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Party at Percival – Third Annual Olympia Brew Fest

Sun, 07/27/2014 - 12:00pm



By Kate Scriven

oly brew festThe Olympia Brew Fest returns to the shores of Budd Inlet on August 2 for what promises to be another terrific party.  For the past two years, the fledgling festival has grown in size and popularity with over 2,500 people attending last year.  This year promises to be bigger and better, both in size of venue and variety of offerings for those attending.

The brain child of local businessman Mike Mahron, the Olympia Brew Fest began in 2012 as a way to celebrate Olympia’s brewing heritage, showcase the best regional craft brewers, and have fun at one of the most beautiful outdoor venues around – the Olympia Port Plaza.  “I’ve been to a lot of brew fests,” share Mahron, “and I haven’t seen a better location than this one.”

This year, festival-goers can look forward to the beautiful Budd Inlet view being even more appealing now that the Port of Olympia cranes have come down and the event will expand towards the dock area.  “Last year it got a little crowded at the peak of the event,” explains Mahron.  “We want people to have plenty of room, so we are expanding the footprint of the event space along with putting a cap on number of tickets sold.”  And with a sell-out crowd predicted, now is the time to purchase tickets online.

oly brew festAlong with the increased venue size, the festival has streamlined entry with bar-coded tickets, allowing for quick admittance.  Once inside, you’ll enjoy the same great quality beer, food and live music as in the past along with a few new faces.

In response to requests for gluten-free options, the Brew Fest has invited three area cider makers including local favorite Whitewood Cider.  The number of breweries is up as well with 30+ options to choose from.

“This year I attended the BC Beer Awards and The Great Canadian Beer Festival,” says Mahron.  “I had hoped to include more Canadian brewers in our event this year, but crossing the border with beer is apparently a little tricky.”  He did however secure Central City Brewers from Surrey, B.C. as an international guest along with several new Oregon and breweries and even one from California.

oly brew festMahron is dedicated to including and supporting the local craft brewers here in Olympia and the event boasts four local breweries and one cidery including Top Rung Brewing, Whitewood Cider Company, Kastellan Brauerei, Fish Brewing and downtown new-comer Three Magnets Brewing Co.  While still keeping the local brewer focus, Mahron sees the event growing in the coming years to include the entire region.  “It would be ideal to have brewers representing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and maybe even California.  It would be a true Pacific Northwest Brew Fest,” he shares.

Casey Sobol, Operations Manager at Top Rung Brewing shares, “This is a great local event that certainly celebrates the wonderful brewing history of the community.  The Olympia Brew Fest in a great location and in a region that embraces local and craft beer. This festival celebrates that.  The craft brewing scene is picking up in the Thurston County area and we are proud to be a part of it.”

What should you expect if you attend?  First and foremost expect a great party.  The event is purely about fun and enjoyment of great food, drink, and company.  However, all that fun is also for a great cause.  The event is in support of the Thurston County Chamber Small Business Development (Incubator) program, helping small businesses get off the ground, adding value to the economy and community right here where we all live, work and play.

oly brew festYou can also look forward to high quality beers at each and every booth.  “I personally sample and approve each entry into the Brew Fest,” laughs Mahron, a true lover of a well-crafted beer.  Options will be plentiful and suit every palate with favorites like 7 Seas Brewing’s Life Jacket Session IPA , at 4.4% ABV and Top Rung Brewing’s Hose Chaser Blonde, at 5.0% ABV and more unique offerings like Brickyard Brewing’s SW Green Chili Blond Ale, at 5.0% ABV  and Narrow’s Brewing’s Cardamom Coffee Stout at  8.0% ABV.

Along with the brews you’ll be entertained by three different live bands throughout the event along with delicious food from Marv’s Marvlus Pit BBQ, O’Blarney’s Irish Pub, The Blend Café and Hawks Prairie Restaurant.  As in years past, the Lucky Eagle Casino will join together with the Chehalis Tribe to prepare traditionally cooked salmon for festival-goers.

oly brew festThe Olympia Brew Fest starts at 1:00 p.m. on August 2 ending at 8:30 p.m.  Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, although a sell-out crowd is anticipated so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.  (Ticket information can be found here.) Your ticket buys you a commemorative mug and six, 5.5 ounce tastes.  A $5 military discount is available at the door.  Drink cards for six additional tastes can be purchased inside for $8. All designated drivers pay only $5 to enjoy the event.  Ages 21 and over only and no pets allowed.

Come thirsty, come hungry, and come ready to have fun.  The Olympia Brew Fest is quickly becoming one of the premier events on the Olympia summer calendar and one you don’t want to miss.

All photos courtesy of the Olympia Brew Fest.

Harbor Days Maritime Festival & Tugboat Races

Sun, 07/27/2014 - 7:55am



Submitted by Harbor Days

Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (30)For four decades, Olympia has celebrated its long maritime heritage — and the big-shouldered working boats that made it happen — with the Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tug Boat Races.  The 41st annual festival fills the last weekend of August with a fascinating mix of seafaring, food and fun you won’t want to miss. Brought to you by the Olympia Kiwanis

As many as 15 vintage and modern tugs are expected to participate, and most will be open for tours at Percival Landing all day Saturday, August 30th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Be on hand Sunday at noon to watch the procession, as the tugs get underway for the big race up Budd Inlet.

All weekend long, enjoy live entertainment and over 250  arts and crafts, commercial, and nonprofits booths. See the “Tiny Cabin” craze at Lopka Logs.  Taste cuisine in the food court from around the world and our own back yard.  Exclusively, the Chehalis Tribe’s Lucky Eagle Casino will be preparing Pacific salmon in the traditional tribal way, using alder wood and hot rocks.

Lenny Lekanoff, the tough deckhand from the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” will be a special guest aboard the tug Galene, where you can also meet the oldest crew member aboard — well into his 90s and going strong.

Cummins NW, one of the leaders in marine engines will be on hand.

This year, Harbor Days also celebrates Tacoma Rail’s long history with the Port of Olympia and combined working relations with tugs. It’s Tacoma Rail’s Centennial Celebration at Port Plaza. Come see a live engine and caboose at Port Plaza by Anthony’s restaurant. Tour a real working train.

Kitsap Live Steamers will be joining us as well, with over 100 feet of track and a small train you can ride. There will be lots of other activities for the kids, too:  A giant slide, trampolines, trains, model tugs (viewing Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (27)only), and much, much, more.

Each year Harbor Days honors one tugboat, and its silhouette becomes the centerpiece of the festival’s logo.  This year’s logo tug is the Reliable, a former Army tug built in 1945 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin as ST-908.  It’s been through several names and several owners, and its still hard at work.  It’s been a harbor tug for the Army, an oceanographic research vessel, a gill-netter, and now a tug again.  Skipper Cliff Center gave Reliable a major overhaul in 2006, including sandblasting, new fantail steel, bow thruster, new accommodations, head, shower and galley. She has worked for the navy at Bangor, Bremerton, Everett and Indian Island towing port security barriers between bases and to Port Gamble for haul out and maintenance. A few weeks each year, she gets a vacation hauling Cliff and his wife, Wanda, to the San Juan Islands and Canada.

The Reliable is one of the many tugs that will be open for tours all day Saturday.

