September 21, 2009

WAL-MART CONNECTOR TO 103RD UNDER CONSTRUCTION – FINALLY!

More than two years after right-of-way acquisition was completed, construction is underway on the connector to 103rd Avenue from Wal-Mart…

When the city approved the construction of Wal-Mart, the superstore was required to build the connector.

One of the stipulations was that the connector had to be built 18 months after right-of-way was purchased, Beck said.

Right-of-way acquisition was completed in July 2007.

The permit process to allow Wal-Mart to start construction on the connector was completed in December 2008.

Construction was originally slated to begin late March or early April.

Delays to the permit process were cited as reasons for the hold-up.
[Beck finally admitted contacting WSDOT on September 4, 2008 about the permit, which was to be issued by mid Sept., 2008, as reported in the NVN November 23rd, 2008, though the NVN omits telling you that in this story! Why did Beck wait to call WSDOT in September, 2008 and not earlier in the year; his call coming two months before the MDNS required the connector to be built by November 22, 2008? Why didn’t the NVN ask this question for this story? HMMM!]

The city was going to negotiate the right-of-way purchase, but the Washington State Department of Transportation took the lead, Beck said.
[Ed. Note: Don’t let THIS sentence fool you in this story! This is Mr. Beck mixing “apples with grapefruits” to keep the public & the NVN readers in the dark, as is his modus-operandi, IMHO! “Right-of-way acquisition was completed in July 2007″ and had nothing to do with the construction delay.]…

The road will add to the mini loop project, connecting to 103rd Avenue…

Once the Yelm Bypass is constructed, the connector will be ripped out and replaced to become part of the bypass,” quoting the NVN

[Ed. Note: Don’t expect a Phase 2 Bypass anytime soon that comes to Wal-Mart’s door though. The city requested WSDOT divert engineering & right-of-way acquisition funding from the Wal-Mart end Phase 2 of the road to the Yelm High School Bypass 1.1 mile Phase 1, so construction there could begin. There is no funding now for Phase 2 and the Governor has postponed any funding in the budget for Phase 2 until the 2021-2023 biennium. With the state’s shortfall of $238,000,000, I would not look for funding anytime soon for a Bypass at Wal-Mart’s door, a Bypass that was required within 7 years of Wal-Mart’s opening to give Wal-Mart approval for opening here.]


September 20, 2009

RAINIER FOOD BANK CAN USE YOUR GARDEN SURPLUS

The RAINIER FOOD BANK can use your over-abundance of garden vegetables, fruits and other food donations.
The Food Bank serves approximately 100 families each week.

Open: Wednesdays and Saturdays
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon
207 Centre St., Rainier

For more information go to this website:
http://www.rainierhistoricalsociety.org/FoodBank.html


September 19, 2009

YELM VETERINARY HOSPITAL’S PET FAIR THIS SUNDAY!

You are invited to:

Yelm Veterinary Hospital’s
PET FAIR & OPEN HOUSE

Sunday, September 20th
10am – 2pm
1120 Yelm Ave. W.

“Numerous Vendors for pet products and services. Exhibitions in canine obedience, field trails, flyball, herding and breed showcase. Per information booths, Door prizes and drawings! Come get behind the scenes of the veterinary hospital.
Facepainting for the kids!” quoting their flier.

UPDATE: September 21, 2009
The Olympian was here for the Pet Fair as reported in their September 21st editions:
“First Pet Fair kicks off in Yelm”
“animals: Organizers work to promote happy companions”


September 19, 2009

“VENTURE FINANCIAL GROUP TO DISTRIBUTE ASSETS”

“Venture Financial Groups board of directors say they will evaluate options for winding down the company and also plan to contact creditors about distributing remaining assets, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week.
Venture Financial is the former bank-holding company for Venture Bank, the 30-year-old community bank that was closed by state and federal regulators and sold to First-Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of North Carolina last week. First Citizens bought only the bank and not the bank-holding company, but the bank apparently is not the only asset owned by Venture Financial, according to Thursdays SEC filing.

The filing shows that Venture Financial has assets of $2.5 million in cash and cash equivalents and liabilities of nearly $30 million. The company liabilities are $22.7 million in junior subordinated debt, accrued and unpaid interest of $800,000 and known contractual and other obligations of approximately $6 million, according to the filing…

On Friday [Sept. 18], investor Jim Slopak of Yelm, said he lost at least $8,000. Slopak, 67, said he and his wife invested the money in 1997 into Prairie Security Bank, a bank later acquired by an early version of Venture Bank called First Community Bank. First Community changed its name to Venture Bank in 2003.

