Tumwater council hears updates about library, joint animal services, forestry plan

Tumwater receives Community Leadership Award

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Tumwater City Council met for a regular meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m.

Library Update

The council first heard from Executive Director of Timberland Regional Library Cheryl Heywood and Tumwater library manager Nicole Thode.

Heywood provided the council with an update on Timberland Library services during the pandemic as well as a few updates. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the libraries have pivoted the way they offer services to the public. Instead of minimizing those services during this time, new opportunities and programs were created. Among those were Storytimes via Zoom, curbside/walk-up services, and expansion of the library apps, Overdrive and Libby, both available at the five-county system’s website.

Although Timberland Libraries across the county will soon re-open to walk-in services, you can expect to see curbside/walk-up services continue for those who would like to still use it. In addition, the library apps, Overdrive and Libby have expanded their services to include many books, audiobooks, and over 3,400 e-magazines in a variety of languages. These magazines from all over the world can now be read straight from the app.

Heywood also announced a future project in the works, known as demonstration libraries. These are creative active learning spaces designed and run specifically to improve literacy levels and enhance the learning experience of students. The demonstration libraries will be in two locations within Thurston County--one in West Olympia at the Capital Mall and the other in Hawks Prairie. Heywood announced that the Capital Mall location should be a go-ahead by May 1 but the other location is still in the works.

Tumwater receives Community Leadership Award

 Also on the agenda was a speech from Development Services Director Mike Matlock regarding the Community Leadership Award being granted by Leadership Thurston County to the members of Thurston Strong group, otherwise known as the Thurston Regional Economic Recovery Task Force. The City of Tumwater is one of its 11 partners. 

Thurston Strong was formed in March 2020 as a result of the economic disparities that Covid-19 brought to local small businesses and workers within Thurston County. Over the past year, Thurston Strong gave over $10 million to local businesses in an effort to promote economic recovery.

This Community Leadership Award lists all partners of Thurston Strong on the plaque that will hang in City Hall to commemorate its efforts in promoting economic growth during the pandemic.

Intergovernmental Agreement for Joint Animal Services

The council also heard from Joint Animal Services Commission (JASCOM) representative  Sarah Hock regarding considerations for the Intergovernmental Agreement for Joint Animal Services. If approved, this agreement would “continue joint operation of an animal shelter and the conduct of animal protection and control activities pursuant to a new agreement” (language directly from the document).

This document, which has not been updated since 2014, included the following minor updates: members of JASCOM requesting the option for the commission to set licensing fees; eliminating any reference to the previous JASCOM building loan as the loan has been paid off; changing the language within the document from ‘citizens’ to ‘residents’ in an effort to be more inclusive; changing any referral to JASCOM to ‘the commission’ to provide consistency throughout the document; and to provide the opportunity for the commission to be able to contract services within other jurisdictions to offer services to unincorporated parts of Thurston County, and the City of Yelm.

The council agreed to those changes and approved the agreement. One more round of changes will be in order before the council looks at the document again for final acceptance.

Ordinance No. O2020-004, Urban Forestry Management Plan

Planning Manager Brad Medrud presented this ordinance to the council. Essentially, this plan, which started development in 2017, would highlight new ways to protect trees and vegetation in the area for the next 20 years. Similarly to the Climate Mitigation Plan, this ordinance is more of a guideline for improvement rather than a concrete, comprehensive plan of attack.

“I think this is kind of like the climate plan. Moving forward, it's up to us to determine our city’s future,” said Councilmember Michael Althauser.

“We need to start somewhere and I feel like this plan will hold us accountable. This will have that transparency and provide us with the opportunity to go back, look, and make changes later,” added Councilmember Leatta Dahlhoff.

The council agreed that the ordinance needed some clarification but decided that approving this guideline for management should be the first step in seeing action. After much discussion over the plan’s ambitions goals, the council voted for approval with a majority vote.

Announcements

The council is still looking for applicants for Council Position 2, recently vacated by Tom Oliva. Applications are due Friday, March 12 by email to Deputy City Clerk Hanna Miles or mailed to Tumwater City Hall, 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501. More details in this story.

Councilmember Charlie Schneider also reminded the public that the next senior meal handout will be happening on Wednesday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) at Tumwater Historical Park from 11:00 to 12:15 p.m.

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