Recent local blog posts

Local History Lunch: Remembering Medicine Creek

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

Yogoman Burning Band, Drew Tabor and Anna Gordon

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

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

DREW TABOR … Los Angeles based solo acoustic, 945pm

ANNA GORDON … Olympia acoustic folk, 9pm

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Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Free Two-Part Naturescaping for Water & Wildlife Class

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

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

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

Every Kid a “Maker” at Timberland Regional Library

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



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library

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

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

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

Here is the back story:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gyro Spot Expands Mediterranean Fresh, Fast Food in Olympia

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



By Holly Smith Peterson

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

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

gyro spot olympia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gyro spot olympia

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

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

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

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

olympia restaurant gyro

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

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

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

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


Tumwater Auto Spa Collects Coats for the Little Red Schoolhouse Project

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



Submitted by Tumwater Auto Spa

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

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


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

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

For more information about Little Red Schoolhouse visit


So Much More Than Clay at the Olympia Center Ceramics Studio

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



By Gale Hemmann

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

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

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

olympia ceramics class

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia ceramics class

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

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

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

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

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


The Hipster Effect and other Models

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heddie Leone “Good Bad Girl”

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

Predators and Prey

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

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

Categories: Local Environment

LBA Woods Needs You Bad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Band-tailed Pigeon


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

For more information or support documents, go to





Categories: Local Environment

Bob Sullivan – Olympia’s Street Clock Collector, Connoisseur

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 7:19am



By Katie Doolittle

Edward Jones Block Ad“I’m sort of a frustrated twentieth-century archaeologist,” says Olympia resident Bob “Sully” Sullivan. It’s a pithy way to summarize his unusual and fascinating hobby: Sullivan is a collector and preservationist who researches and restores street clocks, antique automobiles, and “unusual mechanical things.”

As Sullivan describes his wide-ranging collection, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve tumbled into some sort of Steampunk Wonderland. His particular passion is for transitional technology or, as he puts it, “strange, unusual things–the odder the better.” This would explain why he’s sunk his time and treasure into refurbishing such items as a coin-operated orchestrion or a twelve-seater steam car.

lacey street clock

Bob Sullivan collects street clocks, antique automobiles, and “unusual mechanical things.”

Sullivan’s hobby is on vivid display on Lindell Road. Here in his front yard, Sullivan has installed a gorgeous, towering street clock. If time is of the essence–specifically, the essence of an era–then it’s no wonder this piece evokes both decadence and grace. First purchased in 1915, the clock originally stood at the corner of 2nd and Marion in Seattle. In those days, Sullivan tells me, “Seattle used to be called the City of Clocks. They had more street clocks than any other city in the United States.”

This particular clock was made by the Seattle-based manufacturing jewelers Joseph Mayer and Brothers, who started their company at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush and went on to become the leading west coast supplier of street clocks. According to Sullivan, Mayer clocks “are considered about the fanciest street clock that was made.”

“Fancy” doesn’t even begin to cover this massive fantasia of filigree and fleurs-de-lis. Lanterns and globe lights surround the four-faced clock, all supported by a Corinthian column erupting from a base of acanthus leaves. The total weight of this cast iron behemoth is somewhere around 8,500 pounds, and it’s all been painted in the Mayers’ iconic color combination of green and gilt.

When pressed to place the clock within a larger stylistic movement, Sullivan settles on Art Nouveau. However, he is quick to point out that this is commercial art meant to draw the eye, not necessarily to adhere to any particular aesthetic philosophy. Businesses (most often jewelers) would commission clocks as a form of advertising and then maintain them as a public service. Pedestrians could use the street clocks to check the time or reset their own watches.

New forms of advertising, coupled with the the rise of automobile traffic, rendered street clocks obsolete. “They ceased to be functional,” says Sullivan.

lacey street clock

The mechanical guts of a clock are more properly referred to as the movement.

But the urban landscape’s loss is the private collector’s gain. Ever since childhood, Sullivan has loved four-faced street clocks. In fact, he’s coveted this particular clock for years. “I just like street clocks,” says Sullivan. “I have no excuse, it’s just how I am. This is one thing I love.”

