Recent local blog posts

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/03/2015 - 7:11am



I will gladly admit that I’m looking forward to a week off from early mornings, bell schedules, and packing lunches.  Like most of Thurston County, our school is heading into Spring Break.  But you don’t need to have an expensive vacation planned to have a great time.  Use one of our staycation guides to help your family explore all that the greater Olympia area has to offer.  Start with one of the free Easter Egg Hunts this weekend, then settle in and pick a few things to check off from our bucket list.  Be a tourist in your home town.  Cheers!

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

Olympia Farmers Market Opens for the Season

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/03/2015 - 6:25am



The Olympia Farmers Market opened for its 40th season on Thursday, April 2.  From April – October, the Olympia Farmers Market remains open Thursdays – Sundays.  Step inside the sights, sounds, and colors of Opening Day of the Olympia Farmers Market.  Learn more about the history of this local gem here.

olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market farmers market vendor olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market olympia farmers market

Connect Online with the Doctor through Providence Health eXpress

Thurston Talk - Fri, 04/03/2015 - 6:00am



providence health express

Health eXpress is a telehealth program offered in Washington and Oregon by Providence Health & Services.

The ubiquitous phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ even pertains to health care. Now, you can receive the highest quality of personalized medical care in a convenient and affordable method through Providence’s Health eXpress.

Health eXpress is a telehealth program offered in Washington and Oregon by Providence Health & Services. Patients are connected with doctors and nurse practitioners through face-to-face secure video technology using a computer, smartphone or tablet. Health eXpress has proven to be accessible and expedient for patients who are seeking a diagnosis or treatment for minor medical concerns.

Dr. Todd Czartoski, Medical Director of Telehealth at Providence describes how beneficial Health eXpress has been for patients. “Now patients have the ability to see a provider from anyplace and anywhere without having to make an appointment with their doctor or drive to the emergency room or urgent care center. Health eXpress offers convenient access to providers in a timely fashion. Literally within minutes you can be in front of a provider,” Czartoski explains.

providence health express

Once logged in, patients are minutes away from chatting with a health care professional using Providence’s Health eXpress.

Czartoski is not exaggerating when he claims patients are only minutes away from a personalized consultation with a provider. Chris Thomas, Communications Manager for Providence Health & Services of Southwest Washington reports that average wait times to see a provider are only four minutes, while appointment times last an average of ten minutes. Even setting up the one time initial profile only takes about five minutes. Time is a significant factor in many patients’ busy schedules. Czartoski chuckles stating, “I can’t even get dressed and in my car in that amount of time, especially if I am not feeling well. The convenience and easy access of Health eXpress is paramount.”

Michelle Wernert, Telehealth Program Manager at Providence Health & Services further explains, “The high level of customer satisfaction and quality of care are essential to Providence’s Health eXpress. We know that 98.7% of those who have used the telehealth program have had their concerns addressed through Health eXpress.”

providence health express

Providence is responding to a nationwide trend for virtual doctor visits.

“Patients are asked to rate the providers following their virtual consultation,” continues Wernert. “Our providers are getting 4.8 stars out of 5. Health eXpress has been highly effective in meeting our patient satisfaction standards.”

Thomas demonstrated how easy and fast it is to establish a secure and confidential profile and then meet with a provider. Kim Tull, a nurse practitioner with a five star-rating on Health eXpress, appeared within a couple of minutes. “Most of us do our banking online, plan our vacations, and shop – creating our health care profile and receiving medical services is similar to all of our other online experiences,” Thomas shares.

Having worked in telehealth for nearly a decade was instrumental in the success of the two-year-old Health eXpress program which began in Oregon, Czartoski said. He noted that the trend nationwide is for virtual doctor visits. “What we noticed in Oregon was that 28% of what was being handled in the emergency room could be addressed through the telehealth. We have been able to lower the use of the emergency room as a primary care so that patients can be easily treated through Health eXpress.”

providence health express

At the end of the consultation with a virtual doctor, patients can rate their satisfaction.

Health eXpress is intended for minor conditions such as flu, colds, ear pain, allergies and digestive issues. Providers can make diagnoses, recommend treatments and write prescriptions for common conditions. Health eXpress does not replace regular primary care visits for annual checkups or ongoing chronic conditions. Patients simply pay a flat fee of $39 for each visit via credit or debit card to connect with a medical professional. If you are a Providence Health Plan member, Health eXpress will bill the plan for you. Anyone can use Health eXpress, even those without health insurance or those whose health plans do not cover telehealth visits.

Consultations are currently offered from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. weekdays and 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Signing up for Health eXpress is free.

To learn more about Health eXpress click here. Or download the Health eXpress mobile app from the Apple Store or from Google Play for Android devices.



“Vested” Oak Tree Preserve Land Use Application Proves Thurston County Is For Sale

Janine's Little Hollywood - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 4:02pm

