Recent local blog posts

Olympia Police Shooting of Two Men: No Charges for Officer; Men Charged with Assault

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:58pm

Above: Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts provides a brief statement at Olympia City Hall today following Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim's findings about the police officer involved shooting of two men on May 21.

Ad Hoc Committee Set To Next Meet on September 9
By Janine
Today, Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim released his findings about the Olympia police officer involved shooting of two African American men that occurred May 21st.
His decision and a statement today from Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts are both on the City of Olympia website at  
Tunheim’s review of the case in which Olympia police office Ryan Donald shot Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson is available at
Tunheim concluded that the officer’s actions were justified and he did not act in bad faith or with malice. 
“While I have spent many hours examining and analyzing this evidence, Officer Donald had only seconds prior to each shooting event to make the decision to use deadly force. In fact, the radio traffic demonstrates conclusively that only a matter of seconds passed between Donald's first call about spotting the suspects and the first shots fired call. The remaining events unfolded in just under three minutes....”
The two men have been charged with assault.
“There is sufficient admissible evidence to believe that a reasonable fact finder could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Chaplin and Thompson committed the crime of Assault in Second Degree on Officer Donald and of Assault in the 4th degree on the Safeway employee,” says the report's review. 
Charges have been filed and summons’ issued. Arraignment is set for Tuesday, September 22.
Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts held a press conference at Olympia City Hall two hours after the release of Tunheim's report. In his comments, which lasted about five minutes, Roberts said that the Olympia Police Department will now begin an internal review of the incident to determine whether the actions of Officer Donald violated any department policies and procedures.
The shooting review team will be comprised of Deputy Chief Steve Nelson, Lieutenant Aaron Jelcick, Deputy City Attorney Darren Nienaber, Edward Prince, Executive Director for the Commission on African American Affairs, and a designated police guild representative.
“The review team will convene as soon as can be scheduled with a goal of completing their work within two weeks. We will immediately release the results of this review once it is concluded,” said Roberts.
Karen Johnson of The Black Alliance of Thurston County handed out a statement at the press conference. It states, in part:
“This is indeed a sad day for those of us who believe in justice for all....Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim’s decision announced today is lawful, yet unjust. It reflects the warped and unfair system design that we have mobilized to change. We are disappointed by the prosecutor’s decision, yet we are not surprised by it.
“The upcoming internal review process led by the Olympia Police Department basically requires law enforcement officers to sit in judgment of each other. This does not provide the public with true police accountability. It is time to change the relevant laws, rules, and civil service procedures governing police conduct. It is time for independent oversight and review of police conduct in cases where excessive use of force may have occurred.”
According to the release, The Black Alliance of Thurston County is committed to building trust and promoting fair and impartial policing in Thurston County. Chief Roberts referred to the group as one that he has been meeting with over the last few weeks.
“We have had difficult, honest and productive conversation about institutional bias in the criminal justice system, educational systems and other governmental services. These conversations have generated several actionable steps that can be taken to demonstrate OPD’s commitment to bias free policing….” said Roberts.
For more information on The Black Alliance of Thurston County, email
Full Circle United, a community group involved in providing financial assistance to the two men shot and their families, invites the community to speak out about the prosecutor's decision. The group will meet at the corner of State Street and Cherry St in downtown Olympia at 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening. 
“This event is solely for amplifying the voices of black people in this community. We are asking that individuals who identify as black or African-American and feel comfortable addressing crowds please come prepared to speak up.
“Others are invited and encouraged to come participate, and must understand that their role in supporting us is to LISTEN,” says the notice.
Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations
The next meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations will be September 9, 5:00 p.m., with the location still to be announced.
The city is off to a poor start in terms of transparency and bringing the public along in the process of this group.
As of this writing, the city website page for the Ad Hoc Committee still lists the August 26 meeting, its first meeting, and does not yet mention the September 9 meeting, nor is it listed on the city calendar. It is listed on the city’s meeting schedule at
The meeting date was mentioned by Mayor Stephen Buxbaum in his council report at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
The group’s second meeting was actually scheduled for September 2, but postponed. The upcoming meeting is a work session for the committee to decide on a future schedule and community outreach techniques. 
Yesterday, Little Hollywood requested the city email addresses for the committee members, which are not yet listed on the city website. On August 18, Mayor Buxbaum said that individual committee members would have city email addresses.
Today, Kandace Johnson, secretary for the Olympia Police Department, and staff to the committee wrote: 

“….I have had other requests regarding the committee member emails and I am looking into whether I can release that or not and will get back to you.  This is the central inbox for the committee and any information sent here will be distributed to the committee members.”
For now, the email address for public comment and reaching committee members is

For past articles about the Olympia Police Department, the shooting of Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson, body cameras, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations, go to Little Hollywood,, and type key words into the search engine. 

Westport Winery Joins Peace Pole Project

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 6:30pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

Peace pole project Westport wineryWestport Winery will reveal eight Peace Poles as part of the World Peace Day celebration on Monday, September 21, in their new Beauty From Ashes Garden. Each of the poles includes the phrase “May Peace Prevail On Earth”.

With assistance from Cowlitz tribal leader Roy Wilson, the winery has one pole’s message translated into the coastal Salish language. This one reads “Kloshe spose kloshe tumtum tolo kopa illahee.”

The Peace Pole Project is an effort dedicated to visualizing and praying for world peace. There are thousands of these poles around the world in over 180 countries. This is the largest installation of its kind on the Washington Coast.

