Recent local blog posts

The Lowdown on Teen Driving – From Teens

Thurston Talk - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 6:00am


Getting your license is one of those big moments you only experience once in a lifetime and many people have a “getting my license” memory or story.

My memory involves three trips to the Department of Licensing. Each time my goal was to leave the place as an official licensed driver, but I kept forgetting some form of paperwork or bringing the wrong relative.

Becoming a new driver can be an unfamiliar, but rewarding process. Independence comes with a new license and teenagers often begin to feel more responsible. You know you’re really growing up when you no longer mistake the gas pedal for the brake.

Julianna Yakovac is headed to her night class at South Puget Sound Community College. Julianna Yakovac is headed to her night class at South Puget Sound Community College.

Thurston County is a great place to live when you can drive. Teens have the opportunity to become more involved in their community when they have the freedom to drive. Raquel Parada has gotten her permit recently and is ready for her license. “I’m looking forward to the freedom once I get my license and being able to drive on my own,” she says.

Local volunteer organization, gyms, parks, and community places are all gathering spots to visit on the road towards adulthood and allow an individual to expand involvement in the world of Thurston County. Students can venture off on their own and explore. Why not take a day trip to Seattle or Ocean Shores? Buckle up that seat belt and hit the open road.

However, before teenagers get behind the wheel, there are important lessons to be learned to better insure their safety. “Never trust other drivers,” advises Julianna Yakovac, a junior at North Thurston High School. “Just because they have a blinker on, doesn’t mean they’re turning.”

911 Driving School teaches new drivers the rules of the road. 911 Driving School teaches new drivers the rules of the road.

Students can enroll in a driver’s education class at the age of 15. Here they will learn the rules of the road. Before my first day of driver’s ed, I didn’t even realize that as a driver you were always supposed to be on the right side of the road (unless it’s a one way street) and I was very concerned about how I would figure out which lane I was supposed to be in. “Before I ever got behind to wheel I was nervous about uphill parking, driving in busy areas and especially the freeway,” Raquel says.

Julianna has been driving for about a year now, but she too had concerns when she first started. “No one ever told me how to pump gas. The first time I tried I ended up sitting in my car for a while trying to find the lever that opened the gas tank. My car is older so it doesn’t actually have a lever. You have to open the gas tank from outside, but how was I supposed to know that?,” Julianna shares.

In Olympia, there are many options for driver’s education classes. 911 Driving School and Cascade Driving School are both very popular choices, but there is also the option of enrolling in driver’s education classes at local high schools. When taking a driver’s ed class, students already have their permits allowing them to drive with the instructors. At the end of the course, they need to pass both a written exam and a physical driving test. Once completed, it’s off to the Department of Licensing for the real deal.

After passing, teens are issued an “Intermediate License” lasting until they are 18.  These licenses do not afford teens all the privileges of veteran, adult drivers.

Cascade Driving School is a popular choice for many local high school students looking to take driver's ed. Cascade Driving School is a popular choice for many local high school students looking to take driver’s ed.

During the first six months with a new license, teens can only drive alone or with immediate family and passengers over the age of 20. Carpooling is not an option for new drivers until after the six-month mark. While this may seem restrictive, it is important for new drivers to focus without distractions.

During the second six months, a new driver may carry up to three passengers under the age of 20 who are not family members. Additionally, drivers are not allowed to drive between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. for their entire first year unless accompanied by someone over 25. And of course, it is unlawful to text or use a mobile device while driving. All restrictions are lifted after a teen has reached one year with a license with a clean driving record.

texting safetyLocal insurance agent Ronelle Funk hands out a reminder of the consequences of distracted driving to area teens during texting and driving presentations at local high schools.

Teens and adults alike should never use their phones while driving. Cell phones are involved in nearly 1.6 million automobile related accidents annually. In 2010, it became illegal in Washington State to operate a cell phone while in a running a vehicle. With new technology and social media it can be hard not to reach for your phone in the car. Snapchat and other time-sensitive “look at me now” apps have taken over and although it is tempting to send messages while driving, it’s extremely dangerous and illegal. How do teens deal with the temptation?  “I silence my notifications, plug my phone in and leave it alone,” Julianna Yakovac shares.

Being a new driver is very exciting, especially for teens. But along with the added freedom comes added responsibility. Following the law, keeping yourself and your passengers safe, is priority number one. No one wants to be the cause of an accident. Keep your eyes on the road, Thurston County.

For full details on teen driving in Washington State visit the Department of Licensing’s web site here.

Amphibian Monitoring Program Benefits City, Science

Janine's Little Hollywood - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 7:39pm

Above: Newly trained citizen scientists search for amphibian egg masses at a 30 year old stormwater pond on the City of Olympia's westside last Saturday. The training was part of a Stream Team program activity to monitor the ecological health of area stormwater ponds and its inhabitants. Amphibians are a key indicator species that help scientists monitor the health of the environment.  
By Janine
“I found one!”
That was the excited shout by more than one newly trained citizen scientist on a field trip to a stormwater pond last weekend.
What was found was an amphibian egg mass belonging to the Pacific Tree Frog, in about 30 centimeters of water. 

The sighting was confirmed by City of Olympia Stream Team leader Michelle Stevie who called me over with my clipboard to record all the vital information: location and depth, type of egg mass, developmental stage in which the eggs were found, whether or not the mass was attached to anything, like a cattail, and other notes. 
As I moved slowly through hip deep water to record the finding, as well as another egg mass, I found one all on my own! It belonged to the Northern Red-legged Frog. 
With each new discovery, everyone shared in the joy. 

Above: The egg mass of a Northern Red-legged Frog. The scalloped-edged mass, about the size of a grapefruit, is being highlighted with a simple, white plastic lid attached to a bamboo stick. The stick has markings used to measure depth, and, if needed, keeps one upright in what can be a mucky situation.
Learning How To Monitor Amphibians

This is the fifth year for the City of Olympia's Stream Team amphibian egg mass monitoring program, and about 20 people registered for the first training of the season last Saturday held at the LOTT Clean Water Alliance. 

Volunteers play a key part in maintaining several city programs designed to restore and protect area streams, shorelines, and wetlands. Some folks not only participated in the compact, nearly three hour class lecture, they had the opportunity to immediately put their newfound knowledge to use.
The class was taught by Dr. Marc Hayes, herpetologist and senior research scientist with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Students of all ages, even children, learned about the frogs, toads and salamanders of Thurston County and the Pacific Northwest.
Hayes showed PowerPoint slides of the egg, larvae, metamorphic, and juvenile stages of the Pacific Tree Frog, Northern Red-legged Frog, Oregon Spotted Frog, Western Toad, American Bullfrog, Northwest Salamander, Long-Toed Salamander, Rough-Skinned Newt, Western-Backed Salamander and Ensatina.
The value of monitoring a particular species or its habitat has not always been appreciated. In the past, it was a neglected piece of the puzzle in restoration efforts.

“People are beginning to understand the connection between monitoring and restoration. If restoration is not successful, it is a waste of money. It’s important to do effective analyses, and understand the failures to potentially correct them in future efforts,” said Hayes, who has 43 years’ experience with frogs and salamanders.
Hayes gave a good natured pop quiz after the lecture, and the group proved it had retained an impressive amount of knowledge.
Threats and Issues for Thurston County Amphibians
There are about 7,000 amphibian species and a website at UC Berkeley actively updates their descriptions. Since 1985, about 48 percent have been described, most of them from tropical areas, with 17-20 amphibians added per month.
Amphibians are declining globally. Over 200 species have been lost in the last 25 years and it is anticipated that that 400 species will be lost over the next 20 years.
Emergent diseases are a direct or indirect consequence of climate change. A fungus that attacks salamanders in particular was just discovered less than two years ago in Europe. While it has not yet been found in North America, a fungus that interferes with an amphibian’s water balance, and the ranavirus, a viral disease that has the ability to move between fish and amphibians, is present in Thurston County.
Other threats include growth and urban development. According to a 2001 state Department of Fish and Wildlife study in King County, wetlands adjacent to larger areas of forests are more likely to have greater native amphibian species diversity. Amphibian richness is highest in wetlands that retain at least 60 percent of adjacent area in forest land up to and exceeding 1,640 feet from the wetland.

