Recent local blog posts

Tartuffe: A Laugh Riot

South Sound Arts - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:40pm

Moliere comedy at the Midnight SunPublished in the Weekly Volcano, June 18, 2015from left: Heather Christopher, Michael Christopher and Christian Carvajal. Photo by Austin Lang.Theater Artists Olympia brings a comedy by 17thcentury French writer Molière to the Midnight Sun, and it is as funny today as it must have been in Paris 48 years after the death of Shakespeare (whom I mention because lines from Shakespeare are quoted in Tartuffe, probably intended as both satire and homage). The language is surprisingly modern even if spoken in rhyme and with a noticeable lack of F-bombs and other foul language so common in contemporary plays. Even the rhyming sounds like modern kitsch, and everything is easily understood.Tartuffe is satire that blasts religious posturing and hypocrisy in the form of romantic farce with lots and lots of physical comedy.  Tartuffe (played by Michael Christopher at his absolute best) is a charlatan who pretends to be a man of God in order to bilk the rich out of their money and women out of their pantaloons. Orgon (Christian Carvajal) is hornswoggled by Tartuffe. He believes the slick charlatan is a saint and admires him so much that he makes him heir to his fortune and promises him his daughter’s hand in marriage. The daughter, Mariane (Vanessa Postil), is in love with and betrothed to another man, Valere (Xander Layden). But Tartuffe is more interested in Orgon’s sexy wife, Elmire (Adriana Chavez) and is determined to bed her.Everyone except Orgon sees right through Tartuffe’s deception. They try to warn Orgon but he will not listen, so Elmire risks pretending to fall for Tartuffe’s advances in order to prove to Orgon just what a deceptive beast the so-called saint really is.The acting brilliantly combines modern day slapstick with a takeoff of 17th century histrionics (we have little knowledge of how actors actually acted in 1664). Christopher, Carvajal, and Chavez, are all marvelously over the top and out of control. Also worthy of the highest praise is Amanda Stevens as the wise and sassy maid, Dorine. Her delivery and timing, and her eye-rolling, head shaking, teeth-gnashing expressions between lines and when others are speaking are comic gold. When Tartuffe and Orgon are on stage together, Christopher and Carvajal are like a couple of Marx Brothers, and Christopher and Chavez are insanely funny in the seduction scene. This is comic acting of the highest order. And it would be wrong of me to not mention the director, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe in her directorial debut. Much of the impeccable timing and blocking throughout has to be credited to her.And then there’s the costuming by Jim Morgan. The rococo extravagance of the women’s dresses and lingerie and the cleverly modern take on period French clothing is fabulous, and the subtle coloring of actors’ hair to match their costumes is sheer genius.Theater Artists Olympia’s production of this classic farce is hilarious and beautiful. Opening night was sold out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every other night doesn’t sell out soon, so I recommend getting tickets early.
Tartuffe, 8 p.m., June 18-20 and 25-27, 2:30 p.m. June 21, The Midnight Sun Performance Space,113 Columbia St., Olympia, $15, at door or online at ($16.52 with service fee), pay what you can June 18.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Sunset Over Olympia

Maria Mudd Ruth - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 6:56am

What a great town! This is the view of Olympia, Washington, last night (June 17, Wednesday) around 9 p.m. Yes, those are the Olympic Mountains in the background, Capitol Lake in the foreground, and the clouds most everywhere else.

These are mid-level altocumulus clouds--one of the more challenging types of clouds to identify because they are so varied, occur in a wide range of altitudes (6,600 to 24,000 feet or 2-7 km above the earth), and because they look very different in the setting sun than they do in the daytime.


Categories: Local Environment

Remember Olyblog 2: Proto Olyblog

Olympia Time - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 5:04am
As my memory serves, and I have no reason to doubt my memory, but our Blog Father Rick brought us Olyblog because he was inspired by this particular episode about Hyperlocal Journalism from Radio Open Source.

The original version of RoS, by the way, was probably one of the most awesome media things I've ever come across. I wasn't a Christopher Lydon fanboy previously, so I'm not a huge fan of the current iteration (it isn't even on my podcast list). But, how RoS flowed in those days (literally a blog with a radio show) was awesome.

Anyway, as I remember, this show inspired Rick to set up Olyblog just a few weeks after it aired.

Its interesting to look at the examples cited in that episode to see how they're doing.

One site, H2Otown is gone. Its founder, Lisa Williams, is still very much involved in journalism, working at the Institute for Nonprofit News. But, H2Otown disapeared while ago. Here's an article on its hiatus in 2008 (which predated its actual death later).

One interesting comment from the hiatus post was this one:
Steve Owens wrote, “What’s amazing to me is that you go away for a year and nothing sprouts up in your place! Goes to show how [irreplaceable] this site is.”Maybe something should have sprouted up after the founder left. Maybe it wasn't the site that was irreplaceable, but really she was irreplaceable. Maybe that's a lesson for us.
Anyway, the other site featured, Baristanet in New Jersey is still very much alive. And, I mean, really alive. At some point, the blog became an LLC and populated with a series of writers. In this sense, it became like our very familiar hyperlocal examples like West Seattle blog or Capitol Hill.
I suppose the lessons here are that Olyblog needed to move to something more official. Either a non-profit of some sort of business. Depending on the one main guy (Rick) and the rest of us unofficial guys led to the decline over there. 
But, that's for another post.

Gyasi Ross “Thanks for the Isskootsik Love!”

