Commissioner should postpone making a decision on new county courthouse

January 21st, 2019 by Ken

I agree with Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby. Thurston County Commissioners should postpone making a decision on the location of a new courthouse. But not for the reasons Selby wants them to wait.

The Olympia mayor said it may cost the City of Olympia up to $32 million dollars to locate a new county courthouse in downtown Olympia on its stated location on Plum Street, the former location of the old Olympia City Hall. The city doesn’t have that kind of money in its budget, the mayor said.

I don’t think the courthouse should go into downtown Olympia. Not because it will cost the city money, but because I don’t think the taxpayers of Thurston County should fund this downtown Olympia re-development project. Pumping millions of dollars into the downtown area will be counter-productive to residents of Lacey, Tumwater and the unincorporated areas of Thurston County.

As much as people seem to think this is one big community, the exact opposite is true. Lacey and Tumwater compete with Olympia on business and commercial development. Helping fund a downtown Olympia courthouse is to the detriment of those two cities – – and all of the other small towns in Thurston County.

Instead, county commissioners should pick the third option – – redevelop the current property of the existing courthouse complex on the Westside of Olympia.The cost will be a little more and it will take a little more time, but it is the best option the commissioners are considering.

There is nothing wrong with that site. Many legal firms doing business with the county are located in the vicinity and people know where the courthouse is located. The buildings just need to be renovated. It is the best option and commissioners should take Mayor Selby’s advice – – and postpone making a decision until the public has had an opportunity to comment.

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After delay, Train Depot is on the way

January 15th, 2019 by Ken

After more that a year of delay, the Lacey City Council has finally approved going out for bid for a new  Train Depot replica on Pacific Avenue.  The depot will echo the original train depot which served the city beginning in the 1890’s.  The depot was demolished sometime in mid-20th Century and the railroad tracks vacated in the 1970’s.

In a recent Council work session the vote was 5-1 in favor of moving ahead with the project.  Only Councilmember Lenny Greenstein voted in opposition questioning its nearly $900,000 price tag.  Councilmember Jason Hearn was absent.

Several years  before the City of Lacey’s 50th Birthday Celebration in 2016, the city was looking for a project that would reflect the city’s history.

A new museum for Lacey was the main subject of conversation and the decision was made to begin the process.  A planning team was gathered and the final determination was to build a replica of the Lacey Train Depot which would house the museum..   The depot connected Lacey to the world and helped give Lacey a sense of community.

The city manager and the mayor were on board and planning began for the building and its interior.   Funding would be a major issue, but plans were proposed to start a fund-raising campaign.   The kickoff for the fund raiser could be a “Mayor’s Gala”.  The event would be part of the city’s 50th birthday celebration.  Money raised at the event would begin the drive to get the money and get the project started.

Then the city spent nearly a million dollars to buy the old carpet warehouse on Lacey Blvd as the site of a new city museum and community center.  Finally, money raised at the Mayor’s Gala was decided to fund operation of the new Lacey Veteran Service Hub, a major priority for the city.

A museum within the Train Deport was determined to be non-workable and was placed down the list of priorities.  When the estimated cost of the project came out significantly higher than thought, the city took a look at how to lower the cost..

One suggestion was to build only the exterior of the building.

Since its location is on the Woodland Trail, the building is now considered a “trail amenity”.  It will contain only two bathrooms for walkers on the trail. The remainder of the scaled-down building will be left empty.

The city is going out to bid in a few weeks.   If the bids come back at a price the city can afford, then construction will hopefully start this summer.  Maybe the Lacey Train Depot replica can be dedicated on December 5, the 53rd birthday of the city.

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Dialogue 16 – Religion

January 9th, 2019 by Ken

 “Do you believe in God,” she asked.

“What brought that on,” he replied.  “You’ve always believed in God.  You’ve always had a religious streak?”

“I’m having second thoughts,” she said.  “I can’t believe a god would allow innocent children to be killed by some deranged shooter.   It just doesn’t make sense.”

“And, you want me to re-affirm your belief in god,” he asked.  “You know I don’t believe in a supreme being of any type.  That’s just something you’ll have to work out yourself.  If you have enough faith, you’ll eventually come around.”

“But, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” she asked.

“Mankind has been wrestling with that question since he first decided that spirits and gods existed.  Religious scholars will tell you that God gave every human – free will – the ability to do what they want.   Innocent people are often the victims of free will

“Ancient people  used to believe that the spirits, or god, was upset with something they’d done and he was punishing them.  So, they’d sacrifice an animal or even a human being to please god.

“Now, all god asks when bad things happen to good people, is to have a stronger belief and continue to follow his teachings.”

“That doesn’t help,” she said.  “I still don’t understand why people do bad things and other people suffer for it.”

“You could always do what I do,” he said.  ” Believe there’s no such thing as a god or a supreme being, and people will always do what’s in their own best interest.   That way, God won’t disappoint you and test your faith.”

