Recent local blog posts

Free Introduction to Square Dancing Offers Fun, Fitness and Friends

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 4:32pm



Submitted by Olympia Area Square Dancers 

Lac-A-Do Hall square Dance 2Olympia Area Square Dancers are sponsoring a Free Introduction to Square Dancing on Thursday September 10 at 6:30 p.m. This is your chance to try a fun evening of square dancing at no cost.  You’ll be dancing right away – no experience necessary.

Square dancing gives you a wonderful physical and mental workout. And you’ll have a great time.

The Intro to Square Dancing is held at Lac-A-Do Hall, 1721 46th Ave NE, Olympia. Couples, singles, and families are welcome, ages 10 and up. Almost everyone can learn to square dance. The only people who may find that lessons are too fast-paced are those with moderate to severe developmental disabilities, or who cannot walk for 10-15 minutes at a time.

You’ll find friendly people and good music at Lac-A-Do Hall. The Olympia area is known throughout the U.S. for its popular and successful square dance program. The seven square and round dance clubs in Olympia all dance at the hall. The Olympia dancers represent all ages and all walks of life. They dance to many different types of music including rock and roll, country and pop.

Olympia Area Square Dancers also sponsor square dance lessons, starting Thursday September 17 at 6:30 p.m. This social, family-friendly class gets your body and mind moving in a fun atmosphere.  By the end of ten weeks you will have learned the basics of modern square dancing – the same moves used in thousands of square dance club dances and dance events you can visit throughout the world. You’ll be dancing at the very first lesson. Members of all the local square dance clubs will join in to help you learn.

We like to say that square dancing is “Fun and friendship set to music.” It’s a great way to get out, get moving, and make new friends.

There will be a few more Free Introductions and 10-week sessions of square dance lessons throughout the year. For more information, visit Or call Ed at 360-352-2662 or Nancy at 360-438-1284.

Walkers Take to the Streets to Fight Suicide

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 2:55pm



Submitted by Eileen Bochsler for the Olympia Out of the Darkness Community Walk

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, yet suicide is preventable. More than 200 people from throughout the Olympia area are expected to participate in the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk at 10:0 a.m., Saturday, September 12, 2015 at Marathon Park. This fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) local and national programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide twenty percent by 2025.

“We walk to support those who suffer from mental health conditions and raise the money for research and prevention programs that will save lives,” said Grace Finch, Washington State Area Director, AFSP.

The Olympia Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more that 350 Out of the Darkness Community Walks being held nationwide this fall. The walks are expected to unite more that 150,000 walkers and raise millions or suicide prevention efforts.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.”

Local AFSP sponsors for the Olympia Out of the Darkness Walk include Providence Health and Services Southwest Washington, Good Therapy and Batdorf & Bronson.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention leads the fights against suicide. We fund research, offer educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has 75 local chapters with programs and events nationwide. Join the national conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Construction Begins on State Avenue Pedestrian Access Improvement Project

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 2:24pm



Submitted by The City of Olypmia

What’s Happening

Beginning August 31, the City’s contractor, KBH Construction Company, will start construction of the State Avenue Pedestrian Access Improvements Project in downtown Olympia. The existing sidewalk is broken and uneven and the access ramp does not meet current safety standards. Making it easier and safer for pedestrians to get where they are going is one of the City’s highest priorities. This project will remove the old sidewalk and construct new sidewalk with a pedestrian access ramp and curb bulbout at the southeast corner of State Avenue at Columbia Street. Construction is expected to be complete by early October 2015.

Tree Impacts

Additional work includes the removal and replacement of the existing trees along the sidewalk on the south side of State Avenue between Capitol Way and Columbia Street. The project team worked with the City’s Urban Forester to determine if it would be better to try to save the existing trees or remove and replace them.  We decided to replace them because it was not certain that the trees would survive construction. The removed trees will be replaced with Paperbark Maple trees.

Parking & Traffic Impacts

Street parking on the south side of State Avenue between Capital Way and Columbia Street will not be available during construction. In addition, some of the parking spots located in the two parking lots adjacent to the sidewalk along State Avenue will also not be available at times during construction.

State Avenue between Capital Way and Columbia Street will be reduced to one lane during construction. Motorists should expect delays. The sidewalk on the south side of State Avenue between Capital Way and Columbia Street will also be closed. Signs will be in place to direct pedestrians to alternate routes. Flaggers will be on site to assist pedestrians that need to cross State Avenue.

For construction updates and traffic alerts follow us on Twitter @OlyProjects

Ballet Northwest Announces Open Auditions for the Nutcracker

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 2:17pm



Submitted by Ballet Northwest 

Ballet Northwest Nutcracker

Ballet Northwest’s Nutcracker is held annually at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

On Saturday, September 26, Ballet Northwest will hold open auditions at the Johansen Olympia Dance Center for roles in the Company’s 31st Anniversary production of the Nutcracker. The auditions are open to the community – boys and girls, men and women. The only requirement is that dancers are eight-years-old by August 31, 2015.

Ballet Northwest is a community-based performance group dedicated to promoting, teaching, and preserving the art of dance in Southwestern Washington. No previous dance experience is necessary to audition, and dancers from all dance studios are welcome to audition for Ballet Northwest’s Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker cast averages two hundred dancers. Performances take place from December 11th through the 20th at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts located in downtown Olympia, and feature professional sets, costumes, and guest artists.

For more information on auditioning for the Nutcracker, please visit


Mud Bay Jugglers – Local Juggling Group Approaching 35 Years of Fun

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 6:00am



By Tobin Fitzthum

thurston first bankDespite their national acclaim, the Mud Bay Jugglers are an inherently local group.

Their name is an homage to space that co-founder Doug Martin looked upon as he rolled loaves at the Blue Heron Bakery. Besides the group’s name, there are many other ties to Thurston County. The Evergreen State College, for example, where Martin and co-founder Mark Jensen went to school and later member Alan Fitzthum worked, served as a focal point for the jugglers’ early history.

Alan met Doug when he was selling felt hats to the other students. Soon they were juggling together in Red Square. Their first performance was at the Trail’s End Circus. Ten years later, in 1989, the group had taken to the road touring throughout the western United States performing at colleges and flea markets, while eating granola and falafels in cold campsites.  Today, the group includes Doug, Alan and Harry Levine.

mud bay jugglers

Mud Bay Jugglers (from left) Tom Gorski, Alan Fitzthum, and Doug Martin appear in a 1987 promotional photograph. Photo courtesy: Mud Bay Jugglers.

Even though the venues got larger and the drives to them longer, the group was always focused on having fun collectively, an activity that includes the audience. This ideology shows in performance. Doug, for example, emphasizes how juggling “makes you do something that I think is very important: work with some other people.” It is this thinking that has motivated the jugglers to stay away from solo routines.

