Wednesday, June 30, 2010

History Discoveries

Here are photos of maps I've discovered. The first is about 1890, about 16 years before Ruston incorporated. The other two are insurance maps showing the existing structures in 1929 (hand-drawn). You can click on the image to enlarge it...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Study Session Notes: June 21, 2010

The sound quality on the recording is very poor at the new location, so I was not able to pick up all the discussion. I am relying solely on the tape since I was not able to attend this meeting.

The study session began at 6:05 pm with everyone preseny but Council Member Hardin, who was excused from the meeting. After agenda approval, the mayor began discuss Ordinance 1313 (regulating adult entertainment) by having the town attorney introduce an attorney who has worked on this issue with the City of Lakewood (I could not hear his name).

The Lakewood attorney gave some background, including their city's experience with organized crime associated with strip clubs in their city, as well as other problems. Some of these clubs in Lakewood have closed down due to enforcement action. The city focused on the worst ones first until they got them to shut down, then moved on to another business.

He described their various court challenges, including limiting where these types of businesses could be located. Council Member Hunt asked why the town cannot outright ban this type of business (because of the right to free speech under the First Amendment). The mayor is hopeful that since there is currently not any of this type of business in Ruston that the town could take a hard line. He was told caution was still needed.

Not allowing adult entertainment to operate next to 'sensitive' businesses (like a daycare or church) is a principle that holds up as long as certain criteria is met. Council Member Hedrick confirmed that license based restrictions was better than zoning restrictions. Hunt wanted to know if a municipality could charge an exorbitant fee for this type of business as a deterrent (yes). The town attorney cautioned about using zoning to keep these businesses out of town because you are effectively telling people they 'cannot' operate the business (i.e. cannot exercise their free speech). Hedrick confirmed that the Lakewood attorney had read the Ruston proposed ordinance, and that it is very close to the Lakewood ordinance. Hedrick noted that the town is trying to protect the one entity in town that is both a church and daycare center, and hoped that the courts would take that into consideration.

The mayor wanted to take a two-fold approach, working with the planning department as well as this licensing ordinance. Hunt wanted to know if the public should get involved. The town attorney liked the idea of a public hearing at a regular meeting. Hunt also suggested a survey in the next town newsletter. Town attorney Britton noted that both written or oral comment is allowed for those that cannot attend the hearing. Council Member Huson confirmed that adult bookstores could be addressed with zoning, but any 'exhibition' (i.e. viewing videos, etc.) would be included in the definition of adult cabaret so it would controlled under this ordinance.

Since its too late to get the notice in the next newsletter, the public hearing will be held at the first meeting in August. The council then allowed comment and questions from the audience. After Lynette Hopkins clarified that these types of licenses are only allowed in the commercial zone, the study session adjourned at about 6:50 pm.

Initial Design Proposal

For those that might be interested, this is the first very rough concept of a new baseball field at Rust Park. At their June 7th meeting the council asked Pioneer Baseball Club to prepare more specific drawings for consideration. The club was also going to provide a sample contract. You can click on the image below to enlarge.

Monday, June 28, 2010

4th of July Parade!

UPDATE: Monday, 12:28 am: North Slope Historic District is having a kids parade on July 4th too (check out the notice here...). They encourage anyone with instruments to bring them to play as they march too. Well behaved pets can be decorated and walk. And they even have a prize for the best float. I don't think we are that organized, but I'll chip in for a free banana split at Don's for the bestest decorated bike if someone wants to judge it...
Ruston's young community organizer and artist is back at it this year. Isabelle Davis has created this poster to let folks know we will have another 4th of July parade for the kids in Ruston this year.

Children young and old should decorate their bikes, wagons, scooter (non-motorized) and gather in front of Don's Market (51st and Winnifred) at 10 am on the 4th. We'll parade down Winnifred Street to 54th and back. All the adults without kids in town are encouraged to watch and cheer from the sidewalk ~ so everyone is invited! Hope to see you all there...

