News Briefs | April 18 edition

Housing nonprofit receives grant, New slander trial begins for islander Amanda Knox, and more.

Housing nonprofit receives grant

Vashon Household was awarded nearly $400,000 for the Charter House apartment building this month from the state Department of Commerce as part of a new round of grant funding for preserving affordable housing.

The island housing agency was one of nine projects in King County which received an award. A total of $19.9 million was awarded to 31 agencies around the state for making major repairs or replacements at properties owned by housing trust funds, such as Vashon Household, according to the state.

Vashon Household earned about $397,000 for the project.

The money will go toward rehabilitating the nine-unit, two-story Charter House apartment building, located on 96th Place SW near Vashon town. It will pay for interior items such as electrical and plumbing fixes, heating and circulation, floor replacements and replacing the building’s mail kiosk, Vashon HouseHold president Jason Johnson said in an email.

Charter House was originally built in 1973. Vashon HouseHold bought and rehabilitated the building in 1996, preserving it as housing for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

This is the second phase of funding the nonprofit has received from Commerce’s Affordable Housing Preservation Program. A roughly $863,000 award from the program in 2022 enabled the first phase of Vashon HouseHold’s work, which primarily improved the building’s exterior, Johnson said — including a new roof, insulation, gutters, stairs and walkways, a fresh coat of paint, and other work.

The first phase of work should be complete by June, Johnson said, and the second phase is estimated to be conducted between July and December.

Islander sentenced

Island resident Luciano Alvarado-Fuentes was sentenced April 5 for his conviction of fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, to which he pleaded guilty a month earlier on March 5.

Both prosecutors and Alvarado-Fuentes’ attorneys agreed to a sentence of 364 days in jail, with that time suspended for a 24-month unsupervised probation period. In other words, Alvarado-Fuentes would avoid serving jail time as long as he does not violate the terms of his probation — which includes having no contact with the victim.

The victim was supportive of this resolution to the case, according to the prosecutor’s office.

New slander trial begins for islander Amanda Knox

Vashon Island resident Amanda Knox was back on trial last week in Italy for slander, facing the final legal conviction remaining against her after years of legal battles to exonerate herself from charges related to the 2007 murder of her roommate during a study abroad trip in Italy, the Associated Press reports.

Knox’ murder conviction was thrown out in 2015, after a more than seven year legal battle, but one part of Knox’s conviction remained: The court upheld a conviction of slander against her for wrongfully implicating Patrick Lumumba, a bar owner, of the murder while Knox was interrogated by police.

But Knox was coerced into signing statements implicating Lumumba while under police duress, and without access to legal counsel or an interpreter, she said.

Now, thanks to this new trial over the conviction, she has an opportunity to clear her name of this last legal conviction against her.

Knox has lived on the island with her husband, Chris Robinson, since 2019.

Strawberry Festival

Vashon’s biggest celebration of the year hits the island this summer on July 19 to July 21.

Vashon’s Strawberry Festival has been held yearly for more than a century, showcasing local skills, creativity, and island-centric celebration over the course of an always-unforgettable July weekend.

Around 25,000 visitors are expected over Festival weekend this year, according to the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event.

All applications for vendor space at Festival are due to the Chamber of Commerce no later than May 1, and the application period may close even earlier if vendor space sells out. Interested parties can apply at