Recent local blog posts

Shopping Perks for Valentine’s Day at Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway

Thurston Talk - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 2:48pm

ThurstonTalk

 

thriftway stores

Ralph’s Thriftway Meat and Seafood Manager Adam Beasley wants to make your Valentine’s a truly decadent night.

Ahh, Valentine’s Day – that celebration of all things pink and lovey, when we spend hours looking through racks of cards, flowers, candy, and jewelry to wow that special someone. Why not make it easier on yourself and earn a free luxury dinner for two, simply by shopping for everyday groceries?

Dining-related gifts accounted for almost 35% of Valentines spending in recent years. With more than 60% of consumers jumping on the pink and red bandwagon (resulting in 11,000 children conceived as a result!), it can be a delightful—if overwhelming—mid-winter holiday.

Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway have long been a source of inspiration, top quality ingredients, and committed community involvement. This year they’re proud to again offer their ‘Steak and Lobster for Two’ promotion where daily purchases can result in the holiday meal of your dreams.

Through February 12, every dollar spent counts as 1 Cupid Point in your ThrifteCard wallet. The ThrifteCard program is not only free but counts towards specialty food rewards; it earns special offers, event notification, and electronic receipts. When you’ve acquired 400 points, you’re eligible for two 4 ounce lobster tails and two 12 ounce sirloin steaks, to be picked up on February 13 and 14.

Storman’s Marketing Manager Carly Brettmann explains that “people love this promotion because they don’t have to change their normal shopping routine and they earn themselves a great dinner as a reward of continuing to shop with us.” She estimates that they gave away almost 400 dinners last year to their faithful ThrifteCard members.

thriftway stores

Your special someone AND your wallet will thank you for free steak and lobster.

With more than 50% of home-cooking consumers classifying their skills as “confident in the kitchen,” turning Valentine’s into a night of decadence isn’t hard. Steak and lobster are a safe bet for gluten-free and paleo diets, and require little more than heat, salt, and pepper to impress. Add one of Thriftway’s stellar bottles of wine, some oysters on the side, a sweet treat for dessert, and a bouquet to set the mood and you’re sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Need another exciting reason to drop in to your neighborhood Thriftway? The same dollars=points that will earn your Valentine’s dinner also enter you into their Big Game Giveaway. Through January 28, purchases with your ThrifteCard also enter you to win a 40” Samsung LED HDTV with 1080p display and SmartTV capability. The winner will be announced on Thursday, January 29 so you’ll have plenty of time to set it up before the Superbowl comes our way.

Whether shopping or browsing, looking for unique ingredients or inspiration, Thriftway is sure to have exactly what you need. Either way, it’s worth a visit in January; the results could put a much-needed spring in your step for the remainder of winter’s dreary visit.

Bayview Thriftway is located in downtown Olympia at 516 West 4th and Ralph’s can be found at 1908 East 4th. Call or stop by for additional contest details.

Glengarry Glen Ross at Lakewood Playhouse

South Sound Arts - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 9:43am



Published in The News Tribune, Jan. 16, 2015
From left: W. Scott Pinkerston, Frank Roberts, Kyle Sinclairand Jim Winkler in "Glengarry Glen Ross at Lakewood Playhouse. Photo by Kate Paterno-Lick. Every year at this point in their season Lakewood Playhouse take a chance on a less-than-mainstream show, knowing that while ticket sales will likely be less than those of their more tried-and-true shows but in the conviction that gutsy and more controversial shows deserve an airing. Their “outside the box” show for this season is David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Tony and Olivier award, and controversial primarily for its liberal use of adult language.
Four ruthless and desperate real estate agents in the office of Mitch & Murray are locked in a no-holds-barred battle to be top dog, each trying every sleazy trick imaginable to sell worthless plots of land while an office manager they despise (Kyle Sinclair) holds valuable leads for only the top closers and a representative from the home office (Mike Slease) berates them so vehemently as to put the most vicious of drill sergeants to shame. Two of the agents conspire to break in and steal confidential files from the office and sell them to a rival agency, and a police detective (Dave Hall) is called in to investigate.
Much of the first act is taken up with exposition. In three scenes we see first the hatchet man from the main office challenging the salesmen and telling them how worthless they are; and then two of the salesmen, Moss (Alan Wilkie) and Aaronow (James Winkler) plotting to steal from the office; and finally the top dog, Roma (W. Scott Pinkston), cajoling a rather wimpy James Lingk (Frank Roberts) into buying land he neither wants nor needs nor can afford.
This first act is filled with anger and bleakness. Then in the second act everything boils over and a lot of lusty humor is injected into the otherwise depressing story.
Lakewood Playhouse’s in-the-round stage configuration is ideal for this production. The desks in the Mitch & Murray fill the floor and the audience is up close and drawn into the action. John Munn’s direction and the acting of the entire ensemble cast are outstanding. You forget these actors are playing parts as they become the cutthroat characters they portray. How can anyone watch this without simultaneously hating and admiring Roma and feeling the deep sadness in Joseph Grant, a veteran of many shows at Lakewood Playhouse, turns in one of his best performances ever as Levene, once a top dog and now sadly out of touch with modern sales methods.
Two of the actors, Hall and Pinkston, retired from acting 18 and 13 years ago respectively, and this is a comeback performance for each. Their acting abilities seem to have ripened throughout those years. Pinkston’s wide range of expression is truly impressive, and Hall, who says very little, is nevertheless convincing as the police detective.
Slease is also a well-known and popular Tacoma area actor. He plays the man from the home office with bravado. His tirade in act one is cringe-worthy.
Winkler is also a Playhouse veteran who has been away for a decade, last appearing on this stage in “The Guys” in 2004. We’re told in the program that he studied under the great Stella Adler in Hollywood and New York, and that experience shows in his portrayal of Aaronow.
“Glengarry Glen Ross” is not an easy show to watch. It is anything but a feel good show. Anyone who is easily offended by tough adult language should avoid it. But for people who appreciate taut drama and great acting, this is the show to see.
alec@alecclayton.com
Check Alec’s blog at alecclayton.blogspot.com for reviews of other area theatrical productions. Upcoming reviews include “Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean”at Olympia Little Theatre and The Great Gatsby at Tacoma Little Theatre.

