Chamber represents, promotes and connects local businesses

  • Written by Deborah Stone

Often, the Chamber of Commerce is the first place people seek out when they are new to town or in the process of considering moving to a different city.

They can learn useful data about the community and get connected to the resources they need.

Most chambers print directories of the businesses in their area and provide relocation packages, as well as key visitor information for tourists.

On a local level, the chamber of commerce plays an important role for business owners and those who do business in the community.

Dave Witt, executive director of the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce
“Our mission is to promote, strengthen and represent a successful business community,” explains Dave Witt, executive director of the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber is the voice of the business community, representing local businesses to the media and to local, state and the federal governments.The chamber promotes local businesses to potential consumers within our region and promotes Woodinville as a destination for consumer and tourist activities to those prospective visitors living elsewhere. We provide our members numerous opportunities to network with other business people and conduct training seminars for professional development.”

The Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1962 when a group of local business people, foreseeing expansion to their community, determined a need for such an organization.

Over the years, it has grown in membership, as well as in the role it plays in our area. It was one of the key leaders in support of Woodinville’s incorporation efforts back in 1993 and continues to work towards making the city a good place to live, work and do business within this region.

“We have about 225 members today,” says Suzanne Rollins, office manager for the chamber. “They are not only from Woodinville, but from several surrounding Eastside communities. Basically, if they do business in Woodinville, they can join.”

She explains that membership fees are based on the number of full-time employees in a company and start at $275 a year.

These fees help to finance the chamber, along with the money it raises from its annual auction.

Witt notes that it’s not only businesses that benefit by having an effective chamber of commerce.

He says, “A healthy business community delivers convenient access to goods and services, provides local jobs and keeps our sales tax revenue right here where it can fund the services and infrastructure we need for a great quality of life in Woodinville.”

Suzanne Rollins, office manager for the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce
The chamber seeks out additional opportunities to be involved in the community by sponsoring various events, such as the All Fool’s Day Parade and the Woodinville Women’s Show.

Also, each year it chooses a charitable organization as the focus for its “Raise the Paddle” at its annual auction.

In 2011, it was the Northshore Wranglers, a special recreation program.

Next year, it will be Homeward Pet and Adoption Center.

Rebecca Clark, general manager of Brittany Park Retirement Community, a longtime member of the chamber, views the organization as a valuable asset to the community.

She says, “It represents businesses here and gives them visibility. We see it as our responsibility as a business to be a member. It’s the right thing to do.”

She adds, “It’s been great getting to know other local business owners and we try and work with them as much as possible for our own business needs. I personally like the speakers the Chamber offers. They’re interesting and often enlightening.”

Kathy Kill, branch manager of Banner Bank echoes Clark’s sentiments.

She says, “We belong because it supports the Woodinville community. It’s a valuable organization and I’ve been able to meet so many great people through it.”

Being able to connect to the community is definitely a benefit that comes with chamber membership, according to Lisa Norrgard of Norrgard’s Optik.

“It’s really boosted our community involvement,” she comments. “And we can find out what’s going on and how we can help support the community, such as becoming sponsors of various events. It’s also a great resource and I’ve been able to build a base of referrals for local businesses that I can use for myself as well as give to others.”

Jens Molbak of Molbak’s Garden & Home Store, another longtime chamber member, feels that the organization does a good job of welcoming new businesses to the city.

He comments, “They’re really good at telling Woodinville’s story to prospective businesses. Our community is unique, with the wine industry and tourism piece, and the chamber knows how to present all that we have to offer new businesses. We’d love to see more businesses come here so that Woodinville can continue to become a vital place for people to work and shop in.”

Molbak also points out that the chamber excels in its role as a unifier in representing the business community as a whole.

He makes a note of singling out Executive Director Dave Witt, adding, “Dave is the strongest director we’ve had in the years I’ve been involved and we’re very lucky to have him. He is the face of the Chamber and he does a great job.”

Rave reviews for new classroom building at WHS

  • Written by Deborah Stone
WHS 015
The new 53-classroom instructional building houses the main office, general classrooms, science classrooms, performing arts spaces, a health occupations room and business/computer rooms. The $51.9 million project was completed on schedule and under budget. Photo by Deborah Stone.
If you haven’t been over to Woodinville High in a while, you most assuredly won’t recognize the place.

The school has undergone a major renovation over the past several years and looks like an entirely different campus.

Most recently completed was Phase 2A of the 3-Phase project, encompassing a 53-classroom instructional building, which houses the main office, 37 general classrooms, nine science lab/classrooms, three performing arts classrooms, a health occupations room and three business/computer classrooms.

The structure, which blends seamlessly with the school’s new commons and library, was finished on schedule and under budget to the tune of $51.9 million (paid for with funds from the voter-approved 2010 capital projects bond and state energy grants).

As an added bonus, Cornerstone Construction, the general contractor for the project, was able to recycle 97 percent of the materials, including the steel, brick and concrete.

The process went smoothly, according to George Bulloch, project manager. “There are always challenges when you remodel in an occupied campus,” he says. “You have constraints because you need to keep the safety of the students a priority at all times, but everyone worked together to ensure that this was accomplished. Additionally, the site itself presented a challenge, as it required a lot of work to level it out. But, all and all, it’s gone very well.”

Kurt Criscione, WHS principal, is thrilled with the results and comments that both students and staff are enthusiastic about their new digs.

He notes that the old facility was an “outdoor” campus where students had to go outside each time they changed classes.

“It’s so nice to have everything under one roof, especially in the bad weather,” he says. “And then there’s so much more natural light that comes in now with all the windows. It’s also more spacious. The halls are wider and the ceilings are taller.”

Though Criscione has only been principal at WHS for a few months (having replaced Vicki Puckett, who left to take the helm over at SAS), he worked at the school years ago and was familiar with the old campus layout.

WHS Remodel4
Pictured are students Caileigh Steigers, Dean Willett and Nolan Menen doing lab work in one of the new science classes. Photo by Deborah Stone.
He points to the fact that now with all of the academic wings in one area, classrooms are more accessible and convenient for students and faculty.

“It enhances the collaborative nature of education,” he adds.

Differences within the classrooms are also apparent. Both the desks and chairs are at a higher height than previously, tables are on wheels and all rooms have active boards.

“I love the new classrooms,” enthuses science teacher Gary Thurman. “They did a fabulous job. There’s plenty of space and the science rooms are great because they can be configured for labs or lectures. Before, the rooms were one configuration only and couldn’t be changed. And it was very cramped.” English and humanities instructor Jim Schindler particularly likes the speaker system, which he uses often in his classes.

“I don’t have to raise my voice over the students,” he comments. “And, also, when I have individual students contributing to the discussion, we can pass the mike around so that everyone can hear each other talk.”

Schindler is also thrilled that there are bathrooms on each floor for both students and staff. In the old layout, bathrooms were few and far apart.

“Traffic, too, is much improved,” he adds. “The wider halls make a big difference when students are moving between periods.” Another notable improvement is the student-run store. What used to be closet-size is now a spacious facility, conveniently located near the commons, where students can find a variety of snacks, drinks, logo apparel and more. Criscione is also eager to point out the courtyard that frames one side of the new building. “This is such a great space,” he says. “It can serve as an outdoor learning classroom, which in fact, some teachers have already done.” Construction still continues at the school with work on Phase 2B (the performing arts wing) in progress. According to Bulloch, crews are in the process of building a 450-seat auditorium, a drama black box theatre/classroom and band and choral classrooms, due to be completed in the fall of 2012. The timing of Phase 3 of the project, renovation of the gym and construction of an art technology building, is yet to be determined. It is contingent on a future capital bond.

Meet the candidate: Hank Stecker

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Challenger for Woodinville Water District  position No.5

SteckerResident of Woodinville for how long?

We have owned our home in Woodinville for 22 years.


Licensed senior mortgage planner with Cobalt Mortgage. I’ve been in the financial field for 10 years. Twenty years prior in management in the information technology field.


BA degree, University of Colorado.

Personal: Widowed. My son Erik, 13, is a student at Leota Junior High.

Local government experience:  Woodinville City Council/ deputy mayor. Woodinville Planning Commissioner/ chairperson.

Civic involvement: Board member, Concerned Neighbors of Woodinville (CNW), Wellington/Leota PTA, assistant coach for my son’s baseball and NYSA soccer teams.

Why are you running for office? We are fortunate to be living the motto “Country Living, City Style.” Those of us on large lots near the city enjoy a semi-rural lifestyle with city amenities. Neighbors in the city core enjoy their amenities with the rural flavor of our adjoining neighborhoods, a perfect but difficult balance at the edge of the city.

Our water and sewer commissioners are critical in keeping this rural/city balance. Eighty-five percent of the district is comprised of homes on septic, yet none of the commissioners own property in this part of the district. Three rent and two own homes on the sewer. This is not balanced representation.We have issues to address that will impact our community for several decades. We need balanced representation so the voice of our community can be heard.

