Monday, December 31, 2007


I was pleased to read in the last Ruston Connection (RC) newsletter that my fellow Toastmaster who lives in Ruston gave a speech responding to my earlier presentation to our speech club about the Ruston Fire Department. His conclusion is right on, "You can understand the issue of fire and EMS for the town of Ruston is going to require some soul searching and compromise to meet these growing needs." This soul searching and in-depth research is exactly what the fire committee did.

I regret that the speech outlined by RC did not include pertinent facts that were presented to this anonymous author, facts that are well known to RC editors. There is no reason to hide information from our citizens. We are capable of making the right decision for our community based on all the facts, even if we don't always do what RC tells us to do.

Karen's speech, given a month or so prior to the speech repeated by RC:
Halloween night he lay bleeding on the street in Ruston. Every second, every beat of his weakening heart brought him closer to death. Two and a half minutes after being discovered, life saving treatment was being administered. He didn’t have another three minutes to wait for help.

There is no clearer nor poignant picture of why we need to keep our Ruston Fire Department than what I’ve just described. This young man is alive today because our fire department was capable, trained and close enough to save his life. I want to outline the debate on this issue today and let you know why I feel so passionately about the value of having our own volunteer fire department. Our mayor has appointed an independent committee to study this issue, and I will use their findings and recommendations to frame this presentation.

First, it is important to note that the committee was balanced with members who were both supportive and antagonistic about our volunteer department or who were unbiased. Members included a longtime councilmember, a newer councilmember adamant that we contract with Tacoma for service, Ruston’s assistant fire chief, an educator for Bates fire training, a longtime resident who began the process with concerns, a resident who is a small business owner and a resident who is local trauma doctor.

The committee reached strong consensus after months of in-depth study with exception of the pro-Tacoma councilmember on these findings. Although the committee explored several departments, I will compare Tacoma and Ruston since that is the current point of discussion.

Response times in 2006 for emergency medical calls:
Ruston, 3.7 minutes
Tacoma, 5.47 minutes

Response times for fire calls:
Ruston, 3.48 minutes
Tacoma, 5.99 minutes

Annual cost per resident:
Ruston, $38
Tacoma, $250

Quality of care:
All of Ruston’s volunteers are EMT trained (Emergency Medical Technician) with the exception of 4 that are in training. The department maintains 100% compliance with the state On-going Training and Evaluation Program. One of Pierce County’s top trainers for both volunteer and paid programs trains our department. She noted in a presentation that Ruston’s skill level is one of the best. Ruston has both a paramedic and educator as members of its fire department. The department has a defibrillator and can administer EPI pins for allergic shock.

Next level of response after the “first responders”:
An ambulance is dispatched the same in both jurisdictions at the same time as the fire department. But the paramedics on board will have vital information about the emergency sooner from Ruston personnel since they are on scene sooner. This helps both the ambulance crew and the hospital to prepare. Paramedics arrive with ambulance and transport to hospital regardless which fire department responds to the scene first.

Ruston Fire Department provides service during emergencies, such as with the 2007 wind storm when they worked to clear roads during the storm. They provide service to neighbors; like helping to move invalids or blood pressure checks on request. They give us emotional support during crisis. Their service strengthens the fabric of our community when neighbors are willing to sacrifice like this for each other.

After much study, the committee determined that Ruston’s current department structure adequate for 2 years. They recommend increasing membership from 15 to 20 (already implemented). They suggested that the council require sprinklers on new construction. In a few years, they recommend starting a residency program with on-site paid personnel located in the town-owned house next to Town Hall to supplement the volunteer force. They also suggest that the community pass a levy to pay for new equipment and future needs as has been done in most other jurisdictions.

The Tacoma proposal will cost more for longer response times to our emergencies. We have no control over future cost increases (the contract includes an automatic escalator based on Tacoma budget numbers). We lose our local fire station and will have to compete with rest of Tacoma for service. The Tacoma proposal does not provide fire code enforcement or emergency management.

