Isolation adds to Evergreen’s problems

May 18th, 2018 by Ken

As The Evergreen State College prepares to celebrate its 45th commencement exercise shortly, those who love the college are concerned about its future.

Recent cutbacks of 10 percent or more have resulted in several programs being cancelled and less options for students.  Enrollment at Evergreen has declined every year for the past 10 years and administrators are struggling to bring some control to a  minority of the student population bent on demonstrations and destruction.

One of the reasons for the college’s struggle is its isolation.  The school is located miles from the City of Olympia’s downtown core and students on campus have no access to stores providing normal living requirements.

Isolation from the community was recognized as a problem from the first time the location of the campus was announced  back in 1967.  State Representative Hal Wolf said he was “disappointed” at the site.  His seatmate Mary Lux  said she was “stunned” by the location selected.  Other community leaders were disappointed or concerned about the isolation of the students from the community.

While isolation is not the only cause for declining enrollment at Evergreen, it can be seen as a reason the number of students who return for the second year is significantly lower than for other state colleges.

Isolation on campus gives students  little or no understanding of real world problems.  It’s to late to move the college to a more urban location, but it’s not to late to begin a dialogue with the college administration about bringing the community to the college.

 

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Inflation peeks over the horizon

May 15th, 2018 by Ken

I’m no economist, but I do know a little about how our economy works.

I think inflation is about to raise its head and sneak into our lives once again.   I base that statement on observation and not by any calculations by those in the know.

For the last decade, we’ve been around right around an annual inflation rate of about two percent.  Actually, just a little below two percent.   The federal government would like us to be around three percent – a level they think we need in order to keep job growth high and and the economy growing

So far this year , we’re running just over two percent, but I see signs that the rate will soon rise.

Locally, we can see inflation in three different areas – – housing, meat and gasoline.  There are independent reasons for the increase in price for all three of those areas, but added together I see troubling times ahead for those on a fixed income.

And, most of us on a fixed income can remember the 1970’s and the 13 percent inflation rate which hit this country so hard.  We don’t want to go back to those days, but many of our elected officials weren’t around then and many people have never seen high interest rates brought on by inflation, or the cost of living so expensive that we didn’t know how we would survive.

I’m just calling attention to the future.  The signs are there.

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My advice to new graduates

May 13th, 2018 by Ken

Nobody has ever asked me to be the speaker at a graduation ceremony – – not college, not high school, not even kindergarten.  But, I know what I would tell them – – avoid commitments.

It’s a simple piece of advice – – avoid taking on commitments until you know exactly what you want to do and where you want to do it.

Most graduates, diploma in hand – venture into the real world looking for work.  After all, they have student loans to pay off and parents who have expectations that their investment in higher  education will pay dividends.  The sooner the better.

But, that’s not the way to go. Young people need to avoid taking jobs they don’t want to get money they need, to buy things they think they need.

Commitments do one thing — they tie you down.   They make it impossible to venture into activities which will foster your additional education and perhaps put you on a path that you really want to tread.

Buying a house is a long term commitment.  Marriage is a long term commitment.  Children are a long term commitment.  Paying work is a long term commitment because it often leads to the things I just mentioned.

Once you make commitments, you’re tied down.  You don’t have the flexibility to take advantage of other opportunities that might come your way.   You have to pay your bills.  You have to consider your spouse or partner.  You have to consider the impact on any children you may have.   All of these commitments stand in the way of being able to move in other directions.

So, here’s my advice.   Rent don’t buy.  Try not to get too serious with a partner until you’ve had a few years of experience to fall back on.   Never have children until you’re stable.   And, never, ever, take a job that you don’t like just to pay the bills.   Not even in good jobs with promotional possibilities.

Most of you will ignore my advice until it’s too late and you’re stuck.  By that time you have a partner you love, children that love you and friendships developed on the job that you don’t want to lose.

Be honest, be straight forward with people, keep your eyes open for opportunities and above all – – find out what you really want to do with your life – before you take on major commitments.

 

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Karen Fraser to he honored

May 10th, 2018 by Ken

The Woodland Trail, which runs between Olympia and Lacey will soon get a new name.

