May 31, 2006

RESPONSE FROM YELM SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT

After forwarding my blog about the Yelm High School expansion to the YHS Principal Pete Diklich, I received this response from Yelm Schools Superintendent Dr. Alan Burke which I post here unabridged for the community to read and understand. Thanks to Dr. Burke for this thorough explanation for our community.

Steve–

Pete Diklich passed your email to me with questions about YHS construction. Thanks for your inquiry. Please feel free to post this on your blog site. What follows covers more that what you requested, but I believe contextual information is important when considering issues surrounding growth and school construction.

First, the school construction formula used by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is based upon “unhoused” students determined by a so-called cohort survival method. Basically, this means that when a school district requests matching funds from the state, officials at OSPI look at the cohort survival number for Yelm,
determine a number for unhoused students, and then calculate how much of the square footage in the proposed building will be matched by state monies. Roughly, the state now funds one-third of projects and local taxpayers pay two-thirds. For the YHS project the total costs of construction are approximately $31,000,000 of which just over $13,000,000 is paid by the state through the match.

The big problem is that the state formula really is much more aligned to a “let’s-count-who-is-here-today” concept than to a projected growth model. Consequently, growing communities like Yelm are always behind when it comes to housing students. For the YHS project, state match was determined in August of 2004, meaning that the funding formula was fixed before a shovel was turned on the construction site. Also, the state approved both Ridgeline Middle School and Yelm High School for matching monies, but only with cohort numbers for grades 7 – 9 and 10 – 12. Basically, this meant that we originally qualified for match on a 1270 student high school (the 1200 figure quoted in the newspaper was understated–my error), even though, when we open YHS this fall, the enrollment picture will be much different than it was in 2004. All of this explains why, in Washington, it is common for new schools to open with portable classrooms.

To counteract problems with inadequate state enrollment projections, and to prepare for future growth, we emphasized infrastructure and common spaces in the YHS project. The gyms, commons (lunchroom), and performing arts center are meant to accommodate up to 2000 students. We didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of 30 years ago when common spaces at the current YHS were built for 700 students and quickly became overcrowded when more and more students came to the school. In this project, we planned for fewer classrooms knowing that we can use our existing stock of portables to provide classroom space. We also have built portable pads that, for now, can be used to install more portables, and, in the future, can provide space to build a new, two-story classroom unit if and when a future bond is passed by taxpayers.

Assuming that current growth rates remain constant over the next three years, we should be able to accommodate student growth K-12 with our current facilities, current portables, and perhaps the purchase of more portables. (For your information, a double classroom portable unit typically costs approximately $100,000 installed. Most of the money for portable purchases comes from mitigation fees collected from developers, now $2650 per home.)

Certainly, assuming that Yelm keeps growing, we will need to ask the voters to approve a school construction bond sometime between 2009 and 2013. That request will come at the time that the school board decides that the pace of growth, the state calculation of unhoused students (and therefore the potential amount of state match money available), and overcrowded conditions create a situation where the community can and will support new taxes for new schools.

Alan Burke


May 27, 2006

Yelm High School Expansion Nears Completion

Yelm High School’s 2+ year construction project is nearing an end. Quoting the Nisqually Valley News, “Currently, Yelm High School holds about 1,500 students. The new high school has capacity for 1,200, and will house about 1,100 when it opens, because the freshman class will relocate to the two middle schools in Yelm.”
HMMM! Let’s do a little math here:
A. Yelm High School’s capacity is 1,200 students, the 9th grade is no longer located there and 1,100 students will enroll in Fall, 2006 from 10th, 11th & 12th grades. That leaves room to grow for only 100 students, if my math is correct.
B. The City of Yelm’s asst. city planner Tami Merriman previously stated in the Tacoma News Tribune that 600 new homes will be built in Yelm on top of the permitted 1,200 Tahoma Terra development within 5 years from 2005. That’s 1,800 new homes in the Yelm city limits only, which does not include new construction outside of the Yelm city limits or the Thurston Highlands project, if approved.

Observation: if just one-tenth of each of the 2,000+ new homes in Yelm and the surrounding area have just one high schooler, how is the Yelm High School going to handle 200+ new students by 2010?
More portables?
More property taxes?
More construction bonds?
More operational levies?
HMMM?

Please leave a comment if you have the answer.


