June 20, 2006

YELM NOW HAS A FOOD CO-OP, EVEN WITH WAL-MART COMING

The Food Co-op 500 announced today [Apr. 18] the recipients of four Sprout Fund grants and its first Sprout Fund loan. The program, financed by National Cooperative Bank (NCB) and Blooming Prairie Foundation to create more retail grocery cooperatives, awarded funding to projects in Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Washington.
Even as Wal-Mart enters into the green grocery segment, cooperative grocers relying on a model that has been successful for more than 70 years continue to thrive said Richard Dines, NCBs program manager for cooperative development. Why? Because co-ops are owned and controlled by the communities they serve. By infusing additional money into food co-op development, more Americans will be able to take advantage of cooperative enterprise.
Yelm Food Co-op in Yelm, Washington awarded a (matching) $10,000 Seed Fund grant, quoting Yelm Co-op. [Ed. Note: Congratulations got to the efforts of those that saw their dream manifest through hard work, determination and focus!]
“We are managing a Farmers Market on Saturday, July 1st and every Saturday through the summer/fall. This year we are calling it the Earth Market, and it will be at Yelm Earthworms and Castings Farm (Yelm Earth), at 14741 Lawrence Lake Rd. All are welcome, vendors especially – and, well, customers too! This year we will be charging vendors a fee: 5% of your gross sales with a cap of $20.00. All the proceeds will go toward advertising the market. Set up time is 9 AM with the market opening at 10 and closing at 3:30 Everyone must be out by 4PM, when Yelm Earth closes.
Please! No phone calls to Yelm Earth Call Carolyn instead at 894-1383
See you there! – And tell your friends!”


June 18, 2006

THOUGHTS ON A SUNDAY MORNIING

1. Yelm Ave. LID
Quoting page 2 of City Development Review Engineer Jim Gibson’s Staff Report (then click Upcoming Agenda, then 9a.) dated June 14, 2006 to Mayor Ron Harding, “The developers of Tahoma Terra elected to pursue the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID) to construct the required improvements (Killion Rd. with Yelm Avenue). During initial discussion with staff of the Community Development Department and the Yelm Transportation Committee, the city recommended that the improvements of the LID extend to 93rd Avenue along Yelm Avenue West, and north to the proposed 510 Yelm Loop.”

[Ed. Note: Let there be no mistake, the LID was expanded beyond Tahoma Terra’s Killion intersection application to include the already-approved Yelm High School roadwork under the auspices of saving money, yet unduly burdening the city’s own LID contiguous property owners by expanding the initial LID coverage. Oh, and Tahoma Terra requested the LID because that is an existing approved development. The same developers own the contiguous proposed 5,000 home Thurston Highlands land and the LID is really to mitigate that development’s traffic through Tahoma Terra if and when such is built. They can not say the LID is for Thurston Highlands because that is a yet to be existing/approved complex.]

2. Page 7 of this Staff Report says that 209,304 square feet of the “ROW Area Needed.”
Quoting the May 24th, 2006 City Council Minutes (then click Minutes, then May 24, 2006), “Tom Skillings [City hired engineer of Skillings/Connolly] reported that the right of way acquisition budget was $1.5 million and that each property was subject to appraisal and fair market value.” With interest rates and property values still rising, the city may be forced to dig deeper in the pockets and pay more than this budgeted amount.


June 16, 2006

BE AWARE

1. Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil and Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards presented a business safety update and police report to the Yelm Chamber of Commerce breakfast on June 13. They both mentioned the Washington State Patrol (WSP) received a DOT grant for overtime which is partially being used in and around Yelm. The WSP is monitoring for seat belt violations (placing the shoulder belt beneath the underarm is a violation) and speeding infractions on Bald Hills and Vail Roads due to the volume of accidents. [Ed. Note: This writer has seen them outbound on Bald Hills Rd past the sheep farm turns on the right in the new construction turnoff. Further, they sit in an unmarked SUV across from the Ycom Networks Garage on Bald Hills Road aiming their radar guns at drivers who have not adjusted their speed from 50 to 40 mph at the Harris Road railraod tracks. Beware when you come to town and are nearing Stiebrs Farms, as they lie in wait on the other side of the left bend. This writer got caught in their snare as the WSP officer stated I was still at 55mph coming around the bend in a 40mph zone @ $132 at 7pm on a Thursday evening. There are no red flags as in other speed zone change areas to mark that the speed limit transitions from 50mph to 40mph way prior to the Harris Road railroad crossing, except two small 40mph speed limit signs before the tracks, even though the road was recently widened, improved and paved after the tracks. So beware.

2. S. E. Thurston County Fire Co-Chiefs Rita Hutcheson & Mark King presented their Fire Department Services and Funding Report at the same meeting and gave a warning that if the fire levy fails in September, the response times to emergencies will be unacceptable due to a lack of funding. They are asking eveyone’s assistance to get educated on the levy issue and get the vote out FOR the fire levy.

