July 24, 2016

Nisqually Land Trust’s rafting trip showcases area jewel

Map courtesy Nisqually Land Trust

My wife and I spent a delightful day on Saturday, July 23rd with the Nisqually Land Trust’s (NLT) river-rafting float trip of the Nisqually River, NLT being one of the stewards working to protect the river’s watershed (see map above)!

After assembling at Wilcox Farm at 9am, the group was bused to the put-in point at Nisqually-Mashel State Park, near Eatonville. Our bus passed through the recently restored Ohop Valley, part of the Puget Sound and the tributaries salmon recovery area, where we were updated on this project.
Read more on the salmon recovery efforts in the Ohop Valley, covered here October 17, 2010.

Photo courtesy Nisqually Land Trust

Participants filled 9 rafts and journeyed 13 miles down a remote, mostly undisturbed stretch of the Nisqually. Along the way we saw sweeping and undeveloped landscapes, including some of the Trusts conservation lands, wild animals and birds, all while enjoying the quiet, only broken by the rustling of the wind through the cottonwoods or pass ducks, hawks and swallows.

Half way through the journey, we were served a wonderful lunch on-shore. Our trip ended approximately 4pm back at Wilcox Farm, where our vehicles were waiting for us.

We were joined on the trip by Land Trust Staff, including the recently retired NLT president since the 1989 formation, George Walter, NLT Executive Director Joe Kane, NLT Land Steward Charly Kearns in our raft, and several other NLT personnel, who provided color and insights with their commentary along the way, staffing each raft.
Read more about the NRT’s terrific staff.

About the Nisqually Land Trust
“Founded in 1989, the Nisqually Land Trust acquires and manages critical lands to permanently benefit the water, wildlife, and people of the Nisqually River Watershed. Today we protect over 5,125 acres between the park and the wildlife refuge.” quoting the website.

How You Can Help
Read more on the various ways of giving to help purchase, protect, restore and manage natural areas and wildlife habitat in the Nisqually River Basin.

Read more and sign-up for volunteer opportunities.



July 23, 2016

Yelm area issues of note in the news –
Mayor Harding’s departure highlights loss of city staff leaders

Mayor Ron Harding

– Yelm Mayor Ron Harding reportedly accepts City Administrator post in Oregon town
* Harding’s last day as Yelm’s Mayor is August 9, reportedly becoming City Administrator in Aumsville, OR, replacing Maryann Hills, who left to take on new challenges after serving almost 21 years as City Administrator. Read more
* A formal announcement will be made of Harding’s new Aumsville, OR. position on July 26
* City Council must appoint interim mayor within 90 days to fill term until Nov. 2017 election
* City Council will then have to appoint an interim City Councilor to fill that vacated seat
* Tues., July 26 is mayor’s last City Council session, July 27 is last Mayor’s Report at Study Session
* Harding’s leaving echoes other high-profile staff departures: City Admin., Public Works Dir., Comm. Dev. staff, etc.
Read more

– “Thurston plastic bag ban survey reveals a mixed bag of results”
* Results of plastic bag ban survey shared with Thurston County commissioners
* Survey required at two-year mark of ban
* Results will be shared with other bag-ban cities

“Thurston County’s recently completed plastic bag ban survey of businesses indicates waste is down but costs are up for businesses the ban affects,” by Rolf Boone, The Olympian.
Read more

– “Vehicle fees may rise for unincorporated Thurston County resident”
* Public hearing on the proposal set for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 16

“Drivers who live in unincorporated Thurston County could soon face a $20 per vehicle annual license fee to help raise money for transportation projects.

In their role as the Thurston County Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Board, the three-member Board of County Commissioners agreed Tuesday [July 19] to set a public hearing on the fee proposal,” quoting Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian.
Read more

July 22, 2016

Yelm Mayor Ron Harding resigns – accepts City Admin. job elsewhere

Mayor Ron Harding

– Yelm Mayor Ron Harding resigns

Editor’s Note:
Mayor Harding provided the following statement with city staff, the public document shared with the Yelm Community Blog:

It’s with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation from my position of mayor for the city of Yelm. I have accepted a position as a city administrator in another community and will be required to relinquish my position as mayor to be able to fulfill that commitment. My resignation will be effective Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. [Editor’s note: The City Council meeting begins that day at 6pm.]

I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished together over the past eleven years and I leave with confidence that city staff will continue to serve our residents well. As I look back on these accomplishments, I am still amazed at not only the amenities our city provides but the level of services we maintain for a community of our size and the adversities we have overcome throughout this period.

Although my transition time will be fairly short, a process will be in place to ensure a stable transition for the next mayor.

