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Updated: 1 day 8 hours ago

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 5:30am



The big news in downtown Olympia this weekend is the Capital City Pride festival.  Complete with its own parade, Pride weekend has been a staple in Olympia for 24 years.  The two day festival brings more than 15,000 people to downtown Olympia.  Celebrate Pride on Saturday and Sunday or try one of those other community activities this weekend around Olympia.

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.


Celebrating 19 Years at Lucky Eagle Casino

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 6:00pm



CEO John Setterstrom welcomes guests to the Lucky Eagle Casino during its opening 19 years ago.

CEO John Setterstrom welcomes guests to the Lucky Eagle Casino during its opening 19 years ago.

Anniversaries are a time for celebration, an opportunity to reminisce about past joys and dream up future goals.  This year marks 19 years of having Rochester’s Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel as an entertainment hub for our region.

The Lucky Eagle offers outings for every occasion, holiday, and event, but is also so much more.  Whether ringing in the New Year with nightlong festivities or providing lucky couples the chance to renew their wedding vows in style, the casino knows how to make its guests feel welcome.  Their amazing chefs and their team create culinary masterpieces every day and the Players Club insures repeat visitors are rewarded for their loyalty.

June’s anniversary events promise to be fun filled and equally rewarding.  Through June 29, Players Club visitors will have the opportunity to earn entries for Free Play and more.  Sundays in June overflow with drawings every half hour from 1-5pm with a Grand Finale drawing on Sunday, June 29.  Grand Finale Sunday will also feature a visit by Seattle Supersonic great Shawn Kemp, everyone’s beloved ‘Reign Man.’  On that day, eleven lucky Players Club members will have the chance to win $199,50 and one winner will walk away with a guaranteed prize of over $19,950.

lucky eagle casino

Throughout the month of June, Lucky Eagle Casino will be celebrating its #19 anniversary.

If all this celebrating makes you hungry, line up for food specials at the Scatter Creek Grill.  In honor of the festivities, they’ll be spotlighting 1995 favorites at 1995 prices.  Whether it’s a deluxe Casino Burger for $6.95 or the shrimp-stuffed-bacon-wrapped Carpet Bagger Steak for $13.95, your wallet will appreciate the flashback.  Sunday through Thursday, the Scatter Creek Grill will feature meal specials which are all priced under $7 and definitely won’t make a dent in your winnings.  Friday and Saturday late night guests can treat themselves to the grand Midnight Buffet, only $9.95 between 11pm and 2am.

Out of town celebrants, or those seeking to turn the festivities into a mini-staycation, can find discounted hotel stays Monday through Wednesday.  For only $69 plus tax a night, it’s easy to relax away life’s tensions in the indoor pool or hot tub or amidst the amenities of flat screen TV’s and free wi-fi.

Whether it’s to attend concerts, comedy nights, or community benefits, the Lucky Eagle Casino is always an exciting destination.  CEO John Setterstrom is rightfully proud of their success. “We’ve really matured since opening our doors nearly 20 years ago and surpassed expectations,” he reports.  Helping celebrate nearly two decades of fun shows Thurston County’s gratitude and excitement for what is sure to be another 20 years of music, laughter, and community.

The Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel is located at 12888 – 188th Avenue Southwest in Rochester.  Questions about events or amenities can be directed to 800-720-1788.

Gabi Charnesky – Young Girl Raising Cancer Fighting Funds

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 11:39am



By Eric Wilson-Edge

alley oop gymnastics The first thing I notice about 11-year-old Gabi Charnesky is her socks. They’re bright, multicolored streaks that end in an image of the Seattle skyline. Charnesky just finished basketball practice. I meet Gabi and her mom, Dani, at Skateland. When I arrive Gabi and her siblings are unloading bottles of water and food.

Gabi doesn’t say much – at least not to me. For now she seems content letting Dani do the talking.  We’re here because of a conversation between mother and daughter that took place over a year ago.  Gabi saw an ad for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and wanted to participate. When Dani raised concerns over the distance Gabi was quick to say “‘they’re fighting for their life mom, it’s the least we can do,’” recalls Dani.

thurston county relay for life

Gabi Charmesky, with the support of her mom, Dani, started a team to raise funds for the local chapter of Relay for Life.

Unfortunately, Race for the Cure doesn’t allow participants under the age of sixteen. Dani did a little digging and found the local chapter of American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  Gabi started her own team – Cray Cray – and together they raised $5,000.

This year both Gabi and Dani want to do even more. Dani has enlisted the help of the roller derby community – she’s a member of the Oly Rollers. They’re going to hold a fundraiser on Thursday, June 19 at Skateland. Doors open at 6:30 pm and will feature four different teams – Cray Cray Strikes Back, Hashtag, Yo Moma and Selfie. There will also be food, an auction and raffle. Tickets are by donation but the suggested price is $5.

Gabi hopes to raise $5,000 before Relay for Life on June 27. At the moment she’s collected just over $2,000. When asked what makes her daughter so special Dani says, “the whole town contributes to what she is, not just us.  This is a product of where we live.”

So why does a young girl get involved with something so heavy? One of Gabi’s classmates has a sister who is battling cancer. This is how she could help. The message resonated with Dani. During last year’s event she recalls seeing cancer survivors walk the first lap. “I looked across and I saw this family that I know.  I looked at my husband and told him ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’”

But she did and so did Gabi. In fact, Gabi was the only member of her team who stayed the entire time.  She took a brief nap between 12:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. but that’s it. She walked the rest of the 24-hour event.

Mother and daughter are more resolute than ever. Besides the $5,000, the pair hope to raise another $2,000 at Relay for Life. “Cancer hits everybody,” says Dani. “I play derby, I have good things and at any given time it can be done.”

Gabi, her bright socks dangling off the bench, puts it more succinctly.  “Cancer sucks.”

You can donate to Gabi’s team by clicking on the link.  Relay for Life of Thurston County is slated for June 27, beginning at 6:00 pm at Timberline High School.


Ralph’s Thriftway: A Pioneer in Commercial Recycling and Composting

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 11:23am



olympia recycling programs

Ralph’s Thriftway goes beyond the established recycling and composting programs to pursue as many reusable and repurposed efforts as possible. Oil from their deli is collected in fifty gallon drums to eventually be cleaned, filtered and sold by the oil recycling company.

Businesses and municipalities throughout the nation are now adopting ways in which to compost food waste.  Composting large quantities of unused food and reducing the amount of material sent to landfills results in significant environmental benefits and cost savings.

As some of the biggest cities and largest supermarket chains begin composting programs they likely should have called Sally Egan at Ralph’s Thriftway, owned by Stormans Inc..  Egan spearheaded a recycling and composting program at the store long before composting unused food reached our nation’s consciousness.

