Grays Harbor Vision 2020 has victories to celebrate, plans for future


Get out your calendar now and mark this down: 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at Aberdeen High School.

On that date, everyone in the community is invited to come together and celebrate the fifth anniversary of Grays Harbor Vision 2020 and hear about all the success stories. And there are plenty!

Better yet, once again everyone from young to old will have a chance to help determine the focus for the future of updating the plan and continuing to work together to improve our lives on the Harbor.

PAINT THE CORRIDOR JUST ONcE

You’ve heard us talk a lot the last few months about the success of Paint the Corridor. That volunteer effort was just one of many items that Grays Harbor Vision 2020 and its partners tackled these last few years. In fact, of the 120 planned actions, 85 of them are either complete or underway! Not bad Team Harbor!

The action items are divided into five areas: infrastructure-governance, signature spaces and places, environmental assets, diverse & prosperous economy and social and cultural opportunity.

We don’t want to steal the thunder of the celebration, but just to give you an idea, a few other of the 85 successes include the 37,000 feet of rail infrastructure added to our area, sidewalk reconstructions in Hoquiam, Aberdeen and McCleary, the completion of the Westport Marina Viewing Tower, the Grays Harbor Tourism comprehensive walking guide, Stafford Creek Correctional solid waste diversion program and the completion of Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma.

MORE BACKGROUND

To give you some more background: “Grays Harbor 2020 is a shared community vision for the future, and a road map for getting there. Designed for and by the people who live, work, learn and play here, it is also the product of the most comprehensive outreach initiative ever conducted in our community.

“Between 2007 and 2009, thousands of residents from every corner of the county shared their ideas for making Grays Harbor a better place to live, work, play and learn,” the graysharbor2020.com web page explains. (It’s a great website, take a look and be encouraged!)

A consultant – J. Robertson and Co. – was hired to lead the group through a process that included more than 40 community group presentations, with some 320 people from throughout the Harbor attending project-scoping forums.

In all, more than 2,000 action items were received and then whittled down to the 120.

With three dozen implementation partner organizations – everyone from the Port and Grays Harbor College to the various cities to Coastal Community Action, the Quinault Nation, the Harbor Ministers Fellowship, Grays Harbor Tourism, the YMCA and many, many more – it helps demonstrate how working together can make a difference. Can’t you see why the Vision 2020 board wants to get together and celebrate?

“This will give us a chance to celebrate, then reload and regroup,” said Stan Pinnick. Stan is not only the superintendent at North Beach School District and serving as a Port of Grays Harbor commissioner for the past 10 years, he also represents the Port on the Grays Harbor 2020 executive board.

His son, Ron Pinnick, formerly of Grays Harbor Paper, serves as the community coordinator for the group and acts as the go-between with the executive board, the community and the consultant.

“One of the reasons this has been so successful, is that it is a grass roots effort,” Ron said. “Ideas have come from the community and the implementation depends on the community. This is a working, living document.”

David Quigg, the director of public relations at Grays Harbor Community Hospital, is the president of Grays Harbor Vision 2020.

“The people who live in Grays Harbor want it to be better,” David said. “We just need a launch pad to do that from.”

David said that he particularly likes the process in which everyone’s voice is heard.

“One of the most touching scenes I remember from the meetings is being at Ocean Shores and senior citizens in their 80s we’re so thrilled to be asked their opinion. They said, ‘No one’s every asked me what I wanted for our community before,’ ” David said.

”There’s been a longtime tradition on the Harbor of believing that we don’t deserve better,” said Callie White, communications director at Greater Grays Harbor Inc., and an executive board member. “And, at the same time there is a tradition of people wanting to do right by this community. But, unfortunately the power of economic problems plus inertia equals fewer things happening.

“One of the thing things Vision 2020 did was to help kick start that energy and work on improving things,” she said.

The will to help others on the Harbor is great, Callie added. For a county of 69,000 residents there are some 700 nonprofit organizations, “that’s amazing!”

She noted that out of hundreds of other events across the country, the Relay for Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society in Grays Harbor is the second largest per capita money raised in the country.

And that’s just one big example.

“There are things happening all over that you maybe don’t see unless you are on the receiving end. When we pair that compassion and the desire to do right for people in our community with government action and coordination, what can’t we do?”

Good question, Callie! We think this community can amaze even itself.

We’re planning to be at the January meeting to help be part of many solutions for the Harbor. Look forward to seeing you there too!

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.