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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Without a home

Without a home

Executive
We all know that some people in our nation, state, and communities are struggling with homelessness.  The federally required annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count gives us a snapshot of those people throughout the nation.  In Pierce County, we conduct personal interviews and collect the data on smartphone apps.  While the results may be as much anecdotal as scientific, it is some of the best information we have to assess the effectiveness of our programs – and re-adjust our strategies. In 2017 I went along with a daytime PIT teams – focusing on veterans.  But this year I wanted to see firsthand the challenges faced by our “chronically homeless” – generally those who have been without a home for years and are reluctant to accept services. So, I signed up for the…
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Hola!

Hola!

Executive
Hola!  My name is Maia Espinoza and I’m the new Director of Constituent Services in the Executive’s Office. My primary job is to make sure that constituent matters that come directly to our office are routed to the correct department so that issues may be resolved - but keep reading to learn more! As an ambitious, 20-something, aspiring entrepreneur, I was admittedly a little hesitant to come to work for county government. After a few weeks on the job, however, my impression of the County has been rather surprising. We often think of government as bogged down with process and bureaucracy—people not very concerned with the minute matters of the individual constituents. My experience thus far has proved that preconceived notion to be dead wrong. It is evident to me…
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A powerful lesson

A powerful lesson

Executive
What if I told you students in Puyallup can graduate with an RN degree by age 20?!  It’s true! The Puyallup School District has teamed up with Clover Park Technical College to offer a nursing program that begins in high school and finishes in college with a nursing degree. High school students can choose to take the Nursing Assistant Certification, or NAC, class at Emerald Ridge, Puyallup or Rogers high schools.  The classes are offered at their school and their hands-on practical work is done at the Puyallup Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. From high school, students can transfer to Clover Park and complete the curriculum and training needed to swiftly enter the RN degree program and finish the final two years before they can legally drink alcohol or rent a…
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Boom town

Boom town

Executive
I love it when people outside of Pierce County invest in our community and our residents!  I love it even more when people who are already here decide to re-invest! 40 years ago, far-sighted community leaders set aside 500 acres in Frederickson for a planned industrial center. Fast forward to today and thousands of our residents are benefitting from family-wage jobs as existing industrial and manufacturing companies are expanding and new companies are relocating.  And, more are on the way! The link below will take you to a great overview by the Economic Development Board (EDB) about the amazing transformation at Frederickson that has occurred over four decades.  You will note that Pierce County is acknowledged for the investments we’ve made in the area’s road and transportation infrastructure – signals,…
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That’s a wrap!

That’s a wrap!

Executive
        Soon we will be singing Auld Lang Syne and celebrating the start of a new year.  But, before we do, I want to invite you to take a quick look back at some of the highlights of 2018.   [embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ovl2yo8EYz8[/embedyt]   Together, we accomplished a great deal for the people of Pierce County.  With your help we will do even more in 2019 to make Pierce County a great place to live, work and raise a family. Cheers,     Bruce
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‘Tis the season to think of others

‘Tis the season to think of others

Executive
I love the holiday season because it brings out the best in people – including our County family.  I was proud to learn that more than 45 teams of County employees from 18 different departments are participating in Adopt-A-Family this year.  This amazing program has been a Country tradition since 1994! Nearly 25 years ago, the Community Actions Programs Division of the Human Services Department wanted to do something to get into the holiday spirit. They realized that many of the children they served in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) might not receive gifts from Santa and decided to adopt families in need. As the years went by, employees nominated more families and the tradition changed from supporting only ECEAP children to adopting seniors receiving support through…
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Thanks, a lot!

Thanks, a lot!

Executive
Have you ever seen that TV show, “Dirty Jobs?” The host, Mike Rowe, takes on different difficult jobs (Season 6 Episode 24 “Fish Squeezer” & Episode 30 “Medical Waste”) sharing the gross details with the audience. It’s easy to blanche at the unvarnished reality of some dirty jobs – including a few that our colleagues do for our residents. Think about the Roads crew who will be out salting and plowing our 3,227 miles of roads this coming winter.  They are on the road - at all hours of the day and night - in terrible weather - to make sure you and your neighbors can safely travel. And, they do this while most of us are snug and warm at home.  They never get a “snow day” and we…
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