Harvest time

Harvest time

Executive
I have always loved Fall – the change in the weather, fall leaves, and visits to Spooner Farms with my granddaughters! Seeing pumpkins reminds me of all the work that farmers put into them before they end up decorating our porches.  Planting the seeds in the field, weeding, and watering them for months before they are ready for harvest.  Then we take over – carving, painting, stickering, or making them into pie! Another important effort in our community that has been planted and tended for a long time is ready for harvest. Next week we will see a very significant milestone for a critically important effort for our community. Three years ago, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, former Councilmember Connie Ladenburg and I invited all the cities and towns in Pierce…
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Not invisible anymore

Not invisible anymore

Executive
Next Monday is Indigenous People’s Day around the nation. It is an opportune time to raise awareness of a nationwide crisis tribes face - Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). It’s tragic, it’s unbelievable and it needs to be addressed now. We need to acknowledge the truth and work with the tribes to find solutions. I have hope we can all come together and do our part. This issue continues a legacy of violence against tribal members and has led to generations of trauma that exist to this day. For example, September 30 was recently declared a Day of Remembrance in Canada for Native children who were taken from their homes in the late 1800s and sent to government and church sponsored boarding schools where they were stripped of their culture, language…
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A place to remember

A place to remember

Executive
Sadly, there are too many news stories that remind us of the dangerous jobs our first responders have.  Earlier this month, a Fircrest police officer was sprayed in the face with bear mace during a traffic stop.  Last month, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue led the response to a dramatic fire at a Puyallup cold storage facility that required a one-mile radius shelter in place order – while our firefighters were onsite. And tragically, sometimes our heroes lose their lives in the service of our community.  Our responsibility is to never forget their loss…their stories…their families… their colleagues.  Now we have a appropriate place to honor and remember them. Our new First Responders Memorial is positioned just off the Nollmeyer Lane entrance to the County-City Building (named for Tacoma Police Officer…
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Dollars and sense

Dollars and sense

Executive
It’s been said that how you spend your money reflects your values.  That’s certainly true of the proposed biennial budget I presented to the Council earlier this week. I’m very proud of how all of you have responded to and cared for our residents over the last 18 tumultuous months, and that important work will continue. At the same time, we have significant needs in our community, made even more critical due to the devastating effects of the pandemic.   We are building on the innovation and partnerships that were key to our success in supporting our community. As I mentioned to the Council, we have focused on three important priorities: public safety, housing and homelessness, and behavioral health. The proposed $3 billion budget makes unprecedented investments in creating new…
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It’s a sign

It’s a sign

Executive
I really enjoy sharing some of the amazing things our colleagues do through the Inside Pierce County video series. We paused some of those videos during the pandemic while we shifted to helping our community get though COVID. While the pandemic isn’t behind us yet, I did just dust off a video we created right before  COVID changed our world. In early 2020 I visited the Sewer & Traffic Operations (STOP) facility to see how we make the myriad of signs that help our residents stay safe on our streets and trails. That’s why you won’t see any masks in the video - what a marker in time! Anyway, my thanks to Steve Martin, a maintenance supervisor in PPW. He gave me a great tour and even let me help…
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Never forget

Never forget

Executive
Tomorrow we will mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Looking back, it’s almost impossible to imagine the devastation of that day, and the effects that reverberate to this day. I remember the shocking images of planes colliding into the World Trade Center and stunned survivors emerging from the buildings.  At the same time, I recall the concern and pride I felt seeing brave first responders rush into the burning towers to save anyone they could. The courage they displayed was humbling and inspiring.  And then the towers collapsed. The stories of bravery of the airline passengers on Flight 93 became legends.  We all tragically learned some of their last words were “Let’s roll!” as they gamely attempted to take control of the doomed plane. …
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The power of a name

The power of a name

Executive
I was blessed to have a third granddaughter born last month.  Her parents considered many potential names – and her sisters had their own favorites too.  I was in the hospital room holding her for the first time when they made it official – Maggie Joy Dammeier.  As I looked down at Maggie, I was struck by the miracle of her birth – and wondered about the life she had before her. That memory came rolling back, as I sat and heard the names of nearly 170 people read aloud as they were buried in a communal plot in Gig Harbor.  I could not help but think about the miracle of each of their births and how their parents came up with their names.  Hearing their names spoken aloud acknowledged…
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Engineering success

