Epic

Epic

Executive
  More than two years ago we made a decision that, in retrospect, was a pretty good one. Let me give you a bit of background: those of you who remember the 2015 U.S. Open Championship probably remember it as much for the terrible putting greens as anything else.  The “broccoli” that players had to contend with upstaged our moment on the international stage.  For you non-golfers like me, having the greens compared to a vegetable is NOT good! We knew that if we were ever going to see Chambers Bay reach its full potential and host another major championship, we would have to replace the greens.  It was a big decision and required us to close the course for a few months.  But the results were worth it. You…
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Getting closer

Getting closer

Executive
I suspect many of you woke up last Tuesday morning and didn’t feel much different.  The CDC and the Governor had announced changes in masking guidance for those who are fully vaccinated, and Pierce County was moved to Phase 3.  But those of you coming into the office still wore a mask, and if you went grocery shopping you likely were still required to wear a mask. Perhaps you wondered, what’s the big deal about Phase 3? Good question! Here are some of the differences: restaurants, barbers and salons, and houses of worship can now accommodate 50% of their capacity, and indoor facilities such as theaters, aquariums, concert halls and bowling alleys can also expand the number of people they can serve.  That’s good news for our struggling businesses. The…
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The power of play

The power of play

Executive
Summer is coming and when I was a kid that always meant lots of time playing outside.  I would spend time in the woods next to my house, play “kick the can” with our neighborhood kids, and ride bikes to Point Defiance. The last school bell of the year would ring, and we’d run out the classroom with newfound freedom! But, thanks to COVID, our young people today have had closed playgrounds, empty swimming pools and socially distanced parks. Kids need to play! That’s why I’m excited our Parks department has partnered with Metro Parks, PenMet Parks, Lakewood Parks, Puyallup Parks and the Town of Steilacoom to offer deeply discounted and safe summer camps and programs for Pierce County youth. Funded by American Rescue Plan Act federal funding, Kids Need…
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Including everyone saves lives

Including everyone saves lives

Executive
Including everyone saves lives I’m glad we are finally at the point where everyone who wants a vaccine can get one – and hopefully the Pfizer vaccine will be approved for middle schoolers next week!  Between the Tacoma Dome mass vaccination site to smaller pop ups at schools, businesses, and community centers, we will have shots for every arm in the County. It seems like overnight, I went from waiting for my turn to be vaccinated and pushing for more vaccines for our community, to trying to find folks willing to roll up their sleeves and make it as easy as possible for them to get their shot. (By the way, I got my second dose last Saturday at White River High School.  Nurse Shelley Kelly ended up giving me…
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What could possibly be behind that locked door?

What could possibly be behind that locked door?

Executive
  What could possibly be behind that locked door?   Many of us spend countless work hours in our County-City Building (CCB). But I’ll bet most of you rarely give a second thought to the complex systems that lie behind that locked door at the end of the hallway. When you get on the elevator and push the button for your floor, do you ever think about how that elevator works? Or the unique challenges that come with being home to our Courts? I recently challenged our Facilities Team to show me the most interesting “behind the scenes” places in the CCB – and they did not disappoint! Check out some of the spots we visited in this episode of Inside Pierce County: (more…)
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Stronger together

Stronger together

Executive
Each May, the American Public Works Association (APWA) dedicates one week to educate the public about the value that local public works departments provide to their communities. This year, National Public Works Week will be from May 16-21 and the theme is, “Stronger Together.” The theme highlights just how important it is for every community stakeholder to collaborate, educate, and work together to solve complex challenges in a way that benefits everyone. Public works is a broad term that encompasses services and infrastructure that most people have come to rely on in their daily lives but may not think about very often. Our utilities, roads, traffic signals, bridges, solid waste management, and flood protection systems keep us safe, healthy, resilient, and make everyday tasks much more convenient. As we all…
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One step backward, two steps forward

One step backward, two steps forward

Executive
One step backward, two steps forward Well, Monday was a tough day for Pierce County.  As you undoubtably know by now, we’ve been moved back to Phase 2.  The more restrictive rules go into effect today. Like many of our residents, I was frustrated by the rollback after all the work we have done and are doing. First, I am very thankful that our residents who are vulnerable to the most serious outcomes (those over 65 years of age) are mostly vaccinated – over 66%! Secondly, I talked with our hospital system leaders, and they assure me that they are ready and have capacity to provide care for any COVID patient in our community.  My frustration stems from the fact that we’ve been watching the county-to-county vaccination data on the…
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Valor