Invasive Species in Thurston County
The only native amphibian to be reintroduced to Washington State is the Oregon Spotted Frog, a species federally listed as threatened in September 2014.
Reintroduced at Joint Base Lewis McChord in 2008, the program has been somewhat successful, but is still under evaluation, said Hayes. In reality, there is a 97 percent mortality rate in the larvae stage for amphibians due to predation under normal conditions, so scientists would need to introduce thousands of the frogs to achieve some impact to the success of the species in the area.
Two amphibians that are present in Thurston County and are definitely not wanted is the American Bullfrog, an invasive species introduced to the area in the 1930s after a bullfrog farming craze phased out in California, and the African Clawed Frog.
The African Clawed Frog was discovered about a year and a half ago in three stormwater ponds on the St. Martin’s University campus in Lacey. Hayes said scientists are desperate to remove it because it breeds at an alarming rate and carries the ranavirus at a 70 percent frequency rate.

“They are voiceless, tongue-less burrowers with tough skin and can withstand a whole host of environmental insults,” said Hayes. 

Hayes said the species is used in labs, and it is suspected that the source of this population is the result of a pet dump from North Thurston High School. Goldfish were also present. So far, 4,700 African Clawed Frogs have been removed from the St. Martin’s ponds.
An extraordinarily stubborn species, Hayes said it took San Francisco scientists about 10 years to eradicate the African Clawed Frog from their area, but that also included the time it took to learn the system of what would be most effective in their removal. 

The method? Scientists capture the frogs, humanely euthanize them, put them in baggies, and pop them in a freezer for a week to guarantee they are dead. Then, the bags containing the frogs, are autoclaved, a process that is one of the most effective ways to destroy microorganisms, spores, and viruses. 
Most pet stores and online marketers do not educate consumers about the animals they sell, and are part of the problem with invasive species. Public outreach is a touchy situation and has to be done carefully to prevent consumer backlash and mass dumps of particular species, said Hayes. The state is doing outreach to educate students and teachers not to release pet animals into the wild.
At Last! Hands-On Learning
At the conclusion of the lecture, just when human brains were starting to get over saturated, the rain (literally) stopped, and perfect amphibian monitoring conditions prevailed.
Participants eager to locate, identify, and tag egg masses carpooled to the stormwater pond on Olympia’s westside near Hansen Elementary School. Hayes has been monitoring egg mass species there for about 16 years. 

Participants found their boot sizes and pulled on clean hip waders provided by the city. Those who brought their own boots had to wash them before entering the area. Everyone had to scrub their boots after being in the water to prevent water body cross-contamination.
Breaking up into small groups of four, all paired up with an experienced amphibian watcher and we slowly waded out, arms-length apart, into the pond.
A bamboo stick marked with measurements and a plastic lid attached to its end served to measure depth, find and see egg masses better, and use as a walking stick to prevent a potential fall into the muck.
Almost immediately, a Pacific Tree Frog egg mass was found, then another, this time, that of a Northern Red-legged Frog. A couple more egg masses were found, tagged, and recorded. 
Who would have thought stormwater ponds could be so much fun?
Stream Team activities are also available in Lacey, Tumwater, and Thurston County, and are financially supported by local storm and surface water utility bill paid by residents of those jurisdictions.
Amphibian monitoring continues until early April. For future trainings, and for more information other Stream Team monitoring programs involve purple martins, shorebirds, and stream bugs, go to or 

Above: Janine Gates, newly trained citizen scientist, participated with a Stream Team sponsored amphibian egg mass training in west Olympia last Saturday, and found the egg mass of a Northern Red-legged Frog. An exhilarating day of learning and discovery helped inform science, benefit the environment, and potentially influence future land use management and policies. And to think I didn’t know a thing about amphibians when I woke up Saturday morning!

Second Samuel at Tacoma Little Theatre

South Sound Arts - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 8:29am

 Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 28, 2016 Doc (Michael Dresdner) and B Flat (Aaron Mohs-Hale).  All photos courtesy Dennis K PhotographyTacoma Little Theatre’s production of Second Samuel is a little play that tackles big subjects in an inventive manner while maintaining its light-hearted feel. It is a stylistic marvel with two sets: the Bait and Brew Bar (stage left), advertising red eye, that’s booze, and red wigglers, that’s bait; and the Change Your Life Hair and Beauty Emporium (stage right). These settings are strictly segregated by sex, with the women in the salon and the men in the bar. The only person to be seen in both is B Flat (Aaron Mohs-Hale), who is both the narrator and a major character in the story. This dichotomy is carried over to the structure of the story, which separates Act 1 and Act 2 into stories that are different in mood, light comedy in the first act and heavy drama that still manages to keep just enough humor after the intermission. Credit playwright Pamela Parker and director Chris Serface for this magic act, brought about by having dialogue overlap and, in places, having characters speak in chorus with the narrator, all of which is augmented by lighting, also by Serface.
Ruby (Ellen Peters), Marcela (Neicie Packer), Omaha (Diana George), Jimmy Deeanne (Jill Heinecke)During the first act, I was afraid it was going to be just another farcical play making fun of uneducated Southerners. I had recently been subjected to one of those, and it was a horrible experience. But there was hope because Mohs-Hale’s narration and his depiction of the boy called B Flat was so natural, unassuming and sincere, and because the rest of the characters portrayed by an excellent ensemble cast seemed natural despite being quirky and verging on Southern stereotypes. They even got the accents right with no exaggeration.Second Samuel CastThroughout the first act it was a lighthearted play of hootenanny humor, until something totally unexpected happened, something I cannot divulge, something that completely changed the play from a frothy comedy to a serious look into the soul of a town.The second act takes an unflinching look into the ways in which residents of a small town overcome intolerance and rise above their stuck-in-the-mud ways. It is still humorous, but with sensitivity and intelligence never forecast by the first act. The story takes place in a small town in Georgia in the late 1940s, where everyone knows all about everyone else. Or they think they do. There is a definite Our Town feel. We expect the men in the bar and the women in the beauty parlor to go on lovingly fussing and fighting forever, but the death of Miss Gertrude changes all of that. Never seen on stage, Miss Gertrude is already dead when the play opens. She was one of the most beloved people in town, and her death takes the townspeople into unexpected territory.There is only one black character in the play, U.S. (Jimmy Shields), whom everyone likes. This at a time and place when virulent racism was rife. The only racist in town is Mr. Mozel (Tom Birkeland), a curmudgeonly old man who doesn’t like anyone. If we were expecting realism, this could have been a damaging blow to the play, but Mr. Mozel is not presented as a real person but rather as a symbol for all the small minded and racist people who would actually live in a town like Second Samuel.The owner of the Bait and Brew, Frisky (Kerry Bringman) is anything but frisky, except probably with his wife, Omaha Nebraska (Diana George). They love each other dearly, but he is embarrassed by any show of affection in front of the other men. Omaha and her siblings, by-the-way, are all named after cities.U.S. is possibly the smartest person in town. He and B Flat are the town’s peacemakers along with, to a lesser degree, Doc (Michael Dresdner), who tells the town busybodies to mind their own business. The most infuriating of these busybodies is Jimmy Deeanne (Jill Heinecke) the self-absorbed wife of the local Baptist preacher. Mansel (Bob Yount) is a good ol’ boy who drinks a lot and tells whoppers that nobody believes. He is married to Marcela (Neicie Packer), who tries her best, with minimal success, to make a good man out of him. Most of these characters are flawed but basically good. The cast is outstanding. I want to see more and more of Shields and Mohs-Hale. Heinecke beautifully portrays the woman you love to hate. Yount, Bringman and Dresdner are each so natural in their roles that if I didn’t know better I’d think they were playing themselves. I was intrigued by many of the character names, which enhance the quirky character of the town of Second Samuel, so named because the original town of Samuel was destroyed and rebuilt; which is what happens metaphorically to the townspeople after Miss Gertrude’s death.Second Samuel is an unpretentious play that tackles large themes and brings them down to manageable size. It takes place on a set (designed by Lex Gernon) that reflects the time and place, and the intimate feel of the very believable characters. It is a relatively short play that comes in at a little under two hours including intermission.

