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Bob Sullivan – Olympia’s Street Clock Collector, Connoisseur

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 7:19am



By Katie Doolittle

Edward Jones Block Ad“I’m sort of a frustrated twentieth-century archaeologist,” says Olympia resident Bob “Sully” Sullivan. It’s a pithy way to summarize his unusual and fascinating hobby: Sullivan is a collector and preservationist who researches and restores street clocks, antique automobiles, and “unusual mechanical things.”

As Sullivan describes his wide-ranging collection, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve tumbled into some sort of Steampunk Wonderland. His particular passion is for transitional technology or, as he puts it, “strange, unusual things–the odder the better.” This would explain why he’s sunk his time and treasure into refurbishing such items as a coin-operated orchestrion or a twelve-seater steam car.

lacey street clock

Bob Sullivan collects street clocks, antique automobiles, and “unusual mechanical things.”

Sullivan’s hobby is on vivid display on Lindell Road. Here in his front yard, Sullivan has installed a gorgeous, towering street clock. If time is of the essence–specifically, the essence of an era–then it’s no wonder this piece evokes both decadence and grace. First purchased in 1915, the clock originally stood at the corner of 2nd and Marion in Seattle. In those days, Sullivan tells me, “Seattle used to be called the City of Clocks. They had more street clocks than any other city in the United States.”

This particular clock was made by the Seattle-based manufacturing jewelers Joseph Mayer and Brothers, who started their company at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush and went on to become the leading west coast supplier of street clocks. According to Sullivan, Mayer clocks “are considered about the fanciest street clock that was made.”

“Fancy” doesn’t even begin to cover this massive fantasia of filigree and fleurs-de-lis. Lanterns and globe lights surround the four-faced clock, all supported by a Corinthian column erupting from a base of acanthus leaves. The total weight of this cast iron behemoth is somewhere around 8,500 pounds, and it’s all been painted in the Mayers’ iconic color combination of green and gilt.

When pressed to place the clock within a larger stylistic movement, Sullivan settles on Art Nouveau. However, he is quick to point out that this is commercial art meant to draw the eye, not necessarily to adhere to any particular aesthetic philosophy. Businesses (most often jewelers) would commission clocks as a form of advertising and then maintain them as a public service. Pedestrians could use the street clocks to check the time or reset their own watches.

New forms of advertising, coupled with the the rise of automobile traffic, rendered street clocks obsolete. “They ceased to be functional,” says Sullivan.

lacey street clock

The mechanical guts of a clock are more properly referred to as the movement.

But the urban landscape’s loss is the private collector’s gain. Ever since childhood, Sullivan has loved four-faced street clocks. In fact, he’s coveted this particular clock for years. “I just like street clocks,” says Sullivan. “I have no excuse, it’s just how I am. This is one thing I love.”

Sullivan opens a little door to provide a better view of the clock’s mechanical guts, otherwise known as the movement. Though some collectors update these inside parts to minimize hassle, Sullivan’s renovation remains true to the clock’s original gears and weights. As such, he has to hand-crank the clock every eight or nine days to keep it running properly. According to Sullivan, the well-maintained clock “keeps very good time; almost satellite time.”

Hardcore horologists may notice some slight updates to the clock. Sullivan, after all, is a practical purist. He replaced the glass door with bullet-proof plastic and protected the glass dial faces with aircraft-grade plastic.

I imagine restoring the Mayer clock as a Herculean task, but Sullivan shrugs it off. “It’s nothing exotic if you’re into clocks. It’s just big – very big.” I ask more questions to uncover the effort beneath his expertise. It turns out that moving a piece this size takes a crane, several people, and a truck. Literally, not an endeavor to be taken lightly!

Sadly, Sullivan’s neighbors will soon be treated to that very spectacle. Sullivan speaks of his decision to sell the clock to another private collector: “It’s a beautiful thing and I look at it every day and I’m sorry to see it go.” He estimates that it will be a couple of years before his other street clock is fully restored and bolted in the Mayer clock’s place.

Another street clock? Sullivan smiles. Oh, yes: a 1906 Howard clock with plenty of filigree and lights. There’s no telling how long it will take for the Howard’s full restoration, but I’m already planning to check back with Sullivan in 2016. Something tells me that the new clock will be more than worth the wait!


Van Soderberg’s Consistent Kicks Power Capital High School Football

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:35am



By Gail Wood

les schwabVan Soderberg had a life-changing experience when he was watching the 2006 Super Bowl on TV.

When Josh Brown kicked a 47-yard field goal to give the Seattle Seahawks a 3-0 lead in that game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Soderberg had an epiphany. He wanted to be a kicker.

van soderberg

Capital High School’s Van Soderberg has been consistent this year as the Cougars’ kicker.

“It just took off from there,” Soderberg said. “That’s what got me kicking.”

After that game, Soderberg went with his dad to the park and started kicking field goals. Now, nine years into Soderberg’s journey, he’s the kicker for the Capital High School Cougars, helping them place second in the 3A Narrows League and advance to the playoffs.

He’s been Mr. Automatic for the Cougars. His lone miss in PATs in 30-plus attempts was a block against North Thurston. On field goals, he went 7-for-8, only missing on a 50-yard attempt.

“He’s a really steady kicker,” said J.D. Johnson, Capital’s head football coach who led his team to a 7-3 record after Saturday’s 14-7 playoff loss to Mountlake Terrace. “I’d assume he’ll have some Division-I opportunities.”

Soderberg is already getting recruiting letters from colleges. Missouri has mailed several letters.

“That’s the end goal,” Soderberg said. “I’d love to get that opportunity to play in college.”

van soderberg

Van Soderberg waits for the snap to kick a Point After Touchdown (PAT) against North Thurston.

Soderberg isn’t kicking field goals, PATs and punting just because he couldn’t do anything else. He’s not a scrawny kid who couldn’t find another position to play. At 6-foot and 205 pounds, Soderberg, who can bench press 300 pounds and squat 500 pounds, has the size, strength and speed to play wide receiver, defensive back or even linebacker. But his calling is kicking.

“He could do some other things, but mama doesn’t want him to do other things,” Johnson said with a grin. “And we respect what mama says. But ultimately, he could probably play linebacker. He could do some other things. Over all, he’s our kicker and that’s what we let him do.”

Besides his accuracy on PATs and field goals, he’s also booming his kickoffs, repeatedly reaching the end zone. He’s kicked the ball into the end zone on 32 of 34 kickoffs. On his punts, he’s averaging nearly 50 yards a punt.

Against Central Kitsap, Soderberg’s 50-yard field goal attempt missed left with about four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with the score tied 0-0. Then on his game-winning 33-yard attempt in overtime, Soderberg got a chance at redemption.

van soderberg

After his team scored a touchdown, Van Soderberg prepares to kickoff against North Thurston.

“I had that miss in the back of my mind,” Soderberg said. “When I kicked it, I just tried to keep it straight.”

Soderberg’s kick split the uprights and pandemonium broke out. His teammates and Cougar fans rushed the field, celebrating the 3-0 win.

