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Updated: 48 min 52 sec ago

Tumwater Mayor Appoints New Finance Director Ursula Euler

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 9:09am



Submitted by The City of Tumwater

Mayor Pete Kmet announced the appointment of Tumwater’s new finance director Ursula Euler. Ms. Euler brings a strong background in local government leadership, public finance, and accounting, supported by significant academic credentials to the position.Her appointment was confirmed by the Tumwater City Council at the meeting on December 16, 2014, and she will begin working on December 18.

Ms. Euler has 12 years of municipal accounting and finance experience, and started her career as auditor for a CPA firm. Most recently, she served as the finance director for the City of Lake Oswego, OR, and previously as the Public Works finance manager for the City of Olympia. Ms. Euler earned a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from the University of Washington, and maintains a Certified Public Accountant license.

Mayor Kmet stated, “I believe Ms. Euler’s extensive experience in municipal finance and her familiarity with the local area will enable her to step in and quickly get up to speed as our new Finance Director. I’m looking forward to working with her as we develop strategies to keep Tumwater financially healthy in these challenging economic times.”

Ms. Euler said, “I am very excited about becoming part of a great team and I am looking forward to supporting the goals of the Mayor, Council and entire City management team.” The new finance director replaces Jim Hendrickson, who retired from the position in June 2014 and has served as the City’s temporary budget director through December 2014.

“Feasting with the Fleet” Available Now at Westport Winery

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 8:58am



Submitted by Westport Winery

feasting with the fleet cookbook westport wineryThe new cookbook “Feasting with the Fleet” is available now at Westport Winery. This was produced by WeFish a local organization dedicated to supporting local fishing families.

The winery’s award-winning Willapa White, a Riesling and Pinot Gris blend, also benefits this great group. Together the cookbook and wine make a great gift for anyone on your list. There are dozens of fabulous recipes and photographs packed into this delicious little book for just $19.95.

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” Vincent Van Gogh

Three Platinum Medals for Westport Winery

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 8:56am


Submitted by Westport Winery

westport winery

A popular wine, Jetty Cat Red, is one of 36 varietals made by Westport Winery.

Westport Winery earned three platinum medals at the recent Best of the Best in the Pacific Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. This is the 15th year of this event with the results announced in the winter 2014 issue of Wine Press Northwest.

Jetty Cat Red was entered into this invitational competition after earning a Double Gold Medal and Best of Class in the Savor Northwest Wine Competition earlier this year. This is a bold blend of 34 % Petite Sirah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Tempranillo, 11% Sangiovese and 7% Syrah. The winery’s tasting notes describe it as “Wall Street rich and ultra-luxurious with a bit of attitude.” In their Farm to Fork restaurant Jetty Cat is paired with Stuffed Mushrooms. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals (HAVA). The label features original art by Aberdeen’s Dr. Brian McGregor.

The delightful fortified blueberry dessert wine named True Blue also earned a platinum at this event. This wine had previously earned a gold medal at the Washington State Wine Competition. Described as having “lip-smacking goodness and antioxidant delight,” it is well-paired with Patty Cakes from the winery’s bakery. North Beach PAWS in Ocean Shores receives a portion of the proceeds from this wine.

Message In A Bottle, Westport’s blueberry vanilla dessert wine which benefited the West Coast Search Dogs of Washington was invited after winning a gold medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition. Since the platinum award this wine has sold out.

Westport Winery and Vineyards By-the-Sea with the unique outdoor sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. Westport Winery was named Best Northwest Wine Destination in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Westport’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the winery. The tasting room, gift shop, plant nursery and bakery 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 at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Fouls Kill Oly Town Artesians in 7-5 Loss in Bellingham

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 8:54am



Submitted by the Oly Town Artesians

score oly town artesiansBrendan Quilici scored twice and Tye Hastings took advantage of a double power play to score what proved to be the game winner in Bellingham United’s 7-5 win over the Oly Town Artesians at the Bellingham Sportsplex on Saturday night. 14 fouls and five blue cards called against the Artesians proved to be the difference as three of Bellingham’s four goals in the second half came with Oly a man down.

With the Oly Town roster depleted by injuries and the holidays, a newcomer started the night off for the Artesians. Tanner Williams made his debut and quickly put Oly up 1-0 on his first shift of the season three minutes into the first quarter. But Bellingham United answered back three minutes later on a rocket by Brendan Quilici that Artesians keeper Clint Lothrop had no chance at stopping. Williams again put himself on the score sheet with an assist on a goal by Justin La Torre that gave Oly a 2-1 lead through the first 15 minutes of play.

The Hammers took a 3-2 lead with a pair of goals midway through the second quarter. The first goal was credited to Kenny Parker after the ball took a deflection and slowly rolled into the corner of the goal and Gabriele Zaccagnini put Bellingham up with a goal at the 4:55 mark. Two more newcomers brought Oly level when Nate Boatright’s pass across the box was easily volleyed past Bellingham keeper Keegan Rogers by George Bundy and the half ended in a tie, 3-3.

Things looked bleak for the Artesians in the third quarter after Chris Jepson and Quilici scored a pair of goals early to start the second half. Quilici’s goal came on the restart after the Artesians were issued a blue card and put the Hammers up 5-3 with 11:19 left in the period. Nate Salveson chipped into the two goal lead with a shot off of a free kick that just got a piece of the post and ricocheted into the goal. Then with one second left, Willie Spurr scored his fifth goal of the season to pull Oly even as the horn sounded to signal the close of the third.

But the fouls mounted in the second half and a tired Artesians team couldn’t keep up shorthanded. Following a blue card for the Artesians 12th foul and another blue card on a sliding foul, Bellingham played 5-on-3 soccer for over a minute. As the first penalty came to a close and Willie Spurr sprinted onto the field, Tye Hastings launched a shot from long distance that just inched under the crossbar to put Bellingham up 6-5 with 6:33 left to play. Kellan Brown added another goal two minutes later and the Hammers held on to a 7-5 victory and moved into second place in the Western Indoor Soccer League.

Both teams played without one of their top goal scorers. Matt Stalnik (four goals) is out for the season with a torn ACL after his injury in the Artesians’ win at Arlington last week and Andrew Weishaar (five goals) did not play for Bellingham United.

The Hammers moved to 2-1-1 halfway through the WISL’s inaugural season. They sit in second place with seven points, one point ahead of the Artesians and five points behind the Tacoma Stars, who romped past Arlington in Tacoma tonight.

The Artesians fell to 2-2-0 with six points in their first season and sit in third place in the league ahead of the idle Wenatchee Fire (4 points). The Arlington Aviators are mired in last place at 0-4-0 after their loss to the Stars tonight. Four of the five WISL teams make the playoffs.

The holiday season is upon us and the Oly Town Artesians and the WISL will take a two week break. The Artesians will get a rematch with Bellingham United at Olympia Indoor Soccer on Saturday, January 3rd. First kick is scheduled for 6:00 PM, doors open at 5:00 PM. Advance tickets are available at or by calling (360) 561-7252


Heidi Lovell – Focusing Government Events on People

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 7:08am



By Chelsea Royer

indian summer logoHeidi Loveall is split between communities. Living in Montesano, yet working on the Capitol Campus, doesn’t leave a lot of time to spare, but somehow she manages to make a difference in both cities while also impacting Washington State as a whole.

