Recent local blog posts

Saint Martin’s, Tacoma Community College, Embark on new Joint Program for Prospective Teachers

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 9:23am



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Student at St. MartinsA new joint partnership between Saint Martin’s University and Tacoma Community College that enables prospective teachers to attend classes in Pierce County is now underway at TCC.

Through the new venture, called the 2+2 Education Program, students who have earned their associate of arts degree at TCC, or at other nearby community colleges or universities, can apply for admission to the Saint Martin’s bachelor of arts degree programs in elementary education or special education. Candidates accepted into the program can then take Saint Martin’s courses for two years to complete their degree, but take the coursework with Saint Martin’s faculty on the TCC campus.

Joyce Westgard, Ed.D., dean of the University’s College of Education and Counseling Psychology, says students move through the new 2+2 program as a cohort, or unit, a model that helps build professional ties and mutual support among its participants. The program is especially advantageous for working students, since courses are scheduled in the late afternoons and evenings, with some on Saturdays. As with other Saint Martin’s programs in education, this one places teacher education students into school classrooms frequently to observe and do fieldwork experiences. Seminars, preparation for Washington’s state assessment for teacher certification (edTPA) and a semester-long teaching internship cap the coursework, she says.

Although only the elementary education and special education endorsements are currently offered, the University is working with TCC to develop and offer an endorsement (an area of teaching expertise) in early childhood education and may add others, based on the needs of students who want to enter the program, she says. Education students must have at least two endorsements to earn a teacher certification from Saint Martin’s.

Westgard says the joint program is unique at Saint Martin’s in that it brings a new opportunity to students interested in teaching in an urban school setting: “Most students at Saint Martin’s main campus in Lacey take teaching internships in suburban or rural settings, but since this program is offered in Tacoma, the students can choose to intern in an urban environment. That opportunity provides an alternative set of knowledge and skills for individuals who want to become ‘urban educators’.”

Westgard says the next 2+2 cohort will begin in June 2015, although potential students may be accepted into the cohort that just began at the end of June, depending on previous preparation and individual situations. Students interested in learning more or applying can contact Sarah McKinney, Saint Martin’s at TCC program manager, (253) 566-5083;


Capital Lakefair Celebrates 57 Years

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 9:06am



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

LakefairGreat eats, carnival fun, a grand parade and amazing fireworks are among the highlights of Capital Lakefair, July 16-20, in downtown Olympia. The Port is proud to be a partner in this exciting community festival.

Great Eats! All the food vendors on Water Street are local non-profit organizations. So when you choose delicious fair food, you help support your community. Lakefair is the biggest fundraiser of the year for some of these groups. Open daily at noon.

Funtastic Carnival! Kids of all ages enjoy carnival games and thrilling rides, from the fast-moving scrambler to the easy-going carousel. On Thursday, July 17, a $35 wristband will give you unlimited rides on that day, plus 2 free games. Open daily at noon.

A Grand Parade! One of the largest parades in the South Sound, Lakefair features around 100 entries including colorful floats and performers from around the Northwest, and representatives of our U.S. Military. Saturday, July 19, 5:00 PM.

Spectacular Fireworks! The Grand Finale Fireworks over Capital Lake are a long-time tradition for community members and visitors alike. Brilliant colors, patterns and special effects promise the ultimate in fireworks entertainment. Sunday, July 20, 10 PM.

There’s more!  Live Music every day, Arts & Crafts on Water Street, Car Show on Friday, Lakefair Run on Saturday, etc. For information:

A (Brief) History of Harlequin Productions

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 8:34am



Submitted by Harlequin Productions

Rock and roll 12th night - harlequinHarlequin Productions is midway through the run of its hit original musical, A Rock’n’Roll Twelfth Night. Looking at the elaborate costumes, the towering set, the full band and cast of more than a dozen singers and dancers, all situated in the beautifully restored State Theater, it might be a surprise that the company was once a small, scrappy, rag-tag group of humble theater folk. What follows is the extraordinary story of how Harlequin grew from having nothing but a dream and a whole lotta passion into the cultural and economic gem it is today.

Our story begins with a group of five people—James L. This, Scot Whitney, Linda Whitney, Phil Annis and Ronna Smith—who got together in 1991 and decided that they wanted to produce a more challenging style of theater. They wrote their mission statement, pooled their start up capital—a whopping $400 cash—and began producing individual shows at the Washington Center Black Box, which seated about 100.

Their first season included two one-acts (Ten Seconds in the Life of Fenwick Green and Letters From Waldo) by fabulous local playwright Bryan Willis, two more one-acts (The Dumb Waiter and Zoo Story) by Pinter and Albee, Talking With, Reckless, and a staged reading of a new play by Nancy Sigafoos. At the end of the first year, Harlequin had produced seven challenging plays and was still in the black, based entirely on single ticket sales and a few modest donations. Season subscriptions were offered for 1992 and 85 die-hard fans signed on.

In its second season (1992) Harlequin took on an enormous (and enormously popular) production of Hamlet staged with an Asian motif on a 20 foot motorized revolve with a cast of 18, original score, and elaborate fights and dance. “Hamlet redefined the direction of the company.” says Harlequin Artistic Director Linda Whitney. “Who cared if shows of that magnitude overtaxed our resources? They were fun! And no matter how we tried to rein people in, everyone involved was chomping at the bit to make the next production a little bit better.” The company also enjoyed a highly successful Christmas production with 1940s Radio Hour.

harlequin productions

The audience gives an enthusiastic standing ovation at a recent Harlequin Productions play. Harlequin plays have long been crowd-pleasers for Olympia audiences.

In year three (1993), the company doubled its subscriber base and sold out a second ’40s Christmas show, The Holiday Broadcast of 1943 by Jim Giancarlo. They also produced another non-traditional Shakespeare production, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, featuring roller skates and a vast jewel-box of a set…on wheels. At the end of year three, Harlequin was paying actors and technicians and was still in the black.

In season four (1994) the company produced the world premiere of a new opera Billy by Tim Brock and Bryan Willis and became the first ever non-equity theater company in America to be permitted to produce Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show. Harlequin also wrote, produced and sold out the first in its series of Stardust holiday shows (A Stardust Christmas) and staged a radical re-imagining of Richard Sharp’s Dracula. The company also had the pleasure of producing two more Bryan Willis plays: Lost Loves & Might Have Beens and The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy. “All of these productions worked to raise the bar for the company and the expectations of the audience.” says Linda Whitney. By this time it was becoming clear that Harlequin Productions was outgrowing its black box space in the Washington Center and would soon need to find a home of its own.