Engineering success

Executive
Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.  Additionally, it is a day to recognize women’s achievements, specifically in the efforts to gain equality with men. At Pierce County, we have many women leaders who are serving our residents extremely well in some of our most demanding roles! Without question, COVID has been one of the most significant challenges we have ever faced, and the three leaders at the forefront of our response are Heather Moss, Jody Ferguson and Betty Capestany (Directors of Human Services, DEM and Economic Development, respectively). Their teams’ pandemic responses and recovery work have been recognized at the state and national level! But our group of strong women department leaders doesn’t stop there! Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich…
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Take a walk

Take a walk

Executive
You may have heard that the month of August is “Walk Everywhere Month” in Pierce County.  I’ve used that declaration as inspiration to walk more myself. I don’t know that I’ll win any prizes from the Pierce Trips Walk Everywhere Challenge, but it couldn’t hurt!  And, to be honest, walking more will help me a lot. Replacing some of the places I drive with a walk will help manage stress, improve my fitness, and even save money.  This week I walked to meetings I would have previously driven to, and even strolled to the site where I regularly donate blood. Walking is a great way to really see a community and this summer’s weather in another incentive to get outside. And if we’ve learned anything over the last year and a…
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A gold medal team

A gold medal team

Executive
It’s been said that “teamwork makes the dream work.”  Unless you are Bruce Wagner, you probably never dream about roads, but I wouldn’t blame him if he did! Summertime means lots of things - kids out of school, time spent relaxing at beaches and in the water, and ... road work! That’s right.  While you are hopefully getting some time away for much needed R and R, our Roads maintenance crew springs into action to take advantage of drier weather. I must admit watching the Roads crew in action as they apply chip seal is inspiring!  It’s hard work that requires remarkable attention to detail, nonstop movement, and great skill. Thanks to Bruce W. and crew I recently had the chance to watch as a couple dozen of our colleagues…
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Please stop the ride….

Please stop the ride….

Executive
As a kid growing up in University Place, I loved going to the Puyallup Fair.  Hobby Town, the Dairy Barn, the Pig Palace, scones, and exhibits – I loved all of it.  I also liked the rides – at least most of them.  Once, after visiting one too many food booths, I boarded the “Zipper” with my friends.  If you are unfamiliar with this ride, it had three different rotation movements – all simultaneously!  Not long after our ride started, I knew I was in trouble.  I felt dizzy, disoriented, and queasy.  I wanted to shout, “please stop the ride, I want to get off!”  I didn’t panic, but closed my eyes, focused on breathing, and soon the ride came to an end – without me embarrassing myself! As I watch…
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Worth waiting for

Worth waiting for

Executive
  Last Saturday morning I arrived at the new Stan & Joan Cross Park in Frederickson well before the ribbon cutting was scheduled. That was when I was reminded just how special this place is. I bumped into Ben Heeb, who I have known for over 20 years but had not recently seen.  He was wearing a “Friends of Stan & Joan Cross Park” (“The Friends”) green t-shirt.  Sadly, Ben shared that his wife had recently passed away and showed me a bench just outside the walking path near the playground that was named in her honor.  Ben told me she wanted her memory to be tied to the park and what it has become for the community. I have talked about “the Pierce County Way” before - that WHAT we…
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A very good – and important – summer read!

A very good – and important – summer read!

Executive
As most of you already know, I love reading.  A good story can take me back in time and educate me.  A great story can also broaden my understanding and change my perspective.  Bestselling author Daniel James Brown is a gifted storyteller who can bring people of the past to life – sharing their experiences, challenges, and reactions in incredible detail and complexity – yet keep you riveted throughout.  His book about the UW crew team that won the 1936 Olympic Gold Medal at the Berlin Games in Nazi Germany  was masterful. So, when Brown released “Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II,”  it became my summer vacation book to read! And it exceeded my expectations! Brown follows several young Japanese American men…
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My “why”

My “why”

Executive
I’m right back where I started. Well, kinda. When many people think of working for local government, job security and good benefits come to mind. To be honest, that’s why I initially applied to Pierce County over 22 years ago. I first joined the Pierce County Executive’s Office in March 1999. I had little-to-no knowledge about local government (I learned the staff were motivated by the fact that I had experience with Microsoft Word as they were switching over from WordPerfect) but I quickly learned with the bird’s eye view working at the front desk as an office assistant. More than 22 years, two departments and six titles later, I’m back working in the Executive’s Office as an executive assistant.  And, my “why” has changed. I’m invested in my community.…
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Are we on track?

