Word on the Street

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

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Archives: Jan. 2011


Fircrest, city manager part ways

The Fircrest City Council has fired its city manager.

The council voted unanimously to accept a termination, release and settlement agreement with Bill Brandon at a Jan. 14 meeting, Acting City Manager Rick Rosenbladt confirmed Monday.

Brandon had held the job running day-to-day government operations in the Tacoma suburb since April 2006.

Rosenbladt said the council made the decision shortly after coming out of an executive, or closed-door, session. Afterward, the council appointed Rosenbladt as acting city manager with an unanimous vote, he said.

Brandon couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Rosenbladt has worked as city clerk for a decade

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Decision nears on Narrows bridge photo toll

The Washington State Transportation Commission is scheduled to set, contingent on legislative action, the photo toll for crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge next week.

Three people testified about the proposed $5.50 toll during a public input meeting at Gig Harbor City Hall on Wednesday night.

The commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed toll at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the city hall, located at 3510 Grandview St. An open house will begin an hour before the meeting so people can learn more about the proposal. The commission is scheduled to take action after the hearing.

Photo tolling would give people the option of crossing the bridge without stopping at a toll booth or equipping a transponder in their vehicle. Tolls for paying at a toll booth or using the Good To Go! transponder would not change with the introduction of photo tolling.

With photo tolling, people would have three payment options: pay the bill that arrives in the mail; open a Good to Go account without using a transponder and have the toll subtracted from the account; or pay the toll shortly before or after crossing the bridge without receiving a bill in the mail.

WSDOT projects 6 percent of people would use pay by mail, and 1.4 percent would set up a Good To Go! Account without a transponder.

Randy Boss, a longtime opponent of bridge tolls, and Jim Pasin, a member of the bridge’s citizen advisory committee who said he was speaking as a private citizen, raised concerns that WSDOT’s estimated costs to process the photo tolls and adjudicate appeals are too low. They said the miscalculation would result in a loss of revenue to the bridge and a higher toll down the road.

Meadow Wright, a legislative aid for Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, also read his letter into the record.

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Click for cash for Habitat

Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is in a tight race for the $25,000 top prize in American Home Shield’s “Challenge for Change” website click-a-thon. Supporters can visit the site and vote once every day.

The 15 Habitat entries each propose a project that will refresh a run-down community. This one started with the City of Lakewood’s 2009 announcement that it would use its federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds and team up with Habitat in Tillicum.

The plan is to build 12 new homes and repair and refurbish as many older ones as possible. Volunteers from Habitat and

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Puyallup council approves term limits

The Puyallup City Council may be guaranteed some new faces in the near future.

In a 6-1 vote tonight, the council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would impose 12-year term limits on council members.

The new rule must be voted on once more before it takes effect. If it’s finalized, there would be a fairly immediate impact: Mayor Kathy Turner and council members Don Malloy and Rick Hansen wouldn’t be able to run for re-election when their current terms expire.

Deputy Mayor Tami Brouillet cast the sole dissenting vote, saying it should be up to voters who serves

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Want a garden? Tacoma has six more to share

At its Community Garden Kickoff, the City of Tacoma will offer six more plots as possible gardens.

The session will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Wed., Jan. 19, at Evergreen Tacoma, 1210 Sixth Ave.

If neighbors choose, they’ll be able to turn those six bits of unused city property into lively gathering places and sources of pride, not to mention kale, tomatoes, strawberries and pumpkins.

Community Garden Program Coordinator Kristen McIvor will update progress on the gardens that already are producing. The neighbors who have transformed them from scrubby, gravelly spots will be on hand with reassurances that

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Korum elected Western Washington Fair board president

A Puyallup businessman has been elected president of the Western Washington Fair Association’s board of directors.

Jerry Korum, owner of Korum Automotive Group in Puyallup, will serve in the post for one year, said Karen LaFlamme, fair spokeswoman. His duties will include overseeing the 17-day Puyallup Fair in September, which typically draws more than 1.1 million people during its run.

Korum was chosen to lead the 12-member board last week, a fair news release said.

Jerry Larson was picked to be vice president, Gary Gonter was elected secretary and Michael Nelson will serve as treasurer, the fair said.


Puyallup’s Meeker Mansion gets restoration grant

The Ezra Meeker Historical Society in Puyallup is getting $2,000 from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to rehabilitate dining room windows at the historic Meeker Mansion.

The 17-room mansion on Spring Street belonged to the Meeker family. Ezra Meeker, a farmer and historian, was Puyallup’s first mayor.

The mansion, which is roughly 120 years old, now is a museum.

The $500 to $2,000 grants for historic preservation are from the Trust’s Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund, a Trust news release said.

Several other groups also were awarded grants, including the Gig Harbor BoatShop, which will use $1,000

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Survey: Opinion split on University Place’s direction

University Place residents were generally pleased with the safety of their neighborhoods, response from police and maintenance of city parks and streets, according to a recent community survey the City Council will discuss tonight.

However, there was a notable drop in favorable responses when respondents were asked whether they agreed with the city’s direction. The survey also pointed out the city needs to increase communication and involvement with residents, and that while parks and recreation programs were highly rated – fewer residents rated them as high compared to the prior survey in 2007.

More than 600 residents returned completed surveys that were inside the city’s monthly newsletter that was mailed in October; 556 of the responses were usable.

The council is scheduled to discuss the survey results at 8:40 p.m. during a study session. It will hold a regular meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. and then will recess into the study session.

The meeting will be held in the meeting room at University Place City Hall, 3715 Bridgeport Way West.

The survey results can be found here.

Asked whether the city was on the right track, public opinion was split, with 40.7 percent of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing, and 39.4 percent strongly disagreeing and disagreeing. Twenty percent of respondents said they didn’t know.

The consultant said the favorable resident response declined by about 25 percent since the last survey.

Mayor Debbie Klosowski said the drop could be the result of several factors. The city grew at a “very rapid pace” over the years and long-time residents may have expectations of services and programs that the city can’t continue at the same level as in the past due to budget cuts. New residents may be comparing the services and programs University Place offers to their former communities.

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