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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Transitions

Transitions

Executive
Election season is an exciting and intriguing time. With a more than 65% voter turnout, new equipment and improved processes, our Auditor and her team have had a challenging few weeks.  While there are still a couple of undecided races and the results are yet to be certified, the end is in sight. There were significant and important returns that unfolded on the national and state levels, to be sure. But, as the saying goes, all politics is local, so I’d like to call attention to some of our County results. I’m sure Gary Robinson, our Finance director, shares my excitement that the biennial budget charter amendment passed.  In fact, his team is already prepping for the new budget process. The other two charter amendments the County brought forward also…
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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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