Recent local blog posts

Olympia High School Students Travel to New Orleans to Help Families Get Back into Their Homes

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 6:00am



By Donna Wilson

olympia furnitureOn the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a group of Olympia High School students volunteered to spend their spring break building houses and helping families in New Orleans. The experience was so powerful that they already knew how they would be spending their next spring break.

Two years ago, Olympia High School (OHS) Principal, Matt Grant, learned about Shirts Across America, a student organized Seattle-based organization that helps move families into new homes in New Orleans and Mississippi. Principal Grant told his OHS students about the organization and its mission. To his surprise, 24 students were interested in offering up their spring break to lend a helping hand. Most of these students were in the OHS club Students Together Advocating for Non-Violence and Diversity (STAND).

olympia high school

Olympia High School students sit inside a house they have been working on. One of the hardest parts of the trip to New Orleans was building in the 90 degree heat.

The group of 24 students and four adult chaperones prepared for the trip earlier this spring by learning more about the injustices happening in New Orleans such as poverty and racism. Grant says one aspect of the trip was to learn more about the situation. “We need to understand the social systems that made this happen,” he explains.

As students, educators and parents prepared, a few of the students were trained as core team leaders to help chaperones facilitate the trip. These students went on a leadership retreat and spent time learning about New Orleans. “I am much more tuned to the needs of people and communities outside of what I see before me,” says core team leader Sitara Nath. “To be in touch with the world and aware of your role and impact is a real gift, and I was lucky to find that during this very meaningful week. The trip impacted my goals in that I plan to prioritize this kind of service throughout my life so that I always remain in touch with that strong dedication and desire to change the world, one step at a time.”

When the students landed in New Orleans, they got straight to work, spending 6 to 8 hours a day building, painting, cleaning, putting floors down, and building fences with AmeriCorps students. The rest of the time was spent exploring the town through a series of scavenger hunts.

olympia high school

Here the group stands outside one of the houses. 10,000 people still have not been able to come back to their homes in the greater New Orleans area.

In addition to making a difference in the lives of others, students agree that a highlight of the trip was enjoying the food, arts and entertainment that New Orleans is known for. “One night we went out to the French District and ate together as a group — all 200 of us — at an amazing historic restaurant called Antoine’s,” says future core team leader Claire McGahern. “[It was] super fun and had fantastic food. That’s another thing I learned about New Orleans, you can’t go wrong with the food.”

When the group returned, they shared their experience with their peers during an “Oly Love” assembly. Sharing stories and memories, the students didn’t even think twice about it — they knew they would have to go back again next year.

Sixty students have already signed up to go back to New Orleans this coming spring break. “I love talking about meeting the homeowners of the houses I worked on,” explains Claire. “People brought us food, gave us hugs. They were so thankful. It was really touching.”

Julisa Brock will be a core team leader this coming year. “I came home and shared the amazing experience I had down there and how it has impacted my life and that problems don’t just go away,” she says. “I do know that I will want to continue to go to New Orleans, and continue to make change for people who do not necessarily have a voice.”

A common theme for everyone that went on this trip was that they felt very blessed and thankful for the lives they have. Student Eric Carpenter says, “The trip to New Orleans has made me want to give back to my community and country. It really made me realize how well off I am compared to many others. In my future I would love to be able to go back and help more people get back into their homes. For me the hardest part was seeing all the people who still couldn’t return to their homes because they couldn’t afford to repair them after the hurricane.”

olympia high school

The group had so much fun experiencing the vibrant New Orleans culture, including this historic church.

Feelings of gratitude and a desire to give have propelled this group of students to return to New Orleans next year, but the insight and perspective these students have gained is much more far reaching. “I’ve definitely gained a greater understanding of my role in a larger community outside just OHS or Olympia,” Sitara explains. “There’s so much that still needs to be done in New Orleans but what I did in that week suddenly showed me that as individuals, we have a responsibility to live up to our roles in communities in and outside our own.”


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 6:00am



Chilly mornings and chilly evenings (and chilly soccer practices) signal the impending arrival of fall.  The events calendar reflects this change, too, with fewer outdoor festivals and community parades among our listings.  However, the shift to fall encourages engagement with our community in other ways.  Try a new restaurant.  Take in a local theater productions.  Investigate fall leaves in your favorite parks.  Fall happens to be my favorite season and I look forward to all things pumpkin spice, the return of scarves and boots and channeling my competitive nature into sideline soccer cheers. Thurston County may be sliding into fall, but it’s not sliding into inactivity and our weekend event calendar reflects the many happenings you can choose from whether its chilly and foggy or sun-shiny. While we highlight many happenings around town in our list below, don’t forget to visit our full events calendar at for many more.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our events calendar.


Terry Shaw Hitting All the Right Notes at Rainier and Timberline

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

creative officeMcKoy Bichler does a little bit of everything for the Rainier High School football program. On offense, you can start him at either quarterback or running back. It doesn’t really matter – he’s going to pick up yardage one way or another.

Need a kick returner on special teams? He’s your guy. Have a void on the defensive side? He can play a variety of positions.

Yes, last year’s 2B Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year can find success on the football field no matter where you plug him in.

terry shaw

Rainier High School head football coach, Terry Shaw, pumps up his team during practice.

Heck, the versatile senior could probably sing the National Anthem prior to kickoff if called upon.

Bichler would be the first to admit, however, he’s hardly a singer. But if they were really in a pinch, he would step up. And the best thing is he wouldn’t have to look very far to find the perfect singing instructor. All he would have to do is turn to his football coach.

Terry Shaw is a contradiction. Not only is he the Mountaineers head football coach, he also teaches choir at Timberline High School – a seemingly odd combination. He’s detailing how to defend against the Wing-T offense during one part of his day, while serving up breathing exercises during another.

And he’s exceling at both of them.

“The first time I heard (he coached football and taught choir) I am not sure I believed it,” Bichler said. “It seems like two completely different things.”

On the surface, it definitely appears that way, but when you talk to Shaw, it all makes sense.

“They are actually very similar,” said Shaw, who also teaches weight training at Timberline High School. “It’s a team working towards something together. It’s a game in football, a concert for choir. There’s always going to be sub-groups within that team, but the goal for everyone is to be our best selves.”

Shaw had two passions growing up – music and football.

He took up the piano and began playing at his church at a young age. By the time he started high school, football entered the scene.

terry shaw

When not coaching Rainier football, Terry Shaw leads choirs at Timberline High School.

A 1995 graduate of Bellarmine Prep, Shaw was recruited to play football at Central Washington University, but elected to go with the music route, eventually earning a music education degree from Pacific Lutheran University.

“Music won out,” said Shaw, who also earned a Masters of Music degree from Boston University in 2007, “but I knew with teaching if I wanted to coach, that would always be something I could do.”

It was during his junior year at PLU that Shaw formed the Olympia Choral Society in 1998. The goal was to create a community choir with a focus on giving back to local charities. It started with just 17 singers. It now features nearly 100.

“We offer free concerts. We do a lot of fundraisers,” Shaw said. “We figure it doesn’t cost us anything to open our mouths and sing.”

Since making its first donation in 1999, the OCS has donated more than $150,000 to local charities, many of which benefit children in the South Puget Sound Area and, beginning in 2003, includes an annual scholarship program for South Sound high school seniors who intend to study vocal/choral music in college.

He found similar success when he started at Timberline in 2001. Back then the school had two choirs with 37 students. Under his tutelage, the program has since grown to six choirs with more than 180 students and has performed all over the county, including performing twice at Carnegie Hall.

It seems Shaw makes an impact on a program wherever he goes. It’s been no different with Rainier football.

The year prior to Shaw coming aboard, the Mountaineers won one game. They were shutout four times and had games where they gave up 52, 62, 63 and 70 points.

Bichler, a freshman back then, can remember teammates quitting midseason out of frustration.

terry shaw timberline

Terry Shaw believes that there are many similarities to leading a choir and coaching a football team.  Photo courtesy: North Thurston Public Schools.

“No one wanted to be a part of it before,” Bichler said, “but since Coach Shaw took over, people are excited about Rainier football again.”

