November 30, 2017

‘Christmas in the Park’ Parade and Family Fun – Sat., Dec. 2nd

Photo credit: Yelm Chamber of Commerce, circa 1990

The 29th Annual Christmas in the Park Parade!
Saturday, December 2nd

The Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas parade is the kick-off to the holiday season. We invite all our local businesses and organizations to join the Saturday morning parade, held the first Saturday of December. We also invite area citizens to come out and enjoy the spectacle!
The Parade starts at 9:30am.
Followed by a day of holiday cheer and family-fun activities at Yelm City Park.
The community blessing and lighting of the Christmas Tree and Water Tower will begin at 4:30pm.
Sponsored by the Yelm Chamber and city of Yelm’s Parks Advisory Committee.
Read more

– Editor’s Note:
Former Mayor Ron Harding said this about Christmas in the Park, “a traditional centerpiece for the city of Yelm and those who have called this place home for many, many years.”

This IS true as I can attest, for I was here for the very first Christmas in the Park celebration in 1989 after moving to Yelm in September 1988.

November 30, 2017

Yelm Senior Center Holiday Bazaar this Friday & Saturday

Credit: Yelm Senior Center

November 29, 2017

Port of Olympia approves higher property tax levy in 2018 –
How much more can Yelm residents take in taxes/fees?”

– “Property owners will pay more in taxes to the Port of Olympia in 2018”
“The Port of Olympia commission voted 2-1 Monday night to approve three things tied to next year’s budget, including a higher property tax levy.

But the tax rate the commission approved won’t pay for all of the proposed projects the port is considering.

Those with a home valued at $262,000 — the typical property owner used by the port — will pay $51.27 a year to the port in 2018, compared to $45.36 this year. That’s based on a 19-cent-per-$1,000 property tax rate.”

“Commissioner E.J. Zita voted against all three budget-related items, including the tax hike.”

“McGregor supported increasing the levy by 4 cents because it ‘allows us to continue to do those other things in the community.’

“Zita countered that the port should only take the value of new construction and not increase the levy.

“Downing wasn’t happy with the 4-cent rate hike, but finally voiced support for a 3-cent increase. McGregor changed his mind and agreed with Downing. They finally voted to approve the levy at 19 cents per $1,000,” by Rolf Boone, The Olympian.
Read more

– Editor’s note:
This blogger supported McGregor’s Port Commission opponent Bill Fishburn to get a different mindset elected there.

November 29, 2017

JW Foster sworn-in November 28th as Yelm’s elected mayor,
This elected mayor is in a different position than as an appointed, interim mayor,
New new council is expected to be aggressively asking questions of city leaders.
Foster has a big job to unify Yelm with half of voters wanting change.

Scroll down for specifics of last night’s council session.
The Oath of Office of City of Yelm Mayor is at bottom below.

– Editor’s Note:
What I witnessed of last night’s city council session was the way a council should operate, and in my opinion, for the first time since Kathy Wolfe was mayor in the 1990s. Four engaging councilors who were well-prepared on the issues asked tough and thorough questions and challenged the Public Works Director and City Administrator at various times, kept the mayor on-process, listened to the public intently, and even if they disagreed with each other, voiced their concerns without fear of retribution, took action, and were leaders. The shining star last night was just-inaugurated Councilor Cody Colt who brought a new, fresh set of eyes to issues and was unafraid of speaking-up. He was well educated on all of the nuances of the water/sewer rate increases proposals and asked potent questions exactly where needed. I was very impressed with Tracey Wood last night and in recent months. He has come into his own and unafraid to speak his mind, seemingly since Harding left. He’s been spot-on in his support of the public’s interests and shined last night. Councilors Carmody and DePinto were stellar, as usual. While this was over a 2 hour meeting, much city business got accomplished, including solicitation regulations (pan-handling) and a public hearing on raising water/sewer rates. The sewer rate increases passed. And nice to see citizens come in and challenge the city council on raising water/sewer rates, all raising excellent points, including questioning why a Community Center was built partially using water/sewer funds after being voted down twice, and now the city must raise water/sewer rates significantly.

Last night’s take-away:
This elected mayor is in a different position than as an appointed, interim mayor following in Harding’s footsteps. Foster had 49.4% of voters that did not choose him and a council that clearly demonstrated they will not slam-dunk and vote in lock-step with this mayor’s influence. Will be interesting to see the discussions in the Study Sessions ahead. This was NOT a “complicit” council like others since 2001, rather had a synergy that for the most part, was like a fine-tuned engine.

While everyone acknowledges Foster is a good guy, good guys do not necessarily make good mayors, as this city has seen in the past. One thing was crystal clear last night, the city’s Legislative Branch (council) will be exercising their proper role as leader, especially being the checks/balances of the Executive Branch (Mayor, City Administrator). And now the Judicial Branch will be changing with a coming new city attorney contract (was announced last night that city attorney Brent Dille is leaving his firm), which is good news as Yelm has not been well-served in recent years from what has become another relic of the Harding era that needed to go.
Changes are afoot in Yelm governance, something I am VERY pleased to witness.

