Word on the Street

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

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Archives: Feb. 2012


Panel honing in on Narrows Bridge toll hike of at least $1

Tolls to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge would increase at least $1 under proposals a citizen panel requested Wednesday night for further study.

The proposals would increase Good to Go! electronic and cash tolls between $1 and less than $1.50 and pay-by-mail tolls, which started in December, between $1.50 and $1.75.

State transportation officials will run the numbers and determine if they generate enough money to pay the bills owed on the bridge and build a sufficient savings account.

The citizen advisory committee will study the numbers and make a recommendation to the Washington Transportation Commission, charged with setting tolls,

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Lakewood closes loophole, toughens rules on junk vehicles

Lakewood officials have leaned on a city ordinance to remove hundreds of junk vehicles stowed on private property over the years.

But some savvy owners have taken advantage of a loophole in the ordinance to keep their inoperable vehicles out of the reach of code enforcement officers.

There hasn’t been a lot of these cases, but the City Council took action to close the loophole by adopting an overhauled ordinance Tuesday night. The vote was 5-1, with Councilman Michael Brandstetter voting no. Councilman Jason Whalen was absent.

“It was only a handful, but it was enough to casue a problem

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Fife hires new community development director

The City of Fife’s new community development director starts March 19.

David Osaki, who currently works as deputy director of Lynnwood’s community development department, replaces Carl Durham, who retired late last year.

Osaki will run a department responsible for current and long-range planning for the city of 9,100 people.

He has an undergraduate degree in urban planning from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Rutgers University in New Jersey, according to a city news release. City Manager Dave Zabell said in the release that Osaki was “selected from a strong pool of

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Zoo’s endangered clouded leopard expecting second litter of cubs

One of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium”s female clouded leopards is expecting again.

The zoo announced this morning that Chai Li is pregnant with her second litter of cubs. She is due in March. Zoo staff believe she is carrying at least two cubs.

Unlike her first pregnancy with mating partner Nah Fun, which surprised zoo staff, this one appears to be more planned.

“The successful breeding of these endangered cats helps grow the dwindling zoo-based population and spurs efforts to conserve clouded leopards in the wild,” said Karen Goodrowe Beck, the zoo’s general curator.

Chai Li gave birth to

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County Council approves contract to upgrade radios for 911 system

The Pierce County Council has approved a nearly $19 million contract for an upgraded radio system for sheriff’s deputies and other emergency responders.

The contract with Motorola Solutions Inc. would allow the county to comply with new federal standards for so-called “narrowbanding” taking effect in January 2013.

All but about $874,000 – the portion for the county’s public works department – would be funded by the South Sound 911 measure that Pierce County voters approved in November. Starting in April, it will raise the sales tax by a penny on every $10 purchase to provide money to help build a combined radio network and two new dispatch centers.

The contract faces one more step. A board of elected officials, called the South Sound 911 Policy Board, is expected to approve assigning the contract to the new South Sound 911 funding when it meets March 28.

One goal of the voter-approved measure is to remove gaps in radio coverage between emergency agencies.

The $18.65 million contract would upgrade the VHF radio system used by Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies, corrections deputies and county emergency management workers to a 700-megahertz system. That upgrade would expand the 700-megahertz system already used by Pierce Transit.

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Local author wins NAACP award for biography of Jesse Owens

A Tacoma man has won an NAACP Image Award for a biography of Olympic track star Jesse Owens.

Jeff Burlingame, a part-time News Tribune editor and author of 13 other books, won the award in the Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens category on Friday at a ceremony in Los Angeles.

He competed against four other authors: Kekla Magoon, Jerdine Nolen, Walter Dean Myers and Nikki Grimes.

His nomination for “Jesse Owens: I Always Loved Running” was his second nomination in that category. Last year Burlingame was nominated for his biography of Malcolm X, but lost to former Secretary of State

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Free storm debris disposal will end Feb. 26

Pierce County’s program offering free disposal of debris from last month’s snow and ice storm will end Feb. 26.

More than 15,000 tons of debris has been collected since the program started on Jan. 20. On its busiest day, the Hidden Valley Transfer Station averaged 196 vehicles per hour. Debris can be hauled to three county transfer stations: Hidden Valley, Purdy and Prairie Ridge.

Here’s the news release:




February 17, 2012

Free storm debris disposal program ends Feb. 26

If you have put off cleaning up after the January snow and ice storm, time is running out to take advantage of free storm debris disposal. Pierce County’s program will wrap up on Sunday, Feb 26.

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Puyallup School Board picks three superintendent finalists

A former Tacoma Public Schools administrator is one of three people still in the running to be the next Puyallup School District superintendent.

The Puyallup School Board on Friday narrowed the field after conducting preliminary interviews with seven candidates earlier this week. The finalists are:

  • Lester “Flip” Herndon, Jr., superintendent of the Bremerton School District and a former assistant superintendent for Tacoma Public Schools.
  • Michael Newman, deputy superintendent of business and operations for the Auburn School District.
  • Timothy Yeomans, superintendent of the Meridian School District in Bellingham.

The finalists each will be invited for

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