“So, it’s just a test by God?” she asked.

“Maybe so, who am I to make that determination,” he said.  “After all, God gave you free will.  You decide.” 

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$30 car tabs once again on the ballot

January 7th, 2019 by Ken

There was a time in this state, when drivers had to pay as much as half a month’s salary just to register their car or truck to drive on state and local roads. When the monthly salary was around $500, some people were paying as much as $300 just to register their car and get their car tabs

State legislators were blind to the impact those car tabs had on a working family’s income and continued to increase the license fees every year to fund road and highway construction,.

Then, a watch salesman from King County decided – enough was enough – and embarked on an initiative campaign to reduce the price of car tabs to a reasonable amount – $30. Thus began the career of Tim Eyman, who tapped into voter dissatisfaction with the amount of money government was spending.

In 1999, voter’s approved I-695 which set the price of car tabs at $30. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that measure invalid, but the legislature bowing to the public’s demand and wanting to get re-elected, approved $30 car tabs.

Over the next few years, the price started creeping upwards, as the legislature just couldn’t keep its hand off that easy money. So, in 2002 Eyman tried again – and again the voters approved $30 car tabs. And, again, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled against the measure on the grounds that income from the tabs was already pledged by King County to support bonds sold for Sound Transit.

Eyman tried twice more in 2016 and 2017 to get a $30 car tab initiative before the voters but failed to get enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. But, this year he was successful. A measure to lower car tabs to $30 will once again be before the voters when all of the signatures are counted and validated.

To make certain the courts won’t rule against the measure, Eyman has stipulated in the initiative that tab income already pledged to sell bonds, will continue.

Voters will be able to lock in $30 car tabs in most areas of the state, unless the Washington State Supreme Court once again finds that the state needs the money more than the taxpayers.

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Dialogue 15 – Lies

January 4th, 2019 by Ken

Dialogue 15 – Lies

“I feel pretty bad,” she said.   “I told a lie to my best friend today.”

“What did you say,” he asked?

“I told her that I liked her new hair-do.  But I really didn’t think it looked good on her at all.  I told a lie.”

“So, what’s wrong with that?” he asked.  “We tell lies all the time.  We tell white lies to people we like because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.  We tell lies to other people to protect ourselves.  For humans, lying  is as natural as breathing.”

“But, is it OK to lie?  Are there such things as good lies?”

“There are all types of lies,” he said.  “But I have come up with what I call – the good lie.”

“Enlighten me my little liar,” she said.

“A good lie has to have an element of truth to it.  It has to be believable.  We won’t tell someone we just flew to the moon, because no one would believe it.  But, if we said we just saw a flying saucer, many would believe it.

“Then, to protect ourselves from those who might question our lie, we need to be able to remember it.   That’s how law enforcement finds the guilty.  Those who tell lies, have a hard time remembering what they said.  So, if you’re going to tell a lie, make sure you can remember it.

“And finally,” he said, “make sure its deniable. You have to be able to look someone in the eye and say –  I never said that.”

“Thanks for clearing that up for me,” she said.  “Do you want to go to the movies today.  They’ve got a great new romantic comedy playing.”

“No thanks,” he said.  “I’ve got too much work to do.  But thanks for asking.”

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Consolidation of three cities just an Olympia pipe dream

December 30th, 2018 by Ken

Our favorite local newspaper – “The Olympian” – in case you didn’t know what it was, has once again come out for consolidation of the three cities. Its reason this time – – homelessness.

The newspaper contends that Olympia’s homeless problem is a regional problem, and needs to be addressed by the three cities and the county. The paper decries the lack of support for the issue from the cities of Lacey and Tumwater. It contends that if those cities become part of Olympia’s city government, there will be more money and more support for a regional approach to the homeless problem.

The paper also points to unusual and strange city borders and boundaries as a reason to join the three cities together. It has no historical context for the jagged and non-ordinary lines which separate the three cities. It fails to understand the growth of the three cities and how each has established its own identity.

The paper also points out that we pay for three city managers, three police chiefs and even several fire chiefs. It thinks that consolidation would be a cost savings. Of course, such is not the case. We would still keep the same police chiefs and the same fire chiefs and the same staff – only – we would have to hire someone to supervise those positions. It would cost more money from that end.

I’ve worked more than 45 years to help give Lacey a sense of community identification. It is now the largest urban area in Thurston County. Some 27 percent of its population have some connection to the military. It has become a place for people to live and work. Despite itself, the North Thurston Public Schools is a major factor in Lacey’s sense of community. Lacey’s identification is now set.

Tumwater has a long historical reason for its independence from the City of Olympia. There’s nothing joining Olympia will do to bring anything positive to the residents of Americans First Community north of the Columbia River.

The homeless situation in Olympia, is not the fault of the city. External forces have created the problem. But, the city’s inability to make the hard choices necessary to alleviate the worse of the situation, has made homelessness a major problem instead of just a nuisance. Am I calling homeless a nuisance? No – but it could be, if Olympia officials made the tough choices.

