Recent local blog posts

Orca Books event: Geologist Dave Tucker will talk about his new book "Geology Underfoot in Western Washington"

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 8:12pm
Event:  Fri, 07/24/2015 - 7:00pm

A FREE author event at Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E. in downtown Olympia.

Geologist Dave Tucker will talk about his new book "Geology Underfoot in Western Washington", a popular field guide to 22 geologic sites, including the Mima Mounds, Rainbow Falls State Park, and more. Geoscientist Dave Tucker narrates Western Washington's geologic tales, covering sites from its low-lying shorelines to its rugged mountaintops.

Dave Tucker has a master's degree in geology and is a research associate in the geology department at Western Washington University. He is a director of the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that raises funds to support research at the active volcano and educate the public about volcanic hazards of Mount Baker. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Roger Shimomura’s An American Knockoff

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 8:22am

Pop Art that Packs a Punch
Published in the Weekly Volcano, July 2, 2015"American Infamy #5" acrylic on canvas, collection of Jordan Schnitzer, Portland, Ore. Photo courtesy Tacoma Art Museum
The Roger Shimomura painting exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum mines the tradition of pop art and the history of Japanese-American relations to skewer prejudice and stereotype with painfully satirical paintings.Shimomura, an American artist living in Seattle, was born to a Japanese family shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He and his family were interned in the Minidoka War Relocation Camp in Idaho for two years when he was a small child. Wall text for the show states that his earliest memories are from the camp. Much of the history of his years at Minidoka are illustrated in paintings in this exhibition.“Far too many American-born citizens of Asian descent continue to be thought of as only American knockoffs,” Shimomura writes. “This latest series of paintings is an attempt to ameliorate the outrage of these misconceptions by depicting myself battling those stereotypes, or in tongue-in-cheek fashion, becoming those very same stereotypes.”There are self-portraits of the artist in the guise of American icons including George Washington, Superman, Popeye, Mickey Mouse, and a host of comic book characters. We see him fighting other Americans, and we see him fighting Japanese, Chinese and other enemies, all to satirically prove himself a real. In some of these battles — most noticeably those with the Chinese, wherein he appears as Chairman Mao among other apparitions — he is battling the notion that all Asians look alike.Although most of his images attack stereotypes with humor, his paintings of life in the internment camp are dead serious depictions of too-real history. The most powerful image in the show, both graphically and in terms of content, is “American Infamy #5.” Painted in a comic-book style, it is a birds’-eye view of the camp with three soldiers on a guard tower in the foreground. Two of the soldiers are holding rifles; one mans a machine gun. In a printed statement, the artist explains that while the government said the machine guns were aimed outside, they were in fact aimed inward at the people living in the camps. Ominous black clouds hang over the camp.  One of the soldier’s faces is black and in shadow, while the other one grimaces. None look toward the viewer. It is a menacing image.Also powerful is a simple group of 10 small, childlike paintings depicting 10 days in the camp. One of the last ones is called “Santa comes to visit in the mess hall.” Santa is seen in silhouette through a window and behind barbed wire. Next to it is a picture of when a child from back home in Seattle comes to visit and they can touch each other only by reaching through the barbed wire.The paintings are executed in a style derived from comic books and from pop art. The majority of them are  large, colorful, and beautifully designed, with figures grouped to create abstract patterns that force the eye to move around the canvas. One group of four paintings acknowledges Shimomua’s influences by containing a “brushstroke” borrowed from Roy Lichtenstein and copies of Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in collage-like compositions with Japanese women in traditional garb.“Halloween” depicts a group of kids trick-or-treating in Halloween costumes. They are all white except for one African-American, and they are chasing the kid in the Japanese soldier costume like angry villagers with pitchforks and brooms chasing the Frankenstein monster. In a wall text, the artist explains that when they were kids nobody wanted to wear the Japanese costume because they were all taught to hate and fear the Japs. In various forms, some humorous and some not, this is the underlying message of all his paintings.This is the kind of show that makes Tacoma Art Museum a local treasure.Roger Shimomura’s An American Knockoff, Tue.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Third Thursday 10 a.m. to –8 p.m., through Sept. 13, $12-$14, Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave. Tacoma,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia 4th of July Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 6:12am



washington center logoIt’s a simple formula – beautiful sunshine, delicious food on the BBQ, and good friends.  This is the recipe for what makes an Independence Day celebration memorable at our house.  Regardless of how you choose to celebrate your freedom, stick with

Show us your patriotic spirit by sharing a photo of how you like to celebrate the 4th of July.  Email it to us at

Here is what is going on around Olympia this weekend.

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.


Take an Award-Winning Beer Tour around Thurston County (Plus 4 Summer Brew Fests)

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

VCB logoIn Thurston County, we love our beer. Since the close of our historic Olympia Brewery in 2003, there has been a resurgence of craft breweries, bringing delicious beers and passionate brewers back to our region.

We’re lucky each of these craft breweries is unique. While the goals of brew masters and bar owners are ultimately the same – great beer and happy customers – the passion behind each of these breweries shines through, both in atmosphere of the establishment, and flavor of the beer.

It’s the latter quality that determines which breweries won Washington Beer Awards during the 10th annual Washington Brewers Festival June 19 -21. Using blind format under the Brewers Association Style Guidelines, 716 beers were judged in the competition, entered by 107 Washington breweries. Out of those entries, three Thurston County Breweries took home medals. Neighboring Lewis County took home one.

top rung brewery

Top Rung’s My Dog Scout Stout took Gold in the American Stout category of the Washington Beer Awards.

Here, we take at look at those winners, as well as some up-and-comers. Plus, get the lowdown on this summer’s brew fests.

Top Rung Brewing – 8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Lacey

Top Rung Brewing garnered Gold for their My Dog Scout Stout in the American Stout category of the Washington Beer Awards. The brewery is known for its family-friendly atmosphere (games available, but bring your own food) and of course, the origin of the company – beer-loving firefighters.

“I feel there is a kinship with the brewers being firemen. I hear all the time how a fireman in a customer’s life has come to their need or aid,” says Mike Besser, beer ambassador for Top Rung. “With that it is easy to see how my brewers Jason and Casey have developed a great following.  They have been brewing for five years as home brewers and now as professionals a little over a year.  They take the passion and love for great beer and pass it on in what they brew.”

Fish Brewing Company – 515 Jefferson Street SE, Olympia

Fish Brewing Company was awarded Washington State Brewery of the Year Award, based on wins in multiple style categories. Fish’s longevity in the community is sustained by their menu, their beers and ciders, and their pub, all boasting Northwest flair.

Fish Tale Organic IPA, Leavenworth Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen, and Leavenworth Premium Lager all won gold medals while Leavenworth Whistling Pig Hefeweizen took home Silver.

“Capturing this award is enormous,” says Sal Leone, CEO and president of Fish, in a press release. “It has been our priority recently to improve our beers and company branding. This award proves that our hard work has paid off. I am extremely proud of our brewery staff and their hard work.”

three magnets olympia

“Olympia Brewfest is a wild mix of people,” says Three Magnets manager Blake Brady, “but it’s really fun to just nerd out about beer.” Visit Blake along with head brewer Pat Jansen, and owner Nate Reilly, at this year’s Olympia Brewfest, taking place Saturday, Aug 1, at the Port Plaza in downtown Olympia.

