Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bookstore Closing

After a recent feature here on this blog, the current economic downturn has taken its toll on one of our local businesses. Point Defiance Books will be closing its doors soon. Proprietor James Bennett sent this note to friends and colleagues a few days ago. Both the business and James will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best in this new phase of life....

Hi all,

This is to let you know that as of Sept 30, 2009, I will be closing my bookstore. A hard look at the finances has convinced me that the wisest course is to close my "brick and morter" shop. The last year of losses has depleted my operating reserve and I cannot justify supporting the store out of other income or increasing use of credit. I will still be selling books online and at shows and events.

I want to thank you for your help to me over the past five years with your friendship and business.

This decision also finalizes my intention not to seek re-election as Ruston-Point Defiance Business District President when my current term ends in September. While I will not be at the August meeting due to a family vacation, you should begin work on a slate of officers for the membership to vote on in September/October. I will continue as a member as long as we are in the area, but do not want to be in an officer. Those slots should be taken by people who have an ongoing commitment to the business development of the area.

I have enjoyed working with you all and continue to have high expectations of success for the future of the Ruston area. Though it is a long time coming, I believe that the economic recovery will bless this area with the growth we have long expected.

Best wishes,

James Bennett
Point Defiance Books
"The Primary Source of Books for History Buffs"
5104 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma WA 98407

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Pretty Curbs

I hope everyone is enjoying the heat - perhaps we'll have fond memories of today come January. Last Saturday was not nearly as hot, but plenty warm. Despite the heat, neighbors were out painting curbs again in Ruston. The mayor said it was an impromptu effort, but there are a few more curbs to paint. He'll let us know when something gets on the schedule officially.

I'm amazed at how much better the town looks with bright red curbs and shiny newly painted sign posts. Thank you to everyone who helped "Paint Ruston Beautiful"!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ruston Seniors Invited To Cool Off

With record highs and older Ruston homes without air conditioning, Bev Wombacher of Ladies Workout Express is inviting any local seniors that need to cool off to stop by her shop on Pearl Street and sit awhile. She is making a classroom available and may even work up a lunch if there is interest. Bring a book, deck of cards or just good conversation. Hours: Monday - Friday from 6 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm. The address is 4939 N. Pearl Street. Call (253) 752-8599 for more details.

Karen at town hall said folks can stop by there too and hang out in air conditioning (5117 N. Winnifred). Pierce County libraries will be open longer hours to accommodate anyone who needs a cool spot. Lowes and Petsmart are opening their doors to people and pets alike. The mall and any local box store are a good bet as well.

From Pierce County Emergency Management:
With the expectation of record temperatures, Pierce County Emergency Management is providing a Heat Wave Info Line to address heat-related questions. The public can call 1-866-97-PCEOC (1-866-977-2362) during the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. We strongly recommend that residents check on elderly neighbors or those with small children and call if assistance is needed. More information is available here...

So check on your neighbors and let us know if anyone needs help. We can arrange rides and help in other ways. The phone number for Town Hall is (253) 759-3544 or Ruston Fire Chief Don Torbet at (253) 381-1887 or email me at For those without transportation, its good to know there are places available close by ~ and neighbors willing to lend a hand.

Another Passing

The old guard continues to change around town. Although not official residents, Jeanne and Fred Greer have come to town daily for several decades to hang out at Ruston Inn and visit family and friends. Fred is one of the dwindling number of smelter retirees in the area and is almost 100 years old now. Jeanne's sister lived in town and was on the town council. Some of her family still live here.

Sadly, Jeanne passed away last weekend (read more here). We send our best to her family; those in Ruston and those farther afield. Your family's heritage lives on in this little town and we are grateful for the time Jeanne gave to us.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Things are pretty quiet around town this week - or could be that I just haven't noticed too much going on. Given our recent history, a little peace and quiet isn't so bad. I note that Ruston, Louisiana is upgrading their downtown core (read more here). Some of the local businesses are concerned about the short-term impact on foot traffic from the construction.