Note: It was called to my attention that I erroneously said B Flat was the only man to venture into the hair salon. I had forgotten that Doc also ventured into the salon where he showed Jimmy Deeanne and others the error of their ways.
Second Samuel, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 7, $20-$24, Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N “I” St., Tacoma, 253.272.2281,

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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South Sound Arts - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 8:18am

Prison ObscuraDocumenting life in prison at The Evergreen State College Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 28, 2016installation shot, courtesy The Evergreen State College Like images captured with a pinhole camera, also known as a camera obscura, the exhibition Prison Obscura at The Evergreen State College “considers this fundamental distortion that characterizes vision and viewing, how we see and don’t see the people we incarcerate, the people we put in boxes. Guiding the viewer through the visual culture of America’s prisons, the exhibit traces the contours of that box, to attempt to make sense of the dominant narratives and stereotypes that somehow justify a U.S. system now locking up people at an unprecedented rate,” as stated in a press release for the show.Prison Obscura is the major offering among four related shows in Evergreen’s library building, each taking a look at our prisons through the lenses of cameras — in some cases actual pinhole cameras.The first thing to meet the eye when entering the gallery is a video projection called “Proliferation” by Paul Rucker. Depending on what part of the looping video is showing, you see a single green light on a large screen, and then another and another, and then lights of other colors; the lights flash on faster and faster and begin to create a shape as they proliferate. It is a map of the United States, and what it is showing is the proliferation of prisons in our country over a 250-year history. As should be expected, it starts on the East Coast and marches westward, and the density matches the population density of the country. It is mesmerizing and frightening.In some prisons large, fanciful landscapes printed on vinyl cover parts of the walls in visitor areas, the only areas where photographs are allowed. These idyllic landscapes hide doors and bars and locks, so when visitors take portraits of their incarcerated loved ones, the only background images to leave the prison are these landscapes. Artist Alyse Emdur has documented these. These landscapes are hung on the gallery walls, and on a table top resting on two sawhorses are collections of portraits of prisoners taken in front of these backdrops. It is so sweet and so false. On one wall of the gallery is an array of harshly lighted, black-and-white photographs of prisoners as part of a nine-year project by Robert Gumpert in which he photographed prisoners and asked them to tell a story, which he recorded. The audio recordings, unedited and uncensored, accompany the images.One of the more striking displays is a set of six pinhole photos taken by girls at Remann Hall Detention Center in Tacoma, a project coordinated by TESC faculty member Steve Davis. The images are fuzzy, soft focus, slightly distorted, and exceedingly sad. Facing this is a wall of portraits of kids in Maple Lane and Remann.In a separate but related show downstairs in the Photoland Gallery are more photos by Davis. A large-scale photograph at the entry to the gallery area pictures a wall of heavy, locked cell doors numbered 10 through 14, each with a small window. A face looks out from behind all but one of the windows. This image made me shiver. On the back side of this panel is a life-size black-and-white photo of two teenage boys in chains and locks. They are like men in chain gangs 50 years ago, except they are contemporary and they are kids. One of the more striking images in this set of photos is of a girl from Remann Hall holding a plaster-cast mask in front of her face. There is no wall label to explain. Is it a cast of her face? Is she holding it up to hide or to show off her work? This was the last picture I saw before leaving the gallery, and I left wondering about this young girl. What had she done to get herself locked up and what is going to happen to her? What about all the others? How many of them have been wrongly incarcerated, and what is going to become of them?These are not feel-good art exhibitions. They are shows that should be seen.Prison Obscura, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tue.,Thurs., Fri.; 1:30-5 p.m. Wed., through March 2, The Evergreen State College Gallery, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Library 1st floor, Olympia, 360.867.5125

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts Celebrates 10 Years of Silent Films in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 6:00am


“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin is synonymous with old Hollywood and the silent film era. And while YouTube, Netflix, Tumblr, and Instagram represent the more common media in our modern lives, a fascination with the glamour and drama of silent film remains. All across the country, audiences still flock to film festivals and showings of these classics as they have for the past 10 years at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia.

silent movie washington centerLive music is part of the authentic silent movie experience. Photo courtesy: Dennis James.

While they may be called “silent films,” a precursor to the “talkies,” there’s very little silence during these cinematic experiences. The films are accompanied by period-authentic music played on The Washington Center’s 1600 Wurlitzer pipe organ played by master organist, Dennis James. Organ music was the original accompaniment for silent films and theater-goers of the past and present enjoy the live musical component as an essential component to the silent film experience.

Michael Cordier, Marking Director for The Washington Center shares how a silent movie showing is a “full sensory experience not to be missed” explaining that the organ, literally “vibrates through you engaging you in the film in an entirely different way.”

The Washington Center’s organ, and it’s location, has a history of it’s own. Originally the Liberty Theater, opened in 1924, the venue was renamed The Olympic Theater in the 1943 where the Wurlitzer organ was used often. The organ was removed to storage when The Washington Center opened its doors in 1983. Local musician Andy Crow was instrumental in the refurbishment of the organ and its eventual re-installation in 1995, an event celebrated with a dedication concert by Crow on October 1 of that year.

silent movie washington centerDennis James has been playing The Washington Center’s Silent Movie Series since it’s inception in 2006. Photo courtesy: Dennis James.

The organ itself is worth hearing, even without the backdrop of a classic silent film. However, the films, paired with the powerful, authentic musical scores played by organist Dennis James, are an experience like no other. James is well known throughout the country. He is credited with bringing silent films back to the Northwest in 1988 through a successful silent film series at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, leading to his hire as House Organist there. He introduced “Silent Movie Mondays” at the Paramount and expanded in 2006 to The Washington Center in what he describes as “a long running, well received professional series for the past 10 years.”

A long-time colleague of organ champion Andy Crow, James shares how with Crow’s prompting he made the trip to Olympia to see the Wurlitzer for himself.

washington center silent movieDennis James will be in command of The Washington Center’s mighty Wurlitzer organ for each of the Silent Movie Series shows, as he has for the past 10 years.

“I finally visited the hall and instrument in 2006 and found it to be a world class instrument ranked within the top ten such instruments anywhere. It is the finest theatre pipe organ in the entire Northwest, professionally maintained and perfectly matched to the theater’s acoustics and the dedicated purpose of historical silent film revival presentations, presented in the authentic manner,” says James. “I am thrilled to return each year to present the most recently restored silent films presented in a manner that closely matches how they were seen by the film-going public when they were first released 100 years ago in 1916.”

washington center silent moviesDennis James entertains a full house during a silent film showing where the musical score is just as important as the images on screen. Photo courtesy: Dennis James.