Valor

Executive
One week ago, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the ceremony for the first group of graduates of the Veterans Treatment Court program. Like everything else, COVID had delayed the celebration for a year until we could safely gather in a small group to congratulate two of the individuals that had successfully worked through their challenges and emerged healthy and happy. As part of the recognition, the graduates were presented with beautiful Quilts of Valor.  If you’ve not heard of this program, the quilts are handmade by amazing volunteers and given to people who have been impacted by war.  The quilts are meant to wrap the recipient up in comfort and security. I suspect there was not a dry eye at the event as two veterans were…
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How are you doing?

How are you doing?

Executive
This week, several hundred of you joined me for a virtual Employee Town Hall.  I always appreciate being able to update you on County priorities and hearing your thoughts and questions - unvarnished and direct! I can always count on a few of you asking a pointed question - and I’m glad you feel comfortable doing so. If you couldn’t join us this week, you can grab your favorite snack and beverage and watch it here: I regret that during the Town Hall I accidentally missed one of the questions we received in advance.  I want to assure the person who submitted it that it wasn’t intentional, and I’d like to answer it now. Here’s the question: How is morale with county staff? Has there been any formal or informal…
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Shining a spotlight

Shining a spotlight

Executive
As promised in last week’s blog, I want to give you a glimpse into some amazing people who serve our residents. Last weekend we held a virtual celebration for the people who graciously volunteer their time and talent to support County programs. In pre-pandemic times this was one of my favorite celebrations and allowed me to personally thank folks who give many hours of service to our community out of the goodness of their hearts. This year, because we couldn’t gather in person, we created a compilation video that highlights a few of the groups and individuals who were recognized for their outstanding volunteer work.  Check out the video below: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q93XNvFqOLM[/embedyt] My thanks to Chair Young for taking the time to lend his support and congratulations to our volunteers.…
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Hope and healing

Hope and healing

Executive
  Last Friday was a great day in Pierce County!  Not only did we continue getting vaccines into the arms of our residents, but we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Crisis Recovery Center (CRC) in the Parkland/Spanaway area. For those of you who’ve been with the County awhile, you know that we’ve been working on this for about the last four years or so as part of our focus on bolstering access to behavioral health care. As with other initiatives, COVID took its toll on this project and slowed us down significantly.  Perhaps that’s why everyone associated with making the new CRC possible was nearly giddy at Friday’s ceremony. A small, social distanced group gathered at the CRC in beautiful weather and we livestreamed the event.  If…
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Restart, recover and reform

Restart, recover and reform

Executive
When I look back on the last year, COVID had a lot of control over our lives.  It controlled where we worked, how we interacted with family members and friends, where our kids went to school, how we shopped, and more.  We had to react and respond to the virus. As I mentioned at this year’s State of the County address, COVID may have been in charge during 2020 but it’s time for us to take back control and begin to safely restart, recover, and reform our county. If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch the State of the County on Wednesday, you can watch the replay here: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl2me9dgpIs[/embedyt] Also, Governor Inslee announced yesterday that our state is moving to Phase 3 on March 22.  With that move,…
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Home is my __________

Home is my __________

Executive
    On Tuesday, I attended Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s “Changing Lives Lunch-IN” virtual fundraiser.  One of their engagement activities displayed an image of a house with the words “Home is my _______.”  COVID has certainly expanded the answers to that question. For most of us, our homes became a refuge, a remote office, a classroom, a gym, and a safe place to isolate. At the same time, COVID-induced job losses have put incredible stresses on household budgets.  Far too many residents are seeing their rent or mortgage payments piling up.  The prospect of losing their home is looming, and terrifying. That is why I am so proud of Heather Moss and our Human Services team.  In 2020, they used federal CARES Act funding to provide rental and mortgage…
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Change is going to come