K Records - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 5:14pm
In case you were wondering what this Gyasi Ross Isskootsik is all about, the man himself explains it in the friendliest of terms. The Gyasi Ross videos for his songs “Marlon Brando” (featuring Sacred Water) and “Winona LaDuke” are must-sees.   The Gyasi Ross album Isskootsik (Before Here Was Here) [KLP257] is available now from […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thurston Co for Bernie Sanders Meet & Greet

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 4:37pm
Event:  Sat, 06/27/2015 - 12:00pm - 2:30pm

Bernie Sanders is generating a lot of grassroots exciement.  We invite all Thurston County folks to get involved.

You can get more information and rsvp here:


Obsidian 414 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 890-4425

Enjoy a great discussion about the Bernie Sanders campaign, the possibility of a future visit from Senator Sanders, what we need to do to make that happen, and our fight to make our country a more progressive place for all.

Come join the community, bring your friends, bring your family, meet some new faces, exchange niceties, get down to business, and have some fun. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Thrive Community Fitness Hosts 5K Fun Run Raising Funds for Military Non-Profit

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 2:52pm



Submitted by Thrive Community Fitness

Thrive Community Fitness (1)In partnership with the City of Lacey, Thrive Community Fitness will be hosting the 2015 “Lacey Days” THRIVE 5K Fun Run at 9:00 a.m. on July 3. This will be the third year that Thrive has held this event. The idea began back in early 2013 when Thrive franchise owner, Paul MacLurg, and manager Steven Singer were brainstorming ways in which they could bring the community together to support our large military population here in Thurston County.

Part of the Thrive mission statement is to “transform the health of our community” and therefore they are always looking for ways to go beyond their walls to impact those around them. Thus, the idea for the 5K run was born as a fundraiser for a non-profit military organization called Always Brothers.

Always Brothers began as a group of individuals who wanted to represent and give back to those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. Their founding core of Marines has now grown to veterans from every branch of service. They have also been blessed by the out pouring of support from family, friends, civilians, and organizations like Thrive. This year’s “Lacey Days” THRIVE 5K event will help raise money for the education funds of children who have lost parents in either the Iraq or Afghanistan war.

Thrive Community Fitness (2)The “Lacey Days” THRIVE 5K route will begin in the Thrive parking lot before connecting to the Chehalis Western Trail for most of the 3.1 miles. After everyone crosses the finish line, medals will be awarded for the top finishers of both men and women in seven different age brackets (19 & Under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+).There will also be snacks, drinks, and a free raffle drawing for prizes from different local businesses who have sponsored the event.

You can sign up in person at Thrive Community Fitness or on-line through  The cost pre-race will be $30, and $35 on race day. Check in will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the Thrive parking lot. Please join Thrive for this fun family event and to help support a great cause through Always Brothers.


Judy Bardin at Capital City Pride Parade!

K Records - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 2:44pm
 Judy Bardin is running for Olympia City Council. More importantly, Judy Bardin is in this weeked’s Capital City Pride Parade! As you can see in the above photog, she’s got herself a stylish ride as an accoutrement while partaking in the season’s most with-it community parade, which takes place at noon on Sunday, June 21. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

County Public Health Director Don Sloma Honored as 2015 Health Care Champion

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 2:03pm



Submitted by Thurston County

Don Sloma and his wife at the 2015 Health Care Champion awards ceremony June 16 where he was honored for his work with Thurston Thrives.

Don Sloma and his wife at the 2015 Health Care Champion awards ceremony June 16 where he was honored for his work with Thurston Thrives.

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Director Don Sloma was recognized last night by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and the Thurston-Mason Medical Society as a “Health Care Champion” at the ninth annual Thurston-Mason Health Care Champions awards ceremony.

Along with Sloma, three others were also honored as 2015 Health Care Champions for making a significant impact on health and the health care industry in the South Sound community through heroic acts, steadfast dedication, extraordinary service and professionalism. Sloma was named the 2015 Community Impact Award recipient for his work on the county’s Thurston Thrives initiative.

The Thurston Thrives initiative is a public-private partnership of the Thurston County Board of Health, public health professionals, and local community leaders and organizations, all with the mission of improving community health. Sloma helped spearhead the effort that has developed strategic plans for improving key health factors for Thurston County residents, such as education level and income, access to healthy food and affordable housing, and an environment that provides clean air, clean water, and promotes physical activity. Funding partners include the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, NW Venture Philanthropy, Thurston County, Thurston Regional Planning Council, and United Way of Thurston County.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by the community’s organized medical and business leadership for Thurston Thrives, which to me is not a personal accomplishment, but truly a community-wide achievement with incredible community support and momentum,” said Sloma. “Without the active engagement and leadership from our county commissioners and the non-profit, philanthropic and business communities, the burgeoning Thurston Thrives movement would not have come together. This award honors their work and their continued commitment to keeping Thurston Thrives going.”

“Don is quick to point to others who have contributed to Thurston Thrives, but these last two years he has really been the energy and drive behind the movement. He’s the reason why Thurston Thrives today has support from leaders and organizations from every corner of the county,” said Commissioner Sandra Romero, who also serves as the Thurston County Board of Health Chair.

“Don has worked tirelessly on the Thurston Thrives initiative, and I think our community has Don to thank for embracing the concept of community health. All of our residents will reap the rewards of better, healthier lives,” said Thurston County Commission Chair Cathy Wolfe.

“Don’s exemplary leadership is directly linked to the improvement of community health in Thurston County. His legacy of advancing environmental health, Thurston Thrives and clinical care is unmatched when it comes improving health for every resident in the county, no matter your lifestyle. He is a visionary leader and will be missed tremendously,” said Commissioner Bud Blake.

After more than three years at the helm of the county’s Public Health and Social Services Department, Sloma plans to step down at the end of this summer. Sloma was persuaded by the Board of County Commissioners’ offer in 2012 to come out of retirement after a forty-year career in the public health policy field, and Sloma now plans for “Retirement 2.0” to stick.

