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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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…
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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…
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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…
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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. …
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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…
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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…
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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…
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Lives at stake

Lives at stake

Executive
I can’t think of a more important job than saving a life.  Sometimes it can be in a very controlled environment when skill and precision are paramount – think of a surgeon in an operating room.  Sometimes it can be in the middle of chaos, when faced with a situation we never envisioned.  The heroic actions of the King County Metro bus driver, Eric Stark, who got his passengers to safety after being shot in Lake City is an example.  And sometimes, it may not involve blood or physical trauma, but mental and emotional wounds.  Those are the kind of lifesavers I saw this week. I had the honor of participating in the Sheriff Department’s Annual Awards Recognition Ceremony this week.  I am always humbled by the experience – hearing…
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#ThePierceCountyWay

#ThePierceCountyWay

Executive
During this year’s State of the County Address I had the honor of telling our community about the great work you’ve been doing on behalf of our residents as well as some tremendous community collaborations where we play a variety of roles. I also shared a new concept with them: The Pierce County Way.  I’ve started using it to describe our approach to how we get things done together.  The Tacoma News Tribune used a video excerpt about The Pierce County Way in their story. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the entire address, you can view it here: [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--lKtvPkEkY[/embedyt] During my remarks, I mentioned the new Coffee Oasis for youth experiencing homelessness. The new shelter/coffee shop/job training site was modelled after a Coffee Oasis that has…
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A unique partnership

A unique partnership

Executive
I talk about the power of partnerships frequently. That’s because I believe in partnerships strongly and see them in action around the County on a daily basis. In all cases, people from different organizations with different strengths, abilities, and perspectives come together around a common goal.  They know they can accomplish more, and more effectively, as partners than as separate individuals or organizations. Personally, I had the privilege of partnering with one of the most amazing dogs to ever walk on this earth.  Scout, a pointing Labrador Retriever, was my hunting partner for nearly 13 years.  I have incredible memories of the days we spent in the field, were we teamed up to hunt upland birds.  Watching her work in the field was one of the greatest joys of my…
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Lights….camera….action!

Lights….camera….action!

Executive
The character Mike Baxter on the show “Last Man Standing” is a big fan of using vlogs (video blogs) to reach the customers of Outdoor Man.  Vlogs are an effective and different way to engage people.   For many, watching a short video is much easier than reading a blog! So, I’m going to augment my weekly blogs with a monthly vlog called Inside Pierce County.  The primary goal is to give our residents a peek into our world, but I think many of you will like to view it as well. The series kicks off with a look inside a place you typically can’t access – the property room! Take a look and let me know what you think.  I’m up for suggestions on other cool Pierce County places to…
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The power of differences

The power of differences

Executive
I have been fortunate to have had many different “careers.” Serving in the Navy in a variety of locations; as a quality leader and operations executive for a manufacturing company; on the Puyallup School Board; in both the Washington State House and Senate (and they are shockingly different cultures); and now in Pierce County.  Each of these jobs has given me the opportunity to work in different organizations with different missions and cultures, with wide a variety of people, addressing important challenges.  These experiences have strengthened my own belief in the power of differences. Each of these experiences also taught me two critically important principles. First, strong teams are made up of a diverse set up people with different skills, backgrounds and talents. Second, to best serve our community, we…
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A world of difference

A world of difference

Executive
By now you know that I really like and appreciate history – and the people who have confronted significant challenges and overcame them.  So, have you heard about the amazing life of Dr. Nettie Asberry? I must admit I had not until we shared her story on Twitter as part of Black History Month. She was born at the end of the Civil War to a father who was a plantation owner and a mother who was a slave.  Think for a second about the social upheaval at that time in our country’s history and the challenges she faced personally.  What if I told you she was not only one of the few women of color to enroll in college, but went on to earn a doctorate in music? In…
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Frozen

Frozen

Executive
In the movie, Frozen, ice queen Elsa sings “the snow never bothered me, anyway!”  Well, it may not bother Elsa, but it sure made life miserable for our residents. Thankfully for them, we had an amazing group of County employees – and some equally amazing volunteers - who came together to help us thaw out and (mostly) return to normal. (While I am always concerned that once I start calling out some people that I will forget others that should be recognized but, in this case, I will take that chance and ask for your forbearance for anyone I overlooked.) Of course, the main heroes of our #Snowpocalypse2019 are our Roads crew, under the skillful leadership and coordination of Bruce Wagner and the Road Operations Center (ROC). Our snowplow drivers…
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