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Cooling Centers Open throughout Thurston County to Help Beat Record Heat

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 12:37pm



Submitted by Thurston County

The heat is on in the Puget Sound region, and the Thurston County Emergency Management Division has gathered a list of cooling centers that will be available this weekend as record-setting temperatures soar into the 90s. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for June 26, 27 and 28.

The following list of cooling centers is available on the Thurston County Emergency Management Division’s website:

First Christian Church – Olympia
701 Franklin Street SE, Olympia 98501
Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.—2 p.m.

Lacey Timberland Library
500 6th Ave SE, Lacey 98503
Monday 10 a.m. —6 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m. —6 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m.—7 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m.—7 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Sunday Closed

Lacey Senior Center
6757 Pacific Avenue SE, Lacey 98503
Regular hours Monday—Friday, 8 a.m.—4 p.m.
Call (360) 407-3967 for more information

McLane-Black Lake Fire Station 91
*open as cooling center at 95 degrees or above
125 Delphi Road NW, Olympia 98502
1—9 p.m.

Olympia Senior Center Lobby
222 Columbia Street NW, Olympia 98501
Regular hours Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Call (360) 586-6181 for more information

Olympia Timberland Library
313 8th Avenue SE, Olympia 98501
Monday/Tuesday 11 a.m.—8 p.m.
Wednesday/Thursday 11 a.m.—7 p.m.
Friday/Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.

Tenino Quarry Swimming Pool
*Opens July 5 at noon
300 W Park Avenue, Tenino 98589
Shaded porch area and some shade at pool
Admission: $3.50/person general admission; $1.50/person for individuals living within Tenino School District
Wednesday-Sunday, noon—7 p.m.

Tenino Fire District 12
187 S Hodgden Street SE, Tenino 98589
Daily 8 a.m.—5 p.m.

Tenino Timberland Library
172 W Central Avenue, Tenino 98589
Tuesday/Wednesday 10 a.m.—6 p.m.
Thursday/Friday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.—4 p.m.
Closed Sunday/Monday

Tumwater Timberland Library
7023 New Market Street SW, Tumwater 98501
Monday/Tuesday 10 a.m.—7 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m.—6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Tumwater Old Town Center
215 North 2nd Avenue SW, Tumwater 98512
Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.—6:30 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m.—2:30 p.m.

Yelm Timberland Library
210 Prairie Park Street, Yelm 98597
Tuesday—Thursday, 10 a.m.—8 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m.—6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Sunday Closed

Yelm Public Safety Building
206 McKenzie Avenue SE, Yelm 98597
Monday—Friday, 7:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.

When a cooling center is not available, there are still a few tips that can help you beat the heat at home and stay safe.

Keep a cool head and remember the basics: drink plenty of fluids; avoid the sun and stay in the shade; use sunscreen even if you’re outside for only a few minutes.

Find cooler air in public places. Shopping centers, movie theaters, libraries and community centers are typically air conditioned, so go out, have fun and find some cooler air.

Take it easy and avoid heatstroke. Don’t over-exert yourself with heavy duty yard work or strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

NEVER leave children or pets in a hot car.

Keep pets cool, too. Check on your outdoor pets frequently and make sure they have shelter from the sun and plenty of water.

The heat can be hard on the young and the elderly. Check on relatives and neighbors who may be more sensitive to hot weather—young children, infants, seniors and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk during extreme hot weather.

For additional safety tips on how to beat the heat, download the Thurston County Medic One pamphlet at
The high temperatures and dry conditions also increase the risk of wildfires, and Thurston County residents are reminded that a countywide outdoor burn ban is currently in place. For more details about the burn ban restrictions, go to the county’s homepage and click on the “Countywide Burn Ban” link.

County officials also remind residents that there are restriction on the sale and discharge of fireworks in the county. But with the current heat and dry conditions, residents are urged to keep this holiday season safe and sane and enjoy the region’s professional fireworks shows this year instead. To learn more, go to the county’s homepage and click on the “Fireworks restrictions and safety tips” link.

As temperatures climb this weekend, keeps tabs on weather conditions and hot weather tips and information with the Thurston County Emergency Management Division social media—find us on Facebook at ThurstonEM, or on Twitter at @ThurstonEM.

Case of the Missing Pig: “Polly” the Pig Statue Stolen from Ranch House BBQ and Steakhouse

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 7:31am



By Rachel Thomson

color graphicsSome little piggies go to market. Other little piggies stay home. But one particular little piggy was stolen and her owners want her back.

“Polly,” the brown resin pig statue that for years greeted hungry diners at the entrance of the Ranch House BBQ and Steak House, was pig-napped nearly a year ago, and employees at the restaurant have not stopped searching for her.

They’ve put up posters around the restaurant and posted her picture on their Facebook page. They even filed a police report, to no avail.

ranch house bbq pig

Ranch House BBQ and Steakhouse owner, Amy Anderson, sits on top of Penny the Pig. Penny is the identical twin pig statue of Polly. Polly the pig statue was stolen from the Ranch House BBQ and Steakhouse in April 2014.

“Polly is a symbol of the beginning of our restaurant and where we want to be,” said Ranch House owner, chef and World Champion Pitmaster, Amy Anderson. “We’d love to have her back with her family.”

Polly’s Arrival

Polly was originally purchased in late 2006. Anderson says she was driving down for what would have been the restaurant’s “Express” location in downtown Olympia. However, massive rainstorms in 2007 triggered a mudslide that destroyed the original Ranch House, located on Kennedy Creek Road near Summit Lake. The restaurant was run out of Olympia’s Governor Hotel during the rebuild. When the restaurant re-opened on Kennedy Creek Road the following year, Polly was placed at the entrance to serve as the restaurant’s “greeter.”

Polly was also the restaurant’s mascot. Staff brought her to barbecue competitions and booths at local farmer’s markets. She even came along to weddings and events at which the restaurant catered.

“She was a memory-maker,” recalls General Manager and Pitmaster Joe Gutierrerz. “People took pictures with her. I’ve had customers tell me they remember when their son was 3 and climbed up and was riding on her.”

Night of The ‘Napping

Polly disappeared last year sometime during the night of April 24, 2014. Staffers arrived in the morning and began their pre-opening routine: checking to see if the parking lot is clean start to prep food for the day. It didn’t take long to notice something was amiss.

Gutierrez stepped outside to go to the parking lot and discovered an empty spot beside the bench where Polly used to sit. He and staffers walked all around the restaurant. The only thing that remained of Polly was a broken hoof.

ranch house bbq

Hope, the metal pig statue can be seen by drivers as they pass the Ranch House BBQ and Steak House on Highway 8 near Summit Lake. Hope was placed outside the restaurant after Polly the pig statue was stolen. Restaurant owner Amy Anderson said staff “didn’t make a big deal about it” because they were too upset about Polly’s disappearance.

“At first I thought it was a practical joke,” Anderson said. “They left the hoof and we were expecting a ransom note.”

