By Kathryn Millhorn
As we brace ourselves for a season of hectic overindulgence, let’s not forget our friends and neighbors in need, especially homeless children among us whose voice may not be heard. NoKidHungry.org reports that 16 million kids in the U.S. struggle with hunger and “3 out of 4 public school teachers say that students regularly come to school hungry. 81% say it happens at least once a week.”
During the school year, free and reduced breakfast and lunch options provide meals for 37% of Thurston County’s nearly 40,000 public school students. But what happens over the weekend, holidays, or summer vacation? That’s where the volunteers of Lacey’s Homeless Backpacks step in. For only $8 a bag, they’ll provide homeless youth with food for the weekend, thanks to generous donations, partnerships with small businesses, and caring organizations like the Thurston County Food Bank.
Kelly Wilson is one of Homeless Backpacks’ founding board members and has been Program Chair since the beginning. She estimates that over the past nine years they’ve had almost a thousand volunteers from churches, sports teams, dance troupes, the state employees Combined Fund Drive, and civic groups like local Rotary, Lions Club, Boy and Girl Scouts.
From feeding 200 students a year in the beginning, they peaked at more than 500. But with Grays Harbor and Mason County recently setting up similar organizations of their own, they ended the 2014-2015 school year helping 400 students and are already at 321 for the new 2015-2016 school year.
The process is entirely anonymous for the Homeless Backpacks volunteers. They receive only numbers of bags needed from school counselors. These caring folks work closely with teachers to identify students in need. After almost a decade of feeding the hungry, Wilson’s says she’s “unsure if hunger is growing or counselors are simply doing a better job identifying homeless kids.”
In Thurston County, elementary students needing this extra assistance are aided by the Thurston County Food Bank while Homeless Backpacks cares for teenagers in need. But for the rural areas of Rochester, Tenino, Yelm, and Rainier, Homeless Backpacks assists any students needing their help.
“We do the best we can with the circumstances we have,” explains Wilson. With that in mind, most backpacks contain foods that are easy to carry, store, heat, and eat. This may include chili, tuna fish, macaroni and cheese, ravioli, instant oatmeal, granola bars, juice, shelf-safe milk, applesauce, and mixed fruit cups.
Because of their pledge towards anonymity, it’s rare to receive a thank you. But, says Wilson, “once in a while we receive a card and it’s like Christmas for us!” They also invite former students to speak at their fundraising events and it becomes a high point of everyone’s evening.
Online donations are always welcome and groups are encouraged to select an item from their What We Need list and host a drive for that specific food. Offices have been known to hold workplace chili or tuna drives, which makes it easier for both donors and Homeless Backpacks volunteers.
Community members interested in helping or becoming a volunteer can learn more by attending their upcoming Bountiful Harvest event on Saturday, November 14 at 6:00 p.m. Promising “great opportunities to get those perfect gifts for your loved ones and enjoy an amazing dinner while you are at it” the evening includes a catered meal donated by the generous staff at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel as well as live and silent auctions, raffles, and a delicious dessert dash. Purchase tickets in advance online or by calling the Homeless BackPacks staff at 360-628-8631.
Follow Homeless Backpacks on Facebook to view Bountiful Harvest auction items, recent volunteer activity, and current lists of most-needed items. Their online events page or volunteer portal provide ways to help, directly or indirectly.
Educators report that “With breakfast, educators see a profound change for the better: 73% see kids paying better attention in class, 53% see improved attendance, 48% see fewer disciplinary problems.” Imagine what an entire weekend’s worth of food can do for a hungry teenager and their scholastic success.
Contact Kelly Wilson with any questions about Bountiful Harvest or Homeless Backpacks. She’s always willing to suggest needed ways to help or answer questions about this community treasure.
By Heidi Smith
The hallway at Evergreen Forest Elementary School in Lacey is covered with arrows leading students and staff from classroom to classroom. “We call it ‘Operation Arrow Overkill,’” Evergreen Forest Principal, Stephanie Hollinger, said. “This is a new hallway and teachers and students weren’t sure which way to go, so we put some arrows down for the start of the year to get the direction. The students do a nice job of following them.”
The hallway is part of a major overhaul and reconstruction project at the school, just one facet of the $175 million school bond that voters passed in 2014 for North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS). The bond will be used for everything from facility upgrades and renovations to new construction at existing sites, including an entirely new middle school slated to open in fall 2016. Safety and technology will also be part of the improvements.
On October 23, a group of local elected officials, school board representatives and community members joined NTPS Superintendent Raj Manhas, and Director of Construction and Design, Mike Laverty, for a tour of four sites in progress.
At Evergreen Forest Elementary, as part of a major reconstruction of the building and site, crews recently finished a complete reconstruction of the parking lot; adding more parking spaces and a lengthy pickup/drop off area for parents. A separate bus loading zone was also completed. A new front entrance, lobby and administration area are nearing completion. A number of classrooms have been recently remodeled, with the rest of the classrooms being remodeled in phases throughout the winter. The rest of the common areas, including the kitchen, gym and library, will be renovated next summer. A new eight classroom building, constructed of modular components, has also been added to the campus. This building will add classrooms while others are being renovated and will replace portable classrooms when the project is complete.
“On every project I see modular components and techniques being integrated into the traditional stick-built construction world. It just makes sense,” said Laverty. “Manufacturers can provide better quality control, and the components are almost never exposed to the elements. The construction is equal to, or in some instances, better than stick-built construction. It will last indefinitely with normal routine maintenance. This building is our latest generation of this concept.” The classrooms are larger, with more built-in casework. There are boys and girls restrooms, as well as separate restrooms for staff and visitors. There is also a workroom, storage room, generous hallways, custodial, mechanical and electrical spaces.
