Thursday, August 30, 2012

Park Delays Start Next Week

August 28, 2012
Contacts: Vito Iacobazzi, park superintendent, 253-591-1027,
Nancy Johnson, communications manager, 253-305-1092,

Point Defiance Water Upgrade - Short-term Inconvenience for Long-term Environmental Benefits
Crews will begin a substantial upgrade to the irrigation main at Point Defiance Park on Tuesday, September 4. Construction to replace nearly 7,000 lineal feet of main line—roughly the length of 20 football fields—is expected to take approximately 8 weeks.

The work will affect pathways and turf from the Pearl Street entrance through the grassy bowl, pond and garden areas, as well as around the Visitors Center, Pagoda and tennis courts. Parking and the exit road on the backside of the gardens will be closed. It may be necessary to temporarily reroute traffic for a day or two at a time as connecting lines that run under roadways are replaced.

“Our contractors will do everything possible to minimize the impact on visitors,” said Vito Iacobazzi, Park Superintendent. “But, we want to prepare folks that this will be a major undertaking and will create some temporary inconveniences.”

The replacement is an important long-term solution to address leakage issues that have persisted, despite repairs over the past decade. Millions of gallons flow through the leaking main to irrigate this portion of the park. The upgrade is expected to reduce water usage by roughly 20% in this area.

Replacing the main will reduce leaks, helping conserve water and eliminating ongoing repairs. The project is part of a comprehensive energy service contract that Metro Parks has entered into with the State of Washington, which is designed to provide conservation and operating efficiency benefits.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More School Progress

The Commencement building appears to be on schedule for completion by early fall. The exterior pieces are coming together, including the paving of the Ruston school parking lots. Ruston Arts & Parks has added some color to the front of the building too. Just a little bit more and things will finally look complete...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Council Meeting Notes: August 21, 2012

The meeting started a bit late at 7:09pm, waiting for three councilmembers to arrive to create a quorum. Councilmembers Hunt, Hardin and Judd were present with Hedrick and Kristovich excused. The agenda was approved with no changes. No minutes were presented.

Staff Reports
Town Engineer: Jerry Morrissette gave a detailed report on the sewer project. Of note, the project is almost done with the connection at Baltimore near the railroad as the final piece, scheduled for early September. The contractor is estimating September 25th as the substantial completion date. Morrissette asked residents to report any outstanding issues now. The mayor wants to post the “punch list” of remaining repairs on the town’s web page so residents can see what issues are already listed and avoid notifying about the same thing repeatedly. Hunt suggested updating the punch list weekly since it will be a moving target. Hardin clarified the work on Highland and asked about the contract monies the town keeps back from the contractor (retainage). He was concerned about problems developing over the winter, but the mayor said the contractor has a performance bonds to warrantee their work rather than not paying on the contract.

The project is coming in under cost. The City of Tacoma will be using the new lines to drain up to 49 homes in their city as allowed under the town’s agreement with them. They are calculating the cost sharing for those homes, which should reduce the amount residents have to pay when the new rates are imposed to repay this sewer loan. The engineer said there is plenty of capacity in the line to handle these extra homes. The interest rates on these types of loans have gone down and the mayor is trying to get the lower rate from USDA.

Police: Chief Kunkel said National Night Out Against Crime went well. The bike rodeo at the Family Fair did not attract many participants, but those that brought their bikes down had fun. The department has completed their “use of force” training.

Fire: Chief Torbet noted the sewer contractor had worked well with them on notification of street closures after a few early challenges. The aid van has been repaired and is in service. The Family Fair and fire department fundraiser went well (thank you for everyone who helped). There is now a nice plaque at Town Hall using those funds. The volunteer appreciation celebration was last week, a great BBQ for all those in the department that give so much. The department is still working on getting the entire town CPR trained and encouraged the mayor to get the ball rolling by getting trained.

Public Comment
Beth Torbet thanked everyone for helping with the Family Fair, especially The Commencement for sponsoring the wagon rides. She invited the elected officials to the upcoming city-wide business district annual meet-and-greet.

I thanked everyone for helping with the Family Fair. I asked for clarification of any changes to next year’s event that would be caused if Ordinance 1380 was approved. I noted the 20 year anniversary of the smelter stack implosion is in January and encouraged a community celebration.

1. Ordinance 1379 – Amend Chapter 10.01 RMC re: Playfield Park Reservations (1st Reading): No discussion, will be voted on at the next meeting.

