Recent local blog posts

Howardian, A Goddess in Yer way EP

K Records - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 6:44pm
The new Howardian EP A Goddess in Yer way is available now through WTFTW . Howardian is the long-time band organized by Ian Vanek (Japanther) that keeps on doin’ it, baby. Above you can stream “Sunshine”. Give it a spin.    
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

LOLA Lifestyle Boutique and Marchetti Wines Host Seasonal Sip & Shop September 17

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 4:22pm



Submitted by LOLA Lifestyle Boutique

LOLA Lifestyle Boutique and Marchetti Wines host this month's Sip and Shop event.

LOLA Lifestyle Boutique and Marchetti Wines host this month’s Sip and Shop event.

Mark your calendars. LOLA Lifestyle Boutique and Marchetti Wines present their seasonal Sip & Shop in Downtown Olympia on Thursday, September 17 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Enjoy yummy hors d’oeuvres, locally-made wine, high-end shopping, a charity raffle benefiting Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County and Purple Heart Animal Rescue, and more.  And LOLA is pleased to offer to guests the musical stylings of talented jazz vocalist Lizzy Boyer and The Brown Edition guitarist, Tarik Bentlemsani. You don’t want to miss it!

While rsvp is not required, it’s encouraged so we can plan for your arrival! Stay tuned for more event details. We know it will be a really fun evening! Learn more on our Facebook Event Page.

The Sip & Shop Event Series was started by Marchetti Wines and LOLA Lifestyle Boutique in January of 2015 as a way to both introduce their businesses to the greater community and to create an ongoing, lively and genuinely fun event in downtown Olympia.

The festive atmosphere at Sip and Shop includes fine wines, music and food.

The festive atmosphere at Sip and Shop includes fine wines, music and food.

Sip & Shop events are free to attend, they take place quarterly and always include gourmet food and wine, shopping discounts for participants, and either a charity raffle or silent auction. Charities selected are based on the individual philanthropic interested of partners, at the top of which are the welfare of children and animals in our community.

Through these events, the partners want to attract individuals who are invested in downtown and supporting local businesses, who are accustomed to shopping high-end retail, and who enjoy indulging in good wines and food. These events are both for our existing clients as well as those who haven’t yet experienced the wonderful and unique shopping environment at LOLA (for women, kids and men) or the delicious house-made wines offered by Marchetti.

LOLA Lifestyle Boutique is located at 522 Capitol Way South in downtown Olympia and can be reached at 1-844-GET-LOLA.


The K booth at Burning Man, blowing up!

K Records - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 1:40pm
The K booth at Burning Man 2015 is our most ambitious and successful yet! In above photog, Calvin Johnson takes his turn in the K dunk tank, a fund raiser for crippled and burned children. Standing by are Ashley Eriksson, Jamie Barrier (Pine Hill Haints) and Jeremy Jay (pictured) to lend a hand. Mirah is […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Apple Tree enrolling students

South Sound Arts - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:12am
Apple Tree Productions in Olympia starts children's theater classes in September. Apple Tree is Heidi Fredericks, Colleen Powers and other theatrical educational professionals.

Follow ATP on Facebook and Twitter:  Apple Tree Productions and @TumwaterDrama or email Heidi at

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 8:27am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton



This handsome boy is Frankie. He is a 5 years old, in wonderful condition and loves everyone. He has the coolest voice, too. It sounds like he is talking. If you are a Pitty lover this boy is perfect.  He walks well on leash and loves it. He craves attention, belly rubs and loves playing ball. Frankie is a charmer who also loves the outdoors.

He could live with a older mellow female dog. Frankie had a new friend Lucy at the shelter that he adored but Lucy was adopted. Frankie would make an excellent addition to an active family with older children.  He is a quick learner who already knows commands such as “down, leave-it, stay, sit, and wait”. He is neutered, and ready to meet his forever family! Frankie is a very loyal and loving boy, looking for a loving and loyal home. If you would like to meet Frankie contact Adopt-a-Pet of Shelton.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them.  Visit our website at or contact Adopt-A-Pet, on Jensen Road in Shelton, at or (360) 432-3091.  Join us on Facebook at “Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Washington”.