The new administration area at Evergreen Forest is at the front of the building for a reason, Laverty said. “Passive supervision is a big factor. The secretaries and the principal can see the parking lot and who’s coming and going,” he explained. “Good visibility is a priority. A lot of old schools had administration in the center of the building. Now we’re pulling them out to the front.”
While the construction is underway, classrooms have inevitably been disrupted, but Evergreen Forest Principal, Stephanie Hollinger, said the impact is being kept to a minimum. “The district has ensured that our construction project is actively managed so that there is minimal effect on the students and staff,” said Hollinger. “Safety for all is an overriding priority. Overall they’re really helpful.”
Hollinger said the project will enhance the school’s ability to deliver quality education. “We have better spaces for our programs and bigger spaces for our classrooms so that the students have more room to work,” she said. “We’ll have a music room that actually has a stage. Overall we’re creating capacity to accommodate anticipated growth in enrollment.” The additions and renovations are scheduled to be completed by September 2016.
Across town another project is underway at the Sleater-Kinney Annex. Formerly the site of an athletic club, the remodeled building will serve multiple purposes. Initially it will serve as a temporary home to the North Thurston High School (NTHS) physical education and athletic programs, while the nearby buildings are being renovated. This will shave an anticipated year off the construction schedule and save approximately $1 million. The school board has also decided that the building will become the new home of its Aspire Middle School for the Performing Arts (currently located on 54th Ave. SE, off Ruddell Rd). After the NTHS project is complete, the gym will be used for Aspire programs, as well as for other district and community use. With a portable stage, bleacher seating for 900, and 480 folding chairs on the floor, the gym will be able to hold a pretty big event as well.
Besides providing more suitable preforming arts facilities for Aspire, this move will free up the existing Aspire building and campus to become the district’s 14th elementary school. In addition to the use by NTHS and Aspire, there will be additional space that can house other school district needs. Meeting space, storage, other district programs, community use and professional development are all needs that are being studied. Currently, Superintendent Manhas said, the district regularly rents space from the City of Lacey, Saint Martin’s University and private providers to accommodate those purposes.
Aspire Principal, Courtney Crawford, said the move will make a huge difference for her students and staff. “We’re a performing arts school,” she said. “Right now band, orchestra and choir are all in portables outside. We have 48 students in one choir class and our orchestra is also huge. For teachers to be able to access the students for one-on-one instruction, they can barely even get through physically to help the kids set up their bows.” Being able to have all of the music rooms inside the building will benefit everyone, she said. Phase two of the Sleater-Kinney project is scheduled to be completed by September 2017.
As one middle school changes location, another entirely new school is under construction in the Campus Glen area of Lacey. The 19-acre campus of Salish Middle School includes a two-story building, main and auxiliary gyms, soccer and softball fields, and an athletic track. It will house 750 students and includes spaces for outdoor learning opportunities and a future greenhouse and garden courtyard.
Michelle Kolpinski went on the tour with her daughter, who will be attending the new school when it opens in fall 2016. “What I find very exciting is the STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math] program,” Kolpinski said. “The principal told us there is going to be a lot of new technology. All of my daughters are interested in science and math and robotics.”
Around the district, other projects will be beginning and ending through September 2019, like the remodel that’s already underway at North Thurston High School. Overall the process has been rapid, Manhas said. “The City of Lacey has been great to work with. They’ve been very supportive.”
To learn more about the designs and project details, visit www.nthurston.k12.wa.us/construction.
By Lynn West
Nestled in the woods of West Olympia, LP Brown Elementary School welcomed its first students in 1965. John Tillman was a first grader that year and fondly remembers his classmates and their teacher, Mrs. Carol Schmidtke. When he realized it was a milestone year, he wondered if it would be possible to have a reunion. Thanks to John’s resourcefulness and determination, on September 13, 2015 five former classmates and their teacher took a remarkable journey down memory lane.
“I had goose bumps when I walked into the Mediterranean Breeze restaurant in Olympia that Sunday afternoon and immediately recognized my five grown-up first graders,” Carol said. She had talked to John in making arrangements, but she hadn’t seen him or Robbie Dunn, Jeff Lind, Paddy Maguire or Mary Kay Henley since she left LP Brown to become a teacher librarian at other schools in the Olympia School District.
“They insisted on calling me Mrs. Schmidtke rather than Carol, even though now they towered over me much as I had over them fifty years ago,” she laughed. “That reunion was the highlight of my summer. It trumped our cruise of the Greek Islands.” Her former students echoed her joy at getting together.
John Tillman’s fond memories of first grade all came back as the group moved from the restaurant to LP Brown, where they were greeted not by Dale Lien, who had been their principal, but by Joel Lang, the current principal at LP Brown.
Lang and his intern Keitlyn Watson spent time with the group. “I enjoyed touring the school and listening to their recollections echo through the quiet halls. I was amazed at how much they remembered,” Lang said.
Robbie’s photographic memory immediately helped him transform what were now storage spaces back to favorite classrooms or imagine the stump piles that had provided hours of entertainment now absent from the playground.
