July 31, 2008


This writer wrote a Letter to the NVN due out today:

Dear Editor,

Frankly, I am quite taken aback at the silence about the single thing that will change this community forever; that of a 5,000 home development. The public comment period ended July 28 for the Thurston Highlands Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) with no word from the anti-NASCAR and anti-Wal-Mart crowd and only a couple of published Letters to the Editor about the proposal. Yet, the Nisqually Plaza commuter parking issue garnered so much community clamor and front page stories that even a mayor-appointed citizen committee member wrote a letter.

Does the public know some features of the Draft EIS:
1. A Regional Sports Complex is an element of all three land use alternatives, with a joint public/private partnership for operations. Will the public get to vote on that?

2. A proposed Urban Village to serve the retail and professional service needs of the residents of Thurston Highlands that “could create the feeling of a separate community within the greater Yelm community.” So, we are going to allow the feeling of a separate community within the greater Yelm community and not debate what impact this will have on the region as a whole?

3. Three alternatives that propose 1-1.5 million square feet of new commercial space, which equates to 5 to 8 Super Wal-Marts, “but not compete with the existing Yelm commercial core.”
How does 1 million square feet of new commercial space NOT compete with Yelm’s existing commercial core?

4. The current Yelm Vision Plan of the Comprehensive Plan that states, “Develop retail and commercial services to meet the needs of Yelms growing population. Focus new commercial services in existing commercial areas. Restrict new commercial development outside the current commercially zoned area along Yelm venue.”
Isn’t 1 million square feet of new commercial space in Thurston Highlands in an area away from the existing commercial core the end of the Yelm Vision Plan?

Where was every merchant in this town NOT holding the city’s feet to the fire on this issue to request an extension to deal with this DEIS more thoroughly?
Why was there no community debate, public outcry and conversation about the Thurston Highlands DEIS?
Where was the City’s own Planning Commission comments on this DEIS, which effectively paves the end to the city’s Vision Plan?

Stephen R. Klein
Yelm, WA.

Ed. Note:
I applaud those few people that took the time to write letters on the record.
For those of you wishing to read the letters written to the Community Development Director on this issue and now part of the public domain:
Click Here
then click the Thurston Highlands logo on the right side of the page.
then click on this hotlink:
“Click here to view all comments received during the comment period.”
Ed. Note: Only one person involved with the Yelm Vision Plan wrote a letter. Where was everyone else?

Want to see the DEIS?
That has been moved to a super-secret, hidden location, not easily pubic-accessible:
Click here
then click Permits
then Thurston Highlands

All tongue-in-cheek comments aside, you can scroll down on the Thurston Highlands link for the DEIS.
Why the city did not put a hotlink at the top of the Thurston Highlands page under the comments hotlink for the public benefit in order allow easier public access to the DEIS is beyond me, though.
Couldn’t they make this info more publicly accessible?

July 30, 2008


Rainier-based award-winning author Bettye Johnson

Congratulations to Bettye Johnson
, who won the 2008 Independent Publishers Book Award for her book,
Mary Magdalene: Her Legacy (Living Free Press).

Bettye Johnson, a two-time book award winner and an international author will introduce her newest book, Awakening the Genie Within at a book signing celebration in Yelm, Washington on Saturday August 2 from 2-5 p.m. at the Blue Bottle Espresso – Yelm Washington.

Bettye is also the founder and facilitator of Writers Night Out Forum, which meets the first Monday of each month at the Blue Bottle.

Awakening the Genie Within

“What happens when a 40 year old woman finds a genie lurking within? Change.

What happens when a forty year old woman awakens to a genie lurking within her? Two time award-winning author Bettye Johnson answers this question in her soon-to-be released first work of non-fiction Awakening the Genie Within, A Journey of Discovery, a semi-memoir of Johnson’s journey into a world of manifested words and thoughts. Johnson’s book Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls is an Independent Publishers Book Award Winner 2006 and its sequel Mary Magdalene, Her Legacy an Independent Publishers Book Award Winner 2008.

Suzanne Fairbrother, Ph.D., author of the best-selling book The Goddess Within, says “Awakening the Genie Within is a delightful presentation of the accumulated wisdom of a life well lived. Bettye Johnson’s book shows us how to live our lives more powerfully.”

Johnson’s book covers a span of her next 39 years of developing the genie within and shares her experiences, the tools she used and the wisdom gained during a fascinating journey of discovery.

Bettye Johnson’s life is a woven tapestry experiences that moved her from the cotton fields of Texas to working as a code clerk in the embassies of Paris and Tokyo where she received an uncommon education. Her background includes being a wife of a career military man, mother, government worker, minister and author.