Likewise, the jugglers wanted to avoid the sensationalism that is present in many other street acts. “Usually what people do is shout whatever they can to gather a crowd. We wanted to try something different,” Doug explains.

This idea led to a routine known as slow motion. When performing in the street, the jugglers would start their shows by placing three juggling pins in the center of the area they would use as a stage. Each of the three jugglers would start about 100 feet from the clubs and walk toward them in slow motion. As each member approached the clubs, more and more people would wonder what was going on and fall in line behind to find out. By the time the jugglers united at the stage, they would have gathered a crowd. “And all we did was walk slowly,” says Doug.

“It just seemed like a natural progression,” says Alan discussing the decision to start touring. None of the members spoke of any definite point when they thought they had made it as jugglers, but the transition was undeniable. In 1986 the jugglers began touring with a trip to Arizona. They bought a van, painted their logo on the side, and set off. “I think we drove for 21 hours on the first day,” recalls Alan. The tour took them to colleges across the state where they performed in cafeterias and recreation centers.

mud bay jugglers

For their 25th anniversary show in 2005, the Mud Bay Jugglers include (from left) Larry Levine, Alan Fitzthum, and Doug Martin. Photo credit: Jason Hunter.

Soon they had become staples of events such as First Night Tacoma and the Oregon Country Fair. Their newfound notoriety also manifested itself in opportunities to appear on television. Though the group was never into sensationalism and turned down an invitation to appear on America’s Got Talent, they have appeared on several networks in segments that emphasize their creative process and love of performance.

Though the name speaks truly of the group’s origins, it does not suffice to describe their craft. The Mud Bay Jugglers are more than jugglers. Founded in a time when most jugglers focused on technical proficiency while standing in one place, the Mud Bay Jugglers wanted to do something different. Their style is a unique blend of dance, comedy, and juggling. They fascinate audiences young and old and can hold the viewers’ attention through countless routines with humor and subtle drama that has been polished until it shines.

What would a dance be without music? The jugglers originally performed alongside an ensemble of drummers whose hypnotic rhythms contributed to a spiritual feel at performances. In time, however, the jugglers also adopted other forms of music, choreographing new routines to a truly eclectic soundtrack featuring everything from castanets to didgeridoos. Today the jugglers often perform along with local band The Tune Stranglers. Still, however, the music reflects the rich history of the group.

mud bay jugglers

Harry Levine (left), Alan Fitzthum (center), and Doug Martin (right) juggle fire during the finale of The Mud Bay Jugglers’ 30th Anniversary show in 2010. Photo courtesy: Mud Bay Jugglers.

Why have the Mud Bay Jugglers lasted 35 years? In a 1986 interview, Doug said he would have “quit five years ago if it wasn’t for the people he juggled with.” Today he is of the same mind. Doug says that he quickly got bored of juggling by himself but once he learned to juggle with other people, “it was all over.”

Alan echoes this idea saying simply, “If I juggled by myself I get bored.” Though the Mud Bay Jugglers have seen some turnover over the years, their style and their values have not changed. From the beginning it has been about developing creative ideas and sharing them with the audience. The ensuing joy is mutual.

Now a group founded 35 years ago will perform once again in a tradition started 25 years ago. On November 14, they will hold their 35th year anniversary show at The Washington Center.

Follow along with the Mud Bay Jugglers on their website or via Facebook.

Psycho-Moto-Psycho at Brick & Mortar

South Sound Arts - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 7:37am

"Hyper Medico Della Peste," mixed media installation by Marty Fehl. Photo courtesy Laura Hanan

 Published in the Weekly Volcano, Aug. 27, 2015
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen art by Marty Fehl, and his new show at Brick & Mortar Gallery is quite a departure from the paintings of his I saw years ago — a good and exciting departure.Fehl’s new work consists of paintings and installations based on motorcycles and motorcycle culture, or as the gallery refers to it, moto-inspired art. The repeated term “psycho” in the show title should also give readers a clue as to what to expect.Anchoring  the left-hand wall as you enter the gallery are two six-foot-by-four-foot realist paintings of parts of vintage Ducati motorcycles. From five feet away they look like photo-realist paintings, but closer-in, brush strokes and paint build-up become evident. The artist wanted these paintings to look almost like photographs but still be about paint and the arrangement of shapes and colors on canvas rather than just about the appearance of the machines, which he obviously loves. "Hypersensitive," acrylic on canvas by Marty Fehl. Photo courtesy Laura HananThe first of these paintings is called “The Bevel Make Me Do It,” a clever pun. It is an extreme close-up with great luminous metallic colors. It seems to the be cowl and parts of the motor. There is a curved section that looks like tinted glass. I thought it might be a montage of different parts, but I asked the artist and it is not. The extreme close view makes it into something abstract and confusing, at least to me, but attractive and beautifully painted.The second of the two paintings is an even more extreme close-up, so close that the motorcycle becomes an abstract configuration in black and white with a few small areas of brown and tan. Imagine a Franz Kline painting in which all the brush strokes are precise and hard-edged. This is a strong painting.There are two actual motorcycles in the show. One of them is mounted by a leather-clad rider with a leather mask that looks like a bird’s face with a long and menacing beak. He’s wearing goggles, and there is a red light behind one of the lenses. The figure inside the clothing is completely covered with leather: boots, helmet and gloves, so it is impossible to tell what the figure is made of. It could be a mannequin, or it could be sculpted of papier mâché or clay or almost anything. It is life-size and convincingly human and surrealistic. According to a printed statement, the beak-like mask is based on the masks medieval plague doctors wore. The leather jacket is the remnant of one Fehl was wearing when he had a recent motorcycle accident; the crash was captured on video and the video is also in the show, projected on the back wall.Also on the back wall is a green-faced painting of Frankenstein’s monster, face only, floating in space with a little red Ducati gas tank for an eye.And there are dada-esque motorcycle helmets on sculpture stands and a sculpture made from a strange motorcycle handle bar that reaches almost floor to ceiling.This show contains elements of pop art, surrealism and dada, and is unlike anything else you’re likely to see in Tacoma.Also included in the gallery are works by ceramic artist Steve Portteus, welder Josh Lippencott, and painter Laura Hanan, all of which were in the previous show at Brick & Mortar. I would prefer seeing more of Fehl’s work, but the inclusion of the other pieces is good for people who missed the previous show.Psycho-Moto-Psycho, Thurs-Sat. noon to 2 p.m., Fri.-Sat., noon to 9 p.m. through Oct. 15, Brick & Mortar Gallery, 811 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.591.2727.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

