Liquor Control Board recommendations threaten state’s medical marijuana system
In November 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502, legalizing recreational marijuana use. Although I-502 proponents promised that it would not change the existing medical cannabis system, the state now aims to merge patients into the future recreational scheme.
Legislators are concerned about federal intervention with the recreational system unless they apply more regulations to the medical cannabis law passed fifteen years ago. This fear is based on an announcement made in August 2013 by U.S. District Attorney Jenny Durkan. She stated, “The continued operation and proliferation of unregulated, for-profit entities outside of the state’s regulatory and licensing scheme is not tenable and violates both state and federal law”. However, Durkan did not suggest specific changes.
The state is also worried that the new recreational industry will not be a profitable success unless it eliminates or envelops the competition of the medical cannabis market. Washington’s top recreational marijuana industry consultant, Mark Kleiman, was quoted in the Seattle Times saying “I don’t think the legal market state officials are imagining will be able to compete with the medical market if it remains as wide open as it currently is.”
The alterations to medical cannabis are based on a set of recommendations issued in October 2013 by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, in conjunction with the Departments of Health and Revenue. Several hundred patients protested the new guidelines at a public hearing for the Liquor Control Board in November 2013 before they were finally submitted to the legislature on January 1, 2014. The recommendations that most concern medical cannabis patients and activists include:
Tightly restricting access to medical cannabis authorizations.
Restricting and disciplining authorizing health care providers.
Creating a mandatory patient registry accessible to state agencies.
Redefining “intractable pain” and “debilitating.”
Reducing legal possession amounts from 24 ounces to 3 ounces.
Reducing legal patient grows from 15 plants to 6 plants (only 3 of which may be flowering, or “budding,” plants).
Eliminating collective gardens and medical cannabis “dispensaries”.
Implementing high excise taxes and cost mark-ups.
The January 2014 legislative session commenced with a whirlwind of over twenty bills relating to marijuana. Three contentious and similar bills have been designed to fit the medical system into the confines of the Liquor Control Board recommendations. Two of the bills, Senate bills 5887 and 6178, would alter I-502. SB 5887 is sponsored by Republican Senator Ann Rivers of the 18th District, and Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles of the 36th District sponsors SB 6178. Any modifications to the 502 recreational legislation within the first two years of implementation require a two-thirds super majority to pass. Right now, both bills are awaiting a hearing by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and they may be combined into a single entity as they progress.
The third piece of legislation, House bill 2149, does not require that super majority because it adds onto the Controlled Substance Act rather than amends subsections of 502. This leaves 2149 as the bill most likely to finally pass. HB 2149 is sponsored by Democratic Representative of the 34th District, Eileen Cody. It was passed by the House on February 14 and will proceed to the Senate for the final votes. The current legislative session ends on March 13.
Steve Sarich, executive director of the Cannabis Action Coalition, who also headed the No on I-502 campaign, feels that a final passing vote on 2149 would be devastating to the existing medical cannabis system. After the House vote passed 2149, Sarich stated, “Our cowardly legislators voted to effectively end medical cannabis here. Patients are in shock. If the Senate votes to pass this bill, Washington will be the first state to end medical cannabis.”
There was a bill that had much support from the medical cannabis community, but it never made it past it’s first reading on January 14, 2014. House bill 2233, also known as the Ric Smith Memorial Act, was created by the medical cannabis advocacy groups Sensible Washington and Americans for Safe Access, and sponsored by Democratic Representative Sherry Appleton. HB 2233 would have given patients arrest protection, further regulated authorizations from healthcare providers, created a voluntary instead of mandatory patient registry, kept patient possession limits at 24 ounces and 15 plants, more tightly regulated collective gardens, and legalized licensed medical dispensaries. The bill was assigned to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, which is chaired by Representative Eileen Cody, sponsor of Senate bill 2149. No public hearing has been planned on HB 2233 and it remains inactive. Medical cannabis activists are disappointed that the bill did not gain more legislative support.
When asked about HB 2233 not progressing successfully, Kari Boiter, the Americans for Safe Access National Advocate of the Year, said, “We need a system designed specifically for medical cannabis that prioritizes the needs of patients. Recreational stores face many uncertainties and that is creating a lot of anxiety for patients who rely on cannabis to stay healthy. Patients need assurance that the medicine they use now will be available in the future. The bills currently active in the legislature do not provide the assurance that patients deserve.”
One of the major concerns of patients about bills 2149, 5887, and 6178 is a mandatory registry. The Liquor Control Board official recommendations and all three bills aiming to overhaul medical cannabis require that authorizing health care providers enter patients into a database with information available to the Department of Health, Department of Revenue, and law enforcement. Many complain that this puts patients’ privacy at risk and may violate federal HIPAA law. It appears unjust to make patient information available to law enforcement considering that marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 substance at both the state and federal levels. In addition, requiring that medical professionals enter authorizations into the registry puts their careers at risk for the same reason. The bills claim that the registry will provide arrest protection for patients, yet simply being in the registry may be construed as probable cause for law enforcement. There is no mandatory registry proposed for future recreational users. Patients will not receive any rights or protections unless they are entered into the state registry.
Any of these pending bills would greatly limit access to medical cannabis authorizations. Many health providers, especially physicians, are unwilling to approve or supply medical cannabis authorizations due to the risk of legal action because cannabis is a schedule 1 substance. This may particularly affect military veterans who rely on the federal veterans’ healthcare system and Medicaid patients on Social Security Disability who are limited to certain providers. Healthcare professionals will also likely be wary of authorizing patients as they will be subject to the new authorization disciplinary board to be established by the Department of Health. In addition, physicians cannot legally advertise that they offer or approve cannabis authorization, so patients will have even greater difficulty finding an authorizing health care provider.
