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Timberland Libraries Boost Service Hours

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:44am



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library


Senior - Older couple TRLLibrary patrons in the five-county Timberland Regional Library (TRL) service area asked for longer hours; starting September 2, they’ve got them! District-wide, 26 libraries and the Ask-A-Librarian service will add hours – a total of 58 more each week. The increased schedules come at no additional cost. TRL administration, branch librarians and staff members gathered public comments in the libraries, at public meetings and from online surveys. They counted usage hours, studied peak use times for computers, meeting space and circulation materials. Then they got creative – shifting people and duties into longer open hours and reducing the amount of work done while libraries are closed. Many communities will experience an increase in Saturday hours, resulting in all libraries being open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The new schedule provides more consistent, easy-to-remember opening times and in the largest libraries an extra hour on Friday evenings. “Libraries are at the heart of healthy communities,” Timberland Library Director Cheryl Heywood said. “They have one simple mission: to serve the public.”

“To do this,” Heywood continued, “we have to listen to our communities, understand the issues and make the best changes possible. More open hours,” she added, “is a very good change.”

Foofaraw: Ready….Set….Sail!

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:23am



Submitted by the Thurston County Chamber

Port of Olympia FoofarawFor over five decades, the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce has been honored to partner with the Olympia Yacht Club to host local military personnel, at Foofaraw, an event unmatched anywhere else in the world.  Always the first Friday after Labor Day, we will be shoving off from the Olympia Yacht Club main station for the fifty-second year on Friday, September 5.

One dictionary defines Foofaraw as “much ado about nothing” and, at one point in history the official “purpose” of the day, claimed that a “Foofarite [military attendee] has earned the right to say ‘Foof’ to all duties and responsibilities for one day each year.”

Foofaraw has grown to be well known throughout the United States armed forces including the 62nd & 446th Air Force divisions, the Western Air Defense Sector, Bangor Naval Station, Madigan Army Medical Center, the Washington National Guard and among many others from Joint Base Lewis McChord. Guests are transported by yacht club members to Island Home, where they are treated to a full day of games, served a terrific salmon BBQ lunch, and honored by local dignitaries.  We average two service members to every one civilian.

For the last several years, the Port of Olympia has shown their gratitude of service to our military by arranging an unofficial sendoff including representatives from local police, medic, and fire departments and always hanging a large American flag from one of their cranes.

Sponsor tickets for this year’s event are accounted for; however, we are collecting donations for the free military raffle that takes place throughout the day.

For more information about Foofaraw or other Chamber events, please call the Chamber at 360.357.3362.

Your Healthcare Connection: Oly Ortho Welcomes Dr. Tracy Hamblin

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:03am



oly ortho

Dr. Tracy Hamblin will begin seeing patients at the Olympia Orthopaedics Walk-In Clinic starting September 2.

For the most part, we are a healthy community.  We hike on the weekends, join in community 5K runs and participate in active outdoor recreation in beautiful Thurston County.  And that means for many of us, we may need a quick visit to the doctor from time to time to check out a new ache or pain or possibly an injury.

Whether you have a repetitive motion injury from marathon training or simply played a little too hard with the kids on the weekend there is a quick, easy and injury specific option beyond your primary care doctor:  the Sports Medicine doctors at Olympia Orthopaedics Associates.  The very popular sports medicine physician, Dr. Leyen Vu, has been serving patients at Oly Ortho for the last 2 years with fantastic results.  Patients are seen quickly, assessed by trained injury specialists, and treated by top physicians in the field.  Backed by a comprehensive team of surgeons and orthopaedic specialists, Dr. Vu is able to provide quick and effective diagnosis and treatment including referral to the Oly Ortho team.

And now Dr. Vu has a little help.  Oly Ortho is excited to welcome a new Sport Medicine doctor, Dr. Tracy Hamblin, providing a second physician on site daily to assess patients with sports related injuries and provide care for non-surgical musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.

Dr. Hamblin joins the group after extensive training.  A Utah native, Dr. Hamblin completed her undergraduate work at the University of Utah in Biomedical Engineering.  “I always thought when I was a kid that I’d grow up to be a doctor, but I just wasn’t ready when I finished my undergrad work,” she explains.  As a result she enrolled in graduate school at Syracuse University, earning her masters in the same field.

oly ortho

Participating in triathlons is one of Dr. Hamblin’s hobbies along with Pilates and a teaching herself to knit.

“It was my first semester of grad school,” Dr. Hamblin recalls, “when I realized I really was ready to go to medical school.”  She completed her two years of study at Syracuse and moved back to Utah, enrolling in University of Utah Medical School.  She loved being back home in the west and stayed put for her residency in Family Medicine.

It was during this time that she met Dr. Vu as he was completing his Sports Medicine work at the University of Utah.  “We became good friends.  Both of us did residencies in family medicine but we both had a passion for sports medicine,” says Dr. Hamblin.

The pair continued to see each other at professional conferences throughout the next year while Dr. Hamblin completed her fellowship at the John Peter Smith Sports Medicine program in Fort Worth, Texas.  When she was ready to begin her full-time clinical work, she looked again to her friend Dr. Vu for guidance on where she could use her specialized training in Sports Medicine.

Luckily the stars aligned and Oly Ortho was looking to expand their Sports Medicine services and Dr. Hamblin was a perfect fit.  “I really wanted to find a job where I could fully use my sports medicine training to help patients live healthy lives,” she shares.  “I also really wanted to use my unique skills, developed during my fellowship, for fluoroscopic injections to aid patient healing and not all clinics offer that service.  Olympia Orthopaedics not only offered it but was excited about my specialized training.”

Fluoroscopic injections are x-ray guided injections directed at very specific areas of a joint.  By utilizing small amounts of contrast dye in the joint, along with a live x-ray image, Dr. Hamblin is able to pinpoint an injection, directing medications exactly where they are needed, alleviating pain and helping with diagnosis of injury.

oly ortho

Dr. Hamblin embodies a “Life in Motion” with her love of the outdoors, biking and living a healthy lifestyle.

When asked what she is most excited about in her new position at Oly Ortho, Dr. Hamblin shares, “The opportunity to be around so many Ortho docs will be great.  The learning opportunities will be tremendous plus I’ll be able to use the skills learned in my fellowship on a daily basis.  But the most exciting is that this position is 100% Sports Medicine related.  It is my passion and I never tire of seeing patients with injuries and helping them get back to an active lifestyle.”

Dr. Hamblin will also serve as team doctor for many of the area’s college and high school athletes.  “I love working with the students, seeing them grow as athletes throughout the season and helping them through any injury challenges.”

She is uniquely suited to working with students, too, as Dr. Hamblin was a competitive gymnast for over ten years and continues to value an active lifestyle.  She has completed at least one triathlon a year since 2007 and explains, “I’m not out there to win the race, but simply to finish.  It feels good to finish – to accomplish my goal.  That’s what keeps me coming back to races each year.”

It’s this value on staying active and healthy that she hopes to instill in her patients as well. “Olympia Orthopaedic’s motto is to get your Life in Motion. I always try to live my life as an example for my patients – showing them that staying healthy and in motion leads to a happy life.”


Diane Hall Creates a Culture of Kindness at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary and Beyond

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:31am



By Kate Scriven

russell dentistry logoSchool may be out for the summer, but Diane Hall’s students will still be using what she has taught them this year.  As the Reading Specialist at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary in Tumwater, Hall’s students will be diving into new books, reading restaurant menus, looking for street signs and more.  Reading is all around us.

But more than that, the over 550 students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade she taught this year will be practicing creating a “Culture of Kindness” in their daily lives.  Being kind is a concept that Pete G. Schmidt teachers and administrators added to their building wide PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) this year, building on the concepts already in place of being Safe, Respectful and Responsible.

tumwater school

Diane Hall, reading specialist at Peter G. Schmidt elementary school in the Tumwater School District, created a Culture of Kindness program.

Why add being kind this year?  “We added the concept of creating a ‘culture of kindness’ this year to focus on building community in such a large school.  I have a unique opportunity to do that because I see all the students,” explains Hall.  Teaching the concept of kindness came easily to this creative, inspired teacher and mom of two kids of her own.