To Kill a Mockingbird at Harlequin

South Sound Arts - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 6:34am

Published in The News Tribune, Aug. 28, 2015Loren Kattenbraker as Scout and Aaron Lamb as Atticus Finch.
David Wright as the judge, Helen Harvester as Mayella Ewell, and Russ Holmes as Bob Ewell. Photos courtesy Harlquin Productions
The bar is set impossibly high for the stage play of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee and the Oscar-winning film are each among the most popular and highly praised in the history of American film and literature. Playwright Christopher Sergel took on the challenge of adapting “Mockingbird” for the stage, and Olympia’s Harlequin Productions is now running it under the direction of Linda Whitney with three outstanding child actors supported by a large cast of some of Southwest Washington’s finest. Eight-year-old Loren Kattenbraker plays Scout, the loveable central character in the book and movie. She is amazingly expressive and a joy to watch. Nick Hayes, a 7th grader who has appeared on every stage in the Olympia area and even appeared in “Oklahoma” at Seattle’s prestigious 5th Avenue Theater, is Scout’s big brother Jem. His performance is near flawless. Fifth grader Annabelle Samson plays Charles Baker Harris, aka, Dill, and she is delightful. It is also her second cross-dressing role, the previous one being when the played a girl pretending to be a boy in Olympia Family Theater’s “Orphan Train.” All three of these kids are terrific.To say all that should be said about the rest of the cast would take twice the space I’m allowed for the column. Aaron Lamb is solid and believable as Atticus Finch. Scott C. Brown nails the role of Sheriff Heck Tate. (He confessed to this reviewer, who grew up in Mississippi, that he was unsure of getting the Southern accent right. His accent is perfect.) Helen Harvester turns in a performance as the emotionally crippled Mayella Ewell that is worthy of a Tony Award, and Russ Holmes, a longtime favorite of Harlequin audiences, pulls off one of his best performances ever as Bob Ewell. Comedian and actor Morgan Picton shows just what a great actor he can be in the challenging roles of the public prosecutor and as Boo Radley. (If he were not the only bald actor on stage, nobody would suspect these two characters are played by the same actor.) David Wright also does a superb job of playing two quite different characters, the poor farmer Walter Cunningham and Judge Taylor. And Robert Humes puts his heart into a heart-wrenching portrayal of the falsely accused Tom Robinson. Rounding out this terrific cast and each performing at the top of their game are Edsonya Charles, Ann Flannigan, Korja Giles, Walayn Sharples, and DuWayne Andrews.In adapting the story for the stage, Sergel made the dubious choice of having the neighbor, Maudie Atkinson (Flannigan) narrate the story, which in the book and movie was done by Scout. Maudie is a wonderful character, likeable and a rare voice of reason in a town full of bigots and ignoramuses. But her narration was totally unnecessary, serving only to moralize and slow down the flow of the story. Likewise, Sergel’s decision to freeze the action during the mesmerizing court scene for a little scene with Scout and Dill disrupted the story in a way that added nothing. One other thing that marred an otherwise marvelous play was overdoing the dumb-Southern-hick bit in the scene where the townsmen are intent on lynching Tom Robinson. They turned a frightening scene into a comic parody of stereotypical rednecks. Fortunately, Scout stepped up to talk one-on-one with the lynch-mob leader and turned the scene into one of the most touching in the play.The set by Jeannie Beirne captures the feel of 1930s Maycomb, Ga., in a beautifully stylized fashion and allows for complicated set changes with actors moving pieces in full view of the audience in such a way that is not at all distracting. Costumes by Darren Mills are authentic, and Amy Chisman’s lighting is wonderful.“To Kill a Mockingbird” is 2½ hours long with a 20-minute intermission. It includes mature content and racially-charged language.
WHAT: To Kill a Mockingbird WHEN: Thursdays through Saturdays, 8p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. through Sept. 12WHERE: State Theater, 202 E. 4th Ave., OlympiaTICKETS: prices vary, call for detailsINFORMATION: 360-786-0151;
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

North Thurston’s Lawyer Tillman Making His Own Name at Auburn University

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

capital heating and coolingIt was a simple counter. North Thurston was pinned deep in its own territory, beginning the possession on the 6 yard line. The Rams could ill afford anything too complicated or long developing as there was little room for error.

The play, called during the first half of North Thurston’s 2010 football game against cross-town rival Timberline, was designed to give the Rams some much needed breathing room. That was all.

Lawyer Tillman took the hand-off. He got to the 10 before colliding head-on with a Blazer linebacker who appeared to have the senior running back stopped. If the play ended there it would have accomplished what it was set out to achieve. But it didn’t.

First, Tillman’s strength was on display as he plowed through the would-be tackler.

North Thurston alum Lawyer Tillman will graduate from Auburn University in May with a degree in psychology.

North Thurston alum Lawyer Tillman will graduate from Auburn University in May with a degree in psychology.

Next, it was time to show off his speed. He went from a dead stop with defenders closing in, and proceeded to accelerate, pulling away with every stride, resulting in a 95-yard run. He would ultimately step out at the 1 yard line – the only miscue in an otherwise perfectly executed play. He finished the game with a school record 310 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including scoring scampers of 68 and 66 yards, in North Thurston’s 41-28 victory.

Few performances at Lacey’s South Sound Stadium have impressed as much as the one Tillman unleashed that September night, five years ago against the Blazers. This game was the high point of a high school football career filled with highlights.

It’s memorable. It’s a feat worth boasting about.

Tillman’s thoughts looking back on the game?

“Everyone after that game was saying, ‘You, you, you’ to me, but that game was all about the linemen,” Tillman said. “They did all the work.”

Tillman avoids praise more successfully than dodging opposing defenders. Equal parts talent and humbleness, the North Thurston graduate is now on the other side of the country, about to begin his senior season of football at Auburn University. On the academic side, he will graduate in May with a degree in psychology.

His road to Alabama and into the heart of Southeastern Conference football actually started at Southern Oregon University, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) – a far cry from the beast which is SEC football.

Tillman redshirted his freshman year. Had he stayed he would have been a part of SOU’s NAIA National Championship team in 2014, but he didn’t.

Lawyer Tillman carries the football during an Auburn practice . Tillman was named Auburn’s Scout Team Player of the Year in 2014.

Lawyer Tillman carries the football during an Auburn practice . Tillman was named Auburn’s Scout Team Player of the Year in 2014.

“I loved the program at Southern Oregon. It would have been extremely special to stay and win a championship there,” Tillman said, “but at the time it didn’t feel like the right fit. Being a freshman, I was homesick and thought it would be better for me to look elsewhere.”

One of the first places Tillman turned to was Auburn – a university very familiar with Tillman’s name.

Tillman’s father, Lawyer Tillman, Sr., was a former NFL wide receiver and etched his name into Tiger football lore in the mid-1980s. His legendary game-winning touchdown in the closing moments of the 1986 Iron Bowl (between Auburn and University of Alabama Crimson Tide) still resonates with both fan bases. Ask any long-time Alabama fan what they think of the Lawyer Tillman reserve and a cringe will likely follow.

