Recent local blog posts

Country Singer Aaron Lewis’ Defense of a Young Girl Leads to a Surprise from Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 7:23pm



By Nikki McCoy

lucky eagleAs Johnny Cash played in the background and beverages were passed around, anticipation filled the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel event center Saturday night as a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,000 waited for Aaron Lewis to take the stage.

But little did they know the country singer was about to get a surprise.

With lowered lights and hushed audience, Chehalis Tribe members, along with the Executive Director of SafePlace, climbed on stage with an over-sized check.

aaron lewis

Aaron Lewis (far left) gets close with Chehalis Tribal Enterprises CEO Rodney Youckton, while SafePlace Executive Director Mary Pontarolo gives thanks and Tribal Member Danny “Bones” Gleason looks on.

Rodney Youckton, CEO of Chehalis Tribal Enterprises gave a synopsis of what happened at a concert last June where a teenage girl was being pinched and fondled while crowd-surfing. Lewis stopped mid-song to make sure the young men knew he disapproved.

“You should all be beaten down by everyone around you,” was just the tip of the profanity-riddled verbal assault Lewis gave the young men responsible.

Lewis’ fierce defense of the girl moved Lucky Eagle CEO John Setterstrom to donate a $2500 check, on behalf of Lewis, to SafePlace, a non-profit advocacy agency and confidential shelter for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Thurston County.

Tribal members presented the check to Lewis, and after responding simply, “I just did what any father of three little girls would have done,” he hugged CEO of Chehalis Tribe Enterprises, Rodney Youckton, and the crowd exploded into applause.

“It was very, very, honorable for calling out those guys for their poor behavior and choice. We are very honored and thankful for what he did,” said Youckton.

“I think it’s awesome what he did,” agreed Danny “Bones” Gleason, tribal elder and 5th council member, who thanked Lewis for his act, and encouraged him to “keep on saving.”

SafePlace Executive Director Mary Pontarolo, who was present to receive the donation, was glad to bring awareness to a demographic that normally doesn’t get reached – country music fans.

aaron lewis

Rocker turned country star Aaron Lewis brought his high-energy show to Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel recently.

“This is a great country crowd tonight,” said Pontarolo. “I’m honored to be on the same stage as this man. I’ve listened to the YouTube video I don’t know how many times. It’s not very often that a man would stand up and try and protect us and I appreciate the fact that Aaron did.”

“I think it is great,” she said off stage. “I love to be able to talk to a group of people that love country music, particularly about our issues and to dispel myths. I just think it’s an important message and this is a good group to be able to share the information with.”

I spoke with a variety of audience members, and while everyone knew of Aaron Lewis’ music, only a few knew about the back story to the donation they just witnessed.

As I explained about SafePlace and the concert, people were impressed.

“That’s my kinda guy,” replied one man dressed in camo. “I’m not surprised, he’s really cool,” said another.

And another gave kudos to the casino for getting involved.

“It’s something our CEO felt strongly about,” said Kevin Burrus, Advertising Director for Lucky Eagle. “We felt Aaron’s actions reflected the Chehalis Tribe and Lucky Eagle, and is something we try to embody… and we try to support organizations like SafePlace -it’s a giving back thing.”

After the gifting ceremony, Lewis began his concert by asking the audience to join him in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then eased into his set-list with his signature voice and crowd-favorite, “Country Boy.”

And as I looked around to the couples with arms around each other, the faces of people moved by music, and tribal members and employees with big smiles, it was comforting to know that Lewis’ one act of defending one girl, has made an impact on so many people.


Claire Smith Wins State Drill Down Championship as Capital Cougarette

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 1:15pm



By Amy Rowley

russell bode dentistryThe college-sized basketball court fills with more than 200 drill team members, all state qualifiers from 1A, 2A and 3A high schools. Each competitor stands ready, at attention, to receive a list of commands. The Drill Down competition occurs at the end of a long day of performances. To win this competition, you must be completely focused, shutting out all distractions. You are performing on your own, show the judges your very best.

capital drill team

Claire Smith (back center) and the Capital Cougarette Dance Team placed second in military at the state tournament.  Photo credit: Amy Mullin.

Claire Smith, a sophomore at Capital High School and a first year drill team member, describes Drill Down as a “hard core version of Simon Says.” She’s quick to add, “This makes it sounds childish. It’s very complicated.”

“It’s crazy how intense the Drill Down is,” adds Claire’s coach, Jan Kiefer. “You must get into a mental zone that requires an extraordinary amount of focus.”

A caller announces commands that could include a series of pivots or turns, along with hand movements. Sometimes you are marching while you memorize the order of the commands. The caller also may change the cadence, insert a hesitation or other tricks to try to make the competitors lose concentration or miss a beat.

When the Yakima Valley Sun Dome filled with state-qualified high school drill teams, Claire took the floor with her Capital Cougarette teammates. She explains that during the first few rounds each participant is on their honor to sit down after a mistake. There are simply too many competitors for the judges to watch each movement. “It’s simply disrespectful to not honor your mistake,” says Claire.

As Claire advanced further in the Drill Down competition, the commands became more complex, the caller’s tricks more intense. A quick flinch or even a hesitation can result in elimination. “My heart was pounding so fast that I was shaking. I was worried that this slight movement would get me eliminated,” she recalls.

But it was this adrenaline rush that Claire was searching for. “It’s so empowering,” she adds.

As the Drill Down continued, three of Coach Kiefer’s Capital Cougarette drill team members were in the finals.  Alongside Claire was Kathy Ly and Vivian Ha who finished fifth.

capital high school drill team

Once full of more than 200 Drill Down competitors, only two participants – Claire Smith (front, in black) and Becka Heelan –  are left standing. Claire will ultimately win the state championship.  Photo credit: Amy Mullin.

