Word on the Street

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

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Category: Pacific Lutheran University


Spanaway’s Logan Seelye exceeds $20,000 fundraising goal, continues effort to collect money for scholarship fund at Spanaway Lake High School

Logan Seelye has met one goal and is a step closer to reaching another one.

On Friday night, the 26-year-old Spanaway resident exceeded his online fundraising goal of $20,000 to get a WalkAide, a medical device that will help him walk easier without assistance and hopefully help him learn to walk again. He started the fundraiser two months ago for the experimental device, which isn’t covered on his insurance.

Seelye suffered a neck and spinal injury in July 2003 at a summer football camp at Central Washington University when he collided with another player during a scrimmage.

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County Council approves tax exemption for Parkland project

The Pierce County Council today unanimously approved a 12-year property tax exemption for a residential development that will change the face of Parkland.

Construction on a $20 million project to build 104 apartments, plus office and retail space, a block away from Pacific Lutheran University is expected to start in January and finish 12 months later, said developer John Korsmo.

The four-story project, called Garfield North, has been controversial not only because of the tax break that will help drive it. The development also is displacing seven small businesses. Owners of one business are critical of how they’ve been treated by developers.

Council member Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, said the Garfield North will be the best thing that’s happened to Parkland in a decade, bringing jobs and “a higher quality of life.”

Councilman Stan Flemming, R-University Place, said the project will further revitalize the Garfield area.

State lawmakers this year approved a 12-year property tax exemption on the values of new residential housing on Garfield Street. It’s a tool cities have had for years.

“In order for the project to make sense financially, the tax abatement was a necessity,” said Korsmo, president of Tacoma-based Korsmo Construction.

Garfield North aims to attract PLU professors, staff members and other professionals to live near campus instead of in downtown Tacoma or Seattle.

The tax exemption starting in 2015 applies only to the residential portion of the 127,000 square-foot project.

The exemption would create an estimated annual tax burden of at least $239,000, resulting in higher taxes, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

But developers don’t expect an overall loss in property tax revenue from current levels because the land and retail space would be taxed.

In addition, $15 million in construction costs are expected to generate $1.4 million in sales tax.

The council voted 7-0 today in favor of the tax exemption. In August, it had designated the Garfield neighborhood as a larger target area for the multi-family property tax exemption. The tax break is contingent on 20 percent of the units being rented as affordable housing.

The development is a partnership of PLU, Korsmo Construction and Affinity Investments of Tacoma.

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PLU strengthens ties to Nobel Peace Prize

As international observers prepare for the awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize this Friday in Norway, Pacific Lutheran University is getting into the spirit this week by announcing it has become a full sponsor of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, an annual event that aims to excite and develop a new generation of peace makers.

PLU joins five other private Lutheran universities in the U.S. that founded the forum 24 years ago. All six schools tap into their Norwegian-American heritage to embrace the annual Peace Prize and carry its mission forward.

The Parkland-based university will send students

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Actor Khleo Thomas to talk to youth about the Census, his entertainment career today

Khleo Thomas, a singer, rapper and actor known for his role as Zero in the 2003 movie “HOLES,” will be in the Tacoma area today to talk about his entertainment career and to discuss the importance of participation in the Census.

Khleo Thomas/limitemagazine.com

His visit is sponsored by Pacific Lutheran University and you can get details here.

PLU officials believe young people “gravitate toward actors, rappers, etc.,” so bringing Thomas to town will add oomph to the university’s project to raise awareness of Census, said associate director of admission Melanie Cunningham.

“Thomas has truly made a name for himself in the film and music business,” she added, offering up this clip of his work:

The first two events are open to the public; space is limited at the third. Here’s the schedule:

• 1 to 1:45 p.m.: Meet and greet with Thomas in the University Center 201 at PLU. Light refreshments will be served.

• 2 to 3 p.m.: Q&A with Thomas, Xavier 201 at PLU.

• 5:30 to 7 p.m.: A conversation with youth at the D.A.S.H.Center for the Arts, 1504 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

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