Shaw injected some much needed enthusiasm into the Mountaineers. As expected, things started slow. The team won three games in 2013 before going 6-4 last year – the team’s first winning season since 2008.

Things have continued to ascend this year as Rainier is 2-0 on the season, having defeated South Bend (58-20) and Kittitas (34-6).

“A lot of our starters were freshmen and sophomores when we began. They’ve now been under this system for two years,” Shaw said. “When we started, we told them if they were willing to buy in and willing to work hard, we wanted them around. And they’ve done that.”

The Mountaineers haven’t made the state playoffs since 1992 when they lost in the 2B state championship game to DeSales. Despite a 23-year hiatus from the state playoffs, Shaw has the squad hitting all the right notes early on in the season, causing the players to believe history could repeat itself.

“Alec Miller, one of the seniors on the team, his dad was a running back on that Rainier team that got second in state,” Bichler said. “It has us thinking déjà vu.”

As gifted a teacher Shaw is, one wonders what it would be like if he started to mix and match his students.

Could he teach some altos cover-2? Or perhaps turn his front seven into a jazz vocal choir?

“He’s tried before to teach us how to hit those high notes,” Bichler said.

And how did that go?

“I’ll stick with football,” Bichler said with a laugh.


DKB Restoration Follows DfE Environmental Guidelines

Thurston Talk - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 6:00am



carpet cleaning olympia

Using Design for the Environment green cleaning technology, DKB Restoration keeps your carpets yuck-free.

The Pacific Northwest is a haven of green, both in our physical environment and our lifestyle decisions. We prefer to shop locally, organically, and stay mindful of the effects of purchases on our health and nature.

As a nation, the federal Environmental Protection Agency began a program called Design for the Environment in 1992. Historically, the “Design for the Environment (DfE) Program began in the early 1990s as an innovative, non-regulatory initiative to help companies consider human health, environmental and economic effects of chemicals and technologies, as well as product performance, when designing and manufacturing commercial products and processes.” Initially emphasizing safer chemicals for household and professional use, it has grown to include safer labeling guidelines as well.

Green Cleaning Magazine reports that “more than three-quarters of business decision-makers purchase green products and most believe the role of the environment will increase in the future, indicating that the green movement is here to stay.”

Locally, Olympia’s DKB Restoration offers carpet protection using DfE certified cleaning products. Owner Daniel Baxter explains that “oily soils produced from cooking vapors, pets, and even oils from our skin cannot be removed by regular vacuuming. These oily contaminants can cause your carpet to look dingy or dirty. The longer these things are allowed to build up the more difficult it is to remove them.”

carpet cleaning olympia

Stains from spills, pet hair, dirt, and allergens disappear almost immediately.

Once DKB Restoration has thoroughly cleaned your carpets, they offer the option to add a separate DfE coating which costs $75 for a 1,200 square foot home. This coating “helps keep spills and dirt from becoming stains,” explains Baxter. “I even use it in my own home.”

Because the DfE process keeps spills from sticking to the carpet fibers, your routine vacuuming becomes more efficient. Studies also show that application after every carpet cleaning helps carpets last longer overall.

Baxter belongs to an industry group which meets regularly to share product information, new technology, and trending statistics. It is his commitment to research and providing the best service and materials possible that has earned him so many favorable reviews on such consumer sites as Angie’s List, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau.

Steve Jobs encouraged people to “be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” After a successful stint in the Army, Baxter’s life changed at the hands of a drunk driver. While recuperating from injuries, he began working in the carpet cleaning industry with the same precision and focus instilled by his military career. His pride, knowledge, and community focus are embodied through his work ethic and satisfied customer testimonials.

olympia carpet cleaning

Dan Baxter and his DKB Restoration team have even found lost jewelry and gemstones when cleaning dirty carpets.

DfE products are less common because their continued Federal certification means they cost more than the standard solutions. But reducing long-term effects of harmful chemicals on our children, pets, and homes make them well worth the price.

DKB Restoration offers free phone estimates for cleaning carpets, upholstery, ductwork, and dryer vents. Their work is 100% satisfaction guaranteed and before and after photos can be found on their website.

You can reach Dan and his team by calling 360-688-4392. Watch videos of their cleaning methods here.

Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson once warned that “The most important environmental issue is one that is rarely mentioned, and that is the lack of a conservation ethic in our culture.” But in the 45 years since the holiday began, local businesses like DKB Restoration prove that the green ethic is not only alive and well but affordable and available to everyone.

