Recent local blog posts

Collin Sturdevant Recognized by Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth

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



Submitted by Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



By Gail Wood

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

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

olympia synchronized swimming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia synchronized swimming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympia synchronized swimming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timberline High School Set to Graduate First AVID Students

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



By Esti Izuagbe, Timberline High School intern to ThurstonTalk.

avid timberline high school

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

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

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

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

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

avid timberline high school

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

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

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

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

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

avid timberline high school

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

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

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


Five Fantastic Mother’s Day Hikes around Thurston County

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



By Douglas Scott

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

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

Woodard Bay

hiking olympia

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

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

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

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

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


Millersylvania State Park

olympia hiking

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

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

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

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

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


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

nisqually wildlife refuge

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

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

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

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

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


Paradise and Reflection Lake at Mount Rainier National Park

mount rainier

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

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

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

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

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


Staircase Loop in Olympic National Park

olympia hiking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



mothers day olympia

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

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

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

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

mothers day olympia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olympia Wedding and Event Venue Public Hearing Postponed

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

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

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

Fran’s Chocolate in Georgetown, Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another satisfying adventure!

Categories: Local Environment

Olympia Poetry Grand Slam - with Tara Hardy

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 11:18pm
Event:  Sat, 05/16/2015 - 6:30pm - 9:30pm

Olympia People's Mic, Olympia's only weekly poetry show is holding the biggest baddest production we've ever organized... The 1st [EVER] Olympia Poetry Grand Slam!!!

Nine Olympia poets have earned a spot in this celebration of performance and literature, where they will flex their pens, set fire to the microphone, and stretch their truth-telling to the limit, competing for a place on the 1st ever Olympia team at the National Poetry Slam this August. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

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Author Visit: Stacy Wakefield

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 7:56pm
Event:  Wed, 05/27/2015 - 7:30pm - 8:45pm

Join us at the Olympia Timberland Library for an evening with Stacy Wakefield to enjoy a rare, first-hand look at the largely undocumented New York City squatting movement of the 1990s.

Stacy Wakefield has worked as design director for Index magazine, Artforum, and Bookforum.

Best known for her seminal nonfiction book "Not for Rent"—one of the first to chronicle squatting in the modern era, and an underground classic — Stacy will be talking about her new novel, The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, a riveting coming-of-age story that follows a young woman's experience with squatting NYC buildings in the 1990s.

The Olympia Timberland Library is located at 313 8th Ave SE. All library programs are free and open to the public. This program occurs after library open hours and no other library services will be available. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Steps for Small Business Start-Up

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 5:22pm
Event:  Tue, 05/19/2015 - 4:00pm - 5:30pm Trainers from the Thurston Economic Development Council's Business Resource Center will teach the steps it takes to start a new business. This month’s theme is “Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses That Work and Save You Money.” This program is the second in a series. The next installment will be in logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Author Visit: Kendare Blake

OlyBlog Home Page - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 5:21pm
Event:  Fri, 05/15/2015 - 4:00pm - 5:30pm Bestselling YA author Kendare Blake will talk with teens about how to develop characters and write horror fiction. Afterwards, she’ll lead teens* in individual writing exercises and a Mad Libs-style group free write. Blake, whose first series was the “Anna Dressed in Blood” duology, is currently working on Ungodly, the third book in the “Goddess War” trilogy. Books will be available for purchase and signing. *Although this is a teen-focused event, adults are welcome to attend. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Mother’s Day Giveaway at The Gift Gallery

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:50pm



By Kaylene Fischer for The Gift Gallery LLC

Gift Gallery Mothers Day (2) Not sure what to get mom, your wife, or are you a mom that would like to pamper yourself with a gift? Whichever it may be, The Gift Gallery has an exciting giveaway just for you.

The Gift Gallery LLC in Tumwater is having a drawing for Mother’s Day. They will be giving away TWO gifts. One is a lovely gift basket with beauty products and a candle. The other is a LaTeeDa Oil Candle. You must enter in store, but no need to be present to win. Drawing will be held on Friday, May 8 by 5 p.m.

