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Posted on: August 24, 2015

Pierce County to reduce water usage in response to drought

Pierce County government will be taking steps to reduce water usage by at least 10 percent.

“I am asking staff to reduce the irrigation of lawns and landscaping at our facilities until further notice,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “We ar...

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Posted on: July 27, 2015

County outlines strategy for enforcing marijuana violations

By July 1, 2016, all unlicensed marijuana sales operations in unincorporated Pierce County – medical and recreational – must close. That message has been delivered to county landlords, business owners and operators whose establishments involve the burgeon...Read on...

Posted on: July 10, 2015

Executive McCarthy statement regarding referendum on General Services Building

“The merits of this project are clear: we can save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and dramatically improve customer service by consolidating 19 divisions from 14 locations into one. We can do this while owning the building instead of continuing to ...Read on...

Posted on: July 8, 2015

County Executive’s statement on JBLM personnel drawdown

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy issued the following statement regarding the announcement that U.S. Army officials intend to only reduce the force at Joint Base Lewis-McChord by 1,250, a number far lower than originally proposed.

“Last summer, the...

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Posted on: July 2, 2015

Ron Klein named interim communications director as Hunter George heads to Metro Parks Tacoma

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has named Ron Klein as the interim director of the Department of Communications while a search is made for a permanent hire.

Klein succeeds Hunter George, who has served as director since 2009 and resigned to take ...

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Posted on: June 22, 2015

Chambers Creek Regional Park reopening in stages, starting June 26

Sails statute in Spectator Square

Just hours after Jordan Spieth won the 2015 U.S. Open, construction crews were already beginning to remove the infrastructure that supported the championship in order to restore public access to Chambers Creek Regional Park as quickly as possible.

The ...Read on...

Posted on: June 21, 2015

Executive McCarthy: Chambers Bay was worthy of the toughest test in golf

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy about the conclusion of the 2015 U.S. Open:

"Congratulations to Jordan Spieth on winning the 2015 U.S. Open Championship. It was a thrilling week with lots of dramatic lead changes, and Chambers Bay proved worthy of the toughest test in golf.

"This was one of the most extraordinary weeks in our region's history. Our communities hosted thousands of visitors, and tens of millions of people saw spectacular views of our beautiful home. On behalf of Pierce County, I offer our thanks and appreciation to the local, state and federal partners who helped make this a huge success, as well as the championship volunteers and residents who provided such a warm welcome to all of our visitors.

"I especially want to thank the United States Golf Association for selecting Chambers Bay as the site of the first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest. Our county-owned golf course sets a great example for the USGA's goals of sustainable, accessible golf. I look forward to the post-championship reviews with county and USGA staff in the coming months. Our goal has always been to do this again and again, but first we have to take the time to analyze how it went.

"In the meantime, I am already looking forward to watching next year's championship at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania."

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: June 8, 2015

36 agencies join in support of U.S. Open security plan

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department will be supported by 36 local, state and federal agencies as they provide for the safety and security of everyone attending the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

The Sheriff’s Department, which is the lead agency for pub...Read on...

Posted on: May 6, 2015

Councilmember Talbert uses award to draw attention to 2015 Heart Walk

The American Heart Association has presented its Gold Achievement Award to Pierce County. The award, given to Councilmember Rick Talbert during the organization’s annual breakfast on May 5, recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees b...Read on...

Posted on: April 14, 2015

Chambers Bay set more fiscal records in 2014

Chambers Bay Golf Course set new fiscal records in 2014, even as it reduced the number of rounds played to prepare for the 2015 U.S. Open Championship this June.

The golf course, owned by Pierce County, set all-time annual records for average greens fe...Read on...

Posted on: March 16, 2015

County Executive, department leaders honor dozens for volunteer service

Pierce County honored 69 individuals and seven groups for outstanding volunteer service last year to parks, public safety, courts and community programs on Saturday, March 14, 2015.

The honorees, selected through a nomination process, were celebrated a...Read on...

Posted on: February 27, 2015

Farm Forum draws 200 people to boost agriculture business

Farmers, wholesalers, institutional buyers and technical experts gathered in Puyallup on Friday, Feb. 27, to share strategies and experiences for boosting markets for the local agricultural industry.

About 200 people attended Pierce County's second Farm Forum to learn more about agritourism and direct market sales, as well as to network with potential business partners.

"We have a rich agricultural heritage in this region, and the growing popularity of our Farm Forum shows there's great interest in supporting it," said County Executive Pat McCarthy, the event's host. "We brought farmers and buyers together to assist them in making business connections and discovering new opportunities in various market settings, such as retail, restaurants, hospitals, schools and farmers markets."

The Farm Forum, co-hosted by Cascade Harvest Coalition, featured presentations and lively discussions about marketing and agritourism. Speakers included representatives from the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, Blue Willow Lavender Farm, Wilcox Farms, and the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Participants learned more about the Pierce County Agriculture Program, which offers assistance with permitting, partnerships, promotion and land preservation. One highlight of the county program is the management of a mobile app for Puget Sound Fresh, Cascade Harvest Coalition's statewide directory of farms, farmers markets, products and activities.

Another session focused on opportunities and barriers that local food purchasers have experienced in buying food direct from farmers. Those speakers represented Harborview Medical Center, Whole Food Market, Sumner School District, Charlie's Produce, and Primo Grill.

The afternoon session featured a "speed-dating" format that gave local farmers the opportunity to meet with buyers from such entities as Joint Base Lewis McChord, farmers markets, Tacoma Boys, Marlene's Natural Foods Market & Deli, Harbor Greens Market, St. Martin's University, Pacific Lutheran University, Hotel Murano's Bite Restaurant and more.

Technical experts were available throughout the day to discuss financing, permits, conservation, health regulations and more.

The Farm Forum also received support from the Pierce Conservation District, The Russell Family Foundation, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the WSU Extension.

More information is available at www.piercecountywa.org/farming. The forum included the release of a new Pierce County TV video about agritourism, which can be found here: http://youtu.be/PWalNEV1wXk.

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: February 19, 2015

14 businesses and homeowner associations recognized for excellent stormwater management

Fourteen local businesses and homeowner associations have been recognized for taking steps to reduce the amount of pollution entering Pierce County’s waterways in 2014.

These businesses and associations received Pierce County’s “5-Star Excellence in St...

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Posted on: February 17, 2015

County Council approves new General Services Building plan

After years of planning, members of the Pierce County Council voted 4-3 on Feb. 17 to proceed with a major consolidation of county services into a new General Services Building.

Councilmembers Rick Talbert (District 5), Connie Ladenburg (District 4), Derek Young (District 7), and Joyce McDonald (District 2) voted for the plan. Council Chair Dan Roach (District 1) and Councilmembers Doug Richardson (District 6) and Jim McCune (District 3) voted against it.

The consolidation will bring together 19 departments and divisions currently scattered in 14 locations, including eight commercial leases covering 150,000 square feet.

"This business plan will save taxpayers millions of dollars in leases, staffing and maintenance costs," said Councilmember Talbert, who represents the area in Tacoma’s South End that will house the new campus. "We have carefully analyzed current and future costs, asset values, risk, and more. An independent consultant verified our staff savings through consolidation. This pencils out in the taxpayers' interest."

The 330,000-square-foot building will be constructed on the county-owned, 13-acre Pacific Avenue campus just up the hill from downtown. That site currently houses the former Puget Sound Hospital, which closed years ago. The county negotiated a "guaranteed maximum price" of $126.9 million with the developer, Wright Runstad & Company.

"This makes good business sense. We will redirect eight current lease payments to this new building, and the consolidation will enable us to cut 38 staff positions, saving another $4 million a year," said Councilmember Ladenburg. "No taxes will be raised to pay for this. We can pay for it with existing resources and the savings gained from consolidating our services, and the savings will grow over time."

The county made adjustments to the project based on feedback from the public, including four community meetings in January and February.

County Executive Pat McCarthy publicly introduced the proposal in 2013 after several years of studying the service delivery in all county facilities -- owned and leased. Under the plan adopted Tuesday, most general government services will be consolidated into one General Services Building in a lease-to-own agreement with a nonprofit corporation. Services will include building permits, business licenses, Health Department records, and property tax payments, among others.

The Executive thanked the County Council majority for analyzing the cost difference between the status quo and the savings over the next 30 years.

"Taxpayers expect us to utilize public resources efficiently and effectively. This plan will save money while improving the delivery of services to the 820,000 residents we serve," she said. "My administration will now complete the planning for the staff changes and program improvements made possible by consolidating 19 departments and divisions into one location."

Chair Roach, in explaining his position, said the reliance on staff savings was too risky.

"In order to make the mortgage payments, 38.1 jobs would have to stay eliminated for the duration of the mortgage, and we can't promise that future councils and executives would adhere to that," he said. "I sincerely hope I'm proven wrong and everything works out for the best, but I couldn't in good conscience ask our taxpayers to shoulder that risk. I wouldn't make that commitment with my own money, and I don't think we should make it with their money either."

The building will house approximately 1,300 employees, including about 250 from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, an independent agency that is joining the county as a tenant in the new building. Other tenants will include the four departments in the Pierce County Annex, a 1950s-era building that originally housed a discount department store. The Annex site likely will be sold.

The county's existing downtown campus, anchored by the County-City Building, will continue to house about 1,000 employees from the law and justice sectors in what will be redeveloped with existing resources over time as the Pierce County Justice Center.

Construction of the General Services Building will begin next month, with occupancy expected in fall 2016. Project documents and updates are available at www.piercecountywa.org/gsb.

Dan Roach, Pierce County Council Chair
(253) 798-3635

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: February 12, 2015

Executive McCarthy's statement about Senate transportation package

The following is a statement by Executive Pat McCarthy on the Senate's bipartisan transportation package announced on Feb. 12:

"I congratulate the Washington State Senate's transportation negotiators for reaching a bipartisan agreement on a transportation plan that completes Highway 167 and addresses traffic congestion around JBLM. We will take the time to study the details, of course, but this is a very important and positive step. Our competitors around the world are investing in their infrastructure, and we cannot afford to wait any longer. I am very encouraged by the Senate's progress."

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: February 12, 2015

Healthier Air: Pierce County reaches milestone

Nonattainment map

Efforts to reduce unhealthy wood smoke pollution in the Tacoma/Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone area reached a milestone today when the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved a 10-year action plan and announced the area will be redesignated as i...Read on...

Posted on: February 2, 2015

Executive presents business plan for proposed general services building

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has negotiated a development and lease agreement for a proposed general services building that would dramatically improve customer service while saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

If approved by the Pierce County Council, the $126.9 million project would consolidate 19 departments and divisions currently housed in 14 locations.

