Recent local blog posts

C. Davida Ingram: Wednesday, November 18th, 11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:23am
 C. Davida Ingram: Wednesday, November 18th,
11:30-1:00 pm in the 2nd floor Recital Hall of the COM Building
C.-Davida-Ingram-1 Artist and writer C. Davida Ingram uses intensive collaborations to explore society and community. She is a self-described “cultural worker” whose creation takes many forms: performances, installations, photographs, videos and private performance art. Community is at the heart of all her work, as well as queer theory, gender politics and race. Her audiences can be many or one: For her project Come Hungry, 10 years in the making, she invited white men into her home and cooked for them, “which was a way for me to have a disarming conversation about white male supremacy.” She’s worked at the Seattle Art Museum, Gage Academy of Art, Video Machete, Insight Arts and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center and she’s a co-founder of the Seattle People of Color Salon. Last spring she curated Stereo*type* at LxWxH, featuring text-based pieces focused on poetics, type and typography that outlined and expanded upon racial identities.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Family Theater Announces Winter Break Theater Education Programs

Thurston Talk - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 11:11am



Submitted by Olympia Family Theater

olympia family theater

Olympia Family Theater offers fun, educational theater experiences during winter break 2015.
Photo credit: Mandy Ryle

Olympia Family Theater is your community partner in raising imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children. Our educational programs provide opportunities for personal development for young people, teaching creativity and responsibility, encouraging teamwork and personal integrity, and fostering self-esteem and appreciation for the performing arts.

For Winter Break 2015 we’ve got three days of fun each week. There will be new material introduced each week….so, register for one or both week.  Learn, Laugh, Perform.

Fairy Tale Camp (Ages: 5-6)

Week 1: Dec 21 / Dec 22 / Dec 23    9:30am-12pm

Week 2: Dec 28 / Dec 29 / Dec 30    9:30am-12pm

Description: Once upon a time in a magical far-away theater camp, children set out to explore the fascinating world of fairy tales. They used their voices, bodies, and imaginations to bring classic fairy tales to life. They all worked together to defeat the villains of the forest and create new tales of their own that they would tell over and over again. On the last day of their camp, grown-ups came from far and wide to witness the children’s fairy tale adventures, and they were amazed! And, of course, they all lived happily ever after.

Schedule: 3 days each week (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday) 9:30am-12pm

Cost: $60/session

Registration: Register online


Magical Journey Camp (Ages: 7-12)

WEEK 1: Dec 21 / Dec 22 / Dec 23    9am-3pm

WEEK 2: Dec 28 / Dec 29 / Dec 30    9am-3pm

Description: Embark on a quest where dragons, princesses, knights, and magical creatures roam the castle grounds! Students will create their own fantasy world, incorporating real and fantastical creatures of the royal realm as they explore character development and participate in creative drama and storytelling activities. On the final day, students will present their very own games and story based on the skills they’ve learned during our magical journey.

Schedule: 3 days each week (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday) 9am-3pm

Cost: $110/session

Registration: Register online

Partial scholarships are available! Applications are available on the camp registration page and must be received by Dec. 1, 2015.

612 4th Ave E • Olympia, WA 98502 •   • •  360.570.1638


If you can walk to your park in Olympia, you like it. Drive? Hate it

Olympia Time - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 7:02am
Because OlyJeff asked in the comment thread, I did a similar precinct map on the park vote in Olympia.

I did it measuring where the vote did the worst. So, in the map, the darker the marker, the more no votes there were. The highest no vote was just over 50 percent, so really, almost everywhere in Olympia wanted their parks to get more money.

But, it is still fun to make maps.

This seems like I'd pretty much expect it.
Generally, the closer you are to Budd Inlet, the more you want parks. Or, rather, the more you want to raise taxes for parks. This follows the typical pattern for voting in Olympia. Progressive (because you can't just say liberal in Olympia to mean people further left) voters are thought to be in the older neighborhoods around downtown and the nearby Eastside and Westside.
When Olympia Pop Rocks asks "Westside or Eastside" they don't mean down off Boulevard Road or out past Kaiser.
There's another thing about those neighborhoods that I think might be more telling than just the way people vote on a progressive to liberal (to maybe conservative) scale. The inner neighborhoods are also generally walkable. They're older, and since people can get out and use the parks near them without getting in a car, maybe they have a more everyday experience with them.

I'm just spitballing here. But, maybe a more personal "that's my park right down there" experience means you're more likely to vote for parks in general.

But, this measure passed nearly everywhere, so it's almost meaningless to quibble.

Lastly, you see three precincts in the far South Eastside that have lighter reds than the ones immediately around them. These are standouts on that side of town in support of the park levy.

This I would say is NIMBYism at work. These are the precincts that are nearest LBA park, which has been the center of the most vocal pro-park, anti-house/neighborhood development debates in recent years.

The passage of the park levy made it more likely LBA would expand, so they voted yes.

Mud, Glorious Mud Greets Racers at Deschutes River CX Cyclocross

Thurston Talk - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 6:34am



Submitted by Ron Jones

deschutes river cx

Local rider, Erik Anderson, was one champion during the Deschutes River CX race. Photo credit: Ronald Jones Photography.

On Saturday, November, 7, 53eleven Race Promotions, with help from Olympia Orthopaedic Associates (OOA) CBC Racing Team, brought the Washington State Bicycle Association State Cyclocross Championships to Pioneer Park in Tumwater. The event drew close to 300 cyclists from across Washington State. The venue at Tumwater’s Pioneer Park proved epic due to heavy rains and new trails cut into the course by City of Tumwater Parks and Recreation department.

Four Thurston County residents (Erik Anderson, Jennifer Burtner, Roy Stansell and Julianne Vanderhagen) laid claim to being 2015 State Cyclocross Champions by winning their respective races. Erik, Jennifer and Roy all race for OOA, while Julianne is on the local junior’s team Rad Racing NW.

Cyclocross is a type of bike racing that combines elements of mountain biking and road cycling. Racers go all out for 30 to 60 minutes around a  technical, obstacle-laden course that is roughly two kilometers in distance.

deschutes river cx

Obstacles like The Pond (pictured here) threw up a lot of mud in racer’s faces. Photo credit: Ronald Jones Photography.

This year’s course included a lot of slippery mud, some of it the consistency of peanut butter.  There was also plenty of uneven terrain, heavy sand, forested trails, barked pathways, pavement and even barriers to jump over.

