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RallyPoint/6 Opens in Lakewood

  • WHAT: RallyPoint/6, a one-stop resource center for transitioning military members, veterans and military families pens first center in Washington
  • WHERE: 9881 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood
  • HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • WEBSITE: rp6.org
  • WHAT ELSE: The $1 million, 6,000-square-foot center offers computer stations, meeting rooms, classrooms, kid drop zone service and other amenities for military families.

 

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Pierce County and the South Sound enjoy a special relationship with military services members and their families.

So it only makes sense that RallyPoint/6 chose Lakewood to open the state’s largest private, one-stop resource center.

The nonprofit organization – which supports transitioning service members, National Guard and Reservists, veterans and military families – is now operating in the heart of Lakewood, a city whose identity and culture is intertwined with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Camp Murray, the American Lake Veterans Hospital and the region’s military.

With support from community volunteers, retired military service members and military family members, the new center is designed as a hub for veterans who seek crucial transitional connections for employment and careers, education, family programs, housing, veteran benefits and wellness resources.

RallyPoint/6’s chose the Lakewood location because of proximity to the military. That proximity will help RallyPoint/6 serve the growing volume of new veterans in the South Puget Sound.

Pierce County currently has one of the largest veteran concentrations in the U.S. at more than 90,000.

In 2013, more than 6,000 service members transitioned to civilian life through JBLM, and another 9,500 service members are expected to do the same in 2014, according to Anne Sprute, RallyPoint/6 Founder and CEO.

“We anticipate between 14,000 and 15,000 service members and their families will relocate here annually from duty stations worldwide through the year 2016,” said Sprute, a retired CW4 helicopter pilot. “These service members will require resources to make a smooth transition and reintegrate fully into their communities.”

“RallyPoint/6 is standing ready to provide opportunities for connections and a smooth path ahead,” she added.

The center boasts more than 6,000 square feet of space, and its amenities include:

  • Resource room with 20 computer stations
  • Commercial-grade copier/printer and fax machine
  • 10 private meeting rooms
  • 16 community collaborator partner stations
  • Classroom for workshops and other learning opportunities.

The site also offers a child drop-off “Drop Zone” to accommodate service members and their families who need a break from kid duties while connecting to the vast array of resources in the local community.

For java drinkers – RallyPoint/6 is set to receive a commercial coffee machine from Starbucks and will be serving complimentary coffee from the Seattle coffeemaker along with treats from the robust volunteer core.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, a RallyPoint/6 Board Member, says the organization’s mission is ideal for such a military rich region.

“Given the number of service members transitioning into Pierce County over the next few years, RallyPoint/6 is a key resource for building veteran support networks among businesses and non-profits,” she said. “It gives efficient and effective assistance to veterans and their families joining our communities.”

The center is a product of community support, as well as a recognition that it must do everything we can to help veterans and their families. The initial funding came from the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation with a bold challenge grant that pledged $1 million in matching funds from the community. Through generous private and public donors and foundation grants, Sprute and a small team of citizen leaders and veterans raised the necessary $1 million in less than four months. In addition to community donations, the organization received in-kind support to establish RallyPoint/6’s physical location.

“The sacrifices that service members and their families make on a daily basis are remarkable,” Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield said. “A center like RallyPoint/6 shows how much our community is committed to helping and meeting the needs of our transitioning military. Anne is doing a wonderful thing for our military community, and the City of Lakewood will support the RP/6 mission any way it can. We welcome RP/6 with open arms.”

Lieutenant General (R) Bill Harrison, Co-Chairman of the RallyPoint/6 Board of Directors and former commander of I Corps and Fort Lewis, as well as Lakewood’s first mayor, said “These transitioning young veterans and their families have the potential to become the bedrock of our South Puget Sound communities in the future. Helping them succeed will produce our next generation of strong families, community volunteers, civic and business leaders. We ask you to join us at RallyPoint/6 in welcoming them home and helping them thrive.”

If you or someone you know is a veteran who’s making the transition out of the military, stop by RallyPoint/6 to connect to the center’s exhaustive network of resources.

There are different ways you can assist in this mission; volunteer with your time, talent or donate resources. Be part of ensuring our next greatest generation is embraced with opportunity to continue to serve in the community. As the Schultz Family Foundation stated, “While their service is ending, our responsibility is just beginning.”

RP/6 is located at 9881 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit: rp6.org .

Lakewood Officially Leases Fort Steilacoom Park

It’s official: the City of Lakewood now holds the lease for one of the biggest and most popular parks in the South Sound.

Last week, the City assumed control of the lease of Fort Steilacoom Park , a historic, 340-acre park located in the heart of Lakewood.

Fort Steilacoom Park is owned by the State of Washington. For years, it was leased to Pierce County and managed and maintained by the City of Lakewood via an interlocal agreement. Pierce County paid a portion of the annual operation costs under the prior agreement, which was set to expire the end of this year.

