Recent local blog posts

Spotlight on the Wildwood Building – A Community Hub

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 6:24am



By Jennifer Crain

spuds produce market

Spud’s Produce Market initiated the Wildwood Building revival when they opened their neighborhood grocery in 2012. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain.

I often walk past the Cloverfields farmhouse, the historical anchor of the Carlyon-North neighborhood in southeast Olympia. The house, which presided over a model dairy farm in the early twentieth century, has a bucolic look, with a gambrel roof and painted wooden siding. I never would have guessed that the Wildwood Building, located just a few blocks away, is its sibling.

Both were designed, a couple of decades apart, by Joseph Wohleb, the renowned Olympia architect known for designing the Lord Mansion (now the State Capital Museum) and many other prominent Olympia buildings. The Wildwood Building, notes the Olympia Historical Society, was designed during Wohleb’s transition “from his signature Mission style into Art Moderne, which echoed the sleek streamlining of the automobile industry.”

It is, indeed, charming, with an asymmetrical shape and a rotunda-like space surrounded by display windows on the north end of the building. Though for many years the building housed some beloved local businesses, neighborhood shoppers didn’t tend to gravitate there on a daily basis. That has changed. Two years ago this month, Dave and Karissa Jekel opened Spud’s Produce Market and three others soon followed: Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, Vic’s Pizzeria, and The Lucky Lunchbox. Now it’s a biking and walking destination for four surrounding neighborhoods and a destination for people from all over the city. At peak hours, it can be difficult to find a parking space.

Good design never goes out of style so perhaps it was only a matter of time. The 1938 shopping center was the first strip mall built in Olympia and was conceived as an integral part of the new the Wildwood Park subdivision, with the forward-thinking notion that residents of the then-suburban area would want to shop nearby, rather than traveling downtown.

olympia coffee roasting

Olympia Coffee Roasting Company eyed the Wildwood location for years. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain.

The G. C. Valley Shopping Center, as it was named, housed a grocery store, a pharmacy, and a flower shop. Even though it went through a less vibrant period in the recent past, the integrity of the structure and its seamless place in a residential area primed it for the rise of the buy-local movement.

Both Oliver Stormshak of Olympia Coffee Roasting Company and Rachel Lee of Vic’s Pizzeria say they’ve had an eye on the shopping center as a possible location for a long time.

“For years, we’ve seen it as having the potential to be a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented destination,” Stormshak says, adding that they’ve been “determined to grow the business with neighborhoods in mind. These ideas came together when Olympia Coffee was ready to expand and space in the Wildwood Building became available.”

Dave Jekel is excited that the building and its businesses are so popular.

“A great old building has been transformed back into being relevant again. It’s had life breathed back into it. It’s exciting.”

He notes that his customers seem to be energized by the idea of making a smaller footprint when they shop and dine out, rather than shopping at big box stores.

“I think people are hungry for that up here: more of a walk-to greengrocer (where you can) get what you need or grab lunch or dinner. They consider it their own little spot. The neighborhood has taken ownership and has pride in this,” explains Jekel.

vics pizza

Vic’s Pizzeria staff serve up slices to neighbors. Photo credit: Jennifer Crain.

The owners of all the Wildwood businesses are proud to be part of the transformation. Each has a story about how their business unfolded. Dave Jekel made a U-turn when he saw a for-rent sign in the building. Both Olympia Coffee Roasting Company and Vic’s Pizzeria had already built a fan base in Olympia and were ripe for new locations. The staff at Swing Wine Bar had just started contemplating a sandwich shop following an after-hours sandwich-making blitz.

They all say there’s a positive synergy between the businesses. Jekel says each one of them is careful not to have any layover in product and they patronize one another’s businesses, each making sure the location has something for everybody.

“We’re not trying to do everything. We’re trying to do one thing really well,” he says. “That way, you can build more of a relationship. It’s more of a community. We all feel like neighbors.”

Rachel Lee sums it up for all the Wildwood business owners, “We are very happy to be a part of the coolest strip mall in Olympia!”

The Wildwood Building is located on Capitol Boulevard SE between Eskridge Way and O’Farrell Avenue in Olympia.


Twisties: Good Frozen Yogurt, Great Philosophy

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 6:00am



By Eric Wilson-Edge

frozen yogurt olympia lacey tumwaterScroll down the Facebook page for Twisties Frozen Yogurt and you’ll notice a theme. Lots of people “like” Twisties and not just for its fro-yo. Multiple people express their thanks to owner Chad Thomas and his family for their support. You see, Twisties is big on giving back to the community.

“I love the kids,” says Thomas. “Some kid is raising money to go to state and I’ll typically give them a few bucks.” Twisties opened nearly three years ago. Since then Thomas estimates he’s donated more than $40,000 to various causes. That number includes gift cards and fundraisers held at the store.

Thomas grew up in the area. He spent his early years in Lacey before moving to Tenino. “All of this was logging roads,” says Thomas. He points out the window to the Lowe’s off College and Yelm where the frozen yogurt shop is located. “We used to stable our horses nearby. Back then you could also ride right into town.”

lacey frozen yogurt

Twisties has a variety of toppings to suit any taste.

