November 30, 2009

FORZA COFFEE COMPANY PAYS TRIBUTE TO FALLEN OFFICERS

“The entire Forza team of owners, employees, families and vendors wishes to pass along deep compassion and loss for the four Lakewood Police officers who lost their lives this morning. The cold-blooded ambush that took place at the Steele Street Forza Coffee House in Parkland, WA at 8:15 a.m. today [Sunday, November 29].

‘As a retired police officer,’ said Brad Carpenter, Chief Executive Officer of Forza Coffee, ‘this senseless shooting hits extremely close to home to me. These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and this crime cuts deep into the heart of the entire Forza family.’

Having impacted Forza at a corporate and local level, immediate action will be taken to establish a donation area at each coffee house.

‘It is Forzas goal to help the families of those who lost their lives during this difficult holiday season, and into the new year as they struggle to reconstruct their lives in the year ahead,’ said Rich Jennings, Forza owner.

Our prayers go out to the family and friends of these officers in the face of this horrific tragedy,” quoting Forza Coffee’s website.

CLICK HERE to donate.


November 30, 2009

THE OLYMPIAN: “PERMIT PROCESS GONE AWRY CREATES NIGHTMARES IN YELM”

Quoting The Olympian of Sunday, November 29th:
Permit process gone awry creates nightmare in Yelm
Land Use: New house empty as pair try to get it back on track

“The house sits empty. More than seven months since its completion, the Smiths cant move in.

They are caught in a land-use process gone awry.

The city issued a building permit for the home despite a development condition that prohibited it. Now, to uphold a second condition, the city refuses to issue an occupancy permit to the Smiths.

The developer was unable to install required improvements because of the U.S. financial meltdown, although both city and builder were assuming the improvements were moving forward when the building permit was requested and issued.

The builder, who was involved in the early stages of the land-use process, acknowledged he could have done more to head off the crisis if he had better information. The city said he had the information and bears blame for the resulting mess.

‘In hindsight, everybody can share in some of the fault here,’ said Dan Lee, the builder.

Its a cautionary tale for homeowners dipping their toe in a housing market remade by the economic crisis.

Its no clearer today than it was in April as to when the Smiths, experienced home buyers who have owned three homes previously, will be able to move in. Theyve spent tens of thousands of dollars in their efforts to do so, but the possible solution on the table likely requires them to spend more money and excuse the city of any liability it might hold in the matter, steps that Andy Smith might not be able to afford or agree to…

The City Council gave final subdivision approval in February 2008 at the request of Chamberlain [developer Steve Chamberlain of Tahoma Terra & defaulted Thurston Highlands fame!], who needed it to convert more expensive construction financing into long-term financing. Two conditions were placed on the plat:

The city would not issue a building permit for any of the lots until the pump [booster pump on an elevated plat] was installed, with the exception of a model home.

It would not issue an occupancy permit until the sewer valve was installed…

Community Development Director Grant Beck said Lee asked the city building official to issue the permit, substituting the Smiths home for the model home that was exempted under the condition, so construction of a single home could proceed.

The city granted the permit despite the council-approved condition, Beck said, because permits and plans for the pump and sewer valve had been submitted and both projects appeared to be moving ahead. He said that the city made it clear to Lee that it would not issue an occupancy permit until the conditions on the recorded plat were satisfied. Beck said the city assumed Lee informed the Smiths of the plat conditions and they agreed to move forward despite the risk.

The Smiths said they knew none of this. They first learned of the plat conditions in June, nine months later.

In hindsight, Beck acknowledged the city should have handled the situation differently. Beck added he expected if the city had not issued the permit, the Smiths would have gone to the City Council to lobby for it anyway.

‘It would have been the same battle with a different face,’ he said.

Lee said he was not told of the plat conditions when he requested the permit. While he was aware of the water pressure concern from the initial meeting in 2005, he said it faded into the background now that his focus was on building the home, not the land-use issues. He said the concern was allayed because Chamberlain told him he had secured financing to build the improvements, prompting Lee to file for the permit.

‘It kind of relieved my concerns about the booster station,’ he said.

Lee said Chamberlain later told him financing had not come through.