Egan has been the bookkeeper for Ralph’s Thriftway for 24 years. Despite her financial management role, she did not initially implement the store’s recycling and composting program as a cost savings initiative.  Rather she was inspired by her personal practices at home as an avid recycler. Egan confessed, “I would come to work and be upset about what I was seeing in the garbage.” So she took it upon herself to make a change.

Egan first introduced a recycling program and later pursued composting. She explains, “I got support from my boss and then learned what to do from Spencer Orman, the City of Olympia Waste Management Coordinator. Now, there are so many resources and easily accessible information, but back then I was creating everything on my own.”

Egan explains that she laid out samples of recycled material on her floor at home.

She then took pictures of the items and created posters to be laminated and displayed in the stores’ break room. The posters were a visual tool to help educate co-workers about recyclable materials. Then each morning Egan would go through the recycle bins to make sure everything was in its correct place. Often she would recognize that the intentions were good but items were not in the right place.

The success of commercial recycling and composting programs hinges upon educating participants and ensuring no contamination. “I made it my personal mission to train employees and guarantee non-contamination. In the beginning this was a daily task. Now I just make a quick check once a week,” Egan shares.

olympia recycling

Homemade signage designed by Sally Egan of Ralph’s Thriftway to help educate employees learn what can be recycle or composted and what is garbage.

Once the recycling program was underway, Egan pursued composting. She admits that the composting program grew quickly as the store creates plenty of compostable material, such as produce trimmings, plants from the flower shop, bakery goods, shredded post office paper, and all kinds of food scraps even meat and fish which are staged in the cooler in large bins until pick up day.

The environmental benefits of composting are significant. As food and other organic waste decomposes in landfills, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Composting, meanwhile, takes that waste and turns it into a rich fertilizer that can then be used to grow more food.

Even though Ralph’s Thriftway has a robust recycling and composting program through the City of Olympia that has tremendously reduced the store’s waste and increased cost savings, Egan felt there was still more that could be done. For example, Ralph’s Chinatown deli uses cooking oil. The store previously paid to dispose of the oil. Now the store collects the used oil in 50-gallon drums for an oil recycling company who then pays Ralph’s so that they can clean, filter and resell the oil.

Additionally, Stormans has been well known for initiating a plastics recycling program for our community. Not only do the locally owned stores provide a drop off location for customers but they also collect their own plastics from shrink wrapped pallets and floral deliveries for recycling.

Yet there remained one item for which Egan struggled to find a recycling or composting solution – styrofoam. Some floral and produce packaging use styrofoam, which cannot be included in the regular recycling and composting. However, through Egan’s research she discovered a local styrofoam recycler who was willing to accept her loaded up trailer of styrofoam on an as needed basis.

olympia recycling program

The large compost and recycling bins are kept behind the store and now outnumber garbage pickup in both size and frequency.

Dedicated recycling and composting programs are often not apparent. Most of the efforts are in the back rooms of the store or in the large bins tucked away in the alley. While we might not see all the recycling and composting conducted at Ralph’s Thriftway, their endeavors have not gone unnoticed. Stormans has been recognized as an environmental leader in our community since the early 1990s. In 1992, Stormans Inc. received a proclamation from the Mayor for its recycling efforts and a recycling award from the Washington State Department of Ecology for the best commercial recycling pilot program. In 1995 Stormans received a Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling award again from the Washington State Department of Ecology. And for Egan’s collaborative work with Orman in helping to promote commercial composting she is featured in the City of Olympia’s Commercial Organics Collection brochure.

To learn more about the City of Olympia’s commercial composting click here.


Getting Back to Nature is the Goal of for Heaven’s Sake Rescue and Rehabilitation

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 6:34am



By Eric Wilson-Edge

lucky eagleDeer are supposed to run away when you get close. Willow doesn’t. She walks right up and nuzzles her head into my chest.  Someone raised Willow as a pet. The State of Washington found out and brought her here to For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation in rural Thurston County.

olympia wild animal rehabWillow lets me rub her ears. I’m equal parts amazed and confused. She finds Claudia Supensky and begins to sniff. “In the wild, deer smell each other’s breath to identify each other,” says Supensky.

This is Willow’s home now. She can never be released into the wild. Instead, she and another doe are used to help teach rescued fawns how to be deer. The fawns, like most of the animals at For Heaven’s Sake, will eventually be returned to nature.

For Heaven’s Sake is situated on eight acres of land near Rochester. Claudia runs the non-profit with her husband David and a team of volunteers. The first thing I see when I arrive is an enclosure. Staring right at me with his huge eyes is an owl.

Supensky takes me around.  She has an owl pendant on her shirt. “There’s nothing I don’t like, but I just truly enjoy owls,” says Supensky. Her career helping animals began at a young age. Claudia grew up in Texas.  One day a rancher brought over three little jack rabbits – he’d accidentally ran over the nest while plowing the field. Supensky raised them and eventually sent them back into the wild.

olympia animal rehabWe step inside a trailer. It’s tiny and filled with the chirps of baby birds. Claudia uncovers a nest. Four mouths instantly open. Supensky plunges a syringe into a grey colored formula and gives each bird some food. “Volunteers are feeding baby birds every twenty minutes,” says Supensky.

There are a lot of birds – and opossums, squirrels, rabbits, ducks, chickens, etc. They came to For Heaven’s Sake for one reason or another. One of the rabbits was shot. A pigeon ran into the windshield of a car. The Canada goose had its wings clipped.

Claudia shows me the medical building. We talk about the scale of her project. Nearly everything is paid for by donations. All of the food, medical supplies and materials comes from the generosity of others.  The new x-ray machine was paid for by a grant.

The phone rings. David needs help locating an opossum someone called in earlier. I meander into the next room. I’m looking at the baby owls when Claudia finds me. The owls are huddled together in a mass of patchy white fluff.

I think I’ve seen everything when Claudia opens a cage and hands me a river otter. Oscar squirms in my arms for a minute until he finds a warm spot. Oscar’s mother left him behind. He lifts his head, his eyes still closed, and I want to adopt him on the spot.

olympia animal rehabBut that’s not the point. As Claudia explains it, caring for wounded or abandoned animals is a delicate process. The goal is to help them recover so they can leave. One has to be especially careful around babies who have little exposure to the outside world.

Oscar has since been transferred to a facility that is better equipped to handle marine life. He’ll learn how to swim when he’s four months old and, at 18 months, he’ll join his brethren in the river. “Otters have to be with each other or they won’t do well,” says Supensky.

As we walk back to the entrance Claudia shows me where new enclosures will be built. For Heaven’s Sake is expanding at a steady rate. This is a far cry from when Supensky started out five years ago. The only “building” was the trailer I mentioned earlier.

