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Toledo talks library, fiber optics and school bond at Big Community Meeting

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Residents were asked what they think Vision:Toledo’s priorities should be by placing stickers on a panel of ideas presented to organizers. Voted top among priorities were a library in town, followed by the development of walking trails along the city’s waterfront, and the placing of historical signs and markers around town.

Residents were allowed to weigh in and voice their priorities at Vision:Toledo’s Big Community Meeting March 18 while being given time to hear from a number of guest speakers.

Organized by local community activists, the meeting featured a row of pages naming various ideas to help improve the town, and guests at the meeting were allowed to place stickers on each page to vote on what they think the priorities should be.

At the end of the evening, organizer Mike Morgan shared the results of the survey and said the creation of a library was an overwhelming priority, as well as the establishment of walking trails along the city’s waterfront, and the placing of historical signs and markers around town.

Aside from the survey, guests speakers both local and regional presented progress reports and ideas to the audience, with a much-anticipated update from Cheryl Heywood, executive director of the Timberland Regional Library (TRL) District.

Heywood spoke of a recent meeting she attended with Toledo Mayor Jerry Pratt and property owner Pat Caldwell, indicating Timberland is prepared to move forward with a library kiosk in the building owned by Caldwell in Downtown Toledo.

Heywood said the next big step is for Timberland to sign an agreement with Caldwell and husband Bill to specifically establish the kiosk in their building, stating the TRL Board of Trustees will be meeting to discuss the issue this Wednesday. Heywood also stated, as a reminder, all Toledo residents qualify for a library card at no charge since annexing into the TRL District last year, as well as online library services which include ebooks, mp3 downloads, and a multitude of information databases.

It has been stated by both Vision:Toledo and Pratt it is expected Toledo will establish a community library with TRL resources available, primarily a kiosk, with Pratt stating the City of Toledo is prepared to commit to such a program for two years before asking TRL again for a full library, and will then re-examine their options at that time.

A number of other speakers were on hand as well with important updates.

April Pennington Farey, organizer of the Lewis County Veterans Day Parade, shared the Toledo City Council’s recent decision to hold the parade in Toledo on a recurring basis, and permanently booked the event for the Saturday preceding Nov. 11, or the Saturday on Which Nov. 11 falls. Pennington Farery lauded Toledo for having been so surrpotive as a community and said she is currently looking for volunteers to help with this year’s upcoming parade, scheduled for Nov. 8.

Gwen Walker, Manager of the local Valley View Medical Clinic, reminded residents their new facility at 117 Ramsey Way is open for business four days a week (Monday thru Wednesday, and Friday) 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walker said the clinic is offering regular health services and family health services with options available for those without insurance and/or low income. She also said those interested in insurance can drop by on Tuesdays to seek help accessing Washington’s health exchange program.

Multiple speakers touched on the importance of Toledo Tel’s increasing fiber optic network, including Will Saunders, with the Department of Commerce, Pam Piper, representing the office of Representative Jamie Herrera Beutler, and Dick Larman, director of the Lewis County Economic Development Council. All three indicated the economic prospects created by the installation of high-speed internet infrastructure, stating online business and industrial technologies have been stable, consistently-growing areas of the economy despite the last few years and Toledo is poising themselves to attract new businesses and jobs as a result of such investments.

Bob Schmid, a member of the Toledo Lions Club and coordinator for the Veterans Wall of Honor, reported the Lions Club has begun gathering funds to help pay for bricks for veterans who may not otherwise be able to afford one. A brick bearing the name and service information of a veteran, past or present, costs $100, and Schmid said those who wish to have a name added should find one of the many entry forms around town and submit it regardless of ability to pay, stating, "we’ll figure out a way to get it up on the wall." He acknowledged the Chehalis Tribe for becoming involved and helping find access to income sources for the brick program.

Deidre Dillon, coordinator of the Toledo Elementary School Garden Project, reported on the ongoing efforts of gardening projects both at the Elementary School and Toledo High School. She shared how 22 seminars have been held in the three years since the program’s inception, teaching students and parents about topics such as recycling, growing food and eating healthy. She also shared how their first harvest party was a success last fall and how they soon intend to incorporate Toledo Middle School into the program. A list was distributed of materials currently needed, which include: 50-foot hoses, varying nozzle sprayers, child-sized gardening tools and gloves, 50-gallon plastic barrels, seed packets, sulfur powder, topsoil, a four-pronged weeder and 50lb bags of play sand.

Toledo City Clerk Michelle Whitten updated residents of a number of ongoing city projects. She spoke of recent repairs to the city’s network of sidewalks, as well as a soon-to-be-stocked life vest station at the boat launch. She also announced the City Council’s recent approval of a bid for the new sewer plant (see page 1), stating construction is expected to begin by sometime next month.

Toledo School District Superintendent Sharon Bower spoke about the upcoming bond measure intended to help upgrade district facilities, primarily the high school. She emphasized how students are learning current science is classrooms with 39-year-old equipment, and how the quality of school facilities and utilities are at level where the district will have no choice but to replace them very soon. For an in-depth look at Bower’s presentation, as well answers to specific questions posed by residents, go to, or looking for upcoming issues of Town Crier.

While another Big Community Meeting is not expected until this time next year, Vision:Toledo is meeting regularly to plan events and projects for the town. For information on these and other happenings, as well as how to become involved, visit, or call Morgan at (360) 864-4ART.

As indicated by the placement of stickers, a library in Toledo was a clear priority for residents, beating out the next most popular option by 33 points.

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