WHAT: Glengarry Glen RossWHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 1WHERE: Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., LakewoodTICKETS: $25.00, $22.00 military, $21.00 seniors and $19.00 students/educators INFORMATION: 253-588-0042, www.lakewoodplayhouse.org
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Wandering Lucy “I Know One Thing”

K Records - Sat, 01/17/2015 - 12:46am
This is the power of the guitar and bass – drum  combo that has conquered rec rooms, coffee shops and community hall stages world-wide (New Zealand in triplicate!). Lindi Coyne on the march. K Song of the Day: Wandering Lucy “I Know One Thing”, from  Leap Year [KLP053]. The Wandering Lucy album Leap Year [KLP053] […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Amaranth Borsuk and Andy Fitch at Evergreen

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 7:35pm
Event:  Wed, 01/21/2015 - 11:30am - 1:00pm Amaranth Borsuk and Andy Fitch
Wednesday, January 21st
11:30-1:00 pm in Lecture Hall 1
The Evergreen State College

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Amaranth Borsuk and Andy Fitch: Wednesday, January 21st, 11:30-1:00 pm in Lecture Hall 1

Evergreen Artists Lecture Series - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 5:20pm
Amaranth & AndyAmaranth Borsuk is the author of Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012), and, with Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012). Abra, a collaboration with Kate Durbin forthcoming from 1913 Press, recently received an NEA-sponsored Expanded Artists’ Books grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago and will be issued in 2014 as an artist’s book and iPad app created by Ian Hatcher. Her collaborative digital projects include an erasure bookmarklet, The Deletionist, with Nick Montfort and Jesper Juul, and Whispering Galleries, a site-specific LeapMotion erasure work for the city of New Haven. Another collection of poems is forthcoming from Kore Press. Amaranth is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell, where she also teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics. Andy Fitch’s most recent books are Sixty Morning Talks and (with Amaranth Borsuk) As We Know. Ugly Duckling soon will release his Sixty Morning Walks and Sixty Morning Wlaks. He recently published a critical book, Pop Poetics: Reframing Joe Brainard, with Dalkey Archive Press. With Cristiana Baik, he is currently assembling the Letter Machine Book of Interviews. He has a collaborative book forthcoming from 1913 Press. He is a founder of The Conversant and currently edits Essay Press. He teaches in the University of Wyoming’s MFA program.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Matter Gallery to close

South Sound Arts - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 12:28pm



 Published in The Weekly Volcano, Jan. 15, 2015


Interior Matter Gallery. Photo by Gabi Clayton

Pat Tassoni's lamps at Matter GalleryMatter Gallery in Olympia is closing at the end of the month. At least in their present location. The owners of this artist-run gallery say they are looking into options for reopening in another location, but at least for the foreseeable near future they are history. And what a history.
Jo Gallaugher stablished the gallery in downtown Olympia in2009. She started out with 48 artists including George Kurzman, Christopher Gerber, Don Freas from Olympia; Eric Osborne, Vblast, Russ Morgan from Seattle; Brian Mock, Joel Heidel from Portland; Jason Brown from Bellingham and Don O’Connor from Ellensburg. Matter features artworks that, in Gallaugher’s words “incorporate recycled, reclaimed, and responsibly harvested materials” including a balance of functional crafts and fine art pieces.
Today they represent more than 100 artists and is one of the most popular South Sound galleries among fellow artists and arts patrons, having been named best gallery in Olympia by the Weekly Volcano’s reader poll in 2011, 2012 and 2014. In its five years of operation Matter has surely provided more exhibition opportunities for local and regional artists than any other gallery in Western Washington.
Gallaugher moved to Seattle in March 2014, and ownership of the gallery was taken over by a small group of owner-artists who ran it as a cooperative venture. Shortly before Christmas they announced — on Facebook, naturally — that their last day in business at the Washington Street location would be Jan. 31. The final straw was a rent hike hitting in the slowest months of the year, which the Facebook posting said was “more than we can sustain as a small gallery featuring green/sustainable outsider and non-traditional art. We are not giving up, we just need to fall back, regroup and as Jude put it, ‘hibernate to incubate’." (Jude is co-owner Jude Manley.) I recently spoke with Manley, who said they have looked into some possibilities for a new location.
Gallaugher said: “I was inspired to create Matter when I saw the work of Olympia artists George Kurzman, Jude Manley, Pat Tassoni, Bil Fleming, Christopher Gerber, Ruby Re-Usable, and Jennifer Kuhns. Some I saw at ArtsWalk, some were recommended to me by patrons. Throughout the following five years, many other very special artists joined Matter. While I found it to be very hard work, it was incredibly rewarding to be surrounded by inspiring artists and artworks — and wonderful patrons. I came to know so many as friends, delivered work to their homes, called when new work from their favorite artists arrived. Conversations with patrons… that’s what I miss the very, very most.”
Not many businesses of any kind offer that kind of personalized service.
Gallaugher went on to say: “It’s been a tough road for all storefronts downtown this past year, and the artists who took the reins when I moved to Seattle in March have done a remarkable job. I respect their decision to rethink how Matter will operate, leaving this particular venue. I have faith that Matter patrons will support Roxanna, Pat, and Jude (and all the artists) so that a positive transition takes place. Quarterly pop-up galleries… who knows? Matter will continue to exist… it will simply be in some other form.”
Artist Steven Suski said, “For me it was great having my art at Matter to validate artists who make art out of junk or recycled material. Matter’s art pushed my boundaries of what art can be made of and what can be art. Matter's closing is a real loss of diversity for Olympias art community.”
Operating an art gallery is a tough business. Since I have been reviewing art in Olympia and Tacoma I have seen more than a dozen fine galleries bite the dust. If Matter is not able to reopen in some other location it will be a great loss to the area.
When I visited last week there was more empty space than I have ever seen there. Some of the artists have already picked up their work. But others are staying until the end, and the gallery is offering a 25 percent discount on all artwork through Jan. 31. Matter Gallery, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m.
Sunday and Tuesday, closed Monday, 422 Washington St. SE, Olympia, 360.943.1760]


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Au Revoir, Matter Gallery

Olympia Dumpster Divers - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 11:15am

Matter Gallery is closing at the end of the month.  Matter has been part of the recycle art scene since September 2009, featuring art work made from repurposed, upcycled, and/or sustainable materials created by artists up and down the west coast, many of them our friends from the Pacific Northwest.