2. Ordinance 1380 – Amend Chapter 14.04 RMC re: Special Events Permits (1st Reading): The town attorney outlined the changes; 1) increased the insurance requirements, 2) adding cost recovery for police or other costs for the council to consider and 3) expand the definition of a special event. Hardin asked if cost recovery would apply to events like Night Out (yes, if they need the permit). Hardin asked if there were any extra police provided for Night Out or the Family Fair (one officer for Night Out, regular hours were used for the Fair). Hunt couldn’t see charging for Night Out. The issue will be discussed at the next meeting when the full council was present.

3. Resolution 518 – Amendment of Facilities Use Guidelines: Passed 3-0 with no discussion.

4. Resolution 519 – Amendment of Town Investment Policy: Hunt commented it was about time. Hardin confirmed that Judd approved of the policy since he is on the council finance committee. Passed 3-0.

5. Resolution 520 – Fire Truck Surplus Property: Passed 3-0 with no discussion.

Claims and Payroll
Hunt questioned some of the charges for utility locates, but the town does not have any choice about paying them. Passed 3-0.

Mayor’s Time
Hopkins thanked the town maintenance and fire department for their work sprucing up the town before the Family Fair.  The water line work on 49th is still pending. The east side of Baltimore Street will have the required improvements installed by Point Ruston along with the last of the sewer work. The town has not formally accepted ownership of Baltimore or Ruston Way. The developer opened the road on their own. The town is waiting for documentation they require. Hunt confirmed that meant Pt. Ruston is liable for the road.

The mayor said the rest of the school parking lot will be completed next week. They worked a deal with The Commencement where the developer installed the new fence and the town will complete the landscaping. Staff is looking for grants to repair Winnifred Street. Century Link is undergrounding their lines from Pearl to The Commencement and he wants to install conduit for the town utilities at the same time.

Hopkins announced that the state auditor is doing another audit that was not budgeted for since they were there just last year.

Council Time
Hunt offered her sympathies for the audit.

Hardin thanked the mayor’s wife for doing all the social events in town.

Judd had no comment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Old Meets New

The new school parking lots and alley, provided by The Commencement (in exchange for other monies owed to Ruston), are completed on the northern side. The work included replacing the 10 foot rusted fence with this 4 foot clean version. Construction continues on the southern lot and should be complete soon, with no replacement planned for the fence on that side. Looking good in the neighborhood!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Council Meeting: Tuesday, August 21st

The town continues to refine how they will allow the public to use public facilities (who has to pay and who gets to use things at no charge). Also on the agenda for discussion Tuesday is the investment policy, surplussing a fire truck and staff reports. Join us Tuesday at 7pm and use your two minutes of public comment to provide your input!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Ruston Family Fair Pictures

As always, our volunter fire fighters were first to arrive and last to leave, helping set up and tear down for the fair Saturday. Along with our police officers, they were there all day long to greet, answer questions and build our community. Thanks for a job well done!

Ready to respond

Helping set up the Divas dunk tank

Fire department displays and root beer floats fundraiser

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Party Pics

Face Painting

Cupcake Walk

Baking Contest Prep

Ruston Family Fair and Car Show

Plenty of good old-fashioned rag-tag fun was had by all in Ruston this weekend. Saturday was the annual Cadillac LaSalle car show and the first annual Ruston Family Fair. Dozens of classic cars lined up in the grassy median along Winnifred - with the final block dedicated to the fair.

Many Ruston streets saw their first horse and wagon in over a century as riders young and old rode around town. Pets paraded in their best outfits. Bakers brought their glorious creations for judging. Local kids rode their bikes down for the obstacle course set up by the police. Rootbeer floats and popcorn helped raise money for the fire department. Kids played old-fashioned field games. Lucky winners danced away with specialty cupcakes. The Boy Scouts demonstrated their homemade rockets. The Divas got dunked. Food, shopping, fun and plenty of sunshine rounded out the special day.

I was camera-less for the day, so I'll be collecting photos and posting them soon. It was a great start but feedback is appreciated. Please comment with suggestions for improvement. And thanks to everyone for coming down for the party!

Kato the wonderdog took 2nd place in the costume contest.

First place pet costume winner.

Baking Contest Winners

Bike safety rodeo in progress

Baking contest entrants

Baking contest winner

Friday, August 10, 2012

Party In Ruston Tomorrow!

After a year struggling through the Ruston Way closure, Ruston businesses are welcoming the community back in style tomorrow with the Ruston Family Fair, Saturday, August 11th from 11am til 4pm. Adding to annual Cadillac LaSalle car show, tons of family fun will entertain the whole clan.

