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PUYALLUP RIVER BRIDGE CLOSURE STARTS MAY 21

The City of Tacoma will close the Puyallup River Bridge (located on Puyallup Avenue between Portland Avenue and Milwaukee Way) beginning Monday, May 21. The bridge will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic with an anticipated reopening date in February 2019. Detours in place will direct traffic to the Lincoln Avenue Bridge or to I-5.

This project will remove and replace one third of the bridge, starting west of the Puyallup River and extending to the intersection of Portland and Puyallup avenues. When completed, the project will have also added new street lighting, sidewalks, bike lanes, and a new gateway structure.

For more information, visit the Puyallup River Bridge page or contact Project Manager Chris Storey at cstorey@cityoftacoma.org, or call (253) 573-2484.

Darrell L. Cain

PIERCE COLLEGE PUYALLUP NAMES FIFTH PRESIDENT

Pierce College Chancellor and CEO Michele L. Johnson, Ph.D., announced on Mon., May 7 that Darrell L. Cain, Ph.D., will be the next president of Pierce College Puyallup. This ends a five-month search process conducted by a 14-member committee of faculty, classified staff, administrators, students and community members. Cain most recently served as vice chancellor for student affairs at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis. He has also served as vice president for academic affairs at Eastfield College in Dallas and was dean for academic affairs at Atlanta Technical College. Cain has also taught part-time throughout his career, currently in the graduate school at University of Maryland University Center (UMUC) and has presented and authored numerous articles.

“I look forward to joining the Pierce College family and being part of the Puyallup community,” Cain said. “Pierce College plays an integral role in the community, and I look forward to building and collaborating with all stakeholders. The students, faculty and staff made my decision easy because they showed authentic pride in their college and articulated a vested interest in the success of students.”

A first-generation college student, Cain attended Pasadena City College (a community college) and earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington, and a master’s degree from Ball State University. He earned his Ph.D. in education leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech University.

“Dr. Cain will add his passion about student success to the hard work already taking place at Pierce College,” Johnson said. “His extensive and well-rounded experience and talent will add a new perspective to our leadership team, and his personal story serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative value of community college education and the work that we do.”

Cain will join the college on or before August 1.

SURVEY UNDERWAY AT WESTERN STATE

Surveyors with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) arrived, Monday, May 14 at Western State Hospital (WSH) to determine whether the facility has been able to make necessary improvements in order to keep $65 million in federal funding.

This re-survey is a follow up from the last official visit of CMS in early May 2017 and is a result of a Systems Improvement Agreement (SIA) between the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and CMS that began in June of 2016. The agency entered into a second SIA in November 2017 – allowing DSHS more time to continue forward progress at the hospital while retaining continued eligibility for federal funding. 

The SIA was entered into so DSHS could fix systemic operating problems at the hospital and restore the focus on patient treatment and overall safety. 

During that last, rigorous survey a year ago, WSH was able to show CMS noticeable progress at the hospital, including significant improvements in areas such as active psychiatric treatment. 

Around 20 surveyors are currently on site at the hospital and they will review processes and procedures of the facility over the next two weeks. 

More information about the Systems Improvement Agreement is on the DSHS website at www.dshs.wa.gov/bha/division-state-hospitals/systems-improvement-agreement.

PANTAGES THEATER CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS

As part of the Broadway Center’s Centennial Campaign, Tacoma’s historic Pantages Theater will close for renovation between May 14 and Nov. 14. Broadway Center, BCRA, Korsmo Construction, City of Tacoma and other partners have been working diligently to find the best approach to address the venue’s improvement needs with minimal disruption to the theater and the community arts organizations that use it. New construction approaches and a reorganization of project phasing will allow the venue a shortened closure window than previously anticipated.

The Pantages Theater will reopen for the first performance of the 2018-19 season to reveal Tacoma’s crown jewel venue completely renovated and refreshed for future generations.

“In terms of safety, accessibility, comfort, and accuracy in restoring period craftsmanship, this will be an exquisite synthesis of old and new–and what’s even more exciting is that our community is so deeply involved,” stated Executive Director David Fischer.

The temporary closure for the Pantages Theater includes the following venue improvements:

New Seats

Perhaps most exciting to modern-day patrons is the total replacement of the Pantages seats. New seats will be historic in appearance, yet contemporary in comfort, with cup holders and varying widths for patron accommodation.

Community members interested in supporting the restoration and leaving a legacy are invited to “take a seat in Pantages history” through seat sponsorship. They may name one new theater seat for a gift of $1,000, or two or more seats at $850 each. Nameplates bearing an inscription of the donor’s choosing will be engraved on a plaque affixed to the seat. The estimated life of the new seats is 25 years. Payments may be made over two years. For more information, visit the Pantages Seat Campaign website (broadwaycenter.org/take-your-seat).

Seismic and Safety Improvements

Structural reinforcements in the plaster and stained glass canopy will preserve the theater’s structure and historic features in the event of seismic activity. The center aisle will be reinstated in the theater’s floorplan, reducing emergency evacuation time by half.

Historic Restoration of Paint and Plaster

By conducting forensic research on layers of paint and plaster dating back to the Pantages’ construction in 1918, Jeffrey Greene of EverGreene Architectural created a design plan to restore the Pantages interior to a radically improved and more historically accurate paint palette and plaster texture.

Acoustic Improvements

With updated flooring, doors, and seats, the hall will enjoy more resonance and a livelier sound. A new orchestra shell onstage will further enhance acoustic features, leading to a richer sound for music, particularly classical performances.

“These historic beautification efforts will lead to a radically different experience for generations of audience members to come. The result will be an aesthetic and acoustic experience closer to what the theater’s original patrons encountered when inside the grand hall on its opening night in 1918,” said Fischer.

Future improvements, once fundraising is complete, will include:

  • Remodel of downstairs restrooms
  • Pantages backstage expansion
  • Improvements to Theater on the Square, converting it to an exhibit on civic engagement named in honor of two civic leaders, Babe Lehrer and Dawn Lucien, creating the Lehrer-Lucien Commons.

The remaining scope of construction will be phased over several years with minimal disruption to theater operations. All improvements now, since the initial Pantages restoration in 1983, have been accomplished through partnerships with the City of Tacoma (a public/private partnership with Broadway Center) the State of Washington, and private donors. Individuals interested in contributing to Tacoma’s historic Theater District restoration should contact Director of Philanthropy Stacey Guadnola at (253) 591-5524.

Tacoma’s Historic Theater District contributes $24 million annually to downtown’s growing economy. The community treasures its arts scene and the Broadway Center strives to deliver quality programs that reflect the diversity of our region and strengthen the social fabric of our communities. A study by Americans for the Arts found 87 percent of people believe the arts are important to quality of life, and 82 percent believe they are important to local businesses and the economy.

ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION RECRUITING VOLUNTEER FACILITATORS 

Make a difference in the life of a family caregiver. The Alzheimer’s Association is currently recruiting local volunteers to facilitate an evening family caregiver support group in Tacoma. Family caregiver support groups provide a consistent and caring place for caregivers to learn, share, and gain emotional support from others who are also on a unique journey of providing care to a person with memory loss.

Our chapter-trained volunteers receive excellent training, ongoing support, resources, and continuing education opportunities. Individuals who are often best qualified as support group facilitators include: working or retired social workers, nurse and other healthcare professionals, educators, clergy, counselors, and former family caregivers. Commitment of at least one year is required.

Interested in learning more? Contact Linda Whiteside, director of community support, at 1 (800) 848-7097 or (206) 529-3875 or lwhitesi@alzwa.org.

TACOMA POLICE UNION ENDORSES ROBNETT FOR PROSECUTOR

Yet another Pierce County law enforcement organization is throwing its support behind Mary Robnett for county prosecutor. The Tacoma Police Union voted to endorse Robnett in her challenge to incumbent Mark Lindquist. The union, Tacoma Police Local #6, joins the Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs Guild and the Pierce County Corrections and Sergeants Guild in backing her. The Washington State Patrol Troopers Association is also endorsing Robnett.

“It’s an honor to earn the Tacoma Police Union’s endorsement,” Robnett said. “Police and prosecutors often work closely together. In my 24 years as a professional prosecutor, I’ve depended upon and really valued the excellent work of our Tacoma police officers and detectives. I appreciate, and am honored by, their support and confidence in me in this race.”

CITY SCHEDULES SECOND ROUND OF RAIL CROSSING COMMUNITY MEETINGS

The City of Tacoma is holding community meetings regarding rail crossings in the Dome District, Old Town and the West End. This is the second round of meetings being held as part of the city’s efforts to evaluate a number of these rail crossings. At these meetings, information will be presented about the public feedback provided at previous meetings and about potential engineering options that are being evaluated. The dates and locations available for community members to provide input include:

  • Tuesday, May 22, 4-6 p.m. at Titlow Lodge, 8425 6th Ave. in Tacoma
  • Wednesday, May 23, 4-6 p.m., Old Town Music Society, 2101 N. 30th St. in Tacoma
  • Thursday, May 24, 4-6 p.m. at 323 Puyallup Ave. in Tacoma

To view a map showing the general location of the rail crossings being evaluated, or for more information, visit cityoftacoma.org/railcrossings, or contact Project Manager Mark D’Andrea at mdandrea@cityoftacoma.org, or call (253) 591-5518.

PLU EARNS MULTIPLE EMMY NOMINATIONS

Three Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) student media organizations – MediaLab, the Center for Media Studies, and “Late Knight” – all entities within the University’s School of Arts and Communication, have received a total of four 2018 Emmy Award nominations in three different categories from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter. 

MediaLab, PLU’s applied research and multimedia program, earned two nominations in the long-form, non-fiction documentary category for two episodes of a four-part series titled “A World of Difference,” which explores the shifting cultural landscapes of race, class, immigration status, and gender across North America. 

Another documentary produced by two individual Center for Media Studies students received one nomination in the long-form, non-fiction category. The production, titled “More Than a Mission: Stemming the Sex Trade in Angeles City,” investigates the plight of young women trapped in the world of human trafficking in The Philippines. 

The fourth Emmy nod was earned by members of PLU’s student entertainment show, “Late Knight,” for a short-form fiction feature titled “‘Twas The Late Knight Before Christmas.” 

In response to the MediaLab nominations, Mackenzie Cooper (class of 2018), a two-year member of the organization and a producer on “A World of Difference,” said the recognitions are an incredible honor. 

“We worked hard to create films that inspire thoughtful and necessary conversations regarding the difficult topics of race, gender, immigration and class,” said Cooper. “This recognition affirms the success of the stories and our ability to tell them.” 

“A World of Difference” was produced by a team that included Cooper, a communication major, as well as fellow communication majors Joshua Wiersma (2018), director of photography and editor; Julia Grosvenor (2019), story editor; and digital media major Rachel Lovrovich (2018), director and designer. The series contained an original musical soundtrack composed by Dalton Rouse (2018), with narration by Jonathan Spielmann (2018). 

“A World of Difference” was made possible in part by funding from PLU’s Wang Center for Global Education and PLU’s Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability Fund. 

For more information about “A World of Difference” or other MediaLab productions, please visit worldofdifferenceseries.com or https://medialab.plu.edu, or contact Camille Lemke at (303) 570-9989, or via e-mail at lemkecr@plu.edu. 

The co-producers of “More than a Mission” were Cara Gillespie (2017) and Elise Anderson, (2017), who conceived, wrote, directed, and edited the project. Gillespie and Anderson, both of whom have graduated and begun their professional careers, said they were thrilled that the project resonated with audiences, and achieved their goal of shedding light on an issue often overlooked and under-reported. 

“It‘s a huge honor to be nominated for an Emmy,” Gillespie said. 

Working in partnership with the non-governmental organization Wipe Every Tear, Gillespie and Anderson shared the story of one woman who was freed from the sex trade. 

“More than anything, I’m just struck with the idea that we told her story in a way so that it moved other people as much as it moved us,” said Anderson. 

“More Than a Mission” was made possible in part by funding from PLU’s Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability Fund and the Center for Media Studies. The students also worked closely with staff members of Wipe Every Tear, as well as staff and faculty from PLU’s Diversity Center, the Center for Media Studies, and the School of Arts and Communication. 

Sam Ellefson (2019), executive producer and host of “Late Knight,” also expressed gratitude for the Emmy nod received by that show, a late-night style comedy that occurs six times each academic year on the PLU campus. 

“Our team has been working extremely hard to create a unique and professional show at the collegiate level,” said Ellefson. “It is an honor to be recognized for our hard work and we are excited for what is to come in the future of our program.” 

“Late Knight” is entirely student-written, student-run, and student-produced. The show features monologues, guest interviews, games, and performances. 

In addition to Ellefson, other “Late Knight” students recognized are: Natalie Mooney (2019); producer David Smith (2020); talent Riley Dolan (2019) and Collin Geffrey (2018); director/producer Megan Longstaff (2019); makeup and floor management Hallie Harper (2021); camera operator Dina Longstaff (2019;) costumes/crew Eric Zayas (2018); camera operator Elsa Kienberger (2018); and writer Ali Struble (2021). 

The Emmy winners in all categories will be announced at an awards event on Saturday, June 9 at the Fremont Studios in Seattle. 

PEACE COMMUNITY CENTER SEEKS GRANT

Peace Community Center, a local educational nonprofit that serves Hilltop students from elementary school through a post-secondary degree, is applying for a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. The program will serve elementary students in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood who attend McCarver Elementary School and are in second through fifth grade. If awarded, the grant will provide funding for 100 students to receive hands-on after-school and summer programming to help students reach their academic and life potential, specifically seeking to help students build academic achievement in reading, math, science, and social-emotional development.

If awarded, enrollment into the program will begin in late August or early September of 2018 for the 2018-2019 school year. More information can be found at www.peacecommunitycenter.org.

Peace Community Center’s mission is to support and encourage youth historically underrepresented in college to cultivate their academic and leadership talents so that they can gain full access to educational opportunities and reach their full potential. To meet this mission, the Center operates after-school and summer programs for Hilltop students from second grade through post-secondary completion.

UWT TO HOST DISCUSSION ON THREATS TO KILLER WHALES

University of Washington-Tacoma is the venue for an event bringing together one of the world’s leading researchers on orcas and an engineer renowned for policy solutions to big problems. “Hope for Orcas: Orca Researcher Ken Balcomb and an Urgent Call to Action” will take place on Thursday, May 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at William W. Philip Hall, University of Washington-Tacoma. This event is free, but RSVP is required at http://saveourorcas.eventbrite.com.

In a talk entitled “Hope for Orcas,” organized by Citizens for a Healthy Bay, Ken Balcomb, the principal investigator and founder of the Center for Whale Research, will share his perspective on the endangered whales and the threat of their imminent extinction. He will be joined by Jim Waddell, civil engineer with Damsense who worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 36 years. Balcomb and Waddell will discuss a range of actions in the Salish Sea and in the Columbia/Snake River system that could improve the outlook for the survival of orcas.

“Threats to orca survival have been said to fall into three main categories,” said Balcomb. “Shortage of food – primarily Chinook salmon – is the big one, followed by the accumulation of toxic pollutants in orcas’ fatty tissues, and, a distant last, impairment of living conditions due to boat and ship noise.”

“What we don’t yet know about the lives of these animals outweighs what we do know, but we do know enough to feel compelled to save them from extinction,” said Balcomb, “and what we are led to know about solving their endangered predicament is often based on misconceptions.”

For example, says Balcomb, it is a misconception that the group of orcas known as Southern resident killer whales lives only in the waters of the Salish Sea, including Puget Sound. “They currently spend as much as 95 percent of their time outside the Salish Sea,” said Balcomb. He cites evidence from a five-year coastal sighting study his organization reported in 2013, and a NOAA Fisheries study showing some satellite-tagged orcas spent a high proportion of time at the entrance to the Columbia River, searching for food.

Waddell, the engineer and retired Army Corps employee, relying on historical and empirical evidence, says the salmon runs all the way up into the Snake River are critical for orca food supply. During the talk, he will highlight information from government agencies that shows why it is immediately feasible to decommission and breach the four hydroelectric and navigation dams in the Snake River, as he outlined in a 2016 Seattle Times op-ed.

Melissa Malott, executive director of Citizens for a Healthy Bay, the event’s organizer, says only a united effort by the community will contribute to saving Chinook salmon and the Southern resident whale population. “We’re grateful for this chance to hear from one of the world’s leading experts on this special population of orcas, and look forward to hearing what can be done to prevent their extinction.”

In addition to Citizens for a Healthy Bay, the event is co-sponsored by the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Center for Whale Research, Damsense, Friends of the Earth, Orca Network and the Endangered Species Coalition.

COUNTY LAUNCHES EXTRA SEAT BELT ENFORCEMENT

Ninety-five percent of Washington drivers and passengers use their seat belts, according to a new report from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. That leaves only five percent of people who might be subject to seat belt tickets during the “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign. 

The May 14 through June 3 extra seat belt enforcement campaign runs through Memorial Day, one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year.

According to the report, Pierce County lags behind the state with an observed seat belt use rate of 91.6 percent.

More than 150 law enforcement agencies throughout the state will be participating in this 17th annual Click it or Ticket campaign.

In Pierce County, the Sumner, Bonney Lake, Fife, Puyallup, University Place, Lakewood, Fircrest, Tacoma and Gig Harbor Police Departments, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol will be placing special emphasis on seat belt and proper child restraint use.

As well, in conjunction with the Click it or Ticket campaign, a national seat belt enforcement effort called Border to Border will take place on Monday, May 21 from 4-8 p.m. It is a national seat belt awareness event involving states across the U.S. including Washington and Idaho.

Washington passed a secondary seat belt law in 1986 and the seat belt use rate that year was 36 percent. In the following years, Washington’s seat belt use rate rose and by 2002 the rate was 82 percent. During 2002, Washington passed a primary seat belt law and the seat belt use rate rose to 92 percent the very next year. The seat belt use rate has remained between 94 to 95 percent for the last several years. During the same time periods, the unrestrained fatality rate decreased dramatically from accounting for 64 percent of all traffic deaths to 18 percent of all traffic deaths.

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