Starting on June 2, the trail will be re-named as the Karen Fraser Woodland Trail, to honor the woman who spent 44 years of her life in public service to the community.

Karen was the first woman to serve on the Lacey Planning Commission, the first woman to serve on the Lacey City Council, and the first woman to serve as mayor of the City of Lacey.  When she retired recently, the city looked for ways to honor her for her dedication to Lacey and the community.  The idea was advanced to name a city park after her.  Lacey already has three parks named after city mayors.

But, the City of Olympia was also looking at ways of honoring her.  Working together, both Lacey and Olympia decided that naming the Woodland Trail after her was the most appropriate way of doing so.   After all, the trail runs from Lacey and ends at the State Capitol campus; where Fraser spent two decades working as a state representative and later a state senator.  Between her time as Lacey mayor and the state legislature, she also served as Thurston County Commissioner.

June 2, was selected because it’s also National Trails Day.

The dedication will be held at the HUB.  That’s where the Chehalis Western Trail and the Woodland Trail meet.  Ceremonies will start at 10 a.m.  Those wishing to do so can also help with a work party following the event to help clean and restore parts of the trail.

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Military community likes Lacey

May 4th, 2018 by Ken

More military members live in Lacey, than in any place in the South Sound region outside of Joint Base Lewis McChord.

A survey of military living off-base found that 45 percent of all military live in Lacey.   The City of Lacey itself estimates that 27 percent of all city residents have some connection to the military – -active duty, retirees or civilian employees.

Schools in Lacey recognize this fact.  Graeme Sackrison, North Thurston School Board Chair, said that he recently attended a school meeting at Horizon Elementary School with K-3 students.  When asked how many of them have a connection to the military, Sackrison said about 60 percent raised their hand.

How did this small community on the edge of Olympia, become one of the largest military communities in the state?

Location helps.  Just six miles from the base, Lacey has always been attractive to military retirees.   Many senior officers made Lacey home upon retirement.   They were soon followed by senior NCOs who found the nearness to military services on base attractive, while typical military activities – – bars, pawn shops, sauna parlors – – were missing.

The ramp up of military activities following 9-11 and base closures in California, combined with the military focus on Asia, resulted in an increased military component at Ft. Lewis.

Enlisted personnel, with families found Lacey a good place to live.  Reasons that military families found Lacey attractive was availability of housing, safety and good schools.   Acceptance by the community was also a key.

While, JBLM will always experience increases and decreases in its population, one thing is now sure.  Lacey will always have a large military presence within its community.

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An all-American cruise

April 29th, 2018 by Ken

Thirteen years ago, the Norwegian Cruise Line started its Hawaiian Island cruise – a seven-day tour around the islands which make up the Hawaiian chain.

The ship they chose to make the journey was called “The Pride of America” and its crew was to be all Americans, from the top to the bottom of the employment scale.

“It’ll never work”  the cruise critics cried.  Americans won’t work that hard.  They won’t do the menial services required of a cruise ship crew.   Most cruise lines hired staff from third world countries, who were happy to do the hard work of serving those with money and ability to pay for a cruise.

Now, more than a decade later, the cruise continues to be a big hit with tourists and the crew is still composed primarily of Americans.

The ship “The Pride of America” is all-American.  It’s restaurants and rooms are named after American icons.  It’s walls are graced with typical American sights – New England woods, Las Vegas lights, New Orleans jazz, Hollywood glamour – -and for the most part, its food service is all-American fare as well, encompassing the many ethnic cuisines which now have an American flavor.

Coming away with a greater pride in being American isn’t the reason to take the Hawaiian island tour, but it does help to create a feeling that there’s still something special about being an American.

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Intercity Transit needs to change

April 18th, 2018 by Ken

Recent efforts by Intercity Transit to bring bus service to the 20,000 Lacey (or soon to be Lacey) residents living in Northeast Lacey area is nothing more than adding a few carrots to the stew in order to feed the multitudes.

If Intercity Transit is really going to do more than give the system a bath – it needs two things – – more money – – or a complete change in its mission.

When the three cities negotiated an agreement in the late 70’s to form Intercity Transit, it’s goal was to provide transit service to those who needed it.   But, sometime in the 80’s, led by the City of Olympia, the system began to think its objective was to stop people from driving single-family cars.

