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What Local Funding Makes Possible for Students in North Thurston Public Schools

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 7:08am


There’s a saying that a community is only as strong as its schools. Around the South Sound, many local school districts are preparing for a February 9 replacement levy vote that will help to determine their ability to deliver programs and services that make a huge difference for student success. For North Thurston Public Schools,

Revitalize Your Smile with Invisalign at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:00am


Minor imperfections don’t seem so small when they’re in your mouth. A slight overbite or gapped tooth can be the difference between a confident smile and one you would rather hide. Luckily, for many adults, Invisalign is a discrete, effective way of straightening teeth, and in many cases, Invisalign is a less time consuming and

Thrifty Thurston Resurrects Beats of the Past at the Oly Old-Time Music Festival

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:00am


Olympia has deep roots in music. From our local schools to music venues, the history of the Pacific Northwest sound vibrates through our city. The Oly Old-Time Music Festival brings some of those beats to the forefront through a weekend long musical journey through the roots of traditional American music. “This is our eighth annual festival,”

SPSCC Volleyball Inks First Player Commitment

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 5:00pm


Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College Stephanie Washington is the first volleyball player in the history of South Puget Sound Community College. The senior out of Puyallup High School officially signed her Northwest Athletic Conference Letter of Intent to play for SPSCC’s newest athletics program on Tuesday, February 2, at the SPSCC gymnasium.  “I’m

Cecil Cheeka Carries the Stories of the Squaxin

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:31am


To become a story teller, one has to be able to do more than just tell a story. Cecil Cheeka, a member of the Squaxin and Makah tribes, has a voice that is both sonorous and quiet, passionate and humorous, light-hearted and professional. Cecil Cheeka is a masterful storyteller. Born in 1942 on the Makah

Evergreen Direct Credit Union – Cut Your Interest Rates in Half

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:00am


These days can be difficult keeping track of the many things in life that charge interest. Balancing this fluctuating—and often confusing—debt is part of being a grown-up. But the staff at Olympia’s Evergreen Direct Credit Union offers assistance when interest rates climb too high. Evergreen Direct membership is open to “anyone who lives, works, or

Thriving at Home: Aiding Your Post-Surgical Recovery

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 2:17pm


Submitted by Sarah Lane for FirstLight HomeCare  Two years ago, my husband had surgery to repair an abdominal injury.  These days, most elective procedures, as well as many medically necessitated ones, are either done as out-patient procedures or patients are sent home after very short hospital stays. Following his surgery, there was no way my

Capital High School Joins 7 Area Schools in Newly Formed Class 3A League

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 1:48pm


Submitted by Olympia School District Capital High School will join a newly formed Class 3A athletic and activities league, which encompasses eight schools representing Thurston, Pierce, Kitsap and Mason counties. The new league was formed thanks to an agreement worked out this morning in a meeting of 16 area school district athletic directors facilitated by

Deanna Collins: Design Luxury in a Rob Rice Home

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:47am


Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes Rob Rice Homes have luxurious features—what many other builders consider upgrades—all included in the price of each lovely home. The stylish surfaces offered are thoughtfully selected and coordinated by Design Consultant Deanna Collins of Signature Interiors and Design, a valued partner of the local South Sound builder

Panorama Donation (Literally) Helps Serve Olympia’s Homeless

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:35am


Seven days a week, a rotating crew of volunteers serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to Olympia’s homeless population at the Salvation Army shelter in downtown Olympia. While the food donations keep coming, lately the shelter has been facing a different challenge – a shortage of silverware. “We were down to about 64 forks and 28

Timberline High School’s Josh Julagay Prepping for Wrestling Postseason

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:19am


It’s never polite to stare, but Josh Julagay can’t help himself. It just happens when he sees the Tacoma Dome.

“Every time I pass it on the freeway,” the Timberline High School senior said, “I just stare at it.”

south sound trucksJulagay is hoping Tacoma’s moniker of being the City of Destiny holds true for him this wrestling season. The Tacoma Dome is the annual site of the Mat Classic – the state high school wrestling championships.

Julagay has gone every year since he entered high school – except only as a spectator.

He plans to once again make the trip to this year’s tournament, but wants less watching and more participating this time around.

“The goal has always been to place at the state tournament,” Julagay said. “I’m hoping all the hard work I’ve put in will pay off.”

Julagay, who wrestles in the 132-pound weight classification, has advanced to the postseason in each of the last three years, but he has yet to secure a berth into the state tournament. He made the 3A regional round his first two seasons – with his sophomore season ending in the match to determine the state alternate in the 113-pound division.

timberline wrestlingJosh Julagay is the only four-year wrestler from the Blazers this season.