Finally, it was Claire and Becka Heelan from Elma High School. “There were a couple thousand people in the audience,” recalls Coach Kiefer. “You could have heard a pin drop. That’s how intense the final round was. I found myself whispering ‘come on, Claire.’”

Claire shut out the audience and focused only on the caller’s series of commands. Becka performed one hand command. Claire did a different one. “I knew right then that Claire had won. I didn’t need to wait for the judges,” says Coach Kiefer. “Our team exploded, jumping up and down, cheering and yelling. It was a great moment.”

“Both her mom and I are so proud of Claire,” says her dad, Steve, who was watching intently in the audience. “We know how hard the coaches and the girls work throughout the year and this was an awesome experience.”

“In that moment, I had so much pride in my team. I was able to show everyone that I do pay attention and that I’m good at following commands,” says Claire.

Claire will treasure her 1st place Drill Down medal. “It’s so hard for anyone to win Drill Down,” adds Coach Kiefer. “For Claire, in her first year of drill team, this is simply amazing. It’s unheard of for a first year participant to win.”

capital high school drill team

Coach Jan Kiefer praises Claire Smith’s dedication and focus. Here she is crowned champion of the state Drill Down competition.

“Claire is so focused and determined. She is one of the most coachable kids that I’ve had on our drill team in a long time,” summarizes Coach Kiefer. “You can see the results of Claire’s hard work. She keeps getting better and better.”

Claire notes that the drill team has spent more than 700 hours on practice throughout the year. “Drill team takes so much dedication but it feels so good at the end. It’s taught me a lot about the power of positive thinking. I’ve also learned the value of stepping up, even if something seems tough.”

Claire is already looking towards next year when she returns to drill team. “I hope that I have improved. I want to put myself in a position that will make me a very valuable dancer to the team.”

She also credits her coaches with the success that the Capital High School team had at the state competition, placing 2nd in 3A military, 2nd in 3A pom, and 3rd in 1A, 2A, and 3A dance. This was the first year for the Capital Cougarette Dance Team to compete in the dance routine and the group is quite proud of their performance.

“Our coaches shape our team,” says Claire. “They are the reason our team is as good as it is. Not only are they good coaches but they are good people. This was my way of showing them how much they are worth to me.”

The Capital Cougarette Dance Team will be holding tryouts during April. To learn more about the team, follow them on Facebook.

Legislators Push to Strengthen Coastal Economies, Create Jobs

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 12:29pm



Submitted by Capitol Land Trust

nisqually land trust

Today, the Washington State House of Representatives Capital Budget Committee released its proposed budget which will dedicate $8.2 million from the Capital Budget for a suite of habitat protection and restoration projects in coastal counties as well as Thurston, Lewis, and Mason counties. The Washington Coast Restoration Initiative (WCRI) will bring sustainable, family-wage jobs to dozens of small, rural communities from Neah Bay to the mouth of the Columbia and inland as far as Thurston County.

“This is the time to invest in the future of rural Washington,” said Amanda Reed, executive director of the Capitol Land Trust. “When we fund restoration projects, we get a win-win:  local jobs today, and healthy rivers and forests that will sustain our economy over the long-term.”

Washington’s coastal economy and culture are built on its forests, rivers, and marine waters, but a lack of consistent funding has undermined progress of ongoing protection and restoration needs. The WCRI package will leverage $6 million in existing federal, state and private resources to pay for 33 restoration projects that will benefit both residents and the natural resources that provide local jobs. The Coast continues to experience the highest unemployment in the state, which is still over 10% in some counties. Restoration projects create more jobs than other types of construction sector projects. Ninety cents of every dollar spent on restoration stays inside the state, and 80 cents of every dollar stays within the county where a project is located.

Capitol Land Trust has put forward two large projects in Thurston County as part of the WCRI package.  These projects would restore over 400 acres in the Black River watershed, including 3 miles along the Black River and its tributaries Mima, Darlin and Dempsey creeks near Capitol State Forest.  Restoration work would support 10 full time jobs and many local contractors, and improve spawning grounds for steelhead, cutthroat trout, Chinook and coho salmon.  Both private lands and lands already conserved using county, state, and federal conservation funding sources would be restored.  For these reasons this initiative has received strong support by all three Thurston County Commissioners.

The WCRI has gained widespread support from the fishing industry, coastal tribes, watershed groups, the conservation community, local government, state and federal agencies. The coastal coalition has developed a comprehensive database of restoration and sustainable job needs that will be matched to high priority projects to restore forests, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. The projects will provide well-paying jobs to local people while improving the health of natural resources to ensure sustainable employment in the future.

“Today’s proposed budget is a critical step toward preserving the commercial, recreational, and ecological value of coastal lands and waters while strengthening one of the most diverse economies of the state,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state director of The Nature Conservancy.

“A big shout-out goes to Representatives Dan Griffey, Drew MacEwen, Richard DeBolt, and Ed Orcutt who were instrumental in getting support for the Washington Coast Restoration Initiative in the House,” said Reed. “They have set the tone for the Senate to vote in support of strong rural communities and economies, and healthy forests and rivers.”

The Senate will take up the Washington Coast Restoration Initiative in the coming weeks. The coalition is looking to the Senate to fully fund the Initiative at the original budget request of $15 million.

For more information on the WCRI program, click here.


Arrington de Dionyso Exhibition, Performance!

K Records - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:51am
This Thursday evening coming up fast is the opening reception for a group art show in Los Angeles featuring Olympia folks Arrington de Dionyso and China Faith Star. Performing at the reception will be Arrington de Dionyso (who provided the poster illustration for the reception invite, above), Lilacs and “Special Guests” (top secret! – even […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

40 Years of History at the Olympia Farmers Market

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:34am



By Emmett O’Connell

SCJ Alliance logoThe Olympia Farmers Market has held an important place in the Olympia community landscape for the past 40 years. As the market’s season opens this year, it will be celebrating its fourth decade in existence.