Celebrate 100 years of silent film history, and 10 years of silent film enjoyment at The Washington Center, with the Silent Movie Series this year. The series includes three classic silent films from three decidedly different genres. The first, showing on January 31, is The Charlie Chaplin Comedies. Chaplin’s iconic image is what comes to mind for many people when they think of silent films. The showing includes Behind the Screen, The Rink, and The Pawnshop, all originally release in early 1916, making their showing a historic, 100-year celebration of Chaplin’s craft.

The second film in the series features the 1916 production of Sherlock Holmes featuring popular stage actor William Gillette know for his stage portrayal of the character. The 1916 film was thought to be lost until a copy was found in the fall of 2014 in a vault in France. This debut film, showing February 28, along with James’ well-researched and authentic live organ score is sure to delight fans of the ageless sleuth.

washington center silent moviesCharlie Chaplin is the iconic actor of silent film and is featured in the January 31 showing of the 2016 Silent Movie Series. Photo courtesy: Dennis James.

The third showing on March 20 is a western double feature of Hell’s Hinges and The Americano, again, both 1916 original releases. Complete with gunslingers, a frontier town, and a forbidden love story, the action on the screen will be heightened by James’ dramatic accompaniment on the impressive Wurlitzer.

“If one loves movies as do most moviegoers do today, seeing and hearing them as they were originally intended is an experience that simply should not be missed,” shares James.

With the Silent Movie Series at The Washington Center, the general public is able “to experience fully realized and critically-acclaimed, period-accurate accompaniments to silent films, focusing on the original period-release music actually written for silent films when they were first circulated,” continues James.

washington center silent moviesSilent films have retained their appeal over 100 years after they were first introduced. Photo courtesy: Dennis James.

And anytime you can “feel” the music in your seat, you know it’s going to be a good show.

Click here for a short video of The Washington Center organ in action, played by organist Dave Wickerham.

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts Silent Movie Series
512 Washington St. SE in Olympia

Tickets: $20 adult / $5 Youth (through age 14)
Purchase for all three shows: $48 (available through January 31)

Sunday, January 31 at 2:00 p.m. – Charlie Chaplin Comedies
Sunday, February 28 at 2:00 p.m. – Sherlock Holmes
Sunday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. – Western Double Feature – Hell’s Hinges and The Americano


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 6:00am


As I write this, there is a glimmer of sunshine peeking through the rain clouds.  I know it won’t last long.  I am contemplating putting this post aside and instead rushing outside for some Vitamin D.  I love living in Olympia and the Pacific Northwest winters are far better than the downpour of snow in Boston, but sometimes I just yearn for a day or two (in a row, please Mother Nature) of 75 degree sunshine with blue skies.  I return now to my appreciation for rain that makes us green.

Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our events calendar.

Choosing Flowers for Every Occasion — Tips and Advice from Elle’s Floral Design

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 6:00am


No matter the occasion, flowers always seem to make the perfect gift. Whether spoiling that special someone or surprising grandmother on her birthday, flowers never fail to brighten someone’s day. However, if you’re new to giving flowers, you may find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed with options. With so many different varieties of flowers and so many meanings behind them all, knowing which flowers to gift to a new girlfriend versus your boss can be challenging. Luckily, Michelle LaPraim, owner of Elle’s Floral Design in Lacey, is here to help cut out the guesswork with these straightforward tips for stress-free flower shopping.

When to give flowers elle's floral designExperienced florist Michelle LaPraim is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to selecting the right flowers for any occasion. Photo courtesy: Elle’s Floral Design.

We all know flowers are a big hit for holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, but LaPraim says Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Administrative Professionals Day and Bosses Day also dish up big numbers when it comes to flower orders. Knowing which holidays are busiest is important if you want your flower order to be ready on time. If planning on ordering flowers for Valentine’s Day or one of the other holidays mentioned above, be sure to place your order early, many days (or weeks, even) in advance of the occasion.

While the aforementioned holidays may be the busiest time of year for florists, there are numerous other occasions where gifting a bouquet is appropriate. Birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones are equally appropriate times to present someone with flowers — and you can never go wrong with surprising someone with a bouquet, just because.

In addition to happy celebrations, flowers are also an appropriate way to console someone who is grieving or ill. Whether attending a funeral or visiting a sick friend at the hospital, flowers have a way of saying what words often can’t, making a bouquet an ideal gift for individuals going through difficult times.

Tips for choosing an appropriate arrangement choosing floral bouquetsLaPraim says red roses convey a message of respect, love and courage, making them a popular choice for occasions like Valentine’s Day or a wedding anniversary. Photo courtesy: Elle’s Floral Design.

When gifting flowers for Valentine’s Day, roses are an obvious choice, but whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, you can never go wrong with presenting the recipient of your gift with a bouquet or arrangement of their favorite flowers.

LaPraim says this rule particularly applies to relationships, and, if you don’t already know what your significant other’s favorite flowers are, there are some subtle ways to find out. “As relationships grow, flowers become symbols of different events and milestones in our lives together,” LaPraim explains. “Take note of her favorite flowers — the varieties at your wedding, flowers you sent her when you first started dating, or the ones she buys for herself. Those will have great meaning and impact.

While favorite flowers and seasonal arrangements are usually a failsafe choice when gifting flowers for a holiday or milestone, there are some occasions where you may want to include more meaning behind your bouquet. LaPraim says this is especially true when presenting flowers at a funeral.

LaPraim says traditional flower choices for a funeral or memorial service include: lilies, gladioli, carnations, chrysanthemums and roses. While different flower types evoke certain feelings, color also plays a big role when it comes to sending an underlying message. For example, LaPraim says white roses evoke reverence, humility, innocence and youthfulness, while red roses convey respect, love and courage. If you want to share a message of love, grace and gentility, LaPraim says pink roses are the way to go.

If you are unsure what flower variety or color embodies the message you are trying to share, your florist is your best resource.

Alternatives to a traditional bouquet lacey floristA colorful arrangement of your sweetie’s favorite flowers is always a safe bet when presenting a bouquet. Photo courtesy: Elle’s Floral Design.

Both classic and timeless, bouquets are always appropriate. However, if you feel like switching things up a bit, LaPraim recommends gifting a flowering plant or garden arrangement. LaPraim says these types of flowers make the perfect “just because” gift. “A fabulous flowering plant or a garden-style arrangement with greens and soft pastel hues — no matter what the flower — will send the message that you care.

For more information, general inquiries, or to place an order, visit Elle’s Floral Design online or in person at its Lacey location. (And don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is just a few short weeks away!)