Three Magnets Brewing – 600 Franklin Street SE, Olympia

Downtown Olympia’s Three Magnets Brewing Company, the love-child of Darby’s and great beer, took home Bronze for their Barley Wine. A great place to bring family and out-of-town guests, ‘3 Mags’ is a hub for beer enthusiasts. They also serve a delicious Jamburger.

Head brewer Pat Jensen speaks to the state of the brew scene in Thurston County. “There is an incredible and sustained amount of enthusiasm. I expect to see several more nanos open in the next few years as well as several more production/brewpubs,” he says.

“We are all extremely busy keeping up with production so the interest from the public is strong,” Jensen continues. “One of my main concerns is the knowledge base of our brewing community and an understanding of beer quality at a fundamental level. To this point, we have all been real open in challenging each other to keep quality up. The free exchange of information – so much a part of the wider brewing community – is strong in Thurston County. My personal goal is, as always, clean beer and having fun.”

Dick’s Brewing Company – 3516 Galvin Road, Centralia

While not technically in Thurston County, many locals embrace Dick’s Brewing Company, with company headquarters based just south of the county line.

Picking up Bronze for both their Cream Stout and Imperial Red, Dick’s is also recognized for their custom sausage. Sample their award-winning beer at the brewery itself, or head down the street to Northwest Sausage & Deli, to try one of 11 Dick’s Beers on tap (or homemade root beer) while enjoying craft made lunch meats and sausages. Keep an eye out for their new location in downtown Centralia, set to open this summer.

dicks beer homebrew contest

Dave Pendelton, Brew Master at Dick’s Brewing, celebrates two recent medals for his beers.

Back in Thurston County, new kids on the brew block include Triceratops Brewing Company, a nano-brewery in West Olympia. Production only, the beers are on rotation at Three Magnets, Rhythm & Rye, Eastside Club Tavern and Northwest Beerwerks.

Also on the radar is O – Town Brewing. Formerly Kastelan Brewing, this one is also a production-only nano-craft brewery with influences in Northwest and European styles. It’s also the first brewery to open and stick around since Fish Brewing. Find it at restaurants and in tap rooms.

In downtown Olympia, Cascadia Homebrew is both brewing and selling on premise. A hybrid of taproom/supply store/nano-brewery, the shop also features a guest tap.


Keep an eye out for local breweries at the following summer festivals:

  • Olympia Brewfest – Saturday, Aug 1, 30+ breweries, $25/advance, $30/door, Port Plaza, Olympia.
  • Tumwater Artesian Brewfest – Saturday, Aug 22, 45 breweries, $20, Tumwater Valley Golf Course, Tumwater.
  • Brats, Brews and Bands – Saturday, Sept 12, $15, Area/Building 27, South Puget Sound Community College, Olympia.
  • Oktoberfest – Saturday, Sept 26, Fish Brewing Company, Olympia.


fish brewing olympia

Fish Brewing Company won Washington Beer Awards Brewery of the Year. Visit them as part of Thurston County’s Award-Winning Brewery Tour and taste for yourself.

Beer Bonus – To keep posted on the area’s brew happenings, follow these folks:

Peaks and Pints – Daily Beer and Mountain Culture – also on Instagram – In search of the Ultimate Barley Pop (Top Rung’s Mike Besser)

Washington Beer Blog – Everything Beer in the Evergreen State

South Sound Craft Crawl – Join this crawl club, and tour Top Rung, Fish Brewing and Three Magnets, as well as 12 other South Sound breweries.


Summer Libations to Keep Cool around Olympia

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 6:00am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

olympia furnitureI love the sunshine and the long days. When it’s warm I also love being refreshed. It’s time to keep the liquids flowing, especially when the temperatures climb. What are you drinking to stay cool and hydrated? I asked around.

Tamarind-Peach Ade

Giovanni Shore lets his inner chef shine. Any time I stop to chat at his stand at the Olympia Farmer’s Market, Sullivan’s Homestead, he tempts me with inspired recipes that he creates with a collage of herbs, spices and all things fresh. “I’m into tamarind lately,” when I quizzed him about summer drinks.

summer drinks olympia

Bonnie Butler volunteers for every Harlequin Productions show. She’s enthused about The Flower Child drink created by Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs.

Though lesser known in the United States, tamarind, a pod-like fruit, is often used in Africa, Southeast Asia, China, Mexico, to name a few. Shore’s latest concoction is Peach-Tamarind Ade. As he explained, “It’s very refreshing and pleasantly astringent.” I will concur. I had planned to get a piece of tamarind paste and soak it in water, but found a tamarind and sugar mixture at Ramirez Mexican Store. The tamarind flavor was mild but a nice compliment to the peaches, which were straight from the market. All you need is some tamarind, peaches, sugar and water. You can mix the amounts as you please. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, shave in a little ginger or drop in a spring of mint. Look for the next wave of peaches, Brittany Lane and Early Red Havens, to arrive soon.

The Flower Child

Harlequin Productions’s summer show, Sixties Chicks, is making a big splash. Hopefully you already have your tickets. Linda Whitney, Artistic Director, designed a signature cocktail: The Flower Child. With the help of Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs, the bright beverage features hibiscus liquor, chilled vodka and a splash of San Pellegrino Limonata. Be warned – they go down smooth and easy. Mark Alford, Development Manager, sighed, “It’s so good… it’s very good.”

You can easily create cocktails of your own with the many choices at Salish Sea. Sam Desner considers the hibiscus the most versatile, getting reports from customers who use it over ice cream, and in truffles, frosting and in Italian sodas. Liquors are meant to add character and impart flavors. Sam’s favorite summer cooler at the moment is hibiscus mango lemonade. The mango lemonade comes from the grocery store and the liquor from his own stores.

Raspberry Wheat Beer

summer drinks olympia

Casey Sobol, firefighter and Brewery Operations Manager for Top Rung Brewing is happy to find a beer for your taste.

My customary bike route takes me past Top Rung Brewing Company on Hogum Bay Lane. I’ve seen customers relaxing outside at the tables under the umbrellas and wanted to see inside. It’s big, as they are brewing everything right there. Casey Sobol, co-owner and Brewery Operations Manager, showed me a chalkboard of choices, but suggested the Raspberry Wheat as a summer delight. It’s a little sweet and pleasantly light. Sobol noted that the Initiative ISA is also popular. ISA is Indian Session Ale, which means the alcohol content is 4.5% or lower. This can be important if you are drinking more than one.

Iced Tea and V-8 Vegetable Juice

Will Wilson, fitness enthusiast, has been lifting weights since he was a teenager. He recently celebrated his 60th birthday. To say the least, he’s in excellent condition. Wilson is retired from 21 years in the Army, which included serving in the Gulf. Perhaps being a mail handler for the last 16 years has contributed to his fitness. Or maybe it’s the Monday morning Pilates and body conditioning classes he teaches at Briggs Community branch of the South Sound YMCA. Wilson nudges up his vegetable intake by drinking a V-8.

summer drinks olympia

Army veteran, Will Wilson, keeps in shape with V-8, tea and lots of working out.

