Recent local blog posts

Take the Plastic Bag Survey by January 10

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 2:07pm



Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste

Thurston County Solid Waste is seeking input on the bag ordinances that took effect July 1 in the cities of Tumwater, Olympia and Lacey, and the unincorporated areas of Thurston County.

“It’s been a bit over four months since the start date, and it’s important that we check in with customers and retailers to get a good picture of how it’s working so far,” said Terri Thomas, Education and Outreach Specialist for the county’s Solid Waste Division.

The new law prohibits most retailers from providing single-use plastic carryout bags. It also requires them to charge a minimum of five cents for large paper bags, which the stores keep. The fee helps offset the higher cost of paper bags and acts as an incentive for customers to bring reusable bags. Customers using EBT and other assistance programs are exempt from the charge.

Complying with the new ordinances required some adjustments for both retailers and their customers. Thurston County Solid Waste staff is eager to get feedback on their experiences now that the plastic bag bans have been in place for more than four months. The information from the surveys will be included in a status report on the ordinances that’s due in early 2015.

The two online surveys—one for retailers and one for customers—are available at Retailers can also download signs from the website to post in their stores to encourage customers to take the survey. Those signs and more information are available by clicking on the “Resources for retailers” link. You can also sign up for the Solid Waste Division’s newsletters to be notified when the status report on the plastic bag ordinances is released. Just click on the envelope icon on the right side of the web page to sign up.

For more information about the plastic bag ban ordinances or the customer and retailer surveys, contact Terri Thomas at  or (360) 867-2279.


Tumwater’s Volleyball Team Winning with Teamwork Heading into State

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 7:08am



By Gail Wood

dairy queenAs an eternal optimist, Tana Otton isn’t surprised Tumwater made it to the state volleyball tournament for a third straight year.

It’s just how they got there that surprises the Thunderbird coach. With just two returning starters, a freshman starting and leading the T-Birds in nearly every stat, and a blocker moved to setter, Tumwater goes into the 2A state tournament ranked number one in the state.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me, but no matter what we have coming back, I always feel we have a shot,” said Otton, who is in her 11th season as Tumwater’s head coach. “We’ve had a rollercoaster ride and I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”

tumwater volleyball

Tumwater High School volleyball coach Tana Otton serves to begin a rally in practice.

At district, the T-birds were both cold (they lost the first game to both Woodland and Richfield) and red hot (they won three straight games against those two teams and cruised to the district title). At 21-5 overall (only losses are to bigger schools like Oly), 6-0 in the Evergreen Conference and undefeated at district, Tumwater has been a learn-and-grow team.

Leading the way has been MacKenzie Bowen, the league MVP. Whatever role Bowen is asked to play, either as a setter (the position she’s now playing) or middle hitter, she does so without complaint.

“What makes her the MVP of our team and the MVP of our league is that she is the most phenomenal leader,” Otton said. “She is selfless and she’s a hard worker. Her stats might not show that she’s an MVP, but you just watch her and you know.”

No matter if Bowen is on or off her game, she never loses sight of her leadership role.

“She always treats her team so positive and she’s always encouraging,” Otton said. “She never gets down on teammates. Sometimes it’s not physically that we’re leaning on her, but we’re definitely leaning on her as a leader.”

tumwater volleyball

Tumwater srimmages in preparation for the 2A state tournament.

Bowen, unlike her coach, came into the season cautiously optimistic, hoping for the best. As a third-year starter, she knows what it takes to win. As a sophomore, Bowen played on a Tumwater team that placed second in state and last year that finished sixth.

“I came in hoping for a good season, but it turned out better than I could have ever thought,” Bowen said.

Bowen switched to setter this season and has adjusted to the new position. But, she had a head start on the change.

“It’s not the hardest thing since I’ve been doing it for club,” Bowen said about the change in her position. “It gets me excited when I give them a good set to put away. I always feel I can get better. You’re never going to be perfect.”

In addition to Bowen, Tumwater’s Sarah Warner was first-team all-league. Madisen Bourgois and Anela Carins made second-team all-league. Bourgois and Carins have been the Thunderbird’s big hitters at middle blocker.

tumwater volleyball

Tumwater’s volleyball team has advanced to the state tournament for the third straight year.

“They’ve been really steady all season,” Otton said. “I’m expecting some big things from them this tournament.”

Tumwater’s fab frosh is Kennedy Croft, Otton’s daughter, who was also first-team all-league. Wearing two hats – being mom and coach – hasn’t been easy for Otton. Not at first.

“We battled early,” Otton said. “It was a real adjustment and about mid-season we figured it out. She has grown up and matured more than I ever expected.”

Statistically, Croft, despite being only a freshman, leads Tumwater in nearly every category. She’s the team’s go-to-player when they need a rally-ending spike or a rally-saving lob.

“We do have our battles, but I’m super proud of and how she’s handled things,” Otton said. “There are times were we lean on her as a freshman, which is kind of unique.”

Otton’s father, Sid Otton, Tumwater’s football coach since 1974, had to face the same challenges when he coached his two sons, Tim and Brad, in football.

“He did face the same thing,” Otton said, then adding with a chuckle, “But this teenage girl thing – I don’t know if he had to deal with that.”

tumwater volleyball

Tumwater goes into the 2A state tournament ranked No. 1 in state.

Tumwater, which opens the state tournament against Steilacoom at 11:45 a.m. Friday at Pierce College, has won with a near perfect serve and volley attack. In a four-game win against Richfield at district, Tumwater served at 97 percent with 17 aces and just two service errors.

“I’ve never seen us so dialed in on serve and serve receive like I did this weekend,” Otton said. “Our hitting percentage wasn’t that great. But we were on with serving and serve receive. When you do that, you’re going to be on your game.”

The strength to Tumwater’s run to the state tournament has been unity.

“I’d say our strength is how close we are,” said Warner, an outside hitter. “There’s been no drama on our team, which can really affect how we play on the court. We’re really supportive of each other. That’s helped a lot.”