But, the history of markets where local farmers sell direct to the public have a much longer history in Olympia, stretching back over 100 years.

olympia farmers market

The Olympia Farmers Market hosts more than 250,000 visitors each year.  This year, the market will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The first farmers market in Olympia existed roughly from the 1910s to the 1930s. A 1912 article in the Olympia Recorder promoted the opening of an early public market:

Mayor Bridgford and members of the city council are confident (the public market) will be a great success and are trusting that the ranchers of the vicinity will be on hand with their supplies of vegetables and other farm products of all kids. It is the universal opinion that Olympia householders will patronize the market if the ranchers are in a position to supply their demands.

Much like the current incarnation of the market, early markets also had substantial official help from the city government.

These efforts continued through the 1930s when the supermarket trend finally swamped outdoor, direct to consumer farmer’s markets across the country.

olympia farmers market

Live music is a mainstay at the Olympia Farmers Market.

The effort to revive the Olympia Farmers Market first came in the early 1970s. There are various references to when the modern Farmers Market began. One points to the organization “Retired Senior Volunteer Program” jumpstarting the new market in 1973. Another points to four farmers selling produce at the old community center at Bethel and State in 1974. Yet another points to farmers at the Lacey Village shopping center in 1975.

By 1976, 50 farmers got together and set down roots for two years on 7th Avenue near Capitol Lake. This location was actually a sort of homecoming for the market. Forty years before, another public market featuring local farm products had been located in the same neighborhood.

In 1978, the market finally settled down, finding a home on Plum Street across the street from Olympia City Hall.

Even across city hall, popular with the community, with two covered market areas and 60 vendors, the market in the early 1980s was a somewhat neglected feature of the city.


From the Olympian:

olympia farmers market

More than 150 vendors sell fruits, vegetables, plants, and other homemade goodies at the Olympia Farmers Market.

…(the market) once found itself homeless when its lot was put up for sale.

When a ditch was dug through property used as parking for market patrons, the downtown around City Hall became choked with marketers searching for parking.

Tempers flared. An Olympia City Council member walking through the market was chided by vendors and patrons alike for not doing something to help the market.

And, if Olympia didn’t know what a good thing it had going with its downtown market, Tumwater and Lacey sure did. Both cities (and even the Port of Olympia) made bids to attract the market.

Eventually, a site on Capitol Way at A Avenue opened up in 1984.

During those first years at Capitol Way and A, the market operated between both Olympia and Lacey on alternating days. But, if Olympia was learning to start supporting the market (putting $110,000 into improvements into the market in 1984), Lacey was forgetting why it even sought the market.

camping meal ideas

Oakland Bay Farm’s Jason Dexter shows off strips of bacon for sale at their stand in the Olympia Farmers Market.

The Lacey version of the market migrated around the city. It went from a site on Sleater-Kinney to Pacific Avenue, eventually landing outside the city’s core at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. Constant movement eroded consumer support, and the Lacey market finally shuttered in 1989.

After another ten years at Capitol and A, the land was again sold out from underneath the market. The owners of Yard Birds put the land up for sale, and the market organizers looked just two blocks north for a new home.

The market’s new site at the north end of Capitol Way had historically been the home of two veneer plants, marking that place as the center of Olympia’s portside industrial history. But, those uses were nearly gone by the time the Farmers Market was shopping for a new home.

Moving quickly, the city council put a bond on the ballot to pay for a new home, but that effort failed when only 58 percent of the voters supported it. A 60 percent yes vote was needed to authorize new spending on the market. So, the council changed gears, and worked within their current budget to provide $850,000 for the market’s new home. The Port of Olympia (on whose land the new market sits) paid to prepare the site and paid $123,000 towards construction.

olympia farmers market

Food vendors supply even the littlest shoppers with yummy treats at the Olympia Farmers Market.

The impact of the market on the neighborhood was immediate. Anthony’s HomePort, a highly visible regional seafood restaurant, committed to opening a location next door once the market had signed its lease. Since opening, a new “Market District,” including retail shops, a restaurant and offices has opened across the street.

Today, the market itself is a thriving endeavor, welcoming more than 250,000 people each year across almost 150 vendors, with a gross sales of more than $5 million.

Olympia Farmers Market

700 Capitol Way N in downtown Olympia

From April to October, the market is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Free parking is available onsite or use Intercity Transit’s free DASH service to travel throughout downtown Olympia.

College Names Tanya Mote New SPSCC Foundation Director

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:30am



Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College

South Puget Sound Community College has named Tanya Mote the Interim Executive Director of the College Foundation. Mote joined the college in June 2014 bringing 20 years in nonprofit fundraising and administration. She previously served as the Foundation’s Director of Development.

“The College and the Foundation were fortunate to have someone with Tanya’s skills and talents perfectly situated to step into this position,” said President Timothy Stokes. “The move was seamless.  We haven’t missed a beat in the important work of supporting students’ journey through the college and on to a good life.”

The College Foundation Board of Directors also expressed their unanimous support for Mote’s move to the new post.

“I’m excited about this new role, the work ahead and the opportunity to work with our amazing Foundation board and staff to support student success,” Mote said. “I feel fortunate to do meaningful work that I love and for the support of the Foundation Board, Dr. Stokes and the college administration.”

Mote is a community college alumna.

The Foundation team will be further filled out by the new hire of Sandy Sinnett as Development Manager. Sinnett comes to the College with a background in marketing, events and community relations.

“Sandy will be a great addition to the Foundation team,” Mote said.