The staff have had a few theories as to whodunit. Polly weighs well over 100 pounds, so they think there were at least two co-conspirators.

“It was right around graduation time, so we thought that maybe some of the high schoolers were pulling a prank,” Gutierrez said.

He said employees have investigated tips they have received from customers. Once they thought they might have found Polly in front of another restaurant. But after driving there to inspect it, discovered it was a different pig.

He also said he heard a story of a Thurston County resident who once had a lawn gnome stolen. A year later the gnome reappeared at its owner’s home–with a scrapbook. Apparently, the thief had taken a road trip and, brought the gnome as a travelling companion and took pictures of the gnome at every stop.

But more than a year passed, with neither a scrapbook, nor any further clues as to Polly’s whereabouts.

ranch house bbq

Before Polly was stolen, she often traveled with Ranch House staff to community events and cooking competitions. Photo courtesy: Ranch House

Gutierrez says it may have been funny at first, but “it’s been a year and it’s not really funny anymore.”

Other Pigs

The Ranch House has many other pigs in and around the restaurant. Several concrete pigs adorn the garden and walls around the outdoor patio. Wooden pig-shaped cutting boards are hung next to the many trophies and ribbons the restaurant has won in cooking competitions over the years. “Cash,” a giant pig wearing a chef’s hat stands in the lobby. If customers want to know what Polly looked like, they can simply gaze upon “Penny.” Penny is Polly’s identical twin, big, brown and with red handkerchief around her neck.

Since Polly’s disappearance, Anderson purchased “Hope,” a tall, metal pig that now greets diners in the Ranch House’s parking lot. It can easily be seen from the freeway and is probably harder to steal because of its massive size. However, Anderson says Hope won’t fill the void left behind by Polly.

“We got Hope two weeks after (Polly was taken),” Anderson said. “But we didn’t make a big deal about it because we’ve been so bummed about Polly being stolen.”

If you know where Polly is or have any tips that might lead to Polly’s whereabouts, call the Ranch House BBQ and Steakhouse at 360-866-8704.


Olympia Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 6:39am



It seems the only topic of conversation these days in the weather – usually we are bemoaning June rain showers but this year Mother Nature is treating us to unseasonably (ok, HOT!) warm sunshine.  I hope that you are reading this post in the wee hours of the morning and planning your day outside.  There are plenty of family-friendly events and activities happening around town or choose to cool off at one of these local pools.  We’ll see you there!

Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend:

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.

Olympia Seafood’s Chowder Wins People’s Choice Award at Port’s Chowder Challenge

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 10:20am



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Olympia Seafood won the People's Choice award at the 2015 Chowder Challenge at Swantown Marina.

Olympia Seafood won the People’s Choice award at the 2015 Chowder Challenge at Swantown Marina.

When the votes were tallied at the 2015 Boatswap & Chowder Challenge, the People’s Choice Award for the South Sound’s Finest Chowder went to Olympia Seafood, with Emma’s Grill House and Fish Tale Brewpub taking second and third places, respectively.

Fish Tale Brewpub won the Chefs’ Choice Award. The Best Decorated Booth Award went to Olympia Seafood.

Other competing restaurants were Emma’s Grill House, Darby’s Café, Fish Tale Brewpub, Little Creek Casino, O’Blarney’s Irish Pub, Olympia Seafood, South Bay Pub and Eatery, The Sidewalk Café and Vern’s Catering.

Each of the restaurants served up 25-30 gallons of their best chowder to over 1,300 tasters at the Port of Olympia event at Swantown Marina. Since the chowder is not restricted to clam, the restaurants prepared a delicious variety, including salmon and crab.

Appetites were also satisfied at Forza Coffee Company, All Fed Up and South Bay BBQ.

Festival-goers browsed and bought at the Boatswap which featured over 30 commercial and private vendors offering new and used boats, gear and wares.

Kids played in the bounce house, had their face painted, made crafts with the Hands on Children’s Museum, fished the trout pond and everyone enjoyed classic rock music by the Raucous Band.

The Olympia Firefighters Civic Foundation and Tumwater Rotary hosted a popular beer garden which was a new addition to the event this year.

Port Commissioners Bill McGregor and George L. Barner, Jr. thanked the community, restaurants, participating organizations and businesses, event sponsors and Port staff.

Many local sponsors offered generous support to bring this event to the community: Little Creek Resort and Casino, Duncan and Associates Insurance Brokers, Tom’s Outboard, 94.5 Roxy, Budd Bay Promotions and Apparel, KGY/KAYO Radio, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, Panowicz Jewelers, Inlet Marine Services, Twin Star Credit Union and South Sound Bank.

The Port hosts the Boatswap & Chowder Challenge for the enjoyment of the community. It is not a fundraiser for any group.


Thrifty Thurston Splashes at Local Swimming Pools and Beaches

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

providence medical group sponsorIt’s the classic conundrum: how can we keep our families entertained throughout these hot summer months without over-heating or over-spending?

olympia swimming

Kids of all ages enjoy the East Bay Public Plaza stream outside Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum. Photo credit: Samantha Snyder.

Happily for the sweat- and splurge-averse, there are plenty of free or inexpensive local options. Keep cool and kid-friendly on a shady hike, or enjoy air-conditioned activities at a Timberland Regional Library location. Depending on the time of day, plenty of local parks offer shade.

But by far, our family’s favorite way to keep cool is to go swimming or wading. Our summer adventure bag contains plenty of sun screen and swim diapers! June through August you can find us at any of the following locations, buckling life vests over our bathing suits and running for the water.

Here is where my family chooses to cool off:

Columbus Park (5700 Black Lake Boulevard SW, Olympia)

Pay $6 per vehicle for access to this private campground and recreation area. Their swimming access to Black Lake includes a floating trampoline, dock, and fabulous grassy area.


Discover Aquatics (110 Delphi Road NW, Olympia)

This saline pool is kept at a comfortable 89 degrees year round.  While most of the pool’s open hours are reserved for swim lessons (think small class sizes and no chilly kids), open swim is offered on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  Want some adult only time?  Try lap swim on Saturday and Sunday. Get the complete schedule and pricing information here.


East Bay Public Plaza Stream (414 Jefferson Street NE, Olympia)

Located just outside the Hands On Children’s Museum, this reclaimed water feature is a true delight. While their kids play in the shallow stream, parents and other caretakers can sit under shade umbrellas provided by LOTT Clean Water Alliance. If you’re planning to visit the museum, be sure to bring shoes and shirts! (And maybe a few dollars for an ice cream.)


Evergreen State College (2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia)

Often overlooked because it’s on a college campus, The Evergreen State College pool is a great choice for families looking for an open swim.  During the summer, the indoor pool is open from 12:00 – 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Remember to bring a few bucks for parking on campus.


olympia swimming

One child described the spray nozzles at the Heritage Park Fountain: “It’s like giant clams squirting water!”

Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatics Center (401 SW Parkland Drive, Chehalis)

Slides! Water toys! A beach-entry style pool! This recently renovated facility caps out at 201 patrons, so be sure to arrive early. Monday through Thursday hours are 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for youth (0-17) and $4 for adults (18 and over). On Fridays and weekends, everyone pays $5. The Friday and weekend hours are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Cash or check only.


Heritage Park Fountain (330 5th Avenue SW, Olympia)

People of all ages enjoy the circular array of water jets in this small but popular park. Open Thursday through Tuesday, June through September. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to noon, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Curious about the closures? The city does it to maintain safe bromine water levels. Bonus: the scheduled shut-offs can be an excellent way to get recalcitrant toddlers out of the sun and home to nap.


olympia swimming

Take a joyful plunge off the pier at Black Lake. Photo credit: Graciela Albarran Polley.

Kenneydell County Park (6745 SW Fairview Road, Olympia)

This 40-acre park features trails, picnic areas, barbecue grills, athletic fields, and two large playground structures. There’s 1,000 feet of freshwater beach and a developed swimming area on Black Lake.


Long Lake Park (2790 Carpenter Road, Lacey)

Lifeguards are on duty from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., June 20 through September 7. As with all outdoor swim sites, this one is weather-dependent, but aside from the 285-foot beach frontage, there are also pedestrian trails through the 10 heavily wooded acres (translation: shade). Other amenities include sand volleyball courts, restrooms, barbeque grills, and picnic tables.


Millersylvania State Park (12245 Tilley Road S, Olympia)

Deep Lake attracts boaters, swimmers, and fishermen. Paddle boats and canoes are available to rent, which can be a lovely treat for older children. There are plenty of hiking and picnicking options, too! Day use is free with a Discover Pass. Check their website for more information about camping overnight.


swimming olympia

The outdoor Tanglewilde Pool is open to all, not just neighborhood residents. Photo credit: Jennifer Klemz Penrose.

Pioneer Park (5801 Henderson Boulevard SE, Tumwater)

This gorgeous park has all kinds of family-friendly amenities, from the play toys and picnic areas to clean and accessible restrooms. Additionally, the park includes access to the Deschutes River. Families can float on inflatable devices from here all the way to Tumwater Falls Park. Word to the wise: don’t forget to arrange a ride back to your vehicle. Remember, life vests for the little ones are a definite must.


South Sound YMCA (510 Franklin Street, Olympia and 1530 Yelm Highway SE, Olympia)

With two convenient locations, there is no excuse to not jump directly into either the Briggs Community or Olympia Downtown pool.  Open swim gives families time to play together in the pool and the Y’s swim lessons are well-respected.  While membership fees do exist, the Y makes it easy to enroll with financial assistance, military discounts, and other scholarships.  Get pool schedule information here.


Tanglewilde Recreation Center (414 Wildcat Street SE, Lacey)

This public outdoor pool runs on summer hours through Labor Day. Recreational swim occurs from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with family swim following immediately and lasting until 8:00 p.m. Day passes cost $6 for adults, $5 for youth and seniors. Children ages 4 and under swim free with a paying adult. Season family passes can also be purchased ($155 for residents, $235 for non-residents). Check their flyer for full details.


tenino quarry pool

The Tenino Quarry Pool includes a deep area with diving boards as well as a toddler-friendly shallow spot. Photo courtesy of City of Tenino.

Tenino Sandstone Quarry Pool (399 Park Avenue W, Tenino)

Starting on July 5, the pool will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It will remain open for the season through September 6. The cost is $2 per person for anyone living within the boundaries of Tenino School District. If you’re coming from further afield, the cost is $4 per person.


Timberline High School Pool (6120 Mullen Road SE, Lacey)

Lacey Parks and Recreation operates the school’s pool Monday through Saturday almost all summer, with just a few closures (July 4, July 17). Open swim hours are 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Weekday open swim ends on August 14, but Saturday swims extend through August 29. It’s free for children ages 3 and under; older participants pay $4 each.


Tolmie State Park (7730 – 61st Ave NE, Olympia)

The 105-acre marine park boasts 1,800 feet of saltwater shoreline.  The day-use facilities welcome families.  Spend the day beach combing, climbing on driftwood or swimming.  Read more in this article.

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.

Feeling Crabby? Head to Nearby Hood Canal to Catch Dungeness Crab

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 6:00am



By Margo Greenman

waterfront at potlatch lucky dogCrab cakes, crab melts, deviled crab and crab dip are just a few different ways you can prepare and devour the ten-legged crustaceans. But before you get your hands messy in the kitchen, load up your gear and get your hands wet by catching your own Dungeness crab in the Hood Canal.

Hood Canal crabbing, which opened on June 15, is a great way to enjoy a sunny, summer day on the water before creating a summertime spread in your backyard.

hood canal crab

Dungeness crabbing on Hood Canal is open Thursday through Monday now through September 7.

Crabbing, which the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife explains is “one of the Puget Sound’s most popular recreational fisheries,” is a favorite pastime for many and an exciting new adventure for others. If you’re just getting ready to set your pots for the first time — or if it’s been a while and you need a quick refresher — there are a few things you should remember before dropping your crab pots.

Getting Ready

Before you hit the water, there are a few items you will need for a fun, successful day of crabbing around the Hood Canal. First and foremost, you must have a fishing license. Fishing licenses vary in price depending on whether you purchase a one-day or annual pass. For fishing license types and prices, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife online.

In addition to a fishing license, you’ll also need a gauge for measuring your crab. It is illegal to collect Dungeness crabs that are smaller than six-and-one-quarter-inches across. Using a gauge like this one will ensure that your crabs meet the required measurement. You’ll also want to educate yourself on the difference between what male and female crabs look like, as collecting female crabs is prohibited. This illustration on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website will help you identify the difference.

Finally, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that crabbers record their haul on a Catch Record Card before reporting their catch (even if it’s zero) online.

hood canal crab

To ensure a successful retrieval, set your crab pots in areas free of strong currents and heavy boat traffic. Photo credit: Kate Scriven.

Gear Up

In addition to items required by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, you’ll also want to make sure you have the proper equipment for catching Dungeness crab. While there are several ways to catch crab, crab pots are the most common. You can find crab pots and the equipment that goes with them – red and white crab buoys (so you can find your pots after you drop them), line (so you can pull your pots back up) and biodegradable escapement devices (e.g. a pot lid hook) – at most sporting goods stores.

Make sure to bring along some good bait and a cooler with ice to store your haul in. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says fish carcasses, clams and squid work best for baiting crabs, but chicken and turkey work, too.

While packing these things, don’t forget other essentials that you’ll need while out in the boat. Food, water and sunscreen are all a must if you want to make the most of your day.

Where to Go

hood canal crab

A day crabbing on the Hood Canal is a fun-filled activity for the whole family.