Steve Klein

– With JW Foster, new councilor Cody Colt inaugurated last night, changes are afoot
* 49.4% of Yelm voters did not vote for Foster, so he needs to unite voters.
The Oath of Office of City of Yelm Mayor is at bottom below.

* With 49.4% voting for DePinto as mayor, the new council should select DePinto as Mayor Pro-tem.

* After an acknowledgement of departing councilor Littlefield’s service, Foster’s first order of business as Yelm’s elected mayor was directing Pubic Hearings on monthly Sewer Fees and Water Consumption rate increases.

* Colt was very focused, Public Works Dir. commended his great question last night. His clear understanding of the process was refreshing and the manner of comments he raised was superb!

* Colt, DePinto, Wood and Carmody all raised outstanding questions during the water/sewer hearing. Yelm citizens raised several issues at the Public Hearing and while the sewer rate increases passed, the water rate increases were put on-hold until the new councilor can be fully briefed at next week’s study session as recommended by councilor Curry.

* City Administrator Grayum announced city attorney Brent Dille will be leaving his firm (from where he has represented the city) to go on his own. This will require the council to be presented contract proposals on this vacancy soon.

*’s word of 2017: complicit
“Complicit” is the word I have used many times about previous councils, and as is foreseen, may no longer be applicable with this new council, as admirably demonstrated last night.

* Yelm will be out of available water allocation during this mayor’s term at the city’s rate of permit issuance, halting growth. Foster finally acknowledged this major issue Nov. 3rd:
“‘If the powers that be say ‘Yelm, you’re not getting any more water,’ then Yelm isn’t going to get any more water and we’ll figure out how to survive as a municipality without growth, that’s just the way it’s going to be,’ Foster said,” quoting the Nisqually Valley News (NVN).

* The council’s November 7th Study Session highlighted disagreements on strategies of economic development with excellent points raised by councilors Littlefield and Wood. They noted that rehashing the same policies that have not worked is not wise, i.e. like currently a high-cost proposal hiring a company to craft economic development recommendations. After all, this is a “bedroom community” with no industry, manufacturing, or corporate diversity.
Brilliantly expressed by Councilor Tracey Wood: “I believe it (Buxton) is a complete waste of our money. Somehow there is a vision here that we need to become a large city and..that is not the communication I am getting from the citizens in the community I am in contact with. I think we’re spending money that is not in the best interest of our citizens.”

* What is Yelm’s Plan for the future?
Is there one and has the public been educated and informed?
Growth here is set to become stalled during the next 4 years as Yelm reaches the city’s maximum water allocation from the Dept. of Ecology.
What then?
How much can this city tax and raise fees on residents until they’re forced to leave?

– Bottom line:
* “Establishment candidates like Foster were disfavored due to low voter turnout plus Republicans taking a hit this year. Foster aligned himself in February by highlighting a large number of endorsements from Republicans plus Republicans turned Independents, which may have dragged his vote count lower.

* On Oct. 23, 2017, I called on the mayor-elect to form a committee of the best minds in the South Sound to immediately deal maturely with developing a revenue stream impacted and limited by water availability. The days of issuing permits as a city cash register are over. I recommend Foster appoint DePinto as Yelm’s water czar to immediately form and lead such a committee. This is of vital importance!

– Oath of Office by Mayor Foster on November 28, 2017
“I, JW Foster, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and the laws of the State of Washington, and I will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of City of Yelm mayor, according to law to the best of my ability.”

November 29, 2017

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sues Uber

WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson

– Editor’s note:
One of former Mayor Harding’s last official acts before his July 22, 2016 resignation was to officially launch Uber in Yelm July 15, 2016.

– From the Washington State Office of Attorney General
AG Ferguson files multi-million dollar lawsuit against Uber for failing to report massive data breach
Notice comes more than a year after discovery of the breach

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today [Nov. 28] filed a multi-million dollar consumer protection lawsuit against ride sharing company Uber, alleging thousands of violations of the state’s data breach notification law. Uber discovered a data breach potentially affecting 57 million passengers and drivers around the world, including the names and driver’s license numbers of at least 10,888 Uber drivers in Washington.

Under a 2015 amendment to the state’s data breach law requested by Ferguson, consumers must be notified within 45 days of a breach, and the Attorney General’s Office also must be notified within 45 days if the breach affects 500 or more Washingtonians. This is the first lawsuit filed under the revised statute.

“Washington law is clear: When a data breach puts people at risk, businesses must inform them,” Ferguson said. “Uber’s conduct has been truly stunning. There is no excuse for keeping this information from consumers.”