The cafeteria reminded Dunn of his little pal Clifton Lum who used to bring noodles in soy sauce and candied seaweed in his lunch, long before these became common foods. “Clifton’s dad was the principal of LP Brown when we were in second grade,” Robbie recalled. “He had exchanged with Mr. Lien for a year, when Lien went to his school in Hawaii.”
The others remembered taking field trips to Robbie’s house down on the water and searching for shells, rocks, and driftwood. Mary Kay said, “I still have the invitation to Robbie’s pirate birthday party. It was especially great because I was the only girl invited.” She also said that she modeled some of her own daughter’s parties after the treasure hunt at that party. It is not unusual that Mary Kay was the only girl at the party because she herself said, “I was one of the buddies.”
John recalled, “Mary Kay could swing a mean left-handed bat, so we always wanted her on our team.” The little pig-tailed girl who was the fastest runner in first grade has grown into a professional woman using those skills working for Metro Parks Tacoma. “We were a group that bonded, and my years at LP Brown were some of the best times of my life. I am so grateful this reunion brought the memories flooding back,” she said.
Paddy had recently returned to the Olympia area from Washington D.C. when John contacted him. He said, “It is interesting to look back. I was probably the most out of the mainstream in first grade. I had long hair, and I came from a single parent family which in those days was very unusual, but I never felt left out.” In contrast, he said, “Jeff Lind was probably the most mainstream. He was always an exemplary student, and he went on to become an engineer at Boeing.”
John, owner of Tillman’s Christmas Tree Farm in Satsop, described their first grade era as a Leave it to Beaver or Happy Days time. “Mrs. S reminded me of Aunt Bee with her kindness and caring.” Robbie recalls her coming to his home and tutoring him when he was lagging a bit behind. Carol added, “What made this class so memorable was their parents’ involvement and the children’s concern for each other.”
Much has changed at LP Brown. The alums agreed that the school seemed a lot bigger fifty years ago with larger trees and more woods. The Lincoln Log structure out in the trees that served as a playhouse is now gone, but the swamp is still there. “We weren’t supposed to play in it then, and I bet they aren’t supposed to play in it now,” Paddy said.
And yet, much has stayed the same at LP Brown. The warm welcome they received from Principal Lang on a Sunday afternoon was testament to the fact that current first graders would someday also want to return to LP Brown.
These 1965 first grade alums are already planning to gather more former classmates and celebrate their 51st Reunion.
Be inspired as a robotics scientist tells the story of 100 years of spinal cord research that is paying off - helping us better understand neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy. Prof. Francisco Valero-Cuevas has a BS in Engineering from Swarthmore College, an MsEng from Queens University, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. He is the keynote speaker at this year's 13th Annual Latino Youth Summit. This program will occur after regular library hours and no other services will be available.
All library programs are free and open to the public; feel free to call the library with any questions! 360-352-0595.Google Plus One Facebook Like
Submitted by Rob Rice Homes
Rob Rice, Thurston County’s largest local home builder, designed, built and donated a mobile chef’s kitchen to Saint Martin’s University for use by the cast of ABC’s The CHEW, the special guests at the local institution’s recent annual black-tie Gala. Rice worked on the design specifications for the kitchen with the Bon Apetit chefs who made the meals for the 700 Gala attendees. The event raised $1.6 million for Saint Martin’s students, the most in its ten year history.
With the help of employees and a finish carpenter, Rice built the kitchen in the garage of one of his new homes in the community of Chestnut Village and transported it himself to the event location at Saint Martin’s. In the weeks before the event, he worked with the Lacey Fire Department to ensure the kitchen was up to code and he travelled to Kent several times to lock in a precise template for its countertops.
The 12-foot long structure, used on the stage by The Chew chefs at the November 7, 2015 Gala, has quartz countertops, an all-gas GE Monogram 6-burner cook-top, with double-ovens—secured through McKinney Appliance Center in Lacey—and is mobile, designed to be dismantled in two parts for easy storage. The kitchen cost Rice $17,000 in supplies, equipment and hired labor with no out-of-pocket expenses for Saint Martin’s University that now owns the kitchen for use at future Galas.
“This was not only a large donation, it was an incredible effort to benefit our community,” says Valerie Fluetsch, event planner and owner of Event Planning Specialist, LLC who organized this year’s 10th Anniversary Gala. “He built it with the same attention to detail and quality products as he does for all his homes. The event provides a large portion of scholarship funds to Saint Martin’s students – this year nearly $1.6 million. And, the school now owns a beautifully-built piece for future Galas, a huge bonus to our annual efforts for the next ten years.”
Rob Rice was has been building homes and communities in the South Sound for more than 30 years. His company, Rob Rice Homes, was voted the Best of South Sound for the last two years by The Olympian readers. Rob and his wife Helena are regular contributors to the University and he explains his motivation for delivering a premium custom kitchen for the Saint Martin’s event.
“My wife and I feel it is our responsibility to give back to our community to make it a better place for our family and for those in the communities we build. A few years back, we identified two top priorities—rescuing animals and improving the lives of children. This certainly qualifies as something that contributes to the second, a superior education for our kids.”
To learn more about Rob Rice Homes, visit www.robricehomes.com.
By Gail Wood
Olympia High School’s volleyball team was a textbook example of adapting this season. Half way through the season, Lydia Soto, a senior, switched from middle blocker to outside hitter, a position she hadn’t played since she was younger.
But she took the switch and the challenge without complaint.
“It was a big deal for her to be willing to make that switch,” Olympia coach Laurie Creighton said. “I’d describe Lydia as a baller. She just has lots of volleyball skills and smarts.”
