Recent local blog posts

4-H Fall Clover Campaign Underway

Thurston Talk - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 3:12pm


Submitted by Thurston County grays harbor fair 4h

Erica (left) and Robin Cozad are thankful for the wide variety of skills they have learned throughout their participation in 4-H programs.

The National 4-H Council will launch its fifth annual Fall Paper Clover Campaign on Wednesday, October 8, this raises thousands of dollars each fall for local 4-H programs in Thurston County and across the country.

Each year in the fall and spring, the National 4-H Council teams up with Tractor Supply Company and Del’s Feed and Farm Supply stores to raise money for local 4-H programs with the sale of paper clovers in local stores for a donation of $1 or more at checkout. In Thurston County, the Del’s Feed and Farm Supply stores in Olympia and Yelm will sell the paper clovers from October 8 through October 19, with 65 percent of the funds raised at the two stores going directly to fund 4-H programs in Thurston County. As in years past, 5 percent of Paper Clover proceeds raised in Thurston County will go to the statewide 4-H office in Pullman, and 30 percent will go to the National 4-H Council. “The Paper Clover Campaigns have become our major fund raiser for the Thurston County 4-H program, and we are so grateful for the help that our friends at Del’s Feed and Farm Supply give each spring and fall to support these kids,” said Dianna Ullery, 4-H Program Coordinator for the county. The Thurston County 4-H program is a partnership between the private, non-profit National 4-H Council, the Washington State University Extension program, and Thurston County government. What started as a handful of agricultural clubs for youth in the late 1800s and early 1900s has grown into a community 414 members supporting 53 clubs in Thurston County, and 6 million young people across America learning about agricultural techniques, technology and research through practical “hands-on” learning.  The national 4-H organization is a unique partnership of the National 4-H Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 100 land-grant universities across the country, and more than 3,000 county offices that form the land-grant university Cooperative Extension System. To learn more about the Thurston County 4-H Fall Paper Clover Campaign, or to find out more about the WSU Thurston County Extension 4-H programs and membership, click here or call (360) 867-2157. WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination.

Transit Authority Seeks Members for Citizen Advisory Committee

Thurston Talk - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 3:05pm


Submitted by Intercity Transit The Intercity Transit Authority seeks members for its Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). Several positions are open including two youth positions (ages 15-19). The 20-member advisory group provides input to the Authority on public transportation issues such as Dial-A-Lift policies, service changes, strategic plans, the budget, fare structures, transit amenities, and other issues. Applicants must be Thurston County residents. To apply for these volunteer positions, interested residents can get an application at, the Olympia Transit Center (222 State Avenue, Olympia), Intercity Transit’s Business Office (526 Pattison Street SE, Olympia), or by calling 360-705-5857. Applications are due Thursday, October 30, 2014. The Transit Authority selects CAC members to represent a cross-section of the community. The group includes senior citizens, youth, people with disabilities, college students, business owners, social service agency representatives, neighborhood associations, the medical community, environmentalists, and bicyclists. Members serve 3-year terms except for the youth position, which serves a 1-year term. The CAC meets the third Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at Intercity Transit’s Business Office at 526 Pattison Street SE, Olympia, WA. Routes 62A, 62B, and 66 serve this location. For more information about the CAC, visit or contact Nancy Trail,, 360-705-5857.

Ruby Fray U.S. Tour: Now!

K Records - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 2:35pm
Tonight is the beginning of the Ruby Fray U.S. Tour in celebration of their new Grackle [KLP251] album, which K unleashed upon the world two weeks back. The tour starts in New Orleans, LA at Dragon’s Den and on through the south: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina. Ruby Fray continue up the East Coast and then […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Bremerton refreshed

bremerton parkI hadn’t been to Bremerton in YEARS… make that decades.  Bremerton has definitely undergone a make-over.  The area within a few blocks of the State ferry terminal is lovely.

I think the highlight of this area is the Harborside Park.  This picture shows a small section of the park.  Huge graceful carved stone are found throughout this two-block strip of land.  Water, many sizes of stone, and lovely plantings add to the serenity.  Three huge metal sculptures (reminiscent of a submarine tower?) sit in a shallow pool, and “explode” with rushing water periodically.  The paved pathways wind among the pools, sculptures and gardens.  Benches and tables are abundant.

Our trip on October 7th was a loop trip.  We left west Olympia and headed to Shelton.  From Shelton we took a bus to Belfair, then transferred to a bus that dropped us right by the ferry terminal.  It was lunchtime, so we scattered to find a place to grab a bite before we independently explored the town.  Several of us ate at the Bremerton Bar and Grill, which is on Pacific Avenue, just one block up the street from the Ferry terminal.  The menu has some interesting twists… like a BAM burger (beef and lamb combination).  All were satisfied with their meal.

Several Rebels visited the Kitsap Historical Museum, located on 4th Avenue.  The admission is $3.00.  I especially liked the recreation of “main street” from the early 1900′s.  A few Rebels went of a self-guided tour of the USS Turner Joy, a Vietnam era destroyer.  bainbridge island ferry

Since this was a loop trip, we left Bremerton via the State Ferry.  This 60 minute ride is very relaxing.   The sun was shining, which is always a nice treat.  Coming into the city reminds us that Seattle is a beautiful city… what a great skyline!  (As a bonus:  this direction of travel is FREE!)

After getting off the ferry we strolled south on 1st Avenue through Pioneer Square.  The gorgeous hanging baskets were still blooming!  At Jackson Street, we headed east toward the Sounder train station.  At 4th Avenue, we turned south for a block or so to get to the pedestrian bridge and stairway which took us to the Sounder train.  LOVE this train!

We exited the train at the Tacoma Dome station, where we caught the (free) Light Link which took us several blocks to downtown Tacoma.  From Pacific Avenue and 19th, we caught the bus to take us back to Olympia.

A long day, but a fun and very satisfying trip!  Thanks, Rebels!

Categories: Local Environment

Science Café - Astrobiology: Life in its Cosmic Context

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 11:38am
Event:  Tue, 10/14/2014 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm

From today's inbox:

Science Café
Orca Books

509 East 4th Avenue


Astrobiology: Life in its Cosmic Context


Space missions have given us hints of planets and moons in the Solar System that may have once been inhabited or perhaps possess life today. At the same time, recent astronomical data show that most stars have planets around them. Closer to home, we’re learning more about the vast range of habitats for microbes on Earth and signs of life in Earth’s earliest rocks from billions of years ago. Given these findings, the new interdisciplinary science of astrobiology asks: How did life originate and evolve on Earth? Are we alone in the universe? And how should we look for life beyond Earth? logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Kinky Boots Comes to the 5th Ave.