He’s also fond of sweet tea. By my definition, the sweet tea purchased at the store is overloaded with sugar (about 5 teaspoons per cup.) It’s easy and inexpensive to make your own, and you can still have it sweet if you must. Brew your favorite black tea (or any tea) for 5 minutes. Add refined sugar (it melts quickly, but regular granulated is fine). Three teaspoons per cup ought to be sweet enough. Test this yourself.

Iced Mocha

A pedicure is an excellent way to cool off on a warm day. I asked LA Nails owner Phuong Nguyen and her sister Hoa Nguyen what they likes to drink. The consensus was an iced mocha. There are lots of options for that drink in the county. You might go check out one of these options. Click here.

Good Old Fashioned Water

Fill your own bottles and jars at the Olympia’s Artesian Well. There are also various events there. This delicious beverage is amazingly free.

Eat Well – Be Well


Top Rung Brewing Releases “Falconer’s Flight 7C’s the Hop” Pale as part of Pale Series

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 9:21pm



Submitted by Top Rung Brewing Company

top rung featuredOn July 3rd we will release the third beer in our Pale series.  “Falconer’s Flight 7C’s Hop” Pale will be the third of our Pale Ale’s released throughout 2015.  In each Pale release we will highlight and celebrate a different hop.

This is a citrusy and fruity hop which adds to the Pale Ale malt flavor.  You will find a good amount of pineapple and peachy citrus bite to the beer.  The finish has an earth like quality which is a quality of the Falconer Flight 7C’s Hop.

This will be a great summer beer with the dog days of summer approaching.  We have found that this beer will be perfect for that backyard BBQ. Great with Burgers, Hotdogs and those famous big flavor Ribs. Developed in 2011 at Hop Union a pellet blend comprised of seven “C” hops and additional experimental varieties.

Top Rung Brewing is a 10 barrel production brewery with tasting room at the brewery. Top Rung Brewing is a destination for craft beer drinkers to enjoy their beverage and view a production brewery facility.  Our tasting room is family friendly and while we will only offer snacks, we partner with local food vendors and food trucks as well as allow patrons to bring in their own food of their choice or have it delivered.  Top Rung Brewing: bringing quality craft beer to Lacey.

Falconer’s Flight 7C’s the Hop Pale Ale Statistics:  ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 40, SRM: 10


Food & Garden Series: Organic Home Composting

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 3:58pm
Event:  Sat, 07/18/2015 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm

Learn how to start your home compost, keep unwanted pests away and compost to restore nutrients to your garden soil. Presented by Quin Baine of GRuB. This event is part of the Olympia Timberland Library Food & Garden series. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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City of Lacey’s Jeannette Sieler Honored with Inaugural USATF Milton Hershey Award

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 2:13pm



Submitted by The City of Lacey

Jeannette Sieler, Recreation Supervisor for Lacey Parks & Recreation, has been named as the first honoree of the USATF Milton Hershey Award.  From left - Rafer Johnson, Jeannette Sieler, Jordanne Beasley and Carl Lewis

Jeannette Sieler, Recreation Supervisor for Lacey Parks & Recreation, has been named as the first honoree of the USATF Milton Hershey Award. From left – Rafer Johnson, Jeannette Sieler, Jordanne Beasley and Carl Lewis

Jeannette Sieler of Tacoma, Washington, has been named as the first honoree of the USATF Milton Hershey Award, USA Track & Field and The Hershey Company announced Thursday. Sieler will receive her award on Friday, July 3, at the USATF Hershey National Youth Outdoor Championships in Lisle, Illinois.

Created by the partnership between USATF and Hershey, the Milton Hershey Award annually will honor an individual whose volunteer contributions to youth track & field and fitness has positively affected the lives of young people.

“Our founder, Milton Hershey, started our company with a social purpose to support the development and well-being of young people,” said Bernie Banas, Vice President, Customer Innovation at The Hershey Company. “Jeannette Sieler embodies that same dedication, and it is an honor to present her with the first Milton Hershey Award.”

Sieler first became involved with Hershey’s Track & Field Games (HTFG) 30 years ago as a local meet organizer while working for the Pierce County Parks & Recreation Department. In 1992, she was selected to be a chaperone for the HTFG North American Final and had a key role in at least a dozen state meets before serving as the Washington State Chairperson for the program. Over the years, she has worked with tens of thousands of children through Hershey track programs and chaperoned children at the North American Final 17 times.

Sieler currently is Recreation Supervisor with Lacey Parks & Recreation, where she organizes the city’s special events and cultural classes. She continues to work each summer coordinating the Pierce County Park All Comers Track meets.

“I am so honored to be the first recipient of the Milton Hershey Award,” Sieler said. “I have such a great respect for Milton Hershey and all he stood for, and I admire the Hershey Company’s efforts to provide an opportunity for kids to be active and make healthy choices for the past 38 years. Partnering with USATF, I look forward to having the opportunity to provide kids a chance to Run, Jump, and Throw, discovering their potential and having fun.”

In 2014, Hershey ‘s Track & Field Games (HTFG) celebrated its final year as Hershey and USATF created RunJumpThrow (RJT), a youth activity program designed to get kids excited about physical movement. In the transition from a competition-based model to youth activity model, Sieler was a leader among HTFG volunteers in evolving the program, serving on an advisory committee that helped develop and hone RJT.

Sieler herself has become a RunJumpThrow event organizer and also is the meet director for one of USATF’s 2015 Future Stars Elite Meets. The Future Stars Meets program helps support community-based track meets, sharing the philosophy that had driven Hershey’s competitive program.

“Jeannette has been a tremendous resource to USATF and Hershey in developing RunJumpThrow,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “Her knowledge regarding the needs of children and the organizations serving them have helped lay the foundation for the program. Her enthusiastic adoption of USATF’s Future Stars Meets program further speaks to her dedication to this mission.”

Visit RunJumpThrow online for more information.
Visit Future Stars Meets online for more information.
Visit USATF Hershey Youth National Outdoor Championships online for more information.


Air-Conditioning: A Condition of Being Cool

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 11:37am



Submitted by Brett Hardcastle for Tumwater Automotive

tumwater automotiveWhen the weather heats up you expect your auto air conditioning (A/C) to work, right? Would you agree it’s a good idea to keep cool in summer? Do you know what to ask your shop to check?

Drive Belt

A drive belt makes the air-conditioning compressor turn, and that keeps the cooling refrigerant circulating like it should. If the belt is worn, stretched or cracked it can slip or break — which stops the compressor. When that happens, circulation stops and air conditioners quit cooling.

Air-conditioning Condenser

The air-conditioning condenser is located in front of the vehicle’s radiator and looks a lot like the radiator. Refrigerant runs through the condenser and air flows across its cooling fins, removing heat from the circulating refrigerant. If the fins become damaged or plugged up with debris, air flow is restricted, and that means heat isn’t removed properly. Restriction can also cause the vehicle to overheat. Check the fins periodically to make sure they are clean and in good condition.

Cooling System

Coolant or antifreeze isn’t just for winter’s cold temperatures. Coolant is also the fluid that removes heat from the engine to the radiator to cool the engine. If the coolant is too old, it may turn to a gel and block circulation. Also, rust and scale deposits can cause overheating and breakdown. That will be costly, damaging engine parts including hoses, gaskets and seals. Did you know that the most common cause of a mechanical breakdown on the highway is cooling system failure?

