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Amanda Ray / Yakima Herald-Republic 

Action from a CBBN match-up between West Valley and Moses Lake Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, at West Valley High School in Yakima, Wash.

weather alert
UPDATE: Flood warning in effect for Yakima River near Parker; minor flooding reported along Naches River

A flood warning is in effect for the Yakima River near Parker until Saturday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the river gauge was at 9.5 feet at Parker, with a flood stage of 10 feet expected between 10 p.m. Friday and 4 a.m. Saturday, according to the Yakima County Office of Emergency Management. Parker is south of Union Gap.

The river was expected to crest at 4 a.m. Saturday at 10.3 feet, the office said. It expected to fall below flood stage by Sunday morning.

Minor flooding is forecast.

The Naches River has already reached flood stage. As of 8:45 a.m., the river gauge in the town of Naches showed the river running at 18.4 feet. Flood stage there is 17.8 feet. The river was forecast to fall back below flood stage Saturday.

Minor flooding is being reported along the Naches River, the weather service said.


High temperatures are forecast at 54 degrees Friday and 51 degrees Saturday in Yakima, with a 30% chance of rain Friday night.

The National Weather Service lifted flood warnings Friday morning on the Snohomish River near Monroe, Issaquah Creek near Issaquah and Carbon River near Fairfax, the Associated Press reported.

Snow levels will drop and heavy snow is expected in the Cascade Mountains through Saturday morning, the weather service said. Winds are expected to pick up, too.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation for 19 Washington counties because of damage from storms that are forecast to continue into the weekend. King County Executive Dow Constantine in Seattle signed an emergency declaration Thursday to speed up response and turnaround times for repairs and other work.

Crystal Mountain Resort closed Thursday because of high avalanche danger and mudslides on the road to the large ski and snowboarding area in the Cascades.

Yakima nonprofit presents young man with service dog after two-year effort
 Tammy Ayer  / 

With some gentle petting and a few short walks, Sam Miller got to know his new standard poodle, Finn.

“He seems a little nervous and curious,” Miller said early Friday afternoon as Finn’s trainer, Alfredo Aguayo of Loyalty Service Dogs in Mesquite, Nev., looked on and answered his questions. Trainer and dog had just arrived in Yakima after a long morning of two flights.

Finn will change Miller’s life in all the usual awesome doggy ways, and more. He was trained for a year to be able to detect when Miller, who is almost 21 and was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy at age 10, begins to suffer a seizure. Finn’s sharply focused sense of smell tells him when that is happening, and will warn Miller so he can prepare for a seizure by sitting down or taking other actions.

Miller has fallen and injured himself during seizures, which cannot be controlled with treatment. It has been hard for him to live a normal life because his seizures are so random. Keeping a job has been challenging and he can’t drive or use public transportation because of the possibility of suffering a seizure, falling and hurting himself.

But with Finn’s help, that danger will lessen, launching a positive cycle of change. Stress can trigger seizures. With Finn’s help, Miller should have less stress over potential injuries, which could decrease the number of seizures. Aided by Finn, Miller may be able to begin using Yakima Transit’s Dial-A-Ride service and get a job. He graduated from high school in 2018 and he wants to work.

A year and a half in the making, the gift of Miller’s life-changing companion is a special wish granted by Children’s Wishes and Dreams, which executive director Heidi Anderson founded in 2005. Finn met Miller at her home office along with several other guests.

“My hope for this wish is it will enable Sam to be independent, self-reliant and be able to find a place to work,” Anderson said. “This dog is to give someone independence he’s never known.”

The all-volunteer nonprofit grants wishes to Yakima Valley children and young adults, age 3 to 21, with life-threatening or life-altering conditions, including severe injuries. It limits its funding for individual wishes to $10,000, with the money coming from fundraisers and donations.

Finn’s total cost was $23,000. But to answer this special wish for a special dog, Children’s Wishes and Dreams reached out to the community within and beyond Miller’s home in West Valley. And people responded in a big way.

