Learning skills to last a lifetime

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Friday, May 19, nineteen Native students were honored with a graduation banquet at the Kenny Moses Building for their commitment to training for a better tomorrow. The nineteen students, nine of whom are Tulalip tribal members, were the latest cohort to complete an intensive fourteen-week pre-apprenticeship construction trades program offered by our TERO Vocational Training Center (TVTC).

As far as we know, the program, which is managed by the Tulalip TERO department, is the first and only state and nationally recognized Native American pre-apprenticeship program in the country. The program is accredited through South Seattle Community College and Renton Technical College, while all the in-class, hands-on curriculum has been formally approved by the Washington State Apprentice and Training Council.

The three-month program provides curriculum that teaches a variety of construction trades and skills that can last a lifetime. Upon completion, the graduate’s dedication to a better future is rewarded with a wide-range of new employment opportunities now available to each graduate as they navigate the construction trades career path. In addition, students are trained and awarded certifications in flagging, first aid/CPR, and OSHA 10-hour safety training. Graduated also have received certification on three pieces of lift equipment, specifically the scissor lift, boom lift, and industrial fork lift. Upon completion of the program students are ready to safely enter the construction work environment and demonstrate everything they’ve learned.

“The TVTC program is a remarkable opportunity. I have learned so much throughout my 14-weeks, from building foundations to framing to electrical work to sweating pipe,” says Tulalip tribal member and TVTC graduate Rocky Harrison. “The staff and instructors are really there for the students and do their best to help everyone and make sure we all progress as a group. It has honestly been one of the best learning experiences of my life. The TVTC program is more than just a school, it’s a pathway to a better life. A life with a career, a life with choices.”

Under the supervision of instructors Mark Newland and Billy Burchett, the students constructed three tiny houses for their final class project. These houses, which are approximately 120-square-feet in size, are being donated to homeless families located at a homeless village in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. The insulated houses will be a major upgrade for their soon-to-be residents as they offer electricity, heat, a much safer environment and, most importantly, a measure of stability for their new residents.

“TVTC works with Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). To date we have built 15 Tiny Homes for this organization, which donates all supplies required. This has saved TVTC thousands of dollars as these house are used for training purposes, and lumber that was previously purchased for class is no longer needed,” explains TERO Coordinator Lynne Bansemer.

This Spring session also had a very big impact on the Tulalip community, making key contributions that have left an imprint on several reservation areas.

“This was a very cohesive group of students. They were always kind and respectful to each other. As far as contribution to the community, this class has led the way. They did more community projects than any class before them,” asserts TVTC instructor Mark Newland. “This group built 28 cedar benches for the Long House, a bunch of great-sized planter boxes for the Medicine Wheel Garden at the Health Clinic, and even more planter boxes that are now located outside the Youth Center. They also built two storage sheds for the Early Learning Academy.”

The TVTC construction trades pre-apprenticeship program is a unique, nationally known model that supports tribal members from sovereign nations across the United States. The program is not dependent on tribal hard dollars. In fact, zero hard dollars are used to fund it. Instead, due to the dedication and commitment of so many individuals the TVTC program continues to grow and gain more recognition while being funded by the graciousness of the Tulalip Charitable Fund, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, DOT’s Ladders of Opportunity Grant, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Pass Grant.

Since the Fall of 2013, when TERO took over the program, 127 students have graduated the pre-apprenticeship program. Of those 127 graduates, 52 have been Tulalip Tribal members, and 13 have either been Tulalip spouses or parents. That’s 65 graduates from Tulalip and 62 fellow Native Americans from all over the region who have opted to train for a better tomorrow and complete the construction training program.

TVTC has seen an increasing number of persons who balance a full-time job while attending the training program. This term they had seven students who came to training every day that held full-time jobs as well. People want more, and they are seeing the path to obtain it.

