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Kim Dinsmore – A Life of Service

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:15am



sunset air“Help others and give something back.  I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger.  That sentiment embodies the life—and work—of Kim Dinsmore, Executive Vice President of Lacey’s Sunset Air.

Born into a military family, Kim Dinsmore settled in Olympia when his Army father retired here.  He joined the Sunset Air team in 1977 as employee #7.  Over the past 38 years, he “learned the business from the ground up. I swept floors, ordered material, took old furnace systems to the dump, followed [company founder] Peter Fluetsch like a puppy dog to job sites, took classes on heating and cooling, learned how to bid and design heating and cooling systems and learned how to sell.”

sunset air

Kim Dinsmore is a natural treasure in our region.

“I did this until about 1985 when Peter ask me to step up and oversee the commercial side of our business,” explained Dinsmore. “Brian was doing more of the service side and the residential side by that time, so we really started to grow our commercial business.

Since 1985, Dinsmore has continued on the commercial side of Sunset Air, serving as the Executive Vice President. “Like any good company you always do whatever it takes to succeed,” says Dinsmore. “I still work some in residential and in service as well as helping to grow our engineering and full mechanical capabilities.”

His passion for the company and its mission is strong, even after almost 40 years.  As he explains, “One of the cultures I am most proud of at Sunset Air is the importance we place on people’s families.  I was always able to attend my kid’s sporting events, music concerts etc.  We make a point of making sure employee’s families are a top priority.  Sunset Air has grown to become one of the premier energy services companies in South Western Washington and that’s something I am very proud to have been a part of.”

The Sunset Air mindset has carried over into Dinsmore’s recreational life as well.  “Our founder, Peter Fluetsch, instilled in many of his employees the need to give back to the community you live in.  It is a foundation of everything he is about and he wanted all of us to get involved,” remembers Dinsmore.

“One of his favorite things to say was ‘you take care of your community and your community will take care of you.’  Rotary’s motto is ‘service above self.’  My dad was also a member of the downtown Olympia Club.  This is the original Rotary Club in Thurston County, founded in 1921. One thing lead to another and I was ask to be on the Board of the Club, and a few years later elected to be President for the 2002-2003 year.  My father was the President in 77-78 and my grandfather was President in 40-41. I am the only third generation Rotary President in the Olympia Club.”

sunset air

Dinsmore taught skiing with the Olympia Ski School for more than 20 years.

On November 22, the nine Rotary Clubs of Thurston County will host the 13th annual Cool Jazz Clean Water event.  This fundraiser benefits Rotary clean water initiatives around the world, youth leadership training, and the purchase and repair of over 500 musical instruments for local school music programs.  This year’s festival will begin by hosting 12 Local High School and Middle School bands at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The musical portion of the day is a free family event.  That evening, the Center will transform into a wine tasting event where for $50 guests will receive a complimentary wine glass, 10 samples from over 70 wine selections and Three Magnets Brewery, and the chance to bid on silent auction wines donated by Rotarians. Music in the evening is provided by local jazz great Syd Potter and his Tentette.

Monies raised by the event will be divided three ways.  Explains Dinsmore, “40% of the proceeds go to a Rotary Clean Water project.  Over the past 12 years, Rotarians have finished three major water projects – two in Malawi Africa and one in Kenya – that are now providing clean water to over 30,000 residents of those countries.  This year’s project will be in Honduras.”

“Rotary’s water mission is to fund projects that are sustainable, educational, and provide a sanitation element,” continues Dinsmore. “The other 40% of the proceeds is used to buy new and refurbished musical instruments for local school districts.  North Thurston, Tumwater, Rochester, and Olympia Schools have received over 400 instruments the last 12 years that get checked out to students who otherwise may not be able to afford an instrument.”

sunset air

Kim and his wife Cindy, a retired Capital High School music teacher, are extremely active in our community.

Dinsmore explains that the final 20% goes to fund a ‘Youth Summit.’  “This one day event is a day of seminars designed to help non-profits that work with youth.  Participants are able to learn things like nutrition, how to work with at risk youth, how to learn to identify kids that may be facing abuse, listening techniques and so on.”

Dinsmore has also served the past 10 years on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County “It’s a great organization that I really believe in,” he states.

Gandhi once said that “service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.”

Kim Dinsmore is a man of tremendous service but also tremendous joy.  His passionate love of our region, its people, and hands-on service projects have far-reaching results which have made the world a better place.


Waste Reduction Feedback Requested by Thurston County Solid Waste

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:59am



Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste

waste reduction habits

The waste reduction team at Thurston County Solid Waste is gathering your input on waste habits and perception.

Thurston County Solid Waste wants to hear from the community on two very important topics.

The first topic is the issue of wasted food.  As a nation, we waste 40% of all food produced.  This has significant financial, environmental and social impacts – there is no good side.  The County is working on reducing this waste through three projects, with more planned.   Solid Waste has been assisting local schools with reducing lunchroom waste for several years, even providing free milk machines and durable cups.

A very successful grant project with Thurston County Food Bank provided needed infrastructure to enable the organization to increase donations of prepared food from caterers, stores, schools, and restaurants.  Earlier this year, Solid Waste launched a residential awareness campaign aimed at helping residents.  “The average American throws out 25% of the food they buy,” according to Terri Thomas, with Thurston Solid Waste. “However, most people don’t realize it because it happens here and there, bit by bit.”  In order to fine tune and expand their efforts, the waste reduction team wants information on waste habits and perception.  They have developed a quick online survey that can be found at

While you are at the website, you can learn about an exciting radio contest, and of course, how to reduce the food you waste.   Since a family of four throws out about $1600 a year in wasted food, it’s worth the time to take a look.

plastic bag ban

Thurston County Solid Waste wants your input on the plastic bag ban.

The second topic focuses on the bag ordinances that took effect July 1 in the cities of Tumwater, Olympia and Lacey, and the unincorporated areas of Thurston County. “Now that the community has adjusted a bit, it’s important that we check in with customers and retailers to get a good picture of how it’s working after four months,” said Thomas.  The new law prohibits most retailers from providing single-use plastic carryout bags. It also requires them to charge a minimum of five cents for large paper bags, which the stores keep. The fee helps offset the higher cost of paper bags and acts as an incentive for customers to bring reusable bags. Customers using EBT and other assistance programs are exempt from the charge.

The two online plastic bag surveys—one for retailers and one for customers—are available at Retailers can also download signs at the “Resources for Retailers” link on the site, and post in their stores to encourage customers to take the survey. To be notified when the status report on the plastic bag ordinances is released, the community can sign up for the online newsletter while at the site.

For more information about waste reduction programs, or these surveys, contact Terri Thomas at  or (360) 867-2279.


Turkey Bowling Strikes Again at Bayview Thriftway

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 5:52am



By Kathryn Millhorn

turkey bowling

Contestants of all ages are welcome to try their luck at Bayview’s 6th annual Turkey Bowling day.

As kids, we all heard it.  As parents, we’ve all said it.  ‘Don’t play with your food!’  Well on November 22, the folks at Olympia’s Bayview Thriftway bend that rule for their annual bout of turkey bowling.

This will be the event’s sixth year and the prizes are as tasty as ever.  Stormans Marketing Manager Carly Brettmann encourages competitive souls young and old to “bring in a non-perishable food item for the Thurston County Food Bank for a chance to win a free turkey if you bowl a strike down our frozen foods aisle.  For all those lucky enough to bowl a spare, you get a free bag of groceries.”

“All ages love this festive event,” adds Brettmann.

Highlights from last year’s event are available as an online video so you can practice warming up those poultry-hurling muscles.  Because the activity is open to contestants of all ages, the size of the bowling bird varies to give everyone a fighting chance at a free meal.

The Thurston County Food Bank operates mobile food banks, distributes weekend food supplies to school children, supports school garden projects, and provides food and technical support to small, rural food banks around our area.  A list of locations is available on their website as well as information on how volunteer your time, money, or surplus food.