It was that team-first mentality that sparked Olympia’s late-season surge. Add the dominate play of senior setter Julie Fleener and junior outside hitter Lauren Wilson – two first-team, all-Narrows League picks – and the Bears became an opponent’s worst nightmare. In two straight matches at district, Olympia played five-set matches. After beating South Kitsap 3-0 and losing to Tahoma 3-1, Olympia beat Kent Meridian 3-2 and then lost to Puyallup 3-2 after leading the fifth game 10-5.
Wilson and Fleener, who both started last year, were two key players all season long. After playing back row most of her sophomore year, Fleener became the Bears starting setter last season and shifted to a team leader.
“She’s very focused and an intense competitor,” Creighton said about Fleener. “She set the bar high for effort and stayed ocused at practice. She did a good job of bringing that intensity level.”
As a setter, Fleener didn’t only have to be athletic. She had to be a leader.
“The setter is very much like the quarterback or the point guard in basketball where every play goes through their hands,” Creighton said. “So, they not only have to be athletic but also be able to perform the skill consistently. It’s a pretty big deal to be able to put up a hittable ball for your attackers every time.”
But it also requires a certain mindset to be energized yet calm to be able to distribute it appropriately.
Wilson, after playing primarily middle blocker for her club team, dominated at outside hitter for the Bears.
“She’s really stepped up and owned that role this year and kind of carried a lot of our offense, especially early in the season until some other folks started to bring their contribution,” Creighton said. “She jumps well. She’s a state competitor in the high jump. She’s a smart player and sees the court well and she made a huge contribution this year.”
As team captains, Wilson and Fleener are both leaders on and off the court.
“Both are vocal,” Creighton said. “Lauren has grown to be more vocal on the court through the course of the season. But they’re both very intense competitors. Both demonstrate their leadership through action and words. And I think that’s important.”
They don’t just lead by example. They’re both encouragers, telling their teammates to work hard.
“You can have a leader who isn’t very vocal,” Creighton said. “But I think it’s a pretty big deal to have leaders who are both leaders by example and leaders vocally.”
Despite her position change, Soto still earned honorable mention all-league. Soto, another key figure in the Bears success, had the skills to play several positions.
“She has good hands. She could have played setter,” Creighton said. “She could play any position on the floor. I was happy to see her be recognize as part of the all-league team.”
When Soto switched to the outside, McKenna Neal, a senior, also switched positions and filled in at middle blocker.
Maddie Reeves, a 6-foot senior, also earned honorable mention all-league for the Bears. For the second straight year, Reeves played opposite from the opposing setter.
“I was pleased to see her gaining confidence this season,” Creighton said. “She really stepped up and contributed from the defensive perspective. She was a difference maker. She was instrumental in our success.”
The Bears relied on experience this season. Five seniors started at some point during the season. They were Kiley Schwartz, Neal, Soto, Fleener and Reeves.
Even with a senior laden team, Creighton is already excited about next year. She has two big reasons to be optimistic. Two freshmen – Camryn Wilson (Lauren’s sister) and Molly Armstrong – started at some point during this season. Armstrong came up from the junior varsity and ended up starting on the varsity at libero.
“You don’t see that very often as a freshman,” Creighton said. “Molly and Camryn will be key contributors next year.”
And the Bears will have something to build on next season.
Submitted by Diana Yu, Zumba Gold instructor
Did you know that there is a dance studio inside Capital Mall? b.Fit-b.Fab studios opened its doors in September 2015 and the place is hopping. The idea to open a studio in the mall involved creative thinking, opportunity and a desire to share a passion for fitness. Owner Lisa Bluhm, a local fitness instructor, is certified to teach 10 different programs including: MixxedFit®, Zumba®, Body Pump, Aqua Zumba®, Body Jam, Fierce Funk, Pilates and more.
Lisa has done many things aside from being a fitness instructor. She is a wife of 27 years, mother of two, business owner of Simply Swank, a published author, winner of Mrs. Washington America 2011, and the counter manager of Bare Minerals at Olympia Macy’s. Adding a fitness studio owner to the list was not such a big stretch.
How does this all work? There are many different classes and styles of fitness programs that share the studio space. The atmosphere is swanky and “clubby.” With the lights turned down low, a strobe light rotates, reflecting off the chandelier. The curtains are drawn and you could pretend to be inside a local dance club or at a party. You pay only for the classes you attend and online registration and check in make it very convenient. Cost is $5-7 per class and the first class is free.
Current dance offerings include Mixxed fit® many times during the week, a low impact
Zumba Gold® on Thursday morning, regular Zumba® fitness on Tuesday evening, and U Jam on Wednesday evening. Different classes offer a variety of options to fit your fitness level. Pilates, yoga, body sculp cross training are other fitness programs offered. Even mommies and babies are getting in on the fun with Stroller Striders. If your favorite classes are not currently offered, ask and perhaps we can find an instructor willing to try teaching their classes at the studio.
MixxedFit® is an explosive style of cardio dance with bootcamp style toning.
Zumba® is Latin inspired dance fitness program, an exercise class disguised as a party. Zumba Gold® is a modified version for folks who want a lower impact.
U Jam® is athletic cardio funky dance fitness with world beats and urban flavor.
This is a fitness studio focused only on group fitness classes at affordable prices with a boutique club type atmosphere. The studio is located at Capital Mall, in the concourse between Macy’s and the cinema, diagonally across from Old Navy. No need for monthly gym memberships.
