Recent local blog posts

City Fleet Wins Clean Cities Award

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 11:34am

From today's inbox:

Best performance by a small public fleet: City of Olympia

A founding member of our coalition (a member since 1998!), the City of Olympia is also an early experimenter with electric vehicles. Though early experimentations weren’t very satisfying, City of Olympia persevered, and found a creative a way to adopt electric vehicles – using leases, rather than purchasing outright. This allows them to benefit from the federal tax credits, and provides flexibility to return the vehicles in the future should they want to upgrade to newer electric vehicles. The City of Olympia subsequently became the first public fleet in Washington to lease electric vehicles. What’s more, this fleet has demonstrated exemplary leadership in the past year by:

  • Increasing its use of biodiesel and propane autogas
  • Expanding their hybrid fleet
  • Launching a telematics pilot project

About WWCC (Western WA Clean Cities):  

We are a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to expanding the use of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. A program of the U.S. Department of Energy, we provide education, technical expertise, networking opportunities and funding assistance to help members invest in local, sustainable transportation solutions – which not only supports our regional economy and protects our beautiful environment, but can green your bottom line. We are one of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions across the country advancing the nation’s economic, environmental and energy security by supporting local actions to reduce petroleum consumption in transportation. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Georgia O'Keeffe Gone for Good

South Sound Arts - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 11:20am
Listen up, art lovers, Eloquent Objects: Georgia O’Keeffe and Still-Life Art in New Mexico at the Tacoma Art Museum closes in just a few weeks on June 7. Then it will be gone from the West Coast forever! 

Maurice Sterne (1878-1957), New Mexico Still Life, circa 1919. 0il on canvas, 10½?- 23½ inches. Lent by Denver Art Museum, Colorado. William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, by exchange. 2013.5. © Maurice Sterne. Courtesy International Arts ® You may never get another chance to see a show quite like this. Read my review in the Weekly Volcano.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Nathan Barnes’ ‘Strangely Familial’ at Salon Refu

South Sound Arts - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 8:23am

Originally published in the Weekly Volcano, April 30, 2015
All photos courtesy Salon Refu

"Planting Seeds Setting Hooks"After a too-long hiatus, Salon Refu is back with a vengeance with “Strangely Familial,” painted mixed-media constructions by Nathan Barnes. What a strange, exciting and beautiful show!
The show consists mostly of “pop-surreal” portraits of the artist’s close friends and family. (I put “pop surreal” in quotes because I’ve been told the artist may not think of them as such, but I can’t think of any other term that describes them as well.)
Faces in each portrait meld into other body parts and such oddities as mechanical objects, circuit boards, plants and animals. Bulging eyes abound, and big, open mouths with teeth bared. There is a horror-show quality to many of these portraits, and yet some of them — particularly a couple with faces of little children, whom I suspect are the artist’s  — are undeniably tender. And there is an almost unaffected and “normal” portrait of local artist Barlow Palminteri, which is not identified but is recognizable to anyone who knows Palminteri. (By “almost normal” I mean except for the leopard-spotted internal organ floating out of the forehead.) 
Despite the sculptural elements, these are paintings in concept and execution, with excellent composition and color usage. I particularly admire the way various parts resonate with one another through the use of repetition of form, color and type of line or mark. Even the individual pieces are arranged on the gallery walls in ways that they visually relate to one another. For example — and I can’t imagine this was happenstance — there is an electric cord ending in a three-way plug coming out of a head titled “Frantic,” and in “Perceived/Received” right next to it there is a face with an open mouth, and inside the mouth is a wall receptacle for a three-way plug.
Many of the faces along the north wall are frightening images. One called “Event Horizon” is an upside-down face with teeth protruding from the top of the head (bottom of the painting), and in the middle of the face there is what looks like a second mouth or pig’s snout with a computer circuit board inside of it.
“Marginal Spaces” is quite different from everything else in the show because it is a pure painting in a rectangular format with no sculptural or mixed-media elements. It stretches almost the entire length of one wall and is like a series of still frames from a film strip with unrelated images in 10 panels that flow one to another, beginning with folds of cloth that change to hands with interlaced fingers that are seemingly made of the same cloth. As the changing images march left to right they morph into faces, and finally into sumo wrestlers. Viewers may recall that this painting was shown in Barnes’ exhibition at Pierce College in 2014, but in that exhibition it was called “Buoyant World.”
One other piece that is quite different, because there is no portrait face in it, is “Planting Seeds, Setting Hooks,” a pair of large, wrinkled, gray-green hands planting seeds in the ground. These hands relate stylistically to those in “Marginal Spaces.” Above the hands there is a stone arch and something like seismic waves made of carved wood painted blue, and below the hands are ocean waves also made of carved and painted wood, and an actual fishing lure.The many objects Barnes includes in his paintings surely have personal meaning to the artist as well as to the people whose portraits they are, but there are no clues for viewers, who are left to guess at the possible meanings.
These are exquisitely crafted works of art that are mysterious and intriguing.There will be a gallery talk by the artist with question-and-answer period May 9 from 6-8 p.m.
Salon Refu, 114 N. Capitol Way, Olympia:  Nathan Barnes’ “Strangely Familial”, Thursday-Friday-Sundays 2-6 p.m., Saturdays 2-8 p.m. through May 24.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Eating Your Veggies is Easy at the Bayview Thriftway Produce Tent Sale

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 8:20am



produce tent sale

Nate Conant has special pricing on produce at Bayview Thriftway this weekend.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis isn’t wrong, but this time of year the freshest spring produce can conquer even these sweet treats. (Or better yet, use them IN your seasonal baking!)

This weekend (Friday, May 8 through Sunday, May 10), Bayview Thriftway, located in downtown Olympia, will be hosting their Mother’s Day Produce Tent Sale. Running from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day, the sale will feature some of our region’s freshest produce, and tasting is always encouraged.

Thriftway Produce Supervisor Nate Conant is excited for the upcoming big event. He explains that though the sale is “only at Bayview Thriftway, it is available to all shoppers. There will be many demos, samples and special pricing.”

Some of the showcased deals include corn 5/$2, Honeycrisp apples $1.99lb, 12oz blackberries 2/$7, cantaloupe 2/$3, honeydew melon .99 each, tomatoes on the vine $1.29lb, Vidalia sweet onions $1.29lb, red seedless grapes $2.99lb, mangos 2/$3, long stem artichokes 2/$7, bananas .59lb, organic mangos 2/$4, green peppers 2/$1, and nectarines $1.99lb.

bayview thriftwayWhile stocking up on fresh fruit and veggies, take time to wander through the Livin’ on the Wedge Cheese Festival which takes place at Bayview from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. There you will find artisanal cheeses, pastries, and local specialties and favorites.

Got a sweet tooth or need something to finish up that mid-day lunch of samples? Both Ralph’s and Bayview are hosting their twice-annual chocolate-dipped strawberry promotion Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Look for Conant himself inside the store, busily working the fragrant chocolate fountain. While picking up a package of the freshly crafted treats for Mother’s Day you’ll need a few for yourself…for quality control purposes. They’re only here in the spring so make sure to stock up!

