Discover Pass sales generate almost $3 million for parks, lands

August 25, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 25, 2011

The state generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands during the initial six weeks of Discover Pass sales, state agency chiefs announced Wednesday.

Officials started requiring the $30 annual pass or $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The state started selling the passes in June.

Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director, said the revenue is crucial to state parks, because the agency must rely on user fees and donations to cover costs. In recent years, the Legislature slashed funding for agencies managing outdoor recreation lands and facilities.

“Public support has been essential as we begin this new program aimed at preserving public access to recreation lands,” he said in a statement. “It’s heartening that Washington citizens are willing to help keep their recreation lands open and operating. And we are optimistic that sales will continue to grow to help fund our state recreation lands.”

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State Department of Ecology nixes litter hotline amid cuts

July 19, 2011

The state Department of Ecology tossed a statewide litter hotline amid budget cuts.

Starting July 15, callers to the “Litter and It Will Hurt” campaign hotline started to hear a recorded message saying the state is no longer accepting reports of littering.

The service accepted litter violation reports from citizens and followed up by sending educational letters to the owners of vehicles suspected of littering.

Officials reduced the agency’s Waste Reduction, Recycling and Litter Control Account — the funding source for the state’s litter prevention and cleanup activities — by $7 million for the 2011-13 budget.

The account’s main revenue source is a tax on industries producing items responsible for contributing to the litter problem.

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State reduces paper use, saves stack taller than Space Needle

July 5, 2011

The state Department of Licensing has saved enough paper during the past year to amount to a stack twice as tall as the 605-foot Space Needle.

Nearly 400,000 Washingtonians signed up for email car tab renewal reminders, and then used a couple of mouse clicks from home to renew.

The email reminders represent a large-scale effort by the licensing agency to reduce costs. The agency estimates sending paper renewal notices cost the state about $3.5 million per year.

Though the agency does not have any plans to stop sending car renewal reminders by mail to people not signed up for email alerts, officials stopped mailing all boat renewal reminders last year. Sign up for email renewals at www.dol.wa.gov.

The agency has also expanded online offerings for citizens, reducing or eliminating the need for people to travel to a driver’s licensing office. Statewide, about 220,000 people renewed driver’s licenses online last year, and the number of people requesting driving records or using other online services has skyrocketed in the past year.

Lakeside hurlers toss no-hitter

June 14, 2011

Connor Gilchrist, Aaron Sandefur and Andrew Kemmerer combined on a no-hitter June 11 as Lakeside Recovery’s Senior American Legion team blanked Garfield, 7-0, in the second game of a doubleheader.

Lakeside Recovery, 7-1 in league play and 7-4 overall, also won the opener, 11-1.

In the second game, Gilchrist was the starting pitcher and picked up his first victory of the season. The Skyline High School player worked the first three innings before getting relieved by Sandefur, of Newport. Sandefur pitched the next three innings. Kemmerer, of Issaquah, worked the seventh inning.

Nate Anderson, a Newport High School player, had three hits, one a home run, and knocked in three runs for Lakeside. Kemmerer had two hits and two RBIs.

In the opener, Lakeside scored 11 times in the bottom of the fifth inning to snap a two-game losing streak. Dan Altchech, a Newport graduate, had two hits and three RBIs to lead Lakeside.

Altchech capped the fifth inning with a home run. Wes Blackburn, of Skyline, had two hits and drove in a run. Winning pitcher Brandon Lundeberg, of Skyline, tossed a complete game, allowing two hits and striking out nine batters.

Lakeside Recovery dropped a tough nonleague game June 8 to Chaffey, 4-3, at the Husky Ballpark. Lakeside got a strong effort from pitcher Travis Snider, of Skyline, but poor defensive play cost the club, which made five errors.

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State launches summer motorcycle safety campaign

June 6, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 6, 2011

The state Department of Licensing and the Washington State Patrol joined to launch a safety outreach campaign to reduce motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities during the summer.