Events like this spotlight the need for continued community support.  The Food Bank reported that in 2013 they saw more than 41,000 individual clients representing almost 14,000 households in our area.  But thanks to their amazing team of volunteers who donated almost 48,000 hours of time, and supply drives like Bayview’s Turkey Bowling, these families could put food on their tables.

turkey bowling

Bowlers who score a strike will win a free turkey, a spare sends you home with a free bag of groceries.

The Turkey Bowling event fills up quickly so make sure to arrive early.  While there, enjoy lunch with their spectacular upstairs views (and amazing clam chowder) or shop for both necessities and splurges alike.  They will be offering Black Friday Deals on November 28 so make your list and check it twice…and don’t forget plenty of reusable shopping bags.

Brettmann recalls that last year’s event was attended by nearly 100 people who brought enough canned food to fill two shopping carts to the brim.  Let’s make this year even better and possibly earn a free Thanksgiving turkey on the way.

Turkey Bowling takes place at Bayview Thriftway, located at 516 West 4th Street.  Call the store at 360-352-4897 with any questions or for additional details.

May the best bird bowler win!


World Toilet Day: A Little Potty Humor

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 5:51am



Submitted by WET Science Center

world toilet day“Last holiday, I was given Sudoku toilet paper – it’s useless. You can only fill it in with number ones and number twos!” Cue laughter and groans.

This is comedian Bec Hill’s gag from the first ever World Toilet Day: It’s No Joke! Comedy Festival. The festival features British comedians delivering their best one-liner toilet humor – and it’s a gas. But why all the potty talk? The festival is raising awareness about World Toilet Day, an international holiday founded in 2001 by a Singaporean man named Jack Sim, who is better known by his nickname: Mr. Toilet. The moniker was given to Sim for his work on global sanitation through his non-profit, the World Toilet Organization, and he has adopted it with pride. World Toilet Day, formally recognized by the UN in 2013, is considered an international day of awareness for global sanitation issues, and it all started with Mr. Toilet.

You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Do we really need to honor toilets in the same way we honor moms, dads, Martin Luther King Jr., and our founding presidents?” Well, it turns out we do. Many jokes are made at the expense of World Toilet Day, a theme that it has capitalized on with slogans like “#WeCan’tWait” and “Talk S— for a Week.” Still, jokes aside, there are some major issues that the holiday hopes to promote.

Sim’s primary concern, and the reason he started World Toilet Day, is the deadly reality of poor sanitation and untreated sewage. When Mr. Toilet explains the importance of toilets, he uses a metaphor and some colorful language. “S— is like fire. When you manage it properly, the fire can cook your meal,” he says, making reference to using waste as fertilizer. “But if you don’t manage it, then it will burn down your house.”

world toilet dayAccording to UN Water, 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to improved sanitation, leading to waterborne illnesses and polluted drinking water. Furthermore, 1 billion people still defecate in the open, causing similar health problems, but also increasing the risk of assault and sexual violence against women. The connection between open defecation and violence against women may not be immediately apparent, but consider that when traveling to and from public toilets, or venturing from their homes to openly defecate (typically under the cover of darkness), women are vulnerable to attack. For example, you may remember the two young girls from Uttar Pradesh, India, who were raped and murdered this year. They were looking for a toilet. Due to the relationship between toilets and gender violence, this year’s 14th Annual World Toilet Day is specifically focused on equality, dignity, and women’s health and wellbeing.

So, how will you celebrate World Toilet Day? For this holiday you don’t have to cook breakfast in bed for anyone, or wait in soul-crushing lines at department stores. Your task is much simpler: become informed and raise awareness. Sites like,, and (founded by Matt Damon) are all great places to start. In fact, speaking of Matt Damon, if informing yourself doesn’t seem radical enough, you can join his toilet strike. In a mock press conference last year, Matt Damon declared, “Until this issue [of clean water access] is resolved, I will not go to the bathroom.”

Of course, he was kidding. But, if jokes can be used effectively to raise awareness about sanitation issues and World Toilet Day, then why not spread a little toilet humor?


Stalnik Scores a Hat Trick But Wild Comeback Dooms Oly Town Artesians

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:42pm



Submitted by Oly Town Artesians

oly town fcMatt Stalnik recorded a hat trick for the Oly Town Artesians in a hard fought preseason friendly at Olympia Indoor Soccer on Sunday afternoon but Seattle Sporting FC completed a five goal fourth quarter when Jordan Correa scored a power play goal with just eight seconds left on the clock to knock off the Artesians 6-5.

The Artesians opened up the scoring right away when Stalnik scored the first of his three goals just 45 seconds into the game. Justin La Torre gave Oly a two goal lead with 2:30 left in the second quarter and the first 15 minutes ended with the Artesians up 2-0.

Stalnik again drove one home early in the second quarter to give the Artesians a 3-0 lead. But four minute later Seattle Sporting got on the board thanks to Esteban Reyes and the first half came to an end with Oly on top 3-1.

The Artesians continued to keep Seattle Sporting off of the board in the third quarter and the only player to break through for either team was Stalnik, who finished off his hat trick with a goal at the 10:38 mark. Oly took a 4-1 lead into the fourth quarter and looked to be in great shape to pick up their first franchise win.

oly town fcBut penalties would come back to haunt the Artesians in the final 15 minutes. Jordan Correa started off the fourth quarter scoring with a power play goal to cut the Artesians lead to 4-2. Goals from James Postma and Corey Hendrickson followed and tied the game at 4-4 before Postma added another on a free kick to give Sporting Seattle the 5-4 lead with three minutes left.

Brady Espinoza poked a ball past Seattle keeper Jeff Renslow with 2:29 to play to get the Artesians level. But with less than two minutes left on the clock, Oly was shown a blue card to put Seattle one man up and on the power play. The Artesians looked like they would kill it off and get out with a hard fought draw but Correa sliced one past Oly keeper Mauricio Sanchez with just eight seconds left and Seattle escaped with a 6-5 friendly win.

The Oly Town Artesians open up Western Indoor Soccer League play when they host the Tacoma Stars on Saturday, November 22nd at 6:00 p.m. at Olympia Indoor Soccer. The Stars were 4-3 victors over Bellingham United in their WISL debut on Saturday night. Tickets for the game are $7 in advance and are available at or by calling (360) 561-7252 for local delivery. Tickets will be available at the door and are $8 for adults and children 13 and over, $5 for children ages 5-12. Kids under five years old are free.

WDFW Approves Pre-holiday Razor Clam Dig Starting November 20

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 2:25pm



Submitted by The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

razor clam digDiggers will have plenty of opportunity to put razor clams on the Thanksgiving table during a week-long dig that begins November 20.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the opening, which runs through November 26, after marine toxin test results showed the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed before noon.

“Diggers can fill their buckets right up until the holiday,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

Ayres noted that diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig under state law. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

WDFW has razor clam recipes as well as advice on digging and cleaning clams on its webpage.

Digging days and evening tides during the upcoming opening are:

  • Nov. 20, Thursday; 5:06 p.m., 0.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Nov. 21, Friday; 5:45 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Nov. 22, Saturday; 6:24 p.m., -0.8 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • Nov. 23, Sunday; 7:05 p.m., -1.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Nov. 24, Monday; 7:47 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Nov. 25, Tuesday; 8:32 p.m., -0.9 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Nov. 26, Wednesday; 9:19 p.m., -0.5 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

The best results typically occur one to two hours before low tide, Ayres said.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website and from license vendors around the state.

WDFW also has proposed another dig in early December, tentatively set to begin Dec. 3 if marine toxin tests are favorable. That dig is tentatively scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

  • Dec. 3, Wednesday; 4:14 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Dec. 4, Thursday; 5:02 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Dec. 5, Friday; 5:45 p.m., -0.9 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 6, Saturday; 6:26 p.m., -1.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • Dec. 7, Sunday; 7:05 p.m., -0.9 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 8, Monday; 7:44 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Dec. 9, Tuesday; 8:21 pm, -0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

A WDFW video, which demonstrates how to teach your kids to harvest razor clams, is available online.  


