September 1962 – I was there

September 12th, 2017 by Ken

It was September 1962.   I was a young 19-year old solider stationed with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

I had come from the Lilly white Pacific Northwest, and had not even seen a black person until I joined the Army upon high school graduation in 1960.

We had heard about the problems in the South over integration so when the word came down that the 101st Airborne was being sent to Oxford, Mississippi to relieve the Federal Marshals supporting James Meredith’s entry into the University of Mississippi, we weren’t surprised.   Five years previously, the 101st had been sent to Little Rock, Arkansas to help integrate Central High School.

But, this was my first official venture with this historical outfit and so it was with a great deal of excitement as I boarded one of the trucks making the several hundred mile drive from Kentucky to Mississippi.

Our 30-hour trip was marked with new sights, sounds and experiences.  Several of our trucks were stoned as the convoy made its way through the small towns of the South.  One was hit by a Molotov cocktail and set afire.  All along the route, the Confederate battle flag was flying and several car loads of white youths sped in and out of the convoy in an attempt to cause an accident and stop the trucks from getting to their destination.

We drove slowly through Oxford, past the University of Mississippi and out the other side, eventually stopping at what I think was an old national guard post.  There we set up tents and made camp.

The next morning, all of the black soldiers were separated from the white soldiers.  The black soldiers were sent to do KP and other house keeping activities, while the white soldiers drilled in crowd control.  There was much anger and animosity on the part of the black soldiers for being separated, but those in command thought that black soldiers on the front lines might infuriate the white mob even more.

We drilled for several days awaiting our opportunity to head to the campus and to duty, but it never came.  We heard that just the show of strength by armed forces was enough to stop the riot and that political pressure ended the struggle.

We were reunited with the black soldiers and sent back by truck to our home base of Fort Campbell.

But, in less than a month, we would be called back to duty, this time to Florida to get ready to invade Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis – – but that’s another story for another day.

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Renee Sunde leaves Olympia job for another

August 22nd, 2017 by Ken

Renee Sunde, the economic development director for the City of Olympia has been hired to be the new President/CEO of the Washington Retail Association (WRA).   Sunde told city officials the news on Tuesday.

She replaces Jan Teague who is retiring after leading the state’s largest retail organization for more than 19 years.  “Jan has done an incredible job for the Association and WRA is well-respected by everyone,” Sunde said.

Sunde was hired for her Olympia job  two years ago after working for the Economic Development Council.  The move to Olympia was indicative that the City of Olympia was serious about economic development.   “Across the board, the city and the council have been supportive of our economic goals,” Sunde said.  “I’ve received nothing but support from Olympia leaders.”

But, Sunde also pointed out that economic development for Olympia is a challenge.  “The community has a wide variety of interests,” she said.

Sunde said her decision to leave her current job was an opportunity to step up to working at the state level.  The WRA represents more than 3500 store fronts statewide and manages an industrial insurance program for members.  “It’s not hard for me to understand the significance that retail has for this state and to what WRA does to represent those interests.” she said.

Sunde will leave her Olympia job mid-October to begin work at the retail association.

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John Gott

August 16th, 2017 by Ken

(Editors note:  This is a chapter from my book “A Personal History of Lacey.)

Many important people have secrets, but John Gott, the superintendent of the North Thurston School District for 20 years,  was the biggest enigma I’ve ever encountered.  He was gregarious and out-going, loved parties and was well-respected by everyone, yet he held his secrets close to his body and seldom let anyone in.

I learned a few things about him and I suspect that he’s revealed his personal secrets to others in dibs and drabs.  He was a Missouri farm boy, but too intelligent to stay on the farm very long.  He was drafted during World War II and was sent to college to be trained as a doctor.  The war ended before he graduated and he couldn’t afford college on his own, so he burned all of his medical books in the college’s plaza and left.

He worked for Sears for a while collecting bad debts. Somehow, and I’m not certain just how, he managed to get a degree in civil engineering and somehow, I’m not certain just how, he ended up in New Mexico working in a capacity where he was in charge of funding for all of the New Mexico schools.

He was on his way to political office.  It was said he was next in line to run for governor of New Mexico.  Something happened.  John always said that he had a heart attack and when he recovered a career in politics had passed him by.   Others tell me that it was something different.  Whatever the reason he ended up at Washington State University pursuing his doctorate in education.