I am treated to one last surprise. Claudia lets me pet Cruiser, a Saw-whet owl. He cannot fly so, like Willow, he will remain at For Heaven’s Sake.   Cruiser is an educational animal which means he can be used to inform the general public about wildlife.  He likes his head rubbed a certain way, not too rough, just a lite ruffle of the feathers.

I wish he could be released but at least here I know he’ll be loved and looked after.


Thrifty Thurston Catches $1 Movies in Olympia

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 5:26am



By Kate Scriven

get logoAlthough our summer has started fairly gray and a bit wet, there are months ahead of us that promise sunshine and warm days.  With the lazy days of summer on the horizon comes the promise of unstructured playtime, pajamas until noon, slip-n-slide parties and melting popsicles.  As well as the promise of cranky kids, bickering siblings and the inevitable, “Mom, I’m bored.”

cheap movies olympia

$1 movies play each Tuesday and Wednesday through August 20, putting smiles on everyone’s faces.

Thrifty Thurston to the rescue.  Break up the weekly routine by taking the kids to the movies.  Wait, you say, the movies are anything but thrifty these days, especially when taking a carload of kids.  Luckily this summer sees the return of the $1 summer movie at both local theaters.  An easy way to please the kids, grab 90 minutes of sitting in one place, and beat the summer heat on a hot day.

Lacey’s Regal Cinemas is sponsoring the Summer Movie Express.   Every Tuesday and Wednesday, starting June 24, the theater will be showing a variety of great family films for $1 each.  Titles include favorites that appeal to a variety of age ranges and are different on Tuesday and Wednesday offering 18 different titles through August 20.

This summer all titles are rated PG and a full schedule can be found here by entering your zip code.  Scheduled shows include Rise of the Gaurdians, Rio 2, The Adventures of Tintin and the insanely popular LEGO movie.  Yes, everything really IS awesome this summer.

A portion of all ticket sales at the Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express is also donated to the Will Rogers Foundation supporting research and education on cardio-pulmonary disease.  Cheap movies and charity?  Everyone wins!

If you live in Olympia, you can hit Capital Mall ahead of the crowds and visit the Century Olympia Theater each Tuesday and Wednesday for their Summer Movie Clubhouse.  With a different movie title each day, there is sure to be a film favorite showing for your brood.

cheap summer movies

A 10 movie Punch Card is available for only $5 at Century Theater at Capital Mall.

Showings began continue through August 20.  The same movie is shown Tuesday and Wednesday, so pick your day and mark the calendar.  Scheduled films also include the favorite LEGO movie and Rio 2 as well as Alvin and the Chipmunks “The Squeakquel and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

Tickets at Century are also $1 each, however Century offers a 10-week punch card for $5 available at the box office or online.  Yes, you did your math correctly.  That’s a fifty cent movie.  In today’s world, you can’t even buy gum for that price.  There are a few guidelines on the punch card, however.  Each person must have a punch card for entry, meaning you cannot buy one card and punch it four times for your group.  Rats.  However, the cards can be used by anyone, so buy an extra and bring a different friend along each week.  For $5 (less than the cost of a Venti Frappuccino) you can watch movies all summer long.  It’s really a no brainer.

And for the truly thrifty, download the Summer Movie Clubhouse flyer by clicking on the Capital Mall Theater name on the Clubhouse main page.  Print the flyer for $1 off a kids concession pack.  You can also sign up for concession coupons here.

While it will cost you more than $1, Century Theater is hosting “Discount Day” each Tuesday.  All movies are $5.50 all day making it a great way to catch the newest releases without breaking the bank.

So when summer begins to lose its luster and the kids, and you, are feeling a bit antsy, head to the theater.  I will be there, kids in tow, with a large-sized popcorn just for me.  Because, let’s be honest. While the prices put a smile on my face and a weekly trip to the theater will thrill my kids, I’m really there for the popcorn.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  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.


Group Explores Port’s Role In Emergency Response

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 4:58pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Port of OlympiaIn the wake of an earthquake or other emergency that blocks or limits ground transportation, Port of Olympia’s Marine Terminal offers the open water highway for moving food, water, medical supplies, equipment and people, according to Mike Crawford, Facility Security Officer.

Mike gave an overview of the Port’s role in emergency response to the Thurston Area Emergency Public Information Network members who toured the Marine Terminal on June 11.

After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security tightened security requirements for ports nationwide. Port of Olympia has worked successfully to secure grant funds that were made available for meeting the new requirements.

While much of the new security systems are specific to the Port itself, Mike explained that some of the equipment could also assist local jurisdictions during a crisis.

For example, the Port’s emergency portable lighting tower can be dispatched and activated in minutes. The touring group identified uses for the lighting tower, including its potential for a recent exercise which JBLM conducted with the City of Lacey. The exercise simulated a JBLM helicopter crash on I-5 that involved injuries, vehicles and structures. The lighting tower would benefit the emergency responders who worked on the scene into the night.

Marine Terminal Tours touch on Port history, international trade, cargoes, and the jobs and equipment on the working waterfront. Tours can also be tailored to your interests, as was this tour for emergency communicators. Call 528-8005 to schedule a tour for your group.

The Hirsch Center Answers: What is an Integrative Medicine Practice?

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 1:04pm


 Submitted by Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine

hirschAt Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine, we welcome new patients into our practice almost every day. Some people have done their research and are eager to begin working with an integrative holistic provider while others know very little about what to expect from an integrative medicine practice.

It isn’t essential that a patient understand all of the principles of integrative holistic medicine in order to heal and receive the best care. Whether the patient possesses the knowledge or not, our team of skilled providers and front desk staff hold the vision for this type of medicine. But sometimes, and for some people, when they have a fuller understanding of the environment, and the medicine being practiced, they can have a deeper, more meaningful experience and get the most out of their healing journey.

So what is an Integrative Medicine Practice? The American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine outlines the principles of integrative holistic medicine as follows:

  1. Optimal health is the primary goal of a holistic medical practice. This comes from the conscious pursuit of the highest level of functioning and balance of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of human experience. The result is a state of being fully alive, a condition of well-being transcending the mere absence or presence of disease.
  2. The Healing Power of Love: Integrative holistic physicians strive to relate to patients with grace, kindness and acceptance, emanating from the attitude of unconditional love as life’s most powerful healer.
  3. Wholeness: Illness is a dysfunction of the whole person – body, mind and spirit – or the environment in which they live, rather than simply a physical disorder or a random isolated event.
  4. Prevention and treatment: Integrative holistic practitioners promote health, prevent illness and manage disease processes. Integrative holistic medical treatment balances relief of symptoms with mitigation of causes.
  5. Innate healing power: All persons have innate powers of healing of body, mind and spirit. Integrative holistic physicians evoke these powers and help patients utilize them to affect the healing process.
  6. Integration of healing systems: Integrative holistic physicians embrace a variety of safe and effective options in diagnosis and treatment, including education for lifestyle changes and self-care, complementary approaches, and conventional drugs and surgery.
  7. Relationship-centered care: The quality of the relationship between physician and patient is a major determinant of healing outcomes, which encourages patient autonomy and values the needs and insights of patient and practitioner alike.
  8. Individuality: Integrative holistic physicians expend as much effort in discerning a patient’s uniqueness as they do in establishing what disease may be present.
  9. Teaching by example: Integrative holistic physicians continually work toward the personal incorporation of the principles of holistic health, in turn profoundly influencing patients by their own example and lifestyle choices.
  10. Learning opportunities: All life experiences including birth, illness, suffering, joy, and the dying process are profound learning opportunities for both patients and integrative holistic physicians.

