Yes, I was in Maui earlier this month. My Alaska family and I gathered in Maui to enjoy the sun and sand. I couldn’t resist buying this postcard in Maui… AFTER I purchased the postcard my sister pointed out this refers to marijuana… all I saw was the BUS! LOL :-0
Little 18-month old Norah, my grand niece, seemed to definitely enjoy the sand; a taste of Hawaii!
Now, about the public transit service in Maui. Roberts of Hawaii is a big tour company that has a huge presence in the private tour business, but they also operate the public transit service as well as school bus service.
We were staying in the little town on Paia, about 15 minutes east of the airport and on the road to Hana.
The connections to the major towns in Maui are excellent. I caught Bus 35 (Haiku Islander) just before 11 am at the Kuau Mart, which was a block from the house we rented. That bus took me to the Kaahumanu Shopping Center in Kahului, arriving just before 11:30. The next bus (Route 20) left just a few minutes after 11:30. That bus stops at the Maalaea Harbor, which is one of the locations for whale watch and fishing boats. The bus drives alongside the ocean for most of the rest of this leg. A great place to catch views of whales spy hopping and/or venting. And, as you well know, when you’re NOT driving and up high in a bus, you can see a lot more than riding in a car! The bus arrived in Lahania, behind the Wharf Cinema building and a block from Front Street and the Banyan Tree, at 12:30.
I enjoyed a cheeseburger at “Cheeseburgers in Paradise”, and strolled Front Street to browse the many art galleries and little shops. The HUGE banyan tree (really multiple trees), taking up a whole block next to the boat harbor and the infamous Pioneer Inn, is a good place for sit and enjoy the shade for a bit.
Returning home was just as easy and with the same great connections.
A day pass is only $4.00. The buses were clean and air conditioned. I estimate that about 1/3 of the passengers were tourists. I heard a couple talking about taking a whale watch tour (they got off the bus at the Maalaea harbor).
I could have continued my trip beyond Lahania to Kaanapali and the Whaler’s Village. I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to do so… NEXT time!
From today's inbox (a little late to really be useful... but at least you know it's happening.)
Olympia workers and community supporters
launching campaign for citywide $15 minimum wage
TODAY, low-wage workers from Olympia will gather at Sylvester Park, march to Olympia City Hall and call on their local government to pass a citywide $15 minimum wage law and advance workers rights in the city of Olympia.
Thursday, March 12, 2015 in the City of Olympia
Low-wage workers from Olympia, joined by local community supporters, launch a campaign for a citywide $15 minimum wage law.
- 1:45 pm: Gather at Sylvester Park: 600 Capitol Way S, Olympia, WA 98501
- 2:00 pm: March to Olympia City Hall and then rally for $15: 601 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA 98501
Workers and supporters will carry signs and banners reading “Olympia: it’s the wages” and “$15 for Olympia”. Follow along online at #oly15.
Supporters of the Olympia $15 campaign include Working Washington, SEIU 775NW, WFSE/AFSCME Local 443, SEIU 1199NW, and UFCW 21.
33% of Olympia’s workers are paid less than $15/hour, according to an analysis of Census data.
Eight of the ten fastest-growing jobs in our economy pay poverty wages of less than $15/hour — jobs like food service, retail, and homecare.
Half of the population of Olympia are renters, and median rent in Olympia is $904/month. It takes a full-time paying $17.38/hour to afford that rent level at standard affordability calculations.
Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington: 206-227-6014, firstname.lastname@example.orgGoogle Plus One Facebook Like
Submitted by City of Olympia
Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of a new playground at Sunrise Park, 505 Bing St. NW at 4:00 p.m., Monday, March 30th. New play features include six slides, four swings, two spinning toys and more. Come out and be one of the first to try out the new equipment!
The new playground equipment replaces playground equipment that was 21 years old and at the end of its design life. Sunrise Park is a 6-acre neighborhood park in West Olympia, approximately three blocks northwest of the intersection of Harrision and Division near the Westside Fire Station. The park was dedicated in 1995 and features a community garden, basketball, picnic areas, a restroom, a sledding hill and a playground.
For more information, please contact Jonathon Turlove, Associate Planner, at 360.753.8068 or email@example.com.
Submitted by Schoolhouse Coffee
Schoolhouse Coffee, a new locally owned cafe, has opened at 3205 Willamette Blvd in Lacey and will be celebrating their grand opening on Friday and Saturday March 13-14 with drink specials and live music. The cafe serves specialty coffee from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., made to order la Marzocco espresso drinks, house made smoothies and fruit, pastries by Left Bank Pastry, artesanal toast by Essential Baking Company, sandwiches and more. There is ample indoor seating available for customers to stay and enjoy and a drive-thru for those on the go. An outdoor seating area will be installed to take advantage of the approaching summer weather.
The building is reminiscent of a historic one room schoolhouse with vaulted ceilings and a central clerestory that creates a cheerful, light-filled space. The owners, Trina and Barry Jespersen, named their business after the building and the interior carries the motif subtly inside with a beautiful tile feature wall in a composition paper pattern, a large community table with routed pencil trays and schoolhouse inspired art and décor. Many of the bespoke fixtures and materials used in the buildout were sourced and built locally. The interior was designed by Roussa Cassel, signage hand painted by local legend Ira Coyne and sustainably sourced maple wood tables, wall cladding and bases by Windfall Lumber. The interior build-out was carried out by Barry Jespersen himself, who owns and operates Oyster Bay Construction.
The Hawks Prairie area in northeast Lacey is known for its beginnings as a commercial and industrial development. But recent trends towards residential have brought demand for neighborhood oriented retail to serve the needs of residents and employees. Schoolhouse Coffee shares a parking lot with the Lacey Learning Center (preschool and child care) and the Jubilee retirement community and golf course are just down the road.
The Jespersens have been extremely pleased with the outpouring of support and excitement from the community during the construction phase. At a recent open house, the cafe was filled with folks of all ages who had driven, walked, and biked from the surrounding area to celebrate a unique addition to the neighborhood.
Regular hours are 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekdays, and 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. weekends.
Members of the Thurston County community will be running for rainbows during the 1st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Gold Run 5K this weekend. The runner’s sights are set not only on the finish line but also on a pot of gold that will go to a very worthy cause – Friends of Mia.
“Casey and I are Mia’s parents and founded the organization shortly after Mia passed in 2012,” explains co-founder and mother, LeLani Benavente. She got sick when she was 2. Mia was diagnosed with High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We created the foundation to help offset our medical expenses and help raise awareness to childhood cancer.”
After a three year battle with cancer, sadly, Mia passed away in 2012. “We wanted to keep the foundation going in honor of her memory. There are so many families in our area dealing with childhood illnesses. We want to help connect to these families and continue to support the fight against cancer.”
Part of supporting that fight is by creating fundraisers like the St. Patrick’s Day Gold Run 5K. “We want to engage our community,” explains Benavente. “Mia got sick in March of 2009 so this event really ties back to that moment in our lives. I remember her eating a green bagel she was in isolation at the hospital. This run is something anyone can be a part of to help bring awareness and raise money for cancer research.”
All of the money raised during the run will go directly to Seattle Children’s Childhood Cancer Research. “That hospital and those doctors did so much for us,” says Benavente. “There are so many children here, in town, dealing with treatment. We are raising money to help fund research into t-cell therapy. It is a very new treatment but it could eliminate chemotherapy. It has fewer side effects which can make a big difference in a child’s life. It means a lot to us to be able to fund that continued effort.”
The goal of the run isn’t just the funds raised, but overall awareness in our community. “Awareness is super important to us,” adds Benavente. “We want people to know there are resources and they aren’t alone. We hear about new kids that are diagnosed and try to embrace their families. We want to try to help them through it. We want the community to know about these families and embrace them as well.”
The family friendly race will start from O’Blarney’s Irish Pub rain or shine. “During Mia’s service we were able to see a double rainbow. It reminded me of Mia’s beautiful spirit. Ever since then, rainbows really speak to our family. If it rains this weekend, we won’t just be running, will be hunting for rainbows.”
Faster Runners start at 8:30 a.m. with joggers, walkers, and strollers beginning at 8:40 a.m. Last minute registration includes a Green Beer (21+w/ID) at O’Blarney’s and a raffle ticket for prizes.
