City briefs


On Feb. 15, business partners officially confirmed a lease that will bring a grocery store to downtown Tacoma this summer.
Pacific Plaza, a former parking garage, will be transformed into an environmentally friendly, full service, 16,000-square-foot IGA brand grocery store, partners announced.

Whidbey Island based The Myers Group partnered with owners of the plaza to bring the store to Tacoma. It owns and operates four other grocery stores in Washington, including the Kress IGA near Pike Place Market in Seattle.


Tacoma Public Schools and Tacoma 360 seek concerned residents who are committed to ensuring all Tacoma’s youth succeed academically to serve on an advisory committee called Community Awareness for Student Achievement. This project is a book study focusing on the impact of poverty and race on student learning. Ensuring that every Tacoma student reaches high academic standards is the goal and challenge of many who realize that schools cannot accomplish this alone. Over a period of two months, reading groups will share their thinking on how they can incorporate what they learn into the Tacoma way of educating children both in and out of school. All meetings will be held at Lincoln High School, located at 701 S. 37th St. Meeting dates are March 7, March 23 and April 6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. A light dinner will be served at each meeting.
Registration forms can be obtained at or by contacting the School, Family and Community Partnership Office at (253) 571-1087. Registration deadline is Feb. 18.


The Urban Forest Project is seeking tree-themed banner designs that will be “planted” as part of a forest of thoughtful images in downtown Tacoma. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 21. As many as 90 banners are expected to be chosen and hung during April and May as part of Tacoma’s Arbor Day celebration. The banners will create a forest of tree-themed art growing from Fireman’s Park to the Brewery District. The winning banners/artists will be showcased with artist bios on the project website. Artist names will also be included at the base of each banner they design.

Professional, student and amateur artists, designers and architects from Tacoma and the greater Puget Sound region are invited to submit designs. Individuals may submit more than one design. For more information on the project visit, or call Ramie Pierce, the city’s urban forester, at (253) 591-2048.


Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce is seeking a manager for the Downtown On the Go! program. This individual manages and continually develops Downtown: On the Go! as it shifts from a program to an organization working toward a vibrant and integrated downtown Tacoma through a focus on transportation options and related land use policies.

Downtown: On the Go! is a partnership between the City of Tacoma, the chamber, Pierce Transit and approximately 18 downtown businesses and organizations. Together these groups work to encourage, educate about, and advocate for transportation options and land use policies that promote a focus on the movement of people rather than cars.

The position is housed at the chamber but works closely with all three agencies and board members, serving as a pivotal liaison between them. In conjunction with Pierce Transit’s employer services staff and the city’s commute trip reduction efforts, this position provides outreach, education, and support for downtown businesses, commuters and residents interested in changing their commute habits. Applicants selected for interviews will be evaluated on their public speaking skills.

Interested individuals should submit a letter of interest and resume by 5 p.m. on Feb. 23. They can be mailed to Chelsea Levy, Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber, P.O. Box 1933, Tacoma, WA 98401.


Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound will hold its annual Youth of the Year ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. For more information on how to attend, send an e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Metro Parks will hold a meeting on outboard motor basics on Feb. 24. It will provide an opportunity to get a handle on the care and maintenance, troubleshooting and routine winterization of small- to medium-sized outboard motors. Attendees must be 16 or older. It will take place from 7-9 p.m. at Tacoma Yacht Club, located at 5401 N. Waterfront Dr. Cost to attend is $15 and pre-registration is required, which can be done at


Tacoma Public Schools will hold a public hearing on Feb. 24 on surplus district properties. They are the Willard site at 3201 S. ‘D’ St., the Cirque and Alameda site in University place and Camp Joshua Taylor in Longbranch. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Central Administration Building. For more information call Pete Wall at (253) 571-3350.


Tacoma Fire Department responded to a fire at a popular Mexican restaurant on Feb. 13. The blaze began at about 10:40 p.m. at Tacos Guaymas, located at 2630 S. 38th St. The first arriving companies found smoke coming from the roof. Crews attacked the fire with hand lines, ventilated the heavy smoke layer and searched the structure for occupants. No one was injured. The cause of the fire was oily rags that spontaneously combusted. More than $50,000 in damage was done to the building.


A woman has pleaded guilty to a count of controlled substances homicide in the death of her 12-year-old daughter. Jane Elizabeth Griffith is a recovering heroin addict. She admitted to providing Jessica Griffith with methadone after the girl complained of knee pain last fall. The girl died of an overdose in a home in Northeast Tacoma. Griffith was sentenced to five years in prison.