Olympia had been engaged in a pitched battle against the car.  They wanted to make driving more difficult and more expensive. City official waged war against the automobile in any way it could.  It narrowed the city’s main streets from three to two lanes, forcing more traffic into smaller areas.  It took away free parking all over the city in an effort to make driving more expensive – – and to add to the city’s coffers.

And, it enlisted Intercity Transit in that battle against the car.   The system began to think its primary goal was to get everyone out of their cars and onto buses.   Intercity Transit now runs a car pool program.  While it supposedly pays for itself, it needs transit staff to manage and monitor it.   Olympia has convinced Intercity Transit to continue the Dash Shuttle.  That’s the program which runs buses from the Farmer’s Market to the State Capitol.   A free service to everyone except the taxpayers of the transit system.

Representatives on the transit system board have been complicent  in this battle, and have allowed Olympia’s vision of the future  to crowd out the purpose of Intercity Transit – – to provide transit service to those who need it.

If Northeast Lacey is to get transit service anytime in the near future, it needs a strong voice on the transit board and it needs a change in the system’s mission.   Neither of those seem to be the case right now,

 

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Community festivals come and go

April 16th, 2018 by Ken

The demise of the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival is a normal process of community festivals.

Most communities have community festivals.  It’s part of the process of creating a sense of community and community pride.  And most community festivals eventually fall by the wayside.  Locally we’ve lost such festivals as the Lacey Music, Arts and Dance Festival, the Tumwater Bluegrass Festival, the Tenino Labor Day Festival and many others.

Community festivals disappear for many reasons.  Some are unable to raise the money necessary to continue.  Some fall victim to a lack of community support or a lack of volunteers – the key for most festivals.  Some of them fail to adapt to modern times and fall by the wayside.

But, most are eventually replaced by new and different activities.  Lacey has its Lacey Spring Fun Fair and it’s Barbeque  Festival.  Tumwater has it’s Fourth of July celebration.

Olympia continues with Capital Lakefair but support for the event is slowly slipping away.  Several community groups have withdrawn from providing food and volunteers are difficult to find.   But, it still seems to meet a need.  Lakefair’s carnival and parade still have community support.

But, it has already been replaced as Olympia’s premier festival by the Procession of Species and Olympia’s biannual Arts Walk.

So, while we’ll miss the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival, it’s just another step in the process of a developing community.

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The bookmobile and me

April 10th, 2018 by Ken

April is National Library Month, and Wednesday, April 11, is National Bookmobile Day.

No one is certain when the bookmobile started, but it’s safe to say that it wasn’t to far behind the Model T.

Bookmobiles are still active around the United States, and particularly in rural areas, although some urban areas are finding other ways to bring books to kids.

My experience with the bookmobile started in the 1950’s when I was a kid growing up in rural Tumwater on the Prine Road – an area then not much different from today.   We lived in an old logging camp surrounded by piles of sawdust and acres of slabs (pieces cut off the trunk of the tree to make them square.)

It was a long walk to the main road, if you could call it that.   The road was gravel, as most rural roads in Thurston County were then, and any car traveling along the route threw up large clouds of dust – although there seldom were any cars at all.

I attended Tumwater Grade School, and the bus picked us up on the main road.    I enjoyed school, but like all kids, I looked forward to summer.  But, there was one thing missing – mental stimulation.   We had no television and no radio.  Books were my only means of relaxation.

It was OK during the school year, but when summer came, I had to depend on the bookmobile which came twice a month and stopped on the main road.

After finishing all the books I had, I began to count the days until the bookmobile arrived.

I waited out on the road worried that I may have picked the wrong day, or that something may have happened, or that the bookmobile had decided not to stop here, because I was the only one waiting for it.  But, it always came.   The librarian greeted me by name as she opened the door.

I looked over every book in the bookmobile, spending more time in the sections that I loved – history and biography.  Each one I picked up seemed to be the one I wanted and I began piling them in the aisle.  When I got as many as I could carry, I checked them out.  Sometimes the librarian would make a comment, but usually she just let me wander and look.  One time I remember she said, “Leave some for the other kids.”