These are the principles we strive for in our practice and in our lives each and every day, and it is what we believe is possible for every provider, patient and for the future of medicine as a whole.


KGY/KAYO Renew Studio Lease at Port of Olympia

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 12:51pm



Submitted by KGY/KAYO

KGY1960IIRadio station KGY AM1240/FM95.3 and sister station KAYO FM 96.9 (KYYO) have announced reaching agreement with the Port of Olympia to extend their studio lease on Budd Bay at Swantown. The new lease will keep these legendary radio stations in their current location for the next ten (10) years.

“The Port and KGY have a long history of working together and we’re very pleased to be here for the foreseeable future,” said Jackson Dell Weaver, General Manager of the stations. KGY built the historic waterfront studios and offices in 1960. The stations have been owned by the Kerry family since 1939.

KGY programming is focused on Thurston county with a mix of 60s and 70s oldies along with local news while KAYO is a regional country music station serving multiple counties including Thurston, Pierce, Mason and Lewis. .

Jennifer Kerry, President of KGY, Inc. commented, “Our family is very proud of what KGY has represented in the Olympia community and to continue to be part of the Port is very gratifying,”

Bill McGregor, Port Commission President, said, “We are very pleased that KGY—a community icon—will continue to be a resident on the Port Peninsula and we wish them every success in the coming years.”


Law Enforcement Agencies in Southwestern Washington Warn Drivers to ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ This Fourth of July

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 12:45pm



Submitted by Thurston County

Increased Enforcement for June and July

olympia fireworksAmericans love to celebrate the Fourth of July with family, friends, food and fireworks, but too often alcohol turns the party into a tragedy, making this iconic holiday one of the most deadly days of the year on the nation’s roads.

That’s why this June through July, Thurston, Gray’s Harbor, Cowlitz, and Lewis Counties are stepping up police presence throughout the entire southwest Washington region as part of the “DUI Summer Kick-Off” enforcement crackdown to catch and arrest impaired drivers who put themselves and others at risk.

“Local police will be out in force throughout this Independence Day, on the lookout for motorists who have had too much alcohol to be behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said Thurston County’s Target Zero Manager Jerry Noviello.  “Police will have zero tolerance for drivers who drink and drive this July 4th, putting themselves and everyone else on our roads at risk of life and limb.”

While death and injury are of course the most serious of possible consequences of drunk driving, there are other negative considerations that can affect lives for many years, including loss of a driver licenses, vehicle impoundment, jail time, lawyer fees, court costs, insurance hikes, just to name a few.

Be safe while you’re having fun this summer.  If you’re impaired, use a taxi or call a sober friend or family member. And if you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local police.

Exhibitor’s Guide for 2014 Thurston County Fair Now Online

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 12:39pm



Submitted by The Thurston County Fair

thurston county fair 4h featuredWhether your specialty is food, crafts, animals or art, the 2014 Thurston County Fair has an exhibit or contest you’re sure to love. The 2014 Fair Exhibitor’s Guide is now available online with over 60 pages filled with information and contest rules.

All of the information and details you need to compete in hundreds of open class and club contests are included in the guide, plus information on entry forms, camping, the annual Youth Market Animal Sale, and other information about this year’s fair which runs July 30 through August 3. Download the complete 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide at

Entry forms for all animals for the 2014 fair contests are due on Tuesday, July 1. All FFA members and open class entries must be turned in to the Fair Office by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, and all 4-H animal participants must submit their entry forms by 5 p.m. to the 4-H Extension Office at 5033 Harrison Ave. NW in West Olympia. Many entry forms are available at the Fair Office or online at Members of FFA and 4-H should contact their local club for more information on animal entries.

The 2014 Thurston County Fair also has lots of volunteer opportunities that will be fun for the whole herd. Contact the Thurston County Fair Office for more information about volunteering for this year’s fair.

For more information on the 2014 Thurston County Fair Exhibitor’s Guide, contest entry forms, volunteer opportunities, or other fair activities, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit

“Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!”

July 30 – Aug. 3

Lacey Names 2014 Historian of the Year

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 7:59am



Submitted by The City of Lacey

laceys richard jones historian of the yearLacey Museum volunteer Richard Jones has been named as the city’s 2014 Historian of the Year by Mayor Andy Ryder and the Lacey City Council. Lacey’s Historical Commission unanimously approved the nomination in recognition of Jones’ breadth of knowledge about the early days of Lacey’s incorporation and volunteer work at the museum.

Jones served on the first Lacey City Council in 1966, giving a presentation to Council late last year describing the early days of incorporation and the first Council meetings. He has been a regular volunteer at the museum for the past year and his knowledge of Lacey’s early history has aided in cataloguing and organizing its collection.

The award was made during the city’s observance of Lacey History Month, which encourages citizens in discovering and celebrating Lacey’s 162 years of history during the month of June and throughout the year.

For more information on the Historian of the Year program or the Lacey Historical Commission, please call the Lacey Parks and Recreation department at (360) 491-0857, or the Lacey Museum at (360) 438-0209.


Apple Tree Productions – New Option in Olympia for Kids Theater Performances

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 6:00am



By Alec Clayton

woodshed_logo03People who can fondly recall the early days of community theater in Olympia may remember a couple of girls who were involved in many now historic productions: Heidi Fredericks and Colleen Powers.  Now with children of their own, both of these women have theater in the blood, with lifelong histories of working in theater, especially children’s theater.

olympia kids theater

Actress Grace Clarke reads a script.

When Capital Playhouse closed, its vaunted children’s theater program, Kids At Play, Fredericks and Powers saw a gaping hole that needed to be filled.  The duo promptly started Apple Tree Productions, a production company specializing in children’s theater. The name sounds more like a professional production company than a children’s summer theater camp because that is the model they work on, but it is a little of both.

“We felt that kids who grew up in [Capital Theater's Kids at Play] would want to continue,” Powers says. Both women acknowledge that there are fine children’s theater programs in the community but feel there is a need for more.