Yelm has been my home for my entire life. To say that I feel personally invested in this community and the people who live here is an understatement. It has been a wonderful honor to serve as mayor and watch Yelm grow, develop, and transform into something new while still preserving the traditions and history at the heart of our community.

While I am sad to leave my position with the city of Yelm, I am equally excited about this new opportunity for myself and my family and am excited to discover a new chapter in my life. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the friends, family, city staff, and citizens who have made my time here truly remarkable.

Ron Harding

The Yelm Community Blog wishes Mr. Harding well in his new endeavors.
Mr. Harding has reportedly accepted the City Manager position in Sweet Home, Oregon, near Eugene, a job paid “up to $8,500 monthly” to serve “under the direction of the Mayor and the City Council.”
CORRECTION: Harding will become the City Administrator in Aumsville, Or.
A brief history of the 10 1/2 years of Mayor Harding’s legacy in Yelm will be published here soon.

July 22, 2016

July 22: WA. only Lower 48 state to have no 90+ degree heat

“National Weather Service shows temperatures in the continental United States as of 3 p.m. on Friday, July 22, 2016.
The National Weather Service forecasts that on Monday nearly all of the Lower 48 states
could hit 95 on the heat index somewhere, which factors in humidity.”
(National Weather Service via AP)

– “Washington the only refuge from national heat wave”
“An analysis by the Associated Press shows that every state in the lower 48 hit at least 90 degrees somewhere within its borders — except for Washington,” by Scott Sistek, KOMO TV-4 News.
Read more

July 22, 2016

Cloudy, wet conditions a prelude to a hot week ahead

Thunderstorm moved through Yelm area at 4am this morning
Photo courtesy: Rich Marriott, KING 5 TV News, Seattle

With the rare thunder storm moving across the Puget Sound region from the southwest early this morning, the National Weather Service forecast for the upcoming week reflects more normal end-of-July weather beginning Monday through the end of the month, with full sunny days and temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s, culminating in mid-90’s next weekend, with the potential to break some record highs in the upper 90’s by July 30.

Keep hydrated, sun-protected and aware of the heat’s effects on your pets.
Click here for the Yelm area forecast.

July 22, 2016

Uber officially launched in Yelm, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Thurston County

Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder take first Uber ride.
Photo courtesy: Target Zero Program

– “Uber, Visit Olympia, and Thurston County Target Zero Team Up to Offer Thurston County Residents Safe and Sober Rides Home”
Visit Olympia and Thurston County Target Zero are excited to announce the official launch of Uber in Olympia and Thurston County on Friday, July 15.”

“Uber will service all of Olympia and the surrounding area by seamlessly connecting riders to Uber drivers through the Uber app, making the entire region more accessible, opening up additional safe and reliable transportation options for locals and visitors, and creating more economic opportunity for residents.”

“As part of the launch, Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet, Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder, and Yelm Mayor Ron Harding joined Marshal the Courthouse Dog to be Olympia’s first official Uber riders,” quoting Thurston Talk.
Read more

July 21, 2016

Harding’s unabated Yelm growth causes stir –
Public Hearing July 25th on Tahoma Terra Phase II adding 198 new parcels

Mayor Ron Harding

– Mayor Harding makes one last stand for massive growth during his tenure
With Mayor Harding’s 3rd term coming to an end in December 2017 unless he gets accepted for a job elsewhere prior to that, the community is expressing outrage on social media with the further growth now proposed for Yelm.

Yelm proposes to add 198 new parcels in the Tahoma Terra Phase II Plat
On Monday, July 25th, a Public Hearing is scheduled to take comments on the proposed expansion of Yelm with 198 new parcels in Tahoma Terra’s Phase II. If approved, this would represent another 1,000 persons added to the population, which would be nearly 10,000 people in Yelm.

* What can YOU do?
The Hearing Examiner’s role on July 25th is to determine if the proposal for 198 new parcels is within Yelm’s existing regulations. While this proposal DOES meet existing qualifications, the Hearings Examiner needs to hear from the community on the many issues facing our town BEFORE he approves this development, i.e. city staffing crisis, police staffing “emergency,” crumbling public works infrastructure, and overpopulated schools on the west end of town. Councilor Molly Carmody says, “Please come to the public hearing to make your voices heard: ‘Is this development good for our community?'”

– Any growth has a major impact on Yelm Community Schools
Former Yelm Community Schools Superintendent Andy Wolf spoke of the burden on growth in the western end of town impacting schools there, with 2 bonds denied by voters to relieve the conditions. Now, Yelm is proposing to put more student strains on the infrastructure of schools on the west side of town that can’t take any more.