“It’s the moment that kickers dream of,” Soderberg said. “You don’t get a lot of opportunities to get any glory or be a huge part of the team. When you do get the chance all you think about is coming through because you know that’s going to be a time you’re going to have the most impact that you can.”

Pressure can do funny things to a kicker. With the outcome of a game hinging on their performance, easy chip shots can turn into dreaded misses. But Soderberg lives for that moment.

“He’s pretty good under pressure,” Johnson said. “I think he actually relishes it. I don’t think that pressure is a major component on his plate. I think he’s a pretty solid kid when it comes to that.”

While kickers are often off by themselves kicking as the rest of the team practices, Soderberg makes a point of joining in when he can. Rather than skip weight lifting workouts, Soderberg goes. In the off-season, his lifting buddies are Dallen Prichett, a lineman, and Deter Morton, a fullback – two big stack lifters.

van soderberg

Van Soderberg has learned how to be his own coach by attending summer kicking camps.

“I try to be involved,” Soderberg said. “A lot of kickers won’t go to the weight room and workout. Or they’ll leave practice early because there’s not much for them to do. But I try. I feel the closer you are to your teammates, the more at stake there is for you to do your job. You need that connection to the rest of the team. The snapper, the holder and the line – in the end it’s eleven guys.”

Sure, Soderberg knows he needs to make the kick. But he also knows the center needs to make the snap. The holder needs to place the ball. And the line needs to block.

“It’s a team effort,” he said.

Soderberg is driven to be the best he can be.

“The only time you notice the kicker is when he messes up,” he said. “So, my goal has been since I’ve gotten here in high school is to be noticed for the good things I do rather than the missed field goals.”

From the start, Soderberg has learned his trade from the best. Just a couple of months after watching Brown kick for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl nine years ago, Soderberg went to a kicking camp in Seattle put on by Ray Guy, a former Oakland Raider. Every year since, he’s gone to a couple of those camps, either in Seattle or California.

van soderberg

Van Soderberg booms another kickoff to the end zone after his team scored a touchdown.

“They taught me how to do it correctly,” Soderberg said. “The way those camps work is they want to make you your own coach so you know what you’re doing wrong when you do something wrong. I’ve been able to do that. When I do something wrong, I know exactly what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do to be successful.”

Over the years, some of the special moments in learning how to kick has been going to the park with his dad, Jeffrey Soderberg, who works on Hollywood movies doing the lighting as the chief rigging electrician. In the last couple of years, he’s worked on the soon-to-be-released Fantastic Four, and on  Transcendence, Runner Runner, The Dark Knight Rises and Mission Impossible.

“My dad is gone a lot of the time, but when he’s back we go kicking,” Soderberg said, smiling at the memory. “We still do. That’s one of our pastimes. He has pictures of me kicking when I was eight.”

Now, after a Friday night football game, Soderberg watches with his dad’s video of the Cougar’s game.

“We’ll go and watch the film and think of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go,” Soderberg said.


Win Cash and Meet Stars at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:00am



Lucky Eagle Casino

Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel will host Troy Landry from the hit TV show “Swamp People” on November 29.

We all have our favorite daydream that we pull out on rainy afternoons, trips to the dentist, or during too-long Mondays. Whether it’s to strike it rich, rub elbows with celebrities, or be cheered on by everyone around you, these dreams can all come true at Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel during the month of November.

Through November 29, Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel will host “Get Da Gator” Progressive Giveaway with prizes up to $50,000 each week. Players Club members can enter every day with winners selected every half hour from 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays November 15, 22, and 29.  Casino Advertising Manager, Lindy Waring, says, “The $5,000 prize goes up $5,000 each time someone does not choose it so by the end of each Saturday, it could be up to $50,000.”

On Saturday November 29, you’ll get a chance to meet the king of gators, Troy Landry, from the History Channel’s hit show Swamp People. The 5:30 p.m. meet-and-greet is free; guests simply register at the casino’s Players Club window in advance to reserve one of the available spaces.

Swamp People began in 2010 and is a weekly glance into Louisiana bayou life. The History Channel “follows these swampers through a time of year that is crucial to their survival: the 30-day alligator hunting season. At its core, this is a uniquely American story of a proud and skillful people fighting to maintain an ancient way of life in a rapidly modernizing world, despite the many trials and perils that stand in their way.”

Lucky Eagle’s Promotion and Events Specialist, LuWana Hawley, says  “[We’re] very excited to host Troy Landry here at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel. History Channel’s Swamp People series has been a huge success and it is such a privilege to bring a unique television personality such as Troy here to the Casino. It will be so fun for our guests to have the opportunity to meet him, get an autograph and a complimentary photo taken with him.”

The Pacific Northwest may be short on alligators but it’s overflowing with other unique experiences.  We’re visited by some of the country’s best and brightest talent, surrounded with award winning hotel and dining options, and any of it can be turned into a restful weekend staycation. The Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel itself was recently awarded best players club, hosts, dealers, video slots, hotel staff, and suites in Casino Player Magazine’s Best of Gaming 2014 issue.

Contact the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel with any questions about the giveaway or meet-and-greet. They can be reached at 800-720-1788, or drop by 12888 188th Avenue SW in Rochester.

Turning your daydreams into reality is easy, fun, and close to home. Why not give it a try?


Studio West’s Sarah Sawatzky Goes the Distance in Pursuit of her Ballet Dreams

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 5:04pm



By Claire Smith, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

oly ortho logoI first met Sarah Sawatzky last year in my freshman English class at Capital High School. From our first conversation about ballet, I could sense her love and passion for the sport. That passion grew stronger this summer when Sarah auditioned for and was accepted into The Rock School For Dance Education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She spent five weeks participating in a ballet intensive program. It was there that Sarah experienced an epiphany, realizing ballet had become something she not only loved, but that she wanted to be doing for the rest of her life.

Sarah’s mother and aunt introduced her to ballet when she was just three years old. The former Canadian started at Victoria’s Ballet School in White Rock, British Columbia. Fast forward twelve years, and Sarah now dances at Studio West Dance Academy in their highest level.  Within three years, Sarah hopes to earn an invitation to a pre-professional ballet school in preparation for joining a major ballet company.  She knows this is a lofty goal, but she is not daunted.

studio west ballet

Sarah had an amazing time exploring Philadelphia during her busy days, and never missed a chance for a photograph in front of the beautiful buildings.

While Sarah dances many styles including pointe, contemporary, modern, lyrical, jazz, and musical theatre, she prefers ballet.

Like many dancers, Sarah has her own fears to overcome. She worries about being the right size for ballet.  The recent “I Will What I Want” Under Armour ad featuring ballerina Misty Copeland highlights this very real part of the ballet world for all dancers.

Technical elements are also daunting, at first.  Sarah recalls the challenge of her first pirouettes in pointe and the challenge of some critics telling her she was not good enough. But Sarah clearly knows it’s not just the external challenges but also the little voice inside you. Sometimes, your greatest enemy is yourself.