We extend a special thank you to Olympia Federal Savings for their financial and staff support. There is great synergy and appreciation supporting our community

Thank you to all of our community sponsors, together we make Harbor Days happen.Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (33)

For more festival information log onto

We look forward to seeing you Labor Day Weekend!


What:   Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tugboat Races

When:  5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, August 29; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, August 30 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, August 31

Where: Percival Landing 405 Columbia St NW, Olympia, WA 98501. From the Oyster House to Port Plaza


Rani Hong Creates Global Change from Olympia with the Tronie Foundation

Sun, 07/27/2014 - 7:52am



By Gale Hemmann

providence medical group sponsorDid you know we have a local resident who is truly changing the world direct from Olympia?

She’s been on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She’s spoken to the United Nations General Assembly. Her work has been featured on CNN World News and international media. She has worked with hundreds of thousands of human trafficking survivors. Rani Hong’s work with the Tronie Foundation might have a global sweep, but she is based right here in Olympia.

rani hong

From her home base in Olympia, Rani Hong’s work with the Tronie Foundation has had a global reach, changing many lives.

Rani Hong’s life story is amazing. Born in rural India, she was sold into human slavery at age seven. She managed to survive, and has since dedicated her life to helping other survivors and changing the global consciousness about human trafficking.

Rani and her husband Trong Hong, also a trafficking survivor, live here in Olympia with their four children. They co-founded the Tronie Foundation in 2006. What Rani has been able to do since then is truly astounding.

She reaches out to survivors around the world, empowering them to become leaders. She also works with policymakers to raise awareness of and enact new laws about human trafficking. Whenever funds allow, she travels globally to do her work. (She has already visited 20 countries and reached many more through broadcast media.) She spends the rest of her time working from her office in Olympia to raise awareness of the issue. Hong also serves as special advisor to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) initiative.

I was honored to speak with Hong. She told me about her current projects, and the past accomplishments and future goals of the Tronie Foundation. At the end of July, she’ll be traveling to Colombia, for the first-ever international conference on human trafficking. She also traveled to the United Nations in New York City this summer to celebrate the first ever world day against trafficking in persons which she helped to establish.  It marks the success of progress on human trafficking issues and a direct result of Rani’s outreach efforts

In Olympia, Rani is involved in the local community through her children’s schools. She attends sports and other activities at Centennial Elementary. She is also involved in her church.

Hong also partnered with Centennial Elementary last year to create an initiative to educate kids in the United States about slavery. They held a fundraiser and raised over $4,500 to help educate former child slaves and at-risk young people in India. She has also given presentations to several civic organizations, such as Rotary clubs, Zonta groups, and Soroptimist International, about human trafficking issues. Hong shares that her major funder is a local Olympia business, Diamond Technologies, Inc.

Clearly, Hong’s work is an example of the resiliency of the human spirit, and an example of how the local is linked to the global.

rani hong

Rani Hong was invited to speak at the United Nations in 2010. She is now a special advisor to the United Nations GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) Initiative.

I asked Hong what she would most like to share with readers about her work. First, she said, is that human trafficking happens and can take many forms (sexual, forced labor, slavery in private households). It is shocking to learn that 2.5 million people around the world are currently enslaved. The second is that, even if we feel far removed from human trafficking in our everyday lives, it’s possible for us to be complicit in it as consumers through the supply chain of items we purchase and the policies and organizations we support.

Aside from living in Olympia, the city has also been an important starting place for Hong’s work. In 2002, Hong testified about her experience as a survivor of human trafficking in front of the Washington State Legislature at the Capitol Building. She asked them to be key partners in addressing the issue.

Washington then passed the first state-level law regarding human trafficking. (We currently have twelve laws in place, as a result of Hong’s initial efforts.) Now, a little over a decade later, all 50 states have laws on the books. You can read more about Washington State’s action on this issue here. Hong notes that she is deeply grateful to the State of Washington and local support for her work in getting the ball rolling.

Making an Impact, Changing Lives

rani hong

Rani Hong (center in dark purple) has worked with a variety of groups including these women in India.

The reach of Hong’s work so far has been truly global. She has traveled the world giving talks, speaking before prominent figures. She has spoken to the President of the United Nations, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Bollywood actors. She has also talked with American celebrities including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Mira Sorvino. But perhaps most importantly, she has met with thousands of human trafficking survivors around the world, in shelters and schools.

She also notes an important part of making the Tronie Foundation so successful is that she incorporates survivors’ voices as leaders in the project. It is this dual ability – to network with policymakers and survivors alike – that makes Hong so effective. It is also sheer drive and determination. Hong runs the organization herself, and notes that she relies on donations and support from individuals and the community to keep it going.

How You Can Help

You might be thinking, “I’m only one person.” Yes, you are one person, but it is amazing what you can do to help make a difference. In speaking with Hong, she had many ideas for ways individuals, schools and businesses can help. While it is a very serious issue, the good news is that you can do something positive about it. Here are some of the ways, according to Hong:

  • Become aware: Educate yourself about the issue. Many people think human trafficking doesn’t really exist. Read the Tronie Foundation website, and discuss the issue with others. Parents can even talk to kids about this topic in age-appropriate ways. You can also listen to some informative videos on the website and download public school educational materials under the Take Action tab here.
  • rani hong

    Rani and her husband, Trong Hong, live in Olympia with their children. They provide easy steps on how you can take action internationally to fight human trafficking.

    Get social: Join the I Give Hope campaign.  Hong was positive about the power of social media as a way for people to connect globally and be a voice for change. Whether Twitter, Facebook, or another social media venue is your preferred platform, join conversations, re-post, and make social justice part of your online presence. Share your voice with #IGiveHope.  Follow the Tronie Foundation on Facebook or on Twitter at @TroniFoundation and @RanisVoice.

  • Donate: Even small amounts are appreciated. No matter what you have to give, Hong stressed that it is a very tangible way to help make a difference. A donation of $25 can print and deliver 240 educational comic books to those that are at risk of exploitation and human trafficking survivors around the world, to help educate them about their options.
  • Take it to work: Hong noted that she would love to have businesses support the work of the Tronie Foundation by donating, partnering, and earning a “Freedom Seal.” She noted that businesses can also help by examining their chain of supply for items they purchase, and commit to using items that are not produced by forced labor.

As I ended my interview with Hong, I reflected on our conversation. I am most inspired by her ability to put her life experience to such a positive purpose in her work with the Tronie Foundation. I was honored to speak with a global leader right here in our community.

As Rani notes in her speech to the United Nations, she invites you to join her in promoting “the universal freedom of all people, the value of equality, and the opportunity for every human to pursue his or her full potential.”


Serendipity Academy – A Place for Students To Find Their Potential And Grow

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 10:39am



By Gail Wood

New CBM LogoThis is not your typical elementary school classroom.

Students are collecting water samples from the Deschutes River. Other students are working at a food bank.

But this is part of an educational experience at Serendipity Academy, a private Tumwater school for grades kindergarten to sixth grade. Learning isn’t limited to what can be taught in a classroom.

olympia private school

Maya Nelson and Whitney VanGorkom, Arborists in Training, identify trees at a field trip to McLane Creek.