Last year – the Blazers first as a 4A member since 1999 – ended at the Narrows 4A tournament.

“I was upset at first,” Julagay said about last year’s season-ending loss. “But I have since swept it under the rug and got over it. It’s now my number one motivator.”

Julagay is one of eight senior wrestlers on Timberline’s roster this season, but is the sole four-year member on the team as half the seniors are wrestling for the first time ever.

“There’s a lot of new faces. I talked a couple of them into turning out,” said Julagay, who also plays soccer and runs cross country for the Blazers. “They now say they wish they had been here since their freshman year.”

If that had occurred they may have had the same experience Julagay had as an incoming ninth grader who was brand new to the program.

“It was actually a little bit scary for me that first year,” Julagay said. “I remember seeing Stone Hart in my first practice. He was something.”

timberline wrestlingJosh Julagay often wrestles his brother but things return to normal off the mat.

Hart, who just completed his sophomore football season at Harvard and is one of only two Timberline wrestlers to win multiple state championships, was a rare breed, possessing equal parts smarts, athletic ability, likability and enthusiasm, and what he accomplished, winning state titles, at 220 pounds, in 2011 and 2012, has set the benchmark for every Blazer wrestler.

In Timberline’s mat room, a board is present displaying the name of each and every Blazer who has placed at the tournament. Hart’s name appears three times as he also finished sixth in the 215-pound classification his sophomore season.

Julagay hopes his name is the next to be added to the board.

“He just works hard and learns well. He goes out there and battles every time he’s had a match. He’s ended up having a really good season so far,” Timberline coach Jeff Birbeck said about his senior captain.

“In wrestling you have to be smart when you’re out there,” continued Birbeck. “You have to be aggressive and know what you’re doing and what positions you’re in. Plus you have to think while you’re out there and he’s one of those kids that can keep track of what he is doing when he’s competing unlike a lot of kids who just go out there and battle and don’t know what they are doing.”

A Taekwondo student during his elementary school years, Julagay started wrestling in middle school. He had hoped to continue both, but due to time constraints, he had to select one.

timberline wrestlingJosh Julagay (right) puts in the time on the mat during practice.

Wrestling won out, and while he began his freshman season as a member of the JV team he soon found himself wrestling varsity and was the only freshman in the 113-pound division to place among the top four finishers at the Narrows League tournament, earning his first trip to regionals.

The next season, also at 113, he finished second at the Narrows League tournament, losing by default to teammate Miles Hart.

Timberline moved up to 4A the next year where Julagay was joined in the 120-pound class by his freshman brother, Jake.

“It definitely gets interesting. There’s been a few practices where we got mad and just went at each other for an hour and a half, two hours just straight wrestling,” said Julagay, who actually eliminated Josh from the Narrows League tournament last year. “As soon as practice is over it’s like, ‘What do you want for dinner?’ It’s great having him on the team. He understands what I’m going through. It helps.”

Help which could result in Julagay realizing his high school-long dream of wrestling in the Tacoma Dome.

“I just need more work in the mat room,” Julagay said. “The goal is don’t lose two (at a tournament) and just get as far as you can.”

Eric and Justin Hjelm – Father and Son Realtors Bring Humor and High Standards to Greene Realty Group

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:00am


During Thanksgiving dinner at the Hjelm house, the family is not allowed to talk about money, politics, religion – or real estate.

That’s because Eric, his son Justin, and daughter Carlee Hjelm all share an office at Greene Realty Group in west Olympia. “Our mom said it’s off limits,” says Justin. “That doesn’t leave a whole lot to talk about except sports.”

greene realty hjelmJustin Hjelm joined his father, Eric, at the Greene Realty Group about eight years ago.

Eric got his start in the industry 32 years ago while managing an auto parts store. “I was always interested in real estate,” he says. “I started doing it part-time on weekends, working seven days a week. A year or so into it, I was making as much as the full-time agents, so I decided to go full-time myself.”

He is one of only 5% of all agents to have a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation. “It requires education, and you’ve got to produce so much every year,” he says. “It’s not a designation you can go out and buy. You’ve got to earn it. It takes years of experience.”

Justin didn’t necessarily intend to follow in his father’s footsteps, but he may not have had much choice. “It all started with putting signs together in the garage when I was eight years old,” he says. “You could say we were molded for the role. We spent a lot of time (at the office), sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily.” (His father reminds him that he was paid a nickel per sign – not exactly minimum wage, but something.)