May 27, 2006

MR GRAVES – COURT NOW RULES BLOGGERS SAME AS JOURNALISTS

Keven R. Graves, publisher/editor of the weekly Nisqually Valley News (NVN) stated in his April 28th editorial column
“a blog is not to be mistaken for true journalism, and any attempt to qualify a blog as shuch should quickly get those red flags flying and alarm bells ringing” as he “…stumbled across a blog the other day…” in response to his discovery of this writer’s new Yelm Community blog announced to the public 4 days prior to his byline.

This writer has received many emails, comments and calls expressing support following Mr. Graves’ “Publisher’s Corner” piece. Since he did not list the blog or blogger by name, only referring to me as Mr. Blogger, this caused his readers to do their own research as to what and whom Mr. Graves was referring, providing untold free advertising for this site.
To futher put Mr. Graves’ editorial in context, one of the country’s more respected newspapers the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting “In a decision that could set the tone for journalism in the digital age, a California appeals court ruled Friday [May 26] that bloggers, like traditional reporters, have the right to keep their sources confidential…The decision by the state Court of Appeal in San Jose, which reverses a ruling by the Santa Clara County Superior Court, speaks to changes in the way news is gathered and published. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can now be a reporter. It also means that information, not limited by region or resources, can reach far and wide via the Web. In their ruling, the judges said the online news sites should be treated as newspapers, television and radio broadcasts are. O’Grady and the other bloggers, they contended, were acting as traditional reporters and editors do: developing sources, collecting information and publishing it, albeit on the Web.”
Puget Sound’s Seattle Times also carried the Bloomberg News wire on this story as did other worldwide newspapers.

This writer never said a blogger was a journalist, rather the former Yelm Mayoral candidate following through with his campaign slogan “Giving You a Voice.” A blog is a fabulous vehicle for the community to air their views and by creating this blog, our community can see that “Giving You A Voice” was not just a slogan. Now, a court has ruled that bloggers should be treated the same as newspapers.

Mr. Blogger


May 24, 2006

YELM CITY COUNCIL HEARS PUBLIC ON PROPOSED LID

I just returned from the Yelm City Council Public Hearing for the Local Improvement District (LID) Proposal.
The LID (Local Improvement District) is to provide funding for access roads and road imrpovements to the Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highland complexes. While the developers would fund what is stated as 60-65% of the project, the balance would be raised through a tax assessment of properties contiguous to the roads under the premise their property values would increase, as well. Many property owners at tonight’s meeting were upset because they thought the developers had agreed to build access roads and Yelm Ave. West improvements themselves when the Thurston Highlands development was proposed to the City. Many expressed that they felt betrayed that the city would consider passing on 35-40% of the funding through an LID to local property owners, when they had understood the developers had already agreed to pay for road improvements as part of the development’s application.

This meeting filled Council Chambers.
Comments were opened by the Mayor at 7:37pm, closed at 8:54pm

The public comments fell into two camps:

Corporate interests vs. individual property owners

Giving testimony on the corporate interests’ side were representatives that were asked by Mayor Harding to testify first and in order as follows Thurston Highlands, Yelm Community Schools (Superintendent Al Burke), Thurston County Economic Development President Mike Edwards (see below) who reminded the audience that his ancestors settled Yelm over 150 years ago, and the Twin County Credit Union’s rep., all who stated these improvements will help Yelm with managed growth by packaging all of the improvements together.

Vs.

local property owners, all strongly opposed to the LID, stating that this project shifts too much of the expense for road upgrades to the local property owners. Many property owners said they wish no improvements to their frontage lots, but would have no choice if passed. One noted property owner voicing an eloquent statement opposed to the LID was Darlene Baker, sister-in-law to Yelm Councilman Joe Baker and co-owner with her husband Virgil of Sunrise Homes. Another citizen, one of our sweet seniors Gail Cane addressed the Council with information that in her research via the interent, learned an L. I. D. is nothing more than a wholesale transfer of funding local road projects from developers and towns to local citizens via a tax assessment. Council person Bob Isom interrupted Ms. Cane requesting the link and she replied that her limited time before Council would not be taken up addressing their questions – “no,” he could not interrupt her. That drew applause. This writer contacted Ms. Cane for the link and she told me LIDs are the same thing as Tax Increment Financing
Please read Ms. Cane’s discovery on the link highlighted above.

Mayor Harding stated, It makes much more sense to do this as one project than several.
The citys rep. Jim Gibson stated this LID would cost $19 million if done in separate sections, yet will cost $8.8 million done collectively.