Registration is $30.00 for adults and $7.00 for kids ages 12 and under.
All proceeds will benefit Friends of Mia and support Childhood Cancer Research Seattle Children’s Hospital.
By Lindsey Surrell
The Irish in each of us shines through with the celebration of St Patrick’s Day. If your celebration style for the holiday is more for the green beer, live music, and delicious Irish food, check out one (or more!) of these local spots for St. Patty’s Day fun.
Saturday, March 14
Head 15 miles northwest of Olympia to listen to Irish music by Tiller’s Folly and a U2 Tribute Band, Hollywood U2, while enjoying beer, spirits, and specialty Irish food. $10 includes 10 tasting tickets and a souvenir keepsake mug.
Start time: 3:00 p.m.
Where better than an Irish pub to celebrate Saint Patrick all week long? Two opportunities on Saturday to watch Irish Dancers while drinking green beer and eating a special Irish stew: one at noon and one at 6:00 p.m. In between, listen to the Olympia Highlanders Pipes and Drums. And later that night, a DJ will be playing from 9:00 p.m.- 1:00 a.m.
Start time: 12:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Day: Tuesday, March 17
Sit back and enjoy the scenery of being right on the water while listening to an Irish band and drinking green beer, perhaps even after a kayak adventure (weather depending). Also, Tugboat Annies continues the St. Patrick’s Day festivities every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. with live Irish music.
Start time: approximately 1:00 p.m.
Listen to one of the largest pipe bands in the Pacific Northwest, Clan Gordon Pipe Band, while enjoying an Irish Reuben and Corned Beef and Cabbage. St. Patrick’s Day drink specials, including Irish Stout from the Nitro tap and Irish coffee, will surely make your skills on the 22-foot shuffleboard table and pinball games even better.
Start time: 8:00 p.m.
Gather your group of friends and head to the Office Bar and Grill and celebrate the holiday in matching Derby hats- free for the first 100 customers in the door. While complimenting each other’s hats, enjoy the green beer and Corned Beef Sandwich with side for only $4.99.
Start time: 5:00 p.m.
Continue in the weeklong events at O’Blarney’s with two opportunities to listen to live Irish music while enjoying specials on green beer and Guinness: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. In between, listen to Olympia Highlanders Pipes and Drums. At 7:00 p.m., That Irish Guy takes the stage to play Irish folk songs. Fill up on Irish favorites from the kitchen, including Bangers and Mash and Corned Beef and Cabbage.
Start time: 11:00 a.m.
Local brewery Fish Tale is inaugurating two new beers at 5:00 p.m. – Over and Out Oatmeal Stout and Hodgsons Double IPA. Enjoy $1 off select pints while listening to Bagpipe players. The pub’s new chef also has a special menu of Scotch Eggs and Corned Beef Brisket served all day long.
Start time: 11:00 a.m.
Did you know that the complexities of a bagpipe can take years of study to master? Give the players an extra round of applause this St. Patty’s Day while enjoying drink specials and Corned Beef and Cabbage at 4th Ave Tavern.
Start time: 7:00 p.m.
Whichever place you choose to celebrate the culture and heritage of the Irish, stay responsible and wear green.
By Holly Smith Peterson
Lacey has welcomed its first distillery, and the first organic such business in Thurston County – Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs.
“So far so good,” says general manager Sandy Desner. “It’s going great, and it’s been very, very, very busy,”
That’s an understatement for the brand-new business whose only promotion has been word of mouth. To walk-in customers alone, the distillery sold roughly 20 cases — 200 to 300 bottles — in its first week.
“And that was just people who wandered in and wanted to see what we have or take a taste,” he explains.
Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs was actually the inspiration of Desner’s son, Sam, who for years had been experimenting with different liqueur concoctions at home. Vexed by the lack of organic ingredients available, about five years ago he began making his own organic liqueurs with all-natural and organic flavorings and herbs. Two years later, he wrote up a business plan, which both father and son saw could be brought to life.
“When we realized that the business was actually viable, we decided to give it a go,” Sam says.