Much has changed since Thomas was a kid, but his philosophy hasn’t. Chad and his wife Debbie have two children. Their daughter just auditioned for her first movie role and their son is a budding soccer star. “I didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up,” says Chad. “I think now that I’m in a better position I want to help as much as I can.”

Chad Thomas loves soccer. He played for 12 years and has been coaching for at least 14. The first thing you notice when you enter Twisties is the frozen yogurt. The second are the pictures. Thomas has a wall dedicated to the various teams and people he’s worked with through the years.

“I work so much, Monday through Sunday,” says Thomas. “When I coach work is gone, it’s all about soccer.” Thomas talks about his players like they were his own children which isn’t surprising when you consider the history. “I’ve been coaching some of these kids since second grade. I raised them in soccer.”

frozen yogurt olympia lacey tumwaterThomas exudes calmness. We chat like we’ve been friends for years.  There are no awkward pauses or prolonged silences. People in customer service should be friendly but that’s not always the case. It’s a skill, one Thomas possesses. “I had a lady come in here the other day. She saw the soccer photos and we started talking about soccer then horses then shooting. It went on like that for quite a while.”

Twisties is a cozy place. I sit in a large overstuffed chair. The sun is out, natural light warms my arms and back. Chad got the idea to start Twisties during a vacation in Texas which is funny when you consider he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. “We went out to a yogurt store and my family loved it,” says Thomas.  “I just watched my family have fun and watched other families have fun.”

It’s no surprise that Chad and his wife tried to recreate that experience with Twisties. “We like to treat others like family,” says Thomas. A few customers trickle in during our interview.  It’s early and business won’t pick up until later. Thomas strikes up a conversation with each person. A few are regulars, some are new but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking.


frozen yogurt olympia lacey tumwaterTwisties Frozen Yogurt

5500 Corporate Center Loop SE

Lacey, WA 98503




Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.


Sand in the City Hosts First-Ever Masters’ Exhibition Featuring Local and World-Renowned Sculptors

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 3:53pm



Submitted by The Hands On Children’s Museum

Sand in the CIty Masters SculptureThe South Sound’s largest family festival, Sand in the City®,  is bringing expert sand sculptors from the West Coast to captivate festival-goers at its first Masters’ Exhibition.

The masters will soak, stomp and shake sand into works of art Saturday, August 23, and Sunday, August 24, at the Hands On Children’s Museum on Olympia’s East Bay.

Public viewing of the Masters’ Exhibition will take place from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors can view the masterpieces and vote for their favorites. The winners will be announced at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Bert Adams, master sculptor and Sand in the City founder, has gathered a talented group of sculptors to wow visitors. Members of this group have participated in or won world sand sculpting competitions. One is even classically trained in sculpture design and has also carved ice and snow. All of the masters are Sand in the City graduates, Adams said.

Solo sculptors are Lisa Donze, Eric Hawley, Sandis Kondrats and Michael Velling. Those sculpting in pairs are Bert Adams and Shiloh Kauzlarich, Tom Rieger and Kate LeGault, Dave Miller and Rocco DeBrodt, Pam Leno and Lorie Gordo, and Jim Butler and Amos Callendar.

Adams said it takes a special person to be a sand sculptor and he is confident this group will put on a great show for families, especially the younger children who already love playing in the sand.

“Watching sand sculpting can be very inspiring for kids,” he said.

sand in the city

Master Sand Carvers will create the beloved, giant sand sculptures at Sand in the City this year. Photo credit: Aaron Barna

Also during the event weekend is a free Beach Party where the public can enjoy giant sandboxes loaded with sand toys and sculpting tools, along with 40 interactive art and science activities in the museum, spread around the East Bay Plaza and streets adjacent to the museum.

Activities include a rock climbing wall, giant bubbles, a Tot Spot Early Learning Center and museum-led art activities. Make-and-take crafts include Hawaiian leis, wax paper flowers and sand bands. Inside the museum, families can learn about the music of the Pacific Islands and make musical instruments and crafts.

Sunday, Aug. 24, is Grandparents’ Day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Families can enjoy all of the fun activities of Saturday’s Beach Party and participate in additional activities designed for children and grandparents to do together.

During Sand in the City, all event activities and entertainment on the streets surrounding the museum and the East Bay Public Plaza are free. Donations are appreciated and support the museum’s Free Access Program at the Hands On Children’s Museum.

Festival-goers can also explore museum exhibits Aug. 22-24 with a discounted admission rate to the museum of just $5 per person. Families can play and learn in nine themed galleries and 150 hands-on exhibits, including MakeSpace in the Arts & Parts Studio, where kids can tinker, design and build using real tools and materials.

For the price of admission, festival visitors can also explore the museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center, including new exhibits opening on Sand in the City weekend such as the giant trike loop, stage and Children’s Garden in the Outdoor Discovery Center.

