Archive for February 2011

Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney Announces Plans to Run For Third Term

I am announcing my intention to file to run for a third term as mayor of Hoquiam.  While I can point to great progress in Hoquiam over the past 8 years, I am looking forward to continuing to put my energy and confidence into the future of my home town.
 
I believe the signature accomplishment of my administration has been the Hometown Hoquiam effort which has been a blueprint for progress and recovery from two decades of economic devastation.  We certainly lost jobs and tax base to support crucial municipal services, but Hoquiam people never lost their pride.  That is why more than 250 people participated in our Hometown Hoquiam workshops 6 years ago.  They identified four major tasks for our community:  (1) Improving our economy, (2) Beautifying the city and neighborhoods, (3)Fixing our sidewalks, and (4) Improving public safety.  While it did not appear on the Hometown Hoquiam list, I have added a fifth, sixth, and seventh to my list of goals: (5) Updating our aging infrastructure, (6) Establishing conservative financial practices, and (7) Hiring quality people in all departments.
 
Improving our Economy:  I have changed the focus of the City of Hoquiam to work in a stronger partnership with the Port of Grays Harbor in their efforts to stimulate development of water-born commerce.  As the lead permitting agency locally in some of these, Imperium Renewables and Westways Terminals in the T-1 area and the Willis Enterprises a T-3 near Bowerman Field are new and bringing employment and tax base to our town.  We have also partnered with the business community to form the Hoquiam Business Association which promote the re-development of our business areas in all parts of Hoquiam.  I am proud that we are seeing growth of small independent businesses that are creating a stronger retail community than we have seen in years. All of us at the City are focused on growing jobs and revitalizing our economy.  As our new land use plan has demonstrated, we are removing any impediments to economic growth while at the same time retaining the character of our neighborhoods.  Further, our Historic Preservation Commission assists owners of historically-significant structures to take advantage of various incentives to rehabilitate their buildings.
 
The Future:  We will continue this focus as we see more development in the T-3 (old Rayonier sawmill) area, the Anderson-Middleton property at the foot of 8th, and downtown as the area from 6th to 9th along Simpson and the waterfront is changed.  The addition of a City Planner who also acts as our Economic Development Coordinator is key to continuing this momentum.  I am very proud of our new Welcome sign at the entrance to the city on Sumner.  We will also be installing new signs around the business areas to assist tourists and visitors to find their way around.  City properties including the vacant lot next to US Bank, the farmers market building, the old senior center on 8th, and even the police station area at Rayonier Point have development opportunities that we will explore.  We will also continue to focus on historic preservation.  And finally, we have just applied for a $200,000 grant to develop our waterfront with boat launch and docking facilities.
 
Beautifying the City and Neighborhoods:  The community told us that they wanted neighborhoods cleaned up by removing dangerous and deteriorating houses and business, removing debris and junk cars, and by improving our neighborhood parks.  We responded by increasing financial resources to staffing to speed the abatement process and remove dangerous structures.  We also added responsibilities to our animal control officer to deal with abandoned cars.  
 
Not content to just tear down deteriorated buildings, we have also worked to replace them with new housing.  We have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to turn vacant lots in to homes for young families and also have received a three year NSP grant to partner with NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor to repair or build new homes for low income and elderly.
 
One program of which I am the most proud is the creation of a citizen Urban Forestry Board that has supervised the creation and administration of a very successful program that has seen over 250 trees planted along Sumner, Emerson, and in areas downtown where new sidewalks have been installed.  We are the only city on the coast of Washington that has received the prestigious Tree City USA designation.  
 
I am very proud of a goal that I set a few years ago and that was the construction of a skate board park.  We obtained a $150,000 grant to upgrade John Gable Park and in addition to fencing, parking, restroom and other improvements, we now have a cool skate board park that we can expand in the future as funds allow.  
 
The Future:  We will continue to focus on making sure that all neighborhoods in Hoquiam are free of properties that cause a neighborhood to deteriorate.  And very importantly, we will make special efforts to make sure that people who are in the business of renting property are held accountable for homes that are unsafe or used for illegal purposes.  We will not compromise on life or health safety in Hoquiam.  The Urban Forestry Board also plans to expand tree planting in residential neighborhoods by creating partnerships with residents, the City, and various community groups.  We have received a $200,000 grant to put in a sprinkler park and make other significant upgrades in the Art Pocklington Central Playfield and will upgrade the various neighborhood parks throughout the city over the next two years.
 
