Lots of folks were looking forward to Vancouver’s dramatic community tree lighting on a chilly Friday night. As they streamed on foot into Esther Short Park, a little boy was dancing as he held his mom and sister’s hands.“Woooo wooooh!” he sang out. His family walked past four smiling kids perched on a low stone monument, arranged in stair steps, shortest to tallest, for a photo.This was a big crowd, all bundled up and looking nice in coats, scarves and stocking caps. Tiny children rode on their dads’ shoulders and a basset pulled on its leash to reach two other dogs.It was cold, dark and windy, as Vancouver’s way-cool carillon tower pointed into the gray sky, with the red Hilton sign glowing in the background. Higher, an airliner, lights blinking, descended on approach to Portland International Airport across the Columbia River.Under a tent, Starbucks employees were handing out free cups of hot chocolate and coffee.Limbs on the many large evergreen trees in the park were swaying in the wind, and one, the Christmas tree, was wrapped in energy-efficient LED lights, ready to thrill the crowd.The combined high school choirs of Vancouver Public Schools sang, some members wearing red Santa hats, but the happy chatter, laughing and cackling, and occasional yells of kids, mostly drowned them out.
The wait is finally over. Now the cutting begins in earnest.Washington state’s chief economist on Thursday tacked another $698 million to the state’s expected revenue shortfall for the 2011-13 budget cycle, pushing that biennium’s total spending deficit to about $5.1 billion.State legislators also must act soon just to patch a $201 million funding gap through June 30, now $80 million higher.o Read the council’s news release, explaining the “geopolitical uncertainties” that are hampering economic recovery in Washington, here.o The full council report is available here.Despite optimism engendered by upticks in job hiring and consumer spending, the double jolts of Mideast unrest and Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami have rattled the economic outlook.The near future “remains clouded, with a great amount of uncertainty,” said Arun Raha, executive director of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, which issued its quarterly update.Volatile oil prices in the wake of spreading Mideast turmoil and threats to Japan’s manufacturing and its trade in agricultural goods with Washington state drove down Raha’s draft estimate from only two weeks ago, he said.
17th District House Candidates, Position 1Matthew HomolaAge: 38Party: RepublicanResidence: VancouverCampaign websiteMoney raised: Has not reported to the PublicDisclosure Commission because Homola plans to raise and spend less than $5,000.Major endorsers: Not disclosedJulie OlsonAge: 49Party: RepublicanResidence: RidgefieldCampaign websiteMoney raised: $26,087Major endorsers: Washington Food Industry Association, Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, state House Republican leader Richard DeBolt, former state Sen. Joseph Zarelli.Monica StonierAge: 35Party: DemocraticResidence: VancouverCampaign websiteMoney raised: $22,996Major endorsers: Washington State Labor Council, Washington Education Association, the League of Education Voters, former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard.Two House candidates with backgrounds in education and a third candidate who works as a warehouse supervisor will appear on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot for voters in the 17th Legislative District.The candidates — Democrat Monica Stonier and Republicans Julie Olson and Matthew Homola — are running to succeed state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, who decided to run against state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, rather than seek re-election. The top two candidates selected in the House race, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November general election.Despite sharing a background in education, Stonier and Olson have differentperspectives when it comes to reforming the state’s education system.Olson said lawmakers and educators need to consider charter schools when reforming the state’s education system. Charter schools, which voters will be allowed to decide on this fall, would be run privately but paid for with state dollars.