Elle’s Floral Design
730 Sleater-Kinney Rd SE in Lacey


Thee XNTRX “Pizza Chef”

K Records - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 12:59am
Thee XNTRX is the loosely knit group of NW MCs, DJs and producers who came together to create the epic compilation All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255], released a year back on K. “Pizza Chef” features the Olympia/Seattle MC Nicatine (of Free Whiskey) backed by beats from Smoke M2D6. K Song of the Day: “Pizza Chef” […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

HB 2362, Police Body Camera Legislation, in Rules Committee

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 5:34pm

Olympia Mayor Pro Tem Jones Testifies in Support of Police Worn Body Camera Related Legislation
By Janine
At Olympia’s city council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones read a statement he wrote, confirming the city's commitment to police worn body cameras. It received council consensus, and gave the city’s Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations additional guidance on its role exploring public involvement on the issue.
How little or far the city wants to go in terms of its policies around the issue is up to the community, but the camera's use and related record keeping will also be heavily influenced by state law.
Police worn body camera recordings are currently public records subject to the state Public Records Act and present a whole host of privacy issues, especially for juveniles, crime victims, and witnesses to crimes. 
While some subjects and information are exempt from the law, a 2014 opinion by the state Attorney General determined that body worn camera recordings are not generally subject to the Privacy Act, and that conversations between on-duty police officers and the public are not considered private.
A bill sponsored by Washington State Representative Drew Hansen (D-23), HB 2362, would exempt body worn camera recordings to the extent they violate someone's right to privacy. The bill has passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and is now in the Rules Committee.
The bill also requires law enforcement agencies and corrections agencies that use body worn cameras to establish policies regarding their use, and requires the legislature to convene a task force to examine the use of body worn cameras by law enforcement and corrections agencies.
The bill was the result of a year of work involving groups interested in working to develop a broad, statewide framework around the issue. The bill still allows local jurisdictions to set some of their own policies. 
Despite the efforts, bill opponents, especially those representing communities of color such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, want video footage by officers deleted if it does not have accountability value. They are also concerned that footage could be used for surveillance purposes.
Others groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys expressed concern that the bill does not go far enough to protect individual privacy, and also believe footage could be used by law enforcement for local and national security related surveillance activities.
Olympia Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones testified in support of the bill at a hearing on January 14th, along with representatives from the cities of Seattle, Bellingham, Poulsbo, the Association of Washington Cities, the Washington Association of Counties, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and many more.
“This is very difficult legislation….I told the committee that Olympia needs support from the Legislature to reduce the financial and legal risks associated with unresolved privacy and records management concerns. The bill is helpful but should go further in these areas,” Jones told Little Hollywood on Wednesday.

For more information about the City of Olympia Police Department, the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations, and other Olympia police related news, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comand type key words into the search engine.
To track bills through the Washington State legislative process, go to

Olympia Police Worn Body Camera Conversation Begins

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 4:34pm

By Janine
Cities large and small across the country are having the conversation about the use of police worn body cameras, and now the conversation has begun in Olympia. 
A whole range of events, actions and emotions around issues of racial injustice, implicit bias, and community policing and accountability were brought home for South Sounders, in large part due to the shooting last May of two African American young men by an Olympia police officer.
Many cities across the country and in Washington are already using body cameras, also called body cams, to varying degrees of success. Some cities have stopped their use due to burdens related to cost, records management, and the inability to respond to public records requests.
At the Olympia City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones read a statement he wrote about the city's commitment to police worn body cameras. The statement received council consensus, and gave the city’s new Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations much needed direction on its role exploring the issue.
It stated in part that the city intends to move forward with police worn body cameras when it develops plans, policies and revenues that will ensure the program is successful. All those elements are currently lacking.
“It is important that our program includes protections for citizen privacy, effective management…and clear expectations for officers regarding camera use,” said Jones, who acknowledged that the technology currently lacks such standards.
The Ad Hoc Committee has always had a two part mission: one, to engage the community in dialog about police issues, and two, determine how best to engage the public on the implementation of police worn body cameras. It has held several community forums, establishing a template for holding several community forums, but disassociating the topic of body cameras until now, near the end of its temporary tenure.
With the city council now expressing its clear commitment to body cameras, the group will now turn its attention to establishing a process for the issue, holding a public forum on February 18, 5:00 p.m., in a location still to be determined. 
Body Camera Issues, Technology, and Cost
The Ad Hoc Committee learned more about the issue of body cameras on Wednesday night from Laura Wohl, administrative services division manager for the Olympia Police Department. Wohl said she has spent the last five years studying the topic and educated the committee on the policy issues and costs regarding the technology. The group is also collecting information from non-police related sources.
Aspects of the issue include managing a network of additional staff and technology needed to process the camera video, using and managing software designed to ensure confidentiality of some subjects, storing that data for the required 90 days, and understanding the legal status of information captured. 
Wohl said police worn body cameras have been shown to improve reasonable behavior by both the police officer and the person they are having an interaction with, and have decreased the number of complaints about officers.
According to current state public disclosure laws, all police interactions are considered public, and police do not have to notify people that they are being recorded. Traumatic and potentially embarrassing events are recorded.
Wohl admitted the numbers were rough, but each body camera and software would cost about $1,000, with an annual cost of $10,500 for replacements. Initial camera implementation costs would be about $85,000.
The annual cost for the program would be about $472,000 when video storage costs of between $200 - $600 per month per officer are factored in, as well as three additional full time staff to maintain the system.
The redaction process to protect the privacy of some individuals would take an estimated 30 times longer than a video that does not need that work. Preparing video for the criminal justice system is another issue, as it takes time to prepare the videos for discovery, review, prosecution, and defense.
Wohl then extrapolated the work and costs needed to process video if, for example, five officers show up for one incident.
Wohl said that the Olympia Police Department received 3,602 public records requests in 2015. Responding to public records requests of video would place an undetermined amount of time and expense on the department.
Lt. Aaron Jelcick briefly mentioned the state’s body camera issues and programs in Poulsbo, Seattle, Spokane, Bremerton, and Bellingham. There, and in other cities nationwide, each city has had to outline sticky policy issues: 
What kinds of calls should be recorded? When are cameras turned on? Can an officer turn off his or her camera? How is citizen privacy protected? What if the officer sees something that the camera didn’t?  Should officers be allowed to view the camera evidence? How can the videos be used? Should detectives and SWAT team members be issued body cameras?
To provide perspective, Lt. Jelcick said that the City of Spokane phased in its body camera program over a period of 18 months, hosting over 70 community presentations with over 160 groups, and is still having issues meeting the requirements of Washington State’s stringent public records law.
After the discussion, Ad Hoc Committee members were impressed by the depth of the issues and engaged in a healthy conversation about the information they heard.
Given the somewhat overwhelming information provided, committee member Clinton Petty questioned aloud whether or not Olympia really wants or needs body cameras.
In response, Lt. Jelcick said that he believed that body cameras are going to be part of the uniform of most, if not every, law enforcement officer in the country.
“I think we are going in that direction….I think the issues in Washington State will be resolved at some point with the disclosure and technology issues, so that it won’t be cost prohibitive….I think Washington is at a difficult time to implement this technology. We recognize that and as we go through this process, part of the discussion may be, ‘Yes, we want body cameras, no, this isn’t the right time to do it’ until these issues are resolved, but I believe these issues will be resolved.…I don’t think the work that we do will be for naught…the technology will get better and better and it will get easier to process this video….” said Jelcick.
He said that every department who currently has body cameras has started with pilot programs, with cameras on just two or three officers to start, to figure out the work and cost involved.
Committee member Clinton Petty admitted, “There’s a lot more than I ever thought there would be to it.”
Editor’s Note: While writing this article Thursday morning, multiple calls were in progress involving the Olympia police department, including an attempted suicide, a man with a history of cardiac arrest experiencing chest pains, and a blocking collision as the result of an alleged stolen car/hit and run incident on Cooper Point Road and Black Lake Boulevard near the entry to Haggen’s grocery store. Several suspects, possibly four, in the stolen car fled and multiple officers were dispatched to the scene, who worked to track the suspects fleeing in different directions. One officer witnessed one suspect flee to a nearby homeless encampment and change clothes.