There is no reason for consolidation. “The Olympian” sees that the City of Olympia is unable to handle the situation on its own and is grasping at straws (hopefully paper) in its effort to make the downtown Olympia problem, a regional problem.

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Observations on the news

December 26th, 2018 by Ken

Washington Governor Jay Inslee cares about the Orcas, about the Washington Education Association (which got him elected) and about running for president of the United States. He doesn’t care about the taxpayers of Washington State, particularly the small business owner, who will see his Business and Occupation Tax double for all those service businesses which keep our community running.

While the Timberland Regional Library Board wrestles with closing under-performing branches and renewing its contract with the library chief, it has forgotten the conflict with the major cities of Thurston County. Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater branches account for a majority of the circulation and a majority of the customers and yet have very little say in how the system operates. The entire regional concept needs to be reviewed with an eye towards “equality”.

While the Seattle metropolitan area continues to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to solve the homeless problem, it has had almost no impact whatsoever. Homeless in King County has increased by four percent and shows no sign of slowing. In Thurston County, some 32 non-profit organizations deal with the homeless situation in some form or other, and yet they have made almost no dent in bringing the problem under control.

It’s time the federal government stopped making pennies. It cost the government more to make a penny, than a penny is worth. Last year the government lost $89 million making nickles and pennies. I’m NOT advocating that we do away with the penny as a medium of currency. I want us to keep the penny. I just want the government to stop making pennies. Americans have billions of pennies stashed away in jars, cans and piggy banks. Stop losing money making pennies, and these stashed pennies will soon emerge from their hiding places and back into circulation.

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Dialogue 14 – White Christmas

December 19th, 2018 by Ken

Dialogue 14 – White Christmas

“I wish it would snow,” she said.

“Why do you want it to snow?”, he questioned.  “You don’t like driving in the snow and you don’t like all of the cancellations and delays that come from snow storms.  Why do you want it to snow?”

“I want a white Christmas,” she said.  “It doesn’t really seem like Christmas if we don’t have some snow.   I just think snow makes things more Christmasy.”

“When was the last time we had snow on Christmas here?” he asked. I’ll bet it’s been a decade or more since we even saw snow anywhere around Christmas.”

“We used to have more snow,” she said.

“Yeah back in the 60’sand the 70’s,” he said.  “But Global warming has changed all that. Besides, we never really had a lot of snow at Christmas time even when we were kids.

“What we usually have at Christmas in cold rain.  December is the wettest month here in the Northwest. We get an average of about seven inches of rain.   And, it’s always cold.   In the summer we get our rain from Hawaii.  In the winter we get our rain from Alaska.  So winter rain is always cold.

“Besides”, he said.  “I like a Cold Rain Christmas.  I like the way the rain makes all the Christmas lights sparkle, particularly when you see them through the windshield of your car.  There’s just something special about Christmas in the Northwest.”

“I don’t care,”she said.  “I still want a white Christmas.”

“It’s not going to happen,” he said.   “And, if it does, are you going to drive over to your mom’s on Christmas Eve.”

“You’re going to have to,” she said.  “You know I don’t like driving in the snow.”

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The Marine Terminal, An Artifact From Olympia’s Industrial Past

December 18th, 2018 by Ken

t                           by Joe Illing

I own a small commercial property in downtown Olympia. It’s a short walk from the port peninsula’s Marine Terminal (what most of us call “the port”). Needless to say, over the years I’ve taken a keen interest in what happens there, or what doesn’t happen there. I have a point of view concerning the peninsula that’s distinctly different from those who work for, or receive funds from, the Port of Olympia.

They see the Marine Terminal as one of the big pistons that drive Thurston County’s economic engine. They shower us with facts, figures, charts and statistics in order to validate their assertion that the terminal bestows upon us a bounty of invaluable benefits. These including five-hundred and sixty-four  jobs “associated” with the terminal (that means some are essentially part-time).* They point to a $135,000 annual profit as proof of the terminal’s health … if you don’t count “depreciation”and pretend equipment and other buildings last forever, not to mention that a profit margin of a few thousandths of a percent on “business revenue” of $33,000,000 is laudatory.

All of this information, however, is essentially useless if we’re to assess the value of the terminal to the general population. It compares apples to apples and fails to ask the single most important question concerning the Marine Terminal … does it meet the needs of post-industrial Olympia?Does it add to, inhibit or subtract from the public good?

The Marine Terminal occupies a unbelievably priceless piece of geography, a peninsula that juts out into the headwaters of Budd Inlet,offering unparalleled vistas of snowcapped mountains rising from the sound. Its shoreline invites incomparable recreational opportunities. Urban amenities are within a short, easy walk. It’s truly what the old timers once called”The Pearl of the Puget Sound.”

Yet, in spite of its beauty and its unique attributes, and in spite of a century-long evolution of the community it serves, the terminal remains stuck in a 19th century mindset … and we use it for a log dump. It’s like defacing the Mona Lisa.