The lights are on from dusk until about 10 p.m. throughout December at the Buchanan home, 15309 N.E. Seventh St.Brad Buchanan still remembers his father’s knowing smile as glowing Christmas cheer radiated past them into Northeast Seventh Street.That was 17 years ago, at the height of extravagance for Buchanan’s holiday display. He had been improving the effort each year since moving into his Vancouver home as a newlywed three years earlier.With the help of his best friend, Tony Whitesides, Buchanan’s zeal for all things red and green led to more and more bright bulbs, an extended family of illuminated figurines and a dangerously overheated breaker box.“We had to take the panel off the breaker box and have a fan on it,” Buchanan recalled.These days, his home is not quite as bright as before, but it’s a whole lot safer.By winter 1995 the Buchanan home became quite the sight, even earning a segment on the evening news.“That was the year I went nuts,” he said.Buchanan’s father, Robert, was bitten by the decorating bug decades before while living in Yakima.The elder’s seasonal pursuits even won him a neighborhood award, one of many fond memories Brad Buchanan has of growing up in a home awash in Christmas creativity.A short time before he died in December 1995, Robert Buchanan paid a visit to his son’s home and was bathed in the bright beauty of Christmas.“He was able to see just about when I peaked, and he loved it,” Buchanan said.But as the decade progressed, instances of theft and vandalism nagged at Buchanan. Baby Jesus was even cruelly snatched from his manger in 1997.Eventually, decorations were sold and others gathered dust in storage.The glow of 15309 N.E. Seventh St. never quite extinguished, but part of Buchanan’s passion did.Just as his father taught him the joys holiday lights can bring to the neighborhood and internally, Buchanan’s 15-year-old son Brant kept him from becoming somewhat of a Scrooge.
Minutes before the unmistakable moan of bagpipes signaled the start of the annual Paddy Hough Parade, the excitement radiating from the Hough Elementary School students waiting in the wings reached a fever pitch.Clad in festive green attire, thematic costumes and holding handmade signs, the kids were powder kegs of anticipation: waving arms, shuffling feet, bright eyes.As the Vancouver Firefighters Pipes and Drums group let it blast, so did the students, shouting in excitement as they eagerly merged, classroom by classroom, with the 22nd annual parade’s procession Friday afternoon.It might have been workday business-as-usual in the surrounding neighborhoods, but for a few hours, the Uptown Village area of Vancouver was in a celebratory shutdown — patrons of local shops smiled through windows while hundreds filled the sidewalks of Main Street armed with cameras and lawn chairs. One woman even perched on the curb with two parakeets to watch the parade stroll by, led by Hough Elementary Principal and parade Grand Marshal Eva Unger. As with other community parades, the Paddy Hough Parade, organized each year by the Hough Foundation, had a youthful tinge. “It’s always cute to see the kids,” said waitress Andrea Wood from inside Vancouver Pizza along the parade route.But this celebration is about more than the requisite candy, confetti and kids.A towering wooden effigy of Patrick “Paddy” Hough was wheeled alongside the classic cars, dignitaries, marching bands and local groups. The pressboard doppelganger continually gave a creaky wave with its lone arm as a reminder of the man behind the march.
A nonprofit cooking school for kids said it was ripped off by a volunteer who used $4,300 in the organization’s banking account for her own personal use.The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is investigating but no arrest has been made.About 33 volunteers with the Kids Cooking Corner, 5206 N.E. 78th St., work with kids, including low-income and special needs kids, during cooking classes held four nights a week.Heidi O’Connor founded the organization three years ago. She underwent surgery in February and handed over the reins to a volunteer who was then responsible for buying groceries. She trained the volunteer and gave her a debit card for the purchases. “I totally had my trust in her,” O’Connor said. When O’Connor returned, she noticed that her organization’s bank account seemed low for how much money they were taking in from donations and the cost of classes. Her bookkeeper quit in August, admitted she hadn’t been keeping track of money spent and left her with receipts. As O’Connor started pulling the receipts together, she found out the volunteer used the debit card to buy gas, fast food and clothes, even using the card during a trip to Texas. At stores, she would buy a couple of items and receive cash back that she allegedly pocketed.
