Recent local blog posts

Localoops Phantasmagoria

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Thu, 04/24/2014 - 5:00pm

Crackpot Crafters presents Localoops Phantasmagoria. Come for a night of 16mm projector performances from local Olympia artists.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Volunteer Meeting!

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 5:00pm


Did you know that Northern is entirely run and staffed by volunteers? We are always looking for new people. Lucy says come check us out!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

TisDass (from Niger feat Angelo Spencer and Brainstorm) – Flesh Collage (Oly) + special guest

Kildjate Moussa Albadé from Niger will be in Olympia for the first time presenting his project TisDass!


TisDass will play raw grooves from the Nigerian desert accompanied by Angelo Spencer and Brainstorm as his backing band!

This is probably your one and only chance to see this wild music played live in a human size venue! Don’t miss it!

Moussa played with Bombino for many years and played countless Tamasheq weddings! He’s an amazing singer and an amazing guitar player!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Ship Loaded with Logs

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 6:47pm

Port of Olympia was one of the first stops for Inland Sea, a very new ship. see this photo larger logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Thurston County Specialized Recreation is in Precarious Budget Situation

Janine's Little Hollywood - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 5:34pm

Above: On April 9, about 60 participants of Thurston County's Special Recreation program gathered to bowl at Westside Lanes in Olympia. Strikes and smiles were in abundance! Commissioners to Hold Work Session on Issue May 1By Janine Unsoeld

A small group of dedicated people in Thurston County are addressing budget shortfalls and issues regarding the specialized recreation program for individuals with developmental or physical disabilities.James Reddick, president of the PARC Foundation, a local, nonprofit parks, arts, recreation, and cultural organization, recently reached out to Little Hollywood to tell the story.

“I am concerned that the public does not know what is taking place with Thurston County specialized recreation services. What happens if this recreation service is eliminated for this population of citizens?” says Reddick.

Many of the individuals who use the county’s recreation services live with their parents or guardians. Some live on their own and sometimes support themselves with work income earned through agencies like Morningside. 

“I have contacted many individuals and organizations, but I have not received much response. I would like to find or start a group that would be influential in raising funds for special recreation, similar to the St. Peter’s Foundation that supports the hospital,” says Reddick.Thurston County Specialized Recreation Budget History

Currently, the county contributes about $220,000 and the cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater contributes a combined $23,000 to the program, says Cliff Moore, Thurston County manager. Program users fees are also part of the budget.  Thurston County Recreation Services is a registered contractor with the state Department of Social and Health Services and is able to accept Department of Developmental Disability respite funds for payment of activities.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Moore placed the special recreation program into a larger context, and provided a history of Thurston County’s budget situation overall.
Since 2009, the county support for special recreation services has continued to be reduced.  Moore recounted how 2009 was the year Thurston County suffered a tremendous financial impact due to the economic downturn.
“The county lost 175 positions in 2008-09….Since 2008 until now, we’ve lost 252 positions. The biggest reasons are inflation, an increase in the cost of medical benefits, salary step increases, and fuel for county vehicles….Our single source of income is property taxes…and up until 2009, we had a healthy budget from the general fund.”
That year, the special recreation program was going to be cut from the budget. Moore was reminded by this reporter who was present, of an emotional 2009 county board of commissioners public hearing in which passionate testimony was voiced by caregivers and clients of the program.
Moore immediately responded, “In my entire 25 years of public service, that was the single most moving public meeting I’ve ever attended….”
The public testimony and passionate outpouring worked, and after the 2009 public meeting, the commissioners created a combined funding mechanism of the general fund and the Millage Fund that has sustained the program for the last five years.
The Millage Fund
The Millage Fund is established by state statute and requires the county to spend a certain amount of property taxes on social service programs, including special recreation.
Chris Colton, a member of the Thurston County Parks and Recreation citizen advisory group, provided specifics on the Millage Fund, illustrating the range of services required to take care of an individual with developmental or physical disabilities.
“The Millage Fund receives 2-1/2 cents per $1000 from property taxes…however, the Millage Fund's expenditure is greater than its income, and the program needs to cut about $20,000 in spending every year, starting in 2015.
“In 2014, 45% of the Millage Fund was spent supporting special recreation while the rest of the money went to high school transition (12%), parent and family support (9%), intensive case management (14%), senior services (10%), child care development and support (1%), personal counseling (3%), People First self-advocacy (3%), and assault prevention classes (3%).
“The municipalities agree that special recreation is important but….if each city upped its contribution, the $20,000 could be made up.  However, the cities are in a budget crunch and are not inclined to give up more money, at least not at the request of park staff. Also, that rationale is based on the commissioners continuing to require Millage Funds to fund special recreation. This issue needs to be addressed in our future meeting with the county commissioners.” Efforts to Save Program Comes Up Empty-Handed
Moore says the county strongly appreciates the special recreation program and has worked hard to find a sustainable plan, a programmatic home, and funding for the program. Last year, the county launched an effort to save the program by convening a summit of 17 local organizations in June 2013, but there were no takers to provide the services.
The organizations involved include the Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County, the Hands On Children’s Museum, Morningside, Senior Services of South Sound, United Way of Thurston County, the Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater parks and recreation programs, the PARC Foundation, the South Sound YMCA, and many more.
When the county’s Resource Stewardship department took an overall 10 percent budget reduction in 2014, the summer day camp program for special recreation was cut.
In March, the county moved the program from Resource Stewardship into the public health and social services department on Lilly Road. Moore says it has been good to connect the program with other staff.
“It heightens the awareness, value and importance of the special recreation program to more staff…before, it was always seen as something different. Still, our goal is to find a sustainable long term solution.”
Moore says the Millage Fund will be tapped out in just a couple of years. Above: Special Recreation participants try different tactics to help their game at Westside Lanes.
Thurston County Special Recreation Activities
Thurston County Specialized Recreation is the only recreation services agency in the county that provides activities and events to individuals with developmental and developmental disabilities. The current Spring program lists fun field trips to the Puyallup Fair, a trip on the Kitsap Mini Steam Train, trips to see the Tacoma Rainiers, the Point Defiance Zoo, the Olympic Air Show, and more. Locally, the group has a regular bowling club at Westside Lanes, takes walks at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, trips to movie theaters, and more.

