News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Entries from September 2010

Theo Chocolate up for Green Business of the Year

September 29th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Fremont’s own Theo Chocolate is not just a place to indulge your sweet tooth, it’s also dedicated to organic Fair Trade practices from “bean-to-bar,” having recently earned the first Fair for Life certification in the United States.

It’s one of 10 most popular nominations for Green Business of the Year from Green America, a Washington, DC-based not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 that was known as Co-op America until January 2009.

Vote before October 6.


Green America states its mission: “to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.” It defines green businesses as “companies that work to help – not hurt – people, communities, and the planet. Only businesses that have passed Green America’s screening process are eligible.”

Winners will be announced in November, at San Francisco’s Green Festival.

It defines green businesses as “companies that work to help – not hurt – people, communities, and the planet. Only businesses that have passed Green America’s screening process are eligible.”

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Fremont library, parking fees discussed at city budget hearing

September 29th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Plans to remove the on-site librarian from the Fremont library and increase parking fees were just some of the topics of discussion at Wednesday’s public hearing on the city budget in Northgate.

“The library changes and improves lives,” said Tony Provine of Friends of the Seattle Public Library.

A crowd lines up to speak at Wednesday night’s budget hearing in Northgate

Under the mayor’s plan, the Fremont library and 7 other smaller libraries will be converted to “circulating libraries.” The Fremont library will continue to be open 35 hours per week and offer collections, holds-pickup, and computer access. But access to specialized services will be provided online or by telephone access to staff at the Central Library. Programming will be primarily focused on youth and provided by librarians from other locations. At all library branches, a one week systemwide closure (the week before Labor Day) will continue in 2011.

“We ask you to consider restoring some critical library service hours,” Provine told the City Council.

During Wednesday’s hearing, residents also voiced both support and opposition to the mayor’s parking plan.  Metered parking would go up 50 cents an hour in Fremont and you’d have to pay until 8pm Monday through Saturday (currently 6pm).  Sunday parking would no longer be free.

“Although Fremont is a vibrant and thriving neighborhood, we are aware of the loss of sales over the last year due to the addition of pay stations,” Jessica Vets with the Fremont Chamber of Commerce told us.  “At the moment Fremont has only 72 paid street parking spots, thus an increase in rates and an extension of time will only minimally affect the neighborhood.  The fear that Fremont retailers have is that SDOT will extend the paid parking into more of the neighborhood.”

To see more on the mayor’s proposed budget, click here.

The next public hearing on the budget takes place Wednesday, October 13 at South Seattle Community College at 5:30pm. The City Council has also set up a web page where you can submit ideas to balance the budget and vote on other suggestions.

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Liquor sales a hot topic at Fremont Chamber of Commerce lunch

September 29th, 2010 by Doug Alder

The Fremont Chamber of Commerce invites everyone in the community to their next lunch meeting on Wednesday, October 20 at noon.  The meeting will be held at Waterway Cruises and Events at 2501 N. Northlake Way and features a debate between two Fremont business owners over Initiative 1100 which deals with liquor sales.  If you RSVP by October 15, the cost is $20 including a buffet.  Click here to register.

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24 hour prayer vigil on Aurora Bridge

September 28th, 2010 by Doug Alder

For the second year in a row, a Wallingford pastor will lead a group of people back and forth across the Aurora Bridge as part of a 24 hour prayer vigil. The vigil, set for October 8 and 9, is designed to bring attention to the problem of suicide jumpers.

Pastor Heath Rainwater, a Seattle firefighter who also leads the Vine Christian Ministries in Wallingford, started the “Take Back the Bridge Project” after responding to a suicide on the bridge. He was with the fire crews staging at the bottom of the bridge when he looked up and saw what was happening up top.

“I could see the young man. He was desperate,” Rainwater recently told KIRO-FM. “My heart wanted to be on top of the bridge saying something that could give him hope.”

WSDOT photo

Unfortunately, that young man jumped and died instantly. The “Take Back the Bridge Project” now helps raise money for the Crisis Clinic in Seattle which fields tens of thousands of calls a year. Rainwater says he also hopes the new suicide prevention fence currently being built across the Aurora Bridge will help.

“The reason why we’re so happy about the fence is it causes that separation of time for you to be able to get through that moment when you would impulsively jump and make a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” said Rainwater.

The 24 hour prayer vigil starts Friday, October 8 at 11am. That’s followed by a community march across the bridge on Saturday, October 9 at 12pm. Click here for more information or to register.