For more information about Sand in the City®, visit


Learn to Love Scrawny Petunias

Maria Mudd Ruth - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 1:22pm

I thought I was doing the right thing for my garden this summer with a little boost of all-purpose fertilizer. My garden is mostly drought-tolerant (save water!) flowering plants (feed the bees and butterflies!) mixed in with some garden vegetables (secure our local food supply!). This fertilizer is distributed by Down to Earth (eco-friendly!) in Eugene, Oregon (go Pacific Northwest!) and I bought this quart  at my local co-op grocery (buy local!) in a recyclable container (save the Earth!). However...I didn't read the fine print.

The main source of all this goodness for my plants comes from fish meal. This meal is not made from "unwanted" fish parts leftover after fish sticks are formed, but from whole small fish known as "schooling fish" or "forage fish." These include herring, anchovies, sardines, sand lance, smelts, saury, menhaden, and others that you don't see on dinner tables (but get picked off of pizza or taken canned on camping trips). These forage fish live in oceans around the globe and are suffering huge population declines from over-harvesting.

How much "fish emulsion" is the world using on their petunias? Garden fertilizer is just one application--but one we can easily do without. It's harder to get forage-fish-based food out of  our diets and our pet's diets. Forage fish are ground into meal for industrial-scale aquaculture (farm-raised salmon are fed red-dyed pellets made from fish meal, for instance), pig feed, cow food, pet foods, fish-oil supplements for humans.

What's the big deal about these little fish? They are critical in all marine ecosystems. They are a major, energy-rich source of food for larger fish, marine mammals, and marine birds (including the marbled murrelet). Depletion of forage fish triggers population declines in the rest of the food web; seabirds starve, cannot successfully breed, and cannot feed their chicks.

The conservation community--particularly national, state, and local Audubon Society chapters--are bringing the issue of forage fish to the forefront, with a focus on ensuring adequate supplies of forage fish for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway.  

HOW TO HELP: The Pacific Marine Fishery Council is accepting public comments for its September 2014 meeting. The final deadline is Sept. 3 to submit your comments (it's fine to cut and paste these, below!). Please send an email thanking the Council for its work to protect currently unmanaged forage fish and asking it to move forward by:

  • Incorporating unmanaged forage fish as ecosystem component species into each of its existing fishery management plans.
  • Setting a limit on the amount of unmanaged forage fish that may be taken in existing fisheries for groundfish and other species.

Submit your letter to

For more information and resources from Audubon Washington on this important issue, please click here.

If you live on the Atlantic Coast, read about what's in your fertilizer (menhaden!) here.

Categories: Local Environment

Helsing Junction Sleep Over 2014, HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!

K Records - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 11:22am
The Helsing Junction Sleepover begins today and runs through Sunday afternoon, August 15-17 2014.  This annual event takes place at the 30 acre Helsing Junction organic farm, a beautiful natural venue, just outside of Rochester, Washington. Opportunities for camping, picnicking, swimming, underground films and of course rock ‘n’ roll combine for the best summer weekend you can imagine! This year’s […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

The War on Food Waste – We can all Win

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 9:35am



Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste

Photo Courtesy of Thurston County Solid Waste

Photo Courtesy of Thurston County Solid Waste

The topic of wasted food is on everyone’s minds. How could it not be when Americans are throwing out 25% of their edible food? The percentage gets closer to 40% when you include retailers and restaurants, but the take-away  is that, in the developed world, consumers and retail/restaurants share roughly equal responsibility. And wasted food impacts lots of different things that are important to Thurston County residents.

For starters, the American family of four is wasting roughly $1600 a year, on average, for food they don’t eat. That’s $130/month! With the economy making a very slow crawl out of the depths, no one can afford to throw that money away with their rotten tomatoes. Remembering that one in six people are unsure of where they’ll get their next meal makes that affordability even more important.

Food is costing more too, in part because of the increasing use of natural resources needed to produce that food – things like farmland and irrigation water. Every year, America is wasting an amount roughly equal to the annual flow of the Mississippi river to irrigate just the food we waste. So…we’re paying more for the food we eat, and for the food we throw out, because it costs more to grow and water it.

Add to this natural resource cost, the fact that when we waste food it decomposes and creates major greenhouse gases. If “Wasted Food” were a country, it’d be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China. Yes, really. Shocking, right?

What’s even more crazy-making is how easy making impactful changes can be. Sure, it takes a little effort, but this is not sacrifice-your-lifestyle stuff.  Instead, positive change is as easy as: making a quick menu plan at the start of the week, sticking to your grocery list, preparing and serving less (allow seconds), eating leftovers, and using your freezer more.

Photo Courtesy of Thurston County Solid Waste

Photo Courtesy of Thurston County Solid Waste

If you knew that doing a handful of things might save your family hundreds of dollars, help your community and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases, wouldn’t you do it?

Some Thurston residents already have! Here’s what some say about the experience:

  • When I bought and prepared less, I could SEE what was in the fridge and was more likely to eat it.
  • It was great. We learned a lot!
  • This program has helped me to be more mindful of the quantity of food I am buying. I now go the grocery store with shopping list in hand and do a pretty good job of sticking to the list. Even though my trips to the grocery store have increased (average about 2 trips per week), total dollars spent on groceries has decreased. I’m glad I took the time to take this challenge. Thank you!