As the Events and Engagement Coordinator for Results Washington, Heidi believes she has the “best job ever!” Results Washington takes a look at government related agencies, such as the Department of Licensing (DOL), and asks the people of Washington what they can do to help improve their lives. Whether this means decreasing traffic-related deaths or developing faster customer service at the DOL, Results Washington responds to the voice of Washingtonians.

results washington

Heidi Loveall loves her job and the people of Washington whom she serves in unique ways every day.

With a foundation of impacting lives all over the state, Heidi gets an even closer look at people affected through her event planning. Her largest conference of the year hosts Lean Management Training with over 2,000 people attending. Lean Training takes a project management approach to streamlining processes in order to make them the most effective they can be. This event is free for government agencies wishing to improve their customer service and performance. While useful, it’s not a thought that brings enthusiasm to many people. However, Heidi explains that the energy at such events is contagious.

From start to finish, Heidi’s event planning is people focused. With over 400 tasks organized on a spreadsheet and 80 volunteers to make it happen, Heidi manages to get 2,300 people through the door and to their seats in about half an hour. “I love detail and bringing order to detail,” says Heidi.

results washington

Every detail, including name tags, for over 2,000 people, is thought out before the event even begins. Photo credit: Results Washington

From breakout sessions to inviting guests to “do the wave,” Heidi brings enthusiasm and interest to the activities. “Energy is magic and needs to be acknowledged – even by something as silly as doing the wave,” Heidi giggles. This year, guests were invited to bring non-perishable food items to donate. The results brought Heidi to tears. “When you think about 2,000 people it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you see for yourself what a large number that is. We collected 3,230 pounds of food which equates to feeding eight families three meals a day for an entire year,” says Heidi.

By far, the event planning is Heidi’s favorite part of her job. Since the age of 17 and planning her first bridal shower, Heidi knew event planning would be the career for her. When Heidi isn’t at work, she plans birthday parties for her three children and occasionally helps with wedding or other event planning. Regardless of whether her guestlist amounts to 2,300 people or 15, she says the process is still the same. “It’s the same mindset – it’s all about the detail and thinking about the guests. I spend months asking, ‘what are the details that will make the event special? How do I infuse purpose into every detail?’”

Heidi’s event planning basics always begin with the first impression. “At the conference, my goal is for the first guest experience to be a smile and human interaction. I never want guests to arrive and have that moment of standing awkwardly not knowing what to do. I want guests to remember being taken care of.”

Heidi lives for the moment of seeing the look of enjoyment on the faces of her guests. “My favorite part of planning events is that whoever you’re planning it for, there’s almost always a moment where you get to see the look on their face. The feeling I get is the same as seeing over 2,000 people laughing and talking as it is planning a party for my kids. I do my decorating the night before and the moment my kids wake up and walk out and see it, they have this delight and they know it’s for them. And I can tell that I did something honoring to them – it’s really rewarding.”

results washington

When Heidi channels over 2,000 people through the doors of her venue – every guest is important to her. Photo credit: Results Washington

Beyond seeing the results during the conference, Heidi loves hearing about the effects post-event. In the Results Washington workspace is “the great wall of sharing and inspiration” where positive feedback is displayed. This could be from an employee whose job situation has greatly improved because of the Results Washington team, or a citizen who benefited from the same.

Heidi’s focus whether at home or at work is on people. “You plan events for the sake of people, not merely for the sake of events,” explains Heidi. Though she enjoys every moment of creating spreadsheets, making lists and planning details, Heidi lives for the way it will ultimately impact the people around her.

Capital High School’s Swimming Family is Led by Coaches Anderson and Sawhill

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 7:01am



By Claire Smith, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

dairy queenMy friends love the Capital High School Swim Team. It’s a close knit group with varying skill levels who all know what it means to say “your team is your second family.” A huge reason for this is the hands-on, family-first coaching style of girls’ team head coach and boys’ assistant coach Burke Anderson and boys’ team head coach and girls’ team assistant coach Dean Sawhill.

Maybe destiny brought the two coaches together. Anderson started swimming at a young age, and knew by sixteen he wanted to be a swim coach.  Sawhill followed the same path.  Sawhill now teaches French and German at Black Hills High School. Anderson teaches at Jefferson Middle School, and coaches the robotics team.

capital swim team

Coaches Burke Anderson (left) and Dean Sawhill lead the Capital High School swim team.

Sawhill shares his favorite thing about coaching is watching his athletes grow. Anderson also enjoys the development of his athletes, but also has a real passion for the sport. He loves seeing the joy on athletes’ faces when they complete a goal, especially when it’s on their own.

Different coaches have different ideas of what’s important and the CHS coaches have the refreshing view to not value winning above all else. Sawhill values team leadership and Anderson adds the chemistry from that leadership is just as important. And the teams have amazing chemistry among them. The boys and girls team are known for coming to each other’s home meets to help time races or to cheer each other on.

When looking for a coaching home, Anderson chose Capital based on a pure gut instinct.  He interviewed three times before securing the position, he recalls, and has embraced his position for close to thirty-two years. Sawhill has coached in Washington for thirty years and at Capital for sixteen following time at Bellevue and Olympia High School.

Sawhill and Anderson agree the word “refreshing” sums up the CHS girls season. “There were a lot of new girls and a different attitude,” Sawhill says of the 43 member team.  One of the new members, freshman Brooke Halpin, ate up the team and found the coaches engaging. “They would push and push and push you to your limits and really make you do your best, but if they saw you truly struggling with a set, they would help you modify it so you could continue to improve,” Halpin shares.

She describes her coaches as fabulous. “They’re funny, dedicated guys,” Halpin says.  She also recalls how Sawhill rode his bike to every practice wearing a beret, which certainly gave the girls something to laugh about. Halpin loves the swim team – they’re extremely supportive group of girls, no matter what. “The team always made sure that you felt like you just won your race, even if you crawled out of the pool dead last, and that’s a crazy awesome thing,” she explains.

capital swim team

Coach Burke Anderson supports his swimmers all season long, including at state competition.

When looking at the CHS boys’ upcoming season, both coaches are excited. Anderson described the team as driven, and Sawhill thinks they’re charged. Senior captain Baily Young describes the coaches as dedicated and shares the many ways they help the team succeed.

Sawhill and Anderson vary the workout schedule, making sure swimmers never get bored. They video tape all the swim meets so the boys can break down areas to improve. “This helps immensely, because we can see ourselves swim rather than just have to take the coaches word that, for example, our flips are too slow,” Young says. He also adds that the best thing about the team is the comradery they’ve formed. They cheer the fastest swimmer and a novice struggling to finish the same way – like they’re about to win Olympic Gold.

Anderson knows that the teams are going to have highs and lows and they will find their way through. Sawhill encourages the teams to sit and talk when they’ve had bad days, using the independence and ownership the coaches encourage. The family-first style that Anderson and Sawhill employ impacts their athletes and the senior members make sure the younger ones understand the true definition of family.