“We ask ourselves what expert can we go to in the community to help the kids learn?” said Emily Walsh, principal at Serendipity Academy.

Last year, first graders participated in a year long community service project at a food bank. Students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade at Serendipity Academy helped in a water quality check of the Deschutes River for South Sound Green.

“They were collecting real data in the field and then that data goes to South Sound Green and they use it to analyze the water in the Deschutes River,” Walsh added.

It’s all part of the learning experience at Serendipity Academy. Field trips, expert guest speakers and purposeful assemblies are about learning. At Serendipity Academy, teachers go beyond the lecture.

This is one school that is not afraid to incorporate brain-based research to teach their students. To ensure fitness, mentally and physically, they use Bal-A-Vis-X, or Balance Auditory Visual eXercises using sandbags and racquetballs.

“It’s brain and body exercises that helps the student to have their body and their brain integrated for learning,” Walsh said.

Last year, students at Serendipity Academy, from kindergarten to sixth grade, took part in a unique online computer science class that is called Hour of Code. With over 15 million students participating worldwide during the week, it is considered to be the largest educational program. The online class was put on by, a Seattle-based company.

“It was a great experience,” Walsh added.

olympia private school

Kai Nichols and Kelsey Hickey create a project at Maker’s Faire.

To better understand how the Hour of Code program worked, Walsh did it herself.

Every student at her school, from kindergarten to sixth grade, earned a certificate of completion. It was an introduction to computer programing that might be the spark a student needs to go into that field.

“I think it was another outlet for them to see what they could do with their life,” Walsh said. “If this is something that you’re good at, then let’s expose you to it.”

At Serendipity Academy, an important component to success in the classroom is behavior. Cooperating, not being a classroom disruption, is part of the agreement between student and teacher. If a student is a disruption, a problem-solving meeting is set up between parent, child, teacher and administrator.

“We try to do our best to front load the kids on our expectations,” Walsh explained. “And we revisit them often. At the beginning of the year we talk about our school expectations.”

Those expectations are shared together with all the students at assemblies and then they’re shared with each individual classroom.

“And we revisit it often so discipline isn’t a problem,” Walsh said.

Walsh gets an occasional visit at the principal’s office with a student who was disruptive in the classroom – but not many.

“We still have our share of things that go on,” Walsh said. “But any school is going to have that.”

olympia private school

Detective Liska visits Serendipity Academy to talk about his job as a police officer.

Education doesn’t just accidentally happen. It has to have a purpose, a mission. At Serendipity Academy, that mission is to ensure “each student’s success by providing an exceptional education and fostering an environment that promotes individual growth, a passion for learning and social responsibility.”

And at the core of that mission is a team of certified teachers committed to providing the best education possible.

Walsh said her teaching staff is dedicated to helping each student grow and learn, reaching their potential. It’s a place for the A-student to excel and for the struggling student to catch up.

“We meet them at their needs,” Walsh said.

Serendipity Academy is dedicated to helping students grow academically, encouraging them and challenging them.

To learn more about Serendipity Academy or to schedule a tour, click here.


Jessie Munson – Llama Love at the Thurston County Fair

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 6:17am



By Tali Haller

thurston county fairJessie Munson, member of the Spokes 4-H Club in Rochester, enthusiastically urges Thurston County Fair visitors to check out one of the many Llama Shows – she is organizing them all!

thurston county fair

Jessie and Zion placed as the 2013 Reserve Champions (2nd place) in the Lads and Lassies Lead Contest, in which participants show off the what the animals fibers are capable of. Jessie made her outfit from the wool of her llama.

“Llamas are incredibly intelligent animals. I can’t say enough about them,” said Jessie with a smile. She continues to rave about her own beloved, brown, fluffy llama Zion, whose high intelligence and human-like behaviors makes him sound more like a friend of Jessie’s rather than a non-speaking pet. Apparently, he is grumpy in the morning (obviously, not a “morning llama”), gets bored easily, and loves to look at himself in the mirror.

“Zion’s intelligence can sometimes be a pain,” mentioned Jessie, who had to get him a yellow, plastic chain with a bell on the end of it to divert his attention from “reorganizing the stall” (taking things apart out of boredom).

Fairgoers who just want to pet, interact, and learn about llamas and alpacas can visit them in their pens, where the owners are happy to answer any questions. (A favorite question according to Jessie, is how to tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca.) However, there are many cool things people will get to see llamas do by attending a show.

A favorite show is the Llama Obstacle Courses. Depending on the specific course, viewers may get to see llamas go through hula hoops, walk over bridges, jump over obstacles, pull things, or wear an assortment of hats and scarves.

Another favorite show is the Public Relations Obstacles in which the course is designed to show how good llamas can be when interacting with others. In many cases, these obstacle courses simulate a parade. They might have to walk past windows, look into mirrors, move through differently-textured areas (wood, glass, suction cups, etc.) or be subjected to a petter (a stranger who pets them).

thurston county fair

Jessie spends much of her free time with Zion, her favorite llama.

As simple as many of these tasks may sound, they are actually great sources of amusement. For instance, due to the llamas extremely sensitive feet pads, when they walk on different types of material you can see them getting used to the new feel, which is actually very funny.

In the Llama Showmanship Contest, fairgoers can expect to see impeccably groomed llamas while their exhibitors are professionally dressed in black and white (trying to take a little of the attention away from the llamas). The goal here is to make the llama look as perfect as possible as they walk around and do a few tricks.

“This year has some especially challenging obstacles,” confessed Jessie, who works to push the exhibitors without discouraging them. She obtains most of her llama obstacles from Craigslist, self-described as the “Llama Craigslist Queen.” One of her main goals with this year’s fair is to show people what llamas are capable of and get more people involved.

“I’ve been showing animals since I was nine and showing Zion since I was 15,” said now-17-year-old Jessie. Obviously, she has a lot of experience.

Aside from the Thurston County Fair, Jessie participates in a number of county, state, and registry shows.

thurston county fair

Jessie and Zion posing after a successful day of showing at the “A Llama Affair” show put on by the Southwest Washington Llama Association.

She has also exhibited her animals, mainly Zion and her older alpaca Charlie, at the Hands on Children’s Museums’ annual fundraising event, Sand in the City, and the Harvest Festival at Michael T. Simmons elementary. Her big goal this year was to go to Nationals, which is held in Park City, Kanas in late October. Due to her dedication and llama expertise, Jessie qualified at the Black and Blue Pasture Show in Colorado recently, earning the Grand Champion (first place).

At times, exhibitors may earn premiums, but for Jessie it’s all about the fun. “I learn so much and I love what I’m doing,” she explained. As a senior at Olympia High School, Jessie has begun to plan for a future in which she sees herself involved with agricultural education (hopefully, she can incorporate her llama knowledge as well). Outside of llamas and fairs, Jessie is into music – playing in both the school’s marching band and wind ensemble – and horses.

But at the moment, it’s the upcoming fair that’s on her mind. The fair will be open from Wednesday, July 30 to Sunday, August 3. During this time, there are six total llama-based events, a different one every day except Sunday, which holds two in honor of closing ceremonies.