The nonprofit provided the initial $10,000 and garnered an additional $17,745.99 through special collections at its events and a story in its newsletter, jars at banks and businesses and donations by churches, car clubs, fire and police departments and individuals.

The total needed for Finn was raised by November 2018, but donations kept coming until June.

“It was just amazing,” Anderson said. “I’m touched and appreciative of all the community support that’s behind this wish. My heartfelt thanks to everyone.”

Children’s Wishes and Dreams put the remaining $4,745.99 in a separate account for Finn’s veterinary bills, grooming, food and necessities, until the balance is used, Anderson said.

A tall young man with a quiet demeanor, Miller smiled as Aguayo showed him Finn’s AKC certificate and started to go through the paperwork that would make Finn officially his.

“I see new opportunities in my life — new opportunities and another road to go down,” Miller said, Finn at his side.

His girlfriend of three years, Kailey Mosley — who has a dog named Huck — was referred to Children’s Wishes and Dreams. She received her wish to visit Disneyland and got to spend quality time with her mother, who had been battling cancer but is now in remission. In early summer 2018 Mosley and her mother approached Anderson about a wish for Miller.

“I nominated him because that’s what it’s for, and he needed a friend,” Mosley said.

Anderson researched five businesses that train and provide seizure dogs and all quoted costs of around $23,000, she said. Anderson told the women that was too much, but said the organization could support fundraising beyond the organization’s maximum $10,000.

Anyone can refer someone to Children’s Wishes and Dreams by phone or completing a form. A representative contacts relatives and verifies the condition with the family physician, then meets with the person nominated to ask for three wishes, so there are a few options. The average cost to fulfill a wish ranges from $4,500 to $7,500, according to an informational flyer.

The organization gets requests for trips, to meet celebrities and visit grandparents or other beloved relatives, for wheelchair ramps, specialized strollers, computers or bedroom renovations. In 2010, it granted a wish for a ceiling lift — a motorized device that uses a sling to lift and move a person along an overhead track to different points in a room or area.

One young boy wanted a remote-controlled helicopter. He received that along with wings presented and pinned by U.S. Army representatives, and soldiers did a fly-by while he was in the hospital, Anderson said. The boy died 45 minutes after the fly-by.

The Yakima Police Department, classic car club Vintiques of Yakima and VanArnam Vineyards are consistently strong supporters of Children’s Wishes and Dreams. The Sun Country Mustang Club has donated some show proceeds and organizers of the annual Sort 4 The Cause event in Sunnyside also support the nonprofit.

“YPD does a lot for us,” Anderson said, pointing out that the department has participated in No-Shave November, an annual effort to increase dialogue on cancer by growing out facial hair. Officers contribute so they can stop shaving that month and have donated the proceeds to Children’s Wishes and Dreams.

For Miller and Finn, the organization reached out to its steady supporters and others.

“The community has helped this wish so very much, and many people have worked hard to make it happen,” Anderson said.

Some who donated specifically for Finn’s purchase were Vintiques of Yakima, the West Valley Church and the West Valley Fire Department. Donation jars went up at Yakima Federal Savings and Loan Association branches, Waffles Café at the Meadowbrook shopping center and Wray’s Thriftway at Meadowbrook and Chalet Place.

“I bank at Yakima Federal and we had one at the Dollar Store, where I worked,” Miller said.

Guests filled a big donation jar at VanArnum Vineyards with $1,375, Anderson said. And many who attended Children’s Wishes and Dreams events made multiple donations for Finn, she said.

Loyalty Service Dogs specializes in specializes in training service dogs for people with autism, diabetes, epilepsy and PTSD, according to its website, loyaltyservicedogs.com. Aguayo has worked with Finn for nearly the dog’s entire life; Finn had his first birthday in November.