We can hope for similar progress in our Ruston. The mayor notes he is busy trying to secure funding for our sewer and street lighting upgrades. It may get noisy around here, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Goldfish Gallop

Running just got much more interesting. The first ever Goldfish Gallop 5-k run will be held on August 8th. There will be prizes and a "fish face" contest. The race starts at the entrance of Point Defiance Park and ends at the Goldfish Tavern with discounted beer or ice tea drinks. Maybe this unique approach will inspire some new participants!

More details here....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Council Meeting: July 20, 2009

There is a full agenda for the Ruston council tonight. Several ordinances will have their second reading and potentially be adopted tonight, plus a new contract for the town planner and a collective bargaining agreement for town employees that has been in the works for years. There is also a discussion on the budget.

The full packet of information with all the ordinances and agreements is available at Ruston Reports. Please stop in at 7 pm and give your input!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's Official

The Ruston-Point Defiance Music Fest is suspended for this year. Like many other local festivals, the economic downturn has translated into fewer sponsors. Without the financial backing, the business district voted last month to redirect their energies toward street scape improvements and help for the proposed Ruston farmer's market.

The festival has been traditionally held in early September and last year featured 4 music stages. Each of the 4 years the festival saw consistent growth in attendance, vendors and music. The district hopes to bring back the event in the future.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Council Meeting Notes: July 6, 2009

This is what I found interesting at the last meeting. Please attend for yourself and see what interests you. ~ Karen

The meeting began promptly at 7 pm with all the elected officials in attendance. The meeting was immediately recessed into executive session for 40 minutes to discuss personnel and pending litigation. The regular meeting began again at 7:40 pm. The meeting minutes from June 15th were approved with minor corrections.

Public Comment
Jim Wingard noted a hearing on the casino is scheduled for Friday. He encouraged folks to read his blog for details.

I noted donations are still being taken for the Bergman family fire fund.

Sherri Forch thanked the police and fire department for the help keeping the 4th of July quiet. She thought the enforcement worked well this year.

Beth Torbet thanked Isabelle Davis for a great kids parade on the 4th. Beth thought Ruston had a budding politician on their hands.

Old Business
Ordinance 1290, Repealing Library Card Reimbursement (second reading): The issue was tabled until the next meeting so the mayor can follow up on some new information he received.

New Business
Ordinance 1291, Development Regulation (granting administrative decision-making authority to the town planner): Hedrick moved to waive the second reading and finalize this ordinance immediately. He felt with the high level of development activity in town, this was a time bomb waiting to go off and needed to be put in place immediately. The vote to waive the second reading was 3-2 (Stebner and Albertson voting no). It was assumed the second reading was waived until Stebner stated that this action required a super-majority vote as required by the council rules. But the town attorney agreed with the majority that the motion had passed.

Albertson voiced his concerns and outlined the intent of that rule when he drafted the council rules. Since this issue is the major basis for “another” lawsuit (the casino tax case), he asked the attorney to change his ruling. Based on Albertson explanation, the town attorney reversed his position.

Hedrick then moved for reconsideration so there could be some discussion about why there was any opposition to this ordinance. He was told he was not on the prevailing side, even though his side had more votes. The two “no” votes prevailed since a super-majority was required for passage. The ordinance will have its second reading at the next council meeting.

Ordinance 1292, Height Increase for part of Pearl Street (first reading): The town planner outlined the proposal and noted the issue had been considered by the planning commission and a public hearing had been held. He recommended approval at the next meeting.

Ordinance 1293, Public record policy (first reading): This ordinance adds a section at the end of the current policy. Hunt wanted to confirm how long LESA kept email records to ensure they are in compliance with the new rules.

Ordinance 1294, Indemnification of public and town employees (first reading): No comment.

Resolution 447: Surplus property: This allows the sale of one of the old police vehicles. It passed 5-0.