Among this graduating class is 22-year-old Robert Sloss, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Only a few short months ago, Robert was unemployed and living on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming when his girlfriend’s grandma told him about the Tulalip construction program she’d recently heard of. Figuring it was worth a shot, Robert found the application online and submitted it the next day.

After being accepted into the program, Robert packed up a few personal belongings and drove from Wyoming to Tulalip to begin his new journey. For four-months, while taking the TVTC program, he rented a camper at the Lake Ki RV Resort located 20-minutes north of Tulalip. Robert had never been to this area before and knew no one. Now, he says he’s made a lot of friends, loves this area, and looks forward to many new opportunities.

“I’m so happy to have graduated from the program. My immediate plans are to head home for the rest of my stuff, then move back to Washington and hopefully find an apprenticeship,” says Robert. “The past four-months have been such a great experience for me. Over the course, I learned so much, gained so many skills, and made come cool friends. I’m looking forward to a career as a carpenter or iron worker.”

For more information on Tulalip TERO’s TVTC program or to inquire about admission into the next pre-apprenticeship opportunity, please contact Lynne Bansemer, TERO Coordinator, at 360-716-4746 or visit TVTC.TulalipTERO.com

Tiny house builders celebrate graduation


Tulalip Tribes’ Construction Training Program graduates and instructors. Photo/Mara Hill
Tulalip Tribes’ Construction Training Program graduates and instructors.
Photo/Mara Hill


by Mara Hill, Tulalip News

As summer approaches, students everywhere are graduating from school, or moving up a grade. On June 15, thirteen students from the Tulalip Tribes’ Construction Training Program graduated a 10-week course. A graduation ceremony was held at the Hibulb Cultural Center to mark the event.  The Tulalip Tribal Employment Rights Office partnered with Edmonds Community College to offer a trades program to students, providing curriculum that teaches a variety of construction trades and skills. This program gives students better opportunities for full-time employment and skills that will last a lifetime. Upon completion of the course students are certified in the basics of construction trade, awarded a flagging certification, First Aid/CPR, and an OSHA 10 Hour Safety Card.

Under the supervision of instructors Mark Newland and William “Billy” Burchett students constructed two tiny houses for their final class project. These houses are approximately 120-square-feet and offer stability and a safer environment for residents of Nickelsville, a homeless encampment located in Seattle where the houses are being donated.

The insulated houses will offer electricity and heat, along with a Native American touch. Tribal members James Madison and Ty Juvinel designed the doors of the houses.

John Hord, an Ojibwe tribal member and Nickelsville resident, spoke at the graduation about the impact these homes will have on people now and in the future and wants, “all to understand that it’s not a short-term gift. The lifespan will be touching lives 15-20 years from now.”


John Hord, Ojibwe tribal member and Nickelsville resident.Photo/Mara Hill
John Hord, Ojibwe tribal member and Nickelsville resident.
Photo/Mara Hill


Hord was pursuing his bachelor’s degree in psychology, human services and urban environmental issues and working in construction before being displaced from his home a few months ago. Hord plans on returning to school and combining his education and construction skills to mentor other Native Americans on his reservation, White Earth, in Minnesota.

The TVTC graduates received a diploma and ceremonial hammer. Congratulations to Matt Charles, Stuart Charette, Arron Charley, William Duran, Philip Falcon, Corey Fryberg, Jess Fryberg, John Primeau, Abrahn Ramos, Maurice Riley, Cole Stanger, Darwin Weaselhead and Sky Weaselhead.

Southbound I-5 Stilly River bridge work will disrupt traffic for months


By Chris Winters, The Herald

ARLINGTON — Bridge work on I-5 over the Stillaguamish River will result in a major traffic disruption this summer.

The state Department of Transportation is replacing the concrete deck and part of the steel support frame of the bridge span that carries southbound traffic across the river.

Starting in mid-July, work crews will close the 607-foot-long span and redirect southbound vehicles across the median onto the bridge that currently carries northbound traffic.

The northbound bridge will be restriped to allow for two lanes each of northbound and southbound traffic, separated by a concrete barrier.