Wednesday, July 30 at 7:00 pm: Lad and Lassie’s Lead Contest at WOW Arena

Thursday, July 31 at 10:00 am: Llama Public Relations Obstacles at West Arena 2

Friday, August 1 at 3:00 pm: Llama Obstacles at West Arena

thurston county fair

Charlie and Jessie show off during the Thurston County Fair.

Saturday, August 2 at 1:00 pm: Llama Showmanship and Costume Contest at East Arena

Sunday, August 3 at 11:30 am: Llama demonstration and Fun Activities at WOW Arena

Sunday, August 3 at 2:00 pm*: 4-H Senior Division Large Animal Round Robin Competition (will feature horses, llamas, dairy and beef cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs) at West and East Arena

*Intermediate Division Large Animal Red Robin Competition begins at 3:00 pm.

To see the full schedule for the fair’s events click here.


Capital’s Ryan Chase and Yelm’s James Rodeman Finish High at Track and Field Junior Olympics

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 6:09am



By Tom Rohrer

little caesars logoIn the decathlon, versatility is a requirement.

Within the two day competition, athletes must perform in the following ten events – long jump, 1,500 meter run, javelin, pole vault, high jump, 400 meter and 100 meter dash, 110 meter hurdles, shot put and discus.

Used to determine the world’s best female and male athlete in the Summer Olympic Games, the decathlon features athletes armed with both strength and speed, technique and explosiveness.

Two soon to be high school seniors in the Thurston County area have proven themselves worthy on the highest national stage at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas.

junior olympics track

Ryan Chase (left) and James Rodeman competed recently in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.

Capital’s Ryan Chase and Yelm’s James Rodeman finished second and fifth respectively in the 17-18 men’s division following the final day of competition on Tuesday, July 22.   Chase’s 6,421 points put him 814 behind champion John Lint while Rodeman posted a score of 6,003.

Heading into the competition, both Chase and Rodeman expected to contend for the championship.  Both ranked in the top five among decathletes in the nation following their performance at the Washington State Multi-Event meet in June and continued training in preparation for Junior Olympics.

“I didn’t take any time off at all really,” said Chase, the 2014 2A state champion in the decathlon, long jump and triple jump.  “We just had to keep going, keep moving forward and prepare.”

Rodeman and Chase moved forward together – the two are training partners on an almost daily basis.

“We’ve become really good friends and I think it’s because we’re both so competitive,” said Rodeman, who finished second to Chase in the state decathlon.  “We push each other and demand a lot from ourselves.”

“I have no patience for failure and James is the same way,” said Chase.  “We don’t accept it.”

Chase placed first in shot put (13.03 m), finished second to Marquis Barnes in the long jump standings (21- 11 ½ ft) and runner up in javelin (46.35 m) and notched third in high jump (6.75 ft).  Rodeman’s top event was long jump, where he finished fourth overall (20-09 ft).  He was sixth in both the 110 meter hurdles (11.61 seconds) and the pole vault (12-3 ½ ft.) and took eighth in the javelin (121-09 ft.).

Chase finished second in the 15/16 age group last year, giving him high expectations as he headed into his seventh Junior Olympics.

junior olympics track

Chase (left) and Rodeman finished second and seventh respectively in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.

“Winning is the ultimate goal for me and I think I have a good shot,” Chase said a few days before leaving for Houston. “I will go out, have fun and do my best.”

Rodeman made his first ever appearance in the Junior Olympics and had been looking forward for the opportunity for some time.

“It’s the best of the best and that’s who I want to compete against,” he said in advance of the tournament. “I know it will be exciting and that I’ll have to compete really hard.”

Chase was one of several Baron Park Striders athletes and alumni to compete at the Junior Olympics.  Tumwater’s Peyton and Lane Russell, one of Chase’s biggest rivals in the long and triple jump competed as did Griffin School student, Colby Wilson.

The foundation for Chase’s track career was laid by Drew Stevick and his sons, all Barron Park Striders coaches and instructors at some point. (A future in the Division 1 college level may be in Chase’s future.  He has been contacted by Washington State University, University of Arizona, University of New Mexico, and University of Wyoming, among other colleges.)

isa track junior olympics

The two competitors are friends off the track, competing together for Barron Park Striders.

“They made coming to practice fun.  I remember being excited for the first time to attend practice,” noted Chase in reference to Barron Park Striders.  “I wouldn’t be in this position without all of their help.”

In the months preceding he Junior Olympics, Chase paid the instruction he received from the Stevicks’ forward.  Like he had been instructed by Casey Stevick years ago, Chase took Wilson under his wing and helped prepare him for the pentathlon (a five event version of the decathlon).

“It’s been fun because I was once in the same position, looking up to my coaches and how great they were,” said Chase. “I know where Colby is going and it’s fun to be a part of that process.”

Adding top-five national finishes to their already impressive resumes will not stop Chase or Rodeman in their consistent quest for improvement and another trip to the event next year.

“State was big for me because I knew I could compete against the best,” said Rodeman, who finished fourth in the 110 meter hurdles at the 4A state meet.  “I can just feel the momentum.”

“These meets are the best because there is so much pressure and that’s what I feed off most,” said Chase.  “I want the big stage and I think it will keep getting bigger going forward.”

For more information on the Barron Park Striders, please visit


Cool off at the Tenino Rock Quarry Pool

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 3:30pm



By Morgan Willie

washington orthopaedic centerThe Tenino Rock Quarry Pool is a wonderful place to spend a hot summer day with family or friends. It’s cheap fun, and there’s something for everyone. There is a serene wading pool for youngsters and a deep freshwater pool, complete with two diving boards and a waterfall, for experienced swimmers.

The quarry pool is a Thurston County jewel. It’s visited by most Tenino residents and many folks just outside the city, but this treasure can be appreciated by all. It is especially appreciated by Tenino City Council Member Wayne Fournier, who only had good things to say about the swimming spot.

tenino quarry pool

A quarry visitor takes full advantage of the deep ends diving board.

“The pool is a fun and low cost way for local families to beat the heat,” Fournier said. “The gate fees are extremely reasonable, $3.50 for general public and $1.50 for residents of the Tenino School District.  Life guards are on duty at all times.”

The City of Tenino is happy to offer a full season of swimming this year, Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. until the weather cools down in September.

“Between the council working hard to decrease utility costs and improve operational controls, and continued public support, the city is able to offer a full season,” Fournier noted. “We are also currently working on a historic mural to be painted in the pool area that will illustrate the site’s history and cultural significance. We look forward to showcasing it by the end of this summer.”

The Tenino Quarry Pool does actually have quite the history. In fact, the Quarry Pool was originally a working Sandstone Quarry in the late 1800s. It was run by The Hercules Sandstone Company. Its products were used to construct many of Tenino’s buildings after a substantial fire in the early 20th century as well as notable buildings along the West Coast.

“The Tenino Quarry House, which is rentable for all occasions, was actually the Hercules Sandstone Company Office,” Fournier said. “According to local legend, sometime in the stone quarry’s twilight, the Quarrymen struck a spring that quickly filled the pit with water. The workmen had to abandon their equipment and machinery as the water flooded the area. At the bottom, to this day, the site sits as it did around a century ago complete with tools and heavy machinery.”

tenino quarry pool

The shallow pool is perfect for young children and those who wish to wade.