Resolution 447, Legal services contract: Hedrick noted this contract included an increase in rates from $125 to $150 per hour for work outside the normal scope (i.e. for lawsuits) and an increase from $4,000 to $5,000 per month in the base rate. The town attorney said he had devoted more hours than.expected and this would “help stop the bleeding”. The resolution passed 5-0.

Professional Services Agreement for Communications Maintenance: The town attorney wanted to draw up a formal resolution authorizing the mayor to sign this agreement. The council agreed to table the issue until the next meeting. Hunt noted that according to the class she had just attended on Roberts Rules of Order, they could not table an issue. It had to be approved or it died. So the issue was moved to the next meeting instead.

Claims and Payroll
Hedrick noted that the invoice for the lawsuit over the Point Ruston shoreline permit was $2,600 this month. This is cost the town must absorb directly and cannot pass along to Point Ruston since the town is being sued separately from Point Ruston. Claims and payroll passed 3-2 with Stebner and Albertson voting no.

Mayor’s Time
Hopkins reported that the first meeting of all the town staff went well. It lasted about 2 hours and opened up communication across the different departments.

He attended the recent AWC conference along with Hunt. His goal at the conference had been to find any money that might be out there. He felt there were some good prospects and he was excited about where the town is headed.

Two banks had turned down funding for the sewer project. The USDA loan program should now be available, with lower interest rates (3.75%) and longer payback time (40-year note). He is planning on including money for the Phase 2 work along with Phase 1 in the loan request. There is still money available in the loan fund and Ruston is 3rd or 4th in line for that funding. He wants to have a study session to discuss the sewer projects in detail (no date set yet).

The mayor thanked planning commission chair Kevin Mosier for volunteering his electrician skills to move the kitchen area at the community center. Mosier had put together a bid for the hard costs and he will volunteer his time to redo the wiring. The estimated cost for the electrical work is about $1,400. The mayor is looking for a bid from a plumber next. He will be asking the council for funding for this work soon.

Council Time
Stebner was concerned about the cost for the sewer upgrades. The citizens will have to pay for these upgrades. He estimates that to complete the full project could cost at least $40 per household. The surplus property fund should be used for this, even though it won’t cover all the costs.

Stebner was also frustrated that there is not anything being done for the street lighting that is also in poor shape. The mayor told him that CTED thought there was funding available for this project, especially if Ruston used green lighting in their design. That change is currently being made to the design, so he is hopeful for grant moneys to help cover some of this cost. Stebner wanted to use the electrical surplus fund, which everyone agreed was the point of that fund. The mayor noted that the rumor is there will be a second round of stimulus money in September, which the town is well positioned for this time around.

Stebner was glad that fireworks in Ruston will be banned next year. He was out of town but found burnt debris in his yard when he returned. The mayor felt there had been an impressive display of patrol and enforcement this year and things had gone well. Stebner wanted to know how many fines had been issued. There had not been any need for fines.

Huson had nothing.

Hedrick thanked everyone for the 4th of July children’ parade. The event exceeded expectation. Folks are talking about adding to it next year, maybe a bike rodeo or safety class taught by the police department. He thought the permit process allowing fireworks went well this year and he was sorry know they would be banned in the future.

He noted concerns about the atmosphere at the Taste of Tacoma the last couple of years. The after dinner crowd does not feel safe. Mayor Hopkins felt that Ruston did not benefit from the event. He was considering shutting down the town and only allowing residents to park in town that weekend. Huson agreed and thought we should make Ruston a “Taste-free zone”.

Alberston wanted to support the idea of a Farmers Market in Ruston.

Hunt outlined the notes from the classes she attended at the AWC conference. The next conference is in August and she encouraged other council members to attend. There are scholarships available for small towns like Ruston.