For more information about the City of Olympia Police Department, the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations, and other Olympia police related news, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search engine.
For more information about the Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations, go to

Slow Food and Farmers' Markets

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:58pm
Event:  Wed, 02/03/2016 - 7:00pm - 8:15pm

From today's Inbox:

Slow Food USA's Executive Director, Richard McCarthy, will be speaking at 7pm on Wednesday February 3rd at The Evergreen State College (Seminar II, lecture room C1105) about the connection between the Slow Food movement and farmers' markets.  The presentation is open to the public.  This event is co-sponsored by Slow Food Greater Olympia and two programs at The Evergreen State College - Practice of Organic Farming, and Ecological Agriculture: Healthy Soil, Healthy People. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Top Rung Brewing Releases Equinox Pale as part of Pale Series

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:33am


Submitted by Top Rung Brewing

On January 30th we will release the fifth beer in our Pale series.  “Equinox Pale” will be the fifth in our Pale Ale’s released since early 2015.  In each Pale release we will highlight and celebrate a different hop. Equinox has a pronounced aroma profile with citrus, tropical fruit, floral and herbal characteristics. Specific descriptors include lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper.  It was developed by the Hop Breeding Company in Yakima.

Top Rung Brewing is a 10-barrel production brewery with tasting room at the brewery. Top Rung Brewing is a destination for craft beer drinkers to enjoy their beverage and view a production brewery facility.  Our tasting room is family friendly and while we will only offer snacks, we partner with local food trucks as well as allow patrons to bring in their own food of their choice or have it delivered.

Equinox Pale Statistics:  ABV: 6.2%, IBU: 60, SRM: 10

Timberline’s David Hales Lit Up The Washington Center Stage with Pink Martini

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 6:00am


After you turn 40, I no longer think you can qualify as a groupie but I would classify some friends as dedicated Pink Martini fans. When we learned that the band, which mixes jazz tunes with classical music and old-fashioned pop from around the world, would be performing at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, we quickly bought tickets.

capital heating and coolingIt’s not uncommon for Pink Martini to invite special guests on stage. We were all in awe when we heard the first few notes from the clarinet of David Hales, a Timberline High School senior. In fact, my friend leaned over and said “you have to write a story about him.”

Partners in Music Education

Pink Martini bandleader Thomas Lauderdale is passionately interested in music education, and in providing opportunities for young musicians. The band has a long history of collaborating with young artists.

pink martiniStorm Large, vocalist for Pink Martini, belts out a tune while David Hales plays his clarinet. Photo credit: Timothy Nishimoto.

Collaborations with Portland-based youth orchestra and choir programs have been so successful that the band decided to take the program on the road and engage with local high school musicians while on tour.  “It is as important as it is fun for the band to share the magic of a lit stage and an engaged audience with young artists who are putting in all those earnest hours behind the music stand,” says Pink Martini’s Claire Dennerlein.

“We are passionate about putting our community on stage and bringing educational opportunities for youth,” shares Jill Barnes, Executive Director of The Washington Center. “We also attract and bring world-class performers like Pink Martini to South Puget Sound.”

“So to put these two areas together was truly magical, and such a perfect example of our mission,” adds Barnes, reflecting on Hales’ performance on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, in front of a packed house.

david hales clarinetDavid Hales appreciates the connection to clarinet music that he shares with his mother. Photo courtesy: SOGO.

“One of the greatest things about being in this band is knowing when we’ve had a connection with budding musicians. Having the chance to perform with them on stage is even more special,” says Timothy Nishimoto, vocalist and percussionist for Pink Martini on performing with young musicians such as Hales.

Clarinet Performance

Hales first picked up a clarinet as a fifth grade student. His mother played the instrument into college, but Hales said he wasn’t permitted to touch her clarinet for quite some time.

“(Playing the clarinet) is a way that I can relate to my mom. It gives us something to talk about besides video games and schoolwork. As our interests have diverged, music has become more important,” says Hales.

pink martiniDavid Hales’ performance with Pink Martini was the first time that he was on a live mic. He is shown here with lead vocalist, Storm Large. Photo courtesy: Anne Hales.

“David has become a very mature musician with some really extraordinary musical ability.  He has great opinions about the music and often brings me a new perspective I had not seen in the music,” comments Timberline High School band instructor, Cal Anderson.

While Hales plans to continue playing the clarinet after graduating from Timberline, he hopes to focus his college education around math and science.

Playing with Pink Martini

Hales heard about the call by Pink Martini for audition tapes from his piano accompanist, Jennifer Bowman. “David is a natural musician,” comments Bowman who has worked with Hales for four years. “He simply feels the music in a certain way.”

Bowman adds that Hales was very diligent in preparing his audition tapes. “These types of experiences show kids that you never know what will come up, if you prepare and practice,” shares Bowman. “It’s great to be able to show kids what is possible and that there are many interesting, various paths to be part of really cool things in music.”

david hales clarinetWhile having played clarinet solos before, David Hales says that his experience playing with Pink Martini was a first for him. Photo credit: SOGO.

Hales played “Hang On Little Tomato” on his clarinet, with Storm Large, a lead vocalist for Pink Martini and the entire band. “It was not a technically difficult piece, but it was a different style than I’m used to playing,” reflects Hales. “I’m not familiar with the old-timey jazz sounds so most of my work was not on studying the notes but getting a feel for the embellishments of the tune.”

While easily the largest crowd that Hales has performed in front of, he says that he was not as nervous as he had expected. Hales and Pink Martini played an earlier concert to over 800 local students. “Pink Martini was very accepting and friendly. It helped to talk with the group before,” says Hales.

In March, Hales will have another solo opportunity with Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO), where he has been a member for about four years. “David is a great player and is always prepared with technique. His musicianship shines,” explains SOGO’s Music Director and Conservatory Orchestra Conductor, John Welsh.

“David is always perfecting his craft and is a tireless member of the orchestra,” adds SOGO conductor, Greg Allison. “He is still working on passages from the music when other students are gone and we often have to force him to put his clarinet away.”

david hales clarinetDavid Hales performs with Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO) and will be featured in a solo during the March 6 concert. Photo courtesy: SOGO.

“I think that kids can accomplish a lot of awesome things when the adults around them support them and trust them. Opportunities like this show kids how professionals at the top of their game approach their performances,” adds Anderson.

“It was incredible to watch David perform, and I’m sure this will be a night he won’t ever forget,” summarizes Barnes.

“David just killed it onstage. He’s a natural – a rare combination of strict training, yet laid back stage presence. He was a joy to sing with,” said Storm Large after performing alongside Hales.

Watch David Hales perform with SOGO on March 6 at The Washington Center. Tickets to the winter concert can be purchased here. Visit The Washington Center’s calendar to pick up tickets to other outstanding music and arts programs traveling through Olympia.

Thrifty Thurston Finds Countless (Free) Ways to Beat the Winter Doldrums Indoors

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 6:00am


Parents, did you see that sunshine? I mean the 45 minutes of inspiration to take your children outside to stretch legs, have some fresh air and family fun. The 45 minutes that dissolved into more rain while you grabbed their attention, transitioned from inactivity, debated where to go and what to do, got ready, brushed teeth, made snacks and did the endless other things that kept you captive from actually reaching the sunlight. It reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s short story, “All Summer in a Day,” in which people on Venus only witness the sun for an hour every seven years and one poor girl misses it.

thurston solid wasteMy hearty friends go out anyway, as I should more often. For solid reasons, our children need some time outdoors daily. If you need convincing, there are plenty of articles on the subject. However, although we have many local parks and trails, we can’t always take advantage of them due to time or other constraints. Even a 10 minute walk up the street and back can revive our spirits, invigorate our senses and create some family time.

fort building kidsFree and easy, everyone loves a fort.