Tastes Happy: A Healthier Choice that Tastes Delicious

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 6:53am



By Kelli Samson

olympia food co-opRon and Amanda Kim discovered just how important the ingredients in our food can be when their older daughter was diagnosed with a tree nut allergy a decade ago.

“Melodi’s tree nut allergy forced us to turn our food around and read its labels. We started finding out what’s really in our food, and it scared us a little bit,” recalls Amanda.

There weren’t a lot of options on the shelves of the store that would be safe for their child to consume, so they turned to their own kitchen. With a little research, the Kims were soon making all of their food from scratch, using organic and local ingredients whenever possible.

 Amanda, Ron, Serean and Melodi) is very grateful to the Olympia Food Coop’s east side location for stocking their products and carrying many of their ingredients.

The Kim family (clockwise from left: Amanda, Ron, Serean and Melodi) is very grateful to the Olympia Food Coop’s east side location for stocking their products and carrying many of their ingredients.

“We place a much higher value on our food than we used to,” says Ron.

Melodi’s symptoms ceased, and she wasn’t the only one who felt better. As it turns out, Ron had an undiagnosed nut allergy, too. The Kim’s use their kitchen, and their know how, to keep their bodies feeling their best.

When they saw the amazing transformation this kind of cooking could have in their own household, the Kims wanted to share their food with other families who may not have the time or the skills to make them on their own. From this desire to help others, Tastes Happy was born.

“We saw the difference it made for us and wanted to make a positive impact toward increased access to these kinds of real foods for others. We make food that comes from better sources. Everything is connected, and we hope to be a part of this kind of food movement,” explains Ron. “Modern science can make all kinds of things taste good, and that’s kind of scary to me. Food should make you feel good, too. Whom you’re supporting through the food that you purchase should also make you feel good about your choices.”

For Tastes Happy, the Kims make three types of granola, two kinds of cookies, and seasonal fruit spreads one day a week. On top of their real food business, Ron still has a full-time job and Amanda home-schools their girls. They are busy just like the rest of us, but they are making time for something they really value.

Taste Happy’s granola is vegan and contains no GMOs or gluten. It comes in three flavors.

Taste Happy’s granola is vegan and contains no GMOs or gluten. It comes in three flavors.

“We have plans to have our own kitchen, to get certified organic (all of our ingredients are organic except our baking powder), and to produce our full line,” shares Ron. “We really want to make organic kimchi.”

They source their ingredients from our local food coop and from The Fresh Approach at the Olympia Farmers Market. The coffee in two of their products comes from Olympia Coffee Roasters.

From the outside, it may just look like health food. But hidden inside are amazing flavors that will raise your eyebrows and help you understand that your packaged foods really don’t need all that extra junk you see on the ingredient label.

“Their granola is the only kind my younger daughter will eat. It doesn’t have nuts like yours, Mom,” she tells me.

And, there is not a treat more decadent than their Cran-Orange Breeze cookies (also Melodi’s favorite), which have the perfect chew. Their fruit spreads have no added sugar (they instead draw their sweetness from unfiltered, organic apple juice), and I promise you won’t miss it.

“I even eat the spreads on ice cream,” confesses Ron.

With Tastes Happy, the ingredients are minimal. If it’s not needed, it’s not in there, and this makes the main ingredients the stars of the show.

“The quality of ingredients are key for us,” says Ron. “We’re hopeful that more people start thinking about where their food comes from when they are choosing what to buy.”

Taste Happy is also environmentally aware. “All of our packaging is compostable. Our glass jars are recyclable or reusable. We try to keep it as eco-friendly as possible in all aspects of the business,” adds Amanda.

In addition, one percent of each purchase from Tastes Happy goes toward GRuB. “We love supporting people growing their own food, having that joy of experiencing growing a tomato in your back yard,” says Amanda.

Though Ron grew up with parents who own a restaurant and Amanda’s mom taught her to how to bake and preserve through canning, the couple has learned quite a few tricks in the kitchen that they can now teach their parents. “We’ve spun their recipes around,” says Amanda.