Due for release August 2008

Awakening the Genie Within, ISBN 978-0-9650454-4-5 $17.95 Author Bettye Johnson from Living Free Press,” quoting Author’s Den.


July 29, 2008


The Tacoma News Tribune’s (TNT) Rob Carson wrote this fabulous and well-researched story on the Nisqually River and the Nisqaully River Council :

“Revolution on the Nisqually River
Nisqually council works, successfully, for cooperative conservation

“For people who spend their lives studying rivers, the Nisqually is a model made in heaven. Its only 78 miles long, but it flows through such spectacular, varied terrain that it makes an ideal living laboratory for geologists, hydrologists and biologists.

MULTIMEDIA: View photo gallery of the Nisqually River corridor
From its birthplace on Mount Rainier through pristine forests to where it enters Puget Sound, the Nisqually River is a Pacific Northwest gem….

The Nisqually is a model in another important way as well.

For 20 years, it has been watched over by the Nisqually River Council, a loosely knit group of landowners, business people and government representatives who rely on consensus and a mutual appreciation of the watershed.

As the global search for ways to balance economic and environmental needs grows more desperate, the Nisqually plan has begun to stand out as a prototype. The 18-member council has had such success that its philosophical basis is being used as a blueprint for environmental management around the world.

The Nisqually process sounds simple, but it involves revolutionary shifts in thinking about politics, economics and lifestyles.

In short, rather than saving the river from people, the Nisqually River Council tries to save the river for people. Its members use collaboration instead of government regulations and the courts, looking for places where economic values and natures values align….


The 18-member Nisqually River Council is made up of representatives from:

Pierce County
Thurston County
Lewis County
State Department of Fish and Wildlife
State Parks and Recreation Commission
State Department of Natural Resources
State Department of Ecology
Nisqually Tribe
Citizens Advisory Committee (two seats)
Washington Conservation Commission
University of Washington/Pack Forest
U.S. Army at Fort Lewis
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Mount Rainier National Park
Tacoma Public Utilities
Eatonville, Roy and Yelm (one seat to cover all three towns)
Gifford Pinchot National Forest”

Click Here
for more information on the Nisqually River Council

Click here
for the big map of the Nisqually River Basin.

July 28, 2008


Hi Everyone,

We are having a meeting of the Yelm Animal Alliance in McKenna on Tuesday at 6:00 PM, at the Liquid Soul Cafe which is located in that new mall next to the McKenna Post Office.

Liquid Soul Cafe
35025 90th Ave. So. #10
Phone: 400-SOUL

“The Yelm Animal Alliance is now a non-profit. We have also helped dogs from surrounding areas.

I’m in need of people offering to help me. I need people to put up found-dog fliers when we get a new dog. I need pictures from a digital camera and I need help calling people for follow-ups on checking on the dogs and the people who want dogs.

I have not been to the Yelm facility in a few weeks. I believe we need to make an appointment to be able to go in the facility and check it out. They are making improvements to make conditions better, but there is still much to be done to bring it up to acceptable standards. Lynn Brewer from the Yelm Animal Alliance is working with city officials.

I’M STILL LOOKING FOR SIGNS THAT SAY ANIMAL SHELTER with an arrow pointing in the right direction [of Yelm’s animal shelter].

Thanks again for all of the public concern. I do wish Yelm City Council and the Mayor would touch basis with Rainier and get some good information from them.”

Diana Crimi

July 27, 2008


The Yelm Community Blog has covered several details of the Thurston Highlands Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) previously on July 9 and July 18.

Frankly, I am quite taken aback at the outcry in the community over the fact that the Nisqually Valley Plaza owner does not want transit commuters parking in her lot and little said about the single thing that will change this community forever; that of a 5,000 home development. The public comment period ends tomorrow, yet there has been no in-depth report about the content of the DEIS in our local newspaper, no outcry from the anti-NASCAR and anti-Wal-Mart crowd and only a couple of published Letters to the Editor about the proposal.
Why did the parking lot issue garner more of a response, including a letter from a mayor-appointed citizen committee member? Where is everyone on this??? This is about our region’s future?

Reading this Draft EIS brings up a few more compelling issues:

1. Did you know a Regional Sports Complex is an element of all three land use alternatives being evaluated in the EIS. The Regional Sports Complex would also be deeded to the City, with a joint public/private partnership for operations….
an 87-acre area was identified to accommodate a wide range of outdoor and indoor facilities, including baseball, softball, soccer, swimming and general fitness.

