News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Entries from April 2010

Essenza hit by thieves

April 30th, 2010 by master

Around 4:30 Tuesday morning (4/27), someone used a brick to break out the front window of Essenza at 615 N. 35th Street.  The thief took several bottles of perfume along with petty cash in the register.  Officers looked for blood and fingerprints but couldn’t find any evidence.  Surveillance cameras at the location were not working at the time.

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Fremont spring clean-up

April 30th, 2010 by master

Fremonters (or is Fremonsters?):

If you feel like doing some spring cleaning tomorrow (May 1) for the good of your neighborhood, show up ready to work anytime between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Powerhouse (Fremont Ave. north of 36th St.) for an Adopt-a-Street clean-up of Fremont Ave. and other parts of Fremont.


Bags, gloves and trash grabbers will be provided.

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Meerkat Mania begins May 1

April 30th, 2010 by master

We weren’t kidding about all the activity this weekend to usher in the beginning of a real spring to Seattle. We’ve posted about the Fremont Village Festival, May Day (Fremont Arts Council) and now, the opening of the Meerkats exhibit on Saturday.

After a 10-year absence, meerkats are back at the Woodland Park Zoo – and yes, it’s made the heart grow fonder. Perhaps it was “Meerkat Manor,” or the impression left by Rudyard Kipling’s mongoose hero Rikki Tikki Tavi, but for whatever reason, it’s hard to resist these social creatures.

Visitors to the zoo will be able to see 8 meerkats at the revamped Adaptations Building, where they can observe them diving into tunnels, taking care of their young, or in the pose most associated with them, standing at attention “as sentinels of their new habitat.”

Their new Seattle digs are a world away from their natural habitat: the semi-arid savanna of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Temperatures reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and drop close to freezing in the winter.

The zoo has created an experience that allows visitors to look into a log den and see what life is like inside meerkat burrows, which serve as nursery and nesting rooms.

Parents: your kids can co-opt meerkat behavior in a newly-built play area located at the north entrance of the building.

If you haven’t gone to the zoo in awhile, you’ll notice something else: the new West Entrance (at Phinney Ave. N. between N. 55th Street and N. 56th Street), which replaces the current North and West Entrances.

The zoo is going to debut a new entry system that is designed to reduce wait times on busy days from 45 minutes to no more than 5 minutes. Also at this new 58,000 square-foot entry point: access to stroller or wheelchair rental, restrooms, coffee, souvenirs, and improved membership services.

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Henry transforms house on Nickerson into mural

April 30th, 2010 by master

Local painter Ryan Henry Ward has left the mark of his trade all around Seattle, literally. Using a style that combines chalk, oil and acrylic paints, Ward is most well known for his bright and whimsical murals that can be seen on abandoned walls and on the sides of homes and businesses around town–you’ll know it’s him by “Henry” stamp painted into the picture.

The side of a house along Nickerson just before the Fremont Bridge has long been a site of Ward’s work, but recently the artist was commissioned to “muralize” the rest of the house, a project finished just earlier this week. The largest part of the new mural showcases a giant goldfish over the east side of the house–a picture that seems to be framed for commuters looking for an entertaining pastime while waiting for the bridge to go down!

Check out more photos of Ward’s work here. Many of Ward’s murals are in our sister neighborhoods, like BallardFremont and Phinney Ridge. Henry works have also been commissioned in less obvious places, like inside local schools and on the walls of neighborhood businesses. Keep your eyes peeled! I personally like to play a little game I call spot the “Henry” while driving around town.

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MOHAI Minute: Fremont Troll

April 29th, 2010 by master

In the Museum of History & Industry’s new YouTube series, “MOHAI Minute,” (which is really more like 2 minutes 21 seconds), producer/creators Helen Divjak and Peder Nelson crack the dull mold of History Channel-like docs and make entertaining, bite-sized pieces that roll out facts both trivial and intriguing about “Seattle’s most fascinating historic spots,” including Skylark Cafe, Volunteer Park and now, the Fremont Troll.

