November 23, 2015
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State creates first Wildland Fire Liaison

Kittitas County Commissioner Gary Berndt has been appointed the first-ever wildland fire liaison for the state of Washington. Berndt fills a position that lawmakers created last spring to improve communication and coordination between the state and local fire officials and communities.

Berndt worked for the state Department of Natural Resources for 39 years, retiring in 2011. He served in many roles, including firefighting and resource management. He also served as mayor of Cle Elum from 1988 to 2004 and was elected to the county commission in 2013.

The Yakima Herald-Republic has more.

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Jobs and Redevelopment in Longview

Millennium: Local coal terminal will enhance region

By Bill Chapman

Millennium sits on a former industrial site that, for generations, has been designated, zoned and used for heavy industry. Since taking over in 2011, we've removed over a quarter-million tons of unpermitted material from the site (recycling about 65 percent), restored a local fish habitat, and kept dozens of our neighbors employed along the way. The river channel is already deepened to allow ocean-going transport, and the rail spur has long been in place.

For millions of people in developing nations, coal remains the main viable source of electricity. Some homes are lit by a single light bulb -- this is a "quality of life" we would never accept. There will not be enough power from renewable energy to meet basic needs in Asia for decades. These countries continue burning coal because it is the most available energy source they have, and because it allows them to pursue a quality of life we already enjoy.

We know that quality of life matters here in Southwest Washington, too. Without jobs to support families, "quality of life" quickly evaporates. Longview is a town built for industry and trade; the failure to regenerate family-wage jobs profoundly threatens our quality of life.
Click here to read the full op-ed in The Columbian
Charter Fix Has Bipartisan Support

Legislature must act on charter schools

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Lawmakers should act in the best interest of children and families who have embraced charter schools. In their first year of operation, many of the state's charter schools have enrolled high levels of low-income, minority and special-education students -- children who have not all been well-served by traditional schools and whose families cannot afford private school.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
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