Recent local blog posts

Silas Blak “Yeah Yeah”

K Records - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 6:49pm
Continuing with the Blak Friday series, Silas Blak presents “Yeah Yeah” from his release #BlakFriday: The Mixtape (Cabin Games). Find out more at the Cabin Games website, or follow Silas Blak via @RealSilasBlak.   Silas Blak has made appearances on several K releases including the All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] NW hip hop compilation, the […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Jason Aslakson – Local Hydroplane Driver Set for Black Lake Regatta

Thurston Talk - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

pints logoSome of Jason Aslakson’s first memories of life are visiting his grandparent’s house. The couple lived on Black Lake. The house’s backyard nearly spilled right into the water.

So, each summer when it was time to watch the Black Lake Regatta, Aslakson always had the best view.

These just weren’t boat races to him. It was an annual gathering of family and friends.

“It was our Christmas,” Aslakson said. “Every year that was the one date we would circle on the calendar.”

For nearly four decades, boats have competitively raced over Black Lake’s usually calm waters. Aslakson can’t remember ever missing the event.

black lake hydroplane

Tumwater resident Jason Aslakson will compete in his first Black Lake Regatta this weekend.

This year, however, the 40-year-old Aslakson is going to experience the races from a significantly different vantage point than years’ past.

Aslakson will no longer be among the spectators. Instead the Tumwater resident will be driving his own hydroplane as part of the 38th Annual Black Lake Regatta & 2015 APBA Western Divisionals.

Racing begins at 10:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and will continue until approximately 5:30 p.m. each day.

Spectators can watch the races from the Evergreen Shores Resort on Black Lake Boulevard or at the new Spectator Property at 7305 Fairview RD SW, Olympia, which features the best view of the start/finish line and control tower.

Black Lake’s 1.25-mile course has been the site for nearly 40 national records – and several world marks – the most of any lake in the United States.

“The water’s calm, there’s not a lot of wind coming through,” said Jim Codling, an APBA official, about the course. “It all sets up perfectly for faster times.”

Aslakson will drive in the 2.5 Liter Stock Hydro division, one of 13 classes that will compete over the two-day event.

This will mark Aslakson’s first time competing on Black Lake. He started his driving career a week after last year’s Regatta by racing in Oak Harbor.

black lake regatta

Jason Aslakson’s 2.5 Liter Stock Hydroplane will be racing around Black Lake this weekend.

“It was just something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Aslakson, who lived on Black Lake until recently moving to Tumwater a few weeks ago. “I’ve always been passionate about it. It took me a little bit longer to get into the game than other drivers. I just decided it was the right time to make the move.”

Once Aslakson decided to turn fandom into a reality all he needed to do was determine which class of boat he wanted to buy.

Prices helped out with that decision.

“The 2.5 stock is relatively cheaper than other boats,” Aslakson said with a laugh. “I didn’t want to bankrupt my son’s college fund. So, we went with the 2.5. Plus they don’t get up to 150 miles an hour. Maybe we will build up to those.”

The 2.5 Liter Stock, one of the more popular classes, is a limited inboard hydroplane that can reach speeds of 100 mph on straightaways with an average lap speed of 70-75 mph. The hull has to at least be 13 1/2 feet in length and weigh a minimum of 975 pounds.

“This is really the race we’ve been looking forward to,” Aslakson said. “We will have a ton of friends and family members out watching. Hopefully, we have some kind of home course advantage.”

The highlight for the last six years at the Black Lake Regatta is always the Grand Prix West classification.

“They’re the biggest, fastest and loudest boats around,” said GPW president Larry Linn about the 25-foot limited hydroplanes with sport 1,500 horsepower. “They fire those motors up and people come running.”

black lake hydroplane

Shockwave Racing, owned by Olympia’s Rick and Shawn Bridgeman set a world record for average lap speed at Black Lake in 2010.

Grand Prix West has made a habit out of breaking world records on Black Lake since the class was included in 2010.

Shockwave Racing’s GP-17, owned by Olympia’s Rick and Shawn Bridgeman, set a world record average lap speed of 116.129 mph in 2010.

The record lasted four years until the Scott Pierce-owned GP-55, driven by Jamie Nelson, bettered the mark at last year’s Regatta, covering the course with a 116.84 average lap speed.

Shockwave Racing captured the overall title for the two-day event last year with a pair of second-place finishes over the two heats.

Linn anticipates six boats to compete in the Grand Prix West division.

In addition to the 2.5 Liter Stock and Grand Prix division, the Black Lake Regatta will also feature National Modified, LTR Modified, 5 LTR, J Classes, Vintage and Inboard Endurance races.

Admission is $10 a day or $15 for the weekend. Active and retired military receive a $5 discount. Parking is $5.


Zoe Juice Bar – The Goodness Keeps Growing

Thurston Talk - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

zoe juice bar

Zoe Juice Bar has expanded to its second location. Now, you can find fresh, raw juice in Tumwater and at their original location near Ralph’s Thriftway.

When ThurstonTalk first reported on Zoe Juice Bar, the company was in its infancy, opening a small location next to Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia. Serving fresh, raw juice with exceptional service was the goal.

