April 23, 2017

Update: Thurston County Stormwater Utility update

– Editor’s note:
Even though the major storms season is behind us, we should stay informed.

– “Thurston County Stormwater Utility”
Our job is to remove pollutants from rainwater runoff (called stormwater) before they get into water bodies.

Runoff carries chemicals like motor oil, and debris like dog poop into our streams, rivers and lakes. Some pollutants even seep through the ground into the aquifer – our source of drinking water. We work to prevent that so you can count on the water to be clean and safe
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Click here for the latest “Splash” annual newsletter.

April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Source: Earth Day Network

– “It’s Earth Day!”
“Earth Day Network’s mission is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations.

Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 50,000 partners in 196 countries to build environmental democracy. We work through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world,” quoting the Earth Day Network.
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April 21, 2017

Introducing Yelm’s Bounty For Families (BFF)

– About Yelm’s Bounty For Families (BFF)
“A Local 501 3c Non-Profit, Supporting the Yelm Community and its Families
Formerly Yelm Cooperative, Bounty for Families has become its own non-profit organization”
Read more

April 20, 2017

RSE draws hundreds of worldwide visitors to Yelm

Photo courtesy: © 2017 JZ Knight, used with permission.

– RSE’s largest annual event in Yelm begins today
Ramtha’s Reunion will draw over 600 students to Yelm from all over the world. The 10 day event will be simultaneously translated in 8 languages. This event requires students to participate in Yelm, as no live-streaming will be offered for this session.
Read more

April 19, 2017

CBS News 60 Minutes sheds light on issues funding Public Defenders –
Is this what happened in the County’s Rodriquez firing?

Daryl A. Rodrigues
Photo courtesy: Quest.Attorney

– Editor’s note:
The CBS News 60 Minutes piece broadcasted April 16, 2017 about the New Orleans Public Defenders’ decision to refuse felony cases and why, brought to light what may have been behind the recent firing of Thurston County Public Defense Director Daryl Rodrigues by the then-newly seated Thurston County Board of Commissioners. The press release stated the commissioners “lost confidence in Mr. Rodrigues’ ability to lead the department of Public Defense, both financially and through personnel actions,” with no further explanation on what prompted the decision provided. Rodrigues also is president of the Washington Defender Association, according to the agency’s website.

Lisa Pemberton reported in The Olympian:
“Rodrigues said they asked for his resignation, and when he declined, they presented him with a termination letter. He said he was given three hours to pack up his office, but he chose to use the time to meet with the office’s top managers.”

“‘This is not the way lawyers leave law firms,’ he said. ‘It’s not professional or ethical to just not go to work the next day.'”

If the Rodrigues firing was some knee-jerk reaction by the three new “Independent” Commissioners where finances were involved, one can assess that the Public Defenders’ Office work-load, coupled with a lack of sufficient budget to support the department, was at fault and not Rodrigues. Did the Commissioners seriously investigate why the extensive hourly volumes are paid to this department’s staff? The public has not been informed. I met Mr. Rodriques at then-Commissioner Romero’s Coffee Chat in Yelm a year ago and I told him after his astute and brilliant presentation that he was a leader with “heart,” something that this office so needs. These are fellow citizens lives this office is defending. Are these same issues in the ’60 Minutes’ report below happening here? Probably.

– CBS New 60 Minutes highlighted America’s Public Defenders crisis!
“Inside NOLA [New Orleans, LA.] public defenders’ decision to refuse felony cases”

“New Orleans’ chief public defender tells Anderson Cooper that until he can ensure every client gets the defense they deserve, he’ll continue to turn cases away”

* How do 50 lawyers handle 22,000 cases? They can’t. New Orleans public defenders say the criminal justice system needs urgent reform.
* New Orleans public defenders admit they’ve not been able to adequately represent all their clients and innocent people have gone to jail.
* “A lawyer poorly resourced can cause irreparable harm to a client,” says Chief NOLA Public Defender Derwyn Bunton.
Read more

– Bottom line:
This writer suggests the NOLA example is the case in our Public Defenders’ Office, which contributed to the county abruptly firing a fine public servant in Daryl Rodrigues! I thank Mr. Rodrigues and wish him and his family well in their new endeavors now south of this state.

April 18, 2017

Yelm Habitat for Humanity relocates store for the future

Linda Aikin, Yelm Store Mgr., Shawna Dutton, SPSHH Mkting Dir.
Credit: Yelm Community Blog

– Yelm Habitat for Humanity proudly announces relocation
Shawna Dutton, Marketing Development Manager for South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity (SPSHH) has announced their Yelm location in the former Hertz Rentals building has now officially closed. They are in-process of moving into the former Yelm Hardware building in the downtown district, with on-street parking.

“Our Yelm Store is currently closed as we transition our Store to its NEW location at 207 Yelm Ave E. We plan to be reopen by Wednesday April 19th at 9:00 A.M. Come by and check out our new digs!” quoting the SPSHH Facebook page.
Read more

– About South Puget Sound Habitat (SPSHH)
“Founded in 1989, SPS Habitat serves the very-low income families whose dream is to shed the shackles of poverty, own their own homes and self determine their own futures.

