November 30, 2008


November 7th & 8th Yelm tied the all-time high temperatures for those dates of 63 & 64 degrees.
Yelm came within one degree of the 1995 November 29th record of 59 degrees.

From AccuWeather.

November 29, 2008



This last week has seen alot of deception coming from Mayor Harding on several varied issues, which seem to be overlooked in the coverage by the city’s official newspaper of record, the Nisqually Valley News (NVN).
Where was their in-depth examination of these stories:

1. Regarding the Court decision against the City of Yelm in the water case
Mayor Harding is quoted in the November 21st NVN saying:
“Harding said the city has always proved water at final plat.”

If that is true, then why would the city have to appeal the case, since the Judge ordered the city to prove water at final plat for the 5 developments at issue?
The city has gone to court to protect its desire to have a “reasonable expectation” of water after final plat at the building permit phase, long after the developer has gone, as the Judge pointed out in Court Documents.

2. Regarding Mr. Harding labeling “…Knight ad misleading”
as quoted in his Letter to the Editor in the November 28th NVN,
Mr. Harding “called a full-page ad placed in the Nisqually Valley News by channeler JZ Knight ‘standard propaganda.’
“Harding said he doesnt want to get into a big public debate over the water issue and Knights court case, but claimed there was too much information in the ad that he believes is misleading and false.”

If that is true, then why would Mr. Harding not specify what he believes is “misleading and false.”
The Mayor mentioned nothing of what he thinks is not accurate.
His answer is the “standard denial” with no substantiation.
After all, Harding stated the city will appeal the case, though the Wa. State DOE has filed Court documents proving the City of Yelm does not have enough water for any new developments. The DOE has oversight on the city’s water rights.
Why the NVN gives front-page coverage to the Mayor’s letter without asking him what he thinks is not accurate in the ad is beyond me.

3. Regarding the Yelm public Library’s future,
Mayor Harding is quoted in the November 21 NVN saying,
“Building a new library is not an option, said Mayor Ron Harding.

As the end of the lease draws near, Harding said the citys options will be released to the public.”

In 2012, Timberland Regional Library no longer splits the library’s rent with the City of Yelm, instead all rental fees will fall to the city. In addition, the rent in the current facility goes up as announced by Margaret Clapp to the city, resulting in more than a 100% increase in library expenses to be borne by the City of Yelm, all because it doesn’t have a public library building.
Why is the Mayor waiting until near the end of the lease to release the city’s options for the library’s future to the public?
That could be too late and the city could possibly be boxed into a corner with few options by then, with no public input.

4. Regarding Mr. Harding’s comments about the Bypass to the City Council last Tuesday:
At the end of the meeting, the Mayor took questions from the Council.

Council member Don Miller asked about the status of the Bypass.

City Administrator Shelly Badger said that funding was to remain in the city’s 2009 budget for a lobbyist, so that the city can be present in the 2009 Legislature to keep the Bypass up-front with the representatives when the Transportation Funding is discussed. She said they continue to have monthly meetings with the DOT and there is a potential for a Phase One start.

Mayor Harding said that construction funding will come in early 2009 from left-over, unused right-of-way money previously allocated and he hoped construction could begin on Phase One in 2009.

The facts on the Bypass:
The WSDOT site says of r-o-w acquisition:
“The purchase of Right-of-way is underway and will continue through 2011.”

– If the r-o-w acquisition is still not completed, how does the city know what, if anything, will be left over to use for construction?
– WSDOT Olympic Region meets with the City of Yelm regularly, however about design aspects of a Phase 1, not about construction funding.
– WSDOT has no authority to make promises about construction funding – though they can share potentials.
– Regardless of what Mayor Harding is touting, there is no end-run around the legislative process. Governor Gregoire signs the next Transportation Budget prepared by the State Legislature sometimes in the first half of 2009. Until that time arrives, nothing is assured. Mr. Harding lost a champion of the Bypass with the defeat of Senator Marilyn Rasmussen. She overturned the Governor’s veto in 2008, wielding great political influence to keep the initial $33 million 2005 gas tax funding intact. With Freshman Senator Becker taking her place and major budget cuts announced by the Governor, Bypass construction funding looks even more difficult in 2009. Senator-elect Becker is a Republican who ran successfully against Democrat Rasmussen about responsible budgeting, so this will be at the forefront of the agenda as the state grapples with sharply declining revenues.
– The Wildcard in funding Bypass construction is the possibility of a Federal infrastructure stimulus package in early 2009 from the in-coming Obama Administration. However, the Bypass would be vying for funding with every other unfunded and/or underfunded road project in the state.
The Nisqually Valley News reporter was in the Council meeting, yet reported nothing on this important subject.

