City News

MAJOR TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS FOR SR 16

Continued reconstruction of the Nalley Valley viaduct is humming right along. To keep the $115 million safety and mobility project moving forward, major daytime traffic restrictions and overnight closures are needed on eastbound State Route 16 during a dry weekend in January.

“This work is a month out, but we wanted to give motorists an early heads up,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Project Engineer Neal Uhlmeyer. “We have the potential for major impacts in the middle of the day, and the more that people can avoid the area over that weekend, the better.”

On a typical weekend, this stretch of eastbound SR 16 is traveled by more than 100,000 vehicles. WSDOT traffic engineers warn that without a reduction in traffic during the restrictions, eastbound backups could reach the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which is six miles away.

Work of this magnitude is typically scheduled at night to minimize impacts to drivers. However, once crews start on this phase of the project, they must continue until it’s complete, which means working through the entire weekend.

“We have an awful lot of work to do over that weekend. We will excavate and rebuild a section of SR 16, and we have to get the work done before we can reopen the eastbound lanes in this area,” said Uhlmeyer. “We won’t be able to narrow down exact dates until we have a reliable forecast, but we are hoping to get the work done in early January.”

A total of three nights of closures and two days of daytime restrictions will be scheduled for eastbound SR 16. Crews will pave and stripe a segment of highway to move eastbound SR 16 traffic from the current temporary eastbound viaduct onto the new permanent eastbound viaduct.

Once the traffic shift is complete, crews will demolish most of the temporary viaduct. A segment on the west end of the viaduct will remain and will be used in a future project to build a viaduct for high-occupancy-vehicle traffic.

WSDOT encourages drivers to start considering how they may avoid traveling this section of SR 16 during the weekend impacts in January, including adjusting travel schedules, taking alternate routes or perhaps delaying trips.

FIRST NIGHT EXCITEMENT BUILDS

They flip! They jump! They juggle! They ride unicycles! And they're only elementary school kids. The Young Ambassadors of Physical Education is a circus troupe of 30 Tacoma school kids in grades 2-5 who perform on unicycles, jump ropes, juggling equipment and tumbling tricks to inspire other kids (and adults) to get fit in a super-fun way. See it all at 4 p.m. in the Museum of Glass Grand Hall on First Night, Dec. 31 in downtown Tacoma. Admission with a First Night badge – to purchase, visit firstnighttacoma.org. More information: http://www.tacoma.k12.wa.us, or find Young Ambassadors Tacoma on Facebook.

APPLY BY DEC. 27 FOR CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL

Tacoma City Council is looking to fill two positions on the Citizen Review Panel, a seven-member advisory panel to the Council with oversight of Tacoma Police Department policy. The appointments will fill a term expiring Dec. 31, 2014 and another term expiring on Dec. 31, 2016.

Members of the Citizen Review Panel are recommended for Council appointment by the Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee.

The Panel is responsible for:

  • Conducting policy review

  • Reviewing trends in complaint investigation and statistical reports

  • Engaging in community outreach

Qualified applicants will be screened by a criminal background check and each applicant must be a registered voter, have lived in Tacoma for at least two years immediately before applying, not hold any other elected public office, not currently serve as a member of the Tacoma Police Department or be an immediate family member of a department employee. The City is committed to promoting diversity in its committees, boards and commissions. Women, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, persons of color and immigrants are encouraged to apply.

For additional information on the Citizen Review Panel, please visit http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/committees_boards_commissions/citizen_review_panel or contact Reid Bennion in the City Manager’s Office at (253) 591-5590.

Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office by Dec. 2, 2013. To apply, please visit http://www.cityoftacoma.org/cbcapplication or contact Linnea Meredith at (253) 591-5505, City Clerk’s Office, Room 220, Municipal Building, 747 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402.

GRAFFITI REMOVAL HELPS PREVENT MORE

The City of Tacoma has had 471 reports of graffiti between Jan. 1 and now, which is up from last year’s 289 reported incidents.

The City’s code compliance enforcement and the Tacoma Police Department are working with property owners to help reduce the number of incidents through a variety of programs.