When the North Thurston School District was looking for a superintendent John Gott was their choice.  That’s when I first met him.

He relished his name – Gott.  Many people in the school district referred to him as the “Gott Father.”  Whatever his personal demons, and John wrestled with his personal demons all of the time, he was well-liked and well-respected.  And, he had the ability to see the future and adapt to trends not even on the horizon.

He foresaw the 24-hour work day and created a school to teach students 24-hours a day.  It was New Century, a high school which started in the late afternoon and ran into the evening.  John told me one time that he thought students who used New Century were students who had to work during the day, maybe by taking care of younger siblings.

He also understood that more than one-quarter of the high school student never graduated from high school, and so he started South Sound High School, designed to offer an alternative education.   Bear in mind that he was doing these projects in the 1980’s before most educators understood the need.

John also knew that not all students would go on to college, and invested district money in vocational programs.  During his time as superintendent, vocational education was a significant part of the district’s budget.   To that end, John wanted a high school devoted strictly to vocational education.

He worked with the adjacent school districts to form such a school program.  He wanted the school so badly that he even allowed it to go into the Tumwater School District, which would get the state funding and the bragging rights to vocational education.  The New Market Vocational Skills Center was formed.  And, while Tumwater officials reaped the public relations, the school was the brain-child of John Gott.

Over the years his programs have been shunted aside in the search for more money and accountability.   He asked me once, when he was in one of his blue moods, what he thought his legacy would be.  His programs were ruined and he thought that was his main contributions to the district.

I told him that those who he hired and trained would be his legacy.  Two of his protégés – – Dave Steele and Jim Koval – – have gone on to serve as superintendents of the North Thurston School District (now the North Thurston Public Schools.)

John liked to compete, whether it was  in poker or golf, or in the professional arena.  He also invested himself into the community through his involvement with business.

John was one of the founders of Lacey Bank (later Venture Bank and then First Community Bank) and served as the first Chairman of the Board.  His firm hand in the early years of the bank, made it a success.

When John retired, he disappeared, throwing away many friendships made through his work.  I heard about him one time.  He had taken over the job of superintendent of the Port Townsend school district  for a short period of time, and turned it around.  The Port Townsend newspaper said that the people of the school district would never know or understand the significance of John’s involvement.

I ran across him once, at SeaTac airport.  He had just come back from a fishing trip to Alaska.  The meeting was short and cordial but nothing more.

That’s just the way John liked it.

(Upon the death of his wife, Coeta, John Gott moved to Panorama.  At the time of this writing (2016) he still resides there.)

 

 

 

 

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Help! I’m an AMAZOMBIE

August 13th, 2017 by Ken

By Joe Illing

I never planned for this.  I never expected my life to veer off society’s byways into a dead end like this.  I never thought I’d spend my days like some kind of religious aesthete in total solitude observing a vow of involuntary mute silence.

But, here I am, sitting all alone with nary another sole in sight.  And, I probably won’t see another for days – – that is unless a FedEx van pulls up with my latest Amazon.com order.  Of course, I probably won’t see the driver or the van, and If I do, I probably won’t talk with him or her.   I remember, I did once, but that was a long time ago.

So, I’ve got to admit it.  I can’t avoid or hide it or deny it any longer.  I’m still alive but I look dead to the outside world because – – –

I’m an AMAZOMBIE

It wasn’t always like this.  I used to get up in the morning ready to tackle my chores, like shopping at Safeway.  I’d see clerks who worked there who actually knew me – – they even acted like they enjoyed seeing me.  No longer.  AmazonFresh does my grocery shopping for me, faster, and cheaper than I could do it for myself, which is why  – – –

I’m an AMAZOMBIE

I used to go to Best Buy or Bed, Bath and Beyond or Home Depot or Barnes and Noble, but not any more.  No need to.  Amazon offers a far better selection for much less money.  I don’t even need to get out of my easy chair now.  So it’s adios clerks and the friends I’d serendipitously run into since – – –