The Hjelms clearly enjoy each other and say they attempt to bring that light-heartedness to their clients. “I hope people like working with us,” says Justin. “We make it fun. It’s amazing what a joke can do to lighten a situation and relieve stress. We like to incorporate some comedy when we can.”

eric hjelm greene realtyEric is one of the 5% of agents with a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation.

According to Eric, people may start out as clients but often become closer. “We end up with a lot of friends when we’re done. We like to have a good rapport with our buyers and sellers.”

Being trustworthy and upfront with clients is important, he says. “I think sometimes it should be called ‘reality’ instead of realty. We’re very proactive. We know when we’re selling a listing, we can always see the red flags by doing our research.”

Over the years, they have seen the industry change, mainly in the area of technology. “We used to want to give clients a lot of information, steer them to the right places,” says Eric. “Now a lot of the buyers come to us and they have the information and our job is to verify if it’s correct or not.”

Communication has also changed, says Justin. “As everybody adapts to the technology, 90% of our communication is through text and email. With my generation, there’s that need for instant gratification. It makes things easier and more complicated at the same time.”

The Hjelms have plenty of stories from their experiences along the way. If two of the more memorable were movies, they might be called What About Bob? and My Cousin Vinny.

In the first case, says Eric, he’d sold a one-acre house in the country to a couple. “They were planting some trees in the yard, and when they started to dig into this one area, their neighbor came over and told them, ‘You might want to be careful, because you’re going to find Bob.’”

greene realtyJustin Hjelm specializes in short sales and auctions at Greene Realty.

In some consternation, the couple asked who Bob was and what he was doing in their yard. As it turned out, he was the husband of the previous owner who had recently passed away, and she’d buried his urn on the property. Somehow that hadn’t been disclosed in the sale agreement.

“The couple called me up and I asked them if this was freaking them out,” says Eric. “But they said the more they got to know the neighbor and heard about Bob, they were okay with it. They decided to let him stay.”

In another case, Eric was looking to sell a 57-acre piece of his own property on Steamboat Island when something about the potential buyer got his attention. “I said, ‘I’m looking at your offer and I notice your buyer’s name is Vincent Schwendt. That’s my mother’s maiden name.’ She said, ‘Really? Well Vincent is my husband. He’s from Missouri.’ I told her, ‘So was my mother.’” Digging a little deeper, they established that both were from the same small town south of St. Louis.

The agent began to get excited and got her husband on the phone. Vincent and Eric began trading information about Thomas Schwendt, Eric’s grandfather, who might also be Vincent’s Uncle Tom.

“What do you remember about him?” asked Eric.

“All I remember is that he had four daughters and he named one of them Thomasina, because he wanted a boy,” said Vincent.

hjelm green realtyAt family gatherings, Justin and Eric Hjelm are prevented from talking about money, politics and real estate.

“That’s my aunt Tommy up in Port Angeles,” Eric told him.

The next day Vincent arrived in the office with all of the family genealogy. “We were having a family reunion with a bunch of the family from St. Louis coming out, so we were able to invite him,” says Eric. “It was just really fun. And he bought the place. I tell people, ‘I located My Cousin Vinny.’”

Although that buyer turned out to be an actual relative, Eric says the real estate business is all about relationships. “People trust us to use our connections to make their transactions smooth and done right. It’s about knowing that if you need a vendor, there’s a buddy you trust who is going to take care of your clients because we’ve created those long term friendships and relationships. It’s great.”

For any real estate needs, contact Eric Hjelm or Justin Hjelm at Greene Realty at 360-528-4160.


WDFW Approves Month-Long Razor Clam Dig at Long Beach

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 5:09pm


Submitted by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Razor clam diggers can look forward to more than a month of razor clam digging opportunities at Long Beach on the Washington coast.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig, which runs from February 4 through March 10, at Long Beach after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

All other beaches remain closed to recreational razor clam digging.

razor clam digThe department approved this extended opening due to the abundance of clams available at Long Beach, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

“We had a late start to the digging season, so we still have plenty of clams to dig at Long Beach,” Ayres said.  “We’re thrilled to be able to announce this lengthy opening.”

The dig at Long Beach is on evening tides. No digging will be allowed before noon any day. Diggers should check tide charts before heading out, since tides of one foot or above aren’t conducive to digging, Ayres said.

“For the best digging conditions, we advise people to plan their trips to the beach when the evening low tides are less than one foot,” Ayres said.