Alan Burke said it would save the schools $500,000 [yeah, yet puts 35-40% of the burden onto the local neighbors; upgrades which around the Yelm High School had been previously agreed to be made by Yelm Schools as part of the Yelm High School expansion and had nothing to do with Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highlands developers’ plans. So, Mr. Gibson is saying take all of the proposed upgrades to Yelm Ave. West and do them as one project and save money. That’s fine, just not via an LID which would transfer the burden of funding onto road-contiguous owners ].

Legal counsel for the City stated that interested parties have 30 days to write letters to the City Council on this subject. She continued that although public comments are recorded, a written letter to City Hall will make a difference. The city’s Legal Counsel said property owners can defer payment of the assessment, however there would be interest incurred which would have to be paid upon the sale of any property. One man stood and said he was on a limited income and the assessment plus interest would force him to lose his home.

Steve Klein (this writer) pointed out that within 5 years the city would have to come back and rip out all of the improvements in this LID as the city will have to 5 lane Yelm Ave. West, that this already happened with 5 Corners when that intersection had to be widened 18 months after it was upgraded. Mr. Klein pointed out to the audience that the FORS were all corporate interests and the AGAINSTS were “Yelm’s Little People”, the local home owners and asked everyone to notice that fact. Jim Gibson replied that with the Loop built, Yelm Ave. West should handle the traffic just fine with three lanes. Klein reminded him that Rep. Tom Campbell sat in that very same chair a few weeks earlier stating the Loop funding was such that construction would not begin prior to 2011 with opening in 2016 and asked about Yelm Ave. West traffic until then. Mayor Harding jumped in and said the city has to start somewhere and how do we handle the traffic passing through town. Mr Klein stated that a center turn lane in the afternoons from the west into town or east out of town will not help the flow, that there is no increase in actual road capacity and school traffic is gone by 3pm, and most of the traffic is between 7-8am & 3-6pm. Mr. Klein suggested the council ride in traffic from the Red Wind Casino to Yelm about 5pm on Thursday or Friday. Klein noted that a center turn lane, lights and improvements on Yelm Ave. East has done little to ease the traffic congestion as traffic backs up for blocks at 5 Corners every afternoon now. Then, Mr. Harding bristled and said he has lived here all of his life, he knows about the traffic. Mr. Klein was about to offer some suggestions (like one-way streets mentioned by him in January and by a local resident tonight), when Councilwoman Fetterly cut him off and said she wanted to hear no arguments.

Mike Edwards then spoke again reminding everyone that the Federal funding for the Loop would not be present if local municipalities do not handle their local traffic properly themselves and this LID assists Yelm in that venture.

Then Mr. Harding stated that although he does not vote, he strongly supports the LID and encourages the council to take action now and vote for approval. [Ed. Note: This is the same man that stood so firmly behind the flag of Washingtons Appearance of Fairness Doctrine last year during the Wal-Mart debate as Mayor Pro-Tem. His definite stand for this LID against his own constituents and attempt at swaying the City Council was noted in stark contrast to his behavior when a corporate entity like Wal-Mart was before the Council here last year and he so vigorously upheld Wal-Marts rights for fair and unbiased treatment].

Mr. Isom interrupted Mr. Harding and immediately motioned to table the action on the LID until the next City Council Meeting and asked the City Staff for some more numbers to be presented to Council. Mr. Baker seconded the motion. It carried.

The public left this meeting shaking their heads in disgust.

As an aside,
Mike Edwards is President & Chief Executive Officer of Thurston First Bank of Olympia
and served as the supervisor of banking for the State of Washington and as an advisor to Chairman Alan Greenspan and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington D.C. He also served as Chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (a national organization of state banking supervisors) in Washington D.C. Mike has served as president of three community banks in Washington State: Prairie Security Bank in Yelm, which he started, Hood Canal State Bank and First Community Bank. Mike is president of the Economic Development Council of Thurston County and has served on the board for the last 15 years. [Ed. Note: Prairie Security Bank was acquired by the former First Community Bank now known as Venture Bank.]


May 24, 2006

WOULD YELM CITY COUNCIL EVER VOTE FOR THIS?

