Recent local blog posts

Olympia Wedding and Event Venue In Question

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 9:14pm

Above: Grande Terrace at Capitol Lake on Deschutes Parkway is requesting a conditional use permit from the City of Olympia for the rental of a residence for wedding and social events. The business has been operating under temporary use permits for two years while violating the terms of those agreements.
By Janine Unsoeldwww.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comThe owner of Grande Terrace at Capitol Lake, an event and wedding business located at 915 and 1007 Deschutes Parkway SW, is requesting a conditional use permit (CUP) from the City of Olympia for the rental of a residence for wedding and social events. The venue, which has a view of Capitol Lake and the Capitol Dome, currently does not have a permit to operate but has contractual commitments for future events. On Wednesday morning, city staff denied the conditional use permit at a site review planning committee meeting held at city hall. Based on staff’s analysis of the land use and building codes, the proposed use is commercial in nature and is not allowed. The property is zoned single family residential 4 – 8, meaning four to eight residences can be built per acre. The case is being referred to the city’s hearing examiner, who is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the situation on Monday, May 11, 2015, 6:30 p.m. in the Olympia City Council Chambers, 601 4th Avenue East, Olympia. A March 18 application submitted to the city by Bart Zier states that a permanent, unheated 3,300 square foot covered porch would be attached to the residences, and that the venue would host between 20 -30 events per year. Although the business website states that the venue accommodates events between 30 – 225 people, the application states that the maximum capacity for the venue will be 150 people. The area is on a septic system and wells meant for single family dwellings and there is only one fire hydrant nearby on Deschutes Parkway to serve those residences.  According to the application, three portable toilets would be brought in to serve guests. City staff noted these limitations, among other factors, in its report.The city is prepared to defend its position with a lengthy list of recommended conditions if the hearing examiner approves the permit. The case file is thick with maps and letters from state agencies such the state Department of Enterprise Services, the regional LOTT Clean Water Alliance and interested citizens who have already submitted comments on the case expressing concerns and questions about the business regarding the environment, access, public health and safety, parking, traffic impact, sea-level rise and stormwater management issues. In what has become a fast-moving story, Zier revised the application on March 24 to reduce the size of the porch to 2,800 square feet in order to avoid a review by the city’s Design Review Board. Zier has previously submitted a variety of applications in an attempt to maneuver around the city’s zoning, home based business, residential, and commercial regulations.A series of 2014 spring and summertime correspondence between the city and the applicant detail multiple code violations and incomplete applications for a conditional use permit. Shoreline issues are also of concern. The area where a temporary tent is usually located and related operations may fall within the 200’ shoreline jurisdiction of Capitol Lake, and subject to the Conservancyregulations for commercial uses in the Thurston Region Shoreline Master Program. LOTT owns and operates a pump station on property adjacent to the Grande Terrace business. Their letter expresses concern about access to the pump and other issues. The State of Washington owns property west of Deschutes Parkway up to the railroad corridor that is owned by the Burlington Northern Railroad.  According to a letter submitted by the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services last summer, pedestrian access improvements were constructed over and upon both the Burlington Northern property as well as the state property to access the business. Because these improvements blocked the railroad and were not permitted, the owners were advised to remove the improvements, which they did.A large, white tent structure with partitioned plastic windows can usually be seen from Deschutes Parkway. The tent is heated with stainless steel outdoor patio propane heaters for events. Earlier this week, the tent was seen being dismantled. When asked about this by Little Hollywood before the Wednesday meeting, Zier said the tent was being removed for “cleaning and restructuring.”Parking is extremely limited, with event patrons parking along Deschutes Parkway, or at nearby Marathon Park. Patrons must cross Deschutes Parkway and the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks, without a crosswalk, to access the venue. According to Michelle Bentley, the city’s urban forester, the property has also been cleared of trees without permits. The property may also contain a wetland that has been filled and graded without permits. Standing water could be seen earlier this week near the railroad tracks. City staff member Eric Christiansen says a fish bearing stream crosses the property and may be a critical area. “Our code has a provision that “grandfathers” disturbed areas within critical areas/buffers; however, any new improvements would trigger critical area review,” he said in an email. A stream on the property has also been mapped by the state Department of Natural Resources.Above: A stream, seen here in December 2014, is located on the Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake property. Truckloads of fill and gravel were witnessed being brought onsite by neighbors in the last two to three years and nearby, uphill residents on South Rogers and South Percival have complained about noise from the venue. Neighbors say that they assumed it was a permitted operation and allowed by the city.  Above: Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake features a view of the Capitol Dome. For weddings and events, chairs are set up on the lawn for viewing wedding ceremonies. Business Is a Repeat Code Violation OffenderThe applicant is Bart Zier, who lists his address as 915 Deschutes Parkway SW. His mother, Donna Zier of Lacey, is listed as the property owner. The address listed is not Mr. Zier's home – it is the business, and contains a bar, catering kitchen, restrooms, and changing rooms for the bride and groom.The business has been operating for two years under temporary permits. At one point, on August 3, 2014, the city issued a stop work order to Mr. Zeir for construction activities taking place without permits. The city informed Zier that he must obtain necessary permits and land use approvals, including temporary use permits, conditional use permits, and building and fire code permits.Up to six events are allowed per year under a temporary use permit. According to the city, Zier held an initial event without a permit, received temporary permits for six events, then held two more events without a permit. In addition, Zeir did not follow several rules within the temporary use permit. In an August 2014 letter written by city lead planner Cari Hornbein, the city informed Zier that given the scale of the operation, the city considers it to be a commercial use which is not allowed in a residential zone district even with the conditional use permit. The city informed him that his options moving forward include scaling back the operation and using the house for events, or seeking a rezone and comprehensive plan amendment to allow commercial use of the property.Property History Local attorney Trena Worthington owned the stately brick home and two other adjacent parcels. When she died, her long-time friend Dorothy Wack became the executor of her estate. In documents, Mrs. Worthington stated that her home, built in 1975, was never to be used for commercial uses. In January 2004, Wack sold the house to Dr. Angela Bowen for about $1.2 million. Dr. Bowen, in turn, sold the house and another parcel in September of that same year to Donna Zier as well as another residence, a two story, four bedroom home built in 1940, located at 1007 Deschutes Parkway.Zier also owns the Grande Holiday Ballroom on 4thAvenue, another wedding and event venue, which used to be the old Salvation Army.Wack has diligently worked to adhere to Mrs. Worthington’s wishes and has written letters to the city for at least a year and a half, expressing concern about the business operation, and in fact, hired legal representation to stop the business from using the Worthington name as its business name. In her letter dated April 15 to the city, Wack lays out a wide range of municipal, state, and federal law violations the business has committed and expresses concerns regarding public health and safety. According to Wack, as of April 15, Zier does not have the permission of the Burlington Northern Railroad for people to cross the railroad to access his business. She also cites noise and light pollution, and parking violations.“It is disturbing to know that the Ziers developed a wedding and event site without first getting the proper permits from the City of Olympia, State of Washington, or Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. One would assume that the Olympia Municipal Code Manual, Olympia Comprehensive Plan, State Environmental Policy Act, Washington State RCWs and WACs are written to provide some sort of order and structure for living within the confines of our fine city. That being the case, I question how the Ziers can obtain a conditional use permit while violating so many sections of these governing instruments….” Wack wrote.Two other neighbors, Bryan and Jeanne Sandeno, who have lived since 1991 on Terrace Lane SW in the historic Highmiller Home, are directly impacted by the business. Subjected to frequent noise pollution, the Sandeno’s have made code violation reports to the city, and will be testifying against the business’s continued operation.“Looking at the requests stated in the application, in light of what we now know about the discovered code infractions at the site…a [Conditional Use Permit] CUP should not be granted. The character of this business is definitely not in keeping with the neighborhood…and as we know a business of this type does not belong in a residentially zoned area….” state the Sandeno's in their letter to the city.Anyone interested in this case is invited to attend and present testimony regarding this business. Written statements may be submitted to the Olympia Community Planning and Development Department, PO Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507-1967. Refer to Case Number # 14-0053. Written comments must be received at or prior to the public hearing on May 11th. For more information, contact Cari Hornbein, City of Olympia lead planner at (360) 753-8048 or    Above: Standing water, indicating a possible wetland, by the Burlington Northern railroad track along Deschutes Parkway on April 21, 2015. 

