Tribal members hard at work remodeling the TRC Conference Center

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Early last year, the Tulalip Resort Casino (TRC) underwent an extensive renovation to its hotel tower, guest rooms and suites. Keeping in line with its AAA Four Diamond status means staying ahead of the curve and constantly looking for new ways to keep guests coming back. Currently, that same attention to detail and refreshing look that went into the hotel renovation is being given to the TRC’s Conference Center, which is the southern part of the property where the Orca Ballroom and Chinook rooms are located.

“With almost ten years of extremely high utilization the Conference Center space needed a refresh. Everything from technology to tile were starting to show their age, and as well maintained as they were, there is only so much life you can get of a facility before it needs to be updated,” explained TRC General Manager, Sam Askew. “The need gave us the opportunity to really make the space much more representative of the Tulalip Tribes in look and feel, while also addressing the needs of the guest. When completed next month, guests will have the same type of Tulalip experience both in rooms and in the Conference Center.”

Rising Sun Development, a general construction business owned by tribal member Harold Joseph III, was awarded the remodel contract. Harold takes great pride in hiring his fellow tribal members, especially recent high school graduates who are looking for career pathways. On this specific job there are plenty of familiar faces who have only called Tulalip Reservation home.

“I started my company so we could start hiring tribal members and give the younger generation an opportunity to work alongside professional tradesmen and to learn those on-the-job construction skills,” said Harold. “We’ve had about twelve to fifteen younger tribal members on the last couple jobs, seven of them are recent high school graduates. They are learning and doing drywall, tile and carpet installation, and steel-stud framing. They are coming to work every day putting in eight to ten hours, learning from guys who have made a successful career out of construction.”

Learning the importance of an honest day’s work is huge for any young person transitioning into adulthood. Especially so for the millennial generation who are most often associated with the term ‘entitlement’. But for these tribal members, recently minted as grownups, the opportunity given by Rising Sun Development and TRC Conference Center remodel allows them to fully comprehend what it means to get dirty, work hard, and earn their keep.

“Working for a tribal contractor, I feel we are offered more to learn and there are less barriers preventing us from succeeding,” added 19-year-old tribal member, Darion Joseph. “There’s a sense of pride, too, in knowing we are building something and leaving our mark on a business that means a lot to our people.”

Artist renderings of the rennovated Conference Center.

Once the remodel is completed, the Conference Center will have a stronger influence of Tulalip culture than the previous design. It seems only fitting that Tulalip tribal members (as contractors and their hard at work employees) are those doing leaving their mark behind the scenes while completing the Conference Center’s transformation.

“Sharing the culture of the Tulalip Tribes has always been an important part of the resort experience since its opening,” continued TRC General Manager, Sam Askew. “Door handles go from being a plain stainless steel bar to being a bronzed paddle. Now when I open the door to a Chinook Meeting room, I’m literally touching the culture. The flooring is likely to be most striking to visitors as we wanted to tell the story of life on, and within the waters of Tulalip Bay and The Salish Sea.

“Ultimately, having tribal members performing the work being done to bring about this great transformation only adds to the value of a design we created to best represent the Tulalip Tribes. Seeing young tribal members not only working but learning new skills and trades as well means that there is a bright future for Tulalip. In 7 or 8 years, when they walk through the TRC with their own families, they’ll be able to share not only what the elements of the spaces mean with their children, but that they are tied to it in very profound way because they helped make it a reality.”

New Look in the New Year for Tulalip’s hotel

A glimpse at one of the renovated rooms at Tulalip Resort Casino hotel. Photo/Micheal Rios
A glimpse at one of the renovated rooms at Tulalip Resort Casino hotel.
Photo/Micheal Rios



By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

A new year brings hope. A new year triggers a desire to change an aspect of your life. An optimistic spirit of “new year, new me” motivates many to make a New Year’s resolution. Even the casual social media user had their timeline plastered with New Year’s resolution aims, goals, lyrics, or memes. Most people declared to do more or less of something in their day-to-day lives, such as eating healthier, exercising on a regular basis, losing weight, quitting a bad habit, or learning how to better manage money.

