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WOODARDS APPOINTED VICE CHAIR OF NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES COUNCIL

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards has been appointed vice chair of the National League of Cities (NLC) 2018 Council on Youth, Education, and Families. This council guides and oversees the work of NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Additionally, it fosters peer-learning and networking opportunities for elected municipal leaders; stimulates effective leadership on behalf of children, youth and families; and elevates the voices of city and youth leaders in broader discussions of the needs of youth, children and families.

“I am honored to serve on this national council that helps elevate the voices of children, youth and families, and shines a light on the actions we can invest in at the local level to support the populations who are the future of our communities,” said Woodards.

For more than two decades, Mayor Woodards has been known as a passionate civic leader throughout Tacoma. She served for seven years as a citywide member of the Tacoma City Council, and began her first term as mayor on Jan. 2.

“During her tenure on the Tacoma City Council, Mayor Woodards emerged as a strong voice for city leadership on issues of equity and opportunity through her engagement with NLC,” said Clifford M. Johnson, executive director of NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. “We look forward to supporting her work as Tacoma’s new mayor, and benefitting from her insights in this NLC leadership role focusing on children, youth and families.”

NLC is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. More information about the NLC is available at nlc.org.

YOUTH DROP-IN CENTER TRANSITIONS TO BEACON SENIOR CENTER

On March 1, drop-in center services for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness will transition from its current location at 15th Street and Tacoma Avenue to the Beacon Senior Center (415 S. 13th St.), where overnight shelter services for 18 to 24 year olds experiencing homelessness are also being provided. It is a City priority to identify the permanent location for drop-in center and overnight shelter services in 2018.

Drop-in center services available to youth and young adults experiencing homelessness at the Beacon Senior Center include counseling, educational support, and access to clothing and toiletries. These services will be managed by Community Youth Services and available Monday through Friday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Services for seniors, over the age of 60, will continue at the Beacon Senior Center as usual during the day. These services are co-managed by the Korean Women’s Association and Greater Destiny Church, and available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Doors open at 9 p.m. for overnight shelter services at the Beacon Senior Center on a first-come, first-served basis for 18 to 24 year olds experiencing homelessness who need a place to stay overnight. These services will be managed by Community Youth Services and available seven days a week, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Outreach events hosted by Neighborhood and Cwommunity Services Department staff are scheduled to take place on Monday, Feb. 26, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., at the Beacon Senior Center.

Community members will have the opportunity to gather more information and ask questions.

Information about the City’s efforts to connect individuals who are experiencing homelessness with the services they need is available online at www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=93744.

VINTAGE TACOMA POSTCARDS ADDED TO ONLINE ARCHIVE

Metro Parks Tacoma has added more than 500 new images to its online catalog: vintage park postcards acquired from collector Eric Swanson in 2010.

These are unique views of seven of Tacoma’s historic parks, dating back to the 1890s. Some include notes written by past park visitors.

The online postcard catalog provides images and detailed descriptions of each card.

“The Swanson postcard collection is full of hidden gems with these images,” said Curator of History and Culture Claire Keller-Scholz. “Now the public has a chance to see their parks in a totally new way, getting to see how places like Lincoln Park used to look before the freeways were built.”

Postcard collector Eric Swanson grew up hearing stories about Tacoma’s past from his father; the collector always appreciated and was curious about “what was.” In 1999, while a student at Curtis Junior High School, he discovered his first postcard on eBay, and was immediately hooked.

“Postcards allowed the stories I had heard to take on another dimension, answering questions as well as adding new mysteries until the next piece of the puzzle could be obtained,” he said. “The images were a true, fixed, glimpse into the past.”

Driven to complete the collection, Swanson found images not only online, but also at antique and ephemera shows, antique stores, malls, and through occasional trades with private collectors. Over time, he developed a mission: to bring these pieces of history together and return them to Tacoma from elsewhere around the country and, in some cases, the world. Ultimately, he amassed more than 500 postcards depicting historic park scenes.