Man with a Gun: A Night in the Life of an Olympia Police Officer

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 11:08pm

Above: Olympia Police Department Officer Jeff Davis on walking patrol in downtown Olympia last Saturday night.
By Janine
The whistle blows, and the time between 5:00 p.m. into the wee hours in downtown Olympia becomes a time of transition.
If it’s a weekday, people are typically getting off work and going out to eat. On any day of the week, the same crowd or new folks may arrive to go to live shows or the theater.
Later, a different crowd arrives for nightclubbing, music events, and bar hopping. The clientele and the mood shifts, and certain activities escalate. Risk factors go up after 11:00 p.m., often due to excessive alcohol use, and people may do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do.
Six officers work the night patrol in Olympia, one each in the neighborhoods: downtown, northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest, and a roving car.
Because of recent events, such as the officer involved shooting of two men on May 21 and subsequent demonstrations, the department brings in five extra officers on Friday and Saturday nights.
Neighboring agencies such as the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department, Tumwater, Lacey, and the Washington State Patrol are available to assist as needed.
Lt. Aaron Jelcick of the Olympia Police Department says that this mutual aid agreement has been needed four to five times in the last four to five weeks.
To learn more about Olympia Police Department activities, Little Hollywood shadowed Olympia police officers Jeff Davis and Kory Pearce on Saturday night, September 12. 
I learned that an evening on patrol can change quickly, from routine smiles and handshakes, to a “hot” call from dispatch: a man with a gun.
A Busy Saturday Evening
Meeting Officer Jeff Davis at the Olympia Police Department, we start our walk around downtown shortly after 7:00 p.m.
Standing 6’3'', and weighing 260 pounds, Officer Davis, 36, lives in Lewis County and has worked for the department for nine years. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Coast Guard for four years conducting law enforcement on the water and has traveled around the world.
With two new officers sworn in last week, Officer Jeff Herbig was promoted to sergeant and Officer Davis replaced him on downtown walking patrol.
Asked how he prepares for work - five days on, four days off – Davis says he appreciates his 45 minute commute to mentally prepare to do the job.
“You never know what’s going to happen….”
Davis has no particular route, but knows where the hot spots are and checks them out. We head for the artesian well on Fourth Avenue.
Greeting many individuals by name all night long, Davis uses a friendly-sounding, random combination of phrases: ‘Hello, how are you, what’s going on? Anything I need to know about?’ In return, they greet him by name, all smiles, and sometimes give him a verbal tip or two about what’s going on.
Folks around the well immediately ask Davis for stickers, but he tells them he worked Olympia High School’s Spaghetti Bowl the night before and gave out all his stickers and glow sticks. They are bummed.
Eleven minutes into our patrol, as we walk past The Pet Works, Davis is approached by a young man who tells him that a man is having a seizure or something on the sidewalk, and points to the area near the corner of Fourth and Adams.
Davis calls it into dispatch, calmly waits for the crossing signals, and then approaches the scene. Onlookers surround a man in his thirties seated on a stool. A woman is standing near him, holding up his head. Davis puts on blue gloves, and speaks softly, asking a series of questions typical for a first responder. 
Two more officers, Officers Hirotaka and Reisher, arrive out of nowhere and stand by.
After a few minutes, the man snaps out of his state. He says he is a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder issues and the woman is his girlfriend. He refuses further assistance and we move on down Fourth Avenue.
Two women are trying to take a selfie with the “I love Olympia” mural as a backdrop and Davis offers to take the picture for them. He does so, and they love it.
We walk down Washington Street, stepping over several inebriated men lying on the sidewalk outside Caffé Vitta. Public inebriation is not a crime, Davis explains, but some businesses are more tolerant than others about people lying in front of their businesses.
Davis speaks with a couple of men sleeping in front of Furniture Works. We stop in the Alano Club on Olympia Avenue and chat with patrons, ask how things are going, and then walk towards Percival Landing.
Walking firmly ahead of me, Davis sees something and approaches two young men in the alley behind Zeigler’s Welding, announces his presence, and asks what they are doing.
“Just passing through!” one man says, and quickly darts off. He never looks back.
“Good answer!” Davis yells after him. Davis speaks to the other man, who gathers up his things and moves along, as do we.
Often, people approach Davis to shake his hand and thank him for being out and about or ask him questions.
The questions vary. Many folks say they are new in town and wonder where the nearest bathroom is located. One young man asked if it was against the law to climb a utility pole. He had witnessed someone doing that earlier.
We encounter an employee of the Olympia Parks and Recreation department near the playground who informs Officer Davis that he just locked the restrooms for the night, and they discuss the fact that the restroom on Sylvester Street near the Oyster House has now been closed for the season due to ongoing drug use and needle issues.
At 8:00 p.m., Davis’ Fitbit vibrates, and he announces that he has just logged 10,000 steps for the day so far, equaling five miles. He says he typically walks 10 – 12 miles a shift. 
We walk over to the blighted, vacant, nine story Capitol Center Building and Officer Davis is now using his flashlight to check the bushes. He finds that there are beds empty and ready.
Vehicle prowls are a problem in downtown Olympia and the police sometimes patrol the darker parking lots, looking for suspicious activity.
Heading back to the station, we walk through a lot of alleys. Davis says he likes foot patrol. 
“You miss a lot in a car, even on a bike….”
Above: In a downtown alley, Olympia Police Department Officer Kory Pearce stands by while Officer Jeff Davis speaks with three men.
After Dark: Walking Patrol in Pairs
Back at the station, we’re ready to go out with Officer Kory Pearce. Pearce, 50, says he is ten days shy of 24 years with the Olympia Police Department. Seated at his desk, he’s doing paperwork. His shift ends at 3:00 a.m.
A traffic officer who works by motorcycle, he’s on duty Saturday night as backup, as is Davis. He’s had a busy week with school back in session and on Monday, he starts a two week basic collision investigation class through the Criminal Justice Training Commission.
A proud father and grandfather, Pearce points out pictures of his family. He lives in Graham, Pierce County, 23 miles away “doorstep to doorstep.” He lived there when he got out of the military and didn’t want to uproot his children from their friends and schools when he started with the department. 
Asked when he will retire, Pearce said, “I’m eligible to retire in three years but I’ll probably do five, unless I have two bad days in a row!” he joked.  “Not everyone can do this job….I’m a dad and a husband - this is what I do for fun,” he laughs. 
At least one tattoo on his arm is visible and reads, “It’s All About Winning” in fancy script.
Pearce says he’s seen a lot of changes in his years as an officer.
“We had a lot of problems (in the past) but not of this magnitude. There weren’t as many services, but there weren’t as many less fortunate, homeless people...we didn’t have as many services for them as we do now, shelter, meals, outreach programs. Community Youth Services was just getting underway….”
When ask I him what he’d like people to know about the police, he said, “Don’t believe what you read or hear….nothing against you, but the media is in the business of sharing stories, and the story people get is this much,” Pearce says, holding his thumb and finger close.
“....Good police service - that’s our goal every day. If I show up disheveled or acting like I don’t care, who are you going to tell? A friend. Then that person tells someone…and that gets spread around.”
Both Davis and Pearce complimented Amy Stull, the police department’s community liaison, and her team of volunteers.
“We could not accomplish what we accomplish without her and her entry, speed traps in school zones, house checks, Lakefair, parades, the Toy Run…you name it….” they said.
It's time to head out bar hopping of a different sort. It’s karaoke night at our first stop, McCoy’s, and as the woman finishes a profanity-laced version of Nicki Minaj’s, “Starships” song, she apologizes for her performance, saying that the cops made her nervous.
“You’re the one who took her picture,” Pearce quips to me as we leave out the back door.
Pearce is an edgy type, and a quick-witted joker. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when he’s joking.
A young man loaded down with a backpack and gear near McMenamin’s approaches Pearce. He says he’s new in town and wonders if there’s a bad part of town that he should stay away from.
With a straight face, Pearce says, “From the Fourth Ave Bridge to Plum.”
“That’s the whole town,” responds the guy.
It took a while for the guy to get the joke. Pearce said to just keep an eye out and he’ll be fine.
Davis and Pearce take turns checking in with bartenders or staff to see if everything is good. At the Eastside, the Fourth Ave Tav, and the Brotherhood, it’s the same: heads turn, some conversation and pool playing stops, and people silently wonder why the police are in the bar. Davis says he sometimes feels like he has a third eye.
“Most people figure something’s going on, that we were called here…they wanna know what the story is....” says Davis.
Across the street from the Brotherhood on Capitol Way, we find a car that has parked directly in the path of an alley, and the officers call it in.
Eugenio, the owner of Trinacria, comes out to greet the officers and they all chat for a few moments.
As we walk from Capitol Way up Fourth Avenue, people sit outside the busy Grandpa’s Ice Cream shop and shout out thanks to the officers for being out and about.
At the corner near Childhood’s End Gallery, a man asks where the nearest convenience store is, and he is directed to Bayview. He walks along with us since we are headed that way also.
Turns out, the man is a member of the U.S.S. Olympia crew, in town for the Foofaraw celebration sponsored by the Thurston Chamber of Commerce. He went on a helicopter ride earlier in the day. Stationed in Hawaii, he says he’s never been to Washington State before but has fallen in love with it in the last few days.
From Bayview Thriftway, we cross Fourth Avenue, cross Fifth Avenue and walk down under the bridge and along the railroad. 
A virtual tent city is underneath the bridge. When I ask about unreported crime and assaults, including sexual assaults, the officers say there's a lot among the homeless, who have their own cliques. The crimes may be unreported due to their warrant status or they may be worried about retaliation.
Above: Under the Fourth Avenue Bridge.
The officers use their flashlights, verbally announce themselves, and rouse residents, informing them that they are trespassing and could get ticketed. No tickets are issued. We walk along the railroad tracks and the officers point out debris, and various hazards, such as open, used needles.
Along Deschutes Parkway, we notice six orange luminarias floating in the sky over Heritage Park.
As we get closer, Pearce jokes that it’s a good thing this isn’t their problem because the park is under the responsibility of the Washington State Patrol. Amazingly dangerous, people are lighting pieces of coal to float flimsy paper lanterns. The officers walk by the participants who seem to be part of a wedding party drifting out from the Waterstreet Café.
Above: Floating a paper luminaria in Heritage Park.
In this suspicious climate against officers, I asked Davis what he would like people to know about the police.
Thinking a moment, he says, “…Everybody thinks we’re not trained, but we are…and I can say there are people in this profession who probably shouldn’t be, just like any other profession, but don’t generalize me into that group. Most of us are out here to make a difference and to help somebody, and that’s ultimately why I got into this profession - to do that. If you happen to catch a bad guy sometimes, that makes it great - the chance to hold somebody accountable for their actions.”
Asked about the possible use of body cameras, both Officers Davis and Pearce were supportive of their use.
Pearce said they’re a double-edged sword with the biggest issue being public disclosure requests.  
That’s about as far as we got when a couple of young men jaywalked across Legion Way right in front of us. They thought they were busted, and when they found out they weren’t, they peppered the officers with several questions about policing.
Davis’ response to my question about body cameras was enthusiastic.
“I would love to see body or dashboard cams…I’m all for them…they’re great! They tell a story – you can literally pop it in and hit play and it sets the tone.” He explained that some kinds of dashboard cams can go back two minutes when an officer “hits” their lights, which is useful in suspected driving while intoxicated stops.
He acknowledged that cameras will catch police officers doing “good stuff and stupid stuff.”
 “….We don’t get to interact too much with normal people – the people who call in are facing an immediate threat or problem, whether they are a victim or a suspect….I know when I do police work, I do a good job at it…and I follow all policies and procedures. I’m not worried….”
At 10:00 p.m., we walk out of Hannah’s, where people are singing karaoke and having a good time. I make the mistake of saying how quiet it is for a Saturday night.
Officer Davis kindly admonishes me and says there are two unwritten rules in law enforcement: one, never say it’s slow, and two, never say it’s quiet, because things can change quickly.
About a half hour later, we respond to a call from dispatch: a man with a gun is at the Emperor’s Palace restaurant on Cooper Point Road. 
Above: The Olympia Police Department's computer screen alerts officers to police activities in progress. 
Hot Call: Man with a Gun
At the Olympia Police Department, we had just parted company with Officer Pearce when the call came in. A man with a gun was at the Emperor's Palace restaurant on Cooper Point Road. A shot had been fired.
Immediately, officers poured out the doors and hopped into police vehicles of all types. Officer Davis and I jumped into a squad car and quickly traveled west through town on Fifth Avenue. I remember seeing the gawking faces of pedestrians as we zoomed by Hannah’s.
I sat in the front seat while Davis drove tight turns through the roundabouts, up Harrison hill, and through the intersection of Harrison and Division, with sirens wailing and lights flashing. We were going 70 miles per hour.
At some point back in the roundabouts, I wondered aloud if all this was really necessary. Officer Davis asked if what was necessary. My question was answered when a car in our lane slowed us down by not getting out of the way.
Davis drove around to the back of Macy’s Furniture Gallery where several police officers were already gathered. Officer Davis jumped out, ran up to the situation and, crouching low, pulled out his gun and aimed it at the suspect while two officers were in the process of handcuffing him. Within seconds, Davis put his gun back in its holster.
After a few moments, Officer Davis came back to the car and explained the situation: A man had become unruly in Emperor’s Palace, pulled out a gun, and shot a round into the air. He fled in the direction of Goodwill and went through the trees toward the back of the Target Plaza store.
Davis drove around to the area near Goodwill and told me not to leave the car. I had no intention of getting out.
Davis picked up a witness to the situation and we drove her back to the scene. Shining the car’s spotlight on the man, she identified him as the man she saw leave the plaza with a gun in his back pocket. Several other witnesses also identified the man and were interviewed.
Later, Officer Pearce, who was also suddenly on the scene, showed me on the car’s computer screen that the call came into dispatch at 22:34, and police were on site at 22:36. All told, ten officers were on the scene, and two supervisors.
For Officer Davis, the night was still young when I left him just after midnight. He didn’t mind me continuing on with him, as he would be on duty until 7:00 a.m., but I had seen enough for one night.
Thinking of all the people and situations we had encountered, I wondered what else would happen that night for Officer Davis. I had a hard time sleeping.
Above: Officer Kory Pearce's flashlight shines upon used hypodermic needles and related drug paraphernalia under the Fourth Avenue Bridge.

