Redecker: Some news stories help improve residents’ lives

jredecker@theolympian.comMay 4, 2014 

I got the best kind of phone call Friday afternoon. It went something like this:

“Thank you for the story today. If your paper hadn’t written that, I would never have known about it. My friends and I have all been talking about it.”

You are very welcome. It’s why we come to work every day, including holidays and weekends. Telling readers about what is happening in our community is our job. And, we hope the stories not only inform, but help you make decisions that make life easier.

Here are some recent examples that I think fit that bill.

 • Olympia city reporter Andy Hobbs found that two Olympia men had led a two-year effort to change tax law for parents who provide home-based care for their children.

After we published the story, other parents in similar positions became aware of the tax break and were able to apply retroactively.

One was Yelm resident Laurie Armendarez, who received an extra $5,600 on her tax returns — including $1,700 from 2010. Her 25-year-old daughter, Javincia, requires round-the-clock care because of physical and developmental disabilities.

 • Columnist John Dodge took a look at the history of the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program. Dodge found the family who posed for the first advertisements — a family whose son is now entering college and using those credits to pay for his education. Dodge also told of his own story. He bought into the program early and his children have reaped the benefits.

Those are real-world examples of a program that is available to everyone. The time to start saving for your child’s college education is at birth.

 • When a two-lane bridge on Littlerock Road was closed for structural deficiencies, residences and businesses had to cope with a detour. For the drivers of the 6,000 vehicles a day that crossed that bridge, the closure had major effects. One Littlerock Road business had to lay off employees because business fell so steeply.

We wrote about the bridge, the residents and the businesses. A few days later, the county and the state worked out an agreement to install a temporary bridge. We won’t take credit for the temporary bridge, but we did our job — telling people what was happening in their neighborhood.

The replacement bridge has to be built during a narrow window when it is safe for the salmon that use the creek. But, here’s some more good news: the county hopes to keep one lane open during most of the construction.

In today’s paper, you’ll find stories that bring different parts of the community and its history to life. Read about the 10-year history of Griswold’s, the business in downtown Olympia that fire destroyed 10 years ago. Take a tour of Thurston County’s distinctive prairie habitat and the checkerspot butterfly. Or, find out the newest development at the artesian well park.

Thanks for reading.

Jerre Redecker is senior editor of The Olympian. Contact her at 360-754-5422 or

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