Fredericks grew up in Olympia and was in the very first Kids At Play show 28 years ago when she was eleven.  She took part in every one of their summer shows after that until she was grown. She also did shows with Harlequin Productions. As a teenager she played Ophelia in “Hamlet” at Harlequin and Julia in “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Plus she was in the first “Rocky Horror Show,” twenty years ago and a few years later was again in “Rocky,” this time at Capital Playhouse.

olympia kids theater

Heidi Fredericks (left) and Colleen Powers are the forces behind Apple Tree Productions. Photo credit: Gabi Clayton

Fredericks studied theater at Timberline High School under the tutelage of Brenda Amburgy, and after graduating she went to the Boston Conservatory to study musical theater, and later studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Back home in Olympia, she worked for a time with the Washington State House of Representatives and for the Washington State Highway Patrol. She returned to college in Minnesota and then came back home to Olympia for good where she started working on Capital Playhouse’s Students on Stage program twelve years ago.

Fredericks directed a number of shows including recent productions of “Hair,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”

Powers is a graduate of Illinois State University with an education degree. She has taught English and Drama at Olympia High School and directed the Kids At Play summer program for the past 22 years. She directed “Oliver” at Capital Playhouse and “Grease” and “Places in the Heart” at Saint Martin’s University.

After the Kids At Play program was ended, many elementary schools called her to ask if she would still be doing plays. That was when Fredericks and Powers decided to start Apple Tree Productions. “We felt that even though there is a lot of great children’s theater, we felt we have our own style,” explaining that rather than a major emphasis on instruction they use an audition, rehearse and perform model, which gives the kids a feeling for what professional theater is like.

This will be Apple Tree’s first summer season. In addition to Fredericks and Powers, Amburgy will teach there this summer. Other adult staff include Bruce Haasl as set designer, Dennis Kurtz as technical director. Rehearsals for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” begin on June 30 with performances slated for July 31 to August 3 at Tumwater High School.  Apple Tree will also have a show for special needs kids called “Showcase” to run June 30 to July 25.

olympia kids theater

Theater participants, Ivana Staples, Ava Ellery, Ellie Anders and Haley Butler are looking forward to upcoming Apple Tree Productions numbers.

Enrollment in the program for children ages seven to eighteen is open until June 30. The cost is $500 for a five-week program. Only those enrolled in the program can audition for the shows.

Apple Tree Productions will also host a special Children’s Theater Day in Huntamer Park in Lacey in late July in conjunction with Olympia Family Theatre and Creative Theatre Experience and other area theater companies. There will be games and celebration and performances of scenes from shows.

For more information, visit Apple Tree Productions on Facebook or email Heidi Fredericks at  She can also be reached at (360) 359-6685.


Doug Walker Photography: Making Everyday Moments Phenomenal

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 5:48am



By Gale Hemmann

Puget Sound EnergyWhether you see Doug Walker’s photos zipping by on buses around town or drawing your eye on a beautiful new website, his work creates a lasting impression.

"American Made"

“American Made”

Walker, owner of Doug Walker Photography, doesn’t just take photos, he makes them. From learning about a business’ mission to creating an overall “story” for a project, Walker has earned high praise from clients and many prestigious awards for his work. He specializes in “stunning images of people and the places they live in work in,” and his photos truly capture the essence of a person or structure, radiating an inner life from buildings and human subjects alike. From architectural photos to food to family portraits, Walker brings out the magic in everyday life.

We are lucky to have such a talented photographer in our midst. I recently met with Walker at Batdorf and Bronson’s tasting room in downtown Olympia. As we sipped their daily blends, Walker told me a little more about his work and what he enjoys most about his career.

doug walker photography

Doug Walker creates images for commercial customers, such as this photograph for Clackamas Mall.

Pleasant and polished, Walker is at ease talking about a number of subjects, and truly lights up when describing his approach to photography. From talking about his love of taking pictures at dusk to creating the perfect “signature image” for a company, he is passionate and almost philosophical about the subject.

It seems Doug Walker Photography’s success lies at the nexus of talent and commitment, big-scale accomplishments and dedication to his local community. He has over twenty years’ experience in commercial photography, and has won many awards, including the 2014 Commercial Photographer of the Year award from the Professional Photographers of Washington (his seventh) and was a Bronze Award Winner at the 2012 International Photographers Competition. He boasts big-name clients as well as local businesses in his dossier. Though he has been recognized on the national level, Walker truly loves working closely with regional clients.

Walker is an Olympia native. He grew up in the Steamboat Island area, attending Griffin School and Olympia High School. He then attended the prestigious Brooks Institute in California, where he earned a degree in photography. Walker is a student and mentee of the legendary underwater photographer and Ernie Brooks. (Read the ThurstonTalk article about Brooks here).

doug walker photography

“Personal Trainer”

Simply put, Walker’s photos will blow you away. Whether it’s of a welder at work or a new municipal building, his work is unique in that it surpasses our standard notions of commercial photography, truly elevating everyday subjects into the realm of fine art. He is able to meet the client’s business needs and then exceed them by infusing each photo with his creative eye.

Some examples of his work around town include photos for Intercity Transit buses and the City of Lacey’s new website, and a re-branding campaign for the Washington State Liquor Control Board. He is also the person behind the signature images of local favorite Walter Dacon Wines.

Doug Walker has also done several projects for I.P. Callison & Sons, the world’s largest suppliers of quality mint oils, headquartered right here in Lacey. Many other fine projects come from his collaboration with GCI Marketing, a local marketing firm.

He also regularly works for MSGS Architects and KMB Design Groups, both prominent architects in Olympia, and has taken some absolutely stunning photos of the new Olympia City Hall, among many other buildings.

doug walker photography

A striking image of the Tacoma Dome station was created by Doug Walker Photography.

As a long-time member of The Valley Athletic Club, Walker recently approached them about displaying a series of grungy sports portraits of members. You can look forward to seeing the magical photos lining the walls of this popular athletic venue soon. (In the meantime, you can view one of his award-winning images from this project in this ThurstonTalk article).

Walker focuses on providing great customer service, no matter how big or small the project. He has many loyal clients, and is the go-to photographer in our area if you want stunning results.

As Walker’s career has grown, he feels it is important to keep giving back to the local community. He volunteered as Den Leader and then Cubmaster for Pack 266 for eight years running.  He currently serves as President of the Professional Photographers of Washington and as a councilor to the Professional Photographers of America, both volunteer positions which he feels honored to hold.

He works with the Thurston County Economic Development Council and is involved in their efforts to promote Thurston County. He has also exhibited his work at Olympia Arts Walk, joining in the local artistic community for this creative celebration.

"Courtside Dreams"

“Courtside Dreams”

In addition to being a top-notch photographer, Walker is also a dedicated parent who enjoys raising his two sons. He stays busy with scouting and swimming activities, but always makes time to be involved in family life.

