Pierce Pioneer

Washingtonians will be required to wear mask in public or face a possible misdemeanor

Starting Friday, June 26, Washington State will issue a statewide mask mandate that will require all Washington citizens to wear face coverings while in public. This order is said to be a response to the increase of cases in certain counties.
Governor Jay Inslee made this announcement on June 20, after concerns with potentially overwhelming the county’s health care system due to a recent rise in cases, as stated on his website. Following a conference held on June 16, Inslee believes that doing so will have a positive effect on case numbers.
“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”
Other news sources, including Q13 Fox and the Oregonian, state that violators of this statewide order could mean receiving a misdemeanor, which can lead up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. “Violation of the Yakima County proclamation for businesses is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine,” Q13 Fox states. “Inslee said that businesses in Yakima County that don’t comply risk losing their business license.”
As of June 25, Washington state has a total of 31,400 confirmed cases, with 1,294 deaths. Pierce County places fourth in confirmed COVID-19 cases, estimated to be around 2,672 total with 1,709 reported to have recovered. King County still leads in cases, having 9,504 total confirmed cases; however, Yakima County has recently shot to second place in confirmed cases, with 6,736 total.
A date in which the state mandate will be lifted has not been announced yet, but it is safe to say that this order will continue until the confirmed cases in otherwise county hotspots have decreased to a satisfactory level.

Pierce College Facing Budget Cuts Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Ciara Williams , Staff  Illustration

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Pierce College prepares for potential budget cuts due to a wide state fund decline.

On May 11, Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson sent out a mass email stating that Pierce College will be experiencing budget cuts in the 2020-2021 school year. As a response, the college is preparing a budget development process that is taking place over the next few months.

Pierce College braces for budget cuts as high as 20 percent. While that percent only accounts for less than half of Pierce’s revenue, according to Johnson, that still is a 10 percent reduction, adding up to around $6 million.

“This work will be difficult and unfortunately, painful,” Johnson stated. “There is no way to handle revenue declines of this magnitude without pain. Departments throughout the college will need to rethink and retool their entire operation.”

Along with Pierce College, multiple other state agencies could face general fund reductions of 15 to 20 percent or higher. This is due to a large decline in Washington State’s general fund revenue. 

“Currently, state officials and legislators are still trying to understand the full extent of the issue,” Johnson stated. “But preliminary forecasting by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council points to a very large decline in revenue that started in March and could continue for several years.”

Pierce College has made a temporary plan, in hopes of getting the college’s budget through the summer and parts of fall. “Over the next few weeks, the Budget Team and the Budget Planning Groups will be working on ideas and concepts to build a temporary spending plan to present to the Board of Trustees in June,” Johnson stated. “The proposed budget will be reviewed by the District Cabinet and presented to the Board of Trustees in October for approval.”

The Budget Team is currently formed around large groups of departments and divisions throughout the district, including Instruction, Student Services, Self-Support Programs, Facilities/Safety, and Institutional Support Services, as stated by Johnson.

Many questions still remain, such as what departments will be affected by these budget cuts the most, as well as programs or student resources. However, as the months go by, Johnson assures staff that Pierce will continue to answer questions and address the situation.

“The Budget Team and college leadership will continue to share information, involve constituents, and be open and transparent in this process.”

A Final Farewell

Former Vice President of Learning and Student Success,
Dr. Carol Green said Denise is with us right now.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom gives their final send-off to former president Denise Yochum

For what felt like a storm for the first time since 2020 began, it wasn’t raining. 

Dim lights and classical music greets guests as they approach the Performance Lounge at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s campus. As the music swelled, a mixture of voices chatted and laughed amongst each other. Flowers and white tablecloths decorated the scenery, and the environment held a peaceful and inviting atmosphere.

It captured the essence of Pierce College’s former president, Denise Yochum, as faculty members from all around shared a final farewell together. 

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom held a memorial ceremony for Yochum on Feb. 9, following her passing on Jan. 13. It’s a rare and cherished thing to be able to rejoice in times of sorrow. Many guests were given the opportunity to comfort one another and share memories of Yochum, during and after the ceremony.