Above: An Oregon White Oak is strangled with surveyor’s tape, but continues to grow. The Thurston County oaks are on property owned by Bellevue developer Jeffrey Hamilton of Oak Tree Preserve LLC.
By Janine Unsoeldwww.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comOn its cover, the March 2015 issue of Seattlemagazine proclaims to have the scoop on the best, affordable neighborhoods in Seattle. To whet your appetite, they identify six areas, each with a mix of housing options starting in the $400,000s. Still a little too high? Well, Thurston County is for sale and Bellevue developer, Jeffrey Hamilton, owner of Oak Tree Preserve LLC, knows it. Since 2012, Hamilton has sought to subdivide 258.5 acres of wooded land in Lacey’s urban growth area of Thurston County into 1,037 small lot, single family residential units. Hamilton's effort provides job security for not only the Thurston County planning department staff, but several others, including Hatton Godat Pantier, a local engineering, surveying and construction project management firm. Jeff Pantier testified at the county hearing on March 24 that he’s been involved with the project since 2003. Co-principal Steve Hatton said he has been involved for 10 years. The firm’s website lists nine of their projects, some controversial, ranging from Olympia’s first “low impact” west side development, Cooper Crest, to environmental clean-up operations at the Port of Olympia.
Thurston County senior planner Robert Smith says that although the county does not keep a list ranking the sizes of subdivisions, the Oak Tree Preserve application featuresthe largest that he’s aware of, “at least in modern times.”
Neighbors Oppose Oak Tree Preserve ProjectPlat hearing testimony was heard on March 24 regarding a wide range of environmental, transportation, and school capacity issues. A decision on the plat hearing is expected by Thurston County Hearing Examiner Sharon Rice on April 24.According to the county application, the development is expected to generate nearly 10,000 vehicle trips per day. Approval of this subdivision is conditioned upon payment of City of Lacey traffic mitigation fees of $1,128.68 per lot, equaling about $1.2 million. According to a North Thurston Public Schools in a letter to the county dated July 30, 2014, the proposed development will generate 790 new students. The cost of purchasing land and temporary classrooms and constructing new school facilities is estimated to be $3,728 per new single-family, equaling about $3.8 million.There is no price tag that can be placed on the potential loss of a spectacular wooded space, Thurston County’s largest stand of Oregon White Oak, about 76 acres, and the habitat for a wide range of animals and plants.Above: With the proposed Oak Tree Preserve LLC development, those “minutes,” to shopping and I-5 in commute time, now ranging from 10 to 40 minutes from nearby subdivisions depending on the day and time of day, are almost guaranteed to lengthen, despite the developer’s mitigation plans. This photo was taken on Saturday, March 28, about 2:00 p.m. approaching the Hawks Prairie area interchange of Martin Way and Marvin Road in Lacey.After last week’s public preliminary plat hearing in front of Thurston County Hearing Examiner Sharon Rice, neighbors quickly mobilized to inform nearby neighbors just outside the 300 foot notification area about the proposed project, and learn about the land use process. They’ve started an online petition at that will be submitted as public comment to the hearing examiner by the deadline of 4:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3.  Due to the organizing efforts of those who live around the beloved wooded area, the petition has already gathered nearly 300 names and comments. While some just state their opposition to the project, others explain their reasons for wanting to preserve the natural habitat, with one person describing the beauty of its spring wildflowers of delphinium, shooting stars, prairie star and camas. Others provide evidence that the project does not support the policies and goals of the Sustainable Thurston plan. The plan, adopted by the Thurston Regional Planning Council in December 2013, included the three year effort of 180 residents representing 104 jurisdictions, agencies, organizations, and community groups. It guides new housing development in urban areas among other topics that affect short- and long-term quality of life in the Thurston County region.Neighbors are asking basic questions like: “The Department of Fish and Wildlife considers White Oak as Priority Habitat. From their website it says, '24.25.005 C. Protect the functions and values of priority habitats such as, but not limited to, prairies, Oregon white oak, and riparian areas along streams and marine waters.' They could stop this on their own mandates. Why don't they?”  “There are two endangered species that live in those woods: Streaked Horned Larks and Taylor's Checkerspot butterfly. I have seen them over the 27 years I have wandered through there. I saw a pair of Checkerspots just the other day. Where do I go with that?” About water quality, the entire area drains into the Nisqually watershed, down into McAllister Springs and then the Sound. Which agency is concerned with this?”“Vesting” and the Proposed Oak Tree Preserve LLC DevelopmentMore than your run of the mill not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) knee-jerk reaction to yet another development, this land use application begs questions and demands answers.It appears to be a glaring example of two flaws in Thurston County growth management history that developers are taking full advantage of: first, the county’s lateness in developing and implementing impact fees that encouraged development in unincorporated county areas and second, the City of Lacey was allowed to define and adopt an overly expansive urban growth area.  The project is considered “vested” by the county under previous owners in 2009, as Freestone Ridge, under the City of Lacey’s Comprehensive Plan and the Thurston County Land Use Plan for the Lacey Urban Growth Area, adopted in 1994 with a 2003 update.Project developers claim to not have to conform to the latest version of the county’s critical area ordinance since it was not in effect when the original proposal was submitted.  For example, the stormwater measures for the proposal are based on the 1994 Thurston County Drainage Design and Erosion Control Manual, although the science and knowledge of stormwater and stormwater control and management has since increased.  The property changed hands in 2013 and in May 2014, Thurston County received a revised application listing the new owner and met with county staff. Staff provided comments and thus the application was considered to be a revision of the original application. To be clear, the proposed Oak Tree Preserve LLC homes are not going to be the half-acre lot size homes featured in nearby McAllister Park, an upscale neighborhood with large custom homes featuring several bedrooms, bathrooms and multi-car garages, range in the mid-to-high $500,000 range. The Park touts its territorial views and location minutes from I-5, shopping, Pierce County, Joint Base Lewis McChord, and “miles of sidewalks, street lighting and adjacent city parks.” Adams v. Thurston County: A Land Use History Lesson For the Oak Tree Preserve application, the county is not asking for an EIS and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeals brought by the McAllister Park Homeowners Association were settled with the developer.So why is Thurston County not defending the environment? A little growth management history lesson may explain.It’s relevant, because unlike the current situation, Thurston County was on the other side, and in court from 1987 to 1993 defending the geologic, environmental sensitivity of the area, including McAllister Springs, and argued strenuously that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared and that the developer, Virgil Adams, adhere to the State Environmental Policy Act laws. In the 1980s, Virgil Adams owned property adjacent to the current Oak Tree Preserve property. He intended to develop it into two subdivisions in Thurston County: McAllister Park and Lacey Estates. In June, 1987, Adams filed a preliminary plat application with the Thurston County Planning Department for a residential development of 600 lots called McAllister Park. In November, 1987, Adams's predecessors filed a preliminary plat application for Lacey Estates.The planning department issued a determination of significance requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for McAllister Park. Adams had not yet submitted the EIS. At the applicants' request, the county had not yet issued its threshold determination of environmental significance or nonsignificance for Lacey Estates.  The county, relying on Thurston County Code (TCC) 18.12.030, contended that the date of vesting should be the date the final environmental impact statement is filed. Adams and another developer, Lyle Anderson, sued, and won in May 1991 against the county in Superior Court under Judge Richard Strophy. Patrick D. Sutherland was the attorney for the developers, and Thomas R. Bjorgen, represented the county.The county appealed, saying that the developers' development rights were vested upon the submission of the applications. They lost.In September 1988, the Thurston County Board of Health, composed of the county commissioners, Les Eldridge, Karen Fraser, and George Barner, adopted a resolution creating a geologically sensitive area in the vicinity of the McAllister Springs aquifer and imposed a two year suspension (moratorium) of building site approvals within the area. Both of Adams's proposed plats were within the area. By August, 1990, the Board of Health had determined that Adams's property did not lie over the sensitive aquifer. In July, 1990, the county commissioners rezoned the area in which the Adams property was situated, changing the density requirements from two to four dwelling units per acre to one dwelling unit per five acres. The rezone was pursuant to the Thurston County Comprehensive Plan and the Urban Growth Management Agreement.  Thurston County and the Cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater entered into the agreement in June, 1988. Adams brought a “declaratory judgment action,” seeking a ruling that his development rights were vested in 1987 when he filed his preliminary plat application and that the zoning standards in effect on that date controlled the density of McAllister Park and Lacey Estates. The trial court granted summary judgment to Adams.Then, in a related case, Adams filed an application for preliminary plat approval of a proposed subdivision to be known as Silver Hawk Country Club Estates (Silver Hawk) in April, 1990. A rezone in July, 1990, limited development to one unit per five acres, and included the Silver Hawk property. Lyle Anderson also sought a declaratory judgment that his development rights vested on the date of his application.