Ayres noted the best digging usually occurs one to two hours prior to low tide

The first week of the upcoming dig at Long Beach is scheduled on the following dates and low tides:

  • Feb. 4, Thursday, 3:41 p.m.; 0.8 feet, Long BeachRazor Clamming Moclips (4)
  • Feb. 5, Friday, 4:28 p.m.; 0.2 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 6, Saturday, 5:11 p.m.; -0.3 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 7, Sunday, 5:52 p.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 8, Monday, 6:32 p.m.; -1.0 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 9, Tuesday, 7:12 p.m.; -0.9 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 10, Wednesday, 7:52 p.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach

For tidal information at Long Beach beginning February 11, diggers should check the tide charts listed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s webpage.

Additionally, a list of tides will be posted on WDFW’s razor clam webpage. Diggers should also check the website for announcements about openings at other Washington beaches.

Although toxin tests at Copalis beach show clams are safe to eat, shellfish managers are limiting digging there to help ensure the beach will have openings throughout the spring.

“Copalis was the first beach to open this season and we’ve already harvested nearly 40 percent of our annual quota,” Ayres said.

Razor clam digging will remain closed on Washington’s other coastal beaches until domoic acid levels drop below the threshold of 20 parts per million set by state public health officials. The natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.

Each digger is allowed 15 clams, which they must carry themselves.Each digger is allowed 15 clams, which they must carry themselves.

WDFW is continuing to monitor toxin levels on all Washington beaches and will open other areas as soon as clams are safe to eat. Toxin test results can be found on WDFW’s domoic acid webpage.

Diggers should monitor WDFW’s main razor clam webpage for any potential changes to the Long Beach opening.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2015-16 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website and from license vendors around the state.

Are Your Acne Products Making Your Skin Worse?

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 4:25pm


By Wendy Christman for Saving Face Skinspa

Did you know that products labeled for “acne” or “non-comedogenic” may contain pore clogging ingredients? There are no regulations stating what can or cannot be in an acne product for it to be “non-comedogenic” or safe for acneic skin. So, it is permitted to have ingredients in a product labeled for acne, but is also known to cause acne.

There are so many things to consider in someone with acne. The clients skin type, type of acne, condition of the skin, and level of sensitivity.  When a person suffering with acne is selecting products over the counter this is not usually being considered and it is causing further progression of the acne condition. You cannot clear your skin with products alone. There are other factors that have to be evaluated: diet, lifestyle, medications, allergies, current products, makeup, sports supplements, and vitamins.

saving face skin spaWendy Christman, owner of Saving Face Skinspa and Acne Clinic has a passion for helping people achieve clearer, healthier skin.

This is why it is so important to have the help of an Acne Specialist who takes all this information and creates a plan specifically for you and your situation. However, starting with using products that aren’t clogging the pores is a fantastic start!

Here is a link to the list of Pore-Clogging Ingredients.

Use the list to compare with your current products and I bet you will be amazed at how many of the ingredients are in them. There are many products available that won’t clog the pores or exacerbate acne and are quite affordable.

If you are interested in learning more about acne prevention and the resources that are available to you visit Saving Face Skinspa online or reach out to Wendy at 360-943-1700

Reference: Cooksey, L. (2015). Pore Clogging Ingredients

Woodrow Wilson Scholar to Bring Expertise to Saint Martin’s University

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 4:03pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martin’s University will welcome Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Marcia Grant, Ph.D., renowned for her ability to create and transform international higher education institutions, for an intensive, five-day visit on the Lacey campus beginning Monday, February 1.

Marcia Grant, PhD visits St. Martin's University starting February 1.Marcia Grant, Ph.D. visits St. Martin’s University starting February 1.

Grant, a veteran higher education administrator who has served colleges in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, will take part in classroom discussions, lectures, workshops and seminars, as well as meet with students and faculty throughout the week at Saint Martin’s.

She brings her special skills in diagnosing problems within existing university programs and creating appropriate solutions to help faculty and students succeed as they navigate a variety of cultures.

“During the past 20 years, I’ve been working in universities overseas and I truly enjoy visiting American liberal arts colleges to find out what they’re doing,” says Grant, who is provost of Ashesi University College, located near Accra, Ghana. “The university where I work is a new, private university and is noted for having an honor code and for promoting discussions about ethics with its students. I’ll be very interested to learn more about the Benedictine philosophy of education at Saint Martin’s and what impact it has on the students.”

A highlight of Grant’s visit will be her appearance as guest speaker at the Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture, which is free and open to the public, and is scheduled to be held Wednesday, February 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the University’s Norman Worthington Conference Center.

In her talk, entitled “Liberal Arts and the Global Community: Lessons from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Ghana,” Grant will discuss how liberal arts programs in developing nations expand opportunities and transform lives. The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community.