5. Thurston County Commissioner Diane Oberquell steps down next month. She and Mayor Harding have corroborated on many city issues for several years and her replacement voted by the public is Sandra Romero, a no-nonsense, former state legislator who is known for her stands on controlling growth, something totally opposite of Yelm’s Mayor and city officials’ proposed quadrupling of Yelm. Mrs. Romero is very familiar with the issues out here in Yelm, having paid many visits to the area during her campaign. With a major Thurston County budget deficit left from the watch of Mrs. Oberquell to get under control, look for major changes coming in Thurston County & Yelm’s relationship. Yelm’s grow-grow-grow policies could be challenged by the County, or certainly kept in check by the declining economy, regardless of Mayor Harding’s push to grow full-speed ahead.

The Thurston Highlands Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was released last Wednesday. This writer will digest the city’s response to the Draft EIS and give a full report for Yelm Community Blog readers. One chief question City Administrator Badger said in early 2007 would be answered in the EIS is how will the City be repaid for a 2/3 of a million dollar private-developer’s water study the City Council authorized paying with taxpayer monies. The City has no contract about this with Thurston Highlands’ developers, & therefore has no guarantees to be repaid if the developers pull out or do not build because of the economy.

The Protect Yelm site has taken aim at some of these stories, as well.

This month marks the required time that a 2009 Yelm Mayoral candidate must be registered to vote and live in the city limits. The Public Disclosure Commission requires a mayoral candidate has lived in the city for one year prior to the 2009 election.

As already reported in a Letter to the Editor I wrote in the Nisqually Valley News a few months ago, this writer will not run for Mayor in 2009 since I reside outside of the city limits, and will seek NO public office nor will accept any appointed, public position any further. Therefore, unless someone steps up to the plate, Mayor Harding will run unopposed in 2009, if he chooses another term.


November 28, 2008


Thurston County Fire Protection District 17 Logo
Mark Gregory, Fire Chief

The Bald Hills Fire Dept. has a new brush truck (free from the Air Force) that they will use as a “satellite” vehicle to be stationed at the home of a member pulling a shift. This added vehicle should cut response times out in the Bald Hills area, especially if folks in those outlying areas volunteer.
The department’s average response time for October, 2008 was 7.5 minutes!!!
That is much faster than even Yelm/Rainier, and is approaching Lacy’s response time.

The Bald Hills Fire Dept. service area comprising 38 square miles with a population of almost 3,000.

Information about the Bald Hills Fire Dept. can be found on

Information about the funding of the Bald Hills Fire District through a 2007 property tax levy is found on the Thurston County website.

Bald Hills gets grant
“The Bald Hills Fire Department is presented a $1,800 fire prevention grant by a representative from FM Global. The grant will be used to assist the department with fire prevention activities designed to educate
the community and reduce the number of fires,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News.


From Bill Owen, Fire Commissioner:
“Thanks for the nice “plug”. We would love to have anyone interested in either helping us out, or who have questions or ideas drop by for a visit.
We have a dinner on the first Tuesday of the month, and are open all other Tuesday evenings (7-10 PM). Also the Chief is in during “banker hours” most of the time.

The fire commissioners meet at 8 AM on the second Thursday of the month and we welcome visitors, especially if you come with suggestions how we can serve the community better.

Too many folks think that we are only interested in those people who want to volunteer as fire fighters. In fact there is a place here for everyone.
The fire house is a community facility an is available for community activities, meetings etc.
We’ll even make the coffee.