The new legislation would allow patients to be authorized for additional medical cannabis use only with special approval from their primary care physician, after which they would be monitored every three months. This special approval is highly unlikely to occur due to physicians already being overwhelmed with patients and paperwork, and not wanting to be at risk of state or federal legal action. In addition, frequent physician appointments are too costly for low-income and uninsured patients. This hardly seems in line with the Liquor Control Board recommendation, which states, “Authorization system should not place an undue burden on healthcare providers”.
House bill 2149 specifically states that patients must show documented proof from their primary care physician that they have tried at least twenty other medications or treatments in order to authorize additional amounts. Many patients have already tried every other method before risking the stigma and murky legality of medical cannabis.
John Novak is a medical cannabis patient who has suffered from epilepsy since he was a teen. He wrote a letter to all the Washington State legislators regarding HB 2149, and recalled his history of trying various therapies for decades until finally doctors gave him the final option of experimental brain surgery and he turned to cannabis.
He said, “Forcing me to re-trace my steps and document every alternative would be near impossible. Plus I refuse the alternative: experimental brain surgery to remove the pineal gland and a large area of the short term memory section in my brain. This is NOT a viable alternative to me, but this language would seem to mandate it” [regarding bill 2149].
Another medical cannabis patient, Gina Garcia, a military veteran, has been able to gradually stop taking seventeen various pharmaceutical drugs and is no longer bound to her home by illness, thanks to cannabis.
She stated, “I am able to be a functioning member of society and responsible for my own care...If I have to go back on pharmaceuticals, playing with my grandchildren will once again be hard, I won’t be able to leave my house, and I won’t be able to contribute to society financially or physically as I do now with cannabis. I will not go back on pharmaceuticals. They were killing me.”
The redefining of “debilitating” and “intractable pain” in order to be more stringent about authorizations is troubling to many chronic pain patients. How do you determine the severity of someone’s pain? There are various types of pain; muscle, joint, spine, and nerve pain each manifest differently. It is difficult to objectively assess something that is not clinically measurable.
At a House Finance Committee meeting in March 2013, Liquor Control Board Agency Director, Rick Garza, declared—without any basis of fact—that over 90% of cannabis currently obtained at medical “dispensaries” is used for recreational purposes. His comment enraged legitimate patients who rely on cannabis for relief. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 73% of Americans with severe disabilities don’t use an assistive device such as a cane, walker or wheelchair that easily indicates an infirmity. Garza’s claim cannot be proven, especially since approximately 96% of chronic illnesses are invisible to the naked eye (and Garza is not a physician).
Other major concerns of patients include the proposed limits for possession and patient grows. The pending legislation would decrease the amount that patients could legally possess from 24 to 3 ounces of useable cannabis. Recreational users may possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana and cannot grow their own. House Bill 2149 would eliminate patient home grows in the year 2020, reducing the patient grow limits from 15 to 6 plants in the meantime. Only three plants may be in the vegetative state, along with three flowering or “budding” plants, reducing the amount of usable cannabis medical patients are allowed to harvest by 80%. This is an inadequate amount for most patients dealing with serious illnesses.
A crop of three plants is likely to produce no more than three ounces of useable cannabis. In addition, three plants per harvest with an approximate four month growing cycle may not provide enough finished product to last until the next harvest. Cannabis is dried and aged, or “cured”, before it is useable, adding a greater time gap between harvests. The existing medical cannabis system, under RCW 69.51A, states that patients have a right to possess a 60-day supply. However, the pending bills do not permit enough to last a patient that long.
Many of the sickest patients require high potency extracts and concentrates. They are known by names such as Rick Simpson oil, hash oil, wax, shatter, and dabs. They can be used in a variety of methods including ingested in infused food or capsules, vaporized and inhaled, or used topically. Extracts are the most potent form of cannabis, with cannabinoid levels as high as 80%. In comparison, marijuana flowers have maximum cannabinoid levels of approximately 20%. Dale Meltzer, owner of the medical cannabis collective Serious Medicine, offers a variety of extracts and concentrates for patients. He estimates that it takes approximately seven grams of plant material to make one gram of oil extract. A common average daily dose of oil extract for seriously ill patients is one gram or more, depending on the individual. Therefore, it could take approximately two ounces of cannabis to make just a week’s worth of oil extract for one patient. Under the pending legislation, patients will not be permitted to possess or grow enough cannabis to make the amount of extract that they need. In addition, making extracts is a laborious process that utilizes special equipment and can be dangerous because most solvents are flammable. Therefore, many patients are unable to make their own extracts and rely on medical dispensaries and collective gardens, which will be closed under the pending legislation.
Not only has I-502 made it impossible for patients to produce cannabis extracts independently, but they may wind up being banned from state stores as well. Washington Administrative Code 314-55-079 stipulates, “Marijuana extracts, such as hash, hash oil, shatter, and wax can be infused in products sold in a marijuana retail store”, but RCW 69.50.354 does not allow the sale of extracts that are not infused in products, “A marijuana extract does not meet the definition of a marijuana-infused product per RCW 69.50.101.” In a nutshell, this would allow for the sale of only extract-infused products, such as foods, but not hash or oil extracts. The Liquor Control Board is currently working on revising these definitions, and possession limits for extracts are written into their recommendations and the subsequent bills. However, there is still much to clarify about concentrates and extracts in the new recreational system, and as of now, won’t be available at recreational stores in their pure form.