How the business found its name and its way to Lacey was, “a fun little adventure,” he adds. The hunt for a building first took them to Squaxin Island, where a 40,000 square foot warehouse had potential for functioning as the distillery site, storage and distribution area, and tasting room. Although that deal didn’t work out, it did inspire the name Salish Sea, from the waters surrounding the island.
“The majority of our ingredients aren’t based in Washington State because the quality and quantities of what we need aren’t available,” says Sam. “So we wanted the name to bring the focus of the business back to our location, and Thurston County.”
Adds Sandy, “We wanted to reflect the environment of the Pacific Northwest and a product that was organic. We also wanted to recognize and respect the South Sound community.”
As for the Lacey location, the Desners kept on with their search for a high-quality, good-looking manufacturing space in Thurston County. When they saw that the space adjacent to the already popular Stottle Winery and tasting room was open, they knew they had the perfect fit.
If there’s a future distillery hotspot on the “Ale Trail” that Lacey is quickly developing, Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs is likely it. As the duo describe the business, they produce “handcrafted, small-batch, USDA-certified, top-quality fruit and herbal organic liqueurs created via cold maceration — a concept that’s completely unique to the area.”
What’s not in Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs – additives, artificial flavors, artificial coloring, and preservatives. What they infuse is simply real herbs and flowers. The uses for the flavorings are myriad, but in particular for sipping on their own, for cocktail infusions, and for additions to culinary endeavors. Some of Sam’s favorites include hibiscus-infused syrup for french toast and pancakes, sage liqueur brushed on grilled chicken, and lemongrass liqueur drizzled on barbecue shrimp.
There’s no surprise behind Sam’s enthusiasm for the liqueurs, given that he’s the genius inventing the flavorings. Mixologist training and years of concocting unique flavors at home have given him a feel for both what will work and what customers will prefer. Which ideas he decides to run with for the business begin with browsing through catalogs of drinks and ingredients, plus mulling over suggestions from friends.
“Of the first 11 experimental batches, five turned out well, three were abysmal, and the rest were a work in transition,” he describes.
Right now, Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs offers 16 different fruit and herbal liqueurs, with six more — amaretto, grapefruit, jasmine, limoncello, nectarine and vanilla — on the way. Since he tempers all to his own personal palate, Sam declines to pick a favorite when asked.
However, the bestseller is ginger, followed by raspberry, made of the leaf rather than the berry itself to provide an extra flavor boost. The latter is particularly popular for making raspberry tea. Another quick-seller is rose petal liqueur, useful in both a “good-night” glass of milk and orange frosting.
“The possibilities are endless, as far as what people suggest and how to use the flavors in new ways,” he says.
The flavors currently available include anisette, chrysanthemum, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, hibiscus, honeysuckle, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, red raspberry, rosemary, rose petal, sage, spiced anisette and thyme coriander. Bottle prices range from $20 for a pint to $30 and up for a fifth, with alcohol content between 16% and 23%.
Sandy and Sam’s goals for the immediate future are to stay small, catering to the public and a range of exclusive clients. In the coming months, Sam also envisions opening an exclusive liqueur club, similar to a wine club. Currently the Desners’ target market is those who purchase a half case to a case annually. Salish Sea also has plans to approach high-end Seattle restaurants and other dining venues in the immediate area to use their liqueurs on a regular basis.
Flavor-wise, Sam is eventually aiming to create an organic absinthe, as well as gin and fruit brandies. And if you find something you like there while on a tasting stop, you’d better buy it. Many flavors are seasonal and sell out quickly until the next batches are distilled.
All in all, the work is very labor-intensive and time-consuming, Sam emphasizes. But, more importantly, it’s challenging and satisfying.
“The best thing about this job is being able to do what I love to do and to make my own hours,” he says. “To no small degree, this business consumes your life.”
2641 Willamette Drive NE, Suite D in Lacey
Wednesday through Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
For more details, visit http://www.salishseaorganicliqueurs.com.
Submitted by Joint Animal Services
Awareness is the key to preventing poisoning emergencies. It only takes a few minutes to educate yourself on how to pet-proof appropriately and avoid a possible heart-breaking situation. Follow the same general tips for humans to protect your animals. In addition to those precautions here are some tips especially for your pet:
If you think your pet may have ingested something harmful take action immediately. Contact your veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 (there is a charge for these services).