Though Ron grew up with parents who own a restaurant and Amanda’s mom taught her to how to bake and preserve through canning, the couple has learned quite a few tricks in the kitchen that they can now teach their parents. “We’ve spun their recipes around,” says Amanda.

Making foods from scratch using organic ingredients has truly transformed the quality of the Kim’s lives. Ron sums it up best. “We treat food as our medicine. It’s so important in giving our bodies the best chance. There’s hidden value in better foods.”

Tastes Happy now also offers personal chef services. The Kims are available to cook you delicious, organic meals from start to finish, including shopping and cleaning up.

You can purchase goods by Tastes Happy at the Olympia, Yelm, and Tacoma Food Coops, The Food Nook at The Commons at Fertile Ground, The Little General, or through their website. Their website also provides the option to sign up for a granola or fruit spread club, which sends an assortment of seasonal spreads.

“It’s a nice opportunity for people to try our new recipes that might not be out at the market,” says Amanda.

“What we are doing feeds others, but it also feeds me internally,” says Ron. “It helps both of us to help others have accessibility to these good foods. We want to inspire people, whether that means they change their habits or make their own food, we just want to inspire others to move in this positive direction.”

It’s hard to see anything but happiness in these words, or the food crafted by the Kim’s hands.

You can keep up with the Kim family business on the Taste Happy website or via Instagram and Twitter.


FirstLight HomeCare Brings a Helping Hand to Your Home

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 6:00am



Greg and Sarah Lane, owners of FirstLight Home Care, chose to open a business that would offer a needed service to the Olympia community.

Greg and Sarah Lane, owners of FirstLight Home Care, chose to open a business that would offer a needed service to the Olympia community.

When I sat down with Sarah and Greg Lane, owners of Olympia’s FirstLight HomeCare, two things came through loud and clear: First, they love Olympia. Second, they feel passionate about making a real difference in people’s lives. In February of 2015, after much research and soul-searching, these two driving forces led them to open the Northwest’s only FirstLight HomeCare office.

The Lanes are third and fourth generation Olympia residents and can trace their families back to nearly the turn of the century. These two locals are no strangers to serving others. Sarah’s first job after graduating from the University of Washington was with Volunteers of America. While she admits she was looking for any job that would pay the bills, her role with the 119-year-old non-profit opened her eyes to what would become her future career. “I worked in the Senior Companion program in downtown Seattle where I matched low-income seniors with active, energetic and mobile seniors for companion placements,” recalls Sarah.

The program showed her an area of need she didn’t know existed and filled her up in a way she didn’t expect. “I went home every day feeling really great about what I did,” she shares. The simple act of matching a volunteer to spend time with another person was enough to brighten someone’s day. “I knew that I loved it.”

Sarah transitioned to working for the State of Washington, where she met her husband, Greg Lane. The two both worked in the Attorney General’s office. A few years ago Sarah began to feel the pull to work in a field directly helping people again. “I wanted to find a business opportunity where I could still feel great at the end of the day,” she says.

She and Greg landed on FirstLight HomeCare, a franchise style business. “We knew we wanted to start something that provided a service in the community,” shares Greg. “Given Sarah’s background and positive experience working in this area, FirstLight HomeCare made sense.”

 personal care, such as grooming and bathing, and companion care, including household tasks, errands and companionship.

Non-medical homecare includes two categories of assistance: personal care, such as grooming and bathing, and companion care, including household tasks, errands and companionship.

“It gives us the best of both worlds,” says Sarah. “We are 100 percent locally owned [and ] make all our own decisions, but we have the support of the larger company.” And when opening a business, having a roadmap to follow and systems in place is invaluable. “We already had a website available to customize, billing systems in place, a family portal built. Having the backend taken care of allows us to focus on taking care of clients,” she explains.

Greg agrees. “The people at FirstLight had the exact same focus that we did. Their highest priority was on the quality of care.”