Combining a need to support writing instruction along with teaching the students to support one another, Hall created a school-wide letter writing project centered on the annual Math assessments.  These assessments were identified by the school counselor as one of the most stressful times for students and Hall’s goal was to ease the stress by creating an atmosphere of kindness and support among the students.

“The classroom teachers have so much work to do,” shares Hall. “To tackle something like our ‘culture of kindness project’ would be overwhelming.  But for me, seeing all the students, I can create a community-wide project and I’m grateful to be able to do that.”

Hall introduced the project to all Peter G. Schmidt students, sharing how they would write letters to students in other grade levels giving support and encouragement for their math assessments.  Letters were then delivered to students just prior to taking their tests this spring.  “The letter writing served several purposes,” explains Hall. “First it builds community.  Second, we were focusing on an authentic purpose for writing with a real audience, part of the common core writing standards.”

The older students were a bit grumbly, Hall admits, about writing a letter to a younger student they might not know.  Hall reframed the assignment, showing them this was an opportunity for leadership and support.  “It’s the first time the third graders take the MSP and the older kids had a chance to support and encourage them at a stressful time.  The big kids really liked that,” Hall shares.

tumwater schools

Over 550 students participated in the letter writing project.

The letters were crafted during time in Hall’s reading classroom and were required to include two things:  words of encouragement and at least two test-taking strategies.  “The encouragement provides community, positive reinforcement, and has the kids simply thinking positively about taking a test,” says Hall. “The strategies allow the letter writer and letter reader a refresher of some of the strategies taught in the classroom prior to taking their own assessment.”

For the younger grades (kindergarten through second grade) the students brainstormed kind words and test strategies and created a poster with their words that was delivered to their buddy classroom prior to testing and displayed proudly.  The goal of formal letter writing is not a standard for the primary grades, so Hall adapted the assignment to fit with goals appropriate for their skill building standards – writing creatively and for a specific purpose.

Here are a few of the letters that students shared with their schoolmates in the “Culture of Kindness” letters:

  • Culture of Kindness poster flower“To my buddy, I told him to make sure to skip an answer and go back later if he didn’t know it.  And just relax.” – Ben, sixth grade
  • “I wrote to be confident, not to be stressed, that you can do it and you know these answers.”  – Malachi, sixth grade
  • “I wanted to encourage other students.  Mine said to keep up the good work.” – Lillian, second grade

Students also shared how receiving the letters just prior to their test made them feel.

  • “I felt very happy to get the poster and read the kind words.  With it in here all the time I just feel happy.” – Violet, second grade
  • “Reading my letter before the test felt like it gave me more courage.” Damon, sixth grade
  • “I always get so worried at MSP time.  Reading my letter sort of felt like someone was helping me get through it and it helped.” – Morgan, sixth grade

Kindness - Madison, JakobWhat have the students learned through this project?  Certainly, they’ve learned they are all in it together when it comes to assessment.  But more than that, the students have learned that their kindness can positively impact others.  Hall hopes the lessons in kindness extend beyond Peter G. Schmidt’s walls, creating children who view being kind and supportive of each other with the same level of importance as all the other skills they learn at school.

Second grade student, Katie, sums it up.  “This is an important thing to do.  It makes people feel happy inside and it’s really important to feel happy, not sad.  It’s just better.”

Surprise Proposal With Long-Distance Ring From Hartley Jewelers

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:04am



Submitted by Hartley Jewelers

hartley jewelers

Eliot Wong worked with Hartley Jewelers via phone calls, emails and instant messages to pin down the design of this engagement ring.

Eliot Wong thought about a big box jewelry store when the time came to propose to Emily Becker, but he kept coming back to Hartley Jewelers.

Eliot, who lives in Denver, grew up in Olympia and was best friends with Travis Thornton, Hartley Jewelers’ marketing manager and son of owners Rick and Linda Hartley.

“In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to go through Hartley Jewelers, because I trust Rick and Linda,” Eliot says. “I shopped around a little here in Denver, thinking it would be easier to do something local, but I felt like I wasn’t getting the full story from them.”

Eliot wanted a very specific stone clarity, cut, size, and certification for Emily’s engagement ring, but the big jewelers he spoke to told him they don’t certify every stone because their inventory is too large to do so.

“That’s when I contacted Linda at Hartley Jewelers,” Eliot says. “And they were awesome.”

Eliot spoke to Linda in January and, working via phone calls, emails and instant messages, the rest of the Hartley team helped him find the perfect ring with which to surprise Emily.

Eliot proposed this past April while the couple vacationed in Tulum, Mexico. But before he could get down on one knee, he needed just the right ring in hand.

First he searched for clues on Emily’s Pinterest page.

“I knew Emily wanted a skinny ring because she had all these things on Pinterest,” he says with a laugh. “I had to break into her account to find a picture.”

Working with Rick, Linda, Ashley and Craig at Hartley Jewelers, Eliot pinned down the ring’s design – a narrow band with an ideal-cut, round diamond – and purchased the somewhat rare stone he desired.

“It’s very simple but elegant,” he says of the finished ring. “I wanted something that would show off the diamond and Linda recommended white gold, because it will maintain it’s high polish for longer and will be easy to restore its luster when it gets scratched.

“My ring is a really timeless, classic design,” says Emily. “I feel like if you were to find a picture of a wedding ring in a fairy tale book, my ring is exactly what it would look like.”

olympia custom jeweler

Craig Oliver has created one-of-a-kind jewelry for Hartley Jewelers clients for 16 years.

The finished design is a tapered band with a six-prong setting and a stunner of a round solitaire diamond.

“Because the ring is rather simple in design, it’s really the details that you notice,” says Emily, who likes the low setting, which helps the ring not spin on her finger or catch on things.

Eliot is quick to say that Hartley Jewelers made the whole process – even from long distance – fun and simple.

“For a guy, it can be extremely overwhelming,” Eliot says of picking out an engagement ring. “With the number of vendors Hartley Jewelers uses, they have access to tens of thousands of rings.”

But Craig was there to answer every question Eliot had about diamonds and Ashley did extensive research to find just the right band. When the first diamond they selected arrived, Rick and Craig scrutinized it carefully.

“It was a stone that was on the rare side and they did a lot of work to find it,” says Eliot. “When Rick and Craig inspected and sent it back because they didn’t think it was good enough, I just thought, these are the best, most trustworthy people in the industry.”

Eliot is the first to admit he’s a tough customer. “I was extremely picky,” he says, “and they were upbeat and very helpful the whole way through.”

In fact, the experience was educational for Eliot. “Craig, their diamond guy, is amazing. He’d write these super-long, detailed explanations in response to my questions. He really educated me far beyond what I think the normal jeweler would.”

olympia custom jewelry

Most of Hartley Jewelers staff has been with the locally owned store for more than 15 years.

With the finished ring in hand, Eliot surprised Emily – with the help of an employee of the hotel they were staying at in Tulum, Mexico.

“I had called the owner to see if I could arrange for them to put a sign on the beach in kind of an isolated area so we’d walk by and she’d be totally surprised,” Eliot explains. “But it ended up being too windy.”

So a hotel employee stood holding the sign on the beach at the appointed time and place – but mistakenly facing the wrong direction.

Eliot laughs at the memory. “So we walked right by her and I made something up – ‘Oh, hey honey, I think there’s an old Mayan ruin over here!’”

The couple turned around and the woman holding the sign ran toward them. Eliot got down on one knee and held up the very special ring.

“I had wanted to do it in an isolated, secluded area but it just so happened there were tons of people around, so we got a lot of cheers and clapping and yelling after I proposed,” he said. “It all worked out.”

“When I first saw the ring I thought, I can’t believe this is happening!” says Emily. “And then I thought it was the most beautiful ring any girl had ever said yes to. It was a really special moment for us.”

The couple will marry next June in Denver. They plan to pop in at Hartley Jewelers later this year while visiting Olympia to pick out their wedding bands.

“It’s absolutely incredible how accommodating Hartley Jewelers have been,” Emily says. “I feel like they have really gone above and beyond to help both Eliot and I throughout the process.”

“I would recommend anyone anywhere go through Hartley Jewelers,” he says, “And I actually have.” He’s suggested Hartley Jewelers to other Denver friends in the market for engagement rings.

Learn more about Hartley Jewelers by visiting


Home Brew Craft Root Beer with the Bayview School of Cooking

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 6:44am



By Cara Bertozzi

bayview school of cooking

The Bayview School of Cooking at the Thriftway presents many unique opportunities for food education and DIY culinary projects.

There are few better ways to transport back in time to the summers of your childhood than to pour yourself a cold glass of sweet, caramel-like root beer with a slightly spicy finish. Simply add two scoops of creamy vanilla bean ice cream, and you have the perfect foamy dessert.

Leanne Willard, the director of the Bayview School of Cooking (BSC) in Olympia, was exploring Puyallup for new ideas for her summer events program when she walked into the world’s largest Root Beer Store (RBS).

Willard was instantly mesmerized by their collection of more than 100 types of small-batch craft root beers, gourmet root beer varieties such as ginger beer and bark beer, and old-fashioned sodas of every shape and color, as well as fizzy candies. The store also carries extracts and brewing equipment, and thus, the idea was born to have a root beer brewing demonstration at Bayview.  The goal is to showcase the art of brewing your own delicious soda and empower people to experiment with blending root beers and find their own preferences.

As an added bonus, it is also a great opportunity to share both savory and sweet recipes that incorporate the unique flavors of sassafras and other roots and herbs imbued in this sweet beverage.

Tracy Lauricella, a passionate aficionado of home-brewed root beer, was game for the task of teaching a Make Your Own Root Beer class, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 27 at the BSC. Tracy is not an employee but is rather an ardent root beer fan.  He developed a taste for gourmet varieties by systematically working his way through the RBS selections and engaging their knowledgeable employees on the finer points of flavor combinations. Through extensive experimenting, he developed his current recipe, Anvil, which is so-named for his other hobby, blacksmithing.

Attendees can expect that the majority of class time will be spent discussing step-by-step instructions and tips for home brewing, but participants will also be able to sample and receive recipes for Root Beer Pulled Pork Sliders, Root Beer Baked Beans, Root Beer Cupcakes, Root Beer Fudge, and Root Beer Floats (with or without Bailey’s Irish Cream), which will be provided by the BSC.

bayview school of cooking

After the class, stroll along the boardwalk outside Bayview Thriftway.

Tracy will cover safety aspects of brewing regarding both the cooking method and sanitation. Next, he will elaborate on the many creation methods of home root beer brewing, ranging from simpler recipes that make use of extracts and pre-made mixes to more complicated techniques using dried herbs and fresh ingredients. Natural yeast carbonation versus forced carbonation will also be discussed, and creative methods for refrigeration and storage, from kegerators to bottling techniques, will be critiqued. Who knew there were so many angles to consider before brewing your first tasty batch of homemade root beer?

There is no better way to fully appreciate a favorite food than to put a little of your own sweat into making it yourself, and root beer is a treat the whole family can enjoy. The class promises to be educational and fun, and Tracy has promised to bring along a keg of Anvil to share.

Don’t be surprised if you are inspired to make a trip north to admire the RBS collections. In addition to more types of soda than you ever imagined existed, the store provides plenty of fodder for themed parties, a Pinterest cap art page, extracts, and brewing equipment and a root beer-of-the-month club and collectors’ items for more serious root beer fans.

Come enjoy this unique Bayview School of Cooking class offering in Olympia, or check out one of their many other upcoming cooking classes, which range from cultural cuisine explorations to educational classes for kids to tips for successfully hosting a PNW dinner party. For more information on the BSC class schedule, click here.


Saint Martin’s University Gathers for Orientation

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 6:31am



By Morgan Willie

Incoming freshmen and their parents were warmly welcomed at the Saint Martin’s University Orientation by a magnitude of helpful students on August 22. The event was easy, and steady-going.

A family would drive up to the back doors of Parsons Hall, unload a few things, and let the orientation crew handle the rest. Like little worker bees, the crew strategically hustled bed sheets, luggage, and basic college essentials to the new students’ rooms. It was quick, yet almost graceful.

Freshman Taylor White was pleasantly startled by how easy the move-in process was.

“Saint Martin’s really helped a lot actually, I was surprised,” she said. “They came in and lofted my bed for me, they helped me move anything heavy, and I was done in about an hour.”

The swiftness of the orientation allowed Taylor to concentrate on having fun and meeting new people instead of troubling over her dorm set-up.

“This entire place is super fun and everyone is friendly,” she commented. “You can walk around campus and say ‘hi’ and someone will be like ‘oh, hey, what’s up?’ You don’t even need to know somebody’s name – you can just invite them to go hang out.”

Director of Campus Life Laurel Dube was an integral part of the move-in day. She coordinated with crew members, faculty, students, and parents simultaneously to ensure the process when smoothly.

“The ultimate goal for the parents during orientation is for them to feel at ease; that after 18 years with their children they are now stepping into a family that will take care of them, and will make sure that [the students] succeed,” Laurel said. “The ultimate goal for the students is that they make a lasting connection, either with a program that we’re doing or with one of the faculty or staff members, so that they know somebody is here for them, someone they can trust for the next four years.”

Laurel truly understands how difficult a transition into college can be for some. The objective of Saint Martin’s orientation crew was to make this transition as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

“We move them into their rooms and they get a sort of crash course on what it’s like to be a Saint,” Laurel said. “It’s fun to see everything come into place and have so much happiness going on.”

Orientation crew member Hope Chamberlain showed up to the university a week early for training like many others did. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“It’s a really great opportunity to meet all the new students as they come in, and let them know what a great place Saint Martin’s is,” Hope noted. “We got in anywhere from a couple weeks to even longer. A lot of students came in really early because we have different trainings going on. I’ve been here since August 15.”

Hope was excited to share about her work on the Nortia Floor in Parsons Hall with me.

“I’m a Nortia mentor,” she asserted. “Nortia is a leadership floor, so we take freshman who either have demonstrated leadership or want to really grow as leaders and get involved in the Saint Martin’s community. We live together and they are paired up with mentors who can help them find their place and establish themselves.”

As an outsider looking in, it was easy to see that leadership, establishment of the self, and a sense of community are all vital elements in the Saint Martin’s experience. Watching the ebb and flow of orientation day at the university was just a glimpse at the true initiative and resourcefulness students at Saint Martin’s are encouraged to have. ​

movein6 movein8 movein10 movein2 movein4 movein9 movein7 movein3 movein1 movein5


Olympia Harbor Days: Tugs, Trains & Ports on the Waterfront

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 6:00am



By Lisa Herrick

oly fed sponsorCome celebrate the final days of summer and Olympia’s maritime history during the annual Olympia Harbor Days starting Friday, August 29 and concluding on Sunday, August 31. Harbor Days is a three day festival of entertainment, food, art, and history all highlighted by the vintage, working and retired tugboats that convene on the southernmost point of the Puget Sound.

The tugboats will be moored at Olympia’s Percival Landing and most will be open for tour on Saturday. Then Sunday at noon the tugs will head out for a raucous, horn blasting, water splashing display of the Harbor Days Tugboat Races in the deep channel of Budd Inlet.

harbor days“Every year we offer new features as we continue to grow the festival,” explains Shelly Lively, Harbor Days Executive Director.  “This year we will be highlighting how tugboats, trains and the port have worked together for decades.”

Harbor Days will be honoring Tacoma Rail during its Centennial Celebration at Port Plaza.  Tacoma Rail will exhibit a live engine and caboose with opportunities to tour a real working train. Train lovers of all ages will want to climb aboard.  And for the little ones, Kitsap Live Steamers will build over 100 feet of track for kids to ride a small train.

“I encourage people to start their day at the Port Plaza where there will be lots of kid activities and history of tugs, trains and ports collaborating. Then walk to the center of the festival at Percival Landing for the main stage entertainment, booths, food from around the world and of course the tugboats. Going from Port Plaza to Percival Landing will give everyone the full experience of the event,” advises Lively.

Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (32)Percival Landing will be the hub for entertainment, food and booths. This year, the Chehalis Tribe from Lucky Eagle Casino will prepare salmon in the traditional tribal way using alder wood and hot rocks. Additionally, Lopaka Logs will feature their “Tiny Cabin.”  Modeling after the Tiny House craze, Lopaka Logs custom builds Tiny Cabins hand crafted with all natural wood with functioning kitchen and bathroom.  Harbor Days presents over 250 arts and crafts, commercial and nonprofit booths throughout the weekend.

The main attraction of Harbor Days continues to be the tugboats. Pick to view the model tugboats, tour a tug, watch them depart for the races, or Take the opportunity to meet famous tugboat crewmembers such as Lenny Lekanoff, the tough deckhand from the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” As many as fifteen modern and vintage tugs are expected to participate throughout the weekend’s festival.

Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (24)“Harbor Days is a true community event,” shares Lively.  “It brings tourism to town, gives opportunity to 250 businesses and nonprofits to be on display, keeps maritime history alive, and creates opportunity for families to come together for a free event while enabling Olympia Kiwanis to offer a service to the community.”

Olympia Kiwanis hosts Harbor Days through sponsorship from organizations such as Olympia Federal Savings. “We think the world of Oly Fed,” explains Lively. “Everyone can be successful when we have organizations such as Oly Fed and Olympia Kiwanis working together to provide a community festival for families to enjoy at no cost.”

Lively continues to explain that any excess money from Harbor Days gets distributed to Olympia Kiwanis programs such as one of their three food gardens that donates fresh vegetables to Thurston County Food Bank, the fire wood crew that helps heat people’s homes throughout the winter, and scholarships for young students.

For more Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tugboat Race information click here.  Harbor Days begins on August 29 and continues throughout Labor Day weekend.


Senior Action Network to Celebrate Compassionate Service of Local Caregivers at 14th Annual Recognition Dinner

Sat, 08/23/2014 - 7:51am


Submitted by The Senior Action Network

eldery people caregiver synergyThe Senior Action Network (SAN) will present the 14th Annual Caregiver’s Recognition Dinner and Auction on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at Olympics West Retirement Inn. With an emphasis theme of Caregivers: We Celebrate YOU! the event is slated to be an evening of fun, care and honor to spotlight the many who selflessly provide medical, physical, emotional and loving support to a vast community, which includes a high percentage of senior  citizens. Both professional and volunteer caregivers are duly recognized during the night of food, story and thanks.

The Caregiver Recognition Dinner welcomes approximately 75 nominees a year from residential communities, family homes and facilities as well as private households. More than 15 will be honored for outstanding service representing their type of caregiver environment. Emcees Linda Terry, brain health learning coach, and Chris Quimby, Senior Centers Director of Senior Services for South Sound, will keep all attendees celebrating in a spirit of fun, prizes and care directed at the Caregivers to be honored.

Throughout the evening, stories highlighting the industry and individuals are sure to inspire, delight and unite the caregivers who often serve others in behind-the-scenes fashion. For the recipient of care and their families, the caregiver is actually on the-front-line providing important quality of life health and well being support. “The role of the caregiver is not to be overlooked for his or her contribution to the entire family,” notes Rick Crawford, SAN President, Thurston County Council on Aging, Senior News editor. “Regardless of whether the person works in a home or a facility, if paid or unpaid, outstanding caregivers naturally place others first. The Recognition Dinner is a small gesture to turn the tables by showing them that as family members, co-workers, bosses and related business community we know their contribution is far beyond the day to day care given. We want caregivers to be first on this special night.”

The 2014 Caregivers: We Celebrate YOU! Recognition Dinner also includes a fundraising raffle and silent auction which supports the Senior Action Network mission and programs. Nominations for Outstanding Caregiver or donations to the auction can be submitted online.

The Senior Action Network consists of more than 163 Thurston, Mason, and Lewis Counties members dedicated to enhancing the lives of seniors through business development and services. SAN members meet monthly for professional development, networking, and community service. SAN distributes more than $11,500 annually throughout senior communities and has outreach speakers available to promote awareness on topics important to enhance senior life.

The Family Caregiver: Best Job Never?

Sat, 08/23/2014 - 7:41am



Submitted by Joan Hitchens for Navigating Grief

The family caregiver: is this the best job ever or the best job never?

Interlocking hands are a symbol of connection and love especially poignant to caregivers. Photo of Navigating Grief founder Joan Hitchens and husband Dave during his time on hospice service.

Navigating Grief founder Joan Hitchens and husband Dave during his time on hospice service when she was his caregiver.

Are you a family caregiver? The one designated and dedicated to caring for a loved one through dementia, illness, or chronic disabilities that require ongoing assistance for sustaining the best quality of life possible for that person?

Being a family caregiver is the best job you may never want. For many, you wouldn’t trade the heart-held work for anything. Probably literally. The sacrifices are big, often necessary, and daunting. Caregivers place their own life on hold for the one cared for. The position can become a 24/7 job. The identity between caregiver and care receiver are intertwined as they often become one person getting through the day together.

It can last a lifetime – yours or your loved one’s – if there are circumstances from birth or early childhood that require advocacy and daily living support on their behalf. It can be short – just a few days or weeks – reeling in the sudden change of debilitating life and death emergency or accident; or it may be a few months to many years if slow end-of-life illness takes over or dementia erodes the mind of a loved one. Yet, you wouldn’t change a thing because you don’t know how or won’t step aside because of love, care and compassion. For the time, you do what you must regardless of cost – emotional, physical, financial, spiritual.

Family caregivers are daughters, son, wives, and husbands. Sometimes friends, cousins, nieces or nephews. Grandmothers and grandfathers, too. We often simplify the family caregiver as fulfilling a necessary life circumstance, and perhaps even a chosen vocation in the moment, but underneath lies an unspoken dedication, obligation and commitment that is far more than simple.

Is being a family caregiver the best job ever or never? Consider these very real mixed messages and dilemmas a family caregiver often confronts along the journey:

  • Grateful for the time spent together and resentful of no time to be and do for oneself.
  • A desire to go out and about but unwilling to leave the loved one in some else’s care (for a variety of reasons.)
  • Willing to leave the care to someone else but can’t find the proper help or support.
  • Finally getting out of the house only to use the time for personal doctor appointments and to pick up stuff for the loved one.
  • Finding time and support to get out only to realize there is nowhere to go because you’d really like to just be home and with yourself relaxing somehow.
  • Being needed and preferred by the loved one and smothered by the realization you are seemingly indispensable.
  • Providing better and more considerate care to the loved one than to self.
  • Becoming an expert in how-tos even if your inclination might not be in that particular area of expertise (such as medical care, bath aid, nutritionist or diagnostic researcher). Forced into on-the-job training without a manual.
  • Crossing uncomfortable boundaries of body care, or changing and reversing roles, such as when the child makes decisions for a parent. eldery people caregiver synergy
  • Putting own life on hold in order to hold onto life for the other.
  • Feeling unstated grief and loss for the one you care for and love as your move through the changes.
  • Accepting praise for the service at the same time you feel that it can’t be understood just how hard the life is as family caregiver.
  • Experiencing every emotion imaginable from anger to love, fear to empathy, hate to joy, and guilt to acceptance.
  • Wanting it all to end. Wanting it to never end.

The family caregiver’s job is simultaneously the most difficult and rewarding job ever. You may never want to take this job, but if you do, you are not alone. You don’t have to be isolated. You will be changed. It will be difficult. It will be rewarding. There is hope!

The bottom line is that family caregivers are people of compassion, love and desire to provide. Whether by choice or circumstance, they step in and step up for our loved ones. Family caregivers do they best they can with what they know in that moment. At the end of the day, the intense duty and learning curve is its own form of life affirming experience that makes the family caregiver into the person you see and respect today.


We can all be important support in the caregiver’s village by providing gifts of time, money, encouragement, hope and resources toward the care of the caregiver and their loved one. A small gesture of understanding for the caregiver’s well-being carries a big message. Here are two opportunities:

  • Caregiver TLC Connection support group at Navigating Grief Fourth Wednesdays. Give this to yourself, or offer respite care or paid RSVP for the caregiver to attend.
  • Nominate an Outstanding Caregiver that deserve a night of fun and recognition. (Paid caregivers in facilities and unpaid family caregivers) When someone notices and listens we heal, grow and forgive. Senior Action Network Caregiver Recognition Dinner is held each Fall. To learn more about the Caregiver Recognition Dinner and nominate a special caregiver in our community click here.