A 20-year-old Tacoma man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2009 shooting death of a teenager. Xavier M. Magana faces a sentence of 20 years, 10 months to 27 years, nine months in prison. He will be sentenced March 4.
Magana shot Alrick Hendricks, 18, in July 2009 at a graduation party. Police heard from witnesses that Magana had challenged Hendricks to a fight at the party.

According to court records, Magana pulled a gun and shot Hendricks as he attempted to run away. He then walked to where Hendricks fell and fired more shots into him.


A woman who was run over by a mentally ill felon is suing the psychiatrist who treated the offender. Kathie Larson filed the personal injury lawsuit against Dr. Julie Farrington in Pierce County Superior Court. Larson suffered brain damage from the incident in June 2008. She claims the doctor did not adequately treat Aiyisha Gillespie and failed to notify state corrections officials when the woman’s mental health went into decline.
Gillespie has a history of mental illness. She was on conditional release from prison when she ran over Larson while driving a stolen car in downtown. Gillespie pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and other charges last fall. She was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.

Larson sued the state Department of Corrections for negligence in supervising Gillespie. The agency settled the case out of court for $4.25 million.
Farrington began treating Gillespie upon her release from prison, where she had served time for assault. She was required to seek mental health counseling as one of the conditions of her release. The lawsuit states that Farrington prescribed several mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic drugs but the patient apparently did not take them.


Metro Parks Commission voted on Feb. 14 to provide a pay increase to Executive Director Jack Wilson. He will receive a 6 percent increase to his salary, which currently is $158,000. He will also receive an increase of $300 to his monthly car allowance and an additional one day a month of vacation pay. He can accumulate a maximum of 100 vacation days.

Commissioner Larry Dahl noted that under Wilson’s leadership Metro Parks has a record of clean audits, has completed 60 of the projects funded in a 2005 bond package and last year voters approved a levy lid lift. “We feel an adjustment is necessary,” Dahl said, nothing Wilson has not had a salary increase since 2007. “We want him to know he is wanted and want him to be satisfied.”


Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has been appointed vice chair of the Transportation Policy Board of Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC). The board guides regional transportation planning within King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties and recommends projects to receive about $160 million in federal funds each year. McCarthy was recently appointed to the board by Pierce County Council.
“We are delighted that Executive McCarthy has stepped up to this leadership post within the region,” PSRC Executive Director Bob Drewel said. “Her leadership will better ensure that the priorities of people throughout Pierce County are embraced in regional plans and funding.”
“Pierce County needs a strong voice at the regional transportation table,” McCarthy said. “I am looking forward to putting our priorities in the best position to compete for funding and working within the region to make sure our overall transportation system supports jobs now and the economy of the future."
Over the next several months the transportation board expects to develop priority projects for the next steps in improving the regional transportation system and lay the groundwork for the selection of projects for an estimated $400 million in federal transportation funds in 2012.


International City/County Management Association recently presented its 2010 Award for Career Development to City Manager Eric Anderson. He was recognized for the two-year internship programs he developed in Des Moines, Iowa and Tacoma. Called “management fellows,” these individuals have completed master’s degrees in public administration and seek to develop skills necessary to pursue careers working in local government.


Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound and Pierce County Crime Stoppers are launching an effort to find those responsible for crimes against seniors. Crime Stoppers solicits anonymous tips through a secure tip line and website for information relating to possible abuse/theft/neglect against the elderly. If the tip is criminal in nature, it will be forwarded to law enforcement. If the tip is not criminal, the tip is sent to the appropriate social/advocacy agency for assistance.

“Crime Stoppers working with law enforcement, citizens and the media will be a valuable tool to combat Crime Against Seniors,” said Ed Hauge, president of Pierce County Crime Stoppers.


Applications are being accepted to fill a vacancy on the Pierce County Board of Equalization. The seven-member board hears appeals from taxpayers who disagree with the assessed value of their properties as determined by the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office, such as property valuations and exemption changes and denials.

The board session begins on July 15 each year. The board is on a three-member rotation cycle; each member works three weeks in a row with two weeks off. Upon completing work before it, the board adjourns until fall when petition hearings begin. Members receive a per diem for attending board meetings. New members are required to attend a two-day Department of Revenue training session. Elected officials or employees of elected officials are ineligible for board service. People who have worked in the Assessor-Treasurer’s Office within the past two years also are ineligible.

Board members are appointed by the county executive subject to Pierce County Council confirmation. Applications are due by March 11 and can be requested in person at 2401 S. 35th St. (room 176), by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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