The City would control use of the athletic fields (i.e., be responsible for scheduling use and maintenance), parking and outdoor amenities (like landscaping). Commercial recreation facilities (like a YMCA, batting cages, anything for-profit) would remain private enterprise.

Joint public/private partnership?
Does the public get any input on this?
Is this the Mayor’s proposed Yelm Community Recreational Center announced in the State of the City talk in February?

Is a Regional Sports Complex included in the commercial space and why this type of commercial business?

2. Associated commercial developments within the Master Planned Community to serve the needs of the population within the development will comprise a significant percentage of total commercial development within the City, though separate from the existing Yelm commercial core.

Chapter 3, Section 3.8: 6/10/08 of the DEIS states:

“The proposed Urban Village to serve the retail and professional service needs of the residents of Thurston Highlands, together with the public services and facilities that may be required within the development such as schools, a fire station, a possible satellite police station, and parks, could create the feeling of a separate community within the greater Yelm community.”

Oh, so they are acknowledging the creation a whole new commercial core that “could create the feeling of a separate community within the greater Yelm community?

And from the DEIS:
“It is anticipated that the Development Agreement (or similar instrument) to be created between the City of Yelm and the Thurston Highlands applicant would include regulations for the Master Planned Community that encourage retail and professional services sufficient to serve the needs of the residents of the Master Planned Community, but not compete with the existing Yelm commercial core. The purpose of these project-specific regulations would be to encourage the continuation of meeting regional retail needs within the Citys existing Central Business District.”

How does over one million square feet of commercial space NOT compete with Yelm’s existing commercial core?

That’s not what the Yelm Vision Plan says is supposed to happen:
The Yelm Vision Plan was instituted on January 5, 1995 by a group of people to reflect the will of the community.
This states on page 6, #B:
“Develop retail and commercial services to meet the needs of Yelms growing population. Focus new commercial services in existing commercial areas.

3. Did anyone notice one of the alternatives has 1.5 million square feet of commercial space proposed?
That is the equivalent of 8 Super Wal-Mart’s.




My entries on this subject have been called “demeaning, sarcastic, and overall offensive” by one writer.
I say I have not been tough enough about how this city’s own policies are being ignored, and neither has anyone else!

Grant Beck, Community Development Director
City of Yelm Community Development Department
P.O. Box 479
Yelm, WA 98597

July 26, 2008


As the Nisqually Valley News reported on July 11,
“City takes look at connections to lessen traffic
(T)he City of Yelm will look at possible new bypass connections to help ease traffic congestion in Yelm over the next year.”

“The City Council approved its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program for 2009 through 2014 without any additions Tuesday [July 8].

Over the next year the city will work on cleaning up and completing current projects on the list.

Mayor Ron Harding said the city hopes to have the Coates Road Project completed by this fall…

The Transportation Plan is the capital facilities document that guides transportation funding for a six-year cycle.

It is based on the Yelm Comprehensive Transportation Plan and is the implementation document for the overall document.

The top five projects currently listed on the Transportation Plan are the 510 Loop project, the Coates Avenue connector, Yelm Avenue West/Killion Road intersection, Yelm Prairie Line Trail and road resurfacing.”

More connections to the Bypass?
What Bypass, as covered here many times, recently on July 8th about Bypass funding in jeopardy.
Also, the Coates Road & Yelm Prairie Line Trail cost overruns were covered here this week, in particular the Yelm Prairie Line Trail cost overruns coming from the reserve fund.

The Olympian reported on July 15 what Blog readers read here on July 8th:
“Gasoline prices cost state tax revenue
Motorists cut back to save money, and that means less for road projects”

“Record fuel costs are forcing people to drive less, and that is cutting into tax collections that pay for road construction statewide.

Overall traffic was down 2 percent in March and 1.4 percent in May compared with 2007, according to vehicle counts from the DOT.

Less travel appears to be cutting into fuel tax collections. The state’s biggest source of money to pay for road improvements is the 37.5 cent per gallon gasoline tax, and expectations for income have been cut by $95 million through next June.

But construction costs increased by 60 percent in five years, as demand in India and China drove up prices for steel and concrete, and the cost of diesel fuel for construction equipment soared.

To avoid canceling any projects, lawmakers spent $3.8 billion in the past four years, said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island.

Now, with people buying less gasoline, calling off some projects again is a possibility, said Clibborn, who also is chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee.”

The City of Yelm is finding out, too, about construction expenses with road projects all in cost overruns.
They would be wise to increase their contingencies greater than 5-15%.