Growing large numbers of plants or having access to a medical dispensary is essential for patients to create or obtain the oils, extracts, tinctures, edibles, salves, and other products that are used to treat various medical conditions. One of the most controversial aspects of the Liquor Control Board recommendations and the legislation built around them is the proposed shutdown of collective gardens and medical dispensaries. The LCB has stipulated that only licensed stores following 502 regulations may sell marijuana, and that collective gardens and dispensaries will be eliminated. Currently, collective gardens allow up to ten medical patients to grow up to forty-five plants, distributing the yield amongst them. Many patients do not have the space, physical capability, resources, or knowledge to grow on their own, and large numbers of low-income patients rely on collective gardens for affordable medication. For those unable to grow at all or participate in a collective grow, medical dispensaries are an essential access point for a variety of cannabis and cannabis products that are unlikely to be offered at state stores geared towards recreational use.
Patients’ needs are different from recreational users; certain strains of cannabis and cannabis products are useful for their specific symptoms. For example, the plant chemical compound CBD is a type of cannabinoid that has been shown to treat conditions such as seizures and inflammation, yet it does not provide the psychoactive high that recreational smokers will want to buy. 502 stores will not carry the high-CBD strains of cannabis that many patients seek. In addition, the regulations for recreational growers approve of only chemical nutrients and over two hundred pesticides. Medical patients often prefer organically-grown cannabis for health reasons, especially those with weakened immune systems. With medical cannabis shoved to the wayside and commercial growers streamlining to suit the masses, it seems unlikely that recreational stores will make patients a priority.
Although cannabis is classified as medicine under Washington’s current set of medical cannabis laws, a stipulation was added to I-502 by the Liquor Control Board last October that makes it illegal to advertise marijuana as having any curative or therapeutic value. This effectively bars future recreational stores from discussing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis with patients. This will make it more difficult for patients to figure out which specific medicine is most appropriate for their ailment, if the stores even carry what they need.
The state is planning to license 334 recreational marijuana stores, a fraction of the medical dispensaries that currently operate in Washington State. The number of growers and stores is capped at a very low number compared to existing dispensaries and demand. Seattle alone had 274 dispensaries as of last May. The LCB has allotted just two recreational stores in Olympia, two in Lacey, and one in Tumwater. According to the Associated Press, the Liquor Control Board is currently only aiming for the recreational stores to reach 25% of the state’s entire marijuana market, including medical cannabis and illegal sales. BOTEC Analysis Corporation, the state’s marijuana industry consultant firm, estimates that just 50% of businesses granted recreational marijuana licenses will stay in business.
Adding to the problem, cities and counties have the right to place moratoriums on I-502 businesses. Currently 80 cities and counties are enforcing moratoriums temporarily banning state licensed marijuana businesses. These moratoriums will each last six months to a year, although there is no current guarantee that they cannot be renewed indefinitely. A few cities have taken the bold measure of outright banning 502 establishments, citing federal law.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is in favor of local jurisdictions getting to set these ordinances. On January 16 he stated, “[I-502] establishes a licensing and regulatory system for marijuana producers, processors and retailers in Washington state, it includes no clear indication that it was intended to pre-empt local authority to regulate such businesses.” This opinion, which carries no legal weight, nevertheless comes much to the dismay of the Liquor Control Board. The LCB has been granting recreational marijuana licenses regardless of local jurisdiction requirements, which is likely to result in legal battles over areas where state licensed marijuana suppliers are in violation of local jurisdictions. A legislative bill has also been introduced to overturn the city and county moratoriums. At least 1.5 million Washington residents will be impacted by these bans. Steve Sarich of the Cannabis Action Coalition estimates that the moratoriums will leave 85-90% of the state without access to legal marijuana.
In addition to severely limiting access to cannabis, the state will be significantly driving up marijuana prices. Recreational marijuana producers, processors, and retailers will each pay a 25% excise tax on wholesale sales. These three 25% taxes, along with the state and local sales and use taxes, will significantly raise the price of marijuana. Medical patients will have to pay the same retail tax as recreational users.
According to a statement by Americans for Safe Access, “As a botanical medicine recognized by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and in line with RCW 82.08.02831 and RCW 82.08.9252, medical cannabis should not be subject to excise, sales or use taxes.” They suggest using licensing fees to cover the cost of agency oversight and administrative overhead. Senator Kohl-Welles, sponsor of SB 6178, has said, “People will go to whatever is out there so they can get marijuana at a lower cost”.
In a recent article for the Northwest Leaf, Steve Sarich calculated that, “The current price of medication in Washington is approximately $180-$225 per ounce. We have recently seen the price of medication in Colorado rise to $500 an ounce with only a 15% excise tax. That is more than twice the price of medical cannabis here in Washington. With the new excise tax on recreational cannabis in the I-502 stores at 35%-60% higher than those of Colorado, prices here could easily top $700 per ounce. That’s more than 3 times the price patients are currently paying for their medication.”
While the federal government has warned Washington State we need sufficient regulation of both medical and recreational marijuana, they didn’t specify such drastic measures against vulnerable people with chronic illness and disabilities. Washington legislators are choosing recreational profit over care for patients. Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, Steph Sherer, stated that, “Washington voters approved medical cannabis out of compassion, not because they wanted to generate revenue. Washington lawmakers have a duty to uphold the will of the voters, not just those who supported I-502, but also those who believe seriously ill patients should have access to medical cannabis.” With limited access to medicine, and increased costs, it is likely that state intervention will push many medical patients back to the underground economy.