Few knew of Tillman’s bloodlines when he was breaking records at North Thurston. He elected to forge his own path, make a name on his own.

It was the same for him when he decided to walk-on at Auburn.

“I never discussed with (my father) that Auburn was one of the schools I was looking at going to. I actually didn’t tell him I was going there until after I was accepted,” Tillman said. “When I took my visit it just felt like I belonged there. It felt like I was part of a family. Every program says that’s how they are, but for me, that’s exactly what it was from the beginning here.”

Three years into the program, Tillman has yet to see the field during a game, but has provided valuable contributions to a team that won the SEC championship in 2013 and rose as high as No. 2 in the AP poll last year as a member of the scout team.

Despite his college football success, Lawyer Tillman still cites his high school days on the turf of South Sound Stadium as his best memories on the gridiron.

Despite his college football success, Lawyer Tillman still cites his high school days on the turf of South Sound Stadium as his best memories on the gridiron.

“Everyone wants to see playing time,” said Tillman, who was awarded Auburn’s scout team player of the year in 2014, “but you just continue to work hard and do what you can.”

Auburn, which should be in the national title hunt again this year, opens its season September 5 against Louisville before back-to-back conference games against LSU and Mississippi State. Tillman is eyeing the October 3 home game against San Jose State as a chance to make his debut.

“I wanted to try my luck with the big dogs,” Tillman said about enrolling at Auburn. “It ended up being a great choice for me.”

Despite playing in SEC country – the current mecca of college football – Tillman quickly defaults back to his days at North Thurston when asked about his fondest football memory.

Not surprisingly, given his nature, Tillman doesn’t rattle off the record performance against Timberline or any of the other big games he produced. Instead, it’s a simple, subtle story.

“We had just beat Olympic and I remember how happy everyone was. It just felt great being surrounded by that,” Tillman said. “There’s just something about those Friday night lights. You’re going to form a brotherhood at every level of this game, but I don’t think anything will ever match the relationships I had in high school.”


Little School Big Future Founder Kirby Barrantes Brings Relief to Communities in Need

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 6:00am



By Isabelle Morrison

Heritage bank“I think I’ve always had an organization. I just didn’t realize it,” says Kirby Barrantes. “My organization has always been my heart”.

An Occupational Nurse Consultant for the State of Washington Labor and Industries, Kirby grew up in Alangalang, a small town on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. Kirby has always been driven to help others and give back, but when disaster struck his hometown, he decided to take his charitable acts to the next level.

After a typhoon devastated Kirby Barrantes' hometown, he raised funds to help rebuild the town and nearby Brgy. San Isidro Elementary.

After a typhoon devastated Kirby Barrantes’ hometown, he raised funds to help rebuild the town and nearby Brgy. San Isidro Elementary.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, hit the Philippines leaving behind death, destruction and even more struggle for its already impoverished residents.

Kirby visited Alangalang just one month after Haiyan hit to see the destruction firsthand. “When I got there, it was like the typhoon had just happened yesterday — they lost everything,” says Kirby.

Kirby was so heavily impacted by the typhoon’s aftermath that he felt compelled to take action. He was able to raise almost $10,000 through a GoFundMe account and a generous donation from Long Prairie Grey Eagle Public Schools in Minnesota.

The funds went toward providing relief items such as pillows, blankets and mosquito nets to the survivors, as well as rebuilding the capital of Leyte, Brgy. San Isidro.

Although Kirby’s donations greatly helped the Alangalang community’s post-typhoon recovery, Kirby knows that there is still work to be done. Backed by his passion for education and the support of his friends, Kirby recently decided to expand the work he began with Brgy. San Isidro back in 2013.

Kirby Barrantes was able to raise nearly $10,000 through a GoFundMe account and a generous donation from Long Prairie Grey Eagle Public Schools in Minnesota.

Kirby Barrantes was able to raise nearly $10,000 to help the people of his hometown.

Kirby is the founder of a new non-profit organization called Little School Big Future, which strives to assist students living in rural Alangalang with their education so that they can one day secure a career.

“For me, education is something that no one can take away from you. If you have it, you own it,” says Kirby. “If you have a lot of money, you can go poor. Someone who has an education will always have wealth”.

Kirby was fortunate enough to have grown up in a middle-class family in Alangalang. His parents were well known in the community and his ambitious mother was able to send him and his four siblings to private school and college.

For as long as Kirby can remember, he dreamt of being a doctor. Thanks to his education, he was able to achieve his dream of working in the medical field. Now Kirby wants to help less fortunate children achieve their educational dreams.

Kirby Barrantes is the founder of nonprofit organization Little School Big Future.

Kirby Barrantes is the founder of nonprofit organization Little School Big Future.

“All of these kids in the Philippines want to go to school but can’t afford it. I’m not saying we have to make it our responsibility here, but if there’s anything we can do to help, we can show them that there’s something greater outside of where they live,” says Kirby.

Kirby is hopeful that one day, a beneficiary from Little School Big Future will empower us all. To those interested, donations are tax deductible.

To learn more about Little School Big Future, visit the non-profit’s website.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 6:00am



Gray skies and raindrops have returned to Olympia.  We knew it would happen sooner or later and our parched landscape absolutely needs the moisture, hopefully bringing relief to fires burning throughout the state.  I shouldn’t say it (and will regret it come winter, I’m sure) but it’s a welcome change. However, it does change weekend plans a bit for those counting on outdoor recreation.  Never fear.  Our line-up of great things to do throughout the county includes plenty of indoor activities and, for you true north-westerners, some outdoor fun as well.  Enjoy the end of August, Thurston County.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our events calendar.


Verizon Donates $5,000 to OSDEF’s Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 3:02pm



By Kate Scriven

OSDEF thanks Verizon for their generous donation to the Principal's Checkbook Fund.

OSDEF thanks Verizon for their generous donation to the Principal’s Checkbook Fund.

In a morning ceremony at Marshall Middle School, Verizon Wireless VP Milt Doumit presented the Olympia School District Education Foundation with a check for $5,000 to support the foundation’s Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund (PECF).

The Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund (PECF), established in 2007, provides Olympia School District principals with immediate access to funds to purchase items for students and families such as eye glasses, car repairs, power bills, prom tickets, graduation gowns and other items. The PECF has been able to give out nearly $200,000 in assistance since its inception.

Representative Denny Heck, from Washington’s 10th Congressional District, was one of the co-founders of the fund along with his wife Paula Heck, former principal at OSD’s Jefferson Middle School.  Representative Heck spoke at the Thursday morning presentation, sharing his deep appreciation for the donation from Verizon and the success of the fund to fill the gaps for local students and their families.