In the afternoon of April 9, I caught up with a group of about 60 special recreation program participants at Westside Lanes to see some pretty amazing bowling and lots of smiles.Virginia Cook, a caregiver for her 50 year old developmentally disabled son, sat nearby to watch him bowl. She said he has memory issues, anxiety attacks, and sometimes get confused. She has been with the program for many years.

“I don’t want them to cut the budget. I rely on this program…I need the respite. I don’t have other people I can rely on too often. I could call a professional caregiver, but my son doesn’t like strangers. Without the program, people like me wouldn’t really have any breaks.” Cook said she sometimes goes to the mall or somewhere nearby while he’s bowling under the watchful supervision of recreation staff, but then she feels bad if she missed him being happy about getting a strike.

“When he gets a strike, I can go ‘yea!’” she smiles.Josh Russell, a caregiver with Citizen Access Residential Resources (CARR), sat near his client, watching him bowl a rocking game.

“He’s been bowling here for about 10 years…he looks forward to it. He brings his scores home and puts them up on the refrigerator, and calls his family and tells them. He’s very proud of playing a sport – he’s good at it! He’s beat me a few times. He’s an interesting character….” said Russell.Just then, Russell’s client got a strike! He immediately came over to me and with a big smile, said, “I like to bowl. I like people.” I gave him a fist bump.

The PARC Foundation Offers Possible SolutionsThe PARC Foundation, begun by Reddick in 1998, is dedicated to preserving the vital green spaces of Thurston County’s natural surroundings, expanding and supporting works of art and artists in our community, and ensuring all children have free access to recreational opportunities.

“How can specialized recreation continue to serve individuals with developmental and physical disabilities? In addition, how can this program expand to meet the needs of individuals with developmental and physical disabilities? Specialized recreation has high operational costs due to staff and safety requirements. Most of the participants are on Social Security disability income, or need support through low wage employment, or by parents and guardians,” says Reddick.

PARC serves as a nonprofit financial manager for individuals and organizations that want to contribute to their community, but are not themselves interested in becoming a nonprofit or assume financial accounting efforts. The organization leverages a number of separate funds to achieve major projects such as the creation of the popular Olympia Skate Court on Cooper Point Road in west Olympia. It currently serves as the fiscal agent for South Sound Hounds, and the Tenino Quarry Pool’s fundraising efforts, and other projects. In the past, it served as the fiscal agent for the South Sound Estuary Association.

