September 22, 2011

CITY OF YELM’S THIRST FOR WATER
DEMANDS PUBLIC COMMENTS

SPECIAL IN-DEPTH REPORT

The following letter by this writer was submitted to the Nisqually Valley News for publication:
“The City of Yelm requested Ecology “fast-track” a pending water rights application for an additional 942 acre feet of water per year, which if approved, would more than double Yelm’s current annual water allocation withdrawn from our local aquifer.

In 2009, the city presented similar plans and almost 100 comments were filed to Ecology in protest, as property owners saw how this water volume could deplete their own wells, requiring them to drill deeper at their own expense. With the public shining the light on the deficiencies of Yelm’s 2009 Mitigated Determination of Non-significance [MDNS] to Ecology for additional water rights, the city withdrew the MDNS in August, 2009. Now, the city is back again with a similar request.

Since 2009, the Yelm City Council used eminent domain to seize a citizen’s water rights and recently approved seizure of bank-owned property acquired through the developer’s bankruptcy, land where the council authorized spending 2/3 of million dollars for a test well AFTER the deed was transferred to the bank. These actions are very disturbing and should raise any citizen’s eyebrow. The key question is why does Yelm want to more-the-double their water supply if not to double the size of this town’s development?

However, before development can occur, the city must insure there is no harm to current water users, as the WA. Supreme Court ruled in Kittitas County vs. EWGHMB, July 28, 2011. The Court recognized that water is a finite resource which must be carefully considered and protected by all jurisdictions. For example, Yelm has not addressed our water resources adequately in their application, particularly affects from damage that surface waters or the aquifer would incur. And, Thurston County needs to protect their property owners’ water downstream of Yelm’s well, outside of city limits.

Lest government officials proceed thinking public silence is acquiescence, property owners, especially outside of the city, should immediately go to any search engine, type in “Draft Report of Exam, City of Yelm” for more information and a comment form. The deadline is September 28th to respond.”

SEVERAL QUESTIONS STAND-OUT FROM THE DRAFT REPORT:
1. When does drilling a test well equate appropriation of water rights?

2. The City of Yelm is now engaged in seizing the test well property from the bank owners, using eminent domain. How can Ecology even consider granting Yelm water rights for a test well located on property the city does not own, nor even has access to the land?

3. The Draft describes the minimal effect pumping from Yelm’s well will have on surrounding water rights (page 5, third paragraph). Yet on page 6, the Draft clearly states there must be no impairment of existing rights, according to the law. On page 22, the Draft states that the aquifer is confined, yet there will be impacts to flow in the Nisqually, Deschutes, Woodland Creek, and the Tri-Lakes.
If it is truly confined, then is the Draft accurate to say with certainty that there will be no impairment to flow or other water right users?
Especially when the Draft states there will be some impairment, albeit “minimal”?

4. The Draft mentions no considerations of the case of JZ Knight vs. City of Yelm about water issues, now in the hands of the WA. Supreme Court. How will this decision affect the Yelm area in the Draft?

5. On page 18 of the Draft in Public Water Supply Benefits is a statement that the package of mitigation benefits will result in ecological benefits for water resources specifically and natural resources generally.
Really? Not in Yelm, for everyone knows that the City of Yelm intends to use every single acre foot of water for issuing building permits for the tax revenue, as demonstrated by City Council actions approving vast development over the last decade. Is Yelm really concerned about “ecological benefits for water resource”?

6. Yelms 2009 Mitigation Plan did not take into account ground water effects from an increased withdrawal. That Plan was only directed at surface waters, a plan which the city finally withdrew in August, 2009. Shouldn’t a thorough examination be conducted on how the entire area is seriously impacted by groundwater effects?

7. RCW 90.03.290 states the following four criteria must be adhered to for an application for water rights to be approved:
* water must be available
* there must be no impairment of existing rights
* the water use must not be detrimental to the public interest
The city’s expansion in the last decade has brought a major increase in development, crime and traffic. Is continued massive development in Yelm in the public’s interest, if the water rights are granted?
What about the detriment to area local well owners, especially in Thurston County?
And, where is Thurston County in all of this?

8. Are budget cuts to large state agencies having an effect on Ecology doing their proper job in protecting the public’s interests?

9. What about the public’s right of due-process?

Read more of Ecology’s “Proposed water supply decision for Lacey, Olympia, Yelm out for comment”

Read more from John Dodge’s report in The Olympian.

THE PUBLIC IS ENCOURAGED TO WRITE THEIR COMMENTS, ESPECIALLY THOSE PROPERTY OWNERS IN THURSTON COUNTY OUTSIDE OF YELM’S CITY LIMITS WHO WOULD BE AFFECTED!

CLICK HERE for the comment form.


September 21, 2011

THURSTON COUNTY SEES PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS WAY DOWN

Nate Hulings reported in The Olympian:
“A slow real estate market is being blamed for a $1.38 billion drop in countywide property assessments for 2011, to $24.74 billion, according to the Thurston County Assessors Office.”
Read more in The Olympian.


