Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

NOTICE: Word on the Street has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Word on the Street.
Visit the new section.

Archives: April 2010


Vote to decide which historic site gets money

Cast your vote for one of 25 historic sites in the Puget Sound area – including six in Pierce County – that are competing for a share of $1 million in grant money from the Partners in Preservation program.

To raise awareness, most of the sites will have free open houses Saturday and Sunday. Many sites will offer tours, refreshments and entertainment. Read more »


Ding-dong: It could be the Census taker at your door

If you didn’t mail back your 2010 U.S. Census form, you might soon hear the ringing of your doorbell or a knocking at your door.

An army of Census footsoldiers will be deployed beginning Saturday to count the so-far-uncounted in the decennial Census.

About 11,000 Census takers will work in Washington as part of a nationwide force 635,000.

About 72 percent of the 144 million U.S. households returned their Census forms by mail or in person. The return rate is 74 percent in Washington.

Here’s the return rate for several South Sound counties:

• King: 74 percent

• Kitsap:

Read more »


Driving while holding cell phone may cost you

The twisted metal and shattered glass of Heather Lerch’s black 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt served as a grim example Friday to raise awareness of a new cell phone law that will take effect June 10.

State Patrol Chief John Batiste, Licensing Director Liz Luce and state Sen. Tracey Eide praised the law at the news conference outside State Patrol and DOL offices in Parkland. The wreckage of Lerch’s car sat nearby on a trailer.

Lerch, 19, died instantly in a one-car crash Feb. 23 south of Olympia. It was a stretch of road she had traveled hundreds of times. Yet as she drove home from work that night, she was also sending text messages.

“Hey you and I need to hang sometime ;-)” she wrote. “Alright cool :-)”

That was her last text message, sent at 10:27 p.m. The first caller to report her crash dialed 911 at 10:30 p.m. Read more »


Federal Way expands downpayment help for first-time buyers

The City of Federal Way has expanded its program offering no-interest downpayment loans for first-time home buyers to purchase foreclosed properties.

The city has increased the income limits and expanded eligibility to cover foreclosures anywhere in the city.

The program offers loans of up to $50,000 at no interest, no payment and loan deferral of 15 years. The maximum loan amount is $50,000.

Families of three or more making up to $97,000 annually qualify, as do one-to-two persons households making up to $90,000.

Repayment is due at the time of sale, transfer or refinance within the first 15 years. The loan is forgiven at the end of 15 years. A loan payoff would be pro-rated without interest prior to 15 years, said Lynnette Hynden, the city’s human services manager.

Read more »


Tacoma Bike Swap on May 8 at University of Puget Sound

The second annual Tacoma Bike Swap will take place Saturday, May 8 at the University of Puget Sound.The event will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the parking lot of the university, 1301 N. Union Ave. There are no admission or vendor fees. Below are some of the highlights:

  • Affordable helmets for sale with free helmet fittings courtesy of the Tacoma Wheelmen
  • Classes on bike basics hosted by REI at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Registration of bikes into a national database ($5 fee waived)
  • A cone course where riders can test their skills with advice from professionals,

Read more »


March for Babies at Point Defiance Park on Saturday

The March for Babies will be held at Point Defiance Park’s Owen Beach Saturday morning.

Proceeds from the five-mile March of Dimes event will fund research and programs to improve pre-natal care and help premature or sick infants, according to a news release. Details below:

WHEN: Saturday, May 1
Point Defiance Park
Owen Beach, 5605 N. Owen Beach Road
7:30 a.m. Registration
8:30 a.m. March for Babies Begins
NOTE: Shuttle buses will be available at Point Defiance to take walkers down to the beach.

HOW: To join in, visit

Read more »


Lakewood, Pierce County to discuss Fort Steilacoom Park

View Fort Steilacoom Park in a larger map

Lakewood and cash-strapped Pierce County are scheduled to begin negotiations over how Fort Steilacoom Park should be managed the next five years.

The agreement that the city and county signed in 2006 – which required each to pay $240,000 annually to cover the 340-acre park’s maintenance and operations — expires this year.
Read more »


Sumner cafe owners could lose their home

Ben and Trish Rubke with their children, from left: Asher, 4; Atticus, 10 months; Adeline, 2; Aaralyn, 5.

UPDATE: Ben Rubke just told me that the auction date on his famly’s home has been  postponed from April 30 (Friday) to June 4. More details to come.

Beyond the Bridge Cafe in Sumner is a gathering place for artists and lovers of good coffee alike.

Local painters display their work on the walls. Musicians perform weekly. Baristas make latte art — leaves and other designs with foam — in every cup, every time.

But the couple that owns the shop, Ben and Trish Rubke, are struggling to keep their family home in Puyallup, which is up for auction Friday June 4. If they lose their home, they may have to sell the cafe, Ben Rubke said this week.

The Rubkes, who have four young children, said Bank of America told them a year ago that they were being enrolled in the federal mortgage modification program, which would allow them to stave off foreclosure. Apparently that never was the case, they recently found out, and now they’re on the verge of losing their home.

Hundreds of people e-mailed The News Tribune over the weekend to tell us about Trish and Ben’s plight. I’m looking into it and have contacted Bank of America to get their side of the story; look for more later this week.

Click “More” to see the e-mail that’s been circulating for the past few days. There is a fund for the Rubke Family set up at all branches of Columbia Bank for anyone who is interested in helping.
Read more »