Disabled vet faces homelessness because Thurston County protects illegal businesses

How things should have proceeded

Perkins’ two luxury horse businesses were violating multiple county laws.  Click here to see a list of the codes I have found so far.  There are also state environmental laws that appear to have been broken.

Perkins’ two businesses were considered to be so high risk to surrounding properties, that the county’s staff didn’t even have the authority to review her business for permit approval.

The two businesses would need to go to a Hearing Examiner for approval.  That judicial process is long, involved, very detailed, and expensive.

And since county law prohibited her two businesses from operating on the same parcel, Perkins would have to choose one or the other.

The county staff and managers had been legally bound to follow their own regulations and processes to shut down Perkins’ illegal businesses.

Because of the Hearing Examiner process, the county managers didn’t have the authority to work with Perkins and allow her businesses to remain open while she made changes.

For the county managers to do anything but immediately shut down Perkins’ businesses, they were apparently violating RCW 9A.76.020, “Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer,” which is a gross misdemeanor.

This law includes any general authority and public officer who is responsible for enforcement of zoning (land use) codes.   Even delaying the process is a violation of this law.

A gross misdemeanor can result in 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The county managers who permitted Perkins’ two illegal businesses to continue operating were also guilty of a misdemeanor, according to Thurston County Code 26.05.020(A).

A misdemeanor can bring 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

County Manager Cliff Moore obstructs legal process

In spite of all of the evidence and laws, the county has steadfastly refused to act on these illegal businesses that have caused so much property damage and so many health risks to neighbors.

County Manager Cliff Moore quickly became the sole county representative to communicate with Timm Gunderson, Timm’s wife, and me about the situation, although several other county officials were cc’d on our emails.

Those county employees have remained silent as the months have gone by.

Cliff Moore continued to deny that Perkins’ two illegal businesses were violating any codes, despite the large amount of evidence given to him that proved otherwise.

Instead, Moore began to taunt Timm Gunderson in emails, when Gunderson asked why the county wasn’t following the law to prevent his family from becoming homeless because of illegal businesses.

Gunderson had known to expect cruelty from the enemy in Iraq.

Nothing prepared him for the cruelty he and his family received from his own local government.

The county has no checks and balances to stop this kind of corruption by the county manager.  If Cliff Moore wanted to protect illegal businesses, there was nothing stopping him.

In May, Cliff Moore left Thurston County to become Yakima’s city manager, where he is reported to receive a salary between $165,000-195,000.  He was unanimously chosen by the Yakima City Council.

Retiring County Commissioner Sandra Romero praised Moore as he exited Thurston County: “People respect him, he’s genuinely a good person, and he works harder than just about anybody I’ve ever seen. The Yakima City Council is really fortunate to have him.”

Cliff Moore’s personal project

As Commissioner Sandra Romero was ending her visit to the Gunderson home, she told Timm Gunderson that she was turning the problem over to acting Resource Stewardship Manager Cindy Wilson.

But it was at that point that County Manager Cliff Moore became the sole person to communicate about this with Timm Gunderson, his wife, and me.  We all shared long emails with Moore.

It certainly seemed odd that what should have been a routine report of code violations by unpermitted businesses, generally handled by county staff, was deserving of so much time and attention by the county manager himself.

Why didn’t he just delegate it to the regular employees who handled these things?  How did this become his personal project?

Throughout his communications with us, Cliff Moore kept insisting that there were no code violations on Perkins’ property, so the county wasn’t going to get involved.

That was despite the county codes, shown here, that were apparently being violated by each of Perkins’ two illegal businesses—as well as state environmental and habitat laws, too.

The County Commissioners solution for the Gunderson family—check out homeless services

In mid-March, the County Commissioners “brainstormed” over what to do about the Gunderson family’s desperate situation.

Their solution?  Not to investigate and shut down the illegal operations, as required by county law.  And not to require the owner of the illegal businesses to stop blocking the culvert.

Instead, they decided that the Gunderson family should start looking into homeless services.

The family of a disabled combat vet who had miraculously survived a suicide bomber was being referred to homeless shelters, so some fancy horses and two illegal businesses could stay dry.  That was the Commissioners’ best thinking.

On March 21, SSG Gunderson received this email from Sandra Romero’s assistant – 3-21-16 pilcher to gunderson email re homeless services

Cliff Moore’s unchecked power

Once we got into mid-April, Cliff Moore’s email responses were getting short, snarky and reckless.  He was apparently tired of hearing about all the broken laws that the county wasn’t acting on, that had caused the property damage and health risks at the Gunderson home and neighboring homes.

There was nowhere else for us to turn.  If Cliff Moore said that the county wasn’t going to act on it, then the county wasn’t going to act.  Moore had that kind of unrestrained power.

This was also less than a month away from Moore accepting his higher paying new position as Yakima City Manager.  That job could have been in the works at the time Moore emailed his April 13 response to Gunderson’s latest round of questions.

Moore could have figured he was off to greener pastures anyway, so it didn’t matter what he told Timm Gunderson—even in writing.

But it mattered.  Especially since Timm’s wife had already emailed Moore that they wanted to take legal action against the county for not acting on the damage being caused by the illegal businesses.

Cliff Moore’s April 13 email to SSG Gunderson—he said a lot in a few short words

The following are excerpts from an email exchange between SSG Gunderson and Cliff Moore.  Moore’s responses were on April 13, 2016.

Gunderson:  You say you are working on this issue, but more and more it looks like you are pushing the issue off so you don’t have to deal with it.  Then why have you made all these Laws, Titles and Codes if your not going to enforce them?

Moore:  Enforcement can only occur if there is a violation of county code.  If there were a violation of county code, appropriate steps would be taken.

Click here to see an in-process list of relevant county codes that had been violated on Perkins’ property.

