Entries in Washington (6)


Washington Residents Fed Up with Canadians Taking over Local Costco

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(BELLINGHAM, Wash.) -- Residents of Bellingham, Wash., are fed up with Canadian shoppers who cross the border and buy up the goods at the local Costco.

Canadian residents are driving less than 30 miles across the U.S. border and taking full advantage of the favorable exchange rate when buying food, gas and other items.  Right now, Canada’s dollar is much stronger than the U.S. dollar.  Gas is more than a buck less in the U.S., and milk is nearly $5 a gallon less.

Many British Colombia license plates have been popping up in the Costco lot, preventing locals from finding spots, according to many Bellingham residents.  Videos have been posted to YouTube showing long lines at checkout and a mad dash for cheap American milk in the store.

Things have gotten so bad for local residents that they have started a Facebook page with the pleading title, “Bellingham Costco Needs a Special Time Just for Americans.”

“It’s like the border dropped 25 miles.  Americans should be able to find parking in their own country,” reads one post.

As of Tuesday morning, the Facebook page has more than  2,900 “Likes” and tons of debates between Americans and Canadians.

A senior vice president at Costco told CBC News that anyone with a Costco membership can shop at any store in the world.

As long as the exchange rate stays in favor of the neighbors to the north, the residents of Bellingham, Wash., can expect more of the same.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sidewalks Made of Toilets? Washington Town Flush with Savings

City of Bellingham(BELLINGHAM, Wash.) -- In Bellingham, Wash., the sidewalks are paved with toilets -- 400 discarded porcelain thrones ground up in a mixture they call "poticrete.”

The sidewalks were part of the Meador Kansas Ellis Trail Project in Bellingham, about 22 miles south of the Canadian border.  The project is the first-ever to receive certification from the Greenroads Foundation, a non-profit group advocating for sustainable transportation infrastructure.  The certification, which was bestowed this week, has 11 requirements and represents “a significantly higher level of sustainability than the typical road project of today,” according to the group.

The sidewalk project cost about $850,000, which is about the same cost as using the typical gravel concoction.  Recycled asphalt was also used and low-energy LED street lighting added to cut the power bill, Freeman Anthony, project engineer for the City of Bellingham Public Works, said.

The crushed ceramic came from the Bellingham Housing Authority’s toilets.  That group approached Anthony in early 2011 because they had just upgraded three large housing facilities and didn’t know what to do with their 400 used toilets.

Designed in 2010 with construction beginning in May 2011, the project took about four months to complete.

It was the first time Bellingham has used crushed toilets as sidewalk or any infrastructure, Anthony said.  At least one other town has used toilets for public works projects.  In Fort Collins, Co., toilets are crushed and recycled into road aggregate.

Anthony said the material was tested to make sure the correct amount would be poured and remain strong as a sidewalk.  Initially, a 40 percent mixture of the ceramic material was used, but eventually 25 percent was determined to be the best amount with the remainder as asphalt and gravel.

There were at least two environmental benefits in using the recycled materials for the sidewalk, he said.  First, the toilets would not take up space in a landfill.  Second, using the waste product means less gravel is taken from the ground.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Dollar Continues Two Week Low over Sour Speculation, D.C.) -- The dollar continued its two week descent as reports suggesting the U.S. economy's economic recovery may be hitting a plateau.

The Swiss franc rose sharply this week, benefiting from the supposedly stagnating dollar and worries over Greece's debt crisis. The Dollar Index dropped from 75.435 last week to 74.758.

New Zealand's currency grew stronger after the China Investment Corp. announced plans to buy kiwi bonds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


National Mayoral Convention Focuses On Job Creation

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Mayors from around the nation have converged on the nation's capital in hopes of figuring out how to create more jobs in their hometowns. Over the course of several days, the mayors will be meeting with legislators both Republican and Democrat, cabinet members, and President Barack Obama.