Walker relishes life in Thurston County.  He returned to the area in 1993 and has since called it home. Some of his favorite elements are the great coffee and the beautiful water setting of Puget Sound. He holds fond memories of growing up here and spending lots of time outdoors. His deep connection to and understanding of his native environment – from its people to its natural light qualities to its best spots for photo shoots – no doubt informs his work.

In talking with Walker, it is clear that while he is truly a first-class photographer, he is also a local at heart. And it is this winning combination that he brings together for his clients.

doug walker photography

A local Thurston County resident, Doug Walker has won numerous accolades for his photography.

We wound up our interview with Walker describing an upcoming shoot, in which a client who is a swimmer will be photographed emerging from the water of Puget Sound at dusk. He had thought through the image in detail, and perhaps this image is the best metaphor for his work – technical precision combined with an organic love of life in the area.

One of Walker’s upcoming new projects is doing the photography for the much-awaited new façade on the Washington Center for the Performing Arts (designed by MSGS Architects). 

Walker is available to teach workshops to individuals and groups. He works with clients to give them a “ground school,” as he calls it (Walker is also a recreational pilot) in how to capture great photos, and then he sends them out in the world on their own to fly.

To learn more about Doug’s work, to view his extraordinary portfolio, and to learn more about becoming a client or taking a workshop, stop by his website, Doug Walker Photography.


South Sound Solar: Sustainable Living

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 6:00am



South Sound Solar-Chicken CoopOne visit to South Sound Solar’s office and it is immediately evident that this is not just a business, but rather a highly educated team of solar experts.  The crew has made an intentional lifestyle choice, a commitment to living sustainably, a goal to reduce energy dependence and a decision to share their passion for solar.

South Sound Solar is a family business located on a few acres where the Haffner’s live and work aspiring to a simple and sustainable existence.  Kirk Haffner, founder and President of South Sound Solar started his business in his living room in 2007. After thirty years in the green energy movement and determined to apply his Masters in Physics toward the science of solar, Haffner was intent on educating others about the benefits of solar  as an individual energy source for Northwest residences and businesses.

Well known as the “solar guy” in our community, Haffner’s solar expertise is indisputable. His reputation regarding sustainable living practices is commendable as the South Sound Solar headquarters located on the family hobby farm utilizes water conservation, rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, repurposed solar, gardening, small livestock, and a self converted electric car.

The real gift to our community is Haffner’s ability and willingness to educate people on the benefits of solar. As a former award-winning teacher, Haffner skillfully shares his knowledge of solar in an easy understandable manner during free workshops.

South Sound Solar’s goal is to educate and encourage people to change the way they think about energy and empower them to become energy producers. They are an ever-present community sponsor for events such as the Hands On Children’s Museum’s Sand in the City, as well as instrumental in solar legislation and policy making.

Dever Kuni, Vice President of South Sound Solar helped create Washington’s first solar installer trade organization as well as speaking at Governor Inslee’s Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup.

To learn more about South Sound Solar visit their website by clicking here, calling 360-352-7869, or attending an upcoming informational workshop.


The Healing Power of Massage

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 6:00am



olympia wa day spaTouch.

Touch is healing.

Touch is acceptance and the single most powerful and healing thing one person can do for another. Massage therapy is positive healing touch.

Massage is humankind’s original form of healthcare. It came long before doctors or surgeons.

Massage assists the body in healing itself, by increasing circulation throughout the body’s tissues. Circulation delivers nutrition, better hydration and oxygen to areas of tissue that were not previously getting what they needed. Circulation also removes the toxins from the body.

The knots, adhesions, tension, hypertoxicity, or the pain we feel are some of the areas in our bodies that need better circulation.

Adhesions are like roadblocks that do not allow the circulation into a damaged area. Adhesions can be located where the body has sustained trauma or is a result of an extreme lack of hydration. When circulation bypasses an area, the problem gets worse, it festers, and surrounding tissue suffers.

Hypertonicity is muscle tissue under constant overbearing strain. The muscle tissue is simply overtaxed with responsibilities and is not able to heal.

Pain is the way your body tells you it needs assistance.

Massage therapy can break down adhesions and relieve hypertonicity. Massage takes the pain away naturally by encouraging and assisting the body to help itself.

Listen to your body. Stop living with pain. Get a massage.

Don Harkcom LMP graduated from the Ashmead School of Massage in 2005 with honors.

He believes that all massage starts with relaxation techniques to reduce stress, alleviate pain and increase circulation. Don specializes in therapeutic treatment massage for people with chronic pain and fatigue. He also treats injuries from car accidents and work related accidents, as well as sports massage for athletic competition, including pregame warm-ups/stretching and post event deep tissue massage.

Don is also available for chair massage at events.

Harkcom’s Massage Therapy is located inside the Merle Norman in Lacey.

Merle Norman Cosmetics, Wigs and Day Spa

3925 – 8th Avenue SE, Suite F

Lacey, WA 98503

Capital City Pride Festival – Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Future

Sun, 06/15/2014 - 4:00pm



By Eric Wilson-Edge

2013 Olympia Wasihngton Pride Festival and Parade (84)The Capital City Pride Festival starts Friday, June 20. The event brings 15,000 people into the downtown area for a weekend of fun and celebration. “Think of it as LBGT Lakefair – without the rides,” says Pride Chair Anna Schlecht.

This year’s Pride promises to be bigger than any other in the event’s 24-year history. The festival kicks off with a street dance in front of the Urban Onion. There will also be fire-twirlers and search lights. On Saturday “Rhythm is a Dancer” singer Thea Austin performs. The event’s biggest draw – the parade – is on Sunday.

This year’s Pride also has major sponsorship from companies like Mini-Cooper and Absolute Vodka.  Despite the growth, Schlecht believes balance is important. “We want people to feel they’re part of the festival, that you won’t get lost in the crowd.”

2013 Olympia Wasihngton Pride Festival and Parade (66)Not too long ago Pride Festivals were only held in major cities like Seattle or San Francisco. In the early 1990s a group of community based drag queen performers and The Evergreen State College students decided to hold an event in Olympia. Schlecht has been involved since the beginning. She says, “Olympia was the first small town Pride in Washington State.” The rationale for staging one here is simple.  “If we can’t celebrate Pride at home then it has no meaning anywhere,” says Schlect.

Three hundred people attended the first Pride in Olympia in 1991. At that time, Pride focused more on activism and spreading the message about LGBT rights. Schlecht considered herself a hardcore activist and this approach seemed right to her. However, other members of the LBGT community wanted something different. “We needed to celebrate the things we’re fighting for,” says Schlecht. “It took me awhile to realize this. We had to start creating the community we wanted to live in.”

capital city pride48-year-old Troy Dazell remembers the early years of Pride. Dazell, also known as Flirticia Fondue, lived in Seattle for 19 years. “My first experiences attending Pride Parades in Seattle were joyous and sorrowful at the same time,” says Dazell. He recalls seeing police officers, teachers and fire fighters walking with bags over their heads out of fear they could be fired. “It brought me to tears. It still does,” says Dazell.

