Recent local blog posts

Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau Welcomes Jeff Bowe

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 2:49pm


Submitted by The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau (OLTVCB) The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau (OLTVCB) is excited to announce Jeff Bowe as the new director of sales.  Bowe will focus on driving conferences, meetings, tour and travel groups to the region with an emphasis on conferences related to beer, wine, spirits, agriculture, art and culture. […]

The Story of Cassandra Terwilleger: Abuse of the Homeless in Olympia

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 10:57am

On 09/10/2016, I was walking home from work when I saw what looked like a domestic violence situation. I stopped and interrogated both the seriously injured woman and the man shouting at each other. The man, known as "Blue," walked off, pissed as all hell, and I began talking to the woman.

This picture was taken at the Interfaith shelter at First Christian Church, this is what she looked like when I found her.


She told me she fell of her bike trying to swerve away from a car. She had been to Capital Medical Center twice and St. Peter's once in the 5 days before. She told me that after she admitted to being an addict, doctors treated her like a criminal, not a patient. At Capital Medical Center, they manhandled her, leaving her with arm damage which has left damning consequences.

Having once been homeless, I am familiar with how medical facilities treat the homeless, whether addicts or not. Even in hospitals, the homeless are
treated like criminals for simply trying to live another day.

Cassandra's plan was to go to Harborview, and I didn't have means to get her there. So, I took her directly to the First Christian Church shelter. The shelter staff and Cassandra worked out a solution, while I stayed until I knew what the outcome would be. A staffer by the name of Bryan took Cassandra to St. Peter's Hospital, hoping that if she had a non-homeless advocate, that she would receive better treatment.

Here are the pictures I took of Cassandra at First Christian, she told me that she wanted her story heard. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Morningside Asks: Could it be You?

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 8:56am


Submitted by Morningside We haven’t found the right Job Developer yet! So, now may be the perfect time for you to join the best. Morningside has been a premier provider of employment services to adults with disabilities in Western Washington for more than 50 years. As a Job Developer you are responsible for developing assessment […]

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 7:52am


I still have a nice stash of candles, batteries and fresh water left from last weekend’s “storm”. The end result of the less than dramatic weather system is I’m prepared for the stormy season ahead. For now, though, I’ll focus on preparing for the weekend ahead full of fall fun with my family and community events throughout […]

Julianna Salanoa Dominates the Middle for Timberline High School Volleyball

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 6:57am


Coach Krista Manke desperately needed someone to fill one of the outside hitter positions. Timberline High School’s volleyball team was a machine in 2013, posting an impressive 21-1 record with the Blazers’ lone setback occurring in the first round of the 3A state tournament to eventual runner-up Holy Names. After suffering their first defeat, the […]

Save a Buck at Thurston County Thrift Shops

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 6:00am


Who doesn’t like a bargain? Whether you have never ventured into a thrift store or are a veteran “thrifter” like me, thrift-shopping is an ideal way to look for some treasures while finding great deals. Thrifting has gained popularity in recent years (cue the Macklemore song) as a way to not only save money, but […]

Producing with a Purpose: An Idea, a Fellowship, a Livelihood at VETS_CAFE

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 6:00am


“A Nation is made of paper ideas, a country is made of soil and its produce,” Deston Denniston the Director of VETS_CAFE states. VETS_CAFE, short for “Veteran’s Entrepreneurial Training and Studies in Conservation, Agriculture, Forestry and Ecology,” is due to earn their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status this November after four blooming years of creating more outlets […]

Krystal Barkus Hired as Events Coordinator for Thurston County Chamber

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 2:27pm


Submitted by the Thurston County Chamber The Thurston County Chamber hired a new events coordinator, Krystal Barkus. Born and raised in Thurston County, Barkus is a 2005 graduate of North Thurston High School, and a graduate of Central Washington University where she majored in Tourism Management and was actively involved in the Recreation and Tourism […]

Lacey Engineer Wins State Excellence Award

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 1:53pm


Submitted by SCJ Alliance Quoting Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” And that habit of excellence, cultivated over his decades-long career as an engineer, has earned Scott Sawyer a prestigious award from the state’s American Public Works Association (APWA). Scott, a principal at SCJ Alliance, […]

Small Numbers Equal Big Results for Rainier Football

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 6:00am


Plenty goes into one of Terry Shaw’s practices, but no aspect for the Rainier High School football coach is quicker or easier than roll call. The Mountaineers only feature 19 players on their roster this season – not even enough to do a full scrimmage at practice. When Shaw does a walkthrough to showcase the […]

Thrifty Thurston Finds Family Fall Activities around Olympia

Thurston Talk - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 6:00am


The sun of summer has set and the leaves have changed from green to a deep, autumn orange. Pumpkin spice lattes are warming the hands of fall enthusiasts and the rain boots have replaced many beloved pairs of flip flops. We are knee deep in the season and with the weather changing, many people develop […]

New Plans for Olympia’s “Mistake on the Lake:” Residential, Restaurant, Gym, Pool

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 10:55pm

Above: Looking north from the switchback trail on the State Capitol Campus toward downtown Olympia, Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains, a vacant, nine story building stands in the middle of the view. Local developer Ken Brogan says he is under contract to purchase the former office building and proposes to redevelop it into a mixed use residential apartment complex.
By Janine
Ken Brogan soon hopes to be the new owner of the nine story building in downtown Olympia, best known by critics as The Mistake on the Lake, and has a full set of plans for it. 

Others have been working for years toward its possible demolition to restore the original, open scenic view north to Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains.
Brogan met with city staff on Wednesday morning to discuss redevelopment of the two parcel site, which includes the nine story building and another vacant, one story building. 

The nine story building is also known as the Capitol Center Building, and The Views on 5th.

The proposed development would convert the nine story building to a mixed use project containing 136 apartment units, and a 6,364 square foot restaurant and café. 

The one story building nearby would be rebuilt into a new three story structure with an underground parking structure for residents, administrative offices, a rooftop swimming pool, and a fitness gym along the frontage of 4th Avenue, which would be open to the public.  It is uncertain if the pool would be open to the public.

The parcels are bounded by 4th Avenue West, 5th Avenue SW, Simmons Street SW, just south of Bayview Market, and Sylvester St. SW, which is next to the Heritage Park Fountain.
Built in 1965 and vacant for over ten years, the blighted nine story building has had a long and tortuous history, and at this rate, despite its location, is old enough to be of interest to historic preservationists for its mid-century architecture.
Homeless individuals currently sleep in and around the buildings and windows are often broken. Brogan, who has not yet taken ownership of the property, said that he and his team spend “everyday” trying to figure out what to do about the situation.
Above: Local developer Ken Brogan speaks with City of Olympia building official Todd Cunningham on Wednesday morning.
Nicole Floyd, city senior planner and manager for the project, led the discussion among key staff who took turns asking high level, clarifying questions, discussing codes, requirements, and concerns involving building, engineering, fire, urban forestry, and public works standards. 

Brogan submitted his plans to the city on September 28 and has not yet filed a land use application.
Among other comments, staff said a traffic impact analysis would be required, and the project would need to conform to the new Low Impact Development standards that will take effect December 1. Brogan said he anticipates submitting an application after that date and would comply with all current standards.
Staff expressed subtle and not so subtle enthusiasm about the project.
“It’s an exciting project, and an opportunity to clean up the area down there,” started city building official Todd Cunningham, who also admitted that the project was a complicated one. 
The building's height is non-conforming and is grandfathered into an area that has a current height limit of 35 feet, however, the structure cannot be enlarged or expanded in size.
There will be opportunities for public involvement throughout the land use process, which will start with a neighborhood meeting after Brogan submits a land use application. The project will be subject to State Environmental Policy Act review, which will be led by city senior planner Cari Hornbein.
Causing confusion for some is the fact that previously submitted plans for the building to be converted into a hotel are vested.

“The previous land use approval was for a hotel, which is still vested. That means an applicant can move forward with building permits to convert the existing building to a hotel. The new proposal is not vested. The applicant must file a new land use review application which must be approved by the city before building permits can be issued and the project constructed,” explained Tim Smith, principal planner for the City of Olympia, after the meeting.
The area is zoned Waterfront Urban – Housing. Smith says that no portion of the property is within shoreline jurisdiction.
Above: Waterfront indeed. A relatively tame storm surge from Budd Inlet spilled over onto Sylvester Street in downtown Olympia in March 2016, reaching 4th Avenue and the Oyster House restaurant. The nine story Capitol Center Building and another vacant building proposed to be redeveloped are in the flood zone. City officials told developer Ken Brogan on Wednesday that he will have to plan to accommodate a 16 foot sea level rise.
Jerry Reilly, chair of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, attended Wednesday’s meeting.
In an interview with Little Hollywood, Reilly praised the city’s purchase and demolition of two nearby, blighted buildings, in its effort toward the creation of a great civic space on the isthmus.
He is also pleased with the passage of last year’s ballot measure to create the city’s Metropolitan Park District that enabled the city’s purchase of Kaiser Heights, a wooded parcel near Ken Lake, and the LBA Woods. However, Reilly said he would like to remind councilmembers that a leading argument for the MPD’s passage was to also make more feasible the removal of the nine story building.
“Eleven months have gone by since over 60 percent of Olympia voters approved the creation of the Metropolitan Park District. One of the key selling points of the MPD was its potential to make more likely the removal of the Capitol Center Building.