The Marine Terminal is a vestige of Thurston County’s industrial past. Over the ninety-five years since the Port of Olympia was formally chartered, that era has vanished. The peninsula once hosted thirty lumber mills, five shingle mills, a veneer factory, a cannery and numerous ship builders.**It was a busy, productive place with plenty of living wage jobs that generated big ripples in the local economy.

But those days are long gone. All that remains is what’s called a “weekend port”* in maritime lingo (that translates as “small potatoes”). It has a marina, a children’s museum, a tragically wrong-placed sewer treatment plant, a couple of fancy office buildings and a farmer’s market,all of which surround its once vibrant, beating heart …the “log dump.” This is a mechanized no-man’s land where monstrous machines belch diesel fumes while tossing around whole forest of logs as if they were pick-up sticks.

Is this responsible stewardship of such a singular asset? I think not. It’s long since time to consider alternatives.

To see one such alternative just drive north to Granville Island in Vancouver, BC.*** The similarities between it and our port peninsula are striking. They both share an industrial past. They both dredged their surrounding waters and expanded their land mass with its fill from 1911 through 1915. They both welcomed manufacturing industries in the early 1920s and prospered through a couple of world wars well into mid-century.

Then new economies, new methods of transportation and new ways of doing business changed old business models. And that’s when the shared destinies of these two entities diverged. In the 1970s  the Canadians decided to bid adieu to the industrial use of the island and welcomed market activities. Today Granville Island,with half the land mass of the port peninsula, is alive with activity … and prosperity. Today that island boasts 275 businesses that employ more than 2,500 people. It generates more than $215,000,000 in economic activity each year, and fills Vancouver’s tax coffers to overflowing.

The Port of Olympia’s Marine Terminal, stuck with its out of date business model, posts predictably disappointing results. If you compare our peninsula with Vancouver’s island you must inevitably conclude that the terminal is not serving its community well.

It’s time to close the books on the Marine Terminal and develop the peninsula to the benefit of the all. Surround it with marinas and other maritime uses, provide access to Budd Inlet for all citizens of Thurston County,create housing for those who want to re-urbanize and turn the unpeopled port of today into a vibrant neighborhood tha tcontributes in a meaningful way to the economic and cultural health of our community.

It’s time the Port Commissioners exercised their fiduciary responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of Thurston County and take a critical look at the peninsula and unlock its matchless potential. It’s time for them to answer this simple question … does the Marine Terminal represent the “highest and best” use of the peninsula land?

If not it’s time to begin the transformation ofthe terminal from artifact of an industrial past to an icon of a dynamic future. It can, and should, be done.

**, Margaret Riddle

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Observation on the news

December 17th, 2018 by Ken

According to the “Wall Street Journal”, Amazon received some $5 billion in enticements  for the location of its new headquarters facility.   But, it pales in comparison to what Boeing received from Seattle.  The largest amount of incentives for any business, anywhere were given to Boeing by Seattle and the State of Washington to stay in Seattle.   Boeing received $8.7 billion from state taxpayers.

While homelessness issues continue to plague the City of Olympia, those issues are beginning to creep into the City of Lacey as well.  That is a planned out effort on the part of Olympia to force adjacent cities to feel some of the pain.  over the past few years, Olympia has built or supported homeless housing and services on Martin Way – thus serving two purposes – to get the homeless out of downtown Olympia and out to Lacey.  Even “The Olympian” supports such a move and has been vocal in its efforts to make Tumwater and Lacey part of the homeless problem.


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Dialogue 12 – Snowflake

December 10th, 2018 by Ken


“What’s a Snowflake,” she asked.

“Wait, you mean you don’t know what a snowflake is, he asked?

“I know what a snowflake is,” she said.  “I’m not talking about the frozen rain that falls from the sky.  I’m talking about the common usage that’s been going around the internet.”

“Snowflake is a derogatory term being used by some people to describe the current generation of kids and young adults.  These kids have been sheltered and pampered by their parents, by their schools, and even by the government to such an extent, that they are fragile and liable to fall apart if something offends them.

“That’s why they use the term Snowflake to describe them, because a snowflake is fragile and falls apart when you touch it.”

“That seems a little out of place,” she said.  “I agree that today’s kids seem to find fault with just about everything, but isn’t that the way kids have always been?   Weren’t we that way when we were kids?” she asked.

“I don’t know about you, but I know I didn’t fall apart if someone looked at me, or if someone disagreed with me, or if I didn’t agree with something they said.  “That’s part of growing up and becoming an adult.  You need to be able to tolerate the slings and arrows that others throw your way.

“You have to learn to stand up for yourself without relying on government to help you out,” he said.

“What wrong with that,’ she said.  “People of color, poor people, disabled people, have always been looked down upon by our society.  Why shouldn’t government step in and even things out.”