It was nearly a quarter a mile from my house to the main road and I was loaded down with books.  It was quite a chore carrying them all back to the house – but I couldn’t wait to start reading.

I never gave much thought to the bookmobile.  It was just something that came, and gave me something to do during the summer, when I wasn’t working in the berry fields or splitting wood or doing other yard work.

So, I’m a testimonial to the bookmobile, and thankful for  the women that drove the buses and the library patrons who supported bringing books to rural kids.

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For the Kids

April 9th, 2018 by Ken

By Dale Cooper

Washington State property taxes are set to skyrocket … and you can thank a teacher for it.

Recently I heard a “Teacher of the Year” defending “public schools.” It’s become a tired, over-used trope and a predictable political talking point.

“Who could be against public schools?” I wondered … and I honestly couldn’t think of anyone. Of course this prize-winning teacher was railing against educational innovation, such as “charter schools” and “vouchers,” that introduce that most salutary of commodities into the school marketplace … competition.

This thought spurred me to continue with my musing, “Hmmm, isn’t the real issue the delivery of public education?” which led me to wonder, “Why is it school teachers always talk about this issue? Shouldn’t they be focused on education, not politics? Seems like they used to be. I wonder when things changed?

“Was it when their union taught teachers how to speak with a shrill voice to level political accusations and threats at all who opposed them? Was it when they discovered if they filled the campaign coffers of their union’s political friends, union friendly legislation would inevitably follow? Or was it when they realized they could control school boards by simply electing three or 4 of its board members.

“Or was it when they discovered how well sympathy sells, especially when it comes to kids? After all, using kids as props can hide any number of outrageous demands by telling us it’s – for the kids.”

And that’s when the teachers started feasting on the public purse. That’s when schools became union shops, closed to non-union teachers. That’s why they’ll fight any threat to their union’s monopoly with insults, character assassinations and smears. They call charter school and voucher proposals predatory and dangerous while they crow how they’re the noble, selfless defenders of “public schools” … which is to say “union schools.”

I think it’s time we stopped talking about “public schools” and started to talk about “public education” instead. Maybe we could look past the union’s deflections, politicking and name-calling, and started to look at educational outcomes. And if we find those outcomes deficient perhaps we should try something new, something that will offer students a better chance for a quality education.

Shouldn’t that be our goal? If so, we need the political will and moral courage to remind teachers that they work for parents … not for their union. We need to put the “public” back in charge of “Public Education” by giving parents real choices, not feel-good banal clichés, political corruption and educational mediocrity.

Now that would be something truly worthwhile “for the Kids!”

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Recollections of John Gott

April 6th, 2018 by Ken

Dr. John Gott, former superintendent of the North Thurston School District died this week at his home in Panorama.  Obituaries and other recollections will soon be forthcoming.   This is my recollections as spelled out in my book “Personal History of Lacey.”

Many important people have secrets, but John Gott, the superintendent of the North Thurston School District for 20 years,  was the biggest enigma I’ve ever encountered.  He was gregarious and out-going, loved parties and was well-respected by everyone, yet he held his secrets close to his body and seldom let anyone in.

I learned a few things about him and I suspect that he’s revealed his personal secrets to others in dibs and drabs.  He was a Missouri farm boy, but too intelligent to stay on the farm very long.  He was drafted during World War II and was sent to college to be trained as a doctor.  The war ended before he graduated and he couldn’t afford college on his own, so he burned all of his medical books in the college’s plaza and left.

He worked for Sears for a while collecting bad debts. Somehow, and I’m not certain just how, he managed to get a degree in civil engineering and somehow, I’m not certain just how, he ended up in New Mexico working in a capacity where he was in charge of funding for all of the New Mexico schools.

He was on his way to political office.  It was said he was next in line to run for governor of New Mexico.  Something happened.  John always said that he had a heart attack and when he recovered a career in politics had passed him by.   Others tell me that it was something different.  Whatever the reason he ended up at Washington State University pursuing his doctorate in education.

When the North Thurston School District was looking for a superintendent John Gott was their choice.  That’s when I first met him.