Motorcycle-related accidents claimed 67 motorcyclists last year, a slight decrease from 2009.

“It happens every year,” state patrol Chief John Batiste said in a news release. “The good weather arrives and so do these needless tragedies. We’re going to try and get ahead of the game with very strict enforcement.”

The agencies’ “Look Twice, Save a Life” campaign is geared to reach millions of drivers across the state and about 24,000 unendorsed motorcycle owners.

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State reduces paper use, saves stack taller than Space Needle

June 5, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 5, 2011

The state Department of Licensing has saved enough paper during the last year to amount to a stack twice as tall the 605-foot Space Needle.

Nearly 400,000 Washingtonians signed up for email car tab renewal reminders, and then used a couple of mouse clicks from home to renew.

The email reminders represent a large-scale effort by the licensing agency to reduce costs. The agency estimates sending paper renewal notices cost the state about $3.5 million per year.

Though the agency does not have any plans to stop sending car renewal reminders by mail to people not signed up for email alerts, officials stopped mailing all boat renewal reminders last year.

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Governor approves $30 user fee for state parks, lands

May 17, 2011

The cost to keep Lake Sammamish State Park and other public recreation lands open amounts to $30 per year for many users, under a measure Gov. Chris Gregoire signed May 12.

Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Gregoire signed legislation to create a $30 annual pass and a $10 day-use pass for state-managed forests, parks and other natural areas.

The measure, called the Discover Pass, goes into effect July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and state Department of Natural Resources.

In addition to Lake Sammamish State Park, local recreation sites include Squak Mountain State Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest.

“It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public,” Gregoire said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state’s history.”

The pass goes on sale in mid-June. Users must display the annual or day-use Discover Pass in vehicles’ front windshields or face a $99 fine.

Lawmakers created the Discover Pass to close gaps in funding for state parks and recreation lands after Gregoire called for reduced support from taxpayer dollars amid a $5.1 billion budget shortfall.

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Ride safely and in style in a licensed limo

April 19, 2011

Before hiring a limousine or town car for a ride to the prom or a wedding, the state Department of Licensing reminds people to check to see if the company is licensed and legitimate.

Limousine operators in Washington must be licensed, carry sufficient liability insurance and undergo annual safety inspections from the Washington State Patrol. Chauffeurs must be at least 21, hold a valid driver’s license, complete a training course and pass a state patrol background check.

Check limousine companies’ licenses at the Department of Licensing website, www.dol.wa.gov. Follow the link for the “Business Licensing” tab. Or call the agency at 360-664-1414.

“There are many qualified and licensed limousine companies to choose from in Washington, but he sure to make sure the company is licensed, and check references before hiring one,” state Licensing Director Liz Luce said in a release.

Most state offices close Tuesday in order to reduce costs

February 19, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 19, 2011

Most state agencies close Tuesday as a cost-cutting measure, but not Department of Licensing offices.

Licensing offices open for regular hours Tuesday. Offices usually open on Saturday close Feb. 19 for Presidents Day and offices on a Monday-to-Friday schedule close Monday for the holiday.

The closures Tuesday impact dozens of other state agencies and commissions. The state Office of Financial Management has a complete list of shutdowns.

Officials shielded services critical to public health and safety — such as Child Protective Services and the Washington State Patrol — from office closures, although the shutdowns affect some business functions at the agencies.

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Customers can steer clear of rush at licensing offices Tuesday

December 26, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Dec. 26, 2010

State Department of Licensing offices close Monday for a furlough.

The licensing offices and other state agencies reopen Tuesday. The licensing agency has advised customers in need of driver’s license services to consider online service options.

The offices usually experience a rush after holidays and furlough days.

“Our previous temporary layoff days have taught us to expect longer-than-average wait times for several days following the temporary layoff,” Licensing Director Liz Luce said. “We expect the combination of the temporary layoff and the state holiday to significantly increase wait times in many offices.”

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