Along with detecting a potential seizure by scent, Finn knows what a seizure looks like. When he realizes that a seizure is imminent or happening, Finn will go for help if Miller is alone. When Finn finds someone who can help, he paws at the person, Aguayo said. He doesn’t bark.

As a service dog, Finn has an important job. He’s a working dog, Aguayo stressed. “Please don’t pet him. If people are touching him, he can’t concentrate on Sam,” he added.

This prompted a question from Miller — can Finn cut loose like any other dog every now and then? Aguayo smiled. “He can play. He can still be a dog,” he said.

Finn and Miller will get to know each other better with the trainer’s help before Aguayo returns home Sunday. Aguayo will go through some of the motions of daily life for Miller and his new companion, explaining how Miller can integrate Finn into his life.

There’s a lot to learn.

For instance, Finn can’t go on escalators, and hotels can’t charge a pet fee if they’re traveling. Different leashes do different things. Miller will get in the habit of cleaning Finn’s ears and his teeth and has pamphlets for people with questions about his dog.

Mosley waited for Miller to spend a little time with Finn before introducing herself to him. “He’s so soft,” she said.

“I’m really excited for Sam,” Mosley said. “He’s really been waiting for this.”

UPDATED: Crews called three times Friday to rescue people stranded on Yakima River

Yakima firefighters were called out three times Friday to rescue people stranded on islands in the Yakima River due to high water.

Crews were first called shortly before 2 p.m. Friday to Robertson Landing for a man who was camping on an island in the middle of the river and was stranded by rising waters, firefighters said.

The Yakima Fire Department, assisted by Yakima County sheriff’s deputies, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and an ambulance crew were able to get the man off the island with an inflatable boat.

From there, crews went to Sarg Hubbard Park, where two people and a dog were on a nearby island. Fire department rescue swimmers went over and helped the people off the island.

A third person was stranded on an island near McGuire Community park. As of press time, rescue operations were continuing.

Judge's ruling on I-976 could come as soon as next week

Voters were deceived when they were asked to pass Initiative 976 slashing car tabs, a coalition of groups including Seattle and King County argued in court Friday, attempting to defeat a tax cut they say is riddled with constitutional issues.

“The $30 promise is completely illusory and deceptive,” King County attorney David Hackett told King County Superior Court Judge Marshall Ferguson, who isn’t expected to rule in the case until next week.

Hackett argued that while the ballot title voters saw in November promised $30 car tabs “except voter-approved charges,” the initiative neither offered a true $30 cap — because other state fees mean the lowest any vehicle owner will pay is slightly over $40 — nor protected taxes previously approved by voters the way an average voter might think.

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office is defending the initiative and argues the title gave voters enough information to know they may want to look further into the details of the measure. Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman has also said voters were well aware of what it would do.

The state says the title voters saw — which mentioned both “vehicle taxes and fees” and “motor-vehicle-license fees” — was actually distinguishing between different charges and so was not misleading.

Voters could have reasonably been expected to read that title, wonder about the distinction and be moved to look further into what exactly would be lowered, allowed or repealed, said Deputy Solicitor General Alan Copsey.

“This gives the average voters enough information to put them on notice that something is going on here,” Copsey said.

The hearing underway Friday is the latest in a legal fight that has stretched on since the November election, cast doubt on state and local transportation budgets and kept driver frustration over car-tab taxes in the spotlight. With Initiative 976 on hold, vehicle owners continue to pay higher vehicle registration fees.

Before arguments began Friday, Judge Ferguson said he did not plan to rule in the case until next week, citing “complex” legal issues at play.

“The parties and the public deserve a clear explanation from the court,” Ferguson said. “That will take a bit of time, although I understand this issue is very pressing.”

However he rules, the decision is likely to be appealed.

If upheld, I-976 would lower many state vehicle registration fees, repeal additional local fees that fund road projects and bus service, and attempt to repeal or lower Sound Transit taxes ( the agency disputes how that would work). Some local and state lawmakers warn that cutting those fees will put road and transit work across the state at risk.