Each of the poles in this effort was hand-painted by winery co-owner, Kim Roberts. In creating these poles Roberts has inscribed inspirational quotes in addition to the messages of peace. “I’ve always gained great wisdom through the words of those who have gone before us.” Her favorites include words from John F. Kennedy to Dr. Seuss, and from Steve Jobs to Henry David Thoreau, who said, “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.

This garden’s premise comes from a bible verse (Isaiah 61:3) which suggests everyone goes through challenges and sometimes failure in their lives. It is each person’s opportunity then to find something positive from that experience.

The garden is a series of circles, each interconnected with the next, including plants and products that have been resurrected from failure. This includes hundreds of yards of bark from the closed Grays Harbor Paper Mill, recycled pallet furniture, a horseshoe sphere, and even nursery plants crushed in the recent wind storm. One sculpture by Beau Finley is carved from soap stone from the Aberdeen High School fire.

Formerly an architect, Roberts said, “As I designed this garden I was constantly considering ways to inspire while using items that had seemingly finished serving their purpose. To me, it’s somewhat of a metaphor for what happens to us as we age.”

Even the land itself is a lesson in overcoming failure. “We originally planted grapes in this block. Once we recognized they were not the right crop we planted raspberries, which also failed to thrive. In just the year since this area was dedicated to gardens the land has shown that it’s the right choice. We really are creating beauty from ashes.”

When you visit Westport Winery Garden Resort be sure to explore the 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 four times this has been voted Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.

These award-winning wines are exclusively available at the resort. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and gardens, 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 Garden Resort at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at


Local Cleaning Company Wants Your Dust

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 3:11pm



Submitted by Drew Freemantle for Maid Perfect

Maid Perfect's tools of the trade to keep your house dust free.

Maid Perfect’s tools of the trade to keep your house dust free.

“To dust or not to dust, that is the question”. Dusting can become a second priority because of our busy lives in today’s society.  It can become challenging sometimes to just get the dishes done and pick up around the house. Yet we remain frustrated because our home is not as clean as we would really like it to be, if we only had the time. So dusting is thrown by the wayside along with a whole other list of things we would like to do.

What is dust?

There are two kinds of dust, indoor and outdoor . Outdoor dust contains just about anything that can be broken down into small bits and transported through the air such as pollen, allergens, sand, dirt and mold spores. Indoor dust contains lint from rugs, pet dander, hair and other household items. Dust gives modern pollutants something to stick to and the average house can accumulate up to 40lbs of dust per year. So dusting is good for your health and also makes your home look great.

What are the tools of the trade?

There are many different  varieties of dusting devices you can use. Here are a few that Maid Perfect uses.

Dusting Tool Benefits Microfiber clothes Designed to hold large amounts of dust, washable, great for general dusting. Swiffers (short & long) Designed to attract dust, great for hard to reach areas Telescoping dusting poles Great for tall ceilings, skylights and anything really high up Multi-surface cleaners Work well for caked on dust

Is there a correct method for dusting?

At Maid Perfect we recommend to chose the proper tool for the job and dust left to right, top to bottom. By doing this you won’t miss anything and it stirs up less dust.

These are the most commonly missed areas when dusting:

  • Baseboards

    Extension dusters clean hard to reach places.

    Extension dusters clean hard to reach places.

  • Ceiling fans
  • Lampshades
  • Blinds
  • Tops of cabinets
  • Under nick knacks
  • Vents
  • Window tracks

Helpful tips: 

Use furniture oil sparingly because overuse can lead to a buildup and make it difficult to dust later.

Dust about one to two times per month is usually all you need.

Regular dusting of blinds can prevent more work later or even replacement.

Lack of dusting can damage furniture.

Maid Perfect specializes in Residential and Commercial cleaning for the Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater areas we are licensed, insured and all of our employees are background checked. We look forward to helping you. Bids are always free.

Call 360-402-6248 to schedule an appointment or visiti us online at


Professor, Author Tanya Erzen Speaks at Harvie Social Justice Lecture

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 2:40pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Tanya Erzen will speak at the Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series.

Tanya Erzen will speak at the Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series on September 25.

Tanya Erzen, a writer and professor whose work focuses on American religion with particular interests in American conservatism, ethnography and critical prison studies, will launch the 10th year of the Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture series as guest speaker September 25. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in Harned Hall #110, located on the Saint Martin’s University campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE.

Erzen, associate research professor of religion, and gender and queer studies at the University of Puget Sound and a 2013 Soros Justice Media Fellow, will speak on “God in Captivity: Punishment and Redemption in America’s Faith-Based Prisons.” Based on her forthcoming book from Harvard University Press, Erzen will address questions that arise when considering contemporary, faith-based prison programs that operate under the logic that religious conversion and redemption will transform prisoners into new human beings.

Her talk will focus on several issues: Why are Christian prison ministries on the rise amidst an increasingly punitive system of mass incarceration? How do people in prison practice religion in a space of coercion and discipline? What are the implications of the state’s promotion of Christianity over other religious traditions in some prisons? How do faith-based programs enable individual transformation? And, why have conservative Christians, particularly, embraced criminal justice reform?

Her first book, “Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement” (California, 2006), received the Ruth Benedict Prize and the Gustave O. Arlt award. Erzen also authored “Fanpire: The Religion of Twilight” (Beacon Press, 2012) and is co-editor of “Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City” (NYU, 2001). She is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Open Society foundations and Hedgebrook Writer in Residency.

Erzen is also executive director of the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, an organization that provides college classes to women in Washington prisons and seeks to educate the public about educational access and incarceration.

The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created by Saint Martin’s University Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s.

