January 30, 2015

Heck chosen to lead Dems 2016 candidates search

"U.S. Rep. Denny Heck - with his wife Paula by his side - thanks supporters during an election night gathering at the Water Street Cafe in Olympia on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014." [Thurston Democrats Chair Roger Erskine is on the right].
Photo credit: Tony Overman, The Olympian.

From Rob Hotakainen, The Olympian:
"The new Congress is not even one month old, but Washington state Democratic Rep. Denny Heck is already looking ahead to the next session, making plans aimed at reviving his party in the 2016 elections.

After taking a beating in 2014, Democrats in the House of Representatives have tapped Heck to lead their 25-member recruitment committee for next year.

It’s a big assignment for Heck, 62, a second-term congressman from Olympia."
Read more


From Rep. Denny Heck's constituent newsletter:
"Right before the holidays arrived, President Obama signed into law the Senate version of my bill, the Stability for Servicemembers Act. This new law extends mortgage foreclosure and eviction protections for servicemembers, halting foreclosures for a one-year period after active duty ends to allow for enough time to for veterans to get their financial affairs in order.

Read more

January 29, 2015

Superbowl XLIX on the bigscreen in Yelm

"Doors open at 12 noon. You requested it..so you got it!"

- "Grannies Got Game"
From the Ice Chips Candy founders for last year's SuperBowl.
Click here for their video.

January 28, 2015

Thurston County Jail deal reached to open facility!

From Amelia Dickson, The Olympian:
"The Accountability and Restitution Center will soon be empty no more. Thurston County commissioners and Sheriff John Snaza reached an agreement to move into the new jail at a Wednesday afternoon meeting.

Commissioners Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero met with the sheriff alone. New Commissioner Bud Blake was unable to attend. But a member of Blake’s staff said he was happy with the agreement, too.

The parties will officially sign a letter of intent to move into the facility at a Friday event, but the elected officials all said they’ve made their decision.

'I’m looking forward to all of our years of planning finally going into action,' Snaza said. 'This is going to be huge.'

The move to the ARC really has been in planning stages for years. Construction on the new jail wrapped up in 2010. But despite multiple attempts to move in, the building has been sitting empty because of budget woes and disagreements.

'I’m wondering what it’s going to feel like to serve our citizens without having this over our heads,' Romero said."
Read more

Click here
for more info on the Thurston County Accountability and Restitution Center.

Two new Yelm businesses in the works

- Twister II Donuts
If approved, will open in the former Check Cashing Store adjacent Taco Gaby.
Read more here from the City of Yelm.

This store will supplement their current Twister Donuts Olympia location.
Read more

- The Cattleman's Restaurant
Under new management in the former Bunkhouse location on the west side of Yelm.
Their sign says they will open soon, with new owners and lower prices.

Introducing the South Sound Seed Coalition

- From the website:
"The SOUTH SOUND SEED COALITION, [is] a partnership between the Olympia Seed Exchange, South Sound Seed Stewards (S4) and Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center. We are combining forces to create a more powerful seed and farming resource for the South Puget Sound.

In 2015 the Coalition will sponsor training sessions, garden tours, seed exchanges, and field trips to assist the home gardener and local farmer in expanding their knowledge regarding the importance and specifics of seed saving.

Community members can join us for the trainings to become a Certified Seed Saver."
Read more

- From Lois Willman, VP of South Sound Seed Stewards (S4):
"We are thrilled to announce this collaboration in an effort to expand the educational and practical skills in the area of seed preservation. The South Sound Seed Stewards organization, which was founded 21 years ago, sees this as another step forward in community independence and self-reliance by producing and sharing locally adapted, open-pollinated seeds.

When one considers our current environmental and geopolitical climate, we believe it is now more important than ever to provide the home gardener with the educational resources necessary for sustainable gardening—not just how to grow, but how to select, harvest and preserve seeds for the future."

