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Commissioners Move Transportation Benefit District One Step Closer

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:22am



Submitted by Thurston County 

The traffic circle at Yelm Highway and Boulevard are interesting additions to the vehicle landscape.

The roads, bridges, and infrastructure of Thurston County need additional fund to maintain the growing needs of the community.  The Transportation Benefit District seeks to find those needed funds.  

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners voted today to support the creation of a Transportation Benefit District in unincorporated Thurston County—the first step in a process that will allow the county to seek additional funds for maintaining and preserving the county’s roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure.

“It’s clear we have an urgent need to address our aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Creating the district will be an important step forward toward meeting those growing needs,” said Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela.

State law authorizes cities and counties in Washington to create local transportation benefit districts to help fund public transit operations and local transportation infrastructure. With today’s vote, county commissioners have cleared the way to create the district in January. The three commissioners would make up the board of directors for the district, as state law requires.

One of the first issues commissioners would tackle as the board of directors for the new district would be examining the various funding options available to transportation benefit districts. One option allowed by state law is collecting an annual car licensing fee of $20 for vehicles registered in unincorporated Thurston County, which would raise approximately $1.8 million annually for preservation and maintenance of the county’s transportation infrastructure. The district’s board of directors would also need to determine the criteria for choosing transportation projects, and develop a district work plan with a list of priority projects.

“We’ve been talking about it for some years now, and while I think we have a ways to go before we commit to a funding mechanism, I do believe laying the foundation today is prudent,” said Commission Vice Chair Sandra Romero.

Commissioner Cathy Wolfe said, “I think today we’re setting the stage for finding the solution for our aging infrastructure. I’m looking forward to doing a great deal of outreach and discussion with people in the community about our roads priorities.”

Thurston County’s transportation system has an estimated value of more than $750 million and includes:

  • More than 1,000 miles of roadway
  • 109 bridges
  • 47 miles of trails
  • More than 110 miles of sidewalks
  • More than 23 miles of guardrail
  • More than 1,000 street lights
  • Nearly 6,500 storm drains
  • 256 storm water ponds
  • More than 17,000 traffic signs

While the county’s transportation system is extensive, it also is aging, and the county is struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of maintaining the system. In the last ten years, the revenue the county receives for transportation has grown 16 percent, but the costs of construction have grown by about 80 percent in Washington state, and that wide gap is only growing. The cost of some materials used in road construction are rising at an even faster rate, such as the cost of chipseal, which has more than doubled in the last ten years.

“Clearly we have a fundamental problem with the growth in costs far outpacing our revenue, but having a transportation benefit district for the unincorporated county will give us an option to start addressing the problem,” said Ramiro Chavez, Director of the county’s Public Works Department. “The TBD is not a silver bullet for our funding problem, but it will allow us to make strategic investments in maintaining and preserving the system, and protect what we have in place today.”


New Group at Saint Martin’s Makes A Stand Against Violence

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:54am



By Gail Wood

dairy queenWith the recent public focus on professional athlete’s involvement in domestic violence, Stephen Mahnken sometimes felt a little uneasy about telling someone he was an athlete.

Mahnken, an outfielder and a pitcher on Saint Martin’s University’s baseball team, wanted to help change that perception of male athletes. So, he joined SAVE, an on campus group that is an acronym for Saints Against Violence Everywhere.

“It almost seems that there is a negative connotation of calling yourself a male athlete now,” Mahnken said.

athletes against violence

Alice Loebsack recruited Zach Carter (left) and Stephen Mahnken to join a new club at Saint Martin’s University that focuses on stopping domestic violence.

“I was always taught that being a male athlete is a privilege and you use that privilege to help others and to be a good role model,” Mahnken said.

The purpose of SAVE, which was recently created by Alice Loebsack, SMU’s head trainer, is to both help change perceptions of male athletes and to help and prevent domestic and other forms of violence. Like Mahnken, Zach Carter, who also plays on SMU’s baseball team, wanted to help the victims of domestic violence.

“One thing I like about the group is our saying – we stand because no one deserves to stand alone,” Carter said.

Their club is there to help people who think that they’re not safe and that it’s not a safe world.

“There’s a lot of violence going on,” Carter said. “This group is standing up to say hey, we’re here. We want you to know that there’s someone here standing against all those kinds of acts. That’s what got me involved.”

The club also hopes to change negative perceptions of male athletes by doing something good, by connecting with food drives or with helping hands projects. They’re considering teaming up with the Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County. They also want to raise money for a battered women’s shelter.

“It’s asking ‘what can you do about helping,’” Loebsack said.

athletes against violence

The group started meeting in September and between 13-15 athletes show up weekly including Mahnken (left) and Carter.

In late September, Loebsack organized the first meeting. There were 15 male athletes at that first meeting and between 13 and 15 at every weekly meeting since. The club is a positive counter to the negative news about male athletes.

“After all the negative publicity from the NFL this past fall I got to talking with Stephen and Zack about what interest would be out there,” Loebsack said. “They seemed really interested. We informally put out flyers to invite people to just talk.”

SAVE’s objective is to help stop domestic violence, bullying and other forms of violence. It’s also a hand of support reaching out to the victims.

Part of SAVE’s message is to change an athlete’s own definition of what it means to be a strong, tough male. While that rugged, determined manner is fine while participating in sports, Loebsack said there has to be a friendlier, less aggressive off-the-field manner.

“You don’t have to be violent to be a strong, effective athlete,” Loebsack said. “You don’t have to bring that home with you.”

While an objective of SAVE is to let female victims know that they aren’t alone, the purpose of the club isn’t counseling. It might console, but now counsel. That’s because SAVE members don’t have that training and experience to be a counselor.

athletes against violence

The club intends to move out into the community to provide education around stopping domestic violence.

“They would not be out there counseling,” Loebsack said. “You know that these guys are standing for something. They would help them find the right people. But they’d be by no means counseling. They’d just be letting them know that there’s someone supporting them.”

With the club’s emphasis on doing good and helping, Loebsack said the conversation about male athletes would continue to be positive and not negative.

“It used to be you could say ‘oh I don’t participate in domestic violence or other forms of violence,’” Mahnken said. “Now, it’s become an issue and you have to be more proactive. When Alice brought it up I thought it would be interesting. No one should have to deal with anything like that and they shouldn’t have to go through it alone.”

The club has taken a pledge to not only stand against violence, but to pledge that they’d stop it when they witness it. Their objective is to also help stop domestic violence, bullying and other forms of violence.

“Next semester we hope to go out and talk with the community about domestic violence. We want to educate that we need to rally together and stand up,” Mahnken said.

If you need help, contact Saint Martin’s University Counseling and Wellness Center at 360-412-6123, the SafePlace Help Line at 360-754-6300 or the Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties at 360-586-2800.


Pilates at Play Combines Fun with Exercise

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:30am



By Lindsey Surrell

hirschIn a sunlit room of an old car dealership, colorful artwork, knickknacks, and houseplants line the peach and aqua splatter painted walls. From the wood ceiling hang three swings that seem to be transplanted from the local park, and on one, Trisha Hatfield Graves, owner and teacher of Pilates at Play, sits and swings and welcomes you to the class.

pilates olympia

Trisha Hatfield Graves incorporates fun into her classes.