The mayor noted that the lawsuit between Tacoma City Water and local towns would not impact Ruston. The town had already paid the fees in question. If Tacoma won, there would not be any additional fees for Ruston, if Tacoma lost Ruston would receive a refund.
The meeting adjourned about 8:45 pm.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Purple Cow

This building is known to old timers like me as the Purple Cow. It once housed an antique shop that had a life-size purple cow figure out front. The cow was stolen by vandals before the shop closed. The building was transformed into classy office space with a killer view several years ago, but the name still persists for some of us.

The building is available for rent or purchase these days. The Edward Jones building to the east is part of the same lot and would be included in any sale. The floors have been redone since the last tenant left. The lot was for sale for several months, now it's for rent. But the representative for the owner (a bank in Germany) said they are willing to entertain purchase offers.

If you know anyone interested, you can contact Louie Gabini at (206) 372-0725 or Maybe we can help generate some forward momentum in our very local economy! And maybe a few more years with a new business at this location I can stop calling it the Purple Cow. ~ Karen

Friday, July 10, 2009

Going to Trial?

Jim Wingard (RustonInsider) in reporting that motions for summary judgement filed by both sides in the Point Defiance Casino lawsuit were denied in court today. Both Ruston and the casino had asked the judge to decide in their favor without a full trial (a summary judgement) A trial date is set for August according to Jim.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Clarence Bundrock: 1917-2009

Ruston has a strong history. In many ways, our heritage is carried in the memories of our elder statesmen. We are losing much of that collective memory in recent years as folks move out or pass on.

One of Ruston's longest-standing couples is Clarence and Roberta Bundrock. Sadly, Clarence passed away on Independence Day this year. The military brought him to town during WWII to man one of the crash boats stationed at Point Defiance, according to his obituary in yesterday's paper.

We lose some of our community fabric when we lose friends like Clarence. Our hearts go out to Roberta and her family. Please know that we treasure your history and contributions over the many decades you have given us. May Clarence rest in peace, knowing he was an important part of the life of this little town.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fire Recovery Update

The Bergman family has settled into their new home in Old Town this week. Joanne remains deeply grateful for the support and concern from her Ruston neighbors after a fire destroyed their home on June 3rd. The family was technically tenants at the time of the fire and had no insurance to cover their losses. Neighbors have collected almost $250 to help so far.

Joanne said the cash helped get her into her new place, but even more important is the emotional support she has received. She always believed that people were kind and generous, but when it became personal like this, its has been overwhelming. She is humbled and deeply grateful.

The basic household needs have been met so far. Joanne claims she's always been a great thrift store shopper and those skills have come in handy. They are slowly rebuilding. Loosing all your material possessions, but knowing your family is safe puts it all in perspective. Somehow the "stuff" doesn't matter as much anymore.

Even though the Bergman family is safe and has a roof over their heads, it feels good as neighbors to help get them started on a new chapter in their lives. You can still make donations at the Tacoma Narrows Federal Credit Union at the bottom of 51st Street to the Bergman Family Fire Fund, or in the donation buckets at Don's Market or Town Hall.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Council Meeting Quick Notes: July 6, 2009

Just a few quick notes on the meeting tonight. After a 35 minute executive session for personnel issues and pending litigation again, the meeting started about 7:45 pm.

Ordinance 1290: Repeal Library Card Reimbursement: Moved to next July 20th meeting.
Ordinance 1292: Administration of Development Regulations: Hedrick tried to waive the second reading and grant approval tonight. The measure failed 3-2 (Stebner and Albertson voting no). Even though it won majority approval, a super-majority is needed to waive the second reading. I'll have more details on the interesting exchange later, made more interesting given this issue is the heart of the casino lawsuit. The ordinance will have its second reading at the next council meeting.
Ordinance 1292: Increasing Heights on Pearl Street: First reading, no comments
Ordinance 1293: Public Records Policy: First reading, no comments
Ordinance 1294: Indemnification for Town Officials: First reading, no comments
Resolution 447: Surplus Property (old police car): Passed 5-0
Resolution 448: Legal Services Contract: Passed 5-0 (included rate increases)
Professional Services Agreement for Communications Maintenance: Moved to July 20th meeting so an ordinance could be prepared.
Claims and Payroll passed 3-2 (Stebner and Albertson voting no)

Council Meeting Tonight

Here is the agenda for the council meeting tonight. There are lots of things up for discussion under new business from public records policy to increasing the building height in the commercial zone along Pearl Street as recommended by the planning commission. The full packet of background information is available on Ruston Reports.