Visit www.bFitbFab.net to learn more and sign up for your first class.
Submitted by Drew Freemantle for Maid Perfect
The holidays are upon us. We love this time of the year, because, for us it’s a time for getting together with friends and family that we haven’t seen in a long time. The holiday season can also be stressful with a long list of things to do to prep your home for company. Personally, there were times when we just needed a break from house cleaning and last minute tasks.
In three easy steps, here is how we overcame our holiday season cleaning. We also included a few quick tips to make the holidays go a tad smoother.
Tip: Plan your parties in advance so that you have time to prepare for them. Spur of the moment parties can be fun, but running around in a panic and pulling your hair our isn’t. Below is a three day plan to prepare your home for guests.
Day One – Deep clean the bathroom
I have learned that over the years, it is best to get the tough stuff done first. Start dusting from top to bottom, left to right from a doorway, and don’t forget the baseboards. Next, start with the shower and make sure to check the drain. After that, clean the toilet, counter tops, sinks and mirrors. Finally, sweep and mop the floor.
Day Two – Clean the kitchen
Start dusting top to bottom, left to right. When you are done dusting, start cleaning in the same fashion – top to bottom, left to right. One thing you might want to do is to clean out food in the fridge and make room for leftovers.
Day Three – Windows, General cleaning and Vacuuming
Yeah! All the deep cleaning is done. Now, just focus on general dusting, windows and vacuuming around the house.
Maid Perfect wishes everyone a very special holiday season! Visit us at www.maidperfectolympia.com. If you need some extra help, don’t hesitate to call 360-402-7642. This season can get pretty busy so let us know if you need help in advance.
By Katie Doolittle
Strong, brave, compassionate, exceptional: these words epitomize Caytlin Johnston’s character. As one of her teachers at North Thurston High School described her, this young sophomore is “a natural leader and influencer of her peers,” someone who connects with others during their hard times and confronts life’s challenges with “poise and grace.”
Caytlin is currently leveraging these skills in pursuit of her Gold Award, the highest honor offered by the Girl Scouts of America. As such, she’s working with an adult mentor and several local organizations to eradicate unsafe driving from our community.
For Caytlin, the issue is personal. She chose this topic because her beloved older brother, William, died at age 18 after losing control of his car. Speed was a factor in the crash.
“My brother would be proud of me for trying to take my sadness and turn it into good,” Caytlin says. “The goal is to save lives and to prevent other people from feeling the pain that my family and I felt when we lost my brother. My life is forever changed. I lost my best friend. I have no other siblings.”
Caytlin describes Will as “the brother that most of my friends wanted.” Despite their eight-year gap in age, Will always included his little sister, even when his friends were around. “I hope I never forget some of the fun things that we did together,” says Caytlin.
“I remember piling pillows on top of us and hiding in a closet and calling for our yellow lab Summer to come find us. We also used to climb into boxes and pretend they were our car. I remember us making up songs and listening to music. And when I was sad, he would call me in his room and we would just hang out.”
To honor her brother, Caytlin helped organize a dedicated patrol on October 19, the five-year anniversary of Will’s death. Seven local law enforcement agencies participated, and both Caytlin and her mother went on separate ride-alongs that day. Says Caytlin, “My mom spoke to every person that they pulled over for speeding, telling them about the purpose of the dedicated patrol, and that she hoped that their family never got the news that she got.” Everyone involved with the patrol passed out Target Zero Task Force pamphlets featuring William Johnston’s story.
Target Zero Thurston Task Force manager Anne Larsen explains, “The goal of Target Zero statewide and in Thurston County is zero highway deaths or serious injury by 2030. Our Thurston County Target Zero Task Force conducts enforcements, education and engineering updates to work towards that goal.”
Larsen is Caytlin’s Gold Award mentor, working with her on project planning and implementation. In addition to the dedicated patrol, Caytlin will do safe driving presentations to fellow teenagers at various school and community functions.
Larsen will join her, as will Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock and Olympia Police Department Officer Kory Pearce. Larsen describes the whole team as “involved and very dedicated to Caytlin and her project.”
Larsen also shares that, during October’s dedicated patrol, Caytlin rode along with Officer Roland Weiss of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. “He sent me this quick note after the patrol ‘Caytlin helped us arrest a fleeing bad guy! It was great. She’s my hero.’ That pretty much sums up the law enforcement sentiment I’ve heard.”
Larsen adds, “Caytlin is so brave to take a tragedy that happened to her family and speak about it to her peers. Everyone that meets Caytlin is blown away by her dedication to honoring her brother and impacting the lives of young drivers.”
Joe Pallito, a staff member at North Thurston High School, concurs. Having lost his youngest daughter in a car crash, he shares a special bond with Caytlin and checks in with her whenever possible. “I just want her to know we are here for her,” he says. “She is a very brave young lady and does not shy away from what happened. Of course she has her moments, but she is going to make it! We are very proud of her.”
Caytlin’s mother, Carrol Johnston, has also been her daughter’s troop leader since the kindergarten Daisy days. Over the years, she’s had myriad opportunities to witness and appreciate Caytlin in action.
Carrol notes, “One of the things that I respect most about Caytlin is her friendliness and ability to reach out to those around her, especially those who are hurting. As a Girl Scout Lead, she is always embraced by the younger girls because of her enthusiasm, ability to have fun, and her kindness. I really appreciate these characteristics of Caytlin.”