If you find yourself needing new tools to prep, cook, or serve the weekend’s bounty, head inside either Thriftway location with your ThrifteCard to earn 10% back on all blue-tagged houseware items purchased through May 10. This third annual Housewares Appreciation Event can have you making carb-free veggie noodles in a snap or learning a trick of the trade you didn’t know before.

bayview thriftway produceThe 2014 Best of South Sound winner for Best Grocery Store, Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway never disappoint. Their staff is always willing to take special requests and they offer one-stop shopping as well as a hub for community events. Check their website often for in-store specials, family-friendly activities, and access to their online shopping portal.

Bayview Thriftway is located at 516 West 4th Street in downtown Olympia. With so many weekend activities, bring extra shopping bags and save room for clam chowder or fresh gelato on their sure to be sunny outdoor deck. You can always walk the boardwalk a few times to make room for the next course.


Thrifty Thurston Plans Entertainment on Mother’s Day

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

putnam lieb logoNews flash – Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day. What better way to show your gratitude for your mom than by exploring the many fun and low cost happenings around Thurston County. Mom will appreciate the outing and the thought behind each perfectly planned activity.

Visit the Hands On Children’s Museum

mothers day olympia

Your Mother’s Day doesn’t need to be extravagant to be memorable.

For some interactive fun with mom, look to the Hands On Children’s Museum. The museum will be saying thanks to mom by making admission for grandmothers and mothers free all day long. While the kids are entertained by the creative exhibits and onsite crafts, mom can enjoy a coffee in the café. It’s a great place for the kids to discover without leaving mom with a big mess to cleanup.

Run the Mother’s Day 5k

For the athletic mom, this scenic, waterfront run will be fun for the whole family. Kids can run a free one-mile event beginning at 8:30 a.m. with their parents. Strollers are welcome. Avid running moms can enjoy the 5k which kicks off at 8:45 a.m. Check-ins for this event begin at 7:30 a.m. in front of the Hands On Children’s Museum. This is a great opportunity to run with your mom or in memory of a mom whom has touched your life.

Let’s Paint!

Is your mother a fan of art? Let’s Paint wants the whole family to get involved and help mom paint a Parisian canvas. The Eiffel Tower will be available for painting during the 2:00 p.m. class. For the price to paint, each painter can enjoy a complimentary beverage and leave with an original piece of art to hang proudly on the wall. It is highly recommended to register ahead of time as this class will fill up quickly.  (The class is recommended for kids ages 8 and older.)

Explore Washington State Parks

For a mom who enjoys being outside, Mother’s Day is extra special this year. In honor of moms, Washington State Parks says you can leave your Discover Passes at home on Sunday.  Plan a picnic at Millersylvania Park or a day trip to the many state park that line our beautiful beaches. Enjoy the natural beauty our state has to offer with one of the most important people in your life. Read more about different parks to explore here.

Go Kayaking

mothers day olympia

Tolmie State Park is one suggestion for free family fun on Mother’s Day.

One of the most relaxing activities a mom can appreciate in Thurston County has to be kayaking. Rentals are available throughout our region for a very reasonable price. Tugboat Annie’s even offers a brunch and kayaking special on Saturdays and Sundays. Between the stunning Puget Sound and the assortment of picturesque lakes, there are plenty of places for mom to take a break and quietly paddle through peaceful waters.

Walk though the Olympia Wooden Boat Fair

Does your mom enjoy the many cultural events of Thurston County? Sail with her downtown for the sights and sounds of Olympia’s Wooden Boat Fair. This free event at Percival Landing has boats of every shape and size on display. Events throughout the weekend include arts & crafts, local food vendors, fun for the kids, and music from some of Thurston County’s most talented musicians. The fair begins at 11:00 a.m. on Mother’s Day and ends at 5:00 p.m.

Get Tickets to the Olympia Little Theatre Production of Mama Won’t Fly

For the mother looking for a show consider checking out Olympia Little Theatre’s latest production – Mama Won’t Fly. A daughter agrees to take her mother from Alabama to California in a compact car for her brother’s wedding due to her mom not wanting to fly. This road trip includes twists, turns, and quite a few laughs. Showtime on Mother’s Day is at 1:55 p.m. and tickets are $8-14 at Yenney Music or online.

For even more ideas to celebrate Mother’s Day, check out the ThurstonTalk events calendar.

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

Dancing with South Sound’s Stars – A Night of Shimmies and Surprises to Support The Washington Center for the Performing Arts

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

south sound stars

Will Deborah Vinsel, CEO of TCTV, have an advantage with her years of youth dance lessons in the upcoming Dancing with South Sound’s Stars competition?  Photo courtesy: Dinea de Photo.

Six local celebrities. A panel of judges. One week to learn.

This is “Dancing with South Sound’s Stars,” a night of entertainment, celebration and breath-taking moves – all on stage Saturday, May 16 at The Washington Center for Performing Arts in downtown Olympia.

“These six dancers were selected from a large pool of enthusiastic supporters; people that work hard to make Thurston County a great place to live and work, and who believe in having a good time up on stage,” says Anne Larsen, director of marketing and special events for The Center.

“We are already seeing the friendly competition heat up:  who will have the most fans in the audience?  Who will have the best costume?  They are all having a lot of fun leading up to a week of rehearsals with the professional dancers,” continues Larsen. “And the audience will have ballots to help determine the winner, along with our local celebrity judges.”

Deborah Vinsel, CEO of Thurston Community Television (TCTV) is one of those six competitors.

“I love it when we see a side of community leaders we’ve never seen before,” she says. “These kinds of events show we’re all human, we all have a sense of humor, and we all love to do something that brings us together.”

While Vinsel has never been in a competition of this kind, dance has been a big part of her life. She received formal training in ballet and tap dance from the time she was three until her early 20s. Her mother insisted that Vinsel and her brother take ballroom dancing in middle school. In fact, she met her husband for the first time when she was 13 at Mrs. Lynn’s Social Dancing classes.

“I don’t think many people know that I’ve got a background in dance and theater so this will show a side of me not many people in Olympia have seen,” she says. “Plus, it just looked like it was going to be a lot of fun.”

However, Vinsel says, she is “many years older now” so she doesn’t expect to sail through the rehearsals.

dancing south sounds stars

Or will competitors like Renee Sunde, deputy director of Thurston Economic Development Council, who have only danced at proms and weddings, have beginner’s luck?

“It will be a challenge to re-awaken the technique and muscle memory,” she says.

If Vinsel has the challenge of tapping into old skills, another competitor, Renee Sunde, deputy director for Thurston Economic Development Council, has the challenge of trying something completely new.

“When first asked if I would be willing to compete, I ran it by my colleagues at the Thurston EDC,” says Sunde. “They unanimously encouraged me to go for it… what could be more fun than getting up on a stage and dancing with professionally trained dancers in front of a community filled with friends? But, I’ve never really danced before (unless the prom and weddings count) so the professionals will definitely have their work cut out for them.”

The dancers each pair with a member of the Utah Ballroom Dance Company, who specializes in bringing “Dancing with the Stars” to communities across the United States.