At a time when Clark County commissioners are considering how to put limitations on public comment topics, Clark County Environmental Services Director Don Benton is considering legal action against a person who has been prolific in speaking out against the hiring of Benton to his county role.Benton, also a Republican state senator, confirmed on Wednesday that he and an attorney had sent a letter to Ed Barnes asking him to cease making claims that Benton is not qualified for his job at the county.“I gave him the courtesy of putting him on notice that if he continues, then I will move forward with corrective action,” Benton said. “I believe I would win (in court) hands down. I’ve spoken to four attorneys on this and they’ve all (agreed.)”Barnes said he’s received the letter from Benton’s attorney and he isn’t concerned about it.“I’m not going to answer the letter,” Barnes said Wednesday night. “Let him sue me.”Benton said he takes no legal issue with statements made about him in his capacity as an elected official, but believes he has rights as a private citizen in his job with the county.“There are protections that allow people to lie about public figures, which is unfortunate, but those do not extend to private individuals,” Benton said. “To visit my employer once a week and tell my employer I am unqualified, over the public airwaves, is untrue and is libel.”
SEATTLE — Pete Carroll’s reminder of how close the Seattle Seahawks were to being average last season usually gets ignored. So when victories now don’t come with ease and efficiency, like Sunday’s 30-24 win over the winless Oakland Raiders, it’s not a surprise for the coach.“We could have been 8-8 just like that last year and people forget that,” Carroll said. “I’ve harped on that more than I should have with our team so they realize how tough it is. … I know you all would like it easier and smoother and cleaner and all that, but it’s a battle. Suck it up.”Fortunately for the Seahawks, they still have Marshawn Lynch to lean on. Lynch scored a pair of first-half touchdowns and Bruce Irvin returned an interception 35 yards for another score as the Seahawks (5-3) jumped to a 24-3 lead then held on through a sloppy second half.Lynch carried tacklers and teammates into the end zone in the first quarter on his 3-yard scoring run, but was an important option for Russell Wilson as a pass catcher. Lynch finished with 67 yards rushing and another 76 receiving, and his day could have been far more productive if not for gains of 43, 20 and 11 yards on either runs or passes called back by penalties. His 5-yard run at the end of the first half gave the Seahawks a 21-point lead that seemed plenty comfortable at the time. “I think maybe six of them was my own team, so it’s all good,” Lynch said of his first TD. Not all was perfect for Seattle. Wilson struggled through one of his worst passing games and the Seahawks failed to capitalize on numerous chances to rout the winless Raiders. It made for an uncomfortable final minutes as Derek Carr’s second TD pass to Mychal Rivera with 1:52 left pulled the Raiders within six.
A crash at Northeast 72 Avenue and 199 Street west of Battle Ground has traffic backed up in the area. The crash, reported at about 7:30 a.m., did not result in injuries, according to Clark County Fire & Rescue spokesman Tim Dawdy. Traffic remained backed up in the area, however, and Dawdy anticipated backup to remain slow through the intersection throughout the morning commute.
Members, friends and anyone connected with the local NAACP are invited to an appreciation celebration on Jan. 17. Youth are invited to get involved in an outdoor service project on the same day.Youth will meet at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 17 at the Vancouver Housing Authority building, 2500 Main Street, before heading out on the service project, according to Rev. Marva Edwards, president of the NAACP Vancouver. Those who have participated in the Rites of Passage summer program are especially encouraged to turn out. Details of the service project aren’t finalized yet but should be soon, Edwards said. A general celebration of the NAACP Vancouver and all its community partners starts at 11 a.m. in the same location. “We want to thank all the people and groups and everybody who works with us throughout the year,” Edwards said.Whichever part of the day you want to attend, please RSVP to Edwards so she knows how many to plan for. Call 360-750-1224 or email email@example.com.
