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May 6, 2004

Message from the Governor

Our men and women in public safety—law enforcement officers and firefighters—are always there when we need help. They are always looking after us and protecting us. Troopers and police officers are often first at the scene of accidents—treating the injured, protecting the vulnerable, searching out the truth, and, sometimes, comforting the dying. Firefighters often risk their lives, choosing to place the safety of others above their own and courageously protecting property and communities from danger.

We will never forget the heartbreaking valor and sacrifice of the officers and firefighters who rushed into the doomed World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001, undoubtedly knowing that there was a strong chance they would not make it back out. But they rushed in to help anyway.

These people are heroes, sometimes paying for their heroism with their lives.

This week we were sadly reminded of this somber reality. Yesterday I was scheduled to attend the Washington State Patrol Memorial Ceremony to honor the brave state troopers we have lost. In the 83-year history of the Washington State Patrol, 26 officers have made that supreme sacrifice.

But instead, I attended yesterday’s memorial service for Tacoma Police Officer James G. Lewis. Officer Lewis gave his life in the line of duty last week protecting his community, rushing to back up a fellow officer on a high-risk traffic stop. He lived those final moments the way he lived his entire life: A good man doing the right thing.

Quote of the Week
“Our communities depend so much on officers like Jim Lewis. So his loss is even harder to bear. We cast our shadows in a colder world without him. Yet the world is a better, safer, more humane place for his time here. And Jim lives on in our memories and in our hearts.”
—Governor Locke, May 5, 2004

Officer Lewis’ death is a grim and heartbreaking reminder that while our men and women in uniform keep us safe, they face constant danger in many forms, every single day. A reminder that there is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop, a “routine” fire response, or a “routine” backup call or patrol. Danger never takes a holiday for these public servants.

Historian Daniel J. Boorstin observed that “the hero reveals the possibilities of human nature.”

The “possibilities of human nature” are so painfully evident in the lives and deaths of the law enforcement officers and firefighters we have lost. They died in the line of duty. Their lives ended as they worked to make sure their fellow citizens’ lives continued safely. The human possibilities they embodied include selflessness and sacrifice, valor and virtue, honor and humility, love of others.

These heroes in public safety answer a sense of duty to the rest of us. No one can say exactly where this sense of duty resides, only that it is deep within certain people. Such people place the needs of society above their own needs. They are drawn to public service. They are the ones who always want to help, and are not afraid to get involved. They know and accept the dangers because they find fulfillment in assisting others. These brave men and women want to make a difference—and they do. Every day, one person and one situation at a time.

At yesterday’s Washington State Patrol Memorial Ceremony a new granite memorial was dedicated, with the names of fallen troopers etched in stone. Just as the memory of all of the brave souls in uniform who have died protecting us will remain etched in our hearts forever.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor's Priorities
News Highlights

Working Together to Promote Summer Reading
Governor Locke met with youth services librarians and staff from more than 40 Washington public and tribal libraries on May 5 to discuss the need for a unified promotion of summer reading in Washington. The Governor has proposed working in partnership with libraries on the 2004 Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge. “I believe my summer reading challenge can work in collaboration with the many good programs that take place in your libraries,” the Governor said. Gov. Locke and librarians “Working together, I believe we can increase the awareness of the importance of summer reading for our young people.” The Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge began in 2002. Children are encouraged to 15 hours or more between June and Labor Day. Participants receive a certificate of recognition from Governor Locke and are eligible for prize drawings. More information about the reading challenge is available at the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge website.

Housing for Farm Workers
Governor Locke announced on May 4 state support for a Douglas County project to provide additional seasonal housing for migrant farm workers in the Wenatchee Valley area of Eastern Washington. The Pangborn Cherry Harvest Camp, which will operate for five years, will make up to 300 beds per night available to farm workers and their families during the cherry harvest season. “Agriculture is one of Washington’s top economic drivers,” the Governor said. “Our major fruit crops draw thousands of migrant farm workers to our state during the harvest season and we face an acute shortage of housing for them. We need to provide a range of safe, healthy housing solutions for these seasonal agriculture workers to meet this growing need.” In the summer of 1998, the Governor declared farm worker housing to be the top housing priority in the state. Since then, 1,005 temporary and permanent housing units have been established. This reflects the state’s three-pronged strategy of developing permanent low-income housing, supporting temporary camps and responding to housing emergencies when they arise.

‘Best of the Best’ in State Government
Governor Locke presented the 2004 Governor’s Awards for Quality and Performance in a ceremony held in Lacey on May 3. “The improvements we’ve made in state government are a direct reflection of our outstanding state workforce,” the Governor said. “I believe Washington has the top state employee team in the country. The award-winners today are truly the best of the best.” The Governor’s Awards for Quality and Performance are presented every six months. The Governor recognizes agencies that have achieved significant, measurable, sustainable improvements in the services that they deliver to their customers, and the value they provide to the public. Agencies recognized in the recent ceremony included the departments of General Administration, Health, Social and Health Services, Revenue and the Washington State Patrol.

Women’s Health Week
Assistant Secretary (and registered nurse) Patty Hayes checks blood pressure for Secretary of Health Mary Selecky Sunday, May 9, is Mother’s Day and the beginning of National Women’s Health Week. Special health events and free check-ups will be available throughout the state. For example, any state employee can take part in a free blood-pressure check at Department of Health offices in Kent, Olympia, and Tumwater from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 11. This service will also be available from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Public Health Laboratories in Shoreline on May 13. For events offered throughout Washington, visit the state Department of Health web site.

Upcoming Events
5/7:   Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Ceremony, Lacey
5/8:   Washington State University Commencement, Pullman
5/11: Chief for a Day Luncheon, Burien
5/12: Weekly News Conference, Everett
5/12: Dedication of Seminar II Building at Evergreen State College, Olympia
5/12: Judge Reukauf Investiture, Yakima
5/13: School Playground Dedication, Cathlamet
5/13: Judicial Announcement, Tacoma
5/13: US Ocean Commission Report Forum, Seattle
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