Sawhill and Anderson have a no-cut policy attracting a variety of swimmers and helping the teams get closer. Sawhill recalls his first year of coaching at Capital having a boy nervously approach him, asking if the no-cut policy was true. When Sawhill said yes, the boy shared he couldn’t swim. Sawhill initially began instructing him but as the season progressed, older members of the team began to step in and teach the boy how to swim. He wasn’t the best on the team, but by the end of the year, the boy was completing races and feeling proud.

The boys and girls CHS swim teams practice at the The Evergreen Swim Pool.

The boys and girls CHS swim teams practice at the The Evergreen Swim Pool.

This sense of community remains with the team today. While teammates might not be teaching each other to swim, they still offer help. From teaching tricks to forming strong friendships, the swim team’s unique connection is hard to find or replicate.

When asked why swimming is beneficial both coaches are quick to respond.  Sawhill shares it’s not only fun but you’ll learn and grow in a skill you’ll have for the rest of your life. Anderson adds it’s a great way to connect with people and make friends both in high school and beyond.

There are 86 swimmers on the Capital High School boys and girls teams. This gigantic number reflects on how the coaches work to make sure every member of the team is improving and loving the sport, no matter their skill level. It’s true the swimmers make themselves a competitive force, but it’s coaches like Anderson and Sawhill that make them a team.

Orcas in Budd Inlet

Sat, 12/20/2014 - 7:41am



For the past week or so, a pod of migratory Orcas have been viewed playing, eating, and socializing just off Boston Harbor.  It’s a treat for Olympia residents and visitors alike.  Thanks to our friend, Chris Hamilton, for sharing these outstanding images of the Orcas over the past week.

 Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton  Chris Hamilton

Spencer and Ben Rex Source Antiques, Sell on eBay and Share Profits Locally

Sat, 12/20/2014 - 7:20am



By Margo Greenman

SCJ Alliance logoThere are many ways for kids to earn money and learn the value of the all mighty dollar. Whether slinging hamburgers in high school or mowing lawns during summer break, youngsters are always finding creative ways to make a couple extra bucks. Olympia residents and brothers, Spencer and Ben Rex, are a great example of this, and their first “job” may surprise you.

ebay store

Spencer and Ben Rex invest time, research and care into every item they sell on eBay.

It all started one evening when a family friend, David Postman, came over for dinner at Spencer and Ben’s parents’ house. The boys’ parents, Peter Rex and Ann Flannigan, were chatting with David and his wife when a story about a recent sale David had made on eBay piqued Spencer and Ben’s interest.

The item sold was a vintage motorcycle helmet David had purchased while scavenging garage and rummage sales one weekend. David purchased the helmet for $2, but sold it for quite a bit more – several hundred dollars more, to be precise.

Spencer and Ben, then 11- and 10-years-old, were fascinated about David’s find and asked him if they could tag along with him during one of his Saturday morning “hunts.” Excited to share his hobby with the boys, the three set out the following Saturday.

“Our first day was great,” says now 14-year-old Spencer. “The first day we went out, we went to a sale on Black Lake and found this old electric guitar pickup. We ended up selling it for $375.”

Ever since their first find three years ago, the brothers always look forward to their Saturday mornings with David and are eager to find out what they’ll discover next.

But, while hunting for treasures has become a hobby for Spencer and Ben, it’s not all just fun and games. While the brothers have a great time searching for antiques and collectible items with David each Saturday, there’s a lot of time, research and hard work that goes in to running a successful eBay business.

ebay store

These roller skates are just one example of the many items Spencer and Ben Rex find while searching for collectibles and antiques.

“It means giving up your weekends,” explains Spencer. “We do a ton of research. We take photos. We work hard on the descriptions. We have to package our items so that they don’t break in the mail. It’s very hard.” Soon-to-be 13-year-old Ben adds, “It’s a job. It takes effort and time.”

Spencer and Ben’s mentor and business partner, David, couldn’t agree more. David, who has been collecting antiques for, well, as long as he can remember, says it takes a special kind of person to take the time to research, clean and repair the collectibles, then advertise them online and answer questions. “It’s not necessarily easy,” he says. “A lot of people don’t want to do it.” But that’s just not the case for young Spencer and Ben.

What do mom and dad think of their son’s success? They couldn’t be more proud. “They’ve learned about writing, accuracy, photography, history, fashion, research, money management and so much more as a result of this partnership,” explains Ann. “My one contribution to the ‘company,’” she continues, “was to suggest early on that 10 percent of their sales go to charity. [I] wanted to teach them about how the better we do in life, the more we can and should share with others.”

Since Spencer and Ben started selling on eBay three years ago, they have donated 10 percent of their annual profit to a charity of their choice. And, because Spencer and Ben get better at their job each year, each year the checks get bigger.

ebay store

Spencer and Ben Rex present Community Youth Services with a check in the amount of $525.

In the past they have donated to Seattle Children’s Hospital and Wounded Warriors, but this year they decided to put their hard-earned dollars back into the Thurston County community by presenting a $525 check to Community Youth Services (CYS). “This [donation] will help people in our city, at our school, and in our neighborhood,” explains Spencer.

And Community Youth Services couldn’t be more thrilled about the generosity of these two boys.

“Most kids in our community grow up in safe, loving supportive homes. But there are lots that don’t, “ explains Community Youth Services CEO, Charles Shelan. “The nice thing about these two young men who are helping us today is that they are showing empathy and compassion for those who have less. We cannot do this job ourselves. We need the community. And when we are able to then bring young people into the fold to help, that sends an even greater message. And for that, we certainly appreciate this donation.”

As for what’s next? Spencer and Ben plan to continue their Saturday mornings with David, finding antiques and collectibles, selling them on eBay, and sharing their profit with charities doing good things for the community. Whether they’ll still be at it 30 years from now? Only time will tell. But one thing is certain: Spencer and Ben understand the value of the mighty dollar, and what it means to share the wealth.


Last Minute Shopping Guide around Olympia

Sat, 12/20/2014 - 6:56am



tumwater auto spaThe shopping days are numbered.  Actually, maybe we should count the hours instead.  Let ThurstonTalk alleviate your anxiety of finding the *perfect* gift.  Use our last-minute shopping guide below to cross all those important people off your list and produce loads of smiles when the wrapping paper is torn off.

For Her:

  • Stocking stuffers galore can be found at Bon Lemon.  The West Olympia shop shares space with Spruce, a skin care and waxing shop.  Pick up a pair of earrings, a beautiful scarf and add a gift certificate for waxing or a facial and you are done. The prices are so reasonable you will be shocked and the complimentary gift wrapping will make you look like a hero.  You can feel good about your purchases because 100% of Bon Lemon’s profits head straight back to local charities.  Read more about the sister duo that runs this space here.
  • Fashionistas will love a treat from Sweet Life near Capital Mall or step into Vivala across from the Olympia Farmers Market.

For Him:

  • Fill up a growler at Three Magnets Brewing.  The newly opened, downtown Olympia brewpub serves up tasty beer and yummy eats in both the bar and family-dining sections.
  • Walk over to g.miller.  The men’s clothing store in downtown Olympia is bursting with custom clothing ideas for your special guy.

