January 26, 2015

SPSCC President Stokes spoke in Yelm today!

Dr. Timothy Stokes, President
Photo courtesy: SPSCC

Commissioner Sandra Romero’s guest at her monthly Yelm coffee chat today was Dr. Timothy Stokes, President of South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). She introduced him as having assumed the post Feb. 1, 2013, coming there from the Executive VP for Academic and Student Affairs at Tacoma Community College. Prior to his tenure at Tacoma, Stokes served as vice president for Student Learning at Texas State Technical College and executive director of the Southwest Arkansas Technology Learning Center at Henderson State University. He holds a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arkansas, a M.A. in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Arkansas, and a B.A. in English from Lyon College.

The audience was comprised of a an unusually larger group for one of these monthly chats, and from a cross-section of our community, who after his very informative presentation, engaged Dr. Stokes in a wide-ranging and robust Q & A session.

Key facts Dr. Stokes presented:
– 14,000 unique students enrolled,
– 50% of students attend to obtain credits or a degree to transfer to a 4-year school,
– In-State tuition and Fees = $4,470 per year,
– Thurston County high schools have a graduation rate of 83%, which is very good,
– 40% of students attend to acquire skills to go directly into the workforce,
– When he came aboard in early 2013, 400-450 students were returning Vets, over 950 now, and highlighted the Veteran’s Center on the Lacey Campus,
– The Advanced Manufacturing Program on the Lacey Campus has a model 3-d printing center with $1.4 million invested in equipment, making this a competitive resource for Boeing and other companies looking for skilled talent in the South Sound,
– SPSCC made an error 5 years ago in not investing resources in sustainable agriculture, so is working to become a leading in this field of study,
– The Corporate Training Center is one of the few in the country,
– Students received a reboot to their careers and a restart in employment by attending SPSCC after downsizing when the 2008 recession hit.
– SPSCC interfaces students with Thurston County’s Diamond Technology Innovations (DTI), as an example.

I asked about his school’s greatest challenge.
His response was reduced appropriations from the state to higher education is the number one issue, that the federal dollars keep coming, however the state Constitution mandates funding K-12, not higher education, which means SPSCC gets reduced state dollars in lean budgetary years.

I also asked about a the potential of Yelm classes.
He said that 3 years ago, there were 40 students from Yelm now there are 200. With 500 students, that would sustain a satellite campus here, which would also draw students from SW Pierce County. He said he spoke with Mayor Harding who said a new classroom annex building could be constructed adjacent the new community center, connected by a breezeway, as Harding told him he always envisioned. Mr. Harding told Dr. Stokes the original plan for classrooms in the Yelm Community Center was removed [when the center was voted down twice on ballot measures, and the square footage was reduced to a third of the original 10,000 sq feet]. Harding suggested Dr. Stokes request funding in Yelm from the state legislators, which he indicated he has done.
Read more

– The Thurston County Chamber of Commerce VOICE Magazine featured Dr. Stokes, Summer 2013.
Be sure to checkout his vision for SPSCC!
Read more

January 26, 2015

JBLM cuts ARE coming, no matter the posturing!
Crisis calls for Mayor to lead a Forum!

“Mayor Ron Harding voices his concerns [Jan. 21] to Army leadership about potential force reductions at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. At left is Yelm City Councilor JW Foster.”
Photo credit: Steven Wyble, Nisqually Valley News

An Editorial
– “Local Leaders Express Concern Over JBLM Cuts”
“Military Base Could Lose 11,000 Servicemembers and Civilians in 2015”
From Nisqually Valley News.

While Mayor Ron Harding, Councilor JW Foster and other officials pleaded to save JBLM positions, they missed the point – the cutbacks ARE coming, so they’d best get their jurisdictions and budgets prepared.

– Adam Ashton “nailed it” in his Tacoma News Tribune story:
Congress has not stopped a plan that could result in the loss of up to 11,000 soldiers and civilians at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, on top of 5,000 already gone. Its a part of steep drawdown in the size of the active-duty Army that could slash as many as 90,000 more soldiers from todays force of 510,000 active-duty troops around the world.”

The broad cuts to Army personnel, though unpopular in military communities like the South Sound, represent the ‘path of least resistance’ for a Congress that wants post-war defense savings but wont commit to reducing any specific military program, said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Its easier to allow general cuts to the size of the Army than it is for lawmakers to condone distinct programs being canceled in their home districts, Smith said.

‘Since Congress is not allowing those things to happen, then the Armys got do to what its got to do,’ said Smith, who voted against the 2011 budget compromise that set the stage for the Army force reductions.”
Read more
Click here for Rep. Denny Heck’s August 24, 2014 Press Release.

– Recommendation
Society can’t have it both ways – the country cannot tout less military spending and not have cuts.
Our town’s leaders need to diversify and change their former ways of doing business.
This area has grown even amidst a recession due to the huge influx of troops transferred here 10+ years ago when California bases were closed.

