NO MORE NARROWS BRIDGE TOLLS, SAYS ANGEL
State Representative Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) has introduced a measure that would maintain the current price of tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge until financing for the structure is completely re-paid. The bill would allow tolls to be maintained, but not increased, until such time as all loans and debt are paid on the bridge.
“I have been looking for ways to keep toll rates from rising and satisfy the state’s responsibility to repay the debt on the Narrows Bridge. The tolls were deferred early in the project, which later resulted in higher increases. And now, the state Transportation Commission received a recommendation from the bridge’s Citizen Advisory Committee that it should raise tolls again by 25 cents in July. Under the current financing structure, tolls would likely go up every single year, and we do not know where the high end of this is going to be,” said Angel, a member of the House Transportation Committee. “Our local commuters cannot afford future annual toll increases. My goal with this legislation would be to maintain the tolls we have and avoid yearly increases.”
Tolls are currently $4 for electronic collection, $5 at the tollbooths and $6 for pay-by-mail.
The bill would create a Tacoma Narrows toll bridge account in the motor vehicle fund of the state treasury to receive deposits of toll charges, investment interest, proceeds from the sale of surplus real property acquired for building the second bridge and any other revenues associated with the bridge. Money from the account could only be used to repay the financing of the bridge, as well as costs involved with the direct financing, operation, maintenance, management and necessary repairs of the structure.
The measure would cap the yearly amount of debt service repayment from the toll bridge account to $60 million. Any additional debt service costs would be covered by a loan from the state’s motor vehicle excise account. Angel said the state would continue tolling on the bridge until the loan is paid in full, but toll charges would not increase.
“This is like extending a home mortgage. If you have a 15-year mortgage and you do not want that payment to go up because of different escrow costs, you could extend that mortgage out to 20 or 25 years, but keep the payment the same,” noted Angel, a former Realtor and banker. “Under this plan, the tolls remain unchanged, but continue until the costs of the second bridge are paid off.”
The measure was submitted late Feb. 20, but had not yet been assigned a bill number. The 26th District lawmaker expects the legislation would likely be referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration.
EVERY OTHER WEEK TRASH COLLECTION HAS BEGUN
Tacoma residents who get their trash collected on Mondays are the first to shift from weekly to every-other-week collection starting this month. The change comes March 11 for those 5,700 households in the North End. Others will see the change through November.
Refuse customers will get bigger bins, or two bins, to accommodate the change. Once they arrive, customers can get smaller bins if they find they are not filling the cans. Smaller cans will mean lower bills since the change also comes with a rate hike of a few dollars a month.
“Our customers can expect the same level of service as before,” said Mike Slevin, Environmental Services interim director. “They will be able to dispose of the same amount of garbage as usual.”
During the every-other-week garbage collection pilot program conducted in 2011, Solid Waste Management demonstrated that this approach will result in less garbage being disposed, increased recycling, reduced vehicle emissions and a smaller carbon footprint, and greater efficiency in collection.
BOARD PRAISES SUPERINTENDENT SANTORNO
Superintendent Carla Santorno won praise for her work across-the-board in a just-completed, mid-year evaluation by the Tacoma School Board.
“Carla’s leadership and the laser-like focus she brings to the academic achievement of all students are significant and commendable,” said Board President Debbie Winskill. “We are very pleased. She has the full confidence of the board, and we are looking forward to extending her contract after the school year.”
The board based its evaluation on a series of 20 performance indicators agreed to last summer in academic achievement, leadership, strategic plan performance, board support, finance, human resources, operations and partnerships – major elements of the strategic plan the board members developed for Tacoma Public Schools.
For example, under partnerships, the board set a performance indicator for Santorno to reach out and engage the greater Tacoma community.
“The board has heard great feedback from the community,” board members noted in their written comments. “Superintendent Santorno listens actively to community concerns, building authentic relationships. Further she is receptive to feedback and responds to criticism with intentional discussions and plans for improvement.
“Her work with the broader community and specifically labor groups has had a tremendous impact on inspiring and leading a cultural transformation that helps break down silos and ensure resources are directed and willingly leveraged towards the best outcomes for the students we serve.”
Santorno, throughout her written notes about progress made on each performance indicator, credited many district team members by name for their work on the key initiatives for which she was graded.
“Obviously,” Santorno said, “the upbeat and positive comments from the board members reflect the many contributions being made on the front lines where important work is being done with our students and in our central office transformation toward a culture that better supports the work in our schools.”
In the evaluation, the board mentioned the expansion of pre-schools, the latest data showing a two-year improvement in the graduation rate, the expansion of a robust data analysis system to track individual student progress and the growing culture of innovation as key contributors to the academic success of students.