The project would be funded with existing resources, including the money currently spent on eight commercial office leases as well as significant staff savings through efficiencies created by the consolidation. It would be built on the county-owned 13-acre site of the former Puget Sound Hospital campus, located just up the hill from downtown Tacoma.

"We started this project with a 'service first' goal - that is, we analyzed how to align our programs and divisions in a way that provides the most efficient customer service in a one-stop shopping experience," Executive McCarthy said. "Thousands of people from across Pierce County who use our services would be able to take care of business in one convenient location instead of driving all over the area."

The Executive’s office presented the proposed development agreement to the Pierce County Council on Monday, Feb. 2. The Council, which has received regular briefings for months, is scheduled to vote Feb. 17 on whether to approve it. (A PowerPoint presentation of the business plan is available here.)

The $126.9 million “guaranteed maximum price” from the developer includes:

  • $103.8 million for total construction, including fixtures and furniture.
  • $17.4 million for parking lots and structures.
  • $3.9 million for building, parking and tenant contingencies.

Under the 63-20 financing model (named after the IRS code), the costs are guaranteed by the developer, Wright Runstad & Co., which would be responsible for any cost overruns. Incentives are built into the agreement to encourage the developer to come in under budget.

The project is also estimated to incur approximately $15.5 million in financing costs, including interest paid on the bonds during construction. It's expected that up to $3 million of that amount will not be needed, but it's required to be available.

All told, the annual lease payment would be approximately $8.6 million a year, depending on which of two financing options is selected.

No tax increases are necessary to cover the cost because the project will, in fact, save taxpayer money. Most of the lease payment would come from two sources:

  • Getting out of eight commercial leases for 150,000 square feet, and spending that $3.2 million on the new building.
  • Eliminating 38 county positions due to the consolidations, which reduces the need for redundant functions. That would save $4 million in 2017, which adds up to well over $120 million in savings over 30 years.

The remaining $1.16 million of the annual lease payment would be covered by the following sources: rent from the Tacoma Pierce County Department of Health, an independent agency that decided last summer to join the building as a tenant; savings from reducing the county fleet at least 10 percent thanks to the consolidations; and rent from retail space currently intended for a coffee shop and deli. Additional savings to be determined would come from lower utility bills and the eventual sale of the Pierce County Annex.

"There's no question this consolidation makes good business sense," Executive McCarthy said. "Without the new building, we will spend well over $300 million on leases, salaries for redundant positions, and maintenance and upgrades in outdated buildings over the same period of time. Consolidation in a lease-to-own scenario is the prudent choice."

If approved, the project would align county services into two main campuses. General government services would be located on the new campus, and about 1,000 employees in the law and justice sectors would remain at the downtown campus just two miles away.

The project began in summer 2012 as county officials analyzed whether to continue to invest in the Pierce County Annex, a former discount department store that was built in the late 1950s and houses four departments. In summer 2013, the County Executive announced her proposal to realize economies of scale by consolidating services on the former hospital site. That fall, the County Council voted to spend $1 million to select a development team and design enough of the project to determine the amount of the fixed lease, which then must be approved by the Council before the project can continue.

If approved, construction would begin in March, with the building fully occupied by November 2016.

More information is available at www.piercecountywa.org/gsb.

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.usRead on...

Posted on: January 9, 2015

Public invited to learn more about proposed new county building

Three members of the Pierce County Council are hosting a public forum to provide local residents with another opportunity to learn about the proposed general services building currently under consideration. The meeting – arranged by Councilmembers Connie ...Read on...

Posted on: January 9, 2015

Volunteer for Civil Service Commission

Pierce County is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the Civil Service Commission for Sheriff's Department employees. Commissioners are appointed by the County Executive and serve a six-year term. The commission is a quasi-judicial body responsible for rules and regulations governing examinations, appointments, appeals and other general personnel issues.

Commissioners are required to attend one monthly meeting, or special meetings as required, and serve on a voluntary basis. Commission members must be a resident of Pierce County for a minimum of two years prior to appointment, registered to vote in Pierce County and a United States citizen. No more than two Commissioners may be from the same political party and no member after appointment may hold any salaried public office or engage in County employment other than his/her Commission duties.

For more information or application materials click here or contact Sherry Hieb, Pierce County Civil Service Commission chief examiner, at 253-798-6250 or pccivilservice@co.pierce.wa.us.

Sherry Hieb, Pierce County Civil Service Commission chief examiner
pccivilservice@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: September 23, 2014

Executive McCarthy's 2015 budget proposal invests in job growth and mental health services

Executive Pat McCarthy has proposed adding four positions to assist people with mental illness and chemical dependency problems in her 2015 Pierce County budget proposal.

Her budget, submitted this week to the County Council, also curbs overtime in the Pierce County Jail by adding new corrections deputy positions, and it makes investments in key business sectors to support job growth.

"Our local economy is growing, and the county government's overall fiscal condition is sound, balanced and sustainable," Executive McCarthy told the County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 23 in her annual budget address. "Pierce County is in great shape thanks to the hard work by our employees to keep finding new ways to improve our efficiency and effectiveness."

Highlights from her budget proposal include:

  • Four new positions - spread among District Court, Juvenile Court and the Department of Community Connections - to assist people with mental illness and chemical dependency issues who struggle in court systems that are overburdened and ill-equipped to help them.
  • Additional funding for the Pierce County Veterans Bureau to provide vouchers to indigent veterans in need of basic services, such as housing and food.
  • No growth in the number of county staff positions, and no general tax increases.
  • Additional support for her initiatives to support job growth in the aerospace and agriculture sectors, which are poised for growth.

The Pierce County Jail's fiscal health remains the county's biggest challenge. The Executive proposes to follow the recommendations from a recent independent performance audit by adding eight corrections deputy positions to help the Sheriff reduce his Corrections Bureau's reliance on overtime. However, she cautioned that adding positions is only a small part of the recommended solution.

"The performance audit shows that hiring more corrections deputies is not enough," Executive McCarthy said. "The audit recommends that the Sheriff pursue specific management and policy changes. These are not easy changes. But we will resolve these issues by working together to cut costs and restore the Pierce County Jail's status as a regional facility serving the whole community."

Under the Executive's proposal, general fund spending would increase by 2.9 percent, to $281.4 million, thanks to increases in sales tax revenues and higher property values. The General Fund covers most general government services and has the most discretion in its usage.

Total county spending - including specific funds for roads, the airport and ferry system, stormwater and sewer systems, and more - drops by 5.8 percent, to $928 million, mostly due to lower spending on the multi-year expansion of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Executive's budget proposal is available online here.

The County Council will schedule public hearings this fall to review spending by department and consider any changes to the Executive's proposal. The Council's current schedule assumes a final vote on the 2015 budget Nov. 17.

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: September 23, 2014

Friday and weekend 2015 U.S. Open tickets sold out; limited tickets still available other days

U.S. Open logo

FAR HILLS, N.J. – All tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the 2015 U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., have sold out, according to the United States Golf Association (USGA). Tickets are available for Thursday’s openin...Read on...

Posted on: September 15, 2014

State to remove derelict docks and pilings at Sunnyside, Chambers Creek Regional parks

Aerial view of the North Dock

Work is scheduled to begin Sept. 18 on a project to remove derelict pilings and two dilapidated docks located along the shoreline in Pierce County in an effort to restore intertidal and near-shore habitats and improve overall water quality.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will remove approximately 32 derelict creosote-treated pilings located in the tidelands at Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom, as well as two dilapidated docks along the Chambers Creek Regional Park’s shoreline in University Place.

Creosote is a heavy, oily liquid made from coal tar or wood tar and used as a wood preservative. Creosote-treated materials leach chemicals into beach and marine sediments, creating toxic conditions for organisms living in and using these areas.

“The shallows along these beaches offer significant forage fish spawning habitat,” said Kristin Swenddal, DNR Aquatic Resources Division Manager. “Creosote has been found to negatively affect the survival rate of herring eggs, so we and our partners are working to remove as much creosote from Puget Sound ecosystems as possible. In addition, the old docks at this site are crumbling and pose a public safety risk.”

The work at Sunnyside Beach Park will begin Sept. 18, and is expected to be complete by the end of September. The beach will remain open during the project, although beach access will be restricted in the immediate area surrounding the work.

After the Sunnyside Beach Park work is complete, DNR will remove two creosote-treated docks, including pilings and associated concrete structures from the north and south dock areas located along the Chambers Creek Regional Park’s 2.5 mile-long beach. The two docks have 12,150-square-feet of decaying decking and close to 800 creosote and concrete pilings. Beach access will be restricted in the immediate area surrounding the work.

“We are excited to have these areas safe for the public and aquatic life,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Thanks to the hard work by Pierce County's legislative delegation in Olympia, the state set aside funding to nurture and protect our amazing shoreline.”

The south dock will be removed once the purple martin nesting season is over, which is typically in September. If purple martins are still present when the Steilacoom portion of the project is complete, the contractor will begin demolition of overwater structures at the north dock. On Oct. 1, the contractor will move to the south dock then up the shoreline to the north dock to complete the removal process there. The work is expected to be finished by Jan. 1, 2015. This timeline minimizes the impact on existing marine and avian habitats. The docks and pilings are located primarily on state-owned aquatic lands.

The two docks and associated pilings have degraded to the point that they have become a significant hazard to the environment as well as recreational and marine traffic around South Puget Sound. The unused structures block the natural movement of sediment and provide unwanted shading along the critical nearshore habitat. Removal of creosote helps restore intertidal and near shore habitats and improves overall water quality.

The estimated cost of Pierce County’s portion of the project is $2.5 million, which is funded by an appropriation in the Washington Legislature’s 2013-15 capital budget, to be administered through the Washington State Department of Ecology. DNR will use $1,711,200 for the removal of in-water pilings and docks. Pierce County will provide the remaining $788,800 for onshore cleanup work. The contractor for the project is Orion Marine Contractors, Inc.

DNR is leading efforts throughout Puget Sound to remove creosote-treated structures, pilings, and debris from Washington’s marine and estuarine waters. More information on this program is available here on the DNR website. Pierce County has posted project information at www.co.pierce.wa.us/sewerprojects.

In 2013, Pierce County removed approximately 200 derelict creosote pilings from Chambers Creek Regional Park after receiving $160,000 in grant funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program and administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Water Quality Program.

Wynnae Wright, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, natural resource specialist
(206) 909-1304

Callene Abernathy, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities public information specialist
(253) 798-4661
caberna@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: July 9, 2014

U.S. Open update highlights County Council meeting in UP

2015 U.S. Open logo

More than 200 people attended the July 8, 2014 meeting of the Pierce County Council to hear an update on preparations for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

The meeting, held at the county's Environmental Services Building in University Place, featured presentations by USGA Championship Director Danny Sink, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Jaime Vogt of the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. Councilmember Connie Ladenburg (District 4) served as chair of the meeting, as is the Council's custom for "in-district" meetings.