The state, Pierce County and the City had to approve the agreement. The Lakewood City Council voted to assume control of the lease in December, and the transfer between Pierce County and the City was finalized last week.

“This made sense given that the City maintains Fort Steilacoom Park and all of the different events and activities there throughout the year,” said Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Mary Dodsworth.

Dodsworth added that users won’t notice a difference, especially when it comes to the quality of the park or the types of events it brings, including the Lakewood SummerFEST Triathlon and community festivals.

Lakewood Police: Don't Drink & Drive This Sunday

On Sunday, legions of Seahawk fans will watch Super Bowl XVLIII between Seattle and Denver.

But while Lakewood and the Northwest could be celebrating the team’s first NFL title, the City of Lakewood would like to remind revelers about the dangers of drinking and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than one-third of fatality crashes on Super Bowl Sunday are related to alcohol.

In Washington , drivers arrested and convicted for driving drunk face up to a year in jail for a first-time offense, a suspended license for up to a year, a fine of up to $5,000 and other penalties.

With that in mind, Lakewood Police offered some reminders for fans who will be drinking while watching the big game:

  • Know your limits
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Call a friend or taxi
  • Have a designated driver
  • Consider spending the night wherever you watch

“We know people will be watching the game and having a good time,” Lakewood Police Lt. Chris Lawler said. “But if drivers have had too much to drink, it’s not worth it to get behind the wheel. We don’t want to spoil the fun, but we want people to be safe.”

“Go Hawks,” he added.

Lakewood Saw Crime Drop in 2013

Year-end crime statistics from 2013 show an overall dip of 8 percent in the City of Lakewood, a direct result of the work of its Police Department and indication that the community continues to be a safe place to live.

“We continue to work hand-in-hand with citizens and the business community to make Lakewood a better, safer place,” Police Chief Bret Farrar said. “It’s something we’ve done for the better part of a decade, now.”

The City saw nearly a 7-percent drop in person crimes – including a 5-percent drop in total assaults - as well as a 9-percent drop in property crimes. The latter includes double-digit reductions, percentage-wise, in burglaries and robberies.

The results, which are compiled by the National Incident-Based Reporting System, also show the Police Department responded to incidents quicker. In 2013, the average amount of time it took to respond to calls for service was down across the board, including a reduction of more than 2 minutes for “Priority 3” calls, which account for a majority of calls received.

More statistics: Lakewood responded to 100 fewer traffic accidents in 2013 than the prior year – a drop of 10 percent and a testament to the effectiveness of the City’s photo enforcement program. Police also had to make 269 fewer traffic stops from the previous year, a dip of almost 20 percent.

City Manager John Caulfield attributed much of the reduction to the work of the Police Department, which is celebrating its 10th year in 2014.

“They work efficiently and effectively,” he said, “and their efforts are continually making Lakewood a safe place to live and a great place to live.”

WSDOT To Study Traffic Patterns on I-5

Over the next two weeks, crews will study traffic patterns between Interstate 5 interchanges, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the greater Lakewood area.

But they aren’t going to use traffic-counting devices. No one is going to be standing on a corner counting cars, either.

As part of an “Origin-Destination” study being conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation – which is part of a larger I-5 JBLM Interchange Justification Report (IJR) - crews will be installing solar-powered devices that can pick up Bluetooth signals and track the routes of drivers.

Those devices will track how many vehicles use I-5 to access JBLM and surrounding areas. That data will help determine the South Sound’s transportation future in terms of what improvements are needed in one of the most congested regions in the state.

“The study is ultimately going to help determine how big I-5 should be and whether local roads should be built to alleviate that,” said Desiree Winkler, Transportation Division Manager at the City of Lakewood.

The devices, called “BlueMAC Readers,” identify partial Bluetooth signals, everything from a cell phone to a wireless headset to Bluetooth-enabled vehicles.

According to the Transpo Group, which is installing the equipment, the readers provide one-way, passive communication from a vehicle or mobile device. Each reader is equipped with a transmitter - same as any cell phone - that uploads the data in real-time to the cloud. The readers can be monitored remotely to review their performance and track travel times and patterns via a secure online portal.

An obvious question: Do the devices spy on drivers and infringe on privacy?

The answer: An emphatic “No.”

The data that the devices are collecting are partial Bluetooth signals, so they can’t be traced to a specific person or device. Many of the devices will be installed on JBLM – where there are strict privacy regulations and airfields with navigation systems - and they’ve been approved by base officials.

“This is really to understand the traffic patterns of cars going in and out of JBLM,” Winkler said. “Currently, the assumption is cars are using I-5 to get from one point on the base to another. This is a good way to know exactly if that’s happening.”

Pictured: An example of a solar-powered, BlueMAC reader that was installed in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Transpo Group.