Orca Books Reading: Novelist Anita Feng presents "Sid"

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 6:48pm
Event:  Sat, 09/19/2015 - 7:00pm

 Anita Feng will be reading from her new book "Sid" at Orca Books. This is a free event, all are welcome. Orca Books is located at 509 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia.

About the book:

What would the life of Buddha look like if it were lived today? Anita Feng has crafted in" Sid" a delightful jewel that captures both the classic story of the Buddha, as well a deeply personal and familiar reflection of the story in a contemporary retelling. "Sid" weaves the traditional tale of Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be with the story of Sid, an everyman who finds himself waking up amid the reality of work and family life in the modern world. Returning to the standard tale with careful consideration of the relationships in Buddha's life--to his wife, parents, and child--Feng's narrative embodies the Mahayana perspective of living one's enlightenment in the world.
Beautifully told in poetic prose, "Sid" teaches that the key to the story of the Buddha's life is that the story could be about any of us. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Orca Books Reading: Essayist Mark Rozema, "Road Trip"

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 6:45pm
Event:  Fri, 09/18/2015 - 7:00pm

Orca is delighted to welcome author Mark Rozema to the store. Mark will be reading from Road Trip, his new collection of essays. This is a FREE event at Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia.

Road Trip is a collection of autobiographical essays that honor the places, people and other living creatures that have given shape and meaning to one man’s life. Framed by essays about the life and death of loved ones, the book explores the importance of family, friendship and what it means to care for another human being. Above all, Road Trip is about transformations that happen in ways we may not always understand or welcome—it’s about traveling down unknown and unexpected roads with good humor, generosity and a spirit of adventure. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Betty Sapp Ragan Retrospective at UPS

South Sound Arts - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:48pm

Photo: “Boxed,” hand-colored photo collage by Betty Sapp Ragan, collection of Mac Ragan, photo by Ross Mulhausen.
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 17, 2015

“Boxed,” hand-colored photo collage by Betty Sapp Ragan, collection of Mac Ragan, photo by Ross Mulhausen.
I regret that I did not get to see more work by Betty Sapp Ragan or get to know her personally before she died in May 2014. I reviewed a couple of group shows she was in, and I had the pleasure of visiting her studio during last year’s Tacoma Studio Art Tour, where I talked to her about the latest series of paintings she was working on. Now, having seen her retrospective exhibition at Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound, I am convinced that she was an underrated artist — a talent worthy of celebration and honor.The retrospective surveys  45 years of her paintings, prints, mixed-media objects, and photographs. It was curated by Becky Frehse, instructor, and Janet Marcavage, associate professor in the Art Department at UPS, in collaboration with the artist’s son, Mac Ragan.Untitled (from Geometry Rising series), by Betty Sapp Ragan, photo by Ross MulhausenThat final series I saw in the studio tour included paintings with collaged digital prints of buildings in their environments, an inspired series that involved extensive research and meticulous craftsmanship. These large works in acrylic on board, now fill the back room of Kittrege Gallery at UPS.Painted are the scenes where the buildings were, are, should be, or might have been located. The colors are bright and sunny with a predominance of blue. Everything is painted with precise detail but softly focused, like a cross between photo-realist paintings and pastel drawings. The buildings themselves are digital prints of architectural drawings, mostly black and white line drawings that are collaged into the paintings. The actual buildings are not in the paintings. Rather, what we see is the settings before the buildings were built. These settings range from open fields to a coastal village to a dense urban scene. In one titled “Bonehouse Here?” we go back to prehistoric times to see a pair of mastodons standing on a glacier, and the drawing of the “house” is an igloo-shaped hut made of animal bones. The two mastodons are the only animals left from the herd, and the bones of their brothers and sisters have been used to make a house. Works such as these may not be exactly surrealistic, but they call reality into question.  In the front room are photographs, photo collages, prints and paintings. One group of five photo collages depicts buildings that could be from ancient Greece or Rome with women’s dresses in doorways and windows, some hanging and some on dress dummies. They seem natural in the settings and appear to be posed photographs rather than collages, but they jar the senses because the styles are out of keeping with the architecture and the scale is all wrong. Most of the dresses are relatively gigantic, but due to the artist’s careful cropping and arranging it is only on a second or third look that they appear outsized. Similarly, another wall features five hand-painted photo collages of contemporary women in Renaissance or Middle Age architectural settings. They look hype-realistic but anachronistic. All of Ragan’s figures and portraits are women or are represented by women’s clothing. Her son said she was a staunch feminist all her life. “As a member of the Guerrilla Girls group in New York in the mid-1980s she worked with other women artists to promote gender and racial equality in the fine arts,” he said.There are two large abstracts with bands of dripping monochromatic color, one all blue and one all red. The blue one has a few women’s faces collaged into it, one of which is almost totally hidden behind cut-out strips of paper. Among a group of intaglio prints are a couple that remind me of Matisse’s large dance paintings and his paper cuts from the “Jazz” series. One of these with intertwined bodies being crushed by flat, multicolored coffee cups is particularly exciting.Ragan’s work is inventive, thoughtful and skillfully executed. We have only this weekend to see her exhibition before it closes. There will be a closing reception Friday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m.
[Kittredge Gallery,  A Life in Art: Betty Sapp Ragan Retrospective, through Sept. 19, Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon to 5 p.m., 1500 N. Warner St., Tacoma, 253.879.3701]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Home Instead Senior Care’s Alzheimer’s Friendly Business Program Addresses Isolation Among Family Caregivers

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 2:41pm


Submitted by Home Instead Senior Care

HISC - Support seniorsThe Home Instead Senior Care® office serving South Puget Sound is launching a new campaign designed to make the community more Alzheimer’s friendly. Through the Alzheimer’s Friendly BusinessSM program, the Home Instead Senior Care office will provide free training to local businesses to help equip employees with information and resources needed to welcome families who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

In a recent survey of Alzheimer’s caregivers, 74 percent reported that they and their loved ones have become more isolated from the community as a result of the disease. Furthermore, 85 percent reported that they feel a reduced quality of life due to isolation. 1

“For many caregivers, the unpredictable nature of the disease can make going out in public with their loved one intimidating,” said Kelly Cavenah, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving South Puget Sound.  “Our research shows that family caregivers might be reluctant to frequent public places because of the behaviors that could be associated with the disease.”