Additionally, we are in great need of new middle-class family housing in Hoquiam and we will work with the new owners of the Summerhaven development to assist them in expanding.  We will also work with the owners of riverfront land in the north end as well as above Beacon Hill which we see as a potential housing development.  At the same time, it will give us an opportunity to have a second route to the Woodlawn area.
 
Fixing our Sidewalks  The replacement of deteriorated sidewalks is merely a dream in most cities but in Hoquiam it is a reality.  We have created a neighborhood sidewalk partnership program that has resulted in the creation of over one mile of new sidewalks.  We have received a Municipal Excellence Award from the Association of Washington Cities and a Governor’s Smart Communities Award for this program that involves the City replacing sidewalks with the assistance of the property owners paying for the materials.  
 
Additionally, we have received a $1,200,000 grant to replace downtown sidewalks and lights and will be creating sidewalks along Levee from 6th to 9th that will be completed in early summer.  
 
The future:  We are targeting a $1,000,000 Safe Streets to Schools grant to put in additional sidewalks near our schools.  We will continue our neighborhood sidewalk program in the future and hope at the same time to add trees in the planting strips in those areas.
 
Improving Public Safety  Police, fire, and ambulance services are crucial and I am extremely proud of not only the management of our departments but also the quality of our new police officers and fire fighters/paramedics.  We have made a special effort to upgrade and modernize our equipment as needed and also to make sure that we hire only the best people as retirements occur.  Unlike other communities, our conservative spending has allowed us to maintain a consistent level of service without experiencing layoffs.  We have created a Crime Watch program with volunteers who are committed to helping the community.  I was honored recently to present awards to two volunteers who had given 500 and 1000 hours of service helping at community events and patrolling residential and business areas.
 
The Future:  Our biggest challenge at the moment will be replacing a 30+ year old ineffective aerial apparatus that has been taken off the line due to the cost to upgrade it.  We will go to the community to fund its replacement later this spring.  The police department is developing an Explorer post and will also be focusing on state accreditation.  We remain committed to providing the most modern and equipment and to take advantages of improvements in technology that allow our people to do their jobs well.
 
Updating infrastructure  “Infrastructure” is a very boring topic until it doesn’t work.  We have had failures in major sewer lines as well as two major breaks in our five mile long water transmission line.  With so much of our modern water and sewer system having been installed in the 1950s, its service life is coming to an end.  I have encouraged funding upgrades where appropriate to pump stations but also to the planning, design, and funding of major replacements to our treatment plants, main water transmission line and major force mains.  I am proud of our acquisition of a $9,000,000 low-interest loan to remove biosolids from the wastewater treatment facility pond as well as replacement of an adjoining force main, the removal of our Little Hoquiam Dam with a $600,000 grant, our plans to explore the opportunity to draw significant water from a well at the water treatment plant, our application to replace some parts of the water transmission line, and the conclusion of a ten year harvest plan for our watershed timber lands which has historically funded so much of our water and sewer system.  
 
The Future:   Portions of our aging system will continue to blow out from stress and deterioration so a top priority for us is to very aggressively work to obtain grants and low interest loans for planning, design, and construction. It won’t all be done in my next term or perhaps even in my lifetime but it is an important legacy for our children and grandchildren.  
 
Establishing conservative financial practices:  I am proud that we are in our second two-year budget cycle.  This has allowed us to think strategically as well as tactically.  Staffing and program reductions in prior years have allowed us to learn to work more efficiently with fewer people and as a consequence, we have not found it necessary to reduce staff or cut back on services.  Cities are not allowed to run deficits – unlike state and federal government so we always have an eye on the pocketbook before launching new services.  Additionally, we created reserve funds for the future that allow us to weather what we hope are temporary economic declines and also to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities to improve our community.  I am very proud that we were able to purchase school bonds from the Hoquiam School District to assist in remodeling our middle school.  It was a win-win as our interest income was more than we had been receiving on those reserves and their loan interest was lower than other sources.  Both the school district and the City benefited.  Finally, our department managers have been very cautious in their spending and all of them have under-spent the amount they have been budgeted to receive.  
 