Neighborhood Notes: Page St. Cafe Serves Up Comfort Food Done Right

Sat, 08/23/2014 - 7:20am



By Giovanna Marcus

van dorm sponsorJoel Hart invites me back into the kitchen at the Page St. Cafe. He’s making béchamel sauce, the decadent mother sauce for their gravy, macaroni and cheese, and chicken and biscuit mix. While whisking equal parts butter and flour in a saucepan, he demonstrates the desired consistency, and then adds a gallon of milk heated to 175 degrees.

The restaurant is set up with a nod to the history of the 110 year-old building, with counter seating and about ten tables filling the floor. Several cooks move quickly inside the small, clean kitchen, perfectly in synch with each other so that they never crash, even during Sunday brunch.

page st cafe

Joel Hart has a deep interest in creating a family friendly space in his restaurant.

Page St. Cafe’s story starts with Hart riding his bike along Rodgers Street, where, as a six-year-old, he often stopped in at Eddy’s, a tiny grocery store where he bought Swedish Fish and candy cigarettes. (This was back in the days when his parents founded the Olympia Waldorf School.)

As an adult, Hart returned to the spot that once housed Eddy’s, this time for breakfast at what was then Sage’s Brunch House. He had a nostalgic association with the historical building and loved going there to relax with friends. Meanwhile, after over 15 years as a professional cook, he opened Dino’s Coffee Bar on Harrison Street on Olympia’s west side in 2012.

When Sage’s owner announced her retirement, Hart, 34, was offered the chance to rent the space, and he signed the lease without even checking out the place. He says he wasn’t quite ready to become a full-on restauranteur, but opportunity struck, and like a true entrepreneur, he said yes.

After a total gutting and renovation of all plumbing, electrical, and floors, Page St. Cafe cut its ribbon for business in July.

“I’m not interested in creating multi-tiered international empires,” says Hart. “I’m more interested in creating  spaces to raise families in, creating opportunities for local kids to learn a lucrative trade, and be productive members of our communities.”

Hart has a deep interest in creating a family friendly space, complete with Batman placemats, although he says the toys had to go due to an unfortunate skateboarding incident. I don’t press for details.

page st cafe

A fresh vegetable scramble is served at Page St. Cafe.

Hart is also passionate about doing everything from scratch. It’s not an accident that there isn’t a freezer, microwave, or deep fryer in the cafe. This is considered outdated and practically unheard of by modern food industry standards, but Hart smiles slyly as he boasts that their poached eggs are the best you can get. They source local produce from Wobbly Cart, and use OlyKraut in their Rueben sandwiches. Hart gets excited when he talks about Sous-vide, a superb cooking method used to cook NY steaks, seafood streaks, and lamb.

Culinary delights from the breakfast menu include the Page St. Tartane, an open-faced croissant topped with eggs, cheddar, and choice of bacon, ham or sausage patties; or the Chai French Toast, which comes with butter, real maple syrup and fresh fruit. A decadent and necessary option is the Page St. Poutine, comprised of grilled red potatoes topped with bacon bits, white gravy, and melted cheddar cheese.

page st cafe

Page St. Cafe opened in July and serves up meals seven days a week.

Those seeking serious comfort food will love it here, while those looking for lighter meal can opt for the Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad, among other not-so-difficult choices. Vegan options abound, and for those with wheat sensitivies, sandwich can be ordered to come with the most perfect gluten-free bread from Essential Baking Company in Seattle. There is also a fine selection of beer, wine, and local hard cider.

The food is “authentically American,” with a hint of influence from the three years Hart spent living and cooking in Spain. “They treat food differently there. The relationship people have with food is different,” says Hart, speaking to the level of care that goes into food preparation in Europe. It’s somewhat of a rarity for a restaurant to be open all day from breakfast to dinner, and Hart’s made it enticing for people to linger (though you won’t find wifi here).

He kept much of the Sage’s staff on board for the new venture, while bringing in a host of new, smiling talent. This cafe’s waitstaff are hip without a hint of snootiness, and genuinely kind. When I call to ask a question for this article, the server who answers the phone gushes about how Hart is the best boss in town. It’s clear that they’re happy, having fun, and enjoying the open space and its big windows, as well as the jams on the stereo that keep them moving at a steady pace as they pouring bottomless coffee and dish up some of the tastiest, freshest, most earnest fare in town.

page st. cafe

Joel Hart (right), shown here with John, kept many of the staff members from the previous restaurant that occupied the space.

Zany, thoughtful, and masterful in the kitchen, Hart credits the people in his life for helping him get the unexpected project of a new restaurant going. He’s had loyal customers who he now calls best friends, and lots of help along the way from supportive family and fans.

“Not to sound cliche, but it’s really been a community effort to get this going. I can’t take much of the credit for it. Well—except for staying up 17 or 18 hours a day to make it work,” says Joel.  He looks around as the dinner time crowd start filling the tables and pride at the family friendly space he’s created shows.

As for the future, Joel has one thing to ask the citizens of Olympia: “Who likes skeeball and Donkey Kong?” Let him know when you visit the Page St. Cafe. You’ll likely find him behind the counter cooking something delicious.



page st cafe

No deep fryer or microwave can be found at Page St. Cafe.

Page St. Cafe

903 Rodgers St. NW

Olympia, WA 98502


Follow Hart and Page St. Cafe on Facebook.

Hours – Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Love Our Local Fest 2014: Keeping it Local with Day of Fun, Art, and Community

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 11:34am



By Gale Hermann

Alley Oop Logo“Rise up and share your Oly love.” This is what Love Our Local Fest (or LOLFest for short) calls for the community to do each year. And so far, they’ve been responding.

Now in its fourth year, the annual Love Our Local Fest takes place on Sunday, August 24 from 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m at the intersection of San Francisco Avenue and Bethel Street in Northeast Olympia. The festival is free and open to everyone. The goal of the day is to celebrate community and showcase what Olympia has to offer. The day features live music, an artisan marketplace, great local food, kids’ activities, and much more. This year there will also be a community mural unveiling at 2:30 p.m.

Love our local fest

Now in its fourth year, the Love Our Local Fest is a community gathering to celebrate all that’s positive in our community, from arts to nonprofits to a community mural. Photo credit: Forward Photo

The event is definitely family-friendly, and kids will have a great time exploring it with you. There is also an annual “Kids’ Dance Party” that’s been a huge hit.

LOLFest’s Truly Local Origins

I spoke with Olympia resident Daniel Landin, one of the festival’s founders. He lives in the Northeast neighborhood, and said LOLFest grew out of neighbors’ desire to have a big “block party”-style celebration. Landin said that over the years he’s lived in Olympia, he’s been very inspired by the Procession of the Species and wanted to build on that energy of the community coming together at its best.

Landin and Marie Poland got the festival up and going the first year, in 2011. Since that time, Landin, Poland and Shari Trnka have kept up its momentum. (Poland is on sabbatical this year.) Landin organizes the music for the festival, and plays with the “klezmer orchestra” Erev Rav, who will be playing at the festival.

I also spoke with festival co-coordinator Shari Trnka. She got involved in Love Our Local Fest its first year as a vendor, selling her unique line of clothing, Trnka. The second year she offered to organize an official Artisan Marketplace. This year, she is coordinating not only the Artisan Marketplace but the food, non-profit, and Healing Haven areas as well.

Trnka says her inspiration for the festival comes from her experience as a clothier. “I have a personal mission of making more opportunities for artisans to bring their creations to appreciators in our own community. I want folks who make cool tuff and live here to be able to sell locally,”

love our local fest

Dancing is always part of the day at Olympia’s Love Our Local Fest. Photo credit: Forward Photo

I asked Trnka what it was like to help organize the festival. “It’s a tremendous amount of work in preparation but when the day is here, the joy in the streets is amazing with so many folks out enjoying the creative abundance. It’s great to see so many friends and make new ones as well. The children are in bliss, as the adults mingle, laugh, dance and connect with other local folks making amazing creations and doing important service work.”