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, the number of people with dementia worldwide is expected to grow to a staggering 75.6 million by 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050.

“Given the statistics, most businesses that deal with the public will be serving people with Alzheimer’s and their families,” said Cavenah. “It’s critical that local businesses start working now to build Alzheimer’s friendly communities to better serve their customers with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

Local businesses can work directly with the local Home Instead Senior Care office to coordinate an in-person training. An interactive, online version of the training also is available at Once the training is successfully completed, businesses will receive a window cling with the Alzheimer’s Friendly Business designation. The designation will be valid for two years.

For more information about the Home Instead Senior Care network’s Alzheimer’s Friendly Business program and to access additional resources, please visit or call 360-570-0049.

1 Home Instead, Inc. surveyed 692 Alzheimer’s family caregivers, including 102 from Canada and 590 from the U.S., who completed an online survey between April 13-23, 2015.


Roberts Releases Hāmau Side, the Third Aloha Jones Mystery

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 2:07pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

HamauSide_Cover Westport Winery-001Westport Winery co-owner, Kim Roberts is releasing Hāmau Side, the third book in the Aloha Jones Series on Saturday, September 19 at the winery. She will be autographing copies of this book along with its prequels, Luna Sea and Poi Son, from noon to 3 p m. This is the third of her murder mysteries set on Maui. All three books are also sold on the winery’s website, via Amazon, and on Kindle.

Previously, Roberts has written for The Daily Planet, Western-Farmer Stockman, Ocean Observer, Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living, Discover Diving, Log Home Living, RV Life, American Fitness and the Leavenworth Echo where she won the Washington State Newspaper Publishers Association Best General Column award.

Roberts and her husband Blain formerly owned Lahaina Divers on Maui. In 2008 they founded Westport Winery on the Washington coast where they live within their Vineyards By-the-Sea.

In this latest adventure, Lahaina Harbormaster Aloha Jones and her sister Amoré finds a dead body while scuba diving off the island of Lanai. As the Public Information Officer for the Navy at Joint Base Hickam-Pearl Harbor, Amoré hopes the death is not a result of underwater sonar testing. When two dead dolphin wash into the harbor her defense of the Navy’s practice wears thin, especially as a group of environmental activists known as the Mad Kows, stage public protests.

At the same time, Aloha crosses paths with her ex-husband, biker, and undercover DEA cop, Eddie Aquilae. Unfortunately, it’s while she is sorting through her relationship with Maui Marine Mammal Center director, Christian Rogers. It’s his assistant, Dr. Dick Head, found floating. A death that should have been a tragedy, is largely unmourned, even by Aloha’s friend, Brita Beamer, who had been dating the doctor. Brita’s ex-boyfriend, ‘Awī’wī, is the officer tasked with investigating the case.

The time she spends dancing hula helps to keep Aloha grounded between scuba diving misadventures with Amoré. Her beloved companion, Wharf, with his constant stealing of food, often undoes her moments of peace. The paperwork and politics of her job continue to nag on her soul as she better understands what it means to be part of Hawai’ian bureaucracy versus her previous life in the Coast Guard.

Ultimately, it is Aloha’s group of friends old and new, from black coral divers to a visiting psychiatrist, who help her unravel the mysterious death of Dr. Dick.

Readers are encouraged to visit Westport Winery Garden Resort to meet the author. Be sure to explore the unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why four times this has been voted Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.

These award-winning wines are exclusively available at the resort. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and gardens, are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery Garden Resort at 360-648-2224 or visit the website

Saint Martin’s University adds Two Minors for 2015-2016 Academic Year

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 1:29pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Saint Martins archSaint Martin’s University introduces minors in French and physics for the academic year 2015-2016.

These minors were approved by the University’s Board of Trustees and the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities. They bring the total number of minors offered at Saint Martin’s to 28.

The French minor emerged from growing student interest over the years. In the past, students had to design their own study of French, typically through directed study courses; now, students can earn the French minor, which is 21 credits and includes courses such as French Literature and French Cinema. In addition, students can count their study abroad in a French-speaking country towards the minor.

“Language in general is critical to students’ understanding,” says Kathleen McKain, professor of French and director of the minor. “People talk about global awareness and global citizenship but language plays a critical role in understanding the world.”

The French minor is interdisciplinary and compels students to think critically about the world. It also contributes to students’ human development—as students struggle to learn a language, they gain a greater sense of empathy for people who are learning English. The French minor complements virtually any area of study; it increases students’ cultural awareness and makes them more competitive in the job market.

The physics minor stemmed from the growing number of upper-division physics classes offered by the university. Stephen Parker and John Weiss, professors of physics, began the application process for the minor a year ago, presenting their idea to the faculty, the administration and the Saint Martin’s University Board of Trustees.

The physics minor consists of 34 credits, including a 2-credit capstone project that allows students to explore an area of interest to them. Although the physics minor is especially useful for mechanical engineering students, it isn’t just for engineers. A wide variety of students can benefit from the problem-solving skills that are central to physics.

“Physics isn’t just useful knowledge,” explains Weiss. “It’s a way of approaching problems.” Physics challenges students to think outside the box. Rather than plugging in numbers to solve a problem, students must take the ideas and concepts learned in class and develop their own solutions.


Popular Pink T-Shirt Brings Awareness to Breast Cancer

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 1:19pm



Submitted by OBee Credit Union

 Jennifer Cokl, South Sound Radiology; David Stagnone, M.D., South Sound Radiology; Stephanie Dirckx, South Sound Radiology; Andrea Potter, Providence Regional Cancer System; Kasia Konieczny, Providence Regional Cancer System; Lee Wojnar, O Bee Credit Union

OBee Credit Union presents a $5,000 check to the Providence St. Peter Foundation in support of Every Woman Counts. Pictured from Left to right: Jennifer Cokl, South Sound Radiology; David Stagnone, M.D., South Sound Radiology; Stephanie Dirckx, South Sound Radiology; Andrea Potter, Providence Regional Cancer System; Kasia Konieczny, Providence Regional Cancer System; Lee Wojnar, O Bee Credit Union

Every Woman Counts, a breast cancer health event organized by South Sound Breast Center, a partnership between Providence Regional Cancer System and South Sound Radiology, received a cash donation of $5,000 from O Bee Credit Union as part of their Famous Pink campaign. O Bee offered pink “Olympia” t-shirts and hot-pink scarves in exchange for donations towards the cause. The pink apparel was not only fashionable, but hugely popular.

O Bee’s campaign to raise awareness and collect donations for Every Woman Counts began in October 2014. At that time O Bee had recently introduced their “Famous Pink Debit Card.” The pink debit card was the brainchild of two female branch managers who thought the traditional brewery culture of O Bee needed a feminine touch.

“Our roots are with the Olympia Brewery, that’s where we started and everyone loves it, but back then it was a heavily male industry. We thought the Olympia logo in pink would be the perfect balance,” said Ashley Labrador, Tumwater Branch Manager.

The link with the pink card and breast cancer awareness was a natural next step. The pink theme was very well received by both woman and men who enthusiastically donated at festivals, community events and in the O Bee branches. “In the summer we offered the Olympia pink t-shirts and in the winter we switched to the scarves. Folks were coming in and making donations to get multiple scarves and t-shirts for holiday gifts. It’s a great deal for a good cause,” added Labrador.