Today, the quarry is a Tenino cultural icon for sure. It has stood the test of time and has continued to serve the public as a low-cost, family-friendly recreation destination. Fournier commented that many of Tenino’s oldest residents love to talk about learning how to swim in the quarry as children, and diving from the Quarry cliffs as adolescents.

“Tenino also has many other opportunities to enjoy a low-cost relaxing day with several lunch options and a very large park connected to the county-wide trail system,” Fournier said.

So, if swimming in your local community pool has become lackluster this summer, switch up your routine and check out the Tenino Quarry Pool. It’s a great spot to enjoy some shade and sunshine.

The Tenino Quarry Pool is located at the intersection of WA 507 and Park Ave East in Tenino.

Pool Hours – Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.



Last Call for Thurston County Fair Open Class Foods, Art, Hobbies and Crafts Entries

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 8:16am


Submitted by The Thurston County Fair

Final open class entries accepted July 25-28

Several open class contest entries are due Friday, July 25 and through this weekend, with the final open class contest entries due Monday, July 28 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. Be sure to get your open class photography, foods, hobbies and crafts, art and flowers entered for your chance to win!

  • Open Class Photography: Friday, July 25 from 3–7 p.m. and Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Whether you prefer landscapes or portraits, people or animals, black and white or full color, there’s an open class photography contest that has you framed perfectly. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.
  • Open Class Hobbies and Crafts: Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Quality and craftsmanship are alive and well in workshops and craft rooms throughout Thurston County. Enter your woodworking, jewelry, ceramics, dolls, models, and countless other handicrafts in dozens of hobby and craft contests. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.
  • Open Class Art: Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday, July 27 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. There’s a contest for every age and almost every medium. Bring your paintings, sketches and drawings, miniatures and sculptures ready for display. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.
  • Open Class Baking: Monday, July 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. Enter your favorite yeast or quick breads, cakes, cookies, candies, or pies. Remember to also enter the daily baking contests listed below and get free admission with your tasty baked treats. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.
  • Open Class Preserved Foods: Monday, July 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. Enter your canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, sauces, jams and jellies, vinegars, meats, and dehydrated foods, plus many more preserved foods. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.
  • Open Class Honey: Monday, July 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. From Water White to Dark Amber and everything in between, test your cache of golden honey against the best in the South Sound in the open class honey contests. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for contest rules and requirements.
  • Open Class Floral: Monday, July 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. From asters to zinnias and everything in between, there are dozens of floral contests for cut flowers, herbs, trees and shrubs, bulbs, container gardens—the list is nearly endless. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.

All of the information and details you need to compete in open class home arts contests and hundreds of other open class and club contests are included in the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide. The guide also includes information on entry forms, camping, and this year’s calendar of events from July 30 through August 3. Download the complete 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide at

For more information on the 2014 Thurston County Fair Exhibitor’s Guide, contest entry forms or other fair activities, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit

“Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!” July 30 – Aug. 3

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 6:15am



thurston county fairA little bit of sunshine is returning to the forecast this weekend.  It’s not the blast of hot weather that we had a few weeks ago but at least it’s not cool rain that makes me wonder if it’s *really* summer.  There are plenty of options for family-friendly fun around Olympia this weekend.  Use our full events calendar to find even more local activities.  And, don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Thurston County Fair.  The action kicks off on Wednesday, July 30 (with One Buck Wednesday) and lasts through August 3.

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.


Ways to Save Money on Building Projects

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 1:25pm



Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste

  Wood Recyclers Association

Photo Credit: Wood Recyclers Association

Are you doing some building or remodeling this year? Whether you are a professional contractor or doing a DIY project at home, construction is an expensive undertaking. Waste management can be a big part of those costs but there are some little ways to save big money. You can even do some good for your community and the environment in the process.

Construction and demolition (C&D) debris represents a significant amount of the total solid waste produced in Thurston County. The good news is much of it is reusable or recyclable. Thurston County Solid Waste has some great tips on ways to save some green and be green. Since reuse is better for the environment than recycling, let’s start there.

If you have usable building materials and household goods, donating them is the way to go. South Sound Habitat for Humanity has three donation locations where you can drop items off: the stores in Yelm and Olympia, as well as the new donation station at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center’s Recycling Area. Habitat accepts working appliances, cabinets, doors, flooring, furniture, light fixtures, hardware, lumber, plumbing, roofing, and non-aluminum windows. Donating these usable materials gives you a tax deduction and allows you to skip the cost of disposal. Habitat resells the items at their store locations and uses the proceeds to build housing for low-income families.

You can also list your reusable items, for free or for a charge on websites such as Craigslist or our own Thurston County Reuse websites, as well as the Habitat stores are great places to shop for used items at a significant cost savings. In addition, local contractors often donate new items and materials that they do not need to the Habitat stores, so you can snag those for well under retail prices.

Even if materials can’t be reused, many can be recycled. Recovery 1, Inc recycles a wide variety of mixed or separated construction materials, including gypsum, carpet/padding, and land clearing debris from new or remodeled construction projects. At $70 or less, Recovery 1, Inc’s per ton rate is much less than trash disposal at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center. Located less than two miles off Interstate 5 in the Industrial Port of Tacoma, you can haul materials yourself or use a service. Depending on the size of your load, it can still be a cost savings, even with the drive. For more information and materials requirements, visit the Recovery 1, Inc website or call 1-800-949-5852.

There are plenty of locations in Thurston County that accept separated construction materials. Solid Waste maintains a database at of where to take a wide variety of reusable and recyclable materials.

There are several things to consider when you are deciding to haul materials yourself or have a company provide an on-site bin and hauling service. These include space constraints, if you are separating materials or doing mixed recycling, transportation costs, and staff time. The companies listed below will pick up material from your location. Specify that you want the materials recycled and remember to ask for proof of recycling, especially if you are applying for third-party green certification of your project. Certain restrictions, requirements, and/or permits may be required for recycling. If you know of a company that hauls C&D materials for recycling, please let us know so we can then to our list.

For more information on waste reduction programs in Thurston County, visit the Solid Waste website or call 360-867-2491.


Fun-Filled Entertainment and Events at the Thurston County Fair

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 1:21pm


Submitted by The Thurston County Fair

Live and Local concert series, Savor South Sound tastings part of 2014 highlights

This year’s Thurston County Fair is chock full of sights, sounds and tastes to entertain the whole herd from Wednesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 3.

whitewood cider

 Photo credit: Whitewood Cider.

Savor South Sound Beverage Tastings

The Savor South Sound beverage tasting event is back this year and better than ever, featuring dozens of delectable Northwest drinks. You’ll find Savor South Sound on the Gazebo Green this year with tastings from a dozen cideries, breweries and wineries on Friday and Saturday between 5 and 10 p.m. Patrons must be 21 or over to enter the event. Don’t forget to try some of the hors d’oeuvre pairings provided by local growers and producers that are new to Savor South Sound this year. Get more Savor South Sound details at by clicking on the “Entertainment” tab.