– Yelm currently has a staffing “emergency”
During the Yelm City Council session of July 12, Mayor Harding responded to Councilors there was no staffing issue here, yet on the June 29th Study Session video, which I obtained via a Public Documents Request, all 4 Department Heads (Finance, Public Works, Public Safety/Police, Community Dev.) described in detail a staffing “crisis” in each their departments. Community Dev. Dir. Grant Beck’s astute explanation that all of the city’s departments are at the point that if there was another vacancy in any of the departments (caused by injury, retirement, or resignation), the city would be in a very difficult position. Beck underscored that police staffing is at a critical point and requires immediate attention. Indeed, one councilor said the City of Yelm police dept. has a staffing “emergency,” with a lack of an appropriate number of officers for a city of Yelm’s size.
Where is the disconnect with Mayor Harding in saying there is no staffing issue in Yelm?

– “Yelm’s Population Increased by 19 Percent”
“The population of Yelm has grown by 19 percent since 2010, according to estimates released by the Washington State Financial Office last month. Population across the state increased by 1.7 percent in the same time frame,” by Graham Perednia, Nisqually Valley News, July 14, 2016.

– Yelm area citizens voice their concerns on social media
Citizens say Yelm’s infrastructure is unable to support such growth (i.e. traffic, water, sewer, schools).

* Julia Paris on the Nisqually Valley News Facebook page:
We need to become more conscious about managing and governing. progress is great, but it can also go overboard. the beauty of a rustic Yelm was forgone in the name of progress. all the orchards had to convert into cement pavements and roads to accommodate convenience. they could have been preseved (sic) with proper planning. small businesses are pushed out to make room for BOX stores. more taxes and more federal aid??? to support the growth. city mgt scurry about to solve problems they create. more personnel needed to manage it all. what are we really gaining and at what cost? people who have moved to the area to retire find themselves back to where they left. regulations and ordinances are out of control in all levels. in the end, Yelm is a corporation that needs to keep growing itself to become profitable at some point. It is not only our town, it is happening everywhere. if you want to know what is going on, get up and findout from the city council.
Read more comments here.

* Yelm Councilor Molly Carmody comments on Yelm Community Watch
“Folks, the Terra Tahoma developers are proposing an additional 62 houses in their plot [198 parcels in a 2 phased project]. It was originally approved in 2007, but got side-railed during the Recession. Now they’re reapplying and their proposal will be heard by a Hearing Examiner on July 25. His job is to determine whether or not the proposal meets existing Yelm regulations. While it DOES meet existing regulations, he probably isn’t aware of the many issues facing our community now (low city staffing, crumbling infrastructure, and overpopulated schools). Please come to the public hearing to make your voices heard: is this development good for our community? It would add a decent tax base, and shoppers for our businesses, but can we support it, logistically speaking? Yay or nay, speak up!”
Read more

July 20, 2016

Local women candidates on ballot deserve your attention

Two area women are candidates on the Primary ballot for public offices and deserve your attention:

– Thurston County Commission District 1 ~ Tenino, Tumwater, Olympia, Rural Rainier:
Diane Dondero (D-Rainier)

Diane Dondero
Photo Courtesy: Elect the People’s Candidate: Diane Dondero for Commissioner

– Diane Donero’s “Platform in a Nutshell”
Click here to read candiate Dondero’s Platform.

Click here for the campaign website.

– State Senator 2nd Legislative District:
Tamborinie Borrelli (D-Yelm)

Tamborine Borrelli of Yelm.
Photo Courtesy: Tamborine for Senate 2016

– “Tamborine Borrelli for Senate Campaign Kickoff Speech”
Watch the video here

Click here for the campaign website.

July 20, 2016

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge named for Billy Frank, Jr.

“U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell answers questions posed by students at the
Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Education Center on Tues. [July 19].”
Photo credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

– “Refuge that served as Billy Frank Jr.’s medicine now named for him”
“Hundreds of people — including tribal, local, state and federal leaders — gathered Tuesday [July 19] to celebrate the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge’s official name change to the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.”

“The event featured a prayer and songs by the Nisqually tribe’s Canoe Family and remarks from more than a dozen people, including U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, Nisqually Indian Tribe Chairman Farron McCloud, Squaxin Island Tribe Councilman Jim Peters and former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks.”

“Heck said he sponsored legislation to change the name of the refuge near Lacey, where the Nisqually River meets Puget Sound, because it fit in well with Frank’s legacy of promoting clean water and environmental stewardship,” quoting Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian.
Read more

July 20, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline for Aug. 2 Primary is July 25

– From Mary Hall, Thurston County Auditor:
Voter Registration Deadline for the August 2nd Primary Election –
The last day to register to vote ONLY if you are not registered in Washington to be eligible to vote in the next election. You must register in person at the auditor’s office in the county where you live. Thurston County Auditor’s office is located at:
2000 Lakeridge Dr SW
Bldg. 1, Rm. 118
Olympia, WA 98502
Click here for more information


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