“We are so grateful for the support O Bee has provided for Every Woman Counts,” says Kasia Konieczny, Oncology Service Line Director for Providence Health & Services in Southwest Washington. “This event helps raise awareness for breast cancer screening, and in addition to financial support, the creativity O Bee has shown in bringing added attention is just fantastic.”

Every Woman Counts will be held on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 6 – 8 p.m. Lawrence Bennett, M.D., will present the latest on breast health education and 3-D mammograms. Other presenters will offer a question and answer forum on nutrition, pathology, and biology. Attendees can also speak directly with South Sound Breast Center’s breast cancer patient navigator. Women can also schedule their annual 3-D mammogram at the event.


Beat Happening Book Release & Live Show

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 11:40am
Event:  Thu, 09/24/2015 - 7:30pm - 8:45pm

Join us at the Olympia Library for a celebration of the album Beat Happening

All library programs are free and open to the public.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Feel free to contact the library with any questions!  360-352-0595. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Hot New Shows in Federal Way

South Sound Arts - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 8:31am

Centerstage Theatre’s Fall Shows Published in the Weekly Volcano, Sept. 10, 20154from left: Roger Curtis, Dale Bowers, Alicia Mendez and David Bestock from the 2010 production of Sleeping Beauty. Courtesy Centerstage Theatre.
Not enough people south of the King-Pierce County line know about Centerstage in Federal Way. I could not count the times over the past 13 years I’ve been writing theater reviews that I’ve recommended a play at Centerstage only to discover the person I’m talking to has never heard of the place. I tell you, folks, you’re missing something grand.Centerstage, located in the Knudson Family Theatre at Dash Point Park, is a professional theater on a level with ACT and Seattle Rep and comparable to Harlequin in Olympia, but what makes it stand out is its decidedly British flavor. Managing Artistic Director Alan Bryce worked for years as an actor, director and playwright in London’s West End, which is England’s version of Broadway.Most uniquely and enjoyably, he has brought to Puget Sound the delightful winter holiday tradition of the panto or pantomime, which has nothing whatsoever to do with white-faced, speechless mimes. The British panto is an outrageous, tongue-in-cheek form of musical comedy. The stories are always based on popular children’s stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk or Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. They’re narrated by a fairy godmother and feature ugly-as-homemade sin witches or ugly stepsisters who are always played by men in drag, and the jokes are aimed at children and adults alike — loved by the children for their outlandishness and loved by adults for risqué use of double entendre and sly sexual innuendo.They are audience-participation shows with candy thrown to the children and with hard-rocking pop music with comical lyrics added to hit songs of the day.This year’s panto is Sleeping Beauty, scheduled for Nov.28 to Dec. 20. It’s back by popular demand, having played at Centerstage five years ago. In that performance there was a giant puppet and a slew of popular songs with twisted lyrics, such as the every popular “For Once in My Life,” “Another Brick in the Wall,” “Don’t Stop Believing” and the theme song from “Ghostbusters.” Plus there was word play like the following exchange: “I have a strange foreboding.” “Well, I have a strange foreboding as well.” “That’s eight forebodings.” Then they both say, “That doesn’t bode well.” That’s just a small taste of the insanity you can expect from this fractured Sleeping Beauty, directed by Vince Brady, who has directed several pantos before. Has directed shows for Greenstage and Seattle Musical Theatre and played King Lear for Greenstage.  “Sleeping Beauty herself is played by Sarah Mather. Sarah is the youngest leading lady we have ever had at Centerstage (17) but we believe we have a star in the making,” Bryce says. Also coming for a two-night production Sept. 12-13 is Albert Einstein: The Practical Bohemian starring Ed Metzger from the Los Angeles and Off Broadway productions.And then for one performance only Sept. 27, Centerstage brings back David Duvall's Purple Phoenix Orchestra featuring Meg McLynn as Judy Garland in I Could Go on Singing: The Judy Garland Songbook. McLynn, who sang the National Anthem for the Seahawks game against the Denver Broncos, is well-known to Centerstage audiences from her performances in Girls' Night, It's only Rock and Soul, and Pinocchio the panto. On Nov. 7-8 Centerstage will bring in Randy Noojin from New York with his multi-media one-man show Hard Travellin’ With Woody, portraying the legendary Woody Guthrie. Squeezed in before Woody will be the murder mystery fundraiser The Object, “about a trailer trash family who are not-so-prominent members of the local Spiritualist church,” Bryce explains. It is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Twin Lakes Country Club in Federal Way. Centerstage at the Knutzen Family Theatre 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way,
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Tumwater’s Kylie Otton Uses Her Athletic Talent in the Swimming Pool

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Gail Wood

tumwater auto spaBecause of her last name, Kylie Otton is part of local sports royalty.

Her grandfather, Sid Otton, is the winningest football coach in state history and has coached at Tumwater High School since 1974. Her dad, Tim Otton, played college football at Weber State and now coaches the linemen on the Thunderbirds’ football team. Her uncle, Brad, played quarterback at USC and led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory. Her aunt, Tana Otton, is the volleyball coach at Tumwater. Kylie has cousins playing football and volleyball in college.

The Otton legacy is rich. Her name has been an incentive, a pep talk to always try hard.

“Even as a young girl, it’s always been ‘never give up,’” Kylie said, quoting a long-time motto for the Thunderbird football team. “My family is really talented athletically.”

But growing up, Otton wasn’t sure where her sports niche was. Volleyball and soccer didn’t click for her.

“They said Kylie wasn’t that athletic,” said Laurel Smith, Tumwater High School’s longtime swim coach.

But, with the help of Smith, Kylie found swimming. It turns out she’s part fish. Kylie, now a senior, has qualified for state every season since her freshman year. Last year, she went to state in the 100-yard butterfly, the 50 freestyle and the 200 medley relay. With true Otton passion, Kylie is hoping to break the school record in the 100 butterfly.

tumwater swimming kaylie otton

Tumwater’s Kylie Otton excels in the pool and the classroom.

“The record is 59 seconds and I’m at 1:05 right now,” Kylie said. “I feel like if I get my kick together, I’ll be able to make it.”

Kylie isn’t just dreaming about that record, wishing it might come true. Kylie, and teammate and friend, Nicole Howard, recently began two-a-day workouts. The duo will be in the pool at the Valley Athletic Club at 5:30 a.m., getting in a one-hour workout before school. Then after school they’ll head to practice for another workout.

“Kylie is one of my hardest workers by far,” Smith said. “She knows that what you put into it is what you get out of it. She puts in the time.”

Otton’s get-it-done approach in meets and practice is infectious.

“Kylie certainly pushes herself,” Nicole said. “That causes me to push myself, too.”

Like Kylie, Nicole has the ability to give a gutsy, push-the-pedal-to-metal effort. Last year, the day before the district meet, Nicole was diagnosed with pneumonia. But that didn’t keep her out of the pool or even out of school.

“I went to school every day with pneumonia so I could go to practice,” Nicole recalled.

The day before districts, Nicole had a 102-degree temperature and she still showed up for practice. And Smith sent her home.

“But I showed up for districts still feeling horrible, full of antibiotics and an inhaler,” Nicole said. “I pushed myself. Kylie pushed me.”

Amazingly, Nicole made it through districts and went to state with pneumonia.

“I had an awesome time even though the circumstances weren’t good,” Nicole said, flashing a wide grin.

Smith didn’t have any other options with her determined swimmer.

“I know Nicole well enough to know that she was coming no matter what,” Smith said with a smile.

In response to her coach’s comment, Nicole said, “Oh yeah, you couldn’t keep me away.”

tumwater swimming

As coach Laurel Smith (pictured center in green) begins her 21st season at head coach, Tumwater is loaded with promising talent again this year.

Kylie isn’t just focused on swimming, forgetting about grades. She’s the true definition of student athlete. She has a 3.9 GPA, getting one B in high school.

“I had a B in Algebra 2,” Kylie said with a grimace. “That was it. That was the lowest grade I’ve ever gotten.”