Friday, June 25, 2010

In The News

Our Adirondack chair display has made the newspaper. It is lead arts and entertainment story in The News Tribune today (click here) and one of the lead stories in the Tacoma Weekly this week (click here). It nice to see some positive coverage of Ruston ~ way to go Ginger and Lucy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Finally Time

We've talked about it for decades. Boxes of old photos and notes are gathering dust in the attic, or worst yet those boxes have been lost when one of our precious memory-keepers dies. It's now time to dig out the old pictures and gather them all in one book.
Arcadia Publishing will be doing a book on Ruston history. I'm working to gather a good cross section of our history, mostly in photos. Anyone who has old photos of the town or north end, Ruston Elementary school or classes, the Asarco smelter, Point Defiance park or other related material, please contact me at
Although I've done a fair amount of research already, I thought I'd whet your appetite with yesterday's discoveries:
  • Ruston was the scene of some of the worst violence of the infamous labor unrest of 1913-14. The smelter was a focus for pro-union forces and workers fought for new rights. Striking employees and their sympathizers marched on the company offices in late 1913. A gun battle on the streets of Ruston ensued, lasting 8 days. The area was in chaos as bullets flew past children and "the entire neighborhood... was in a state of high terror..." (Tacoma Daily News, Jan. 8, 1914). Young smelter worker Andrew Aronke was killed. His fiance, Chilo Stanich, wore widow's reeds as she led the the funeral procession while another girl wore a bridal veil behind her, apparently a Croatian tradition when an engaged man died.
  • The earliest reference to Ruston I've found so far comes from the Tacoma Daily Ledger on Dec. 2, 1890, titled "No Town of Swansea". It reads: "The scheme to incorporate a town in the location of the smelter north of the city has been compromised by the people and parties interested in that part of town agreeing not to incorporate into the new town of Swansea, provided the city would not extend its limits so as to take them in. This, it is understood, the city has agreed to do and there will consequently be no new town started."

Please dig in your memory boxes and let me know if you find more treasures!

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer ~ Ruston Style

It was a great kick off for a one-of-a-kind event in Ruston tonight. About 100 visitors came down (or stopped as they drove or jogged by) to view 21 unique paintings on Adirondack chairs. 21 chairs to celebrate June 21st, the first day of summer.

About of a third of the chairs have already sold, with opening bids from $150 to $275. The chairs with more than one interested party were able to offer more than the opening bid, with the top chair so far selling for $600. Net proceeds go to Ruston Arts and Parks for new art projects in the Ruston-North Tacoma area. The local business district was able to arrange for Tacoma Neighborhoods Together, the charitable arm of the business districts, to serve as a tax deductible umbrella for both the donations from the artists and the chair purchasers.

Ginger and Lucy report there is even more interest from the arts community, so expect an even greater variety of chairs next time. The dynamic duo has not decided yet when they will organize the next event, but given the interest it may become an annual event. Look for news stories coming up in The News Tribune and the Tacoma Weekly soon.

The chairs will be on display daily until at least Thursday, and hopefully most the new owners will loan their new art piece through the Taste of Tacoma. It would be nice to have something beautiful for all those out-of-towners to see when they stroll through town this weekend.

Study Session and Council Meeting Tonight

There is only one thing on the agenda for the regular council meeting tonight, renewing the contract for the public defender. The bigger issue is the study session, where a new section of code will be discussed that controls the licensing of adult entertainment in Ruston.

You can review the meeting materials on Ruston Reports by clicking here (council meeting) or (study session). Council Member Hunt noted at the last meeting that the study session was to get more information "into the record". Public comment is usually not allowed during study sessions, but you can listen to the discussion.

Please note the study session will be held at the same time as the reception for the artful chairs, so stop by to take a look on your way over to the meeting.

Today. 5 PM. Ruston. Be there.

21 spectacular distinctive Adirondacks on display, created by 21 very talented local artists. The reception runs from 5 to 7 pm on the median in front of Town Hall (51st and Winnifred). These pictures don't come close to showing the color and detail on these works of art ~ come see them for yourself!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tunnel Closure Delayed

The News Tribune is reporting that the tunnel will stay open at least another 6 months, thanks to wet dirt and permit delays. Read all the details here...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In The News

Our Ruston Liquor Store had a nice write up in the Weekly Volcano. The author notes the friendly customer service, the great selection and short lines. You can read the article by clicking here....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reception Next Monday

Seattle has its Pigs on Parade, Tacoma its Traveling Suitcases; now Ruston has added to the list by inviting 21 local artists to create masterpieces on Adirondack chairs. The results are spectacular and will be displayed on the town's quaint grassy boulevard from June 21st to July 4th. The event kicks off with a reception next Monday, June 21st from 5 to 7 pm on the median 51st and Winnifred Streets.