Gunderson:  I am on the verge of being forced out of my home, my septic pump tank is underwater and my primary tank is almost underwater.  When that occurs I will run the risk of flooding inside.  My propane tank is in standing water.  When I run out of propane that’s it they can’t get to it to fill the tank.  I can’t cook or heat my home.  My stove is propane and so is my heater and we don’t have a fire place.  My well house has standing water in it as well.  There are also other homes and residents who are going thru the same….Not all of us have money to go get an apartment to live in until the water goes down.  What is this doing to my property value?

Moore:  The Commissioner’s Office is not in a position to determine property value.

Cliff Moore’s sarcastic response to the Timm Gunderson’s desperate situation speaks for itself.

Gunderson:  I cant go out and pay for rent and pay my mortgage.  I am a Disabled Combat Vet who was blown up in Iraq and live on a fixed income.  What are we suppose to do when you won’t enforce the rules that you put in place?

Moore:  You can pursue this issue as a civil matter.  I understand that Commissioner Romero’s assistant has provided you with information for two local nonprofit organizations that assist with legal issues.

Cliff Moore saying that Gunderson could pursue this as a civil matter is like calling 911 to report a burglary in progress, and hearing that the police won’t be coming–but you can sue the burglar later for the value of anything he stole.

And Commissioner Romero’s assistant hadn’t told him about organizations that assisted with legal issues.  As shown above, she gave Gunderson information for homeless shelters for him and his family.

This is from the email that included Cliff Moore’s April 13 responses to SSG Gunderson’s earlier questions –

4-13-16 response c. moore to sgt. gunderson re no violations, civil matter

In this same email, Moore responded to Gunderson’s question about using a submersible to locate the blockage.

Moore responded:

After considerable and careful staff analysis, and after checking with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, because this is all private property, the determination is still that the county has no legal authority to take or require that any action be taken.

Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim was unaware of any of this until I told him about it.

He requested that I send him all the information that I had about this matter, which I did.  He has forwarded my information to his Civil Division.

However, it will come as quite a happy surprise to all Thurston property owners that they are now free from all these land use regulations, because Moore wrote that the county has no legal authority over private property –

4-13-16 statement from c. moore to sgt. gunderson re - pao opinion on private property actions

What next for the Gunderson family?

Since Cliff Moore has moved on to Yakima, it’s unclear who at the Commissioners’ Office would take over this case.  Public Works Director Ramiro Chavez is now Interim County Manager.

With no checks and balances at the county, especially over the County Manager position, there is no resource for people who have been badly hurt by the county’s abuse of power, like in this case.

And lawsuits are expensive.  That’s why people like Cliff Moore are happy to suggest them to people he knows can’t afford it.

That’s why I’m here, writing this series of articles.

It is up to all of us as a community to make sure that the Commissioners know we won’t stand for this.

SSG Gunderson fought for us, and he paid a terribly high price.

It’s our turn to fight for him.

Click here for contact information for the Thurston County Commissioners and the Interim County Manager.

Click here to go to the facebook page, “Standing with SSG Gunderson.”

Click here to read Part Two, “Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes.”

Click here to read part 3, “County Lied About Laws that Would Have Saved Disabled Vet’s Home from Flooding.”

 

129 thoughts on “Disabled vet faces homelessness because Thurston County protects illegal businesses”

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  3. Out of curiosity, I’ve not seen anything in the comments or articles (both here and on the Olympian) that provide support for the allegation that Perkins intentionally blocked the drainage culverts. Does such support exist? Also, is there any support for the allegation that she refuses to unblock the culverts because it would flood her property as well? I’ve frequently driven that section of 507 in the winter, and there appears to be a good amount of water on both sides. So, what does Perkins have to gain by leaving the culvert obstructed? Also, is it the authors contention that she deliberately avoided filing for the necessary business permits in order to avoid the drainage review that would apparently be necessary? Has anyone spoken directly with Perkins? Not on anyone’s side, just trying to better understand the situation.

    1. Troy, I have multiple email communications between Cliff Moore and me, and Jon Tunheim and me, as well as the communications between Timm, Shannon, and Cliff Moore. At no time did any county officials assert that the blockage was not on Perkins’ property, or that it was accidental. Sara Perkins will not speak to anyone, since the conversation that Timm described in the article. We do know that part of the permit process is a drainage plan, and that drainage plan would not have allowed any kind of culvert blockage. We have a drainage plan for our restaurant — it had to be approved before we were allowed to build. We have to keep our drainage exactly that way, as we have for the last 15 years. When we started a little farmers market last year, in our restaurant’s side yard for a few hours a week in the summer months, we had to submit a drainage plan, even for the few gallons of water that would be used for us to splash over our veggies on our table, to keep them fresh. These drainage plans are very strict, and besides septic and water, they are often the reason that businesses are not permitted on parcels in unincorporated Thurston. Perkins had businesses in other locations before this, and would have been aware of all of this.

      1. Again, I’m not on anyone’s side, but it seems like a big leap to go from “no one at the county said it was an accidental blockage” to “Perkins blocked it intentionally.” Also, it still doesn’t answer whether Perkins has anything to gain from leaving it blocked.
        As for drainage plans, I’m not familiar with the process or requirements, but perhaps the review is only concerned with how drainage might effect county infrastructure. Perkins culvert, being on private land and with no record at county of its installation, might not fall under the purview of such reviews? Again, I am admittedly ignorant of these policies.

        1. Troy, my husband Steve and I built our restaurant in Rochester in 2000. We are very familiar with the county’s requirements for developing and maintaining a drainage system for commercial property. The county code clearly states that you can’t have any kind of blockage on your property, intentional or unintentional. The main concern for these codes is the impact on other properties. And Timm Gunderson has located documentation in the county records showing the culvert. Another lie on Cliff Moore’s part. We will be covering all of this in future articles. Stay tuned.

  4. i think both the county and the property with the illegal business should be sued. i also think the property that shares the boundaries with the person who blocked the overflow should unblock it.

  5. It seems that this whole region could do well with a designated Drainage District set up. The Chambers Creek are here in the Wiggins Road/Yelm Hey is an example. The County waffled on this one too with flooding as a result. This entity has a nominated Commissioner that oversees maintenance. This last year was hard on my well draining property. Two small transient ponds formed. Climate scientists have predicted more warmth and wetness for our region. Best to get busy preparing.