Sullivan opens a little door to provide a better view of the clock’s mechanical guts, otherwise known as the movement. Though some collectors update these inside parts to minimize hassle, Sullivan’s renovation remains true to the clock’s original gears and weights. As such, he has to hand-crank the clock every eight or nine days to keep it running properly. According to Sullivan, the well-maintained clock “keeps very good time; almost satellite time.”

Hardcore horologists may notice some slight updates to the clock. Sullivan, after all, is a practical purist. He replaced the glass door with bullet-proof plastic and protected the glass dial faces with aircraft-grade plastic.

I imagine restoring the Mayer clock as a Herculean task, but Sullivan shrugs it off. “It’s nothing exotic if you’re into clocks. It’s just big – very big.” I ask more questions to uncover the effort beneath his expertise. It turns out that moving a piece this size takes a crane, several people, and a truck. Literally, not an endeavor to be taken lightly!

Sadly, Sullivan’s neighbors will soon be treated to that very spectacle. Sullivan speaks of his decision to sell the clock to another private collector: “It’s a beautiful thing and I look at it every day and I’m sorry to see it go.” He estimates that it will be a couple of years before his other street clock is fully restored and bolted in the Mayer clock’s place.

Another street clock? Sullivan smiles. Oh, yes: a 1906 Howard clock with plenty of filigree and lights. There’s no telling how long it will take for the Howard’s full restoration, but I’m already planning to check back with Sullivan in 2016. Something tells me that the new clock will be more than worth the wait!


Van Soderberg’s Consistent Kicks Power Capital High School Football

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:35am



By Gail Wood

les schwabVan Soderberg had a life-changing experience when he was watching the 2006 Super Bowl on TV.

When Josh Brown kicked a 47-yard field goal to give the Seattle Seahawks a 3-0 lead in that game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Soderberg had an epiphany. He wanted to be a kicker.

van soderberg

Capital High School’s Van Soderberg has been consistent this year as the Cougars’ kicker.

“It just took off from there,” Soderberg said. “That’s what got me kicking.”

After that game, Soderberg went with his dad to the park and started kicking field goals. Now, nine years into Soderberg’s journey, he’s the kicker for the Capital High School Cougars, helping them place second in the 3A Narrows League and advance to the playoffs.

He’s been Mr. Automatic for the Cougars. His lone miss in PATs in 30-plus attempts was a block against North Thurston. On field goals, he went 7-for-8, only missing on a 50-yard attempt.

“He’s a really steady kicker,” said J.D. Johnson, Capital’s head football coach who led his team to a 7-3 record after Saturday’s 14-7 playoff loss to Mountlake Terrace. “I’d assume he’ll have some Division-I opportunities.”

Soderberg is already getting recruiting letters from colleges. Missouri has mailed several letters.

“That’s the end goal,” Soderberg said. “I’d love to get that opportunity to play in college.”

van soderberg

Van Soderberg waits for the snap to kick a Point After Touchdown (PAT) against North Thurston.

Soderberg isn’t kicking field goals, PATs and punting just because he couldn’t do anything else. He’s not a scrawny kid who couldn’t find another position to play. At 6-foot and 205 pounds, Soderberg, who can bench press 300 pounds and squat 500 pounds, has the size, strength and speed to play wide receiver, defensive back or even linebacker. But his calling is kicking.

“He could do some other things, but mama doesn’t want him to do other things,” Johnson said with a grin. “And we respect what mama says. But ultimately, he could probably play linebacker. He could do some other things. Over all, he’s our kicker and that’s what we let him do.”

Besides his accuracy on PATs and field goals, he’s also booming his kickoffs, repeatedly reaching the end zone. He’s kicked the ball into the end zone on 32 of 34 kickoffs. On his punts, he’s averaging nearly 50 yards a punt.

Against Central Kitsap, Soderberg’s 50-yard field goal attempt missed left with about four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with the score tied 0-0. Then on his game-winning 33-yard attempt in overtime, Soderberg got a chance at redemption.

van soderberg

After his team scored a touchdown, Van Soderberg prepares to kickoff against North Thurston.

“I had that miss in the back of my mind,” Soderberg said. “When I kicked it, I just tried to keep it straight.”

Soderberg’s kick split the uprights and pandemonium broke out. His teammates and Cougar fans rushed the field, celebrating the 3-0 win.

