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January 27, 2015 at 11:18am

Free Department of Homeland Security Certified Course

In the event of a school-based emergency or crisis, preparedness, effectiveness and fast action are critical. For schools in rural areas, these concepts take on even more importance due to geographic location and other important factors.

However, with appropriate readiness, training and key partnerships, school administrators, rural law enforcement and other emergency responders will be at the ready to react and manage the emergency situation at hand.

The Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC), which is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Training and Education Division (NTED), partnership of academic institutions, is bringing an instructor-led, Department of Homeland Security-Certified Course to our region for just this very purpose.

The course, AWR 148 Crisis Management for School-Based Incidents: Partnering Rural Law Enforcement and the Local School Systems, will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Gig Harbor Civic Center Training Room, 3510 Grandview St., Gig Harbor. This course will provide participants a groundwork of knowledge and skills to establish a school-based emergency response plan along with a crisis management team. Key learning and skill building will be accomplished through information sharing and training.

In addition to school administrators, other stakeholders, such as those who work in the fields of emergency management, emergency medical services, fire services, governmental administrative, law enforcement, public safety communications and public works are also encouraged to join and attend this course.

In order to participate and attend this class, registration is required. Convenient online registration is available here. All interested parties must be registered by the registration deadline date at 5 p.m. Feb. 6.

There is no charge to attend the course.

The mission and vision of the RDPC is to create an environment where rural communities across America will have the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to enhance the safety, security and quality of life for their citizens.

The RDPC also provides a robust selection of self-paced online training programs, resources, helpful links and much more.

To learn more about the RDPC organization and for more information about their educational and informational offerings or to request training, visit them at www.ruraltraining.org or contact The Center for Rural Development at 606.677.6000.

Filed under: Schools, Gig Harbor,

November 20, 2014 at 12:26pm

AUSA and PLU to host JBLM soldiers for Thanksgiving dinner

PLU will host 120 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord for a Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 26. Photo credit: John Froschauer/PLU

The traditions of military Thanksgiving dinners were borne out of necessity. In earlier times when travel options were limited and the continuation of training took precedent over time off, most servicemembers remained on duty during the holidays.
With times of war and overseas duty as exceptions, most military members today are afforded the opportunity to travel home for the holiday and gladly oblige. Still, some are required to work, and some choose to remain at installations for various reasons. Those who do are the objects of a longstanding and rich military tradition.

The Association of the United States Army and Pacific Lutheran University would like to honor and thank those troops celebrating Thanksgiving in the South Sound. The university based in Tacoma's Parkland neighborhood will host 120 Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers for Thanksgiving dinner at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26. AUSA will pay for the meals.

Here's what PLU has to say in regards to the special dinner. ...

Read more...

November 10, 2014 at 11:17am

Staff Sgt. Matthew Roth receives America's Service Heroes Scholarship from Saint Martin's University

Staff Sgt. Matthew Roth received some extra spotlight action during the Saint Martin's University's Gala 2014 Nov. 1. Roth, a SMU senior from San Diego, California, was honored for being the University's sixth recipient of its America's Service Heroes Scholarship.

The folks at SMU have more details. ...

Read more...

September 29, 2014 at 1:25pm

Military veterans receive Brandman University scholarships named after former sailor

Darcy Bockman-Wright

A Madigan Army Medical Center employee has received a military veteran scholarship from Brandman University. In honor of graduate Bryan Fazio, Brandman University has awarded four $1,000 scholarships, and 11 $250 scholarships to military veterans who have a medical condition or disability and currently attend the school.

The Bryan Fazio Scholarship was recently established to honor the perseverance and triumph of one of Brandman's most inspirational graduates. Fazio was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Hodgkin's lymphoma while serving in the Navy. Doctors told him that he had just nine months to live, yet, upon hearing the news, Fazio doubled up on his graduate level courses and received his MBA in August 2013. He is currently attending Law School at Whittier College.  

Darcy Bockman-Wright, a veteran who attends class at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord campus, was one of those chosen to receive the inaugural $1,000 scholarship. She joined the Army in 1993, serving until 2002 in a variety of MOS fields, including an eye specialist, a combat medic and a truck driver.

"I am still in shock that I was the only Washington Brandman University student chosen," she said. "The belief that they have in me has helped me re-focus and stay dedicated. I am honored to be the first to receive such an award, especially as a fifth-generation veteran." 