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Fremont library impacted by mayor’s proposed budget

September 27th, 2010 by Doug Alder

Mayor Mike McGinn unveiled his proposed 2011-2012 budget today, and it will impact Fremont’s library.  Under his proposal, the Fremont library at 731 N. 35th will no longer have an on-site librarian.  It will continue to be open 35 hours per week and serve as a gateway to the resources of the entire library system.  It will still offer collections, holds-pickup, and computer access. Access to specialized reference or collection services will be provided on-line or by telephone access to staff at the Central Library. Programming will be primarily focused on youth and provided by librarians from other locations.

To see more on the mayor’s proposed budget, click here.  

The City Council will now dive into the proposed budget.  One of three public hearings will be held this Wednesday (9/29) at 5:30pm at the Northgate Community Center gym at 10510 5th Ave NE.  The Council has also set up a web page where you can submit ideas to balance the budget and vote on other suggestions.  You can find that page here.

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Man attacked and robbed on Phinney Ave.

September 27th, 2010 by Doug Alder

A man says he was attacked and robbed by a group of people as he walked down the 3600 block of Phinney Avenue.  It happened around 3am this past Saturday (9/25).  The victim says the group came up behind him and one man punched him in the face.  The victim’s wallet, with about $270 in cash, was then stolen.  The victim had swelling on his forehead but declined to go to the hospital.  Police conducted a search of the area but believe the attackers jumped in a cab and possibly headed to one of the motels on Aurora Avenue.

The victim said the man who hit him was dressed like a pimp, wearing a Kangol hat and tinted glasses.  One officer thought it could be a man he’d had contact with earlier in the evening and showed the victim a picture.  The victim said the man in the picture was indeed the person who punched him.  You can read the full police report below.

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Fremont Oktoberfest: Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest

September 26th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

On the second day of Fremont Oktoberfest — an amazing, cloudless sky, sunny day that was as good or better than any days we’ve had this short, sporadic summer — I finally got to see something I’d only heard of from friends and “Grey’s Anatomy”: the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest.

Only, I had no idea it’d be such a theatrical event, with contestants dressed as a penguin, a bunny and an Air Force pilot (without the helmet).

Pumpkin carving contestants

Five contestants buzzed away at helpless pumpkins for the glory of being crowned champion. In the photo above, from left to right: Michelle the Mom, The Bunny from Green Lake, Ian (the guy in the orange flight suit), the Penguin and Betty the (Family) Butcher, a three-time champ.

Because the competition took place in the Petco Oktoberfest Village outside of the main gates, in the parking lot next to the Foundry, anyone could stop by and check it out. It took about an hour for them to each take a pumpkin, put it on a table in front of the big stage, work the chainsaw (a cordless kind that is a lot smaller than what I thought it’d be) and spew pumpkin guts and seeds 10, 15 feet away. In the war of Penguin vs. Pumpkin, the big guy was clearly the winner.


Most made quick work of the hapless fall fruit, with different variations on making funny faces, although Michelle’s pumpkin fell off mid-cutting. Using the Applause-o-Meter, it came down to a “chainsaw-off” between the Bunny and Betty the Butcher.



In the end, Betty prevailed, with an artistic rendering that didn’t go deep into the pumpkin, instead emphasizing a more delicate touch.

General scene

Otherwise, once inside the main gates, it was crowded, with thousands turning out for such a beautiful. So this day, lines were common, unlike Friday night. Especially for 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and Baron Brewing/Three Skulls Ales’ Three Skulls Hop the Plank IPA. Those were worth the wait! The key was to make sure a drink was already in hand in the wait for those crowd-pleasers.

And for me, after all these years, Fremont Oktoberfest was worth the wait, too.

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A first for Fremont Oktoberfest: a Mister Buxom

September 25th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Last night was my first Fremont Oktoberfest. I’ve been here for years, but I was always out of town or had other plans. I’m also not that much of a beer drinker. But when in Seattle, you must adapt.

Fremont Oktoberfest makes it easy, though, especially when amusing events punctuate the beer tastings. For instance, the popular boobs and booze combo on tap at the Miss Buxom contest, which I found out, is not just open to women. Two men entered, on a whim, and they weren’t in drag. They were, however, in lederhosen. And guess what, one of them won the contest!

Mr. Buxom winner
(L-R) Second-place “Schnooki”, winner Bill Henninger (aka “Inglebert”) and third-place “Ivana Von Humpalot”

Bill Henninger and his wife Audry entered the contest at the prompting of contest emcee Red from The End/107.7 FM, who saw their costumes — the Des Moines couple always get dressed up for Oktoberfest — and urged them to get in on the action.

