Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
We lose more than a business, we loose part of our history with this closure. I hope they can get things up and running again soon. Even with this short-term absence, it is a good opportunity to say thank you ~ for so much more than the taxes paid. You are part of us, Shaffer family. Thank you for 55 years of service ~ we hope for another 55 to start soon!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Today was the annual dinner for former Asarco Tacoma employees. At my first dinner 16 years ago there were almost 200 attendees. There were less than 38 today. As I was preparing to go, I thought of how much I enjoy catching up with old friends at these dinners ~ only to realize how many were no longer living. As the sound of the smelter whistle was played once again after reading the names of this year's deceased, I was struck with what a treasure we have lost.
Not everyone appreciates what these hard working people gave to this community. Smelter work is dirty, sweaty and real. It paid well enough put generations of kids through college, providing opportunities that their parents only dreamed of. The medical clinic treated the whole family for free ~ Doctor Pinto and Nurse Johnny were legends. It was a big family, with pride in producing the copper vital to America and building strong connections.
The dinner tonight held a special treat. A 93-year old gentleman played his guitar while a lovely lady sang a few old songs. Everyone joined in the chorus of Home On The Range and Amazing Grace. It was a brief glimpse into a different era, where entertainment was simple and folks enjoyed just being together.
As I left I was struck with the fact that my granddaughter will never know the details of this generation. She'll read the history books, maybe listen to some of my stories ~ but she won't be as close to those who actually lived out this history. I have been lucky to work with so many great men and women. It has been a privilege to touch history through these friends. An era comes to a close ~ one that gave us a strong foundation and built a positive future. May we remember and appreciate...
Ryan Morris thanked Kristovich for her help bringing attention to their situation with the sewers.
1. Pioneer Baseball Club: Kristovich only had a brief initial conversation with Ryan Rhodes, who is looking for baseball field for his club. They may be willing to help make improvements to the field. They have funding/resources that Ruston does not. The improvements would include taking over the basketball area. They are working with someone from the Angels professional team. Kristovich said she would keep the council informed of progress.
2. Ordinance 1310 - Removing town lighting and signage code (Second Reading): The town planner recommending waiting on passing this ordinance until after the new street lights are illuminated to be sure they are what the council wants to require. Council Member Hunt confirmed this would only apply to new construction, but that it applies to both residential and commercial construction. It was confirmed that the exterior lighting on The Commencement condos does not meet current code, so this ordinance does not impact on that issue. The ordinance was tabled until the June 7th meeting with a vote of 5-0.
3. Establishing maximum load limits on non-arterial streets (First Reading): The town planner reminded the council that this came out of the discussion last October as a way to keep large trucks from using Baltimore Street once it is reconnected to Ruston Way. The town engineer wanted to change the ordinance to specifically name Baltimore Street.
4. Ordinance 1312 - Requiring connection to Town sewer system and setting fees for that connection (First Reading): Although there is a $2,000 fee to hook into Ruston's sewer system, it is not reflected in the town code. The fees will go into the sewer reserve fund to help pay for future improvements. Hunt noted that the connection fees were clearly listed in the building permit and fee schedules. This issue was reviewed by the planning commission when she was a member and they decided not to list a specific fee so the code would not have to changed every time the amount of the fee changed. The town attorney noted that part of the reason for this ordinance is aimed at existing homes that never paid a contention fee.
5. Resolution 470 - Authorizing the town maintenance department to take action to get the sidewalk repaired at 52nd and Winnifred: Council Member Hardin introduced his neighbor where the sidewalk is located, noting that he was one of the longest standing residents in Ruston. The neighbor explained how the situation had developed and his problems dealing with the town on some aspects. The mayor apologized for the problems he had experienced and promised to work with him to get things resolved. The motion to approve this resolution was withdrawn with the caution that it will be considered again at the next meeting if the sidewalk is not repaired by then.
6. Public hearing on vacating portions of Gallagher Way: Point Ruston had made this request and asked for expedited approval so they could proceed with the LID improvements in this area. Gary Peterson from Point Ruston outlined the request. Ruston staff then explained their recommendation that council not vacate the property until the LID improvements had been completed. After a lengthy discussion, the public was allowed to comment. Morris did not want Baltimore to be a major arterial street. Sherri Forch wanted to know when Bennett Street would reopen (in front of The Commencement building).
Claims and Payroll
Mayor Hopkins reported that the new Town Hall scanner had been installed and was much faster than the old one. All current documents are now scanned. He is working to get the BIAS accounting system integrated with the US Archive system for electronic storage of all the files. The budget reports are now available on-line (I think only to the council).
