By Debbie Klosowski, Mayor, City of University Place
Our University Place police officers typically receive high marks for their professionalism and service to our community as evident from citizen letters and surveys. At this week’s council meeting, we were especially proud to congratulate our very own Sgt. Mike Blair who was recently recognized as the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Commissioned Officer of the Year.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Blair exhibited “stellar leadership” as the Supervisor of the Peer Support Team. “Sgt. Blair exemplifies the core values of responsibility and compassion.” His ideas for improvements along with the ability to implement changes and train deployment teams in assisting families of police officers were invaluable. Sgt. Blair also serves as a Public Information Officer along with his duties in University Place. On behalf of the City Council and our community, we wish to extend our thanks to Sgt. Blair, as well as the entire police department, for their continued service to keep our community safe.
Police Chief Rusty Wilder also presented the first quarter public safety report. Vehicle thefts are down by 47% (from 19 incidents in the first quarter last year compared to 10 this year) possibly due to increased education efforts urging citizens not to leave valuables in their cars along with increased usage of the Code Red system which alerts designated neighborhoods regarding local crimes. Although robberies went up 56% (from 9 incidents last year to 14 this year), Chief Wilder indicated the increase could be attributed to a ring of burglars that was recently caught.
Other public safety highlights included:
*National Prescription Drug Take Back Day – Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Police Station located on Drexler Drive (behind the library). People are encouraged to drop off old and unused prescription drugs at the department in an effort to prevent accidental overdoses, thefts and inappropriate uses. Although the U.P. Police Department is participating in the national campaign, there is a permanent “Drug Drop Off” box available to citizens during normal office hours.
*Congratulations are also in order to Deputy Doug Shook who is being promoted to the Police Investigator position starting May 30. Deputy Shook is a long time U.P. officer whose background includes serving as a School Resource Officer. A new replacement deputy will join the department in June.
Our city Finance Department (represented by Sandy Garrett, Leslie Blaisdell and Director David Layden) also received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (CAFR) Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. The CAFR is awarded to governments whose annual financial reports are judged to adhere to program standards and represents the highest award in government financial reporting. Agencies receiving the award meet standards such as demonstrating a “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story. Congratulations to our Finance team which has consistently received awards for their outstanding work!
Pierce County Update
Fostering a business environment that creates local jobs and increases the community’s overall prosperity is the primary focus behind Pierce County’s Economic Strategic Action Plan, according to Pierce County Economic Development Manager Denise Dyer.
Approximately 30% of Pierce County residents go to work in other counties each day, according to Ms. Dyer. As a result, the County is focusing efforts to create opportunities for people to work closer to home in areas that offer good jobs, safe communities and well maintained streets. The Strategic Plan elements include:
* Foster a supportive business environment (i.e. provide a variety of location opportunities)
* Provide direct support to business (referral assistance and personal visits)
* Improve Marketing and Communication (data and statistical analysis)
* Be a community partner (with regional and economic development organizations)
* Advocate for businesses (work with county departments on business related issues)
* Deliver superior customer service (provide flexible programs and services to meet business needs)
For more information please contact Ms. Dyer at 798-6926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Parks Appreciation Day was a huge success, according to UP PARC Chairman Jim Baldes.
More than 70 people spread bark chips and picked up branches at the Curran Orchard while more than 40 volunteers removed debris and cleaned out the stormwater swale at Cirque Bridgeport Park. Youth baseball registrations are also underway with 850 kids on 75 teams. More than 50% of the teams are being sponsored by individuals or businesses to cover the cost of t-shirts and other items.Anyone wishing to sponsor a team can contact 460-2530.
*Surveying local businesses and conducting stakeholder interviews to determine how the City can improve the business climate in U.P. are among the current tasks of the Economic Development Commission according to EDC Chair Rich Berndt. Assistant City Manager Mariza Craig reported that more than 850 surveys were mailed out with more than 200 returned to date. Results will be presented at a future council meeting.
*Networking, exchanging ideas and friendship is also in store for U.P. business owners at the next “Partner UP” on May 26 at Chambers Bay. For more information, contact Becky Metcalf at 460-5442.
City Manager’s Report
*Street light repair – Earlier this month, thieves damaged streetlights and stripped 1,500 feet of copper wire along Grandview Drive. The repair cost is an estimated $6,000-$8,000. Anyone with information on this crime should contact Crime Stoppers at 591-5959. Errant drivers have also damaged eight lightpoles throughout the City, resulting in an estimated $34,000 in replacement costs.
*Pasta anyone? We are all looking forward to the grand opening of Massimo Italian Bar and Grill in the near future. Massimo’s is located near 40th and Bridgeport in the old Captain Nemo’s building.
Revamping the city manager evaluation form to potentially include performance measures along with other information to make the evaluation more meaningful was also discussed at a council study session.After a brief discussion, council agreed to schedule additional time in the future to further finetune the form.
*Spring Cleanup, Recycling & Canned Food Drive – Sponsored by City of U.P. and U.P. Refuse.
The cleanup on Saturday, April 23, is open to residents living south of 40th St. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Please contact U.P. Refuse for information on cleanup rules – 253.564.3212.
*Spring Flower Show & Plant Sale – Saturday, April 30 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday, May 1 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Check out the beautiful rhodies along with wonderful plants for sale at Homestead Park. Don’t miss the Enviro Fair featuring environmental education, tips and exhibits which will also be held in Homestead Park on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*Adriana Hess Wetland Park Open House – Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me at dklosowski@CityofUP.com.