Elizabeth Kautz, mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota and president of the United States Conference of Mayors, said, “The jobs picture for cities and suburbs remains extremely challenging."

The United States Conference of Mayors released an economic report showing that nearly one-third of the nation's 363 metro areas will still have an unemployment rate greater than 10 percent at the end of the year.

“This data is solid proof that Congress needs to be laser-beam focused on jobs creation,” said Kautz. “We are in the middle of a ‘jobs emergency’ that demands decisive and swift action," Kautz said.

The report also predicts that 42 percent of metropolitan areas will not gain back their pre-recession job levels until after 2014.

“As we try to slog our way out of this jobs recession, there are still families all over the nation that are suffering tremendously from prolonged unemployment. Without job growth in metropolitan areas, there can be no sustained national recovery. Our cities and our metro economies are centers of our national economy. We ignore them at our own peril," Kautz said.

The group of mayors are calling for community development block grants to be given to cities across the country so that money can be spent on job creation projects. All of the details of their plan are outlined in their 2011 Metro Agenda.

“The nation’s mayors are calling on all levels of government, as well as the private sector, to work closer together to build a bold vision for what cities and metropolitan areas will look like in the coming decades. And job creation is the key to that vision," Kautz said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mega Millions Winner: Jim McCullar of Washington

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(EPHRATA, Wash.) -- Jim McCullar kissed his wife, Carolyn, as he claimed his $190 million share of the Mega Millions lottery, part of the second-largest jackpot in the history of the U.S. lottery.

"I think $190 million is pretty good for this little old Mississippi boy," Jim McCullar said. "People have been good to me all my life. It's called pay it forward."

MCuller, 68, and his wife live in Ephrata, Washington, a town of fewer than 7,000 people, where he works as a real estate agent.

McCullar is one of two people who picked the correct numbers to earn a share of a $380 million Mega Millions bonanza. The other winner, from Idaho, has not contacted lottery officials.

It was Carolyn McCullar's idea to buy two lottery tickets last Sunday while they were grocery shopping in Safeway.

The couple's winning numbers were based upon their birthdays.

The numbers drawn in the jackpot were: 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, and the Mega Ball number was 42.

The couple's second ticket won them $150.

They've been lucky before. Several years ago, they won at least $10,000 playing the Oregon lottery.

The McCullars said that they have no plans to "blow" the money.

"What this means to me is not a jet and traveling all over the world," Jim McCullar said. "What this means to me is that the legacy is going to go generation after generation after generation. My kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids and their kids will never have to worry."

The couple has four kids together. Jim McCullar has two other children from a previous marriage.

The two, who love to golf, moved to Washington State in 2003. Jim McCullar previously worked for Boeing for 20 years as a maintenance instructor.

Washington Lottery communications director Scott Kinney said that the McCullars hand-picked the magic numbers at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Safeway store that sold the winning ticket will receive $50,000.

Washington state will use the money it makes from the lottery for higher education, Kinney said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jackpot! Winning $355 Million Mega Millions Lottery Tickets Sold

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- At least two Mega Millions tickets matching all five numbers and the mega ball number in Tuesday night's $355 million drawing were sold in Idaho and Washington state, lottery officials confirmed Wednesday morning.

The numbers drawn in the nation's third largest jackpot were: 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and mega ball number 42.

"Idaho is a very lucky place," Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said in a press release.  "We are encouraging everyone who has played Mega Millions to check their tickets carefully for winners.  We are also recommending all our players sign the back of their ticket prior to presenting it for payment.  These tickets are bearer instruments and we want to ensure our winners protect their play."

Idaho lottery officials also said another Mega Millions ticket that matched all five numbers minus the mega ball number in Tuesday's night draw was sold in the state.  That ticket is worth $250,000.

Another winner in Washington state will be sharing the $355 million jackpot, according to the Mega Millions website.

It is unknown if there are winners from other states to claim a share in the game's top jackpot prize.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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