What’s in a name?

June 21st, 2021 by Ken

There’s all kind of debate over names.  To most people, with the exception of their family, names are just an identifying symbol so we know who we are addressing.

But, for a new community names are important.  A community must have a reason for existence.  Names help give it a sense of identity.   For a city the size of Lacey and still one of the newest cities in the entire state, an identity is an important and unifying symbol.

The city’s name alone – Lacey – is a unique name for a city.   There are no other cities in the state, and as far as I can tell, in the country, named Lacey.  One of the problems with the name is that it doesn’t seem powerful.  It isn’t a name as strong as Olympia.  It doesn’t have the historical connotation as Tumwater or other similar cities  So a city like Lacey needs to find other ways of creating a sense of identity and a source of purpose.

One way to do that is through names.  That’s why what’s in a name is significant. to building a city’s history and presenting opportunities for feelings of community.

The City of Lacey is only 53 years old, but the community of Lacey goes back to the beginnings of European settlement in the Oregon country.

Lacey has several names associated with pioneers.  Chambers Prairie, Hicks Lake, Sleater-Kinney and Ruddell Road are just a few.  Even the name Lacey is associated with a lawyer and real-estate promoter.  (Historians disagree about that, but I like the idea and it has some merit.)

Lacey mothers and fathers have made certain that their elected officials are properly and appropriately recognized for their contributions.  We have several parks named after them.  Homann Park is named after the city’s first mayor Al Homann and his wife Anna.  Huntamer Park is named after Tom Huntamer, Lacey’s second mayor.  Bush Park is named after Bill Bush, to date, the city’s longest serving councilmember and mayor.  The city’s first woman mayor, Karen Fraser was recently recognized by renaming the Woodland Trail as the Karen Fraser Trail. And, the Lacey Senior Center was named after Virgil Clarkson, first black mayor and longtime councilmember.

Even non-elected officials have been recognized.  Greg Cuoio, who served as Lacey’s city manager for 20 years has been honored by having a park named after him.

While the Lacey School District (OK North Thurston)  has very few of its schools named after individuals because of an adopted policy decades ago, it has managed to recognize some of its superintendents.  There’s the John Gott administrative center, the Jim Koval performing arts center and the Raj Manhas activities center.

Naming of these facilities are an important part of connecting the community to the past.

Names are important and the Lacey community is better off for it.


Posted in History, Local Politics

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