A salute

A salute

Executive
They’ve served our country with courage and skill. The work to transition to the “real world” begins when the uniform is hung up for good. Veterans face a challenging journey when they finish their military service and come home to those who love them. That’s why I’m especially pleased about the work we’re doing in Pierce County to help make that path a bit smoother for our family, friends and neighbors in our region. In time for Veterans Day, KBTC, the local public television station, is airing a series of profiles of local veterans who have successfully transitioned into successful post-military careers.   I’m proud that Pierce County has ties to some of those individuals featured in the short films. Sheriff Paul Pastor estimates that 1/3 of his team has served…
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45 years?

45 years?

Executive
A few weeks ago I wrote in the blog about our terrific colleagues who were recognized with Standing Ovation Awards.  We had a great time this week cheering for their terrific accomplishments. Folks were on the edge of their seats as raffle tickets were drawn for some amazing baskets.  Melanie Halsan, I hope you bought a PowerBall ticket – how did you win three baskets?? A highlight of the evening was recognizing the 45 years Marc Simpson has devoted to Pierce County.  I’m grateful for his commitment to the county and our residents. Enjoy this fun video: ([embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlSEyKBzJeA[/embedyt] Can you believe that our entire organization – and the health department – once fit in the County-City Building?  Amazing! Thanks, also, to Janine Redmond for her 40 years of service!…
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Leverage

Leverage

Executive
Archimedes is quoted as saying “Give me a lever long enough, and I shall move the world.”  While I am not looking to move the world, I am interested in leveraging our resources to better serve our residents.   Whenever I read reports of natural disasters like Hurricane Michael, my thoughts immediately turn to Pierce County and the potential disasters we may face, with winter storms and flooding being foremost in my mind. I am a strong advocate for using technology as a lever to make our work better, faster, less expensive, and safer. A perfect example of this is the County’s use of drone technology. One look at the devices in action and you can quickly realize the potential benefits of using the “eyes in the sky." I recently joined…
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Does it get better than October?

Does it get better than October?

Executive
October is my favorite month of the year – and today is a great reason why.  It is a spectacularly beautiful day in Pierce County!  High School football teams will be under the lights tonight and the Huskies will defeat the Ducks tomorrow!  Many of our employees will be heading to the mountains, fields and marshes to recreate – and some will be mowing their lawns, hoping it is the last one of the year.  Sunday afternoon I plan to visit Spooner Farms with my granddaughters.  October is the best! Even as I revel in October, I am also keenly aware what lies ahead.  “Winter is coming” and with it comes challenges for some of our residents and our community.  We have work to do. Sadly, many in our community…
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Food for thought

Food for thought

Executive
We are blessed to live in a country with ready access to food.  But, for too many of us, that access provides a myriad of unhealthy food choices. Now, I’m the first to admit that I love scones from the Fair and peanut M&Ms.  They really are my kryptonite!  So, I try to not make a habit of indulging in them. I was shocked to learn that 30 percent of our county’s adult residents are obese and 25 percent of our tenth graders are overweight or obese.  Our residents are taking years off their lives through the food choices they make and the sedentary lifestyle they maintain. The good news?  People who learn how to read food labels and prepare simple healthy meals tend to make better food choices. That’s…
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Rock the vote!

Rock the vote!

Executive
College students fill the campus square. And voter registration is in the air! It’s no accident that National Voter Registration Day was September 26th, 2018, as we prepare for the November General Election. The Auditor’s Office had a blast at Rock the Vote at PLU and at civic events across Pierce County. Washington State’s voter registration rate is quite healthy, regularly in the top quartile of the nation.  We’ve registered roughly 83% of the eligible population! That leaves just 17% eligible adults to register. The low hanging fruit has been harvested.  We’re going to need a ladder to reach the rest! To that end, the 2018 Washington State legislature passed several registration laws that will take effect in 2019. Your Pierce County Elections Division is busily getting ready for implementation.…
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The long road home

The long road home

Executive
This past Monday, I finished an excellent book – “Indianapolis: the True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the 50 Year Fight to Exonerate and Innocent Man” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic.                             Some of you may only know of the USS Indianapolis from the memorable scene in the movie “Jaws,” with the character Quint (played by Robert Shaw) [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEx2nU74_Wo[/embedyt] The story starts much earlier.  The USS Indianapolis (CA-35) was a cruiser that served exceptionally well in the Pacific during World War II.  She fought in most of the major battles and served as the flagship for the Fifth Fleet.  She was struck by a kamikaze off Okinawa, returned to…
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Clean sweep

