Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Time Marches On

I thought the progression in these aerial photos was interesting ~ 2005, 1973 and something around 1950...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grand Opening This Weekend!!!

Joel and Angie sent out the following announcement for the grand opening of their shop tomorrow. Stop on in this weekend and say hi!

Secondhand Hound is open in Ruston! Come down and see us on Saturday and Sunday, March 27th and 28th 2010 for our GRAND OPENING!! A portion of the proceeds from opening weekend will be donated to the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County.

Just as the name suggests, Secondhand Hound is a small secondhand dog store located in the cozy little Town of Ruston, just outside Tacoma. From kennels and bowls to collars and clothes, we have just about anything your dog could want or need!

We at Secondhand Hound want to provide an affordable way for people to spoil their four-legged family members! Forget the expensive boutiques, consider buying secondhand to help keep usable items out of the landfill.

Come in and take a look around! Bring in a picture of your pooch and we will add it to our wall of fame! Bulky pet stuff taking up space in the garage?? Donate any of your unwanted dog items and receive 15% off your next purchase!

As big advocates of pet adoption and rescue, we encourage you to adopt your next pet and always spay and neuter! And if you're considering a new family member, we have information and bios on several great dogs available for adoption!

Secondhand Hound
5609 N. 51st Street
Ruston, WA 98407
(253) 759-3686
Open Wednesday - Sunday, 10 am -6 pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Bunny Is Coming!

One of Ruston's favorite characters will visit again on Saturday, April 3rd. Although no one will probably see him in person, he will leave plenty of goodies behind for the little ones. And the grown ups get to munch on muffins and coffee while the little ones race to collect the bunny gifts.

Festivities start early this year ~ 8 am at Town Hall (5117 N. Winnifred). Bring your own basket and join the fun!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Background Material

The background material from the council meeting last Monday, March15th is now available on Ruston Reports here... It contains the planning commissions report and recommendation to approve the side yard variance request for the lot at 5311 N. Shirley. The 2 protest letters are interesting. The photo did not copy through in color. It shows that of the 27 lots surrounding this proposed home, only 3 meet the current side yard set back requirement.

I hope to have the notes for this meeting done by early next week.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Council Meeting Notes: March 1, 2010

The mayor called the meeting to order at 7:05 with all elected officials present. The agenda was approved with no changes and the minutes from the previous meeting were approved. Council Member Hunt was reminded after reviewing the minutes that some residents have not paid sewer connection fees. She wanted an update on which homes still needed to pay. Mayor Hopkins was not sure that research would show them all, but a study session was coming up to discuss the probability that the homes on 49th between Baltimore and Orchard may not have been charged. Any newer homes will be tracked more closely and charged from now on.

Public Comment
No one had anything to say.

1. Ordinance 1306, Chronic Nuisance Activities, 2nd reading: Council Member Hedrick noted that "mayor's designee" should be listed rather than "directors" on page 6. Hunt confirmed that the police will be enforcing the terms on the ordinance. Council Member Hardin noted that "city" should be replaced with "town". He also asked for clarification on some of the language, which lead to more changes to the ordinance. Hedrick noted this was the second time he'd worked on trying to find a solution for the problem at "this location". He had worked with several mayors and police chiefs, and this time the town needed to take the problem seriously in his opinion. Hardin noted that this ordinance applies to everything in town and encouraged the town to use caution with the power this ordinance gives. After amending the ordinance, it was approved 5-0.

2. Ordinance 1307, Unauthorized discharges into Ruston's sanitary sewer system, 1st reading: This was recommended by the town engineer as a way to address any problems uncovered during smoke testing. Jerry Morrissette gave an update on the smoke testing schedule and handed out a sample door hanger that will be used to notify home owners about the testing. The cost for printing the tags will be about $600 additional plus the man-hours to hang them. The mayor will organize volunteers to hang the notices.

Town attorney Britton brought the focus back to the current ordinance, noting that this will give the town authority to force homeowners to make repairs if problems are found. Hardin wanted to know what the process would be if something is found. Morrissette said the town would advise the homeowner of the steps needed to correct the problem, along with the appropriate timeline to make the corrections.