This is the Washington Center’s first time presenting the company, or this type of competition, and Larsen says they are very excited.

“Selecting the six local dancers was just the start. We have a week of rehearsals to look forward to,” she explains.  “After the local dancers pair off with their partners, the professionals will put on a show for the audience as well! We will present disco ball trophies to our winners, of course.”

While bragging rights and a sweet disco ball trophy are highlights of the win, both Vinsel and Sunde (probably speaking for the others as well) acknowledge that participating in this event is a great way to give back.

“The biggest motivator for me personally is the fact that the proceeds from the event go to support The Washington Center for Performing Arts, which is one of our greatest community assets,” says Sunde.   “When you talk about the arts culture of Olympia you are really talking about an economic generator. Through ticket sales, the support of local businesses through sponsorships and donations, grants, public and individual giving, we are able to promote and sustain this great community and economic development asset.”

dancing with south sound's starsThe evening will conclude with a community dance lesson onstage from the Powers Ballroom Studio.  Rhett and Shona Powers will lead lessons in “Party Swing” and “Classic Waltz” and all levels of dance ability are welcome to join the fun.

The other four competitors include Greg Allison, music instructor with the Olympia School District, Thane Bryenton, owner of RelyLocal Olympia, Casey Cochrane, Executive Director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and Becci Syrek, Partnership Development Director with the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor & Convention Center.

Purchase tickets to the May 16 event here. Visit the Dancing with South Sound’s Stars Facebook page for sneak peeks and updates.


Neighborhood Notes – Growing Food and Friendship at the Tenino FFA Community Garden

Thurston Talk - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 6:00am



By Lynn West

van dorm sponsorWhen we first built our raised beds, neighbors stopped by to see what we were growing. Perhaps they envisioned receiving a nice basket of ripe strawberries or feared a huge zucchini!

Combining the vision of Sally Ritter Alhadeff, the knowledge of Geraldine Maxfield, and the enthusiasm of Matthew Rounsley, the Tenino FFA Community Garden has become a reality.

tenino community garden

Matthew Rounsley, Sally Ritter Alhadeff, and Geraldine Maxfield taking a break from working on the garden.

Sally Ritter Alhadeff’’s family can trace roots in Tenino to Sidney S. Ford who left New York in the 1860s and made his way west to the Washington Territory. Sally, recently retired, just completed the Washington State Extension Master Gardener Program. One afternoon last fall while harvesting produce from her own amazing garden, Sally said, “This project started shaping in my mind. I knew my Dad wanted to see both the students and the community benefit from a piece of land adjacent to the high school, and a Community Garden was perfect.”

Turning off Ritter Street, named for her Dad, Sally and I parked by the Tenino FFA Community Garden, which sits adjacent to the two greenhouses at Tenino High School. Built in the past few months, the new garden occupies land once used to raise pigs. Tenino High School Agriculture Science and Leadership teacher, Geraldine Maxfield, said, “It was a case of ‘use it or lose it’, so Sally gave us the impetus. A Community Garden will benefit students and so many in our community. We didn’t need another paved parking lot.”  The garden was built on a piece of property adjacent to Maxfield’s classroom.

As a student in Ms. Maxfield’s class and a member of Future Farmers of America, Matthew Rounsley, a sophomore, is one of the fifteen or so students “using” the garden to learn on a daily basis. “Thank heavens he is around for another couple of years,” Maxfield said. “He has been intstramental in getting the garden off the ground.”

tenino community garden

Tenino FFA students prepare to launch their Community Garden project.

As the backbone of the Tenino FFA Community Garden Steering Committee, this trio has written grants, fundraised, attended community meetings, and labored to build the existing ten raised beds. Asked why some of the beds were built with cedar, others with corrugated metal, and some with cement block, Maxfield explained, “This is a teaching opportunity, and we will observe and research the relative benefits and success of each type of bed.” Students will also be comparing seeds and starts, sun and shade in addition to and pursuing their current research into other garden variables.

For Rounsley, the garden is much more than just a part of his classes. He has had an opportunity to work on this project from its inception.   I’ve moved equipment, hauled dirt, and filled beds, but I have also brainstormed with the committee on rationale for the grants, and I have even written sections,” he said. The grant writing certainly has paid off.

tenino community garden

Matthew Rounsley, Sally Ritter Alhadeff, and Geraldine Maxfield explain the construction of the beds.

The Tenino FFA Community Garden has received grants from

In addition to the national and local grants, Rounsley is amazed by his own community’s contributions. “Contractors have brought loads of supplies, licensed electricians and plumbers are working on the irrigation, farmers have promised straw bales for future beds,” he said. “And some people send much needed donations.”

The outpouring of support for the Tenino FFA Community Garden does not surprise Geraldine Maxfield. She closely observed the Rainer Community Garden project when it began four years ago, and modeled Tenino’s after it.

tenino community garden

Tenino High School students prepare the ground prior to building the raised beds.

Tenino is smaller in size than most of the thirteen schools in its FFA District, but the students’ hours of community service exceed many. Community service fits both the mission and the goals of the Tenino FFA Community Garden since in addition to being intergenerational, it is designed to provide an essential fresh food source for all members of the community.

The Tenino Food Bank will be a major recipient of the fresh produce grown.

At its busiest, the food bank serves 70-80 families. Fifty three percent of students in the Tenino School District qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, which is the highest percentage in Thurston County. Learning to grow fresh produce and being able to harvest it will certainly help reduce the need.

In response to a survey completed by community members who rely on the Food Bank, the Community Garden will grow kale, small tomatoes, carrots, radishes, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce and green onions. In the future, when more beds are built, herbs and berries will be added.

In April, the steering committee and fifty to sixty community members gathered at the garden on weekends to work. On Saturday, May 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., during the weekend-long FFA Plant Sale, the new Community Garden will have its Grand Opening. The Tenino community will spend this May weekend celebrating instead of working.

When the Tenino FFA Community Garden celebrates its Grand Opening, the Steering Committee hopes everyone will visit because the harvest will be for the community.

When was the last gray wolf shot in Thurston County?

Olympia Time - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 5:05am
Wolves are on their way back in Western Washington.

At one point in our past, wolves roamed the place we now call home. Certainly Thurston County was on the edge of where these big dogs roamed, but obviously there were some that roamed down the Black Hills from the Olympics.

The last wolf pair was shot in the Olympics in 1938. That was the absolute end of wolfs in Washington until very recently.

But, as far as I can tell, wolfs came to an end in Thurston County maybe a few decades before. The last record I can find of a wolf being shot here was in 1909:

Joe Easterday came back home from a hunting trip that year, ranging from the Black Hills down to Oyster Bay. Among the dozens of animals he and his friends shot was a "timber wolf." He pointed out that he likely would have stayed out longer, but the number of animals he had bagged was just too many to lug around.

Plus, Joe's body had literally given out:

He says he would have been still in the woods if it was not for the fact that has shot so much that his arm is swollen and his fingers have increased to such a size that he can no longer pull the trigger. He visited a doctor to have his arm and hand attended to and while here will have his clothes padded so that his shoulder and side will not get black and blue in the future from the recoil of the weapon.The expanding human footprint, plus "varmint hunts" and other likewise less than nice ways to say predator extermination programs, did the wolves in.