“Graffiti can be an issue in any city and Tacoma is no exception,” said Keith Williams, City of Tacoma code enforcement. “One of the problems is that anyone who is tagged with graffiti is a victim, yet the property owner still has to be the one to make sure it is covered up or removed.”

The City has programs, and partners with many community organizations to provide resources to help property owners’ cleanup graffiti, Tacoma Police Department Lt. Corey Darlington said.

Safe Streets, Community Services by Youth and Tacoma Neighborhood Councils all offer assistance to property owners who need help to comply with the City’s anti-graffiti ordinance. The ordinance requires graffiti to be removed within 18 days of notification by the City.

“Graffiti is a crime,” Darlington said. “Citizens are encouraged to report the crime of graffiti, photograph it if possible and cover it up.”

The City encourages property owners to consider following these tips to prevent graffiti on their properties:

  • Move objects vandals can stand on away from walls.

  • Place motion-activated lights around properties to deter graffiti vandals.

  • Create barriers along walls using plants with thorns.

  • Use a protective sealer or coating to protect brick or cement surfaces.

For more information about graffiti removal and prevention resources visit http://www.cityoftacoma.org/graffiti.

‘SWEEPERS’ VICTORIOUS AT BROOMBALL GAMES

Launched this year, the Pac Ave Broomball Games is a tournament organized with the goal of raising awareness of the Franciscan Polar Plaza community ice skating rink at Tollefson Plaza (South 17th Street and Pacific Avenue). On Tuesday night, Dec. 10, “The Sweepers” – comprised of Council Members David Boe, Marty Campbell, Robert Thoms and Joe Lonergan, as well as staff from the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Art Museum – defeated the Franciscan Health Services team in a dramatic overtime win.

“The sport of broomball is a lot like hockey, only players wear boots instead of skates, use a broom instead of a stick, and a ball instead of a puck,” explained at-large council member David Boe, who was selected tournament MVP for his seven goals which included the championship goal. “The Polar Plaza is in its third year now, and it was my hope that we could help promote this great asset by inviting people to come down and watch some good old-fashioned broomball. I am pleased with the success of this tournament and I’m excited for next year to see if we can double the teams and number of games.”

Team members from the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and DaVita also participated in the fierce but friendly competition for the coveted “Pac Ave Cup” trophy.

CHAMBER SUPPORTS SCHOOL LEVIES

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors has endorsed the upcoming school levy ballot issues of three local districts.

Bethel, Franklin Pierce and Tacoma School Districts each have two propositions, (one for operations and one for technology improvements) referred to voters for approval on the Feb. 11, 2014 election. All but one of these levies is a replacement for expiring or canceled levies already adopted by voters.

The one new levy is Bethel School District’s Prop. 2, for technology. Jennifer Bethman, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools, told the Chamber’s Board that Bethel School District has a great deal of catching up to do to provide modern technology equipment and instruction for its students.

"When we vote for the coming school levies, we agree that our children need the educational resources necessary to form their abilities to responsibly think, solve and create within the constant flux of our living and working world,” said Jeff Brown, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Chair.

Brian Haynes, the Chamber’s Immediate-Past Chair and Co-Chair for YES on Props. 1 and 2, Tacoma Citizens for Schools, said, “Props. 1 and 2 are about providing all kids with the quality and up-to-date education they deserve. They need the ever-more challenging technology skills increasingly demanded in jobs.”

The Chamber’s Board noted that the State Legislature has begun to assume its paramount duty to amply fund the education of all K-12 students. The State Supreme Court has set a compliance date of 2018. All these proposed levies will expire in 2018.

VICCI MARTINEZ AMONG TEDx SPEAKERS

For the third year, TEDxTacoma will bring together community leaders and visionaries to inspire deep discussion and new connections in the South Sound community. TEDxTacoma 2014 will take place on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. at Tacoma’s Theatre on the Square, and will feature “Connectivity” as the topic of discussion.

TEDxTacoma 2014 speakers represent a wide variety of backgrounds and specialties:

Technology: Speakers include Milenko Matanovic, who runs the non-profit Pomegranate Center, which helps communities become better connected. Their goal is to help people become better collaborators – using their different insights and experience to create a shared vision.