The winners were chosen after each applicant submitted a 500-1000 word essay detailing where they see themselves in five years and how their Brandman education will help them achieve their goals.

Bockman-Wright, who currently works as a civilian in the Ophthalmology department at Madigan Army Medical Center, is working towards her bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership and is slated to graduate in spring of 2015.

"Once I reach my goal, I will do as Mr. Fazio has and pass it on. Veterans have enough to deal with from doctor appointments, families, bills, work or everyday life," explained Bockman-Wright, who has personally lost 170 pounds with the help of gastric bypass surgery, a desire to be healthy and the support of her husband and children.

"The money helps of course, so I will take this gift but in the future I want to help ease the financial burden of a fellow veteran to make sure he/she achieves their goal of graduating," she shared.

That dramatic weight loss gave the older student more confidence and the drive to finish her college degree ... not that her dreams end there.

"I don't think I'll stop at my Bachelor's degree. Long-term, I know I can finish my Master's in Organizational Leadership too. I want to be a leader on base, whether it's at Madigan, the VA or a unit attached to JBLM," Bockman-Wright said. "I hope to use this degree to help institute a better organizational process for veterans to receive the aid they deserve."

Brandman University, which serves 12,000 students annually, offers more then 50 undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs across its schools of arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health. For more information, go to www.Brandman.edu.

August 19, 2014 at 1:07pm

Terrorizing Rabbits: Washington National Guard trains for newest biological threat at Fircrest school

The simulated attack began at 7:35 a.m. when the fire alarm system at Wainwright Elementary School in Fircrest was activated. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The two soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard crinkled in their black hazardous materials suits as they walked through the darkened and deserted elementary school.

Movements were constricted; communication muffled.

Condensation streaked their masks reducing visibility.

At times, tempers got short.

After two hours of searching, the soldiers emerged from the building and headed back to their command post.

They had not found the bioweapon.

The simulated attack began at 7:35 a.m. when the fire alarm system at Wainwright Elementary School in Fircrest was activated.

Approximately 300 faculty and students exited the building and moved to areas of accountability. While in these areas, the school's sprinkler system inexplicably activated, drenching everyone.

When the school's janitor turned the sprinklers off, he noticed that someone had put a timer on the system with a hose running out of the shed and attached to one of the sprinklers.

Then things got worse.

At 7:45 a.m., multiple news agencies received an email from an unknown person or agency claiming credit for the biological attack on Wainwright.

The terrorist(s) claimed that the food and water at the school had been targeted and that the sprinkler system had been activated to spray students and faculty with a biological weapon of mass destruction.

The message ended by saying there would be more attacks.

"A biological attack is the toughest to deal with; you have to first find out what it is before you can deal with it," commented Maj. Jim Jack, the deputy commander of the Washington National Guard's 10th Civil Support Team.

"And in this scenario the terrorists have used a weapon that may be the next big bioweapon."

The news agencies contacted the police and fire departments. Both arrived on scene.

Fire personnel determined the fire alarm had been manually activated and began to investigate the report of the use of a bioweapon. In short order, decontamination assets were requested.

So too are the FBI, the Departments of Health and Ecology and the Washington National Guard's Civil Support Team, or CST.

The unit supports civil authorities at domestic incident sites involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives (CBRNE).

The team provides identification and assessment of hazards, advice to civil authorities and facilitates the arrival of follow-on military forces during emergencies and incidents of weapons of mass destruction terrorism.

>>> A member of North Dakota's National Guard's 81st Civil Support Team monitors for a chemical, radiological or biological element during a training exercise. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Joining the 10th CST at Wainwright Elementary Aug. 18 in Fircrest for this simulated multi-CST exercise were soldiers assigned to the 81st CST from North Dakota, the 82nd CST from South Dakota and the 102nd CST from Oregon.

After setting up an operations center, the CSTs comprised of about 80 soldiers quickly began to eliminate the known variables in an attempt to zero in on the biological agent.

>>> Water was the source of the attack, and soldiers from the North Dakota's 81st Civil Support Team search a kitchen sink. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The students and faculty were run through a decontamination process and found to be safe.  Parents were notified and assured that their children were not contaminated.

School officials were questioned about who had been in and out of the school over the past several weeks.

One item of interest that emerged was that about 30 students had been sick before the attack, and it was noted that the students came from certain areas of the school.

In each area there was a water source.

With instructions that a biological dispersal device had been used that may involve water, CSTs from North Dakota's 81st CST and Oregon's 102nd CST suited up.