Now, 18 months later, Zoe Juice Bar has surpassed that goal – by making smoothies, offering cold-pressed juices, acai bowls, cleanse plans, extending hours, and most recently in March, opening a second, larger location in Tumwater.

Recently, I met with co-owner Jason Phillips. Jason runs Zoe Juice Bar with wife, Briana. We met at the Tumwater location to talk about their growth, and what’s next for Zoe Juice Bar.

Located at the corner of Capital Way and Tumwater Boulevard, in the Old Town Center, Zoe Juice Bar has a clean, stream-lined feel. A menu highlighting fresh raw juices, smoothies, shots and boosts, like chia seeds, bee pollen and coconut oil, adorns the back wall, and a staff member bustles behind the bar.

I settle on the Green Goodness juice, with spinach, kale, apple, cucumber, celery and ginger. Jason orders the same (with extra ginger) and my 5-year-old, who sometimes comes interviewing with me, gets fresh raw apple juice and a chocolate chip cookie (gluten-free).

zoe juice bar

Excellent customer service in a fun environment is a hallmark of Zoe Juice Bar.

One of the first things we talk about is Zoe’s cold-pressed juices and their use in their juice cleanse plan. I had oddly enough just watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” where a man turned his life around by juicing. While researching Zoe, I found they were inspired by the same film.

“I was like most people. Very few people eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies,” says Jason.

Zoe Juice Bar also bottles their own juices. Use six of their custom blends as part of the Zoe Juice Cleanse. Four green blends, a pineapple fusion, and a root blend that uses a base of beets and carrots are bottled and ready to go. Nearly two pounds of fresh fruits and veggies end up in each bottle, creating a nutrient dense beverage.

Also new on the Zoe menu is Acai Bowls, with options like The Oly Bowl with a blended base of acai berries, blueberry, blackberry, apple juice and almond milk. Topped with granola, banana, Goji berries, shredded coconut and cinnamon, Jason says many people enjoy it as a meal alternative.

Smoothies are one of the company’s more popular items. With whole fresh fruits and veggies and names like Tropical Mist, Orange Bliss and Daily Greens, it’s clear why these items are frequently ordered.

zoe juice bar

Take a Zoe Juice Bar concoction on the road with you.

“I like Zoe juice bar because they use fresh ingredients,” says customer Christina Rieland after ordering her favorite drink, a Green Garden smoothie. “It’s kind of hard to find green smoothies around here that feel healthy.”

Another important part of Jason and Briana’s business plan is community involvement. On Wednesdays, you can find Zoe Juice Bar at the Tumwater Farmers Market, with cold-pressed juices available for grab and go. (They recently handed out small orange juice freebies to kids). The couple sponsors the Capital City Marathon and supports a variety of wellness fairs, fun runs and the Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County’s Tumwater branch.

“We try to do as much as we can,” says Jason. “That’s something we really like doing – from the beginning, we just wanted to give back, even in small ways.”

One small way is their partnership with local farmers. Zoe Juice Bar uses nearly 4,000 pounds of fruits and veggies, resulting in a lot of left-over pulp. Some local farms, like The Farmstead, pick up the juice pulp. Jason says one local farmer claims her hens lay better than ever.

All of the philosophies that Zoe Juice Bar encompasses are perhaps summed up in their name – Zoe is the Greek word for life.

zoe juice bar

Zoe Juice Bar also bottles their own juices.

“We picked that name because all of our juices are alive. They’re fresh, they’re raw, and they’re not pasteurized,” explains Jason.

There are many documented benefits of juicing, and while Zoe Juice Bar doesn’t make any specific health claims, those who drink juices, smoothies and shots are getting nutrient dense doses of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, many that are anti-inflammatory and high in anti-oxidants.

And all this goodness is presented from trained staff – individuals who are professional, friendly and knowledgeable.

“We highly value exceptional customer service,” says Jason adding that the fun environment also creates an opportunity to deliver amazing customer service. “We want the whole experience when people come in to be fast, friendly, and efficient while getting great, quality product at the same time.”

Zoe Juice Bar recently introduced Molly’s sandwiches and salads at the Tumwater location. Up next is catering juices, and providing cold-pressed nut milks from raw, cashews or almonds, with added nutmeg or similar spices to sweeten it up. With Zoe Juice Bar, the goodness just keeps on growing.

zoe juice bar

Use six of their custom blends in the Zoe Juice Cleanse.

Visit Zoe Juice Bar online at or at one of their two convenient locations.  Follow Zoe Juice Bar on Facebook.

1851 State Ave NE, Suite #101 in Olympia

Open Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

111 Tumwater Blvd, Suite #B101 in Tumwater

Open Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Closed on Sunday


Scott Putzier – Popular Coach Hangs Up His Whistle at Evergreen Swim Club

Thurston Talk - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

oly ortho logoScott Putzier knew he wanted to help coach his daughters when they were old enough to begin playing sports. What he didn’t know is what they would eventually select as their recreation of choice.

That turned out to be swimming.

Aquatic sports, however, were foreign to him.

In fact, Putzier had no prior interest in ever being in the water. Heck, even his choice of military branches supported this as he had been a member of the United States Army, not the Navy.

evergreen swim club

Scott Putzier originally became a swim coach to be involved in the sport with his daughters.