You’re all packed up and ready to go, but where do you go? The Hood Canal — or Marine Area 12 — can be accessed from several different launch sites around the area. These launch sites, which include the Skokomish Park at Potlatch, Quilcene Marina and Twanoh State Park among others, are all listed on the overview page for Marine Area 12 on the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

Once you’re in the water, the Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends following a few easy steps that will make dropping (and retrieving) your crab pots easy and fun.

First, be sure to set your crab pots in areas free of strong currents and heavy boat traffic. Pots that are set in these areas are more likely to get lost. To ensure retrieval of your pots, the Department and Fish and Wildlife recommends: knowing your water depth, using the correct length of line, using extra buoys where strong currents are present, and using a GPS system to mark your buoys.

Once you pull up your pots, remember that you can only collect male crabs that are at least six-and-one-quarter-inches across. Each licensed crabber on board your watercraft can keep up to five male crabs.

hood canal crab

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife allows licensed crabbers to catch up to five male crabs that are no smaller than six-and-a-quarter-inches across.

Head Home (or Stay a While)

After you’ve (hopefully) collected your limit for the day, don’t forget to report your Catch Record Card online.

You can clean the crab before you cook it, but cooking it first is easier. If it’s your first time, there are lots of great tutorials on YouTube that demonstrate how to cook and clean crab, step-by-step.

Once you’ve cooked and cleaned the crab, the options for preparation are endless. Of course, if you’re like me, you’ll opt for eating it fresh with a side of garlic butter (don’t forget the napkins).

If you decide to stay a while, be sure to keep your crabs in the cooler until you can properly cook and clean them. There are lots of nearby campsites where you and your family can enjoy feasting on fresh-caught crab cooked over an open fire. Nearby Potlatch State Park and Dosewallips State Park are just a hop, skip and a jump away, and each provides the perfect setting for a moonlit crab feast.

For further lodging options, visit

The Hood Canal Dungeness crab season is open Thursday through Monday now through September 7. For more information about rules and regulations, boat launches and more, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife online.


Sisters Madison and Maia Nichols Headed to National Beach Volleyball Tournament

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 6:00am



By Grant Clark

edge fitness logoHolly Nichols used to joke about needing a timeshare in California. Trips to the Golden State, however, have become more frequent, turning the once punchline into a likely possibility.

“We would always kid around about it,” Holly said, “but lately it doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea.”

Credit beach volleyball, and her two daughters’ success in the sport, for the change of heart.

The Pacific Northwest offers plenty of outdoor activities. Beach volleyball is not one that immediately springs to mind.

beach volleyball nichols

Madison and Maia Nichols qualified for the BVCA championships in Hermosa Beach, California on July 7-9 by winning their division at a regional tournament June 21 at Alki Beach.

That didn’t prevent Holly’s daughters Maia, 13, and Madison, 12, from taking up the sport, and despite the minimal availability of local sand, after only a few years the Olympia duo have transformed into one of the region’s top tandems, forcing mom to rethink that whole timeshare thing.

If you want to compete on the national level, you have to go where the sand is; and that’s exactly where the Nichols are headed.

“It’s going to be a volleyball summer,” said Holly, who also owns Discover Aquatics, a private swimming pool in West Olympia.

The Nichols sisters will compete against the nation’s best at the Beach Volleyball Clubs of America National Championship in Hermosa, California July 7-9 before making a second trip south a month later to participate at the AVPFirst Manhattan Beach Junior Invitational Aug. 10-14.

“It’s exciting to go down there and play,” Madison said. “You see a lot of teams from California. Not too many from Washington.”

Madison and Maia had been playing indoor volleyball for several years before making the transition to sand; and while to the outsider it looks like a subtle change, the differences in indoor volleyball and beach volleyball are substantial.

nichols beach volleyball

Madison and Maia Nichols say that competing on the sand is much more challenging than indoor volleyball. The sisters are pictured here during tournament play at Alki Beach on June 21.

The court sizes are different, there’s fewer players per side, no attack line, different volleyballs, and above all you go from the stability of a gym floor to the awkwardness of moving on sand, which is usually hot, while trying to navigate through whatever weather conditions are thrown your way.

“It’s definitely harder to jump on sand,” Maia said. “You have to do much more maneuvering. So, your footwork is important. It’s way easier to move indoors.”

Beach volleyball’s popularity has spiked over the last decade, especially among female competitors, with players like Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh leading the recent surge by winning gold medals in the sport at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics.

But Madison and Maia face one major obstacle not present in more traditional beach volleyball markets.

“There’s not a lot of beach around here. I’ve told my husband the next time we move we need to find a house that has some sand,” Holly said. “They mostly practice indoors. In fact, the only time they really play on sand is when they go to tournaments.”

That’s basically the equivalent to playing hockey without ever stepping onto the ice except during games.

The lack of sand time, however, has done little to slow down Madison and Maia’s progress.

The sisters won the future select division of the U14 Puget Sound Region Beach High Performance Qualifier on May 31 in Snohomish, before securing their berth into the AVPFirst Junior Invitational at Manhattan Beach.

On June 21, they took first place in their division at a tournament in Alki Beach in Seattle to qualify for July’s BVCA championships in Hermosa.

nichols beach volleyball

Maia Nichols with the bump as sister Madison looks on.

Beach volleyball is among a long list of sports Madison and Maia have experienced over the years. Swimming, basketball, soccer, tennis, and even taekwondo have also been attempted, but none had the effect on them beach volleyball did.

“Usually it’s our dad getting us to try new things,” Madison said. “My mom asked if we wanted to give (beach volleyball) a try, just try it and have fun with it. I’ve loved it since the first time we started playing.”

Their interest in the sport originally came from Holly, who played Division I volleyball in college at San Jose State University; and while she always encourages her daughters to participate in multiple sports, it always seems to come back to volleyball.

Holly would eventually coach her daughters indoor, but once the game steps outside, she is merely a spectator cheering them on.

“I just let them play when its beach volleyball,” Holly said. “They’re calling the timeouts.  They’re out there to encourage each other. I just sit back and watch.”

Despite the occasional sibling rivalry, celebrations have been a much more common site on the beach for the two.

“Obviously, one of the big concerns for me is having them get burned out at such a young age. Every time we get into the car, I turn around and say, ‘We don’t have to do this. We can do something else this weekend,’” Holly said. “Every time I ask, they say this is where they want to be.”


Temporary Road Closure for Tree Maintenance along Legion Way

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 1:33pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

legion way trees

The Legion Way trees (looking west from Central Street) form a unique memorial corridor in Olympia. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

Beginning Monday, June 30, and continuing through Monday, July 13, nine high risk trees will be removed from Legion Way. Sections of Legion Way where crews are working will be completely blocked to through traffic, but the entrance to the Madison Elementary parking lot will remain accessible via alternate routes. Work will take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day.