The mayor said Tacoma is now charging Ruston based on an assumption there is infiltration of storm or other unauthorized discharges into the sewer. Once these corrections are done, Tacoma will hopefully lower their rate. Sherri Forch wanted to ask a question from the audience but was not allowed to do so. The council waived a second reading and passed the ordinance immediately with a vote of 5-0.

3. Resolution 464, Admending the agreement with Morrissette for the smoke testing: Passed with no discussion 5-0.

4. Resolution 465, Agreement with USArchives for current and new documents: The agreement will cover 5 subscribers, each with a number of guest users at a cost of $1,500 set up costs and $3,000 per year. Hardin pointed out that the letter the mayor signs will need to be updated before he signs so it only reflects the current and future documents, not scanning the old documents. Hardin felt the price USArchives is charging was too high for storage. The mayor said they are also providing the interface service. Hardin still thought the cost was too much, but the council was pleased that agendas, recordings of meetings and other materials will be available on the web. The resolution passed 5-0.

5. Discussion of Land Use Attorney: The mayor felt there were some potential disagreements coming up with the Point Ruston development and he wanted to be sure the town was taking all appropriate steps as the process moves along. He noted that Point Ruston had sued the town twice before and he wants to avoid a third if possible. He talked to AWC (the town's insurance carriers) and he was hopeful they would cover some of the cost for a special attorney. He will probably be proposing a budget revision to cover this work.

Hedrick said that his two years on the council had shown him how much time goes into trying to keep the town out of court. He agreed with this idea "given the seemingly disappointing and change in behavior with a certain developer here in town in the last few months and the actions they have taken...." He noted that Ruston settled out of court with AWC money based on AWC's recommendations with this developer before, which he felt made them culpable. Britton noted this was a different matter - a different part of the development, not Stack Hill. Hedrick was still concerned about the potential for being sued by the same developer "who thinks he's found a golden pot to get money out of it" should mean AWC had a vested interest in protecting it (the money). Britton encouraged the town move forward regardless of AWC's help. Hedrick and others will encourage AWC to help Ruston.

Hunt wanted to see the town move forward with hiring a land use attorney. Hardin wanted to know if the town could use a City of Tacoma land use attorneys since much of this development project lies in Tacoma. There was no answer given.

6. Discussion of Easter Egg Hunt/Breakfast: Huson confirmed that the median will not be torn up with the street light project over Easter weekend. He announced the egg hunt will be held on Saturday the 3rd of April, the day before Easter. The mayor's wife, Sherri Forch and maybe Patti Hardin along with the local seniors will host a continental breakfast inside town hall along with the hunt for the kids. Donations of candy or money can be made at town hall. Last year over 3,000 eggs were stuffed and given out. The town will put an announcement in the next newsletter. Sherri Forch said she will announce a "stuffing party" for anyone who wants to help prepare the eggs (usually the two Saturday's before the hunt at town hall).

Claims and Payroll
Hunt asked about the bill for $3,300 for work on two lights on Stack Hill. The mayor informed her the bill was for work at The Commencement, using the developer's deposit to get the correct lights installed. Hunt asked that someone ensure the correct fixture was being installed after the problem on Stack Hill last time. Claims and payroll were approved 5-0.

Mayor's Time
The town planner may have a recommendation for part-time code enforcer for use half a day when needed at $40 per hour. It would save the town planner's time for other tasks.

The mayor noted he had sent an email to the council about Ruston's email system with LESA. He thought the town may have new tenant in school building soon, a company called Tetra Tech who is doing remediation for EPA. He also noted that some residents are finding the costs for undergrounding their utilities are much higher with Qwest and Comcast than other services. The mayor said he is researching why and will want to update the franchise agreements with some of these vendors.

He also mentioned the Adirondack Chair art project. Collett Judd (a local artist and planning commissioner) explained the project to the council. The mayor mentioned the town is considering the idea of getting power to the median to light the chairs at night. Judd said there is discussion of having folks who live on Winnifred volunteer to take the chairs into their yard at night to prevent vandalism.

Council Time
Huson had no comment.

Hedrick had no comment.

Hunt mentioned that Comcast agreement with Ruston had probably expired. Rainier Communication Commission has a new agreement that Comcast had agreed to and suggested Ruston use that new template for a new agreement with them as well.

Hardin updated the council on his research on upgrading the town's office electronic equipment.

Kristovich had no comment.

The meeting adjourned about 8:15 pm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pay Ruston Bills On-Line

The Town of Ruston web page is announcing that residents can now pay their utility bills on-line by registering with Xpress Bill Pay. Have your account number ready and call Town Hall with any questions at (253) 759-3544.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Are you ready to relax? And enjoy some unusual art on Ruston's boulevard? And even help raise money? A group of wonderful local artists have teamed up to bring a fun event to Ruston this summer:

Ruston Arts and Parks

21 Adirondack lawn chairs will grace the Winnifred green from June 21st to July 4th this summer. Each will be uniquely decorated by a local artist. The artists will be invited to hang out with and talk about their creation while the Taste of Tacoma crowds wander past. The chairs will be sold after July 4th to raise money for arts and parks in Ruston.

A call to artists went out today. More information is available on the Ruston-Point Defiance Business District page here... Applications are due by April 15th and work starts on the chairs by May 1st. For more details contact Ginger Kryger at 752-3041 (gingerkryger@comcast.com) or Lucy Davis at 756-5392 (lucydavis@gmail.com).

Facebook and Memories

There's a new Facebook page I stumbled across recently ~ to share memories of life at Ruston Elementary school. Check it out here... and add your memories to the wonderful stories already being told!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Council Meeting Tonight

On tap for the council meeting tonight:
  1. Mo Fesharaki, the town electrician, will discuss electrical service to the median on Winnifred Street.
  2. Ordinance 1308: Approval of a variance from the side yard set back requirement for 5311 N. Shirley (the lot where the house burned down a few months ago).
  3. Budget Discussion

Stop by Town Hall at 7 pm if you can and hear all the juicy details!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Doors Are Open

Second Hand Hound officially opened its doors today. The space is freshly painted and merchandise is making its way out onto to the sales floor. Store owner Joel described today as a "soft" opening, with a big grand opening planned in a couple weeks.

If you want a preview, stop by now. And pick up your goodies before the crowds hit. The shop has everything you'd ever want for your hound. There may be a kitty corner coming soon too. Let you dog-loving neighbors know about this unique place too ~ invite everyone to welcome Second Hand Hound to Ruston!

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Neighbors

The News Tribune is reporting that Point Defiance Zoo has two new artic foxes in residence, Cho Cho and Dudlee. They'll be white for a few more weeks, so get down to check them out. The zoo is now open 9:30 til 4 pm daily.

Council Meeting Notes: Feb. 16, 2010

Meeting materials available on Ruston Reports here...

Mayor Hopkins called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm. All the elected officials were present. The agenda was approved after it was amended to add staff reports and have the business items changed to 1) US Archives 2) discussion of a car show on Winnifred Street and 3) Ordinance 1306. The minutes for the regular council meetings of Jan. 4th, Jan. 19th and Feb. 1st and the associated study sessions were approved with a vote of 5-0. Council Member Hunt said she was very pleased with minutes. Council Member Huson liked that they were more informative than in the past.

Staff Reports
Police: Chief Kunkel informed the council that the department has the original bid on the proposed security upgrade at police office and is waiting for second bid. He outlined the types of calls for January, which included a suicidal subject. Two of the police cars now have the E-ticket system installed. Huson noted that 13 of 100 calls last month were from the Unicorn Tavern. Kunkel explained that the security/bar checks are listed as a call, even if there is no trouble reported at that location.

Fire: Chief Torbet said there were only had 4 calls in January, with two at the same address. He noted that they have added training on Tuesday nights (in addition to the regular training on Thursdays) to bring new fire fighters up to speed. Hunt complimented both chiefs on their dress uniforms. Council Member Hardin noted that the city of Woodway had contacted Ruston for help with putting together a volunteer fire department and appreciated all the great input from Chief Torbet.

Public Comment
Terry Knapp wanted to know if picketers at Point Ruston were gone. The mayor told him the town is still waiting on a court case before send letter to them.