The South Puget Sound Community College Foundation maintains more than 150 active scholarships for students. Last year, it awarded more than $380,000 in local scholarships and emergency assistance to Thurston County residents.  The Foundation also funds activities in support of the college’s commitment innovation and excellence. For more information on the Foundation, visit


Olympia Family Theater Announces Spring After-School Drama Workshop

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:04am



Submitted by Olympia Family Theater 

OFT summer campOnly the best for the Emperor! The best food, the best horses, the best palaces. When two weavers arrive with silk so fine that only those with exquisite taste and refined judgment can see it, the Emperor demands all new clothes. The whole town seems to have exquisite taste and refined judgment… except one truth teller. Be always on the lookout for the next best thing.

Olympia Family Theater’s after school workshop is a 4-week long program where students are cast in an original production, this year “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, rehearse over the session, and put on a weekend of shows on our main-stage.

Olympia Family Theater is your community partner in raising imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children. This program provides opportunities for personal development for young people, teaching creativity and responsibility, encouraging teamwork and personal integrity, and fostering self-esteem and appreciation for the performing arts. Olympia Family Theater is committed to making theater education accessible by providing sliding scale tuition for this program.

The program is geared for children ages seven to thirteen and will be directed by Kate Ayers with Vanessa Postil as assistant director.

Schedule:  April 13-May 9, 4-6 p.m. (M-F)
Public Performances: May 7, 8, 9
Cost: $250 (sliding scale available)
Register online or use printable forms from our website here.

About Olympia Family Theater

Olympia Family Theater offers accessible children’s theater and programs that entertain and educate while stimulating dialogue and personal growth for young people, their families and the wider community.

Olympia Family Theater has been serving families in Thurston County and surrounding areas since 2006. We offer quality theatrical productions for the young and young at heart in a variety of settings, as well as educational programs for youth.

Olympia Family Theater has an amazing new location at 612 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia which includes a main stage theater with seating for 109.


WDFW Approves Morning Razor Clam Digs Starting April 4

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 10:45am



Submitted by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

razor clam digState shellfish managers have approved a weeklong series of razor clam digs starting April 4 at four ocean beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed the digs after marine toxin tests showed the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.

All of the digs are scheduled on morning tides. No digging will be allowed on any beach after noon.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers they will need a valid 2015-16 fishing license to participate in all upcoming razor clam digs, since the new license year begins April 1. Various types of fishing licenses are available online, by phone (866-246-9453), and from authorized license dealers throughout the state.

“The razor clams we’re seeing are really fattening up, and are perfect for the frying pan,” Ayres said.

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container

The upcoming dig is scheduled on the following dates, beaches, and low tides:

  • April 4, Saturday, 7:23 a.m.; 0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • April 5, Sunday, 7:57 a.m.; 0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • April 6, Monday, 8:32 a.m.; 0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • April 7, Tuesday, 9:09 a.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • April 8, Wednesday, 9:48 a.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • April 9, Thursday, 10:32 a.m.; 0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • April 10, Friday, 11:23 a.m.; 0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

WDFW has also proposed additional digs in April and May, pending the results of future marine toxin tests. Tentative dates for those digs are posted on the department’s website.

During all upcoming digs, state wildlife managers urge clam diggers to avoid disturbing snowy plovers and streaked horned larks. Both species nest in the soft, dry sand at Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula, and on a section of Twin Harbors beach.

The snowy plover is a small bird with gray wings and a white breast. The lark is a small bird with a pale yellow breast and brown back. Male larks have a black mask, breast band and “horns.” Both species are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.


Westport Winery Earns Best In Class At Capitol Food and Wine Festival

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 10:40am



Submitted by Westport Winery

Rapture of the Deep_Front_COLAWestport Winery earned three medals including a Best in Class at the 2015 Capitol Food and Wine Festival held on March 28, in Lacey, Washington.

Rapture of the Deep, Westport’s iconic sparkling cranberry wine, earned a gold medal and was named Best Fruit Wine at the event. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits Aberdeen’s Driftwood Theater.

Smoky Nor’wester earned gold medal. This wine is composed of 95% Sangiovese from Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA and 5% Petite Sirah from Jones Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. This wine benefits the Museum of the North Beach in Moclips.

Elk River Riesling won a bronze medal. These grapes also come from Red Willow Vineyard. This wine benefits the Twin Harbors Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Westport Winery’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the winery. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery and bakery are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Launch spring at the winery’s unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why Westport Winery was named Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.


O Bee Credit Union Offers $500 Prize Money to Yelm High School Students

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 10:37am



Submitted by O Bee Credit Union

Obee signO Bee Credit Union is offering a $500 first-place prize to a Yelm High School student as part of a contest to design the best image for O Bee’s new “Famous Yelm” debit card.

The contest will be administered through the Yelm High School ASB Office. Students may use original photography, sketches or other media to create the design. There is also a website where students may download an electronic template, then submit the design electronically. The design must include the word “Yelm,” and attempt to capture what Yelm means to the community.

“The City of Yelm has a distinct history and unique character all its own. We know that. There’s a lot of community pride in Yelm and who better than the high school students to capture the image that reflects that pride?” said Lee Wojnar, VP of Marketing at O Bee.

The winning design will be featured on the new “Famous Yelm” debit card which will be available at all O Bee branches in early summer. There will also be a $250 prize for the second place winner, and a $100 prize for the third place winner. Only the first place design will appear on the card. Currently O Bee offers special debit cards for the Olympia and Rainier communities, featuring iconic images from O Bee’s historic roots as the original credit union of the Olympia Brewery.

All entries are due by 3:00 pm on Friday, May 15, 2015 and must be submitted to the ASB Office at Yelm High School,
O Bee Credit Union’s Yelm Branch, or to Contest open only to Yelm High School students.

About O Bee Credit Union: O Bee Credit Union (The Olympia Brewing Co. Employees and Families Credit Union) is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year. It was started February 16, 1955, by Ted McGill, who worked in the bottle house of the brewery. This full service, non-profit credit union, owned by its members, has five branches located in Lacey, Tumwater, Tenino, West Olympia and Yelm. Membership is open to all Washington residents. Visit for more information about O Bee Credit Union.