In season five (1995) the organization upset a few people with The Baltimore Waltz, sold out Stardust for Christmas, made the cover of Shakespeare Bulletin, created a major hit with a futuristic Cymbeline, and delighted audiences with She Stoops to Conquer. It was a design spectacle, hilarious, and like most of the other shows of the season, held over for additional performances but forced to close for lack of available dates in the rented space. Harlequin also took its production of Dracula to the Theater on the Square in Tacoma. It was a bigger, fancier venue, but the group missed the intimacy of their usual space.

Searching for a permanent home, Harlequin found the State Theater, which had started its life as one of the finest movie theaters on the west coast. It had fallen on hard times during the cineplexing of America and was chopped into three ill-conceived shoebox theaters. Within a few years it became a neglected dollar movie house and was finally boarded up and abandoned. The State Theater looked so bad by this time that the company members had few hopes. To be frank, it was an eyesore in the heart of downtown Olympia. But the price was reasonable. The owner was willing to sell. And it was in superb structural condition. It just needed paint and TLC. And new electrical. And concessions stand and marquee. And carpet. (The seats were great!) And a stage and dressing rooms and restrooms and lighting and sound equipment and… and… and…. But it had potential.

The Stardust Christmas Blizzard is set in 1957, a departure from the previous productions in the 1940s.

The Stardust Christmas Blizzard is set in 1957, a departure from the previous productions in the 1940s.

In season six (1996), Harlequin produced their third original episode in the Stardust series. Operation Stardust was so popular that they moved the entire production to a local high school for two weeks to accommodate demand. “Competition for dates in the Washington Center made extending impossible. It was clear that Harlequin REALLY needed its own space!” remembers Linda Whitney. They then took on Tom Stoppards’ Arcadia–another huge hit–then mounted their new original musical, Rock’n'Roll Twelfth Night–which sold out two weeks of extension and, again, was forced to close due to prior bookings in the space. It was time. Harlequin Productions made an offer on the State Theater, which was accepted. And so, during RR12N, the company launched their capital campaign to purchase and remodel the State Theater. They had precisely seventeen months to raise $1.3 million and complete the remodel.

During the seventh season, all energies were focused on the capital campaign. The group was too busy to write a fourth Stardust episode, so they produced Seattle Rep’s Inspecting Carol. It was a hilarious hit, but it was already clear that Harlequin had begun a holiday tradition with Stardust, and the audience didn’t want to be let down. The group vowed to bring Stardust back the following year. The rest of the season was equally successful, including a steamy A Streetcar Named Desire and a breathless production of Henry V with eight actors playing 38 roles on and around a “period” pageant wagon.

Seventeen months after beginning the capital campaign, Harlequin opened the doors on the beautifully remodeled State Theater. Suddenly the company had a theater, a mortgage and a staff. Their budget jumped from $150,000 annually to $750,000. Their full-time staff increased from one to eight. To keep up with the bills and the building, they knew they had to increase income, so they planned to expand from a four-show season to a six-show, year-round season, but the first year they panicked and added two additional shows for a total of eight. And these were not small shows, driving all human beings involved to near collapse. The company was also operating their own box office for the first time, and it was trial by fire: brand new software, brand new staff and an avalanche of ticket sales to deal with. The first two years were a scramble to figure out how to run a much different company. Luckily, their strong suit was production, and the vision and quality never flagged, despite the rocky seas behind the scenes.

Harlequin State TheaterSince moving into the State Theater, the company has continued to settle into their new home, while still producing the challenging works the founders dreamed about in the beginning. In season 9 (2000), the company had two productions (The Tempest and Hapgood) selected for permanent collection by the Theater on Film and Tape Archive at the Lincoln Center in NYC. In season 12 (2003), Harlequin produced its first equity show when it staged A Rock’n’Roll Twelfth Night for the third time. During Season 13 (2004), amid the financial demands of owning their own building, the company found themselves on the brink of shutting their doors, only to be saved by an enormous response by the Olympia community. The fact that the community rallied around Harlequin at its time of need was a testament to the community’s appreciation of the arts, its approval of Harlequin Productions, and its vested interest in keeping the company going. To this day, exciting things are happening at Harlequin. Just this last year (season 22), Harlequin blew the roof off the joint with their modern-day staging of Jesus Christ Superstar, and a few months later rolled out their new improv troupe, Something Wicked.

So when you come see Harlequin’s current production, their fourth staging of their hit original musical A Rock’n’Roll Twelfth Night, keep in mind all of the things this renegade group has been through to get to this point. You might find yourself enjoying the show even more.

Tickets and info available at or by calling 360/786-0151

Scoops of Jupiter: Entrepreneurial Students Create a Summer Business

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 5:43am



By Morgan Willie

Edward Jones Block AdToday’s job market can be difficult to cut into. Plenty of college students have a hard time finding jobs for the summer, and the ones who’ve found jobs must sacrifice part of their break to work for someone else’s business. However, Olympia residents Emily Wakefield and Joe Jupiter have found a solution to this matter.

After browsing for local work and finding no luck, Wakefield and Jupiter decided to start their own business – an ice cream truck. They looked on, found an old Jeep for $3400, pooled their resources and secured a business license online. Scoops of Jupiter was born.

olympia ice cream truck

Emily Wakefield and Joe Jupiter created their own summer employment.

The couple has been doing well so far, and they hope to continue sales for the rest of the summer before returning to the University of Portland.

“We’ve broke even a while ago,” Wakefield said. “I think it’s a good job to do because we get to choose when we work and make our own business plan. We’re in charge.”

But, the path to starting their ice cream business was a rocky road.

“It was difficult,” Jupiter said.

“We thought it was going to be a lot easier than it actually was,” Wakefield added. “Since we’re not working for anyone, we had to get all the licensing and handle the Jeep. Finding a truck was a big thing.”

And even after the couple found their dream Jeep, they were thrown a little curveball. When they brought it to the DOL, Wakefield and Jupiter were charged an extra $400.

“We were amazed because you have to pay sales tax if you buy a vehicle online. We were pretty surprised about that. We forgot about that,” Wakefield noted.