  6. Time to clean house in Thurston County…what do you think flooding an area does to the “protected” pocket gopher? More than building on a lot I would imagine.

  7. Regardless of the state of periodic flooding in the area, if a culvert is intentionally blocked to divert water onto someone else’s property is illegal. Thurston County and its Commissioners are historically awful and they have a track record of inconsistent attention and enforcement.

    As for the contention that Mr. Gunderson’s compensation is middle income level, so what? The point is that if the county simply enforced its own laws, he wouldn’t have to hire an attorney to force Perkins to follow the laws. Perkins has made a flooding problem worse for her neighbors for the benefit of her business.

    1. “Perkins has made a flooding problem worse for her neighbors for the benefit of her business.”

      That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. How does any of this have to do with her business? All of her structures are on high ground, and the high ground water would do nothing but benefit her pasture.

      1. Marty Jo, I think it would be very helpful for you to read the whole article. It is obvious from all your comments that you have not. All of your statements and questions are covered in the article. I know the article is long, but I tried to use simple language, and I linked all the applicable laws so that readers could see them.

  8. Unacceptable for our elected and appointed leaders to turn their back on a citizen of this county and country. Time to make major changes in the way our local government works. No wonder people are discouraged and feel helpless. We need to take back the power and vote everyone involved in this mess out of a job. This veteran deserves to live in peace he paid the highest price for it. Time we look at the little guy and bend over backwards to help him.

  9. Where’s Ecology, WDFW, or WA Dept. Of Revenue? Does this corruption and malfeasance go beyond Thurston County Government? Why won’t the Olympian touch this story of government abuse and favoritism?

    1. The state agencies all know…they will follow the lead of the local governments. Thurston County management is full of former DOE and WDFW employees, who still have influence in their old agencies. And the Olympian won’t touch anything I write about. I send them everything.

    2. She has horses. It’s a horse business. She wanted her pastor’s drive for her horses. She’s quoted saying that in the article

    3. The Olympian doesn’t cover it because their editor is one of Sarah’s best friends, Jerre redeker, who is basically cult like in her following of certain equestrian circles. She is very opinionated and often uses that newspaper 2 promote her ideas and Crush anyone who disagrees with her

  10. Just a few thoughts, so bare with me…. A few things may be at play.

    1: It is a known flood plain. If so, what could anyone really do to stop mother nature? Would it matter if anyone owned the horse business?

    Meaning whether or not someone occupied that property, would there be a reasonable expectation or assumption that seasonal flooding would happen, “down stream” anyway?

    2: If the county or town leaders are pulling the “it’s private property” line, then surely you have the right as a private property owner to divert the seasonal flood waters off your property as you see fit to protect your home.

    Meaning the city leaders theory and lackadaisical response about your offending neighbor should hold true for you as well. It’s your property, and “your problem” by their logic, so get hold of an excavator and start a seasonal pond on the “back 40” that will collect water every year.

    Lastly, there is a very little known rule, practically unwritten, that applies in many states that have been in effect for hundreds of years. If you are a land owner and you have livestock/farming activities on your private property, any meddling by the city or town that involves a loss to the small “farm”, for example, enforcing codes or statutes that results in the death of the farm animals, whom ever issued the citations trying to enforce that “code’, must be held liable for all damages that resulted in the change that caused the loss to that farm, and the “farmer” can in fact enter a claim against the issuer to be made whole again.

    This could be the reason the city avoids dealing with matters pertaining to livestock and anything that can be related to personal farming. Codes and statutes are “bent” or all together ignored for private property “farmers”.

    Unless, of course, there is gross neglect of animals or serious damage causing harm or injury to others… And again, you would have to prove that your farming neighbor is the sole cause of the flooding and that it never happened until the farming business came into existence. Being a known flood plain, that may be hard to prove.

    Basically, buy a few chickens and goats. Then go about doing what is necessary and proper to protect your “farm” by altering your property in a way that the water could be diverted or incorporated into your small farms use….

    1. No it is not a known flood plain. All the Homes here are classified as seasonal wetlands. The lower pastures due collect water every year during the rainy season. I have a seasonal pond on my property that also collects water as well. There is a Colvert off the main road that feeds storm water into that pond. Down the road there is another Colvert system that feeds overflow water to the rest of the wetland chain in the area.

      Let’s get into the History of my property and this area:

      During the rainy season Hwy 507 would flood and become impassable. So residents would have to use Keoppen Rd too bypass the flooded highway. Well Keoppen flooded out as well so in the 1930’s the WPA along with the Conservation Corp came in and put in a culvert system to divert water from one side of Koepen Rd to the other to keep the road from flooding and so residents could travel from Yelm to Rainier. Later on due to the high volume of Comerce that travels up and down 507 the State came in and built up 507 to eliminate the highway flooding issue.

      Around 1995 the Rossmiers subdivided there land into 5 acre tracks and Hodges come in and develop the tracks and built homes on them. During the building process there was a major flood in the area while these homes were being built. Hodges found out about the Colvert and cleared them at that time. The Colvert are set up so that when the water reaches a certain level it flows under Koeppen Rd and feeds the wetland chain on the other side and prevents flooding of the homes on the west side of Koeppen Rd.

      Mrs. Perkins is aware of this, due to the fact she was the second owner of my home. She has clearly stated “she does not want water on her property” and “she doesn’t have to look for or clear the colverts.” The issue is these colverts have been put in place and functioning for 70 years to prevent flooding. Yes, the pastures do collect water, that’s not the issue. The issue is, that the Property owners who have the colverts on their property have a responsibility to maintain them to prevent homes from being flooded. The colverts were designed as an overflow system to prevent just that.