For Kids:

  • You can’t beat a stop at the newly opened Captain Little toy store.  Started by our friends at Compass Rose (a great stop for more gift ideas for everyone on your list), Captain Little should have you checking off the little one’s wish list promptly.  The hand-selected toys, art supplies, games, and baby gifts are light years ahead of the big box store.  Learn more in this article.
  • The Timberland Regional Library selected their best children’s picture books earlier this week.  Print the list and then look for one of these titles at Orca Books, also in downtown Olympia.

For Foodies:

  • Everyone knows foodies and wine go together.  The Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway Wine Manager picked a few of his favorite bottles in this article.  Swing by either of the locally-owned stores and then just add a bow.
  • Locally made, gourmet condiments, roasted nuts, cheeses, breads and other delights can be found at the Olympia Farmers Market. The market is open daily through Christmas Eve with special hours for the holiday shopping season. Consider giving a subscription to a farm share box. Find details from the produce vendors at the Market or read this article to learn more and select a farm.

For Home:

  • Just glancing at the sparkling displays in Drees of Olympia will entice you to step inside. Find gorgeous home decorations and other delights in this downtown Olympia establishment. Read more about the shop’s 85-year history here.
  • If Santa can’t fit a TV down the chimney, let the informative staff at DescoAV give you ideas on how to get the best visual on your favorite reality show or the ideal sound so you can hear Seattle Seahawks games as if you were on the sidelines.

Other Ideas:

  • Our Small Business Saturday article is bursting with even more ideas. All the stores listed are Olympia-based retail shops. Find the article here and #ShopSmallOly.
  • I’m a big fan of the gift of experience. If you want some ideas in this category, click on this outstanding article that serves up at least 10 waste-free gifts that will create life long memories.
  • For a quick gift idea, try a gift card to a locally owned shop like Tumwater Auto Spa. It’s a fast way to bring a smile to any car owner’s face.
  • Another ThurstonTalk writer pulls together some thoughts on meaningful gift giving. Click here to read that article.
  • Olympia is loaded with well-managed, impactful non-profit organizations. Make a financial gift to a local organization. Find one that matches your interests in this section of our website.
  • Perhaps instead of wrapping presents this year, you can wrap someone in a hug. Here are ideas on where to volunteer throughout Christmas and the New Year.

At ThurstonTalk, we believe in telling positive stories about people, businesses and organizations that do good things in our community. Shopping local is a mantra that we not only encourage but do so ourselves. If you have story ideas or comments on this article, email us at

Thriftway Wines: Versatility in Action

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 2:44pm



By Kathryn Millhorn

wine shopping olympia“Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. While it may not treat actual weather-stains in this season of dingy damp, it’ll sure help your holiday attitude stay sunnier than our forecast.

Locally Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway are a hub for some of our region’s most spectacular wines at the lowest prices. Rob Backman is their caped crusader, Direct Store Delivery Manager by day and Beer, Wine, and Liquor Manager by night. His goal is to bring the best products to the best customers for the best prices, no matter what.

One of his current favorites is exclusive to the Ralph’s and Bayview stores. The Benson Vineyards Estate Winery of Manson, WA, offers a red blend called ‘Rhythm’. Backman considers it to be “off the chart in quality, low in tannins, and versatile at an everyday price.” This wine is a combination of Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon and the vineyard’s #1 seller. Most retailers sell Rhythm for $28 but Backman was able to negotiate an exclusive price of only $12.99 a bottle.

wine shopping olympiaWhile skillful wine pairings are the hallmark of a successful holiday meal, Backman is proud that Rhythm goes well with anything. He, personally, has had it with everything from bratwurst to Copper River Salmon and filet mignon and it is always a beautiful compliment.

Through the hard work of creative buyers like Backman, Thriftway’s wine sales are consistently high. The holidays, however, definitely see the stores going through a “crazy amount of wine.” Because of his skillful bargaining, other Benson Vineyards reds, which usually retail for $30-$50, are only $19.99. His goal is simple: “I want something you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

The mark of a true oenophile will be their response to the following phrase: Thriftway has Figgins. Are you scratching your head in bewilderment? Keep reading. If you’re flying out the door, buckle up and don’t forget re-usable shopping bags.

What is Figgins, you ask? It is the rare, bottled sunshine of a Walla Walla Valley winery whose entire stock usually sells out in less than a month. This small-batch wine is prized and typically ranges in price from $129-$139 a bottle. While supplies last, the two local Thriftway’s will sell it for $99.99 a bottle and quantities are very limited.

These deep discounts often result in a “feeding frenzy” of buyers. As Backman says, “these are the bottles you don’t see in an everyday store. It’s all about getting a good deal and passing it on to the customer.” He’s had customers buy out their entire stock of a favorite vintage thanks to Thriftway’s availability and competitive pricing.

wine shopping olympiaWhether you shop for wine as a gift or to accentuate a sumptuous holiday meal, Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway offer a unique, affordable selection. But more than that, their customer-centric attitude can be seen in the knowledgeable sellers who can match you with just the right bottle for just the right price.

Louis Pasteur once declared that “wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.” While it shouldn’t be used in lieu of a flu shot, it’ll certainly help with the winter doldrums, visiting in-laws, office parties and overlong school vacations.

While visiting, sample the holiday spirit (not spirits!) and jog your creative party spirit. You never know just what you’ll find to make the season bright.

Ralph’s Thriftway can be found at 1908 East 4th and Bayview is downtown at 516 West 4th.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 6:44am



dreesEvery Friday, ThurstonTalk brings you a highlight of weekend events.  Our diligent Editing team pulls together this list from our packed event calendar that includes even more things to do around Thurston County.  This time of year, it’s especially fun to make the list because the choices of family-friendly holiday events is so long.  Explore what Thurston County has to offer you and your family this weekend.  Bring along some holiday cheer.  Mix up the tradition with some new activities.  Regardless, enjoy the weekend and the holiday season.  Cheers!

Submit an event for our calendar here.

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

Little Caesars Announces New Tumwater Location

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:24pm



Submitted by Little Caesars

tumwater pizzaIt’s Pizza Pizza time!

Little Caesars Pizza is excited to announce its new location in Tumwater. 5729 Littlerock Rd Ste B101, Tumwater, WA 98512 is celebrating their grand opening on Tuesday, December 30th.

We look forward to serving the Tumwater, WA community and surrounding neighborhoods with delicious Little Caesars HOT-N-READY® pizza.

Giving back to the communities in which Little Caesars does business has been part of the Little Caesars business philosophy since shortly after the franchise began in 1959. Little Caesars looks forward to continuing its support of the Tumwater, WA community and supporting local school, church and community organizations. To get more details please contact Brieanna Beck,

The restaurant will open on Tuesday, December 30 at 11:00 a.m. with food samples, free give-aways, and a special appearance by Little Caesar.

Winter Break Camps and Activities Throughout Thurston County

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:56am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

capital medical centerAs the schools of Thurston County let out for Winter Break, parents and students are trying to find ways to enjoy every minute of it. These upcoming weeks are the perfect time for kids to enjoy activities across our area.  Here are a few ideas.

