Recent local blog posts

Sub Pop U.S.A. at the Sou’wester!

K Records - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 12:13am
The word is out and everyone is psyched to get some Sub Pop U.S.A. action, so the roadshow continues: next stop Seaview, Washington, February 7. Bruce Pavitt is the founder of mega-independent record label Sub Pop. His underground music world origins are in Olympia, Washington where in 1979 he established a show about independent […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pine Hill Haints “Scarlett Fever”

K Records - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 12:10am
That fiddle cuts straight to the heart. There’s love in them there hills, Pine Hill Haints got it right. K Song of the Day: Pine Hill Haints “Scarlett Fever” from their The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] album. The Pine Hill Haints album The Magik Sounds of Pine Hill Haints [KLP254] is available […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Volunteers Needed for 2015 Homeless Census January 29-31

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 6:11pm


Submitted by Thurston County

Countywide count includes homeless resource events in Rochester, Yelm, Olympia and Tenino  

Volunteers are needed to help with the annual homeless census in Thurston County, and with several “Homeless Connect” resource fair events, all happening Thursday, January 29 through Saturday, January 31. The Thurston County census and resource fairs are part of a nationwide “Point in Time” homeless count designed to help determine who is homeless, why, and what resources are needed to help people get back to independence.

2015 homeless census organizers will mobilize hundreds of volunteers to fan out across the county to find and interview homeless residents. Previous census volunteers have included individuals from local schools and colleges, non-profit organizations, faith communities, businesses, elected officials, and even some volunteers struggling with homelessness themselves.

“We need a lot of volunteers to make this a successful census.” said Homeless Census Coordinator Anna Schlecht. “Each year, we draw people from all walks of life to fan out throughout the county to learn who’s homeless and why. By working together, we all learn more about homelessness and about the roles we can play to help folks get back into housing.”

The 2015 homeless census will include a new special outdoor “Youth Count!” event at the Artesian Well in downtown Olympia. Volunteers are needed for Youth Count! so that census organizers can reach more street-dependent youth who are often hard to find using other census methods. The Youth Count! event will feature live music, a youth-run hot dog stand, social services and survival resources. All Youth Count! activities will occur rain or shine, under canopies as needed.

Along with the census and survey canvasing, volunteers are also needed for four homeless resource fair events where families and individuals struggling with homelessness can connect with social services, and where they can also get hot meals, warm clothing, and other survival commodities. This year’s “Homeless Connect” resource fair events will be held in Rochester and Yelm on Thursday, January 29, and in downtown Olympia and in Tenino on Saturday, January 31.

The annual Thurston County Homeless Census is coordinated by the City of Olympia, which has a contract with Thurston County to do the census. The results of the census are used to help guide federal, state and local funding decisions for local shelters, transitional housing, and related supportive services. The Thurston County HOME Consortium oversees the annual census and uses the data to help make recommendations for the multi-jurisdictional administration of the county’s housing programs.

If you are interested in volunteering with the 2015 Thurston County Homeless Census or at the Homeless Connect resource fair events in Rochester, Yelm, Olympia or Tenino, contact Homeless Census Coordinator Anna Schlecht at (360) 753-8183 or  You can register to help online here.

  • Jan. 29:    Thurston County Homeless Census—locations throughout Thurston County
  • Jan. 29:    Rochester Homeless Connect at the ROOF Community Center, 10140 Highway 12 SW in Rochester, 98579
  • Jan. 29:    Yelm Homeless Connect at Yelm Community Services Center, 624 Crystal Springs Road NW in Yelm, 98597
  • Jan. 31:    Olympia Homeless Connect at First Christian Church, 701 Franklin St SE in Olympia, 98501
  • Jan. 31:    Tenino Homeless Connect at the Quarry House, 319 W Park Ave in Tenino, 98589


Port Welcomes Faucher as Marine Terminal Director

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 3:52pm



Submitted by the Port of Olympia

Port Welcomes Faucher as Marine Terminal Director.

Port Welcomes Len Faucher as Marine Terminal Director.

Leonard “Len” Faucher joined the Port of Olympia Monday, January 12 as Marine Terminal Director. He brings the port extensive and successful experience in the maritime industry sector.

At Charles R. Weber Company, Inc., Greenwich, Conn., one of the oldest and largest ship brokerage companies in the United States, Faucher managed a team that handled all vessel and cargo operations and related accounting for the company.

Earlier, he was responsible for scheduling Hess Corporation’s barging and shipping activities across 20 terminals in New York Harbor.

“Len has demonstrated impressive leadership in cargo, vessel and terminal operations, international marketing and contract negotiations,” said Ed Galligan, port executive director.

“He has worked extensively with unions and has a history of activity in community groups as well as industry organizations,” Galligan added.

Faucher earned a BS in marine transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, an MBA from University of New Hampshire, and is currently working on a Ph.D. in business administration. He served in the U. S. Naval Reserves as a commissioned officer.

He teaches business courses as an adjunct professor at St. Martin’s University.

Faucher and his family live in Olympia.

Flipping the Switch: How Harlequin Productions Has Fared in the Midst of Economic Recession

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 3:10pm



Submitted by Harlequin Productions 

Harlequin Productions stages it's shows in the Historic State Theater in downtown Olympia.

Harlequin Productions stages shows in the Historic State Theater in downtown Olympia.