A notice for a varmint hunt in the 1911 Olympian listed the points given out by the Thurston County Association for the Protection and Propagation of Game and Game Fish. Two teams worked from May 1911 to February of the next year. The top hunter of either group would get $20, with lesser prizes for second and third. The losing team would throw a party for the winning side.

If you shot a cougar, your team would get 1,000 points. A wolf, 750 and likewise for a coyote. A fisher would get 500 points. And, last on the list of a dozen animals and their corresponding points, was the blue jay. That would get you 75 points for your team.

From the Morning Olympian, October 1909:

Just in case you're wondering, I'm very pro-hunting. Very pro-killing animals for food. And, sport for that matter. Food is a higher moral calling though.
That said, I'm also pro-eating chocolate cake. But, no one should eat so much cake, or hunt so many animals, they literally have to go see a doctor about it.

Razor Clam Dig Reduced to One Day this Week

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 8:33pm



Submitted by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Three days of a four-day razor clam dig have been canceled on all ocean beaches because of public health concerns, state shellfish managers said today.

The opening will continue as planned Thursday on Long Beach and Twin Harbors beaches after state health officials cleared that day’s dig.

Levels of domoic acid, detected through routine testing, have been on the rise since late Monday and could exceed state health guidelines by this weekend. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is canceling the dig May 8-10 as a precaution, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager with WDFW.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. More information about domoic acid can be found on WDFW’s webpage here.

“Warm ocean water temperatures have created ideal conditions for the algae that produce domoic acid,” Ayres said.

Earlier this week, the department had approved the four-day dig after marine toxin tests over the weekend showed clams on Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks beaches were safe to eat. Since that time, routine testing detected elevated toxin levels, prompting a second round of testing on razor clams by the Washington Department of Health (WDOH).

Those tests, evaluated today, show domoic acid levels in razor clams are rising and could surpass state health guidelines by the weekend.

Since 1991, when the toxin was first detected on the Pacific coast, outbreaks of domoic acid have prompted the cancellation of three entire razor clam seasons in Washington – the last one in 2002-03. Kalaloch Beach, jointly managed by WDFW and Olympic National Park, also was closed for much of the 2004 season due to high toxin levels. In 2005, WDFW closed Long Beach for two days due to elevated toxin levels.

WDFW and WDOH will continue to monitor toxin levels to determine whether two proposed digs tentatively scheduled later in May will go forward.



SPSCC Students Bring Back SkillsUSA Gold, Bronze

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 3:50pm



Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College

Christine Armstrong

Christine Armstrong

For the second year in a row, South Puget Sound Community College students distinguished themselves by bringing home the gold at the SkillsUSA Washington Leadership and Skills Conference, making them eligible to attend the national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Ky., in June.

Five SPSCC Automotive Club students competed at the spring conference of the SkillsUSA Washington chapter on April 23 through April 25 at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology. SPSCC was led by first-year student Jesus Cales-Rodriguez, who took gold honors in both Automotive Skills and in Related Technical Math. Also competing was first-year student Christine Armstrong and second-year students Ryan Laughlin, Devin DeTray, and Steve Brickhill.

“It felt good to earn the gold medal and have a chance to let others know what a fantastic team of professionals we have at SPSCC,” Cales-Rodriguez said. “These medals represent our teaching staff, school administration as well as my mentors throughout the years. I am grateful to have experienced this competition and look forward to showing these qualities to other participating schools at Nationals.”

Jesus Cales-Rodriguez and Devin DeTray

Jesus Cales-Rodriguez and Devin DeTray

Armstrong also won gold in the Customer Service category. It’s the second year in a row that an SPSCC student has taken gold in the Customer Service category, following the win of last year’s National SkillsUSA Customer Service winner Mike Kangiser.

Additionally Laughlin, elected Washington SkillsUSA chapter president at the winter conference, opened the conference and won a bronze medal in Extemporaneous Speaking. DeTray also won a bronze medal in the Related Technical Math category.

SPSCC advisors Steve McRavin, Alex Wittmann and Christina Winstead attended the conference with the students, and were proud of the technical and leadership skills displayed. They are looking forward to coaching the participants as they move forward to the national-level competition.


Experts Encourage South Puget Sound Area Families to Bring Back the Sunday Dinner

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 3:38pm


Submitted by Home Instead Senior Care

Kelly Cavenah from the South Puget Sound area is on a mission to see more families share sit-down Sunday dinners with their senior loved ones. The reason? New research shows that 50 percent of surveyed families living near senior relatives feel they do not share enough meals with older loved ones, losing an important family connection.*

“For seniors, it’s not what’s on their plate that matters most at mealtime – it’s who is at the table with them,” said Cavenah, owner of the local Home Instead Senior Care® office. “When seniors share meals with a companion, they have a better mealtime experience – both nutritionally and emotionally.”

Almost 75 percent of the people surveyed said they only sit down for a family meal with senior loved ones for special occasions, events or holidays. They say a big part of the problem is time – both not having enough of it and conflicting schedules.

To encourage families to make time for these meals, the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation® will donate $1 to Meals on Wheels America (up to $20,000 total through July 31, 2015) for each person that commits to regularly scheduling family dinners at Pledging to have a sit-down dinner with loved ones will help to ensure other seniors will have a quality meal, friendly visit and safety check through Meals on Wheels programs across the country.

“We hope families will make the pledge to either revive or begin new mealtime traditions with their senior loved ones,” Cavenah said. “This small commitment can have a big impact on a senior’s well-being.”

To help families across the country host their own Sunday dinner, Home Instead Senior Care has partnered with celebrity chef and mother of four Melissa d’Arabian to develop easy, nutritious recipes. Additional resources include tips for how to involve seniors in meal planning and preparation, pre- and post-dinner activities and meal plans for healthy, inexpensive meals that all generations can enjoy.

For these free resources and more information on how you can bring back the Sunday dinner and reconnect with your senior loved ones, visit or call Home Instead Senior Care at 360-570-0049.

* Home Instead, Inc. completed surveys with a random sample of 1,000 households in U.S. and Canada between February 10 and 15, 2015. Participants were 50 percent male and 50 percent female, with 900 households in U.S. and 100 in Canada.

About Home Instead Senior Care®

Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, this network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises that are estimated to annually provide more than 50 million hours of care throughout the United States and 15 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 65,000 CAREGivers? worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to partner with each client and his or her family members to help meet that individual’s needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing companionship and personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while striving to provide superior quality service.

About Meals on Wheels America

Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time.

About Melissa d’Arabian

Food Network star, best-selling author, writer and mom of four Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on affordable and healthy family home cooking. Well known for her “Ten Dollar Dinners” show and best-selling cookbook, she also hosts Food Network web series “The Picky Eaters Project” and serves as a lead judge on “Guy’s Grocery Games.” Her new “Supermarket Healthy” cookbook is available now.

