October 21, 2006

YELM NEWSPAPER WINS AWARDS — “DIGGING” ABOUT THIS WRITER

“Nisqually Valley News was named Washington’s best in General Excellence for newspapers its size during the 119th annual convention of the Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association.

The annual award ceremony was held this past weekend in Kennewick and included awards for the top three stories in a variety of categories.

Judged by newspaper publishers from New York state, Nisqually Valley News (NVN) accumulated 464 points out of a possible 500 from five critics.

Nisqually Valley News Publisher and Editor Keven Graves attended the ceremony and accepted the award.

“Winning General Excellence is a reflection of the team effort that makes this newspaper the great community publication that it is,” said Graves.

“Everyone who works at this newspaper shares in this award.”

Graves was also elected to serve on the board of trustees for the newspaper publishers association…

In addition to being chosen the best weekly newspaper in Washington in its circulation category, individual awards went to reporters Seth Truscott, Keri Van Lue, and Cindy Teixeira.

Truscott, the most senior reporter on staff, brought back to Yelm two third place awards and one shared second place honor with Cindy Teixeira…

Teixeira’s single individual award was second place in the Best Education Story category which highlighted an art teacher’s attempt to raise math scores using art. “She obviously has her finger on the pulse of her coverage area,” said one judge.

In the Best Investigative Story category, Truscott and Teixeira took second place for covering Yelm’s mayoral race and questioning 2005 mayoral candidate Steve Klein’s residency.

“‘These reporters had to do some real digging to compare this mayoral candidate’s water usage to that of his neighbors. It makes the reader question what ‘residency’ really means,’ commented one judge,” quoting the NVN.

[Ed. Note: These reporters had to do some real digging? Really???
The facts show these reporters did NO “digging.”
To quote from their own story published in the NVN on September 16, 2005, Ms. Teixeira & Mr. Truscott reported,

Lacey residents Allan Richards and Jeff Adams contacted the Nisqually Valley News and questioned whether Klein is really a city resident. Last week, Richards provided the newspaper with a water usage report he said he obtained through a public disclosure records request. The water records are for the home that Klein bought inside of city limits last year.

Ms. Teixeira called my wife and I for an interview upon reciept of the water records to which Mr. Truscott joined.
These reporters did NO investigation, as they were handed the water records by Mr. Richards.

Further quoting the same story:
Richards said his interest in the Mayors race is based solely on the fact that he has friends living in Yelm, he visits the city alot and is concerned about what is happening here.

However, if Mr. Truscott & Ms. Teixeira had done further research, they would have discovered that the Allen Richards & Jeff Adams quoted in their report are members of a church outside of the Yelm community and Mr. Adams is actually Pastor Jeff Adams of College St. Christian Church in Lacey. Both gentlemen had written several Letters to the Editor published in the NVN critical about this writer being a student in the Ramtha School. HMMM! Real digging? What say you?]


October 20, 2006

YELM COMMUNITY BLOG EXCLUSIVE — CITY CONCESSIONS TO TRAFFIC CHALLENGED

Olympia engineer Ed Wiltsie submitted this letter to the Mayor of Yelm, Yelm City Council, Yelm Planning Commssion, & Yelm Planning officials for the Yelm’s Public Hearing of the Comprehensive Plan Update scheduled for October 24th. He granted permission to share his letter with the Yelm Community Blog in this exclusive report:

SUBJECT: Yelm Comprehensive Plan Update September 2006 – Traffic

Mayor, Council, Planning Commission & Mr Grant Beck:

Over the past two years I have commented in writing and verbally numerous times on the fact that the pending Y3 Loop should not be used as justification for the approval of further large development within Yelm. I did not comment separately during the September 2006 Planning Commission Review of the Comprehensive Plan this year, but added my comments to Mr. Kleins letter to provide a single input.

It is my understanding the staff response to this comment was the same as that given in past years, which has been that the Y3 Loop is not being used to justify development.

This statement is in error and this issue needs to be clarified because there is apparently a gross misinterpretation of the concessions that have been allowed in the Comprehensive Plan since 1992.