  • Classic cars
  • Wagon Rides
  • Face Painting by JuJu Designs
  • Kids Games (3-legged, sack + more!) by Ladies Workout Express
  • Pet Costume Contest by Secondhand Hound
  • Kids Cupcake Walk by Hello Cupcake
  • Baking Contest ($100 first prize - $10 entry fee)
  • Bike Safety Rodeo by Ruston Police Department
  • Dunk The Divas
  • Music
  • Food
  • Shopping
Entries for the baking contest need to be delivered to Don's Ruston Market by 1:30pm Saturday (N. 51st and Winnifred). Entry forms are available here... Cars will display along Winnifred from N. 52nd to 54th, the rest of the activities center between Town Hall and 51st. More details are available at

Join the party and celebrate summer, new roads and our local businesses! See you all there!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Council Meeting Notes: August 7, 2012

The 10 minute meeting began at 7:03pm with all the council present but the mayor absent and excused. Councilmember Hedrick was appointed as mayor pro-tem to run the meeting. The agenda was approved with no changes.

Public Comment
No comment from the two audience members.

1. Resolution 521 – Authorize Purchase of Garbage Cans: Councilmember Hunt read the motion that had been prepared by the town attorney, which was seconded by Councilmember Hardin. Hardin then amended the motion to remove the reference to “new” garbage truck. If this were a new truck, the town would be required to get competitive bids. Since this is a used truck with only one type of can that will fit it (and only one manufacturer of those cans), the bidding is not required. 

Hedrick stated that town maintenance supervisor, Steve Taylor, estimated that this purchase covered everyone in town plus a 10% reserve. The cans will say “Town of Ruston” on them. Residents can opt for the larger can at an additional cost. There will be areas in town where residents will have to move the cans to the street in front – but everyone will have to move them to the edge of the alley/street for automated pick up. The town still hopes to have the new system operational by September 1st. Both the amendment and the resolution passed 5-0.

Claims & Payroll
Hunt complemented the Clerk-Treasurer for doing a great job. The clerk had researched a refund that was due and discovered some money owed, which was deducted from the refund. Claim and payroll were approved 5-0.

Mayor’s Time

Council Time
No one had any comments.

The meeting adjourned at 7:12pm.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peninsula Park Plans

The plans for capping the slag peninsula were outlined in an in-depth article in the News Tribune today (article here). Clean soil will be mined from the hillside above the Yacht Club road for capping material. Point Ruston says their goal is to open the waterfront walk by year's end, with a path to the peninsula area.

Metro Parks plans to finish off the peninsula park someday, and has spectacular hopes to develop the area around the go-cart track into restaurants, a pavilion and more (details here). The views are great on that point of land. All that's needed now is the funding!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

National Night Out Tonight

Ruston typifies the sense of community and connection that are sometimes lost in the big city. One way that communities large and small build connections is National Night Out Against Crime. The goal is get to know your neighbors and local public safety officers to help fight crime. But the benefits reach beyond the statistics, building stronger communities that know and care about each other.

Ruston Police confirm there are two block parties registered for tonight, both scheduled from 5-9pm:
  • North 49th and Baltimore
  • N. 53rd and Highland
Everyone is encouraged to potluck some dinner and stop by to meet your neighbors, along with members from our police and fire departments. It should be a gorgeous evening to mingle and enjoy the great town we are.

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Mid-Year Budget

For those who are interested, the mayor present a mid-year update to the council at the last meeting. The figures he presented are available here...  The bad news: despite the influx of some unexpected revenue, we are still running at at $59,000 deficit. The good news: the deficit is not as big as expected when the budget was approved at the end of last year.

Council Meeting Tomorrow

Only one item is on the agenda for tomorrow night; purchasing the new garbage cans for the new/used garbage truck. Tomorrow is also National Night Out Against Crime, so most community-minded folks and elected officials will likely be focused elsewhere. It should be a short meeting...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Council Meeting Notes: July 17, 2012

The meeting began at 7:12pm with Councilmember Hunt absent. The agenda and previous meeting minutes were approved with no changes.

Staff Reports
Police: Chief Kunkel thanked everyone for participating in the kids 4th of July parade. The department will do a bike safety rodeo at the Ruston Family Fair on August 11th. The Taste of Tacoma went well this year. National Night Out against crime will be on August 7th. So far two parties are scheduled at Court and 49th Street. Kunkel noted that being a police officer is mostly a thankless job, but he read an email thanking a Ruston officer who helped apprehend child rapist. The department is updating their vehicle computers, using old computers donated from Pierce County Sheriff Department. New computers would cost $22,000, so he is grateful for the donation. They have a “use of force” training scheduled for next month.