A Few More Tips

When you get into a hot car, roll your windows down a little for the first few blocks. If you have an air recirculating control, make sure it’s turned off. After the hot air is gone, turn on the recirculating feature to get the most out of your system.

We’re all concerned with fuel mileage, but modern auto air-conditioning systems are quite efficient. Studies have shown that turning off the A/C results in minimal gas savings.

If you discover a problem with your vehicle’s A/C, take the vehicle to a trusted technician.

Tumwater Automotive will assist you in keeping those valuable supporting documentation. Our certified technicians maintain your vehicle’s warranty and your peace of mind. And, we’ll pick you up and take you back to your home.

We are prepared to help youtumwater automotive

  1. We will alert you to needed maintenance and repairs.
  2. We will listen to you and your car, using our trained knowledge, searching for the little things that soon grow to be big problems.
  3. We have the equipment to service today’s sophisticated vehicles.
  4. We have the years of experience, training and access to the information to avoid the inconveniences along the road.

Just give us a call and trust us to treat you and your vehicle as part of the Tumwater Automotive family – a legacy of caring for others. We pick you up and take you back to work or home five days a week. And, we’re nice people too!

Feel free to call us for advice. Many of your co-workers already do.

Brett and Denise Hardcastle are the owners of Tumwater Automotive and the Tumwater Auto Spa at 6020 Capitol Blvd. SE. Brett and his staff can be reached at (360) 943-9097, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. with a free shuttle from home or work. Keep your car finish like new at the Tumwater Auto Spa Car Wash, next door. Keep your vehicle looking good and running – inside and out. Plus, take advantage of the prepaid reduced wash cards for friends, family and co-workers.



Olympic National Park Paradise Fire Update

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:08am



Submitted by National Parks Service

The warmest day of the week so far created more active fire conditions on the Paradise Fire on Wednesday. In addition to increased fire and smoke in the Paradise Creek drainage, a second area of active fire behavior showed up in the next drainage to the east. Both of these areas of fire activity are creeping up the flanks of Pelton Peak, and both created the most smoke seen in recent days. The Wildland Fire Modules on the ground utilized their recently delivered satellite communications unit to determine the location of a hot spot picked up by an overnight infrared flight. Air operations for the day consisted of shuttling one module out of the remote fire location and rotating a new module into the fire zone.

The hot and dry conditions are of concern to firefighters again today. Temperatures will be higher and relative humidity will be lower, resulting in more active fire behavior and additional smoke. Residents in the Forks area reported seeing more smoke on Wednesday, and that could happen again today. With multiple fires burning in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska and British Columbia, it is often difficult to determine which fire is producing smoke in which areas. Residents with health conditions exacerbated by smoke should take precautions.

With the July 4th holiday weekend approaching, Olympic National Park officials would like to remind the public that there a ban on open fires in the park’s wilderness backcountry, including all locations along the coast. Campfires are permitted only in established fire grates at established front country campgrounds. Camp stoves may still be used in the park’s wilderness backcountry, but should be operated well away from flammable vegetation and forest litter. Because of the extreme conditions on the peninsula, Olympic National Forest has also implemented fire restrictions. Fireworks are illegal on federal and state lands. Check local regulations for other recreation areas. Olympic peninsula communities welcome visitors, and ask people to celebrate and recreate responsibly, keeping fire danger in mind.

Information on this fire is available on Inciweb . For real time information, visit our Facebook page.  For current information about visiting Olympic National Park, as well as information about the history and role of fire in the Olympic ecosystem, please visit the park’s website.

5 Olympic National Park Backpacking Trips Perfect for Kids

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 6:34am



By Douglas Scott

olympia food co-opLast year, we brought readers four incredible and memorable backpacking destinations for you and your family in and around Olympic National Park. The article, which included tips for hiking and backpacking with family, as well as some backcountry basics, helped inspire families of all ages out into the wilderness of Olympic. This year, Olympic National Park has already seen over a million visitors, and campsites in the front and backcountry campgrounds are quickly filling up at America’s sixth most popular National Park. To help plan your trip, check with Olympic National Park officials to see if backcountry reservations are required for your area.

2015 is so far the driest year since 1895 on the Olympic Peninsula, helping drive visitation numbers higher than normal. However, despite the excellent camping conditions, there are a few things to talk about before we get to five awesome places to backpack with your kids. The first is campfires. Campfires are currently banned in all backcountry camping areas, and only allowed in approved fire areas at the front country campground. This means that if you want a campfire, you are out of luck in most places. Camp stoves are permitted, but please use them with care. A 1,000+ acre fire is burning in the Queets Rainforest, and fire conditions are expected to last until September at the earliest.

The second issue that needs to be addressed quickly, before your trip starts, is how to deal with waste while backpacking. All garbage needs to be packed out, including peels of fruit. The wilderness of Olympic is a diverse ecosystem that is mostly full of local species of animals and plants. Please do not mess with this by leaving orange peels or any other trash out in nature. Pack it in, pack it out, and help keep wilderness wild. There have been closures of a few areas in Olympic already this year due to careless hikers leaving food and trash around. Be a good steward of the land and carry everything out. Also, when using this bathroom in the woods, please follow these excellent tips from


marmot pass

At just over 11 miles round trip, Marmot Pass has two campsites along the trail.

Marmot Pass

Directions to Trailhead:

Distance: 11.5 Miles Round Trip

Camp Sites: 2 main camping areas, and numerous unofficial sites

Best Camp Area: The saddle of Marmot Pass

What Makes it Great: Marmot Pass is an excellent day hike, considered by most to be the “must-hike” trail of the Olympic Peninsula. It is also an incredible backpacking trip for those looking for short distances, incredible views and some of the best stargazing, sunrises and sunsets around. With two campsites located along the trail, each about 3-miles from each other, Marmot Pass is great for first time backpackers, or those camping with young kids. Be aware that water may be scare in places, especially with the current hot summer we are having. Also, campsites in the established backpacking campsites fill up quickly on the weekends, seeing as many as 100 people on good weather days. get here early, explore the region and stay up watching the stars.

More Information:


hog rain forest

Hiking and backpacking in the Hoh Rain Forest could be considered a rite of passage for Washington hikers.

Hoh Rainforest

Directions to Trailhead:

Distance: Up to 34.8 Miles Round Trip

Camp Sites: Seven main campsites leading to Mount Olympus

Best Camp Area: Glacier Meadows

What Makes it Great: Backpacking in the Hoh Rainforest is a rite of passage for Pacific Northwest residents. With a mostly flat trail through lush green surroundings, the trail skirts along the Hoh River, giving glimpses of mountains, deer, elk, and more. The trail starts at the popular visitor center in the Hoh Rainforest and heads upriver, eventually leading to the glaciated flanks of Mount Olympus. While most will not hike that high up, the entire trail is easy to follow and well-maintained, making it perfect for families of all ages and abilities. Whether you choose to just camp at 5-Mile Island or try to get up to the remote and beautiful Elk Lake, backpackers are rewarded with beautiful views and experiences each mile. Serious backpackers can use this route as an entry point to not just Mount Olympus, but also as a back entrance to the High Divide and Seven Lakes Basin, one of the park’s more popular backcountry destinations.

More Information:


shi shi beach

There is lots to explore at Shi Shi Beach.

Point of the Arches and Shi Shi Beach

Directions to Trailhead:

Distance: 8.5 Miles Round Trip

Camp Sites: Three coastal campsites

Best Camp Area: Point of the Arches

What Makes it Great: Backpacking and camping along Washington’s wilderness coast is yet another quintessential backpacking destination on the Olympic Peninsula. With 73 miles of wilderness coast to explore, one of the best and most popular destinations is Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches. The often muddy trail to the beach is short, easy to follow and leads to one of the most photographed series of sea stacks on the Pacific Coast. With incredible sea stacks, millions of small tide pools and the site to jaw-dropping sunsets, this short, family-friendly destination is sure to be a family favorite. Reservations are required during the summer months, and can be picked up from the Wilderness Information Center (WIC). Even with reservations, the best sites fill up early in the morning on summer days, as you are reserving a permit, not an individual spot.

More Information:


lena lake hike

Gather better views at Upper Lena Lake which is typically less crowded than its sister hike to Lower Lena Lake.

Lower and Upper Lena Lake

Directions to Trailhead:

Distance: Up to 14 Miles Round Trip

Camp Sites: Numerous, with 28 sites at Lower Lena

Best Camp Area: Upper Lena

What Makes it Great: Upper and Lower Lena Lake are some of the most popular backpacking destinations along the Hood Canal of the Olympic Peninsula. Located above the Hamma Hamma River, the route to Lena Lake is paved and well-marked, helping with it’s popularity. ThurstonTalk has already written a great piece on Upper and Lower Lena Lake, which should be read. Be aware that the campsites at Lower Lena Lake can fill up early on weekends, so getting a head start on the trail is recommended. Upper Lena will fill up as well, but is less common. However, Upper Lena offers far greater views and makes for a more backcountry camping feel, serving as a great introduction destination for those looking to expand their wilderness experiences. Upper Lena has great sunrises, sunsets and exploring opportunities right from your campsite, making it one of the classic destinations.

More Information:


ozette hiking

Enjoy a great sunset during a backpacking trip at Ozette Triangle.

Ozette Triangle

Directions to Trailhead:

Distance: 9 Miles Round Trip

Camp Sites: Two areas

Best Camp Area: Cape Alava

What Makes it Great: Ozette is considered by many to be the greatest backpacking/day hike on the coast of Olympic National Park. While the region is remote, the trail to the coast starts near Lake Ozette before working its way through forests and swampland, eventually dumping you out onto the rugged and wild coast. The coast is historic and beautiful, getting backpackers to regions usually unseen by the masses that flock to Olympic. With ancient petroglyphs etched onto Wedding Rock, hiking Ozette is like stepping back in time. Along the hike, look in tide pools, watch seals and otters, and keep an eye out for gray and orca whales swimming off shore. Once the day ends, kick back and enjoy one of the greatest and timelessly beautiful sunsets on the Pacific Coast. Be aware that bear bins are required, but not for bears. Raccoons have been quite aggressive toward food in the area.

More Information:

All photos courtesy Douglas Scott.

Olyblog10: What's on the city council this week (not not this week) and my first blush of Olyblog

Olympia Time - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 6:08am
I can tell you how exactly I came across Olyblog, and I also can tell you I at least marked it with a post at this very blog. I apparently came across Olyblog on the old tescrier (Evergreen State College) email list that at one point had been public.

And, here is my very first post over at Olyblog, which for some reason disappeared from the Olyblog itself. It was about a dumb topic, so I'm not sure I miss it being there.

Perusing my early posts, I seemed to focus a lot on civic affairs, politics, community wireless, that kind of thing. Mostly the same stuff I write about here. But, I did talk more specifically about certain candidates and people, something I try to stay away from nowadays.

But, eventually (about after six months of Olyblog) I started doing a weekly "What's on the council" rundown. This was a pretty fun exercise. I got into the habit of waiting for the city webmaster to upload the council's packet for the week, and quickly read through it. This reminded me a lot of what being a reporter was like.

It wasn't enough for me to just beat the Olympian reporter doing the same thing, but I usually tried to find some nuance or angle I assumed the Olympian wouldn't cover.

Like anything at Olyblog, I eventually quit writing the updates. Thad Curtz kept up on it for awhile, but seems to have lost energy for it as well.

Which is sad. But, that didn't make me as sad as the idea never really spreading. I hoped that people would pick up other local governments (port, Tumwater, county) and do similar rundowns. But, that never picked up.

It didn't take much skill, just poking through the staff reports and summarizing what was going on.

I can understand why people never did though, it was also pretty tedious doing it week after week. I even now serve on the regional library board and I've tried to keep up with doing just monthly updates. I quit that eventually too.

Ah, well. Blogging is hard, amiright?

Thrifty Thurston Listens to Free Outdoor Concerts at Music in the Park

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

thurston first bankIt’s hard to believe it’s been 36 years since the first production of Music in the Park, an annual summer concert series in downtown Olympia.

Since 1979, Sylvester Park has been home to this awesome event, which appeals to all ages and is cost free. Every Wednesday, beginning July 8, music-lovers are invited to experience live music in a great setting, with the park’s gazebo acting as center stage.

If only those gazebo walls could talk, I’m sure they would share tales of beautiful dances, eccentric music and unusual costumes and of laughter, picnics and memories made.

outdoor concert olympia

Sylvester Park’s gazebo is where music magic happens every Wednesday night during July and August.

While those gazebo walls can’t speak to the event, Kim Combs, event and volunteer coordinator for the Olympia Downtown Association (ODA), can. The ODA took over production of the music series in 1991, and continues to value its draw.

“I believe Music in the Park is important to downtown Olympia for a few reasons,” says Combs. “First, and most importantly, it gets people downtown…Downtown Olympia has so much to offer whether you’re coming down as a family, with your girlfriends, or for a date night. You get to come to a beautiful historical park and enjoy food from any number of restaurants within walking distance of Sylvester Park.”

“Number two,” she continues, “is we have amazing merchants that are just waiting to see you and share their product with you. It’s an exciting time in downtown Olympia with new businesses choosing to settle in. It’s important that we support our local businesses.”

And equally important as the stimulation of visitors to the downtown area, the music production is high-quality and draws from a pool of local talent, as well as touring acts.

olympia outdoor concert

Thousands attend the annual Music in the Park summer concert series. The series begins July 8, and with the exception of the Friday, Aug 7 event at the Port Plaza, continues every Wednesday through August.

“We like to bring in a variety of genres to ensure there’s something for everyone,” explains Combs. “However, I do have to give a couple of groups an extra shout out. While we support and book mostly local and regional bands, each year we have a group or two that we’ll bring in from out of area simply because of the production value they bring.”

This year, those groups are Abbey Road LIVE!, a Beatles tribute band out of Georgia, along with the Air Force Band of the Golden West who are bringing their 20-piece jazz ensemble, The Commanders. “Any military group is a huge draw for us and we’re very proud to be highlighting them,” remarks Combs.

Another concert Combs would like to mention is the August 7 event, which takes place at the Port Plaza. Every year, the ODA partners with the Port to include one Friday night performance, falling on the first Friday of August.

This concert is 90-minutes, as opposed to the other 60-minute sets. It’s also unique in that it takes advantage of downtown Olympia’s beautiful waterfront. This year, the group performing is Wally & The Beaves, an apropos name for a band who taps into the golden oldies.

outdoor concert olympia

All ages enjoy dancing at the free outdoor summer concerts organized by the Olympia Downtown Association.