For more information, contact Robert Hauhart at 360-438-4525 or


Capitol Forest Hosts 2015 Cascadia Dirt Cup

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 1:46pm



The Cascadia Dirt Cup  paired up with the Friends Of Capitol Forest to expand their annual Super-D race into a full weekend event.  The two-day racing weekend featured the XC race on Saturday and the enduro on Sunday making it one of the best grassroots events in our region.


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A Big Move for a Piece of I.P. Callison and Chehalis History

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 8:03am



Submitted by Sandstone Distillery

IP Callison stills, seen here in production, circa 1960, are being re-purposed by John Bourdon of Sandstone Distillery.

I.P. Callison stills, seen here in production, circa 1960, are being re-purposed by John Bourdon of Sandstone Distillery.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable. – Christopher Reeve

This Friday, a piece of local history will be not only preserved but improbably re-purposed and given a vibrant new life in a strange and unlikely venue.

I.P. Callison & Sons of Chehalis, WA, founded in 1903 and a long-time world leader in the production of high-quality mint oils, has partnered with John Bourdon of the upstart Sandstone Distillery to breathe new life into a piece of history otherwise destined for the scrap heap.

Bourdon, seen here inspecting the historic still-condenser, will modify it for use at Sandstone Distillery.

Bourdon, seen here inspecting the historic still-condenser, will modify it for Sandstone Distillery.

Bourdon, a 25 year resident of Tenino, transitioned two years ago from ownership of a successful trucking and logistics company to realizing his own improbable dream of opening a distillery. Using almost entirely re-purposed equipment, including stills fashioned from old Navy soup kettles, Bourdon has a bent for sustainable, renewable business practices that include honoring and incorporating local history in the production of his spirits.  He first heard of the fate of the giant percolating/condensing vessel at I.P. Callison in early summer and knew it was an opportunity to blend the vessel’s long local history with the ethos of Sandstone Distillery. “The still just begs bourbon and whiskey production,” says Bourdon. “It will take a lot of hard work to bring it up to speed, but I see it being a huge part of our future growth.”

The Bourdons, it seems, are no strangers to hard work.  Upon seeing the 65-year old condensing still that will soon make its home at Sandstone, Bourdon’s wife and business partner, Jenni remarked, “it’s funny, but our blessings are generally disguised as a lot of hard work.”

The condenser was actually used by I.P. Callison to produce pharmaceutical-grade cascara bark essence, an irony not lost on Bourdon.  “Well, we thought the still was used to produce mint oil, but it turns out it was used to make laxative powder.”

John Bourdon and his son, Justin, serve as co-distillers at Sandstone Distillery.

John Bourdon and his son, Justin, serve as co-distillers at Sandstone Distillery.

Extricating the vessel from I.P. Callison’s National Avenue plant in Chehalis will mean literally cutting a hole in the roof of their factory to remove the still with an overhead crane. This is scheduled to take place early Friday morning, September 4, and will entail shutting down a busy part of National Avenue.

Sandstone Distillery will move the still in two sections, the nearly 2000-gallon copper and oak-lined tank and the giant copper condenser, to their facility on Wright Rd in Tenino. Once outfitted, the still is expected to quadruple the production of whiskey and bourbon at the distillery. Sandstone currently produces Vodka, Whiskey, Gin, Black Gin, and a variety of vapor-infused Vodkas.

For more information about Sandstone Distillery you can visit them online, on their Facebook page, or follow them on Instagram at @sandstonedistillery.


Dry Tikes & Wet Wipes Provides Diapers for Families in Need

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 7:00am



By Heidi Smith

Alley Oop LogoAsk any new parent where a significant portion of their money goes and they’ll tell you, diapers cost a lot. And, when you have an infant or toddler, having a consistent supply of diapers isn’t optional.  So what do families do when money is tight and it’s a choice between rent or diapers?  Dinner or diapers? Luckily, one local man is trying to help families when times are tight so they don’t have to make that tough choice.

Lance Benson rents an office space on Eastside Street and 11th Avenue SE where families in need of diapers can drop by.

Lance Benson rents an office space on Eastside Street and 11th Avenue SE where families in need of diapers can drop by.

“People don’t realize how expensive they are,” says Lance Benson, owner of Dry Tikes & Wet Wipes a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Olympia with the mission of helping low income families with supplementary diapers. “A friend of mine went to Costco recently to pick up some diapers and walked out $150.00 later. If you go to Target or Safeway and buy those little packs of ten or fifteen, you’re paying top dollar for them. People forget. For parents, they are a necessity.”

Benson started the non-profit organization to help low-income families fill a need he saw every day in his role as a property manager. Benson would regularly see tenants struggling to pay their rent, many of whom had small children. “That’s where I started seeing the need,” he says. “If they’re already struggling and have children, normally they don’t have diapers.” As the father of a five-year old, he sympathized and initially, he would donate diapers to the families himself.

Benson grew up in a family of six brothers and two sisters and has young children of his own. He knows the importance of having a supply of diapers in the house.

Benson grew up in a family of six brothers and two sisters and has young children of his own. He knows the importance of having a supply of diapers in the house.

Later, as he considered opening another business, Benson experienced a brief war between his head, insisting on creating something profitable, and his heart. The heart won. “One day I said, ‘I’m going to do something that will help people with their diaper problem.  It won’t make any money and I’ll probably actually go in the hole every month, but it will help people.’”

