All posts by Melissa Genson

My husband Steve and I raised four children in Thurston County. In addition to South Thurston Journal, we also own Thornfield Acres, a small organic farm, and Mason Dixon Line, a small restaurant in Rochester. I'm also a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor.

County lied about laws that would have saved disabled vet’s home from flooding

This is Part Three of my series, “Standing with SSG Gunderson.”  

Click here to read Part One, “Disabled vet faces homelessness because Thurston County protects illegal businesses.”
Click here to read Part Two, “Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes.”
Click here to go to the facebook page, “Standing with SSG Gunderson.”

It has been nearly six months since disabled combat vet SSG Timm Gunderson first contacted Thurston County about health risks to his family, and damage to his home and property.

SSG Timm Gunderson
SSG Timm Gunderson

His home had become surrounded by polluted flooding.  His family was faced with homelessness. They were losing their running water, their septic system, and their propane–their sole source of heat and cooking.

Other neighbors were flooded, as well.

Gunderson and I have both had multiple  communications with county officials since then about his family’s crisis.

The flooding was apparently caused by his neighbor Sara Perkins diverting water flow off her property, which kept her her two illegal luxury horse businesses dry.

SSG Gunderson states that Perkins told him that she had blocked up the water flow on her property to protect her horse businesses.

SSG Gunderson is on a fixed income, after becoming 100% disabled from a suicide bomber attack on New Years Eve 2003.

His fixed income wasn’t enough to pay the mortgage and rent another place at the same time.

Gunderson still has stagnant water on his property from last winter’s flooding, where his property is normally dry in the summer.

He is afraid for what will happen this coming fall, when the rains return.

After four months of receiving emails and evidence from both SSG Gunderson and me, the county finally shut down the two illegal businesses.

But that didn’t help Timm Gunderson, his family, and his neighbors. They still needed the blockage removed.

County officials “brainstorm” to help the Gunderson family with ridiculous suggestions

The County Commissioners “brainstormed” to come up with ideas for SSG Timm Gunderson and his family.

The result of all their brainstorming was to refer the family to homeless services.

Other county officials offered similarly helpful advice for Gunderson’s family.  They suggested putting a port-a-potty on their flooded property to replace their septic.

The county officials advised that the teenage daughter didn’t really need to shower before going to school.  They also thought that the family didn’t need clean water for washing clothes and dishes.

And since the propane company couldn’t get through the flood to refill their tank in the dead of winter, the county suggested that Gunderson get a small portable tank and run a propane hose through the flooded water to heat their house.

An interesting idea.  Also highly dangerous and probably illegal.

But with all this helpful advice over the last six months, the county officials repeatedly stated that they were powerless to do anything about the apparent blockages on Perkins’ property that were causing the flooding. Continue reading County lied about laws that would have saved disabled vet’s home from flooding

Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes

Part two in a series on SSG Timm Gunderson’s battle with Thurston County.  

Click here to read part one, “Disabled Vet Faces Homelessness because Thurston County Protects Illegal Businesses.”  

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

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

A Summary of the Background

SSG Timm Gunderson’s family has been faced with homelessness from polluted flooding since winter.  A neighbor, Sara Perkins, had blocked drainage on her property, which has been prone to flooding.

The blockage kept Perkins’ two new luxury horse businesses dry, while her neighbors’ properties were severely flooded.

Neither of these luxury businesses operated legally.  County law even prohibited both of these businesses, Equine Medical Services and Waystation Farm, from operating on the same parcel.

From equinemedservices.com
From equinemedservices.com, April 25, 2016
From waystationfarm.com, April 12, 2016
From waystationfarm.com, April 12, 2016

Before becoming permitted, a business in rural Thurston County needs to have a detailed stormwater drainage plan approved by a Hearing Examiner, showing how the business won’t harm neighbors.

SSG Gunderson’s house was surrounded by polluted water last winter –

Gunderson front steps lead into flood
Gunderson front steps lead into flood
Gunderson barn
Gunderson barn

Meanwhile, Perkins’ Waystation Farm was high and dry –perkins fb 3-29-16 (2)

County has two sets of rules, two kinds of justice

For months, Thurston County Commissioners and management refused to step in and enforce their own laws to shut down these illegal businesses that have wreaked havoc throughout their rural Rainier neighborhood.

Instead, the Commissioners suggested that Gunderson’s family seek homeless services–meanwhile allowing the two illegal businesses to continue to operate, and continue to flood out the neighborhood.

Four months after the businesses were reported, the county finally shut them down.

However, the county still won’t hold the business owner accountable for the damage caused by the blockage on her property. They won’t even make her remove the blockage.

Cliff Moore
Cliff Moore

This spring, County Manager Cliff Moore sent sarcastic and disturbing emails to Gunderson, who had continued to plead with the county to enforce their own laws to save his home.

Cliff Moore has recently taken a large pay increase to become Yakima’s new City Manager.  His salary is reported to be between $165,000-$195,000.

SSG Gunderson has a 100% disability rating from the VA, after miraculously surviving a suicide bomber in Baghdad on New Years Eve 2003.   He is currently living on Social Security Disability.

Here is Timm Gunderson’s jeep after the attack –gunderson jeep

SSG Timm Gunderson
SSG Timm Gunderson

It has now been five months since Timm Gunderson first reported the damage and health risks caused by the two illegal businesses.

The county has still taken no action requiring the owner of the illegal businesses to fix her drainage.

New county manager Ramiro Chavez continues to insist that the county is powerless to enforce their own laws in this case, even though they enforce the same laws very harshly against others.

To read a detailed report of all these events, click here.

So why is this happening, in a county that is famous for strict and punitive enforcement of extreme regulations?

Why does the county fabricate phony rules to shut down some law abiding businesses, while turning a blind eye to lawbreaking, damage and pollution by other businesses?

In short, why are there two sets of rules?  Two kinds of justice?

To understand that, you have to understand the County Commissioner’s vision for south Thurston County. Continue reading Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes