Citizen Editorial

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Proven Result Of A Transportation Benefit District

What can a Transportation Benefit District do for Shelton's roads and economy?  Take a look for yourself at the benefits the city of Wapato has experienced since establishing a Transportation Benefit District in their town.  Wapato City story in the Yakima Herald

Establishment of a Transportation Benefit District offers a method to collect and setting aside money specifically for improving roads and streets within the set district (i.e. city, county).  Once the money is collected it can then be used to fix roads.  Included in the "approved" uses of this money is to use the money to apply for and get grants that require matching funds.  The story of Wapato Washington tells of the City of Wapato's use of Transportation Development District dollars; One example was a private grant for $650k, a company agreed to pick up a sizable portion of the cost of the road project, providing $309,200 with an economic investment grant from Yakima County matches the $309,200,leaving the city to provide the remaining $25k-$32k.  Numbers estimated for the City of Shelton with a $20 tab fee is $130k annually.

The story also highlighted plans for next year; to apply for a transportation grant of $450k, with the City of Wapato matching the grant request with $50K to complete a $500k project which widened and paved streets.  By the way the matching funds are generally due at the end (or completion) of the work, giving additional time to collect (save) money for the match.

The question on the table is this a tax?  or a method to build up funds (save) to improve the roads.  If the City has the reserve funds to fix roads the door starts to open to apply and secure grants (private, federal and state).  Without the reserve and/or matching funds we sit around and wait for the "free money" to fall in our laps.  KMAS was told by those who know "this isn't going to happen".  Currently the County's roads are in "better shape" than the City streets and roads because the County Road Engineer Melissa McFadden fights to maintain dollars in the road fund account specifically for maintenance and operation of the road department and to maintain road conditions.  The current 2015 road fund balance is $1M in 2015, the $1M will be used to acquire additional grant funding.  McFadden estimates the county could receive over $4M in grant dollars (a 4-1 ratio of grant dollars to matching dollars) to repair Mason County Roads.  Without the matching dollars the County would not qualify for any of the grants.

Jerry Eckenrode, Shelton, WA

March 5, 2015

Puget Sound Honor Flight - “One Last Flight”

On March 14, 2015, one of our own will be taking a fight to Washington D.C., as a one of the still remaining women veterans of World War II.  Her name is Fern Kinsey Jacobson, who now lives in Fawn Lake, Shelton. Fern is ninety years old, but is as active as a fifty year old. She entered the Service in Grants Pass Oregon, and attained the Rank of MAM 2/C.  Her activities during World War II were, Boot Camp, attending  Hunter College, Mail School in Sampson NY and then stationed in San Francisco in the department of Fleet Records.
During the Second World War, women were no allowed on ships. Fern did her part for the War effort by doing clerical work.
Fern has two children:
 Son Steve Jacobson married to Kathy
Daughter Joanne Johnson married to Marty and Grandson, Bret Jacobson who lives in Washington D.C. and Great  Granddaughter Maisie Jacobson.
The members of this elite group will have two very busy days visiting;
WWII Memorial, Lincoln, Korean, and Vietnam Memorial, FDR Memorial, Navy Memorial  and Museum, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Marine Corp Memorial, and Air Force Memorial. They will also attend a Banquet and return home on March 16th
.This is made possible by the Puget Sound Honor Flight Honor Flight Network and is a nonprofit organization Created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices.
We, her friends wish her a very wonderful  trip and are so glad she has this opportunity to attend this recognition of her love for her country.
All her Friends of Fawn Lake, Shelton

March 2, 2015

School Board Policy Violations

In a rushed vote to close the swimming pool and repurpose the building on February 10, 2015 School Board meeting we witnessed the board violating numerous policies and procedures, citing an argument that this board does not follow its own policies and are attempting (February 24, 2015) to suspend or delete a policy that they have already violated.

The vote on February 10, 2015 to close and repurpose the pool violated policy #4355, which states " The Shelton School District is committed to supporting a quality Aquatics Program for the district, community and southern Mason County. The district will assume budget responsibilities, out of the General Fund budget of the school district, for utility costs, general maintenance, chemicals, a swimming instructor, swimming coaches as authorized, and an Aquatic Director."