The trees scheduled for removal on Legion Way are all showing signs of having extensive decay. They include three sweetgums and six red and pin oaks. Each tree is marked with a white paint dot on the trunk facing the street. They are located at:

  1. 523 Central St SE, along Legion Way
  2. 521 Quince St SE, along Legion Way
  3. 907 Legion Way
  4. 1011 Legion Way
  5. Southwest corner of Legion Way and Boundary St SE
  6. 1128 Legion Way
  7. 525 Pear St SE, along Legion Way
  8. 1113 Legion Way (Olympia School Admin. Building)
  9. 1015 Legion Way

Following each tree’s removal, the remaining stumps will be ground down as deep as possible and the soil replaced so a new tree may be planted.  The new trees will be red oaks. Red oaks are known for their strong wood and large canopies, and were among the original tree species planted on Legion Way to honor military veterans in 1926.

Removing and replacing those trees that are a risk today ensures that Legion Way will continue to be a historic community landmark and a living legacy.


U.S. Forest Service Issues Paradise Fire Update

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 1:27pm



Submitted by the U.S. Forest Service

Yesterday, fire behavior and fire movement were slow on the Paradise Fire; this was attributed to cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels.  This activity is characteristic of how the Paradise Fire has been burning since it was detected – it slows in cooler temperatures and becomes more active as the weather becomes warmer and drier.  The local Type 3 team that has been managing the fire provided an in-briefing and orientation to the Pacific Northwest National Incident Management Organization (NIMO).  The NIMO also flew a reconnaissance flight of the fire. A community meeting was held in Quinault last night and 23 members of the public attended.

Today, fire growth in the Queets drainage is expected to continue.  Crews are monitoring its movement and taking suppression actions when it is safe to do so.  They continue to hold the fire east of Bob Creek and north of the Queets River.  The NIMO team will tie in with crews in the field today to discuss the new organization.  Current resources include 2 crews, 3 helicopters, and support personnel.  A total of 102 people are assigned to the incident.

Temperatures are expected to increase as the week progresses and lightning is in the forecast for this weekend.  Increased fire activity is expected on the Paradise Fire, and new fires are anticipated from potential lightning strikes.  Because of the high fire potential, Olympic National Park has instituted a ban on all open fires in the park’s wilderness backcountry, including all locations along the wilderness coast.  As of 7:00 a.m. this morning, campfires will be permitted only in established fire grates at established front country campgrounds.  The burn restriction will remain in place until further notice.  Camp stoves may still be used in the park’s wilderness backcountry, but should be operated well away from flammable vegetation and forest litter.

For additional information, please call Paradise Fire Information at 360-565-2986.


Heat Takes a Toll on Washington Seniors

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 1:21pm



Submitted by Home Instead Senior Care

Experts Encourage Families to Keep a Close Eye on Older Loved Ones During Heat Wave

Experts Encourage Families to Keep a Close Eye on Older Loved Ones During Heat Wave

Nobody likes extreme and prolonged heat, but such conditions can be very dangerous and potentially deadly for seniors.

According to the National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses.

“The elderly are often the most vulnerable to severe heat,” said Jeff Huber, president and CEO of Home Instead Senior Care® Inc. “Their bodies do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature, they are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat and they are often on a prescription medicine that impairs the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibits perspiration,” he continued.

Following are tips from the local Home Instead Senior Care office, to help seniors combat the heat:

  • Keep a glass of water in every room to quickly and easily access fluids. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Go through the closet and remove all heavy materials, long sleeves and dark colors. Instead look for short sleeves, lightweight rayons or cottons, and light-colored clothing that reflect the heat.
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.
  • Save household chores, particularly washing and drying clothes and operating the dishwasher, for evenings when the weather is cooler.
  • Relax indoors during high heat times – between 3 and 5 p.m. in the afternoon.
  • Keep shades down and blinds pulled during the heat of the day.
  • Keep the house tightly closed, so it is more energy efficient.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Foods with a lot of protein increase metabolic heat production which can, in turn, increase water loss.
  • If increased use of a central air conditioning system causes higher utility bills that are a problem for your budget, consider purchasing a fan or small window unit that can cool down a home at a lower cost. However, do not rely on a fan as the primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Seek medical care immediately if your senior shows symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

For more information about the heat, visit the National Weather Service Web site and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site. Or, to learn more about Home Instead Senior Care, click here.


Lacey Freedom Concert and Fireworks Scheduled for July 3

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 11:31am



Submitted by City of Lacey

lacey fireworksLacey continues its tradition of kicking off the area’s Independence Day celebrations with the Freedom Concert and Fireworks Spectacular on Friday, July 3. The Freedom Concert will be held from 6:30 to 10:15 p.m. in the Lacey Crossroads parking lot at Yelm Highway and College Street, followed by a 15 minute professional fireworks display launched from William Bush Park, 4400 Chardonnay Drive NE. The park will be closed to preserve a safe zone for the fireworks launch, but the display will be visible to most residences located within 3/4 miles and from the concert stage area at Lacey Crossroads.

This year’s all-ages Freedom Concert features high-energy music and fun with DJ Tony G and “Battle Rhythm,” the 56th Army rock band. Family-friendly activity booths and free face painting will be provided by the Lacey Sunrise Lions and event sponsors TwinStar, Xerox, and the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce. Pizza, ice cream, and a variety of food will also be available for purchase at Lacey Crossroads restaurants. Concert-goers are advised to bring seating to enjoy the outdoor stage and music performances.

Due to the popularity of this event, road access into the area will be limited during the fireworks display and while traffic exits the show. From 10:00 p.m. until approximately 11:45 p.m., detours will be established using 66th Avenue SE, Ruddell Road SE, Mullen Road SE, 37th Avenue SE, and Wiggins Road SE.

More information and a complete map of planned road closures can be found on the city’s official website at

Jazz Up Your Summer at the 25th Annual America’s Classic Jazz Festival in Lacey

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 6:00am



By Kathryn Millhorn

lacey chamber“It’s not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz.” And if anybody can speak for an entire genre, it’s the great Herbie Hancock.

For this year’s all-inclusive silver anniversary of the America’s Classic Jazz Festival at Saint Martin’s Marcus Pavilion, organizers have really gotten into the swing of things…pun intended! From June 25-28 there will be 96 performances from 13 bands on four stages at one location with crowds hailing from 22 states. Whew!

jazz festival olympia

The America’s Class Jazz Festival in Lacey offers 96 performances on multiple stages over the course of 4 days.

The Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society takes pride in supporting young musicians and vocalists through camps, sponsorships, and performance opportunities. Their annual Jazz Festival helps fund training for such rising stars as clarinetist Claire McKenna who “recently appeared in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.”

Jazz Society Co-Director Walt Bowen explains that “the purpose of the Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society is to preserve and promote the performance of live jazz. We do this by sponsoring youth scholarships to annual jazz camp. This year we have 13 students. These students are the performers of tomorrow. In addition to jazz camp, we have high school students volunteering from Saint Martin’s, North Thurston High School, Timberline High School, and Aspire Middle School.”

