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A tribute to Yelm Public Works Director Ryan Johnstone –
Leaving Yelm for new post in Bonney Lake

Yelm Public Works Director Ryan Johnstone
Photo credit: Steven Wyble, Nisqually Valley News
Published June 21, 2013

– Ryan Johnstone to leave as Yelm Public Works Director for position in Bonney Lake
On Wednesday, May 25, Yelm City Clerk/HR Manager Janine Schnepf, CMC announced:
“Ryan Johnstone has accepted a position with the City of Bonney Lake. After three years with the City, he will be leaving in the middle of June 2016.

Ryan was hired in June of 2013 as Public Works Director. Ryan brought with him his thoughtful approach and proactive ideas to improve the operations of the Public Works Department and the City. We will miss Ryan as he moves on to a new career adventure in Bonney Lake, but thankful he is leaving behind some of his positive energy and a job well done.”

– The Nisqually Valley News heralded Mr. Johnstone’s arrival in Yelm June 21, 2013
“Consultant hired as Public Works director: Johnstone is familiar with Yelm, framework of his new positions”
“Ryan Johnstone, a professional engineer, has worked with the city often during his nearly seven years as an engineer for the firm Parametrix, on such projects as the city’s downtown well upgrade and water reclamation facility projects.”

“City Administrator Shelly Badger said Johnstone brings a strong civil engineering background to the city, with key knowledge of water, sewer, reclaimed water and public works infrastructure management.”

“‘I’m really looking forward to being able to be here for a long time and being able to help the community in all different areas of what would be part of public works,’ he said.’ … I’m just really hoping that I can be a useful part of the community and one that can help improve the quality of life here,'” quoting Steven Wyble, Nisqually Valley News
Read more

– Editor’s note:
The Yelm Community Blog concurs with City of Yelm Clerk Schnepf that Mr. Johnstone “is leaving behind some of his positive energy and a job well done.”

First-off, I am deeply saddened that a man of Ryan Johnstone’s integrity, experience, genuineness and public likeability is leaving Yelm.

Secondly, Department Heads are a vital team for any city. They lean on each other, share ideas, discuss solutions and work through issues for the upliftment of the public, the Mayor and City Administrator under who they serve, the City Council, and their City Hall colleagues.

Therefore, I am VERY concerned that Chief Stancil and Community Dev. Dir. Grant Beck have lost two of their vital Department Head colleagues (City Administrator Shelly Badger & Johnstone) with whom they were able to kick-back and “blow off some stream.” As a former corporate director, I can tell you morale among management leaders and their staff must be top priority.

As an example, at the height of the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s, CBS New Anchor Walter Cronkite believed that the war was unwinnable and indefensible after reporting on what was known as the Tet Offensive. President Johnson reportedly said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country.” Riots started to end the war & Johnson was forced to not seek another term as President.
My point: With all of the other issues in Yelm, the morale of city staffers must be at an all-time low with this news & needs immediately to be addressed. Mayor Harding has now lost the “war” where a lack of staffing resources is “unwinnable and indefensible.”

Mr. Johnstone gave a Staff Report at Tuesday’s Council session about aging equipment in Public Works and how parts for the city’s old meter readers are not workable and no longer manufactured while being utilized way beyond their design capacity, forcing the city into a costly replacement to get some reliable units here in short order.

This is not the only Public Works item in this condition – indeed, several facets of the city’s Public Works infrastructure have deteriorated like the meter readers, and if something is not done soon, the Mayor and Councilors will be called in at 3am for an emergency session to handle immediately funding water/sewer issues when those facilities are in the midst of a breakdown, their constituents awaken without water or sewage capabilities.

If Seattle City Light’s electrical infrastructure breakdown yesterday was not warning enough where a large part of downtown Seattle was in the dark for hours, then Yelm citizens should be aware that one day soon they will awaken with no water which has previously been described on the Yelm Community Blog.

And last, the Council authorized big bucks Tuesday night when finally approached by the Mayor via the council’s agenda to hire a “Head Hunter” seeking a City Administrator almost a year after Shelly Badger gave notice (June 5, 2015) and after the debacle with the previous candidate. The Council will almost certainly be forced to hire a “Head Hunter” to replace Mr. Johnstone, for when truly qualified persons for this type of position perform a thorough “due diligence” and ask the really tough questions to finally grasp the big picture, those prospective candidates are not interested in Yelm, a contributing factor to the large volume of unsatisfactory and less experienced City Administrator applicants and a chief reason the city does not draw in a good talent pool.

While I understand this may be difficult to hear, this IS what is “out there” on the street.


– “Staffing Levels Below Ideal for City of Yelm”
* “Budget Woes: Police Chief Would Like to Add Three New Officers”
By Graham Perednia, Nisqually Valley News.
Read more

Posted by Steve on May 26, 2016 at 6:05 am | Permalink

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