Pierce Pioneer

In our want to social distance, has ordering delivery actually brought financial strain to restaurant businesses?

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, third-party delivery apps such as Doordash, Grubhub, and Ubereats have seen double the amounts of customers and partnered businesses. Despite the large following these delivery apps have gathered, nobody seems to be on the winning side when it comes to ordering from them. To Irene Jiang of the Business Insider, restaurant owners may be losing money. 

“Diners are seeing their costs raised, either by delivery companies that need to pay delivery drivers or by the restaurant owners who raise prices to offset delivery fees,” Jiang stated. “And delivery drivers still make low, unpredictable wages frequently with no benefits.” 

Delivery services were popular pre-pandemic, but with the loss of dine-in options for many restaurants, delivery has become a way to substitute a loss of business and to help keep restaurants afloat. However, Jiang states that these local businesses are losing a large chunk of their money to pay for these delivery partnerships, approximately 30% in commissions. 

To offset these rates while supporting the community, look for restaurants that offer curbside pickup instead. Curbside pickup gives the restaurant all of the money directly and allows users and the restaurant staff to stay healthy and safe by social-distancing.

For those preferring delivery to takeout, Kerry Breen of Today would encourage checking to see if the restaurant delivers directly. “Third-party sites can charge restaurants a significant amount, meaning that only a small amount of what you’re spending goes to the restaurant you’re trying to support,” Breen stated. 

Delivery drivers are another piece of the food delivery puzzle, with drivers working on low salaries with little to no benefits during the COVID pandemic. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times revealed that while drivers working for food delivery apps can earn as much as $22 per hour, including tips, many drivers say they’ve never earned anywhere close to that much.

Since many delivery drivers are relying on these apps for full time income while their places of employment are closed, it’s important to tip drivers as much as possible when placing an order. An even better way to help out your delivery drivers is to tip in cash, especially with apps like Doordash that use gratuities to provide their workers’ minimum wages. 

The blog  Maid Sailors backs this up by saying when tipping a Dasher in cash, DoorDash has no record of it. “Instead, they see that the driver has not made the minimum guaranteed amount for the order, so they kick in the amount required to meet that minimum,” Maid Sailors stated. 

“On top of that, the driver receives the cash tip that you provided. This increases the driver’s total pay for the delivery without costing you an extra penny. In addition, paying cash makes the Dasher a happier person as they can readily use the money and not have to wait until payday.”

By following some of the examples above – ordering from local deliveries, doing curbside pickup, and paying attention to the pay models of different delivery apps – customers can help our local businesses and delivery workers while not doubling the cost of a single meal.

How The Criminal Justice System Improved 10 Years After Lakewood Police Shooting

Then-Gov. Chris Gregoire leaves the podium after her eulogy for the four slain officers. The service, attended by thousands, was Dec. 8, 2009.

In a Parkland coffee shop on Nov. 29, 2009, Maurice Clemmons opened fire at four Lakewood police officers. They had been working on their laptops around 8 a.m. when the shooting occurred. This moment was before their actual work shift started. The four police officers whose lives were cut short were Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards.

Immediately after the incident, law enforcement went on a huge search for Clemmons. Police officer Benjamin L. Kelly found him hiding in Seattle. Clemmons resisted his arrest, which ultimately led to his death by Officer Kelly.

Clemmons was a violent repeat offender with behavioral issues who was seeking revenge on the criminal justice system. With eight felonies from his teenage years, did the system fail by allowing him to be released into society?

Originally convicted in Arkansas for violent crimes, he was granted permission to move to Washington. His original sentence was 95 years but was lessened by Governor Mike Huckabee to 47 years due to its severity. This made him eligible for parole and he was released in 2000.

Psychologists had deemed Clemmons as dangerous and highly likely to re-offend. At the time, the bail system allowed for defendants to post bail before seeing a judge as long as the bond is approved. This meant they had not looked at his history. Clemmons was released multiple times despite the red flags.