South Sound Arts - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 9:19am

The cast of the First National Tour of Kinky Boots, coming to The 5th Avenue Theatre.
​Photo by Matthew Murphy
Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre’s latest show—or should I say extravaganza— is the smash Broadway musical Kinky Boots, which has just begun its national tour.
Despite the raucous music, wildly decadent costumes and flashy lighting effects, Kinky Boots is at heart a touching little story with a simple message about acceptance, courage and perseverance. Based on the hit movie of the same name, it tells the story of Charlie Price (Steven Booth), a young man struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life who is tasked with saving the dying shoe factory in Northampton, England he has inherited from his father. On a trip to London with his fiancée, Nicola (Grace Stockdale), he meets a drag queen named Lola (Kyle Taylor Parker) and they talk about the flamboyant boots with high heels that drag queens wear and how they can’t hold up to the weight of men. Charlie flashes on building sturdy “kinky boots” as a means of saving the factory.
 Kyle Taylor Parker stars as Lola in the First National Tour of Kinky Boots, coming to The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo by Matthew MurphyIt’s the story of how Charlie brings in Lola to help create a line of boots and how the middle class workers in the factory react to welcoming a drag queen into their world, and ultimately about the touching and very real relationship between Charlie and Lola. And of course every musical must have a love triangle. This one involves Charlie and his selfish and manipulative fiancée and Lauren (Lindsay Nicole Chambers), the sweet factory worker with the secret crush on him.
Kinky Boots the musical is based on the hit movie of the same title, which was in turn based on a true story. The book for the musical was written by the great Harvey Fierstein with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell.
Mitchell said he wanted the realism of the working-class British world suffused with the fabulousness of the theater. “I come from Paw-Paw, Michigan. It’s complete working class and there’s lot of my roots in those people,” Mitchell said. “I went to Northampton myself and hung out. And I toured the shoe factories . . . I knew the fabulous part of it; I knew I could do that part. I wanted to know what the real part was.”Parker, who was one of “Lola’s Angels” in the original Broadway production and played the part of Lola many times as an understudy, certainly has the fabulous part down pat, and he is believable and real and down to earth. There have been many, many portrayals of drag queens with stereotypical swishiness, but there is none of that in Parker’s portrayal. And he’s a hell of a dancer.
Booth, who is endearing as Charlie, has performed in Glory Days and Avenue Q on Broadway. He has a terrific voice and good moves—especially when he puts on the boots for the big finale (with credit to Mitchell and Booth for not overdoing it). The duet between Lola and Charlie, “Not My Father’s Son,” is one of the most moving moments in the play and one of the few quiet songs in a play replete with rocking show tunes. The other quiet and moving ballad is Lola’s solo on “Hold Me in Your Heart.”The first couple of songs, “Price & Son Theme” and “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World,” both performed by the full company, could have used a little more pizazz. But then it kicks into high gear when we visit the club where Lola and the Angels perform (“Land of Lola”).
Act one ends with a full-company rendition of the upbeat song, “Everybody Say Yeah”—an exultant celebration with dancing on a moving conveyor belt. Act two also ends with a celebratory anthem, “Raise You Up/Just Be,” again with the whole company and this time with a knockout light show (lighting designer Kenneth Posner, whose most impressive lighting in this show was the multitude of soft spots on Lola’s solo on “Hold Me in Your Heart”).
Striking performances were turned in by Stockdale as Nicole and Chambers as Lauren, and by Joe Coots as Don, a tough-guy factory worker.
David Rockwell’s scenic design, the Price & Son shoe factor interior and exterior, is gritty and impressive.One of the very few sore spots for me was an unnecessary maudlin moment when they went overboard trying to milk sympathy at the end of the beautiful “Hold Me in Your Heart” by bringing Lola’s father into the scene.
Interesting behind-the-scenes stories were provided by Mitchell in a print interview provided to the press. One of those was that they had to build the conveyor belts and try them out, and “I got on it and I wiped out, probably four or five times . . .” so they added bars for safety which became part of the choreography as dancers used the bars for swinging and jumping. The other interesting back story was that like the original factory they had to go through many trials in order to make boots what would stand up to large men dancing in them during eight two-and-a-half-hour shows a week.
Kinky Boots won six Tony awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Cyndi Lauper) and Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell).
Tues-Wed. 7:30 p.m., Thurs-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat- 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. 1:30 and 7 p.m.5th Ave. Theatre, 1308 5th Ave., Seattle,Tickets start at $45.25, (206) 625-1900 or (888) 5TH-4TIX.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Aunt Alicia (Olyblogosphere for October 13, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 8:11am
1. Alicia Elliott will save Olympia.

New investment opportunity. Threaten development of something, raise the hackles of your neighbors, Alicia Elliott will buy you out. Its the modern Olympia Aunt Sally.

2. Support Zinefest!

3. The best Olympia blog ever reads my mind. What if! What IF!!!!!

4. Yeah, big surprise here. Every place in the world is more nuanced than it seems at first.

If you came here from New York, Austin and then Portland and moved to Olympia "because you liked its look" and then were disappointed.

You deserve that disappointment. It isn't our fault. Grow up.

5. I don't mind the debate on the LBA Woods. Let's debate parks! I'm against spending money on it now. And, I actually like the proposal for development (because it was better than the straight up burbs that had been built in that area).

But, this is annoying:
LBA Woods are a true gem--an old-fashioned Commons of sorts in that the property is privately owned, though it is neither gated nor posted with no-trespassing signs or welcome signs. Because it isn't even true:
...the developer (D.R. Horton, a nationwide company headquartered in Delaware) has chosen to fence users of LBA Park out of the trails.We can debate whether it should become a park, but the owner wants you to stay off their property. That's their right man.

Quintron: Weather for the Blind!

K Records - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 1:15am
Everyone talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it – until now! Our favorite Drum-Buddy Maestro, Swamp-Tech enthusiast, mutated party activist, Ninth Ward drum corps. troop leader and New Orleans Katrina Relief volunteer Quintron has established a new service that offers a unique audio experience based on the ever-changing weather, Weather […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Trails and Fires

Mojourner Truth - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 12:04am

Lately, there's a lot more going on at the photo blog than here, and the dominant subject has been fire. This shot, for instance, appeared there. But tumblr's not the place to get into too much depth, and it ends up with a bunch of pretty pictures, scrolled through too fast to tell a story.

Like in the shot above. The dark line up the middle? It's a single rut, a foot or two wide and stretching across the meadow, where a controlled burn consumed an obscuring mantle of grass. Tomorrow, I head back to the office, where I'll see whether this rut matches up with a trail mapped in the 19th Century, which pretty much matches up with the route that Wenatchi people have always followed. Of course, the rut might be more modern, or just used by elk, or a meltwater channel. None of which, it should be noted, is mutually exclusive of a horse trail, and before that, horseless human trail; culture and nature meander and mingle.

At some point, I'll post about the (f)utility of post-fire archaeological survey in terms of finding artifacts, but for now just let me say that fire sure lights up larger features like trails. The above tree is obviously odd, growing gnarlier than a Ponderosa pine should. But in a lot of situations, foliage obscures the the blazed bark or modified trunks that mark historic and ancient trails. After a fire, the unusual trees stick out a much greater distances, and survey becomes easier. If you're really on a trail, you can often see the next marker. If you're really on a trail, you should not be seeing a bunch of similar tree-forms off to the sides. Last week, I followed what seemed to be a trail marked by a series of big stumps that survived the fire.

Many stumps do survive wildfires, and one of the most eye-opening things about doing survey in fire's wake is that the intensity can vary so much. Entire trees up in ash here, forests reduced to black spars there, but somewhere else the fire skipped along lightly. Like in this shot, where a grassy slope has islets of burnt bushes and spot fires, but the game trails where vegetation is tramped down failed to burn. Or the next shot, which shows vehicle tracks running through another controlled burn area.