Also on hand were Dick Cvitanich, Olympia School District Superintendent, Condee Wood, principal of Marshall Middle School, Ryan Gerrits, Dean of Students at Olympia High School, Ryan Hall, president of the OSDEF, and Anne Larsen, immediate past president of the OSDEF.

Cvitanich presented Rep. Heck with a “lifegaurd” t-shirt, sharing how his insight in creating the fund has literally been a lifesaver for so many families and kids within the district over the past eight years.

Ryan Hall spoke to the gathered group sharing, “We are incredibly grateful to Verizon Wireless for being the presenting sponsor at our September 17 breakfast fundraiser for the Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund.  The annual breakfast is the only funding source for this worthy cause and Verizon’s generous donation of $5,000, secured by Representative Heck, is truly remarkable and meaningful.”

Stories of families who have been positively impacted by the fund were shared by Condee Wood and Ryan Gerrits moving many to tears – stories of temporary housing provided to prevent a night on the street, stories of eye exams and glasses purchased opening a whole new world to a vision impaired student, stories of winter coats and boots, backpacks and lunch boxes, food and gas money – small acts making immense impacts.

To support the mission of the Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund, the public is invited to attend the Foundation for Success fundraising breakfast on Thursday, September 17 at the Olympia Center.  The event features OHS basketball coach John Kiley as the MC and former educator and parenting coach Emily McMason as the keynote speaker, presenting a talk on “Removing Barriers to Student Learning.”

The Olympia School District Education Foundation thanks Verizon for its generous donation kicking off this year’s PECF fundraising and hopes to achieve a goal of $35,000 to help principals quickly address student and family needs when they occur.

Click to view slideshow.


Additional Fire Restrictions on the Olympic National Forest

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 10:42am



Submitted by Olympic National Forest

With the drought and wildfires continuing to tap firefighting resources in the Northwest, managers on the Olympic National Forest have re-visited the need for additional campfire restrictions.

Campfires continue to be prohibited in dispersed back country sites, as well as Lena Lake, Elkhorn, Campbell Tree Grove, and Littleton Horse Camp Campgrounds.

Campfires will, additionally, be prohibited in at the Klahanie Campground and Seal Rock Campground.

The Klahanie Campground is an unstaffed campground on the west side of the Peninsula, east of Forks. It is semi-remote off the beaten path without cell phone coverage. Combined with the existing vegetation, a fire start in this area could quickly spread without prompt notification and action.

The Seal Rock Campground is on the east side of the Peninsula, south of Quilcene. Although accessible from Highway 101, local emergency response could be untimely if a fire start is driven by winds from the Hood Canal. This is a particular concern for the adjacent homeowners. This restriction will also align with that of the neighboring Dosewallips State Park.

Where not prohibited, campfires are only allowed in Forest Service installed metal fire rings within Forest Service campgrounds. Campfire must be kept inside the metal ring with flames not more than 12 inches above the rim of the fire ring.

These restrictions will remain in place until rescinded, after substantial and prolonged moisture.

For more information contact Evelyn Morgan, Prevention, Olympic National Forest, 606-776-0604.

Thrifty Thurston Enjoys an End of Summer Olympia Staycation

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

xeroxSad but true: the word “vacation” disappeared from my vocabulary shortly after having my second child. Call me crazy, but it’s neither relaxing nor particularly fun to pack up my tiny tourists and hit the traffic-laden highway. Sightseeing around a nap schedule is tricky at best, as is enforcing appropriate restaurant manners for an entire weekend away.

Olympia Family Theater is located in downtown Olympia and stages plays appropriate for all ages.

Olympia Family Theater is located in downtown Olympia and stages plays appropriate for all ages.

Staycations have become a lovely alternative—a chance to enjoy time together and make memories while remaining firmly in control of the hassle and expense. Even better, staycations give our family an opportunity to further explore our community and enjoy all those activities that all too often get pushed aside by the daily routine. Ironically, the only difficult part is to actually commit to full-time relaxing. I wouldn’t vacuum and dust my hotel room during a destination vacation, nor should I spoil my staycation with intrusive chores.

With a little pre-planning and permission to relax, Olympia can definitely offer something for everyone. The list of ideas below is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point for planning your next staycation.

Enjoyable Art – The Washington Center for the Performing Arts hosts all manner of performances, from speakers to symphonies and everything in between. It’s an excellent venue for enjoying drama, dance, and music. Theater buffs have additional local options including Harlequin Productions, Olympia Family Theater, and Olympia Little Theatre. Music lovers should check out the concert line-up at Traditions Cafe or Rhythm and Rye.

Olympia's East Bay Plaza, the Hands On Children's Museum and LOTT Wet Center make for a kid friendly day of play.

Olympia’s East Bay Plaza, the Hands On Children’s Museum and LOTT WET Center make for a kid friendly day of play.

Fans of visual art can visit many galleries during a stroll through downtown Olympia. Of course, for a slightly different experience, you can make your own art. Painted Plate offers special packages for date nights and parent-child excursions. Check out the calendar at the Let’s Paint! Studio and sign up to create one of their featured paintings step-by-step.

Family-Friendly Fun – Of course, as part of our Thrifty Thurston series, most of the activities listed in this article can be enjoyed with little ones in tow. Check this list for kid-specific fun, or consult ThurstonTalk’s event calendar to look for specific events for your staycation dates. For retro entertainment, head to the Skyline Drive-In in Shelton. They often have a G or PG rated double feature. Looking for something active and enjoyable? The Hands On Children’s Museum is always a popular adventure and Skateland is budget-friendly and suited for any weather. Or, get a little creative and arrange a shopping scavenger hunt in downtown Olympia. Give everyone $10 and tell them to make a purchase commemorating this summer. After perusing stores like Captain Little and Archibald Sisters, you’re bound to wind up at Grandpa’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Parlor for a tasty treat while reviewing everyone’s choices.

Budd Bay Cafe's location on Olympia's waterfront make it a perfect spot for a special summer meal.

Budd Bay Cafe’s location on Olympia’s waterfront make it a perfect spot for a special summer meal.

Fantastic Food – If you need a vacation from your kitchen, consider the following inexpensive and kid-friendly restaurants around town. Perhaps your canine companion wants to come along as well? Leave the littles behind and dine out with your beloved during a romantic couples’ night. For those of us with dietary restrictions, there are plenty of local options for gluten-free dining, ranging from casual sandwich shops to fine Italian cuisine. Additionally, many area restaurants are sourcing local ingredients that offer their patrons fresh, farm-to-table deliciousness.