“Puget Sound Starts Here” Month Encourages Taking Care of Puget Sound

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:48pm



Submitted by LOTT Clean Water Alliance

CarWash_SMALLThe LOTT Clean Water Alliance and its WET Science Center are teaming up with hundreds of organizations across Puget Sound to challenge residents to commit to at least one Sound-healthy action during May’s Puget Sound Starts Here Month.

“Puget Sound Starts Here Month is about raising awareness around the fact that Puget Sound is in trouble. All of us can make a difference through simple actions and local opportunities to get involved,” says Amber Smith, Education Manager at LOTT’s WET Science Center. “Our actions today determine the future of our health, economy, culture, our quality of life, and the legacy we leave the next generation,” says Smith.

Some simple Sound-healthy actions you can take:

  • Volunteer to help with local habitat restoration projects.
  • Pick up pet waste and place it in the trash.
  • Maintain your septic system or side sewer.
  • Landscape your yard with native plants and trees that soak up rain and slow the flow of runoff.
  • Use natural yard products like compost and mulch. If you use chemical pesticides and fertilizers, follow the directions and use them sparingly.
  • Take your car to a commercial car wash instead of washing it in your driveway.
  • Store and dispose of household chemicals according to the instructions on the label.
  • Fix auto leaks right away and take any used fluids to a recycling center.
  • Never dump anything – liquid or solid – into a storm drain or drainage ditch.
  • Boaters can protect valuable marine habitat by using pump-out stations for sewage, being cautious in sensitive eelgrass habitat, and careful when fueling and cleaning their vessels.

Get involved locally and connect with programs like:DoPoop

Puget Sound matters

Puget Sound features 2,500 miles of shoreline. It is home to countless species, including orcas, sea lions, salmon and shellfish, as well as 4.5 million people who live, work, and play across the 12 counties of Puget Sound. Puget Sound is the second-largest estuary in the nation, stretching from mountain snowcaps to Puget Sound’s whitecaps. Puget Sound includes farmland and cities, woodlands and industry, and all the places we love in between. Puget Sound creates economic opportunities for the area, including tourism, shipping, seafood, and the region’s exceptional quality of life is a key reason many local companies stay and expand here.

The pressures that Puget Sound faces

IGrow_FINALsmallestEvery year, millions of pounds of toxic pollutants enter Puget Sound. Much of that pollution comes from runoff. When it rains, the water flows over hard surfaces like houses, parking lots, driveways and streets, picking up pollution along the way. This polluted runoff flows through ditches or storm drains and into local waterways. Most runoff is not treated.

We’re working to undo more than 100 years of pollution and environmental degradation, all while balancing the needs of a diverse ecosystem as well as the needs of humans.

About Puget Sound Starts Here

Puget Sound Starts Here is supported by a consortium of more than 750 organizations across Puget Sound’s 12 counties, including state agencies, local governments, tribes, and non-governmental organizations working to clean up and protect Puget Sound and our region’s local waterways.

The goal of Puget Sound Starts Here Month is to raise awareness that Puget Sound is in trouble due to a variety of pollution sources, and empower residents to make a difference through simple actions and local volunteer opportunities. Learn more about the bounty of Puget Sound and how you can help protect it at


Westport Winery Earns Medals at Great Northwest Competition

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 1:02pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

2015 Elk FrontWestport Winery earned two bronze medals at the Great Northwest Wine Competition held in March. Both Elk River (Riesling) and Lighthouse (Riesling/Gewurztraminer) were made from grapes harvested at Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA.

In the tasting notes Elk River is described as “A spine-tingling aftershock, luscious, bright and penetrating.” In the winery’s restaurant the wine is recommend to pair with a Wilted Spinach Salad (fresh spinach topped with grilled chicken, hard-boiled egg, bacon and almonds tossed in hot balsamic vinaigrette) while listening to The River by Garth Brooks. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits Twin Harbors Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Lighthouse, a blend of Riesling 54% and Gewürztraminer 46%, is described as “bright and breezy, like a sweet spring run-off.” Enjoy it with a luscious Lighthouse Salad (cranberry chicken salad, carrot curls, feta, dried cranberries and almonds on seasonal greens) while listening to Drops of Jupiter by Train. This wine benefits the Westport Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Restoration. The label is an original watercolor of the winery painted by Darryl Easter.

When you visit be sure to explore the resort’s unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why Westport Winery was voted Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.

Westport Winery Garden Resort’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the resort. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and gardens, are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Collin Sturdevant Recognized by Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 12:47pm



Submitted by Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth

collin SturdevantCollin Sturdevant, a high-achieving student from Olympia, was honored as one of the brightest young students in the world at a regional awards ceremony for academically advanced children sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY).

Collin,a participant in the CTY Talent Search, was recognized for his exceptional performance on a rigorous, above-grade-level test given to academically talented second-through-eighth-grade students.

As part of the CTY Talent Search, advanced young learners take above-grade-level tests that identify academic talent and reveal gaps between a child’s academic program and his actual capacity for learning. Seventh and eighth graders take the SAT or ACT-the same tests used for college admissions. These students, along with second through sixth graders, can also take the School and College Ability Test (SCAT), an above-level test, or the Spatial Test Battery (STB), which measures spatial ability.

Collin,a student at Black Hills High School was one of more than 33,000 students from 60-plus countries who participated in the CTY Talent Search this year by testing between March 2014 and February 2015. Because of the difficulty of the tests, only about 30 percent of students who participated earned an invitation to a CTY Awards Ceremony where they are individually honored for their academic performance and potential. Most students honored in 2015 CTY Award Ceremonies also qualified for CTY’s summer courses and online classes.

“Congratulations to all of the outstanding young people recognized as part of the CTY Awards Ceremonies for their willingness to challenge themselves by taking a test originally designed for significantly older students,” said Elaine Tuttle Hansen, executive director of CTY. “This is an opportunity to recognize these students’ achievements but to also honor the parents and educators who have nurtured and supported their intellectual growth and development.”

This spring, more than 8,470 CTY Talent Search honorees were invited to participate in 41 CTY Award Ceremonies across the U.S. and in China and Hong Kong.
A nonprofit at one of the nation’s premier universities, CTY identifies academic talent in the world’s brightest K12 learners and supports their growth with accredited summer, online, and family programs, services, and resources designed to meet their needs.

  • CTY draws students from 50 states and nearly 82 countries worldwide.
  • CTY provided $5.8 million in financial aid to more than 7,400 students for Talent Search or programs in fiscal 2014.
  • CTY Talent Search participants are a diverse group: Among those who chose to report their ethnicity, 40 percent describe themselves as white or Caucasian, 26 percent as Asian American or Asian, 12 percent as Latino or Hispanic, 11 percent as black or African American, 6 percent as of South Asian origin, less than one percent as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, less than one percent as Native American, and 5 percent as other.
  • For more information about enrolling in the CTY Talent Search, go to


Three Generations of Swim Coaches Lead Synchro Team at the South Sound YMCA

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:11am



By Gail Wood

Alley Oop LogoTori Johnson’s remarkable story about commitment begins when she was just six years old, tagging along with her mom to the Olympia downtown branch of the South Sound YMCA.  The year was 1966 and it was time for Cathy McDonald, Tori’s mom, to coach her synchronized swimming team.