Taking the challenge is easy. Give it a try and see for yourself.  The packet download is free at If you want your church, workplace, school, or club to know about the financial, social and economic impacts of wasting food, and how they can waste less, contact us at and we’ll come give a free presentation on this topic. For more tips, ideas, recipes and news about innovations and research, join our Waste Less Food Facebook page where you can also sign up for The Clean Plate quarterly newsletter.


Woman Wins Biggest Bingo Jackpot in Lucky Eagle History

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 9:19am



Submitted by Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel CEO John Setterstrom presents Dorothy Black of Olympia, Wash. with a check for $133,639. She won the jackpot playing Bingo at the casino on July 29.  – Photo courtesy of Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel.

Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel CEO John Setterstrom presents Dorothy Black of Olympia WA with a check for $133,639. She won the jackpot playing Bingo at the casino on July 29. – Photo courtesy of Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

When Dorothy Black of Olympia, Wash., went to Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel in Rochester, Wash. on July 29 to play Bingo, she was hoping to win big, but she never expected to make history by winning $133,639, the largest bingo jackpot the casino has ever awarded.

Black won the Teeter Totter Bingo game as part of the regular evening Bingo program and what she thought was a nice $300 prize. It wasn’t until after a Lucky Eagle Bingo team member looked at her card, that she was informed that she had also won the MPBingo® Blue Jackpot, a multi-progressive Bingo jackpot linked to more than 20 casinos nationwide.

“I thought I had won $300,” Black said. “When they told me I had won $133,639, I just freaked.”

Word spread quickly and soon everyone in the Bingo Hall was standing and cheering, a feeling Black described as “unreal.”

“It’s awesome to have one of our own win such a huge regional jackpot,” Lucky Eagle CEO John Setterstrom said. “Thanks Dorothy for choosing Lucky Eagle.”

Black plays Bingo a couple times a month at Lucky Eagle, traveling from Olympia because she loves the Bingo staff, the games and her fellow Bingo players.

“I love Bingo at Lucky Eagle,” she said.

With her winnings, Black is planning a trip to bring her whole family to visit her ill brother whom she hasn’t seen in more than 25 years, she said.

“I have other plans (for the money), too, but that’s the most important one.”

Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel has live Bingo five days a week, and features among the richest programs in the region. Guests can buy-in for $4 into the MPBingo® jackpots that are featured within several bingo games.

“Everyone who plays Planet Bingo (MPBingo® Jackpot) here hopes of winning,” Bingo Manager David Dupuis said. “Winning the Blue jackpot would be like winning the lottery!”

MPBingo® Blue Jackpot is a supplement to regular Bingo program in which players can win large jackpots by getting a special Bingo within regular games. The last MPBingo® Blue Jackpot awarded was in April 2014 for $182,002 to a man playing at Ft. McDowell Casino near Phoenix, Ariz.


Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel is proudly owned and operated by the Chehalis Tribe. The casino features more than 1,000 slot machines, plus live poker, blackjack, keno and bingo. The newly expanded 171-room Eagles Landing Hotel is connected to the casino. More information on upcoming events and promotions at Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel is available at


SPSCC Partners with Thurston County Jail to provide GED classes

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 8:28am



By Cameron Maltby for South Puget Sound Community College

The Thurston County Jail program at South Puget Sound Community College provides inmates at the Thurston County Correctional Facility a free opportunity to earn their General Education Development (GED) certificate through SPSCC while incarcerated. The program began in 1996, and for the last ten years has had 2,138 registered students with 292 graduates earning their GED.

The program is taught by Adult Basic Education instructor Bonnie Rose. She has taught the program for seven years.

Students study GED materials during the week and take tests on Fridays. The SPSCC Testing Center goes to the jail and administers the GED tests.

“It’s a big collaboration. Different parts of the college work together, the Testing Center, the Adult Basic Education Department, Thurston County Corrections, and also the Thurston County Commissioners,” said Rose. The commissioners pay for half of the program’s expenses, including the student tuition and testing fees. A memorandum of understanding says that SPSCC will pay all other fees.

The program has its origins in Mason County at Olympic College. Rose began her teaching career at Olympic College. She started working as a classroom assistant and was later hired by the college to start a GED program at the Mason County Correctional Facility. Rose worked there for five years before transferring to SPSCC.

Rose teaches two classes at the jail: “One of the classes the college pays me to teach, and one of the classes the jail pays me to teach,” she said.  All funding goes through SPSCC. Officially, Rose works for SPSCC, but the correctional facility pays for half of her salary.

Since its start in 1996, the GED  program has served about 3,037 students and awarded 546 GEDs. Many students continue their education after going through the program.

To learn more about the program, contact Bonnie Rose at


Little Red Schoolhouse, Mixx 96.1 Back-to-School Supplies and Fund Drive

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 8:24am



Submitted by Little Red Schoolhouse

olympia free school suppliesAs part of the Little Red Schoolhouse Project, Mixx 96.1 (96.1 FM radio) is holding a Back-to-School Supplies and Fund Drive Friday, August 15 from 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

Drop by their broadcast site at the corner of State and Washington in downtown Olympia with school supplies (such as lined paper, 3-ring binders, rulers, markers, child-size scissors, pencils, and backpacks), coats or new socks and underwear, or cash to buy calculators, backpacks, and school supplies in bulk. Used clothing, aside from coats and jackets, will not be accepted this year.