“As new opportunities present themselves, I trust that this great community’s leadership will continue, as they have, to keep the best possible health for the most citizens at the forefront of their strategic thinking,” said Sloma, “and never forget that the way we treat our most vulnerable citizens defines us as a community.”


Go Inslee!!!

Squaxin Natural Resources Blog - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 9:56am



Sand Lance and Surf Smelt (Forage Fish) Eggs


Governor Inslee signs Forage Fish Bill (SB5166)!

This bill directs WDFW to conduct extensive forage fish spawning surveys throughout Puget Sound over the next two years and will provide significant benefit for improving habitat protections.

Proposed by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, the bill requires the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and state Department of Natural Resources to team up on an ambitious survey of forage fish spawning areas and a mid-water trawl survey at various depths throughout the sound. The survey results will help Fish and Wildlife develop conservation strategies for small fish populations that appear to be declining.

“The population of forage fish is really important to the recovery of Puget Sound,” Rolfes said. “But we really don’t now how precarious their population is right now.”

The spawning survey will be carried out along shorelines with the assistance of volunteers and military veterans employed by the Washington Conservation Corps.



By Senators Rolfes, Ranker, and Hasegawa

Read first time 01/15/15. Referred to Committee on Natural Resources & Parks.

AN ACT Relating to the management of forage fish resources; amending RCW 77.32.010; and creating new sections. (See new sections below)

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  The departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife must collaborate to conduct a survey of the location of surf smelt and sand lance spawning grounds throughout Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca. To the extent available, the departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife must conduct the surveys using crews of the veterans conservation corps created under RCW 43.60A.150. Results from this survey must be used by the departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife to expand knowledge of spawning habitat areas. The survey results must be made accessible to the public.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  The department of fish and wildlife must conduct a mid-water trawl survey at various depths throughout Puget Sound to evaluate the prevalence of adults of all species of forage fish. The department must integrate the results of the survey into existing Puget Sound ecosystem assessments to assist the department of fish and wildlife in the management and conservation of forage fish species and the species that prey upon them.

The department of fish and wildlife must complete the survey by June 30, 2017.

For more information please visit:


Categories: Local Environment

Michael Putnam Has a Home Field Advantage at the U.S. Open

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 9:50am



By Gail Wood

oly ortho logoMichael Putnam hopes that his been-there, done-that perspective will give him the winning edge this week at the U.S. Open.

Seven years ago, Putnam played the first round of golf at Chambers Bay when the course initially opened, shooting a par 70. Not counting the last two week’s practice rounds, he figures he’s played about 30 rounds on the hilly links course. This week Putnam, who grew up a couple of miles from Chambers Bay, is hoping to cash in on that home-field advantage.

After his practice round on Monday at Chambers Bay, he walked up to the U.S. Open Trophy.

us open michael putnam

Michael Putnam, who grew up a mile from Chambers Bay, talks at a press conference at the U.S. Open.

“I took a look at it and realized this would be the best place for me to ever win a U.S. Open in my entire career, in my entire life,” Putnam said. “And I feel like I’ve got a good chance.”

Experience is gold on this hilly course. And in addition to Putnam’s familiarity of the course, he can rely on his brother’s experience. Joel Putnam, Michael’s older brother, has caddied 500 rounds on the hilly course with the fescue greens.

“He’s seen the good, the bad, the ugly with all the amateurs that come and play,” Michael said. “He knows the golf course.”

Putnam admitted, as the younger brother, he might even defer to Joel’s advice on what club to swing on a particular hole.

“I was kind of challenging him on a few things, on a few points,” Michael said and added with a smile. “But we were about 50/50 who was right and wrong on that deal.”

Being the hometown boy has some benefits, included a supportive crowd of family and friends. He’s also sleeping in his own bed. But there’s also a negative – coming up with tickets.

us open michael putnam

Michael Putnam has a home-court advantage with this week’s U.S. Open.

“They sold out in three days,” said Putnam, who qualified a week ago Monday in a regional qualifying tournament. “Once I got into the tournament, a lot of my buddies were counting on me for tickets.”

Putnam is now counting on those buddies to give him Seattle Seahawks-level support. Seahawk fans have a reputation for being the loudest in the NFL.

“I expect that energy to translate here at the golf tournament,” Putnam said. “Yesterday I played nine holes and got a lot of support.”

Putnam’s history with Chambers Bay goes way back. He remembers walking around the sandy dunes with his dad as a young boy, long before Chambers Bay was even built. His dad still walks around the course today. Putnam figured his home is about two miles from Chambers Bay. His parent’s home is about a mile. Now, Putnam brings his two children to a playground on the course.

“When we’re home, we come use the playground at least twice a week,” Putnam said. “We’re here a lot. We enjoy the park part of it and then every once in a while we go down to the golf course and play golf.”

In addition to the pats on the back by family and friends for qualifying for the U.S. Open, Putnam got a big congratulations from the church he grew up attending – Life Center in Tacoma. He also attend school there. At a recent Sunday night service at the church, Putnam was the guest of honor in a celebration party.

us open michael putnam

Michael Putnam shot the first round of golf at Chambers Bay when it opened in 2007. He went on to win the U.S. Amateur here in 2010.

“It was awesome,” Putnam said. “We had 400 or 500 people there. I got to sign autographs for people that have watched my career for a long time.”

The course has changed a little since Putnam won the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay in 2010. But he still knows the course better than anyone else. He said holes 4, 5, 6 and 7 are a challenging stretch.

“Those are going to be brutal par-4s,” Putnam said.

And, Putnam said, hole 12, a par-4, 311-yard hole, is a bogey in waiting. Even though it’s drivable, its narrow fairway is tricky.

“It’s going to give guys a lot of headaches because you feel like standing on the tee you should make a birdie,” Putnam said.  “A lot of guys are going to come off that hole making bogey because of how crazy the green is and how tight the drive is.”

Putnam has told people that Chambers Bay is a second-shot golf course.

“With all the humps and bumps in the greens and how firm they are, if you can learn where your ball is landing and where it’s going to end up, it’s going to be a huge advantage to guys that just don’t learn the bounces of the greens” Putnam said.

The closer a golfer can land their approach shot to the pin, the better their chance of making a birdie.

“That’s going to be the biggest challenge of the week,” Putnam said.


A Different Kind of Reading With Christian Carvajal and Amanda Stevens

South Sound Arts - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 8:43am

Not appropriate for young children, stuffed shirts or uptight people of any age
The reading from my novel Visual Liberties at the Lacey Library will be completely different than the recent readings at Orca Books in Olympia (with actors Michael and Heather Christopher) and at Kings Books in Tacoma (with actors Scott C. Brown and Syra Beth Puett) — different scene, different actors.And you won’t have to listen to me reading the introductions to the various scenes. The actors this time are Christian Carvajal and Amanda Stevens, seen most recently in amazing performances as Orgon and Dorine in Theater Artists Olympia’s production of Tartuffe. This time I did something I’ve never done before. I gave the actors free reign to pick what parts of the novel they wanted to read and to adapt it as needed. I trust them because I know them well. Carvajal is not only an accomplished actor and director, but he is a published novelist (I loved his novel a href="" target="_blank">Lightfall) and a longtime writer for the Weekly Volcano.
Instead of doing a series of short scenes as we did in other readings, they chose a single scene that is highly dramatic but not without humor, and they adapted it so that it reads more like a short story or a play than like a scene from a novel.Tonight (I’m writing this almost a month before the scheduled event) Carv and Amanda are going to rehearse the scene with Gabi and I as listeners. We might make a suggestion or two, but I highly doubt it because they are such skilled professionals that they won’t need guidance from the likes of me. This will be our one and only “official” rehearsal, but knowing them as I do, I suspect they’ll work on it some more leading up to the event, because that’s just what they do. They prepare for a reading or a play the way Russell Wilson prepares for a football game.As for the scene itself, I don’t want to spoil it, so all I’ll say is that it crams a whole lot of sex, violence, and absurdity into just a few minutes. Not appropriate for young children, stuffed shirts or uptight people of any age.
For those who didn’t see the announcements/invitations, here’s the scoop:Visual Liberties is the third and final book in the “Freedom Trilogy,” a set of novels set in the fictional town of Freedom, Mississippi. The reading is Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Lacey Timberland Library, 500 College St. SE, Lacey, Washington.After the reading there will be a discussion/Q & A with the author (that’s me, Alec Clayton) and the actors. I’ll talk about the process of creating a three-book series and of inventing a fictional town and a whole cast of characters, and you’ll be able to ask anything you want of me and the actors. Just don’t expect us to give away the plot.

Books will also be available for purchase/autographing. Pictured: Amanda Stevens and Christian Carvajal in Tartuffe at Theater Artists Olympia. Photos by Austin Lang

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Thurston County Students Honored at Governor’s Mansion During Comcast’s Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Recognition Reception

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 6:00am



comcastThurston County-area teens know the state capital well. It’s located in their own backyard, after all. However, it’s not every day that these teens get to experience the splendor of the capital firsthand. That changed for several Thurston County teens on Thursday, June 11, during the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Recognition Reception.

comcast scholarship

Casey Duff, a graduating senior from Black Hills High School, is the proud recipient of a Comcast Leaders and Achiever’s Scholarship — an honor that will help him as he sets out to study Political Science at the University of Washington in the fall.

For the past 15 years, Comcast has made a point of recognizing and rewarding hardworking students who go above and beyond at school and in their communities through the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship program. Since the program’s inception in 2000, Comcast has awarded more than $21.6 million to approximately 21,000 graduating high school seniors nationwide. This year, 90 graduating seniors from schools across Western Washington and Spokane were recognized and celebrated during the Leaders and Achievers Recognition Reception on Thursday, June 11, at the Governor’s Mansion in our state’s capital city, Olympia.

While many students traveled from cities across the state, Thurston County scholarship recipients and their parents didn’t have to go far for the event, which started with a tour of the Capitol Campus and culminated with a dinner and inspirational reception inside the Governor’s Mansion.

With six of this year’s Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship award recipients hailing from schools in Thurston County, schools like Olympia High School, Northwest Christian High School, Timberline High School, Black Hills High School, Tumwater High School and Tenino High School were all represented.

Casey Duff, a graduating senior from Black Hills High School was one of the scholarship recipients in attendance at the event, but he’s no stranger to the Capitol Campus. “I was a page at the capital,” said Duff. “So this isn’t even my first time in the mansion.” Excited to return to the state’s capital for the prestigious event, Duff said the scholarship came as a surprise.

comcast scholarship

State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos was one of the guest speakers during the June 11 Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Recognition Reception.

“One of the counselor’s at my school recommended that I apply for [the scholarship]. I didn’t think I would get it. I figured there would be a ton of applicants more qualified than me,” explained Duff. But with titles like school president and captain of Black Hills’ varsity basketball and soccer teams, the honor comes as no surprise to the rest of us. “It’s a real honor to be recognized this way, and it’s going to be a great help for my education.” Duff, who will be studying Political Science at the University of Washington in the fall, said he couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.