Both the city and builder were operating with the understanding that Chamberlain would finish the improvements, which turned out not to be the case. The housing bubble had burst, and bank lending was in a deep freeze. A future phase of Palisades West is now in foreclosure, according to a notice of trustees sale. Chamberlain did not return messages for comment left at his office and cell phone Tuesday and Wednesday.

Lee heard that the city would not issue an occupancy permit until the improvements were installed from a building inspector during construction of the home and in a copy of a letter from the city sent in December. In both cases, however, Lee said he thought the improvements were part of a verbal agreement between the city and Chamberlain and did not know they were recorded on the subdivision plat. He said he learned otherwise in April…

Initial negotiations over the summer led to a proposal by the city to amend the plat to exempt the Smiths properties from the conditions. With some minor changes, the Smiths engineer, Vince McClure, maintained that the existing systems were more than adequate to serve a single home.

The council has not formally voted on the amendment. The citys lawyer, Brent Dille, said that it would open the city to liability and could run afoul of state regulations for water systems and jeopardize its operating permit.

Smith thought the central issue before the City Council was fire safety and was bewildered that new issues were broached.

‘I wonder where it stops,’ he said, according to video of the meeting posted on the citys Web site. ‘I wonder where some sanity comes into this where we can find some solutions.’

Equally galling to the Smiths was that the city of Yelm would take no responsibility for issuing a permit that the Smiths contend shouldnt have been issued…

The engineers representing the city and the Smiths have come up with some interim solutions to resolve the pressure issues for the home to allow the Smiths to move in. The proposal was forwarded to the state Department of Health for its review. On Tuesday, the council tabled the matter until the first meeting in January to allow adequate time for the review.

But even if that passes muster, theres still the liability issue. The City Council has directed staff that any solution must protect the city from any past or future liability. Smith said hes not sure he wants to go that far. And the Smiths will have to pay for any engineering solution because Andy Smith said the city maintains that its prohibited from spending public money to benefit an individual homeowner.

The Smiths are disheartened. Cynthia Smiths eyes well up when she talks about it. Andy Smith says hes gotten empty promises from city officials who have pledged to find a resolution; he said the city made a mistake and should fix it.

‘Im not sure whats going on, but they dont want us in that house,’ he said.

COMMENTS TO THE OLYMPIAN SAID THIS:
1. “Any other city or county would have not have issued the permit until improvements were made, the city is at fault as much as anyone else. But like any other government office they will NOT take responsibility. FLAKES.”

2. “So let’s get this straight. Yelm’s development bureaucrat, Grant Beck, issues a building permit “because permits and plans for the pump and sewer valve had been submitted and both projects appeared to be moving ahead,” after which he speculates that “the Smiths would have gone to the City Council to lobby for it anyway.” Decisions based on such pure speculation display an incompetence that would result in immediate dismissal if any standard of good business, or good sense had been invoked. But then, when are bureaucrats ever held to objective standards of efficiency, decency and intelligence? They aren’t. It’s the Smiths and others like them who take the hit politicians and bureaucrats so often earn, and so regularly avoid. After all, they’re untouchable. How sad.”

3. “I’m not sure how anyone could “fall in love” with Yelm, unless this couple had been transfered from the desert. Yelm is overpopulated, bottlenecked with traffic, and run by a good ole’ boy city government and court. It is why many educated folks flee the area as soon as they can. Between the greedy developers and city officials prematurely issuing building permits, the Smiths are screwed. I would try and get the final permit, waive liability for the city, and just get the hell out of dodge. Cut your losses. Things tend to get worse in Yelm, not better. Yelm is a sinkhole that will soon be out of water from overissuance of building permits, but that’s another story….”

IF ONLY THESE PEOPLE KNEW JUST HOW BANG-ON THEY ARE!

