Posted by Peter Brennan on Jan 14, 2019
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
 
Today’s Program:  Mayor Cheryl Selby:  The State of the City of Olympia 2019
 
Meeting Called to Order: President Dan Lehuta @ 12:25 pm
 
  • Invocation by: Rosemary Barnhart
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: Ed Obie
  • Song: America the Beautiful, led by Nancy Zussy Allen
  • Four Way Test led by: Warren Carlson
Visiting Rotarians
  • Tanya Mote - West Olympia Rotary
  • Jeff Engle - Gateway Rotary
Guests of Rotarians
  • Kyle Cronk - Chris Wells, United Way
  • Sam Bovard - Nick Benzschawel, Washington Business Bank
  • Gerry Alexander - Tom and Christophe Allen, Acme Fuel
  • Cheryl Selby - Steve Hall, Olympia City Manager
  • Phyllis Mandel - Jacki Gavin
  • Warren Carlson - Pat Carlson (wife), and Candi Millar, Olympia Planning Commission
  • Steve Ryan - Terri Ryan (wife)
  • Corinna Phillips - Marilee Fillion, daughter and owner/operator of Bombshell Beauty Bar, and Brenden Clerget, owner/operator of Pixel Perfect, guests of Corinna Phillips
  • Denny Peterson - Lori Lynn, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
  • Oscar Soule - Former member Tom Iovanne, Watermeade Valley Home Inspection
  • Cheryl Selby – Jeff Engle (husband), Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington
Rotary Number
Denny Peterson provided new member Michael Kershisnik with his “special” Rotary number.
 
Happy Bucks – hosted by Mark Elliott
  • Mark Elliott - Shared a Will Rogers quote about comedians and politicians.
  • Nick Schmidt - Happy to be back from Napa and announced he will be teaching sports marketing at Saint Martin’s University.
  • Canela Silva Jeldres (our exchange student from Chile) - Had great experiences with her host family over the holidays including a trip to San Diego and Leavenworth.
  • Maureen Considine - Happy to have her power back on as of Friday night after the recent wind storm.  She is especially grateful to Sunset Air for restoring her heat. 
  • Bob Wubbena - Working with a group of volunteers who are working on a draft homeless response plan to recommend to the City of Olympia.  He met with Mayor Selby and City Manager Steve Hall to discuss their concerns. 
  • Matt DeBord - Clarified that Mark’s quote does not apply to our guests today.
 
Announcements
 
Exchange Student Update
Rosemary Barnhart shared the holiday experiences of our outbound exchange students. 
 
Classification Talk
Dave Sederberg provided his classification talk.  Dave considers himself an artist who loves to make things.  In his earliest years, he painted the hoods of automobiles and then began working more in sculpture using steel and other materials.  He is owner of Pacific Stage and provides A/V and creative support to fundraising events, concerts, parades, you name it.  He has also been the person responsible for lighting buildings around town.  He has interests in environmental issues and was very involved in the state expanding Earth Day to Earth Month.  Dave is very involved in Procession of the Species annually and made a gigantic skunk for the Procession last year.  He is married to Reiko and their daughter Whitney is named after the Whitney Museum of American Art where they met standing in line.   
 
Auctions
Steve Bean auctioned whole wheat sourdough bread donated by Bill Fishburn and Harlequin tickets to Neil Simon’s “I Ought to be in Pictures” to Al Cohen.
 
Humor
President Dan shared a story from Caroline Manger that we will refer to as “The Pope”
 
 
Program: The State of the City of Olympia 2019
 
Holly Mason introduced guest speaker and fellow Rotarian Mayor Cheryl Selby.  Mayor Selby joined Olympia Rotary in 2010.  Cheryl grew up in the Seattle area and moved her young family to Olympia in 1994 seeking the advantages of smaller community with a strong public school district.
 