While the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship helps students and their families financially, the scholarship does more than just help students pay for college. Reggie Jones, the event’s keynote speaker and a former NFL cornerback, said awards like the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship give students more than financial assistance, it gives them an opportunity. “It gives them confidence going into life,” said Jones. “This right here is a helpful hand.”

Sabrina Register, the evening’s emcee and host of Comcast Newsmakers, echoed Jones’ message, noting that the scholarship is a way for Comcast to recognize students who go above and beyond. “I think what Comcast is doing by supporting amazing leaders and achievers here in Washington State is a great thing,” said Register. “I think it’s great way for today’s youth to be recognized, and Comcast is really proud to take part and sponsor these kids.”

comcast scholarships

Graduating high school seniors from across Western Washington and Spokane were celebrated on Thursday, June 11, during the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Recognition Reception.

In addition to being recognized for their hard work with a generous scholarship from Comcast, students at the June event also enjoyed an inspirational evening which included speeches from local leaders like Jones and Washington State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos.

Recognizing 90 students from across the state, many of which come from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds, the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship program is all about rewarding hardworking students as they embark on the next phase of their education. “These kids are doing really amazing things,” said Register.

With bright futures ahead of them, the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Recognition Reception was an exciting, inspirational way to close out the school year for these future leaders of America.

To learn more about this year’s Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship winners, visit Comcast online.


5 Hikes to Celebrate Summer Solstice

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Douglas Scott

Capitol City Honda sponsorThe longest day of the year is quickly approaching, giving the cities, waterways, mountains and trails a few extra minutes of light and warmth. On June 21, the Pacific Northwest will have nearly 16 hours of daylight, making it a perfect day to get out an explore the beauty of our region. With the sun rising at 5:12 a.m. and setting at 9:11 p.m., kicking off the first day of summer on these amazing trails will get you excited for hiking season.

The 2015 summer solstice falls on a Sunday, and Father’s Day, making it the perfect excuse to load up the car with your family and friends for a nature adventure. While it appears that the weather will be great for Solstice Weekend, the destinations below are fantastic in good and bad weather. From high alpine lakes on the shoulder of a volcano, to trails along the shores of Puget Sound and through the forests along the Skokomish River, these trails are sure to start your summer off right. Make sure when you do head out to be safe, take the right gear, and make the day enjoyable for everyone. Hiking is about being in the moment, and connecting with nature, so any pace, any distance, and any destination is worth the effort.

tipsoo lake rainier

Tipsoo Lake is only open during the warm summer months.

Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak

Distance: 3.5 Miles

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Best Time of Day: Early morning or sunset

Considered to be one of the most popular hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, the trek around Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak gives stunning views of Mount Rainier, as well as a fun hike around a picturesque, high-alpine lake. Sitting at 5,300 feet above sea level, the short day hike trail can be a wildflower paradise, and a jaw-dropping destination for lovers of sunrises and sunsets. Just a short one hour and 45 minutes drive from Tacoma, Tipsoo Lake is only open during the warmer months, so see this now before it is once again closed. For an added bonus to this hike, head down to the Ohanapecosh River and take in the majesty of the Grove of the Patriarchs, as well as the fun of walking across a small suspension bridge.


Sunrise and Dege Peak at Mount Rainier

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Best Time of Day: Any

Dege Peak from Sunrise is yet another amazing short hike for families of all abilities. Gaining just 600 feet over four miles round trip, this well-traveled trail leads up to the summit of the 7,006 foot Dege Peak, giving unrivaled views of the entire Cascade Range. Along the trail, gaze upon river valleys, glaciers, mountain summits and the occasional mountain goat. Wildflowers are slowly starting to bloom, and all the snow has melted along the route, making this a fantastic way to spend the longest, and hopefully prettiest, day of the year. For those looking for an amazing adventure, be here for sunrise or sunset. If this hike is too short, consider returning to Sunrise and hiking toward the mountain along the 2.5 mile long Sourdough Ridge Trail. With just 400 feet of elevation gain, incredible views of the mountain and wildlife await those who trek along the ridge line trail. Sunrise is 2 hours 45 minutes from Olympia.


tolmie state park

Tolmie State Park is a great place to visit year-round.

Tolmie State Park

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Best Time of Day: Any

Tolmie State Park might be one of the South Puget Sound’s best-kept secrets. Offering three miles of trails, 1/3 of a mile of shoreline, 31 picnic tables and stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound, Tolmie needs to be experienced often. The trails here are easy, straight-forward and make for a great short trek through the woods. On the shore, watch for eagles, blue herons and the transient orca pods that have been frequenting the area. It isn’t uncommon to see them swim by, nor is it uncommon to see seals and other marine wildlife. Tolmie State Park also has an artificial reef, making this a must-experience location for divers. If you are craving more hiking and more wildlife, head a few miles up the Puget Sound to Nisqually Wildlife Refuge to see even more birds, views of the Olympic Mountains, and a stunning panorama from the end of the boardwalk. Tolmie State Park is just 12 miles northeast of Olympia.


staircase hike

The Staircase Loop hike is suitable for all skill levels.

Staircase in Olympic National Park

Distance: Variable

Elevation Gain: Variable

Best Time of Day: Any

Olympic National Park’s Staircase Region is quickly becoming a must-see for visitors to Olympic National Park, and for good reason. Just 1.5 hours drive from Olympia, the wilderness of Olympic National Park awaits, offering views of mountains, rivers, lakes, and amazingly dense and free forests. While the entirety of Olympic National Park can be reached from the trails at Staircase, the area has two main trails that are perfect for family day hikes. Those looking for an easy hike along the Skokomish River and through a small forest will enjoy the Shady Lane Trail, which heads downstream on the opposite side of the campground. At just 1.5 miles, this trail is simple, fun and might even have some elk sightings along the way. The other easy hike at Staircase is the Staircase Loop Trail. For 2.2 miles, hike along the Skokomish River, through impressive forests and across the river on an awesome bridge. Fantastic river views and even some wading opportunities present themselves for those looking to cool off. Those looking for more serious hikes should check out


ellis cove olympia

Ellis Cove is located in Olympia and perfect for those looking for a forest and beach experience right in town.