“Overall the board is pleased with the direction of academic achievement, though all agree much work needs to be done to ensure every student is successful,” the board noted. “However, Superintendent Santorno has ensured the direction of work efforts aligned with the strategic plan towards improving outcomes.”
The mid-year evaluation does not include any changes to the terms of Santorno’s contract, which runs through the end of this school year.
CULTURA EVENT CENTER ANNOUNCES GRAND OPENING
“When culture meets passion” is the best way to describe Tacoma’s up-and-coming venue Cultura Event Center. It will be home to hundreds of local artists, dancers and musicians. In addition, it will also host private and corporate events. The goal of the owner, Marvin Gaviria, and his partners Globo Azul Events, is to further enhance Tacoma’s beauty and help infuse culture and arts to the city as well as to its people.
“There is already so much art and talent in the city of Tacoma,” exclaims Gaviria. “We want Cultura Event Center to be the place where you can fully express it.”
The 11,000-square-foot building, site of the defunct Vanity nightclub, will offer a full state-of-the-art audio and lighting system, a full commercial kitchen available for rent to caterers and food trucks, two bars, open floor plan, exceptional service and will be centrally located at 5602 S. Washington St.
Although there are several event spaces available for rent in the area, Cultura Event Center will rival the best.
“Planning and booking an event for a private or corporate occasion can be very stressful,” continued Gaviria. “We will make your event as unforgettable and stress free as possible.” Everything can be done in-house from the planning all the way to the execution.
Cultura Event Center invites the public to the ribbon cutting ceremony with Deputy Mayor Marty Campbell and other officials on March 1 at 3 p.m.
GREATER TACOMA PEACE PRIZE SEEKS NOMINATIONS
The Greater Tacoma Peace Prize organizers need your help to find the most deserving recipient of a meaningful award. The GTPP exists to spotlight, support and honor individuals and organizations in Pierce County who work toward peace, but first the committee needs to know about them. Nominations for the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate for 2013 are being accepted until March 31. Anyone can make a nomination.
Are you aware of someone genuinely committed to creating a more peaceful world? Are they doing hands-on work with a focus on peace that reflects the community’s diversity and has a real impact? The nominee’s peacemaking work must be in addition to, or outside of, their paid employment, and that work must make a significant contribution to local, regional, national, or world peace and harmony. If you know of a good candidate – of any race, religion, nationality or ideology – consider nominating them for the 2013 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. Find the nomination form, list of previous winners, and more information at: http://www.tacomapeaceprize.org/howyoucanparticipate.html.
Each year, the recipient is awarded a trip for two to Oslo, Norway, to participate in the events surrounding the Nobel Peace Prize. They also receive recognition on the GTPP perpetual plaque, a specially designed medallion, a certificate of commendation and a unique piece of glass artwork created especially for the GTPP by Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists.
The Nobel Peace Prize and Norway’s efforts toward world peace inspired the creation of the GTPP, founded in 2005 to coincide with, and honor, the 100th anniversary of Norway’s peaceful separation from Sweden. The GTPP committee represents the Norwegian-American community of the greater Tacoma area and includes two members each from the Sons of Norway, Daughters of Norway and Pacific Lutheran University.
PROGRAM AIMS TO END YOUTH HOMELESSNESS
Housing 4 Success (H4S) is part of a county-wide effort to end youth and young adult homelessness by providing individuals with the tools they need to become self-sufficient.
H4S is recruiting for host homes in the community. Host home pairs a young person experiencing homelessness with a caring individual/family that has a spare bedroom and wants to make a difference. Host home providers receive support services from a housing specialist along with financial assistance. “People have two basic needs: food and shelter,” said Dana Coggon, a Tacoma resident who opened her spare room to become a host home. In December, Coggon was paired with a homeless youth. “If I can give our spare room and a hand up to help someone be successful, it is the least I can do.”
The youth and young adults accepted into the H4S program are screened, given assessments to determine individual needs and assigned to a dedicated case manager to come up with a holistic plan to help them achieve their goals.
Coggon, her partner and youth living-mate get together once a week for dinner to check-in. “This age is a sweet spot for me and my family. We get the opportunity to make a difference in his life, but he keeps his own schedule, is responsible and highly motivated.” Each participant pursues educational and/or employment opportunities, a series of life skills classes and meets regularly with their case manager.
Participants graduate once they have achieved their goals and can successfully live on their own without subsidy. “Living together, sharing and cross-pollinating ideas are some of the benefits we have experienced already. We had this great conversation the other day. He is mentoring us too. It is wonderful to see him not only survive but to thrive. He has going to be very successful.”
Interested in turning where you live into a host home? Contact Carley Cysensky at (253) 272-1532 or e-mail email@example.com for more information or to schedule an interview.