The line-up as is follows:

  • July 8 – Abbey Road (Beatles Tribute)
  • July 15 – Blue Laces (Roots Rock)
  • July 22 – Little Sara & the Night Owls (Blues)
  • July 29 – Lukas Rose (Americana)
  • Aug 5 – Troubadours (Classic Rock & Blues)
  • Aug 7 – Wally & The Beaves (Oldies/Golden Age of Rock & Roll)
  • Aug 12 – Ben Potter Band (Americana/Acoustic Rock/Country)
  • Aug 19 – Cee Cee James (Blues/Roots Rock)
  • Aug 26 – Air Force Band of the Golden West (Jazz)

Concert-goers can expect a distinct, fun experience at each show, with Combs offering a few tips and reminders.

“Attendees should remember that parking is free after 5:00 p.m. in downtown Olympia, so come on down,” she says. “Also, Music in the Park is a rain or shine event. We do not have an alternative location in the event of inclement weather, so please keep that in mind. Additionally, we do not have restrooms available at either venue. Parents with small children are encouraged to plan accordingly.”

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, click here.

Volkswagen of Olympia to Introduce State of the Art Dealership

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 6:00am



volkswagen olympia

For the past 17 months, Volkswagen of Olympia has operated out of a single-wide trailer.

Volkswagen of Olympia, a premier Washington Volkswagen dealer in Thurston County, is getting a new look. For the past 17 months, Volkswagen of Olympia has been operating out of a single-wide trailer during construction of the new dealership, but that will end later this fall when the dealership unveils its new state of the art white frame structure.

Expected to be completed sometime in October, visitors of Volkswagen of Olympia will be delighted by the new structure, which will include a wider selection of vehicles and several new service features.

General Sales Manager, John Paine, said the building is going to be quite impressive. “Customers are going to love the windows,” he said. “It’s going to feature a very light, bright showroom, and it’s going to feel very large because of the high ceilings.” Paine said the interior of the building will be decorated with imagery of Volkswagen vehicles from years past through present, allowing customers to feel as though they are stepping into the Volkswagen world.

With a swanky new building, Volkswagen of Olympia is adding the services to match the dealership’s new feel. One feature Paine said customers will especially enjoy is the new Service Express. “It will basically expedite customers for oil changes and some of the other express services we offer,” he said. Customers will be able to drop off their vehicles and relax in the dealership’s comfortable lounge while they wait for their car to be serviced.

General Manager, Chris Hardesty, said in addition to the impressive structure, it is the new service features that customers will most enjoy. “We will have click maintenance for customers who want oil changes and customers will be able to schedule appointments easily online. The building will also feature a top of the line waiting environment that will include a variety of amenities,” he said.

With much to look forward to, Paine said what he is most excited for is the experience the new dealership will offer customers. “Our customers are really passionate about their Volkswagens,” Paine said. “To offer an experience to our customers that will be better than what they expect and be able to meet and beat their expectations of the brand and what it represents, that is really exciting to us.”

volkswagen olympia

Construction of the new state of the art white frame Volkswagen of Olympia dealership is expected to be completed later this fall.

While Paine and the rest of the Volkswagen of Olympia team is looking forward to the new dealership, Paine said being stuck inside a single-wide trailer for more than a year has not phased the Volkswagen of Olympia staff. “People say our expectations for the new building are high, but I say you do not know our team,” said Paine. “We had the same expectations for our trailer as we do for the new building.”

Passionate about their customers and the brand they represent, the dedication of the Volkswagen of Olympia staff is represented well through numbers. “We’re the fastest growing Volkswagen dealership in the state of Washington, and we have accomplished that out of a single-wide trailer,” said Paine. With the new dealership opening later this fall, Paine said, “We are planning to continue our growth on an even higher level of customer service.”

But providing great service is easy when you work for a company you love and respect. “We are a family owned business,” Paine explained. “Our enthusiasm comes from the top. It is easy for us to treat our guests well because that is how we are treated by our owner and general manager.” Furthermore, Volkswagen of Olympia staff know what it is like to be on the buying end of things – most of Volkswagen of Olympia’s employees have purchased their vehicles inside the same single-wide trailer as their customers.

That is why for Volkswagen of Olympia, the sale doesn’t start until the customer has said yes. “Our customer service is unmatched,” said Paine. “We are not a ‘get the sale and see you later’ type of dealership. Once the customer says yes, that is when the sale begins. We are all about attention to detail, follow through and answering questions. We get our customers everything they need.”

With an impressive new dealership on the way, Paine said Volkswagen of Olympia will offer its customers a car buying experience that can not be beat. You can learn more about Volkswagen of Olympia by clicking here, or by visiting Volkswagen of Olympia online, calling Volkswagen of Olympia at 360-350-6262, or visiting Volkswagen Olympia at the Olympia Auto Mall.


100-Year-Old Lost Lake House Added to Thurston County Historic Register

Thurston Talk - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 3:14pm



Submitted by Thurston County

thurston county historic register

This historic cabin is situated along the shores of Lost Lake. It’s been added to the Thurston County historic register.

Thurston County has added a 1900s-era log house to its inventory of 140 historic sites. The cabin-style structure is located near the Nisqually Indian Reservation in North Thurston County. Situated on the edge of spring-fed Lost Lake, it is believed to have been built almost 100 years ago. Its original construction of Saddle Notched interlocking logs, chinking material between the logs used as weatherproofing, and stone chimney and hearth stand testament to the quality of its original hand craftsmanship.

County researchers discovered evidence that the property was settled by pioneers at the time of the McAllister Party in the 1850s. An article on the front page of Tacoma’s The Daily Ledger in August 1896 gives a reference to the settlement’s storied past – a skirmish with Native Americans while trying to build an earlier cabin. The then-owner from 1896 claimed to have found skeletal remains from the fight that he reburied as homage to the life lost.

Thurston County’s Historic Commission manages the county’s historic register. Their goal is to preserve county properties that have archaeological, architectural or historic importance. Learn more about the history of Thurston County at or apply to add a site to the historic register at

Mike and Brenda Williams Heading to National Senior Games in Tennis

Thurston Talk - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 8:09am



By Grant Clark

tumwater auto spaBrenda Williams is surrounded by medals and trophies.

She and her husband Mike have owned TAGS since 2001. The Olympia store specializes in plaques, trophies, and all sorts of other awards. Basically, if it’s shiny, they have it.

Scanning the inside of her office, which is layered with product samples, it is quite clear TAGS can handled any request, but despite being flanked by virtually every type of trophy you can imagine, the medal Brenda is holding has significantly more value to her than all the others.

This one was earned, not made.

Brenda was one of nearly 11,000 athletes to compete in the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland. The medal she proudly clutches is for the third place she won in tennis for the women’s 55-59 age division.

senior games tennis

Mike and Brenda Williams celebrate after both placed at a national tennis tournament in Palm Springs in 2011.

A biennial event, Brenda will look to secure a second medal when she competes in the 2015 National Senior Games. This year the Games will be held in Minnesota with events held throughout the Twin Cities and Bloomington.

“It was inspiring,” Brenda said about the 2013 Senior Games. “It was competitive. It was fun and a well-organized event.”

