Musician and composer Quincy Jones will deliver this year's commencement speech at Husky Stadium, the University of Washington announced...

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Musician and composer Quincy Jones will deliver this year’s commencement speech at Husky Stadium, the University of Washington announced Thursday.

Jones, 75, attended Garfield High School and started his musical career in Seattle. Although he didn’t attend the UW, the university’s Board of Regents on Thursday voted to award him an honorary degree.

Jones’ background ranges from playing trumpet for the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in the 1950s to producing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the 1980s.

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UW’s commencement ceremony will be held June 14.

The announcement secures a headliner early for the UW, which last year scrambled after its hoped-for commencement speaker, former Vice President Al Gore, bowed out in late March because of a scheduling conflict.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, stepped in at the last minute.


Tunnels would add $1.8B to bridge plan

Adding a pair of tunnels in Montlake to the proposed six-lane Highway 520 replacement bridge would boost the project’s cost $1.8 billion, to $5.7 billion.

The state Department of Transportation released the estimate Thursday to an advisory group of neighborhood and government officials.

Some neighbors have asked for a “Parkway Plan” that would bury the highway through Foster Island to reduce noise and aerial columns; an exit tunnel would go beneath the Montlake Cut and emerge at Husky Stadium.

Group member Ron Judd, senior adviser to Gov. Christine Gregoire, said she intends to hold the 520 budget to around $3.9 billion as previously announced.

Judd said tunneling concepts deserve more study, to see if cheaper versions were possible.


UW regents agree on housing fees

The University of Washington Board of Regents voted Thursday to begin collecting money from student-housing fees to pay for an ambitious program of building new dorms and apartments.

UW housing officials have proposed an $850 million plan to build a series of new six-story dorm and apartment buildings and to renovate existing dorms.

Thursday’s vote doesn’t commit regents to specifics, but it does allow them to start building a bank account for the overall plan.

Students getting the basic room-and-board plan in the dorms will see an increase in rates of $246 per academic year, from $6,138 to $6,384 effective July 1. That increase includes both regular cost hikes and the new building fee.

Washington, D.C.

VA to build new clinic, Murray says

The federal Department of Veteran Affairs will build a new outpatient clinic in South Puget Sound, according to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“This announcement is a windfall for the many veterans who have sat in traffic, searched for transportation, or sacrificed their health concerns because of the lack of VA access in the area,” Murray said in a statement released Thursday.

The clinic will be built in Lewis or Thurston counties, and expects to have about 5,600 patients in its first year of operation. It will provide primary and mental-health care in its first year, and then evaluate the need for specialty services, Murray said.


Forbes ranks city second cleanest

The Seattle area has ranked second to Miami as the nation’s cleanest city of the year, according to Forbes magazine.

The 2008 rating is based on federal air-quality rankings, combined with drinking-water quality, how much each city spends per capita on garbage handling and recycling, and on the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites.

Weather patterns help keep Seattle’s air relatively clean, and it’s known for its clean drinking water piped from high in the Cascade Mountains. Seattle spent the most per person of any city on handling trash and recycling, according to Forbes. It also has a large Superfund site on its front porch, in the Duwamish River.

Other top cities, in order, were Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Portland; and San Francisco.


Ballard property sought for new park

The city of Seattle wants to buy property in Ballard to build a new neighborhood park at 7028 Ninth Ave. NW. Pro Parks Levy funds would be used to make the $3 million purchase, which requires City Council approval.

The park would be 39,000 square feet, and the city would apply for county and state grants to develop the park.

The parks department will hold a community meeting to discuss the purchase from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 27 at the Ballard Boys & Girls Club, 1767 N.W. 64th St.


Suspect in August slaying arrested

A Snohomish County man wanted by police in connection with an August slaying was arrested Wednesday night by Everett police.

Tsegazeab Zerahaimanot, 23, was walking in North Everett at 10:30 p.m. when he was spotted by officers, said police spokesman Robert Goetz. Zerahaimanot was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree murder.

Both Zerahaimanot and Steven Lee were arrested in connection with Forrest Starrett’s slaying Aug. 31. Starrett was found shot to death at the apartment complex in the 8700 block of Holly Drive.

Maple Valley

Driver dies after hitting elk

A 23-year-old Ravensdale man was killed Thursday after his car struck an elk on 276th Avenue Southeast near Maple Valley.

Ryan Kelly Meehan was driving a 1992 Ford Mustang southbound when he swerved to avoid hitting the elk near Southeast 236th Street at 2:30 a.m. King County sheriff’s deputies said the car hit the elk then crashed into two utility poles.

The female elk was killed. The King County Medical Examiner Office’s said Meehan died from head injuries.


Gregoire signs bill for more water

A bill that provides the largest new block of water to cities and farms in the Columbia Basin in three decades was signed Thursday by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

The bill will allow Lake Roosevelt to be drawn down an additional 82,500 acre-feet per year, and 132,000 acre-feet in drought years. The water will be split among cities, farms and for survival of endangered salmon.

The releases will lower lake levels no more than an additional 1.5 feet below present operations.

Seattle Times staff and news services

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