The Mayor’s Corner
What’s Happening at the Soldiers Home
Wednesday Orting citizens, City Council Members and I had an opportunity to listen to and ask questions about the Betsy Ross Housing Project and other homeless veteran programs at the Soldiers Home. Representing the program were John Lee, and Ray Switzer of the nonprofit WestCare Foundation as well as leadership of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). WestCare has entered into a partnership and lease agreement for the Betsy Ross Building, to provide housing and supportive services for 12 homeless women veterans. The building has been fully renovated and is ready to receive women now.
Councilmembers asked questions concerning the admission criteria, security, background checks, medical care, transportation, employment and others. The Councilmembers and I were particularly interested in the security of the City. I received a “yes” to my request for random drug tests by the County Health Department. I also asked that WestCare work hard at finding any homeless women veterans in Orting to take part in the programs.
The WestCare leaders described programs like this one they have been running for some years. They stated they have been particularly successful getting the veterans all available government support including income and medical care. They’ve also been able to find housing, employment, training and education.
In the end John Lee, a Senior Vice President of WestCare and former Director of the State Department of Veterans Affairs, stated that he is certain these programs will be successful, and if not, they will be closed. We will hold John Lee to his promise. He also wanted me to make his cell phone number available to all our citizens should they have any additional questions. Mr. Lee’s phone number is (360) 529-1592.
Two way Turn Lane on Washington by Safeway
Ever since I served on the city council 10 years ago I’ve been pushing for a left-turn lane at this intersection. I’m happy to report that we received State funding that will pay for 2/3 of the construction of this project. Work should start shortly. This should keep traffic flowing instead of backing it up while waiting for someone who wants to turn left. The project will also include intersection improvements for pedestrian safety and decorative lighting.
Orting Bypass Road (Southwest Connector)
The current City Council again approved the bypass road from Whitehawk Blvd, to Calistoga St. W. that was approved about 8 years ago. Our City Engineer and I lobbied the Puget Sound Regional Council for federal funding. We just received word that Orting will receive $347,000 for engineering and design work. Also, we are in line to receive additional funding for property acquisitions. Since 65% of our traffic drives home though town to get to Graham and south Pierce County communities, getting those cars out of the mix before the traffic “train” hits the 25 mile speed zone will speed up the entire string of cars. The City Council also allocated funds to do property appraisals this year. We are hoping for significant progress in 2017 and 2018.
Thanks for reading this,
Joachim Pestinger (Joe)