Like a kid herself, Trisha is full of energy and laughter and makes you feel like you had met once before even if it’s your first visit. The room smells lightly of lavender, and with the sun hitting my face, and Trisha messing with my hair, I feel instantly welcomed.

There are some people who might enjoy the fast, hard, and extreme when seeking a workout routine, and then there are others who, as Trisha puts it, “want more connection.” I am definitely in the later group. But what really struck me about my visits to Pilates at Play was not only the connection; it was also how enjoyable and fun the classes were. Each of my four classes were completely different, despite them all being under the category of “Mat Classes.” In one class, I am twisted on aerial ribbons to elongate my stretches, and another teeter tottering on foam rollers to work on balance. While listening to a playlist that could easily be transferred to an enjoyable Sunday at home, at another class we adjusted our alignment with the arm and leg coil springs attached to the wall, a piece of equipment similar to what Joseph Pilates used.

As Trisha explains to me, Joseph Pilates designed movements to improve core muscles. Being sick as a child provided him with a lot of time observing other people and animals and recognizing that all movement comes from the core. With his observations, he developed an innovative technique to help recovering soldiers using pullies and coil springs. He immigrated to America, opened a studio, and continued to develop the machines, movements, and practices that are still used and taught today.

Trisha channels Pilates’ creativity into her classes and adds in her own warmth and fun. With short platinum blonde hair, and her workout attire including jewelry and ankle boots with two-inch heels, she does not look like your normal instructor, or 60-years-old. She credits her success to genuinely liking people.

pilates olympia

Trisha and Heather Christopher demonstrate a Pilates pull-up. (Photo credit: Trisha Hatfield Graves)

Trisha began her Pilates journey in 1993 after having a dream about Madonna doing Pilates. She commuted to the only Pilates school in the area, in Seattle, for three years to complete her training. Fully certified instructors are required to have two years of training, 1,000 apprenticeship hours, and one year of prerequisites prior to being accepted into a program. Also a writer and award winner, Trisha uses fun, touch, creativity, and spirituality to comfort, lift spirits, and welcome guests to the studio.

Opened in 2001 on State Street in Olympia, the name Pilates at Play comes from Trisha’s philosophy about the value of levity in exercise. The two main types of Pilates classes offered are Mat classes and Reformer classes. It is a common misconception that the Reformer classes (which are offered as either private sessions or four to five person group sessions) are for advanced students; however, beginners are encouraged to try both types of classes as they can be adjusted to your level.

Trisha and one of Trisha’s long-time students, Heather, both teach Pilates. In addition, the studio is a cooperative of contractors who have creative liberty to develop classes of their choosing, thus the studio and classes redefine continually. Other classes offered at the studio currently include: Barre Pilates, Aerial Pilates, Swing-a-Lates (which applies the principles of Pilates while on a swing), pole dancing, chair dancing, and Buti Yoga (a fusing of yoga, tribal dance, and plyometrics).

And these classes are not only for women. Men and women of all sizes, ages and backgrounds are encouraged to join classes. “Any lack of flexibility should be a motivating call to Pilates rather than a deterrent,” Trisha says.

During our talk, Trisha was kind enough to show me a few moves called the Reformer Jumpboard, which is basically like jumping on a trampoline while laying down. She instructs me to jump on one leg and then the other and challenges me by adding more resistance. Trisha says in all her classes she encourages the group not to take life so seriously. Maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s Trisha’s great analogies she uses to explain instructions, or maybe it’s just because I feel like a kid jumping on a trampoline, but even with the extra challenge, I’m having a hard time staying serious.

Pilates at Play is located at 515 State Ave NE. Individual classes or packages are available for purchase with a discount for military. Online scheduling system is on its way, but in the meantime, call (360-352-3444) or stop by to schedule. The class schedule is available on their website.


Bring Your Skates: Ice Skating in Early Thurston County

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:29am



By Jennifer Crooks

lucky eagleIce skating is a favorite activity usually associated with winter. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as gliding around on the ice, weightless and free—or at least trying to. A moderate climate and the nonexistence of indoor facilities in early Thurston County made wintertime ice skating a rare, outdoors, community activity—one that was greatly enjoyed by numerous  residents.

olympia history

Barnes Lake, in Tumwater, was one of the most popular lakes for ice skating in Thurston County. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

When weather conditions made ice skating possible, many people in Thurston County would become very excited. Local newspapers faithfully announced rare ice skating conditions. “Although other parts of the Sound get more or less skating during the winter months,” gushed a December 24, 1909 Morning Olympian article, “ice skating is considerable of a novelty in this city. The news that ice has formed at Barnes Lake has spread all over the city and skates of all kinds and descriptions are being pressed into service.”

Indoor ice skating rinks were developing elsewhere during the early years of Thurston County, but they were neither practical nor economical for even Olympia, let alone the smaller towns and communities that dot the region. Thus outside, wintertime skating on natural lakes and ponds was the only option.

Many settlers and later immigrants came from areas that regularly enjoyed outdoor skating, but the moderate climate in Thurston County was and remains typically unsuitable for this activity. While winters are usually rainy, they do not tend to get cold enough to solidly freeze more than puddles. What was needed for good ice skating was several days of freezing nights and bitter cold days that did not melt the ice. These conditions did not occur every year and when they did they usually lasted only a few days. For example, while 1894 and 1896 enjoyed good ice skating, in 1895 the lakes did not freeze over enough to allow for skating.

Skating lakes needed to be shallow and rather marshy to freeze over well. Thus there were only a limited number of lakes in the area that were available for skating. These included Barnes Lake (in Tumwater), Moss Lake (a small lake in Olympia near Steven’s Field that was filled in with the construction of I-5), Tollner’s Lake (near the Plumb Station community and train stop), and a marsh on Woodard Creek. Barnes Lake was a particular favorite, because it usually had good ice and was near a population center. All these lakes had to be traveled to—by foot, wagon, sleigh, or later, automobile. Having to work to get there probably made the experience even more memorable.

olympia history

The Legislative Building in snow in the 1930s or 40s. Snow is an infrequent visitor to Thurston County, the freezing conditions for outdoor ice skating even more so. Photo courtesy Washington State Digital Archives, Washington State Library Collection.

Setting up for ice skating was also difficult. The Zamboni (or ice resurfacer) was not invented yet, so people cleared the ice as best as they could. But even then the ice would not be flat and smooth. Snow on the ice and frozen plants sticking through the ice were particular problems. Moreover, many people did not own ice skates. Although they could order them from catalogues such as Sears and Roebuck, local hardware stores would often have a brisk business of making ice skates during periods of sustained icy weather.

Ice skating was primarily a community activity. The “Society” sections in local newspapers recorded numerous “parties” of people going out to skate in the evenings (days being busy with school, work, and farm chores). Children and teenagers were often noted as making up the bulk of the crowds on the ice, but older people enjoyed skating as well.

