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25th Annual “America’s Classic Jazz Festival Scheduled for June 25-28

Sun, 05/31/2015 - 9:57am



Submitted by the Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society

jazz festival laceyJazz, dance, and revelry are the focus of America’s Classic Jazz Festival, taking place June 25-28, 2015, on the Saint Martin’s University CampusMarcus Pavilion in Lacey. Plenty of dance lessons, great bands, and four large dance floors are sure to provide a wonderful time for all. This year music-lovers can listen and dance to Pacific Northwest favorites such as Uptown Lowdown from Bellevue. Or take in jazz greats like Grand Dominion, Tom Hook and his Terriers, High Sierra, and Yerba Buena Stompers. Guest stars include Bob Draga and Katie Cavera. Tom Rigney and flambeau will cover the Cajun and zydeco two steps. The festival band lineup is jazz history on stages in Lacey.

Other festival features include on-site RV parking, shuttle service, parasol parades, a swing set, and After Glow Party. This four day festival has been running for twenty five years and has been hosted in Lacey since 2002.

Jazz fans from twenty-two states are attracted to this festival and it is known for the good line up of bands and location. Most are from BC, Oregon, and California. Linked to the 2015 festival is a seven day round cruise trip to Alaska on the ms Amsterdam with festival bands High Sierra, Tom Hook Trio, and Fat Babies Classic.

This festival is a family friendly event. Students 14-22 with identification can get an all event badge for fifteen dollars. On Sunday Morning there will be special free jazz gospel program featuring Marilyn Keller with the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band from Portland.

For more information and the schedule of 96 performances of the 13 bands check the web at

Leadership Thurston County Honors Class of 2015

Sun, 05/31/2015 - 9:07am



Submitted by Thurston County Chamber

Leadership Thurston County Class of 2015Leadership Thurston County and the Thurston County Chamber Foundation are proud to congratulate the 32 members of the Class of 2015. This is the 21st LTC class, and well over 500 graduates have completed the program since 1994.

A recognition luncheon will be held Wednesday, June 10, at the Red Lion Hotel Olympia. Presented by Anchor Bank, the event begins at 11:30 am and is part of the monthly Thurston County Chamber Forum. Justin Erickson, CEO of Harbor Wholesale Foods, will provide the keynote address. Reservations are requested at the Thurston Chamber website or by calling 360.357.3362.

Leadership Thurston County is a program of the Thurston County Chamber Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) educational, non-profit organization. During the 10-month program, participants examine community issues, expand networks, and explore leadership opportunities.  For information, go to, call 360.357.8515.

LTC Class of 2014 Graduates

Kwabena Adu-Sarkodie         Brown and Caldwell

Jessica Brandt                         Intercity Transit

Jessica Coen                            Xerox Commercial Solutions, LLC

Jackie Ferrado                        Washington Student Achievement Council – GET Program

Kelly Green                              South Puget Sound Community College

Phil Harlan                              Keller Williams Realty Olympia

Bob Heck                                 Kiley Juergens Wealth Management, LLC

Monica Heuer                        The Evergreen State College

Michele Jorgenson                Port of Olympia

Mina Kiive                               Morgan Stanley

Jennifer Kolb                          City of Tumwater Police Department

Chris Lanese                           Washington State Attorney General’s Office

Susan Leyster                         Saint Martin’s University

Carly Mattson Courie            Capitol City Press

Rae McNally                           Washington State Department of Commerce/Junior League of Olympia

Kim Parks                                Anchor Bank

Holy Paxson                            Lacey Timberland Library

Debbie Payne                         Fairchild Record Search

Stacey Ray                               City of Olympia Community Planning & Development

Mark Rentfrew                       Thurston Economic Development Council

Mindie Reule                          Thurston Asset Building Coalition

Justin Shahan                         Puget Sound Energy

Dan Shelfer                             Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County

Bill Sloan                                 MSGS Architects

Tristan Steed                          Morgan James, PLLC

Heather Sundean                   Thurston County Food Bank

Todd Thoma                           Thurston County Sheriff’s Office

Elyse Villanueva                     Heritage Bank

Ryan Waterman                     Thurston First Bank

Henry Williams                       TAGS Awards & Specialties

Kelly Wood                               Phillips Burgess PLLC

Vanessa Youckton                  Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel


Life is Magnifique – Now Taste the Wine at Walter Dacon Winery

Sat, 05/30/2015 - 7:35am



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

olympia furnitureThe sign on Highway 101 says, Walter Dacon Winery – Tourist Attraction. Delay your errand in Shelton and turn right on Skookum Road. It’s not far to the winery. Award winning wines accompanied by their down-to-earth vintners are ready to charm your taste buds, and then keep you coming back for more.

Lloyd and Ann Anderson, owners of Walter Dacon Winery, are a two-person show. The grapes may be grown in Eastern Washington, but the crushing, crafting, bottling and labeling are done right on their property. The vintage tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m. Ann or Lloyd is there to talk with you about the wine, answer your questions and share a friendly visit. The official greeter is Beaux, their dog who is noticeably quiet but attentive.

walter dacon winery

Ann Anderson welcomes tasters in their cozy setting at Walter Dacon Winery.

Their at-home winemaking enterprises blossomed into a business after years of coaxing by friends. Who imagined that that first bottle of wine they shared on a trip to Reno air show with mutual friends would end up with their marriage and a business? Both Ann and Lloyd had already had careers. Ann had retired from 25 years at the state and Lloyd had a forestry consulting business. The couple studied wine making and traveled to UC Davis to further their wine knowledge.

Anderson sold the big equipment from his timber business and replaced it with winemaking equipment. He smiled as he noted the machines are quite similar, but the wine equipment is not greasy. Ann went back to work for the state for five more years as the business got underway.

People noticed. Awards were given. Then the Andersons started throwing holiday and weekend wine events with live music and food. These have become wildly popular.

walter dacon winery

The awards keep stacking up for Walter Dacon Winery.

The next two, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, are just around the corner. Lucky partygoers will get Taylor Shellfish steamed clams (May) and then gourmet hot dogs (July). There will be music and good cheer. They expanded their parking lot to accommodate more cars. Be sure to check their website for exact times and dates.

If you’re curious, Walter Dacon (rhymes with bacon) is Lloyd’s grandfather with whom he spent quite a bit of time. His photo hangs in the tasting room. You can be the next person in line who sees the photo and exclaims, “That looks just like Patrick Steward – Captain Picard himself.” It’s not, but you’ll do a double take. Lloyd told me that his grandfather drove the first Stanley Steamer, an early automobile powered by steam, to the then governor of Michigan.

Early Walter Dacon wines were French-inspired Syrahs and they remain popular: C’est Syrah Belle and C’est Syrah Beaux. One of the newer wines is Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM), which is described to have “ultra rich, opulent and elegant” reminding you of “your passion for chocolate or mocha.” Yum.

walter dacon winery

Lloyd Anderson stands next to a photo of his grandfather (and business namesake) Walter Dacon.

Bottles can be purchased at the Tasting Room and in several locations throughout Thurston County including Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway. Order a glass while dining at Hearthfire, Water Street Café, Mercato Ristorante, Lemon Grass, Dockside Bistro or Rivers Edge and by the bottle at Swing Wine Bar. You can also join their wine club.

“We’re inspired by making good wine,” said Lloyd Anderson. Of course, you can taste the wine yourself and discover your own inspiration. When you do, remember that life is truly magnifique.

Eat Well – Be Well


(Re)Discover Mount Rainier

Sat, 05/30/2015 - 7:32am



By Douglas Scott

chehalis sheet metalTowering 14,409 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is one of the most iconic mountains in the world, seen by millions each and every sunny day in the Pacific Northwest. Its image sits on our license plates, letting us see it every day, with clouds or not. We refer to it as our mountain, or the mountain, and for many, Mount Rainier National Park is the first National Park they have visited. In a year when we are encouraged to find a park, rediscovering Mount Rainier National Park is the perfect weekend activity.

mount rainier

Explore Ohanapecosh Grove on the Patriarchs Trail inside Mount Rainier National Park. Photo credit: Douglas Scott.