Working to Keep Us Safe – Olympia Fire Prepares for Worst Case Scenarios

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 6:45am



By Laurie O’Brien

lucky eagleThere are a lot of things the majority of Thurston County citizens don’t think about very often. Among them is what we would do if our lives were put in danger as a routine part of our jobs.

olympia fire

Captain Jim Brown takes a group of OFD firefighters through a training on their new “Active Shooter” protocols.

For firefighters and law enforcement personnel, however, that situation is a daily reality. Taking it a step further, those same public servants are willing to step in and put themselves in harm’s way when those of us who don’t face it every day are put in life or death situations. In short, they often risk their own lives to help save ours.

With that in mind, Captain Jim Brown, Medical Services Officer for the Olympia Fire Department (OFD), has been working with the entire department as well as Thurston County law enforcement agencies to help roll out a new protocol for responding to worst case scenarios in our community.

The Rescue Task Force provides standard operating procedures for situations that call for a “Unified Command” of both Law Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) – situations in which there are multiple victims but in which an active shooter is still on the scene.

Although they are trained to fight fires, 80% of the calls the OFD responds to involve EMS. For this reason, all firefighters are certified Emergency Medical Technicians, and the department has 17 paramedics on staff as well. Any time they respond to a call, risk assessment must take place. If there are no victims, EMS personnel will not be sent into a hazardous environment. However, says Brown, if there is a known rescue, “… we’re willing to risk a lot for a lot. With the right gear, with the right approach, that’s part of what we do.”

oly fire training

Thirty new flak jackets equipped with medical supplies have been purchased.

Part of the roll out of the Rescue Task Force has been equipping the OFD with the right gear to operate in an Active Shooter Situation. Thirty new flak vests outfitted with medical supplies and evacuation tools have been purchased and are being distributed to each fire station.

Firefighter Shane Dobson, who worked as an infantry combat medic in active war zones, is helping train his coworkers to use the new tools available to them. “The only really good thing about being at war for 15 years is the progress in battlefield medicine,” says Brown. The military has figured out ways to treat victims in the field, minimizing risk to both patients and rescuers.

New tools like battlefield tourniquets can be used, keeping someone from bleeding out before they can be evacuated to a safe zone where they can be more fully treated.

The establishment of zones is one of the priorities of the Rescue Task Force. Brown and others have spent a lot of time studying active shooter situations in which multiple victims could have been saved if only EMS personnel had been able to get to them sooner.

The key to saving lives in these types of situations is making sure that Law Enforcement and Fire personnel work in tandem. In practice, this means that the OFD incident commander and the Law Enforcement incident commander (the ranking officers on site at any major situation) must establish a Unified Command, making sure they know which zones are “hot” (the situation is active and too dangerous for EMS personnel), which zones are “cold” (there is no imminent danger) and which zones are “warm.”

oly fire training

Shane Dobson helps train his fellow firefighters how to use battlefield tourniquet.

Under the new protocols, EMS can be escorted into warm zones established by Law Enforcement personnel. Wearing the proper protective gear and working with a dedicated security force – roughly four cops for every two EMS workers – the firefighters will be able to focus on doing their job. “We (EMS) still need to have situational awareness,” says Brown. But, he adds, when they know that Law Enforcement is dedicated to keeping them safe, his people can focus on getting in, triaging and evacuating patients and saving as many lives as possible. “They’ve got our backs and any threat that comes our way, they’re going to cover.”

Communication is the key, says Brown. In many situations, OFD and Law Enforcement work independently and only communicate via Emergency Dispatch (TCOMM). Establishing Unified Command is a relatively new concept and has been developing nationally as more major incidents involving both Fire Departments and Law Enforcement take place. In these situations it is imperative that information be relayed as effectively as possible. To Brown, Unified Command means that “… our (OFD) commander and their (Law Enforcement) commander are in the same place, communicating face to face, using the same language.” It’s a direct line of communication, he says. Nothing can be lost in translation with TCOMM.

oly fire training

Basic life support equipment can be carried by each EMS worker in a “warm zone.”

This change in the way things are done is being driven by Capital Metro – the combined Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater fire departments. Steve Brooks, Lacey’s Fire Chief, created the original protocols. Brown is helping implement them within the OFD and is serving as the liaison to the Olympia Police Department.

All other Fire and Police Departments in Thurston County as well as TCOMM have been given the protocols and will be adopting the same strategies.

Multiple Thurston County fire, medical, emergency management, public works, and law enforcement agencies will be participating in an Active Shooter Exercise on April 1, 2015 at South Puget Sound Community College. This drill will be the official roll out of the new protocols for the Olympia Fire Department.

Obviously active shooter and mass casualty incidents are worst case scenarios. Like most people, these types of situations are my worst nightmare. But, as a resident of this area, I rest easier knowing the people who need to are training to make sure they are prepared.


Yonatan Gat in Olmypia!

K Records - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:30am
Yonatan Gat is touring through the NW this week making a stop in Olympia to play a house show Thursday, April 2, at 1611 4th Ave. E. with the Philadelphia combo Sheer Mag and Olympia bands Vexx, Gag and Nasti. Could be a time.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thurston County's Oregon White Oak Preserve: Take A Walk on the Wild Side

Janine's Little Hollywood - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:51pm
 Above: Lacey residents Ruth Smith and Felicia Carroll witnessed this owl on November 11, 2013, about 300 feet into the woods from 27th Avenue SE. “We spotted the owl near the end of our walk. Ruth went home to get her camera and went back to take the picture!” said Carroll. Photo Courtesy of Ruth Smith.
By Janine Oak Tree Preserve LLC of Bellevue proposes to subdivide 258.5 acres of land in unincorporated Lacey into 1,037 single-family residential lots.