Property owners would sometimes extend a friendly invitation to the public to come and skate on lakes on or near their property. John Dodge, a businessman who owned a dry-cleaning business in Olympia, invited people out to his county home on what was then East Fourth Street and Johnson Hill (now Pacific Avenue near the junction of Lily Road in Olympia), to come skate on nearby Chamber’s Lake. “Bring your skates and come on,” he wrote for the December 22, 1921 issue of the Olympia Daily Recorder. “It doesn’t cost a thing and believe me you can have a good time.”

olympia history

An example of ice skates from a 1902 Sears and Roebuck catalog. Many Thurston County residents did not own ice skates and hardware stores did brisk business making skates during periods of sustained ice skating conditions. Photo courtesy public domain.

Later, Thurston County would have indoor ice skating for a time. Currently the nearest all-year indoor ice rink is Sprinker Rink in Spanaway, Pierce County. Also, there are several seasonal outdoor ice rinks composed of synthetic ice throughout the Puget Sound region. These include ones in Tacoma and Bellevue. On the other hand, outdoor ice skating on lakes and ponds, enjoyed for decades by many Thurston County residents, is presently enjoyed by very few people. The fun of ice skating, however, remains a constant despite significant changes in American society, culture and technology over the past century.


Further Reading

“Skaters Taste of Winter Sport.” Friday, December 24, 1909, Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA), 1.

“Boys and Girls Enjoy Skating.” Wednesday January 5, 1910, Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA), 4.

“Good Ice Skating Here.” Thursday, December 22, 1921, Olympia Daily Recorder (Olympia, WA), 1.


Olympia Celebrates the Holidays

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 3:05pm



By Olivia Richards, Avanti High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

The Thurston area is in full holiday swing. Almost all store fronts have lights in their windows. People crowd the streets to finish up their holiday shopping. Outside of the Washington Center for the Performing Arts people play in “snow” (bubbles blown out to the the street).

Many shoppers were supporting “Duck the Malls”, a holiday bazaar held by the Olympia Film Society inside Capitol Theater. Local artisans bring in their specialties and sell them to eager shoppers looking to truly buy local. The festive Gingerbread House competition benefiting Sidewalk took place at the end of November. Groups made creative gingerbread houses auctioned off with the proceeds dedicated to supporting the homeless in Olympia.  Local piano students entertained in the lobby of the west Olympia Haggen.

The spirit of the season is surely in the air.


Gingerbread house 2014 Gingerbread House 2014 Washington Center Holiday fountain night fairy village duck the malls Haggen christmas trees lighted ships 2014 Radiance herbs and massage downtown holiday Duck the Malls 2014 Percival Landing Holiday gingerbread house 2014 bucks fifth avenue haggen holiday piano duck the malls 2014 Olympia downtown holiday lights Duck the malls 2014 Olympia christmas kids Washington center holiday evergreen tree blissful wonders Olympia Holiday lights

Thurston County Receives “Smart Communities” Award

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 2:14pm



Submitted by Thurston County

In the photo left to right- Jeff Wilson and Mark Barkley of the State Commerce Department, Xandre Chateaubriand, Commissioners Karen Valenzuela and Cathy Wolfe and Lon Wyrick

In the photo left to right- Jeff Wilson and Mark Barkley of the State Commerce Department, Xandre Chateaubriand, Commissioners Karen Valenzuela and Cathy Wolfe and Lon Wyrick

Thurston County Commissioners were recently presented with a special award through Governor Jay Inslee’s “Smart Communities” program. The Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) was also recognized for their role in the Sustainable Thurston project.

TRPC lead the planning for the Creating Places, Preserving Spaces community visioning process which took three years and involved thousands of county residents.  In recognizing the effort, Xandre Chateaubriand of the Governor’s Office pointed out that Thurston County did a terrific job of coming up with a vision that will attract high quality jobs and community improvements that will benefit all residents of the county.

“Even more impressive is when multiple communities and public partners join to create a shared vision for the future.”  He went on to say the project shows a commitment to preserve, protect and enhance the quality of life we appreciate here in Washington State.

Thurston County Commission Chair Karen Valenzuela was the county’s representative to the Sustainable Thurston process.  She points out that all seven cities and towns joined with TRPC and the County to make the program a success.

“It was great to see so many people take part in a very public process over the three years.  This vision allows us to make sure that our “ship of state” is headed in the right direction to manage growth while preserving our vanishing natural resources including forests, farmlands and our limited prairie areas.”

Lon Wyrick, Director of TRPC, says he is proud of the community-wide effort in the Sustainable Thurston project and the leadership shown by the cities and the County.

“It’s important to recognize that the Commissioners were very strong leaders in making the Sustainability Plan happen and along with their support; their ideas and regional direction are key to its ongoing success.”


“The Butterfly Effect” Art Piece Finds New Home

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:04am



Submitted by Thurston County

County sponsored plastic art piece now on display at Family & Juvenile Court.

County sponsored plastic art piece, “Rise Above Plastics: The Butterfly Effect” seen here at The Washington Center, now on display at Family & Juvenile Court.

It can be hard sometimes to find a good home for unique artwork, especially when that art is 14 feet high and made up of more than 600 individually suspended pieces shaped like butterflies.

But all of those butterflies and the rest of the 35 pound piece called “Rise Above Plastics: The Butterfly Effect” have landed in their new home at the Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court building in Tumwater. The piece will be on display in the court building lobby through 2015.

Artists Carrie Ziegler and Jennifer Johnson are also both county employees, and they joined staff from Family and Juvenile Court Monday evening for a dedication ceremony for the piece. “In a way, this is a homecoming, since the project and the art in education program is sponsored by the county’s Solid Waste Division and Environmental Health Division,” said Ziegler, an educator with the county’s Solid Waste Division.

“When Jennifer and I saw this space, then realized how powerful the messages of hope, inspiration, and creating change through personal choices would be here, we knew this was the place for the piece,” Ziegler said. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better response from staff and court visitors.”

“We are really excited to host this piece, and we hope our visitors—and especially our youth—are inspired by the story of how it was created, and inspired by the imagery of hope and renewal,” said Judge Chris Wickham, who presides over Family and Juvenile Court.

procession species butterfly

It took nearly 700 students to create “The Butterfly Effect.” The project included students from many schools and community groups across Thurston County.
Photo by Carrie Ziegler.

“I am still amazed at how everything came together. The piece has such impact, and so many layers to its meaning and message, and I am still taken aback by how perfectly it fits this space,” said Court Commissioner Indu Thomas, who helps administer the court’s Student Art program.

Artists Ziegler and Johnson completed the art project with the help of nearly 700 students from 19 Thurston County schools who created the butterflies out of upcycled plastic juice

pouches. Along with the work on the art piece, students also learned tips, tricks and information to help protect the environment and their own health, including using glass or stainless steel water bottles, taking re-usable bags shopping, and heating food in non-plastic containers.