Be sure and attend tonight, 7 pm at Town Hall ~ 5117 N. Winnifred Street. It's always interesting in a unique, small-town kinda way!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th!!!

Here are the rest of the day's parade pictures. We had lots of help from our police and fire personnel, and the Davis family treated everyone to Krispy Kreme donuts afterwards. I haven't heard an official count, but we had plenty of kids (and grown up's) join in the parade, and several neighbors came out to cheer from the sidewalk.

Enjoy the heat today and fireworks tonight ~ Happy 4th of July!


4th of July Fun

There was a great turn out and lots of fun for the kids young and old today at Ruston's 4th of July parade. Isabelle Davis got the idea started and put together a great application for the parade permit. I'll get lots more photos up as the day progressess.

More Parade Fun

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Point Ruston In The News

The South Sound magazine has a feature story on the Point Ruston and Stack Hill developments. Check it out here....

Ruston's 4th of July Parade

The kids get their own parade on Saturday morning in Ruston. In true old-fashioned American tradition, the town will see a parade down Winnifred Street starting at 10 am. Decorate your bikes, scooters, pets, wagons and babies ~ bring 'em on down to show off! Even grown up kids are welcome.

Word of this community party did not make it into the town newsletter, so let your neighbors know to bring the kids out for some fun 4th of July morning. We'll gather in front of Don's Market at 51st and Winnifred at 10 am. Hope to see you there!

Sunset Over Ruston

Check out this photo of a spectacular sunset over Ruston. It doesn't get much prettier!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Council Meeting Notes: June 15, 2009

Here is a summary of the last council meeting. Some of it is dated now, but there are still details that are interesting. Please attend a meeting yourself and give your input! ~ Karen

The meeting began at 7:01, with Mayor Hopkins and Council Members Stebner, Hedrick and Hunt present. After the flag salute and agenda approval, the council immediately recessed into executive session for 40 minutes to discuss on-going litigation and personnel matters.

The meeting resumed at 7:47 pm. Hedrick moved to approve the minutes from the last council meeting, but Hunt was hesitant to second the motion since she had not been at present for the meeting. After Stebner did not respond, Hunt seconded the motion and the minutes were approved with one minor correction from Hedrick.

Staff Reports
Fire: The fire department report noted one call the previous month. The fire from earlier this month is still under investigation and information on that fire on Shirley Street will provided on the next report. One of the resident fire fighters has been able to find an EMT class and will be starting this week.

Police: Acting chief Kunkel thanked Marla Miller for removing graffiti from the radar trailer so it can be used again. He also thanked the mayor and his wife for organizing the curb painting. He felt it would help with parking enforcement during the Taste.

The Taste of Tacoma will be held June 26, 27 and 28th. The usual no parking zones apply. He noted that if residents were going to park cars in their yards, they were not allowed to drive those cars over any curbs. And if they charged money for the parking, they had to get a business license from Town Hall.

Oral boards are scheduled for July to hire a replacement fulltime officer. The department has a reserve officer who is almost cleared for duty. There are no official findings available yet for the death in the condos on Pearl Street.

Public Comments
Jim Wingard was concerned about the indemnification elected officials are about to grant themselves. All that is required is that the official use “good faith” efforts, but he did not feel that standard had been met in the past given the number of lawsuits filed against the town.

Terry Knapp was honored that the radar trailer had been parked in front of his house, but he asked that someone else be honored for awhile now.

Sherri Forch wants to see all fireworks eliminated. She would also like to find a way to honor the seniors with the 4th of July parade.