Having made his decision, Benson went through the arduous process of gaining non-profit status, making any donations tax deductible. “It took a few months to go through the application process,” he says. “It’s a huge book of paperwork that you send in and they send back more. Once it was up and running, I didn’t know how to get the word out that, ‘Hey, I’m here if someone needs some diapers.’”

It was at this point that he connected with the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Member Services representative Martha Wagner recommended he visit Safeplace. “They started sending people my way,” he says. “In the beginning, I was getting one or two people a week or every other week, but now I get two or three people a day. Sometimes I’ll have six people in one day.”

Every month he provides diapers of all sizes to parents who are out of options, including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault referred through Safeplace. “I’m just really grateful that he’s there,” says Amy Heller, Residential Services Program Coordinator at Safeplace. “There’s been a lack of resources in the community for diapers, so it’s pretty awesome to see someone notice that and try to do something about it.”

Heller has visited Benson’s office several times. “Every time, there’s been a line of women and kids just waiting,” she shares.

While the demand has increased, community support is not yet keeping pace. Currently, Benson rents a small office on Eastside Street and 11th Avenue SE across from Saint Michael Parish, where families can pick up diapers and local businesses and individuals can make donations of diapers and wet wipes. Now that the word has spread about Dry Tikes & Wet Wipes service there are often not enough diapers to supply everyone who needs assistance.  “The hard part is when someone comes in and I have to say, ‘I don’t have that size. I’m sorry,’” he shares. “They walk away upset and it makes me upset too, because I feel like I should be able to provide this. Sometimes I spend my own money, but I don’t want to have to do that.”

Several local businesses allow Benson to leave new diaper donation containers at their offices to encourage community support.

Several local businesses allow Benson to leave new diaper donation containers at their offices to encourage community support.

One regular donor is Benson’s dentist, Dr. Yathi Lingam of Olympia Smiles. Every month, his office donates bulk packages of diapers and wet wipes. “The need is there and Lance is doing awesome work,” says Lingam, whose practice specializes in laser treatment of lip and tongue-tie in infants, a condition that makes breastfeeding painful for mothers. “It doesn’t cost much. Everyone can do their part,” he says.

“All of my diaper donations come through word of mouth,” says Benson. “My eye doctor contributes, several day cares have contributed and I’ve also put out diaper bins at local businesses.”

Occasionally, people ask him about reusable diapers rather than disposable ones. While he agrees on their value, he doesn’t think they are a good fit for the niche he’s filling. “They’re extremely expensive,” he explains. “For a 6-pack they’re $150.” For now, Dry Tikes & Wet Wipes will stick with disposables.

With the increased demand, he says, more community support would make all the difference.  “If people want to help, it would be helping find resources where I can gather donations. The bottom line is, I need more diapers. I’m getting calls from more people who are referring their clients to me. I’m just this small person, but I feel like it could get a little bigger and supply more families.”

If you would like to help Benson’s mission to fill the gaps for local families with little ones by donating diapers or wipes to Dry Tikes & Wet Wipes, contact Lance Benson at 360-584-8684, email him at, or visit the non-profit on Facebook.









Thriving at Home: FirstLight HomeCare’s 8 Clues Your Parents Need Help at Home

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 6:00am



Submitted By Sarah Lane for FirstLight HomeCare

FirstLight Home Care

There are many signs and clues that your loved one needs help at home.

For some, the decline is slow in coming.  For others, change seems to occur quickly.  Either way, nearly every family eventually has to address a complicated and sensitive situation:  An aging parent or relative who needs help to safely remain living at home.

So how can you know when an aging family member begins needing assistance with the daily activities of life? Your loved one is not likely to tell you. Older adults will often go to great lengths to maintain the appearance of normalcy and self-sufficiency.  And things might even seem normal on the surface.

Do you know how to distinguish the reality from appearance?  Focus on these eight clues:

  1. Cluttered Home.  Are there piles of old laundry or dirty dishes?  Is the home becoming dusty or overly cluttered?  Are floors, toilets, showers and countertops visibly unclean?  To ensure the home remains safe, assistance with basic routines like cleaning and laundry might be needed.
  2. Little or Expired Food. Is there a lack of groceries or fresh, nutritious foods?  Is there expired or spoiled food in the refrigerator or cupboards?  Help might be needed with grocery shopping, meal menus or food preparation to ensure proper nutrition, especially important for seniors.
  3. Disorganized Medications. It’s critical that your loved one isn’t mishandling medications, skipping dosages, or taking drugs that are either expired or no longer prescribed. Are some medications past expiration dates or need refills? Reminders might be needed to ensure medications are being taken properly and at the prescribed times.
  4. Mishandling medications or skipping doses is one clue that your aging parent may need help at home.

    Mishandling medications or skipping doses is one clue that your aging parent may need help at home.

    Medical Appointments.  Is your loved one missing or neglecting medical appointments? Do they seem confused when asked about information or instructions from their doctor? They may need someone to accompany them on visits to the doctor, as well as confirm to other family exactly what the doctor communicated.

  5. Unopened Mail. Are there stacks of unopened, unsorted mail? Are bills being left unpaid?  Is important correspondence being ignored?  Assistance with managing mail might be needed to ensure invoices for utilities and other services remain up to date.
  6. Personal Hygiene.  Is your loved one having a difficult time keeping up with personal hygiene?  Do you often see them wearing the same clothes?  Is there unusual body or breath odor?  Matted hair?  Unclipped nails?  Assistance with bathing, dressing or even using the bathroom might be needed to maintain healthy hygiene habits and personal dignity.
  7. Cuts and Bruises.  Are skin tears and/or bruises becoming more common or noticeable?  This could be an indication that your loved one is experiencing trouble with mobility and is at greater risk of falling.  They may need some physical assistance navigating their home.
  8. Isolation.  The realization of increased physical limitations can lead to depression and other destructive emotions.  Has your loved one changed their social activities and daily routine? Are they isolating themselves from friends and family? Withdrawal into a cocoon of isolation is a key indicator of depression, but can be improved with regular companionship.