    2. Benarah, first, please click into the long list of laws broken (in the article above) by having those two unpermitted businesses on the property, and all the many requirements about drainage and water there are for these kinds of businesses. Second, if you want to see how regular horse businesses that had broken no laws were treated by the county when Cliff Moore was head of that department, watch this video. The county made up rules that forced this woman to put down at-risk children’s rescue horses–all because the county officials lied. Cliff Moore was promoted to county manager after this happened under his direction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2og-xrNIvBY

    3. You are an idiot. When you do something on your property that causes damage to another property you are , in the state of Iowa, responsible for the damage to the other property and must fix it. Also, horses are not considered livestock. That stupid horse owner/vet had no right to block a storm culvert. They are there for a reason. There were probably several other things she could have done to take care of the water problem without flooding her neighbors.
      You sound just like one of those asshole politicians.
      We need to take care of out vets. They have given of themselves for us.

      1. Jewel, there was nothing “done” on Perkins’ property that damaged another property. Perkins did not flood her neighbors. Excessive rainfall and an unusually high water table flooded the neighbors…just like it has been for decades.

        I think you’d better learn ALL of the facts before you start calling somebody “stupid” and an “asshole.” Also, you should be aware that anyone who makes or forwards false statements that damage another’s business can be sued for slander.

        1. Marty Jo, you repeatedly state that you know specific details about the drainage system on Perkins’ property during this period of time. You present yourself as someone intimately involved.

        2. i think she should be sued for loss of habitat – meaning someone’s home. No one has the right to block anything and her behavior needs to be righted in a court of law with jurors.

  11. From a photo a friend of mine put on Facebook, it appears that much or some of the flooding mysteriously disappeared overnight. The FB page for Waystation Farm has also been taken down. Was the culvert unblocked??

    1. Karen, the Waystation website was taken down first, before the article ran. I had already sent screenshots of that website to Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim, which showed advertisements of services not in compliance with the county code.

      1. I didn’t look for the FB page before the article appeared, so I just presumed that the article appearing was what had resulted in the FB page being taken down. I haven’t bern out that way for a couple of weeks, but a friend drives past there daily. She posted a photo yesterday, showing the water had gone down, even though there had been a lake there the day before. I was hoping thst meant that the article, comments and sharing on FB, etc had put public pressure on Sara Perkins to do the right thing and unblock the culvert…either that, someone had gone out and unblocked it. I can only hope that the article, etc, did shame her into doing the decent thing!! I also hope that the article, etc, forces the county into action on her illegal activities!

    2. No, that’s called spinning the truth and sensationalism in the media. The photos posted in the June 29, 2016 article are from MONTHS ago. The water, as it always does, has receded and is nowhere near the structures in the front of the property.

      1. Marty Jo, what is your explanation for why Sara Perkins apparently broke multiple laws by not going through the legal permit process? Each of those laws is a separate misdemeanor. You obviously are very familiar with Sara Perkins and her property, and you are obviously very emotionally involved with this story. Since you are so familiar with everyone involved, can you explain why Sara Perkins took so many risks, having two illegal businesses all this time? You appear to be an expert on this vet and her businesses, and her property.

  12. I used to live at the house right next door to where the gunderson’s live. I have photos of the water being waist high in the back yard. That area if considered by the county to be a “wetlands” meaning homeowners can do nothing to keep it from flooding. It has flooded there every year . People who sell always sell in the fall when it is dry so the new owners won’t know it floods. It has nothing to do with Waystation Farm, they have ALWAYS been high and dry. The developer that built all those houses told everyone that same story, blocked drainage system, they got it all cleaned out, and should be good to go with no flooding this next winter. THEY LIED!! I lived there back in 1997 and I know the people who lived in this house then, and the flooding was the same every year for them as well. Unfortunately, it is a case of Buyer Beware.

    1. Jane. this is up to the Hearing Examiner. Those laws were passed for a reason. Nobody at Thurston County denied that the blockage was on Perkins’ property, and that it was the cause of the flooding at the other houses. I also have photos of water at Waystation, with a prior owner. The county has requirements for businesses that are different than for residences.

      1. It has been “blocked” since before the developers built the houses. They built the houses on a flood plain, Thurston County deemed that whole area a Wetlands so none of the homeowners could do anything about it except live with it or sell. The property that is now Waystation was high and dry except for a few small areas for decades, long before Perkins moved in. It used to be an Arabian Farm and before that, I think it was a Thoroughbred Farm. I am a disabled vet, I sympathize with the guy. I understand his pain. We went through all this with the county when we lived there and no one was even living at Waystation. It was vacant, so there was nobody to block the drainage. How do you explain that? It has always been a horse business there or it has been vacant. The flooding has been constant, whether someone lives there or not.

        1. Jane Doe, the previous horse businesses at that parcel have not been legal. The last horse business before Perkins was owned by someone with upper-level connections with JZ Knight and the Ramtha School of Enlightenment I have a full record of owners of both properties involved. The Waystation property changes hands frequently. I also have photographs of Waystation before Perkins that showed property that was not high and dry–and these were from advertisements from the previous horse business. I also have information from a former neighbor who remembers when he says Waystation was a swamp. The law requires that Sara Perkins apply for a special use permit for each of her businesses, which can’t operate on the same parcel. That is a long process, which also involves input from neighbors, besides a detailed plan of all drainage. It was up to Perkins to learn about the requirements of starting each of her businesses, before she bought the parcel. My husband and I have gone through this process ourselves. We were not in favor of the Commissioners making each code violation a misdemeanor. But they passed Title 26, so each of her violations is a misdemeanor, by law.

          1. Jane Doe sounds like she’s the owner of the Horse Farm, not a neighbor. Shameful lies.

  13. I remember the first winter after this house was built. It flooded then, all the way up 123rd which is across the street. The contractor was sued and folded after building several other homes on the same flood plane. Should never have been allowed to build there in the first place.

    1. JAF, Sara Perkins was responsible for applying for permits for each of her businesses, before she started operating either one. We have lived in a flood plain for the last 20 years, near the meeting of the Chehalis and Black Rivers. Appropriate planning and facilities are required by the Hearing Examiner before either of Perkins’ businesses can be approved in the county. She chose to start both of her businesses at that location, illegally. During my months of communication with the county, nobody asserted that the blockage was not on Perkins’ property, and nobody asserted that the blockage was accidental.

