Recent local blog posts

Saint Martin’s University’s Dragon Boat Festival Back With A Big Splash On Saturday

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 2:22pm

ThurstonTalk

James Dunbar wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into. Encouraged by some friends, Dunbar turned out for a boat paddling team his junior year at Cleveland High School in Portland, Ore. It was a decision he’s never regretted. “I was hooked that first day,” Dunbar said. “It’s really interesting and there’s no other sport

Vintage Lovers’ Paradise: Girlfriends Vintage Market Spring Market Is Here

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

She’s there at every show, the first person in line, smiling as she waits to enter. Sometimes she brings her two daughters, sometimes she goes away and comes back with her husband, but at every single Girlfriends Vintage Market the same woman is always at the front of the queue. “She just buys for her

SPSCC Drafting Students Prepare HomesFirst for Construction

Thurston Talk - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Both South Puget Sound Community College and the local non-profit HomesFirst are focused on changing lives, and this time they’re doing it together. The partnership will help others learn, grow, and succeed. Mike Murphy is a fixture of the SPSCC drafting program, teaching for almost 30 years. Each fall new students arrive eager to earn

Thee XNTRX “We Never Look up”

K Records - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 1:17am
Quite a number of All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] alum, including the three Thee XNTRX MCs who appear on “We Never Look up”, IAME, Goldini (pictured above), and Miz will be in Olympia Friday April 29 performing as part of the Onry Ozzborne‘s Duo tour. For a list of other Duo tour dates go HERE. […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Sarah Sawatzky, Katharine Cowan Set to Take the Stage in Cinderella

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 5:50pm

ThurstonTalk

This time around the glass slipper will be a perfect fit for two maidens. Sarah Sawatzky and Katharine Cowan will both play the title role in Studio West Dance Theatre’s production of Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. The two 16-year-old dancers will each assume the lead role twice during

Local Students Invited to Enter Coldwell Banker’s “What Makes a House a Home” Scholarship Essay Contest

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 2:42pm

ThurstonTalk

“Home is where the heart is.” “There’s no place like home.” “This feels like coming home.”  These well-known quotes all describe what a home is. Yet, not one of them talks about siding, paint, or landscaping. None of them describe granite countertops and a soaking tub. Why? Because making a “home” is not the same

"Stick Your Neck Out to Create Change—Why and How," with John Graham

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 1:22pm
Event:  Wed, 04/27/2016 - 11:00am - 12:15pm

Evergreen is hosting a series of lectures on thinking about the Anthropocene - the idea that our effects on the planet are changing it so profoundly that we're entering a new geological era. The next one is this Wednesday at 11:00 AM in the Communications Building at Evergreen. (Earlier talks in the series, and other recent talks at the college , are now available on YouTube.)

Stick Your Neck Out to Create Change—Why and How, John Graham

 ”The main reason why important challenges such as climate change don’t get met as they should is not that people lack ideas or ideals. There are plenty of smart people with fine ideals. But becoming an agent of change can be scary and too many people hesitate to put the ideas and ideals they have into action. ” So says John Graham, a Director of the Giraffe Heroes Project, a global NGO that for more than 30 years has been inspiring and training people to stick their necks out to help solve tough public problems, from climate change to inner city violence to crimes against women. He’ll share with you what he’s learned about sticking your own neck out for what you believe in–lessons from the more than 1300 brave activists honored by the Giraffe Heroes Project so far–and from his own lifetime as a risk-taking adventurer, helping people the world over take on the problems that test our times.”

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Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 8:04am

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton My name is Spice and I am a 1 year old Female Lab/Pit Mix/something else. Check out my great ears and try to guess what other breed is in my DNA?? I am a very sweet girl, who has been on her own trying to survive for a while. The

Rebuilding Together Thurston County Continues to Help Change Lives

Thurston Talk - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

You can see the emotion on Lane Sater’s face as he repeats a heart-wrenching story of a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence. For the past five years, more than 2,000 times, she has entered an unsafe house. There are holes in the walls, the carpet has been ripped out, the windows

Shivas “Used to Being Cool”

K Records - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 1:34am
  If the Shivas aren’t used to being cool, they better adapt quickly. The world won’t be changing its mind any time soon.   K Song of the Day: Shivas “Used to Being Cool” from their album You Know What to Do [KLP252]. The Shivas album You Know What to Do [KLP252] is available now […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Expanding truth behind why Ritchie Brothers moved to Napavine

Olympia Time - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 8:30pm


One of the best-loved tales about the Thurston County commission is how they "chased" Ritchie Brothers, an auction business dealing in large equipment (cranes, tractors and such) out of the county a few years ago.