Like Kayle, Nicole’s focus isn’t the pool. Oh, she’s committed to swimming – she qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke, the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay last season. But she’s not single minded. Swimming doesn’t eclipse school. An A-student, Nicole, who is a junior, wants to become a nurse to travel as a missionary overseas.

“It’s because I love my God and I want to serve people,” Nicole said when asked why she wants to become a missionary.

Smith, who became Tumwater’s coach in 1991, is excited and optimistic about this year’s team. With 27 turning out, Smith has some talented depth. But unfortunately, she doesn’t have a pool. Construction at River Ridge High School, where Smith’s team swims, isn’t finished and the T-Birds are pool-less.

“It’s tough,” Smith said. “We’re hoping the construction gets done soon.”

Under Smith, Tumwater has had a successful record, sending someone to state every year she’s coached the Thunderbirds.


Thrifty Thurston Finds a Slice of Solitude in Burfoot Park

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Douglas Scott

xeroxBurfoot Park, near Boston Harbor, is a classic Thurston County destination, visited year-round by thousands of locals and tourists alike. Perfect for families, dogs, and those looking for an incredible view of the Puget Sound, Burfoot Park has been part of the Olympia experience for roughly 40 years, helping give those lucky enough to live nearby a perfect destination to experience the beauty of life in the Pacific Northwest.

burfoot park

Year round, the views of the Olympic Mountains are stunning from Burfoot Park. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Proposed as a park in 1973, it took two years before Burfoot Park became a reality. In September 1975, the County Commissioners of Thurston County called for bids to begin clearing and setting up what is now Burfoot Park. Today, over four decades later, it is hard to imagine life in Thurston County without this gem. Burfoot Park is consistently mentioned as one of the best parks in the south sound, and with access to solitude, silence and stunning views, it is easy to see why.

Even though the park is small, just 50 acres in size, when you head into this park just south of Boston Harbor, you escape the I-5 corridor and are transported to a timeless stretch of beach along Budd Inlet. With over 1,000 feet of salt water shoreline giving off views of the State Capitol to the south and the Olympic Mountains to the northwest, Burfoot has also cemented its place as one of the best views in Thurston County.

burfoot park

Shells and rocks are easy to find all along the 1,100+ feet of shoreline at Burfoot Park. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Experiences at Burfoot vary, depending on the season in which you visit, but one thing that strikes most everyone who visits this tiny park is the silence. Far from the noise of cars, 3.8 miles of trails await your adventure, leading through second growth forests, along small creeks and down to the magnificent view expanding across the Puget Sound. The trails are well maintained, though there are a few sections that can be steep for those not used to the terrain. Along the beach, the view is often impossibly beautiful. As you stand on the shore, listening to small waves crash against the rocky shore, eagles soar overhead, blue herons stand silent and seals pop their heads out of the water, looking at you with curiosity.

With the Olympic Mountains towering in the distance, all seems right in the world at Burfoot Park. Look for sand dollars, agates and sea glass along the shore; they are plentiful after a stormy day. In the summer, beach naturalists answer questions and educate guests about the amazing diversity of life in the region. Burfoot is also a fantastic place for clam digging, swimming, wading and bird watching. More information on clam digging and the animals of Burfoot Park can be found through the good people at Stream Team.

burfoot park

Burfoot is home to a fantastic view of Puget Sound. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Once you have left the beach, trails dart in every direction, leading those curious into second growth forests with ferns as far as the eye can see. The path weaves around, showing off nurse logs, as well as the beauty and silence of the woods. The best bet after the beach is to stick to the right side of the trail following it up a short, but steep, hillside before being led to a picnic area and a short trail through a gorgeous stand of trees. When walking here, keep an ear open for woodpeckers above, knocking at trees in search of grubs.

If you aren’t wanting to walk or enjoy the panorama of the Puget Sound offered on the beach at Burfoot, you can hang out at the playground, run around in the acres of field enclosed by the loop drive, or even host an event at one of the three covered shelters. The grassy area in the middle of the park is nice, open and perfect for a picnic lunch or just lying back and looking at the clouds overhead. With a few shady areas around large trees, relaxing here after a long work day or on a sunny weekend is sure to diminish your stress level.

burfoot park

Looking down at Burfoot Park it’s clear to see why locals and tourists all love this special spot. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

If you are hoping for a family-friendly picnic environment, Burfoot has you covered, literally. Rain or shine, Burfoot is able to host large groups of people under their three shelters. The main shelter, located in the middle of the field, has four picnic tables, a large barbecue grill, an electrical outlet and can hold 32-40 people. To the south, the Meadow Shelter is a bit smaller, seating up to 30 people on the three picnic tables. A large barbecue grill is also available. The final shelter is a bit more removed from the parking area, making it ideal for those looking for a more private picnic. The Meadow Shelter has a large barbecue area, but just one large picnic table. Luckily, it can hold 24-30 people, making it a great place to host an event.

Burfoot Park is one of Thurston County’s true gems, giving nature lovers of every age a perfect place for short hikes, majestic views and fantastic picnic areas. For the last 40 years, Burfoot has been a family destination, giving young and old a lifetime of memories just six short miles from Olympia. Whether you have been here 100 times, or are looking to go for the first time, there is never a bad day at Burfoot Park.

More information on Burfoot Park and other Thurston County parks can be found here:

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, visit our complete event calendar.


Thurston County Economic Development Council Receives $189,000 to Help Local Companies “Scale Up”

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 4:12pm



Submitted by the Office of Congressmen Denny Heck (WA-10) 

Congressmen Denny Heck and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet  Photo Credit Nate Gowdy

Congressmen Denny Heck and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet
Photo Credit Nate Gowdy

Today, Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) announced the Thurston County Economic Development Council Business Resource Center was selected to receive a U.S.  Small Business Administration grant of $189,000 to provide small businesses the opportunity to expand in order to support local jobs and grow the local economy.

The grant, provided through SBA’s ScaleUp Initiative, targets traditionally underserved business owners, including veterans, women, tribal members, and minorities. The Thurston ScaleUp plan works together with South Puget Sound Community College, SBA, and other partners to help these business owners grow their operations.

Congressman Denny Heck of Washington’s 10th Congressional District congratulated Thurston EDC on their successful grant request:

“As a small business owner, I know the challenges that these business owners face every day,” Heck said. “And I’m not saying every business day. Every single day, weekends and holidays included, they are working hard to expand their operations and create jobs for our community.  This grant honors their hard work behind-the-scenes and encourages them to continue to pursue their great ideas and long-term business goals with even more energy.”

“The Small Business Administration appreciates Congressman Heck’s commitment to small businesses in Thurston County and his pragmatism in applying our programs to a promising business community,” SBA Regional Administrator Calvin Goings said. “We are looking forward to helping Thurston County’s small businesses reach the next level and expand their capabilities within their respective industries.”

Congressmen Denny Heck announced Thurston County Economic Development Council Business Resource Center was selected to receive a U.S.  Small Business Administration grant of $189,000.

Congressmen Denny Heck announced Thurston County Economic Development Council Business Resource Center was selected to receive a U.S. Small Business Administration grant of $189,000.

“The ScaleUp Initiative is a fantastic opportunity for Thurston County’s small businesses to grow to the next level of success,” said Michael Cade, Executive Director of the Thurston Economic Development Council. “Through our partnership with SPSCC at the new Center for Business & Innovation, we will be able to provide all the technical services businesses need to move to the next level. This grant will give us the leverage needed to ensure companies in our community that are on a high-growth trajectory have the tools needed to sustain that growth, contributing to the health of our local economy, and providing high-value jobs.”

On July 13, 2015, Congressman Heck wrote to SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to express his strong support of ScaleUp Thurston and their proposal.

“The Thurston County EDC and BRC are vital to Thurston County’s business community; with an established track record of providing effective technical assistance to small and growing business,” Heck wrote. “ScaleUp Thurston would allow the Thurston County EDC and BRC to provide new services to the business community as well to improve their existing services.”

On February 18, 2015, Congressman Heck hosted Administrator Contreras-Sweet in the 10th Congressional District for a small business tour and round table.