TACOMA PUBLIC SCHOOLS SEEKS INNOVATIVE IDEAS
Do you have an idea for an innovative new program or school that would improve academic achievement in Tacoma Public Schools? The district has launched an online application site for anyone – from the community or from district staff – to submit their ideas for consideration.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction designated Tacoma Public Schools as Washington’s first-ever and still only district-wide innovative school zone based on the number of innovative schools that provide students with their choice of unique learning experiences designed to inspire them to succeed academically. Of the first 33 schools across Washington identified as innovative, Tacoma has 12 of them.
In October, Tacoma School Board adopted the state’s first school district innovation policy aimed at encouraging and supporting innovative learning options for students. The policy commits Tacoma Public Schools to “creative and bold innovations that enhance school performance and student achievement as an essential part of meeting the benchmarks of its strategic plan. We encourage well-founded, data-driven and prudent innovations that offer choices for different learning styles so that all children will achieve academic excellence.”
The policy also states the district will provide a way for anyone with innovative ideas to submit them for consideration. The addition of this application will make it possible for any community or staff member to suggest changes to current innovative programs or propose methods, instruction or other strategies not normally associated with “traditional schools.”
Once submitted, the new Innovation Proposal and Review Process provides a consistent, streamlined process through which new ideas and innovations may be critically reviewed and, when deemed appropriate, incorporated into the district’s operations.
Not all innovations may be appropriate for Tacoma Public Schools, and the process ensures that all new practices have been critically reviewed to gauge their value toward achieving district strategic goals prior to implementation.
“We are smart enough to admit that effective ideas can come from many different sources and people,” said Superintendent Carla Santorno. “With this new outreach effort, we expect to receive far more good ideas than we could ever hope to adopt. We have limitations in financial resources and staff resources that will restrict our ability to launch a host of new initiatives. But our process will at least allow us to explore and evaluate what is possible for the ultimate goal of improving the academic achievement of students.”
Applicants will be asked to fill out an online form that outlines their innovative idea at http://www.tacomaschools.org/innovative-idea. Staff members will submit applications via the district Intranet.
The applications will be received and initially evaluated by Toni Pace, assistant superintendent for K-12 support, and the district will notify the person applying within five working days of the receipt of the proposal. Applicants who wish to be involved in the review process for submissions given further consideration will be contacted by a district sponsor.
Questions about the process may be directed to Pace at (253) 571-1036. For more information about innovative schools, please visit http://www.tacomaschools.org/innovation.
NEW SUPPORT GROUP FOR BETTER HEALTH
Pacific Lutheran University Nursing Students and Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities (TACID) are teaming up to improve the health of Tacoma. More specifically the population who are at risk or have diabetes.
PLU nursing students Kiersten and Adam, are working with TACID to create a sustainable support group for people with diabetes who are low income. “We are promoting health and wellness of those who are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or want to be healthier; by providing simple tools and information for a tastier healthier life,” said Adam.
Starting March 7, Take Control and Eat will be meeting every Thursday afternoon from 1-2 p.m. at TACID. The class will be talking about:
Signs and symptoms of, and the management of, diabetes.
Eating healthy on a small budget.
Choosing healthy foods and drinks.
Cooking quick, diabetic-friendly meals with food from food banks and using food stamps.
Group members will be encouraged to talk about their own experiences with food, diabetes and budgets. Anyone is welcome to attend Take Control and Eat. This support group will have a coffee house social style and anyone who participates will be entered to win a raffle. People part of the TACID community have found support groups very beneficial.
Neil Vosburgh has been involved with TACID for several years; he started attending support groups and is now giving back to the community with his expertise and time by teaching Braille students. Vosburgh discovered that TACID has a whole variety of groups. He is very encouraging about TACID groups. “I like that there are support groups and opportunities for people to get together, share about different experiences and give advice.”
Vosburgh would like to tell anyone considering attending a support group at TACID. He said everyone is always to attend, and when you do come, it is kind of a discovery. A lot of people are newly acquainted with blindness or diabetes. Support groups are opportunities to find out that there are things out there that allow them to be more educated and involved.” Vosburgh hopes to be involved with Taking Control and Eat.
CHAIR AFFAIR ANNOUNCES KEY SPONSORSHIP
TravelChair, an international provider of portable chairs and tables, has become an official sponsor for the fourth annual Chair Affair event, supporting the Northwest Furniture Bank. TravelChair will be sponsoring several auction packages for Chair Affair 2013 on April 12, 6 p.m., at the Northwest Furniture Bank, 117 Puyallup Ave.
Chair Affair is a unique event featuring amazing one-of-a-kind chairs and other furniture pieces created by area artists for purchase during the silent auction. To top off the evening there is a spirited live auction in which 10 select packages are sold to the highest bidder. Last year’s event was attended by 400 people.
