In This Issue....
New Smoking, Vaping Rules Take Effect in Thurston County
Community Planning Asks for Input on Local Agriculture
Board of Commissioners Approves Funding for 2021 Conservation Futures
But first....
Welcome to 2021! On Tuesday, January 5, the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held this year's first board meeting. The commissioners voted for Commissioner Tye Menser as the chair of the BoCC and Commissioner Gary Edwards as the vice-chair of the BoCC. The commissioners also voted for Commissioner Tye Menser as chair of the Board of Health (BoH) and Commissioner Carolina Mejia as vice-chair of the BoH. This was Commissioner Mejia's first BoCC meeting since being sworn in as the Thurston County Commissioner for District One! You can watch this meeting and more on the Thurston County YouTube channel.
1
COVID-19 Update
We are sad to share that three Thurston County residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19 over the last seven days. We join the community in mourning and send our condolences to their families and friends. Fifty-eight county residents have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Thurston County Public Health and Social Services has confirmed 5,136 county residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There have been a total of 312 people hospitalized (number is of accumulated hospitalizations, not all currently hospitalized), and 4,385 people recovered or recovering. The highest number of cases are in the 98513, 98501, and 98503 zip codes. (You can learn more in this week's COVID-19 update).

On Tuesday, January 5, Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek sent a letter to Thurston County Superintendents and Heads of Schools, stating she would recommend cautiously starting in-person learning for elementary and middle school students if Thurston County continues to stay in the moderate transmission range (50-350 cases per 100K over 14 days) for a majority of days for three weeks after the New Year’s holiday. Her letter also stated that the recommendation was dependent on the availability of testing, hospital, and public health capacity. You can read her letter here.

Thurston County is in Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Individuals in 1A Tiers one and two, as outlined in the Washington State COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Guidance Phase, are being vaccinated in Thurston County. You can find other resources related to COVID-19, including mental health resources, on the PHSS COVID-19 webpage.
2
2021 Conservation Futures Funding
The Board of County Commissioners approved funding for the Conservation Futures Program for 2021, including new ranking criteria related to salmon recovery. The purpose of the new ranking criteria is to encourage projects that aid in salmon recovery across the region. 

Conservation Futures is a land preservation program allowing landowners to sell property or future development rights to a qualified conservation organization, such as a land trust. Applications for funding are due by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 1, 2021, and must be sponsored by an eligible entity such as a land trust or city government. To be eligible, a property must contain unique or valuable wildlife habitat, agricultural, forestry, historic, or recreational features. You can learn more about the Conservation Futures program and find application information on the county's Conservation Futures webpage.
3
New Rules on Smoking, Vaping Take Effect in Thurston County

On Friday, January 1, new rules regarding smoking and vaping in public places in Thurston County took effect. The rules prohibit smoking and vaping in indoor public places, places of employment, and certain youth-oriented outdoor public places. The rules also prohibit smoking and vaping within 25 feet of indoor public places and places of employment; current state law only applies to smoking. The new rules apply to all jurisdictions in Thurston County and include a six-month phase-in period that utilizes education, outreach, and technical assistance.

Beginning Thursday, July 1, the health officer can initiate enforcement actions and legal proceedings to gain compliance, as needed. The new rules require signs to be posted where smoking and vaping are prohibited. Businesses that need signage can order signs or download signs here. To learn more, visit www.thurstoncountywa.gov.
4
Community Input Needed on Local Agriculture
Thurston County has started a project called Community-Driven Review of Local Agriculture Policies and Programs as part of the Comprehensive Plan amendment docket, and your help is needed to evaluate how the county’s planning and zoning policies, development regulations, and incentive and assistance programs are working to support local agriculture. You're invited to take part in a new online survey to share your perspective on local agriculture. You can complete the survey here.
 
Anyone who cares about Thurston County agriculture and farmland is invited to complete the survey. The survey will be available to take online until Friday, February 12. It should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. Results of the survey will be shared with the Board of County Commissioners and published on the Community Planning web site.
5
Appraisers in the Field to Value Property
A map showing the residential regions used by the Assessor's Office in Thurston County.
The appraisal team with the Thurston County Assessor’s Office is required, by law, to inspect all real property at least once every six years, and currently, they're working in regions 7, 8, 11, and 13 (region 13 is not identified in the map above because it is a code used for all condo properties in Thurston County). Appraisers arrive in a white vehicle marked with the Thurston County Assessor’s emblem and a short yellow light bar on the roof of the vehicle. They wear Thurston county marked vests or jackets and a mask for COVID-19 safety compliance.

Because of the number of properties appraisers need to value, they do not schedule appointments with property owners in advance; however, if you request an appointment and provide your contact information, appraisers are happy to complete inspections by appointment. You can contact the Assessor’s Office at (360) 867-2200.
Before you go....
With the holidays behind us and a New Year in front of us, it's time to take down the Christmas tree. Free Christmas tree collection and drop-off opportunities are available county-wide, but many options end this Sunday (January 10). To prepare your tree for recycling, please remove all ornaments, lights, stands, nails, and tinsel prior to drop-off. Flocked trees are accepted. Learn more at: http://bit.ly/TCTreeRecycling.
On Tuesday, January 5, Gov. Jay Inslee announced The state will shift to a two-phase system in accordance with regional case counts. The two-phase approach is called “Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery,” and goes into effect on Monday, January 11, with every region beginning in phase 1. Learn more here.