This tragic incident led to certain reforms to Washington State’s Criminal Justice System. Afterward, the Washington Criminal Justice System became more cautious when reducing out-of-state convicts’ sentences. Improvements were made with risk assessment tools to gauge the behaviors of inmates before their release. Many people did not like the idea of criminals from outside of WA potentially committing crimes inside the state.

In memory of the fallen soldiers, the owners of the coffee shop changed their name from Forza Coffee Shop to Blue Steele Coffee Company. The community came together to pay their condolences. A memorial fund was set up to remember the officers. They managed to raise up to $3.2 million by 2012.

In 2009, the Lakewood Police Department also set up a Fallen Officers Food Drive to honor the police officers. The food drive takes place annually near the date the shooting had occurred. The community can donate non-perishable food in support of the Emergency Food Network to the Lakewood Police Department.

The unfortunate incident of losing four beloved Lakewood police officers due to errors in the criminal justice system will not be forgotten. Much effort and reforms to combat the leniency of releasing violent criminals have been addressed since then. According to PoliceOne columnist, Richard Fairburn, police departments cannot always expect the unexpected, but they can train their officers to be more alert in their surroundings.

Unfortunately, Clemmons fell through the cracks because his mental health evaluations were ignored, and he was mistakenly viewed as safe enough to be released from prison. Strict regulations have been put in place to hopefully prevent another incident like at the coffee shop.

Today, Governor Jay Inslee wants to increase public safety by focusing on mental and behavioral issues. Overcrowding populations in prisons has been expensive and inefficient in rehabilitation. He intends to target mental illness and substance abuse as a way to effectively combat overcrowding within correctional facilities. Nearly half of inmates in jails and prisons suffer from a mental illness. By having a system with a stronger focus on treating inmates’ mental health, this reduces pressure from issues inside correctional facilities.

Did the criminal justice system make multiple mistakes in releasing a highly violent re-offender? Yes. It is a hard lesson to be learned. With a stronger focus on mental health and a strict look at inmates’ records before release, there is hope for increased public safety.

Breast Cancer Awareness Event

Jesus Contreras / Staff Photographer
Fully painted awareness pumpkin!

It’s that time of the year. The middle of the first quarter, when midterms are almost upon students, along with Halloween, and everyone could use a chance to unwind and have some fun. 

This is what many students could be found doing on Wednesday afternoon outside the cafeteria, for the Breast Cancer Awareness event. With the room decked out in pink decorations, tables, and music playing, it’s enough to make anyone want to join in. 

Since the first organized event recognizing breast cancer in 1985, awareness has been wide-spread globally, with October now officially being National Breast Cancer Awareness month. 

Michelle Adams, a student who attended the event said, “I think this is fabulous and a great representation of supporting women and their health.” 

There were also many arts and crafts to catch students’ attention at the event. Jaida Noble, a student at Pierce, said, “What drew me to the event was I get to paint pumpkins.” Many students could be found excitedly painting and decorating their own pumpkin, or even getting henna tattoos.  

Another part of the event that drew many people in was all the food available. With muffins and donuts, not many people would want to pass up on stopping by for some snacks in between classes. Kayla Belen, one of the coordinators of this event, and a student at Pierce, stated how this event happened last year as well.

Lots of thought and planning going into each of the student-led activities at Pierce. Belen mentioned how the organization of this particular event has been going on since August. Student leaders work together to do their best at providing valuable opportunities for students to meet new people, while participating in fun activities.

The Breast Cancer Awareness event offered a great opportunity for students to socialize with friends in a fun environment. It also gave everyone a chance to unwind and take a break from the vigor of their classes, while showing awareness for a disease that affects so many women across the globe.


Promoting Peace in Times of Trouble

Veronica Lu / Staff Photographer
Kwabi Amoah-Forson took this sign to prompt conversations about peace.

Peace activist attends local elementary school in hopes of educating children about peace, empathy, love and how they can implement it in their communities.