Dylan Kuehl: Healing the World and Living the Dream through Music

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:57am



By Leslie Merchant

creative officeWhat’s your dream? Are you living it today? If you are like me, you probably have it stored up on a shelf in your “someday” closet. I recently met a young man named Dylan Kuehl who lives his dreams every day. Dylan is 31-years-old, and a quick look at his resume makes me feel like I have some serious catching up to do.  Published artist, motivational speaker, visual and performing arts company owner – these are some of the hats Dylan wears every day. He also wears an advocate’s hat because Dylan happens to have Down syndrome.

“My mother taught me early in life not to be afraid to reach for my dreams and celebrate my abilities,” says Dylan in a YouTube video he created with members of his YES team. YES teams are Dylan’s secret to success. He explains, “I began building YES teams of support, surrounding myself with special people who believe in me.”

dylan kuehl

Dylan Kuehl is the lead drummer in Living the Dream Band.

One of these YES teams helped Dylan realize his dream of being a drummer in a band. Dylan received his first drum set at age three and began taking private lessons at age 11. His teacher told him that he was good enough to be in a band. “Dylan never let go of that concept,” says Terri Rose, Dylan’s mother. She says, “Those people that say ‘yes’ at the right time, that’s what this is all about.” Rose and Dylan found Mark O’Brien, owner and instructor of Rhythm Fire School of Music and Performance, and he began to mentor Dylan. “I knew immediately that he had skills as a drummer,” says O’Brien.

The death of iconic pop star Michael Jackson in 2011 prompted Dylan to action. O’Brien says that Dylan was relentless in his pursuit of a band to carry on Michael Jackson’s legacy and heal the world with music. O’Brien was so impressed with Dylan’s ambition and vision that he joined Dylan’s YES team. And the Jackson Memory Band was born.

The band began as a vehicle to spread Jackson’s music and message, but Dylan and his YES team quickly saw the greater opportunity it provided. Rose explains that their dreams of engaging the community to support a common interest (music and inclusion) had arrived in the form of the band. “When the group came together they didn’t realize the connections they had with people with special needs. Their lives are touched with people with disability, so it’s not hard to see it everywhere.”

dylan kuehl

Dylan Kuehl enjoys spreading Michael Jackson’s music.

She explains that several band members had autism and Down syndrome in their own families. Dylan is the only person with a disability in the band. Rose calls the four principal members the “Core Four.” They include two local high school singers, Kailey Schlenz and Karli Brown, Mark O’Brien on keyboard and guitar, and Dylan on drums. Current band members also include percussionist Manfred O’Brien and bass player Don Parr. The band looks for other community members to join them for performances. This has been the catalyst in spreading the band’s mission to bring positive awareness for people with disabilities and to advocate for the inclusion of all people in all facets of life.

The band and its message have been such a success that they have changed their name to reflect their progress. Now known as Living the Dream Band, they hold fundraisers and concerts to support their tour and mission. At each stop they always give a percentage of collected donations to local disability groups to encourage others to follow their dreams. Rose says, “We would like to go to other communities and countries and take our example outside of our own backyard.” To that effect, they have already successfully toured throughout the state, opened for the Special Olympics, and toured in Maui.

Gini Koshelnik-Turner is living her dream. She is a 24- year-old singer also living with Down syndrome. Gina is going to be the lead singer for the band’s upcoming Music Extravaganza and Dinner Auction later this month. She is an example of the band’s mission to prove that Down syndrome and other disabilities are not the obstacles they are often perceived to be.

On Friday, November 21, the Living the Dream Band along with Billy Farmer and the Cavaliers will hold a benefit dinner and auction at Indian Summer Golf & Country Club at 6:00 p.m. Proceeds will go to operational expenses and to local non-profit Kokua Services, which provides supportive services to citizens with special needs. Tickets are $35 per person.

For tickets or more information on Living the Dream Band, please contact Terri Rose at healtheworldtour or call 360-701-9880.


Trista Nesbit-Evans’ Red Velvet Bakery Hits Your Sweet Spot

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:57am



By Kelli Samson

putnam lieb logoA couple of years ago, the state legalized the operation of cottage bakeries, setting forth a long-awaited host of guidelines, rules, and regulations. There were hundreds of us who couldn’t wait to get certified to sell goodies out of our own kitchens, but very few bakers saw the entire intimidating process through.

Thankfully, Tumwater High School alumnus Trista Nesbit-Evans, proprietess of Olympia’s Red Velvet Bakery, became one of approximately twenty or so in the state who has jumped through all of the hoops. She made her dream a reality with the certification of her home bakery.

red velvet bakery

Trista Nesbit-Evans is a Tumwater native.

She’s been satisfying many dessert lovers’ cravings across Thurston County ever since.

Trista herself has always had a sweet tooth.

She grew up baking with her grandmother and her mother in Tumwater. “Everything I know I pretty much learned from my mom. My house was the place to be after school because we had all the goodies,” recalls Trista. “We’d bake pies and use the apples from the trees out in the yard. We’d pick berries together and make berry pies and jams. I grew up picking recipes out of the Betty Crocker cookbook and trying them out.”

When she became a mother (her kids are 11-year-old son Gage, eight-year-old daughter Andin, and six-month-old son Nash), she wanted her kids to have those same fond memories that can only be made in the kitchen.

“I always have cooked with my kids because I think it’s a valuable thing for them to learn. It’s a little bit of a lost art. I want them to have those skills as they get older so they can be self-sufficient and not live out of the freezer section at the grocery store,” explains Trista.

She also found that the kitchen was a place for her to unleash her creativity. “When I get stressed, I bake. There’s something comforting about it,” she adds.

She began her baking career when her two older children were both in elementary school. “When I finally had some extra time on my hands, it seemed like the right time to pursue my dream,” says Trista.

red velvet bakery

Trista is the baker you need for your next Seahawks game-day treats.

She started with simply giving her abundance of treats away to friends and family. “I unloaded all of my goods on everybody because they loved them,” she laughs. “My friends and family have always been so supportive. Sharing baked goods brings happiness to everyone and sharing my gift brings me happiness.”

When the opportunity arose to become a licensed cottage bakery, she jumped in with both feet. Beginning her career at home this way gives her the flexibility to still be active at her older children’s school and to care for baby Nash.

Becoming licensed to sell baked goods from your home is no small accomplishment. In addition to the home kitchen meeting incredibly high standards set by the state’s Department of Agriculture, all recipes must have a certain degree of shelf stability. For example, nothing can be sold that needs refrigeration. The requirements are actually more stringent than they are for storefronts selling baked goods.

In order to meet these guidelines, Trista spent hundreds of hours pouring over the recipes she had already perfected for her family and friends. She had to figure out ways to tweak the ratios of the ingredients found in her over two-hundred time-honored classics in order to satisfy the regulations.

She desired to set her bakery apart from others with a name that evokes images of rich, classy confections. That is how she landed upon the apropos moniker Red Velvet Bakery when she opened a little over a year ago. “I also have a whole line of red velvet items that are very popular,” adds Trista.

red velvet bakery

The most popular item on the Red Velvet Bakery’s menu? It’s the cake version of a peanut butter cup.

The best part? “My goodies are fresh, homemade, and preservative-free,” she explains. She uses local and organic ingredients when she can.

The Red Velvet Bakery’s website will make anyone’s sweet tooth swoon. Her menu boasts everything from pies to breads, cupcakes to scones, and just about everything you can dream of in between. If you see something you like, you should place your order at least a week in advance of your event.

Her chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting is her number-one seller. “It’s actually gone for $500 at an auction before,” she shares.

And if you’re gluten-free? No problem. She’s got a section on her menu for those folks, too.

With the holidays coming up, Trista is starting her plans for her highly-coveted cookie platters. These boast a mouth-watering assortment of treats and are always a big hit. They’re perfect for teachers, co-workers, and hungry family members.

Meanwhile, Trista has visions of a storefront dancing in her head. With the support of her community, it’s surely just a matter of time.

You can visit the Red Velvet Bakery online at or via Facebook.  To place an order, contact Trista at (360) 556-1468 or email her at


North Thurston High School Students In Motion for an Avalanche of Canned Food

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:57am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

hanson motors sponsorBrady Olson’s Advanced Placement Government & Politics students at North Thurston High School already have schedules filled with classes, sports, jobs and after school activities, but they’ve taken on an extra challenge.