Tumwater’s closeness got tested at the district tournament. Just before the tournament started, two players were suspended from the team for breaking team codes. That meant a last-minute lineup adjustment, with players having to take on new roles. And Tumwater pulled together and pulled through.

“One of the strengths that I’m finding in the post season is the versatility of the players,” Otton said. “We have a lot of players that can do a lot of things and they’ve been able to be shifted around and try different positions.

Change is never easy.

“One of the things my girls are super proud of and I’m proud of is that they really came together as a team this weekend,” Otton said.


Celebrate the Start of the Holiday Season at Ralph’s Thriftway

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 6:58am



olympia shopping

Shoppers of all ages enjoy the Holiday Open House.

“Holidays are about experiences and people, and tuning into what you feel like doing at that moment.  Enjoy not having to look at a watch.”  In this, Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussionist and composer, summed up November perfectly.

One way to revel in both—as well as specialty foods, prizes, discounts, and crafts—is at the Fall Festival Holiday Open House at Olympia’s Ralph’s Thriftway.  On November 15 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. come mingle, nosh, sip, create, shop, and discover seasonal inspiration at their 1908 East 4th location.

More than just cheese and crackers, the afternoon will offer holiday gift ideas, special event pricing on selected merchandise, 20% off your wine purchase, and 10% back on your ThrifteCard Wallet for houseware purchases during the celebration.  These extra Wallet savings can benefit our community through their 1% Community Rebate Program, which helps many local non-profits around our region.

Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway have a long tradition of helping their friends and neighbors.  Since opening more than 50 years ago, their goal is simple: “Because we are committed to this area, we believe that it is our privilege and responsibility to return profits to the local community in as many ways as possible.”  Whether it’s providing food to the hungry or supporting neighborhood pride through the Love Our Local Fest, they’re a longtime pillar of support, education, and unique culinary offerings.

olympia shopping

Vendors will be at Ralph’s Thriftway on Saturday with unique products from all over the region.

Marketing Manager Carly Brettmann is proud that this annual event is a huge hit with shoppers.  The once-a-year discounts on housewares, wine, and more make for a “great opportunity to get gift ideas for holiday events.”  Cooks and foodies alike stock up on coffee presses, decorative aprons, mugs, specialty kitchen prep tools, and all manner of gifts for themselves and others.

There will be a grand prize giveaway which takes the form of a ‘hotsheet’ map.  Guests receive a punch card to fill with stamps given out in every department.  Once complete, it becomes your prize entry ticket.  Around the store, vendors will also have booths of samples, goodies, and holiday inspiration.

Brettmann says this year’s event showcases more vendors than ever before.  They include Cyrus O’Leary Pies, Chuckanut Cheesecake, Boarshead Deli Meats and Cheeses, Kerrygold Stout Skellig, Waffle Bites, Le Roule – Garlic & Cranberry, Ila’s foods, Jaslico Chips, Mama Scott- BBQ Sauces, SasQrunch, OlyKraut, Filipino Phils, Ice Chips, Stonewall, DeMar’s Rooster Sauce, and Ryan’s Honeycrisp Cider.

While at Ralph’s, ask how to earn a free holiday ham, get your flu shot, or save money by simply being 55+.  The holidays are definitely better in full health and a few extra dollars in your pocket.

The start of the holiday season can be stressful.  Take this once a year opportunity to enjoy an event with no expectations.  You can wander, sample, make your list for Santa, or become someone’s favorite Secret Santa…all under one roof.  Just don’t forget to pick up milk and eggs on the way home, you’re almost out.


Thrifty Thurston Plays in the Rain with the Kids

Thurston Talk - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 6:47am



By Megan Conklin

volkswagenI grew up in a world with four seasons. A world where a person might look outside and say, with a note of surprise in her voice, “Hey, it’s raining outside!”

My children live in a very, very different world. Rain is a perpetual, sometimes relentless part of their lives. And, interestingly, in can be a very fun part as well. Turns out they don’t melt in the rain. In fact, they rather enjoy playing in it.  So, because staying indoors for nine months of the year is not an option, here are my family’s top five Thurston County spaces to play outdoors on one of our notorious, soggy days:

Watershed Park

park olympia

The tree canopy in Watershed Park makes for a relatively dry walk, even on the rainiest days.

Walking in Watershed Park on a rainy day under the dense canopy of trees is not unlike walking there on a fair day. The naturally provided protection from the drizzle makes Watershed one of our favorite rainy day walks. A one 150-acre park in the southeast part of Olympia, this lush forest has three pedestrian entrances and one parking entrance (located on Henderson Boulevard). The trail system is vast and sometimes tricky for the kids in certain areas of the park, but other entrances offer very flat and manageable paths – this is a park that definitely demands multiple visits to explore its various personalities.

Riding the Dash/Capitol Campus

Riding the bus is something of a novelty for my children. We don’t do it on a regular basis, and they don’t take the bus to school, so a bus ride feels like a special treat. I admit to hitting on this particular idea out of sheer desperation one day, but the gist of it is this: catch the free DASH shuttle anywhere along its route in downtown Olympia on a rainy day. Ride in warmth and comfort for as long as possible or until the kids start getting squirrely (I have yet to be kicked off). Hop off at the Capital Campus and walk in the rain for a bit, admiring the fall trees, holiday decorations, or spring flowers – depending on the season. Then, catch the bus when it circles round again. The DASH runs every 15 minutes so you will never have long to wait. An alternative to this scenario is to hop off the DASH downtown and grab a coffee or hot chocolate to warm up. If your small people are not loving the rain, you might visit Archibald Sisters and pick up a kid friendly umbrella – they have every adorable style imaginable, from ladybugs to sock monkeys.

Olympia Farmers Market

olympia parks

A sturdy park shelter makes the rain, rain go away.