“Government has it’s role,” he said.  “But, when you tend to rely on government for everything, then you place your future in the hands of a bureaucracy that can limit your freedoms as quickly as they can assure it

“Anyway, I’ve got to go now,” he said.

“Why, Where are you going?” she asked.

“I’ve got to make sure my unemployment check was deposited in my account today,” he said.


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Observations on the news

December 3rd, 2018 by Ken

The City of Olympia’s homeless response coordinator Colin DeForrest said in a recent news article that the temperatures of business owners are “ready to blow” in response to the homeless situation in downtown Olympia.  His observations are right on target.  Recently a meeting of Olympia Downtown business owners was forced to move to a new location when protesters took over the meeting facility.  The business owners moved to a new location, only to be faced with a protester who refused to leave the meeting.  Several  business owners responded and physically showed the protester to the door, in the process of which the protester suffered minor injuries.

Riots in France are over a significant increase in the gas tax for the purpose of stopping global warming.  Here in Washington State voters have twice rejected a tax which would have also significantly increased the state gas tax for a similar purpose – to reduce the impact of global warming.  Anything we do to try to reverse or stop global warming would be insignificant and extremely costly until India and China stop pumping pollution into the air.  Those two countries account for 80 percent of all pollutants released into the atmosphere.

A recent editorial in The Olympian recently took the City of Lacey to task for not having any women or minorities as finalists for the position of Lacey Police Chief.  All six of the announced finalists are white males.  I suspect that all of the finalists are well-qualified for the position, but the city has refused to release the resumes of those finalists.  Diversity is an element that needs to be taken into consideration whenever we make a hiring decision . If – and that’s a big IF – there’s a problem, then it rests with the firm hired by the city to make the first cut.  Incidentally The Olympian’s editorial board is comprised of all women.  Where’s the diversity there?


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Disparity of wealth largest problem for 21st Century

November 27th, 2018 by Ken

Disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor has always been with us since the beginning of civilization.  For various reasons, some people have more money, goods and influence than other people.

The same holds true for countries.  Some countries are richer than other countries.  Along with that richness, often comes some form of democratic institutions, although some rich countries are not democratic; China for example.

Into the 20th Century, it was assumed that we have rich countries and poor countries. Poor countries looked to rich countries for  economic and development help, which sometimes took the form of military help.

Poor countries often saw out-migration of its populace in search of a better life as a fact of life.

With the beginning of the 21st Century, the number of people seeking economic improvement in their lives has increased substantially.  That’s due to instantaneous communication and world-wide connection to the internet.

Previously, people in poor countries knew they were poor, they just didn’t have anything to compare their poverty to. Now, the disparity of wealth is no further away than the computer in their school room and in many cases to the cell phone in their hand.  They can now see just how poor they are compared to what they’re seeing.

And, they don’t like it.  The wealth of other countries and the poverty of their country just doesn’t seem fair.

So, they leave, sometimes risking their lives, for a better future in a richer country, where even the poor seem rich.

But, it isn’t only poverty.  It’s war, it’s government corruption and it’s crime. It’s dysfunctional government.   Adding to the woes is climate change which has caused droughts and storms and  placed their former subsistence living at the very end of the life scale.

It isn’t only the United States which is facing tens of thousands of refugees from Central America.  Europe is facing a similar problem.  Refugees from Africa, from drought-affected areas are looking for a better life.   More than a million survivors fleeing war in the Middle East have already settled in Germany while millions of others are pounding on the door of Greece, France and Italy demanding to be let in.

This is going to be the biggest problem facing rich countries in the 21st Century.  What to do about refugees seeking a better life.

President  Donald Trump, in his own way, has seen the future.  His solution is to build a wall and keep them all out.   Others want them all let in.  Germany is having its own problems today accommodating those million refugees.  Some want to invest money in their home countries with the goal of making life easier so the people want to stay home

Whatever the solution – or solutions –  government is going to have to make a decision on what to do.  This will be a problem for the next hundred years and will only get worse as time goes on.

Our leaders in the 21st Century will have to find an answer.

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Dialogue 13 – Luck

November 25th, 2018 by Ken

“Do you believe in luck,” she asked.

“In what context,” he said.

“Well, an acquaintance of mine just won $3.5 million playing the lottery.  He always wins.  I swear he was born with a horseshoe up his ass.  He could fall into a pile of shit and make a fortune selling fertilizer.”

“Some people seem to be lucky, but I think it’s more that they’re just opportunistic,” he said.   I think that there are three element to luck and they’re based on opportunity.”

“Tell me more wise one born under a lucky star.”

“Those who seem lucky just have an ability to see an opportunity.   That’s the first element,” he said.  “They recognize an opportunity when it comes their way.  Then, they have the flexibility to take advantage of the opportunity.  Too many people fail to take advantage because they aren’t able to get out of other commitments.

“And, then they have to act on the opportunity,” he said.  “You’d be surprised how many people just stand on the sidelines and watch opportunity run down the field.”