“Our goal with having local students help build the piece was to create a lasting memory for them, and also foster a sense of accomplishment and pride in being a part of something with so much impact,” said Jennifer Johnson, an outreach and education coordinator with the county’s Environmental Health Division. “Now that’s it’s here in the Family and Juvenile Court building, my hope is that even more young people in our community will be inspired by it and connect with it.”

For more information about the Thurston County Solid Waste education and youth programs,

For more information about the Student Art Program at Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court, or contact Court Commissioner Indu Thomas at (360) 709-3285

Full Circle: Local Family Pays it Forward to the Thurston County Food Bank

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 6:44am



By Kelli Samson

dkb restorationOne of my personal credos is Ghandi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” But it’s hard. Sometimes it feels like all we can do is so small that it won’t amount to anything.

But what if it did? What if we took someone’s generosity toward us and used it to help others?

That is just what Thurston County Food Bank volunteer Meredith Angeli and her husband, Capital High School alumni Dan Graham, managed to do this Thanksgiving. The two have a small family farm, and I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of a sunny Sunday afternoon with them this fall, kicking around their farmyard with four pigs, six sheep, fifteen chickens, six turkeys, and a few friendly cats and dogs. “I’m a little ambitious,” giggles Angeli.

food bank pigs

All of the animals on the Angeli-Graham farm go crazy for the waste from the Thurston County Food Bank.

I left with a smile, lungs filled with fresh air, and the feeling that we each can make a difference and should certainly try.

Angeli and Graham recently donated to the Thurston County Food Bank all 200 hundred pounds of the pork from two of their pigs, which they raised on the Food Bank’s food waste. “They are the coolest farm animal! They eat anything. There is no waste on a farm when you have pigs,”Angeli gushes.

While volunteering at the Food Bank, Angeli decided to tackle what she and her husband affectionately call “the sustainable pig project.”

She had three sources of inspiration for this generous idea. First, she is passionate about eliminating food waste. Her husband echoes this, saying, “In the summer and fall, there’s an over-abundance of food. In the winter, there’s a shortage. We’ve taken the extra from the growing season to give to a pig, which can be eaten in the winter. It extends the life cycle of that food and turns it into protein.”

food bank pigs

Four of the five farmers who raised these pigs on Food Bank waste (daughter Autumn was taking a nap). Clockwise from top left: Meredith Angeli, daughter River, Dan Graham, and baby Shaw.

Second, Angeli has a “desire to help vulnerable community members. They, more than anyone else, need to be eating a superior product,” she says.

Finally, she was inspired by our community.

“There are people and businesses in our community going out of their way to get food to the Food Bank to feed the clients of the Food Bank. When I began picking up the food waste, I felt as though the food was not meant to be mine. I know the Food Bank views my picking up the food waste as very helpful because it reduces their disposal costs. However, I felt like I wasn’t honoring the original intention of the people donating the food to the Food Bank. This was actually the feeling that inspired the idea of the sustainable pig project. We decided to take the food abundance and turn it into a high quality, freezable, nutrient and energy dense food for the Food Bank clients. In this, we felt we were honoring the intention of the original food donors,” Angeli explains.

Dave Finet, the Executive Director of the Opportunity Council in Bellingham and a fellow pig farmer, loved her idea and was so supportive of it that he donated the feeder pigs to her cause last spring when they were piglets. The pigs are a blend of the Berkshire and Tamworth breeds. Finet does a similar project with his pigs and a Bellingham soup kitchen.

food bank pigs

Two of these pigs provided over two hundred pounds of frozen pork for the patrons of the Food Bank this fall.

The pigs grew to be quite rotund and happy, I can assure you. When I visited them, they were a few days out from slaughter. Their contented grunts provided sweet background noise during our interview. “It’s such a dear sound in the beginning, but then it gets obnoxious,” laughs Angeli.

Also donating their services to see that this meat made it into the hands of the Food Bank patrons were Charles Whitcomb of T-Bone Express, a professional farm slaughtering service; and Littlerock Meats, who cut, wrapped, and froze the meat. “Neither business hesitated to help us,” says Graham.

And would they do something like this again?

“Absolutely,” says Angeli. “We’ve talked about giving eggs from our chickens.”

Ghandi was right. One person can start a chain reaction that soon becomes the work of a village. Meredith Angeli has shown us the positive change one individual is capable of affecting.

The Food Bank is always happy to take donations of paper or plastic bags and food, perishable or not, during business hours.

food bank pigs

“Four pigs equals a lot of brain power,” says owner Meredith Angeli.

Thurston County Food Bank

Open Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

220 Thurston Ave. NE

Olympia, WA 98501

(360) 352-8597

Find them on Facebook.


Appetizing Party Ideas from Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 6:00am



By Katie Hurley

appetizer party ideas

Peppadew peppers can be stuffed with a variety of fillings for a tasty and attractive bite.

The holidays are a great time to gather with friends and family for fun, food and celebration. To make the most of your time together, appetizers are a great way to feed the crowds without spending the whole party in the kitchen. Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway stores have everything you need to put together an impressive selection of appetizers for your guests and you’ll be able to do all of the prep before they arrive.

In the deli, Divino offers a great selection of olives, marinated peppers and onions and marinated feta cheese that are all great for an antipasto platter. Some good crackers and sliced Columbus Porcini salami would round out the platter nicely. The assortment of cheese at Ralph’s and Bayview is nearly endless. Marinated Peppadew peppers are sweet and crunchy with just a little bit of heat, and are a beautiful bright red bite-sized appetizer when stuffed with herbed goat cheese or cream cheese.

Locally produced Cranberry Blu artisan cheese spread from Willapa Hills Cheese is tangy and sweet, and is yummy on a nutty, grainy Raincoast Crisp cracker or rolled up in a thin slice of Boar’s Head turkey or roast beef. The creamy cheese spread also comes in Bacon Blu, Honey Chipotle and Garlic Herb flavors, all of which are great stuffed inside in fresh Ostrom’s mushrooms.

appetizer party ideas

Bel Gioioso Unwrap & Roll Mozzarella makes an easy and attractive appetizer.

Bel Gioioso’s Unwrap & Roll fresh mozzarella cheese rolls out into a thin sheet to top with any flavors you choose, roll up and slice to make attractive cheese pinwheels. Spread a thin layer of Ila’s Sundried Tomato and Basil Pesto and top with thin prosciutto slices, or change it up with horseradish sauce and thin slices of roast beef. Another tasty filling option is proscuitto and stalks of Tillen Farms pickled asparagus.

Thin, sweet waffle wafers are a surprisingly great combination with a little bit of tangy blue cheese. Cut the wafers into fourths and place a small dollop of creamy Saga blue cheese or some gorgonzola cheese on each wedge. Blue cheese is also fantastic stuffed inside pitted Medjool dates for a quick and simple appetizer.

Steve’s Hot Smoked Salmon, made in Buckley, is a repeat winner in both the professional and people’s choice categories at Westport Salmon Tales. This tender, moist, smoky salmon doesn’t need any accompaniments but a sturdy cracker to transport it into your mouth. Steve’s Hot Smoked Cheese is also delicious and packs a smoky punch – cut it into small cubes and serve with toothpicks.

appetizer party ideas

Ready-made cheese boards are available in Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway deli departments.