The seeds for this business were planted about eight years ago when the Lanes both had aging family members in their care. “We were trying to find different alternatives for them for care and we didn’t even know, then, that home care was an option,” Greg shares. “We just considered facilities.”

Studies show that 90 percent of aging adults would prefer to stay in their homes, to retain some of their independence, over moving to a care facility. And with many people not needing the skilled nursing care offered in a nursing home or by in-home nurses, home care fills a significant need within our community.

 a free smoke detector battery replacement service to help prevent seniors from falling during this bi-annual chore.

FirstLight Home Care can assist with nearly any household task.

So, what is home care? “FirstLight HomeCare provides non-medical care that falls into two general categories: companion care and personal care,” explains Sarah. “Personal care includes more hands-on things like grooming, bathing and using the bathroom. Companion care is more hands-off,” she continues. Light housekeeping, general companionship, laundry, transportation and meal preparation are all examples of services included in companion care.

And although many care agencies require a minimum of three hours per visit, FirstLight HomeCare can arrange for unique options such as a one-hour bath visit. “If someone is recovering from surgery, for example, and just needs help with a shower, we aren’t going to make them pay us to stay in their home for three hours,” says Sarah.

FirstLight HomeCare offers other services that might come as a surprise. Temporary care after injury or surgery is common for clients of all ages. Respite care is popular with families who may serve as the primary caregiver, but are planning a vacation or just need a bit of a break. Travel companion services are also an option, offering a companion for a family member needing assistance during a trip or a travel partner for grandma who is determined to take one more cruise.

“One thing that really sets us apart is the extra training we provide our caregivers on dementia care,” shares Director of Community Outreach, Arianna Hutchings. “Nationally, FirstLight has found that about 80 percent of clients need some sort of memory care during their lives.” The Lanes focus on comprehensive training to meet these needs.

“We also have really high standards for who we hire,” continues Sarah. Not only do applicants undergo a rigorous background check, but they also complete a personality analysis to ensure they are a good match for the client. “We know they are on the front lines with our clients and we want to send out the best caregivers we can.”

Adriana Hutchings and Sarah Lane head up the team at FirstLight Home Care, located on Olympia's westside.

Adriana Hutchings and Sarah Lane head up the team at FirstLight Home Care, located on Olympia’s westside.

Ultimately, says Sarah, it comes down to one question, “Would I leave this person with my parents?” If her answer is anything but a resounding “Yes,” the person doesn’t get hired.

And, the careful selection of employees has resulted in a low 8-percent turnover rate at FirstLight — a big difference from the 80-percent turnover rate in the home care industry nationally.

“It feels so good to be a part of Thurston County where we support seniors in the community, focusing on giving the best care possible with the highest level of standard,” says Hutchings.

To learn more about FirstLight HomeCare visit FirstLight HomeCare online or call them at 360-489-1621.

Lacey Local, Lizzi Jackson, Crowned Miss Washington

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle  

Budd Bay cafe logo“To me, pageantry is about more than the glitz and glamor you see promoted on television.”

Lizzi Jackson, our current Miss Washington, speaks with authority. After all, she competed in her first pageant at the tender age of 12. This was also the year that she built her own robot and started learning Japanese — self-challenges, incidentally, inspired by her love of anime.

Part of Lizzi’s appeal is that she embraces her geekiness with gusto. She relishes busting the myth that “‘pageant girls and comics don’t mix.” In fact, Lizzi used Wonder Woman as an outlet to explain to state-level pageant judges that she’s not afraid to be herself. “It started as just a little fun fact I put in my paperwork,” she says, “and it turned into this movement, almost unexpectedly. I get asked to go to appearances wearing my Wonder Woman costume.”

Lacey Local Lizzi Jackson Miss Washington wonder woman

Says Jackson, “Wonder Woman was my favorite superhero growing up—and still is! She was the first female superhero in a prominent role, and I latched on to her because of it.”

Clearly, Lizzi is not your average beauty queen.