    2. That is absolutely correct — the Gensons would be better served taking action against the builder, seller, and the county (which approved the development).

        1. Marty Jo, please read the whole article. It explains why it is up to the business owner to have a drainage plan approved by a Hearing Examiner (a type of judge) before a permit can be given to a business in that area. There is also a public comment time that is required for the permit process. This is a very normal process that everyone else manages to go through, before getting their permit. I link all the laws that explain that. Please try to read the article and the laws.

  14. tell your story on a go fund me page ,im sure other vets and myself will help to get lawyer money , alot of people would help !

  15. Has any one posted the pictures of the damage on the Google search page in reviews? I for one look at those comments and would not be likely to use a business that is causing damage to another person, veteran or otherwise.

    1. I would make certain of the facts, ALL the facts, before I judge anyone. The Gensons may find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit against THEM. It would be very easy to prove slander when the statements made are not correct and people like you are making it clear that Perkins’ veterinary practice is being monetarily damaged. Even people who FORWARD such information can be sued. I would caution everyone in this thread to be very sure that anything they say is factual.

      1. Marty Jo, Sara Perkins was responsible for getting her permits before starting two businesses at that location. My husband and I went through the process when we built our restaurant. People really do survive doing the regular thing and getting permits, and making their businesses legal. If Sara wanted to prove that she was not responsible for the flooding, she would have a documented and approved drainage plan on file at the county, like the rest of us who are business owners in unincorporated Thurston County. These are all public records. It is perplexing that you apparently think it doesn’t matter that people break laws.

      2. Marty Jo, you aren’t making too much sense right now. You keep mixing up the Gensons with the Gundersons, and you are confusing a lot of other things, too. Nobody is going to be sued for forwarding things like this. Also–I spent a lot of time researching JZ Knight and watching her videos for all my articles about her, and I am afraid you are starting to sound a lot like her when she would get all emotional and weepy and paranoid, after consuming the contents of multiple wine bottles during her “live” performances.

  16. Start a Change.org petition against the county and the county’s representatives. Thousands of people will stand up for you which will give you additional leverage and perhaps some willing legal representation.

  17. it is illegal to block or even alter a culvert or water way on your property when they did that they became responsible for any and all damages caused by the water you diverted — so go to the city or county and file your complaints in writing and file a law suit against her and both of her businesses then file against the county —- you need a good lawyer the VA could help you with that

  18. This stinks. Because of the types of businesses involved and the commisioner involved one might suspect this may have to do with the way the county commisioners are swayed by JZ Knight and her followers. Would not be the first time things are pushed through ignoring local laws and rules to the detriment of the little guy.

      1. The previous owner at Waystation was active in the Ramtha School of Enlightenment. Her book was sold at RSE, and the RSE children’s school toured Waystation when she owned it. Waystation was an illegal business when she owned it, as well…which follows JZ Knight’s teaching, “geniuses abide by no laws” (March 2011). The previous owner posted a video that showed that Waystation was definitely not “high and dry” when she owned it. The video also showed her horses grazing close to a stream with no barrier, which is also a violation for an unpermitted business. How could you not know that, when you know so much about the property?

    1. This simple idea seems to have escaped everyone involved. Heck, the federal EPA might find this interesting.

  19. I talked to my husband and he was saying that my in laws had the same type of problem once. His suggestions were; a class action law suit or civil suit, creating a new ditch that drains your property back over to hers (hire someone to advise you on how to do it if you are unsure), unblocking the culvert when she is not home (but you have to be careful about being on her property), a freedom of speech action (where people picket in front of her business). Just a couple more ideas to try to help you. Best wishes!

    1. Class action law suits are suits brought on by a large group of people for a single offense. That does not apply here.

    1. Amen, I would bet this lady who owns the business has a friend or family member working for the county. Any other time they would be more than happy to ruin someone who dare go against their laws. This is the one time, that I think the county should have actually gone after someone for doing something. This county is such a joke. Good thing they can all be voted out of office this November, don’t forget to vote for some real change.

  20. Fyi I looked into her business license and she has none her medical faculty as described on her page has to be licensed with the dol and dor she has 0… This needs to be reported if she has not been reporting revenue on this business they will sue her on behalf of the state of washington and sounds like it would be enough to shut her business down! Not to mention the dol will impose a fine and or revoke her license as a medical clinic!

    1. Excellent comment. I work at DOL as an investigator but not in the area you mentioned. Start with Business and Professions Division. Someone should file a complaint (anyone can file a complaint!) for unlicensed activity. The state will follow up on it. They will take action against her and levy fines when it becomes apparent that she is operating a business without proper licensing. That might at least help somewhat. They will also work with DO ar that might at least help somewhat. They will also work with DOR to verify that she has not been paying taxes. Negative comments on YELP and other social media go along way as well! If there is enough bad publicity in the media, politicians will take action if it makes them look bad. You got a hit them where it counts.

  21. I would definitley call “Get Jesse” and see if he can’t help. They stopped by our previous property two years in a row to tell us to pull tansy, which was not that much, or they would fine us but neglected to notify our neighbors to do the same so our problem would never go away. Interesting that these things are randomly enforced. Is there a way to unblock the culvert? I am sure this has already been thought of. Maybe we can hold signs and protest her business? Also I am wondering if there is a personal or business relationship amongst the business owner and the elected officials? I sure hope something can be done for these property owners. Thank you for your service SSG Gunderson!

  22. You may want to take this up with “Jesse” and all the news media people – I would contact Jesse on your behalf, but the situation requires you to do that. I was appalled when I read this as I retired as Property Manager for Pierce County and it would have been taken care of immediately on my watch. If you are going to have laws, then you have to enforce them. Thurston County, in essence, is telling you the you can break their laws and there will be no consequences if you are among their personal favorites. Please take it up with all the local and regional news media and I think your problem will be solved as quickly as possible. Good luck, our prayers are with you and yours and most of all Thank you for your service to our country.