Audry & Bill
Audry & Bill Henninger

Henninger entered under the alias “Inglebert” and when Red asked him what his favorite sausage was, he replied, “The footlong.” His wife entered under the alias, “Gertrude.” Frequent visitors to regional Oktoberfests, this was their first time at Fremont Oktoberfest. They bought the costumes they were wearing last night for a visit to Munich Oktoberfest in 2008.

Henninger had some stiff competition from his wife, six other women and the other guy wearing lederhosen. But with the Applause-o-Meter going through the roof, Henninger made out with $100 in cash, a $100 giftcard to the Tap House & Grill, and a Fremont Oktoberfest prize pack that included a sweatshirt, tasting tokens and a souvenir 1-liter stein.

While his sisters have been Homecoming and Prom Queens, the former high school football player said this was his first time in such a spotlight. When asked how it felt to be the first-ever Mister Buxom, he replied, “I feel sexy.”

The contest was an entertaining diversion, as was the band that played covers of Pat Benatar, Michael Jackson, and in a most daring move, the Beastie Boys (“No Sleep Till Brooklyn”). But let’s not kid ourselves, the main reason people were here was to drink copious amounts of the hoppy good stuff. Some stayed with the 5-ounce plastic tasting mugs, which came with admission and five tasting tokens, and some forked over $10 for the souvenir 1-liter steins. But with more than 80 microbrews and 11 German beers to choose from, there was plenty to sample all night.

Deschutes Brewery
The Deschutes Brewery from Oregon and it’s eye-catching mobile serving station

“Beer me!” was a common phrase, and streams of cigar smoke wafted everywhere, making for a sweet, stinky need to stop breathing for a minute kind of sensation. And that awful blue, blinding light next to the Deschutes mobile wooden keg: please turn that off or down, because it kills the ambience!

General scene

But staying focused and on task, beer connoisseurs could wander from tent to tent, with barely any lines, sampling lagers, porters, IPA, brown pale ales, Oktoberfests, etc. to their heart’s delight. The layout of the festival, with wide streets on both 35th and 34th next to the Canal allowed for lots of movement and plenty of space to decompress, even with the increasing crowds.

Lounges were also randomly sprinkled everywhere, so if you needed to kick back, you could.

Some tasty finds so far: Lagunitas’ Little Stumpin Wild, Georgetown Brewing Co.’s Lucille IPA, Kona’s Longboard Lager (and you get lei’d too!) and Flyers’ Proptoberfest.

We hope you’ll have a good time today, too, and tomorrow. Today, we’re checking out the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest! Pictures later!

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Fremont Oktoberfest begins today

September 24th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Looks like clouds are clearing just in time for our three-day ode to fall: Fremont Oktoberfest, which begins at 5 p.m. and continues through Sunday.


Phinney Ave. N. and N. 35th St. will be the place to go to sample 80 microbrews and 11 German beers, the most the event has ever had on tap.

A $20 ticket will get you inside, a souvenir tasting mug, and five tasting tokens. Advance ticket holders also get to cut in line ahead of people purchasing at the gate where prices will be $5 more. You can’t buy advance tickets online anymore, but you can go to one of these ticket sellers and save some dough.

But Oktoberfest isn’t just for beer drinkers.

The Petco Oktoberfest Village contains an area for pets to stand by their owners in a beer garden, or become a supermodel in the CityDog Magazine Cover Model Contest. Owners will also run in Sunday’s Brew HA-HA 5K.

This is also the location of the kids area, where they can play with arts and crafts, race and decorate zucchini, do their own tasting of (root) beer floats and soda, and pumpkin bowl and carve — but not with a chainsaw.

That is left to the pros.

Of course, one of the main attractions is the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest, Saturday and Sunday at 1! We can’t wait to see what happens.

Finally, the Miss Buxom contest is tonight. And yes, we’ll take pictures.

All contestants must be dressed up in funky, fun German attire and register at The Tap House Grill Buxom Beer Garden between 5pm and 6:30pm on Friday, September 24, 2010. Each contestant must answer a question and the audience will be the judge to decide who is this year’s Miss Buxom.

The crowned winner of Miss Buxom will receive $100 in cash plus a Fremont Oktoberfest prize pack with a sweatshirt, tasting tokens and more! Two runners up will each receive $50 in cash.

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Green roofs in Fremont

September 23rd, 2010 by Doug Alder

Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Planning and Development have just wrapped up a report on green roofs across the city.  Several of the green roofs are here in Fremont including ones at Ross Playground Shelterhouse, Block 40, and Epicenter Apartments.  The city has also put together a self-guided tour map of green roofs that you can check out for yourself, including the one at Ross Playground (pictured below).


