Farewell & Welcome

Farewell & Welcome

Executive
The Sheriff tweeted out his congratulations for the 22 members of the Department who retired in 2018.  Shockingly, the combined service to the people of Pierce County came to a total of 523 years!   If you added that to the retirees from the rest of the County family, I know it would top 1,500 years of service.  Mind-blowing! Sometimes it is hard to think we can survive such a loss of experience.  Fortunately, we have others who are stepping up to start their service with the County as well! On Wednesday, the Council officially welcomed new members Dave Morrell and Marty Campbell.  Thursday afternoon, our new Prosecutor, Mary Robnett, took the oath of office in a packed Court Room 100. [caption id="attachment_1529" align="alignnone" width="640"] District 1 Councilmember Dave Morell…
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Always serving Pierce County residents

Executive
I took advantage of a lighter work calendar on Christmas Eve and Dec. 26, to get around the County to thank employees and wish them Happy Holidays.  I found departments celebrating the holidays with festive decorations or people taking deserved time off to be with family.  I also noted some folks out of the area for sun and Bowl Games – Cougar fans traveling to San Antonio and Huskies to Southern California. However, three stops stood out to me in particular. On Christmas Eve, Commissioner Meagan Foley had a full docket of arraignments.  Unfortunately, crime does not take a holiday – and our deputies are out serving 24/7 365 days/year.  Beyond Commissioner Foley’s  court staff, there were deputy prosecutors and assigned counsel also working – and their administrative support back in…
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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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Remembering a President – and much more

Remembering a President – and much more

Executive
Wednesday was a national day of mourning for our former President George H. W. Bush, who passed away Nov. 30, 2018 at the age of 94. The 41st president was the last World War II veteran to serve as Commander in Chief.  In 1942, then 18-year-old George enlisted, becoming one of the youngest pilots in the Navy, flying a total of 58 combat missions.   His decades of service were only just beginning after the war. After graduating from Yale, he went on to become a U.S. representative, a diplomat, our chief spy, vice president, before occupying the Oval Office.  A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and generous humanitarian, his favorite position was always that of a family man.   President and eldest son, George W. Bush said…
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Planning for the Future and Remembering the Past

Planning for the Future and Remembering the Past

Executive
New Year’s Day will be upon us before we know it, and after a lot of important work by our departments and the Council, we are ready to both close out our 2018 financial year and start on 2019.  I am very thankful for all the folks who work very hard to make sure we have a financial plan that guides our work.  Gary Robinson, Jim Dickman, Julie Demuth and the whole Finance team have been working this process since early summer. The Council balanced many competing priorities and the result – a strong plan for 2019 and beyond Also, thanks to the voters of Pierce County who approved the charter amendment for a biennial budget, 2019 will be our last one-year budget! Believe it or not, we are already…
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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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A grateful nation extends across the Pacific

A grateful nation extends across the Pacific

Executive
I have always felt a powerful personal connection to the people of the Philippines, stemming from my time in the Navy. Tens of thousands of Filipinos have become US citizens through service in our Navy, and Filipino-Americans have a strong history of naval service as well.  One such leader was my Naval Academy roommate, Rear Admiral Victorino Mercado.  Vic retired yesterday, after three years as a key leader in the Pacific. During my service, I was stationed in Philippines -seeing this amazing country, people and culture first-hand. So, it will come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to honor World War II Filipino veterans with Congressional Gold Medals at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center last weekend. [caption id="attachment_1405" align="aligncenter" width="546"] Medals for so many heroes![/caption]   [caption…
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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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Bravo

Bravo

Executive
One of my favorite days of the year happened this week. No, it wasn’t my birthday or anniversary. It was the day we recognize our Standing Ovation Award winners! There were many deserving nominations received this year and I’m confident the selection committee had a difficult task in selecting the winners. I’m delighted to introduce the accomplishments of our outstanding colleagues to you: (more…)
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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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