“How does that relate to winning the lottery,” she asked.

“I could say that you have to buy a ticket in order to win, but that would be too simplistic,” he said.  “It’s just that some people like to gamble and it’s those same people who often take chances on opportunities which come their way.”

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To buy a lottery ticket,” he said.  “I think the pot’s now over $200 million.”

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Lets clean up College Street

November 21st, 2018 by Ken

For more than a decade, the City of Lacey has had a plan to widen and improve traffic flow on College Street.   The proposal calls for widening the street, putting in bike lanes, better sidewalks, roundabouts and landscaped medians.  The plan hasn’t been implemented for two reasons – – cost and the impact on traffic flow during construction.

While the city waits, it treats College Street with benign neglect.  In the meantime, the street has become an eyesore and a garbage collection facility.

All along College Street, from Lacey Boulevard to the Yelm Highway, the property and right-away on both side of the street are littered with refuse.  Overturned grocery carts, beer bottles, black plastic bags full of garbage, liquor bottles and paper sacks from our more famous fast food chains full of someone’s leftovers, lay along the street.

The city will say that the responsibility to clean up the right-of-way falls on the property owners.  But, the city bears some responsibility as well.  It should organize a clean up effort, enlist the help of the property owners and make certain that safety is maintained in the process.

College Street is the main north/south thoroughfare in the city.  It’s a disgrace and sets a wrong example.  The city needs to clean it up.

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1961 was a good year for Lacey

November 20th, 2018 by Ken

1961 was a good year.   Baseball was still the American past time , American music was still dominated by love songs,  the young vivacious John F. Kennedy was in the White House and Vietnam wasn’t even on the horizon.

It was also a good year to own a business in Olympia.  Some 80 percent of all retail sales in the entire county emanated from a four block area of downtown Olympia where everything you would ever need could be found – – including all three major automobile dealers.

Olympia government was controlled by a three-member city commission and all three slots were filled by downtown Olympia business owners.   The Olympia chamber was also dominated by downtown Olympia business interests.   Everything was calm and peaceful and no one could see what was about to happen.

A few miles outside of the city limits, to the east, in a unincorporated area called Lacey, a handful of young men were about to shake up the entire South Sound area.

Most of them were veterans of World War 2 and some of them also served in Korea.  They settled in the Lacey area after discharge because it offered them opportunities to meet the needs of veterans without the restrictions of city codes for  housing and for the children they were having as part of the nation’s “baby boom.”

Al Thompson had built Tanglewilde and Thompson Place.   Mo Loveless had purchased the old Mt. View Golf Course and was building the largest retirement community in the Northwest called Panorama City.   Bob Blume was operating a sporting goods store located at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Sleater Kinney and selling real estate out of the back.  Not only had he been building the housing developments of Belair and Brentwood, but was purchasing land to build a regional shopping center.

The three were just the most well-known of those early Lacey businessmen.  Other young men like Lee Bensley, Gordy Schultz, Tommy Martin, Ken Wilcox, Mike Ostrander ,Al Homann, John Rupp, and Arden Deering, were making their mark on the Lacey community as well.

Many of them would gather every morning for coffee and conversation at the Flavor Nook, a drive-in restaurant on Pacific Avenue.   Most of them were members of the Olympia chamber and  the subject of starting a chamber of commerce in Lacey soon became a major topic in that year of 1961.

By September, the group had drafted by-laws and in October the Lacey Area Chamber of Commerce was formed with the motto “Where Free Enterprise Thrives.”   Elected as the first president was retired businessman Ray Kidwiller.

He served two terms as Lacey chamber president.   He later died of a heart attack at a Lacey chamber meeting after giving a talk about the need for economic development in the community.   A scholarship fund was established in his name and continues to provide monetary help to students in the Lacey area who are selecting business as their major.

Selected as the first secretary was Agnes Kenmir (who preferred the title secretary to that of chamber director).  Agnes went on to spend more than two decades leading the Lacey chamber’s management.

The new chamber didn’t cut its ties to the Olympia Chamber.  They made the president of the Olympia chamber an ex-officio member of the Lacey chamber’s board of directors.   They also organized joint chamber committees and called for a joint meeting of the two chambers once a month.   Joint meetings and joint committees were a staple of the relationship between the two chambers for nearly a decade. During a joint meeting in April 1965, the meeting of the two chambers was rocked by an earthquake.

With Christmas coming on, the Lacey chamber created a sub-committee to procure a community Christmas tree, and Bob Blume volunteered to head that committee.   In his exuberance Bob cut a very large tree and spectators recall seeing his car drive down the road with its front wheels almost off the road.

Two projects the chamber undertook almost immediately, was the need for street lights and a flooding issue in Market Square.   The chamber worked with Puget Power (as it was known then) to get the street lights along Sleater Kinney and Pacific Avenue.   The long time flooding problem in Market Square was the result of a lack of sewer systems.   The chamber contracted to build a flood control ditch that ran from the shopping center to a drainage ditch that ran along the railroad, thus alleviating some of the problems.   (Long term relief came with cityhood and a stormwater system.)