Jo Gallaugher, founder of Matter Gallery, July 2012

Jo Gallaugher, founder of Matter Gallery, July 2012

It was a colorful, eclectic place, crammed full of interesting and unusual things, like Pat Tassoni‘s lamps “…culled from the consumer detritus of the American wasteland and reverse-engineered with alien technology;” the paintings and furniture made with wooden boats, sail remnants, and other odd stuff by George KurzmanMicki Shampang-Voorhies‘ “kinky shoes” made from scrap metal and old tools; rustic reclaimed metal sculpture by Pattie YoungLoran Scruggs‘ bottle cap whistles and tin assemblages; Jennifer Kuhns’ mosaicsStu Gullstrand‘s masks made from junk he finds along the railroad tracks and in dumpsters (really, I have taken walks with him and his dog in their SoDo neighborhood); plastic bag babies and soda pop top jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable; and Steven Suski’s paintings and assemblages.

“For me it was great having my art at Matter to validate artists who make art out of junk or recycled material. Matter’s art pushed my boundaries of what art can be made of and what can be art. Matter’s closing is a real loss of diversity for Olympia’s art community.” — artist Steven Suski, on the closing of Matter Gallery

Read more about Matter Gallery closing in the Weekly Volcano

 Pat Tassoni and former employee Louise Morgan

Matter Gallery owners 2014                                                                                                                                          front row: Roxanna Groves, Cha Davis, Jude Manley                                                                                back row: Pat Tassoni and former employee Louise Morgan

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

A tribute to artist Ron Hinson

South Sound Arts - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 8:45am


Weekly Volcano cover story Jan. 15, 2015
Ron Hinson in front of one of his paintings. Photo courtesy the artistOne of the South Sound’s greatest living artists has at long last been given some of the recognition he deserves. Ron Hinson is revered by his fellow artists but has never before been recognized as he should have been by the art establishment. Now South Puget Sound Community College and Tacoma Community College, have acquired Hinson paintings that will be permanently displayed in various locations on their campuses.
Ron Hinson in front of one of his paintings. Photo courtesy the artistHinson, now 80 years old and in failing health, invited art professionals to an open house studio-closing event and offered to give away his painted constructions. Gallery directors Nathan Barnes from SPSCC and Jennifer Olson-Rudenko from TCC offered modest donations for the paintings they chose — four of his painted constructions for TCC and nine works including a large triptych and eight of his painted constructions.
Three of his works have been installed in the Percival Dining Room in the Culinary Arts Center/ Student Union Building at SPSCC. “That entire building, like much of campus, went through an extensive remodel last year,” Barnes said. An art purchase call had already gone out and the three pieces were selected and purchased for $3,000. In addition to the pieces purchased by SPSCC, Hinson donated other painted constructions. The other pieces will be hung around campus in buildings such as the new library.
The four works donated to TCC have been installed in the Harned Center. Hinson’s paintings have been included in numerous shows in the TCC art gallery, and the college had previously purchased one of his painted constructions that now hangs in the entrance to the Art Department. As TCC spokesperson Rachel Payne put it, “The Harned Center interior just got a whopping dose of color.”
Ron Hinson's paintings in the dining room at South Puget Sound Community College. Photo courtesy SPSCC art galleryHis works are made of Masonite edged with wood and painted with vibrant acrylics. The constructions are complex and require special boxes for storage and transport. Hinson always reassembles and hangs them himself or supervises the hanging. Mechanic Dave Wellsbury and Olson-Rudenko installed the four art pieces at TCC under Hinson’s direction. Proper lighting is important to Hinson, who, according to Payne, “doesn’t want the abstract planes of his work mucked up with shadows.”
“’Cause it creates shapes that I don’t want,” explained Hinson. “I want no illusions; I just want it to be the way it is.”
Installation is a complex process — sort of like putting together a 3D puzzle. Hanging the pieces at TCC took most of the day. They hang from small wooden wedges called French cleats, a solution suggested by a furniture-maker friend of Hinson and his wife June Kerseg-Hinson.“This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever put together in my life!” Wellsbury told Hinson after they finished installing the first piece in the conference room.
His constructions are three-dimensional objects, but Hinson considers them paintings not sculptures because the surfaces of the shapes are conceived as planes on which to apply color. “The three-dimensionality makes possible shifts of relationships and openness of structure. It also reinforces the objectness of the painting rather than illusions on the surface,” he wrote in his artist statement.
They are sometimes based on things in the real world or even on historical personages or events (I own a piece of his that is his take on Jacque Louis David’s “Death of Marat”).  Sometimes descriptive titles are added, but for the most part they are untitled. He encourages viewers not to seek representational interpretations.
Barnes said, “Ron's work is visually striking and formally sophisticated. Simply put, his work is very good. But I think what's important here is that Ron ultimately chose to live in Olympia. And he has spent 30 plus years here if I'm not mistaken. He's an important part of the arts community. And even closer to home, Ron was an instructor in SPSCC's art department from 1989-2000. In this regards, SPSCC feels a strong sense of pride. And it's an honor to bring many of Ron's most ambitious works back to campus where the community can continue to benefit from his artistic contributions for years to come. The entire process of acquiring Ron's work was personally exhilarating for me because I got to see the community come together around the future of his work in a way that doesn't often materialize.” 
Hinson said, “I offered the painted construction as a gift to those interested in my artwork. My gallery director friends at TCC and SPSCC asked the Foundations at each college to accept as many of the painted constructions as they could into their permanent collections to be displayed in campus buildings. Both TCC and SPSCC have generously paid a modest monetary gift to me as a gesture of appreciation for my donation. I have deep gratitude to each college for making it possible for my artwork to be continuously on view to the public on their campuses.”
He said he will continue making art, “but not painted constructions,” when his health improves.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Morningside and Shell: An Outstanding Partnership

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 6:38am

ThurstonTalk

 

By Kathryn Millhorn

morningside

Rodney Catron cleans at the Cooper Point Road Shell Station.

As of November 2014, there were more than 9 million unemployed workers in our country. While these numbers may fluctuate by season, industry, and region, it’s still a staggering statistic. Successful employment is often the result of a combined team effort. Whether through networking, training, or word-of-mouth, we all rely on others to find that perfect fit.