All that made it an easy decision to return.

However, this year she will not only compete as a single, but also in mixed doubles with her husband.

By winning last year’s mixed doubles tournament at the Washington Senior Games, Brenda and Mike qualified for the National Games. The tournament begins July 6.

Mike was unable to make the trip to Cleveland in 2013 to cheer his wife on. Instead Brenda frequently sent him updates via pictures.

“I said, ‘This could be you,’” Brenda joked. “It was such a great experience. It was too bad he couldn’t make it last time. We’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while.”

This will mark Brenda’s second trip to the National Senior Games, while Mike will be making his first appearance. Both also placed as singles in a national tournament in Palm Springs in 2011.

“It’s competitive. These people are good,” said Mike about the level of competition. “We’ve both kept ourselves in shape. We’ve worked hard at that. I used to think when I turned 50 it was going to be great because we were in such good shape, but it hasn’t worked out that way because everyone else is in great shape too. It really makes it competitive. But that’s the fun part of it.”

Unseeded in the 16-player tournament in 2013, Brenda won her opening round in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, before facing the tournament’s third seeded player in the quarterfinals.

“My first match I won pretty easily,” Brenda said. “That second match was a nail biter – a three setter.”

Brenda dropped the first set before rallying to win the match, 2-6, 6-2, 1-0 (9), to advance to the semifinals where she squared off against top-seeded Deborah Burgess, who won the division in 2011.

senior games tennis

Brenda Williams (left) poses at the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland where she finished third in women’s 55-59 age group in tennis. She will be returning to the competition this month.

Burgess won in three sets, 1-6, 7-5, 1-0 (3), and went on to win her second consecutive championship.

But Brenda didn’t go home empty handed. She knocked off the No. 4 seed in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, to take home the division’s third-place medal.

In addition to repeating as a singles medalist, Brenda will attempt to also bring some hardware home with Mike.

The couple have played tennis together since their teens while growing up in Pasadena, Calif.

“I’m steady and calm,” Brenda states about the duo’s paying styles, “and Mike is quick and all over the place.”

The National Senior Games is a 19-sport, biennial competition for men and women 50 and over. It is the largest multi-sport event in the world for seniors and features events such as archery, badminton, cycling, golf, horseshoes, racquetball, swimming and track and field.

The event was inaugurated in 1987 with St. Louis, Mo. serving as the host city to 2,500 competitors. The Games having steadily grown, adding sports from its initial total of 15 and seeing its total number of athletes increase dramatically.

Cleveland played host to the 14th summer national championships in 2013 with 10,881 participants. More than 12,000 athletes are expected to compete in this year’s Games.

“I think it’s good to be a role model and to be active when you are 50 plus,” Brenda said. “I’d like to be a model for my kids and anyone else. That’s a good thing.”


Thurston County Offers Tips to Help Defend Against Wildfires This Season

Thurston Talk - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 6:28am



Submitted by Thurston County

Do you know how to make your home and garden “firewise?” Summer heat has set early and Washington wildfires have already scorched thousands of acres this season, so Thurston County emergency management officials are offering some tips and resources to help local residents protect their homes and property against the dangers of wildfires.

The National Fire Protection Association has created a “one-stop shop” website for communities across the country to access tips, information and tools to help make their properties and communities more resistant to wildfires. The public can access wildfire news, education materials, project ideas, and lots more at

“Washington is in the grip of a statewide drought right now, and I don’t think anyone is surprised by the fact that wildfires are a very serious concern this year, even on the west side of the Cascades,” said Thurston County Emergency Management Coordinator Andrew Kinney. “We’re really looking to residents to help reduce the wildfire danger on their own property this season. Each person who takes some steps to protect against wildfire helps reduce the risk for their neighbors and, really, the whole county.”

As a Fourth of July holiday heatwave sets in across the Puget Sound region, Thurston County residents are reminded that a countywide outdoor burn ban is currently in place to help protect against wildfires. For more details about the burn ban restrictions, go to the county’s homepage at and click on the “Countywide Burn Ban” link.

County officials also remind residents that there are restrictions on the sale and discharge of fireworks in the county. But with the current heat and dry conditions, residents are urged to keep this holiday season safe and sane and enjoy the region’s professional fireworks shows this year instead. To learn more, go to the county’s homepage at and click on the “Fireworks restrictions and safety tips” link.

As temperatures climb this week, keeps tabs on weather conditions and hot weather tips and information with the Thurston County Emergency Management Division social media—find us on Facebook at ThurstonEM, or on Twitter at @ThurstonEM.

Allison Savin – A Real Estate Matchmaker

Thurston Talk - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 6:00am



allisan savin real estate

Having studied abroad, shown here in Vietnam, Allison recognizes the value of stable, suitable housing.

Buying a home doesn’t have to be a scary, overwhelming process. Instead, as Allison Savin a broker at Olympia’s Van Dorm Realty explains, “I never feel like I’m in the sales industry, and I never think of myself as a salesperson. I like to think of it as a treasure hunt or matchmaking. Instead of two people, it’s matching the perfect home with the perfect person, couple, or family.”

U.S. News and World Report recently explained that “as the millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, takes a greater role in the housing market, young people’s preferences are starting to shape the way real estate business is done. The real estate portal Zillow predicts that millennials will overtake baby boomers as the generation purchasing the largest number of homes this year, making their preferences even more important…Dealing with these tech-savvy buyers has posed a challenge for the nation’s real estate agents, who are considerably older than the home buying population they serve. A NAR survey of its members in 2012 found that only 3 percent of agents were under 30.”

And this is where Savin shines. A Capital High School and University of Washington grad, Savin started working at Van Dorm Realty when she was just 16 years old. She spent summers and extracurricular hours as a receptionist and became a full-fledged broker two years ago at the age of 22.

Born and raised in the Steamboat Island neighborhood, Savin now gives back by volunteering with various educational clubs and groups as well as serving on the Board of Trustees for the Griffin School Foundation along with fellow Van Dorm brokers Catherine Haag and Diane Pust.

Professionally, Allison admits “I like working with everybody. I like the variety.” She is comfortable with first time homebuyers, investment buyers, and properties at any price point. Like many in her field, she knows that the last few years have left potential buyers wary of future interest rate spikes but encourages the unsure to act now.

allison savin real estate

Savin started working for Van Dorm realty at 16, staffing the reception desk on summer vacations.

Because there are more buyers than available homes in our area, anyone considering selling their home should definitely take action. Savin admits that “the market is so hot! I never thought I’d be 24 with a thriving business like this!”

Interested clients can view her wealth of listings, advice, and research online here or through her Facebook page. There you can find photographs, learn tools of the trade, read 5-star customer reviews, and find details on upcoming Open Houses and property showings.

With reviewers claiming that “Allison is organized and extremely knowledgeable about the market. She is dedicated to selling your home (or helping you find your dream house!)” and “The most professional, organized, and helpful agent you will ever work with,” it’s easy to see that Savin is a rising star in her industry.

When Savin isn’t showing homes, you can find her involved in many volunteer roles.  “I think one of the greatest things I can do with my time is give back to communities who have given so much to me,” Savin describes. She is the community advisory chair for the Capital High School Marketing Program and also sits on the South Sound Council for Career and Technical Education classes. “In this role, we review curriculum framework before it’s submitted to OSPI.”

