The independent citizen-districting committee responsible for redrawing boundaries for the Metropolitan King County Council districts and reducing the council...

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The independent citizen-districting committee responsible for redrawing boundaries for the Metropolitan King County Council districts and reducing the council from 13 to nine will hold its first public hearing Wednesday in Bellevue. The five-member committee will take citizen testimony.


State law requires the districting committee draw the boundaries of each district to correspond as nearly as practical with the boundaries of existing municipalities, election precincts, census tracts, recognized natural boundaries and communities of related and mutual interest. Public hearings will be held throughout the county. A new districting plan is to be adopted by Jan. 15.


Wednesday’s hearing will be at 6 p.m. in Bellevue City Hall’s council chambers, 11511 Main St. Hearings also are scheduled next month in Lake Forest Park, Auburn and downtown Seattle. All hearings will be taped and aired on the county’s cable channel.


The committee also has a schedule of working meetings, which are open to the public, posted on its Web site: www.metrokc.gov/council/districting. The committee also will accept online testimony.


Tomorrow


• The Sierra Club’s Cascade chapter will host a public forum on transportation from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Seattle REI’s flagship store, 222 Yale Ave. N., in the upstairs meeting room. A panel will include representatives of city, county and state government.


• Peace Corps veterans will host an information meeting to recruit volunteers for Peace Corps opportunities overseas from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the University Branch Library, 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E. The Peace Corps has more than 7,500 volunteers serving in 71 countries. Information is online at www.peacecorps.gov, or call 800-424-8580 and choose option 1.


Signs of the season


• Christmas Ship Festival: The Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship, Spirit of Seattle, is touring local waters, including Lake Union, Elliott Bay and Lake Washington, each evening through Dec. 23.


On board the Christmas Ship, which is decorated with hundreds of white lights, area choirs perform holiday music, broadcast over loudspeakers to shore. On shore, community bonfires and the music attract crowds. The Christmas Ship has been a Northwest tradition for 55 years. Each year, a flotilla of decorated boats now follows the Christmas Ship to more than 45 waterfront communities.


Tonight, the Seattle Children’s Choir will sing, and the ship will leave Shilshole, in the Ballard area, at 7 p.m., cruise the Ballard Locks and Golden Gardens, and return to Shilshole shortly after 9 p.m. There’ll be bonfires at Golden Gardens Beach. Tomorrow, the flotilla will cruise the Edmonds-Richmond Beach areas.


Passengers pay to ride the Christmas Ship, but the bonfire gatherings are free. A nightly cruise and bonfire schedule is online at www.argosycruises.com, or call 206-623-1445.


Holiday helpers


Firefighters are partnering with the Federal Way Community Food and Toy Drive to help needy families in the Federal Way area during the holidays. New unwrapped toys, food and money can be dropped off at Federal Way fire stations through Dec. 23. Donations should be made out to the Federal Way Firefighters Foundation, with a notation of whether the donation is for food or toys. Donations also can be mailed to the Federal Way Firefighters Foundation, 31617 First Ave. S., Federal Way, WA 98003. Information: 253-839-6234.


Here & Now is compiled by Seattle Times staff reporter Charles E. Brown and news assistant Suesan Whitney Henderson. To submit an item, e-mail herenow@seattletimes.com


or call 206-464-2226.