Anderson and Thurston County agreed that, pending appeal, the Adams decision governed Anderson's action. The parties entered into a stipulated summary judgment, ordering that Anderson's development rights vested in April, 1990.In the end, in June 1993, the state Supreme Court ruled against the Thurston County saying:“The only real purpose served by the County's interpretation of the ordinance is to allow it to change its zoning laws to defeat or modify a particular subdivision by delaying vesting until after environmental review. The County argues that later vesting is a preferable policy. The Washington Legislature and Supreme Court disagree.”In fact, the Court said, “Thurston County argues extensively in its brief…contending that ‘substantial and permanent injury may be done to the public interest by those racing to apply for a permit to avoid a pending zoning change….’ This argument is more appropriately addressed to the Legislature. We must decide this matter based on state law and its interpretation by the court and not on our personal notions of wise land use policy.”Fast Forward to 2015Fast forward to 2015 and these cases may explain Thurston County’s reticence to demand an environmental impact statement and the sudden settlement of the SEPA appeals by the McAllister Park Homeowners Association.Upon request by Little Hollywood, Robert Smith, Senior Planner, Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department, clarified the current land use application process and its relevance to the proposed Oak Tree Preserve development.“Once a land use application is granted preliminary approval, there is a timeframe within which the applicant must meet all conditions or the approval /application will expire.  “For subdivisions, that approval period is five years, with the possibility of time extensions.  The State legislature granted a temporary allowance for a seven year preliminary approval period for subdivisions and a 10 year period for older subdivision applications.  However, those provisions for seven and 10 year approval periods have lapsed.   “So, for this project, if it is granted preliminary approval, the initial approval period will be for five years.  And, based on county code, the applicant can request up to five, one-year time extensions, for a total approval period of 10 years. “There is no set timeframe that the initial application must be reviewed, as long as the applicant keeps the review active and responds to any requests for additional information within a set timeframe.  This application remained active from the application date in 2009,” Smith wrote in an email on Monday.Smith said that while most application reviews do not take this long, it is not unusual for some to do so.  “For this application there was never a point where the county required information that was not submitted in a timely manner.  The application was submitted in 2009 and there was ongoing review with the original applicant through 2011.  The project was sold to the current applicant in 2012.  The new applicant was in contact with the county and Fish and Wildlife during 2012 and 2013, responding to concerns about oak preservation, preparing a habitat plan, and meeting with staff to discuss proposals.  Based on the work from 2012 and 2013 the applicant submitted a revised application package in May 2014.”State law RCW 58.17.033 requires vesting in all cases when the application is filed. As our understanding of the importance of restricting human impacts on natural resources and the environment grow, then the new laws that are adopted should set the stage for all future land use projects. But as pointed out in Adams v. Thurston County, and the proposed Oak Tree Preserve project indicates, the entire SEPA process between the filing of a land use application and vesting will not change until state law is changed.For two previous articles about the proposed Oak Tree Preserve development, go to Little Hollywood, more information on the status of Thurston County permit applications, go to: link also provides access to other pages that list new applications submitted for review.For more information about Sustainable Thurston, go to the Thurston Regional Planning Council website at
 Witness to Stormy Weather: Thurston County's largest intact stand of Oregon White Oaks

Browsers Book Shop – Andrea Griffith’s Labor of Love

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 7:07am



By Kelli Samson

heritage bankFor 80 years Browsers Books has had a certain charm.  It’s been filled with friendly employees, lots of unique used books, and the kind of quiet I really treasure in a house of words.

But one winter day this year, a window display stopped me in my tracks. There was a garland of construction paper hearts. There were growlers with a new Browsers logo stamped on them. There was a vintage, lit-up sign made of old carnival letters spelling out “Book.” Something was up, and it was something good.

I pushed open the door, entering the bookshop I’d always dreamed we’d have here in Olympia. It’s a marriage of the now-closed Fireside Books and The Shop Around the Corner from You’ve Got Mail.

bookstore olympia

The new counter and branded growlers are some of many updates that have recently been bestowed upon Browsers Bookshop. Employee and Evergreen student Derek Trygstad is hard at work behind the counter.

It’s inviting. The new paint job out front is a stout navy blue, which goes well with the painted sign on the windows. There are hip new lighting fixtures way up in the tall ceiling, while the lower ceilings boast a cozier glow, as well. The carpeting is gone, and wood floors have taken over. Where there were primarily used books, there are now some new ones. My favorite blank books are now for sale. Sometimes there is the cutest dog, George, there to greet customers with his exuberant welcome. The displays have subtly shifted, and the store has taken on a new warmth, elegance, and sophistication.

The book whisperer responsible for polishing up this diamond-in-the-rough is none other than ex-librarian Andrea Griffith. She is not the librarian of yore. She is a young, enchanting, stylish mother of two little girls. She’s got the preppy thing down pat, her all-time favorite book is Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, and I want to be her new best friend.

Griffith grew up in Richland, but she fell in love with Browsers in college while on dates with her future husband Telfer here in his hometown of Olympia. The couple kept a soft spot in their hearts for the space even while they moved to California and then New York City for his job as an anesthesiologist. When the store came up for sale late last year, they purchased it, together with her in-laws, Chris and Melinda Griffith.

book store olympia

The kids don’t have to hunt for the children’s section of Browsers, because it’s located right when you walk into the shop.

“We all had joked for years that we should own this book shop someday,” recalls Griffith, “and now we do, all four of us.”

Griffith is the fourth in a legacy of women who have owned the shop. Browsers was started by Anna Blom, sold to Ilene Yates, then purchased by Jenifer Stewart before the torch was passed on to Griffith. She and her husband have two young daughters, so perhaps there is a dynasty in the making.

In addition to the updates made to the physical space, Griffith has really honed-in on the branding of Browsers. A new logo has been put to good use on growlers, totes, and social media. She is able to successfully reach a younger demographic while still retaining the loyal customers of years past.

“I feel like the quality of interesting, used books is something I want to stay the same. I want the shop to still feel familiar to long-term customers, “ explains Griffith.

It is precisely this type of fresh air that is going to keep downtown Olympia not only alive, but thriving. Out with the old and in with the new.

book store olympia

Former librarian Andrea Griffith has breathed new life into this book store.

“I love our downtown. I feel like it’s going to take a new generation of people to keep these businesses viable,” says Griffith. “I’m excited for a new generation of readers to discover the shop.”

Browsers offers both in-store credit or cash for your used books, though in-store credit offers a better deal. “We also do a lot of special orders,” says Griffith.

Looking for some recommendations from the owner herself? Griffith has recently enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, both of which are available for purchase at the shop.

You can follow Browsers on Facebook and Instagram, or find them on their website,

Browers Book Shop

107 Capitol Way N

Olympia, WA



Radiance Herbs and Massage shares Incense Traditions Around the World

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 7:00am



Submitted by Radiance Herbs and Massagesmudge stick radiance herbs

Since before recorded history, humans have used incense to perfume, uplift, cleanse, sanctify, or just cover up a bad stink. Whether you light a stick when you sit down to meditate or when you politely leave the bathroom, you are participating in a rich human tradition whose roots spread around the world.  Starting close to home and traveling east, here is a brief tour of human incense use, both ancient and contemporary.

Native American

Many tribes across North America practice smudging, using the smoke of burning herbs for spiritual cleansing. The herbs used vary by tradition and geography, but some are well known and commonly available. White sage is probably the best known, with its long gray-green leaves wrapped carefully into smudge sticks. Many Radiance customers burn white sage to clear lingering vibes from a new house, or smudge themselves to keep the stress of work from following them home. Desert sage, with tiny, thyme-sized leaves, may be considered less formal for ceremonies, but is equally effective for clearing.

Many people follow a sage smudging by burning sweetgrass. If sage clears the space, sweetgrass fills it again with good vibes that may discourage a negative atmosphere from returning.
Green cedar tips, carefully gathered and dried after a stormy blow-down, are a favorite smudge of Northwest Coastal native groups.


In Mexico, incense is an important ofrenda (offering), laid out on the family mesa, or altar, for Dia de los Muertos. Clay goblets hold smoldering charcoals, sprinkled with copal—old, hardened tree resin on its way to becoming amber. Copal is often burned in sweat lodge ceremonies, and is used to simultaneously cleanse and sanctify, similar to following sage smudging with sweetgrass.

Central and South American

One of several woods called palo santo, from the tree Bursera graveolens, is gaining popularity as an incense and smudge in the United States. The tree grows from Guatemala south through Peru, and is used widely for cleansing malas aires (bad air, or negative atmosphere) throughout these countries, especially in Ecuador. The chopped pieces of palo santo wood stay lit on their own. Those who use it find the smoke both clearing and uplifting, and some report the burning wood pops when the smoke encounters a particularly dense pocket of energy.