Sheldon Adelson named Nevada’s highest paid CEO in 2018 The global gaming giant’s defense revolves around a 2002 federal act passed in the wake of 911 to protect companies that work to prevent and respond to acts of mass violence from liability. In this case, MGM argues that its security vendor Contemporary Services Corp was protected due to being certified for such work by the Department of Homeland Security and that MGM, as its employer, was therefore protected too.Although the lawsuits were technically filed against victims, their sole purpose is to prompt a judge to determine whether the 2002 federal act applies to the Mandalay Bay shooting and, if so, dismiss all civil lawsuits against MGM.“The Federal Court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong as saying.“Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”However, the move brought a stinging response from local attorney Robert Eglet, who represents some of the victims. Eglet described the lawsuits as a “blatant display of judge shopping” that “quite frankly verges on unethical.”“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” he said. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds more injured when a gunman fired upon an adjacent music festival from the window of a Mandalay Bay hotel room on 1 October 2017. Load More RelatedPosts Scientific Games files Nevada lawsuit against major Hong Kong-based shareholder over suitability concerns MGM and Orix announce formal bid for Osaka IR MGM Resorts International has filed lawsuits against more than 1,000 victims of the tragic Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas last October in an attempt to have liability claims against it dismissed.The suits, filed in Nevada and California on Friday, argue that MGM can’t be held liable for the mass shooting and that all claims against it “must be dismissed,” according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Employee Benefits Live 2017: Thames Water is using virtual reality headsets to help mental health first aiders experience what it feels like to be suffering from mental health issues to aid them in spotting the first signs that a colleague needs help.Addressing delegates at Employee Benefits Live 2017, in a session titled ‘Managing health and wellbeing at work’, Gareth Mullen (pictured), head of safety, health, wellbeing and security retail and group services at Thames Water, explained that the organisation was removing the stigma around mental health and had set up a health and wellbeing week to actively promote positive mental health in the workplace.“The key message is to get employees to have a 30 minute conversation that week [UK health and wellbeing week] around their own personal choices because that’s largely what wellbeing is all about: personal choice,” Mullen said.Mullen explained that Thames Water refreshed its health and wellbeing policy in 2013 after seeing a rising trend in cases of stress, anxiety and depression. The strategy has been evolving ever since.“We’ve stepped up a gear and created a whole new mental health strategy that recognises the effects of mental health in the workplace, and work related sickness has gone down dramatically from people suffering from mental health issues,” he explained.“We know it makes a difference; we’ve had testimony time after time. If anything, we’ve changed within the business over the last four years and have given people the ability to stand up, say they are suffering from mental health issues, and know there’s the ability to get support and help, and we’ve had some massive turnarounds.”Thames Water has seen a decrease in absence since the plan was put in place.In addition, Thames Water has introduced company-wide medical assessments and in 2014 rolled out prostate cancer checks for its male staff.In the first year of testing, Mullen revealed that two employees were diagnosed with prostate cancer which prompted Thames Water to continue screening for the disease. In the last 12 months alone, 30 staff have been referred for further investigation after tests showed abnormal readings.Thames Water has since introduced thyroid testing for women with a high number of employees testing positive for the condition.
Something for the weekend: With Halloween this week, many employees may be on the lookout for signs from beyond the grave. However, it appears that those in the underworld can not only receive messages from the land of living, but also their wages as Michael Jackson is named as 2017’s highest-paid dead celebrity.Musician Jackson, who passed away on 25 June 2009, earned $75 million (£57 million) this year, according to the Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities Of 2017 list compiled by Forbes. Golfer Arnold Palmer, who died on 25 September 2016, is ranked in second place with earnings of $40 million (£31 million) for 2017. Third place is awarded to cartoonist Charles Schulz, who passed away on 12 February 2000. His 2017 earnings amounted to $38 million (£29 million).The highest-paid dead celebrities of 2017 are:Michael Jackson, died 25 June 2009: $75 million (£57.3 million).Arnold Palmer, died 25 September 2016: $40 million (£30.5 million).Charles Schulz, died 12 February 2000: $38 million (£29 million).Elvis Presley, died 16 August 1977: $35 million (£26.7 million).Bob Marley, died 11 May 1981: $23 million (£17.5 million).Tom Petty, died 2 October 2017: $20 million (£15.2 million).Prince, died 21 April 2016: $18 million (£13.7 million).Dr Seuss, died 24 September 1991: $16 million (£12.2 million).John Lennon, died 8 December 1980: $12 million (£9.1 million).Albert Einstein, died 18 April 1955: $10 million (£7.6 million).David Bowie, died 10 January 2016: $9.5 million (£7.2 million)Elizabeth Taylor, died 23 March 2011: $8 million (£6.1 million).Bettie Page, died 11 December 2008: $7.5 million (£5.7 million).Here at Employee Benefits, we are amazed by how much these past celebrities are still earning despite crossing to the other side. We would need an impressive pay rise to make this much in the land of the living, let alone in the spirit world…