He relished his name – Gott.  Many people in the school district referred to him as the “Gott Father.”  Whatever his personal demons, and John wrestled with his personal demons all of the time, he was well-liked and well-respected.  And, he had the ability to see the future and adapt to trends not even on the horizon.

He foresaw the 24-hour work day and created a school to teach students 24-hours a day.  It was New Century, a high school which started in the late afternoon and ran into the evening.  John told me one time that he thought students who used New Century were students who had to work during the day, maybe by taking care of younger siblings.

He also understood that more than one-quarter of the high school student never graduated from high school, and so he started South Sound High School, designed to offer an alternative education.   Bear in mind that he was doing these projects in the 1980’s before most educators understood the need.

John also knew that not all students would go on to college, and invested district money in vocational programs.  During his time as superintendent, vocational education was a significant part of the district’s budget.   To that end, John wanted a high school devoted strictly to vocational education.

He worked with the adjacent school districts to form such a school program.  He wanted the school so badly that he even allowed it to go into the Tumwater School District, which would get the state funding and the bragging rights to vocational education.  The New Market Vocational Skills Center was formed.  And, while Tumwater officials reaped the public relations, the school was the brain-child of John Gott.

Over the years his programs have been shunted aside in the search for more money and accountability.   He asked me once, when he was in one of his blue moods, what he thought his legacy would be.  His programs were ruined and he thought that was his main contributions to the district.

I told him that those who he hired and trained would be his legacy.  Two of his protégés – – Dave Steele and Jim Koval – – have gone on to serve as superintendents of the North Thurston School District (now the North Thurston Public Schools.)

John liked to compete, whether it was  in poker or golf, or in the professional arena.  He also invested himself into the community through his involvement with business.

John was one of the founders of Lacey Bank (later Venture Bank and then First Community Bank) and served as the first Chairman of the Board.  His firm hand in the early years of the bank, made it a success.

When John retired, he disappeared, throwing away many friendships made through his work.  I heard about him one time.  He had taken over the job of superintendent of the Port Townsend school district  for a short period of time, and turned it around.  The Port Townsend newspaper said that the people of the school district would never know or understand the significance of John’s involvement.

I ran across him once, at SeaTac airport.  He had just come back from a fishing trip to Alaska.  The meeting was short and cordial but nothing more.

That’s just the way John liked it.

(Upon the death of his wife, Coeta, John Gott moved to Panorama.  At the time of this writing (2016) he still resides there.)

Finale – John Gott died April 1, 2018.  He was 94.

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New pocket gopher remediation plan in works

April 5th, 2018 by Ken

Listing of the Mazama Pocket Gopher as an endangered species, has caused significant problems for property owners in Thurston County.

The listing has impacted what a property owner can do with his or her property and impacts not only individual property owners, but the City of Lacey, the City of Tumwater, Thurston County and the Port of Olympia, all of whom own property in areas containing pocket gophers.

Previously, Thurston County Commissioners instituted a gopher mitigation process, approved by the federal government which severely restricted use of property and required millions of dollars in restitution and remediation.

But, the current county commission, led by Bud Blake, has re-negotiated the agreement with the federal agency over-seeing the mitigation and have reached a new agreement.

Previously, private land owners were required to have three visits by the county to ascertain if gophers existed on the affected property.   The new agreement has those visits down to two.   The amount of land the county was required to set aside has been  significantly reduced as has the amount of money the county was required to pay for remediation.

Sometimes all it takes is a new look and a new approach to a problem.

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What – me worry?

April 3rd, 2018 by Ken

An erratic president in the White House.  War on the Korean peninsula.  Saber rattling by Russia.  Demonstrations, racial bias, gender discrimination, young people wanting to make things better and out-of-touch with reality at the same time.

Been there.  Done that.  Seen it.

After nearly seven decades of life in these here United States, I can say with certainty that there’s nothing different under the sun.  The more things change – the more they stay the same.

The 1950’s –   War on the Korean peninsula.  The Cold War.  Fallout shelters, under the desk, atomic bombs, spy planes in the sky, desegregation of baseball, Brown vs. the Board of Education, increased expectations, 52,000 killed in traffic accidents every year.