The soldiers searched the exterior and interior of the school.  They moved deliberately; they used equipment to measure for radiation and gas; they took hundreds of pictures.

What they didn't know was what exactly the bioweapon was and how it had been dispersed.  All they knew is that water played a role.

The weapon brings to mind an image of a bunny rabbit.

Tularemia, sometimes referred to as rabbit fever, was the weapon.  It can be transferred through physical contact, the air or through water sources.

If untreated, the disease results in death.

>>> Working in the hot and muffled world of a hazardous material suit led to the build-up of sweat and condensation. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

In a recently published report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that tularemia has been used as a bioweapon in other countries.

"Despite its importance for both public health and biodefense," said Geoffrey Feld at the most recent annual Biophysical Society Meeting, "tularensis pathogenesis isn't entirely understood, nor do we fully understand how the organism persists in the environment.

As the soldiers from the 81st CST began their search through the school, they focused on drinking foundations, sinks and other water sources.

The dispersal systems - a water foundation, a spray bottle and a sink in a classroom - were in the open.

Like a plastic spray bottle.

"The weapon is in the water; the spray bottle is used to clean the tables where the children sit to eat their breakfast; that's how the children become infected," pointed out Lt. Col. Scott Humphrey, the 10th CST's commander.

For the better part of two hours they searched the school's kitchen, classrooms and gymnasium.

Much, much later they found the dispersal systems.

"How operations are conducted can vary from state to state," continued Humphrey.

"The week long training we are involved in gives us the chance to train each other while challenging our skill sets. We only get better."

August 4, 2014 at 7:48am

Monday Morning Joe: World without just wars, China's satellite killers, Army drawdown, female Ghostbusters ...

The 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) throw coffee pots during live training at a Drawsko-Pomorskie training area. Original photo by Spc. Lisa Vines, 382nd Public Affairs Detachment

GRAB A COFFEE POT AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 8.4.14 >>>

Two wars - one in Gaza the other in eastern Ukraine - are unfolding simultaneously. They have nothing in common except this: both should be being seen as unambiguous in terms of which side is right and which wrong.

Five government soldiers were killed and 15 wounded over the last 24 hours in fighting in eastern Ukraine where Kiev forces recaptured an important railway hub from pro-Russian rebels.

A United States reconnaissance plane recently crossed into Swedish airspace to avoid being intercepted by Russian fighter jets.

U.S. defense experts and the U.S. State Department are describing China's successful so-called "anti-missile test" as another anti-satellite test raising fears the U.S. will be unable to protect its spy, navigation and communications satellites.

Amid mounting casualties and mutual recriminations over the sixth failed ceasefire in their ongoing war, Israel and Hamas continued late last week to battle on parallel fronts: under the sands of Gaza and in the court of public opinion.

Israeli intelligence agents eavesdropped on Secretary of State John Kerry during the peak of peace negotiations he led between Israel and the Palestinians last year.

Palestinians and Israel accused each other of breaking a seven-hour ceasefire intended to allow humanitarian aid into the battered Gaza Strip soon after it came into force.

Russian sanctions: India defiant, Finland nervous.

Iran's elite Guards fighting in Iraq to push back Islamic State.

Special report: The doubt at the heart of Iraq's Sunni "revolution."

Army preparing for steep drawdown, losing patience with Congress.

Joint trauma system vital link to saving lives.

When the military's top cyberwarriors gathered last year inside a secretive compound at Fort Meade, Maryland, for a classified war game exercise, a team of active-duty troops faced off against several teams of reservists. And the active-duty team apparently took a beating.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John F. Campbell stresses relationships, upcoming ISAF Tour.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III: The Army Ethic is the "doorway" into our profession.

Air Force Academy athletes, including football players, participated in wild off-campus parties featuring booze, marijuana, and date-rape drugs, according to an investigative report.

Former Army officer Capt. Kevin Ryan who has launched microbrewery Georgia-based Service Brewing Co. knows everyone will raise a glass to help support a veteran-owned business that gives a portion of its proceeds to charities backing military members, policemen and firefighters.

The New York Times has a piece about folks who dress up as characters in Times Square.

Jack White's Lazaretto is the best-selling vinyl release in 20 years.

Dave Grohl's HBO show premieres in October.

Paul Feig's female-centric Ghostbusters reboot.

William Shatner and NASA had an amusing Twitter exchange.