Slopak said he and his wife occasionally received dividend checks, but he didnt have a clear idea of how his investment had changed in value over the years. Shares in Venture were traded through a transfer agent and were not available through a public stock exchange.

I never received anything that said (the investment) is worth X amount of dollars, Slopak said, although he does recall receiving letters that there was more stock available to buy. Ellen Munson of Lacey said she lost her investment in the bank and company, an investment that at one time was valued at about $42,000.

Since Venture Banks closure, Slopak has called Venture Financials investor relations telephone number three times without response, he said. First Citizens Bank spokeswoman Barbara Thompson also referred The Olympian to the same phone number to get questions answered about Venture Financial Group.

Slopak says his next step is to write off his investment loss on his income taxes. ‘Thats all I can do,’ he said. ‘They go out of business and youre left holding the bag,’ quoting The Olympian.


September 18, 2009

“COUNTY PROPERTY VALUES FALL” & STATE “REVENUE FORECAST SHOWS $238 MILLION DROP”

County property values fall $1.24 billion
Assessments: Many homeowners will get revaluation notices

“The total assessed value of real property in Thurston County dropped by more than $1 billion as the malaise afflicting the housing market took firm hold this year.

The Thurston County Assessors Office will mail out revaluation notices today to about 122,500 property owners who saw a change in the value of their property. The assessment is one factor used to determine the amount of taxes property owners must pay next year. The deadline for appeals is Oct. 20,” quoting The Olympian.

Revenue forecast shows $238 million drop; special session unlikely

“Revenue forecaster Arun Raha of the Office of the Economic and Revenue Forecast repeated his view today that the recession appears over, but that state revenues will be lower than he expected in June…

His new September report says revenue collections through June 30 were $6.8 million less than expected in his June forecast. It goes on to make another $230.9 million downward adjustment in the expected level of revenue through June 2011, pegging that at $29.6 billion for the two-year budget period…

The new revenue numbers mean that the state will be $200 million in the red by June 2011, even with the state’s Rainy Day fund money used to balance books. Moore said the state would need about $750 million to $1 billion in new revenue to bring the state out of red ink and to an appropriate level of finances, but he did not call for raising revenues,” quoting The Olympian.

WITH THE STATE REVENUES DROPPING, WHEN WILL WE HEAR ABOUT MORE REVENUE DROPS FOR THE CITY OF YELM, TOO?


September 17, 2009

MEET COUNTY COMMISSIONER & CANDIDATE KAREN VALENZUELA – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC


Incumbent District 3 County Commissioner Candidate Karen Valenzuela

Youre invited to meet County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela
&
Thurston County District 3 Candidate for the countywide election
Join us Friday, Oct. 2nd
7-8:30pm
Blue Bottle Caf
309 E Yelm Ave.

GOV. GREGOIRE APPOINTED VALENZUELA TO FILL VACANT SEAT
“Gregoire’s appointment of Valenzuela marked the end of a two-month process to find the successor for former commissioner Bob Macleod that started with the Thurston County Democratic Party, passed briefly to the two county commissioners and ended at the governor’s office,” quoting The Olympian last January.

VALENZUELA WAS TOP VOTE-GETTER IN AUGUST PRIMARY

“Valenzuela polled 44.5 percent of the 10,219 votes counted election night,” quoting The Olympian.

VALENZUELA’S ACTION PLAN
“I have a five-point action plan that I am already at work on:

1. Bring sanity to the budget

2. Return to the letter and spirit of the growth management act

3. Confront climate change

4. Re-engage in Human Services partnerships

5. Work on inter-jurisdictional cooperation

Please support me this November in the special election to fill the remainder of the term to which I was appointed.”

Hosted by Blue Bottle Caf
& the
Yelm Community Blog

For information,
karenvalenzuela.com

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!


September 16, 2009

WHAT HAPPENS NOW TO VENTURE FINANCIAL GROUP – HOLDING CO. FOR FORMER VENTURE BANK?

“Others want to know how stockholders will be affected.

Investor Tom Lloyd of Olympia, a banker for 44 years who worked for First Community Bank before it evolved into Venture Bank, wondered Tuesday [Sept. 15] what happened to his stock in Venture Financial Group. A spokesperson for Venture Financial could not be reached.