Leisurely Learning – Ease back into the school year with some educational excursions. Enjoy the interactive exhibits at LOTT’s WET Science Center or take advantage of all that the South Sound Estuary Association has to offer. Visit their headquarters on State Avenue, chat with one of their tan-vested naturalists at a local public beach, or sign up for a Pier Peer at Boston Harbor Marina. Visit a park to enjoy the interpretive plaques offering insights into local history and ecology. Take a trip to a local museum or historical house. Find the free Capitol Campus tour that best fits your family’s interests. Through September 25, horticulturalists lead botanical tours on Fridays at 11:00 a.m. Indoor tours occur daily, year round, starting at 10:00 a.m. on weekdays and 11:00 a.m. on weekends.

 Dr. Attila Talaber.

Be a true tourist in your own town and enjoy our best feature: the water. Photo credit: Dr. Attila Talaber.

Outdoor Adventures – Make the most of these long, dry days before wetter weather sets in. Rent some kayaks from Tugboat Annie’s, or pack a picnic to enjoy at Yashiro Japanese Garden. Play at the park or indulge in a summer swim. Enjoy bikes and beaches while the summer warmth holds. Or bring the whole family (and don’t forget the dog) on one of these recommended hikes. Grab your Discover Pass and enjoy one of the many trailheads, day-use areas, and campgrounds managed by Washington’s Department of Natural Resources. Check here for a great primer on diverse delights of Capitol Forest.

Stay home, Olympia.  Enjoy the final days of summer languishing in the beauty of our very own backyard.  Thurston County offers the pleasures of a vacation without all the hassle. And who knows?  You may find out that your favorite destination is just around the block.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our complete event calendar.


Faces of the Market: Pure Luxe Apothecary’s Leslie McNeilus Crafts Remedies for “Smart, Vibrant Living”

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

batdorflogoThe first thing you should know about Pure Luxe Apothecary is that owner Leslie McNeilus does not make spa products.

Yes, among the many things she creates are body scrubs and creams and makeup removers. But, make no mistake. She makes wellness products that just happen to be luxurious.

“Everything we use on our skin and in our homes should invite health, well-being, and joy,” states McNeilus on her gorgeous website.

Leslie McNeilus, proprietress of Pure Luxe Apothecary, loves meeting new customers at the Olympia Farmers Market.

Leslie McNeilus, proprietress of Pure Luxe Apothecary, loves meeting new customers at the Olympia Farmers Market.

Her products aren’t just formulated to smell good or to pamper you. Rather, their purpose is to keep your mind and body functioning at their best.

This is one way Pure Luxe Apothecary sets itself apart from others in the industry, but it’s not the only difference. McNeilus, originally from Iowa, does not just dabble in making her products. She has a degree in Integrated Health: Complementary Therapies from the University of Westminster in England. She knows essential oils, both their medicinal properties and the quantities in which they should be dispensed.

When I sat down with the friendly, ever-smiling McNeilus in the Olympia Farmers Market garden after closing time, I asked her what knowledge she would like to impart to those who have attached themselves to the essential oil craze.

“I could spend a lifetime learning about oils and still just be scratching the surface of all there is to know,” she begins. “There’s a lot of safety to be aware of. These things get absorbed and they do affect you. I would advise others to treat these as therapeutic and medicinal and not just a fun thing to play with. It is fun and amazing and beautiful, but it is like a supplement, in a sense.”

Not only are Pure Luxe Apothecary’s products effective, their packaging and display is classically stunning, making it difficult to pass by McNeilus’ stall at the farmers’ market without stopping for a closer look. With old-fashioned bottles reminiscent of, well, an apothecary (always glass, never plastic), and clean black and white styling, the packaging keeps the focus on what is inside of each bottle, yet offers its own, no-nonsense credibility.

In addition to creating amazing combinations of ingredients to help your body, McNeilus shares her eye for floral design at her market stall each week as part of the display of her apothecary products.

In addition to creating amazing combinations of ingredients to help your body, McNeilus shares her eye for floral design at her market stall each week as part of the display of her apothecary products.

Both the classic design and the fact that McNeilus makes natural remedies can be traced back to her seven years residing in London.

McNeilus’ first career was in higher education, specifically in advising students in study abroad options. “After grad school, I had a choice between a real job and a poorly-paid internship in London, and, of course, I took the opportunity in London,” she laughs.

When her internship was up, McNeilus found herself wanting to stay on in England, so she became a student. She’d always been interested in botany and naturally gravitated toward a program in wellness.

“I love learning, and I always, always, always wanted to study these things, even as a kid. Who knew there was an actual degree in it? I’d never looked into this field to study while I was in the U.S.,” shares McNeilus. “I wanted to help people learn how to take care of themselves. I wanted to create and I didn’t want to sit an office anymore.”

Katrin Fuernschuss, McNeilus’ neighbor while living in London, has gone on to become the graphic designer behind the enticing, elegant look of Pure Luxe Apothecary. “She’s amazing,” gushes McNeilus. “She’s lovely and full of energy and creativity. She’s always offered to help and has been a great source of inspiration and support.”

After her return to the United States, and following her fiancé to Olympia from Iowa, McNeilus found herself making her helpful potions for friends and family as gifts. She opened an Etsy shop a year ago, then took the plunge and secured a space as a guest vendor at the Olympia Farmers Market. She creates from a workshop space at her Olympia home where she also delights in gardening.

You can find Leslie McNeilus at the Olympia Farmers Market on Thursdays.

You can find Leslie McNeilus at the Olympia Farmers Market on Thursdays.

“I’m always in the garden or planning things incessantly in my head,” she laughs. This hobby is evident in the fabulous floral displays at her market stall and makes sense for her, given her interest in the wellness properties of plants and their oils.

McNeilus’ products contain no parabens, synthetics, colorants, gluten, additives, or preservatives. One of her personal favorites is the Neroli Face Mist. “It smells beautiful and is so soothing,” she shares. She also loves the Rich Regeneration Cream. “I love the smell and the feel,” says McNeilus.

She has a few different cleansers in the works, along with cold and flu remedies. “I want to play with smelling salts a little bit, too. I love that old idea,” she says.

When the Pure Luxe Apothecary stall is not at the market, McNeilus and her products can be found at her online shop, Focus Fitness, and at various fairs, festivals, and markets.

McNeilus encourages market-goers to stop by and say hello. “I love being down here at the Olympia Farmers Market, getting to know people and what they’re interested in. That’s been really fun. I really enjoy that aspect of my business. I get a lot of ideas from my conversations with people that I jot down in my notebook. Come chat!”

Pure Luxe Apothecary

Facebook: Pure Luxe Apothecary


Chris Woods: On Learning, Legacy, and Leaving

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

color graphicsTumwater, I hope you know how lucky you are.

It’s rare in life to be truly in a moment and to deeply understand that you are witnessing an era. For the last five years, we teachers and students at Capital High School (CHS) have known beyond the shadow of a doubt that we have been fortunate.