Aristotle once said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work” and nowhere is that seen more than local small businesses that employ clients of Morningside’s Community Rehabilitation Program. This is a private, not-for-profit group which offers training and job placement for local individuals with disabilities. Morningside began more than 50 years ago and employs nearly 100 staff to cover six western Washington counties.

Locally, one business showcasing this winning partnership is the Retail Services of America (RSA) Shell gas station on Cooper Point Road near the Olympia Auto Mall. General Manager Eugene Zuniga and his team recently won Morningside’s 2014 Outstanding Employer Award for the quarter for “setting an example for how people with disabilities should be respected by customers and creating customized jobs that uniquely fit skill sets and interests. A great example of an accommodation is the way RSA Shell motivates employees based on their unique individual motivating factors. RSA Shell cares about the person as a whole and not just as an employee,” says Morningside employment consultant Sarah Stone.

Stone explains that the store’s success is a true team effort. “General Manager Eugene Zunigo is ambitious, open-hearted, and a positive natural support. He would like to hire more clients if it were possible.”

“This natural support that he offers trickles down to his employees who work with Morningside clients,” continues Stone. “Eugene checks in with the Morningside clients on a regular basis to inquire how they like their employment and how they are being treated by coworkers and customers. He talks about job safety and other generalities. Due to his example, Eugene’s employees also interact with Morningside clients in this way. They have become positive and inclusive natural supports, working with Morningside to ensure that each Morningside client has the support that they need to be successful.”

morningside

The Shell Station was recognized as Morningside’s 2014 Employer of the Year. Pictured (from left to right): back row – Britni Miles, Jim Larson (Morningside CEO), Shell Station owner Carol Adams, Zack Kirk, Marcia Zuniga, David McDonald, Eugene Zuniga, and Gina Romero. Seated (from left): Nicolas Cereghino, Trent Tomtan and Rodney Catron.

Shell employee, David McDonald, echoes this as well. “Morningside employees are great employees. They show up on time every time they are scheduled with positive can do attitudes. I’ve noticed that they bring smiles not only to my regular employees but to my customers as well. Once you give them defined tasks, they are excited to get to work which can be hard to find these days.”

Currently the RSA Shell employs four Morningside clients: Barbara, Rodney, Nick, and Trent. They have been at the station from 4-17 months and all work with a tremendous sense of pride. Whether their chief goal is a paycheck or free soda and new friendships, these industrious employees bring a smile to everyone they meet.

Stone and McDonald agree that the station “runs like clockwork. The supported employees that work there ensure that the gas pumps, convenience store, Oly Burger, Car Wash grounds, and the office is presentable to the public and clean for co-workers. The floors in the kitchen are deep cleaned everyday helping Shell pass health inspection and making the work place safer for their employees. Customers love to interact with Morningside clients, giving RSA Shell a reputation for being diverse and welcoming to all members of the community.”

Morningside employees typically fall into two responsibility levels for their assigned job coach. Some coaches periodically check in to ensure goals are being met while others stay on-site for the duration of the shift. Morningside coaches also work to implement skills taught by the organization’s job development team. This group provides interview practice, job skill preparation, and community/employer outreach.

The U.S. Department of Labor explains that “as the nation’s largest minority—comprising almost 50 million individuals—people with disabilities contribute to diversity, and businesses can enhance their competitive edge by taking steps to ensure they are integrated into their workforce… Perhaps more than any other group of people, individuals with disabilities have the ability to adapt to different situations and circumstances. As employees, they add to the range of viewpoints businesses need to succeed, offering fresh ideas on how to solve problems, accomplish tasks and implement strategies.”

It’s often difficult to see ideas put into action but the RSA Shell and Morningside have done just that. Stop by to see for yourself—and say hi—at their 2125 Caton Way location, just off the Hwy 101 Auto Mall exit.

Information about Morningside and their programs can be found online or by calling 360-943-0512.

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Thurston Talk - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 6:32am

ThurstonTalk

 

ymca logoHave you seen the Orcas visiting Budd Inet?  Have you tried one of our winter walks?  Have you sampled the pubs in our pub crawl?  With a diverse of stories filtering across our home page you are certain to find something interesting.  We strive to provide informative articles about the people, businesses and organizations doing good things in our community – plus, we love to highlight the local culture, nature and experiences that you can have in Olympia.  How are we doing?  Share your comments and story ideas with us.  We welcome your notes at submit@thurstontalk.com.

Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend.

  • Participate in a volunteer project in honor of Martin Luther King.  Find a complete list of activities, event and volunteer opportunities in this article.
  • Catch a live theater performance like Oly Improv’s production on Friday night.
  • Live guitar music is on tap at Traditions Cafe on Friday night.
  • Dig razor clams at the beach on Saturday and Sunday.  Find tide information here.
  • Don your favorite Elvis-inspired clothing and run a 5k to celebrate his birthday.  Get details on the race here.
  • Get that heirloom jewelry item appraised on Saturday at The Gift Gallery.
  • Attend a MLK lecture by Ernie Green to support scholarships for local youth.  Full details on Saturday’s event can be found here.
  • Enjoy a MLK-inspired concert in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday afternoon.  Learn more about the Olympia Peace Choir here.
  • Visit either branch of the South Sound YMCA to learn more about their January membership drive.
  • Prepare for your wedding at the South Sound Wedding Show on Sunday morning.
  • Find a big screen at the Lucky Eagle Casino to watch the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.  Read more here.
  • Watch a silent film at The Washington Center on Sunday afternoon.
  • Pull on your boots and dance country at the Olympia Elks Lodge on Sunday evening.
  • Plan a winter getaway to Seabrook or Iron Springs resort.
  • Play tourist in your home town during the legislative session.  Get our activity guide here.
  • Make a plan to visit the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.  It’s a treasure, no matter the season.
  • Celebrate the Seattle Seahawks with us.  Send us your favorite fan photos to submit@thurstontalk.com and we’ll add your picture to our image gallery.  Go Hawks!
  • Visit an open house event this weekend. Click here to see the list of VanDorm Realty’s open houses.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