Bill Owen

November 27, 2008


Photo courtesy Victoria Harper Parsonson,
taken Nov. 6th, 2007 on Bald Hill Rd., 5 miles from Yelm

We have so much in our midst for which to be thankful, as a little girl captured so brilliantly in her diary during WWII. This story first published in 2007 reminds us of the bounty all around us:

The chestnut tree that comforted Anne Frank while she hid from the Nazis during World War II will be cut down Nov. 21 [2007] because it is too diseased to be saved, the city said Tuesday [Nov. 13, 2007]…

The Jewish teenager made several references to the tree in the diary that she kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until the family was arrested by the Nazis in August 1944…

Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.

As long as this exists, … and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies while this lasts I cannot be unhappy, quoting the AP.


November 26, 2008


Yelm Timberland Regional Library
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

The Nisqually Valley News story last week titled “TRL, city looking at library options” sure raised more questions than it answered about the future of a Library in Yelm, so much so, I wrote to Timberland Regional Library (TRL) Manager of Administrative Services Michael Crose with these observations:

Here is what I gathered from this article:

1. So, due to the TRL budget deficit, I ascertain Yelm will continue to be the only library in the entire TRL system not housed in a public facility (except the gifted facility in Montesano).

2. TRL is going to allow Yelm ANOTHER exemption to operate in a leased, private & non-public facility for some unspecified length of time. How long will TRL allow Yelm to continue to lease in a private building after 2012 — just on and on and on???

3. Staying in Prairie Park is one option and realistically the only one, since I know of no vacant building the size of the current location to house the Library were it to move.

4. Prairie Park is going to raise the rent, as it were, raising the costs in the current facility. Ouch!

5. At the end on the 2012 lease, the city takes on all of the expenses related to the Library lease, instead of splitting them with TRL for the 10-year lease. Ouch!

6. The city will not build a new library building. Ouch!

7. Mayor Harding will NOT share any of the options with the public until near the end of the lease in 2012 (assuming he is re-elected in 2009). Ouch!

Reading these 7 points, I am VERY concerned about a library here AND the fact that the public will be kept out of the loop about the future of their public library until 2012, according to the Mayor. Then City Council member Harding (elected in Nov., 2001) and the rest of the council heard in 2001 the Yelm Library was given an exemption beginning in 2002 to operate in a leased facility for 10 years, even at protestation from some TRL libraries who followed the rules and operated in a public facility.
The council did little to nothing in all of that time.
With the Mayor speaking untruths in the newspaper last Friday about a recent lawsuit the city lost and now other issues facing this city (from an unfunded Bypass, to having a vote to raise taxes last night, to a Superior Court Judge imposed mandate to halt the city issuing building permits in 5 subdivisions, to the State Dept. of Ecology telling the city they have gone over their water rights and have no water available for further building, to traffic that still has not been properly mitigated), I have NO confidence that there will be anything done about the library, except to remain where it is and pay the higher rent, all the while giving lip service to this issue until 2012 approaches. And clearly the Mayor and City Council do not get the Library Board involved and basically ignore this group and their mandate on the city’s website. CLICK HERE, then Citizen Committees, then Library Board.

A Yelm public library building has never been a priority with this Mayor and this issue’s fate seemed sealed years ago! Now, he will not tell the public of the city’s options until near the end of the current lease?
Why not NOW!
Why not get the public involved in the PUBLIC Library!

If I were still involved, I would NOT wait for the Mayor to announce the city’s options prior to the lease end in 2012, I would move to get a public building built here.
I know it can be done, even with the economic downturn.
I would immediately convene a group made up of the Schorno’s, Williams, Margaret Clapp, Edwards, Browns, JZ Knight, Nutters, Glen Cunningham, Kleins, Steve Craig, Keven Graves, Yelm Chamber Board and a few others and use all of the energies devoted to polarization here pointed for a common community goal and get this talented collective working together to pull their muscle to build a permanent public Yelm Library. This is my wish list, however I do not see that happening.

I think the NVN’s story points to some very big issues for our Yelm Library, where the City seems to have shoved them under the carpet to near lease end. Either privatize the library or make an effort for a public building; otherwise, the city is again using property-tax-collected, public monies to pay exorbitant rent for a public facility in a privately-owned building.