The three classes of NTHS seniors have set an epic goal to collect over 12,000 cans of food for the Thurston County Food Bank before school closes in December for winter break. That’s more than enough to fill a garage. It’s more than enough to fill a few empty pantries.

north thurston high school

Tyler Reece leads the AP Government classes at North Thurston High School in organizing their ambitious food drive.

Over thirty students met after school for their first organizational session. Tyler Reece stepped up as facilitator. Reece has already been accepted at the United States Military Academy West Point where he will likely be studying chemistry. He is following in the footsteps of his parents.  His father also attended West Point and his mother also served in the Army.

“I want to see how a group of students can come together to make a difference,” he said grinning. It’s an opportunity to practice his leadership skills, suggested Mr. Olson, who was also present for the after school meeting. In short order, jobs were enumerated and assignments taken as the enthusiasm continued to build.

Over the course of the next month, please keep your eyes and hearts open to this thoughtful group of students. They’ll be standing in the damp breezy weather in front of grocery stores and canvassing Lacey neighborhoods for your extra cans of food. All the food collected heads directly to our local food bank.

The entire North Thurston High School will be participating in the canned food collection, but Mr. Olson’s students plan to raise the stakes, in fact, surpassing all previous achievements. Four years ago, his AP seniors exceeded their goal of 10,000 cans by over a thousand. That’s a lot of cans.

During the food drive, other local high schools will also be collecting for the food drive. According to Carol Vannerson, who has volunteered at the downtown food back for more than five years, this school food drive is second in volume only to the postal carriers’ drive. She stressed that the food bank truly depends on these donations.

Here is a list from the Food Bank of more nutritious and desirable possibilities. Do keep the ramen to yourself.

  • High protein food such as canned chili, peanut butter, beans, or canned meat
  • Pasta and macaroni and cheese
  • Canned fruit and vegetables
  • Soup
  • Baby Food and formula
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that store well in a refrigerator. Home-grown produce is most welcome. Please see the produce page for more details.
north thurston canned food drive

Seniors work together on their own time to map out strategies and plans for the food drive.

If you are interested in learning more about everything that happens at the food bank or want to become a volunteer, click here.

Focus your attention on these young people who going out of their way to help their community. Many of the students know other students who are regular beneficiaries of the food bank. Did you know that approximately half of the food distributed is handed to individuals who are 16 years old or younger? These food donations address hunger right here. Thank you for filling up your sacks and passing them along.


Annual “Reindeer Run” Benefits Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 9:33pm


Submitted by Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers 

jingle bell run lacey

Run to be held December 7 in downtown Olympia.

Runners and walkers of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in the annual “Reindeer Run” in support of the Olympia-Thurston County chapter of Crime Stoppers.  The event will feature a certified 5K run as well as a free one-mile Candy Cane Run.

The Reindeer Run is set for 9 am on Sunday, December 7 at the Hands On Children’s Museum, 414 Jefferson St. NE Olympia.  Runners can register on-line at or   In store-registration can also be done at South Sound Running-3405 Capitol Boulevard in Olympia.

The day will feature a Christmas themed costume contest, a visit by Santa Claus and lots of other fun.   Sponsors include the Hands On Children’s Museum, South Sound Running, On the Run Events and Club Oly Running.

All proceeds from the run will benefit the non-profit programs of Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers.

Some background on this chapter-

Over the past 20 years-

  • More than 900 suspects have been arrested
  • 922 criminal offenses were cleared
  • 829 rewards were paid for a total of more than $160,000
  • The value of stolen property that was recovered was more than $1.8 million
  • Nearly $7-million in narcotics were taken off the streets

For more information on the “Reindeer Run” please call 360-561-0266

Structure Fire at Black Lake Elementary School

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:25pm



Submitted by Scott LaVielle for Tumwater Fire Department

Assisted by mutual aid units from East Olympia Fire District 6, Griffin Fire District 13, McLane/Black Lake Fire District and West Thurston Regional Fire Authority, Tumwater Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at Black Lake Elementary School, 6345 Black Lake Belmore Road SW.  The call came in at 11:58 a.m. with the first unit arriving at 12:04 p.m.

Upon arrival, the school was evacuated.  Upon initial investigation, crews found a small amount of smoke emanating from the SE corner room of the school in the roof area.  The room contained a kitchen with a stove, microwave and small hood and duct system.  Upon entry, fire personnel found a small amount of fire burning on the top of the stove and cupboard area just above the stove.  The fire was extinguished and confined to this area.  Crews confirmed there was no fire extension, and quickly worked to ventilate the building of residual smoke.

The cause of the fire was determined to be someone turning on the left rear burner which ignited combustibles left on the stove.  The fire progressed to an adjacent microwave oven which ignited cupboards above the area of origin.  Damage is estimated to be approximately $60,000.00.  Two school staff were treated for smoke inhalation and released at the scene.  There were no other injuries to school personnel or firefighters.

Six Ways to Celebrate A Holiday Office Party around Thurston County

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 6:49am



By Lisa Herrick

harold carrHoliday office parties are highly anticipated for the attendees yet can be a challenge for the party planner. The group’s size, interests, and budget will determine the type of celebration that would be suitable for the office holiday soiree. Year-end festivities are an excellent opportunity to bring co-workers together to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments as well as strengthen employee relations. Finding the ideal location or event for the holiday party can be time consuming on top of  regular daily duties. Fortunately, Thurston County offers a plethora of venues and activities fitting for a diverse array of office holiday fetes.

Dinner and Theater in Downtown Olympia

harlequin productions

The audience gives an enthusiastic standing ovation at a recent Harlequin Productions play. Harlequin plays have long been crowd-pleasers for Olympia audiences.

The holidays are an optimal time of year for a theater excursion. The cold weather beckons us indoors while local theaters offer amazing performances. Combining a social outing and an event will appeal to a broader set of people within the office. Groups of six or more are eligible for a discount making theater a more affordable gift for an organization. Plus downtown Olympia businesses will be sparkling with window decorations creating a festive atmosphere to stroll from one of the many downtown restaurants to either the Harlequinn Productions of The Stardust Christmas Commotion or Ballet Northwest’s The Nutcracker at The Washington Center.

Celebrate by Giving Back

The best of holiday office parties makes us feel good about the place we work. Celebrating with our co-workers by giving back to our community generates a positive team spirit. Charitable giving celebrations can be as simple as an in-office canned food drive or blending the holiday party around a special cause by organizing a fundraiser.  Alternatively, companies can do hands-on volunteering with many community organizations. For example, arrange a holiday party for the Olympia Union Gospel, help sort holiday food donations at the Thurston County Food Bank, or host a Toys for Tots drive at the office or provide extra hands in the local warehouse.

Enjoy Outdoor Festivities

jingle bell run lacey

Participating in the Jingle Bell Run at Saint Martin’s University can be a great way to celebrate the holidays with your work team.

Many work groups would prefer celebrating through physical activity and being outdoors rather than a traditional holiday party. Organizing a hike with a picnic may be an ideal celebration for an outdoorsy and fit group. Similarly, participating in a community race such as Saint Martin’s University Jingle Bell Run encourages friendly, fun competition as well as a silly, creative outlet by dressing up in outlandish festive attire. The holiday course is for runners or walkers who then join together upon completion to sip hot cocoa.

Revelry in the Office

Sometimes keeping the holiday office party simple and in the workplace is the best and easiest option. Throwing a party in the office can reduce the expenses of renting out a venue. It can also make it easier for people to attend by simply transitioning from the workday straight to the gathering. Adding a theme can make this transition from work to party more pronounced, festive and jolly. Keep things lighthearted and effortless with something like an ugly holiday sweater theme, which not only creates a natural ice breaker and diverts conversation from the every day work issues but is a wardrobe change. Offer nibbles from a local caterer like Budd Bay Cafe, pick up treats from Phoebe’s Cafe or schedule one of Olympia’s food trucks to be on site.