Of course there are times when we just can’t go out. It’s too wet, cold, dark, late or we’re busy. We are house bound with our children in the doldrums. Google defines doldrums as “a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.” The second description also fits children in winter months: “a [region of the ocean] with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds.” During Pacific Northwest doldrums, we need plenty of options and the flexibility for kids to change activities as needed.

Betsy Faro is a retired educational professional with heaps of success stories, plus eight grandkids who benefit from her expertise. She teaches how children need “stations,” different activities to rotate through while stuck indoors. I’ve never known a child who didn’t love time at her house.

Grandma Betsy knows how to engage kids in creative play.Grandma Betsy knows how to engage kids in creative play.

At Grandma’s we see water play. This doesn’t have to mean running water, which drains the pocketbook and environment. It can be a calming bath with toys or a sink full with bubbles and interesting kitchen gadgets. The next station may be artsy-craftsy. Special requests often prompt ideas, such as, “Could you paint me a rock paperweight to keep the mail all in one place?” or, “I’d love some new art for the fridge!” Let them sort through recycling and choose pieces, then see what they create with some glue, tape and other bits of stuff.

Creative stations can lead to a string of needs much like the storyline in Laura Numeroff’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and its sequels. Numeroff’s books are a great way for you and your child to acknowledge the need for shifting activities on doldrum-ish days and discuss how to work together in those situations.

art kids crayonsSimple art projects can foster healthy, creative times.

Reading, of course, is another play station. We all know that taking at least 20 minutes a day for literacy’s sake is crucial to children’s academic development. Read with your child. Read to them, or listen to, anything that holds their interest. A forced read is not a fun read, and our kids thrive on positive attention and involvement, so make it something you are into as well. I can hardly bear listening to the book on Minecraft, but as long as he’s reading I will listen (or at least feign to).

The references to PlayStation and Minecraft will have many thinking about contemporary dependence on screens. All I can say is, “guilty.” I try to limit the time, and yes I often fail. I do dangle screen time sporadically as a reward after other activities, like chores.

kid indoor playSiblings work together to finish a good puzzle.

Believe it or not, chores can be fun. Add safe dishes to water play time. Make room tidying a scavenger hunt while speed sorting. Play mini-figure or Barbie hide and seek while putting laundry away. Competition can also add stimulation. Shoot hoops with recycling (no, not glass!). Offer points for awesome bed making. Race at folding towels. Create Household Olympics. Make another fun activity the reward. You can put on your bed sheet cape and hero up a bit.

Another expert is Merry Trejo, brilliant teacher and parent. I envy her ability to prompt kids into action. She proves the success of creative messes. Asking her advice, she offers old-school stuff like puzzles, dolls, board games, Legos, cardboard and duct tape creations, and forts. Her four busy children, aged 5 to 12, are evidence that it all works.

paint art project kidsThree dimensions objects are fun to paint.

The key seems to be attitude, which is free. Let fickle winds and occasional storms pass through the cozy calm of winter doldrums. Empower yourself by relaxing about messes, and your children with choices and creativity. Motivate with involvement, and then encourage independent play. We’ll manage. Spring will return.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our complete event calendar.

Girls Wrestling Continues to Thrive in Yelm

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 6:00am


When Amy Earley started the girls wrestling program at Yelm High School nine years ago, she had a mere eight girls on her roster.

A slim initial turnout, but what the squad lacked in depth, it made up for it in talent.

washington orthopaedic center“We took three of those girls to state our first year and all three got state medals out of it,” Earley said. “They all graduated though and I came back with my assistants the next year and I said, ‘If you want to coach, you have to recruit a team.’”

The coaching staff more than delivered.

“They came back with 25 girls and we haven’t slowed down since,” Earley said. “Our numbers usually range from 20 to 30 girls every year.”

This year has been no different with the Tornados featuring nearly two dozen female wrestlers.

yelm girls wrestlingThe Yelm High School girls wrestling program is in its ninth season, constantly seeing 20 to 30 wrestlers turnout.

It’s a consistent turnout most boys wrestling programs would be envious of as few girls programs in the state can lay claim to those lofty numbers year after year.

However, the construction of the program by Earley did not come easy. There was plenty of obstacles and resistance along the way which could have derailed the team prior to it taking off.

Despite the fact that the Tornados had been a powerhouse in boys wrestling for quite some time, highlighted by the team’s first state championship in 2010 and state runner-up performances in 2008, 2009 and 2012, it was an uphill battle for Earley and her staff to reach their current status, making what the program has accomplished even that more impressive.

“It wasn’t in the beginning. It certainly wasn’t as welcoming for the girls as it is now,” Earley said about the local support the program received during its infancy. “Everyone thinks it’s the boys that drive it, but we practice separate from the boys. We have a separate schedule than the boys.

yelm girls wrestlingJunior Bree Hyder, a transfer from Hoquiam, was a state placer last season.

“The boys have been great,” continued Earley.  “They support the girls now, but it hasn’t always been that way in Yelm. There was a time when they didn’t want this. We had to fight to get to where we are at. Now, the boys will now come in our mat room and help coach the girls. They’re wrestling partners with them. They want the girls to be successful.”

And with 30 plus state medals to their credit, that’s what the Tornados, who finished 10th overall as a team at last year’s state meet, have been for nearly a decade.

“I don’t need athletes. I need girls that will come out here and work hard and try,” Earley said. “Being athletic is great. It’s a bonus. I have a no wrestler left behind policy. I don’t care if you are not the best wrestler in the room. I am not going to leave you behind. We’re going to put just as much attention toward you as the state-level girls and that’s how you build a program.”

But that occurs only after the girls step into the mat room. How does Earley constantly get the high numbers to even turn out? Easy, she relies on the ever-true word-of-mouth method.

yelm girls wrestlingThe Tornados finished 10th at the state meet in 2015.

“My girls are my recruiters. Coaches always ask me, how do you get these numbers and I tell them I work for the state in Tumwater. I live Tumwater. My girls recruit,” Earley said. “Mainly (they recruit) on social media and in the hallways. They get their friends to turn out and those friends bring more friends. My whole approach to coaching is for them to have fun. We just really encourage the girls to recruit.”

That was the case for junior Jasmine Welch, a first-time wrestler this season.

“I didn’t even know we really had a wrestling team,” Welch said. “My friend talked me into it. I just wish I found it sooner. As soon as I started, it was amazing. I wanted to get more exercise and I was always sort of a roughhouser, so why not give wrestling a try? I was iffy at first, but as soon as I started I knew I loved it.”

The team is led this year by seniors Kaylin Wilson, Bailey Erickson, Madison Holmes, Mykaila Reach and Julia Sylstad with Chelsea Rochester headlining a strong sophomore class.

One new face is Hoquiam transfer Bree Hyder, who placed sixth in the 100-pound division at state last year as a sophomore and whose presence gives the Tornados a stronger chance at once again placing in the top 10 in state.

“We have a great feeder program in Yelm and we pull the middle school girls up with us so we can work with them during their seventh and eighth grade years.” Earley said. “It’s tough to compete for a state title until you get depth, until you have state champion-level wrestlers and you have to start that when they’re little. I think with this group we have coming up, with this freshmen group and the group of eighth graders we’ve been working with for two years, they’re going to be tough because they’ve been working with our seniors.”

FastSigns – A 15-Year Success Story

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 6:00am


fastsigns laceyFastSigns tackles any signage needs, big or small.

“Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing.” House Speaker Paul Ryan may not be local but he could easily be describing the 15-year success story of Thurston County’s FastSigns and owner Grace Kendall.