With the start of the 2008 economic recession, financial woes began spreading across our local county. Individuals and businesses alike felt the blow as consumer confidence fell and unemployment rose. Arts organizations in particular were adversely impacted, and Olympia’s own Harlequin Productions found itself right in the path of the oncoming economic storm.

It took a couple years for the non-profit theater company to feel the effects, but it happened soon enough. As Managing Artistic Director, Scot Whitney describes, “In November 2010, it was like someone flipped a switch and all of a sudden ticket sales, sponsors, and donations fell off.”

Since that sudden and distinct drop off in support over four years ago, Harlequin has experienced a steady, discouraging decline in ticket sales and has struggled to find new sponsors and advertisers. “We are so grateful to those local businesses and donors who continued their support through it all because we wouldn’t have made it without them.” says Scot Whitney.

“It was heartbreaking,” says Artistic Director, Linda Whitney. “Year after year our reserves were depleted. Heading into Season 2015, the forecast for the next year looked pretty bleak.”  Early projections showed a cash flow shortage of about $50,000 come April 2015.  Yes, Harlequin was facing complete depletion of its reserves and had started planning a special campaign to increase working capital to make it through.

The company’s leaders, however, were forced to face the possibility that Harlequin’s story may be coming to an end. “We have always said that we would be here presenting our distinctive brand of theater as long as the community supported it,” recalls Linda. “We decided that no matter what, we would not go into debt. If the day ever came that we couldn’t make payroll, or we couldn’t pay our actors, we’d shut the doors.”

Clybourne Park HarlequinThen this past October, something happened. Harlequin opened their production of Clybourne Park, a Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy by Bruce Norris. It was a play that local critics praised, but tickets sales were lagging (a familiar story by this time). For the first two weekends, the show sold 20% under projections. But the final two weekends shocked the company by selling significantly over projections, with the final weekend nearly selling out. It had been years since they’d seen a non-musical performance come close to selling out.

“I came in for the show one night in the third weekend and thought the ticket sales report might have been a typo,” remembers Scot. “It wasn’t until I was standing in front of the audience during the curtain speech that I could let myself believe we actually had a sold-out crowd.”

After Clybourne Park closed, Harlequin was scratching its head wondering what suddenly happened halfway through the run. But they didn’t have too much time to think, because their next show, The Stardust Christmas Commotion, the latest in Harlequin’s series of holiday musicals, was opening in a few short weeks.

Going into Stardust, Harlequin wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Was the sudden success of Clybourne Park just a fluke? Or was it a sign that things were getting better?

They got their answer: Stardust not only sold extremely well, it broke records. The Stardust Christmas Commotion filled the theater to an average of 95% of capacity. Seventeen out of its twenty-four performances sold out, and the show set a new all-time Harlequin record for most consecutive sold-out performances with fourteen straight completely packed houses. “We added two performances to the run to try to accommodate the demand,” said Korja Giles, Harlequin’s Box Office Manager, “but in the final week, we had to turn people away. It was terrible to have to disappoint so many people during the holidays!”

The Stardust series is a local holiday favorite and this year's production saw record ticket sales and sell-out shows.

The Stardust series is a local holiday favorite and this year’s production saw record ticket sales and sell-out shows.

“We think someone may have flipped the switch back on,” declared Scot and Linda Whitney.

Has someone finally flipped the switch? They have reason to feel optimistic. With the success of The Stardust Christmas Commotion, the projected $50,000 cash flow deficit has been whittled down to about $15,000, a much more manageable challenge.

And things are not just looking up for Harlequin but for Olympia as a whole. People everywhere seem to be more optimistic. The Arts bring more than culture to a community. The success of Stardust brought more people downtown, enhancing local economic activity as Harlequin patrons shopped and dined before and after performances.  A recent Harlequin survey shows that 76% of their patrons dine out as a part of their theater excursion while 26% shop at local retail shops. “We see a 20% increase in our business on Harlequin show nights,” commented Mark Arndt, manager of the neighboring McMenamins Spar Café.

This city is known for its appreciation of the arts. And the resurgence of its theater scene is good news for everyone who appreciates a vibrant and culturally diverse downtown.

Harlequin is clearly excited about its upcoming offerings for Season 2015. Up next is The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow, an outrageously comic stage version of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film thriller in which four actors play an incomprehensible number of characters. Find a list of all Harlequin Season 2015 shows at If recent experience is any indication, you may want to grab your tickets sooner rather than later.

Next year’s Season 2016 will mark the 25th year that Harlequin Productions has been producing extraordinary theatrical adventures for the greater Olympia community. “It looks like we just may be around to celebrate our silver anniversary year,” says Linda. “And that’s good news!”


Become an Estuary Steward!

Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 12:47pm

The Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team (DERT), is holding a Volunteer Training on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at the Harbor House located at 216 Thurston Avenue in Olympia on Percival Landing. The training will start at 10 a.m. and run until 2 p.m.

The Volunteer Training will help DERT kick off our new Estuary Stewards Program and will feature the “Then and Now” of the Deschutes estuary – including watershed information and a current update on restoration efforts. We will also feature activities for the volunteer Estuary Stewards to engage in, everything from working on special projects like publication of our new Deschutes Watershed Guide to grant writing, technical work, events tabling, public speaking, office work and more. We will also take a short walking tour of the areas of estuarine importance in downtown Olympia. The program will be fun, interactive and full of great information to help train our Estuary Stewards who in turn will help DERT tell the story of this beneficial estuary restoration effort. Together, we can help rebuild a vibrant and healthy urban environment.