Erin Palmer is an Olympia resident and occasional writer.
Jordan Beaudry has a pen in his pocket and a passion for social justice.
Erin Palmer / Jordan Beaudry
Submitted by The Port of Olympia
When the Macaw Arrow sailed into Budd Inlet last week, Port of Olympia was again proud to be the first port of call for a cargo ship on its maiden voyage. But this time the excited interest of port and maritime workers took a different direction. They were boarding a ship with the latest “green” features yet seen at the Olympia port.
Gearbulk, owner and manager of the Macaw Arrow, has been selling or recycling older, less efficient vessels and introducing larger, much more efficient vessels with fuel-saving technologies and economies of scale due to size.
The vessel’s engines and generators are designed to give higher fuel efficiency, reducing NOx emissions (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide). Weather routing and voyage optimization services further assist in achieving sailing routes that save time and save fuel, which in turn lessens the carbon footprint.
Macaw Arrow’s hull design maximizes cargo intake while maintaining low overall resistance through the water, resulting in lower fuel consumption and emissions. Flipper fins improve water flow into the propeller disc and improve propeller efficiency. Similarly, the rudder is fitted with a bulb directly behind the propeller which improves water flow and reduces frictional losses.
The underwater hull is coated with a low friction, anti-fouling paint which further reduces frictional resistance. It is also low in volatile organic compounds, meaning reduced emissions to the atmosphere.
The main engine is electronically controlled (rather than having a conventional camshaft controlling the fuel and valve timing functions). This gives much better combustion control over a wide load range which improves fuel efficiency (lower emissions) and gives smokeless exhaust (reduces particulate matter).
Also, the engine is de-rated, meaning it is slightly bigger than necessary, and is permanently operated at a reduced power and lower rpm which enables a more efficient propeller to be fitted, resulting in more fuel savings.
On all Gearbulk vessels, fuel flow meters and shaft torque meters monitor performance and provide the ability to intervene very quickly in the event of less than optimal performance. This is backed up with sophisticated software to help solve the problem.
An important feature of the Macaw Arrow is its ballast water treatment system which is designed to stop the spread of non-indigenous species. The fully integrated bridge has an electronic chart display and information system that eliminates the need for paper charts. The vessel’s garbage is segregated in compliance with Garbage Management Regulations and only food waste is discharged overboard. A comminutator is fitted on board for comminuting food waste. The Mariner Shilling Hi-lift rudder can go to a maximum angle of 70 degrees, giving the vessel a high turning rate.
Gearbulk is active in the SSI (Sustainable Shipping Initiative). The company is fully accredited with ISO 14001 certification, the environmental standard, in all its branch offices. This year its fleet management and its owned fleet will achieve ISO 14001 certification. In February, the Vancouver office was audited and passed the certification without any non-compliance.
The company’s Environmental Management System drives continual improvement toward its targets, which include: Reduce the company’s CO2 index by 20% from the 2010 level by the end of 2015, improve dunnage recycling, improve recycling of web slings, reduce office energy consumption.
By Tom Rohrer
The gauntlet of elimination and seeding match-ups in league and district tournaments can turn late nights into early mornings.
“You don’t eat, you don’t sleep and it’s because all you’re thinking about is giving your team any advantage,” said Black Hills girls basketball coach Tanya Greenfield. “It’s exhausting, but when you win, it’s exciting. Then that keeps you up. It’s just this combination of stress and excitement going through your body at all times.”
Playing three straight loser-out games in the 2A District IV Tournament, Greenfield’s lady Wolves defeated River Ridge 72-65 at Capital High School last Saturday to earn a bid in the regional round of the 16 team state tournament.
The Black Hills girls are joined by a pair of Lacey boys’ teams in the conquest for a state title, as River Ridge and Timberline are also slotted to play in the 2A and 3A regional rounds respectively this weekend.
Timberline, who finished fourth in the 3A District III tournament following back-to-back losses to Lincoln and Foss last weekend, will take on Eastside Catholic Friday night at Bellevue College beginning at 6 p.m. The Hawks came away with a 74-62 over Tumwater in a winner to state, loser out game last weekend at Capital High School, and will travel to Puyallup High on Saturday to take on White River at 8 p.m.
Black Hills also plays in Puyallup Saturday and will take on the White River girls basketball team at 6 p.m.
A victory in the regional round secures a spot in the eight-team, state tournament bracket of their respective.
With a victory, River Ridge and Black Hills would travel to the Yakima Sun Dome next weekend for the 2A boys and girls tournaments while Timberline’s journey points to the Tacoma Dome for the 3A slate.
Timberline earned a bid in the Hardwood Classic last spring by defeating Mercer Island 56-55 before dropping their two match-ups against Franklin and Seattle Prep in the Tacoma Dome.
Greenfield’s Wolves failed to make it out of district a season ago while River Ridge fell in the regional round to Renton 73-57, a victory short of a trip to Yakima.
Now in the same position a year later, River Ridge head coach John Barbee is hoping his young team can rise to the occasion.
“We have nine new varsity players this year,” said Barbee, who lost 2013 League MVP the Year Brad Wallace to graduation last June. “We’ve developed a lot to get to this point. We’re lacking in experience, but these kids are tough and playing hard. We’ll be ready for sure.”
Led by Washington commit and Narrows League 3A MVP Donaven Dorsey, Timberline had high expectations heading into the 2013-14 season. Dealing with injuries and the competitive Narrows League slate, Timberline has piled up 11 losses on the season, equaling their entire total from 2012.