Yet in talking to her, it becomes immediately obvious that there’s more to the whole pageant system than typically meets the eye. The other participants are not just her competition. They’re also her compatriots, women Lizzi admires for being genuine, intelligent and dedicated. In fact, she is grateful to everyone involved in the pageant system for “always being there to lend a shoulder, a hand, or an ear when I need it.”

For Lizzi, the pageant world is about “the life lessons and skills you gain in the competition. It’s about the connections you make with businesses, community leaders, and legislators when championing your cause, and finally, it’s about growing into this person you always had the potential to be.”

What’s more, when Lizzi was crowned Miss Washington on July 4 of this year, she earned $11,000 in scholarship aid. That’s right. Thanks to the pageant system, there’s zero educational debt clouding this young woman’s promising future.

Lizzi, a Lacey local, has always valued education. As a student at River Ridge High School, she took advantage of the Running Start program offered through South Puget Sound Community College. When Lizzi graduated high school in 2010, she had a high school diploma and an associates degree. Now a graduate of Western Washington University with a double major in Marketing and Management Information Systems, Lizzi certainly hasn’t forgotten her roots.

“Lacey has always had a small-town vibe with big city opportunity. This city is so open-minded. Growing up, I was grateful to be surrounded by people who looked at me for me, and not just the stereotypes that came with my skin color.”

Jackson’s parents, Troy and Dee, are a constant support—as is her younger brother, Chris.

Jackson’s parents, Troy and Dee, are a constant support—as is her younger brother, Chris.

On September 13, Lizzi will compete at the national level for the Miss America crown. Certainly it’s an amazing opportunity, but Lizzi is even more excited about her upcoming year engaging in community service.

In addition to serving as a goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Lizzi will continue to advocate for her passion: mentorship. Specifically, she hopes to build more support for at-risk youth. Having been both a mentor and a mentee, Jackson knows first-hand that building these kind of relationships is good for both the children and community mentors involved. “I believe every person has the potential to leave an impact on this world; but it is our job as mentors to help them realize it.”

Lizzi’s mother, Dee, believes wholeheartedly in her daughter’s ability to motivate younger generations to follow their dreams. “She wants to plant the seeds of hope that they can accomplish what they perceive as impossible,” says Dee. Lizzi’s mother describes her daughter’s tireless visits to schools, youth groups and various community organizations. She recounts Lizzi’s desire to help on an individual level as well, citing an occasion when she repeatedly read and critiqued a high school student’s college admissions essay. (The student, by the way, got into her top choice school.)

Dee says Lizzi doesn’t let any circumstances stop her from achieving her goals. “Even if she fails,” says Dee, “her perception is that it’s a learning experience. Her ‘never quit’ and ‘can do’ attitude is what she brings to Miss Washington.”

Jackson is quick to thank others for their contribution to her success.

Jackson is quick to thank others for their contribution to her success.

Onaleisha Petty, Lizzi’s longtime friend and college roommate, concurs. “She will always be the type of person to chase her dreams and refuses to let others not realize theirs. Miss Washington gained a strong role model the night she was crowned.”

Social media users have a chance to help Lizzi achieve her dream of reaching the Miss America semi-finals. Vote for her daily on Facebook and Twitter using the phrase: Washington#MissAmericaVote. Please note that, for Facebook votes to count, they must be original posts set to the public viewing.

Finally, don’t miss your chance to cheer for Lizzi during the 2016 Miss America Pageant. It airs at 9:00 p.m. on ABC, September 13. Check out Lizzi’s public Facebook page or website for more details.

Photo credit: Bill Higdon of Select Photography.

Poulsbo, village by the sea

clockPoulsbo is a bustling village with a strong Nordic heritage.  As usual, the Rebels experienced perfect summer weather for this trip.

The connections for this long trip were good… two buses to get to Seattle, ferry to Bainbridge Island, then two buses on Bainbridge Island to Poulsbo.  view from Loft restaurant

We arrived in Poulsbo just before noon.  Since we had an earlier than usual start of the day, we were hungry and ready for lunch.