A San Francisco suburb voted Tuesday night [May 23] to use the power of eminent domain to keep Wal-Mart Stores Inc. off a piece of city land after hearing from dozens of residents who accused the big-box retailer of engaging in scare tactics to force its way into the bedroom community. The overflow crowd that packed into the tiny Hercules City Hall cheered after the five-person City Council voted unanimously to use the unusual tactic to seize the 17 acres where Wal-Mart intended to build a shopping complex, quoting the AP.
And this report filed by the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Yelm, WA City Council as is presently composed along with Yelms City Planners are not of the mindset to do something this bold. Their actions have been slam-dunk FOR development and unabashed growth, with little consideration for their constituents along with limiting what their people say. That is a fact! Hence the 2006 Jefferson Muzzle Award.


May 22, 2006

WATER, WATER, WATER

“Residents [Lacey, WA.] might not be able to water their lawns anytime they want this summer. City leaders could impose restrictions as the city faces another summer without the ability to pump more water from the ground. Under a proposal, utility customers would be asked or required to water on specific days, depending on whether they live at an odd- or even-numbered address. For example, watering at odd-numbered addresses could be restricted to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The City Council will consider the proposal during a work session tonight [May 18]. It will decide whether odd-even watering would be voluntary or required. The citys staff have recommended that it be required. If approved, odd-even watering would run from June 1 to Sept. 30,” quoting The Olympian.
[Ed. Note: Will Yelm be far behind its neighbor 16 miles to the northwest with 1,800 new homes to be built in the next 5 years?]
And this from May 19th from Seattle’s ABC affiliate KOMO-TV4:
“The city of Lacey plans to regulate when residents can water their lawns this summer. The city council will consider an “odd-even” watering day system at its May 25 meeting.City officials say alternating days will help keep the demand for water from exceeding the supply. The city has nearly halted its growth because of a limited water supply.”
From the March 20, 2006 Olympian:
“Demand for water in South Sound could exceed the usable supply in as little as five years, according to one consultants report. Such predictions have led some water experts to call for Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County to pool water resources and manage them cooperatively.
‘Theres not going to be enough water if its managed unilaterally by the individual cities,’ predicted Bob Wubbena, vice president of HDR Engineering Inc. and a consultant to the Thurston Public Utility District. Theres not going to be enough water if its managed unilaterally by the individual cities, predicted Bob Wubbena, vice president of HDR Engineering Inc. and a consultant to the Thurston Public Utility District. ‘We need a coordinated alliance of jurisdictions to manage water.’ But at least three things stand in the way of any regional water alliance: the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. The three cities operate separate water systems, have separate rates and policies and submit applications individually for additional water rights to supply a growing population. Under state law, water is owned by the public.”

Yelm should take heed as this issue is looming on the horizon here, as well.


May 17, 2006

THURSTON HIGHLANDS OPEN HOUSE

There will be a second OPEN HOUSE, Thursday, May 18, 2006, from 5:00 8:00 p.m. at the Yelm Middle School where you can learn about the proposal and provide comments on the draft scope of the upcoming Environmental Impact Statement.
All application materials may be viewed at the City of Yelms web site.

I would like to see a crowd out for this Open House. Everyone needs to get up to speed on this project and ask some knowledgeable and penetrating questions.


May 14, 2006

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms


Anna Jarvis, Creator of Mother’s Day,
first celebrated in 1912.
Photo credit: Bettmann/Corbis

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

1. From Wikipedia:
“The modern Mother’s Day holiday was created by Anna Jarvis as a day for each family to honor its mother, and it’s now celebrated on various days in many places around the world. It complements Father’s Day, the celebration honoring fathers.

This holiday is relatively modern, being created at the start of the 20th century, and should not be confused with the early pagan and Christian traditions honoring mothers, or with the 16th century celebration of Mothering Sunday, which is also known as Mother’s Day in the UK.

In most countries the Mother’s Day celebration is a recent holiday derived from the original US celebration…

In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.

“She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”[1]

This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in the law making official the holiday in the U.S. [May 9, 1914], by the U.S. Congress on bills, and by other U.S. presidents on their declarations.”


2. From Women’s Rights.Change:
“From Physicians for Social Responsibility:

Julia Ward Howe proposed the idea of Mothers Day for Peace over a century ago. Howes Mothers Day Proclamation in 1870 was a call for disarmament and for women to come together to seek diplomatic ways to settle disagreements amongst nations.

Today, Physicians for Social Responsibility carries on this work by seeking an end to the use and spread of nuclear weapons, working to end global warming, and stopping the toxic degradation of the environment. We encourage you to share the story of Mothers Day with your mother and other family members and friends.”