Mount Rainier is an iconic National Park, predating the formation of the National Park Service by 17 years. Formed in 1899, Mount Rainier National Park is America’s 5th oldest park, and despite being located just 53 miles from Seattle, is the second most-visited of Washington State’s three national parks. While Olympic National Park may receive nearly twice the visitors of Mount Rainier, visitor numbers to the park have increased steadily, and 2015 looks to be a busy year. This year, thanks to an extremely low snowpack and warmer temperatures, Mount Rainier is projecting a 50% increase in visitor numbers, helped by a February that saw 74% more people than it did in 2014. With the shortest winter closure of roads occurring since the 1970s, and a projected opening of Sunrise set for June 3, Mount Rainier is waiting for you to explore it this spring.

Mount Rainier is getting popular, but the park still remains a mystery to many. Most of us have visited Paradise, Longmire, and Sunrise, but how much do we know about those locations, and how much do we know about the park? For instance, did you know Mount Rainier National Park is 97% wilderness? Or that the roads, Sunrise Day Lodge and the Longmire Buildings are part of a National Historic District?

mount rainier

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

“One of the lesser known elements is the number of historic structures in Mount Rainier,” explained Tracy Swartout, the Deputy Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park.

“I encourage people to drive the roads and explore the buildings, and know that they were built with blood, sweat and tears,” adds Swartout.

Built over a century ago, the lodges, roads, and bridges are a style of historical architecture that help define the NPS. The drive from the west entrance to Paradise is a work of art and incredible itself, intertwining subtle curves through forests and next to rivers, handmade rocky bridges over waterfalls, and glimpses of the mountain before finally arriving in dramatic view of the glacier-capped volcano.

Swartout is one of the many park employees who not only love the park, but also knows a great deal about its history, culture and best locations. When asked for a few areas she would recommend to those who haven’t visited the park in awhile, she gave out a few fantastic ideas.

“One thing I would recommend is to try out Westside road for some mountain biking,” Deputy Superintendent Swartout told us. “Visitors should really consider the eastern side of the park, Second Burroughs is a very popular hike, but I like it.”

mount rainier

Visitors relax in the lobby of Paradise Inn within Mount Rainier National Park. Photo credit Emily Brouwer for the National Park Service.

The east side of Mount Rainier National Park is visited less often that Longmire and Paradise, mainly due to both its proximity to Seattle and for being closed during the winter months. The most popular destination on the east side is Sunrise, a region that can get quite crowded during the wildflower bloom. Be aware that arriving at sunrise after the noon hour on a summer weekend could leave you without a place to park. Instead, go to Sunrise on a weekday, getting there early enough to catch a sunrise.

In the words of Deputy Superintendent Swartout, “Being at Sunrise for sunrise is spectacular.”

If early mornings aren’t your style, the Ohanapecosh region in the eastern part of Mount Rainier is a must see. With amazing trails, old growth forests, suspension bridges and access to the soon-to-be-reopened Stevens Canyon Road, the eastern side of the park is well-worth exploring and rediscovering.

While many trails around Mount Rainier can be found on websites like Washington Trails Association, there are a few favorite areas for unique spring trips to this incredible National Park.

(Re)Discover Mowich Lake and Hike Spray Park

Mowich Lake and Spray Park are two iconic places for those looking for remote camping and hiking adventures. Located on the western slope of the mountain, the region is home to incredible sunsets and access to one of the more beautiful hiking regions of Mount Rainier National Park. If you haven’t seen this area, a trip to Spray Park is highly recommended. Information about the Spray Park trail can be found on the Mount Rainier National Park website.

mount rainier

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

Bike the Carbon River and Camp in the Wilderness

There are very few bike-in only campsites in the National Park Service, but Mount Rainier is lucky enough to have the Carbon River. With the road having washed out a decade ago, access to the region is limited to hikers and bikers. Camping here gives you a glimpse of the mountain that few get a chance to see. Information on access and camping can be found on the Mount Rainier National Park website.

Participate in a Ranger Program or Guided Walk

If the other two options are too intensive, taking a guided hike with a ranger is an incredibly fun and memorable experience. Learning about the region from experts gives you background on the trail and culture of the region, as well as providing you with the chance to ask any question you have!

Information about Ranger programs, including the Junior Ranger Program can be found at Mount Rainier National Park’s website.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room

Sat, 05/30/2015 - 7:23am



By Nikki McCoy

batdorf tasting room

Linda Neil, Batdorf & Bronson Tasting Room supervisor, is a wealth of knowledge – and she can make a mean cowboy coffee.

On the edge of the market district in downtown Olympia, near the Farmers Market and towards East Bay, Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room is an experience not to be missed.

Whether connoisseur or novice, step inside the roastery and prepare to understand coffee a little deeper, and to be impressed by the way Batdorf & Bronson balances compassion with business.

Below, we highlight 10 things you might not know about Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room.

1.  New Coffee Everyday: Beans in the tasting room are never more than five days old. The baristsas in the Tasting Room brew up multiple single origin coffees and blends for customers to sample and talk coffe with them. Or, if you are in a hurry, you can grab a coffee to go. Batdorf & Bronson doesn’t add anything to their coffee; it’s in its natural state. Because the bean can be washed, semi-washed or natural, and depending on the roasting method, and type of plant, coffee produces a lot of flavors – allowing guests to try something new every day.

2.  Coffee with a Conscience: Roof top solar panels are just one component of Batdorf & Bronson’s commitment to sustainability.

To quote the company’s informational wall hanging, “The same sunlight that grows the coffee beans we roast gives us a percentage of the electricity to run our business. The panels on the roof of the Tasting Room harvest energy from the sun which is stored in large batteries that power our computers.”

Even the coffee samples come in mini biodegradable cups that turn to dirt in 45 days. Relationship Coffee is something the company prides itself on – becoming close to growers, and supporting sustainability.

“Their sustainability practices are second to none,” says Linda Neil, supervisor and employee of 13 years. “They take care of their community; they really realize that without the coffee farmer, there’s no need for us to be here.”

batdorf tasting room

Find cute and practical gifts for the coffee-lover in your life, or treat yourself.

3.  Wedding Favors (and gifts!): Think small bags of coffee with custom names and dates (Ethan and Bethany Blend, for example). With a cute descriptive like “sweet & spicy,” you’ve got wedding favors that’ll keep guests talking. Plus, find gifts for the coffee-lovers in your life in the gift shop that features mugs, shirts and more.

4.  Advice for Camping: And just about everything else – from French press to pour-overs – their knowledgeable team can answer questions and give advice about temperature, method, machine use and more. The staff is required to spend many hours in the on-site cupping lab, learning the ins and outs of coffee.

“The Tasting Room is like a resource room…” says Linda. “Like cooking, coffee is not science, it’s an experiment, and here at Batdorf & Bronson we’ve resolved so many of those issues. It’s not a hard thing, people just don’t always know the importance of the proper method…And when you get it right and get that great cup of coffee, you strive to do it every day.”

By the way, if Linda is on shift, make sure you ask her about using a raw egg to make cowboy coffee while camping.

5.  Tips for a Cause: Tasting Room baristas have elected not to receive tips. Instead, money goes to Grounds for Health, a non-profit dedicated to bringing women’s health care to rural, coffee-growing communities.

6.  A Gardner’s Friend: With bags of bean hulls available for amending garden soil (at no charge) and eco-friendly burlap sacks to act as a weed barrier (composts right into the soil), the Tasting Room is a great resource for keeping the circle of sustainability going. And while the burlap sacks cost $1 each, all proceeds go the same charity as their tips.

batdorf tasting

Watch the refurbished, vintage roaster work its magic on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Batdorf & Bronson Tasting Room.