Snacks and refreshments will be served. To sign up please fill out this form by January 20, 2015. For questions, please contact Sue Patnude at

Categories: Local Environment

Mikey Fitz of Depression Jam

K Records - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 11:55am
Our Mikey Dees, of long-time Olympia and K combo Fitz of Depression, is currently waiting for trial in an Hawaiian jail. His friends and family started a defense fund through Indiegogo to raise enough funds ($5000.00) to pay his bail. More information can be found HERE. Folks interested in helping Mikey can purchase either (or […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

“It’s the Bread” – Meconi’s Head Baker Callie Robello Bakes from Scratch

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 11:09am



By Kate Scriven

meconis bread

Head baker Callie Robello arrives each day before 3:00 a.m. to ensure all four Meconi’s locations have freshly baked bread by their 10:00 a.m. opening time.

Olympia Beer’s famous motto, “It’s the Water,” refers to the fresh artesian spring water used in the original Tumwater brewery’s production and showcases what set the brew apart from the competition. Likewise, when you ask area sandwich lovers what sets local sub shop Meconi’s Italian Subs apart from the rest you’ll likely hear, “It’s the Bread.”

Six days a week you’ll find Meconi’s head baker, Callie Robello, up before the sun, heating the ovens to bake Meconi’s signature breads and baked goods. Along with a crew of three additional bakers, Callie arrives at the bakery between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. each morning (except a well-deserved Sunday off). Yes, you read that right – 2:30 a.m.

Meconi’s and Robello know the early hour is what it takes to create scratch-baked bread each day so you can enjoy your favorite sub on a roll baked that morning. It’s a promise and commitment that Meconi’s makes to its customers and you can taste the quality and baking know-how in each bite.

Meconi’s Bakery, located next to the Lacey store, has been crafting their own baked goods for over 15 years. Operations Manager Robin Vaughn shares they used to purchase rolls in the early days, then rented space in a nearby building to begin creating their own signature bread. When demand grew, they built the bakery facility on site to suit the unique needs of their production.

meconis bread

After proofing, the rolls are ready to be baked in Meconi’s rotating oven.

The mixer alone is a stunning piece of machinery. Add to that the custom calibrated dough divider, huge proofer (where the rolls rise) and the rotating, walk-in oven and you have a facility that can easily handle the 1200 sub rolls and 12 dozen or more cookies baked daily.

Everything is made from scratch using the same ingredients you’d use in your own home, just on a lot larger scale. Flours and dry ingredients are weighed a day ahead, when the day’s baking is done, and stored in bins ready to be mixed first thing the next morning. “We want to prep ahead,” laughs Robello, “When we arrive in the dark, we can just add yeast and water and not have to think too much first thing when we arrive.”

The dough is mixed for 9 ½ minutes then transferred to the bench table to be portioned into strips. These strips are then fed into the dough divider. This amazing machine sections the dough, weighing each portion, ensuring each roll is exactly the same. It then rolls each portion into perfectly sized rolls before depositing them on a baking tray for the final touches by the bakers.

The bread racks then spend 1 ½ to 2 hours in the “proofer” to rise before baking. “The amount of time spent in the proofer really varies depending on the weather,” shares Robello. “Temperature and humidity can affect the consistency of the dough. If the temperature of the dough is off, the batch can be ruined.” Sometimes even professionals make mistakes. “We’ve had to throw out a few batches,” Robello admits, “but we get pretty good at what we do.”

meconis bread

Callie Robello and assistant baker Callin Tracy complete the final step of the morning – packaging the rolls for delivery to each Meconi’s Italian Subs shop.

Robello joined the Meconi’s team as head baker about two years ago. Raised in Elma after a childhood in Germany with her military family, she originally planned a career in forensics. But she loved baking at home and thought, “why don’t I do this for a job?”

She enrolled in the pastry program at South Puget Sound Community College and worked as a baker in a few locations before joining Meconi’s. “It’s my first time as a head baker,” she shares. “I really love seeing the satisfaction on people’s face when they eat the bread I bake.” That satisfaction comes from ensuring every roll is baked fresh each morning. Never is the bread par-baked and held for a later day. Each roll goes from flour and water to the signature soft, golden roll each day.

“Most people don’t know we go the extra mile to make all our baked goods from scratch. No other sandwich shop does that and I think it comes from our passion to make truly fresh, homemade food for our customers,” Robello shares.

In addition to the fresh rolls and delicious cookies, the bakery is starting to add some seasonal specialty items to the menu this year. In December, they offered a white chocolate-orange-cranberry scones. Be on the lookout for some new homemade treats in 2015.

meconis cookies

Cookies are made from scratch as well in the bakery, located adjacent to the Lacey Meconi’s.

Robello is also the genius behind the new Meconi’s gluten-free rolls. The rave reviews from customers are a testament to Robello’s dedication and skill.

Meconi’s commitment to quality, from scratch cooking extends to its meatballs and chili (both made from scratch from the old Meconi family recipe), salads, and select dressings. Scratch-made salads include egg, tuna, pasta, macaroni, and potato salads. The balsamic vinaigrette, raspberry vinaigrette, and honey mustard dressings are also crafted in-house.

Meconi’s Italian Subs are a local favorite for good reason. The commitment to crafting products from scratch keeps customers coming back for more. With Robello leading the baking team at Meconi’s, fans of the sub shop can rest easy that they can say “It’s the Bread” for years to come.


Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 029

K Records - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:34am
The Pink Elephant’s Gravecast is also available from Stitcher and iTunes. The Pink Elephant’s Gravecast, broadcast from the Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, Washington, is an on-going audio exploration of all things K.  This week’s episode finds host Calvin Johnson continuing to explore the Hits – the Hits the rest of the world has somehow […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Celebrating Olympia's Great Blue Herons

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 9:26am
Words, photos and videos by Nancy Partlow

“The Heron flies in a slow, leisurely manner, as if it was hoping to remember where it’s going before it actually gets there.”  Anthony ArmstrongGreat Blue Herons are iconic and beloved denizens of the Olympia shoreline.  Of all our local species, I think they most resemble the dinosaurs from which birds evolved. To see one flying with huge wings extended, and hear its emphatic grawk, only reinforces the impression of a present-day pterodactyl.
Great Blue Herons are beautiful, graceful in flight, and have intense golden eyes that reveal, more than anything else about them, their wild natures.

For photographers and bird lovers, the presence of these magnificent creatures offers an increasingly rare opportunity to capture images of bird life on the Olympia waterfront.   I’d like to share some photos that I’ve taken and some interesting facts I’ve learned about Olympia’s herons over the last few years.
Last spring, I noticed a group of great blue herons gathered on a rubble pile offshore of West Bay Drive - which seemed odd.  Except when nesting, herons don’t seem to tolerate being near each other like that.   I thought perhaps it might have something to do with the breeding season. As it turns out, it does.

According to WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Management Recommendations for the Great Blue Heron,
Prior to nesting, herons may gather in groups. Surveyors have observed pre-nesting groups close to many of the region’s heron colonies…
...  There is some debate as to how prevalent these groups are in the region. Although birds may not exhibit this behavior at every colony, more survey and research during the pre-nesting period will help us better understand these habitats.
I dubbed the jumble of bricks and cement blocks “Heron Island”, and discovered it is located almost directly below the heronry tucked in the woods above West Bay Drive. 
 At the start of the breeding season, adult herons sport a long, jaunty plume upon their heads,

...and an elegant feather cape draped over their shoulders.

Their beaks and lower legs deepen in color from a dull yellow to an orange hue.
Juvenile Great Blue Herons differ in appearance from mature ones, appearing to have more brown coloration and more solidly dark heads than adult GBH’s.
Looking like a Dr. Seuss creation, and perhaps newly fledged from a nest at the west Olympia heronry, this juvenile scoped out the lay of the land and water at Percival Creek estuary in the spring  of 2013.

It could have been the same young bird I captured in silhouette later that summer hunting below the 5th Avenue Bridge.

A salmon swam at its feet, but after jumping into the water with a noisy splash,

the heron emerged with a smaller fish impaled upon its bayonet-like mandibles.

Quickly ingested its prey, evidence of its kill stained its bloody beak.

When hunting, herons can be quite territorial.  Watching two of them at the Percival Creek estuary, one stalked the other until the perceived interloper was forced to fly off and land near a group of geese and ducks.  Finding safety in numbers, the vanquished heron’s countenance seemed to say, “Don’t mind me.  I’m just hanging out here with my peeps.”

After dining, the wispy cravat on a heron’s breast serves a specific purpose.  According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds web site,
Great Blue Herons have specialized feathers on their chest that continually grow and fray. The herons comb this “powder down” with a fringed claw on their middle toes, using the down like a washcloth to remove fish slime and other oils from their feathers as they preen. Applying the powder to their underparts protects their feathers against the slime and oils of swamps.

Herons have their favorite grooming posts.  Months without rain in the summer of 2013 left the accumulated evidence of one such hangout at Capitol Lake, on a log covered with heron droppings and old feathers.  As I watched the bird combing and preening, it created a small cloud of feathers and dust around itself.

Herons are opportunistic, and the 5th Avenue dam and two nearby bridges have created favorable conditions for them to pursue fish.  At certain times of the year, it is rare to visit this location and not observe a heron.
One day at the dam, the inky-black reflection of a 5th Avenue bridge streetlight manifested intriguing and ever-changing patterns in the water near a bird.  I half-expected it to spell out, “Save the Herons!” or “Surrender Dorothy”.

Waiting for the darkness to lift, a heron huddled on a dam abutment one freezing winter morning at the perigee of a King Tide.

Peering intently into the autumn-hued waters of Budd Inlet, a heron stands like a phantom at the threshold between two worlds.

Humans too, stand at a threshold; between a world where species other than ourselves can flourish, or one sadly and eerily devoid of such life due to habitat loss, climate change and the ever-growing claim that Homo sapiens stake upon the earth’s freely-be bestowed gifts. 

I am so grateful to those people who have toiled to protect Olympia’s heronry and forest habitat above West Bay Drive.  May their inspiring work be an impetus for further preservation, and restoration, of Olympia’s nearshore and shoreline ecosystems, and the Puget Sound at large.

Videos (for best viewing, watch in high definition):

Great Blue Herons in pre-nesting congregation on rubble pile off West Bay Drive, right below the heronry:
GBH eating a three-spined stickleback at 5th Avenue dam:
GBH watching flock of mergansers swim by at North Point:
Info about Great Blue Herons:
Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Protection (group working to protect the west Olympia heronry) on facebook:
OlyEcosystems web site:
March Point Heronry colony at Padilla Bay, with a link to some audio of herons on the nest:
Pictures of Woodard Bay heronry:
Categories: Local Environment

Nobody Does It Better Than Tumwater Basketball’s David Cooper

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 7:07am



By Gail Wood

capital medical centerAttached to David Cooper’s achievement – he is Tumwater High School’s all-time leading scorer in basketball – is an assumption.