Sherri Forch commented on drill she witnessed taking place with various emergency responders in the tunnel. She was glad to see the advance preparation.

Dan Wombacher asked for help with a proposed short plat on his property. He has been working on the issue since last September after being told by the Pierce County assessor office that he could do a segregation to divide the property. The town planner denied that request saying a subdivision was required, but later told Wombacher that an application for a boundary line adjustment would be needed. Wombacher outlined numerous steps he has gone through. The mayor attempted to stop his public comment at the two-minute limit, but the council allowed him to finish outlining his case. Wombacher ended by asking the mayor and council to direct the town planner to approve his short plat request. There was no response from the mayor or council.

Don Torbet thanked the mayor and others for all the personal time they give to the town.

1. US Archives Update: The mayor described the trial on-line site for town documents. He noted that it has space to hold town emails, something that appealed to him since he has reached capacity with the current email service. The town web site can be linked to this resource so residents can find resolutions, ordinances, building codes and laws, meeting minutes, etc. The contract as proposed would be to build this on-line site, with a second project later to scan and add all the old documents. Hopkins supports the contract, which calls for $1,500 dollars for set up and $250 per month thereafter (maximum storage of 2.5 gigs per month for up to 5 concurrent users).

The full price list is still coming. More storage can be added with an increase in the monthly charge. US Archives agreed to provide an estimate for the final amount of storage that the town is likely to need. The trial period was extended for the web site until the next council meeting at the March 1st meeting. Council Member Hedrick asked for a simple spreadsheet showing what on-going costs will be for both US Archives and BIAS. The mayor agreed to provide that along with information on the town's savings from the resulting staff reduction. Hunt solicited volunteers to help prepare the old documents for scanning when the time comes. The mayor recommended a decision on scanning be made after using the web site for a while. Council Member Hardin stated he supports the proposal and wanted the cost information before the meeting so the council can make an informed decision.

2. Car Show on Winnifred Street: Council Member Huson suggested that the town host a car show along Winnifred Street on August 29th. He is co-chair of the Cadillac South Club. The group's annual event includes organized drives culminating in a car show. Hedrick liked the idea of more community events. He felt it was one of the things that set Ruston apart from Tacoma. Huson noted there are usually about 100 cars. Hunt felt it would be good for the business district and wanted to know if there would be vendors at the event. Huson said the group was open to any suggestions and they would pay all town costs. He also mentioned that he will discuss the Easter event at next meeting after he talks to Sherri Forch.

3. Ordinance 1306: Chronic Nuisance (First Reading): Town attorney Britton said this proposal was modeled after Tacoma's ordinance. Since Tacoma's law had stood up to several challenges, he was most comfortable having Ruston adopt something similar. If a property is cited for causing too much trouble within a certain time period, the owner is held responsible. Huson wanted to know if fines listed in the draft ordinance were the maximum available. They match Tacoma's fines, but Britton will check to see if higher fines are possible. Hedrick liked the wide definitions and other provisions. The council then allowed questions from the audience. Sherri Forch recalled a problem in the past with a motor home in the alley behind her house and wanted to know if this ordinance would have helped in that case. Police Chief Kunkel did not think so. Huson read part of the ordinance that he felt might have addressed the problem. Terry Knapp suggested moving the clock so audience members can see it.

Claims and Payroll
Passed 5-0

Mayor's Time
Mayor Hopkins reported that he and Council Members Hunt and Hardin attended the AWC training for newly elected officials. He came away very impressed with the elected officials in Ruston and how professional this group is. The BIAS on-line utility billing starts at end of February. He thanked Hardin for working with him on Valentines Sunday on the town web site. He exploring options for the web site, but the pricing he has found so far is high cost. His brother might be able to give town a better price. He is setting up an interview by Hardin and the current web master. Anyone with ideas on this issue was invited to contact him.

He notified the council that he will be showing space at the school to a company interested in renting 2500 to 5000 square feet. This company, Triple Net, is taking over for MRC Construction on the environmental clean up work for EPA. He is asking for $10 to $12 per square foot, depending on what space is available at the school. They also wanted the soil lab testing space at the school for a similar operation. Hopkins had received an email from former mayor Phil Parker's former fiance and his children wanting to know when the trees Parker had bequeathed would be planted. Hedrick thought there was some discussion for placing them on Stack Hill.

