“Overnight ramp closures will have signed detours in place. Drivers may see some delays and will want to plan for extra travel time or delay their trips, especially for work scheduled Thursday night, March 31. Please slowdown in work zones, drive the posted speeds, pay attention, and limit distractions.”
“When all lanes of southbound I-5 reopen by 6 a.m. Friday, drivers will be on the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge.”
“The schedule may change due to inclement weather. WSDOT will update advance closure notices on the statewide travel map.”
Tenino Strengthens Arts Support with Signage Project
Editor’s note: The Yelm City Council’s recent meetings reflect disarray about the direction of the city’s beautification and arts efforts. Click here for the video of the March 22nd meeting.
The Yelm Business Assn. (YBA) presented a draft Beautification Plan to the city council in July 2015, which was shelved by Mayor Ron Harding. There has been no plan presented publicly since.
There has been no clear explanation, no clear plan, and no clear reconciliation of council member Terri Kaminski disseminating some of Yelm’s $50,000 budget for the city’s beautification projects, including a proposal using public money for murals placed on private buildings, covered here previously on March 15.
While Yelm lagged for 7+ years on adopting a Beautification Plan encompassing art, scrappy Tenino down Highway 507, “is getting one step closer to its vision of becoming an arts hub” in south Thurston County.
And Olympia commissioned local artists to submit artwork to be printed and wrapped around traffic boxes.
The City of Tenino is getting one step closer to its vision of becoming an arts hub by applying for a capital project grant from the Washington State Arts Commission for creative district tourism signage.
“We’ve got the history of being creative as part of our DNA,” Mayor Wayne Fournier recently told The Chronicle, referencing the city’s stone-carving legacy. “We’ve got a lot of people here with a lot of talent. And we’re definitely wanting to support that. Artful communities are healthy communities. They’re more lively. They’re more economically viable and vibrant.”
The Tenino Creative District, which is organized and operated by the City of Tenino, has applied for a $13,800 capital project grant from the commission. In addition, it will receive a $2,000 operating grant this year.…
In 2020, the Washington State Arts Commission certified the Tenino Creative District, making it the seventh certified creative district in the state.
“Since 2015, the city of Olympia has commissioned local artists to submit artwork to be printed and wrapped around traffic boxes. There are currently 57 traffic box wraps on display, and 10 more are on their way.
“The Olympia City Council voted Tuesday night to approve 10 designs for the Traffic Box Wrap Public Art Project.
“The designs were voted on by the public through the city’s Engage Olympia webpage in February. More than 1,600 votes were cast on 58 submissions from area artists, and the top 10 were shared with the Arts Commission.
“The city uses money from the Municipal Art Fund to pay artists $500 each for use of their artwork, as well as fabrication and installation costs. This batch of box wraps will be installed by this summer.”
Yelm Community Blog brings changes on the 16th anniversary
Today, on March 29th, the Yelm Community Blog has been operating with virtually daily posts for 16 years, since 2005. This blog has been from the longest serving single reporter in Yelm compared to any other online or print publication staff. I have been proud to provide the community with stories that give you, the reader, public documents to read and discern news stories for yourself, and without any paid advertisements.
I was prepared to scale back blog posts before the pandemic hit, then this blog’s daily reader base skyrocketed. However, I have reached the point where I am announcing that posts will only be periodic and focused more on local issues after today, March 29, 2022.
The best way to know when new posts are uploaded is to follow on Twitter or subscribe for the e-list on the right side of the home page.
A heartfelt THANK YOU for your interest and support all of these years. I have appreciated your interest.
* 1995, Yelm annexed land SW of town [an area now known as Thurston Highlands]. The City of Yelm was then looking at the potential to develop water rights in what is known as the SW Aquifer since it annexed that land in 1995. That was one of the chief forces behind the annexation.
* June 2006, Yelm’s Council voted $550,000+ to partly finance a private developer’s water study. The City of Yelm partially financed the Golder Water Study for a private developer [Thurston Highlands], which was against city rules and without a contract. When the developer went bankrupt, the city was not reimbursed for the outlay, nor did the city file a lien against the developers for their portion of this study. Thurston Highlands was a 5,000 home planned community, one of the then-largest in WA state, which would have more than tripled Yelm’s population.
* January 2007, NVN: Yelm water concerns reach boil” The Nisqually Valley News (NVN) reported, “The owners of the golf course, also the developers of Tahoma Terra and Thurston Highlands, offered to give the city water rights if half of the available water could be used for the Tahoma Terra development.”
* July 2007, Senior Water Rights holder JZ Knight takes on Yelm in a high-profile water rights case. Knight’s case started in July, 2007 in front of the Yelm Hearing Examiner and continued through appeals to the Yelm City Council and State Superior Court. “In 2007, five developers filed applications with the city of Yelm (City) for preliminary plat approval of proposed subdivisions.” “After a hearing examiner granted Tahoma Terra preliminary plat approval, JZ Knight, a nearby property owner and senior water rights holder, appealed to the Yelm City Council (City Council), arguing the hearing examiner’s conditional approval of the plats erroneously allowed the developers and the City to delay showing adequate water provisions for the subdivision until the building permit stage. The City Council affirmed the preliminary plat approvals, and Knight filed an action in Thurston County Superior Court under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA), chapter 36.70C RCW.”
The Senate Environment, Water and Energy Committee asked about why the lawsuit against the city came forward. Mayor Harding said the litigation is a land use issue. He opened his remarks by saying funding for city improvements to roads could not have been accomplished without the growth here, and to limit growth because of this water case would hurt the city in the long term. [Editor’s Note: That was not exactly true, as many of the existing street and sidewalk improvements were completed with federal or state grants. Most of the miles of new roads and sidewalks added to the city’s grid were in new developments, for which the developers and L.I.D. financed.] Harding went on to tell the legislators, “The opponent (JZ Knight) used water and water timing as a mechanism to stop growth in the area.” That was false. While Knight originally filed a land use appeal (LUPA) in Thurston County Superior Court, her intent was only to protect her senior water rights.