“She has such a soft heart and she is someone that you want to spend time with,” adds Carrol. “I’ve been blessed to have two children who are loving and have a servant’s heart.”
A blessing, indeed. Many thanks to Caytlin for her inspired leadership and continued efforts to positively impact our community.
By Laurie O’Brien
Pop pianist and composer Jim Brickman will bring his 2015 Holiday Tour, Comfort & Joy, to Olympia’s Capitol Theater on November 30. Hailed by the Boston Herald as a “crowd-pleaser,” Jim celebrates this one-of-a-kind concert event with lush instrumentals and soaring vocals.
Brickman has been touring during the holidays for 19 years, but the show is ever evolving as he showcases new music along with holiday favorites and the hits that have made him the most charted (30) Billboard Adult Contemporary artist. With over 20 years in the music industry, Brickman has collaborated with some of the best known names in the business and has earned two Grammy nods and four gold albums.
It’s been a number of years since Brickman last performed in Olympia, and his many fans are excited to hear his newest compositions and experience the unique arrangements that the composer himself refers to as “background music for life.” Even if you don’t know Brickman’s name, chances are you’ve heard his music before, and many people at his shows are surprised to discover that a tune they’ve heard for years is one of his.
Concert goers can expect to hear his most beloved hits, including “Valentine,” “If You Believe,” “The Gift,” “Angel Eyes,” and “Sending You A Little Christmas.” The music and the conversation promise to evoke feelings of Comfort & Joy, and you’ll be reminded of what we cherish during the most wonderful time of the year. . . Togetherness.
In a phone conversation with ThurstonTalk, Brickman said that his concerts tend to be intimate events, with a lot of interaction between him, his featured musical guests, the audience, and the music. “It’s very conversational and not a (piano) recital by any means. There is an emotional connection to the music that is universal,” he explained.
Eliciting those emotional responses is part of his goal. “The audience is getting to know (the performers) as people.”
Brickman says that although he plays roughly 100 concert dates in North America each year, his Christmas tour is always his most popular. He and his guests “celebrate the season without a lot of pomp and circumstance,” taking audience members on a light hearted, inspirational, and romantic journey. He promises that the show will be “funny, relatable, and not high-brow.”
For a taste of what to expect, there are a number of Jim Brickman videos available on YouTube.
Tickets are available through the Olympia Film Society.
What: Jim Brickman Comfort & Joy
Date: Monday, November 30
When: 6:30pm doors / 7:30pm show (All Ages)
Where: Capitol Theater (Olympia Film Society)
Tickets are $35 for OFS members, $40 for general admission, and $60 for VIP reserved seats. To purchase tickets, visit the Olympia Film Society website.
Submitted by Thurston County Public Works
For a lot of us, the arrival of fall weather means colorful leaves, sharing special meals with family or college football. For the folks at Thurston County Public Works, autumn means preparations for keeping roadways open in case an emergency situation arises.
Right now, Public Works officials are tracking the possibility of severe weather and the impact on county residents. That includes briefings provided by the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through a contract with Northwest Weathernet and other sources. Weather related concerns include:
Crews have also done maintenance on 31 vehicles to make sure they are ready for winter. That includes 10, 10-yard trucks with plows, 3, 5-yard trucks with plows and various graders, anti-icing trucks and sanders. Meanwhile, five bull pens across the county have been stocked with sand, de-icer, traffic signs and other materials. Sand bags distribution is coordinated with the local Fire Departments.
Officials have also prepared crew assignments and coordinated with other county offices and departments such as Emergency Management, the Sheriff’s Office and 9-1-1 Dispatch.
Public Works typically does not send out snowplows until two inches or more of snow has fallen. However the department conducts de-icing activities in a preemptive approach at specific roadway locations that are prone to ice accumulation.
Public Works is responsible for 1,035 centerline miles of roadway which have been broken down to priority and secondary routes for snow plowing. These routes consist of 172 miles of arterials, 200 miles of collectors and 387 miles of local access roads. After all of these roads have been plowed, equipment may move onto other local access roadways. A map of the routes can be found on our web site at www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks/2015/winter.aspx
Submitted by Open Road Productions
Pellegrino’s Event Center in Tumwater is presenting an original, interactive musical murder mystery. The play, A Murder for Old Times’ Sake, is the third collaboration between Pellegrino’s and Open Road Productions, a local production company specializing in the creation, production and promotion of new theatrical works.
According to Jeff Painter, Open Road’s director for the play, “The setting is a 20-year high school reunion. Long-held grudges and hopeless high school crushes bring out the worst in everyone. Matters are complicated when the most hated member of the class is murdered. It’s up to the class of 1995 – cast and audience – to find the murderer before they can strike again.”
Between acts, the actors circulate among the audience, who can ask them questions about the murder, and find out what secrets they’re hiding. At the end of the show, the audience gets to submit their best guess, and the audience member with the best guess can win a prize.
During the course of the evening, Pellegrino’s will serve a delicious Italian-inspired three course meal, including butternut squash soup, harvest vegetable strada, a choice of Tuscan Pork Loin or Parsnip Steak Marsala, and spiced apple kutchen.
Pellegrino’s in-house mixology experts will also come up with amazing show-themed cocktails just for this event.
“These shows are a lot of fun, and unlike anything else you’ll see in town,” says Pam Pellegrino, owner of the event center. “Together with Open Road, we do our best to make it an evening to remember. As soon as one of these shows is finished, the audience asks ‘when’s the next one?’”