I’m an AMAZOMBIE

I don’t need to hassle with butchers, bakers or candlestick makers these days – – not in person anyway.  Nope, I can get what I need from Amazon.  In fact, the only live I person I have to deal with now is my local FedEx driver, and I don’t even have to do that, because – – –

I’m an AMAZOMBIE

Besides, the FedEx driver and I don’t have time to waste on trivial matters like gossip and useless chatter.  They’ve got vans overflowing with goodies that they have to deliver pronto and I’ve got my list of things to do around the house.  So you see – – –

I’m an AMAZOMBIE

Like I said.  I never planned on it.  I never dreamed of it, but here I am sitting at the dawn of a revolutionary new world.  One that’s cheap and easy – – even it it is solitary and lonely.  After all that’s a small price to pay to be able to kick-back and live it up in  AMAZOMBIELAND – – isn’t it?

 

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I’m a Democrat

August 11th, 2017 by Ken
(Editor’s note:  This article was originally published  on November 13th, 2016.)

I’m a Democrat.   I have been all of my adult life.  I was active and involved for more than 20 years.  In most of that time I was a Precinct Committeman.

I’m a Democrat because it is the party that cares about the working man.   It’s the party that supports the efforts of organized labor to get better working conditions for those who labor on manufacturing lines,in the mines and on the roads.   It’s  for the farmer who works from sun up to sun down to make a living for his family.   It’s the party that understands that small business is the lifeline of this country and the major employer of most working people.

That’s why I’m a Democrat.

The party that carries that name is no longer my party and hasn’t been for decades.   The party that carries the label of Democrat is not the party that echoes the reasons I’m a Democrat.   The party that carries that name is more concerned with other issues that have little or no bearing on my welfare and often works at odds to my future and my family’s future.

I’ve never been able to accomodate my beliefs to that of the Republican party which always favored big business over the working man.

The recent election has turned the parties upside down.   Do the Republicans now support the small business owner and the working stiff, or are they still partners with big business and the established elite?

And, where is my Democratic party?   Is it once and for all realizing that its core constituents of the hard working man and the small business owner may have moved to the Republicans?

I’m going to continue to be a Democrat and hope that sometime soon, my party will return to me.   Until then, I’ll just muddle through the rehetoric holding my party’s place until it comes back.

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Lacey Civic Committee

August 9th, 2017 by Ken

 (Editors note:  It took many people working together to make Lacey the community it is today.  This is one of the chapters in my book about that struggle and the people who made it happen.)

It was one of my great ideas that actually bore fruit.  The idea of the Lacey Civic Committee grew right out of my own thoughts.  I felt Lacey needed an organization which would be able to tackle large projects.  While the service clubs were doing a good job, sometimes something more encompassing was needed.  Hence, the Lacey Civic Committee.

It was 1975, when Bob Wark approached me.  Bob was working as the public relations director for the Washington State Community College System.  I knew Bob from the Lacey Rotary Club.

Bob said that the Green River Community College had a performing group which was traveling around the state putting on performances.  They were willing to come to Thurston County but any money raised from their performance had to go to a Bicentennial project.

The nation’s Bicentennial was two years away and as far as I could tell, no one in our area seemed to be doing anything particular.  We decided to get a committee together and see if there was any interest in proceeding.   Bob sent out letters to all of the service clubs in the Lacey area inviting them to participate in the project.

I contacted the Lacey Area Chamber of Commerce and asked them if they’d be interested in participating.  We set the first meeting on Friday at noon at the Red Bull Restaurant.  We weren’t sure who would show.

That first meeting found Bob and myself sitting at the middle table in the Red Bull dinning room waiting.  Ann Mayse came representing the Lacey Chamber.  Ann was a military wife, the wife of Lt. Col. Harvey Mayse.  She was active in the Republican party and volunteered at the Lacey chamber office.    Soon Neil Good from the Lacey Sunrise Lions Club showed followed shortly by Jim Sheerer and Walt Schefter from the Lacey Kiwanis Club and Gene Dolan from the North Thurston Kiwanis Club.    Neil Good was the Lacey Fire Chief while Walt Schefter was an attorney in private practice.  Jim Sheerer was the manager of Pay N Save our local drug store.   Gene Dolan was a retired banker and had also served as president of the Lacey Chamber and a short stint as its executive director. Our group was set – – for now.