First, the purpose of the Comprehensive Plan is to provide long range planning, direction for future development and is the basis for the development of future ordinances. The purpose of Traffic Ordinances and traffic studies is to maintain Public Health & Safety and the efficient flow of traffic in support of local commerce. Similarly, City Staff, the Planning Commission and the Mayor and Council are responsible for developing and applying the Comprehensive Plan and subsequent ordinances to provide healthy, safe and effective public environments, facilities and utilities, in this case specifically roads and intersections.

To this end Levels of Service (LOS) for traffic performance have been defined with levels ranging from A to F. In general roadways and intersections are designed to operate at Levels of Service A, B or C. When Levels of Service D and E develop, it is typical that the planning process is engaged to develop and implement actions that remediate the less than desirable conditions. Level of Service F is reserved for conditions that are in a state of failure, meaning that they are UNSAFE and require immediate revision. Typically, when LOS F exists, new development is not permitted until the necessary remedial actions have been taken or it is required that the remediation measures be undertaken as part of the development and prior to occupancy of the facilities.

According to the Yelm Comprehensive Transportation Plan, Yelm Avenue has numerous locations that are designated as Level of Service D or E and one or two intersections that function at Level of Service F. These areas have had substandard Levels of Service since 1992 when the first plan was developed. As part of the Comprehensive Plan 13 improvement alternatives have been identified. The Y3 Loop has been selected as the primary alternative for remediation of the substandard traffic conditions within the Yelm Commercial Core since 1992.

Having selected a primary course of action, language was added to the Comprehensive Plan to temporarily justify moderate continued development during the period required for the implementation of the Y3 Loop mitigation effort:

In the urban core LOS F (failure) is recognized as an acceptable level of service where mitigation to create traffic diversions, bypasses, alternate routes and mode of transportation are authorized and being planned, funded and implemented (Page 12, Transportation Comprehensive Plan)

Hence, the City and all developers involved in new development since 1992 have used the above concession to justify the development. The concession is based on the funding and implementation of the Y3 Loop. As such, the staff response to this item was incorrect.

Second, it is noted that technically, any development approved within Yelm without the Y3 Loop being funded and implemented, worsens already unsafe conditions and is contrary to the purpose of the Citys Comprehensive Transportation Plan, Traffic Ordinances, Planning Commission and Mayor & Council.

Third, it has been 15 years since this concession was made and the original language in the Transportation Plan was adopted. It will be at least another 10 years before the Y3 Loop is open to traffic.

Up until recently, development within Yelm has proceeded at a reasonable rate with modest worsening of the traffic conditions and the execution of modest alternate mitigation, such as continuing streets and limited Yelm Avenue roadway and intersection improvements.

The recent approval of a nearly 200,000 sf WalMart Shopping Center and the 1200 homes in the Tahoma Terra Subdivision constitutes a MAJOR DEPARTURE FROM THE INTENT OF THE TEMPORARY CONCESSIONS granted within the Comprehensive Transportation Plan and will result in grossly accelerated worsening of the published UNSAFE Traffic Conditions.

As there is no designated Level of Service below LOS F, the worsening of traffic conditions have no lower threshold and can only be measured through increased numbers of accidents, injuries and deaths.

At this juncture in the Comprehensive Plan Revision process, there are several questions that City Staff, the Mayor & Council and the Planning Commission must ask themselves:

Is THE INTENT OF THE TEMPORARY CONCESSIONS granted within the Comprehensive Transportation Plan being interpreted as was originally intended?
Is the interpretation being applied at present preserving Public Health and Safety in the Yelm Commercial Core for individuals traveling along the Yelm Avenue?
How far can the LOS F condition (without a lower threshold) be pushed before the application of the concession will be unreasonable and unjustified?
How long can a LOS F be allowed to exist on the Major Thoroughfare of the City of Yelm with temporary concessions before the supporting mitigation measure (Y3 Loop) is in place?

At this time, I believe that the Comprehensive Plan Concessions are being used inappropriately in support of massive development projects that were not the intent of the jurisdictional bodies that justified the incorporation of the concessions into Comprehensive Plan. As such, the concessions no longer provide sufficient rationale for the continuation and worsening of LOS F/UNSAFE Traffic Conditions along the Yelm Commercial Core.