Principal Chris Woods, we are going to miss you. And, yes, I write this with all the bias one can imagine. He was our fearless leader, the likes of which one doesn’t see often in the span of a career.

Woods, seen here with Capital High School teacher Jennifer Fabritius at the 2015 graduation ceremonies, says, “I will always be working in some capacity to make a positive impact on kids.”

Woods, seen here with Capital High School teacher Jennifer Fabritius at the 2015 graduation ceremonies, says, “I will always be working in some capacity to make a positive impact on kids.”

When Woods, the son of a recently-retired teacher and the brother of Griffin School District’s superintendent, was first hired as CHS’s principal, many moms in my book club were upset. He was their beloved principal at Pioneer Elementary School at the time, the school where they’d sent their first-borns to learn under Woods’ reassuring smile.

And now I know how they must have felt. I had no comprehension, then, of the jackpot CHS had hit by hiring Woods, an Olympia native who graduated from CHS in 1991.

For the past five years, those two days of back-to-school staff meetings were actually fun.  Woods would play music during breaks and make us laugh, all while simultaneously inspiring us with reminders and YouTube videos of how we positively impact kids.

“We’re more effective at what we do when we’re having fun,” shares Woods, “and the students notice it when we enjoy what we do. It’s contagious.”

Growing up in Olympia, “fun” was sort of Woods’ middle name. With a knack for goofing off and a well-honed stubborn streak, he was, to use his words, “a pretty active kid.”

“In third grade, teachers were always trying to find a way to keep me engaged and behaving. One of my rewards was to go to the self-contained special ed classroom to work with kids,” he recalls.

This was a turning point for Woods. “Betty Kinerk was the teacher in that classroom, and I realized how much I loved it.”

Chris Woods is Tumwater School District’s new Executive Director of Student Learning. He is seen here in his new office with the art-work of former student Emily Hauge.

Chris Woods is Tumwater School District’s new Executive Director of Student Learning. He is seen here in his new office with the art-work of former student Emily Hauge.

Woods went on to work with Mark Grindstaff at Perpetual Motion in middle school, helping with camps. “I knew I wanted to work with kids one day. I just didn’t know what that was going to look like yet.”

After graduating from Central Washington University, Woods took his first teaching position in third grade at Olympia’s Hansen Elementary, working alongside Kinerk. When he would run into his former teachers, they were pleasantly surprised at his career choice. “I think I had some doubters in the beginning,” says Woods, “but I knew I had a lot to offer and could show that anyone can be successful if they work hard.”

The Olympia community watched his ambition and drive get channeled into a career that has affected countless students, parents, teachers, and community members across the span of the Olympia School District.

Woods earned his Master’s degree in school administration and completed his principal’s internship at Reeves Middle School. His first hire was as principal of Pioneer Elementary where  his own children were attending. In 2010 Woods completed his superintendent credentials, knowing he’d use them someday.

Though it was a difficult choice to leave Pioneer and transition to CHS, Woods felt pulled by the words of friend Scott Seaman who asked him, “Have you ever thought about the impact you could have on a community as a high school principal?”

This tipped the scale for Woods, who then accepted the position eagerly, while also asking himself about the impact a community could have on him – the opportunity to go back to where you came from and leave one last footprint.

To raise awareness and money to aid Marysville Pilchuck High School, Mr. Woods challenged the student body to pay $1 each to tape him to a post. When the chair was removed at the end of lunch, enough tape had been wrapped that he stayed.

To raise awareness and money to aid Marysville Pilchuck High School,Woods challenged the student body to pay $1 each to tape him to a post. When the chair was removed at the end of lunch, enough tape had been wrapped that he stayed.

“I never imagined the impact accepting that position would have, or the relationships I would form, or just how hard it would be to leave,” confesses Woods.

During his tenure at CHS, Woods focused on unity among the staff, which trickled down into unity among students. He talked with kids at lunch and ended nearly every email to his staff with: “Please let me know if there’s anything you need that I can help you with.” Woods never feared showing his humanity and was moved to tears on occasion.

He was for the people, by the people, with the people. Think of your high school principal and you will know that this is not always the case. Woods’ brand of fun was fun that got results. Fun that got teachers to dance on the first day of school, and fun that made kids want to make him proud.

Woods gave us a sense of community.

And that is why our hearts broke when we received an unexpected email from Woods saying he would be moving on to the Tumwater School District as Executive Director of Student Learning, the equivalent of an assistant superintendent. It is a goodbye that still produces tears months later.

“When you’re putting everything into what you love, it’s never going to be easy to leave. Those five years were pretty amazing, and I’m very, very thankful,” shares Woods. “I’m so grateful to all the people who supported me in Olympia, who helped me learn along the way and gave me opportunities. So many people have invested in me.”

Why leave now, just when things were getting really good?

Woods taught us we were a team capable of affecting great positive change in our students’ lives. He knew we’d found our ‘we’ mentality – a collective voice and power as a staff. He knew we could successfully sustain that energy alone. We were ready, we just didn’t know it.

Woods’ ultimate goal is to serve as a school district superintendent. The first step, then, is to serve as an assistant superintendent. He knew finding a position in town, avoiding uprooting his family, would be challenging as the specialized positions are tough to find.

Mr. Woods promotes positivity happening at Capital High School on his Twitter page. You can find him at @chris_cwoods. He also uses #ontheroadtoawesome frequently.

Chris Woods’ positive impact on students and staff at Capital High School will be felt forever.

When the position of Executive Director of Student Learning opened up in neighboring Tumwater, Woods saw the unique opportunity to not only advance his career goals, but to learn from the methods, employees, and students of a different school district.

This move, he figures, will make him a better superintendent one day.

“I’m excited about the idea of supporting principals. Having been an administrator at all three levels, I know how hard that job is. I know the greatest impact we can have on student achievement is through our building principals. They’re the ones who are working directly with staff, and staff are working directly with kids. I’m excited about having an even larger impact on instruction and assessment,” he continues, ”as everything on the teaching and learning side falls under my title. I’m learning so much.”

Woods, who often arrived at CHS at 6:00 a.m., is also looking forward to more time with his family. “Even though I am working year-round now for the first time, my evenings are open, and I have more time to be with them.”

So, Tumwater, we from Olympia tip our hats to you. You’ve got a gem on your hands. May you love every minute of your time with the ever-shiny Chris Woods.

We sure did.