Before going to Ghana, Grant spent more than six years in Pakistan, working to implement new programs using participatory pedagogy and teaching critical thinking.  She was director of planning for the faculty of arts and sciences of Aga Khan University in Karachi, and then Vice Rector of Forman Christian College, where she was in charge of academic affairs.  Before going to Pakistan, Grant worked to help HRH Princess Lolowah al-Faisal start Effat University for women in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program, which is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges in Washington, D.C., brings prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders and other professionals to campuses across the United States for a week-long residential program of classes, seminars, workshops, lectures and informal discussions. For 35 years, the Visiting Fellows have been introducing students and faculty members at liberal arts colleges to a wide range of perspectives on life, society, community and achievement. Grant is Saint Martin’s University’s first Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.

Grant’s visit is, in part, related to Saint Martin’s University’s membership with the United Nations Academic Impact. Saint Martin’s joins nearly 1,000 colleges and universities in some 120 countries that are working with the United Nations on a global initiative to promote global priorities that include peace, human rights and sustainable development.

OSDEF Announces Annual Musical Performance: “HONK!”

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 3:56pm


Submitted by The Olympia School District Education Foundation

The Olympia School District Education Foundation is pleased to announce the 2016 musical selection by the OSD Players, a group of dedicated school district teachers and staff.  Teachers, staff, and even administrators will be performing “Honk!” on Thursday, February 25 through Sunday February 28 at the Olympia High School Performing Arts Center.

Since it first hatched in 1993 Stiles & Drewe’s musical “Honk!” has winged its way around the world in over 8000 productions and in many different languages. Winner of multiple awards, including the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical, this heart-warming celebration of being different is sure to delight audiences of all ages with its sparkling wit and memorable score.

Ugly looks quite a bit different from his darling duckling brothers and sisters. The other animals on the farm are quick to notice and point this out, despite his mother’s protective flapping. Feeling rather foul about himself, the little fowl finds himself on adventure of self discovery all the while unknowingly outwitting a very hungry Cat. Along the way Ugly meets a whole flock of unique characters and finds out being different is not a bad thing to be.

OSDEF Board President Ryan Hall remarked, “We are thrilled to help bring our treasured staff and faculty to the stage once again.  This much-loved tradition helps us fund many teacher grants through out the school year, and we are grateful for the support of our community.  Bring your kids and prepare for a wonderful heart-warming performance.”

The South Sound Reading Foundation (SSRF) will be offering a special story time before the matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 1:15 PM.  This local non-profit will also be collecting new or gently used children’s books at each performance to give to children in our district.  SSRF engages area children in the wonder and promise of books and reading by providing family literacy engagement classes, story time and books talks, and by striving to get books into every home and into the hands of every child. The OSDEF and SSR are very proud to be partnering together to benefit our community.

The OSD Players musical has been an annual event since 1993; since 2005 all proceeds from the play benefit the OSDEF. The Foundation is a non-profit organization whose programs include classroom and tutoring grants, emergency funding for student needs, and outdoor education.

Tickets available now at, or call the OSDEF office at 753-8853.

Celebrate (Your) Valentines at Quinault Beach Resort and Casino

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 4:01pm


The best gifts are often experiences, especially when shared with friends or loved ones. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, don’t limit yourself to roses and candy. Instead enjoy a relaxing vacation package care of Quinault Beach Resort and Casino.

U.S. News and World Report estimated that in 2015 alone, Valentine’s spending topped $18 billion. While more than 50% of that total goes to candy and 37% to flowers, 35% opt for a special night out on the town, according to the National Retail Federation.

Busy schedules can make planning the perfect evening tricky. Thankfully, the Quinault Beach’s festivities run through the entire month of February. But if your sweetie’s a purist, Valentine’s falls on a Sunday this year, making it easy to wine and dine. Quinault Beach will offer a special February 14 menu in their fine dining restaurant Emily’s. Make reservations early for their $60 Filet and Lobster dinner from 5:00 until 9:00 p.m. only. Diners can relish a bacon-wrapped filet mignon in Merlot reduction and delicate Maine lobster tail served with potatoes and vegetables.

quinault beach resort valentines dayQuinault Beach Resort and Casino is the perfect place to show your 12th man pride or spend a luxurious Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy: Quinault Beach Resort and Casino.

If you’re too full to head home, the Resort is also offering discounted hotel stays which include credit to spend throughout Quinault Beach as well as chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne. These reduced rates are good through February 27. Packages begin at $169 and can be booked online or by calling 1-888-461-2214 and mentioning code VPA1 for a one-night stay or VPD2 for a two-night stay.

