of the community, as well as the exceptional individual for his or her dedication to their own business, and a dedication to advancing the business climate in the community.

Magnolia Voice is proud to be a member of the Magnolia Chamber. Have you joined yet? The Chamber has a rolling membership and is always looking for new members, both businesses and regular citizens. Click here to join.

Jenni Sandmeyer, Chamber Director of Marketing and PR says there are many benefits to being a member of Magnolia’s Chamber of Commerce:

 It is a great way to be involved in your community and members are eligible for many different benefits including advertising discounts, invitations to monthly chamber meetings with various speakers, as well as participation in neighborhood events- Wine Walks, Summerfest, Springfest, Halloween in the village among others.

Come to a meeting! And congratulations, Scott Ward!

If you would like to join in celebrating Ward’s achievements, there is still a handful of tickets available for the Business Person of the Year dinner, Tuesday, February 24th at 6pm at Szmania’s Restaurant.  Get your tickets here:

→ No Comments

Security Patrol Meeting location CHANGE

February 18th, 2015 by Sara

By reporter Steven Smalley
Due to overwhelming response, much of it from readers of Magnolia Voice, the location of the initial public meeting of the Magnolia Patrol Association has moved. For those interested in hearing from others about the issue of private security patrols in Magnolia, please attend this get-together Saturday, 12 noon at the Magnolia United Church of Christ, 3555 W. McGraw Street. Please enter on the Eastmont Street side of the building.
Meeting facilitator Joe Villarino, requests of those who might have interest in volunteering for the advisory board to gather at 11:30 a.m. for a meet and greet.
Any questions? Email