This rainy day gem was born out of idea number two, riding the DASH. We all know how much fun the Olympia Farmers Market can be on warm, summer days. And it can be even better in the rain. As the final stop on the DASH’s downtown route, most of the farmers market is covered, and when they pull out those tall, patio heaters, it is even a little warm. Wandering around in the market on a rainy day, stopping to warm our hands at a heater, eating as many samples as we can get away with – these are good times. I like it even better when it is closed. Then, we can claim the entire, vacant, covered area as our own personal play space. My kids have been known to run around the empty stalls for long enough to ensure a proper afternoon nap.

Burfoot Park

The allure of Burfoot Park, located in the northeast corner of unincorporated Thurston County, on a rainy day lies in its many, large sheltered picnic areas. One is located very near the playground, and is great if adults want to stay dry while kiddos play. I once hosted a 4-year-old’s birthday party under this shelter, in late May, in the pouring down rain. We used the barbecue to make hot chocolate and warm-up food while the kids ran around screaming in the downpour, happy as could be. Burfoot also has other large sheltered areas located in the woods nearby, which offer respite from the rain while walking on forest paths or heading down to the beach.

Your local school’s play shed

park olympia

Grab a super cute, kid friendly umbrella from Archibald Sisters, and head out to play in the rain.

We all know that neighborhood school playgrounds often double as neighborhood parks. Most elementary schools – and some middle and high schools in our area – have outdoor, covered play areas. While this is a space that is only available on weekends, after school, or on school holidays, it still bears mentioning. Our nearby school play sheds have asphalt or concrete areas so we get the additional benefit of puddles. We try to remember our rain boots and usually end up stomping to our heart’s content while singing some Western Washington classics such as “Singing in the Rain,” and “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring.” Or, we bring along a basketball or a tennis ball for a quick game of “wall ball” and enjoy fresh air and exercise as a family, without getting drenched.

I still dream of four seasons from time to time. But, even as I lament my children’s lack of experience with snow (or sun for that matter), I also recognize that the beautiful, clean, green space that we call home would not be such without all the rain.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  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.

Low voter turnout and why aren't we celebrating Washington's 135th anniversary?

Olympia Time - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 6:42am
Two big surprises this week. Well, they aren't big surprises at all. Washington State turned 125. Also, voter turnout during this off year election in the second term of a Democratic president was really low in the same state.

These two things are actually connected in a very interesting way. The reason we're not celebrating the 135th anniversary of Washington is the same reason voter turnout is down to historic levels this year in Washington.

It was political division and apathy that kept Washington out of the union in the late 1870s, ten years before their successful 1889 effort.

Robert Fricken in Washington Territory:
Washington Territory was divided, rather than united, upon the question of statehood. Longtime, often bitter, points of contention remained paramount, setting westerners against easterners, Republicans against Democrats, and Portland influence against the challenge of Puget Sound.Fricken is the bomb, by the way. Everyone should read every one of his books.

Washington remained a state in uretero for so long, because it wasn't a single cogent state. As Fricken points out, the Puget Sound was an economic colony of San Francisco and Eastern Washington was controlled by the Willamette. Also, decades and decades of rule by the east compounded on themselves, and the political culture that would grow with the promise of self rule never flourished.

Voter participation also dropped off significantly from areas that supported statehood at the time (Puget Sound) to places where it wasn't supported (east of the mountains). In places where there was little engagement for the goal, voters overall failed to answer the question.

It wasn't until the 1880s when Washington's population went from 75,000 to over 300,000 did the question come up again. Also, because of a rail connection through Washington to the rest of the country, the territory was at last united.

That 1870s apathy towards statehood, driven by disunion and apathy, is the same sort of thing we face today.

While we lacked a railroad to throw off the shackles of Portland and San Francisco, today we shackle ourselves away from each other. Our redisticting process, at both the legislative and Congressional level, has shifted partisans into seperate districts. If we ask voters to vote in races that don't matter, they won't vote.

Jim Bruner in the Seattle Times back in 2012:

In an interview, Milem said the commission's priority of protecting incumbents was evident in the new maps, as incumbents of both parties got safer seats. Milem is correct on that point.

Just look U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's 8th Congressional District. Previously a suburban swing district, the 8th was redrawn by the commission to become solidly Republican. The new district lost its Bellevue and Mercer Island portions and now crosses the Cascades to pick up Wenatchee and Ellensburg. Similarly, the 2nd and 9th Districts were redrawn to be safer for their Democratic incumbents, Rick Larsen and Adam Smith.

"We've lost electoral competition in those districts as a result of the plan," said Milem.

That holds true for many state legislative districts too. Milem says partisan considerations trumped the goal of drawing logical district boundaries, leading to some strange contortions.

For example, Milem describes the shape of the 18th legislative district near Vancouver as "one arm short of a swastika."Sure, we're also sorting ourselves out in a larger sesnse. But, in the least, creating as interesting and compelling political boundaries in the first place would help.

Thurston Residents Urged to Stay Safe with First Cold Weather Blast

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 5:23pm



Submitted byThurston County Emergency Managment

Snow #7

Overnight temps at or below freezing expected through weekend

Thurston County Public Works road crews stand ready to respond to freezing conditions, but remind drivers that even anti-icing solution and sanding won’t clear every spot. Once temperatures dip below the mid-20s, anti-icing solution won’t stop moisture in the air or on the ground from freezing on the surface, and snow and freezing rain can begin to accumulate, even on treated roadways.

“Your best bet for avoiding the ice is to stay off the road if you can. But if you must drive, take it slow, increase your following distance, and make sure our county trucks and equipment can get through in your neighborhood,” said Lucy Mills, Road Operations Manager for the county’s Public Works Department.

To stay safe when driving in winter weather, keep an emergency kit in your car that includes bottled water and high energy, non-perishable food, an extra blanket, warm clothes, a battery-powered flashlight and extra batteries. You should also tell a friend or relative when you’re leaving, your destination, and when you expect to arrive.