I've poked around before looking for evidence of this, but I never really came up with anything. But, the story keeps getting repeated (without much, if any, citation), so I thought I'd dig down into it.

But, what I've yet to find is any sort of smoking gun, any sort of specific example that anyone can point to as the axle upon which this County Commission vs. Ritchie Brothers narrative can turn.

There's not expansion proposed that the county shuts down because of environmental protections. There's no new expensive sewer system. Nothing.

So, let's take a look back where this all begins when the Ritchie Brothers company starts talking about a possible move from Thurston County.

Centralia Chronicle in 2009:
Even with a stumbling economy, businesses and people still show up by the thousands to place their bids. If anything, Cunningham thinks the recession has helped business. "Instead of buying new equipment, more people are looking to buy used equipment," she said. Things have picked up so much for the auction company at their location off of exit 95 in South Thurston County that they're potentially mulling an expansion to Lewis County, due to some of the possibilities along Interstate 5. Unsure of when or where the auction will move to, Giroux is absolutely certain more space is needed than the current location offers. "It's not nearly enough room here," Giroux said. "We're bursting at the seams, and we're definitely interested in finding a much larger parcel. But whether we go north or south depends on the property availability." And the price, he added.In the Olympian, a few years later:
Co-founder Dave Ritchie was on hand for Thursday’s grand opening as was current president Rob Mackay. Mackay said the company simply had outgrown the Thurston County site.Given the opportunity to throw shade, the Ritchie Brothers' folks did not. At every turn when asked, they'd respond: we don't have enough room, we want something larger. While there were likely parcels in Thurston County that could've been big enough, combining one that would've been appropriate for a commercial operation and near Interstate 5 was likely a hard find.

At least from the company itself, you can't find the narrative that Thurston County government was being mean and chased them out.

Once you start looking down in Lewis County after the auction company moved south, you start to see a new narrative form.

Centralia Chronicle, 2012:
“We love Lewis County so far,” Mills said. The company moved to the new site right off Interstate 5’s exit 68 from its previous location at Maytown in Thurston County. The new 200-acre facility quadruples the size of the Thurston County site. “The county worked with Ritchie Bros. to get them to come here,” said Lewis County Commissioner Ron Averill of Centralia. “We worked hard to make sure we weren’t posing any unnecessary restrictions on them.” The county had to rezone the property for commercial use because it sat on agricultural resource land. Ritchie Bros. will now hold five auctions a year in Lewis County. Averill said Ritchie Bros. brought about $1 million a year to Thurston County “When you consider the county gets one percent sales tax, that’s significant,” Averill said.Still the Ritchie Brothers company itself is consistent, there was more room (four times the room) for them to operate near Napavine. Being that it's Lewis County too, the land was likely cheaper while still being right next to I-5.

What you do see is a Lewis County Commissioner throw shade north, at least indirectly. Lewis County wanted to make sure they had a smooth landing, see? But, even there, he's not referencing any specific problem Ritchie Brothers had with Thurston County.

If anything, it was the Ritchie Brothers company that hurt the economic possibility of their old site. When they moved on, they placed a deed restriction on the parcels to ensure another auction company wouldn't move in behind them.

From the same 2012 Olympian story:
The Thurston County buyers won’t be offering auction services on the property because of a deed restriction placed on it by RitchieBros., said Troy Dana of Olympia-based Dana Commercial Real Estate. He said his client, which offered auction services but does not compete with Ritchie Bros., declined to bid after learning about the deed restriction. “It took away part of the business model,” Dana said. He said his client, an undisclosed out-of-state business, was prepared to bid up to $2.5 million for the three parcels. Instead, the property sold for $1.47 million. “That’s the impact of the deed restriction,” Dana said.But, despite the deed restriction that limited the use of the property, it sold anyway. And, again it became a going concern, pumping money into the Thurston County economy.