We talked about projects and decided that we should help establish a community identity by creating a “Welcome to Lacey” sign.  We kicked around several locations and settled on a location between South Sound Center and Interstate Five on Sleater-Kinney.

The Green River Community College performed to a small crowd, but now we had a small nest egg and were on our way.  We contacted South Sound Center and asked for permission to build the sign.  After several weeks we received word that the property we wanted didn’t belong to Capital Development but to Sears.  We wrote a letter to Sears asking permission to build a sign on their property.  Several months passed before we received a letter back from them stating “We don’t think it’s our property, but if it is, you can’t build on it.”

Because we liked each other so much we kept meeting during the long wait for an answer.  We debated issues of the day, talked about events affecting Lacey and even came up with a name for our group – – the Lacey Civic Committee.   Walt Schefter found it difficult to make all of the meetings but came to a few.  His place was taken by John Mangham a member of the Lacey Sunrise Lion’s Club.   John was retired, and while I never really understood what he was retired from, he continued to manage some family property.

Nearly a year passed when we finally realized the property was owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation.  We contacted them and asked for permission.  It took some government paperwork but the land was transferred to the City of Lacey which gave us permission to do the work.

We talked to local businesses to get work done.  Jon Powell, the owner of the local John Deere franchise agreed to grade the property.  We had others who agreed to do the cement work and we got Bob Bright, owner of Nu Dor in Lacey to get us the flag poles.

He ordered the three poles from Taiwan.  The freighter carrying the poles sunk and so he ordered another set.  Several months passed before they arrived.

The Bicentennial passed as well, and we were still working on our Bicentennial project.

Volunteers from the Lacey Rotary Club and the Lacey Sunrise Lions clubs pitched in and put in a sprinkler system.  The two groups worked hand in hand to landscape the property.

Everything was set, but we had a problem.  What was going to go on the three flagpoles.  We agreed on the national flag and the state flag but couldn’t determine what to put on the third.   I suggested a city flag.  Since we had no city flag I designed one.  I put the city logo on a field of white and sent it off to the city for approval.  They did.

Thus the Lacey Civic Plaza was built.  On a wet and rainy day in 1978, the plaza was dedicated, the first project for the Lacey Civic Committee.

During the time we were working on the civic plaza we continued to meet weekly.  At one of our Friday meetings it was announced that the City of Lacey was considering an ordinance requiring property and business owners to landscape their property and businesses.  I suggested that perhaps there was a better way of encouraging beautification.

I proposed that we create an award which would be given to businesses and individuals who “made Lacey a better and more attractive place in which to live,” to use a carrot instead of a city stick.  I suggested we call it the Community Improvement Award.  Bob Wark thought it was a great idea and approached the Lacey Rotary Club to act as hosts.  We gave the award for several years, always at a Lacey Rotary Club meeting.  Eventually the Lacey Rotary Club took over the award and later renamed it the Ron Rowe Community Improvement Award.  Ron had been a longtime community activist and served as president of the Lacey Rotary Club and of the Lacey Chamber of Commerce.

Once the Civic Plaza project was completed we continued to meet, keeping our eyes open for another project.  It didn’t take long before the next project came before us.

Denise Fuchs was working as an intern for the City of Lacey doing historical compilation for the city.  One day she approached me and wanted to talk about the old Lacey City Hall.  Fuchs said that the Lacey Fire District had bought the property and was going to tear down the old building.  She thought it should be saved.

I thought she was right.

I brought the matter to the Lacey Civic Committee and they agreed.  So began our third and largest project.

We managed to get the fire district to agree to postpone demolition of the old house while we looked for possible alternatives.  Someone, and to this day I’m not sure just who, approached the Lacey Women’s Club and asked them to donate a portion of their property on Lacey Street on which we could move the old city hall. The property was only a couple of hundred yards away from the site on Pacific Avenue and would be the perfect location.

With some stipulations, the Lacey Women’s Club agreed to donate the property.  We got Rainier House Movers to move the two-story building and on August 30, 1979 the building moved to its current location behind the Lacey Women’s Club house.