Live & Local Concert Series

If you are looking for even more reasons to visit the fair this year, then consider the line-up of local entertainers that will be delighting crowds with their sizzling summer sounds during the “Live & Local” concert series that is free with your fair admission. The Live & Local line-up features South Sound favorites like Artesian Rumble Arkestra on Wednesday, Brittany Kingery on Thursday, The Blackberry Bushes on Friday, and an encore appearance by The Brown Edition on Saturday along with DBST, all playing on the Main Stage sponsored by Les Schwab. New to the Live & Local line-up this year are some musical pairings on the Food Court Stage with the neighboring Savor South Sound event. And be sure to catch this year’s KACS Sunday Concert featuring legendary Christian rocker Bryan Duncan. Get more Live & Local details and other entertainment information at by clicking on the “Entertainment” tab.

Other new events in 2014 include up close and personal displays and presentations by Predators of the Heart in front of Heritage Hall. You can visit with all of the feathery, furry and scaly friends all five days at the Thurston County Fair. New on Saturday, August 2 is the Tattoo Art Contest where local tattoo artists will have their skill and artistry on display and cash prizes on the line. Also new in 2014 is the Rescue Pet Roundup on Sunday, August 3 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hicks Lake Barn. Come meet all of our furry friends who are available for adoption. There are also several fan favorites making a comeback this year at the fair, including:

  • One Buck Wednesday on July 30, when admission is just $1 per person when you bring a non-perishable food donation for the Thurston County Food Bank. Tons of other $1 deals are featured inside the fair.
  • Kid’s Day Thursday, July 31. Kids 14 and under pay just $2 for admission, and carnival armbands that get you unlimited carnival rides for the day are buy-one-get-one free for your buddy. Don’t forget, admission for kids 5 and under is always FREE at the fair!
  • Military Appreciation Day is Friday, Aug. 1. Active duty and retired military personnel and their families can get $2 admission to the fair with your military ID. Just present your military ID for lots of other military deals inside the fair.
  • Author’s Corner is back in the Sharp Building will once again feature local authors selling books, greeting fans, and autographing everything from children’s books to crime dramas.
  • The Antiques Appraisal event is back on Friday, Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. in Heritage Hall, when a professional appraiser will evaluate collectibles and antiques provided by local residents.
  • The Thurston County Commissioners Annual Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, Aug. 2 from 8:30-10 a.m. Breakfast is free with fair admission. Join us on the Gazebo Green on the east side of Heritage Hall.
  • The annual Animal Market Sale will be in the Hicks Lake Barn on Saturday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m.
  • The annual 4-H Equine Western Games begin early at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3.

For more information about these events and other fair entertainment and attractions, go to and click on the “Daily Events Calendar” link.

The last day to purchase discount carnival ride armbands is Tuesday, July 29. Visit and click on “Fair News” for more information about discount carnival armbands and other discounts and deals.

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

“Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!” July 30 – Aug. 3

United Way Partners with Olympia Downtown Association and Evergreen State College

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:56pm



Submitted by United Way of Thurston County

It’s true when they say strength comes in numbers. That is why United Way of Thurston County’s Day of Caring has continued its longstanding partnership with Evergreen State College and welcomes new partners, Olympia Downtown Association (ODA).

Day of Caring kicks off on September 26 as the single largest day of volunteerism in Thurston County, connecting hundreds of volunteers with local nonprofit organizations to complete projects that may not otherwise get done. Last year, over 750 registered participants volunteered to paint and landscape disabled individual’s homes, harvest for food banks and repair parks.

On Sept. 26, ODA will host its annual Downtown Clean Up alongside United Way’s Day of Caring to further increase the impact of volunteerism in the community.   “ODA brings an average of 150 volunteers each year during its Downtown Clean Up event,” said Olympia Downtown Association Event & Volunteer Coordinator, Kim Combs. “We’re excited to join forces with Day of Caring to bring more community members together around the good work in Thurston County.”

In addition, Evergreen State College will engage approximately 150 incoming freshman students with volunteer work on various projects throughout the county during Day of Caring.  “As a community, we have the power to accomplish more than any single group can on its own,” said United Way Executive Director, Paul Knox. “That is what makes our partnerships with ODA and Evergreen State College so great.”

The South Sound Reading Foundation, City of Olympia Park Stewardship Program, Homes First, Family Support Center, and HeartStrides Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship are just a few of the agencies with new projects while businesses like; Athena Group, Guild Mortgage, Harborstone Credit Union, Wells Fargo, Townsend Security and Olympia Federal Savings prepare teams to volunteer.

In addition to the Downtown Clean Up project, participants may expect to see projects such as reorganizing books, helping beautify the new Family Support Center, painting low-income housing and much more!

Project sign-ups (including the Downtown Clean Up project) will be available on Volunteer Connection ( on August 1st. Teams and individuals can view projects and register through the site on a first come, first served basis.

For more information about Day of Caring and registration, please contact Sara Kukkonen at or call (360) 943-2773 ext. 22.


Thurston County Chamber Announces Government Buyers at South South Showcase: Procurement Expo 2014

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:11pm



Submitted by the Thurston County Chamber

Think about this: Thurston County, the government entity, has over 15 different departments. Each one has a representative that is in charge of purchasing the goods and services that individual department needs; from office supplies to janitorial services; landscaping contractors to toilet paper.

Those government buyers have to follow protocol when they purchase those goods and services, and businesses that excel at connecting with those buyers and understanding their individual buying and bidding procedures have tapped into a phenomenal way to expand their market and grow their businesses.

Government procurement processes can be confusing, which often results in missed opportunities for local firms. In partnership with the Thurston EDC’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), we’ve revamped a long time event: South Sound Showcase: Procurement Expo 2014, formerly known as the Business Showcase, that continues to be successful & grow with many new vendors, excellent leads and more opportunities to grow your business.

Purchasers’ Row will provide local organizations with an opportunity to network and learn how to do business with local government buyers,” said Stephanie Scott of Washington PTAC.   Purchasing representatives from local government and large businesses will staff information booths. Showcase attendees have the opportunity to stop at each booth making new contacts, networking with current customers, and learning more about the products and services these agencies need and want.  The line-up of government buyers who have already agreed to attend includes: the City of Olympia, the City of Tumwater, the City of Lacey, LOTT, Intercity Transit, Port of Olympia, and Thurston County.

The Thurston Economic Development Council’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) provides local firms with an opportunity to expand business and contracting opportunities with federal, state, and local governments. It has proven to be a valuable and powerful program to open these markets for employers in our community.

Returning from 2013, we will publish a South Sound Showcase Procurement Directory that includes contact information for each business that has a booth at Showcase. This is a valuable marketing opportunity for businesses because it sits on the purchaser’s desk for the rest of the year.

South Sound Showcase: Procurement Expo 2014 is on Tuesday, October 7 at Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion in Lacey. To purchase a booth, contact: Alisha Blain, Events Coordinator at the Chamber at 360.357.3362 or

Olympia Traverse Participants on Area Roads Saturday July 26

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:47am


Submitted by The City of Olympia

olympia traverse

Road cyclists will take off as the second leg of the Olympia Traverse race.

The Centro-Olympia Traverse returns to Thurston County this Saturday, July 26.  The Traverse is a multi-sport adventure race which includes mountain biking in the Capitol Forest (starting at Noon); road biking through Thurston County; paddling from West Bay Park to the Swantown Marina; running along East Bay Drive to Priest Point Park and back to the East Bay Plaza; and final ceremonies at Port Plaza.