This is the same developer, same City Development Director, same Mayor & same City Council that has the City of Yelm in alot of hot water, as covered here previously:

Let’s tally the carnage of this city’s policies.
A chronology of Yelm’s recent water actions:
1. Nov. 7, 2008 Thurston County Judge Chris Wickham upholds the case against the City of Yelm and says “appropriate provisions” for potable water supplies must be determined by the city by the time of final plat approval in developments.
2. On June 12, 2009, the City of Yelm finally made public their long-awaited Draft Water System Plan [then click “Utilities & Streets”, then “Water Plan Update”], which still has not been approved by Depts. of health or Ecology.
3. On July 20, 2009 Dept. of Ecology commented on the McMonigle water right & REVERSED the decision of the Thurston County Conservancy Board approving that Water Right Chnage Application.
4. On August 14, 2009, the City of Yelm announced the withdrawal of their Mitigated Determination of Non-significance (MDNS) due to lack of acquiring water rights.
5. On October 20, 2009, the City of Yelm received a letter from the Washington State Dept. of Health making two comments about Yelm’s Water System Plan (WSP) that are detrimental to Health approving the city’s WSP.
6. On October 26, 2009, Mayor Ron Harding wrote a letter to private citizen Alice McMonigle to condemn her water rights with the city’s intent to acquire those rights through eminent domain.
7. On November 10, 2009, the Yelm City Council approved Ordinance 914 unanimously and without discussion to begin the condemnation of the McMonigle Water Rights in order to acquire them for the city’s use, with City Administrator Badger saying the city has spent $200,000 in legal fees on this issue alone.

This is on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the city had not been paid in fees and taxes with the default of Thurston Highlands.
The downright negligent decisions and lack of candor from this city’s officials is absolutely astounding!

THIS CITY’S OFFICIALS NEVER TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY OF THEIR MESSES.
EVEN WHEN TAKEN TO COURT AND THE COURT RULES AGAINST THEIR ACTIONS, THEY OPERATE LIKE THE COURT RULING DID NOT EXIST!

Quoting The Olympian:
“But even if that passes muster, theres still the liability issue. The City Council has directed staff that any solution must protect the city from any past or future liability. Smith said hes not sure he wants to go that far.”

THIS WRITER HOPES THE SMITHS HOLD THE CITY’S FEET TO THE FIRE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
THE CITY WAS WARNED ON-THE-RECORD BY ME & SEVERAL OTHERS THAT THEIR POLICIES WERE GOING TO LEAD TO LAWSUITS. THEY ARE ATTEMPTING TO HOLD BACK THE FLOOD OF THEM NOW.

THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE,
whether Beck, Harding or the city Council take responsibility of this or not:
“The city issued a building permit for the home despite a development condition that prohibited it. Now, to uphold a second condition, the city refuses to issue an occupancy permit to the Smiths.


November 29, 2009

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK KICK-OFF THIS SATURDAY

The City’s annual Christmas in the Park gathering starts at 9am on Saturday, December 5th.
The Christmas Parade will open the festivities down Yelm Avenue.
Santa will be there for the kids & local school choirs will be performing through the day.
The day concludes with the lighting of the community Christmas Tree at 6pm.


November 28, 2009

INTRODUCING: SOUTH PUGET SOUND JUNK REMOVAL AND HAULING

“What We Do

Getting rid of your junk is easy with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? junk removal services. Operating two 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchises in the South Puget Sound, we haul junk from Olympia, Lacey, Turnwater, Yelm, Dupont, Shelton, Bremerton, Silverdale, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and everywhere in between!

We all have the responsibility of cleaning out the garage, attic, yard or basement and sometimes we even have to clean out our parents or other loved ones houses, apartments or businesses. Who has the time or energy to do that, coupled with all the other stuff packed into our schedule? Thats why you need to call us at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. We are your full service junk removal company – just point to what you dont want and well do the rest for you. Offering same-day hauling services to both residential and commercial clients, we are the easiest way to expand your living or work space!

We are extremely proud that we recycle, donate, or reuse 65% of all the junk that we remove. We remove yard waste, renovation debris, electronics, household goods, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, mattresses anything that two strong individuals can lift that is not hazardous waste. Keep your eyes out for our 1-800-GOT-JUNK? team in your neighborhood.

Hi, my name is James Dahlen. My wife Debbi and I are the local franchise partners for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Bremerton and Olympia.. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? started providing junk removal service in this area in March 2006. In 2009, we became the owners of the Olympia and Bremerton franchises.