While you’re there, have a look around to see what is new. The Gift Gallery has two new product lines in. One is a beautiful, bright ceramic line of décor by Drew DeRose from Boston, MA. From seashells, lanterns, candlesticks, boxes, to LED lights, you will be sure to love decorating your home with these items.

Have you heard of Top Shelf Glasses? They are the fun, quirky wine glasses, coffee mugs, pilsner cups, beer mugs and more. They come individually in their own fun gift boxes. They are perfect for bridesmaids, groomsmen, dad, mom, football fans. You name it, Top Shelf has it. You can find these at The Gift Gallery in May.

Two new vendors joined the store in April. Erica Gaspard with Crochet by Erica G., and Carole Heinzman with a variety of handmade items such as; placemats, mom rocks coffee mugkey chains, survival bracelets and more.

We are very excited to introduce you to Carla Belew with her all natural beauty line, Miracle Body Butter. Be sure to visit her on Facebook or her website to learn more, or come in to The Gift Gallery today.

No matter what you’re looking for, what age you’re shopping for, you’re sure to find what you need at The Gift Gallery in Tumwater. Don’t forget they offer free gift baskets. You buy the items from the store and they will provide the basket, stuffing, wrapping and bow for free.

Join us Saturday, May 9 for free Jewelry Appraisals with Randy Caverly and our food tasting from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.

As always you can find us on Facebook, our website and you can now find us on Twitter!



Nature and Adventure Camps Get Children Back to the Great Outdoors This Summer

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:48pm



By Melanie Kallas Ricklefs

thurston solid wasteThe mere mention of summer vacation brings back memories of endless hours playing in the woods, climbing trees, and running wild. We had all the time in the world to explore our natural surroundings, and nobody ever worried that we weren’t spending enough time outside. Though many things have changed over the last few decades, we still want our children to experience the carefree days of summer enjoying all that nature has to offer. Fortunately, there are many outdoor camps being offered in the Olympia area this summer to help stimulate your child’s desire for outdoor adventure.

Nature Nurtures Farm is dedicated to providing today’s children with the same hands-on, exploratory nature experience that was so common for children growing up a few decades ago. Nature Nurtures Farm encompasses 23 acres of pasture and forest in the Delphi Valley of Olympia. They offer a variety of day camps for kids ages 7-12, including farm camps and horse camps. In June, they will offer a camp counselor training for kids ages 13 and up that are interested in becoming volunteer junior camp counselors at the farm.

nature camp olympia

Nature Nurtures offers farm and horse camps on their 23-acre farm in the Delphi Valley. Photo Courtesy: Michelle Thieling.

Each day at farm camp, children explore the woods, play games, and have unstructured play time in the pasture. They also learn how to interact with and care for animals on the farm. Campers get the opportunity to ride horses one day each week, and can feed some of the animals every day.  Nature Nurtures Farm focuses on building social and emotional skills such as compassion and empathy for each other and for animals.

Swallow Circle Summer Camp is located on Circle Hawk Farm, a 16-acre farm comprised of fields, woodland acreage, a stream, and a large pond. They have garden beds and small farm animals for children to care for during their day. They offer day camps for children entering grades K-8 that focus on exploring the farm’s diverse ecosystems through art and play. Their Raven Adventures Camp, for children entering grades 6-9, also incorporates wilderness skills and eco art, and includes an overnight camping trip.

The City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation is offering a wide variety of camps for children of all ages this summer. There are several week-long sailing camps grouped by age and level of experience, including their new Learn to Race Sailing Camps for skilled sailors ages 9 to 18. For a closer look at the water and a daily workout, they offer week-long kayaking camps as well. If your child prefers the beach, the Sand n’ Sun Camp takes children to explore a different beach every day of the week.

Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation also offers camps for those with a taste for the forest environment. The Tread Head Bike Camp gives children ages 12-17 the opportunity to learn trail safety while mountain biking on several Capitol Forest Trails throughout the week. Rock climbing camps are also available, which include climbing at the Warehouse Rock Gym and Lake Cushman. If it is just too hard to choose between all of these amazing options, you may want to look into their variety camps. Each variety camp is one week long and includes a mix of outdoor adventure activities.

nature camp olympia

Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation offers week-long kayaking sessions to explore Puget Sound while getting daily exercise. Photo Courtesy: City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation.

Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation provides overnight camps for children ages 11 and up as well. Camp Cascadia takes children north to Elbow Lake near Mount Baker for a week full of outdoor adventures at Camp Cascades. The Volcanic Adventure, a three day camping trip at Cougar Camp, features trips to Ape Cave and Yale Reservoir to explore varying aspects of Mount St. Helens. Aqua Terra is a week-long adventure day camp, including mountain biking, rock climbing, and kayaking. It culminates in an overnight rafting trip near Mount Adams. To learn more about the day and overnight camps offered through Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation, check out their Experience It! summer camp catalog.

Spending time in the great outdoors is good for the mind, body, and soul. Knowing that you can enjoy nature safely, and be prepared for a survival situation provides peace of mind while on the trail. Wolf College offers a Wilderness Skills Sampler Day Camp at Millersylvania State Park that features different topics each day of the week. Some of the topics include nature awareness, wildlife safety, natural navigation, reading a map and compass, wilderness survival, wild edibles, and traditional fire making. The Skills Sampler Day Camp will be held from August 31 through September 4. You can sign up for individual days, or the whole week. Transportation is available to and from Tumwater Falls Park each day.

If your work schedule, or other commitments have you trapped inside during summer vacation, these nature camps can help you provide an exciting outdoor adventure for your child. It’s time to bring back the carefree days of summer!  Find 30 more summer camps in this article.


Olympia Waldorf School’s Class of 2015 performs “The Water Engine”

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 3:50pm



Submitted by Olympia Waldorf School 

One local Middle School eighth grade has made a challenging selection this year for their class production.  Olympia Waldorf school’s class of 2015 will be performing “The Water Engine” by David Mamet this Friday and Saturday, May 8 and 9, in the Recital Hall on the Evergreen Campus beginning at 7 p.m.  These performances are free to the public.  Donations for their class trip will be accepted, but they are not required.  Seating is on a first come first serve basis.

The story follows an inventor that developed an engine that runs on water.  It tracks his progress and interaction with big business and lawyers as he tries to patent, produce and share his engine with the world. The play takes place in Chicago.  The year is 1934 in and around the Century of Progress Exposition.

The play is presented with a unique theatrical device. It is presented simultaneously as both a radio and live drama. The atmosphere of the setting is that of a live radio broadcast in

Mamet was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glenn Ross in 1984.  He is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company and first drew attention with three off-Broadway plays in 1976;  The Duck Variations, Sexual Perversity in Chicago and American Buffalo.  The Water Engine was written in 1977.  He has also received great acclaim for his work on film and in print.

When Olympia Waldorf secured the rights to produce this play, the representative with Samuel French asked, “you want to do what with eighth graders?”  This may be the youngest cast ever to perform in a play by Mamet.  The class has approached many mature themes this year.  They read both To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Maus by Art Spiegelman.  The Class’ faculty, Martin Lee thought this would be a valuable and fun challenge for his class to pursue and fit well with the other selections.  Director, Jerry Berebitsky, brings over 20 years of theatrical experience to this production.  He is most recognized in Olympia for his large scale puppets seen in the Procession of the Species.  His last creation was a life size giraffe.

The Water Engine is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.


Free Families Matter Fair Focuses on Raising Resilient Children

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 3:34pm



Submitted by The Junior League of Olympia

lacey teen activities

Sixth through tenth graders were polled saying their parents don’t spend enough quality time with them.

Research shows that parents are the number one influence on whether or not their kids make healthy and safe choices.

Yet, in the 2014 Healthy Youth Survey results released last month, many students revealed their parents aren’t talking with them about important topics. Sixth and tenth graders polled also said their parents don’t spend enough quality time with them.

Simple things – like eating meals as a family, doing fun activities together, and telling kids you’re proud of them – are key to developing strong relationships and empowering kids to make healthy decisions. In doing these things, parents also help their children build resilience – the strengths they need to bounce back from adversity and positively meet the challenges of life.