And, this is where the entire County Commission vs. Good Business thread falls apart. When you take a drive down I-5 to what was the old Ritchie Brothers site. Instead of laying empty the site is now occupied by a very similar business, Valley Freightliners. While Ritchie Brothers held periodic auctions for used large equipment, Valley Freightliners is a regular dealer in new and used semi-trailer trucks.

If it were true that the Thurston County commissioners were chasing retail large equipment sales out of the county, they were doing a really bad job of it if Freigtliner was ready to move right back in.

Thurston County EDC in 2012:
Initially VFI was searching for land when broker Don Moody of CBRE brought this high visibility site to their attention. Previously owned by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, VFI purchased a 34 acre parcel along with the existing high bay structures.

"It presented a great location on I-5 with an existing infrastructure that aligns with our needs," said Bernasconi. The location has good access and visibility, along with ample parking. It also has an existing facility that fits the truck dealership model.

Some minor remodeling and basic updates will be done to optimize its use. "We're hoping to get permit approval from the county in the next couple weeks," shared Bernasconi.I had one one last place to look for a smoking gun. I thought since permitting and land use records are available online, I'd find some sort of file of correspondence between Ritchie Brothers and the county.

Going through the permits and paperwork online at Thurston County, I was only able to find one active project around that same time. Ritchie Brothers was working on a permit for a septic system for a ten person office building and auction yard. You can search through the documents here (use the tax parcel number 12605330400).

From my reading of the permit file of the parcel, activity seems to drop off as Ritchie Brothers start exploring new opportunities in 2009 and then it picks back up when Valley Freightliners moves in three years later.

Either way, if they were looking to get out of the sewer/septic business by heading south, it looks like they're out of luck.

Longview Daily News:
Two multimillion-dollar auctions that were cause for celebration last year now are the cause of a pricey renovation for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers at its freeway site between Napavine and Winlock. The state Department of Health is mandating that the heavy equipment auction company upgrade its onsite sewage system, which could cost up to $70,000. During two auctions last year, the 3,500-gallon septic tank — the size usually used by small commercial businesses — was overwhelmed, said Denise Lahmann, the program and reclaimed water supervisor for the Office of Shellfish and Water Protection at the Department of Health. For Lewis County, the costly mistake could become a lucrative new business venture — if the Richie Bros. goes along.According to the Lewis County Commissioners, Ritchie Bros. has expressed interest in partnering to build a commercial-level sewage system — one the county could use to encourage further development around Exit 68, where Interstate 5 and state Route 12 meet.And, a letter to the editor in the Centralia Chronicle:
I read your article, in last Saturday’s issue, regarding problems that Ritchie Bros. are having with the State of Washington regarding its current septic sewer system. I have been aware, for quite some time, that Lewis County was wasting time and valuable taxpayer funds in an effort to justify a separate and additional “wastewater system” to benefit not only Ritchie Bros., but “potential” development of “new restaurants and hotels” in the Exit 68 area. Excuse me, but Ritchie Bros. is in the city of Napavine service area, and service to that facility is within Napavine’s State of Washington approved comprehensive, water and sewer plans. Additionally, Napavine has sufficient capacity within its water and wastewater facilities to service the entire Exit 68 area as is indicated in our water and wastewater plans.
It seems to me that Lewis County, rather than working with the city of Napavine, is participating in a naked power grab in the guise of “helping” Ritchie Bros. And, lastly, if not for some mysterious sewer debacle that has been left unmentioned, what about the impact of Ritchie Brothers leaving Thurston County. Even if the county commissioners did not wage an open war against large scale heavy equipment auction houses, certainly them leaving tanked the county's sale tax receipts.

Maybe even the appearance of Valley Freightliners didn't save the day for the county economy.

But, if you spread out taxable activity in Thurston County from 1995 to 2014 (the most recent annual data available) the Ritchie Brothers impact in nearly invisible. Here's the data I'm working from and here is the source.

But, this chart I think speaks for itself. It tracks taxable sales activity in unincorporated Thurston County by units and total taxable.


Certainly you do see a dip in taxable activity from 2011 to 2012, and possibly that is the time when Ritchie Brothers was wrapping up and Valley Freightliners was coming online. But, there is no blip in the units line, which consistently shoots upwards.