Archaeologically, these glimpses snatched from the flames inspire and depress. We can see so much, but it will be hidden again in months, dragged back into obscurity in a few growing seasons. Though the weather will wash away down hill some of the traces, though creatures will stir things up, yet still will traces of trails remain sandwiched in soil. Today, I can discern cowpaths among a lace of deer trails. Today, I can tell where the engine trucks were deployed, where the pick-ups parked, and where the ATVs ranged during a controlled prairie burn. Tomorrow (in archaeological time), it will be impossible or insanely expensive to dig up that kind of information.

Meanwhile, I'll scope out what I can of fires both intentional and wild, looking for trails and the places they went to. Probaby the most common sights are bottles, cans, and campfire rings, all of which prefer to hide under plants and leaf litter. Sure, a lot of these sit right next to roads still travelled, but keep in mind that some of those roads follow older trails. The empty beer bottles in the fire pit along a road long abandoned can give you a good idea of when the road was in use. The obvious glint of glass might also lead to less visible but highly informative artifacts, objects that pinpoint the period or tell tale of activity beyond drinking and hunting. There is almost never anything that a non-archaeologist would value in any way, but camp-trash can help trace trails, especially when fire intervenes to lift the veil.

When under that veil lies a trail, I feel like I've found something worthwhile. Archaeology, learning about how people have lived on the land (rather than the treasures they accumulated that may be more interesting on a photo blog or National Geographic), benefits from mapping where they traveled. And fire helps archaeologists salvage from the devastation more than they normally could.

Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 11:05pm
 Above: The Old Brewery in Tumwater and the Deschutes River as seen today.
By Janine Unsoeld

The City of Tumwater is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed redevelopment of an area that includes the Old Brewhouse.

The city has determined this redevelopment is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. The site is bounded by Custer Way to the south, the Deschutes River to the west, Capitol Lake to the north and the railroad to the east.

All comments to the city are due no later than October 20, 2014 by 5:00 p.m.

Comments on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required may be directed to: Tim Smith, AICP, City of Tumwater Planning Manager, 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501; or (360) 754-4212. 

In comments, refer to case TUM-14-0741. Be clear and concise and if possible, identify possible solutions. For a full description of the plans and proposed alternatives, contact the City of Tumwater.

The city was recently awarded a planning grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to review the potential for public/private partnerships as the site redevelops.   “According to the grant, we have to be done by June 2015, but we’re targeting a deadline in spring, and hope to have an open house for the public to review the draft EIS by the early part of next year,” said Tim Smith, City of Tumwater planner, earlier this week.

Owner’s Old Brewery VisionThe Old Brewery site owner, George Heidgerken, proposes to make the site into a hotel, restaurants, office space, retail, and a craft brewing and distilling center. Heidgerken bought the 22 acre property about four years ago for $1.5 million. His property also includes land on the Tumwater Historical Park side of the river.

Heidgerken has suggested building a walkway bridge across the river into the park. Currently, the only access road down to the property is a gated, narrow one lane road off of Custer Way.

Similar examples of his vision include worldwide destinations, and, closer to home, Spokane’s Riverfront Park with its historic Flour Mill, an area that contains a host of shops, restaurants, sights and activities for tourists and locals alike.  Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken will speak about his plans in a presentation on Thursday, October 16, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. at The Schmidt House, 330 Schmidt Place, Tumwater.  Doors open at 11:30 p.m. The event is open to the public. 
Above: The warehouse portion of the brewery has been significantly renovated. The extraordinary space has two floors, totaling about 36,000 square feet.City of Tumwater – A City DividedAs I-5 cuts through the City of Tumwater, so are the city’s roles and responsibilities divided.

While the city is the lead agency in charge of determining the significant impact a redevelopment of the area would have on the environment, it is also a full partner in working with the current owner to redevelop the site into a craft brewing and distilling center.

A formal letter of mutual public/private partnership was signed in May by eight local organizations and their leaders expressly mentioning this as the primary purpose for their partnership. The letter is signed by Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken, as president of Falls Development, and leading representatives of the Thurston County Economic Development Council, the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, the Port of Olympia, Washington State University Extension, South Puget Sound Community College, the Washington State University School of Food Science and the City of Tumwater.

No tribal, county, or City of Olympia organizations or representatives are listed as partners.Additionally, according to the October newsletter of the Old Brewhouse Foundation, the city issued a contract in mid-September with a team led by an architectural firm to do a feasibility study on the craft brewing and distilling center goal. Part of their goal is to consider how the main Old Brewery tower can be purchased from its current owner.

The team’s report is expected to be presented to the city in January 2015. The Foundation says it will be “…monitoring the progress of this study and continue to encourage incorporation of a museum, beer-making demonstration opportunities and public gathering spaces as part of the project.”

The mission of the Old Brewhouse Foundation,  an organization created in 2008, is to facilitate development of a plan for acquisition,  restoration and public utilization of the Old Brew house area.
State Environmental Review ProcessThe City of Tumwater was awarded a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology to assist with conducting an environmental review of the former brewery area.

The planned action environmental impact statement allows a project-level environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) to proceed in advance of project permit application(s) within the planning area. It will describe a range of development alternatives, evaluate the potential impacts of these scenarios, and identify required mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate significant adverse impacts.

Following its completion and the city’s adoption of a planned action ordinance, a specific development proposal can move forward without further environmental review provided the proposed development is consistent with the EIS and within the range of impacts that have been addressed. Above: Construction equipment and maintenance debris was seen around the Old Brewery building earlier this week. Multiple areas with black tubing were seen in place trying to divert the water. The hillside is where a multiple story proposed parking garage would be in Alternatives 2 and 3. Tumwater planner Tim Smith said artesian springs are in the hillside and a 1000 stall parking garage as proposed in Alternative 3 would be about five to nine stories. According to Chris Carlson, permit manager for the City of Tumwater, the concrete moats around the building are original to the building, to contain and divert water into a cistern, or large storage tanks, located under the building. This water was used in the brewing process.Brewery District Vision

Through the Brewery District planning and visioning projects that have been conducted to date, the community has articulated a desire to make the brewery district a vibrant mixed-use destination.  According to the City of Tumwater website, redevelopment of the historic brewery site has numerous public benefits. These include recreational opportunities and an expanded and integrated trail network. 

It also states that renovation of the historic tower represents civic pride in the brewery site and a successful redevelopment process retaining the architectural and aesthetic elements of the buildings are valuable for the site as living history.  Potential areas to be considered in the environmental impact study includes: earth (a geotechnical analysis will be prepared), water (wetlands and shorelines), plants and animals; environmental health (former site contamination and hazardous materials); land use; historic and cultural resources; transportation, circulation and parking; public utilities; public services; economy, and a community policy analysis.

Washington Administrative Code 197-11-444 lists elements of the environment that could be considered.

