Regional Strategy for Economic Development

Grow local jobs for our local workers. For a number of months, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has been in the process of developing a regional strategy for economic development. The PSRC has committees to address growth management, transportation, and economic development. Each of these committees have representatives from King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County and Kitsap County to work on regional policies and approaches. The Pierce County Council has representatives on each of these committees and I have been chosen to serve on the economic development committee known as the Economic Development District (EDD) committee. There are a total of 6 members from various jurisdictions and organizations from Pierce County on the EDD committee. The draft of the strategy was released a few months ago and was met…
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Residential Side Sewer Conservation Loan Program

Residents in Pierce County don't always have $10,000-$15,000 laying around in their bank account to pay for an unexpected sewer repair! That is why I am so excited that Pierce County has launched a new loan program to help property owners repair or replace private side sewer lines. Below are details of the program and a link to additional information. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact my office or the sewer program at 253-798-4020.         Residential Side Sewer Conservation Loan Program Sewer problems are often caused by trouble in your side sewer line. If your side sewer needs repair or replacement, you may be eligible for a low-interest sewer conservation loan. Pierce County Planning and Public Works Sewer Division offers low-interest loans…
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Chambers Bay Beginnings

A number of years ago, when my husband John was County Executive, he came home and said, "You are not going to believe this!" He went on to tell me about the County's property on the west bluff of University Place that was under a long term lease to a gravel mine. There was also a 50 year Master Plan that did not include any near term improvements.  The land would have continued to be fenced off and not be accessible to the public and John was astounded that very little would have been happening on this land for that long. He took me out to the property and said that this land has to be returned to the people. With that statement the process started, first with the termination…
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Solving the Opioid Epidemic

Overdoses and deaths from the abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin have devastated countless families and communities across the country and created an opioid epidemic. Here are some national facts: In 2014, the latest year for which national data is available, nearly 30,000 individuals died from opioid overdose in the U.S. In 1991, health professionals wrote 76 million opioid prescriptions in the U.S. In 2011, they wrote 219 million! On an average day in the U.S. according to the Department of Health and Human Services, health care professionals dispense more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions. Overall, Americans consume up to 80 percent of the world’s prescription opioids. Each day 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids for the first time because they are unable to get renewals on their prescriptions. Of…
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Making an Impact!

I currently serve as chair of the Human Services Ad Hoc Committee for the Pierce County Council. Also on the committee are Councilmembers Doug Richardson and Rick Talbert. The Pierce County Council hired the Human Services Research Institute (HRSI) last year to prepare a report that would identify behavioral health needs in Pierce County; catalog available behavioral health resources; determine behavioral health resource gaps; and provide recommendations for ensuring a comprehensive, cost-effective, and recovery oriented behavioral health system that meets the needs of Pierce County. The Human Services Ad Hoc Committee was created as a direct result of the HSRI report findings and the copious public testimony on behavioral health the council heard last fall. As a council we see the need and hear the cry for organized and thoughtful…
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Supporting our military in Pierce County

It should be no surprise to any of you that Pierce County has a lot of military and veterans living and working in our community. In fact, it is one of the top areas of retirement for people getting out of the military. Can you blame them? We have mountains, rivers, an ocean, big cities and small towns, theatres and museums, parks and trails. As a county, we try to be responsive to those that have served our country. If you have served, know someone who is currently serving or is a veteran, please read on and learn about benefits Pierce County offers to those in our military. The Pierce County Auditor’s Office has developed a brochure that highlights benefits that are available to the military through their office. Below…
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Summer is coming…no, really!

The past few days this week have been a teaser of what people in the Pacific Northwest have been waiting for…SUN. When we see the sun and feel a little bit of warmth we come out of our cocoons and try to soak up as much heat as we can because next week it may be cold and cloudy again. Some are adventurous enough to put on shorts and many will be hitting all the parks. We are a diverse county. We’re the only county in the continental United States that goes from sea level to the highest point. We have water sports and snow sports. We can hike on trails and kayak on rivers. And we have an abundant selection of recreational opportunities that our Pierce County Parks Department maintains,…
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One County

In the late ‘80s a few elected officials, the City of Tacoma Police Chief and the Pierce County Sheriff got together to talk about crime and the growing concerns with gang activity. They knew that law enforcement had to be part of the solution, but they also knew there could not be a cop on every corner. What could be done to make our streets safe? And from that question the Safe Streets Campaign was born and they still continue to work with communities today to help them figure out ways to help themselves. Recently, I went to a Safe Streets meeting in Spanaway, an area the Pierce County Council hears a lot of concerns about from citizens in that area. Concerns include land use issues, property crimes and like…
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Sometimes It’s Not Easy

About this time last year I wrote a column about youth homelessness called “Like a Rolling Stone.” Once again the County recently did a homeless count and even though some of the numbers are a little better (very little) we still are concerned about those people without a permanent home or even a shelter over their heads. For two years, I have been working to open a drop in center and shelter for young adults, 18-24. This age group is separate from others in their reasoning for homelessness. Some have aged out of foster care. But more often, these young adults have experienced traumas that have forced them out of their homes and onto the streets. All of them are moving into the challenges adulthood without the support, resources or…
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“Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.”

It’s that time of the year again that we all look forward to… taxes. Certainly not the death part. Can you hear the bit of sarcasm?  More pages of quotes about taxes exist than pages in the help booklet that comes with the 1040 EZ Form (a 52 page booklet). Most of the quotes are not favorable. After all, no one likes to pay taxes, I get that! Mike Lonergan, Pierce County Assessor Treasurer, and the County’s “Tax Man” met with the Council to talk about the County’s property tax assessments and I would like to share some of what I heard. [caption id="attachment_12034" align="alignleft" width="384"]2017 Ad Valorem (voter approved) Taxes click here to view image[/caption]There is good news and bad news. In the cities that I represent, Fircrest, University Place,…
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