However, much like last season, Timberline has gotten hot at the right time. Following the return of Dorsey from a midseason ankle injury, Timberline has returned to playing high intensity defense and received contributions offensively from junior point guard Brandell Evans and sophomore forward Jarryn Bush.
“We’re playing our best basketball of the season and that’s what you hope for as a coach,” said Timberline second year head coach Allen Thomas. “We definitely have things to work on, but our will to win and overcome adversity has gotten us here.”
Dorsey’s impact at Timberline is mirrored by the play of Black Hills senior forward Sarah McGee, a Division I player bound for Southern Utah University next season. Relying on players the caliber of McGee and Dorsey is a luxury within the charged atmosphere of the playoffs.
“(Dorsey) goes into every game with the mindset that he’s going to do whatever it takes to win. He can do so many things on the court other than score, so we rely on him in a variety of areas,” said Thomas.
“I ask her to do a lot because I know she can,” said Greenfield of McGee. “That’s what you expect out of your D-I player, to do whatever the team needs. She’s done that all season.”
The further a team advances in the playoffs, the more challenging the opponents become. Facing a highly regarded team can be daunting for a young team like River Ridge, requiring Barbee to instill confidence necessary for a victory.
“We made the mistake of intimidating ourselves against Mark Morris (who defeated River Ridge 68-49 in a district playoff game). We said all week, ‘they’re really good, they won’t make mistakes’ and we psyched our guys out,” said Barbee. “Just by being in the position we‘re in now, the guys know they’re one of the best 16 teams in the state. So we’re a little more comfortable now and I don’t think we’re intimidated heading into this contest.”
Though the three teams have had a week to prepare for their respective opponents, it’s difficult to change the makeup of a team this late in the season. For upperclassman-laden teams like Timberline and Black Hills, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“We’re at the point where our guys are what they are,” said Thomas, who played for Barbee at The Evergreen State College. “Nothing that (Eastside Catholic) will do will surprise us and vice versa. These games come down to who wants it the most.”
“Our girls have been together a while. For our seniors, they’ve been on the same team since third grade,” said Greenfield. “So familiarity wise, our girls trust each other and can play as a group. In these high pressure games, you need to fall back on that experience.”
All three coaches had the same comments regarding their opponents, and cited great coaching, fundamental play and strong shooting as characteristics of the two White River squads and Eastside Catholic. Advancing on from this weekend’s round will require the best performance of the season and the coaches have inspirational tactics to put their team in the right frame of mind.
“I’ve been telling the girls to visualize positive outcomes from the game,” noted Greenfield.
“I want the guys to be excited playing in a game like this. State playoff games, that’s why we play and coach basketball. So having fun and being excited, that’s key to a great performance,” Barbee added.
“Effort wise, I’ve been pleased with the team the last month or so and strong effort can win a game even if shots aren’t falling or the calls aren’t going your way,” said Thomas. “I tell my guys if we play with effort, we have a chance to win any game.”
Though the future remains unclear for the three Thurston County basketball teams, there still is a chance for a state championship. At this point of the season, that’s all a team can ask for.
The blue truck logo for A Steve’s Professional Truck Mounted Steam Cleaning features a lion riding shotgun. While the instantly recognizable color is an obvious match to the real trucks you’ll see around town, the lion is remnant of a long-ago Valentine’s Day delivery to his family. When so many passing motorists smiled, waved, and pointed, it quickly became part of the team.
In business since 1982, Steve Short’s experience began when he “started knocking on doors” around town. Since then, the company has grown to include two fully equipped trucks capable of steaming carpets at up to 250 degrees and then vacuuming away the excess water. With his daughter and son-in-law on board as staff members, they “don’t have to turn down a job because within 2-3 days it can be done.”
A sense of community and civic pride leads them to seek new clients primarily via referral. This has built a solid customer base of residential, business, and property management clients seeking maintenance of upholstery, carpet, tile, vinyl, and cement flooring. They take the time to thank customers via Facebook as well as offering promotions that donate money to childhood cancer charities. With Steve’s young granddaughter, Alyssa, a survivor herself, the entire family team participates in fundraising events around the region.
Being a boots-on-the-ground small businessman, Steve is always willing to share his 30+ years of knowledge. He is able to provide quotes over the phone based on client’s descriptions and his personal expertise. Quotes are determined by the service needed and severity of the stain or damage. By providing such individualized care, clients return again and again. Says Ray Fraley, a retired insurance employee, “Steve stands out for his commitment to his business. His integrity is refreshing, and we find him just plain nice to do business with. I can, without hesitation, recommend him for anything, be it business or otherwise. If you have a chance to associate with him, do it! The world needs more like him.”
A Steve’s Professional Truck Mounted Steam Cleaning can be reached at 360-701-9544.
Today I can’t help but focus on milestones. My husband turns 40 this weekend. As a kid, I remember specifically when my parents turned 40. My daughter has already announced our impending “advanced age.” And, in the same moment, one of our ThurstonTalk.com staffers became a grandfather. We celebrated his new title yesterday. Yet, even with these new chapters, I don’t feel much different than I did yesterday. I suppose that’s the maturity part of aging. Oh, and the fact that it’s not MY 40th birthday. Cheers!
Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend.
Submit an event for our calendar here.
ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at email@example.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.
Celebrating the release of their new record!