Parents matter. This is the message of a new public awareness campaign launched by the Thurston Council for Children and Youth, in partnership with TOGETHER! and the Thurston Thrives initiative to improve community health and safety.

In line with this theme, on Saturday, May 2, the Junior League of Olympia will host a free Families Matter Fair and Community Summit on Resilient Children, Resilient Communities. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Educational Service District 113 Capital Event Center in Tumwater (6005 Tyee Drive SW). Attendance is free and includes lunch.

The fair gives plenty of opportunities for family fun and also helps parents learn how to have important conversations with kids. It is geared toward parents, grandparents, and anyone who works with or takes care of children. The event will feature:

  • Fun, interactive activities for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens.
  • Free resources and giveaways from 30 local organizations committed to healthy children and families.
  • Parenting workshops with helpful tools and tips on topics including child safety, positive discipline, effective communication, and how to advocate for your child.
olympia parent education class

Candyce Bollinger will lead several workshops at the event.

The schedule includes the following workshops:

11:15 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.

  • Advocating for Your Children with Kim Smith and Jim Smith, South Sound Parent to Parent
  • Effective Communications Strategies With Your Preschoolers with Candyce Bollinger, Parent Educator and Counselor

12:10 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  • Keeping Your Children Safe with expert panel members: Danielle King, Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator; Jennifer Lord, Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor; Lieutenant Jay Mason, Tumwater Police Department; Kim Carroll, Victim Advocate; and Rose Gundersen, Washington Engage Executive Director
  • Effective Communications Strategies With Your School-Aged Child with Candyce Bollinger, Parent Educator and Counselor

1:05 p.m. to 1:55 p.m.

  • Positive Parenting with Shelly Willis, Family Education and Support Services Executive Director
  • Effective Communications Strategies With Your Teen with Candyce Bollinger, Parent Educator and Counselor


More information is on the Junior League of Olympia’s website under the Community Summit tab and on the organization’s Facebook page.

Ten-Year-Old Turns Campbell & Campbell Birthday Into Shoe Drive

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 3:25pm



Submitted by Campbell and Campbell Events 

brody birthday party campbell and campbellFor most ten-year olds, a birthday means cake, games and of course, presents. But Brody Noonan is not most ten-year olds. On February 21, he turned his tenth birthday party at Campbell & Campbell Events in Tenino into a shoe drive for people in need. By the end of the day, he’d collected more than sixty pairs of shoes which his family then donated to his elementary school and to a mission in Chehalis. “He always says he feels good when he can help people,” says his mother Marisa.

This wasn’t the first time for the shoe drive, she says. When he was turning eight, “He saw a commercial or something on television where kids were in need,” she says. “That’s when he originally came up with the idea.” His eighth birthday also became an opportunity to help the community.

What’s striking about his concept is not only its simple effectiveness, but the fact that it’s not connected with any larger organization or giving campaign. “He just came up with it on his own,” says Marisa. “This year he decided that he wanted to do it again.”

Campbell & Campbell was a natural fit for the party, she says, because “we know Mary and had already decided to have it there.” But once it was already booked, Brody shifted the focus from himself to making an impact for local families. “It was an honor to host the event for Brody,” says Mary Adams, the event center’s owner. “He is an exceptional young man.”

Campbell & Campbell Events hosts birthday parties, weddings, and much more. For more information, contact Mary Adams at 360-259-1495.


Alley Oop Gynmastic’s Emily Lackey Earns Vault State Champion

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 3:03pm



Submitted by Alley Oop Gymnastics

Emily and Coach Christy at Regionals 2015.

Emily and Coach Christy at Regionals 2015.

Running full speed, Emily Lackey jumps on the spring board, hits the vault table to propel herself higher in the air in order to execute a Tsukahara vault in a clean pike shape. She is rewarded with the high score of 9.55, which makes her the new Washington State Level 8 Vault Champion!  The smile on her face is enormous, she knows that all of her hard work and dedication have paid off. Her coach can’t be more proud of her.