The 1960’s –   Cuba, Russian missiles, “We were eye to eye and the other guy blinked”,  Race riots in the south, that day in Texas  “This just in from Dallas”, the funeral, the widow in black, transfer of government from Airforce One.   War in Southeast Asia, “342 Americans were killed in Vietnam this week” campus protests over free speech, The Summer of Love, “Be sure to wear a flower in your hair”, “Hey hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today”, the balcony at the Lorraine Motel,  the death of a Civil Rights leader, race riots around the country, Watts, National Guard protecting the white house.  “1968”.

The 1970’s –  The East is Red, opening of China, the Cold War gets hotter, gas shortages and lines at the pumps, 13 percent inflation, price controls, enemies list,  Vietnam War ends,  helicopter lifts off, boat people, tape on the door lock, “The American people have to know if their president is a crook”, a “V” at the helicopter, a national malaise, sweater and fireplace,  revolt in the middle east, hostages, burned and destroyed helicopters, 444 days of an American black eye.

1980’s –  Inflation run rampant, boycott of Olympics, Egyptian assassination Anwar Sadat,  assassination in India Indira  Gandhi,  US president shot, “Honey, I forgot to duck”,  Mad Cows, Challenger falls from the sky,  another Olympic boycott, Alzheimer’s and a president. arms for hostages, Contra rebels, Tiananmen tanks and liberty, Falkland war and New Coke.

1990’s – A Desert Storm hits Iraq, IED’s,  “Read my lips”, Whitewater, bimbo eruptions, ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the divorce of the century, “I did not have sex with that woman” blue dress, impeachment and survival.

2000’s – Florida, hanging chads, Supreme’s call election, towers fell, “I hear you and the whole world will hear from all of us soon”,  anthrax, War on Terror, Afghanistan, Columbia joins Challenger, Asian tsunami, Katrina shows her power, steroids in baseball, “I can see Alaska from my house”, subprime mortgages high oil prices and economic “recession,” Swine Flu and tea parties.

What – me worry?   I’ve seen the enemy and it is us.

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Washington continues to grow

March 30th, 2018 by Ken

Washington State is the 13th largest state in the United States (and the third largest west of the Mississippi)  and continues to grow at a rapid rate.  Last year, Washington grew by 1.69 percent giving it 7.1 million people, an increase of nearly 150,000 residents over 2016.

A significant number of those were by in-migration, primarily from California.  As the largest state in the country, California grew by less than one percent, echoing a trend that New York also follows – slow growth.

Washington’s growth put it fourth on the list of the fastest growing states.   Idaho topped the pack with a growth of more than two percent while remaining only the 39th largest state.  Nevada came in second with just under two percent growth and Utah was third with 1.8 percent.

Seattle had a growth rate of 1.71 percent while Portland grew by 1.35 percent.

The trend is clear.  Western states continue to attract people and many of those are moving to the larger cities in those states.

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One vote makes a difference

March 29th, 2018 by Ken

When the Democrats won a special house election last year, it swung control of the entire Washington legislature to the Democrats, who with a one vote margin – proceeded to shove through their agenda of more taxes and more government rules and regulations – – often by only one vote.

They also rewarded their friends – – the public sector unions.  Most recently they gave the SEIU access to those who provide services to home-care workers.  By approving SB 6199 – the legislature went around a United States Supreme Court decision which ruled that home-care workers were not government employees and did not have to pay union dues.  The bill makes home-care workers – private employees and allows the SEIU to set up private companies with which the union can still bargain.

When you go vote – remember – it doesn’t take but one vote to give politicians the ability to reward their friends at the expense of the taxpayers.

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Tumwater voters will have their say on fireworks – for real this time

March 26th, 2018 by Ken

Tumwater voters will have their say on the issue of fireworks when they receive their ballot shortly.  It must be mailed back by April 24.    Didn’t we just vote on fireworks, some have asked?   Yes and No is the answer.   Lets go back to 2015.

The Tumwater City Council was considering banning fireworks within the city limits of Tumwater, but they wanted to gauge the feeling of the residents.   So they put an advisory ballot before the voters in 2015.   The ballot was advisory only.   The council was not required to respond in any way to the advisory ballot.

