Hello Gig Harbor,
It looks like the sun is out to stay for a while…I hope you’re all having fun in this beautiful weather. This summer is unlike any other, isn’t that the truth? However, we are fortunate to live here in Gig Harbor, where we can enjoy plenty of open spaces safely throughout the season.
In the past week, we’ve heard a number of updates on how to address the spread of COVID on the state level. The Governor paused any counties moving forward until at least July 28. This means Gig Harbor and Pierce County will remain in Phase Two for at least the remainder of the month. The Governor also mentioned the very real possibility of another stay at home order this year, if cases do not slow. We don’t want that.
The numbers for our area continue to rise, up to 103 cases on July 20th from 68 on June 30th. Pierce County’s 14-day case rate is at 108.6 per 100,000. We had to be below 25 per 100,000 to even move to Phase Two. The rate of transmission is becoming more frequent, and we continue to see more new cases than we have at any point throughout the pandemic.
The state also expanded the public health order requiring mask wearing in public to include a requirement for businesses – patrons are required to wear masks, or the business could lose their business license. Our Gig Harbor Police Department is still trying to educate before they enforce, but they are going to respond to reports of people putting public health at risk. Be polite, be respectful, and do your part to help us move forward and get back to normal.
In many counties that had reached Phase Three, the state changed the amount of people that could associate together from 50 down to 10 except for weddings, funerals and religious services.
While we’re stuck in Phase Two, supporting our local businesses is more important than ever. Last week, we announced the 111 businesses that we were able to support through the city’s Small Business Stabilization Grants. I want to thank Council and our staff for mobilizing quickly to get CARES Act funds in the hands of the City’s small businesses. I’m proud to report that each business received $2774.77.
We are also helping to support Band Together: The Small Business Relief Concert Series, which is a virtual COVID relief effort designed to both raise funds to help support and to highlight local businesses struggling through the impacts of the pandemic. You can log in from home, enjoy these online performances, and order in from one of Gig Harbor’s restaurants. Donations can be made to the Band Together Fund, part of the Peninsula COVID-19 Community Emergency Relief Fund, to help provide grants to locally owned small businesses impacted by COVID. You can find more information on their website, at www.ghkpbandtogether.org.
From July 20 forward, these concerts will be broadcast from a private location with no audience – meaning the only way to view them is from the safety of your home. This is to comply with the state directive banning live entertainment indoors and outdoors.
The Civic Center will continue to remain closed to the public until at least August 3rd, but our staff and Council are still hard at work keeping the City running.
At the July 13th City Council Meeting, Council approved the City to move forward with a new $250,000 playground installation at Veteran’s Memorial Park. This new playground will be ADA inclusive and a great addition to the neighborhood and our City parks system. The playground design was a true community effort, we thank the students at Discovery Elementary School for jumping in with their planning ideas!
The new playground plan was brought together by Parks Manager Nicole Jones-Vogel, who recently announced she’s moving on from working for the City. Nicole has been very instrumental in moving forward many park projects in her time here. We wish her well in her new endeavors.
After the 4th of July, Council and I heard from many of you about potentially requesting changes to the laws for fireworks. We know people love being able to set off fireworks here in town, but some prefer to see (and hear) fireworks only on the 4th. Others would like to see fireworks banned completely.
Several years ago, the city allowed eight days allowed for fireworks and then council changed it to four days. Currently, city residents can shoot off fireworks between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on July 1st through July 3rd, and between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and midnight on July 4th. Council will be looking at changing these restrictions in October and we’ll be reaching out to you for your comments then. Any changes will not go into effect until July 2022.
Last week Council received the 2019 Washington State Crime Report. Overall crime in Washington state went down in 2019 according to the report released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC). The annual report tracks crime and arrest data from contributing law enforcement agencies throughout Washington. In Gig Harbor, serious crimes were down 8.9% from 2018. Most of our crimes are against property (retail store theft) which is our largest issue. Our town is quite small, roughly a mile wide and seven miles long.
For those of you that have been tuning in to my Facebook Live Q&A Sessions, I’ve changed those to once a week, on Fridays at 10:00am. They have been very popular with over 3,000 viewers tuning in each week.
People have enjoyed being kept up to date, and I’ve enjoyed having direct conversations with citizens, businesses and the guest speakers we’ve welcomed to answer some of your more specialized questions.
Now, we’re taking it more on the road -- two weeks ago, we visited Bella Kitchen to report from the city there and hear about her store. Last week, we went to two other businesses as we will do again tomorrow. Later, we will also be visiting parks, nonprofits and many great areas around town to report from. We are here for you, our citizens and community, to listen, report and help guide our city to continue to be one of the best in the nation.
Stay healthy out there, be kind to one another, and remember to wear your mask!