I say Peace Bus. You say Peace Bus.

That is how peace activist Kwabi Amoah-Forson opened his all school assembly at Lister Elementary. On Oct. 3, Forson spent the whole school day visiting classrooms, connecting with students and spreading the history of his peace movement, the Peace Bus – a bright blue Mitsubishi. 

Many who attended voiced they won’t forget the experience. Laura Sorgenfrei, an instructional coach, said the Peace Bus team just taking time to be there with them was impactful. “Students want peace, they crave it,” said Sorgenfrei. “In our world today, coming together around that common theme was important and powerful for them.”

Michelle Hahn, a second-grade teacher, reflected on her experience with students who struggle to understand other points of view. “Look beyond just the words that are being used, to understand why they’re saying what they’re saying and how their feelings are coming through,” said Hahn.

After graduating from City University with a master’s degree in business, Forson was unsure where his path was leading. He began going to Wrights Park with a poster and boombox playing classical music, as he made conversation with people about peace. After being attacked, he started travelling to surrounding parks and even Europe. “That negative scenario was turned into a positive because it allowed me to get out of that space,” said Forson.

Veronica Lu / Staff Photographer
Students created a poster to thank Forson for attending, putting the word “peace” in puzzle pieces, symbolizing how we all must work together on making peace in our communities.

Forson was inspired by many peace activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and Brian Haw, but most importantly, Abie Nathan. Nathan was an Israeli bomber pilot. He later realized how his violence directly affected people and decided to fly an airplane from Tel Aviv to Cairo as an activist, in promotion of world peace. 

This story inspired Forson to begin taking flight lessons. “The Peace Bus is forever. But I want to have a peace plane and be the first person to circumnavigate the globe in the promotion of world peace,” said Forson.

The Peace Bus team returned in August from a trip down to the United States-Mexico border, after an unexpected experience with the border patrol officers. He described the atmosphere as calm and not chaotic, unlike how the media depicts it to be. “I think it was an intervention from God,” said Forson. “Or some sort of force because how often does border patrol have random people come and let them interview them, let alone stand next to them.”

The assembly ended and students crowded the Peace Bus, asking for autographs and photos. The students weren’t the only people who felt personally impacted by the assembly however. “I walked away with a greater sense of community and a greater sense of hope for generations to come,” said Sorgenfrei.

With his goal of being a peace pilot in mind, Forson has many projects in the works, one being a television show centered around The Peace Bus. In the meantime, he encourages other schools in surrounding communities of any level, to reach out, Lister Elementary being the first school he attended. “I can do this day and night. With any school that’s willing to have a conversation about peace, togetherness and how to communicate with each other.”

The remembrance of Ron Schwartz

Courtesy Photo / Pierce College Archives
A photo of Ron Schwartz in 2012.

On August 8, English and philosophy professor Ron Schwartz passed away after having lived with brain tumors for over 12 months.  Schwartz taught at Fort Steilacoom, Puyallup and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and has been a beloved member of the Pierce community for 16 years.. 

Schwartz was born on January 7, 1955 in Youngstown, Ohio. After being an undergraduate at the University of Chicago in 1978, Schwartz would go to earn his master’s degree and post-masters at King’s College, later receiving  his Ph.D in literature and theology in 1998. 

Schwartz has made himself a part of numerous other communities outside of Pierce College. Prior to teaching at Pierce, he taught theology at Pacific Lutheran University, served as a professor at Colby College, and taught Business admin in California during the 1980s. Schwartz was an economist in Philadelphia for some time.

 Pierce faculty and Pierce students will miss Schwartz. Stephen Jones, an economics professor at Pierce’s Puyallup Campus, personally feels this loss.

“Ron was one of my favorite people at Pierce, which says a lot in and of itself,” said Jones in an email. “I admired his intellect and dedication. I learned much from him that I applied in my classes, and any conversation with him was rich and exceptional in content and insight. But perhaps what I appreciated most about him was his gentleness and compassion. We were lucky to know him.” 