“My first aquatic memory is when I’m on the deck of the pool watching my mom help coach a synchro team,” Tori said.

olympia synchronized swimming

Jackie Barratt poses for a photo with her intermediate synchronized swimmers at a meet in February.

Eventually, Tori was coached by her mom and the family’s commitment to Y swim coaching continues. First, Cathy coached at the pool for 20+ years starting in the 1960s, then her daughter, Tori, began coaching the Olympia Synchro Club in the 1980s. Now, Jackie, Tori’s daughter who learned how to synchronize from her mom, is coaching at the South Sound YMCA.

For half a century, this one family, from Cathy McDonald to Tori Johnson to Jackie Barratt, has been coaching swimming at the same location. It’s been their family’s home away from home for three generations.

“I grew up swimming on the team,” Jackie said.

Like her mom, Jackie started swimming at the Olympia downtown Y when she was six. She swam at the Y through her junior year at Tumwater High School, where she graduated in 1990 and also swam on the school team and qualified for state.

In 2007, Jackie moved back to Olympia with her husband after living in Portland for five years. She then did what seemed natural to her. She started coaching synchronized swimming at the Y, just like her mom and grandmother did before her.

“I have a lot of connections because I grew up swimming there,” said Jackie, who has two young sons. “I coached in Portland for five years and when we came back they needed someone and here I am.”

olympia synchronized swimming

Tori Johnson (left) and her daughter Jackie Barratt have coached the Olympia Synchro Club for three generations.

Over the years, Cathy, Tori and Jackie have essentially been the face of the Y in downtown Olympia for kids signed up for swim lessons. It’s been a friendly, happy face.

“They’re always friendly and talkative,” said Courtney Covey, the aquatics director for the Olympia downtown branch. “They’ll talk with just about anybody.”

And it’s not like Covey has had to be on the phone, calling them, asking if they’re coming. They’ve been reliable and on time.

“They’ve been very dependable,” Covey said.

In the early 1980s, Tori began coaching at the downtown Y and coached her daughter. Tori restarted the synchronized swimming team in 1990 and until last year the downtown Y sent someone to nationals every year since 1994, a stretch of 20 years. But for Jackie and Tori, the real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction comes not from how many trophies the Y has won, but it’s the lives changed.

“The special personal stories are the best,” said Tori, a 1978 Timberline High School graduate. “We’ve had some people who have come through some tough times.”

Tori talked about a girl who had a difficult family life and endured some hard challenges.

“She had a really tough, young life,” Tori said. “Today her kids call me nanny. They are part of our family. It’s a neat thing to have people who went away and kind of got off the track and remembered synchro, remembered me, remembered the Y and they come back around and say hi.”

Both Tori and Jackie will be in the grocery store and they’ll hear someone say hi to them. It’s often someone they coached.

“They’ll come up to me and say they can’t believe it’s me,” Tori said. “It’s fun.”

It’s been a team effort for the past eight years. Jackie now does most of the coaching and her mom handles the parent meetings and other administrative tasks. Six days a week, Jackie, who is a stay-at-home mom, is at the pool, coaching and teaching young girls how to perfect their synchronized swimming skills, which Jackie compared to gymnastics in the water.

On May 17-18, Jackie will take five intermediate team members to the regional competition in Portland. Harrah Orth and Iris La are Jackie’s two top performers and they’ll compete at regionals in the duet competition. Kilee Freeman will compete in the solo competition and Joy Matsuoka and Lucy Cook will also compete.

olympia synchronized swimming

Jackie Barratt (right) poses for a picture poolside at last year’s nationals with two of her swimmers, Maia Pontarolo-Reid and Hannah Garcia.

Right now, Jackie has 11 in the youth program. She also coaches the Orca Youth Swim Team at the Y.

“Coaching is what I love to do,” Jackie said. “That’s because I grew up swimming. I love swimming and I want to encourage new swimmers to try it and see if they can succeed with it. I also want to encourage physical fitness and hope that it will be something they’ll do the rest of their lives.”

Cathy, now 76, doesn’t come to the meets or practices anymore. But despite arthritis, she still comes to the downtown Y and swims one mile three days a week.

“She doesn’t care how long it takes her,” Tori said. “She just keeps moving. With her cane and her slow moving that’s the place she feels the most comfortable and free. Arthritis is giving her some troubles. But she’s still moving the best she can.”

And of course, that includes going to Olympia downtown branch of the South Sound YMCA.

To learn more about the synchronized swim team or other components of the Y’s aquatics program, click here.

Timberline High School Set to Graduate First AVID Students

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:41am



By Esti Izuagbe, Timberline High School intern to ThurstonTalk.

avid timberline high school

Timberline High School students (from left) Esti Izuagbe, Jaun Lugo, Kalika Johnson, Olivia Herting pose during an AVID activity during class.

Some students will be celebrating graduation in an extra special way in June. During Timberline High School’s graduation ceremony, the North Thurston Public Schools high school will graduate its first class of AVID students.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a program that is used to help high school students achieve the goal of going to college. The program consists of critical thinking, college visits, and a family-like atmosphere. Tutorials are coordinated twice a week to prep students for higher level study groups. In 2011, Timberline was the first local high school to start this program.

Kalika Johnson joined the program because she had experienced it in Colorado during middle school. She said that she had enjoyed it and wanted to reach out to other students. Johnson recalled her first year in the program, “At first it was difficult to adjust because some people already knew each other, but over the years it was easier to open up to them.” She never thought she would be so close to people of her age.

AVID has taught Johnson how to act professionally and how to organize her schoolwork. “If you’re younger or a freshman, you should apply because you can learn so much. Not just education, but social skills that have to deal with real world stuff. Maybe you’ll even make lifelong friends,” she says. Johnson advises people who are looking into AVID to give it a chance. In the fall, Johnson plans on going to South Puget Sound Community College to work on her pre-requisites before transferring to Central Washington University.

avid timberline high school

AVID students (from left) Olivia Campeau, Alan Berbisco, Nathan Ratuita , Diana Perez, Summer Matta-Kasper, Amanda Rich celebrate at a 70s themed outing at Skateland.

Olivia Campeau joined AVID based on her mother’s suggestion. Campeau thought it would just be a study hall, but realized it was more than what she thought. She felt like she took on a leadership role over the years. “I felt like senior year was the best year because I got to see everything fall into place,” she explains. “I feel like this class is the reason why most of us had the drive to do well.” This seems to be true because she’ll be attending The Evergreen State College full-time while working as a manager at KFC.

Kaitlin Daniels, on the other hand, joined AVID the second semester of freshman year, after she was invited by AVID teacher, Paul Dean and Rob Denning. Since then, she feels like everything has been good for her. She met new people and her grades improved, which was surprising for her because she thought that it would just be like any other class that she had taken. “I like it here,” summarizes Daniels.

“It’s okay to ask for help, that’s the big thing,” Daniels states since many students have trouble seeking help when they need it. She also thinks that people should pursue their dreams. That is why she will be attending Central Washington University to study design and production with a minor in fashion design.