Cyclocross is super fun and a spectator friendly event. Plenty of cheering and heckling were on hand as racers negotiated sections called Peanut Butter Slips, Thigh Master Boulevard and The Pond. Everyone finished completely exhausted, looking as though they had a mud bath, yet grinning ear to ear.

Cyclocross a sport that epitomizes youthful enthusiasm while staying fit through competition.

This was the fifth year for the Deschutes River CX race in Tumwater.  Event organizers plan to bring it back in 2016 with the hopes of drawing 500  racers. Racers and spectators can keep up with the event and learn details about the November 2016 date by following the event’s Facebook page.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 11/13/2015 - 6:00am



capital medical centerOne word can be used to describe our weekend weather – rain. However, we need quite a few more words to tell you about all the happenings going on around Thurston County.  And, while some of you hardier souls may enjoy some outdoor activities (we’ve got a whole section of them for you here), many of you will be looking for warmer and drier forms of entertainment.  Look no further than our list below for ideas on how to spend this November weekend.  And, even if you decide the stick around the house, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and devote an hour or so to reading some of our most recent articles.  Sharing the positive stories about the people, places and businesses that make Thurston County great is what we do best.  Stay dry, neighbors!

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.

2016 WSU Master Gardener Training of Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 5:22pm



Submitted by Washington State University Thurston County Extension

Dirt Works

The Dirt Works Garden is maintained by Thurston County Master Gardener volunteers.

Washington State University Thurston County Extension is currently accepting applications for the 2016 Master Gardener volunteer training.

Next to digging in the dirt, there’s almost nothing gardeners enjoy more than learning about their favorite plants. One of the easiest ways to increase your gardening knowledge is to enroll in WSU Extension’s Master Gardener course next spring. For forty two years, Washington State University Extension has been training Master Gardener volunteers in the science and art of gardening. The next WSU Master Gardener training will start January 22, 2016 and cover an array of botanical topics (examples: vegetables, ornamentals, soils, pruning, water-wise gardening, weeds, composting, diagnosing plant disease, identifying insects/pests etc.).

There is a perception that to become a WSU Master Gardener you must know everything about gardening. This is unrealistic and untrue. To be a WSU Thurston County Master Gardener you must have some gardening experience but more importantly you must commit to sharing accurate gardening information with our community.

The WSU Master Gardener training will also teach you how to access the latest researched-based information from Washington State University faculty, staff, and nationwide partners on subjects you may not know too much about. You will become part of over 200 Thurston County WSU Master Gardeners who have very diverse backgrounds of gardening expertise and interests. As a result of this diversity you will have fun learning from one another while making lifelong friendships.

To be considered for one of the limited training spots you must complete an application and attend a preorientation session. To see if the WSU Master Gardener volunteer program is a right fit for you please join us for one of the following pre-orientation sessions:

  • November 10th at 10:30 a.m.gardening
  • November 20th at 4:30 p.m.
  • December 1st at 10:30 a.m.
  • December 10th at 4:30 p.m.
  • December 16th at 4:30 p.m.
  • December 18th at 10:30 a.m.

No pre-registration needed.

Location: Thurston County WSU Extension Office- 5033 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia, WA 98502

Space is limited so don’t delay…apply today! If room is available, the last day to apply is January 1, 2016. To learn more about the program or to download a 2016 application visit our website at



Let Drip Espresso Bar Take Care of the Treats

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 4:00pm



Submitted by Drip Espresso Bar


Drip Espresso Bar can provide a variety of freshly baked pastries for your next meeting or function.

Drip Espresso Bar can provide a variety of freshly baked pastries for your next meeting or function.

Running late for a meeting? Is it your turn to plan a get together? Drip can be more than just a quick cup of joe to go. Our coffee carafes and pastry boxes are a convenient addition to any meeting or party.

Pastry offerings are baked fresh and include croissants, muffins, breads, cookies and more. We proudly offer a large selection of fresh baked, and exclusive pastries. Our baker, Callie Robello creates seasonal treats and is constantly evolving our pastry case.  Read more about Callie’s background and talent here.

Through the end of November we will be featuring our classic pumpkin bread and our delicious pecan crumble pumpkin muffin.

We also have a large assortment of our standard treats, available year round such as blueberry muffins, ham and swiss croissants, coffee cake and a patron favorite, the Nutella croissant.

Pastry boxes can be ordered in any size and with any assortment. Whole loaves, single slices, half a dozen – the possibilities are endless. We are able to customize your order for just about any gathering and any number of people.  We even have gluten free options.  Just ask!  Call ahead to ask about our seasonal pastries as well as our current offerings.

What would delicious pastries be without hot coffee?  Included in each coffee carafe is enough fresh Batdorf & Bronson coffee to serve 10-12 people. You can choose your roast: Dancing Goats or our seasonal roast, currently the Batdorf and Bronson Holiday Blend. Included with each coffee carafe order is a caddy filled with fresh cream, raw sugar, Splenda, stir sticks and of course plenty of cups.

Drip Espresso Bar's coffee carafe provides enough for 10-12 people, including all the extras.

Drip Espresso Bar’s coffee carafe provides enough for 10-12 people, including all the extras.

Ordering can be done in person, on the phone or through email. Take the stress out of your next gathering and impress your co-workers and friends with fresh offerings sure to please.

Drip Espresso Bar

1018 Capitol Way S. Olympia, WA 98501 (one block down from the Capitol Campus)



Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


Have you read the Freedom Trilogy?

