Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I am attempting to round up a plumber and electrician in an attempt to make the kitchen and bathroom functional. The Commencement is currently having their engineers review the load on the wall where the kitchen currently sits. The plan is to move the kitchen and all the fixtures (donated by The Commencement) into the northeast corner of what used to be the bedroom. The kitchen island will move into the former bedroom as well.
Then the wall that currently has the kitchen against it will be removed – leaving us with an open meeting area. The double doors will be moved to seal off where the former bedroom – now our kitchen – will be. That way during meetings or events the kitchen can be sealed off from the meeting room. They will be leaving the gas fireplace that would be wonderful to get plumbed and vented. The wall that currently hides the stage will we removed and the storage areas to the east will remain for storage of tables & chairs etc…
We are hoping to have everything completed and ready for us by the end of July. This is going to be a first class meeting facility and the possibilities for the space are endless.
A grand opening celebration was held last Thursday, complete with live music. Two hundred guests came in to look at the luxurious finishings, gorgeous views and meet potential new neighbors.
The whole project is due for completion by the end of summer. So far, 14 units are sold and should start closing by early August. After lots of battles, the end is sight. We will soon be expanding our community, just a precursor to more growth already in progress at Point Ruston and Stack Hill.
Welcome to all!
Monday, June 29, 2009
It was a great feeling of community - a chance to say hi and feel like you made a difference. I have to admit, trash collection can be addicting. On the way home, my daughter and I could not walk past any garbage on the ground. We came down Pearl Street (which had not been cleaned up yet).
Having already deposited our garbage bags, we collected quite a handful. A woman we didn't know noticed us from her yard as she was heading in from the store. She not only gave us her shopping bag for our garbage, she offered us a Klondike bar. Just another example of how community connections are built and the value living in a small town.
Sherri Forch, organizer of the baked goods
Lynette Hopkins (Mayor Bruce in the background) and their other "child"
A few hours before, a high speed chase ended in Ruston. It started along Ruston Way when a car decided to try to ram a Tacoma police cruiser. The chase came through the tunnel and Ruston police were able to get a device onto the road that took out some of the tires on the car as it sped down Winnifred. The entrance to the parking lot had been cleared at 54th, but since the road was blocked the vehicle turned east on 54th. The car stopped shortly after turning onto Bennett and the driver was arrested.
Another interesting weekend in town! More on the post-Taste clean up fun later.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
In addition, you cannot allow cars to drive over the curb to access the yard since this causes damage. Homeowners will be responsible to pay for any repairs. The police will be enforcing these rules, so be prepared.
Let the weekend festivities begin!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
On the 10th on this month I had my second surgery on my spine. My first was last July on the 3rd of 08. One month later, on my first day back to work on I-5, I was hit from the rear end quite severely while at a dead stop. This fouled up my back even worse and hence the need for another spine surgery, the one on the 10th of this month.
I registered for position #4 just before this last surgery, thinking I would be up for the task. Then, just prior to this latest surgery I had a discussion with my surgeon and we decided that to effectively campaign for the position I would be putting the healing process of my surgery in severe jeopardy.
That is the main reason I backed out, but there is another. Jane Hunt has changed considerably since I was on the council looking out, and she was Joe citizen looking in. I guess, as you must know, there really are two sides to every political situation, and after some time on the council, she to has figured this out. Anyway she is not so bad now and at the moment I just don’t have it in me, maybe next time.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The feature today is on Point Defiance Books, aka Primary Source Books. Proprietor Jim Bennett has been a visible part of the storefront along our Pearl Street core for several years now. Jim is the current president of the Business District and gives much of his time to make our community better. Here are his answers to my questions:
1) When did you get started? What is your background prior to this business? I have my bachelor's from Central Washington and my master's in education from UPS. For 30 years I worked as a teacher and a middle school transition coordinator in the Tacoma District at the 8th grade level. I taught health, English and US history at Hunt and Jerry Meeker middle schools. I retired for health reasons in June of 2002. I began collecting books in the late 1960's.
2) Describe what your business is/does. I sell used, rare and out of print books focusing primarily on non-fiction and particularly US history, although I have a bit of everything except romance and modern travel guides.
3) What motivated you to open a business? Thinking to have a bookstore as a retirement business to augment my non-cost-of-living-adjustable pension I put together a catalog and advertised in publications such as American Heritage, American History Illustrated, Civil War Times, etc. in 1996-7. I broke even. I began selling on Ebay in 1998 and eventually ABEBOOKS.COM and ALIBRIS.COM as well as my own website: PRIMARYSOURCEBOOKS.COM. These were very profitable. After retirement I began looking for a place to open a 'brick and mortar' bookstore.