So far, the festival has been a hit. The first year drew about 500 people, says Landin. The past couple of years have seen attendance grow to over 1,000. The number of booths has also increased, from about 15 to start to over 100 planned this year. And yet, as the festival has grown, it’s maintained its hyper-local focus.

Exploring the 2014 Festival

So, what can you plan to do at the Love Our Local Fest? I learned a little about this year’s highlights to share with you.

Hear Live Music: Love Our Local Fest is known for its epic music lineup. Landin notes that you can hear great, diverse live music all day long – for free. The music fills two stages at LOLFest and features eight Olympia bands. The funk-pop group The Brown Edition headlines the day. You can also catch Zimbabwean marimba with Mukana Marimba, swing and acoustic music by Chickadee, and bluegrass from the Oly Mountain Boys. You can even join in live salsa dancing hosted by DJ L-Leon and DJ Kalambre of Jalapeno Productions. (View the full music lineup here.)

love our local fest

The local band High Ceiling rocks out during their set at the Love Our Local Fest last year. LOLFest is known for having great live music all day. Photo credit: Forward Photo

See the Community Mural: A must-see at LOLFest this year is the unveiling of the new community mural. The mural project was led by Olympia artist China Faith Star, who was selected through a juried application process. Using input provided by Northeast neighborhood residents, Star created an outline of the mural across five sheets of birch plywood. She then invited the community to come fill it in with color. Over 20 volunteers helped paint the mural during a painting party held at the Olympia Little Theatre.

Star says the collaborative nature of the project inspired her to apply to lead it. “I set up a structure for how the community could contribute freely their own ideas of patterns and color combining for the final execution of the piece.” She says the results of the community effort are great. “Everyone involved added such amazing and beautiful heartfelt work to the piece, small nuances.”

The mural represents over 200 hours of work by local residents and Star. She invites you to come check it out. “I just want everyone to see it for themselves, the people of our community, visitors, all of the children waiting for a school bus or skipping along in the field. I hope people find in this mural a reflection of ourselves as a community. Come to the festival for the unveiling and take a picture in front of the mural, and share it with friends and family,” adds Star.

Browse the Artisan Marketplace: Local artisans of all sorts will have their handcrafted wares for sale. You can check out art, jewelry, woodwork, herbs, body care products, and much more, all made right here in Olympia. Local resident Shanty Slater, who has hosted many Make Olympia markets, will be selling her jewelry and screen-printed linens. You can also check out some of the thoughtful handmade items by Trnka. “I make one-of-a-kind clothing primarily out of upcycled natural fibers,” she describes. Do some shopping and learn more about these local artisans.

love our local fest

Two kids enjoy a pie contest at Love Our Local Fest 2013. Photo credit: Forward Photo

Grab a Bite: There will be many interesting local food vendors onsite, including the delicacies of the Nineveh Assyrian Food Truck (I highly recommend the deep-fried cauliflower). Eastside Big Toms, a sponsor of the event, will also have their delicious trademark burgers and veggie burgers available. There will be everything from salads to sweet treats to choose from, as well as MantRaw Kefir Soda, says Trnka. “I suggest not having lunch before coming to the festival this year.”

Visit Healing Haven: The “Healing Haven,” sponsored by Vibrant Health, will be staffed with local holistic healers of various practices. Come get a mini-massage, an acupuncture treatment or a tarot card reading, to name just a few options.

Learn about Nonprofits: Many nonprofit groups will have booths at the festival this year, and with a focus on hands-on activities. Stop and check out the Eco Building Guild and Fertile Ground Guesthouse.  You can also learn about the missions of SideWalk and Transition Olympia, two social transformation groups. Feline Friends, a cat rescue organization, will also have a booth with an art activity for kids.

So, grab the family or your friends, your appetite and your Olympia spirit and head to the Love Our Local Fest. No matter how long you’ve lived in Olympia, you’ll be surprised at how many new favorites – music, food, and local goods – you’ll come across. It’s Olympia at its best. And you don’t want to miss it.

love our local fest

Love Our Local Fest is a place to celebrate everything you love about living in Olympia. Photo credit: Forward Photo

The festival is supported by local businesses including: Rainy Day Records, the Olympia Food Coop, Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway, Eastside Big Toms, Lew Rents, Olympia Federal Savings, Trnka, KAOS Community Radio 89.3 FM, Starchild Creative,, Morgan Hill Attorneys at Law, the Northeast Neighborhood Association and the City of Olympia.

For more information, check out their website or join them on Facebook.

4th Annual Love Our Local Fest

Sunday, August 24, 2014

At the Corner of San Francisco Ave. NE and Bethel St. NE in Olympia

Festival hours – 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Get complete festival information here.


Try a Free Introduction to Square Dancing at Olympia’s Lac-A-Do Hall

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 8:09am



Submitted by Nancy Raiha

Lac-A-Do Hall square Dance“Swing your partner and do-si-do!” Who knew?  The Olympia area has an active and vibrant square dance community.  Almost every night of the week, you can find dancers having fun at Lac-A-Do Hall,  located at 1721 46th Ave NE in Olympia. Square dancers of all ages and walks of life come together to laugh and dance with their friends. And they would like you to join them.

It’s not the square dancing of your childhood – when you went to the gym because it rained.  The hall is full of flashing smiles, tapping feet, and modern music of all types. Some people wear petticoats or western shirts, while others dress more casually.

Everyone is enthusiastic about their favorite form of recreation.  When you ask what keeps them square dancing, the same words pop up over and over: Friends, fun, fellowship, fitness, and food. Linda has been dancing just over a year. She says, “It is so much fun! It has changed my life and brought me lots of new friends.”  Kathy, who has been dancing for more than twenty years says, “Square dancing makes me happy and healthy. It puts the fun in my life.”  Dan has danced for 13 years. He says square dancing is “a social activity that keeps our minds and bodies young . . . a group of friends who are always glad to see you and feed you too.”Lac-A-Do Hall square Dance 2

The Olympia Area Square Dancers are sponsoring a Free Introduction to Square Dancing at 6:30 p.m., Thursday September 11 at Lac-A-Do Hall, 1721 46 Ave NE. It’s a great opportunity for a good time, and to see what modern square dancing is like.  Couples, singles, and families, ages 10 to 110 are welcome. If you want to take square dance lessons, they start at 6:30 on Thursday September 18.

Nikki started square dance lessons two years ago, and now dances almost every week. She says, “I hate to exercise, but love to dance.  However there is a side effect to square dancing; my memory, stamina and agility are really improving.  Great, huh?”

Curtis started dancing in 1989.  He says, “You are never alone at a square dance. There is great music, wonderful friends and a lot of fun, and it isn’t expensive.”

For more information, visit Or call Ed at 352-2662 or Nancy at 438-1284.

Saint Martin’s University Offers a New Look at Education

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 7:20am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

saint martins universitySaint Martin’s University is in constant expansion. This includes additions to their growing number of majors offered. As of this year, the university will be up to 25 programs specific to qualifying students for jobs outside of the classroom. One of the new programs for the 2014-2015 school year includes a bachelor of arts degree in educational studies.

“The educational studies program is designed to teach individuals the best teaching practices to support learning and how to administer learning programs,” explains dean of the College of Education and Counseling Psychology, Joyce Westgard, Ph.D. “While it does not lead to teacher certification, it provides students with the in-depth knowledge and skills necessary to become effective teachers in those non-school careers in which teaching is an important element.”  This newest degree program adds breadth to Saint Martin’s well-regarded education offerings, which includes bachelor’s programs in elementary education, special education and secondary education, which provides initial teaching certification, as well as master of education (MED) and master in teaching (MIT) programs.

“There are many people who want to learn how to be in a learning environment and work within community organizations,” specifies Westgard. “Students who graduate from this program will be able to work with many groups of people and develop programs that are community based. They will be able to prepare presentations and manage groups. They will take on leadership roles with groups of youth and adults.”

saint martinsThere are five areas of focus for this new program: Community Education, Early Childhood Education, Foundation Studies in Education and Culture, Health and Fitness, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). These five focus areas are intended to help the student find a focused career using their degree. Some of the job opportunities available to graduates of the program include working with children at HeadStart, daycare facilities, a classroom paraeducator, coaching, recreation programs, career centers, non-profits, tribal programs, English as a second language education, and technical writing.

