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: Oct. 2012


Mink kills tufted puffins at Point Defiance Zoo; exhibit closed for renovations

A wild mink weaseled his way into the tufted puffins exhibit at Point Defiance Zoo $ Aquarium this week, killing seven of the coastal birds and forcing closure of the exhibit.

Zoo staff discovered the dead birds and immediately closed the exhibit Wednesday. The mink was trapped and killed Thursday.

The surviving 19 puffins and five common murres will soon be sent to Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Ore. They will remain there while zoo staff renovates the exhibit, ensuring that future predators can’t get in.  The work could take months.

“We took action quickly to ensure that our remaining

Read more »


Tacoma School Board delays its bond vote over ballot language

The Tacoma School Board was set to make it official Thursday night.

But last-minute questions over the wording of a ballot measure seeking $500 million for new and remodeled schools stopped the board from voting as planned.

Instead, they’ll come back in a week – at 6 p.m. Thursday Nov. 1 – with revised wording and give it another try.

Board members don’t need to finalize their bond request to voters until December. And voters won’t cast their ballots until a special election is held on Feb. 12. But there’s a sense of urgency, because bond supporters need time to

Read more »


Sheriff asks County Council to spare his department from budget cuts

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor asked county leaders today not to chop vacant positions from his department and sought to explain challenges he faces filling a high number of open jobs.

For more than two hours today, Pastor and Undersheriff Eileen Bisson addressed questions from the Pierce County Council.

Afterward, Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald said the council hopes to restore four to five of 14 vacancies slated to be cut from law enforcement in County Executive Pat McCarthy’s 2013 budget.

“It is our hope,” McDonald said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

But McDonald said she doesn’t expect the council to spare any of the nine positions McCarthy proposes cutting from the Corrections Bureau at the Pierce County Jail. It has six vacancies.

“I want to ask for zero staffing cuts,” Pastor told the council. “I want you to know that we are working to deal with issues of unfilled positions.”

Pastor and Bisson explained their challenges in hiring, from finding qualified candidates to dealing with flux caused by retirements and other departures.

“We’re always looking,” Bisson said. “We’re always being proactive.”

And Pastor said there’s a misconception that law enforcement side of the department has had 14 vacancies since January.

That’s not the case, he said.

“It varies,” Pastor said. “It’s high right now.”

Read more »


Fife Police blog honored

Fife Police Department’s blog has been been singled out as one of the best police blogs of 2012.

VideoSurveillance.com chose it for the honor because it keeps citizens informed about police activity and aims to help reduce crime, a city news release said. The company made the choice after examining the blog’s content, reader interaction, design and tone, the release said.

“The blog has been very well received and is just another tool for us to connect directly to our community,” Police Chief Brad Blackburn said in the new release.

City Manager Dave Zabell added that the honor is “symbolic

Read more »


Two open houses on Point Defiance Bypass this week

Residents are invited to two open houses this week that will provide more details on the recently completed environmental review of the proposed Point Defiance Bypass.

The bypass would reroute Amtrak passenger rails from its current shoreline route between Tacoma and Nisqually and move them to lines that pass through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont. State officials say the proposed route will save up to 10 minutes compared to the existing route, enabling faster and more reliable service. Leaders in affected cities worry about public safety with trains traveling up to 79 miles per hour rumbling through urban

Read more »


Evergreen Tacoma community pays tribute to departed prof

Alumni from The Evergreen State College-Tacoma Campus this afternoon are honoring Dr. Willie Parson, long-time faculty member at The Evergreen State College. Parson died earlier this year.

The memorial runs until 5 p.m. today, Oct. 20. at the college, 1210 Sixth Ave., Tacoma.

Parson retired from Evergreen’s Tacoma Campus in 2005 after more than 30 years on the faculty. He passed away on Jan. 5. He played an important role in the lives of students from both the main Evergreen campus in Olympia and the Tacoma campus, said former student and colleague Laurie Arnold.

She said students and staff speak

Read more »


Scholarship rewards college students for saving

Students at two private Northwest colleges are the first to participate in a new scholarship program that rewards saving for college.

Independent Colleges of Washington launched the Matched College Savings Program this year with 14 students – seven at Pacific Lutheran University and seven at Seattle Pacific University.

The program targets very low income students whose family incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Eligible students receive $5 from the program for every $1 they save to spend on books, tuition and other college expenses.

In the next academic year, the program hopes to expand

Read more »


‘Healthy Youth’ survey asks students about diet, drug use, bullying

Nearly 300,000 Washington youth in more than 1,000 public schools around the state are taking the Healthy Youth Survey this week.

The anonymous survey asks students about alcohol, drug and tobacco use, exercise, diet, bullying , TV and online habits and other behaviors that can impact their health. It’s administered to 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Washington every two years.

“Habits people develop when they’re young often stay with them for a lifetime, so it’s important for us to understand what kids are up to in our state,” Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a

Read more »