4) Why did you locate here? Well, honestly, my first choice was Proctor, but then Jerry Culpepper opened a shop a couple of years before I was ready to take the plunge. I decided the Ruston area showed promise. It was close to my home and I expected decent shopping traffic due to the antique stores and the Antique Sandwich Company. I felt that with the clean-up of the Asarco site the area would experience a boom as new development came in.
5) How would you describe your success? Quite frankly while the first couple of years were good, the last three have been tough, not only are in-store sales down, but also internet sales have suffered from the massive increase in online selling competition and the increasing fees the listing services charge.
What are your primary markets? My regulars tend to be folks from the North End, Ruston and Vashon ferry-riders. Online, the bulk of buyers are from New York, Washington DC, Virginia, Florida and California. I also sell at various specialty shows.
6) Any plans to expand or are you satisfied with your current operation? I am not satisfied with my current operation, but cannot afford to expand as originally planned until the economy picks up. Also, we are planning on moving to the Tri-Cities when my wife retires in a year or two. As of now, the business is no longer prosperous enough to pay for someone to manage it or to attract a buyer. I am planning on opening another store over there.
7) What has the business district done for your business and for the local businesses as a whole? What do you see as the primary goals for the district over the next year? I think the Ruston Business District has helped to make more folks aware of the shopping available here through the Music Fest and group advertising. Our participation in City of Tacoma tourism programs has brought more tourists through my doors. In fact, some of my biggest sales each year are to tourists who find my prices for rare and collectible books too good to pass up.
The biggest challenges for the district remains upgrading the appearance and pedestrian-friendliness of the area. We have a lot of auto traffic, but not many places where it is convenient to stop and park. In the next five years, it is unlikely that all of the current smaller businesses will remain as rising rents become too much for sales to support. A major challenge will be integrating the "new" Ruston center developing on the smelter site with the businesses of the "old" core centered at 51st and Pearl Streets. It may be that the "old" core will not be able to participate in the draw of the "new" center resulting in business along Pearl becoming relatively marginalized. Developing strategies to avoid this outcome will be important for long term success of these businesses.
8) Anything else you think folks would like to know? At present I am looking to buy books in nice shape in the areas of hunting/firearms, and American military and political history.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Here are totals:
- 2006: $154,857
- 2007: $165,560
- 2008: $168,991
- 2009: $200,000 anticipated
We are excited to announce that for the next few months the Point Ruston Sales Center has moved to our Model Home at Stack Hill!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
She and her family are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support and help. It's when she considers how the community has responded that she gets emotional. "Stuff is stuff" she says. She considers herself lucky. Everyone made it out safe. They had time to grab the cat, but nothing else.
But she said they got everything that was important. She has her family, great friends and neighbors who care. Life goes on, one foot in front of the other. It's the love and support that are getting her through this.
She wants everyone to know she is doing well. Even in the midst of all the loss, she sees the good. She appreciates the efforts of the fire fighters who went into her burning home to make sure she and her family were safe. The fire fighters are the ones who give selflessly every day, risking their lives she says. She is thankful everyone made it out safe and no other houses were involved.
I'll keep you posted on future needs. Joanne is right, they have the most important things - life and family. But if you want to help her rebuild, you can contribute to the Bergman Family Fire Fund at the Tacoma Narrows Credit Union or drop a donation in the jars at Town Hall or Don's Market.
These challenges are when being a community means more than just living in a neighborhood; we make a difference in a meaningful, powerful way. Thank you for all you do, neighbors!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The meeting began a 7 pm with all present except Council Member Hunt, who was excused. The agenda was approved as presented, but Council Member Hedrick noted that the council needed to formally change their meeting rules so that public comment could consistently happen before business items were discussed. The town attorney will have the rule change ready for the next meeting.
The hearing on the Phase 1 sewer project had been continued to this meeting. The mayor opened the hearing to allow any new public comment. There was one quick question (I couldn't make it out on the tape) with no further comment, so the hearing was closed.
The minutes from the May 18th meeting were approved.
Sherri Forch liked the new format for the town newsletter. She wanted to confirm if people were allowed to park cars in their yard for a fee during the Taste and drive vehicles over the curb. She invited everyone to participate in the post-Taste clean up (collect trash from your street, bring it to town hall and eat cookies provided by our seniors).
Edie Tallman thanked Mayor Hopkins for taking the job as mayor and she was pleased to see he was going to run for election.
Sgt. Kunkel noted that a crew from Remann Hall is painting curbs. The town supplied the paint. He confirmed that people can park cars in their yards, but they are not allowed to drive over the curb. Council Member Stebner wanted to be sure the police checked people making money from parking had a current town business license. Sgt. Kunkel felt the police would need to focus on life/safety issues.
