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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You must be a longtime Lacey Resident

May 23rd, 2017 by Ken

If you remember 

The Patterson Lake  Roller Rink and the skating bus.

Sledding on Judd Hill in the winter snows

Trying to sneak into the Evergreen Ballroom with fake ID

Driving off from the Lacey Drive In Theater with the speaker still attached


When the Bower Learning Center was the North Thurston High School library

When Timberland High School was first opened

Swimming at Sunrise Resort on Hicks Lake

When College Street was two lanes with parking on both sides

When Jerry Farmer sold men’s clothing at The Guardsman.

The Guard House

Ludlow Bingo

Fireworks stands on all the street corners

Pietro’s Pizza which became Kenny Rogers Roasters

Dancing at Richard’s Roundhouse

Having your first legal beer at the Melody Lane Tavern

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What’s not surprising about Lacey elections

May 22nd, 2017 by Ken

Filing for elective offices brought few surprises in those who chose to run for office in Lacey, but a little surprise in those who chose not to run.

When Jeff Gadman resigned from the Lacey City Council to take over as Thurston County Treasurer, nearly a dozen people expressed in interest in being appointed to the vacant seat.  When the disputes and disagreements settled, Rachel Young was appointed.

It was anticipated by political pundits that several of those who were not selected would run for the office.   With the end of filing period last week, that was not the case.   Young didn’t draw a single opponent.   She will skate into office without being challenged.

Incumbent Mayor Andy Ryder and Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt also failed to draw opposition.

But, one incumbent councilmember did get a challenger.   Michael Steadman will face Robert Motzer.

The seat being vacated by retiring Virgil Clarkson drew four candidates.  Rick Nelsen, Madeline Goodwin, Carolyn Cox and myself.   Nelsen, Cox and I had sought appointment to the empty seat won by Young,.  Motzer had also sought appointment.   The other six candidates did not file for any of the five positions open on the Lacey City Council.

For the first time in my memory, all of the open seats on the North Thurston School Board have at least two candidates running.  There’s no free skating in the Lacey education realm this time.

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May 4 storm may be as bad as Columbus Day storm

May 17th, 2017 by Ken

That’s the assessment of Lacey City Manager Scott Spence.   The May 4 storm which hit Lacey hard, may be compared to the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 although in a significantly smaller area.

In a talk before the Gateway Rotary Club Wednesday, Spence said the damage and the force of the storm, could be comparable to that major storm of more than 50 years ago.

Hardest hit was the area in Lacey comprised of Yelm Highway, Ruddell Road, College Street and Rainier Road.

Spence listed off the statistics – – for the fifteen minute period of 4:15 to 4:30 pm, rain fell at the equivalent of 13 inches an hour.  Some 46 homes were hit by falling trees, at least 75 street trees were uprooted and 56,000 people were without power, some for up to three days.  He said some experts put the wind speed at nearly 100 mph.

Spence said that early response by Puget Power allowed all roads to be opened and power restored rather quickly.   “Because the area hit was so small, PSE was able to get crews to the site as early as possible,” he said.

The city manager estimated that $1 million dollars in damage was done to houses hit by trees, and the cost to the city of street damage and overtime was near $300,000.

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Filing period starts today

May 15th, 2017 by Ken

Filing period for local elective offices starts today.  I went down early and registered for a seat on the Lacey City Council – – Position Seven – – the seat currently held by Virgil Clarkson.   Virgil is not running for re-election and has endorsed me for that seat.

We will make the campaign official next Tuesday when I begin my election run.  At that event, Virgil will make the endorsement public.

The kickoff event will be held at Forrey’s Forza near the intersection of Marvin Road and Martin Way, beginning at 7 a.m., Tuesday, May 23.  All are welcome.

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Vets center $40,000 ahead

May 12th, 2017 by Ken

Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder announced recently that the Mayor’s Gala was a great success.   The event raised more than $40,000 to support the Lacey Veteran’s Services Hub

Ryder made that announcement at his recent kickoff to retain his Lacey City Council seat.

The Mayor’s Gala was part of the City of Lacey’s year-long celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary of incorporation.  Money raised at the event will go to support veteran’s services provided at the Hub, which is located on the campus of the Lacey branch of South Puget Sound Community College.

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Lacey’s infamous poker game

May 8th, 2017 by Ken

There weren’t many places to play poker in Lacey back in the 1970’s.  The only card room operating openly was on the floor atop Casey’s tavern.  They were low stakes and open to everyone.

But, the game we all wanted to play in took place every Thursday night in a meeting room above the Red Bull Restaurant.   There restaurant owner Ron McWain held a high stakes invitation only poker game.   On more than one occasion, I asked Ron to let me into the game.   “You can’t afford it,” he said.   And I never got a seat at the table.

The names of all those who did get a seat aren’t all known, but the name of some of them are.  Those names go to a story that made the rounds of local poker players for years.

It took place one Thursday night at the Red Bull.  Playing in that game were many local businessmen, but the two who took the spotlight that night were Lee Bensley and Tony Swatsky.  Lee owned Lee’s Restaurant on Martin Way, and a couple of apartment complexes.  Swatsky owned Tony’s Jewelry.