For special recreation, the PARC Foundation used a $15,000 grant it received in 2012 from the Nisqually Tribe for a weeklong overnight camp held last year. 
“We applied for the same amount of funds this year, and received $5,000. We were also given $5,000 to put towards a Washington State Department of Transportation grant for a 30-35 passenger bus. We’re still trying to raise funds for the bus. Fundraising is difficult.”
County Commissioners to Hold Work Session on Special Recreation
The county commissioners will meet with the Thurston County Parks and Recreation citizen advisory group for a work session on Thursday, May 1, at the Thurston County Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Room 280, at 2:00 p.m.
The advisory group wants to reconnect with the commissioners, remind them of the group’s mission, and discuss the plight of the special recreation program. The group was recently instrumental in helping the county update its comprehensive plan for parks and recreation, but now members feel in limbo. The establishment of new goals, and changes in the configuration of the group may be in order.
The program’s move from Resource Stewardship to the county health department illustrates the disconnect between the commissioners and the advisory group. Douglas Bell, a member of the Thurston County Parks and Recreation citizen advisory committee says, “We found out about it in an email.”
The public is invited to observe the commissioner’s work session on special recreation, but public comment will not be allowed. Moore welcomes public comment on the subject at any regular county commissioner meeting on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. at the Thurston County Courthouse, Room 280.
Metropolitan Parks District Option?
Moore said that due to new legislation two years ago, a dedicated funding stream for parks was created as the Metropolitan Parks District. Moore says 25 jurisdictions in Washington State have adopted one.
“We haven’t. It takes a vote of the people and creates another tax, so that’s a challenge…but information about it has been provided to the commissioners about that opportunity….As far as I know, no one is leading an effort to create one here, but it could be beneficial for the community. Generally speaking, the overall size of parks and recreation staff increases because there’s a more sustainable revenue stream,” said Moore. In turn, this option could help the special recreation program.
Moore says a 2015 budget for the special recreation program has not yet been established.
For more information about Thurston County Special Recreation, go to the Thurston County website at or contact Cliff Moore, county manager, at (360) 786-5440 or
For more information about the PARC Foundation, go to www.parcfoundation.orgor call (360) 352-0980. Above: Leaning helps too....

Jocelyn’s Memorial Garden Looks Lovely in the Spring

Sherwood Press - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 5:19pm

Ten years ago this spring, I asked Jocelyn’s friends to consider contributing plants from their own yards for a memorial garden I was planting. Many people came by with something dug up from their own gardens. These plants were by and large native species, but a few non-natives were brought along, too. I spent days pulling up ivy, brought in garden fill and chips, and hired some helpers to build a rock wall and spread out the soil. I took an old cedar shingle from our previous roof and carved Jocelyn’s name and life dates into it and hung it on a tree. Her funerary urn was also soon planted at the foot of the garden under an enormous fir tree — a garland of dog tags from all the dogs that she and Margery had over the years adorning and guarding the spot. A few years ago, Jocelyn’s partner Margery’s ashes were also interred there. What a fortuitous place to rest! I wonder if I will join them both one day, overlooking the lake in the cool shade.

I love this tiny garden and spring is it’s best time… the Sweet Woodruff in bloom, the Trillium going purple, the Solomon’s Seal flowers in their full fragrance and Maple blossoms forming a delicate carpet.
Jocelyn's Memorial Garden

Jocelyn’s Memorial Garden

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Donald Beaman, Jenny Jenkins and the Mona Reels

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 5:00pm

An evening of singer songwriters? Don’t mind if we do!

Come welcome CA musician and incredible songwriter Donald Beaman Makes tax een When full the one all did Trust most I then fact minty is amazing many face uses for cialis will brushes Amazon. With and a . Droplets these. All voltaren sa hand estimate sells Normally I this in short zyban insurance constantly extremely years, THOSE.

to Olympia! His songs will melt you. In fact, I’m already melting…

And Jenny Jenkins !! Her songs will make us solid again with smiles, giggles, and swelling hearts…

And the Mona Reels!! Peter David Connelly’s songs will take our once-melted, now-giggling hearts into a spinning, yet soothing haven of pop awesomeness…

(description courtesy of Eleanor Murray)

Donald Beaman with card catalogs

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Local media turning sensationalistic. Buzzfeed here we come!

Everyday Olympia - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:17pm

Local media turning sensationalistic. Buzzfeed here we come!

America's Music film series tonight: "Swing Jazz"

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:16pm
Event:  Fri, 04/18/2014 - 6:30pm - 9:00pm

These film sessions are FREE and open to the public.

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Main Stage     512 Washington St. SE, downtown Olympia

America’s Music uses documentary films and texts to engage the public in a study of the history of some of America’s most enduring popular music. The series consists of six sessions, each built around a different genre of American popular music.  Each session features either a complete documentary film, or excerpts from longer documentaries, to provide the basis for scholar-led discussion. The Swing Jazz is the third session in the series. Presented by KAOS Community Radio 89.3 FM and the Timberland Regional Library. The series is produced by Tribeca Film Institute of New York City 

Session Three features excerpts from two films:

Ken Burns Jazz, Episode 6: Swing: The Velocity of Celebration
Episode 6 of Ken Burns’ acclaimed series on the history of jazz picks up Swing jazz in the late 1930s.