To score more points than anyone in the history of the 55-year-old school, he must be a gunner, a ball hog armed with a shooter’s mentality. But, his coach, Thomas Rowswell, will tell you nothing could be further from the truth.

“His feel for the game is one of the best I’ve seen for a high school kid,” Rowswell said. “When he gets the ball, he makes a good decision 95 percent of the time. He doesn’t force it.”

tumwater david cooper

Senior David Cooper is Tumwater High School’s all-time leading scorer.

Cooper the scorer is also Cooper the passer. Along with his 21.6 scoring averaging is the nearly five assists he averages per game. This is one scoring king who is more focused on winning than popping a contested jumper and padding his stats. It’s all about winning.

“He’s probably one of the best team guys I’ve seen,” Rowswell said. “He’s unconditional. He cares about his teammates. He does what it takes for his team to win.”

Five games into the season, Cooper, a starter on the varsity since his freshman year, scored his 1,065th point, making him his school’s scoring king. He started the season 98 points behind Duane Cordiner’s record total of 1,064 points that he scored from 1962-64. Brandon Semken is third at 1,024 points and Scott Gurnsey is fourth at 900.

Cooper’s been crowned scoring king, averaging just under double digits his freshman year and 15-plus after that. And now Cooper, scoring 231 points after 11 games this season, has 1,213 career points and continues to pull away from the crowd, doing what no one has ever done at his school. Cooper is the one T-Bird fans will be talking about decades from now, saying, “Remember how David Cooper could shoot?”

tumwater david cooper

As a 6’5″ guard, David Cooper is a tough matchup for opponents. He dunks here at a recent practice.

But Cooper isn’t distracted by the record or by the focus from opposing teams, trying to stop him. He’s not feeling any pressure about being the Thunderbirds’ go-to-guy. Off to an 11-1 start, Tumwater isn’t a one-gun team. Not with 6’10” Weston Vandenhazel and 6’5″ Ty Gentry averaging in double figures.

“I don’t think there’s that much pressure just because I’ve got such good teammates,” Cooper said. “I know that defenses also focus on guys like Ty Gentry and Weston Vandenhazel. We just have so many threats offensively they can’t take away everything.”

Because of Cooper’s size – he’s 6’5″ and plays guard. Because of his shooting touch – he’s shooting 52 percent from the field for the season. And because of his knack for dribbling past a defender, Cooper is a scoring machine, scoring a season-high 34 and topping 30 points several times.

Cooper got an early start in the game. He began playing basketball at age five, with his dad coaching his South Sound YMCA team. And from the start, Cooper, even though he was tall, played guard. He wasn’t put inside to play center, which his dad, David Cooper Sr., did, eventually playing at the University of Portland.

“I think at a young age coaches and my dad saw that I could handle the ball,” Cooper said. “So I just worked on that a lot. I worked on my perimeter skills and my shooting so I could play outside.”

david cooper tumwater

David Cooper is a shooter and a passer for the Thunderbirds.

That doesn’t mean Cooper doesn’t know how to go inside and post up. His dad made sure he learned what a jump hook was.

“Yeah, my dad definitely taught me a lot of post moves,” Cooper said. “I got my foot work down.”

So far this season, Cooper has played every position on the floor – point guard, shooting guard, forward and post.

“He’s played a little of everything because he has that skill set to do a little bit of everything,” Rowswell said. “And he’s hit the weight room and put on five pounds of muscle. That helps him inside.”

Despite his knack for putting a basket through a hoop, Cooper can’t be defined just by his basketball stats. This is hardly a dumb jock. Cooper is averaging 3.99 GPA, an A-minus in Algebra II ruining a perfect 4.0. He stumbled in an Algebra test coming back from a vacation, messing up his chance at acing the class.

“I missed it by like .5 percent,” Cooper said with a smile. “It was tough. But it’s okay. The importance of grades and academics are definitely something my parents taught me.”

david cooper tumwater

David Cooper (with the ball) is a solid outside shooter for Tumwater.

And besides learning about posting up on the basketball court and the value of school work, Cooper picked up something else from his dad. Cooper, like his father, wants to be an Air Force pilot. Cooper, Sr. flew KC 135s and served 28 years in the Air Force.

Cooper Jr. wants to attend the Air Force Academy next year and play basketball. He’s been talking with the coach there and he’s already got his congressional nomination from Congressman Denny Heck.

“Yeah, I want to go to flight training and pilot school afterwards,” Cooper said. “I’d love to be a fighter pilot. That’s the top. Just being a pilot would be a great experience.”

Beside basketball and studies, Cooper is also involved with student government. He’s the ASB Secretary and also helps with pep assemblies, blood drives and school dances.

“David is a nice young man,” said Tim Graham, Tumwater’s athletic director. “He’s not only polite, he’s a strong leader in our school.”

And he’ll be remembered for being everyone’s friend who scored more points than anyone in school history.

Ship to Sail Soon Following Repairs

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 6:41am



Submitted by Port of Olympia

The Star Dieppe discharged cargo at the Port of Olympia and then anchored near Cooper Point for a few days while undergoing repairs. It is expected to sail on the high tide tonight or tomorrow.