This misfortune didn’t discourage Wakefield and Jupiter for a moment. They paid the money and moved on. They realized the benefits of working for themselves would outweigh anything else.

olympia ice cream truck

The couple’s business was started for under $4,000 and has already broken even.

“I’m a business major, so it might help me in college if I tell my professors that I had my own small business,” Jupiter noted. “And, I assume that if I start another business that it’ll be a little bit easier next time because I’ve done it once already. Just having the experience is good.”

Their efforts have gotten them plenty of attention among friends and the community, too.

“We’ve gotten lots of compliments on how we’re cute ice cream people,” Wakefield commented. “When our friends found out about the truck they didn’t believe it at first! They said, ‘Wait, you actually have one? That’s so cool! I want to be your first customer.’ They were kind of jealous.”

Now, the couple has a set route around their neighborhoods, but they are always on the hunt for new places with hungry customers. If you don’t have an ice cream truck in your neighborhood, you can post to the Scoops of Jupiter Facebook page and request that Wakefield and Jupiter stop by.  You won’t be dissatisfied with their sweet smiles and frozen treats!


Thurston County Residents Reminded of Summer Safety as Heat Wave Approaches

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 2:09pm



Submitted by Thurston County

Summer heat is about to take hold in the Puget Sound region, and Thurston County’s emergency services staff are reminding residents that a few simple tips can help you beat the heat and stay safe, too.


  • Keep a cool head and remember the basics: drink plenty of fluids; avoid the sun and stay in the shade; use sunscreen even if you’re outside for only a few minutes.
  • Find cooler air in public places. Shopping centers, movie theaters, libraries and community centers are typically air conditioned, so go out, have fun and find some cooler air.
  • Take it easy and avoid heatstroke. Don’t over-exert yourself with heavy duty yard work or strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • NEVER leave children or pets in a hot car.
  •  Keep pets cool, too. Check on your outdoor pets frequently and make sure they have shelter from the sun and plenty of water.
  •  The heat can be hard on the young and the elderly. Check on relatives and neighbors who may be more sensitive to hot weather—young children, infants, seniors and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk during extreme hot weather.

For additional safety tips on how to beat the heat, download the Thurston County Medic One pamphlet at



A day at the beach or on the lake is a great way to beat the holiday heat, and following some simple water safety tips can keep your fun in the sun from taking a tragic turn.

  • Life jackets save lives! The best way for kids and adults to stay safe when swimming, boating or floating is to wear a life jacket that fits you well.
  • The air may be hot, but the water is still cold. Many rivers and lakes in western Washington are fed by snow melt and glaciers, and the average water temperature for Puget Sound is only about 60 degrees. Stay close to shore and rest if you are cold or tired.
  • Always swim with a buddy, and swim where there are lifeguards when possible. Let friends and family know where you plan to swim and when you expect to return home.
  • Swimming in open water is harder than in a pool, and even strong swimmers will tire faster and get into trouble more quickly. Stay close to shore where rescuers can easily reach you in an emergency.
  • Rivers, lakes and beaches have hidden hazards. Watch out for sudden drop-offs, riptides and currents, rocks, logs and snags that are hidden underwater.
  • Know the basics and know your limits. Stay sober, learn CPR and always take a cell phone with GPS.

Do you need a life jacket before you hit the water? Safe Kids Thurston County has a life jacket loaner program, where you can borrow life jackets at no cost. The life jacket loaner program has life jackets in every size, from infant to adult, available at Kenneydell Park, Pioneer Park, Millersylvania State Park, Clear Lake, Summit Lake, Lawrence Lake and Offutt Lake Resort. Visit for more information on the life jacket loaner program and other child safety information.

As temperatures climb this weekend, keeps tabs on weather conditions and hot weather tips and information with the Thurston County Emergency Management Division web pages at If temperatures rise to the mid-90s or higher, additional tips and possible cooling center information will be posted on the Emergency Management Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Stay connected with TCEM with social media. Get Thurston County Emergency Management updates on Facebook and Twitter:

  • Facebook: ThurstonEM
  • Twitter: @ThurstonEM


Local Groups Can Apply for Historic Preservation Grants

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 8:29am



Submitted by Thurston County

Bigelow House, 1866

Bigelow House, 1866

Historic preservation organizations in Thurston County have an opportunity to apply for grants from the county.  The application period for the 2015 Thurston County Heritage Grant Program runs from July 15 – August 31, 2014.  The Thurston County Historic Commission grant sub-committee will review and rank the applications in September.

The Historic Preservation Grant program is funded by revenues that the County collects from the recording of documents.  By state law, these funds can only be used for programs and projects related to historic preservation.  In addition to funding the grant program, the Board of Thurston County Commissioners has also authorized up to $10,000 annually for projects managed by the County Historic Commission.  These funds are typically used for the creation of historic markers in the county and to help support efforts such as the historic barn documentation project.

Last year, 9 complete grant applications were received and ranked by the Commission for 2014 funding.  On January 7 of this year, County Commissioners approved funding for all 9 applications for a total of $40,914.  Past grant supported projects include:  Installation of interpretive signage along historic street corridors in downtown Olympia, Painting of historic Gate Schoolhouse, State Capitol Museum traveling panel exhibit highlighting folk artists in Washington State, Interpretative signage at the Bigelow House, and other historic projects within Thurston County.

The application form and guidelines have been updated and are available on the Thurston County web site at: Once all the applications have been received, they will be reviewed by a sub-committee and then the entire Thurston County Historic Commission.  Thurston County Commissioners will award the grants early in 2015.

Those with questions can call Cami Petersen, Administrative Assistant, Resource Stewardship Department, 360-754-3355 ext. 6348.


