Mental health court

courtThe Olympian reports on a program that helps keep folks out off jail -- thus saving the county loads of $$. Funding for mental health court is not guaranteed, however:
Only offenders accused of misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors are allowed into the program, although the prosecutor's office will reduce some felony charges for those who otherwise would be eligible.

To start the court, officials needed about $38,000, mostly to pay for a coordinator for the program. Extending the program to year's end will cost an additional $10,000. Commissioners approved the increase earlier this month.

The fledgling court's funding next year remains in doubt.

District Court Judge Kip Stilz, who presides over the mental health court, said he hopes to persuade county commissioners to fund the court next year, or to take advantage of a law the Legislature passed this year that allows counties to boost the sales tax one-tenth of a percent to raise money for mental health programs.

The program would need about $80,000 next year, he said.

If this program really works, it would be a great shame if it is allowed to lapse.

Public hearing on land development

The Olympian reports that the port commissioners will be holding a hearing to generate ideas about what to do with the 17 acre plot on the west side of East Bay Drive. It seems the commissioners are at a loss:

Trouble is, commissioners have no better idea of the type of development to allow on East Bay than they did two years ago.

And they don't agree that Monday's hearing is necessary, at least at this point.

Regardless, at the urging of Commissioner Paul Telford, the hearing is the main order of business at Monday's commission meeting.

"I need to know what the citizens think," Telford said. "We need people to come out who did not come out before."

The only ideas that they seem to be able to come with include sports teams. Can we generate some other ideas here? What about an artist's market (on the model of the farmer's market)? What about an extension campus for a local college? What about a prompt care health clinic? What about a public exercise facility?
What: Port of Olympia Board of Commissioners public hearing on East Bay development ideas.

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

Where: LOTT boardroom, second floor of the Market Centre Building, 111 Market St., Olympia

September 24th


Here is a flickr slide show of pictures from protest marches around the country. This one is my favorite (so far).

If anyone has pictures from last night's event at the Capitol Theater, please post them here (or send a link).

The march to Ft. Lewis

The Olympia Movement for Peace and Justice organized a march to Ft. Lewis to protest the war in Iraq and to support the troops by bringing them home. I spoke with several protesters today.

What's it about?

I asked Pete about why he was marching:

Click on Picture to Play

Quicktime Required (free download)

Supporting the troops

Barry talked about supporting the troops:

Click on Picture to Play

Quicktime Required (free download)

[update 9/24/05]

See these pictures from Rob W.'s blog, and these from Zoltan Grossman's site.

Also see this write-up in the Taccoma News Tribune, and this one in the Olympian.

[update 9/25/05] Here's a post from pro-war blogger Sondrak.

Big choices about Capitol Lake

The Olympian opines about the fate of Capitol Lake:

Crews are on the ground studying the lake as part of a $900,000 study to determine whether it's best to leave the 260-acre lake as a reflecting pool or remove the Fifth Avenue dam and allow the man-made lake to revert to an estuary. The first parts of the study should be complete next spring.

The ramifications are huge -- not just for aesthetics, the environment and salmon recovery, but for shipping in lower Puget Sound. The sediments washing down the Deschutes River have to go someplace, and if it isn't the lake, it will be Budd Inlet. And that has potential impacts for the Port of Olympia and the Army Corps of Engineers responsible for saltwater dredging. Then there's the question of whether the new, multimillion- dollar Fourth Avenue bridge can withstand unregulated tidal action if the dam is removed.

Can anyone describe what it would look like if the dam is removed?

Digital phone service

Comcast is beginning to offer Voice-over IP phone service in Thurston County, reports the Olympian:

A Comcast customer of the new service can keep their existing phone number, use a touch-tone phone and connect to the service through a cable modem.

The service includes an installation and activation charge and a monthly charge that varies if it is used in conjunction with other Comcast services. A customer who only wants the Comcast voice product will pay $49.95 a month, Neary said.

While the monthly fee of many VoIP products is comparable to a regular phone line, the advantage to the consumer is that VoIP companies usually offer unlimited local long distance services at no charge, said Jay Stewart, owner of Olympia-based Zhonka Broadband. Stewart said this is possible because the Internet is not as regulated as phone lines are and to "digitize" a phone call doesn't require as many resources to transmit that call.

Seems expensive. Does anyone have any experience using Skype?

Young Dems Forum and Endorsements

The Thurston County Young Dems did our endorsements following the forum last night. Here are the results of that process and some thoughts on last night. Also, here are some comprehensive notes on the forum.

Fun was had by all.

Ft. Lewis invades downtown Olympia


An opinion piece in The Olympian exhorts us to do our part cleaning up downtown. Now the military is involved. Aren't they busy?

More new stuff

A couple of updates to the site:

  • I've created pages specifically for posting about animal exchanges and for finidng a housemate. These seemed like services that folks were needing, so here they are (see picture on the sidebar).
  • All the links are now hosted by This means that they will include not only those defined by OlyBlog users, but will include any that include the same tags. Thus, anyone can now submit links by associating a site on with the appropriate tags.

Private land owner grants available

The Landowner Incentive Program has grants of up to $50,000 to give away to private landowners who want to take steps to protect endangered species.

Land owners only have to either match 25% of the $ or do in-kind work. Seems like an easy requirement.

If you know a private landowner who would use the money to do some good, send them that link above

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