Well, as a brand and as a resort destination, the Tulalip Resort Casino has made a New Year’s resolution of its own: to return as the standard bearer for luxury accommodations that balance artistry, stylish elegance, and an abundance of comfort.

When the Tulalip Resort Casino (TRC) opened in May 2008 there was no question who had the most luxurious accommodations in the area, it was Tulalip. Fast-forward nearly eight years to the present and the TRC no longer stands head and shoulders above the rest. Over the past eight years, many tribes in the state have followed Tulalip’s lead and built their own resort casinos. Those with standalone casinos have added a hotel, those with a subpar hotel have upped their game by remodeling, and then there are the tribes who decided to enter the gaming world and invest in newly constructed resort casinos. All this is to say Tulalip now has competition where once there wasn’t any.

“Since we’ve opened our tower and been operating the Tulalip Resort Casino, we’ve seen Swinomish open their property, Silver Reef has opened their second tower, Angels has opened their new property, and Clear Water has added a tower,” explains Sam Askew, General Manager of Tulalip’s “four-diamond rated” hotel. “The competition, in terms of gaming within the state, have all upped their game because they want to emulate what Tulalip has done and continues to do.”




Over the past eight years, the accommodations industry has seen trends change and upgrades in technology, furnishings, and in-room amenities that are now in demand by today’s guests. Frequent guests of resort casinos can notice the difference in room quality from an out of date accommodation, as do tribal members who have stayed at other newly minted hotels in the region. Because of this, the Tulalip Board of Directors and TRC executive staff deemed it time to renovate the hotel guest rooms and bring back the WOW-factor that Tulalip is known for.

Of the two new room designs to be implemented in the renovation, it’s the Tulalip design that will be most prevalent. The Tulalip room design is self-evident; everything from the predominantly red and black color scheme, styling, design elements, artwork and even the carpet graphics have you feel like you are at Tulalip. Everything in this room is designed and geared for Tulalip culture and history, whether it’s a weaving token, fishing reference, or a stunning piece of artwork created by Tulalip artists James Madison and Joe Gobin.




Bringing back the WOW-factor to the guest rooms will include introducing many new enhancements to each room.

“One of the interesting things, too, is that most of the guest enhancements in the new rooms come from a culmination of guest requests and suggestions, recommendations from our facility and maintenance teams, and our continued mission to provide the best service we can,” says GM Sam Askew. “Guest enhancements include an improved heating and cooling system, in-room refrigerator, lowered countertops, vessel sinks, improved ventilation in the bathroom, new electrical outlets with USB ports to charge your electronic devices, faster in-room WiFi, and all TVs will be smart TVs with over 100 channels provided by Tulalip Broadband. There will also be smart media hubs in each room so that you can hook up a gaming system, tablet or even PC to the TV. We’ve also got state of the art Bluetooth enabled smart mirrors in the bathroom, so you can listen to your favorite music while enjoying Tulalip’s famous shower.”




So from a whole new design with new and upgraded technology, furnishings, and amenities that will make guests have no doubt they are staying in Tulalip, to a whole list of guest enhancements that will continue to grow as renovation is underway and new ideas are introduced, Tulalip will be getting its WOW back.

“For us, I think the big takeaway will be the rooms clearly identified as Tulalip. There will be no ifs, ands, or buts about it, when you see the room you’ll know it’s a Tulalip room. I’m proud of that,” continues GM Sam Askew. “In our industry most people go with safe and comfortable, but here we’re able to go with WOW and a sense of heritage and belonging. For me, that part is the best. It demonstrates the culture of service we are known for at Tulalip and it also demonstrates the Tribes long-term commitment and vision.”

TRC guest room renovation is currently underway and estimated completion is March 31, 2017. Be sure to follow Tulalip News on Facebook  for updates as the renovation is ongoing.




