Recent local blog posts

Olympia Dance Festival Delights Fans and Families Alike

Thurston Talk - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 6:00am



By Megan Conklin

sunset airKen and Josie Johnson choreograph more than just dance in Thurston County.  The married couple choreographs traditions.

One local event that is quickly becoming a beloved winter tradition for dance aficionados in the area is the Olympia Dance Festival – a showcase of a dance styles and varieties from belly dancing to hip hop to ballet.

Ken and Josie, Artistic Directors for Ballet Northwest, launched the Olympia Dance Festival six years ago.  Ken said that he and his wife were inspired by similar dance festivals in Lewis and Pierce counties, but wanted to create something even more local. “We have so many talented dancers in our area. We wanted to bring them all to one location and showcase that talent,” Ken explained. “We partnered with The Washington Center for the Performing Arts to create the festival.”

olympia dance festival

During the Olympia Dance Festival, the audience is treated to a wide variety of performances.

The combination of the perfect venue and fabulous talent makes for an evening of exciting variety and entertainment.

The dance festival is an especially thrilling opportunity for young people who study dance in Thurston County. Ten-year-old Harper Gould has participated in the Olympia Dance Festival for the past two years and will perform again this year. “I love the dance festival because I get to perform in front of such a big audience,” explains Gould, who will perform with the Comerford School of Irish Dance.  “And it is even more fun than the Nutcracker because I dance with a smaller group of girls.”  This year the Comerford Irish dancers, one of eleven groups performing, will perform both hard and soft shoe numbers as well as a unique and delightful “four hand” dance traditional to the Irish dance custom.

According to Ken, one reason the kids enjoy this particular festival so much is the opportunity to connect with other dancers. “Dancers who know each other from school and from out in the community, but practice different styles of dance, get to perform together at the festival,” Ken asserts. “That is really special.”

olympia dance festival

Aaron Turner is a captivating tap dancer who will be on stage during the Olympia Dance Festival.

Because of the wide variety of local dance studios represented at the festival, it is a perfect event for parents with young children interested in dance to attend. The small sampling of different dance opportunities lets parents and children decide which style might be fun to try.

But the Olympia Dance Festival is not just for children. Many adult dance troupes will perform and there will be a special performance by Aaron Turner, a captivating tap dancer from Las Vegas who was seen on Season 10 of the hit show So You Think You Can Dance. Additionally, master classes taught by experts will be offered for festival participants as well as a Q&A session with Turner.

This year, the festival will include performances from Ballet Northwest, Ballet Theatre of Washington, Comerford School of Irish Dance, Debbi’s Dance Etc., High Impact Dance, Johansen Olympia Dance Center, Mas Uda Middle Eastern Dancers, RADCo (Random Acts of Dance Collective), Scoil Rince Slieveloughane Irish Dancers, Southwest Washington Dance Ensemble, and Studio West Dance Academy.

The Olympia Dance Festival is fast becoming a Thurston County memory making tradition for all who love dance in its many incarnations. Whether you are a dancer yourself, or merely a lover of the art, be sure to get your tickets for this can’t miss festival soon.

This year’s Olympia Dance Festival takes place on February 28 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here.

Betsy Perkins – Making Feet Dance at Meadows Elementary School and in Local Bands

Thurston Talk - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 6:00am



By Amy Rowley

betsy perkins

By day, Betsy Perkins is a music teacher and librarian at Meadows Elementary School. Outside of the classroom, Betsy performs with local bands.

To Betsy Perkins, inspiration for her music often comes from the people around her – lots of young people that attend Meadows Elementary School in Lacey. As the Library and Music teacher, Betsy finds that lyrics are just as likely to pop into her mind while working in the garden as a tune is to find its way to her while reading a children’s book.

Betsy’s songwriting career began when she was in elementary school. “I wrote a song about my cat, Sammy,” she recalls when speaking to a roomful of Meadows Elementary School students. Now, decades later, Betsy’s songs are taking a more cultured turn but still focus on the influence of animals and nature in her life.

Inside Meadows Elementary School, Betsy was originally a classroom teacher before transitioning to a full-time music teacher. Now, Betsy splits her time between teaching music and serving as the librarian.

“There is a whole new crew of students that excel in technology and music that may not be visible in the traditional classroom setting,” explains Betsy. “Music and dance is a really good outlet that allows different students to shine.”

Selfishly, Betsy feels that her teaching role has made her a better musician outside of the school.

Betsy hasn’t always been a singer, songwriter, and music maker. A native of New Hampshire, Betsy made her way to Lacey via The Evergreen State College. Betsy’s mother encouraged her interest in the arts by signing her up for a variety of dance, music and art lessons.

“I was fortunate to be involved in dance and to play clarinet and piano as a kid. I kind of went away from these things for awhile as a teenager but then returned to it when I moved to Olympia,” recalls Betsy.

bevy band olympia

Bevy is an all-women seven piece jazz band. Betsy sings and plays percussion.

Betsy, a member of a variety of local bands, credits local musicians as being her main teachers. “I learned music with people who were better than me and would show me things. I’m amazed that I’m teaching music from the gifts of the Olympia community,” she says.

In Bevy, an all women 7-piece jazz band, Betsy sings and plays percussion. The band started in 2001 as a way for women to practice together. The group performs around town, including a few stints at the Olympia Farmers Market.

Artesian Rumble Arkestra is a mobile band where Betsy shares her percussion skills. The band can often be seen in parades since all of the instruments can be carried.

“When I first rejoined a band, I started as a drummer,” recalls Betsy. “I used to sing a lot as a kid but I had stopped singing. I got comfortable as a band member and then I started singing again.”

betsy perkins

Betsy has composed more than 25 songs. Her favorite tune is about a noisy bird.

Then, she progressed into songwriting. “Sometimes the lyrics come first. I think of something poetic and then craft the melodies. And, sometimes it’s the other way around,” she explains and adds that a song could take her a few hours to write or up to two years. She recently performed a concert of original music at The Washington Center that was a few years in the making.

“I think about music better when I play the piano,” says Betsy in response to the question about her favorite instrument. The owner of countless musical instruments, Betsy also has a fond spot for an upright bass that she purchased as a 40th birthday gift.

In all, Betsy says that she has probably written about 25 songs. Her current favorite is a complicated tune about a Grackle, a colorful, noisy bird. Betsy describes the loud calls made by the Grackle and explains that the complex piece of music has been a challenge for her band.

Betsy has composed some original tunes for Meadows Elementary School students. Beyond hoping to record an album one day, Betsy also would also “love to write a big children’s musical.”

By far, the most impactful experience of Betsy Perkins’ music career is when she “locks in” with other musicians. Whether it’s an energetic fifth grader or an accomplished adult musician, Betsy says that her “joy is playing with other people and feeling that excitement in the audience. We can all talk at once with music and then feel connected to each other.”

*Author’s Note – a special thank you to the fantastic students at Meadows Elementary School for helping craft interview questions and enabling us to all learn more about Betsy Perkin’s talents. This article was part of the P.I.E. relationship between and North Thurston Public Schools.


SPSCC all over the place and other port related links (Olyblogosphere for February 23, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 4:08am
1. Seems a bit early, you know? But, Washington Our Home declares snake season has begun.

2. Rebels by Bus has a nice class (and video) over at South Puget.

3. Speaking of South Puget, here's Janine (from Little Hollywood) talking to SPSCC's president.

4. Longshoremen load up a ship.

5. Ken has a pretty thoughtful post here. I knew he'd been the type to vote for her, but I didn't realize she was ill. When should she resign, really?