Clean sweep

Executive
We’ve seen a big increase in code enforcement complaints over the past few years. As I write this, seven code enforcement officers are working on about 1200 active cases. We are expecting twice as many complaints in 2018 as the year before. [caption id="attachment_1301" align="aligncenter" width="691"] A portion of the clean up needed at one property[/caption] Online portal A big part of our ability to handle the increased workload is the development of our online portal. This amazing tool, which launched at the end of 2017, allows residents to submit complaints online. But it is much more than that. The portal shows you the status of a case and everything related to the parcel. You can see a photograph of the suspected violation, if any permits have been issued on…
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Scones, Krusty pups and piglets!

Scones, Krusty pups and piglets!

Executive
As a Pierce County native and Puyallup resident, I love our community celebrations that make our region distinct. Whether it’s the Buckley Log Show, Maritime Gig Festival, Daffodil parade or outdoor concerts at the Curran Apple Farm in UP, we have many great community traditions. But, for me, the granddaddy of them all is the Washington State Fair. Fall is all about school starting, football and the Fair! So of course I agreed to celebrate the opening of the new Farm at SillyVille. It is a great, new free hands-on opportunity for kids to connect to our farming heritage – and where our food comes from too. What child wouldn’t want to be a “farmer for a day” and feed chickens? Think of it as the counter-balance to Sue’s Tech Kitchen…
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Dollars and sense

Dollars and sense

Executive
The culmination of thousands of hours of work and a depressing amount of paper is ending as I finalize the 2019 budget I will submit to the Council in September. Creating the budget every year may be a bit daunting but it’s a critical exercise in aligning the funds taxpayers provide with our priorities and our residents’ needs and expectations. It probably would not surprise you to learn that we received many millions more in requests than the funds we will have available to invest and spend. As a result, a work group from Finance and the Executive team has been spending much of our last two months in a windowless conference room on the 7th Floor.  We have been evaluating department plans and budget requests, assessing where our scarce…
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Working together to keep our students safe

Working together to keep our students safe

Executive
No one wants to think about a shooter in one of our schools in Pierce County.  But, if we are going to do our best to keep our young people safe, we must not only think about such a horrific possibility but we must plan for it. That’s why I was so heartened to learn about the leadership our Sheriff’s Department demonstrated when they planned and hosted a recent school safety training session with area school districts. Chief Jim Heishman and his colleagues created the Pierce County Regional School Safety Summit to bring together educators, school administrators, law enforcement and fire personnel in a partnership to build and teach the curriculum.  Their goal was to bring a consistent approach to safety across all the schools and all the first responders…
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Cookin’ up something fun

Cookin’ up something fun

Executive
Summer is upon us and that means it is a great grilling barbeque season.  And while barbecuing may be perceived as 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration – especially with the hot weather we’ve had lately -  the secret to success is always in the sauces you use and who you invite to share the great results with. Some of my favorite family and friend memories revolve around food.   As a new addition to the County family, I have been soaking up all the terrific outdoor opportunities and food options we have in Pierce County. And wow, Pierce County is cooking up a ton of good stuff!  Like a tech-filled wonderland for the mouth and the mind.  Yes, Tacoma is one of 10 cities on a national tour for Sue’s Tech…
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What are you most proud of?

What are you most proud of?

Executive
When meeting with employees from our Facilities Department last week, I drew the following question from the hardhat (which contained all the questions they submitted): “Professionally, what are you most proud of?”  That is a very thoughtful question, and while I answered it with them, based on what immediately came to mind, I have continued to reflect on both the question and my answer. For the group, I broke up my answer into segments of my varied work life: During my service in the Navy, one of the highest compliments I ever received was from Construction Mechanic Second Class Faulkner while I was leading a 125-man detachment of Seabees working in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Petty Office Faulkner was a great front-line leader, so it meant a lot to me when…
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Power Paddle to Puyallup