South Sound Arts - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 9:39am

 It’s time for me to toot my own horn again and tell you about a trio of books you really should read if you haven’t already. They’re my books. I could probably come up with all kinds of non-ulterior, non-self-aggrandizing reasons for posting this, but the truth is I just want to sell a bunch of books.
The Freedom Trilogy is my proudest accomplishment as a writer to date. In it I created a fictional town near the Mississippi Gulf Coast, invented a history for the town going back to the Civil War, and populated the town with idiosyncratic characters that I hope you will love (and in some cases hate).
In the first book, The Backside of Nowhere, David Lawrence, a famous movie star, returns to his hometown in the swampy coastlands to reconnect with the family he left behind twenty years earlier—a sweet mother he loves and an autocratic father he can’t stand. A massive hurricane hits the coast, and David is trapped in his father’s house with his parents and with an old girlfriend he still loves and a bitter enemy from high school days.
"(Clayton's) storytelling at times faintly echoes the nostalgia-laced prose of fellow Mississippian Eudora Welty but mixes in snappy dialogue, revelatory flashbacks, and episodic plotting, from the novel's opening car crash sequence to the near-cataclysmic closing scenes." - D. Cloyce Smith, review
In a flashback to the 1980s, David has a run-in with two juvenile criminals, Sonny Staples and Malcolm Ashton. Two decades later Sonny and Malcolm reappear as major characters in the second book.
In the second book, Return to Freedom, Malcolm and Sonny and their families move into adjacent apartments in a new condo built by David Lawrence after the hurricane. Both Malcolm and Sonny are now ex-convicts trying to rebuild their lives. Malcolm is struggling with an alcoholic wife and three disturbed teenage children; Sonny has become an evangelical preacher with an attraction for young girls.
"The town of Freedom becomes very real on the page and one can tell that Clayton sees every location intimately. Clayton knows every detail from the street signs to what cigarettes that Bo, the night cook at the diner, is smoking. This gives the effect that we are truly emerged in his world."- Joshua Swainston, review
The third book, Visual Liberties, ties up most, but definitely not all, of the twisted family conflicts of the first two books. Malcolm Ashton’s daughter, Molly, is now a college freshman majoring in art. She is drawn to a charismatic art professor who has a reputation for seducing the most vulnerable of his female students (a more sophisticated version of Sonny Staples). She is also attracted to her classmate, Frances Gossing, an artistic genius whose social skills are non-existant. And the unscrupulous preacher, Sonny Staples tries to reform his evil ways with help from an unexpected source—a lesbian couple that runs a local hamburger joint.
“A sweeping family drama and contemporary parable of art, love and meaning from America's own bard of the Gulf Coast, Alec Clayton. Grounded in Clayton's familiar world of Freedom, Mississippi, Clayton's latest novel sparkles with finely observed insight, sharp wit and complicated relationships.” – Ned Hayes, review
The three books of The Freedom Trilogy can be ordered from your local bookstores or from
Learn more at Mud Flat Press , and please tell your friends.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Vaudeville Comes to Olympia Again

South Sound Arts - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 8:07am

9th Annual Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Vaudeville Show
Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Vaudeville Show is better than coffee in a cup of any color. It’s almost as good as the Sox winning the World Series and another Super Bowl victory for the Seahawks. Born out of old fashioned minstrel shows (minus the blackface) and the original vaudeville of the early 1900’s, Lord Franzannian’s is silly, funny, risqué and downright amazing. It song and dance, contortionists, mimes, jokes, and acrobatic feats of incredible inventiveness.Elizabeth Lord is the founder and director of this entertainment bonanza, and she plays the part of host Lord Franzannian, who is more circus ringmaster than emcee. She welcomes everyone, tells them when it’s time to take a break and time to go home; and otherwise turns it over to a troupe of talented entertainers, including a band comprised of banjoist Jemmy Joe and bassist and kazooist (is that a word?) Al (ison) Metheny.Hey, I didn’t make up those names; they did. And speaking of names, John and the Punishers, minus the Punishers, does a whole standup routine based on punning names like Nick, who is barely on time. It starts off clever and funny, but he beats it to death.And who knew there were contortionists in Olympia? Not just one, but two: Jakob Tiger and Josephine. They perform separately, and it is painful to watch what they do with their bodies.And there is burlesque—not one, not two, but three strip tease acts. I know that some modern burlesque performers don’t like to be called strippers, but it seems fitting here because at least two of them are lampoons on traditional strip tease. Zsa Zsa Bordeaux is rhythmical, languorous and sexy in a more traditional burlesque dance number. Momo La Vein’s “Sloppy Shimmy Burlesque” is a comedy routine with stripping that is laugh-out-loud funny despite poking fun at drunks. (Drunks are really not funny; they are sad at best.) The third burlesque number is a male stripper called Bananas Foster who comes out in an outlandish, futuristic costume and wielding a ray gun fashioned out of a dildo. He is funny and raunchy, and sexy despite having a not-at-all-Chippendale body.Three of the really outstanding highlights of the show are the trio of performances by the duo of Jessica and Daniel Pitherin, who do a kind of hand jive with hands and feet, drumming in intricate rhythm patterns on various parts of their bodies, table, floor and plastic cups. They are amazing.The Lenticulars, Jean and Fred, do an impossible-to-describe movement routine that combines mime, dance, contortion and rubber faces with clown makeup that is touching, sweet, and breathtaking in its originality.Former Olympian now living in exile in Seattle Josh Anderson does a sad but funny song with hints of Gilbert and Sullivan about his tragic attempts at dating, and he revives his popular role as Saul Tannenbaum for a little tap dance number.With 20 acts over a two-hour span, with a short intermission, I can’t include all of them here, so let me just mention two others: Cat Light Year’s spectacular “Electric Boogie” and Cody Hayman and Gabriella Miklulas’s “Cody Goes to the Doctor,” which will leave you crying with laughter if you don’t throw up first.Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Vaudeville Show is a benefit for Big Show City, a local non-profit performing arts organization (learn more about BSC at
This weekend is your last chance:Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.Nov. 14 at 8 and 10 p.m.Special performance for all ages Nov. 15 at 4 p.m.Tickets Price: $15-$25 at the door (however, no one will be turned away at the door for lack of funds). Appropriate for audiences over the age of 16. Special Youth Audience Show Ticket Price. *4pm Matinee on November 15th: 15 years of age or under: $7.00.  Tickets available at door night of show, or to RESERVE A SEAT buy a ticket online at
Where: The Midnight Sun Performance Space 113 N. Columbia Street in downtown Olympia, WA.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

What’s Behind the Door? Unraveling Olympia History

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 6:00am



By Emmett O’Connell

heritage bankTucked inside a quarter block of electric wires and transformers on Legion Way in Olympia sits an oddly ornate brick building. Not many people would know to call the property a substation, but the facility owned by Puget Sound Energy has been in downtown Olympia for almost 90 years.

The architectural style of this otherwise utilitarian building is “French Eclectic,” making it (at least in terms of its design) kin to some notable homes in Olympia, including the Titus House (or more recently known as “the Castle”) just south of the Capitol.

olympia history

Have you wondered about the purpose and origins of this building on Legion?

In addition to its old-country European look surrounded by modern electric transmission facility is the interesting place the building holds in Olympia utility history.

