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Early attempts at community development on South Hill

By Carl Vest

The Township Nineteen Association (T-19-A) is probably not well known to the contemporary population living on South Hill.  Yet, at one point it played an important role in the development of a community spirit among Hill residents. 

In the early years of its settlement South Hill was primarily an agrarian area.  During those times such groups as the Grange, Parent Teacher Associations, and Community Clubs served as community development initiators.  Their meetings brought together the local people for social affairs and discussions about various community needs.   Civic projects from early roads development to the establishing of water sources can be credited to the initiative of these grass-root citizen groups.  From the 1890s through the 1940s this kind of community development worked well. 

But as time passed, and the population increased, more and more people became concerned about the Hill losing its character as a place to live and as a life style to enjoy.  Also as the number of people increased the close knit group of early settlers began to lose its ability to develop local projects and residents increasingly had to turn to government to initiate community services.  However, even given the necessity for reliance on local officials, residents on the Hill still had a strong belief that they knew best what was good for their community. 

It was in this tradition that T-19-A emerged in the 1960s.  It was so named because its geographical base was intended to include all the residents located in Township 19, the Hill’s official Federal designator.  It was a grouping of about 200 concerned people.  The stated purpose was, “to improve the total environment of Township 19 community by conservation and development of her natural, man made and human resources.” 

T-19-A was started in February, 1969 by an initial set of about 50 people, under the leadership of Rev. Paul Hackett.  During its preliminary meetings by-laws were developed, the area to be included in the organization’s base was selected, and the name T-19-A was adopted, To facilitate communications a newsletter format was developed.  Subsequently relationships were established with the Washington State Patrol about traffic safety.  The University of Washington was contacted and it eventually provided a part-time planner to help.  An operational rapport was cemented with the South Hill Athletic Association and with the University of Puget Sound.  And, significantly, a working relationship with the Puyallup Chamber of Commerce was put in place.  These activities were not done in secret.  Rather, they were regularly coordinated with the county officials in power at the time.

Members of T-19-A labored for about two years on the outline of a community development concept for South Hill.  Probably its most significant accomplishment was an agreement to survey the citizens of South Hill as to their desires for the community.  Unfortunately by about 1972 the body of T-19-A had started to fragment. It eventually disappeared.  However, the developed concepts survived and were subsequently used by other workers.

Carl Vest, PhD, is a founding member and Research Director for the South Hill Historical Society.

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