Join an Existing Event

Skip the planning and simply purchase a ticket to an existing event where the decorations, entertainment, gift bags and meal are all included. Take advantage of events such as the Providence Saint Peter Foundations Silver Bells Breakfast by celebrating with your work team over brunch and supporting a community charitable cause.

olympia tourism

Mix up the traditional office party and take your work friends on a night out on the town in Olympia.

Additionally, our area offers one of the most unique and majestic events during the holidays through the Olympia Yacht Club’s Lighted Ship Parade. Snack on appetizers from Bayview Thriftway while viewing the boats. The parade of boats sails out along the east side of Budd Bay to Boston Harbor and returns along the west shore of Budd Bay back to the Olympia Yacht Club.  Either reserve a spot at one of the local restaurants to view the parade or bundle up and watch from the Port Plaza. Then proceed to a local watering hole, like Dillingers or Three Magnets Brewing, for a cozy cocktail to warm you up.  Note that the boats are traveling on December 6 so make your plans earlier in the season.

Finding the Right Venue

The most common office holiday party involves dining, conversing and celebrating with the people we spend time with every day on the job. Celebrating with coworkers in a festive and charming setting provides the opportunity to break from the every day norm and have fun with our work friends. While there are many restaurants, event spaces and banquet halls that can be rented throughout Thurston County there are also quaint lcoations nestled just outside the Olympia downtown core such as The Albee’s Garden Parties, which accommodates small and large groups for holiday parties within their indoor and outdoor garden space decorated lovingly for the holidays.


Spend a Day in Olympia for the Holidays

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 6:19am



By Kate Scriven

VCB logoThe leaves are off the trees, festive lights are being placed in the empty branches and shops are full of gorgeous displays of gifts and specialty items.  Yes, the holidays are officially here.  To help you get in the mood, and check a few things off your list, spend a day in downtown Olympia.  Not only will you come away feeling “in the spirit” of the season, but you’ll find unique, quality gifts while supporting local small business owners.

Downtown isn’t just for shopping, though.  Take advantage of the special seasonal celebrations throughout the coming month including concerts, parades, tree lightings and of course the Nutcracker.  Make your visit to one of these events an occasion by grabbing a cup of locally roasted coffee, a warm bowl of homemade soup, or a special sweet treat at Olympia’s many eateries and cafes.

holidays olympia

Compass Rose is one stop on your downtown Olympia shopping tour.

Stroll, enjoy, and connect with those you love.  Live the true spirit of the season by spending a bit of time together in the vibrant core of our state’s capital.   Below are just a few of the highlights for a day trip to Olympia.

Shopping and Gifts

Archibald Sisters – For the wacky jokester on your list, or for the best stocking stuffers around, visit this long-standing emporium of all things fun.  Don’t miss the custom lotions and bath products bar to customize the perfect scent for those on your list.  Hit the “Oly” wear section for locally themed tees and sweatshirts showing your local-love.

Compass Rose – Imports abound alongside local treats in this treasure trove of gifts and décor.  From handmade jewelry to BPA-free baby toys, you’ll head out the door with something you didn’t expect, yet couldn’t imagine leaving without.

Hot Toddy – Visit just because the shop’s name is fantastic.  While you’re inside, browse for unique women’s clothes and accessories with a vintage vibe.  Have an urban hipster niece on your list?  This is your store.

Red Door InteriorsLara Anderson and her mother Kathy Lathrop curate this fantastic collection of new and refurbished items for your home in this corner shop on 5th and Washington.  Pick up just the right accent pillow to pull a room together or add a little bit of bling for your holiday table.  Affordable jewelry and accessories make perfect gifts and don’t miss their signature item – the RD Shady.

Captain Little Toy Store – Imagine the modern vibe of an Apple Store combined with quirky, quality toys and the best stuffed animals you’ve ever seen.  That is Captain Little.  Opened this summer in the former “Wind up Here” storefront, this newcomer is quickly becoming the go-to spot for hip, fun toys.  Go beyond a Barbie and delight the littles in your life with gifts of imagination hand selected by the store’s experienced owners.

olympia baby store

Simple Cloth, located in downtown Olympia, stocks a variety of diapers to meet customers’ differing needs and budgets.

Simple Cloth – While the tiny storefront may not scream “holiday shopping here” if you have a new mom (or mom-to-be) on your list, you can’t go wrong with the thoughtfully sourced selection in this 4th Avenue favorite.  Cloth diapering supplies are just the beginning.

Olyphant – In their new location on 5th Avenue, Olyphant offers high quality art supplies for the aspiring, or experienced, artist.  Staff can help guide your selection to something any artist can use in their case.

Buck’s 5th Avenue – For the culinary connoisseur on your list, stop into Buck’s and have the staff organize a spice sampler or tea medley.  Their selection can’t be beat and the aroma of the store alone is worth a visit.

Little General Food Shop – Another foodie haven, Little General offers up specialty eats perfectly made for hostess gifts, holiday entertaining, and stocking stuffers.  Hungry?  Ready to eat items are available to help keep your shopping stamina up.


olympia holiday parade

Downtown for the Holidays includes a popular parade at 3:00 p.m. on November 30.

Holiday Events

Downtown for the Holidays – Held on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, this annual event, centered around Sylvester Park, includes activities for kids and adults alike, music, the Holiday Parade and the Tree Lighting.   Local merchants join the fun with specials and celebrations throughout downtown.  The event begins on November 30 at 12:00 p.m. and continues until 5:00 p.m.  The downtown holiday parade steps off at 3:00 p.m.

Holiday Concerts – One of the best ways to enjoy the spirit of the season is through song.  Our thriving local arts community showcases its talent at a number of shows throughout December.  Here are just a few classics.

  • Olympia Choral Society – Holiday Classics will delight with three shows on December 12, 13, 14 at the Koval Center.
  • SOGO Ho Ho – Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia’s annual Victorian Holiday concert will be held December 14 at First Christian Church in Downtown Olympia (2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. shows).
  • Sounds of the Season – SPSCC Concert Choir and Puget Sound Community Choir entertain with holiday favorites on December 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the  Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on the SPSCC Campus.

Seasonal Theater

nutcracker olympia

Plan your day around a performance of the Nutcracker in downtown Olympia.

The Nutcracker Ballet – No need to travel to Seattle, and spend hundreds, to see a stunning performance of holiday favorite, the Nutcraker Ballet.  Olympia boasts several performances leading up to Christmas that will delight young and old alike.  Ballet Northwest’s production is at downtown’s Washington Center for the Performing Arts from December 12 through 21.  Include a matinee in your day downtown or enjoy dinner at one of the area’s excellent restaurants and walk to the show for a special night out.

Harlequin Productions “The Stardust Christmas Commotion” – Now in its nineteenth season, this 1950’s musical set in The Stardust Club is a local favorite.  Each year, audiences delight in a new rendition of rat-pack rock n’ roll and holiday spirit.  Shows run Thursday through Sunday beginning on November 28 and continuing through December 31.

Visit Olympia’s downtown this holiday season and delight in the unique shops, locally-sourced foods, and cheerful holiday entertainment.  Stroll the tree-lined streets with your family or make it a day with your friends.  Olympia is a treasure not to be missed this holiday season.


Debra Daniels Offers Insurance Advice about Homeowners Insurance and Personal Articles Policies

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 6:00am



olympia insuranceYou finally save a little extra money for that special purchase, be it a high-tech digital camera for the bird watching hobbyist or a stunning Chihuly centerpiece, but in one brief clumsy moment your treasure lies in pieces on the floor.

If you’re covered under a ‘Personal Articles Policy’ like the ones offered by the Debra Daniels Insurance Agency in Lacey, your tears are only temporary.  Many Homeowner’s policies don’t cover fine art breakage, and damage to possessions counts as a claim against your policy, subject to deductibles and raised rates.  With a Personal Articles Policy, in addition to your Homeowner’s policy;  art, cameras, and expensive items are covered, at a fraction of the cost, with or without a deductible,  in the event of damage.