The complaint, filed today in King County Superior Court, alleges thousands of violations of Washington’s data breach law by failing to notify affected drivers and the Attorney General’s Office within 45 days of the breach.
Read more

November 28, 2017

Homelessness on the West Coast soars in numbers, includes Yelm

Homeless in Tacoma: A City Club of Tacoma Program
Photo credit: The Pierce Progressive,
The News Tribune Photo Essay by Matt Driscoll

– Editor’s note:
The Yelm city council was recently briefed by Chief Stancil on mitigating homelessness here in Yelm. And the issue of children in homeless families attending Yelm Community Schools has been discussed several times previously on this blog.

– “Amid booming economy, homelessness soars on US West Coast”
“That struggle is not Seattle’s alone. A homeless crisis of unprecedented proportions is rocking the West Coast, and its victims are being left behind by the very things that mark the region’s success: soaring housing costs, rock-bottom vacancy rates and a roaring economy that waits for no one. All along the coast, elected officials are scrambling for solutions.

‘I’ve got economically zero unemployment in my city, and I’ve got thousands of homeless people that actually are working and just can’t afford housing,’ said Seattle City Councilman Mike O’Brien. ‘There’s nowhere for these folks to move to. Every time we open up a new place, it fills up.’

The rising numbers of homeless people have pushed abject poverty into the open like never before and have overwhelmed cities and nonprofits. The surge in people living on the streets has put public health at risk, led several cities to declare states of emergency and forced cities and counties to spend millions – in some cases billions – in a search for solutions,” by the Associated Press via KIRO 97.3 FM radio, Seattle-Tacoma.
Read more

November 27, 2017

DePinto only 14 votes behind Foster in today’s election update,
Foster to be sworn-in as an elected mayor Tuesday, 6pm.
1st directive: Sewer & Water Rate Increases at a Public Hearing

Mayor-elect JW Foster
Photo credit: City of Yelm

– Story Highlights
* Foster currently winning by only 14 votes.
* Election results finalized Tuesday morning.
* Mayor-elect JW Foster to be sworn-in Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 6pm,
* Pos. 3 Councilor Littlefield leaves post, Councilor-elect Colt sworn-in Tuesday.
* Mayor’s 1st order of business to direct council hearing on water/sewer rate increases.
* Water rates increase proposal: 9.25% over seven years,
* Sewer increase proposal: (5% 2018 & 2019, 4.5% 2020, tiered structure from 2018).
* Latest 2017 Yelm election numbers analysis from County Auditor is below.
* Incumbents challenged throughout Puget Sound, their policies elicited voters wanting change!

– Tuesday, November 28 City Council Agenda
At 11am this morning, the City of Yelm posted the city council agenda for tomorrow night noting that Councilor Littlefield is leaving her post prior to the end of the year with her Pos. 3 councilor-elect Cody Colt being sworn-in tomorrow followed by a Littlefield appreciation. What is interesting is that councilor Hendrickson will remain until his Pos. 7 term ends at the end of the year, while his opponent Colt who defeated him for Pos. 3 will also be seated on the dais with him Nov. 28 and the December council sessions. Kaminski to be sworn-in for Pos. 7 in January.

Mayor-elect Foster will also be sworn-in tomorrow night. His first directive as an elected Mayor of Yelm will be to direct a Public Hearing on sewer rates increases (9.25% over seven years), water consumption rate increases (5% for years 2018 and 2019, and a 4.5% increase in 2020 with a new four tier rate structure beginning in 2018), and regulation of solicitation.

Editor’s note:
This was a regular Harding administration tactic – to place a seemingly unpopular issue on the council’s agenda at their session nearest the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and/or provide little advance public announcement, as in this case with one day prior notice.

The time to publicly comment is NOW [Tuesday at 6pm, Yelm Public Safety Bldg.], not after this is enacted and you are angry with sticker shock when you get the bills!

– The 2017 election numbers to be certified Nov. 28th.
Latest official population figure for Yelm was in 2014 = 8,223
Yelm’s estimated population in 2017 = 9,433
City of Yelm registered voters: 4,485
City of Yelm’s voters in this election to date: 1,275 = 28.43% of Yelm’s registered voters, lowest turn-out of all Thurston County cities and towns.
Thurston County Voter Turn-out = 34.3%
Read more from Thurston County Auditor’s Office.

To date, 13.52% of Yelm’s 2017 estimated population voted in this election.

The Thurston County Auditor’s Office released election results at approximately 4:40pm today. Final tabulation and certification Nov. 28th.
Total votes listed below do not include write-ins.