As one Yelm Blog reader wrote,
“As you know, TRL is experiencing financial cutbacks and a levy lid lift is scheduled for a vote in February. The library is now closed on Monday and although the Yelm Library core staff has not be cut back, their use of substitutes has been restricted. [Correction: the Yelm Library is now closed on Sundays, not Mondays. Open M-Th, 11-8, F/Sat. 11-5.]

Now, more than ever, people without jobs (and internet access) need the library’s resources. But their concerns about their own income and the continually rising costs of basic necessities may force them to vote against this lid lift. Will Yelm be faced with the same choice Roy is having to make….choose your library or your police force.

I don’t have the answer. I’m just one of the many people who live in this area existing on the edges just above poverty level and working a part-time job in town.”

This American Library Assn. article speaks volumes on this issue facing America’s Libraries.

TRL can do nothing without the cooperation of City Hall!

A music program is coming up in December: “Classical Guitar Music from around the World,” with guitarist Meredith Connie. You can sample her music at
Thursday, December 4, 7-8pm.
Check-out all of the Yelm Library events. CLICK HERE
then your month and check the Yelm location box.

And this story from the Nov. 14th NVN.
Library program expands local youths world view


November 25, 2008


On the City Council Agenda tonight:

1. Ordinance No. 896 Ad Valorem [in proportion to the value] Property Tax to add 1% to property taxes.

2. Ordinance No. 893 Year End Budget Amendment
to amend the 2008 by almost $2 million dollars.

Won’t you come out tonight and share your views with Mayor Harding & the City Council, who are looking after Yelm property owners’ future with the 2009-2010 budget?


With only myself as the Yelm Community Blog host, the NVN reporter and city Staff, there was only one other person in the audience. All issues passed, except the Budget Public Hearing will remain open for comment through Dec. 9th. E-mail, snail mail or voice your comment in person by Dec. 9th.

I mentioned several items that will have a detrimental impact on revenues in 2009, and the City Council may want to look at lowering their revenue projections. These stories highlight what I mentioned that will all mean less money in city coffers here:
New home sales fall to slowest pace since 1991

Meltdown far from over, new mortgage crisis looms

New jobless claims drop from 16-year high

New crisis in commercial real estate looms

I also mentioned the zero-down home being sold in Yelm has its days numbered, since banks and mortgage companies now require 20-25% down in cash.
These factors should be considered.

Unemployment, home sales dropping, home prices dropping, home assessments dropping, sales declines leading to less sales tax all will impact revenue.

Interesting that the Nisqually Valley News chose NOT to print any of these stories from the City Council meeting, though a reporter was at the session.

This month marks the required time that a Yelm 2009 Mayoral candidate must be registered to vote and live in the city limits. The Public Disclosure Commission insures a mayoral candidate has lived in the city for one year prior to the 2009 election.

As already reported in the Nisqually Valley News a few months ago, this writer is not eligible to run for Mayor since I reside outside of the city limits, and will seek NO public office nor will accept any appointed position.

November 24, 2008


Christian Hill covers Lacey and Thurston County for The Olympian & penned this thorough report in today’s editions:

Judge says Yelm must prove it has water
Condition placed by city on subdivisions ruled illegal

“The city has lost the latest round in an apparent precedent-setting case that will determine when and to what level a city must prove it has the water to serve a planned development.

Yelm Mayor Ron Harding said Friday the city will appeal a ruling that overturns its preliminary approval of five subdivisions totaling 568 homes, townhomes and condominiums.

Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham ruled a condition placed on the preliminary approval of the subdivisions violated state law. The condition allowed the city to wait until someone applied for a building permit to prove it had enough water to serve the proposed development. He determined the city must show that proof earlier in the land-use process.

The final outcome could have statewide implications as cities continue to grow and drinking water becomes more scarce.

Channeler JZ Knight challenged the approval of the subdivisions on the basis the city did not have sufficient water to serve them and that could affect future development of her property.

The issues

The court challenge eventually focused on two questions: May the city of Yelm continue the practice of waiting until an individual requested a building permit to provide proof it has enough water to serve the proposed development? What level of proof must be shown?…

Yelm reaction

Yelm city officials said Wickham exceeded his authority by making a ruling on a action that has yet to occur, namely consideration of the final plat approval for the subdivisions.