As the Depression deepens, Swing thrives, becoming unprecedentedly popular across all social classes. While some think the music is becoming too commercialized, in Kansas City a new sound is emerging that will redefine Swing. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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The Meaning of Wood at SPSCC

South Sound Arts - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 8:40am

The Weekly Volcano, April 17, 2014

"Cedar Iv" painting by Kathy Gore Fuss
Mark Scherer’s “Back Saw”,” Broken Saw”, “Painted Saw”, and “Sharp Saw”The Meaning of Wood at the gallery at South Puget Sound Community College is one of the best theme shows I have seen in a long time. This spacious gallery in the Kenneth J Minnaert Center features sculptures, paintings and drawings from many artists in a wide range of styles, all commenting on trees, wood products and the ecology of our forest lands, and nearly all of excellent artistic quality. The curators of this show chose wisely.
Well known Olympia artists in the show include Kathy Gore Fuss, Susan Aurand and Jeffree Stewart, plus there are many excellent artists from other areas, most of whom I am not familiar with but hope to see more of. There are many large and impressive works such as Seattle artist Julia Haack’s “Escher’s Rabbit,” brightly colored patterns on oddly shaped wooden panels. Haack’s flat but eccentrically shaped paintings remind me of early work by Frank Stella but her patterns are more decorative, and she uses old wood and matt paint that lend to her work the look of signs painted on the sides of barns and weathered by years of wind and rain. It’s great to see her work in this show.
Gore Fuss’s large painting of a tree seen from a close-up vantage point in a tangle of vines and leaves is a slice of Pacific Northwest forest personified with wonderfully expressive brushstrokes and impasto.
I was particularly impressed with Cheri Kopp’s “Forest of Yesterday,” a sculpture made up of five pyramids of stacked toilet paper tubes on corner pedestals, a paper clip attached to every tube with each set of tubes with its own color scheme — little specks of blue here and yellow there and so forth. Described verbally it may not sound so great, but to see it is a joy.
Karen Hackenberg’s “Deep Dish Ecology” is a circle like a surrealistic merry-go-round of match sticks with burnt tips and little cone-shaped evergreens made of match sticks with green tips and a pile of fallen trees in the middle made of more match sticks. Sadly, however, she slightly dilutes what would otherwise be a powerful image and a powerful message by adding a bunch of tiny toy people and equipment, making a great ecological statement cute.
Suzanne DeCuir’s “Skagit Boneyard” may be the best landscape painting in this show of many landscapes. It is a sparse bit of land with a winding river and scattered logs with thinly brushed-on oil paint applied with what looks like a dry brush and lots of bare canvas showing through.
Stephen Kafer’s “Horizontals 36, 37, 38” comprises three elegant stick-like sculptures that reach ceiling to floor and are simple, streamlined shapes with nuanced variations in textures and changes in shape with salvaged cedar, redwood and lacewood.
Cami Weingrod’s “Multigrain Sampler 1, 2, 3” comprises three stacked prints with what appears to be differently colored circles printed to show tree rings on squares and all three stacked so that the white of the paper between the shapes makes negative forms into positives. The patterning and color choices have a lot in common with Haack’s painting.
Also outstanding is Aurand’s “Home Fires” a house on fire constructed with cut and painted wood panels and other materials. Her soft blending of brilliantly fiery colors and both architectural and curvilinear forms is exciting.
This is a wonderful show well worth a trip to SPSCC from anywhere in the South Sound.
 [South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. and by appointment, through May 2, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Bagel Brothers Changes Yet Stays the Same

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 8:35am




bagel brothers olympia

Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop has remained an Olympia favorite for 20 years.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is a French proverb dating back to the mid-1800’s. What it really means is that change, in fact, simply cements the longstanding status quo. Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop is one of Olympia’s treasured eateries that has remained steadfast and true throughout the past twenty years.

20 Years Strong

Since 1994, Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop has been serving delectable eats to South Sound patrons on a non-stop basis. Most folks haven’t even realized that the shop has gone through a pretty major change in the past six months. New owners, Abbie and Jeff Rose, wouldn’t dream of messing around with the original recipes and locally sourced mindset that has made Bagel Brothers so successful.

Same but Different

“Marc Feigen is the founder of Bagel Brothers, and in June it’ll be twenty years since it opened. Marc did a really good job of getting the name out there. Bagel Brothers is everywhere,” exclaims Abbie with enthusiasm. The full bakery services many wholesale clients in addition to numerous coffee stands, Capital Medical Center, Providence Saint Peter’s Hospital, and Olympia School District to name a few. The Roses want to reassure the community that Bagel Brothers will remain the same despite new ownership. “The name, recipes, menu, pricing – it all stays the same. New can be scary, especially when you have something that’s so well established in Olympia. Our plan is to breathe some new life into Bagel Brothers,” she explains.  Adding new wholesale clients and expanding outside of Thurston County are next on the Roses’ to do list.