Thursday evening, June 25, is a 7:00 p.m. Kick Off Party in the Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion. Friday includes concerts from 11:00 a.m. until 10:45 p.m. with a free mid-day stop-off at the Olympia Farmer’s Market from 11:00 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.

jazz festival olympia

If the music moves you, dance floors are available throughout the festival.

Saturday the music flows from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. on four stages. Bowen is proud to offer “plenty of dance lessons, great bands, and four large dance floors are sure to provide a wonderful time for all. Other festival features include on-site RV parking, shuttle service, parasol parades, a swing set, and After Glow Party.”

He continues, “The main way that we draw attention to jazz music is to sponsor our jazz festivals that bring some great musicians to our area. At this festival we have seated areas for listing but we also have four large dance floors. On those floors we have dancers from three to 93. We encourage families to attend.”

“Music students can shadow and be in contact with some very experienced musicians and see them close-up,” adds Bowen. “Some of our fans are attracted to the music and others to the dancing. Many enjoy both. Other people like to hear the music and look at the dancers and their costumes. Some dancers belong to swing dance clubs and come the festival to dance before a live band.”

jazz festival olympia

Get into the swing of things at the 25th anniversary of the America’s Classic Jazz Festival.

Sunday morning cools things off with a free gospel program at Saint Martin’s at 9:30 a.m. featuring Portland favorites Marilyn Keller and the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band. Downtown the Grand Dominion Jazz Band takes over the United Churches of Olympia at 10:00 a.m. After a last, rousing day of music, the Festival winds down at Tugboat Annie’s with the Olympia After Glow Party starting at 5:00 p.m.

Out of towners are invited to contact local hotels and ask for ‘Jazz Rates’ or inquire about limited RV parking on-site at Saint Martin’s. Contact info for these options can be found online here.

Tickets can be purchased for the entire event or specific days or evenings. Students are encouraged to attend and an all-event pass for ages 14-22 with student ID is only $15. Tickets can be purchased at the door and anyone willing to volunteer for a total of 8 hours can earn a free 3-day pass.

Henry Rollins puts it all into perspective: “Live music is the cure for what ails ya.” No matter what’s going on in the world around us, music can be a bridge, balm, and source of unrivalled joy.

For festival information, please contact Charlotte Dickison at 360-943-9123 and for info on RV parking call Pat Herndon at 360-956-7132.

Olympia’s Michelle Cohen Realized Her Dream With The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 6:00am



black sheep yarn boutique

Michelle Cohen believes all things lead to another and with the opening of her own shop, finally feels like she is realizing a long searched for dream.

A quick Google Search for “knitting popularity” returns scores of articles confirming the anecdotal evidence this 40-year-old writer collected locally (mainly that I’m knitting, my friends are knitting, so everyone must be knitting). People of all ages, mainly women but also many men, are taking up the traditional hand-crafts of their grandmothers with increasing frequency.

Why? For most, it’s connection to something real and tangible in a world dominated by social media and virtual conversation. Knitting and crocheting provide an opportunity to create something with your own hands that can last for generations.

Additionally, there is a sense of community fostered among those who share a hobby. In particular, fiber arts are tailored to group gatherings where needles click and stories unfurl as quickly as the yarn. Advice on life, as well as dropped stiches is traded and cherished. And, it all fits neatly in a tote bag. Bonus.

Those of us ready to knit up our next awesome cowl, maybe inspired by the wildly popular knitware on the Starz series Outlander, now have a new option for finding the perfect yarn. Michelle Cohen’s new shop, The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique, opens in West Olympia. Becoming a small business owner, running her own shop and selling something she loves is a dream come true for Cohen. A dream that for many years, she couldn’t even put a name to – a dream she came close to never discovering at all.

black sheep yarn

The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique is located on Olympia’s west side near Panera Bread and Sweet Life and hosts its grand opening June 27 and 28.

“I’m from Seattle, but grew up all over the place,” Cohen shares as we settle into the cozy armchairs and couch in Black Sheep’s sitting area. It was in her early 20’s that she reconnected with family in the Pacific Northwest and felt a sense of belonging she hadn’t known before. Returning to Seattle, she met and married her late husband Mitch, a family physician in Elma who passed away suddenly five years ago.

She and Mitch made a home in Olympia where she “loved the rural feel and small town atmosphere” after living for years in bigger cities. The couple had three children and Cohen was “doing the mom thing” full-time when Mitch died. Cohen was daunted by the prospect of heading back into the workforce full-time. But, as is typical for Cohen, as anyone who knows her would attest, she forged ahead, securing a job to support her family. Just three months into her new job, Cohen was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a long, intense treatment. With her determination, positive outlook, and the support of friends and family, Cohen is now cancer free.

“I’m the kind of person who thinks about life as a series of events with one thing leading to the next,” she explains. While she admits it took time to find her way out of grief after her husband’s death, she also shares, “I really try and look at the blessings in life – to focus on the positives.”

black sheep yarn boutique

The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique owner Michelle Cohen carries a wide variety of yarns from affordable to luxurious.

While Cohen had achieved success in non-profit management among other business pursuits, she never felt she was doing “what I was supposed to do.” And, as with many women after leaving professional careers to care for and raise their children, Cohen found herself one day at a crossroads. “I just hit that point in life where you say to yourself, ‘What am I going to do? Isn’t there something more I’m supposed to do?’”

For Cohen, the answer came nine months ago while helping a close friend look at vacant spaces for a new business. Her friend asked, “If you could have a shop, Michelle, what would it be?” She didn’t have an answer ready, but it rattled around in her head for weeks until she happened to visit Gig Harbor’s Rainy Day Yarns.

“I had this revelation that if I owned a yarn shop, this would be it. It was fun, pretty, cozy and it started me thinking,” Cohen shares. As an accomplished knitter, Cohen has spent time in her fair share of yarn shops, yet this time it was different.

“I literally heard myself getting excited. I had a real self-awareness that for the first time, this could be my dream. This could be the right thing for me,” she recalls. “I channeled my inner Russell Wilson,” laughs the Seahawks super-fan, “and said, ‘Why not me?’”

black sheep yarn boutique

The name for Cohen’s shop comes not from the idea of being an outlier, or “black sheep,” but from being confident in yourself to go your own way.

She dug in, did the work with the help of local life coach Logan Reed and her network of supportive friends and family, and this week will open the doors to The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique.

The space is inviting and cozy with walls fittingly painted “Knitting Needles Gray” and includes a project space, perfect for the classes Cohen will offer. A true beginners class will be first, followed by kids classes, a sock class, and holiday decoration classes. “My goal for the shop is for people to feel like they can come here and find what they want – something unique – without breaking the bank,” Cohen explains. Her selections include skeins starting at just $3 and she looks forward to customer suggestions on yarns and products to carry.