Schwartz was known for his passion of the academics and students. His keen sense of humor and his intellect will be remembered. 

Schwartz’s obituary may be accessed here

The Pioneer sends our condolences with Ron Schwartz’s family and friends.

2017 Solar Eclipse


Carly McErry with wife Jordan McErry:

Carly (took picture of eclipse through 3-D glasses: science has always fascinated me, ever since I was a child. About the picture: I love photography, and am always experimenting. I had an idea about using the glasses to see if it would work.”

Dorothy: I love the stars and am always interested in events like this.

Carly (took picture of eclipse through 3-D glasses: science has always fascinated me, ever since I was a child. About the picture: I love photography, and am always experimenting. I had an idea about using the glasses to see if it would work.”

Dorothy: I love the stars and am always interested in events like this.

Ralph Morasch, Chem Lab Technician: (picture)

Owns the big microscope pictured, it sits on a motorized base. Once is calibrated, it will track the eclipse. The smaller gold one on the right is specialized to view solar flares. Incidentally, the college has purchased two smaller ones for use.

Andrea Macy (behind Morasch) “I am here to teach my children. This a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Andrew Homan, Cubmaster of Pack 148:

because it is an historic event, remembers watching the 1979 when he was much younger. There are 35 boys in his cub scout pack, each one will earn a badge that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) made just for this event.

*note: they are also part of a STEM project. It is designed to encourage boys in engineering and is intended to give them a real-world experience.

“Very thankful for Pierce College putting on this event today, especially thankful for providing the glasses. I am also thankful that this is done for the community.”


Marge Blount, Dorothy with husband Kevin Curry: (picture)

Marge: I’m always interested in science, I even have my own telescope. I didn’t bring it because it is too big.”

Dorothy: I remember the one in 1979. This time I figured I’d like to see it with my husband.”

Bobi Foster-Grahler and Psychology professor Jo Anne Geron remember when the Fort Steilacoom campus had different groups and spaces for the LGBTQ community over the years.

Staff would like to see club’s return, Puyallup campus offers assistance


Foster-Grahler said there used to be educational forums on LGBTQ issues for the staff, which later was available for students. Foster-Grahler and former faculty member Sharon Cramner started the Safe Zone Sticker Project, where some of the faculty and staff would wear symbols indicating that they were safe people for LGBTQ students to approach.

But much of the Gay Straight Alliance clubs didn’t last, Foster-Grahler said.

“I think it's because the students are here for maybe two years and they're just kind of getting their feet on the ground. I think also with the LGBTQ community there's a stigma that is attached to that,” she said. “One of the reasons I really wanted to do the Safe Zone Sticker Project was because students had expressed some pretty blatant hatred against (LQBTQ) at Pierce College. People getting their cars keyed, people being yelled at in classrooms about 'you should die' kind of stuff and faculty not being able to stand up against that. So I think there's that fear factor that can come in.”

Social stigma, a lack of continuous club leadership and the challenges of starting and maintaining a club also have an impact, said Rhiannon Webber, student leader of the Gay Straight Alliance at the Puyallup campus.

“One of the main challenges (of starting the Puyallup campus club) has been that there was no legacy information from any of the previous clubs and that we've had to figure things out as we go, without really knowing if certain things have a chance of success,” she said. “Another challenge has been that there have been major changes to the way that the Office of Student Life at Puyallup interacts with clubs, and how clubs are expected to interact with (Student Life), since this last fall (2016), so both the (Gay Straight Alliance) and (Student Life) are still working to figure out what works best.”

Changes could have a positive benefit.

Foster-Grahler said, “Our student government has changed the rules on clubs. It's not so you have to do these 17 things or we'll kick you out. Now it's like there's four things and ‘Let's just try to keep you going.’”

The need for an alliance is very apparent, Webber said.

