Pierce Pioneer

Pierce County enters phase 1 for a new trail in Tacoma

A breath of fresh air is being given to nearby residents of Tacoma and South Hill, with a newly planned trail being headed by Trails Coordinator Brianne Blackburn. Designs have been completed for the current pipeline trail in Tacoma to be extended to reach South Hill, with projections to start construction in 2022.

The Pierce County website stated their intent for the trail is to provide residents with expanded non-motorized commuting and recreational opportunities, while supporting healthy, active living.

“The long-term connection has long been a vision of Regional Trail advocates with the “Tahoma to Tacoma” vision connecting communities from Commencement Bay to Mt. Rainier National Park,” Pierce County website stated.

Pierce County’s pipeline trail will be a paved trail running along the Tacoma water pipeline between 72nd St E and 94th Ave E. This will connect Chapman Memorial Trail in South Hill with the newly constructed trail in Tacoma.

The project schedule started with analysis in Nov. 2019, and will have 3 public meetings in between the process being held as virtual open houses on the Pierce County website due to COVID-19 restrictions. The plan for the trail is currently in Phase 1, which will construct 1.6 miles from 72nd St E and Waller Rd E through Orangegate Park.

A grant application has been submitted for Phase 1 funding and the project is seeking $2.2 million from state or federal aid. All future phases will be planned as resources are available.

In the meantime, residents have opportunities for input and to receive updates on the project by signing up for email updates.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes new Vice President

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes its new Vice President of Learning and Student Success, Dr. Ilder Andres Betancourt Lopez, following an email announcement from PCFS’s President Julie White on June 3. Lopez is expected to join our Pierce community come August 2, 2021.

“[Lopez] brings a wealth of expertise to our work to create an anti-racist institution, in order to fulfill our mission at Pierce College: to provide quality educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world,” White stated.

White further shares in an email announcement a biography provided by Lopez himself, which gives more insight into our new vice president. From his biography, it states that Lopez grew up in an impoverished area in Los Angeles, being born from undocumented, Latino immigrants.

“When Ilder entered Stanford University, he felt blessed but he also wondered how to best maximize the privilege,” White stated. “A career in the community colleges became the obvious answer. It was and still is the nexus of opportunity for many of his family members and peers.

“Throughout his career, Ilder applies an equity and social justice lens to all his leadership decisions. Ilder believes it is not our students that need to change but the institution that can change to better address the issues faced by our students. He has devoted his career working at the community college to fulfill this philosophy.”

Lopez is currently the Dean of Science at Bellevue College, where he has developed and overseen their division’s efforts to provide learning opportunities during the COVID pandemic. Some of Lopez’s work also includes providing culturally responsive teaching and services training to all employees through a partnership with Bellevue College and the national Puente Project.

Pierce College looks forward to welcoming its new vice president with open arms. In due time, students and staff alike will be able to get to know Lopez more personally as he becomes a part of the Pierce community.

Professor Alan Kemp Retiring in 2020

The sociology professor reflects back on his three decades at Pierce.

After thirty years of teaching, sociology professor Alan Kemp will be retiring after this school year. Kemp says that his experience at Pierce has for the most part been wonderful, and he is very grateful to have held this position. “I don’t think there’s been a day that goes by when I haven’t appreciated what a really great job I have,” he said.

Kemp will not be teaching any classes next summer, and will officially retire on Sept. 11. As of now, he has not made any plans for retirement. However, he expects to be keeping pretty busy working on his property.

Before Pierce, most of Kemp’s career was in social service or mental health. He worked as a mental health professional at Good Samaritan Hospital. He then worked as a mental health provider at McChord Air Force base, as part of the Family Advocacy Program. He worked with families of military personnel, including people who had experienced neglect or abuse in the military system.

Kemp’s love of both learning and instructing is what brought him to teaching. “It’s pretty cool to see lightbulbs go off from time to time,” he said. “People make discoveries and make connections to understand things better than they did before. It’s really a privilege to be part of that process.” 