It is on this basis and in an effort to preserve some modicum of Public Traffic Health and Safety, and efficient traffic flow along the Yelm Commercial Core Corridor that Mr. Klein and I have raised this issue for the past two years.

I therefore request that the Mayor & Council, the Planning Commission and City Staff reconsider its recent response to the request that the Y3 Loop not be used to justify further large development along the Yelm Commercial Core and that this language be incorporated into this Comprehensive Plan Revision.

Sincerely,

Edward A. Wiltsie, PE


Photo courtesy of Beyond the Ordinary.net


October 19, 2006

YELM COMMUNITY BLOG EXCLUSIVE: CITY’S ‘SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT’ DEFINITION INTERVIEW

On Monday, October 16 this writer attended the Yelm Planning Commission Meeting at 4pm covering 2 major agenda items:

1. Adopting a Sustainable Development Statement for the City.
City Development Director Grant Beck proposed this statement for the Planning Commision to adopt:
“A community that thoughtfully provides for the needs of its residents, with efficiency and stewardship for the future.”

The Planning Commission agreed to accept this statement with future revisions. Commissioner Carlos Perez provided the only “nay” vote on the motion for adoption, stating this definition does not have enough “omph” as he characterized the presentation.

Yelm area resident Bill Hashim asked to address the commissioners and was allowed to speak publicly. He stated that he is a 30 year veteran of environmental planning and shared on the record he has worked with the principles of sustainable development for the last 15 years.
He offered this statement to the Planning Commission in contrast to Mr. Beck’s:
“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Mr. Hashim told the Yelm Community Blog in this exclusive interview:
“It [the statement I presented for the record] is a standard, universal statement about sustainable growth. Nearly every communitiy statement I have seen is a variation of this. What makes it particularly useful is the knowledge of what a generational need is:
environment, community, and lifestyle.
We know what we need in order to be sustained so we can make a fairly educated guess that future generations will need the same. Thus, we can make a series of sound goals, objectives, and indicators on whether we are achieving those or not, for not only ourselves but for our future.

He continued about Yelm’s statement,
“It’s not progressive. I’ve never seen that statement anywhere in the literature.
Yelm’s “endorsed” definition is so obtuse it is rendered useless. I have no idea what it means and can make no future sense of it. In order to protect the needs of future generations, how do we do that with “efficiency and stewardship for the future.” What does efficiency mean; what does stewardship mean in this context. I know the standard definition but can’t make any sense of how to apply that for a sustainable future. In addition, communities all over the nation are struggling with sustainable indicators –
Yelm has none in place even before a even considering this as a sustainable definition.”

He summarized by saying the statement adopted by the Planning Commission has no definition of what Yelm’s commitment to Sustainable Development is and there is no accountability for assessing if Yelm is meeting the definition’s goals.

2. The Thurston Highlands update presented was from the developers own publication.


October 18, 2006

IS YELM A CITY THAT IS BUSINESS FRIENDLY?

This writer received this comment yesterday posted to the May 2nd entry:
“it is way too difficult to get a job here in yelm i have been out of school since june because i am a graduate of YHS . yelm is a bit far from the other cities.”

This writer’s reply to this young man:
Not only is Yelm too far from other cities in some cases, I am told by several they wish not to locate here
because the city has done little to address the traffic issues, all the while adding more development onto roads unable to handle additional traffic.
The extra extra fuel/labor/time expenses with traffic in locating a business in Yelm are too great to be offset by the available labor pool such as yourself for many businesses looking to come here.

However, once Wal-Mart is open, you can look for other fast-food and quick-car service and associated stores to follow by opening near Wal-Mart, including perhaps a big-box merchant such as Home Depot.

Then, at the Yelm Planning Commission Meeting Monday evening, I heard from a member of the audience that people
living in SW Thurston County (i.e. Tenino, Centralia, etc.) that have used SR507 through Yelm for access to South Hill, Tacoma, Puyallup & Mt. Rainier are opting to drive out of their way and use the freeway rather than contend with Yelm traffic.