Dirty Joe and the Brickwalls (Olympia)
By Gail Wood
Job duties for DuPont’s distribution center include boxing, shipping and stocking merchandise to customers. The job pays $12.25 an hour, which Amazon said is about 30 percent higher than the traditional retail store wage.
Amazon’s hiring is timely for DuPont. In October, Intel announced that it will sell its DuPont property and plans to layoff nearly half of its 690 employees at that site.
“We are excited to welcome Amazon as the newest member of our community,” DuPont mayor Michael Grayum said in an Amazon release. “We are focused on attracting new businesses, creating quality jobs and strengthening economic growth.”
Amazon requires applicants for these warehouse jobs to have a high diploma, be able to stand for long periods and to be able to lift 49 pounds. Interested applicants can apply online at workatamazonfulfillment.com. The center is expected to open this spring.
“We haven’t yet announced a time table for opening, but we usually start hiring a few months prior to the opening,” said Kelly Cheeseman, who works in Amazon’s media relations. “We are actively hiring right now. We have hundreds of full-time jobs available at the fulfillment center.”
DuPont is one of Amazon’s six packing and shipping customer centers nationwide that is currently hiring. The online giant is currently hiring for more than 2,500 full-time jobs across the country. Applicants for the DuPont job must have a high school diploma, can lift 49 pounds and can stand for several hours during an 8-hour shift.
“Today, we’re excited to announce 2,500 full-time jobs, bringing new employment opportunities to local communities across the country,” Mike Roth, Amazon’s vice president of North America operations, said in a recent release. “Last year, we hired more than 20,000 people into full-time jobs across our U.S. fulfillment centers.”
Besides DuPont, Amazon’s packing and shipping centers that are hiring are located in Chester, Va., Coffeyville, Kan., Columbia, S.C., Murfreesboro, Tenn., Petersburg, Va.
DuPont is the second warehouse Amazon has built in Pierce County. Two years ago, Amazon opened a distribution center in Sumner that is half the size of DuPont’s. In addition to its hourly wage, Amazon offers a healthcare plan that begins on the first day of employment. Amazon also offers a 401K matching retirement plan and a Career Choice program where the company pays 95 percent of tuition for employees wanting to go back to school after being employed for a year at Amazon.
With the growth at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, DuPont’s population has ballooned, increasing from 592 in 1990 to an estimated 8,808 last year. With the opening of Amazon’s warehouse, the once sleepy little DuPont is going to continue to grow. The new distribution center is reportedly expected to create as many as 900 jobs.
Amazon, a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, reportedly spent over $100 million on the project. The online giant bought the 92 acres in DuPont for $26.1 million.
Amazon has a military recruiting program and last year exceeded its goal to hire 1,200 veterans nationwide and expects to hire veterans again this year. That’s key for DuPont since it neighbors Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“We are excited to increase our presence in the state of Washington with this new fulfillment center,” said Dave Clark, vice president of Amazon global customer fulfillment. “We appreciate the state and local leaders who have helped us make this site in DuPont a reality.”
DuPont has a long partnership with big business. The town was purchased by the DuPont company in 1906 and an explosive plant was built there. Within four years from when the plant opened, DuPont had grown by more than 100 homes. Business continues to shape the city today.
Cheeseman said the number of people hired at the DuPont warehouse will depend on how busy the distribution center is and how many products are bought and shipped. At the center, workers will pack and ship large items like canoes and televisions to customers.
Duke Reality, a commercial real estate developer based in Indiana, built the distribution center in DuPont.
Submitted by The City of Olympia
The City of Olympia’s Saturday Drop-Off Site opens for the season on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The site is located at the City’s Maintenance Center, 1401 Eastside Street, SE. The site is open every Saturday through November 22, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. We accept scrap metal, yard debris and traditional recyclables at the site. The site is open all holiday weekends.
Recycle Non-Appliance and Clean Scrap Metal
Are you cleaning out your barn or garden shed? Have any metal waste, such as tools, fencing, fenders, wheels, posts, tanks, wire, car parts or outdoor furniture? Bring them to Olympia’s Saturday Drop-off Site, where we accept clean, non-appliance scrap metal. There is no fee for scrap metal disposal. Please note the following:
Yard Debris and Waste
Olympia residents may bring grass, garden clippings, prunings, brambles, brush, and branches. Wood is also acceptable as long as it is untreated and unpainted (nails are okay). Rates are assessed on load size and type of material, cash and check accepted. Customers are required to unload their own vehicles, so bring only what you can physically handle.
Do you have extra recycling from a special clean out, a recent move, or simply more than your cart can hold? Olympia garbage customers can now bring their extra recyclables at no charge to the Saturday Drop-off Site:
Visit olympiawa.gov/satdropoff for additional information and resources.
The physics students of today are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, medical doctors, high school teachers and college professors. Even economists, psychologists, writers, and many other future professionals often take an introductory course in physics. A basic knowledge of physics is a key component of a well-rounded education.
Saint Martin’s University boasts of engaging physics classes that encourage students of various disciplines to think differently about problem solving. This approach is attributed to the two physics professors, Dr. Stephen Parker and Dr. John Weiss, who have brought an enthusiastic, active learning and accessible teaching methodology into a challenging course of study.
Saint Martin University’s physics classes consist largely of engineering students as well as those majoring in chemistry or biology. Currently, Saint Martin’s University does not offer a physics minor or major. However, Drs. Parker and Weiss are hoping to change that. Dr. Parker comments that with the addition of Dr. Weiss within the last year, they now have the faculty depth to teach a greater number of higher level physics courses, which he explains “will lead more immediately to a minor in physics. Hopefully as our numbers grow and we start getting more people interested in the wonders of physics, this might lead to an eventual physics major at the university.”