For more information about the county’s winter road maintenance and how to contact the Public Works Department to report road hazards, go to and click on the “Emergency & Weather Info” link. Follow Thurston County Public Works on Twitter at @Thurston_PW.

Thurston County Emergency Management officials also remind residents to stay safe when winter cold sets in. Residents using space heaters should never leave them unattended while the heater is running, and never leave a space heater on while you or others in your home are sleeping. Residents are also reminded to never use barbeques, gas grills or camp stoves inside for extra heat. Burning charcoal, propane or natural gas lets off deadly carbon monoxide (CO) fumes, and if burned inside your house or apartment, the fumes can build up to deadly levels in just minutes.

For updated information about Thurston County’s emergency response and preparedness, go to

Stay connected with TCEM with social media on our Facebook page and on Twitter ( @ThurstonEM ).

Twitter: @ThurstonEM


Christmas Story Time

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 4:59pm
Event:  Mon, 12/08/2014 - 10:30am - 11:00am Ho! Ho! Ho! It's holiday story time at the Tumwater Timberland Library. Deck the halls with tales of Santa and his reindeer. Jingle on down to the library for stories, rhymes, songs, and a logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Holiday Concert with The Tumwater High School Noteables

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 4:58pm
Event:  Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:00pm - 12:30pm Bring your lunch to the Tumwater Timberland Library and enjoy a mini-concert of holiday music with Tumwater High School's premier vocal ensemble, "The Noteables," performing a capella music featuring a variety of traditional and jazz-infused holiday selections. Dessert and beverages will be logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Gnome for the Holidays

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 4:57pm
Event:  Sat, 12/06/2014 - 10:30am - 12:30pm Want a fun family crafting project for the holidays? Come to Tumwater Timberland Library on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day. Kamuela Klemmer of (re)Fabulous sewing studio will bring out everyone's hidden talent so they can create their own unique and impish holiday gnomes. St. Nicholas-inspired refreshments will be served. Registration is required (starting November 21) at the information desk or by calling 943-7790. Children between ages 5-12 must attend with an logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Local History Lunch: Remembering Medicine Creek

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 4:55pm
Event:  Wed, 12/03/2014 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm Bring your lunch to an engaging presentation at the Tumwater Timberland Library by local historian and author Drew Crooks about the Treaty of Medicine Creek, which forever changed the lives of Native Americans and American settlers in South Puget Sound. Dessert and coffee will be provided by the Friends of the Tumwater logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Yogoman Burning Band, Drew Tabor and Anna Gordon

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 4:00pm

YOGOMAN BURNING BAND … Bellingham’s version of Jamaican dance riddims, 1045pm

DREW TABOR … Los Angeles based solo acoustic, 945pm

ANNA GORDON … Olympia acoustic folk, 9pm

Facebook Invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Free Two-Part Naturescaping for Water & Wildlife Class

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 2:07pm
Event:  Thu, 11/20/2014 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Interested in sustainable landscaping practices that can result in reduced maintenance chores, including watering and mowing, while also attracting birds and butterflies? Join Stream Team and WSU’s Native Plant Salvage Project for their popular "Naturescaping" workshop on Thursday, November 20  from 6-9 p.m. at Tumwater Fire Hall adjacent to city hall.In part 1, you'll get the overview you need to put together a draft landscape plan. If you participate in the optional part 2, you'll return on March 5 from 6-9 p.m. to have your personal draft plan reviewed by experts.

The class is free, but you must register to participate. Go to and click on “calendar.” For more information contact WSU Native Plant Salvage Project at or 360-867-2167. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Every Kid a “Maker” at Timberland Regional Library

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 8:09am



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library

Fifteen sets of LEGO® bricks – 10,000 in each set – has kids going creative.

Fifteen sets of LEGO® bricks – 10,000 in each set – has kids going creative.

Hats off to the partnership between LEGO Systems and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) that has resulted in Timberland Regional Library’s acquisition of 150,000 pieces of fun. In Timberland libraries, children are visualizing, designing and building.

Here is the back story:

On June 18, 2014 the White House hosted the first-ever Maker Faire, proclaiming the day a National Day of Making. As part of the event, LEGO Systems and ALSC announced the Junior Maker Program and as part of that program, committed to hundreds of U.S. libraries that the company would set-up and host library junior maker spaces. Each library received fifteen toolkits – each kit holding 10,000 LEGO® bricks – along with support and educational material.


Here are a few early reports from library staff members about how the program is going:

From Centralia: “Centralia had its first ever Construction Night on Monday. We designed it as a drop-in program from 4:30 – 6:30 and we had 60 enthusiastic people show up!”

From Olympia: “I love the creative energy in the room. I was so impressed with how well the kids worked together and how much they enjoyed sharing their creations with other kids. I was happy to see a lot of girls in the room, too!”

From Shelton:It’s so much fun just seeing how excited the kids get describing their creations!”

From Tumwater: “Our attendance has been very good … from 15-45 people. Kids can either “free build” or take the daily challenge. After they are done building, we put their creation on display along with a card [with the maker’s] first name on it. One of the things I especially love about LEGO programs is how excited the kids get describing and explaining what they’ve made.”

Timberland’s Youth Services Coordinator Ellen Duffy served as liaison with the Junior Maker Program, making sure all conditions were met to qualify for the award. When the 15 large boxes arrived at the Timberland Service Center, she was the first to tear open a box. Just before lunch, an invitation went out to all employees at the service center to bring their lunches to the large conference room. There she had set out LEGO sets for some impromptu creativity. Soon, every table was filled and projects blossomed.

“Apparently,” Duffy reflected, “no one is too old, or too busy to become a maker, even if only for a lunch hour.”


Gyro Spot Expands Mediterranean Fresh, Fast Food in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 8:07am



By Holly Smith Peterson

heritage bankWhat you want for lunch when you’re working is something fast, fresh and tasty.  You often want something healthy and different or to find that special go-to spot with choices for days that are sunny or sleet-filled, and for midday breaks that are either lingering or lightning-fast.