Port Citizen Advisory Committee Discusses 2015 Work Plan

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 11:09pm

Above: Members of the Port of Olympia citizen advisory committee met with port commissioners on February 17 to discuss their 2015 work plan. By Janine Unsoeld
Port of Olympia commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor met with the port’s 14 member citizen advisory committee on Tuesday, February 17 to discuss committee’s 2015 work plan.The committee has five new members who are starting three year terms. Out of seven who applied, five new members were chosen by port executive director Ed Galligan, Commissioner McGregor, and committee chair John Hurley, based on a number of criteria. At a November 24, 2014 commissioner meeting, the last meeting port commissioner Sue Gunn attended due to health issues, Gunn stated that she would like to change how the members are selected so that it is in open session with all three commissioners. Committee members were asked to take on four tasks for the year: research transparency issues, refine a protocol for the naming of port facilities, help develop the port’s vision statement, and conduct a self-evaluation of their work as a committee.Tasks for the committee are created and assigned to the Port's citizen advisory committee by the commissioners. It was made clear that the group had to accept the tasks, although many clearly had no enthusiasm to revisit protocols for naming port facilities, since they did a thorough review of the subject last year. McGregor wanted the group to essentially say to the commissioners, “do it or don’t it.”

TransparencyThe commissioners said it would be of value to the port to have the committee investigate and report back on the issue of transparency. Questions the commissioners asked the committee to explore are: What is an acceptable definition of transparency in government and, in particular, the Port of Olympia? What has the Port done to improve transparency over the past few years and what additional measures can the port do to improve transparency? What is it that citizens want to see improved as it relates to Port transparency? What is the overall feeling of citizens as it relates to transparency? Regarding this last question, commissioners stated that a public hearing may be required by the committee as part of their information gathering effort. Among other requests, the commissioners asked the committee to comment on the commission’s meetings and work sessions in terms of meeting frequency, time of day, length of meeting and content.A detailed scope of work asks that the group look at commission meeting materials, compare the Port of Olympia to at least three other regional ports and at least two other local jurisdictions. The group has a deadline for this task of September 2015.Naming Protocols

Members were not keen on revisiting a task to examine how the port would go about naming facilities after individuals if so desired. The committee reported back to the commission and gave several recommendations in a detailed 2014 report, and committee member Clydia Cuykendall said that it was not a good use of the group’s time to revisit the issue. She noted that the port has received only one naming request in the past 10 years. The deadline for this task is June 2015.Vision Statement

The commissioners and port staff will be working on the development of a vision statement as part of a two day strategic planning retreat currently scheduled for the end of March. The committee was asked to choose from one of the sample vision statements that will be provided to them by the commissioners. If none of the sample vision statements are preferred, they are to suggest language changes. A deadline for this is to be determined.

Committee Self-EvaluationThe group is tasked with conducting a self-evaluation on the use of a citizen advisory committee. The group must compare and contrast its formation and work with at least four regional ports and at least three local jurisdictions and quasi-governmental entities. The deadline for this task is September 2015.

Committee members divided themselves up between committees. New members asked questions from whether or not the airport or the port really makes any money, to the status of the Mazama pocket gophers at the airport property. Cuykendall wondered why the committee wasn’t included to comment on the Tumwater Real Estate Master Plan, and what the difference was between their past work, and the work of the new port advisory committee for the port’s properties in New Market.

Port of Olympia New Market Industrial Campus and Tumwater Town Center Real Estate Development Master Plan  This latest study is a master plan being coordinated by the Thurston Regional Planning Commission. The Port of Olympia owns over 500 acres of real estate in Tumwater, excluding the Olympia Regional Airport. The property may be developed for commercial, industrial or other uses. In response to questions from committee members, port executive director Ed Galligan admitted that the gophers, now listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, present a serious impediment to growth on the property.

The port’s master plan group will have a public workshop about the development of this plan on Thursday, March 5, 6:00 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn Conference Center, 1620 74th Avenue SW, Tumwater.For more information about the New Market Master Plan, go to

For more information about the Port of Olympia, go to

Port of Olympia Business Carries On Without Commissioner Gunn

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 10:52pm

Above: Port of Olympia executive director Ed Galligan, left, Commissioner George Barner, center, in striped shirt, and Commissioner Bill McGregor, to his left, conduct business at a special joint commission and port citizen's advisory committee meeting on February 17, 2015.
By Janine
Among other business, Port of Olympia commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor heard a presentation at their work session on February 19 about a proposal to create a new berth. Commissioner Sue Gunn, absent from port meetings since November 24, had open heart surgery in December. Commissioner McGregor said he thinks Gunn may be absent through March and that he doesn’t know if she is going to be back.

Port commissioners divide responsibilities and assignments. Gunn is responsible for attending meetings of the Tumwater Chamber, Grand Mound Rochester Chamber, South Thurston Economic Development Initiative, Legislative Thurston County Shared Partnership Group, and the Transportation Policy Board. McGregor and Barner attended Transportation Policy Board meetings for Gunn in January and February.At the work session meeting, new draft language regarding administrative procedures for the excusal and prolonged absence of a port commissioner was discussed. In light of Commissioner Gunn’s absence, clarifying language is needed, as this occurrence has not happened before in port history. No action was taken.

Harbor Patrol DiscussionStaff and commissioners had a lengthy conversation about the Harbor Patrol program. McGregor asked staff for more information about the loss of City of Olympia funding for the Harbor Patrol and keenly wanted to try and find a way to save it. He asked staff to see if there was a way the port could take over a portion of the costs, and to find out how much the repairs to their boat is going to cost.

“We get drawn in by association…in my cursory look, it’s a benefit. I’d hate to see it go away without discussion. Let’s begin the process from the Port’s perspective. The boat needs work. Let’s find out what is the true cost of keeping the program alive and what we can take on under our jurisdiction,” said McGregor. Galligan said he would produce a report to the commissioners about the program by March 2.

Above: An aerial of the Port of Olympia taken in December 2014. A proposal for a Berth 4 is being discussed in the area of the missing "notch" of the current port peninsula.
Berth 4 ProposalAlex Smith, the port’s director of environmental programs, gave a brief report on a proposal to create a fourth berth in the area of the missing “notch” of the current port peninsula.  The port says a fourth berth would provide greater flexibility, creating between four to six acres of work area for cargo loading or unloading.

The port also sees this as an opportunity to continue its cleanup of Budd Inlet and to have a place to deposit dredge spoils. An old pier made of creosote pilings in that location is still visible. Commissioner Barner commented that he used to be employed there as a young teenager as a “casual” – a temporary laborer, using pike poles to separate floating logs. They were then pulled out of the water and either loaded on ships or stored them on land.  

“It was dangerous business, and a couple of my buddies were killed, crushed by moving logs,” he said.Creating the new berth, technically a confined disposal facility, would require the dredging of the federal channel. Due to the contaminated sediment caused by legacy dioxins from mills along the shoreline, the proposed project has years of decisions ahead of it.

The port proposes to use a berm and/or a sheet pile wall to surround the area for the deposit. The contaminated sediment would be capped, fill would go on top of that, then asphalt. Collectively, that creates a new upland area.  The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for doing the dredging and pays for the lowest cost disposal alternative. Smith estimated that an estimated 400,000 to 575,000 cubic yards of material would be dredged.

The cost for the berth would be about $20 million. To pay for the berth, the port would pursue a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant that would pay for about a third of the total cost. Smith said that the state Department of Ecology would be unlikely to pay for the project because it doesn’t meet their criteria for cleanup. Dredged material from berths 2 and 3 was recently taken away to landfills in Castle Rock, Washington and Oregon.

“The most we can put into berth 4 would be about 180,000 cubic yards. It’s not going to solve all our problems and it’s still a pretty expensive thing to do….” said Smith after the meeting.Asked how desperate the port is to do this project, Smith said that will be looked at in the port’s marine terminal master plan. Smith says the port will continue to move towards design and permitting. Getting on the Army Corps of Engineers radar for the dredging is a long process.

Harry Branch, Olympia, has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on marine reserves as a tool in fishery management. He has also served as a captain operating research vessels. Branch wrote a letter to the port commissioners saying that studies seem to indicate that confined disposal is being viewed less favorably because it impedes natural remediation by plants.

“Dredging and filling nearshore areas reduces potential ecological function by reducing the intertidal and shallow littoral area. Alterations to physical parameters impact chemical and biological parameters. There is always some degree of mess created during construction. Any time we dig in the benthos, we release contamination into the water column.

Confined disposal facility (CDF) sites are expected to leak but at an acceptable rate. I suggest that in a confined, degraded bay like Budd Inlet, there is no acceptable rate. We need to ultimately get to a point where these things are for all intents and purposes, gone. How long will this CDF actually survive? They haven't been around long enough to know for sure. The nearshore of Puget Sound is an artesian discharge zone. An interesting case study is the old coal gasification site near the head of the Thea Foss Waterway where a big blob of coal tar was buried about a hundred feet from the water's edge. That’s a big cap. Over the past eighty years this blob has been observed to move, underground, being pushed along by groundwater under artesian pressure. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) ultimately emerged through seeps in the bank.

The half life of dioxin in bright sunlight can be a matter of hours. In a dark, anaerobic environment it can be a matter of centuries. The link below leads to an example of forward thinking on this topic. Placing all toxic material in one pile creates an environment that impedes remediation by natural processes including remediation by plants, fungi and aerobic bacteria. Rather than making persistent toxins biologically unavailable we should think in terms of making them biological available in a controlled setting. Here's what I'd like to see at berth 4: The land from what's labeled on the port's map as the "cargo yard", across to the Cascade Pole containment cell is clearly the location of a canal in historic photos. This canal appears to have been used to float logs and other material across to the west side of the peninsula. It's a safe bet that those are the most seriously contaminated soils. This material should be excavated, hauled away and spread out in bright sunlight. Then the historic canal should be restored to intertidal habitat. The current dock pictured at berth 4 would be rebuilt and used by ships or become the location of a fuel dock. There'd be usable dock with good habitat behind, the point being to demonstrate how we can have human use along with restoration.Here's the study mentioned that indicates how confined disposal is being viewed less favorably because in impedes natural remediation by plants.” 
For more information about the Port of Olympia, go to

Log Carrier Departs

OlyBlog Home Page - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 4:10pm

Twinluck SW
Friday night, Longshore Union workers finished preparing the Twinluck SW ship's cargo and cranes for departure.

Saturday morning, the ship was seen departing Budd Inlet. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Yelm’s Darren Harris Wins Third State Wrestling Title

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 3:31pm



By Gail Wood

lucky eagleWith a wide grin, a jubilant Darren Harris raised both his arms above his head and pointed three fingers on each hand.

This was his moment to celebrate, to savor his third state championship. In his final match as a Yelm Tornado, Harris, a senior and four-time state qualifier, put an exclamation point to his spectacular high school with a pin, of course, to win his third state title.

yelm darren harris

Yelm’s Darren Harris goes for state title number three here in the 126-pound finals.

Harris, the state’s all-time leader in pins with 112, pinned three of the four opponents he faced at the 4A state wrestling tournament in the Tacoma Dome. In the finals at 129 pounds against Lake Stevens’ Alex Rodorigo, Harris led 8-2 after scoring on a near fall. Then Harris, as he’s done so many times before, flipped his opponent to his back and won by a pin.

“This is the best possible feeling I could get,” Harris said moments after winning his third state title. “I wanted to be a three-timer and that was it. I just set my mind to it and practiced way harder to achieve my goal.”

Yelm High School coach Gaylord Strand didn’t know whether to cheer or cry.

“It’s been quite a ride,” Strand said. “He’s given the community so much joy and pride. Now, it’s all come to an end. I’m happy and sad at the same time.”

While focused on his end goal – to win three state titles – Harris wasn’t focused only on himself. He was like a coach, always helping teammates with technique, giving them advice at practice.

darren harris wrestling

Darren Harris works here for a takedown early in the state finals.

“We’re really going to miss him in the practice room because anybody he touches he’s helped,” Strand said.

After winning his first state title as a freshman – “That was my goal since I was in seventh grade,” Harris said – he had a setback. He lost in the finals his sophomore year in a match that he led 8-1. Determined not to lose again, Harris went undefeated his next two seasons, stringing together 64 straight wins. He went 29-0 this year and finished 129-7 as a Tornado. He’s the first to win a state title at Yelm.

“He’s got a lot of drive,” Strand said. “He sets his goals and nothing gets in the way. He’s so focused. As you can see nothing gets in his way.”

Harris’ high school career is over. But his wrestling days aren’t done. He’s considering scholarship offers to wrestle at Boise State and Oregon State.

“I’m really going to miss it,” Harris said about wrestling at Yelm. “Strand and all the coaches are great coaches. I’ll still be coming by just to say hi to all my friends. It’s been an honor to be part of the team.”

darren harris wrestling

Darren Harris celebrates after winning his third state wrestling championship.

After winning the regional title, Yelm had 14 wrestlers qualify for state and the Tornadoes finished with four placers. Besides Harris, Tanner Page (138), Bo Campbell (170), Holden Miller (220) all placed.

Page won his first match 15-5 and then lost 5-2 in the quarterfinals and ended up placing sixth. Campbell lost his first match and then won his next two matches and placed seventh as he pinned his final opponent. Miller won his opening match 3-1 before losing 6-3 in the quarterfinals and finished seventh at 220 pounds, pinning his final opponent in 4:44.

In the 2A meet, Tumwater High School’s Eric Schmidt, a senior who was an alternate to state last year, won his first three matches to reach the finals at 132 pounds against Orthello’s Many Martinez, last year’s state champ. Schmidt got into trouble early and lost by a first-round pin.

Schmidt overcame adversity during the season and impressed his coach, Tony Prentice. Before every match, Prentice always placed the emphasis on composure, not on winning.

tumwater wrestling

Tumwater coach Tony Prentice consoles Eric Schmidt after his loss in the 132-pound finals.

“He’s made huge strides,” Prentice said. “This is such a bonus. He’s had some other things going on personally that makes this story so much more dramatic. He’s overcome so much.”

Four of Tumwater’s nine state qualifiers placed. Zach Slater placed third at 170, Sam Richards was fifth at 182, and freshman Cy Hicks was fifth at heavyweight.

Slater pinned his first opponent and then lost by a pin in the quarterfinals. Slater then won his next four matches, winning 4-2 in the consolations finals. Richards pinned his first opponent in 2:15 and then lost 8-2. He won his last match 8-7. Hicks won his first two matches 3-2 and 3-1 then lost 5-2 in the semifinals. He pinned his final opponent in 1:47.