September 21, 2011

“JBLM sees massive growth after 9/11; now largest base on West Coast”

From the AP on KOMO-TV 4 News:
“Heightened security fears and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have boosted growth at Joint Base Lewis-McChord over the past decade.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports the base is now the West Coast’s largest military installation. The fleet of Air Force C-17 cargo jets at McChord Air Field has given the base a global reach

The number of soldiers at the base has jumped to 34,000, from 19,000 before 2001. Some units grew because of the wars, though others might have expanded even without the conflicts.

The Army’s annual construction budget grew from $6.8 million at Fort Lewis before the attacks to $136.2 million in 2002. Much of that went to building facilities to train and send soldiers and reservists to war.”
Read more by Adam Ashton in the Tacoma News Tribune.


September 20, 2011

NISQUALLY LAND TRUST & WATERSHED EVENTS THIS SATURDAY

– Scots Broom Pull at Thurston Ridge (Near Yelm) Saturday, September 24 – 9 a.m. to noon.
Read more form the Nisqually Land Trust.


Map courtesy Nisqually Land Trust

– Nisqually Watershed Festival, Saturday September 24, 2011
10:00 am – 4:00
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge with Parking at River Ridge High School, 350 River Ridge Drive SE, Lacey, WA

The 22nd Annual Nisqually Watershed Festival is September 24th, 2011! The festival takes place at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, with all parking and a free shuttle at neaby River Ridge High School. Please join us in celebrating our wonderful watershed!

This FREE multi-cultural event celebrates the history, economy, and environment of the Nisqually Watershed. The 22nd Annual Festival will include tours, music, dancing, crafts, and other family-friendly fun.
Read more from Nisqually River Council.


September 19, 2011

TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT:
KING-5 TV ASKS: “ARE TOWN-HALLS DYING”?
THEY DIED IN YELM IN 2005!

“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”

Seattle’s KING 5 News Robert Mak asked the question on the program Up Front – Issues That Matter on September 4, 2011, “Are Town Halls Dying?”
While the report dealt with Congressional representatives, the issue was noted here in Yelm in September, 2005.

This is a great question and an in-depth report.
Click here for the video.

However, Town Halls were declared dead in Yelm in September, 2005 when then Yelm Mayor Pro-tem, City Council leader & Mayoral candidate Ron Harding told the Nisqually Valley News he would not participate in their community mayoral candidate Forum. From then on and once elected, Mayor Harding drew a line in the sand that he will hold NO Town Hall or public forums as long as he is mayor, concerned about the backlash to his policies from those residents & city taxpayers outside of Yelm’s city limits in Thurston County who speak-up on issues that affect them. Harding will ONLY take 5 public comments limited to 3 minutes each twice a month at city council meetings in the Public Safety Building. If one goes over the 3 minutes and the council does not like the comment, they will be cut-off, even if the only commenter!

I find Yelm officials to be an embarrassment when County Commissioner Romero, State Legislators and our Congressional Representative hold regular public forums and not our own town’s own Mayor or City Council!
What is Mayor Harding and the City Council afraid of?
Harding and most of the the Council members ran unopposed.

In closing:
Keven Graves is quoted from his November 25, 2005 editorial in the local newspaper:
“We (he & then Mayor-elect Harding) agree that a transparent government is better government.”

The lack of public Town Halls by City of Yelm’s government covered here for 5+ years is far from an environment of being “a transparent government”. This is a sad commentary of our local society.

– An unaware and uninvolved public are Yelm City Council’s greatest allies in carrying forth their agenda.


September 18, 2011

THURSTON COUNTY SETS PREPAREDNESS MONTH

From Thurston County’s News Release:
Thurston County commissioners on Tuesday, August 23, proclaimed September as National Preparedness Month and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Radio Awareness Month. This year’s National Preparedness Month coincides with the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. The event, now in its eighth year, was founded after 9/11 to improve preparedness across the country. Sponsored by the national Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, the slogan for this year’s event is: “This September: A Time to Remember; A Time to Prepare.”

[A free Map Your Neighborhood class was held September 12]
Plans are also underway for the annual Emergency Preparedness Expo, set for Saturday, October 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Marcus Pavilion and Worthington Center at Saint Martin’s University. Check local media in the coming weeks for details or visit www.co.thurston.wa.us/em

County emergency management officials encourage households, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies with these three initial steps:

Get an emergency supply kit.
Make a plan for what to do in an emergency.
Be informed about what emergencies can happen in our area, and identify sources of information that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency.

The commissioner’s proclamation also recognizes Weather Radio Awareness Month [in Washington], and encourages businesses and households to acquire and use a NOAA weather radio, which features Emergency Alert System broadcasts.