Duncan Stevenson, director of District Athletics at Pierce, shared with the crowd Yochum wanted to be remembered through laughter and smiles, rather than through tears. “As always was the case with Denise, she was very clear with me,” Stevenson said. “‘Duncan, I know people will be sad, but I don’t want the day to be a somber one’.”

“‘I want people to hold onto the good memories, to celebrate the incredible life I was fortunate to live and the amazing people who became my dear friends.’”

Yochum started out her career at Big Bend Community College, where she served as the Dean of Arts and Science for six years. From there she became the vice president of instruction at Grays Harbor College for four more years before her path eventually brought her to Pierce College.

Yochum served as Pierce College’s president for 13 years before retiring January of 2019. She pioneered a number of projects on Fort Steilacoom’s campus and was a major contributor to the college’s growing success.

For those who’ve worked with Yochum personally however, the former president was more than just her work. To many faculty, Yochum remains a beloved part of Pierce College’s family.

“I was incredibly blessed to have the privilege of working with Denise,” Stevenson said. “During that time, she became my mentor, my sounding board, and most importantly, one of my best friends.”

As the memorial continued, those who spoke recalled traits Yochum possessed, which solidified her into the leadership role most faculty members knew her for. Mike Kelly, vice president of Grays Harbor College, recalled a few conversations that he’s had with Yochum in the past. “She had a way with words, and [could] talk to people very sophisticatedly,” Kelly said. 

Bill Bounaudi, a retired president at Big Bend Community College, shared his personal feelings of Yochum’s magnetic and strong leadership skills, as well as her willingness to lead. “She came to the rescue, or as we called it – she drew the short straw,” Bounaudi said. “She wasn’t one to be deterred by minor obstacles.”

Bonaudi spoke how Yochum’s personality made it hard for her to go unnoticed. This included a time they were out, which he could hear her laughter from another area. “She was everything,” Bounaudi said. “Typical Denise. You always knew when she was around.”

As the event came to a close, a photo montage played moments of Yochum’s life. Music filled the room once again, and laughter was brought on with one another, some sitting in comfortable silence with their neighbor.

Many speakers at Yochum’s memorial were able to capture a piece of her in their own words. Whether it be from a reflection of themselves or through old memories they shared with Yochum. One voice stuck out the most amongst the crowd came from Phil Yates, the Pierce College Foundation director, officer, and governor.

Yates shared a story to the crowd which resonated with most attendees there. He recalled a time Yochum last visited the campus after retiring in 2019. Yates recalls Yochum being given a handcrafted crown as a gift, which she wore that day.

“I envision Denise now as wearing the golden crown on her head,” Yates said. “I think of her as a gem. One of a kind, irreplaceable; a precious, beautiful gem. The finest jeweler would be hard-pressed to find any flaws in that gem.”

 What was shared that day still carries on in those who knew and loved her. Yochum may have passed on, but the treasured memories and evermore spirit lives on.

Closures and Available Services Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Kotone Ochiai / Staff Photographer

On Mar. 12, Washington State governor Jay Inslee announced the closures of all private and public K-12 schools from Mar. 17 to Apr. 24. This would later extend to colleges and universities the following weekend, as the state continues monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus.

Inslee later announced on Mar. 15 that bars, restaurants, gyms, clubs, and other gathering areas with 50 or more people would be temporarily shut down statewide. As reported by the Seattle Times, Washington leaders wish to avoid any unnecessary interactions over the next two weeks.

Coffee shops, food courts, barber shops, hair salons, youth sports, theaters and bowling alleys will also close come Monday, Mar. 16. “Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and hardware stores will remain open,” the Seattle Times states.

All Pierce College campuses will be restricting social interactions and in-person courses come Tuesday, Mar. 17, and will be moving to a predominantly online instructional environment until Apr. 24.