“It’s the moment that kickers dream of,” Soderberg said. “You don’t get a lot of opportunities to get any glory or be a huge part of the team. When you do get the chance all you think about is coming through because you know that’s going to be a time you’re going to have the most impact that you can.”

Pressure can do funny things to a kicker. With the outcome of a game hinging on their performance, easy chip shots can turn into dreaded misses. But Soderberg lives for that moment.

“He’s pretty good under pressure,” Johnson said. “I think he actually relishes it. I don’t think that pressure is a major component on his plate. I think he’s a pretty solid kid when it comes to that.”

While kickers are often off by themselves kicking as the rest of the team practices, Soderberg makes a point of joining in when he can. Rather than skip weight lifting workouts, Soderberg goes. In the off-season, his lifting buddies are Dallen Prichett, a lineman, and Deter Morton, a fullback – two big stack lifters.

van soderberg

Van Soderberg has learned how to be his own coach by attending summer kicking camps.

“I try to be involved,” Soderberg said. “A lot of kickers won’t go to the weight room and workout. Or they’ll leave practice early because there’s not much for them to do. But I try. I feel the closer you are to your teammates, the more at stake there is for you to do your job. You need that connection to the rest of the team. The snapper, the holder and the line – in the end it’s eleven guys.”

Sure, Soderberg knows he needs to make the kick. But he also knows the center needs to make the snap. The holder needs to place the ball. And the line needs to block.

“It’s a team effort,” he said.

Soderberg is driven to be the best he can be.

“The only time you notice the kicker is when he messes up,” he said. “So, my goal has been since I’ve gotten here in high school is to be noticed for the good things I do rather than the missed field goals.”

From the start, Soderberg has learned his trade from the best. Just a couple of months after watching Brown kick for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl nine years ago, Soderberg went to a kicking camp in Seattle put on by Ray Guy, a former Oakland Raider. Every year since, he’s gone to a couple of those camps, either in Seattle or California.

van soderberg

Van Soderberg booms another kickoff to the end zone after his team scored a touchdown.

“They taught me how to do it correctly,” Soderberg said. “The way those camps work is they want to make you your own coach so you know what you’re doing wrong when you do something wrong. I’ve been able to do that. When I do something wrong, I know exactly what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do to be successful.”

Over the years, some of the special moments in learning how to kick has been going to the park with his dad, Jeffrey Soderberg, who works on Hollywood movies doing the lighting as the chief rigging electrician. In the last couple of years, he’s worked on the soon-to-be-released Fantastic Four, and on  Transcendence, Runner Runner, The Dark Knight Rises and Mission Impossible.

“My dad is gone a lot of the time, but when he’s back we go kicking,” Soderberg said, smiling at the memory. “We still do. That’s one of our pastimes. He has pictures of me kicking when I was eight.”

Now, after a Friday night football game, Soderberg watches with his dad’s video of the Cougar’s game.

“We’ll go and watch the film and think of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go,” Soderberg said.


Win Cash and Meet Stars at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel

Thurston Talk - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:00am



Lucky Eagle Casino

Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel will host Troy Landry from the hit TV show “Swamp People” on November 29.

We all have our favorite daydream that we pull out on rainy afternoons, trips to the dentist, or during too-long Mondays. Whether it’s to strike it rich, rub elbows with celebrities, or be cheered on by everyone around you, these dreams can all come true at Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel during the month of November.

Through November 29, Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel will host “Get Da Gator” Progressive Giveaway with prizes up to $50,000 each week. Players Club members can enter every day with winners selected every half hour from 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays November 15, 22, and 29.  Casino Advertising Manager, Lindy Waring, says, “The $5,000 prize goes up $5,000 each time someone does not choose it so by the end of each Saturday, it could be up to $50,000.”

On Saturday November 29, you’ll get a chance to meet the king of gators, Troy Landry, from the History Channel’s hit show Swamp People. The 5:30 p.m. meet-and-greet is free; guests simply register at the casino’s Players Club window in advance to reserve one of the available spaces.

Swamp People began in 2010 and is a weekly glance into Louisiana bayou life. The History Channel “follows these swampers through a time of year that is crucial to their survival: the 30-day alligator hunting season. At its core, this is a uniquely American story of a proud and skillful people fighting to maintain an ancient way of life in a rapidly modernizing world, despite the many trials and perils that stand in their way.”