Hiring quality people:  Perhaps the most significant responsibility of the mayor is to make sure that the best people are hired to manage the many functions of municipal government.  A few years ago,  I directed the change in our organizational structure to reinstate the City Administrator position.  Under the leadership of Brian Shay who last year received the Washington city managers’ Excellence Award, we are able to accomplish several of my personal organizational objectives:  (1) a significant improvement in internal collaboration between departments and external partnerships with other government agencies and the business community, (2) a strong focus on economic development, planning, and securing grants, and (3) making the City of Hoquiam an organization that is a good place to work and that focuses on customer service to our community.  In addition to Brian, I brought Jeff Myers on as our chief of police and Mike Folkers as finance director.  Brian, Jeff, and Mike happen to be the same age and bring to our staff a great deal of energy and join fire chief Ray Pumphrey and city attorney Steve Johnson as our key management team.  As retirements have occurred or people have moved on, we have hired very hard working people who serve us all extremely well.  The people who work for the City of Hoquiam are outstanding and perhaps my greatest legacy.
 
I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Hoquiam and am sincerely grateful to the support of my wife Sue Ann and my kids Jennifer Hogarty and Patrick Durney and all of the other employees of Durney Insurance Agency.  Without their support I would not be able to serve.

 

I wear very proudly a button that says “We Try Harder in Hoquiam”.  That defines our City of Hoquiam organization that I am so proud to lead as well as the citizens of Hoquiam who for over a century have been dedicated to taking care of their home town in so many way.  My parents and grandparents have given me a legacy of city buildings, parks, and facilities that they worked hard to build over the years and have entrusted to me .  With the continued help of our city family and the broader community as a whole, I will continue to work hard to keep that rich tradition alive as a gift to our children and grandchildren.

County Commissioner Mike Wilson

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Conservative Comments with Mike Yarmakovich

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Commentary from the Left with Gary Murrell

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New Education Resource For Grays Harbor and Pacific County’s Aspiring Teachers Comes Online

Under this degree option, students will take a two-year program offered at GHC and then enter CityU’s two-year Bachelor of Arts in Education program. They also will qualify to earn a teacher certification with an emphasis in Special Education, Elementary Education, Math, English Language Learners (ELL) or Reading and Literacy. Both single and dual endorsements are available in these emphasis areas, which are listed on CityU’s Bachelor of Arts in Education web page. Students also may take advantage of CityU’s convenient course schedule.

 

“Students living in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties should not have limited choices for their education because of our geographical location. Grays Harbor College is pleased to partner with CityU to offer the Bachelor of Arts in Education. Now our students can dream big and consider this excellent teaching degree program offered through our campus, close to home,” said GHC President Ed Brewster.

 

Currently, the Bachelor of Arts in Education degree is offered at CityU’s Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma, Vancouver, Port Angeles, Centralia and Longview sites. Several spaces are still available in GHC’s first CityU cohort group. For more information, please contact Jeff Snell, CityU Advisor at GHC, at [email protected].

 

The ASOE was the state’s fourth largest provider of teacher certificates during the 2008-09 academic year, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). CityU also was the largest and top provider of graduates with principal and program administrator certification and school counselor certification. For more information on CityU’s education programs, please visit www.cityu.edu/teacher.

 

 

About City University of Seattle

Founded in 1973 in Seattle, Washington, City University of Seattle is a private, not-for-profit university that has awarded over 45,000 degrees and certificates worldwide. City University of Seattle’s goal is to change lives for good by offering high quality and relevant online and in-class education options to any person in the world with a desire to learn. The university is comprised of The School of Management, The Gordon Albright School of Education, and The Division of Arts and Sciences. Headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, City University of Seattle offers classes at locations throughout Washington, Hawaii, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and China.

Agreements secure $590 million in federal passenger rail funding for Washington state

As a result of the $590 million in Recovery Act high-speed-rail funding:

  • Two additional daily Amtrak Cascades round trips will be added between Seattle and Portland, for a total six, by 2017.
  • On-time reliability is expected to increase from 62 to 88 percent.
  • More consistent speeds will be possible throughout the corridor, resulting in faster travel times between Seattle and Portland.
  • Major construction projects will be completed that will include building bypass tracks to allow for increased train frequency and multiple upgrades to existing track.
  • Several safety-related projects will be completed, including grade separations and the latest technology in advanced-warning signal systems. This will reduce passenger/freight congestion, making passenger travel times shorter with more reliable on-time service.

 

“This is another great development for our state in that this rail work will generate thousands of highly skilled construction and operating jobs and result in important improvements in rail passenger service,” Gregoire said. “It’s especially exciting following the Pentagon’s selection of Boeing to build the next generation of Air Force tankers, which also will bring thousands of jobs to Washington.”

