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The dedication of the new Amtrak Cascades Tacoma Dome Station will happen on Friday, Dec. 15. Amtrak Cascades trains begin running from the new station at 6:45 a.m. Monday, Dec. 18, using the Point Defiance Bypass route for the first time. The station and bypass route, along with 19 other capital improvement projects, will give travelers two more daily round trips between Seattle and Portland (for a total of six), reduced travel time between the cities and better on-time reliability. The new station also expands Tacoma’s multimodal transportation hub, with a Sounder station next door and Tacoma Link light rail and Pierce Transit buses across the street.

The station and launch of the bypass service are the culmination of the nearly $800 million in federally funded passenger train improvements by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Sound Transit was a critical partner in the work as the owner of the bypass tracks as well its own Tacoma Trestle Track and Signal project just east of Freighthouse Square. The trestle project replaced a single-track wooden trestle with a new concrete, double-track bridge, and it is a key component to expanding Amtrak Cascades service.



Hundreds of velvety poinsettias, graceful amaryllis flowers and scented paper whites swathe the interior of the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in a swirl of red, green, white and pink.

The showy display, called Lavish, is a holiday tradition at the elegant, Victorian-style greenhouse on the east side of Wright Park.

The Conservatory’s rarefied atmosphere perfectly suits poinsettias, which are tropical in origin. But these plants were nurtured elsewhere. Virtually all of the potted plants displayed as part of the Conservatory’s seasonal calendar of exhibits are grown in greenhouses generally off limits to the public. A set of aging greenhouses on the eastern edge of Point Defiance Park has served this purpose for more than 50 years.

That’s beginning to change. The old greenhouses will be dismantled as part of the transformation of the Point Defiance Park waterfront and the $60 million Superfund cleanup of tainted soil left behind by the former ASARCO smelter in Ruston.

Through an agreement with the City of Tacoma, a smaller but more efficient greenhouse complex is in the works on the edge of the city’s old landfill site. Its centerpiece is a 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art production greenhouse with automated climate-control system that monitors the weather and adjusts heat, lighting and ventilation accordingly. Estimates suggest the building will save Metro Parks money on water and energy, as well as long-term maintenance.

In October, Metro Parks horticultural technicians and others transferred the first plants from the old greenhouses to the new setting. These included about 1,000 poinsettias, many of which are now on view in the Conservatory, and perhaps an equal number of small ferns of various varieties.

The new steel-framed building has windows of insulated polycarbonate, an extremely resilient type of plastic. It replaces 60-year-old wooden greenhouses that filter light through glass panes. Those were a true maintenance headache, horticultural technician Scott Bassett said. For example, when painting was needed, workers would have to remove and replace each pane.

Adjacent to the new building, Metro Parks crews have relocated steel framing from the old site to erect less sophisticated warm-frame greenhouses and a shaded area. Completion of the entire project is scheduled to take place over the next several months. Money for the facilities comes from the $198 million bond issue approved by Metro Parks voters in 2014.

Moving the greenhouses from Point Defiance has been a topic of discussion for about 20 years. “I never really thought it was going to happen until we broke ground,” said Tyra Shenaurlt, Metro Parks horticulture resource supervisor. She oversees both the Conservatory and the greenhouses.

Among the money-saving features of the new production greenhouse are its parallel water lines, which separate fertilized water from fresh, potable water. At the old greenhouse complex, workers had to purge fertilized water from a single water line before it could be used to irrigate with water alone. According to project administrator Tom Dargan, this upgrade could reduce water consumption 10 percent to 25 percent.

Shenaurlt also expects significant overall energy savings. “We lost so much heat in those other greenhouses,” she said.

When it’s all done, the new greenhouse complex will fulfill all of Metro Parks’ horticultural needs. Besides growing plants for the Conservatory, it will produce the annuals that fill flower beds in Point Defiance Park, along Ruston Way, and in Wapato, Titlow, Norpoint and Dash Point parks.

“This is a really nice, central location,” Bassett said of the new greenhouse campus. The change potentially could reduce the cost of transporting plants to and from display sites. Eventually, a portion of the new campus could be designated as a quarantine area for ailing plants from the Conservatory or elsewhere.

A public open house for the new greenhouse complex is tentatively planned for the spring; a specific date has not yet been set.



Separated from family and working for only a dollar a day, it won’t be much of a Christmas for the more than 1,500 undocumented immigrants detained at Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center. Despite its location in the Tacoma Tideflats, most local residents are unaware of this private prison, not to mention the inhumane conditions, overcrowding, and lack of adequate care experienced by detainees there.

That’s why, this holiday season, Indivisible Tacoma is teaming up with the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance (www.nwdcresistance.org) for “The 12 Days of Christmas,” providing some welcome holiday relief and letting detainees know they haven’t been forgotten.