So, when Bob Pease approached him to become an assistant coach with the Evergreen Swim Club, Putzier was a bit surprised.

“I really didn’t know the first thing about swimming,” Putzier said. “I had no background in it at all.”

Pease wasn’t concerned with that fact. He simply had one request for Putzier.

“He told me not to worry about the swimming part of it. He said he would teach me everything I needed to know,” Putzier remembers. “He said, ‘I just want you to be you.’”

The coaching aspects can be learned. What Putzier brought to the table – and what Pease required out of him – was something more important when you’re dealing with youth swimmers – enthusiasm, caring, patience and fun.  These four character traits Putzier more than possessed.

After 14 years of coaching swimmers ages 6-12 with the Evergreen Swim Club, Putzier is hanging up his whistle, positively influencing countless of individuals along the way.

“It’s tough to leave, but it’s the right time,” Putzier said. “When you look back and start adding up the hours, you realize just how much time you’ve put into it. I really enjoyed all of it, but you end up taking away time from your family and friends. It’s your other half that pays the price.”

Born and raised in South Dakota, Putzier found himself in Olympia thanks to the Army after being stationed in Fort Lewis in 1983. Once his military career ended he enrolled at The Evergreen State College where he graduated with a degree in management.

“I went from all discipline to no discipline,” Putzier jokingly summed up his transition from soldier to Geoduck.

evergreen swim club

Scott Putzier has been coaching Evergreen Swim Club swimmers ages 6 – 12 for the past 14 years.

Hailing from a midwestern state best known for an iconic rock carving and grassy prairies, Putzier’s upbringing failed to feature too many trips to the community pool.

“There wasn’t a lot of places for us to swim growing up,” Putzier said. “I go back now and there’s plenty of places, but back when I was young, we didn’t have too many options.”

But even without the aquatic resume, Putzier was intrigued by the chance to coach.

“The club was in transition. The numbers were down. Kids just weren’t signing up for the program,” Putzier said. “Bob came to me and said he needed volunteers. I thought it was a unique opportunity.”

Over the next decade and a half, with Putzier’s positive traits shining through with each practice, the program flourished. The first class Putzier ever coached he had six students. His last class had 37.

“Having that small of a class to start things off was the best thing for me,” Putzier joked. “I could still remember everyone’s name.”

With Pease’s guidance, it didn’t take Putzier long to pick up the swimming techniques, and regardless if it was the butterfly or backstroke the coaching execution was all delivered the same way.

“It needs to be fun,” Putzier said. “People don’t realize how hard these kids work. How many hours they put into this sport, and it’s not like other sports. If you learn something at basketball practice, the next day at recess you can go out and show all your friends what you learned yesterday at basketball practice. With swimming you can’t do that, so it needs to be fun. These kids are sacrificing all their free time, the least I can do is make it exciting and fun for them while they are learning.”

evergreen swim club

Scott Putzier combined the technical aspects of swimming into a fun environment.

Putzier’s approach of blending beginning stroke techniques with an entertaining atmosphere proved to be highly successful with a large majority of students returning the following year.

“I had someone come up to me, not too long ago, this teenage boy,” Putzier said. “He said I probably won’t remember him, but I had coached him 10 years ago when he was 8. He said how much he appreciated having me as a coach. To have an impact like that makes all the hours worth it.”

So, the man who never swam, quickly turned into the swim coach everyone loved.

“It’s hard to say goodbye,” Putzier said. “You always see the next generation of kids coming up and you say, ‘Okay, I will leave after this group gets through.’ But there’s always another generation of great kids coming in. It would have never ended.”


Buy County Fair Passes Now and Save

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 9:06pm



Submitted by The Thurston County Fair 

The Thurston County Fair runs the first weekend of August.

The Thurston County Fair runs the first weekend of August.

Buying your admission passes and carnival ride armbands in advance of this year’s Thurston County Fair will get you bushels of savings! Discount admission passes and carnival ride armbands are on sale now through Tuesday, July 28 at the Thurston County Fair Office.

Get your biggest savings with your advance purchase of carnival ride armbands for only $19 each—that’s $5 off the regular price. Carnival armbands are good for unlimited carnival rides for one day during the 2015 fair that runs Wednesday, July 29 through Sunday, August 2.

Season passes are also bargain at 40 percent off the full price daily admission rate. Remember, admission for children 5 years old and under is always free!

All advance purchase passes and carnival armbands are available only at the Thurston County Fair Office.

For even more savings, bring your carnival armband on July 29 for “One Buck Wednesday.” All adult, youth and senior admission prices are just $1 with a non-perishable food donation per person to the Thurston County Food Bank. Doors open at 10 a.m. on One Buck Wednesday. Be sure to check out all of the One Buck Wednesday specials, including one buck food specials, one buck carnival rides, and other One Buck Wednesday deals at participating vendors.

Other special discounts are available at the fair this year. Kid’s Day is Thursday, July 30 when all admission tickets for kids 6 to 14 years old are just $2 when purchased at the gate. And remember, admission for kids 5 and under is always free! Enjoy the Kid’s Day “Buddy Special” when you can get two carnival armbands for $24 when you and a buddy are both present at the time of purchase. (No advance purchase available for the carnival armband “Buddy Special.”)

thurston county fair

One Buck Wednesday keeps the price tag down on the Thurston County Fair.