Upper Picture: City of Tumwater planner Tim Smith provided a tour of the Old Brewery to a group of interested citizens earlier this week. When asked, Smith said the Old Brewery property was created on fill and the current parking lot is in a 100 year floodplain. He distributed a 1920’s era picture of the property, above, for reference. Proposed Alternatives

According to the City of Tumwater website, three build out alternatives will be analyzed for potential impacts over a 20-year planning horizon:

Alternative 1: No Action. The EIS is required to evaluate impacts associated with a No Action Alternative. For the purpose of the No Action Alternative in the Tumwater Brewery Planned Action EIS, it is assumed that development would occur within the site consistent with existing zoning. Any such development or redevelopment that is proposed within site in conjunction with the No Action Alternative would undergo environmental review on a project-by-project basis. Such projects would be subject to site-specific mitigation and potential SEPA-based appeals, without coverage under the non-project, Planned Action EIS process. Total lot coverage by existing buildings likely to be redeveloped is approximately 67,000 square feet (SF) with approximately 262,000 gross square feet (GSF) of buildable space. Alternative 2: Mixed-Use Redevelopment utilizing 493,500 GSF of space. Alternative 2is assumed to include redevelopment within existing buildings (262,000 GSF), a new parking structure (200,000 GSF) with approximately 625 stalls and rebuild two demolished structures (31,500 GSF). Prospective land uses would include: parking, office, retail, distillery, craft brewing, hotel, restaurant and a museum. Total lot coverage by buildings is approximately 140,000 SF. Improved vehicular access, pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River, connecting trail system and boardwalk are also included in this alternative.

Alternative 3: Mixed-Use Redevelopment utilizing 763,500 GSF of space. Alternative 3 is assumed to include redevelopment within existing buildings (262,000 GSF), a new parking structure (320,000 GSF) with approximately 1,000 stalls, rebuild two demolished structures (31,500 GSF) and a new-build structure (150,000 GSF). Prospective land uses under Alternative 3 would be the same as those under Alternative 2, plus residential (apartments and condos). Total lot coverage by buildings is approximately 160,000 SF. Similar to Alternative 2, improved vehicular access, pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River, connecting trail system and boardwalk are included in this alternative.
Above: The Old Brewery in Tumwater as seen on a tour earlier this week.For more information about Tumwater's Brewery District Plan, go to the City of Tumwater's website at or see past articles at and use the search button.For more information about the Old Brewhouse Foundation, go to

Great Blue Heron Rookery Saved From Development

Janine's Little Hollywood - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 9:47pm
 Above: Volunteers Meghan Hopkins and her four year old daughter, Clare, clear ivy from land at the end of Dickinson Avenue NW, recently purchased by Alicia Elliott.
By Janine Unsoeld

The Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation announced this weekend that a Great Blue Heron rookery on Olympia’s westside has been saved.In an open letter to the community this weekend, Daniel Einstein, founder of the Coalition, said that Olympian Alicia Elliott bought the property, thus preventing it from being developed into townhomes.

The group formed after it was announced that the city had received an application for a short plat and townhome development. The developer, Glenn Wells, proposed the construction of three, two-unit townhomes,Wells Townhomes, and a six bay detached garage.

The letter from the Coalition states that Elliott was moved by the threat facing the rookery.“…That began a journey which has led Alicia to purchase the 1.84-acre parcel that holds most, but not all, of the nesting trees. She is now under contract to purchase the adjacent 2.73-acre parcel to the north. This provides a critical buffer for the herons as they return for the winter breeding season. At the same time, we are in positive negotiations with the developer, who has been very receptive to the unique habitat profile of his property….”

Alicia Elliott is also known for purchasing vacant property on the corner of Division and Harrison, and creating the space into a vibrant community area now called West Central Park. Most recently, Elliott also bought the property of the former DeGarmo’s Pharmacy next to the park. That space is scheduled to be converted into a café in the Spring of 2015.Rookery's First Seasonal Work Party

At the Coalition's first seasonal work party held this afternoon at the rookery site located at the end of Dickinson Avenue NW, many volunteers came to thank Elliott and work to clear the site of ivy and other debris.Einstein took time to briefly describe the property’s purchase and history of the area.

“The developer was in a reciprocal easement agreement with another property owner through this driveway to access utilities, sewer, electric, gas. Any future subdivision could buy into his utility. Buying this parcel takes that out of the picture because these properties will never be subdivided,” said Einstein.

“In 2009, the developer logged the property, going right through the heron's nesting trees, and created a 450 foot driveway. After it was logged, the blue heron population plummeted.”

Asked if he has found any dead herons, Einstein said yes.

“We did find dead chicks and eggshells. We can’t prove it was directly linked to the logging because herons are preyed upon by eagles, but part of that is, the clearing of the trees left the nests wide open for the eagles to get in. They are also very sensitive to noise and this was a huge disruption,” said Einstein.Einstein said there are 14 nests on the property. “That means 28 adults, and each nest usually contains four eggs, so there are about 50 to 60 herons here at the height of breeding season.”

Einstein says their breeding season is in August and September. “The herons are gone now to other places, but they’ll be coming back in January or February, so this is our window of opportunity to do work. We want to create a viable ecosystem, so there’s going to be some restoration.”

Einstein says the remains of a former homeless camp there have been cleared.“The idea is to close this area off and create a habitat preserve. We’re going to have to create that because there isn’t one in city code. The herons need to be left alone so we can enjoy them down on the shoreline. We are also working to daylight Schneider Creek and restore it for fish passage….Eventually, we want to protect 80 to 90 acres,” said Einstein.

Above: Looking like Truffula trees, this tree has several visible blue heron nests.

While Einstein says he’s been having positive conversations with city officials, a few policies regarding codes and lax permitting have to be changed in order to make progress.
He also stressed the need to make the city’s urban forester position fulltime. City of Olympia Urban Forester Michelle Bentley has a heavy workload and is only available part-time, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.

Volunteers Make It Happen

“It’s so exciting!” said Debbie Hathaway, a board member of the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation. “It’s been a very encouraging sign that neighbors care about wildlife corridors. It’s a sign of good things to come. It’s also a good example of how we can work together,” said Hathaway.

Northwest neighborhood resident Meghan Hopkins also came, and brought her hard-working four year old daughter, Clare.“We can see the herons from our living room window. It’s inspiring to see community members come together for what they believe in for the creatures of the natural and human worlds, and balance out everyone’s needs,” said Meghan Hopkins.

For more information about the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation, go to: Work PartiesAbove: Seth Chance, Robyn Montgomery, and Alicia Elliott take a brief break from working while Ruben Males rakes the open space at West Central Park today. The park features edible and medicinal plants, which are scheduled to be labeled with small brass plaques.Today, workers harvested the last of the tomatoes, delicata squash, and strawberries of the season.

For more information about West Central Park, Alicia Elliott, and DeGarmo’s Pharmacy, go to and type key words into the search engine.

The Forest Needs a Voice--Yours

Maria Mudd Ruth - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:41pm
The future of 150 acres of woods is at stake Tuesday night. Please be a voice or warm body to show your support for saving this forest at the City Council Meeting Tuesday, October 14, 7 p.m. City Council Chambers, 4th and Cherry St. downtown Olympia

The future of 150 acres of woods is at stake Tuesday night. Please be a voice or warm body to show your support for saving this forest at the City Council Meeting Tuesday, October 14, 7 p.m. City Council Chambers, 4th and Cherry St. downtown Olympia

The 150 acres surrounding LBA Park in Olympia is the last large forested area within Olympia and its Urban Growth Area not already a park.  The owners of the two parcels have expressed their willingness to sell, but unless the City of Olympia acts quickly to secure the woods, the developments planned for those parcels will proceed.    