Each span of the bridge carries an average of 39,000 vehicles per day, but that can rise to 50,000 per day during summer. The heaviest traffic volume occurs between 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends northbound, and from 4 to 6 p.m. Sundays southbound.

The work is expected to take approximately four months, ending in late October or early November. An exact start date for the closure has not been set.

The bridge bearing the southbound lanes was built in 1933 to carry Highway 99 across the Stilly.

The bridge deck has been overlaid several times since then, but after a 2012 inspection it was put on the state’s “structurally deficient” list.

The northbound bridge was built in 1971 and is still rated as being in good condition.

“It’s come time that we need to replace the concrete deck,” said Todd Harrison, WSDOT’s regional assistant administrator.

The bridge deck has potholes and cracks, and some of the underlying steel beams and stringers — beams that run parallel to the direction of travel — that support the deck are corroding, Harrison said.

“Structurally deficient” does not imply the bridge is in danger of imminent collapse, but indicates that one or more components of the bridge need repair or replacement.

According to the transportation department’s website, there are 139 state-owned bridges in Washington with that rating.

The steel truss bridge comprises three spans over the river. The superstructure of the bridge is in good condition, Harrison said, and is not included in the project.

Last year, an oversize truck hit one of the overhead trusses on the Skagit River Bridge on I-5, causing a span to collapse. There is a significant difference between the two, however, in that the old Skagit River Bridge’s overhead trusses were arc-shaped, with just 15 feet, 3 inches of clearance at the outer edge of the travel lanes, which is where the truck hit the span, compared with 18 feet at the center of the roadway.

The Stillaguamish River Bridge’s trusses are horizontal, with uniform clearance of 16 feet, 5 inches all the way across, Harrison said. The new Skagit River span has horizontal trusses with 18 feet of clearance.

Once the work starts, speed will be reduced through the work area to 55 miles per hour, and the lanes will be reduced to 11 feet in width, from 12 feet.

Tow trucks will be in the area to quickly remove any disabled vehicles from the bridge.

“The goal is to keep traffic moving and keep it safe,” Harrison said.

The interchanges immediately north and south of the bridge, at 236th Street NE and Highway 530, will stay open.

During the work period, the transportation department is encouraging drivers to avoid traveling on the bridge during peak hours, to check the state’s website for updates (wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/stillaguamishbridgerehab), and to plan for delays of up to 35 minutes if you need to cross the bridge during those peak hours.

Alternate routes for local traffic include Highway 9 east of I-5 and Pioneer Highway west of the interstate.

Mowat Construction Co. was awarded the $8.7 million contract for the project. All but $350,000 is paid for by federal bridge preservation funds, with the state picking up the remainder.

The contract has a built-in incentive of $50,000 per day, up to a maximum of $500,000, if the work is finished in fewer than 120 days. It also has a disincentive built in if the work takes longer than expected.


Traffic Revision on Marine Drive

Two upcoming construction projects will affect traffic on Marine Drive in Marysville between I-5 and the Quilceda Creek Bridge. Both are Snohomish Public Works Projects.

Sidewalk ramps on the north side of Marine Drive will be upgraded to current American with Disabilities Act standards at 31st Avenue NE and 33rd Avenue NE. Work will begin on Monday, July 15, and will require single lane closures between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, Monday through Friday, for up to two weeks.

Marine Drive will be paved from I-5 west to the Quilceda Creek Bridge. Cemex is this year’s contractor for the county’s overlay program. The work will require coordination with several cities. The schedule is not yet finalized, but work is likely to begin after August 19 and last for approximately three days, weather permitting. All work will take place between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.. Single lane closures will be in affect. A variable message sign will notify citizens one week before the project begins.

Access to businesses will remain open at all times, and construction crews will make every effort to minimize the impacts.

We ask for your patience during construction. Thank you!

For information about this and other projects that may affect travel on county roads, visit www.snoco.org or email questions and comments to transportation@snoco.org.