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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.

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

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2006 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

Post a comment


  1. To Steve

    A few weeks ago I also noticed that these trees were not surviving; I
    notified our city staff and asked for them to be replaced. This will
    take place when the weather gets cooler. The public works department did
    water these trees regularly as well as the hanging flower baskets along
    Yelm Avenue. The reasons these trees did not survive could be many or a
    combination of reasons, But I defer from assigning blamed and instead
    move forward on resolving the issue.
    Since you only volunteered for a couple of hours to help plant the
    trees, it is understandable that you do not have an accurate portrayal
    of the events surrounding this project. The trees were a project that I
    lead as a member of the beautification committee, Just so you have all
    the facts about this project, I personally paid 250.00 of the 450.00
    that this project cost, the balance was donated from the chamber board.
    I also lead the effort to design and install the city entry signs along
    with then councilmember John Thompson because we want to welcome those
    who travel into our community.
    If you take one thing from this response I hope it is this: A negative
    accusation does not benefit our community as much as positive

    The Time Is Now!
    Ron Harding

    Comment by Ron Harding on October 17, 2006 at 2:19 pm

  2. Dear Mr. Mayor,

    Thanks so much for your prompt response.
    I appreciate your thorough explanation.

    Just to clarify though, I make no negative accusations, regardless of your viewpoint as you read whatever I write.

    Bringing this to the attention of city officials, the Yelm Beautification Committee (Mr. Graves) & Ms. Peterson
    of what we noticed, along with a request for follow-up IS positive citizen involvement, since we have seen this matter
    mentioned nowhere else. And, the City is responsible for their care, based on what we have been told.

    Ms. Peterson is the expert on care of arborvitaes so I will defer to her experience about what happened
    that all should be dead so soon after planting. My assertion from an amateur point of view is that the arborvitaes were stressed from
    lack of water.

    Ron, I also acknowledge your efforts in creating these signs, as they provide a beautiful welcome to visitors.

    With thanks,

    Steve Klein

    P. S. Since you asked city staff to replace them and so the expense does not have to be borne by the taxpayer from city coffers if that is the plan,
    as the arborvitaes were originally donated by you and the Chamber Board with a hefty discount from Ms. Peterson,
    I hereby offer to you & the City, Mr. Mayor, $250 to create a Mayor’s Fund for donations to replace them.
    I am happy to again assist in the planting.

    Steve Klein

    Comment by Steve Klein on October 17, 2006 at 2:20 pm

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