The LBA Woods Park Coalition has gathered over 5,200 signatures of area residents asking the Olympia City Council to purchase the woods for a park before these woods are lost to housing developments.  The City’s Parks, Recreation, and Arts Advisory Committee voted to move forward to study the feasibility of purchasing the parcel as a city park.

LBA Woods are a true gem--an old-fashioned Commons of sorts in that the property is privately owned, though it is neither gated nor posted with no-trespassing signs or welcome signs. I believe many who visit the woods believe it is part of LBA Park. The community takes care of the woods and allows for multiple uses.

The woods have more than 4 miles of wooded trails through varied terrains, including mature conifer forest (a dozen or so trees over 36 inches diameter) and alder groves. Hundreds of people walk and run there.  It is especially popular for walking dogs, and the gentle slope trails are accessible to seniors.   Black Hills Audubon birders have identified fifty-eight bird species in the woods, including twenty-one species recently identified by the National Audubon Society as at-risk from climate change. The woods provide critical habitat--a refugia--for birds and wildlife that residents enjoy seeing in their yards and streets.

A significant body of new scientific research has shown that walking in larger forest parcels provides a number of surprising health benefits. Those benefits include: immune system boost, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, improved mood; increased ability to focus (even in children with ADHD), accelerated recovery from surgery or illness, increased energy level, improved sleep. 

The demand for open space forest trails will nearly double in the next 20 years.  Over that period, Olympia’s population is projected to increase 20,000 and Thurston County’s by 120,000.  This begs the question, if Olympia does not act now to secure the woods, where will the children play?  How will we address the nature-deficit disorder that will increasingly undermine our physical and mental health.

Funds exist to purchase the parcels.   In 2004, City residents approved the “voted utility tax” to raise about $2 million a year for parks until 2024. The voters’ pamphlet and the City mailer stated that the tax-generated park funds would be prioritized for park acquisition before the remaining lands are lost, and estimated the funds would acquire about 500 acres, mostly open space.  To date, the City has acquired only 51 acres. 

The City can use the park acquisition funds from the voted utility tax to finance purchase one of the 75-acre parcels ("Bentridge"), which is currently on the market for $6.5 million.   As Jane Kirkemo, the City Finance Director, has explained, the City could issue a bond anticipation note now to pay for the parcel, and pay off that note in 2016 when it sells a new round of general obligation bonds that would in turn be paid off using the voted utility tax revenues.

If the City supplements its bond funds supported by the utility tax with funds from other sources such as County conservation futures and state grant programs, the City would likely be able to purchase Trillium also by 2016.

The Save the LBA Woods effort is not about neighbors protecting 150 acres of woodland for their own private nature sanctuary. The LBA Woods Park Coalition has suggested creating a multi-use City Park, with the flat areas (now "old-growth" Scotsbroom) developed as much-needed soccer fields, an off-leash dog park, to complement the existing network of walking trails and dense woods.

Supporters of LBA Woods successfully lobbied the City Council to fund a suitability study of the property for use as a park. The 90-day study of teh LBA Woods and three other parcels . Shortly after the study is released in November, it is expected that the City Council will make a decision whether to proceed to buy either of the two LBA parcels.

If you want to help save the LBA woods and create LBA Woods Park, please write the City Council at .

For more information or to sign the LBA Woods Park petition or to donate, please go to .

This article has been provided by the LBA Woods Coalition, which I support, and tweaked by me.

Categories: Local Environment

Littlerock Fire Department Honors Historic Citizen Effort

Thurston Talk - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:47am



By Barb Lally

uhlmann rvA shiny red 1936 Ford fire engine stands proudly in the first apparatus bay of the Littlerock Fire Station on Littlerock Road and can be seen by visitors entering the lobby.

The old, but well-preserved engine is a constant reminder of the commitment a group of special local citizens had to start a fire department there more than 50 years ago.

History Told from the Fire Station
“Most settlers came to the Littlerock area in the mid 1850s,” says Lt. Lanette Dyer, Public Information Officer for the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority in Littlerock and an avid local history buff.

littlerock fire

1936 Ford fire engine sits on display at the Littlerock Firehouse.

Early on, Littlerock was known as Black River, though the name didn’t work because it was used elsewhere. A Rutledge family member filed paperwork to name it “The Rock” after the rock in town that helped the ladies get off and on buckboards and side saddles and served as a meeting place for mail and supplies.

“I was told that someone at the post office didn’t like the name and somehow the application got approved as ‘Littlerock’,” says Lanette. “That same rock sits today in front of the old Rutledge farm covered with moss with no reference to its historical value. But I know. I love that old rock.”

Two Fires in One Year
On June 27, 1925 the town of Littlerock was engulfed in fire, and the established Olympia firefighters had to be called in to keep the fire from spreading through the whole community.

The next month another massive fire in the area destroyed the Maytown Mill, nine homes and ten bunk houses. Two fires, just a month apart, were devastating to the community.

Fire was one of the biggest threats of the era. In an effort to improve public safety the Washington State legislature provided for the formation of fire districts in 1939.

A Fire Department for Littlerock, WA

littlerock fire

Chief Kaleiwahea and Lt. Lanette Dyer stand next to the rock the town is named after.

Community fire departments began forming, but Littlerock was not quite ready. By 1956, five families in the area knew something had to be done to prevent history from repeating itself.

In August of 1957, at the request of those local citizens, a special election was held to determine if Fire Protection District No. 11 should be formed. The ballots cast were 121 “yes” votes and 4 “no” votes. The first fire district commissioners— Alvey Morehouse, John Seed and Homer Hedgepeth—were also elected.

The vision of those five families had paid off. But the story of their commitment doesn’t end there. They still needed a fire truck and had no money to get one. The only way to get a fire engine was to go buy it themselves. A 1936 Ford was purchased in 1958 from the Kent Fire Department for $500.

“I have been told for years that those five families mortgaged their homes to buy that engine,” Lynette relates. “What they paid doesn’t seem like much but in 1958 a new Ford started out at around $2,000 and people around these parts made less than $4,000 a year.”

The Engine that Could, Did
The names of those responsible for the formation of the fire district are memorialized on the plaque affixed to that 1936 Ford. Harold Bade, Davie Brown, Homer Hedgepeth, Lloyd Jones, Alvey Morehouse, John Seed, and Carlos Winkle had the commitment to sacrifice their personal finances to acquire the district’s first fire engine.

“When I hear the word hero, I think of that 1936 Ford that sits quietly in the bay next to my office,” says Lanette. “It tells a story of vision, sacrifice and a lot of trust. They are not forgotten by those who serve here.”

Citizen Sacrifice Pays Off

littlerock fire

Newspaper the day after the June 27, 1925 fire in Littlerock.

When first established, the Littlerock fire district was only 55 square miles.

Today, the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority, a partnership between Thurston County Fire District 1, 11, and 14, now has a 168 square mile response zone serving 25,000 residents in the communities of Bordeaux, Delphi, Gate, Grand Mound, Littlerock, Maytown, Michigan Hill, Rochester and Scott Lake. Nearly 70 of the 100 professionals that work in the firehouse on Littlerock Road are volunteers from the community.

“Our district founders’ commitment continues today in our many volunteers, some who have been serving for over 25 years,” says Russ Kaleiwahea, Chief of the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. “Just last month they contributed a total of 1855 hours. They are crucial to our duty of providing timely service for our growing communities. It makes a difference in saving lives and saving properties.” 