The campuses themselves will remain open however, as Spring quarter classes will still be available. “Labs, clinics and other on-campus activities can continue if social distancing is imposed, which is defined by the Governor as keeping people at least six feet apart,” the email states.

In a previous email released by Pierce College on Mar. 13, it states that Campus Safety, IT, Facilities, Finances, Center for Global Scholars, and Payroll will remain on campus during these closures. Financial Aid will also continue to be fully available.

Pierce College has made the following updates to what will and will not be available on all campuses:

  • Concerts that were to be streamed are now fully cancelled.
  • Our Barnes and Noble Bookstore is open and enforcing social distancing protocol. They are also providing free shipping for online sales and for returning books at the end of the quarter.
  • Food services will be closed Mar. 17 to Apr. 24. Food is available in the Bookstore and vending machines.
  • The Nourish Food Truck will continue to be available on its regular schedule.
  • The Library and other campus resources will take measures to enforce social distancing.
  • The Northwest Athletic Conference has suspended all spring sports competition until April 13.
  • Human Resource interviews for new employees will be moved to online interviews.​

Any changes to this list will be implemented as soon as it’s available to the Pioneer, as we continue to keep students informed.

Washington State death tolls continue to rise amidst Coronavirus panic

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images / Courtesy Photo
An intensive care unit treating coronavirus patients in a hospital in Wuhan, China, the virus’s epicenter.

On Mar. 8, between 102 – 136 Coronavirus cases have been made in King County, with death tolls being between 16 – 19 and rising. Of the 136 cases reported, 86 of those affected were of the ages of 50 and older. Authorities request that citizens 60 and older, as well as pregnant women, avoid populated places and remain home for their own safety. 

Kiro7 stated, “Sixteen of those who died in King County were residents of Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County. Researchers say the virus may have been circulating undetected for weeks.”

Although there were no confirmed cases in King and Pierce County schools, some have taken safety measures to prevent the spread of germs. Clover Park Technical College took safety measures and have closed down their campus for a deep clean.

Due to being closer to the outbreak, The University of Washington in Seattle cancelled classes until the end of winter quarter. This is to try and prevent those from getting the virus.

“Friday morning, the University of Washington said though its campuses would remain open, classes would no longer be meeting in person starting Monday, Mar. 9 through the end of winter quarter on Mar. 20,” Kiro7 said. “The university’s president said that remote learning will be utilized when possible, but also notified staff that in some cases, they may need to submit grades based on work.”

While Pierce College Fort Steilacoom hasn’t taken those measures, Choi Halladay, vice president of administrations, announced in an email that Pierce is closely monitoring the Coronavirus. “Currently, leadership is working closely with public health officials to keep up to date regarding the virus and potential impacts to the college, and we are developing additional plans to mitigate those impacts,” Halladay stated.

Faculty has existing plans for emergency management specific for responding to a pandemic outbreak. Pierce is providing fact sheets in all languages from the Washington State Department of health for the Coronavirus online on their websites.

The amount of cases coming in for testing has made it harder to detect those with the virus; this makes it important to be aware and take all measures to protect oneself from getting sick. 

Public Health for Seattle & King County states, “If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your healthcare provider. Isolate yourself and wear a mask before leaving the house. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.”

Updated March 13th, 2020 at 2:04pm

As of Mar. 12, Washington State governor Jay Inslee has ordered all private and public K-12 schools to close from Mar. 17 to April 24.

As reported by the Seattle Times, Chris Reykdal, state school’s chief states, “Our [school] systems need to be prepared for a potentially longer closure in the near term, and [without a vaccine] we have to be prepared that this is back in the fall or still with us in the fall.”

In response, Pierce College emailed early morning on Mar. 13 that all campuses will be moving to teaching classes online. 

“As Pierce College moves to limit face-to-face instruction starting Tuesday, Mar. 17, we also need to reduce the number of staff on campus to implement social distancing guidelines, while still providing services to students and opportunities for employees to work,” the email states.

Campus Safety, IT, Facilities, Finances, Center for Global Scholars, and Payroll will remain on campus during these closures. However, students and professors are not required to be on campus during this time.