When it’s your child who’s hurt, when it’s your spouse with the medical emergency, when it’s your house on fire – you need fast, reliable, competent emergency response. This independent committee has proven that we have just that in Ruston ~ let’s keep it that way. Attend the council meetings and contact our elected officials. Let them know you want unbiased consideration of the committee’s findings and implementation of their recommendations.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ruston 2008 Budget

Following is my personal summary and opinion on the council's 2008 budget. It is not intended to cover all sides of each issue any more than the Ruston Connection review does. I encourage everyone to get involved, attend the meetings and get the full flavor of these important discussions and decisions. Thanks for caring ~ Karen

The mayor proposed a 2008 budget in early November that was provided to the public for review. After the new council was seated on December 3rd and the majority clearly assured for the Ruston Connection (RC) friends, their council members moved on several major budget revisions, none of which was provided to the public prior to adoption.

The mayor had proposed a 2-step wage increase for town employees with another step increase in July. Everding proposed a 1-step increase with an “equality study” to review what other municipalities are paying their employees as a basis for any potential wage increase at mid-year. Hedrick proposed a 3-step increase immediately because town employees had worked so many years without any raise.

Everding also drastically reduced overtime across the board, giving only 8 hours per year for the clerk-treasurer (who must attend evening council meetings weekly as well as do all the town’s budget, building permit and general administration work).

The mayor proposed upgrading the utility clerk to full time for 2008. He noted that the duties required by staff had increased greatly in recent years, but there had not been a corresponding increase in personnel. But Everding removed this increase in staff as well. He suggested looking at additional sources of taxation as a way to increase revenues.

The mayor has been pushing since he took office for professional reviews to advise how to manage growth and economic development potential. Everding felt those reviews could be done by citizen volunteers.

An on-going budget issue in 2007 has been legal and planning costs. Rather than pay what the mayor had proposed, Huson wanted a full-time, in-house attorney hired, as well as a full-time planner. Those ideas were not immediately approved. Instead, Huson presented a hand-written proposal to greatly reduce the amount of time the town planner would be budgeted.

The police department had provided a review of pay scales of other local police departments to justify their wage increase as proposed. Some testified at the meeting that the pay rate for our police should be based on small towns from Eastern Washington rather than our local area.

All of Everding’s and Huson’s changes were adopted, despite being presented at the last minute and on several pieces of paper. Our town clerk-treasurer is used to juggling such theatrics. I’m sure she will be able to pull all this together into an understandable, albeit biased budget.

I am concerned that the council will twist their “equality study” when setting wages for our town employees. They appear to be looking at “inequitable” communities in Eastern Washington in order to justify what is likely a predetermined wage scale. This group has clear vendettas against many employees; essentially anyone who worked for a previous administration and/or has ever questioned any one of their members.

It is very frustating to have Council Member Everding talk of raising taxes to increase revenues when he refused to accept $24,000 in 2007 purely out of spite. The council choose to fight the Comencement condo's use of their sales center in the Ruston School building rather than accepting their offer to pay rent on the space through the end of the year. It was clear that they would occupy the space anyway while the legal questions were sorted out, but it was too much to ask the council to forgo their hatred of the project and use some common sense. Instead of accepting thousands of additional dollars, they spent almost as much to fight them with no difference in the outcome - its the end of December and the sales center is still in the same space.

Interestingly enough, I found myself agreeing on some issues. We are spending too much for planning and legal advice. But much of those costs are due to the council’s actions. And I think much of the growth and economic development review can and should be done by a broad-based citizens group. But this council disbanded the economic development committee when they took office two years ago, loosing precious time on this important issue.

Finding anyone willing to enter this increasingly bitter political fracas to work on such a committee is nearly impossible now. The last committee appointed impartially studied the fire department. Their recommendations have been ignored and their work labeled as “politicized” because it do not match the RC pre-determined mantra.

The greatest danger this council (and our community) faces is the silencing of any contrary or outside voices. The RC pursuit of and bitter attack on anyone who disagrees with them is taking its toll, it is more and more challenging to find new faces willing to speak openly. In the long run, even council members Everding, Stebner, Huson, Albertson and their RC friends loose by the silence they create.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Deal for Ruston?