Prentice was second guessing his decision not to go out for lunch after Saturday’s morning round. But with about a 90-minute window, he decided to stay in the Tacoma Dome, making a decision most coaches would have made.

“We went 6-3 in the first round,” the Tumwater coach said. “Then we went 3-7. Maybe if we had gotten our brain out of here for a bit, we probably would have done better.”


Was It Really the Water in Olympia’s First Brewery?

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 6:20am



By Emmett O’Connell

pints logoThe story of Olympia’s first ever brewery and first ever locally brewed beer is a great illustration about how the waves of history can make landfall in several corners of a community.

Isaac Wood was an early pioneer of the area east of Olympia that eventually became Lacey, taking a land claim in 1852. Seven years later he opened Olympia’s first brewery on the northeast corner of 4th and Columbia.

Wood’s family is so ingrained in the Lacey landscape that if not for the other Woodland on the Columbia River getting to the name first in the 1890s, the city we call Lacey now might have been named after him.

isaac wood

Isaac Wood is credited with starting the first brewery in Olympia.

In the late 1850s and the early 1860s, Wood brewed a variety of beer called a cream ale. The corner of 4th and Columbia now sits several blocks away from what we’d consider the waterfront, since the acres of downtown fill had not occurred in Wood’s time. So his “Union Brewery”  was very near the shore of Budd Inlet.

Wood’s cream ale likely referred to a beer closely resembling what we would today call a typical American lager (think Budweiser as a fairly commercial example), with some influences from ale hop beers. Brewers influenced by German brewing traditions used lager recipes as an alternative to English styles such as ales. (Today’s Northwest IPAs are descendants.)

From More Beer:

Welsh and Yankee brewers in the Delaware Valley region of Pennsylvania had established Philadelphia as a center for ale brewing, but around the beginning of this century, the adjunct lagers being sold by the area’s new German brewers began to make inroads into ale sales. The public was beginning to prefer American lager’s light, clear, and effervescent appearance. Ale brewers responded to this demand by creating a top-fermented product similar to an American lager. Using ale yeast (or possibly even a combination of lager and ale yeasts, though no concrete evidence exists for the use of lager yeast in the early cream ales), they could produce beer more quickly than the lager brewers could, thereby potentially increasing sales and market share.* It may also have meant that they could use the same worts for both lagers and ales and benefit from economies of scale. These new beers were termed “brilliant,” “sparkling,” or “present use” ales, with the nickname “cream ale” sticking as the common name. Cream ales of the early twentieth century were described as having the appearance of a lager beer, but a fairly pronounced ale taste and character.

olympia beer history

Isaac Wood’s Union Brewery was located at 4th and Columbia. During his days, this was right on the water front.

The naming of his brewery as the “Union Brewery” most likely had to do with the political reaction to the brewing Civil War on the East Coast. Up until the Lincoln administration, the Washington Territory had been a government led by Democrats. As such, local Democrats in Olympia tended to be in leadership positions. But, as Democrats were forced to show their loyalty to the union cause, we see some interesting displays. Maybe one of them was Woods’ Union Brewery.

Isaac Wood was also the first person to bring over English hops to the Pacific Northwest, kicking off the most iconic portion of Northwest brewing.

From the Oregon Historical Quarterly:

During the fall of 1865, Olympia Washington Brewer Isaac Wood became frustrated with his inability to acquire hops, grown predominantly in distant East Coast and European fields. He asked his neighboring farming family, the Meekers to plant a few hills of the crop and they agreed to experiment. It was a historic decision… Following the family’s windfall, Ezra Meeker energetically promoted the news to farmers across the region. He asserted that the future of Pacific Northwest farming rested in hops.

Meeker would eventually become known as the “Hop King of the World.” Today, hardly anyone can imagine Northwest brewing without the inclusion of Pacific Northwest hops. Without Wood’s cagey suggestion, hop growing may have eventually come to the Northwest. But, we can certainly trace the hop crazy beer tradition in the Northwest to Olympia’s own brewer.

olympia beer history

Olympia residents clamored for Wood’s cream ale which had a unique flavor, perhaps from the water source.

The specific location of Wood’s Union Brewery may turn out to be the most interesting historic nugget of Wood’s brewing life. Because 4th and Columbia was so near the saltwater, and Wood took his water for brewing from a reportedly shallow well, his specific variety of cream ale took on a very particular taste.

We know what cream ales are and how they developed into the iconic American lagers. But there is something specific about Wood’s brew that lasted for decades in the memories of locals.

Writing about the eventual 1909 destruction of Wood’s brewery building, Gordon Newell in “Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen wrote: “(Washington Standard editor John Miller Murphy) observed nostalgically that the remaining pioneers ‘would give five dollars for a glass of that cream ale.’”

Wood likely tapped into an unrelated tradition of German brewing called Gose Beer. Named after the town of Goslar, Germany, this variety of beer includes either briney water or actually adding salt to the beer recipe.  By accidently mixing cream ale with the briny water from the Deschutes River estuary, Wood probably created a very unique and very particular variety of beer.

References and further reading:

More Beer: Cream Ale

Oregon Historical Quarterly: Hop Fever

Lacey: An Interesting History And Unusual Place Name

Dun Dreaming Ranch Provides Safe Haven for Rescued Farm Animals

Thurston Talk - Sun, 02/22/2015 - 5:41am



By Heidi Smith

volkswagenJoyce was one of those kids that was always picking up animals. “From day one, I would bring home everything,” she says. Unfortunately at the time, many of them turned out to belong to her New Jersey neighbors, so she had to give them back. Today, she doesn’t have that problem. Her 40 acre farm animal rescue, Dun Dreaming Ranch in Roy, is home to 28 rescue animals including horses, goats, cows and her first rescue, a potbellied pig named – what else? – Pig Pig. “They know that they’re safe here and that they’re loved,” she says.

animal rescue

Penelope enjoys the companionship of Frick and Frack, two rescue goats Joyce got at an auction.

The animals come from a variety of situations. Chance the cow belongs to a young couple who bought him at a fundraiser. “He was a really sickly little bottle calf and they insisted on buying him, and got him straight to the vet,” says Joyce. “He was dehydrated and in really bad shape.” The pair raised him for almost two years but their living situation changed and they had to move into downtown Yelm.  “They didn’t want anything bad to happen to him, so they brought him here,” says Joyce, who asked that only her first name be used for privacy reasons.

Then there’s Penelope the pygmy goat. “She was a hoarding case,” Joyce explains. Concerned neighbors told her that two of the goat’s babies had frozen to death due to neglect and the traumatized mother was running loose in the neighborhood. “The owner let me ‘have’ her for $25.” She shakes her head. “She was scared to death of people.”

Pig Pig was a sadly typical case of “someone thinking pot-bellied pigs are cute, but once they start to grow up, they don’t know what to do with them,” according to Joyce. “I brought her here.” Now she hangs out with Frick and Frack, two other rescue goats, as well as Penelope.

Thirty yards from the goats, several horses graze contentedly. “They were all in pretty bad shape when they came here,” says Joyce. “One of them was 100 pounds underweight.” Another has a bone deformity and can never be ridden, while a third is 32 years old. In a nearby pasture, a former race horse is enjoying a new sense of freedom. “It’s the first time he’s been able to just be outside in the pasture running and rolling and playing,” she says, adding that he is working through issues related to his years on the track.

animal rescue

Coco and 32-year old Val have become good friends after a year together at Dun Dreaming Ranch.