The Pierce County TV video of the meeting is available here. The update starts about 5 minutes in with a welcome by University Place Mayor Denise McCluskey.

In addition, the United States Golf Association has posted a detailed FAQ on the Chambers Bay websiteRead on...

Posted on: June 13, 2014

Executive McCarthy statement on the passing of Mike Murphy

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy on the passing of Mike Murphy, an 18-year public servant with the state auditor’s office, past president of the Washington Association of Counties and former Grays Harbor county commissi...Read on...

Posted on: May 30, 2014

Ag Program wins VISION 2040 Award

Pierce County’s Agriculture Program is among six projects and programs around the region receiving prestigious VISION 2040 Awards from the Puget Sound Regional Council.

The awards, presented on May 29, showcase work being done to implement VISION 2040, the region's long-range growth, economic development and transportation strategy.

Over the past year, Pierce County’s Agriculture Program has organized a Farm Forum, created a resources website for farmers, implemented regulatory and permitting reform and assisted with marketing by creating a series of videos introducing farmers to the community.

A signature accomplishment was establishing a partnership with the Cascade Harvest Coalition to develop an app for the Puget Sound Fresh program, which provides easy access to hundreds of farms, farmers markets and other information supporting the local food supply throughout Western Washington. The app is available at www.pugetsoundfresh.org.

“County staff in at least six departments are collaborating on our Agriculture Program to support local farmers,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “The agriculture industry is a vital part of our community and contributes to our quality of life. We are making sure that farming remains a healthy component of life in Pierce County.”

Other VISION 2040 Award winners are:

12th Avenue Arts, sponsored by Capitol Hill Housing.

  • A vibrant new multi-purpose building in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, which transforms a 29,000 square foot surface parking lot into a cultural center that meets arts, housing and public safety needs.

Fourth Street Improvements, sponsored by City of Bremerton and LMN Architects with partnering agencies Lorax Partners and Exeltech Consulting.

  • A streetscape design that created a lively theatrical ambiance to generate new investment in downtown Bremerton.

Arbor Village, sponsored by Mountlake Terrace.

  • The first, large scale mixed-use project to be developed in Mountlake Terrace's new Town Center.

Redmond's Central Connector, sponsored by the City of Redmond in partnership with King County, Sound Transit, and The Berger Partnership.

  • The connector locates several instrumental public infrastructure projects on ten acres of prime real estate in the regional growth center and opens a network of active transportation opportunities using the eastside rail corridor.

Residential Infill Measures Report, sponsored by City of Everett, with partnership from Washington State Department of Commerce, Inova, Property Counselors, and Fehr and Peers.

  • A reference manual of innovative infill practices and an exploration of potential housing types, infill locations, and land use code changes that will increase residential development capacity in Everett.

VISION 2040 is the region's growth management, economic, and transportation strategy, designed to meet the needs of the 5 million people expected to be living in the region in 2040. It is an integrated, long-range vision for the future that lays out a strategy for maintaining a healthy region-promoting the well-being of people and communities, economic vitality, and a healthy environment.

PSRC develops policies and coordinates decisions about regional growth, economic development and transportation planning in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. The Council is composed of over 80 county, city, port, transit, tribal, and state agencies serving the region. It coordinates the distribution of at least $180 million in Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration funds each year. PSRC sets priorities and evaluates the most efficient ways to target those funds to support state and local transportation and growth management plans.

Title VI Notice: PSRC fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Title VI Complaint Form, see www.psrc.org/about/public/titlevi or call 206-587-4819.

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications
(253) 798-6606

Michele Leslie, PSRC
(206) 587-4819
mleslie@psrcRead on...

Posted on: May 30, 2014

Executive McCarthy statement on the passing of Herman Dillon Sr.

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy on the May 23 passing of Herman Dillon Sr., chairman of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ tribal council:

"Herman Dillon Sr. led with kindness, humor, strength of character and a balance...Read on...

Posted on: May 30, 2014

Pat McCarthy and John Marchione elected to lead Puget Sound Regional Council

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has been reelected President of the Puget Sound Regional Council, which coordinates growth, economic development and transportation planning for the region.

McCarthy, serving her second term as County Executive, was elected on Thursday, May 29, during the PSRC's annual General Assembly. Redmond Mayor John Marchione was reelected Vice President.

"As President of the Puget Sound Regional Council over the past year, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with dedicated elected officials, community members, and many other civic minded people on improving transportation, growing jobs, and enhancing the region's communities," McCarthy said.

"Through the PSRC, the region works together to lay the foundation so everyone living here, now and in the future, will enjoy the quality of life that has historically drawn people here and convinced them to stay. I look forward to continuing this important work."

The region's General Assembly includes elected representation from all the members of the PSRC, including King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, as well as more than 80 cities, towns, state agencies, transit agencies, ports, and tribal governments.

At the meeting, the General Assembly also adopted the agency's budget and work program and approved an update to the region's Transportation 2040 plan.

Title VI Notice: PSRC fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Title VI Complaint Form, see www.psrc.org/about/public/titlevi/ or call 206-587-4819.

Rick Olson, Puget Sound Regional Council
rolson@psrcRead on...

Posted on: May 29, 2014

Region wins manufacturing communities designation for aerospace

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced today that the central Puget Sound region was one of 12 communities nationwide winning a Manufacturing Communities designation as part of a federal initiative.

PSRC developed the proposal to designate...Read on...

Posted on: May 5, 2014

Executive McCarthy statement on the passing of Billy Frank Jr.

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy on today's passing of Billy Frank Jr.:

“We have lost a national treasure in Billy Frank Jr. His advocacy regarding fishing and natural resources was second to none. His legacy includes influencing public policy to protect our precious natural resources that make this such an amazing place to live. John and I send our thoughts and prayers to Billy’s familyRead on...

Posted on: April 29, 2014

New Puget Sound Fresh app puts local farms and farmers markets info in your pocket

Screen grab of mobile app home page

Consumers can find hundreds of local farms, markets, products, recipes and more using a new mobile app built by Pierce County and Cascade Harvest Coalition.

The Puget Sound Fresh app provides quick access to a growing network of farms and farmers markets who are members of the Coalition, a Seattle-based nonprofit that has been providing programs and resources to help build a sustainable food system in Washington State since 1999.

“The 2014 print edition of our annual Farm Guide is being distributed now, and thanks to this innovative partnership with Pierce County we have made information about what's fresh, local and in season easily accessible on your smartphone," said Mary Embleton, Cascade Harvest Coalition’s Executive Director. "Now it's easier than ever to support local farms and have access to local food.”

The Puget Sound Fresh app is available in the Google Play (Android) and Apple App stores (Windows Phone is not yet supported). The app features:

  • Access to more than 200 farms, starting with the nearest farms using the device’s GPS.
  • Information about more than 100 farmers markets.
  • Where to find more than 240 farm products, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, herbs, meat, nursery stock, specialty forest products, and more.
  • A harvest schedule so you always know what’s in season.
  • 200 recipes provided by local farms and chefs.
  • A calendar of local food- and farm-related events, including harvest festivals, cooking classes, workshops, farm tours and dinners.
  • The ability to save your favorite farms, markets and recipes.
“Farmers tell me they need more connections to local consumers,” Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said. “Our county IT Department has a unique program for building mobile apps, and Cascade Harvest Coalition has extraordinary resources in its Puget Sound Fresh program and the Farm Guide. So it makes perfect sense to work together and build a tool that encourages people to ‘buy local’ wherever they live.”

The Puget Sound Fresh program, which includes the 56-page Farm Guide and companion website, is expanding beyond its original 12-county coverage area. The mobile app will be updated with new entries as more farms enroll. More information about the program is available at www.pugetsoundfresh.org.

"We are thrilled to be included in the new Puget Sound Fresh mobile app. It’s a wonderful addition to the web and print directory,” said Brenda Vanderloop of 21 Acres, a Sammamish Valley farm near Woodinville. “We're spreading the word to our farm partners, market shoppers, students and visitors to take advantage of this great resource."

Snohomish County farmer Darren Carleton said the app addresses the mobile needs of farmers and consumers.

“About half of our customers access our website via a phone or tablet,” said Darren Carleton of Carleton Farms. “This will give customers that ‘anytime’ ability to search for local food sources, and it provides farmers like us with another marketing outlet. This is a great tool!”

The Puget Sound Fresh app was developed as a component of the Pierce County Agriculture Program, which is assisting the industry in a variety of ways, including marketing. Pierce County builds and maintains a suite of mobile apps through an internship program with the University of Washington Tacoma's Institute of Technology and other colleges.

Note: A media kit with screenshots, a Facebook banner and other graphics is available here.

Sheryl Wiser, Cascade Harvest Coalition
Puget Sound Fresh Manager
(206) 632-0606

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: April 24, 2014

County proclaims April 26 as Domestic Violence Awareness Day

Calling it a crime with consequences that devastate communities, members of the Pierce County Council adopted a joint resolution designating April 26, 2014, as Domestic Violence Awareness Day.

Joint Council-Executive Resolution R2014-49, approved durin...

Read on...

Posted on: March 20, 2014

Chambers Bay posts record revenues as U.S. Open excitement builds

Chambers Bay Golf Course broke records in several financial categories in 2013 as excitement increased in advance of next year’s U.S. Open.

The 4th quarter financial report, released this week by County Executive Pat McCarthy, showed operating revenues...Read on...

Posted on: March 30, 2014

Executive McCarthy directs staff to further analyze landslide risks

The following is a statement by County Executive Pat McCarthy regarding landslide risks in Pierce County:

In the wake of the Oso slide, I convened a meeting of county experts in such areas as land-use planning, emergency management, roads, rivers and information technology to discuss Pierce County's level of risk for a catastrophic landslide.

Existing records in Pierce County don’t reveal landslides that come anywhere close to the magnitude of the Oso slide, which comprised an estimated 6 to 7 million cubic yards of earth. We regularly handle small slides - 10 to 100 cubic yards - that involve material slipping off of wet slopes, but not wholesale collapses of hillsides, especially in populated areas. This year alone, our public works crews have responded to 42 small slides that affected county roadways. The largest slide in our road division's records was a 1998 event in which 10,000 cubic yards of earth wiped out a portion of Cromwell Drive near Gig Harbor.

