The first major cold snap is behind us and for the most part we escaped significant snowfall in the lowlands.  But the sustained cold did wreak some havoc – did you hear about the frozen then broken fire sprinkler in Woodland Elementary?  The flooding did significant damage. 

How did you fare?  I have a minor broken pipe to deal with, but our power stayed on, and we were warm when the temperatures took a nosedive.

But we have remarkable people working alongside us at Pierce County, doing critically important work to help our community weather the freezing temperatures.

Our Human Services Energy Team helps keep lights on and heat flowing for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Their work is important year-round, but especially significant in the winter!

That is part of the reason they just received Director Heather Moss’s HERO Award – which stands for Helpful, Enthusiastic, Remarkable, and Outstanding.

The Human Services HERO Award is a quarterly recognition for the staff who stand out in one of five categories: mentorship, innovation, above and beyond, acts of kindness and diversity, equity and inclusion.

It is easy to understand how losing your power as a vulnerable senior could become very dangerous.  So, join me in congratulating the most recent HEROs: JoAnn Pittman, Nancy Flint, Huong Nguyen, Kathy Hormann, Lety Simmons, and Damaris Guerra.  They definitely went “above and beyond” to support our community!

Another hero without a cape is Aaron McConnell, a Maintenance Supervisor in Planning and Public Works. During the recent freezing weather, the city of Roy was without water for five days and they couldn’t figure out why.

The mayday call for assistance came in last Friday morning and by 1:00 p.m. Aaron and his crew had diagnosed the problem, cleared the frozen drain bypass, replaced a part, and had the water system working again.  Way to go, team!

Wait, there’s more! I received a wonderful email from Janet Runbeck of the Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness highlighting another group of heroes.  She was raving about our Department of Emergency Management (DEM) and their support of our unsheltered neighbors during the freeze.  Janet had been invited into the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to help with the response.  Here’s part of what she wrote to me:

“DEM’s response … was exemplary.  The whole DEM was welcoming and efficient, but a special shout out goes to (Director) Jody Ferguson. In times of crisis, she went the extra mile.  Her greatest asset was that she listened.  It is hard to be an advocate for a challenging population, but her emphasis on cooperation resulted in better health outcomes for those most at risk.  Please thank your DEM team for me, a grateful Pierce County resident.”

I am glad to pass on and echo your appreciation for DEM, Janet!  Although I am pretty sure Jody would say her greatest asset is the team she works with – they rise to every challenge.  That includes hosting an emergency response delegation from Vietnam this past Tuesday. How’s your international protocol?

Who are the everyday heroes that you work with?  I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading,