Thurston Talk

Syndicate content
Community-Based Social Media
Updated: 22 hours 47 min ago

New Attorney Brings Family and Workforce Expertise to Crowe Law

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 12:40pm



Submitted by The Crowe Law Office

crowe law office

Holly Scott enjoys her new office at Crowe Law in downtown Yelm.

Holly Scott believes that the legal profession is a service industry. “That’s something Dan Crowe and I share, an understanding that we’re helping people with problems they can’t necessarily deal with on their own,” she says. In January, Scott joined The Crowe Law Office in Yelm, bringing a wealth of experience in workforce issues and a familiarity with family law.

Before law, she had a career as a human resources professional. While at a power plant that served hospitals and medical facilities in Boston, she got to know many of the workers. “They were all union crew,” she says. “I learned a lot about labor law through them, but being in HR I was also navigating employment law through the non-represented employees. I got involved in that whole process and really interested in that type of law.”

After graduating from Seattle University Law School, Scott worked for the Department of Labor and Industries and later, the Employment Security Department. “Working for L & I, I was dealing with a lot of wage complaints, farm workers and child labor issues,” she says. Mostly, she focused on the legislative process, although she also worked closely with those who answered the wage complaint hotline. “Most of the calls were from people who weren’t getting paid their wages, experiencing wage theft, or people who weren’t getting their meal and rest breaks properly applied,” she says.

At Crowe Law, Scott will be focused on general practice. “Whatever comes up,” she says.

In addition to her regular job, Scott volunteers regularly with Thurston County Volunteer Legal Services and in King County. A lot of those cases involve family law, and the experience helps to keep her contributions in perspective.

“Right now, I have a few pro bono cases that are really tough situations,” she says. “Every time I see some of these clients, I’m awed by what huge things they are doing. In some cases, relatives are taking in children of family members to make sure that they’re taken care of, because the alternatives would be tragic. I’m just helping these amazing people do what needs to be done.”

Coming from Boston to Seattle to Olympia to Yelm, Scott has definitely noticed some differences. “Everybody knows each other, which is a really cool thing for me,” she says. “You go to Thurston County Bar Association functions and you know everyone in the room. You go to court, you see people that you know.”

In Yelm, she’s getting to know whole families, which brings her full circle. “I’m originally a small town girl from Reno, Nevada and then went and became a city girl, and now I’m back to a small town and all the adventures that come with that.”

The Crowe Law Office offers comprehensive legal services, including criminal defense, family law, estate planning, business law, real estate and civil litigation. For more information visit, send an email to or call 360.960.8366.


This Coffee Break Brought to You by Your Neighborhood Thriftway

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 8:24am



batdorf coffee

Josh, Batdorf and Bronson’s Northwest Outreach Coordinator serves coffee at Bayview Thriftway. Photo credit: Batdorf and Bronson.

Sports, politics, and religion are topics on which everyone has an opinion. In Olympia, there’s a fourth entry into this hot-button arena: coffee. Everyone has their favorite blend of beans, roast, brewing method, and retailer.

Like many passions, coffee even has its own language to learn. Who could have known that the patois of the twenty-first century would include such phrases as “I’d like a triple, venti, soy, no foam latte” or “Make that a grande, quad, non-fat, one-pump, no-whip mocha to go, please.”

For those of us who prefer fewer steps to our morning (noon, and night) mug o’ joy, the savvy buyers at Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway carry our region’s pride and joy: Heavenly-smelling, locally crafted beans from downtown Olympia’s Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters.

Kevin Stormans, president of Stormans Inc, the locally-owned parent company behind Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftways, is himself a huge Batdorf fan. He explains that they began selling the freshly-roasted beans more than 10 years ago. Their Bayview location was remodeled to repair damage sustained in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and that’s when bulk coffee was added and became one of the company’s most popular items.

Stormans sought out Batdorf coffee as part of his mission to “support local businesses in every area of the store.” He chose them because they offer a premier, well-known product which compliments a successful, community-focused corporate mindset. Stormans and his team love this coffee so much that it is the brand brewed and served in their Fourth Avenue company offices.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that 54% of Americans over 18 drink coffee every day, with average consumption being three cups daily. As a nation, it’s estimated that we spend $40 billion on coffee annually.

With that level of devotion to our daily pick-me-up, roasters like Batdorf and Bronson are an ideal choice. Not only do they “put immense effort into sourcing and roasting fresh beans for coffee and espresso enthusiasts who crave quality and consistency” but “our pursuit of excellence extends to the way we conduct business. We strive to meet the challenge of sustainability with every decision we make. We offer Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Bird-Friendly and Shade Grown coffees. We continuously work to lighten our environmental footprint through recycling and the purchase of 100% renewable energy.”

batdorf coffee

Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway began selling Batdorf and Bronson’s freshly roasted beans about ten years ago.

This echoes the Stormans mission to “fulfill our customers’ needs, and exceed their expectations” and “provide our customers a wide selection of fresh, high quality products with exceptional service and value.”

Try to imagine any event, from church social to business meeting, without the humble presence of coffee. Whether you measure out your life with coffee spoons or appreciate the cheerful delights of a coffee klatch, few things so color our days.

Next time you’re at Bayview or Ralph’s Thriftway stores picking up the necessities or creating a personalized, online shopping list, don’t forget to bring home a supply of Batdorf and Bronson’s finest. Your friends, family, and anyone downwind will surely thank you for it.

Visit Bayview Thriftway at 516 West 4th or Ralph’s Thriftway at 1908 East 4th in Olympia.

Capital Cougarettes Prepare to Leave It All on the Dance Floor

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:45am



By Claire Smith, Capital High School Intern to ThurstonTalk

russell bode dentistryState. It’s a word that gets any high school sports team or organization’s blood pumping. And if there’s one team who can’t wait for their state competition, it’s the Capital High School Cougarettes.

The Cougarettes have trained vigorously over the past eleven months for this big finale. They have qualified to compete in the 3A state competition in the military, pom, and dance categories. Last year, they earned second in military and won the pom division. Their pom routine had the highest score at state of any routine – 290.4 out of a possible 300 points. Eager to come back with just as much energy this year, the Cougarettes haven’t been wasting a single moment of the 2014-2015 season.

The Cougarettes get fired up for their award winning pom routine.

The Cougarettes get fired up for their award winning pom routine.

These ladies train six days a week, anywhere from two to six hours depending on the day. The girls in the dance routine often stay later to get a little extra practice. It takes dedication beyond measure, but the Cougarettes create a sisterhood within the gym walls making it fun. Freshman Annabel Parody, who danced ten years prior to joining the Cougarettes this season, says, “Drill is such a close knit group of girls – we are all a family.”

Their dedication certainly shows. The Cougarettes haven’t returned from a competition with anything lower than a third place finish, and have collected nineteen trophies over this season alone. On March 7, at the district competition, the Cougarettes were Triple Champions for 2A/3A schools, earning first in every routine, and had the fifth highest overall score in their military routine.

The Cougarettes also received an award this season bringing pride to all of Capital High School. The Cougarettes are the Academic State Champions for 3A schools. Their combined GPA is the highest of any school in the state. Not only are these girls powerful dancers, but they’re also a force to be reckoned with in the classroom.

At the districts competition, the Cougarettes got first in every category they competed in. This is the fifth consecutive year they’ve been district champions.

At the districts competition, the Cougarettes earned first place in every category they competed in. This is the fifth consecutive year they’ve been district champions.

It’s not just all work and no play for the Cougarettes. They participate in community activities, such as the Big Brother and Big Sisters auction, where they danced a routine choreographed to fit the event’s Great Gatsby theme. They also have fun practices, playing the infamous “Ships and Sailors,” and coordinate Spirit Weeks where they dress up to match a theme.

