June 21, 2010

WAS YELM CITY COUNCIL MISLED IN FUNDING A $615,000 PROJECT?


City’s Test Well drilling at end of Tahoma Blvd., now Union Holdings, LLC property
Courtesy of the Yelm Community Blog

I wrote this letter to Yelm City Council member John Thompson on May 25, 2010.
Of course, I received no reply, however wish to bring this issue out into the open:

Dear John,

On April 13th, prior to the Yelm City Council approving a $615,223 expenditure to dig a test/production well on what was stated as Tahoma Terra property, you asked City Administrator Shelly Badger if the city owned that property on which the well would be drilled.

Badger responded on-the-record to your question and I quote:
“We also, in addition to that, have approval from the property owner to conduct the drilling activity. But ultimately, yes, it is owned by the city. ”

I verified the exact parcel on which the well will be placed under a Public Documents request.
The city responded that the parcel is #78640000024.

Thurston County Assessor records show this parcel is owned by:
UNION STREET HOLDINGS LLC
Address: 2000 TWO UNION SQ
City: SEATTLE
State: WA, 98101-2326

The Thurston County Recorder shows the deed for this property was recorded to this owner on April 13, 2010 [just three hours prior to the Council meeting, with the deed transferred from Tahoma Terra’s trustee to the bank, on property that had been in foreclosure].
CLICK HERE for Thurston County Recorder’s Office showing the April 13, 2010 deed to Union Holdings, LLC granted by Regional Trustee Services Corp.

John,

You voted for the well expenditure with the answer & understanding that the city owned the property.
How could Mrs. Badger tell you the city owned this land on April 13th when the defaulted property was already being acquired by the bank?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Was Mrs. Badger:
A. Uninformed in her answer to Council & afraid to say she did not know
B. Deliberately misleading
C. Inept in her understanding

On March 13, 2010, Christian Hill reported in The Olympian,
“A foreclosure sale is scheduled April 9 for the unfinished phases of the Tahoma Terra master planned community in Yelm.

Tahoma Terra encompasses 220 acres and was envisioned to contain as many as 1,200 housing units. Two of the nine phases envisioned under the original master plan are completed, developer Doug Bloom said.

He said 120 acres is subject to the foreclosure action.”

On April 17, 2010, Megan Hansen quoted Mayor Harding in the Nisqually Valley News:
“‘The property the well is being drilled on is currently owned by developers, but within its master plan is an agreement to gift the property to the city.’

Yelm Mayor Ron Harding said if for whatever reason those plans don’t move forward, the city can always condemn the property.”

[Ed. Note: The mayor’s statement the property was owned by the developers was NOT true! The property had already been foreclosed & the deed recorded in the bank’s name April 13, 2010. The County recorder’s office reflects that as fact!
And, the mayor is threatening to condemn the bank’s property?
Is a threat of seizing a local land-owner’s property and/or water rights ‘serving the public’s interest’?]

Ed. Note: How could Mr. Harding tell the community the City of Yelm could receive this land as a gift from the developers when the deed was recorded to Union Street Holdings on April 13, 2010, before that evening’s Council meeting?
While the agreement with the city by Tahoma Terra says bankruptcy will not null the agreement, if you were a business person, would you spend 2/3 of a million dollars for an exploratory well on property which has been taken over by the bank from the owners with whom you signed the agreement?

In any case, the Council expended $615,223 for the well based on inaccurate information!
Was Yelm’s City Council misled in their vote for this appropriation?
YOU DECIDE!


June 20, 2010

BLUE BOTTLE BISTRO HOSTS OUTDOOR MARKET FOR PRAIRIE DAY OPENING


The Blue Bottle Cafe

BLUE BOTTLE OUTDOOR MARKET ON YELM’S PRAIRIE DAY

BLUE BOTTLE BISTRO is having its first Outdoor Market in 2010.
It is scheduled for:
Thursday, June, 24 ~ the day of the Yelm Prairie Day Parade, which starts at 6 P.M.

Limited spaces are available (about 20) so reserve now!
Crafts persons, artists, farmers. herbalists and other vendors are welcome.
The market will be a monthly week-end event until late fall.
The Blue Bottle will be open for business as usual.
Therefore no food or drink vendors please

The cost of each 10′ x 10′ space is $15 and vendors can rent more than one space.
Bring your own table or stand. Tables available for $10. Set up time 3 P.M.
with booths to be ready for business at 4 P.M. to one-half hour after parade ends.
Please remember that during the parade Yelm Avenue will be closed to traffic late in the afternoon to set up for parade.
Set-up time for booths subject to change.
Please respond by e-mail with name, phone number, type of vendor or items for sale, amount of space desired and if you need a table.
E-MAIL: bluebottlebyday@yahoo.com

Blue Bottle Bistro
309 Yelm Avenue East
Yelm, WA. 98597
Phone: 360-458-4611


June 19, 2010

YELM’S LEMURIA START-OF-SUMMER SALE THIS WEEKEND!