Lucky Eagle’s Promotion and Events Specialist, LuWana Hawley, says  “[We’re] very excited to host Troy Landry here at the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel. History Channel’s Swamp People series has been a huge success and it is such a privilege to bring a unique television personality such as Troy here to the Casino. It will be so fun for our guests to have the opportunity to meet him, get an autograph and a complimentary photo taken with him.”

The Pacific Northwest may be short on alligators but it’s overflowing with other unique experiences.  We’re visited by some of the country’s best and brightest talent, surrounded with award winning hotel and dining options, and any of it can be turned into a restful weekend staycation. The Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel itself was recently awarded best players club, hosts, dealers, video slots, hotel staff, and suites in Casino Player Magazine’s Best of Gaming 2014 issue.

Contact the Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel with any questions about the giveaway or meet-and-greet. They can be reached at 800-720-1788, or drop by 12888 188th Avenue SW in Rochester.

Turning your daydreams into reality is easy, fun, and close to home. Why not give it a try?


Studio West’s Sarah Sawatzky Goes the Distance in Pursuit of her Ballet Dreams

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 5:04pm



By Claire Smith, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

oly ortho logoI first met Sarah Sawatzky last year in my freshman English class at Capital High School. From our first conversation about ballet, I could sense her love and passion for the sport. That passion grew stronger this summer when Sarah auditioned for and was accepted into The Rock School For Dance Education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She spent five weeks participating in a ballet intensive program. It was there that Sarah experienced an epiphany, realizing ballet had become something she not only loved, but that she wanted to be doing for the rest of her life.

Sarah’s mother and aunt introduced her to ballet when she was just three years old. The former Canadian started at Victoria’s Ballet School in White Rock, British Columbia. Fast forward twelve years, and Sarah now dances at Studio West Dance Academy in their highest level.  Within three years, Sarah hopes to earn an invitation to a pre-professional ballet school in preparation for joining a major ballet company.  She knows this is a lofty goal, but she is not daunted.

studio west ballet

Sarah had an amazing time exploring Philadelphia during her busy days, and never missed a chance for a photograph in front of the beautiful buildings.

While Sarah dances many styles including pointe, contemporary, modern, lyrical, jazz, and musical theatre, she prefers ballet.

Like many dancers, Sarah has her own fears to overcome. She worries about being the right size for ballet.  The recent “I Will What I Want” Under Armour ad featuring ballerina Misty Copeland highlights this very real part of the ballet world for all dancers.

Technical elements are also daunting, at first.  Sarah recalls the challenge of her first pirouettes in pointe and the challenge of some critics telling her she was not good enough. But Sarah clearly knows it’s not just the external challenges but also the little voice inside you. Sometimes, your greatest enemy is yourself.

At the age eleven, Sarah’s commitment to ballet jumped to a new level.  She had just received her first pointe shoes and went to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Cinderella. As Sarah sat watching the dancers perform, she had an intense feeling of passion rush over her. “I knew right then and there that I absolutely had to be like those beautiful people on stage. I just had to.”

Last year, Sarah auditioned for several summer programs.  She was accepted into the Boston Ballet School, Pittsburg Ballet School, Austin Ballet School For Dance Education and The Rock School For Dance Education. Sarah chose The Rock purely on a gut feeling. She felt the directors paid attention during the audition process, and knew many dancers from the Rock’s program were beautifully skilled.

studio west ballet

Up by 6:00 a.m. every morning at The Rock, Sarah gave herself plenty of time to stretch before days that required her to dance for eight or more hours.

At The Rock she was introduced to more dance styles, but more importantly, she was exposed to just how competitive dance can be. Her days included technique classes, pointe rehearsals, warm-up and cool downs along with meals and a few hours of sleep.   Her hard work culminated in two showcase performances showing her progress.  At the end of the summer, Sarah was invited to stay year-round at The Rock but chose to spend at least another year with her family.

Despite the demands of her high level dance schedule, Sarah balances dance and school remarkably well. She’s intelligent and extremely organized. Sarah jokes that without schedules and organization, her life could easily fall apart.

This year, however, Sarah’s rigorous dance schedule meant she needed more flexibility than attending classes at Capital High School offered.  Sarah began online schooling, including live classes where she interacts with the instructor and other students, and she loves it.  For somebody who typically wakes at 6:30 a.m. and doesn’t stop until 10:00 p.m., flexibility in all aspects of life is a necessity. Sarah says she feels extremely fortunate to be able to balance both, and doesn’t feel that her time in dance takes away from academics, or vice versa.

Sarah says her parents inspire her every day and she thanks them for their guiding influence in her choices.  Sarah finds dance inspiration in Tamara Rojo, a former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet in London, one of the companies Sarah dreams of dancing with.

While she dreams of a professional dance career, she knows it may not be a reality. Sarah admires the gracefulness and flexibility of the rhythmic gymnasts and states it would be her first choice of dance after ballet.  She also admires pediatric cancer nurses and has been impressed by physical therapists, sharing that these are two careers that she could easily see herself enjoying.

studio west ballet

At the end of her five week summer intensive, Sarah preformed in two showcases, in front of huge audiences in Philadelphia.

Dance has taught Sarah many things including persevering through pain. “No one, absolutely no one who isn’t a dancer, understands the pain of ballet. You constantly have to think about every position of every part of your body,” she explains.  She goes on to share it’s not just extensions or turnout, but while you dance, you must look smooth yet not lazy, making sure every little movement has purpose and emotion. All of this on top of memorizing your choreography, taking direction from instructors and ensuring you stand out from the crowd.

Sarah says that most people don’t understand that despite all the pain dancers go though, the bleeding, blisters, injuries and the mental pain, at the end of the day, there’s nothing the dancers love more than to simply dance. Sarah believes this is due to the feeling you get when you perform. “Being able to get lost in playing a character is amazing,” Sarah describes. “It’s like being a totally different person for a few hours.” Any actor or performer understands this feeling, realizing all those hours and all that pain was worth it in the end.

And while performing can be terrifying, as well as exhilarating, Sarah delights in the adrenaline rush when running onstage in front of 7,000 people and starting the show with a leap into her partner’s arms. “The feeling in that moment is just indescribable.”

Sarah will be performing with Studio West Dance Theatre in the annual The Nutcracker at SPSCC’s Minnaert Center for the Arts, December 11 to December 14. Visit Studio West’s website to learn more.

Sarah is a gifted, intelligent young lady.  She’s a graceful dancer, wonderful student, and a kind person. If I have learned nothing else from my time with Sarah, she has taught me to boldly pursue my own dreams and passions in life.

All photos courtesy Sarah Sawatzky.


Saint Martin’s University Announces Recipient of 2014 America’s Service Heroes Scholarship

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 4:33pm


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Staff Sergeant Matthew Roth is Saint Martin's University’s sixth recipient of its America's Service Heroes Scholarship.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Roth is Saint Martin’s University’s sixth recipient of its America’s Service Heroes Scholarship.

Staff Sergeant Matthew Roth of San Diego, California, a Saint Martin’s University senior who is majoring in psychology, has been selected as the University’s sixth recipient of its America’s Service Heroes Scholarship. Roth received the honor Nov. 1 before 650 guests at Gala 2014, an important fundraiser for University student scholarships that was held in Marcus Pavilion on the Lacey campus.

Endowed and awarded annually since 2009, the award is given in honor of service members who have attended Saint Martin’s University campuses in times of conflict and during peacetime.

“The America’s Service Heroes Scholarship was created to provide financial assistance to those service members and their families who have sacrificed for our nation’s well-being and security,” says Radana Dvorak, Ph.D., dean of the University’s Extended Learning Division. “The ability to provide financial relief to the defenders of our culture and heritage through pursuit of higher education was the motivating force of the scholarship’s founders and supporters. We salute all of America’s Service Heroes.”

A nine-and-a-half year member of the U.S. Army, Roth enlisted as a combat medic, utilizing his experiences gained as an emergency medical technician on an ambulance and in an emergency room setting prior to enlisting in the Army.  He is the son of retired Marine Corps officers, and he followed his younger brother into the Army when he learned his sibling had received orders to Iraq.

Roth’s first assignment led him to Ledward Barracks, where he served with the Blue Spaders of the 1/26 IN BN in Schweinfurt, Germany.  This was also the first unit he deployed with during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006/2008.  His admiration of his colleagues is readily apparent. “I can think of no other unit I would have wanted to deploy with,” says Roth. “The Blue Spaders were a band of brothers…blood brothers!”