Just want to throw out a teaser to our Tacoma readers. You'll note on page 15 of the fire committee report that Tacoma Fire Department has proposed providing fire and emergency medical services for much less per person than Tacoma residents are paying for the same services ($250 per Tacoma resident, $79.44 per Ruston resident paid to Tacoma for their services). Does that sound equitable to our Tacoma neighbors? More to come...

New Voice on the Town Council

New council member Jim Hedrick started his political career in Ruston with a story. Although it’s old news now, what he said is worth putting on the record.

As you recall, Dan Albertson was appointed to fill the unexpected 2-year vacancy created when Bob Pudlo resigned on December 3, 2007. Jim began his story explaining how he was told that day that council member Mary Joyce would be resigning, as would Del Brewer. Bradley Huson and he were asked to take those seats a month early after winning the recent election. Although he was not comfortable with it, he reluctantly agreed. The rest of Jim’s first speech as council member is best told in his own words:

“I am very disappointed I won’t get to serve with Mr. Pudlo for the next 2 years. What we have now is a power grab going on, folks. It pains me to say this. I’ve been a council member all of 10 minutes, but I’m gonna tell you straight up this is a power grab.

Mr. Albertson is going to take the seat right next to me in 15 seconds. Have I been rendered useless? Has the town been rendered useless? We have acted appropriately up until now (appointing the winners of the election to fill the council seats they won)… We haven’t taken any other nominations. No one knew Mr. Pudlo was going to resign tonight. The public hasn’t had a chance to look at candidates or take testimony….

What I’m doing right now probably isn’t the politically smart thing to do because I’ve got to serve with these 4 gentlemen up here. But I’ve really got to tell you, I’ve got to flat out say it, this is a power grab we’re seeing here tonight folks and I hope you stay with me – because in 10 minutes time (in office) this has made my stomach turn and now I’ve got to spend 4 more years up here because you’ve elected me. God bless you for staying with me. Apparently it’s going to be a long 4 years.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best Wishes

As the hammers pound outside my window, progress is evident. Change is constant no matter how hard we try to stop it. Living things are either growing or dying. We can't freeze time anymore than we stop a child from growing. I guess this time of New Year's reflection brings that point home.

The Commencement is growing and along with it, Ruston's tax base. Even though a condo building isn't a living thing, our community is. We have to grow, change, move or else nature takes over and decay and decline begin. I am glad to see growth now after so many years of decay. But it has come at a huge cost.

We have made progress listening to each other since this angry battle in 2005. The 2007 election results verify we are more willing to vote our own convictions. I hope we can continue to heal in 2008 and turn the tide of bitterness that is consuming us ~ before the fire department and other vital parts of Ruston's 'soul' are stripped away.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Tonight, with all the tongue in cheek talk of Ruston's doom, I am stuck with the memories of some of our town's strong personalities. Tall, lanky, outspoken Owen Gallagher with his 'Tiny Tim' by his side, equally as outspoken Mary Joyce who ran for mayor long before it was acceptable for a woman to lead this small town, Leo Wingard and his ever-present tape recorder at council meetings.

We have new strong personalities now - ones who have not been seeped in our history, who look at our past with amusement and maybe a sense of shame and relief that we are not the dirty, roughnecked, blue-collar town we once were. They are the ones that will lead us to a new golden era of clean dirt, upper class utopia that this village with such nice water views deserve. But without any appreciation for who we once were, it seems the only way they can achieve this utopia is to destroy any reminder of the past. Maybe that's why disbanding the fire department is so important.

It's the memory of Owen and Tim, of Leo and even of Mary that makes me want to fight to preserve this town. The latest battle is the fire department, next they want to change the very structure of the town's government and strip the mayor of any authority. The contributors to this blog understand what we have to loose - if only in hard dollars and safety. We understand the deeper sense of identity, of home and heritage we had hoped to pass on to our grandchildren. That memory of Tiny Tim, along with a desire for my granddaughter to know the same Ruston, are the reason I will somehow find the energy to keep fighting. And the reason I want to share more of our heritage with all the new faces in town.

What are your memories? What part of our hertitage is important to pass on?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Call to Action

This comment on the previous post deserves consideration. Please contact the author if you are interested in voicing your concern to Tacoma Fire Department.