2nd Annual Girls Winter Summit at YWCA

Attention Thurston County girls ages 10-14 – this year’s free YWCA Winter Summit has a fun-filled day planned for January 2. Workshops will focus on this year’s theme: “S.T.E.M., Social Justice, and Art.” Some of these happenings include Gardening with GRuB, Self-Defense, Theater, Salmon Dissection, and Anatomy. Lunch and snacks are provided for this all day event and takes place at South Puget Sound Community College.

ywca winter summit

Girls from across Thurston County come together January 2 to further their exploration of science and the arts.

Lacey Parks and Recreation

From ski trips to visits with Santa, Lacey Parks and Recreation has a wide variety of activities for any age during Winter Break. The Snowball Express Winter Break Day Camp includes events like ice skating, swimming, skating, and movie days to keep children occupied and having fun. Space is limited for all of the break events so be sure to check out their site for an updated list of available spots for these entertaining events.

Olympia Parks and Recreation

Every day of Winter Break is packed full of adventure with Olympia Parks and Recreation. These day camps offer supervision for age groups of children 6-9 years old and 9-12 years old. Activities include swimming, rock climbing, tubing, sledding, snow shoeing, skating, and more. Registration is available online or over the phone at (360) 753-8380.

hands on childrens museum

Students engage with interactive materials, creating their own play at the Hands On Children’s Museum. Here two boys created a “maze” using magnet rods and balls.

Hands On Children’s Museum

Half-day camps will be available throughout Winter Break at the Hands On Children’s Museum. Museum members get a discount on the camps which are either one day or two days in length. There are age groups of 3-Kindergarten and first through fourth grade. Expect a variety of science labs, crafts, painting and more. For online registration visit the HOCM website or call (360) 956-0818 ext. 103.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County

All of the Thurston County Boys and Girls Clubs are offering day camps during Winter Break. A breakfast and afternoon snack are provided each day. Children of all ages will be able create and play together during the day with organized activities provided. For more information and registration information visit the website for Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, or Rochester branches.

Black Hills Gymnastics Winter Break Camp

Tumble through Winter Break with the day camps offered at Black Hills Gymnastics. Children ages 6-12 are welcome to sign up for a full day of gymnastics. There is also a half day camp available for preschool aged children.

For even more to do over Winter Break, check out our events calendar featuring activities across Thurston County.


Thurston Commissioners Ban Insecticide from County Properties

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:08am



Submitted by Thurston County

Thurston County Commissioners have amended the county’s Pest and Vegetation Management Policy (PVM) to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on County owned or managed property. The action furthers the county goal to minimize the use of pesticides and favor the use of least toxic pesticides when they are necessary, and help set an example by avoiding the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

Commissioner Sandra Romero says neonicotinoid insecticides have been linked to the loss of bee populations and the collapse of bee colonies.

“Since 2006 there has been a significant increase in the collapse of bee colonies and declining populations of bees in Washington State and the nation. Bees and other insect pollinator populations are critical for food crop production and agriculture, and the state and local agricultural economies are highly dependent on pollinators. The continued viability of the agricultural industry is important to food security and the agricultural heritage of the region and the health and well-being of county residents.” Such insecticides can persist for year in soils where they can be absorbed by non-treated plants.

The amendment to the PVM Policies will also bring that document in line with current best practices used by county staff. It also fits in with goals of the “Thurston Thrives” program and the Thurston County Strategic Plan by minimizing the county’s environmental footprint, protecting and restoring the water quality and helping sustain biodiversity and ecosystems.


Teens Find Fun and Friends in Magic: The Gathering

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 7:01am



By Sara Hollar, Olympia High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

dairy queenSince its creation in 1993, Magic: The Gathering and its community have been thriving world-wide.  Luckily for local Magic enthusiasts, Thurston County provides plenty of opportunities to get involved in the game. In fact, the area is a sort of Magic paradise, especially for teens. From school clubs to card shop tournaments, now is a great time to be a Magic player.

Magic: The Gathering is a fantasy-based trading card game that allows players to build decks and compete. It can be played one-on-one, in tournament style or with drafts where players draw random cards to make a deck. The game involves complex rules and strategy both in playing against competitors and building decks.

magic the gathering

OHS junior Adam Sloma shows off his Magic deck. He considers this his greatest accomplishment when it comes to Magic.

Many players spend quite a lot of time and money creating the perfect deck, which consist of 60 plus cards. When it comes to Magic, Adam Sloma, a junior at Olympia High School, is most proud of his mono-green, ramp deck. “I’ve thrown a lot of money at it,” he says.

Of course, the total cost of playing the game is really up to the player but most admit that it’s not the cheapest hobby. Stacia Hollar’s 16-year-old son, Devan, has been playing off-and-on since 2007. They both agree that quite a bit of money has gone toward the game but Stacia doesn’t mind. “I think of it as an investment. Magic keeps him entertained now and eventually the cards could be worth some money,” she states.

Devan and many of his friends play Magic regularly and they each have a unique story about their experience with the game. Some players, like Adam, have been playing since grade school. Other teens discovered Magic through their friends. They spend hours in basements and around kitchen tables learning to play, building decks, holding drafts and trading cards. “I like hanging out with friends and just playing. There is direct social interaction. You can just chill with your buddies, it’s like poker,” comments 16-year-old Nolen Young.

For a few players, the game is a family affair. Connor Soots, an OHS junior, was exposed to Magic by his parents. Erin Snodgrass, also an OHS junior, has been playing since she was four. Her dad, brother, uncles and cousins all play Magic. Her dad and OHS teacher, Tim Snodgrass has a special role in the Olympia Magic community as the staff advisor of the Olympia High School Magic: The Gathering Club.

Erin Snodgrass and Owen Thompson face off during OHS's Magic Club.

Erin Snodgrass and Owen Thompson face off during OHS’s Magic Club.

Tim originally ran the OHS Dungeons and Dragons club but many of its members graduated. Instead, a group of juniors asked Tim to advise a Magic club. Starting officially this school year, the club has already seen fantastic turn-out. Players of all ability levels are welcome during the Friday morning flex hour. The club is currently running a tournament to allow students to compete against each other but Tim emphasizes that the games remain casual and fun.

“Magic club is an area of interest for kids. It’s a place to go and I hope it’s always that. Its just students participating in things they enjoy,” Tim says.

The club members agree that Magic is also a great way to meet new people. Players span from freshmen to seniors and although the main demographic is boys, there are a number of girls that play. Erin Snodgrass highly recommends the game to any interested women. “Sometimes it’s a little rough with all the testosterone but I would love for more girls to play,” she laughs. “It’s very fun and it’s not just a ‘boys’ game. I think girls would like it.”

Magic Club provides a great opportunity for OHS students but Magic players of all ages can find a caring atmosphere at Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey. OCC, as its regulars affectionately call it, is the local go-to for all things Magic: The Gathering. Owner Gabi Trautmann bought the store when she was 18, incidentally on the same week that Magic was first published. She’s been a part of the community every step of the way. Currently the shop hosts Magic events almost every day of the week, including Beginner’s Night and Lady Planeswalkers, a night for women Magic players.