A Personal Articles Policy isn’t just for the 1%, either.  This addition covers your household’s computer equipment, sports equipment, jewelry, and musical instruments as well.  This blanket coverage extends to kids at sports or music camps, college-aged children both home and in the dorms, and travel between it all…anywhere in the world.

Should you be lucky enough to inherit Aunt Mabel’s estate, you can also cover furs, silverware, fine art, oriental rugs, and collectibles!

Because such a policy is in addition to your normal coverage, it’s best to call your agent to discuss specifics.  Their knowledge can guide your decision-making towards the best coverage for your family’s needs.  As with any change in policy, chatting early is always best…just in case.

Debbie Daniels and her team are always available to chat, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at their 8765 Tallon Lane NE, Lacey offices, located 2 blocks pass Costco on Martin Way .  Should you have late night questions, you can email their offices or file a claim online and she’ll even arrange appointments off-site or after hours as needed.  Their phone number is 360-493-8284 and they’d love to hear from you.


Teamwork Pays Off with Olympia’s Visit to the State Volleyball Tournament

Sun, 11/16/2014 - 8:31am



By Gail Wood

Edward Jones Block AdCall them the unexpected guests.

With a 5’6″ middle blocker, with a 14-8 record and placing fourth in the 4A Narrows League standings, Olympia High School’s volleyball team did the unexpected when it qualified for the state tournament.

In a winner-to-state match at district, Olympia beat a Timberline team that beat the Bears 3-0 twice during the regular season. It was a defining win for a team that struggled to find that winning formula.

olympia volleyball

Olympia scrimmages in preparation for the state tournament.

From the first match of the season, Laurie Creighton, Olympia’s coach for 36 years, has preached “get better.” The building block to success was to improve each game. Win or lose, it was all about not quitting.

“There’s not a lot of replacement for experience,” Creighton said. “We were hoping to get enough of it before we ran out of time. A couple of weeks ago I was thinking, gosh we might run out of time. We just hadn’t consistently shown the progress I was hoping that we would show.”

A turnaround moment for Olympia came at a team meeting midway through the season when coach and players challenged everyone to get better. And instead of losing dividing the team, it brought them together.

“We really came together,” said Hannah Adams, a 6’2″ outside hitter for the Bears and a team captain. “We weren’t afraid of anything. We just had fun – just knowing there was nothing to lose and to go all out and play hard.”

Another factor in Olympia’s surprising turnaround was tradition. Nearly every year, Olympia’s volleyball team earns a ticket to state. Last year, Olympia’s string of seven straight seasons of qualifying for state was ended. They were determined not to extend that string.

olympia volleyball

Olympia volleyball coach Laurie Creighton talks to her team about team goals.

In Creighton’s 36 years at OHS, the Bears have reached state 22 times. Without that winning tradition, Jona Spiller, a third-year varsity player and a team captain for the Bears, didn’t think Olympia would have made it to state.

“It’s a whole different story if you take the tradition of our program out of it,” Spiller said. “Because we don’t have the best skill compared to the other teams at state. That’s huge part of why we’re at state now.”

With the 5’6″ Lydia Soto playing middle blocker, Olympia had to make a strategy adjustment. The Bears weren’t going to be able to play power, smash-mouth volleyball. They were going to have win with finesse, not power.

“Lidia is a great all-around volleyball player,” said Creighton, who was inducted into the state’s Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008. “But she doesn’t have a lot of height. So, she’s going to get matched up against a lot of bigger girls.”

Without the big, inside blocker, Olympia compensated with hard serves, putting an opponent on the heels and not allowing them to go on the attack.

olympia volleyball

Olympia coach Laurie Creighton watches her players practice shots at the net.

“Our goal is to serve tough so the middles on the other teams don’t get a lot of opportunity,” Creighton said. “If we can serve them and force them into less than perfect passes, it’s hard to run a middle.”

With each serve, Olympia’s goal is serve a bullet and place it so an opponent can’t set up their middle blocker for a rally-ending spike.

“We don’t use the middle as much offensively as we have in past years,” Creighton said. “But we use it hopefully enough to keep other teams honest. If they don’t pay attention to our middle, we’re going to sneak one by them. Hopefully that will open up some opportunities for our outside hitters.”

Olympia made its unlikely run to state with teamwork. It had just three all-league players. Adams made first team, Spiller made second team and Julia Fleener made honorable mention. Without a cast of all-stars who will be playing in college on scholarships, Olympia won with teamwork.

“We have a team that understands their role and are committed to filling that role to the betterment of the group,” Creighton said. “There might be teams with a lot of great players, but we’re a great team.”

olympia volleyball

In preparation for the state tourney, Olympia works on accuracy drills with its hitting.

From their first match of the season, Creighton has made sure that her team’s focus has been on getting better, improving with every opportunity.

“This whole year, coach has made sure we focus on the process rather than the final outcome,” Spiller said. “It’s been one practice at a time. One game at a time.”

In this turnaround season for the Bears, they’ve learned never to give up.

“To earn a berth after a lot of people had written us off, it’s really rewarding to be enjoying this extra week,” Creighton said.


My.Future: Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s Technology

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:57pm



comcastTechnology is constantly advancing. From phones, tablets, gadgets, and apps to vaccines, energy efficient solutions, social media, and more, STEM fields are always changing, growing, and becoming a more prominent part of our lives. With so much new technology and an increasing abundance of STEM careers, it’s more important than ever for youth to be well educated in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

comcast boys and girls club

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County CEO, Joe Ingoglia, opened the Nov. 13 media conference with excitement and gratitude.

Two big supporters of youth development, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Comcast, have partnered to launch an initiative designed to help prepare today’s youth for the technology of tomorrow. On Thursday, Nov. 13, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Comcast launched My.Future, an initiative designed to provide Boys & Girls Clubs kids across the nation with personalized, hands-on digital experiences designed to develop digital interests and the skills needed to be successful in an increasingly digital world.

Committed to bridging the “digital divide” and improving digital literacy nationwide, Comcast has been a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Through My.Future, Comcast hopes to help prepare today’s youth for the more than eight million STEM jobs expected to be available in the United States by 2018, by bringing digital activities to the more than four million kids at 4,100 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

This is also the fifth year Comcast Foundation has provided financial support to Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County, including the most recent grant of $13,000 for the Tumwater Digital Connectors youth program.

comcast boys and girls club

Programs like My.Future help prepare today’s youth for careers in STEM.

During the Thursday, Nov. 13, launch, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County in Lacey was one of 12 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to hold a My.Future media conference. Present at the conference was Washington State Representative Richard DeBolt; Deputy Mayor of Lacey, Cynthia Pratt; Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County CEO, Joe Ingoglia; Boys & Girls Clubs Washington State Association Executive Director, Matt Watrous; Comcast’s Community Investment Manager, Diem Ly; Comcast’s Director of Public Relations, Walter Neary; Boys & Girls Clubs staff, parents, youth, and more.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County CEO, Joe Ingoglia, kicked-off the conference by sharing his excitement about the initiative and what it means for youth across the country and right here in Thurston County. Ingoglia also noted his gratitude for all the support Comcast has provided the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County over the years, including their sponsorship of the Digital Connectors Program, a predecessor to My.Future which has helped illustrate the benefit digital skills building programs provide today’s youth.

comcast boys and girls clubs

Former Boys & Girls Clubs kid, Diem Ly, Comcast’s Community Investment Manager, is excited to announce the launch of My.Future.

Matt Watrous, executive director for the Boys & Girls Clubs Washington State Association, shared similar gratitude and excitement during the conference, noting the regional importance this initiative has for Thurston County and Washington State youth by helping prepare them for STEM careers with Washington-based companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing.

The conference continued with Diem Ly, Comcast’s community investment manager, who told the story of her own experience as a Boys & Girls Clubs kid and the value the experience had on her personal growth and development. With emotion in her voice, Ly said during the conference, “I’m proud that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Comcast NBCUniversal are announcing today a 5-year national partnership that invests in the My.Future Program.”