The Ruston Town Council has turned a deaf ear to its constituents. It is my suggestion that we now take this fight directly to the Chief of the Tacoma Fire Department. I would suggest that we let the Chief know clearly, in no uncertain terms, and publicly, that the agency does not have the support of the people of Ruston, that the Council is acting as a group of renegades, and demand that the Tacoma Fire Department cease their efforts to lead Tacoma's effort to annex Ruston. If I can get a sense that the community is behind this effort, I'm willing to take on the project. Feel free to e-mail me if you would support this effort -- Thanks.

For The Love of Home

How do I begin to describe the love many of us have for Ruston? It is so much more than just enjoyment of home or civic pride. We share a sense of history, of community that few other locales can touch. Ruston represents what is good about small-town America – strong connections, caring neighbors, a profound sense of identity.

With that intensity comes a need to give space to other points of view – a challenge when emotions run so deep. Many spoke of the need for healing during the recent campaign season. Meeting this challenge of openness is the first step in healing, even when the other opinion is that Ruston should no longer exist. Disagree, but not hate. Debate, but not scream. Care even when it breaks your heart.

Such is my challenge during this season in our history. I once wrote that Ruston was like a butterfly, ready to emerge from its cocoon in full color. I didn’t realize that butterfly’s are delicate beings and only live a short while. Maybe healing is not possible, especially given that we continue to elect divisive leaders.

So as we debate keeping the Ruston fire department, this is the background that forms the basis for my opinion. The facts are clear; better service for lower cost with our current Ruston department. There is no logical way to dispute the findings of the independent fire committee. But just as important to me, the fabric of who we are is strengthened by having those we know and trust be the first responders to our emergency.

When Eric stopped breathing, when Lisa ripped her knee open, when Michelle fell out of the tree, when Mark’s son lay bleeding to death ~ it was our friends and neighbors who came running to save them. They didn’t get paid, they came because they cared. They are every bit as competent as the paid guys, but they know our names, they hold our hands when we panic, they hug us when we cry. How can we turn away from that? How can we destroy what has given us so much strength? If we loose our own department, it will be nearly impossible to rebuild it.

As important as this issue is to me, I am willing to accept the collective will. But it must be a collective decision. We all have to get involved and speak up, even in this volatile environment. Look objectively at the facts. Openly consider all viewpoints. Make the best decision for you and your family. Then tell the world – we have to make this decision carefully and together. Don’t let the council rush into a contract with Tacoma Fire without fully considering the fire committee recommendations (to keep and build our own department) and without hearing from us. Speak now or we will forever loose another vital thread in the fabric of our community. Karen

Council Set to Disband Fire Department

At its meeting on December 17th, the Council appointed Wayne Stebner and another council member to contract with Tacoma for fire services. They will compare the Tacoma contract with the fire committee recommendations on January 17th.

The fire committee considered contracting with Tacoma but recommended against it in favor of growing Ruston's fire department.

Council member Stebner, as a member of the fire committee, has been steadfast in his pursuit of Tacoma's fire services.

Please research this issue and let the council know your thoughts.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shake-up in Ruston

Did you feel it? We had an earthquake at 6:34 am on Saturday, measuring 2.0 in Ruston, Washington. Might not be much on the Richter scale, but a sign that things can move even if we don't feel it.

Blogs Draw Letters to Editor

Virginia Carpio, editor of the Ruston Connection, did not like Dave Seago's comment on our political "weirdness" in Ruston. She and others wrote letters to the editor on the issue rather than reply on the blog page. Yet another example of the vocal response to any criticism of those in power that has caused many to avoid expressing their opinions around here.