Emily demonstrates all of the qualities needed in a top-level athlete: she pays attention to detail, is self-disciplined, strives for perfection, and of course has an unwavering work ethic. She is only 12 years old, but she works out at Alley Oop Gymnastics Center 14 hours per week.  Her passion for gymnastics is demonstrated every day in practice as she completes multiple routines on each of the 4 competitive events.

All of the little girls at AOGC look up to Emily; they want to grow up to be just like her. Parents couldn’t ask for a better role model – Emily is polite, kind to others, an excellent student, and an avid reader. Each summer, Emily goes to the gym an extra day in order to help out her younger teammates.

When she’s not at Alley Oop, you can find her cheering on her twin brother, Riley, who does Taekwondo.  She likes to help her mother cook delicious meals for the family and hang out with her friends like any normal twelve year old. Of course, Emily loves to try new things – she recently picked up the art of skateboarding.

Emily (center) as the State Vault Champion

Emily (center) as the State Vault Champion

It is her love for adventure that took Emily and her teammate Keira Lathrop to Montana last year to compete in our Region’s Championships. Last year she took the Bronze Medal on vault; this year she was awarded the Silver.

The Tacoma Convention Center hosted the competition this year, where teams from Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and even Hawaii competed with Washington’s top gymnasts. Emily was rock solid during the competition, getting the high score of 9.5 on the uneven bars and vault. Rock-solid on the balance beam, she stuck her dismount. Her floor routine music deems her ‘Unstoppable.’ There are big things in store for this tiny gymnast.

Clipper Hoopster Sanders Signs with Division II Regis University

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 12:55pm



Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College

Elijah Sanders’ tenacity on the basketball court led the Clippers to some great moments in his South Puget Sound Community College hoops career. Now the outgoing sophomore is seeing it pay off individually too, as Sanders signed his national letter of intent with Denver’s Regis University. Sanders officially signed on April 23. He will attend Regis on a full athletic scholarship.

Sanders, a member of the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) West Region All-Defensive Team this year, led the Clippers in scoring (13.8 points per game), rebounding (7.2 boards per game) and blocks (1.96 per game; second overall in the NWAC). Now he’s excited to continue his collegiate career at Regis, a NCAA Division II school under first-year coach Brady Bergeson (formerly of Western Oregon University).

“I think I am a perfect fit for the program and Regis is a great fit for me,” Sanders said of his new destination. “I love the city of Denver and enjoyed my time with coach Bergeson during my visit. I knew before I got on the plane to come home that Regis is where I want to be.”

SPSCC Athletic Director and Men’s Basketball Coach Aaron Landon is not at all surprised to see Sanders’ continued success.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Elijah,” Landon said. “Regis is a great school, and he’s playing for one of the brightest young coaches in the country. Elijah is a great example of what our level is all about: he set a goal, worked hard, kept his focus through the ups and downs and now he leaves our program with an associate’s degree and a scholarship to continue his basketball career and complete his bachelor’s.”

Sanders said he thanks all those who supported him during his time as a Clipper.

“I came to SPSCC because I wanted to be a part of building this program with the coaching staff and I wanted to play in my hometown,” the Timberline High School graduate said. “I have been taking classes here since Running Start during my senior year of high school. The people at SPSCC have always been supportive of me. I owe a lot of thanks to the college for helping me reach my goal of transferring and continuing my career at a school I love. I owe everything to my mom, grandma and the rest of my family for all the support and love. My mom was the motivating factor in me pursuing a college education.”


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 11:16am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton

nelson Adopt a Pet Dog of the WeekThis sweetheart is Nelson, a male Boxer mix.  He loves to work for treats and knows many commands. Nelson is a healthy young boy who loves to romp and play as well as accompany you on long walks or play time in the back yard. He would do OK with older kids but smaller kids would not be appropriate because of Nelson’s size and level of energy.

Nelson has lived with other dogs and gets along well with dogs his size but does not have an appreciation for the small dogs. He would do well either by himself or living with a buddy dog with his same level of energy and size. We do not know how he would do with a cat in the family. A secure fenced yard is a must for this inquisitive boy.