The Burlington Northern Railroad 100 year lease for the right of way through Ruston expired this year. Hopkins has notified them and expects to negotiate a new lease soon. The town has received another request to purchase surplus town property, specifically a right of way near Bennett and Court Streets. He suggests that the town get the property appraised and sell it at full price. He is tasking the real estate committee to come up with a consistent policy for this and any other remaining town property. The fiance report should be available by end of week for December and January. He also reminded the council that someone from the town should be at each business district meeting. Hunt said she attended the last meeting. Finally, the mayor suggested that council members contact state legislators to oppose House Bill 6686. This bill would require towns like Ruston to elect its judge and could impact Ruston's court system.

Council Time
Huson had nothing.

Hedrick suggest talking to Peterson about HB 6686, but had nothing more.

Hunt attended a class in conflict management at the AWC conference. She learned about the phases of group dynamics and was glad to see that the Ruston council is now in a productive group phase.

Hardin also attended the AWC conference and was struck with 3 to 4 hours of instruction from an attorney about all the ways elected officials can get into trouble, especially with email. He suggested the council revise the council policy to include this issue. He also apologized to the clerk-treasurer for the problems with the winzip install.

Kristovich had nothing.

The meeting adjourned a little after 8 pm.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Colleen Marie Dockery

The funeral for one of Ruston's longtime residents will be held today. Colleen Dockery was only in her early 50's, but she was born, raised and settled here in Ruston her whole life. Her mom and dad still live in town. Her dad, Tom Dockery (affectionately known as Doc), worked at the smelter and was Ruston's fire chief back in the day. You can read The News Tribune notice here, and sign the guest book with messages for the family.

Colleen lived just two doors down from us for many years. I remember when she found our cat that had been missing for over two weeks, trapped in the neighbor's basement without food or water. I think she was as excited to see Tinkerbell rescued as we were, a testament to her soft heart.

She was a quiet neighbor whose roots went deep in this community. She saw changes to the landscape and culture of our town, and stuck around when many left. We've lost her memories, her vision of not only how it used to be, but her dreams for our future. It's a dwindling group, these deep-rooted neighbors of ours. I hope we can renew our efforts to talk to them, capture their history and dreams ~ before we lose any more.

Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful

Have a home in need of a new paint job? If you are low-income and disabled or elderly, you might qualify to have the job done for you at no cost. Applications are available at Town Hall and are due by April 15th. A sample letter and eligibility requirements are below.

And it sounds like a wonderful volunteer opportunity for the able-bodied among us. You can get more details on how to help at http://www.paintbeautiful.org/.

It's Official

This hanger was on the doorstep this morning with more details about the smoke testing in the sewers. We are asked to let folks know if we have pets that will home alone during the day; elderly, invalid or someone sleeping in the building or if anyone might have respiratory problems. If you have a basement drain or unused sinks, pour water in them to seal the trap.

If you see smoke in your home or have questions, call Steve Taylor (Ruston Public Works) at 253-759-3544 or Scott Severs (JWM&A) at 360-325-9456. You can click on the image below to enlarge it if you want to read all the details.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zoo Going Green Sunday

Point Defiance Zoo will be feeding green treats to the zoo animals on Sunday in anticipation of Saint Paddy's Day. Stop in to see the polar bears, otters and other munch on special snacks and get in the mood yourself for the human celebration next week! More details here....

Here We Go

The work installing new street lights has begun along Winnifred Street. There is more work planned for Highland and Shirley Streets by next month. The light fixtures should arrive in a few weeks and be ready to grace our streets soon. Please excuse the fuzzy picture - I'm not good with the phone camera...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


UPDATE: Thursday March 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm: The suspect in this assault at Point Defiance was arrested today in downtown Tacoma. More details here...

The News Tribune is reporting that a suspect has been identified and an arrest warrant issued for the assault at Point Defiance. You can read more here...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smoke Testing This Week

If we don't get hit with too much rain on Monday, you can expect to see crews out smoke testing Ruston's sanitary sewer lines beginning Tuesday, March 9th. The tests will run for 4 consecutive days - Tuesday through Friday this week.