Special thanks to Lt. Lanette Dyer for her help with the article. She credits her knowledge of the history of Littlerock and its fire station to the late Mr. Dale Rutledge and to information passed down from fire department forefathers and from the archives.


Capital’s All-American Jacob Johnson Plays Three Sports with Heart

Thurston Talk - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:42am



By Gail Wood

sunset airDepending on the time of year, Jacob Johnson is either making a tackle, passing for an assist or snagging a fly ball on a sprint.

In an age of specialization where kids often focus on one sport, Johnson is a three-sport starter, playing football, basketball and baseball at Capital High School. A couple of days after he takes the helmet off and plays in his last football game, he’ll be running up and down the basketball court. Then a couple of days after his last basketball game, he’ll be swinging at the plate, turning out for baseball.

“It’s fun,” Jacob said. “I’ve just always liked playing sports.”

capital high school football

Capital High School’s Jacob Johnson is a three-sport All-American student athlete.

And he’s not a benchwarmer, cheering his team to victory. He’s an all-league selection in both football and baseball. He’s a starter at guard in basketball.

This year Jacob’s football season will be extended a week in January. He’s been selected to play in the ninth annual Offense-Defense High School All-American Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Jan. 4. It’s a prestigious game. Some of the game’s biggest names have played in it, including Dez Bryant, DeAndre West and Cam Newton.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jacob said with a wide grind. “I’m excited.”

And the all-star game that matches the east against the west won’t be his last football game. Jacob is being recruited by several colleges, including Eastern Washington, which nearly upset the University of Washington Huskies earlier this season. He’s also talked with coaches from the University of Montana and Montana Tech. The UW has also talked with him and has invited him to watch some home games this season.

His future in college football will be as a safety, where he’s started at Capital since his sophomore year.

capital high school football

Jacob Johnson tackles Olympia’s Ben Bishop during the 2014 Spaghetti Bowl.

Whether he’s on pass coverage (he had three interceptions after five games), or he’s flying up to stop the run (he had a season-high 15 tackles against Lincoln), Jacob has proven he’s got the knack for picking a pass or tackling a tailback. He’s double trouble for opposing quarterbacks.

“He’s not afraid of contact,” Capital coach John Johnson said. “He’s a great hitter. He’s got great form. He had a great game against Lincoln. He was the bright side for us on both sides of the ball in that game even though the outcome didn’t come out like we wanted.”

It didn’t take Jacob long to earn a spot on Capital’s varsity. As a freshman, he played on special teams and showed his tenacity for racing down field on punt coverage.

“I was the gunner,” Jacob said. “You just go as fast as you can. Make a big hit.”

At 5’11″, 185 pounds, Jacob isn’t the biggest player on the team. But he just might have the biggest heart. He comes to play.

“He’s not afraid of contact,” Coach Johnson said. “He’s a great hitter. He’s got great form. He just shows up and plays. You never have to worry about him showing up on Friday night.”

That tenacity, that drive to win, isn’t something that just turns on under the Friday night lights. It’s the approach Jacob takes in everything he does. In the classroom, he’s a 3.2 student. On the baseball field, he batted over .400 last season, earning second-team all-league as a center fielder. Last year as a junior, he was first team all-league as a safety. As a sophomore, he was second-team all-league in football.

Those that know him say that playing in an All-American game is appropriate.

capital high football

Capital’s Jacob Johnson unleashes a defensive hit during a 2012 game when he was a sophomore.

“Jacob is an All-American kid,” said Karen Johnson, Jacob’s step mother. “I think if you talk with any of his coaches or his teachers, they’ll all say he’s reliable. He’s always consistent. He does what’s asked of him.”

That’s definitely true on the football field. On offense, he plays slot or the “Z position” in Capital’s Wing T offense and free safety or strong safety on defense. So he’s in the game a lot. After returning punts as a sophomore and junior, Jacob is now on the sideline, resting, during special teams.

“This year we’ve got a different guy back there returning punts,” Coach Johnson said. “He’s on everything else. So, there’s got to be some time we get him off of the field.”

With 4.7 speed, Jacob has good speed, but he’s not the fastest player on the field. However, his coach said he is quick – quick reacting, quick with the reads on a play, quick to make a decision on coverage.

“He’s quick,” Coach Johnson said. “He understands the game well. He puts himself into the positions he needs to be to be successful. And he makes quick decisions.”

Players selected to play in the all-star game is based on a top 100 list, a national recruit ranking determined by and published by Sports Illustrated. The game will be televised by ESPN.


Whittle Your Waist As You Whittle Your Waste – Food Composting in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 3:17pm



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

capital medical centerI am enthusiastic about my wallet getting fatter as my waist circumference decreases. To top that off, I’m improving my health and the well being of the global environment. Interested? I hope so.

I don’t mean finding nickels and dimes. I’m talking dollars – to the tune of at least $300 per year, but as much as $1,560.00 annually. Did you realize that the average American family throws away more than $300 worth of edible food per year? This is according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Another accounting estimates that the actual cost is $130 per month for a family of four. I can think of way better places for my money than the garbage can.

Where do you begin?

olympia food composting

My food scraps provide bountiful feasts for my worms.

First, take a look inside your own cabinets. Mine are filled with recipe ideas represented by cans of small red beans, chunky soup and bright mandarin oranges. They were meant for someday. Perhaps this would be a good week to use a few of these treasures. Cans last a long time, but not forever.

Then, consider the meals you will be eating at home over the next few days. There’s no need to plan for Friday’s dinner if you are going out for pizza. Overbuying is not a money saving strategy. A list can be helpful. The idea is to eat all the food that you buy. Promptly.

Next buy smaller amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be used within a few days. As soon as I bring in my bag of weekly farm-share vegetables or purchases from the grocery store I look at all my items reminding myself of when they will be ready for the table. What’s the plan? There’s no time like the present to chop and sort. Make sure that your produce can be seen when you put it into the refrigerator. If it’s not in a clear bag, it’s too easy to forget what is inside.

olympia food composting

It’s easy to get set up with a worm bin at your house.

Thurston County Public Works Department wants you to keep your food and your money out of the trash. They have devoted pages of their website to tips, contests and ideas and even recipes to maximize your food dollar and minimize your food waste footprint. You can even take the Waste Less Food Challenge. It’s amazing, especially if this is all new to you. Check it out.

As I became more aware of my food waste, I became interested in worms. Not the night crawler-types, but with red wigglers. They’re recycling worms that eat my food scraps. A friend gave me a baggie of worms to start my own bin, and I was hooked immediately. These little (quiet) beings graciously take the pieces of fruits and vegetables that I don’t eat such as avocado skins, banana peels, egg shells, apple cores and beet skins as well as coffee grounds and tea bags and turn it all into worm castings, which are fertilizer gold.

We do the upmost in our house to eat up all the edible food, even if the worms would enjoy it. However, they are the recipients when some dish becomes no longer fit for eating. This ‘garbage’ goes out to my worm bin instead of to the landfill. My big plastic box (recycle bin) is home to handfuls of red wigglers who work 24/7 to turn my waste to nutrient rich worm castings. Mixing this into your soil provide readily absorbable nutrients for all your plants.