January 27, 2015

On the City Council agenda tonight

Public Safety Building housing Council Chambers, Yelm

The Yelm City Council will vote on these two issues tonight:

- Planning Commission Appointments
"Confirm Mayor Harding’s re-appointment of John Thomson and Anne Wahrmund and the appointment of
Jerry Fugich to fill an expired position and Wayne Potter to fill a vacated position on the City of Yelm Planning Commission.

The Department received seven applications. Two applications were from current Planning Commission members John Thomson and Anne Wahrmund. Both current members have been valuable members of the Commission. The five additional applications were from Wayne Potter, Jerry Fugich, Charles Vela, Preston Collins and Dale Shirley," quoting the City Staff Report.

- Historic Preservation Commission re-appointments
"The City Council should confirm Mayor Harding’s re-appointment of Edward Blake and Claire Doyle to the Historic Preservation Commission," quoting the City Staff Report.
Editor's Note: No other applications were received for these two posts.

January 26, 2015

Record high temperature broken for this date

Olympia Regional Airport noted a record high temperature for any January 26th of 63 degrees. The high temperature forecast for tomorrow is 10 degrees cooler.
Read more

SPSCC President Stokes spoke in Yelm today!

Dr. Timothy Stokes, President
Photo courtesy: SPSCC

Commissioner Sandra Romero's guest at her monthly Yelm coffee chat today was Dr. Timothy Stokes, President of South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). She introduced him as having assumed the post Feb. 1, 2013, coming there from the Executive VP for Academic and Student Affairs at Tacoma Community College. Prior to his tenure at Tacoma, Stokes served as vice president for Student Learning at Texas State Technical College and executive director of the Southwest Arkansas Technology Learning Center at Henderson State University. He holds a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arkansas, a M.A. in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Arkansas, and a B.A. in English from Lyon College.

The audience was comprised of a an unusually larger group for one of these monthly chats, and from a cross-section of our community, who after his very informative presentation, engaged Dr. Stokes in a wide-ranging and robust Q & A session.

Key facts Dr. Stokes presented:
- 14,000 unique students enrolled,
- 50% of students attend to obtain credits or a degree to transfer to a 4-year school,
- In-State tuition and Fees = $4,470 per year,
- Thurston County high schools have a graduation rate of 83%, which is very good,
- 40% of students attend to acquire skills to go directly into the workforce,
- When he came aboard in early 2013, 400-450 students were returning Vets, over 950 now, and highlighted the Veteran's Center on the Lacey Campus,
- The Advanced Manufacturing Program on the Lacey Campus has a model 3-d printing center with $1.4 million invested in equipment, making this a competitive resource for Boeing and other companies looking for skilled talent in the South Sound,
- SPSCC made an error 5 years ago in not investing resources in sustainable agriculture, so is working to become a leading in this field of study,
- The Corporate Training Center is one of the few in the country,
- Students received a reboot to their careers and a restart in employment by attending SPSCC after downsizing when the 2008 recession hit.
- SPSCC interfaces students with Thurston County's Diamond Technology Innovations (DTI), as an example.

I asked about his school's greatest challenge.
His response was reduced appropriations from the state to higher education is the number one issue, that the federal dollars keep coming, however the state Constitution mandates funding K-12, not higher education, which means SPSCC gets reduced state dollars in lean budgetary years.

I also asked about a the potential of Yelm classes.
He said that 3 years ago, there were 40 students from Yelm now there are 200. With 500 students, that would sustain a satellite campus here, which would also draw students from SW Pierce County. He said he spoke with Mayor Harding who said a new classroom annex building could be constructed adjacent the new community center, connected by a breezeway, as Harding told him he always envisioned. Mr. Harding told Dr. Stokes the original plan for classrooms in the Yelm Community Center was removed [when the center was voted down twice on ballot measures, and the square footage was reduced to a third of the original 10,000 sq feet]. Harding suggested Dr. Stokes request funding in Yelm from the state legislators, which he indicated he has done.
Read more

- The Thurston County Chamber of Commerce VOICE Magazine featured Dr. Stokes, Summer 2013.
Be sure to checkout his vision for SPSCC!
Read more

JBLM cuts ARE coming, no matter the posturing!
Crisis calls for Mayor to lead a Forum!