Area residents and motorists are advised to be aware of and courteous to Traverse participants.

The Centro-Olympia Traverse is sponsored by Recreation Northwest in conjunction with Centro in Olympia; and with facility support from the City of Olympia, Thurston County, and the Port of Olympia.  Online event schedule and information:

For information about the Traverse, contact Todd Elsworth, Executive Director – Recreation Northwest,

Live & Local Concert Series Announced at the Thurston County Fair

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:42am



Submitted by the Thurston County Fair

From July 30 through August 2, some of the biggest musical names in Olympia and the Pacific Northwest will be gracing the entertainment stages at the fair.

Here’s the lineup:DDM Thurston County Fair-22

Wednesday, July 30 – 5pm

Thursday, July 31 – 7pm

Friday, August 1 – 7pm

Saturday, August 2

All concerts are free with fair admission and open to fairgoers of all ages!

This is the second annual concert series at the fair. Last year, County Commissioners decided that, for the sustainability of the fair, they needed to appeal to a broader audience and bring more locals out to enjoy all the happenings at the yearly event. Featuring the absolute best in local music was viewed as an obvious way to increase attendance and draw a more diverse crowd. Live & Local was so successful last year that a second year was definitely in order.

Also returning this year is Savor South Sound, a two-day tasting event highlighting over a dozen local wine, beer, and cider producers. In addition, this year’s Savor will feature local shellfish and farm-to-table tastings organized by WSU Extension Thurston County. Tickets to Savor are just $10 (plus admission to the fair) and include a commemorative Belgian-style beer glass and five tasting tickets. The event is located at the Gazebo Green near the Food Court stage and takes place on Friday, August 1 and Saturday, August 2 from 5 to 10pm. (Savor is a 21+ event.)

The Live & Local Concert Series is brought to you by Rhythm & Rye and Olympia Jazz Central. Savor South Sound is presented by the Thurston County Fair Foundation, WSU Thurston County Extension, and Fish Tale Ales. Visit for more information about these fabulous events and many other wonderful activities at this year’s fair.


County Commissioners Recognize 176th Engineering Company for Work at Fairgrounds

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:22am


Submitted by Thurston County

thurston county fairAs opening day for the 2014 Thurston County Fair approaches, county commissioners took a moment at today’s commission meeting to thank some of the volunteers who are so vital to making the fair’s annual event a success each year.

Earlier this spring, members of the 176th Engineering Company of the 741st Engineering Battalion of the Washington National Guard volunteered their time at the Thurston County Fairgrounds by doing a number of building maintenance and repair projects.

“This proclamation is not only a statement of our gratitude for your volunteer service at the county fairgrounds, it also is a gesture of our gratitude for your military service,” said County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela to Maj. Tamara Brathode Schwab, who accepted the proclamation for the 176th Engineering Company.

Commission Vice Chair Sandra Romero said, “It’s no secret that a lot of county residents are connected to the military in one way or another, and I think it’s important to recognize how much our military service members give back to this community. This proclamation is a symbol of our gratitude for your service to our country and for your strong support of our local community.”

“The Thurston County Fair is truly a community event and the valuable work of the National Guard demonstrates how inclusive that community really is,” says Commissioner Cathy Wolfe.

The 2014 Thurston County Fair is guaranteed to be fun for the whole herd. The fair runs from Wednesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 3. To learn more about 2014 fair events, entertainment and exhibits, visit

South Sound YMCA Child Care Lends a Helping Hand

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 9:46am



olympia ymca child careJerry Seinfeld could have been speaking of summer vacation when he claimed “There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.”  At this midway point in the school holidays, most parents are counting the days until school starts and routines are firmly back in place.

If a helping hand is needed in the childcare arena, the South Sound YMCA is always there.  For nearly 25 years, they have provided a safe, welcoming environment for children from 4 weeks of age through 12 years.  Over that time more than 30,000 children have shared in their mission; as they advertise “at the Y we provide more than a place for kids to go.  We care for kids by providing nurturing development, healthy lifestyle choices, self-reliance through positive relationships, and values-based learning.”

South Sound YMCA Child Development Director Ron White is proud that “many of our families stay with us for years.”

ymca summer campThe Y’s team of caring and highly-trained staff provides many options for care, depending on the need and time of year.  As White explains, “We have three distinctly different experiences:  Campus is an early learning center at SPSCC that provides care and curriculum for children from 4 weeks until kindergarten.  They are focused on social and emotional growth and provide curriculum that is geared to help children be kindergarten ready when they leave the program.  Many of the children that attend this program go on to Y Care afterschool at their home elementary school.”

White continues, “Afterschool care is available at 30 different local elementary schools and is focused on recreation, health & wellness and homework assistance.  We have worked hard on transforming our program into a child-driven one.  We want them to feel the center is their own and enlist their help in designing it.  The curriculum is theme-based and focuses on learning in an experiential way.”

ymca healthy kids dayDuring the summer months, the Y offers at least five different specialty focused camps each week, with various themes.  “We continue to bring the fun because we want the children to enjoy their summer, but with a strong focus on learning around the theme,” explains White.

For military families, the Y offers Army School-Age Programs In Your Neighborhood (ASPYN).  Families in this program often qualify for reduced childcare fees.  “This has been a fantastic partnership,” White says.  “Through the Army we have received the resources to have three of our programs nationally accredited and have been able to provide numerous trainings to the staff at all of our school-age locations.  We have also had the opportunity to provide a tutor at three locations.  The tutor gives the children extra focus on school work.”  Because military life can include frequent moves and transitions for children, this extra support helps maintain continuity in education and provide a caring place for friendship and play.

YMCA_Military_BoysTo contact the YMCA Child Care Office, visit 108 State Avenue, Olympia or call 360-705-2642.

The Campus Early Learning Center at SPSCC runs Monday through Friday from 6:45 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and summer camps will continue through the week of August 25.  Camp hours are Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. for campers aged 5-12.

The South Sound YMCA is so much more than just a place to exercise or take swimming lessons.  It is a tremendous resource for all residents interested in prevention, community, and caring support.  By offering childcare with an endless variety of options, the Y helps local families stay strong and successful.


Owen Timms No Stranger to National Sailing Competitions

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 7:24am



By Tom Rohrer

duncan sponsorThere’s something about being on the water that brings out the best in Owen Timms.

The 13-year-old, soon to be eighth grader at Nova Middle School, has gone from sailing enthusiast to amateur racing expert in less than half a decade.

olympia youth sailing

Owen Timms sails at Cascade Rocks in Oregon.

“I love being out on the water.  Sailing is one of the only sports to allow me to be out on water,” said Timms.  “It’s a challenge just being out there and I love that challenge.”

Timms is a junior camp instructor at the Olympia Yacht Club as well as a member of the OYC High School sailing team and the Seattle Yacht Club Junior Race Team.  He has traveled around the country to compete against the best young navigators in the country.

Timms enrolled in a sailing camp through the OYC at age eight and after receiving encouragement from former coach Jan Visser, he joined the Northwest Youth Racing Circuit.

“She wanted me to give it a shot,” said Timms of the instruction he received from the late coach Visser.  “Without her, I wouldn’t have had that chance.”