"There are definitely LGBTQIAP+ people at the Fort Steilacoom campus who would like a Gay Straight Alliance to form, and there are people at Puyallup who take classes at Fort Steilacoom who would like a similar space there that we have here."

April Spaulding, program director at SafePlace in Olympia, said, "I think finding community is really important, so like surrounding yourself with other people who identify as LGBTQ. I think that's super important, especially because coming out can be a really hard time with families. Sometimes people's families reject them. If you're still living at home, sometimes families kick you out of the house. That's why around 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ...finding community is probably the number one thing to do to kind of create that secondary family."

Educating the Pierce College community on LGBTQ issues is equally important to creating safe spaces, Webber said.  The Puyallup campus has made strides in this department.

“We've been able to spread a lot of information about the LGBTQIAP+ community,” Webber said. “This year, we've had a series of panels wherein student volunteers share their experiences as related to various topics, such as "Gender 101,” common myths and misconceptions, and lesser known identities. After each one, there are people who approach us with more questions and we often hear that people are thankful we explained something they were afraid to ask about.”

Foster-Grahler is an advocate for LGBTQ education on the FS campus.

She said, “I would like to see the college more blatantly insisting on a culture of inclusivity and talking about issues because my belief is, no matter if we talk about it or demonstrate it or show it in the classroom or in the hallways, it's still there. We still have LGBTQ staff, we still have LGBTQ students, community members that come in. It's like people being afraid of talking about Black Lives Matter. So if we don't talk about it, it's still in the room with us. So why don't we have an informed discussion and learn from each other? I think that having a presence of the LGBTQ community helps our community be stronger.”

Webber said she is available to help the Fort Steilacoom community start a Gay Straight Alliance or  LGBTQ club. Contact her for assistance through her email,[email protected].

A Run to Commemorate the Fallen


Pierce College students and their families are invited to participate in this year’s Memorial Day run hosted by Wear Blue: Run to Remember (WBRTR). It is a national nonprofit running community that helps honor the service and sacrifice of the American military. The run takes place in DuPont's Powder-works Park on Monday, May 29 at 9:00 am, and is free of charge. The three courses are between three and twelve miles in length and everyone is welcome to a shared meal afterwards.

Wear Blue’s mission is to make sure every fallen service member is being honored in this year’s run. Visit www.wearblueruntoremember.org to be paired with the name of a service-member who has made the ultimate sacrifice and run in their memory.

This year, approximately 2000 members of the community will unite to pay tribute to fallen service members who have been killed in action. The streets of DuPont,WA, will be flooded by runners. Most will be wearing the trademark blue shirt with the white foot print, and several will be personalized with the names and ranks of the fallen proudly displayed on the back. The streets will be lined with American flags and posters displaying photos of fallen service-members as reminder of the great sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom.

Celebrating Memorial Day for many people isn’t about three day weekends or barbeques but about grieving and paying respects to their friends, families or fellow soldiers who have sacrificed everything for their country.

“Wear Blue brings healing to me and my family. It’s a grieving process,” said Rachel Elizalde, Co-Vice President of WBRTR says as she talked about her experience with the running group.  Her brother, Sgt. First Class Adrian Elizalde, U.S. Army, was killed in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom on Aug. 23, 2007. 

Rachel remembered a promise she made to her brother when they lived together before he deployed, “He asked if we could run in a half-marathon when he got home,” she said. “He was killed in Afghanistan before we were able to run.”

It took Rachel two years before she competed in the Rock and Roll Marathon. During the run she saw a group of runners carrying American flags off in the distance. The sight piqued her curiosity, so she sought out the group and discovered the running group that meets weekly to honor the lives of fallen soldiers. Rachel joined Wear Blue in 2011 and has been devoted to remembering her brother through her weekly runs. “Wear Blue is such a welcoming community and has really inspired me and so many others, anyone can join and I encourage them to do so.”