Ordinance 1278 - Regulation of Private Alarm Systems, Pending: This ordinance is not ready yet. The vote to table it was 2-2, so the mayor broke the tie by voting to table the ordinance to the next meeting.
Ordinance 1280 - Designating Off-Leash Areas, Pending: The council had already passed an ordinance making the park on-leash only. This ordinance is to create an off-leash area to the east of the park. Council Member Albertson did not like having these issues held from one meeting to the next. Issues should come back as new business when they are ready. The mayor agreed. The vote to remove this from the agenda passed 4-0.
Ordinance 1285 - Recovery of Emergency Response Expenses, Second Reading: Sgt. Kunkel provided some examples of how other cities calculate their emergency response expenses and suggested Ruston follow the Lakewood example. The ordinance passed 4-0.
Ordinance 1286 - Prohibiting Fireworks, Second Reading: Hedrick wanted more input from the fire chief. He felt the $1000 permit for public displays was too expensive and he wanted to talk more about enforcement of the current code before voting on this. Albertson wanted fireworks banned regardless. Stebner wanted to see this ban passed before the 4th of July this year so that it can become effective by the holiday in 2010. The issue was tabled till the next meeting with a vote of 4-0.
Ordinance 1287 - Indemnification of Elected Officials and Town Employees, First Reading: Hedrick felt the requirement to bring any summons to town hall within 5 days was not long enough. He also wanted to clarify who who would pay if there was insurance (insurance first, then town if needed).
Ordinance 1288 - Amending Traffic Code:
Ordinance 1289 - Amending Parking Code: The town planner explained that these changes addressed occasional problems with overflow parking from large events at Point Defiance Park, and prohibited commercial vehicles from parking in residential zones. It still allows small businesses to park their commercial vehicles in their driveways. Stebner felt the new high school at the park might cause boats and trailers to park in Ruston. The mayor pointed out this change allows the town to set up a system to issue parking permits to town residents if needed.
Resolution 444 - Accepting Right-Of-Way Deed: As part of the Baumgardner development at the end of Orchard Street, a right-of-way for emergency vehicle turn-around is required. This deeds this portion of land to the town. Council Member Huson wanted to be sure accepting this would not imply that more homes could be constructed on the site. The resolution was approved 4-0.
Claims and Payroll
Approved 2, Stebner no, Albertson abstain
The tree committee needs to purchase more trees but there is no money budgeted. Huson felt the previous tree committee had decided on only 5 types of trees that would be allowed, not 16 as proposed by the current committee. He would pay for trees to finish Winnifred Street. He thought the committee should focus on which of those 5 types of tree to plant on which street and that the committee was wasting too much of their time. He wanted the mayor to give them more specific direction.
The mayor noted that the sewer project is proceeding. The town is working with some potential lenders. He noted that he had directed the police department to issue parking tickets for anyone parking in the new red zones, even local residents.
Hedrick felt that signs were needed and stronger enforcement of the leash requirement at the park. He hoped the council would support the effort to organize a kids parade along Winnifred Street on the 4th of July. He will have a resolution ready at the next meeting.
Albertson wanted to be sure Ruston is getting refunded for its LID costs. He also noted that it was filing week for council candidates. He urged Stebner to run for re-election. He felt Stebner had always put the interests of the people of Ruston first, dealt with policy not personalities and had never voted to block any of his neighbor's views.
The meeting adjourned at about 8 pm.
- According to ZipRealty.com, Ruston has 18 properties listed for sale. I counted 17 driving around town on Wednesday, not including Stack Hill and The Commencement condominiums. I expect Zip does not list everything.
- Of the 18 listed on ZipRealty, two are vacant lots. For the homes, the median price asking price is just over $781,000. The high was $1.5 million for a 2 bedroom/2 bath, 2334 square foot new construction. The low was $199,500 for a 4 bedroom/1 bath, 1782 square foot older construction house.
- The average price for the new construction (most were from The Commencement) was about $1,193,000 - older construction averaged $369,430.
I was curious about our property tax trends. Property tax is the mainstay for Ruston's municipal budget. Like everywhere else, decreasing home values has reduced the town's funding. The county assessor values properties, the town receives taxed based on the previous year's value. Here is what the assessor reports for Ruston:
- 2006 total value (taxes paid in 2007): $95,898,389
- 2007 total value (taxes paid in 2008): $106,286,060
- 2008 total value (taxes paid in 2009): $125,083,079
I don't have any point to all this, just the observation that we are normal. There are lots of properties for sale for less than they would have cost a year ago. I expect we will see a reduction in tax income in 2010. Town leaders have a tough road ahead of them, as do the many residents who are loosing value. I hope things turn around quickly.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Just a reminder you can make donations to the Bergman Family Fire Fund at the Tacoma Narrows Credit Union or drop something in the collection jar at Don's Market or Town Hall. There has been a total of $167 donated in this effort so far.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I spoke to Kim Wheeler this afternoon. He confirmed that he has withdrawn from the upcoming election. His sole reason for running was to be sure citizens had a choice other than the incumbent, Wayne Stebner. Since there were no candidates for this position on final day of filing week, he signed up.