I have my eye on a delicious merino wool, perfect for fingerless gloves come fall.

The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique offers area knitters and crocheters more than a source for beautiful yarn. It offers a place for community, a place for learning, and a place for creating something that lasts. Keeping your hands busy with needles and hooks, not your smart phone, is definitely trending in Olympia.

Keep track of Michelle Cohen and The Black Sheep Yarn Boutique via Facebook.


black sheep yarn boutiqueThe Black Sheep Yarn Boutique

2615 Capital Mall Dr SW #3B (in the Outback Plaza, near Black Bear Diner)

(360) 350-0470

Grand Opening – June 27 and 28 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Regular business hours:

Tuesday and Wednesday – 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Thursday – 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday – 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closed Sunday and Monday

Thurston County Issues Burn Ban Starting June 23

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 3:48pm



Submitted by Thurston County

Thurston County Burn BanThurston County officials are issuing a countywide burn ban that will take effect at 5 p.m. today, Tuesday, June 23, until further notice. The burn ban covers all of unincorporated Thurston County. Thurston County cities and designated urban growth areas already have a permanent outdoor burn ban in place.

The burn ban decision comes as weather forecasters predict record high temperatures coming later this week along with the possibility of lightning strikes, but little or no precipitation.

“This weather pattern of high temperatures combined with lightening but no rain is expected to last through the Fourth of July weekend. That means the burn ban is a critical part of protecting lives and property. Our local firefighters will have their hands full as it is,” said Resource Stewardship department director Scott Clark, who also serves as the county’s fire marshal.

The countywide ban on outdoor burning applies to all land clearing and yard debris burning. However, residents in the unincorporated county outside of the urban growth areas will still be able to enjoy small recreational fires in fire pits, as well as cooking with outdoor barbeques and stoves. The use of self-contained camp stoves is strongly encouraged as an alternative to recreational fires. All small recreational fires must meet the following criteria:

  • Fires must be contained in a metal or concrete fire pit like those that are typically used at campgrounds. These fires cannot be used for debris disposal.
  • Fires must be only three feet in diameter or smaller.
  • Fires must be located in a spot that is completely clear of vegetation. The fire must be at least 10 feet away from any vegetation, 25 feet away from any structure or building, and overhanging branches must be at least 20 feet above the fire.
  • Fires must be attended at all times by an alert individual. All individuals attending fires must be able to extinguish the fire with a readily available shovel and a 5-gallon bucket of water, or with a readily available water hose that is connected and charged.
  • Fires must be completely extinguished by pouring water or moist soil on the fire and stirring with a shovel until all parts are cool to the touch.
  • There is no burning at all when winds exceed 5 mph.

If you see illegal burning or evidence of a wildfire, call 9-1-1 immediately. The penalty for illegal burning during a countywide burn ban is a fine up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. “Conditions are really dangerous right now, so anyone planning on barbequing or having a campfire needs to follow the rules and keep it under control. If you don’t, you should expect the county to enforce the restrictions. It’s a matter of public safety,” said Clark.

The countywide burn ban does not apply to fireworks, but fire officials are strongly encouraging residents to reduce the risk of fires and enjoy only the professional fireworks displays this year. Some cities within Thurston County have fireworks bans already in place or have specific restrictions on the use of fireworks, so residents who live in or near city limits or urban growth areas should check for any city regulations prior to purchasing or discharging fireworks.

“We’re already in the midst of a statewide drought, and the record high temperatures coming our way can make even the tiniest fireworks spark turn into a raging fire within minutes,” said Chief Steve Brooks, Chief of Lacey Fire Protection District 3 and president of the Thurston County Fire Chiefs’ Association. “It’s best to leave the fireworks to the pros this year.”

Residents who do light their own fireworks this year are reminded that the sale of fireworks in unincorporated Thurston County is legal only at inspected and approved stands from noon on June 28 through 9 p.m. on July 4. Daily sales before July 4 are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Discharging fireworks is legal only between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4. The sale and discharge of fireworks is not allowed in the cities of Olympia or Lacey.

To learn more about fireworks safety and injury prevention, go to the Washington State Patrol’s web page on fireworks safety at The Washington State Patrol website also has a list of public fireworks displays in Thurston County and throughout the state.


Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia Awards Eight College Scholarships

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 3:39pm



Submitted by Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia

Rotary Scholarship Winner

New Market Skills Center – Thomas Tinney, $2,000

Eight graduating seniors from South Puget Sound high schools recently were awarded college scholarships from the Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia.

The awards were part of  $13,000 in scholarships Rotary members gave to students from Oakville, Rainier, Tenino, Rochester and the New Market Skills Center. Scholarship funds will help pay for tuition and books leading to a license, certification, associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

“The Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia has a strong educational focus. In addition to these eight scholarships, our club gave $5,000 to the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation to help Thurston County GRAVITY Program students pay fees for GED testing,” stated Kim Metz, SPS Rotary Scholarship Committee Chair.

The scholarships don’t require a perfect GPA. Several factors were considered, including the desire to be successful. “A lot of these kids maybe didn’t get off to the best start in high school, but the last couple of years they’ve really stepped up,” said Metz.

For some, the award means they can focus on education, rather than paying the bills. For others, it’s the confidence they need to conquer college. “Every one of them has a plan, and I think that’s something worth rewarding and something worth encouraging, and that’s what we try and do,” said Metz.

2015 Scholarship winners are: Oakville – Brenda Borro, $2,000, Kayley Sharp, $1,000;
Rainier – Cheyenne Bell, $2,000, Trevor Shaw, $1,000; Tenino – Natalie Hall, $2,000;
Rochester – Kaylin Fosnacht, $2,000, Emily Masseth, $1,000;
New Market Skills Center – Thomas Tinney, $2,000.

The Rotary Club of South Puget Sound-Olympia’s 50+ members are dedicated to doing good in the world. There are more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries. We gather at weekly meetings and other functions to fulfill our commitment to the Rotarian ideals of friendship, fellowship, and service to others.


Top Rung Brewing Takes Gold Medal for My Dog Scout Stout in Washington Beer Awards

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 11:06am



Submitted by Top Rung Brewing Company

top rung brewing

Firefighters Jason Stoltz (left) and Casey Sobel (right) opened Top Rung Brewing in Lacey.

On June 20, Top Rung Brewing was awarded a Gold medal for our My Dog Scout Stout in the American Stout category of the Washington Beer Awards.  My Dog Scout Stout is one of the breweries three original brews that the brewery opened with in April of 2014. Top Rung Brewing is very honored and humbled to receive this award.

This is the first medal that Top Rung has received and the first year to participate in the competition.  The My Dog Scout Stout is named after head brewer Jason Stoltz black lab, Scout.  This beer was designed and developed by Top Rung co-founders Jason Stoltz and Casey Sobol.

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.

