A rescue effort

A rescue effort

Executive
You’ve probably heard the stories of victims who unwittingly become trapped in human trafficking schemes. Sometimes, a victim of trafficking is a vulnerable person trying to escape a difficult or dangerous life in their homeland. They fall prey to false promises of help, a job and a fresh start. Or, the victim could be a young girl who decides to run away from home, thinking that life with a charming man who showers her with gifts is sincere in his attention.  The tragic reality is that he is grooming her for an unspeakable life forced into sex work and torn away from her friends and family. Sadly, Pierce County is an especially attractive region for trafficking due to our proximity to an international airport and the Pacific Rim. In fact,…
Read More
Stepping up when broken down

Stepping up when broken down

Executive
I first learned of a problem with the Steilacoom/Anderson Island ferry service at 7:23 on Sunday night. Fresh off my own vacation, my mind immediately went to the folks spending a beautiful weekend on the island and wondering whether they could get home. At 9:37 p.m., Toby Rickman of Planning and Public Works called with an update. Two of the three hinges on the ramp apron on the Anderson Island ferry dock had failed and we could not safely load cars on or off the ferry. Pierce County engineers recognized repairing the 13-ton ramp would require a specialty marine contractor. I initiated an emergency contract to conduct the repair without delay. I anticipated a repair of that magnitude would take some time and it was possible that the island would…
Read More
A taxing job!

A taxing job!

Executive
Did you know that in Pierce County we have 330,000 properties on our tax rolls that generate about $1.4 billion each year?  And, were you aware that the Assessor-Treasurer’s (ATR) office collects taxes on behalf of 75 taxing districts in the County? I recently had the chance to learn all about how the ATR team of appraisers determines the value of any given property.  My tour was especially timely as the updated property value statements were recently sent out to property owners. Come ride along as Skylar Wicklander teaches me the art and science of appraising! https://youtu.be/-33RwAX_C-s My thanks to Mike Lonergan, our Assessor-Treasurer, and Skylar, for their willingness to take us behind the scenes as they ensure the taxed properties in Pierce County are accurately appraised and assessed. Have…
Read More
Greetings from Canada!

Greetings from Canada!

Executive
I frequently brag about the natural beauty in Pierce County!  From our islands in the Sound to Mount Rainier, it can hardly get better.  But, occasionally I like to get even more remote - and sometimes that leads me north to Canada. There are times when you need to get away from work to really get the chance to re-connect and have fun with family and friends.  To have those experiences and build memories.  So, this year I am taking my vacation with family, then friends, then more time with family up around Desolation Sound off of Vancouver Island. My vacation started off with a long weekend with my immediate family - of course, that included Blair and Lucy.  We spent plenty of time playing in a pool and going for little boat…
Read More
Never forget

Never forget

Executive
Early last year, Executive Dammeier and Council Chair Richardson proposed, and Council approved, the funding needed to create a new memorial for Pierce County’s fallen first responders. Too many of our police officers, fire fighters and military police have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives protecting our community. The memorial at the County-City Building is designed to provide a fitting and publicly accessible place to honor their memory and valor. With the help of Councilmember Ladenburg and leadership from first responder agencies, the Facilities Management team set to work to find a great location and come up with an appropriate design. The advisory group ultimately selected a plaza configuration featuring natural stone plinths to be placed at the CCB’s second floor entrance. Construction is on track to begin…
Read More
Someone to look up to

Someone to look up to

Executive
As a school board director, I came to appreciate the challenge of naming a new school or prominent facility.  I can think of no higher honor than to have your legacy immortalized by a community.  The naming demonstrates a community’s values and character.  This honor is doubly important when the honoree is still living. This week the University Place (UP) School Board chose wisely by naming the field at Curtis High School's Stadium in honor of long-time Coach Bob Lucey. [caption id="attachment_1819" align="aligncenter" width="701"] Coach Lucey and the UP School Board. Photo courtesy of T'wina Nobles.[/caption]   I can personally testify to the impact Coach Lucey had on many young men, because he was my football coach when I played at Curtis (Go Viks!).  Coach taught me about leadership, determination,…
Read More
Are your ears still ringing?

Are your ears still ringing?