3. The LID has now been approved by Yelm City Hall. With Yelm’s traffic studies showing that a 3-laned Yelm Ave. West can handle the traffic with a Highway 507 Loop/bypass, look for major gridlock in Yelm beyond just weekday afternoons, because Senator Patty Murray told Mayor Harding and Mayor Pro-Tem Isom there are NO federal funds for any infrastucture or highway projects – NONE. Unless the State comes up with the funding, the 507 Loop is in jeopardy. The unfunded amount for a Loop is $35 million, according to the DOT website [Ed. Note: this will continue to rise with interest rates and property values.]. Better revise the LID to widen Yelm Ave. west to 5 lanes NOW or rip up the 3-lane LID project within 3-5 years due to a traffic gridlock emergency.

4. As federal interst rates continue their rise along with inflation and home sales drying up, look for more issues from the Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highland owners to come before the city, like their just-passed LID. They will have to defer some of their expenses somehow, as national home sales are almost at a stand-still. They have 1,200 homes that must be financed and sold, plus a proposal for 5,000 more. Yikes!


June 14, 2006

JUNE 14 CITY COUNCIL MEETING

The Yelm City Council completed three items on its agenda tonight- with the public part of the meeting lasting 23 minutes prior to the closed Executive Session:

1. The L. I. D. was passed. Council member Bob Isom put forth the motion passing Ordinance No. 847 Killion Road LID Formation after his explanation that he is a property rights advocate yet looking at this project, had to put that stance aside to determine what was best for the City. He stated that the cost differential of passing the LID and completing the road work for $8 million vs. $19 million in projected costs if the road improvements were done piecemeal was what overrode his decision in this case. Not one other comment or question came from Council members and Mr. Isom’s motion carried unanimously.
The L. I. D. was a slam dunk, as this writer stated previously (see June 13th’s entry on this blog). To underscore again, the proposed road L. I. D. will not improve traffic capacity on Yelm Avenue West because there is no capacity increase. The LID provides for curbs, sidewalks and a center turn-lane for a portion of this street. As we have witnessed on Yelm Ave East, a center turn-lane does not add capacity, rather just assisting with flow. Yelm Ave. East is at capacity now with daily backups from 5 Corners past the Rite Aid in the afternoons and from the 507 light back to the Safeway most mornings. One has to wonder what would have happened if Safeway requested a LID on Yelm Ave. East prior to that end of the road being widened. Perhaps Wal-Mart will request a LID to widen Yelm Ave. East to mitigate their traffic. Stay tuned!
This LID is now in the hands of the affected property owners to get the best fair market price for their land when the City comes knocking at their door as a buyer (see this writer’s suggestions under June 13th’s entry on this blog).

Interestingly, Mr. Isom reported in his monthly report that he, Mayor Harding and other local area elected officials met with Sen. Patty Murray and were told by Ms. Murray that there is no available federal funding of road and infrastructure projects, and not to expect any. He further stated that the Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) where he represents Yelm, stated that Highway 507 is a “significant road”, meaning that federal monies may be forthcoming. Mr. Isom and Mayor Harding both acknowledged these two meetings were at odds with each other.
Remember, the WA. 507 DOT website still says the road will be built “subject to funding,” which is not assured. City of Yelm Development Review Engineer Jim Gibson stated previously that three lanes on Yelm Ave. West will easily handle the traffic with a WA. 507 Loop
and was challenged by this writer that a 507 Loop is 10 years away at earliest, if it happens at all. Now, our Senator says there will be no federal money. Look to a future where Yelm Ave. West must be widened to 5 lanes after Wal-Mart traffic uses the new Stevens St. connector to dump traffic onto Yelm Ave. West.
Another LID on the same stretch of road?

2. New business unanimously being passed was the $155,000 Contract Amendment for the SW Yelm Aquifer Study Project awarded to Golder Associates. This aquifer study will be important for the citizens of the area to know how their water is being affected by all of this development.

