November 15, 2011

MISS THURSTON COUNTY 2012 SINGS AT YELM CHAMBER LUNCHEON


Miss Thurston County 2012: Tasia Jungbauer

Miss Thurston County 2012 Tasia Jungbauer wrote a beautiful description of her experience signing “Proud to be an American” at the Yelm Chamber of Commerce Forum luncheon on November 8, 2011.

Miss Jungbauer is from Yelm and was introduced by:
1. Yelm Mayor Ron Harding
2. Yelm Chamber President Ron Harding
3. Miss Thurston County 2012 judge Ron Harding
4. Miss Washington 2008 Janet Harding’s father, Ron Harding.

Read more from Tasia’s blog.

IS THERE JUST A BIT OF ‘APPEARANCE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST’ HERE BY THE MAYOR?
HMMM!


November 14, 2011

“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”
THIS WEEK: Yelm Library update

“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”

We are now 45 days from the future of the Yelm Library building structure being 100% in the hands of the City of Yelm. Timberland Regional Library’s contract with the city for the building lease ends December 31, 2011.

You will recall Yelm’s Mayor Ron Harding presented a plan to the TRL Board of Directors in late April where the city would purchase the existing library space on the 2nd floor of the Prairie Park Building for $1 million dollars through a 20-year bond, with TRL paying the annual O & M expenses (up to $37,000 per year) through the bond’s term. TRL conditionally accepted the proposal.

Mayor Harding told the Yelm Chamber of Commerce in his 2012 Budget Review last week this project is of primary importance for the city. However, the Mayor has NEVER said how this project will be funded, only that the city could afford to spend $600,000 on the facility, yet is financing $1 million for the library purchase.

Last week, the city received a very generous donation of $25,000 from fundraisers by the Friends of the Library, bringing the total amount in the city’s Library Building Fund to $30,000, far short of the $400,000 needed to bring the city’s debt burden for the structure down to the Mayor’s stated, affordable cost of $600,000. HMMM!

Timberland Regional Library (TRL) Director Michael Crose told the Yelm Community Blog last August that an agreement between TRL and the City of Yelm for services should be finalized by the end of September [2011].

From the City of Yelm:

Given the public has heard nothing of an agreement being signed, the Yelm Community Blog asked the City of Yelm last week the status and received this reply:
“The City is currently meeting with Timberland Regional Library and Prairie Park facility owner, but no contracts have been finalized to date.”

From Timberland Regional Library:

So, this Blogger then went to TRL Director Crose for his update. His reply:
“The only thing that I can say is that the ball is in the City’s court. TRL worked through a proposed building maintenance agreement with Shelly [City Administrator Badger]. We agreed to the changes the City asked for and sent it back for approval. That happened a couple of weeks ago. We have not seen an approved copy ready for TRL Board action.”

“I will say that if TRL gets the contract back and fully executed, we will begin paying for heat, lights and water as well as janitorial services beginning January 1, 2012.”

The local newspaper reported this week that “Harding said negotiations are going well with Timberland Regional Library System and property owner Margaret Clapp.”

Questions remain:
– Been 7 months since Harding presented the plan to purchase Clapp’s facility at her asking price to the TRL Board, without consulting his own City Council, which they later approved.
What could take so long to getting a signed contract when seller & buyer agreed on the price?

– Mayor Harding still to date has not communicated how the city is going to fund the $1 million purchase and what this kind of bonding (debt) this means for his city’s property owners.
Remember:
Yelm has had a contract with Timberland going back decades that the City of Yelm will supply a building for the area’s library. Harding told the public the city could only afford to spend $600,000 for a facility and then ponied up the $1.2 million proposal, which was subsequently lowered to $1 million by the owner.

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.”

There were other options for a less costly & smaller library, none ever discussed with the public.
The Yelm public has been hoodwinked into believing that Clapp’s building wa the ONLY way for the library to remain viable here, yet may prove to be too large and too expensive when purchased.
The debt burden on Yelm’s property owners has yet to be publicly disclosed!

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


November 13, 2011

YELM FACEBOOK PAGE MAKES DEBUT

Connie Myers came up with a very creative idea and started a Yelm Facebook page saying,

“This is a Fan Page for everyone who Loves Yelm, Washington & the surrounding areas. This is a place to share our Love for our NorthWestern Paradise!
‘Share’ your photo’s & stories with us here.
Please also ‘Share’ this Page with your friends!
;o)”

“Please use this as a public place to ‘Share’ Local Events, Pictures, Announcements, Questions, etc!”


“WHY THIS PAGE WAS CREATED”:

“I have started a New Page to PROMOTE ALL Local Business, Organizations, and the Natural Beauty that makes up Yelm and our Surrounding Communities.
By ‘Liking’ this page, it causes me to see your status updates on my wall, which in return I will ‘Link’ and ‘Share’ them ultimately giving you FREE EXPOSURE while building our local Viral community!!”

Read more


THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG CONGRATULATES CONNIE ON HER ENDEAVOR!


November 12, 2011

YELM LOOSES LONG-TIME LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS

Long-time, locally owned business Radio Shack has closed its doors, leaving no electronics franchise in Yelm. This was the very first locally-owned business I patronized when I moved to Yelm in September, 1988 and is sad when this town losses such a vital part of our fabric of businesses!


November 12, 2011

PENINSULA COLLEGE IS SOCCER POWERHOUSE THANKS TO
YELM SOPHOMORE MIGUEL GONZALEZ

The [Olympic] Peninsula Daily News reported on November 10th:
“The road to another NWAACC championship begins this Saturday [Nov. 12] for the Peninsula College soccer program.”

“Peninsula College has emerged as a mens and womens soccer powerhouse in the NWAACC, with each winning West Division crowns this season.”

“The Pirates boast the No. 1 scorer in the NWAACC in sophomore Miguel Gonzalez of Yelm, who has tallied a Pirate record 31 goals. He also has 10 assists.”
Read more


November 11, 2011

YELM OBSERVES VETERAN’S DAY 11.11.11

“Yelm Cemetery Veterans Day Observance: 1 p.m., 11540 Cemetery Road S.E., 1st Special Forces Group firing detail,” quoting The Olympian.

ABOUT VETERAN DAY
“Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. A federal holiday, it is observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)…

The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”…,” quoting Wikipedia.

THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG HONORS OUR VETERANS THIS DAY!


November 10, 2011

YELM FRESHMAN IS IOWA’S CENTRAL COLLEGE WRESTLING LEADER

“Freshman Daniel Page from Yelm, Wash. will be in the mix at 125.

‘Hes one of our more experienced incoming freshman,’ Van Kley said. ‘He comes from a great program in Washington and has a positive attitude that really comes out with wrestling,'” quoting Central Dutch.


November 10, 2011

“Weak run forces Nisqually Tribe to close coho fishery early”

“The Nisqually Tribe has closed its coho fishery nearly a month early to protect a weak run of adult fish returning to the river.”

“The Nisqually Tribe has closed its coho fishery nearly a month early to protect a weak run of adult fish returning to the river.

It marks the second consecutive year the fishery has closed early, raising questions about whats happening to the fish when they leave the river for saltwater.

Its alarming, said David Troutt, the tribes natural resources director. The habitat couldnt be any better in the river. It seems to be a matter of poor survival in Puget Sound.

The 50 or so tribal fishers landed about 3,200 coho, about 1,000 fewer than last year, before the emergency closure Oct. 28. Typically, the tribe would fish for coho until Thanksgiving, Troutt said.

The pre-season run size was predicted at 30,000, which would have been a record return, Troutt said. But it never materialized, suggesting something is happening to the fish in Puget Sound when they leave the river as young fish and return as adults.

Only about 75 coho had returned to the tribes Kalama Creek hatchery prior to the closure. The tribe needs about 800 adult spawners to produce enough fish for next years release,” quoting John Dodge in the Tacoma News Tribune.


November 9, 2011

3 UNOPPOSED CITY COUNCIL POSITIONS GARNER UNDER 600 VOTES EACH – TO DATE

With a town of over 6,000 constituents and about half of those as registered voters, the three unopposed Yelm City Council positions garnered under 600 votes each. Those numbers certainly do not garner hope, trust and confidence in the Yelm City Council for the future. Here is the tally:
1. Position 1, JW Foster got 574 votes.
2. Position 2, Long-time & well-known Council member Joe Baker received only 553 votes.
3. Position 3, Former Yelm employee Ken Garmann retiring from a decade-long position in Bothell received 533 votes.
Less than 20% of the registered voter population of Yelm voted for Yelm City Council positions to date. While these positions usually end up getting about 800 votes at the end of the tally, that certainly is no mandate!
The lack of participation in candidates seeking office & lack-luster voter turnout is an embarrassment for Yelm and this City Council.

Yelm voters once again have no choice of candidates in these City Council positions.
Read more of the results from the Thurston County Auditor.


November 9, 2011

“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”
SE Thurston Fire Authority Update

“TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT”

While factually correct, omissions from the Nisqually Valley News (NVN) stories on the Southeast Thurston Fire Authority’s budget challenges give the public a skewed perception.

Background:
– There was a story in this week’s newspaper that the WA. State Auditor was auditing the Fire Authority.
I understood this audit was a bi-annual, routine and previously scheduled audit.
Yet, the newspaper did not say that was the case and the way their article was placed next to another Fire Authority story, implied that an audit was being performed because of some malfeasance, their Editor/Publisher going so far the previous week as to compare the Fire Authority issues with that of the Yelm Cemetery’s lack of board oversight and appearance of conflict of interest by the manager.