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

Old Time Relijun Live in Austin, TX

K Records - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 12:47am
A fiery display of the Old Time Relijun charm, captured live in Austin, TX on their March 2008 U.S. tour in celebration of the Catharsis in Crisis [KLP1854] album (recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio). Featured here is the classic line-up of Aaron Hartman, double bass, Arrington de Dionyso, vocal + electric guitar, Germaine Baca, drums […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Mirah “Fleetfoot Ghost”

K Records - Fri, 01/16/2015 - 12:40am
Beautiful, acoustic, just the way you want Mirah to be.  K Song of the Day: Mirah, “Fleetfoot Ghost” from her Changing Light [KLP253] album. You can view a version of “Fleetfoot Ghost” from Mirah‘s On the Hill Session over at the Pink Elephant’s Graveyard HERE.   The Mirah album Changing Light [KLP253] is available now […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy Launches at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 9:14pm

ThurstonTalk

 

Submitted by Pacific Mountain Workforce Development

saint martins jblmOn January 12, sixteen transitioning service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) began their 13 week fellowship through the newly launched Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy.  This one of a kind program will provide fellows an opportunity to learn through hands on experience with a corporate leader in the Seattle area, and additionally through 120 hours of in classroom corporate management training at City University of Seattle.

“The Fellowship Academy is a first in the nation program for transitioning service personnel.  It represents the very best in collaboration between the military, the public workforce system and corporate America.  The program matches talented individuals with the needs of our businesses.  They previously served our country and now can serve the local economy….triple win!” – Cheryl Fambles, CEO of Pacific Mountain Workforce Development.

This Fellowship developed in partnership between Camo2Commerce, a program of Pacific Mountain Workforce Develop, and Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will provide transitioning service members with at least 10 years of leadership experience the opportunity to gain familiarity in the civilian market prior to transitioning.  Each of the Fellows will be hosted by a participating corporate partners – ThyssenKrupp Aerospace NA, Amazon, Starbucks, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Compass Group, Thurston Economic Development Council, TrueBlue, Inc., Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and Williams-Sonoma.

The overarching goal in providing this enhanced educational fellowship opportunity with select industry partners is to provide a transition service that currently does not exist.  The Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy provides educational, networking, training opportunities, and potential employment within a wider array of industries for experienced transitioning service members.” – Justin Constantine, wounded veteran and senior consultant at the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program.

Starting this week on JBLM, the 16 service members from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, will be spending four days in the classroom beginning to transition their military leadership skills to what they will need for their next mission of working for corporate America.  Following the first week through the end of the Academy, the Fellows will spend Monday through Wednesday with their host, learning through hands on experience.  They will have the opportunity to not only learn about the company, and refine their networking abilities, but will be working on projects that will hone their skills.  On Thursdays, the Fellows will be back in the classroom gaining additional knowledge that will supplement their learning in areas such as project management, business writing, and other topics necessary for success in their transition.  Fridays will be available for each of the Fellows to continue their service obligations, and efforts needed to transition.  The 13 weeks will culminate with a graduation.

Ultimately we believe this experience will enable these Fellows the opportunity to maximize their experience in serving us proudly by learning the skills needed to be successful in transitioning into careers in corporate America.

“This project could not be successful without the partnership with Hiring Our Heroes, as they provided much needed expertise that supplements, what Camo2Commerce brings to the table and, of course, the ongoing support from the Command Staff at JBLM, who saw the vision in this project.  Along the way, we have also received support in developing this program from ThyssenKrupp Aerospace, the Washington State Employment Security Department, Combat Power Essentials, Tacoma-Pierce Chamber of Commerce, WorkForce Central and additional funding support from Operation: GoodJobs.” – Sean Murphy, Camo2Commerce Project Director.

Additional Information can be found at:  Camo2Commerce.com/heroes/

Camo2Commerce: This full service transition program is a U.S. Department of Labor funded pilot project working to integrate the public workforce system into the JBLM transition process.  Working with transitioning service members from JBLM on a one-on-one level, Camo2Commerce has successfully placed over 250 service members into employment.

Hiring Our Heroes: Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment

County Moves Toward New System for Clerk and Superior Court

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 9:00pm

ThurstonTalk

 

Submitted by Thurston County

System offers improved document management

Thurston County officials move one step closer toward implementation of a new Case Management System (CMS) for Superior Courts and County Clerks in Washington State.

The Thurston County Superior Court Judges, Presiding Judge Carol Murphy and Thurston County Clerk Linda Myhre Enlow along with the Thurston County Commissioners are unified in their decision to implement the document management system component of the new statewide case management system.  Linda Myhre Enlow and Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller formally presented this decision to Callie Dietz, Washington State Court Administrator, and the Project Steering Committee on January 13 during their regular monthly meeting.

“Implementation of this integrated document management system will provide easy access to court documents, the ability to store documents locally and is cost effective to maintain.  This system will benefit all parties involved.” said Enlow.  She says there will also be financial savings to the county over the long-term which benefits everyone.

Thurston County officials will work closely in collaboration with Tyler Technologies and the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts to facilitate development and implementation of the case management system.

Vacancy for Lacey City Council Advisory Boards and Commissions

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 8:50pm

ThurstonTalk

 

Submitted by the City of Lacey

The Lacey City Council is currently recruiting for a professional vacancy on the Historical Commission with a term that is set to expire September 13, 2016. Applications will be accepted through January 31.

The Lacey Historical Commission provides leadership in historic preservation and developing information concerning the historical significance of the local Lacey area. The Historical Commission meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Historical Commission members serve three-year terms with a two-term limit. Because this position will be filling a vacancy, the appointed commissioner will be eligible for reappointment for two full terms after this term is set to expire.

The vacancy must be filled by a professional who has experience in evaluating historic resources. A person with a background as an architect, historian, or planner would qualify for the position. Applicants for this vacancy can be either a resident of the City of Lacey or reside within Lacey’s Urban Growth Area.

If you are interested in serving on the Lacey Historical Commission, and would like to receive an application, please contact Jenny Bauersfeld at (360) 413-4387, or by email at jbauersf@ci.lacey.wa.us. You may also download an application from the City’s website. Please submit a letter of interest and resume along with your application.

