Building blocks in place for boost in real estate market

More good news is coming from the Thurston County housing sector. The number of homes sold in June this year increased by almost 6 percent over last year, and hit a high of 307 in any month since January.

That doesn’t seem like much, just 17 more houses sold, but it is a gain, and we haven’t had many of those lately.

Prices slipped slightly, by about 1 percent, but are poised to make a climb in the near future. The inventory of houses for sale in Thurston dropped by 20 percent in June. That will give buyers fewer choices, possibly pushing up selling prices and shortening the amount of time it takes to sell a house.

With mortgage rates at ridiculously low rates – recently 3.56 percent on the West Coast – it appears all the key elements are in place for an improvement in the residential real estate market.

Just don’t expect or wait for another housing boom. Where the market is at now could well represent the new normal.

The relationship between Tenino Mayor Eric Strawn and his council has deteriorated to the point where the council passed a vote of no confidence against him. Worse, Strawn had no idea the council was so upset as to even take the vote.

Strawn needs to mend relations with his council, but council members need to do their part, too. This shouldn’t be about politics, because an ineffective and dysfunctional city council will have ramifications for taxpayers somewhere down the road, if not already.

One area of concern is that the mayor ordered city staff to stop fulfilling public records requests. That’s unacceptable. There is no greater threat to democracy, even in a small town, than limiting the public’s access to government documents.

If there have been an overwhelming number of records requests, as the mayor has said, the answer is not to create the appearance of secrecy.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington helps thousands of young South Sound children grow up with meaningful adult role models in their lives. Without the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, these children would likely never have a father or mother figure to help steer them through the turbulent waters of the teenage years.

Volunteering to become a “Big” is a wonderful contribution to the lives of young people throughout our community. But if you can’t, you can support the organization financially – and play some golf at the same time – by sponsoring a hole or a team at its annual BIG Golf Tournament on July 27 at the Golf Club at Hawks Prairie.

Consolidating Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base was supposed to save the military $2.3 billion over the next two decades.

But two years after the merger into Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Government Accountability Office says the savings will amount to only $249 million.

That’s still a quarter of a billion dollars, but the Department of Defense also missed badly in projecting the savings from all 12 military base consolidations since 2005. The DOD projected to trim $36 billion by 2025, but the GAO says it will be more like $10 billion.

The good news, however, is that the consolidation of JBLM probably secured its future. Personnel levels are even expected to grow in future years.