Submitted by Dan Martinez, Keller Williams Realty South Sound
The stock market is at all-time highs. The economy seems to be on the mend. You are feeling better about your investments but historical events still make you wary about future growth or the next crash, so you have reluctantly kept a good portion of your savings in low interest securities to avoid significant losses of your hard earned dollars.
However, you know you are losing ground to inflation and wonder if there is a better way to get a higher return without being exposed to significant risks. If you have funds that could use a higher return and you understand real estate, Private Lending could be a strategic part of your portfolio.
What is Private Lending?
Private lending is a loan,usually given to a real estate investor, which is secured by real estate. Private money lenders are given a first or second mortgage that secures their legal interest in the property and secures their investment. When a property is found, private lenders are given the opportunity to fund the purchase and/or rehab costs of the home. Through this process, the lender can yield interest rates several times highter than the rates available on bank CD’s and other traditional investment plans.
Essentially, private money lending is your opportunity to operate like a”be the bank”, collecting interest on a secured property. It’s a great way to generate cash flow and obtain a predictable income stream, while at the same time, provide security and safety for your principle investment. Like a bank , you can make a profitable return on investment backed by real estate.
Sources of Funding for Private Lenders
How the Process Works
The process is simple. The investor finds a property, which meets specific yield requirements, and sends theproposal to the Private Lender for review. The investor borrows the funds from the Private Lender to purchase and renovate the property. At closing, the Lender receives a mortgage on the home along with other important documents. Next stage is the property renovation. Once the renovations are complete (typically 3-6 months depending on the size of the project), the property is listed and sold. When it’s time for closing, the Lender receives their principle plus agreed upon interest payment. The goal is to keep turning that money so it continues to work hard for you.
Is it Really Safe?
Obviously, no guarantees can be made about investment safety and returns. However, real estate provides safeguards that are familiar and understandable to most people. In this scenario, the investment properties are purchased at below market value so they typically come with equity. You get to decide which properties you want for your investment. Market risk is minimized since funds are commonly on loan for less than 6 months.
For your protection, there are three primary documents securing your investment.
Promissory Note: This is your collateral for your investment capital
Deed of Trust/Mortgage: This is the document that is recorded with the county clerk and recorder to publicly secure your investment against the real property that we are providing as collateral
Hazard Insurance Policy: This is where you as the private lender would be listed as the “Mortgagee” for your protection in case of fire or natural disaster, etc.
In addition, investors will be working hard on your behalf since they don’t make any money if you don’t make money. They also want to gain your trust and confidence in developing a long term relationship for the opportunity to borrow funds on future projects.
Does Anyone Really do This?
I’m glad you asked! I am currently investing in real estate as a Private Lender using three different strategies.
Do your Homework
As with any investment, you need to educate yourself and consult professionals such as real estate attorneys and CPAs to determine if private lending is an appropriate strategy for your portfolio. However, with some effort you can get “lazy” dollars working much harder for you and achieve your financial goals sooner. There are many online resources and books available to assist you in learning how to lend safely and profitably. Your local Realtor® will likely know of investors who are familiar with the private lending process and willing to pay a higher interest in order fund more projects.
Best wishes in your all of your investing endeavors.
Private Lending 101 – a good place to get started learning more.
Submitted by Saint Martin’s University
Five students at Saint Martin’s University recently received several awards and two scholarships totaling $3,000 during the Annual Pacific Northwest Circle K District Convention, which was hosted in DuPont and attended by approximately 12 clubs from the Pacific Northwest area.
The 24-member Saint Martin’s University Circle K Club also was recognized with the Outstanding Single Service Award for 2014-2015 for assisting the residents of the RooLan Retirement Home.
Circle K International (CKI) is the collegiate service organization associated with Kiwanis International. CKI has more than 12,000 student members on more than 500 campuses worldwide. It is a student-led organization with an elected International Board of Representatives. CKI tenets are leadership, fellowship and service at the club, district and international levels. The concept of present-day Circle K began at the collegiate level in 1936 at Washington State University.
The following individuals, as well as Kiwanis Club of North Thurston/Lacey, were honored during an awards ceremony hosted February 21.