Fire: Chief Torbet was out of town so Assistant Chief Bruce Allen gave the report. The department is now 22 members strong as they welcomed 2 new members. One new member is in the fire fighter program at Bates, the other has experience with Steilacoom Fire. They only had one call during the Taste this year. The department is now including the Point Ruston site in their training. The CPR training for residents is on-going. 620 hours were logged last month for the department. They will be painting the bunkhouse in the next week or so. Councilmember Hedrick wanted to know the color. Allen described it and announced it was all donated. Councilmember Hardin thanked Firefighter Cunningham for the grant writing. Mayor Hopkins reminded Allen of the other event going at same time at Town Hall (Adirondack chairs) and asked them to try to get the painting done before the chair display.

Public Comment
Ginger Kryger reminded everyone about the Adirondack chair event.

1. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Presentation – Craig Kenworthy, Executive Director: Kenworthy gave a detailed presentation about how Pierce County is breaking federal air quality standards. EPA requires the reduction of fine particulates in the air. Wood smoke from private homes is the main contributor. There are immediate health impacts and the county faces the loss of federal money and the economic impact of being a non-containment area. The agency estimates there are 24,000 non-compliant stoves in the impacted area. About 7,000 of those need to convert to natural gas to meet new federal standard. More details available on the agency's web page here

2. Semi Annual Budget Review: The mayor said all the specific funds are in decent shape, but the general fund presents the biggest concern. Sales tax revenue is ahead of projection with the influx of $36,000 from the Department of Revenue audit of the Point Ruston project.  Hardin asked what time period the report covered (January 1 to July 17, 2012). The mayor pointed out that revenue for July is lagging since those monies come in at the end of month. There was a refund of $19,080 from LESA and $22,000 from the City of Tacoma because Ruston had been paying for fire hydrants. The mayor was disappointed to see there is still a $59,000 overall deficit for the first 6 months of the year. Hedrick questioned the entry for the grant for “pre-hospital participation”. No one was sure what the grant was for. 

Claims & Payroll: Hedrick asked (in memory of former Councilmember Huson) about the bill that included utility locates at addresses outside of Ruston. The clerk will ask the town maintenance supervisor to review the bill. Hedrick also asked about the $800 annual bill the town pays to the railroad to lease a small corner of the playfield. He wanted to know if there was any way to trade that cost for the privilege the railroad enjoys of running their tracks through Ruston. The mayor mentioned the $12,000 permit the railroad requires for installing the new sewer on Baltimore. Hopkins said the franchise agreement (that allows them to run their rail line through town) has not made any progress, but he was all for playing hardball with them. Claims and payroll were approved 4-0.

Mayor’s Time
Mayor Hopkins stated he will miss next meeting. It is Night Out and he will be at the block party on his street. He asked the council to consider canceling the next meeting since they may also want to attend. He is almost done pricing new garbage cans and hopes to have the new system running by September. He is working on paving Baltimore Street and with Tacoma Water on the new lines for 49th. He has a bid from the sewer contractor for paving improvements on Baltimore but the town engineer is trying to get a better price. The engineer asked for the public’s patience for the remaining paving. They are not always able to get notice out before work begins.

Council Time

Hedrick had nothing.

Hardin wanted some attention for the north side of town for street improvements. Areas of Winnifred Street are also in need of repair. He had been assigned to follow up on the issue of waiving fees and insurance requirements for renting town facilities. Any waiving of any fees or insurance is not recommended by attorney. The mayor agreed and to be safe thought it might even apply to the town’s use like fire department events. Hardin did not want to take any risk of lawsuits since a couple of attorney’s seem to target Ruston. The town attorney will bring change to the rules back for council approval.

Kristovich had nothing.

Judd had nothing.

The meeting adjourned at 7:22 pm.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Get The Apron!

It's time to break out the aprons and warm up the oven! The Ruston Family Fair is bringing back the old-fashioned competition normally only seen at the county fairs - a baking contest. The Ruston version will feature a first place prize of $100 and be judged by experts from Stadium Thriftway.

An entry fee of $10 is needed and only pies, cakes, cobblers and tarts may be entered. So break out grandma's famous recipe and bring it to the Fair on August 11th. You just might win!