There is a lidded glass jar on my kitchen counter for food scraps. When it’s full, I dump it into my bin conveniently located outside not far from the back door. One of my favorite health tips is this: If you are unable to sustain a worm bin, then you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables.

worm tea olympia

Alex Weisser is ready to talk worms with you at the Olympia Farmers Market.

Local expert Alex Weisser, owner of Wiser Worm Farm, is a long-time vendor at the Olympia Farmers Market. He sells Liquid Organic Fertilizer (worm tea) and containers of worms to get you started on our own bin.

Weisser says he got into the business somewhat accidentally after noticing two things: The plants that grew near the liquid runoff of the worm bed grew well, and that worm castings (digested and excreted worm food) were “pretty expensive.” Weisser noted that people continue to turn to worm tea (the liquid fertilizer) for home and garden use because they want to “keep away from chemical fertilizers.”

Make no mistake, worm tea is not a poor substitute for chemical fertilizers – it’s perhaps a stunning step beyond! The microbial activity increases growth and health of plants. And, it will not burn even sensitive plants. Ask Weisser how using worm tea can make a difference at your home. Just to be clear, worm tea is not for human drinking. It’s the liquid that passes through a worm bin and is collected underneath. It happens to be the color of a dark brewed tea. At the market you can buy your first worms, worm tea and castings and you can also make purchases through his website.

Worms don’t eat everything. You’ll need to dispose of bones, meats, oils and most of your citrus, but you can give them your newspaper. You will be impressed how much lighter your garbage can becomes.

Here’s one more tip, which you probably already do, but it’s worth noting. When I do have food leftovers that appear to be going nowhere fast, I put them in a small container and pop it into the freezer before they go bad. These small portions are perfect for lunch or a small dinner when fewer people are at home.

By spending a bit of time noticing what is in your cabinets and in your refrigerator, you can plan to make the most of your purchases. Eating more fruits and vegetables tastes great and is beneficial to maintaining your optimal weight. Worms make excellent pets. They are totally quiet, provide an invaluable service and they don’t mind if you go away for the weekend.

Eat Well – Be Well


Kevin Vasereno Still Living The Dream Aboard His Charter Fishing Boat in Westport

Thurston Talk - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 7:37am



By Gail Wood

New CBM LogoAt age 12, Kevin Vasereno first started working as a deck hand on a charter fishing boat in Westport.

Forty-seven years later Vasereno is still living the dream, working a job that most everyone else calls a vacation.

“Where do all the years go,” Vasereno questioned. “I’m still loving it.”

westport charter fishing

Casey Lowe fishing aboard the Gold Rush with his Capital Business Machines co-workers.

For 25 years, Vasereno and his wife, Karyl, have owned their own fishing boat, the Gold Rush. It’s a white 43-foot boat that’s up and running seven days a week during the summer. For 33 years, Vasereno held down two jobs. During the week from September to June, he was “Mr. Vasereno” to his chemistry and physics students – first for 18 years at Tumwater High School and then 13 years at Black Hills High School. During the summer months and on weekends in the spring, he was merely “Kevin” to the fishermen looking for a good “pole bending” time.

Then in the spring of 2012, Mr. Vasereno became Kevin permanently. After 33 years, he retired from teaching and picked up his fishing pole full time.

This is the third fall he hasn’t returned to school to teach. While he enjoyed teaching, he doesn’t miss it.

“I love it,” he said about retirement from teaching. “I don’t miss it because I’m keeping so darn busy. It would be a lot harder to give up my fishing business, which I’ve done for 47 years. Now, that would be hard to quit.”

In the summer of 1975, when he was attending college to get his education degree, Vasereno became a captain when he got his Master’s License from the United States Coast Guard at the age of 19. He officially became “Skipper.”

Kevin has two objectives when he pulls his 43-foot fishing boat out of Westport. His primary goal is to make sure everyone going fishing has fun. The second goal is to catch fish, returning with the best catch possible. Casey Lowe, who has gone out fishing on Vasereno’s boat many times over the years, gives his former high school teacher a double thumbs up.

westport fishing charter

Heading out on the Gold Rush charter fishing boat from Westport (from left) Jim Belleville, Derek Lowe, Matt Jennings, Colin Vasereno, Kevin Vasereno, Casey Lowe.

“He’s amazing,” said Lowe, a Tumwater grad. “You’d think since he’s the Skipper, all he’s going to do is drive the boat. No way. He’s sprinting around helping. If you need a herring on, he’ll put it on and get you back in the water.”

Lowe, along with his brothers Derrick and Tom and some co-workers at Capital Business Machines, recently went tuna fishing on the Gold Rush. Lowe figured they caught over 80 fish.

“It was crazy,” Lowe said. “We had such a great time. Kevin is super friendly.”

Fishing is truly a family affair for the Vaserenos. Karyl handles the booking, taking the phone calls from people wanting to schedule a day of fishing. As for his deckhand, he’s got his son, Colin, who also has captain’s license. Like his dad, Colin began working as a deckhand at age 12.

“He’s been my full time deck hand since he was 16,” Vasereno said. “He’s got a ton of experience. Some day he may want to take the business over. It’s hard to tell right now.”

westport charter fishing

Jimmy Belleville (left) holds a fish he caught standing next to Colin Vasereno.

Colin, his dad’s deck mate for eight years, makes sure everyone’s line is baited and in the water.

“He’s just like his dad,” Lowe said. “He’s making sure everyone has a herring on their hook and in the water. When you’re on Kevin’s boat, you’re going to catch some fish. If you’re not puking, you’re going to catch some fish.”

Coming off a good fishing season when the catch count was up, Vasereno has no complaints about his fishing business.

“We were a team this year on the boat,” he said. “It worked out really well.”

Occasionally, Karyl hangs up the phone in their office and joins her husband and son for a fishing outing on their boat.

“Every so often she comes,” Vasereno said.

But there’s one other “chore” that limits her to a handful of fishing trips a year.

“She’s so busy with our granddaughters and things like that,” said Vasereno, who is selling his Tumwater home and moving to Westport. “She got to go tuna fishing once, halibut fishing once and salmon fishing once. She’s a very good fisherman.”

Vasereno’s job as a teacher, with his summers off, was ideal for being a charter boat owner. Working spring break and weekends during the spring, Vasereno was able to get out on the water for fishing a lot.

“We really didn’t miss much of the season even when I was teaching school,” he said.

westport charter fishing

Jim Belleville has fun fishing for tuna aboard the Gold Rush.

Lowe talked fondly of his days in Mr. Vasereno’s electricity class at Tumwater High School. Vasereno had a reputation of being an enforcer, a disciplinarian who made sure all his students were on task, getting their work done.

“In his class, you learned,’ Lowe said. “He was one of the best teachers I had.”

With owning his own boat for all these years, Vasereno has a lot of repeat customers. But he doesn’t really look at them as customers.

“I’ve got great customers. Guys who been coming out for so long,” Vasereno said. “They’re more friends than customers. We just have a great time. It’s always fun going fishing – great to see the people. Every day is different.”

He said owning a charter boat business isn’t for everybody. It can become a job, a business that has no weekend getaway. But for Vasereno, it’s heaven.

“For me it’s just been one of the things I like to do most,” he said.

To schedule a trip with Versereno aboard the Gold Rush, click here.


