Yelm Community Blog
Monthly: December 2022

Bloodworks Northwest declares blood shortage emergency –
Please consider making an appt. to donate blood!

“Lacey’s Deputy Fire Chief Kathy Dickson finishes up donating blood at the Bloodworks Donor Center in Olympia in 2021. To donate blood, contact Bloodworks Northwest at https://www.bloodworksnw.org/.” Credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

Bloodworks Northwest calls on public to donate blood amid ‘Code Red’ emergency shortage

From The Olympian:

Bloodworks Northwest declared a “Code Red” emergency blood shortage on Thursday and urged the public to donate blood immediately. Such an urgent notice occurs after four consecutive days of emergency levels in the regional blood supply, according to a news release. Bloodworks is a nonprofit organization that supplies blood to 95% of Pacific Northwest hospitals. Blood transfusions have outpaced donations during the holiday season and winter weather, according to a Bloodworks news release. Vicki Finson, executive vice president of blood services, said the non-profit is running out of blood “fast.”

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Bloodworks urged donors to book an appointment. As of Thursday, there were 6,300 open appointments in the next 12 days, according to the organization. “If you’ve been putting off donating blood, now is the time to make an appointment,” Finson said. Any healthy adult who weighs at least 110 pounds can donate whole blood every 56 days. People can donate blood 10 days after recovering from COVID-19 symptoms.

Save the Date January 23rd:
Yelm celebrates the Tornadoes Football Team!

January 23rd: Save the date for a Community Celebration

Yelm Community Schools and the City of Yelm invite you to join the joint celebration of our State Championship Football Team on January 23, 2023, at 4pm. A police escort will begin at 4:15pm down Tornado Alley. Spectators can line the sidewalks throughout campus or take a seat in the stadium. The band, cheer, and dance teams will be performing while guests await the arrival of the team at 4:30pm. The celebration will include comments from leaders, coaches, and students with an exciting special announcement. Thank you to the Yelm community for the support of our student athletes!

Coaches vote YHS Football Players, Coaching Staff as 3A SSC 2022 All-League!

“Yelm’s Kyler Ronquillo recaps 3A state championship win over Eastside Catholic, Class 3A state championship game on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash.” Credit: The Olympian.

3A SSC all-league football 2022: Yelm RB/LB Brayden Platt voted MVP

Yelm’s Kyler Ronquillo, Ray Wright, Landen Barger and coaching staff sweep individual awards

From SBL Sports:

Here are the 3A SSC first team, second team selections for the 2022 football season, as voted on by the coaches:

MVP: Brayden Platt, Yelm, jr.

Offensive MVP: Kyler Ronquillo, Yelm, sr.

Defensive MVP: Ray Wright, Yelm, sr.

Lineman of the year: Landen Barger, Yelm, jr.

Coaching staff of the year: Yelm

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

RB — William Carreto, Yelm, sr.

OL — Kolby Henry, Yelm, sr.

OL — William Snodgrass, Yelm, sr.

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL — Onyx Carter, Yelm, jr.

LB — Isaiah Patterson, Yelm, jr.

DB — Kyler Ronquillo, Yelm, sr.

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB — Damian Aalona, Yelm, jr.

WR — Aden Schaler, Yelm, sr.

OL — Ami Fakava, Yelm, sr.

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

LB — William Carreto, Yelm, sr.

DB — Marius Aalona, Yelm, sr.

DB — Paavan Bankston, Yelm, sr.

(3A SSC all-league team formatted by The News Tribune)

Study: Sea-Tac hub operator Delta was 2022’s most on-time North American airline!

Delta Airlines A-321 at Boston’s Logan Int’l Airport.
Credit: Zach Griff, The Points Guy

Delta was 2022’s most on-time airline, new study shows

Alaska Airlines was No. 2 with 81% of on-time arrivals

From The Points Guy:

[Delta Airlines] The Atlanta-based carrier is poised to finish 2022 with an on-time arrival percentage of over 84%, according to new data released Thursday from Cirium, an aviation analytics company.

Of Delta’s 959,987 flights from Jan. 1 through Dec. 15, 84.1% of them arrived on time, according to the new data. This is the second year in a row that Delta took the top spot as the most punctual carrier in Cirium’s analysis.

An on-time arrival includes any flight that lands at its destination and arrives at the gate within 15 minutes of the originally scheduled arrival time, a standard industry metric often referred to as “A15.”