For many, the potential loss of Thurston County’s largest remaining stand of Oregon White Oak, just over 76 acres, and 177 total acres of wooded area, home to a wide range of animals and plants, would be a devastating environmental legacy.

Notification about the development's March 24 public hearing was sent out on March 9. Hundreds of homeowners in subdivisions who live along the site’s perimeter on Marvin Road, 19th Avenue SE, 27th Avenue SE, and Priority Street SE were not notified because they live outside of the required notification area of 300 feet, which is roughly the length of a football field. Prior to the public even being informed of renewed activity by the applicant, an environmental Mitigated Determination of Non Significance was issued by the county in December, 2014.

On March 4, county hearing examiner Sharon Rice threw out the nearby McAllister Park Homeowners Association State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeal on stormwater and oak habitat issues saying it “lacked standing.” On March 23, the Association dropped another SEPA appeal saying that stopping the Oak Tree Preserve development appeared virtually impossible to fight considering the cost to the association and the risks involved. In exchange, Association president Mark Quinn got assurances from the developer that traffic calming measures would be put in place in McAllister Park. Above: The proposed Oak Tree Preserve LLC development in Lacey is noticed (yellow sign) at the end of 27th Avenue SE. Due to the rolling topography, neighbors have a hard time visualizing how thousands of drivers will use the current streets and intersections.Oregon White Oak HabitatAccording to the application, 177.2 acres of trees, out of the 258.5 acres, will be cut. The proposed “mitigation” calls for the planting of one tree for every 4,000 square feet of lot.

The largest Oregon White Oak stand is 64.6 acres but also extends onto adjoining properties. Forty-five percent of the Oregon White Oak, considered by the applicant to be “degraded,” will be destroyed.Theresa Nation, habitat biologist for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, gave strong testimony about the Oregon White Oak grove at the preliminary plat hearing on March 24. Her written testimony comprises seven pages.

In the county’s response, its attorney rebuked Nation for her strong words, saying that “very seldom are we this far apart…” and criticized her for judging the project and the Habitat Management Plan (HMP) under the new county Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO). She was cross examined at length by the applicant. In part, Nation stated:

“…Significant and avoidable impacts to Oregon white oak habitat have not been addressed. We respectfully recommend that the Office of the Hearing Examiner reject the habitat management plan….”
“Oregon white oak is the only oak species native to Washington. Some individuals of this slow-growing species may live for up to 500 years. Trees typically do not begin producing acorns until they are about 20 years old. Mature oak woodlands are virtually impossible to replace once they are gone. Oak woodlands provide a distinct ecosystem that contributes to wildlife diversity statewide. They are used by more than 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The woodlands provide feeding, breeding, resting and sheltering habitat. Many invertebrates...are found exclusively in association with this oak species. Oak habitat in Washington may play a critical role in the conservation of neotropical migrant birds that migrate through or nest in Oregon white oaks.
“The Oak Tree Preserve project as proposed would result in the permanent destruction of 35.6 acres of oak woodlands. This includes the total loss of two distinct habitat areas. The 64.6-acre stand would be reduced by more than a third (24.0 acres). It would become a divided 38.3-acre preserve area and a disconnected 2-acre park. The outright loss of more than 35 acres of Oregon white oak woodland is by far the primary impact to this critical area. It is an impact of enormous proportions not only for the site, but for all oak woodland habitat in Thurston County. The HMP fails to address the gross impacts of the loss.
“The preserve area would be further degraded by the construction of the main collector road directly through it. Road-related impacts include but may not be limited to direct wildlife mortality and an increase in adverse edge effects. Over time, some oaks along the roadway are likely to be declared hazard trees and subsequently removed. This is a particularly problematic occurrence in oaks because snags and dead portions of live oaks provide important habitat for invertebrates and birds.”
The HMP offers a conceptual plan for compensatory mitigation activities. We find that the plan falls egregiously short of the mitigation needs for this project. The primary focus of the plan is to apply enhancement actions to the retained woodlands. Enhancement activities, even if successful, will not compensate for the permanent loss of almost 36 acres of habitat. The entire coverage of the woodlands carries a high value even in its somewhat degraded state. Indeed, attempting mitigation for the proposed level of impact would be extraordinarily complicated, time-consuming and expensive, with an uncertain outcome at best. WDFW experts familiar with this case are in agreement that it is likely impossible....”
Above: These spectacular Oregon White Oak trees on Oak Tree Preserve LLC's land in Thurston County are in danger of being destroyed.  Take A Walk on the Wild Side Ruth Smith, a retired nurse, and Felicia Carroll, a state worker, live near the proposed development and attended the plat hearing last week but, caught unprepared and uncertain of what to say, did not provide oral testimony. They are long time friends and with many other neighbors, walk the acreage, which contains many well-worn trails, and appreciate its beauty on a near daily basis. 
 Through the years, they have witnessed owls, coyote, pileated woodpecker, bear, deer, fox, snakes, newts and more. They’ve identified a wide range of flora and fauna, learning their names and have learned when to expect the first blossoms and critters.
During a walk through the woodlands on Saturday, they stepped over a wandering newt, excitedly pointed out new buds, and lamented the tenacity of Scot’s Broom, a noxious weed. They also expressed disappointment that the Oak Tree Preserve LLC habitat wildlife biologist, Curtis Wambach, only came to the property three times to make his formal observations, devoting just one day each on prairie plants, the Western Gray Squirrel, and the Mazama Gopher.