Checks can be made out to Little Red Schoolhouse and mailed to: P.O. Box 6302, Olympia, WA 98507.

Supplies, backpacks, socks and underwear will be distributed FREE to all Thurston County families in need at a new location, Komachin Middle School, 3650 College St. SE, Lacey (IT route #64) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, August 21.

The Little Red Schoolhouse Project is under the umbrella of TOGETHER!. Partners include Junior League of Olympia, Sound to Harbor Head Start/ECEAP, Community Action Council, The United Churches, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Michael’s Parish, Independent Order of Oddfellows, Olympia-Lacey Church of God, Garden Courte Memory Community, and Mixx 96.1 KXXO.

For more information or to volunteer your services, please call Community Action Council, 360-438-1100 extension 1143 or see

Olympia’s Own Bon Odori Festival Celebrates Diversity

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 8:12am



Submitted by Dr. Diana Yu

Bon OdoriOne of the things I love most about living in Olympia is the way we celebrate diversity.  Instead of pointing out our differences, we embrace everyone else into our culture and traditions.

A multi-ethnic group of dancers, led by Reiko Callner, have been practicing for the past month so that they in turn can help other community dancers at the upcoming Bon Odori Festival held August 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. on Water Street in Downtown Olympia.

The annual Bon Odori is a street dancing festival honoring ancestors.  In Olympia, it is organized by the Japanese American Citizens’ League and welcomes participation from the entire community.  In addition to the traditional Japanese folk dances, there are Taiko drumming exhibitions, food vendors, street lanterns and a whole lot of folks dressed in traditional attire.  The entire Water Street area by Capitol Lake is turned into a little bit of Japan for one evening.

Come join in the celebration, enjoy some Japanese delicacies, step into the circle and try some traditional dance, take pictures and when dusk settles, help carry lanterns on a walk around the lake and honor your ancestors.  It is a wonderful tradition and one you and your family can enjoy as part of our Olympia community.  For just one evening, experience a bit of Japanese culture and tradition.Bon Odori - Taiko 4

Festivities start at 5 p.m. with food booths, followed by demonstrations from River Ridge High School Taiko drummers and Aikido in Olympia martial artists.  Traditional music and dancing begins at 7 p.m.  There will be a group dressed in Japanese yukata (summer kimonos) helping to lead the dances.

Folks interested in learning the dances before Saturday can attend a free workshop from 7 – 9 p.m. on Friday August 15 at the Olympia Center.

For more information contact Reiko Callner 360 791-3295 or Bob Nakamura 360 556-7562.

More Train Videos

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 7:08am

I became interested in trains because of what is going on at the Port with importing the ceramic proppant frac sand, and coal and oil trains. After having seen a number of trains going through the area, I can say they are awesome in their own right. I have been posting more video of trains passing through the county on the BNSF Railway. Here are a few to sample, in case you're interested in trains. If you think they are awesome, then you might want to watch full screen HD and turn the volume up!

Robert F. W. Whitlock YouTube Channel

Here's my most recent Oil Train video, this one was going quite fast by N Rich Rd: logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

read more

There's no paywall to public records in Whatcom County

Olympia Time - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 6:36am
So, there shouldn't be one anywhere else.

If you're looking for public documents from the Thurston County Clerk (or from practically any other county clerk in Washington State) you need to pay exorbitant fees. Like almost $30 for downloading a 16 page document from a public database.

But, not in Whatcom County. The Whatcom County superior court maintains a public database that offers direct access to court filings with no charge. As it should be.

Here is a link to the Whatcom County Superior Court database. Before searching for court documents, you need a case number, which you can search by individual name or business name here.

Once you plug in a case number you're interested in, you are given direct access to the entire court record.

What in most counties is an unnecessarily arduous and expensive process, is simple and free in Whatcom County. 
I emailed the Whatcom clerk, Dave Reynolds, about his county's choice not to charge, and he responded:This system was in place before my time, but I fully support it. We feel it saves on both staff time and foot traffic into the court house to obtain documents. We wouldn't charge for someone to come into the office to look at a file. If they chose to make copies, there would be a cost and staff time. I believe it actually saves money by freeing up staff time to do more important tasks. We have had significant reductions in force over the past several years. Further, it provides equal access regardless of financial resources.Providing for free what should already be free not only makes it easier on the clerk but provides equal access. That sounds great.
This county shows that we don't really need to charge $4 transaction fees plus $.25 per page for public documents. Even though state law allows clerks to collect expensive fees for public documents (much more than what you'd pay for a document from any other part of government), Whatcom County doesn't.
An interesting wrinkle is that what also makes Whatcom County different is that it doesn't have an elected clerk watching over court records. Whatcom County rewrote its county charter in the late 1970s and rolled the function of the clerks office into the superior court. I might be reading into that fact a bit too much, but having to support an entire other office aside from just the courts probably justifies keeping open as many revenue streams as possible.
I emailed both candidates for Thurston County Clerk about what they thought of the public records paywall, neither of whom have written back yet.
What Whatcom County shows is that there is really no reason (other than just bringing more money into a specific county office) to charge so much for public records.
These aren't private documents, there is no reason the clerks' offices should be charging so much for them. From RECAP the Law:We are a nation of laws. Our law is created not only via legislation, but also through the adjudicative process of the courts. Whereas we generally have open and free access to the statutes that bind us, case law has had a more mixed history. Earlier experiments in secret proceedings did not go well. Western law subsequently developed strong precedents for access to judicial proceedings — citing the importance of transparency in promoting court legitimacy, accountability, fairness, and democratic due process. When the law is accessible, “ignorance of the law is no excuse."The public interest is not served when only those who can afford it can have access to what goes on in our courts.

Cock & Swan “Looking Out (Brian Binning Remix)”

K Records - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 1:57am
“Looking Out” is a selection from the new Cock & Swan (Hush Hush Records) album Secret Angles, as remixed by Brian Binning. Cock and Swan are Ola Hungerford and Johnny Goss from Bothel, Washington. Secret Angles was recorded at their Dandelion Gold Studio. The first Cock & Swan album Unrecognize is available now from the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Milne’s thesis falls apart under review

Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 2:53pm

Over the past few weeks, Dr. David Milne has been rolling out an interesting thesis that Capitol Lake is actually a benefit to the local environment. I don’t want to spend too much time going back over what he’s presented, but I wanted to point out what happens when people who don’t already support Capitol Lake or are ex-colleagues of Milne take a look at his thesis.

At the request of the Squaxin Island Tribe, Jonathan Frodge (CV), board member and past president of the Washington Lakes Protection Association, provided a review of Milne’s paper.

In response to Milne’s points that “I find that the Lake does not have negative effects on Budd Inlet and that the Lake improves the water quality of the Inlet”, and that “Capitol Lake is the Deschutes River Watershed’s biggest and best asset for preventing and reducing water quality degradation in Budd Inlet” Frodge wrote “While this report raises some valid points, I do not agree with either of the above statements.”

Dr. Frodge goes into detail concerning the shortcomings in Dr. Milne’s paper. You can read Frodge’s entire review here.

The Department of Ecology also directly responded to Milne, provided much needed context to his thesis. Their response boils down to that Milne ignores the impact of organic carbon:

Plant growth in Capitol Lake discharges more organic carbon to Budd Inlet than would occur if the Deschutes River and Percival Creek flowed into Budd Inlet directly. As the organic carbon decays, oxygen is used up in the process. This causes lower oxygen levels than would occur without the dam in place.

Lastly, it’s interesting to take a look at what kind of independent review Milne did get before releasing his thesis. This is from a letter from the Squaxin Island Tribe:

A document claiming to be a “Peer Review” was included with Dr. Milne’s paper. It was less than two pages long and simply consisted of copies of emails from four individuals stating that the paper had been reviewed. Most responses consisted of one or two sentences and none found any issues with the paper. Tribal staff asked for the actual review papers, not the emails, and were told that the two page document was the “peer review”. The review of Dr. Milne’s paper was conducted by what appears to be four current and past faculty members of Evergreen State College. Curriculum vitae or statements of experience were not included as would be expected in an open review.

Based upon information available through Evergreen the credentials of the reviewers appear to be:

  • Dr. Gerardo Chin-Leo, Ph.D. – oceanography and marine biology
  • Dr. Erik Thuesen, Ph.D. – marine biology
  • Oscar H. Soule, Ph.D. – ecology
  • Kaye V Ladd, Ph.D. – inorganic chemistry

Other than Dr. Chin-Leo with his background in oceanography, the review group appears to have different backgrounds than would be expected for a review of a TMDL and its related modeling. This would not necessarily disqualify these outside reviewers; however, Tribal staff found it odd that reviewers whose expertise is for the most part outside of the subject area and who found no issues at all with a paper that essentially seeks to overturn the work of highly qualified personnel provided no meaningful review comments.

On the other hand, the original research by the state Department of Ecology that Milne was criticizing has gone through several rounds of technical review over the last four years. You can read hundreds of pages of this review process (including emails between state staff and reviewers) below:

Categories: Local Environment

Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 009

K Records - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 2:20pm
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is where we store all the cultural artifacts that are uniquely K. Host Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers) interviews Underpass from Vancouver B.C. who stop by the Dub Narcotic Studio for a few laughs. We listen to songs from their new album Assimilation, due out soon on Desire Records. We also […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Gearlust: KAPA Continental

K Records - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 11:00am
One of the more iconic guitars available for studio users would be the KAPA Continental, or “Falcon” guitar, permanently emblazoned in the minds of Dub Narcotic Sound System fans everywhere.  A guitar so quintessentially Dub Narcotic Studio – Olympia, Wash 98501, perhaps more than any other piece of equipment in the studio.  This fixture has […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

August 13 Music in the Park Concert Moved Due to Weather

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:13am



Submitted by Olympia Downtown Association

Due to inclement weather overnight and the moisture levels in Sylvester Park, the performance by the Tacoma Concert Band has been moved to the Washington Center for the Performing Arts located just half a block away from Sylvester Park (512 Washington St. SE). The Tacoma Concert Band will still perform from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. and concert admission remains FREE to the public.