Panorama Hosts a Patient Education Program for Parkinson’s Awareness

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 4:00pm



By Lisa Herrick


Sara Wasser, Corrine Wasmundt, and Adele Hadley make up the Independent Living Services Team at Panorama. They provide a concierge style of service to residents including organizing support groups such as Living with Parkinson’s Disease.

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder following Alzheimer’s. It is a progressive disorder affecting approximately one million people in the United States.

In recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Panorama is inviting the community to attend a patient education program at Panorama Continuing Care Retirement Community on Wednesday, April 29. Panorama will be hosting guest speaker Dr. Pinky Agarwal from the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Care Center and she will present Parkinson’s Disease: Medication and Non-Medication Options.

Panorama offers a support group to its residents who are battling Parkinson’s or for those who have been affected by the disease. The Living with Parkinson’s (LwPD) group was originally started by a Panorama resident in 2009. Due to the growth of the group and increased interest amongst residents, the LwPD group is now facilitated by Sara Wasser from Panorama’s Independent Living Social Services Department.

Sara explains, “What’s so incredibly special about LwPD is it’s more than just a monthly meeting where we hear from guest speakers and share information. It’s more like a family gathering.”

“I refer to my group members as ‘cheerleaders’ because they are constantly encouraging other residents affected with Parkinson’s disease to join the support group, exercise class and dinner group,” continues Sara. “They help each other from offering simple suggestions to driving someone to a medical appointment and lending a listening ear. They truly welcome everyone with open arms and that is the best invitation of all.”

“This month, Panorama wants to open its doors to educate, support and renew hope by inviting community members to this special event,” she adds.

Sara continues, “My group members, my cheerleaders, live with Parkinson’s every day. Some of these folks were diagnosed over 25 years ago and their spouses have provided loving care and support through their ongoing journey. Residents who have lost their spouse or partner to Parkinson’s continue to attend the meetings and dinners to maintain their strongly bonded relationships with one another. That’s how deeply rooted this group of residents are to one another. I couldn’t be more proud of what has developed over the last six years. This is why it’s personally important to me to help raise awareness in April and show support for them. I want others to learn about the disease and how coming together truly makes a difference.”

The LwPD support group is just one service provided by the Independent Living team at Panorama. Working alongside Sara is Adele Hadley and Corrine Wasmundt. Adele, Corrine and Sara are well known for their concierge style of service to the independent living Panorama residents. They offer convenient amenities and supportive resources that are free and confidential to the residents.