The mayor thanked Hardin for attending the staff meeting that afternoon. He also thanked Kevin Moser for all his work on the community center remodel. The floor looks great and the kitchen is almost ready. A open house is planned soon.
He noted that Safe Built had a new building inspector today. He was not pleased with the turnover rate there. He then read a letter from Bert Joyce thanking the fire department for their help on a recent call.
The mayor had been contacted by AWC to participate in a seminar designed to help small cities. After learning what Ruston is doing, AWC wants Ruston to train their consultant. There is a cost to attend the workshop, but there may be some good information to be learned on personnel issues. He will try to work out a trade (training for no-cost attendance).
Huson did not have any comments.
Hedrick mentioned he had met with the police department about security for their space again. He is hoping to swap space with some other tenants in the building. He met with the fire department to work out how to get them "to the next level". One idea is to allow a stipend, but he planned on talking to the town attorney to be sure they did not set up anything where the fire fighter would be considered an employee.
He also hoped to continue talks between the town about the garbage truck repairs and the homeowner who was billed for those repairs. He liked the new street lights and asked that Mary Joyce be invited to the community center open house. He mentioned that he had been contacted by two residents recently who said they were not attending council meetings anymore because they are "too boring." He had also been approached by someone interested in putting in a drive-thru espresso stand in Ruston. He directed to contact the town planner to explore getting the zoning code changed.
Hunt confirmed that the new Comcast contract had not been signed yet. She was pleased with the new contract and noted a feature that will allow an additional fee to be charged so that the council can start broadcasting their meetings if they choose.
Hardin thanked Hunt for her work on the Comcast agreement.
Kristovich did not have any more comments.
The meeting adjourned at about 8:15 pm.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Fire: Chief Torbet reported only two calls during March. They have begun planning for the Taste of Tacoma and other summer events.
Police: Chief Kunkel thanked those who worked on the Easter event. He reminded everyone there would be street closures on May 2nd as the Tacoma City Marathon came through town. He was not able to locate grant monies to help pay for the police station security upgrades. He is talking with the mayor about doing the work in phases. He outlined the department's recent training, including emotional survival for police officers.
Ryan Morris asked for an update on the sewer project since it will impact their development in the area.
Sherri Forch liked the work the street light installation crews are doing and is excited to see the new lights working soon.
Jim Wingard provided input on the town's dealings with the Unicorn Tavern and suggested caution to avoid another lawsuit.
Ken Brown is looking forward to working with the town on behalf of the business district on the street scape designs. He also supports the proposed nuisance ordnance.
Beth Torbet let the council know that the business district will sponsor a water station for the marathon and invited helper to join them (bring your cowbells). She also invited anyone to join Jane's Walk for a neighborhood stroll designed to inform and work for improvements.
1. EPA Update: EPA project manager Kevin Rochlin provided this update:
- Point Ruston has re-desgined the impermeable cap that must be installed across the property and hired Hydrometrics as project manager. Hydrometrics has a lot of experience on this site.
- The dirt piles will be re-graded over the summer in preparation for the impermeable cap being installed during the next construction season.
- Point Ruston will be purchasing part of the Burlington Northern Railroad right-of-way for the new road alignment.
- EPA has now taken over the yard replacement project. There are still many more homes to sample, and some will need soil replacement.
- The yard project will be going out to bid in May. He provided the pre-bid packet to the council.
- EPA is working to bring Karen Pickett on board to continue working on the yard project.
- Department of Natural Resources expects to remove the docks this summer.
There were no questions from the council and only a few questions from the public (was my lot tested, confirmed the BN property will be cleaned up, when will development start).
2. Ordinance 1309 - Dissolution of the Tree Committee (Second Reading): Passed 4-0 with no discussion.
3. Ordinance 1310 - Sign and Lighting Code (First Reading): The town planner outlined recent concerns about light trespass and nighttime sky light pollution. The planning commission has studied the issue and suggests separating the light and sign sections of the code. Planning commission chair Kevin Moser pointed out one goal is to create a unifying look for the town with street lighting. Council Member Hardin confirmed this new code would only apply to new construction. He was concerned with the ordinance requiring fixtures be purchased from only one source to remain consistent.
4. Bonney Lake for Code Enforcement: Bonny Lake ready to go once the Mayor signs this contract. Passed 4-0 with no discussion.
5. Comcast Agreement: The town attorney noted that the contact before the council was already approved by Comcast and would bring 5% (rather than 3%) of the cable revenue to Ruston. Passed 4-0 after correcting some typographical errors. Hardin thanked Hunt for all her work on this issue even though she was absent from this meeting.
Claims and Payroll
Approved 4-0 with no discussion.