Virginia's exchange with Mr. Seago was published today. She was successful in changing the Tribune's approach to comments on their blogs, although Mr. Seago did not appear to change his opinion about Ruston politics.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Council Meeting this Monday

Just a reminder that the council meets this Monday at 7 pm at the Ruston School Building, 5219 N. Shirley Street, at the top of the south stairwell. The newly installed council was very organized at its last meeting on December 3rd, despite the fact that 3 of the 5 members had only held their seats for an hour or so when they passed the 2008 budget. Highlights (or low-lights depending on your point of view) will be forthcoming in the next few days. Here is the agenda for the meeting:
  • Call to Order
  • Flag Salute
  • Agenda Approval
  • Approval of Minutes: December 3rd Council Meeting
  • Mayor's Time (mayor presents his issues of concern)
  • Council's Time (each council member does the same)
  • General Public Comment (audience members have 3 minutes for their issues)
  • Business:
  • Point Ruston Electrical Service
  • Mayor's recommendations to reconsider the 2008 budget
  • Resolution 410: National Flood Insurance
  • Ordinance 1241: Flood Plain Management
  • Contract Renewal: Davis, Grimm, Payne and Marra
  • Contract: Prosecuting Attorney
  • Contract: Indigent Counsel
  • Advertising for Town Planner
  • Advertising for Town Attorney
  • Schedule January special meetings and study sessions
  • Claims and Payroll (council approves bills and pay for town employees)
  • Adjourn
Please attend and let the council and mayor know your thoughts. Public comments is usually allowed on each issue. Then post your thoughts here on Tuesday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Up From The Mines in Copperhill

An interesting story in the New York Times on Friday about a rural community rebuilding after a century of copper mining in the hills of Tennessee. Society continues to change ~ as does Ruston. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Since we have many new visitors after the recent mailing, we are re-posting our original welcome from November. Entries are listed with the most recent showing first. Please check out the archived posts and links to other important information such as the Fire Committee Reports and recommendations. Welcome one and all!

Welcome to a new way to interact here in Ruston, Washington. This tiny town has seen so much upheaval and bitter controversy the last few years. It is time to listen to each other and push beyond the anger and fear.

It is hoped that this space will become a place for factual presentation of current issues and open political discussion ~ a place to reminisce about the old days and build a positive sense of community. So welcome! Please submit a post and read what your neighbors have to say about this beautiful place we call home.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Council

This entry was originally posted on December 3rd. It is re-posted to provide context for the comments that follow.

The majority of the Ruston council seats were unexpectedly handed to new people tonight. Council members Mary Joyce and Del Brewer resigned their seats a month before their terms expired at the end of December. Council member Bob Pudlo also resigned his seat. He had said previously that the stress of dealing with some of the council members was impacting his health. Those council members (Wayne Stebner and Bob Everding) are the only two members to retain their seats after tonight’s meeting.

Recent election winners, Bradley Huson and Jim Hedrick, were appointed to fill the vacancies left by senior council members Joyce and Brewer. For Pudlo’s seat, past practice for the council would have been to take applications for the vacancy and invite the public to provide input prior to making their decision. Instead, they choose to install Dan Alberston, who lost a close race to Jim Hedrick. There was no consideration of Lyle Hardin, who also lost a fairly close race to Bradley Huson. It is unclear how long Albertson will hold his seat – probably until fall 2008, perhaps until the end of 2009.

Please listen, watch and give your input to our elected leaders. And share your opinion here. Your voice is important!


Former council member Del Brewer has some thoughts about the town council's actions on Dec. 3rd. Del is moving to Tennessee and will be missed. The next council meeting is Dec. 17th, 7 pm at the Ruston School.

Good Morning,

During last Monday nites meeting while the words were still hanging in the air (following the THREE new members of the Town Council swearing in), I suggested that residents get a copy of the oath they had taken and hold the WHOLE council to the pledge they have ALL taken. (from the oath) of my judgement, skill and ability, truly, faithfully, diligently and impartially perform the duties....

I'm wondering how "best judgement, truly, faithfully, diligently and IMPARTIALLY" fits in to the devisive, conspiring, unfaithful, without due diligence and completely PARTIAL dis-service inflicted upon the Town and all of its residents is justified by 4 of the 5 councilmembers!!!!? Perhaps in my absence someone will ask for that explaination at the next council meeting. Ahhh, the sun comes up on another wonderful day over tranquility bay,

Best wishes, Del

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Commentary: Ruston Connection Conspiracy?

“Conspiracy. Discrimination…. A simmering feud in the tiny town of Ruston” ~ words used too often around here. Unfortunately, they accurately describe the current political climate in Ruston. Just visit any council meeting to watch.

A strong political movement waged against the Commencement condominiums by the Citizens for Ruston swept council members Bob Pudlo, Bob Everding and Wayne Stebner into office two years ago. Citizens for Ruston evolved into the Ruston Connection – similar to a volunteer political action committee advocating for everything from stopping the condo development to removing parking spaces on Winnifred Street. RC (as they call themselves) has since lost much of its citizen base, as evidenced in the last election. Although it is clear RC still wages considerable influence, this election was much closer. (RC did not officially endorse any candidate, but their members worked tirelessly for friends Bradley Huson and Dan Albertson.)

Those same members attend every council meeting – often giving what appears to be pre-planned testimony to pre-planned actions by their favorite council members. Opposing views on every issue are disputed. No amount of testimony can sway the council vote from its apparent predetermined course. It is discouraging to voice a different view when it is unheard and often results in jeers from the audience or chastising from council members.

This political climate may be feeding into the latest conspiracy theory about RC. Their web site was recently shut down for maintenance. When it came back up, at least two member accounts (needed to access any information on the site) were removed. These two accounts were for folks who often disagree with RC. They have not been allowed to set up new accounts, which need approval from the site administrator, Sally Everding (wife of council member Bob Everding). Ms. Everding was notified of the problem a week ago, but has not responded as yet. Her email and site system seem to be working, as evidenced by her refusal to post a comment from outgoing council member Del Brewer today.

Is there a real conspiracy by RC to deliberately discriminate against those they disagree with? Or is this just an oversight in a politically-charged small town? Maybe 'conspiracy' is going too far. As a private entity, they have every right to discriminate, treat others rudely, pre-plan the council agenda and votes (well, maybe not legally). It’s just that these actions run so contrary to their supposed goal to build a sense of community.

Such are the dilemmas in Ruston - entertaining to the outside world, but symbolic of larger trends tearing at the sense of community everywhere.

Just one person's admittedly biased opinion. What’s yours? ~ Karen

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Former Council Members Comment

The concern about the recent decision to appoint Dan Albertson to the council without advance notice has raised concern for many in town. We have received comments from 2 former council members on the issue, among others. The appointment was made at the same meeting the vacancy was announced, disregarding a longstanding council practice of soliciting applications and considering a variety of citizens before making their decision. Albertson will serve for over 2 years.

From Del Brewer, who left the council this month:
Weelll, there they go again (heard with the Reagan voice) the cliches can run amuck endlessly: "people get the government they deserve" etc....Another sham was executed on our little hamlet last evening when former mayor and councilmember Pudlo's still warm but vacated seat was filled by Albertson on a 3 to 1 vote by the new/old council lead by the ever shameless Everding.

I do not doubt that Dan Albertson may be the best person in Ruston for the job, after all he lost the election by a very slim margin and has a resume that may well qualify him. WHAT I DO OBJECT TO IS THE DENIAL OF PROCESS that has been the standard here in Ruston and elsewhere which opens the vacancy to any and all residents that want to apply for the position and follow a review, interview, etc. method.

And now the 'good' news, Ruston now has another lawyer on maybe we can save a few hundred thousand dollars of our precious nest egg...unless of course he is not able to give us 'legal advice' due to rules set up by far to many American families having allowed (and even encouraged) their children to go to law school!!

From Charlene Hagen, who served until 2001.
I spent twelve years on the Council. How did my service start? There was an opening advertised and I applied for it, along with other folks. I was interviewed publicly so that everyone knew my views and character. That process was followed the next twelve years. The residents were kept informed and given the opportunity to apply. We had a diversity of thought and opinion that was of benefit to the town.

While I understand the rationale in letting the newly elected Councilmembers start their term a month early, even if I don’t agree with it; I cannot stomach the trickery and scheming exhibited by the Councilmembers in the appointment for the vacancy of Councilmember Pudlo's position. Words cannot convey how disappointed I am. Is this a democracy or is it a government run on the views of one small but vocal group? If I were a Councilmember today, I can assure you I wouldn't have played a part in their shameful actions.