His generation's Dick Van Dyke.

LINK: Original photo by Spc. Lisa Vines, 382nd Public Affairs Detachment

June 27, 2014 at 7:13am

5 Things To Do Today: Taste of Tacoma, Pride Film Festival, Downtown Music Crawl, Experimental Music Fest ...

Taste Cooks and funny hats return to the Taste of Tacoma today through Sunday at Point Defiance Park. Photo courtesy of Facebook

FRIDAY, JUNE 27 2014 >>>

1. It would be hard to determine what Tacoma tastes like. For starters, where would one sample the soil most indicative of the City of Destiny? Commerce Street? Or would the most-telling turf be found at higher elevations such as Hilltop? And what would that flavor be like? You can be sure the topsoil would smack of scandal - but it would probably also taste a bit like Pacific Brewing Co. Deeper down, there would be traces of salty prospector tang. Then, there'd be all that fossilized dinosaur crap to contend with. When you think about it, Tacoma would probably taste pretty disgusting. Fortunately, the good people at Taste of Tacoma do the thinking for us, presenting a more palatable annual survey of the city's best cuisine from 11 a.m. today through at 8 p.m. Sunday at Point Defiance Park. The Taste of Tacoma hosts 29 restaurants, 17 food product booths, six entertainment stages, comedy club, beer and wine gardens, wine tasting, carnival, more than 50 hand-crafted artisan booths, the poplar culinary demonstration stage and more.

2. Early summer in the South Sound means changing warmer weather, adding a boa and checking out the pride festivals. In conjunction with Olympia Capital City Pride event last weekend, the Olympia Film Society presents the 2014 Pride Film Festival, opening today at the Capitol Theater. At 6:30 p.m. PAS and To Be Takei will screen as well as other festivities.

3. Tonight will see round two of the confluence between small businesses and indie music performances in a moment of synergy that won't rub you the wrong way. Dubbed the Downtown Music Crawl, the event will feature three downtown businesses showcasing three brief, consecutive concerts. Starting with the Wheelies at 6:30 p.m. in Bleach, moving on to Novel Nature at urbanXchange, and ending at 9 p.m. with The Cloves in Anthem, the event is designed to reward those who do the crawl and hit all three stores. If you attend all three concerts, you'll receive 15 percent off at each store.

4. Olympia has maintained its status as a hub of musical experimentation. It should come as no surprise that they hold the premier South Sound festival for exploring the farther reaches of musical expression. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Olympia Experimental Music Festival and, as much as the music remains an intangible wonder, the festival itself remains comfortably in the same niche that it established for itself two decades ago. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on the Olympia Experimental Music Festival in the Music & Culture section, then catch Elliott Sharp, Peter Randlette, Dead Air Fresheners, KnotPineBox, J.D. Helwig and Big Tom the Lithuanian at Northern.

5. Sometimes, with this arms race of who can nail the heaviest stoner rock to the wall, things can get muddy in a way that interferes with the visceral thrill promised by these tectonic riffs. Gladiators Eat Fire bring it with the massive sound, but they have smarts enough to parcel things out in more digestible bites. At their heaviest, they even approach some demonic heavy metal, but they always back off before they totally blow their wad. Catch the band with Death By Stars and the Lion in Winter at 9 p.m. in The New Frontier Lounge.

LINK: Friday, June 27 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

June 18, 2014 at 9:43am

JBLM soldiers donate time to help Tillicum students

Soldiers from the 514th Medical Company volunteered this year to help Tillicum Elementary students with reading, math, science and other subjects.

Clover Park School District tells us an awesome story before heading out on summer break. ...

Soldiers from the 514th Medical Company stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) helped students at Tillicum Elementary with reading, math, science and other subjects at least once a month this year. Tillicum has always had a partnership with a medical brigade at JBLM but the visits weren't on a regular basis. Capt. Jonathan Williams, commander of the company, started working with Tillicum principal Taj Jensen in 2013 to see if they could organize the visits on a regular basis to provide some consistency for the students. Anywhere from a dozen to two dozen soldiers visit each month.

Read more...

June 13, 2014 at 9:51am

New JBLM elementary school attendance boundaries

The new attendance boundary map for Beachwood Elementary on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Map courtesy of Clover Park School District

In May the Clover Park School District Board of Directors approved school attendance boundary adjustments for elementary schools located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). The adjustments take effect for the 2014-15 school year, which will begin on Aug. 27, and are the result of the opening of two new schools, Rainier Elementary School on JBLM Main and Meriwether Elementary on JBLM North. A third new elementary school is anticipated to open on base in fall 2015.