In cases where older family members are still fairly independent, but just require assistance in these key areas, home care may be the answer.  Trained caregivers from a licensed, professional home care agency like FirstLight HomeCare can help with daily tasks such as bathing, cooking, shopping, house cleaning, changing clothes, transportation or other daily living activities. Caregivers can spend as much, or as little, time as necessary to ensure your loved one is safe in their home.

Sarah Lane

Sarah Lane

Home care fills the gap between complete independence and the around-the-clock care (and cost) of living in a facility. It’s a fantastic and affordable solution for those who still want to maintain a degree of freedom and independence by living at home.

“Thriving at Home” is a monthly column by Sarah Lane, a certified Home Care Aide and owner of FirstLight HomeCare — South Sound.  To learn more about home care,respite caredementia care, or any of the non-medical home care services offered by FirstLight HomeCare, give Sarah a call at 360-489-1621 or go to



Black Hills Girls Soccer: Talent Plus Teamwork Equal Success on the Pitch

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

edge fitness logoFirst-year Black Hills High School girls’ soccer coach James Corbin proudly points to the banner hanging from the far goal on the Wolves practice field.

“You probably can’t read it because we’re so far away,” James Corbin says, “but that’s our motto this season. It says ‘It’s about the teammate standing next to you. You’re playing for them.’”

The credo is constantly on display during every practice serving as a reminder to the players. However, in the two weeks since practice started, it’s already apparent the banner may not be needed at all.

Black Hills seniors Jaylen Corbin (left) and Joslin Lindsay (right) are helping lead the Wolves through team unity and a focus on working together.

Black Hills seniors Jaylen Corbin (left) and Joslin Lindsay (right) are helping lead the Wolves through team unity and a focus on working together.

This team is a family – and in many cases it’s a family in the literal sense of the word.

There’s Corbin’s daughter, senior Jaylen Corbin, twin senior sisters Joslin and Samantha Lindsay, their younger sister Emma Lindsay and sophomore cousins Sydney and Megan Lowe.

“A lot of times in sports you will be together on the field, but that’s it,” says Jaylen Corbin, an all-2A Evergreen Conference second-team midfielder last year. “Here, these are all our core friends year round. Everyone knows each other. It makes it a lot easier to play together because we understand each other.”

It is this tight bond the Wolves are hoping translates into a successful season, one that serves as the building block for the program’s future.

“We want to leave something special behind,” explains Joslin Lindsay, who was named 2A Evergreen Conference offensive MVP last year after pacing the Wolves with 32 goals – the second highest single-season total in school history.

In addition to Jaylen Corbin and Joslin Lindsay, Black Hills returns a wealth of talent from a squad that was crowned co-conference champions and advanced to state playoffs for the second consecutive year and for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

Back are fellow first-team all-EvCo honorees Jessica Rodgers (midfield), Bella Brown (defense), Delaney Trotter (defense), Samantha Lindsay (defense) and Jordan Westby (goalkeeper).  Also returning are second-team selections Jewel Bender (defense) and Sydney Lowe (midfield).

It has been a great run for the Black Hills High School girls soccer team in recent years, which included the 2010 District 4 championship team (pictured).

The Black Hills High School girls soccer team has seen many accomplishments in recent years including the 2010 District 4 championship (pictured).

The talent has actually always been there, but for the Wolves to take the next step they shifted their focus to a team-oriented approach, equally embracing the returning seniors and the incoming freshman.

“Two weeks into the season and it’s already a fantastic improvement from last year,” Jaylen Corbin shares. “Everyone is positive. There’s no negativity allowed. If we hear it, we address it immediately. We played more as individuals last year. All our focus is on the team now.”

The Wolves survived two loser-out games to secure the district’s third and final state playoff spot in 2014. Black Hills, however, was bounced out of state in the first round, losing to Shorecrest, 4-0.

“At state we mentally broke down last year,” Joslin Lindsay says. “Physically we were prepared for it, but mentally we weren’t there.”

The loss dropped the program to 0-7 all time in state playoff games.

The sting of last year’s early postseason exit has disappeared from the squad. It has since been replaced by a new-found drive to leave a lasting mark on the program.

“We can look back at it more positively now and use it as motivation for this year,” Jaylen Corbin says of the playoff loss. “It’s really important, especially as seniors, to not only make it a great last year for us, but to also to have an impact and set up a legacy for the players coming in next year and later on. I definitely think that this year, mentally, we are in a much more motivated and positive state of mind as a team.”

“This year it’s definitely more about unity,” Joslin Lindsay said. “We want to be the first team at Black Hills to get out of the first round of the state tournament.”

“This year it’s definitely more about unity,” Joslin Lindsay said. “We want to be the first team at Black Hills to get out of the first round of the state tournament.”

Joslin Lindsay should once again be one of the state’s leading scorers, regardless of classifications. Her tally last season was three goals shy of the record 35 goals Megan Waunch scored for the Wolves in 2003.

In hopes of continuing to improve team camaraderie, weekly team meetings and fund-raising functions have been implemented, activities spear-headed by the players.