Remember, parking is free after 5 p.m. in downtown Olympia (excluding Diamond lots).

Support this wonderful community event by purchasing a commemorative button for $3. Buttons are available at all concerts.

Remember to enter our FREE raffle each week. Must be present to win.

This event is sponsored by Olympia Downtown YMCA.

For more information regarding Music in the Park, click here.


Four Evergreen Swim Club Members Compete at Western Zone Championships

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 9:52am



By Gail Wood

color graphicsLast September, when Randy Trowbridge returned to Olympia to become the head coach of the Evergreen Swim Club, his mission was to raise the level of performance.

Consider it mission accomplished.

With Trowbridge’s team committing to two-a-day workouts, four Evergreen swimmers – Hannah Barker, Annika Eisele, Everett Werner and Alex Wright – qualified and placed at the Western Zone Championship meet at Federal Way in early August.

evergreen swim club

Four Evergreen Swim Club members competed at the Western Zone Championships. (From left): Annika Eisele, Hannah Barker, Alex Wright and Everett Werner

At the Pacific Northwest championships, a qualifier for the Western Zone meet, Wright won seven of the eight events he qualified in, helping Evergreen take a best-ever 11th place finish. Evergreen had 14 swimmers qualify for that meet.

“They’ve made some great strides this year,” Trowbridge said about his team. “They’ve worked hard for it. So, they’ve earned it. They’re swimming at a totally different level now.”

At the Pacific Northwest championships, Wright, competing in the 14-year-old division, was a one-man team as he won the 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle, 800 freestyle and 1,500 freestyle. He placed third in the 200 IM. His winning 400 IM time broke a 12-year-old meet record.

A week later at the Western Zone and against some of the top swimmers in the country, Wright won three events, placing first in the 800 freestyle, 400 freestyle, and the 200 freestyle. He placed third in the 100 back stroke, second in the 200 butterfly and fifth in the 200 backstroke. Wright also swam legs on four relays, competing on the 400 medley (10th), 200 freestyle (10th), 400 medley (12th), and the 200 medley relay (second).

evergreen swim club

Alex Wright stands behind the starting blocks before his 200 butterfly race.

Werner competed in six individual events at the Western Zone, placing seventh in the 800 free, seventh in the 200 back, 15th in the 400 IM, 10th in the 400 freestyle, sixth in the 1,500 freestyle and seventh in the 200 butterfly. In the relays, Werner swam a leg on the 400 free (10th), 200 free (10th) 400 medley (second) and 200 medley (second).

Trowbridge, who helped start the Evergreen Swim Club 31 years ago, is impressed with his team’s progress.

“I’m very proud of them,” Trowbridge said. “And I’m impressed with their poise in managing two championship meets essentially back to back and doing so well.”

At Western Regional, which included teams from 12 west coast states and was held in Federal Way, Barker and Eisele also placed. Barker was 10th in the 200 backstroke, third in the 800 free, 15th in the 100 back, 16th in the 400 free, and 10th in the 1,500 free. She also swam on relays in the 400 free (ninth), 400 medley (11th) and 200 medley (12th).

Eisele swam in two individual events and three relays. She placed ninth in the 50 butterfly and 12th in the 100 butterfly.

Tiffany Wright, an Evergreen Club assistant coach and Alex’s mother, was impressed with Evergreen’s improvement in the past year.

evergreen swim club

Everett Werner takes a breath during the 400 IM.

“They worked very hard,” Wright said. “Swimming can be so difficult because it’s a singular sport. It’s not really a team sport. You’re in the water by yourself. Swim up and down the pool. You have teammates. But you’re under water so much of the time.”

As a result, Wright said it’s the individual swimmer who has to push themselves.

Trowbridge is pleasantly surprised by his team’s progress in the past 11 months.

“It was a surprise to me what they did,” he said. “You do that with training and raising everyone to a new level of fitness.”

Trowbridge began coaching while attending Olympia High School, working with the YMCA. After swimming at Western Washington University, Trowbridge returned to Olympia and was part of the founding of the Evergreen Swim Club in 1983. In 1986, he moved to Wisconsin and coached the Verona Aquatics Club until returning to Olympia last year.

evergreen swim club

Annika Eisele swims backstroke.

“I am back where it all started and my dream is to guide as many athletes as I possibly can in fulfilling their dreams in competitive swimming,” Trowbridge said.

Trowbridge sees and appreciates the lessons swimming teaches. He said it helps young swimmers develop discipline, determination, leadership, poise and perseverance. In swimming, as in other sports, Trowbridge said the biggest challenge is learning how to cope with setbacks, with defeat.

“You’ve been knocked down and then you have to get back up,” Trowbridge said. “It doesn’t matter if you fall down. You just don’t want to lie down. You have to stand back up. Every race is a new beginning.”