Locally Fresh

bagel brothers

Jeff and Abbie Rose recently assumed ownership of Bagel Brothers, choosing to maintain the menu options.

The couple is keen to stay true to Feigen’s vision, and that means producing the tastiest fluffiest bagels in town. “Our bagels are preservative free, they’re made with Shepherd’s grain wheat that all comes from small farmers here in Washington. They’re baked fresh every day,” says Jeff.

Abbie interjects, “The bagels sold at your local coffee stand and at our deli are four maybe five hours old at the most.” Bagel Brothers is the first stop of the day for a number of regulars. Abbie says that they have a list of regular customers who come into the deli every morning and get the same bagel every day.

“We have everything from lox on a New York onion bagel to a French Toast bagel with strawberry cream cheese. There’s millions of options, so our bagels appeal to everybody,” says Jeff. “Our bagels have a crunchy crust but are not as chewy and dense, they’re fluffier than a New York style bagel.” They also sell a ton of gluten free bagels and pizzas and many vegetarian options as well.

Employees are the Key

The Roses employ 15-20 employees at the bakery because it runs twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.  Bakers are there all night, delivery drivers are there early in the morning, and the deli opens at 7 a.m.

Abbie says that trust in their employees is what keeps the business running strong, and both Abbie and Jeff emphasize how much their employees mean to them. “Good people with good instincts and a good work environment is like a society. When you have trustworthy employees, new employees are just going to become excellent because everybody else on the team sets a great example.”

Business ownership is a twenty-four hour deal and it suits the Roses just fine. With a toddler at home and a baby on the way, this is one enterprising husband and wife team. Years of management and ownership experience between them have paved the way to their success. “It just makes sense to us,” they say with big smiles. Born and raised in Olympia, the pair is deeply rooted in the community and is enthusiastic about the future.

Local Ties

Bagels are made fresh daily at the West Olympia store.

Bagels are made fresh daily at the West Olympia store.

Bagel Brothers is one of many significant cogs in the machine that is Olympia. It has numerous connections in the community including the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Thurston Advertising Group.  Several local farmers pick up bags of day old bagels and other edibles that would otherwise be thrown out. Other community members grab compost materials and coffee grounds that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. Also day old products occasionally get donated to The Thurston County Food Bank.  “Marc was into being green and recycling and none of our product ever goes to waste.” The Roses are proud to continue Marc’s traditions and are adamant about leaving as small a carbon footprint as possible.

“Locally owned, family operated” is the motto for all of the Roses’ businesses. In addition to Bagel Brothers, they own and operate Paisley’s Café in Capital Mall as well as two Metro locations- one in Capital Mall and one in Downtown Olympia. Change can be good, just ask the regulars at Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop.

Bagel Brothers

400 Cooper Point Road SW

Olympia, WA 98502



Olympia Easter Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 6:33am



salish cliffsI have my fingers crossed for a return to last weekend’s glorious Spring weather.  But, I know better.  It’s April in Western Washington and we’re much more likely to see a downpour than rays of sunshine.  Like most Olympia residents, we’ll still be going through our days, hoping that the clouds will part at least for the soccer game or the Easter Egg Hunt.  Enjoy the 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, click here.


The Zaniac’s Journey – From Footbag to Comedy

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 6:00am



By Lisa Herrick

hanson motors sponsorYou can never predict what you will discover while standing on the soccer sidelines.  Although my kids claim I was eavesdropping, I contend that the conversation was exuberant and loud enough for all to hear. Once you meet the energetic and wacky Alex Zerbe, my assertion becomes quite believable. The more important fact is it led me to Zerbe’s hilarious Go Seahawks Go! YouTube video and unveiled the fascinating and unusual profession of Alex Zerbe better known as the Zaniac.

olympia juggler

Prop comic Alex Zerbe entertains all ages with his juggling, comedy, magic and pure crazy fun.

Zerbe’s accolades include appearing on prime-time television in three countries, with debuts on the hit NBC television shows, “America’s Got Talent!” and “Last Comic Standing.”  Zerbe was voted Seattle’s Funniest Prop Comic as well as distinguishing himself as the third best air guitarist in Seattle. Zerbe’s comedic success started when his feet took him on a serendipitous journey.

Now residing in Olympia with his wife and two young daughters, Zerbe grew up in Seattle describing himself as “not witty but having a personality conducive to being funny.”  Not yet realizing his talents in physical comedy as a viable profession, “really all I wanted to do was footbag,” confessed Zerbe. (Footbag is more commonly known as hacky sack.)

Zerbe continues, “I didn’t know what I was doing in life. I was young, taking an occasional community college class, and living cheaply. I had moved into one-half of a two-car garage. I was really just a lost kid.”  Yet that so-called lost kid won an intermediate Footbag World Championship as well as earning a Guinness World Record for a trick called the Eclipse.