Friday, July 31 is Military Appreciation Day at the fair, when fairgoers can get $2 admission tickets when they present their military ID at the gate. There are also lots of other vendor and food deals—just ask about Military Appreciation Day specials and present your military ID.

  • Season Pass (40 percent off the daily admission rate) — $10 to $21
  • One-day unlimited carnival rides armband advance purchase — $19
  • Gate price $24; ride tickets $1.25 each
  • Children ages 5 and under are always FREE!

Purchase armbands and passes at the Thurston County Fair Office at 3054 Carpenter Road SE in Lacey, 98503.

To learn more about 2015 fair events, entertainment and exhibits, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit


Zine Reading: Reid Urban and Jefferson Doyle

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 7:36pm
Event:  Thu, 07/16/2015 - 7:30pm - 8:45pm

As part of the Olympia Library's month long celebration of zines, Reid Urban and Jefferson Doyle will read selections from their work and reflect on the changing role of zines - their impact on culture and society. Urban will show a video and read from a self-published work dealing with the use of miscommunication and the spaces it creates. Doyle is a local musician, homeless rights activist, and editor of NO BIGGIE CITY zine. The upcoming 4th issue includes articles about a queer-run auto shop in Seattle, a history of Lake Cushman, and interviews with local punk bands and recording engineers. This program will occur after regular library hours; no other library services will be available. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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The Life and Death of King John

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 11:53am
Event:  Thu, 08/06/2015 - 6:30pm - Sun, 08/23/2015 - 8:45pm



Thursdays through Sundays, Aug 6th through 23rd – all shows at 6:30pm

 Admission is FREE

Donations are gratefully accepted …and sharp looking t-shirts will be available!


Directions: Our field is on the West (water) side of the park. From Southbound East Bay Drive you will need to cross the bridge after the park’s entrance and follow the signs, banners and sense of gathering tension.  Bring a picnic, a blanket or chair. Bring the family*. Heck, bring the dog too!

Animal Fire can hardly wait to bring this drama of a kingdom in crisis, colliding ambitions and collapsing dynasties to Olympia! Loyalties - and lives - will be tested … broken … and lost   

King John is from the portion of the Shakespearean canon known as the Histories. The Bard blended fact, fantasy, comedy and action centuries before novel writers and premium cable channels began delighting audiences with tales of medieval murder and betrayal. He created a series of plays full of historical myth-making so potent that to this day his authorial liberties are to this day taken as truth. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Furniture Works Shares Simple Decorating Tips to Update your Office

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 9:24am



Submitted by Furniture Works

Bookshelf furniture worksSitting in an office all day long can get monotonous. Break through the daily rut by dressing up your office with some cool office furniture. Unless you operate your own office, you may not have total control over your office furniture. Most employers, however, won’t mind if you bring in a piece or two of your own furniture to make the space more comfortable and personal.

Furniture Works carries a variety of new and used affordable furniture. From bookshelves to sofas we can send you home with a fantastic piece that will renew the comfort of your office.

Maybe your office could benefit with a piece of furniture as simple as a new bookcase. If it’s a simple bookcase, dress it up with some fun accessories like a vase or decorative knick knacks. Or bring in a small dresser that can help hold files, personal belongings or simply serve as a top to display your favorite photos from home.

Also, keep your eye out for pieces that you can re-paint.  You may have found a bookcase but it is all scratched and looks out of shape. Just a quick sanding and a coat of your favorite color and you have a piece that looks like you bought it from a designer store. The added color will bring in a cheery and well put together look while you save that extra penny

Another fun piece of furniture you could add to your office is an ottoman. Wouldn’t it be nice to prop your feet up every now and then at work? Even if you don’t utilize its function, an ottoman could dress up a room. Pick an ottoman in your favorite color or fabric design. For an extra special touch, pick an ottoman with lots of fringe. Your office will feel a little more “home-y” with this one simple furniture accessory.

Add an armchair to your office in a contrasting color to make the space more personal.

Add an armchair to your office in a contrasting color to make the space more personal.

If you have room in your office, an arm chair would be a nice furniture addition. Or how about a recliner?  It would also help create a personal atmosphere in what might otherwise be a “stuffy” or cold environment. These pieces create a comfortable and inviting environment. If your desk and all of your other office furniture is dark, then pick a chair with a pop of color to brighten the area.

No matter how long you have been in the same office, you can make the space feel new and exciting by adding just a simple piece of furniture. Keep the necessities that the company provides and mandates, but add a little something that you like to express your individuality. You will warm up to your work environment and your office will be a warmer place because of the personal touch your furniture piece has added.

Find unique new and gently used furniture pieces at Furniture Works at 402 Washington Street NE in downtown Olympia.  You can reach the store by calling 360-570-0165 or visit them online.


Kim Showalter: Rob Rice Homes’ Legacy of Excellence

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 9:12am



Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes 

Kim Showalter told her father she would work for him for 6 months. That was 28 years ago.

Kim Showalter told her father she would work for him for 6 months. That was 27 years ago.

When Kim Showalter talks about the history of Rob Rice Homes, you get an up close and personal account of the company’s foundation, its standards of excellence and the customer care that goes into building every home.