Rob Rice Homes: Best Choices for Huge Generations

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 2:50pm

ThurstonTalk

 

Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes

To Millennials, the open and  casual floor plans are a priority.(Evergreen Heights photo compliments of Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign)

To Millennials, the open and casual floor plans are a priority.(Evergreen Heights photo compliments of Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign)

The two largest generations today are out looking for homes.

With more than 75 million “Baby Boomers” in the U.S. and even more “Millennials”, their home preferences are in high demand and Rob Rice Homes is responding to the need with superior selections and quality choices for both generations.

The well-known Baby Boomers are searching for their perfect retirement home to safely invest their hard-earned resources and home equity.

With the improving economy, the under-35 Millennials are finally getting good-paying jobs, marrying and looking for a home to set down roots and start on the road to personal wealth-building with homeownership.

Boomers and Millennials can find their home in one of the eight Rob Rice Communities, customize one from the Select Home Sites in Thurston County or have it custom built on their own lot.

All have the convenient location, a choice of thoughtful floor plans and long lasting home value that satisfies both of these huge demographics.

The Millennials: Location, Location, Location

Since they have delayed their entry into the market, many Millennials are skipping the idea of a one bedroom condo starter home and are looking for a place where they can raise a family and build equity.

 Barb Lally

Younger and older buyers want amenity-rich locations, like having a coffee shop or a biking trail nearby. (Kensington) Photo Credit: Barb Lally

When surveyed about their preferences, the Millennials overwhelmingly say they want to live in neighborhoods near the hubs of activity they are used to and close to everything they need—coffee shops, work, restaurants, bars and transportation—something they will find in Rob Rice Communities that have been developed with a vision for community convenience.

For the Millennial, the single most important feature of the home itself is its floor plan. They are looking for well-built homes that are cost- and energy-efficient with open floor plans that reflect how this group likes to socialize and live casually.

The brand new Noble plan at the gorgeous Rob Rice Community of Campus Peak easily facilitates that relaxed living. The homes there are set among beautiful Northwest backdrops and are within minutes of the bustling and amenity-rich Hawks Prairie business area and easy access to I-5.

Campus Peak homes are energy efficient and have many stunning features to offer, yet their prices are within reach of a Millennial working household.

The Rob Rice Community of Kensington in Lacey is within walking distance to vast community resources including a large home improvement store, coffee shop, local watering hole, a myriad of restaurants, and three grocery stores and yet it uniquely borders the forested Western Chehalis Trail for biking and jogging enthusiasts.

Kensington has floor plans with kitchens that open out to a light and bright great room for the casual living that Millennials enjoy. These gorgeous homes are built with upscale features that are included in the price of the home and Millennials will also appreciate maintenance-free front lawns for their active lifestyles.

At the Villages at South Hill the Legacy series or “cottage homes” provide low- maintenance living and a reasonable price. These homes have become a popular choice for first-time homebuyers as well as retirees. They are nested around a park-like green space creating community and convenience while the community lawns are fully maintained.

Boomers want their Best Home Ever

 Barb Lally

Rob Rice Homes have high value with premium features included in the price of the home. (Chestnut Village) Photo Credit: Barb Lally

Studies show that four out of five Boomers want to “age in place” and are therefore looking for location convenience as well a floor plan that allows easier living.

They often are looking to downsize from their family home and want to sink their resources from its sale into upgrading their next home. They have worked hard and want to enjoy a community with carefree living, little lawn maintenance and, like the Millenials, close to community amenities.

The Rob Rice Community of the Villages at South Hill has drawn a lot of attention from retiring Baby Boomers not only in the South Sound but from King County and beyond.

It’s convenient location to Puyallup’s South Hill and its stunning floor plans for ramblers and homes with downstairs master bedrooms, have made the homes a fitting choice for Boomers. Rob Rice has responded to the huge demand for these homes in the Phase II development of this sought-after community, set to open late winter of  2015.

Chestnut Village in Olympia and Evergreen Heights in Lacey are also superior Rob Rice Communities that offer floor plans for this generation. The convenient locations, the fully-landscaped yards, the many premium features have made these homes a popular choice for retirees.

All of these homes have quality cabinetry finishes, handsome hardwood floors, shiny granite or quartz countertops, designer backsplash tile and stylish lighting that are standard in the cost of the homes making them an incomparable value.

Both generations seek Value

 Barb Lally

At Villages at South Hill, homes have upscale features and low maintenance lawns for retirees and active young families. Photo Credit: Barb Lally

Both of these generations are “value-conscious” when it comes to spending their money on a home.

Millennials are cautious because of what they experienced in the recession and Boomers have worked their entire lives for their money. Both want uncompromising quality and long-term investment value.

“We are known for the superior quality of our homes that maintain or often increase their value over the years,” says Rob Rice, who was voted the Best of South Sound builder for 2013. “They are some of the finest-built homes in the area providing the true value buyers seek. That is good news for any generation.”

For sales information:

Campus Peak and Chestnut Village: Contact the Coldwell Banker Team of Jeanne Tranum, Vonna Madeley & Leslie Shipe: www.coldwellbankerteam.com.

Evergreen Heights: Contact Jessica Volkman of Epic Realty, Inc at Jessica@robricehomes.com

Kensington: Contact Lucia Arroyo of Epic Realty, Inc. at lucia@robricehomes.com

Villages at South Hill: Contact Heather Keating of Epic Realty, Inc at Heather@robricehomes.com.

 

 

For information on Rob Rice Homes go to: www.robricehomes.com.

 

Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013. He has built more than 3000 homes over the last 30 years. 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.

 

 

 

John Tornow: Villain or Victim?

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 12:22pm
Event:  Sat, 01/31/2015 - 2:30pm - 4:30pm Author Lindstrom Discusses Infamous Grays Harbor Man

Was John Tornow a murderous wildman or misunderstood loner? Veteran newsman Bill Lindstrom has pursued the truth about John Tornow for almost 3 decades. The outcome of this work is a new book, “John Tornow: Villain or Victim?” Lindstrom will present a slide show and discuss the book, the research and the Tornow legend at the Lacey Timberland Library on Saturday, January 31 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

This meticulously researched history reads like a blend of mystery and tragedy as it reinterprets the life of an enigmatic man accused of heinous crimes. A veteran news reporter, Lindstrom poured over century-old court documents, transcriptions, contemporary news articles and interviews to produce an authoritative and compassionate account. He brings the Tornow family’s life and times alive, describing the daily routines and personal sorrows that led up to multiple murders, a 19-month manhunt and an enduring Northwest legend. Books will be available for sale and signing at this event. All programs at Timberland libraries are free and open to the public.

