Finding a way

There’s an old saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  And, there is some truth to that.  Despite any number of obstacles, it seems that some people can find a way to break through and get things done.

That’s especially true here in Pierce County.

For example, I had a chance to join Economic Development in a socially distanced lunch last week.  I wanted to thank them for the myriad of ways they’ve supported our struggling businesses through the pandemic.

Over sandwiches, each one answered three questions from their work in the last year: What’s the funniest thing that has happened? What is the most meaningful thing? And, what lessons have you learned?

I found their answers to all three questions to be fascinating. As the team faced roadblock after roadblock in working to find creative and innovative solutions to support local small businesses, they just kept moving forward one step at a time.  I know they were frustrated at certain points along the way, but they didn’t give up and pushed through.

Our business community is far from recovered but they are in much better condition thanks to the dogged focus of the Economic Development team.

Here’s another example: The White River School District.  School administrators, parents and students in our community have been some of the people hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic.

You may recall that White River was one of three districts that agreed to be part of a pilot to try out a hybrid return to school approach. As a former school board member and County Exec, I was excited to see first hand how things were going at White River High School and Glacier Middle School last week.

It was so powerful to see the high school students on campus.  They definitely wanted to be there, even with a hybrid AM/PM schedule and were following all the recommended precautions, including screening upon arrival, masking and remaining socially distant.  I had the chance to talk with the leadership team, teachers, and the building counselor.  The janitor was in constant motion cleaning high-touch surfaces!

The building has dividers in the hallways to limit interaction and promote student passing between classes, and many of the places the kids would congregate have been closed.  It’s not exactly as it was pre-COVID but everyone (students and staff) was thrilled to be back to in-school instruction.

In speaking with the building leaders, it was clear they knew their students needed to be back in the classrooms. There was some concern the older students wouldn’t comply with the restrictions, but everyone has found a way to make it work.  And the teachers are even livestreaming the lessons for those who are still hesitant about the in-person instruction.

My last example is one closer to home:  Our own Department of Emergency Management. If you look up “determination” in a dictionary (do those even exist anymore?), you would see Jody Ferguson and her team at DEM.  We’ve thrown them curveballs, sliders, and knucklers over the last 12 months and they have hung tough and consistently hit them out of the park.

The latest pitch is a pretty tough one, to be honest – equivalent to former Mariner Randy Johnson’s feared Mr. Snappy!  We’ve given them the assignment to create and manage a huge mass vaccination effort – supplementing the other vaccinations efforts in Pierce County.  And, wouldn’t you know that next week, in coordination with the TPCHD, they plan to host the first three vaccination events!

Building on their success in developing and rolling out mobile COVID testing events, the team sprang into action to secure sites and find vaccines. They already had freezers, thanks to their penchant for forward thinking and planning!

They have a can-do attitude that delivers time and again for our residents.  They simply just find a way to get the hard things done – for the people of Pierce County.

Thanks for reading,