Splash Pad

Water streams from the Yelm splash pad features.

Here’s another batch of Power Rankings, my occasional and completely nonsensical look at the news of the week. 


1. Splash Pad Rage. Thank goodness Yelm’s new splash pad is open. 

Had it taken any longer, I am fairly certain an angry mob was going to descend on city hall wearing swimsuits and carrying inflatable pitchforks. 

Online criticism aimed toward the pace of the project, which will still face intermittent closures as the city tweaks the water system, has grown hotter as summer wears on. Dozens of folks took to social media to voice their displeasure.

“Summer will be over by the time it’s open!” one person wrote, echoing the sentiments of others. “This is stupid!” 

Each time I read such a missive, I heard the same resounding message in my mind: “Chill out!”

City officials are surely confused as to how the creation of a beautiful new water feature became the target of anger rather than joy. It seems to be a case of misplaced expectations by some residents, many who apparently lack the geographic awareness to know there are dozens of safe places to cool down in the lakes, rivers and ponds of the area, not to mention the simple installation of a home sprinkler. Projects on the scale of the new splash pad frequently overrun initial construction time estimates.

Also, how can you complain about the lack of a free municipal feature that has never existed before?

I don’t mean to make light of their complaints, but if your biggest gripe is that the city’s brand new toy isn’t open yet, life must be pretty darn good (or bad, I suppose). 

2. Emergency Plane Landing. As soon as I read about a small plane making an emergency landing on a busy road in Pierce County last week, something told me it came from Yelm. I’m not sure why, but it seems like any major breaking news of the odd or rare variety is somehow always linked back to the Nisqually Valley. Sure enough, news broke a couple hours later that the pilot was Yelm resident David Acklam, who set the plane down and brought it to a stop with all the calm of someone taking a right-hand turn on an unoccupied country road. 

I tip my hat to Mr. Acklam. Judging by my daily commute on State Route 507, it’s apparent he can do more on a roadway with a plane than many can with a car. 


3. Jay Inslee. Come home, Jay. It’s all over. That seems to be the resounding message following stagnant, below 1 percent polling in the presidential race for the Washington governor, who has been criss-crossing the country on the public’s dime attempting to have a moment that would place him among the real contenders for the Democratic Party’s nomination. 

Personally, I respect his dogged insistence on sticking to his dire warnings of climate change, a topic that has long been a focus for the governor. 

But it doesn’t seem to be working, and costs are mounting. 

The State Patrol alone has shelled out $580,000 in travel and overtime expenses between March and June. 

I’m all for anyone’s pursuit of public office, but Inslee already has one of those, and I’m among the growing group of residents who think it’s time for the governor to come on home. 


4. Power Outages. For a brief time on Friday, Aug. 2, Yelm was home to not one but two newspaper staffs. That’s because the staff of our sister newspaper, The Chronicle in Centralia, once again became refugees when electricity was knocked out for almost all of Lewis County right on deadline for their Saturday edition. It’s the second time it has happened in a month, and the editor, reporters and additional staff from The Chronicle have now made a routine out of transporting their entire internet server across county lines to put out their newspaper. 

We were happy to have them, though the near-constant questions about the Ramtha School of Enlightenment were a bit annoying. 


Eric Schwartz is regional executive editor for Lafromboise Communications. He can be reached at eschwartz@yelmonline.com. 

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