21 artists from Everett to Olympia have jumped on board, donating their talent to create distinctive works of art that will be sold to the highest bidder. Net proceeds benefit Ruston Arts and Parks, leaving a lasting legacy for the community to enjoy.

Stop in Monday, or come by on your way to the Taste of Tacoma. For more details, contact Lucy Davis at (253) 756-5392 or Ginger Kryger at (253) 752-3041.

Tiger Cubs

You can check out our newest neighbors who just made the national scene. NBC's Good Morning America aired a segment on the Point Defiance Zoo's new tiger cubs this morning. You can view the story here....

Tunnel Closure Still Coming?

There was an interesting letter to the editor in The News Tribune asking when the tunnel bypass road would be completed. Point Ruston responded in the comment section, stating that the project has been delayed by several permit appeals and lawsuits. It sounds like they have won on the legal side and can now proceed with the work. Read the details here....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Flags

The new flags are proudly flying over Ruston just in time for July 4th. They sure look great!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wine and Roses

Our neighbor is hosting a nice party this Friday. You can enjoy wine and roses at the Point Defiance Rose Garden from 5:30 until dusk. Tickets are $75. Click here for more details.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nice Weekend

Sunset over Ruston tonight... the phone camera does not do it justice. It was a very nice weekend... summer has arrived at last.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Council Meeting Notes: June 7, 2010

The meeting began on time will all elected officials present. The town clerk was on vacation, so town attorney Britton opened the meeting and did the role call. A 20 minute executive session to discuss potential litigation and real estate matters was added at the end of the agenda and the Ryan Rhodes presentation was moved to the end; after which the agenda was approved. There were no minutes to approve (or background packets).

General Public Comments
Terry Knapp asked for more clocks in the room and complained about how hard it is to hear the council discussion.

Jim Wingard noted that the council is looking more like Tacoma with their desk raised above the audience. All that is missing is the bulletproof glass. He also noted the room echos and it is challenging to hear the discussion. He reviewed the casino lawsuit and warned the council not repeat their mistakes with how they treat the Unicorn Tavern.

I announced that I am starting work on a Ruston history book and asked for anyone with old photos to contact me.

Beth Torbet asked of the town could require the promoter for The Taste of Tacoma to provide garbage cans and port-a-potty's. She wanted to know when the flags would be put up on Pearl Street and asked the council to consider sprucing up the light poles in that area. Many are rusted and faded. The business district has asked Tacoma to paint crosswalks at 51st and Pearl and she hoped Ruston would support that action. She asked the council to waive the requirement for a temporary business licence from the vendors at the car show event in August.

Sherri Forch said things are just about ready to get the flags out. She has purchased all new flags and is hoping for donations to offset her costs. She encouraged the council to move their desk so they are on the same level as the audience.

Fred Byzinker wanted to know who authorized the locate company to come into his yard and spray paint. The mayor will check into the issue.

Marla Miller encouraged the town to update the message at town hall to include information about renting the community center.

Kevin Moser noted the new street lights were working on Stack Hill now and hoped the council would support the planning commissions recommendations on light standards for Ruston (Ordinance 1310).

2. Ordinance 1310 - relating to land use and zoning, removing existing lighting standards from the current code (Third Reading): The town planner explained the background and reasoning for this change. Council Member Hunt wanted to know if it would apply retroactively to existing buildings. She was told no, but the exterior lighting on The Commencement building was already out of compliance and would be required to correct the lights before a permanent occupancy permit would be issued. The ordinance passed 5-0.

3. Ordinance 1313 - requiring bike helmets in Ruston: Council Member Hedrick urged approval. Council Member questioned the definition of go-carts (which also require a helmet). The ordinance passed 5-0.

4. Ordinance 1314 - adding new chapter to Ruston code regarding adult entertainment (Second Reading): The town attorney had given a letter to the council (but not provided to the public), which the council referred to when suggesting they hold a study session on the issue "to get more details into the record." Britton indicated he would have the Lakewood police chief attend to answer questions. This ordinance looks at licencing requirements only; changes to the zoning code would be addressed by the planning commission later. A study session was set for 5:30 pm before the next meeting on June 21st.