Games aren’t only played during the designated Magic times though. “We always have people playing randomly whenever they want because we have so much game space. Just about every minute that we’re open there is someone playing Magic,” Gabi describes.

magic the gathering

Forrest Kim (L) and Tyler Murphy trade Magic cards at Olympic Cards and Comics.

The strength of the Magic community at Olympic Cards and Comics is a little awe-inspiring. With Gabi at the helm, players create a welcoming and open environment for players of all skill levels. Some customers have been going to Olympic Cards and Comics for decades and Gabi has watched kids grow up in her store. She recounts that one of her favorite memories of the Magic community was a tournament held in order to raise funds for a young woman in Renton who was wheelchair-bound in a car accident. “It was quite touching to see the community come together like that,” Gabi remembers.

One Saturday night, Forrest Kim and Tyler Murphy can be found trading cards in OCC’s upstairs game area. Forrest is a 20-year-old student at The Evergreen State College who has played for four years. Thirteen year old Tyler attends Bush Middle School and started playing six months ago. They both play usually three nights a week at OCC. Neither has friends from school that play Magic but they have found a group at Olympic Cards and Comics that loves the game as much as they do. They have become friends with one another and others at the shop, despite obvious differences. Making friends at the shop isn’t uncommon, in fact Gabi says it’s one of her favorite parts about her job.

“Every week, there’s just kids who come in here and hang out. They’re a part of something. You can see them protect each other and hang out and build friendships that are going to last forever,” explains Gabi. “There’s a lot of kids here who have been friends for a decade and the only thing they have in common is Magic. They go to different schools, they’re different ages but they have the common denominator of Magic.”

Showcasing the Season at The Gift Gallery in Tumwater

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:53am



gift gallery tumwater

The Gallery’s Christmas tree is decorated entirely in handmade goodies.

Despite the absence of a white winter, I still agree with funnyman Mo Rocca that “Christmas is a stocking stuffed with sugary goodness.” And for a one-stop shop to fill that stocking, visit Tumwater’s The Gift Gallery LLC, a wealth of everything wonderful our region has to offer.

Owner Linda Miller fills her store with the wares of more than 30 vendors from around the area. Hailing from Thurston, Lewis, and Grays Harbor counties, these artists and crafts people keep her booths stocked with jewelry, toys, housewares, holiday decorations, gift items, antiques, and food treats of every variety. These local artisans are always happy to discuss custom or personalized orders and often live locally to expedite turnaround time.

The Gift Gallery’s individualized attention makes them a home-grown treasure no matter what your gift-giving need. Looking for a Seahawks, Mariners, Huskies, or Cougars patterned teddy bear? They’ve got ‘em. Local huckleberry honey? Check. Chocolate nut toffee packaged as reindeer poop? Yup. Vintage, one-of-a-kind jewelry? A gorgeous assortment, ready to go.

Linda moved the store to its current Capitol Boulevard location five years ago after spending almost three in Lacey. The shop often hosts local authors for readings and book signings, ‘Vendor Appreciation Day’ where customers can meet the artists, and even free monthly jewelry appraisals complete with tasty food samples galore.

Miller works hard to keep her merchandise as local as possible since handcrafted items are always the most popular. In their Food Court section, you’ll find offerings from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Colorado. These range from coffees, teas, and cocoas, to cheese dips, candies, honey and jellies, and all manner of savory and sweet delights.

gift gallery tumwater

Owner Linda Miller loves to showcase local artists and artisans in her Tumwater shop.

Holiday shoppers looking for unique ornaments, Secret Santa gifts, or stocking-stuffers can start with a large, festive Christmas tree featuring only handmade ornaments. These are sure to be a hit in any home, office, or gift exchange.

The Gallery will also save the day if you’re completely stumped on your gift-giving list. Their skilled staff will help create gift baskets for any occasion or recipient, with complementary basket, stuffing, wrapping, and ribbon to accentuate your chosen treats. You’ll definitely look and feel like a shopping master.

Are you an artist, tradesman, or creative crafty soul? The Gift Gallery is always looking for new vendors and loves to showcase emerging—or established—talent. Give the shop a call or stop by to discuss their array of booth options.

During the month of December, the Gift Gallery will offer an assortment of special holiday events for their guests. Every Wednesday is Senior Day, with shoppers 50+ receiving a free gift with a $10 purchase. If you’re wandering the aisles and find a tucked-away bunny stamp, bring it to the front for 10% off your purchase as part of the month’s delightful ‘Find the Bunny’ promotion.

gift gallery tumwater

Art, jewelry, gifts, and tasty treats fill the aisles of the Gift Gallery.

Saturdays in December also feature multiple raffle drawings throughout the day. Selected winners, who don’t need to be present to win, will be able to choose a gift from those donated by the shop’s many creative sellers.

Located at 5113 Capitol Boulevard SE in Tumwater, Southgate Shopping Center, Exit 102 off I-5, the Gift Gallery is not to be missed. Whether on a mission for something specific or simply treasure-hunting on a lazy afternoon, the sights, smells, and surprises you’ll find make it well worth the trip.

The shop is open from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. For December only, they’ll also be open from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Sundays and 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Call 360-491-4917 with questions or special requests. Visit their website or Facebook page for updates, event postings, and amazing inventory slide-shows.

Fashion Designer Rebekah Adams Draws on Deployment Experience

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:39am



By Cara Bertozzi

creative officeLife inspires art, and passion stokes the fires of creative genius. When Rebekah Adams of Rebekah Adams Design (RAD) was selected for the Bellevue Collection’s Independent Designer Runway Show (IDRS), she had just arrived from the east coast with her husband. He deployed shortly thereafter, and the challenge of preparing for two shows, Vancouver Fashion Week and IDRS, was just the ticket to staying busy and fulfilled for the duration of their separation.

A framed photograph of billowing Army parachutes transporting heavy tanks like feathers high above the earth provided a mix of contrasts and a dramatic landscape that captured Rebekah’s eye and reminded her of her husband. She purchased a vintage parachute on eBay and began sketching ways to incorporate the material and the Airborne spirit into her designs.

military clothing

Hand-drawn parachutes float on silky grey and blue tops.

Rebekah silk-screened a hand-drawn ethereal outline of the chutes onto some of her pieces. The clothes progress from muted greys and blues with fitted structured silhouettes to the collection’s turning point, a cobalt blue dress with bilateral exposed zippers that can be used to convert the dress into a chic maternity piece. This dress represents the breathless moment of standing at the door of a perfectly good plane at high altitude and choosing to lean out and abandon yourself into the jet stream. Perspective changes as all the senses heighten, and the blues of the expansive sky intensify in the chaos of the initial free fall.

The collection shifts at this point into green and brown tones representing the tumble toward earth. Huge swatches of parachute material and rigging comprise high-drama flowing dresses. Texture plays a starring role in the looks as well, with a range of fabrics from pleather, polyester georgette, and nylon to faux polyester snakeskin, chiffon, and vintage wool.