The Olympian reported that lifestyle changes are altering our driving habits, noticeable in Yelm as traffic has eased as gas prices have escalated. While the inner loop has helped, the major traffic reduction is from higher gas prices causing reduced vehicle trips:

This from July 20 The Olympian:
“A call to action
How higher fuel prices can change our lifestyles”

“The record-setting cost of fuel is forcing folks to drive less. The state Department of Transportation estimates that traffic volumes in the first few months of 2008 dropped about 2 percent, compared with last year. That tracks closely with what’s happening nationwide, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

At the same time, the use of public transit is rapidly rising. Intercity Transit has 13 percent more bus riders in 2008 compared with 2007, on pace for more than 4 million riders.

As gasoline prices climbed the past five years, bus ridership climbed at similar rates, an almost bullet-proof example of cause and effect as commuters look for more-affordable ways to get to work…

Less sprawl

Over time, higher fuel prices should lead to people living closer to work, which would curb sprawl and promote urban living, said Mike McCormick, an Olympia-based planning consultant and one of the authors of the state Growth Management Act.

“The question is: How long is it going to take?” McCormick asked.

Higher gas prices do discourage sprawl,” agreed Thurston Regional Planning Council senior planner Pete Swensson. “Most people won’t move closer to work to save money on gas, but when they’re moving for other reasons, they’ll be influenced by gas prices.”

The percent of Thurston County population growth occurring in the cities is on the rise and could accelerate as gas prices climb, Swensson added.”

[Ed. Note: Yelm’s proposed 5,000 home Thurston Highlands could be greatly affected as buyers are looking
elsewhere rather commuting from Yelm.]

MSNBC reported on July 23:
“Long-distance commuters road to nowhere
High gas prices, housing market downturn leave some workers stuck”

“Traffic deaths fall as gas prices climb”
From the AP reported on KING-5 TV in Seattle:
“Rising prices at the gas pump appear to be having at least one positive effect: Traffic deaths around the country are plummeting, just as they did during the Arab oil embargo three decades ago.

Researchers with the National Safety Council report a 9 percent drop in motor vehicle deaths overall through May compared with the first five months of 2007, including a drop of 18 percent in March and 14 percent in April.

Preliminary figures obtained by The Associated Press show that some states have reported declines of 20 percent or more. Thirty-one states have seen declines of at least 10 percent, and eight states have reported an increase, according to the council.”


July 25, 2008


Cell Phone Tower on JBLM near Tacoma, notice the dying trees all around. Credit: Yael Klein.

  • Byline by Yael Klein:

“Saturday morning I was driving north towards Tacoma where a scene caught my eye on the west side of SR 507, 2 miles south of SR 7 & Spanaway. To my left I saw a gathering of old, dead Fir trees standing in their place, as in a circle. When I looked closely, I saw a very tall green cell tower in the center of them all. The height of the trees was as tall as the cell tower (see picture). My body quivered to such scenery.

To make sure I get across to you what I mean, I would like to describe to you that when a tree dies on my land, its colors change from green to pale green to orange to yellow and, lastly, to brown. Then all the needles fall off. The trees I am referring to in this article were just standing there dead, gray just dead gray. I have never seen this color on trees that died out of dryness. I wanted to yell out to the world for such a crime that is slowly accruing right in front of us, yet we passively move along in our busy daily schedules accepting it all as part of life.

I was pondering those trees and their unjustified fate, realizing how nature a giant being who only knows how to give, and one we cant live without in its quiet way allows us to do all that we want, and even when we affect and destroy its parts, it is just silently being there, present in its glory. Yet the testimonial evidence of our misdoing, misuse, and abuse is so vividly there!

I ask, when are we going to finally wake up and say,
There are harmonious ways to live life on our beautiful planet earth!!! PEOPLE, WAKE UP!!!

Yael Klein

[Ed. Note: Yael is the wife of this writer. We own no cell phones, as to do so would require cell towers, which we do not want in our neighborhood!]

As Yael was writing this story, a news flash came onto the radio:
“Cancer Docs Warn Staff Of Cell Phone Risks
University Of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Advising 3,000 Workers To Limit Exposure”

“The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday [July 23] : Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer.

The warning from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is contrary to numerous studies that don’t find a link between cancer and cell phone use, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now – especially when it comes to children.

“Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” Herberman said.

No other major academic cancer research institutions have sounded such an alarm about cell phone use. But Herberman’s advice is sure to raise concern among many cell phone users and especially parents….

The issue that concerns some scientists – though nowhere near a consensus – is electromagnetic radiation, especially its possible effects on children. It is not a major topic in conferences of brain specialists,” quoting the AP on CBS News.

[Ed. Note: This is the very first time an American university has issued a warning about cell phone use. The issue is electromagnetic radiation that is emitted not only from the phone into the brain of the user, yet also from the cell tower up to a radius of several hundred feet. In 2007, eminent researcher Carroll Cobbs wrote a Guest Entry for the Yelm Community Blog about cell tower radiation and the effects on living organisms.
Click here for that report.]

July 24, 2008


The Childrens School of Excellence cordially invites you to our Fifth Annual Auction on Sunday, August 3rd 2008. Please click here for the invitation details.

Join us for Mid-Summer Magic and Celebration as we raise funds for the school.
We are planning a truly delicious summer menu, magic shows for the children, assorted games with outrageous prizes, and much more!
The link to purchase Dinner Tickets online has been updated.

View the Auction Catalog online, filled with fabulous items !

Click here
for more about the Children’s School of Excellence.

UPDATE: The Nisqually Valley News carried this front page story in their July 25 print and web editions.

July 23, 2008


Yelm’s City Council received news last night that three improvement projects are over-budget. City staffers explained in each instance that construction costs have sky-rocketed due to petroleum related products, i.e. asphalts, steel, etc.

1. Yelm Prairie Line trail bid
The current cost estimate exceeds the original bid by $56,000.
Approved was $65,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund, which includes a $9,000 contingency.

When Mayor Harding asked for questions from the Council, Council member Don Miller asked, “Can we afford it?”
This observer in Council Chambers thought that an interesting question from a Council member for 2 reasons:
A. Does a City Council member not know the budget with which they are given responsibility, instead relying on a a city staffer to answer the question?
B. That a City Council member asked such a question is bold, as this is a question that needs to be examined about every item in Yelm’s budget, since this city has been spending alot of money against the backdrop of a national, state and county economic downturn.
Mr. Miller, I applaud your asking the question, especially as the City Council approaches working with the 2009 budget this Fall!

2. Coates Avenue Reconstruction
This little over $1.025 million project is over-budget due to unexpected right-of-way cost, the replacement of some undersized water line and the addition of new water and sewer lines. The $75,000 in under-runs on Stevens & West Streets projects is expected to cover the overages on this Coates Street project. The road will be open during construction, which will occur during the school year. This road gets alot of school bus barn traffic and others using the inner loop to bypass Yelm Ave. West morning traffic.

3. Longmire Park reclaimed water line
A $40,800 budget amendment increase was approved bringing this job total now to $408,800. Yelm Public Works Director Time Peterson told the City Council his department is currently trucking water to the park 8-10 hours a day. The added expense is necessitated by the fact that water, sewer and reuse water lines all have separating requirements down the same street, so the reuse water line to Longmire Park will have to go down the center of the street, increasing asphalt/repaving costs. There is a 15% contingency in this bid.

While the City Council has funded some wonderful projects, look for greatly reduced spending next year as the slowdown trickles down to Yelm. Continued project overruns and funding from the city’s reserves should serve as a red flag, just as Councilman Miller naively asked, “Can we afford this?”

What say you?

UPDATE: The Nisqually Valley News carried this front page story in their July 25th print & web editions.

July 22, 2008


Every year the Humane Society of Tacoma & Pierce County has a sponsored walk for homeless pets.
This year’s walk is Saturday, July 26 at the Fort Steilacoom County Park at 8:30am.

You are encouraged to walk with your dog and collect sponsors to help raise funds for dogs in need, or if you can not walk and would still like to contribute, (however small, every $ helps), Yelm Travel owner Elizabeth Felix invites you to sponsor her dogs Abby and Wesley in walking.
If you can spare a donation, please write your check to “The Humane Society” and either mail to :
Yelm Travel
P. O. BOX 730
Yelm, WA. 98597

or drop by the Yelm Travel office on Creek Street, behind the Yelm Post Office, in the same building with the Chinese Wok.
Says Elizabeth, “Our dogs, yours and mine are the lucky ones, but there are many that need help.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Elizabeth, Abby and Wesley”


Rainier animal shelter improving
“About a month ago the City of Rainier updated its animal control ordinance.

Among the changes, Rainier approved a life-long dog license and an official no-kill status for their shelter.

Getting the shelter to its current status, among other improvements, has been a five-year process for public works employee Tony Schall.

When Schall took on the project of improving Rainiers shelter, he said the only facility they had was a cement slab and portable dog kennels,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News.



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