– The Yelm area is going to take an economic hit, like it or not.
Yelm has been too dependent too long on attracting military families here and has not diversified, an issue this blog has addressed publicly for almost 10 years.
The sugar-plum fairies dancing in the heads of city officials from property sales tax and annual real estate taxes was what fueled this city’s growth, all with little foresight or implementation of sustainable and slower growth models expounded publicly to the City Council by many.

– This coming crisis calls for a community wide Forum
The time has come for Mayor Harding to convene the community to engage a conversation about the future,
as any leader of vision would do for their people.

The time has come for the city to be a partner in private/public partnerships to diversify the economics of this area. So many leaders in their fields have been in Yelm and quoted in the newspaper recently. Their experience and expertise should be tapped:

– ” Collaboration Is the Model of Yelm Chambers New Director”
“Casey Cochrane Brings 25 Years of Community, Government Relations Experience to Position”

“‘I think its important that tourism and attraction of people to our area is a regional priority and that we work in concert with other organizations here in Thurston as well as Pierce and Lewis counties,’ Cochrane said.”
Read more

– “Yelm Business Association Holds Second General Meeting”
Yelm Business Association Executive Director Dan Crowe of Crowe Law notes members’ work groups, saying “the YBA has more of an advocacy position where the chamber has more of a marketing and networking position.
Read more from the NVN.

– “Regional Tourism Expert Spoke at Joint Chamber/Yelm Business Association Meeting”
“You cant really do economic development if you dont have strong public/private relationships. You can try to do that (create a business culture) alone with the private sector, which we do, but you really cant do it effectively unless you have jurisdictions and partners really working together well to create a culture that is really strong for private sector business to thrive,” Thurston County Economic Development Council Deputy Director Renee Sundee.
Read more from the NVN.

– Olympia tourism official George Sharp recently spoke in Yelm
Gave 15 points on “How to attract and keep Visitors in Your Yelm Business and Community”
Read more

– Bottom line
The Nisqually Valley News question of the week of January 16th asked:
“What is the biggest difference noticed in the past 5-10 years?”
Most of all of the responses had to do with unbridled growth.

Yelm citizen Brian Hess penned a thoughtful Letter to the Editor:
“Which Direction Are the Leaders of This Community Taking Us?”
“When was the last time that the city leaders reached out to the residents of Yelm with an open and honest discussion about what is going on.”


January 26, 2015

Introducing “Better Thurston”

From The Better Thurston Steering Committee:
“Please join us in asking Commissioners Wolfe, Romero and Blake to put an election of freeholders on the ballot in November.

Over the past several months we have communicated our idea to the community and met with resounding support from people of all political persuasions. They agree that it is time to take a look at the structure and create one that is better suited for the looming growth.

Republicans, democrats, and business owners along with Congressman Denny Heck, Former Secretary of State Sam Reed, State Representatives Sam Hunt and Chris Reykdal and many more have joined forces to ask the Commissioners to pass a resolution putting an election of freeholders on the ballot this November. Will you join this growing coalition?”

“Join us as we pack the room at the County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, January 27th at 2 PM and make a 3 minute or less request under public comment. 2000 Lakeridge Drive, Building 1 Room 280. Please attend in support even if you dont wish to speak.”
Read more

January 25, 2015

“New drone rules proposed” limiting surveillance

“Drones fly at the Autel booth during the International Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.” Photo credit: John Locher, The Associated Press.

From Melissa Santos, The Olympian:
“State lawmakers are again working to limit government and police use of drones after their most recent attempt was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

At least two proposals this year would require government agencies to get a search warrant before using unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, to conduct surveillance on individuals.

The ACLU is supporting Taylors bill, which the organization also helped draft.

Yet the measure still includes language that would limit public disclosure and retention of personal information collected by government drones, which was part of why Inslee vetoed Taylors previous legislation in 2014.

When vetoing the bill last year, Inslee announced a 15-month moratorium on state agency use of drones, which he said would give the Legislature time to craft new regulations.

Taylor said he altered his proposal this year so that it would no longer require personal data, recordings or photos collected by drones to be destroyed as quickly. He said his intent with the new bill is to let agencies keep images and recordings of people for about a year if they might be needed as part of an investigation.”
Read more

January 25, 2015

Seahawks travel to Phoenix

Sea-Tac Int’l Airport workers line the ramp in front of the Delta Airlines hanger to see the Seahawks depart for Phoenix. Photo credit: KING-5 TV, Seattle

“Before the Seahawks arrived in Arizona, they got a send-off fit for kings as they made the trek from Virginia Mason Athletic Center to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.”

“The Seahawks boarded jets headed for Arizona, where they take on the New England Patriots next Sunday in their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champs.

‘Most amazing sendoff you could ever imagine!’ Tweeted Pete Carroll. ‘We can feel the connection and we are so grateful! We love you #12s!’