"Mayor Ron Harding voices his concerns [Jan. 21] to Army leadership about potential force reductions at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. At left is Yelm City Councilor JW Foster." Photo credit: Steven Wyble, Nisqually Valley News

An Editorial
- "Local Leaders Express Concern Over JBLM Cuts"
"Military Base Could Lose 11,000 Servicemembers and Civilians in 2015"
From Nisqually Valley News.

While Mayor Ron Harding, Councilor JW Foster an other officials pleaded to save JBLM positions, they missed the point - the cutbacks ARE coming, so they'd best get their jurisdictions and budgets prepared.

- Adam Ashton "nailed it" in his Tacoma News Tribune story:
"Congress has not stopped a plan that could result in the loss of up to 11,000 soldiers and civilians at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, on top of 5,000 already gone. It’s a part of steep drawdown in the size of the active-duty Army that could slash as many as 90,000 more soldiers from today’s force of 510,000 active-duty troops around the world."

"The broad cuts to Army personnel, though unpopular in military communities like the South Sound, represent the 'path of least resistance' for a Congress that wants post-war defense savings but won’t commit to reducing any specific military program, said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

It’s easier to allow general cuts to the size of the Army than it is for lawmakers to condone distinct programs being canceled in their home districts, Smith said.

'Since Congress is not allowing those things to happen, then the Army’s got do to what it’s got to do,' said Smith, who voted against the 2011 budget compromise that set the stage for the Army force reductions."
Read more

- Recommendation
Society can't have it both ways - the country cannot tout less military spending and not have cuts.
Our town's leaders need to diversify and change their former ways of doing business.
This area has grown even amidst a recession due to the huge influx of troops transferred here 10+ years ago when California bases were closed.

- The Yelm area is going to take an economic hit, like it or not.
Yelm has been too dependent too long on attracting military families here and has not diversified, an issue this blog has addressed publicly for almost 10 years.
The sugar-plum fairies dancing in the heads of city officials from property sales tax and annual real estate taxes was what fueled this city's growth, all with little foresight or implementation of sustainable and slower growth models expounded publicly to the City Council by many.

- This coming crisis calls for a community wide Forum
The time has come for Mayor Harding to convene the community to engage a conversation about the future,
as any leader of vision would do for their people.

The time has come for the city to be a partner in private/public partnerships to diversify the economics of this area. So many leaders in their fields have been in Yelm and quoted in the newspaper recently. Their experience and expertise should be tapped:

- " Collaboration Is the Model of Yelm Chamber’s New Director"
"Casey Cochrane Brings 25 Years of Community, Government Relations Experience to Position"

"'I think it’s important that tourism and attraction of people to our area is a regional priority and that we work in concert with other organizations here in Thurston as well as Pierce and Lewis counties,' Cochrane said."
Read more

- "Yelm Business Association Holds Second General Meeting"
Yelm Business Association Executive Director Dan Crowe of Crowe Law notes members' work groups, saying "the YBA has more of an advocacy position where the chamber has more of a marketing and networking position.
Read more from the NVN.

- "Regional Tourism Expert Spoke at Joint Chamber/Yelm Business Association Meeting"
"You can’t really do economic development if you don’t have strong public/private relationships. You can try to do that (create a business culture) alone with the private sector, which we do, but you really can’t do it effectively unless you have jurisdictions and partners really working together well to create a culture that is really strong for private sector business to thrive," Thurston County Economic Development Council Deputy Director Renee Sundee.
Read more from the NVN.

- Olympia tourism official George Sharp recently spoke in Yelm
Gave 15 points on "How to attract and keep Visitors in Your Yelm Business and Community"
Read more

- Bottom line
The Nisqually Valley News question of the week of January 16th asked:
"What is the biggest difference noticed in the past 5-10 years?"
Most of all of the responses had to do with unbridled growth.

Yelm citizen Brian Hess penned a thoughtful Letter to the Editor:
"Which Direction Are the Leaders of This Community Taking Us?"
"When was the last time that the city leaders reached out to the residents of Yelm with an open and honest discussion about what is going on."



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