As he testified at the March 24 plat hearing, Wambach said he only observed facilitative species on the property, meaning species that would occur on the site, developed or not.   One day last spring, Carroll says she encountered the biologist on the trail who warned her that he had seen a big cat, perhaps a cougar or mountain lion, up ahead laying on a tree branch, looking down at him.
 Carroll, who attended the hearing, said she was waiting to hear Wambach mention this sighting in his report to the hearing examiner, but he did not.
  Above: Ruth Smith, left, and Felicia Carroll look at a shrub of Red-flowering Currant, or Ribes sanguineum, one of South Puget Sound's most prized native species and a magnet for the returning Rufous Hummingbird and other pollinators, which were in abundance on the Oak Tree Preserve property on Saturday. Neighbors of the area appreciate the acres of natural habitat.
After our walk through the woodlands, neighbor William Koopman, who also attended the hearing, said:

“It is critically unfortunate that the largest housing development to be built in Thurston County is slated to consume one its last and largest forests....The loss of this habitat is irrevocable. Once it is gone, it will be gone forever. Surely, these trees are worth saving.”Carroll agreed, and said she heard a number of people at the hearing mention that the goal is to achieve a balance.  “Given the amount of development in our general area in recent years and the amount of forest we have already lost due to development, in my eyes, we would best achieve balance by leaving what's left of the forest as is. I am hoping for a Hail Mary pass - I would love it if we could develop a coalition of private citizens, various levels of government, and a few nonprofit groups to band together to offer to buy the property from the owner.  The woods are well loved by a number of people in the various developments nearby. Maybe offer a tax credit or find some other ways of making it palatable for the owner.  I'm hoping for a miracle.  Losing that forest and all of its inhabitants would be like losing a dear friend,” Carroll said.

Mobilized to act by what they heard at the hearing, and given the extended deadline for written public comment, Smith and Carroll and several other neighbors have started a petition at which will be submitted to the hearing examiner as public comment. The image used to illustrate the petition is a White Fawn Lily, Erythronium oregonum, located on Oak Tree Preserve LLC property.

Public comment for the proposed development was extended until 4:00 p.m., Friday, April 3.  Written comment may be sent to Cami Petersen, Land Use Clerk, Resource Stewardship Department, Thurston County Office of the Hearing Examiner, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Building One, Second Floor, Olympia, WA 98502. Refer to Case: #2009103087.For more information about the proposed Oak Tree Preserve development and hearing materials from March 24, go to or contact Cami Petersen at or (360) 754-2933.A previous article about the Oak Tree Preserve development is dated March 24, 2015 is at Little Hollywood,

Above: Close-up of Red-flowering Current

Orca Books author reading: Elana Freeland presents the conclusion of the Sub Rosa America series

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 7:33pm
Event:  Sat, 04/04/2015 - 3:00pm

Olympia author Elana Freeland will read from the fifth and final book in her Sub Rosa America series, "From Trinity to Trinity". This is a FREE event at Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E. in downtown Olympia. 

Told from the perspective of 2019, when all the Earth is convulsing and the United States of America is collapsing due either to Nature taking back her own, or to a HAARP-driven error, or to a purposeful Tesla sabotage to force a new beginning, Sub Rosa America is the occult history of the United States since November 22, 1963, a history we all could have read years ago as the Mayan chronicler wrote it if we’d been on Route 66 cruising through a quantum Time field, en route to where President John F. Kennedy was shot down like a dog . . . Book V, “From Trinity to Trinity”—the final push through Time to Dallas—begins with “Conspiracy Theory Opera #3” playing to an audience of dead and dreaming scientists in Oscuro and continues to Trinity Site and Ground Zero where a UFO hovers and observes the pilgrims. Once they cross from New Mexico into Texas, chaos ensues and the magical mystery tour is tractor-beamed into the Lone Pentacle state and Bloody Elm Street where the Killing of the King is still tape-looping. Only the Mayan Timekeeper can barely hold the balance by which an alternate future might be levered. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Judy Bardin Campaign Kick-off April 2!

K Records - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 1:41pm
Judy Bardin is a friend who has decided to run for Olympia City Council position 2, the seat being vacated by Steve Langer. Judy has worked on City Council advisory boards including the Utility Advisory Board and Planning Commission, for which she received the Key Award by the Washington Coalition for Open Government in 2014. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

After the US Open this summer, Pierce County will still be $17 million in debt over the golf course

Olympia Time - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 5:57am
About a year ago, I took a crack at figuring out how much economic sense the US Open at Chambers Bay this summer made.

Overall, the academic research, finds little evidence that large tournaments (like the Olympics) make economic sense to local communities. They're a loss leader. You pay to have them to bolster your reputation, not because you're going to make money.

But, golf tournaments are different apparently. This is because golf tournaments don't usually mean a community had to build a brand new golf tournament to host a major tournament.

In the case of Pierce County, Chambers Bay and the US Open, this is not what happened.

In fact, the Chambers Bay course was built specifically for the US Open:
The golfing world was stunned in 2008, when the United States Golf Association (USGA) made Chambers Bay the host of the U.S. Open. It just didn’t make sense. Only the most prestigious and hallowed courses were picked to host the national championship.

No course built in the previous 45 years had hosted an Open, yet Chambers Bay was picked after being open for about eight months.  This was no fluke, though. It was years in the making...This makes the Chambers Bay course more like an Olympic Stadium, leaving the county saddled with debt for the foreseeable future. It was only in the last few years that the course started paying for itself.

But, despite running in the black, the course still built up a fairly massive debt that it is yet to pay off.

The chart on page 44 of this document shows the various ways Piece County has built up debt throughout its budget.

Even after paying off more than half a million in Chambers Bay Golf Course debt this year, the county will still be in the hole $17 million on the course.

And, even from the county's own (self proclaimed conservative) model, the county budget will only see a $600,000 bump in taxes this year because of the U.S. Open. The vast majority of the additional taxes paid here because of the U.S. Open will go to other counties and the state:

  • The State of Washington: nearly $6.5 million 
  • King County: $2 million
  • City of Tacoma: more than $440,000 
  • The cities of DuPont, Lakewood, Puyallup, Fife and Gig Harbor: a combined $153,000

Phil Petersen Provides Quality Repairs for Common Home Inspection Issues

Thurston Talk - Sun, 03/29/2015 - 6:00am



By Kate Scriven

olympia home repair

Phil Petersen specializes in home repair projects and small remodeling jobs.