They argued that, if upheld, his ruling means cities would have to “bank,” or set aside water, even for property that may never develop.

“If it falls on Yelm, it’s going to affect other cities,” City Administrator Shelly Badger said of the ramifications of such a ruling.

Ecology position

The state Department of Ecology, which regulates the public waters in the state, sided with Knight in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the challenge.

The state agency said it’s important “the cart does not get before the horse” by cities approving subdivisions without securing the water to serve them.

“Having water in place early in the process would also eliminate the possibility of a lot owner’s expectations being dashed and his or her investment being stranded because there is no water to serve the actual lot,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Maia Bellon, representing the agency…

Yelm water history

Wickham also ruled the city was pumping more water than it had legal right since 2001 and doesn’t have sufficient water rights to serve the five new subdivisions…

In its brief, Ecology noted one reason it was participating in the lawsuit was to prevent possible water rights violations by the city.

The two sides have reached agreement that the city will pump not more than 796 acre-feet this year, a limit Badger said the city is on pace to stay within. That limit would not provide enough water to serve the five subdivisions.

“Our job is to get people in compliance, and they are in compliance to the best of our knowledge. That’s success for us,” said Tom Loranger, water resources manager Ecology’s southwest regional office.”

November 23, 2008


From the Yelm Community Blog of May 24, 2008:

Last year on Friday, July 20, the Nisqually Valley News reported about Yelm’s new Wal-Mart opening and noted the official opening on July 18, 2007. The City of Yelm said then about the store’s requirements to mitigate traffic, “Wal-Mart will also pave 103rd Avenue from Creek Street to the new connection, which must be built within 10 months of the store’s opening.”

That 10 months was up on May 19, 2008…

Not seeing any connector, this writer wrote to Yelm’s Community and Government Relations Coordinator
Cindy Teixeira for an update for Yelm Community blog readers.

Here is her response:

“The land use approval and MDNS required the connector be constructed within 18 months of the purchase of the right of way. The State DOT closed on the property June 22, 2007, with the deadline being November 22, 2008. Wal-Mart contributed nearly $220,000 to the purchase of the right-of-way and the construction plans are in for review.

Wal-Mart has also submitted a letter of credit toward construction of the connector road.”

UPDATE: November 22, 2008
NOVEMBER 22, 2008 has come and gone and not seeing any construction on this connector last week, I again wrote to Yelm’s Community and Government Relations Coordinator Cindy Teixeira for an update. Lately, I have received NO answers from the City to my requests for information and this one is no exception. What is one to conclude when the City does not address these kind of issues, regardless of their opinion of me? What else are they hiding from the public? The only option left to get the City to answer is to paper them with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, to which by law, they must respond!

To reiterate, the Yelm Wal-Mart was ONLY permitted to be built by using the Yelm Bypass to mitigate its traffic.
The connector to 103rd was supposed to assist in that until the Bypass is built. As has been reported here ad nauseum, the Bypass was unfunded then and now and may be unavailable to mitigate Wal-mart’s traffic for 8-10 years after the Superstore opened in 2007. Why was Wal-Mart allowed to be built with an unfunded Bypass to mitigate its traffic?




November 22, 2008


Greetings Community,

Join us on Sunday, November 23rd @ 4pm at Gordon’s Grange in Yelm.

(Downtown Yelm, beside Gordon’s Garden Centers Patio & Gift Shop, 308 Yelm Ave East)

Doors open at 3:30pm, Please Kindly Arrive Early as we will start Prompt!

Here is our Basic Agenda:

~ Richard from Survival Center discussing the Ham Radio ARRL Amateur Licensing Class he attended in October.

~ Teri Simpson (formally Optimum Preparedness) discussing Basic CBs & Single Side Band Radios (12 Watts) along with some good Antenna options.

~ Liza Bennett discussing Building your own Satellite Communities in 1-2 mile radius of your home. Also, CPR & Fist Aid Classes in our area.

~ Who is serious about getting a CB Radio (or pulling the one you have out & dusting it off) to use and test within your community.