Benjamin Entner’s “Mining the Ego” at SPSCC

South Sound Arts - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 7:44am

The Weekly Volcano, July 6, 2014

This must be seen.
New York artist Benjamin Enterner’s installation “Ego Sum” from the Contemporary Arts Center in Las Vegas has now traveled to Olympia and can be seen at the gallery at South Puget Sound Community College. This new version of the show is called “Mining the Ego,” and like his installation in Las Vegas, it fills the gallery with monstrous figures drawn with black markers on blow-up vinyl sculptures that overwhelm the gallery space.
Entner draws himself in less-than-idealized and unflattering  poses similar to those of classical Greco-Roman and Renaissance sculpture, creating an “awkward dialogue between his contemporary parodies and the historical works … that questions and challenges perspectives of beauty, proportion, and the idealized man.”
There is a kitsch-pop element to these soft sculptures, but also something deadly serious; they are like the love child of sculptures by Jeff Koons and etchings by Albrecht Dürer. The centerpiece of the show is a self-portrait with the subject lying on his side. His head is near the entrance to the gallery and his feet almost touch the back wall, and the girth of the figure reaches almost floor to ceiling. The drawing is semi-realistic with dense crosshatch shading. All of his figures are distorted in a funhouse mirror sort of way, not so much because of the way they are drawn but because the blowup vinyl forms they are drawn upon bend and twist in odd ways. Bodies twist and turn, and arms and legs taper off and swell up. Hands and feet tend to be larger than is realistic, and it is hard to tell if they were actually drawn that way or not. The viewer has to walk around this figure, and from no single point of view can it be seen head-to-toe. Parts of the figure go over the hill of itself and vanish from sight.
From the front of the large centerpiece figure, called “Colossus,”  we see Entner’s face, bearded and with glasses, facing the viewer. When the viewer walks around to see him from the backside, his face is still facing the viewer turned to look over one shoulder in a realistic way but appearing at first glance like Linda Blair’s spinning head in “he Exorcist.”
Near the entrance is a larger-than-life bust of Entner on a Roman style pedestal. Near it is another full figure, about life size, standing by a ladder and juggling a smaller version of himself. There’s another smaller one that is like one of those kids’ punching bags that you hit and it falls down and pops back up. And then there’s one with Entner in an identical pose as Michelangelo’s “David.” But he is not as beautiful as David. He has an average body covered with prickly black hair.
This is a fascinating show that absolutely must be seen. Even people who care nothing for art will be blown away by it, and people who know something of art history will be intrigued by his inventiveness, skill and art-historical references.
South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. and by appointment, through Aug. 22, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

National Rebuilding Day 2014 Brings the Community Together, Helping Each Other

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 7:20am



Submitted by Rebuilding Together Thurston County

National Rebuilding Day CrewSee all those people?  They are your neighbors!  They are just some of the folks who spent a recent Saturday working on the maintenance needs of some very special homeowners in Thurston County.  As part of Rebuilding Day 2014 there were over 150 volunteers who worked on the homes of nine individuals and families – all of whom were incredibly grateful.  It was a fabulous day and the rain held off just long enough to complete all the necessary repairs – whew!

With morning pastries provided by Momma Bear’s Bakery in Yelm, and a welcome from each of the House Captains, the six different work groups set about getting their chores checked off the proverbial list:  power wash driveways, decks and patios; pull weeds, cut back overgrown bushes and rambling ivy, plant new flowers, spread mulch, and water; replace windows that let in lots of cold air and water; clean out and repair gutters; install grab bars; repair drippy faucets; install new doors; paint; and lots more.

Eight of the projects were located in Lacey (including a mobile home park where four homeowners received services), so we were delighted to have a visit from Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt from the Lacey City Council.

Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet and a homeowner on National Rebuildling Day.

Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet and a homeowner on National Rebuildling Day.

She toured several of the projects, met with the homeowners and came away impressed with the work of so many volunteers and donors.  Mayor Pete Kmet of Tumwater rolled up his sleeves to work with the volunteers at Cheryl’s home.  Though she has an Olympia address, her home is closer to services in Tumwater, so it was particularly noteworthy that he was so generous with his time with RTTC that day.  Thanks to Ms. Pratt and Mr. Kmet, both of whom are clearly interested in the efforts of their citizenry to make their towns and homes healthier and safer.

Olympia Federal Savings (and their significant financial support), United Roofing (and their 12 roofers!), the very capable services of Hometown Property Management, and Lacey Gateway Rotary members (and their strong backs) were the movers and shakers behind the biggest project this year: Shirley’s home.  After her husband died three years ago, this 76 year old lady lost interest in most everything and didn’t have the ability to take care of much of it in any event.

With the assistance of about 45 volunteers, her home was transformed and in the end was a stunning example of how much good can be done in a day!  With a completely new roof, numerous smaller projects completed around the home and extensive landscape maintenance, her home is in a truly beautiful setting; and most importantly she feels like it’s something that she can maintain now that it is all under control.

Special thanks go to Western Cedar Supply/PABCO for the roof supplies, to Ken Kirkland for his House Captain leadership, and to Dirty Dave’s for a terrific lunch. Susan, a 70 year old woman now living alone, received services from the Lacey Presbyterian Church (a team of about 32 men and women who have been with us on Rebuilding Day for several years now; thank you, volunteers, and to the Church for their continued financial support of RTTC!).  Big thanks also go to Rob Hodgeman, the House Captain, and to Subway for the donated box lunches that kept the volunteers going through the afternoon.

Cathy Johnson, owner of Dandelion Gardens, sprucing up old planters on National Rebuilding Day.

Cathy Johnson, owner of Dandelion Gardens, sprucing up old planters on National Rebuilding Day.

The project at Crestwood Park in Lacey had an energetic crew from the YouthBuild Construction Trades program (New Market Skills Center in Tumwater) who teamed with an equally hard working larger group from KAYO/KGY Radio.  This was definitely a case of age and experience, mixed with eagerness and wonder – surely the best of all combinations!  All three homeowners (Curt, Vietnam vet; Drema, a 71 year old lady living alone; and Ivan, who is disabled) were all absolutely thrilled with the work done on their homes and the differences were significant!  The team of volunteers also replaced the security bollards at the entrance of the park that were taken out in a car accident earlier this year.  Coordinating all these efforts was the Sater family (Lane, Tonya and all five of their children, each of whom contributed to the successes of the day).  In addition, T & S Cleaning (Ted and Shirley were both there); Chris from Gillaspie’s Tree Service; and Casa Mia and their pizzas all contributed to a job well done.  And since then, we’ve received calls from others in the park who would like assistance.

Failing windows can cause lots of angst for any homeowner, but imagine if you did not have the funds to do anything about it.  That was the position 67 year old Cheryl was in, so with the enthusiasm of HomeStreet Bank employee Chris Hutchison and the major financial backing of the same institution, along with the construction skills of Nick Bevans (Bevans Construction) and John Hays (Puget Construction), she was the very happy recipient of five (yep, 5!) new windows!  In addition, Mayor Kmet was a member of this crew and Pizza Hut donated lunch for everyone.