At the age eleven, Sarah’s commitment to ballet jumped to a new level.  She had just received her first pointe shoes and went to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Cinderella. As Sarah sat watching the dancers perform, she had an intense feeling of passion rush over her. “I knew right then and there that I absolutely had to be like those beautiful people on stage. I just had to.”

Last year, Sarah auditioned for several summer programs.  She was accepted into the Boston Ballet School, Pittsburg Ballet School, Austin Ballet School For Dance Education and The Rock School For Dance Education. Sarah chose The Rock purely on a gut feeling. She felt the directors paid attention during the audition process, and knew many dancers from the Rock’s program were beautifully skilled.

studio west ballet

Up by 6:00 a.m. every morning at The Rock, Sarah gave herself plenty of time to stretch before days that required her to dance for eight or more hours.

At The Rock she was introduced to more dance styles, but more importantly, she was exposed to just how competitive dance can be. Her days included technique classes, pointe rehearsals, warm-up and cool downs along with meals and a few hours of sleep.   Her hard work culminated in two showcase performances showing her progress.  At the end of the summer, Sarah was invited to stay year-round at The Rock but chose to spend at least another year with her family.

Despite the demands of her high level dance schedule, Sarah balances dance and school remarkably well. She’s intelligent and extremely organized. Sarah jokes that without schedules and organization, her life could easily fall apart.

This year, however, Sarah’s rigorous dance schedule meant she needed more flexibility than attending classes at Capital High School offered.  Sarah began online schooling, including live classes where she interacts with the instructor and other students, and she loves it.  For somebody who typically wakes at 6:30 a.m. and doesn’t stop until 10:00 p.m., flexibility in all aspects of life is a necessity. Sarah says she feels extremely fortunate to be able to balance both, and doesn’t feel that her time in dance takes away from academics, or vice versa.

Sarah says her parents inspire her every day and she thanks them for their guiding influence in her choices.  Sarah finds dance inspiration in Tamara Rojo, a former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet in London, one of the companies Sarah dreams of dancing with.

While she dreams of a professional dance career, she knows it may not be a reality. Sarah admires the gracefulness and flexibility of the rhythmic gymnasts and states it would be her first choice of dance after ballet.  She also admires pediatric cancer nurses and has been impressed by physical therapists, sharing that these are two careers that she could easily see herself enjoying.

studio west ballet

At the end of her five week summer intensive, Sarah preformed in two showcases, in front of huge audiences in Philadelphia.

Dance has taught Sarah many things including persevering through pain. “No one, absolutely no one who isn’t a dancer, understands the pain of ballet. You constantly have to think about every position of every part of your body,” she explains.  She goes on to share it’s not just extensions or turnout, but while you dance, you must look smooth yet not lazy, making sure every little movement has purpose and emotion. All of this on top of memorizing your choreography, taking direction from instructors and ensuring you stand out from the crowd.

Sarah says that most people don’t understand that despite all the pain dancers go though, the bleeding, blisters, injuries and the mental pain, at the end of the day, there’s nothing the dancers love more than to simply dance. Sarah believes this is due to the feeling you get when you perform. “Being able to get lost in playing a character is amazing,” Sarah describes. “It’s like being a totally different person for a few hours.” Any actor or performer understands this feeling, realizing all those hours and all that pain was worth it in the end.

And while performing can be terrifying, as well as exhilarating, Sarah delights in the adrenaline rush when running onstage in front of 7,000 people and starting the show with a leap into her partner’s arms. “The feeling in that moment is just indescribable.”

Sarah will be performing with Studio West Dance Theatre in the annual The Nutcracker at SPSCC’s Minnaert Center for the Arts, December 11 to December 14. Visit Studio West’s website to learn more.

Sarah is a gifted, intelligent young lady.  She’s a graceful dancer, wonderful student, and a kind person. If I have learned nothing else from my time with Sarah, she has taught me to boldly pursue my own dreams and passions in life.

All photos courtesy Sarah Sawatzky.


Saint Martin’s University Announces Recipient of 2014 America’s Service Heroes Scholarship

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 4:33pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Staff Sergeant Matthew Roth is Saint Martin's University’s sixth recipient of its America's Service Heroes Scholarship.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Roth is Saint Martin’s University’s sixth recipient of its America’s Service Heroes Scholarship.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Roth of San Diego, California, a Saint Martin’s University senior who is majoring in psychology, has been selected as the University’s sixth recipient of its America’s Service Heroes Scholarship. Roth received the honor Nov. 1 before 650 guests at Gala 2014, an important fundraiser for University student scholarships that was held in Marcus Pavilion on the Lacey campus.

Endowed and awarded annually since 2009, the award is given in honor of service members who have attended Saint Martin’s University campuses in times of conflict and during peacetime.

“The America’s Service Heroes Scholarship was created to provide financial assistance to those service members and their families who have sacrificed for our nation’s well-being and security,” says Radana Dvorak, Ph.D., dean of the University’s Extended Learning Division. “The ability to provide financial relief to the defenders of our culture and heritage through pursuit of higher education was the motivating force of the scholarship’s founders and supporters. We salute all of America’s Service Heroes.”

A nine-and-a-half year member of the U.S. Army, Roth enlisted as a combat medic, utilizing his experiences gained as an emergency medical technician on an ambulance and in an emergency room setting prior to enlisting in the Army.  He is the son of retired Marine Corps officers, and he followed his younger brother into the Army when he learned his sibling had received orders to Iraq.

Roth’s first assignment led him to Ledward Barracks, where he served with the Blue Spaders of the 1/26 IN BN in Schweinfurt, Germany.  This was also the first unit he deployed with during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006/2008.  His admiration of his colleagues is readily apparent. “I can think of no other unit I would have wanted to deploy with,” says Roth. “The Blue Spaders were a band of brothers…blood brothers!”

In 2012, Roth was transferred to Madigan Army Medical Center and worked as the ward master for the medical-surgical ward, as well as the NCOIC for the Medical-Surgical Nursing Services section. He is currently a practical nurse course instructor at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Roth has been married to his wife Sydne for 14 years. They have a daughter, Holland, with another child due in March 2015. After graduation, he intends to stay with Saint Martin’s and work towards a master’s degree in counseling. Rothe’s ultimate goal is to become a child and family counselor.

“I have always had an interest in helping others but have come to realize that I would rather help as a counselor instead of as a nurse,” says Roth.

He has a Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal with two stars, a Global War on Terrorism Medal, and an Army Service Ribbon.  Roth also holds the coveted Combat Medic Badge and the Drivers Badge-Wheele.



To Rob Rice Homes, Buying Local Means Quality, Customer Service

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 4:07pm



Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes

Rob Rice - Rich Road Local Store

The Rice Family will often stop at their local market, Johnson’s Whistle Depot, supporting businesses in their neighborhood.

Rob Rice, his wife Helena and their two children are committed as a family to shopping local. So much so that they buy eggs or milk at the small family grocer Johnson Whistle Depot in their neighborhood, even if it costs a little more.