Dr. Parker further explains that Saint Martin’s has a new Engineering Building (Cebula Hall). “We have many people who come to Saint Martin’s to become mechanical and civil engineers, who typically take physics during their freshman year. I, along with my mathematics colleagues, help them learn what it will be like to be in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, and hopefully, give them the foundational knowledge they will need to succeed in their engineering classes. “
“Chemistry and biology majors are also required to take two semesters of introductory physics. Although branches of chemistry and biology can rely more and more on the fundamental principles of physics as they advance in their field, one of the most important lessons I feel I can impart to these students is how to ‘think logically’ about problem solving,” adds Parker. “The ability to figure out what you know and then what you can do with it to solve a problem is a critical skill in science and these skills are honed during their physics classes.”
“One of my goals is for students to become better writers when explaining their solutions,” adds Dr. Weiss. “I hope that they’ll almost reflexively use verbal explanation to support their figures and mathematics.”
The growth in the Saint Martin’s physics department has not only allowed for expansion of more upper-level physics classes, but also physics classes geared towards the non-scientists such as Dr. Weiss’s class on the development of physics and astronomy from the Greeks forward. “Teaching students how to think in a different way is a large part of what a liberal arts education is about. Physics teaches non-scientists to make data-based and quantitative arguments, something that I think is vitally important to our society,” says Dr. Weiss.
Another opportunity for students to “think differently” will occur this spring when Dr. Weiss co-teaches a class traveling to Paris and Florence. He explains, “We’re focusing on the history of science and the connection between science and culture. The trip is aimed at science majors, a group that is often underrepresented in study-abroad trips. We plan to read some of Galileo’s writings, but we’ll also discuss the history of art and the science of food. I think it’ll be an excellent exposure for the science majors to see their disciplines in a broader historical and cultural context.”
For those staying on campus completing upper-level physics courses such as classical and computational mechanics, Dr. Weiss has the students building and modeling trebuchets. He explains, “They’ll be made out of toys, but they’ll be functional and we’ll have a contest to see how accurate they can be and how far they can fling their projectiles.”
Also on campus is the well-attended “Sunday Night Tutoring” for physics where as many as half of the students taking introductory physics show up. It is an opportunity to work on homework with each other and get help from the student tutors or one of the physics professors. Dr. Parker states, “They have been hugely successful, with the students who attend always saying they get a lot out of them. It is one way we help our students through what can often be a difficult subject.”
There is an obvious commitment to the study of physics yet there is an equal commitment to teaching at a small school like Saint Martin’s. Dr. Parker shares, “I love the interaction with the students that the small school environment brings. Being able to see the ‘I finally get it’ on their faces after struggling with some physics concept is one of the reasons I became a teacher in the first place. I wanted to teach where I could make connections with all the students. I love playing intramural sports with the students and being able to get involved with various activities around campus, from the Frisbee Golf Club to International Education Week. It’s the students of Saint Martin’s that makes my job so enjoyable.”
Submitted by Rob Rice Homes
Yes, that’s right. We offer 15 different kitchen counter tops to choose from, all standard selections for us, no additional cost for our buyers. There are many options for kitchen counter tops such as tile, quartz, marble, and concrete but granite continues to be the favored choice of our buyers. The benefits of granite are:
Granite is Affordable. Because of its elegance, availability and durability, granite has become the counter top of choice. That popularity, in turn, has lowered the prices.
Granite is Sanitary. Granite, like any raw natural stone is porous. However, once granite has been polished and sealed, its hard mirror-like glaze makes germ and bacteria penetration impossible. A warm soapy water wash then a clear rinse is all that’s required to keep it gleaming and sanitary.
Granite is Strong. Granite’s diamond-like hardness makes it the strongest counter top material available. Granite is heat resistant and nearly scratch and stain proof. Hot dishes and pots can rest on it. Sharp knives won’t scratch it.
Granite Will Remain Number One in Counter Tops. Granite counter tops are not a trend. Because of its wide range of shades and colors, and capacity to match and complement any cabinet, sink, and appliance material, granite will remain at the top of the list well into the future.
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Submitted by Dr. Anna M. Gunn, O.D. for Clarus Eye Centre
For most people in the work place, it is impossible to go through a day without spending significant time on the computer. I often get asked if long-term computer use can damage the eyes. The good news is that eyestrain from the computer is not associated with any long-term consequences. However, it can be bothersome and uncomfortable.
The following are signs and symptoms of eyestrain:
For most jobs, it is impossible to limit time on the computer. Instead, I recommend focusing on some habits that can help limit the stress placed on your eyes. Think about some of these tips if you have been experiencing any symptoms of eyestrain:
I hope these tips will help alleviate any computer eyestrain. However, if your symptoms still persist, don’t hesitate to get your eyes checked.
By Gale Hemmann
Banjo. Fiddle. Mandolin. Guitar. Whether you are a seasoned bluegrass aficionado or totally new to the genre, you want to hear the music of the Oly Mountain Boys. Serious about music and fun, the Oly Mountain Boys (OMB) are happy to provide you with an introduction to bluegrass, Pacific Northwest style. The five members of this high-octane group share a love for bluegrass music that is infectious, and their musical chops have helped them gain a strong following in Olympia and beyond.
The band invited me to stop by their weekly rehearsal to interview them and hear them play. Arriving at Josh Grice’s home in West Olympia, Grice (fiddle) and Tye Menser (lead vocals and banjo) invited me to sit down and talk before rehearsal started. They shared with me the band’s history, passions, and current projects.