7.  History and Tradition: The walls are filled with educational pictures and captions. The counters have booklets and pamphlets. Did you know your coffee passes through 24 hands before reaching your cup? And did you know, Dancing Goats, the blend Batdorf & Bronson is most known for, (and also the name of their espresso bars and licensed store in Lacey) is based on a fabled origin of coffee?

According to legend, a goatherd who lived in the highlands of what we know as Ethiopia, noticed his goats prancing and dancing after eating the small, red berries from a nearby bush. The goat herder followed suit and was soon dancing with his goats.

8.  Get Schooled: Learn how many times to sip coffee before judging the flavor. Learn the optimum temperature for brewing. Learn the difference between beans, and brush up on your geography while enjoying coffee from the major growing areas of Africa, Indonesia and Latin America. Plus, Tasting Room employees are a wealth of knowledge.

9.  No Lattes, No Mochas: The Tasting Room is more of a destination than your typical grab-and-go.

“We need time to give our resources to answering guests’ questions,” says Linda.

Not having to make espresso drinks in this location allows baristas to take the time to answer customer’s specific coffee questions and to demonstrate how home brewing equipment works,. Customers can then be able to brew up a café quality cup of coffee at home.

This mind-set is consistent with the vibe, and is a great place to take visitors, friends, or embark on a solo, laid-back coffee mission.

batdorf tasting room

Guests are invited to Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room, located just east of Olympia’s Farmers’ Market, Wednesday thru Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

10.  See a Live Coffee Plant: As well as beautiful wisteria, a cool sculpture of dancing goats, a pond and quiet courtyard to sit in. Plus, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, see the refurbished vintage roaster in action. Watch through a window as the coffee takes its course, while sipping samples and learning about the process.

The Batdorf & Bronson Tasting Room is a unique look into the world of coffee, and truly an Olympia gem.

Visit Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room at 200 Market Street NE in downtown Olympia. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Exclusive VIP U.S. Open Tickets Up for Auction Benefiting Local Non-Profits

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 2:12pm



Submitted by Providence St. Peter Hospital

chambers bay

Attending the U.S. Open is a once in a lifetime experience that could be yours through the auctioning of 5 pairs of VIP tickets.

As U.S. Open officials put the finishing touches on Chambers Bay Golf Course, and WSDOT implements plans for an influx of more than 31,000 visitors per day, two local non-profits have learned they will be the beneficiaries of premiere tickets to the event.

An anonymous donor has provided five pairs of tickets to South Puget Sound Community College Foundation and Providence St. Peter Foundation for auction online, and the non-profit organizations will split the proceeds equally. The tickets are a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the U.S. Open, and are valid for Friday, June 19. The tickets gain the purchasers access to a Gold Package Private Corporate Hospitality Tent in Cascade Village on the 7th Fairway, and each pair of tickets includes one VIP parking pass. The online auction launches Wednesday, May 27 and runs through 10:00 PM on Sunday, June 7.

“These tickets are the most exclusive way to attend and enjoy the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay,” says Tanya Mote, Interim Executive Director for South Puget Sound Community College Foundation. “Each ticket includes access to a hospitality tent in Cascade Village, which includes meals, drinks, and big screen televisions to watch the tournament.”

South Puget Sound Community College and Providence St. Peter Hospital have been partners for many years, primarily helping students receive an education in nursing and health care-related fields providing scholarships, and — after graduation — employment and career development.

Peter Brennan, Providence St. Peter Foundation Executive Director says, “Like everyone in our area, we’re delighted for the U.S. Open to come to Chambers Bay, and we’re grateful to be a recipient of this incredibly generous donation.”

As Ron Read, a former USGA staff member, has written that the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay “will be the most stunning sports venue ever televised.” But the five winning bidders of these pairs of tickets will have much more than just televised access. They will get to spend an exclusive day on the fairway, while benefiting the missions of two local non-profit organizations.

Learn more and start the bidding at


Tumwater’s The Gift Gallery Seeks Local Artists

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 2:01pm



Submitted by The Gift Gallery LLC 

Gift Gallery Front

The Gift Gallery in Tumwater boasts a wide variety of made in Washington gifts and goods perfect for any occasion.

The weather is warming up and the tourist season is upon us. The Gift Gallery is looking for local vendors to feature in our store. Summer is when the tourist trade is at our highest volume. People from around the United States and even the globe, visit our beautiful Pacific Northwest and are always looking for that unique gift item to take home with them.

If you are an artist with items that you would like to sell, now is the time to be featured at The Gift Gallery LLC in Tumwater. We have a variety of local art here in our store and customers are always looking for what is new. They take joy in finding that “one of a kind” item to place in their home or give as a gift. Gifts made in Washington are what we specialize in.

The Gift Gallery is featured on ThurstonTalk, and we are on the Thurston County Visitor Map. You can find us on our website where we are in the process of launching online sales. You can also find us on a variety of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Come show us what unique items you have to offer! Ask us how you can get one month free. See store for details. We are located in the Southgate Shopping Center off of I-5, Exit 102. Our hours are Tues-Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Patrick Thoren Backs Up Boggs Inspection Services with Electrical Expertise

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 6:12am



thoren electric

Patrick Thoren works with Boggs Inspection Services providing electrical expertise on their more complex commercial inspections.

Boggs Inspection Services spends much of their time helping home buyers know if their dream home is sound and in good repair. From foundation checks and roof inspection to door knobs and electrical outlets, the inspectors at Boggs ensure a home is in good shape from top to bottom and provide suggestions for repair when it isn’t quite right.

However, there are hundreds of real estate transactions in Thurston County that have nothing to do with buying a residential home. Commercial real estate sales are up, just like residential sales, and for each property sold an inspection must be performed. And while the Boggs team is top-notch, they know that complex commercial electrical systems require an expert eye. That’s when they call in the expert – Patrick Thoren, owner of Thoren Electric, LLC.

Originally from Cheney, near Spokane, Patrick Thoren made Olympia his home in 1993. He comes from a family of electricians and says, “I followed in their footsteps, really, when choosing my career.” Thoren completed the four-year IEC (Independent Electrical Contractors) apprenticeship program, the most rigorous training program offered in Washington State, including over 200 classroom hours and 8,000 on-the-job training hours. With this type of training under his belt, he was in high demand upon completion of his apprenticeship.

He began working exclusively in the commercial construction industry as a journeyman foreman with a local company. “I worked in schools, city hall, banks, and warehouses – pretty much any and all types of commercial buildings,” Thoren shares.

thoren electric

Patrick loves nothing more than being home with his 3 kids and exploring the outdoors (sometimes on a backhoe) with them.

In November 2009 he decided to go out on his own and launched Thoren Electric. “It wasn’t the best timing,” he laughs, at the decision to start his own company at the start of the recession. However, his skills and reputation saw him through the lean times and business has begun to ramp up dramatically.

“I now do about half-and-half, commercial and residential,” he shares but sees an increase in commercial work in the summer months. With his extensive background in the unique electrical systems in commercial buildings, Thoren has become a valued resource for the team of inspectors at Boggs Inspection Services.

“I met Dwayne Boggs initially at a Gateway Rotary Club meeting. We are both hunters and made a connection talking about our dogs and hunting trips,” recalls Thoren. The men exchanged cards and shortly thereafter, Thoren began getting referrals from the inspector.

“Dwayne started referring me to do electrical jobs following inspections he’d performed. These were mostly residential,” he shares, and included upgrading electrical panels, outlets, and smaller code related issues. “It’s a great relationship, as it often leads into a customer situation where I return to help the homeowner down the road,” Thoren shares.