Remember your actions, Councilmembers, the next time you reprimand the Mayor for making a decision without input.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Albertson Holds Seat Through 2009

We have confirmed with Pierce County Elections Department that Dan Albertson's appointment Monday night will last longer than expected. He will hold his council seat until the end of 2009, when Ruston has its next regular election.

Albertson will serve over half the term for this council seat via appointment, and that appointment was made with no public notice. A check of Ruston Municipal Code confirms there does not appear to be any formal written policy that requires notice and public input prior to appointing a new council member. But that open process has been the standing practice for many years.

Even under these circumstances we have a voice. Email addresses for all our elected officials are listed on this page. Please stay involved, speak up and share your thoughts here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Conversation Begins

Thank you to all who have begun the conversation, sharing your views and thoughts about our town. May this be just the beginning of many meaningful exchanges. A special thank you to the News Tribune for joining in the dialogue. Let's keep talking!

Tribune Editorial Page

Tribune Political Buzz Page

Monday, December 3, 2007

UPDATED Feb. 15, 2008: We have just discovered that for some reason this post was lost. Fortuanley, Dave Seago of the News Tribune posted some of it on his blog the next morning. I've saved it here so we have some record of it.

The majority of the Ruston council seats were unexpectedly handed to new people tonight. Council members Mary Joyce and Del Brewer resigned their seats a month before their terms expired at the end of December. Councilmember Bob Pudlo also resigned his seat. He had said previously that the stress of dealing with some of the council members was impacting his health. Those council members (Wayne Stebner and Bob Everding) are the only two members to retain their seats after tonight’s meeting.
Recent election winners, Bradley Huson and Jim Hedrick, were appointed to fill the vacancies left by senior council members Joyce and Brewer.

For Pudlo’s seat, past practice for the council would have been to take applications for the vacancy and invite the public to provide input prior to making their decision. Instead, they choose to install Dan Alberston, who lost a close race to Jim Hedrick. There was no consideration of Lyle Hardin, who also lost a fairly close race to Bradley Huson. It is unclear how long Albertson will hold his seat – probably until fall 2008, perhaps until the end of 2009.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ruston Business Helps Flood Victims

Bev from Ladies Workout Express sent out this notice today. Please stop by the business at 4927 N. Pearl if you want to help out.

To our members,

We have joined together with a member that works for Pierce County in collecting items that needed by those that have been displaced from their homes. If you have anything you would like to donate, please bring in to the circuit and we will be transporting the items down. They need anything and everything: clothing, food, blankets, towels, toiletries, children/infant needs, pet supplies, etc. Thank you in advance for any help you can offer at this time. If any of you have any contacts with companies that would be willing to donate, please give them a call.

Bev and staff

Friday, November 30, 2007

Front Page Again

What has become our usual adversarial way of doing business in Ruston has made the front page yet again. And again it is newcomers to the town. No judgement intended on that issue, just an observation. I am curious to know what others think, both Ruston residents and those who live in the larger community.

Karen P.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

2008 Ruston Priorities

As the year starts to wind down, and we've somehow survived another nasty campaign season in Ruston, it's time to think about next year. I'd love to hear what things are important to you as residents in town. And I also hope for input from others out there in the South Sound. Ruston has been a source of entertainment for many ~ what constructive input do the rest of you have?

Karen P.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today’s observation

“I’m afraid to say anything.” I heard that comment yet again this week.

Sound familiar? The feeling is all too familiar to those who might not agree with the current town leadership. It’s no longer enough to state one’s opinion and allow others the freedom to disagree. Many now fear harsh repercussions; name-calling, rumors, lies, attacks against your business or employment.

But I will give my opinion ~ and ask for yours. How are you feeling about today’s political climate in Ruston? Do you agree that things have gotten too harsh? Can we find a way to "agree to disagree" without personal attacks? Are we capable of sorting through all the facts and forming varied, honest opinions ~ and allowing others to come to different conclusions? That would mean presenting all the facts, not just those that support one's opinion. But that's a whole different subject...

I’m not sure it’s even possible. Maybe too many are too afraid. Maybe we've gone too far. Maybe the wounds are too deep. Just my opinion ~ what's yours?


