Eye in the sky

Eye in the sky

Executive
  Our Sheriff’s department has an amazing set of “tools” to help keep us safe – and help us when we need it most. In a previous blog I introduced you to their swiftwater team and Councilmember Dave Morell did a great profile of the marine services patrol unit:   [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5phZmFoa9k[/embedyt]   [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqX0wmNy-10[/embedyt]   I recently had the great opportunity to take a flight on a beautiful sunny day with Deputies Robert Malloy and Emily Holznagel of the Sheriff’s aviation team to learn more about what they do from their perch in the sky. Come take a ride via this video: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E71X_v5DVzo[/embedyt] Here are a few other interesting facts about our aviation team: They have two Cessna 206 aircraft, which are very cost-effective and allow a long…
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This ability!

This ability!

Executive
The month of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  You may not have heard of that recognition before, but it has been celebrated for 70 years! Dictionary.com defines the word "ability" as: “competence in an activity or occupation because of one's skill, training, or other qualification.”  You’ll notice there was no mention made of one’s physical mobility or sensory capability. As you are likely aware, we have made Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) a priority at Pierce County.  This week’s blog focuses on the inclusive part of that initiative. Being an inclusive employer means people get to belong and contribute – regardless of physical capability or perceived limitation. Having a more inclusive work environment gives us the opportunity to benefit from the contributions of all of us. Having said that,…
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Welcome – home!

Welcome – home!

Executive
Those of you who have seen me “out and about” in our County know that I strongly believe that some things can only really be appreciated by seeing them firsthand.  Whether it's a needed repair at a ferry dock, a sewer wet well, or Baby Court, just reading about something does not give you the complete picture.  Seeing with your own eyes is essential to gaining a full understanding! That is why when the Seattle Chamber of Commerce announced their annual “in-state study mission” trip was planned for Pierce County, I was excited to help host.  The Chamber selects a different community each year for a study trip to learn best practices and strengthen its regional ties. For two days last week, Seattle and King County leaders, mostly from their business…
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Show me the money

Show me the money

Executive
I had the honor and privilege of presenting our first-ever biennial budget to the Council this week. As you will hear me say in the brief video clip below, I believe budgets reflect our values.  And, this proposed budget is no exception. (more…)
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Leaders among us

Leaders among us

Executive
There is a common thread that weaves this year’s Standing Ovation Award winners together – leadership.  In each instance, our colleagues stepped forward and didn’t wait for someone to tell them what to do.  Their award-winning work illustrates their success in being proactive, creative and innovative. In the Vibrant Communities category, we recognized two projects:  The replacement of the Heritage Recreation Center Field and the Pierce County LIFE program. If you have athletes in your life you are probably familiar with the health concerns over crumb rubber playfields. They have been the subject of medical research for those who come into contact with the little black rubber pellets that kick up when you land on the turf or save a goal. In light of these concerns, Benjamin Barrett in Parks…
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Survey says…..

Survey says…..

Executive
Two key surveys have recently been fielded to a couple of very important groups: our employees and our residents.  The results have been compiled, and I want to let you know what we heard. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) survey was sent to County employees so that we could learn more about your thoughts on this important initiative.  We had a tremendous response! We received nearly 1,000 responses and thousands of written comments – in fact, there was a total of 153 pages.  You clearly had a lot on your mind. I’m grateful to all of you who took the time to respond and provide your thoughts – I personally read each and every one of them. I was especially impressed  that when we asked you to define “diversity”…
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Let the light shine!

Let the light shine!

Executive
I am a huge believer in the power of transparency.  Being able to see something clearly, gives understanding and builds confidence.  Those two principles are core to why transparency to our residents and taxpayers is so critical to the work we do.  Accountability and trust go along with it - especially in a government setting.  An increasingly important part of our work is to be transparent with the public. It’s not always easy to shed light on the operations and actions of a government entity - especially one as large and complex as Pierce County. It requires a significant amount of time. Plus, sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable.  But we need to stay vigilant in our obligation to being transparent and accountable to those we serve and who fund our work.…
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You’re going to need a bigger boat

You’re going to need a bigger boat

Executive
As I’ve mentioned in this blog many times, I’m a boat guy. I love being on the water.  Whether as a kid sailing with my family, during my time in the Navy, or in the San Juan Islands with my family this summer.  While I believe any day on the water is better than any day on land, I also have a serious respect for the sea – including the waters of Puget Sound.  The key to a safe and successful voyage is to always have the right sized boat for the trip – especially when you confront a storm. Recently, my wife Lauren and I, along with Bosco, were out on Eld Inlet in a 10-foot rowboat when the wind picked up – a little over 10 knots.  This…
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Baby, it’s cold inside!

Baby, it’s cold inside!

Executive
I toured a fascinating new facility in Pierce County this week. You may have noticed a big, white cube on the outskirts of Fircrest.  Thanks to the Economic Development Board (EDB), Chair Richardson, Councilmember Morell and I had the chance to peek inside the building. The building, owned and managed by NewCold, is a cold storage facility that houses seafood and produce.  Their primary customer is Trident Seafoods, one of the largest companies that fish in Alaska. NewCold is based in The Netherlands and the Tacoma location is its first in the United States. They also have a Burley, Idaho facility that focuses on potatoes – naturally! I was thrilled to hear company officials talk about how their search for a site south of Seattle led them to Pierce County.…
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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,…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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,…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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