Most of us ate at the Loft restaurant, which is the top floor of a building overlooking the Marina.  The slightly overcast sky provided just the right amount of shade.   We all enjoyed our meal.  After lunch, there was plenty of time to explore the three or so blocks of Front Street, which is the main street in the historic village.  front streetLots of things to see:  art galleries, book stores, and (of course) Sluys bakery, a Poulsbo institution.

On the edge of front street, Mora Creamery had a storefront, a wonderful Bainbridge Island ice cream company.  The group met at the pre-determined location to catch our return trip bus.waiting for the busskyline from ferryThe ferry ride going home was so relaxing.  Sitting on the sun deck we had wonderful views of the Seattle skyline.  Once in Seattle, we walked through Pioneer Square to get to the Sounder Train… a great way to get home without even seeing the dreaded Highway I-5 traffic! giant wheel from ferry

Thanks for another great trip!  Thanks, Sharlene, for taking and sharing these pictures!

Categories: Local Environment

Tana Otton + Kennedy Croft – Mother/Daughter Volleyball Combo Proves Successful at Tumwater

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 7:59am



By Grant Clark

Providence logo (2015)There’s a large wall in the living room at Tana Otton’s house that is bare. No pictures, no shelves, just your run-of-the-mill structural elements – drywall covering insulation and 2 x 4 studs.

It’s not that Otton is opposed to dressing up the home’s negative space with the occasional wall art. Her options just became very limited once her daughter Kennedy Croft discovered volleyball.

 from left to right Sid Otton, Tana Otton, Kennedy Croft, Cade Otton and Tim Otton.

A family of athletes: from left to right Sid Otton, Tana Otton, Kennedy Croft, Cade Otton and Tim Otton.

“If she had no one to practice with she would use that wall,” Otton said. “It seemed like every day since she was a kid she would be passing the ball against the wall and see how many she could get in a row.”

Croft, who began playing the sport when she was eight, estimates she topped out at around 350 passes.

“I figure I will just have to wait until she leaves for college before I paint (the wall),” Otton added.

Otton really has no one to blame but herself for her daughter’s enthusiastic volleyball aspirations.

Despite hailing from a football family – Otton’s father Sid is the state’s all-time winningest high school football coach, while brothers Tim and Brad were each gridiron standouts in both high school and college – she has formed her own identity as one of the state’s premiere high school volleyball coaches.

Otton took over the Tumwater High School volleyball program in 2003 and has since transformed the Thunderbirds into a state powerhouse over the last decade. Under her guidance, the program, which failed to make a state tournament appearance between 1993 and 2005, has participated in state nine times since 2006, winning state crowns in 2009 and 2014. Otton’s teams have finished as state runner-ups in 2008, 2012 and 2013.

Kennedy Croft is set to begin her sophmore year at Tumwater and her second season under the direction of her volleyball coach, and mom, Tanna Otton.

Kennedy Croft is set to begin her sophomore year at Tumwater and her second season under the direction of her volleyball coach, and mom, Tana Otton.

It only seemed fitting her daughter would immediately be attracted to the sport. That living room wall never stood a chance, destined to have a few thousand passes ricochet off of it.

“When I was in elementary school, I would always ride the bus (after school) to the high school just so I could watch them practice,” Croft said. “I would just be at practice, hanging out and watching. I remember when they won state (in 2009) and I got to ride with the team to Yakima. That was pretty memorable. I’ve just always dreamed of playing here.”

Croft, who is heading into her sophomore year, certainly made the most of her freshman campaign, helping the Thunderbirds capture the Class 2A state championship.

“After tryouts (last year) I was actually really nervous,” Croft remembers. “I thought people would think I only made the team because my mom was coach.”

As unlikely as this scenario might be, if anyone did think twice about Croft’s place on the team, watching the 5-foot-10 outside hitter play as she earned first-team all-Evergreen Conference 2A honors last year would wipe those doubts away.

And, the accolades didn’t stop there. The highlight of Croft’s rookie season was selection as one of five finalists for National Freshman of the Year by, an accomplishment Croft learned about through a chance internet search.