If you’re really in a time crunch, or you need to pick up an appetizer on your way to work or a party, a selection of ready-made cheese boards are a quick and easy answer. Three different cheeses, a wood cheese board and a cheese knife are bundled together, and some of the sets are specifically labeled and designed to be served with red wines.

Extra large cooked prawns, fresh from the seafood department, can be assembled quickly for a shrimp platter or individual shrimp cocktails. Fill a serving bowl with crushed ice, place a small bowl of cocktail sauce or wasabi tartar sauce in the center and layer the chilled prawns on the ice. Include a small bowl on the side for guests to discard the tails. Premade shrimp platters are also available in the seafood department freezer. AquaStar Coconut Shrimp make a tasty hot appetizer. Sweet Chili dipping sauce is included in the package. Simply bake the shrimp and defrost the sauce and it is ready to serve.

Whether your entertaining or heading out to a party, locally owned Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway stores have what you need. Stop by and see the options for all of your holiday appetizer needs!


appetizer party ideas

Sweet waffle wafers pair perfectly with tangy Saga blue cheese.

Bayview Thriftway

516 W. 4th Ave. in Olympia



Ralph’s Thriftway

1908 E. 4th Ave. in Olympia



Annual Tournament Raises $36,000 for JBLM Charities

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:18pm



Submitted by America’s Credit Union

turkey shoot ACU - JBLM

62nd Airlift wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sargent Drake, Ken Leonard ACU CEO/President, Mary Cron Armed Forces Community Service, David Soma PhD. Madigan Foundation, Lisa Bennett Santa’s Castle President, LT Col. Deborah Dusek 627th Airbase group Deputy Commander, 627th Air Base Group Superintendent, chief Master Sergeant Kristen Orcutt, Amy Tiemeyer ACU’s Military Relations Liaison.

America’s Credit Union (ACU), held its 14th annual Turkey Shoot, a golf tournament to support three local charities on JBLM, at Eagles Pride Golf Course.  Many local businesses and over 170 golfers participated to help raise money for Santa’s Castle, the Food Basket Program and the Madigan Foundation.

The history of the tournament has evolved throughout the years. It was originally created to help the founder of Santa’s Castle get her program off the ground. Then it was expanded to help make sure our JBLM military families have enough food for the holidays by supporting the Food Basket Program. The final piece was to help pay for military families’ medical costs, not covered through insurance, by donating to the Madigan Foundation. Because of the generous donations from the sponsors and the success of the Turkey Shoot golf tournament we were able to raise a record $36,000 to donate to all three charities.

ACU wishes to thank the following sponsors for their support of this tournament: our presenting sponsor Northwest Motorsport, Toyota of Olympia, Tacoma Dodge, Tacoma Nissan, and Fiat of Tacoma for being our Big Turkey Sponsors. We would also like to thank Sunset Chevrolet & Hawks Prairie Rotary for being our Banquet Sponsors; the Nacho Bar was very much appreciated. Our Trophy sponsor was Tags Trophies and Awards. Our Little Turkey Sponsors were; BMW-NW, Print NW, Tactical Tailor, The Fort Lewis Ranger and Airlifter, and Cascade Print Media. Hole Sponsors were Car Pros, Proforma Strategic Advantage LLC, The Madigan Foundation,  Omni Financial, Cook Security Group, Albers & Company, US Family Health Plan, Sound Credit Union, Designer Decal, CUNA Mutual, Allied Solutions, Geico, West Coast Publishing,  AUSA Captain Meriwether-Lewis chapter, the Puyallup Subchapter of CML Chapter of AUSA, USO NW, Costco, CU Direct, INSI, Raddon Financial Group, The Cart Sponsors were Evergreen Home Loans, ACU Financial Services, Boom Creative, Clear Channel Outdoor, and Lakewood Ford. This year, all the military that played were sponsored by businesses including Immedia, Access Softek, Arrow Cleaning, Clear Channel Outdoor, Edward Jones, The Defense CU Coalition, USO NW, the Madigan Foundation, and Evergreen Home Loans. We’d like to thank Walmart Lakewood Store for donating 20 turkeys, Costco for bringing hand warmers and Dimitri’s Gourmet Mixes for continuing to make the event one that helps our golfers brave the elements in the spirit of charity.

Kenneth S. Leonard, President/CEO of ACU, shared with everyone the meager beginnings of the tournament and the commitment he has to our military. Ken is quoted as saying, “it’s a passion to grow this event each year in support of our military and all they do on a daily basis.”  Ken and all the sponsors are honored to contribute to the morale and welfare of our military and their families.

Thurston County Association of REALTORS® Installs New Board

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:12pm



Submitted by Thurston County Association of Realtors®

olympia real estate agent

Diane and Jeff Pust

The Thurston County Association of REALTORS® installed the 2015 Officers and Directors during recent ceremonies at the Indian Summer Golf and Country Club in Olympia, Washington.  The local association of 550 REALTOR® members provides professional real estate services to buyers and sellers primarily in the Thurston County area and are always working to protect property rights and our quality of life in Washington State.

The incoming Officers are:  President-Diane Pust, Van Dorm Realty; President-Elect-Jerry Wilkins, Van Dorm Realty; Secretary-Rae Anne Toth, Keller Williams Realty; Treasurer-Bobby Kelly, Sound Advantage Realty; Treasurer-Elect-Necia Leach, Thurston County Title; Past President-Randy Reynolds, Weichert Reynolds Real Estate.

The incoming Directors are: Polly Barber, Prudential Olympia Realtors; Tammy Adams, Virgil Adams Real Estate; Katy Crofts, Keller Williams Realty; Kevin Gordham, Keller Williams Realty; Stacie Jarvela, First American Title Insurance Co.; Catherine Johnson, Chicago Title Insurance Co.; Amanda Heitz, Greene Realty Group; Quint Newell, Greene Realty Group; and Dennis Adams, Virgil Adams Real Estate.

Incoming President Diane Pust said she looks forward to working with the association leaders and members, “to ensure our future success through increased political advocacy, dynamic member services and professional development as well as grass roots member involvement on the local community level.”


Timberland Reads & Writes Together in 2015

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:08pm



Submitted by Timberland Regional Library

olympia library history

Olympia’s Carnegie Library, as seen in this historic postcard, was the pride of the community when it opened in 1914. Courtesy Private Collection.

Celebrating and supporting creative talent in Southwest Washington

The selected book for next October’s Timberland Reads Together (TRT) program doesn’t yet exist. It will be written and designed locally, between January 1 and March 31, 2015 by talented residents in the five county region served by the Timberland Regional Library (TRL). It will become the Timberland Writes Together Anthology.

In the old days, public libraries had one simple mission: to collect, care for (curate) and make freely available to all citizens as many printed books and documents as possible. Hundreds of years later, libraries still collect and curate, but in addition, they have become powerful creative forces, inspiring and supporting new artistic, intellectual and cultural expression.

In this spirit, the selected writers and cover artist will not only be guaranteed an audience during the month-long community reading program, they will be paid at fair market rate for their work.

