Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ruston History On Paper

A small part of Ruston's past has been collected in photos and stories; and is finally available to share. Our town history has been important to me for decades; having lived through the tremendous changes we have experienced in this tiny village. My work with Asarco only increased my love for our unique past. I am glad we have captured some of that history before it was lost.

We'll have a book signing party at Ruston Market on Saturday afternoon (see below) and one at the Antique Sandwich Company soon. Or books are available directly from me or at the following locations (that I know of, there are more)...
  • Don's Ruston Market: 5102 N. Winnifred
  • Antique Sandwich Company: N. Pearl and 51st Streets
  • Pacific Northwest Shop: Proctor District
  • Watermark Gift Shop: Downtown Tacoma
Thanks to the many contributors, supporters and fellow lovers of Ruston who helped make this book a reality!        


Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Honor

In honor of a good man, a tree was dedicated in Ruston last spring. Former mayor Phil Parker's contributions were memorialized with the dedication of this tree, bought with funds he donated to the town just before his death. You can read more about the dedication here... Town maintenance men finalized the mounting of the plaque into the marble base this week, completing this space where we can now sit and reflect on those who, like Phil, gave so much to our town.

I was privileged to speak at the dedication ceremony. I thought it would be fitting to share those words now that the memorial is complete:

I wish there was something I could point to in Ruston and say “that’s Phil’s legacy”, but there isn’t any such monument that captures his gift to this town. After almost two decades of selfless service, I’m only left with fleeting memories of the issues he championed. He worked alongside Charlene (Hagen) to upgrade Rust Playfield. He led the effort to install a Big Toy there for his kids and others to enjoy.

He was content to see Ruston remain a bedroom community to the greater Tacoma area. I remember when he fought to purchase the Garrison home across Winnifred Street and build an expanded town hall complex. He served on the fire department; he chaired numerous committees and represented Ruston well to the outside world on important issues like negotiating for redevelopment of the former Asarco site. He was always in the middle of any community event, giving his time and energy to make us better.

 Phil was a quiet man who listened first before giving his opinion. He was fair and willing to change his position if you presented enough evidence to convince him. He was a bulldog on the issues that were important to him. In that he presented a gentle strength – he’d work as long and as hard as it took to complete the task.

 I think one of the reasons we don’t have something concrete to point to as Phil’s legacy is because he wasn’t that kind of man. He would rather work behind the scenes, bringing people together, quietly negotiating an agreement. He recognized and encouraged talent in those around him and easily passed the baton to others if that accomplished the goal.

Even though we don’t have some “glory piece” we can attribute to Phil’s time in leadership here in Ruston, I do know his efforts are a big part of why Ruston still exists today. He worked hard to sustain the town through years of financial struggle while the outside world sat back and waited for us to disappear. Somehow that’s fitting… I think he would want it that way… no big monument with his name in lights… but survival, sustained by hard work and love is his legacy to Ruston. He left us a foundation for a future that we can build on now.

But in many ways this tree will serve as that monument for Phil’s contributions to Ruston. He didn’t build it with his own hands, but it’s a place that reflects the man – quiet, beautiful, strong, a place to pause and reflect on the important things.

In the end, it’s not Phil’s legacy to Ruston that matters. His legacy to world, as it is for any of us, is his children. He loved you Courtney, Kim and Aaron… Each breath you take is in his honor, you carry his legacy of love to a new generation. You can bring his grandchildren to this place now and reflect on his gifts to both Ruston and to you, his family.

As I’ve thought about Phil’s many contributions to my life, I’m reminded that even his death taught me much. One of the biggest lessons I carry from Phil’s life is realizing how important it is to tell each other often how much we love each other – not to sweat the little things – don’t put off till tomorrow mentioning the good we see in each other.

I still miss my friend with the bushy beard, sitting by the window at the little store with his suspenders, florescent pink socks and Birkenstocks. I wish he was here to watch this tree grow, to sit with us and dream big dreams for this town. So Phil, we’ll just have to dream for you. I pray you are at peace now. Know that your town remembers and thanks you today for all your gifts to us.

Update On Commencement Building

The Town of Ruston web site is reporting that the council approved the changes proposed to development plan by the latest group of investors. The primary changes outlined in the ordinances were:
  • Developers will pay Ruston $520,000 in lieu of the required improvements and parking on the Onsite Containment Facility (OCF). Developers had difficulty reaching agreement with Point Ruston for the parking designed for the top of the OCF. The town can use that money to make the improvements based on their own schedule apart from the project or use the money elsewhere.
  • The number of units in the building will increase from 60 to 62.
  • All outstanding fees and expired permits will be paid and updated before work continues.
  • Several improvements will still be required to allow for unobstructed access for fire equipment around the building.
I note that the exterior lighting that brought so many complaints has been reduced and there is once again some limited activity at the building these days. I am hoping to get a comment from the new investors, Onward Investors, LLC soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Too Many Goodbyes

It's so hard to say a permanent goodbye. We hope for better places for our loved ones when they die. We reminisce the old days and wonder how to survive this ever-changing future without them. We hug the survivors and share their tears.

We held a send off potluck for Jim Boedecker last Saturday. His longtime partner, Sherri Forch has been a Ruston mainstay for many decades. Jim went fairly suddenly and shook not only Sherri but many of us into the realization that life is fleeting and precious. Jim was a retired police officer who loved sailing. He worked his garden into a thing of beauty that will live on in his memory. As Sherri has said, we wish him Godspeed.

This morning my longtime Ruston friend Connie Maglione lost her battle with cancer. You may recall that she and I were sued by William Walker a few years ago, just after Connie was diagnosed with cancer. Connie was one of the strongest women I've ever known, as evidenced with how long she fought this disease that, in the end, took her.