Beginning in 1890, Olympia Light and Power (OL&P) was the official power utility for the city of Olympia. Promoted and partially owned by Hazard Stevens (the son of the first territorial governor), OL&P produced hydroelectric power at a plant at the foot of the Tumwater Falls.

Unlike the typical impoundment type of hydroelectric plant (like what you would see on the Columbia River), the Tumwater operation by OL&P was a known as a diversion plant. A pipe brought water to the powerhouse, dropping it the entire length of the falls at the very last minute.

Hydroelectricity was not a long-term solution for Olympia and Thurston County’s electricity needs. The Deschutes River would run low in the late summer and fall, making power hard to supply in those months.

olympia history

When the substation was originally built, the neighborhood was more industrial.

There is now a outlet from Lawrence Lake, which originally had been dug by the OL&P to supply extra water to the operation in dry months. A headworks (evidence of which can still be found at Lawrence Lake) would partially drain the lake, sending water down to the river, eventually into the turbines at the base of the falls.

Now the Plum Street Substation stands as evidence of the failure of hydroelectricity on the Deschutes River and of a small, plucky private utility that served Olympia.

Puget Sound Power and Light came together in 1915 as a consolidation of smaller city-based private utilities around Puget Sound.

Olympia Light and Power began working with the firm around the same time, extending power lines from Tacoma into Olympia to supply power to the city’s growing eastern neighborhoods.

Eventually OL&P succumbed and joined Puget Sound Power and Light as a subsidiary. Like many other local power companies (including the parts that made up Puget Power), OL&P operated a street car system throughout Olympia and Tumwater. But, as Puget Sound Power and Light began the transition over the Olympia system, they began phasing out both the old hydroelectric project and the street cars.

And, the final step was creating a way to transition the high voltage Puget Power electricity into Olympia. That was when the French Eclectic structure and the substation around it was built in 1927, when electricity was brought in from power plants across the region, replacing our own homegrown electricity.

For additional reading, visit DAHP: Plum Substation or UW: History of Puget Power.


Thrifty Thurston Chases 9 Waterfalls Near Hood Canal

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/12/2015 - 6:00am



By Douglas Scott

waterfront at potlatch lucky dogThe natural beauty of Washington’s Hood Canal is known for a lot of reasons. From amazing lodges, stunning camping, fantastic hiking and jaw-dropping mountains, wilderness lovers from across the globe discover and fall in love with the wild side of the Olympic Peninsula. Despite becoming one of the fastest-growing destinations for tourists to the region, few who live near or visit Hood Canal know of the majestic waterfalls that dot the region. Tumbling down from the rocky peaks above, the waterfalls of the Hood Canal are stunning and need to be seen often.

Around the Hood Canal region, there are hundreds of waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. While many are tucked away in wilderness or along steep and remote trails, there are nine waterfalls that are accessible, gorgeous, and worth your time and effort. From roadside waterfalls, to those that require short or long hikes, the falls of Hood Canal are yet another reason why you need at least a weekend to explore the beauty of the region. This list doesn’t include every waterfall along Hood Canal but will get you to the most classic, iconic and gorgeous ones around.

Roadside Falls

hood canal waterfalls

Stand on top of Hamma Hamma Falls.

Hamma Hamma Falls

Height: 75 Feet

Best Season: Year Round

Located at the end of the road along the Hamma Hamma River, this hidden waterfall is best known by locals for the beauty and stunning location. Tumbling down 75 feet, this two-tiered waterfall is hard to see in all its glory. The bridge on the road crosses nearly directly over the falls, giving a staggeringly steep view for those brave enough to look straight down. To see the whole falls, there is a primitive, slippery trail a few hundred feet before the bridge. However, this trail is dangerous. Don’t let that keep you from visiting. Even if you only walk across the bridge, the falls are gorgeous, both up and downstream.

Vincent Creek Falls

Height: 125 Feet

hood canal waterfalls

Vince Creek Falls is visible from the High Steel Bridge.

Best Season: Fall through Spring

Vincent Creek Falls is really two awesome destinations in one. Located along the South Fork of the Skokomish River, Vincent Creek Falls is visible from the High Steel Bridge, some 420 feet above the river below. The falls are visible while looking upstream, on the left side of the bridge, giving a stunning, watery addition to an already incredible view. As if you needed another reason to come here, the High Steel bridge was originally built in 1929 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. With amazing views all around, do not miss the chance to see this waterfall and amazing bridge.

Rocky Brook Falls

Height: 229 Feet

Best Season: Year Round

Quite possibly one of the most scenic “roadside” falls on the Olympic Peninsula, Rocky Brook Falls tumbles magnificently down a rocky cliff just a few hundred feet from the Dosewallips Road. Branching out and cascading down against the rocks, Rocky Brook Falls is a great example of a horsetail falls, ending in a nice pool. In the summer, this waterfall is quite crowded, while the winter and spring months have the highest amount of water. Be aware that to get to the best view of the waterfall, you will have to climb over a few rocks.


Short Hikes to Waterfalls

Murhut Falls

Distance: 1.6 Miles Round Trip

hood canal waterfalls

The beauty of Murhut Falls cascades down 170 feet.

Height: 170 Feet

Best Season: Year Round

Murhut Falls is one of the classic short hikes on the Olympic Peninsula. Cascading down 170 feet over two tiers, this beautiful hydrological destination is at the end of a family and dog-friendly trail. The short trail leads to a nice viewpoint of the falls, complete with a bench and railing. Those more adventurous can climb down to the falls and explore both tiers, though please be aware that rocks and logs can be quite slick. Murhut Falls, for many, is the iconic waterfall on Hood Canal and if you see it, you’ll agree.

Falls View Falls

Distance: 1.5 Miles Round Trip

Height: 200 Feet

Best Season: Fall through Spring

This seasonal waterfall is often not visible during the summer months, making it the perfect, off-season waterfall destination at the top of Hood Canal. Located at the Falls View Campground, this seasonal falls requires a walk along a well-maintained trail to a great view. Tumbling down into the Quilcene Canyon, Falls View Falls is best seen after a rainy few days. For those up for more beauty, head down into the canyon along the same trail. This pretty waterfall is not just a great place to stop and stretch your legs after making the journey up Hood Canal but is also a fun, short hike.