Besides a too-synthy musical intro and not-quite synced audio editing that reminds me of a bad martial arts flick, it’s a fun little number. The hyperkinetic short fills in some interesting tidbits about the 20-year-old sculpture that presides over Troll Avenue atop 36th Street, looking as if the weight of the Aurora Bridge overhead is on its hunched shoulders.

Divjak and Nelson make a good team who tell audiences about the troll’s origins as the inspiration of the Jersey Devils sculptors, who won the right to create the beloved creature by popular vote, even after it lost the official competition organized by the Fremont Arts Council.

MOHAI stores the only known model of the troll, which was created in 24 hours by the artists.

The MOHAI Minute series began in March, with 5 weekly episodes excluding this one. Check out the rest here.

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May Day: Fremont Arts Council

April 29th, 2010 by master

Oh May, how we love you. For Seattleites who have had to endure the schizophrenic weather of April, May presents the hope for the beginning of the spring and summer that keeps people so attached to the Pacific Northwest.

In Fremont, on the first of May (Saturday), there are several options to enjoy: the Fremont Village Festival and the Fremont Arts Council‘s 20th anniversary May Day springtacular, which includes dancing and weaving via a Maypole (such as the one seen below), singing, three-legged races, sack races, egg/spoon challenges, a potluck picnic and the appearance of the May Queen.

Festivities begin at 2 p.m. (earlier than the 5 p.m. start time originally scheduled) in Woodland Park (east of Aurora Ave) at Woodland Park (just off Aurora and 60th, next to the horseshoe courts). Wear white and bring flowers, for head wreaths. Bring a dish to share, plenty to drink and of course, your good spirits. Pack out everything you bring.

All are welcome – Fremont Arts Council membership is encouraged but not required.

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People Get Ready: GospelFest10 at SPU

April 29th, 2010 by master

Beginning today, the soul uplifting sounds and spirit of gospel music will grace Seattle Pacific University as part of GospelFest10: A Celebration of the Gospel Music Legacy. Three days of an educational symposium, rehearsals and a dinner culminate Saturday night in a mass gospel choir concert – proving that there is so much more to Seattle than alt-indie-pop.

For $10 a person, the symposium at the First Free Methodist Church adjacent to the SPU campus features workshops and sessions in the history, literature, and ministry of the Gospel music tradition, as presented by some of the genre’s pre-eminent practitioners and scholars, including Robert Darden, an associate professor of journalism at Baylor University and author of “People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music,” (which is the subject of one of the symposium’s clinics).

Saturday’s concert will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in SPU’s Royal Brougham Pavilion, 3414 Third Ave West. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. Free parking is available in the Nickerson, Ross, and West Dravus street parking lots. The event is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 206-281-2966 or visit the GospelFest10 website.

The audience will be in for a real treat as they bear witness to some of the region’s finest gospel choirs, including JudahSong, SureHouse, The Sound of the Northwest, SPU’s gospel choir, and gospel choirs from Antioch Bible Church and University Presbyterian Church. If the memory of these stirring voices isn’t enough, a souvenir booklet will also be available for purchase.

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The Homeless Neighbor

April 29th, 2010 by master

Seattle’s homeless population stretches far beyond downtown. North Seattle residents and businesses are also struggling to deal with the issue. To see how the community is trying to find a balance, we take you to the streets of Ballard for a raw and compelling look at the problem.

The Homeless Neighbor is the third in a series of stories partnering Next Door Media sites with the nonprofit Common Language Project and students of University of Washington’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class. One of the authors of this story is Christian Caple, the editor of our newest neighborhood site U District Daily. We invite you to take a look.

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Aurora Motels: Guilty of Criminal Tax Evasion

April 28th, 2010 by master

Four Aurora Avenue motels – which the Seattle City Attorney’s Office say consistently accounts for a majority of police calls out of the “roughly 26 low-cost motels” along that corridor – have, as corporations, entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to criminal tax violations in Seattle Municipal Court. Under the terms of the plea agreements, two motels, the Isabella and Italia, will be sold within four months or leased to non-profit groups for use as low-income housing or emergency shelter.