Officer Involved Shooting Documents Released; Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations Meets

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 11:59pm

By Janine
The Thurston County Prosecutor's Office released today a large portion of the documents related to the investigation into the Olympia police officer involved shooting on May 21st of two African-American men in Olympia.  
That information can be viewed at includes transcriptions of witness statements and Olympia police officer Ryan Donald, who shot Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin.
A statement today on the Olympia Police Department website says:
In our promise to be transparent with our community we are relaying this information and link. The Prosecutor has told us that this is the majority of the information, although a few pieces of the investigation are still under review. Please note that this is not the Prosecutor’s decision or resolution on this case. The Prosecutor’s Office will publicly announce when his office has completed the review and made a decision.
The Olympia Police Department, like our community, is reading and digesting the investigative reports that were just released. We are all patiently waiting for this process to be completed. We appreciate the thoughtful and detailed work that the independent investigative team and the Prosecutor’s Office is conducting with this important matter for our community.
If you have questions about this material, please contact the Thurston County Prosecutor Office at 360.786.5540.
Jim Johnson, a resident in the Olympia area near Cooper Point Road and Langridge where the shooting of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin took place on May 21, heard the shots that evening. He was present at tonight’s first meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations.
Johnson was one of many community members who spoke out at a May 26 Olympia City Council meeting devoted to the shooting.  
His testimony to the council was transcribed by this reporter in a May 26 article at Little Hollywood, In that testimony, five days after the shooting, he revealed that neither he or his wife or neighbors had yet been interviewed by the police.
Speaking with Johnson after tonight’s Ad Hoc Committee meeting, Johnson said he was aware his witness report was part of what was released by the Prosecutor’s Office this afternoon, but has not had a chance to read it yet.  He said that the day after he gave his testimony to the city council, the police came to his house and he was formally interviewed.
Asked what he thought of tonight’s meeting of the committee, he showed this reporter his public comment sheet. It said, “This is appalling – two hours and you did not even schedule the next meeting (the purpose of which is to schedule the first opportunity for the public to comment).”

Above: Ad Hoc Committee on Community and Police Relations Member Curt Pavola introduces himself to the audience. In his day job, he works for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and served on the Olympia City Council from 2001-2005.  He said he came to Olympia when he about 25 years old as a gay man, at a time when there were no laws for the protection against discrimination in housing and employment. He felt welcomed here and worked with others for the passage of those laws, but also recognizes that the spirit of a law is not necessarily implemented. He said that the city’s comprehensive plan, particularly the chapter on policing, is a good platform for implementing and expressing our community values.
Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations
The first meeting of a city organized committee of five citizens was held tonight at Garfield Elementary School in the multi-purpose room. The group is composed of Reiko Callner, Kerensa Mabwa, Curt Pavola, Clinton Petty, Alejandro Rugarcia, and ex-officio member Lt. Aaron Jelcick of the Olympia Police Department.
Hearing the speakers was difficult at times for many audience members. A loud fan went on intermittently throughout the meeting, and some members of the group had their backs to the audience. About 40 people were in attendance at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting was audiotaped by the City of Olympia.
The group was tasked by the Olympia City Council with receiving information from the community about methods for engaging underrepresented and minority groups on policing practices and to seek input on a process for engaging the public on implementing police-worn body cameras.
The two hour meeting this evening focused on introductions, a review of the open public meetings act and public records act, a review of the committee charter, and discussion about future meeting dates and locations.
It was very late into the meeting that the Ad Hoc Committee co-chair Reiko Callner acknowledged the elephant in the room: the shooting of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin by an Olympia police officer.
“We’re the only group asking these (police-related) questions right now…we need to listen to all of it even if it’s not on task with our charter,” said committee member co-chair Curt Pavola.
The group anticipates meeting again in about a week and a half but did not set a date, time or location. Pavola said he hoped the group could meet in different locations around the community and get different people to drop in from area neighborhoods.
Callner acknowledged at the end of the meeting that the acoustics of the room were difficult, and microphones were needed for future meetings. She said that city hall can accommodate those needs as well as televising meetings through Thurston Community Television.
It was also suggested that the public should be asked their thoughts about locations and future forum topics.
Community Members Take The Lead
A group called Unity in the Community was organized in response to the shooting and will have a meeting on September 10, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Olympia Center, Room A. The purpose of the meeting is to provide the community an opportunity to react to and discuss the outcome of the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office findings, anticipated in early September. 
“If this had happened to a couple of blonde, blue eyed kids, this (the shooting) probably wouldn’t have happened, so that started (the group), but it’s also an opportunity to have a series of conversations about institutional racism and oppression,” said Kathy Baros Friedt, a member of Unity in the Community.
“....It’s past time,” she continued. “There are so many things right about having this conversation about race that didn’t exist before….and the faith community is socially engaged and more inclusive than ever before.” 
For more information about the Olympia Police Department, the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations, and community conversations about the shooting in Olympia on May 21, go to Little Hollywood at and type key words into the search engine.

Star Wars Night

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 2:08pm
Event:  Fri, 09/25/2015 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Children and families can celebrate Star Wars and reading with crafts, activities, and refreshments at the Tumwater Timberland Library. Free tickets will be available at the library information desk beginning Friday, September 11. The library is normally closed at this time and will be open only for the program. Sponsored by the Friends of the Tumwater Timberland Library.

Location: Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater WA 98501. 
Phone: 360-943-7790. 
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Long-Term Care Financial Basics

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 2:06pm
Event:  Wed, 09/09/2015 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Start today to prepare for the cost of long-term care and understand Medicaid pre-planning. Barry Gesche, long-term care broker, will discuss the nine steps that will give you knowledge today about how to plan for potential long-term care issues. This event will be repeated at the Tenino Timberland Library on Wednesday, September 23 @5:00 p.m.

Location: Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater WA 98501. 
Phone: 360-943-7790. 
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Introduction to Ashtanga (Power) Yoga

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 1:15pm
Event:  Mon, 09/14/2015 - 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Get a glimpse into how yoga can empower your soul. Dive into the flow with power yoga. All levels from beginners to advanced are welcome. Bring your own mat, water bottle and small towel. Return home feeling cleansed, strengthened, and motivated—and ready to stand in your power.   There are four sessions offered: 9/14, 9/21, 10/5, and 10/12. Please register by calling 943-7790.

Location: Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater WA 98501. 
Phone: 360-943-7790. 
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The Washington Center Now Collecting Items for Firefighter Supply Drive

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 1:11pm



Submitted by The Washington Center for the Performing Arts 

Our beautiful state is in the midst of one of the worst wild fire seasons in history. Firefighters in Washington state are battling more than a dozen wildfires, and concerns about building destruction and a lack of resources are growing along with the blazes.

Thousands of men and women are out working tirelessly, risking their lives to protect and save our beautiful state and here’s our chance to help.  The following items are being collected:

Trail Mix
Beef Jerky
Granola Bars
Foot powder
Baby Wipes
Socks, t-shirts and underwear (Cotton, No Synthetics)
Tents – needed urgently

Donations are be accepted at:

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts
512 Washington St SE

Call 360-753-8585 if you have questions. Thank you for your support.

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