And finally there were the Robyn and Cameo projects.  Both are relatively young women (Robyn with certain disabilities and Cameo a single mom with three kids) with leaking, safety, and security repairs – important to address to keep the homes in good and safe condition as both intend to live in their homes for years to come.  Lowe’s on Martin Way in Olympia was not only instrumental in providing work crews for both projects but also provided the expertise of James Powers (Assistant Manager of Lowe’s on Martin Way) as the House Captain for both projects.  Subway and Jimmy John’s provided lunches for participants.

In addition to all these outstanding companies and volunteers, there were several more who absolutely need recognition for their contributions, which were Rebuilding Together Groupconnected to more than one project:  Cathy Johnson of Dandelion Gardens worked on two projects and was instrumental in the coordination and design of both projects;  Mary Carskadon and Jackie Ashley enhanced everyone’s lunches by providing cookies and chips to each site; Cutter’s Point Coffee provided warming coffee for several of the sites; and Rob’s Excavation and NW Cascade provided port-a-potties for each work site.

And where would we be without Lowe’s on Martin Way in Olympia? Not in the position we’re in, that’s for sure.  They’ve been working with us for months to make sure that all materials we needed were pulled and delivered at exactly the right time; that all their employees were trained in how to deal with us and the coordination of materials; and their financial support has been huge.

Here’s a huge THANK YOU to our Executive Director, Raechel Kilcup, for all of her hard work and dedication to coordinating all of these projects as well as to all volunteers and participants who made Rebuilding Day 2014 the success that it was!

Altogether, we served 32 homes in our county during the month of April, utilized over 400 volunteers, and for every $1 donated we were able to turn it into $13 of service to these homeowners. Typically, $1 is turned into $4.  We are extremely proud of the work done and thankful for the support of our community.


10 Free Ways to Cool Off in Olympia (+1 that Costs $1)

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 6:43am




alley oop gymnasticsHot!  That’s the weather forecast for the next five days at least.  Olympia residents aren’t accustomed to 90+ degree weather and it can sometimes feel sweltering.  How do you cool off around Olympia without spending a dime?

Here are 10 ideas to keep your cool during these hot weather days.

  • Visit your local branch of the Timberland Regional Library.  You know the library is a great stop when the months of rain get you down.  Try a library visit for hot days too.  Perhaps you can even find a book about polar bears, ice cream, and ice caps.  Get more details here.
  • Jump into the Heritage Park fountain.  Check hours here.
  • Take a power walk inside the Capital Mall.  Play “I Spy” with the kids to keep them engaged while you circle.  Bonus if you wear a pedometer and log some serious miles.
  • Skip around East Bay Public Plaza.  Cool off in the stream.  Come early to get under one of the umbrellas.
  • Step next door to the LOTT Wet Science Center.  Bask in the air conditioning while getting some valuable information about preserving our precious water.
  • Swim at a local beach.  Information on six beaches can be found in this article.
  • Dip your toes at Long Lake Park.  Learn more about this summertime destination here.  Find more swimming holes here.
  • Find shade under the playground equipment at a local park.
  • Take a hike.  Get under the cool shade of massive trees.  Try Staircase in the Olympic National Park or a local nature trail.
  • Stay inside during the day and venture out at night for a free outdoor movie at Huntamer Park.  Find the schedule here.

Bonus: If you have $1 in your wallet, take in a family-friendly movie on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Get all the details on $1 summer movies here.

Want more free ideas?  Find our bucket list of 25 free things to do with kids this summer here.

Did we miss your favorite way to stay cool?  Drop us a note at


Picturesque Picnic Places in Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 6:04am



By Lisa Herrick

all star ford sponsorFew things are more enjoyable and easier than a summer picnic-especially when natural beauty surrounds us in Thurston County. Whether headed out to a local park with kids, a romantic excursion by the water, or mid-week break with work buddies the picnicking options are plentiful.

Simply grab your picnic basket and enjoy one of summer’s best activities.


Priest Point Park

priest point park

The best of summer-watermelon and a great family picnic spot at Priest Point Park.

A quintessential Olympia picnic locale, Priest Point Park offers a combination of nature trails, views of downtown Olympia and the State Capitol building, plus access to Budd Inlet on the Puget Sound.  Just one mile from downtown Olympia on East Bay Drive, Ellis Cove is nestled within the 314-acre regional nature park. The Ellis Cove Trail winds through old trees to the beach. Picnic tables and shelters can be found throughout the park with several adjacent to the pirate ship themed playground on a springy rubber surface and the lush rose gardens on the east side of the park.

Located at 2600 East Bay Drive NE in Olympia.


Percival Landing Park

One of Olympia’s downtown waterfront parks, Percival Landing is a popular go-to picnic spot for both locals and tourists. Located in downtown Olympia on the southern most tip of the Puget Sound, the park stretches along a one mile boardwalk beside wooden docks and boats in the water, marine birds resting upon the shoreline, art sculptures, a grassy field and an expansiveplay structure for children. This scenic and easily accessible park is perfect for a waterfront outing and meal.

Located at 405 Columbia Street NW in Olympia.


tumwater falls park

Kids delight in the gentle spray of water from Tumwater Falls after enjoying a picnic in the park.

Tumwater Falls and Historical Park

Tumwater Falls Park is 15 acres that runs next to the Deschutes River. A walking path leads you by the several falls including the Upper Falls, Middle Falls and the main Tumwater Falls all of which are breathtaking. You can cross two bridges that span the river for amazing picture taking opportunities.  Plus the bordering Tumwater Historical Park reveals some of the area’s past as the historic Olympia Brewery frames the park and tells a story of a bygone era and the site is recognized as the first American settlement on Puget Sound where the settlers used the river to power their mills.

Located at 110 Deschutes Parkway SW in Tumwater.


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a great park for a family day or just an adventure for two. Pack a picnic, bring your binoculars or borrow a pair from the visitor center, and head out for your stroll throughout the refuge. There are several hiking options in the refuge, but the most exciting is the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail as it leads to an observation platform. Find a bench along the trail to listen for the sounds of the birds and animals while enjoying your picnic or find a table near the Twin Barns.

Located at 100 Brown Farm Road NE north of Olympia.


huntamer park

Huntamer Park is the site for many family friendly outdoor events throughout the summer.

Huntamer Park

In the heart of Lacey and the hub of the city’s events, Huntamer Park is a great location for families to meet up in the middle of the day for a picnic. This downtown Lacey park is the site of numerous outdoor events throughout the summer. The kids can run around and play on the climbing rocks. If timed right, you can picnic and catch one of the many summer performances on the stage. Just set out a blanket and unpack the fixin’s!