Now came the hard part. Turning the old house into a museum.  Many Rotarians and Lion Club members donated money, material and help.  Foremost among those were John Mangham, from the Lacey Sunrise Lions, who oversaw the entire project and put a good deal of his own money into the renovation.

One Friday noon, Bill Bergquist came to our meeting.  Bill was a Lacey Rotarian and on the board of  CETA  (Community Employment Training Act, a federal program) and let us know that money was available to train students in building and construction.  With his help I wrote a grant to CETA for $35,000.  The grant was approved.

John Mangham went to work, supervising the students and spending a great deal of his time at the site.   Through my Rotary contacts I got Pete Fleutsch from Sunset Air to donate and install a furnace.   On October 26, 1980, the Lacey Historical Museum was opened.

After those three projects, the Lacey Civic Committee slowly faded away.  In the 1990’s it rose one more time when the City of Lacey was looking at building a bandstand in Huntamer Park.  Using the Lacey Civic Plaza name and letterhead we solicited private funds to help build the bandstand.  With volunteer help from the Olympia Master Builders the bandstand was completed. That was the last gasp for the Lacey Civic Committee.

 

 

 

 

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Bob Macleod left his mark

July 20th, 2017 by Ken
(This commentary originally ran in November 2013)

The recent resignation of Bob Macleod from the Thurston County Commission should have come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Bob in the last few months.

Now in his 80’s, Bob Macleod was looking frail and sick and it was just a matter of time before he made his decision to step down as Thurston County Commissioner.

He set his retirement for December 31 and his vacancy will be filled by appointment.

Bob has been an active and involved member of this community for decades.  He moved to Thurston County in the 1970’s and went to work for KGY Radio as the news director.  He worked at KGY for 27 years and was looked upon by this community as a community asset.

It wasn’t just his news coverage that was outstanding, but it was his radio commentaries aired by KGY.  Bob Macleod always looked for a solution to any issue he talked about.  He wasn’t content to just comment on a local problem, but often offered his suggestions for a solution.

Unlike those who have come after him, Bob seldom upset anyone while voicing his opinions.  While his radio show often touched on touchy subjects, anyone listening came away convinced that they had heard both sides of the issue.

Bob Macleod was more than a newsman and more than a radio commentator, he was a community asset.  On many occasions he was asked to moderate a discussion or debate on a community concern because people knew he was fair and interested.

When Bob retired from KGY he didn’t stop his work to make his community a better place.  He went to work for State Senator Karen Fraser as kind of an aide.  He would help the senator better understand the issues and would offer her advice on how to proceed.

During his career as a newsman Bob always covered Thurston County government and the issues it faced.  So, when an opportunity to run for a Thurston County Commission seat came, he took it on and defeated the incumbent Democrat Kevin O’Sullivan, in the 2002 Primary Election.

If you didn’t know Bob Macleod you would have thought that he did very little, but you’d be wrong.  Bob didn’t seek the spotlight.  His service on the Thurston County Commission was one of quiet competence.  County government is better for having Bob Macleod on the board.

When he steps down at the end of this year his two fellow commissioners Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero will name someone to the vacant seat from a list prepared by Thurston County Democrats.   Whoever gets the appointment will have to run in 2010.

I’ll do other stories on the vacancy, the appointment process and the results, at a later time.

Right now I just want to thank Bob Macleod for all of his service to the community.

Thanks Bob.

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Campaigns and political signs

July 19th, 2017 by Ken

Election season came early this year.   The need to get ballots to our troops overseas resulted in moving the Primary Election date to August 1.   The ballots for the race came out last week.

In Lacey, there are seven candidates seeking election or re-election who are putting up campaign signs.   These include:  Rick Nelsen, Robert Motzer, Michael Steadman, Madeline Goodwin, Cynthia Cox, Rachel Young and yours truly Ken Balsley.

Three of those seven are not even on your Primary Election ballot.   Steadman and Motzer face off in November only –  and Rachel Young is running unopposed.   Why she wants to put up signs when she has no opposition is strange.   I suspect she had the signs made up before the filing period and just thought she needed to get some name recognition.

The four of us on the ballot – – Nelsen, Cox, Goodwin and Balsley  – are jockeying for name recognition.   That is the most important factor in a primary election.  Voters must become familiar with your name   Putting up campaign signs is the most effective way of getting name recognition.