Ludlow Falls

Distance: .5 Miles Round Trip

Height: 25 Feet

Best Season: Year Round

Ludlow Falls is unique to the small creeks that dot the Olympic Peninsula. While small creeks flow mostly flat toward the water, Ludlow Falls exists because of a large obtruding chunk of basalt, creating the falls. After a nice walk along a well-maintained interpretive trail, this two-tiered waterfall dumps almost directly into the waters of Hood Canal and gives stunning views upstream. Do not pass this waterfall up, as it is gorgeous and gives you a chance to both learn about the region and stretch your legs!

Staircase Rapids

Distance: 2.5 Miles Round Trip

Height: Variable

Best Season: Fall through Spring

While Staircase Rapids isn’t technically a waterfall, after heavy rains the North Fork of the Skokomish River transforms into a turbulent set of steep drops, tossing logs downstream like toothpicks and tumbling giant rocks under the churning water. With a great loop hike over a suspension bridge, walking along and over the Skokomish River during a storm is something everyone should experience. As an added bonus, pay attention to the side of the road driving here, as numerous small, seasonal falls line the roadway. A great one is just after the turn for the Mount Rose Trail.


Backcountry Falls

hood canal waterfalls

Donahue Creek Falls is located in the Olympic National Park and offers great photo opportunities.

Donahue Creek Falls

Distance: 14 Miles Round Trip

Height: 25 Feet

Best Season: Spring through Fall

To get to Donahue Creek Falls, hikers will need to follow the route out of the Staircase Region of Olympic National Park and head toward Flapjack Lakes. The multi-tiered falls is located half a mile or so before you get to Flapjacks Lakes and can be taken as a long day hike or a nice overnight trip. As the trail becomes more steep, it soon passes next to Donahue Creek, a fun little waterfall that gives great picture opportunities, especially in the spring, winter and fall. Do not hike here without going to Flapjack Lakes; you’ll regret it.

Dosewallips River Falls

Distance: 10 Miles Round Trip

Height: 100 Feet

Best Season: Spring through Fall

Known more as a cascading falls, Dosewallip River Falls has decreased in popularity, thanks to a washout along the old Dosewallips Road. To gain access to this section of the Dosewallips River, you now have to walk or ride a bike along the old road for eight miles round trip to see this gorgeous series of cascades. From the old road, the cascading falls is beautiful, cast perfectly against the boulders and trees lining the river. Your best bet to see this waterfall will be in the spring after a heavy rain, when the temperature warms and the mountain snow starts to melt.

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.

Justice Pursued: A Legal Perspective on Palestine and the Rachel Corrie Case

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 11:40pm
Event:  Wed, 11/18/2015 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm  Hussein abu Hussein, lead attorney for the family of Rachel Corrie in their civil lawsuit in Israel will speak in Olympia, Wednesday, November 18, about the current situation in Israel/Palestine, institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and outcomes of the Corrie civil lawsuit in Israeli courts.  He will be joined by Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of human rights activist and observer Rachel Corrie.  The event takes place at the Olympia Center (222 Columbia logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Veterans Day 2015

Janine's Little Hollywood - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 9:08pm

Above: Medal of Honor recipient Command Chief Master Sergeant Francis Huffman, of Littlerock, Washington, acknowledges a standing ovation during Veterans Day ceremonies today in Olympia. After the ceremony, Huffman said he received the medal for providing Air Force support actions in Vietnam in 1971 while surrounded by the enemy, an action that saved many lives.  
By Janine
Veterans Day ceremonies were held throughout the South Sound on Wednesday and the Thurston County Veterans Council held its event in the Capitol Rotunda on the state Capitol Campus. 

The Washington State American Legion Band, VFW Auxiliary Post 318, Tahoma Gold Star Wives, and other veteran organizations participated.
Thurston County Commissioner Bud Blake, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, gave the keynote speech.

In his remarks, Blake said, “….Today in the global war on terror…we continue to welcome home veterans and thank them for their service. I personally experienced this gratitude when I, along with approximately 400 other service members, came home for R&R in February 2008. We departed the airplane at Dallas, Texas, and every single person waiting at the gate to board their airplane stood on their feet and applauded their veterans as we strolled by….until the last service member passed by.  When I saw this I knew, immediately, we had learned from the mistakes of the Korea and Vietnam conflicts.
“So I am here to tell you that it does not stop there….We need to show our soldiers returning from the recent wars…that our welcome does not end at the airport terminal, with a hand shake or in a parade. This generation’s challenge is to continue with the effort to help those veterans who need assistance. We must fight on the home front by preventing suicide and homelessness. We must assist veterans in receiving additional medical care, education, and employment opportunities for themselves and their families…..” said Blake.
Above: At the Washington State Vietnam War Memorial on the Capitol Campus today, Ashar Entrekin, 17, a senior at Capital High School, plays Taps at the conclusion of the reading of the names for those killed and missing in action during the war. The event was sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Entrekin said he’s been playing his trumpet for seven years.

For more information about Thurston County Veterans Services, go to


Sherwood Press - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:56am

And now on to our stretch goals!

restore_revive_rejoice_stretch Sailing_past

Thank you, Olympia, friends, family, and supporters of all kinds from all places! We are absolutely thrilled and immensely grateful to you for supporting our restoration campaign!

Our stretch goal is $19k. We are already over 75% of the way there, and contributions are still rolling in. So we are becoming more hopeful that this restoration can be more fully realized, with a drainage system, siding repairs and a glorious layer of protective PAINT!

We still have great perks available, and will come out with a few more during the rest of our campaign, has another 34 days to go.  We’re going to take a slower approach for the next month, but rest assured, we are still going to drive hard at our final goal, because the press building needs it, and our future depends on the press!

Stay tuned for more!

Visit our campaign on Indiegogo!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Feed Hungry Kids for Just $8 with Homeless Backpacks

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 6:00am



By Kathryn Millhorn

dirty daves pizza parlor new logoAs we brace ourselves for a season of hectic overindulgence, let’s not forget our friends and neighbors in need, especially homeless children among us whose voice may not be heard. reports that 16 million kids in the U.S. struggle with hunger and “3 out of 4 public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry. 81% say it happens at least once a week.”

