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.

Posted in Business, The Real News having Comments Off on Cruise ships to stop in Olympia

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

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on You must be a longtime Lacey Resident

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.

Posted in Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on What’s not surprising about Lacey elections

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.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on May 4 storm may be as bad as Columbus Day storm

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.

Posted in Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Filing period starts today

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.

Posted in Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Vets center $40,000 ahead

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.

Posted in History, The Real News having Comments Off on Lacey’s infamous poker game

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.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Mother Nature has the last say

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.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Observations on Olympia’s riots

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.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Mayor’s Gala shows community support for the military

Why do we allow 18-year olds to vote?

April 25th, 2017 by Ken

If you’ve ever raised a teenager then you know just how difficult it is.   That friendly outgoing loving child that once sat on your lap and listened intently as you read a bedtime story – – turned into a surly, foul-mouthed hateful person – – full of venom and hate for anything connected with her family.

That’s the way it is you reasoned.  That’s what teenagers do.  It’s just their way of pulling back and separating themselves from their parents so they can learn to be good, loving adults.

That’s what I used to think until recently that is.   A few years ago I learned that a child’s brain doesn’t spring fully formed as their bodies develop.   A teenagers brain is still developing, still maturing well into their 20’s.   And, the last part of the brain to fully develop is the part which understands consequences.

In other words, teenagers can’t see into the future.  They can’t recognize their behavior will impact them in just a few years.  Their brain doesn’t allow them to see the consequences of their actions.

At 14 or 15 a teenager can think logically, just like an adult does.  They can verbalize logic and even understand logic, but since her brain isn’t fully developed, there’s a disconnect between knowing and understanding.

Scientists have proven that the brain continues to produce sympathetic brain cells into the mid-20’s, which allow people to understand the impacts their actions have on others and on themselves.

So, while parts of a teenagers brain can think logically, it can’t make the connection between logic and consequences.

So, if the brain isn’t fully developed until the ages of 22 or 23, why do we let 16-year olds get behind the wheel and drive?   Better yet, why do we let 18-year olds vote?  Why do we let 17-year olds join the military?

Perhaps, in the past, when we didn’t know any better, it might have made sense.  That’s when we thought teenagers were just young adults.  Now we know better.  It’s time we re-thought our conclusions regarding teenagers.

Posted in Informational, The Real News having Comments Off on Why do we allow 18-year olds to vote?

Tax fallacies from Seattle mayor

April 22nd, 2017 by Ken

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has said he will ask the city council to enact an income tax on large incomes.  He says it will be only for people who make $200,000 a year.   He also plans to ask for reductions in some other forms of taxes.

They re several problems with that proposal.

The State Supreme Court has previously ruled that cities cannot implement an income tax on their own.   Murray is obviously hoping this liberal court will overturn that restriction.

Then, we all know that the level of $200,000 will soon be lowered to $150,000, then $100,000 and eventually extended to anyone with an income.

About reducing other taxes.  We all know that taxes are never reduced for long.  They too eventually rise back up to where they were initially.  And, we know that taxes are never eliminated.   Here’s an example.   In 1919 the State of Washington put a few cents tax on each package of cigarettes sold to pay a bonus to all state residents who had served in World War I.   That tax has never gone away and continues to increase every year.

The Seattle mayor is trying to get those making less than $200,000 a year to vote in the tax.  Beware – – because you too will soon be paying.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Tax fallacies from Seattle mayor

Chambers Prairie Grange Hall to go

April 20th, 2017 by Ken

By Janine Gates

Little Hollywood

A Little Hollywood Land Use Investigation

The 107 year old former Chambers Prairie Grange on the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway in Tumwater will be demolished, says building owner Tom Schrader.

Schrader’s decision to raze the beloved grange has caught many off guard, including City of Tumwater planning staff and the city council’s citizen advisory planning commission.

Members of the city council and the city’s historic preservation commission have not been formally informed of Schrader’s new intentions for the building

(Editor’s note:  Janine Gates in the editor of “Little Hollywood.”   This is just a short excerpt from a longer story posted on her blog.)

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Chambers Prairie Grange Hall to go

Diversity for diversity’s sake?

April 20th, 2017 by Ken

by Dale Cooper

Diversity. It’s a fine word. What would we do without it?

Gardens would be monotone. Debate would be monotonous. Sport would be superfluous. Politics would be dispensable.

However that’s not our world, nor has it ever been, either in flora or fauna. We homo sapiens are from different backgrounds, races, cultures and climates. We have different gifts, challenges, aspirations and IQs. We see life differently, honor our ancestors differently, pray differently and view the world differently.