First Citizens did not acquire Venture Financial, the bank-holding company for Venture Bank, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. regulates only banks and not bank-holding companies. Bank-holding companies are regulated by the Federal Reserve.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, once a bank closes, the bank-holding company ceases to exist as a bank-holding company, although it does exist as a regular corporation. If the corporation has assets and liabilities to pay, it can voluntarily or involuntarily file for bankruptcy protection,” quoting The Olympian.

“FATE OF VENTURE FINANCIAL REMAINS UNCLEAR”
From the Business Examiner


September 16, 2009

“HEALTH DEPT. & SCHOOLS GEAR UP FOR THE FLU”


Dispatch reporter Bruce Smith
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

This story was filed by Bruce Smith of the South Pierce County Dispatch:

Embracing the notion that safety is the best medicine, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) is partnering with school districts county-wide to develop an immunization program against the swine flu virus for all students, teachers and staff. Contingency plans are also being developed for inoculating younger children and family members, and even expanding the program to include the general public.

“A world-wide flu pandemic has been declared by the World Health Organization,” Joby Winans, spokesperson for the Health Department announced last week. Winans said that this Level 6 alert reflected the novel, unpredictable nature of the H1N1 virus, and its demonstrated ability to easily infect millions of people worldwide.

“However, the H1N1 swine flu virus has not intensified in the Southern Hemisphere during their winter months,” Winans stressed, “and it is certainly not comparable to the deadly 1919 world pandemic.”

Winans said that the H1N1 swine flu virus visited the Puget Sound region last spring, with an impact no different than a regular, seasonal flu.

“Thirty-two people were hospitalized in Pierce County last spring with swine flu, and four of them died,” Winans said. “That’s compared to 36,000 deaths nation-wide from regular flu, annually.”

In response, the TPCHD conducted summer planning sessions with school officials to prepare for the anticipated return of the swine flu.

Krista Carlson, Bethel’s Communication Director, said the district is considering multiple options, such as sending students and staff to an authorized vaccination center, or allowing immunizations to be administered at school sites.

Evening and weekend hours are also being considered so that the program can include families and local communities.

In addition, Winans said that workplace vaccinations are another possibility.However, she said that all inoculations will be voluntary.

The swine flu vaccination will be given in a two-step process with a 21 to 28-day interim.

Carlson said, “Three flu shots are recommended this year. One vaccine is needed for the regular seasonal flu and two more are necessary to protect against the H1N1 virus.”

Winans said that TPCHD will fund the vaccinations via a federal stimulus grant, but they have requested school districts provide at least a portion of their nursing staff to assist in administering the vaccinations.

Carlson said the inoculations will be delivered by injection, or inhalation of a “flu mist.”

One of the novelties of the H1N1 swine flu virus is that it impacts younger people & children as young as 6 months and especially targets young adults up to 24 years.

Winans said she expects her department to launch its immunization program by the end of October.”

Printed here in-full with permission.


September 15, 2009

WORKSHOPS OFFERED ON SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES

Some great, FREE, workshops for businesses are coming up.
Two Upcoming Workshops Outline the Benefits of Sustainable Business Practices


1. Energy and Transportation – Green Business Practices

Wednesday, September 16
7:30-9:00am
Puget Sound Energy
2711 Pacific Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98501

Representatives from Puget Sound Energy and Intercity Transit will focus on how and why your decisions about energy and transportation choices can further your sustainable business plans.

To register visit www.ThurstonChamber.com/green or call (360) 357-3362.

2. The Benefits of Buying and Selling Green
Wednesday, October 21
7:30-9:00am
Puget Sound Energy
2711 Pacific Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98501

Representatives from Thurston County, Providence Health & Services, and The Artisans Group will outline the benefits of buying and selling sustainable products, including cost savings, environmental benefit, and new selling opportunities.

To register visit www.ThurstonChamber.com/green or call (360) 357-3362.

Thurston Green Business
Thurston Green Business is a Partnership Program Between the Thurston County Chamber, the City of Lacey, the City of Olympia and Thurston County. Program sponsors include LeMay, Inc., Puget Sound Energy, Olympia Federal Savings, LOTT Alliance, and Intercity Transit.