In 2012, Roth was transferred to Madigan Army Medical Center and worked as the ward master for the medical-surgical ward, as well as the NCOIC for the Medical-Surgical Nursing Services section. He is currently a practical nurse course instructor at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Roth has been married to his wife Sydne for 14 years. They have a daughter, Holland, with another child due in March 2015. After graduation, he intends to stay with Saint Martin’s and work towards a master’s degree in counseling. Rothe’s ultimate goal is to become a child and family counselor.

“I have always had an interest in helping others but have come to realize that I would rather help as a counselor instead of as a nurse,” says Roth.

He has a Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal with two stars, a Global War on Terrorism Medal, and an Army Service Ribbon.  Roth also holds the coveted Combat Medic Badge and the Drivers Badge-Wheele.



To Rob Rice Homes, Buying Local Means Quality, Customer Service

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 4:07pm



Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes

Rob Rice - Rich Road Local Store

The Rice Family will often stop at their local market, Johnson’s Whistle Depot, supporting businesses in their neighborhood.

Rob Rice, his wife Helena and their two children are committed as a family to shopping local. So much so that they buy eggs or milk at the small family grocer Johnson Whistle Depot in their neighborhood, even if it costs a little more.

“My son Alex reminded me the other day of our ‘buy local’ commitment when we were driving to a large store to get our weekly groceries,” Helena Rice smiles. “He insisted that Dad would want us to buy them at our little neighborhood store. I told him I understood our commitment to buy locally but that we just couldn’t live on Hot Pockets every night. We need a bit more variety in our weekly menu but we are determined to give back to our immediate community as much as possible.”

And so it is also with building and developing Rob Rice Communities and Homes. Rob Rice has a very personal commitment to hiring local contractors and buying local products and services for his homes even if it costs him more.

“What sets us apart is the long-term commitment to contractors who are as locally based as possible,” says Rob whose office is right on State Street across from Ralph’s Thriftway. “Not only does it contribute to the local community where our homes are built, the relationships with people you know face-to-face build trust and quality service. They do things right the first time and if something does go wrong, you know they are going to be there. It is the foundation of our customer service.”

And, once he finds a company whom he can trust to maintain high standards, Rob Rice’s philosophy is to stay loyal to them.

“I don’t think you can deliver a product that stands the test of time if you switch sub-contractors and vendors every time the wind changes direction,” says the local builder who has built more than 3000 homes in the area over the last 30 years. “I still have the framer that framed the first house I built in 1985. He is working for me at Campus Highlands right now. We have a long list of my sub-contractors that have been with us for 10, 20, 30 years.”

Here are just a few:

  • Heating and Cooling Systems – Much-respected local company Sunset Air, installs the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems in every Rob Rice Home and has partnered with the local builder for more than 25 years.
  • Windows – The windows installed in Rob Rice Homes are from Milgard, a local company in Tacoma, which backs their windows with a lifetime warranty.
  • Community Development – For nearly 30 years, local planning consultants Hatton Godat Pantier have helped Rob plan and design Rob Rice Communities with their expansive landscaping, signature green space and small community parks.

    Brian Fluetsch - Owner of Sunset Air

    Brian Fluetsch – Owner of Sunset Air

  • Lumber – Rob Rice Homes purchases its lumber from BMC out of Lakewood to frame and finish his homes with the highest quality product.  Every home Rob has built has been supplied by BMC West. 
  • Doors – Doors Unlimited Inc is a family owned and operated company located in Olympia that has been around since 1975 and has partnered with Rob Rice Homes to provide the many sturdy and stylish doors they install.
  • Paint –Imperial Painting has been a local and longstanding partner since 1986.  Paint choices are higher quality to ensure color durability and prevent fading for many years.

“For virtually every one of the subs on our jobs, I could go out today and find someone to do it cheaper, I know that,” says Rob. “That’s not the way we do things because we are looking at the long-term picture, the quality and longevity of a community, not just about today.”

Brian Fluetsch, president of Sunset Air shares the commitment that is typical of Rob’s team of local contractors and vendors.

“We don’t look at how cheap or how fast something can be put in,” Brian echos Rob’s sentiment. “We live in the same community and we are neighbors with these people.