It is not unusual for ships to require repairs while in port and the repairs would typically occur at the pier. However, due to the Port’s dredging project near the pier, the Star Dieppe anchored out in the channel during the repairs.

The follow-up dredging pass now underway is a requirement of the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the maintenance dredge which was completed in 2014. The purpose of the maintenance dredge was to restore the depth levels that help ensure safe operations at the pier. Both dredges also remove legacy pollution from the area.

Passionate Singers Crowd the Olympia Peace Choir

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 6:00am



By Lynn West

indian summer logoEven though I was traumatized at an early age by the strong suggestion that I merely mouth the words in the school choir, I so admire my many friends with beautiful singing voices. As a matter of fact, I choose to sit in their shadow at an annual Christmas “Sing-Along” party. One friend in particular always has a big smile on her face when she talks about being a member of the Olympia Peace Choir.

The Olympia Peace Choir is a unique grassroots organization that began five years ago as the brainchild of Kerri Lynn Nichols and a group of friends. Kerri Lynn describes, “Initially it was devised as a way to find joy and positivity in the power of singing as a counter to the negativity of the political and cultural divisiveness around us.” She and a group of eight or nine friends gathered to discuss how they could create a group that shared their goal of welcoming all levels of singing ability and creating quality through inclusion.

olympia peace choir

The Olympia Peace Choir meets weekly on Mondays from September through May.

“The first night we had a group of 45,” Kerri Lynn told me. “We never envisioned that many people showing up or how the group would grow.” Currently 110 members gather each Monday night from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to learn new music and practice for performances. “We are not affiliated with any religious group,” she told me. “We have just found a wonderful place to practice and perform. The group mirrors the diversity of our community, as does our music. We sing classical, international, contemporary and original pieces.”

I asked my friend, Ann Sharar, what motivated her to become a member. She said, “A friend and I saw the Olympia Peace Choir performing at the Olympia Farmers Market. We thought it might be fun to be a participant. When we found an announcement describing the group as friendly with no auditions and that every voice counts, we were even more motivated.”

Ann finds that the inclusiveness and open mindedness promotes both learning music of other cultures and the stories surrounding that music. The group has a few storytellers who expand on the historical and cultural aspects of the pieces they are practicing.

olympia peace choir

One opportunity to see the Olympia Peace Choir is in the Capitol Rotunda on January 17.

For their MLK-inspired performance in the Capitol Rotunda on January 17 from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., the Olympia Peace Choir is learning a Turkish Laz work song, “Heyamo.” It tells the story of the Laz minority group separated from family by the natural borders established during a Soviet takeover. In order to see family, the Laz would have to travel one thousand miles by land rather than merely crossing the river. Some choir members are also talented musicians and have formed a Klezmer band to accompany this piece. This performance, as are all the Peace Choir performances, is open to the public.

The mission of The Olympia Peace Choir according to Kerri Lynn Nichols is “to make the power of the community singing vibrate earth and shift together to make a slow movement toward peace and justice.” With that goal in mind, each March the Peace Choir plans a benefit concert and silent auction with the proceeds benefitting a local organization. Past recipients have been SideWalk and SafePlace.

This year’s concert will be March 28 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and they have chosen to support Pear Blossom Place Family Support Center with the proceeds. Kerri Lynn said the leadership of the group is totally community based with a Board of Directors that oversees organizational issues. The group nominated five organizations and voted as a group in early January to support the new shelter.

olympia peace choir

While the Olympia Peace Choir practices at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, they are not religiously affiliated and enjoy learning a wide variety of musical pieces.

The Peace Choir meets from September through May and members are urged to commit for that period of time. “Whoever comes is supposed to be here,” Kerri Lynn said, “but, of course, we are always looking for a few more men and younger folks.” Currently the youngest member is 11 and the oldest 85. Each year for the benefit concert, they invite another group to be part of the program. Last year the Vashon Island Free Range Folk Choir joined them; this year’s group has not yet been chosen.

The Peace Choir receives many requests to perform, but often the venues are not large enough to accommodate the members and accompanists. Currently the Board of Directors is piloting a project auditioning interested members for six or eight smaller a’cappella groups that could entertain at nursing homes, memory care centers or hospitals, for example. Since Peace Choir does not meet during the summer months, the a’cappella choirs could perform then also.

If you have a passion for singing, the Olympia Peace Choir is waiting for you. If you are a silent singer like me, enjoy the Peace Choir’s performances as an enthusiastic audience member and maybe even tap your foot with the band.

A Day On: Volunteer Opportunities Abound to Honor Martin Luther King, Promote Social Justice

Thurston Talk - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 6:00am



By Rachel Thomson

providence medical group sponsorMartin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Many people will have a day off work to observe Martin Luther King Day on Monday. But for several community groups and organizations, the upcoming holiday will be considered a “day on.” This weekend, to celebrate what would have been King’s 86th birthday, several local non-profit organizations and community groups are hosting service projects to honor the late civil rights activist and promote social justice.

mlk volunteer

AmeriCorps Members Missy Ayers (left), April Roe (center), and Anne Schuster (right) completed an environment restoration service project for Martin Luther King Day, 2014.
Photo courtesy: Stream Team

Claire Skelley, AmeriCorps member and Water Resources Assistant Outreach Coordinator is helping to lead one of these service projects with Stream Team, an organization that strives to protect and enhance local water resources, habitats and wildlife by involving citizens. She and other volunteers will be planting trees at Lacey’s Woodland Creek Community Park. She says when people work together on projects like these it often brings out enthusiasm and good will.