More updates will be available as the weeks pass.

Coronavirus Update

Pixabay / Pexels / Courtesy Photo

As of Jan. 31, Choi Halladay, vice president of Administrative Services at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, released an email in regards to a new travel warning announced by the United States Department of State. A Level 4 travel warning was released, cautioning all U.S. citizens to not travel to China under any circumstances, as a result of the Coronavirus.

A Level 4 travel warning places a ban on any travel location that it applies to. A Level 4, as described by the Verge, is the most severe warning that can be issued by the Department of State.

According to CNN, all flights from Shanghai to Los Angeles and New York have been cancelled from Feb. 2 to Feb. 10. Throughout the rest of February, flights to San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago, and Honolulu have also been cancelled.

Pierce College is following this travel warning by cancelling a previously scheduled International Programs recruiting trip to China, according to Halladay. Pierce will be coordinating with any exchange students who had plans, were returning to, or were leaving China.

All trips to China are being refunded as soon as possible through most commercial airlines, and trips coordinated through Pierce College. To see the travel warning issued by the United States Department of State, click here. 

Coronavirus – What You Need to Know

Pixabay / Pexels / Courtesy Photo

A new virus has emerged in Wuhan, China and is spreading rapidly. The Coronavirus, a disease most often found in animals such as birds, has been traced to a public seafood market and has infected over 600 people and killed 20 since emerging late December, according to The New York Times.

One individual has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus in the Snohomish County of Washington State, making them the first case in the United States. However, they are currently in good condition as they’re being monitored by doctors.

While much isn’t known about the virus, doctors are currently researching everything they can about it. A cure however, has yet to be announced. 

The fatality rate is currently at 3 percent, with a wide range of mild to severe symptoms similar to pneumonia, such as coughing, fever, and sore throat. As of now, researchers are inferring that it spreads the same way as other respiratory viruses; through coughing and sneezing, according to The Washington Post.

The virus poses the highest risk to those in China, making the likelihood of it becoming severe in the States slim. Even in China, the disease seems to be most negatively affecting people who already had adverse health issues such as respiratory problems, or a weakened immune system, according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, China is taking cautionary measures to limit the spreading of this virus. According to The Verge, all Lunar New Year celebrations have been cancelled in Wuhan, Macau, Zhejiang, and Beijing. Health screening at major airports in the United States and China are being done. In China, all transportation has been cancelled in the city of Wuhan.

The World Health Organization decided that as of now this disease is not a public health emergency, after meeting on Jan. 22. However, the organization is consolidating again on Jan. 29 to reconsider their previous stance, as they hope to re-evaluate how contained the virus is.

Uber and Lyft prices skyrocket after mass shooting in Seattle

freestocks-photos / Pixabay / Courtesy Photo

With a suspect at large and multiple roads closed with no pending date, those hoping to travel to Seattle this weekend may need to reconsider

A mass shooting took place on Third Avenue and Pine Street, in Seattle, Washington, leaving 1 dead and 7 injured, including a 9-year-old boy. The shooting took place around 5 p.m. Wednesday on Jan. 22 after a dispute occurred outside a McDonald’s, according to the Seattle Times. Two suspects – Marquise Latrelle Tolber and William Ray Tolliver – have been identified and remain at large.

Seattle has issued numerous road closures across the city following the shooting, with no official time on when they’ll be uplifted. This has caused a surge in prices for Uber and Lyft users, with some prices reaching beyond $100 for a ten minute drive.

According to GeekWire, people leaving the area post-shooting began reporting the increased prices on Twitter. User Hannah Herber screenshotted her Lyft prices, which were $249.55 just to go north of Seattle. “You bet!” tweeted Hannah. “This is a ride that may be 20-30 minutes and is usually about $35. How is this okay?”

Jason Wiltshire, another user, tweeted his criticism of Uber following the shooting. “Good old Uber, always ready to profit out of a tragedy.”