 

Gregoire said credit is due to the state’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, who were instrumental in working with federal partners in Washington, D.C., to secure this passenger rail funding.

 

“Signing this agreement now means work can begin during this year’s construction season,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, noting that the ARRA funds will create more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Pacific Northwest. “Ultimately, the goal is to boost the rail-line capacity and relieve mainline congestion, allowing Amtrak Cascades to offer more frequent and reliable passenger rail service between Portland and Seattle.”

 

“This is an important milestone in our longstanding relationship with WSDOT to fund improvements for additional and improved passenger service in the Cascades corridor,” said Matt Rose, BNSF Railway chairman and CEO. “We believe reaching this agreement is consistent with that long-term relationship with WSDOT and our agreement with Amtrak, which will bring improved passenger service in the corridor.”

 

Ridership continues to grow on Amtrak Cascades, with a 10 percent increase between 2009 and 2010. Since Amtrak Cascades service began in 1994, annual ridership has increased from 100,000 to 840,000 last year.

 

“Amtrak is privileged to be a long-time partner with the state of Washington in the development, growth and operation of its premier and popular passenger rail service,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Amtrak congratulates all the parties in reaching this important agreement to advance America’s high-speed rail program and we look forward to the opportunity to deliver improved intercity travel options for rail passengers in the Pacific Northwest.”

 

Hammond said passenger rail is a viable alternative available to travelers up and down the I-5 corridor – the reason Washington has invested more than $331 million in passenger rail since 1994.

 

Washington state received an additional $161.5 million in high-speed rail funds redirected from Wisconsin and Ohio, which declined the ARRA money. Agreements to obligate this additional funding for Washington projects are expected in the near future.

 

In addition, Gregoire has said stimulus funds rejected by Florida could be well spent in Washington. Florida’s governor has indicated he will reject $2.4 billion in high-speed-rail stimulus funding. Additional money, up to the Washington state’s original application for $1.3 billion in ARRA funds, could be used to achieve more round trips between Seattle and Portland.

Hoquiam Farmer’s Market News – State Beverage Edition

 Years ago I used to participate in wholesale Trade shows, and I remember when Starbucks had their very first booth.  I’ve kicked myself ever since for not having recognized that they were destined for greatness.  The owners were charming, giving away cups of coffee and talking very rapidly about the revolutionary respect and techniques that they were bringing to coffee brewing.  Not being a coffee drinker, I didn’t even sample a cup.  But that was before all the unbelievably decadent combinations that are skillfully concocted now.  All those flavors, the cocoa, the cream- yup, I could become a true coffee-holic now. 

 

The big coffee news in Hoquiam is the opening of Tully’s Coffee in the old LaVogue Building.  Urbanization is coming to town!  The crew has been practicing their mixology techniques, learning the mysterious (to me) language of coffee.  I would embarrass myself trying to place an order.  It would be like learning to text or tweet, two other new languages I’ve chosen to not embrace.  

But, back to the coffee at Tully’s.  Downtown Hoquiam is due for transformation, and Tully’s is destined to be the hub of activity.  Carl Cozad, Tully’s manager, plans on opening the doors on Sunday, February 27th.  I happen to know that Nancy, Hoquiam Farmers Market Bakery queen, and Deidra, maker of fine soups and sandwiches at Deidra’s Deli, will be adding selections of their food specialties for discriminating customers at Tully’s. 
Smart move for Tully’s! 

 

Next door to Tully’s is the LaVogue Bicycle shop. One of Hoquiams’ hidden treasures.  I love this place!  Terry is incredibly knowledgeable, skilled, and easy to talk with.  If you are a biker who has encountered the usual nasty attitude of  big city bike shops, you can appreciate how rare  it is to be treated with kindness and respect.  It’s strange, but other bike shops actually pride themselves on being rude and condescending to customers.  Not in Hoquiam, thank goodness.  Many’s the time I’ve wheeled my ride in with flat tires or brake issues.  I’m one of those females who detests changing a tire, whether it’s a bike or car tire.  Terry understands that.  One of my favorite flat bike tire experiences could be used as an advertising campaign for Grays Harbor.
  I was riding by myself many miles outside of town when I had that sinking sensation of a flat tire.  It was going to be a long walk home, pushing my bike all the way.  Or so I thought.  Within moments a Grays Harbor Transit bus pulled up and offered me a ride.  I didn’t have bus fare, but that didn’t matter.  Never was a  damsel in distress treated better than I that day.  Door to door service to LaVogues, my tire fixed in (wait for the pun-) nothing flat, and I was back on the road again.  Confirmation once again of why I love living here.

 

For those of you who have been wistfully dreaming of Rhubarb Pie, I am the bearer of good news.  Nancy bought the first of the season fresh rhubarb and has both strawberry rhubarb and plain rhubarb pies available this week.  Aaahh.  It’s been a long dry spell without these beauties.  Did you know that most of the rhubarb in the United States is grown in Washington?  The Puyallup Valley is famous for fields of rhubarb, and they get a jump on the season by growing hot-house rhubarb.  Rhubarb is an exceptionally easy plant to grow, and Judy Hanson has the first rhubarb plant starts at the Hoquiam Farmers Market right now.  These are nice big clumps of roots- soon you’ll be harvesting your own rhubarb. 

 

Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Hoquiam Farmers Market located at 1958 Riverside.  By the river.  Ph. 538-9747

Aberdeen Fire Department Wins Grant to Fund New Heart Monitors

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations.

The Aberdeen Fire Department has received notification of funding in the amount of $57,000 to replace two heart monitors.  They are 12 lead capable to provide better views of the patients heart rhythm. Our current equipment is becoming obsolete and the availability of parts for servicing the equipment is no longer available.  The new heart monitors will also have the ability to monitor CO levels with a patient. 

Firefighter/Paramedic Ryan Knodel who is also the department Emergency Medical Coordinator was responsible for writing and managing this grant.
 
The department has had huge success over the years in obtaining federal grant funding for projects, which has greatly minimized the tax burden on our residents.  The projects previously approved total over $500,000;
 

2001 Mobile trailer “Live Burn” Trainer – $70,000

2002 Storz “quick connect” adapters for city fire hydrants – $40,950

2003 Firefighting clothing (PPE) for each firefighter – $56,700

2004 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus & Air Compressor -$198,000

2006 Diesel Exhaust Extraction System for both stations – $70,000

2007 Extraction Equipment (Jaws of Life) – $30,000

2009 Building Generator System for Station 1. – $57,000

Kitchen Fire Displaces Aberdeen Family

ABERDEEN, Wash. – An Aberdeen Family returned home to find black smoke filling their house yesterday evening. The Aberdeen Fire Department was called to the 100 block of West Marion just before 6pm to find a kitchen fire had spread to the attic area causing around 50 thousand dollars in damages. No one was injured, or even home, when the fire began, The fire department tells KBKW it appears food had been left cooking when the family went out. The fire displaces one mother and three children from the South Aberdeen Home.

School Closures and Delays, Day 2

Grays Harbor Co. Schools
Aberdeen Dist. #5 – Schools open on time. Buses on normal routes. Use caution in parking lots. Posted: Fri. 25th, 05:14 AM
Cosmopolis – Schools open on time. Bus on normal routes. Posted: Fri. 25th, 06:06 AM
Elma – 2 hrs late no A.M. pre-school Posted: Thu. 24th, 03:48 PM
Hoquiam – On time. Axford Prairie area buses 403 and 405 on show routes. Posted: Fri. 25th, 05:03 AM
McCleary – 2 hours late, no buses on Heslep and Cedar, no am preschool Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:19 PM
Montesano – 2 hrs late, Buses on snow rts UPDATE Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:05 PM
Oakville – 2 hrs late UPDATE Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:14 PM
Ocosta – 2 hrs late UPDATE Posted: Fri. 25th, 05:56 AM
Wishkah Valley – 2 hrs late Posted: Thu. 24th, 07:19 PM
 • North Beach – Schools open on time. Buses on normal routes.
Pre-Schools & Daycare
•Raindrop Co-Op Pre School is closed today
 
 Pacific Co. Schools
Raymond – 2 hrs late, Buses on snow rts Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:03 PM
South Bend – 2 hrs late, Buses on snow rts UPDATE Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:10 PM
Mason Co. Schools
Hood Canal – 2 hrs late, No AM preschool Posted: Thu. 24th, 06:03 PM
Shelton – Closed. No out of district transportation. Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:36 PM
Southside – Closed Posted: Thu. 24th, 05:40 PM
 
  
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Below is the flashnews site when it’s available.
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• North Beach – Schools open on time. Buses on normal routes.