When Cheryl first moved to Olympia, she worked with the Parks, Arts and Recreation department for two years. She volunteered in the Olympia School District as an Art Partner, PTA President, Levy Campaign volunteer, and eventually co-chaired the successful 2003 Bond Campaign, which all contributed to her desire to strengthen and build communications in her community.
 
Also, in 2003, Cheryl started working in the Probation Services Department of the City of Olympia, directing both the Safe and Sober Driving Program and the Thurston County Safe Kids Coalition.
 
She has previously served on boards for Sidewalk, the Thurston County Chamber, the Parking Business Improvement Area, Olympia Artspace Alliance, the Olympia Downtown Association and the Thurston County Boys and Girls Club as well as numerous other non-profit boards over the last 25 years.
 
Mayor Selby shared the five areas of focus for the City in 2019:  Community Safety & Health, Downtown, Economy, Environment, and Neighborhoods.  The comprehensive plan can be found online at www.Olympiawa.gov/CompPlan
 
She highlighted the efforts focused on downtown and the Clean Team and Downtown Ambassadors who were brought on as City services in 2018 after being contracted from a local agency.  Mark Renfro leads those programs. 
 
New traffic meters were installed downtown to allow visitors to download an application and have the ability to feed the meters remotely via their smart phones.  The Olympia Police Department has enhanced its walking patrol program with funds approved by voters.  “Oly on Ice,” a pop-up ice skating rink, opened this fall and has been very popular, with double the expected attendance.
 
Regarding Safety and Health, the biggest and most controversial issue is addressing the homeless crisis.  The Mayor described the difference between the City-sanctioned Mitigation Site and the unsanctioned tent encampment on State Street.  The Mitigation Site has been established as a place for tent camping for homeless individuals who abide by rules, and it has been working well.  There are many health and safety concerns with the other encampments, but the recent US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision about a Boise case has set precedent that the City cannot require individuals to remove their campsite without providing an alternative site.  This decision changed the City’s plans to clean up the encampments last fall until the Tiny Home Village and an additional mitigation site, located outside of downtown, can be established as alternatives.  This will allow enforcement of the no camping laws in the future.    
 
Mayor Selby said the hiring of Colin Deforest as Homeless Response Coordinator has been a tremendous benefit to coordination of the efforts as the crisis has grown larger and more visible in our community. 
 
Voters passed the Home Fund in 2018 and that new source of funding is allowing the Plum Street project and creation of the mitigation sites to move forward.  She said that the guests of the Mitigation Site have responded very well to the raising of expectations around behavior.
 
For the economy, Mayor Selby shared her vision of downtown to continue to develop arts, culture and heritage elements to attract positive and healthy activity and attract visitors to local businesses.  There is currently significant investment in housing and mixed use properties downtown. 
 
For other 2018 accomplishments, the Boulevard and Morse-Merriman Roundabout, the drinking water tank at Log Cabin and the acquisition of the Spooner Berry Farm property on Yelm Highway were shared.  The Mayor clarified that the Spooner property was only the U-Pick operation of the Farm, and that the purchase did not remove significant agriculture land from the city.  Plans for the property include ball fields, possibly a dog park and other community benefits.
 
Q&A Summary
 
Questions revolved primarily around the homeless and drug issues and the negative impact they are having on downtown businesses.  The Mayor believes the City is taking the 9th Circuit ruling too far, but the estimate by local social service providers is that only 20% of homeless residents in the camps downtown would take the offer for sanctioned shelter.
 
She also said that it is nearly impossible to arrest our way out of the low-level drug problems because when one is removed by law enforcement another quickly moves in.  She believes it needs to be less comfortable for drug dealing and use by having more good people spending more time downtown.  She encouraged all to be part of the solution by shopping and spending more time there.  She said to expect many improvements over the next three months, but also feels that this problem has been a generation in the making and it will take a generation to solve.
  
Mr. Snappy
Terri Ryan won a Fish Tale Brewpub gift certificate, donated by Amanda Walker
 
Meeting Adjourned: 1:45 pm by President Dan Lehuta