North African/South Asianincense

Traveling east, we find the frankincense and myrrh resins mentioned so prominently in the Bible. Archaeological evidence shows use of incense in this region dating back even farther, to Ancient Egypt. Frankincense “tears,” or drops of the hardened sap of the Boswellia tree, are collected by hand and burned over glowing charcoals, often in hanging brass censors.
Indian As we travel east, we encounter cored incense first in India. The core is a thin piece of bamboo or sometimes sandalwood; this is hand-rolled with resin, sawdust for fragrance or binding, and scented with essential oils and/or synthetic fragrance. India is one of the world’s biggest exporters of incense, including the perennial favorite, nag champa.


Cored incense is used widely in China—for daily devotion to ancestors, as well as in special ceremonies. In areas where the Ghost Festival is celebrated, families burn cored incense sticks the size of small pillars. These put off so much smoke and heat, they can only be burned outside. Incense comes in other shapes in China, including spirals hung from temple ceilings, and twists of scented paper, called rope incense, popular in the Tibetan region.


Radiance Herbs and Massage incenseMany people are familiar with the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Japanese practitioners of kodo (ko-the way of, do-incense) may partake in the Incense Ceremony. The ceremony takes place in a special house designed in a traditional Zen architectural style, where participants sit quietly and contemplate the fragrance.
Japanese incense has no core; it is extruded, like sticks of spaghetti. The sticks break easily, which means they not only smell good, but can also be used to time a ceremony or period of meditation. Sandalwood and aloeswood are the most common ingredients in Japanese incense.

Back Home

We’re lucky to live at a cultural crossroads where all of these types of incense are easily available to us. Radiance Herbs & Massage carries a wide selection of these diverse forms and aromas for you to experience.

Thrifty Thurston Takes a Walk at Woodard Bay

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 6:57am



By Megan Conklin

Alley Oop LogoWhen I took a gaggle of children out for some playtime at Woodard Bay last week, we were met with old familiar beauty and new, improved design. We walked the long, familiar paved road that turns to gravel and then, miraculously, to grass, sand and expansive blue water. We noticed new plantings, new structures and plenty of new interpretive signage.

woodard bayAccording to the Department of Natural Resources website, “Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area was designated by the legislature in 1987, one of the first in the state.  A wildlife sanctuary that is just minutes from downtown Olympia, this 800 acres site protects habitat ranging from marine shoreline and wetlands to mature second growth forest. The site has a rich and varied human history that includes Native Americans, early settlers to southern Puget Sound and the logging and shellfish industries.”

The beauty of the area has been enhanced over the years through a series of restoration projects. Because the area was used from the 1920s through 1980s as a log transfer facility for the Weyerhaeuser Company, there were a variety of creosote laden industrial structures that needed to be evaluated for removal.

woodard bayA portion of the Chapman Bay Pier – the portion that was not the primary roost area for the famous Woodard Bay bat population – was also removed along with the Woodard Bay trestle. The restoration at Woodard Bay has been a long, thoughtful process because many of the old remnants of logging industry also double as homes to a variety of important wildlife species.

Most recently, the area was closed to the public from the summer of 2014 to mid-February 2015 for additional improvements and environmental renewal.

What I happily observed on my leisurely walk with the kiddos, however, was the vastly improved public access for the low impact recreation Woodard Bay invites. A lovely new bike shelter situated at the start of the trail allows bikers to safely secure their rides before beginning a hike. While I chose one of our recent, almost 70 degree days for my walk on Woodard Bay, the new learning shelter near the water, with its gleaming wooden picnic tables and sturdy metal roof, made me think a drizzly day hike or field trip would be just fine. Upgraded walkways and clustered benches encourage both wandering around and sitting to enjoy the spectacular views.

woodard bayThere are three different trails available to hike in the park and two of them are upland trails that afford the occasional peek at a heron or an eagle as well as overlooking views of the bay itself. I rarely get to hike on those trails however, because my kids are usually in a hurry to walk to the end of the paved trail and get to the shore. About that paved trail – it always feels a little longer than I remembered – so if you are bringing small children who tire easily, I suggest a sturdy stroller or, even better, a backpack.

The real draw of Woodard Bay, for my family at least, is the water itself. With new benches and tables situated near the shoreline for adult supervision, the rocky shore and sandy beach serve as the best kind of playground. Some of my children spent the entire two hour visit methodically turning over large rocks at the water’s edge and repeatedly squealing with delight as crabs of all sizes scuttled out. My 10-year-old daughter and her friend swam in the bay – because it was 68 degrees out and that’s swimming weather here in the Pacific Northwest. My parents, who also came along for the walk, and I sat at new tables and gushed about the weather while admiring special shells and rocks brought to us for inspection.

woodard bayWoodard Bay has changed, for the better, and somehow, has still managed to stay exactly the same. And, while the walk back to the car was a little chilly and damp, I think we all agreed it was worth it.

To get driving directions to Woodard Bay, click here.  Please note that a Discover Pass is required for parking at this location.  You can find a list of free park days here to help save on costs.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

Rescue Task Force Runs Through an Active Shooter Exercise

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 6:47am



Photos by Laurie O’Brien

On April 1, 2015, a ThurstonTalk camera was on site for an Active Shooter Drill held at South Puget Sound Community College.

Sponsored by Homeland Security Region 3, the drill conducted by the Olympia Police Department and the Olympia Fire Department included participants from over 30 local and regional agencies including the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and all local police and fire departments. Units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and surrounding counties either participated or send observers to watch and learn.

Seventy-five community volunteers played victims in the scenario and were made up with realistic looking wounds and fake blood to simulate victims of a mass shooting.

The drill took nearly two years to plan and is the official roll out of the new Rescue Task Force initiatives and Unified Command protocols being implemented by the OFD and OPD.

To read more about how the OFD has been preparing, you can read this ThurstonTalk article: Working to Keep Us Safe.

Unified Command Drill Law Enforcement from different   agencies work together Unified Command Drill Captain Jim Brown of the OFD   observes his rescue crews on site Unified Command Drill Victims are triaged using colored   ribbons (800x532) Unified Command Drill Inside the Unified Command Vehicle   (800x532) Unified Command Drill Rescue workers hunker down while law   enforcement responds to shots fired Unified Command Drill The first Rescue Teams arrive on   site (800x532) Unified Command Drill Rescue workers are allowed on scene   only with police escort Unified Command Drill Firefighters triage victims on site   (800x532) Unified Command Drill 2015_0070 (800x532) Unified Command Drill Patients placed on gurneys for   transport to hospital (800x532) Unified Command Drill A SWAT team member coordinates with   a TCSO Deputy Unified Command Drill Victims from the bus give   descriptions of the shooters to police (800x532) Unified Command Drill The TSCO Swat Team Arrives Unified Command Drill Law Enforcement surrounds the first   building (800x532) Unified Command Drill Unified Command Vehicle   (800x532) Unified Command Drill Transporting victims to a safe area   (800x532) Unified Command Drill The shooters run from a hijacked bus   into a campus building Unified Command Drill Unified Command Truck (800x532) Unified Command Drill More heavily armed police arrive on   scene (800x532) Unified Command Drill Victims are made up with realistic   looking wounds so that EMTs can practice field skills and triaging Unified Command Drill Victims who are able help transport   the wounded to safety Unified Command Drill Participant ID (800x532)

Chris Penner – Advocating for Tourette’s Syndrome Locally

Thurston Talk - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 6:00am



By Amy Rowley

providence medical group sponsorThe urge to sneeze is overwhelming. I stand frozen, elbow bent, ready to catch my germs in the crook of my arm. When I explain that my seasonal allergies have flared up, people nod understandably.

tourettes syndrome

Chris Penner is an 8th grader at Griffin School with a 4.0 GPA.

Imagine that sensation overcoming you thousands of times a day. “You can stop blinking or hold back a sneeze for a bit, but eventually it has to come out,” explains Erik Penner. “That’s how I describe the urge of Tourette’s syndrome tics.”