During the school year, free and reduced breakfast and lunch options provide meals for 37% of Thurston County’s nearly 40,000 public school students. But what happens over the weekend, holidays, or summer vacation? That’s where the volunteers of Lacey’s Homeless Backpacks step in. For only $8 a bag, they’ll provide homeless youth with food for the weekend, thanks to generous donations, partnerships with small businesses, and caring organizations like the Thurston County Food Bank.

homeless backpacks

When the Gateway Rotary volunteered for Homeless Backpacks, they bagged 614 bags of food.

Kelly Wilson is one of Homeless Backpacks’ founding board members and has been Program Chair since the beginning. She estimates that over the past nine years they’ve had almost a thousand volunteers from churches, sports teams, dance troupes, the state employees Combined Fund Drive, and civic groups like local Rotary, Lions Club, Boy and Girl Scouts.

From feeding 200 students a year in the beginning, they peaked at more than 500. But with Grays Harbor and Mason County recently setting up similar organizations of their own, they ended the 2014-2015 school year helping 400 students and are already at 321 for the new 2015-2016 school year.

The process is entirely anonymous for the Homeless Backpacks volunteers. They receive only numbers of bags needed from school counselors. These caring folks work closely with teachers to identify students in need. After almost a decade of feeding the hungry, Wilson’s says she’s “unsure if hunger is growing or counselors are simply doing a better job identifying homeless kids.”

homeless backpacks

Food and fun happened at the “Flapjacks 4 Backpacks” fundraiser at the Lacey Senior Center.

In Thurston County, elementary students needing this extra assistance are aided by the Thurston County Food Bank while Homeless Backpacks cares for teenagers in need. But for the rural areas of Rochester, Tenino, Yelm, and Rainier, Homeless Backpacks assists any students needing their help.

“We do the best we can with the circumstances we have,” explains Wilson. With that in mind, most backpacks contain foods that are easy to carry, store, heat, and eat. This may include chili, tuna fish, macaroni and cheese, ravioli, instant oatmeal, granola bars, juice, shelf-safe milk, applesauce, and mixed fruit cups.

Because of their pledge towards anonymity, it’s rare to receive a thank you. But, says Wilson, “once in a while we receive a card and it’s like Christmas for us!” They also invite former students to speak at their fundraising events and it becomes a high point of everyone’s evening.

homeless backpacks

State workers helped raise money for Homeless Backpacks by coordinating a 5K during this fall’s Combined Fund Drive.

Online donations are always welcome and groups are encouraged to select an item from their What We Need list and host a drive for that specific food. Offices have been known to hold workplace chili or tuna drives, which makes it easier for both donors and Homeless Backpacks volunteers.

Community members interested in helping or becoming a volunteer can learn more by attending their upcoming Bountiful Harvest event on Saturday, November 14 at 6:00 p.m. Promising “great opportunities to get those perfect gifts for your loved ones and enjoy an amazing dinner while you are at it” the evening includes a catered meal donated by the generous staff at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel as well as live and silent auctions, raffles, and a delicious dessert dash. Purchase tickets in advance online or by calling the Homeless BackPacks staff at 360-628-8631.

Follow Homeless Backpacks on Facebook to view Bountiful Harvest auction items, recent volunteer activity, and current lists of most-needed items. Their online events page or volunteer portal provide ways to help, directly or indirectly.

Educators report that “With breakfast, educators see a profound change for the better: 73% see kids paying better attention in class, 53% see improved attendance, 48% see fewer disciplinary problems.” Imagine what an entire weekend’s worth of food can do for a hungry teenager and their scholastic success.

Contact Kelly Wilson with any questions about Bountiful Harvest or Homeless Backpacks. She’s always willing to suggest needed ways to help or answer questions about this community treasure.

Construction Expands Learning Opportunities for North Thurston Public Schools Students

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 6:00am



By Heidi Smith

north thurston public schools

A cross section of the community joined North Thurston Public Schools Superintendent Raj Manhas and Director of Construction and Design Mike Laverty for a tour of school construction.

The hallway at Evergreen Forest Elementary School in Lacey is covered with arrows leading students and staff from classroom to classroom. “We call it ‘Operation Arrow Overkill,’” Evergreen Forest Principal, Stephanie Hollinger, said. “This is a new hallway and teachers and students weren’t sure which way to go, so we put some arrows down for the start of the year to get the direction. The students do a nice job of following them.”

The hallway is part of a major overhaul and reconstruction project at the school, just one facet of the $175 million school bond that voters passed in 2014 for North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS). The bond will be used for everything from facility upgrades and renovations to new construction at existing sites, including an entirely new middle school slated to open in fall 2016. Safety and technology will also be part of the improvements.

On October 23, a group of local elected officials, school board representatives and community members joined NTPS Superintendent Raj Manhas, and Director of Construction and Design, Mike Laverty, for a tour of four sites in progress.

At Evergreen Forest Elementary, as part of a major reconstruction of the building and site, crews recently finished a complete reconstruction of the parking lot; adding more parking spaces and a lengthy pickup/drop off area for parents.  A separate bus loading zone was also completed.   A new front entrance, lobby and administration area are nearing completion.  A number of classrooms have been recently remodeled, with the rest of the classrooms being remodeled in phases throughout the winter.  The rest of the common areas, including the kitchen, gym and library, will be renovated next summer.  A new eight classroom building, constructed of modular components, has also been added to the campus.  This building will add classrooms while others are being renovated and will replace portable classrooms when the project is complete.

north thurston public schools

Superintendent Raj Manhas leads the way through renovations at Evergreen Forest Elementary.

“On every project I see modular components and techniques being integrated into the traditional stick-built construction world.  It just makes sense,” said Laverty. “Manufacturers can provide better quality control, and the components are almost never exposed to the elements.  The construction is equal to, or in some instances, better than stick-built construction.  It will last indefinitely with normal routine maintenance.  This building is our latest generation of this concept.” The classrooms are larger, with more built-in casework.  There are boys and girls restrooms, as well as separate restrooms for staff and visitors.  There is also a workroom, storage room, generous hallways, custodial,  mechanical and electrical spaces.

The new administration area at Evergreen Forest is at the front of the building for a reason, Laverty said. “Passive supervision is a big factor. The secretaries and the principal can see the parking lot and who’s coming and going,” he explained. “Good visibility is a priority. A lot of old schools had administration in the center of the building. Now we’re pulling them out to the front.”

While the construction is underway, classrooms have inevitably been disrupted, but Evergreen Forest Principal, Stephanie Hollinger, said the impact is being kept to a minimum. “The district has ensured that our construction project is actively managed so that there is minimal effect on the students and staff,” said Hollinger. “Safety for all is an overriding priority. Overall they’re really helpful.”

north thurston public schools

Students at Evergreen Forest Elementary School greeted visitors as they arrived.