OMB formed in 2008, and they’ve worked a robust performance schedule ever since, as well as producing several live and studio albums. The five musicians come from diverse walks of life (Menser is an attorney by day; Grice works for the Washington State Department of Ecology), but they all bond over their shared love of bluegrass music.
The band members are especially excited to talk about their forthcoming album, White Horse (planned release in spring 2014). A major undertaking and a ground-breaking conceptual album, White Horse tells the life story of a fictional Washingtonian named Charlie McCarver. The album will be accompanied by a booklet with art and writing about Charlie McCarver contributed by local artists. The project aims to honor the historical tradition of bluegrass singing about the lives of everyday people, while in a local Washington setting. To the band’s knowledge, this is the first time such a project has been undertaken, and they are clearly excited. Menser wrote the first three songs for the album over two years ago, and the band will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to support the album in February.
As Menser and Grice talked bluegrass and set up their instruments, the rest of the band members came in for rehearsal: Phil Post (bass, Dobro, vocals), Derek McSwain (mandolin and vocals), and Chris Rutledge (guitar and vocals). An affable and laid-back group, you can immediately see why the five musicians enjoy playing and hanging out together. The band began picking and singing, working on songs from White Horse. They throw it down with style and soul, making you want to get up and dance (even the bluegrass novice will find themselves instinctively tapping their toes).
All of the members of OMB are passionate musicians. They each bring years of musical experience to the table, from an eclectic variety of genres. In addition to playing with OMB, Post (who hails from the Ozark region) also plays with the klezmer band Erev Rav. A classically trained musician, Grice plays violin with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, and Rutledge is a former electric guitar player.
The band has worked hard to get where they are. They have served as regular performers at several local venues over the past six years, including the McMenamins Spar Café, Tugboat Annie’s, and their current spot, the Pig Bar at South Bay BBQ in downtown Olympia. (They play regular Thursday-night spots to a filled-to-the brim house.) While they love these local gigs and consider their local fan base the absolute backbone of their success, they are also excited to have the opportunity for even broader exposure. OMB will be embarking on their first West Coast tour in February 2014, playing several shows in Oregon and California. Though the instrumentation may be complex, their mission is simple: spread the love of bluegrass to as many people as possible.
As Menser notes, bluegrass is a distinctly American musical genre, originating in Appalachia in the 1940’s out of country music roots. It has since been infused with musical influences ranging from rock to jazz, and the genre saw a revival in popularity in the 1990s, drawing many younger musicians into the bluegrass scene. Today there are many different schools of bluegrass, including traditional, progressive, bluegrass gospel, and even “newgrass.”
When asked if they identify with any particular genre of bluegrass, OMB says they eschew traditional labels in favor of their own blend of bluegrass – a little rock ‘n’ roll, and described by the band as everything from “revolutionary bluegrass” to “dreamgrass.” They perform a good number of traditional songs (about half, by Menser’s estimate), but are sure to mix it up at their shows with their original compositions.
When asked about their future vision of the band, Grice and Menser agree that the band wants to keep playing music together for as long as possible. Menser would like to see the band continue getting opportunities to play new audiences and gain exposure; Grice hopes the band will “keep reaching further” with their music. McSwain loves touring, and Rutledge loves playing local shows. Menser noted that in today’s era, the band can write and record music in Olympia, and still get exposure to a broad audience: “There are no limits. We just want to let the band take off.”
The Oly Mountain Boys are quick to extol the many virtues of bluegrass music. Menser says it is “timeless,” because it is social music, can be played anywhere, and unites people around the common human need for music with lyrics about everyday life and a soul-stirring sound. Bluegrass offers room for improvisation along with underlying instrumentation and song structures that are unchanging, making it “a dynamic soundscape,” as Menser notes.
I, for one, am a bluegrass convert.
To support the Oly Mountain Boys, you can visit their website for a list of upcoming shows, sign up for their newsletter, and read more about the White Horse album. You can also join them on Facebook and catch some of their music on YouTube.
From today's inbox:
In the first week of March 2014, Greenpeace and South Sound Rising Tide are organizing a Pacific Northwest road show featuring two of Asia’s foremost experts on the impacts and economics of fossil fuel development in Asia, as well as members of First Nations whose lands are immediately impacted by Transportation and export of US coal to Asia.
When: Wednesday, March 5th 2014
Where: The Evergreen State College Longhouse
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 @ 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sponsors: Evergreen Political Information center (EPIC), Professor Peter Bohmer, in cooperation with South Sound Rising Tide and Greenpeace.
The US anti-coal movement has succeeded in vastly decreasing the amount of coal consumed in the US. However, the rise of US coal exports proposals, and the continuation of devastating mining in places like Appalachia and the Powder River Basin, demonstrate the need for a united movement capable of stopping the coal industry globally. To build a stronger global anti-coal movement, anti-coal advocates around the world need to mutually understand what it means to fight coal in disparate places like China, India, Appalachia, the Powder River Basin, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and elsewhere.
Locally, we know that coal exports can only be stopped once and for all if we build a stronger and more diverse multi-sector, multi-racial, and inclusive movement. By more broadly understanding the scope of destruction that the coal industry is responsible for, as well as the legal, political, and economic factors that support coal’s continued dominance in much of the world, we will strengthen our campaign tactics and messaging to ensure that our movement reaches across borders to wherever coal is mined, transported, and burned.
CHINA: Huang Wei, Greenpeace East Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner, Beijing China Office.
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