The Lacey Timberland Library is located at 500 College Street SE. For information, contact the library at (360) 491-3860 or visit www.TRL.org.

Media Contact: R.J. Burt, Public Relations Specialist, 704-4508; 877-284-6237 x 2508

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Rebecca Howard: An African-American Businesswoman in Early Olympia

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 6:44am

ThurstonTalk

 

By Jennifer Crooks

washington orthopaedic centerRebecca Howard is one of the most famous women to have lived in early Olympia. Although information on her is limited, she clearly lived a fascinating life. As an African American woman in the late mid-nineteenth century, she faced great prejudice and racism. In spite of this, she became a successful businesswoman and a beloved Olympia citizen in the eyes of many locals.

Rebecca H. Groundage was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1827 or 1829. Very little is known of her early life, even her exact age, except that she was perhaps born into slavery. On November 2, 1843 she married a 33-year old African American cooper (barrel maker) named Alexander Howard in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

By 1859, the Howards had moved west to Olympia. Very few African Americans lived in Washington Territory at that time. Despite being such a small minority, racism and prejudice were all too common and many sources about the Howards are full of racist gibes and stereotyping.

olympia history

Painted by artists Ira Coyne, Vince Ryland, Arthur Crews, Sara Calland and Christopher Ross in October 2011 on the side of the Bread Peddler at 222 North Capital Way, the Rebecca Howard mural overlooks the parking lot where the Pacific House was located. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

The Howards became hotel keepers, leasing and later buying the “Pacific House,” a hotel and restaurant originally built in 1854 and operated by Colonel William Cock. Located at what is now the corner of State Street and Capitol Way, it soon became both the leading hotel and best restaurant in Olympia. On September 9, 1859 the Pioneer and Democrat advertised the hotel under Alexander’s name, though later advertisements would be in his wife’s name. The Howards promised “to maintain the reputation this establishment has ever sustained since its opening as the BEST HOUSE in town.”

Rebecca Howard was the chief manager of the Pacific House and both her and her husband served as cooks. Mrs. Howard was clearly the face of the Pacific House as “hostess,” becoming the person most associated with the hotel. Under her excellent management, the Pacific House became the leading hotel in Olympia and thus one of the most prominent hotels in the Territory.

The Pacific House was largely successful and the Howards were noted as being some of the wealthiest people in Olympia. As the leading hotel in town, the building often served as a headquarters of lawmakers and lobbyists from the nearby Territorial Legislature. The large front room was nicknamed “the platform of the Republican party” as party organizers often met there, even using it as a headquarters. Also, many visiting dignitaries stayed at the hotel including President Hayes and Generals Sherman, McDowell and Scott.

olympia history

The Pacific House under Rebecca Howard became the leading hotel and restaurant in Olympia. President Hayes, his wife and General Sherman gave speeches on the front balcony on their visit to Olympia in October 1890. Photo courtesy public domain image on Blackpast.org.

Although the Howards had no children of their own, they adopted Isaac Ingalls Stevens Glasgow (1857-1926), the son of Thomas W. Glasgow and a Native American woman. Many people believed that Glasgow had been mistreating his son. The Howards renamed the young man Frank Alexander Howard, the name he kept the rest of his life.

Rebecca Howard died on Sunday, July 10, 1881 of a stroke at the age of 54. Many mourned her death. Even John Miller Murphy, editor of the Washington Standard newspaper who was well noted for his racism, wrote kindly that “she was one of our oldest residents, and had many warm friends.” In her will, Mrs. Howard divided her property evenly between her son and husband.

Alexander died nine years later and was buried next to his wife in Tumwater’s Masonic Memorial Park.

Various stories have been recorded about Rebecca Howard, especially about how she was addressed by others. Many people tried to call her “Aunt Becky” which was racially condescending. Rebecca allowed only her close friends to call her that, firmly asserting she was to be addressed as “Mrs. Howard,” a title of respect, by everyone else. For instance, when the newly installed Governor Pickering called her “Aunt Becky” she responded that she was neither the sister of his mother nor father.

olympia history

This May 1890 Tribune Souvenir of Olympia photograph depicts Frank Alexander Howard, the adopted son of Rebecca and Alexander Howard. Photo courtesy Washington State Library.

Frank Howard eventually sold the Pacific House to a Captain Hambright who operated a saloon in the building. Frank became a prominent citizen and businessman, later moving back east with his wife Lillie and their children. The Pacific House fell into disrepair and was demolished in September 1902. This was a considerable loss to Olympia’s heritage. Serving for a time as the pole yard for the Olympia Telephone Company, the site is now a parking lot next to the Bread Peddler.

Rebecca Howard is a remarkable person in the history of Olympia who deserves to be remembered. In the 19th century era of racism and sexism, she was able to create a prosperous business and achieve considerable popularity. B.F. Kendall in his Overland Press newspaper on November 10, 1862 made the following observation about Rebecca Howard: “She is the capital feature of the Capital—a permanent and indispensable [part] of Olympian society—a walking index of kitchen comforts and the art of cuisine…and were we to meet an Olympian in Greece or Turkey at dinner, the third most natural question we should expect to be asked would be: ‘Does Becky still survive?’”

Further Reading

Jennifer Crooks. “Rebecca Howard: A Determined 19th Century Businesswoman” in Drew Crooks, ed. Olympia, Washington: A People’s History (Olympia, WA: City of Olympia), 2009.

Ladd Allison. “The Respectable Aunt Becky.” July 1977. http://digitum.washingtonhistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/digipubs/id/4714

Gordon Newell. Rouges, Buffoons & Statesmen. Seattle, WA: Hangman Press, 1975.

Thrifty Thurston Shares the Love of Nature at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Thurston Talk - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 6:37am

ThurstonTalk

 

By Jean Janes

sunset airJust shy of the Thurston County line, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a world of trees, damselflies, and bird song. Seeking some fresh air and education, my son and I took a day to wander the trails at this lovely place.