Lyft has since released a statement to GeekWire, giving condolences for those affected by the shooting. “When we learned what happened, we implemented a cap on prime time pricing, which automatically enabled during periods of high demand,” said Lyft. 

“We plan to reimburse or credit users in the surrounding area who were affected by this increased pricing.” Uber and Lyft prices have slowly begun lowering since releasing a statement, prices currently ranging between $16 to $25 in King County, and $65 to $90 if traveling from Lakewood.

Transportation has been rerouted following the shooting, with SDOT Traffic tweeting an ongoing traffic warning on Jan. 22. “If you can, avoid downtown streets and/or delay your commute if you’re in the downtown district. Seeing high travel times due to multiple street closures in the area for investigations.”

Remembering Denise Yochum

Pierce College Historical Archives / Courtesy Photo

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom mourns the death of Denise Yochum, after a long battle with cancer. On Jan. 13, chancellor Michele Johnson announced the news of the former college president’s passing, which sparked commemorative responses from the community she impacted.

Yochum served as Pierce College’s president for 13 years before retiring last January; she remained an active member of the community even after, Johnson stated in an email. Yochum oversaw the expansion of many projects on Fort Steilacoom’s campus, including making the Science Dome interactive and renovating classrooms and student services spaces.

“Denise’s commitment to student success and her dedicated service to the college was exemplary,” Johnson stated in an email. “She has also been an active and beloved member in the local community, a state leader, and was a shining example of leadership that was grounded in integrity, skill, and courage.”

Not only was Yochum a leader, she was also a friend to many. “Denise’s quick wit has made us laugh, and we appreciated her fun and free flowing ways,” Johnson stated. “Denise’s thoughtful, caring, outgoing personality and sharp mind has endeared her to us now and long into the future.”

For Daniel Dino-Slofer, Pierce College’s media assistant, he admired Yochum’s ability to inspire others. One of his favorite memories of her was when he trained with Student Life in 2015.

“She shared her inspiring experiences with us on how she started her career path that ultimately led her to be the President of the Fort Steilacoom campus,” said Dino-Slofer. “Her story gave us student leaders a lot of encouragement on how far your efforts and goals can take you when you put your mind to it.”

Yochum will be remembered for her leadership and service for the Pierce College community. Yochum is survived by her husband Eric, sons Eric and Kyle, five grandchildren, and a large extended family, Johnson stated in an email. Yochum’s memorial will be held at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. in the Performance Lounge.

Parking Lot Litter

Pierce is a beautiful, tree-lined campus, adjacent to the large, expansive Fort Steilacoom Park, with grassy fields, and walking trails. One thing I’m noticing, however, is litter in our parking lot, in the quad, and around Waughop Lake. I’ve taken a challenge for myself to pick up trash as I head to class, walk in the park, and when I head back to my car at the end of the day. I am unfortunately met with an increasingly noticeable amount of litter, and am hoping you will join me in avoiding littering, and in picking up litter when you see it.

If you have trash you need to get rid of, make sure you dispose of it properly. If you see trash on the ground, take it to the nearest trash can, and recycle bottles and cans. Finally, bringing a reusable water bottle with you to class is a great way to lower your plastic usage. It may not seem like a lot, but taking care of our campus can help Pierce stay beautiful.​

Tips for bad weather

12019 / Pixabay / Courtesy Photo
Trucks in Chicago, Illinois clearing the streets of snow.

Your hands are numb from the freezing cold. You can barely feel your face as the harsh wind cuts across your cheeks as you wait for your car to warm up. As winter approaches, bad weather curses the streets with black ice and racks up electric bills. Here are some tips for how to fight off the cold.

To remove ice from windshields, invest in a de-icer spray or make one by combining two thirds of rubbing alcohol with a third of tap water. Start the car but put the heater on medium, not full blast. As it defrosts, spray the de-icer onto the frozen windshield and let it sit for about a minute before carefully scraping the ice.

Some people buy an ice scraper to scrape away ice as long as it’s used carefully but using a school ID, or a card similar to it, can also work. Do not use metal items to scrape ice. Pouring regular water onto a windshield would also be ineffective as it will only freeze again. One way to reduce ice altogether is to cover it with bedsheets, cardboard, towels, or a tarp overnight.