Cirium’s data set considers all flights completed in 2022, through Dec. 15. Of the over 5 million total flights in North America this year, 71.91% arrived on time.

Note that these metrics only account for mainline operations, not those operated by regional affiliates, such as SkyWest or Republic.

What really is going on at Southwest Airlines –
Unions saw this perfect storm coming for years!

“A traveler gets help from Southwest Airlines staff as she tries to find her missing luggage on December 27, 2022 in Los Angeles.” Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, and Common Dreams.

Southwest Airlines Spent $5.6 Billion on Shareholder Gifts in Years Ahead of Mass Cancellation Crisis

“Southwest Airlines made a risky gamble that mass layoffs and spending billions of dollars on handouts to investors rather than fixing infrastructure would pay off with record profits,” said one watchdog. “The airline lost that bet badly.”

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams:

As travelers and airline workers reel from mass flight cancellations, a corporate watchdog noted Wednesday that Southwest spent nearly $6 billion on stock buybacks in the years ahead of the coronavirus pandemic instead of devoting those resources to technological improvements that unions have been demanding for years.

According to Accountable.US, the crisis Southwest has experienced in recent days amid a massive winter storm is “a problem of its own making.” The organization pointed out that the airline opted “to spend $5.6 billion on stock buybacks in the three years leading up to the pandemic rather than making investments in infrastructure to be better prepared for extreme weather events like this week.”

The watchdog group added that the company “even reinstated dividends earlier this month, the first major airline to do so after the pandemic.”

Southwest Airlines made a risky gamble that mass layoffs and spending billions of dollars on handouts to investors rather than fixing infrastructure would pay off with record profits,” Kyle Herrig, the president of Accountable.US, said in a statement. “The airline lost that bet badly and now it’s their customers left paying the price including the thousands stranded in the middle of holiday season travel.”

“Southwest’s well-compensated executives could have prioritized its workers and customers by preparing for the worst, but greed trumped all as they put a small group of wealthy investors first,” Herrig added. “Consumers shouldn’t be the ones stuck holding the bag for Southwest’s greedy management decisions, but here we are. This is where the Transportation Department should start in any investigation into why this happened.”

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Unions representing flight attendants and pilots have said that while the winter storm fueled some of the cancellations, deliberate decisions by Southwest management were ultimately responsible for what’s been described as the company’s “full-blown meltdown.”

Specifically, the vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association toldInsider that the company’s “outdated” scheduling software has been overwhelmed, wreaking havoc on operations.

Sanders Calls on Buttigieg to Hold Southwest CEO Accountable for ‘Greed and Incompetence’

“This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout and will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

From Common Dreams:

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday urged the Transportation Department to ensure Southwest’s chief executive pays a price for mass U.S. flight cancellations that have left passengers and employees stranded around the country, throwing lives into chaos and drawing further attention to the company’s business practices.

“Southwest’s flight delays and cancellations are beyond unacceptable,” Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter. “This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout and will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders. The U.S. Department of Transportation must hold Southwest’s CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence

The New York Times: The Shameful Open Secret Behind Southwest’s Failure

‘Perfect storm’ of internal and external problems broke Southwest Airlines

From MSNBC:

Justin George, transportation reporter for the Washington Post, discusses the “perfect storm” of broken internal systems and extreme weather events that shattered service by Southwest Airlines, cancelling thousands of flights and stranding thousands of passengers. 

From a Southwest Pilot posted to the Eastern Airlines Facebook page [of which this writer is a member]

What happened to Southwest Airlines?

I’ve been a pilot for Southwest Airlines for over 35 years. I’ve given my heart and soul to Southwest Airlines during those years. And quite honestly Southwest Airlines has given its heart and soul to me and my family.

Many of you have asked what caused this epic meltdown. Unfortunately, the frontline employees have been watching this meltdown coming like a slow motion train wreck for sometime. And we’ve been begging our leadership to make much needed changes in order to avoid it. What happened yesterday started two decades ago.

Herb Kelleher was the brilliant CEO of SWA until 2004. He was a very operationally oriented leader. Herb spent lots of time on the front line. He always had his pulse on the day to day operation and the people who ran it. That philosophy flowed down through the ranks of leadership to the front line managers. We were a tight operation from top to bottom. We had tools, leadership and employee buy in. Everything that was needed to run a first class operation. When Herb retired in 2004 Gary Kelly became the new CEO.

Gary was an accountant by education and his style leading Southwest Airlines became more focused on finances and less on operations. He did not spend much time on the front lines. He didn’t engage front line employees much. When the CEO doesn’t get out in the trenches the neither do the lower levels of leadership.

Gary named another accountant to be Chief Operating Officer (the person responsible for day to day operations). The new COO had little or no operational background. This trickled down through the lower levels of leadership, as well.

They all disengaged the operation, disengaged the employees and focused more on Return on Investment, stock buybacks and Wall Street. This approach worked for Gary’s first 8 years because we were still riding the strong wave that Herb had built.

But as time went on the operation began to deteriorate. There was little investment in upgrading technology (after all, how do you measure the return on investing in infrastructure?) or the tools we needed to operate efficiently and consistently. As the frontline employees began to see the deterioration in our operation we began to warn our leadership. We educated them, we informed them and we made suggestions to them. But to no avail. The focus was on finances not operations. As we saw more and more deterioration in our operation our asks turned to pleas. Our pleas turned to dire warnings. But they went unheeded. After all, the stock price was up so what could be wrong?

We were a motivated, willing and proud employee group wanting to serve our customers and uphold the tradition of our beloved airline, the airline we built and the airline that the traveling public grew to cheer for and luv. But we were watching in frustration and disbelief as our once amazing airline was becoming a house of cards.

A half dozen small scale meltdowns occurred during the mid to late 2010’s. With each mini meltdown Leadership continued to ignore the pleas and warnings of the employees in the trenches. We were still operating with 1990’s technology. We didn’t have the tools we needed on the line to operate the sophisticated and large airline we had become. We could see that the wheels were about ready to fall off the bus. But no one in leadership would heed our pleas.

When COVID happened SWA scaled back considerably (as did all of the airlines) for about two years. This helped conceal the serious problems in technology, infrastructure and staffing that were occurring and being ignored. But as we ramped back up the lack of attention to the operation was waiting to show its ugly head.

Gary Kelly retired as CEO in early 2022. Bob Jordan was named CEO. He was a more operationally oriented leader. He replaced our Chief Operating Officer with a very smart man and they announced their priority would be to upgrade our airline’s technology and provide the frontline employees the operational tools we needed to care for our customers and employees. Finally, someone acknowledged the elephant in the room.

But two decades of neglect takes several years to overcome. And, unfortunately to our horror, our house of cards came tumbling down this week as a routine winter storm broke our 1990’s operating system.

The frontline employees were ready and on station. We were properly staffed. We were at the airports. Hell, we were ON the airplanes. But our antiquated software systems failed coupled with a decades old system of having to manage 20,000 frontline employees by phone calls. No automation had been developed to run this sophisticated machine.

We had a routine winter storm across the Midwest last Thursday. A larger than normal number flights were cancelled as a result. But what should have been one minor inconvenient day of travel turned into this nightmare. After all, American, United, Delta and the other airlines operated with only minor flight disruptions.

The two decades of neglect by SWA leadership caused the airline to lose track of all its crews. ALL of us. We were there. With our customers. At the jet. Ready to go. But there was no way to assign us. To confirm us. To release us to fly the flight. And we watched as our customers got stranded without their luggage missing their Christmas holiday.

I believe that our new CEO Bob Jordan inherited a MESS. This meltdown was not his failure but the failure of those before him. I believe he has the right priorities. But it will take time to right this ship. A few years at a minimum. Old leaders need to be replaced. Operationally oriented managers need to be brought in. I hope and pray Bob can execute on his promises to fix our once proud airline. Time will tell.

It’s been a punch in the gut for us frontline employees. We care for the traveling public. We have spent our entire careers serving you. Safely. Efficiently. With luv and pride. We are horrified. We are sorry. We are sorry for the chaos, inconvenience and frustration our airline caused you. We are angry. We are embarrassed. We are sad. Like you, the traveling public, we have been let down by our own leaders.

Herb once said the the biggest threat to Southwest Airlines will come from within. Not from other airlines. What a visionary he was. I miss Herb now more than ever.

Larry Lonero

Washington state receives vital investments in spending bill!
3 Thurston County projects receive $3M!

“The Hanford Site cleanup will benefit enhanced funding within the recent omnibus bill. Gov. Jay Inslee visited the waste treatment facilities at the Hanford Site in 2013. The lower photo shows potentially radioactive waste in an overflow containment area of a waste storage tank after the inner wall began to leak.” Photos courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy, via Office of Gov. Jay Inslee.