When our employees are at Fred Meyer with their uniform on and someone that had our HVAC system put in sees them, they are going to say ‘Man, you did such a great job in our house.’”

That would be the comment to any one of the superior local contractors that help build Rob Rice Homes.

Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons; Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.




Environmental, Bi-Cultural Documentary Stands Out at Olympia Film Festival

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:58pm



Submitted by The Evergreen State College

Hugo Lucitante (left) and David Poritz see signs of oil development in Ecuador.

Hugo Lucitante (left) and David Poritz see signs of oil development in Ecuador.

Among the 45 films showing at next week’s anticipated Olympia Film Festival, a dramatic and heartfelt documentary by Evergreen State College alumna Laurel Spellman Smith and her co-director, Francine Strickwerda, stands out.

Oil & Water, which shows Wednesday, November 12 at 3 p.m. at the Capitol Theater with both directors in attendance, centers around two boys fighting to save a piece of the Amazon rainforest that had been decimated by the oil industry. But this is no typical environmental movie. Oil & Wateris also an inspiring buddy movie and a coming of age story. The film follows two charismatic boys who are so different, they are themselves like oil and water. Yet both are compelled to take on a common cause in the face of frightening odds. Hugo Lucitante, from the indigenous Cofan tribe in Ecuador wants to save his tribe from extinction. David Poritz, from Amherst, Massachusetts is trying to revolutionize the oil industry.

Most people are aware of industrial encroachment into the Amazon rainforest, but few people know the extent of the devastation beneath this rich ecosystem in Ecuador. From the early 1970s to the 1990s, oil companies contaminated vast swaths of pristine jungle by slopping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits. Oil & Water portrays this environmental disaster, and the damage oil companies are still wreaking today, from the unique perspectives of two young people.

Hugo, sent at age 10 by his tribe to get an American education, graduated from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School in 2006. David first became aware of the oil catastrophe while researching a 6th grade school project and made a commitment to bring justice to the Amazon. This award-winning documentary by Spellman Smith and Francine Strickwerda follows the two teenagers as their paths intersect in North and Latin America over the next six years. The film explores the hazards and pressures the two young men face as they carry their cause into adulthood, and also the positive difference they make for their communities and the world.

The film also features animated sequences by 2014 Stranger Genius Award Winner and Evergreen alumnus Drew Christie, a frequent contributor to the New York Times Op-Docs. “Using animation allowed us to tell parts of the story we didn’t have footage for,” said Strickwerda. “It’s been fun to see how people actually talk about the animation as if it was actual film footage, which is interesting because it’s so distinctively Drew’s work. We loved collaborating with him.”

Spellman Smith graduated The Evergreen State College in 1997. This is her second partnership with Strickwerda; they previously partnered on a documentary called Busting Out, which examined Americans’ attitudes toward breasts, from awkward early puberty to fatal breast cancer. Spellman Smith has directed two other documentaries, The Corporal’s Diary and Faith and Fear: The Children of Krishna.

Strickwerda and Spellman Smith have numerous stories of their time in the Amazon over the eight years they worked with the Cofan Tribe. They tell of giant bugs, of slipping and sliding in mud, and of annoying their Cofan hosts, without whom they “would have been toast,” said Strickwerda.

Though they admitted they often looked like buffoons while trying to film in the Amazon, they persevered, and it paid off. “Looking back, we had no idea that Hugo and David would become such fascinating young men. We didn’t realize just how close the oil companies were to making another assault on Cofan land. And we certainly didn’t imagine that we’d be telling the story of a startling effort to revolutionize the oil industry,” said Spellman Smith.

Said Strickwerda, “We are hopeful that the Cofan will be able to save their culture and their land


RadiantCare Radiation Oncology to join Providence Health & Services

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:47pm



Submitted by Providence Health and Services

New partnership will ensure state-of-the-art therapy for cancer patients in Lacey, Aberdeen and Centralia, Washington.

RadiantCare Radiation Oncology and Providence Health & Services today announced that RadiantCare will soon become part of the Providence family. In this new arrangement, Providence will own and operate the services and assets of RadiantCare. The transaction will be finalized before the end of this year, and the new name will be Providence Regional Cancer Syst­em – RadiantCare Radiation Oncology.

