Word on the Street

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

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Archives: Aug. 2010

Aug.
17th

Charlotte Valbert has died. Her legacy won’t.

Charlotte Valbert, the woman who wrested Blueberry Park from decades of blackberries, has died.

Courtesy of MetroParks Tacoma

Valbert, 82, led her East Side and South End communities by tireless example and with undaunted humor and confidence. She served on community councils, in the League of Women Voters and the Democratic Party. She and her family gave refuge to people in distress.

She stood and spoke for the people.

But Blueberry Park is her legacy, as a park and as a way of taking responsibility for our quality of life.

When the 40 overgrown acres at East D and 74th Streets were threatened with development, she led the fight to free the former blueberry farm from the brambles. She mustered volunteers, grant money and agencies to open the land as an urban refuge, and a source of free blueberries.

Courtesy of MetroParks Tacoma

With that park saved, she showed neighborhoods how to reclaim their own lost treasures. At the time of her death, she was advising the team reclaiming the once-stately McKinley Park.

We will have Valbert’s obituary in Wednesday’s paper. On Saturday, I will write about her in my column.

Please add your thoughts on this legendary Tacoman in the comments below.
I also am posting e-mailed comments here:

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Aug.
17th

Groundbreaking for Federal Way Triangle project Wednesday

A groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting for a $112 million project to improve the interchange of Interstate 5 and state Route 18 known as “the Triangle” will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Federal Way.

The public event will be in the southeast parking lot of Christian Faith Center, 33645 20th Ave. S. The groundbreaking was previously scheduled for the Wild Waves parking lot in Federal Way, but was moved to accommodate a larger crowd.

Elected officials and state Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond are among those scheduled to take part in the hourlong ceremony.

The project includes two flyover ramps

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Aug.
17th

Lakewood council hears concerns about gate

About a dozen Tillicum residents sought Monday night the city of Lakewood’s help in stopping the proposed new main gate serving Camp Murray.

The residents told the City Council during its public comment period that moving the gate to the intersection of Portland Avenue and Boundary Street would turn Portland from a quiet neighborhood street into a busy and unsafe thoroughfare.

Several speakers said the project would negate the progress being made to turn Tillicum into a more walkable community. About 40 people attended in a show of support.

“The Tillicum dream is alive and well,” said Dwane Henning, a Tillicum resident of five years. “We don’t want it to become a nightmare.”

Ed Dennery, another resident, called the proposal a “$4 million mistake” and characterized as “flawed and indefensible” the assertion by the Washington State Military Department that the traffic increase would not be significant.

Jim Taylor, vice president of the Tillicum Neighborhood Association, said more than 175 signatures were gathered on a petition opposing the project in two days.

State officials have said the location of the current gate at the intersection of Union Avenue and Berkeley Street is untenable and unsafe due to its proximity to a failed and collision-prone intersection and a congested interchange. They contend the location will become more dangerous if the state moves ahead with a proposal to send Amtrak passenger trains travelling up to 79 mph down the rail line that crosses Berkeley and parallels Camp Murray. That proposal is on hold as the state conducts a study assessing the traffic impacts.

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Aug.
13th

Three school districts offer back-to-school freebies

Education reporter Debbie Cafazzo writes:

The Ready to Learn Fair for children in need in the Clover Park, University Place and Steilacoom school districts is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Lochburn Middle School, 5431 Steilacoom Blvd., Lakewood.

The fair is sponsored by Caring for Kids and the City of Lakewood to assist children in those school districts who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.

The event includes used clothing distribution, school supplies, haircuts, immunizations (bring your child’s current immunization record), books, dental and vision screening, and more.

Aug.
13th

Northwest Trek’s oldest resident, a golden eagle, dies

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park said the park’s oldest resident, a 35-year-old male golden eagle, has died.

The eagle died Wednesday afternoon.

The eagle came to Northwest Trek in 1978, three years after the park opened.  He had suffered a permanently disabling wing injury and was unable to fly.

“It is always difficult losing an animal,” said Animal Curator Rich Sartor, “but this is especially hard since the eagle has been here for so long. He was our most senior citizen, and will really be missed.”

Animal care staff were performing

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Aug.
13th

Gig Harbor graduate sets up legal defense fund for much-publicized flight attendant

A 2005 graduate of Gig Harbor High School has set up the “Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund” for a famous JetBlue flight attendant.

Gary Baumgardner, 23, who works as an airline pilot on the East Coast, said Thursday that the fund had surpassed $3,000 since he started the account Tuesday morning. He said all the money raised will go to Slater. After a confrontation with a passenger, Slater is accused of cursing out the passenger on the plane’s public-address system, grabbing some beer

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Aug.
13th

DNR warns of high fire danger

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources  is asking people to be extra careful with fire, tools and other activities when outdoors this weekend:

With very high temperatures, low humidity and breezy conditions, grasses and other fuels will dry out quickly. Under these conditions, one spark can lead to a catastrophic wildfire.

“We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to follow burn restrictions and be careful with fire,” said Joe Shramek, manager of DNR’s Resource Protection Division. “Over the next few days, I’m especially concerned about the potential for wildfires in areas west of the Cascade Mountains because of

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Aug.
13th

South Tacoma history walk starts at 10 am Saturday

Gather at Northwest Motor Scooters at 10 a.m. Saturday (August 14) for what the Tacoma Historical Society is calling a “Free Walk Through History.”

The event (see flier) will feature the author of “South Tacoma” Darlyne Reiter, railroad historian and photograph Jim Fredrickson and architectural historian Gerald Eysaman.

The highlight (for me at least) will be the 11 tour of Oakwood Cemetery and Columbarium with Bill Habermann.

For more information go to tacomahistory.org.