The running group isn’t just for the runners. It is for the community of people that are touched by their stories every Saturday morning. “I am truly inspired every week when I see a mom and her young daughter stop mid-run at her father’s flag,” says U.S. Navy Veteran Alvin Overacker. He is one of several veterans who joins together every Saturday morning along the Wear Blue route in DuPont. They out water bottles, high-fives and words of encouragement; the veterans have been curbside supporting the runners since 2011 and have never missed a weekend. 

Overacker, 84, served 23 years in the U.S. Navy and another 18 years in civil service and continues to show his dedication to soldiers by showing up every Saturday since 2011 to support the runners. “I’ll continue do be here, as long as my health allows me to do so and I’ll do what I can,” Overacker shared.  He said he finds a sense of belonging at his age and still being able to contribute.  Overacker keeps an informal log of the how many runners, dogs and children pass by, the weather and the date. “Wear Blue is a wonderful tribute to those who have fallen and those who participate.”

Fellow Veteran, Paul Knoop served with the U.S. Army for 29 years and continues to show his support to his fellow soldiers by showing up on Saturday mornings.  “I’ve been coming here since 2011” he said, “It’s a pleasure that we can do it. It helps us by helping them, the runners and helps them remember the fallen and their friends. It’s an honor being here.”

Stories like Elizalde’s are shared every Saturday morning, rain or shine during the Circle of Remembrance, where runners are given the opportunity to talk about who they are running for and to encourage others to push through difficult times. Runners can grieve openly as they share a moment of silence in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The streets become a living memorial as family and friends take to the journey proudly carrying American flags honoring the lives of the fallen and the fighting and their families.


Wear Blue: Run to Remember meets every Saturday at Powderworks Park, 1775 Bobs Hollow Lane, DuPont, WA 98327 at 9:00 am.  There is no cost to join and refreshments are served at no charge. Blue merchandise is available to purchase and the proceeds go to Gold Star families. WBRTR now has chapters across the United States and everyone is welcome. Visit their website for a list of chapters and upcoming sponsored races. www.wearblueruntoremember.org

Lake Waughop Sewage Leak Saga

Plans for tearing out and replacing a faulty sewage line that has been leaking from Pierce College into Lake Waughop are underway. This issue that has caused massive algae blooms, and toxic water for near a decade is finally coming to a solution.

In October 2016 it was discovered that a harmful sewage leak into Fort Steilacoom Park’s Lake Waughop had originated from the Pierce College campus. The sewage leak fed into a rampant algae problem on the lake, killing off wildlife and making the water too toxic to swim or fish. Initially the problem had been reported in 2007, but no connection between the leak and Pierce had been proven until last year. The amount of damage the waiting period has caused is debatable, but any addition to the algae’s growth poses an increased risk to all people and creatures in use of the lake.

Now that the problem has been made clear, the next step to move forward with a cleanup and prevention project has been put in motion. Choi Halladay, President of Administrative Services here at Pierce College, "The connection between the storm water pipe that flows to the lake and the sewage overflow from Pierce has been stopped." He continued to explain that although the issue is temporarily fixed, there would also be a massive over-haul of the entire Pierce College sewer system. This will greatly reduce the possibility of any future contamination.

The large-scale over-haul of the current piping will be reworked and replaced in the up coming months. There will also be a cleanup of Lake Wauhop, but this will not be able to take place until the water level reduces, which is entirely dependent on the weather. Through an emergency fund from the state of Washington and Pierce College reserves this project will total over one million dollars to fix.

There are ways the student and faculty body can reduce our impact on the cloggable sewers in the meantime; refraining from disposing of feminine hygiene products, sanitary wipes, and other inorganic substances into the toilets will reduce the blockage build-up that occurs at the sewage pumps.

Along with these Pierce projects, within the last few months Fort Steilacoom Park has gone through large renovations, making the park more accessible to all people and adding additional amenities. Among these are a new asphalt path around the lake, and a covered viewing platform. Margret Sanchez, a frequent visitor to the lake throughout its many changes said, “The new path has made more and more people show up. I used to be able to walk for an hour and see nobody, now I’m spotting people all the time.”

