Rainier School supporters take to streets of Buckley
April 30, 2009 · Updated 4:46 PM
By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald
The weather was as uncertain as state legislators minds Saturday morning and afternoon, but that didn't stop Rainier School employees, other Department of Social and Health Service employees and supporters of Rainier School from taking to the streets of downtown Buckley. They were marching in support of Rainier School and other DSHS programs suggested for the chopping block.
About two weeks ago, four state legislators proposed closing Rainier State School, instead of closing the initially proposed Fircrest School in Shoreline.
Nearly 300 people, including state Rep. Jan Shabro, White River School District Superintendent Jay Hambly, members of the Buckley Fire Department, community members and others gathered in Buckley Saturday morning to march down Main Street, waving signs and voicing their support for Rainier School. Afterward, supporters met along state Route 410 for a community rally and barbecue.
While Rainier School Local Union 491 Vice President Mike Holyan said legislators are starting to waver on either closure, suggesting DSHS make the final decision, he said little else as changed over the past two weeks.
"So we're still fighting as if they're going to close one of the two of us," he said.
Union 491 members are opposed to the closure of any school for the developmentally disabled, and joined forces with other DSHS employees and union members, including those from the four other state schools in the state, to voice their opposition Saturday.
Holyan said it was encouraging to see so many people, including Teamsters and Longshoremen from Tacoma, at Saturday's event.
Hambly said the White River School District and Rainier School have a long history and he came to show his support. "I think the message was clear and showed the community and whoever was there ... it just showed them that we had some concerns, and we're supporting Rainier School," he said.
While manning the dessert booth, Kathleen Richardson, a registered nurse at Rainier School and Service Employees International Union member, also was happy so many people were standing together.
"Even though the crowd shifts in and out, I think you can feel the solidarity," she said.
Jessica Keller can be reached at email@example.com