Entertainment: Speakers include Vicci Martinez, local singer-songwriter who was a finalist on NBC's “The Voice,” and Bob Rivers, host of morning radio program “The Bob Rivers Show” on 97.5 KJR-FM.

Design: Speakers include Adam Argyle, a web developer who will address emerging and modern ways the internet and web development are helping the world connect and be more productive.

To stay up-to-date on TEDxTacoma speaker announcements and other information, follow TEDxTacoma on Twitter @TEDx_Tacoma, and on Facebook at TEDxTacoma. Tickets for TEDxTacoma 2014 are on sale now.

JBLM FAMILIES RECEIVE HOLIDAY MEALS

Operation Homefront Pacific Northwest, the local field office of the national non-profit organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors, gave 300 meals to military families on Dec. 13 as part of its annual Holiday Meals for Military program in the Joint Base Lewis McChord community. Operation Homefront’s local volunteers teamed up with other field offices across the nation to distribute a total of 7,500 meals to lower- and mid-grade active-duty service members from all branches of service.

The Holiday Meals for Military program began Thanksgiving 2009 as a result of a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they could not afford, so a Beam Inc. employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries, inspiring program planning to begin. Since that time, the program has grown from initially providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing 7,500 this holiday season. As founding sponsor, Beam continues to be a key partner of the program.

The meal kits, which include all the grocery items necessary for a full holiday meal – including a $30 Walmart gift card for the purchase of perishable items – are being distributed to military families, E-1 thru E-6, at 22 locations nationwide in December 2012, including Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Knox, Ky.; Great Lakes Naval Base, Ill.; and Joint Base Andrews, Md.

“The expenses of the holiday season can be especially difficult for military families,” said Kari McClellan, Executive Director of Operation Homefront Pacific Northwest. “Often these families are split up during the holiday season from deployments, or must travel long distances to be together. Making their holiday easier by providing this meal is one way we show that we are thankful for the sacrifices that they have made for our country.”

Distributing these meals is an important undertaking that will be carried out in military communities and at local Operation Homefront Field Offices across the nation. For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the cause, please log on to http://www.HolidayMealsForMilitary.org

Walmart is also making grants to several Operation Homefront field offices to provide additional meals to military families, bringing the total number of families served this holiday season to 17,000, part of the company’s overall commitment of $1.5 million to Operation Homefront’s 2013 holiday programs.

In addition to Walmart and Beam, major partners for the program include Chinet, Thirty-One Gifts, CDW, Miller Lite, Dole Packaged Foods, Southern Wine & Spirits, and The Visual Pak Companies.

UPS HELPS STUDENTS ATTEND THEIR DREAM COLLEGE

High-achieving students who put University of Puget Sound on their “wish lists” of great colleges to attend – but who may not have the resources or opportunity to seek admission at a leading four-year institution directly from high school – now have a new way to pursue their goal.

Puget Sound has joined other top colleges and universities as a member of the American Honors Network, a first-of-its-kind, national education initiative. Announced today, the new network of 27 public and private four-year colleges and universities will help community college honors students gain access to new transfer opportunities.

The American Honors program is produced by Quad Learning, based in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with leading community colleges. American Honors’ aim is to provide high school graduates with a new route to enroll in top-tier higher education institutions. Admitted students will be offered personalized advising, excellent teaching, small classes, online instruction, the support of student learning communities and advice on financial aid and career development—all as part of a rigorous, two-year academic program at participating community colleges.

Students who graduate from this special program will earn associate degrees with honors and will be assisted in applying to the colleges of their choice. Puget Sound and other participating network schools – who recognize the academic rigor of the new program – have agreed to work with American Honors’ staff to facilitate the transfer of the students’ academic credits, potentially allowing them to earn bachelor’s degrees with another two years of study.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the American Honors Network to create a direct pipeline for talented community college students to join the vibrant academic community of University of Puget Sound without missing a beat,” said Jenny Rickard, Puget Sound vice president for enrollment.

“Around the country today, many successful community college students are missing out on opportunities to attend colleges that match their academic abilities,” added David Finegold, chief academic officer for American Honors. “We’re excited to launch our transfer network, which will connect outstanding students with many top universities throughout the country.”

American Honors launched earlier this year following pilot programs at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana and the Community Colleges of Spokane in Washington. The first cohort of graduates showed encouraging results, with 83 percent of those who transferred to college making it into their “dream” schools.

The new program is highly selective, accepting mostly students who rank in the top third of their high school classes. Preference is often given to applicants who have overcome major challenges through hard work and strength of character. American Honors advisors work one-on-one with each student to define his or her academic goals, explore college and career aspirations, and plan a pathway to success.

The 27 universities and colleges who have joined the American Honors Network include institutions such as Amherst College, Brandeis University, DePauw University, The George Washington University, Occidental College, Purdue University, Swarthmore College, and University of California, Los Angeles.

PORT SETS GOAL TO CUT DIESEL EMISSIONS

The ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Metro Vancouver, Canada, aim to cut diesel emissions by 75 percent per ton of cargo moved by 2015 and 80 percent by 2020, from a 2005 baseline. Factoring in projected cargo growth, this will result in overall reductions of 70 percent by 2015 and 75 percent by 2020.

The ports also set a goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 10 percent by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020 per ton of cargo moved.

The goals are part of the 2013 Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy Update, which was adopted this week. This update to the 2007 Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy is a ground-breaking five-year-old partnership among the three ports and five regulatory agencies, along with cooperative relationships with customers, tenants, shipping lines and environmental organizations. The 2013 update commits these groups to work together through 2020.

The 2013 update was based on the results of the 2011 Puget Sound Maritime Air Emissions Inventory. The inventory found maritime-related air pollution has decreased since 2005, with much of the progress due to significant, voluntary investments of the maritime industry and government agencies in cleaner technology, cleaner fuels and more efficient systems of operation.

To develop and implement the 2007 strategy and this 2013 strategy update, the three ports partnered with other government agencies in the Puget Sound: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington State Department of Ecology and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Ports are a critical part of the Pacific Northwest and North American economy, facilitating the movement of people and goods and supporting living-wage jobs. With their tenants and customers, the three ports use diesel-powered ships, trains, trucks and other equipment to move goods and passengers through the ports to other destinations.

The strategy creates an integrated approach to improve air quality and reduce port-related emissions in the shared airshed to safeguard public health and the environment while supporting economic growth. 

COUNTY RESIDENTS CAN SAVE ENERGY

SustainableWorks’s new Save Energy Today can help you save energy, lower your utility bills, increase your home’s comfort and value, and reduce your carbon footprint. The one-day energy saving program combines an assessment of your home’s energy usage with immediate improvements to your home’s energy efficiency such as duct sealing, air sealing, and installation of energy saving light bulbs. The Save Energy Today program is a $150 cost to the homeowner ($1,200 value).

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign-up for Save Energy Today online by visiting http://www.sustainableworks.com and c,licking “Sign-up,” or by calling (253) 330-8110. Once you have signed-up, we will contact you to schedule your Save Energy Today assessment, which takes about four to six hours.

2. A SustainableWorks Home Energy Specialist will come to your home to assess how your home is using energy. This includes looking at your attic, crawlspace and wall insulation (using an Infrared Device), measuring air leaks, looking at your appliances and heating system, looking at your windows, doors, and other structural components, doing a health and safety check (for gas leaks, mold issues, and other safety issues) and talking with you about do-it-yourself energy saving tips.

3. During the assessment, a Weatherization technician will make immediate energy saving improvements. Depending on your home’s needs, this may include: air sealing leakages, sealing your ducts and pipes, programming thermostats, replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, wrapping your hot water heater, providing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators and other improvements.

4. The Home Energy Specialist will provide you with a rating for your home and recommendations on energy efficiency improvements.

5. If you decide you would like to do more improvements after the Save Energy Today program, SustainableWorks can work with you to identify next steps, provide you with up to $3500 in incentives to lower the cost of your project, manage the improvements from start-to-finish and connect you to low-interest financing.

The cost of the Save Energy Today program is $150 for Pierce County residents. There are no income requirements to participate in the program. It is available to both homeowners and renters of single-family homes. The program is made possible through funding by the Washington State Legislature. Sign-up for Save Energy Today and get a more cozy home this winter.

To learn more about SustainableWorks, visit http://www.sustainableworks.com or visit us on Facebook.

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