“We may be on the verge of an historic missed opportunity to purchase and remove this building. The building is now at the bottom of its market value. The question now, most often heard from people regarding this building is, ‘Why was it allowed to be built in the first place?’  The question in the future may be, “Why didn't we remove it when we had the chance?
“The people of Olympia intensely dislike this building. They have told us this on many occasions, through an initiative signed by nearly 5,000 registered voters, a Trust for Public Lands poll, the Elway poll, and the positive vote for the MPD. If redevelopment proceeds, we will endure this Mistake on the Lake for another fifty years. Time is running out,” said Reilly.
As for Brogan’s designs, Reilly called them “interesting,” but questioned why he would want to remodel a building built on fill in a floodplain susceptible to liquefaction.
Little Hollywood’s attempts to speak with Brogan were somewhat unsuccessful.
After asking Brogan a few questions, he discontinued speaking with Little Hollywood after twice asking, “Do you support the project or are you opposed to the project?” Further conversation was apparently conditional on my response.
Little Hollywood responded, “If you read my writing, I try to be fair and offer new perspectives. I have fans on both sides of the issue. I tend to stick to the facts and let other people’s comments provide balance,” and suggested he read my articles.
Brogan did say that he thinks the nearby 123 4thAvenue building is a big compliment to downtown Olympia, and if given the opportunity to pursue his project, he would use local contractors.
Above: The interior of the Capitol Center Building is fully gutted. The windows on the first floor are often broken and a source of easy entry into the building.

For more interior photos and information about the Capitol Center Building, aka The Mistake on the Lake or The Views on 5th, hotel plans, the isthmus, scenic views, Jerry Reilly, the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, the city’s Downtown Strategy, king tides and sea level rise, go to Little Hollywood and type key words into the search button. 
Story Clarifications, October 20: The original article made it sound like the underground garage would be under the nine story building. It would be beside it, as part of the three story building. Also, in preparation for sea level rise to 16 feet, the elevation is in relation to mean sea level, and the sidewalk at that location is about 12 feet.

What can people do to help?

Works in Progress - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 9:48pm

The Chaplin-Thompson trial is scheduled to begin on October 11, 2016, at the Thurston County Courthouse. The Chaplin-Thompson family has requested that the community support them by showing up at court. Seating is limited, but overflow crowds will be accommodated in another room with a live feed. Check the Courthouse schedule for more information.

The Chaplin-Thompson family is also in need of wheelchair-accessible housing. At a recent community meeting, Crystal Chaplin expressed that the family is having difficulties finding a landlord that is willing to rent to the family due to the pending trial.

You can find more information about community meetings, court dates and how to contact the family through Facebook:

Call or email Jon Tunheim at the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office ASAP and request that all charges be dropped against Chaplin and Thompson: 360-786-5540

Sign a petition to get the charges dropped:

The post What can people do to help? appeared first on Works in Progress.

Lt. Jelcick’s SRB questions for Officer Donald

Works in Progress - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 9:47pm

Lt. Aaron Jelcick of the Olympia Police Department’s Shooting Review Board had four pages of questions for Officer Donald similar to those raised by WIP and the Olympia community. This is a summary of that document, including Jelcick’s hand-written notes of Donald’s responses.

The document is in three sections. The first concerned Donald’s training and knowledge of policy and contained ten questions. There are no notes as to Donald’s replies. Donald is specifically asked to explain how “life-threatening behavior” is defined.

Jelcick asks about the “force tools” Donald had with him that night and his training on the use of said tools. Donald was also asked to explain “force tools, tactics and timing” as well as “tactical guidelines on high-risk field interviews.” Jelcick inquired whether Donald had ever been “given direction or instruction about engaging with high-risk suspects without a backup.”