Local writers and artists may submit short fiction and cover art beginning January 1, 2015. Details are available at under the “Program” heading

Stories should be between 2,000-8,000 words in length and should reflect a sense of optimism. They may be of any genre, set in the past, present, or future, and may contain dark elements, but in the main, should inspire a sense of hope.

All programs at Timberland libraries are free and open to the public.



Stalnik Strikes With 12 Seconds Left to Lift Oly Town Artesians to Incredible Comeback Victory

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:00pm



Submitted by Oly Town Artesians

GAME RECAP: Oly Town Artesians 7, Arlington Aviators 6

oly town fcThe Oly Town Artesians scored three goals over less than two minutes in the fourth quarter and Matt Stalnik’s strike with 12.5 seconds left broke a 6-6 tie and handed the Artesians a 7-6 win over the Arlington Aviators in Western Indoor Soccer League action on Saturday night. Wille Spurr and Greg Wolfe each scored twice and the Artesians moved into sole possession of second place in the WISL with the win.

The night got off to a rip-roaring start for the Artesians when Greg Wolfe struck on the first possession just 15 seconds into the game off an assist from Matt Stalnik. Aaron Burns tied the game up seven minutes later and the Aviators took the lead on a Russ Brown power play goal with 2:15 left in the first quarter. Oly’s Willie Spurr went into the air and found the back of the net on a fantastic goal with 30 second left and the first 15 minutes ended with the two teams tied 2-2.

Winfred Smith drew first blood in the second quarter to put the Aviators up 3-2 at the 13:30 mark. The lead wouldn’t last long as Martin Ramirez scored 90 seconds later to pull the Artesians even at 4-4. But the blue cards mounted for the Artesians and the Aviators scored their second power play goal of the game when Miguel Fajardo found the back of the net and the half ended with Arlington on top, 4-3.

The two teams went scoreless in the third but erupted four six goals in the final period. The Aviators struck first when Burns streaked past the Artesians defense and beat keeper Mauricio Sanchez one-on-one to give Arlington a 5-3 lead. They looked perfectly in control dominating possession and limiting Artesians shots through the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Then the Artesians woke up. Spurr got Oly to within a goal, 5-4, at the 4:48 mark. Less than a minute later, Nate Salveson unleashed a howler that beat Aviators keeper Eric Cruz to tie the game 5-5. Following a turnover on the restart after Salveson’s goal, Wolfe scored his second of the game just ten second later to give Oly the 6-5 lead.

With 3:10 left, the Aviators were shown a blue card to put the Artesians on the power play for two minutes and it looked like Oly would coast to the finish line. But Brown found the side of the net with 1:30 left to play and it looked like the Oly Town comeback would fall just short of the W.

But with 12.5 seconds left, Stalnik placed himself on the back post and when a shot across the box found him in the perfect position to drill one home and give the Artesians a 7-6 lead. Stalnik, for is effort, was slammed into the boards by the Aviators’ Andrew Escalante on a late and reckless challenge and suffered a nasty looking injury to his knee. The extent of the injury will not be known for a couple of days.

After a lengthy delay for the injury, Escalante was shown a red card for his challenge and a blue card was issued to the Artesians’ Ramirez for arguing, the Aviators had one last shot but Sanchez made another save and the Artesians were able to run out the clock on a 7-6 comeback win over the Aviators.

With the win, the Artesians picked up three more points and sit alone in second place behind the Tacoma Stars. Oly leapfrogged Wenatchee, who fell to Tacoma 12-6 on their home field, and Bellingham, who were idle on Saturday night. Oly travels to Whatcom County next week to take on Bellingham United at 7:30 PM.

The Oly Town Artesians return to Olympia Indoor Soccer after the Holidays and will get a rematch with Bellingham on January 3rd. First kick is scheduled for 6:00 PM and advance tickets are available at

December Razor Clam Update

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:28pm



Submitted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The second December 2014 recreational razor clam opener is proceeding as planned. The marine toxin tests have been completed and the Washington Department of Health has found razor clam digrazor clams are safe for human consumption. The following are the dates and locations of this razor clam harvest opportunity. Note that digging is only allowed on PM tides:

  • Dec. 19, Friday; 4:41 p.m., 0.0 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 20, Saturday, 5:23 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
  • Dec. 21, Sunday, 6:06 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 22, Monday, 6:48 p.m., -1.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Dec. 23, Tuesday, 7:31 p.m., -1.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

Please be aware that every beach is not open every day. Having the flexibility to offer variable beach openers allows us to provide more harvest opportunity.

Note that during this period, the Kalaloch beach will not be open and the Copalis management beach will only be open one day. The Copalis management beach includes: Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and the Copalis areas.  If you want to know more about how we set openers, please check out our 2014 Razor Clam Management Update here.

A description of each beach and a map can be found here.

For more details, see our news release at the following web link.

NEW! : If have ever wondered how to dig razor clams with your kids, check out the video here.


Olympia Native Wins Book Awards for Guide to Successful Marriage

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:25pm



Submitted by Ramona Zabriskie

Olympia native Ramona Zabriskie and her husband Dale on stage at the 2014 Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards, receiving the silver medal from CEO, Debra Gaynor.

Olympia native Ramona Zabriskie and her husband Dale on stage at the 2014 Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards, receiving the silver medal from CEO, Debra Gaynor.

Pacific Northwest author and Olympia native, Ramona Zabriskie, has won a silver medal in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards and has been named a finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for her work, Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage. She received the Reader’s Favorite medal in Miami, Florida on November 22 at the Miami International Book Fair.

Author Zabriskie was thrilled when she found out that her book had been recognized by two different competitions. “To be appreciated by readers in the Reader’s Favorite International contest, and then also by publishing professionals in the USA Best Books Awards affirms both my content and approach,” she said. “After years of research and writing, that means a lot to me.”

When asked what makes Wife for Life a stand-out in the Self-Help: Relationships category, Zabriskie said that she is not your typical relationship-expert; her know-how comes from 37 years of real-life experience, including surviving a near-divorce in her early marriage. Based on her subsequent experience, study, and professional mentoring, Zabriskie believes that couples do not have to settle for a “good” or even a “great” marriage. She advocates what she calls “grand” marriage: a legacy-type union between a visionary husband and wife.

Though Zabriskie and her husband, Dale, are now residents of Ridgefield, just north of Vancouver, Washington, the author grew up in Thurston County and graduated from Olympia High School. Her ancestors were city pioneers, and her parents, Ray and Sharon Messegee, who have been married for over 50 years, still live in the Olympia home built by Zabriske’s great-grandfather.

In addition to her book, the author offers personal mentoring, as well as webinars and classes through her online educational arm: Wife for Life University. For more information go to


United Ways from Washington and Oregon Form Regional Organization

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:12pm



Submitted by United Way of Thurston County

united way lewis

United Way is a vital part of the support network for the community.

United Way Associations in Washington and Oregon are joining together to have a stronger impact on education, income and health outcomes in the Pacific Northwest.