Erik’s son, Chris, was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome when he was 5-years-old. Now 14, Chris is serving as a Youth Ambassador, elected by the Washington State Tourette Syndrome Association. Along with about 50 other youths, Chris and Erik recently spent a few days in Washington DC, training for the role. Chris then spoke with federal legislative staffers to advocate for research funding and promoting awareness of Tourette’s syndrome.

For Chris, Tourette’s syndrome came on suddenly when he was 4-years-old. “Chris’ onset was so severe. He couldn’t sit in my lap and was having 5,000 – 6,000 tics a day. In just two days time, he went from being a well-behaved preschooler to a child who I wasn’t sure would fit into public education,” explains Chris’ mom, Kathleen.

As parents, Erik and Kathleen were baffled. Erik is an emergency room physician at Providence St. Peter Hospital and Kathleen has her Masters in Education — two careers that should have prepared them for recognizing the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome. But, neither knew what was happening to their son.

“As a parent, it’s so frustrating. You want to just say ‘stop and sit still.’ You figure that your child should be able to control these tics,” explains Kathleen when they had ruled out seizures. “Now I know that if I ignore Chris’ tics and work to create a calm environment that it’s better for him.”

tourettes syndrome

Chris Penner, pictured here with his AAU youth basketball coach, Antonio McClinon, excels on the court.

Little is known about Tourette‘s syndrome and why the brain sends the messages to flick your hand, blink your eye repetitively, or make socially inappropriate verbal sounds. Tics are different for each person and fluctuate in intensity. “I know that stress and illness can make my tics stronger,” explains Chris. For most kids, tics peak in the pre-puberty years. Periods of growth or not eating properly also impact tics. For some people, tics become markedly less intense or even go away entirely in adulthood.

But, by then many people have succumbed to other “side effects” of Tourette’s syndrome. Erik explains that it’s not uncommon for children to do poorly in school and experience depression and anxiety as a result of their tics.

Take this quick test that Chris and Erik walked me through. The average adult can write the Pledge of Allegiance in 90 seconds. Grab a pen, paper and a partner and set your timer. Now, on every third word, cross it out and rewrite it. Then, every time your partner claps, touch your finger to the table. The clapping should become more frequent during the 90 seconds simulating the effects of stress. Then, your partner starts adding in comments like “come on, this is easy” or “you have plenty of time to finish this task.” I believe I made it to about the third phrase of the pledge.

Now imagine if you add in an eye tic that causes you to lose your place while reading every three seconds. Or perhaps you have a vocal tic where your body emits a sound repetitively. You now have a view, albeit a simplistic one, into the effects of Tourette’s syndrome on school children.

“With awareness comes acceptance,” explains Erik. “This is a medical condition and kids can have accommodations such as prolonged test taking or permission to step out of the classroom briefly, as just a few examples.” Part of Chris’ role is to share how educators can assist Tourette’s syndrome kids and create environments that are more conducive to learning.

tourettes syndrome

Chris Penner was selected as a Youth Ambassador to raise awareness and encourage lawmakers to support research funding for Tourette’s syndrome.

In 5th grade, Chris was going through a growth spurt. He put into practice some habit reversal therapies to try to temporarily ask his brain to control the tics. His parents remember talking with his Griffin School teacher, Tammy Phillips. “She told us that he was trying so hard to control the tics by grabbing the desk that it was shaking,” says Kathleen.

“I’m able to concentrate when I do math,” says Chris. To calm Chris, Mrs. Philips would “write” math problems on his back for him to solve. Chris’ tics surprisingly halt when he works through a complicated three-digit multiplication problem. “When there is focused thinking, something happens in the brain that bypasses the urge to tic,” explains Erik. “We don’t know enough about how those chemicals are working to fully understand it.”

Now an 8th grader, Chris is a 4.0 student who excels in the classroom. His experience meeting other Youth Ambassadors, though, has shown him that this isn’t always the case for kids with Tourette’s syndrome. Many kids didn’t grow up in a small, supportive community. Besides their tics, they are coping with self-esteem issues that may become more debilitating than tics as adults.

Chris’ approach to his tics is remarkably different. “I’m totally fine and it really doesn’t bother me. It’s what I have,” he says quietly but confidently.

The Penner family applauds the Griffin School administrator, teachers and community for accepting Chris. “Kids are such advocates for Chris,” shares Kathleen when describing a time in 5th grade when the kids backed up Chris to a substitute teacher.

“Kids are so accepting,” adds Erik. “Tourette’s syndrome is a medical condition, like asthma. Everything else with Chris and other kids is normal.” This is the message that Chris Penner will be delivering to the community during his year as Youth Ambassador.

tourettes syndrome

Once learning more about Tourette’s syndrome, Chris Penner’s basketball teammates say that they don’t even notice.

“The first time I met Chris was in 4th grade. He was making some noise and twitching and I asked him if he was OK. Then his dad explained about Tourette’s syndrome,” describes basketball teammate Taylor Mastin. “I really don’t even notice it anymore.”

Chris’ buddy Brady Hale agrees. “I really don’t even think about any of it. We’re just playing basketball.”

Chris would rather be defined by his play on the basketball court, his academic accomplishments and his empathetic behavior toward other people. Advocating for Tourette’s syndrome, however, is the path that his parents have encouraged him to walk down.

“Tourette’s syndrome won’t stop Chris. As parents, we are encouraging Chris to be a Youth Ambassador for Tourette’s syndrome because we feel that since he is doing so well that he has an obligation to help others. I want other kids to learn from Chris that Tourette’s syndrome doesn’t have to be a block. Instead, it can catapult you to other places in your life,” concludes Kathleen.

“Chris is learning how to advocate for himself. With that skill comes the ability to advocate for others,” adds Erik.

The next time you hear about Chris Penner, it will likely not be related to Tourette’s syndrome. Instead, you may read a sports article about the athletic superstar or maybe you will read a medical journal article with his byline. For you see, Chris Penner hopes to become a neurologist or Tourette’s syndrome specialist and take this advocacy role even further as an adult.

To learn more about Tourette’s syndrome, visit If you have specific questions, reach out to Todd Henry, chair of the Washington/Oregon chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association at 206-621-2108 or


State Capitol Museum on the chopping block. How much should I care?

Olympia Time - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 5:57am
No one seems to have noticed, but the state house budget (this one written by Democrats) puts the State Capitol Museum on the chopping block. Neither the senate budget nor the governor's puts the museum to the ax.

This isn't what I'd consider to be our local museum, that would be the Bigelow House. But, it is the most prominent museum in our city. And, so at least one part of the state government wants to close it.

But, I'm wondering how much I should care about that.

Mostly because it is for one Olympia and not the other. The museum is for Olympia-as-state-capitol and not as Olympia-as-community.

Obviously there are overlaps. There are people who live here that have had a significant impact on state government simply because they lived here. But, that isn't what Olympia is, mostly.

And, so, this is whey I expect in Olympia, we're not going to complain very much if they end up closing the museum down. It simply speaks too narrowly to our history and culture here.

Yes, the Lord Mansion is very pretty. And, it would be a shame to cut off public access to it. I remember biking over there when I was a kid in the summer, just to walk around. But, the museum now doesn't speak to me much.

The best part of the museum is its small community room, the Carriage House. At least for me it is. Its the only part of the State Capitol Museum I've been to in the last 10 years, because it is where local historians hold talks.

But, those talks probably still might take place there. The house budget calls for the building to be passed over to another part of the state government, which leads me to believe it'll still be available for rent.