Now this published report in the Pierce County Business Examiner:
“But that doesnt mean all merchants see the City as being business-friendly. Just ask Walt Franczyk.

The owner of Walts Tire Factory, which recently opened shop at 509 Yelm Ave., lost an appeal this summer to install an awning sign in front of the business. According to court papers, the Citys current signage requirements prohibit the letters on awnings from taking up more than 30 percent of the awning.

Franczyk did win approval to have a sandwich board with his business name on it in front of the store, but has given up on a Yelm Avenue storefront sign for now. There is an approved sign on another side of the building.

Several other businesses in town have signs that do not meet the lettering size requirement, Franczyk pointed out.

Other delays he encountered with the City in getting his occupancy permit also ended up costing Franczyk about $70,000. Those costs included canceling three consecutive grand openings as well as costs associated with his being unable to leave his former location at 1308 Yelm Ave. E. when he originally planned in June.

“It wasnt worth it, Franczyk said of the move. Its a lesson learned.

The aforementioned article is not a first, as this blog has published other’ stories about how difficult this city can be for small businesses. See July 15, 2006 Blog entry #2 for another small business story.

And, the City Council recently authorized spending $17,700 in taxpayer money (see September 28th’s entry) to develop “collateral material” (i.e. a brochure) to market Yelm as an attractive business environment, all the while ignoring marketing, advertising and economic development people in this town that would have gladly volunteered to create such a brochure and strategy, if asked.

What say you?


October 17, 2006

YELM BEAUTIFICATION UPDATE

This letter was emailed by this writer to Yelm City Officials, representatives of the Yelm Beautification Committee, the local newspaper and copied to Gordon’s Garden Center owner Kellie Petersen:

Yael & I stopped at the arborvitaes on the edge of town at the
Pride of the Prairie signs last Saturday, because we noticed they were brown.

Upon inspection, we noticed they are dead.
According to Kellie Petersen of Gordon’s, she gave a special discount to plant those trees,
paid out of city coffers [reportedly the Yelm Chamber of Commerce donated the trees from tax-deductible, contributed funds]. The Yelm Beautification Committee assisted and asked the public for volunteers, of which Yael & I participated [along with others]. We planted the trees on Hwy 507 along with then Mayor Pro-Tem Harding and Keven Graves [Yelm Beautification Committee Chair at the time] taking photos for the NVN, photos he published.

My understanding is that the city was to care for them.
While the grass around the area has been trimmed, obviously the trees did not receive
enough watering throughout the record dry summer.

Further, the shrubs behind the welcome sign on 510 near the elementary school are severely stressed, if not
on the way out, too.

What is as telling as letting them die,
is letting them stay in place looking so bad – does not look well for the city to be sporting dead trees by the Welcome signs.

I would be interested to know what happened that they are dead 1 1/2 years after planting with such fanfare.
I look forward to a response.

Steve Klein.
10.16.2006



City Welcome Sign at SW Entrance to Town
Photo courtesy Guustaaf Damave, FreeFlowMedia.com


October 16, 2006

BE SURE TO READ UP ON EACH CANDIDATE & VOTE

Be sure to read about your local candidates and vote.
If you are a registered voter in Thurston County, your mail-in ballot is being mailed
to you this week.
Ed. Note: Hopefully, the computer here counting the mailed-in ballots is not rigged
as with the touch-screen computer voting machines in several states.

1. US Senate race
Maria Cantwell, D
Mike McGavick, R
Bruce Guthrie, L
Robin Adair, I
Aaron Dixon, G

2. US Representative, Ninth Congressional District
Adam Smith, D
Steven C. Cofchin, R

3. State Representative, Second Legislative District
Position One
Jean Marie Christenson, D
Jim McCune, R
Position Two
Jeff Stephan, D
Tom Campbell, R


October 15, 2006

YELM BEWARE – CITY OPEN TO CELLPHONE ANTENNAS ON MUNICIPAL WATER TOWER

Although the City Council agreed with the Mayor to reject T-Mobile’s request to rent space atop the City’s Municipal Water Tower, “that doesn’t mean the company couldn’t pursue other locations inside the city limits, Beck told council,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News (NVN).
“For the amount of money and with access and maintenance issues, ‘It wasn’t worth it,’ Harding said Wednesday.
‘I have nothing against cell towers,’ [Yelm Mayor] Harding said, ‘but if they want to put one in town, they can go through the site plan review like everyone else.'”

