Borden has been a blessing

Thumbs up - Terry Borden

Terry Borden will retire as Tumwater School District superintendent at the end of the 2009-10 school year. Borden, who will soon turn 65, has had a stellar, 42-year career in education – as a teacher, principal, district administrator and for the past five years as the Tumwater’s superintendent. “I find great pride in all of our students’ achievements,” Borden said, in announcing his retirement plans. “These accomplishments are the result of our caring, competent staff, parents, school board members and our community – working together to benefit young people. We have a great staff. I value their expertise and professionalism. I am truly honored that I was able to serve as the district’s fifth superintendent.” It speaks volumes about Borden’s character when the head of the Tumwater teacher’s union, Terry VanMeter, says Borden is his role model. “He’s very honest,” VanMeter said. “We may not always agree, but he tells you the truth. And he’s a superintendent who believes in letting people speak their mind,” VanMeter said. Students, parents and the entire Tumwater community are fortunate to have had Borden’s steady hand at the helm for the last five years. He’s a man of integrity, honesty and vision who always put the needs of students first.

Thumbs down - Recruiters

The Sequim City Council got caught off guard when hiring a new city manager. The council had decided to offer the job to Vernon Stoner, former chief deputy in the state Insurance Commissioner’s Office and former city manager in Lacey. The second thoughts came when a reporter for the Peninsula Daily News disclosed that Stoner was fired from his Insurance Commissioner job after a sexual harassment complaint was logged against him. Stoner has maintained his innocence. The state paid $50,000 to one of Stoner’s former office colleagues to settle the issue. Stoner has said he knew nothing of the claim nor the settlement. One has to ask whether the city of Sequim got its money’s worth for the $20,000 it paid to a Seattle recruiter to do the job search. How thorough were the recruiters who screened the applicants if they missed the reason for Stoner’s departure from the Insurance Commissioner’s post? Stoner, 61, is suing the state in Thurston County Superior Court, contending that age or race discrimination played a role in his firing. He seeks damages of up to $20 million. Meanwhile the Sequim City Council is considering the other two finalists for the job who – not surprisingly – are being put through a deeper-than-normal background check.

Thumbs up - Day of Caring

United Way of Thurston County celebrated its 17th annual Day of Caring a week ago with more than 600 volunteers working on 48 different community projects. In collaboration with the Volunteer Center of Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties and The Evergreen State College, the sponsors matched volunteers with community service projects at local nonprofit and community organizations. Given the state of the economy and increased demand for services, many nonprofits are overwhelmed making sure residents have enough to eat, a place to sleep and the social services they need to be successful. Nonprofits don’t have time to paint the walls or do the landscaping or any number of other projects that get set on the back burner to deal directly with clients. That’s why the Day of Caring is such a success. Volunteers do the hard labor and at the same time gain an appreciation for the incredible resources available in the South Sound community. “We really wanted to develop a portfolio of volunteer opportunities for this year’s Day of Caring,” said Sara Ballard, executive director of the Volunteer Center. “It’s important for people to see that they can help in a variety of ways. We worked hand in hand with businesses and community organizations to create unique projects for this year’s event.”

Thumbs up - AIDS Walk

Thurston County’s 19th Annual AIDS Walk was a tremendous success, both in terms of raising money for the United Communities AIDS Network (UCAN) and spreading public awareness about the disease. Dozens of people descended on downtown Olympia’s Sylvester Park last Saturday for a time of reflection and celebration of life for those who are living with the HIV virus. The walk included a loop around Capitol Lake. Charles Loosen, the executive director of UCAN, said that over the years national media coverage of HIV has waned. But the number of people living with HIV is growing. There are about 1.4 million people with HIV in the United States, including 170 known individuals in Thurston County. While seeing an increase in the number of people infected by the HIV virus, the amount of money the government spends on fighting HIV and AIDS hasn’t increased. “We have more needs but fewer resources,” Loosen said. Saturday’s AIDS Walk drove home the message that while HIV and AIDS may have disappeared from front pages of the nation’s newspapers, people are still contracting HIV and dying of AIDS. While medical advances certainly have been made, and people are living longer, the keys for combating HIV/AIDS are education, prevention and tolerance. The $22,000 raised by the walk organizers will go a long way in spreading that message and providing direct services to those with the disease.