There are approximately 1,100 people living independently between the ages of 62 and over 100 at Panorama. Adele shares, “Panorama residents are truly out there living independently so we are not in constant contact with them. But we are here and accessible if anyone needs us. We average about 300 ‘referrals’ a month, which means we are providing some type of direct service about three hundred times monthly. This could be anything from a medical crisis that requires more intensive attention for a short period of time to ongoing nutrition counseling to a one-time referral for a bookkeeper. Regardless, our main focus is to maintain safety and quality of life for those residents living independently.”

Support services run the gamut such as providing assistance and education on long-term care goals including assisted living, rehabilitation center and long-term care policies. The trio also provides referrals to various agencies and programs which could include anything from elder law, pet care, housekeeping to hearing services and much more. Additionally, they assist with updating records, liaise and advocate with physicians and agencies, and offer a comprehensive resource library.

While Sara’s expertise has centered on Parkinson’s she also facilitates a bereavement group. Adele provides a support group for those who are a primary caregiver for a loved one at home or in a long-term care facility. Corrine facilitates a group for any resident or caregiver coping with cancer. All three professionals offer a deep understanding and care about the aging process, knowledge of safety in independent living, and expertise on how to enhance the quality of life.

Click here to learn more about the Panorama Independent Living Services.

For more information about the Parkinson’s Informational Event hosted at Panorama, please contact Sara Wasser at 360-438-7776 or


Parkinson’s Patient Education Program at Panorama Auditorium

Wednesday, April 29 at 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

1670 Circle Loop SE in Lacey


Part Fish? Alex Wright Cashes his Goals in the Pool with the Evergreen Swim Club

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:41am



By Gail Wood

oly ortho logoLap after lap, Alex Wright cuts through the water as he swims up and down the pool, switching his strokes from freestyle to backstroke to butterfly. Welcome to Alex’s home away from home.

Six days a week, you can find Alex swimming up and down the 50-yard pool at The Evergreen State College. Three days a week, Alex, a freshman at Olympia High School, squeezes in two workouts, one in the morning before school and a second one in the evening.

alex wright swimming

Alex Wright is among the top swimmers in the country for his age.

“It can get hectic,” Alex said with a chuckle about his busy schedule. “But it’s fun. I enjoy it.”

It’s not the seemingly endless workouts – he’ll swim as many as 7,000 yards (about four miles) in a workout – that’s so rewarding. It’s the end result, the end goal. In December at the Pacific Northwest meet, Alex, who swims for the Evergreen Swim Club, won all six of the events he entered and broke five meet records. His meet-record time of 15:50 in the 1,650 meters was the fourth fastest in the nation for 14-year-olds at the time.

In late March at Orlando, Florida, Alex swam in 10 events at the National Club Swimming Association junior national meet, swimming against the top high school swimmers in the United States.

“It’s amazing to spend that much time in the water and to really dedicate yourself to one thing. I think he sacrifices a lot,” said Alex’s mom, Tiffany.

alex wright swimming

Alex Wright, swimming the butterfly here, works out six days a week with the Evergreen Swim Club.

Alex, who just turned 15, isn’t the only one making a sacrificial commitment. Add Tiffany, who doubles as her son’s taxi driver. Besides the two-a-day workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, there’s the afternoon workouts five days a week. Then on Saturday mornings, there’s the early morning workout. When kiddingly asked if her son had gills, Tiffany said, “They’re growing.”

But Alex’s blue-collar work ethic, his dedication to training, isn’t his only attribute. He’s a competitor. He doesn’t melt under the pressure and challenge of a big swim meet.

“He’s a very fierce competitor,” said Tiffany, who for the past three years has coached on the Evergreen Swim Club and volunteered in other tasks. “It’s very interesting if you look at Alex’s splits. He’s able to turn these 50s over and over again. A lot of kids can’t do that. He’s mentally a very strong kid too, which I hope for his sake that will carry him a long ways.”

In Orlando, Alex swam a lifetime best in the 1,000 meters, finishing in 9:23 for 30th place. That ranks him 20th in the United States for his age group.

“The top swimmers in the country were there,” said Randy Trowbridge, the Evergreen’s Swim Club’s coach. “And to be ranked in the top 20 is impressive.”

alex wright swimming

Alex (right) stands with his older brother, Andrew, who also swims on the Evergreen Swim Club.

Trowbridge and Alex’s dad, James, made the trip with Alex to Orlando, cheering him on. James grew up in Olympia and attended Olympia High School, graduating in 1989. But he played tennis and didn’t swim. Tiffany, who attended high school in Port Orchard, was the swimmer. Both Tiffany and James are supporters of both their sons, Alex and Andrew, who is a junior and a state qualifier on the Olympia High School swim team.

“My parents are great,” Alex said. “I love them.”

Driven by his goal for national rankings, Alex has decided not to turn out for his school swim team. He’s already swimming faster than his brother, who also swims for the Evergreen Swim Club, in nearly every event they swim.

“The only stroke Andrew is ahead of him is breaststroke,” Trowbridge said. “I think it does motivate him to have an older brother who has done well. For a while they were competing, but Alex has surpassed him in a lot of events.”

alex wright swimming

Evergreen Swim Club coach Randy Trowbridge talks with his team during a recent workout.

At practices, Trowbridge doesn’t have to keep reminding Alex to push himself or to swim his laps faster. But the Evergreen coach might have to occasionally remind Alex to get into the pool.

“He’s motivated and he gets in,” Trowbridge said with a chuckle. “But he’s not the first one in. Getting him in the pool is the hardest thing. During the workouts, he applies himself. He does a good job on his workouts.”

Tiffany is proud of what her son has done as a swimmer. But for her, the real takeaway from swimming is the life lessons her son is learning.

“You learn a lot,” Tiffany said. “You’re learning how to get along with others. You’re learning time management. You have to do your homework somewhere and study for that test. He does that.”

At the meet in Orlando, Alex met some college swim coaches, which was another learning lesson for a young teenager.

alex wright swimming

Alex Wright, standing on the starting blocks, swims for the Evergreen Swim Club.

“He learned how to make that firm, steady handshake,” Tiffany said. “Making eye contact and making conversation – those are some skills that will carry him far. There are a lot of things sports teaches you. And it teaches you a lot about yourself.”

Swimming, Tiffany has discovered, not only builds endurance, it builds responsibility.

“We can get him to the pool, but I can’t make him work hard once he’s in the water,” Tiffany said. “That’s all him. We support him as best as we can. Once he gets into the water, it’s all him.”


More Procession of the Species Photos 2015

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:29am



ThurstonTalk had three photographers on site for the 2015 Procession of the Species.  Find even more images of this classic downtown Olympia event here.

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Spring Arts Walk Photos 2015

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:21am



Photos by Shanna Paxton Photography

Spring Arts Walk matches local artists with downtown Olympia shops.  Visitors travel through the shops, gazing at the art work while enjoying live music and street performers outside the walls of the local businesses.  Walk through the downtown Olympia event with us.

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Procession of the Species Photos 2015

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:11am



Photos by Shanna Paxton Photography

Despite heavy rain showers, Olympia residents flocked to downtown Olympia on Saturday, April 25 for the annual Procession of the Species.  In its 20th year, the spectacle is a passionate display of “all things great about Olympia.”  Read more about the dedicated volunteers who pull together the event in this article.

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Mathnasium – A Different Approach to Math

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:00am




Jennifer Chevalier, the owner of Mathnasium, is also an 8th grade math teacher at Bush Middle School in Tumwater.

Jennifer Chevalier has always had a passion for math. So much so, that she studied the subject through college, earned her teaching credentials through The Evergreen State College and now teaches 8th grade Math at Bush Middle School in Tumwater. The mother of two has always shown a true commitment to teaching math and adding Mathnasium Owner to her list of passions is a natural fit.

“When my son was first born we were looking for a way for me to stay home,” explains Chevalier. “We looked into Mathnasium and my husband and I fell in love with the idea behind the franchise. We became very invested in the ideas and methods being used, but at the time just couldn’t afford to do it. When my husband passed away I was given some life insurance money. I thought about my options of what I could do with the money and decided to invest it into something we both believed in: Mathnasium.”

The idea behind the Mathnasium Method is simplicity. “It’s all about breaking down the problems and focusing on the vocabulary,” says Chevalier. “The creator of the method, Larry Martinek, used his knowledge of math and watching students struggle with math to come up with the concepts we use. It’s about changing the way a student looks at the problem. For example, instead of saying, ‘What is seven times eight?’ we approach the problem and ask, ‘What is seven eight times?’ This simple change can lead to so much more understanding for a student.”


According to Chevalier, Mathnasium focuses on the gaps to build a foundation in math skills.

Mathnasium focuses on the gaps to build the foundation. “The first thing we do is give an assessment to discover the gaps in student understanding,” explains Chevalier. “The assessments are built for different grade levels and include visual, written, and verbal problems. Based on the assessment, we are able to find those gaps of understanding. Our goal is to fill those gaps. We don’t want to have to have a student rely on a tutor forever. Our goal is to build a solid foundation that they can depend upon to tackle any problem.”

Changes in curriculum and state standards has made learning difficult for many students in our area. “Parents are afraid of Common Core and new curriculum. We get a lot of calls and business based on this fear. As state testing approaches, parents want to know how we can help boost their child’s score. There is no quick fix. It does take some time, but the Mathnasium Method addresses those needs. While we start seeing results after the first few weeks of attendance, it does take time. Once we can help build a basis of math knowledge, the students easily adapt to any changes in curriculum.”

Mathnasium is comparable to the price of a tutor, but with a different goal. “If you break it down our monthly price is similar to, or even less than, that of one-on-one tutor twice a week. With our monthly membership, students can come in as often as they want. We recommend 2-3 times per week as we do not want students to burn-out. We also have a summer program that can either help a student catch up from the previous year or build their math strength for the upcoming school year,” she explains.

“The people who work here love working with kids, have a background in math, and are well trained in our method. It’s a great place to encourage confidence in students and we keep math engaging,” adds Chevalier.

“I’ve been passionate about Math for many years,” says Chevalier. Mathnasium is a great fit for me to continue that passion. It’s all about changing the way kids approach the problem making it more feasible to tackle. We want to celebrate what students do know and focus on teaching what they don’t know. We want our students to be successful in the future, not just right now.”



Mathnasium is located at 4331-B Lacey Blvd SE in Lacey.

4331-B Lacey Blvd SE, Lacey, WA 98503

(360) 688-9963

Hours of Instruction:

Sunday: Closed

Monday – Thursday: 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Closed

Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Generosity and Volunteers Build the Olympia Free Clinic

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 6:00am



By Lynn West

capital medical centerHave you ever noticed the bold black and white sign flapping against the bricks on the old Olympia City Hall and Fire Station? The Olympia Free Clinic sign is poised between the signs for the Family Support Center and South Sound YMCA child care facility. It is obvious this building provides an important bridge to needed services in our community.

On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, residents enter the side door just off Capitol Way on State Street in desperate need of medical care. Head up a flight of stairs and you will be amazed by the services offered by the Olympia Free Clinic. Staffed entirely by volunteers, except for the multi-tasking director, Paula Rauen, the clinic is kept alive by generous benefactors.