The increased foot traffic poses new threats; however, if the sewage leak and algae growth persist, and the clean up process is not finished in a timely manner, risk to dogs and children who frequent the lake rises. They do not understand the dangers that are present, and thus may unwittingly play in the toxic water.

The improvements to the Pierce College sewage system and cleanup of the lake may be the first step toward making this beautiful environmental land mark a wonderful public resource for swimming and fishing once again.

Albertson’s ray of Sunshine delights customers with a smile

Cashier attracts flocks of customers with her singing and positivity

Sunshine lives up to her name. She sings as she rings up items, thanks soldiers for their service, and wears the usual headband and smile. Customers are instinctively drawn to this woman’s positivity, but underneath her joyous demeanor is a dedication to communal service.

Elvira M. Root, or Sunshine, has been donating to her family in the Philippines since 1988. She sends approximately $200 a month to her loved ones. Vecause of her donations, she struggles with finances. “I can’t retire. Me and my husband are poor and I send a lot of my money to the Phillipines,” said Sunshine. “Those are my people.” Tearing up a bit at the thought of her family, she began talking about her manager Amy.

“She’s an amazing manager. She’s the kind of person where if you make a mistake, Amy will tell you that ‘no one is perfect.’” In Sunshine’s 18 years at Albertson’s, that had to mean something.

Even though she is full of positivity and cheerfulness, Sunshine has a strict work ethic. “You must always be patient with customers. My mother always told me to treat customers like myself,” said Sunshine. “I never bring my problems to work and I always pray before I start my shift.”

Sunshine knows how unique her attitude is to the retail service, and she embraces it. “I give 125% to customers. I treat children and disabled people as any other customer. I treat everyone with respect and they appreciate my service.”

At home, Sunshine is greeted by her husband of 49 years and her huge family. “I have 28 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 4 children.” Her children, Terry, Kathy, Darryl, and Lonnie are part of a vast Air Force network, following their father’s footsteps.

“We are very involved with the military. I always thank soldiers for their service. I volunteer to donate to the military,” said Sunshine. On July, 4, Sunshine was ecstatic to wear her American flag dress. She received many compliments and even sang the star-spangled banner, one of her favorite songs.

“I love to sing the national anthem, ‘Because of you’ which is a Phillipino song, and ‘Unchained melody,’ it’s a love song that I share with my husband.”

Sunshine’s marriage birthed her pseudo-name. “My husband could not pronounce ‘Elvira’ that well, so he told me that I was now ‘Sunshine’ because that was who I was to him. I was his sunshine.”

“I am nobody,” Sunshine says. But that’s simply not true.

Waughop Restoration



Fort Steilacoom Park has been a long-standing home for the great outdoors, right behind Pierce College. Hosting events from bike marathons to festivals, as well as providing over 7 miles of walking and jogging trails, an off-leash dog park, and a children’s play park, this 340-acre park, "…has been a great escape between classes" says _____, a student a Pierce.

            This year the park is getting refreshing additions and touch-ups to better serve the many people and pups who walk its trails every day. Due to be finished mid-February, the City of Lakewood is repaving the path circling Lake Waughop and building a viewing platform for the lake, while our own volunteers from the Envirnmental Sudies courses and their professors are tackling the invasive flora that drives away the native plants.

            The wide expanse of land has also been a haven to the smaller animals still living within the city. Throughout the park live rabbits, squirrels, ducks, snakes, owls, and the occasional deer passing through. The park is a crucial environmental landmark of the Puget Sound area.

Fort Steilacoom Park has faced several challenges throughout its different stages. The barns that were once in constant use by man and animal became derelict and unused, some already torn down and the others boarded up and left to decay. Many invasive species have started to infest the land; anyone who has visited the parks trails has seen the blackberry bushes consuming the acreage, and the signs warning of toxic algae in the water of Lake Waughop. The algae has made the lake unswimmable and its fish inedible. The path around the water has been in disrepair for an extensive period of time with water flooding over the path in the annual rainy season.