“This event is a great example of the power of service,” Skelley said. “It’s a network of dedicated people working together to inspire environmental stewardship, cultivate a sense of community, and enhance our public lands and waterways.”

From improving the environment to collecting clothing and essential items for the homeless, there is no shortage of projects in which people of all ages may partake. All events take place on Martin Luther King Day (Monday, Jan. 19, unless otherwise noted) 

Social Justice

Queerance Rack: AmeriCorps Youth in Service members are hosting a one-day event for youths who identify as being part of the LGBTQQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual) community. The all-day event takes place from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sunday, January 25 at Olympia’s Abigail Stuart House, 1002 Washingotn St. SE. The purpose is to create a safe place for youth to exchange clothing, learn about local resources, play games and share stories. Youths will also have the opportunity to network with each other and learn about local networks that can support them. Volunteers advocates and allies from non-profit organizations Stonewall Youth and Pizza Klatch will be there to provide information about resources. Those interested in volunteering may email or call 360-888-7310.

mlk volunteer

A donation bin sits at the Olympia Timberland Regional Library. Volunteers are collecting camping gear, blankets and other essential items for homeless and low-income people in Olympia as part of an MLK Day project.
Photo credit: Rachel Thomson

HO-Down (Homeless Outreach Downtown) donation drive: The Emma Goldman Youth & Homeless Outreach Project, also known as EGYHOP, is hosting a donation drive and distribution project. EGYHOP is a non-profit organization that collects emergency supplies for homeless individuals in downtown Olympia. Each night a team of volunteers drives around on a bicycle hitched to a trailer with supplies and distributes them. Volunteers for the MLK Day project are collecting emergency supplies, hygiene products, socks, gloves, camping gear, blankets and first aid supplies. Carson Spaulding, one of the organizers of the project said donations for the MLK Day distribution will be collected through Jan. 17. The items, along with coffee and small packaged food items will be delivered to individuals Monday, Jan. 19. Spaulding said the greatest thing the project needs is more donations. Several donation bins have been set up around Olympia, including the Olympia Timberland Regional Library, 313 8th Ave. SE. Donations can also be dropped off at EGYHOP’s regular collection sites, including Traditions Café, located at 300 5th Ave. SW and at Interfaith Works, 701 Franklin St. SE. For more information on EGYHOP and to view a complete list of items needed, visit EGYHOP’s website or email

GRuB on a Budget:  GRuB is hosting a free one-day healthy living workshop for low-income families. Families will learn about basis nutrition, wellness practices, and how to prepare affordable, healthy meals. Organizers hope the project will inspire families to cook together. There will be cooking demonstrations and participants will get the opportunity to create recipe books. Participants will also get to cook and eat a healthy meal. The event will be hosted by AmeriCorps service members from Community Youth Services, GRuB and Growing Veterans.

“In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. we hope to reflect on the ways we can empower our communities toward food security and sovereignty with shared knowledge, skills and traditions,” says Ali Mediate, Kitchen Garden Project and KGP Backyard Gardens Coordinator at GRuB.

The event runs form 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the GRuB Farmhouse, 2016 Elliot Ave. NW in Olympia. For more information, call (360) 753-5522.


mlk volunteer

GRuB staff and volunteers prepare fresh food during a recent public workshop. GRuB will be doing an all-day workshop on Martin Luther King Day focusing on nutrition and healthy living. Photo courtesy GRuB

Wa He Lut College Access Day: Volunteers will be partnering with several student organizations at The Evergreen State College to lead a series of campus tours for middle school students at Wa He Lut Indian School. Middle school students will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops and activities meant to encourage Native youth to pursue higher education. Current or former Evergreen students interested in assisting with the project can contact the college’s Center For Community Based Learning at (360) 867-6137.   The tours are set for 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 16.


Restoring wildlife habitat may be just the ticket for volunteers who want to spend the day in outdoors. Three organizations are hosting work parties for volunteers that want to learn about local wildlife, nature and waterways. Volunteers should dress in appropriate gear. Most projects will have light refreshments, but participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch.

Plant A Tree: Stream Team is inviting volunteers of all ages for a tree planting and restoration work party from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Woodland Creek Community Park, located at 6729 Pacific Ave SE in Lacey. Volunteers will be planting native tree and shrub varieties and doing maintenance on previous plantings to restore the riparian zone of an urban creek. The work will help filter water into the creek and crate better environments for wildlife and vegetation. Contact Claire Skelley at to RSVP or visit the Untied Way of Thurston County’s Volunteer Connection website and click on MLK Day of Service.

mlk volunteer

A group of students from South Puget Sound Community College assembles hygiene kits for the YWCA’s Other Bank on Martin Luther King Day in 2012. SPSCC is hosting a Martin Luther King banquet and a “Communities of Color” conference over the MLK Day weekend. Photo credit: Rachel Thomson

Prairie Restoration: The Center for Natural Lands Management is looking for volunteers to help plant native flora around Puget Sound. Organizers say the flora is a good source of food for rare and endangered butterflies. The work party takes place from 9:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m. Visit the United Way of Thurston County’s Volunteer Connections website to register.