For several years the chamber operated out of rented space or donated space.  After South Sound Center opened in 1966 it even operated out a store front donated by KGY Radio.   But, always, the chamber hoped to have its own building and set up a building fund.   Donations played a role and a chamber golf tournament brought in funds on a regular basis.   In 1980 the chamber was able to purchase its own building on Pacific Avenue next to the Lacey Fire District headquarters.   (Now the site of John Paul the Second High School.) Washington Governor Dan Evans cut the ribbon and dedicated the new building.  The property was later sold to the fire district for their headquarters expansion.

Over the decades, the Lacey chamber has changed its name, changed its location and changed executive directors.   But it always had the best interests of the Lacey business community as its first goal.

It forced the US Postal Service to improve service at its Lacey branch.   It fought with the City of Lacey over its restrictive sign ordinance and eventually was able to get some relief.   It supported Lacey schools by its support of levy and bond issues and it continues to offer programs and information of value to anyone who owns or does business in Lacey.






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The dumbest thing I ever did

November 14th, 2018 by Ken

I’ve done some dumb things in my life.  Some I did out of ignorance, some out the search for adventure and some just to do it.  But, the dumbest thing I ever did encompassed all of those elements.

It was December 1966.  I was a 24-year old newly married veteran just back from nearly six years in the military.  I had made acquaintances with Dick Johnson who had served with me and had been discharged a little earlier than I.

Dick was a tinkerer and an airline mechanic.  He had been working on building an airplane in his garage and called me one day.   The plane was ready and he was bringing it from Lakewood to the Olympia airport for its maiden flight and asked me if I wanted to go along.

It never dawned on me that this was a dumb idea.  An airplane built in a garage, on its first flight ever and in the middle of winter.  Of course I answered yes.

When I got to the airport at the designated time – early in the morning, Dick pulled up in his VW bus, pulling the airplane, with its wings disassembled .  We unloaded it, put on the wings and pulled it to the runway.  After fueling we took off.  The plane performed well.  I sensed no problems at all.

We decided to fly to Friday Harbor in the San Juan’s, have lunch and fly back.  We landed safely, had lunch (I had a hamburger), refueled and got the plane back into the air.

Then, the Puget Sound winter weather hit.  Rain, sleet and clouds surrounded our little plane.  Since we were flying visual with no instruments whatsoever, we  needed to get down below the clouds.  We descended  lower and lower until we were just above the treetops.  Dick looked for a place to land the plane and found it.

An apple orchard on Vashon Island.  He brought the plane down on a little access road and pulled into an open area where several warehouses sat.  We exited the plane and went into one of the buildings.  There was no one around.  We decided to sit out the rain and the clouds hoping we could get back into the air before it got dark.  Flying with no instruments in the dark was not something Dick wanted to do.

While waiting, we began to eat apples from the dozens of boxes stored in the warehouse.  When Dick went outside to get a better view of the weather, I took a box of apples and stuck it in the back of the plane.

Dick returned and said, the cloud level was rising and if were going to make it off the ground now was the time to try.   He noticed the box of apples and told me to take it back into the warehouse.  “We don’t need the extra weight,” he said.  I did what I was told, but before leaving, I filled my old Army field jacket with as many apples as I could, maybe half a box.

Dick started the plane, turned it around, and got as long a start as he could.  He were worried about some power lines at the end of the road, but he revved up the engine, gave it all the power he could, and we took off, clearing the power lines by just a few feet.

In the air, and feeling a little more comfortable, I reached into my jacket, pulled out an apple and said, “Here, you want an apple?”  I thought Dick was going to lose his temper, but he took the apple, looked at me and said, “That’s one of the stupidest things you could have done.  What if we didn’t clear the power lines,” and then his voice trailed off.   We now had a bigger problem.

It started to get dark. It gets dark early in Western Washington in December.  We had no instrumentation and had to fly visual.  Lights were on in the houses and the towns below us.  We tried to make our way by identifying the different communities and I wasn’t sure we were going in the right direction until I saw the state capitol building all lit up.

We finally landed at the airport and there to greet us was not only our wives, but a representative of the civil air patrol just starting to call off those who had volunteered to look for a missing plane with two aboard.

It wasn’t until much later, with a little more maturity, that I realized what a dumb thing I had done and how easily events might have turned out quite differently.

I heard later that Dick had sold the plane to someone in California.  I heard it was a good plane.

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Dialogue 11 – Bucket List

November 11th, 2018 by Ken

“What do you have on your bucket list?” she asked

“What makes you think I even have a bucket list?” he replied.

“You’ve got to have a bucket list,” she said.  “You’re getting to the point in your life where you have to decide what you want to do with the days you have left.  Really, you don’t have a bucket list?”

