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S. 4th St. closed from Broadway to Stadium Way

Sound Transit’s contractor is installing track and foundations for Link power poles on Stadium Way from Division Avenue to the 705 onramp. This work resulted in closing South 4th Street from Broadway to Stadium Way for about three to four weeks. Traffic can continue to go northbound on Stadium Way from the 705 onramp to Tacoma Avenue. While South 4th Street is closed, the Division Avenue and Stadium Way intersection will be open to two-way traffic.

Additional construction and traffic restrictions this week:

  • South 4th Street from Broadway to Stadium Way – closed.
  • Division Avenue and J Street intersection – lane and intersection closure.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Way from South 3rd Street to South 5th Street – lane restrictions.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Way between South 14th to 16th Street – southbound lane closure.
  • Stadium Way from Broadway to the 705 onramp — southbound lane closure; use detours.

Political Science Speaker Series: Debate for Tacoma

The Monday, Oct. 7 Political Science Speaker Series at Pacific Lutheran University will feature candidates from Tacoma City Council and for the Port of Tacoma, who will be debating their opponents with student as moderators from the PLU’s Political Science Department.

For Port of Tacoma candidates, it will be Kristin Ang vs. Dave Bryant, and Frank Boykin vs. Deanna Keller. For Tacoma City Council, it will be David Combs vs. Keith Blocker, Conor McCarthy vs. Courtney Love, and Kristina Walker vs. John O’Loughlin. This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Anderson University Center, 12180 Park Ave. S., Parkland.

For more information about the event, please contact Dr. Artime at artimemr@plu.edu.

Outdoor improvements coming to Sprinker Recreation Center

Sprinker Recreation Center, a versatile regional sports complex located in the Parkland-Spanaway area, home to countless baseball and soccer tournaments, western Washington’s largest outdoor skatepark, mountain climbing rock, and many other amenities, is scheduled for outdoor improvements.

Pierce County Parks is seeking public input this fall and winter to determine a final project plan for these outdoor improvements with construction anticipated to begin in 2022.

Following a public process in 2016 and 2017, the Parks Board adopted a Master Plan for Sprinker Recreation Center, which includes outdoor improvements. Some ideas include a spray park, new multi-purpose athletic fields, expanded playground, picnic areas and accessible walking trails. 

To help fund this project, Pierce County Parks will apply for a Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office grant in 2020. Anticipated construction would begin in 2022 or 2023. 

Three opportunities for public input are scheduled to continue the conversation on outdoor improvement concepts. The first will be on Tuesday, Oct. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Alder Room at Sprinker Recreation Center, located at 14824 C St. S. in Tacoma. The goal of these meetings will be to gather input from park users to refine designs for the outdoor improvements. 

Drop by Sprinker Recreation Center on Oct. 8 to learn about the design choices and share your thoughts. Bring the family. Snacks and activities will be provided for kids. If you cannot attend this meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to share your ideas online at https://sprinkerrec.participate.online Oct. 8-31.  

You can find a schedule for future events and sign up for email updates at the project website at https://sprinkerrec.participate.online.

Ride the Bus with Tacoma Creates for Arts Month

Join the Ride the Bus event on Oct. 9 to help celebrate Arts Month. Hear about the exciting events happening for Arts Month from Community Program Specialist Chevi Chung, and get the inside scoop on the new voter-approved Tacoma Creates, an initiative that will expand equity and access to Tacoma’s arts, culture, science, and heritage programs from Tacoma Creates Manager Lisa Jaret. 

Riders will meet at the Tacoma Dome Station Zone E at noon for a ride on Pierce Transits’ Rte. 13. All participants will receive a loaded ORCA card and commuter items. The bus will return to the same location by 1 p.m. Space is limited and registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/y6kmdsrh.

This free event, sponsored by the Puyallup Watershed Initiative Active Transportation Community of Interest, is one of two Ride the Bus events each year that give riders a chance to learn about their community, ask questions, and have a conversation with local leaders.

Tacoma Dome Station is accessible by many Pierce Transit routes and by Sound Transit’s Tacoma Link and Sounder.

Find Downtown On the Go at downtownonthego.org, or on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Dr. Megan Quinn resigns associate medical examiner position

Dr. Megan Quinn announced on Oct. 1 that she is resigning from her position as Pierce County’s Associate Medical Examiner. Quinn was returned to duty from paid administrative leave without restrictions or corrective action of any kind. She will remain with the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office until Dec. 31. 

An independent investigation into complaints raised by employees of the Medical Examiner’s Office has been resolved by agreement. No findings of wrongdoing were made regarding Quinn. 

Pierce County is committed to operating with the highest integrity and commitment to justice so that the citizens of Pierce County can have confidence and trust in the important work performed at the Medical Examiner’s Office.  

Pierce County thanks Dr. Quinn for her service.

Tacoma included in $1.5 million for rail safety upgrades 

State regulators approved nearly $1.5 million in grant funds over two years for rail safety upgrades, including improvements at oil train crossings.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved $1,483,456 in Grade Crossing Protective Fund grants between 2017 and 2019. The grants were awarded for safety improvements at crossings along crude oil routes, pedestrian and driver safety improvements, and upgraded signals and warning devices to reduce injuries and fatalities at rail crossings throughout the state. 

“Washington’s railroads are vital to our economy, transporting passengers and valuable cargo, as well as hazardous materials,” said UTC Chair Dave Danner. “These grants help ensure that rail operations do not compromise the safety of Washington communities.” 

From 2017 to 2019, the commission awarded nearly $1,140,000 to install or improve active warning devices at three crossings along oil routes, which includes $50,000 to the City of Tacoma to assist in paying for installation of pedestrian signals and gates at the McCarver Street crossing.

This year it’s a ‘Baby Animal Zoolights’

It’s been a big year for baby animals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and now they’re coming to Zoolights! An LED tapir mom and calf, tamandua pup, beaver kit and eight red wolf pups will join the annual holiday lights display, brightening the Zoo and delighting guests with over 700,000 lights.

Alongside the baby animals and old favorites like the Narrows Bridges, Mt. Rainier and the 100-foot octopus will be some new spaces filled with dazzling lights.

Zoolights begins Nov. 29 and runs through Jan. 5. Hours are 5-9 p.m. nightly, except for a one-night closure on Dec. 24. Zoolights is open on both the Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 holidays.

Tickets go on sale Nov. 1 at www.pdza.org/zoolights for this longest-running and most-loved holiday lights extravaganza in the region. Discounted tickets are just $11 per person when purchased online or at Puget Sound-area Fred Meyer stores. Regular general admission is $13 at the gate.

The new Pacific Seas Aquarium will not be open during Zoolights hours, but guests who want to see it and enjoy Zoolights during the same visit can buy a Day/Night Combo Pass at the zoo’s front gate. The passes, ranging from $20 to $28 depending on age, are a great deal. They allow for a daylong visit to the zoo plus Zoolights after dark. (NOTE: The Zoo is closed during the day Tue-Wed through Dec. 23.)

From their first steps inside, Zoo guests will be immersed in a sea of lights. Local landmarks like the towering 23-foot-high Mt. Rainier and two Narrows Bridges, a sprawling 100-foot pink-and-orange octopus, a giant crab with moving pincers and an 8-foot-long sea turtle will be among the familiar favorites, along with whimsical animal scenes like sledding penguins, ice skating puffins, a walrus family and a trio of polar bears.

Sasquatch – a big hit last year – will once again stalk the Red Wolf Woods, followed by eight red wolf pups.

But it’s not only ocean creatures and baby animals that are spread in lights throughout the Zoo. Guests can:

  • spot leaping leopards, hopping frogs and swinging siamangs,
  • laugh at a tiger cub chasing a butterfly,
  • take a selfie with the blue-and-green 12th Man Seahawks tree, or the brilliant purple Flame Tree,
  • see who’s awake in the Asian Forest Sanctuary dayroom – a tiger? A tapir?
  • bask in the steamy warmth of the South Pacific Aquarium, home to sharks and tropical fish,
  • grab a hot cocoa, beer, wine or other treats at the Plaza Café or stations around the Zoo
  • feed a goat or meet a mob of meerkats an
  • take a spin on the vintage carousel, with animal rides from tiger to slug.

Zoolights is presented by Fred Meyer. For more information, tips and a map, go to www.pdza.org/zoolights.

Applicants sought for Tacoma Arts Commission

Tacoma City Council is looking for applicants to fill the following positions on the Tacoma Arts Commission:

  • At-Large Positions 2, 3 and 7: Individuals representative of acknowledged accomplishment or working outside of professional practice in the arts but who demonstrate a deep interest in and appreciation of cultural and artistic activities
  • Professional Positions 1 and 2: Individuals who have had professional experience or training related to the arts, originating from employment or study within the following disciplines: arts or art history, arts administration, architecture, art criticism, 
    art education, curation, conservation, heritage arts, literate, music, new media, performing arts, public art, visual arts, or a related field

The Tacoma Arts Commission is comprised of 15 volunteer members who are appointed by the Economic Development Committee and confirmed by the City Council to serve three-year terms. Members are Tacoma residents who are arts advocates and artists.

The Tacoma Arts Commission provides leadership in supporting and enhancing the arts for the benefit of the City and its residents. The primary responsibility of the Commission is to create policies to support the ongoing development of arts programs and projects in Tacoma. Its primary programs include the funding of artists and arts organizations to provide services for the citizens of Tacoma, Tacoma Arts Month, and oversight of public art as part of the Municipal Art Program. The Commission’s functions are outlined in Chapter 1.28A and 1.28B of the Tacoma Municipal Code.

The Tacoma Arts Commission strongly supports inclusion, equity and access. People who are members of historically disenfranchised racial, ethnic, cultural, and other identity groups are encouraged to apply.

Monthly meetings are held from 5-7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, in the Tacoma Municipal Building (747 Market St., Room 248). Regular attendance at these monthly meetings is required. Beyond monthly meetings, commissioners are asked to sit on at least one subcommittee and one selection panel each year. Commissioners are also asked to periodically attend and evaluate programs produced by artists and organizations that the Commission funds, and are expected to attend and assist with all major programs the Commission produces. A major commitment of the Commission is helping support Tacoma Arts Month, which takes place each October. 

Additional information on the Tacoma Arts Commission is available on the City’s website or from Naomi Strom-Avila at (253) 591-5191 or nstrom-avila@cityoftacoma.org.

Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office by Thursday, Oct. 10. Please visit cityoftacoma.org/cbcapplication or contact Michelle Emery at (253) 591-5178 or servetacoma@cityoftacoma.org, or the City Clerk’s Office, Room 11, Municipal Building North, 733 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402.

Film explores challenges of aging in place

More than 75 percent of Americans aged 50 and older would prefer to stay at home as they age. When aging in place, the underlying goal is to live in the residence of their choice for as long as they can. But there is much more to staying safe at home than meets the eye. 

The Images of Aging film series, sponsored by Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources, is offering a free screening of “5 Flights Up.” The movie will be shown on Oct. 12, at the Grand Cinema, located at 606 S. Fawcett Ave. in Tacoma. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and the film begins at 10:45 a.m. Tickets are free but must be obtained in advance online or by calling the Aging and Disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600.

“5 Flights Up” is a 2015 comedy-drama starring award-winning actors Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton as a happily married couple. After forty years living in the same apartment, they decide to move into a place that is easier to manage, resulting in a soul-searching journey. The film is an exploration into the multitude of concerns, values and dynamics of family that can raise complex questions about life as we age.

“A home is much more than just a place to live,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources manager.” Over time it becomes filled with history, memories, and stories. As the years go by, health changes, neighborhoods evolve and our abilities lessen. Inevitably, we start asking about where we should live. But the answers are not always clean cut.”

Every film in the Images of Aging series is free and open to the public. All seats are general admission and given on a first come, first serve basis. Tickets are available one month prior to showing and must be obtained online in advance. For more information about the films call the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600 or 1 (800) 562-0332.

Financial aid applications open now

Oct. 1 marks the first day students can apply for financial aid to go to college in the 2020-21 school year. Next school year is also when the Washington College Grant will be fully funded. The grant will give more money to more students for more kinds of education and training after high school. Touted as one of the most generous and flexible programs in the country, it will help low- and middle-income people of all ages take their next step. The grant currently supports students pursuing certificates and degree programs. Beginning in 2020-21 it will also support people in registered apprenticeships. 

Applying for financial aid is a crucial first step for college and career training. Before students can receive any state or federal financial aid, they have to submit a financial aid application. But far too few students apply for financial aid in Washington. Last year, only about half of all high school seniors filed a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). As a result, Washington placed 48th in the nation for FAFSA completion and missed out on more than $50 million in federal student financial aid. 

In Washington, there are two ways to apply for financial aid. U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens apply with the FAFSA. People who can’t file the FAFSA due to immigration status can still apply for state aid with the WASFA, the Washington Application for State Financial Aid. Students who submit a FAFSA or a WASFA are far more likely to attend college. 

This year, the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) is expanding the 12th Year Campaign. High schools that take part have FAFSA completion rates 11 percentage points higher than schools that don’t. At 12th Year Campaign events, experts and trained volunteers help students and their families with financial aid and college applications. WSAC also partners with colleges, libraries, and community groups to organize financial aid events. Events are scheduled throughout the year during the school day, in the evenings, or on weekends. Find dates and locations on the 12th Year Campaign map, updated weekly.

WSAC will also pilot a new texting tool, AdmitHub. Students will get information and answers to their questions about applying for financial aid via text. WSAC will pilot texting with high school students who signed up for the College Bound Scholarship. These students usually qualify for many state and federal need-based financial aid programs. But they still have to complete a FAFSA or WASFA to access those funds. 

Students should apply for financial aid as soon as possible. Some types of aid are first-come, first-served, and colleges have different deadlines. Students need to know the deadlines for the colleges they want to attend. Visit ReadySetGrad.wa.gov for more information on admissions, financial aid, and college readiness. 

The 12th Year Campaign is a Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) initiative to increase educational attainment. This work is made possible through state funding and support from the Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) as well as site volunteer support from the Washington Financial Aid Association (WFAA). 

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