June 20, 2008

SUMMER OFFICIALLY ARRIVES IN YELM THIS EVENING!

“In the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year (near June 22) is when the Sun is farthest north. In the southern hemisphere, winter and summer solstices are exchanged. The summer solstice marks the first day of the season of summer,” quoting Science World.

June 20, 2008 at 5:56pm in Yelm is the official start of Summer!

HAPPY SUMMER…


June 19, 2008

BICYCLE BUSINESS BOOMING – GET YOURS RIGHT HERE IN YELM!

“The rise in gas prices is turning out to be good business for some bike stores who are reporting an increase in commuter-style bicycles and in repairs of older bikes,” quoting KING-5 TV in Seattle.

Check-out this new Yelm business for your bicycle:


NEW DYNAMIC TRANSPORT
is a revolutionary, cost effective, zero emissions, convenient and fun way of getting around… As a distributor of Dahon and Trikke products, we will help you select the perfect fit bike or trike. Whether you are riding in the city or the country, we have the right match for you.

Our bikes offer a revolutionary, cost effective, zero emissions, convenient and fun way of getting around…

NEW DYNAMIC TRANSPORT
206 Yelm Ave East
Yelm, WA.
360-400-7433 (RIDE)
Owners: Sir Robert D. Jones, Jr + Cozette S. Fyrst


June 18, 2008

ECONOMIC DOWNTURN SHOCKS YELM — ARNOLD’S COUNTRY INN TO CLOSE SUNDAY

Long time Yelm fixture Arnold’s Country Inn has announced their last day of operation will be this Sunday, June 22nd.

Please stop by and wish Rick & Judy Sutherland well in their next adventures.

Arnold’s has been THE PLACE for the finest in Northwest Cuisine, wines, service & atmosphere whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner for over 20 years.

Rick told the Yelm Community Blog host that they have been a specialty restaurant with their “bread & butter” customers coming for the fine food & country atmosphere from Lakewood, Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia & Panorama City in Lacey. With gas prices well over $4.25 a gallon, the drive to Yelm has those customers staying close to their homes.

Many of our area’s teenagers have waited on us for decades and received their very first customer service training right here. This restaurant will be sorely missed.

[Ed. Note: This is not just a local phenomenon. This writer was visiting his family last month in Louisville, KY. when this was reported in Louisville’s Courier-Journal:
“How Restaurants feel the bite of higher costs”
“Skyrocketing fuel costs and rising commodity prices are affecting bottom lines in restaurants across Louisville, cutting into the already-tight profits of the city’s independently owned eateries.

Consumer prices last month were up 3.9 percent over a year earlier, compared with an average 2.5 percent annual rise for the past 15 years. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent report forecasts increases through next year.

Basic economics account for most of the increase: Bad weather has hurt crops, economic prosperity has driven up demand in developing countries, and surging fuel prices have hiked transportation costs.

Stacy Roof, president and CEO of the Kentucky Restaurant Association, said the national trends can be seen throughout the commonwealth.”]

“Small businesses fighting to survive”
“Many owners say they are hanging by a thread that may soon snap”
From the AP on June 9.

The loss of Arnold’s good-paying jobs with tips, business and occupation taxes, sales tax revenue and traffic to their restaurant for adjacent businesses will reduce income to the City of Yelm’s bottom line, as discussed here just Monday.
And, Applebee’s pulled their plans for a Yelm restaurant.

However, some fast food restaurants are seeing increases in traffic, as people are moving from specialty restaurants into fast food to save money, as reported in this June 10th New York Times story.
A new Pizza Hut and KFC open soon in Yelm and Starbucks just opened its first company store here.

As Mr. Sutherland stated, the customers that would drive out to Yelm for the country ambiance are just not making the drive out here. Gordon’s Garden Center attracted alot of customers to Yelm from afar for their unique product line and formerly advertised on Seattle’s KIRO-710 radio. The drive to Yelm for many is just not palatable anymore. With +$100 a barrel gas seemingly here to stay, several local real estate agents have reported that some of their customers have listed their homes here for sale to move closer to Tacoma or Olympia, to reduce the expensive commute.

Remember when Panorama City residents and many others would take a day trip to Yelm and bring 10-30 people on buses for lunch at Arnold’s and a matine at the Drew Harvey Theater? Now, that country ambiance is to be gone!


June 17, 2008

WEDNESDAY EVENING YELM OPEN HOUSE ON WATER

“Please attend the open house
from 6 – 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 18
at the Public Safety Building,
206 McKenzie Ave. SE
to offer your comments and suggestions related to water use efficiency goals for the City of Yelm.

