Laura Pierce

Disabled Kent veteran collecting cards for fellow soldiers: How you can help make Operation Christmas Love a success

I met Pamala Heydt for the first time this week. It was a cold, rainy Tuesday morning at Kent Station. Considering what she had just been through, Heydt should have been angry. She should have been steamed. The disabled veteran, who lost 40 percent of her vision during basic training in the Army and who now is unable to drive, had been waiting for a bus that morning, with her friend Will Zastawnik and boyfriend David Conlin. She wanted to take the bus from the top of Kent Hill, to come talk to me about her hopes of collecting several thousand Christmas cards, to give to veterans in two area VA hospitals. The bus apparently passed them by.

Beer samplers for Christmas? Editor’s Note

Here we are, parked at the start of a holiday season. That said, you can basically put the entire human species into one of two camps: • Those who started shopping for presents the day after last Christmas; and • Those who will start shopping for presents by Christmas Eve.

Black Friday opens holiday shopping season: Kent Station geared up for shoppers

The biggest shopping season of the year was right around the corner, and earlier this week, a regional retail complex in Kent was gearing up with high hopes. “Obviously Black Friday is a big day for us,” said John Hinds, general manager of Kent Station, of the day that officially opened the Christmas shopping season. “This is really our time of the year.” The recession may be alive and well, but for Kent Station, Hinds said, business actually has been up – “we’re really happy – our comparison sales have been in the double digits all year,” he said. “This is a very good sign – not only for Kent Station, but also the economy.”

City of Kent transportation woes: Roads need help; grants need matches

The City of Kent has approximately 300 miles of roads, with a replacement value nearing $1 billion. Those are roads that get used day in and day out, regardless of recessions, repair costs or tie-ups from train crossings. “The problem is when you’ve got an asset worth that amount of money, you have to maintain it,” said Tim LaPorte, public works director for the city. With roughly 500,00

Transplant day coming for Kent teen dealing with Severe Chronic Neutropenia Kostman’s Syndrome

The final pieces are falling into place for a seriously ill Kent teenager to receive a lifesaving transplant. Jayne Johnson, 16, who suffers from a rare illness called Severe Chronic Neutropenia Kostman's Syndrome, is being admitted Sunday, Nov. 21, to Seattle Children's Hospital to begin preparations for a long-awaited stem-cell transplant.

Kent officers cleared in July 7 shooting of domestic-violence suspect: Local update

Three Kent Police officers have been cleared by an inquest jury, for the July 7 shooting of a domestic-violence suspect in Kent. The Kent Reporter will have a local story later today on the findings of the inquest jury. Here is the Seattle Times story on the event.

Kent Fire responds to blaze at vacant house on Southeast 208th

Kent Fire responded to a blaze Thursday night in a vacant home on 1100 block of Southeast 208th St. There were no injuries, nor were there any pets located at the one-story rambler home, which apparently had been left vacant for some time.

Kent Chamber of Commerce takes stand on transportation-impact fees; city notes new developments impact road system

(This is the second in a several-part series about Kent’s recently passed traffic-impact fees, and the balance that must be struck between bringing in development and the cost for expanded infrastructure.)

This traffic stop beat the alternative: Editor’s Note

I had a real-life experience similar to that recently described in the Kent Reporter, where a woman was pulled over for drunk driving, but was in fact sober. A couple of years ago, I was pulled over on Interstate 5 by a Washington State Patrol trooper, for what he suspected was drinking and driving.

Teens struggling with sexual orientation need support of adults, suicide speaker says

Who knows someone who has attempted suicide?” A forest of hands rose upward. “Who knows someone who has died from suicide?” A number of hands slowly rose for a second time. For activist Heather Carter, the audience at the Saltwater Universalist Unitarian Church in Des Moines Tuesday night was highly responsive. And that was critical – for Carter, 38, was there to speak about suicide in the teenage gay, lesbian, transgendered and questioning community (a demographic known by the acronym LGBTQ.)