The last thing that amazes me is the incredibly low budget line item we're even talking about here. Apparently, the state provides only $242,000 a year to the state historical society to run the State Capitol Museum.

So really, is there a big reason that I'm missing that I would want to keep this incarnation of the museum open?

National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 4:02pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

City of Olympia Mayor, Stephen Buxbaum, is joining mayors across the country in asking residents to make a commitment to conserve water by taking part in a national contest aimed at drastically slashing water and energy use across the nation.

Throughout the month of April, WaterWise Olympia residents are encouraged to make their pledge to water conservation at  Last year, residents from over 1,000 cities pledged to reduce their annual consumption of drinking water by nearly a billion gallons.

Mayor Buxbaum says, “By saving water, our community saves energy, money and valuable resources.  That’s why I am encouraging you to take the Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation this month.”

This non-profit campaign is presented nationally by Toyota and the Wyland Foundation, with support from the Environmental Protection Agency and National League of Cities. The Wyland Foundation is a 501(c)3 dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s ocean, waterways and marine life.

The city with the highest percentage of residents who take the challenge in their population category wins.  Participants in the winning cities are eligible to win hundreds of prizes, including a Toyota Prius V, water saving home products, home improvement gift cards and more.

City of Olympia residents have done an excellent job in using our precious drinking water efficiently.  In fact, citizen’s efforts resulted in exceeding our 2009-2014 Water System Plan goal of reducing consumption by 5% per connection, with a 9% reduction in water use.  That’s over 98 million gallons!  Olympia residents have demonstrated their commitment to water conservation and deserve to be recognized.  Make your pledge today!

Did you know that about 400 billion gallons of water are used in the U.S. daily?  Or that a running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons per day?  For our Top 10 indoor and outdoor Water Wise tips, visit



OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 4:01pm
Event:  Sun, 04/19/2015 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm

Harlequin Productions’ annual fundraiser and season announcement party, Eclectica!, is coming up on Sunday April 19th at the State Theater in downtown Olympia. The event will take place from 5:00-8:00 PM and include catered dinner, no-host bar, live entertainment, a wine toss, a live auction, and the announcement of Harlequin’s Season 2016 lineup of shows.

“The 2016 Season is Harlequin’s 25th anniversary season,” said Managing Artistic Director Scot Whitney. “We’ve got some surprises in store to mark the occasion.”

Entertainment will be provided by the acclaimed musical duo Red & Ruby, featuring LaVon Hardison and Vince Brown. In addition, Harlequin’s improv troupe, Something Wicked, will present live improv comedy.

Eclectica! is always a very fun event,” commented Harlequin Artistic Director Linda Whitney. “Red & Ruby are fabulous, and Something Wicked will be hilarious as always. The evening promises to be a lot of fun for all.”

Tickets can be purchased by calling 360-786-0151, or online at logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

read more

April 15 Marks Hot Water Heater Regulations Affecting Homeowners

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 2:16pm



Submitted by Springer Plumbing

April 15 isn't just tax day.  It marks the start of new water heater regulations affecting homeowners.

April 15 isn’t just tax day. It marks the start of new water heater regulations affecting homeowners.

When you hear April 15, what do you think of? Taxes, right? Well, this year we should also be thinking about water heaters.

As of April 16 2015, a new energy efficiency mandate is going into effect that will directly impact your wallet and possibly the location of your water heater. This revision to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, otherwise known as NAECA, will change the design of most new water heaters.

 What is changing?

The Department of Energy is requiring higher energy factor ratings on virtually all residential water heaters including gas-fired, oil-fired, electric, tabletop, instantaneous gas-fired and instantaneous electric.

Water heaters under 55 gallons have to meet a considerably higher minimum energy factor requirement. In some models, the new minimums will be met by increasing the amount of insulation around the tank.

For water heaters over 55 gallons, the biggest changes apply. Typical gas and electric models will not be able to meet the new requirements and will be diminished. Instead, electric heat pump and high-efficiency condensing gas water heaters will be the new standard.

What does this mean for you?

All new water heaters manufactured after April 16 will be physically larger, up to 2” taller and 3” wider. For some homeowners with units installed in a small closet or alcove, this will result in relocating their water heater or downsizing to a smaller tank size.

These newly designed tanks will also have a higher price tag, which is a great reason to think about installing a new unit in the near future. The average lifespan of a water heater is about 11 years. If you are approaching that mark, we recommend looking into replacement. These new units will be phased in as old inventories are depleted, but given the circumstances the supply is expected to deplete quickly.

So when you hear April 15, think “new water heater deadline!”

If you would like to talk about your replacement options, contact us for a free estimate.






26th Rachel Carson Forum - on Urban Ecology

OlyBlog Home Page - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 2:11pm
Event:  Thu, 04/23/2015 - 5:30pm - 9:00pm

From today's inbox:

The 26th Annual Rachel Carson Forum

Urban Ecology

Date & Time:
Thursday, April 23, 2015, 5:30-9:00pm
(5:30pm-6:30pm - environmental organization fair; 6:30pm-9:00pm - speakers)

The Evergreen State College Recital Hall in Olympia, WA

Gail O’Sullivan & Karen Nelson are co-founders of the Commons at Fertile Ground, a non-profit in downtown Olympia whose mission is to demonstrate urban sustainability. For the last 16 years they have been developing the site for use by the community. They host many large and small events and have incubated a number of small, local businesses by adding their support and exposure. The Evergreen State College has played a key role in their development by participating with internships, field trips and panel discussions on urban sustainability. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

read more

Music Out Loud – Names Requested to Honor Local Musicians

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 1:49pm



Submitted by City of Olympia

Help us honor musical legacies in our community!

The Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department and the Olympia Arts Commission need your help to posthumously honor musicians who have significantly contributed to music growth in the area or made a name for Olympia, through artistic design and a music performance series at up to three sidewalk sites in downtown Olympia.

Citizens are asked to submit names of deceased local musicians who has been pivotal in the musical growth of the Olympia community. Commissioners are looking for musicians to honor who meet the following criteria:

  • Are deceased.
  • Was born or has lived (10+ years), and has had a significant connection with the Olympia area.
  • Pivotal in the musical growth of the Olympia community.
  • Accessible to the public.
  • Contributed to vitality of Olympia’s music scene.
  • History of musical achievement.
  • Respected by peers.
  • Has made a significant contribution to music.
  • Honored by local musicians and aficionados for his/her contribution to the community.
  • With his or her passing, left a lasting legacy that will forever be remembered.
  • The City’s ability to establish positive communication with family or estate of the musician.
  • Consideration of diverse styles of music.

Submittals are REQUIRED to include the following information:

  • Musician suggestion
  • Why should this musician be honored
  • Your name and contact information

Names must be submitted by 5:00pm on April 30 and be based on the criteria specified above. Names will be accepted by email at or mail/drop at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia 98501.

The Olympia Arts Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday May 14, at 6:00 pm at Olympia City Hall, 604 4th Ave. E, Room 112. The public is encouraged to attend. For special accommodations, please contact Stephanie Johnson at 360.709.2678.

20 Designs to be Selected for Traffic Control Boxes in West and Downtown Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 12:58pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

The City of Olympia is seeking up to 20 art designs to be applied to vinyl wraps to cover traffic control boxes in Downtown and Westside Olympia.