~ Also, available is another Ham Radio Class in Centralia on Sunday, November 30th ~ Information at our meeting

~ Open to Questions, Sharing Additional Information, Show and Tell with CBs and what is the Next Step for this Group

Please let me know this week you are Attending and Thanks so much. Liza

Liza Bennett
EarthWave Living, LLC

November 21, 2008



The Nisqually Valley News reported in their November 21st edition a front page story titled “City to appeal ruling on Yelm subdivisions” where Mayor Harding says in the story,
“the city will continue to do business as usual.” Yet Judge Chris Wickham told the City of Yelm they did not have the water rights to issue any further building permits, least of all in the 5 subdivisions in the case brought by JZ Knight.

To continue to do business as usual means the City will be in Contempt of Court if they issue any building permits in the 5 subdivisions of Tahoma Terra Phase II, Divisions 5 & 6; Windshadow I; Windshadow II; Wyndstone; and Berry Valley I, which would have brought 568 new homes to Yelm.

Mayor Harding said in the same story,
“…the city will not reapprove the subdivisions before the city has appealed the judge’s decision.”
“I feel bad because it’s a waste of the city’s resources, when really this is on the hearing examiner’s decision.”
[Ed. Note: Therefore, no building permits will be issued the 5 aforementioned subdivisions. The Mayor and city officials keep using city resources to defend a stand that is not consistent with the laws of Washington State nor their own city’s Municipal Code, as pointed out by Judge Wickham.].

The Court said the hearing examiner’s decision must be changed to follow the law, covered here previously. The City did not follow the laws of the State of Washington Water Code, the RCW or the Yelm Municipal Code, ACCORDING TO THE COURT & remanded the case back to the City & the hearing examiner to follow the State’s laws.
Read the Court documents for yourself. Click Here

Further, Mayor Harding actually is quoted speaking untruths when he said to the NVN,
“Harding said the city has always proved water at final plat.”

Mr. Harding, such is NOT the case, as I sat in Court and listened to City Attorney Richard Settle argue for the city’s stand to prove water at the building permit phase, rather than final plat AND you know that to be true, which is documented in Court filings! You and the City Council rejected Ms. Knight’s case before the city in 2007, arguing a “reasonable expectation” of water only at the building permit phase is all that is required. That’s why this case went to Thurston County Superior Court – to get to the truth on when the city must provide adequate water.

Mr. Harding, you even said yourself about providing water at he building permit phase in the City’s Press Release of October 10th:
The City of Yelm is pleased with Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickhams decision to deny JZ Knights request to overturn preliminary land use approvals for five separate subdivisions in the City.”

“‘To set aside water rights at a time other than building permit does not make sense. In essence, the City would have to set aside water for lots that might not ever be developed,’ said Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, who is happy with the decision.

‘If the judge had agreed with Knight,’ Harding explained, ‘all growth in Yelm, including the construction of new homes and businesses would stop.’

Then on November 14th in the NVN:
City officials say they arent pleased with how JZ Knights land use appeal on five area subdivisions was handled in Thurston County Superior Court.”

Bottom line: new construction in these 5 subdivisions is now halted and what the Mayor said is totally false:
“Harding said the city has always proved water at final plat.”
Reason this: If this statement by Mayor Harding were true, then there would be nothing for the City to appeal, since Judge Wickham ruled water must be proven at final plat!

Mr. Mayor, your continued dishonesty to the city is a travesty and I told you so in the City Council on October 28th.

As the NVN article stated correctly,
“The judge’s order not only reverses approval of the subdivisions, but it sets a precedent that water must be proven at final plat approval.”

The State Dept. of Ecology and other State agencies are watching this case closely as a precedent setting vehicle in other municipalities’ water issues.

Further, from the NVN, “Knight calls sewer claims retaliation by Yelm developers”

And, “Trespassing charges against former JZ spokesman dropped“.

On April 28, 2006, The Olympian reported this about Lacey’s water issues,
“Last June, the city imposed a de facto moratorium on new development within its urban growth area because it is rapidly running out of water its authorized to withdraw.”

Is Yelm next for a moratorium on new development for lack of water?


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