The board also violated policy #1320, which prohibits the board from suspending policies in the manner in which they did, it states "A policy of the board will be subject to suspension by a majority vote of the members present, provided all board members have received notice of the meeting and the notice included a proposal to suspend the policy and an explanation of the purpose. If such proposal is not made in writing in advance of the meeting, a policy may be suspended only by a unanimous vote of all board members present. " Since there was no previous proposal to suspend the policy then it needed to be an unanimous vote, which it was not, it was 4-1, therefore in violation of this policy.

The Board also violated policy #1310 which states" When the board of directors is considering a district policy or amendment to policy that is not expressly or by implication authorized by state or federal law, but which will promote the education of kindergarten through twelfth grade students in public schools(the aquatics program is part of the curriculum offered to the k-12 students) ...the proposed policy will be described in any notice of the meetings at which the policy will be considered, if the notice is issued pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Ch. 42.30 RCW. The board of directors will provide an opportunity for public written and oral comment on such policies before adoption or amendment." None of which has been done.

The superintendent also violated this policy #1310 which states "The superintendent will develop such administrative procedures as are necessary to ensure consistent implementation of policies adopted by the board." There certainly was not any consistent implementation of board policy.

With this kind of disregard for the policies it becomes suspect that the Board has likely been violating other policies. How is the school board to be held accountable, how are we to accept a vote that is against their own policies, and how can we be assured that this will not continue in the future?

Laura Vance, Shelton WA
February 26, 2015

Pool Advisory Committee's Role

Having been the Chair of the pool committee I will not sit by and let the blame be placed on this committee as an excuse for closure of the swimming pool. As a committee we did exactly what the board tasked us with. We did more. We brought them pro’s and con’s for the options they required. We brought them timelines and expenses. We were complete in our charge from the Board.

I do believe from board member comments on February 24 that two board members believed that the Committee was given the permission to act for and in behalf of the School Board and the Shelton School District to negotiate a contract with city and county officials to move the operations costs of the pool out of district hands. I question if they even knew what the committee was asked to do.

Let me enlighten them and you.

This advisory group is charged with the task of:

  1. Given the constrained budget for the school district, the school board asks the committee to provide short-term and long-term recommendations.
  2. If the pool must be closed for safety reasons and/or lack of funding, in the short run how can the school district provide water safety training and swimming competition opportunities for the children of the Shelton School District?
  3. Looking toward the future, what can be done to raise money to refurbish the pool or to build a new community pool or YMCA?
  4. (Added later) Create a fundraising plan.

Board Members, were misinformed if they believed that the pool committee had the authority to operate in behalf of the school board.

They asked for options. They were given options, and they themselves chose not to act or give direction.

As for the charge from Ms Williams, February 24, about the committee requesting board members not being allowed in the pool committee meetings, for the first few meetings this was true. The committee felt it was in the best interest of everyone, due to hostilities, toward the pool, school administrators, district staff and the public at the time. We felt this was a conflict of interest and requested that they not attend the initial meetings. The board agreed to concede this point. It also needs to be brought to attention that a board member did, in fact, attend several pool committee meetings.

The district paid $20,000 for a report that they themselves don’t understand. If they were to take the time to consult with pool outside experts they would see that there is a way to keep this pool operational. Many of the items on the ORB report and not only unnecessary but are mere wishes for the creation of an elite facility.

Shelton does not need an elite facility. We will not be hosting Olympic Trials. What we need is a safe and functioning facility. This is within our reach.

After the February 10 vote, a board member was heard saying they just went along with everyone else. This is tragically unfortunate. I question if this member understood the details involved in the ORB report. There is a way to work together. There have been options presented.

We as a committee asked that we be made a permanent committee to work toward a solution. We shared our questions and concerns with the school board. We asked that our formal letter stating these concerns be entered into board meeting minutes. They were not. We were to present our findings in a regularly scheduled board meeting. We did not. At their request our presentation was moved to a Study session where no minutes or recordings were made. We received no further communication from the board. Our presentation was given May 29, 2014 with only a couple comments and even fewer questions presented to the Pool Committee.