“Each focus is individualized for the student within the cohort,” explains Westgard. “One third of the program is made up of college level education courses and another third is hand picked by the student for their focus. We are trying to keep these credits in line with their career path. The final third is made up of electives which again are picked based on their focused program.”

“We’ve had students move on from similar programs that have been individualized and work in some incredible community organizations,” says Westgard. Some of these organizations include zoos, state legislature, and the continuing education system. “Many international students who are interested in education go back to their home countries with this degree and can take on leadership roles in their community.”

Innovative degrees such as the newly offered educational studies continue to put Saint Martin’s University at the top of education. “The Fall cohort is looking great and we hope to grow from there,” says Westgard. “Some students were waiting at the doorstep and ready to go on this journey. It’s really all about developing a program that helps to lead students in the direction of writing, presenting, and leading our community.


Students Find A Challenge Worth Chasing At Serendipity Academy

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 7:12am



By Gail Wood

New CBM LogoThree years ago,  Lynnette McCarty and her husband opened a private elementary school in Tumwater, fulfilling their dream and giving parents an option to schooling their children.

The school’s mission is to ensure each student’s success. To fulfill that goal, Serendipity Academy, with its certified and passionate teaching staff, creates a healthy and challenging education environment.

olympia private school

Kelsey Hickey, Whitney VanGorkom, Nicholas Heelan, and teacher Heather Randolph work with an expert at the Burke Museum learning about fossils.

“I think what separates us is that we meet the children right where they are,” McCarty said. “As opposed to one singular curriculum. We do what we can to give to the child what’s going to make them successful.”

McCarty said a benefit to attending Serendipity Academy is the teacher-student ratio. With an enrollment of 60 students, the teacher-student ratio is 15-to-1. Classes are no bigger than 15 students.

In the fifth and sixth grade classes, the teacher-student ratio is even lower. With smaller classes in the fifth and sixth grade, it’s about 5-to-1. That allows for more teacher-student interaction, giving students struggling with a problem more access to help.

“We try to meet the level of the kids wherever they are when they come to us,” said Emily Walsh, the principal at Serendipity Academy. “And we try to push them as far as we can with their education.”

In 2000, Serendipity Academy started with one kindergarten class. Later that summer, Dan and  Lynnette McCarty bought the building that housed the kindergarten class and continued to expand. On Sept. 6, 2011, Serendipity Academy opened, offering classes from kindergarten to sixth grade with a state-approved program. Walsh became the school’s principal in February 2013.

A goal of Serendipity Academy is catering student needs with curriculum.

“I’ve always believed that the public school system works more with the mindset that every child, no matter who they are or where they come from, fits in to the round hole,” McCarty said. “If they’re a square peg and they don’t fit in the round hole, somehow there are gaps and that’s what sets us apart.”

At Serendipity Academy, it’s an educational experience that’s aimed at learning by doing and by experiencing.

“We try to learn through projects,” said Emily Walsh, the academy’s principal. “We have lots of field trips.”

In addition to field trips to museums and doing service projects like taking water samples, students at Serendipity Academy also get to hear from experts in their field. It’s hands-on learning, or learning by doing.

“They can relate a little better when they’ve been out in the field and learning things,” Walsh said.

On Water Quality Monitoring Day, Kai Nicholas and Nicholas Heelan test water samples from the Deschutes River.

On Water Quality Monitoring Day, Kai Nicholas and Nicholas Heelan test water samples from the Deschutes River.

Besides class sizes, another benefit to attending Serendipity Academy is that the school is doing its best to teach every subject. They have music specialist, art specialist, and P.E. specialist.

“We’re still trying to keep all that, whereas the public schools a lot of times with all of the testing requirements, a lot of your day is taught teaching reading and math,” Walsh said.

And some those other subjects get pushed aside in a public school as the focus and budget is on state testing.

“And the science piece gets left out,” Walsh explained. “Or the art piece gets left out. Or the music. All those things help make kids a well-rounded child and have a well-rounded education. Those things sometimes get pushed out unfortunately. We do our best to keep those things in.”

At Serendipity Academy, teachers shape their classes and assignments according to their student’s needs and abilities. For example, Walsh said if a first grader was capable of doing fourth grade math, then they’d do whatever they could to get that student working at that level.

“So they could really excel and work at the level they’re capable,” Walsh noted. “We meet them at their needs, at their level.”

Conversely, if a second grader is reading at a first-grade level, then that student is assigned reading at the first-grade level.

“We have the ability to do that with our small class sizes,” Walsh said. “We have a real collaborative teaching team that is willing to share the knowledge and work together and figure out how we can meet everyone’s needs and not just how do I meet my student’s needs, but how do I meet all the student’s needs.”

Another reason Serendipity Academy is attractive to parents thinking about enrolling their child into a private school instead of a public school is the opportunity for their child to develop leadership qualities and talents. The academy has student government. There are elections and input in planning at the school.

Student Council members sort coats from Serendipity Academy's winter coat drive with One Warm Coat.

Student Council members sort coats from Serendipity Academy’s winter coat drive with One Warm Coat.

“They become the communicator for their class,” Walsh said. “And this small group helps make decisions for our school.”

Another area Walsh said students can get involved in outside of the classroom is with the Green Team, which works with recycling and compost. That group was also involved in community projects.

“They find out what we can do to help the earth by recycling and by composting,” Walsh said.

While Serendipity Academy is a private school, it is not a religious school, explained Walsh.  Instead, academics are their focus.

“That’s one reason why parents come to us,” Walsh noted. “They might want the private school and not the religious affiliation. That’s another thing that sets us apart.”

Understanding that education doesn’t happen by accident, Walsh said that successful education is a cooperative effort between teacher, administrator, parent and child. In the school’s mission statement it says “We celebrate the pursuit of lifelong learning and are committed to nurturing high self-esteem and respect for others. We believe the overall development of the student is fundamental to their success and their future.”

McCarty added that an important part to education is keeping the student challenged. A bored student is an indifferent student. Serendipity Academy has a solution to that problem.

“If a child is bored they may end up with negative behavior,” McCarty said. “We can challenge them. And when they’re challenged the child is happy and learning and growing as a child should.”

McCarty has been working with education for 25 years and has owned Serendipity Academy for 21 of the program’s 25 years.

“We know what we’re doing,” McCarty said. “We have great teachers. We have great specialists on board. Every thing we have on board exceeds a public school because we are small in classroom size. We can meet the individual needs.”

For more information, go the academy’s website at

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 6:21am



Ahh… the glorious sun is back in the forecast, just in time for the weekend.  If you want to take it easy and relax with a cocktail or entertain a wild crowd of kids, we have you covered with loads of activities around Olympia this weekend.

Pick from this list of things to do in Olympia this weekend.

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.

Old L-4 Bridge Is Gone, New Bridge Pilings Going In

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 4:56pm



Submitted by Thurston County

L-4 bridgeThe old L-4 Salmon Creek Bridge structure has been demolished out on Littlerock Road Southwest, and crews are ready to install the new pilings for a brand new L-4 Bridge structure. The L-4 Bridge project is well underway with lots of activity, and crews remind residents that all traffic must stay out of the active construction zone, and that includes all walkers, joggers and bicyclists, as well as cars and trucks.

“We are right in the thick of the construction action at this point, and it is really not safe for anyone to be in the construction zone,” said Brandon Hicks, Public Works Construction Manager. “Obviously with the old bridge gone, it’s impossible for people to drive through, but we actually have had several joggers and several bicyclists wander through, and we need to get the word out that the road is completely closed to everyone—walkers, joggers, bicyclists, everyone. It’s for everyone’s safety.”

The L-4 Bridge was closed to all traffic on Monday, August 11 so that crews could demolish the old bridge structure and install a new bridge from the ground up.

Public Works staff members first discovered problems with the old bridge structure back in January. When inspectors examined the bridge, they discovered that the center pier was failing, and that the old bridge was unsafe and needed to be completely replaced.