Last weekend, I posed some questions to Chief Hutchseon to get clarification in light of the newspaper’s coverage.

Blogger:
Wasn’t the former the case [a routine, required audit], identical to the 2011 City of Yelm routine state audit reported in the newspaper a few weeks ago?
Isn’t this year’s Fire Authority audit of the Rainier (last audits 2009 & 2010) and Yelm (last audit 2010) Fire Districts, with one scheduled within the next year or so for the entire Fire Authority a regular, routine required state audit?

Chief Hutchseon:

“You are correct. This audit was scheduled earlier in the year and had no connection to the current situation.”

Blogger:
The NVN’s Megan Hansen reported on Oct. 30th:
“When that position [Asst. Chief] was created, [Chief Mark] King said, the fire district had a $300,000 cash forward from the year before.

The funds eroded fast, Hutcheson said, explaining, ‘It had a lot to do with controlling costs and overtime.’

‘It had to do with big incidents and a safety issue.’

The newspaper’s online Question of the Week asked if the public thought the hiring of an Assistant Chief was necessary. The newspaper has questioned in several stories the need for an Assistant Chief position. Can you address this issue?

Chief Hutchseon:
“I have attached a copy of the presentation Mark [Chief King] & I provided the Board in July of 2010 identifying the need for the 3rd assistant chief.”
Read more.

Blogger:
Chief Hutcheson, you reached out to a cross-section of the community throughout the strategic plan process earlier this year to get ideas about what had become a challenging situation, maintaining your efforts to run the Fire Authority like a business. I know you and the Fire Commissioners did all you could to preserve jobs and support service levels as long as possible. With the increased expenses & declining revenues coming to a head in late summer, yes, the budget issue emerged.

[Ed. Note:
Had big incidents and a safety issue not happened, then the decisions they undertook would look wise in hindsight (adding a new fire fighter in 2010, an Asst Chief and a Strategic Plan). Yet, had the budget issue appeared in early 2011 to this degree, I am sure those jobs would have been cut then, 7-8 months earlier.

Ever had to layoff someone? You work all possible solutions as long as you can before making that gut-wrenching decision.

The Chief and Commissioners were painfully aware of the plan to provide and maintain a superior level of service support, yet one that could not be maintained with a gathering “perfect storm.”]

Chief Hutcheson, can you explain the steps taken when the negative balance started to become an issue?

Chief Hutchseon:
“The issue of a negative fund balance [was] brought up after the auditor saw or was provided a copy of the Board agenda (public document) listing the current balance of all district accounts with the County. The general fund was posting a negative balance at the time (prior to 2nd half tax collections). I explained to him [auditor] I had met with the county treasurer early in the year to address this issue. I gave him a copy of the letter I had sent the treasurer identifying our plan to curb expenses. The auditors out briefing has not been completed yet and it is an open, public meeting. The final report will be in the NVN and a copy will be available to anyone that wishes to request it.”
Read more of the Yelm Fire District Financial public document.

Blogger:
The innuendos, omission of facts and the highlighting of a few disgruntled voices out of proportion for the whole team is very disconcerting. The newspaper has certainly contributed to this public perception, one that will require a lot of work to overcome. How can the public help and get involved?

Chief Hutchseon:
“Attend Commissioner meetings. Support and participate in a Citizens Advisory Committee.
Question newspaper comments before forming an opinionGet the FACTS.”

Bottom line:
The newspaper has not presented a good case showing “there was a lack of good judgment and mismanagement” as opposed to a string of unforeseen expenses from big incidents that when added to the revenue downturn, put the budget in arrears. The newspaper’s innuendo about what is a routine, regularly scheduled audit of the fire authority, without mentioning that FACT to their readers, is disingenuous, at best. All of us in the Fire Authority’s service area need to be vigilant to gather the facts and provide this fine service organization the best in our support – they are our friends and neighbors who serve us in emergencies and deserve nothing less.

Now, due to decisive action on the part of the Fire Commissioners and the leadership of Chief Mark King and retiring Chief Rita Hutcheson, we learned that the Fire Authority may end the year in the black.

Additionally, the Editorial Board of the Olympian had the grace to honor retiring Fire Chief Hutchseon in their Op-Ed last week.
Read more from the Olympian.

In closing:
NVN Editor/Publisher 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.”

Journalism comprises standards and principles described as their professional ‘code of ethics.’ This entails truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality and fairness.

Journalism requires public accountability, does it not?
While I write a blog, I am no trained journalist.
Our local newspaper’s readers have been told many times by their Editor/Publisher to expect more from a newspaper that differentiates its journalistic integrity with that of the local blogger.
Well, time to raise the bar to achieve that goal.

The time has also come for the newspaper to step up and participate in delivering full facts in partnership that “a transparent government IS better government”!


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