The county has gone above and beyond what some of our peers do with LIDAR technology. We have been working for months on an updated landslide risk map based on slopes, and that new data will be added to our permitting system in the next week. Property owners in unincorporated Pierce County can look up their parcels in the “About My Property” section of our website and see any known hazards, such as landslides, flooding and erosion. Our system flags such properties when building permit applications are filed, and the property owners are required to submit geotechnical analyses in many cases.

We have been focused in recent years on mitigating and planning for catastrophic events involving flooding and volcanic lahars. There's plenty of geological evidence to show those are the biggest risks, and our practice shows that if we know about it, we’ll do something about it. The scope of the Oso slide has certainly been eye-opening, and we will be consulting with the USGS and other partners, as well as further analyzing our own data to see if this should be added to our ongoing risk analysis and mitigation.

Our role as a local government is to balance the need to protect the public from harm and to protect private property rights. We have done a lot of work regarding lahars and floods. Right now, we don’t have any data that says catastrophic landslides are a bigger risk than is currently knownRead on...

Posted on: February 18, 2014

Executive McCarthy: Frederickson plant remains important part of Boeing’s future

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy regarding Boeing’s decision to build the 777X wing plant in Everett:

"During this process, I met with senior Boeing leadership and received personal assurances that Frederickson will be a big part of the company's future plans. The company has 1,800 employees in Frederickson, and the local network of suppliers and aerospace training programs ensures our important place in the global supply chain. I assured Boeing that Pierce County is ready to assist when the company is ready to utilize the undeveloped land it owns here.

“I am very happy for my peers in Everett and Snohomish County. Our top goal all along was to keep Washington at the epicenter of the aerospace industry, and we have succeeded.”

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606
hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: February 12, 2014

Medical Examiner partners with SightLife to increase organ and tissue donations

As many as 300 people will receive sight-restoring transplants each year thanks to an innovative partnership between the Pierce County Medical Examiner and SightLife, a global nonprofit focused on eliminating corneal blindness.

Under the partnership, ...Read on...

Posted on: February 10, 2014

Volunteer applications now available for 2015 U.S. Open Championship

2015 U.S. Open logo

The United States Golf Association (USGA) and Chambers Bay announced on Feb. 10 that volunteer applications for the 115th U.S. Open Championship are now available. The 2015 U.S. Open, the first to be played in the Pacific Northwest, is scheduled for June ...Read on...

Posted on: December 9, 2013

Civil Service Commission seeks applicants

Pierce County is seeking applicants to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Civil Service Commission for Sheriff's Department employees. Commissioners are appointed by the County Executive and serve a six-year term. The commission is a quasi-judicial body responsible for rules and regulations governing examinations, appointments, appeals and other general personnel issues.

Commissioners are required to attend one monthly meeting, or special meetings as required, and serve on a voluntary basis. Commission members must be a resident of Pierce County for a minimum of two years prior to appointment, registered to vote in Pierce County and a United States citizen.

For more information or application materials, please contact Sherry Hieb, Pierce County Civil Service Commission chief examiner, at 253-798-6250 or pccivilservice@co.pierce.wa.us.

MEDIA CONTACTS:Sherry Hieb, Pierce County Civil Service Commission
shieb@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: November 22, 2013

Pierce County buys land for Foothills Trail expansion

Pierce County took another step toward completing the popular Foothills Trail with the purchase this week of commercial land near South Prairie.

The county bought approximately 59,000 square feet of the South Prairie RV Park from Dwight Partin for $1,0...Read on...

Posted on: July 15, 2013

Pierce County to host 2nd Aerospace Summit in July

Pierce County’s second Aerospace Summit will offer valuable updates from experts in manufacturing technology and workforce training as the region continues its push for a larger stake in the global market.

The summit, which features a presentation by ...Read on...

Posted on: July 11, 2013

Pierce County wins national awards for voter project and emergency mobile app

mobile  app

Last year, Pierce County completed a redistricting project affecting nearly every local voter in just five weeks. The county also started using the latest mobile technology to track damage to roads, bridges, and buildings during floods, fires and other di...Read on...

Posted on: July 10, 2013

Projects underway to reduce flood risk along the Puyallup River

South Fork image

Pierce County expects to reduce flood risk along two sections of the Puyallup River with projects set for this summer.

Construction has begun on a 2,000-foot-long side channel near Orting, and work on another project that will use engineered log jams t...Read on...

Posted on: July 8, 2013

Hospitality sales begin for 2015 U.S. Open for Chambers Bay

2015 U.S. Open logo

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has opened corporate hospitality sales for the 2015 U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.

The U.S. Open will be conducted June 15-21, 2015, which includes three practice-round days a...Read on...

Posted on: July 2, 2013

Parts of Chambers Creek beach to close during removal of pilings

Derelict Pile

Portions of a public beach will close for about three weeks in July while Pierce County removes approximately 200 derelict creosote pilings from the shoreline along Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place.

Work will begin July 8 at the south p...Read on...

Posted on: June 26, 2013

Niagara Bottling, LLC to create jobs with new plant in Frederickson

Niagara Bottling, LLC, the largest family-owned bottled water manufacturer in the United States, has announced plans to open a state-of-the-art bottling facility in Pierce County, Washington. This will be Niagara’s first site in the Pacific Northwest, joining 13 others around the country.

The new 311,000-square-foot facility in Randles Business Park in the Frederickson Industrial Area will initially create 36 jobs and make a capital investment of approximately $50 million. The facility will serve the company's customers throughout the region.

Groundbreaking is expected this fall and the company is scheduled to be fully operational in early 2014.
"We are very excited about our expansion in Washington State," said Brian Hess, Niagara’s Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs. "We're looking forward to servicing the needs of our customers in the region, and to being a good corporate neighbor. We can't wait to get started."

Niagara attributes its decision to locate in Pierce County not only to an operational and cost analysis that makes sense for the company, but also to a great "community fit." Hess shared that each of the entities involved came to the table in a true partnership effort.

"We had several organizations working together for our project. The Washington State Department of Commerce, Pierce County, and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and other local partners came together with one voice to communicate that our project was welcomed and that this community was the right place for our business,” Hess said.

“Other Northwest states were in the running for this innovative operation and these good jobs,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “Our Commerce Department worked in close partnership with Pierce County, the EDB for Tacoma-Pierce County and our business community over seven months to demonstrate the reasons why this community is a perfect fit with Niagara, a dynamic, environmentally-conscious, advanced manufacturing company. We’re delighted to welcome them to Washington State!”

“Niagara Bottling is a great addition to the local business community,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, who visited the company’s California headquarters to discuss the merits of locating in Frederickson. “Niagara is a national leader in the industry, and building a plant in Pierce County provides great access to the Northwest market. Niagara joins companies like Amazon, State Farm and others who have recently announced decisions to expand in Pierce County because it’s a great place to work, live and play.”

“The team that came together to make this deal happen was top notch,” said Susan Suess, Senior Vice President at the EDB. “The State, Pierce County, and EDB were laser focused on ensuring that the client’s needs were met throughout the recruitment process.”

Recognized as an industry leader in both innovation and design, Niagara is known for having the lightest weight one-half-liter bottle on the market. The company's Eco-Air Bottle® recently received a Drinktec Beverage Innovation Award for the Best PET Design. Niagara has also been recognized for its sustainability efforts to reduce its carbon footprint through both consumption reduction in materials and the implementation of various energy efficiency methods.

Niagara BottlingAndrew Peykoff, Sr. founded Niagara Bottling Company in 1963 by traveling door-to-door selling glass bottled purified drinking water. Since then Niagara's primary business has been in private-label bottled water sold in grocery stores and big-box retailers. Headquartered in Ontario, California, Andy Peykoff II is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. He continues to implement the ideals and commitment to the environment put in place by his father. Contact: Pamela Anderson Cridlebaugh, 909-758-5812.

Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County (EDB)The EDB provides confidential direct assistance to primary businesses considering the area as a potential site for location or expansion. Information is provided on demographics, workforce training and hiring, financing, site selection, permitting, incentives and connecting with local authorities. Contact Susan Suess, 253-383-4726.

Pierce CountyUnder the leadership of Executive Pat McCarthy and through its Economic Development Department, Pierce County is focused on predictable and timely permitting, business retention and attraction, and business climate improvement. Contact Hunter George, 253-961-8422.

About CommerceCommerce is the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. For more information, visit www.commerce.wa.gov. For information on locating or expanding a business in Washington, visit www.choosewashington.comRead on...

Posted on: May 29, 2013

Executive McCarthy’s statement about the passing of Sen. Carrell

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy about the passing of state Sen. Mike Carrell:

“Mike was passionate about public service. He worked hard to hold state government accountable for its spending and decisions, and he wa...Read on...

Posted on: May 17, 2013

Celebrate completion of 112th Street East projects on May 29

Pierce County residents are invited to celebrate the completion of a series of projects along the 112th Street East corridor from 18th Avenue East to 86th Avenue East with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the...Read on...

Posted on: May 17, 2013

County Executive pleased as Sen. Conway's mental competency bill signed into law

Jails in Pierce County face a backlog of inmates waiting for mental competency evaluations, creating additional pressure on already thin resources and in some cases threatening public safety. A bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee is designed to cut into that ...Read on...

Posted on: May 15, 2013

Seattle tunnel project creates jobs in Pierce County

When the 1.8-mile SR 99 tunnel opens to traffic in 2015, it will rely on the strength of 1,450 precast concrete rings fabricated with pinpoint precision at a newly expanded plant in Pierce County.

Dozens of community and business leaders gathered May 1...Read on...

Posted on: May 10, 2013

Control tower at Tacoma Narrows Airport to remain open until Sept. 30

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced May 10 the contract control towers at Tacoma Narrows Airport and 148 other airports will remain open until Sept. 30, the end of the federal government's fiscal year 2013.

The towers had been slated to close June 15 as the Federal Aviation Administration implements budget cuts under the congressional directive known as sequestration.

“This is great news for the customers of our popular airport,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “We continue to work with the FAA, our congressional delegation and potential partners to keep the tower operating. The DOT’s decision gives us more time to explore options.”

Pierce County has not received information regarding the status of the towers beyond Sept. 30.

The following statement was issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation:

"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that DOT has determined that the recently enacted Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 will allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the 149 low activity contract towers originally slated for closure in June open for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. The FAA will also put $10 million towards reducing cuts and delays in core NextGen programs and will allocate approximately $11 million to partially restore the support of infrastructure in the national airspace system."

Deb Wallace, Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator(360) 909-8198deb.wallace@co.pierce.wa.us

Warren Hendrickson, Public Works and Utilities aviation and ferry planer(253) 798-2428warren.hendrickson@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: May 10, 2013

Executive seeks applicants for Ethics Commission vacancy

The Pierce County Executive’s Office is accepting applications to fill an expired Ethics Commission position. The citizen commission is responsible for promoting and upholding ethical conduct in Pierce County government.