Junk pick-up:

* Olympia
* Tumwater
* Fox Island
* Mckenna
* Camp Murray
* Shelton
* Rainier
* Roy
* Thurston County

* Lacey
* Yelm
* Dupont
* Gig Harbor
* Fort Lewis
* Allyn
* Spanaway
* Little rock
* West Olympia

Junk We Haul

* Appliances
* Assorted household or office junk
* Cardboard, Newsprint, Paper, Books
* Concrete, Bricks
* Carpet, Construction Waste, Glass, Plaster,Roofing
* Drywall
* Computer, Stereo, Game Console
* Fridge, Freezer, A/C Unit
* Sofa, Chairs, coffee tables
* Green Waste / Soil
* Mattress or box spring
* Metal
* Tires, Rims
* Lumber, Plywood, 2”x4”s,” quoting their website.


November 27, 2009

BLUE COLLAR TOWN ELECTS A MUSLIM MAYOR — HERE IN WA.

“Granite Falls [WA.] residents are suspicious of any newcomers, let alone a Muslim native of Pakistan who moved to this rugged, blue-collar logging and mining town to open his own bar.

But 54-year-old Haroon Saleem has thrived, winning over the town with hard work and an easy smile. He has become so popular that, on Nov. 3, he won the mayor’s job in a landslide, getting 61 percent of the more than 800 votes cast a result that residents say would have been inconceivable not long ago.

‘In the old Granite Falls, there were no minorities. It was a rough, rough, logging town. Any outsider, whether a minority or somebody from Everett, was the same. It was very difficult to be accepted in this town,’ said Sharon Ashton, a close confidant of Saleem.

Saleem said he was nervous about being accepted, and hired a white assistant manager to ease local concerns when he opened his bar in 2000.

‘I was kind of scared, you know,’ he says.

But he was embraced virtually from the start.

‘That tells you how good and great of a community Granite Falls is,’ he says with a slight accent. ‘They didn’t care … I am who I am, and people love me for that, and I just love people. People know that I am smart, I am a businessman. In the big scheme of things, all these qualities have made me, got me to where I am today.’…

‘To minorities, America’s a great place, you can achieve whatever you want to. That’s the American dream. That’s why millions of people have come here and want to come here,’ Saleem says,” quoting the AP on MSNBC.


November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, YELM COMMUNITY BLOG READERS!



Photo courtesy Victoria Harper Parsonson,
taken Nov. 6th, 2007 on Bald Hill Rd., 5 miles from Yelm

We have so much in our midst for which to be thankful, as a little girl captured so brilliantly in her diary during WWII. This story first published in 2007 reminds us of the bounty all around us:

The chestnut tree that comforted Anne Frank while she hid from the Nazis during World War II will be cut down Nov. 21 [2007] because it is too diseased to be saved, the city said Tuesday [Nov. 13, 2007]…

The Jewish teenager made several references to the tree in the diary that she kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until the family was arrested by the Nazis in August 1944…

Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.

As long as this exists, … and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies while this lasts I cannot be unhappy, quoting the AP.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

THANKSGIVING DAY has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863 & became a federal holiday in 1941.
President Lincoln issued this proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving on October 3rd, 1863:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State


November 25, 2009

SUPPORT OUR LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES: SCHAFER GALLERIES

REMEMBER OUR LOCAL FRAME SHOP THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

Schafer Gallery Art & Frame
104 Yelm Ave. E.
Yelm, WA. 98597
360-458-5509
Rella Schafer, Artist-Framer

TELL SCHAFER GALLERIES YOU READ ABOUT THEM ON THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!


November 24, 2009

NOVEMBER ELECTION FINAL TODAY

With a Thurston County voter turnout of 51.77%, all ballots have been counted and the vote certified today with these results of note:

1. Karen Valenzuela won her Thurston County Commissioner seat by 55.47%.

2. Mayor Harding garnered 790 votes with no opponent running against him for Mayor.
Four years ago, Mr. Harding registered 848 votes against an opponent and with 500 less registered voters in 2005. That is very interesting!