Every day Dec. 13-24, members of Indivisible Tacoma, along with a variety of other local grassroots, community, and religious organizations, will reinforce the efforts of NWDC Resistance activists to support detainees and raise awareness of the human rights crisis in our backyard.

People from all over the region are invited to join Indivisible Tacoma this holiday season to learn more about the Northwest Detention Center and to make sure its detainees and their families really do know it’s Christmas. Scheduled events include a Dec. 13 kick-off presentation by the NWDC Resistance, as well as musical performances, letter-writing and art-making events, and the delivery of funds to detainees for essentials such as phone calls and toiletries.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” will conclude on Christmas Eve with a caroling celebration and a candlelight vigil outside the Northwest Detention Center.

This is free to all and kid-friendly to provide holiday relief to detainees and raise community awareness. As part of the nationwide Indivisible movement, Indivisible Tacoma was founded in 2017 to resist the Trump agenda and promote a platform of progressive social change. In less than a year, its activists have organized and participated in a multitude of protests, activism trainings, and political actions.

For more information visit indivisibletacoma.org/12days.



The City of Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Office has announced that 2018 Heritage Project Grant applications are now available. Eligible applicants include non-profits, organized community groups, public agencies and educational institutions. Applicants can apply for anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 for their project. This is a matching grant with up to $40,000 in total awards being granted.

“Our goal with the Heritage Project Grant Program is to support projects that increase public awareness and access to Tacoma’s history,” said Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight. “We look forward to seeing innovative and informative proposals.”

Funding can be used for a number of projects including exhibitions, workshops, events or educational activities, development and production of interpretive materials, professional services required to research a historical publication or register nomination, documentation of an artifact or historical site, a historic site assessment, conservation materials and, in some limited cases, capacity building for organizations with heritage as their primary mission. Activities receiving heritage funding may be one-time events, a small number of closely related events, or an ongoing program or neighborhood public history project.

Applicants are encouraged to attend a free information session, which explains and addresses questions about the application and funding process. The session will be held Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 from 3-4:30 p.m. in Tacoma Municipal Building (747 Market St., 2nd floor, room 243).

Immediately following the information session, the Historic Preservation Office will also announce the 2018 theme for Historic Preservation Month, which is held each May. The office will host a brief conversation for community partners to provide input on this year’s programs and to contribute events to the Historic Preservation Month calendar.

Applications are due Feb. 28, 2018. To find out more about the grant or to download an application, go to cityoftacoma.org/HeritageGrant or e-mail lhoogkamer@cityoftacoma.org or call (253) 591-5254.


Eddie Moore, Jr, national educator on diversity, founder of the White Privilege Conference, and co-editor of books including “Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Justice: 15 Stories,” will speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at University of Puget Sound. Everyone is welcome to the event on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 7-8:30 p.m., in Kilworth Memorial Chapel. Moore will give a talk titled “Dr. Martin Luther King: Why Keep Dreaming?” He will address King’s inspiring words, “We cannot turn back,” and discuss King’s view that we cannot rest while injustice and inequality permeate the country.

The evening will include short remarks from University of Puget Sound President Isiaah Crawford, Black Student Union President Nia Henderson ’20, and student body president Amanda Díaz ’18. The Keep Living the Dream Award, honoring campus members who embody King’s legacy, will be awarded.

Moore knows well what it is like to be in the hot seat as America simmers in a political culture of seemingly irreconcilable factions. The White Privilege Conference that he created 18 years ago in order to create “a space for tough conversations” has drawn national attention. But it also has been attacked on social media and in the press by critics on several sides of the diversity issue. So when Moore asks for “courage” from those who want to support efforts to fight racism, he knows the magnitude of the request he is making.

The scholar and activist speaks openly about his fears for the future, stemming from the actions of those embracing white nationalism and defending hate speech as free speech. He told racial justice writer Debby Irving that he expects increasing disparities in the decade ahead.

“Plus, we have a new problem emerging as a result of technology,” he told her. “The very people we’ll need to work on these issues in the future – organizers, communicators, critical relationship builders – aren’t developing the skills, because they’re so hooked into their technology.

“There are also consequences we’ve never seen before. When someone can get sued or get a poor evaluation for the content they’re teaching, that’s a 21st-century challenge. When you can’t even teach this stuff without fear of serious, serious consequences? Wow.”

Moore is a highly regarded speaker and educator, and the founder and program director of the White Privilege Conference, which aims to move people beyond dialogue and into action on issues of diversity, power, privilege, and leadership. He is co-founder of the journal Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, and co-editor of the books “Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Injustice: 15 Stories” and “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys.” In 2014 he founded The Privilege Institute, which engages people through workshops, events, and publications. He gained his doctorate in education leadership from University of Iowa. Moore provides consulting, education, and research through America & MOORE.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is sponsored by the Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement, Division of Student Affairs, Associated Students of the University of Puget Sound, and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

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