M’ville hires consultant to clean waterfront, help decide its future

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring hopes someday this waterfront area will be something special for the city.— image credit: Steve Powell
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring hopes someday this waterfront area will be something special for the city.
— image credit: Steve Powell


By Steve Powell, Marysville Globe


MARYSVILLE – Imagine the city’s waterfront filled with classy restaurants, a boardwalk and boutiques. Or how about condominiums and a casino? Wouldn’t a park with a stage for concerts and plays be nice?

What, you didn’t even know Marysville has a waterfront? It doesn’t look like much now, but city officials hope it will be something special in the future.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said it’s part of the Downtown Revitalization vision, which includes the recently completed and widely popular Spray Park.

“We want a vibrant downtown that’s generating income and where everybody has jobs,” Nehring said, adding the goal is to have private enterprise build up the waterfront.

The downtown master plan calls for a waterfront trail and mixed use of business and living space on the property south of Penny’s.

Four years ago the city bought the former Ed and Susan Geddes five-acre marina at 1326 1st St. for $1.9 million. It took four years to decide on a price, as the Geddeses filed suit against the city due to surface water flowing into the marina. Bill Geddes had owned the property in the 1930s as   a retention pond for a lumber mill.

The city has been applying for grants to clean up the site for years.

The city was awarded a $200,000 hazardous substances cleanup Brownsfield grant from the Environmental Protection Agency Oct. 1 of last year. A month later it received an Integrated Planning Grant from the state Department of Ecology for a similar amount. It has hired Maul Foster Alongi Consultants for $304,000 for a contract that runs from July 15, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2017.

Past activities at the location, including painting, boat sanding and fuel and oil storage and handling, likely contaminated the site with arsenic, cadmium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, stormwater discharge from the adjacent mill site has likely caused some of the contamination.

The property was historically used as a marina, but the city has stopped renewing leases and has removed several boat houses, the grant says.

Nehring said the city knew the site was contaminated when it bought it, and it also knew grants would be needed to move on. The state money will determine chemicals in the soils and the method of cleanup. The money from the feds will help pay for the actual cleanup.

“We need more money. This will just get us started,” Nehring said.

He said how much the cleanup will cost will be determined by what goes there. Some development needs would have to have more cleanup than others.

Nehring said the city spent about $200,000 in federal money to clean up the area just to the East a couple years ago, but that was “minor” compared with Geddes Marina, said Gloria Hirashima, Community Development director.

Hirashima said no matter what goes there drinking water will be pumped in and people will not want to be exposed to the contaminated soil. Across the street at the boat launch soil was cleaned to a point but then the site was capped and clean dirt put over it, similar to what is done to build over landfills.

A key to the success of the area will be finding a use that provides “constant activity.” Hirashima said that is lacking at the boat launch, and that is why homeless have inhabited that area. She said if Geddes Marina becomes more like the skate park it will be successful.

“There used to be a bad crowd there, but the families reclaimed that park,” she said. “We need active usage at a daily rate.”

The consultant will work in two phases. The first to analyze the site, the second to design remedial action and oversight.

The first phase includes cleanup options, community involvement, developer options and market analysis. Cost is $220,000. The second phase includes permitting and working with agencies, the cleanup, oversight and the final report. Cost is $84,000.

Final approval would come from the Department of Ecology.


PHASE ONE – Site analysis

• Presentation to the City Council and Open House for residents.

• Analyze cleanup costs to evaluate potential developer interest and flag areas of risk for the city.

• Analyze physical condition of land, including stormwater, hydrogeological and geotechnical.

• Analyze federal, state, and local land-use and environmental regulations.

• Study local and regional real estate market to look at potential marketing opportunities. That will include cost estimates, achievable rents as well as vacancy rates for competing development sites. The market analysis will ensure that the development vision has a realistic opportunity for implementation.

PHASE TWO – remedial action and oversight

• Work with federal, state, local governments and Tulalip Tribes to obtain required approval and permits.

• Cleanup plan to include approach, sampling strategy, cleanup levels and post-cleanup monitoring.

• Will develop construction bid package that will allow the city to procure a contractor to complete the remedial action.

• Will provide field oversight associated with implementation of the remedial action.

What do you think should be done on the waterfront?