Neighbors have long complained about the criminal activity they say goes on at all four of the motels, which also include Seattle Motor Inn, Fremont Inn (formerly The Thunderbird, pictured below) and Wallingford Inn, along with the Italia and Isabella.

The original 180 criminal counts – which were filed last summer – include failure to file tax returns and failure to pay city-owed business tax. (At the time, charges included a fifth motel, The Seattle Motor Inn, which closed in December.)

From the City Attorney’s Office:

The unusual and creative disposition of the original 180 criminal counts of failure to file tax returns and failure to pay city-owed business tax was the result of a negotiated settlement between the City Attorney’s Office and the defendants, Dean and Jill Inman, and the four motel corporations that the Inmans control as corporate officers.

“This result is a win for residents along the Aurora Avenue corridor, demonstrating what’s possible when neighbors collaborate with SPD and this office to take back the streets,” City Attorney Peter S. Holmes said.

According to the agreement that Municipal Court Judge George W. Holifield approved, each of the four motel corporations pleaded guilty to five counts of failure to file tax returns (for 20 counts total). Although the prosecution requested suspended sentences with financial penalties, the Court imposed two-year deferred sentences instead, including $1,000 in court costs. The court deferred imposition of the maximum penalty of $25,000 for each case on condition the corporations not commit future criminal violations and pay court costs.

In addition, the Italia & Isabella Corporation agreed to sell or close these two motels within 120 days. If not sold, all residential use must cease unless the motels are leased to a non-profit organization and used for low-income housing or emergency shelter. The Inmans agreed with the court’s authority to impose the sale or closure condition.

Dean Inman pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file tax returns. His sentence: a two-year deferred sentence – on condition he commit no criminal law violations. He and his wife, Jill, also agreed to the sale or closure of the two motels. Charges against her will be dismissed if she complies with the agreement, that she refrains from committing criminal law violations.

City Attorney Holmes is keeping an eye on the Inmans, warning them that if they violate the conditions of their sentences, the more than $100,000 in fines that the court deferred could be revoked and jail imposed on the motels’ owners.

“We’re hopeful these cases have a lasting impact and won’t result in further legal action,” he said.

By filing and paying their taxes to the city (more than $4,000), all of the defendants have complied with the law and with city license requirements.

In the statement released by the City Attorney’s Office, the assistant city attorney who handled the case, Edward McKenna, said:

“Dismissing criminal charges against the Inmans and their corporations wasn’t going to happen. We were fully prepared to litigate all 180 counts until the Inmans closed the Seattle Motor Inn and then agreed to close the Italia and Isabella motels.”

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Bank robber caught at Aurora motel

April 28th, 2010 by master

Seattle police reported the capture last night of a bank robber who allegedly committed a U-District robbery at the Washington Federal Savings, after he left his room at the normally drama-free Marco Polo motel on the 4100 block of Aurora.
The suspect robbed the bank on April 22 at 2:15 p.m., demanding cash and traveler’s checks from the teller. Police described him as a white male, 40’s, unshaven with gray hair. Yesterday, a Robbery Detective received a tip: the suspect was at a north Seattle location and driving a white  Mercedes. The Puget Sound Violent Crimes Task Force and SPD Robbery Detectives responded to the location and was informed the suspect had already left.

But officers set up containment and located the alleged bandit’s vehicle parked and unoccupied at a motel in the 4100 block of Aurora Av N. – the Marco Polo. Luckily, around 9 p.m., the suspect suddenly exited the room and attempted to leave in his car. Police took him into custody without further incident and transported him to the Robbery Office for processing.

UPDATE: The suspect was booked into King County Jail on investigation of robbery as Steven T. Masters, born in 1952. He is also listed as a fugitive from Oregon, along with a charge of theft from Kennewick. Police said the name given upon his arrest at the Marco Polo was Steven Matt, but could not explain why he was booked into the county jail under a different name.

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