FEMA helps with COVID-related funeral expenses

FEMA  is now accepting applications for Funeral Assistance.

A new program will reimburse families for certain COVID-19-related funeral and burial expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Families are eligible for up to $9,000 for qualified expenses such as caskets, urns, ceremony arrangements, cremation or interment costs, burial plots, cremation niches and headstones.

FEMA only accepts applications via a dedicated Funeral Assistance Call Center at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585), 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Only those with COVID funeral or cemetery expenses are eligible to apply.

Fraud Alert: Scammers have reportedly called or emailed register people for funeral assistance. FEMA does not send notifications and nor contact people prior to them registering for assistance.

If you doubt a contact is legitimate, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.

Clearing of North Cascades Highway begins

The state Department of Transportation has started clearing 7 feet of snow from Highway 20 over the North Cascades.

If all goes as planned — and Mother Nature cooperates — the 37 miles of snow-covered highway leading from the Skagit Valley to the Methow Valley should be cleared in four to six weeks.

A year ago, the highway was reopened on May 12 while in 2019 the gates swung open April 18. The earliest opening was March 10, 2005. 

Weekly unemployment initial claims mixed

From March 21-27, there were 11,445 initial regular unemployment claims, up 0.5% from the prior week. In total, there were 430,077 total jobless claims, down 1.3% from the prior week, according to the Employment Security Department.

Initial regular claims are 94% below those during the same period last year at the start of the pandemic, according to the ESD.

In Snohomish County, initial regular claims decreased from 1,206 to 1,163, down 3.6% from the prior week. In Island County, those claims decreased from 74 to 73, down 1.4% from the prior week.

Free State Parks day in April

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to enjoy a free day at state parks this month — Thursday, April 22, Earth Day. On free days, visitors do not need a Discover Pass for day-use parking.

IRS extends additional tax deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service announced that individuals have until May 17 to meet certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15, such as making IRA contributions and filing certain claims for a refund.

The IRS also announced that it will take steps to automatically refund money this spring and summer to people who filed tax returns reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan.

New tourism guide launched

Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism announced the launch of the “Discover Your Islands” guide to support small, locally owned businesses. Visitors and locals find trip inspiration for adventures close to home, ways to support local retailers and a long list of where to dine. The guide is available online, and a print publication will be mailed to Island County residents April 5-7.

Snohomish County among healthiest in Washington

After dropping to seventh in 2020, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has named Snohomish County the sixth healthiest county in Washington for its 2021 County Health Rankings. The annual rankings were released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The rankings are intended to be a snapshot of multiple factors that affect health.

People

Local students win art contest

More than 300 people voted for their favorites in the Snohomish Conservation District's fourth Annual Youth Art Contest. In the grades one-two category, Lucy Boots won first place and Aaralyn Grant took second. Both are from Stanwood.

Pets

Meet Janis at CASA

Janis is a sweet senior girl who has a warm personality and will gladly sit and snuggle on a lap. She's quiet and spends most of her time taking naps. She does well with other cats, but it is unknown how she gets along with dogs.

Appointments: 360-387-1902

Meetings

Island County Commissioners

Island County Commissioners meet on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Information: islandcountywa.gov/commissioners

Stanwood-Camano School Board

The Stanwood-Camano School Board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 8, via Zoom. Information: stanwood.wednet.edu

Stanwood City Council

The City Council meets at 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 8, on Zoom for a workshop to discuss the proposed Civic Campus. The regular council meeting then starts at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Information: stanwoodwa.org

Stanwood Planning Commission

The city’s Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 12, on Zoom. Information: stanwoodwa.org.

Camano Island Fire & Rescue Board of Commissioners

Camano Island Fire and Rescue will hold its April 12 Fire Commissioner Board Meeting at 4:30 p.m. at Fire Station 4 (Vista/Madrona), 273 N. West Camano Dr., Camano Island. Information: camanofire.com

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