Her father, Dennis Andrews, started Gemini Homes more than 30 years ago, a company that is now Rob Rice Homes, the largest local builder in the South Sound.

Kim has many key roles in that company today. “If it has to do with money, paperwork, contracts or finance, it’s me,” says Kim. “If it is not the actual physical building of a house, the rest of it falls to some degree under me.”

In addition to managing the finances for Rob Rice Homes, Kim co-owns Epic Realty, Inc. with Helena Rice. Epic Realty has for more than 20 years of specializing in marketing new home construction and represents Rob Rice Homes in five of the nine communities where Rob is currently building.

Kim has a calm demeanor, something you wouldn’t expect from someone who works for the area’s premier builder. Perhaps it is because she grew up in the trades. Most likely, it is that she takes after her father who she says was “good natured and laid back.”

Kim’s background

Kim has lived here in Thurston County since she was 8 years old. Though her parents’ priority was always her education, she began chipping in to help her father’s company at a young age.

“I used to water lawns and new plants at his new homes when I was 12 years old,” Kim says. “I can roll a hose better than anyone, because that was my Dad’s pet peeve.”

When Kim graduated from Olympia High School, home building was not part of her plans.

“I went to a small private liberal arts school in Salt Lake City called Westminster College, the only one with a program in ‘Applied Politics’ to learn about campaign financing,” says Kim. “It was run by the campaign managers of the largest national campaigns in the country.”

When an internship in a political campaign fell through, Kim enrolled in accounting classes as a back-up and eventually earned her degree in accounting.

She pursued her Masters degree in business administration at Pacific Lutheran University with a thesis on construction management—what she describes as “how to build a house as quickly and efficiently as possible.” While finishing her studies, she worked at her uncle’s construction company setting up his accounting system.

“During that time, my father asked me to come work for him,” smiles Kim. “He needed help updating up his own accounting system and office processes. I said fine, I will come to work for you for six months. That was 27 years ago.”

Kim's Dad, Dennis Andrews started Gemini (Jim & I) Homes through a partnership with Jim Harkey.

Kim’s Dad, Dennis Andrews started Gemini (Jim & I) Homes through a partnership with Jim Harkey.

Generation to Generation

Kim can tell you about the accumulation of experience through generous mentoring and loyal partnerships that has contributed to what Rob Rice Homes is today— voted the Best of South Sound builder for two years in a row.

In 1985, when he graduated from Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture, Rob Rice was hired as a project superintendent by Dennis Andrews. A partnership developed between the two men and when Dennis Andrews passed away, Rob continued to build and expand the well-respected company.

Dennis Andrews had started in construction similar to the way Rob started.

“My Dad’s mentor was Jim Harkey out of King County,” reflects Kim. “Their partnership eventually led to Gemini Homes. That name was a play on ‘Jim and I’.”

Kim’s fond recollections include many partners who still work for Rob Rice Homes today.

“The people who trained me when I was watering lawns for my Dad, still work with us today,” says Kim. “Ernie Unroe started with Gary Mills, the owner of Pacific West Landscaping, when we were both teenagers. He eventually became a full partner with Gary until he passed away. Today, he is an owner of the company that still does all the expansive landscaping for Rob Rice Homes.”

And, the story of mentoring and generation-rich knowledge doesn’t stop there.

“Our highly-acclaimed community storm water ponds and neighborhood layouts are designed by Hatton Godat Pantier, another key component in how we do things,” explains Kim. “I have known Jeff Pantier, our surveryor,  since I was 8 years old when our families would vacation together. Jeff was mentored by his father.”

“Getting the neighborhood layouts and ponds to look so beautiful, function correctly and protect the environment is a challenge,” continues Kim. “But they truly make our neighborhoods unique and are the result of the planning with Jeff and his partners.”

Rob Rice Homes is the largest local builder with an office on State Street across from Ralph's Thriftway.

Rob Rice Homes is the largest local builder with an office on State Street across from Ralph’s Thriftway.

A changing market

“Construction techniques have changed over the years and homeowners’ expectations of products they want in a house have changed,” Kim reflects. She explains that in the beginning, they sold to different markets.

“We built about 400 affordable homes out in the Meadows area that started at $79,900. We had a waiting line and wrote 30 contracts the first day of one subdivision. It was in high demand in the early nineties when the military was ramping up. We’ve also built high-end homes in Nottingham and The Farm.”

Today, a Rob Rice Home is often the dream home for a move-up buyer with standard luxury features they have always wanted in a home.

“Though our homes still do attract first-time homebuyers, many of our buyers see our homes with all their upscale features as their final home, their last dream home or, what Helena Rice refers to as their ‘forever home,”’ Kim notes.

Caring for homeowners

Kim is also the Homeowner Association (HOA) manager for Rob Rice Communities, helping to maintain the quality and value of the neighborhoods they build. Since 1989, Kim has made every effort to provide the superior customer service so indicative of the company she represents.

“When I have just the name of a homeowner in front of me, I remind myself that their home is often the most important thing for them.”

As she sits in the company’s building on State Street in Olympia, Kim sums up how they serve homeowners today.