That’s the niche that Gyro Spot owner Kenny Trobman found seven years ago when he tested the short version of his Mediterranean restaurant idea via a late-night mobile gyro stand across from the Brotherhood Lounge in downtown Olympia. The test went so well that he opened a second tented gyro site on Friday and Saturday nights at the corner of Court and Adams streets. By 2011, he had a third stand on the city’s west side, as well as a loyal following.

gyro spot olympia

Warm, homemade pitas and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients make the tasty difference between the homemade gyros at Trobman’s two Olympia restaurants.

Based on the success of his mobile food stands, in June 2011, Trobman opened his first brick-and-mortar site at 317 4th Avenue East.

“The mobile sites really helped develop the following with my food,” Trobman said. “I was successful right off the bat.”

But the Gyro Spot wasn’t Trobman’s first time at the restaurant rodeo. From 2002 through 2009 he ran the Clubside Cafe, which like many dining venues went south at the onset of clientele belt-tightening due to the recession. After selling that business, he realized he needed to reinvent his strategy — and he knew that he still wanted to stick close to his love of cooking.

“People were feeling the pinch of the economy, and they didn’t want a $10 meal anymore,” he said. “They were looking for something more in the $5 to $6 range.”

That led to the idea for the mobile food stand. No one in Olympia was creating the Mediterranean-style cuisine on which Trobman had been raised and wound up often cooking for his family himself as a boy.

“I grew up in a Jewish home, eating a lot of Mediterranean dishes like shwarma, gyros and falafel, so my first idea was for the Shwarma Spot,” he explained. “But I found that more people knew what a gyro was then what shwarma is, so it made more sense to call it the Gyro Spot. There was no place to get a good gyro or Mediterranean food in the area. I wanted to add something to the mix, on the hot side; something different then what people are used to.”

What the Gyro Spot offers is truly unique to Olympia: a brief, healthy Mediterranean deli menu that’s tasty and quick. It’s also different than the typical sub-soup-sandwich or Asian lunch offerings that surround it.

gyro spot olympia

Customers enjoy fresh Mediterranean fare in bright surroundings at the downtown Olympia Gyro Spot, which also has a walk-up window.

What can you order? Besides meaty, flavorful gyros, everything from Spanish tapanade to Italian panzanella bread salad to falafel and hearty Greek avgolemeno lemon chicken orzo soup. You’ll also find a pick-and-pay selection of Mediterranean and Caesar salads and appetizers. Every ingredient is locally sourced from Puget Sound farms and small retailers, mostly in Thurston County, but also in Pierce County and no further than Seattle.

Since it opened three years ago, the Gyro Spot has become such a popular dining spot that Trobman recently opened a second location near the Capitol Campus. He’d been considering a site there for several years, one in particular that had caught his eye but had never been available until this year. Now that spot is also so busy that Trobman has a second sandwich line at the ready and is working out delivery services, possibly in time for the Legislative session at the turn of the new year.

“I’ve streamlined everything so we can we can make gyros and fresh orders in a short amount of time,” he said. “We want to get you in, give you your food, and get you out the door in five minutes. With the second line, we can do 150 sandwiches in an hour.”

olympia restaurant gyro

A worker at the downtown Olympia location slices lamb off the rotisserie.

Also on tap is the possibility of retail distribution of a selection of the Gyro Spot’s carry-out provisions, such as the portions of falafel, tabouli and panzanella.

“Right now I’m just focused on the new store,” Trobman said. “I’m working on getting the kinks out of that and being sure before taking a next step. But we are working on the delivery option, and 2015 is the goal for the retail.”

Pick up your gyro at the Gyro Spot (317 – 4th Ave E) or the Gyro Spot Express (913 Capitol Way).  Follow Trobman’s adventures via Facebook.


Tumwater Auto Spa Collects Coats for the Little Red Schoolhouse Project

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 8:00am



Submitted by Tumwater Auto Spa

coat drive little red schoolhouseWith temperatures dropping and wet weather sure to last through the winter, having a good, warm winter coat is a must.  But for many of our area’s children, this simple item is missing from their closet.  Imagine waiting for the bus or playing on the playground without a warm coat?  Tumwater Auto Spa wants to help and invites you to be part join with us to help area kids in need.

Tumwater Auto Spa will be holding a Coat Drive benefiting the Little Red Schoolhouse Project November 14-December 14, 2014.  New and gently used clean coats will be collected for LRSH to distribute to Thurston County students in need.  Simply visit us at Tumwater Auto Spa at 6040 Capitol Blvd SE and drop off your donations.


Bring at least one coat to Tumwater Auto Spa and receive a $2.00 discount on the wash of your choice.  Additional donations may be made during the Coat Drive with each donation of at least one coat resulting in a $2.00 discount.  A single donation of multiple coats results in a $2.00 discount.  May not be combined with any other discounts.

Learn more about what the Little Red Schoolhouse Project does for area kids and how you can help by clicking here.

For more information about Little Red Schoolhouse visit


So Much More Than Clay at the Olympia Center Ceramics Studio

Thurston Talk - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 6:00am



By Gale Hemmann

Tucked away on the second floor of the Olympia Center, the ceramics studio is a hidden gem: a warm, bustling space with a family-like atmosphere. On any given day you can find students working on projects, visiting with each other, and creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind ceramics pieces.

olympia ceramics classAt the head of the ceramics studio is JoAnn Gaither, a long-time ceramics teacher and the ceramics studio manager. Gaither’s ceramics classes, held through the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department (Olympia PARD), are one of the most popular classes offered. She has many repeat students who study with her for years, and it is clear in talking with them that she is so much more than a talented teacher: she is also a mentor, inspiration, and friend.