Only 90 minutes from Olympia, these specials mean love is in the air no matter your schedule or budget. You can use the discounted rate all month long so why not enjoy a solitary staycation, go again with your sweetie, and finally for an epic girls-night-out?

Quinault Beach Resort offers daily activities both on and off the gaming floor, with concerts, dining specials, and even Mardi Gras Party Beads on February 9. Book spa treatments or sign up for Q-Club Membership before you go to maximize your visit. While visiting, check out other local Grays Harbor events or nearby attractions to make your stay truly magical.

quinault beach valentines dayAn easy afternoon jaunt from Olympia, Quinault Beach offers waterfront rooms, fine dining, and indoor and outdoor entertainment. Photo courtesy: Quinault Beach Resort and Casino.

Since the first mass-produced Valentine cards began in the 1840s, people have enjoyed celebrating their love every spring. Despite the weather outside, Quinault Beach can help make new memories or provide a venue to celebrate beloved friends, spouses, or even a solo weekend to recharge your batteries.

Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson sums it up perfectly: “Although I believe affection and romance should be shown all year around, it’s always smart to have a good plan up your sleeve for Valentine’s Day.”


seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro – A Feast for Your Eyes and Stomach

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 10:13am


Panorama invites you to visit the newly remodeled restaurant. The extensive refurbishing is complete. If you could see before and after photos, you’d be amazed. The complete renovation has created an elegant yet totally comfortable setting that welcomes the public. Formerly called Chambers House Restaurant, the restaurant has been renamed seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro.

Renovated Space panorama restaurantMike Turk, Manager and Chef, loves the people he gets to serve.

A glow from the large stone fireplace casts a calm warmth throughout the room. The mantle is crowned by a colorful series of intricate Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. The distinctive art was acquired with the help of resident Russell Day, a long time mentor and friend of Chihuly. The swirling greens bring to my mind the mysterious life under the sea.

Restaurant manager and chef Mike Turk has been with the Panorama team for the past thirteen years. He is pleased with the updated visuals. Beyond the new art, Panorama has installed fresh floors, wall designs, tables and lighting.

Renovated Menu

Turk has also been working on the menu. Every day you’ll find salmon, the house curry or New York steak, as well as more daily specials. For example, the lunch sheet will rotate soup and half-sandwich specials, omelets and a couple of other hot dishes. Each evening there are two dinner specials.

panorama restaurantHoppin’ John, a southern dish of black eyed peas, ham, celery, onion, sausage and peppers, was one of the daily specials, which are always changing.

The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try the $5 breakfast deal. Sit in the new bistro area with an espresso machine and bar stools. Tables are set up for chatting or playing games. You can enjoy wine or beer on tap. Join in happy hour with drinks and special goodies Monday through Saturday from 3:00p – 7:00p.

The kitchen is comfortable serving people with particular health concerns. Panorama resident, Carolyn Hendricks, noted that the “wait staff is really friendly.” Many customers are regulars. Turk’s popular chicken marsala is one of the gluten-free options. Other gluten free options include the house curry, salmon patty burger, and the black bean taco salad. Looking for a vegan option? The house curry, fried rice salad, and black bean taco salad can all be made vegan-friendly. “Most things in the kitchen are made from scratch,” said Turk. The soups are especially popular. I was there on a day that Turk was serving clam chowder and cabbage patch.

panorama restaurantA bank of Dale Chihuly’s intricate blown glass pieces crowns the fireplace.

Did you know seventeen51 also has spaces that can be rented by groups? The Boardroom accommodates sixteen for a business meeting, fully equipped with all your technology needs. There’s also a large room, called The Gallery, at the other end of the restaurant, big enough for club meetings or private parties. “What I really like is the versatility of the space,” said Turk.

Feeding Olympia, Lacey and Beyond 

Mike and Meg Turk have been feeding the Olympia community for decades. As the kitchen manager, Mike worked for the iconic Urban Onion back in the days when it was called the Herb & Onion. Meg was working at the Capitol City Golf Club. When new owners took over, they decided to let Meg have the restaurant lease. Mike came to work with her. Eventually, they opened Meggin’s Café on Lacey Boulevard.

panorama restaurantThe bistro area has a new espresso machine or cocktails if you prefer.

The couple made the switch to Panorama thirteen years ago. Meg runs the catering division and while that job is not full time, she seemed to know everyone at the restaurant, chatting with guests at each and every table. Meg is happy with her time with Panorama. “We love it here. It’s home,” she says.