Applications must be registered...Read on...

Posted on: April 25, 2013

Executive McCarthy elected president of Puget Sound Regional Council

SEATTLE - Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has been elected President of the Puget Sound Regional Council, which coordinates growth planning in a thriving four-county region.

McCarthy, serving her second term as County Executive, was elected on Thursday, April 25, during the PSRC’s annual General Assembly. Redmond Mayor John Marchione was elected Vice President.

“The PSRC plays a vital role in knitting all of the communities of central Puget Sound together and planning for our future,” McCarthy said. “Over the next year we’ll be focused on improvements to our transportation system, boosting job growth, and ensuring the region continues to grow in ways that reflect our shared Northwest values.”

As President, McCarthy chairs the PSRC’s Executive Board and serves as the leader in guiding the PSRC’s budget and work program. The agency is preparing to update the region’s long range transportation plan, produce new data to monitor the region’s performance toward the goals in the VISION 2040 growth strategy, and select projects for federal transportation funding. PSRC’s Executive Board also will select a new Executive Director because of the retirement of Bob Drewel, who has led the agency for nine years.

McCarthy succeeds Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown as President of the PSRC.

The region’s General Assembly includes elected representation from all the members of the PSRC, including King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, as well as more than 80 cities, towns, state agencies, transit agencies, ports, and Tribal Governments. The Assembly meets at least annually to adopt the agency’s budget and elect leadership. Typically, the President of the PSRC serves for two years.

Title VI Notice: PSRC fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Title VI Complaint Form, see www.psrc.org/about/public/titlevi/ or call (206) 587-4819.Read on...

Posted on: April 19, 2013

Executive McCarthy hails State Farm decision as latest sign of region’s economic vitality

The following is a statement by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy regarding State Farm’s announcement on April 19:

“Pierce County welcomes State Farm’s decision to open an Initial Loss Reporting center in downtown Tacoma. This follows Amazon’s recen...Read on...

Posted on: April 17, 2013

Puyallup River Clean-Up seeks volunteers on April 20

Pierce County residents can go green as they tackle their spring cleaning to-do list.

“Indoors and outdoors, sometimes the products and methods we use to clean and spruce up our homes can be harmful to our family and the environment,” said Pierce Coun...Read on...

Posted on: April 9, 2013

After remodel, Sprinker center cuts energy use in half

Sprinker ice rink

Sprinker Recreation Center, which serves thousands of visitors every year, has won Pierce County’s “Biggest Energy Loser” award for 2012 by cutting its energy use in half.

The 35-year-old ice rink was remodeled in 2011. The remodel consisted of upgradi...Read on...

Posted on: April 9, 2013

Forum provides opportunity for caregivers to brainstorm

People who care for an individual with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are faced with heavy responsibilities unlike other caregivers. Sometimes the work can become overwhelming, especially when new and difficult behaviors and patterns come to the surface. ...Read on...

Posted on: April 15, 2013

Executive McCarthy selects Lowell Porter to lead Emergency Management

Lowell Porter

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy announced Monday, April 15, she has selected Lowell Porter to lead the Department of Emergency Management, saying his 30-plus years of experience in public safety will help ensure the region remains prepared for anything.

Porter spent 25 years with the Washington State Patrol, rising from trooper cadet all the way to chief. He also has held leadership roles with state and national organizations dedicated to traffic safety and improving radio communications.

"Lowell Porter has dedicated his career to improving public safety," Executive McCarthy said. "He has an outstanding record of executive leadership, strategic planning and building partnerships. He is a great choice to lead our Emergency Management staff, who work hard to make sure we are prepared for the worst."

Porter succeeds Steve Bailey, who retired in December after a successful career in fire fighting and emergency management.

Porter started as a cadet with the Washington State Patrol in 1980, and finished his career in uniform as chief of the state's largest public safety agency in 2005. He served as the governor's appointed director of the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission from 2005 to 2012. He has spent the past 13 months as coordinator of the National Law Enforcement Liaison Program, which supports innovative traffic safety initiatives around the country.

“I look forward to joining an emergency management team with an excellent reputation as a leader in this important field of public safety, and one that has prepared Pierce County well to respond to emergencies and disasters” said Porter.

Porter earned a Bachelor's degree in business administration from City University and a Master of Arts in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. He also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Porter lives in Gig Harbor with his wife Julie and enjoys spending time with his family and grandchildren, most of whom live in Pierce County.

He starts May 13. His appointment is subject to confirmation by the County Council.

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director(253) 798-6606hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: April 5, 2013

FAA delays closure of contract control tower at Tacoma Narrows Airport until June 15

The Federal Aviation Administration announced April 5 it will delay the closure of the contract control tower at the Tacoma Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor until June 15.

The tower is one of 149 contract control towers slated to close this spring as the FAA implements $637 million in budget cuts under sequestration. All 149 towers, which are located around the country, will remain open until June 15.

“We appreciate the closure delay, as it will allow Pierce County to ensure our pilot community is informed about the closure and prepared for the transition,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “We will also explore options to operate the tower as a Non-Federal Control Tower on a part-time basis, such as on busy summer weekends. We plan to look into sponsorship opportunities that would allow us to create a public-private partnership to cover the costs.”

The FAA had planned to start a four-week phased closure of the towers on April 7. The Tacoma Narrows Airport tower was scheduled to close at 8 p.m. on April 7.

Tacoma Narrows Airport will remain open after the FAA contract tower closes. Instead of having tower controllers directing air traffic, pilots would use well-defined procedures applicable at all airports without an operating control tower. These standard procedures are already in use between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. at the Tacoma Narrows Airport, and 24 hours a day at Pierce County Airport-Thun Field, which is also operated by Pierce County and has never had a control tower.

Deb Wallace, Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator(360) 909-8198dwalla1@co.pierce.wa.us

Anne Radford, Public Works and Utilities public information officer(253) 798-2464aradfor@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: April 4, 2013

Pierce County team receives Open Government Award

A team of Pierce County employees who redesigned part of the county's website to make it much easier for citizens to access public records were honored Wednesday, April 3, by the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

It was the second time in three years that Pierce County has been recognized by the coalition for contributions to open government

WCOG President Toby Nixon presented the organization's Key Award to county communications director Hunter George, the project sponsor, Diane Ladenburg, public records ombudsman, and Al Rose, justice services director. A fourth team member, county webmaster Angela Gow, has since left the county for the private sector.

Nixon presented the awards, given to individuals or organizations that have made a notable contribution to the cause of open government, during County Executive Pat McCarthy's monthly cabinet meeting.

The website's new records page includes a list of records or information and where to find it online. The list also includes frequently requested documents from other local agencies such as the local health department. The page provides a link to instructions and forms for making records request for other records that are not available online.

The county website previously provided a public disclosure link, but it provided only a list of public records officers for each department. The new page offers links either to the records themselves or for the agencies or employees who can provide them.

"The Coalition is constantly on the lookout for best practices by state and local agencies that we can recognize and call attention to," said Nixon. "Once again Pierce County is leading the way, demonstrating how to make more public records easily available online or direct citizens to the source. We hope other agencies will follow their lead!"

The latest Key Award follows one given in 2010 to County Executive McCarthy for a new county policy requiring that all county email be stored in digital format for at least six years.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that defends the public's right to know what state and local governments are doing. It backs legislation promoting government transparency and participates in significant court cases involving open government issues.

For more information, contact Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664 or on the web at www.washingtoncog.org or call (206) 782-0393.

For information about Pierce County's public records site, contact Communications Director Hunter George at (253) 798-6606 or hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.usRead on...

Posted on: March 21, 2013

Pierce County lowers flags in memory of former Governor and Executive Booth Gardner

Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered that flags at all state agency facilities be lowered to half-staff in memory of former Gov. Booth Gardner, who passed away last Friday. State flags will remain at half-staff until close of business on Saturday, March 30 or first thing Monday morning, April 1.

Gardner also served as Pierce County's first Executive and will be remembered fondly here. Executive Pat McCarthy has ordered flags in Pierce County facilities to be lowered as well.

Gov. Inslee and Executive McCarthy encourage other government entities, citizens and businesses to join this recognitionRead on...

Posted on: January 28, 2013

Jobs float in, SR 520 pontoons float out: Tacoma pontoon construction boosts local economy

Six more pontoons are complete for the new State Route 520 floating bridge. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor joined state and local leaders in Tacoma today, as Washington State Department of Transportation crews began float-out of the second cycle of ...Read on...

Posted on: December 20, 2012

McCarthy takes the oath of office for 2nd term


County Executive Pat McCarthy officially took the oath of office on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 for her second term that begins next month.

McCarthy was re-elected in the Nov. 6 General Election. The oath was administered by her husband, Superior Court Jud...Read on...

Posted on: November 20, 2012

Online upgrades make building permits faster and easier

Screen shot of dashboard

Before you apply for a permit to build the ultimate man cave, you can now check online to see how many people are waiting in line at the Pierce County Development Center.

That’s one of several online improvements launched by Planning and Land Services ...Read on...

Posted on: October 18, 2012

Partners preserve 120-acre farm near Orting forever


Pierce County Executive, Pat McCarthy addresses the crowd. 1/3A 120-acre property will forever remain as a farm and habitat thanks to another successful public-private partnership in the Puyallup River Valley.

Pierce County, the PCC Farmland Trust and other farm advocates gathered Thursday, Oct. 18, to celebrate the purchase and preservation of the Reise Farm, located off Highway 162 near Orting. The farm was purchased in late September with a combination of funding from the Pierce County Conservation Futures program and private fundraising by the Trust. The Trust holds the deed and will manage the land.

"Farming is part of our heritage, and it remains an important component of our local economy and community," said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "That's why my 2013 budget proposal includes the hiring of a Farm Specialist in our planning department. With partners like PCC Farmland Trust, there will be many more opportunities to help farmers survive and thrive without feeling the pressure to sell their land for the development value."

The Reise Farm contains approximately 80 tillable acres - about half of which are in production under a lease with a neighboring farmer. The Trust is looking for someone to enter a lease-to-own arrangement for an additional 38 acres of farmland. The remaining 40 acres contain a wooded hillside that serves as a buffer to the South Hill community above, as well as the headwaters of Ball Creek, which flows into the Puyallup River. The Trust plans to restore the creek.

The transaction represents an important "first:" It's the first time Pierce County has obtained development rights that can be transferred and used in Tacoma or other urban areas. The goal of the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program is to exchange farmland preservation for urban density.