I recently stopped by Gaither’s ceramics class on a Saturday morning. Gaither graciously greeted me, pouring me a cup of hot coffee and inviting me to make myself at home. It was the last day of class and students worked in small groups and chatted as they finished up their projects. Two students worked at the sink, cleaning excess clay off their designs before putting them in the kiln for firing. Another student examined a series of beautiful, bright-blue bowls she had created during the 11-week course. Gaither moved among the students, talking warmly with them one-on-one and occasionally calling the group together to demonstrate a ceramics principle. Looking around the bustling studio, it was clear that students enjoyed the class and felt at home here.

olympia ceramics class

JoAnn Gaither leads students in a ceramics class at the Olympia Center.

The bright, warm studio is lined with every type of ceramics tool and glaze imaginable, and the walls and surfaces are covered with examples of student work: unique art pieces, dishes and ornaments in just about every color imaginable – cerulean blue, deep violet, and russet orange. It is truly a one-of-a-kind space.

Gaither invited me back on a second occasion, to sit down and talk in-depth about the ceramics program and its history. Gaither got involved with the Olympia Center Ceramics Studio in 1995, when she volunteered to help teach a ceramics class for seniors. She loved the work and officially became a staff member in January 1996. She has been teaching at the ceramics studio ever since and says she loves working there because “it’s like one big family.”

Her goal is to make the studio a welcoming place, where ordinary people of all experience levels can come in and learn to work with clay. She makes her classes all-inclusive; the clay, supplies and materials are all included in the class to make it practical for class-goers. Her beginning ceramics classes teach students the basic skills of both wheel-throwing and hand-building methods. She enjoys helping students explore the creative possibilities of clay and watching their artistic visions come to life. She believes every person is inherently creative, and her classes are all about encouraging artistic expression.

Ceramics article - Students workingGaither brings a rich experience in ceramics to her position as instructor. Originally from the East Coast, Gaither attended Pennsylvania State University, where she majored in philosophy. At the same time, she was developing a love of art and working with clay. She then took a ceramics class for two years, which kicked her love of ceramics into full gear. She studied ceramics at Green River Community College in Kent, where she was also a lab technician, which she says provided valuable experience in learning about the scientific properties of clay. She also studied ceramics at the University of Cincinnati, where she began to exhibit her work professionally. One of her works was included in the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City in 1983.

Gaither and her husband eventually settled in the Northwest, having fallen in love with the beauty of the area. She worked for the government before turning her attention to teaching ceramics full-time.

olympia ceramics class

JoAnn Gaither (standing) teaches in the Olympia Center Ceramics Studio along with Karen Wolstenholme.

I also got to talk with Karen Wolstenholme, Gaither’s assistant whom she refers to as her “right-hand person.” Wolstenholme has been involved with the ceramics studio since 1997. It is clear the two share a warm rapport, and Wolstenholme enjoys working at the ceramics studio as much as Gaither. Wolstenholme has found ceramics personally rewarding and loves giving her ceramics items as gifts. She notes that Gaither has been instrumental in turning the Olympia Center Ceramics Studio into the vibrant space it is now, and that Olympia is fortunate to have such a knowledgeable and skilled instructor (Gaither has even helped their Tacoma-based supplier develop a new type of clay).

Gaither and Wolstenholme co-teach a class together on a volunteer basis at Senior Services for South Sound. The class is so popular that the waiting list has literally been years long. This is a testament to Gaither’s caring, tuned-in approach to working with ceramics and interacting with her students. She also teaches four classes a year at the Olympia Center through Olympia PARD.

Gaither and Wolstenholme say Olympia PARD has been very supportive of the ceramics studio over the years, and their support has been instrumental in helping it grow.

Interested in learning more about ceramics classes? Visit the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department website for more information about upcoming class dates.


The Hipster Effect and other Models

Mojourner Truth - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 8:03pm
Image by Getty, Fair Use by This Guy's Nephew
A mathematician recently posted an article (available at arXiv as a pre-print, to be published in a refereed journal soon) called "The Hipster Effect: When anticonformists all look the same." I'm too slack to learn the math, which apparently helps explain why so many people who reject the mainstream still end up conforming, just to something else. It has to do with the delay between a mainstream trend existing and the non-conformists realizing it and rejecting it, and looks like this:

As an anthropologist, I have some non-mathematical ideas about how and why hipsters end up sharing so many traits. As a human, I tend reject simplifications of our behavior to mathematical functions. But Touboul is clear that his model is just a model, and not an explanation of culture or even something that can encompass all hipsters, so it's fine for what it is. Also, the fact that some image sprange to your mind when I said "hipster" proves that he does have a point. Facial hair, clunky black glasses,...

This guy read the Hipster Effect article before I did, and was already appearing in blogposts about it days ago.As if to prove Touboul's point, there has been a delay, and then a bunch of hipsters blogged about it (huh, blogging, it's so old-school, so they must be posting ironically) along with all the other non-conformists. I'm too late to be a hipster, having learned of the article in the Washington Post (online, at least, and not on some dead tree).

And yet, I exhibit signs of being a hipster. I'm in phase with them as far as clunky black glasses, facial hair, brewing ale with hops I grew, and so on. As I write, I am listening to the local, listener-supported, volunteer-powered community radio station called KAOS. I am in phase with a fair number of hipsters.

Partial View of an apparent Hipster, Courtesy of some Model
But is it because I react with similar intent and mathematics to the others? In some ways, no. Hipsters' oscillations are much more rapid than mine, and I was wearing this kind of glasses and growing a beard decades ago (and not in a "I did it before you did" hipster kind of way). I just hate to shave, and always wanted glasses that came from that era when all men wore the same kind of glasses. Like my uncle in the first photo. He was not a hipster, but he was an enigma, a guy who wore "normal" clothes, but to a degree (khaki pants and white oxford shirts for decades on end) that was decidedly atypical. He served in the military for a little while, got a job, and raised a family, a model citizen. But also one who was deeply subversive in some ways, whose thoughts boggled minds and defied models.