Ellis Cove Trail at Priest Point Park

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 75 feet

Best Time of Day: Any

Ellis Cove Trail is considered by many to be the best trail in Olympia and perfect for those looking for a forest and beach experience right in town. Located in Priest Point Park, the trail is best approached from the parking lot north of the main park entrance along NE Flora Vista Road. Weaving through impressive forests, the sounds of the city fade away replaced with bird calls and the rustling of wind through the trees. Eventually, the trail leads to access areas for the the one mile of salt water shoreline that the park offers. Along the beach, watch for eagles, blue herons, orcas and seals, as each has been seen in the past month from the shoreline. When not looking for wildlife, enjoy the views of Olympia, the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound. Fly a kite, comb the beach for rocks and shells, enjoy a picnic lunch on driftwood or any of the picnic tables scattered around the park.

All photos courtesy Douglas Scott.

79th Annual Strawberry Festival Keeps Traditions Alive at South Bay Grange

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 6:00am



By Morgan Willie

thurston solid wasteCultural preservation is the notion of maintaining a community’s traditions and values for generations to come. Here in our little neck of the woods, there is no shortage of this.

In fact, the 79th Annual Strawberry Festival held at the South Bay Grange is a perfect example of Thurston County citizens mobilizing to uphold tradition.

Five county residents – Marti Buck, John Linzee, Paul Lovgren, Mimi Arnett, and Elizabeth Bretschneider – have joined together to arrange events for the grange, keeping its history in tact. The Strawberry Festival started in 1936 as a Father’s Day celebration, and continued on until 2010 when no chairperson was found to sustain the event for another year. But, the Grange Board brought back the festival in 2013, breathing new life into an old-time favorite.

south bay grange

The South Bay Grange board has created a fellowship to preserve Thurston County’s history.

The Strawberry Festival now serves as a fundraiser for Bretschneider and Kirkwood Musical Productions, a local theatre group for children and young adults. When I met with the Grange Board to discuss how this year’s festival might differ from past occasions, the majority response was, in summation, that it would be bigger and better.

This time around, there will be a competitive run on the morning of the event called the “Strawberry Short-K.” Bretschneider came up with this idea to raise money for her son’s swim team.

“The 5K is very local, it’s very scenic, and it’s really what this area is all about,” she noted. “We have raffle prizes, we have participant prizes, and a timing system. It’s a real race.”

In addition to this, BK Productions will be performing Shrek Jr. The Musical. There will be no entrance fee, as usual, and plenty of hotdogs and hamburgers available for purchase. Strawberry shortcake – always a crowd pleaser – will be served with fresh whipped cream and visitors will also be able to buy berries in bulk.

One of the festival’s biggest fans, Sue Spooner’s mother, lives across the street.  Sue Spooner is the owner of Spooner Berry Farms – a perfect tie-in to the festival.

“She’s really into [the festival] so she goes and picks up all the berries,” Bretschneider mentioned. “Saturday morning we’re ordering 40 flats of berries, but maybe I need to pick up more.”

The board may need to stock up on more berries before the big day due to a large increase in awareness of the festival’s family-friendly nature and homely charms.

“The first few years I did the Strawberry Festival, people came into the dining hall, and they got their strawberries, shortcake, and hamburgers. They sat and talked and then they left. Last year, Elizabeth brought this place alive with so many different things going on,” board member John Linzee said. “This year, it will spill outside into the parking lot with vendors.”

strawberry festival

The 79th Annual Strawberry Festival will include a Strawberry Short-K this year.

The Grange Board is most excited to bring their community together at such a central location for some good, clean fun.

“We get to know all of our neighbors,” Bretschneider said. “It’s a way of us serving our neighbors.”

Member Marti Buck gushed about how much she adored spending time around the festival participants.

“It was just such a pleasure being here with the people coming and going. It was a pleasure to see how grateful they were for the food, and the opportunity to be together in their neighborhood,” she said. “I ended up staying the whole day [last year] even though I’d planned to come for an hour.”

If you’re looking for a sweet activity to enjoy with dad during Father’s Day weekend, this is the perfect get-together. With numerous activities for the kids, copious amounts of food, and entertainment for the entire family to enjoy, the Strawberry Festival is simply a great day just waiting to happen.

For more information about the “Strawberry Short-K” or any other details you can visit the Strawberry Festival’s Facebook page or contact Elizabeth Bretschneider at to answer any questions you may have.


strawberry festival

There will be plenty of Spooner’s strawberry flats to go around at the annual festival this weekend.

79th Annual Strawberry Festival

June 20 from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

South Bay Grange

3918 Sleater Kinney Rd NE

Olympia, WA 98506



Kim Rodgers & Mike Fisk- Mother/Son Real Estate Team Helping You Find Your Dream Home

Thurston Talk - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 6:00am



olympia foreclosure list

Kim Rodgers has spent her entire career with Van Dorm. She has been a real estate agent in Olympia since 1993.

Buying a home can be overwhelming, especially with the last decade’s national housing woes. In recent years, home foreclosure rates jumped from 800,000 annually in 2005 to a high of 3.9 million in 2011. Thankfully the trend is dropping rapidly, down to 1.3 million in 2013.