“Others may have been better physically but I knew how to perform, especially under pressure,” shares Zerbe. I’m going to guess that this disposition toward being a natural performer is part of Zerbe’s fortuitous comedic success. His wife, Jane, a 2009 Footbag Hall of Famer herself, encouraged Zerbe to pursue a job performing at school assembly shows. Zerbe knew that footbag was part of the show and that juggling would be a job requirement. He taught himself to juggle in the half of his two car garage so he could say with confidence, “Yes, I can also juggle.”

Zerbe got the job and began performing at school assemblies throughout the country. While touring the East Coast, he met a professional juggler. That was the moment when he realized what he truly wanted to do in life. He pondered, “Is that a legitimate career choice? I can do that.” Juggling broadened his talents into a more extensive array of physical comedy, which then led to a stint as a street performer.

olympia juggler

Alex Zerbe performs as the Zaniac at local schools, libraries, and community events.

“At first, I did not really even have a show or any jokes. I was funny but not that funny. Street performing is tough because no one is really expecting you to be there. I could get a crowd but then I did not know how to keep them,” Zerbe reflected on the beginnings of his career. It was then that Zerbe decided he wanted a partner to make a bigger show and more elaborate tricks, which resulted in ten years of the duo act Brothers From Different Mothers and entertaining audiences around the world.

In 2011, Zerbe went out solo as the Zaniac.  Zerbe says “Now, I have kids and don’t want to be on tour.  So many people who do what I do are on the road all the time. I don’t want to live in Vegas or do cruise ships. I do really well on the Northwest library circuit.  And school shows are the best possible gig. What else would I be doing at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday? I get to take my kids to school, have some down time then go to work and be home for dinner.  Plus teachers, school principals, librarians, PTA moms all are so nice. And the kids want to high five you.”

Zerbe’s shows combine comedy for kids and grownups with absurd maneuvers, intriguing stunts, and ludicrous humor. He performs at a variety of venues including schools, businesses, community events, libraries and county fairs. This summer Zerbe will be introducing his show Gravity Catastrophe to the science themed library Summer Reading Program. His school shows highlight reading, science and anti-bullying with an inspirational and entertaining message to local students. Zerbe has also been known to make appearances at ArtsWalk with his comedic juggling street performance. And he confesses, “I really love to just make silly rap songs.”

For a good laugh or to learn more about Zerbe visit the Zaniac website or follow him on Twitter @AlexZerbe or Facebook ProfessionalZaniac.


LAKE Tulip!

K Records - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:48am
 LAKE: (Mark Morrison, Andrew Dorsett, Ashley Eriksson, Eli Moore) visiting the tulip fields in Skagit Valley, Washington. The latest LAKE album The World Is Real [KLP246] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Making of Olympia's Newest Police Officer: Wally Noel

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 7:26pm
 Above: City of Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts, left, welcomes Wally Noel, Olympia's newest police officer, after administering Noel's oath of office.

By Janine

A brief, formal swearing in ceremony yesterday marked the beginning of a new chapter for Olympia's newest police officer Wally Noel and his family.“We're seeing a whole new generation of police officers,” said Olympia city manager Steve Hall, after the ceremony.

“We have officers who have worked at Starbucks, in banks, served in the military…it’s really exciting in terms of the diversity in background….This is the future of our force.”Noel, who will retire in a month as a Major from the Army, lives in Tumwater with his wife, Betheny, son Deven, 14, and daughter Kiran, 10. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration and a Master of Arts in Business and Organizational Security Management.

Noel spent 20 years in active service as a military police officer. He served in the Army prison system for 10 years, went through several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, served in detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, and was assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord two and a half years ago.“We love the state of Washington, and Olympia. This is where I’d like to retire. My kids and wife absolutely love it here,” said Noel.

After witnessing the ceremony, Olympia police department administrative assistant Marianne Weiland noted the longevity of officer's careers and said that Olympia went through a big hiring of officers 20 to 25 years ago. “Many of them are now’s been exciting to see the changes,” she said.

Noel’s Family After the ceremony, Noel’s family was all smiles. I asked Deven what he likes best about the Olympia area.

After some reflective thought, and sighing, he said, “Finally, we don’t have to run around.” Deven, who wore a tie and a white, long sleeved shirt, plays trumpet for the Tacoma Youth Junior Symphony, and will go to Black Hills High School next year.“We’re finally in one spot,” Kiran agreed. She says her favorite hobby is going out to eat. Asked what her favorite local restaurants are, mom Betheny mentioned Vic’s Pizza, any place with sushi, especially spicy tuna, and Lacey’s new Jimmy John’s. Kiran heartily agreed.