Once the car is drivable, keep your regular headlights on so other drivers can see you. The lights can help show where black ice is. Black ice is hard to see but tends to be reflective and located on the back roads and bridges.

If you’re brave enough to drive on icy streets, invest in snow chains for your tires. If not, don’t tailgate others and be sure to pump the brakes at a reasonable distance. Sudden movements when braking or turning can be dangerous, so it would be best to avoid that. Slow down when the roads are covered with snow or ice. It’s also important to keep your gas tank filled due to the high usage of gas when the car works to stay warm.

To keep your body warm, wear layers of clothing that are insulated and windproof. Wearing wool is more beneficial during the winter season rather than cotton or denim, which gets wet and cold faster. Keep clothing loose so your circulation doesn’t get cut off. Scarves are also best at protecting your face. 

Carry hand warmers to place into your mittens to trap the heat. For feet, boots are preferable to keep water out, but breathable shoes are not. Toe warmers can be worn with shoes to keep your feet from going numb.

In houses, keep the doors to rooms that aren’t being occupied closed so warm air is not lost through circulation. Cover up the windows at night with curtains or hang a blanket on walls and doors to insulate the heat. Set the temperature to heaters at a medium setting because the higher the temperature, the faster it gets lost to the cold air outside. Space heaters save electricity by focusing heat for the room in use.

There are many other ways to keep warm during the winter season. These are just a few tips to handle the bad weather that may come along.

For information about school emergencies, delays or closure procedures and how to stay up to date, check out this link for more information.

Affirmative Action Rejected

R. Wilfing / Courtesy Photo / Pixabay

Affirmative Action to be denied in Washington State’s November 2019 Elections, reinstating Initiative 200.

During the Washington State elections on November 5, citizens voted against Referendum 88 and the restoration of Affirmative Action – a policy favoring individuals belonging to previously discriminated groups within America. This practice would have allowed for colleges, universities, and businesses to increase opportunities for minority groups by giving them further support.

Previously in April 2019, Washington State legislatures passed Initiative 1000, repealing the ban on Affirmative Action which had been placed 20 years ago. This ban was originally passed by Washington voters in 1998 via I-200; however, recent elections have since reinstated this ban by the people. With its rejection, this leaves the state facing a number of concerns from both sides of the vote.

For Washington State government officials such as April Sims, co-chair of Washington Fairness, Affirmative Action being rejected is disheartening. As reported by NBC News, Sims states how Affirmative Action would have been a great way to level the playing fields for everyone in Washington State. Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, also saw Referendum 88 as a way to address what he referred to as systemic inequalities.

Despite this, not everyone in Washington saw Affirmative Action as a solution to inequality. Shortly after the passing of I-1000, a petition was led by Washington Asians for Equality. This petition was created as an attempt to keep Affirmative Action banned in Washington State by giving the vote back to the people.

“I-1000 can be summed up in one sentence: It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of race, as required by I-200, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races,” states the petition. As such, petitioners felt that this vote should be in the hands of the people.

Those sharing this sentiment see Affirmative Action and Referendum 88 as an attack on equality in Washington State. However, while some feel as though I-200 allows for true equality, certain statistics state otherwise.

According to the Stranger, many legislatures within Washington viewed I-200 as a step backwards for the state when it comes to providing underrepresented groups positions in business. With both women and minorities having less than 4% of the state’s contracting dollars post I-200, this has left Washington state below its established goals.

Javier Valdez, a Seattle representative, believes that I-1000 would have been a fix to I-200. “I-200 was sold 20 years ago as something that would be fair to everyone, and that’s clearly not the case,” he said.

While both sides hold claims still in search of a proper solution, it’s not difficult to see what demographics tend to dominate college campuses, Pierce College included. But whether or not something like Affirmative Action could help with this, or if this is even a problem that needs help, is a question for another time.

Leave a Comment