The media conference closed with powerful statements from both a Boys & Girls Clubs parent and Boys & Girls Clubs kid turned staff member. Both Erin Jones – mother of a Boys & Girls Clubs kid – and Brandon Pavlick – Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County staff member – have witnessed and experienced the real life benefits that result from introducing underrepresented youth to technology.

comcast boys and girls club

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County parent Erin Jones says her son’s interest in computer technology was cultivated at the Boys & GIrls Club.

Jones’ son, Izzy, was a Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County kid from seventh through tenth grade. Always interested in technology, at just 5-years-old Izzy announced to his parents that he planned to study computer technology at the University of Washington someday. While both Jones and her husband are educators, neither of them understand much about computers. “STEM didn’t begin for [Izzy] in the Boys & Girls Club,” Jones said, “but I really believe that STEM became solidified for him right here in this Boys & Girls Club.” Now a senior in high school, Izzy has created more than 400 video game characters and is looking forward to studying computer technology in college.

For Brandon Pavlick, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County also helped nurture an interest in technology – an interest he didn’t even know he had. “I was the kid who didn’t fit in to anything. I didn’t know what I wanted to do ever. I had very little friends and was anti-social. But when I came to the Boys & Girls Club my main area of focus that I looked forward to everyday was the tech club,” says Pavlick.

Pavlick went through the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Digital Connectors Program and excelled. Years later, Pavlick is now a Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County staff member, and shares the knowledge and skills he learned when he was a Boys & Girls Club kid with the children that he mentors.

comcast boys and girls clubThe Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Comcast are proud to introduce the next step in boosting national digital literacy with My.Future. To learn more about the My.Future, visit

If you would like to learn how you can get your child involved in My.Future and the other great activities and resources available through the Boys & Girls Club, visit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County’s website here.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 7:41am



This week’s cold, dry weather has me pulling out my “puffy coat” and slathering on the chapstick.  Yes, it was chilly for us temperate climate zone dwellers, but the sunny, blue sky against the remaining brilliant leaves of fall was truly breath taking – and, especially welcome for families with children who were home from school.  Sending my two girls tromping through the woods on Tuesday, creating fairy houses and gathering leaves for collages reminded me how lucky I am to live in this beautiful corner of the world.  We paused, said a quiet thank you to all Veterans, named our soldier grandfathers long-gone, and simply remembered.

As you head into the weekend, don’t lose the reflective spirit.  Instead, carry it through into your family activities – be thankful for your hike to view salmon, enjoyment of a good show, or a meal well prepared.  Notice the small things, for they are often bigger than you think.

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


Fake It, Don’t Make It – Where to Buy Local, Already-Made Holiday Foods this Season

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 6:59am



By Megan Conklin

duncan sponsorI am thirty-nine years old and I have never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey. I blame this in part on my birth order. I am the second from the youngest child in my family and, by definition, this means I do not host extended family gatherings and am asked only to bring a green salad or vegetable dish to all holiday events. Now, I fancy myself to be a pretty decent cook. I certainly cook every day for my own family of six. Yet, the “real” holiday cooking, in my little village at least, falls to my older sisters and mother most of the time. My lack of expertise in the holiday cooking realm just means that I am an expert at sourcing and purchasing local, handmade foods to bring as my potluck contribution to gatherings – the more homemade it looks, the better. So here you have it: How to buy a delicious, home cooked (just not by you) Thanksgiving meal without ever leaving downtown Olympia. (Except for a quick trip up San Francisco Street hill to the bakery.)

The Bird

thanksgiving food

A precooked, smoked turkey from Dickerson’s BBQ makes your Thanksgiving feast both simple and delicious.

The requisite fowl on a platter is a non-negotiable. And the smell of roasting turkey wafting through the air is Thanksgiving itself. If you are not into the whole getting up early to shoot, pluck, stuff, and roast your own – just give Bayview Catering a call. They will cook a plump and succulent turkey just for you. In fact, they will cook your whole dinner, including mashed potatoes, cranberries, green beans, rolls, and stuffing for you if you place an order by November 21.

Another option for a pre-cooked bird is Southbay Dickerson’s BBQ. Dickerson’s will smoke a 12-14 pound turkey, cool it, seal it in an oven safe bag, and all you will have to do is pop it in the oven for about an hour or until it is falling apart warm and tender and ready to be, well, gobbled.

The Accoutrements

The side dishes that go with Thanksgiving dinner are oftentimes yummier than the turkey itself. One perennial favorite is the rolls. Rolls are key to the Thanksgiving dinner spread, as well as next-day leftovers events. Think mini turkey/cranberry sandwich on a roll the day after. The San Francisco Street Bakery has scrumptious rolls.  Any of their wildly popular breads, from the aromatic rosemary garlic to the luscious and nutty walnut levain, can be ordered in roll form for Thanksgiving – just give them a 24 hour heads up. Wagner’s European Bakery and Cafe also prepares a plethora of rolls especially for Thanksgiving Day. They bake up some of the traditional favorites such as butter flake, parker house, and clover leaf, as well as their “napkin rolls” which are rolled to look like table napkins.

san francisco street bakery

Select any bread from The San Francisco Street Bakery’s and they will turn it into Thanksgiving rolls for your table.

Stuffing, or dressing, depending of your penchant for cramming one food product inside another, is probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. For a hybrid fake it-make it scenario, buy the herby and delicious premade stuffing mix at The San Francisco Street Bakery and stuff it in your bird before cooking.

If you are like me, no Thanksgiving meal is complete without the jellied cranberries from a can – complete with the imprints of the can on the jelled fruit. But, if you prefer to get really fancy with your cranberries, you can buy the delicious whole berries down at the Olympia Farmers Market, or from Ralph’s Thriftway. Ralph’s has berries straight from Grayland, Washington, or the “cranberry coast” as some like to call it.

A quick trip back to Southbay Dickerson’s BBQ will net you a quart jar of their famous gravy.  When I spoke to owner Eric Dickerson, he mentioned that this year they plan to expand their Thanksgiving offerings with the addition of a true holiday favorite, the green bean casserole. Call ahead to order your premade casserole.

The Desserts

olympia pie

Whether you love pumpkin, pecan, or fruit pies, Wagner’s European Bakery has all the Thanksgiving favorites.

All of the aforementioned bakeries offer a variety of decadent, handmade desserts befitting a Thanksgiving table. Traditional favorites such as pumpkin and pecan pie can be purchased at Wagner’s and San Francisco Street Bakery. Try quick fan favorite, Mom’s Baked Goods, as well.  And Olympia’s favorite French style bakery, The Bread Peddler, is offering unique autumn sweets such as local blue Hubbard squash pie (made with squash grown in the Lattin Cider Mill garden) and pumpkin ginger loaf with pure maple icing.

Pumpkin muffins and coffeecakes from Wagner’s or a simultaneously moist and dense bread pudding from The Bread Peddler make for lovely hostess gifts. An easy, morning- after-Thanksgiving type breakfast treat is always appreciated.

So go ahead and fake your way through the Thanksgiving meal this year. Taking a trip through downtown to support local shops and eateries is both virtuous and fun – and it might just be the most relaxing and delicious holiday yet.


Olympia’s Sarah Norman Endures Heartache, Pain to Reach State Swimming Finals

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 6:35am



By Gail Wood

providence medical group sponsorWhen Sarah Norman steps up onto the starter’s block to begin her race at the 4A state swim meet Friday, that alone will be a moment to cheer.

olympia swimming

Olympia swim coach Mel Smith talks with his team during practice.

No one – not Mel Smith, her coach at Olympia High School, nor her parents or her sister – thought she’d be there, swimming and competing for a state medal.

Two weeks ago on the day of the district finals, just a day after Norman did well in her prelims, she was rushed to the hospital and needed emergency surgery.

“I couldn’t move,” Norman said. “I was in so much pain.”

In September, Norman, a senior at Olympia High School, first felt stomach pains. But she passed them off as a flu bug. When the pain didn’t go away, she went to the doctor and was eventually diagnosed as having an ovarian cyst. Surgery was imminent.

“But we hoped we’d do it at the end of the season,” Norman said.

She wasn’t that fortunate.