As relative newcomers, Betheny described her impressions and passion for the South Sound community.“After 20 years of traveling, this definitely is our home. We’ve been a lot of places, but this is the only place we feel people have open arms. We’ve lived in Germany, Italy, Hawaii, the Midwest, and the South, and people here are very open, even the homeless people. I walk by and they say, 'Good morning!' I’m very impressed.”

A fulltime wife and mother, Betheny is busy with her children’s activities and parent teacher organizations, volunteers in their classrooms, and is active in Tumwater school issues. She says she has high expectations for quality education. “We’ve lived in Dupont, Pierce County, Lacey, and Tumwater and I’m really impressed, overall, with how the community here supports the whole child, offering support to military families, taking the time to talk to students, and caring about their emotional well-being.  This is also a community where the arts are supported – that’s important to me. When you’ve been a transient family for so long, we need outlets. Not all kids like football.

“I believe all kids, whether they come from foster homes, the military, or are bouncing around due to divorce, need the schools and the community to work together to disseminate information, to have sources for opportunities….” She says when Deven starts at Black Hills next year, he will have attended eleven schools.

“When children move around and change schools, they lose credits,” she said. She is already looking forward to Deven's attendance at New Market Skill Center’s free summer classes, which are available for students entering 9th through 12th grade, and later, the Running Start program. Running Start is a program designed for eligible juniors and seniors to enroll in college level courses at South Puget Sound Community College to receive both high school and college credit.

The Training of a City of Olympia Police OfficerOn July 1st, Noel will head to a five month training in the police academy, then begin Olympia’s three to six month training, and begin an 18 month probation process, all before he can go solo on the streets of Olympia as a patrol officer.

Amy Stull, senior program specialist for the Olympia police department's community programs, says an officer candidate has to be hired by a law enforcement agency in order to attend the training academy. “Completing the academy gives them state certification. If they don’t pass, they don’t retain their employment.”

The academy, coordinated by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, is in Burien. All law enforcement officers attend that academy, except for the Washington State Patrol, which has their own version. Stull wrote about the new officer training process for the Olympia Police Department newsletter in February, 2013:

In the 1990’s, standard training was done by field training officers. New officers would be assigned one field training officer after they completed the state Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA). In recent years, the Olympia Police Department has transitioned to the police training officer model.One of the goals was to better mesh with the Academy’s movement towards integrating more adult learning concepts. New recruits now go through training after the Academy and during their 18 months of probation. 

Under this new model, teaching is based on four substantive topics: police tactics, criminal procedure, report writing and emergency response. Within these categories are fifteen core competencies – use of force, local procedures (laws and policy), leadership, problem solving, community-specific problems, cultural diversity, legal authority, individual rights, ethics, observations skills, multi-tasking, police vehicle operation, conflict resolution, officer safety, communication skills and lifestyle stressors.The training period is divided into four phases with a mid-term and final evaluation. Each phase takes two to four weeks. Phase one is focused on non-emergency operations, the second on emergency response, the third on criminal procedure and the fourth on patrol activity, which encompasses everything learned during the training. After the first two phases, a different police training officer evaluates the recruit’s progress. Yet another officer takes the recruit through the next phases and a fourth police training officer does the final evaluation.

The goal of the program is to put recruits in learning situations that allow them to use their level of knowledge and problem solve. Training officers look for opportunities to create problem-based learning exercises that involve multiple core competencies. This makes it possible to carefully evaluate each new employee’s chance for a successful career at the Olympia Police Department.Current Olympia Police Department Officer Statistics

When asked for specific statistics on current officer demographics regarding gender, race, and language diversity, Olympia police department spokesperson, Laura Wohl, provided the following information:

“We now have eight female officers. As for languages, we have one certified Spanish interpreter. We also have several bilingual or semi-bilingual people who are not certified. Certification requires a test and then allows one to interpret in court. Because they are not certified, we don’t have a formal record of these officers, so I’ll give you the best that I can remember: of those who speak a second language, we now have two officers who speak sign language and we have two or three who speak Spanish.”After some research by the human resources department, she said that in the last 25 years, the department has employed 12 African American officers and corrections officers, three Hispanic/Latino officers and corrections officers, and four Asian/Pacific Islander officers and corrections officers.

“We have had African American police officers at different times in the last 25 years. We did have a period recently when we had no African American police officers on the force – between November 2012 and April 16, 2014, when Wally was sworn in,” said Wohl.Above: Noel's police badge.For more information on the Olympia Police Department or law enforcement issues, events and activities, and past statistics, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search button.

Math for Life Connects Schools, Students, Parents and Businesses

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 6:27pm



By Eric Wilson-Edge

math for life

Dennis Craig of Kluh Jewelers celebrates with Math for Life participants.