The Cougarettes don’t view dance as a sport that requires grueling effort. “We see it as a way to express ourselves,” captain Carina Valtierra says. Anyone who’s ever seen the Cougarettes dance understand this – the passion and joy they feel is expressed across their face and through their bodies.

The team has learned skills far beyond simple dance steps. They’ll finish this season with so many powerful and positive thoughts. Co-captain Nancy Lang sums it up perfectly when she states, “Even through the tough times, you have to keep pushing and believe in yourself and your teammates. Without a single ounce of hope, you won’t get anywhere. The power of positive thinking can do almost anything, and that’s what drives our success.”

The team’s foundation is built on positive thinking and they thrive on it. If you listen closely, the dancers will yell encouragement at each other throughout their routines. Every time they hit the floor, they believe in themselves and what they can accomplish as a team.

The Cougarettes are led by coaches Jan Kiefer and Jaci Gruhn. The team’s leadership consists of captains Kristelle Cariaga, Carina Valtierra, co-captains Isabelle Shrestha, Nancy Lang, and lieutenants, Maddie Soran and Ella Collins.

 Annabel Parody, Maddie Soran, Amy Ly, Isabelle Shrestha, Nancy Lang, Ally Barton, Ella Collins, Carina Valtierra, Kristelle Cariaga. )

The nine girls who compete in the dance routine. From left to right, back to front: Annabel Parody, Maddie Soran, Amy Ly, Isabelle Shrestha, Nancy Lang, Ally Barton, Ella Collins, Carina Valtierra, Kristelle Cariaga.

These ladies have become who they are thanks to Coaches Kiefer and Gruhn. Kiefer has coached for eighteen years and is 100% dedicated every day. She and Gruhn are early to every practice and give the team their full attention. With her “smidges,” Kiefer makes sure the girls have precise formations and spacing, while Gruhn makes sure the girls are always trying to get to the next technical level. But these two amazing women are more than just coaches. They are shoulders for the girls to cry on, ears always ready to listen, and hearts that couldn’t possibly give more love if they tried. They’re the perfect balance and often call each other “yin and yang.”

There are two seniors, nine juniors, eight sophomores and four freshmen on the team this year. Very few members of the team have prior dance experience. Coaches Kiefer and Gruhn judge tryouts on potential, not starting skill. The hours the Cougarettes put in clearly shows when it comes time to perform.

There’s also a special chemistry the Cougarettes have that make them unique. “We fight for each other. We are really close to each other on this team – we’re like sisters. We fight, we love, we do everything that a family would do,” says co-Capitan Isabelle Shrestha. “Dance team is family.”

All the work these ladies have put in is about to pay off. On Friday, March 27 at the Yakima Valley Sundome, the Cougarettes will compete one last time as the 2014-2015 team in 2015 Dance/Drill State Championships and leave it all on the floor.

Good luck ladies, your music is on…



On the Hunt for Spring Treasures to Celebrate Easter and Passover

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 6:00am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

easter recipes

These individual egg cups can display your dyed eggs or hold your morning breakfast.

I hold a warm place in my heart for the Easter Bunny. One Christmas my toddler had a clear aversion to getting his photo taken with the big man in the furry red suit. However, the following spring we came upon a lithe, friendly Easter Bunny at the mall who was available for pictures. My son clamored into the rabbit’s lap with nary a peep. I still like that photo. There will be no mall photo this year (he’s in college) but you can bet the Easter Bunny is stopping by to drop off a few selected chocolates.

Whether your celebrations are of a religious nature, such as the Jewish Passover or the Christian resurrection, or if you are welcoming the beginnings of spring and a visit by the Easter Bunny, you will find supplies are abundant both Ralph’s Thriftway and Bayview Thriftway stores.

While it’s true that neither locally-owned grocery store is huge, that means all space is at a premium. I am continually impressed with the variety and quality I find both in produce (locally grown choices) and in the various aisles. Maybe you are hunting for a dessert. Bayview has a case of tempting delights. It’s just you? Opt for a spring decorated petit fours. Alaska Silk Pie Company creations come in numerous varieties. Fudge is made on-site. How about butterscotch chewy praline? There are far more choices than days in a month!

easter recipes

Flowers bring the spring season inside and brighten your table.

If you are feeding a large group, you might like a Hempler’s Gourmet Semi-Boneless ham. They can weigh over seven pounds. A Niman Ranch uncured ham steak might work better for a more intimate meal. For your convenience, Ralph’s has a concentrated display of Passover foods: potato kugel mix, crackers, chicken consommé and gefilte fish and even horseradish sauce.

At both stores, the areas around the cash registers are well worth browsing. Plush rabbits, wrapped Chehalis Mints, and other festive goodies are on display. Ralph’s has more Easter bunny supplies (plastic eggs, baskets and toys) down the aisle from their Customer Service Center.

I believe the coming of spring is worth celebrating. Yes, the mowing season has already begun but you can lighten your load. Let the professionals at Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway stores be part of your team. They can help you with wine selections, fresh fish, deli options, decorated cakes and all sorts of decorations. See what goodies you can find to fill your basket at your next visit to Bayview or Ralph’s Thriftway. I’ll be the one strolling through each aisle. Happy Spring.

Egg Ideas

That basket-full of colored eggs can be put to good use. These eggs-tra eggs are fun to put into sack lunches as they usually retain some color after they are shelled. Here’s another idea. A friend told me she needed to bring appetizers to a party, but it was on short notice. What did she have on hand? She found eggs and Stouffer’s Spinach Soufflé, which she boiled (eggs) and defrosted (spinach). A spoonful of mayo was added to the spinach, which in hindsight she thought was unneeded. The halved eggs were stuffed. They were a hit.

easter recipes

Sweet Lady Jane’s Lemon Raspberry Cake is ready for you to take home and share.

I really liked this idea but wasn’t crazy about all the extra ingredients in the Stouffer’s version. I experimented at home. I placed four eggs in a pot of cold water, added some baking soda and brought it to boil. When it boiled, I covered the pot, turned off the heat and set the timer for ten minutes. The baking soda promotes easier shelling.

I took a small handful of fresh spinach and cut off the stems then chopped it small. I added a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of mayonnaise plus a healthy squirt of course ground mustard. I squished in the cooked yokes and added a little salt. It was easy to spoon the mixture into the eggs.

Usually I put all the yokes and miscellaneous ingredients into a sealable sandwich bag and hand massage until it’s smooth. I cut off the corner of the bag and pipe the filling into the eggs. I was afraid the spinach might make it too chunky, but actually I think it would work all right.


Fresh asparagus is amazing raw in a salad. Use it to dip into yogurt or other sauce. To prolong the life of your spring greenery, blanch for 45 seconds. That means dunk in boiling, salted water – but not for long. Now they are ready to eat as is, be added into a salad or stir-fry.

Here’s a recipe that has a few of my favorite ingredients: brown butter and pecans. It’s from Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian, who is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.”

easter recipes

Fresh asparagus is versatile and tasty.

Brown Butter Asparagus with Pecans

Serves: 6 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 15 minutes

1 ½ pounds asparagus, trimmed and cleaned

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 45 seconds (add 30 seconds if stalks are particularly thick). Using tongs, remove the asparagus and allow to drain dry on paper towels. Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until the bubbles subside and brown bits start to form, about 2 minutes. Add the pecans and stir so that nothing burns. Once the pecans are fragrant and the butter is toasty brown, stir in the soy sauce and lemon juice, then remove from the heat. Pour the pecan butter sauce over the asparagus, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

80 calories (50% from fat), 5 grams fat (2.5 grams sat. fat), 5 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 50 mg sodium, 10 mg cholesterol, 33 grams fiber.

Eat Well Be Well

Saint Martin’s University Men’s Golf Concludes CBU Invitational

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 4:59pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

On the final day of the CBU Invitational, the Saint Martin’s University men’s golf team had a final score of 312 to finish 12th out of 15 teams.

The tournament field includes four nationally ranked teams in No. 3 Chico State, No. 9 Simon Fraser, No. 20 Western Washington and No. 23 Dixie State. Northwest Nazarene was the other Great Northwest Athletic Conference school in attendance.

For the first time this season and in his first spring invitational, freshman Andrew Raab was the top finisher for SMU as he finished 23rd with a three-round score 225, to finish nine-over par. He had a final-round score of 79 with his best score of one-under par 71 coming in the second round.

Austin Spicer was the second finisher for the Saints as he shot a 78 in the final round to finish 47th overall with a 36-hole total 230. Matthew Hedges and Brodie Bordeaux both finished tied at 61st for the Saints with final scores of 236. Hedges had a final round score of 80, while Bordeaux had the best round for SMU as he shot a 77.

Rounding out the scores was Patrick Whealdon, who moved up in the final round to finish 72nd with a three-round score 240. He shot a 78 in the final round.

The Saints will hit the links next at the California State University, Stanislaus Invitational in Turlock, Calif., on April 13-14. That will be the last invitational for SMU before the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on April 20-21.

Westport Winery Earns Excellent Rating in Tempranillo Evaluation

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 4:50pm



Submitted by Westport Winery

westport winery

A popular wine, Jetty Cat Red, is one of 36 varietals made by Westport Winery.

In the spring 2015 issue of Wine Press Northwest, Westport Winery’s Jetty Cat Red earned an “Excellent” rating as part of their review of Northwest Tempranillo-based wines. An “Excellent” rating represents “Top-notch wines with particularly high qualities.”

In addition to 16% Tempranillo from Airfield Estates Vineyard, this blend includes 34% Petite Sirah from Jones of Washington, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon from Mays Discovery Vineyard, 11% Sangiovese from Red Willow Vineyard and 7% Syrah from Discovery. Mike Sauer at Red Willow is credited with planting the first Tempranillo in Washington State in 1993.

Described in their tasting notes as “Wall Street rich and ultra-luxurious, with a bit of attitude,” the winery suggests Jetty Cat be paired with their restaurant’s Italian Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms. Since the tasting notes also include musical pairings, the selection of Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent seems a natural choice, as a portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals (HAVA). Jetty Cat previously earned a Double Gold medal and Best Class at the 2014 Savor NW wine competition.

Westport Winery’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the winery. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and wedding venue are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at

Launch spring at the winery’s unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why Westport Winery was named Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.


Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 7:52am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet 

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week - Myrtle

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week – Myrtle

This lovely young lady is Myrtle, an eight-year-old, cream colored boxer mix. She has been a sweet, loving girl with everyone at the kennel but she would not be good with small children.We have been told that she is OK with cats.

Myrtle has a few pounds to lose to get her girlish figure back.  She would love to find an older adult who is looking for a companion for daily walks and snuggles on the sofa.

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

Rain Gardens – One Way You Can Help Keep Puget Sound Clean

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 6:59am



By Melanie Kallas Ricklefs

tumwater auto spaLiving near Puget Sound, the water is a part of who we are and what we do in our everyday lives. We are fortunate to have scenic beaches, bays, and coves to explore by boat, kayak, or paddle board. While paddling, we peer into the depths of the water looking for signs of the aquatic life that is so abundant beneath the surface. While Puget Sound offers many opportunities for recreation, it is also home to shellfish and salmon, which provide food and jobs for so many people in our community.

Puget Sound is a delicate ecosystem, and it is impacted by stormwater runoff. According toPeople for Puget Sound, a program of the Washington Environmental Council, stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution in Puget Sound waters. In fact, Puget Sound Starts Here states that approximately 75% of the pollution that impacts Puget Sound comes from stormwater runoff that starts in our neighborhoods. Data from both of these programs comes from research by Washington Department of Ecology.

rain garden how to

Joy Gold volunteered her time to plant a rain garden with the Native Plant Salvage Foundation. Photo courtesy: Erica Guttman.

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that falls on surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, yards, and roads, and flows directly into streams, lakes, rivers, and ultimately Puget Sound. As stormwater flows over impervious surfaces, it picks up pollutants, such as oil, grease, metals, fertilizers, pesticides, and pet waste, and delivers them directly into our waterways. These pollutants can impact marine life, decrease salmon runs, contaminate commercial shellfish beds, and diminish aquatic habitats.

Fortunately, there are ways we can help keep our waterways and Puget Sound clean. One of the most effective ways to reduce stormwater runoff from our own yards is to plant rain gardens. A rain garden is a shallow depression filled with a special soil mixture and planted with flood and drought-tolerant plant species. A rain garden is fed by a stormwater management system that collects stormwater from impermeable surfaces and directs it into the garden through a series of pipes or rock-lined swales. A rain garden is designed to allow water to pond for a day or two during storms to allow for maximum absorption, filtering and evapotranspiration of stormwater.

rain garden

Volunteers planted a rain garden at the Thurston County Fairgrounds to manage stormwater runoff from a large parking lot near the Administration Building. Photo courtesy: Erica Guttman.

Erica Guttman, Senior Extension Coordinator and Educator for the WSU Extension Water Resources Program and Native Plant Salvage Foundation, explains that rain gardens are effective because the plants and soil work together to manage the quantity of stormwater and treat the pollution that comes with it. The soil used in constructing a rain garden is rich in organic matter (from compost) which helps to trap pollutants, and allows the filtered water to soak into the ground. “When rain gardens are created, the native soils are amended with about 40 percent compost, which introduces more healthy soil biota to process pollution and allow time for that filtering to occur before the water soaks into the ground,” describes Erica.

The plants in a rain garden absorb and process pollutants, release water into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, and prevent erosion along the sides of the rain garden.

According to Guttman, rain gardens can reduce the level of many pollutants in stormwater by 90% to 100%. Some pollutants are absorbed and broken down by soil microorganisms and mycorrhizae, while others are trapped in the soil structure, absorbed by plants, or evaporate through volatilization. Rain gardens allow the filtered stormwater to percolate into the groundwater, thereby recharging aquifers with clean water for streams and aquatic life.

Plants recommended for rain gardens include native and non-native species that can survive local conditions without the need for fertilizers or pesticides. All of the plants in a rain garden must be drought tolerant to survive our dry summers, while those in the deepest portion of the garden must also be able to tolerate saturation during the winter months. Rain gardens are mulched to prevent erosion and weed growth, conserve water during drought season, and provide a continual source of organic matter to the soil as the mulch breaks down.

rain garden how to

One year later, the rain garden at the Thurston County Fairgrounds was well-established. If you’d like to visit a rain garden, feel free to stop by the Fairgrounds. Photo courtesy: Erica Guttman.

Many of the plants recommended for inclusion in a rain garden have beautiful flowers, and provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. These plants include trees, large and small shrubs, perennials, and ground covers. Using a mix of these types of plants can result in a unique landscape feature with layers of vegetation that create habitat zones around the garden.

No matter how far you live from a visible waterway, you can make a difference in the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem by installing a rain garden. All stormwater runoff eventually ends up in a local waterway impacting aquatic plants and animals. If you live on a property dominated by mature vegetation, such as forestland, you may not need a rain garden as the native soils and vegetation are already absorbing and filtering stormwater.

For more information on rain garden establishment, check out the Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington. Additional resources include the Native Plant Salvage Foundation’s website which has videos about rain garden establishment and Low Impact Development (LID) for more tips on protecting our waterways. Guttman will teach a free rain garden workshop on April 23 to educate landowners on proper rain garden establishment.

Yelm Co-op Beats the Odds to Break $1 Million in Sales

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:39am



By Heidi Smith

awesome rvIf the Yelm Food Cooperative were a children’s story, it would probably be The Little Engine That Could.  This, after all, is an organization that opened in 2007 – with just $26,000. “That’s a very small amount to start any retail, let alone a grocery store that has a lot of inventory and equipment,” say General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. “Most will start with ten times that amount before they get a brick and mortar location.”

yelm food co-op

Kate Morgan is one of three managers, including Jutta Dewell and Debbie Burgan, who run the Yelm Food Cooperative under the leadership of General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz.

Manager Debbie Burgan puts it more bluntly. “We were insane,” she says. “I was sent to three different seminars to find out what you needed to start a co-op. Every single one said you needed a minimum of $1 million.”

All the more remarkable, then, that the Co-op recently broke $1 million in sales and continues to grow.

Their story could be a case study in how to create success with minimal resources. Among the store’s managers, a consensus exists around key factors that have led to where they are now.

Loyal Members and Customers

“One critical factor is our shoppers and the support we received from Yelm and the community in general including customers ranging from Rainier to east of Lacey, Clearwood, and more,” says Rintz. Manager Jutta Dewell agrees. “We have a very dedicated group of members and customers,” she says. “They shop here first. They only go somewhere else if we don’t have what they need.”


The Co-op was started by an all-volunteer group back in 2005. “Especially in the early stages, there was a lot of ingenuity among those people to find the kind of equipment they needed, to set up critical expenses like insurance that was cost effective,” says Rintz. “They used the membership dues as wisely as possible and picked the most practical location in light of such a small budget.”


yelm food co-op

When the new store first opened in 2012, eager customers explored the aisles.

For the first five years of its existence, the Co-op resided in a small commercial building where anyone attempting to navigate an aisle would literally rub elbows with someone coming the opposite direction.  “It was important to open a storefront in order to begin building a history and reputation within this community,” says Rintz.

But in 2012, the store moved to its current – and much larger – location at 308 Yelm Avenue, which it shares with local landmark Gordon’s Garden Center. “Moving here was really important,” says Dewell. “We could never have dealt with $1 million in sales in the old store.”  Rintz adds, “This location is much better equipped to handle a higher volume of sales, in terms of space and atmosphere.”


Originally, the co-op was a member-owned corporation. In 2012, the board of directors asked the membership to vote on becoming a non-profit community service organization with a focus on education and food. The idea was a hit; 96% of the members who voted favored the new vision. Rintz credits the board with “moving to reevaluate operations and make the next step in growth.”

Part of that growth was hiring Rintz, who joined the Co-op in December 2012. “We really, really needed a general manager who knew the business and could change things that needed to be changed,” says Dewell, who has been with the store since its inception. “Having Barnaby has made a huge difference.”

yelm food co-op

The Wine Cellar of Yelm has been a highly successful department within the Yelm Co-op, with regular wine tastings on Saturdays and during special events.

Burgan echoes that sentiment. “Barnaby has been such a strong manager,” she says. “He’s brought a lot of experience and a world of understanding of how co-ops run. He’s bringing a level of professionalism that I’ve always wanted us to have. I can see that changes are working.”


As they’ve grown, the co-op has surveyed its customers, analyzed buying patterns, and adjusted accordingly. “We offer products that are hard to find in the Yelm area – non-GMO, organic, and local items,” says Rintz.  “Our success has proven that the demand from the consumer is large enough to support the store.”

“We’re moving diligently to promote GMO awareness in our products, ask questions about our vendors and eliminate items that include RBST, because that’s what our customers want,” says Burgan.

The Future

While reaching $1 million was significant, reaching $2 million would make a world of difference for the store and its members. “We want to offer improved services, specifically prepared foods, a deli, and a meat department that has fresh meat instead of frozen,” says Rintz. For that, they need equipment which is beyond their current budget.

yelm food co-op

Co-op employees and working members enjoy the ambiance and elbow room provided by the store’s location at 308 Yelm Ave. in downtown Yelm.

Breaking the $2 million threshold would also be the first step in allowing the store to apply for membership with the National Grocers Association, which would provide multiple benefits, including buying power. “If we can get the buying power that other co-ops have, our buying structure changes,” says Burgan. “That benefit would get passed on to our members.”

She doesn’t believe that reaching the new goal will take long. “We just need all our members to be buying 80% of their groceries from us,” she says. “If we’re not carrying what you want, let us know about it.”

Given what this small group from a modest rural town has achieved so far, the odds are in their favor.

As a non-profit organization, the Yelm Food Cooperative gladly accepts donations from anyone who shares their vision of a sustainable, food-wise community.  Contact General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz at

Stella Parker – Capital High School Senior Achieves Despite Adversity with Epilepsy

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:15am



By Katie Doolittle

color graphicsWhen Stella Parker graduates from Capital High School later this year, her diploma will symbolize years of determination and learning. In this, she’s just like other members of the class of 2015. But since Parker’s road to academic achievement has been a little bumpier than most, her arrival at this educational milestone will be all the sweeter.

Why is that? Parker has epilepsy.

“To be honest I don’t even know how hard my life is because I’m constantly living it,” she says. Yet Parker is fully aware of the gifts she’s managed to wrestle from her challenges. “I am assertive and strong with the initiative to get where I need to go and do what I want to do.”

capital high school

After graduating from Capital High School, Stella Parker plans to attend South Puget Sound Community College.

Capable and committed students like Parker are the reason American public education offers Individualized Education Programs (or plans), otherwise known as IEPs. Think of an IEP as a contract drawn up and then revisited annually with input from family members, school staff, and the learner herself. Ideally, the goal is to provide the lightest support needed for the greatest success possible.

Unfortunately, that ideal is not always realized. Parker’s mother, Govinda Rossa, shudders to remember what her daughter experienced before entering the Olympia School District. Rossa says, “I’ve lived in a lot of places and I don’t know if people around here realize how lucky they are. This is the best school system I’ve ever seen.”

Parker’s out-of-state educational experiences could best be summed up as ineffective, insensitive, and sometimes unsafe. One school even kicked her out, telling Rossa, “It’s just too hard on us. Keep her at home.” Rossa recalls past IEP meetings as occasions for shame, frustration, and tears.

But when Parker started at Capital in January 2013, Rossa was shocked by the delightful difference. Their first IEP meeting opened with these welcome words: “‘Well, we’ve explained to all the teachers how to handle a seizure. Here’s our plan.’ I had never been treated so respectfully before. My daughter had never been treated so kindly and they had never been so accommodating.”

Principal Chris Woods has a simple yet poignant explanation for why the staff works so hard to support students. “We often talk about what we would want done for our own son or daughter if they were the ones we were meeting about or teaching in our classes.  It’s pretty easy to go the extra mile for a student when you view them through the lens of a parent.”

He adds, “Capital High School belongs to our students and we want to help create an environment where they feel valued, free to learn and cared for.”

capital high school

Capital High School teacher Donna McPeak describes Parker as “a young lady with an awesome personality, great sense of humor, and strong will and determination to achieve.”

Certainly, this has been the case for Stella Parker. She says, “I really appreciate how understanding the teachers and students are. The day after I have a seizure, nobody says anything except ‘are you okay?’ and that’s just the way it should be.”

Holly Steele, school nurse, describes it as a “privilege” for the whole health room staff to have watched “Stella blossom over the last two years… we are very proud of her and believe she has a bright future ahead.”

For Parker, that bright future will begin at  South Puget Sound Community College. And after that? “I would like to maybe teach children or help disabled students learn,” she says.

As Transition Coordinator at CHS, it’s been Pam Tebeau’s job and pleasure to assist Parker with this next step. Tebeau says, “Together we have been working with the Disability Service Coordinator at SPSCC to learn about accommodations, supports and career options. Stella has been steadfast in self-advocacy and I believe that through this process, she has grown tremendously.” Tebeau describes Parker as “an extraordinary young lady” and finds it powerful that “instead of asking the question, ‘Why me?’, she asked the question, ‘Why not me?’”

capital high school

Pam Tebeau is the Transition Coordinator at Capital High School.

Tebeau also mentions fellow staff member, Donna McPeak, who’s provided constant support and encouragement to Parker. McPeak was Parker’s first case manager as well as one of her classroom teachers. As Tebeau notes, “She did not give up or give in when things got tough for Stella and believe me, things got tough. Donna expected nothing less from Stella than her very best.”

As Parker’s high school career winds to a close, McPeak has nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to work with her. “Thank you Govinda for trusting in CHS and sharing your daughter with us. What an honor!” This supportive teacher goes on to say, “Stella, you have made CHS a better place by your presence. You model every day the following traits at CHS: perseverance,  positive attitude, strength of focus, sense of humor, and the power of the support of family. You are a powerful young woman and I have been honored to work with you. You have taught me a lot and I can honestly say as you travel onto your next challenge, Stella, you will not be forgotten here at CHS, but especially not forgotten by me.”

Congratulations, Stella Parker, and best of luck in all your future endeavors!


Personal Style: What Is Your Best Color?

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 6:00am



lisa poundstone

Lisa Poundsone holds a PhD and an Accredited Staging Professional designation. She also consults on personal style, color, and wardrobes.

Do you know what colors look best on you?  Like many people, you may wander around department stores confused about the colors you should be wearing. Figuring out your colors is simpler than it seems.

Your best color is determined by whether you are “cool-toned” or “warm-toned”.

First, look in the mirror at your skin tone, hair and eye color. Hold up a silver fabric to your face and then hold up a gold cloth. Which color makes you look vibrant and brightens your complexion? Which one washes you out? If the silver fabric makes you look best, then you are cool-toned. If it’s the gold fabric, then you are warm-toned.

Warm or Cool Color Choices
The best neutrals for cool skin tones include black, navy, grey, snow and soft white, silver and anything blue-based. Cool tones are divided into Winter and Summer colors. Winter colors are the jeweled tones of red, blue, green, purple and magenta.  Summer colors are the softer pastel versions of those colors, including pink, light blue, soft green and lavender.

The best neutrals for warm skin tones include brown, navy, olive, camel, cream, gold and anything yellow-based. Warm tones divide into Autumn and Spring colors. Autumn colors include rust, olive green, brown, deep teal and orange. Spring colors are the softer pastel versions of those including peach, tan, light green, aqua and golden yellow.

If you love a certain color but it isn’t your most flattering, you can wear it in a purse, shoes, pants or accessories. Just be sure to wear the color away from your face and wear it with one of the colors that make you look the best.

Wearing your best colors makes you look healthy, gives you confidence and fosters many compliments. As the wise Coco Chanel said, “The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”

Call Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign at (360) 480-5810 for a wardrobe and style consultation to help you put together a new look with your best colors!


With Help and Hard Work, Lee Thibodeau Has Become an Eagle Scout, a 4.0 Student and a Leader

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 7:27am



By Gail Wood

mullinax fordWith pride, Mark Thibodeau can rattle off his son’s accomplishments in the classroom, Boy Scouts and sports. With gratitude and appreciation, he can name the people who have helped his son along the way.

Accompanying every accomplishment, and there have been many in Lee Thibodeau’s young life, there stands a teacher, Boy Scout leader, coach and pastor. For every achievement stands a supporter.

Lee’s story is about achievement and about overcoming.

By the time Lee Thibodeau was 13, he was an Eagle Scout. Now, as a junior at Northwest Christian High School, he’s a 4.0 student, never receiving a grade lower than a B since seventh grade. Last year in track, he qualified for state in the long jump.  He improved his personal best by three feet at the state meet to place ninth with a leap just under 20 feet.

lee thibodeau

Lee Thibodeau earned his Eagle Scout badge when he was 13.

But to appreciate Lee’s accomplishments you have to understand what he’s overcome. He’s autistic.

Mark thanks all the people that have helped his son. They include Kathie Ketchum, a teacher at Northwest Christian, and Mike Michaels, a track coach at the school. Then there’s Paul Pierce, pastor at the Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist Church in Lacey, and there’s Barry Kirk and Jan Skoropinski, former scout masters for Lee’s Boy Scout troop.

“Although Lee’s achievements are significant, the real heroes are the dedicated, caring mentors that stand behind our youth,” Mark said.

When Lee first started the Boy Scouts, he struggled advancing in rank. His father said at the time he didn’t know if Lee was going to be able to complete the requirements for First and Second Class Scout.

“He was having some difficulty,” Mark said.

Now, five years later he’s got straight As, is involved in two sports, has been inducted into the National Honor Society and is a mentor in Boy Scouts. He has almost earned 100 merit badges. Recently, Lee was among a delegation of Eagle Scouts at the state Capitol. He spoke in front of the state legislature, giving the annual report for the state.

When Mark thinks of his son speaking in front of the legislature, he can proudly smile. He’s come so far. Ketchum remembers a shy Lee in her seventh grade English class, a young boy who would get frustrated with a test score of 95.

“He’d have a complete melt down,” Ketchum said. “He was dealing with this perfectionist thing. Once he was able to get past that he was able to blossom.”

lee thibodeau

Mark Thibodeau, Lee’s dad, credits many adults, including his track coach, Mike Michaels, for enabling Lee to succeed. Lee is wearing bib #1091.

The difference, the development of who he is, Ketchum said has a lot to do with the way his teachers and classmates “encircled” him. “The students were very protective of him,” Ketchum said.

Now, Lee’s favorite subject is math, particularly calculus. “I like working with math,” Lee said. “It’s something I can do. It doesn’t bother me.” In math, there are absolutes – this equals this. In English, it’s abstract. He’s struggled with essays.

Lee’s favorite class is yearbook. He’s an editor and a photographer. “I enjoy it so much because I get to take pictures and that’s one of the things I like to do,” Lee said. “And it’s just a lot of fun.”

When Lee was asked if he liked going to Northwest Christian, he bubbled with excitement.

“I love it here,” Lee said, smiling as he talked. “It’s just such a very friendly atmosphere. I know the teachers really like me. All the people here are really nice. I’ve met some nice people. We do things together. It’s really nice.”

Besides the help Lee gets in school, there’s the support at home from Lee’s mother, Gail.

“For every hour my son spends with homework, my wife spends an equal amount of time helping him,” Mark said. “Not teaching him, but keeping him organized, on schedule and quizzing him.”

Sports, running cross country and turning out for track, have also helped Lee develop his social skills. The first time he turned out for track was in seventh grade.

“I thought I’d turn out in seventh grade because all my friends were turning out,” Lee said.

lee thibodeau

Lee Thibodeau loves math and also is an editor and photographer for the Northwest Christian High School yearbook.

At first, he didn’t know what event to do. But one day when a downpour cancelled the field events of a meet, he tried running the 100 meters. And, to his surprise, he finished third.

“Since then I’ve been sprinting,” Lee said.

He’s run the 200 meters in 23.8 seconds and the 400 in 53.4. Sports, and now his involvement with the yearbook, has helped him overcome his shyness.

“I feel like I’m much more social,” Lee said. “Ever since I’ve joined the yearbook I’ve been less shy. I’m able to go up to people and know that I’m going to be okay. Because when you’re in yearbook and you’re at an event you have to be able to go out and take pictures of people and not feel bad. It’s your job. If you want people to enjoy the yearbook you’re going to have to get out and take the pictures.”

Lee the achiever is now Lee the overcomer … and, to his delight, the picture taker.


Modern Crane Hones Port of Olympia’s Competitive Edge

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 6:12pm


Submitted by The Port of Olympia

The mobile harbor crane offers flexibility in moving various types  of cargoes including heavy lift, bulk, breakbulk and containers.

The mobile harbor crane offers flexibility in moving various types
of cargoes including heavy lift, bulk, breakbulk and containers.

When Star Louisiana arrived March 1 at Port of Olympia from Antwerp, Belgium, it unloaded a unique Port purchase: a modern 2005 Gottwald mobile harbor crane.

The crane has the capability to perform a variety of heavy lifts for the Port, including containers, equipment and over-dimensional and heavier cargoes. And like the gantry cranes before it, it can serve as backup to a ship’s crane in case of failure.

“We are already marketing the Port for new lines of business that we were not able to pursue before the addition of this crane,” said Len Faucher, Marine Terminal Director, “A crane is essential equipment for a port.”

Faucher continued, “This crane is a modern cargo handling solution that should help keep Port of Olympia competitive with its market contemporaries. It enables us to enter the heavy lift market and be ready for potential imports and exports.”

Port staff had examined both new and used cranes and found the used 2005 Gottwald crane to be the best investment value.

The crane arrived disassembled and International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 47 carefully unloaded the units. Assembly was completed on March 17 by Marine Technical Services. Electrical and engine adjustments are now underway.

Next steps include inspection by a Terex certified technician, testing and certification by an independent agency to meet Washington Dept. of Labor and Industry requirements, and operational training.

The Port anticipates paying $3,200,000 for the crane, including disassembly, shipping, reassembly and commissioning. This is just under $2 million less than the cost of a new version of the same model.

The Port’s former gantry cranes, model years 1968 and 1972, became obsolete and cost-prohibitive to maintain. Having no marketability, they were sold in 2014 as scrap and recycled in British Columbia. The Port Commission approved a mobile harbor crane as their replacement.

2005 Gottwald Mobile Harbor Crane Model GHMK7608
Gottwald, a German company, is now known as Terex Port Solutions/Gottwald,
·        Height at top of tower: 124 feet
·        Height at operator cab: 87 feet
·        Boom length: 173 feet
·        Total weight, fully rigged: 480 metric tons
·        Lifting capacity: 140 metric tons at 11 meters

About the Port of Olympia
The southernmost deepwater port on Puget Sound, the Port of Olympia owns and operates an international shipping terminal that handles a range of breakbulk and project cargoes. The Port also owns and operates Swantown Marina & Boatworks, a 733-slip recreational marina and boat haulout/repair facility, a regional airport and a real estate division. A community port, it generates an estimated 7,249 total direct, induced and indirect jobs as documented by Martin Associates in the 2009 data study, The Economic Impact of the Port of Olympia, January 2011, available at

Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity and Home Instead Senior Care Donate 6,000 Hours of Free In-Home Care to Families Living with Alzheimer’s Disease

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 6:04pm


Submitted by Home Instead Senior Care

More than 130 families coping with Alzheimer’s disease will now receive much-needed support thanks to the Hilarity for Charity and Home Instead Senior Care Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Grant Program. Hilarity for Charity®, a movement established with the Alzheimer’s Association®, led by actors and writers Lauren Miller Rogen and Seth Rogen to inspire change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, announced the partnership with Home Instead Senior Care® to offer grants for in-home care services to eligible U.S. and Canadian families in October of 2014. Today, the first grants were awarded to Alzheimer’s families in need, totaling more than 6,000 hours of care.

Grant recipients will be connected with a Home Instead franchise in their community, which provide a professional CAREGiverSM specially trained in how to most effectively and compassionately assist individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Grants range from short-term grants of 25 hours to long-term care, based on the need of the family.

“Sometimes, just a few hours a week can provide a welcome break for family caregivers,” explains Jeff Huber, president of Home Instead Senior Care. “Having the peace of mind that your loved one is being cared for by a highly-skilled CAREGiver can allow families to focus on the other areas of their life that they may have neglected since an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.”

The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Grant Program is funded by Hilarity for Charity donations, including the organization’s annual Variety Show fundraiser in which nearly $1 million was raised in 2014. To supplement this funding, United States- and Canada-based Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners pledged more than 37,000 hours of in-home care services, valued at $740,000. Individuals living in Canada or the U.S. and providing care to the nearly six million loved ones in North America living with Alzheimer’s disease are eligible to apply.

For more information about the Alzheimer’s Care Grant Program, including how you can donate or apply for future respite care grants, visit

Career and Internship Fair at Saint Martin’s offers Opportunities for Job Seekers

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 5:44pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

Saint Martins University Marcus Pavilion and Norman Worthington Conference Center Lacey WashingtonStudents and job-seekers will have an opportunity to connect with a wide range of employers Tuesday, March 31 at the 2015 Career and Internship Fair. The fair, co-sponsored by Saint Martin’s University and The Evergreen State College, will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Marcus Pavilion on the Saint Martin’s University campus, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE. The fair welcomes students, alumni and the public. Admission is free.

This year’s Career and Internship Fair will feature about 100 employers from private industry, government agencies and non-profit organizations. Some will be conducting on-site interviews for full-time, part-time and summer positions. Several colleges and universities will represent their graduate programs at the event.

“The Career Fair is a signature event for our students and the local community.  It provides the opportunity for job seekers to meet potential employers and graduate school recruiters to learn about exciting career fields”  says Ann Adams, associate dean of students and director of career development at Saint Martin’s.

Adams recommends that job-seekers come prepared by wearing appropriate business attire, bringing multiple copies of resumes and brushing up on interview skills in advance. A list of employers planning to attend can be found at

Even for those who are not seeking immediate employment, the fair provides a great opportunity to gather information for future internships and jobs as well as expand their network of contacts, Adams says.

This year’s fair sponsors are the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University, Saint Martin’s Alumni Association, Bon Appétit, Molina Healthcare, ResCare HomeCare, State Farm, CHI Franciscan Health Systems and Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel.

2014 Healthy Youth Survey Results Released

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 5:04pm



Submitted by Together!

news olympia waGood news about youth in Thurston County: Our community is doing a great job of supporting them and protecting them against risk factors, according to the just-released 2014 Healthy Youth Survey. Families, schools and communities are also doing a good job of discouraging underage drinking and substance use, especially parents. The Healthy Youth Survey covers students statewide; here are some results for Thurston County.

“Protective factors” are things that work like an immune system for the mental, social and educational health of children and teens. The survey shows that Thurston County does well in many protective factors; for example, most young people in every grade surveyed feel like there are adults they can talk to about important issues, and most feel that adults in their community would not approve of them using alcohol, tobacco or marijuana (between 74% and 83% depending on grade). Other positive results show most students feel their parents would not approve of them using tobacco, alcohol or marijuana. Almost 9 out of 10 8th and 10th graders have clear rules about drugs and alcohol in their families. This means families and parents are doing a great job of communicating their expectations about substance abuse with their teens; the effectiveness can be seen as these numbers coincide with declining usage rates of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. You can see the school’s effectiveness in the results showing about 9 out of 10 students in all grades in Thurston County feel safe in school, a number that has been improving in the past 4 years.