“I actually randomly Googled my name one day, and that’s how I found out I was a finalist,” Croft said. “I knew I was nominated, but that’s when I learned I was in the top five. It was unexpected. To be from tiny Tumwater and receive something like that – it really motivates me to work on my game and improve.”

Interestingly, it proved to be somewhat of a rough start last season for Croft, but not in terms of her play on the court, where she’s always been consistent. Instead, making the lofty transition to the high school sports routine, as well as adapting to the mother/coach relationship she faced on a daily basis, was an adjustment.

The mother/daughter duo of Tanna Otton (left) and Kennedy Croft are buddies at home, but it's all business on the court.

The mother/daughter duo of Tana Otton (left) and Kennedy Croft are buddies at home, but it’s all business on the court.

“I actually think I was too hard on her (the first year),” said Otton, a 1992 Tumwater graduate and an all-state volleyball player for the T-Birds her senior season. “It took a while for both of us to get adjusted to the coaching side of the relationship. She was also adjusting to being in high school, understanding what it’s like to have to practice every day after school. Halfway through the season, though, everything started to click.”

Croft wasn’t alone in hitting her stride mid-season. The entire squad seemed to follow suit. Tumwater, which hasn’t shied away from scheduling top-flight, larger school programs as non-league matches, went into cruise control, hammering teams along the way. The T-Birds ended the season with a straight-sets sweep of North Kitsap in the state championship match.

Tumwater has graduated Evergreen Conference MVP Mackenzie Bowen and first-team all-conference player Sarah Warner from last year’s state championship team but welcome back a slew of talent that contributed to the title run.

In addition to Croft, Otton expects big seasons out of seniors Anela Carins and Jaya Reed and junior Cristina Hegarty, a first-team selection last year. For 2015, the T-Birds look to become the first back-to-back 2A state champions since Pullman High School accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2011.


Was the People’s University a Precursor to The Evergreen State College?

Thurston Talk - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 6:00am



By Drew Crooks

olympia furnitureHigher education has long been important in Olympia. One of the most interesting colleges that existed in the capital city was the People’s University of the early 20th century. Some have considered this school to be a precursor to The Evergreen State College in Olympia. 

The story of the People’s University is interwoven with the life of John Riley Chaplin, an idealist who believed that education was the key to a better society. Born on April 30, 1851 in Fowlerville, Michigan, he married Emma Strobridge in 1875. They both attended Adrian College. The couple would have six children: Frank, Emery, Grace, Gurnsey, Ethel, and Winthrop.

evergreen olympia history

John Riley Chaplin (1851-1906) was the driving force behind the People’s University of Olympia. Photo courtesy Tribune Souvenir of Olympia, Washington, May 1891, Washington State Library.

John Chaplin became an ordained minister in Michigan, first for the Methodist Protestant Church, then for the Congregational Church. 1889 proved to be a turning point for the Chaplin family. They came west to Olympia that year just as Washington moved from territory to statehood. For a brief time John Chaplin served as the minister of the Congregational Church in Olympia. In 1890 he resigned from his post and got involved in real estate and educational matters.

This dreamer platted the community of College Grove in 1891 on Cooper Point which would feature a college named Olympic University. Development on Cooper Point, however, made little progress, especially with a nationwide economic downturn in 1893. Still on September 18, 1894 the Olympic University opened in “temporary” quarters in the old Collegiate Institute buildings (located on what is now Olympia Avenue near East Bay Drive). The fledgling school operated for one academic year, but did not reopen in the fall of 1895. Both Olympic University and College Grove faded away.

The determined John Chaplin did not give up on his ideas. In 1900 he announced plans for the People’s University which would be associated with a new community called Athens. Both would again be situated on Cooper Point. Chaplin dreamed that Athens would be a place without alcohol, public gambling, and prostitution. His vision for the People’s University was also highly moralistic.

John Chaplin wanted his college, as stated in the school’s College Independent magazine, to be an institution “of the people and for the people and will be governed as much as possible by the people.” No economic, religious, or political group would control its operations. The visionary saw the People’s University as a place where academic and practical methods, including a department of travel, would produce moral individuals who would create a better society. 