Rob Denning has been working with these students since the program started. He had worked with other students who were either unsupported or floated in the middle. He had the personal desire and wanted to play a role. “The more I learned about AVID, the more I thought that it was a program that our district needed,” explains the Timberline teacher.

avid timberline high school

In June, Timberline High School will graduate its first class of AVID students.

He never expected the class would feel like a family to him. “You’ll never know how close you’ll get with students. You become part parent, mentor, counselor, coach, and dishwasher,” he jokes. Sometimes he felt guilty about pushing his students, but he’s also very proud of what his students have accomplished. He expects to hear great news from the soon to be graduates.

After this school year Denning will continue to teach and serve as the AVID coordinator. Denning’s final words on AVID were, “AVID doesn’t do the work for the student. It provides the structure and tools for goal oriented students to reach and exceed those goals,” he summarizes.


Five Fantastic Mother’s Day Hikes around Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 6:00am



By Douglas Scott

oly ortho logoFinding the perfect gift for Mother’s Day can be tough. If you get chocolate, it will be gone quickly. If you buy flowers, they will wilt and end up in the trash. You could always make something, but if you are like me, that never goes well. Instead of buying material goods, this Mother’s Day, why not spend some time with your mom out in the beautiful wilderness and natural areas around Thurston County?

Within a one-hour drive of Thurston County, we have access to numerous state and national parks plus other natural areas, making a destination into nature a fun and easily accessible gift for moms around the region. Ranging from easy treks for moms of all ages to hiking trails for active mothers, the following five destinations are sure to leave your mom happy and glad to have raised such a thoughtful, caring and nature-loving child.

Woodard Bay

hiking olympia

An expansive view awaits you at Woodard Bay. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

If you love seeing and hearing seals, watching eagles and blue herons fly overhead or just like to walk a simple trail to a beautiful watery view, Washington State Department of Natural Resources own Woodard Bay is just eight miles north of Olympia, making it the the perfect local destination. Recently remodeled, this short trail leads from a well maintained parking lot to a gorgeous overlook area.

Once the end of the railroad line, the area today is home to deer, birds, and sea life. During the months of April to August, the Woodard Bay region sees an influx of Blue Herons, as they have a rookery near the park. Watch and listen as these giant birds land in trees, squawk to communicate and occasionally battle in the trees and air for the perfect nesting spot.

Read more about a family visit to Woodard Bay in this article.

For the perfect ending to Mother’s Day, stop in at Bonjour Cupcakes in Olympia for a tasty treat.


Millersylvania State Park

olympia hiking

Millersylvania Park is just 11 miles south of Olympia. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Eleven short miles south of Olympia, Millersylvania State Park sits, awaiting your Mother’s Day adventure. What makes Millersylvania such nice place is that it offers a wide range of activities for mothers of all ages.

Whether you are interested in fishing along the shore of Deep Lake, hiking the 8.6 miles of trails, biking the 7.6 miles of bike friendly paths, or just enjoying a picnic lunch at any of the numerous picnic spots, spending a day at Millersylvania is a great getaway.

Built in 1935, the region has historical information spread throughout the park, as well as hikes along boardwalks and through old growth forests. If you are looking for a calm walk with mom in the beauty of Thurston County, Millersylvania State Park is perfect.

After the day of exploring nature, stop by Eastside Big Tom’s Burgers for the best milkshakes in town.


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

nisqually wildlife refuge

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge hosts weekly walks at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. Photo credit: Douglas Scott

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a classic destination for any time of the year, but during the month of May, it is a great place to see stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier all while watching migratory birds flying north for the summer.

Bald eagles, seals, blue heron, shorebirds and more are awaiting you if you hike the flat, five mile round trip trek to to the end of the boardwalk. Birding at Nisqually this time of the year is great, and bringing mom out here is sure to be a memorable experience. Watch for owls, peregrine falcons and the extremely rare glimpse of orcas as they swim along the Puget Sound.

With a visitor center, gift shop and benches spread throughout the refuge, moms of all ages will enjoy this scenic, wildlife filled destination.

For a great post-adventure snack, visit Norma’s Burgers on the east side of the freeway. With 43 flavors of shakes on their menu, you can’t go wrong here.


Paradise and Reflection Lake at Mount Rainier National Park

mount rainier

Check out this view from Spray Park in Mount Rainier National Park. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Those looking for a memorable trip on Mother’s Day should really consider taking a trip to Mount Rainier. Just 1.5 hours from Olympia, Mount Rainier’s Paradise region is close and offers jaw-dropping views, great hikes and fantastic opportunities to reconnect with the beauty of our mountain.

Thanks to the low snowpack, the roads around Mount Rainier are open, allowing for more serious adventurers to hit up trails and drive around the mountain.

Whether you choose to hike one of the nine incredible roadside hikes around Mount Rainier, or decide to take the short trails around Paradise, you can’t go wrong. Make sure you do stop at Reflection Lake below Paradise, if the weather is clear, the view is incredible.

If you do head out this way, also be aware that the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad is having Mother’s Day train ride. More information an be found on their website.


Staircase Loop in Olympic National Park

olympia hiking

Head into the Olympics to experience the Staircase Loop. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Ninety minutes from downtown Olympia, Olympic National Park’s Staircase Loop Trail is waiting for you and your mom to explore the path.

At two miles in length, this short trail is one of the best loop trails in the state, taking those who hike it next to the Skokomish River, through old growth forests and across a picturesque bridge before looping back to the ranger station.

For those looking for a tougher Mother’s Day hike, Staircase has numerous great hikes and fantastic views of the wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula. With wildflowers blooming in the forest and along the riverbank, taking a trip to Staircase is sure to help reconnect you and your mom with both nature and each other.

For an added bonus stop by Hoodsport Coffee Company for delicious ice cream and great coffee.

Find more Mother’s Day activities and events on our calendar.

Mother’s Day Made Easy with Thriftway’s Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Thurston Talk - Wed, 05/06/2015 - 6:00am



mothers day olympia

Sold only twice a year, Thriftway’s hand-dipped chocolate strawberries will make Mother’s Day great.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” This is sage advice from cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, better known as the man behind Snoopy, Woodstock, and Charlie Brown. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a Mother’s Day treat, he’s 100% right about the chocolate.

Only twice a year, Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway host their delicious hand-dipped chocolate strawberry event. On Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you can wow your loved ones with the freshest spring berries, individually dunked and decorated into a gift they won’t soon forget.

Produce supervisor Nate Conant says that berries will be dipped (while supplies last) at both Thriftway locations from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9. Tables will be set up in the front of each store with a warm chocolate fountain supplying every strawberry’s favorite pairing. Conant acknowledges that “the customers really enjoy having them done fresh for all to see.”

mothers day olympia

Julie adds some extra pizzazz to the season’s freshest berries.

Supplies of these rare gems often sell out so visit early. The berries cost $3.99 for 2, $6.99 for 4, and $12.99 for 10. In past years, Thriftway has typically sold well over 1000 berries at each two-day event.

Unfortunately special or pre-orders are not available as “we are very busy just keeping up with demand,” explains Conant.