Your input is important as the City Council considers and finalizes efficiency goals for the future.
Click the link above for more information about how Yelm is planning for the future using efficiency goals and updating the Water System Plan,” quoting the city’s website.

[Ed. Note: I was stopped recently by my neighbor across the street from my City of Yelm property when I was cutting the grass there. My neighbors have lived in their home for 25+ years and raised their children to adults there. They told me that in all of their years here, they have never seen anything like the city’s water rate increase this year. They added last year’s was bad enough – they watered only their back yard last year. This year, they can barely afford to water their house plants, and have to forget their yard. They live on fixed incomes and were sharing how the city told them they would always have water when they hooked up to the city’s water line.

They asked what they could do. I encouraged him to write to the city & they said he would.]

You, too, should write and let the city know how you feel!


June 16, 2008

COUNTY’S POOR PLANNING LED TO BUDGET WOES – WHAT ABOUT YELM?

“Poor planning led to budget woes”
“Reduced sales-tax revenue, depleted reserves and inflation exceeding property-tax growth have had a corrosive effect on Thurston County’s 2009 budget, leaving a $4 million hole…

Commissioner Diane Oberquell said that when she and the other two commissioners approved “unmet needs” expenses and “budget extensions” between November 2006 and December 2007, she thought there was enough slack in the budget to cover it. At the time, the county had built up reserves after rapid growth from 2004 to 2006, when new-home construction and extra consumer spending were keeping sales-tax revenues up.

Oberquell says it might have been better for the county to start cutting expenses earlier, rather than spend from reserves last fall,” quoting The Olympian.

This writer received an email from a reader in response to the June 12 entry about the County’s budget shortfall, asking if Yelm is going down the same primrose lane.

While The Olympian wrote last week, “Unlike cities, counties do not collect business and occupation taxes, because the state Growth Management Act concentrates businesses in the urban areas, Oberquell added,” where does Yelm stand?

Let’s take a look:

1. On the revenue (income) side:
Revenues to cities & the county from sales taxes are down (consumers spending less), new home construction is way off, so permit fee income is way down, homes sales have slowed, so excise taxes and property sales tax income ARE way down. Then, area property values are going down here finally, leading to less taxes collected from lower home values for those that do sell.

2. On the expenses side
Fuel prices have gone through the roof. While Tumwater shifted to electric cars for meter patrols, as an example, Yelm has gas-guzzling vans, trucks and large vehicles for their city’s needs.
Prices for food & fuel nationwide are leading to inflation, which means that prices are going up in most every sector of the economy, while consumer spending is declining, which means a city has to budget for the loss of sales taxes.

As an example in Yelm, current road work now involves rising steel prices for the rebar for construction, asphalt for petroleum products, concrete, and fuel for machinery, which have all gone far beyond the $65 a barrel oil cost when Yelm did it’s budget last Fall — now at near $140 today. Do you think any city or county budgeted for any of this.

I am on the record on this Blog last year warning about this very issue and on Beyond the Ordinary internet radio, which is archived for all to hear.

Now, where is Yelm’s City Council going to get the dollars for all of these announced projects?

– a new City Hall,
– a new Yelm Community Recreation Center,
– land/building for a new Yelm Timberland Regional Library, which MUST be housed in a public facility after July, 2012. The City Council knew in November, 2001 that Timberland gave the city a 10 year exemption to rent space for the library in a privately owned building and did nothing to procure land in all of that time to be in a public facility in 2012.
– Yelm Community Schools announced need for public money for High School classroom in the next 3 1/2+ years? This on top of operation levies that barely pass already.

Yelm’s City Council just raised water prices on their citizens to the heavens to pay for their folly, as they don’t have enough water for all of the homes they permitted. The city is quoted in the June 13 NVN saying this is not about raising money, it’s about conservation. You bet your sweet bippy it’s not about raising money, as the city must force its water users to conserve, because the city is out of water to support all of the people it agreed to serve — and they all know it. So, raise the prices (coercion) to get public consumption down so the city can save its bum and get by this summer. And this does not include the 1,000 new home applications that the city has approved and have not been built and hooked-up to city water as of yet.

When I asked the city about where the money for all of these new projects will originate, Ms. Teixeira said that will be determined in the Fall, 2008 budgeting sessions. HMMM!

This city is spending money like there is no tomorrow; from a $300,000+ reclaimed water line to Longmire Park to $50,000 for a lobbyist for the Yelm Bypass to name a few.

Will this town be requiring layoffs soon, like the county? Or issuing bonds? Or more taxes on its citizens’ backs?

On the state side, if Gov. Gregoire asks this state to raise the gas tax again to make up for the shortfall in road tax revenue from less gallons-of-gas consumption, she will be voted out of office big time.

THERE IS A PERFECT STORM BREWING IF YELM HAS NOT PLANNED FOR THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, JUST LIKE WITH THE COUNTY!

DOESN’T THIS DEMAND YOU TO SPEAK UP NOW AND ASK ABOUT YELM, AND NOT WHEN YOU GET THE TAX BILL OR THE STORY THAT SERVICES ARE BEING CUT?


June 15, 2008

HONORING ALL FATHERS ON FATHER’S DAY

“Father’s Day is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting, and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father’s Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving to fathers and family-oriented activities. In 2008, it will be celebrated on June 15th in most countries.

In the United States, the first modern Father’s Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia or on June 19th of the same year, in the state of Washington. Today, Father’s Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June,” quoting Wikipedia.

Seattle couple makes national news as adoptive parents this Father’s Day:
“Gay couple’s adoption of 3 brothers is part of a growing trend”

“Meet the Brothers Z: 4-year-old twins Zach and Zayn, and their younger sibling Zeth, fast approaching 3. In many ways, they are typical denizens of the hilly suburban neighborhood where they have lived most of their lives…

But Fathers Day will be a double celebration at their house because the brothers have two daddies Geoffery and Devin, foster parents for the boys for three years before adopting them.

Thats a modest description for what the county judge who finalized the adoption in December called an act of heroism. The boys, taken from substance-abusing and incarcerated biological parents, faced long odds against growing up together. Given their treatment by the birth parents, there were far more questions than answers about physical and emotional issues that might arise for them down the road.

‘You are heroes in our community,’ Judge Mary Yu said, beaming from the bench while the boys frolicked about the courtroom, the whole family decked out in red-and-white Mickey Mouse ski sweaters. ‘Whos going to assume the burden of taking care of children like this, children who possibly have been neglected or set aside in some way? People like you, who step up. Thank you,'” quoting MSNBC.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL FATHERS EVERYWHERE!


June 14, 2008

SUPPORT OUR LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES: ANYTIME FITNESS

The Yelm Community Blog host received this letter last week from the owners of Anytime Fitness:

“I have read your blog almost daily to learn about Yelm and what’s going on in the City. As a business owner coming into the Yelm area I read everything I could to learn what was going on and if Yelm is a great
location for our second gym. We decided it was, and took our savings and opened our second gym. Our first gym is in DuPont. You keep us informed about the community and we learned alot from your blog.

Thanks,
Mark and Helen
Owners of Anytime Fitness

I asked Mark & Helen if they would share with you why they chose Yelm to expand and what they have experienced since you have been here?

Here, in their own words, is their response:

“Mark and I looked at the Yelm location a couple years ago and held off on opening the second gym at that time. Then last year we drove out to Yelm to get another feel of the community, we stopped at a coffee shop called “The Blue Bottle” and just thought it was such a friendly and cozy place, then we had dinner at a restaurant called “Arnolds” and fell in love with their dinner menu. We started getting the feeling that Yelm was a great location, because we felt welcome.
We have been opened for 8 weeks now and we have exceeded our expectations. The community is very close, it seems everyone knows everyone when they come into the gym. We have contributed to many events with donations of free memberships and also sponsored a local sports team by paying for their uniforms. Mark and I believe the secret to a family owned business it to be part of the community, support that community anyway you can and they will support you as a business owner.”

TELL ANYTIME FITNESS YOU READ ABOUT THEM ON THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!


June 13, 2008

SEATTLE LOGS HIGHEST MASS TRANSIT USE INCREASE IN NATION

“Transportation experts who have pushed mass transit since the 1970s are getting their wish as soaring gas prices persuade Americans to abandon their cars for buses and trains in record numbers. But as the adage says, be careful what you wish for.

Mass transit ridership is at its highest point in 50 years, according to research by the American Public Transportation Association. For many riders, it just got too expensive to drive…

The story is the same everywhere: In Seattle, commuter rail ridership recorded the biggest jump in the nation during the first quarter, with 28 percent more riders than during the same time last year…

…when gas prices go up, gas purchases go down. And while the price of a gallon of gas may soar, the tax levied on it remains the same. Less gas sold equals less tax revenue for states and municipalities.

So far this fiscal year, gas consumption is down about 3 percent in Indiana, costing the state about $12 million, state Budget Director Chris Ruhl said. Thats money that would have helped fund road construction and repair.