“We have these meetings where we come in and talk about our commitments and what we are doing for the week,” Jaylen Corbin describes. “The first one we had was so helpful. As seniors, we took the initiative. We understand the intimidation aspect of coming in as a freshman. Everyone has just been so open and that’s really helped with the team chemistry.”

Combine that with the individual talent the Wolves already possess and this season is shaping up to be one of the most success in program history.

“This year it’s definitely more about unity,” Joslin Lindsay said. “We want to be the first team at Black Hills to get out of the first round of the state tournament.”

Black Hills opens its season at South Sound Stadium against North Thurston on September 8. The Wolves play five non-conference matches before kicking off its Evergreen Conference schedule on September 24 against visiting W.F. West at Tumwater District Stadium.

Get the Wolves’ full schedule online here and track their progress as they march toward a goal of success at state.


PSE Investigates Electrical Load of Olympia Marijuana Operation

Janine's Little Hollywood - Tue, 09/01/2015 - 11:23pm

By Janine
Puget Sound Energy has completed its investigation into electrical loading issues at a home in a northeast neighborhood in Olympia. The home is alleged by a neighbor to be used for a commercial marijuana grow operation, and not a collective garden as the resident says. 
The Thurston County Narcotics Task Force made an unannounced visit to the home on July 7 and found the marijuana operation in compliance with that of a state licensed collective garden.
The neighbor, Melinda Spencer, believes that recent utility line fires were caused by the operation next door to her home. Through telephone calls and emails since June, she requested information and assistance from city code enforcement, law enforcement, and Puget Sound Energy. Finally, she addressed the Olympia city council on August 18.
Amy Tousley, Puget Sound Energy's (PSE) municipal liaison manager and Bryan McConaughy, PSE senior local government representative, wrote a letter today to Olympia city manager Steve Hall and council members explaining their investigation and recommendations. The letter does not delve into the possible reason for the electrical loading issues.
In late August, PSE installed a volt recorder meter to conduct readings at Spencer’s home and that of her neighbor’s.   The letter states that Spencer’s home readings were determined to be well within normal swing limits for electrical usage. 
The readings at the neighbor’s house,  “…indicated a steady state of electrical load with high fluctuations well above electrical tolerances. This type of usage demand does not allow the equipment to cool. Our investigation also determined that the existing 100 amp circuit panel for (the address) is not sufficient the load being placed upon the equipment. To meet the existing load, PSE recommends that the circuit panel be increased to a 300 amp meter base. It is PSE’s assessment that without improvements to the service line and circuit panel, existing and additional increases in electrical load will continue to affect the service….”
To address the load, PSE recommends the installation of a larger wire for the service, replacement of the mast-head and anchoring for the new service wire, and an upgrade of the circuit panel.
The customer is required to contact PSE Customer Construction Services to submit an application for a service upgrade. 
“If PSE were to make improvements to the service line without the masthead and circuit panel being upgraded, there will more than likely be continued service issues at this location including the potential for a structural fire.”
PSE has contacted the property owner to explain the issues associated with the service to the property, and has sent the customer living at the rental home a letter informing him of his options.  Those options are to obtain the services of an electrician and submit an application to PSE for improvements, curtail the additional load being placed onto the system, or disconnect the electrical service due to ongoing safety concerns.
The letter places the burden on the city to address the underlying issue or what may or may not be going on at the property in question, and suggests that the city request access to the home in order to ensure that any alterations to the existing circuit panel are compliant with code.
“We are also concerned about rumors of an expansion of the ancillary use to the detached structure on the parcel….We greatly appreciate our partnership with the City to ensure proper permits are obtained prior to any expansion occurring.” 
After city manager Steve Hall briefly reviewed the PSE letter with councilmembers, Councilmember Julie Hankins asked a couple of follow up questions about grow operations in a residential area, which prompted a longer conversation about referring the issue to the city's Land Use committee and the city’s Planning Commission for further review.
For more information about this case, go to Little Hollywood at, and use the search engine to type in key words. Three previous articles are dated August 18 and August 23, 2015.
Editor’s Note: Although Puget Sound Energy’s letter to the city manager and councilmembers mentions the address of the home in question, Little Hollywood is choosing not to print it. Little Hollywood initially printed it the evening of August 18, but chose to retract the address the next day. Little Hollywood does not believe the address is relevant, as the issue is one that is widespread throughout the city, and one that will need to be addressed.

Hawthorne Coffee: Andy Cronin Brings Years of Expertise to Your Coffee Cup

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/01/2015 - 7:00am



By Kelli Samson

olympia furnitureJust because you haven’t heard much Hawthorne Coffee yet doesn’t mean it’s an amateur operation. Owner and head roaster Andy Cronin has been around the block when it comes to your morning latte. Allow me to introduce you.

Cronin’s first job in high school was at one of the only coffee houses in his small Nebraska town. After attending the University of Nebraska for a year, he left for England, where he found himself working as a barista at Britain’s mirror of Starbucks, the Coffee Republic.

It was then that he was sent to London to train “with some really cool Italian guys,” recalls Cronin. He began to find his passion while roasting alongside them in the basement of the coffee shop.

Andy Cronin named Hawthorne Coffee after the street in Olympia where he first began to roast his own beans.

Andy Cronin named Hawthorne Coffee after the street in Olympia where he first began to roast his own beans.

“It turns out that roasting really satisfies some kind of sensory need I have,” laughs Cronin. “It’s sight, sound, smell, and taste. I’m there in my zone, focusing on what I’m doing.”