That’s one of the many lessons Trowbridge teaches his swimmers at Evergreen Swim Club.

evergreen swim club

Hannah Barker swims the 400 freestyle.

Now, Trowbridge is looking forward to taking them to the next step, to the next level of competition where his swimmers start qualifying for national meets. Alex Wright has already qualified for a national meet in Orlando, Florida.

“That will take us to a totally different level,” Trowbridge said. “We have a few others knocking on that door. That’s the next thing. I’m excited for the kids. But having been there before I know that means a lot of travel.”

To learn more about the Evergreen Swim Club, click here.

The Volunteer Pillars of the Little Red Schoolhouse Project

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/13/2014 - 9:27am



By Lisa Herrick

hometown logo‘Tis the season for school supply shopping.

Schools have posted supply lists on their websites, sent out welcome back letters including the lists, as well as distributed the list of requested items to local stores. Having spent the last few weeks strategically reviewing sales flyers against my children’s school supply lists, shopping is time consuming and financially demanding. The long list for crayons, markers, pencils and notebooks is overwhelming.  Even the cheery “Happy Shopping” statement at the end of the school supply list, while certainly well-intentioned is a daunting statement.

olympia school supplies

Liz Kapust, pictured in red Little Red Schoolhouse (LRSH) apron, poses with volunteers who helped with the set up for Distribution Day in 2013. Kapust has volunteered for LRSH for sixteen years.

Sometimes school supply shopping is not a happy experience. Often families are faced not with which color of notebook to choose but rather if they can even afford the notebook. Returning to school and shopping for school supplies can be stressful or even a financial impossibility.  Fortunately, in our community the Little Red Schoolhouse Project (LRSH) has made school supply shopping fun, pleasurable and financially possible.

The goal of the LRSH is to see every child start school with basic school supplies, a backpack, new socks and underwear, and an adequate clean coat. It is best known for its annual free Distribution Day, which will occur on Thursday, August 21 in its new location of Komachin Middle School. While thousands of volunteers and families convene for the one day extravaganza each August, two women have worked relentlessly year-round to make Distribution Day possible for the families in Thurston County.

Denise Hardcastle and Liz Kapust, both board members of LRSH have been instrumental to the success of the non-profit organization. Hardcastle, a board member since 2007, is a retired teacher from Komachin Middle School. “As a former teacher, it is my absolute joy to see children of all ages come to LRSH Distribution Day to pick out a backpack and get the school supplies they need to begin their school year successfully.  It is the goal of LRSH to send every child back to school with pride regardless of their circumstances and on Distribution Day we are able to do that for thousands of children,” shares Hardcastle.

olympia school supplies

Denise Hardcastle (right), Little Red Schoolhouse Board Member, enjoying a break and friendship with fellow volunteer Lori Allsup during last year’s distribution.

“In 2013, supplies and clothing were given to 3,384 students,” continues Hardcastle.  ”Providing school supplies, backpacks and coats to that number of students in our community would not be possible without the support of local donors such as Junior League of Olympia, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, and Capital Lakefair.

Hardcastle adds that MIXX 96 hosts Radio Day where people can drive or stop by with donations. Volunteers will be standing on the corner of State Avenue and Washington Street on Friday, August 15.

Kapust, lead of the school supplies section of LRSH has been collecting, organizing and distributing school supplies for LRSH since 1998. “I am amazed at how the program has grown in the sixteen years that I have been involved. The school supply budget in 1998, my first year volunteering, was only $2,000. Now that budget is $26,000. We could not serve as many people as we do without the generous support of Thurston County residents,” shares Kapust.

Kapust originally became involved with LRSH before having her two children, Ryan, 13 and Ella, 11. Kapust comments, “Ryan and Ella have grown up with LRSH and look forward to helping out each year. In fact, Ryan recently mentioned he wants me to be sure to stay involved until he is out of high school.”

olympia school supplies

Jessica Hill and family are both recipients of Little Red Schoolhouse as well as volunteer during set up for Distribution Day scheduled for August 21.

Both Hardcastle and Kapust share that participating with LRSH has numerous rewards, including enabling many children in our community to return to school with pride, witnessing the incredible support and generosity of our community, and the energizing experience of working alongside so many caring volunteers.

And, some volunteers were previous recipients of generosity.  Hardcastle explains, “Jessica Hill and her children have not only been on the receiving end of LRSH but believe in giving back by volunteering their time for a number of years. The Hill family arrives at the beginning of setup for distribution week and just dives right into whatever needs to be done. We know we can count on them every year as volunteers and we love their commitment to do their part for their community.”

LRSH is dependent on volunteers. Throughout the year volunteers from local churches wash donated coats collected from schools. Each year there are over 150 volunteers on Distribution Day. The past few years Meconi’s Italian Subs has donated sandwiches so volunteers have a healthy lunch to keep them fueled up for the busy day.

To learn more about the Little Red Schoolhouse Project visit their website or Facebook page. Distribution Day will be on Thursday, August 21 at Komachin Middle School from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  The middle school is located at 3650 College Street SE in Lacey.


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