The Kiwanis Club of North Thurston/Lacey received the Outstanding Sponsoring Club Award for its support of the Saint Martin’s University Circle K Club.
This year’s Club President, Jeremiah “JJ” Olson, is graduating in May. Bailey Cammann has been elected as the incoming Club President and will step into the role in May.
By Alyssa Ramsfield
The Homeless Backpacks organization began with one mission: to end homelessness, one student at a time. As the need in our area continues to grow, the organization grows along with it. (Read the history of the local nonprofit organization here.) Many teens are fed through government funded programs during the day, but when they leave school for the weekend, there aren’t many nutritional options. This is where Homeless Backpacks jumps in – providing meals for hungry kids throughout the weekend.
“My husband Dan and I got involved with Homeless Backpacks in November 2012 when they needed volunteers for their Annual Bountiful Harvest Auction,” explains Homeless Backpacks board member, Shelley Nicholson. “It was a huge eye opener for both of us. We had no clue how many homeless students were in our community. Homeless Backpacks is truly a special program.”
Homeless Backpacks works to feed teens through a simple solution: backpacks filled with food. “The schools do an amazing job of making sure students have a healthy breakfast and lunch during the school week,” says Nicholson.
“Our hope is to take away that worry from students who do not have food at home when the school bell rings on Friday afternoon. We answer the question about where their meals will come from all weekend. We are there to fill in that gap by providing weekend food bags, filled with foods kids will actually eat,” adds Nicholson.
The organization runs on partnerships between volunteers and donations. This year, they have worked to get students involved. “We asked our friends from Hometown Property Management and Dzines if they would like to be PIE Partners with us and join forces making this an amazing year for Aspire Middle School students. They happily agreed since their son is a current Aspire student,” explains Nicholson. “When we sat down for our first meeting with Aspire, we laid out a plan to go hand in hand with the Compassion Program North Thurston Public Schools is sharing with students and the community at large. We wanted the students to have an opportunity to give back – thus showing compassion but in a unique way. So we thought…kids helping kids. Homeless Backpacks is a perfect fit for this.”
“I have really enjoyed the partnership with Aspire Middle school this year,” adds Hometown Property Management owner, Andrew Barkis. “Working with the students and seeing their genuine concern for others has been incredible.”
This partnership with the school has been a yearlong work in progress. “In the fall, all Aspire students wrote a short note to Homeless Backpacks students that were sent out over Thanksgiving,” explains Nicholson. “In January, Aspire held a school-wide food drive to college items for the Homeless Backpacks bags. In March, the final stage of this project is a school wide bagging party.”
“I hope that when the students get older and become a part of the working community they remember seeing businesses such as Dzines and Hometown Property Management give back to the schools and are inspired to do the same,” adds Nicholson.
The partnership with the students of Aspire has made an impact. “I think that students partnering up with Homeless Backpacks is a good idea,” describes Aspire 8th grader, Maile Brown. “We can learn about how to do community service and learn what it is like for others who aren’t as fortunate as us. It shows us that there are other kids who don’t have enough food. It makes me sad but it also makes me feel like I can help them.”
With students helping students, the future is bright for Homeless Backpacks. “It is easy to put blinders on and think that in such a clean well-kept community such as Lacey that there is no homelessness, but that in fact is not true,” says Nicholson.
Homeless Backpacks is currently serving over 400 students a week with weekend food bags. “These kids all have unique stories…some are couch hopping, some living in cars (with or without their families), some are staying in shelters or homeless camps in the area,” says Nicholson.
“I truly hope that the Aspire students are humbled by this experience and are aware that someday they may be sitting in class next to a homeless student or be one themselves. I know as a kid it is hard to think you can be part of solving the problem, but just knowing where to go for help can make a difference in a student’s life,” summarizes Nicholson.
For more information on Homeless Backpacks or to become a volunteer visit http://www.homelessbackpacks.org/
By Gail Wood
Rather than panic and throw his hands up in despair, worrying about their new, last-minute coach and fretting about not having their ace-in-the-hole pitcher for the entire season because of an injury, Taylor Adams is focusing on the positives.
And a Timberline Blazers’ baseball team loaded with talent has lots of reason to be optimistic.