Carol Ballard has been living in Panorama for more than two years. She comes to the restaurant because it is “a great spot to meet friends.”

The next time you are ready to have a bite for lunch or dinner, step inside seventeen51. Warm your bones by the fireplace, soak up the beautiful art and sip a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Then pour over Mike’s specials to find the best way to answer your hunger.

seventeen51 Restaurant and Bistro
1751 Circle Lane SE
Lacey, WA 98503


Lindsey Nurmi, Emma Duff – Black Hills Girls Basketball Eyeing Deep Playoff Run

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 7:26am


A lot was asked out of Lindsey Nurmi last season for the Black Hills High School girls basketball team.

mullinax fordThe roster for the Wolves was top-heavy with posts and forwards in 2015 and light on guards, especially those who were apt at handling the ball. So, despite her freshman status, Nurmi was charged with being the team’s primary point guard almost by default.

It’s a high-pressure situation for any upperclassmen, much less for someone a mere six months removed from middle school.

“You’re going to have growing pains in that role,” Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield said. “And Lindsey experienced that. She struggled some. This year those struggles are gone.”

black hills girls basketballSophomore point guard Lindsey Nurmi (#30) has been one of the main reasons the Wolves are eyeing a 2A Evergreen Conference championship.

Nurmi’s stellar sophomore campaign is just one highlight in a season loaded with accomplishments for the surging Wolves.

Paced by the lethal combo of Nurmi and jack-of-all trade junior wing Emma Duff and the senior leadership of Bailey Rollman and Sammi Payne, Black Hills has far exceeded expectations already and has catapulted itself into the conversation of potential Class 2A state championship contenders.

“I don’t think we came in knowing just exactly how special this season could be,” Nurmi said. “We lost our height (from last season). So, we knew we had to be quick, and we had to play defense. If we did that we thought everything else would come together.”

And it has as the Wolves opened the year by winning 10 of their first 11 games with their only setback coming in a 58-51 non-league loss during the second game to 4A Puyallup.

It’s been pretty much all wins after that.

“We play with good chemistry and it’s great because we didn’t have to work to get there. Those first few games we just realized how much chemistry we had together,” Duff said. “We focused a lot on defense during the summer and fall. We noticed we are good on the offensive end. We are able to get our shots off, but if we wanted to be successful we needed to improve on defense. And it’s just worked for us. It’s just clicked in practice with our chemistry.”

black hills girls basketballSenior Sammi Payne (#21) goes in for a lay-up during the Wolves non-conference win over Fort Vancouver.

Sporting a 15-3 record, including an unblemished mark in 2A Evergreen Conference play, Black Hills has embraced their new found commitment to defense. The team has held 14 opponents to under 50 points this season with 10 of those teams failing to hit the 40-point mark.

“Where we are as a team, it feels like we’re ahead of where we have been the past couple years as far as our team chemistry and what I’m getting out of them,” Greenfield said. “It’s the end of January and they have been hearing me tell them the same things since November, yet they still remain focus with their eye on the prize. It’s been a really fun team to coach.”

In each of the last two seasons, the Wolves advanced to the regional round of the state tournament only to see their season end both times a win shy of moving on to the Yakima SunDome as one of the state’s final eight remaining teams.

“This team has been so close (to advancing to state). Lindsey and Emma have seen the path that it takes to get us to where we want to go,” Greenfield said. “They’ve seen the teams that have created the barriers for us. We talk about that. They know what it feels like to get that close. This year they have the mentality that we’re not going to just get close, we’re going to get it. Whether that ultimately happens or not, it’s still the goal. It’s what they’re striving towards and they are working hard for it.”

black hills girls basketballBlack Hills opened the season by winning 10 of its first 11 games and haven’t slowed down since.

Black Hills has already overcome one longstanding obstacle by defeating W.F. West, a program that has had three consecutive appearances in the state championship game, for the first time in Greenfield’s seven seasons. The Wolves’ 63-61 win on January 19 marked the first EvCo loss for the Bearcats in more than four years and provided Black Hills with plenty of confidence.

Nurmi and Duff were especially spectacular in that game, both scoring 20 points, while Nurmi went 9-for-9 at the free throw line, with six from the charity stripe coming in the game’s final 3 minutes.

“Lindsey put us on her back and won that game for us,” Greenfield said. “Hitting all nine of her free throws, we wouldn’t have got that from her last year.”

“She has to be the floor leader along with Emma,” Greenfield continued. “And she does that. She makes really good decisions and doesn’t turn the ball over at all. That was a big focus for her coming into this year. And with Emma, I can play her 1 through 5. She can score and leads the team in rebounds. She’s a very valuable player for us all over the floor. She’s just a threat. Both players have really high basketball IQs. They just get basketball.”