"We operate statewide, but the Puyallup Valley holds a special place in our vision for the next few years as we hone in on what we can do to conserve farming," said Rebecca Sadinsky, executive director of PCC Farmland Trust. "Farming can contribute so much to the valley: preserving open space; conserving water; enriching soils; controlling erosion; holding water when the river runs high; producing local food for our tables, stores and our farmers markets; and preserving rural character."

Founded in the early 1900s, the property represents a pioneer farm in the Puyallup Valley. The Reise (pronounced rye cee) family had owned the property since the early 1930s. It currently produces corn, blueberries and pumpkins. The blueberry bushes date to World War II.

The purchase price was $1.4 million. Of that amount, $848,000 came from the Conservation Futures program, which dedicates a small portion of the property tax to the purchase and preservation of land for agriculture, open space and parks. The rest of the funding came from private fundraising by the Trust's supporters.

McCarthy, Sadinsky and other farm advocates noted that the county and the Trust also successfully preserved a 100-acre farm a few miles away in 2010. That property, known as Orting Valley Farms, is currently being farmed by three families.

Rebecca Sadinsky, PCC Farmland Trust executive director(206) 696-2682rebecca.sadinsky@pccfarmlandtrust.org

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director(253) 961-8422hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: September 25, 2012

Executive proposes spending less on general government in 2013

Tuesday Sep 25 2012 3:05 PM

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy proposes spending less on general government services in 2013 than is budgeted for this year.

The Executive's 2013 budget proposal makes strategic cuts in most departments to achieve a $1.6 million reduction in the General Fund, which receives undesignated revenues that finance the majority of traditional services associated with county government.

"We are not relying on grants or bailouts or wishes for better times. This is a stable and sustainable budget," McCarthy said. "It relies on realistic revenue assumptions, builds on our goal of enhancing customer service, and continues investments in key areas that help our economy and communities grow and prosper."

McCarthy outlined themes and highlights during her annual budget address to the County Council at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

Under the Executive's proposal:

• General Fund spending would drop from $275.6 million this year to $274 million in 2013.
• Approximately 79 percent of the General Fund would be dedicated to public safety – the same percentage as this year.• Total spending - this includes construction, utilities, etc. - would increase by nearly $45 million to $884 million. The increase is primarily due to work on the expansion of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is needed to accommodate growth, replace aging infrastructure and protect Puget Sound.
• A total of 49 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions would be cut, including 33 in the General Fund. At least half would come from vacancies through retirements or departures. If these reductions are approved, the County will have cut 514 positions – nearly 15 percent of its workforce – since 2008.

The Executive noted that negotiations continue with all 23 of the county's labor units, so decisions have not been made regarding 2013 salaries and benefits.

McCarthy has spent four years making strategic spending cuts that preserve core services amid less revenue from sales and property taxes. Her administration has focused on resetting processes and using technology to improve the delivery of services. One highlight is the Planning and Land Services Department, which has seen a 10 percent increase in permits issued despite a 25 percent decrease in walk-ins to the Development Center and losing more than half its staff in the past three years.

"I am proud of the efforts by our leaders and staff to find ways to provide services more efficiently," McCarthy said. "We will continue to make the kind of sound financial decisions that recently prompted Standard & Poor's to upgrade the county's bond rating."

Next month, the County Council will hold a series of budget hearings that will be televised on Pierce County TV (channel 22 on Comcast and Click!) as well as streamed live and archived at www.piercecountytv.org. The Council will announce the hearings schedule as soon as dates are confirmed. Final approval of a 2013 budget is expected in November.

MEDIA CONTACT:Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.usRead on...

Posted on: September 24, 2012

Sound Transit Ribbon Cutting invite, Oct. 6

Monday Sep 24 2012 11:48 AM

Sound Transit would like to invite you to a three-station celebration Saturday, Oct. 6 as they launch Sounder train service to Lakewood and South Tacoma! They'll have free train rides and fun activities for the whole family at Lakewood Station, South Tacoma Station and Freighthouse Square at Tacoma Dome Station. Commuter service starts Monday, Oct. 8.

Free parking, live music, refreshments, transit information, and a chance to win an ORCA card pre-loaded with $50 will be at all stations.

Each station will also have special activities only found at that particular stop, so be sure to visit each stop along the way!

Free Sounder rides, Saturday, Oct. 6.

To offer more flexibility for our guests, event buses marked "Special" will also be available to take passengers between stations.

Event times and locationsLakewood Station 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
11424 Pacific Highway S.W., Lakewood

South Tacoma Station 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
5650 S Washington St., Tacoma

Tacoma Dome Station (Freighthouse Square)12 to 3 p.m.
2501 East D St., Tacoma

What's happening at eachRead on...

Posted on: September 13, 2012

Executive to accept national recognition for Foothills Trail

Thursday Sep 13 2012 9:04 AM

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy will officially accept national recognition for the Foothills Trail at the Pierce County Trail Conference on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Randy King, superintendent of Mount Rainier National P...Read on...

Posted on: September 12, 2012

McCarthy announces start of Sounder service to Lakewood and South Tacoma

Wednesday Sep 12 2012 2:15 PM

Sound Transit announced today that Sounder commuter rail service to South Tacoma and Lakewood will begin Monday, Oct. 8.

To celebrate the start of service, Sound Transit will hold a public ribbon-cutting event on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Lakewood, South Tacoma and Tacoma Dome stations. Free rides on the Sounder train will be offered to the public, along with other festivities.

"The start of Sounder service to South Tacoma and Lakewood marks an exciting milestone in the work of Sound Transit to bring commuter rail to more communities in Pierce County," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "In just a few short weeks, more South Sound residents will be able to experience the convenient, first-class service that more than 10,000 Sounder riders from Tacoma to Everett enjoy each weekday."

When service to Lakewood begins, Sound Transit will operate five peak-service trains that will start at the Lakewood Station, stop at South Tacoma, and proceed to the Tacoma Dome station and other stations further north. The first northbound train will leave Lakewood at 4:42 a.m. The first afternoon train to Lakewood will leave King Street Station at 4:20 p.m. Morning and evening trains will leave every 25 minutes.

Departure schedules for other south line Sounder stations remain unchanged.

Service to Lakewood and South Tacoma will also include Sound Transit's popular game day trains, which served more than 132,000 Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders FC fans last year. This fall, Sounder event trains will also serve Husky weekend afternoon games taking place at CenturyLink Field.

"The Sounder extension to Lakewood is a significant achievement that represents years of meticulous planning and hard work," said Sound Transit Boardmember and Lakewood City Councilmember Mary Moss. "The support Sound Transit has received from its federal partners, local jurisdictions, and surrounding communities has made possible the realization of a longstanding vision: to extend commuter rail service further south so more people can enjoy the benefits of riding Sounder."

Until service begins, testing on the 8.5-mile track from Tacoma to Lakewood will continue. Travelers are urged to take extra caution around the tracks and obey all warning signs.

More information on the Sounder extension to Lakewood is available at www.soundtransit.org/soundertolakewoodRead on...

Posted on: August 13, 2012

Wall Street upgrades, affirms Pierce County's strong bond ratings

In moves that reflect confidence in Pierce County's fiscal management, two leading Wall Street ratings agencies gave the county high marks on bonds that will be invested in projects to make the region safer and better prepared to handle population and job growth.

Standard and Poor's (S&P) and Moody's both updated their ratings this month for bonds that will fund equipment for South Sound 911 and the expansion and upgrade of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. S&P upgraded its rating for the 911 bonds and affirmed its very strong rating for the treatment plant and sewer system, while Moody's affirmed its high quality ratings for both.

"Maintaining and improving strong bond ratings is a significant achievement in this difficult economy," County Executive Pat McCarthy said. "These ratings reflect the deep and diverse economic base, good financial management and low debt burden of Pierce County."

S&P upgraded the county's rating from "AA-" to "AA" on Limited Tax General Obligation bonds that will fund $18 million in the first phase of equipment purchases for South Sound 911. The communications agency is providing new radios to law enforcement and fire departments so that first responders can improve communications with each other in a seamless public safety network. Future bond sales will pay for the consolidation of 911 dispatch facilities and other equipment needs. Pierce County voters approved a one-tenth of 1 percent increase in the sales tax to pay the debt service.

S&P also affirmed its "AA" rating on Pierce County's Sewer Revenue Bonds, which will fund $210 million in proceeds, mostly for the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant, which serves a large and growing portion of the county, is approaching its capacity and must be expanded and upgraded to accommodate growth and stronger environmental protection laws. The debt will be repaid by sewer rates.

Meanwhile, Moody's Investor Service affirmed its strong bond ratings and declared that the outlook on each is stable. Those ratings are Aa1 (county's issuer rating), Aa2 (South Sound 911) and Aa3 (sewer).

"These excellent ratings, combined with 40-year lows in interest rates, save public money by providing extremely low long-term financing for these important projects," said County Council Chair Joyce McDonald (District 2). "We will continue to closely monitor the county's performance so we can maintain our strong capacity to meet financial commitments and deliver vital services."

The county expects to sell the sewer bonds on Aug. 21. The South Sound 911 bonds are expected to be sold Aug. 22.

MEDIA CONTACT:Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606hgeorge@co.pierce.waRead on...

Posted on: August 8, 2012

McCarthy announces start of track testing for Sounder extension to Lakewood

Sound Transit announced on Wednesday, Aug. 8, the start of rail and signal testing on more than eight miles of new track for its Sounder commuter rail extension to Lakewood.

Crews began running Sounder test trains up to 40 miles per hour from Freightho...Read on...

Posted on: July 27, 2012

Boeing market outlook highlights first Pierce County Aerospace Summit

Boeing predicts the global market will need 34,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years, and Pierce County aerospace suppliers can help the company compete for that business by finding ways to work faster while providing a safe, efficient and reliable product.

That was a key message from the first Pierce County Aerospace Summit, held Friday, July 27 on the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma.

"It's really important that we increase production rates and deliver these planes at a higher rate and a higher quality," Drew Magill, director of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told suppliers during the summit's keynote address. "We're very confident we can build the most fuel-efficient, most reliable airplanes, and we can be successful in this market for the next 20 years."

Magill said the company is working with suppliers to increase production to address a backlog of 3,900 airplane orders valued at $302 billion. Boeing feels the pressure because it expects to see more competition from manufacturers in China, Brazil, Canada and Japan, in addition to the fierce rivalry with European manufacturer Airbus.

Magill made his presentation to 150 people representing more than 20 aerospace suppliers as well as government agencies, banks, schools and others connected to the industry. The Aerospace Summit was organized by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

"As Boeing showed us today, the supply chain must work together to quickly deliver the planes that are already ordered as well as keep up with increasing global demand," McCarthy said. "Our goal is to help local companies connect with each other and with available resources so they can tap into the growth of this industry. When they grow, our local economy grows."

