The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission yesterday approved a settlement with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) over a Bellevue natural-gas explosion last year that killed a woman.

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The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission yesterday approved a settlement with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) over a Bellevue natural-gas explosion last year that killed a woman.

PSE agreed in August to pay the state $90,000 and undergo a large-scale review of its steel gas lines as part of the settlement, but the commission had to approve the deal. The $90,000 is a fine, and not just reimbursement of consultant fees, as PSE earlier agreed on.

According to the settlement, long-term corrosion caused a leak that spread gas in the home of Frances Schmitz last September. The gas ignited, and Schmitz was critically burned in the explosion. She died three weeks later.

PSE was fined because of a miswired electrical device designed to protect Schmitz’s gas line from corrosion. According to the settlement, the device was miswired temporarily and had “little or no bearing” on the gas leak. The company also will change the way it maintains its corrosion-protection system.


Girl Scout troops to clean river banks

Eastside Girl Scout troops will be cleaning up the banks of the Sammamish River from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in Redmond.

The cleanup is part of the eighth annual Save Our Waves community-service campaign by the Totem Girl Scout Council. Thousands of scouts will clean up litter, dig up non-native weeds and plant trees to enhance local waterways.

Scouts will work along the Sammamish River in Bothell Oct. 15, along Canyon Creek in Fall City and on the Mountains to Sound Greenway in Snoqualmie Oct. 29, in Renton Nov. 5 and Dec. 3, and in Carnation Nov. 19.

For more information about Girl Scouts or the Save Our Waves campaign, call 800-767-6845 or go to

Mercer Island

Council hopefuls set for public forum

Candidates for Mercer Island City Council positions on the Nov. 8 general-election ballot are scheduled to participate in a public forum Tuesday.

The forum will be moderated by KIRO radio host Dave Ross. All six candidates vying for the three positions are expected to attend, as well as the two unopposed candidates for the school board.

The main topics of discussion are expected to include access for island residents to the Interstate 90 HOV lanes and the future of Luther Burbank Park as well as other island parks and green spaces.

The forum will be held in the Islander Middle School lunchroom from 7-9 p.m., with coffee and cookies available. Time will be allowed for questions from the audience.

The forum is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Mercer Island Reporter. The school is at 8225 S.E. 72nd St.


Neighborhoods plan candidates forum

The Bellecrest, Surrey Downs and Somerset neighborhood associations are holding a City Council candidates forum next week.

The forum starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 11511 Main St.

Two council positions are being contested in the general election: Mayor Connie Marshall, the Position 4 incumbent, faces John Albertson; and incumbent Conrad Lee faces Vicki Orrico for Position 2.


Miller appointed to board of trustees

Steve Miller, a former president of the Bellevue School Board, has been appointed as a member of the Bellevue Community College board of trustees.

Miller started the job Oct. 1 after being appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire and will serve a five-year term.

Miller was co-chair of the successful campaign in 2000 for Initiative 728, designed to reduce class sizes. He is an immigration lawyer and a former prosecutor and deputy planning director for King County.

Miller replaces Jim Dagnon, who retired from the BCC board.