September 14, 2009

VENTURE BANK UPDATE

SEE THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG’S STORY ON THE VENTURE BANK FAILURE FROM LAST SATURDAY
including information from the FDIC and warnings earlier this year about Venture Bank’s deterioration.
Click here

“As for the status of Venture Financial Group Inc., the company that owned Venture Bank, she [First Citizens, Venture Bank’s new owners’ spokeswoman Barbara Thompson]. She also said Arneson [Venture Bank President and Chief Executive Jim Arneson] no longer is with the bank. As for the status of Venture Financial Group Inc., the company that owned Venture Bank, she said said she couldnt say because First Citizens acquired only Venture Bank. She also had no information about Venture Financial Chairman Ken Parsons Sr. or how Venture stockholders might be affected by the bank sale…

Parsons [Venture Financial Chairman Ken Parsons Sr] is the chairman of the board of trustees at Saint Martins University, Arneson is on the board at the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, and Joseph Beaulieu, vice president of marketing at Venture, is the board president for the Thurston County Economic Development Council. It was not clear Sunday whether they would continue to serve in those roles…

“Yerrington [South Sound Bank President and CEO Dan Yerrington], a longtime South Sound banker, added that when Venture Bank closed, it felt like ‘a death in the family,'” quoting today’s Olympian.

ED. NOTE:
I have the same sentiments as Mr. Yerrington. I moved here 21 years ago this week from San Francisco and found two Washington State-based bank branches in Yelm; Prairie Security Bank and Puget Sound Bank. First Community Bank opened a branch here in the mid-1990’s. Puget Sound Bank was subsequently purchased by Ohio-based Key Bank. First Community Bank [Venture’s previous name] acquired Prairie Security Bank in 1997. Now, another Yelm bank branch [Venture] is owned by a national conglomerate, leaving Timberland Bank with the only Washington State-based bank branch left in Yelm.
My Letter to then-Venture Bank President in July, 2004

Then I wrote this on Kleiner’s Korner March 7, 2005:
“OF LOCAL NOTE
This writer mentioned to KK readers last year that he was closing his Venture Bank (Yelm) account because of the bank president’s stand on moving forward with a proposal to attract a NASCAR track to Yelm as a private venture yet including no public input, with the opening lines of the proposal saying they represented the community. The lack of regard for the public in this action was a travesty to the very taxpayers that would foot the price tag, in this writer’s opinion. This was the only way I felt I could get this man’s attention. Now comes word that the Venture Bank Board has fired Jon Jones for what was called a “lack of confidence in his (Jones’) decision-making,” which is consistent with his lack of judgment in his NASCAR proposal. I went in to reopen an account at Venture last week as I felt this issue was complete, where I was informed Mr. Jones had previously been released from his post [for having an affair against company policy with a management executive], as reported in The Olympian. Ah, timing!”
The Seattle Times link on Mr. Jones firing.

UPDATE
Venture acknowledges ‘little hope’
“In a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission today, Venture Financial Group Inc., the holding company for the former Venture Bank, reported that its board of directors will be discussing soon a winding down of the corporate affairs.

The holding company lost most of its assets when state regulators closed the bank last Friday [Sept. 11] and federal bank overseers sold it to First-Citizens Bank and Trust of North Carolina…

Shareholders this week received their own letter from Venture Financial, suggesting that they make plans with their personal investment advisors to realize a total loss of their investment in common stock issued by Venture Financial,” quoting the Business Examiner.

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 18TH

“‘We believe all value in the shares of the parent company, Venture Financial Group, has been irretrievably lost,’ said Venture Chairman Ken F. Parsons, Sr. in a Sept. 12 letter to its shareholders.

‘The corporation is insolvent and is unable to file financial reports for the fiscal years 2008 and 2009.’

The Washington Department of Financial Institutions closed the bank, citing inadequate capital and severe loan losses.

‘We recommend you consult your tax advisor to determine how this loss may impact you,’ the Venture letter said, quoting the NVN.

Ed. Note: Had not even filed a financial report for fiscal 2008? HMMM!

UPDATE: JANUARY 9, 2010
“$50K average loss, says Venture suit”
“Courts: Unnecessarily risky investments alleged”
“About 250 Venture Financial Group employees who were invested in retirement plans that held company stock lost an average of nearly $50,000 each during a key period before Venture Financial’s primary asset, Venture Bank, closed.

Thats according to Andrew Volk, an attorney at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the Seattle-based law firm that filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court last month on behalf of employees against Venture Financial Group and its former directors…

Since the filing, some directors have acknowledged receiving the lawsuit, Volk said. They are A. Richard Panowicz, Catherine Mosby, Patricia Graves, Keith Brewe, Sandra Sager and Larry Schorno. Those pending are Ken Parsons Sr., Jim Arneson, Lowell Bridges, Linda Buckner, Patrick Martin and Jewell Manspeaker,” quoting The Olympian.


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