“TravelChair is sponsoring the ‘Gone Fishing’ and ‘The Great Outdoors’ packages,” said Bonnie Jensen, chairperson responsible for coordinating the live auction packages. “One package is a fishing theme, the other a camping theme. TravelChair will be the perfect inspiration pieces for these packages.”
The focus on sponsored packages by TravelChair includes two Big Kahuna Chairs http://travelchair.com/products/chairs/deluxe-chairs. Supersized from the ground up, it sports a weight load capacity of 800 pounds. The Big Kahuna is not only wider, higher and longer, but is reinforced throughout with oversized tubing and larger grommets. The Paddler Chair is super comfy with ergonomic S-bend back rest and adjustable lumbar for optimal comfort and support. No more sitting on a piece of wood while fishing with this padded Paddler.
TravelChair will also be providing a one-of-a-kind chair featuring Olympic Peninsula artist, Todd Fischer for the silent auction. See Fischer’s artwork and read about his diverse, creative artistic background at http://toddfischer.net/index-2.html.
What fascinates people about the simple business model of the Northwest Furniture Bank is how well it works. They rely on gently-used furniture donations from private individuals, and major Northwest retailers like Selden’s Home Furnishings, Recliner Land and Ikea to name a few. Items are then placed in the NWFB inventory to give to families in need, or selected for resale in the recently opened Hope Furnishings public retail store, upstairs in the same location as the Furniture Bank. Proceeds generated from the retail store may then be used to purchase high demand items such as twin mattresses and small dressers for families served by NWFB.
Northwest Furniture Bank works with more than 90 agencies to provide their clients furniture to help them on their path to self-sufficiency. Qualified clients will find great furniture, mattresses and all other basic household items for a modest processing fee. Payment of the processing fee and the ability to “shop” for their furniture promotes the idea that they are being given a “hand up” instead of a “hand out.” Both Northwest Furniture Bank and Hope Furnishings rely heavily on the power of dedicated volunteers that just want to be part of doing a good thing for their community. NWFB currently serves only Pierce County in Washington State, but may look to expand the model to other areas of need.
PROSECUTOR FINDS OFFICER’S USE OF DEADLY FORCE LAWFUL
Independent and concurrent investigations by the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office and the Sumner Police Department regarding the shooting death of 47-year-old Patrick Don Dunford have been completed. Dunford died from a gunshot wound inflicted by Milton Police Department officer Zack Kenyon, a member of the Pierce County Metro SWAT Team. The incident occurred inside the city limits of Sumner.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist concluded the death was justifiable homicide under state law. “Mr. Dunford left several suicide notes inside his residence, he said he had a .357 handgun and a hostage, and he exited the house with what appeared to be a gun, which he pointed it at the officers,” said Lindquist. “This is a sad case of suicide-by-cop.”
On Oct. 24, 2012, Dunford called 911 from his residence in Sumner and reported that he was suicidal. He also stated that he had a hostage inside his residence. When officers contacted Dunford by telephone, he told them that he had a handgun and was suicidal.
Sumner police officers and the Pierce County Metro SWAT Team responded to Dunford’s residence. Dunford exited his residence and pointed what appeared to be an orange painted handgun at SWAT team members who were positioning themselves around Dunford’s house. Dunford ignored officers’ commands to stop and drop the weapon and instead continued to walk towards them. Dunford pointed the weapon at Officer Kenyon. Officer Kenyon, in fear for his personal safety as well as other officers in the area, fired his duty rifle one time, striking Dunford in the head. Dunford immediately dropped to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
After the shooting, police confirmed that there was no hostage inside Dunford’s residence. They also determined Dunford was armed with a loaded flare gun at the time of the incident. The investigators found what appeared to be several suicide notes written by Dunford as well as a handgun inside the residence.
According to the Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark, Dunford died from the injuries caused by the gunshot wound to his head inflicted by Kenyon. It was also determined that Dunford’s blood alcohol was .29 at the time of his death, more than three times the legal limit to drive.
LIFE CENTER WELCOMES CHINESE CHRISTIAN LEADER
On March 5, from 7-8 p.m., Pastor Dean Curry from Life Center will host Brother Yun, a Christian instrumental in the development of the House Church Movement in China in the 1980s and 1990s. Hear Brother Yun’s fascinating story of faith, imprisonment, torture and miraculous escape from a Chinese prison in 1997.
The interview with Brother Yun will take place in The Stay Café at Life Center at 1717 S. Union Ave. The event is open to the public and will be live-streamed from http://www.LifeCenterTacoma.com.
Questions can be submitted live online during the event, or tweeted using #LiveAtLC.
For more information, contact Melanie Grassi at (253) 677-5202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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