While you’re picking up a Mother’s Day treat, be sure to take a moment and enjoy Thriftway’s many other weekend events. To enhance your berry dessert, visit the Produce Tent Sale at the downtown Bayview location which runs Friday through Sunday. There you can find demonstrations and samples of many unique, fresh treats. On Saturday May 9, Bayview also hosts their first annual Livin’ on the Wedge Local Cheese Festival from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., an outdoor BBQ hosted by Bayview Catering from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and local wine tastings from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

ThrifteCard members can also take advantage of the third annual Housewares Appreciation Event which runs through May 10. Any blue-tagged houseware merchandise purchased during the sale will earn members a 10% reward in their account wallet. Store buyers brought in many new tools and gadgets to make life easier for all mom’s, chefs, and chief dishwashers.

If you’re a multitasker by habit or necessity, visit the Thriftway website and view their Weekly Ad online to give yourself an excuse to wander this weekend full of fun and free samples. Who knows, maybe you’ll taste a fruit, cheese, or dessert that will become a new family favorite. Pick up fresh, local bacon cheeseburgers and take care of dinner altogether!

Ralph’s Thriftway is located at 1908 East 4th and Bayview is at 516 West 4th in downtown Olympia.

Olympia Wedding and Event Venue Public Hearing Postponed

Janine's Little Hollywood - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:33pm

Above: To the far left of the picture, the framework of a 3,000 square foot white plastic tent at the Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake is still up, in violation of a temporary use permit. The tent, as currently constructed, is not allowed under International Fire Code and other state and city codes. The City of Olympia has requested that it be fully removed by May 11.  By Janine Unsoeldwww.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.comA public hearing set for May 11th regarding Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake has been postponed until at least July. The hearing was scheduled to be held in front of the city’s hearing examiner to determine if the venue, a wedding and event business located at 915 and 1007 Deschutes Parkway SW near downtown Olympia, is commercial in nature. Bart Zier, who currently does not have a permit to operate his business, is requesting a conditional use permit from the City of Olympia for the rental of a residence for wedding and social events. Zier is also requesting the construction of a 2,800 square foot attached covered patio to the residences.The venue, which has a view of the state Capitol Dome and downtown, has several contractual commitments for future weddings, including one scheduled for May 31. The property is located in an area zoned single family residential and has incurred documented city code violations since 2013. Zier was most recently fined $1,026 on March 7 for his third violation in three months for not removing a large, omnipresent plastic white tent, as required under a temporary use permit.

At a city site review planning meeting on April 22, staff voted to recommend denial of the conditional use permit application to the hearing examiner. If the hearing examiner did approve a permit, staff created a lengthy list of recommended conditions for approval.At that point, Zier determined that he needed legal counsel, and hired Phillips Burgess PLLC of Olympia, who filed a motion for postponement of the hearing from May 11 to a date no earlier than June 30, 2015. The motion was filed with the city on May 1. The city agreed to the motion, and a hearing may occur in July, said Cari Hornbein, interim principal planner for the City of Olympia, who is handling the case. According to an email dated May 4, attorney Heather Burgess says that Zier is agreeing to the city’s request to not hold events on the property through July 31. “All currently scheduled events are being cancelled,” she states in the email.Zier is also required to completely remove all walls and structural remnants of the tent frame structure on the property by no later than May 11. In the email, Burgess requests an informal meeting with the city to see if there is some way Zier can be permitted to use the property for events in some form.Native Archaeological Site DisturbedLetters from concerned neighbors and state and local agencies continue to be received by the city regarding the case.In a letter submitted to the city on April 30, the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) states that there is a Native American archaeological site in the area currently occupied by Grand Terrace on Capitol Way. Archaeological sites are protected from disturbance on both public and private lands in Washington State. The letter, also submitted to representatives of the Nisqually and Squaxin Tribes, states that it appears that development work was undertaken on the property since the archaeological site was recorded as a shell midden in 2002. According to the agency, shell middens are villages, camp sites, or shellfish processing areas, composed of a dark, organically rich soil with shell or shell fragments, artifacts and fire-cracked rock.The area along Deschutes Parkway is within the ceded area of the Squaxin Island Tribe, and is on the original shoreline of Budd Inlet. No permits were found on file for development of the site, says the letter written by Gretchen Kaehler, an archaeologist for the department. Under state law, failure to obtain permits is punishable by civil fines, penalties, and criminal prosecution.According to the letter, concerned tribes may also choose to pursue civil action in state or federal court, investigations and prosecution as well. A view of the property on Thurston County Geodata shows a dramatic loss of trees and disturbance of the property. For more information about the Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake case, go to Little Hollywood,, and see the April 26, 2015 story,“Olympia Wedding and Event Venue in Question.” For future stories, use the search button and type in key words.Above: Standing water in this picture taken April 26 indicates a possible wetland near the railroad tracks along Deschutes Parkway in front of the Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake business. 

Fran’s Chocolate in Georgetown, Seattle

union stationThe Rebels were lucky once more… the sun was shining on us with blue sky as a backdrop.  Travel is so much more fun when the weather cooperates!

To the left is the breathtaking renovated Union Station in Seattle.  It’s no longer used as a train station (the current Amtrak train station, the King Street station, is across 4th Avenue from here).  This building is the headquarters for Sound Transit and clean restrooms :-0  So, yes we stopped here before boarding the bus to Georgetown.

georgetown signGeorgetown is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, established in 1852.  Georgetown existed as an independent city from 1904 to 1910, when it was annexed by Seattle.  In recent years this area (south of the SODO/Stadium district) has been revitalized and has become a hot-bed for artists and new restaurants.

The highlight of this trip was to visit the Fran’s Chocolate, which recently relocated to Georgetown.  The factory is the original Rainier Brewery, built in 1892.  (This was the brewery until the early 1900’s, when it moved just north of the Spokane Street viaduct).

frans chocolate workersThe factory has a huge tasting room and gift shop as you enter the building.  You are greeted at the door by their trademark chocolate covered salted caramel.  Yum.  There are plate glass window facing the production area, which is operational until about 1:00 pm.  The day we were there three women were dipping macadamia nut candies into a swirling vat of chocolate.

A new feature of the factory is a tour of the facility, which includes tasting.  The tour costs $10.00.

After viewing the chocolate making, we scattered to find lunch.  La Fonda Catrina, georgetownMany were very happy with their meal at La Fonda Catrina, which is directly across the street from Fran’s.  Here’s a sampling of what was for lunch!  Brooke said they had the best mole’ EVER!

A few of us ate at the Square Knot, and had an excellent BLT salad.  Others ate at the Hitchcock Deli, of Bainbridge Island fame.

After lunch we explored the neighborhood… finding lots of treasures spots.  A favorite was the “District” an antique/consignment shop which also held a regular auction.  Fun and unusual reasonably priced items.  The Georgetown Trailer Park Mall was fun to look at, even though it is only open on weekends in the spring.  Vintage trailers are used as storefronts.  Fun idea!

We were ready to head home about 2:30, so we caught the bus which took us back to the International District bus tunnel.  From there we walked to the Sounder Station to catch our train.

Another satisfying adventure!

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