“At Rob Rice Homes, we all have a true desire to do what is right and it shows in the homes we build. We are the local builder, we are not going anywhere. When there is a problem, you can walk through the door and talk to us.”


Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013 and 2014. He has built more than 3000 homes over the last 30 years. 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.













Westport Winery Wins in Los Angeles

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 8:31am



Submitted by Westport Winery

2015 Fleur Front Westport WineryWestport Winery earned two medals at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition held in May. There were over 3000 wines entered from around the world.

Fleur de Lis, the winery’s Pinot Gris made with grapes from Airfield Estates, earned a silver medal. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits Hoquiam’s 7th Street Theater. The label features an original watercolor by Darryl Easter. An outdoor sculpture commemorating this wine was created by Clallam Bay artist Lora Malakoff. It is on display in the winery’s sculpture garden.

Smoky Nor’wester, a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Petite Sirah, earned a bronze medal. This wine benefits the Museum of the North Beach in Moclips. The sculpture honoring this wine was created by Westport carver Nicole Demmert.

When you visit Westport Winery Garden Resort 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 at

Olympic National Park Paradise Fire Update

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 8:28am



Submitted by the U.S. Forest Service

The Paradise Fire continued to grow slightly on Friday, as the hot and dry weather conditions caused active burning well into the evening hours. The estimated size is now 1240 acres. Firefighters have been successful in holding the fire north of the Queets River, and the majority of the fire activity continues to be on the northern perimeter on the slopes of Pelton Peak. Firefighters are keeping a close eye on this weekend’s weather forecast, with higher temperatures and lower humidity expected to be of great concern, especially on Sunday.

Although the Paradise Fire is estimated at 21% contained, 100% containment is not an objective on this unique fire. The tools for measuring success such as “percent contained” are not designed for fires like Paradise, which is a “confinement” fire. The team’s objective is to stop the fire’s spread south and west and confine it within Park boundaries. Limited action will be taken on the remaining North and East perimeters at this time, due to safety concerns & inaccessibility of terrain. Firefighter safety remains our top priority. The fire will be allowed to run its course to the North and East as a natural part of the Park’s ecosystem, until it reaches the next, pre-identified, accessible natural barrier when tactical action will be considered.

Olympic National Park officials would like to remind the public that there is a ban on open fires in the park’s wilderness backcountry, including all locations along the coast. Campfires are permitted only in established fire grates at established front country campgrounds. Because of the extreme conditions on the peninsula, Olympic National Forest and local communities have also implemented fire restrictions. Fireworks are illegal on federal and state lands. Olympic peninsula communities welcome visitors, and ask people to celebrate and recreate responsibly, keeping fire danger in mind, especially during the Fourth of July weekend.

Information on this fire is available on Inciweb at For real time information, visit our Facebook page at:  For current information about visiting Olympic National Park, as well as information about the history and role of fire in the Olympic ecosystem, please visit the park’s website at


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 8:25am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton

Ripley and Memphis are available for adoption at Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton.

Ripley and Memphis are available for adoption at Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton.

Memphis and Ripley are 2 year-old, Black Lab/Chow Chow mix brothers.  These boys have had a hard time but, since coming to the kennel, are becoming less scared and more relaxed. They are very close and love having each other for company but can be adopted separately.

Memphis is a slim 75 pounds.  His matted coat had to be shaved due to neglect and is just starting to grow back. Ripley takes time getting to know people but once comfortable, wants to be with you all the time.  They are both very sweet and love going for walks.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help us care for them. Find us on Facebook, or contact the Adopt-A-Pet dog shelter,  on Jensen Road in Shelton, at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Community Rallies Around Jim Brown During His Fight Against Cancer

Thurston Talk - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 7:27am



By Gail Wood

indian summer logoFor Paul Bakala, it is always a pick-me-up moment whenever he sees Jim Brown.

“Every time I see Jim, he always puts a smile on my face,” Bakala said. “He always has a good word to say.”

Jim, with his friendly approach to people, has connected well with the community over the years. Whether as a member of the Olympia Fire Department, mountain bike rider, or organizer of a youth bicycling club that’s turned into one of the premier programs in the country, Jim connects.

jim brown olympia

When Jim Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer, the community stepped in to support a man that has offered his support so often.

“He’s just that guy who always has got a smile on his face,” Bakala said.

Jim hasn’t lost that smile. But recent news has added a grimace.

In May, Jim got some sobering news from his doctor. His shortness of breath whenever he’d work out wasn’t because of age – he’s 47. And it wasn’t because he’s out of shape – he goes on 100-mile bike rides.

It was because he has lung cancer, adenocarcinoma. He was diagnosed in May and is currently undergoing treatment.

“My dream has been interrupted by an unwelcome guest,” Jim said. Jim’s reaction is revealing. Rather than withdraw into despair, he went on a 92-mile bike ride. “Idiot,” Jim said about his long bike ride.

Actually, “fighter” is a more accurate description. Jim’s approach is “I can beat this.” The father of three daughters is determined to conquer this new foe.

“Our family has a rough road ahead,” Jim said. “It goes down as the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but we will get through this.”

Jim said he’s been through the remorse stage, the crying with family. “I am now putting on my game face,” he said.