It was also in London that Cronin met his wife. The two eventually settled in Olympia, near her hometown of Centralia. Since his arrival in our fair city, Cronin has worked his way up through the coffee chain. He began at Batdorf and Bronson, back when they were located in a miniature location across the street from their current, spacious flagship. He helped to open their Dancing Goats location by the Olympia Farmers Market. Following that, he honed his skills at Batdorf’s roasterie, where he was in charge of training and education.

Cronin went on to compete in barista competitions, making friends with his competitors. Together, they created the Barista Guild of America. He served as its chair for a year. He then managed Batdorf’s large downtown location for six months before going to work for Raven’s Brew Coffee, originally out of Alaska. He managed their roasting spaces in Anchorage, Ketchikan, and Tumwater for six years.

“I went from being behind a roaster to being behind a desk. That was hard for me. I’m very hands-on,” recalls Cronin.

The name may have changed, but Hawthorne Coffee is still the same great flavor you remember from its earlier incarnations of Firefly or Dino’s.

The name may have changed, but Hawthorne Coffee is still the same great flavor you remember from its earlier incarnations of Firefly or Dino’s.

Oliver Stormshak, the owner of Olympia Coffee Roasters and an old co-worker from his days at Batdorf, sold Cronin his first roaster. He set it up in the garage at his family’s home on Hawthorne Street in east Olympia, and he’s been roasting his own coffee ever since.

“I roasted at home for as long as I could, until one of my neighbors decided she didn’t like the smell of burnt toast every morning,” chuckles Cronin. “I was roasting at 3:00 a.m. to try to avoid offending people.”

Cronin’s roasting operation is now located across the street from his new coffee shop, located at 1025 Black Lake Boulevard, which opened July first. It’s at this roasterie that he and business partner Chief Ryan toast their tasty beans. This pair are the same roasters that brought Olympia Firefly Coffee and, until last spring, Dino’s Coffee.

“I’ve got a lot of wholesale customers who’ve been with me since Firefly, which is really cool.” says Cronin. “Burial Grounds is one of them. They’ve followed me through all the iterations. I love all of the relationships this business affords me, whether they’re with staff, with customers, wholesale customers, our importers, our vendors. There are a lot of different kinds of relationships I get to have in this business, and they’re all unique.”

Cronin currently has been training a new roaster to take over for him while he is gone with the Army National Guard this fall and winter.

“I’ve got a good partner and a roaster, Yuri, who’s been with us for a long time,” assures Cronin.

Barista Bri Gilfilian has been serving up a lot of chilly drinks at Hawthorne Coffee this summer. They have a menu of blended drinks to help customers beat the heat.

Barista Bri Gilfilian has been serving up a lot of chilly drinks at Hawthorne Coffee this summer. They have a menu of blended drinks to help customers beat the heat.

Hawthorne Coffee is spacious and filled with custom touches made by Ryan, who also owns a remodeling company. There’s free wi-fi, and they serve their house-roasted coffee and wrap sandwiches. The teas hail from Flying Bird Botanicals in Bellingham and the pastries are from the San Francisco Street Bakery. All summer they’ve been serving up a collection of blended, iced drinks using cold brewed coffee –  manna from heaven for many Olympian’s during our extraordinarily hot summer days.

Hawthorne Coffee is in the perfect location for parents of students who attend Studio West Dance Academy. Located just across the parking lot, it’s a nice treat after dropping your kiddo at dance class on time.

So, yes, Hawthorne Coffee is new, but Cronin is decidedly not. One cup will prove it.

“I love roasting, but I really love getting to share that experience with other people. I love that we have regular customers that show up every morning. Coffee is a catalyst for us to provide this space for people to come and just be.”

Hawthorne Coffee Shop
Facebook: Hawthorne Coffee House
1025 Black Lake Boulevard
Mon-Fri: 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sat-Sun: 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Enjoy Surf, Turf and Stunning Views at These 6 Hood Canal Restaurants

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/01/2015 - 6:00am



By Douglas Scott

glen ayr lucky dog casinoThe Hood Canal region of the Olympic Peninsula has become known for amazing outdoor activities, stunning wilderness views and incredible food. After a long day or weekend exploring the trails, camping, or boating in the water, nothing hits the spot like a delicious meal. Whether you are in the mood for oysters on the half shell, cedar plank salmon, pollo in mole or just a delicious cup of coffee and an ice cream cone, Hood Canal will fill you up with its many tasty offerings.

Dining on the Hood Canal is unlike most places in America — you won’t find any chain restaurants here. The region offers only locally owned and operated restaurants, diners and coffee stands. In lieu of chain restaurants, visitors of Hood Canal instead enjoy sinking their teeth into fresh caught foods, straight from Washington’s fjord. The places to eat along the Hood Canal are all worth stopping at, but these six spots are my favorites to visit when on the canal.

hood canal oyster

Hama Hama Oyster Saloon is a must-visit destination for any shellfish lover. (Photo courtesy of Olympic Culinary Loop.)

Hama Hama Oysters

A short, 15-minute drive north of Hoodsport, the Hama Hama Oyster Company has been in operation since 1922. For 93 years, the very best oysters have been harvested, sold and enjoyed by millions, all thanks to the people at Hama Hama. While most take their oysters to go, those visiting in the spring on Wednesday through Monday will be able to dine at the Oyster Saloon, open noon until 5:30 p.m. Summer hours are the same, only the saloon is open daily. And with moderately priced fare ranging fro to $7-$18, enjoying a top-notch meal doesn’t have to cost too much. My favorite meal is the oyster po boy and the chowder of the day. Cap off the meal with a refreshing ale for a perfectly local meal.