“My son Alex reminded me the other day of our ‘buy local’ commitment when we were driving to a large store to get our weekly groceries,” Helena Rice smiles. “He insisted that Dad would want us to buy them at our little neighborhood store. I told him I understood our commitment to buy locally but that we just couldn’t live on Hot Pockets every night. We need a bit more variety in our weekly menu but we are determined to give back to our immediate community as much as possible.”

And so it is also with building and developing Rob Rice Communities and Homes. Rob Rice has a very personal commitment to hiring local contractors and buying local products and services for his homes even if it costs him more.

“What sets us apart is the long-term commitment to contractors who are as locally based as possible,” says Rob whose office is right on State Street across from Ralph’s Thriftway. “Not only does it contribute to the local community where our homes are built, the relationships with people you know face-to-face build trust and quality service. They do things right the first time and if something does go wrong, you know they are going to be there. It is the foundation of our customer service.”

And, once he finds a company whom he can trust to maintain high standards, Rob Rice’s philosophy is to stay loyal to them.

“I don’t think you can deliver a product that stands the test of time if you switch sub-contractors and vendors every time the wind changes direction,” says the local builder who has built more than 3000 homes in the area over the last 30 years. “I still have the framer that framed the first house I built in 1985. He is working for me at Campus Highlands right now. We have a long list of my sub-contractors that have been with us for 10, 20, 30 years.”

Here are just a few:

  • Heating and Cooling Systems – Much-respected local company Sunset Air, installs the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems in every Rob Rice Home and has partnered with the local builder for more than 25 years.
  • Windows – The windows installed in Rob Rice Homes are from Milgard, a local company in Tacoma, which backs their windows with a lifetime warranty.
  • Community Development – For nearly 30 years, local planning consultants Hatton Godat Pantier have helped Rob plan and design Rob Rice Communities with their expansive landscaping, signature green space and small community parks.

    Brian Fluetsch - Owner of Sunset Air

    Brian Fluetsch – Owner of Sunset Air

  • Lumber – Rob Rice Homes purchases its lumber from BMC out of Lakewood to frame and finish his homes with the highest quality product.  Every home Rob has built has been supplied by BMC West. 
  • Doors – Doors Unlimited Inc is a family owned and operated company located in Olympia that has been around since 1975 and has partnered with Rob Rice Homes to provide the many sturdy and stylish doors they install.
  • Paint –Imperial Painting has been a local and longstanding partner since 1986.  Paint choices are higher quality to ensure color durability and prevent fading for many years.

“For virtually every one of the subs on our jobs, I could go out today and find someone to do it cheaper, I know that,” says Rob. “That’s not the way we do things because we are looking at the long-term picture, the quality and longevity of a community, not just about today.”

Brian Fluetsch, president of Sunset Air shares the commitment that is typical of Rob’s team of local contractors and vendors.

“We don’t look at how cheap or how fast something can be put in,” Brian echos Rob’s sentiment. “We live in the same community and we are neighbors with these people.

When our employees are at Fred Meyer with their uniform on and someone that had our HVAC system put in sees them, they are going to say ‘Man, you did such a great job in our house.’”

That would be the comment to any one of the superior local contractors that help build Rob Rice Homes.

Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons; Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.




Environmental, Bi-Cultural Documentary Stands Out at Olympia Film Festival

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:58pm



Submitted by The Evergreen State College

Hugo Lucitante (left) and David Poritz see signs of oil development in Ecuador.

Hugo Lucitante (left) and David Poritz see signs of oil development in Ecuador.

Among the 45 films showing at next week’s anticipated Olympia Film Festival, a dramatic and heartfelt documentary by Evergreen State College alumna Laurel Spellman Smith and her co-director, Francine Strickwerda, stands out.

Oil & Water, which shows Wednesday, November 12 at 3 p.m. at the Capitol Theater with both directors in attendance, centers around two boys fighting to save a piece of the Amazon rainforest that had been decimated by the oil industry. But this is no typical environmental movie. Oil & Wateris also an inspiring buddy movie and a coming of age story. The film follows two charismatic boys who are so different, they are themselves like oil and water. Yet both are compelled to take on a common cause in the face of frightening odds. Hugo Lucitante, from the indigenous Cofan tribe in Ecuador wants to save his tribe from extinction. David Poritz, from Amherst, Massachusetts is trying to revolutionize the oil industry.

Most people are aware of industrial encroachment into the Amazon rainforest, but few people know the extent of the devastation beneath this rich ecosystem in Ecuador. From the early 1970s to the 1990s, oil companies contaminated vast swaths of pristine jungle by slopping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits. Oil & Water portrays this environmental disaster, and the damage oil companies are still wreaking today, from the unique perspectives of two young people.

Hugo, sent at age 10 by his tribe to get an American education, graduated from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School in 2006. David first became aware of the oil catastrophe while researching a 6th grade school project and made a commitment to bring justice to the Amazon. This award-winning documentary by Spellman Smith and Francine Strickwerda follows the two teenagers as their paths intersect in North and Latin America over the next six years. The film explores the hazards and pressures the two young men face as they carry their cause into adulthood, and also the positive difference they make for their communities and the world.

The film also features animated sequences by 2014 Stranger Genius Award Winner and Evergreen alumnus Drew Christie, a frequent contributor to the New York Times Op-Docs. “Using animation allowed us to tell parts of the story we didn’t have footage for,” said Strickwerda. “It’s been fun to see how people actually talk about the animation as if it was actual film footage, which is interesting because it’s so distinctively Drew’s work. We loved collaborating with him.”

Spellman Smith graduated The Evergreen State College in 1997. This is her second partnership with Strickwerda; they previously partnered on a documentary called Busting Out, which examined Americans’ attitudes toward breasts, from awkward early puberty to fatal breast cancer. Spellman Smith has directed two other documentaries, The Corporal’s Diary and Faith and Fear: The Children of Krishna.

Strickwerda and Spellman Smith have numerous stories of their time in the Amazon over the eight years they worked with the Cofan Tribe. They tell of giant bugs, of slipping and sliding in mud, and of annoying their Cofan hosts, without whom they “would have been toast,” said Strickwerda.

Though they admitted they often looked like buffoons while trying to film in the Amazon, they persevered, and it paid off. “Looking back, we had no idea that Hugo and David would become such fascinating young men. We didn’t realize just how close the oil companies were to making another assault on Cofan land. And we certainly didn’t imagine that we’d be telling the story of a startling effort to revolutionize the oil industry,” said Spellman Smith.

Said Strickwerda, “We are hopeful that the Cofan will be able to save their culture and their land


RadiantCare Radiation Oncology to join Providence Health & Services

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:47pm



Submitted by Providence Health and Services

New partnership will ensure state-of-the-art therapy for cancer patients in Lacey, Aberdeen and Centralia, Washington.

RadiantCare Radiation Oncology and Providence Health & Services today announced that RadiantCare will soon become part of the Providence family. In this new arrangement, Providence will own and operate the services and assets of RadiantCare. The transaction will be finalized before the end of this year, and the new name will be Providence Regional Cancer Syst­em – RadiantCare Radiation Oncology.