Located at 618 Woodland Square Loop SE in Lacey (Corner of Woodland Square Loop and 7th Avenue SE)


Find more stories about Olympia area parks and beaches by clicking here.

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 5:53am



Wow!  If you haven’t looked at the five day forecast yourself, then I’m certain that someone has told you about the 90+ degree weather that we have in our future.  We don’t get many weekends like this in Olympia.  Take advantage of the sunshine and try a new outdoor activity.  Our Activities section is packed with family-friendly things to do around town.

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, click here.


Dr. Murray Smith’s Top 10 Reasons for Lower Back Pain (and How to Prevent It)

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 2:03pm



By Kate Scriven

Dr. Murray Smith at Eastside Chiropractic enjoying his favorite past-time - fishing.

Eastside Chiropractic’s Dr. Murray Smith enjoying his favorite past-time – fishing.

Dr. Murray Smith has seen a lot of patients in his nearly 25 years serving Thurston County patients as an experienced chiropractor.  His practice, Eastside Chiropractic, has grown over the years to include experienced massage therapists, a licensed nutritionist, and most recently, another chiropractor to meet all his patient’s needs.

With this longevity comes a lifetime of knowledge about what most often lands patients in his office.  The number one complaint by far is lower back pain.  Through the years he’s seen nearly every reason for back pain and here shares his “Top 10” reasons from his patients.  Or, as Dr. Smith, with his quick wit and terrific sense of humor states, “The Top 10 Things that Keep Murray in Business!”

While Dr. Smith may crack a joke about these common areas of patient discomfort, he’s very serious about his commitment to helping patients heal, educating them about how to stay healthy, and ultimately away from the chiropractor’s office.

Dr. Smith’s Top 10 Reasons for Patient Pain

  1. Don’t Work Out – Yep, it’s as simple as that.  If you don’t move your body, keeping your muscles in shape and your joints mobile, you’ll usually end up with pain.  Dr. Smith isn’t askingpatients to run marathons, just to include a regular routine of moderate physical activity in their daily lives.

    Guerilla Running Capital Lake

    Regular exercise helps tone core muscles, supporting the lower back.

  2. Lift Heavy Object Incorrectly – Helping your neighbor move?  Decided you could remove that old washing machine on your own?  Chances are the results include pain in the lower back with potentially lasting effects.  Learn to lift correctly.  Eastside Chiro’s patient care includes functional training on how to maneuver daily activities without injury.
  3. Own a Trampoline – Yes, it is fun.  It’s also a major cause of accidents and pain for many people that come through Eastside Chiro.  Think twice about your fitness level before taking a turn on the trampoline at the next backyard BBQ and maybe leave it to the kids.
  4. Go Snowboarding –Smith knows well that the fixed footed position of snowboarders causes a myriad of issues for those attempting the sport without proper training  and conditioning.  Know your limits before diving into a sport that may result in a longer relationship with Dr. Smith than you were planning.
  5. Ride a Quad – Again, it’s pretty fun.  But also pretty dangerous.  If you choose to ride an off-road vehicle do so safely.  Wear protective gear, don’t take unnecessary risks, drive sober, and ultimately, know your physical fitness level.  Without good core strength and tone for spinal support, a quad can do a real number on the lower back.

    gardening photos 004

    Be cautious of over-doing on the weekends, causing increased back pain.

  6. Have a Garden – I’m pretty sure that Dr. Smith wouldn’t say having a garden is bad for your health.  However, he sees the effects of weekendwarrior-style gardening.  Again, know your limitations.  Use physical aids (weeding stools, power tools, strong friends!) to assist when heavy jobs are athand.  Take on smaller chunks of work and don’t put in a 12 hour day in the yard when you’ve spent most of the winter tending the remote control.
  7. Overindulge in Alcohol – When the summer months of BBQs, boating and fun in the sun ramp up, so do the instances of alcohol related pain.  The lowered inhibitions after a few drinks may make you try risky behaviors you may not normally attempt.  Riding quads and jumping on trampolines often go hand in hand here.  Be cautious, be smart.
  8. Get older – Sadly none of us can avoid this one.  Age is an inevitable and common cause of increased pain and discomfort in our joints and spine.  While we cannot slow time, we can help mitigate its effects by staying active, drinking plenty of water, getting good rest.

    eastside chiro

    Eastside Chiropractic includes nutritional counseling services.

  9. Sleep on an Old Mattress or the Couch – We spend a large portion of each 24-hour period in our beds, resting and restoring our body for the next day’s activities.  If that sleep is compromised by a poor mattress, or worse a couch, it can seriously impact the amount of pain during waking hours.  Assess your bed.  Does it sag?  Is it more than 10 years old?  Doyou have difficulty finding a comfortable position?  Might be time for an upgrade.
  10. Gain Weight – No one would say that gaining weight is a daily goal, however many of the choices we make each day add unwanted pounds.  Choosing healthy foods, walking instead of driving, drinking water instead of sugary drinks, and getting away from the screen are all daily choices keeping weight down.  Our spines were not designed to carry excessive weight and each pound over your optimum weight adds stress, resulting in pain.

Dr. Smith wants all his patients to be pain free.  And while he may joke about these 10 things that will keep patients coming through the door, his primary focus is to educate each one about how to stay far away from the Chiropractor’s office.

Back pain is avoidable.  Stay active, keeping your weight down and muscle tone up is the key for most people.  Increase flexibility with daily stretching.  Know your limits, avoiding activities that will cause pain.  It’s a simple prescription, but a proven one for a healthy life.




Saint Martin’s University Welcomes Back Genevieve Canceko Chan as Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:46pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Genevieve Canceko ChanSaint Martin’s University welcomes back Genevieve Canceko Chan as its vice president of marketing and communications. Chan, who served in that role from 2009 to 2010, replaces Jennifer Fellinger, who recently accepted a position in another state.

“We’re excited to have Genevieve return to the Saint Martin’s community,” says Saint Martin’s University President Roy Heynderickx. “Her expertise in marketing, communications and social media will help propel Saint Martin’s to the next level – we know this from the superior quality of her work and her great attention to detail.”