Until poor health slowed him down, Chaplin energetically pushed for the People’s University locally, regionally, and nationally. He traveled numerous times across the nation in search of funding and students. At the same time John Chaplin promoted land sales for his Olympia Development Company. Indeed, many people immigrated to Olympia because of his salesmanship.

evergreen olympia history

Girl’s Dormitory, People’s University, Olympia. Photo courtesy Western Independent, Vol. III, No. 9 (June 1905), Washington State Library.

The People’s University, like its Olympic University predecessor, opened in “temporary” quarters in the old Collegiate Institute buildings (near present-day East Bay Drive) on September 16, 1902. Classes were wide ranging with degrees offered in philosophical, literary and collegiate subjects, and courses in commercial, normal (teaching), and music fields. There would even be evening classes for those who worked full time.

Costs for the students seem amazingly low by today’s standards. A Morning Olympian newspaper article dated August 15, 1902 outlined the preparatory and collegiate departments’ tuition rates: “per term of twelve weeks, $10; incidentals, per term of twelve weeks, $5; incidentals per term of thirty-six weeks, $10.”

The same article listed room and board costs for students: “Unfurnished rooms will cost, per term, $5; furnished rooms, lighted and heated, per term, $12; when two students occupy the same room, $18. Board per term, good, substantial and abundant, $35; furnished room and board, per term, $42.”

Despite hopeful talk, the People’s University never left its “temporary” quarters and did not move to Cooper Point. The Athens community also did not grow on the Point. Still, as indicated in the university’s magazine (first College Independent, then Western Independent) and contemporary local newspaper articles, the school existed for four academic years (1902-1906) with college classes and activities. Music especially seemed important at the People’s University, a fact made apparent at its annual musicale and students’ recital.

evergreen olympia history

“Mt. Rainier, Budd’s Inlet and Olympia, From Athens –Site of People’s University” by artist Edward Lange. Photo courtesy Olympia The Capital City Of Washington . . ., 1905, Washington State Library.

John Chaplin constantly fought for his university. Then in 1905 his health seriously deteriorated from a liver disease. He had to step back from active participation in the school’s operations. The People’s University held its graduation in June 1906, but it was faltering. Emery Chaplin, son of John, purchased the school in July. It did not reopen in the fall.

The dreamer John Chaplin died on October 22, 1906 and was buried in Tumwater’s Masonic Memorial Park. For a time the People’s University facilities were temporarily used for Olympia High School classes. They were sold in January 1907 to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod for use as a seminary that lasted for a number of years. In the 1920s the well-used structures were demolished.

Some historians have regarded the People’s University as a precursor to The Evergreen State College because of its progressive ideas and intended location on Cooper Point where the modern school is situated. Still the People’s University was definitely a product of its times and the vision of John Chaplin. Perhaps the real importance of the school is that it existed for four years and directly impacted the lives of its students, teachers, and the Olympia community. 

Acknowledgments: The historical resources at the Washington State Library proved essential to the writing of this article. It is a wonderful place to learn about our local and state history.


Free Introduction to Square Dancing Offers Fun, Fitness and Friends

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



Submitted by Olympia Area Square Dancers 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walkers Take to the Streets to Fight Suicide

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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

Construction Begins on State Avenue Pedestrian Access Improvement Project

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



Submitted by The City of Olypmia

What’s Happening

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

Tree Impacts

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

Parking & Traffic Impacts

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

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

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

Ballet Northwest Announces Open Auditions for the Nutcracker

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



Submitted by Ballet Northwest 

Ballet Northwest Nutcracker

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

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

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

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

For more information on auditioning for the Nutcracker, please visit


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

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



By Tobin Fitzthum

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

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

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

mud bay jugglers

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

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

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

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

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

mud bay jugglers

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

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

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

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

mud bay jugglers

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

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

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

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

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

Psycho-Moto-Psycho at Brick & Mortar

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

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

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

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

To Kill a Mockingbird at Harlequin

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

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

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

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



By Grant Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tillman’s thoughts looking back on the game?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



By Isabelle Morrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Syndicate content