Along with the NYRC, Timms has traveled to Florida, California, Maine and most recently Sanford, CT., for the USA Team Trials regatta.  Later this week, Timms will head to down to Marina Del Rey, Calif., for the Club Flying Junior National Championships held Thursday, July 24 through Saturday, July 26.

Timms’s extensive national competition experience has not only made him a stronger sailor, but has brought him a boat-load (pun intended) of new friends.

“The bigger the regatta, the more experience you gain.  The competition is tough and you feel good just being there.  You gain more confidence,” Timms said of his national experience.

olympia youth sailing

Owen Timms took his first sailing class at age eight. Now 13, Timms is a junior instructor at the Olympia Yacht Club summer sailing program.

“I love meeting new people in new places,” Timms continued. “I have friends in Florida, Bermuda, all over.  It’s pretty weird to think that I wouldn’t have met them without sailing.”

While making friends is an objective for Timms at regattas, the main goal is to perform as well as possible.  Barley a teenager, Timms still finds the competition is a driving force for his passion.

“I love the competition.  The challenge really pushes you to stay focused (at regattas) the whole time,” he said.

In terms of national competitions, one of Timms best performances came in March down in Florida.  On the first day of the event, Timms boat finished 17th out of 260 vessels.

“That really boosted my confidence a lot,” said Timms. “It was a huge regatta.”

Though he has proven himself on a national stage, Timms has room for improvement.  No one recognizes this fact more than Timms himself.

“There are still a ton of things to work on.  My technique is not perfect, and really there’s always something to do,” he said. “There’s never been (a sailor) who has known everything.”

Timms has benefitted from coaching and instruction since his infancy.  He estimates he first went on his father’s sailboat at age two.  Six years later, he was enrolled at the OYC and has been absorbing tips and tactics along the way.

“I’ve had great coaching my whole life,” Timms said. “Seattle, Olympia and people I’ve met (at competitions), it’s all helped me get to this point.”

One such coach was Visser, the Olympia Yacht Club Sailing Director, who passed away in late April at the age of 73.

olympia youth sailing

Timms sails at Shilshole Bay in Seattle. He competes across the country in a variety of sailing events.

“She was the one that wanted me to try and go for it. I did, and now I’m hooked on it,” he said.  “I owe her a lot.”

Timms is also grateful for the sacrifices his family has made to allow him to compete at such a high level.

“Without my parents, I wouldn’t be able to go to Seattle almost every weekend or to the big regattas.  I think they enjoy it as well, but it’s a challenge for the entire family,” Timms said. “I really appreciate how hard they work to (allow) me to sail.  I have a little brother who is six, and he has to miss things too.  They all make sacrifices.”

Timms continues to make the most of his family’s sacrifices and appears headed on the right track towards a successful sailing career.   Even at a young age, Timms has set goals for himself and plans on accomplishing them in due time.

“I’d love to get into a great college that has a varsity sailing team. That would be perfect,” he said.

Until then, Timms will continue spending time in his natural element.

“I can’t get away from the water.  The wind, the views, the smells, I love it all.”

For more information on the youth sailing camps and lessons in Olympia, visit


Meet Mike McKinnon, Owner of Thurston County’s Dairy Queens

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 5:53am



dairy queen franchise

Mike McKinnon’s parents started their first Dairy Queen franchise in 1976 in Lacey.

Think back to playing sports as a kid. Odds are, you didn’t go celebrate after the big game with a formal, sit-down dinner at a fancy restaurant. You probably went out for ice cream, right?

My family and I can often be found at the Tumwater Dairy Queen after one of my older daughter’s summer soccer games. We happily pop in for a dipped cone or a Blizzard and are quickly on our way, smiling from ear to ear.

It’s the stuff of which fond family memories are made.

Mike McKinnon, a graduate of Olympia High School, knows a thing or two about this. He and his parents own of all of the Dairy Queen’s in Thurston County as well as the location in Centralia.

“My parents got into the business back in 1976,” he recounts. “They purchased their first store in Lacey on Pacific Avenue, and then they expanded through the years. They built stores in Tumwater, Rochester, Olympia, Yelm, and Centralia.”

Dairy Queen “is in the family DNA,” admits McKinnon, who worked briefly at his parent’s old South Sound Mall location as a young teenager, but didn’t come into the business officially until 1998.

“We call it ‘fan food,’ not ‘fast food,’” he states. “Dairy Queen is tied to happy memories and the celebrations of life’s great little moments. Everyone lays claim to ‘My DQ’. It’s a great business.”

dairy queen franchise

Mike McKinnon believes in giving teens a start in the business world at one of his Dairy Queen franchises.

McKinnon believes strongly in giving local teens their first taste of what it means to be a part of the work force. A teenager can expect a solid foundation of work ethic to form as an employee at a local Dairy Queen.

“This industry is where many young people learn how to have a job – how to show up on time, to listen to instruction from managers, and how to work as a team. If they don’t get that in sports or other high school activities, this is another place for them to get that experience.”

Teenagers today are different from even five years ago, yet their role at work at Dairy Queen remains unchanged and unaffected by their need to connect in an increasingly digital age. “Kids can learn to work and have fun within a structure here,” explains McKinnon. The demands of the job haven’t changed much. Employees still make burgers, sandwiches and soft serve ice cream treats.

What has changed is that Dairy Queen has shifted to an online application process. However, the old-fashioned advice to following-up on an application in person at the place of business still holds true.

“Just don’t come during the lunch rush,” cautions McKinnon with a smile. “We’re always hiring,” he adds.

Currently, McKinnon provides work for anywhere from 225 to 240 individuals in our area. He is giving back to our community by sponsoring sports teams, along with sponsoring the high school internship positions here at ThurstonTalk. He is generously giving kids an opportunity to learn about the world of journalism outside of high school.

dairy queen franchise

At the Tumwater location, Mike McKinnon and his father reminisce about how Dairy Queen is tied to “life’s happy little moments.”

As for his own favorite item on Dairy Queen’s menu?

“The Blizzard is still king. My favorite is the cappuccino-Heath Blizzard.  I like the coffee, and I’m a toffee guy.”

Next up for McKinnon’s Dairy Queen empire? Local Dairy Queens will soon have mobile loyalty programs, much like those you see at businesses like Starbucks. Customers will scan something with their smart phone to receive rewards at the checkout.

2015 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Dairy Queen as a brand. “We will have some very exciting things coming that are very fan-driven. There will be contests for determining Blizzards of the Month, and a lot of the flavors that have been our greatest hits will be making an appearance,” explains McKinnon.

Unfortunately for this local soccer mom, one of those flavors will not be Reese’s Pieces. Lucky for my kids, though, the cotton candy flavor may make a comeback.

You can learn more about the online application process for Dairy Queen by visiting


2014 Lakefair Fireworks

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 6:35pm



Thurston County’s long-standing summer festival, Lakefair, celebrated it’s 57th year on the shores of Capitol Lake last week.  And once again, the grand finale of the 5 day event was the Lakefair Fireworks show.  With music synchronized on  KGY AM-1240, viewers “oooh-ed” and “ahhh-ed” through the spectacular show which started at 10:00 p.m..  Thank you to local photographer and ThurstonTalk reader Chris Hamilton for these amazing photos of the night.

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