Jim and his family aren’t going through this alone. They’ve been surrounded by friends. His request list is short.

“I am not too proud to ask for prayer,” he said.

jim brown olympia

Jim Brown is the founder and Executive Director of the non-profit, community based, junior cycling development team, Rad Racing Northwest.

And now that Jim is facing cancer, friends are wanting to stand with him. To help cover his medical costs, friends have put together a fundraiser on July 11 to raffle off a $2,800 Kona mountain bike that was donated. Tickets for the raffle are $5. The benefit starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Westside Tavern.

Jason Casebolt, a long-time friend of Brown’s and who once worked alongside him as a paramedic, is overwhelmed by the support and concern people have shown for Jim.

“There’s been a huge outpouring of support for Jim,” Casebolt said. “I get to see it from many different perspectives.”

There’s concern, questions about how Jim is doing, from people in the fire department and from the cycling community. Casebolt has even seen “Hold Fast” bumper stickers on cars. Jim has written that old Coast Guard saying on the back of fingers. It’s a reminder of his commitment to persevere.

“It’s interesting to see the outpouring of support from people I work with and cyclists in other states,” Casebolt said.

Jim, who was in the Coast Guard, has touched so many people. Beyond his focus on his own training for rides like annual Seattle-to-Portland, Jim started Rad Racing Northwest, a non-profit, junior cycling development team that’s launched national champions, some who went on to race professionally. But Jim made sure Rad Racing wasn’t just about cycling.

“It’s about teaching life’s lessons,” said Casebolt, who is on Rad’s staff with Jim. “Homework comes first. And you don’t have to win the race.”

The message is to always give 100 percent. That’s something Jim’s known for doing himself.

“When people think of Rad Racing Northwest, they think of Jim Brown,” said Derik Archibald, owner of Joy Ride Bicycles in Lacey.

And when people think of Jim Brown they also think of a good friend.

jim brown olympia

When not dedicating his time to developing young cyclists, Jim Brown is a member of the Olympia Fire Department.

“Jim is a very giving person,” Archibald said. “It’s always for the kids. It’s always for the community.”

Troy Churchwell has known Jim for 15 years, both professionally and as a partner on mountain bike rides.  Troy and Jim used to work together as paramedics. Now, Jim is his boss. News of Jim’s cancer was a shocker.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Churchwell said. “Here’s a guy who does everything right. He exercises. He eats well. I just couldn’t believe it.”

One thing Churchwell isn’t surprised by is Jim’s response. “He’s always been a fighter,” Churchwell said.

Jim has experienced the fight with cancer before when cancer took his father.

“During that whole time, Jim was very supportive of him,” Churchwell said. “He shaved his head. He put ‘Hold Fast’ on his fist back then, too. He’s going to fight this.”

Now, the community is rallying around a good friend.

“He’s made a difference to so many of us,” Bakala said. “He’s been a positive influence in our lives. He’s said some things to me that’s helped. Now, we’re going to step up and do what we can to help him.”


July 6, 1889: the last Independence Day as a territory and Olympia is on show

Olympia Time - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 6:19am
As the last July with Washington at just a territory (statehood would come in November), the people of Olympia greeted the soon to be state's constitution writers.
Reprinted in the Oregonian on July 6, 1889 (from the Olympian):
Let it be shown that the people of Olympia are on a par in social amenities with he acknowledged beauty of their city. …The tide has come to Olympia and if now taken at its flood will surely lead on to fortune if not to tame. In their daily contact with the members of this constitutional convention, the people of this city will be living epistles, “known and read of all men.” The conclusion, then, of the whole matter appears to be that Olympia has a rare opportunity of establishing and confirming its own fair name in the hearts and minds of the territory’s representative citizens.This is an early and interesting notation as Olympia's supplication to the rest of the state with its role as state capital.  I feel like we still feel this way from time to time, trying to justify our existence to the rest of the state, as if Yakima or Tacoma could rank the capital from us at any point. This is probably how we get wrapped around the axle on the Deschutes Estuary.

I'd hope by now that we just accept that Olympia is good, from a dozen or so angles. Yes, we benefit from state jobs. But, we're also a good town because of Evergreen (which probably wouldn't be here without the state government).

Eh, forget it. I'm an epistle too I suppose.

Adult Beginning Fiddle/Violin Class

OlyBlog Home Page - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 1:55pm
Event:  Mon, 07/13/2015 - 6:30pm

Have you always wanted to learn to play the violin/fiddle?

Introductory class starts July 13 at the Olympia Center. For course description/registration: logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Olympia Pop Rocks- New Local Podcast Features Olympia Artists , Musicians, and Community Activists

OlyBlog Home Page - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 1:49pm

I've been really enjoying "Olympia Pop Rocks" a locally produced, bi-monthly podcast that features interviews with Olympians involved in art, music and community activism. Recent interviewees include story-teller and performer Elizabeth Lord, commedian Sam Miller, and Meg Martin of Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Return of Daylighting Moxlie Creek

OlyBlog Home Page - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 1:09pm

From today's inbox:

A need for folks who will come to City Hall on July 7 at 7 PM (That is next Tuesday evening) and testify for Moxlie Creek.