Although humans are often the culprits in neglectful scenarios, Joyce even protects animals from other animals. Seven, a cow that has some mental and physical disabilities, was being beaten up by other cows. “This is a no bullying farm,” she declares, “so when he first came here and they were in the cow barn, he had his own stall. He gets his own food and water. This is his own little special area. Now everybody gets along just fine. There’s no pushing. There’s no bullying.”

While Joyce grew up around horses and was married to a cattle rancher, farm animals are a new chapter for her so she’s had to learn a lot as she went along. At the same time, she’s been a vet tech and learned about Emergency Animal Relief through an American Humane Association course. In Texas, she even started her own non-profit animal rescue. “The first year, with five volunteers, we rescued and adopted out over 700 animals – all spayed, neutered, heart wormed, microchipped, and started on crate training,” she says.  “I had mainly foster homes so when we had adopted animals out there, they were socialized.”

animal rescue

The aptly named ‘Pig Pig’ spends most of his time hanging out with his goat pals.

Although she already has a board of directors in place and has started the paperwork to turn Dun Dreaming into a non-profit, she has reservations. “I want to keep it at a level I can manage because it’s only me here,” she says. “I want to have enough grass for all of the animals. The 40 acres is not all grazeable. Over half of my land is heavy woods and hillside. Taking care of the animals I already have is a 24/7 job.” She’s open to having more animals on the property, and the land can certainly support more, but at the same time, “I don’t want twenty animals in a pen,” she says.

What she could use is support with clearing the land and donations of hay.  “I need hands on for clearing brush, cutting limbs, that kind of stuff,” she says. “It’s another 25 acres up there where trees are down. Believe it or not, one of the biggest things is picking up rocks. These pastures were death traps with all the rocks. I also need help with plumbing stuff that I don’t know how to do. There are valves all over the farm that need to be capped off. So those tasks and hay donations are really the biggest needs.” At $12 a bale, hay is one of the biggest expenses she currently incurs.

Although the work can seem unending, to Joyce it’s all worth it. Knowing that every single animal here knows they’re loved, they’re taken care of, they will always have full bellies – that’s how I sleep at night,” she says.  “So when I get up at 1:00 a.m. and it’s freezing cold, that’s why I do it. If I can only control this forty acres in my lifetime, that’s what I will do.”

For more information, contact Joyce at

Real Estate Agents Create a Partnership of Trust with Boggs Inspection Services

Thurston Talk - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 2:31pm



boggs home inspection

The Boggs Inspection Services team works together to provide quality home inspections throughout the South Sound.

Buying and selling a home ranks near the top of life’s most stressful situations. It’s during these times that we wrestle with the “what-ifs” that are out of our control. What if the offer is rejected? What if our house doesn’t sell and we find one we want to buy? What if the appraisal is low? And a big one for all buyers and sellers – what will the home inspection find?

Real estate agents assist greatly in alleviating fears and providing knowledge and expertise to navigate the complex steps to buying and selling. But when it comes to the home inspection, agents know to turn to a trusted partner, ensuring their client receives accurate information about the condition of their future dream home.

Olympia-based Van Dorm Realty agent Cheri Wilkins has been helping clients find new homes in the South Sound for over 20 years. She’s seen her share of home inspections in that time, some turning up hidden issues making a huge difference in a sale. Ten years ago, Wilkin’s sister gave her the name of a new inspector and urged her to give him a try.

Dwayne Boggs had just opened the doors of Boggs Inspection Services and was looking to partner with local agents, offering his signature brand of clear, concise and accurate inspection reports. Once Wilkins experienced Boggs’ easy-to-follow report style and simple, yet accurate, explanations to clients, she was hooked.

olympia real estate

Cheri Wilkins has been helping clients find their dream homes in Thurston County for over 20 years.

“Dwayne is always clear and concise. His team never tries to scare people with their findings. His inspectors explain clearly what’s needed in the house and is careful to not alarm them with building terms they don’t understand,” Wilkens explains. It’s not just that his reports are clear, either. Boggs personally walks homebuyers through each issue he has found, pointing out the trouble spots and giving realistic guidelines as to whether it’s a major issue or just something to be aware of.

Boggs Inspection Services is one of Wilkin’s top choices for her clients for more than just their excellent reports. “Dwayne and his team is always available, usually the day we call or by the next morning. That keeps our transaction moving and allows buyers to move towards closing more quickly,” she shares.

For sellers, Boggs Inspection Services offers valuable home pre-inspections. Knowing problem areas before listing your home, and having a chance to address them, makes your home more attractive to buyers and avoids the hassle of costly repairs during negotiation and sale process.

“One unique thing Dwayne’s team offers is inspections for seniors,” shares Wilkins. As a long-time member of the Senior Action Network, Boggs Inspection Services works with local seniors, ensuring their homes are safe for their golden years. “Often seniors have been in their home for a while and are no longer able to maintain it in the same way that they used to. Boggs inspectors can look under the house or check the electrical and give seniors peace of mind that their home is safe,” Wilkens explains.

Lacey based agent Phil Sharp also lists Boggs Inspection Services at the top of his list for his client’s home inspections. Sharp specializes in helping military families relocate in the JBLM area, often buying homes sight-unseen as they plan relocation from overseas.

olympia real estate

Phil Sharp specializes in helping military families find a new home in Pierce or Thurston County during their relocation to JBLM.

“Dwayne and his team offer a consistent inspection experience every time. I know my clients will get a clear, concise, and easy to read report within a day of inspection,” shares Sharp. “When working with home buyers located in Germany or Korea, for example, the written report with its excellent photos is invaluable.” In these situations, Phil attends the inspections instead of the buyers and knows the Boggs team will be available to answer any questions his clients have.

The communication and organization of the Boggs team is what truly sets them apart for Sharp. During a sale, the relationship between buyer and seller is key. Having a fast turnaround on the inspection, keeping the sale from sitting in the “pending” category, can really influence negotiations and speed closing.

“Time is of the essence in real estate, particularly when I have clients staying in a hotel or scheduled to fly into the country soon,” says Sharp. “With Dwayne’s team, we get a fast and comprehensive inspection that is valuable to buyers and sellers.”

Throughout the ups and downs of buying and selling a house a real-estate agent helps navigate through often confusing terminology and paperwork. But agents are only as good as their support team which is why both Cheri Wilkins and Phil Sharp look to Boggs Inspection Services to assist in this crucial part of the process.

“What Dwayne and his team bring to the table is great,” says Sharp. “It’s what I, and my clients, need.”

To schedule an inspection, call Boggs Inspection Services at 360-480-9602.


Port Blakely Accepting Applications for Environmental Education Grants

Thurston Talk - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 1:16pm



Submitted by Port Blakely

Schools that participate in Port Blakely Tree Farms’ environmental education program are encouraged to apply for one of four grants. The maximum amount of each grant is $500, to be awarded in June 2015.

Port Blakely Tree Farms started the grant program in 2011 to help elementary schools provide environmental education opportunities for students. Any school that participates in Port Blakely Tree Farms’ environmental education program in Washington and Oregon is eligible to apply for grant funds.

“As a company with over 150 years of history, we recognize that our longevity and success is in part due to the commitment of primary educators to environmental education,” said Court Stanley, President of Port Blakely Tree Farms. “This is our way of further supporting their efforts to connect students with natural resources.”

The application and information on Port Blakely Tree Farms’ environmental education grant can be found here.

Port Blakely Tree Farms, LP, owns and manages healthy forestlands throughout western Washington and Oregon. The company provides sustainable forest products, protects wildlife habitat and water resources, and supports the local communities in which it operates. Port Blakely Tree Farms is a division of Port Blakely Companies, a 150-year-old, family-owned company with diversified assets in forestry, and forest product exports. For information, visit

Peace Works 2015: Justice Rising!

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 4:30pm
Event:  Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:00pm - 9:00pm  BDS FOUNDER & MOVEMENT LEADERS AT PEACE WORKS FEBRUARY 23 JUSTICE RISING! logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Bed and Breakfast for Bumble Bees

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 11:50am

©Words, photos and videos by Nancy Partlow------------Words in red text are links to video ------------I used to turn my nose up at crocuses.  I thought they were just another species of over-bred nursery flower that sits there doing nothing. Turns out I was wrong.  Five years ago Janet wrote a blog about her experience with a queen bumble bee using a crocus blossom in her yard as an overnight hotel:

I was totally charmed by this story and wanted to have the same experience for myself. To this end, I bought and planted some crocus corms in a sunny location in my garden.  For the past several winters I’ve eagerly awaited the emergence of the flowers and for a queen bumble bee to choose one of them as a sleeping bag.  This week it finally happened.  It was the coolest thing!
  Around four o’clock one afternoon, I went outside to check the crocus patch and was excited to see a queen Bombus vosnesenskii bumble bee lying inert inside the slowly-closing petals of a striped purple crocus blossom.

The day had been unseasonably warm, but the queen had sensed the approaching  darkness of a cold winter night, and had chosen a clever hiding place to protect herself from the elements and predators. She wasn’t asleep, but had entered into a semi-torpid state to conserve energy.  She had picked this particular blossom as a bed and breakfast, knowing that crocus flowers shut up at night and are a rich source of nectar and pollen.

The queen lay there until morning, when dappled sunlight gently shone upon the dew-covered flower, gradually warming its petals and the insect swaddled within.   

It took a few hours for the petals to sufficiently open to reveal the still-torpid queen, her slightly-twitching legs indicating that life was returning to her body.  

During the night, she had changed position inside the blossom, and now her legs were wrapped around the flower’s stamen.   Nourishing orange pollen grains coated the hairs of her body. 
   Sunlight had not yet penetrated deeply inside the flower’s cup, so eventually the groggy bee laboriously dragged herself to the edge of a petal where she lay soaking up the life-giving solar warmth. 

It wasn’t until nearly noon that the bee finally started to move in earnest, crawling to the next flower to eagerly drink nectar and rub stamen pollen onto her belly hairs.

Janet (who was visiting me that day) and I speculated on what the belly pollen behavior was all about.  I thought the queen might be gathering food to eat later, to help her rebuild the stores of body fat she had depleted during a long underground hibernation. But Janet suggested a different theory, that since pollen is full of antimicrobial ingredients, perhaps the bee was using it as a type of medicine protectant for her body, especially since she had so recently emerged from the soil.  Or, maybe the queen had already found a place to build her nest and was gathering pollen to lay her first brood of eggs upon.

It was about this time that I caught sight of another insect crawling out of a nearby crocus, and was amazed to realize that a second queen bumble bee, this one a red, yellow and black Bombus melanopygus, had also used one of my crocus flowers as a B & B.

The previous evening, I had placed a 4-inch potted heath plant near the crocuses, knowing that with its masses of tiny nectar-filled flowers, heath is an important food source for early-season bumble bees.

The melanopygusqueen, her body caked with yellow crocus pollen, flew straight to the heath and started drinking

Success!  This gardening for wildlife stuff is really great.

Pollinator gardening provides many such experiences of discovery.  It is also a way to welcome back into our lives the myriad wonderful creatures who previously inhabited  the spaces we now occupy on earth.

I can hardly wait to see what happens next. -------------Additional video:

After fully warming up, the Bombus vosnesenskii queen nectars on crocus blossoms:
Other resources:
About bee torpor:

Long before crocuses and heath became popular landscape plants in human settlements, bumble bee species had evolved over millennia to survive in native plant ecosystems. This article from England gives an idea of how queen bumble bees might survive in those situations: 
Categories: Local Environment

River Ridge Boys Basketball Team On A Playoff Roll

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 11:31am



By Gail Wood

Rock FitnessIn basketball, the typical reaction of a starter being benched is frustration. It unplugs, not inspires.

But nine games into River Ridge High School’s season in boys basketball, coach John Barbee, with his team struggling through a 5-4 start, juggled his lineup. Thayer Murphy, a backup guard, became a starter. Mack Armstrong, a junior forward, became the sub off the bench.

And rather than fume, rather than check out, Armstrong cranked up in his intensity. Murphy, rather than wilt under a starter’s role, has flourished, scoring a career-high 34 in the Hawks’ recent 61-54 district playoff win against Lindberg. The backup who became a starter is averaging a team-high 12 points.

river ridge basketball

River Ridge coach John Barbee juggled his lineup to help the Hawks reach the playoffs.

And Armstrong’s goal never changed. It’s still all about winning.

“We’re all brothers out here,” Armstrong said prior to a recent practice. “We’re supportive of each other. As long as we’re winning, that’s all that matters.”

For Armstrong, it doesn’t matter if his points come as a starter or as a backup. That help-where-he-can attitude is why he’s averaging 11.1 points off the bench, second on the team. He’s been the designated points-to-the-rescue backup.

“I just come in off the bench wanting to be a boost and a spark,” Armstrong said. “I want to do all I can to help the team win.”

Armstrong’s approach is a big reason why River Ridge turned its season around. After going 3-3 and then 5-4 to start the season, River Ridge, with a new lineup and a new gear as Barbee asked more from his team’s defense, has won 11 of its last 12 games. As winners of the South Puget Sound League, River Ridge is now 18-5 after the Hawks beat White River 61-54 on Thursday in the district semifinals. They play Washington in the championship game on Saturday.

The biggest indicator of the Hawks’ turnaround season is what they did against Franklin Pierce. In their first meeting with Franklin Pierce, the still-in-a-funk Hawks lost 72-71. The next time a revamped and rolling River Ridge blasted Franklin Pierce 73-35.

river ridge basketball

The Hawks helped turn their season around with a hustling defense.

Barbee’s magic worked. He said those losses were lessons learned, helping his team get better.

“We went through some growing pains early,” Barbee said. “That was crucial. I think that put us in a good spot now.”

Coming into the season, Barbee had reasons to be optimistic. Four of his five starters returned off a team that lost in the regionals. The only starter not returning was Austin Curry, the sharp-shooting guard who transferred to Timberline. Still, Barbee thought the parts were in place for a good season.

After all Kobe Key was back at point guard, giving the Hawks experience at a key position. He’s not just a passer, but he’s also a scorer. The junior guard is third on the team in scoring with 9.4 average.

“He’s a good leader,” Barbee said. “To go far, you have to have a good point guard and he’s a good one. The key for us and the key for him is keeping him out of foul trouble.”

Key, who plays a lot of minutes and is aggressive, has fouled out of a couple of games. In the playoff win against Lindbergh, Key fouled out in the closing.

river ridge basketball

After a 5-4 start to the season, River Ridge got hot and won the league title.

“It was a good opportunity for other kids to step up,” Barbee said, putting a positive light on a negative moment.