As the two worked together more, Boggs reached out to Thoren, knowing his experience with commercial electrical systems, to assist him during the actual inspection process. “I’ll walk through a building with Dwayne, working together to inspect more complex commercial buildings and will include my findings in his reports to the buyer,” explains Thoren. The process of working side by side helps the inspectors on the Boggs team become more educated about the unique code requirements and layouts common in commercial buildings. And, it’s helping buyers gain valuable piece of mind that their significant investment has been thoroughly inspected by an industry professional.

thoren electric

Patrick Thoren lives in Tenino with his wife Kerry and their three children. Photo credit: Amy Kassler Photography.

“Working with Boggs Inspection Services is great,” says Thoren. “He is great about getting information to me about a job and gives me good lead time to schedule an inspection into my schedule.” Plus, the two just enjoy each other and the joint commercial inspections give them a chance to spend a little time together and relive their latest hunting trips and tips.

While Thoren Electric keeps him busy, Patrick also makes plenty of time to be home with his wife, Kerry, and their three children, ages eight, five and two. Kerry “holds down the home front,” says Thoren as well as doing the books and managing customer requests from their home office.

When he’s not working, Thoren loves nothing more than being a dad to his kids, playing in the yard and being outdoors with them as much as he can. And, of course slipping in as much hunting as he can.

You can reach Thoren Electric, LLC at 360-264-7453 or via email at You can reach Boggs Inspection Services at 360-480-9602 or through their website.


Olympia’s Canopy Cat Rescue Showcases Treetop Feline Saves in New Animal Planet Show

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 5:40am



By Kate Scriven

putnam lieb logoWhen I was a kid I loved to climb trees. I loved the thrill of rising above my yard, entering another world among the branches and peering down at the rooftops in my neighborhood. Inevitably, I gave up scaling trunks of firs in my backyard for more “grown-up” pursuits. Local arborist Tom Otto, however, never did. He made a love of trees, and climbing them, into his profession.

canopy cat rescue

Tom Otto, an urban forester for the City of Olympia and founder of Canopy Cat Rescue, can be seen climbing trees to save stranded cats in the new Animal Planet series, “Treetop Cat Rescue” airing Saturdays at 9 p.m.

Formerly a City of Olympia park arborist and now the Senior Vegetation Specialist in the Environmental Services department, Otto lives up to his title of Urban Forester. His experience with climbing trees as a certified arborist and a desire to “climb more trees on the side” led him to start Canopy Conservation with his brother-in-law, fellow climber and certified arborist Shaun Sears.

The two initially tackled a variety of climbing jobs. “We began working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in their ‘Watchable Wildlife‘ program installing osprey nesting platforms and wildlife cams,” shares Otto. Canopy Conservation also assesses and trims our towering northwest trees, and to their surprise, began to rescue treed cats. “We ended up on a list of arborists who could rescue cats,” recalls Otto. With Canopy Cat Rescue as one of the only names for the Tacoma/Olympia area, their call volume increased quickly.

“We had a flat rate, but ended up getting a lot of calls from people who couldn’t afford it. We always worked with them asking for at least some gas money for the drive,” says Otto. The duo decided to swap to donations only and have been paid with everything from a dozen eggs to several hundred dollars. The “public service” angle caught the media’s attention and after a few news stories, the calls started flooding in. Canopy Cat Rescue was born.

Calls came from all over the Puget Sound area and both climbers were surprised by the response. “We would do two or three rescues in a day and as a result began to develop a system of questions to ask them before we headed out – how high is the cat, what kind of tree is it, is your cat friendly, is it on your property,” he shares. And as they became busier each day, the advanced preparation became key.

“We didn’t set out to be a cat rescue service, but the more calls we got it became very clear that it was a really needed thing. It’s not just every once in a while cats get stuck in trees, it’s a daily occurrence,” Otto explains. And, there are very few people with the climbing and animal skills to handle a cat rescue with the safety and well-being of the cat as priority number one.

canopy cat rescue

Shaun Sears, seen here rescuing “Shorty,” is a self proclaimed cat lover.

“Tree climbers aren’t always cat people and while I’ve always had cats, I never thought I was a ‘cat person’ before. I feel comfortable in saying I’m now a crazy cat person,” laughs Otto.

Canopy Cat Rescue eventually caught the attention of a production company, Pilgrim Studios, the company behind hit shows like Dirty Jobs and Wicked Tuna. “Our niece knew someone at Pilgrim and shared what we were doing at Canopy Cat Rescue. The group loved the idea,” recalls Otto. Pilgrim created a “sizzle reel” – an informal commercial intended to shop a new show idea around to networks and Animal Planet snatched it up, agreeing to pay for two pilot episodes.

“Typically during this process, the production company will send the network rough cuts of footage so they can see how things look. Pilgrim sent the rough cuts and Animal Planet called right away and wanted to buy eight more episodes,” recalls Otto. The pair was ecstatic and the Animal Planet show Treetop Cat Rescue was underway.

Filming began last fall and wrapped in mid-April. “We thought, ‘great – they are going to follow us around and film cat rescues’ but we weren’t prepared for the amount of time needed for filming,” shares Otto remembering the 12 hour days with the film crew. A typical rescue for Sears and Otto would take anywhere from 15 minutes to over two hours, but with filming, rescues took a minimum of three hours. The pre-interviews, post-interviews, and securing a camera crew in the tree prior to filming all took time.

canopy cat rescue

Canopy Cat Rescue’s Tom Otto reunites a lost cat with his very grateful owner in a wooded area of Olympia.

“It was an amazing learning experience for Shaun and I but ultimately so worth it to share what we do,” says Otto. His favorite part? “It’s worth every scratch and minute in the cold, pouring rain when you can bring a cat out of a tree and hand it over to the owner. Just seeing the relief on their face to have their cat back with them is priceless.”

The “docu-follow” reality show premiers on Saturday, May 30 at 9:00 p.m. on Animal Planet with back-to-back double episodes featuring a variety of rescues throughout the Puget Sound area. In future episodes, look for an educational visit to Boston Harbor Elementary School where Otto’s daughter Greta is a fourth grader as well as a segment with Thurston County Animal Services where Tom and Shaun bring in strays and pick up donations of crates from the local non-profit who has been endlessly supportive of their work.

To date, Canopy Cat Rescue has saved over 500 cats from the tall trees of the Northwest and reunited countless families with their beloved pets. You can see rescue videos and photos on their Facebook Page and find all the information to contact Shaun and Tom through their website where they also accept donations to help support the service they provide. Their non-profit status is in the works and should be official soon.

Tune in on Saturday night to catch a glimpse into that treetop world that so many of us remember from our childhoods through the eyes of two dedicated arborists and cat lovers and through the eyes of the grateful felines they rescue.


Visit the Olympia Farmers Market

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 5:36am



Photo credits: Diane Waiste

A visit to the Olympia Farmers Market treats all ages with a variety of produce, crafts, live music, and even face painting.

Click to view slideshow.

Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 5:00am



I have to admit, Friday kind of crept up on me this week and here we are at another weekend.  And this one looks like it’s going to be absolutely beautiful.  With temperatures nearing 80 I’m guessing I’m not the only one planning to get out and enjoy.  To help make your “what should we do” decision easier (or possibly harder), here is ThurstonTalk’s rundown of all that’s happening around Thurston County this weekend.  And don’t forget to send your support to our local high school athletes competing at state this weekend as well.  ThurstonTalk has a variety of articles in our sports section sharing their tremendous dedication.

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.

Top Rung Brewing Releases Raspberry Wheat Seasonal

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 1:16pm



Submitted by Top Rung Brewing

On June 6 Top Rung Brewing Company will release a seasonal beer that has been much anticipated, our Raspberry Wheat.  A nice wheat beer that is infused with real raspberries and co-mingles with those raspberries in the brite tank for several weeks to impart an awesome raspberry flavor that is not overpowering but provides a subtle sweetness, flavor, and aroma complimented by a nice golden straw color.  A great seasonal to enjoy as the weather warms!