Mother’s Day Proclamation 1870
By Julia Ward Howe.


May 4, 2006

PERCEPTION – A LINK IS NOT JUST A LINK

Dear Readers,

Consciousness and energy create the nature of reality in one’s life, meaning that putting energy behind whatever you think will have that thought happen in your life. So, during the last week while I have been contemplating the local newspaper (NVN) devoting a full column attempting to make Yelm’s first blog irrelevant, I brought forth to me a magazine with several pertinent stories about blogs and newspapers that I would like to share with you.

Mr. Graves states “a blog is not to be mistaken for true journalism.” No one ever stated a blog WAS true journalism, rather individuals exercising their rights of free speech in an open exchange via the modern Town Hall- the internet! A Blogger now covers White House Press briefings: “…a young man stepped into the White House briefing room Monday [March 6] as perhaps the first blogger to cover the daily press briefings…Garrett M. Graff, 23, writes Fishbowl D.C., a Web log about the news media in Washington. He decided to see if he could get a daily pass for a briefing after a recent controversy raised questions about White House access and who is a legitimate reporter…McClellan [White House Press Secretary] said Graff was believed to be the first blogger to be credentialed to attend his morning press gathering and his televised briefing later in the day…Graff is the son of Christopher Graff, correspondent for The Associated Press in Montpelier, Vt.,” quoting the AP. [Ed. Note: Even this suppressive White House acknowledges the impact of blogs on the landscape of free speech.]

The Economist published a timely article in its Apr. 22-26 edition about the troubles at The New York Times saying:
“NEWSPAPERS are faring badly in America. Their circulations are falling as the young get their news from the internet, and they are losing their share of advertising, especially classified ads. Last year shareholders in the second-biggest, Knight Ridder, forced the firm to sell itself.” [Ed. Note: Local groceries no longer advertise with the local newspaper, as previously mentioned by the NVN publisher/editor in his column, bulk-mailing their own sections instead.]

Yelm’s local newspaper says “A link is just a link” responding to my comments about one local developer being the only one allowed to have a link on the NVN homepage. The local newspaper editor stated in his November 18th, 2005 post-mayoral election column “Perceptions are a mighty thing, sometimes more powerful than the truth.” This writer agrees with Mr. Graves which is exactly why I questioned the Thurston Highlands developers’ own link on the NVN site, especially when they have a pending application before the city. So, in the context of perception, “A link is NOT just a link.”

Further, from the same edition of The Economist, “WE CHANGED South Korean politics and the media market, but I’m too shy to say that,” says Oh Yeon Ho before he can catch his own irony. But Mr Oh, the founder and boss of Ohmy News, a sort of online newspaper, has earned the right to boast, because Ohmy is the world’s most successful example to date of citizen journalism in action.” [Ed. Note: Just another example about how blogs are affecting the world, through citizen-journalism right down to the local level.]

We will be on holiday for a couple of weeks…
Steve Klein


May 2, 2006

YELM JOBS

City of Yelm Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom shared with the collective at Rep. Tom Campbell’s Open House on Saturday, April 29, 2006 in Yelm that Amtech Corp. was leaving Yelm because of plant consolidation and not because of the encroachment of residential homes, as reported in the Nisqually Valley News. In this writer’s listening, I heard Mr. Isom to say the environmentalists are thrilled about the impending plant closure, yet are not concerned with the loss to Yelm of those 50 jobs [Ed. Note: Mr. Isom, you and your fellow city council members touted the 400 jobs created with a proposed Yelm Wal-Mart last year. With their permit now paid, Wal-Mart will be placing local ads for new hires by year-end and the non-relocated Amtech employees can apply there for jobs. Wal-Mart will not match the pay or benefits of Amtech, yet there will be an option according to the city]. Yes, the loss of jobs is serious, yet the constant pollution of the air has been far worse and could have greater lasting impact for generations on the health of our fellow citizens who live downwind.
Additionally, with the closure of Amtech, the City of Yelm is left with an empty industrial area as defined in the Yelm Vision Plan, except for an unmaintained rail spur the city purchased to entice light industry here. With gas at $3 a gallon, Yelm is too distant a freeway or rail connection to be of interest to any manufacturing concern requiring rail or truck service. Access to the city is even more challenging to any prospective company because of continued growth by city officials with no road capacity increase within the Yelm urban core on already-clogged highways 510 or 507, main arteries to I-5, IMHO.


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