3. The Executive Session covered the open City Council seat selection with subsequent public announcement of John Thompson as the newly appointed 6th City Council member. Mr. Thompson was not present nor has he been seen at any recent City Council meetings by this writer. HMMM!
Congratulations are in order for John Thompson. While his service to this community has been exemplary, Mr. Thompson has served previously as a former Yelm City Council member & Mayor Pro-Tem, with Yelm Schools, Yelm Chamber of Commerce President, and Board positions with the Thurston Council Economic Development Committee and Thurston County Dispute Resolution Center. He is currently Chief of Staff for Lt. Gov. Brad Owen. He touted his connections at the state and federal level having an affect on the city’s future in his application for Council seat.
While Mr. Thompson certainly has the qualifications and experience, this City “Council has pledged to aim for more diversity,” quoting the front-page headlines of the Nisqually Valley News of Friday, June 2, 2006. There were 15 applicants for this position and choosing Mr. Thompson shows this Council’s words ring hollow. The City Council would have been wise to select a newcomer and/or another woman to fulfill their stated goals of diversity. Instead, they pander to some flights of fancy that Mr. Thompson’s Olympia connections will somehow translate into benefits for this town, while letting their intent for diversity go by the wayside. While this writer genuinely likes and appreciates Mr. Thompson as a person, Mr. Thompson is just “one of the boys” back in the saddle on this Council,
bringing no change.
Further, one has to wonder if Mr. Thompson will have the time and energy to fully devote himself to Yelm’s City Council considering the rigors required as a Lt. Governor’s Chief of Staff. And, how many times must he recuse himself from a key city vote because of his knowledge or involvement with issues on the state level causing conflicts of interest? Is this really the best choice for Yelm’s direction at this time?
Finally as an observation, I find most interesting the fact that neither former City Council members Mr. Cunningham nor Mr. Thompson ran for elected office for the 2 City Council seats up for election last November, all-the-while knowing they could be up for appointment this Spring when the City Council was expected to expand by 2 seats, suggested as a possibility in May, 2005, thereby avoiding public scrutiny from election race. Yes, the same could be said for the other applicants, however none of them has ever served Yelm in an elected capacity and do not know the Yelm political process as these two seasoned veterans. We will be watching who runs for the open seats in November, 2007. HMMM!


June 13, 2006

AFTER JUNE 14th’s LID PASSAGE, WHAT NEXT?

Unfortunately for most in the City of Yelm, they will not have seen the excellent Staff Report prepared by Jim Gibson, Development Review Engineer about the Killion Rd. Local Improvement District (LID) being voted by Yelm’s City Council on June 14th, because this report is not hotlinked on the City of Yelm website. One must happen upon the link or be told about it. [To find it, click on the City of Yelm website, then click “Agendas”, then under that tab, click “City Council” and you will get the June 14th Agenda page. Then click 9a.]
Upon reading this report, one can see for themselves that the Yelm City Council will vote to approve the LID on June 14th.
Clearly, the city has taken into consideration the considerable citizen outrage over this LID and deserves credit for listening and talking with property owners. Now, the citizens affected by the LID must protect their land value from this process.
There are two parts of his LID on which the affected property owners should focus:
A. Assessment to those properties.
B. Right of Way requirements and acquisition.

Page 7 of this report shows how much square footage of area will be needed to be purchased from each affected
property owner by the City. Those affected by the LID must be proactive to hold the City’s “feet to the fire” to buy their frontage acreage at fair market value and not some give-away price. To do so, one must do their homework to find out what that will be. The LID affected property owners must work together to get uniformity about what they expect the City to pay for their land. This issue will eventually come before a judge and their collective voice will be heard. And, if the City of Yelm is going to have to pay for this frontage property, the question should be raised as to how much Tahoma Terra will pay to the City for this venture, as they brought this LID in the first place.

To reiterate, you affected property owners need to focus on not only what you will be assessed, but for how much you wish to sell your affected frontage property to the City.

The passage of the LID on June 14th is a “slam dunk.”


June 2, 2006

L. I. D. Update

The very essence of community involvement is to let our elected officials know how we feel on city affairs.
Please write your views about the L. I. D. to the Mayor and Yelm City Council, as they are scheduled to vote
on the L. I. D. on Wednesday, June 14th. Your written comments are important in their decision-making process.

Mayor Ron Harding & Yelm City Council
City of Yelm
P.O. Box 479
Yelm, WA 98597

Please note that many items on the Yelm City Council’s twice-monthly meetings are already previously discussed and researched through the Council’s monthly Study Sessions . Although the public is not allowed to participate in their discourse, the public can attend as observers. The next one will be held on Thursday, June 22nd at 5pm. The Study Sessions are listed on each session’s City Council Minutes.


June 1, 2006

TWO NEW FOOD PURVEYORS IN TOWN

Won’t you support Yelm’s newest food purveyors?

Sebastian’s Best
Fine European Pastries & Delicious Natural Breads
105 E. Yelm Ave., Yelm 360-458-9313
Open: 10:00am-6:00pm Tuesday through Saturday
New to Yelm, the smells, sights and flavors of European baking at its finest! We offer superb pastries, cakes, and handmade truffles; delicious natural breads; savory meat pastries and quiche. Join us here, or take your selections with you. Sebastian particularly enjoys creating special occasion cakes with your favorite flavors and designs. We’re located near the traffic light of First St. & Yelm Ave.
“The best Linzer Torte and cheesecake I ever had” Steve Klein

And opening mid-June
Bar Cinco
Located at the former location of the Red Wine!
Flavors of Spain with an American Twist
704 Yelm Ave. West, Yelm 360-400-9000
Open:
11:00am-10:00pm Tuesday thru Thursday
11:00am-12:00 Midnight, Friday & Saturday
12:00n-7:00pm Sundays
Offering Spanish Tapas- scrumptious snacks served in our unique casita setting, and Hearty Beverages- enjoy something wonderful from our full bar or our extensive Spanish and West Coast wine list. Try our wine flights or a refreshing micro-beer. Exciting cuisine, delicious tastes and reasonably priced.


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