Top Rung Brewing is a 10 barrel production brewery with tasting room at the brewery. Top Rung Brewing is a destination for craft beer drinkers to enjoy their beverage and view a production brewery facility.  Our tasting room is family friendly and while we will only offer snacks, we partner with local food vendors and food trucks as well as allow patrons to bring in their own food of their choice or have it delivered.  Top Rung Brewing: bringing quality craft beer to Lacey.

Raspberry Wheat Statistics:  ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 25

Nisqually Land Trust Hosts First Summer Nature Walk June 6

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 12:41pm



Submitted by The Nisqually Land Trust

Nisqually Land Trust Nature Walk participants enjoying a trek through the woods.

Nisqually Land Trust Nature Walk participants enjoying a trek through the woods.

The Nisqually Land Trust is hosting back-to-back Nature Walks at its historic Van Eaton Property, along the Mashel River near Eatonville, on Saturday, June 6, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.

The one-mile, moderate walk will be the first of nine Land Trust outings offered this summer.

Land Trust Board Member Martin McCallum and Executive Director Joe Kane will lead the trip, which passes through scenic Douglas fir forest to the former Van Eaton homestead on the banks of the Mashel, now the site of important salmon-recovery efforts led by the Land Trust and the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

“This walk is a staff favorite,” said Kane. “The property itself is historic and beautiful, and the setting on the Mashel River is spectacular.” The Mashel is the largest salmon-producing tributary to the Nisqually River and was once one of the major steelhead-trout rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Even today, longtime Eatonville residents talk of steelhead runs so dense “you couldn’t see the river bottom.”

But runs of both steelhead and Chinook salmon have declined dramatically over the past forty years, and both are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Participants will learn more about restoration of the Mashel and the importance of the Van Eaton property for the future of our threatened salmon.

Seven additional Nature Walks are scheduled throughout the Nisqually Watershed this summer. The next event will be along the Nisqually River Shoreline, near Yelm, on Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Space is limited and registration is free but required for all walks. Contact the Nisqually Land Trust at 360-489-3400 x 110 or for more information and to register.


The Nisqually Land Trust acquires and manages critical lands to permanently benefit the water, wildlife, and people of the Nisqually River Watershed. The Land Trust, in collaboration with watershed communities and key partners, has protected over 5,000 acres between Mount Rainier National Park and the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, contact us at 360.489.3400 or visit

North Thurston Catches Fire in Time to Reach the 3A State Fastpitch Tournament

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 11:59am



By Gail Wood

fastsignsThe team’s desire to do something no fastpitch team at North Thurston High School had done in 18 years came to their rescue.

After slipping late in the season, after losing four of their first six games at the 3A Narrows League and then district playoffs, the Rams caught fire to reach the 3A state tournament.

“I just think we got dialed in on our goal to go to state,” said Dominque Greeno, the Rams senior shortstop and a starter since her freshman year. “That changed our atmosphere. We realized what we wanted to do with our season. I think we rallied around that really well.”

north thurston fastpitch

North Thurston’s fastpitch team will face off against Kamiakin High School of Kennewick in the first round of the state playoffs Friday.

And all fired up on their dream to reach state, North Thurston came through. Not wanting their season to end, the Rams outscored their next two opponents at districts 21-6 to advance to state.

“Our bats came to life,” said Pat Dahl, North Thurston’s fastpitch coach.

North Thurston, which tied Central Kitsap for the 3A Narrows League title, plays three-time-state-champs Kamiakin in the first round of the 16-team, 3A state playoffs on noon Friday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.

“We picked a bad time to get into a slump with the bats,” Dahl said. “We also ended up walking a lot of people and other teams took advantage of that.”

In addition to their bats coming alive, the Rams also got the pitching they needed. With Cierra Davis, a junior who has been a pitcher since she was in grade school, throwing strikes, North Thurston beat Sumner 16-4 and Capital 5-2 in the last two games at districts to reach state.

“Cierra is actually a big part of why we’re going to state,” Dahl said. “The two games we played Saturday this last weekend she commanded the mound. She pitched two great games to get us here.”

Davis has been double trouble for opponents. She’s not only been pitching well, but she’s also batting well, hitting over .500 for the season.

north thurston fastpitch

Dominique Greeno is a four-year starter at shortstop for the Rams.

“She’s been swinging the bat incredibly well,” Dahl said.

Greeno, who has accepted a scholarship to play fastpitch at Northern Illinois University, has swung a hot bat all season long, too. The senior shortstop is batting .650. And she’s anything but a slap hitter. Greeno has hit two homers in a game a couple times this season, but she’s not swinging for a homer every time she steps to the plate.

“I wouldn’t say I try to swing for the fence,” Greeno said. “I didn’t hit any home runs my freshman year and then all of a sudden I started hitting them my sophomore year.”

Three years ago during Greeno’s freshman year, Dahl took over as North Thurston’s head fastpitch coach. Dahl, who is a fireman, had turned down offers to coach the fastpitch team a couple of times. Finally, he accepted. From the start, Dahl, along with his assistant coach Tony Pittekau, put the emphasis on teaching the fundamentals of hitting and fielding.

“We made it very clear to them we were going to turn this program around,” Dahl said. “Our practices were going to mean something.”

And winning and losing was going to mean something.

north thurston fastpitch

North Thurston advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 1997.

“We were going to try to teach them the best basics and try to make them students of the game – to understand how this game is supposed to be played,” Dahl said.

Eventually, that message got through and the Rams started winning, finishing a win from state at district in 2013 and 2014.

“These girls are the ones who have done it,” Dahl said. “They’ve put in the work.”

The Rams senior leadership has been another key. Besides Greeno, the other three seniors who have been on the varsity since their freshman year are Annelies Dahmen at third, Dejah Hickman at left field, and Ashley Skillingstad at centerfield.

“I’m happy for them more than anything,” Dahl said.

Like her team, Davis, who has been on the varsity since her freshman year, has been up and down this season. But she’s pitched well when her team needed her most. When she’s looking for the third strike on a batter, she’s got a couple of pitches to choose from.

north thurston fastpitch

Coach Pat Dahl talks with his team before a recent practice.

“Either my curve or a rise ball,” Davis said.

She admits the pressure of pitching can get to her.

“But I’m working on taking what I can and building up my confidence,” Davis said. “I love pitching. I want to continue doing this. It’s the best job out there.”

The key for North Thurston at the state playoffs will be how well the Rams swing their bats.

“I’d say we rely on our hitting a lot,” Greeno said. “We rely on that a lot. When we’re hitting well, I think we can beat anyone.”

Olympia’s Bautista and Tumwater’s Gentry Are Not Strangers To State Tennis Tournament

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 11:49am



By Gail Wood

indian summer logoFor Jamie Bautista and Ty Gentry, it’s a been there, done that moment.

Despite their youthfulness – Bautista is a sophomore at Olympia High School and Ty Gentry is a junior at Tumwater High School – they’re veterans when it comes to qualifying for state.

Both placed at state last year. Bautista, the district singles champ the past two years, took sixth at the 4A state tournament. Gentry won the 2A state title and is looking to repeat.

olympia tennis

Olympia High School’s Ryan Adams is back at the state tennis tournament in singles.

Bautista’s winning formula is simple. He’s intense. He doesn’t take points off.

“Jamie is really focused,” said Denny Bailey, Olympia’s boys tennis coach. “He wants every point. When he’s done with a point, he wants the next one. For a younger player, he’s got as much focus as I’ve seen in anybody.”

Bautista is both a power player and a finesse player. He can stand on the baseline, blasting forehands and backhands and he can charge the net, slipping in a game-winning drop shot.

“He has it all,” Bailey said.

Sometimes repeating as a state champ can be harder because of the pressure of expectations. But Gentry isn’t easily rattled.

“He doesn’t seem to be rattled at all,” said James Click, Tumwater’s head coach. “He just prepares. He’s played in so many tournaments. This state tournament is just another tournament.”