Lemurias Start to Summer Sales Event

Lemurias SALE

Check it out!

Friday, Saturday and Monday June 18, 19, 21

30% off Clothes, Jewelry, Purses

20% off Books, DVDs, Ear Candles

10% off items below

Himalayan salt and salt lamps

Beeswax candles (new shipment just in!)

Amrita aromatherapy oils

Incense and perfume oils

Sage and smudging products

Peepers reading glasses

Jody Bergsma prints, mugs and more

Tarot and oracle cards

Color copies 29 cents, B&W copies 9 cents

Faxing and lamination

Private mailboxes (new customers only)

50-70% off all items on sale rack

Location:
Lemuria
303 First St. S.,
across from Yelm City Park
Phone: (360) 458-2699


TELL LEMURIA YOU HEARD ABOUT THEIR SALE ON THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!


June 18, 2010

ACCOLADES TO THE NISQUALLY VALLEY NEWS EDITOR/PUBLISHER FOR HIS OP-ED

As Nisqually Valley News (NVN) reporter Megan Hansen said about me in her published front-page story May 21st, I am a “frequent critic of the city” and rightly so. Yet, I was joined by her boss on an issue about which I have reported here several times covered by NVN Editor/Publisher Keven Graves’ in today’s Op-Ed titled, “Should the mayor be serving two masters?” where Graves vigorously examines an appearance of conflict of interest on Mayor Harding’s part.

Mayor Harding is the current Treasurer & president-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and “brought a proposal to the chamber board to purchase an electronic sign,” according to Hansen’s report in today’s paper. The sign would be rented to advertisers and placed on a city-owned easement at the corner of Killion Rd. & Yelm Ave. Graves points out “As mayor, Harding has the potential to knowingly or unknowingly ‘grease the skids’ for the chamber in this process.”

Graves continues, “…I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.

The people of Yelm and the city’s interest must be Harding’s sole overriding, unequivocal focus as mayor, for as long as he is mayor.

As an elected public servant, Harding should not be serving two masters: The City of Yelm and the chamber [Yelm Chamber of Commerce].”

Graves admits that the chamber’s selling advertising space on an electronic billboard is “opting again to compete with one of its members, the newspaper.”
That it took something that affects his newspaper to get his attention does not matter, rather the fact Mr. Graves now sees & is reporting this ‘perception’ of the mayor’s conflict of interest, which cannot be overstated – THIS IS HUGE!
[Mr. Graves is a former Chamber Board member, as well, so he knows the picture from both sides.]

And I have an issue with a Chamber of Commerce Board & members for their malaise in not speaking up about this and other important issues affecting them in presentations Mayor Harding made at Chamber Forum meetings this year (water rate increases, B & O tax increases, water irrigation cutbacks on businesses, etc.).

I wrote this letter on May 15, 2010 to the Executive Director & Chamber Board:

To the Executive Director & Board of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce:

Last year, Ms. Cauhill [former Chamber President] sent me a letter in response to my question about the Yelm Chamber of Commerce Board voting for and giving a Citizen of the Year Award to fellow Board member [and mayor of this city] Ron Harding, an action I stated is an apparent conflict of interest for voting one of your own Board members as the recipient for this award.
Bottom line: the Chamber Board was OK with that & felt there was no conflict of interest.
OK, I understood that as your Board’s stand.

However, I was sitting in a recent Yelm City Council meeting (Feb 9th),
where the Council was asked/directed by Mayor Harding
to vote on public money to be allocated by the Council in 2010 for the Yelm Chamber of Commerce.

I sat there and did not put two & two together until that very moment.
I have been a Yelm Chamber member for almost 6 years now and as such, have a question:

Why is the mayor of a town whose City Council he directs the vote on public monies to be allocated for the local chamber,
and on whose Board he sits, is also that Chamber’s Treasurer?

Let’s see: so Mayor Harding directs the Council vote, takes the city’s check (the amount is irrelevant, $1 or $10,000) or gives to the Executive Director for deposit, and then reconciles the city’s deposit on the Chamber’s books, as Treasurer?

Since I know your stance is that all is well & none of you have any issue on this matter, this seems to me to be a major conflict of interest, so much so that I have reported this to the U. S. Chambers of Commerce in Washington, DC & to the Association of Washington Cities (AWC).