I had a broken attic truss, an unsecured water heater, missing GFCI outlets in my kitchen, a window with a broken seal and missing CO2 monitors. These were the findings of the home inspection ordered by the buyer of my home 18 months ago.

My first thought? YES! The roof was fine, no pest damage was detected and no water damage was found. My second thought? How am I going to get these things fixed quickly in order to close the sale? I had a job, volunteer positions, kids to shuttle to soccer, and a new home construction project to manage. I needed help.

It’s a situation so many homeowners find themselves in during a real estate transaction. Inspection reports nearly always find a few things to fix. Some you can tackle on your own like adding CO2 monitors. Others, a handy neighbor can complete with some borrowed tools, like strapping in the water heater. And many require expertise that most homeowners just don’t have. When under the time crunch to close the deal, and knowing you need the work done right the first time, it’s time to turn to a professional – someone who is familiar with inspection reports, knows the common inspection issues and can remedy them quickly.

For local home inspector Dwayne Boggs and his team at Boggs Inspection Services, that go-to guy is Phil Peterson of Petersen’s Affordable Home Repair. Petersen specializes in home repair projects and small remodeling jobs and has been working with the Boggs team for over eight years. He has read his fair share of inspection reports in his 20 plus years in the business and he knows a good one when he sees it.

olympia home repair

Dwayne Boggs, owner of Boggs Inspection Services, refers homeowners to Petersen’s Affordable Home Repair.

“I’ve read all different types of inspection reports,” Petersen shares. “I typically call inspectors to clarify a few things as I prepare to make the repairs. When I started working with Boggs Inspection Services, I called to compliment them on the clarity of their reports, instead.”

It’s the consistent clarity and concise information in a Boggs Inspection Services report that set the inspection team apart for real estate agents as well as construction professionals like Petersen. “I probably had 35 referrals and phone calls from Dwayne before I ever met him face-to-face,” he recalls. “We agreed to final meet because we just both approach business in the same way and as we expected, we hit it off right away.”

Petersen grew his construction business from the ground up after several years waiting tables. “Working in restaurants really prepared me to deliver good service to my construction clients,” Petersen explains. He knew that listening to customers and delivering high quality service resulted in a better tip at the end of a meal. He applies the same philosophy to his construction customers, providing responsive, reliable and dependable service every time.

“Phil remains at the top of my list [for contractor referral] for a few simple reasons,” says Boggs. “He is very personable and professional. He always gets back to the client in a timely manner and he shows up at the time he says he will, which is very rare these days.”

The admiration goes both ways. Petersen loves working a job following behind a Boggs Inspection Services report. “The inspection reports generated by the Boggs team are easy to read, clear, detailed, and ultimately make my job easier and faster, saving homeowners money in the process,” shares Petersen.

olympia home repair

Petersen’s Affordable Home Repair can typically schedule jobs within a week of the first call.

The types of repairs Petersen sees run the gamut from simple fixes like securing a loose handrail or addressing a trip hazard like a missing floor transition, to complex repairs involving water or pest damage. “I try to get on it quickly and typically can schedule a job within a week of the first call,” he says. And in real estate deals, time is always a factor and having reliable repairs done quickly can make a big difference.

“I have worked with Phil for over eight years now and have never gotten a complaint about his work or his interaction with the client,” says Boggs. “As professionals, I feel we both stand behind our work. Phil has gone behind my inspections and done very simple repairs to resolving complicated moisture issues that take time to figure out and repair correctly. He’s not just about a short term fix. He wants his work to last which is one of the main reasons I trust him.”

The team of Boggs Inspection Services and Petersen’s Affordable Home Repair add up to professional, reliable, and quality service that homeowners can rely on. Whether you are selling, buying or just want to know the current status of your home, an inspection with Boggs Inspection Services partnered with repair work by Phil Petersen will give you piece of mind and quality repairs that will last.

You can reach Boggs Inspection Services at 360-480-9602 and Petersen Affordable Home Repair at 360-888-5081.

Underwater Exploration Technologies: The History and Science

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 03/28/2015 - 12:45pm
Event:  Sat, 06/27/2015 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

From diving bells to remote-controlled submarines, and from the first aqualung to the first habitable underwater laboratory, the ways we explore the deep sea are constantly improving. Hear some stories of early innovations, immerse yourself in the world of pioneering aquanauts, and see how submarines are being used scientifically here in Puget Sound! Presentation begins at 2 p.m. with underwater arts and crafts all day long!

The WET Science Center is always free to visit! We are located at 500 Adams St. NE Olympia, WA 98501 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Father’s Day Cards

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 03/28/2015 - 12:44pm
Event:  Sat, 06/20/2015 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

Treat dad or any special guy to a personalized card. We’ll provide all the art supplies and some examples to get you started. Handmade cards make the perfect gifts for all dads!


The WET Science Center is always free to visit! We are located at 500 Adams St. NE Olympia, WA 98501 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

The Sea Monster--from Myth to Modernity

OlyBlog Home Page - Sat, 03/28/2015 - 12:42pm
Event:  Sat, 06/13/2015 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

The Leviathan, mermaids, the Kraken, and Jaws – all of these mythical creatures are known for big bites or dangerous allure, but they’re also very misunderstood. The truth is that many sea creature myths are based on real aquatic organisms – join us to find out the truth behind each legend! After a short presentation at 2 p.m., we will host a Create-a-Creature workshop where you will design your own Puget Sound-inspired marine legend!


The WET Science Center is always free to visit! We are located at 500 Adams St. NE Olympia, WA 98501 logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like
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