This collaboration means continued high quality care for the community and the ability to strengthen an already robust service line, creating new opportunities to improve coordination, efficiency and service for patients. RadiantCare Radiation Oncology currently treats more than 800 new patients each year at facilities in Lacey, Aberdeen and Centralia, Washington.

“We have worked diligently for a number of years to establish excellent radiation oncology services and compassionate care in the Southwest Washington region. We remain committed to that endeavor and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with Providence to continue to provide these services in the years to come,” said James Raymond, MD, of RadiantCare Radiation Oncology.

Approximately 40 employees of RadiantCare Radiation Oncology will become Providence employees. Additionally, Providence will own and operate the equipment utilized to plan and deliver external beam radiation therapy, including four medical linear accelerators.

“We have had a long-standing working relationship with RadiantCare. This new partnership will allow us to collaborate even more closely to ensure the people of Southwest Washington continue to have high quality radiation oncology services close to home,” said Medrice Coluccio, chief executive of Providence Health & Services Southwest Washington Region.

The five physicians who are now part of RadiantCare will continue serving and providing professional medical services for oncology patients and will supervise and direct the radiation treatment services at the three treatment facilities. They will provide these services under the auspices of an independent, professional limited liability corporation. The physician group (RadiantCare Physicians, PLLC) will consist of Joseph Hartman, MD; James Raymond, MD; Haleigh Werner, MD; Gregory Allen, MD, PhD; and Robyn Vera, DO. All of the physicians are board certified radiation oncologists with greater than 50 years of combined clinical experience.

State-of-the art therapy that will continue to be available through this collaboration includes intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and brachytherapy.


Saint Martin’s University to Host Discussion of Business Opportunities in Brazil for Local Companies

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:23pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Saint Martin's University will host a discussion on how local businesses can partner with Brazil.

Saint Martin’s University will host a discussion on how local businesses can partner with Brazil.

Saint Martin’s University and the Thurston Economic Development Council are proud to announce the first business conference in the South Sound area to address business opportunities in Brazil.

The panel discussion, moderated by Michael Cade, director of the TEDC, will take place Monday, November 17, from 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m., in the Norman Worthington Conference Center, located on the Lacey campus of Saint Martin’s University, 5000 Abbey Way SE. “Business Opportunities in Brazil” is scheduled during a five-day, international conference designed to promote another first — student exchange between Washington and Brazil.

The conference, which concludes Friday, November 21, is being held in response to President Barack Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” signature education initiative that was launched in January. The goal of 100,000 Strong is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, as well as boosting the number of Latin American and Caribbean students studying in the U.S. to 100,000.

An equally important initiative, according to conference organizers, is to provide the local business community with a convenient opportunity to learn why they should consider doing business with Brazil, given its emergence as a vibrant economic engine. Brazil has also taken center stage as the recent host of the 2014 Soccer World Cup and as host of the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics.

“It is currently the seventh largest economy in the world and Brazil is already directly linked to Washington’s economy,” says Riley Moore, Ph.D., associate professor of economics in the Saint Martin’s School of Business. “Embraer, a Brazilian manufacturer of airplanes, buys parts from Washington-based suppliers.  Also, Paccar Inc. recently opened a $320 million truck factory in Brazil.” Based in Bellevue, Paccar Inc. is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of premium light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks.

In addition, there are approximately 5,000 Brazilians living in western Washington and many were instrumental in starting the recent Puget Sound Brazilian Innovation Society to encourage entrepreneurship and social engagement in Washington.

Topics to be covered during the panel discussion include:brazil exchange students

– Market overview of the business environment and emerging opportunities
– Visa and licensing requirements

– Transportation and logics issues
– Business culture and practices
– Resources available for local businesses here and in Brazil


Confirmed speakers include:

– Stephen Murphy, senior advisor, Latin America, Pacific Northwest Advisors

– J. Marcio Da Cruz, R&D technical manager, Starbucks Coffee Company

– Pedro De Magalhaes Castro, principle, Magellan Architects

– Pedro Augusto Leite Costa, honorary consul of Brazil, Seattle

– Young Oh, U.S. commercial officer, U.S. Department of Commerce

The cost to attend the business panel discussion is $25 and attendees are asked to register with the Thurston County Economic Council for the event.


Share your Vision for Olympia’s Parks, Arts and Recreation

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 1:59pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

The City of Olympia is updating its Parks, Arts and Recreation plan and needs your input.  The City’s outreach effort will begin with a series of eight neighborhood meetings where citizens will have a chance to share their vision for the future of parks, arts and recreation in Olympia. This is your chance to share what you feel is the greatest parks, arts or recreation need in your neighborhood and in your community. The meetings will be at the following times and locations:




Wildwood, Governor Stevens, Carlyon/North


  Wed, 11/12/14  6:30 – 7:30 Olympia High School Library
1302 North St. SE

Use North St. Entrance Northeast

  Mon, 11/17/14  6:30-7:30 Knox Building Boardroom
1113 Legion Way SE South Capitol

  Thurs, 11/20/14  7:00-8:00 Lincoln Elementary
213 21st Ave SE Southeast

  Mon, 12/1/14  6:30 – 7:30 Washington Middle School
3100 Cain Rd. SE Northwest

  Wed, 12/3/14  6:30-7:30 Jefferson Middle School
2200 Conger Ave NW Southeast

  Wed, 12/10/14  6:30-7:30 McKenny Elementary School
3250 Morse-Merryman Rd. SE Downtown

  Mon, 1/5/15  6:30-7:30 The Olympia Center
222 Columbia NW Southwest

  Thurs, 1/8/15  6:30-7:30 Location TBD

Park Map

This series of neighborhood meetings is just the beginning of a year-and-a-half long public process to update the plan. Other opportunities to provide input will include an OlySpeaks on-line survey, two community-wide public meetings, and a random telephone survey of Olympia residents. For more information or to get involved, please click here.

The Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Plan outlines a 10-year vision for parks, arts and recreation.  The plan identities the general location of future parks, open space, and trail systems and includes a capital investment strategy.  The current plan was adopted in 2010.  To remain eligible to receive grants from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office, an updated plan will need to be adopted by March 1, 2016.



Well. Hello to you too (Olyblogosphere for November 10, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 6:17am
1. Only one of the best things ever I've watched.

2. rebotco is the bomb. Here's the Second Part of Olympia Now and Then. Even better than the first.

3. Thurston Talk keeps us up to date on what Aunt Alicia is up to. OMG. I just realized. Maybe she'll buy the LBA woods for us!

4. The man who brought us Motherhood on Percival Landing and the World War II Memorial (wheat stalks) has students. Go see their art. You'll forgive me for not mentioning the horrible Parkland institution that houses that art.

5. I have nothing else. Except this awesome Olympia music that you can own for a price that you name.

All Your Friend’s Friends “Jumpkick the Legs”

K Records - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:51am
The first video from the NW hip hop compilation All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] produced by SMOKE M2D6. “Jumpkick The Legs” features the lyrical stylings of (in order of appearance) Xperience, Zikki, Jesus Chris, Candidt, Nicatine, Hashtronaut, Swamptiger, Miz, Ang P, Heretic The Heathen, Shellz Sck and Luvva J! Attend one of the All Your […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Woodpecker D Adze

Mojourner Truth - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:59pm

This is an adze that I made in more or less traditional Salish style, what anthropologists call the "D-adze" because of the handle shape.

The blade was made from a chunk of serpentine I picked up from a road cut on Cypress Island, ground down by rubbing it on concrete. Lashing is split cedar root over pine sap. The wood is the only non-local material, being from a black walnut board my dad bought decades ago in Ohio (which has been dragged to Virginia and now Washington, awaiting the time when I'd figure out what to do with it).

Salish adzes were sometimes adorned, and I chose to put a woodpecker head on this one. At first, it was because I wanted to stick with a fairly literal image (woodpeckers being carvers, like adzes), since I don't know enough about the person or Tribe I was making it for to choose something for its cultural significance or meaning. On the night before I gave it, though, I ran across a story of Dokwibatl, who came across a man who was trying to chop down a tree by banging his head on it, and transformed the poor human into a woodpecker. My intent with this gift was to honor a man who helped in my transformation from ignorant outsider to reasonably competent Northwest archaeologist, and so the woodpecker seems apt.

The wood that became this adze handle came from the same board that I carved into a sturgeon years ago, and which I gave to the Chair of Lower Elwha. The adze went to the Chair of Swinomish (who is also president of NCAI these days), with a special thanks to the THPO of that tribe. In between, another sturgeon went to Nisqually, a big halibut serving tray to Suquamish, and a stone fish club to a young Skokomish fisherman.

I'm not a talented carver, but not a horrible one either, and I still have all my fingers. I have not even attempted to match the Native Northwest formline style, and may never feel adequate to do so. I've never sold a piece, but I enjoy giving them away, and feel like I've been paid more than enough by having the chance to give them to host Tribes and have them be accepted. It's a lucky life.

Wireheads in Olympia!

K Records - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 10:19pm
Wireheads, from Adelaide, Australia, are in the Dub Narcotic Studio this week, recording with Calvin Johnson. They sound like guitars falling down stairs + violin amplified through a telephone answering machine. Mark E. Smith, Jr. on vocals. You know what I’m talking about. Supposedly, Wireheads will play a show in downtown Olympia Tuesday night (Armistice […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment


Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 4:00pm



Phone Mask 1 (1 of 1)


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Afternoon Festival Celebrates Washington’s 125th Birthday at the State Capitol

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 9:54am



Submitted by Washington State Historical Society

Capitol with LakeRing in Washington’s milestone year of statehood at the Washington 125 Commemoration on November 11, with special events and welcome remarks from Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

On November 11, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed the proclamation admitting Washington to the Union and, with this year marking Washington’s 125th Anniversary, the Washington State Historical Society and the Office of the Secretary of State are hosting a celebration to honor the milestone. Taking place on November 11, 2014, at the Legislative Building on the Capitol Campus in Olympia, Washington, the event will feature a re-creation of the telegram delivery that announced Washington’s statehood at 3:09 p.m. making it precisely 125 years ago, along with music, dancing and, of course, cake. Washingtonians and local organizations are also encouraged to participate in a coordinated tweet saying: “Happy Birthday Washington #WA125” at exactly 3:09 p.m.

The focus of the day is to celebrate the past 25 years and to marvel at how far we have come since the Centennial. The celebration will kick off at 1 p.m. with the posting of the colors by the Marine Corps League Detachment 482 color guard, followed by the Star Spangled Banner sung by the Total Experience Gospel Choir. Special appearances include a blessing by the Squaxin Island Tribe and a welcome address by Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman at 1:10 p.m. Ralph Munro is the Master of Ceremonies. Girl Scouts will present birthday cards made by scouts all over the region to First Lady Mrs. Inslee in honor of the state’s birthday.

The opening service will end with a ceremony for the Capsule Keepers, which includes the initiation of 100 of Washington’s youth as “Washington State Keepers of the Capsule” where they will take an oath to preserve the time capsule and enlist new generations of Keepers every twenty-five years. More information on the Capsule Keepers can be found on their website.

A wide range of exciting musical and dance performances have been chosen to reflect the diversity of Washington in current times. The day will be filled with entertainment by the Olympia High School Band, Wenatchee High School’s mariachi band, Kim Archer, and the Oly Mountain Boys, a high-energy blue grass band.

Dance performances will range from b-boys to square dancing, with performances by the Massive Monkees, of “America’s Best Dance Crew” fame, square dancing by the Puddletown Squares Olympia Square Dance Inc., along with a Suquamish Tribe culture sharing.

Throughout the day, the Hands on Children’s Museum will provide activities for kids and there will be opportunities to tour the Legislative Building.

For those craving more history, a slide show will display centennial legacy projects from the last 25 years, memorabilia from the 1980 centennial celebration, the Washington State Constitution and Gilbert Stuart’s famous, one-dollar bill portrait of George Washington, courtesy of the Tacoma Art Museum. In between activities and performances visitors can peruse additional exhibitions from state agencies, heritage groups and arts and culture organizations and enjoy a piece of the five-foot long, Washington-shaped cake.

The Washington State Constitution will be on display during the day as well at the Office of the Secretary of State, along with their new exhibit Washington 1889: Blazes, Rails & the Year of Statehood. OSOS will be hosting an opening reception from 4:00 – 6:00pm.

The event is sponsored by a grant from the WSECU and has received donations from Wagner’s European Bakery & Café, Johnson-Cox Co., Crystal Springs, and Foss Waterway Maritime Museum.

For more event information, visit:


The Landing at Hawks Prairie Joins Together to Fight Hunger

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 8:49am



Submitted by The Landing at Hawks Prairie

The month of November brings chillier temperatures, fall leaves, and an acknowledgment of the holidays right around the corner.  It’s during this time of year that those struggling with hunger need our help more than ever.  With heating bills climbing and expenses high this time of year, donating to the Thurston County Food Bank is more important than ever.

The Landing at Hawks Prairie is a plaza of retail shops and restaurants that have joined together to help combat hunger.  Participating stores throughout the plaza are collecting food for the Thurston County Food Bank all month long.  And, those shops are giving you an extra incentive to donate when you visit the shopping complex.  Participating stores are offering free items or significant discounts when you support the food drive.

Participating Businesses include Hand and Stone Massage, Cricket, Jack and Jill’s Children’s Haircuts, Menchies and many more.

While it’s easy to grab a bag of pasta or few bags of Top Ramen, the food bank has some specific, more nutrient dense items that they would like to encourage you to donate.