Of course, I received no answer as of yet.

BRAVO MR. GRAVES!
WHILE I MAY ALSO BE A CRITIC OF YOUR NEWSPAPER AT TIMES, I STAND WITH YOU WHEN WE AGREE THE PUBLIC’S INTEREST HAS BEEN USURPED!

IS THIS ANOTHER REASON THE CITY’S FINANCE DIRECTOR ‘RESIGNED’?
FOR WHAT MAYOR HARDING CALLED “A DIFFERENCE IN MANAGEMENT STYLES BETWEEN HIMSELF AND HER.”

IN THE LAST YEAR, WE HAVE SEEN MAYOR HARDING LEAD THE COUNCIL TO SEIZE A CITIZEN’S PROPERTY TO GET WATER RIGHTS, THREATEN TO CONDEMN A FORMER TAHOMA TERRA PARCEL FOR WATER IF NEEDED AND TELL THE PUBLIC HE WILL SHRINK THE LIBRARY TO SERVE ONLY CITY OF YELM RESIDENTS, EVEN THOUGH COUNTY TAXPAYERS FUND THE FACILITY, TOO.

HAS THE MAYOR BECOME CONSUMED BY POWER AND LOST SIGHT OF HIS MANDATE?
AS MR. GRAVES STATES,
“The people of Yelm and the city’s interest must be Harding’s sole overriding, unequivocal focus as mayor, for as long as he is mayor.”


June 17, 2010

LIBRARY LOSES TRL RENT FUNDING IN 18 MONTHS & STILL, CITY STILL OFFERS NO SOLUTION


Yelm Timberland Regional Library
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

The current agreement between the City of Yelm & Timberland Regional Library (TRL) to operate a public library in a rented, private facility comes to an end in just over 18 months, December 31, 2011. The City of Yelm was granted an exemption to operate for 10 years in a rented facility in 2001 – the ONLY library in TRL’s system to be granted such an exemption – while the city developed a suitable public building. The City of Yelm has done NOTHING to get a public library building here, except get distracted by a potential of putting a library building on land offered at a reduced price by Tahoma Terra developers 4 years ago, and who later withdrew their offer and the undeveloped sections of the development subsequently went bankrupt.

On February 9, 2010, Mayor Harding discussed the future of a library in Yelm at his State of the City address to the Yelm Chamber of Commerce saying the City of Yelm will support a library here, however not to the size & stature to which the community has grown accustomed [Yelm’s library in Prairie Park]. He said though the city will no longer have TRL’s partnership on paying rent at the end of the current agreement, he would keep the public informed about the status of several ideas, including extending the current rental lease 3-5 years while an alternative site is searched. There has been a little cursory action by the city on acquiring a Yelm public library building during the last 8 years of the TRL exemption.

THERE HAS BEEN NO OFFICIAL FURTHER WORD FROM THE CITY SINCE.

According to the Nisqually Valley News on January 10, 2010,
‘Were having a conversation with the property owner (of Prairie Park) to renegotiate a reduced price and extend the current lease, Mayor Ron Harding said.
Harding submitted a proposal to TRL suggesting the two entities extend the lease three to five years, at a new negotiated rate, and split the cost.”

However, the TRL Board of Directors met on Wednesday, March 31 and in public action, considered Mayor Harding’s proposals and stated they will honor their contract with the City of Yelm to provide service from the current location through December 31, 2011. Yet, the TRL Board agreed that after the conclusion of the current contract, the city will be responsible to provide an appropriate library facility [January 1, 2012 & beyond].

Ed. Note: Seems Mayor Harding was counting on his negotiating skills to convince TRL to remain a partner in paying rent in the current, private facility beyond 2011. If that was the case, that has now back-fired.

Mayor Harding has stated the city can not afford to pay the rent alone to operate in the current library building at Prairie Park. So, that leaves the city with moving the library back to much smaller City Hall space or paying rent in perhaps a third of the space the library now occupies.

Still unanswered questions:
1. what happens on January 1, 2012 for a Yelm Library?
2. if in a much smaller facility, what happens to the books, tapes & other periodicals not able to be housed in a downsized facility?
3. If in a much smaller facility, what happens to the Yelm Library Staff we have come to know?

THE YELM TIMBERLAND REGIONAL LIBRARY OPERATIONS ARE FUNDED FROM PROPERTY TAXES COLLECTED INSIDE YELM CITY LIMITS AND COUNTY PROPERTY OWNERS OUTSIDE OF THE CITY LIMITS.
WHERE ARE THE DEMANDS OF PATRONS FOR ANSWERS FROM MAYOR HARDING & CITY OFFICIALS FOR A YELM PUBLIC LIBRARY’S FUTURE?