Bruce Kendall and Chris Green of the Economic Development Board highlighted the work of the Tacoma Pierce Aerospace Partners, a new coalition of about two dozen organizations. The partnership's goals are to retain and grow current companies and attract new business. The partnership is developing an online resource for local suppliers at www.aerospacetacomapierce.com. They plan to upload Magill's market outlook presentation to the site soon.

Aerospace Summit participants also heard panel discussions about workforce training, taxes and financing, organizational development and other resources that are available to the local industry. Panelists represented WorkForce Central, Invista Performance Solutions, Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition, Washington State Department of Commerce, U.S. Bank, Moss Adams and General Plastics.

Pierce County is home to more than 80 companies that work in composites and plastics, tooling, fabrication and machining, software, metals and engineering, as well as the Boeing plant in Frederickson that employs 1,700 people.

"I applaud Pat McCarthy, Bruce Kendall and others in Pierce County for spurring collaboration among industry, government and education," said Bob Drewel, the Puget Sound Regional Council executive director who attended the summit. "We have the talent, resources and ambition to be global industry leaders for years to come, but we must work together to be successful."

Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director(253) 961-8422hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.us

Chris Green, Economic Development Board(253) 284-5889chris@edbtacomapierceRead on...

Posted on: June 8, 2012

McCarthy re-elected vice president of Puget Sound Regional Council

Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown has been re-elected President of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has been re-elected Vice President. The vote took place today at the agency's annual meeting of its General Assembly at the Westin in Seattle.

This evening, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will be honored by PSRC, which will present her with a special VISION 2040 award for her leadership in strengthening the foundations for the region's future in the areas of transportation, higher education, the health of Puget Sound and aerospace. The award ceremony will start shortly after 7 p.m. and will be followed by remarks from the Governor.

"Reflecting on the past year, what stands out are the continued strong partnerships that are helping to grow the economy and improve quality of life in the central Puget Sound region," said Commissioner Brown. "These partnerships are the foundation for our confidence in the future of this place."

In addition to selecting officers, the General Assembly adopted PSRC's supplemental budget for the next fiscal year and approved a major amendment to Transportation 2040, which included new strategies for improving traffic on I-5 in the vicinity of Joint Base Lewis McCord.

The General Assembly of the Puget Sound Regional Council includes elected representation from all the members of the PSRC, including counties, cities, towns, state agencies, transit agencies, ports, and Tribal Governments. The Assembly meets at least annually to vote on key issues regarding the PSRC work program and its leadership.

PSRC develops policies and coordinates decisions about regional growth, transportation and economic development planning within King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. The Council is composed of over 80 county, city, port, transit, tribal and state agencies serving the region. This year PSRC will select projects for the roughly $400 million in federal funds the region can expect to receive over the next few years. PSRC is also the lead regional economic development planning resource and home to the Prosperity Partnership.

Rick Olson, PSRCRead on...

Posted on: May 1, 2012

Findings of JBLM Community Needs Survey released

Tuesday May 01 2012 9:49 AM

The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership (SSMCP) just released findings of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Community Needs Survey. This is the first time the local community and JBLM officials have collaborated to research the demographics, needs and preferences of military personnel in the South Sound region. Over 3,250 military personnel, reservist, family members and DoD civilians responded to the SSMCP-sponsored study, making it the largest ever conducted by a community group in support of the DoD.

The study answered a number of questions frequently posed by over 120 public and private agencies that make up SSMCP and its 14 Steering Committee members. Highlights include:

• 77% of active duty respondents have been deployed. Of those, one third have been deployed more than three times.
• 45% of respondents who plan to transition out of the military within five years would like to remain in the region.• 64% of off-base active duty members and their families live in Pierce County. 32% live in Thurston County.
• Half of military spouses living off-base work outside the home. Another 19% are looking for work.• 50% of respondents living off-base are uncomfortable with their childcare options.
• Only 35% of on-base respondents are satisfied with off-base commercial options for restaurants and services.• 40% of active duty respondents living off-base own their home.

Joint-basing between Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base has contributed to significant growth in Pierce and Thurston Counties. In fact, the base has grown 47% in less than a decade and is now Washington state's third largest employer, with over $4.5 billion in payroll alone. Today, JBLM has increased demands in the region, including transportation, housing, employment, health and childcare that frequently challenge the capacity of the region.

SSMCP Co-Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy praised the survey stating, "This survey is giving decision makers valuable data that will allow our region to better coordinate with JBLM and our common goals to support our service members and protect our vital freight and strategic mobility corridor."

Ranking House Armed Services Committee Member Congressman Adam Smith, who's district includes JBLM said "I am pleased that the South Sound Military Communities Partnership and its many members from the South Sound came together to conduct this important needs survey. It is clear our region and state will continue to be a positive partner for our service members."

This survey is very unique and gives South Sound communities the data necessary to make decisions that will ensure our service members and the needs of JBLM are taken into consideration when it comes to schools, housing and transportation needs. SSMCP Co-Chair and City of Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson noted, "This survey confirmed some of our communities' assumptions of where the bulk of the 40,000+ service members at JBLM live and their major concerns. Hearing directly from them, we now have a better understanding of where to allocate resources to enhance services and protect this installation in the future.

A summary of the survey and its findings can be found at www.jblm-growth.com.

The South Sound Military and Communities Partnership is a regional collaboration dedicated to building thriving military communities. With over 120 partner organizations, SSMCP provides a single point of contact for military-related activity that affects the region as a whole. By streamlining Washington State organizations, agencies, and community communication into one collaborative association, the Partnership is able to support entities that are carrying out recommendations in the JBLM Growth Coordination Plan, and oversee execution of the actions with one common voice. Learn more at www.jblm-growth.com

Dan Penrose, South Sound Military and Communities Partnership253-983-7772dpenrose@jblm-growthRead on...

Posted on: April 23, 2012

McCarthy, Enslow propose saving commuter bus route for Bonney Lake Sounder riders

Monday Apr 23 2012 9:02 AM

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow today announced a proposal for Sound Transit to preserve bus service between the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot and the Sumner Sounder Station. The new service, ST Express Route 596, would replace Pierce Transit Route 496, which Pierce Transit will discontinue in June.

"If approved by the full Board on Thursday, our proposal would enable Sound Transit to continue serving Sounder train commuters who rely every day on connecting bus service between Bonney Lake and Sumner," said Enslow, who also serves on the Sound Transit Board. "Since ST Express Route 596 would be the only connector route serving Sounder riders who commute from the Plateau, maintaining dedicated feeder bus service is essential to supporting our riders' ability to continue using Sounder to get to and from work."

Parking demand at Sounder stations in Pierce County and South King County is already over capacity. High-quality bus connections to stations are critical to meeting the needs of riders from eastern Pierce County.

"We are pleased to have developed a proposal that can continue connector service for Sounder riders from Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw," said McCarthy, who serves as chair of the Sound Transit Board. "I would like to thank Mayor Enslow for his leadership in working with Sound Transit, the City of Bonney Lake, and Pierce Transit to initiate productive discussions that stand to greatly benefit Pierce County residents who commute throughout the region every day."

The new ST Express Route 596 mirrors a previously-operated Sound Transit connector bus route approved by voters in the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure. That service, ST Express Route 582, operated between Bonney Lake and Tacoma until 2010. Pierce Transit began Route 496 service in 2007. The route proposed by Mayor Enslow today would function as a fast, limited-stop service for passengers making long-distance regional trips, with direct connections to commuter rail and other transit modes. If funded, the service would begin June 9 with schedules timed to meet morning and afternoon Sounder trains at the Sumner Station.

If approved by the Sound Transit Board on Thursday, the proposal would amend the Adopted 2012 ST Express Transit Operations budget from $102,308,773 to $102,561,773. The $253,000 amendment would fund the operation of ST Express Route 596 and associated maintenance costs at the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot through December 2012. Bus service and maintenance costs would be funded by allocating unused Pierce County subarea capacity. Future service and maintenance costs would be built into the Service Implementation Plan and annual budgeting process.

If the budget amendment is approved, Sound Transit would enter into an agreement with Pierce Transit to operate Route 596 under contract, using Sound Transit buses. Sound Transit is currently in discussion with the City of Bonney Lake and Pierce Transit on the ownership and maintenance of the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot.

Pat McCarthy, Pierce County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair253-798-6606 hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.us

Dave Enslow, Mayor of Sumner and Sound Transit Board Member253-299-5503 cpalmer@ci.sumner.waRead on...

Posted on: April 26, 2012

Sound Transit adopts McCarthy, Enslow proposal to save bus route

New ST Express Route 596 will enable agency to continue serving Sounder riders from Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw

The Sound Transit Board of Directors today unanimously approved creation of a new Sound Transit bus route between the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot and the Sumner Sounder Station. The new service, ST Express Route 596, begins operation on June 11. It replaces Pierce Transit Route 496, which Pierce Transit will discontinue June 8.

"I am pleased that the Board has approved funding for this critical feeder service," said Sound Transit Board Member and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. "This is a great solution for everyone. Commuters get a convenient connection to excellent regional bus and train service while Sumner avoids getting more cars trying to park in lots that are already over capacity. And, we all benefit from a few hundred cars remaining off our freeways every day."

Proposed by Enslow, the new ST Express Route 596 will function as a fast, limited-stop service for passengers making long-distance regional trips, with direct connections to commuter rail and other transit modes. The route serves 290 boardings each day and will be timed to meet morning and afternoon Sounder trains.

"We are thrilled by the Board's action to save this much-needed connector service for Sounder riders from Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "Thanks to Mayor Enslow's leadership and initiative, we have created a win/win solution that will benefit Pierce County residents who use Sounder every day to commute throughout the region."

ST Express Route 596 resurrects a previously-operated connector bus route that voters approved in the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure. Known as ST Express Route 582, that service operated between Bonney Lake and Tacoma. It was gradually phased out when Pierce Transit began operating Route 496 service in 2007.

Sound Transit will enter into an agreement with Pierce Transit to operate Route 596 under contract using Sound Transit buses. Sound Transit, the City of Bonney Lake and Pierce Transit are discussing ownership and maintenance of the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot.

The Board's action today amends the Adopted 2012 ST Express Transit Operations budget from $102,308,773 to $102,561,773. The $253,000 amendment will fund the operation of ST Express Route 596 through December 2012. Service and bus maintenance costs in future years would be built into the Service Implementation Plan and annual budgeting process. Service and bus maintenance costs will be funded from unused Pierce County subarea capacity.

Kimberly Reason, Sound Transit media relations and public information(206) 689-3343kimberly.reason@soundtransitRead on...