Key, as the starting quarterback on the football team, is used to being a leader. As a team captain, he sees his role as being a rah-rah, get-it-going guy.

“My role is to just keep guys up,” Key said. “Keep guys focused – and just play hard.”

Murphy grew up quickly as he stepped into his new role as a starter.

“He got an opportunity and he made the most of it,” Barbee said.

But it wasn’t just the points Murphy scored that convinced Barbee to keep him in the starting lineup. It was his intensity on defense, the floor burns on his knees.

“The other thing about him is he plays hard on both ends,” Barbee said. “He doesn’t just come in and shoot. He’s going to go to the floor for the loose ball. He’s going to take the charge. He’s going to do all the little things to keep him in the game.”

river ridge basketball

River Ridge’s defense continues to be trouble for opponents.

Murphy isn’t enamored with his starter’s job. He’s driven by something other than his own stats and status.

“The only thing that matters is winning the game,” Murphy said. “I’m a starter now. But if I didn’t start and I got zero minutes and we won I’d be just as happy if I started and got 32 points.”

Key is one of eight players on the basketball team who also played football. At a time when coaches are often upping the ante and asking their players to commit to one sport and play it year around, Barbee encourages his players to play other sports. It’s all about having a good high school experience.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Barbee said. “Some of my closest friends are from relationships I formed in sports.”

Nisqually Reach Nature Center Wins Environmental Awards

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 7:12am



Submitted by Nisqually Reach Nature Center

nisqually reach

Students find ribbon worm at Luhr Beach during a Nisqually Reach Nature Center summer camp.

The Nisqually Reach Nature Center (NRNC), located in Olympia, Washington, received two awards that were announced Wednesday at the annual meeting in Richmond, BC, of the Washington-British Columbia chapter of the American Fisheries Society. NRNC was recognized as both Conservation Organization of the Year and Volunteer Organization of the Year by the Society chapter.

Conservation Organization of the Year is awarded annually to “an organization that has significantly contributed to a program or activity for conservation of fishery resources or habitats.” NRNC’s mission is to promote the understanding and preservation of the Nisqually estuarine ecosystem through education and research.

The Society cited NRNC’s initiative in promoting the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve as part of the Aquatic Reserve program of the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Established by DNR in 2011, the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve encompasses nearly 15,000 acres of DNR-owned aquatic lands stretching from Tolmie State Park to the eastern edge of McNeil Island, east to Steilacoom and south to the Nisqually delta. Working with DNR, NRNC Executive Director Daniel Hull brought together stakeholders including representatives of commercial interests, Pierce and Thurston County communities, and Tribes to develop a management plan for the new Reserve.

NRNC oversees two Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committees—one at NRNC’s facility at Luhr Beach and the other on Anderson Island–that have undertaken citizen science research projects, kept track of proposed regulations that might impact the Reserve, and monitored activities within the Reserve. Two projects relevant to the American Fisheries Society are the Forage Fish Spawning Survey and the Pigeon Guillemot Breeding Survey. These surveys will provide data to help in assessing the status of forage fish in south Puget Sound. Small fish such as sculpin comprise a major portion of the diet of seabirds such as Pigeon Guillemots.

As Volunteer Organization of the Year, NRNC was recognized as a nonprofit that inspires many dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who promote the importance of protecting the pristine habitat of the Nisqually delta. Volunteers staff the Center, serve as counselors at summer science camps, carry out citizen science research projects, and educate visitors at many community outreach events in Pierce and Thurston Counties.

Saltwater aquariums at the visitor center display marine creatures including sea cucumbers, Dungeness and other crabs, gunnels, forage fish, ghost shrimp, and sea stars. Since NRNC was established more than 30 years ago, volunteers have been instrumental in providing information and opportunities for community members to experience the beauty of the Nisqually estuary.

“We are pleased and honored to receive these awards,” said Jim Cubbage, President of NRNC’s Board of Directors. “The awards will inspire us to work even harder to bring our message of environmental stewardship to South Sound communities.”

Restaurants, Vendors, Swappers Invited to Port of Olympia’s BoatSwap and Chowder Challenge

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 7:03am



Submitted by Port of Olympia

Just in time for boating season, the Port of Olympia BoatSwap & Chowder Challenge returns on Saturday, June 20, 2015, from 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Swantown Marina. The Port invites sign-ups from restaurants and marine-related businesses interested in participating, as well as event sponsors. To be featured on the event poster, participants must sign up by April 1st.

At the 2014 event, 11 South Sound restaurants competed in the chowder cook-off and 1,800 people tasted their unique recipes. Event goers can sample all the chowders and vote for their favorites.

The BoatSwap offers the community an opportunity to buy and sell new and used boats, marine gear and accessories. Both commercial and private vendors are invited to exhibit and sell their wares.

Businesses are also invited to participate with the Port in sponsoring this popular community event.

To sign up and learn details about event sponsorships, restaurant participation, vendor exhibit rates and other inquiries, call the Port at 360.528.8005 or email

Participants shop or browse the boats and marine displays, watch and taste at the chowder pots, and enjoy music and family entertainment along the waterfront.

Swantown Marina is located on the East Bay of Budd Inlet at 1022 Marine Drive NE, Olympia, 98501.

Note: This Port festival for the community was on hiatus for several years due to construction in the vicinity which limited parking. Previously, the festival was known as the Swantown BoatSwap & Chowder Challenge and attracted 4,000 to 5,000 participants. The Port re-introduced the event in May 2013 as the Port of Olympia BoatSwap & Chowder Challenge.

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 6:00am



I spent a few years in my early 20s in New England.  I only lasted a couple of winters before I was begging my husband to move at least west of the Mississippi River.  As we relish in the sun and mild temperatures earlier this week, I can’t help but feel compassion for my friends trudging through snow on the East Coast (week after week).  I wish I could wave a magic wand and have Mother Nature even out some of this wacky winter weather.  But for now, I think that I’ll be happy that I’m wearing a light rain jacket rather than a parka.

Here’s what’s going on around Olympia this weekend.

  • Catch a production of the Olympia School District Players “Magical Moments” musical.  Showtimes can be found here.
  • Sign-up your middle school aged daughter for the Expanding Your Horizons STEM Conference.  Get details here.
  • Celebrate Lunar New Year by shopping at a local Asian market for all your meal supplies.
  • Dig razor clams throughout the weekend.  I even hear that some diggers have been pulling up clams bare-handed.  Tide information can be found here.
  • Find live theater at Harlequin Productions, Olympia Family Theater, and Olympia Little Theatre throughout the weekend.
  • Take your jewelry to be appraised at The Gift Gallery on Saturday.  Event details are here.
  • Celebrate the statewide Beer Open House event on Saturday at Top Rung Brewing from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Find out about their pale ale that they are releasing during the event here.
  • Check out the Studio West Dance Academy’s annual charity fundraiser, “Dance to Make a Difference,” on Saturday evening at the Minnaert Center.  Tickets can be purchased here.  Proceeds benefit SafePlace.
  • Listen to Clint Black at The Washington Center on Saturday evening.  Ticket information can be found here.
  • Make a night of it by including an overnight stay at the Red Lion with your tickets.  Package deals can be found here.
  • Laugh to stand-up comics at the Capitol Theater on Saturday night.  Get details here.
  • Participate in the ROAD-odend-RUN at Capitol Lake on Sunday morning – 2 runners x 1.5 miles x 2 legs each = 6 miles.  Find more local 5k races here.
  • Visit Cafe Love on Sunday afternoon for a “playshop” to hone your poetry skills.
  • Watch a silent film at The Washington Center on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by live music on the 1924 organ.  More details can be found here.
  • Learn how Thomas Mani can bring bees to your backyard this summer.
  • Support a local business as it transitions its operations.  Centro’s liquidation sale is happening now.  Details can be found here.
  • Find out what people think of the plastic bag ban.  The report was issued on February 19 by Thurston Solid Waste.  A summary can be read here.
  • Visit an open house event this weekend. Click here to see the list of Van Dorm Realty’s open houses.