The City of Lacey has rules regarding political signage.  For the most part, the rules are mostly ignored, particularly in city elections.  The most often violated rule says that no signs can be put up on the public right-of-way.

I put up signs only on private property with the approval of the land owner.  I also have some supporters who might put up signs that aren’t in complete compliance with the rules.

To date, I have about 300 signs out.  That’s a normal amount for a city election.   Most of my opponents have about the same amount of signs.   But, if it seems that all you see are my signs – – it’s due to one fact.  My signs stand out.   White on red is the best color for signs – and a simple name is all that can be read by drivers.

All of us complain about our signs being taken down.   To date, I have lost about 47 signs that I’m aware of.  Again, that’s normal.   Signs are knocked down by kids, blown over by wind, and taken down by people who just don’t like signs.   I don’t believe my opponents or their supporters take down my signs.   I know I instruct my supporters to keep their hands off my opponents signs and I suspect they do the same.

Once the campaign is over, all political signs must be removed in seven days.  Those who remain for the general election in November can keep their signs up.   Sometimes it does seem like its a long, long way to November.

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Lacey opts to wait on county convention center

July 7th, 2017 by Ken

“The Nisqually Tribe is important to the future of Lacey.”

With those words, Lacey mayor Andy Ryder may have effectively shut down efforts by the Thurston County Commissioners to create a cultural and convention center in Thurston County.

During a work session Thursday evening, county manager Ramiro Chavez and Commissioner Hutch Hutching, made a presentation to the Lacey council on the benefits of joining with the county in creating a special district to help fund a convention center.

But, Ryder’s words seemed to bring the discussion to an end.   Ryder said the city was still talking with the Nisqually tribe about the 240 acres of land the tribe owns in the Gateway area of Hawks Prairie and their idea of creating an entertainment center, which might include a hotel and convention center.

Ryder was joined in his remarks by Council members Lenny Greenstein and Jason Hearn who felt that a private entity should have the opportunity to build a convention facility before resorting to public money.

Ryder also told the county leaders that he has had talk with the mayors of both Tumwater and Olympia, and they all had concerns about the county’s proposal including the fast time frame the proposal seemed to be on.

Without the support of Lacey, the county’s largest city, it appears the county may have reached an end to its efforts.

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Small business closure affects community

June 30th, 2017 by Ken

It’s a shame when any small business has to close its doors.  It’s a shame that Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby had to announce that her clothing store – Vivala – was going out of business in August.

Small businesses are the heart of any community.   Not only do they employ local people, but the money they make goes back into the local community in terms of wages and purchases, as well as in local taxes.

The average small business lasts about five years.  Mayor Selby’s business beat the averages.   She should be proud of her venture into the retail trade.  And, while she may not feel good about the decision to close her store – – she’s right.   You can’t run a business as a non-profit.   It was the right business decision.

As mayor of Olympia, she has some ability to influence the business climate of her city.  She pledges to continue to be a supporter of small business and I think her decision to close down, will give her a better understanding of what problems all small businesses face.

As an aside – – Lacey Councilmember Rachel Young has a business adjacent to Selby’s .  Young is surely looking at the Olympia mayor’s struggles and wondering how it impacts her and her business in downtown Olympia.

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America’s great divide grows wider

June 21st, 2017 by Ken

The split in America isn’t between Democrats and Republicans or even between liberals and conservatives.  The split in America is nothing new.   It’s been with us since the beginning of human habitation.   It’s a split between rich and poor.

In the last presidential election, every single one of this country’s richest counties – – some 493 of them – voted for Hillary Clinton.  The other 2623 counties – mostly rural or suburban –  voted for Donald Trump.   Those are the findings of  people more versed in political  statistics than I.

Rich and poor have always been with us.   The Bible even says that we shall always have the poor.   In some forms of government, the divide between those with money and those without money is wide.  It has always been less so in the United States.  We have accepted the theory that hard work and education is the way for the poor to enter the mainstream.  And, with a little luck and even harder work – become rich.

But, for the last quarter of a century, the gap between rich and poor has widen in the United States.   Coupled with a decline in manufacturing jobs and an education system still stuck in the 18th Century, many poor and even middle class citizens, see no way for advancement to the next level of financial stability.