Seahawks Land in Lacey for Celebrity Softball Game

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 9:37am



Dream Team Park in Lacey played host to a celebrity softball game on Saturday, June 20.  Paul Richardson, wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, invited other professional football players to join him in the 2nd Annual Celebrity Softball Game.  Participants enjoyed getting their Seahawks gear signed by the players, checking out the Beast bus, and enjoy the sunshine on the field.


celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game celebrity softball game

Olympia’s Keev Farm Offers Summer Pony Camp Scholarships

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 8:33am


Submitted by Keev Farm 

Tracie O'Brien is an accomplished instructor and founder of Keev Farm.

Tracie O’Brien is an accomplished instructor and founder of Keev Farm.

Keev Farm in the Boston Harbor Area of Olympia has announced that it will be offering two full scholarships to their Summer Pony Day Camp this July and August. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5-day camps run from July 27 thru July 31 and August 10 thru August 14. No previous horse experience is necessary.

The Keev Farm Pony Camp is an opportunity to involve elementary students in pony and horse related activities. Campers will participate in activities like craft painting, obstacle courses, collecting chicken eggs, filling horse water buckets, learning about the parts of a pony, types of tack, and different equine sports. Campers will also participate in a grooming clinic, riding lessons, and much more. The ideal range for participating in the camp is elementary students K-5th grade. Each scholarship covers the full tuition for the camp, a value of $275.

Tracie and Tim O’Brien are the Founders of Keev Farm, an environmentally responsible horse farm.  The Irish word “Keev” can be used to refer to a beautiful, kind, and gentle moment, often the type of pony-child relationships we see here on our farm. Tracie O’Brien, an accomplished instructor, has a longtime passion for introducing children to riding, including her three daughters, Aidan (9), Maiti (7) and Rory (4).

Keev Farm offers riding lessons and Pony Camps for children in kindergarten through 5th grade.

Keev Farm offers riding lessons and Pony Camps for children in kindergarten through 5th grade.

O’Brien said, “My husband and I have seen first-hand the joy and developmental benefits riding had has brought to our girls and we realized we can provide that same exciting, quality experience to children throughout the greater Olympia area. This was the impetus for Keev Farm,” shares O’Brien.  “We think it’s important that all children should have the opportunity to enjoy the fitness aspects of riding as well as experience the partnership developed with the horse or pony while riding,” she added.

For inquiries regarding scholarship applications you can email or call 360-584-9988.

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 8:20am



Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton


Casey is the Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week.

Meet Casey.  He’s a handsome young boy and about 2 years old. Casey is an energetic guy who loves to run and play. He enjoys his daily walks and his time in the play yards. Casey responds well to basic obedience commands and is very attentive.

He is treat motivated so he should be very easy to train if you have specific training in mind. When you’re not out walking with Casey, he will be relaxing quietly at your feet. Casey is a very affectionate boy and will want to be with you whenever he can.

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

Aberdeen Founders’ Day – A Celebration of Bearded Men and the City’s Lively History

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 6:00am



By Chelsea Royer

aberdeen founders day

You will find Sam Benn’s name all over the City of Aberdeen. You may even bump into someone dressed to represent the founding father during the Founders’ Day events.

Why road trip to Aberdeen? Often when out of town, the people I speak to aren’t sure where Aberdeen is. More often, people know it as the town they pass through on their way to the Pacific Ocean. In the effort to make it through traffic and reach their destination, most travelers simply bypass the town without becoming aware of what Aberdeen has to offer.

Aberdeen has been working on that. After severe economy strikes, Aberdeen is seeking to rebuild and restore the fascinating aspects of their community. One way of doing that, is by celebrating and promoting the rich history Aberdeen is founded on. Long before hatching Nirvana, Aberdeen was an incredibly wealthy and vibrant community, full of logging, brothels, cigar stores, and luxury shopping centers. (If you want to tour Kurt Cobain’s memorable stopping points in town, click here.) Remembering what it was, Aberdeen realizes what it could be and is today.

Last year, the City of Aberdeen celebrated its first annual Founders’ Day. A community member dressed up as Sam Benn, representing an original founder of the city to proudly host the events. This historical figure wore the original hipster-style beard, surrounded by a community of loggers. That’s right – Aberdeen wore it first! The Sam Benn family is still alive today under the Brasfield name. These descendants attended the ceremonies of Founders’ Day last year and will be returning this year, bringing with them a family chili recipe that has been passed down for generations.

The City of Aberdeen has endured through many difficulties – the most recent of which include severe flooding and mudslides. Yet the community continues to band together more cohesively with each trial, determined to show off the pride they have for their town and each other. A parade seemed the most logical way to do this, and surrounding the big event, is a murder mystery themed dinner and interactive theatre (inspired by local history), a street dance and beer garden, as well as vendors and performances by local community groups.

aberdeen founders day

Aberdeen lost the parade tradition in the 1980s, which just didn’t set right with people like Jamie Judkins, who are excited to show off their community pride. Photo courtesy: Jones Photo Collection.

Jamie Judkins, one of the original planning members, explains, “Aberdeen isn’t what people say it is. We have a lot of great history to share as well as great people and it needs to be shown to everyone.” When brainstorming, Jamie realized Aberdeen was incredibly low on the list for local events. With Westport and Ocean Shores continually hosting parades and festivals, she recognized the need for Aberdeen to host. “Hosting events is a way of bringing back pride. So far it’s working and the city supports us. I like helping Aberdeen learn to become what it once was.” The two-day celebration of community and history was full of fun last year, but this year, the planners are taking it up another notch.

The event will be incredibly family friendly with a climbing wall, a dunk tank, motorbike games, and street vendors. Karen Rowe, yet another planner in this event, is hoping to pack the town. “We have such a historical presence and the events are a great way for people to support local businesses and see unique history. We would love for people to come and experience our town and how great it is, how nice people are, and how we pull together. We have a history that is fun, crazy, sometimes sadistic yet somehow positive,” Karen laughs. “We have many awesome and famous people who come from Aberdeen, as can be seen from the stars placed in our downtown sidewalks.”

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, why not visit Aberdeen? Have a date night and solve the historically inspired murder mystery over dinner and cocktails. Come watch the parade, enjoy local performances and vendors before dancing the night away with local musicians and a craft beer. You may discover a hidden gem in downtown worth returning to visit again.

Find complete event details here.

aberdeen founders day

The history in Aberdeen is rich with interesting facts. How many new things can you learn during Founders’ Day events?

June 26 – Founders’ Day Dinner and Mystery Theatre at 6:30 p.m.

Aberdeen Museum of History

111 E 3rd St in Aberdeen

Cost is $30 per person

Tickets may be purchased at City Center Drug, The Tap Room, GH Wine Sellers, and Aberdeen Museum.

June 27

Parade begins at 11:00 a.m. on Market St.

Vendors and performances start at 12:00 p.m.

Street dance and beer garden 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.