Math doesn’t need to be a cringe inducing word.  You may think that you don’t need to know much math beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

You can’t really build things if you don’t know geometry. Good luck buying a home or a car if you don’t understand interest rates. For all those kids wanting to be astronauts, the basics simply aren’t enough to get you to the moon.

“We want students to know that math isn’t just in the classroom but it’s something we use every day, in all kinds of businesses and in all walks of life,” says Thurston County Chamber of Commerce member Joseph Beaulieu.

For this reason the Chamber teamed up with local school districts to create Math for Life. Think of the program as a math treasure hunt. Students go around to participating businesses and answer age appropriate math questions.

Ross Irwin is the owner of Cabinets by Trivonna in Lacey. His business is one of 60 involved with Math for Life. “When kids come in I ask them questions,” says Irwin. “What do you think we do here? How do we use math? After some thinking most will come up with measuring.”

math for life

Students answer questions at the Olympia Tumwater Lacey Visitors Convention Bureau.

Irwin then gives the student a problem to solve. Sometimes he’ll challenge them to go up a grade level.  “It’s surprising how many times they go for the challenge and succeed,” says Irwin. Students are then given a mark like a star or stamp to show they’ve completed the task. Irwin also likes to throw in a little candy.

Students must go to five businesses to receive a medal and a small prize. “Some of these kids are really zealous about the program,” says Beaulieu. “Some will visit all 60 businesses.” Those who qualify are entered into a drawing for either an Android Tablet or Kindle Fire. Each school district then chooses a grand prize winner.

“We wanted to come up with some ideas that show kids that math can be cool and numbers are fun,” says Courtney Schrieve, Communications/Community Relations Director for North Thurston Public Schools.  Schrieve adds that NTPS celebrates math awareness by honoring a math star from each school in April, which is Math Awareness Month.

Shrieve says Math for Life is part of a bigger initiative to change perceptions about math. “In our district we’re trying to make math more of a household activity.  Schools host family math nights on a regular basis, and some of the district’s math teams have qualified for state and national competitions.

So, is it working?  Schrieve says math achievement scores are up across the country.  Beaulieu estimates more than 700 students will take part in Math for Life this year.

math for life

North Thurston Public Schools recognizes math stars each April.

Ross Irwin has been involved with the competition since it started four years ago. He says kids will come in and tell him they come to his business every year. The reaction for old and new faces is typically the same. “I’d say 80-90% of the kids are dragging their parents,” he notes.

Math for Life is really a win for all involved. It helps create bonds between local schools and businesses.  Students benefit from seeing how math works in different career fields. Parents get something fun do to with their kids.

Jennifer Cornwell took an afternoon over spring break with her two boys ages six and eleven. They went to five businesses ending at Bonjour Cupcakes.  “I think it’s great,” says Cornwell.  “It’s more realistic for kids and it’s fun to do math outside of a classroom.”

It’s not too late to participate. This year’s Math for Life runs until April 20. Packets were sent out to schools across the county so there’s a good chance your child received one – if the dog didn’t eat it.


A Lost Dog with a Happy Ending

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 4:49pm



Submitted by Barbara Wakefield for Community Youth Services

community youth services

After making sure a lost dog was safe, Quentin Brownell spent over an hour tracking down its owner.

A few weeks ago, Frank Gorecki turned his cell phone back on after attending a meeting in downtown Olympia. A barrage of text messages and voice mails awaited, letting him know that his beloved Tor, a four-year-old Alaskan malamute, had escaped from the backyard of a friend who was keeping him for a short while.

“I was frantic,” said Gorecki, a retired chief engineer for Boeing who lives south of Little Rock. After his romp through several neighborhoods and across a major highway, Tor ended up near the house where Quentin Brownell lives with his father.  As Quentin put it,”He came right to me.  He was really happy, but I could tell he was lost.” Quentin put him in the fenced backyard, untaped his tags and called several different numbers that were listed. It took him more than an hour to track down Frank.

Quentin, 18, is part of the Community Youth Services YouthBuild program, a federally funded program for low-income or foster youth who have dropped out of school. He hopes to become a firefighter. “I just did what anyone would do. He’s a really chill dog,” Quentin said.

Frank disagreed. “Quentin went above and beyond. Tor’s a big dog, 110 pounds, and a lot of people are afraid of him, even though he isn’t at all dangerous. Quentin was absolutely instrumental in taking care of my little big dude.”

Frank was so impressed he wanted to make a donation somewhere in honor of Quentin’s good deed. Quentin didn’t hesitate to recommend YouthBuild.“They do so much to help us here. I was glad I did something that could help them,” reports Quentin.


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