An Olympia native, Dazell moved back a few years ago. In 2011 he entered a contest called “So You Think You Can Drag” put on by the Capital City Pride Foundation. He won. His prize included a chance to perform in the festival.

The change in attitudes isn’t lost on Dazell. “To be part of these celebrations now, this many years later is moving to say the least.” Dazell stays involved with Pride for a number of reasons including a sense of responsibility to honor those lost to HIV and AIDs. “I participate in memory of my friends who’ve died and I participate to see the beautiful diversity our community embraces,” says Dazell.

2013 Olympia Wasihngton Pride Festival and Parade (184)A lot has changed in the 24 years since the first Pride in Olympia. The festival reflects this shift. The event has something for everyone. Families are encouraged to attend. Schlecht tells me Olympia was one of the first Pride Festivals to ensure that GLBT families were welcomed with fun activities for kids.

Despite the broad acceptance some may be hesitant to attend. “The single most important element of our evolution has been letting our friends and family and coworkers know who we are,” says Schlecht.  “We walk among you – we are your police officers, fire fighters, baristas, parents and grandparents.”

Dazell puts it another way, “These are people you have much more in common with than you realize, they’re just maybe a little more colorfully dressed.”

For complete event information, including an entertainment line-up, click here.


Dump the Pump and Save This Summer

Sun, 06/15/2014 - 10:50am



Submitted by Intercity Transit

As gas prices increase and add pressure to household budgets, public transportation agencies across the country encourage commuters and travelers to consider their transportation options this month. And locally, three Thurston County public transportation partners, Intercity Transit, WSDOT, and Amtrak Cascades formed a multimodal partnership to help people “Dump the Pump.” Over the next month, a series of community events are planned for area residents, commuters, and out-of-town travelers to explore their travel options:

  • Olympia: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thurs., June 19, Olympia Farmers Market (700 N Capitol Way) intercity transit dash
  • Tumwater: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed., June 25, Tumwater Farmers Market (Israel Rd & Capitol Blvd)
  • Yelm: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  Sun., June 29, Yelm Farmers Market (17835 State Route 507 SE)
  • Lacey: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wed, July 16, (with Lacey in Tune concert), Huntamer Park (Woodland Square Loop and 7th Avenue SE)

The Dump the Pump events feature customized, one-on-one help for people to explore travel by bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, on foot, or by train. Attendees can learn how to use an easy online trip planner which customizes routes for walking, bicycling, and bus travel. They can also learn about OneBusAway, a real-time bus arrival tool that takes the guesswork out of hopping the bus. And those who want to learn how much they can save based on their specific travel choices can find out with an online commute cost calculator.

In addition, representatives will have information for people interested in combining bicycling with bus travel and demonstrations on how to load a bicycle on an Intercity Transit bicycle rack. Some events will also have bicycle vendors, food for purchase, and entertainment. People who already dump the pump can share their stories about driving less this month and next for a chance to win an Intercity Transit bus pass or tickets for Amtrak Cascades. People can do this in person at a Dump the Pump event or by visiting Intercity Transit’s Facebook page or Amtrak Cascades’ Facebook page.

Lacey Train Station BuildingThe Washington State Department of Transportation and Amtrak Cascades bring additional value to regional Dump the Pump activity by encouraging trial rides by train at reduced rates. Four round-trip trains operate between Portland and Seattle each day. Some trips travel as far north as Vancouver, BC, and south to Eugene, OR, and carry 807,000 passengers who otherwise might travel on the I-5 corridor. Each year, approximately 50,000 travelers arrive or depart on the Cascades line at Thurston County’s historic Centennial Station, the only volunteer-run train station in the United States. Administered by Intercity Transit through a joint operating agreement with area jurisdictions, Centennial Station also has half-hourly bus service (hourly on Sundays) and one of three free park and ride lots in Thurston County.

National Dump the Pump Day is sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), who estimates 50 communities will participate. The event started in 2006 when gas prices were then rising to $3 per gallon. With today’s gas prices near $4 per gallon and household budgets tight, more people use public transportation services. Over 10.7 billion passengers used public transportation last year nationally – the highest level since 1957 – and locally Intercity Transit set record ridership levels in three of the past six years. Train travel throughout the region increased as well and boardings on Amtrak Cascades have risen almost every year since it began operating in 1994. The Amtrak Cascades is funded locally by the state of Washington.

According to the April APTA Transit Savings Report, individuals in a two-person household can save an average of $10,000 annually by making do with one less car. Beyond the monetary savings, use of alternative travel options helps the overall transportation network function better, benefits the economy, protects the environment, improves public – and personal – health, and decreases national dependence on fossil fuels.

For more transit information, visit or call 360.786.1881. For Amtrak Cascades information visit or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.


Scout and Athena: Two Adorable Pups Tell You about McKenna Kennels Pet Resort

Sun, 06/15/2014 - 6:38am



By Gale Hemmann

olympia dog daycare

After careful research, the busy Hall family decided to enroll their dogs in doggie daycare at McKenna Kennels. They said the benefits are numerous and everyone (especially Scout and Athena) are happy. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

I think that McKenna Kennels Pet Resort is a very special place. So do their many loyal human customers. But don’t just take our word for it. They say the best testament to a business is customers’ “word of mouth,” and in this case, that word of mouth comes in the form of wagging tails and ear-to-ear dog smiles on the part of two loyal canine customers, Scout the golden retriever and Athena the Great Dane.

I drove out to McKenna Kennels to meet with owner Hilary Gonia and the Hall family, along with their two charming and energetic dogs. The Halls are loyal customers and enthusiastic proponents of McKenna Kennels’ services. And, it’s easy to see why: upon entering the green, well-kept property, you are greeted with a neat vintage tractor out front, seasonal flowers in full bloom, and the sense that this is a place that really cares about making a happy space for dogs (as well as a pleasant atmosphere for their human owners). They offer both doggie daycare and boarding for cats and dogs, and put their heart into making both services top-notch.

Inside the front office, I was greeted by Gonia and the Halls: parents Brian and Melissa, and their two sons, Ian and Patrick. Scout and Athena hung out with us, clearly at ease in the environment. (The office cat and dog, Gus, also mingled with us.) The Halls enrolled their dogs in doggie daycare at McKenna Kennels about nine months ago. A busy working family, both Melissa and Brian were commuting to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, at the time. (Brian now works in Seattle.)

olympia dog daycare

Scout and Athena play with some of their friends during a typical day at McKenna Kennels Pet Resort. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

Between busy careers and having two kids in school, they found that it was challenging to drive back and forth during the day to let their two dogs out. They wanted their dogs to have a safe, friendly place to be during the week. Athena was also a Great Dane puppy at the time, and as such a large breed, they realized the importance of socialization and stimulation for her.