Change is going to come

Executive
  Have you seen the recently released movie, “One Night in Miami”?  It was directed by Regina King and tells the (mostly) true story of an evening in the 1960’s when Muhammed Ali (then Cassius Clay), Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Malcolm X were together. You can check out a preview here: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZprXMxKg--w[/embedyt] For those too young to recognize these names, Ali was one of the best heavyweight boxers in history.  Sam Cooke was an amazing R & B singer best known for the ballad, “You Send Me.”  Jim Brown was a fierce running back for the Cleveland Browns and held the NFL rushing yards record for many years until it was broken by Walter Payton.  And, Malcolm X was a human rights leader, a minister, and a spokesperson…
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Let it snow

Let it snow

Executive
  The song “Let It Snow” starts out, “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” and we did see some amazing snow totals across Pierce County a few days ago.  While most of us stayed safely at home building epic snowmen or videoing puppies in the snow, our Planning and Public Works Team was on the job – and the roads - 24 hours a day! My thanks to Bruce Wagner, Maintenance Manager with Planning and Public Works, for the fantastic work his team did over the long snowy weekend.  Between the Road/River Operations Center command teams, the road supervisors who constantly monitor the road conditions, our snowplow drivers, the mechanics who keep everything running, and the logistics folks who make sure we have plenty of salt, it takes many people…
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Tomorrow’s icons today

Tomorrow’s icons today

Executive
I’ve had the privilege of writing in this blog about important African American Pierce County residents that have made powerful contributions to our lives close to home and beyond. I have shared the fascinating story of Dr. Nettie Asberry who founded the local chapter of the NAACP in 1913, the beginning of a long and illustrious civil rights legacy. She was also an accomplished musician and earned her doctorate in an era when advanced degrees were unusual for women, especially women of color. Another icon in Pierce County is Harold Moss. I’ve written about him a couple of times, including last fall when we sadly lost him at the age of 93. He made his mark in so many ways, but he was especially relevant to us as the Pierce…
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Together

Together

Executive
  An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  Over the last four years we’ve seen how effective we can be when we join with our local partners to tackle regional challenges. For example, you may recall that a couple of years ago the City of Seattle announced plans to impose a $275 per employee head tax on large employers. Here in the South Sound, we wanted to send a different message - that Pierce County welcomed new and expanding businesses that brought family-wage jobs to our residents. We gathered mayors from across the County to create a $275 tax credit for businesses that created new family-wage jobs.  We announced it at a joint news conference with many…
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Jabs and jabbering

Jabs and jabbering

Executive
So, I recently learned that while those of us in the U.S. say we are eager to get our vaccination “shot,” our friends across the Pond in Great Britain say they can’t wait to get a “jab.”  Either way, I’m excited that we are getting more vaccines into arms! Thanks to some terrific work by our Department of Emergency Management (DEM), the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and their community partners, lots of County residents got their “jab” this week.  We opened two mass vaccination events last Tuesday and Thursday and have another planned for Saturday in Gig Harbor. These events take a huge amount of organization and coordination.  Each one includes a multi-step process to confirm eligibility, accept appointments, identify a host site, arrange for security and traffic control, as…
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Finding a way

Finding a way

Executive
There’s an old saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  And, there is some truth to that.  Despite any number of obstacles, it seems that some people can find a way to break through and get things done. That’s especially true here in Pierce County. For example, I had a chance to join Economic Development in a socially distanced lunch last week.  I wanted to thank them for the myriad of ways they’ve supported our struggling businesses through the pandemic. Over sandwiches, each one answered three questions from their work in the last year: What’s the funniest thing that has happened? What is the most meaningful thing? And, what lessons have you learned? I found their answers to all three questions to be fascinating. As the team faced roadblock…
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Let’s go!

Let’s go!

Executive
  Four years ago, I had the privilege of being sworn in as Executive for the first time. Hundreds of guests joined me in a large conference center.  It was festive, loud and lively. Fast forward four years and this week’s swearing-in was small, socially distanced, masked and brief. Despite the difference in the two events, I was honored and humbled to be chosen by our voters to serve our residents for four more years, and grateful for the opportunity to share the ceremony with a few guests. You can watch the entire ceremony below, but I will give you a brief summary of my remarks. [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFKzo8SSJdM[/embedyt] After a welcome from City of Sumner Mayor Bill Pugh and a blessing from Pastor Aaron Stewart, retired Judge Frank Cuthbertson administered…
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