Kemp also says that it is inspiring to see students who have to overcome hardships to pursue an education, finding whatever it is they need to pull it off. One thing he’ll miss after retiring is interacting with students in the classroom, whether it be teaching, talking, joking, or occasionally being outrageous.

New Year’s resolutions

2018 illustration
Beatrix Cendana/Contributing Illustration

The new year is close, and plans for the day involve gathering with family and having quality time or just staying home to write resolutions.  New Year’s Day is traditionally time to reevaluate what we have gotten through and accomplished in the previous year. Some people write in their diary and write down resolutions for the new chapter.

It is good to have resolutions, even just one, as it could impact your life in the future. Here are some suggestions for writing down resolutions with passion and a promise to pursue them in the next year.

First, don’t regret or worry about what is in the past because there are still chances to change it in the year ahead. As long as the focus is to keep one’s word to fulfill tasks or goals, it should be good. Some people always feel that they are disappointed because haven’t finished all the things that were decided the year before.

Second, don’t forget to notice the small things that you have accomplished. All things happen from one small thing. Think about it for moment, find some quiet place to do this and take notes if necessary.

Third, we should be willing to change—and that starts from inside the heart. Showing an intention to change is halfway there to accomplish the resolution. For me, time management means commitment and trust in myself. If I have both, I can finish the job in the best time and can enjoy my life freely.

Finally, list all of your resolutions in your notes or diary. You should prioritize which one is the most important and sort them into steps. Remember to put a deadline next to your resolution. If you are still not sure about when to set the deadline, you could leave it and rethink about that.

But when New Year’s comes, you need to write down the deadline following your resolution. Review the notes and read and upgrade it from time to time.

Going over the checklist after you complete your resolutions is helpful by marking what you have completed and continuing to the next part.

Keep in mind that all you need is to believe that finishing well does not always have to mean perfect.

Revel in the spark that comes once a year

The small moments create lasting memories

I was looking out the window when I saw it start to snow. That was when I realized it is almost the end of the year.

When the new year coming, I don’t think about the excitement and readiness for a brand-new year or a some new party like in “High School Musical.” Instead, it is all about the fireworks that people light off every year.

I remember how adamantly I loved watching the fireworks when I was young. Always on New Year’s Eve, I never went to sleep, even when my mom shouted at me. One way or another, I often snuck by my mom to go to the balcony to watch the fireworks shows. Even though she had forbidden me to, I would stubbornly sit on the rooftop with my legs swinging down to the ceiling.

It was — and is — the best once-a-year cinema I ever experienced. When the fireworks were shot into the sky, I could not see anything for three or four seconds until they began to beautifully and gorgeously bloom into a sky bouquet. Those few seconds were like a century for a kid like me. Even now, I always appreciated that those three or four seconds are worth waiting for so I can fully enjoy the fireworks. They are something that complete my childhood and myself.


"Without the sparks,
fireworks are no longer themselves.
Without those moments,
life is nothing but dull repetition."


This year is the 18th New Year’s fireworks that I will watch.

I was and still am surprised that time can actually fly. People say it all the time, but little do they know that it could easily slip through their palms.

In life, we tend to skip by such normal things that are supposed to be repeated over and over again. We think that having a family dinner is normal, showing love to our loved ones is normal, receiving a tap on shoulder or a hug is normal. People do not often appreciate normal things.

I believe life is like the fireworks. Every single spark — none of them is alike and each has its place —  together creating magnificence in the dark sky. It is the same as the small, normal things can create one’s life. Without the sparks, fireworks are no longer themselves. Without those moments, life is nothing but dull repetition. Such ordinary things are priceless details for one’s life memoir.

Life never skips anyone, it is your choice to skip or not to skip when such moments come. Appreciate every moment, your time — and life.

Leave a Comment