Open Letter to Ruston Council

The following letter was submitted to the Council for consideration during their 2008 budget decisions by Fire Chief Don Torbet. It contains important factual information about our fire department's response to the recent shooting.

Ruston Council Members:

The Ruston Fire Committee has presented the issues I am about to address and I don’t want to belabor the point. Part of the committee’s report spoke to our response times as well as our training and future needs. They recommended starting a resident program and increasing the membership to 20. The budget I have submitted reflects these recommendations with an additional increase in money for equipment.

As you consider the up coming Town of Ruston budget for the fire department, please keep the following incident in mind. I believe it is an example of what we now have and what we can expect if we contract our fire/EMS service to Tacoma Fire Department.

In the early hours of November 1, 2007 there was an incident in Ruston involving a shooting. The original call was for a “Man Down”. It was later upgraded to a “possible Shooting.” The Ruston Fire Department medical aid van with one EMT was at the scene in 2 minutes 31 seconds after being dispatched. Two additional firefighters were at the scene within 3 minutes of dispatch. Two more arrived within 4 minutes of dispatch. The ALS (Advanced Life Support) transport unit, Rural Metro Ambulance #51 arrived at the scene 8 minutes and 11 seconds after being dispatched.

During this incident, Tacoma Fire Department also responded to the scene. I sent an information request to Tacoma Fire Communication Center. I asked, “Could you research the incident and tell me what units were there, how and when they dispatched, and when they arrived.”

A Tacoma Fire Department representative sent me the following time line information:

00:53 – LESA request for TFD response to a reported shooting at **** N. ****** Street.
00:54 – Engine 14, and Medic 1. – Dispatched
01:01 – Engine 14 – Onscene
01:04 – Medic 1 – Onscene
01:07 – Medic 1 – Available
01:16 E14 – Available - investigate only, call in Ruston, and handled by Ruston Fire.

It took, Tacoma Fire Department Engine 14, 7 minutes to get to the scene after dispatch; as compared to Ruston’s 2:31 . Tacoma Fire Department’s Advanced Life Support transport unit, Medic 1, arrived at the scene 10 minutes after being dispatched; as compared to Rural Metro #51 at 8:11.

After receiving the information, I contacted a supervisor at LESA (Law Enforcement Support Agency). In case it is unclear, LESA is the agency responsible for answering and routing all 911 calls to the appropriate agency. I spoke with a lady named Kim. I asked how and when Tacoma Fire Department was asked to respond. After Kim reviewed the taped recordings, she called back and told me a Police Officer had requested medical aid to a shooting at this scene. The police officer did not know Ruston Fire was only moments away. This radio traffic was handled by a dispatcher that usually works as a Pierce County Sheriff Department dispatcher. The dispatcher had sent the call to Tacoma Fire Department by mistake.
Why is all this important? Because time does matter in life threatening emergencies.

Should we be surprised by this data. No. It is exactly what Tacoma Fire Department has outlined in their presentation and in their handouts.

These times also reflect those times posted by Ruston Fire Department. This call was exactly 3 seconds faster than our 2007 annual average of 2 minutes 34 seconds from dispatch to on scene time. These times are through the month of October 2007.

The most important concept to take from all of this:

In this incident the 4 minutes probably made the difference. The survival chances of this patient were greatly improved by the rapid treatment. If this was your loved one it may have had a larger impact.

Please keep Ruston Fire Department working for the Citizens of Ruston.

Thank you,

Don Torbet

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fire Committee Reports

Mayor Transue appointed an independent committee to study our volunteer fire department. The recent campaign season spread many unfounded rumors about the quality of service we receive from our fire department. The committee found that Ruston has excellent medical aid and fire service. The full findings are available unedited by clicking Ruston Reports on the tab to the left or going to

It is vital that we make informed decisions about our future, and that we require our council to act in the best interests of our community, not just a select few. Please add your thoughts to this discussion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Familiar Change

This article describing the transition in East Helena sounds very familiar. It brought back memories of our struggle a decade ago. The change has not been easy or without mistakes.

I find it intriguing that having survived the transition in Ruston, I believe we are now imploding from within. Our own self-focus is driving us apart, a destructive force that threatens to tear our community to pieces.

May things go better in East Helena: