Recent local blog posts

Join North Thurston Public Schools to “Stuff the Bus” on May 14

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/12/2016 - 1:56pm


Submitted by North Thurston Public Schools On May 14, the North Thurston Public Schools Food and Nutrition and Transportation departments join forces again for the 9th annual “Stuff the Bus” event. This compassionate, philanthropic volunteer effort rallies the community to gather food, household supplies and books, school supplies and cash for local area non-profits who support

Off the Wall

South Sound Arts - Thu, 05/12/2016 - 12:25pm
Hatch: An installation by Jenny Montgomery at Salon Refu(not a review)In an email announcing the latest show at Salon Refu, Susan Christian wrote: “This is going to be quite a complicated show. As has been my continuing trajectory, it's not an ordinary images-in-frames-hung-on-the-wall show. (The last one of those I did was back in November I think, and it was sticks not easel paintings). This one is yet another installation, with a good deal of poetry applied directly to the walls, and many large and small setups which refer to steps and pieces of the artist's little son Heath's journey through a childhood deeply affected by cerebral palsy brought on by oxygen deprivation during the birth process.”The previous show at Salon Refu was Anne de Marcken’s installation The Redaction Project (reviewed here). The “sticks,” of course, referred to a show of Christian’s own paintings on sticks, which was wonderful (reviewed here). Is Susan Christian, the most innovative gallerist south of Seattle, abandoning traditional easel-and-pedestal art in favor of art that defies categories? Good for her—although I must admit I have a particular fondness for painting and hope she does not abandon it altogether.Way, way back in 1970 I championed this kind of non-traditional art in my graduate thesis at East Tennessee State University. The title of my thesis was “A Ground for Today’s Art: An Alternative to the Frame Pedestal Aesthetic.” My thesis advisor came up with that title. I thought it was rather wordy and academic sounding, but I agreed to it because it described the gist of my thesis. Starting with Jackson Pollock taking his canvases off the wall and laying them on the floor and walking around and on them—getting into his paintings in the most literal sense—and graduating from there to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein rejecting the idea of “the hand of the artist,” Robert Rauschenberg taking part in Merce Cunningham’s dance performances and making “paintings” out of a stuffed angora goat, and happenings by Allan Kaprow and others, I traced the movement of modern art away from aesthetic items decoratively hung on walls to events, performances, mail art, and happenings that embrace all of art and all of life. You might think that if an art student out of Mississippi could see that trend and celebrate it almost 50 years ago that you’d see more of this non-traditional art in local and regional galleries. And it is around. A little bit. Performance art has become fairly well established. Graffiti, poetry slams, theatrical events and all kinds of things that do not fit in the old categories now find their way into the more progressive and forward-looking museums and galleries, but such events, shows, or whatever you want to call them demand open eyes and open minds on the part of the art public and a willingness to take big risks on the part of gallery owners. Especially if they depend on sales to keep their doors open. After all, who could possibly buy a happening or a mixed-media installation that takes up an entire gallery? The latest show at Salon Refu is just such a show. It is an installation by Jenny Montgomery, a poet—and in this instance, most importantly, a mother. There are individual pieces in her installation that can be seen as sculptures or paintings. I don’t know if any or the pieces are for sale or not. But it is the totality of the words and images that makes it art.
Watch for my review of her installation in the Weekly Volcano tomorrow, It should hit the streets later today, May 12. I will also post it here.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Chef Austin Navarre – Tantalizing Dining Where East Meets West at the Dockside Bistro

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/12/2016 - 6:00am


Things may not look different when you walk inside the restaurant, but Dockside Bistro’s new chef Austin Navarre is incorporating new flavor sensations into the daily menu. You’ll still find familiar choices made popular by owner Laurie Nguyen, yet you will also have the option to explore Navarre’s interpretation of Asian cooking – a fusion

Thrifty Thurston Covers 6 Snow-Free Hikes around South Puget Sound

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/12/2016 - 6:00am


Now that the snow is melting at record levels and the seemingly-endless winter is behind us, we are blessed to be able to get out and explore some amazing natural destinations around the South Puget Sound. Whether we are looking for a short drive for an afternoon of natural beauty, or longing for a full

Portrait of a Survivor – Jim Brown is Beating the Odds

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/12/2016 - 6:00am


To say that Jim Brown is involved in our community would be an understatement. ThurstonTalk has introduced our readers to Brown on numerous occasions. The first time, back in 2011, we talked about his role as the executive director of Rad Racing, a junior development cycling team. In 2012, Brown talked to us as the

Summer Rebels by Bus adventures…

giant wheel from ferryWe’ve already had a taste of summer… and it’s only May!  The summer Rebels by Bus adventures focus on fun in the sun and WATER!

The trip (sponsored by South Puget Sound Community College) destinations will be:

madison parkMadison Park (on Lake Washington) and the Arboretum in Seattle.


Vashon Island vashon art deco





Alki beach in West Seattle (taking the passenger-only water taxi to get there) water taxi



Ballard and the locks (connecting the Puget Sound to the ship canal and Lake Union) ballard locks



Details on each of these trips are already on the SPSCC continuing education website.  Registration will be open soon!

Categories: Local Environment

North Thurston High School Captures Girls Tennis Title

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/11/2016 - 6:00am


It’s a tactic North Thurston girls tennis coach Cheri Campbell likes to apply early in the season. Instead of racquets, running takes center stage. “We really try to condition a lot the first two weeks of practice,” Campbell said. “Part of it is to weed out the kids who don’t want to work.” Usually it

Jim Lynch Captures the Olympia Spirit in New Novel

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/11/2016 - 6:00am


Readers are often drawn to novels set in familiar surroundings. Perhaps that is why 250 people packed the downtown Olympia branch of the Timberland Regional Library on a recent Thursday evening to hear local writer, Jim Lynch. “It was a bit unnerving to see folks standing and sitting in every direction,” Lynch said. All were eager

Family and a Dream at Mediterranean Breeze

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/11/2016 - 6:00am


When Mehmet Sipahioglu immigrated to America from his Turkish town of Giresun on the Black Sea in search of opportunities, he saw something lacking in what people were generously calling traditional Turkish and Mediterranean food. “When I moved to America, I began researching restaurants and studying the market because I had been in many Turkish/Mediterranean

Putnam Lieb Potvin – Workers’ Compensation Champions

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/11/2016 - 6:00am


Washington State’s no-fault worker’s compensation laws began in 1908. If you are injured at work, you no longer have to sue your employer to prove they are at fault for causing your injuries. You are entitled to file a claim for statutorily designed benefits. Employers purchase coverage through the State Department of Labor and Industries

Celebrate the BIGGEST Birthday Bash in Thurston County with Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 2:23pm


Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County (BGCTC) will be celebrating 15 years of changing kids’ lives at its annual Foundation for the Future breakfast scheduled for May 19, 2016. Joining the party will be over 800 community members and supporters, Club kids, and special guest Marcus Trufant, former Seattle Seahawk. “The first 15 years

Lacey’s Aurora LASIK First in NW to Offer Contoura LASIK

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 11:54am


Submitted by Aurora LASIK The latest advancement in LASIK surgery has come to Lacey. Aurora LASIK is the first center in the Northwest to introduce Contoura topography-guided LASIK. This technology has been used in Europe for over 13 years.  However, Contoura LASIK was only approved in the U.S. in late 2016. As our friends outside

Port of Olympia and City of Olympia Team with Nisqually Indian Tribe for Canoe Journey Landing in July

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 11:37am


Submitted by the Port of Olympia The City of Olympia and the Port of Olympia are proud to partner with the Nisqually Indian Tribe as they host the 2016 Paddle to Nisqually Canoe Journey landing in downtown Olympia on July 30, 2016. “The cooperation between the tribe and Port of Olympia and City of Olympia

Brewery Hop Your Way Through the South Sound Craft Crawl

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 6:09am


What do you think of when you think of craft beer in the Pacific Northwest? Over the years, Seattle and Portland have established themselves as some of the region’s most sudsy cities, but with more than 30 craft breweries spanning from downtown Olympia to the Tacoma waterfront, the South Sound serves as its own microbrew

ThurstonTalk Awarded Business of the Month by Lacey South Sound Chamber

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 6:05am


When Martin McElliott accepted the Ambassador Choice Business of the Month certificate, he was pleasantly surprised. In fact, he circulated the picture via text messaging to our team. Chamber Ambassadors select a business who excels in one or more of the following categories: Work Place Excellence Think Chamber First Community Service Military Support Green Business

The Estate Store – An Affordable, and Admirable Antique Store

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 6:00am


Olympia has a treasure trove of antique, thrift, and second hand shops. In my opinion, The Estate Store is a prized jewel. The Estate Store was first thought up by the Senior Services for South Sound activities department in 2011, and was actualized by February 2012. The mission of The Estate Store is “to generate

Total Rejuvenation at Olympia’s Derma Medical Spa

Thurston Talk - Tue, 05/10/2016 - 5:55am


Dr. Bessie McCann loves her job. As the owner and provider of cosmetic services at Derma Medical Spa, one might assume that she is most proud of how her patients look following a treatment. Instead, I discovered that Dr. McCann finds the most satisfaction in how her patients feel on the inside after a cosmetic

Housing Development Threatens West Olympia's Green Cove Basin

Janine's Little Hollywood - Mon, 05/09/2016 - 6:21pm

Above: A preliminary plat application that proposes to subdivide 30 acres in West Olympia near Cooper Point Road and 20th Avenue into 65 to 75 single family lots is slowly inching closer to reality. The property is a spectacular, critical piece of the Green Cove Creek basin containing wetlands, wildlife, and steep, forested ravines. 
Crime Against Nature, Watershed Underway
By Janine Gateswww.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comA Little Hollywood Land Use Investigation
A preliminary plat application that proposes to subdivide 30 acres in West Olympia near Cooper Point Road and 20th Avenue into 65 to 75 single family lots is slowly inching closer to reality.
The property is on four tax parcels and owned by The Holt Group, Inc., of Vancouver, Washington.
The wooded property, a spectacular piece of land containing wetlands, wildlife, and natural artesian springs, is a critical piece of the Green Cove Creek Basin, considered by the City of Olympia and Thurston County to be critical aquatic habitat. The proposal includes removal of the trees, site grading and utility installations.
The Green Cove Creek Basin has its own comprehensive plan, adopted by Thurston County in 1998. A Green Cove Basin map produced by the Thurston County Storm and Surface Water Program in 1998 indicates that the area proposed to be developed contains aquifer sensitive areas labeled extreme, high, and moderate.
Some say the Green Cove area, which contains a mosaic of interrelated, delicate wetlands, is the most sensitive aquifer in all of Washington State.
Project History
Little Hollywood has tracked activity on this property since December 30, 2014, when the City of Olympia received a land use application from Will Gruner of The Holt Group for the project known as Parkside on Cooper Point, located at 2200 Cooper Point Rd NW. 
After review, the application was deemed complete in the eyes of the city and considered “vested” by the city on January 14, 2015.
According to city code, the land use “clock” stops and starts when the city requests information of the applicant and the applicant responds. The applicant has six months from the time the clock stops to respond to the city’s questions. When the applicant responds, the clock starts again.
The clock was stopped in April 2015, when the city requested information of the applicant in a 16 page letter. The clock started again when the applicant responded, but it is currently stopped again.
The applicant submitted a redesigned plat to the city on March 23 and the city is awaiting requested information regarding a wetland in the southeast corner of the property, and related engineering issues.
Currently, the applicant has until July 20 to respond to city comments.
Above: Yes, the street weeps. Natural artesian springs flow freely under 20th Avenue NW. Little Hollywood took pictures of the active springs bursting forth out of 20th Avenue on Sunday as well as on other dry days in years past. This road, from Cooper Point, leads to Thurgood Marshall Middle School and Julia Butler Hansen Elementary School, the Goldcrest and Cooper Crest neighborhoods, as well as the new Evergreen Pointe neighborhood near Kaiser Road.
City planner George Steirer was hired last year by the city to handle the application and give it special attention. He is a land use consultant with his own company, Plan To Permit, LLC. Before that, he was a planner with the City of Mercer Island.
His specialty is analyzing the feasibility and review of zoning and land use applications, including subdivisions, shoreline permits, site layouts, rezones, variances, critical area permits, zoning code changes, and comprehensive plan amendments.
When all city questions have been satisfied, the application will be submitted by the applicant at a regularly scheduled land use site review meeting.
Steirer anticipates that the applicant will respond to city concerns and may schedule a site review meeting in June or July.  The site review committee will make a recommendation, and then it will go to the hearing examiner.
It is at this point the public will have a chance to formally weigh in, although Steirer says the city welcomes public comment at all stages of the process. The city is not required to hold another neighborhood meeting about the application as it did in February 2015.
In a telephone interview with Little Hollywood on Friday, Steirer said this site presents special onsite challenges due to its size, the number of lots, and environmentally critical area.
Steirer was asked about discrepancies in the recently redesigned preliminary site plan submitted to the city on March 23, which details 65 single family homes in drawings, while the text indicates 72, and even 75 lots. Steirer agreed the numbers are inconsistent.
“We’ve called them out on that. They’ve updated the drawings but not the text. They know that,” said Steirer.
Steirer said that the applicant is required to do regrading of 20th Avenue and the city is concerned about the impact to the wetland in the southeast corner of the property.
“The city is telling the applicant, much to their chagrin, that the road needs to be widened on 20th to add sidewalks and regraded to meet public safety codes. It will take a significant amount of engineering and earth movement, adding a huge cost to the applicant,” said Steirer.
When asked about the springs weeping through the asphalt on 20th Avenue, Steirer did not seem to know about them.
“Water coming out of the asphalt?” asked Steirer.
Above: The proposed Parkside development is in the critical area of Green Cove Basin, which covers 2,626 acres or 4.1 square miles. The headwaters of Green Cove Creek are located just south of the property and drain all the way to Eld Inlet and Puget Sound.
Green Cove Basin – Death by a Thousand Subdivisions
The headwaters of nearly all the streams in Olympia are located in wetlands.
The 4.1 square-mile Green Cove basin is bounded roughly by Cooper Point Road on the east, Mud Bay Road on the south, Overhulse Road on the west, and Sunset Beach Drive on the north.
The basin, encompassing portions of Olympia’s west side and urbanized areas of Thurston County, was only 24 percent developed in 1999, according to a city report. The basin has approximately 299 acres of wetlands, or 11.8 percent of the total basin area.
Since the 1850s, approximately 250 acres, or 45 percent of historic wetlands have been lost, according to the same city report published in 1999.
The Green Cove Basin drains into the nearby 245 acre Grass Lake wetland refuge, home to chinook, coho, chum, steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout, western brook lamprey and Olympic mudminnows.
Green Cove Creek runs about 3.6 miles, and originates at the outlet of Lake Louise and flows through extensive wetlands, where the channel sometimes disappears. 
After crossing under Evergreen Parkway, the creek enters a forested area. At about 1,200 feet south of 36th Avenue NW, the creek steepens and enters a steep, forested ravine which confines the creek until it reaches the mudflats and passes in a flat straight channel into Eld Inlet at Green Cove. An unnamed tributary joins the creek south of Evergreen Parkway.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) uses Green Cove Creek from the mouth to Evergreen Parkway as an index stream for chum salmon. Coho remain in the creek and seek out wetlands and slow-water areas to rear for up to one year before migrating to saltwater.
Coho have been observed at least as far upstream as the second culvert under Kaiser Road by the sewer lift station. The DFW releases coho fingerlings to the creek at the outlet to Lake Louise.
The area is home to Olympic mudminnows, which have been scientifically captured, photographed, and released on site by Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest, less than 500 feet from the proposed development. Olympic mudminnows are found in limited locales in western Washington and nowhere else in the world.
“Historically, Cooper Point sustained vast tracks (sic) of wetlands – prime mudminnow habitat. Grass Lake and Lake Louise are two remnant examples of what much of the Point looked like in recent history. The loss of…existing forest areas and associated functions…will alter the existing hydrology of the site and the adjacent hydrologically connected streams and wetland. The burden is on the applicant to demonstrate otherwise, and we feel this burden has not been met,” wrote Jamie Glasgow, director of science and research for Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest, to the City of Olympia in 2015.
Other entities such as the city parks department, the Olympia School District, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and individuals have weighed in on the project as it has progressed.
Timothy Byrne, who was then capital planning and construction supervisor for the school district, said Hansen Elementary School is currently over capacity and has no room for additional students.
“If the Parkside Plat project is approved, the Olympia School District will consider modifying its current service boundary area to ensure elementary students generated from this proposed development attend L.P. Brown Elementary School,” wrote Byrne in his February 2015 letter to the city.
Westside’s Watchful Neighbors 
Several neighbors in the area have been watching the situation closely, but no one knows the area better than Olympia’s westside land use watchdog, 88 year old Jim Elliott.
Elliott knows the area around Cooper Point Road and 20th Avenue intimately: his mother and father homesteaded the area in the early 1900s, and at one point, the family owned 40 acres from 20th Avenue to Division Street. His family’s log cabin home still stands near the corner of Cooper Point and 20th Avenue.
In an interview with Little Hollywood last year, Elliott said that on June 18, 2015, he witnessed a truck unloading a bulldozer near the southeast corner of the property, and wondered what was going on.
He contacted his friend and neighbor, Roger Robinson, who investigated, and discovered that an egregious crime against nature had just taken place: the bulldozer had been used to enter the property to bury a natural artesian spring containing a well that Elliott’s father and uncle had put in over 70 years ago.
The wetland was brutally filled in. It is a federal crime to bury a wetland.
Robinson contacted City of Olympia planner Catherine McCoy, who was then in charge of the project, and told her about the destruction.
Speaking with Little Hollywood at the time, McCoy said the owner had the required permits and was just doing work in preparation for information requested by the city and the state.  She confirmed that she had been out on the property just a week prior to the incident with Alex Callender, wetland specialist for the Washington State Department of Ecology for the purpose of surveying the property.
Habitat Preservation: An Olympia Community Priority
In April 2015, an online Elway Poll was conducted on behalf of the city Parks, Arts and Recreation Department as part of the department's effort to include citizen opinions and priorities in the planning for programs and facilities.
This report summarizes the results of a random sample survey of 759 Olympia citizens. Water quality, wildlife habitat, public access and scenic value were each rated by more than 90 percent as important reasons to preserve open space. 
Neighborhood parks were ranked as the "most needed" type of park in Olympia with large natural areas following close behind.
In a question regarding habitat preservation, the preservation of wetland habitat was ranked as the most important type of wildlife habitat to protect. Mature forest land, wildlife species and Budd Inlet shoreline were not far behind in the ranking.
Trails, natural open spaces and improved maintenance were ranked at the top priorities for the department as suggested by citizens at community forums.
The city’s Habitat and Stewardship Strategy identified the need for active stewardship across the entire Green Cove landscape to lessen the ongoing indirect effects of urbanization.
Thad Curtz, chair of the city’s Utility Advisory Committee, wrote a letter in February 2014 in support of the City of Olympia’s application for the National Estuary Program Watershed Protection and Restoration Grant. 
His letter specifically addresses the Green Cove Basin and the city’s Habitat and Stewardship Strategy, which uses a watershed-based framework to identify and prioritize the city’s habitat acquisition and restoration needs.
“The Strategy prioritizes the Green Cove basin in northwest Olympia. The basin is unique and has a history of natural resources study and protection work. It was the focus of extensive work in 1998-2001 to create one of the first comprehensive environmentally-based zoning districts in the Puget Sound region….”
Jim Elliott, who still lives near his family homestead, doesn’t need to be told by any city “strategy” what to protect or how to protect it.
“It’s a mess. The city speaks with a forked tongue,” he said on Friday.
For more information about the proposed Parkside development, contact George Steirer, City of Olympia planner, Community Planning & Development, 601 4th Avenue East, Olympia, WA 98507-1967 or He does not have a city phone number.
Above:  The Elliott family’s log cabin home still stands near the corner of Cooper Point and 20th Avenue, in view of a proposed new housing development.

Enjoy the Beauty of Spring on Prairie Appreciation Day

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/09/2016 - 2:31pm


Submitted by South Sound Prairies Program Spring is here and so are the wildflower blooms on the South Sound Prairies. Rolling hills of grass spangled with swaths of blue Camas with accents of Spring Gold and buttercups, open skies and gnarled Garry oaks are just 30 minutes south of Olympia. Come and enjoy the natural

Two Rochester Teams Place Third at Statewide Creative Competition

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:22pm


Submitted by the Rochester School District  How do you encourage highly capable students to find their hidden potential? How do you tap into their creativity? Gifted education teacher Danette Jones looked to Destination Imagination to unlock these treasures. The result? Two of her four Rochester School District (RSD) teams placed third in their age group

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