Although a public hearing for families to learn about the proposed boundary adjustments was held on April 21, the school district is continuing to reach out to parents to ensure that everyone affected is aware of the changes. Highlights of the proposed boundary adjustments and decisions regarding acceptance of attendance waivers include:  

  • Kindergarten waivers will not be accepted for Hillside and Rainier Elementary Schools. This includes those families who may have siblings currently attending Clarkmoor, Greenwood and Hillside Elementary Schools this school year.
  • No waivers (K-5) will be accepted for Meriwether Elementary School.
  • All waiver students currently enrolled in an elementary school will be allowed to continue for the 2014-15 school year. A new waiver request form must be completed for final approval. A waiver request does not guarantee enrollment of siblings not currently enrolled.
  • Current Clarkmoor Elementary students, who reside in the Parkway housing area, will attend Hillside Elementary starting with the 2014-15 school year.
  • Boundaries were developed to define the residential areas on JBLM-North to a specific school of attendance (Meriwether or Beachwood). As such, students residing in the newly defined Beachwood attendance area will attend Greenwood Elementary School as a transitional school for the 2014-15 school year only.

If a student has special needs, the school assignment will be dependent upon where the special program is offered. For more information, please contact the special education department at 253.583.5170.

>>> The new attendance boundary map for Rainier Elementary on JBLM. Photo courtesy of Clover Park School Disrict

Kindergarten registration for the upcoming school year is open now. To enroll, kindergartners must be five years old by midnight on Aug. 31, 2014. For more information, go to cloverpark.k12.wa.us/Admin/Kindergarten.aspx. School offices will be closed in July so general student enrollment will resume the week of Aug. 4.

All of the relevant, revised school boundary maps can be found here.

By mid-July, parents may also visit the CPSD website and use the school/bus stop locator.

Additionally, each school has a complete list of addresses for its attendance boundaries. If you have questions contact your neighborhood school or the assistant superintendent of elementary schools, Othene Wade, at 253.583.5160.

June 5, 2014 at 9:51am

Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ty Carter discusses character at Lakes High School

Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, Medal of Honor recipient, spoke to social studies students at Lakes High School. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The Lakes High School students sat and listened carefully to Staff Sgt. Ty Carter.

A Medal of Honor recipient, Carter talked about his life experiences in pointing out to his young audience the attributes of true character.

"I am no different than you," he began. 

Bringing Carter, who currently serves at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, to Lakes was the idea of Republican State Senator Steve O'Ban.

The majority of students attending acknowledged that they had a family member serving at JBLM.

O'Ban sponsored Senate Resolution 8713 to honor Carter's valor in Afghanistan was instrumental in bringing him to Lakes High School to give the students the opportunity "to meet a genuine hero and to learn from his life experience."

He also pointed out that Carter is the first Medal of Honor recipient to be honored by the legislature.

When Carter spoke, he did not disappoint.

At ease with the students as he paced back and forth across the stage, Carter briefly told them of his service in the Marine Corps and the Army.

Then he turned to his point - the value of character.

"You must understand what you do with your future," Carter stressed.  "You control what you do in your future."

>>> Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, recipient of the Medal of Honor, shakes hands with a Lakes High School student. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

At times he alluded to the Oct. 3, 2009 battle at Combat Outpost (COP) Keating in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. 

More than 300 insurgents had surrounded the COP and the 53 soldiers stationed there.  Eight soldiers were killed; 25 were wounded, including Carter.

During the fight, Carter engaged enemy troops, resupplied ammunition to his fellow soldiers, rendered first aid and risked his life to save an injured soldier who had been pinned down by barrage of enemy fire.

"You work for and with each other," he explained at one point.  "Everyone has to work together," he added when asked about the fight.

Students soon engaged Carter with questions.  One question addressed an issue of concern to Carter.

Post Traumatic Stress.

"My goal is to remove the D from PTSD," Carter said.  "It's not a disorder. It's a normal human reaction to trauma."

Another question centered the wearing of the Medal of Honor.

Carter's answer is character revealed.

"It is a representation," he began.

"Behind it is every man who fought, behind it are the eight men who died and the Gold Star families.  And every time I make a mistake while wearing the medal I have insulted the memory of those who fought and died."

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