This area’s new County Commissioner Sandra Romero and her delightful assistant Lisa Paribello came to Yelm on Monday, January 19th for what is promised to be a regular “community coffee” session open to the public. The meeting was an opportunity for Mrs. Romero to listen and solicit suggestions, ideas and concerns as she seeks a forum with Yelm area constituents.
I must say this writer found Mrs. Romero to be a breath of fresh air with her enthusiasm and attitude of the challenges she inherited in her post viewed as opportunities to make progress and changes.
About a 1/2 dozen area citizens came and had a lively exchange on topics that included, yet were not limited to:
– A request for Mrs. Romero to explain why the Governor got involved on the 3rd open position Commissioner replacement.
– An explanation to Mrs. Romero that the City of Yelm’s Comprehensive Traffic Plan was rejected by the Thurston County Planning Commission and was overridden by the Commissioners. Mrs. Romero was told her help about the Yelm traffic issue was going to be important.
– Mrs. Romero said that the City of Yelm & WSDOT are looking at dividing the Yelm Bypass into two phases and push funding for the Western Phase only, from Cullen Rd. to just before Southworth Elementary, the so-called Yelm High School Bypass. That would leave the rest of the Bypass funding to approximately 2021. I reminded Mrs. Romero that the Yelm Wal-Mart was allowed to be built only with their traffic mitigated with a Yelm Bypass. Since this is not now going to happen, I asked her about rejecting any permit application that uses an unfunded road to mitigate traffic. She mentioned she was going to be looking at the concurrency issue relating to this.
[CORRECTION: When on the topic of the Bypass, this writer & not Mrs. Romero brought up that the City of Yelm & WSDOT are looking at dividing the Yelm Bypass into two phases and push funding for the Western Phase only. I apologize to Mrs. Romero for the error. However, prompted by the Bypass discussion at the gathering, I contacted SR510 Yelm Loop Project Engineer Dennis Engel asking questions about several issues. Mr. Engel’s reply was posted on the January 24th Blog entry.]
– Mrs. Romero informed the group that 75% of the County Commissioners’ budget deals with correctional expenses.
– There may have to be more cuts than previously announced. The current budget deficit is $4 million and may get larger.
– Mrs. Romero was reminded that the City of Yelm Mayor Ron Harding has stated that the traffic issue in Yelm is 60% created from county growth, not Yelm. There will have to be some understanding between the new Commissioners and Yelm.
– There was an interchange about the water aquifer, Yelm’s limited water rights to be agreed upon with the Dept. of Ecology later this month.
What was very telling about this meeting was that the local newspaper of record the NVN, nor any city official were present for the first of these local gatherings. Granted, the session was on a national holiday, however since most had the day off, one would have thought there would have been more participation. Not even the City’s Community and Government Relations Coordinator came out to welcome Mrs. Romero to town!
Mrs. Romero will be back again soon and again, the meeting will once again be announced on Yelm’s Community Blog!