And, that’s the gap.   Those with money and status voted for Clinton and the status quo.   Those with little hope voted for Trump and hoped for the best.

And, that spilled over into Thurston County.  The liberal base in Olympia voted for the status quo.  Those in the rural area voted for change.   It’s a little over simplified, but it holds true.

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Lacey chamber has new executive

June 19th, 2017 by Ken

Rick Jump is the new executive director the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce.   He started in his job last week.

Jump is the former executive of the White Center Food Bank, a position he held for 19 years.   He and his wife recently moved to a house in West Olympia.    Jump is anxious to meet the members of the chamber and learn more about the business community he serves.

Sierra Roundy, the out-going director, has taken a job in Tacoma, but will stay on part time through the South Sound BBQ Festival on July 8.   “Words can’t describe the gratitude I feel,” she wrote.  “It’s been a great experience”

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Woodland Trail to be named for Karen Fraser

June 16th, 2017 by Ken

Portions of the Woodland Trail between Lacey and Olympia will soon be named for Karen Fraser.

The two cities and the two city parks boards have been working on the idea for some time and have agreed that naming the trail for Fraser is a good way of recognizing her four decade commitment to the community.   Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder said that it was an appropriate way to honor the city’s first woman mayor and her efforts to make Lacey and the greater community a better place to live.

Fraser said she was highly honored to receive the recognition.   “I’ve been a trails supporter forever,” she said.  “I’ve supported every trail project and I’ve walked most of the trails in the county.  It’s a great honor.”

The exact details are yet to be worked out.   But, Karen Fraser will soon see her name associated with the trail which ties, Lacey, Olympia together.

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It’s time to move the county seat to Lacey

June 8th, 2017 by Ken

Thurston County commissioners are looking at spending $200 million to build a new county courthouse somewhere in Olympia.   The odds on favorite place is a location in downtown Olympia – the county seat.

But, maybe it’s time to look at moving the county courthouse to Lacey.   I’m not making that suggestion lightly.   I’ve thought about it for awhile.   As long as the commissioners are going to build a new courthouse – it should be in the center of the population of the county.   It should be in Lacey.

The city is already the largest city in Thurston County – and the urban growth area of Lacey will bring the city’s population to more than 80,000 people.

Land is cheaper in Lacey.  Several locations are available and the process takes less time and money.   Lacey is the perfect location for the new Thurston County courthouse.

But, doesn’t the courthouse have to be in the county seat, you ask?    Of course it does.   But, by a simple vote of the people, the county seat can be moved to another city within the county.  It’s not an uncommon thing to do.

What about the jail?   Doesn’t it have to be in the county seat?   After all we just built a new one in Olympia/Tumwater.  Sure. It does have to be in the county seat.  But, we can give the county 25 years to transfer all of its assets to its new location in Lacey.

Lacey is a 21st Century city, with leaders who have vision.

Think about the suggestion.   It really has merit.

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Subscribers to “The Olympian” might want to read the fine print

June 6th, 2017 by Ken

I was trying to decide if I wanted to renew my subscription to The Olympian.  While looking for a place to write or call, I came across some fine print.   I decided to read it.   Here’s what I found out.

If you’re a subscriber to the paper already.  You don’t have to do anything.  According to the fine print, your subscription will be automatically renewed, unless you notify them.  The number is in the fine print. In other words, it’s an opt out instead of an opt in.   Not paying your subscription when it expires could result in a large payment for you in the future.

Then, the paper reserves the right to change subscription rates with a 30 day notice. That notice could be by mail, on-line or just in the pages of the newspaper.

You also pay a $2 fee for special publications, called Premium editions.  Some of them have already passed this year but Premium editions published on June 22, Sept. 7, October 12 and Dec 14 will include the additional fee.  A $1 fee will also be added for the Thanksgiving edition.

For those of you who are thinking about subscribing, the paper charges a $9.99 cent start-up fee.

I have just touched on some of the fine print.   You might want to read it yourself.

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Annexation – What’s in it for me?

June 5th, 2017 by Ken

The 400 or so residents living around the Capitol City Golf Course are not in the City of Lacey.   They are almost an island surrounded by Lacey and as such, are prime candidates for annexation into the city.

