Community stronger, better because of public employees

May 13, 2013 

YAY: PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

This week is public service recognition week. In a community where public employees make up more than 40 percent of the workforce, it is hard to imagine Thurston County without the influence of dedicated public servants. The large number of community volunteers and organizations is, without doubt, partly due to the concentration of community-minded public employees.

And in spite of the rare actions of a few, the vast majority of public employees are dedicated, service-oriented folks, working to improve the lives of people and our communities.

YAY: POT SLOWDOWN

Olympia City Council wisely put the brakes on marijuana land uses, thus avoiding potential conflicts after the state Liquor Control Board releases rules governing the growing, processing and distribution of pot later this year. By implementing a moratorium on pot-related land uses, the council is giving itself time to thoughtfully consider how the new marijuana law and accompanying regulations affect its long-term development plans.

YAY: OLYMPIA HIGH SCHOOL

Olympia High School Principal Matt Grant did the happy dance this week. Olympia High School was named one of the top high schools in America. The school is experiencing positive results from its Advancement Via Individual Determination program, which gives students extra support and resources for college readiness courses and exams. The program takes a team effort of students, teachers, counselors, families, and community. With more than 26,000 high schools in the country, OHS should take pride at its ranking at 946.

YAY: TENINO MEMORIES

A 93-year-old unnamed person who made his fortune mining gold in Alaska is sharing that good luck with the Tenino School District. The miner graduated from Tenino High School in 1938 and moved from the South Sound in the 1940s. He has such fond memories of living in the Tenino area and of the district’s vocational program, that he donated $200,000 now and promises another $1 million in his will.

What a wonderful gift for Tenino, and we can’t resist wondering if state legislators will try to claim the $1.2 million toward fulfilling the McCleary mandate to fund K-12 schools.

YAY: PROPERTY VALUES UP

The real estate market is showing significant year-over-year growth, giving us hope the South Sound might be experiencing sustainable economic recovery. Thurston County home sales in April jumped 23.3 percent over last year, dragging median prices up 4.6 percent. When people buy and sell housing, the positive effects from those transactions fan out over our whole economy. Even the commercial real estate market is showing slight sign of renewal, although a shrinking state government continues to loom over that sector.

Let’s hope this happy trend continues, and builds even more momentum.

YAY: TAKING OFF SUN DAYS

We wish Principal Bob Sampson, of a private Christian school in Bellingham, had been our school principal. When the weather turned warm recently, he canceled school, giving kids a “sun day.” It’s only fair. School children in other parts of the country get snow days, and we can’t close schools for “rain days” — kids would be on permanent winter vacation. So sun days make perfect sense, though we doubt the idea will catch on in public schools any time soon.

YAY: USPS FOOD DRIVE

The Thurston County Food Bank is one organization hoping the United States Postal Service continues Saturday mail delivery. Mail carriers held their annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive last Saturday. It’s the second largest single-day drive for the local food bank, and one of the biggest overall contributors. We have no doubt that even if Saturday mail disappears, postal workers will keep their drive alive.

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