We are seeking to draw attention to this creek-in-a-pipe. Moxlie Creek has not been studied by the City of Olympia since 1993. We want to see City of Olympia act as lead agent and draw in the Port, Dept of Ecology, LOTT and citizens to study the needs of this forgotten creek.

After Deschutes, Moxlie Creek is the largest stream flowing into Budd Inlet. Moxlie and Indian Creeks flow through Watershed Park. Prior to being encased in a pipe from Plum and Union, Moxlie was a salmon bearing creek. It provided drinking water in early days of Olympia.

The creek needs more than an occasional man-hole inspection. Moxlie Creek has salt water flowing up in the dark pipe twice a day!

Help us and come to City Hall. Just say, "We want a committee to look at the feasibility of bringing Moxlie Creek into the daylight."

Zena Hartung, Harry Branch, Daniel Einstein, and 100+ others from a recent on-line petition

The study of the Moxlie/Indian Creek basin that the County did in 1993 included a brief discussion of daylighting the creek: logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

read more

Running is a Way of Life for Coach and Teacher Linda Huyck

Thurston Talk - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 7:05am



By Isabelle Morrison

Hometown logoRunning is more than the act itself; it is empowering, and it can keep you both physically and emotionally healthy.

Linda Huyck, a cross country and former track coach at Timberline High School, knows the truth in this statement.

Certain people are simply born to do something, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Huyck was born to run. The sport is a massive part of who she is, and through it she’s been able to uplift not only herself, but others as well.

linda hyuck

Dog lover Linda Huyck celebrates her victory at the 2011 Turkey Trot 5k with “Sally Dog.”

Huyck began running in the 4th grade when she was having trouble finding a niche at her new school. “The kids were kind of mean so I would go off and read by myself,” she says. One of her teachers noticed this, and asked if she wanted to join a student track team that he was forming, so she did. “I enjoyed it so much that I started running a couple days a week with some of the teachers and counselors from the school,” Huyck shares.

After winning her first race, Huyck knew that running was something that she wanted to continue. “It was field day, and I was doing the 400 meter. I ran so hard that I cried and threw up!” she laughs. Despite being sick, Huyck believes that the success she felt after winning triggered something in her – perhaps it was confidence?

In the near future, Huyck’s natural talent and passion for the sport would land her a spot in the Olympic trials for the 2000 Olympic games. Prior to the trials, she had undergone many months of intense training led by Larry Weber, the cross country coach at Northwest Christian High School. “It was a lot of months of long miles. We were regularly hitting high 60’s and low 70’s for our mileage. There was a point where we were in the 80’s for three weeks in a row,” says Huyck.

linda hyuck

Huyck ran “back-to-back rim-to-rims” at the Grand Canyon in 2013.

When she was actually at the trials, Huyck was well aware that she would not be advancing to the games. “I wasn’t a top runner so there was no pressure. I was just like ‘ooh I’m in the Olympic trials!’ and I couldn’t help but smile.” Huyck also had the honor of meeting her idol and running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first women’s Olympic marathon champion, at the trials.

Although the Olympic Games were not Huyck’s destiny, she would eventually channel her running skills into coaching.

After graduating from Timberline High School, she was offered a coaching position at Saint Michael Parish by her former principal, Dave Lehnis. From there, coaching opportunities seemed to just spring up for Huyck.

“I love seeing my kids travel new distances and do things they never thought about doing. It’s so exciting to see someone doing something that brings them confidence and pride,” she shares. “Coaching is actually what made me want to be a teacher.” Huyck is currently an English teacher at River Ridge High School.

She has made an impact on so many young runners, and still keeps in touch with several of her former pupils. “I just got an email from someone who was in the first group of kids I ever coached. When you find out that your kids are lifelong runners, it’s pretty exciting.”

Today, Huyck is still doing what she loves; training and competing in races – but this time on a bit smaller scale than the Olympic trials. Her most recent race was the Capital City Marathon on May 17, 2015.

Huyck was reunited with her old coach for the trials, Larry Weber, in preparation for this event. “He had me running a two hour run and intervals every week for the last four weeks, which is not common – usually you get some sort of reduced run in there.”

linda hyuck

Running and racing is a way of life for Linda Huyck.

She spent a total of eight months training for the marathon, and even faced an injury. In late February, Huyck was in crutches and unable to train. “I stepped in a pothole while training and tore all kinds of stuff in my ankle. I didn’t run for a full month.”  Fortunately, Huyck was able to recover quickly enough to compete.

After coming in second place for women’s by a mere ten minutes back in 1991, Huyck had returned better, faster, stronger, and over twenty years older. She was the first woman to cross the finish line at this year’s Capital City Marathon.

Huyck was ecstatic after her victory, but like always, is still looking for improvement.

“I think I realized early on that running is a good way to bond, whether it’s an athlete and a coach or a person with a friend or peer. It’s just a great way to spend time with my friends – we work through a lot, whether it be work issues, family issues, or retelling the good times that make us super happy. Running is just a really good way to stay emotionally healthy.”

Huyck also added that new runners should try to bring a friend along, “Not only is it fun, but if you have someone you’re accountable to, you’re more likely to do it. Think about all the hideous things you can do if your friends will go with you and you’re like, ‘I will if you will.’ Then eventually, you’ll find out that you like it.”



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