The story goes that Lee and Tony had been going at it all evening, with one taking a hand and then another.   Until that fateful moment.

The ante was $100.  Lee raised the pot.   Tony re-raised.   Lee raised back.   Tony responded in kind.   Lee put all of his money into the pot.   Some said it was close to $10,000.   Tony called  – and raised $10,000 of his own.

Lee had no more money, and no way to get access to it that evening.   So, as the story goes, he put up his restaurant.   Now Lee’s Restaurant wasn’t just any restaurant.   Lee’s had been the first restaurant in the state to have a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise and people came from all over  just to eat this new chicken treat.

Lee put up his restaurant and signed a note giving it to Tony.  With the bet covered,  Tony turned over his hand.  Those there that night said he had three jack’s.  Lee folded and mixed his losing hand with the discards.

The next morning, after the banks opened, Lee went to Tony’s store and gave him $10,000 in cash.

Now, I don’t know if that story’s true or not.  Both Lee Bensley and Tony Swatsky have passed away.   The house man Ron McWain, sold the Red Bull and moved to Nevada.

But, it makes a good story and Lacey is filled with good stories.

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Mother Nature has the last say

May 8th, 2017 by Ken

A few days ago, I stood on my front porch and marveled at the majesty of nature’s power, and thought of the impact it has on our lives.   Streets blocked, trees down and school closed.

Nature has a way of making us seem small and insignificant.

I’ve lived in the same house in Lacey for more than 40 years.   I’ve seen everything nature can throw at us.   This year some 114 days with rain since last October.  November is known for windstorms.   One year we had winds of nearly 90 mph.

We also get snow.  The winter of 1968-69 we got six  feet on snow in one winter.   Five years ago we had 30 inches of snow in one day. Snows like that are not common – – but it appears we get some snow event about every three years.   Ice storms are also a possibility.  We’ve had so much ice one year that many trees toppled and other lost their tops.

Heat isn’t often a problem – – but it can be.   In 2009 we had five days with temperatures in the 100’s.  With no air conditioning we suffered but we learned to cope.  It’s only for a short time.

We’ve had cold also.  In the 1970’s it wasn’t uncommon to have temperatures below zero.   I think the coldest it got was nine below.

All of this has me thinking about the global climate change debate.   Can human beings really have an impact on our weather or do we just take a short term view?  The Earth’s climate changes in periods of ten thousand years – – but can make the change in just a decade.

After last week’s storm – – I marvel at human efforts to affect climate change.

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Observations on Olympia’s riots

May 2nd, 2017 by Ken

Black-robed anarchists, carrying bats and shields, made a mess of downtown Olympia yesterday, as property-owners watched the windows of their buildings broken out and other damage to private property.

How could such an activity happen in this center of peace, love and everyone’s an important and vital part of our community – – community?

There are several possible explanations.   These are what I see.

We have three colleges in this community which attract young people.   A small minority – – all white and all male – – see an opportunity to get rid of their rage against the world – – something that most young males have.   Attracted by a community that wants to give weight to all forms of expression – – they find all protests and marches – – as the perfect vehicle to draw attention to themselves.

Then, a culture of protest under the protection of “free speech”  provides the opportunity.  Hardly a week goes by, that some group or other isn’t marching in the streets or gathered in groups – – protesting something.  That reinforces the feeling of these anarchists, that what they’re doing is an accepted form of protest.

The city also has a police force that is hamstrung by a political culture which stops law enforcement from enforcing the laws.  Anarchists know that they can get away with violence and take the opportunity to do so.

As long as its popular to protest in the streets and as long as the culture of the city stops the police from doing their job, and as long as they can get away with joining “peaceful” protest marches  – – the violence is going to continue.   It’s the accepted thing to do now.

Blame it on the culture of the community.

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Mayor’s Gala shows community support for the military

April 30th, 2017 by Ken

If anything demonstrates the feelings the Lacey community has for its military  – it took place Friday night at the St. Martin’s Marcus Pavilion.

More than 300 people gathered for the first ever Lacey Mayor’s Gala for the purpose of raising money to support the new Lacey Veteran’s Services Hub.   The event was billed as part of the city’s 50th Birthday celebration, but became a symbol of Lacey’s support for the military.

It’s estimated that as many as 29 percent of all Lacey residents are active duty or retired military or are civilian employees of the military.   Other estimated statistics claim that as much as 42 percent of all Lacey residents have some connection to the military.

The Gala recognized the previous mayor’s in the city’s history, many of whom were in attendance,  but also its connection to Joint Base Lewis McChord just six miles down I-5.

Connecting the history celebration to support for the Veteran’s Hub and the military was the idea of members of the Lacey City Council, but the drive to do so came from Mayor Andy Ryder.  Ryder spent considerable time and effort to make the event a success.

The amount of money raised to support the Hub is still being counted, but it seems to be substantial.   However, the support of the community for the military and the military families in Lacey was well-demonstrated.

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