Orca Books In-Store Author Appearance: Sandra Pollard, Author of "Puget Sound Whales for Sale: The Fight to End Orca Hunting"

OlyBlog Home Page - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 10:58pm
Event:  Sat, 10/11/2014 - 3:00pm

A free reading at Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E in downtown Olympia: marine naturalist Sandra Pollard will be talking about her new book, Puget Sound Whales for Sale: The Fight to End Orca Hunting.

In November 2005, Washington's iconic killer whales, known as Southern Resident orcas, were placed on the endangered species list. It was a victory long overdue for a fragile population of fewer than one hundred whales. Sandra Pollard traces the story and destinies of the many Southern Resident orcas captured for commercial purposes in or near the Puget Sound between 1964 and 1976. During this time, these highly intelligent members of the dolphin family lost nearly one-third of their population. Drawing on original archive material, this important volume outlines the history of orca captivity while also recounting the harrowing struggle--and ultimate triumph--for the Puget Sound orcas' freedom. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Murder on Lilly

Janine's Little Hollywood - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 9:15pm

City, Community Mourn Death of Beloved Maple Tree Above: The root system of an 80 year old Bigleaf maple tree in Olympia was cut in April by subcontractors of CenturyLink. The tree was deemed a loss by city staff and cut down in late September. The tree was located on the property of Surgical Associates, on the corner of Ensign and Lilly Road in northeast Olympia near St. Peter's Hospital. By Janine

A large Bigleaf maple tree was murdered on the corner of Ensign and Lilly in northeast Olympia. Its death is being mourned by city staff and community members who have admired its beauty in all seasons.

The tree was estimated to be eighty years old. Its diameter was estimated to be 71 inches.

The tree was killed by subcontractors of CenturyLink, South Bay Excavating, Inc., who were observed on April 25 digging a deep trench adjacent to the tree, cutting into its root system.The tree was located in the city’s right-of-way at 3610 Ensign Road NE, on the property of Surgical Associates.

Staff at Surgical Associates, puzzled about what was going on, called the city to report the work.

“I came to work and saw them doing something and thought, 'this isn’t right',” said Michael Brooks, an employee at Surgical Associates.
“I only started here in March but I loved that tree. None of us are happy….About two or three weeks later, we found out what happened. I was just mortified….” said Brooks earlier this week.

Above: This picture of the Bigleaf maple was taken September 26.On September 26, the tree was observed by Little Hollywood to be in the process of being cut down over a period of several hours by Asplundh, a tree maintenance company, which prompted an inquiry to City of Olympia staff.

When first asked about the tree, it was difficult for City of Olympia Urban Forester Michelle Bentley to speak of the loss.“That large maple tree, the absolutely magnificent tree in front of Surgical Associates, unfortunately, very unfortunately…we were very disturbed about this. CenturyLink was in there this spring, upgrading some of its boxes and underground utility lines. They severely cut the rooting system of that tree, making it extremely prone to wind throw, and it was not safe to have it remain through this winter. It was just a terrible loss…we at the city were all…yeah, unfortunately, the roots were damaged and tree had to come down,” said Bentley.

The Cover-Up and InvestigationCity of Olympia senior vegetation specialist Tom Otto says it was the staff of Surgical Associates who first noticed the work being done and reported it.

“By the time we got there, they (the workers) had backfilled it, and prettied it up,” says Otto, a certified arborist and certified tree risk assessor. “It’s really been a painful process… it’s really tough to appraise a tree like that. The problem was that if the tree failed, the hospital might have to go on an emergency generator, or could impede the entrance to the emergency room,” said Otto. The tree was located near transformers and utilities that serve St. Peter’s Hospital.

On his hazard tree assessment form, Otto noted structural and fine root damage along the south and east sides of the tree, and that root failure would likely lead to whole tree failure. The report includes two pictures depicting the scene. “More than 33% of the roots were damaged within the critical root zone and on the upwind side of prevailing wind direction. Ganodrema applinatum fungal conks around base on tree and in cavity opening. Primary power lines feeding hospital; commercial medical buildings, parking lot, major intersection leading to hospital, communication utility junction boxes. Total risk factor of 11 out of 12,” Otto stated in his report dated May 8, 2014.

“Given the extent of the root damage on the upwind side, the trees (sic) structural integrity has likely been significantly compromised. Tree failure could likely cause significant damage to infrastructure, vehicles, and potentially harm people,” Otto also noted.When asked about the possibility of extraordinary life support measures, such as those in place for trees on the state Capitol Campus, Otto says the city hired a consulting arborist to conduct a separate assessment of the maple. 

“I’m aware of the efforts to save declining trees on the Capitol Campus because of their historical significance however, this tree would likely never receive that kind of consideration. As for the decision to remove, it was a made by several people here at the city and based on my risk assessment,” said Otto.Adequate Restitution For Crime?

In a restitution letter dated May 30 addressed to Bob Watters, Contract Project Administrator of the Qwest Corporation doing business as CenturyLink, the City of Olympia did not ask for a dollar amount. It cites Olympia Municipal Code, Section 16.60.020 regarding tree protection zones and the definition of removal.“....The tree damage is a clear violation of the City's code...The only acceptable means of restoration for this damage is to remove the remainder of the tree, grind the stump below grade, and pay for the cost of a replacement tree….The City will purchase and plant a replacement tree after the removal of the damaged tree and stump. This will ensure quality of the nursery stock and planting….” says the city’s restitution letter to CenturyLink.

The city billed CenturyLink for the cost of the labor and materials to replant the tree.
Above: The rings of the Bigleaf maple on the corner of Ensign and Lilly Road in Olympia on October 4. The stump has since been removed.Attempted Murder: Not The First TimeThis is not the first time the City of Olympia has caught CenturyLink in its course of work, said Otto. 

Otto says the city put a stop work order on a project on Martin Way when the company was close to a big pine tree.  In another case, CenturyLink was getting ready to create a trench near a tree but it too was stopped in time. “We wouldn’t have known about this tree (the Bigleaf maple) if the staff at Surgical Associates hadn’t called us,” said Otto.

Urban Forester Michelle Bentley is busy this time of year due to the urgency of hazard tree situations and development review projects, but is very concerned about CenturyLink's actions.

“I met with Bob Watters yesterday to discuss work they will be doing at a Harrison Avenue location. They are now on board to contact us whenever they install equipment within the city right-of-way adjacent to trees so we can meet on-site and determine the best course of action to protect the trees,” said Bentley in an email to Little Hollywood this morning.

Otto encourages anyone who is seeing work done on a tree and has questions about it to call the city. He also noted that there is no inventory of trees that are in the city’s public right-of-way.

“We have an inventory of trees on city property that are typically downtown and along major arterials. It’s not as comprehensive as it could be….” said Otto.

The city’s Urban Forestry program is located in the City of Olympia's Public Works Department, Water Resources department. For more information, contact Michelle Bentley at or (360) 753-8046.
Above: The view from Surgical Associates will never be the same.

Mushroom Hunting around Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 7:59pm



Photos by Megan Conklin

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Hysterics Final Show in Olympia! With Bricklayer and VEXX

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 5:00pm

Friday, October 10th, doors at 8pm. Advance tickets may be purchased here:


Facebook invite

Categories: Arts & Entertainment
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