State cancels plans for Carnation sex offender center

CARNATION - Anyone who says just one person can't change a government bureaucracy's plan should meet 10-year-old Zacharias Van Westrienen.

Zach is a fifth-grader at Carnation Elementary. Because the school bus stops at his home, Washington state says it no longer plans to site a transitional house for violent sex offenders anywhere near Carnation.

About 2,000 residents sighed in relief Wednesday, Jan. 15, when word circulated that a site two and a half miles southeast of city limits no longer would be one of three from which the state intended to make a final selection. But by dropping the property near Carnation from its list of candidates, the state left itself with two options - both in South County.

Throughout the process, the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) had said the facility could not be placed within 600 feet of churches, schools, school bus stops, playgrounds and similar facilities.

"Is that unbelievable or what?" said Carnation Mayor Stuart Lisk. "This is a testament of the power of people who come together. This crossed party lines. It didn't matter if you were a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal."

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