Kent business owners balk at new fees for roads, but city says street projects are at risk

(This is the first in a several-part series about Kent’s recently passed traffic-impact fees, and the balance that must be struck between bringing in development and the cost for expanded infrastructure.) Kent resident Dennis Stoddard was certain he had his paperwork in order, on one of his last visits to the Kent Permit Center this summer. He was about to start improvements to the retail space for his new business, Black Dog Brat Haus & Creamery. But as he stood at the City Hall counter that day, Stoddard was given something that made him “just kind of explode inside.” It was a bill for $103,000.

Funeral service for Devin Topps is Thursday in Kent: Updated Story

(Editor's note: This story is an updated version of one that ran last week. The nature of the service has been changed from a memorial service to a funeral service. The location, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship Worship and Family Life Center, remains the same. There will be a viewing from 9-10 a.m. at the church, followed by the closed-casket funeral service at 10 a.m.)

Seminar in Des Moines addresses suicide prevention for gay, lesbian, transgendered youth

An upcoming seminar at a Des Moines church will put the spotlight on suicide prevention in the gay, lesbian, transgendered and questioning youth community (a demographic also known by the acronym LGBTQ.) Scheduled for 7-9 p.m. at the Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church, the seminar will discuss how adults working with teens can better understand the factors putting these youth at a higher risk for suicide or self harm.

See Kent Police chaplain, other community leaders, receive service awards at Sunrise Rotary banquet Nov. 6

Kent Police chaplain Pat Ellis loves his job. “I’ve been a chaplain for about 10 years for Kent Police and I’ve been with Kent Fire for about six years,” the affable former youth pastor recalled. “It’s very intense sometimes, and very stressful, but I really, really like helping people. It’s a really unique position to be in, to bring that comfort, care and compassion to people in trauma.” Thanks to the late Kent Police officer Greg Duffin, Ellis had a special opportunity to do even more. He helped Duffin, who was fighting cancer, in developing what eventually became the nonprofit Cops With Cancer organization. For his efforts to help the police community and to bring the Kent community together to help, Ellis will be the recipient of a Rotary-Sunrise Service Above Self Award. Along with five other recipients (including one couple), Ellis will receive the honor during the Rotary-Sunrise annual dinner auction 5:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Kent ShoWare Center.

King County Sheriff: Major cuts in store for department; ballot measure would aid criminal justice

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr likens her dilemma to operating a hospital. With $7.2 million to pare from her agency’s budget next year, it will be like “eliminating all preventative care and operating only an emergency room,” she said. Having already cut $10 million out of her budget in the last three years, Rahr said, “the cumulative effect is huge.”

Kent area election shakeup: incumbents Geoff Simpson, Claudia Kauffman losing ground

As much as the political shakeup on the federal level seems under way on election night, so too are shakeups going down on the local level. As of Tuesday night, two incumbents appeared to be losing to their challengers in the 47th district.

Memorial service scheduled for Devin Topps

The Kentridge High School community will have a chance to say goodbye to one of its own next week. A memorial service has been scheduled for Devin Topps, the former Kentridge athletic standout who died Oct. 31 after gunfire outside a house party in Kent. The service will take place 10 a.m. Nov. 11 at the New Beginnings Christian Fellowship Worship and Family Life Center, 19300 108th Ave. S.E., Kent.

Hundreds gather in Kent for Boy Scout luncheon; one scouting family shares their story

As the visitors walked through the greeting line Tuesday in the Kent ShoWare Center, Arthur Fujii stood at relaxed attention with fellow members of Troop 474. Uniform pressed, and wearing the neckerchief his father had as a boy, Fujii was a model Boy Scout, quietly greeting each guest and handing them a program overviewing the afternoon’s activities.

The Kent Reporter’s endorsements for state Legislature

The opinions expressed below are the collaboration of Kent Reporter Publisher Polly Shepherd and Editor Laura Pierce. Send your letters and comments to Laura Pierce at

The Kent Reporter’s editorial stance on state initiatives

This year the Kent Reporter is offering the following suggestions on some of the high-profile state initiatives on the November ballot. The overviews are the consensus of Publisher Polly Shepherd and Laura Pierce.