None since Mayor Hopkins was absent.
Huson complimented the town clerk on how well she is doing on the meeting minutes. He thanked Hedrick for serving as mayor pro-tem. He also noted that 10% of the March police calls were from the Unicorn Tavern.
Hedrick had a resident call about a sewer cap that was installed recently. He wanted to know what the notification process is when there a failure of a private sewer connection and how the owner is notified of that cost.
Hardin wanted to see the ordinance on the proposed for Point Ruston street vacation well in advance of the meeting that they would have to vote on it.
Kristovich reported that there are now 19 application for 21 Chair project. There is reception planned for June 21st from 5 to 7 pm. Help is for various parts of the project. She also wanted the town to help the Morris family with their home construction as much as possible since they must complete construction by the end of June to qualify for one of the Obama program incentives.
The meeting adjourned at about 7:50 pm.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
But first, please join your neighbors on May 28th at dusk in the median at 51st Street and Winnifred to watch the new street lights come to life. Welcome in summer with long-awaited new lights, warm nights and good neighbors!
6 pm Study Session
Hedrick arrived late. Steve Taylor, head of Ruston's public works, was present to talk about garbage services. The new accounting service, BIAS, had discovered a 5 year trend where the town is loosing money on some accounts, such garbage. Right now, about 45% of the maintenance crew's time is spent collecting garbage and recycle items. The mayor noted that the Town's recycle service is free to residents, but the town pays for the disposal.
The mayor contacted University Place (UP) Refuse Service to see if they would interested in servicing Ruston. The company services both UP and Fircrest. The mayor was concerned about both the fact that the refuse service is not paying for itself and that the manual labor (lifting cans, ect.) results in the likelihood of injuries to the maintenance staff.
He had learned that if Ruston were to create a "green policy", the town may qualify for more grants by doing things like providing larger garbage containers and only picking up every other week (reducing the carbon footprint). Neil from UP Refuse provided some background on the company (small, family owned business for over 4o years). Their services are automated now to reduce injury. The rates they currently charge were listed on a handout provided to the council.
The company has an agreement with Pierce County to allow disposal to county landfills once a year at no charge, and with Tacoma Landfill to allow their customers to bring in their household hazardous waste at no charge. Taylor asked if there was any lower rate offered to seniors like is currently allowed in Ruston. Neil said they have a smaller container that would be a lower cost.
Currently the town charges $23 with no recylcing, $19 with recycling. UP Refuse would provide containers for both garage and recycling, no different rate. Hunt confirmed that glass would not be recycled with this new service. She also asked other logistical questions.
Steve noted that as the town's population increases, more people would need to be hired if the town were to continue to provide its own garbage service. Taylor confirmed that the customer would need to replace their own containers if lost or stolen with UP Refuse, although that policy is not strictly enforced. The mayor noted that The Commencement has an on-site compactor and it's possible Point Ruston may also provide the same.
Neil suggested possibly modeling a contract after the University Place contract and rates. Hunt wanted to know if they could arrange for a spring clean up day, where extra material is picked up or collected at a local pick up point. The mayor said that this issue would be talked about in the coming months. The town will provide a count of the current garbage accounts so UP Refuse can begin calculating potential rates.
7:05 called to order. After roll call (all present) and flag salute, the agenda was approved after adding contracting with Bonney Lake for code enforcement. The meeting minutes from the last meeting were approved with no discussion.
Sherrie Forch thanked everyone for their help with the Easter Egg event. She was opposed to the proposed side yard setback variance.
Edie Tallman wanted to know if the mayor had been able to get a separate zip code for Ruston. He has not had time to focus on that yet.
1. Power for Winnifred Medians: Mo Fesharaki provided the cost estimates for providing power to the medians on Winnifred as requested by the council. The cost is $59,047 for the median from 53th-54th, and lower for the others. He then discussed options for installation. The cost will be less if it is done now while the contractor is on-site for the current project. Funding could come out of the electrical utility reserve fund. The council decided not spend the money at this time.
2. Police Station Security: Hedrick and Chief Kunkel outlined improvement to the security of the Ruston police station. The hope is to replace the windows, doors, install security cameras and concrete barriers. The chief also wants to upgrade the lighting and replace the 1960's era carpet. There was more discussion about security cameras. The mayor and chief had discussed looking for grant monies, but they may be hard to come by and take some time to secure. The option of using the Capital Improvement Fund was discussed. Chief Kunkel acknowledged that their department does get threats. Hedrick noted the total cost (minus carpet) is about $46,000. No decision was reached.