In the next section, Jelcick had over twenty questions regarding the call at Safeway and Donald’s first contact with Chaplin and Thompson. Only three have handwritten notes indicating Donald’s answers. Jelcick starts by asking Donald about what information he had going into the situation and whether he considered waiting for backup before making initial contact. Jelcick notes that when that contact was made, Donald had not turned on his overhead lights but had shined his vehicle spotlight on them. Donald was asked if he believed the suspects knew he was a police officer and to explain why or why not.

Jelcick asked Donald why he removed his handgun from his holster. His note reads Donald thought “he might rush me.” When queried whether he knew backup was on the way, Donald said yes. Jelcick pressed further, “Did you feel, based on the information you had from the Safeway incident, the suspect’s threatening behavior with the skateboard [only one had a skateboard, true?], the fact that they were bigger than you, the low light conditions, the fact that there were back-up officers en-route, and the lack of exigency/community safety risks, was it reasonable to try to detain these suspects without a back-up officer?” No answers are recorded.

Jelcick continued to be concerned about Donald’s safety, asking, “In your statement, you mentioned that you had prior knowledge that a skateboard could be used as a weapon, and that you know people have been killed by them. Why did you re-holster your firearm, leave an area of cover, and engage suspects who have displayed assaultive behavior and are armed with a deadly weapon by yourself?”

There are three more questions about Donald’s decisions before moving on to the final section entitled “2nd contact with suspects.”  WIP is including the full text, including both questions and Jelcick’s handwritten notes recording Donald’s testimony.

Q: Why did you decide to run on foot to the area where the suspects entered the roadway instead of using your police vehicle to set a high visibility perimeter?

A: Thought I might lose sight of them when I turned my car around, I could have [note ends]

Q: What is your training on setting perimeters?

A: [space left blank]

Q: You indicated in your statement if you had another contact with the suspects that you believed they would assault you again. With this belief, why did you put yourself in a position where you might have another confrontation that would lead to deadly force, without having other officers that may be able to use less lethal force options?

A: I went to a position to set perimeter not to pursue them – thought [note ends]

Q: When you observed the subject wearing the dark shirt with the skateboard approximately 12 ft. from you why did you pull out gun and point it at him?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Did you consider any less lethal options at this point? If not, why?

A: He almost immediately stood up w/ skateboard over his head, I had no choice but deadly force.

Q: As the suspect in the dark shirt approached you with the skateboard raised, do you remember giving any verbal commands? If, so what were the commands?

A: Get on the ground, just get on the ground.

Q: How many times did you fire your weapon?

A: I don’t know.

Q: At what point did you stop firing your weapon?

A: When he fell on the ground.

Q: After the subject with the skateboard fell to the ground, did you consider him still a threat to your immediate safety?

A: No – not an immediate threat.

Q: At what point did you reload your handgun?

A: After suspect went down.

Q: At the time of the reload, did you consider transitioning to other less lethal force tools?

A: Yes – but I didn’t have time – and I wanted to be sure I would be effective.

Q: As the subject with the white shirt began to approach you, did you give verbal commands?

A: Yes. Get on ground, get on ground.

Q: Was the subject in the white shirt armed with any visible weapons?

A: No weapons.

Q: Did you consider using a less lethal force tool to stop the advance by the suspect in the white shirt? Please explain your answer.

A: Yes – but could not – not enough time – he was focused on my gun and I could not transition.

Q: Could you have retreated to a location of safety?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Why did you conclude that the suspect in the white shirt was going to try to disarm you?

A: Yes – he was focused on my gun and closing distance.

Q: Have you received training on firearms retention with assaultive suspects?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Have you had unarmed suspects advance on you with aggression before? If so, how did you respond?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Why was this advance by an unarmed suspect different from those incidents?

A: Never had a suspect get that close and continue to advance w/ gun out.

Q: Why did you use deadly force against the subject in the white shirt?

A: [space left blank]

–Candace Mercer


The post Lt. Jelcick’s SRB questions for Officer Donald appeared first on Works in Progress.

Did Bryson Chaplin use his skateboard as a weapon?

Works in Progress - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 9:46pm

Much of Officer Donald’s narrative centers around his fear of being assaulted by Bryson Chaplin hitting him with his skateboard. For supporting evidence, Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim pointed to what he says was similar behavior when Chaplin was at the Safeway on Cooper Point Rd. earlier that night. Stills taken from Safeway security camera footage and included in the Shooting Review Board binder do not support this accusation.

In his statement, Donald says that Chaplin raised the board over his head in an attempt to hit him with it. At no time in the Safeway video does Chaplin appear to make this motion with his skateboard.