For Open Road Productions, part of the pleasure of working with Pellegrino’s is getting to create and refine original work. Open Road Artistic Director and script author Andrew Gordon explains, “We first produced Old Times’ Sake in 2012, and it was a good show then. It’s much better now. We’ve made some big improvements to the script, but more importantly, added music, from composer Bruce Whitney and lyricist Daven Tillinghast, as well as a live band. The new songs are fantastic.”
The show opens on Friday, November 13, and there are only four performances. Audiences won’t want to miss out on this unique blend of live entertainment and fine food. Good seats are still available for all performances.
By Heidi Smith
Driving through Yelm, you can’t miss it: the big white building with the large Grecian pillars in front. Variously known as the Masonic Lodge or Gordon’s Grange, for years it has remained mostly vacant, used only for occasional meetings or special events, and was slowly decaying from rot and neglect. But when Dan Crowe and Molly Carmody first walked into the historic edifice in the heart of Yelm, they didn’t see the ancient carpet and layers of ingrained dust: they saw a law office.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve got to have this place. This is going to be perfect,’” says Crowe. Now they’re breathing new life into the old building, adding new office spaces, upgrading its utilities, and stripping away layers of old paint to reveal beautiful wooden flooring and wainscoting. In the ideal world, The Crowe Law Office will be moving in by Thanksgiving, says Carmody, but Crowe believes Christmas is a more realistic target.
The Lodge was originally built by the Freemasons in 1926 and used as a meeting space. In 2005 Kellie Petersen, owner of regionally renowned Gordon’s Garden Center, bought it and renamed it ‘Gordon’s Grange.’ It is listed on the Washington State Historic Registry as “Masonic Temple – Lodge Hall No. 244.” To keep the historic value, Crowe Law had to go through the city’s historic commission to get their plan approved. That means they can make some changes but also have to keep original elements like doors and kitchen cabinetry.
From the start, the couple realized there would be work involved. Both have packed schedules, Crowe as the principal attorney at Crowe Law and Carmody as the firm’s office manager, a member of Yelm’s Planning Commission and now, a newly elected member of the city council. Since purchasing the property, in May, they’ve spent evenings and weekends scraping paint and stripping floors. Crowe’s proudest accomplishment thus far is getting the 1920s era windows unstuck. “One man told me he hadn’t seen those windows open for 50 years,” he says. “There were multiple layers of paint.”
The process of renovating the property has been a challenge. “Dan and I have done all of the paint stripping, all of the floors, and all of the painting ourselves. The next step is taking on the bathrooms,” says Carmody. Crowe mentions that the upstairs carpets have been a particular trial. “They’ve been here at least 40 years and I don’t know if they were ever vacuumed,” he says. “I’ve been doing nothing but cleaning this floor for the past few weekends, just trying to scrub it down to wood. We’re probably going to get a sander in here and just blast it off.”
On the regulatory side, they’ve applied for three separate permits. “To start off we had to apply to the city for the site plan, to change the use from ‘assembly’ to ‘professional office’ space,” says Carmody. Once the city approved the site plan, Carmody and Crowe applied for a building permit, which included a petition for approval from the Yelm Historic Preservation Commission, and finally they submitted a still-pending application for a civil plan permit. “The civil plan applies to the landscaping and any asphalt,” says Carmody. “The building permit covers just the building.” The site plan covers only the ground floor, she says. In order to add any new construction to the second story, they would have to go through the site planning process all over again.
When it’s complete, the building will combine high-tech efficiency with historic significance. Crowe Law is installing ductless heating and water efficient toilets along with a high-speed ethernet. “I’m really excited about that because it’s going to be kind of a state-of-the-art technology building, as much as possible,” says Carmody. “In the civil plan, I’m asking for all deciduous trees on the northern side of the building so that we get the afternoon sun in the winter, but they will shade us in the summer. We’ve got some passive solar heating.”
Both Crowe and Carmody believe that their efforts can have an impact throughout the business community. “I hope that people in Yelm would take a little more pride in the city and that it inspires more businesses to keep up their properties,” says Carmody. Yelm currently has a number of unoccupied or derelict buildings in need of maintenance, says Crowe. “I’d like to see this act as a catalyst to help rebuilding downtown. There could be great businesses locating here and doing things for the history of the city. This could really be a vibrant community.”
Moreover, their location could generate new customers for nearby businesses, he says. “If someone has a meeting with me, maybe they’ll go next door to the Yelm Co-op and do a little shopping, grab some flowers at Gordon’s Garden Center, or go across the street and grab lunch at Tacos Gaby or La Gitana,” he says. “They’re here already. They could walk across the street and spend a little money.”
During this year’s Christmas in the Park Parade, the pair plan to open the lodge for spectators to come warm up in the lobby area and drink hot apple cider. “We’re really front and center,” says Crowe. “The location is perfect for those kinds of events.”
For more information about The Crowe Law Office, visit www.crowelawoffice.com or call 360.960.8366.
Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton
Brandy is a beautiful black lab mix. She is about 2 years old, has been spayed and is up-to-date on her vaccinations. Brandy is a very shy young girl who is still adjusting to life at the kennel. She is slowly getting comfortable with the volunteers who spend time with her taking her for walks and hanging out with her so she can learn to relax around them.
Her perfect home would be with someone who is calm and confident. She will do best in a quiet home without a lot of stress from other animals or young kids. She will make a wonderful companion if you can give her time to get comfortable with you so she can show you what a sweet, loving girl she can be.