Shortly after The Lacey Free Clinic closed in 2009, work began to establish the Olympia Free Clinic as a nonprofit. After a brief time at another location, the Olympia Free Clinic found a home in this welcoming historic building.

olympia free clinic

One piece of Director Paula Rauen’s job is to organize 250 volunteers at the Olympia Free Clinic.

“On May 25, 2011, two days after the clinic opened here, I stepped in as Executive Director,” Paula Rauen said with a smile. “The operation has been evolving and expanding ever since.” After 26 years working at Community Youth Services and three years sailing around the world with her husband, Paula obviously enjoys the daily tasks of organizing and supporting the 250 volunteers who have contributed almost 15,000 hours to the clinic since its inception.

“After the first year of operations, we changed to two consecutive nights of service,” Paula told me. ”We realized how difficult it was for the patients who couldn’t be scheduled one night to wait several days to come back. We are always making adjustments in order to serve as many clients as possible.”

Since the Union Gospel Mission closed their Chronic Care Clinic in 2014, the caseload at the Olympia Free Clinic has increased. It is now open to both chronic and acute patients. “The good news is more patients are insured under the Affordable Care Act but the bad news is many are also underinsured or hampered by huge deductibles,” explained Paula.

After a patient has registered, a triage nurse prepares an intake form. At least two physicians and two nurses staff the clinic. Patients either self-refer or are directed to the clinic by Department of Social and Health Service caseworkers. The clinic is open to anyone 18 or older. Most evenings a Spanish language interpreter is available.

olympia free clinic

The Olympia Free Clinic is open on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Here is just one story about how patients are served by the Olympia Free Clinic. A middle-aged woman who had no insurance heard about the clinic after a lump on her neck had been growing for many months. Indeed, as she feared, it was malignant. Paula unpinned her thank you letter to the Clinic from a wall of such letters and, the woman’s gratitude was boundless. “You saved my life,” she said.

Patients like this woman are grateful for the many doctors, nurses, and staff who served them. However they may not realize the depth of support from other medical facilities in the area.

“A recent contribution from Capital Medical Center was so important to our continued work,” Paula emphatically stated. “We are extremely grateful for their staff’s generosity.”

That donation along with in-kind contributions from other health care companies for free pap smears, lab work and imaging, and by the Union Gospel Mission for accepting referrals to their dental and vision program keep the work of the clinic moving. Approximately 90 patients receive medical examinations each month.

Last August, a grant allowed the Olympia Free Clinic to open a Mental Health Access program, which is so important for the population they serve. The Clinic supports about 24 sessions of mental health counseling a month.

olympia free clinic

Olympia Free Clinic volunteers have created a welcoming atmosphere for patients.

Each patient seen in the clinic has an exit interview with a social worker before discharge. Patients then are assessed for future needs and often referred to other agencies.

In addition to working with the volunteer coordinator, Paula also writes grants, works with other non-profit groups, and seeks donations from neighborhood businesses and professionals.

“Most of our volunteers come right after leaving work,” according to Paula. “Having food for them before they start their shift is crucial.” Recently the volunteers have been enjoying treats from Old School Pizzeria, Bagel Brothers, Bread Peddler, and Blue Heron Bakery.

Our volunteers are so caring. “We very often heal the spirit as well as the physical well being of a patient,” Paula told me. “In assessing the quality of respect and courtesy exhibited by the staff at the clinic, the patients rate them 90% and above.”

When the staff at Capital Medical Center chose the Olympia Free Clinic as the recipient of their recent staff fundraiser, they must have known more about the amazing work of the clinic than a casual passerby. Not everyone in Thurston County can contribute by volunteering, but everyone can enjoy an evening of Wine and Jazz at the Clinics’ Annual Fundraiser on June 6 at Albee’s Garden. Be there and join the many others who work to keep this community asset alive and well.

The Olympia Free Clinic is open Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.


Structure Fire Investigation Continues

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 6:20am



Submitted by City of Olympia

olympia fireAfter the structure fire in the abandoned church at 911 – 4th avenue East on April 20, 2015, cadaver dogs detected signs that suggested there may be human remains in the rubble pile left after the fire was extinguished. To confirm that no such remains were present, a City of Olympia team composed of Olympia Fire, Police, Public Works, Parks and Community Planning & Development departments, along with Advance Environmental as the technical specialists and Quigg Brothers, Inc. managing the heavy equipment, searched the debris. No human remains were found.

The pile still remains a potential public safety hazard so the careful removal and disposal of the debris will continue until the site has been completely cleared.

The city is bearing the costs at this point but the property owner and or future property owners will ultimately be responsible for the costs incurred.

olympia fireDue to the complete destruction of the building and the potential safety risks, origin and cause of the fire could not be determined, although it is likely that it was started by an unauthorized person or persons in the building as there were no utilities connected to the building at the time of the fire.

Clean-up efforts will continue until all fire debris is appropriately disposed.

A visual distraction from any equipment involved in the clean-up will be the only impact on traffic along the 900 block of 4th Avenue.

Previous stories about the fire can be found here.


Luminary Procession 2015

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 5:59am



Photos by Shanna Paxton Photography

The Luminary Procession is the first event marking a weekend of packed with family-friendly entertainment in downtown Olympia.  The Luminary Procession occurred at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24.  Between rain showers, Procession goers traveled the streets of downtown Olympia.  Spring Arts Walk continues today.  Maps are available here as well as a planning guide for experiencing the event with children.  Procession of the Species begins at 4:30 p.m. in downtown Olympia.  The route can be found here.

 Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography  Shanna Paxton Photography

Alejandro de Acosta: Wednesday, April 29th, 11:30-1:00 pm in Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:35pm


Alejandro de Acosta describes his Art Lecture  as”a discussion of the work of Argentine poet Antonio Porchia (1885-1968), and his translation of Porchia. Porchia developed and wrote solely in a singular form he called voces (voices). His single book, named, precisely, VOCES, was little known when it appeared, due in part to his distance from literary circles and to its unclassifiable short, aphoristic poetry. Alejandro will discuss Porchia’s poetry and poetics, his finished and unfinished voices, and his approach to sharing them; their influence on subsequent Argentine poets; and the process of his current collaborative translation of them, opening out onto a larger set of ideas about language and translation, poetic forms and how they are circulated and made public.”

Alejandro was born in Buenos Aires in 1972, and grew up in Caracas, Madison (Wisconsin) and Cleveland (Ohio).  Tertiary education in Amherst, MA (Hampshire College, bachelor’s degree) and Binghamton, NY (doctorate at Binghamton University).  A onetime participant in the zine and mail art milieu, in Austin, Alejandro founded mufa::poema, a micropress that freely distributed a dozen poetry and prose chapbooks. Long standing interest in sound art and poetry reading led to a two-year radio and podcast project, “Sector Phy,” on KPWR-FM, as well as numerous audio performances under the moniker JANO (THING) SELECTOR.

Back in Binghamton, study of the history of Western philosophy and contemporary continental thought brought Alejandro to write a dissertation on Spinozan themes, not without a discussion of exhortatory graffiti.  These studies subsequently displaced themselves in the direction of, first, Latin American philosophy, and second, an articulation of (for lack of a better word) anarchist ideas in various genres of prose.  An outcome of this second trajectory, informed by continued engagement with poetry and poetics, are his two recent collections of critical and experimental essays: The Impossible, Patience (Ardent Press, 2014) and How to Live Now or Never (Repartee/LBC Books, 2014).

For many years, Alejandro taught philosophy and poetry at Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX), as well as in popular education settings.  Readings, lectures, and presentations in Albany, Austin, Berkeley, Denver, Morelia, Portland, Seattle and elsewhere.  With Joshua Beckman, Alejandro has translated the poetry of Jorge Carrera Andrade (Micrograms, Wave Books, 2011) and Carlos Oquendo de Amat (Five Meters of Poems, Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010).  Most recently, Alejandro translated Fabian Luduena’s H.P. Lovecraft: The Disjunction in Being (Schism Press, 2015).  Two current projects are an anthology of writing by and about Antonio Porchia and The Ponge Stone, a manuscript of translations, essays, and letters emerging from the study of Francis Ponge’s Pour un Malherbe.  Alejandro’s ongoing research is in U.S. and Latin American poetry, and, still, philosophy.  Alejandro de Acosta currently lives in Olympia, WA.



Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Green Hill Youth Presentation on the School to Prison Pipeline

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:17am
Event:  Wed, 05/13/2015 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm Youth from Green Hill School will speak about their experiences including the school-to-prison pipeline and racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Green Hill School is a juvenile correction facility with the mission to transform lives by providing meaningful educational/vocational opportunities that will inspire and prepare young men for successful living, learning and working. The school provides academic high school coursework as well as vocational training in wood shop, welding, automotive maintenance, horticulture and landscaping, and computer drafting and technology. They partner with the Evergreen State College Gateways for Incarcerated Youth for college credit and academic mentoring. Youth on the United Youth Council have testified before the State Supreme Court, legislators, and schools across the state. Location: Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater WA 98501. Phone: 360-943-7790. Intercity Transit route 12/13. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Tumwater May-hem Comic and Game Fest

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:15am
Event:  Sat, 05/02/2015 - 12:00pm - 4:00pm Drop by to get free comic books, play games, make personalized superhero insignia necklaces, and other superhero-related activities! Local comic and game stores have provided fantastic prizes. Win just for showing up, or by entering our family cosplay contest! Ask at the library’s information desk for a schedule of events or for more information. Sponsored by the Friends of the Tumwater Timberland Library Location: Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater WA 98501 Phone: 360-943-7790 Intercity Transit route 12/13 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Comics Can Take Us Places

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 11:14am
Event:  Sat, 05/02/2015 - 11:00am - 12:00pm Comics tap directly into our sense of memory, time and place – sometimes without words. In this fascinating presentation, cartoonist Megan Kelso explains how she uses memory, her own life, research, and photo references to create sequential panels that evoke the feeling of a specific, inhabited world. This Presentation is co-sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Friends of the Tumwater Timberland Library. Location: Tumwater Timberland Library, 7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater WA 98501 Phone: 360-943-7790 Intercity Transit route 12/13 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation Invites Applications for Early Childhood Education Grants

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 7:54am



Submitted by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation

Deadline to apply for early learning grants is May 1 The Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) is inviting grant applications from early childhood education providers (K-3) to implement innovative, sustainable classroom projects.

Submissions must be received in the Foundation office by 5 p.m. on May 1. Any Thurston County school district, nonprofit organization, early learning provider, or collaboration thereof may apply for funds. OTF is especially interested in supporting strategies that stimulate student creativity, increase motivation to learn, and enhance the current learning environment. Individual award amounts range from $250 to $3,000.