When Rebekah moved from North Carolina, she was fortunate to be joined by two friends whose husbands were also reassigned to the same unit. The three ladies all share a Midwest connection as well and pitched in on Rebekah’s senior project during their time in NC. They were thrilled for another chance to work together professionally with Rebekah’s selection for the fashion show.

military fashion

Mandy models a transitional maternity dress that can accommodate a growing belly.

Amanda Guydan has expertise in a fascinating range of fields. She has degrees in chemistry and law and has worked as a forensic scientist, but she also has an affinity for planning and directing promotional events. Amanda is the event planner for RAD, coordinating the crew of models and looks in hectic performance environments with aplomb; she is also the official collection photographer, and her discriminating eye for detail helps to differentiate and showcase the products. Her latest venture is as a small business owner of the Lacey-based company Amanda Guydan Photography, which specializes in wedding, event, and portrait photography.

Mandy Rose works in Marketing and Public Relations and brings those skills to bear at RAD. She loves capitalizing on the opportunities that social media creates for sharing content and images. She is also sometimes a model and can be seen bringing Rebekah’s designs to life in Amanda’s photographs.

These remarkable women agreed to let me join them on a blustery day at McChord Airfield’s Heritage Hill fleet, an outdoor collection of the McChord Air Museum. They were conducting a fashion shoot, my first, with the well-preserved retired planes that grace the park. The grounded planes seem to come to life as the wind plays with the copious fabrics of the parachute dresses and Mandy walks in the clothing to demonstrate its movement. The shots are amazing. Everyone is practically giddy.

military fashion

Rebekah (left) directs Mandy (not shown) while Amanda (right) clicks away, capturing the designs in motion.

Rebekah is thrilled with the reception of her clothing in the greater Puget Sound community. She now has designs for sale at Sassafras Boutique, a purveyor of locally made clothing, where her first sample sale is upcoming on Saturday, December 13 from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 14 from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.. She is also busy preparing her Fall/Winter 2015 collection for Seattle Fashion Week 2015, which runs March 4 – 8. The concept is still coming together, but printed fabrics in rich colors are in order. What started as a creative way to repurpose hand-me-down clothing from her older siblings (Rebekah is the sixth of nine children) has turned into a legitimate business gaining traction in the fashion world.

As with many pursuits, Rebekah views her designs as an extension of herself. In addition to creating beautiful yet practical designs, she wants to be intentional in the way she interacts with the world. Textiles can be obtained through fair trade and responsibly sourced without compromising on quality. At RAD, it is important to consider all of the stakeholders that contribute to the final product.

By the end of the photo shoot, Mandy is shivering, Amanda has her photo editing work cut out for her, and Rebekah has to transport the now-hangered looks to their next engagement. But they accomplished what they came to achieve. For these friends, it’s all in an honest day’s work, for which they are paid in clothes.


Thrifty Thurston Enjoys Free and Fanciful Fun at the Olympia Library BiblioBall

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 6:00am



By Gale Hemmann

greene realtyThere’s no denying it: winter’s here. Amidst the chilly weather and many holiday obligations, you may find yourself looking for something fun and different to do. Something festive and special, but not your typical holiday event. Something the whole family can get out of the house and enjoy. Well, I have just the answer.

library events

The Youth Services team brings fun to the library – here, they are dressed up in Halloween costumes (from left to right: Emily Vineberg, Mary Rulewicz, and Sara Lachman). Photo courtesy of Olympia Timberland Library

The Olympia Timberland Library is affectionately known as “Olympia’s Living Room.” But on the evening of Saturday, December 20, it will be transformed into Olympia’s Ballroom for the first time ever. The first annual BiblioBall, a formal ball for all ages, is a family-friendly event full of dancing, live music, crafts, and gift-making. It is totally free, open to everyone, and promises to be a “magical evening of fairy-tale fun.”

Dressing up in fanciful clothing and spending a glamorous (yet free) evening at the local library? I have to admit, the idea of the BiblioBall intrigued me. I met with Mary Rulewicz and Sara Lachman, library staff, to find out more about this unique community party.

Lachman got the inspiration for the event on a trip to New Orleans, where she attended a wonderful intergenerational dance. She thought the Olympia community would also respond well to the idea of such a fun, festive evening for all ages. The other Youth Services staff, Mary Rulewicz and Emily Vineberg, were on board and have all worked closely together to make it happen, with the support of the other library staff and the Friends of the Olympia Library.

So, what can you expect to do at the BiblioBall? This after-hours community event, which runs from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., offers a smorgasbord of activities. Listen to live music by the Contra Quartet and boogie down on the dance floor. Local printmaker Mimi Williams will lead art activities (you can follow her on Facebook here). Kids will have plenty of opportunities to make handmade holiday gifts. The whole family can enjoy light refreshments, a drawing for a prize (a print by Williams), and a “gift-worthy book sale.” Attendees will also have a chance to make their own special masquerade mask to wear.

You can also get free photos taken in a photo booth. Everyone is encouraged to attend in their “finest fairy-tale fashion or formalwear.” This could mean anything from that prom dress you have in your closet to a thrift-shop score to a handmade creation. Re-purpose an old Halloween costume or wear your fanciest attire. Dressing up in creative outfits will definitely enhance the fun and magic of the event for kids (and adults too). This is “Olympia formal,” so creativity and imagination are what count. There will also be a “fairytale promenade” for those who wish to show off their costume creations.

library events

Two teens model their cosplay fashion on the runway at the Library Anime Convention held for teens during the summer reading program. There will also be a fashion promenade at the BiblioBall. Photo courtesy of Olympia Timberland Library

Lachman and Rulewicz told me about the plans to transform the library space into a whimsical fantasyland for the ball. Luminaries created for the Procession of the Species are being provided by Procession founder Eli Sterling and volunteer Nichole Rose. The library atrium will be turned into the dance floor. And, Rulewicz notes that this is also a wonderful chance to share the library’s folk and fairy tale collection (enduring classics for all ages, and a great choice for family reading time) with a special display. “This is a low-stress, fun event for everyone, and of course it also has a literary element,” she says.

One thing that always impresses me about the library is how they offer such creative and original activities. If you’re looking for free, family-friendly fun that encourages kids’ love of books, check out some of their ongoing activities and other upcoming events. They offer popular weekly story times for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as well. Older kids can join book clubs, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for teens.

The Olympia Library staff and volunteers are excited to see the BiblioBall come to life. They are hoping to make this an annual event, with a different theme each year. “We think the library is a treasure, and we want to share this treasure with the community,” says Rulewicz.

The BiblioBall is sponsored by the Friends of the Olympia Library (“like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter).

The Contra Quartet is part of the Olympia Contra Dance Community, a non-profit which celebrates this unique style of music and dance. (You can also find them on Facebook.)

Since the event is held after-hours, no regular library services will be available. For more information about family programming at the library, visit the Olympia Timberland Library’s website and follow them on Facebook (and check out this past Thrifty Thurston article).

library events

Kids have fun at a Musical Story Time event at the library with Olympia artist Nikki McClure (left), library staff Mary Rulewicz (center), and local musician Greta Jane (right). Photo courtesy of Olympia Timberland Library

Like all library events, admission to the BiblioBall is free. Drop by any time the library is open (see their hours here) to learn more details, dig out some fun costumes (or hit the local thrift shops), and you’re on your way to one enchanted evening.

