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Up to smoke-free, volunteers, police, city
? Thumbs up for the Roanoke Inn going smoke-free. The historic tavern, built in 1914, is an Island institution that serves a wide variety of people and purposes. High school reunions are held there and you may run into a friend, or even a public servant. An already inviting gathering place becomes more so by going smoke-free. The change also coincides with the recent movement to ban smoking from all places of employment and public buildings in Initiative 901. Signatures for the initiative were turned into the state earlier this month and it may qualify for the November ballot.
? Thumbs up for Mercer Island Youth and Family Services' ongoing summer youth volunteer programs: the Summer Volunteer Program (SVP) and Volunteer Outreach in Communities Everywhere (VOICE). The participants are exposed to the world around them by helping the homeless, preparing food at soup kitchens, spending time with senior citizens and helping out in parks. More than 150 teens provided 8,200 hours of service for more than 40 nonprofit organizations last year through VOICE. The SVP, which is offered to middle school students, was so popular last year that it had more participants than was originally planned, even though it was a pilot program. Parents see the value of the programs, the kids enjoy the experience and there's always a waiting list to sign up. The programs and participants deserve our appreciation.
? Thumbs up for the Mercer Island police, who have new patrol cars and a new dispatch center out of Kirkland. Both the cars, with computers in them to run license-plate checks, and dispatch service are great improvements over the antiquated equipment and service they replaced.
? Thumbs up for the city working with youths who use an under-used part of Luther Burbank Park and to not press charges against them for damaging native plants. There clearly was a misunderstanding as to what was allowed in that part of the park. Kudos to both sides for trying to find a solution.