The Lowdown on Teen Driving – From Teens

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 6:00am


Getting your license is one of those big moments you only experience once in a lifetime and many people have a “getting my license” memory or story.

My memory involves three trips to the Department of Licensing. Each time my goal was to leave the place as an official licensed driver, but I kept forgetting some form of paperwork or bringing the wrong relative.

Becoming a new driver can be an unfamiliar, but rewarding process. Independence comes with a new license and teenagers often begin to feel more responsible. You know you’re really growing up when you no longer mistake the gas pedal for the brake.

Julianna Yakovac is headed to her night class at South Puget Sound Community College. Julianna Yakovac is headed to her night class at South Puget Sound Community College.

Thurston County is a great place to live when you can drive. Teens have the opportunity to become more involved in their community when they have the freedom to drive. Raquel Parada has gotten her permit recently and is ready for her license. “I’m looking forward to the freedom once I get my license and being able to drive on my own,” she says.

Local volunteer organization, gyms, parks, and community places are all gathering spots to visit on the road towards adulthood and allow an individual to expand involvement in the world of Thurston County. Students can venture off on their own and explore. Why not take a day trip to Seattle or Ocean Shores? Buckle up that seat belt and hit the open road.

However, before teenagers get behind the wheel, there are important lessons to be learned to better insure their safety. “Never trust other drivers,” advises Julianna Yakovac, a junior at North Thurston High School. “Just because they have a blinker on, doesn’t mean they’re turning.”

911 Driving School teaches new drivers the rules of the road. 911 Driving School teaches new drivers the rules of the road.

Students can enroll in a driver’s education class at the age of 15. Here they will learn the rules of the road. Before my first day of driver’s ed, I didn’t even realize that as a driver you were always supposed to be on the right side of the road (unless it’s a one way street) and I was very concerned about how I would figure out which lane I was supposed to be in. “Before I ever got behind to wheel I was nervous about uphill parking, driving in busy areas and especially the freeway,” Raquel says.

Julianna has been driving for about a year now, but she too had concerns when she first started. “No one ever told me how to pump gas. The first time I tried I ended up sitting in my car for a while trying to find the lever that opened the gas tank. My car is older so it doesn’t actually have a lever. You have to open the gas tank from outside, but how was I supposed to know that?,” Julianna shares.

In Olympia, there are many options for driver’s education classes. 911 Driving School and Cascade Driving School are both very popular choices, but there is also the option of enrolling in driver’s education classes at local high schools. When taking a driver’s ed class, students already have their permits allowing them to drive with the instructors. At the end of the course, they need to pass both a written exam and a physical driving test. Once completed, it’s off to the Department of Licensing for the real deal.

After passing, teens are issued an “Intermediate License” lasting until they are 18.  These licenses do not afford teens all the privileges of veteran, adult drivers.

Cascade Driving School is a popular choice for many local high school students looking to take driver's ed. Cascade Driving School is a popular choice for many local high school students looking to take driver’s ed.

During the first six months with a new license, teens can only drive alone or with immediate family and passengers over the age of 20. Carpooling is not an option for new drivers until after the six-month mark. While this may seem restrictive, it is important for new drivers to focus without distractions.

During the second six months, a new driver may carry up to three passengers under the age of 20 who are not family members. Additionally, drivers are not allowed to drive between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. for their entire first year unless accompanied by someone over 25. And of course, it is unlawful to text or use a mobile device while driving. All restrictions are lifted after a teen has reached one year with a license with a clean driving record.

texting safetyLocal insurance agent Ronelle Funk hands out a reminder of the consequences of distracted driving to area teens during texting and driving presentations at local high schools.

Teens and adults alike should never use their phones while driving. Cell phones are involved in nearly 1.6 million automobile related accidents annually. In 2010, it became illegal in Washington State to operate a cell phone while in a running a vehicle. With new technology and social media it can be hard not to reach for your phone in the car. Snapchat and other time-sensitive “look at me now” apps have taken over and although it is tempting to send messages while driving, it’s extremely dangerous and illegal. How do teens deal with the temptation?  “I silence my notifications, plug my phone in and leave it alone,” Julianna Yakovac shares.

Being a new driver is very exciting, especially for teens. But along with the added freedom comes added responsibility. Following the law, keeping yourself and your passengers safe, is priority number one. No one wants to be the cause of an accident. Keep your eyes on the road, Thurston County.

For full details on teen driving in Washington State visit the Department of Licensing’s web site here.