  23. Have you checked with DNR or WDFW regarding the blocked culvert? It’s possible there’s a violation of the RCWs they enforce & may be able to help.

  24. They should start a Change.org petition to make the county enforce their own laws – or at least show the corruption that is running amok in Thurston County. Funny how people in authority can suddenly get things done when their dirty deeds are revealed to the world.

  25. Tim, I’m also a proud Vietnam Combat Veteran and homeowner in Lacey. What can I do? These businesses that operate within Thurston County that are not registered, licensed properly must be stopped. They are destroying our economy by not following the simple rules which all of us must follow. county officials which allow this must be removed from these powerful positions.

    1. He needs to report it to the DOR since she is operating as a vet clinic and the DOL because she is not licensed to run such a clinic!

        1. Her address on her state business license is wrong for the vet business. The first thing I did when Timm called me in March was to check her business and corporate records with the state. Business owners are required to have accurate information on their business licenses. Her businesses are unpermitted with the county, which makes them illegal.

  26. This is outrageous! I’d also like to help any way that I can. I’ll start by sharing the link to this article.

    Thank you for your service and your sacrifice, SSG Gunderson.

    1. And we need to share to Kiro, King and Komo news. Over and over if we have to until one of the picks up the story.

  27. You know, there is a whole lot more to this story than is being told in this article.

    I was born and raised just down the road from both of these properties. I’ve lived here all of my 60 years. The home with the flooding issue is one of the properties on the Johnson Fill, which has ALWAYS flooded. Some years worse than others, but it is wetlands and is a known high ground water area. This particular house is built on the lowest piece of land on the fill. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, Sara Perkins used to live in this same house or one next to it. The property where she is located now is the old Waystation Ranch, built back in the 70’s or early 80’s. It has always been a horse facility. ALWAYS. When Sara moved there, she added the small clinic. When I hear the term “luxury horse businesses” and that they’re “operating illegally,” it makes me very skeptical of the hidden agenda of this whole article. So, a small vet clinic and a facility that ONLY boards horses on layup and rehab, you’re saying are “luxury horse businesses”?? Give me a break!! That is ridiculous and extremely misleading.

    Now, I am sympathetic with the homeowner. All flood and high ground water issues are supposed to be disclosed to buyers if the purchase is made via a realtor. If it was not, then the homeowner should have recourse with the realtor. People who have lived her as long as I have are familiar with areas that have high ground water and flooding issues — all you have to do is see that there are cottonwoods or other vegetation that like to have their “feet wet.” It’s a dead giveaway. And the Johnson Fill has been a “giant pond” for many years. It USED to drain over onto the property across Hwy 507. Has that culvert been blocked? The property across Koeppen Rd from this house ALSO flooded, and they are in NO way connected to the Waystation. Parts of MY property flooded this year, too, from HIGH GROUND WATER.

    I’m sorry that Mr. Gunderson is having flooding issues. But if there was an illegally blocked culvert I believe the county would have addressed that issue with that landowner. But the fact that this article demonizes someone who is NOT violating any county codes (contrary to what this article implies) is very disturbing. Melissa Genson, what is the REAL story behind this inflammatory article?

    1. Marty Jo, the real story is that both of Sara Perkins’ businesses are operating without permits, and without permission by the Hearing Examiner. The previous Waystation owners operated without a permit, as well, and photos show flooding at Waystation before Perkins owned the parcel. And the county has a recent history of preferential treatment of certain property owners, as I have written about before, and is in evidence by the $12 million jury verdict against the county in the Maytown case–where Cliff Moore was a principal player. Perkins was required to get permits for her businesses, and she did not. An unpermitted business is a business that is operating illegally. Title 26 made each of her violations a separate misdemeanor offense. Based on documentation in county files (or lack of documentation), Perkins is violating multiple codes. Perkins advertises luxury horse businesses, with luxury services. I am going by what she has put on the internet herself. If her businesses are what you say they are, then her online advertisements contain false information. Her Waystation website is now offline, but I have screenshots of her advertisements, her non-medical services offered, and her luxury services offered.

      1. Melissa, I’m sorry you’re having issues, but did you not know that your property had serious flood issues long before Sara Perkins bought the Waystation? This last winter and spring have been the worst with regards to groundwater flooding. And I am telling you that I know the history of your property — LONG before ANY of those houses were built. My family homesteaded less than a mile from your house — in the 1850’s. Your property, and your neighbors’, has ALWAYS had water issues. And I have a hard time accepting that property that floods should have water diverted other peoples’ properties. Yes, when Bill and Betsy still lived at the Waystation, the lower pasture would have standing water. The high ground water comes up on THAT side of the road, too. But, why should you be able to divert water to someone else’s property to increase THEIR flooding?

      2. Help me understand how “the real story” of Sara Perkins allegedly operating without permits is causing flooding on your property. The real problem is that your home, and several of your neighbors’ homes, are built on wetlands and areas of high ground water hazard. Did you know that they county info states that your property is 80% wetlands? The house was built in 1998 — mine was built in 2005 and the county required location of our well, house, and barn in the areas not designated high ground water hazard (we don’t have wetlands). So I’m wondering how your house was ever built at all considering your entire property is designated wetlands/wetlands buffer/high ground water hazard. This is the first year that you have had ground water so high that it has much of your property underwater. And it is high ground water, NOT storm water runoff. Big difference. And you are not the only ones with this problem. Look at the places on Morris Road near 148th. They’re under water every year. Sara Perkins didn’t cause your flooding — Mother Nature did. I think instead of blaming your neighbor, you would be better off working with the county to see if there are ways to mitigate your problems. When you have a well and outbuildings in a wetland, they’re going to flood at some point. One of the aspects of the whole article that bothers me the most is that your situation is being sensationalized because your husband is a disabled veteran. My nephew is a disabled veteran, too — he was severely burned rescuing his buddies when they were blown up in Iraq. He lives with his disability and PTSD. But he doesn’t expect special treatment or attention because of his disability. How about the military family that just lost their home on the Nisqually River because of erosion of the river bank? Their home was torn down, insurance didn’t cover it, and they are still expected to pay the mortgage. You still have your home, you can mitigate the well issue, and you can seek help for a long term solution. The sensationalism of the article and trying to get even with your neighbor by crying out, “She’s operating her businesses illegally!” is not going to fix your problem. But it is leaving a very bad taste in many peoples’ mouths.