We have lots of great dogs and always need volunteers to help them.  Visit our website at or contact Adopt-A-Pet, on Jensen Road in Shelton, at or contact us at or (360) 432-3091.

Kidical Mass: Local Families Practice Bike Safety Together

Thurston Talk - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 10:38am



By Kelli Samson

edge fitness logoIt’s long been known that simply learning about something won’t make us good at it. It’s the hours and hours logged in practice that make all the difference. With that being the case, many parents across Thurston County are raising some confident, safe bicyclists thanks in part to the opportunities afforded by our local chapter of Kidical Mass.

Kidical Mass of Thurston County is “a fun, relaxed, family bike ride on our streets, following the rules of the road and exploring the neighborhood.” Rides usually take place the second Sunday of each month, beginning at a local elementary school and ending somewhere enticing to children, like a local park. Before departure, there is a short lesson in bike safety. Families then ride together in bike lanes or on the roads, depending on the route.

bike riding olympia

A typical Kidical Mass ride begins at a local school parking lot and ends at a park. Photo credit: Jessica Gould.

Kidical Mass went on its inaugural ride in 2008 in Eugene, Oregon. Since then, it’s taken hold in literally dozens of cities across North America, from Florida to Alberta, Canada. The purpose revolves around educating kids and their families about bike safety, sure, but it also is tied to getting families outside and tying them more tightly to their communities.

Beginning last summer, Kidical Mass bike rides have been organized and offered in Thurston County as part of Intercity Transit’s youth program, Walk N Roll. Heading up the efforts is Jessica Gould, the youth program’s curriculum assistant and the matriarch of a family who bikes to school and work, rain or shine.

“We all bike by choice. We have a car, but it’s better for us, exercise-wise, to bike. Our fifth-grader bikes to school, but our seventh grader now chooses to walk instead,” explains Gould.

It was at a conference last summer when Gould first learned of Kidical Mass’s success in the Eugene area. She was inspired by the group’s founder, Shane Macroades, and realized it was just what Olympia families needed. Gould returned from her conference and organized Thurston County’s first Kidical Mass ride last July.

 Jessica Gould.

A movement that began in Eugene, Oregon, Kidical Mass is taking the nation and continent by storm. Photo credit: Jessica Gould.

Gould is present at each of the free monthly rides, usually with at least one of her two children along. “We’ve learned that the rides need to have a fun destination and that we always need to have a treat at the end,” smiles Gould. Their biggest turnout has been a group of about 25.

“One of the goals is to encourage those that already ride bikes to ride with their kids,” she explains. “We also want to inspire those that haven’t ridden but are curious and want to try a street group ride to come on out and be with a supportive group.”

For May’s monthly ride, Kidical Mass is switching the ride from its usual slot (the second Sunday of the month) to Saturday, May 9, in light of Mother’s Day. Families are to meet at the Lincoln Elementary School playground (213 21st Ave. SE, Olympia) at 2:00 p.m. with bikes and helmets. “It’s casual,” assures Gould.

Making it even more exciting, this Saturday’s ride coincides with the Kona bicycle giveaway sponsored each month by the Capital Bicycling Club. A bicycle will be given away to a lucky child who is present at the ride.

bike ride olympia

Catch Kidical Mass on the second Sunday of each month (except May when it moves to Saturday due to Mother’s Day). Photo credit: Jessica Gould.

Young rider Liam Wilson won the monthly bicycle giveaway at a ride earlier this year. Says mom Camille Wilson, “I love what they’re doing and want to help spread the word.”

Thurston County’s Kidical Mass will begin branching out to other areas of the county this summer, beginning with their July 12 ride that starts at Wonderwood Park.

To stay alerted about upcoming rides, simply follow Kidical Mass Thurston County on Facebook or sign up for the email newsletter by emailing Jessica Gould at To learn more about Kidical Mass in general, visit their website:

Don’t forget that May is the Bicycle Commuter Contest month, put on by Intercity Transit. You can register online at http://www.bccblog.comhttp// There is a Kidical Mass bike commuter team. Registration comes with excellent coupons for area bike shops.


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