But residents of the area aren’t certain there is any benefit to joining with the city.   That question came up time and time again when homeowners and city staff met in a work session last week.   “What’s in it for us” was the most often asked question.

Referred to several times in the discussion was the streets in the sub-division.  Residents want the city to take over the streets if they annex.  The city says the streets are private property.  On and on it went.   What the property owners want, the city can’t give.  So residents continue to ask, “What’s in it for us?”

The city responded that under the Growth Management Act, the sub-division will eventually have to be annexed into the city since it is almost an island, surrounded by the city.

The answer didn’t convince the property owners, although they seem resigned to the eventuality that, they would soon become tax-paying, proud residents and voters in the City of Lacey.

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Purple Heart County new designation

May 30th, 2017 by Ken

Thurston County has been named a “Purple Heart County” by the Thurston County Commissioners.

They took that action this Memorial Day week to honor those who have served in the nation’s military and who have been wounded in battle.   “We wanted to honor all of our military both active and retired who live here,” said Commissioner Hutch Hutchings.  We felt this was a good way to do it.”

Signs designating Thurston County as a “Purple Heart County” will begin appearing at all major roads leading into the county

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Where’s Uncle Walter When we need him?

May 28th, 2017 by Ken

By Joe Illing

“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.” Abraham Lincoln

I have a very smart Seattle friend. He graduated from Columbia with a Masters in history and cum laude from Harvard Law. A typical Seattle liberal, he’s listened to NPR religiously for the past thirty years. But he listens no longer. They’ve lost him.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, I used to get news from NPR. Now all I get are their political opinions. Every story, regardless of its news content, seems to start with the reporter’s view as to whether the event helps or hurts the Democrats or the Republicans. The news itself is secondary, almost an afterthought.”

Thinking maybe he’d been converted from a lifelong commitment to the political left by Donald Trump, I asked him.

“Oh, hell no! NO! I can’t stand that man. I held my nose and voted for Hillary! But … I don’t know … ” and his voice faded off.

“But what?” I asked anxiously.

“It’s the bias of the media, on both sides of the political divide. It’s so transparent it’s nauseating,” he replied. “I long for the good old days of Walter Cronkite and the six o’clock news. I never knew if he was a Democrat or a Republican. He played it straight down the middle. I miss that … and I miss his honest, non-advocacy reporting. So now, in order to preserve my sanity, I listen to audio books during my commute.”

I had to wonder if NPR has lost this deeply committed liberal, how many others has it lost? I can only assume it’s a bunch and my friend is a bit like the first rock rolling in an avalanche.

And I though it all comes down to trust. We trusted Cronkite to give us the news straight, untainted by a polarizing political point of view. But no longer. The news reportage has become so tilted one way or the other that we can no longer fully trust any of it.

It’s a shame, and even a threat to our republic’s well being … but, unfortunately, as “Uncle Walter” used to say “that’s the way it is.”

 

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Lacey chamber seeks new executive director

May 26th, 2017 by Ken

The Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new executive director.

After three years at the helm of the chamber, executive director Sierra Burton Roundy is leaving to follow her new husband to Tacoma while he attends school.  She has taken a job as marketing director for a Tacoma firm.

Roundy’s last day is today, but she will continue to work for the Lacey chamber two days a week through the BBQ Festival in July.

While money was not a factor in her leaving, the chamber will have to pay its staff better if it wants to retain good employees, she said.

Current president Martin McElliott is starting the search for a replacement.

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Cruise ships to stop in Olympia

May 24th, 2017 by Ken

American Cruise Line has put the Port of Olympia on its 2018 schedule.

Beginning in late September of that year, a 175-passenger ship will dock at the Port of Olympia and discharge its passengers for day tours and visits to the local area.

Port Commissioner Bill McGregor said he has been working on the idea for more than three years.  Representatives of the cruise line visited the port recently and said their new ship would fit perfectly in port facilities.

The cruise line staff will work with the Visitor and Convention Bureau for on-shore trips and activities.

The visits are part on the 11-day fall cruise schedule.   If the visits work out, the cruise line may add Olympia to its seven-day Puget Sound summer cruise.

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