Head of Inner-City New Jersey School to Deliver Benedictine Institute Lecture

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 4:03pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

The Rev. Edwin Leahy, O.S.BThe Rev. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B. — best known for his vision that transformed an embattled prep school in one of New Jersey’s most impoverished cities into a vital learning space for young men — is the distinguished speaker for the Saint Martin’s University 2015 Benedictine Institute Lecture.

Leahy, headmaster of St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, a 7-12, all-boys school in the heart of Newark, will reflect on how the profound insights of Benedictine spirituality have helped restore and forge a successful and meaningful academic community at St. Benedict’s Prep. His talk will take place Wednesday, October 7, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., in the Saint Martin’s Norman Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Avenue SE. The event is free and open to the public.

Under the guidance of the monks of Newark Abbey, the school’s philosophy follows the 1,500-year-old Benedictine tradition of Christian education, a tradition it shares with Saint Martin’s University.

Leahy is credited with leading the way in saving St. Benedict’s Prep, established in 1868, from extinction following the suspension of operations at the school in 1972 in the wake of the civil unrest that devastated Newark and other American cities. St. Benedict’s re-opened in 1973 with 89 students and 14 faculty members. The school has since grown to include more than 500 students, most from African and Hispanic backgrounds, and 67 faculty members.

Leahy’s talk will be preceded by a viewing of “The Rule,” a 90-minute documentary film about the monks, faculty, parents and students who worked under Leahy’s leadership in reversing the fate of the school to its current state of graduating students at a nearly 100-percent college acceptance rate. The film premiered in New York City on September 5, 2014 and later that month premiered on PBS television stations. Its title refers to The Rule of Saint Benedict, which the founder of the Benedictine religious order wrote in 530 A.D. as a guide to creating a vibrant monastic community.

Leahy, who is a 1963 graduate of St. Benedict’s Prep, became the 23rd headmaster in 1972. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Seton Hall University in 1968 and a Master of Divinity, with distinction, in 1975 from the Woodstock College at Union Theological Seminary. He took his first vows as a monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Newark in 1966 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1972.

Leahy began his work at St. Benedict’s Prep in 1967, teaching biology and religion, and assisting with the wrestling and football teams. After the suspension of operations at St. Benedict’s, Leahy was named to direct efforts to re-open it as soon as was feasibly possible.

Leahy received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. John’s University, in Collegeville, Minnesota. In 2014, he received the first Robert F. Kennedy Urban School Leader Award from the national Schools That Can organization. He has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and St. Peter’s University.

The Benedictine Institute Lecture Series, launched in 2013, celebrates the long-standing Benedictine tradition of education at Saint Martin’s University. Built on the Benedictine tenet of “listening with the ear of one’s heart,” this series provides a forum for the discussion of faith-related issues. The lecture series is organized by the Benedictine Institute, which seeks to contribute to the intellectual and spiritual development of the Saint Martin’s community and beyond by leading the University in upholding and promoting its Benedictine heritage, and sharing those values with others.


Evergreen, United Way Partner for Community to Community and Day of Caring September 25

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 3:16pm



Submitted by The Evergreen State College

Evergreen students pitch in throughout the county on the United Way's Day of Caring.

Evergreen students pitch in throughout the county on the United Way’s Day of Caring.

Every September for the last 26 years, The Evergreen State College has sent 50-150 incoming first-year students to various Thurston County nonprprofits for a day of volunteer service.  This year, on Friday, September 25, the tradition continues.

The last six years have seen a flourishing partnership between the college’s “Community to Community” day and The United Way’s 23-year old “Day of Caring,” in which the local chapter of the national organization sends more than 700 volunteers to over 40 nonprofits on the same day.

The Evergreen crew will join United Way volunteers at several sites, among them Family Support Center, Thurston County Food Bank, Nisqually Land Trust and more. Community to Community is run by Evergreen’s Center for Community Based Learning (CCBLA), whose mission is to promote student learning in the community by connecting academic programs, students and faculty with community organizations. According to CCBLA Director, Ellen Shortt-Sanchez, Evergreen will partner with nonprofits inside and outside the United Way scope on September 25, including Books to Prisoners, Cielo Project, Interfaith Works and Tumwater Stream Team. The United Way lists education, health and economic self-sufficiency as its goals; Evergreen adds environmental and social justice.

The incoming freshmen move into their dorms and off-campus apartments a week before classes start, to attend orientation activities. Community to Community is an optional orientation activity, said Shortt-Sanchez. “For students, it is part of them getting to know this new community; this way, they are giving back right from the start.” She notes that the activity is a way for new students to get acquainted and socialize.  They also meet students from St. Martins University, who participate in Day of Caring.

The partnering nonprofit organizations don’t just put students to work, said Shortt-Sanchez. “The students have a chance to hear about the organization – what it does, what it’s about,” she said. “And some students go back to those organizations, to volunteer or do an internship later on.”

Evergreen espouses a culture of service and civic engagement; more than 70% of students and graduates surveyed in a recent economic impact study say they have volunteered in the Olympia area, and students did more than 300 internships in Thurston County during the 2014-15 academic year.


Bestselling Author Jess Walter to Speak at 2nd Annual Les Bailey Writers Series

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 3:03pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Jess Walter

Jess Walter

Award-winning author Jess Walter, a native son of Spokane whose 2012 novel “Beautiful Ruins” spent more than a year on the New York Times Best Sellers List, will share his craft and body of work at the second annual Les Bailey Writers Series at Saint Martin’s University.

The event will be held Wednesday, September 30, at 7 p.m. in the University’s Norman Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Avenue SE. It is free and the public is invited to come hear Walter speak, in part, about what it takes to become a writer, even when facing financial and educational hurdles.

“The quickest path to being a fiction writer is to get an MFA (Master of Fine Arts), which is a $30,000 – $50,000 degree with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. I was a dad at 19 and I had to take a more blue-collar approach to being a writer,” says Walter, who penned eight books and also worked as a career journalist, ghost writer, screenwriter and teacher of writing.

“I want to talk about the democratization of writing,” adds Walter, who says he couldn’t afford a master’s degree and was the first in his family to go to college. “The great thing about great writing is it doesn’t depend on what class you’re in; it solely depends on your ability to write and tell a story.”

Walter will also talk about the craft of writing and will share some of his literary work at the evening gathering. Earlier in the day, he plans to meet and speak with Saint Martin’s students about writing and literature.

The Les Bailey Writers Series is presented by the University’s English Program, with funding from the Leslie G. Bailey Endowment. The endowment honors the gifted and inspiring Saint Martin’s University Professor of English Les Bailey, Ph.D. A 1964 Saint Martin’s alumnus, Bailey returned to his alma mater in 1975 as a faculty member and, later, became chair of the English Program and dean of humanities. He continued to teach until his death in 2010.

The writers series aims to bring writers and authors of note to campus to read and discuss their books, a practice that was an especially meaningful part of Bailey’s teaching philosophy. He shared his great passion for the written word with students, inviting them over the threshold of a book to explore the deeper themes and meanings of life captured in its pages.

“When we chose Jess Walter as our 2015 Les Bailey Writers Series presenter, we sought an acclaimed author who not only wrote literary novels and short stories. We wanted someone who is very aware of his writing process, someone who could share decisions he made as the stories were constructed, as Jess will do in his presentation,” says Olivia Archibald, Ph.D., professor of English and a member of the Les Bailey Endowment and Writers Series Committee. “Such revelations are a true gift for those of us lucky to be in the audience, for we get to glimpse a writer’s mind at work and learn, as a result, a wee bit more about the extraordinary craft of creative writing from a remarkable writer.”

Walter’s short story, “Mr. Voice,” originally published in the literary magazine, Tin House, (Volume 16, Issue 1), has been selected for Best American Short Stories 2015. He was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for “The Zero” and won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for “Citizen Vince.” He has been a finalist for the PEN/USA Literary Prize in fiction and nonfiction.

He was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and twice won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. His most recent book, the short story collection, “We Live in Water,” was long-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Story Prize. Walter’s work has been published in 32 languages. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Esquire and more.

Walter lives in Spokane with his wife, Anne, and two of his three children, Ava and Alec. His daughter, Brooklyn, directs the writing center at Washington State University.


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