Loving dog owners, the Halls were interested in the possibility of dog daycare, but wanted to make sure they found the right place. They researched several venues in the area, and decided to bring the dogs out for a trial visit at McKenna Kennels. For Athena and Scout, it was love at first sight (or, perhaps, first wag): the family and dogs alike loved the clean facilities, dedicated staff, reasonable prices, and most of all, the amount of personalized attention each dog received.

The dogs are enthusiastic about coming to visit each day. Melissa notes that Athena begins perking up and eagerly looking out the window in the car as they approach the McKenna Kennels property. Both dogs are excited to come through the door, and associate the words “play time” with coming here. The Halls have also utilized McKenna Kennels dog boarding services over recent vacations, and were very happy with the experience. As Melissa states, “the dogs know it’s a great place.”

olympia dog daycare

Upon entering the spacious and well-kept McKenna Kennels grounds, both you and your pup will feel the happy energy radiated by both the staff and their four-legged guests. Photo courtesy of McKenna Kennels

The owner and staff really get to know each dog’s personality at McKenna Kennels. In fact, that’s one thing that makes it special. Plenty of daily play time is included in your dog’s visit, and dogs have a choice between a community social play yard and individual fenced yards (they also each have a roomy, heated private enclosure for down time and meals). Your dog, if so inclined, will get not just one-on-one time with staff, but will get a chance to meet new dog friends.

Scout and Athena indeed have “best friends” at daycare. Athena, for example, loves to play endless games of fetch with a Dalmatian who is also a regular enrollee. Melissa notes that it is, in many ways, similar to having a child in daycare: the dogs play hard and get plenty of interaction all day, and come home happy, tired, and well-behaved.

As Brian says, McKenna Kennels is “hands-down the best” place around for dogs. The family is very comfortable dropping their dogs off here, knowing that they will be treated with care. He noted that they offer a great value and quality service that stands out above the rest. The Halls recommend the daycare program as a perfect option for working families (including those who work at the military base).

I also asked the youngest son, Ian, what he thought the dogs enjoy most about coming to McKenna Kennels. Without a moment’s hesitation, he responded, “playing.”

olympia dog daycare

While visiting McKenna Kennels, your dog will enjoy daily play in the outdoor yards. There is both a social play yard and individual yards, to best fit your dog’s preference. Photo courtesy of McKenna Kennels

In watching Gonia interact with the family and their dogs, it is clear that her business serves as much more than just a place to take your pet. As Brian noted, “McKenna Kennels staff are like family to us.” As we wound up the interview, a round of fond farewells was said as the Halls said goodbye to Hilary and the dogs exchanged one last friendly nuzzle.

The Halls just can’t say enough about how great Gonia and her staff are with the dogs. “She has the patience of a saint,” says Brian. Brian and Melissa note that Gonia really treats each dog like her own. In fact, she has even shown the Halls cute videos of Athena and Scout playing fetch during the day. Clearly, caring for dogs is more than just a job for Gonia – it’s a passion and one to which she is very dedicated.

As word about McKenna Kennels’ dog daycare and boarding services spreads, spaces are filling up fast. If you have a vacation coming up, or are just looking for an enriching place for your pet to spend the day while you’re at work, I recommend you get in contact with them soon to reserve a spot. As the happy canine ambassadors in this story will tell you, you’ll be glad you did.

To learn more about McKenna Kennels Pet Resort, visit their website or “like” them on Facebook.


Neighborhood Notes – Woodard Lane Cohousing

Sun, 06/15/2014 - 6:27am



By Eric Wilson-Edge

van dorm sponsorThe first thing I notice is the father and son playing basketball.  The boy is little and the ball doesn’t quite reach the hoop.  Behind them is a garden.  Someone is picking the last of the cucumbers and zucchinis.  The path I’m on opens into a horseshoe which is flanked by houses.  There’s a field in the middle with a covered seating area.  Towering deciduous trees hover in the background.  I climb the steps to Liv Monroe’s home and knock.

Monroe is one of the driving forces behind the Woodard Lane Cohousing development in West Olympia.  “We’re an intentional community of people who want to keep the privacy and ownership of their own homes but still want to have community and still get together,” says Monroe.

olympia cohousingCohousing has been around in various forms for years.  The current model began in Denmark during the 1960s.  Monroe got the idea after visiting a cohousing community in Seattle.  At the time she was living in a big house by herself.  “I wanted to way downsize,” says Monroe.  She also wanted a place in the middle of town that felt like a cabin in the woods.  Wherever she went had to have a view of Mount Rainier.

Monroe asks if I’d like cup of tea.  We sit at her table and look out the window.  She points to the spot where I could see Rainier.  The interior is cozy.  There’s a deck out the back door that overlooks a ravine.  Monroe’s home is small by today’s standards and that’s the point.  “You don’t have to have all the things people think they need because we have a common house.”  The common house is a communal space complete with kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom and laundry facility.

In fact, Monroe thinks her home is too big – so she got a housemate.  Oriana Noel Lewis has lived with Monroe since 2010.  “I’ve come to believe that this is how we were meant to live,” says Noel Lewis.  ”There’s something really natural and organic about living with people you know and care about.”

olympia cohousingBuilding relationships is at the core of Woodard Lane’s approach.  Weekly dinners are held at the common house with different people cooking each time.  Each resident is part of a committee who is responsible for everything from landscaping to finances.

A good example of this philosophy in action is the heating.  Each unit is really a fourplex with a shared furnace.  “Heating bills are paid by the community,” says Monroe.  “We have to trust other people like a family.”  There is flexibility.  Parents with a newborn use more heat and that’s okay because it’s what they need.

Those of us who are squeamish about conflict would be a poor fit for cohousing says Monroe.  It seems a critical component of success is conflict resolution.  “We have a heart circle four times a year,” says Monroe.  “Here we’ll learn things like my grandmother died or I’m really afraid of your dog and that’s why I don’t come out when your dog is out.  People get comfortable enough so they can say things that are true for them.”

Of course living in close proximity to one another isn’t without challenges.  “Someone had moved my clothes out of the washer and didn’t put them in the dryer.  If I lived alone this is something I wouldn’t have to deal with.  I sent an email out in the most kind, most clear way to say ‘hey, not okay,’” says Noel Lewis.  Turns out the culprit knew certain things didn’t go in the dryer and chose to air on the side of caution.

For more information visit the Woodard Lane Cohousing website.