In October 2010, Swanson arranged to sell 474 postcards of Tacoma’s historic parks to Metro Parks Tacoma for its permanent archival collection. Historians for Metro Parks had previously been granted permission to use some of the images, but the 2010 acquisition included rare images and postcards wholly new to Metro Parks.

“This collection is fun because it shows us a little of how people viewed Tacoma’s parks through the years,” said Keller-Scholz. “This is especially true of the ones that were mailed. They also show how well-traveled these simple Tacoma postcards could become.”

The online catalog also includes selections from Metro Parks Tacoma’s “Art and Artifacts” collection, featuring detailed descriptions of artwork, historic structures, and unique park elements from sites throughout Tacoma.

Go online to view the postcards park by park at http://metroparkstacoma.pastperfectonline.com/photo or randomly at http://metroparkstacoma.pastperfectonline.com/randomimages.

JUDGE VERHEY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

After more than 25 years on the bench, Judge Elizabeth E. “Betsy” Verhey has announced that she will not seek re-election to the Tacoma Municipal Court this year, and will retire at the end of her term on Dec. 31.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Tacoma and Pierce County, and I have worked hard to promote the resolution of cases in a fair, efficient, and timely manner,” said Verhey.

After graduating magna cum laude from Central Washington University in 1981, Verhey came to Tacoma to attend the University of Puget Sound School of Law, graduating in 1984. She practiced law from 1984 to 1993 in the law firm of Griffin, Imperiale, Bobman & Verhey, becoming a full equity partner in 1987. In 1993, she was appointed as full-time court commissioner in the Pierce County District Court and in 1995, she was appointed to the Tacoma Municipal Court to fill a vacant position. Verhey has run for election successfully since that time.

Verhey is a member of the Washington State Bar Association (judicial status) and the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. She has served as a board member for the District and Municipal Court Judges Association (DMCJA) and has served on numerous committees, including the DMCJA Education Committee, the Presiding Judges Education Committee, and as the DMCJA liaison to the District & Municipal Court Managers Association (DMCMA). She has also served as an elected pro tem judge for the Pierce County Superior Court and as the presiding judge for the Tacoma Municipal Court.

Verhey is active in the Tacoma community, and has served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Catholic Women’s Club, and the Children’s Home Society of Washington. She is a frequent speaker at local schools and serves as one of the judges in the “We the People” State Competition.

In 1995, Verhey coordinated the development of the City of Tacoma Community Service Work Crew, which allows participants to work off their fines and costs on weekdays and weekends. In 1998, she developed a relicensing calendar that coordinated with the Pierce County Superior Court Drug Court and Dependency Court to help participants regain their driver’s licenses. She then evolved this calendar into a comprehensive Tacoma Municipal Court Relicensing Program, both of which operate to this day. In addition, she presides over the designated Substance Abuse Court, the Mental Health Calendar, and the developing Therapeutic Mental Health Court.

CAPITAL BUDGET FUNDS COMMUNITY POOL IN FIRCREST

The state Senate passed its supplemental capital budget, which includes projects that would benefit the 28th Legislative District.

“The capital budget contains funding for great community projects,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-University Place). “It is important that we invest in local projects that make a positive and lasting difference in our community.”

This capital budget would provide the city of Fircrest $750,000 for the construction of an outdoor public pool to replace the current pool that was built in 1962. The current pool has had several problems, including an unlevel deck and aging mechanical equipment. Building a new pool would fix these problems and provide more amenities. The project is anticipated to take about 16 months to complete.

The budget also would provide more resources for mental health, as Western State Hospital would receive $27 million for two additional forensic wards.

The supplemental capital budget updates the 2017-19 capital budget passed earlier this session.

SENATE TRANSPORTATION BUDGET ADDRESSES COUNTY TRAFFIC

The state Senate passed its supplemental transportation budget on Feb. 23, providing additional funding for local projects.

The budget includes an amendment offered by Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-University Place) that would direct the Department of Transportation to come up with a strategy to address the vulnerabilities to the South Sound when there is a catastrophic incident, such as last December’s closure of I-5 caused by the fatal Amtrak train derailment.

As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, O’Ban moved for the inclusion of language to address solutions to Pierce County traffic congestion and emergency management concerns regarding routes away from natural disasters and incidents similar to the Amtrak derailment. The amendment also looks at what transportation investments would benefit the economic development of the area.

“This analysis comes at a critical time,” said O’Ban. “We need to find ways to relieve traffic, create routes to escape disasters and benefit our local economy.”

The supplemental budget also provides $400,000 for rail noise mitigation and to enhance safety south of the rail crossings at 19th Street and 6th Avenue in Tacoma. Instead of trains blowing horns in an unfocused manner before and after the intersection, horns will be mounted at the road/rail crossings and focus their warnings directly at pedestrians and motorists. The city of Tacoma is analyzing safety and noise mitigation and this funding will complement that effort.

“This funding will improve safety and reduce train noise in populated areas of our community,” said O’Ban.

O’BAN REQUESTS TASK FORCE TO PREVENT MASS SHOOTINGS

Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-University Place) has requested a proviso to the 2018 supplemental operating budget for funding to create a legislative task force to prevent mass shootings.

The task force would develop strategies for identifying and intervening against potential perpetrators of mass shootings, educate the public about the availability of extreme risk protection orders, and report on recommendations to prevent these tragedies.

As ranking member of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, O’Ban hopes the task force will pay special attention to mental health issues, which are the common link to most of the recent mass shootings, school safety, and strategies used in other states to identify and intervene in time to avert mass shootings.

“We cannot keep wringing our hands and do nothing to stop mentally ill perpetrators of mass violence,” O’Ban said. “The horrific Parkland, Florida massacre is typical of many before it; students, school officials, family members, neighbors, social media users, law enforcement and even mental health professionals knew the perpetrator was mentally unstable, a high risk, and owned a firearm. We need to gather smart people in a room, develop a plan to identify potential perpetrators, and prevent as many of these senseless killings as possible.”

In the budget request, members of the task force would include representatives from the state Senate and House of Representatives, institutions of higher learning, prosecuting and criminal defense attorneys, the Attorney General’s office, Washington Association of Counties, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Washington State Patrol, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and family members of victims of mass shootings.

SCHOOL DISTRICT SELLS PARCELS FOR COTTAGE HOME DEVELOPMENT

Tacoma Public Schools is considering selling 19 parcels of unimproved property located at East D Street and East 80th  Street in Tacoma to Green Harbor Communities LLC. This property is a collection of parcels located to the south of the area commonly known as Blueberry Park. The district is working with Metro Parks to transfer ownership of the remaining five parcels.

The developer, Green Harbor Communities, plans to construct “green-built” cottage homes while preserving environmentally sensitive areas. Common amenities such as walking trails, play areas and community gardens will be incorporated into the final layout of the development.

Tacoma School District No. 10 will hold a public hearing to take testimony regarding the sale of the following parcels to Green Harbor Communities LLC at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 8 at the School District’s Central Administration Building, 601 S. 8th St., Tacoma, in the fourth floor auditorium. Time is subject to change and can be confirmed by calling (253) 571-3322.

Written public comment can also be submitted (received by March 6) to planning@tacoma.k12.wa.us or mail to: Tacoma Public Schools, Planning and Construction Department, 3223 S. Union Ave., Tacoma WA 98409.

Following the hearing, the board will consider a resolution authorizing the sale of the 19 parcels to Green Harbor Communities LLC as part of their regular school board meeting, pursuant to RCW 28A.335.

Anyone having questions regarding the property or the public hearing may contact Strategic Program Analyst Alicia Lawver at (253) 571-3322 or alawver@tacoma.k12.wa.us.

COUNTY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PROHIBITING DRUG INJECTION SITES

Pierce County Council will introduce legislation within the next month that would prohibit drug injection sites in unincorporated Pierce County. This legislation comes as follow-up to a proviso sponsored by Councilmember Jim McCune and adopted by the Council in the 2018 Budget. The proviso prohibits the expenditure of funds to any drug injections sites.

The Council will be modeling the legislation after Snohomish County’s Ordinance No. 18-014. County residents are encouraged to contact their County Council Representative to provide input on drug injection sites.

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