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.

Anchor Bank: The Community Bank of Choice for Local Small Business

Thurston Talk - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 6:00am



By Lisa Herrick

anchor bank lacey

Gary Koch, Executive Vice President Chief Lending Officer for Anchor Bank, builds relationships with local business owners.

Community banks are akin to small business. Essentially Anchor Bank, a local community bank, is a small business itself. Anchor Bank innately understands the challenges of launching, growing and diversifying a small business and has the money to lend professional businesses to help them succeed. Anchor Bank has been vital in building a more sustainable local economy by putting the deposits back into our community through loans to residents and small businesses.

“As local community business bankers, we have the advantage of personally getting to know our clients and their local business needs,” Gary Koch, Executive Vice President, Chief Lending Officer at Anchor Bank explains. “We meet with them face to face to build a relationship and identify their banking needs. We can offer valuable insight and advice to our clients’ small business requirements because we expertly understand the local community, business industry and community banking. We make community lending decisions in and for the community.”

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Gary grew up in Salem, Oregon and graduated from his hometown college at Willamette University. He was immediately recruited by Wells Fargo in Alaska where he gained the foundation of his banking expertise. He dedicated 26 years of his banking career in Alaska ultimately becoming in charge of 19 branches of a retail enterprise before moving back to the contiguous states.

Gary shares, “Having worked for the big box banks, I have the advantage of knowing the difference between that type of lending and Anchor Bank’s approach as a community based savings bank. We make local credit decisions by local people. We are involved in the community as residents, families, volunteers and banking professionals. We have a better understanding of what is going on in the local marketplace. We take a consultative approach with our clients. We sit down together and determine what they are trying to accomplish in their business. We identify their needs and how we can help them solve those needs.”

anchor bank lacey

The Anchor Bank team is out in the community, helping non-profits.

Anchor Bank has a talented and highly experienced business banking team focused on providing financial options to new clients as well as assisting existing clients with their business expansion needs. In reflection of recent ways in which Anchor Bank has helped clients, Gary describes, “We were able to help one of our clients, a local dentist, expand his practice to add two rental properties on Martin Way. Anchor Bank provided term financing for the practice as well as the construction financing for the two adjacent rental properties. Also recently, we provided refinancing for a strip mall on Martin Way as well. Anchor Bank has financed numerous multi-family residential construction projects throughout Thurston County recently. These are just some of the types of projects we can help out with.”

Anchor Bank has been serving local communities in Grays Harbor, Thurston, Mason, Pierce and Lewis counties for more than a century. Started in 1907 as a traditional savings and loan bank, Anchor Bank originally focused on savings accounts and mortgages for its borrowers back when savings and loan institutions were prohibited from offering checking accounts. As banking regulations have changed and Anchor Bank restructured as a publicly owned entity with its customers as shareholders, it currently operates eleven branches in five counties offering a variety of financial institution products and services.

anchor bank lacey

Habitat for Humanity is one of the local non-profits that is supported by Anchor Bank.

As a community bank, Anchor Bank strongly believes in making the community in which they serve a better place to live. As an organization as well as individually, Anchor Bank staff are involved in a variety of charitable organizations including Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce, Math for Life and South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity.

To learn more about Anchor Bank’s business banking services or to reach Gary Koch, click here.

Anchor Bank-Lacey Branch

601 Woodland Square Loop SE

Lacey, WA 98503

Ruby Fray “Photograph”

K Records - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:56am
This song burrows under the skin in the sweetest way. K Song of the Day: Ruby Fray “Photograph” form the Grackle [KLP251] album. Recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, Washington, Grackle is Ruby Fray‘s second album following their debut outing Pith [KLP239]. The Ruby Fray album Grackle [KLP251] is available now from the K […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Building the Future: Collections at Evergreen

South Sound Arts - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 3:56pm

Entry to collection, prints by Rick Bartow. Photo courtesy The Evergreen State College
Building the Future: Collections at Evergreen" highlights not only works of art from the art gallery collection at The Evergreen State College but also collections from the Malcolm Stilson Archives and Special Collections, the Chicano/Latino Archive, the James F. Holly Rare Books Collection, the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center and Evergreen Pictures.

In the space allowed for this column I cannot begin to describe all that is in this exhibition. There are books authored by Evergreen faculty and students/alumni; and prints and photographs from famous artists such as Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus. There are crafts from Northwest Native Americans.

As you enter the gallery you see woodcarvings and masks by Native artists and two wonderful lithographs by Rick Bartow, a Native artist well known in the area whose art skillfully combines contemporary and traditional forms of expression. Along the right wall are photographs depicting the history of the college from the Evans Library collection, and facing back toward the entrance is the "Chained Library," a display of books connected by chains and written by TESC alumni. There are two short films on a continuous loop: "House of Welcome" produced and directed by Sandy Osawa and Yasu Osawa, and "Mary Hillaire: A Lasting Vision" by Barbara Smith and the late Marge Brown, former faculty member. Hillaire founded the Native American Studies Program at Evergreen.

Polaroid photot of Keith Haring and Juan Dubois, 1983. Gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Andy Warhol: Keith Haring and Juan Dubose 1983.Along the back wall is a richly colored and glowing line of fabric wall tiles from Liz Whitney Quisgard's "Wall Hanging Series." It is a series of 10 squares lined up to fill an entire wall with overlapping geometric patterns in burning tones of red, orange, purple and yellow. It is quite beautiful and deceptively simple; i.e., much more complex than it looks at first.

Another wall is filled with photographs, mostly black and white, and prints by a variety of artists. Among these is a strong portrait of Helmi Juvonen by the great local photographer Mary Randlett. There is a lovely photo by Judy Dater of a woman, "Twinka," in a see-through dress in a wooded setting with deep, dark eyes and a fierce expression. There are two famous photos by Edward Weston, "Nude" and "Bell Pepper." Both the food and the woman become strong abstract sculptures due to Weston's lighting and camera angle. Surely everyone will recognize Andy Warhol's color portrait of Keith Haring, but how many will recognize his lover, Juan Dubose? They are pictured along with Miquel Bose, the jokey Willie Shoemaker, and Bracka Weintraub. These four Polaroid portraits by Warhol are mounted in a single frame. On a stand nearby is a book of 50 photos by Warhol donated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts including portraits of many of his friends - some celebrities and some unknown.

Also showing is Diane Arbus's famous and haunting image of a boy with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, and finally an iconographic lithograph by the great Jacob Lawrence, "Builders: Man on a Scaffold."
This is a show worth seeing. The only thing missing is work by past and present faculty members and students such as Marilyn Frasca, Joe Fedderson, Matt Groening and Lynda Barry, just to name a few. Maybe those can comprise a follow-up show.

"BUILDING THE FUTURE: COLLECTIONS AT EVERGREEN,"10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, through March 4, The Evergreen State College Gallery, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Library 1st floor, Olympia, 360.867.5125

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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