        BTW, Sara Perkins is not a friend of mine, nor is she my vet. I don’t even know her personally. So I’m not “sticking up for her.” I just have issues with how this is being addressed, and the article looks like it belongs in the National Enquirer. The author is not doing you any favors.

        1. Perkins is my vet. Given her fees, she can certainly afford a business license. And, having been to the facility, I would say that “luxury” is a good word to describe the horse barns.

          While I would agree with you that people ought to do some basic research and know whether or not the property they’re considering purchasing is in a flood plain, I don’t believe that their lack of foresight excuses Perkins’ actions. It seems that you’re saying that don’t know if the victim’s home would have flooded anyhow in this year’s rains. Maybe, but we know that it didn’t flood their first year in the house, but did flood after Perkins blocked the culvert. Blocking the culvert is unacceptable (and actionable by the county). Perkins should be working with the neighbors to find a solution that works for everyone, not shrugging her shoulders when her actions contribute to the neighbors losing their home.

          1. Just because it didn’t flood the first year doesn’t mean it’s NEVER going to flood. And can anybody verify that Gundersons are losing their home?

        2. Yes!! The house was built prior to 1998, because it was already there when I moved in next door in 1996, but they are designated as wetlands. There is nothing that the county is going to do about it. SOme years it gets higher than others. I, too am a disabled veteran on a fixed income. And, btw, Mr. Gunderson is living on 100%VA disability which is $2906 per month plus Social Security which, given his 11 years in service should be around $1500 per month. Not exactly poverty level income.

          1. Seriously??? Ur going off his income?? Did u not pay attention?? He has a family. Which we all know is not cheap. An neither is owning a home. Plus you have mouths to feel and bills to pay. So if that’s part of your argument then I am appalled that some one would stoop so low. Not saying I am on either side of the argument but that “statement” was justifiably rude.

          2. Jane doe,

            You really tried to post my income? Well your wrong about my SSI it a lot lower then what you want to post! What does my income have to do with people doing the right thing? To clarify, yes I knew my lower pasture collected water as well as my seasonal pond. That water dries up every year. This year was a lot different, I have spent countless hours researching this area and going threw county and state archives. I’m not going to repeat myself, read the above reply. I’m sorry you didn’t know about why the colverts were put in, in the first place. I’m sorry you never fought to fix the issue. I don’t have a problem with water in my pasture during winter. I have a problem with blocked over flow colverts that are suppose to prevent my home from being flooded. I have a problem with the neighbor, once informed about them saying “I don’t have to un plug them” and drive by several times a day seeing that mine and my neighbors home, barn, septic, well pump house, and the street being flooded. That’s not acting communal, that’s being selfish!

            So since we are on the attack:
            Aren’t you the neighbor that left before I bought my house that, tore all the sheet rock off the walls and took every piece of copper piping and wiring out of the house? According to Thurston County Sherriff Officers that showed up you stated “you were done with that property and we’re going to get every last cent out of it that you could.” Then you left it in shambles, diminishing the property value of the homes in the surrounding area, and leaving your father to pay the Morgage until the bank foreclosed on it? Just curious, and you attack me? Let that one sink in for a moment!

        3. Marry Jo,

          You said something in this post that struck me. We were taught in the Military “Stength in Numbers,” one man cannot fight alone. This is not a pity party, this is reaching out to a local community and Brothers in Sisters in Arms to have a larger voice. There is a saying ” I Got Your Six” think about that. Your son is one of my Brother even though we don’t know each other. I was blown up in Iraq as well, and a large part of my story is not told in this Article because, well quite frankly what I truly indured is for me, and the Brothers and Sisters I indured it with. This is a case of injustice and a reporter stuck up for my situation. Those military families that need help, all’s they have to do is ask. There is a whole JBLM community that will help. If this situation worsens I will be in there boat, I’m trying to stop that from happening to me. What, is it wrong to stand up against injustice? Is it wrong to hold people accountable for their actions? Is it wrong to stand up to people who want to impose there will upon you? What happens to peace, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness? What happened to democracy where voices matter?

          You speak of putting a bad taste in people’s mouths because it comes to light that there is corruption in Local Government, people have no regards for there neighbors, and laws are being violated? So let me ask you a question, what would you do if our role were reversed? Thought so! You would want the wrongs righted and people held accountable.

          1. Yes, people should be held accountable for their actions. But, you’d better make darn sure whose “actions” are responsible for your situation before you falsely accuse the wrong people. Your property has always flooded, long before Perkins allegedly blocked any culverts. Your beef should be with the seller, the builder and the county that issued permits to build on ground that floods. I have a high ground water area identified on my property, and the county WOULD NOT PERMIT US for any well or structures on that part of the property.

            Standing up for people’s rights and democracy are all great actions. However, you’d better make sure when you are “standing up” that you are not violating OTHERS’ rights.

    2. Exactly!! I lived in one of those houses, right next door to this one. They all flood and have ever since they were built. Thurston County has deemed that area as Wetlands and Protected Marshes. It floods whether there is a horse owner on Waystation Ranch or not. For years it was vacant, and guess what??? We ALL STILL FLOODED!! This is not a new issue, it is not localized to Mr. Gunderson, and if you look at the pictures posted of his raised garden beds, you can see the summer flooding at the back of the pasture, the part that NEVER GOES AWAY!! This article is a thinly veiled attack on Cliff Moore, Sara Perkins and Thurston County. Admittedly, Mr. Moore is a horse’s ass and has always had his own personal agenda, having had to deal with him in his up-and-coming days in the 4H office, and he definitely has it coming, but attacking on this front will not produce the result that is desired.

