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I have been impressed with the fine investigative reporting on challenging area issues Olympian reporter Christian Hill has penned – so much so I wrote him a note after yesterday’s report in The Olympian on the Tumwater Brewery’s declining viability. I am sharing this with all of you, as this correlates with Yelm’s own situation:

Dear Mr. Hill,

I can always tell when you have written a story –
I have noticed you do your homework and delve into many aspects of a featured article.
I appreciate that.

This paragraph in the brewery story [Sunday, June 28th front page of The Olympian] is very astute on your part:
“Its a story etched in misfortune. A big corporation shuts down the century-old brewery, saying its no longer profitable. A start-up company, All American Bottled Water Corp., led by a chief executive with big dreams and virtually no business acumen, picks up the property for a song. That executive, L. Eric Whetstone, runs the business into the ground, leaving creditors on the hook for millions in unpaid bills after refinancing falls through and his criminal past as a scam artist is exposed in this newspaper. Creditors force the company and property into bankruptcy. A year of litigation and one unsuccessful offer for the property follow; then the lenders seize control of the property. They foreclose on it and put up a For sale sign.

And there it sits.”

Unfortunately, this is also indicative that banks and lenders just did not vet and due diligence on their developers, prior to the downturn that in-turn, contributed to that very economic downturn.

We know that well out here in Yelm with the bright-eyed dream of a 5,000 home development (15,000-20,000 more people) proposed for a town of 5,000, with little foresight given to environmental, water, traffic, groundwater recharge and other costs to the public, as “city fathers” tripped over each other shoving those issues aside all-the-while salivating at the prospect of supporting Mayor Harding’s “…stance in recent years for growth to pay for growth,” as he told the NVN printed on April 17th, 2009.

As I always said, none of Yelm’s leaders took an Economic 101 class to know that when the music [growth] stopped, someone was going to be without a chair [money to continue to pay for the infrastructure of what that growth required] with such short vision. [Ed. Note: Nor did they listen to and heed the public.] That happened and now Yelm taxpayers are left with $1.6 million in debt for the Golf Course well, almost $200 thousand in unpaid invoices and back-taxes owed to the city by the developers, and a [proposed] $71 million Yelm-taxpayer tab that begins with water rate hikes July 1st in an unapproved Water System Plan [with an option] to pay a Master Planned Community’s (MPC) water needs.

You have reported several aspects of that excellently, from the water case against the City of Yelm to the Thurston Highlands default and subsequent debt burden left to Yelm taxpayers.

I just had to write to acknowledge your work!

Most sincerely,

Steve Klein

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2009 at 5:34 am | Permalink

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