‘I love this city and I love this team,’ Russell Wilson tweeted,” quoting KING-5 TV News in Seattle.
Read more

Editor’s Note:
Seahawk One operated as Delta Airlines 8872, a Puget Sound-built Boeing built 767-400, which then ferried from Phoenix to Boston to carry the New England Patriots from Boston to Phoenix tomorrow. Delta flight 198 from Seoul, South Korea landed on runway 1-6 Center just prior to the Seahawks One departure to the north on adjacent runway 3-4 Right, which after waving to Seattle, then turned left to the south flying over Bremerton & Tacoma (their aircraft clearly visible from Yelm on a clear Sunday mid-morning.)
Click here

January 25, 2015

Thurston County’s Food Waste Survey

From Thurston County Solid Waste:
“Wed like to get your input on the issue of wasted food and our outreach efforts to date. Please help us by taking our short survey.”
Read more

January 24, 2015

“Warning: Is Your Pastor a False Teacher?”

By Pastor Sylvia Peterson from her Nisqually Valley News column, Fri., Jan. 23:

“There is a pastor within my professional circle who causes me concern. When I hear him speak or read something he has written, the what doesnt fit the how.

Pastor Fred knows the Bible. He can check all the right boxes on a Christianity quiz. His doctrine (what he believes) sounds solid. So what is it about Pastor Fred that doesnt feel right?

Can someone be in church leadership for decades and be a false teacher?”

Is there a consistent discrepancy between teaching and doing? Does your leader preach peace and live conflict? Do they talk about joy but exhibit negativity? Write about kindness, gentleness and mercy, yet lead from an unapproachable position of authority?

Because false teachers see themselves through their own reflection, they rarely see their teaching as false. Thats why those who are called to lead need periodic evaluation. Its how we mature

So if you cower at the thought of talking to your pastor about these indicators, cut out this column and mail it to him or her. The Holy Spirit will take it from there.”

Sylvia Peterson is co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church.
Read more

Editor’s Note:

BRAVO to Pastor Peterson for this simple and courageous story.
She is bang-on.
While we do not know for sure to whom she is referencing, Pastor Jeff Adams of Paramount Christian Church in Yelm would be the key individual that qualifies here.

Adams’ previous “Religious Columns” in the Nisqually Valley News were so condemning and derogatory against JZ Knight, RSE students and their families, that he had to cease such vile comments or his column was no longer to be considered “religious” nor “spiritual.”

While Adams ceased mention of JZ Knight and RSE in his newspaper column, the “fine” Pastor Adams has taken to social media to continue his diatribe against a segment of Yelm’s residents.

I commend Pastor Sylvia for bringing this matter to the community’s attention. Pastor Adams’ divisiveness in the name of Christian teachings should have no place here!

January 23, 2015

Commissioner Romero’s Coffee Mon., Jan. 26 – in Yelm,

Sandra Romero

Please join Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero, as she hosts her monthly informal coffee hours in Rainier and Yelm on Monday, January 26th, with guest SPSCC President Dr. Timothy Stokes, and learn about the programs that the college has to offer for new and returning students.

There is a lot happening in Thurston County and we want to hear from you!
Once a month, Commissioner Romero meets with community members for informal coffee chats. These meetings give you the opportunity to talk about issues of concern, ask her questions about the county, and share ideas. Commissioner Romero provides participants’ coffee. She is the representative of District 2, which includes Yelm, Lacey, and Rainier.

Citizen meeting with 2nd district County Commissioner Sandra Romero

Monday, January 26th, 2014

– Rainier: 9:30am 10:30am at Rainier City Hall, 102 Rochester St W

– Yelm: 11:00am Noon Tacos Gaby, 307 Yelm Ave SE
Read more

January 23, 2015

Reminder: The SmileMobile is in Yelm this week

The Washington Dental Service Foundation SmileMobile is in Yelm:

January 20-28: Yelm Middle School. 402 Yelm Ave

About the SmileMobile:
“The SmileMobile, a modern three chair dental office on wheels, brings oral health services year-round to low-income children with limited access to a dentist. Since it first hit the road in July 1995, the mobile clinic has treated more than 25,000 children throughout Washingtonan average of 60 children each week. In 2010, with the help of 96 volunteer dental professionals, the SmileMobile examined 2,006 children, provided treatment to 1,238 and 3,695 preventive Services.

SmileMobile services range from examinations and preventive care to fillings and minor oral surgery all provided at little or no cost to patients. The SmileMobile is a partnership between Washington Dental Service, Washington Dental Service Foundation, and Seattle Childrens Hospital.”
For more information, call contact 1-800-572-7835 ext. 6303 or 206-517-6303.
Read more

January 22, 2015

Todd Skinner’s Bunkhouse Restaurant closed

Editor’s Note:
Yesterday I noticed that the signs were gone and the shades drawn at Todd Skinner’s Bunkhouse Restaurant on the west end of the city limits. This morning I stopped by and a lady answered the door and said the Bunkhouse had closed and new management would be announced “by the end of the month.”

Skinner is a former Air Force cook and had owned of The Bunkhouse in McKenna, relocated the business to Yelm and temporarily operated a second restaurant, Big Daddy’s on the Green at the Tahoma Valley Golf Course. He was also a former director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce.

The Yelm Community Blog thanks Todd for his contributions to Yelm and sends best wishes in his next endeavor.


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