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These maps were made for walking

September 22nd, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

I took a walk today from my house to Green Lake and back to revel in the last day of summer. It was glorious out. Perfect temperature, not too fall cool and not summer hot hot. Only taking one short break to kick out the rocks in my shoes, it took about 90 minutes.

Using a new pedestrian-centric map the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has created that conveniently shows the number of minutes of different street segments, I added up what their estimated time would be for the approximate same route and it came out to 72 minutes.

Not so bad, considering these estimates don’t take into account the steepness of the street or an individual’s physical condition. There is going to be some variation, so the numbers should be taken as rough estimates.

SDOT map
A zoom-in on the Fremont part of the SDOT map

As Seattle residents know — and as visitors quickly pick up — city streets vary in slope from pancake flat to whoo-boy steep. Those streets are colored yellow on the map. We think it’s a little misleading not coloring at least some of Fremont Avenue North in yellow! It may be gradual, but it’s still steep, and I know for a fact it’d take me more than 13 minutes to hoof it from downtown Fremont up Fremont Ave. N. to 46th Street.

The routes on the Seattle Walking Map come from a variety of sources, including The Feet First walking advocacy organization, King County, and SDOT. Routes follow sidewalks, shoulders on quiet streets, and park trails.

This new series of maps divides Seattle into three sections: north, central, and south. Adjoining sections of the map include a limited amount of overlap, should the selected route cross from one section to another. You can print out PDF’s of all three and or the full city map here, or you can fill out a form on that page and have SDOT mail you a copy.

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Inside look at Seattle Police training methods

September 22nd, 2010 by Doug Alder

In the wake of the deadly officer involved shooting of a wood carver last month, many in the community questioned the training methods of the Seattle Police Department. Today, SPD invited Fremont Universe and other media outlets to get a behind the scenes look at some new training techniques being put in place along with methods currently being used.

“We did talk about deploying more tasers– using less lethal force options,” said police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.

Officer demonstrates taser techniques

Not all Seattle Police officers carry tasers, but one new step involves arming more officers with the devices. This year, SPD says taser use has actually dropped to an average of 7 incidents a month. They credit the decrease to more people knowing about tasers and the impact they can have on the human body.

“We talk people into custody the vast amount of the time,” said Officer Chris Myers.

Another new program that is already underway requires every member of SPD to take a racial profiling course, with the goal of changing the culture in the department. Verbal judo, the use of words insteads of hands and weapons, is also being taught along with an increased emphasis on deploying crisis intervention team officers to deal with people who may have mental or medical issues.

SPD allowed the media to try out its “shoot or don’t shoot” simulator that puts officers through different scenarios. Officers also go through tactics training in real-time mock situations. After the simulations, instructors debrief the officers to find out why they reacted the way they did.

Another reporter tries out the simulator (above)

“Training has become a significant issue,” said Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer. “Every single day we’re on the job we learn something.”

Deputy Chief Kimerer will oversee a review starting next month into the fatal shooting of wood carver John T. Williams.  Officials did not take questions on the specifics of the Williams case since it is still under investigation.  Our newspaper partner the Seattle Times reports the U.S. Justice Department is now monitoring the case.

Summary of additions to SPD training:

  1. Putting more tasers into the hands of officers
  2. Racial profiling course
  3. Verbal judo
  4. Adding more members to the crisis intervention team

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More work on Aurora Bridge this weekend

September 22nd, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Just when you thought WSDOT was finally done with its work on the Aurora Bridge, it turns out crews found more rivets to remove. Crews found the rivets when they began repairing corroded steel portions of the bridge at 23 fence post locations.

Aurora Bridge rivets
Photo from WSDOT

It means more lane closures and planning for traffic delays if you’re using the bridge this weekend.

  • On Saturday, Sept.25, two out of the three northbound lanes will be closed from 5:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
  • On Sunday, Sept. 26, two out of three northbound lanes will be closed from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. until midnight. Seahawks fans, WSDOT is giving you that window of opportunity to use all the lanes from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate post game traffic.

There are a total of 186 additional rivets that must be removed as part of the steel repair work. The rivets are located under the bridge in tight areas where access is difficult, requiring at least two more weekends to bust them out.

WSDOT can provide you with industrial strength earplugs if all this racket is causing too many sleepless nights. Call its 24-hour noise hotline, 206-440-4099, for more information.

The work is part of a WSDOT project to install an anti-suicide fence on the outer railing of the bridge. Work began in May.

Unfortunately, there was a recent suicide from the bridge on Sept. 11. One of our readers, Ryan Healy, who lives on 34th across the street from the Lake Washington Rowing Club, and has a view directly of the bridge and water beneath it, e-mailed us to let us know.