Food retail organisation Kroger has enhanced its employee benefits offering for US employees to introduce new education benefits, increase employer pension contributions and accelerate pay rises.As part of Kroger’s new Feed your Future education programme, the organisation has introduced a new education benefit to enable all full and part-time employees with at least six months of service to receive up to $3,500 (£2,463.23) a year towards continuing education and development opportunities. This could be used for school equivalency exams, professional certifications and advanced degrees.Kroger has also implemented a new education leave that allows employees to take time off work to focus on approved studies.In addition, Kroger has increased the employer matching in its 401(k) retirement plan to see its contributions rise from a 4% of pay match to a 5% match. The organisation has also awarded pay rises for store employees based in Cincinnati and Dayton, with base pay set at $10 (£7.04) an hour or $11 (£7.74) an hour for employees with one year of service. The pay increases are effective from 1 April 2018.Kroger has expanded its employee discount available on its own products, increasing the discount to 10% and broadening the number of Kroger-branded products the discount can be applied to. This will now be eligible for general merchandise, home, apparel and jewellery items in addition to the existing range employees can receive a discount on.The organisation has also provided an extra $5 million (£3.5 million) in funding to its internal hardship fund, called Helping Hands. This is designed to help employees in times of need. Last autumn, the scheme awarded $700,000 (£492,660) in financial grants to 1,100 employees for hurricane-related hardships.The benefits changes have been implemented as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has enabled the organisation to accelerate its investments.Tim Massa, group vice president of human resources and labour relations, said: “At Kroger, we are thrilled to have a talented, diverse and unique workforce. We care about our [employees], and we took the time to thoughtfully consider how to live our purpose and offer meaningful, personalised benefits while helping individuals, families and communities thrive today and in the future.”Rodney McMullen, chairman and chief executive officer at Kroger, added: “We intend to make significant investments in our [employees], to continue redefining the customer experience, and to return value to our shareholders, sharing the benefit with all of our stakeholders in a balanced way.“I am especially excited to introduce Feed Your Future, Kroger’s new, industry-leading continuous learning and education benefit. Many of our [employees] can attest to the life-changing power of education, and I’m proud to be one of them. Feed Your Future will support both full and part-time [employees], wherever they are on their personal education journey, whether they are pursuing [general education development], [master of business administration] or professional certifications. In this way, we’re offering more than a one-time award; we’re offering an investment in our [employees’] future.“Sharing the benefits of tax reform with our [employees] and customers will create a more sustainable and stronger business model to support Kroger and beyond. This approach is also consistent with living our purpose: to feed the human spirit.“We care about our nearly half a million [employees’] growth and development, and we believe investing in education will support and encourage lifelong learning and reinforce our ‘come for a job, stay for a career’ opportunity culture. We believe that making education benefits available to more [employees] and at more generous levels than ever before is the best way to support their future.”
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – A small fire caused the evacuation of Southwood Middle School, Friday morning.7 Skyforce HD flew over the scene near South Dixie Highway and Southwest 152nd Street. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the scene.Officials said smoke was coming out of a meter room inside the school, causing the evacuation.No injuries were reported.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – Broward County, in association with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, county hosted the grand reopening of a fire station in Fort Lauderdale, Saturday.People throughout the community were invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Fire Station 23 along Southwest 46th Avenue and 21st Manor.“We have a huge crowd here, and we are very excited to have a local fire station reopen to provide prompt response times for all the residents in this community,” said Broward Commissioner Tim Ryan.The day also doubled as a fire safety and emergency preparedness expo. Free smoke alarms were given out, as well as and hurricane kits and resource materials.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.