3. Of the 790 voters that voted for Mayor Harding, only 703 of those cast a vote for Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom, 723 for Mike McGowan and 732 for Russ Hendrickson, all who ran unopposed for their Council seats.

4. Tracey Wood won the only contested Yelm City Council seat by 52.61%.

5. With only 901 voting here for local positions to date (the combination of votes cast for Yelm City Council candidates Wood 474 & Littlefield 427, who ran against each other for the same Council position) of the official number of 2,663 registered voters and 5,500 in population, that’s only a 33.8% voter participation, or 18% below the county-wide turnout.

Ed. Note:
This is a true embarrassment for the City of Yelm and certainly NOT a mandate for Yelm’s elected officials. And this statistic is on top of the facts that not one person came forward to run for public offices against the Mayor or 3 other City Council positions!


November 24, 2009

COUNCIL HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING TUESDAY AT 7PM TO RAISE CITY PROPERTY TAXES!

“The City Council of the City of Yelm has scheduled a public hearing to receive public comment on revenue sources for the 2010 budget year including possible increases in property tax revenues. The meeting will take place as part of the regular council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 24th, at 7:00 P.M. in the Public Safety Building, 206 McKenzie Ave., Yelm, WA.

For additional information, please contact Susan Davis, Finance Director, (360) 458-8404,” quoting the notice published in the NVN November 6th.

The City of Yelm Ciity Council can vote a maximum property tax increase of 1% of the $1.3 million budget, which is $13,000 total. That $13,000 is divided amongst the property owners and averages a $26 increase on assessed value for each property, which will be added to the City of Yelm property owners’ taxes if approved, Yelm Finance Director Sue Davis told the Yelm Community Blog. If an assessment goes down, the additional taxes will be less.

Ed. Note: the City of Yelm must cover legal bills for negotiations with a developer to acquire the McMonigle Water Rights, loss of tax reciepts and fees form a defaulted developer in 2009, expenses for an unapproved Draft Water System Plan, among less sales tax revenue, less home sales taxes, less building permits and less from the State!

PLEASE COME AND TELL THE YELM CITY COUNCIL WHAT YOU THINK AT THIS PUBLIC HEARING!


November 23, 2009

STUDY: “…WASHINGTON NEEDS EMINENT DOMAIN REFORM”

“If you own a home, a farm, a small business or a piece of land in the state of Washington, you should be disturbed to learn the results of a new study released by the Washington Policy Center.

The report, The Use and Abuse of Washingtons Community Renewal Law, concludes that, because of Washingtons Community Renewal Law (CRL), home and small-business owners of the Evergreen State are not protected from eminent domain abuselocal government officials can take anyones property and sell it to a developer for private gain….

Both the Washington Policy Centers Vice President for Research, Paul Guppy, and IJ-WAs executive director, Bill Maurer, were members of Attorney General Rob McKennas Eminent Domain Task Force, which recently concluded its investigation into the need to reform Washingtons eminent domain laws. The final report of the Task Force, which will be released this winter, is expected to suggest important reforms to Washingtons eminent domain laws, including significant reform of the CRL.

Guppy said, ‘Sometimes officials use of eminent domain power doesnt work because homeowners fight back and win, but that doesnt stop them from trying. For Washington property owners, the Community Renewal Law is like a loaded weapon: you never know when some mayor or city council member might decide to point it at you.’

Petersen [Institute for Justice Washington Chapter (IJ-WA) Staff Attorney Jeanette M. Petersen] concluded, ‘Because of the demonstrated capacity for abuse of Washingtons CRL, true protection for Washington residents and business owners can only come if the CRL is amended to permit eminent domain only to address a specific parcel of property creating a serious health or safety risk to the surrounding neighborhood.’

Ed. Note:
While the report speaks of the Community Renewal Law (CRL), a law that allows local governments to label any private property blighted and take it for private redevelopment, eminent domain abuse can also include a municipality attempting to acquire water rights, which Yelm’s City Council voted to take on November 10th. The McMonigle’s contend the City of Yelm is using eminent domain to acquire their water rights to support large housing developments in the city limits, consistent with this from the CRL Report: “local government officials can take anyones property and sell it to a developer for private gain.”

CLICK HERE for the full report.


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