I heard her scream and looked up in time to see her hit the water with a loud and large splash. I called 911 and I thought I saw her swimming on the surface. A pleasure boater came to her rescue and pulled her on to the boat but she was motionless. After the police and fire crews arrived and were about finished I walked down near the Lake Washington Rowing Club dock to check on her condition. I asked a fire department official if she was going to be ok. His response was simple: “No.”

This is the second suicide I’ve seen in the past 5 months.

Seattle Police confirmed there was a successful suicide from the bridge that day at about the same time as our reader mentioned, about 1:15 p.m.

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Parts of Gas Works Park to be closed starting Sept.27

September 21st, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

UPDATE from Seattle Parks & Recreation on 9/23: “Most the parking lot will be open and available; the workers will fence off only the area where they will be working.”

Enjoy Gas Works Park while you can, because parts of it and its parking lot will be closed to the public for several weeks starting Sept. 27, as Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) continues an ongoing study of offshore sediments, remnants of the contamination left in Lake Union’s sediments by the manufactured gas plant and other industrial facilities that once operated at the site.

(There is a reason it’s called Gas Works Park! See photo below.)

Gas Works Park

From the park’s “History” section:

This 20 acre point on Lake Union was cleared in 1906 to construct a plant to manufacture gas from coal – later converted to crude oil. Import of natural gas in the 1950’s made the plant obsolete. The city acquired the site for a park in 1962. The park was opened to the public in 1975. The boiler house has been converted to a picnic shelter with tables, fire grills and an open area. The former exhauster-compressor building, now a children’s play barn, features a maze of brightly painted machinery.

The environmental testing will account for heavy equipment drilling of groundwater monitoring wells, and that is scheduled to take place weekdays during daylight hours. While it’ll be noisy at times, Puget Sound Energy’s contractor will monitor sound levels. Vehicles will be coming and going during the testing.

Visitors to the park will still have access to the snack bar and restrooms, but they will be restricted from areas where drilling activities are taking place and areas where equipment is stored.

The City of Seattle (under the lead of SPU) and Puget Sound Energy are studying the park and the adjoining lake bottom to gather information needed to clean it up. SPU said, “the investigation and subsequent cleanup of contaminated offshore sediments is expected to take several years.”

More information about this cleanup is available on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s website.

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Buckaroo’s Last Night

September 18th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

If you happened to pass by The Buckaroo Tavern last night, you probably knew something was going on. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder pretty much all night, but especially at night, as old friends and new fans gathered to raise a few glasses to one of the city’s most beloved watering holes. Motorcycles surrounded the front of the building at 4201 N. Fremont Ave. N. and one reveler burned rubber and exhaust fumes onto folks sitting in the outside patio area.

Buckaroo side

Patrons arriving after 7 p.m. had to bore a tunnel to the bar, which was slammed all night with orders as everyone wanted to drink one last beer (or a few) at this 72-year-old establishment. The long goodbye began months ago with flyers and tips from you, our readers.

Buck patio

Last night’s last hurrah was the culmination of 7 days of celebrations, said Buckaroo owner Donna Morey, who has run it since 1984. (It was supposed to be only three days.) Her grandson Christopher Morey was busy behind the bar all night, trying to keep up with non-stop demand for microbrews and “cheap beers.”

Buck inside

For a history of the Moreys’ time with the Buck, check out this write-up and video.

buck inside

One former fixture, a tough as nails biker broad who calls her Harley “Buttercup,” who is also a physician’s assistant that doesn’t hesitate to help strangers in need, Donna Morey’s good friend Rusty, traveled from Spokane to take part in the Buck’s final days. She and her son Guido used to come here all the time. She was a regular years before the Moreys took over, but her loyalty is to them.

“Donna would make Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas,” Rusty said. “A lot of people here, they don’t have family, so this is our family.”

Anytime she needed help, she knew she could rely on her friends at the Buck.

When asked where they’ll end up going, regulars said they’d probably end up at The 2 Bit Saloon in that border area of Fremont and Ballard, on Leary (4818 17th Ave. NW).

Every third Thursday is Rat Bike Night, and more than likely, you’ll see more than a few regulars from the Buck.

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Fire aboard 150-foot trawler on Lake Union

September 17th, 2010 by Geeky Swedes

A large dispatch of firefighters descended on Northlake Way along Lake Union in Wallingford this evening for a fire aboard a 150-foot trawler.

Firefighters were able to get the upper hand quickly after arriving. My Wallingford has the photos and video from the scene.

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