BiblioBall 2014: Fairy Tale Formal

Olympia Timberland Library

313 8th Avenue Southeast in Olympia

Saturday, December 20, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Find more details on the Facebook event page or the library website.

Commissioners Move Transportation Benefit District One Step Closer

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:22am



Submitted by Thurston County 

The traffic circle at Yelm Highway and Boulevard are interesting additions to the vehicle landscape.

The roads, bridges, and infrastructure of Thurston County need additional fund to maintain the growing needs of the community.  The Transportation Benefit District seeks to find those needed funds.  

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners voted today to support the creation of a Transportation Benefit District in unincorporated Thurston County—the first step in a process that will allow the county to seek additional funds for maintaining and preserving the county’s roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure.

“It’s clear we have an urgent need to address our aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Creating the district will be an important step forward toward meeting those growing needs,” said Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela.

State law authorizes cities and counties in Washington to create local transportation benefit districts to help fund public transit operations and local transportation infrastructure. With today’s vote, county commissioners have cleared the way to create the district in January. The three commissioners would make up the board of directors for the district, as state law requires.

One of the first issues commissioners would tackle as the board of directors for the new district would be examining the various funding options available to transportation benefit districts. One option allowed by state law is collecting an annual car licensing fee of $20 for vehicles registered in unincorporated Thurston County, which would raise approximately $1.8 million annually for preservation and maintenance of the county’s transportation infrastructure. The district’s board of directors would also need to determine the criteria for choosing transportation projects, and develop a district work plan with a list of priority projects.

“We’ve been talking about it for some years now, and while I think we have a ways to go before we commit to a funding mechanism, I do believe laying the foundation today is prudent,” said Commission Vice Chair Sandra Romero.

Commissioner Cathy Wolfe said, “I think today we’re setting the stage for finding the solution for our aging infrastructure. I’m looking forward to doing a great deal of outreach and discussion with people in the community about our roads priorities.”

Thurston County’s transportation system has an estimated value of more than $750 million and includes:

  • More than 1,000 miles of roadway
  • 109 bridges
  • 47 miles of trails
  • More than 110 miles of sidewalks
  • More than 23 miles of guardrail
  • More than 1,000 street lights
  • Nearly 6,500 storm drains
  • 256 storm water ponds
  • More than 17,000 traffic signs

While the county’s transportation system is extensive, it also is aging, and the county is struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of maintaining the system. In the last ten years, the revenue the county receives for transportation has grown 16 percent, but the costs of construction have grown by about 80 percent in Washington state, and that wide gap is only growing. The cost of some materials used in road construction are rising at an even faster rate, such as the cost of chipseal, which has more than doubled in the last ten years.

“Clearly we have a fundamental problem with the growth in costs far outpacing our revenue, but having a transportation benefit district for the unincorporated county will give us an option to start addressing the problem,” said Ramiro Chavez, Director of the county’s Public Works Department. “The TBD is not a silver bullet for our funding problem, but it will allow us to make strategic investments in maintaining and preserving the system, and protect what we have in place today.”


New Group at Saint Martin’s Makes A Stand Against Violence

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:54am



By Gail Wood

dairy queenWith the recent public focus on professional athlete’s involvement in domestic violence, Stephen Mahnken sometimes felt a little uneasy about telling someone he was an athlete.

Mahnken, an outfielder and a pitcher on Saint Martin’s University’s baseball team, wanted to help change that perception of male athletes. So, he joined SAVE, an on campus group that is an acronym for Saints Against Violence Everywhere.

“It almost seems that there is a negative connotation of calling yourself a male athlete now,” Mahnken said.

athletes against violence

Alice Loebsack recruited Zach Carter (left) and Stephen Mahnken to join a new club at Saint Martin’s University that focuses on stopping domestic violence.

“I was always taught that being a male athlete is a privilege and you use that privilege to help others and to be a good role model,” Mahnken said.

The purpose of SAVE, which was recently created by Alice Loebsack, SMU’s head trainer, is to both help change perceptions of male athletes and to help and prevent domestic and other forms of violence. Like Mahnken, Zach Carter, who also plays on SMU’s baseball team, wanted to help the victims of domestic violence.

“One thing I like about the group is our saying – we stand because no one deserves to stand alone,” Carter said.

Their club is there to help people who think that they’re not safe and that it’s not a safe world.

“There’s a lot of violence going on,” Carter said. “This group is standing up to say hey, we’re here. We want you to know that there’s someone here standing against all those kinds of acts. That’s what got me involved.”

The club also hopes to change negative perceptions of male athletes by doing something good, by connecting with food drives or with helping hands projects. They’re considering teaming up with the Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County. They also want to raise money for a battered women’s shelter.

“It’s asking ‘what can you do about helping,’” Loebsack said.

athletes against violence

The group started meeting in September and between 13-15 athletes show up weekly including Mahnken (left) and Carter.

In late September, Loebsack organized the first meeting. There were 15 male athletes at that first meeting and between 13 and 15 at every weekly meeting since. The club is a positive counter to the negative news about male athletes.

“After all the negative publicity from the NFL this past fall I got to talking with Stephen and Zack about what interest would be out there,” Loebsack said. “They seemed really interested. We informally put out flyers to invite people to just talk.”

SAVE’s objective is to help stop domestic violence, bullying and other forms of violence. It’s also a hand of support reaching out to the victims.

Part of SAVE’s message is to change an athlete’s own definition of what it means to be a strong, tough male. While that rugged, determined manner is fine while participating in sports, Loebsack said there has to be a friendlier, less aggressive off-the-field manner.

“You don’t have to be violent to be a strong, effective athlete,” Loebsack said. “You don’t have to bring that home with you.”

While an objective of SAVE is to let female victims know that they aren’t alone, the purpose of the club isn’t counseling. It might console, but now counsel. That’s because SAVE members don’t have that training and experience to be a counselor.

athletes against violence

The club intends to move out into the community to provide education around stopping domestic violence.

“They would not be out there counseling,” Loebsack said. “You know that these guys are standing for something. They would help them find the right people. But they’d be by no means counseling. They’d just be letting them know that there’s someone supporting them.”

With the club’s emphasis on doing good and helping, Loebsack said the conversation about male athletes would continue to be positive and not negative.

“It used to be you could say ‘oh I don’t participate in domestic violence or other forms of violence,’” Mahnken said. “Now, it’s become an issue and you have to be more proactive. When Alice brought it up I thought it would be interesting. No one should have to deal with anything like that and they shouldn’t have to go through it alone.”

The club has taken a pledge to not only stand against violence, but to pledge that they’d stop it when they witness it. Their objective is to also help stop domestic violence, bullying and other forms of violence.

“Next semester we hope to go out and talk with the community about domestic violence. We want to educate that we need to rally together and stand up,” Mahnken said.

If you need help, contact Saint Martin’s University Counseling and Wellness Center at 360-412-6123, the SafePlace Help Line at 360-754-6300 or the Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties at 360-586-2800.