We have many great dogs and always need volunteers. To see all our current dogs, visit www.adoptapet-wa.org, our Facebook at “Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Washington” or at the shelter on Jensen Road in Shelton. Our contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-432-3091.
Today we spent an hour and a half with Rolf Boone, staff writer for the Olympian, and Steve Bloom, Olympian photographer. We had a great time chatting about the press and I probably kept them far longer than they intended, but they seemed to enjoy their time at the press. Here is the resulting article!
Submitted by Washington State Chiropractic Association
Dr. Lonnie Lowe, a Tumwater doctor of chiropractic, was recently honored by the Washington State Chiropractic Association (WSCA) with a Special Service Award. He was presented with the award at the WSCA Annual Conference on Oct. 10 at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center in Seattle. The 1,000-member WSCA is the only statewide association that represents the chiropractic profession in Washington State.
Dr. Lowe provides chiropractic at Tumwater Chiropractic Center at 128 D. Street SW in Tumwater. He is a 1983 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa and has been in practice 33 years.
He serves as vice-president of the Tumwater Rotary and was named 2014-1015 Tumwater Rotarian of the Year. He is a member of the Tumwater Chamber and the American Chiropractic Association.
Dr. Lowe is a resident of Olympia.
By Grant Clark
Rocky Patchin arrived in Lacey in the summer of 1992 without much fanfare. No one knew much about the accomplishments he’d already achieved in the high school football coaching ranks. They didn’t know about the state title he already had on his resume.
He was just “some guy from Idaho” who took over a struggling North Thurston High School football program which was coming off its fourth consecutive losing season.
A near-quarter century later, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in town who doesn’t know who Patchin is. He’s left that positive of a mark on the community.
Patchin entered an unknown and exited as North Thurston’s all-time coaching leader in victories.
After 40 years of coaching high school football, the last 24 with the Rams, Patchin coached his final game on November 5, stepping down following North Thurston’s come-from-behind 30-24 victory over Enumclaw at South Sound Stadium.
“It’s been unbelievable. It’s been my life for so long, twenty-four years out of the middle part of my life. My oldest kids were in third grade when we got here. Now they are teachers and engineers. It’s been incredible to have my family grow up around the program,” said Patchin, whose son Jake was an all-state offensive lineman at North Thurston in 2005. “The school will always be part of our family.”
Patchin finishes his career with an overall record of 227-150 and a mark of 151-89 at North Thurston, which began playing football in 1955. His win total with the Rams is 47 more than Jim Fouts, who coached North Thurston for 19 seasons (1958-76) and posted a record of 104-53-12.
“I never thought I would be here this long,” said Patchin, who played collegiately at Boise State University and coached Nampa to the 4A Idaho state championship in 1984. “The longest I had ever been at a school before was eight, nine years. I was always told you don’t stay longer than seven years because by that time you’re going to upset about a quarter of the people, but this was the place I wanted to raise my family.”
North Thurston suffered just three losing seasons during Patchin’s tenure. By comparison, the Rams had 16 losing seasons in the previous 24 seasons before he took over the heading coaching position.
Patchin opened up his North Thurston coaching career in a big way by leading the Rams to a surprising 4A Narrows League championship in 1992.
When Patchin arrived in Lacey the North Thurston-Timberline cross-town rivalry was tilted heavily towards the side of the Blazers, who had won three consecutive games and nine out of the 11 in the series. The Rams were coming off a disappointing 3-6 campaign in 1991 and the popular opinion was they would be fortunate to break .500.
Behind the power running of future NFL All-Pro fullback Mike Sellers and the arm of Brian Brennan, North Thurston opened the 1992 season with a 21-12 victory over Timberline. Patchin would win the next seven against the Blazers and go 10-1 in the series over the next 11 years, completely shifting the balance of power to North Thurston’s side of the town.
The win over Timberline kicked off one of the greatest seasons in Rams’ football history. North Thurston would cap the regular season by knocking off national-ranked South Kitsap, 14-10, at a rain-soaked South Sound Stadium before advancing to the state quarterfinals.
A second trip to the state playoffs followed in 1994 when Patchin led an under-sized, over-achieving group to a second-place finish in the Narrows League.
His best team, however, was likely a 2000 squad which was chalked full of talent, including a pair of all-staters in 2,000-yard rusher Alex Pittelkau and hard-hitting safety A.J. Williams. The team won 11 games and advanced to the 3A state semifinals for the first time since 1976 before losing to eventual state champion Skyline.
“I think that while coaching for him, for the 15 years I had an opportunity to do so, he taught me a lot about not only football, but how to communicate well with young kids today,” said Pat Dahl, who was an assistant for Patchin. “To be able to work with a guy like that, it’s a heck of an honor.”
Dahl was joined by several former North Thurston football assistants who greeted Patchin prior to kickoff and watched from the sideline during the game.
“It felt so good seeing (all the assistants) back and on the sidelines. Seeing Skip (Scoggin), Pete (Smith), Randy (Swilley), Dan (Clark) meant a lot to me,” Patchin said. “That was special. Skip was the first guy I hired here as an assistant. Bill Broeker was the second and Bill’s been with me every season. You end up having coaches stay with you long enough and it becomes a family. It was nice to have them all back for this game.”
The final game was a fitting send off for Patchin as the Rams rallied from an early 10-point deficit by scoring 30 unanswered points en route to the victory.
“It’s hard to give up,” Patchin said, “but it’s time for me to make a change and it’s time for the school to make a change to keep things fresh and exciting.”