What are the most important issues? Open and transparent government. The district had become a closed door affair. No broadcasting, videotaping or audiotaping of meetings. Their only information outlet is the Pipeline Newsletter which has become a $30,000 a year photo op for commissioners.

What’s the best thing about the water district? We have solid infrastructure and facilities with abundant access to water and sewage treatment. We need to plan for our future, managing these resources properly and plan growth appropriately.

What could be improved? Commissioners need more than two hours a month, meeting at the district to accomplish proper planning, scoping of budgets and staffing needs.

Currently commissioners expense all meeting time, prep time — even garden club time. It’s out of control. We should implement reasonable accounting practices and consider a flat fee for commissioners’ time. The district needs to seek out public input.

Public comment needs to be embraced, not limited to their current policy of two minutes.

What separates you from your opponent (incumbent Ken Goodwin)? I’m a fiscal conservative. As a past city council member I supported successful efforts reeling in budget and staffing starting five years ago. Staffing levels were reduced and overall productivity increased ... My opponent just approved a two-night retreat to the Salish Lodge for commissioners costing over $8,000.

Upon returning from his “ratepayer expensed” seven-day trip to Washington, D.C., he declared: “We cannot continue business as usual in these extraordinary times.” For 29 hours of meetings last year he expensed 270 hours of travel away from the district: flights, hotels, meals, etc.None of this is reasonable.

Be part of disaster preparedness solution

  • Written by Woodinville Emergency Preparedness Commission
The City of Woodinville encourages residents and businesses to provide shelters, feeding and first aid following an emergency or disaster.  You are encouraged to become an emergency shelter volunteer (animals or people), communications volunteer or a member of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) - a volunteer who helps others while waiting for first responders.

If you are interested, call the Emergency Services Coordinating Agency at (425) 776-3722. CERT classes are offered several times during the year, and run for eight consecutive weeks.  The cost is $45.

If you’d like to review emergency brochures and talk with a Woodinville Emergency Preparedness and Safety commissioner, stop by our booth at the Winter Safety Fair on Saturday, October 29, at Woodinville Fire & Rescue Station 31.

The station is located at 17718 Woodinville-Snohomish Rd. The fire district provides a wonderful pancake breakfast beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the fair gets underway at 10 a.m., concluding about 3 p.m.

Fifty-eight Northshore students named National Merit Commended scholars

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Inglemoor senior also named National Achievement scholar

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has named 48 Northshore students as Commended scholars for scoring in the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who took the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Commended scholars do not continue in competition for National Merit scholarships, but they are considered for other scholarships because of their exceptional academic promise.

Inglemoor High School senior Olivia Bedford has been named both a Commended scholar and a National Achievement scholar.The National Achievement Scholarship Program is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding Black American high school students. National Achievement scholars can compete for scholarships through the National Achievement program.

Bothell High School Commended scholars include Anoop Gill, Heather Huizenga, Clark Jensen, Hannah Thomas, Mariah Williamson and Chelsea Wing.

Inglemoor High School Commended scholars include Alexandra Abbey, Kyra Arnett, Olivia Bedford, Patrick Bonds, Ingrid Clark, Harriet Colie, Kendal Crawford, Tamar Feldman, Jonathan Fox, Rachael Grudt, Jessica Haggar, Christopher Hansen, Rachael Haver, Nicole Hayes, Corinne Hosken, Wenhao Lu, Liam Madden, Hunter McDonald, Anthony Moretti, Bailey Moritz, Nicole Ochandarena, Annika Ollestad, Morgan Olsen, Rachel Osborne, Jisung Park, Eunice Pyon, Anlin Shi, Cleo Spencer, Megan Stewart, Sarah Wang, Stefanie Watson, Lucas Wimmer, Bryant Wong, Jane Wong, Austin Wright-Pettibone and Kevin Wyatt-Stone

Woodinville High School Commended scholars include Samuel Albertson, Christopher Barker, Anthony Fazzio, Kelsie Haakenson, Andrea Hellebust, Sarah Hubert, Ian Lewis, Catalina Mackaman-Lofland, Meghan McDonell, Darryl Puri, Johanna Rayl, Mallika Singh, Kyle Tsai, Laura Waters, Kelsey Whalen and Keelor Wilson.


Ed. Note - Merit Scholar list was updated from 44 (at print) to 58 on Oct. 17, 2011