At the 12:48 a.m. time stamp, footage taken outside of the store shows Chaplin swinging his board in a motion similar to that of a baseball bat, to the side, as opposed to over his head. There is nobody else in the frame when Chaplin does this. His motivation is unclear but it does not appear to be malevolent.

As Chaplin attempted to leave the store at 12:52 a.m., carrying a case of beer, he is confronted by Safeway employees Tammy Brown and Jason Gray. Chaplin throws the case of beer in the employee’s direction, where it hits the floor. Chaplin does raise his board at this time, but this action appears to be incidental to the beer being thrown. It is definitely not over his head in an attempt to bludgeon as described by Donald.

–Candace Mercer


The post Did Bryson Chaplin use his skateboard as a weapon? appeared first on Works in Progress.

Complete findings of the Shooting Review Board

Works in Progress - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 9:45pm

Each member of the SRB was given a sheet that contained the two questions they had been tasked with answering. Despite all five members having had reservations about Donald’s decisions, the Board was unanimous that he followed OPD policy. The following is their complete responses:

Question #1: Did the force used by the officer adhere to the policies of the Olympia Police Department?

Lt. Aaron Jelcick: Yes. All uses of force by Officer Donald were within policy.

Edward Prince: Yes, I examined all uses of force in this incident & they all comply w/ OPD policy.

Deputy City Attorney Darren Nienaber: Yes.

Officer Jason Winner: All uses of force evaluated on this review are within the policies of the Olympia Police Department.

Chief Steve Nelson: Yes. I believe Officer Donald used force due to the life-threatening actions of the suspects in this case.

Question #2: Did the actions of the officer precipitate the course of events that ultimately led to the use(s) of force? If so, were those actions reasonable and appropriate?

Lt. Aaron Jelcick:  No. Officer Donald’s actions did not precipitate the course of events that led to the use of force, however, during the initial contact Officer Donald’s decision to reduce the distance between himself and the suspects increased his safety risk.

Edward Prince: No, however I believe Officer Donald made a tactical error by moving to the rear of the car which contributed to the assault in the first use of force. In my opinion all other uses of force stem from the first incident. Subjects were aggressive from initial contact when Officer Donald first made contact with them.

Deputy City Attorney Darren Nienaber: No. Due to the ambiguity of this question, this clarification is offered: going to the back of the car may have increased the risk of attack on him more than needed during their first contact with him.

Officer Jason [sic, should be effecting]: No, Officer Donald was affecting a lawful purpose during his initial contact with both suspects. Although his choice to place himself in closer proximity to the suspects on the initial contact may have contributed to him being assaulted – it only contributed in placing him in a proximity to the suspects that allowed them the opportunity to begin assaulting Officer Donald. Ultimately the use of force, however, was precipitated by both suspects’ assaultive behavior. The use of force, therefore, was in response to each suspects’ motions displaying life-threatening behavior.

Chief Steve Nelson: No, Officer Donald lawfully attempted to stop suspects in this case even though significant warning signs were present. After non-compliance with his verbal commands to stop were ignored. He approached both suspects to continue verbal commands but put himself too close to them tactically. They turned, lunged and grabbed his arm which precipitated the use of deadly force.


The post Complete findings of the Shooting Review Board appeared first on Works in Progress.

Bittersweet Chocolates – Artisan Chocolate Makers Land in Downtown Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 6:00am


At Bittersweet Chocolates, in downtown Olympia, there’s a machine Deb Smith and Cindy Uhrich affectionately call the Beast. It resembles a bandsaw, but instead of a blade, it features an endlessly circulating stream of molten chocolate, precisely calibrated in temperature and consistency. Last week I had the pleasure of watching Deb, chief confectioner at Bittersweet […]

Columbus Park – Strong Roots Dating Back 100 Years

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 6:00am


I was just 7-years-old when I first discovered Columbus Park, located on the western side of Black Lake in Olympia. Columbus Park is a family friendly oasis, with a wonderful swimming area, playground, candy store, and plenty of fun to occupy a whole summer. It was my home away from home for many years, where I […]

Olympia Pet Emergency Saves the Day for Asthmatic Cat

Thurston Talk - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 6:00am


Lorena Dinger was headed from Seattle to Portland to visit family with her cat Molly in tow when disaster struck. It was a hot day and the route through Olympia was littered with loud and jarring construction projects. As they passed through the area, the asthmatic Molly began panting heavily, more heavily than her owner […]

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