Why? We’re all from different tribes. The history of our species has been blessed by the exchange of knowledge between tribes, but has also plagued by bloody tribal conflict … Sapien versus Neanderthal, Hun versus Han, Roman versus Carthaginian, Norman versus AngloSaxon. We’ve slaughtered each other marching to the martial drumbeats of tribes from pre-historic times … and if we ever hope to reach an era of true harmony, peace and prosperity, this tribal mentality has got to go!

This problem has plagued us since we started walking upright. If we ever hope to live together in harmony and peace we must forge one tribe out of all the many tribes that surround us. If we fail, we’ll simply witness another ugly chapter in the unending history of tribal warfare.

And that’s the tragedy of those who extol “diversity” for diversity’s sake. In doing so we’ve forsaken a couple of centuries of viewing our nation as a “melting pot” in which we’re ingredients in the same stew. It identifies us as members of groups, or tribes, rather than individuals, and it leads to no good for anyone.

Posted in History, The Real News having Comments Off on Diversity for diversity’s sake?

Controversy continues on council selection process

April 18th, 2017 by Ken

Controversy concerning the selection process of the Lacey City Council’s replacement for Jeff Gadman continues to echo through city hall and around the community

Brady Olson, a candidate for the appointment has sent this letter to the Lacey City Council with copies to all of the eight candidates which interview for the seat.

Live Streaming of the Interviews:

Candidates that interviewed later in the process had access to the questions before their assigned time.  For example Candidate A gave an interview at 5:30 and all other candidates that were to report later had access via phone, tablet, friend texting etc. to all the questions prior to their interview.  The later your interview the more advantage gained because of increased time to prepare.

Voting Process:

It appeared candidates were nominated in no particular order and some council members nominated multiple candidates.  Some confusion followed as Mayor Ryder asked for clarification and City Attorney gave clarification.  Mayor Ryder stated that voting would go in order of nominations.  Q: Were all council members aware that order of nomination was a factor?  Q: Since order of nomination was a clear factor as later nominations did not even get a chance to be voted upon; was there a process to determine the order of Council Member nominations.  For example 4 people had been nominated by two members before any other members even had a chance to speak or nominate a candidate.  When the voting took place all members voted as many times as they wanted.  Having multiple candidates nominated meant that order of nomination was extremely important.  According Roberts Rule “When more than one candidate is nominated the problem with a voice vote is that those nominated first are more likely to get elected.”

I believe strongly in fairness and equity and the process on April 17, 2017 was not fair or equitable.  I ask that for future appointments to the Council, consideration to the above issues be remedied.  Fairness and access for all should be paramount in any democratic process.

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Controversy continues on council selection process

Controversy marks council appointment

April 17th, 2017 by Ken

Controversy and turmoil followed last night’s vote of the Lacey City Council to select a replacement for Jeff Gadman on the Lacey City Council.

Selected was Rachel Young, young mother of three and owner of Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes.

The controversy came when one councilmember voted twice and was assured that his vote was valid under city ordinances.

Ten candidates made their case for appointment.   When all was completed the council discussed the merits of each candidate and accepted nominations.  Voting for each candidate followed in order of nomination.   Ken Balsley received three votes   A second candidate received two votes and then Young received four votes, including one from Jason Hearn who had already voted for Balsley.

Mayor Andy Ryder  ruled the vote was over and Rachel Young was selected with four votes, the others coming from Michael Steadman, Cynthia Pratt and Ryder.

Those in the audience, supporting other candidates questioned the voting procedure and the fact that one councilmember voted twice.   Ryder assured the group that council rules allowed such a vote.

Outside, after the meeting, few questioned the selection of Young, but all questioned the process the council went through to make such a decision.

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on Controversy marks council appointment

Changing neighborhoods

April 17th, 2017 by Ken

It’s changed, this neighborhood of mine.

Gone are the tall Doug Firs which used to blot out the sky.  Gone to the windstorms of November and the chainsaws of urban foresters.  In their place are the Dogwoods, the Flowering Plum, the Japanese Maple – the people friendly trees with their splashes of spring color.

Gone as well are the two bedroom homes – with their one car garage – – replaced by the needs of growing families.  Now asphalt driveways go nowhere, cars park on the street and those garages have been turned into bedrooms and family rooms.

Gone also, are those I used to know.

Gone are the blond-haired couple who lived next door with their two blond-haired children.  Gone to new neighborhoods and new houses on cul-de-sacs with concrete lightposts and names like Avonlee, Shangrila and Heaven’s Acres.

Gone too are the couple on the other side of me – – the ones who often proved that good fences do make good neighbors.