Were I in the data set being compared to Touboul's model today, I might well become empirical support for mathematical supposition. But I represent a much longer oscillation if I represent one at all, and the "why" of my seeming hipsterism may be a lot different than that of people who know enough about contemporary mainstream culture react against it.

Heddie Leone “Good Bad Girl”

K Records - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 10:54am
All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] strikes again! Heddie Leone of the Olympia hip hop crew Night Fox rides the beat derived from the Calvin Johnson song “I Am without”. It’s apartment living, urban outback, stockings and veil. Goodness. All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] is available now from the K Mail Order Dept. View other All Your […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Predators and Prey

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 10:41am
Bald Eagle adults in nest tree      Today my sister Nancy, our dad and I took a walk around the middle part of the Deschutes estuary.  This is one of our favorite places and we visit it often in fall and winter.  The walk allows for a great view of a Bald Eagle nest on the eastern shores of the estuary.  Today we lucked out and saw the pair of eagles in their nest tree, perched high in a Douglas fir overlooking the estuary.  Their white heads gleamed like brand new tennis balls in the late afternoon sun.  Just underneath the tree, in the waters of the estuary, floated a variety of overwintering ducks.  I remarked that it was a great place for an avian predator to sit and survey the dinner table below, checking out which ducks would make a tasty midday snack.  This reminded Nancy of an experience she had had.  
     A few days ago she was also at the lake, taking a leisurely walk.  Suddenly she noticed a crow flying in big swooping loops, screeching at top voice, with a flight pattern which seemed to be directed at one spot on top of a nearby cedar tree.  She  immediately stopped her walk and started scoping out that tree:  as an experienced nature watcher, she knew the crow was zeroed in on something that Nancy had not yet seen.  The crow was absolutely right:  here’s what it showed Nancy:
    This is an adult Bald Eagle and most likely one of the mated pair that we saw in their nest today.  At this time of year the young eagle fledglings that were hatched last April are moving into independent life, so this adult is back to its usual winter schedule, perching near the lake edge,  looking for any late salmon in the fish runs up the Deschutes, or going after one of the wintering ducks on the waters of the impounded river. Or when that fails, waiting for one of the local Peregrine Falcons to make a duck kill, then forcing the hunter to dropping its catch.  (This is a mode of hunting called kleptoparasitism.)  
     This eagle is directing a fierce look at the crows who are harassing it. It is clear to me that the eagle would loooooove to get its talons on the taunting crow, but though the crow is smaller it is also far more maneuverable: it can easily evade any eagle attack.  It’s like a Volkswagen beetle dodging a Boeing 727 : this is no contest.  Now if the crow is sick, slow or stupid, all bets are off.  If I were the crow in question, I’d be pretty damn careful:  the look in that eagle’s eye gives me the willies.

     But the crow is not being foolish.  It knows that Bald Eagles eat crow babies and like all crows, it is born knowing how to make life uncomfortable for such predators.  So there is method in this crow’s madness.
      Over thirty years of birdwatching, I have seen similar examples of birds who respond to and give warning of the presence of predators.  One of my favorite examples comes from this same lake.
     I’ve been watching winter ducks at this place for many years.  It often happens that I’ll be watching a beautiful pastoral scene of quiet ducks, nibbling away at vegetation, dabbling for food.  Then all off a sudden every single duck on the lake rises up in screeching cackling cacophony, beating wings high and fast for distant parts, running for their lives.  When I see that behavior I start looking for the predator.  Today we saw exactly this at the Deschutes estuary:  we were
enjoying a beautiful view of the ducks on the water when all of a sudden they got really restless and took off in panicked flapping flight.  We all started looking for a predator and bingo!  both of the Bald Eagles were had left their nest tree and were flying over the lake to hunt that snack.  And the ducks knew it.
American Widgeons in flight    One another occasion I was leading a field trip for a class of beginning birdwatchers.  We went to our friend Sherry’s house, where she had a fabulous feeding station set up on the edge of wetlands and woods.  We parked our butts on some lawn chairs and watched the activity:  we saw the usual winter guild of black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadees, red breasted nuthatches, songs sparrows, juncos and etc.  The chickadees were especially active, darting in and out of the tube feeder, grabbing a sunflower seed and taking it off to a private cache.  I was in teacher mode, identifying each bird and describing field marks.  Suddenly,  all the chickadees stopped what they were doing, rushed en masse into a nearby thick shrub and started making LOUD alarm calls.  This was clearly a teachable moment:  I told the students to start looking for some sort of predator, probably a sharp-shinned hawk.  And sure enough, lurking in the woods off to one side, we finally saw the sharp-shinned hawk.  But the chickadees had seen it long before we did and took steps to save their lives.
     Then there was the time I was out at Cape Lookout on the Oregon coast.  The Cape has tall cliffs in which gulls nest as a group during spring.  Bald Eagles are infamous for raiding these colonies and making off with shrieking gull chicks.  Not surprisingly, gulls hate eagles.  During one April visit to the Cape, I watched an immature Bald Eagle.  It had been perched low on the cliff and was attempting to take off in windy conditions.  As a novice bird it was struggling in the wind and some nearby gulls noticed this.  They grouped up and mobbed the eagle, striking repeatedly at it and doing their best to drive it into the sea, where it would most likely drown.  I watched for about ten minutes as  they very nearly pulled it off.  The young eagle came perilously close to the high surf crashing against the cliffs before it managed to pull itself up and away to safety.         We have no personal pictures of this but here is a link to a fabulous photo/story from Europe, where White tailed Eagles prey on Herring gull colonies:
     There are all kinds of ways to be a birdwatcher.  One of my favorite ways is to watch behavior and in doing so, allow the animals to show you their lives and their concerns.  Today at the Deschutes estuary, we got an eyeful .
Resources:  all photos by Nancy Partlow

Categories: Local Environment

LBA Woods Needs You Bad

Maria Mudd Ruth - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 10:36am

Important Olympia City Council Meeting:  November 18  City Hall, 7:00 pm
Sign in to speak by 6:45; wear LBA t-shirt or blue, LBA signs will be available to hold)

Council Members may soon be making decisions on which parcels to target for park acquisition as a result of the Community Parks Site Suitability Study to be released on November 18.  