5. Resolution 472 - accepting the 2009 town budget: Hunt wanted to know if the report would be available on the town web page. There is a cost to adding that feature and the mayor did not plan on doing it anytime soon. Copies will be available at town hall or residents can bring in a thumb drive for an electronic copy. Hedrick noted it is a good report, laid out well with sufficient details. He thanked the mayor for his long hours "getting it up to speed". Hardin asked about the note on page 6 under contingencies - litigation that there were probable errors. Mayor Hopkins said BIAS is researching that issue. Council Member Huson asked when the $118,726.24 due from developers would be paid. Hopkins reported that The Commencement had paid $30,000 and Point Ruston had paid $34,000 since this report was issued. The budget was accepted 5-0.

1. Ryan Rhodes - proposed improvements to Rust Park: Rhodes explained that his group, Pioneer Baseball Club, has been looking for a place to build a top-notch league field. Rust Play field is a great location. They would provide the funds to make the improvements in exchange for use of the field when they needed it. Rhodes provided a general map of the new layout. Jim Wingard noted that he has a old Ruston baseball jersey and that the former team was named "The Pioneers". After more discussion and questions, the council asked for a more detailed plan. Rhodes will confirm with his board about providing a detailed plan and will get the council an example contract for this type of agreement. A study session was scheduled for 6 pm on July 6th to discuss the issue on more detail.

Claims and Payroll
There were none presented.

Mayor's Time
Hopkins mentioned that the Comprehensive Plan dictates where the town can spend their $247,000 in capital improvement funds. Right now that includes street lights and parks. The plan must be updated by 2010. The town is hoping for state funding to help with the planning costs for that update.

The mayor wants to get the system in place right away to start renting the community center. Hunt and Huson agreed to work that that issue. Hopkins also noted he will be attending the AWC conference in Vancouver since the town qualifies for free admission.

Council Time
Huson supported waiving the requirement for licences for vendors at the car show. He thanked Hopkins and Moser and their wives for all their work on the community center upgrades. He asked that line item be added to the town budget for community events so the town could pay to host events like the open house last week.

Hedrick thanked everyone for their work on the community center and hoped it would be used as a place to bring people together.

Hunt also thanked everyone. She wanted to see a plaque with all the volunteer's names hanging in the center. After confirming the business district will require insurance and that vendors meet other minimum standards (like food handlers cards if needed), she supported waiving the town fees for vendors. The town attorney was directed to prepare a resolution for the next meeting.

Hardin thanked everyone and noted past elected officials that worked to make the community center a reality: Mary Joyce, Bob Everding, Del Brewer, Bob Pudlo, Dan Albertson and Wayne Stebner. He also confirmed that the new street lights on Shirley will go on both sides of the street.

Kristovich stated how much she loved this community and how we work together. She thanked the mayor for his part in that leadership.

The meeting moved into executive session for 20 minutes at about 8:20 pm. They reconvened at 8:45 pm and immediately adjourned with no further discussion.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Planning Commission Meeting Tonight

UPDATE, 5:25 PM: I now have the background information for tonight's meeting available on Ruston Reports here... The agenda for the meeting is below:

The Ruston Planning Commission will hold a meeting tonight at the community center (5219 N. Shirley Street) beginning at 7 pm. They will discuss a special use permit to allow for an auxiliary dwelling unit and an amendment to the text regarding landscaping and screening requirements. I'm having technical difficulties, but I'll get the agenda and background material posted as soon as I can. In the meantime, email if you'd like a copy forwarded to you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ferry Comes Home

Mike Cohen of Point Ruston announced the return of the floating sales center ferry to the project site this weekend. There is no public access yet and not firm date on when the center will open. A public pathway needs to be built and approved before people can be allowed to get onto the former smelter property. But its a welcome sign of progress!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Last Day At Shaffer's Chevron

Today likely is the last day for our locally owned Chevron. The gas has all been sold and items in the store are discounted. Stop in for a bargin and to say goodbye. We will miss you all!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Judge's Ruling

Here is the official judge's ruling on the casino case. There will be no monetary cost to the town, but the gambling tax increase has been voided.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Council Meeting: May 17, 2010

The meeting began at 7:03 pm with all elected officials present. The agenda was approved, as were the minutes with some corrections.

Staff Reports
Fire: Only 2 medical aid calls last month. Their system now uses more categories to describe the seriousness of the aid call. The call used to be listed as basic or advanced life support needed, with advanced being any call considered life-threatening. The new system now lists A through E, with A being the most serious. The two calls for Ruston last month were 1 at the A level and 1 at the B level.

Police: Chief Kunkel was gone at a conference, so Sgt. Lawless gave the report. There have been 3 vehicle prowls reported recently along 49th Street and he encouraged everyone to be watchful. In addition to the month's statistics, he noted the department has a new bicycle for patrol and plans to purchase one more this summer.

General Public Comment
Jim Wingard reported his observations of the casino trial and expressed his concern about how the Unicorn Tavern is being treated.

Sherri Forch asked again when Bennett Street would be reopened. She reported that the food donations left for the mail carrier last week had been stolen. She is opposed to any adult entertainment in Ruston.

Beth Torbet reported on behalf of the business district that she is attending some training on the Main Street development model. The district is helping with the car show on August 29th and may be setting up vendors at the event. She noted that her business was interviewed on KLAY radio and was able to get in lots of promotion for the town.

Ryan Morris thanked the council for their help getting this ready for them to build their home in Ruston.

1. City of Tacoma Presentation: Several staff from Tacoma presented their model for refuse disposal. Garbage would be collected at the curb, with recycle picked up every other week. Customers have the option twice a year to call for pick up of large items and they receive a reduced tipping rate at the dump. The rates run from about $20 a month for a 20-gallon can to $80 for a 90-gallon can. Hedrick and Hardin wanted to know when the last rate increase was and when the next one is anticipated. Rates are analysed annually, with an increase made last year. The rates could increase again next year if needed. Hunt confirmed that Tacoma does not recycle glass. Ruston is currently charging about $20 per can per month.

2. Ordinance 1311 - Maximum Load Limits (Second Reading): I had to step out of the meeting for a moment and did not note what action was taken.

3. Ordinance 1313 - Requiring Bike Helmets in Ruston (First Reading): Several students from Bellermine Prep school attended the meeting. This ordinance grew out of a class civics lesson. After discussion, the town attorney will make some changes and present the ordinance again at the next meeting.

4. Ordinance 1314 - Adult Entertainment Businesses (First Reading): The town attorney noted that Ruston is not allowed to ban these types of businesses outright, but can regulate them before any application is made. He is concerned that one of these businesses might be "coming our way". Rather than control the industry through zoning regulations, this ordinance would use a licensing approach. The town attorney felt that approach had stood up better in court challenges. After discussion, the issue will be brought back at the next meeting.

Hunt wanted the hotel/motel tax on the agenda soon as well.

5. Resolution 471 - Renewing Agreement for Public Defense Services: The consensus was to accept the proposal (which continues the current agreement with a slight cost increase), but it will be brought back at the next meeting along with a budget amendment to address the additional cost.

Claims and Payroll were approved.

Mayor's Time
Mayor Hopkins congratulated Council Member Hedrick on his new daughter. He noted this was the last meeting in the current town hall. The new community center should be ready in time for the next meeting. The open house will held on June 5th from 1 until 4 pm so that Mary Joyce can attend. There will be a street lighting ceremony on May 28th.

Council Time
Huson reported that he met with the town planner on Point Ruston and other issues.

Hedrick asked that the mayor contact a homeowner about the sewer charges for line break on their property (work the town did after a sinkhole developed in an alley and then charged the homeowner).

Hunt confirmed that the contract with Comcast had been signed.

Hardin noted that the sidewalk repair on 53rd and Winnifred should be complete by the next meeting. He felt the town should make a list of all the people who had helped with the community center upgrade.

Kristovich said that Ryan Rhodes should be a the next meeting to talk about his suggestions for upgrading Rust Playfield.

The meeting adjourned at about 8:20 pm.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ruston Gambling Tax Increase Voided

UPDATE, 8:31 PM: The News Tribune has a few more details here... It does not appear the town will have to pay any monetary damages even though the ruling went against them. Since the casino shut down in response to the tax increase, no taxes were paid at the higher rate that would need to be refunded.

Judge Cuthbertson announced his decision in the lawsuit between Point Defiance Casino and Cafe and The Town of Ruston this morning. He ruled that the gambling tax increase was improperly enacted and is therefore void. Ruston's counterclaims were dismissed.

There is no mention of any monetary award in the decision, although the Casino's request for attorney's fees was denied. I am gathering more information, and trying to get the ruling into a format that will allow me to post it. I'll get more details when I can, such as what impact this will have financially on the town.

Point Ruston Progress

The mooring for the Point Ruston floating sales center was installed last week. The ferry/floating sales center will set up shop eventually on the south end of the site. I've asked Point Ruston for an update and will share any progress and timelines as soon as I can.