This collaboration means continued high quality care for the community and the ability to strengthen an already robust service line, creating new opportunities to improve coordination, efficiency and service for patients. RadiantCare Radiation Oncology currently treats more than 800 new patients each year at facilities in Lacey, Aberdeen and Centralia, Washington.

“We have worked diligently for a number of years to establish excellent radiation oncology services and compassionate care in the Southwest Washington region. We remain committed to that endeavor and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with Providence to continue to provide these services in the years to come,” said James Raymond, MD, of RadiantCare Radiation Oncology.

Approximately 40 employees of RadiantCare Radiation Oncology will become Providence employees. Additionally, Providence will own and operate the equipment utilized to plan and deliver external beam radiation therapy, including four medical linear accelerators.

“We have had a long-standing working relationship with RadiantCare. This new partnership will allow us to collaborate even more closely to ensure the people of Southwest Washington continue to have high quality radiation oncology services close to home,” said Medrice Coluccio, chief executive of Providence Health & Services Southwest Washington Region.

The five physicians who are now part of RadiantCare will continue serving and providing professional medical services for oncology patients and will supervise and direct the radiation treatment services at the three treatment facilities. They will provide these services under the auspices of an independent, professional limited liability corporation. The physician group (RadiantCare Physicians, PLLC) will consist of Joseph Hartman, MD; James Raymond, MD; Haleigh Werner, MD; Gregory Allen, MD, PhD; and Robyn Vera, DO. All of the physicians are board certified radiation oncologists with greater than 50 years of combined clinical experience.

State-of-the art therapy that will continue to be available through this collaboration includes intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) and brachytherapy.


Saint Martin’s University to Host Discussion of Business Opportunities in Brazil for Local Companies

Thurston Talk - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 2:23pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University 

Saint Martin's University will host a discussion on how local businesses can partner with Brazil.

Saint Martin’s University will host a discussion on how local businesses can partner with Brazil.

Saint Martin’s University and the Thurston Economic Development Council are proud to announce the first business conference in the South Sound area to address business opportunities in Brazil.

The panel discussion, moderated by Michael Cade, director of the TEDC, will take place Monday, November 17, from 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m., in the Norman Worthington Conference Center, located on the Lacey campus of Saint Martin’s University, 5000 Abbey Way SE. “Business Opportunities in Brazil” is scheduled during a five-day, international conference designed to promote another first — student exchange between Washington and Brazil.

The conference, which concludes Friday, November 21, is being held in response to President Barack Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” signature education initiative that was launched in January. The goal of 100,000 Strong is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, as well as boosting the number of Latin American and Caribbean students studying in the U.S. to 100,000.

An equally important initiative, according to conference organizers, is to provide the local business community with a convenient opportunity to learn why they should consider doing business with Brazil, given its emergence as a vibrant economic engine. Brazil has also taken center stage as the recent host of the 2014 Soccer World Cup and as host of the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics.

“It is currently the seventh largest economy in the world and Brazil is already directly linked to Washington’s economy,” says Riley Moore, Ph.D., associate professor of economics in the Saint Martin’s School of Business. “Embraer, a Brazilian manufacturer of airplanes, buys parts from Washington-based suppliers.  Also, Paccar Inc. recently opened a $320 million truck factory in Brazil.” Based in Bellevue, Paccar Inc. is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of premium light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks.

In addition, there are approximately 5,000 Brazilians living in western Washington and many were instrumental in starting the recent Puget Sound Brazilian Innovation Society to encourage entrepreneurship and social engagement in Washington.

Topics to be covered during the panel discussion include:brazil exchange students

– Market overview of the business environment and emerging opportunities
– Visa and licensing requirements

– Transportation and logics issues
– Business culture and practices
– Resources available for local businesses here and in Brazil


Confirmed speakers include:

– Stephen Murphy, senior advisor, Latin America, Pacific Northwest Advisors

– J. Marcio Da Cruz, R&D technical manager, Starbucks Coffee Company

– Pedro De Magalhaes Castro, principle, Magellan Architects

– Pedro Augusto Leite Costa, honorary consul of Brazil, Seattle

– Young Oh, U.S. commercial officer, U.S. Department of Commerce

The cost to attend the business panel discussion is $25 and attendees are asked to register with the Thurston County Economic Council for the event.


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