Connie and I were not always on the same page politically, which in Ruston can be dangerous. Somehow with Connie, the differences melted away when she cracked a joke or reminded me of our common love for this town. She was jovial, loud and sometimes brash. She had a quick tongue that let you know exactly where you stood with her, be it good, bad or ugly. Even in the midst of her pain and struggle this last year, she always laughed in every conversation and talked of fighting for renewed health.

Connie carries memories and experiences in and about this town that we'll never be able to capture now. She moved to town before the smelter dust had settled. She served on the Civil Service Commission most recently, and on the town council in the past. She loved her family, neighbors and town unfailingly.

The landscape is always changing around here, both physically and in our people. I'd much rather say goodbye (as I have often had to do) when a neighbor moves across town; not this forever goodbye. But it's not a choice I get to make. So to Connie and Jim, farewell. Be at peace, free from pain and suffering. We will miss you and carry your gift of love into the future of this ever-changing town in your name.


Monday, September 19, 2011

New Face At Town Hall

Most residents probably already know, but we have a new (temporary) face at town hall. The mayor decided to let town clerk Myriah Mesa go a few weeks ago. I met the new clerk Judy on Friday briefly. She said she is only filling in until someone new can be hired permanently. I've invited the mayor to comment a few times, but he has not responded.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New North End Art

Despite the rain, local artists Rachel Dotson and Mary Mann were joined by residents and business owners to publicly dedicate two bright new pieces of art in the neighborhood. After speeches and goodies, lots of hugs were exchanged before everyone headed for drier spaces.

Artist Rachel Dotson noted in her speech that she once lived in Ruston and found the area full of beautiful flowers and warm, welcoming people. It was that spirit that inspired her "Ruston Garden" mural; bright, open and full of life. Thanks to both artists for their gift, and to the businesses who allowed their walls to become works of art!

Artist Rachel Dotson and her masterpiece
Dedication of Mary Mann's mural at the Antique Sandwich Company

Ruston Council Member Jane Hunt joins residents to dedicate Ruston's new mural.

Cross District President Erling Keuster congradulates the District.

Cross District "Art In The District" and proceeds from the 2010 Adirondack Chair Art project funded the Ruston mural.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In The News (a century ago)

Today's paper had this tidbit about Ruston's history 100 years ago. We know the tunnel that was just closed was built just in 1912 during the upgrade of the smelter after the Guggenheim empire bought the operation. Interesting to hear details of the planning for the tunnel the year before...

Town Hall Burglarized Monday

It's been a busy week for Ruston's public safety departments. Besides yesterday's fire, police have been busy after two men burglarized Town Hall early Monday morning. They were confronted by the town maintenance men, handed back the equipment they were attempting to steal and took off (one on foot, one by car). Despite a chase, both men escaped.

One suspect has been identified and police will arrest him when he is located. They are still working on the identity of the second suspect. All stolen material was recovered and the investigation is on-going.

Ruston Fire

Ruston Fire Department was dispatched to a house fire at 4921 N. Pearl Street at 2:09 pm yesterday. They arrived to find thick smoke, but thankfully everyone had made it out of the building safely. The house sustained heavy damage. Four people are displaced and are receiving assistance from the Red Cross.

The fire investigator is on scene today, so Chief Torbet was reluctant to share any more details until the investigation is complete. Thanks to the entire crew for another job well done!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Structure Fire In Ruston

Anyone who ventured on Pearl Street this afternoon probably noticed there was a fire in Ruston this afternoon. I am working to get more details and will post more information as soon as I can...

Mural Dedications This Saturday

Local businesses continue to give back to the community that supports them. That motivation sets the stage for the Antique Sandwich Company and Don's Ruston Market as they publicly dedicate the new murals on their walls to the customers and neighbors they serve.

Festivities start at 11 am at the Antique Sandwich Company this Saturday, September 17th with speeches and a chance to meet mural artist Mary Mann. Representatives from Tacoma's Neighborhood Council staff and West End Neighborhood Council have been invited as well. It was a City of Tacoma Innovative Grant (administered by the West End Council) that funded the beautiful mermaids on the Antique's wall.

Folks will then stroll down a chalk walk to Don's Ruston Market for a second dedication of the new garden that sprouted on the market wall last month. Artist Rachel Dotson will be there along with Erling Kuester, who is president of the Cross District Association that provided a matching grant for Dotson's mural. The cross district holds one fundraiser each year for their arts program and other support activities for our businesses. Their auction will be held October 22nd at Shenanigans.

Come celebrate these bright new additions to the neighborhood this Saturday!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tunnel Disappearing

Things are coming to a close, both literally and figuratively. The banner that will be buried in the tunnel is full of signatures and delivered to Point Ruston for burial, and the Ruston side of the tunnel is filled now. Things keep on changing around here....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ruston-Point Defiance Art Walk

Two bright new gorgeous murals will grace local walls by the end of today. The new art on the signature side of the Antique Sandwich Company is being installed today. Local artist Mary Mann created this first mural below. She had help from her students at the local SAMI high school, where Mann teaches (News Tribune article with more details here). Another local artist, Rachel Dotson completed the colorful mural on Don's Ruston Market just down the street recently.

A dedication ceremony for both murals is planned for Saturday, September 17th (time to be determined, probably mid-day). Ruston-Point Defiance Business District president Beth Torbet said they wants to dedicate this public art back to the community that supports their businesses. More details to follow on the ceremony, but in the meantime take a stroll along our own art walk!