General Guidelines

  • $500 honorarium for use of design.
  • Artist will submit concept designs using supplied templates HERE.
  • Designs will be made available online at for public vote to determine the 20 to be fabricated.
  • Artists do not fabricate or install the final art on the box.
  • Selected artist designs (which can be prepared as illustrations, paintings, computer designed images, quilts, mosaics, photographed sculptures or photographs), will be printed on to a vinyl wrap, and applied to the traffic boxes.
  • Wrap will be removed after 2-3 years, depending on condition. They may be removed at any time at the discretion of the City.
  • Find additional details in the Call for Art/Entry Form HERE.
  • Entry Deadline: Receipt of Entries – Thursday, May 28, 2015, 5pm

For more information, please contact Stephanie Johnson, Arts & Events Program Manager, at 360.709.2678.



Spring RBB trips

The spscclogo1Spring catalog for the South Puget Sound Community College continuing education program have been distributed.  Already two of the trips are full; one with a wait list!

To avoid disappointment, be sure to sign up soon for the remaining trips!

Register at:

Connect with Rebels by Bus via Facebook to communicate with other Rebels by Bus fans, or chat about trips you’ve taken or would like to take… rbb_100_sq (100x100)

Categories: Local Environment

Olympia Family Theater Announces 2015 Summer Camp Line-up

Thurston Talk - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 10:37am




Submitted by Olympia Family Theater 

OFT summer campOlympia Family Theater has 11 weeks of amazing theater camps lined up for the summer of 2015 with something for all kids ages 4 to 17.

Olympia Family Theater is your community partner in raising imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children. Our educational programs provide opportunities for personal development for young people, teaching creativity and responsibility, encouraging teamwork and personal integrity, and fostering self-esteem and appreciation for the performing arts.

Each summer camp is designed around a show or theme, which students get to showcase at the end of the week with a performance. Our camps offer a variety of theater skill-building opportunities including comedy, poetry, singing and choreography, prop making, improvisation and of course acting!

Each camp is staffed by a teacher with an intern assistant. The staff bring a wealth of theater knowledge and experience to each camp. Teacher Bios HERE.

REGISTRATION: Register online or use the printable forms from our camp webpage. Space is limited in each camp. Olympia Family Theater is committed to making theater education accessible through tuition scholarships. The application for summer camp scholarships is available on our website.  A full schedule of summer camp offerings is listed below.


June 15- 19

Dr. Seuss 1
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Kate Ayers
A Seuss inspired camp with songs and silliness and a play taking us to Whoville. Who knows?
Cost: $190

June 15- 19
Superheroes & Silliness
Ages: 4 to 6
Hours: 9:30 am- noon
Teacher: Vanessa Postil
Pretend play, stories, songs, and games will help these Heroes-in-Training to feel empowered, strong, and confident. Campers will each get a super cape and create their own super characters!
Cost: $90


Olympia Family Theater's new location is on 4th Avenue, across from City Hall.

Olympia Family Theater’s new location is on 4th Avenue, across from City Hall.

June 22- 26
Broadway Kids
Ages: 6 to 9
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Vanessa Postil
Musical Theater FUN for all skill levels where campers discover their artistic voice through creative play! Students will be immersed musical theater training in acting, dance, singing, improvisation, auditioning techniques, and much more! We will SHOWCASE our work for friends and family on the last day of camp!
Cost: $190

WEEK 2 & 3
June 22- July 3
Slam Poetry/ Spoken Word
Ages: 12 to 17
Hours: 4 – 6 pm
Teacher: Brian McCracken
An energetic and experimental workshop using performance techniques to bring poetry to life. Exploring the page In week 1- crafting poems that we’ll bring to life in week 2. Bring a sense of fun, a readiness to explore your voice- taking another step on the path of great storytelling. No experience necessary!
Cost: $125

June 29- July 3
Riding a Tornado!!
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Kate Ayers
Put on a show all about American Tall Tales! Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind and Sal Fink the Mississippi Screamer! Use your apron as a sail, wrestle an octopus, and dance with a bear.
Cost: $190

July 6- 10
Stinky Cheese Man
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Amy Shephard
Come and join in the fun- You’ve heard of the Gingerbread Boy? Well this is NOT that story. This is the story of the Stinky Cheese Man! A farcical fairy tale full of laughs and unexpected turns, this play will involve comedy, movement, and creative acting skills.
Cost: $190


olympia family theater

During Summer camps, students enjoy acting, playing and just being silly at Olympia Family Theater.
Photo credit: Mandy Ryle

July 13- 17
Comedy Camp “Make ‘em Laugh”
Ages: 9 & up
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Vanessa Postil
Camp for aspiring comedians/comic actors- exploring the world of improvisation, sketch and stand-up comedy. Through theater and improv games and ensemble-building activities students will build the performance skills necessary to deliver an impressive and hilarious end-of-session show for friends and family.
Cost: $190

July 20- 24
Dr. Seuss Too
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Mandy Ryle
A Seuss inspired camp with songs and silliness and a play taking us to Whoville. Who knows?
Cost: $190

July 20- 24
Teddy Bear Picnic
Ages: 5 to 6
Hours: 9:30 am- noon
Teacher: Vanessa Postil
“If you go into the woods today…” you’ll find a week of games, stories, songs, and fun inspired by the “Teddy Bear Picnic”! A perfect camp for students to get their very first taste of theater in an educational and safe learning environment!
Cost: $90

July 27- 31
Don’t Wake the Giant
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Jen Ryle
Put on a show! This story is set in a town built at the foot of a mountain that is a sleeping giant. You had better whisper and tip toe, and Shhhh! or you’ll wake him. Everything changes when Carolinda Clatter comes along- you won’t believe it!
Cost: $190

August 3- 7
Never Never Land
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Kate Ayers
The Adventures will never never stop in our story of Never Neverland! Mermaids’ Lagoon, Marooner’s Rock, Crocodile Creek, and Pixie Hollow! Swordfights, flying, swimming, and encounters with Pixies, Pirates, Mermaids, Lost Boys, and Tiger Lily! SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT AND STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING!
Cost: $190


olympia family theater


August 10- 14
Broadway Kids 2
Ages: 10 & up
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Vanessa Postil
Musical Theater FUN for all skill levels where campers discover their artistic voice through creative play! Students will be immersed musical theater training in acting, dance, singing, improvisation, auditioning techniques, and much more! We will SHOWCASE our work for friends and family on the last day of camp!
Cost: $190

August 17- 21
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Mandy Ryle
What’s going on with the weather? Join us for the creation of a play about the most hilarious tale of the town of Chew and Swallow. How will we be saved from this tidal wave of food? This week will be full of acting and prop making fun!
Cost: $190

August 24- 28
A Dragon in the Mix
Ages: 7 to 12
Hours: 9 am- 3 pm
Teacher: Jen Ryle
Rehearse and perform a fairy tale farce! Combine one royal family full of bored princesses dying to have an adventure, with mischievous fairies, lost knights, and oh- did we mention a Dragon?
Cost: $190

August 24- 28
Adventures with Lowly the Worm
Ages: 5 to 6
Hours: 9:30 am- noon
Teacher: Vanessa Postil
Spend a week of fun with Lowly the Worm, creating short plays together inspired by the beloved storytelling of Richard Scarry! A perfect camp for students to get their very first taste of theater in an educational and safe learning environment!
Cost: $90


Country Singer Aaron Lewis’ Defense of a Young Girl Leads to a Surprise from Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 7:23pm



By Nikki McCoy

lucky eagleAs Johnny Cash played in the background and beverages were passed around, anticipation filled the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel event center Saturday night as a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,000 waited for Aaron Lewis to take the stage.

But little did they know the country singer was about to get a surprise.