He spoke to Ms. Kristovich over the weekend and felt he could support her candidacy. So he withdrew his name on Monday morning. I have not heard back from Mr. Wendell yet as to his reasons for withdrawing.
The auditor updated the list of candidates today with some changes in the Ruston races. It appears Mike Wendell and Kim Wheeler have withdrawn. I have an message in to both of them asking for confirmation and details.
Here is the unofficial slate of Ruston candidates as listed by Pierce County Elections Department at 8:23 am today:
- Mayor: Bruce Hopkins, running unopposed
- Council Position 1: Lyle Hardin, running unopposed
- Council Position 2: Deb Kristovich, running unopposed
- Council Position 4: Bryan Ficiala and Jane Krock Hunt
This means Ruston voters will not have any races to vote on in the August primary. The only real choice will be for Council Position 4 on November 3rd, unless someone mounts a write-in campaign.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
After a very short public hearing tonight, the Ruston Planning Commission recommended two changes to Ruston's zoning code for the commercial zone on the east side of Pearl Street: 1) allow 2 stories and up to 35' for structures from Ruston's southern border to N. 50th and 2) allow 3 stories and 45' from N. 50th to 52nd. The rest of Pearl from N. 52nd to 54th is zoned residential.
The meeting began at 7 pm with Chair Kevin Moser reading the usual script for a public hearing. After the flag salute, the planning commission members and anyone in the audience wishing to testify raised their right hand and swore their testimony would be truthful. Commission members were given the opportunity to state any conflict of interest and the audience was given a chance to challenge any of them.
There were only two members of the public in attendance; both of us spoke in favor of the proposed amendment. After the public hearing was closed, the planning commission began their deliberations. Commissioner Dick Pederson was concerned that the discussion in the staff report did not draw a clear enough line between the two heights allowed in this area. But he agreed that the change to the wording in the code text was clear enough.
Commissioner Cherrie Anderson moved to recommend that the council approve the zoning code changes as written. After Bryan Ficiala seconded, the motion was approved by all 5 commissioners. The meeting adjourned about 7:20 pm. The issue will be considered by the Ruston town council sometime in July.
Tim attended the last business district meeting and gained their support for a venture. His handout from the meeting is below. This is a preliminary outline that has already undergone some changes. Tim wants to put together a board to set the policy and make the basic decisions like which day to hold the market, the location and such.
If you want to lend your support, share ideas or shout a big hurray, please contact Tim at 253-495-2552. The more folks who provide input, the better chance we have of pulling this off ~ so take a moment and give Tim a call.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
- Mayor: Bruce Hopkins, running unopposed
- Council Position 1: Lyle Hardin, running unopposed
- Council Position 2: Deb Kristovich and Kim B. Wheeler
- Council Position 4: Bryan Ficiala, Jane Krock Hunt and Michael Wendell
The primary election will be held on Tuesday, August 18th for Council Position 4. The top two candidates will move on to the general election with the rest of the positions on November 3rd. Here's hoping for a spirited, civil election season in Ruston.
Ruston Fire put in a call for mutual aid from Tacoma Fire immediately upon arrival due to the nature of the call.
Firefighters initiated a primary search of structure immediately upon their arrival. Fortunately, the family had already made it out of the building and were safe.
There were reports of tires, a propane tank and other flammable containers exploding in the midst of the blaze. One Ruston and two Tacoma firefighters went inside the burning building for an interior attack on the fire. The Ruston firefighter was sent to the hospital as a precaution when he had trouble catching his breath. He checked out fine.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Ruston Fire Chief Don Torbet reports that the call was received at Fire Com at 1:39:52. Fire Com dispatched the call to Ruston at 1:40:57. Ruston's engine was on scene 2 minutes, 43 seconds later at 1:43:40.
The family has been asked to let us know how we can help. We'll keep you posted on some concrete ways we as a community can help when/if we hear anything from them.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
There does not appear to be any new candidates filing for election in Ruston today (Tuesday), according to the county elections report filed at 4:28:58 pm this afternoon.
Monday, June 1, 2009
- Position 1: Lyle Hardin
- Position 4: Jane Krock Hunt