July 21, 2008

YELM LIBRARY’S SUMMER PROGRAMS & NEEDLEPOINT DISPLAY


Yelm Timberland Regional Library
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

Patricia Noffsinger has placed in the display cases at the Yelm Timberland Library an exhibit to show that needlepoint and embroidery have truly become an artform. Pat reports she is also using the display to gain interest in our area as she forms a local chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild.
The display will run until Aug 31st.
Ms. Noffsinger sells or purchases original artwork online on her site Mixed Medium Art.

Yelm library kicks off summer fun
Summer boredom is a thing of the past because Yelm Timberland Library has kicked off their summer programs.

Among the many opportunities for local youth, Catch the Reading Bug reading program, a book club and Wacky Tuesdays are some of the biggest…

The next activity will be Summer Movie Matinee in the librarys living room.

All ages are invited, and popcorn will be provided, 1-3 p.m., Thursdays, June 26 through July 31…

Typically, many of the adults cannot attend summer events because they are on vacation, said Library Manager Kristin Blalack.

In September, Blalack plans to resume Fireside Talk, a program the library sponsors with the Yelm Historical Society.

Adults sit around talking about the olden days,” quoting the NVN.


July 20, 2008

SEA-TAC AIRPORT ONE OF THE WORST FOR TSA SCREENER THEFTS OF PASSENGERS

This from Aviation:

“Stay alert to larceny in the air
What to keep in mind to ensure your valuables are safe while flying

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) certainly isn’t immune, either. Although all TSA agents are supposedly background-checked, more than 400 have been fired over the past five years for stealing. (It seems fair to hope some may have been jailed too, for committing crimes while serving in vitally important positions of public trust.) For the record, the TSA says the worst airports for theft are Newark, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Seattle-Tacoma.

Steps to help prevent your items being stolen
Jewelry is the single biggest category of stolen valuables, followed by cameras and electronics. Still, carelessness and blind faith make the situation needlessly worse. So keep the following in mind:

* Don’t stash anything in your checked bags that you’d be devastated to lose, and buy one small but solid lock per bag (the TSA suggests Travel Sentry or Safe Skies brands, both of which screeners can open and relock should they decide to go into your bag). Locks occasionally do get cut off by screeners if a bag seems suspicious, but they seem to discourage casual pilfering.
* In security lines, consolidate loose items (such as phones or iPods) into one bag before putting it through the machine, and keep an eagle eye when it emerges out the other end even if you’re detained for wanding or frisking. If the security screeners bring you out of sight of your stuff, politely but firmly ask to have it brought to you immediately. Dont pass through the metal detector until your items are well inside the x-ray machine.
* In-flight, put the carry-on with all your “must-not-lose” belongings under the seat in front of you and lock it, because the passenger seated ahead of you can reach under his seat and delve into your bag. But keep wallets on your person, especially if it’s a long-haul flight. That goes for double if it’s overnight and you plan to sleep. Consider locks for any bags in overhead bins, as well; it’s not unheard of for a thief to run his or her mitts through bags while their owners are snoozing. It’s also not a bad idea to put your bag(s) in the bin across from you, the better to keep an eye on things.
* Don’t pack valuables near the tops of your carry-on bags; that makes it easier for someone casually to scoop them out, with minimal effort.”

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BELONGINGS AND BE AWARE WHEN USING ANY AIRPORT!


July 19, 2008

SUPPORT OUR LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES: MCKENNA’S NATURE’S GARDEN

The lovely ladies at McKenna’s NATURE’S GARDEN plant and produce stand have moved their FLORAL DEPARTMENT to a new location just past the McKenna Y towards Roy. The address is:

34090 SR507

The phone number for the new INDOOR location is 458-5000.

Also, they will be moving their entire operation including all plants to this location by September.

Please frequent their business and other local, small businesses, and keep our money circulating locally.

TELL NATURE’S GARDEN YOU READ ABOUT THEM IN THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!


July 18, 2008

THURSTON HIGHLANDS DRAFT EIS GOES AGAINST CITIZENS’ WISHES

We are nearing the final days of the public comment period for the Thurston Highlands Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), July 28th.

Some things to keep in mind:

1. The EIS must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
The purpose of the EIS and The Comprehensive Plan is to insure the wishes of the community are reflected in these documents.
“The Vision Plan is adopted by reference in the Yelm Comprehensive Plan, and became a guiding document in the creation of development regulations such as the Yelm Design Guidelines.”

2. 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.

on page 8:
Improve Yelms historic downtown (roughly between Solberg St. NW/SW, Stevens Ave.NE/NW, 4th St. NE/SE and Mosman Ave. SW/SE).
a. Provide more street amenities and pedestrian oriented businesses, such as open-air restaurants.

on page 12:
Each district would allow the full spectrum of uses as defined by zoning (Zoning will not be changed.) but will also feature guidelines to encourage specific activities and take advantage of special opportunities. For example, the village retail district will create an attractive pedestrian-oriented retail center to serve new residents in the southwest annexation (as well as providing a unique shopping experience in the city). The
downtown district targets visitors service businesses through historic preservation, street improvements, and by encouraging small cottage industries in existing structures.

on page 15:
Land Use and Design
4. Implement master plan for proposed SW Annex Development to form a high-quality residential community
integrated with the rest of Yelm. Restrict new commercial development outside the current commercially zoned area along Yelm venue.

on page 18:
Village Retail District [current downtown]
b. Make the site accessible from the Southwest Annex and Yelm Avenue. This will reduce congestion on Yelm Avenue by providing alternate access to the development. Easy access from the Southwest Annex will encourage residents to shop in the Village Retail District.

on page 19
Proposed Southwest Annex District [Thurston Highlands]
a. Higher density development, involving a mix of multifamily and single-family units should be located near
Yelm Avenue to encourage pedestrian trips to the Village Retail District [current downtown].

and:

c. Commercial development should be kept to a minimum. Allow only small neighborhood-oriented commercial, such as small grocery stores.

PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS…

DOES ANYONE SEE THE CONNECTION HERE?

IS THURSTON HIGHLANDS’ EIS CONSISTENT WITH THE WISHES OF THE COMMUNITY, AS EXPRESSED IN YELM’S VISION STATEMENT ON THE CITY’S OWN WEBSITE?
AFTER ALL, THE VISION PLAN WAS DEEMED TO BE THE DESIRES OF THIS COMMUNITY!

WE ARE SEEING THIS DRAFT EIS PROPOSE ALMOST 1 MILLION SQUARE FEET OF NEW COMMERCIAL SPACE IN A DEVELOPMENT AWAY FROM THE YELM’S CURRENT DOWNTOWN, WHERE THE VISION STATEMENT SPECIFICALLY STATES:

Focus new commercial services in existing commercial areas
And:
“Commercial development should be kept to a minimum [in Thurston Highlands]. Allow only small neighborhood-oriented commercial, such as small grocery stores.”

The Draft EIS States in Chapter 3, section 7-4:
Yelm Vision Plan
In the same time period during which the City of Yelm was adopting its Comprehensive Land Use Plan consistent with the Growth Management Act, the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and the local community created a Vision Plan designed to improve the economic vitality, convenience and appearance of the downtown commercial area by: focusing on industry, retail and commercial uses, and tourism; building community pride and involvement; enhancing the Citys identity with a directed sense of character, downtown improvements, and coordinated improvement efforts; improving vehicular circulation; and promoting efficient and high-quality land use.
The Vision Plan is adopted by reference in the Yelm Comprehensive Plan, and became a guiding document in the creation of development regulations such as the Yelm Design Guidelines.

Relationship of the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community to the Yelm Vision Plan
The Yelm Vision Plan will be utilized by the City during the Thurston Highlands application review process for final Master Site Plan approval, and during formulation of a Development Agreement (or similar instrument) that will establish project-specific development standards and requirements for construction within the proposed Master Planned Community.


OH, REALLY???!!!

ISN’T THE YELM VISION PLAN SUPPOSED TO REFLECT THE DESIRES OF THE COMMUNITY & BE FOLLOWED?
WHY IS IT NOT BEING FOLLOWED WITH THIS DRAFT EIS?

The Thurston Highlands Draft EIS States in Chapter 3, section 7 – 3:
Relationship of the Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community to the Comprehensive Plan
The Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community must be consistent with policies of the Yelm Comprehensive Plan as part of the Master Planned Community approval.

The Draft EIS States in Chapter 3, section 7 – 1:
Relationship of the Proposal to Plans and Policies
Yelm Comprehensive Plan

The primary criteria for conceptual approval of a Master Plan Development is consistency with the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan.

IS THIS DRAFT EIS FOLLOWING THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN & VISION STATEMENT?
WHY NOT?
DOES THE COMMUNITY CARE IF CITY OFFICIALS CARRY OUT THEIR WISHES OR NOT VIA THESE DOCUMENTS?

IF WE MAKE A NEW COMMERCIAL AREA IN THURSTON HIGHLANDS OF ALMOST 1 MILLION SQUARE FEET [EQUIVALENT TO 5 SUPER WAL-MARTS] , WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE EFFECT ON YELM’S CURRENT COMMERCIAL AREA?

WILL THE COMMUNITY SHOP AT ALL BRIGHT, SHINY AND NEW BUSINESSES OR GO TO THE CURRENT DOWNTOWN AREA?

IF YOU HAD A BUSINESS IN YELM’S DOWNTOWN CORE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS LOCATION BEING SHOVED ASIDE WHILE A NEW COMMERCIAL AREA IS DEVELOPED IN THURSTON HIGHLANDS?

WHY DID THIS CITY GO TO ALL OF THE TROUBLE TO CREATE A VISION STATEMENT AND THEN NOT FOLLOW IT?

WHERE IS THE PLANNING COMMISSION ON THIS ONE?

ALL THREE ALTERNATIVES SUGGESTED FOR THE HIGHLANDS OFFER LARGE COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY. THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE PRESENTED WITH LIMITED COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY THAT FOLLOWED THE VISION STATEMENT. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND THIS DRAFT EIS SHOULD BE REWORKED TO INCLUDE AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN WITH LIMITED COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT!

You have 10 days left to send your comments about this to:

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


July 17, 2008

YELM WAL-MART 1 YR. OLD – SKEWS YELM RETAIL SALES GROWTH

This writer now understands Mayor Harding’s continual comments that the economy is doing well here, as he said in the Nisqually Valley News last week:

“Its not just Yelm seeing continued growth in the face of a troubling national economy.

Harding said areas in the county around Yelm are also growing and the city is working to accommodate that growth as well.”

The Olympian reported yesterday:
“The overall taxable retail sales data show: …
Yelm rose 8.39 percent to $37.4 million from $34.5 million

The retail trade data show:
Yelm rose 52.83 percent to $18.6 million from $12.2 million…

Still, there were some bright spots in the first-quarter taxable retail sales data.

Yelm’s retail trade sales soared more than 50 percent. Contributing to that boost were the more than 20 businesses that opened in the city between October and March, finance and administrative services director Tanya Robacker said.”

Omitted from the figures was the fact that between March and now, we have seen the closure of Two Friends Bistro and Arnold’s Country Inn, two of the more prominent sit-down restaurants. Alot of other local businesses are feeling pinched.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Yelm’s Super Wal-Mart opening with 184,368 square feet of commercial space.

No wonder the Mayor says Yelm’s economy is growing — Yelm opened a new Wal-Mart on July 18, 2007, which skewed the numbers in 2008. The Mayor and city should list separate Wal-Mart figures for an accurate comparison.

Instead of looking at biased figures based on a Super Wal-Mart opening to pat ourselves on the back, we should be looking at the overall statistics and trends, as The Olympian reported about our county. Comparing Yelm’s year over year retail numbers with a Wal-Mart added this year is not comparing apples to apples.

Thurston county’s retail sales tumble

“In another sign of the slowing South Sound economy, Thurston County taxable retail sales have fallen for the first time in 13 years, dropping 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007, new state Department of Revenue data show.

The county’s overall taxable retail sales declined, in part, because of fewer sales of new and used cars, motorcycles, boats and recreational vehicles, the result of higher fuel prices, the data show.

The news comes less than a week after Northwest Multiple Listing Service data showed that Thurston County home sales have fallen more than 20 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2007.”

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

REGARDLESS OF BUSINESSES OPENING HERE LAST WINTER, SOME HAVE CLOSED THIS SPRING. SHOULD THE MAYOR & CITY STOP THEIR “SPIN” OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND TYPE OF PROGNOSTICATIONS ABOUT THE LOCAL ECONOMY?
THE SLOWDOWN IS HERE — ASK ANY LOCAL BUSINESS AND REAL ESTATE AGENT.
NEXT EFFECT — THE SLOWDOWN TRICKLES DOWN TO YELM, EVEN WITH A BOOST FROM A NEW STARBUCKS AND KFC…

PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS. THINK ABOUT IT…


July 16, 2008

YELM AREA FOLKS FEEL THE PINCH – THOUGHTS TO EASE THE WAY

This writer has received several emails that Yelm area folks are feeling the pinch and looking to change the way they live everyday life in order to save. Here are some great tips to help you through these times:

“10 Things You Can Like About $4 Gas”
From TIME Magazine, here are 2 0f 10 effects on the Yelm area:
2. Sprawl Stalls
[Ed. Note: Mayor Harding’s “planned growth” hopefully will stall, too!]

8. Less Traffic
“Travel on all roads dropped 2.1% in the first four months of 2008, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Wherever people can take public transit, they are doing so.”
[Ed. Note: Regardless of the city’s new side streets, overall traffic HAS dropped in Yelm from less road use.]

How to Sell a House, When You Have to Sell It Now
Seven tips for homeowners who can’t wait until the market turns around”
From the July 14th Wall Street Journal
And this:
“So you say you’re selling your house?
Hey, it could be worse. You could be selling a Hummer.”

“A Gourmet Family Meal for $10?”
From Time Magazine.

All Eyes on Amtrak
Soaring gas prices and higher airfares are causing Americans to take a closer look at their rail system.”
From Newsweek
Amtrak offer excellent service to Portland, Seattle, Eugene and Vancouver from Olympia.
I love riding Amtrak’s Cascades.

Pulling the Plug: Summer of ’08 Sparks Creative Conservation
With Temperatures — and Electric Bills — High,
Families Face Meltdown; Bourbon Cubes
TIPS FOR STAYING COOL”
From the Wall Street Journal.

American’s relook wind
“For 20 years, Southwest Windpower has been bringing low-cost, reliable wind energy to the world. As the world’s largest producer of small wind generators, we’ve pioneered new technologies to make renewable energy simple,” quoting Southwest Windpower.

Solar Power Workshop
with Brad Burkhartzmeyer
Saturday July 19 from 8 AM to 4 PM
Continental breakfast and lunch included
Develop a plan for your own system – Hands on Class practice in constructing a small model system

Where: Deschutes Grange, 16435 143rd Ave. SE on Vail Road just south of Rainier.
Cost: $40 pre-registration at Lemuria between now and July 18th. $45 at the door.
-Half the proceeds go to fund Brad’s journeys around the globe-
Sponsored by the Yelm area’s own Babes In Belts


July 16, 2008

LAST THURSTON HIGHLANDS OPEN HOUSE TONIGHT

The Thurston Highlands Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Comment Period
is June 10-July 28, 2008

Now is the time for the public to gather information, learn and comment.

Open House
5 PM to 8 PM – July 16, 2008
Yelm High School Commons

Location of Copies of the Draft EIS and Technical Reports for Review

City of Yelm
Community Development Department
105 Yelm Avenue West
Yelm, WA 98597

Yelm Timberland Library
Fay Fuller Building
210 Prairie Park Street
Yelm, WA 98597

Address Comments to:

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


July 15, 2008

MAYOR HARDING’S DAUGHTER CROWNED MISS WASHINGTON


Janet Harding
Photo credit: The Olympian

“Janet Harding, a 21-year old from Yelm with a passion for volunteer work, is the new Miss Washington.

Harding was crowned Saturday night [July 12] at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma and will represent Washington in the Miss America competition, which takes place in January in Las Vegas. She competed in the Miss Washington pageant as Miss Tahoma, a title she earned in a Puyallup pageant…

Harding will work for the cause of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America during her reign. To earn her crown, she played a cascading classical piano piece, modeled a two-piece pink swimsuit and a black-and-white beaded evening gown, and answered questions in an onstage interview.

Asked whether she thought Americans are too selfish to make sacrifices to aid the environment, Harding said in the interview that she thinks Americans already are starting to do so.

Harding is the daughter of Myrna and Ron Harding and a student at Western Washington University, where she is studying elementary education, social studies and communications.

She serves on the board of Big Brothers-Big Sisters in Whatcom County and is a Big Sister.

‘She puts in hundreds of hours of community service, in whatever cause comes forward,’ said Ron Harding, Yelms mayor,” quoting The Olympian.

CONGRATULATIONS TO JANET!!!!!!

Updated with Nisqually Valley News story published July 18.


July 15, 2008

BURN BAN IN EFFECT TODAY THROUGH OCTOBER 15 IN THURSTON COUNTY

“Outdoor burning of residential materials in Thurston County is prohibited July 15 through October 15 each year. This seasonal prohibition, crafted by the Thurston County Residential Outdoor Burning Committee, has been in effect for five years. The Committee includes representatives from Thurston County, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), local fire agencies and Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA),
quoting the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) website.


July 14, 2008

‘YELM OFFICIALLY SURPASSES SMALL-TOWN STATUS’; WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?


Photo credit: Michael Bennett, Nisqually Valley News,
Picture looking east from Prairie Park to area subdivision

“Yelm has officially surpassed small-town status with a population of 5,150.

Thats just 6 percent more than the 4,845 people living in the city in 2007.
[Ed. Note: That’s 15% greater than when Mayor Harding was elected Mayor in 2005 when Yelm recorded 4,450 people.]

Once a city grows beyond 5,000 people it must have seven council members.

The city accommodated the seven-council member rule early so that all the members were up to speed on city issues when the change went into effect, according to Community and Government Relations Coordinator Cindy Teixeira.

So what does this growth mean for the future?

‘We are growing, but our growth has been planned,’ Mayor Ron Harding said.

Its not just Yelm seeing continued growth in the face of a troubling national economy.

Harding said areas in the county around Yelm are also growing and the city is working to accommodate that growth as well.

‘All those people are affecting (us),’ Harding said. ‘Were still improving our transportation system (despite all the regional traffic).’

‘I think were doing a good job.’

The city has also seen an increase in commercial growth…

Harding said he believes that it is more beneficial to have more commercial development in the area.

By offering goods and services in the city, area residents dont have to commute further.

‘Its certainly an asset,’ Harding said. ‘It does lessen the impact on our transportation system.’

The increase in growth is also beneficial for the city in that there are building fees that go toward the transportation system.

‘I think our plan is working,’ Harding said. ‘Well see greater improvements in the next few years,’
quoting the Nisqually Valley News.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR YELM’S FUTURE?

1. Suburbs Feeling the Pinch as Fuel Prices Soar
Reuters reports:
“Ever since the rise of the automobile in the 1950s, the American Dream has featured a home in the suburbs and two cars in the garage. Now the iconic white picket fence comes with a hefty price tag in the form of the cost of the gasoline needed to drive to work and to the supermarket, and the suburban idyll is under review.” quoting Truthout.

2. Housing prices tumble in June
The Olympian reported on July 10th:
“Thurston County home prices slid more than 9 percent from June 2007 to June 2008, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported, the steepest year-over-year drop this year and the largest decline South Sound real-estate experts could remember.

Broker Doug Burger, who has spent nearly 30 years in real estate, said there have been times when South Sound median prices remained flat, but they didn’t fall.

The is the first time I’ve actually seen (prices) drop, especially to this degree,” he said. “To take this kind of turn is surprising for everybody.

The combined median price for a single-family residence and condo last month was $247,000, down 9.2 percent from the $272,000 reported in June 2007, Northwest MLS data show.”

While this writer applauds Mayor Harding and the City of Yelm for their work on the side connector streets, attracting multi-national chains like Yum! Brands KFC/Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Wal-Mart have come at a cost to this town’s charm, as local business owners are struggling and even the venerable Arnold’s Country Inn closed its doors. So, the usual commercial name brands are the only ones with deep enough pockets to build here.

At what cost is the continued growth to our resources?
– potable water
– recharging the aquifer
– sewage

Mayor Harding said,
“Its not just Yelm seeing continued growth in the face of a troubling national economy.

Harding said areas in the county around Yelm are also growing and the city is working to accommodate that growth as well.”

The whole country, state & county are having a major slowdown, Mr. Mayor!

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

ARE YOU STARTING TO FEEL THE BELT TIGHTENING YOURSELF,
REGARDLESS THAT THE MAYOR DOES NOT SEE IT?

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PRICE FOR THE MAYOR’S GROWTH PLACED ON YOUR BACKS IN MORE TAXES?
– A new proposed city hall
– A new proposed recreation center
– A new library by 2012
– A school’s levy
– A new High School classroom tax potential in a few years
– A possible library levy
– A fire levy

SHARE YOUR STORIES!


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