Harley-Davidsons sound great.

I didn't even have to use the word "motorcycle" to end that last sentence.  You know what I mean.

"Harley-Davidson is an American legend," Julio Valdenegro, the general manager of Northwest Harley-Davidson in Lacey, told me last Saturday afternoon. "And the sound is distinctively American."

Named after and founded by William Harley and brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson, the Milwaukee-based company began in 1901. In 1903, a wooden shed was built in the Davidson's back yard, and by 1904 production output topped out at eight motorcycles annually.

In 1905 Carl Lang, the first Harley-Davidson dealer, sold three Harley-Davidson motorcycles out of the dozen or so built in the shed.

Since then, the brand has flourished, floundered and then reestablished itself as the dominant motorcycle company in the country.

Part of Harley-Davidson's success lies in the quality of its product. The rest of it lies in the attitude of dealerships like Northwest Harley-Davidson.

Located at 8000 Freedom Lane Northeast in Lacey, Northwest Harley-Davidson has established itself as a destination point for local riders.

Billing itself as "The Friendliest Shop on the West Coast," the dealership features a 30,000 square-foot facility that offers its customers sales, service and accessories.

Of particular interest are the 31 models of Harley-Davidsons neatly arranged in the showroom.

"We love the dynamic of the customers who come here," Tina Torfin, guest relations manager and military sales specialist, said.  "We are friendly, welcoming and family-oriented."

The dealership also gives back to the community.

 We have 400 single soldiers returning from the war zone really soon and we want to place welcome baskets in each of their barracks rooms.  Can you help with snack donations or cash?  Chips. Pop.  Toiletries. Call Ken Swarner (253) 584-1212, or drop off at any Harborstone Credit Union.  Thanks!!
Here's a great blog post on a spouse's feelings and routine while her husband is deployed.  Notice she shopped on and off the post. Click here.
Here's a great story from Gary Brackett at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce about small business on the Web...or, in other words, they SHOULD be.
Often, the question surrounding sending humanitarian gifts to the war zone confuse local businesses and organizations wanting to do the right thing.  People don't understand why the military can't load their items on the back of a C-17 and send them down-range - after all, they are already going there.  Why do folks have to pay the postal system to do something nice?

It's a matter of ethics and DoD policies.  If the DoD allowed this for one organization, they'd have to for all – and the space and money is not there to do it.  Also, how do they decide which event is more worthy over another?  

Here's what you can do.

Anyone can send a care package to a troop IF they have the complete mailing address.  "Any soldier" or "soldier" at a forward operating base won't do.  You must have the address.

For example, on Nov. 7th, the Fort Lewis Ranger and NW Airlifter hosted military families to take pictures with Santa and send them in a care package down-range.  That worked because the family member was there to address their own care package.

On November 18, Operation Make a Soldier Smile in DuPont will also send care packages - over a thousand to the 5th Stryker Brigade in Afghanistan.  That works too, because OMASS has worked with the 5th Brigade to receive the names of each soldier destined to get a package.

Both events, though, had to raise the money to pay for the $10.50 postage for each care package, and mail them via the US Post Office.

In terms of sending help to the peoples or Afghanistan or Iraq, that is not allowed through APO and FPO addresses.  Army Times has an article out this week on that issue.  Click here.

Right now, if your business would like to get involved, consider adopting a unit.  You can do that through the Lakewood Area Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee.  Call Ken Swarner (253.584.1212) for details.
The Lacey Chamber of Commerce has a sleek new Web site.  Click here to explore.
Earlier this week, Col. Jerome (Jerry) Penner III, the Commander of Madigan Army Medical Center, announced plans to open three off post clinics. 

 “We are exploring a different concept on how we deliver our care,” said Penner, who took over command of MAMC in August.  “It’s a hub and spoke concept. Madigan is the hub, or the center of the wheel, and the clinics are the spokes. This project was initiated by the medical command.  Although the idea preempted me by about 40 days, I helped give it legs when I arrived. ” 

Currently there is no official timeline for the opening of the clinics, but they are in the works, Penner said.  The need for the medical facilities was born from a desire to bring health care to the patients, rather than patients coming to the health care.

 "The bottom line is," he said, "we are starting to treat this like a business.  We have some loyal patients who travel as much as 60 miles to receive medical care.  This is an opportunity to put a health care facility close to them.”

Although plans have not been finalized, MAMC officials hope to provide primary care, well woman, family practice, and pediatric services, as well as limited lab and radiology services, and a pharmacy in the clinics, he said.   

“Women who are pregnant can go to a clinic until they are ready to deliver,” said Penner of the MAMC staff that comprises 1,218 military, and 4,282 civilian personnel.   “Women can receive well woman services at the clinics, and people ages 0-95 can receive regular family practice health care at the clinics. If we move people off this footprint, our efficiency will go up.”   

However, despite their off post locations, the clinics will be no different than receiving care in a family practice at Madigan, he said.  The healthcare facilities will be staffed by military and civilian personnel, he said.  Unlike private off post clinics who provide military families health care, there will be no fees, or costs to Tricare Prime patients who receive care in the clinics, he said. 

There are many benefits to opening the clinics, he said.  For starters, there is a lack of space for expansion at MAMC, so there is no room for growth, he said. 

 “We would love to increase enrollment at Madigan, but there’s no space,” he said.  “We want to add more providers.  To do this quickly, we need to go off post.  If we expand Madigan we have to go through appropriations and that can take years.  If we lease space for clinics we could be up and running in as little as 6-9 months.”

Secondly, leasing space would enable MAMC to provide medical care in various, more convenient locations, he said.   One idea is to open a clinic at a mall, he said.

“If we opened a clinic in a mall, like the Lakewood Towne Center, or Tacoma Mall, people could shop, get a cup of coffee, and go to the doctor all at the same place,” he said. 

Also opening clinics off post would help to cut down on the parking problem at MAMC, he said.  Currently there is a big problem with parking at the medical center, he said.  

We could build more parking lots at Madigan, but if we build anything here we have to chop down more trees, and we really don’t want to have to do that,” he said.  “Opening clinics in other locations allows us to keep Fort Lewis more aesthetically green.”   


Here's a piece from Seattle worth reading about the Pierce County Rental Market...
Click Here.
At last Wednesday's RAMP meeting Dan Penrose from the City of Lakewood updated the group on preliminary findings from the I-5 congestion study the City of Lakewood has been designated to administer on behalf of the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) at the Department of Defense.

The presentation is available here.

Gary Brackett at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber covered the City of Lakewood's presentation Wednesday at the chamber's Military Affair's Committee.  In essence, he writes, "With the best performance of any industry, the military-defense growth in Pierce County has been not just an economic stabilizer, but a growth engine."
Here's information on Lakewood's plan for a business park next to Fort Lewis & McChord.  Click here.