Gentry’s experience in big matches gives him an edge.

“Ty is a great athlete and he’s a great competitor,” Click said.

tumwater tennis

Tumwater’s Devin Reich, Cole Holbrook and Laina Boughal qualified for state in tennis.

Olympia, with four players qualifying for state, has a good chance at placing high again after taking second last year at state. Besides Bautista, Ryan Adams also advanced in singles. In doubles, Kyle Wooten and Will Berghoff are both going and are also likely placers.

In the first round, Adams, a junior, faces Colton Reed of Mountain View. Adams beat him last fall.

“Ryan has a real steady game,” Bailey said. “He’s Mr. Precision.”

As a freshman, Bailey said Adams was about 5’2″. Now 5’8″, Adams has added some pop to his game.

“He’s steady,” Bailey said. “He can handle anybody’s heat.”

Wooten and Berghoff are no strangers to the state tournament. This is their third trip to state and they placed fifth last year.

“They’ve very dedicated,” Bailey said. “They’ve been good hitters. They can hit it hard and serve it hard. They’re great volliers.”

olympia tennis

After placing sixth at state a year ago, Olympia’s Kyle Wooten and Will Berghoff are return to state.

Tumwater, which tied Chehalis for the league title, advances three to the boys 2A state tournament. Besides Gentry, Devin Reich and Cole Holbrook advance in doubles. It’s the first trip to state for Reich and Holbrook, who are juniors.

They played singles in a few matches this season, but they played mostly doubles. It’s Reich’s first year of playing doubles and he had to adjust. He said the key to playing good doubles is simple.

“Be aggressive,” Reich said. “Attack the net and don’t get down on yourself.”

Communication with your partner is also key.

“In doubles you always want to attack the net,” Reich said.

Holbrook has been playing doubles for three years now. There’s a strategy difference in playing singles and doubles.

“I’m still getting it,” Holbrook said. “Before, I liked the baseline more. I’ve learned to love the net.”

The state tournament is the moment they’ve been working toward all year. Getting to state isn’t easy. But Click said the trip back to state for a second time might be more likely.

olympia tennis

Jamie Bautista returns to state for the Olympia Bears.

“It’s not easy to get to state any time,” Click said. “Once you’ve been there it seems like the next attempt to get there is a little bit, I don’t want to say easier. It’s predictable. You know the journey. It seems like I’ve had kids who went to state when they were younger and are able to return just because they’re motivated to practice.”

Gentry is certainly someone who is willing to put in the practice. He plays year around and doubles up during the winter when he plays basketball for the T-Birds.

Click said Gentry is especially good at adjusting his game according to his opponent. Gentry can blast game winners from the baseline, or he can hit them from the net.

“Ty is fun to watch because he can do anything,” Click said. “A lot of times it depends on who he’s playing. He’ll kind of morph into a different kind of game. I think he loves to crank it from the baseline. He can really hit hard.”

And he’s got that knack for delivering that ace serve.

“He’s got a great serve,” Click said. “He’s got different serves. He’s got a spin serve and kick serve and a flat serve.”

tumwater tennis

Tumwater’s Devin Reich and Cole Holbrook reached 2A state in doubles.

Gentry is hoping it all adds up to another state title.

Here’s a list of the Thurston County area boys and girls state qualifiers.


4A – singles: Angela Schuster, Timberline; Sydney Pham, Olympia; doubles: Tiffany Barker-Audrey Berghoff, Olympia.

3A – singles: Ainsley Winterround, North Thurston; doubles: Alexis Gjurasic-Annie Jia, Capital.

2A – singles: Laina Boughal, Tumwater.

1A – doubles: Erin Engebreth-Natalie Hall, Tenino.


4A – singles: Jamie Bautista, Ryan Adams, Olympia. Doubles: Kyle Wooten-Will Berghoff, Olympia.

3A – doubles: Travis Miller-Ranjan Sharangpani, Capital; Josh Brick-Joonick Ahn, North Thurston, Michael Campbell-Thomas Sui, North Thurston.

2A – singles: Ty Gentry, Tumwater; doubles: Devin Reich-Cole Holbrook, Tumwater.

Statement from Mayor Buxbaum Regarding Community Response to Officer Involved Shooting

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 8:06am



Submitted by Mayor Buxbaum for The City of Olympia 

Since last Thursday’s officer involved shooting, many community members have reached out to the City Council, City Manager, and Police Chief to share their thoughts, hopes, fears, and support. We have and continue to listen.

Last night the Olympia City Council cleared its agenda so that we could hear from everyone who wished to speak at the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting. Over 160 individuals came to City Hall in a show of solidarity and concern, with an additional 50-60 people demonstrating in front of the building. In nearly 2 hours of public comment, we heard from 34 individuals.

Last Thursday, within 24 hours of the incident, several of us attended a listening session at Temple Beth Hatfiloh organized by local clergy. Nearly 200 individuals attended. They respectfully shared their perspectives and listened to each other. We have also been contacted by countless community members both in person and by email. I believe that we are all moved by the depth of concern and feelings expressed by our community the past few days.

There must and will be transparency, objectivity, and accountability in Olympia. We are challenged at this time as we wait for the investigation to conclude. It’s appropriate to emphasize that the current investigation is a criminal investigation of all parties – the two individuals, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson, and the Olympia police officer, Ryan Donald. The outcome of that investigation is down the road. In the meantime, we must continue our dialogue and do our best to respond to all of the issues and interests that have been expressed by our citizens.

We also understand that what happened in Olympia is being automatically tied by some to the current very important national debate and concerns over race and social justice. Feelings have been heightened by incidents and reactions in other cities around the country. We believe that Olympia can and will make important contributions to this national debate. At the same time, we will and must make certain that we remain committed to focusing on the facts of our own case in our pursuit of unbiased justice here in Olympia. It is difficult, yet we must separate the deep cultural issues related to race and social justice from the criminal investigation. Removing bias and preconceptions is the path to justice.

We very much appreciate the care and concern and interest expressed by our citizens. We believe Olympia is both a strong and very special community that will learn from this current experience and grow stronger as a result.


Thrifty Thurston Enjoys a Parents’ Night Out in Olympia

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 6:02am



By Kate Scriven

Alley Oop LogoAs much as we all love our children and couldn’t imagine our lives without them, it is fairly easy to envision an evening without them. Actually, very easy. What’s not always so easy is finding a sitter, or willing grandparent, to watch the kiddos so you can escape with your sweetie.

When your list of teens and relatives to call is exhausted or when your kids are looking for a little fun of their own, turn to our area’s many Parents’ Night Out (PNO) options. Not only will you get a blissful few hours for a date (or let’s face it – to grocery shop alone) but your children will be engage in fun activities with other area kids their age. From gymnastics to swimming to sports to crafts, there are options for all ages and interests. And, with discounts for second and third children common, you may even spend a little less than you would with a sitter.

parents night out olympia

The Hands On Children’s Museum sponsors a monthly Parent’s Night Out including special art projects and access to the full museum.

Hands On Children’s Museum Parents’ Night Out

The Hands On Children’s Museum, normally closed at 5:00 p.m. daily, opens after-hours for a night filled with fun for the littles. Kids ages four to ten can enjoy crafts, pizza and juice, and hours of exploration in the museum galleries. Held monthly from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m., the evenings include a themed craft or activity resulting in something your child can present proudly upon pick up. Prepare to be impressed by your mini-Monet. Register early and take advantage of the $5 early bird discount.

Member Price – First child $30, sibling $20

Non-Member Price – First child $35, sibling $25

6:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Register here or by calling 360-956-0818 ext. 103


Alley Oop Gymnastics Date Night

parents night out olympia

Alley Oop Gymnastics provides active games and space to play for kids ages 3 to 12 at Date Night.