For many budget-conscious potential home-buyers, foreclosures can be a diamond in the rough. If a federally insured FHA mortgage is foreclosed on, that property becomes known as a HUD home. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “becomes the property owner and offers it for sale to recover the loss on the foreclosure claim.”

Locally, Kim Rodgers and Mike Fisk of Van Dorm Realty specialize in the sale and purchase of HUD Homes. A mother/son team, Kim has spent her entire real estate career with Van Dorm, joining them in 1993, while Mike joined both the industry and company in 2005.

To keep these homes from falling into disarray, Rodgers explains that a field service manager is hired for clean out, securing the homes, and yard maintenance. The houses are, she says, “as-is”, but with the right buyer bringing their finishing touches they become homes again.

Because such properties are priced to sell, they often turn over within 45 days. This quick turnaround means that while Rodgers and Fisk aren’t exclusively residential foreclosure agents, they do take up the majority of their time. And that’s not a bad thing, explains Rodgers, since they’re “such great values that first time buyers are able to purchase.”

But despite never knowing what they’ll find, Mike and Kim have sold more than 250 of these HUD bargains. With a big inventory, a priority for owner-occupant buyers (versus using the home as investment properties), and government assistance for closing costs and escrow fees, they’re well worth investigating.

olympia foreclosure list

Kim’s son, Mike Fisk, joined Van Dorm in 2005.

When off-duty, Kim and Mike enjoy all our region has to offer. Kim loves movies, book club, and her four grandchildren. Mike enjoys snowboarding, golf, and salmon fishing.

Economist Mark Zandi once said “buying a home wouldn’t make much sense if house prices were likely to decline further; no one wants to catch a falling knife.” But Forbes reports that “the American dream is alive and well—it just looks a little different from decades past…that said, the next generation of would-be homeowners hasn’t lost faith: A recent survey by Zillow found that 54% of young adult renters plan to buy a house within the next two years.”

Why not take that first step towards the good life by calling Kim and Mike? You never know what gem they’ll have in store for you.

Van Dorm Realty is located on Olympia’s west side at 1530 Black Lake Boulevard. With more than 100 brokers on staff, the offices are open 7 days a week with someone always on hand to answer questions.

For a current list of Mike and Kim’s HUD Home Listings, click here. They can be reached directly by calling 360-943-3800.


Rainy City Roller Dolls Supports Twin Cities Mission at Upcoming Double Header

Thurston Talk - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 9:50pm



Submitted by Rainy City Roller Dolls

 Regularman Photography

Rebecca Parvin (star cap) shrugs off a hit at a recent bout. Photo credit: Regularman Photography

This weekend is chalk full of derby with an upcoming double-header, featuring the Rainy City Roller Dolls versus the Wine Country Crushers and Overbeaters Anonymous versus the Skate-O-Holics on Saturday June 20.  It’s sure to be a spectacular sight filled with competition, support and superior athleticism.

And, in the world of roller derby, support and service is at the foundation and core of every roller derby team and certainly every player.

“No matter which way you slice it, we play for ourselves and we play for each other,” said Rainy City Roller Dolls President, Rebecca Parvin, also known on the track as Ivanna Pop-A-Tart, “I support my teammates and do what I can for each of them and the team, just as they would for me.  That’s why supporting Twin Cities Mission is so important to us.”

Twin Cities’ House Mother and Director, Tracy Scott, went to the mission in 2005, running from abuse.  “I was running from abuse and running from myself,” said Scott, “I stayed for eight months.”

Twin Cities Mission is a Centralia based 501 (c) 3 non-profit group home that helps women from different backgrounds and life experiences.  The organization is 13 years old now and is still going strong.

Players Naughty Mommy and Holy Eep helping each other with skates in between jams.  Photo Credit Regularman Photography

Players Naughty Mommy and Holy Eep helping each other with skates in between jams. Photo Credit Regularman Photography

“This home helped me change my life,” Tracy said in an email, “I (now) have been running this house for 3 years since the (the founder) retired. I (still) keep in close contact with her.”

As an independent and very small non-profit, Twin Cities Mission has no government funding and the organization relies solely on financial donations, donated items and donated service help.

And, their return to the community is ten-fold when it comes to supporting women and getting them back on their feet.

“We help ladies getting out of jail, older displaced women and many women (who are) getting off of drugs. Our average stay is 90 (days).”  said Tracy.

This weekend’s double-header event is sure to draw a crowd and Rainy City Roller Dolls is hoping the community can deliver results, for Twin Cities Mission and for Tracy.

Parvin is excited for this weekend. “We are looking forward to an incredible turnout not only for roller derby but for the women utilizing Twin Cities Mission,” she said, “every little bit helps; whether it’s five dollars or five rolls of toilet paper, these women need our support.”

Tracy is thankful for the support and is looking forward to the turnout as well in addition to the overwhelming support they’ve received from Rainy City Roller Dolls thus far.

Her final words before this Saturday, “Some ladies stay as long as a year. As long as they are continuing to better their lives, we want to help them.”

Location:  Centralia Rollerdrome 216 W. Maple St. , Centralia, WA 98531

***Beer Garden for 21 and over***

Saturday, June 20 – Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; first whistle at 6:00 p.m.

 Regularman Photography

Players Pi Slicer and Holy Eep giving thanks to the fans.
Photo credit: Regularman Photography

$10 Presale/Online; $15 at the door
Kids age 10 and under are free.