There were more than 11,000 votes cast – almost evenly divided by those who wanted to keep fireworks and those who wanted to ban them.   The measure banning fireworks passed by only 70 votes.  If the city mothers and fathers were looking for direction – they didn’t find it in the advisory vote.

Those who wanted to keep fireworks legal in Tumwater asked to meet with city officials and work out some sort of compromise plan.   Tumwater  councilmembers refused to meet with fireworks advocates and a few months later, passed a law banning all fireworks in the city.

Enter the fireworks industry and a group of  Tumwater residents who wanted to keep their fireworks.  In order to get the ban on the ballot, they had to turn in petitions with 2500 signatures of Tumwater residents.   They turned in more than 3000 signatures.

So, the issue is now up to the voters of Tumwater.  This time their vote really means something.

If the group is successful in Tumwater, they have indicated they may do the same thing in Lacey, where a similar ban on fireworks has been on the books since residents barely approved such a restriction there several years ago.

 

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Are our schools safe?

March 20th, 2018 by Ken

In 2014, Lacey voters approved a $110 million dollar bond issue for school construction. School officials said some of that money would be used to upgrade security in North Thurston schools.

To date, about $2 million has been spent for security upgrades primarily for cameras and security access.  Other costs may be included in new construction and updates to existing schools including in the new construction of Salish Middle School.  While all the schools now have cameras, only half of the elementary schools have secure locking capabilities, according to Monty Sabin, assistant superintendent for facilities at the school district.   “Six are in and the other seven have been wired for secure locks and will be in place shortly,” he said.  A secure locking system allows administrators, principals or their assistants, to immediately lock all access doors to the school.

Sabine said that all the cameras in the district schools are web-based and allow police and other law enforcement officials to access them if needed.

In addition to physical systems, all school workers have been trained in what to do in different situations.

“We’re working towards the goal of being 100 percent safe,” Sabin said.

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Odds and ends

March 16th, 2018 by Ken

TCOMM911  – better known 911, is looking to replace its out-dated communications system.  911 has been around since 1978.  It provides emergency communications to fire, police and medic units around the county.  Now, the organization is looking at replacing its outdated radio system, last up-graded in 1999.  It operates on an out-modded VHF frequency which can’t be upgraded anymore.  It also operates on technology that doesn’t match up with newer systems in use in the county. The system is looking at several funding sources including going to the voters for a bond issue sometime in the near future.

Concerned about the public records act  the City of Lacey is looking at putting some restrictions on social media use by members of the Lacey City Council.  Some council members have been posting city-oriented activities on their private Facebook page thus bringing in the public records act.   Council members are being asked not to use their personal social accounts for city business.  The city is creating a Lacey Facebook page for use by council members if they feel the need to post activities that may be considered city business.

The Thurston EDC  has released its annual Thurston Economic Vitality Index which spells out how our local communities are doing in regard to  economic growth.  One aspect of the report shows that since the 2008 recession, the local gross regional product has increased 53 percent.  The county’s growth rate is exceeding 5 percent annually.  Thurston County has emerged from being a government town.  The private sector now generates 63 percent of the total countywide wages.  Contact the EDC for the complete report.

Three years ago voters in Lacey approved a $110 million dollar bond issue to improve North Thurston school facilities, including providing money to upgrade safety at our local schools.  Next week, I’m taking a tour of the schools to see how that money has been used to insure that children attending our schools are safer than before.

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Lacey looks at future parks use

March 12th, 2018 by Ken

What does the future hold for Lacey parks?   The city may go to the voters in the future for the establishment of a Metropolitan Parks District.  To that end, it is conducting a $20,000 study to ascertain what people like about the current parks and discover what they would like to see in the future.

The city has also set aside $60,000 for a study to determine what a new enclosed sports facility would cost and how it could be funded.  That study may be undertaken later this year.

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Evergreen cancels Dorm project

March 1st, 2018 by Ken

The Evergreen State College’s Board of Trustees cancelled a planned $45 million bond issue to build a new dorm for students on the college’s campus.

At the request of its bonding company, the trustees determined that insufficient revenue would be produced to pay off the bonds, citing a decrease in college enrollment.

The new dorm would have replaced several dorms built when the college opened to students in 1971.

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