Hollinger said the project will enhance the school’s ability to deliver quality education. “We have better spaces for our programs and bigger spaces for our classrooms so that the students have more room to work,” she said. “We’ll have a music room that actually has a stage. Overall we’re creating capacity to accommodate anticipated growth in enrollment.” The additions and renovations are scheduled to be completed by September 2016.

Across town another project is underway at the Sleater-Kinney Annex.  Formerly the site of an athletic club, the remodeled building will serve multiple purposes.  Initially it will serve as a temporary home to the North Thurston High School (NTHS) physical education and athletic programs, while the nearby buildings are being renovated.  This will shave an anticipated year off the construction schedule and save approximately $1 million.  The school board has also decided that the building will become the new home of its Aspire Middle School for the Performing Arts (currently located on 54th Ave. SE, off Ruddell Rd). After the NTHS project is complete, the gym will be used for Aspire programs, as well as for other district and community use.  With a portable stage, bleacher seating for 900, and 480 folding chairs on the floor, the gym will be able to hold a pretty big event as well.

Besides providing more suitable preforming arts facilities for Aspire, this move will free up the existing Aspire building and campus to become the district’s 14th elementary school.  In addition to the use by NTHS and Aspire, there will be additional space that can house other school district needs.  Meeting space, storage, other district programs, community use and professional development are all needs that are being studied.  Currently, Superintendent Manhas said, the district regularly rents space from the City of Lacey, Saint Martin’s University and private providers to accommodate those purposes.

north thurston public schools

Mike Laverty acted as guide through the different projects currently underway at North Thurston Public Schools.

Aspire Principal, Courtney Crawford, said the move will make a huge difference for her students and staff. “We’re a performing arts school,” she said. “Right now band, orchestra and choir are all in portables outside. We have 48 students in one choir class and our orchestra is also huge. For teachers to be able to access the students for one-on-one instruction, they can barely even get through physically to help the kids set up their bows.” Being able to have all of the music rooms inside the building will benefit everyone, she said. Phase two of the Sleater-Kinney project is scheduled to be completed by September 2017.

As one middle school changes location, another entirely new school is under construction in the Campus Glen area of Lacey. The 19-acre campus of Salish Middle School includes a two-story building, main and auxiliary gyms, soccer and softball fields, and an athletic track. It will house 750 students and includes spaces for outdoor learning opportunities and a future greenhouse and garden courtyard.

Michelle Kolpinski went on the tour with her daughter, who will be attending the new school when it opens in fall 2016. “What I find very exciting is the STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math] program,” Kolpinski said. “The principal told us there is going to be a lot of new technology. All of my daughters are interested in science and math and robotics.”

Around the district, other projects will be beginning and ending through September 2019, like the remodel that’s already underway at North Thurston High School. Overall the process has been rapid, Manhas said. “The City of Lacey has been great to work with. They’ve been very supportive.”

To learn more about the designs and project details, visit


LP Brown Alums Celebrate with a 50 Year Reunion

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 6:00am



By Lynn West

putnam lieb logoNestled in the woods of West Olympia, LP Brown Elementary School welcomed its first students in 1965. John Tillman was a first grader that year and fondly remembers his classmates and their teacher, Mrs. Carol Schmidtke. When he realized it was a milestone year, he wondered if it would be possible to have a reunion. Thanks to John’s resourcefulness and determination, on September 13, 2015 five former classmates and their teacher took a remarkable journey down memory lane.

lp brown reunion

The 1965 alums and their teacher greet each other after many years apart. Photo credit: John Tillman.

“I had goose bumps when I walked into the Mediterranean Breeze restaurant in Olympia that Sunday afternoon and immediately recognized my five grown-up first graders,” Carol said. She had talked to John in making arrangements, but she hadn’t seen him or Robbie Dunn, Jeff Lind, Paddy Maguire or Mary Kay Henley since she left LP Brown to become a teacher librarian at other schools in the Olympia School District.

“They insisted on calling me Mrs. Schmidtke rather than Carol, even though now they towered over me much as I had over them fifty years ago,” she laughed. “That reunion was the highlight of my summer. It trumped our cruise of the Greek Islands.” Her former students echoed her joy at getting together.

John Tillman’s fond memories of first grade all came back as the group moved from the restaurant to LP Brown, where they were greeted not by Dale Lien, who had been their principal, but by Joel Lang, the current principal at LP Brown.

lp brown reunion

Five former first grade students at LP Brown gathered recently for a 50 year reunion. They are joined by their teacher, Carol Schmidtke. The group includes (from left) John Tillman, Carol Schmidtke, Robbie Dunn, Mary Kay Henley, Paddy Maguire, and Jeff Lind.

Lang and his intern Keitlyn Watson spent time with the group. “I enjoyed touring the school and listening to their recollections echo through the quiet halls. I was amazed at how much they remembered,” Lang said.

Robbie’s photographic memory immediately helped him transform what were now storage spaces back to favorite classrooms or imagine the stump piles that had provided hours of entertainment now absent from the playground.

The cafeteria reminded Dunn of his little pal Clifton Lum who used to bring noodles in soy sauce and candied seaweed in his lunch, long before these became common foods. “Clifton’s dad was the principal of LP Brown when we were in second grade,” Robbie recalled. “He had exchanged with Mr. Lien for a year, when Lien went to his school in Hawaii.”

The others remembered taking field trips to Robbie’s house down on the water and searching for shells, rocks, and driftwood. Mary Kay said, “I still have the invitation to Robbie’s pirate birthday party. It was especially great because I was the only girl invited.” She also said that she modeled some of her own daughter’s parties after the treasure hunt at that party. It is not unusual that Mary Kay was the only girl at the party because she herself said, “I was one of the buddies.”

lp brown reunion

Carol Schmidtke looks out at her former first graders as they sit at tables rather than old fashioned desks. Photo credit: John Tillman.

John recalled, “Mary Kay could swing a mean left-handed bat, so we always wanted her on our team.” The little pig-tailed girl who was the fastest runner in first grade has grown into a professional woman using those skills working for Metro Parks Tacoma. “We were a group that bonded, and my years at LP Brown were some of the best times of my life. I am so grateful this reunion brought the memories flooding back,” she said.