Buy Tickets Online Here

REMEMBER: When you make a donation, you will receive 3 raffle tickets to win a prize

Their current needs are as follows:
Money to pay off home
Toilet paper
Paper towels
Lysol wipes
Dishwasher soap
Laundry soap
Tall kitchen trash bags
Easy daily use mops
Broom & dust pan

The Washington Center Announces Anacker Scholarship Winner

Thurston Talk - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 9:29pm



Submitted by The Washington Center for the Performing Arts

The Anaker Scholarship Winner for 2015 is Jaysen Geissler from Tumwater High School.

The Anacker Scholarship Winner for 2015 is Jaysen Geissler from Tumwater High School.

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, along with former board member and longtime donor to and Friend of The Center, Sally Anacker, are pleased to announce the second annual Washington Center Anacker Scholarship for the Arts recipient. This scholarship was created to recognize, encourage and support a Thurston County scholar’s study in the field of the arts. This year’s recipient is Jaysen Geissler from Tumwater High School.

Executive Director Jill Barnes presented Jaysen with his award June 10, during the Washington Center Volunteer Appreciation Party.  When introducing Jaysen to the audience, Jill noted “We received many applications this year, and Jaysen is definitely a star student, vocalist and musician, and community member.  We are thrilled to award this scholarship to Jaysen and look forward to following his progress.”

The Washington Center received applicants from a variety of artistic disciplines and from many different Thurston County high schools. All of them showed years of dedication to their craft. The scholarship committee evaluated the student’s capacity to succeed in school; their extracurricular activities and community service; personal obstacles that may make an applicant more worthy of consideration; life experience; career goals, and letters of recommendation highlighting the applicants overall character, achievement and promise.

The Washington Center is accepting donations to this scholarship fund; please contact the Development Office at 360-753-8585 or for more information.

Thurston Region to Develop a Climate Adaptation Plan

Thurston Talk - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 3:10pm



Submitted by the Thurston Regional Planning Council


Photo credit: jennlvs2smile

How will the Thurston Region prepare for possible changes to the magnitude or frequency of climate-related events such as drought, flooding, sea-level rise, or wildfire?

Over the next few years, local and Tribal government organizations, non-profits, and educational institutions will work together to develop a Climate Adaptation Plan for the Thurston Region.  We will explore questions such as:

  • What roads will be most vulnerable to flooding under changing climate conditions, and what steps can we take now to lower the risks?
  • Are there areas of the county where there might not be enough water to maintain stream flows to support fish and other aquatic species, farming, and household and business water uses under changing climate conditions?
  • What are the economic implications – to the natural and the built environment – of a changing climate?

In short, how can we adapt to climate-induced changes, yet continue to thrive ecologically, socially, and economically?

The National Estuary Program (NEP) Watershed Protection and Restoration Program – which focuses on improving watershed management and land use decisions in the Puget Sound Region – will fund the $250,000 planning effort.

The Thurston Regional Planning Council – a 21-member intergovernmental board comprised of local government jurisdictions within Thurston County – will facilitate plan development.  The Regional Council will convene a wide range of partners, including Thurston County, local cities, Tribes, Nisqually River Council, LOTT Cleanwater Alliance, Port of Olympia, The Evergreen State College, Olympia School District, Earth Economics, Thurston Conservation District, Thurston Economic Development Council, Thurston Climate Action Team, Puget Sound Energy and emergency service providers. Work will begin in September 2015, with plenty of opportunities for the public and other partners to participate.

The Regional Council determined this project’s importance as a follow-up action of the Sustainable Thurston project. For more information, visit


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 4:34pm



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week - Orca

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week 

Meet Orca, a black and white male Border Collie mix. He is a smart and affectionate boy who loves to play fetch with his tennis ball and enjoys long walks with the volunteers.

Orca is a high energy dog who will do best if you are able to keep him busy and can give him sufficient exercise to keep him in good physical shape and mentally stimulated. He would enjoy herding, agility, or any other physically active dog sport.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them. Visit our website at or contact Adopt-A-Pet, on Jensen Road in Shelton, at or 360-432-3091. Join us on Facebook at “Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Washington”.

Husband and Wife Ophthalmology Team Joins Clarus Eye Centre  

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 4:27pm



Submitted by Clarus Eye & Surgery Centre

Myung - Clarus

Dr. Jane Myung

Dr. Grant Aaker and Dr. Jane Myung are joining Clarus Eye & Surgery Centre in Lacey.

Dr. Aaker grew up in central Minnesota. He graduated summa cum laude from Lewis & Clark College with honors in philosophy. He received his medical degree with honors in research from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and interned at New York Hospital Queens Medical Center. He went on to complete his residency training at the prestigious Casey Eye Institute of Oregon Health & Science University.

Dr. Aaker provides comprehensive eye care with special emphasis in cataract and anterior segment surgery. Dr. Aaker will begin taking appointments in August.

Dr. Jane Myung is originally from Iowa. She graduated from the University of Iowa with honors in biology and English. She went on to complete her medical degree at the University of Iowa. Dr. Myung then moved to New York and completed her internship in internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center – Albert Einstein School of Medicine. She then began her ophthalmology residency training at New York University School of Medicine –Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital where she served as chief resident during her final year. She went on to complete a surgical retina fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical Center in June 2011.

Grant Clarus Eye

Dr. Grant Aaker

Dr. Myung specializes in retina surgery and the care of vitreoretinal diseases including age-related macular degeneration, ocular complications of diabetes, retinal vascular disorders, and the repair of retinal tears and detachments.  Dr. Myung is now taking appointments.

Dr. Aaker and Dr. Myung reside in Olympia with their daughter.


Clarus Eye Centre is a surgery and eye care center located in Lacey, Washington. For over 40 years our ophthalmologists, experienced optometrists and caring, professional staff have dedicated themselves to helping people maintain healthy eyes and clear vision well into the future.

To learn more, visit


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