Executive
Whew – what a day! It started early and ended late! My morning was spent representing Pierce County in the classic Independence Day parade in DuPont.  Council Chair Doug Richardson was also “repping” since DuPont is in the Mighty 6th.  This community has the strongest connection to JBLM - filled with active duty, civilian employees, and veterans.  Red, white, and blue was everywhere - flags, bunting, t-shirts, hats, and even on dogs!  I was joined by my family - and Blair, Lucy, and Bosco were a hit with the spectators! Next stop was a celebration/reunion with Lauren’s family.  We had nearly 30 folks from three generations on the deck of the family beach cabin - which has been in the family since 1948.  This reunion was a little bittersweet since…
Read More
Swept away

Swept away

Executive
Our Sheriff’s deputies have some pretty amazing places to do their work.  Given the miles and miles of shoreline surrounding us, as well as the many rivers and lakes in our county, rescuing folks in the water is a critical tactic. Our crack Swift Water Rescue Team trains several times a year to keep their technical skills sharp and their teamwork well coordinated. I was fortunate to be invited to join them on their training session last week on the Puyallup River above Orting. Even with my Navy background, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into!  Basically, I had two goals: first, to not die; and second, to not lose my dignity. I know I aced the first goal. As for the second goal, I’ll let…
Read More
A human touch

A human touch

Executive
Every day, I have challenging conversations with our colleagues and those outside the County about our work to build a brighter future for the people of Pierce County.  Many of those conversations revolve around more and better jobs, safeguarding and enhancing our natural environment, strengthening our educational options – improving the quality of life for our residents.  When I have these future-focused discussions, I am comforted knowing that the people in our Human Services Department are clearly focused on helping those in our community who need assistance today. If you have never had the chance to visit our Human Services team, the amazing staff of compassionate professionals would impress you.  They are an extremely diverse group – coming from multiple countries and speaking many languages – all united by a…
Read More
Counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place

Counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place

Executive
Counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place. It’s easy to see the parallels between election administration and the decennial census. That’s one reason I’m so passionate about the 2020 Census. The April 1, 2020 event is just around the corner and I’m happy to share that Pierce County has gotten a head start to ensure that every county resident is accurately counted. Pierce County’s GIS team (Brandy Riche and Chuck Buzzard) kicked off the process in March with a review of census block and dwelling unit data for all incorporated and unincorporated areas within Pierce County. Thanks to their hard work and expertise, the entire county now has 362,445 address records verified and geo-located in the GIS spatial layer. This advance work (within a 120-day window!) means…
Read More
In tribute

In tribute

Executive
Whether serving our country, our community or our county, we have many reasons to pause this week and express our gratitude to our public servants. Much will be written this week in memory of the thousands of men and women involved in World War II’s Operation Overlord – better known as D-Day.  In marking the 75th anniversary of the invasion of the Normandy beaches in France, we are remembering all those who served, including those supporting from England and in the 1,200 planes and 5,000 vessels.  But mostly, we are honoring the sacrifice and bravery of the 160,000 troops who crossed the English Channel to confront Hitler’s vaunted “Atlantic Wall."  Many young men faced likely death as they parachuted in or waded ashore. The battle would rage for months, with…
Read More
Valued and respected

Valued and respected

Executive
My friend and mentor, Lyle Quasim, was awarded the KBTC 2019 Community Impact Award this week.  It is quite an honor, and he is more than deserving. I’ve known Lyle for decades and we have shared countless coffees talking about our community – be it the Puyallup School District, the 25th Legislative District, or Pierce County.  I respect him tremendously and value his counsel - and appreciate his bear hugs. He has wide and varied experiences with an amazing resume.  He came of age in the turbulent 1960’s. He served in our military during the Vietnam War.  He was a member of the Tacoma Black Panthers before he went on to serve as the secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, the Pierce County Chief of…
Read More
Answers

Answers

Executive
On December 18, 2017, Amtrak 501, on its inaugural run, left the tracks near DuPont at 7:34 a.m. Several  passenger cars landed on southbound I-5.  Tragically, 3 people died, 57 passengers were injured, as were 8 occupants of cars on the freeway. First responders from Pierce and Thurston counties and JBLM - as well as civilians - took action immediately to rescue the injured.  The City of DuPont opened its City Hall to support the efforts.  Our Incident Management Team took charge of the scene - coordinating a huge multi-agency response.  Our team from the Medical Examiner's office had the difficult task of recovering the remains of those who lost their lives.  I was exceptionally proud of how Pierce County responded. At press conferences after the crash, I was repeatedly asked…
Read More
The other Washington

The other Washington

Executive
While I enjoy traveling occasionally, I am biased toward what we have to offer here in Pierce County.  I love our South Sound, our mountain, our people and living “Like the Mountain is Out.”  There are more things that I would like to do here in Washington than I can ever fit into my calendar.  By the way, did you see that Washington was ranked the #1 state in country by U.S. News and World Report. I agree! So, two missions took me to DC. The first trip had to do with seeking federal partners in the completion of SR 167 from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma.  This project has global trade implications for our Port and our nation.  Beyond freight mobility, completing this highway will also reduce local congestion…
Read More
Hello, Sunshine!