What this chart does show is a steep increase in taxable activity in unincorporated Thurston County since 2008. That's when Sandra Romero was elected. Just in case you're still tracking me.

Prairie in Bloom

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 12:42pm
Text and photos by Nancy Partlow © Every year, I  keep trying to see the prairies at the peak of bloom, but never manage to time it just right.  This year, serendipitously, I finally did.  A few days ago I was driving along  Delphi Road when I noticed that the grounds of the Old Delphi Schoolhouse were a gorgeous carpet of blue camas lilies.   Wow!  What a knockout sight.  This told me that the prairies must be in full flower as well.

So yesterday I drove to the Mima  Preserve trail to check out the show.  But when I got there, I was kind of disappointed.   The bloom was nice, but not what I was hoping for.
 
Knowing that farther south on Mima Road near Bordeaux  the camas fields are more robust, I headed there instead.   Upon arrival, I was not disappointed.  The roadsides were thick with blue stars and the prairie itself  an undulating patchwork of  azure lilies and yellow lomatiam.     As I soaked in the beauty of the scene, the naturalist in me wondered if the  unseasonably hot weather earlier in the week  had brought on a sudden and intense flowering that usually takes place over a longer period of time. I also pondered whether climate change will eventually cause spring-emerging insects that rely on native flowers for food to miss an ever-earlier bloom period.    Queen Bombus vosnesenskii bumble bee gathering nectar
and pollen from a camas lily
Such gloomy thoughts aside, I also remembered my great-grandmother Cynthia, who lived with us while I was growing up.  Cynthia was born and raised on the Camas Prairie in Idaho in the late 1800's.  Sights such as this must have been very familiar to her. In researching this story, I learned that the camas prairie she knew is now gone.  This makes me grateful that at least some of ours have been preserved.  Long may they flower.
Categories: Local Environment

Science of Hope Comes to Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 8:50am

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office In collaboration with TOGETHER!, Family Support Center of South Sound, Thurston Thrives, and the United Way of Thurston County, the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is excited to announce The Science of Hope workshops with Dr. Chan Hellman, a nationally recognized researcher in Hope theory and research.

Lawn Boys Owner Brin Hanson Takes Pride in a Job Well Done

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

A lot of high school students I know are focused on just getting through their last year of school, their most pressing concerns usually being grades and perhaps prom.  But this year I met Brin Hansen, the owner and general manager of Lawn Boys, a local lawn service and landscaping company.  It’s an aptly named

Rainier’s Jonny Hansen Eyeing State Track Meet, Army in June

Thurston Talk - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

While many high school seniors wrestle with the dilemma of what the next stage of their lives will look like following graduation, Rainier’s Jonny Hansen already has the answer. It’s something he’s actually known for quite some time. Last summer, when his classmates were prepping for their senior year, Hansen, one of the state’s top

Samba OlyWa Closes Out Procession of the Species 2016

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 7:43pm

ThurstonTalk

Thank you Samba OlyWa for your beautiful finish to Procession of the Species 2016. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

Procession of the Species Photos 2016

Thurston Talk - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 7:38pm

ThurstonTalk

With only a few sprinkling showers, Procession of the Species 2016 rolled through the streets of downtown Olympia.  Experience the sights and relive the Procession through these images.  For a complete set of images from Samba OlyWa’s performance, click here. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

I just put down The Prince of Tides

South Sound Arts - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 10:28am
Warning: self-promotion
One of the most treasured things ever written about one of my books was the title of an amazon.com review of The Backside of Nowhere written by Linda Linguvic, a reviewer from New York City: “Move over Pat Conroy. There’s a new Southern writer in town.”