“When a young person has healthy support from their family, they are more likely to emerge from adolescence as resilient adults. Parents matter; they are one of the most influential voices in a young person’s life,” said TOGETHER! Program Manger Tina Johnson, who works with teens and parents on positive support projects.

While a reduction in cigarette smoking among youth since 2010 is encouraging, unfortunately it is outweighed by concerning, fast growth of e-cigarette use. Thurston County’s use of e-cigarettes in all grade levels is trending upward quickly, and is even higher than the state average, especially among younger grades. In 2012, only 2% of 8th graders used e-cigarettes, but six times that number reported use in 2012 (12%). Other grades’ usage is increasing rapidly as well; 23% of high school sophomores reporting using e-cigarettes in this survey, about two and a half times the number in 2012 (9%).

Marijuana usage among youth is increasing as well. Though the number of students using marijuana has held relatively steady for the past few years, more than one-third of those who do consume it are now doing so more than 10 times a month. This is concerning because students who use marijuana are more than twice as likely to get mostly Cs, Ds and Fs in school as those who don’t use. Research also shows that marijuana interferes with learning and with healthy social and emotional development.

“Protecting youth and preventing youth substance abuse is important not just because it’s the right thing to do; it’s also important because it translates to healthier and safer teens, better graduation and post-secondary attainment, and a more robust economy in the long term,” said Meghan Sullivan, TOGETHER!’s executive director. “While this recent data highlight some positives, many organizations from school, health, community and law enforcement sectors, including TOGETHER!, continue to work hard. A lot of work remains to improve and advance youth health, safety and success.”

The Healthy Youth Survey is taken anonymously every two years by more than 200,000 students in Washington. It tracks health behaviors and attitudes, such as use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; bullying and gang activity; positive social activities; and more, in grades six, eight, 10 and 12.

The survey is a joint effort of the state Department of Social and Health Services, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the state Liquor Control Board. TOGETHER! works with the state Department of Health to distribute results for Thurston County. For more information or additional Thurston County statistics, contact Meghan Sullivan, Executive Director of TOGETHER!, at 360-493-2230, ext. 19.

Team Sam I Am Rocks Fundraising Efforts for Cancer Research

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 3:13pm



By Amy Rowley

Capitol City Honda sponsorI remember the call vividly. I wished I could wake up from the nightmare and not hear that my daughter’s teammate and friend, Samantha Warjone, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Sam was only 8-years-old and on day two of third grade at Griffin School. The news rocked the nuclear Steamboat Island community. Like me, many parents felt powerless against Sam’s diagnosis.

team sam i am

Sam Warjone, pictured here with her mother Bree, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in September 2013. A strong crew of Olympia friends and family have rallied around her to raise money for cancer research.

“Sam’s diagnosis hit me on a personal level,” recalls Anne Larsen. “I couldn’t imagine being in her parent’s place. I wanted to show Sam that the community loves her.”

That community support came quickly when more than 60 team members formed Team Sam I Am in 2013, shortly after Sam’s diagnosis. “Team Sam I Am was formed organically by a group of friends and family with the idea of doing something positive with our grief,” says Kelly Levesque.

During the past two years, as Sam fearlessly fought leukemia, the team has participated in 5k runs, obstacle course races, and other competitive events. Their crowning moment is the Big Climb that benefits Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS). In 2014, the first year that the team raced in the event, they raised about $25,000 through personal fundraising and bingo events.

This year, the team raised in excess of $50,000, doubling last year’s fundraising efforts. The money goes directly to support the LLS mission to fund blood cancer research, education and patient services.

“I am still in disbelief,” says Sam’s mother, Bree Warjone, after hearing that the team’s total ranks them in the Top 5 for fundraising teams. “We live in an amazing place where everyone can rally for a cause. It’s hard for me to even pinpoint all of my emotions.”

Mike Warjone, Sam’s father, agrees. “We are thrilled with the overwhelming support for LLS from the Olympia community. We are lucky to live in this time and this region where there is so much awareness and support.”

team sam i am

To help prepare for the Big Climb, Bree and Mike Warjone climb the stair well at Providence St. Peter Hospital.

Kelly is the team’s Big Climb captain. “I knew that my sadness and empathy (related to Sam’s diagnosis) could not help my friends, and I was motivated to turn that negative energy into something positive,” says Kelly when asked why she chooses to fundraise for LLS.

“I have been blessed with healthy children. I don’t know how to find a cure, but I do know how to raise money and put those dollars in the hands of people that can find a cure,” adds team member and mom of two young girls, Beth Berschauer.

“It’s very obvious that Team Sam I Am has a connection to the LLS mission,” says Courtney Hale, Director of Special Events for LLS. “To see the energy of Sam’s group of family and friends is truly moving on a grand scale.”

“These dollars are going to support the brightest and greatest researchers around the world, while also funding patient services locally,” continues Courtney who says that LLS currently funds 10 research projects at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. The grants exceed $3 million.

Bree agrees with Courtney about the value of raising money for cancer research. “Treatment has improved so much in just the past five years. Even though we aren’t yet at a cure, the treatment is so much better.”

“Sam’s treatment today means that she can still play basketball and soccer. Just a few years ago that would not have been possible,” adds Bree from the sidelines of a soccer practice. “I feel so fortunate that Sam is a normal kid even though she’s undergoing chemotherapy. Her body is loaded down with drugs but she’s still out there running and laughing.”

team sam i am

Team Sam I Am completed the Big Climb, benefiting the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, in 2014. This year, the team has grown to about 60 adults and kids and more than doubled their fundraising goals to be ranked as one of the Top 5 teams.

Team Sam I Am will come together for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s annual Big Climb on Sunday, March 22. The event pits participants against 69 flights of stairs, or 1,311 steps, to reach the top of the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.

“I will climb because I have witnessed firsthand the healing effects of treatment in action — a bright future for one little fighter,” says team member and mom of four, Erin Gantenbein.

Kids will be racing alongside their parents and Sam will be making the trek this year too. Erica Smith will be climbing with her husband and two children. “I am inspired by my team. I feel lucky to be able to help positive groups, like LLS, do amazing things for kids,” she comments.

“It’s about wearing the Team Sam I Am shirt as a symbol of empowerment and support for our friends. We wear the shirt and we fundraise because Sam could be any of our children,” concludes Kelly.

team sam i am

Sam Warjone (left) dressed up recently with her parents and sister, Jasmine, for her aunt’s wedding ceremony.

Sam just celebrated her 10th birthday. She is an active defender on the soccer field and an aggressive shooter on the basketball court. She recently completed a science experiment about dogs’ food preferences. She excels as a fourth grader at Griffin School and has a deep love of Harry Potter. She hopes to either be a cancer researcher or a veterinarian. Because of each $1 raised, Sam can confidently make these future plans.

“It has been great that so many people have raised money to support cancer research,” summarizes Sam. “Maybe one day, in the future, you can just have one shot and be done.”

To learn more about Team Sam I Am and make a donation to their fundraising efforts to support Leukemia Lymphoma Society, click here. You can also follow the Olympia-based team on Facebook.


Celebrate the 50th Arts Walk this April in Downtown Olympia

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 10:07am



Submitted by City of Olympia

spring arts walk

The Fiddlie-I-Ay Family Stringband picks a tune during the Spring 2014 Arts Walk. Photo courtesy City of Olympia.