The smoke is non-toxic, won't smell up your clothes or catch anything on fire. But if you end up with smoke in your basement, downspout or lawn, it could signal a problem with your sewer line. It should be a fun week, and all for a good cause. When this is all done there won't be any more uncertainty about what happens when someone flushes in Ruston.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ruston: Once Upon A Time

Hopefully you can click on this photo and explore the different neighborhoods as they once were around here. There is no date on this photo, but I'd guess it was taken sometime in the 1940's or 50's. Thank you to Dick Tallman for sharing the memories!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


More goings-on at Point Defiance Park (read The News Tribune story here...)

Study Session: Feb. 16, 2010 (Update On Sewer Project)

At 6:05 pm, the meeting was called to order by Mayor Hopkins. All were present with Council Member Hedrick arriving late. The smoke testing will locate areas where there are illicit discharges into the sanitary sewer. The town engineer provided copies of the notice that went out for similar project in Fircrest that can be used to notify residents of the upcoming work. The smoke testing will take about 4 days for whole town. Notice will be put in next newsletter with a goal to perform the work within a couple of weeks, probably the week of March 8th.

The cost for this investigation is within the estimated budget, but it's not listed in written scope. A change in paperwork will be needed and will be presented at the next meeting on March 1st. The costs break down for this work is two phases with $7,600 for the initial testing and $22,600 for the larger second phase, plus about $600 in other costs; for a $31,800 total budget. The overall budget for this work is $400,000. There may be other costs since the last tv survey of the lines was 14 years ago, and tree root problem in park that needs further investigation. Mayor Hopkins also wanted to find out what is causing problems with the roadway at 51st and Highland, and 49th and Winnifred.

The mayor was concerned about how to approach residents when a problem is identified with a lateral line, especially since the home owner must pay for the repairs from the main line to their home. There were some ideas discussed as possible ways to help property owners with funding/loans for this work. The mayor wants to survey the town on a block by block basis in case it may show some pockets of low-income households. Those low-income areas may qualify for more outside loans.

Problem lateral lines to homes may not be discovered until the line is dug up, so having a plan on how to address them needs to be in place before work begins. One approach on laterals is for the town contractor to replace lateral line, or the property owner could hire their own qualified contractor.

Council Member Hunt wanted to know if any dirt was expected to be turned over this year. The engineer said the goal was yes, unless solving the lateral line issue takes longer. The fire department needs to be notified this coming so they can be ready in case there are any panic calls. The engineer encouraged the town to find ways to educate folks that this is non-toxic smoke, not harmful to breathe, won't cause offensive smell to clothes, etc.

Connection fees were discussed since several homes are connected without paying a connection fee, and a few houses are on their own system with pumps to get their sewer discharge to the main line. This may be the time to require these owners to connect into the public system like everyone else.

The meeting adjourned at about 6:55 pm.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Shop Opening Soon

It's official! The former Clever store will continue in the Ruby Tuesday tradition with a new shop named Secondhand Hound. Longtime residents will remember Ruby Tuesday's as a very successful vintage clothing store in that same space a decade ago - a popular spot for the area teenagers looking for a fun alternative for that funky, cool look.

Angie and Joel hope to be open in a couple of weeks, by mid-March. They'll be launching a website soon, too. We'll get more details when the new owners have time to catch their breath. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Council Meeting Tonight

The next regular council meeting starts in about 15 minutes. To whet your appetite and entice you to attend, here are what your elected officials will be discussing tonight:
  1. Ordinance 1306: Second reading (and final adoption) of a chronic nuisance ordinance aimed at controlling the Unicorn Tavern or other "nuisances".
  2. Ordinance 1307: First reading on a law to control unauthorized discharges into Ruston's sanitary sewer system.
  3. Resolution 464: Authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with Morrissettee and Associates for smoke testing the sanitary sewers.
  4. Resolution 464: Authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with USArchives for electronic storage, scanning and search of the town's documents.
  5. Discussion of a land use attorney for Ruston.
  6. Discussion of the Town Easter egg hunt and pancake breakfast.