The family that used to live across the street from me is gone as well.  I saw their children grow up from tots who rode their Big Wheel on the street – to teenagers who roared up and down the road.

The man across the back fence is still there, but he has cut down the apple trees that used to hang over my side.  Now the only thing that separates my yard from his yard is the view of his camper – – covered most of the year by a blue tarp.

New neighbors have moved in however – – of two types – – young and old.   The young ones bring enthusiasm, energy and young children – – who once again fill the streets with laughter and large smiles.

The older ones bring a sense of finality – as though they’ve settled in – and aren’t leaving.  They dig up the old lawns comprised primarily of old grass and dandelions – and replace them with new grass – dark green – and smelling sweet.   They plant Rhodies and Roses and roots – – and introduce themselves – and offer to help when they see you outside working on a project that appears too much for one.

It’s changed this neighborhood of mine.  And, when I think about what has been lost, I also think about what has been added, and I think  – this is still a pretty good neighborhood – even if there is too much sky.

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Changing neighborhoods

The Big evils play the deadly poker game

April 13th, 2017 by Ken

There’s no doubt that our form of government, right here in the United States, is the best form of government ever devised – – although some Millenniums aren’t so sure anymore.   But, it is through our legislative process that the best interests of you and I – – the general public – – is served.

However, we have some evils in our country.   Actually we have five evils – and they all have the same first name.   They are – – Big Government, Big Business, Big Labor, Big Religion and Big Media.

Those five evils are in constant battle for dominance in our country.   As long as the five evils fight each other then we have a period of relative calm.  But, when one or more is in the ascendancy then our country in in trouble.

Because, those Big Five evils are constantly at war with one another.  They sometimes gang up on one or the other, and sometimes they work together, but as long as they are all on an equal footing, then this country runs relatively smooth.   But, when one or two gain dominance, then we have a problem.

During the  founding of our country and into the 20th Century it  was Big Business and Big Religion who were dominate.   Big Labor peaked in the 40’s and 50’s then rose again at the beginning of the 21st Century with its control of one of the political parties.  During the turbulent 60’s and 70’s it was Big Government and Big Media squaring off against each other.   Right now Big Media is on the decline.   Big Religion has reared its head off and on for the last 200 years, as citizens began to question the moral fiber of our country.

The Big Five evils are like players at a poker game.  One gains and loses chips as the game progresses.   One changes his method of play and rises back up, while the other players adapt to the new concept.   As one has more chips it becomes  more aggressive – until it over-reaches and loses a big pot.   The it becomes more cautious and melds into the background, waiting again for the right cards.

As citizens, as taxpayers, it’s our responsibility to see that the Big Five have an even amount of chips.   We do that through our support for one or the other by giving them more chips  Our votes are our chips.

That’s our responsibility as citizens of this Democracy to make certain that all five players stay at the table with a somewhat even amount of chips.   As long as they are locked in this deadly game of power, all’s right with this country.

Posted in Government, The Real News having Comments Off on The Big evils play the deadly poker game

Grant helps Lacey firefighters

April 11th, 2017 by Ken

The Lacey Fire District has received a $21,600 grant to purchase protective clothing that fire fighters must wear when they enter a burning structure.

The grant came from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

According to Fire Chief Steve Brooks, safety equipment wears out due to age as well as damage and excessive wear.   Several pieces of safety equipment had already been pulled out of service.

“Having this gear is critical and essential for us to deliver fire fighting services,” Brooks said.  “This generous grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation helps us meet our Mission of Service With Excellence.”

Posted in The Real News having Comments Off on Grant helps Lacey firefighters

A dozen file for open Lacey Council seat

April 10th, 2017 by Ken

An even dozen applicants have filed to be appointed to the Lacey City Council seat left vacant by the resignation of Jeff Gadman.

Open seats traditionally pull many aspirants who find an appointment an easier way of getting an elective office than in running against an incumbent.  However, whoever gets the nod will have to run for the two year unexpired term in November.

Here are a list of those seeking the appointment listed by order of when they filed their application of interest with the city.

Robert Motzer, Brady Olson, Kevin Hochhalter, Ken Balsley, Rachel Young, Carolyn Cox, Carolyn St. Claire, Richard Bokofsky, Mary Morgan, Sean Smith, Steve Prestin and Rick Nelson.

This large number of interested parties isn’t unusual. When the last city council vacancy occurred in 2011, ten applicants applied.

Members of the city council plan to interview all of the candidates in open session on April 17.

Full application packets of each candidate are available at city hall.

Posted in Local Politics, The Real News having Comments Off on A dozen file for open Lacey Council seat