      1. It is appalling that you would attack Mr. Gunderson and try to mention his income. Shame on you Jane Doe! It looks like you have lived there for 20 years? What proactive approach have you taken to correct the problem? The are you speak of is considered an Agricultural Wetland not a protected marsh, according to the County Assesors website. Also reading Mr. Gunderson’s reply above, isn’t that Colvert in place to prevent all your home’s, septic, and well houses from flooding? I drive by and I have noticed that the water in your area was considerably higher this year, I have never seen it that high since I’ve been in the area since 2004. So it sounds like to me the you lack the audacity, determination, courage, and will power to try to fix the problem. Maybe you should stand with your neighbor while he is fighting for his self, his family, and all of you around him. This does not just benefit him, it benefits you too! Quit being a hater and stand with a neighbor who wants what’s right and “pardon my French” has the Ball’s to make your community a better place.

        1. I find it rather ironic that you would shame someone for posting somebody’s income (which is public record for many city, county, state, and federal employees/retirees), but you think nothing of slandering a person’s business and, in turn, costing them significant income. I think that the Gundersons need to redirect their attacks to the businesses and entities that got them in this fix to begin with — and that is NOT Perkins.

          1. Marty Jo, slander is an oral statement. Libel is a written statement. I think you meant to say “libel.” Please specify which statements you believe are libel, and we will proceed from there. And since you state that Perkins has been deprived of significant income over the last week, you appear to know a lot about her personal finances at this time.

      2. Jane doe,

        That photo of my raised beds was taken in May of 2014 right after they were put in. Our pastures and seasonal pond dry up every year. My neighbors have their pastures Hayed every year and I can drive my truck all the way back to 507 in the summer time. Please try to make factual statements.

        1. ” Our pastures and seasonal pond dry up every year. ”

          NOT TRUE!!! There have been MANY years that the water did not dry up at all!! You were able to drive all the way back to 507 only because the fill happened to be dry enough that particular summer. Yes, your neighbors hay their fields, but not always their ENTIRE fields. High ground water zones make GREAT hay because there is so much moisture in the soil that you don’t need to irrigate. And there are MANY hay fields in this area that have high ground water.

          I’m curious, how many winters have you lived at you current home? I think you are digging yourself into a deep hole with the approach you’re taking to this whole issue.

    3. Look at the reply above by myself. We are not talking about the land being wetlands, we are talking about where overflow water goes and the legalities that go with owning properties here in our area!

      1. I think that, rather than attacking someone for a culvert that is located on their property (not the county’s property), you should focus on how YOU can mitigate the issue on YOUR property. Storm water drainage ponds are a requirement for all developments now. You need to get with your neighbors and see how you all can create a pond where the excess water can go. Why should you be allowed to divert it to another person’s property? The county should determine if a culvert can be put in to mitigate your side of Koeppen Road without impacting any other neighbors who would not otherwise flood. Remember, the Waystation property is considerably higher than yours, so the water is more likely to flood your neighbor across Koeppen with the white vinyl fence. And since they nearly flooded out of their home even with an allegedly blocked culvert, if you are successful in getting the culvert “unblocked”, are you going cause even MORE water to be diverted to the white vinyl fence property? Will YOU then be personally responsible for any future damage to their property? Your whole approach — the sensationalism and untruths by the author of the article, attacking your neighbor’s “illegally permitted businesses” (which has NOTHING to do with your flood issue), and blaming the county, Perkins, and everyone else for your problem – is nothing short of attempting to incite an uprising.

    4. No horse business is luxury, and This Vet is definitely not making enough money to be luxury. I bought my home during the middle of Winter to ensure there would be no standing water, and I made sure it drained well. The last property I rented had standing water and it was wetlands, it sucked. If the culvert was blocked, why hasnt the flooded homeowner gone and just unblocked it?

        1. Marty Jo, again, please take the time to read the article. I know it’s long, and I know it has a lot of attachments and links to laws and such. But your question here was already discussed in the article.

  28. What can a combat veteran like myself do to help? I live in thurston county and I would love to get involved.

  29. We are part of the flooding that occurred, we live across from the Way Station, we had to move our horses off the property because the water rose into yard and flooded our barn, boarding was expensive but there was no dry spot on the farm for the horses.

      1. The beginning of what? More inaccurate and inciteful articles from you? You aren’t doing the Gundersons any favors. And you are wide open for a slander suit.

        The Gundersons need help — they don’t need you to make it even harder for them.

        1. Timm, one agency I haven’t seen mention anywhere in this discussion is the EPA. Marty Jo said in his own explanation of history of roads, flooding, and flood control of the area that the culverts where installed to control flooding and runoff. Big difference between normal wetlands and runoff water. If a government agency installed the culverts to control runoff then Perkins would have no right to block that flow, even on her own property. A friend of mine was clearing some brush from a runoff ditch on his property and the EPA told him he couldn’t do that as it would affect the flow and possibly other properties which in his case is nonsense. Has the EPA been involved? If not, check into it. I work construction all over the country and wetlands are usually an issue that always requires a study and a permit. Anything that can alter the wetlands and is not covered by the permit is a violation. If we find a snake or a nesting bird we have to wait for them to leave or be properly relocated. Swarming bees have shut down jobs because we aren’t allowed to bother them. I’m not an expert any more than some of the blowhards in this thread and certainly have no personal interest in any of the parties involved although a few here would seem to. I’m just a fellow veteran trying to help. Seems to me a road and culvert system engineered and installed by either the state or county for the purpose of flood and runoff control should be off limits to tampering regardless where it is located no more than you could tap into a gas line simply because it’s buried on someone’s property.

          I found this link on a vets page on FB. Doubt I will see follow up comments and I’m sure there will be some, mainly by the all knowing MJ. Hope this gets resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Good luck brother. Someone has your six. Hope you find them.

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