Paddy had recently returned to the Olympia area from Washington D.C. when John contacted him. He said, “It is interesting to look back. I was probably the most out of the mainstream in first grade. I had long hair, and I came from a single parent family which in those days was very unusual, but I never felt left out.” In contrast, he said, “Jeff Lind was probably the most mainstream. He was always an exemplary student, and he went on to become an engineer at Boeing.”

lp brown reunion

Principal Joel Lang explains the multi-use room as he tours the school with the group.

John, owner of Tillman’s Christmas Tree Farm in Satsop, described their first grade era as a Leave it to Beaver or Happy Days time. “Mrs. S reminded me of Aunt Bee with her kindness and caring.” Robbie recalls her coming to his home and tutoring him when he was lagging a bit behind. Carol added, “What made this class so memorable was their parents’ involvement and the children’s concern for each other.”

Much has changed at LP Brown. The alums agreed that the school seemed a lot bigger fifty years ago with larger trees and more woods. The Lincoln Log structure out in the trees that served as a playhouse is now gone, but the swamp is still there. “We weren’t supposed to play in it then, and I bet they aren’t supposed to play in it now,” Paddy said.

And yet, much has stayed the same at LP Brown. The warm welcome they received from Principal Lang on a Sunday afternoon was testament to the fact that current first graders would someday also want to return to LP Brown.

These 1965 first grade alums are already planning to gather more former classmates and celebrate their 51st Reunion.


Did E.J. Zita repeat Sue Gunn? No, she did not

Olympia Time - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 6:03pm
Go right to the map.

A couple of years ago, I drew a map showing how former port commissioner Sue Gunn did an amazing job connecting anti-establishment voters in the rural and urban neighborhoods.

She had the ability to run as a non-partisan, showing then how you could connect the bottom ends of the so-called (by me) Cascadian Political Spectrum. Typically, partisan elections in Thurston County roll out with the more liberal (Democratic) candidate winning the north county, with the more conservative candidate (typically Republican) winning in the south.
The likely victor is decided by how many voters in the connecting suburban districts turn their heads toward them.
Sue Gunn flipped this equation by winning both the urban area and the rural south, with the connecting suburbs going to her opponent, Jeff Davis.
Unfortunately, Sue had to retire because of health concerns. She'll likely be replaced by E.J. Zita, an Evergreen State College professor and south county resident. At least on the surface, it seemed likely that Zita might be able to repeat Sue's run.
But, when you look at the map of the (very very close) results, Zita will have won by the more traditional liberal's route in Olympia, through urban Thurston County.
Zita did win a handful of precincts in the south county, and Jerry Farmer (her opponent) seemingly owned the suburban neighborhoods. But, Zita's high margins in Olympia seemingly put her over the top.
It is worth noting that liberals (Democrats) usually win in Thurston County, so it isn't that exciting to note that the liberal won again. The notable thing in 2013 was that Gunn (a former Democratic Progressive Independent candidate for congress) beat a fellow Democrat (Davis) by being more liberal. Or, she was at least more anti-establishment.

It's Not Rocket Science. It's Robotics Science!

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 12:41pm
Event:  Mon, 11/16/2015 - 8:30pm - 9:30pm

Be inspired as a robotics scientist tells the story of 100 years of spinal cord research that is paying off - helping us better understand neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy. Prof. Francisco Valero-Cuevas has a BS in Engineering from Swarthmore College, an MsEng from Queens University, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. He is the keynote speaker at this year's 13th Annual Latino Youth Summit. This program will occur after regular library hours and no other services will be available.

All library programs are free and open to the public; feel free to call the library with any questions!  360-352-0595. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Rob Rice Designs, Donates Custom Chef’s Kitchen to Saint Martin’s University

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 11:56am



Submitted by Rob Rice Homes

rob rice homes

Rob Rice personally designed the kitchen for use on the stage for the Saint Martin’s University Gala.

Rob Rice, Thurston County’s largest local home builder, designed, built and donated a mobile chef’s kitchen to Saint Martin’s University for use by the cast of ABC’s The CHEW, the special guests at the local institution’s recent annual black-tie Gala. Rice worked on the design specifications for the kitchen with the Bon Apetit chefs who made the meals for the 700 Gala attendees. The event raised $1.6 million for Saint Martin’s students, the most in its ten year history.

With the help of employees and a finish carpenter, Rice built the kitchen in the garage of one of his new homes in the community of Chestnut Village and transported it himself to the event location at Saint Martin’s. In the weeks before the event, he worked with the Lacey Fire Department to ensure the kitchen was up to code and he travelled to Kent several times to lock in a precise template for its countertops.

rob rice homes

The cast of The CHEW wave to donors while on stage at the kitchen Rob Rice built.

The 12-foot long structure, used on the stage by The Chew chefs at the November 7, 2015 Gala, has quartz countertops, an all-gas GE Monogram 6-burner cook-top, with double-ovens—secured through McKinney Appliance Center in Lacey—and is mobile, designed to be dismantled in two parts for easy storage. The kitchen cost Rice $17,000 in supplies, equipment and hired labor with no out-of-pocket expenses for Saint Martin’s University that now owns the kitchen for use at future Galas.

“This was not only a large donation, it was an incredible effort to benefit our community,” says Valerie Fluetsch, event planner and owner of Event Planning Specialist, LLC who organized this year’s 10th Anniversary Gala. “He built it with the same attention to detail and quality products as he does for all his homes. The event provides a large portion of scholarship funds to Saint Martin’s students – this year nearly $1.6 million. And, the school now owns a beautifully-built piece for future Galas, a huge bonus to our annual efforts for the next ten years.”

rob rice homes

Rob Rice’s youngest son enjoyed seeing his Dad build the kitchen in the garage of one of the builder’s new homes.

Rob Rice was has been building homes and communities in the South Sound for more than 30 years. His company, Rob Rice Homes, was voted the Best of South Sound for the last two years by The Olympian readers. Rob and his wife Helena are regular contributors to the University and he explains his motivation for delivering a premium custom kitchen for the Saint Martin’s event.

“My wife and I feel it is our responsibility to give back to our community to make it a better place for our family and for those in the communities we build. A few years back, we identified two top priorities—rescuing animals and improving the lives of children. This certainly qualifies as something that contributes to the second, a superior education for our kids.”

To learn more about Rob Rice Homes, visit


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