Located in Tumwater, just off Mottman Road, Alley Oop Gymnastics offers a monthly Date Night. For three and a half hours, your children (ages three to twelve) will bounce, swing, run, twirl and balance their way to exhaustion. Along the way they will enjoy pizza, crafts and organized games. $25 a child not only buys you an evening of “adult time,” but a carload of tired kids ready for a long night’s sleep. Save 10% on each sibling when you register in advance. Themes include pirates, bugs and butterflies and even a luau.

Price $25 per child, 10% discount on siblings in advance

5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Register by calling (360)956-1319


Discover Aquatics Parents’ Night Out

Drop the kids off at the pool. They’ll be fed, happy, and wiped out when you return. Situated at the intersection of Mud Bay Road and Delphi Road on the west side of Olympia, Discover Aquatics boast an 89 degree saline pool, locker rooms and a terrific group party space. Kids have three hours to swim, eat pizza and enjoy a movie and popcorn. Ages five and up are welcome for a safe swim experience with certified lifeguards on duty. Parents Night Out is held each month.

parents night out olympia

Discover Aquatics wears your kids out with safe and fun swim time. Then, kids gather for a movie and popcorn in their party room.

Price $20 first child, $15 siblings

6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Register by calling 360-867-9283


The Valley Athletic Club Kids’ Night Out and PJ Party

Held every third Friday of the month, The Valley’s Kids’ Night Out (KNO)and PJ Party focuses on the fun your children have, showcasing it as a special night for them. The bonus? Three and a half hours of kid-free time. KNO is geared for older kids ages seven to twelve while the PJ Party welcomes ages two through eight. KNO includes swimming, pizza, sports in the Valley’s gym and group games. PJ Party includes pizza, crafts, inflatables, and a movie. The events are open to members and non-members so have your kids bring along a few friends. The indoor pool features a fun spiral slide and warm days feature one of Olympia’s only outdoor pools. 10% discount offered for siblings.

Member Price $20 in advance, $25 day of event

Non-Member Price $25 in advance, $30 day of event

6:00 – 9:30 p.m. every third Friday

parents night olympia

A variety of local organizations, such as the Hands On Children’s Museum, host Parents’ Night Out events monthly.

Register by calling 360-352-3400 ext. 108 or sign up at the concierge desk


Local Churches Host Parents’ Night Out

Many local churches host PNO events throughout the year. Often held quarterly or around holidays, they typically include dinner, games, crafts, and movies. Events are almost all open to the public and the community is encouraged to join. Costs can be lower and the event can be a great hub for neighborhood families seeking an affordable break for the little ones. Check with your church, or one near your home, to see if they have an upcoming Parent’s Night Out.

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.


Catch Your Copper River Salmon at Ralph’s Thriftway

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 6:00am



copper river salmon

Supplies of this amazing Copper River salmon will sell out quickly during the tent sale on March 29, so make sure to arrive early!

Twain once said “Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.” Around here, where Copper River salmon is king, the only fish stories we tell are happy sighs of ‘yum.’

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game “has issued its 5th highest forecast for this summer’s Copper River salmon run over the last 20 years, with it predicted to be up nearly 25 percent this summer.” This is good news for diners around the country, but getting these prized fish to market isn’t easy.

Decades ago, most salmon was processed and canned for ease in transportation. According to a historical article in the LA Times, “high-quality fish requires special handling—they need to be caught alive, bled immediately and iced before rigor mortis can set in. The canning boats weren’t set up for the amount of work that was required.” But local entrepreneurs quickly developed methods to deliver the fish to market in record time.

These methods mean that now “one-third of the salmon consumed in the U.S. is caught from the wild by U.S. commercial fishermen who harvested between 600 and 900 million pounds annually over the past decade.”

Of salmon species, Copper River salmon are of the King, Sockeye, and Coho variety. They are more than simply delicious as well; “a 3.5oz fillet of wild Alaska salmon contains more vitamin D than a glass of milk. Then there are omega-3s. Derived from the layer of omega-3 fatty acids found between the skin and the underside of the fillet, omega-3s give our salmon their renowned succulence and provide essential EPA and DHA nutrients that benefit a whole host of vital internal functions.”

Locally, Ralph’s Thriftway will be holding their annual Copper River Salmon sale on Friday, May 29. Starting at 9:00 a.m. and only while supplies last, fresh fish will be offered from a tent in the parking lot. Buyers can pick up whole fish and even have them butchered on-site by Meat and Seafood Manager Adam Beasley and his skilled team.

copper river salmon

Thriftway Meat and Seafood Manager Adam Beasley and his team will fillet your catch on the spot.

The salmon will be sold for $13.99 a pound for steaks and $14.99 for fillets. Whole fish are being sold at $10.99 per pound and the Ralph’s staff will be happy to fillet or steak it complimentary. If you choose to buy the whole fish, Beasley will include the post-butchering scraps like fins and bones to use in broths, fish cakes, or other recipe tricks. Backyard poultry? Chickens love to clean any last meat off a delicious salmon carcass and that’s recycling at its finest!

Need something to pair with your salmon dinner? Fresh steamer clams and local oysters will also be offered. But arrive early, things sell out fast. Once you receive your prize catch, head inside the store to pick up organic lemons, salad, and perhaps a six-pack of local beer or bottle of specialty wine to wash it down.

If you haven’t already mastered the fine art of preparing a glamorous meal, sign up for a class at the Bayview School of Cooking. For the bold and confident, Copper River recipes (broken down by variety of salmon) can be found here which perfectly accentuate the flavor of this unique fish.

Ralph’s Thriftway is located at 1908 East 4th and can be reached by calling 360-357-8011.

Ronelle Funk: Education Advisor, Counselor and Insurance Agency Owner

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 6:00am



ronelle funk

Ronelle Funk treats her clients like family and is passionate about educational opportunities for young people.

When you go to Ronelle Funk about insurance to protect the things important to your family, you get a lot more than an experienced insurance agent. You get a highly intelligent woman, an enthusiastic education advocate and a people lover.

That is all in addition to the full resources of her agency with the mission to be “The World’s Most Caring Insurance Agency” and a staff with a core value to “treat every customer like family.”

Ronelle spoke to us at her office on College Street, a familiar sight on one of Lacey’s busiest streets marked by a digital reader board outside a lovely cottage-like house.

Donned with a headset to assist her staff in answering customer calls promptly even during our visit, Ronelle’s blond hair and bright smile lit up the room as she explained her rich past that has led her to owning one of the area’s most respected insurance agencies.

A “sort-of” Alex P. Keaton

In Carson City, Nevada where she grew up, Ronelle began her unique road to adulthood at the age of 15.

“I went out and bought all my own set of dishes and towels because I could not wait to be an adult,” explains Ronelle. “I had fun, but I was a really responsible young woman.”

Add to those towels a 1969 black Firebird that she purchased after starting work at age 15. In Nevada, the only place you can work at 15 was fast food. She had analyzed which restaurant was best to work at, in what she describes as an “Alex P. Keaton sort of way” referring to the character on the former TV series, “Family Ties.”

The minute she turned 16, she went to work at an accounting office. When tax season ended, she landed a job at Stewart Title as an accountant assistant, working in their old bank building’s vault on a “big old NCR machine.”

“I was alone in that old vault and missed working with people,” Ronelle reflects. “So they made me a title secretary. I made $7.50 an hour in 1986 when minimum wage was about $3.35. I sold my Firebird and paid off a 1984 Mazda 626.”

ronelle insurance

Ronelle and her dad, Bill Funk, soon after she arrived here in 1987 (right) and in 2011 (left).

Ronelle was also the youngest Worthy Advisor for Carson City’s International Order of Rainbow Girls service organization. With all her extracurricular activity, Ronelle graduated with a Rotary scholarship in math and science, was an Honors student and a National Merit Scholarship winner. She was all ready to attend the local University of Nevada in Reno.

