Our inside guy

June 8th, 2021 by Ken

How do you turn a 90-day internship into a 31-year career?  A better question is why would you want to work at the same job for 31 years, particularly a government job?

If you’re Steve Kirkman the answer is simple.  “If you want to make a positive impact on your community, the best way to do it is to work in local government.”

Steve, a Timberline High School graduate had worked in several jobs, before working for the City of Lacey.  He worked for several years at the Red Bull Restaurant even while attending The Evergreen State College.  One of his programs was Management in the Public Interest which encouraged its students to  take an internship with a public agency.  Steve chose the City of Lacey his hometown.

While working for that first 90 days, he wrote and was awarded a grant to begin curbside recycling in the city.  Recognizing talent, the city offered him a job – and the rest is history – actually, I’m going to tell that history because its not well-known outside city circles.

Steve drove by Lake Lois every day on his way to work.  When he heard that a major housing development was planned around the lake, he became concerned.  At that time, the setback from the lake was only 25 feet.  He felt the entire lake would be impacted by the development.  While looking over possible grants, he came across one that was designed to protect the Gooeyduck clam beds on Puget Sound.   He reasoned that Woodland Creek ran through Lake Lois and into the bay.  Protection of the lake might qualify.  He wrote the grant and was able to help buy the property which later formed Lake Lois Park.    “It was the only grant awarded that wasn’t directly on the beach,” he said.

Over the years, he has been the writer of several grants with a total of more than $10 million.  These grants helped build the Lacey Child Care Center and the Virgil Clarkson Senior Center among others.

But, Steve’s talent isn’t just in writing grants.  In the early 90’s, when the need for computer literacy became important, on his own time and money, he trained himself in computer coding and launched the city’s first website. He produced LaceyLive, the city’s cable show which aired on TCTV.  He coordinated the city’s tree giveaway program which continues every Arbor Day.

Most recently, he has been involved in the Lacey Veteran’s Services Hub.

While working at city hall, Steve noticed that the city had rented some space to a veteran’s service group.  As more and more military members settled in Lacey, he saw the need was going to grow.  Searching around, he found a vacant building in the old Rowe Six, which had become the Lacey branch of South Sound Community College.  he convinced the city to lease the building and coordinate all veteran services.

Most recently he has overseen the renovation and remodeling of the facility to double its space from 4000 to 8000 sq. feet.  “We have 32,000 veterans in Thurston County and many of them aren’t aware of all the benefits they have coming,” Steve said.  “We’ve made it easier for them to come to one place and access the information they need.”

When you work for local government you have a direct impact on your community almost on a daily basis, he said.  “I can’t think of a better job'”

Steve will be retiring from city employment in a few weeks.  But, that doesn’t mean he’ll give up his service to the Lacey community.  When he was a student at Timberline, he was the Lion’s Club exchange student to Japan.  “I may join a service club,” he said.  “I never miss an opportunity to help my community.”

 

Posted in The Real News


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