Like most four-year-olds, my son will only focus on the most engrossing things for fleeting moments. Luckily, the Refuge offers a couple of activities with the youngest nature enthusiasts in mind, such as a Nature Explore Area as well as a Junior Refuge Manager Program.

nisqually wildlife refuge

The Nature Explore Area near the Education Center offers hands-on investigation and fun.

Both activities are fun and provide me, as a parent trying to teach my son to enjoy and safeguard nature, resources with which to direct my son’s attention toward learning about the Nisqually Refuge and the life it protects.

We start at the Visitor Center where we spend some time looking over the educational exhibits there. We take our time exploring a relief map of the region, reading some information on local wildlife we can expect to see, as well as watching some short videos about the mission of the National Refuges across the country. We then head to the counter where we are given a pamphlet and pencil. Armed with these tools, my son and I set off on the Twin Barns Loop Trail to earn him his “Junior Refuge Manager” badge and certificate.

Designed for kids from three-to-eleven and divided into age groups, my son applies himself to the three-to-seven age appropriate activities. The first item in his pamphlet is a list of items to try to find along the trails. These are items that most kids will enjoy looking at, but thanks to our list, we are sure to take notice. The list includes things like “a tree with leaves larger than your face,” a “nurse log (a fallen tree that has other plants growing from it),” and “something that smells.”

The list also reminds me of things that are worthy of special attention and an explanation for my son. A nurse log, for example, is a profound concept of death and rebirth that I hope he will remember in other contexts throughout his life. Even if this lesson does not stick this time, at least he finds it fascinating to see what happens to fallen logs.

nisqually wildlife refuge

The trails offer lovely views such as the Nisqually River Overlook.

Besides the checklist, there are some pictures to color, an area for him to draw his favorite Nisqually Refuge experience, and the pledge that all new Junior Refuge Managers must sign and promise to honor. They are excellent promises, such as picking up litter, recycling, and continuing their nature education. They are values I am always trying to instill, but the Nisqually Refuge gives my son a badge and certificate to seal the deal, and he takes his new duties very seriously. His certificate of training is now prominently displayed in our home while his badge will certainly remain a treasured item.

We stop intermittently just to be still and listen. Damselflies flitter close enough for us to inspect their shimmery blue and then dart away before tiny fingers can get ahold. The bird song titters and warbles and I love the look on my son’s face as he begins to hear and understand how each one is the call of a different bird. There are plaques along our trail which give information to describe a few fowl we may be hearing—herons, wrens, sandpipers, and swallows. I do not know nearly enough about birds to identify which music belongs to which, but perhaps I have sparked an interest for my son and maybe someday he will be able to match them up for me.

After an invigorating mile of walking and investigating, we head down the road to the Environmental Education Center where the Nature Explore Area is located. While the Education Center is only open by appointment for schools and field trips, the Nature Explore Area is open to all kids, with children ages two to eight in mind. With activities such as giant logs to climb through and a corner just for digging, my son has great time. Clean air, clean dirt, and a whole lot of interesting things I know he’ll remember, this has been a fun day for us both.

nisqually national wildlife refuge

A fantastic wonderland, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge helps me teach my son the value of our natural world.

It is a gift to be able to provide a magical place, unsullied and wild, for my son to appreciate. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge not only represents nature preserved, but it also serves as a reminder of what we are passing on. My hope is that he will remember the musical sounds, his promises to take care of our natural resources, and, of course, the joy of digging holes in the Nature Explore Area.

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 submit@thurstontalk.com.  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

 

Let's bring HB 1711 back from the dead and unleash municipal broadband in Washington

Olympia Time - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 5:16am
A couple of days ago, the White House called out 19 specific state laws that inhibit local governments from tearing down barriers to internet access. Embarrassingly, one of those laws is in Washington State. Sprinkled throughout our RCWs are specific prohibitions preventing local governments (like PUDs or port districts) from selling internet access directly to consumers.

While they can set up internet networks in local communities, they have to find a middle man (like a local ISPs) to take a cut and then sell to customers. These are the same customers that as taxpayers are paying for the backbone of these networks anyway.

While a few local PUDs are getting around these prohibitions by providing free public wifi in their communities, this retail prohibition is a major stumbling block to broadband access in Washington State.

Now, President Obama wants it gone. And, it turns out that in 2011 a handful of Washington legislators wanted it gone too. HB 1711 would have erased the prohibitions to local governments to provide internet access to their citizens. The bill saw public hearings during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions. But, it never even received a simple vote out of committee.

Muninetworks wrote a nice roundup of who opposed the bill then:

The bill's opponents may be separated into two groups. The first is the usual gang of big, absentee corporations like CenturyLink, Frontier, and Comcast that typically oppose any legislation that could create competition to their services. They have a ton of lobbying power and very little desire or capacity to solve the rural broadband problem in Washington state. The second group is more interesting. It is a collection of local businesses that are actually rooted in the community. Many are ISPs that operate on existing wholesale-only networks owned by public utility districts. They are afraid of either being kicked off the network or having to compete against the PUD itself in provisioning services. These are certainly legitimate fears. Unfortunately, the small providers are also limited in the capacity to build the necessary networks needed to bring modern connections to everyone in the state. Offering service on an existing PUD network requires far less capital than building their own network. If the state wants to move toward a Washington where all residents and businesses have fast, affordable, and reliable access to the Internet, it has to risk upsetting the small ISPs. They do not have the capacity to connect rural Washington; the public utility districts and local governments have not just the capacity, but also the responsibility. It is time for the state to stop making it all but impossible for them to do so.But, now the debate has changed. It isn't just an argument about whether areas can be served by internet providers. Even in the local ISP overlay to a PUD provided infrastructure (not even considered data on cell phones and satellite internet), people are getting online. Largely.

The debate now is about net neutrality. Corporate providers are throttling speeds, giving preference to the data they want to see go through. This is antithetical to the idea of the free flow of information in our country.

We have free public libraries and an open public postal service because information has to flow in a democracy. In Washington, we don't have to wait for the FCC to do the right thing. We can do it right now by bringing the ideas behind HB 1711 back.

Previous posts:
Olympia and Thurston should follow Poulsbo and Kitsap's lead (at the very least) and what your PUD candidates think about that

The Thurston County PUD, local internet, net neutrality and the next fight
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