Thirty-nine United Ways in the multi-state region, including United Way of Thurston County agreed to form United Ways of the Pacific Northwest last month and will participate in this enhanced regional trade association. Each local United Way is fully independent and focused on their local community. By coming together in this larger regional strategic collaboration, they will be able to do more for their local communities as well as have a wider impact regionally.  United Ways of the Pacific Northwest supports training and skill development for local United Way staff and boards, advocates for state level public policy and systems change and supports initiatives to grow the value and outcomes of United Ways across the region.

“We’re excited about the possibilities moving forward,” said Executive Director of United Way of Thurston County, Paul Knox. “By working together, we will be able to do more for our communities,” he added. Knox was the Chair of United Ways of Washington in 2014 and will continue to serve on the executive committee of the newly formed organization.

The current president and CEO of United Ways of Washington, Jim Cooper, will play the same role for the new, expanded organization.

“At the end of the day, collaborating throughout the region will help us bring in additional resources and make it possible to have a larger impact on the communities we serve,” said Cooper.

The new organization includes 23 members from United Ways of Washington and 16 from the Association of United Ways in Oregon. Two longtime members of United Ways of Washington are headquartered in Idaho.

The full slate of officers for United Ways of the Pacific Northwest include:

Chair: Dennis Smith (President and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County)

Vice Chair: Keith Thomajan (President and CEO of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette)

Treasurer: Peter Theisen (President and CEO of United Way of Whatcom County)

Secretary: Debra Lancaster (Executive Director, United Way of Skagit County)

Past Chair: Paul Knox (Executive Director, United Way of Thurston County)


The new organization can be found online , on Facebook  and on Twitter @UWPNW.


Community Toy and Fund Drive Helps Brighten Holidays

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:05pm



Submitted by Mixx 96.1

Whatever the weather, and sometimes its frightful, every year around the holidays the staff of Mixx 96.1 KXXO and a crew of intrepid volunteers spend a day out on the street collecting toys and cash for families in need of extra assistance.

Broadcasting live from outside their studios at the corner of State and Washington streets in downtown Olympia, Mixx 96.1 FM is holding their “Wrapping up the Holidays” Toy & Fund Drive Friday, December 19.

The station is stressing cash donations this year as O Bee Credit Union will match the first $2,500 received and have an online donation site. The drive takes on more urgency with cuts to social programs and families having trouble meeting their basic needs. “While our neighbors are struggling,” said Mixx 96.1 program director John Foster, “we want to make sure their kids have Christmas.”

Recipient groups include the Holiday Connection (a consortium of area non-profits) and Barb’s Family & Friends. Mixx 96.1 handles all of the administrative costs so that every dollar goes directly to gifts for the families served.

Mixx 96.1 Station Manager Toni C. Holm said, “We’re always amazed and humbled by the incredible generosity of our community. It is an honor to be associated with such a caring group.”

Additional details on the drive and its recipients may be found at

Christmas Forest Raises $630,000, Captures Imagination of the Community

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:01pm



Submitted by Providence St. Peter Foundation

christmas forest

Attendees at the Gala pledge support for fund-a-need expanding palliative care. Photo courtesy Providence St. Peter Foundation

Providence St. Peter Foundation announced today that the 27th annual Christmas Forest raised $630,000, matching last year’s all-time high for funds raised. The event, sponsored by Titus Will, benefits the mission of Providence to provide health care to all, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable.

“We live in an amazingly generous community,” says Mick Phillips, a Providence St. Peter Foundation board member and local attorney who co-chaired Christmas Forest this year. “From the volunteers who spend countless hours planning and decorating, to donors who challenge us to turn a vision into reality, we all work toward a common goal. And that is to provide excellent and compassionate care for those in need.”

More than $250,000 was raised to create an outpatient palliative care clinic, the focus of this year’s fund-a-need. “The goal of palliative care is to come to the patient and help them live the best life possible, for as long as possible,” said Providence Palliative Care Medical Director Dr. Gregg VandeKieft. “Our team is trained to help relieve pain and suffering caused by serious illnesses, so the patient may live the fullest life they can.”

christmas forest

Raffle tree winner, Juanita Sharbaugh, with daughters Sue (left), and Sally (right). Photo courtesy Providence St. Peter Foundation

Olympia resident Becky Brewer was an early supporter of expanding palliative care to the outpatient setting. Her husband, Ron Sundberg, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and received palliative care while an inpatient at Providence St. Peter Hospital, before his death in 2013. Becky shared their story in a video for the gala, and says, “Ron would be so happy to know that it will be easier for other people to be more comfortable while facing the challenges that serious illnesses bring to their lives.”

This year’s raffle, sponsored by McKinney’s Appliance, held special significance for one family. A week before visiting Christmas Forest, 93-year-old Juanita Sharbaugh was hospitalized to monitor a spike in her blood pressure. Her daughter, Olympia resident Sally Sharbaugh says, during that time, “We had to miss a family holiday event, so Christmas Forest was our first family event we did afterward being released from the hospital, and we were trying to make a really positive experience for mom.” Sally purchased raffle tickets to support the Providence mission, and won the raffle tree, A Sweet Old Fashioned Christmas, designed by JoAnn Green and Lois Miles.

Sally says, “My mom raised five kids, so a classic World War II tree was the perfect tree for my mom, and captures all the memories we have growing up.” The tree will be the centerpiece of the family Christmas this year, the first year that the family will celebrate at Juanita’s house after her husband’s passing just a few years ago.

During the five-day event, thousands of visitors came to see the trees and wreaths that were decorated by dedicated volunteers. During public viewing, 20 different artistic groups from the community delighted attendees including Alleluia! Handbell Ensemble, Olympia Youth Chorus, and many local piano students. Stacey Genzlinger, Foundation events manager, estimates 300 volunteers participated, contributing more than 10,000 hours of their time to create this year’s Christmas Forest.

Providence St. Peter Foundation develops and provides philanthropic resources that help assure that compassionate and quality health care is available to the communities we serve, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. In the last three years, the foundation has distributed more than $4.3 million to local Providence ministries including St. Peter Hospital, SoundHomeCare and Hospice and Mother Joseph Care Center. Learn more at


Imaginative Theater Education Programs All Winter Long at Olympia Family Theater

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 1:00pm



Submitted by Olympia Family Theater 

olympia family theater

During Spring Break, campers rehearse and perform an entire play at Olympia Family Theater.
Photo credit: Mandy Ryle

Olympia Family Theater is your community partner in raising imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children. Our educational programs provide opportunities for personal development for young people, teaching creativity and responsibility, encouraging teamwork and personal integrity, and fostering self-esteem and appreciation for the performing arts.

Our education programs are divided into camps (mostly 1 week long, during school breaks) and workshops (typically 4 weeks long, throughout the year). Below is our offerings for Winter 2014-15.

Winter Wonderland Musical Theater Camp (Ages: 7-13)

SESSION 1: Dec 22 / Dec 23 / Dec 26    9am-3pm

SESSION 2: Dec 29 / Dec 30 / Jan 2    9am-3pm

Description: These will be adventurous days of fast-paced musical theater fun. Kids will experience acting, singing, dancing/movement, scene study, and improvisation in the morning and will rehearse each afternoon as they prepare to perform selections from Broadway musicals arranged specifically for kids! Selections may include pieces from Frozen, Into the Woods, Bye Bye Birdie, Once on this Island, AND MORE!