Committee members brought a grant possibility to the board. This is the $250,000 capital grant that was submitted for consideration to the State in September 2014. Our commission expired and the committee was disbanded June 30, 2014. Fundraising was brought to a halt because by law all monies received for pool repairs need to be returned to the donor if the pool were to close and repairs not made. We were given no assurance or direction. We received no word from the Board regarding their intention prior to the February 10 vote for closure.

These are the facts. Ask any one of the 14 members of the Pool Advisory Committee.

Pool Supporters never asked for a $2.5 Million swimming pool. We want repairs and a plan to take the expense from the district hands. We have a plan. We would like an opportunity present our plan. They never asked. They only wanted to know their options.

Jacquie MacAlevy, Shelton, WA
February 16, 2015

Citizens' Priorities Are Skewed

 

If you attended the school board meeting on February 24, 2015, you saw the culture of cruelty that leads to youth and teenage suicide in action.

Follow my logic here.

On Tuesday, February 10, I attended a school board meeting that embarrassed me as a citizen.  The Shelton School Board voted on the projects to fund this summer from their critically low resources, including fixing leaky roofs and making the District compliant with the ADA.  After careful deliberation, and providing an in depth explanation of the financial situation of the District, the superintendent recommended that the aged out pool be closed.  The vote was 4-1 and passed.

I was embarrassed for the woman who stood and loudly told the board to expletive-off, I was embarrassed for the man who stood up and made loud comments, and I was embarrassed that among the pool supporters no one tried to reign in these pool supporters who epitomize for me the bully mentality.

On Wednesday, February 11, I attended another meeting, this one at Olympic Middle School.  This one not about a swimming pool, but to learn more about bullying, what the school is doing to try to curb bullying, and to try to wrap my brain around the fact that one of our school children, age 11, had suffered so much in our school's culture of cruelty that he took his own life.

Comparing and contrasting these two events has been on my mind a lot lately.  We still do not know the full story behind young Steven Carrillo's suicide; likely we never will.  But after meeting with the staff at Olympic Middle School, it is clear that the school is doing everything it possibly can, including reaching out to the citizens and seeking additional thoughts, ideas and solutions for how to deal with an impossibly difficult situation:  Bullying behavior, a culture of cruelty, and disrespect for authority.

Last night, after watching parents and students behave as badly as they possibly could in a public meeting, I am beginning to understand.  

This bullying is learned behavior, clear and simple.  It does not start at the school, it comes to school with the students, it comes from home.  To bully or not to bully is taught; to be cruel, or to not be cruel, is taught. Children learn by example.  The students and parents who attended the school board meeting last night came with an agenda of intimidation and disruption.  They achieved both of their objectives.  But at what cost?  

When the parents encourage the lack of civility, when not one mother or father stands up to try to reign in the disrespectful display of angry students, when the speakers re-plowed the same old ground and were met with applause, cheers and whistles, notwithstanding the board's request to hold their applause, we have anarchy.  

Our children were shown a very poor way to behave last night, and the adult pool supporters present are complicit in the bad behavoir for encouraging it and for sanctioning it.

What is the lesson to be learned by contrasting these events:  Out of control attendees of School Board meetings, and a community forums to address bullying?

In the first place, there are a lot more people concerned about the pool than about a child who ended his life because he had taken all he could take and could not imagine that it was going to get better.

That bears repearing:  There are a lot more people concerned about the closing of the pool, than about a child who ended his life.

I am saddened and disappointed that not one person in the audience could reign in the crowd; that not one parent or teacher (there were many self-identified teachers present) attempted to restore order and encourage the attendees to behave in a reasonable manner.

I am saddened and disappointed that the parents are teaching the children:
"If you do not like a decision, tell em to expletive-off, shout them down, intimidate them, act like bullies and we will get what we want."

The two-year old acting this way, I understand.  Parents and high school students acting this way, and believing it will benefit their cause and bring about the end they desire, has me completely baffled.

One thing I am sure of, however, is that the behavior at the school board meeting was ugly, intimidating, and show-cased what is terribly wrong in our schools and our community, leading me to connect the intimidating, bullying behavior I observed last night, with childhood suicide.  Sadly, one leads straight to the other.

Katherine A. Price, Shelton

February 25, 2015