Federal spending bill includes vital investments for Washington state

Congress passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill before the midnight Friday deadline to fund the federal government through the fall. The bill funded a number of important local programs and federal programs that will benefit Washingtonians.

Nestled within the federal spending bill is an important line item for Washington state: long-overdue investment in the Hanford Site cleanup. The Biden Administration this year accelerated the cleanup by enhancing its funding in the president’s budget proposal. This week, Congress further enhanced funding, investing $191 million more had been budgeted originally.

Among many other items, the bill also funds:

Read more

Congress sets aside $3M of the 2023 federal budget for Thurston County Projects

From The Jolt News:

The 2023 omnibus spending bill included funding for three community projects requested by Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland.

The project with the most significant funding is Intercity Transit’s zero-fare transit program, which allows passengers to use the bus and the Dial-a-Lift services for free. The program is set to receive $1,825,950, which will be used to renovate 145 bus stops, according to Strickland’s press release.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office was also given a budget worth $448,000 to acquire a rapid DNA testing system….

The last project is for the proposed History and Nature Center at Brewery Park in Tumwater. Olympia Tumwater Foundation is set to receive $750,000 through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community development fund to develop the project.

Thurston EDC: County’s economic conditions remain favorable!

Credit: Thurston County via Facebook, and South Sound Business

Thurston EDC Releases Economic Vitality Index

From South Sound Business:

The Thurston Economic Development Council and report sponsors Port of Olympia and South Puget Sound Community College have announced the release of the Thurston Economic Vitality Index, which suggests that conditions for the county’s economy remain favorable.

The EDC’s intention behind the report and the data is to serve as planning tools to help businesses and communities in creating and implementing strategies for action. 

The index currently stands at 116.1 — just .5 points lower than its 116.6 height before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the EDC, “while it appears a correction is in process, conditions for Thurston County’s economy are still very favorable relative to what it endured during the COVID-19 pandemic when the index reached its historical low of 80 points.”

The EDC also noted that the Housing Affordability Index indicates the cost of housing in Thurston County, as well as throughout Washington State, has continued its trend toward a less affordable marketplace for both middle-income and first-time homebuyers. The lack of parity in the housing market has been highlighted as one of the most important economic challenges facing the region.

Tacoma News Tribune’s all-state football team includes :
Yelm Coach Ronquillo and wide receiver son, Kyle!

“Yelm head coach Jason Ronquillo (center) and his assistants celebrate as the clock expires on the Tornados’ 20-13 victory over the Eastside Catholic Crusaders in the 3A football state championship game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Washington, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Credit: Tony Overman, The Olympian.

Congratulations to our Yelm State Champs!

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The Tacoma News Tribune’s 2022 all-state high school football team

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jason Ronquillo, Yelm — Guided the Tornados to a perfect 14-0 record, 3A SSC and 3A state titles. Yelm paced 3A in both scoring average (49.7 points per game) and scoring average against (10.7), while piling up 449.4 yards of offense per game and taylling 95 total TDs. The Tornados completed their run with a thrilling win over Eastside Catholic in the 3A championship game, securing the first title in school history.

WIDE RECEIVER

Kyler Ronquillo, Yelm, sr. — Completed an already impressive season with the spectacular touchdown in the 3A state championship game that lifted Yelm the first title in program history. 3A SSC offensive MVP hauled in 67 catches for 953 yards and 11 TDs, and tallied 75 carries for 683 yards and nine TDs for the undefeated Tornados. Had 46 tackles and two interceptions as a 3A SSC first-team defensive back. Added another 650 yards on kickoff and punt returns, including one kickoff return TD. Portland State commit.

Read more

SBLive’s 2022 all-state Washington high school football team: includes Yelm High’s Ronquillo

Wide receiver: Kyler Ronquillo, Yelm, sr. (3A)

Fiery 3A SSC offensive MVP did it all for Tornados (67 catches, 953 yards; 683 rushing yards, 20 total TDs), including “grab” for 3A title-game glory.

“Yelm wide receiver Kyler Ronquillo streaks into the end zone after wrestling an interception away from Eastside Catholic defensive back Tyson Weaver, then carrying the football into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown, 20-13, in the 3A football state championship game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Washington, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.” Credit: Tony Overman, The Olympian.

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