Workshop Teacher: Vanessa Postil

Schedule: 3 days each week (Monday/Tuesday/Friday) 9am-3pm

Cost: $110/session



From Page To Stage (Ages: 10-16)

SESSION: January 5 – 25

Description: Using favorite children’s books, poems and literature, we’ll write, direct, cast, act, costume, build props and design a play! After performing on the OFT mainstage, we’ll take our show on the road and perform for local children and their families.  We’re going to do it all in 3 weeks!Olympia family theater new home

Workshop Teacher: Kate Ayers

Public Performances: January 23, 24 and 25

Schedule:  January 5 – 25, 4-6pm (M-F)

Cost: $190 (sliding scale available)



A Monster Tale (Ages: 7 – 13)

SESSION: February 2 – March 1

Description: Ack! There’s something in the closet!  Eeek!  Something’s under the bed!  Maybe it’s a monster… Ack?  Somethings peeking out of the closet!  Eeek!  Something’s up above our heads!  Maybe it’s a person…  Is something…In there?  Under there?  Out there?  Up there?

Come find out in “A Monster Tale”, an Original Production written by Kate Ayers.  This 4  week workshop is designed for kids to have fun and gain performing arts skills and experience while rehearsing a play.

Workshop Teacher: Kate Ayers

Schedule:  February 2 – March 1, 4-6pm (M-F)

Public Performances: February 27, 28 and March 1

Cost: $250 (Sliding Scale Available)


Registration for all of our programs is available on our website. Registration forms are available on our website for those that prefer to pay by check. We offer sliding scale tuition for our after school workshops.  Sliding scale is applied during online registration. We offer scholarships for our break camps. Applications are available on the camp registration page and must be received 1 month before the camp begins.


Rob Rice Homes’ Season of Giving is Year-Round

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 8:10am



Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes

The Rice family believes in giving back to the community they love.

The Rice family believes in giving back to the community they love.

Throughout the entire year Rob Rice and his family generously provide time and support for organizations where they can make a real difference.

“We feel it is our responsibility to give back to the community where we have been building homes for more than 30 years,” says Rob. “This is where we live, work and raise our children, and we want to help make it a better place for our family and those in the communities we build.”

Their efforts extend far beyond issuing a check to the causes they believe in, they back their support with real action. In 2011 Rob and his wife Helena had determined that they needed to specify a goal for annual giving so they made the decision to prioritize children’s needs and homeless pets as causes to help. Now they extend their hands and hearts to two organizations that improve the lives of children and that aid rescue animals.

“There are so many well-deserving charities in our community but we needed to pinpoint two so we could really make a difference,” says Helena.

Caring for Animals

“When I married Rob, I had three rescue dogs and he was living in a pet-free home; it was quite a change for him,” laughs Helena, who grew up in a family that has always helped animals in need. “It didn’t take long though and within a few months he was traveling around with one of my dogs and even taking her to the office to work for the day.”

Now she says Rob has a soft heart for rescue animals, even picking them up in communities where he builds to make sure they get to their

 "Lewis"  was lucky to be rescued by Rob Rice on I-5.

“Lewis” was lucky to be rescued by Rob Rice on I-5.

homes or a shelter where they can be helped.

“Just recently Rob stopped on I-5 on the North Fork Lewis River Bridge in Clark County when he saw a confused dog running in the freeway,” Helena says. “Rob had to crawl underneath

a truck to eventually get the poor thing out. Rob brought the dog home, took him for veterinary care and we took care of him until we found the perfect owner. One of our staff is now the dog’s proud owner so Rob still gets to see ‘Lewis’ who is named after the bridge where he was rescued.”

Every year, the Rice’s, along with other business owners, sponsor a fundraising auction for Concern for Animals, an organization that for 34 years has assisted low income families with the food and medical needs of their pets and rescue animals. But they wanted to do more.

“Rob and Helena met with us and asked how they could help us,” says Janey Hanson president of Concern for Animals. “We had bought an older 1920s home for our offices after operating out of people’s homes for years. We showed them our lengthy wish list so they could pick a project. What happened next was amazing.”

The new Concern for Animals building was completely remodeled by Rob Rice and his sub-contractors at no charge.

The new Concern for Animals building was completely remodeled by Rob Rice and his sub-contractors at no charge.

Janey says that the local builder sought the help of many of his sub-contractors who donated their time and materials to completely remodel the home. Rob even assigned one of his superintendents to coordinate the work. The long list of sub-contractors who contributed is on the group’s website.

“They cleaned out our project wish list,” says Janey. “They even sent in a designer so we could pick our color pallet. They remodeled the kitchen with new flooring, cabinets, counters and backsplash; they fixed a major drainage problem under the house and repaired the basement so we had plenty of room for our food bank. They painted, fixed our ceiling, worked on our heating system and did electrical work and even leveled our parking lot. The list is long.”

The group says it would have taken years to complete but Rob and his sub-contractors did it all in just a few months resulting in an office and food bank that will help hundreds of pet owners and their animals.

Contributing to Kids 

“Our son Alex attended the Hands On Children’s Museum of Olympia school for 3 years,” says Helena. “When Rob and I went to his first parent-teacher conference, we realized what a unique learning atmosphere it is and how beneficial the museum is to children in our community, so we decided we wanted to donate our time and resources to this great institution.”

Helena began co-chairing the museum’s fundraising breakfast that provides admission for Free Friday Night and then when the new museum was in design stages both she and Rob agreed to provide an entire exhibit that offers kids an experience in construction, a field they know a bit about. The Build It! exhibit allows children to don hard hats and safety goggles while they use builder boards to build a home or they create a Keva structure.

Around the Community

Rob Rice Home sponsored the "Build It!" Exhibit at The Hands On Children's Museum.

The Build It! exhibit, contributed by the Rice’s, gets rave reviews at the Hands on Children’s Museum.

There are many other organizations where Helena and Rob donate their time and resources.

Rob is a lifetime director for the Olympia Master Builders Association and an active board member of Thurston Economic Development Council. He is also well known for presiding over the Home Owners Associations in the communities he builds to help maintain their quality and value.

Rob is a founder of Thurston First Bank, initially helping to start the bank and currently chairing several committees for its board. Helena is a shareholder in the bank as well.

Helena has served on boards for the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council and the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and currently volunteers for the PTO program at East Olympia Elementary, Alex’s school.

The Rice’s support Saint Martin’s University, Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County and the South Sound YMCA and Rob coaches most of his children’s sports teams, whether it is basketball, football or baseball.

Helena admits it all keeps them very busy yet they don’t usually turn away requests for help.

“We feel overjoyed to help out this amazing community,” she says. “It is a proven fact that people who give are happier and healthier. That is sure true in our family’s case.”

Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013. He has built more than 3000 homes over the last 30 years. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons; Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.