As vice president, Chan will be in a pivotal role at the University, where she will serve as the University’s chief spokesperson and provide leadership and direction for all marketing and communication initiatives for Saint Martin’s. Chan will report directly to President Heynderickx.

Chan looks forward to reconnecting with the many members of the Saint Martin’s community and to growing the university’s visibility by sharing the stories of its students, alumni, faculty and staff.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to once again be a part of the inspiring, mission-driven environment that is Saint Martin’s,” says Chan. “I am eager to continue the exciting momentum that the University has built in recent years and to strengthen our role as an important resource for education and innovation in the greater South Sound area.”

A communications professional for more than 15 years, Chan brings a wide range of experience in strategic planning, academic publishing, marketing and public relations. She has worked primarily for nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions, including the American Bar Association, Beacon Press, Dartmouth College and, most recently, Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum.

She is a member of the Leadership Thurston County Program class of 2009-10 and the Flagstaff Leadership Program class of 2011-12. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and her master’s degree from the University of Michigan.

Chan resides in nearby Olympia with her husband and young son.

Port Commission Will Consider Marine Terminal Master Plan And Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:32pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Port OverviewThe Port Commission’s July 14agenda includes an advisory on the proposed Marine Terminal Master Plan and a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for each of the Port districts, beginning with the Marine Terminal District. Commission action on this item is anticipated for the August 11 meeting.

Also on the agenda is the Commission’s consideration of bids to construct Warehouse B. The Commission could go forward with warehouse construction or potentially reject all bids.

The Port’s SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) determination and the City of Olympia’s land use approval decision on Warehouse B are final and not subject to further review or challenge. However, the Port’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) dates back to 1994. While the FEIS’s underlying assumptions and analyses of the general land uses of Port properties are valid, the age of the FEIS and its many revisions and addenda to support current planning over the years make it unwieldy in terms of analysis and implementation.

If approved by the Commission at its August 11 meeting, the Marine Terminal Master Plan and SEIS project is anticipated to take 18 to 24 months to complete, exclusive of any appeals. This timeline includes preparing the Request for Qualifications, solicitation and award of contracts, preparation of the draft and final SEIS documents, and public comment.

The Marine Terminal Master Plan would not be effective until the Commission adopts it as part of the Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements and Capital Budget. Both include public process.

The Marine Terminal’s SEIS—and the SEIS for each Port district—would thoroughly assess and document the environmental impacts of planned future re-design or expansion projects. The Port would use each district’s SEIS to provide SEPA review for the district’s elements of the Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements and Budget adoption for those elements.

The SEIS process essentially follows standard Environmental Impact Statement procedures. Issuance of the SEIS and any associated appeal process are governed by the SEPA statute, implementing SEPA regulations, and the Port’s adopted SEPA Policy Resolution that is then in effect. The Port Commission is currently considering revisions to its SEPA Policy Resolution.

The public is invited to the Commission meeting on Monday, July 14, 5:30 PM, at the Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia 98501.

Calling All Open Class Baking, Beverages and Preserves

Thurston Talk - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:28pm



Submitted by The Thurston County Fair

Open class food entries due before fair opens July 30

This year’s Thurston County Fair has baking, canning, brewing and bee-keeping for the whole herd! But you’ll have to hurry—entries for many of this year’s open class food contests are due during the week before the fair opens on Wednesday, July 30:
  • Open Class Baking: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 28 — Enter your favorite yeast or quick breads, cakes, cookies, candies, or pies. Remember to also enter the daily baking contests listed below and get free admission with your tasty baked treats.
  • Open Class Beverages: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 21 — Ales, beers, ciders and wines are all welcome in the beverage contests. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.
  • Open Class Preserved Foods: 3-7 p.m. on Monday July 21 and Monday, July 28 — Enter your canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, sauces, jams and jellies, vinegars, meats, and dehydrated foods, plus many more preserved foods. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.
  • Open Class Honey: 3-7 p.m. on Monday, July 28 ONLY — From Water White to Dark Amber and everything in between, test your cache of golden honey against the best in the South Sound in the open class honey contests. Honey entries will not be accepted with other preserved food entries on July 21.
All open class food entries are submitted at Heritage Hall at the county fairgrounds. For all the best bakers with flour to spare, be sure to enter the Dessert of the Day contests during fair week. Bakers who present their Dessert of the Day entry at the gate get free admission to the fair for the day!
  • Thursday, July 31—Chocolate Cake Contest
  • Friday, August 1—Cookie Contest
  • Saturday, August 2—“Berry Best Pie” Contest sponsored by Spooner’s Berry Farms
  • Sunday, August 3—Cupcake Contest
All of the information and details you need to compete in open class food contests and hundreds of other open class and club contests are included in the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide. The guide also includes information on entry forms, camping, and this year’s calendar of events from July 30 through August 3. Download the complete 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide at For more information on the 2014 Thurston County Fair Exhibitor’s Guide, contest entry forms or other fair activities, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit    “Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!”  July 30 – Aug. 3

Where would've been a better place to put Evergreen?

Olympia Time - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 10:28am
@jeff_james is always on my back about Olympia. It isn't a college town, he says. It doesn't have the normal trappings of the Midwest college towns that he was used to. Somehow it always comes down to college bars, but I think that's just what I remember.

Ken also points this out, that the relationship between Evergreen and Olympia is different:

Nicandri said there’s a lack of things for students to do on the college campus, and its physical isolation causes even more problems.   “There’s no place for a student to buy an aspirin or visit a laundromat or buy other needed items without leaving the campus,” he said.

While touting the great academic component of the college, Nicandri said its time to re-look at the campus and perhaps allow some commercial activities.   This has to be coupled with renovating the existing dorms and constructing additional housing facilities.

“Perhaps its time to talk about requiring students to live on campus,” he said.Evergreen and Olympia are inseparable, but the reality of their actual physical distance (and irony that people need to be able to drive to campus) has some real impacts. If you are a student with a job or even a family life, its easier to live off campus than on. The cultural mix between the campus community and town is stilted.

Sure, people can point to things we have here (OFS, general art community) that we can credit to the college and its alumni. But, you'd have to admit that these institutions would be stronger and more diverse if the campus was closer (or actually in) town.

Which begs the question, how would the founders of the school, in 1968, found a place closer to Olympia? It isn't like Evergreen is the University of Washington. The UW was founded in the 1800s, and the city and the school literally grew together over time. Now, the school is firmly integrated into the city's geography, but it took decades for that to happen.