* May 2009, Thurston Highlands default story was first reported by the Yelm Community Blog. *Thurston Highlands, LLC defaulted on the entire Highlands property, a 1,200 acre property in southwest Yelm that proposed 5,000 residential units with up to 1.5 million sq. ft. of commercial space (comparable to the square footage of 8 Super Wal-Marts). The records showed that the amount to be collected was almost $12 1/2 million dollars. including massive new additions to the citys water & sewer systems. In order to accomplish this, The City of Yelm had proposed to obtain enormous new water rights by application to the State Dept. of Ecology, and fund water/sewer rate increases on the backs of property owners for massive new additions to the city’s water & sewer systems.
* June 2009, The Yelm City Council implemented a water rate increases for an updated Water System Plan. The mayor said purpose of the Water Rate increase is to meet debt service obligations and will be solely used to keep Fund 401 in-status [an operational and maintenance fund]. Staff Representative Stephanie Ray said the City Council can raise rates for operations as they see fit – the last time there was a water rate increase was in 2003. She added there was a need to raise rates to keep up with operational costs.
* September 29, 2009, Thurston County Commissioners briefed on the Yelm water issues. Commissioners Cathy Wolfe, Sandra Romero and Karen Valenzuela requested this briefing from Thurston County and Ecology Staffs and were all very interested and engaged in learning about the nuances of what Commissioner Romero described as one of the most critical issues in the years to come for government. Commissioner Romero asked why the Commissioners were not notified of nor did the County respond to the City of Yelm MDNS during the public comment period.
* December 2011, WA Supreme Court overturns city’s appeal, Yelm loses water case. In a stunning 7-2 decision written by Justice Charles Wiggins and finalized January 2012, “the Supreme Court held that Knight established that the land use decision is likely to prejudice her water rights and satisfies the statutory standing requirement.” The City of Yelm had approved 5 development plats without proving the city had water rights availability at the time of plat approval. Knight pressed the city to follow the process, arguing that not doing so would have adversely impacted her senior water rights downstream of the development.
* March 12, 2012, Yelm water rights not a ‘Slam Dunk.’ On November 18, 2011, Sara Foster submitted an Appeal against the City of Yelm and the Dept of Ecology to stop the pumping of 942 acre feet of water, every year for 20 years, from the aquifer. Ecology had just rubber-stamped Yelm’s Mitigation Plan and the city was approved to begin pumping. This amount would have had a huge environmental impact to the aquifer. It means wells in a vast surrounding area [outside of Yelm city limits] could drop in static level and property owners would have to drill new wells. In 2009, the Yelm community became aware of this same Mitigation Plan submitted to Ecology, and wrote over 85 letters in protest, which was subsequently withdrawn.
* May 2012, Council purchases golf course water rights for $151,000. [City staffe]r Stephanie Ray reported the settlement agreement would settle proposed potential litigation on water rights that were owned by Tahoma Valley Golf and Country Club and were subsequently transferred to the City of Yelm for municipal water use. The City had been working with Tahoma Valley Golf and Country Club for the previous few months to come to an equitable and fair resolution to the transfer of these water rights that were already put to beneficial use. Councilmember McGowan feels the agreement is fair for both parties involved but does not feel that the public was properly notified and will not be voting on this item for that reason. 5-AYES, 1-NAY (MCGOWAN). CARRIED. $151,000 = 77 afy of water
* June 2013, City of Yelm water rights appealed by local citizen Sara Foster. Yelms water rights, which were granted by the Department of Ecology and affirmed by the Pollution Control Hearings Board in March, were appealed by Yelm resident Sara Foster. The appeal was to be heard in Thurston County Superior Court. Fosters lawyer was Patrick Williams, from the Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CELP) in Seattle.
* June 2014, NVN: “Foster Appeals Yelm Water Right Ruling” “Southwest Yelm Well: Citizen Seeks Direct Review by State Supreme Court” Steven Wyble wrote this in the Nisqually Valley News: “Yelm resident Sara Foster has appealed a recent court ruling affirming the city of Yelms water rights. Foster is seeking direct review to the state Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court decides not to take the case, it will go to the Court of Appeals.”
“For a second time, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled the Department of Ecology was wrong to cite an overriding public interest in permanently redistributing rights in a water-short basin.
The court ruled 6-3 Thursday that DOE erred when it permitted the Western Washington city of Yelm to draw more groundwater to accommodate growth.
The withdrawal would have put the basin’s rivers and creeks at risk of occasionally falling below state-mandated minimum flows, a water right senior to Yelm’s new right.
DOE argued that the move was in the public’s interest and that a mitigation plan would actually enhance the environment. Yelm resident Sara Foster, who feared the city’s withdrawal would harm her domestic well, sued and received support from the Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Carnegie Group, a Thurston County landowners’ organization.
Writing for the majority, Justice Charles Johnson dismissed the mitigation plan as irrelevant and said a growing city was hardly unusual.
He stated that overriding public interest could only justify temporary water withdrawals. Using it to support a permanent transfer of water rights was ‘an end-run around the normal appropriation process, he wrote. Read more
Effective immediately the City of Yelm has suspended our mixed recycling program. The large recycling container will be removed from the Public Services building due to improper use. People are dumping mainly garbage into it. We will reevaluate the program in the future. Cardboard recycling at the same location will remain open. We apologize for the inconvenience.