With lowered lights and hushed audience, Chehalis Tribe members, along with the Executive Director of SafePlace, climbed on stage with an over-sized check.

aaron lewis

Aaron Lewis (far left) gets close with Chehalis Tribal Enterprises CEO Rodney Youckton, while SafePlace Executive Director Mary Pontarolo gives thanks and Tribal Member Danny “Bones” Gleason looks on.

Rodney Youckton, CEO of Chehalis Tribal Enterprises gave a synopsis of what happened at a concert last June where a teenage girl was being pinched and fondled while crowd-surfing. Lewis stopped mid-song to make sure the young men knew he disapproved.

“You should all be beaten down by everyone around you,” was just the tip of the profanity-riddled verbal assault Lewis gave the young men responsible.

Lewis’ fierce defense of the girl moved Lucky Eagle CEO John Setterstrom to donate a $2500 check, on behalf of Lewis, to SafePlace, a non-profit advocacy agency and confidential shelter for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Thurston County.

Tribal members presented the check to Lewis, and after responding simply, “I just did what any father of three little girls would have done,” he hugged CEO of Chehalis Tribe Enterprises, Rodney Youckton, and the crowd exploded into applause.

“It was very, very, honorable for calling out those guys for their poor behavior and choice. We are very honored and thankful for what he did,” said Youckton.

“I think it’s awesome what he did,” agreed Danny “Bones” Gleason, tribal elder and 5th council member, who thanked Lewis for his act, and encouraged him to “keep on saving.”

SafePlace Executive Director Mary Pontarolo, who was present to receive the donation, was glad to bring awareness to a demographic that normally doesn’t get reached – country music fans.

aaron lewis

Rocker turned country star Aaron Lewis brought his high-energy show to Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel recently.

“This is a great country crowd tonight,” said Pontarolo. “I’m honored to be on the same stage as this man. I’ve listened to the YouTube video I don’t know how many times. It’s not very often that a man would stand up and try and protect us and I appreciate the fact that Aaron did.”

“I think it is great,” she said off stage. “I love to be able to talk to a group of people that love country music, particularly about our issues and to dispel myths. I just think it’s an important message and this is a good group to be able to share the information with.”

I spoke with a variety of audience members, and while everyone knew of Aaron Lewis’ music, only a few knew about the back story to the donation they just witnessed.

As I explained about SafePlace and the concert, people were impressed.

“That’s my kinda guy,” replied one man dressed in camo. “I’m not surprised, he’s really cool,” said another.

And another gave kudos to the casino for getting involved.

“It’s something our CEO felt strongly about,” said Kevin Burrus, Advertising Director for Lucky Eagle. “We felt Aaron’s actions reflected the Chehalis Tribe and Lucky Eagle, and is something we try to embody… and we try to support organizations like SafePlace -it’s a giving back thing.”

After the gifting ceremony, Lewis began his concert by asking the audience to join him in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then eased into his set-list with his signature voice and crowd-favorite, “Country Boy.”

And as I looked around to the couples with arms around each other, the faces of people moved by music, and tribal members and employees with big smiles, it was comforting to know that Lewis’ one act of defending one girl, has made an impact on so many people.


Claire Smith Wins State Drill Down Championship as Capital Cougarette

Thurston Talk - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 1:15pm



By Amy Rowley

russell bode dentistryThe college-sized basketball court fills with more than 200 drill team members, all state qualifiers from 1A, 2A and 3A high schools. Each competitor stands ready, at attention, to receive a list of commands. The Drill Down competition occurs at the end of a long day of performances. To win this competition, you must be completely focused, shutting out all distractions. You are performing on your own, show the judges your very best.

capital drill team

Claire Smith (back center) and the Capital Cougarette Dance Team placed second in military at the state tournament.  Photo credit: Amy Mullin.

Claire Smith, a sophomore at Capital High School and a first year drill team member, describes Drill Down as a “hard core version of Simon Says.” She’s quick to add, “This makes it sounds childish. It’s very complicated.”

“It’s crazy how intense the Drill Down is,” adds Claire’s coach, Jan Kiefer. “You must get into a mental zone that requires an extraordinary amount of focus.”

A caller announces commands that could include a series of pivots or turns, along with hand movements. Sometimes you are marching while you memorize the order of the commands. The caller also may change the cadence, insert a hesitation or other tricks to try to make the competitors lose concentration or miss a beat.

When the Yakima Valley Sun Dome filled with state-qualified high school drill teams, Claire took the floor with her Capital Cougarette teammates. She explains that during the first few rounds each participant is on their honor to sit down after a mistake. There are simply too many competitors for the judges to watch each movement. “It’s simply disrespectful to not honor your mistake,” says Claire.

As Claire advanced further in the Drill Down competition, the commands became more complex, the caller’s tricks more intense. A quick flinch or even a hesitation can result in elimination. “My heart was pounding so fast that I was shaking. I was worried that this slight movement would get me eliminated,” she recalls.

But it was this adrenaline rush that Claire was searching for. “It’s so empowering,” she adds.

As the Drill Down continued, three of Coach Kiefer’s Capital Cougarette drill team members were in the finals.  Alongside Claire was Kathy Ly and Vivian Ha who finished fifth.

capital high school drill team

Once full of more than 200 Drill Down competitors, only two participants – Claire Smith (front, in black) and Becka Heelan –  are left standing. Claire will ultimately win the state championship.  Photo credit: Amy Mullin.

Finally, it was Claire and Becka Heelan from Elma High School. “There were a couple thousand people in the audience,” recalls Coach Kiefer. “You could have heard a pin drop. That’s how intense the final round was. I found myself whispering ‘come on, Claire.’”

Claire shut out the audience and focused only on the caller’s series of commands. Becka performed one hand command. Claire did a different one. “I knew right then that Claire had won. I didn’t need to wait for the judges,” says Coach Kiefer. “Our team exploded, jumping up and down, cheering and yelling. It was a great moment.”

“Both her mom and I are so proud of Claire,” says her dad, Steve, who was watching intently in the audience. “We know how hard the coaches and the girls work throughout the year and this was an awesome experience.”

“In that moment, I had so much pride in my team. I was able to show everyone that I do pay attention and that I’m good at following commands,” says Claire.

Claire will treasure her 1st place Drill Down medal. “It’s so hard for anyone to win Drill Down,” adds Coach Kiefer. “For Claire, in her first year of drill team, this is simply amazing. It’s unheard of for a first year participant to win.”

capital high school drill team

Coach Jan Kiefer praises Claire Smith’s dedication and focus. Here she is crowned champion of the state Drill Down competition.

“Claire is so focused and determined. She is one of the most coachable kids that I’ve had on our drill team in a long time,” summarizes Coach Kiefer. “You can see the results of Claire’s hard work. She keeps getting better and better.”

Claire notes that the drill team has spent more than 700 hours on practice throughout the year. “Drill team takes so much dedication but it feels so good at the end. It’s taught me a lot about the power of positive thinking. I’ve also learned the value of stepping up, even if something seems tough.”

Claire is already looking towards next year when she returns to drill team. “I hope that I have improved. I want to put myself in a position that will make me a very valuable dancer to the team.”

She also credits her coaches with the success that the Capital High School team had at the state competition, placing 2nd in 3A military, 2nd in 3A pom, and 3rd in 1A, 2A, and 3A dance. This was the first year for the Capital Cougarette Dance Team to compete in the dance routine and the group is quite proud of their performance.

“Our coaches shape our team,” says Claire. “They are the reason our team is as good as it is. Not only are they good coaches but they are good people. This was my way of showing them how much they are worth to me.”

The Capital Cougarette Dance Team will be holding tryouts during April. To learn more about the team, follow them on Facebook.

Syndicate content