Hama Hama Oyster Company
35846 N US 101
Lilliwaup, WA 98555


Hoodsport Coffee

Located in Hoodsport, right along the Hood Canal and Highway 101, Hoodsport Coffee is an perfect place to stop after a day of hiking, kayaking or taking in the sights of the Skokomish region. Stocked with fresh coffee, pastries and hand-dipped Olympic Mountain Ice Cream, Hoodsport Coffee offers something to sate your sweet tooth, or opt for one of the cafe’s salads or soups paired alongside a refreshing beverage. With so much to choose from, Hoodsport Coffee is an ideal place to cool off and fuel up while reliving your amazing day exploring the wilderness of Hood Canal. My favorite thing to grab from Hoodsport Coffee’s budget-friendly menu is an iced coffee and a warm pastry with ice cream, which costs under $10.

Hoodsport Coffee
24240 US 101
Hoodsport, WA 98548



 Douglas Scott.

While gazing at the Olympic Mountains, take in bites of deliciously prepared, succulent meals. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

If you enjoy amazingly prepared food, incredible views and an amazing selection of wine, dining in Alderbrook Resort’s dining room will exceed your expectations. A short 20-minute drive from Hoodsport toward Union gets visitors over to Alderbrook, which is located on the southern shores of Hood Canal, just past the great bend. Boasting views of the Olympic Mountains and Hood Canal, the restaurant at Alderbrook serves breakfast, lunch and dinner — all of which are of the highest quality. Dining here is for those looking for amazing food prepared and served by professional hands in an amazing atmosphere. Alderbrook’s food will cost a bit more than other locations around the region, but you certainly get what you pay for. With dinner offering like seared sea scallops and filet mignon, the restaurant at Alderbrook offers an elevated dining experience in a beautiful setting. If you are looking for a delicious meal of local seafood, I recommend the grilled oysters parmesan. Feel like going all out? Try the Hood Canal seafood boil. If seafood isn’t for you, the restaurant offers a variety of beef, chicken and vegetable dishes. Be aware that in the summer, reservations may be needed.

Alderbrook Resort
10 E Alderbrook Dr.
Union, WA 98592


NorthFork Grill

The NorthFork Grill is located just off US Hwy 101 between Shelton and Hoodsport.

The NorthFork Grill is located just off US Hwy 101 between Shelton and Hoodsport.

Dining at the NorthFork Grill at the Lucky Dog Casino is a no-brainer if you are hungry when passing through Potlatch and the Skokomish Reservation. Located right off Highway 101, between Shelton and Hoodsport, this restaurant is a perfect stop when you’re not quite sure what you’re in the mood for. Offering nearly everything under the sun, the NorthFork Grill’s expansive menu features something for just about everyone. And with affordable prices, NorthFolk is perfect for feeding solo travelers or large families. Featuring everything from sandwiches, soups and salads to  appetizers, burgers, seafood and steak, stopping at NorthFork will please even the pickiest of eaters. My go-to post-hike meal at the NorthFork Grill is the fish and chips or the pulled pork mac and cheese. Most meals cost between $10 and $15.

NorthFork Grill
19330 US 101
Skokomish, WA 98584


El Puerto de Angeles IV

Quite possibly one of the most-underrated Mexican restaurants in the region, El Puerto de Angeles IV is always packed in the summer — and for good reason. Offering fantastic tasting Mexican food and a stunning view of the Hood Canal, this is a popular restaurant for both locals and visitors alike. With three other restaurants in the Pacific Northwest (from Hood River in Oregon to Port Angeles along the Strait of Juan de Fuca), you know the food must be good. Moderately priced, always delicious and served with a smile, the food at El Puerto de Angeles IV is always worth the stop. Traditional Mexican fare served with flavor and makes this south-of-the-border cuisine a must after a day exploring Hood Canal.

El Puerto de Angeles IV
24080 US 101
Hoodsport, WA 98548


 Douglas Scott.

This often overlooked diner is home to one of the best burgers on the Olympic Peninsula. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Eagle Creek Saloon

North of Hoodsport near Lilliwaup, Eagle Creek Saloon sits along Highway 101 opposite side the water. The unassuming storefront, made distinct only by the giant plexiglass burger outside, is a popular haunt for local burger lovers and passersby alike. Inside, this small-town saloon serves up some of the peninsula’s tastiest burgers and onion rings. The eagle burger, weighing in at one pound, comes with everything, including a fried egg. Don’t be surprised if this beast of a burger leaves your mouth watering for days. Just like one of the old-school pubs of yore, Eagle Creek offers great beers, greasy food and some pretty spectacular views. You might be tempted to drive past this place, but skipping by the Eagle Creek Saloon means missing out on amazing food in a beautiful location.

Eagle Creek Saloon
31281 US 101
Lilliwaup, WA 98555

Howardian, A Goddess in Yer way EP

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

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

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



Submitted by LOLA Lifestyle Boutique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The K booth at Burning Man, blowing up!

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

Apple Tree enrolling students

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

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

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

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



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton



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

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

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

Tastes Happy: A Healthier Choice that Tastes Delicious

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



By Kelli Samson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FirstLight HomeCare Brings a Helping Hand to Your Home

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FirstLight Home Care can assist with nearly any household task.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lacey Local, Lizzi Jackson, Crowned Miss Washington

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



By Katie Doolittle  

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

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

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

Lacey Local Lizzi Jackson Miss Washington wonder woman

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

Clearly, Lizzi is not your average beauty queen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Bill Higdon of Select Photography.

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