  • Canned Chicken, Tuna, Spam, or Salmon
  • Beef Stew
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Fruit in their own Juice (not syrup)
  • Canned Soup – Meat and Vegetarian
  • Boxed Cereal
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Canned Chili
  • Canned Vegetables

Please consider adding one or more of these items to your shopping list this November.  Then, bring it by The Landing at Hawks Prairie and show your support of the Thurston County Food Bank.   The Food Bank serves over 1400 children each week. There are many hungry families right here in our community.  We hope to help ease that hunger this holiday season.


Poetry on Buses

Rapid-Ride-TSP-bus-simple_easy_to_useRESIZEWhat a great idea!  Poetry, written by bus riders, shared via bus placards.  The following is a description of this King County (Seattle) project, from the blog

Poetry on Buses, one of King County’s most beloved public art programs, is back!

Every day, thousands of people ride the bus—to commute to work, visit family, go to school, travel to special events, and return home. The bus is a unique public space—rich with stories, character and poignant vignettes. It’s a space where, for a short while, all of us are going in the same direction.

What began in 1992 as a presentation of poetry from the local community on placards found right above the bus seats continues today. New this year: poems (and workshops) in five languages, an online poetry portal, and a focus on RapidRide.

The poems …are written by the person across the aisle, that kid in the back and the professional poet alike. A partnership between 4Culture and Metro Transit, Poetry on Buses is a celebration of local voices.

Wouldn’t it be great to do this project in Thurston County via Intercity Transit? 


Categories: Local Environment

Remembering the Soldiers’ Monument at the Tumwater Masonic Memorial Park

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 7:20am



By Drew Crooks

providence medical group sponsorA number of memorials on Olympia’s State Capital Campus honor those who have served in the armed forces of the United States.  They include the “Winged Victory” Memorial, POW/MIA Memorial, Medal of Honor Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and World War II Memorial. There is also a Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial on the Campus.

tumwater soldiers monument

In 1900, nine unclaimed dead from the First Washington Regiment were brought in a procession through Olympia to be buried in Tumwater’s Masonic Cemetery. Photo courtesy Washington State Archives, State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990.

Yet, there is another local war memorial that is perhaps less remembered. That is the Soldiers’ Monument in Tumwater’s Masonic Memorial Park. This memorial, located in the cemetery’s north section close to Cleveland Ave. SE, was erected in 1902 to honor the Washington State soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American/Philippine-American War.

The Soldiers’ Monument, as described in a Morning Olympian newspaper article of February 15, 1902, “consists of a granite pedestal twelve feet high, upon which rests the [bronze] figure of a soldier in campaign uniform in the position of parade rest. There is a simple inscription on the pedestal: “The State of Washington Erects This Monument In Memory Of Her Valiant Sons.” To the northeast of the memorial are buried ten soldiers who died in the turn of the century conflict. More recent graves surround the monument on its other sides.

What is the story behind the Soldiers’ Monument?  The Spanish-American/Philippine-American War (1898-1902) brought the United States onto the world stage. Some residents of Washington State participated in the conflict as members of the First Washington Regiment, United States Volunteers. This unit fought in the Philippine Islands for six months, suffering causalities from both battle and disease. The regiment returned to America, and on October 31, 1899 was mustered out of federal service.

tumwater soldiers monument

This postcard shows how the Soldiers’ Monument appeared circa 1905. Photo courtesy private collection.

As early as May 1899 planning and fund raising efforts started in Olympia for a memorial for the First Washington Regiment soldiers who perished in the war. These efforts had stalled by 1900.

Then on February 16, 1900 the local Masonic group, Olympia Lodge #1 F&AM, decided to present to the Washington State government a section of land in their Tumwater cemetery for the burial of First Washington Regiment dead. This generous offer was promptly accepted by the state.

Olympia witnessed an event on March 18, 1900 that brought together both local people and visitors.  Elaborate memorial services were held on that date in the Olympia Opera House on 4th Avenue for nine unclaimed dead from the First Washington Regiment. Afterwards, their bodies were brought in a procession to the Masonic Cemetery and buried in the land donated by the lodge. An estimated 3,000 people attended the ceremony at the cemetery. Later a tenth soldier was interned next to his comrades.

A growing number of people now felt that a monument was needed to honor the Washington State soldiers who fought and died in the Spanish-American/Philippine-American War.  In December 1900, Adjutant General Edward Fox of the Washington National Guard suggested in a report to Governor John Rogers that part of the money appropriated by the state legislature for the burial of soldiers could be used to erect a monument at the Masonic cemetery.

The suggestion met with general public approval. On February 16, 1901 the Washington House of Representatives approved the creation of a monument at the cemetery. Three days later, however, the Senate voted for a monument that would be placed at Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia. This difference in opinion might reflect a nation-wide debate at the time on whether memorials should be located in cemeteries or parks.

tumwater soldiers monument

The Soldiers’ Monument in Tumwater’s Masonic Memorial Park honors those from Washington State who fought in the Spanish-American/Philippine-American War. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

Negotiations led to an agreement by both houses on March 11: $2500 would be appropriated for a soldier’s monument overlooking the graves at the Masonic Cemetery. Governor Rogers signed the bill later in March, and a committee was set up to choose a builder for the monument. Members included the Governor, Adjutant General Fox, and Colonel J. J. Weisenburger. After several delays, the committee picked William C. Crosbie of Seattle on June 6, 1901 to do the project.

By January 25, 1902 the memorial’s bronze statue arrived in Olympia. Soon the work of erecting the monument at the Masonic Cemetery began. The Morning Olympian newspaper on February 15 reported that the Soldiers’ Monument had been completed, and added that the memorial “has the appearance of permanence which would indicate that it could stand for ages.” Henry McBride, who became Governor of Washington after the death of John Rogers on December 26, 1901, officially inspected the monument on the first day of March in 1902.

Ground beautification work would come later (in 1903), but the Soldiers’ Monument now stood near the ten graves of those who died in the Spanish-American/Philippine-American War. This statute became the center point of local Memorial Day ceremonies on May 30, 1902. Many people attended what was in a sense the dedication of the memorial.

For a time the Soldiers’ Monument was a center of Memorial Day activities in Thurston County. Later the holiday’s local focus switched to the State Capital Campus with the construction of memorials honoring individuals from more recent wars. However, the Soldiers’ Monument has remained part of Memorial Day observations. Just recently a Boy Scout Eagle project added next to the memorial two flag poles flying the United States and POW-MIA flags. Thoughtful visitors to the cemetery, now known as Masonic Memorial Park, can still see the stature and remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for their country over a century ago.

Note:  The First Washington Regiment dead buried near the Soldiers’ Monument in Tumwater’s Masonic Cemetery include Corporal Henry Leinbacher, Company G; Privates F. C. Bushman, Company K; Daniel Campbell, Company M; Damian Grossman, Company C; Frank A. Lovejoy, Company C; Nickolas C. Polley, Company D; Edward H. Perry, Company I; Albert J. Ruppert, Company H; Frank Smith, Company E; and John Smith, Company K. Also Rev. John R. Thompson, Chaplain for the First Washington Regiment, is interred elsewhere in the cemetery.