Even as national politicians debate suspending the federal gas tax to give drivers a break, many state officials are swinging in the opposition direction. Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Maine have raised their gas taxes this year, while Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed a 2.9-cent increase in the states 18.5 cent-a-gallon tax. Meanwhile, transportation planners in Ohio last month proposed raising the gas tax by up to 40 cents more per gallon,” quoting MSNBC.

WITH ONE OF THE HIGHEST GAS TAXES IN THE NATION, GOV. GREGOIRE WOULD BE COMMITTING POLITICAL SUICIDE TO SUGGEST RAISING THE GAS TAX HERE AGAIN. THAT MEANS LOOK FOR BUDGET CUTS ON ROAD PROJECTS AS THE REVENUE’S FROM LOWER GASOLINE SALES CONTINUE TO DROP, AS COVERED HERE PREVIOUSLY ABOUT THE STATE AND COUNTY!


June 12, 2008

THURSTON COUNTY ANNOUNCES BUDGET SHORTFALL

This writer published a story here on April 21, 2008 that building permits in the county had been taking a sharp drop and predicted this would be affecting the budget before too long.
I wrote,
“What does this mean to you?

These cities and the county will be getting less revenue from permit & construction fees, so they will be forced to reduce their budget expenditures.”

Now, the “other shoe” has finally dropped, “With Thurston County facing a $4 million budget shortfall in 2009, the county commission is asking department heads to make voluntary budget cuts that could total up to 10 percent.

The cuts include slashing program costs and absorbing staff members’ annual cost-of-living increases, which previously weren’t covered by individual departments’ budgets. They were outlined in a memo sent Tuesday to all county department heads from Commissioners Diane Oberquell, Bob Macleod and Cathy Wolfe…

Sgt. Dave Odegaard, president of the Thurston County Deputy Sheriffs Association, said he was frustrated by news of the possible cuts.

“The commissioners should have known some time ago that the revenues available were declining and taken less-severe actions earlier,” he said.

“While we realize that economic times are tough right now, it is readily apparent that the board of county commissioners and their administrative staff have demonstrated their incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility,” he said.

Oberquell said the county’s revenue stream is declining because of the economic downturn and because the state requires the county to do various programs but doesn’t allocate money to finance them…

She said the commissioners are considering administrative service cuts, such as closing the courthouse one day a week.

“We’re in the first phase of figuring out what to do and how to do it,” she said,” quoting The Olympian.

In other words, expect more cuts, layoffs, delayed road projects, park closures, and reduced services.

Here is the complete memo from the Thurston County Commissioners.

THIS COMES AS NO SURPRISE TO YELM COMMUNITY BLOG READERS.

This writer asked months ago about Yelm’s budget:

Where is Yelm going to get the money for three ambitious projects with such a drop in permit/construction activity:
A new City Hall, a new Yelm Community Recreation Center,
land/building for a new Yelm Timberland Regional Library losing its lease in 2012,
added to Yelm Community Schools request for public money for High School construction in the next 3 1/2+ years?

STAY TUNED!


June 11, 2008

THURSTON HIGHLANDS DRAFT EIS RELEASED: NOW IS THE PUBLIC’S TURN!

“The City of Yelm Community Development Department has issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community, and is in the process of distributing it to agencies and interested parties…

The Draft EIS contains a description of the project and how it may impact all elements of the environment, from air quality, groundwater quality and quantity, water quality and flooding along Thompson Creek, traffic, and even public services provided by the City. An EIS is meant to ensure that the decision makers, in this case the Hearing Examiner and City Council, have a full understanding of the choices they make in approving or denying a project and what conditions are appropriate to mitigate potential impacts. The EIS by itself does not approve or condition a project, it just reports the impacts and potential mitigation measures.

The Draft EIS is subject to a 45 day comment period, which ends on July 28th. During that time period, there will be two open houses at the Yelm High School commons, both from 5 PM to 8 PM to be held on Wednesday June 25th and Wednesday July 16th…

After the close of the comment period, CDD will respond to each comment received. Depending on the comments, this may even entail additional technical studies. The response to comments becomes the Final Environmental Impact Statement and after that point the actual Master Planned Community application will be modified based on the Final EIS, and heard by the Hearing Examiner and City Council,” quoting the City of Yelm (then click “Thurston Highlands Draft EIS”).

Comments on the Draft EIS should be sent to:

Grant Beck, Community Development Director
City of Yelm
P.O. Box 479
Yelm, WA 98597
or emailed to highlands@ci.yelm.wa.us

NOW IS THE TIME FOR THE PUBLIC TO COMMENT OFFICIALLY!
THIS 45 DAY PERIOD IS VERY IMPORTANT TO GET YOUR COMMENTS ON THE RECORD!


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