Hello, Sunshine!

Executive
It’s been quite a week in Pierce County! On Tuesday, the Council approved the ordinance that allows the Chambers Bay resort to move forward.  I appreciate the due diligence and review completed by the Council as they performed their work.  They had a vital role to play and I was pleased to see the ordinance pass with a 6 – 1 vote. I’m also grateful for the members of the Executive team who worked for the last two years to negotiate the ground lease agreement and provide briefings to the Council. My thanks to Don Anderson for leading this effort. Now, it’s up to the development team to go out and secure the financing for the project. This week also saw the launch of the new Invest Pierce County website. …
Read More
A new chapter

A new chapter

Executive
As you know from previous blogs, I’ve been an avid reader my entire life.  Books have taken me to far-off imaginary lands and transported me back into fascinating historical events.  A great book can be a relaxing vacation without leaving home and a wonderful distraction from the stresses of life. That’s why I was so intrigued to meet the young men who participate in the Remann Hall Book Club.  (Full disclosure, young women in detention also belong to Book Club but none were there the evening I went.) The video below will give you a snapshot of the night.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first arrived, but I left Remann Hall with a mix of feelings.  I was impressed – even surprised – at the intelligence and…
Read More
The Power of Stories Retold

The Power of Stories Retold

Executive
This week I once again heard two powerful and horrific stories about domestic violence in our community.  Both stories were difficult to listen to and comprehend.  They describe a world that I fervently wish did not exist.  Unfortunately, in this world, the strongest and most loving relationship between a couple is twisted into something incredibly manipulative and evil, sometimes even deadly. This past Wednesday, I had a reunion with Connie Perry, my former assistant.  Her husband, retired Sheriff Sergeant David Perry, is on the Board at the YWCA of Pierce County and they invited me to sit at their table for the 36th Annual Celebration Luncheon (which raised over $167,000!). Author of the bestselling book “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive” and keynote speaker for…
Read More
Placing children at the center

Placing children at the center

Executive
While it wasn’t the first time I had visited Baby Court, the case I watched unfold in the courtroom last week had a strong impact on me. For those not familiar with the program, Baby Court is an innovative approach to working as a community to reunite babies who have been removed from a  with a parent or family member.  Mostly, it involves the parent re-taking control of their lives, and frequently requires breaking the grip of addiction. Thanks to Judge Hickman, Lisa Mansfield in the Department of Assigned Counsel, Sally Mednansky of Juvenile Court and many others, Baby Court in Pierce County has received national recognition and acclaim for the critical difference it is making in the lives of our youngest residents – and their families. It also happens to be…
Read More
Greener greens

Greener greens

Executive
For nearly a quarter of a century, the Chambers Creek Regional Park Master Site Plan has included plans to build a golf course, restaurant, hotel and other community amenities.  It also included enhancements to the initial trail system. Since that time, the Environmental Services Building was constructed, the world-class golf course was built and hosted two USGA championships (with plans to host another in 2021) and untold numbers of walkers, runners, cyclists and dogs have enjoyed the spectacular beauty of the park and views of the water. There is no question that Chambers Bay Regional Park is a remarkable place and I take my role as a steward of it very seriously.  My partner in this stewardship is the Council. Being a steward in this case also means being accountable…
Read More
Gatherings

Gatherings

Executive
Gatherings serve an important role in our community.  They rally us around a common interest or concern.  And, they give us a shared place to put differences aside for a bit of time. Gatherings give us an opportunity to learn from one another and broaden our perspective, too.  And sometimes, a gathering is simply a great excuse to celebrate Spring. Pierce County is home to several significant – and even historic – gatherings this time of year. For example, this morning I was at the 26th Annual Puyallup Kiwanis Community Prayer Breakfast.  It’s one of those gatherings I make a point of trying to attend every year. I always appreciate the thought-provoking and inspiring speaker.  This year’s keynote was from Mike Lehman, who retired to Puyallup after 27 years in…
Read More