This will not be the last time the city is propositioned to rent municipal space to cellphone companies, what with the city’s projected doubling of population in 5 years. The $$$ will be sugar-plum fairies dancing around in these companys’ heads.

WHAT SAY YOU?


October 14, 2006

YELM’S OWN TO SPEAK AT SEATTLE’S MIND, BODY SPIRIT EXPO

Join Betsy Chasse, co-director of What the BLEEP Do We Know?! and Down The Rabbit Hole as she leads a discussion about making the films, as well as her personal journey during the production of the movies moving from Hollywood materialism (she calls it “shoe consciousness”) into spiritual awareness and a position of advocacy for global sustainability. One of Variety’s top 50 Independent Producers of 2004 and founder and CEO of Elora Media, a publishing company for conscious books, videos, music and games for children, Betsy also serves as CEO of Rampant Feline Films.

See Betsy’s lecture Sunday 01:00 PM Room 4
Body, Mind & Spirit Expo
Seattle Center Expo Hall
225 Mercer Street
Admission to expo $10
Sat 10 am -7 pm Sun 11am – 6 pm


October 13, 2006

RECORDS — IN YELM!

Yelm Cinemas Manager Howard Christain reports that Aaron Russo’s movie
America: Freedom to Fascism
was his number one seller last Monday.
Due to demand, the movie showings have been extended another week.

Thursday, October 12, 2007 Olympia Regional Airport recorded a record high high temperature of 74 degrees, breaking the former record of 70 set just two years ago, in 2004.


October 12, 2006

CITY COUNCIL AGAIN REJECTS CITIZEN INPUT OF NEW IDEAS

As expected, no action was taken nor was this proposal even discussed by Yelm’s City Council at last Tuesday’s Council session.
To quote the response from the Deputy City Clerk:
“There were no questions or discussion on the correspondence provided.”

The Seattle Times reports in its September 2nd edition:
“State Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald wants to move beyond bureaucratese … to fresh ideas for solving transportation problems and is putting up $1,000 of his own money to reach that goal. It’s called the $1,000 Doug MacDonald Challenge, sponsored by the national Transportation Research Board, an organization with the National Academy of Sciences. The idea of generating new transportation ideas from the public with a contest came to him while he was sitting around one day.
‘Every time we pay consultants, we get the same old ideas, the same old graphs and charts,’ MacDonald said. ‘Maybe there’s a better plan to get new ideas, so I decided to make a modest personal contribution in hopes of stirring up interest. ‘I am fascinated by how we are going to get the public’s enthusiasm about the fact we can keep highways moving so we actually get more use out of highways. In a line of stalled traffic, you don’t get much production of the highway. Everyone wins when the lanes move.'”

Doug MacDonald certainly welcomes public input. How about Yelm officials?
This writer and his wife presented the same contest by donating our own $1,000 to the City of Yelm with “the idea of generating new transportation ideas from the public for a contest” to solicit enthusiasm, ideas and input from our local citizens, along the lines of Mr. MacDonald’s thoughts.

This contest was on the Agenda for Yelm Planning Commission’s September Meeting which they deferred to the Yelm City Council.
The City Council had this proposal on their agenda last Tuesday night. see page 3.

Don’t you find interesting that:
Sec. MacDonald’s idea was reported throughout the State in the print media and he was interviewed on television and radio heralding his plan.
The Yelm Planning Commission defers our contest to the City Council, who does not even discuss this item on their agenda. And, the local newspaper reports nothing on all of this.

Of course this is the same City Council that placed a moratorium on moratoriums when other citizens came before this body with bold new ideas, earning the egregious 2005 Jefferson Muzzle Award.

To quote Yelm City Attorney Brent Dille, “It’s the Council’s meeting. They can decide what they want to hear and what they’re tired of hearing.”
Ed. Note: Seems like this City Council forgot they were elected to serve the citizens of this community.

What do YOU think?

It’s about the Future!


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