We are asking all LBA Woods supporters to come to the 7:00 pm November 18, City Council meeting to show the community’s support and, if willing, speak to Council during open mic. The limit is 3 minutes, but you can make your point in much less time. While eloquence is great, it takes more time than you’d think to craft a 3-minute comment. Why not consider making your point succinctly in 30 seconds? Here are some ideas for short, punchy talking points (and some background).

If you are a walker or hiker: Describe a particular experience you had walking through these woods. Remind the City that if it does not acquire LBA Woods, it will have no additional accessible high quality open space for trails and habitat to meet the demand of the 25,000 new residents that the City is projected to gain in the next 25 years.

If you are a nature lover: Describe your experience visiting LBA Woods and why it was different from your experiences in other City Parks. Recent medical studies show that larger forest tracts provide special health benefits to users, including immune system boost, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, accelerated recovery from surgery or illness, increased energy level and work enthusiasm, improved sleep. Forest health benefits.

If you prefer easy-grade walking paths (e.g. not Watershed, not Priest Point): LBA Woods offers  4+ miles of wide trails and footpaths that are gently graded are suitable for people needed or preferring such trails. Tell the City Council that easy-grade nature trails are important to you and will help make Olympia a livable city in the future.

If you are a runner: Please let the City Council know how important it is to have 4+ miles of trail for your personal or team training and how valuable it is to have those trails accessible by sidewalks from your school, neighborhood, or home. Describe why trails you may have run in other Olympia Parks are less suitable.

If you are a birdwatcher: LBA Woods currently provides important habitat to at least 58 bird species; that habitat supports the birds seen it backyards and at feeders for miles around. Mention some of your favorite birds: Here’s the full LBA birdlist,

In September, National Audubon Society’s scientists published a report on Birds and Climate Change. The report lists 314 birds likely to be seriously impacted by changing climate in the United States. Of those 314 birds, 21 occur in LBA Woods. LBA Woods is a refuge for these species and will become increasingly important to them in the future. Here are those twenty-one birds:

Rufous Hummingbird
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Hairy Woodpecker
Willow Flycatcher
Pacific Slope Flycatcher
Hutton's Vireo
Tree Swallow
Violet Green Swallow
Common Raven
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Varied Thrush
Wilson's Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Black-headed Grosbeak
Purple Finch
House Finch
Pine Siskin
Evening Grosbeak

Band-tailed Pigeon


If you wonder where your tax money is going: In 2004, Olympia voters passed a 2% utility tax that made Open Space, Natural Areas, and Wildlife Habitat a priority Need.  This Voted Utility Tax (VUT) appears on your monthly PSE bill as part of “Effect of Olympia City Tax.” This tax was levied to help the City acquire over 500 acres for parks by 2024.  So far the City has only acquired 63 acres and spent over $7 million of the $20 million collected on non-acquisition related purposes. Voted Utility Tax Info

 The City has sufficient funds from the 2% voted utility tax to purchase the 72 acre Bentridge parcel now, which is currently on the market for a favorable price of $6.5 million.   Alternatively, depending on price, they could buy the Trillium parcel (the second parcel comprising LBA Woods). The City needs to honor its promise to use the money to acquire Open Space before it is lost.   If you voted for the 2004 VUT, tell the Council.  Look at your latest PSE bill—you are not getting what you’re paying for!

If you are concerned about ecosystem health: The 150 acres of woods surrounding LBA Park are the last large forested area within Olympia and its UGA that is not already a park. The City Council needs to protect these woods to help provide the City with clear air, clean water, flood protection, biodiversity, erosion control, nutrient cycling, natural pollination, Thurston Regional Planning Council predicts Olympia will add over 25,000 residents and Thurston County over 120,000 by 2035.  Even assuming growth rates will slow after 2035, Olympia and Thurston’s population will double in about 50 years.  Population data

If you signed the petition:  Remind City Council that you are one of the 5,200 people who have signed the petition asking the Olympia City Council to purchase the woods for a park. Thousands of people from all over the city and Thurston County have signed the petition showing they support LBA Woods as a priority need. This is not pet project of the people living around LBA Woods.  If you have not signed the petition, do so here LBA Petition   

If you are a commuter between Olympia and Lacey: Please encourage the City Council to re-examine the option of expanding Morse-Merryman Road instead of relying on the future Log Cabin Extension Rd. to relieve current and future traffic congestion between Lacey and Olympia. The addition of 1000 homes on the LBA Woods parcels will not alleviate traffic problems, but will make them worse.

If you value environmental education opportunities for our students: Tell the City Council that the LBA Woods offers an unparalleled outdoor classroom for learning about nature and for connecting our children to the natural word. Children who spend time in nature show significant increases in their ability to delay gratification and concentrate. They have higher ratings of perceived self-worth and decreased symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, anger and conduct disorders.

If you play soccer: Speak about the City’s long-standing need for dedicated rectangular playing fields (there are none within the city limits!). A large portion of the Bentridge property is flat, covered in invasive Scotsbroom, directly adjacent to Boulevard Road, and are therefore highly suitable for these much-needed playing fields. Adding soccer fields will not compromise the existing woods and walking trails.

If you love dogs: Describe your experience walking your dog on the trials and the benefits of socializing with other dog walkers in your community. LBA Woods can also accommodate a dog park without compromising the existing woods and wlaking trails. Especially with the loss of the dog park at Sunrise Park on Olympia’s west side, the need is great for an off-leash dog park.


  Council members indicate that heartfelt and thoughtful emails and letters are the most persuasive.  Please write the City Council at 

For more information or support documents, go to





Categories: Local Environment
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