Corporate longevity studies show that only 26% of small businesses are still around after 15 years. For those that survive and thrive, customers can trust their ability to adapt, succeed, and provide quality products. Say marketers, “You can’t accidentally be in business for 25 years. Obviously, your company has done many things right and has been through a number of transitions more or less successfully—at least they turned out all right in the end even if there were bumps in the road.”

Despite changing formats, needs, and product popularity, Grace Kendall has adapted with the industry. A 24-year Army veteran, she purchased the local FastSigns franchise, from the previous owners wishing to relocate, when it was less than two years old. She saw the business as “a good opportunity” with military retirement approaching.

fastisgns laceyThe Lacey-based FastSigns business is owned by a 24-year Army veteran.

Kendall chose FastSigns because “the franchise name is very well respected; it’s always in the top rated franchises.” While the industry has shifted into more digital formats and away from traditional cut vinyl signage, she and her team will gladly sit down to discuss any project, need, and the best return on your advertising investment.

These days the “single most effective form of advertisement per dollar” comes from vehicle wraps says Kendall. FastSigns reports that “by advertising on your vehicle, you can generate more than 600 visual impressions for every mile driven, according to the American Trucking Association.” Grace moved into a 2,800 square foot location in 2013 specifically to include an automotive bay. Since then, they’ve completed such projects as a camouflage wrap for a touring USO bus that took 24 man hours.

vehicle wrapGrace Kendall’s team has wrapped 28 cars for the Washington Army National Guard.

A veteran herself, Kendall is “very proud” to work on military jobs and has completed signage work on the nearby JBLM campus and wrapped 28 cars for the Washington Army National Guard. They’ve also tackled projects for Amazon, O’Blarney’s, and custom Braille and ADA-compliant room signs for Silver Leaf Residences on Olympia’s west side. Grace admits she “really enjoys doing architectural contract work and project management” around the region.

With a small but growing staff, the FastSigns team prides themselves on quick turnaround for any need. Kendall invites anyone to call or stop by so they can “ask lots of questions, determine what you’re trying to accomplish, and provide a range of low to high end solutions.”

While “getting to the bigger companies to explain all we can do has been a challenge,” she stresses that “we’re primarily consultants and strive to satisfy the customer’s needs and expectations.”

fastsigns laceyGrace Kendall and her FastSigns team promote businesses across our region.

Over the years, Grace has come to appreciate local partnerships for advertising and networking. She regularly sponsors ads on television and online news sites, facilitates customer feedback through surveys and direct mailings, and belongs to such organizations as the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce where she’s an active board member.

Most signage jobs can be completed within 48 hours and no request is too big, small, or odd. FastSigns can facilitate business branding, mobile and digital marketing, and event materials ranging from corporate to community. Kendall encourages anyone with questions to call and schedule a time to meet. This “makes it as convenient as possible” for the customer and clears her calendar to focus entirely on their needs and specifics.

You can schedule a consultation online, by calling 360-438-3800, or emailing View lists of promotional products, visibility strategies, and completed projects on their local website. Let Grace Kendall and FastSigns’ 15-year success story help your company, event, or career succeed as well.


Create a Memorable Valentine at The Gift Gallery

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 6:00am


Submitted by The Gift Gallery LLC

With Christmas behind us, it seems like the perfect time to breathe a sigh of relief that gift shopping is over for another year. But the truth is that searching for something fun and unique to give a loved one is a year-round challenge, and one of the most daunting Gift Gallery Valentine ideas (1)holidays is still ahead of us – Valentine’s Day.

Whether you have been married for decades or your love is still young, there is no shortage of ways to creatively capture the spirit of your romance with a unique gift. Move over, chocolate and roses – don’t we all want to receive something truly personal and one-of-a-kind from our loved ones? Something that has real significance to our story?

Gift Gallery Valentine ideas (3)The Gift Gallery LLC in Tumwater strives to make this challenge just a little easier. From professionally appraised jewelry pieces to silly, sweet, or one-of-a-kind handcrafted items made by local artists, we carry special gifts to honor every loved one. We can even wrap a custom gift basket containing items hand-picked by you! Think outside the box this February, and let us help you choose a gift that will truly capture the heart of your Valentine.

The Gift Gallery LLC
(360) 972-0948

Local Students Take Home Choral Awards

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 3:24pm


Submitted by The Rochester School District 

Jayden White, a Grand Mound Elementary School 5th grader, will sing in the state Youth Honor Choir.Jayden White, a Grand Mound Elementary School 5th grader, will sing in the state Youth Honor Chorus.

Praises are being sung for two Rochester School District (RSD) choir students by the Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA). The girls have received top honors by being selected to participate in WMEA All-State choirs.

Grand Mound Elementary School’s (GMES) Jayden White will participate in the Youth Honor Chorus. She is in 5th grade and sings Soprano.  Jayden will be joining 570 other outstanding young performers in bands, choirs and orchestra. Nearly 1,800 students auditioned for the opportunity. They will gather on February 13 in Yakima, WA. “Singing makes me feel powerful,” shared Jayden, who previously has been chosen for other solo honors in her community.

Mariah Nelson, a freshman at Rochester High School (RHS) who sings Alto 2, was selected for WMEA’s High School All-State Choir. On February 10-14 in Yakima, she will join 1,030 musicians in band, choir and orchestra who were chosen from 2,559 who auditioned. Mariah has been selected two other times to participate in honor choirs. In addition to voice, Mariah is teaching herself to play the guitar and looks forward to drum lessons in the future. She is considering pursuing music in college.

Mariah Nelson, a freshman at Rochester High School (RHS) who sings Alto 2, was selected for WMEA’s High School All-State Choir.Mariah Nelson, a freshman at Rochester High School (RHS) who sings Alto 2, was selected for WMEA’s High School All-State Choir.

Both young women were selected through auditions after the opportunity was shared with them by their school music teacher, Mrs. Julia Gaul. The audition process is quite difficult requiring different rhythm reading, scales, echo patterns and ear training as well as a solo performance,” said Gaul. “I am extremely proud of the hard work these girls have put forth to not only participate in this opportunity, but in making themselves better musicians and vocalists.”

Studies show students who participate in the arts perform better in school and life. Learning through the arts — including visual, dance, music and theatre — contributes to the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, imagination and creativity. Art can bring every academic subject to life and enhance student engagement, as well as improve student learning in all subjects.

Gaul, who is the Choral Director at RSH and Music Specialist at GMES, also shared that another 12 RSD students in 4th and 5th grade will participant in a regional honor choir in Longview. That event is sponsored by the Southwest Washington chapter of WMEA.

Rochester School District provides rigorous academic programs to more 2,200 students, preparing them for lifelong learning, rewarding careers and productive citizenship. The district’s students and staff have received numerous state awards, including being named a 2013 and 2014 Washington State “School of Distinction.”

Silas Blak “Diamonds on Mic Stands”

K Records - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 1:42pm
 Silas Blak presents “Diamonds On Mic Stands” produced and mixed by Kjell Nelson from the album Editorials: (Wartunes) [KLP261].   The Silas Blak album Editorials: (Wartunes) [KLP261] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept.    
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Honoring Evergreen’s Steve Davis: Wednesday, February 10th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall in the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 1:23pm

Steve DavisSteve Davis is a documentary portrait and landscape photographer based in the Pacific Northwest.  His work has appeared in American PhotoHarper’s, the New York Times Magazine, Russian Esquire, and is in many collections, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Seattle Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the George Eastman House. He is a former 1st place recipient of the Santa Fe CENTER Project Competition, and two time winner of Washington Arts Commission/Artist Trust Fellowships.  Davis is the Coordinator of Photography, media curator and adjunct faculty member of The Evergreen State College. He is represented by the James Harris Gallery, Seattle.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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