Acknowledgments: I wish to thank the staff of the Washington State Library and the Masonic Memorial Park for their helpful assistance during the research phase of this article.


Deb Ross: Local Volunteer and Author Pens Historic Novel Set in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 7:20am



By Gale Hemmann

capital medical centerListening. It’s a valuable skill, and one that often goes unnoticed in our society. Whether it’s listening to families to help connect them with social services, or “listening” to the stories told by history, listening is something Deb Ross does very well.

Deb Ross wears many hats in the community. From volunteering to researching local history, the common thread is Ross’ interest in people and her compassion for their stories. Ross and I met at Phoebe’s Pastry Café in West Olympia to talk more about her writing and life work. She is always listening to or writing about others, so I wanted to ask Ross more about her own story. Over coffee, the warm and personable Ross told me about her new book, Tales from Schneider’s Creek, and her involvement in the community.

deb ross olympia

From volunteering to writing about an historical Olympia family, Deb Ross is deeply involved in the community. Courtesy of Deb Ross

Ross was born in Manhattan, and grew up along the East Coast. She moved to Olympia 25 years ago where she met her future husband, Brian Hovis. After a career in law and energy policy, Ross shifted to part-time work while she raised her young son. She started looking for volunteer opportunities in the area. Ross soon found herself involved with many groups, from the prairie restoration work to the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  At OUUC, she sings in the choir and is co-chair of the Pastoral Care Team, a listening ministry of the church. She is a long-time member of Samba Olywa.

A friend suggested she talk to Shelly Willis, who was starting Family Education and Support Services (FESS). The two met, and Ross began volunteering in 2000. She has been a key part of the organization’s work ever since.

Using Compassion to Connect Families and Resources

Family Education and Support Services provides resources, education and classes for parents and families in our community. Deb Ross has provided office support since before the organization was formally founded, creating a database and helping the fledgling nonprofit develop their infrastructure in countless ways. For nearly 15 years, Ross has volunteered about 30 hours a month answering phones, registering families for classes, and helping out wherever needed.

I spoke with Shelly Willis, Executive Director at Family Education and Support Services. She can’t say enough about what Deb’s work has meant to her and the organization over the years. Willis says Ross was motivated to volunteer because of her own role as a mother and her desire to help parents connect with resources they need. Her kind nature puts people who call or visit FESS at ease. Willis says of Ross, “She gets along with everyone. Deb is a role model that other parents can not only look up to, but rely on as well.” In fact, Ross even got her son Jamie Hovis interested in volunteering – he has helped out at FESS and other groups.

deb ross olympia

Konrad Schneider’s son, Henry, with his wife Myrta. The stories of Konrad’s children unfold in Ross’ book, Tales from Schneider’s Creek. Courtesy of Deb Ross

Willis says Deb Ross has been invaluable because she is always paying attention to people’s needs and how the organization can better meet them. “She’s a great listener,” says Willis. For example, her listening skills and calm demeanor have been very helpful in talking to people who are signing up for a divorce class. Ross also currently edits the Family Education and Support Services newsletter, which Willis says has been helpful in letting people know more about what the organization does. Ross suggested having someone present to greet and direct people for a Saturday class, and the suggestion improved attendance dramatically. She also suggested having resources available in multiple languages. She has also updated the agency’s written resources to reflect broader understandings of what it means to be a family. “She’s always paying attention – she’s very detail-oriented,” says Willis.

Willis says Ross’ volunteer work has been absolutely vital in getting the organization where it is today. “We literally couldn’t have done it without her,” she notes.

A New Book: Tales from Schneider’s Creek Chronicles Life of Olympia Family

Another occasion for my meeting with Deb Ross? She recently published her second book, Tales from Schneider’s Creek. This busy community volunteer also has a love of local history. In 2009, she published the book Konrad and Albertina, about an early Olympia-area family. The book was based on historical research about Konrad Schneider and his family, real Olympia residents. Intrigued by accounts of the Schneiders in historic newspapers, Ross began delving into the Schneider family history, initiating a project that has now lasted ten years.

One wonderful outcome of her first book is that it brought together many of the Schneiders’ descendants, some of whom had never met and many of whom still live locally. The family and Ross were given a personal tour of the New Dungeness lighthouse Konrad Schneider once built. Her work has made a lasting impact on the family – just one more example of how Ross lends her thoughtful and caring nature to everything she does.

deb ross olympia

One of Konrad Schneider’s descendants, Ron Secrist, examines a brick at the New Dungeness Lighthouse Konrad built. Courtesy of Deb Ross

Her new book, Tales from Schneider’s Creek, continues to follow the Schneider family. It follows each of Konrad Schneider’s nine children as their lives unfold against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Olympia. The book is the culmination of six years of research and writing. For both books, Ross says her approach was to write them as “historical fiction,” based in fact but giving Ross permission to create dialogue and use her imagination to bring the characters to life. She wanted her books to appeal not only to history buffs but to anyone who enjoys a good story and is curious about what life was like in Olympia at the time.

Ross devoted a lot of time to developing each character. Ever the meticulous researcher, she used historical sources as well as interviews with Konrad’s descendants and local historians to flesh out each character’s personality and story. In fact, to better understand the struggles of one of the sons, Ross enlisted the help of a local psychologist friend. She provided him with some historical records and the draft of her book, and asked him to analyze and “diagnose” the character. She used this information to craft his character in a way that was likely true-to-life.

Having thoroughly explored their stories, Ross is ready to let the characters of Schneider’s Creek out into the world to meet readers. She says she is getting ready for her next project, though she’s not sure what that will be yet. With Ross, you can be sure it will be something interesting, and something that will impact people in a positive way.

deb ross olympia

A well-known community member, Konrad Schneider has a large monument at the Masonic Memorial Park in Tumwater. Courtesy of Deb Ross

You can order The Tales from Schneider’s Creek on Amazon and as a Kindle e-book. Orca Books will soon be carrying copies. And Ross anticipates that copies will be available at the Olympia Timberland Library in the near future.

There will be a special book release event at the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Saturday, December 6, 2014. In an interesting coincidence, the church also happens to sit on property once owned by the Schneiders. If you are interested in attending, please email Deb Ross at for details.

Ross’ books about the Schneiders stemmed from her work at the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, her other major volunteer role. She serves as the webmaster, handles outreach, and writes the newsletter for the society. (They recently added the 400th location to the “Where Are We?” interactive map on their website, a milestone for which Ross penned this ThurstonTalk article.) She also travels weekly to Tacoma to catalog the State Capital Museum’s photograph collection, now housed at the Washington State Historical Society. Clearly, to Ross, whether they are historical or contemporary, people’s stories matter.

As we wound down our interview, I reflected on what a pleasure it was to meet Deb Ross. Though very modest about her accomplishments, Ross is truly one of the people who make great things happen here in Olympia. In fact, she and her husband were honored with the City of Olympia’s prestigious Heritage Award for their work.

To learn more about the work Family Education and Support Services does in the community, visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook.


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