Are we on track?

Executive
Since 2017 we’ve had a strategic plan that identified our mission, vision, values, and several key objectives designed to address the needs of our residents. Now that we’ve had the benefit of more than four years of seeing the plan in action, I’m pleased to share an updated version of that plan with you via this blog. For the last several weeks, we’ve had a team of leaders working on plan refinements that better reflect the current state of the county. The first thing you’ll notice in the updated plan is a revised vision statement: “A place people are proud to call home.” Not only is the updated vision statement quite a bit shorter, it also leaves room for people to interpret it in a way that speaks to them. …
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Harvesting our recovery

Harvesting our recovery

Executive
While the COVID-19 virus has not been fully eradicated, we are seeing exciting milestones that signal we are on a brighter path. The governor officially “opened” the state this week, ending many of the restrictions that had been put in place.  On Wednesday I rescinded the emergency proclamation that I signed on March 6 last year. And we learned that Husky Stadium will be rocking this fall – Bow Down to Washington! Now it’s time for us to help our residents and their businesses recover from the devastating economic toll the pandemic took on their livelihoods. One area of particular importance is our agriculture community.  Our local farmers sustain us year-round, but I especially appreciate them in the summer when I can enjoy fresh corn, sweet berries (with ice cream,…
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Pride

Pride

Executive
Among the descriptions listed by Webster’s, the word “pride” is defined as “a sense of one’s own worth” and “noble self-esteem.”  That makes me picture a person standing firmly with their head held high and their shoulders back - confident in who they are. If you’ve had the good fortune to meet Lucky Bradley, a Grant Compliance Analyst in Human Services, you will see that pride in action. She speaks with a quiet determination and an inner confidence as she tells her powerful, and very personal, story. I had the chance to get to know Lucky at a Human Services “Story Corps” gathering a few years ago. Her remarks made a strong impression on me then, and I’m glad she is willing to share a part of her life with…
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Not just another day off

Not just another day off

Executive
  At the “Juneteenth Lunch and Learn” last Tuesday, Delbert Richardson, the guest speaker, was asked, “how can someone who is not African American participate in Juneteenth?”  I loved his response.  He challenged us to both acknowledge it and educate ourselves.  I am working to do both! Part of my effort includes “reading” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Leadership for Turbulent Times” (Actually, I am listening to it on Audible, while I read another powerful book!). Kearns Goodwin looks at four U.S. presidents confronting extreme challenges and how they responded.  One is Abraham Lincoln and his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, freeing the slaves in the states in rebellion. A few points stood out powerfully to me.  First, Lincoln believed it was right and necessary for the…
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Protecting and serving

Protecting and serving

Executive
  There is an old saying that you don’t really know another person’s life until you “walk a mile in their shoes.” I didn’t exactly walk in the shoes of our Sheriff’s department last week, but I got awfully close. Thanks to Sergeant Mike Blair, I had the opportunity to join him, Sergeant Jason Youngman and the Central Patrol Graveyard Shift deputies last week.  They are out on patrol, covering the densely populated parts of unincorporated Pierce County – Parkland, Spanaway, Midland, Frederickson, South Hill and more – while most of us are soundly sleeping. My ride-along began at 8 p.m. and lasted until 3:30 a.m. And, while I’ve had the opportunity to ride with our Sheriff’s Department before, this was my first time seeing our county in the middle…
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How do you really feel?

How do you really feel?

Executive
As we approach the opportunity to “open up” and return to the office, we knew you and your colleagues would have some questions.  And, you did not disappoint! I received a record number of questions from folks in advance of the Town Hall, and you added many more “live” during the Zoom meeting. I think it would surprise no one that the most frequently asked questions were about masks.  Must I wear them? Am I allowed to wear them? Can I ask others to wear them? Here’s the deal: we expect every County employee to treat others with respect - that includes co-workers, customers and our community. While some groups led by other elected officials will have their own guidelines and expectations, for the most part fully vaccinated employees may…
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