Power Paddle to Puyallup

Executive
Large handmade cedar bark canoes are on the move.  Some have been on the water and even in the ocean over the last month. Paddle to Puyallup will kick off tomorrow morning and run through Saturday, August 4th as more than 100 cedar bark canoes will ask permission to land and come ashore at the former Ole & Charlie’s Marina at the mouth of the Hylebos Waterway.  Canoes are coming - one from the east coast, as far south as Southern Oregon and as far north as Alaska. Canoe Journey has been going on since it’s rebirth in 1989 when the Paddle to Seattle was organized to commemorate the state of Washington’s statehood Centennial   Starting in 1993 and nearly every year thereafter, a Tribe or Nation has hosted Canoe Journey. This year,…
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Fair winds and following seas

Fair winds and following seas

Executive
Late last week I learned that Lowell Porter, our director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), is retiring from Pierce County.  While I appreciate his decision, it’s always hard to say goodbye to a trusted and talented colleague. Those of you who know Lowell know that he has been a dedicated and respected public servant for nearly 40 years. That includes his role as the director of Washington State Patrol and several years here at Pierce County heading up DEM. It’s a tribute to Lowell’s fantastic management of the team that we will be able to move ahead in a fairly seamless way while we conduct a search for our next director. That is especially important when you consider that his team has accountability for ensuring smart, effective preparation…
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Planes, trains and automobiles – and buses and feet, too!

Planes, trains and automobiles – and buses and feet, too!

Executive
I wrote this blog from BWI Airport (Baltimore-Washington International) waiting for my 7:20 p.m. flight back to SeaTac.  The last two days have been non-stop, including traveling on nearly every kind of transportation: bus from the airport to/from the train station; train to/from DC; cab to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers HQ; and on foot walking around the Capitol Campus. It was as hot and miserable as I remember from my days at the Naval Academy. Today’s suit, which I am also flying home in, will need to go directly to the cleaners tomorrow! However, the issues that caused Councilmember and Flood Control Zone District Chair Rick Talbert and me to make the quick trip were critically important and required face-to-face discussions. First, I learned back in April, that…
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Learning from the past

Learning from the past

Executive
I hope you had a fun and relaxing Fourth of July celebration with your family and friends this week! My celebration was colored by two people I met this past week.  In last week’s blog, I highlighted meeting an amazing 98-year-old WWII nurse who served in the South Pacific at the Betsy Ross Open House.  Sunday, I met a 99-year-old Army Air Corps colonel who flew 50 combat missions in a B-24 over Europe. These two amazing Americans reminded me of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made to keep our nation free AND that we have nearly lost the generation that served in World War II. With that as background, I wanted to pass along a book recommendation for your summer reading list.  I am a big fan of…
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Honoring service with hope and healing

Executive
Those who have served us in the military should never be without a roof over their heads. I’ve written in past blog posts about the Betsy Ross Project housed at the Washington Soldiers’ Home in Orting. A refurbished dormitory for wartime nurses has been converted into a 12-room apartment building for women veterans without homes. But, the project provides much more than a badly-needed and safe place to sleep. First, a bit of background. Thanks to Don Anderson, we learned of the proposed project last year.  The project had a strong partnership behind it, but needed a little help closing the funding gap for opening.  We included a request in our first supplemental budget which our Council approved and then followed up with a little more assistance in the 2018…
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In a fight for lives

In a fight for lives

Executive
Earlier this week I read a story in the News Tribune about a teenager who broke into a woman's home in the early hours of Saturday morning.  Her husband was gone on travel, so she was home alone when awakened by her dogs to alert her to a 16-year-old breaking into the house.  The woman grabbed her handgun and shouted a warning down the hallway.  The teen burglar ignored that warning and came down the hall toward her. That’s when she fired a warning shot. I have never had a warning shot fired in my vicinity in a darkened hallway, but it has to be terrifying.  Any remotely rational person would immediately flee to avoid getting shot. But, not this teenage burglar. I was stunned to learn that the first shot…
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A new adventure!

A new adventure!

Executive
Can you imagine traveling seventy miles on the water under your own power – no motor or sail? Me, neither! But, earlier this week about 120 teams of intrepid – and maybe a bit crazy – people took on that challenge for the first time in the South Sound. They paddled, pedaled and rowed in all kinds of vessels from the Thea Foss Waterway to the public dock in Pt. Townsend. Called Seventy48, the race was modeled on the popular annual “R2AK” race from Pt. Townsend to Alaska. That race is 750 miles! Our race is “only” 70 miles but you have to complete it in 48 hours. Back in Tacoma, individual stand-up paddlers competed with 4-person sculls and tandem kayaks.  The contestants were outfitted with lights, GPS and every…
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