On Friday, April 24 from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 25 from 12:00 – 8:00 p.m., come explore the creative and spirited arts community of Olympia, WA and help celebrate our 50th Arts Walk event! Tucked into a valley at the foot of South Puget Sound, Olympia is the state’s Capital, and also home to a vibrant mix of musicians, filmmakers, writers and visual and performing artists. Arts Walk is the largest festival of this type in the region – an unparalleled opportunity to embrace the arts and meet the artists.

As day reaches into night, Arts Walk brings together over 120 businesses, and hundreds of visual and performing artists with over 30,000 visitors in Olympia’s historic downtown as they welcome the arts in all forms during this twice-yearly event.

Meet artists from all career levels: pre-school through professional.
Listen to a variety of live music including Rockin’ Blues, Country Western, East Indian Sitar, Jazz and Youth Samba.
Learn to Zumba, try out a new instrument, or stop in at several family art activity areas.
Check out poetry, adult storytelling, puppet shows, or consult the Butohracle.
Take in impromptu street performances, all kinds of dance and of course, exhibition of fine art from photography, painting and drawing to sculpture, textiles, ceramics, printmaking and more.

The festival also includes the spectacular Procession of the Species, celebrating its 20th year, an artistic and environmental celebration presented by Earthbound Productions. The event is a colorful and joyous street pageant using the languages of art, music and dance to inspire cultural appreciation, understanding, and protection of the natural world; the Procession begins at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Due to the popularity of the Procession, it is extremely important for individuals to pay close attention to street closures and tow away zones.

Harms Woods, by photographer Duncan Green, adorns the cover of the Arts Walk map this spring; a scene of the forest’s edge newly awakened. A photographer since the age of 14, Duncan has worked the professional and artistic sides of the field, both as Staff Photographer for the Washington State Legislature and long-time contributor to The Sun magazine. He has studied with renowned photographers Chris Rainier, Amy Arbus and Arno Minkkinen and his work is in private collections across the US and in Canada, France and Holland. Duncan’s cover art can be seen during Arts Walk at Childhood’s End Gallery (#101 on the Arts Walk map).

Arts Walk is sponsored by the City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Department and Olympia Arts Commission, with support provided by Art House Designs, Capitol City Press, Heritage Bank and MIXX 96fm. Arts Walk maps are available at participating locations after April 11, and at Olympia City Hall, 601 4th Ave. East and The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW.

A digital map and Arts Walk app are also available after April 11 at For more information, contact Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation at 360.753.8380.

Welcome to JBLM – A Newcomers Guide to Exploring the South Sound Area

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 6:41am



By Sonia Garza

hometown logoWelcome to the Pacific Northwest! If you’re stationed near JBLM, like us and so many people in the area, or if you’re just new to Washington State, you will find that there are so many wonderful things to see and do. Here is a list of my favorite activities, using JBLM as a starting point. Before long, I know you will become better acclimated to the area and feel like a long-time resident rather than a newbie.

olympia visitors guide

The Capitol building built in 1928, has withstood three earthquakes and after a renovation project in 2004, 144 solar panels were placed on the fifth-floor roof making it the largest array of solar panels on a capitol in the United States. Photo credit: Sonia Garza

Head to Toe

First, get a good rain jacket with a hood and rain boots. No matter what the trends dictate, these two items will never go out of style here.

Visit the State Capitol

As the capital of Washington State, it’s an easy drive south on I-5 to the State Capitol building. Take a guided tour through the campus to the Legislative Building or Governor’s Mansion.

Lakes, Creeks and the Puget Sound

American Lake, accessible from Lakewood as well as JBLM, offers public access docks and lakeside beaches for boating, fishing and picnicking with easy rentals for a kayak or canoe. Sunnyside Beach is a beachfront park in Steilacoom with views of Puget Sound and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Chambers Bay is a 950-acre golf course running along the Puget Sound in University Place and will be host to the 2015 U.S. Open this year, for the first time in history. Its rolling hills and breathtaking landscape was created to pay tribute to the lands of Scotland.

Farmers Markets

When spring hits the most favored outdoor must is to attend a local farmers market. This is the go-to place for freshly picked produce straight from the farm and gorgeous bouquets of flowers. Local artisans sell unique goods and homemade crafts while food trucks satiate your appetite. Start at the Olympia Farmers Market, located on Olympia’s waterfront.

Trails and Parks

olympia visitors guide

Olympia’s waterfront is home to small boats and live-aboards. Rent kayaks or paddle boards and explore the waterways. Photo credit: Sonia Garza

Residents embrace the natural beauty that is the Pacific Northwest and don’t wait for the weather to clear up to go outside. You will find that there are many gorgeous days here and because of the mild weather and temperature, you can take advantage of many great parks. Sequalitchew Creek in Dupont starts at City Hall and winds 1.5 miles through forestation and greenery to an open rocky beach where you will find spectacular views. Stroll along East Bay Drive in Olympia, starting at Priest Point Park or drive a bit further down the road and experience gorgeous vistas at Burfoot Park.  Find even more stories about family-friendly outdoor recreation here.

Animals of the Pacific Northwest

There’s nothing like seeing animals of the Pacific Northwest. The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is one of my favorite places. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge provides a window into the world of over 200 species of birds that visit throughout the year as well as beavers and reptiles that live off the wetlands. Northwest Trek offers a more interactive experience with a tram ride through 435 acres of land filled with elk, moose and mountain goats. If you’re really feeling brave, take the walking tour through the forest to see grizzly bears, wolves, cougars and foxes.

Head to the Fair

The Thurston County Fair is a great way to experience live animals up close and personal.  Local 4H students are well educated and eager to share information about the animals they have raised.  Puyallup is home to the Washington State Fair, the largest annual event in the state and ranks one of the largest fairs in the world. The fall fair is held every September with a rodeo and huge musical headliners. There is also a spring fair in April. If you go, make sure to try a fair scone with jelly, which locals absolutely love.  Olympia hosts many festivals and events.  Watch our event calendar for even more activities.

olympia coffee shop

A Sugar Skull Latte – a wicked look for a wicked drink – from Burial Grounds in downtown Olympia

Get yourself a cup of java

You will be hard pressed to drive down any main street and not find a quirky coffee shop. You will find Starbucks in plethora here but venture out to all the small coffee houses and pop up coffee drive thrus like Bigfoot Java, one of my personal favorites.

Cheer on the local team

Take me out to the ballgame! Cheney Stadium, in Tacoma is home to the Tacoma Rainiers. This minor league baseball team has played in the Pacific Coast League since 1960, making it the longest current active streak of membership in the league. During their season you can enjoy those warmer nights beneath the stadium lights singing while Rhubarb, the reindeer mascot, cheers on the team and fans.

Mount Rainier

A list of places to visit in the area would not be complete without mention of the 14,410-foot active volcano, Mount Rainier, the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. It’s hard to miss and on gorgeous days you can see the snow covered summit from almost anywhere. The Mount Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres. For superb views, drive up to the 5,400 ft overlook at Paradise and hike through the numerous connecting trails. Pack a picnic and head three miles east of Paradise to see a spectacular view of the mountain in the reflection lakes.

Let me officially welcome you to the greater JBLM area. Have fun exploring Olympia, Tacoma and all that the South Sound has to offer! I hope this list will make you feel right at home.

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 6:33am



Hello Olympia! Each Friday morning, ThurstonTalk staffers dig through our event calendar to bring you our top highlights.  This list is just a sampling of the hundreds of things to do around Olympia.  You can always find our complete event calendar here and even use our “Post an Event” button to add your own cool activity.  Cheers!

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.