“Right now, we’re just trying to stay positive,” said Adams, a center fielder and a returning starter off last year’s team that won a league title. “Really, I think this will be about our seniors and how we lead, how we take on the challenge.”
It’s a talented group of seniors. Six of them have signed baseball scholarship offers. However, the best of them, Matt Mercer, who will pitch for the Oregon Ducks next season, is out for the season, recovering from tendon surgery in his elbow.
“That hurts a lot not having Matt,” said Adams, who has accepted a baseball scholarship to Tacoma Community College. “He’s a great player.”
Adams and his teammates got a surprise when Matt Acker, a former college coach with a reputation for developing talent, announced he wasn’t returning to coach at Timberline a week before the season started. Mark Rubadue, a Timberline teacher who had coached the Blazers baseball team for seven years, became the emergency replacement.
“They asked me if I’d please, please do this,” said Rubadue, who coached the Blazers baseball team from 2004 to 2010. “It was a week before the season started. I told them I’d do it for the kids. The administration knew they needed to get someone in there who had done it. I said I’d do it.”
And Rubadue’s entire team breathed one big sigh of relief.
“Yeah, it was a surprise,” senior infielder Ryan Connor said about the sudden coaching change. “But right now we’re just trying not to focus on the past and focus on the right now. We have a great coach and a great coaching staff.”
Mercer just began throwing again and doesn’t want to push his recovery, risking injury. Although Mercer won’t play for the Blazers, he won’t miss a practice. He’ll be at every turnout, helping and doing whatever he can. He’s gone from being a star on the team to being the designated manager, a cheerleader giving support.
“It’s definitely going to be hard,” Mercer said at a recent practice. “Senior year you want to help your teammates, guys you’ve been playing with since you were about 10 years old. It’s going to be hard this season just watching. I’m glad Coach Rubadue has allowed me to come out and kind of be with the team and be with my teammates. I’ll contribute where I can.”
While Mercer wished he could play, the typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery is 12 to 14 months. He had the surgery in August, taking a slice of his hamstring and replacing the torn tendon in his elbow.
“Hopefully, I’ll start throwing off the mound maybe at the end of April,” Mercer said. “Nothing hard. I’ll work up to it. My goal is to be 100 percent when I go to Oregon.”
Timberline will miss Mercer’s bat and his pitching.
“Matt was a big part of our team last year,” Connor said. “Great pitcher, great infielder, great hitter – just a great player overall. But I think we have a lot of good guys who can help fill the role. I think we’ll still be good.”
Even with Mercer out, the Blazers are still loaded with talent. Besides Mercer and Adams, the Blazers have three more players who have already signed baseball scholarship offers. Joining Adams, Zach Owens and Connor are also headed to TCC. Jackson Spencer will pitch at Skagit Valley Community College and Chris Roy is signed to play for Lower Columbia College.
Last season, Adams batted .385, giving the Blazers a steady bat in the middle of the order. As a team, Timberline batted about .350 last year, helping them finish 23-3.
“It hurts not having Matt. He’s a great player, but we’ve got a lot of seniors,” Adams said. “Hopefully, we’ve got some guys who are ready to step up this year.”
Spencer is one of those seniors who could fill a big role pitching. While he’s not overpowering – his fastball is about 82 miles per hour – he’s crafty, mixing a changeup with his split-finger fastball and a wicked slider. Last summer while pitching for the Thurston County Saints, Spencer tossed a no-hitter. He’s also got an impressive pick-off move to first when a runner is on base.
“My dad taught it to me,” Spencer said. “I’ve been practicing it since I was little.”
Spencer, who is left handed and threw on the junior varsity last year, is optimistic about this year’s team.
“Our focus is just on playing baseball and having fun. And obviously winning games,” Spencer said. “That’s why we’re here.”
Connor was another steady hitter for the Blazers last season and batted .397.
“I think we’re pretty solid all around,” Connor said. “We lost a few guys pitching from last year’s seniors and Matt. I think overall we’re good in all areas.”
Timberline opens its season with a jamboree game on March 14 and opens its season on the following Monday.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm out there,” Rubadue said. “We’ll be ready to go.”