River Watershed Planting: The Nisqually Land Trust is looking for volunteers to help support the water, wildlife natural areas and scenic vistas of the Nisqually River Watershed. Volunteers will be planting trees at a site along a channel of the Nisqually River. The event takes place from 9:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m. and participants have the choice of volunteering for three hour shifts from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For directions to the site and to RSVP, contact Cris Peck at or visit the United Way of Thurston County’s Volunteer Connection website.

Other Events

MLK Banquet with Ernest Green: South Puget Sound Community College and the Thurston Group of Washington State are celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a banquet featuring guest speaker Ernest Green. Green is perhaps best known for being part of the “Little Rock Nine.” Green earned his high school diploma from Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. He and eight other black students were the first to integrate Central High, following the 1954 US Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education making it illegal to segregate schools. Read a full story about the Saturday, January 17 event here.  Tickets are $40 per person and are available at,.

Communities of Color Conference: Regional college students are invited for a daylong conference on navigating and understanding intersecting movements, issues and identities within communities of color. The event is free for SPSCC students and $10 for non SPSCC students. The conference takes place from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the SPSCC Student Union Building. To register, contact Eileen Yoshina at 596-5383 or

Muslim Lobby Day: More than 500 Muslims from across Washington State will gather at the Capitol campus for a march and rally at the Capitol steps. They will be meeting in groups to take tours of the Captitol building and talk to lawmakers in their offices. For more information on how to participate, visit

Olympia Peace Choir: The Olympia Peace Choir is a unique grassroots organization that began five years ago as the brainchild of Kerri Lynn Nichols and a group of friends.  The choir meets weekly on Mondays and performs throughout the community.  For their MLK-inspired performance in the Capitol Rotunda on January 17 from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., the Olympia Peace Choir is learning a Turkish Laz work song, “Heyamo.” To learn more, visit their website.

For more activities happening around Olympia, click on our event calendar.

Thee XNTRX “Find Your Shine”

K Records - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 12:43am
The sounds of NW hip hop, brought together by Thee XNTRX. L to R in above photogs: Wildcard, Poeina Suddartha, Ang P. and (pictured below) MG! the Visionary. Their creativity combine on “Find Your Shine”. K Song of the Day: “Find Your Shine” from the NW hip hop compilation album All Your Friend’s Friends[KLP255], produced […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Orca Books Author Reading: Christine Wallace presents her memoir "Prepare to Come About"

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 9:41pm
Event:  Thu, 01/15/2015 - 7:00pm Join us in welcoming Washington author Christine Wallace, who will read from her new memoir "Prepare to Come About".  Christine will share some of her adventures as an award winning CEO and first mate on Zodiac—the largest wooden schooner on the west coast of North America.

This is a free event. It's at Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia.

Prepare to Come About is a gripping memoir written with clarity and honesty--and at times, with humor--about navigating the highs and lows of family, career and love.  Wallace chronicles her wildly successful business that brought her accolades and awards, radio and TV interviews. However, as her professional life skyrockets, her family's lives spiral downward. She unflinching shares tales of teenage children in crisis, family pressures and chaos that illuminate the struggles of many working families. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

This Is Gross & Awesome

Olympia Dumpster Divers - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 8:55pm

From the man who waxed rhapsodic about thrift shops — Mackelmore extolling the joys of trash:

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

More Dredging at the Port

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 2:47pm

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by Robert F. W. Whitlock.
Star Dieppe coming alongside to the Marine Terminal. (video

Star Dieppe
Star Dieppe

Star Dieppe at Anchor in Budd Inlet
Star Dieppe at anchor in Budd Inlet.

Dredging at the Marine Terminal Pier
Dredging operation at Marine Terminal.

January 2015 Dredge logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Urban Forestry Tree Planting Project Underway in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 1:35pm



Submitted by City of Olympia

Olympia Priest Point ParkA Puget SoundCorps team will work with City staff for the month of January to plant 43 new street trees along Harrison Ave, 18th Ave SE and various downtown locations to increase the City’s community canopy and provide more of the benefits that trees bring to our community.

The Puget SoundCorps team will also work with City Parks staff to help eradicate invasive non-native vegetation and clean up storm damage at select parks. The selected City Parks are Lions Park, Grass Lake and Priest Point Park, Percival Landing and Yauger Park. Invasive non-native plants prevent forested areas from providing our community the full benefits and services of healthy forests by competing for water and nutrients, and in some cases even killing trees. Many undesirable plants that grow in dense thickets also harbor rats and other vermin, creating a public safety hazard as well. Once the unwelcome plants are gone, native vegetation will be planted in its place.

The Urban Forestry Restoration Project, administered by the Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) Urban and Community Forestry Program, is an exciting opportunity to enhance the capacity of urban forests to manage storm water and improve air and water quality by improving the health and functionality of trees and forested sites in urban settings.

For more information about the Urban Forestry Restoration Projects, visit the Project online or contact Micki McNaughton at (360) 902-1637 or DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is made possible through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service. Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps program administered by Washington Dept. of Ecology. SoundCorps crews work on projects that help restore and protect water quality in Puget Sound. The Washington Conservation Corps is supported through grant funding and Education Awards provided by AmeriCorps.

The Throwaways: Film Screening and Q&A with Director

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 11:49am
Event:  Sat, 01/24/2015 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm

After screening at film festivals and theaters across the country, award-winning documentary The Throwaways is coming to the Olympia Timberland Library for its PNW premiere.  The film is a personal exploration of the devastating impact of police brutality and mass incarceration on the black community told through the eyes of formerly incarcerated activist filmmaker Ira McKinley. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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