City of Yelm Mayor
Candidate Vote
Joe DePinto 619
JW Foster 633
Difference = 14 votes
Total Votes 1,252

City of Yelm City Council, Position No. 3
Candidate Vote
Cody Colt 603
Russ Hendrickson 534
Difference = 69 votes
Total Votes 1,137

City of Yelm City Council, Position No. 7
Candidate Vote
James C. Blair 556
Terry Kaminski 627
Difference = 71 votes
Total Votes 1,183

Uncontested Council positions all received less than 900 votes each:
Pos. 1, EJ Curry 874
Pos. 3, Tad Stillwell 903
Pos. 4, Tracey Wood 884

November 27, 2017

“‘Giving Tuesday’ – a global day of giving” is Tuesday Nov. 28, 2017

Credit: #GivingTuesday

– About #GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

“Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We’ve created a directory to help you find organizations, charities, events and more in your own community.”
Read more

Click here for donation options in the Yelm area.

– “Take Part”
“This November 28th, join the movement and give – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community.

“It’s a simple idea. Whether you come together with your family, your community, your company or your organization, find a way to give back and then share your idea. Get started below by choosing a path below.”
Read more

November 26, 2017

Introducing “Raise for Rowyn” to Yelm Blog readers –
Rowyn’s legacy deserves your consideration for “Giving Tuesday” Nov. 28th

– Editor’s Note:
A few months ago, I received an invitation from a dear friend in Tenino inviting me to meet the founder of Raise for Rowyn and her non-profit’s colleague. She knew I was vitally interested in engaging with our area’s unique founders of remarkable organizations that uplift families here and beyond. While I told her I knew of the Raise for Rowyn stories reported in the print media, I was uninformed of much more, so gladly accepted this invitation. I met with Brynn Johnson, founder of Raise for Rowyn (her daughter’s name) and a mother from Tenino who lost her young daughter in a tragic accident. Joining us was her Raise for Rowyn charitable organization’s Executive Director, Jen Scharber. We had a lively, wide-ranging conversation for an hour and a half.

I was so inspired about how Brynn handled her grief and moved out of the painful abyss by creating a vehicle to assist other families with similar experiences. Brynn and Jen have created a beautiful legacy for Rowyn which will continue to light the way for others now and long into the future. I am pleased to share this information with Yelm Community Blog readers.
Steve Klein

Click here to donate on Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2017, or anytime.

– The Mission of Raise for Rowyn
“To provide financial assistance and emotional support to families struggling with the loss of a child.
“Raise for Rowyn has helped 157 families in 18 states with Mortuary and Funeral expenses.”
Read more

– The Story of Rowyn and the legacy she inspired
“September 16th, 2014 began as an ordinary day for our families. We are just two mothers who were working together for school pick-ups and drop-offs of our two young sons. It was their third day of preschool, the sun was shining and the air was just beginning to feel crisp for fall. We were working to get the boys loaded in the car when little 17 month old Rowyn climbed backwards down the front porch steps in her baby blue pajamas to come see us. Her big brother did not want to go to school that day and he was crying. Having known one another for quite some time and our kids being in daycare together, we decided to just shut the car door and go anyway, knowing his tears would be short lived. We waved one last time, and the car slowly pulled forward. Somehow in a matter of seconds Rowyn was not where we thought she was. Paramedics say that Rowyn was killed instantly, and despite our desperate attempts to save her life there was nothing we could have done. The tragedy of September 16th has left holes and emptiness in many hearts. There is nothing we can do to rewind the day, but we hope to honor her memory with Raise for Rowyn.”
Read more

– “Support Raise for Rowyn while you Shop Amazon and Fred Meyer”
Click here, scroll down to learn more.

– Upcoming 2018 Fundraising Events in South Puget Sound
Click here

Raise for Rowyn
PO Box 631
448 Sussex Ave. E. Ste 2
Tenino WA 98589

November 25, 2017

Washington leads in long term care for residents to age in place

“Long-term care varies nationwide.”
Credit: AARP

– “Where Long-Term Care Works”
“Washington leads all states in helping residents age in place”
“More than 9 in 10 Americans want to live at home or with a relative — rather than in a nursing home — for as long as possible. But experts predict that more than half the population, after turning 65, will develop a disability so severe they’ll need assistance.

Whether and how they’ll get that assistance depends greatly on where they live. Some states are better at providing the services and support necessary to help older adults and those with disabilities who want to continue living in the community, and their family caregivers. In states that do it well, that’s good for those who need care.

Washington is the state that does it best, according to a scorecard compiled by the AARP Public Policy Institute, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation. The Evergreen State ranked consistently high in four of five areas in which states provide support for people needing long-term assistance or their family caregivers.

That’s because Washington officials have made support for home and community-based care a state priority, policy experts say. The state has provided a wide range of options — including adult day care, assisted living and adult foster care — to meet the needs of its growing older population. By 2030, 21 percent of Washington’s population is expected to be age 65-plus, compared with 15 percent now,” by Larry Lipman and Dana E. Neuts, AARP Bulletin.
Read more


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