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation’s education program has awarded over $1.6 million in scholarships and grants to hundreds of talented and deserving students and teachers. An application and more information can be found under “Scholarships & Grants” on the Foundation’s website: or by phone at 360.943.2550.

Olympia Arts Walk & Procession Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 6:45am



Budd Bay cafe logoI would classify this weekend as the granddaddy of community events.  Three massive events culminate in one weekend of free, family-friendly entertainment in downtown Olympia.  Here’s my suggestion for the best strategy to be able to experience all three events while still leaving some time to hit some other activities.  Click on the links below to get complete event information.

  1. Start Friday night off with meandering through downtown Olympia for Spring Arts Walk.  Visit shops and galleries through Saturday.
  2. Grab breakfast on Saturday morning and head back to downtown Olympia. Get a Springs Arts Walk map here.
  3. Watch the Dragon Boat Festival throughout the day on Saturday.  The event includes free entertainment at the Port Plaza.
  4. Stake out your spot, make some chalk art, and experience Procession of the Species which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.  The Procession route can be found by clicking on this link.

Want to try something else this weekend?  Here are even more ideas for activities and events around Thurston County on April 24 – 26.

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.

Pursuing Paper: A Hollander Beater at Last!!!

Sherwood Press - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 5:52pm

It’s been a long ambition to make paper. In my early twenties I took up bookbinding and ended up working for Don Guyot at Colophon Book Arts Supply in Olympia, Washington. As part of my job, I was able to attend the Paper Book Intensive a couple of times, helping to run the small store and taking amazing workshops with some of the finest teachers in the country. I took classes in hand lettering, box making, paper marbling, alternative book structures, paper decoration and more. It was at the Paper Book Intensive that I was exposed for the first time to hand papermaking. I remember thinking… “I’m going to come back to this.” And I have.

In the last few weeks my partner and I have acquired a Hollander beater (A 1.5 pound Voith-Allis Valley type beater) and have undertaken to restore it. It has been living outside for some time and was in such a condition I almost passed on it. But it looked sound in spite of some rust and dirt. And I had looked for so long for a beater and this one needed some serious and dedicated love. I felt up to the task, especially with Terry’s help. There is no better help than his. He can do anything. And he has been enormously generous with his time and skills.

Down in Waldport, Oregon we slid the hollander into the car on some wooden rails. Heavier than we thought. Not sure why I didn't trust a document I found online that listed the ship weight. "Naw," I thought. "It  can't be THAT heavy." It was. It was so heavy that there was no way we were going to slide it back out, so we rented a "cherry picker." The PERFECT thing. Now I want one. Hanging in mid-air. No biggie. My parter Terry posing for scale. It's not that big, really. But it's CAST IRON. This shows how degraded... the diaphragm is totally destroyed, and quite a bit of rust.  the grinding-in bracket was with the machine, even though it hadn't been used by the previous owner. The stand he had built won't accommodate it. The weights all cleaned up and ready for some paint. A bit of primer over the areas treated for rust. Brand-spanking new diaphragm I cut from a sheet of 1/16" live rubber from an online industrial supply company. I bought steel punches from Harbor Freight to punch the holes. I wish I could start my life over again so that I could have owned one of these handy mechanic's trays earlier in my life. Freshly-punched diaphragm. The old diaphragm was luckily preserved by the previous owner. The one he made was inner tube material, which didn't last very long, I understand. Our second trip to Oregon was to pick up the stand. This time we spent the night on the Oregon Coast so that we didn't have to do all ten hours' driving in one day. SMART. This old carbon paper will be used to test the fit of the bed knife to the beater roll. A little recreational reading. Great book so far. The beater stand was in fact quite a beater. IMG_6608 After careful cleaning, the beginnings of a primer coat. Now upside down, the painting begins in earnest. New casters and new paint. It looks SO different. Terry has mad Skilz. Before the wood has been treated with spar urethane. The old top used to start the pattern for the new top. Creating a pattern for the hole that must be cut in the top for the beater.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

West Olympia Farmers’ Market Opening Day is May 12

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 4:50pm


Submitted by West Olympia Farmers’ Market

flowers - West Oly Farmers marketWest Olympia Farmers’ Market is pleased to announce the opening of its fifth season on Tuesday, May 12th at 4:00 pm. The market has brand new location this season at 1919 Harrison Ave. NW in the West Central Park. Hours are Tuesday evening from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, mid-May – mid-October 2015. Keep an eye out for the signs on Harrison Ave and Black Lake Blvd.

In addition to a great selection of local food vendors, this season will feature a monthly Crafter’s Market showcasing handmade goods from local artisans. Also, to make shopping even more convenient and accessible, West Olympia Farmers’ Market accepts EBT and debit transactions. Drop by the Market Information booth for more information on all of this year’s happenings or check the West Olympia Farmers’ Market website and facebook page.

West Olympia Farmers’ Market (WOFM) is your neighborhood market. WOFM strives to help build a vibrant local food economy by supporting small-scale and beginning vendors. All of WOFM’s farmers, artisans and producers are based in Thurston, Lewis, Mason, or Grays Harbor county, with the majority based in Olympia. Products at this years market include fresh produce, baked goods, pastured poultry and meats, flowers, veggie starts, crafts, and much more.  Everything is locally grown and produced, so come on out and support your local producers.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Dres at and find us on facebook.



48 Teams Will Compete in Dragon Boat Festival

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 4:47pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

dragon boat festival

The amount of paddlers participating in the race has nearly quadrupled—from 260 in 2006 to 1,000 in 2015.