3. Business District Update: The mayor felt the business district was doing a lot of good things in the community and felt they should be given regular time at the meetings to provide updates on their activities. Beth Torbet, the current president, gave some background on the district. The district is current working on local projects like the chairs, car show and others. They have a design team working on street scape suggestions such as coloring, lighting, signage, benches, flower planters, etc. Huson attend the last meeting and was impressed with the level of energy and organization. He also mentioned that Heidi Kress is putting together a walking map for the district. Beth pointed out that they are doing a membership drive and presented Hunt with certificates for her three businesses that recently joined the business district.
4. 49th Street Sewer Pump Replacement: Jerry Morrissette explained the situation with several homes that are using a pump system - to see if there were some options to add these homes on a gravity-feed system during the other planned sewer upgrades. The cost would be about $74,000 from the sewer reserve fund. Hardin offered to recuse himself from voting or discussion since some of the effected properties are owned by close personal friends. No one asked that he withdraw. Hedrick confirmed that this project is about 75% engineered now.
Huson wanted to know how the current system is working. Morrissette said the current 5 homes on the grinder system were installed in about 2000. It was paid for by those homes so they could develop those lots. The council directed staff to draw up a resolution to finish the engineering and a requirement that these homes connect to the new line (and pay a connection fee if they have not paid one in the past).
Morrissette reported on the results on the smoke testing. He said things went well. The private property connections were better than expected. There were some problems with some catch basins in the public right of ways.
5. Ordinance 1308 - Side yard Set Back Variance (Second Reading): Hunt noted that she walked this lot and she was having a hard time with the proposal. The ordinance passed with a vote of 4-1 with Hunt voting no.
6. Ordinance 1309 - Dissolution of the Tree Committee (First Reading): The mayor has proposed this because he feels the work is better suited to be performed by the planning commission.
7. Resolution 466 - Point Ruston LID: The town attorney explained that this was a measure to clarify the previous LID agreement. Passed 5-0.
8. Resolution 467 - Set Date For Public Hearing for Vacation of Portions of Gallagher Way/51st Street: The town attorney outlined that the new alignment of Ruston Way dictates that Ruston vacate some portions of the current right of way. Point Ruston is asking for expedited approval at the same meeting right after the public hearing to help speed up the work. Hardin was concerned about making a decision at the same night as the hearing and had some other questions that he wanted addressed before making a decision. He was not pleased with having to hurry something like this to help the developer and he wanted to confirm that Point Ruston will pay for any town staff time needed to review this proposal. Passed 5-0.
9. Contracting with Bonney Lake for Code Enforcement: Town Planner Rob White explained why he suggested this arrangement - that Bonney Lake is looking at reducing hours for their inspectors and Ruston is looking at having someone other than the planner available for advising on minor issues and performing the inspections. A formal resolution will be prepared for the next meeting.
Claims and Payroll
Mayor Hopkins reported on his research on using the state Public Works Trust Fund for grants. Applications are due in May, but Ruston will need to update its policies and plans before qualifying for these monies. He will not pursue grants this year, but will be working to update the Comprehensive Plan so the town is prepared to make application when a project ready.
The mayor is working to develop a "green policy" for the town. He thanked everyone for their work on the Easter Egg Hunt. He will be purchasing some accounting software to help the clerk. The community center now has the sheet rocking done. He wants to outsource the resurfacing of the hardwood floor for $2,100. He wanted to know if the council would agree to a loan that would be repaid by rental fees.
The mayor is considering contracting out some of the commercial business fire inspections.
Huson felt that most of the work on the Easter event was done by Sherri Forch. He also expressed pleasure at how organized the mayor is - that they had gotten through 9 business items at this meeting by 8:3o was amazing. He was glad to see a council that was willing to work together in "civil and ... constructive manner" and felt the meetings were somewhat pleasant to attend now.
Hedrick also thanked everyone for the Easter event, despite the cold weather. He also thanked the mayor for the positive changes he has brought during his tenure as mayor.
Hunt said she is still working with the mayor on the updated contract with Comcast. She wants to see Ruston receive 5% of revenues rather than the current 3%. She also thanked everyone for the Easter event.
Hardin especially thanked his wife for her work on the Easter event - and thanked the staff for their work on various issues. The new scanner for town hall is being order the next week.
Kristovich reminded everyone that the applications for the chair project are due by April 18th. It appeared that there were more applications from artists than there will be chairs, so the committee will be able to select artists for the project.
Beth Torbet added a note that Jane's Walk will be held on May 2nd.
The meeting was adjourned at about 8:50 pm.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
It was only right that Ruston neighbors be the ones to bring little dog home... after all, he could have been named after the town for all we know!