City of Yelm Top 10 Community Achievements of 2019

City of Yelm Top 10 Community Achievements of 2019
And just like that we are on to the new year! As we look forward to what lies ahead in 2020, it is also important to look back at the great things our community achieved in 2019. It takes all of us working together to make progress and we’re grateful to be working alongside such a great network of people that continue to make Yelm a great place to live, work and play! Below is a list of our “Top 10 of 2019” to highlight a few of the many accomplishments we made as a community in 2019.  

#1: Relocating City Hall
IMG_1145This vision to bring all of Yelm’s services to one campus actually began in 2018 when the City purchased the former FairPoint Communication building and the adjacent half-acre of commercial property, but considering we didn’t open the doors of the New City Hall until the beginning of 2019, we’ll keep this at the top of our list. Consistent with our ongoing objective to improve public infrastructure and create new services for the Yelm community, we relocated City Hall to a building that better suits the needs of a maturing City. The move not only improved internal operations and streamlined customer service, but the relocation also provided space for the Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County to open a branch in Yelm, and currently presents an opportunity to build a Center for Education and Innovation on the adjacent land.

#2: New Splash Pad & Playground Make Yelm City Park a Regional DestinationSplash Pad 2
Coming in at a close second is the completion of the splash pad and new playground equipment at Yelm City Park. This year’s improvements have turned the Yelm City Park into one of the most popular family attractions in Thurston County. Hundreds of Yelm-area kids have already slid down the slides, ran through the water rings, and shot the water cannons, while parents land their picnic basket on the green grass or on one of the many new tables throughout the park. Nothing is better than walking past the park on a summer day and hearing the laughter and excitement of the many families enjoying this new addition to the community.

# 3: Boys & Girls Club Opens in YelmDSC-0789
We’re sure this is at the top of the list for many families in the Yelm area and it is one that moved among the top three for quite some time before landing third on our list. This exciting opportunity presented itself in a comprehensive vision to improve community services and by thinking out of the box and relocating City Hall, we created space for organizations like the Boys & Girls Club to utilize our former building and establish roots in our community. We are so excited to have them come to Yelm and provide essential services for youth and their families.

#4: Increased Government Transparency, 
Communication & Online Customer ServiceWebsite
Along with relocating City Hall, we also launched a new website, moved from paper applications to digital forms, began livestreaming open public meetings through our YouTube Channel, and reformed the City newsletter. We made it our priority to create an online platform where residents, business owners, developers and anyone else interested in Yelm can easily apply for permits, find public information, and get up to date on City news and upcoming events. 

#5: Clean Audit/Recent Finance Department Success
The City of Yelm Finance Department continues to make strides in financial transparency and consistency, demonstrated in the clean audit for the fiscal year 2018, issued by the Washington State Auditor’s Office in November 2019. The mission to implement the powerful framework, allowing the City to stiffen internal controls, began in 2017 when the City’s financial policies were not as proficient as they are today. This year was the first year the recent efforts of our finance department were recognized at the state level.. Continuing the momentum in 2019, the Finance Department worked alongside the Executive Department and the Mayor to get unanimous approval by City Council to adopt budget amendments and to create a budget calendar that provides better predictability and planning for future budgets.

#6: Sidewalk Enhancements Take Place Across the City
Fort Stevens sidewalk
As part of our continuing effort to improve pedestrian access and mobility in our community, we constructed a new sidewalk to connect hundreds of students to Fort Stevens Elementary, received a state grant to construct a sidewalk along Mill Road, and we inventoried and assessed all of our existing sidewalks. The assessment included grinding sections of sidewalk to a level surface and replacing many of the oldest sections of sidewalk along Yelm Avenue, which are currently under construction. This work is consistent with the Downtown Transportation Strategy, a forward thinking plan, adopted by all but one council member, focused on multiple different projects to enhance downtown vitality by better connecting the community to local businesses and public services.

#7: A Year of New and Longstanding FestivalsBeer GardenCullum
We are thrilled to be a part of a community who continues to carry on local traditions, while adding new festivals that allow us to come together and keep our City's "small-town charm" prominent. This year, a group of community members came together to revamp the annual Prairie Days Festival, transforming the event into a three day festival jam-packed with free activities. We also welcomed the first ever Barbecue Rally and Mermaid Festival. We are excited to see these new events establish roots in Yelm, while we continue to see increased attendance at established events, including Christmas in the Park and more recent Jazz Festival. We have a good thing going here, thank you all for being a part of it!

#8: Legislature Funds Two projects to Enhance Art, Education, and Economic Development in Yelm.Tower
On account of grant funding through the Washington State Legislature, the Yelm community will see the iconic water tower come back to life as a 125-foot art piece and — at the same time — the City received funding for the engineering and design study of a Center for Education and Innovation. The historic Yelm Water Tower project is facilitated by “Save the Yelm Water Tower,” a nonprofit organization and is one of the many ways, including the addition of the Yelm Arts Commission that our community is embracing and enhancing public art. The City is currently conducting a feasibility study to construct a Center for Education and Innovation building on the adjacent land next to the Yelm City Hall. We are currently in the process of expanding opportunities that are already available in Yelm and building on existing partnerships with South Puget Sound Community College, who already hold classes at the Yelm Community Center. Both of these community projects are important for preserving Yelm’s past and building our future.

#9: Youth Council Strengthens Community Diversity and Civic Involvement 
The City of Yelm established a youth Council to encourage the young people of our community to be involved in public service. The Youth Council advises the Mayor and City officials on strategies to empower the voice of youth and strengthen partnerships with other organizations, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Nisqually Indian Tribe. We believe young people are a significant community resource, have a great understanding of the needs of today’s teens, and have the most influence to create positive change to support our youth. In their first year as an established Youth Council, the group worked with the Mayor to elevate community spirit for our schools, especially during the Homecoming season. 

#10: Yelm University Kicks OffDSC-1603 (1)

The first session of Yelm University provided an opportunity to learn about some of the many accomplishments, challenges and opportunities that make our city great. The first session was held Dec. 5, and was focused on the budget development process and how the City pumps and distributes potable water and the process in which the wastewater is treated and then recycled back into the aquifer. Be sure to keep an eye on the City of Yelm website, Facebook page, and our newsletter in 2020 to see when our next session is scheduled, then sign up and join the class. It's free, informational and fun!