“Look.  I’ve been everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go and more,” he said.  “I’ve written my book, sang my songs and experienced many of the good things about life.  But, I’ll admit, I do have a bucket list.”

“Well, don’t keep me in suspense any longer.  What’s on your bucket list.”

“I have three things on my bucket list,’ he said.  “The first was to grow a pony tail. I did that.  Then I wanted to learn how to whistle.  I learned enough about whistling to know I’ll never get better than I am now.  That’s it.”

“Wait, you said you have three things.  What’s the third?”

“It’ll be a while before I get it done,” he said.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I want to get a speeding ticket when I’m 90,” he said.

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Dialogue 10 – Leadership

November 5th, 2018 by Ken

“What do you think it takes to be a good leader?” she asked

“Why?” he asked.  “Are you planning to lead something.”

“They asked me to  head up the schools parent organization and I’m not sure I’m the best person for the job,” she said.

“It seems to me, the first quality of a good leader is confidence.  You don’t seem to  have much confidence in your abilities.”

“I’ve never been the leader,” she said.  “I’ve always been the worker bee.  I like doing things and helping people out, but I’ve never, really been the leader.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” he said.  “You’ve always been the leader around here.  You plan all the trips, make all the reservations and follow up on all the details.   I think that makes you a leader.”

“No, it makes me the worker bee,” she said again.  “Someone else decides what needs to be done, and I do it.   Do you think just anyone can be a leader?”

“I do,” he said.  “Do you enjoy being involved in school activities?”

“I love it,” she said.  “I think there’s nothing more important than to see that the kids get a good education and that the school has the resources to get that done.”

“Well, you’ve got the first element of a good leader – – Passion,” he said.  “I think a good leader needs to have passion and I think you have it.”

“So, should I do it”” she said.

“I think you should go for it,” he said.  “Once people see how passionate you are about helping the school, the more they’ll see you as the leader.  All you have to do is tell them what needs to be done, and they’ll do it.”

“Will you help me?”

“I don’t know if I’ll have the time,” he said.  “You probably should ask somebody else.”


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A love letter to Lacey Rotary

November 1st, 2018 by Ken

It was 1973.  I had just gone to work for a small weekly community newspaper called The Lacey Leader.  I started as a reporter, but soon worked my way up to city editor.  Promotion comes quick when there’s only two of you in the newsroom and one of them is the publisher.

While I was centered on the news, I soon learned the financial facts of running a newspaper.  Advertising pays the bills.  If you’re going to sell advertising in a small community of 6000, you have to depend on local businesses to buy.

Unfortunately Lacey was a new city with very little sense of community.  I knew that if we were to make it, we needed to create a sense of community, and then translate that sense of community into support for the community’s newspaper.

Our local undertaker Doug Twibell, stopped by the newspaper office weekly to drop off death notices.  One day he asked me if I wanted to come to Rotary with him.  I knew of Rotary and I knew that it was filled with community leaders.  I eagerly agreed to lunch.

I was right.  Many men of importance in the community  were a member of the Lacey Rotary Club.   I had to join and I did.  I thought if we could get all of the city leaders in the same organization we could begin to create a sense of community.  But, we needed as many of the leaders as we could get.  We need business owners, franchisees, bankers, clergymen, school administrators and city officials.  We needed them all in the same room on a regular basis.

As a newspaper editor (and reporter) I had access to almost everyone of them.  I began to recruit.  No one was too small or too great not to be considered.   In just a few months I had sponsored a dozen new members.  Not all of them stayed, but they had exposure to a cross-section of the community.

I continued recruiting members into the Lacey Rotary Club, several a year.  When a new business opened, I was the first through the door, sometimes before they had even opened their doors.  When a new administrator was hired in a government position, I was one of the first in their office.

Many of them wanted to become involved in the community. Some because it would help their business, others because they needed the community to support some cause.  And they joined.   The club began to grow and I began to get a reputation as a “go-getter”.

I eventually left my newspaper job but by that time, I had become invested in the community.  I continued my involvement with Lacey Rotary and continued my involvement in the Lacey community.

As the years went by I sponsored more and more members in the club.   Before I knew it, I was creeping upon a hundred members.   No one in the club seemed to care, but I did.  My 100th member was an officer with the Lacey Fire Department.  He stayed only a short time and left in six months.  But, I’ve continued to sponsor new members.

Did I accomplish my goal?  Was the Lacey Rotary Club a catalyst for the creation of the greater Lacey community?  I think so.  I can point out the creation of city parks, the support for the Lacey Boys and Girls Club.  The many social service organizations which have received funding from the Lacey club and the hundreds of students who have received scholarship money.

While those types of activities help make a community, its the table talk that went on at Rotary meetings when business, government and educational leaders share a meal and talk about their day.

Lacey is a strong stable community with a population passing 50,000.  People who live in Lacey know they live in Lacey.  There’s no doubt in their minds anymore.

And, members of the Lacey Rotary Club were instrumental in helping make a vibrant Lacey community.


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