I just finished reading Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, and I am stunned. The emotional impact of that book is akin to what I imagine someone might feel after electroshock or after recovering lost memories.
I have enjoyed the three books of Conroy’s that I have read, but not uncritically. His humor can be wonderful, but sometimes a tad slick. His descriptive passages are often marvelous and lyrical, but he is overly verbose (is that redundant?). As a fellow Southerner (I’m an ex-pat Southernerner; he has mostly stayed there), I am blown away by how deeply he loves the South while being horrified by its racism and small-mindedness and stupidity. The thing that bothers me the most about Conroy is that he seems to be full of himself. Each of his books that I have read—Beach Music, The Prince of Tides, and South of Broad—is written in the first person by a protagonist I can’t help but see as Conroy himself, and while his narrator/protagonists are extremely self-critical, their self-criticism comes across as prideful. This I do not like about his books, and yet . . . and yet, not since reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden have I read such a powerful novel as Prince of Tides
When I finally reached the epilogue on page 554, I could hardly wait to find out how he was going to wrap things up, but at the same time I dreaded reaching the last page. What could I do then? Find another Conroy book to read? Go back to page one and start over?
I am flattered that the critic chose to compare me favorably to Conroy, but I cannot help but feel inadequate in comparison. I certainly do not have his gift of language, nor do I have the guts to open myself up in the way he does. I don’t think I could ever express in writing the kind of passion his characters express, because I have never felt such passion.
So thank you, Linda Linguvic for your kind review. I hope I can live up to it in future books. Here is her review of The Backside of Nowhere:

 Set in a Gulf Coast town, this novel does more than just give us a story typical of the region. Yes, it includes high school romances, a competitive football game, corrupt political leaders and a devastating hurricane. And yes, it deals with the endemic racism inherent in such towns. But yet the story is so engrossing that I could not put the book down. I loved the characters, including a Hollywood star who comes home to visit his ailing father. Naturally, he meets up with his old-time girlfriend and they reignite their high school romance. We learn about his parents' background and his adopted sister with a secret. Then there is his sister who loves her hard drinking husband no matter how much he strays. All these characters came across as very real and there is a slight comic nature to the book which made it even more interesting to me and kept the story moving.

Frankly, I loved this book and actually found it better than Pat Conroy's latest, "South of Broad" because the characters seemed more real and not just stereotypes. Alec Clayton hit the mark perfectly, held my interest throughout and even surprised me at the end. Bravo! This is a really good book. - Linda Linguvic (New York City), amazon.com
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Improving Gary Edwards' math

Olympia Time - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 10:09am

A few weeks ago I took a shot at Gary Edwards' fuzzy math on population change in Thurston County. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the deeper assumptions in what he's trying to get at.

His point (basically) was that although the population has increased in Thurston County, the number of deputies has stayed the same. The problem was that the population has increased (in unincorporated Thurston County) only half the amount he claimed. Which is okay, from his point of view, I suppose because population still went up while the number of deputies stayed flat.

But, that statement seems to assume a result, such as an increase in crime. So, let's take a look.

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1995 Most recent Difference Lacey 50.00 64.60 14.60 Olympia 67.80 86.30 18.50 Yelm 75.90 78.00 2.10 Tenino 86.00 42.00 -44.00 Tumwater 75.30 84.20 8.90 Thurston unincorporated 32.90 36.30 3.40
So, what it looks like here is that the crime rate did go up in Thurston County, but not nearly the rate that it increased in Lacey and Olympia. If we have a problem with an increase in crime, its in the urban areas, not in rural Thurston County with its stable level of policing.

Also, let's take a look at another metric, the total number of police in each Thurston County city and the ratio of police to population:

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1995 total 2015 total Change 1995 ratio 2015 ratio Change Lacey 38 50 12 1.51 1.08 -0.43 Olympia 67 68 1 1.8 1.33 -0.47 Yelm 9 12 3 4.3 1.47 -2.83 Tenino 5 2 -3 2.38 0.87 -1.51 Rainier 4 0 -4 2.78 0 -2.78 Tumwater 20 22 2 1.93 1.41 -0.52 Thurston unincorporated 79 80 1 0.72 0.57 -0.15
Every police department has seen a decrease in the number of police on patrol compared to the population. By this metric, the ratio of police per person has dropped the least in the Thurston County sheriff's office than anywhere else locally.

So, while Edwards is still right that population went up and the level of policing stayed stable, he's implying a connection that really isn't there. The Thurston County sheriff's department saw a stable cop to resident ratio (compared to other local law enforcement departments) and this did not result in an increase in crime. 

Also, here's the spreadsheet (plus references) I was working from all along, just in case you want to check my math.
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