Working with donors and volunteers, SPS Habitat Develops and builds affordable housing communities in Thurston County.

To date we have completed four developments and fifty houses, currently we are building Deyoe Vista, a thirty-three single family home development in Lacey.”
Read more

– Editor’s Note:
Dutton tells the Yelm Community Blog that with their growth since opening here 4 1/2 years ago, SPSHH is looking for the Yelm retail store to one-day fund the building of Habitat homes in the Yelm area.

– Seattle’s largest global airline, Delta, makes a difference in Mexico & Seattle:
“Delta celebrates 13th Global Build with Habitat for Humanity in Mexico”

“In addition, Delta volunteers will build seven homes across U.S. cities this fall, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City and Seattle, marking Delta homes 242 through 248 in partnership with Habitat for Humanity throughout the airline’s 15-plus years of support. Delta’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity supports the airline’s commitment to contribute 1 percent of its net income from the previous year to key charitable organizations.
By Catherine Sirna, Delta News Hub.
Read more

April 18, 2017

Commissioners facing realities of governance with Gopher issue

Photo by Ty Smedes

– Editor’s Note:
During last Fall’s campaign, I contacted county and state representatives to get input on comments by then-candidates Edwards & Hutchings which I thought were mostly a bunch of campaign hot-air. One of the topics on which I queried was the pocket gopher issue. I was told if elected, there would be little they could do about this issue due to federal law. While the “gopher” became yet another highly partisan issue to stir emotions and votes during the campaign, this too, became another political pawn by omitting key facts and sensationalizing the narrative. Then-Thurston County Commissioner Romero penned an outstanding letter summarizing the gopher situation, published here June 11, 2016. The newly-elected Commissioners are now being tempered in their job experiences of governance, something far different than unsubstantiated campaign bluster. This quote from Aeschylus also pertains to the battle of a campaign for public office, as well:
In war, truth is the first casualty.”

– “Gopher realities sinking in for commissioners”
“Thurston County commissioners are finally starting to grasp the hard realities posed by a threatened species of pocket gopher. The challenge is harder to shoo away than some believed.

South county residents’ anger about protections for gopher habitat helped elect Gary Edwards and John Hutchings last fall. The two political independents joined the three-member commission in late December, replacing two Democrats who strongly supported environmental protections for air, water and land.

Edwards, a former Republican sheriff with a shoot-from-the-hip style, threatened as a candidate to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to halt the gopher rules.

Hutchings was also very critical of the county’s land-use actions, which have slowed a handful of projects or added environmental study costs.

After the November election, Edwards and Hutchings backed away from any idea of a lawsuit.”

Unfortunately, Edwards is still trying to put up roadblocks to taking any sensible action.

He’s been sensationalizing the impacts that wise land stewardship requires. Eager to spread fear, he’s suggested gopher protections now threaten salmon and claims that only rich people will be able to live in rural areas,” quoting The Olympian Editorial Board. [This blogger concurs.]
Read more

April 17, 2017

Yelm Planning Commission Public Hearing today, 6pm

– Yelm Planning Commission Public Hearing Today
Public Comment or Communications on the Unified Development Code (UDC) Updates
(i.e. Food Truck regulations)
April 17, 2017 at the Public Safety Bldg at 6:00 p.m.

April 17, 2017

Thurston Conservation District in Yelm April 19

Coffee with Your Conservation District
9:30am, Every Third Wednesday of the Month
Wednesday, April 19th is in Yelm!

Thurston Conservation District wants to help you! Meet district staff, learn about free programs and services, ask questions, and find out about free workshops, farm planning assistance, restoration projects and more! Let us know how we can better serve you. Join us for a no-host cup of coffee and informal conversation once a month.

Upcoming dates and locations:

April 19th
Mr. Doug’s Restaurant
210 NE 103rd Ave, Yelm, WA 98597

May 17th
Sonja’s Cafe
202 Binghampton St SW, Rainier, WA 98576

June 21st
Quarry Town Coffee House
291 Sussex Ave W, Tenino, WA 9858

– Thurston Conservation District Vision
“Our vision is to create healthy, functioning ecosystems in Thurston County through advocacy, education and technical assistance efforts; thereby empowering every citizen of Thurston County to be a steward of the environment.”
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April 17, 2017

Effective this week – lower speed limit on SR 507 at Vail Rd.

Courtesy: maps4news.com

– “You can’t drive 45 on SR 507 near Yelm anymore”
“Drivers will soon notice a speed limit change on a portion of state Route 507 between Yelm and McKenna, according to the Washington state Department of Transportation.

Crews will replace existing 45 mile per hour signs with 35 mile per hour signs, reducing the speed limit near the intersection with Vail Road Southeast.

The change is the result of a speed study, prompted by community concerns about that area of road.
[covered on this blog]

The lowered speed limit will be enforceable as soon as new signs are posted, scheduled for the week of April 17,” By Amelia Dickson, The Olympian.
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