On Monday this week, just eight days after her surgery, Norman, with her doctor’s permission, was back in the pool, swimming laps and preparing for state. With her coach making sure she didn’t push it too hard, she swam an “easy” 2,000 yards.

olympia swimming

Sarah Norman has faced some medical challenges to reach state this season.

“It was like keeping a thoroughbred under control,” Smith said with a chuckle. “Just not overdoing it is a challenge right there.”

As a precaution, Smith had Norman swim her workout laps in her own lane.

“We don’t need to have someone bump into her or someone swimming the breaststroke and kick her in the stomach,” Smith said. “But the doctor cleared her to get back into the water on Monday and cleared her to compete. We’re excited.”

Typically, someone who has undergone surgery needs two weeks before resuming any physical activities, giving them time to get the sedatives out of their system and to heal. Norman’s first day back wasn’t easy.

“I couldn’t do flip turns,” Norman said, frowning at the memory. “It hurt too much.”

But she felt better the next day. And now she’s hoping to push herself at state. When Norman went to the hospital on the day she was scheduled to swim in the district finals, she was still hoping to swim in her events that day.

olympia swimming

To avoid collisions and possible injury, Sarah Norman swims laps in her own lane as she prepares for state.

“We actually had my swim stuff in the back of the car on the way to the ER,” Norman said. “Just in case.”

But surgery couldn’t be delayed and it happened on Sunday, Nov. 2. Norman admits that the swimming, pushing herself at district and swimming a state qualifying time, aggravated her problem. Things probably would have been fine if she just been home relaxing.

There were questions whether or not she’d be ready to swim at state, but Norman only took a week off and was back in the water.

“I don’t have any pain right now,” Norman said after swimming laps at practice earlier this week. “Missing some practice time puts me behind where I should be. But it shouldn’t be too bad. I’ve been swimming for a long time.”

There have been moments where Norman, frustrated by her health problem, has cried.

Through all of this, Norman’s parents, Charles and Gigi, have been the encouragers. Understanding all the years of training to prepare for this moment, they’re letting their daughter pursue her dream.

“They’ve been very supportive,” Norman said. “My dad is at my morning practices. He knows what I go through.”

Another rah-rah supporter has been Norman’s younger sister, Ali, who is also on the high school swim team and has qualified for state. Both Sarah and Ali, who is a sophomore and has been a teammate of her sister since she was six, have qualified for state in two individual events. Sarah is in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. Ali qualified in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke. Olympia also qualified three relays.

olympia swimming

Sisters Ali (left) and Sarah Norman are both headed to the 4A state swim meet.

“Qualifying three was hard even with Sarah swimming, but we had to do it without her,” Smith said. “Our kids really stepped up. They were outstanding.”

Seeing her sister struggle hasn’t been easy for Ali.

“It was hard for me to be doing good and to see her not being able to swim,” Ali said.

When Sarah was at the hospital, Ali admits she had trouble focusing on swimming her events at district.

“It was a challenging day,” Ali said. “I knew if I thought about it too much I’d start worrying and it would affect me. I just decided to put it in the back of my mind.”

In a strange way, it’s been a horrible, wonderful season for Sarah – horrible because of the pain she endured because of her health problems and wonderful because of the way her friends and family supported her and how she stood up to the challenge. She didn’t buckle and quit.

As a senior, this was going to be her final hurrah, her showcase season and her chance at earning a swimming scholarship to college. It hasn’t been easy.

“I’ve cried some over it,” Sarah said. “Hopefully, my next tears will be happy ones. Hopefully, they’ll be tears of joy.”


The Bearded Lady Food Company: Treats for All

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 6:09am



By Melanie Kallas Ricklefs

greene realtyAre you in the mood for a cupcake?  Maybe you’d prefer a brownie, cookie, or doughnut.  If you’re one of the many people who have dietary restrictions, your craving usually means it’s time to get out the bowls and measuring cups.  Not anymore!  The Bearded Lady Food Company is a unique bakery in downtown Olympia that specializes in vegan and gluten-free baked goods.  Their cupcakes are divine, and their brownies are pure bliss.  On Friday and Saturday evenings, you can stop in for a treat, while enjoying the cozy atmosphere they provide in their Franklin Street bakery.  The bakers are friendly, approachable, and always happy to answer questions about their ingredients.

bearded lady desserts

Jordan Marsicek, co-owner of the Bearded Lady, proudly displays the bakery’s vegan and gluten-free desserts.

The Bearded Lady Food Company began as a wholesale bakery in 2009, when owners Melanie Shelton and Jordan Marsicek acquired the business formerly known as The Blue Lotus Café.  They spent their first year of ownership adjusting to busy baking schedules, playing with recipes, and trying to figure out how to run a business.  In 2010, they “became lonely for customer interaction,” so they opened their doors to serve plated desserts a few nights per week.  They later added a bakery case, which is currently stocked with rich, decadent vegan and gluten-free desserts.

For those of you who have never attempted vegan gluten-free baking, it is not for the faint of heart.  There will be trials, there will be errors.  There will be cupcakes that taste like quinoa, and cookies that taste like chickpeas, but not at The Bearded Lady.  These ladies have mastered the art of combining flours and flavors to create luscious baked goods for all to enjoy.  They focus on vegan and gluten-free baking because it makes them happy to see people with eating restrictions, especially children, indulge in their desserts.  They also fill a niche previously unoccupied by traditional bakeries.

bearded lady desserts

The bakery case at the Bearded Lady is open Friday and Saturday evenings, and during weekend brunch hours.

In 2012, they started serving brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings to help keep the bakery open.  Specialty desserts are not a necessity, but brunch appeals to everyone.  It also complements their baked goods, which are available during brunch hours.  They have vegan and gluten-free options for brunch, while also serving dairy and meat dishes.  The owners are proud to let you know that everything in their bakery and on the brunch menu is made from scratch – now that is dedication to perfection.

Their dessert menu is available on Friday and Saturday evenings, when you’re more likely to be out on the town, and might want to stop in for a treat.   Limiting their bakery hours allows them to avoid time spent waiting for the next customer.  Realistically, there aren’t many people looking for a luxurious dessert at 2:00 p.m. on a weekday, and keeping the bakery open all day is costly.  During their evening bakery hours, you can build your own sundae, which can include any of their homemade dairy, or vegan ice creams, vegan and gluten-free baked goods, homemade sauces, whipped cream, and more.  They even have a vegan caramel sauce!  You read that right, vegan caramel sauce, three sweet words almost never spoken in the same sentence.

bearded lady desserts

The Bearded Lady Food Company is located at 412 Franklin Street in Olympia.

When the bakery front is not open, the bakers at The Bearded Lady are hard at work (and play!) creating scrumptious goodies to supply to their wholesale customers.  The next time you need a sweet pick-me-up during the week, look for their products at any of the following local businesses:  Olympia Food Cooperatives, Bayview Thriftway, Traditions Cafe, Caffe Vita, Quality Burrito, Tofu Hut, Flaming Eggplant Cafe, Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, or Batdorf & Bronson.  You can also special order from the bakery, but they need one week advanced notice period, so no cupcake emergencies!

While the Bearded Lady was built on cupcakes, the owners admit that there are other desserts they prefer to create.  Don’t get me wrong, they both love coming up with exotic flavor profiles for their cupcakes (which change with the season), but there’s more to life than cupcakes.  Melanie confesses that her favorite desserts to create are tarts and pies with custards and curds.

bearded lady desserts

Cupcakes are the foundation of the Bearded Lady’s wholesale and retail business, but they have so much more to offer.

Jordan enjoys making ice cream and waffle cones, and creating the “little details” that put their desserts into a league of their own.  One of Jordan’s little details is the vanilla bean paste responsible for the full-bodied flavor of their supreme vanilla bean frosting.  I won’t give away any secrets, but the paste making process is labor intensive, time consuming, and oh…so…worth it!  Don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself.

Visit their website for brunch and dessert hours, special orders, and upcoming baking classes for kids, teens, and adults.  For questions about their products, call (360) 943-6235.

The Bearded Lady is a cash only business located at 412 Franklin Street in Olympia.  Be prepared because there are so many delicacies, you won’t want to limit yourself to just one.