But her independent streak made her re-think her course. Just before starting college, she decided she wanted a new place and vision for her life. She packed her towels and dishes into her Mazda and headed for Olympia where her Dad, Bill Funk, lived.

A passion for community colleges and advising students

One of her first stops here was the South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) admissions office. It was then that she first fell in love the opportunities that community college and student financial aid afford students.

“I was just blown away,” she describes. “Walk into SPSCC one week before school started and I get to start school, get a job in the financial aid office and then get financial aid to help with tuition.”

ronelle funk

Ronelle began working at 15 and as soon as she could drive, she bought her 1969 Firebird.

Ronelle eventually graduated cum laude from the University of Washington and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Following graduation, Ronelle held assistant director positions at two community colleges advising students and parents about financial aid. She later became the Student Services Specialist for SPSCC and served as adjunct faculty in human development, career and leadership classes.

She did it all while she earning her Masters degree at Saint Martin’s University in mental health and counseling.

What she did next further fueled her passion for education.

“I became the Director of Tech Prep at SPSCC,” says Ronelle. “It’s a wonderful program where the college articulates with high school teachers who teach college level technical field classes and their students earn college credit.” The program is completely free for high school students.

Adding to her skills in financial aid, she went to work for the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges administering millions of dollars for the state’s Opportunity Grant.

Caring for people

About that time her father, who had successfully built the Bill Funk Insurance Agency in Lacey, knew of an Allstate agent in Yelm who was retiring and he encouraged Ronelle to buy the business.

ronelle funk

Ronelle’s Lacey office is a familiar sight on College Street. Her other office is in Yelm.

“My dad explained that it would offer financial stability for my family and he could support and advise me along the way,” explains Ronelle who was a single mom at the time. “I took his advice and bought that insurance agency in 2008.”

When her father retired in 2014, she also bought his business, doubling her own. Though she expanded rapidly, there was little attrition and many satisfied customers.

Helping people with their insurance needs is easy for this responsible and caring woman with a track record of treating people like family.

Ronelle’s agency was voted number one in customer service in a five-state region. Locally, she was nominated the last five years and voted the Best Insurance Agency in the Nisqually Valley in 2010. In 2014, the Yelm Chamber of Commerce voted her business Business of the Year.

Read more about Ronelle Funk Insurance on her website or call (360) 491-3376 for the Lacey office and (360) 458-6061 in Yelm.

Northwest Hickory Players Co-Founder Rob Ahlschwede Preserves the Past

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

capital medical centerYou know how there are just some things in life that you never expect to get excited about? Maybe for you it’s ice dancing. Or barbecuing. Or kittens.

For me, it’s been golf. My experiences with golf have been mainly of the mini-golf variety, which was a fun way to pass the time when I was, say, 17. But real golf? I just couldn’t get excited about it. I even lived near Augusta, Georgia for a while, and the fervor of the Master’s Golf Tournament couldn’t sway me.

And yet.

Rob Ahlschwede also won the Senior Net Division at the Onion Creek Hickory Classic in Austin, Texas this year. The annual tournament pits the USA team against the Canadians’. (Photo from Ahlschwede’s archives)

Rob Ahlschwede also won the Senior Net Division at the Onion Creek Hickory Classic in Austin, Texas this year. The annual tournament pits the USA team against the Canadians’. (Photo from Ahlschwede’s archives)

The passion of the golfers at Capital High School, where I teach English, has touched me. My first article for was about golf, with another following soon after. And let’s not forget that my husband’s favorite uncle, Rob Ahlschwede, is famous in the world of hickory golf.

For those not in the know (ahem), let me assist you, as I recently sat down in Ahlschwede’s “golf room” to get a history lesson. If you are having trouble conjuring up an image, his golf room is floor-to-ceiling golf: art work, hundreds of antique clubs, balls of every variety, a big desk at which to work, trophies of all sorts, and ancient tees. If it’s golf-related, he’s got it.

Hickory golf is basically what was played before the late 1920s, when steel shafted clubs became all the rage. Pre-steel, the shafts were made of hickory wood, which has a very straight grain. Golf played with steel clubs is known as “modern” golf.

Golf wasn’t a sport a farm boy growing up in mid-twentieth century eastern Nebraska was likely to pick up. However, it was while recovering from an appendectomy in fifth grade that Ahlschwede discovered the television show “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.” He remembers thinking, “That looks like an enjoyable game. I wonder what that’s about?” He started pestering his father to get him some golf clubs.

Ahlschwede’s dad made him a one-piece golf club from a branch. His father then happened upon a set of hickory clubs going for a song at a farm sale. Rob, the youngest Ahlschwede brother, thought they were pretty neat. “I beat them all around the farm until I broke all but two, and I have both of them still,” he recalls.

Ahlschwede went on to play football for the University of Nebraska, marry his delightful wife Susan, move to Seattle for graduate school at the University of Washington, and then move to Munich to teach. It was after their return to Nebraska from Munich that friends got him onto the golf course. He began perfecting his game in the 1980s.

rob ahlschwede hickory golf

In addition to playing hickory golf, Rob Ahlschwede also collects, restores, and rents out sets of hickory clubs.

Worlds collided when Ahlschwede realized there were treasures to be found in the realm of vintage golf ephemera. His love of the game, coupled with his love of collecting and of carpentry, got him interested in golf’s hickory roots. “I met some people who were members of the Golf Collectors’ Society, and I joined. Once or twice a year they would get together and play with hickory clubs. A few of us collectors started to get really serious about playing.”

The Society of Hickory Golfers was then created to set up guidelines for hickory play, and they decided upon the year 1935 as a cut-off for the hickory-era. “Anything manufactured or designed before then was approved for hickory play,” explains Ahlschwede. He is currently the chair of the Equipment Committee, which has procedures in place to approve replicas for play.

Ahlschwede returned to Washington when he and his wife moved to Olympia in 2007. He went on to co-found the Northwest Hickory Players (NWHP), a group dedicated to playing with legit, pre-1935 hickory clubs and dressing the part. NWHP plays pre-1935 era courses (those originally designed for hickory golf) such as Seattle’s Jefferson Park, which recently celebrated its centennial.

Ahlschwede travels the country (and sometimes further afield, playing courses in places such as Scotland) playing hickory golf. His favorite course is Mid Pines in North Carolina. Recently, Ahlschwede played in the annual Canada versus USA match, held this year in Austin, Texas. It was here at the Onion Creek Hickory Classic that the US won 17-13, retaining the Swift Trophy, and he humbly accepted the award for Team USA’s Most Valuable Player.

His trophy is a bit of sculpture. It features the bridge on the 18th hole at St. Andrews course, and the figure depicted is Tom Morris, the first professional at St. Andrews. Morris also designed many golf courses and clubs.

rob ahlschwede hickory golf

Rob Ahlschwede’s Team USA MVP award earned at this year’s Onion Creek Hickory Classic in Austin, Texas stands proudly among just a slice of the golf memorabilia in his Olympia home. It’s known as the Swift Trophy.

Being surrounded by others who share his passion for hickory golf is what Ahlschwede truly loves. He is known as “the hat guy” to many in the hickory circuit, as he sells classic golf hats at matches. Ahlschwede has a hickory club repair business that keeps him very busy. He and Jack Wilson have amassed quite a collection of hickory clubs, 70 sets of which are available for rent.

Next up for Ahlschwede is the National Hickory Championship in West Virginia in June. This year all the clubs played at the championship must be pre-1900.

Even though golf has never been my passion, I now find Uncle Rob’s golf room a fascinating treasure trove. Walking through its door is kind of like walking into Narnia. And, while I still have zero desire to pick up a golf club and play a few rounds, I will consider driving the golf cart. Baby steps, people.

Connect with the NWHP on their Facebook page. And if you’ve got some old hickories that have seen better days, you can contact Rob Ahlschwede at