You can reach Allison via her cell phone at 360-556-5018 or through the Van Dorm Realty’s West Olympia offices at 1530 Black Lake Boulevard SW. They are open seven days a week and someone is always on hand to answer questions or direct you to an available agent. The office number is 360-943-3800.

The Sweet Niche: New Owners Continue the Legacy of The Bearded Lady

Thurston Talk - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

batdorflogoDevotees of The Bearded Lady’s gluten-free and vegan desserts may have felt a swell of panic when they noticed their shop at 412 Franklin Street in downtown Olympia had changed hands this winter. However, only half of The Bearded Lady’s staff has moved on, as the remaining two employees have opened up under the name The Sweet Niche to supply the high-quality vegan and gluten-free goodies which so many in our community have counted on.

olympia gluten-free bakery

Owners Erin Zimmerman (right) and Lauren Gabrielle run The Sweet Niche together, having met while working at The Bearded Lady.

Melanie Shelton and Jordan Marsicek recently sold the bakery to Erin Zimmerman and her husband Patrick.  The couple is also partners with Zimmerman’s former Bearded Lady co-worker, the gregarious Lauren Gabrielle.

“I’ve always wanted to open a bakery, but I sure never expected one to fall into my lap,” says Zimmerman. She and Gabrielle used to joke about working in their own bakery together one day, and now it is a reality.

Shelton is now running the baking and pastry program at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), and she and Marsicek are contemplating writing a cookbook based upon their Bearded Lady brunch recipes.

As it turns out, Zimmerman and Gabrielle are the perfect partners to run a business together. They compliment one another well. Zimmerman is the more reserved of the two, and she is perfectly content to be baking back in the kitchen. Gabrielle, on the other hand, is energized by laughing and mingling with customers, so she works in the front of the bakery.

olympia gluten-free bakery

The Sweet Niche specializes in vegan and/or gluten-free treats, like these delectable cupcakes, which are their best-sellers.

“Lauren’s focus is on the front and on ideas, while I am just thinking about the food,” says Zimmerman. “She’s such a people-person.”

Zimmerman has always been a baker. She grew up in Lake Chelan with a lot of sisters. “On our birthdays my mom always made sure we each had a special, unique birthday cake. She also made homemade bread a lot, and she and my dad both cooked from scratch all the time,” recalls Zimmerman.

“I’ve been working in the food industry since I was fifteen,” adds Zimmerman. She went on to graduate from SPSCC’s Culinary Arts program.

Gabrielle, who is from California’s Bay Area, grew up with an adventurous cook for a mother. She herself came to the world of cooking when she became a vegan. “I had to learn how to cook for myself because there just aren’t that many options out there,” she explains.

olympia gluten-free bakery

Zimmerman prefers to do the baking for the Sweet Niche, while Gabrielle works with the customers.

These days, vegans, gluten-free individuals, and others with food sensitivities no longer have to depend upon their own skills in the kitchen if they want or need to eat a certain way. More and more restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores have options friendly to all. The Sweet Niche fills a niche in Olympia (pardon the pun – I couldn’t resist) in that it primarily caters to the vegan and gluten-free populations, rather than having just a few items that meet those customers’ needs. People can come to the bakery to enjoy dessert with friends and will know that there will be plenty of appetizing menu items that fit their criteria. Their products can also be found at a plethora of other locations all over town, like Bar Francis, Obsidian, Olympia Food Co-op, and Batdorf & Bronson, to name just a few.

Zimmerman and Gabrielle themselves each possess quite the sweet tooth. “We promised each other we’d start eating more salads since we’re constantly snacking on our treats and taste-testing,” says Gabrielle. “The sticky buns are my favorite thing on the menu,” she giggles. “I’ve finally put them into our weekly rotation,” adds Zimmerman. “They’ll be available on Saturdays.”

olympia gluten-free bakery

Their potato focaccia will knock your socks off.

Zimmerman remains a fan of the pies. “I love all pies. I don’t discriminate,” she explains.

As for the customers, “everyone is going nuts over our cake-of-the-week, which is usually something really creative and decadent that we sell by the slice,” says Gabrielle.

And if you don’t have dietary restrictions? By all means, one can still enjoy any of the items for sale without missing the traditional flour or dairy ingredients. I can personally vouch for their cupcakes (don’t get me started on the addictive frosting) and their focaccia breads (perfect texture and salted exactly right).

The Sweet Niche also accepts special orders for desserts with any type of ingredients. “It’s important for people to be able to get exactly what they want,” explains Gabrielle. “We want everything in our case to be as accessible to as many people as possible,” adds Zimmerman.

What’s next for The Sweet Niche? After they get into the rhythm of just surviving with a new business, Zimmerman and Gabrielle hope to be open for lunch. They have great ideas for grab-and-go savory hand pies and soups that they’d like to offer. They’ve also bought equipment for making their own vegan, soy-free, coconut-based ice cream.

olympia gluten-free bakery

The Sweet Niche is located in the The Bearded Lady’s previous location, 412 Franklin Street in downtown Olympia. Their signage was painted by local favorite Ira Coyne.

Meanwhile, the two are grateful to their predecessors from The Bearded Lady for giving them their start, and also to the greater Olympia community. “There’s such a great support network of other small business owners,” says Gabrielle.

“Please come enjoy this space that we’ve made, and come hang out with us,” invites Gabrielle.

You can visit The Sweet Niche Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., or follow them on Facebook and Instagram (thesweetniche). Please visit their website for more information. If you want to contribute toward their start-up costs, you can fund them via their site on

The Sweet Niche Bakery

412 Franklin St. SE in downtown Olympia

(360) 943-6235


July is Smart Irrigation Month

Thurston Talk - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 6:01pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

LawnJuly is Smart Irrigation Month in Olympia. Because lawns and landscapes are typically overwatered by up to 30%, the City of Olympia’s Water Conservation Program is encouraging water customers to cut their irrigation water waste through a variety of incentives. By watering wisely, maintaining and upgrading automated irrigation systems, consumers can save money and help protect our drinking water resources for future generations.

The City’s Water Conservation Program offers residential water customers a $200 rebate on the installation of a “smart” irrigation controller and/or a free rain sensor – both for in-ground irrigation systems. Smart controllers automatically adjust watering times based on weather conditions to provide optimal moisture for healthy plants and landscapes, and conserves water. Rain sensors simply shut off irrigation systems when it is raining, so you don’t water when nature is doing it for you. Customers who water with a hose-end sprinkler can benefit from a free hose watering timer.

City of Olympia commercial water customers may be eligible for a rebate of up to $2500 on efficient irrigation system upgrades, including spray nozzle retrofits, smart controller upgrades and drip irrigation conversions.

The City’s efficient irrigation consultant says, “Olympia has made it easy for commercial customers and irrigation contractors to get rebates for installing efficient sprinkler nozzles, controllers with conservation features, and other water saving equipment. The rebate process is simple for most items, and the rebate amounts are generous enough that customers can start saving money right away.”

Visit our website for Smart Irrigation Month incentives, rebate applications, resources and tips on how you can join your fellow neighbors and get smart about irrigation!

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation.

For more information, contact the City of Olympia Water Conservation Program at 360.753.8271 or


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