Paddles up! Two teams from China will join 46 local and regional teams in the race for the gold at the 10th annual Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival on April 25 at Port Plaza.

More than 6,000 spectators are expected to cheer the racers on, enjoy cultural performances, and browse the booths along the boardwalk. Booths include food, fun and cultural arts and crafts.

The Dragon Boat teams represent colleges, universities, high schools, school districts, government agencies and community organizations.

Saint Martin’s University (SMU) hosts the festival in cooperation with Kaikane Events. The event is free and open to the public.

If you go: Saturday, April 25, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Port Plaza on Budd Inlet, immediately north of Percival Landing at 701 Columbia Street NW. Look for the large viewing tower.

The Port of Olympia is a proud sponsor of this community event.

For more information, including ways to support the festival or organize a team, visit or contact the SMU Office of International Programs and Development at 360.438.4521.

Four actors, two readings – Visual Liberties

South Sound Arts - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 4:45pm

Alec Clayton with wife, Gabi, at a reading of Return to Freedom at Kings Books in Tacoma
It was a few years back, I had done a few readings in a couple of bookstores and a library and thought I had done it fairly well, when it dawned on me that professional actors could make readings a much more dynamic experience; and since I am a theater critic and know a lot of actors, it was not hard to find actors who were willing to read for me. The first time was a revelation. It was ten times better than me reading my own stuff. The actors seemed to love doing it, and the audience reaction was terrific. That first reading with actors was from my book, Reunion at the Wetside with Dennis Rolly, Jim Patrick, Jennie Jenks and Chris Cantrell breathing life into my made-up characters.Friday, May 1 at Orca Books in Olympia, Michael Christopher and Heather Christopher will read from my latest novel, Visual Liberties, and then on Tuesday, May 12 at Kings Books in Tacoma a different pair of actors, Scott C. Brown and Syra Beth Puett, will read the same selections. Each of these actors has read for me before. Scott C. Brown read the part of Pop Lawrence and directed the full movie script from The Backside of Nowherein a reading at Lakewood Playhouse. In that same performance, Syra Beth read the part of Pop Lawrence’s wife, Shelly. Later she read multiple parts in a reading of selections from all three books in the “Freedom Trilogy” at the Tacoma Library. Michael and Heather, a married couple who have often acted together, were mesmerizing as the married couple Malcolm and Bitsey Ashton in Return to Freedom in readings at Orca and at the Olympia Library. When they read the part with the couple arguing I thought they were going to draw blood.These four actors are highly skilled professionals. Whether acting in full-length dramas or comedies or standing behind a music stand reading brief selections from a novel, they immerse themselves in the parts. In these readings they will not be in costume, and they may not be called on to physically act the parts beyond facial expressions and maybe posture or a hand gesture, but they attack the roles in a professional matter, studying and rehearsing and getting to know the characters; and when they read their parts, you in the audience will feel what they feel.Heather Christopher with Tim Hoban in How I Learned to Drive. Photo by Elizabeth Lord.
Michael Christopher at an Olympia Stobists meetup. Photo by Martin Kimmeldorf. Whether playing the parts of one of the witches in Macbeth (Heather Christopher) or McDuff in the same show (Michael Christopher) or “Blonde” and “Pink” in all-male and all-female versions of Reservoir Dogs, the Christophers have the kind of chemistry you would expect of professional actors who have been married for almost two decades. It’s exciting to see them play off each other like jazz musicians improvising while being different people (in this case Molly Ashton and Francis Gossing among others).Scott C. Brown (center) as R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at Lakewood Playhouse, with Randy Clark and Julie Wensel Scott C. Brown is a triple Best Actor selection in my “Critic’s Choice” column in The News Tribune, once as Salieri in Amadeus and once as Randle McMurthy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, both at Lakewood Playhouse, and as Bobby in Sins of the Mother at Harlequin Productions. He’s also been in more than a dozen Feature length films, and a number of TV/New Media series and in well over 30 local plays since 2000. Expect him to read Red Warner and Freight Train Taylor with humor and gravitas.Syra Beth Puett in The Lion in Winter, with Kat Christensen. Photo by Dean Lapin.Syra Beth Puett, among other attributes, does a great Southern accent. She’s a Southerner by birth. Local theater goers might have seen her in Driving Miss Daisy at Dukesbay Productions. Tacomans will also remember her for her commanding performances as Queen Eleanor in The Lion in Winter and Mousetrap at Lakewood Playhouse and in On Golden Pondat Tacoma Little Theatre. The readings at Orca and Kings Books will be brief, but with such fine actors they should be memorable. Each reading will be followed by a discussion and book signing.Visual Libertiesis the final book the “Freedom Trilogy,” the saga of the little Bayou town of Freedom, Mississippi. It all started with The Backside of Nowhere and was followed by Return to Freedom. In this final book of the series, Molly Ashton is now a college student majoring in art. She is trying hard to grow up, find her way in the world, but it seems she does nothing but make bad choices ... until she makes friends with Francis Gossing.Francis is socially awkward but an artistic genius, and he is haunted by a frightening vision of his mother and a man with a gun. He can’t tell if the vision he’s obsessed with is a memory or a nightmare from long ago.Struggling to find their way in the world, Molly and Francis find an unexpected ally in the person of Travis Earl Warner, the once famous artist known as Red Warner who has abandoned the world of art to live a hermit’s life at a fishing camp on the Mary Walker Bayou.
Orca Books, Friday, May 1, 7 p.m., 509 4thAve. E., OlympiaKings Books, Tuesday, May 12 at 7 p.m., 218 St Helens Ave, Tacoma

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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