UPDATE:
Nisqually Valley News reporter Megan Hansen wrote on Friday, June 18th:
“Yelm Mayor Ron Harding spoke in support of the library on behalf of the city. The library board is comprised of all volunteers, Harding said…

In some trying times here, were trying to figure out how to sustain the library.

The librarys lease at its current location expires at the end of 2011, by which time the city plans to come up with another solution.

Well find a plan, Harding added.

We just dont know what the plan is yet.


June 16, 2010

YELM CEMETERY OPEN HOUSE TOMORROW – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Yelm Cemetery is having an Open House tomorrow (Thursday) from 5:30pm to 7pm for the public to see this fine facility.

Bunkhouse BBQ will be catering this OPEN TO THE PUBLIC event.

Come see what our local cemetery has done with their expansion and upkeep:

Yelm Cemetery
11540 Cemetary Rd SE
Yelm, WA 98597-9615
(360) 458-5377
Map it.

Ed. Note: I called to find out who is funding the Bunkhouse BBQ food give-away and was told this is a public promotion of the cemetery. While I appreciate the fine work of cemetery park superintendent Tony Ward & the Cemetery Board, I do not support using public taxpayer money (collected from city AND county property tax payers) being used for a free-food handout to promote public familiarity with their area cemetery. Cold drinks & cookies could have done the job just as well & saved alot of money that could be used elsewhere.

What do you say?


June 15, 2010

YELM’S FINANCE DIRECTOR ‘RESIGNS’ AFTER LESS THAN A YEAR ON THE JOB

Oh, did anyone notice that the City’s NEW Finance Director resigned, with Mayor Harding citing her struggle “with a difference in management styles between himself and her… She resigned last Monday [May 31] without giving notice,” according to the Nisqually Valley News in a buried section-one, page 2 story June 4th. This should have been front-page news with an attempted interview of Ms. Davis. This is a major, local story, if one can read between the lines to see.

Davis’s resignation should come as no surprise. When a professional financial person looks at the city’s operations, management style & budget practices of Yelm, most will not be around here long. Mayor Harding will have to find some young & inexperienced person to replace Sue Davis, one who will be more easily bowled over by the Mayor’s management style & city’s operational tactics. Ms. Davis came to Yelm in June, 2009 amid much promise “with 16 years experience working in finance; 13 years spent in Orting. She also worked in Pe Ell and Centralia,” according to the local newspaper. She knows SW Washington citys’ finances & had the experience to boot.

WHAT OTHER THINGS AT CITY HALL ARE LURKING AS TO THE REASON FOR MS. DAVIS’S “RESIGNATION”?

Interesting that the Nisqually Valley News chose not to interview Ms. Davis, nor did they say if they attempted to contact her for comment. HMMM!?

Yes, as Nisqually Valley News reporter Megan Hansen said in their May 21st edition, Steve Klein is a frequent critic of the city.
Hansen is correct & rightly so!


June 14, 2010

FLAG DAY 2010 IN THE USA


Flag Day honors the United States flag.
iStockphoto.com/Jim Jurica

“Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nations freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the countrys ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nations unity…

Organizations such as The National Flag Day Foundation are actively involved in coordinating activities centered on the event and keeping the flags traditions alive…

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betty Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.

In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled The Fourteenth of June in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrands effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation to …observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States,” quoting Time and Date.


June 13, 2010

INTRODUCING MCKENNA’S NEW FARMER’S MARKET


Photo courtesy of Andrew Wright

Liquid Soul in McKenna has started a summer farmers market.

McKenna Farmers Market

Saturdays

June 5th – September 4th, 2010

10:30am – 3:30pm

— The farmers market is now on Saturdays only, but Fridays will be added later in the summer.
— The last date is Saturday, September 4th.

CLICK HERE for location & map

This market is organized for the community, by the community.

Its not-for-profit and its completely FREE for vendors and visitors!

Check out our vendors local fruits, vegetables, and plants

along with wood crafts, soaps, candles, clothing, and other arts & crafts, from the McKenna’s Farmers Market website.


June 12, 2010

LATEST EVER RECORDED FOR YEAR’S FIRST 70 DEGREE DAY

“The National Weather Service is forecasting a warm weekend in Washington.”

“The temperature could climb into the upper 70s Saturday at Sea-Tac Airport. The Weather Service says that would be the latest date on record for the temperature breaking 72 degrees at Sea-Tac. The previous late date was June 7, 1955,” quoting The Olympian.

The high temperature reached 78 at Olympia Regional Airport.


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