Construction crews have up to eight weeks to complete the removal of the old bridge and the first phase of the new bridge installation. Once the first phase of construction is done and the new bridge structure re-opens to traffic, crews will continue working on the bridge, and motorists using the bridge are asked to drive slowly and take caution in the active construction zone to help keep workers safe.

The new bridge is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

To learn more about the L-4 Salmon Creek Bridge Project, and to stay connected with project updates and traffic alerts, visit the L-4 Bridge project web site at


Smart Energy Today Inc Listed as #4 Among Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Washington

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 2:05pm



Submitted by Smart Energy Today, Inc.™


smart energy today

The Smart Energy Today Team

Smart Energy Today, Inc.™, (SET) a energy company, announced today that Inc. magazine has named it one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.

Smart Energy Today Inc.™, Named to Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies for the first time ranked SET at number 336.  The ranking is based on growth over the last three years.  SET reported 1381% growth over that period.

The 2014 Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies is ranked according to percentage revenue growth.  To qualify, companies had to be U.S.-based privately held, for profit, and independent — not subsidiaries of other companies — as of December 31st, 2013.  The minimum revenue required for 2013 was $2 million.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the country’s fastest growing companies and couldn’t have done it without all our wonderful customers and our team of employees who are on the front lines everyday,” said company spokesman Julie Murray.  “Our company mission remains focused on providing high quality and competitively priced products for home improvements that will decrease energy consumption, lower the cost of energy bills and most importantly increase the comfort level in our customers’ homes.  SET is also committed to maintaining excellence, integrity and longevity in all aspects of our operations and our professional business conduct.”

In the last three years the SET team has grown from 2 employees to over 65.  The company adds hundreds of new customers to it’s roster every month and continues to grow exponentially.  The company currently serves all of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California and Pennsylvania with plans to enter British Columbia, New York, Maryland and South Carolina in the next year.


About Smart Energy Today, Inc.™

Smart Energy Today, Inc. ™ provides homeowners with a comprehensive range of home improvement products and services that include photovoltaic solar systems, design, installation and maintenance, solar ventilation, skylight tubes, mass insulation, reflective insulation.  The company also does roofing which includes repair, replacement and cleaning as well as gutter cleaning and repair.  Formed in 2008, the company is privately held, holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and is located in Olympia, WA.  For more information, visit or call 1-888.405.8689.

“Reach Out at the Well” Aims to Build Downtown Community from the Ground Up

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 8:48am



Sumitted by Reach Out at the Well

artesian wellOver a dozen local organizations and community projects are banding together for “Reach Out at the Well,” a street outreach and volunteer recruitment fair.

The free event will take place Friday, August 22, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Artesian Commons Park in downtown Olympia, 415 4th Ave E. All are welcome, and organizers promise free info, snacks, shade and smiles.

“There’s a lot of talk these days about how to help downtown,” said Renata Rollins, event coordinator. “There’s also a lot of action, but it’s an unsung story. Reach Out is a chance to chat with folks doing the work, learn about available resources for coping with homelessness, illness, violence or job loss, and find out how you can make a difference in the community through street outreach work.”

Participating organizations include Community Youth Services, POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights), SideWalk, Thurston County Food Bank, Partners in Prevention Education, Stonewall Youth, the Olympia Free Clinic and others. The Olympia Downtown Ambassadors will also be present.

The public can expect to find resources and volunteer opportunities for housing and shelter, youth services, back to school information, free food options, free health services, low-income pet care and more. Some tables will give away snacks and sandwiches; others will offer free on-site counseling and advocacy. Organizers will also serve lemonade made with Artesian Well water.

“It’s a real community showing, from grassroots downtown projects to established nonprofits like the Family Support Center, which is seeking volunteers for their brand new family shelter,” said Rollins, a former Downtown Ambassador. “What unites us is a desire to empower the community from the ground up. If nothing else, it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a glass of lemonade with your family and get to know what’s out there.”

Organic, Local, and Yummy – Oly Pops Offers Cold, Healthy Treats

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 6:18am



By Tali Haller

south sound trucksIn a cleverly crafted acronym, Oly Pops offers what many Olympians are craving on hot summer days: cold Organic, Local, and Yummy treats!

Nestled in the heart of downtown Olympia, Oly Pops was created by two recent Evergreen graduates, Leland Chazen and Linus Binns.

It all started last summer. Sitting in an upper-level apartment in downtown Olympia, they were just “so, so hot.”

olympia ice cream

Leland Chazen and Linus Binns created a local Popsicle business that offers delicious, organic, allergen-free, frozen treats.

“The sun was beating right into the apartment and all we wanted was ice cream,” remembered Leland. However, due to Leland’s many food allergies, there was nowhere downtown where they could find a healthy ice cream alternative. Instead, they began creating their own homemade concoctions right in their kitchen. They went down to the local Olympia Farmers Market, bought fresh produce – plenty of organic fruits and veggies – and began blending and experimenting with different combinations.  “It didn’t take too long before we became popsicle-obsessed,” Leland said with a smile.

As with many great finds, Leland and Linus’s tasty treats were hard to keep to themselves. When they found ones they particularly liked, they would share them with friends and family, all of whom were delighted by the healthy popsicles. ”It began to dawn on us that we should start a little Popsicle business in the summertime,” explained Leland, recognizing that there wasn’t a lot of competition. “Other small ice cream stores and dessert places, like Grandpa’s downtown, are great but they don’t satisfy people like me who have a lot of food-allergies. Oly Pops is gluten-free, dairy-free, and mostly nut-free,” explained Leland.

But with so many traditional ingredients off the table, what does go into the popsicles? Mostly, it’s fresh produce. “We try to keep at least two of our flavor offerings free of added sugar,” Leland said. “In those, it’s just the produce and a base, usually a little bit of lime juice, some fresh avocado along with coconut milk, depending on how creamy we want the texture to be in our creamy pops.”

olympia ice cream

Ready to expand, Leland and Linus just bought an old trailer that they plan to turn into a mobile sweet shop for the colder months!

During my visit I tried two no-sugar-added popsicles – Mango Pineapple and Honeydew Cucumber. When they do add sugar, it’s unrefined sugar, meaning that the sugar retains most of its nutrients (phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, etc.) that it would otherwise lose in processing (refined sugar). Learn more about good sugars vs. bad sugars here.

What’s more, the popsicles are both environmentally-friendly and kid-friendly. Packaged in BPA-free plastic tubes, they make for a delicious push pop that drastically cuts down on packaging material and doesn’t use they typical popsicle stick. Unlike traditional popsicles these pops can melt a little, get thrown into the freezer, and turn out as good as new, rather than ending up morphed and barely hanging on the stick. Plus, if you accidentally drop your pop, as kids are prone to do, the pops are safe from dirt and still-coated in their plastic wrap. “We are very environmentally conscious and try to leave as little of a carbon footprint as possible,” Leland stated.

On the business side, things seem to be going well. They broke even a while ago after investing an estimated $500 in their current Popsicle cart (an old cart they bought on Craiglist and fixed up), an umbrella, a sign, packaging, and their popsicle ingredients.

olympia ice cream

The Oly Pops regular venue is in downtown Olympia, where they’re open from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday.

However, they’ve decided to expand in the fall. “We just bought a 1969 Kit-Companion Trailer that we’re going to make into a mobile sweet shop for the colder months. We’ll be doing vegan, gluten-free donuts, coffee, and an assortment of other healthy treats,” explained Linus, who is the main baker. “This is definitely a long-term investment but it’s going to be awesome!”

A majority of their profits come from events. With this in mind, they plan to scout out events and travel to them, maybe even venturing into Seattle and greater Olympia areas at times. “We’re not stuck in a storefront, that’s the beauty of it,” said Linus.

The joy-inducing, mouth-watering cart is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday, selling popsicles at $3 or 2 for $5. Popular flavors include Banana Fudge, Keylime Pie, Strawberry Lemon, Blueberry Peach, Mango Pineapple, and Honeydew Melon.  You can find the cart at 728 4th Ave East.

At the moment, the business is completely run by these two self-acclaimed “cat-loving popsicle-obsessed” people. However, they’re already envisioning a future in which others come on board to help share the workload.

For now, stay updated on their whereabouts via their Oly Pops Facebook page.