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Save Our Farms and Wine Country in King County, WA


This is an open letter to King County Council and the City of Woodinville with regard to their plan to open up the Sammamish River corridor to urban development:

Dear King County Council:

I live a mile from downtown Woodinville, WA. Before living here, I lived on 3 acres in a semi-rural part of South Carolina. When I first moved to Puget Sound 12 years ago, I was immediately drawn to this spot because of the country feeling it has, yet is so close to everything in the city.  My commute to work has consisted of riding the 1 mile down to the Sammamish River bike trail, then 10 miles on a quiet, scenic ride along the trail to Marymoor Park, then 1 more mile up to my office.  Even in the winter, this is a pleasant ride.

On my ride in the mornings, the air smells clean and fresh.  There are no roads or houses anywhere close to the trail.  I see lots of wildlife: rabbits, beavers and herons are always there.  But the wilderness experience goes far beyond that.  I have seen a coyote catching a rabbit.  I have seen an eagle catch a duck in the middle of one of the farms; I have had an owl fly along beside me as I rode home in the winter night.  This place is surprisingly quiet and devoid of noise pollution.  A great comfort for people and an absolute necessity for creatures like owls which depend on hearing to catch their food.  This corridor is a great sanctuary for people as well as wildlife from the growth and expansion of urban life and an important reason why I choose to live here.

At night, this corridor is one of the few places not flooded with light pollution, yet open enough to see the sky.  I sometimes take my daughter here to see the stars.  Earlier this year we were able to go down to the bike trail near the St. Michelle winery to watch the meteor shower and another time to watch the lunar eclipse.  During the day, this is one of the few places near my home where I can get an unobstructed view of Mt Rainier.  Most evenings throughout the summer, a pair of hot air balloons can be seen drifting down the valley where they will land in a field.  These balloons are as much the trademark of the City of Woodinville as the Space Needle is of the City of Seattle.  (see the city logo in the top right corner of the City of Woodinville website)These experiences will all be gone permanently, when you open this area up to development.

I support protecting our farms, forests, and rural lands. These lands are important, not only to Woodinville’s wine and tourism industry, but to everyone who lives here or passes through.  Many thousands of cyclists use this corridor daily.  To quote from your own website:

“The Sammamish River Trail (SRT) runs 10.9 miles along the Sammamish River from Bothell to Marymoor Park in Redmond as part of the “Locks to Lakes Corridor.” The SRT is paved its entire length and is one of King County’s most popular regional trails. The trail offers extraordinary views of the river, the broad Sammamish River Valley, Cascade foothills and Mt. Rainier. Bicyclists, joggers, skaters, walkers, and others enjoy the trail as a regional recreation resource. The SRT is also used extensively by commuters as a nonmotorized corridor between suburban cities and Seattle.”

To develop this land will not only diminish the value of the valley itself, but also destroy the very reason many people are drawn to this area to begin with.  Please protect our lands by keeping King County’s designated urban growth area right where it is.

Sincerely,
David Hablewitz

If you support this letter, even if you don’t live here, please add your name below by simply posting a comment.  You can write your own letter by visiting http://www.savewoodinvillefarms.org
Please respond quickly.  Hearings are to be held on this topic September 11, 12, and 18

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A critical lesson in customer service, connections and social media


First, if you need help with a printer and you live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend the services of Infinity Communications.  Ask for Mark.

But this story isn’t about printers, that’s just where it all starts.  I have an old HP Laserjet 4000 printer.  The manufactured date is April 15, 1998.  A classic.  It’s 44 pounds of metal and only 1 pound of plastic.  Definitely Old School.  I in inherited it along with an extra toner cartridge refill several years ago when our office was getting rid of it to replace it with a fancy new multi-function printer.

It has served me well, but recently the sheet feeder started jamming.  The printer only worked if I fed paper one page at a time into the manual tray.  I decided to get rid of this old laser printer along with my color inkjet printer and a flatbed scanner and replace them with a modern all-in-one printer from Costco.  This new machine is great.  It scans, prints color photos, makes copies, send faxes via the Internet, and even allows me to print from anywhere via facebook.  Not to mention all the desk space it freed up.

On Monday, less than three months since I bought it, it ran out of black ink.  That same day, as if they already knew I would need it, I got an email from Costco advertising their printer cartridge refill service for about $10.  (Perhaps the printer has a feature to alert Costco when the toner is low.  It is certainly capable of it and if Target can predict you are pregnant by your buying habits, then Costco could certainly be monitoring printer alerts.)

I got it refilled, but I also thought back on that old laser printer sitting by the door, waiting to be disposed of properly.  It was such a workhorse.  It should be good for a few more years of printing at least, if only the automatic sheet feeder worked.

But like I said, this story isn’t about printers.  It’s about people.  It’s about customer service, connections and social media.

I decided to call around and see what it would cost to get it repaired.  I consulted the great oracle, Google, who guided me to a long list of companies in my area that service printers.  The first one I called answered promptly.  The woman at the other end was helpful and knowledgeable.  When I mentioned what printer I had, she replied “ah yes, that is considered the old workhorse of printers!  There are many still in service today.”  She went on to explain the cost for repair is $25 for the visit (they come to you) plus $75/hour.  It should take under 1 hour.  And I may want to get the maintenance kit which is $300 parts and labor.  That would be about $400 total.  “Hmmm.  Let me call you back on that”,  I said.

After a few more calls with people reporting similar pricing, I called the listing for a company named Infinity Communications, located just 2 miles from my place.  A guy answered the phone and I explained to him my situation.  “Oh yeah, that’s a great printer.  That’s what I use for all my personal heavy-duty printing.  I service several law offices that use that one and they all have over 100,000 pages.  You can get over 10,000 prints from one toner cartridge.  So here’s the deal:  You can bring it in to me and I’ll charge you $95/hr plus parts.  If it has over 100,000 prints since its last service, you might need the maintenance kit too.  But that’s pretty pricey.  You know, it’s probably something as simple as pulling the two rubber rollers out and washing them with a damp wash cloth.  If you pull out the paper tray and look inside there…”  Over the next 5 minutes he talked me through how to remove the rollers.  Incredibly simple.  I cleaned them up and ran a test print while he was on the phone.  Voila’!  I have a working printer again!  “So look on that test print page”, he says.  “How many prints since last maintenance?”  I read it to him “1410”.  He asks “And what is the total page count?”  I reply “One four one zero.”  He asks “You mean one hundred forty thousand?”  “No, one thousand four hundred and ten.”  “Wow” he says.  “That’s like a brand new printer! You’ll be using that for a long, long time.”  Yep.  he’s right.  I will also be coming to him for all my printer service needs in the future and I will tell all my friends about him.

So to all my readers, his name is Mark Ungacta and his company is Infinity Communications here in Woodinville, WA.
We chatted on the phone for a bit more and I promised him a beer for his help.  By coincidence he happens to know someone who owns a brewery nearby…

The difference between what those others did and what Mark did meant the difference between getting no business and getting a beer, a loyal customer, and potentially many more customers than just the one calling.

The lessons:
1.  Customer service is all about doing more than you have to.  In the end, more likely than not, the dividends will more than make up for it.
2.  Social media provides individuals with a much stronger influence than in the past.  Be keenly aware of that as you make choices. In this instance I’m hoping this blog post drives new business Mark’s way.
3.  Take the time to listen to the people you meet.  You never know where those connections will lead you.

Do you have a similar success story?  Please share it.

Footnote: if you have this printer, you can get the maintenance kit and detailed instructions at http://www.precisionroller.com/instructions/hp-4000-4050-maintenance-kit-instructions/

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