What choices did the school founders have in the 1960s to get closer. Turns out, they had at least one great choice, not far from the current campus.

The site where the Olympia Auto Mall, the South Puget Sound Community College and Mottman Industrial Park was nearly empty in the late 1960s (image from Earth Explorer):
Not only was the site empty (seemingly available) it was also connected to a portion of Olympia that was already developed, granted it was a sleepy residential neighborhood at the time. But, in the decade soon after the founding of Evergreen, the westside of Olympia exploded with commercial and residential growth. Other parts of town I looked at included the general Southeast (less open space, more houses) and Northeast (same). But, I'm curious about other parts of town. Would it have been possible to do Evergreen NYU style? Build a handful of reasonable office buildings downtown? Maybe the emptying of downtown happened 10 years too late for that to work out, but it would've been interesting. Anyway, food for thought.

Jessica Dana Still Chasing Her Dream Of Racing NASCAR

Thurston Talk - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 1:05pm



By Gail Wood

les schwabShe’s become a familiar scene at South Sound Speedway, racing her late-model white Chevy Impala with No. 12 in black on the car door.

Jessica Dana is the gusty, step-on-it race car driver chasing a dream – she wants to become NASCAR’s next Danica Patrick. Four years ago, at just 15, Dana, barely big enough to see over the dash, first started racing at the tracks, topping 90 mph speeding around Tenino’s South South track.

Two years ago, a TV production crew was talking to the Dana family about doing a reality-documentary type program about her racing. And a national sponsor was showing interest in jumping on the Dana dream train, sponsoring her and covering the costs of car repair, travel and expenses.

jessica dana

Jessica Dana’s racing career began with quads when she was eight.

“We had a ton of momentum,” said Troy Dana, Jessica’s dad, her biggest fan and her crew chief.

Owners of the South Sound Speedway told Troy his daughter was the fastest among the limited late models racing at the track. But the reality show fizzled and the national sponsor never signed. And Jessica, at the ripe age of 19, is finding that good fortune can be fickle.

“I’m learning there’s always up and downs in racing,” Troy said. “We’ve experienced both this year.”

First came the good – a ninth place finish at Wenatchee in April. Then came the bad – a wreck last month at Evergreen Speedway that totaled her car. On the first lap of a qualifying race, Jessica got side swiped as she was moving up two cars, spinning her car completely around and facing the wrong way. Another car then hit her head on, damaging the car but fortunately not hurting her.

“The front of the car got pretty messed up,” Jessica said. “But it could have been much worse.”

Troy talks about his daughter’s journey as a race car driver in “And She Thinks We’re Just Racing,” a book written from a father’s perspective. The impetus of her NASCAR dream began in a two-month period in early 2010. Jessica, then a sophomore at Tumwater High School, beat two racing legends – Travis Pastrana and Jeff Gordon – in charity go-kart races.

Making those wins even more impressive is that she had been racing go-karts for just a couple of months. Then, keeping to her full-speed ahead approach to chasing her NASCAR dream, Jessica again did the unexpected. Just a year and a half after beating Gordon in a go-kart race, she raced in the Miller 200 at South Sound Speedway. In her first race, Jessica, reaching speeds of over 95 mph, finished 11th in a field of 25 cars in the late-model stock car division. She became the youngest female ever to enter that Miller 200.

Jessica, who graduated from Tumwater High School last year and will begin classes at South Puget Sound Community College in the fall, has always had an infatuation with going fast. When she was 4, Jessica, much to her mother’s disdain, began riding quads. By the time she was 8, she was racing them.

But even though Jessica has always had this penchant for speed, her dad was never the one coaxing her to race, pushing her because that’s something he wanted.

“This has been Jessica’s dream,” Troy said. “I’m there to support her. The minute she says ‘Dad I’m scared’ or the minute she says ‘Dad I’m done,’ I’m good with it. You’ll see a for sale sign on some race cars real fast.”

Jessica’s dream is still to become a NASCAR driver. But she knows the clock is ticking.

“Oh yeah, I’m still working on it,” she said. “I’ll be at the ripe old age of 20 in December.”

There is a time limit to when the NASCAR extends the invitation to join the circuit.

jessica dana

Jessica Dana is still hoping to race in NASCAR.

“We don’t say there’s a cutoff line, but what we’ve noticed is that they pick up the new up and comer drivers at 18, right when they get out of high school,” said Jessica, who graduated from Tumwater last year. “So I’m a year late.”

Because of their limited budget – while they’ve got some local sponsorship much of the costs are out-of-pocket – Jessica doesn’t get much practice time on the track. Naturally, practice time costs in rental time on the track.

“That costs about as much as four tires,” Jessica said.

So, her practice comes on race days. Still, Jessica is comfortable behind the wheel, traveling as fast at 140 mph on the straightaways at Evergreen. She doesn’t dwell on accidents. She can’t.

“If you think about it, you’re going into the race in the wrong mindset,” Jessica said. “I know my dad probably thinks about it. So, I let him worry for me.”

Sometimes Troy does fret. He is the dad. But he’s loved this journey that’s cost him a lot of money but brought him closer to his daughter. For Troy, car racing has been his chance at being together with his daughter. It’s been like what other fathers do with their daughters, like camping, fishing or going to the park – minus the serenity.

JESSICA AND CAR“We got through the terrible teens and she still calls me dad,” Troy said. “I’ve been so fortunate, so blessed that I have that bond with her. That to me is the rewarding part. And to go out there and do what nobody thought we could do and be competitive when no one thought we could. That’s pretty rewarding, too.”

Earlier this year, K&N, a pro circuit on the west coast that televises its races, invited Jessica to race in its series. But with a limited budget, the Dana’s turned down the offer.

“They rolled out the red carpet for her,” Troy said. “It’s a national platform. But we wouldn’t have any money left to run locally.”

They could have afforded to race in just two K&N races. Instead, they’ll race in five or six local races. Her next race will probably be Aug. 16 at the Evergreen Speedway.

“That was one of the toughest decisions that she and I have had to make,” Troy said.

To order Jessica’s book or to get updates on her driving, go to her website at


Golden jam

The Plum Palate - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:10pm
Last spring we planted a stand of ‘Anne’ raspberries, between the fence and the walkway in the back yard. These are golden raspberries, plump sweet ones that grew all through the summer, in defiance of the grower, who told us it could be a year before we saw a yield. The new plants are prolific […]
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