JJ McCamment noted that the ferryboat/sales center is undergoing remodeling and the sales center has moved to Stack Hill. The ferry will be moored along the Point Ruston shoreline as soon as permits are issued.

Old Business
Ordinance 1278: Private Alarm System Regulation: Stebner did not see any benefit to Ruston residents with this regulation. The ordinance passed 2-1.

Ordinance 1286: Banning All Fireworks (starting in 2010): Hedrick wanted to see safe fireworks continue for sentimental reasons. Some of the happiest memories with his dad are of family fireworks shows. He has his permit and is looking forward to starting that tradition with his son this year. He felt there were adequate regulations already in place and the problem are coming from fireworks that are already illegal. Stronger enforcement is the answer, not banning all fireworks.

Fire Chief Torbet did not feel this ordinance would not change the behavior of those who are causing the problems. The only change would be that people like Hedrick would not be able to share a legal fireworks show with their kids. He felt that those who follow the rules should not be penalized. Those who don’t follow the rules should be dealt with under the current laws.

Hunt felt that since the rules are difficult to enforce now, it would be easier if no fireworks were allowed. Stebner noted there had only been 6 permits issued for fireworks this year out of 350 households. He felt the people had spoken. Hedrick felt the town would continue to have the same problems. As to how many permits were issued vs. households, he hoped Stebner did not use the same standard for those who say annex vs. don’t annex (given the number of anti-annex signs in people’s windows). The ordinance was approved 2-1 (Hedrick voted no).

Ordinance 1287 (2nd Reading): Indemnification of Town Employees and Elected Officials: After a short discussion, the ordinance was approved 3-0.

Ordinance 1228 (2nd Reading): Amending the Town’s Traffic Code: Approved 3-0.

Ordinance 1289: Amending the Town’s Parking Code: After a brief discussion on enforcement, the ordinance was approved 3-0.

New Business
Ordinance 1290 (1st Reading): Remove refund for town residents when purchasing Tacoma library card. Since Ruston residents are not taxed for library services, the council did not feel the town needed to refund these costs. With the current budget shortfall, it was felt this step should be taken.

Resolution 445: Changing council rules to allow public comment at the beginning of the meeting, which passed 3-0.

Resolution 446: Children’s 4th of July Parade: Stebner wanted to know how much this was going to cost the town. He was concerned police would be paid overtime to block the streets when the town was going to cut library cards. Hedrick reiterated he would pay the permit fee if needed. The resolution passed 3-0.

Mayor’s Time
Hopkins was grateful the tremendous community support they have experienced while painting the curbs. Residents came out asking what is going on and stayed to help. It was an example of what this town should be. He named all the folks who had helped out, and especially thanked Steve Taylor for all his efforts beyond his normal job duties. Someone from the audience thought it was great to have the mayor out there painting curbs too, which brought applause from the rest of the audience. Hopkins also thanked Mike Tallman and his constriction company for volunteering their time and equipment to put in a new line to the park bathrooms.

The mayor noted that he hoped to have the meeting room at the school (the former Commencement sales center) ready in the next 30 to 45 days. They will not tear out the kitchen area so it can be used for community events.

Hopkins has started a monthly meeting with all employees to improve communication. He is asking the council to look at surplusing unused property the town owns. He has appointed Rob White, the town planner, as the point person on all the development issues. They are looking at ways to automate some of the building services.

Council Time:
Stebner had nothing.

Hedrick thanked everyone for the work on painting the curbs; they look great. He was glad to see the sign at the park requiring leashes for the dogs so that the town could comply with insurance requirements. He was happy to hear the police were using an “educational” approach; informing people about the change rather than harsh enforcement. He felt the state auditor was wrong in their finding that Ruston did not collect leaseholder excise tax.

Hunt agreed that the curb painting looked great. The project will be on-going all summer.

The meeting adjourned about 8:45 pm.