Posted on: March 8, 2012

County Executive's statement regarding port's growth

Thursday Mar 08 2012 3:10 PM

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy issued the following statement regarding the news about three shipping companies selecting the Port of Tacoma as their port-of-call:

"The Port of Tacoma plays a major role in our regi...Read on...

Posted on: February 24, 2012

Executive co-sponsors light-rail plan for Federal Way

The Sound Transit Board of Directors on Feb. 23 unanimously approved an amendment to the agency's 2012 budget to provide $24.3 million in additional funding for establishing a shovel-ready plan to extend light rail from South 200th Street to the heart of Federal Way.

The plan gives the agency a green light to immediately move forward with a conceptual engineering study, environmental review process, and record of decision on a route not only to South 272nd Street, which voters approved in the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in 2008, but all the way to the Federal Way Transit Center. Determining a specific route and more accurate cost estimates will support efforts to identify financing for constructing the line south of the Kent/Des Moines area.

The amendment was sponsored by Sound Transit Board and King County Council Member Pete von Reichbauer, who on Feb. 6 announced the proposal at a news conference with Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, Board Member and King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Board and King County Council Members Julia Patterson and Joe McDermott.

"I am pleased the Board has approved our plan for extending light rail further south to the Federal Way Transit Center," said von Reichbauer. "As a major transportation hub in the region, the transit center serves thousands of people every day. Making it a destination for light rail will improve transit services for all the citizens of South King County, and strengthen Sound Transit's ability to pursue funding for construction once a record of decision has been obtained."

Planning for the extension is slated to begin with an alternatives analysis this summer. Public workshops will take place this fall. There will also be a series of open houses conducted in the summer of 2013 as the agency moves forward with conceptual engineering and developing a draft EIS. A final EIS review process will take place in 2015, followed by Board selection of the project to be built and a record of decision from the Federal Transit Administration in 2016. Final design for the segment between S. 200th and Kent/Des Moines is scheduled to be complete by 2019, with construction beginning that same year. Testing would begin in late 2022 with service to Kent/Des Moines starting in 2023. Grant and other funding will need to be secured to construct an extension south of Kent/Des Moines.

"We look forward to working with the cities of Federal Way, Kent, Des Moines and SeaTac to advance our plan for extending light rail through the south corridor," said McCarthy. "While significant revenue challenges remain, the amendment approved by the Board today enables the agency to continue its important work to bring light rail to South Sound residents, with a vision for one day reaching Tacoma and Pierce County. I would like to thank Pete for his leadership in forging the way, and Senator Eide for coming forward in the spirit of true cooperation and creative problem-solving to support this proposal."

As a result of the national recession, current independent forecasts predict a 25 percent reduction in Sound Transit's available revenues through 2023 for moving forward with voter-approved expansions. While all five of Sound Transit's geographic subareas face major challenges, the challenges are greatest in South King County, where revenues are currently projected to be 32 percent lower than the original forecast. A months-long public process Sound Transit launched in 2010 for realigning the scope and timing of Sound Transit 2 expansions communicated that current funding projections are insufficient to reach South 272nd Street by 2023.

State legislation or additional authority from voters would be required to move forward with construction south of South 272nd StreetRead on...

Posted on: July 14, 2010

Partnership preserves Devil's Head, a 94-acre 'jewel' in the Sound

Devil's Head, a 94-acre jewel in the South Sound, will be preserved for public use thanks to a coalition of conservation partners that acquired the stunning waterfront property.

Located at the south end of the Key Peninsula, the property includes about a mile of high quality Puget Sound shoreline. Other site characteristics include two bald eagle nesting sites, wetlands, active feeder bluffs for salmon, old growth timber, forested riparian habitat and a pocket estuary.

"This is an incredible achievement for the people of this region," said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "People who are interested in conservation and recreation have dreamed for years of preserving Devil's Head, which provides incredible views of the natural landmarks that make this such a special place to live. Thanks to a lot of hard work, those dreams are now a reality."

The property acquisition is the result of years of cooperation among public and private partners. Key players include Executive McCarthy, County Council Member Terry Lee, Cascade Land Conservancy, the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office, the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, the Nisqually Tribe of Indians, the Greater Peninsula Conservancy, the Key Peninsula Parks District and the Washington Water Trails Association.

"All of this is being made possible for future generations and the health of our environment because of the leadership of many people," said Ryan Mello, Pierce County Conservation Director for the Cascade Land Conservancy. "The trust in our partnership and tenacity to keep moving forward has gotten this project through very uncertain times. Now we have this jewel in the Sound for the people of this region to enjoy forever."

The Conservancy's role included securing the grants, negotiations with the land owner and bringing all parties together. The property was purchased from Inspiration Inn, LLC, a limited liability corporation set up by Tim Jopp, who had envisioned a retreat and conference facility on the site.

The Devil's Head sale closed on July 13 for a purchase price of $3.4 million. A majority of the funding came from the state, with the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program providing $1.65 million and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributing $500,000. The remaining $1.25 million came from the Pierce County Conservation Futures program, which is funded by a portion of property taxes that are dedicated to protecting certain lands from development.

Plans are in the works for a public celebration of the acquisition. Details will be announced soon.

"The acquisition of Devil's Head has been a goal of mine for four years," said Councilmember Lee, whose District 7 includes the Key Peninsula. "With a lot of persistence and great help from the Cascade Land Conservancy and the state, we are preserving nearly one mile of outstanding shoreline. Local citizens will be grateful to see Devil's Head protected by Pierce County ownership for the enjoyment of all."

The landowner will be the Pierce County Parks and Recreation Department. The property has been logged in the past and currently there is no direct access, parking or other facilities. The long-term intended use will be a regional park for passive recreational use, including shoreline access for non-motorized boats and kayaking, trails, hiking and beach walking, and protection of wildlife and habitat.

Future plans include some small development on the uplands portion of site for a picnic area, viewpoint and an easily accessed trail on the west edge of property leading down to the beach. A scenic viewpoint will offer views of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.

"This is one of those transformational projects that reflect the power of the Cascade Agenda," said Gene Duvernoy, president of Cascade Land Conservancy. "Parks are important for our quality of life. Habitats for all kinds of wildlife are protected. A landscape with a mile of shoreline on Puget Sound will not be developed. This will enhance the work of the Puget Sound Partnership and its efforts to restore and protect the Sound, which is so important to our local economy. A win-win-win."

Two important trail systems will be enhanced by the acquisition.

The southern terminus of the planned Key Peninsula Head-to-Toe trail will be at the park. Estimated at about 20 miles in length, the Head-to-Toe trail will provide passive recreation opportunities and link to Joemma Beach and Kopachuck State Park.

The Cascadia Marine Trail extends from the waters at the Canadian border to Olympia. The public will greatly benefit from another site for water access. The $1.65 million from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program came from the Water Access Category.

The Devil's Head acquisition is part of a growing effort on the Key Peninsula that will result in the conservation of more than 200 acres and the opening of nearly 1.5 miles of Puget Sound shoreline to the public. Here is a summary of other recent acquisitions:

-- The Great Peninsula Conservancy purchased 24 acres known as the Johnson South Sound Refuge, located on the western shore of Key Peninsula, just north of Devils Head.

-- Great Peninsula conserved an additional 45 acres that include 1,500 feet of Puget Sound shoreline, two small streams and extensive forested wetlands.

-- Key Pen Parks purchased the 39-acre Taylor Bay Park property, which includes more than 600 feet of shoreline access as well as wetlands, forest and meadows.

"These kinds of projects are tremendously important to the Sound," said David Dicks, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency charged with protecting the Sound. "The Recreation and Conservation Office played a key role here, and cooperation like this will help us reach our goal of a healthy Puget Sound by 2020. Acquisitions such as Devil's Head are important markers on the road to success because protecting the property and limiting development is much better and cost effective than having to restore properties that have been disturbed so close to the SoundRead on...

Posted on: May 24, 2010

Public-private partnership saves 100-acre farm

Three new organic farms are operating in the Orting area thanks to a successful public-private partnership.

Officials representing Pierce County, PCC Farmland Trust and the State of Washington gathered May 21 on the site of the former dairy farm to celebrate the completion of what's known as the Orting Valley Farms project.

The partners arranged to buy the development rights to the 100-acre property, reducing its value so that other local farmers could afford to buy it. Under the agreement, the land must be operated as organic farms in perpetuity.

"This project represents major achievements for Pierce County," Executive Pat McCarthy said during the celebration. "It saves our farmland, which encourages local food production. It establishes a new generation of farmers in the county. And it demonstrates a new model of farming: smaller, diversified, organic and operating with direct sales."

PCC Farmland Trust, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving farmland in the Pacific Northwest, partnered with the county on the project. The Trust contacted more than 500 farmers before working out arrangements with several families to buy the property.

"We know that organic agriculture is best for the environment," said Kathryn Gardow, conservation director for the Trust, which was founded by the grocer co-op PCC Natural Markets. "It is healthier for our rivers and creeks. It is healthier for wildlife and animals that visit this property. And most importantly, the food that comes from this land is healthier for you and me and our children."

The May 21 celebration, attended by some three dozen people, hailed the operators of the three new farming ventures:

- Dan and Kim Hulse, operators of Tahoma Farms.

- Carrie and Ken Little, operators of Little Eorthe Farm.

- Joel Blais, operator of Crying Rock Farms.

- Julie Kintzi, a PCC Farmland Trust donor who bought the Crying Rock Farms property and will lease it to Blais until he qualifies for his own farm financing and can buy the property from her.

"This really is a dream come true for us," Dan Hulse told the crowd. "This project is just a beautiful model that can be used throughout the state and throughout the country."

Among the three farms, they will grow vegetables, fruits, hops and row crops, as well as raise pigs, lambs, alpacas, chickens and more.

All of the stakeholders thanked retired dairy farmer Emma Ford for her patience during the conservation easement process, and for her determination to preserve the property that her family farmed for some 45 years.

The partners also expressed appreciation for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which provided matching funding. The county's share came from the Conservation Futures program, which is funded by a small portion of property taxes.

Supporters at the May 21 event cheered the news that the Orting Valley Farm project won a Vision 2040 award from the Puget Sound Regional Council a day earlier. The award recognizes work done to manage responsible growth that creates a great quality of life in a four-county area.

The Orting Valley Farm project is likely just a beginning. Gardow noted that PCC Farmland Trust is applying for funding to protect three more farms in the Orting area.

"Standing by and watching our agricultural heritage slip away is not an option," said Pierce County Councilmember Shawn Bunney (District 1), an early advocate for the program. "We owe it to future generations to ensure that our farms remain a reality instead of becoming just another memoryRead on...