Preparedness information is available at Ready.gov, as well as at the county’s Emergency Management’s website, www.co.thurston.wa.us/em

MANY NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS HAVE FORMED IN THE BALD HILLS AND AREAS OUTSIDE OF THE CITY OF YELM.
CITY OF YELM RESIDENTS ARE URGED TO BECOME AWARE OF THESE RESOURCES, AS WELL!


September 17, 2011

YELM TIDBITS

Latest Yelm tidbits:

– Yelm Prairie Lanes Fall Leagues now starting Sept. 18, Sept, 25 & Oct. 2, all at 6pm:
Read more form KOMO-TV-4.
Read more from Yelm Prairie Lanes website.

– “Saturday on Sept 17th only there will be a 3 family yard sale at the Cascade Mini Golf parking lot in Yelm.”
1506 Yelm Ave. West, Yelm
Read more from Seattle’s Craiglist.

– Reminder: Yelm Battle of the Bands is today (rain or shine)
Read more from KOMO-TV 4 news in Seattle.

– Reminder: Yelm’s JZ Rose will have an OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Anniversary Sale Open House Sunday, Sept. 18th, 10am-6pm.
Read more

– Reminder: Yelm Food Co-op’s Annual Meeting is Sunday, Sept. 18th at 2pm at the Yelm Adult Community Center -16530 103rd Ave, SE, Yelm.
Read more


September 16, 2011

A YELM COMMUNITY ‘ASSET’S’ ANNOUNCEMENT:
FIRE CHIEF HUTCHESON TO RETIRE


S.E. Thurston Fire & EMS Chief Rita Hutcheson

S.E. Thurston Fire & EMS Chief Rita Hutcheson was a public commenter to Yelm’s City Council last Tuesday evening to announce her retirement this year.

Chief Hutcheson told Mayor Harding & the Yelm City Council,
“It’s time…
It doesnt mean I am not going to be involved somewhere. I am hoping I can retire a little longer this time. I almost lasted a week the first time. Theres plenty to do in our community and I cant see myself not being involved. This is home and these communities are very important to me.
Click here to view Chief Hutcheson’s comments on video.

From KOMO-TV 4 News:
“Hutcheson began her career as a volunteer with the fire department in1980. She retired from the Army in 1992 after 27 years of service and took over as the volunteer fire chief with Rainier Fire District 4. That post was turned into a paid position in 2002.”

“Hutcheson oversaw the effort to form the authority that includes the Rainier and Yelm fire districts and the city of Yelm.”

THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG WISHES CHIEF HUTCHESON WELL IN HER RETIREMENT AND SEND KUDOS FOR HER SERVICE TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY!


September 16, 2011

YELM FOOD CO-OP ANNUAL MEETING SUNDAY!


Photo credit: Yelm Food Co-op, used with permission

DO NOT MISS THIS DATE!
Sunday Sept 18th, 2011

“It is time for the Annual Report Card grade from you. How are we doing? Come see how we have been spending your money and hear what we are planning for the future of the store! Let your voice be heard it counts!

We have some great new plans for our expansion. Come see what we are working on and give us your input. The Co-ops next Annual Meeting will not only fill your tummy with Applegate & Tofurky Hot Dogs, wheat and gluten free buns, samples of local cheese & salsa, hummus, chips, crackers, gluten free cake, sorbet, Fentimans and Cascal drink samples; it will fill your mind with visions of the future. Our Expansion Raffle will include a large gift basket; A Wine & Italian Dinner Banquet and other gifts from local businesses, including a $355 package from Dr. Joe,” quoting the e-mailers.

THE STORE WILL BE CLOSED SUNDAY DUE TO THIS MEETING.

When:
Sunday, Sept. 18, 2 p.m.

Where:
Yelm Adult Community Center
16530 103rd Ave, SE,
just past the intersection with Creek Street.

Yelm Food Co-op
404 1st Street, SE
360-400-2210
Monday Saturday 10 am 7 pm
Sunday 12 pm 5 pm.
www.yelmfood.coop
Follow us on Facebook @ Yelm Food Co op


September 15, 2011

GUEST ENTRY: JEAN HANDLEY ON LIBRARY PURCHASE TRANSPARENCY ISSUE

Yelm Community Blog reader Jean Handley wrote the following letter regarding the burden of the Yelm Library condo purchase, with September being proclaimed Library Awareness Month by Mayor Ron Harding.
Published here with permission:

Library Awareness Month Mr. Mayor, should begin by opening up not a book from the library shelf, but the conversations, negotiations and ledgers that exist swirling around the future of this local institution.

We celebrate libraries because when a patron opens a book; they open their minds.

The parties surrounding this issue should take a lesson and engage in transparency so we can all become more aware.”

In other Library news:
A benefit will be held to reduce the cost to the city of the proposed purchase of the current Yelm Library Building:

First Ever Yelm International Battle of the Bands
Saturday, September 17
1-5 PM

Yelm City Park
Hiway 507/First Street and Mosman Ave.
Yelm, WA.

Your donations to the library determine the winning act.

Read more
from the Facebook page.


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