2011 – Just a normal year
This weekend we bid farewell to 2011. What kind of a year was it? In many ways just a normal year. People came, people went. Things got built, things got torn down. Politicians talked. Just a normal year.
Olympia got itself a new city hall and a new mayor, Steven Buxbaum, but it kept the same old problems – - parking, homelessness and downtown businesses struggling to survive.
Lacey got itself a new mayor as well but nobody knows who it will be until the city council decides which of its members it’ll push to the top. The smart money now is on Jason Hearn. The mayor doesn’t represent the people. He or she represents the city council.
Lacey did spend considerable money to buy park property outside the city boundaries to honor its retired city manager Greg Cuoio. And, after a nationwide search, settled on his assistant Scott Spence to take over as city manager. The same firm also helped the Lacey Fire District hire a new fire chief. And, after a nationwide search, settled on one of it’s own – Steve Brooks.
Tumwater has a mayor, a familiar face, Peter Kmet. He’s a real mayor with real power. The city also received approval from voters to spend money to build a new police facility and hire new police and fire fighters. That bucked the trend of voters saying no to more money. Taxpayers in Lacey turned down levy request by its fire district.
The Washington Center found itself in financial problems. It lost its director Tom Iovanne and is operating with an interim director right now. Of course, the Center could get itself out of financial messes if it would book acts that people actually want to see. Harlequin Productions is ending its popular “Starlight” series this year. Only a few performances are left. It’s always been a big financial draw for the group. No one is quite certain what they’ll replace it with.
After more than five decades, South Sound Center has ended its popular July 3 fireworks extravaganza. That will leave Lacey without any type of fireworks display. Voters in Olympia decided to end fireworks in that city and now join with Lacey in being dark and quiet on the Fourth of July.
Marijuana cast its aroma over the community this year. Governor Christine Gregoire called for a review of the state’s marijuana laws while scores of marijuana supporters filled the Lacey City Hall as local police joined with the Feds to raid local medical marijuana facilities.
STOP Thurston County drew attention to the First Amendment while using a little rodent to get Thurston County to rethink its Critical Areas Ordinance.
Lacey decided not reopen Carpenter Road to through traffic as originally planned, while the county continued its multi-year effort to improve the Yelm Highway.
Just a normal year.