Fort Steilacoom Park has taken on large improvement projects before. Some of these include the removal of the dangerous barns, the creation of multiple Old Western State memorials, the playground, the original paving, the baseball fields, and the picnic tables. All of these previous enhancements have been exceedingly well-built and maintained, and now the city is taking them a step further.

The renovations are already underway, having begun in December 2016. The new pavement for the lake path will improve the accessibility for strollers and wheelchairs, while the viewing platform will allow for a beautiful overlook on the water. This work is running the City of Lakewood The renovations have been long-awaited and will improve the overall usefulness of the entire park, making it enjoyable to more people and dogs alike.

Pierce is in a Crappy Situation

The source of sewage leak into Waughop Lake is found and linked right here.

Pierce College has been recently fined for a number of safety discrepancies, and as of January 2017 has been found to be the source of a sewage leak to Waughop Lake behind campus. The sewage that was originally spotted by a pedestrian back in November has drawn the attention of the Health Department, the City of Lakewood, and the Washington State Department of Ecology. Xandir Kleppen, a student at Pierce College made sightings in the lake, “I’ve seen tampons floating in the water out there.”

                  The testing for the validity of the claims of sewage originating on campus began in November 2016; they were conducted as dye tests. These are performed by dyeing water in manholes on campus with green dye and watching for spillage out of the drain, in the lake. At first, the tests came back negative, showing none of the green-dyed water flowing from the pipe that leads into Pierce College. Later, however, more thorough tests were conducted during times of sewage over-flow that proved, under certain conditions, the sewage from Pierce College could and had entered Lake Waughop.

These leaks occur for two reasons: heavy flooding of the campus storm drains, and the two sewage pumps installed to protect these storm drains failure. The failure of these pumps is likely caused by the flushing of certain wipes and other toiletries; even ones labeled flushable. When these pumps back-up, producing overflow, the extra sewage material travels to the next possible place; the storm drains. Brian Benedetti, the Director of Marketing for Pierce College, has said, “There’s a cross between the storm and sewage system.” This cross creates the passage for the overflow to head right for the lake. This flaw was a part of the sewage system designs in 1971, before a lot of major environmental protection laws had been passed.

These recent tests were not the first to be conducted about this same issue here at Pierce. In 2008 similar sightings were brought to the colleges attention, but as the tests this year had initially concluded, they assumed the leak had not been from those pipes.

The leak not only causes harm to the lakes wildlife, it also presents a major issue for the college; Pierce College is in violation of Washington State law. According to RCW (Revised Codes of Washington) 90.48 it is illegal, “…to throw, drain, run, or otherwise discharge into any of the waters of this state… any organic or inorganic matter that shall cause or tend to cause pollution of such waters.” The RCW continues on to say that if, “…found guilty of willfully violating any of the provisions of this chapter or chapter… upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of up to ten thousand dollars…” This entails that if the school does not actively attend promptly to this problem they could face up to a $10,000 fine per day of persisting negligence.

Plans to fix the leak are already in the works. Jim Taylor, Director of Facilities and Construction Manager, has said the school is, “…taking this very seriously and taking aggressive action.” Contractors are soon to be hired to dig up and cap off the cross point of the two pipe systems, and designs for a new, more capable pump system are being drawn up. Along with these long-term solutions, work with the City of Lakewood has already begun to remove the debris from the lake, as of mid-January 2017.

The costs for this project are exorbitant. According to Choi Halladay, Pierce Colleges Vice President of Administrative Services, the costs with testing and the temporary cap off have racked up a $40,000 bill and the rest of the new build is expected to amount anywhere between $500,000 and $1,000,000 on top of that. When all is said and done, the costs and temporary construction blockades are all going to be worth it, to keep the poop in the pipes.

Leave a Comment