It’s time to worry about our boys

September 7th, 2021 by Ken

For decades, I’ve been screaming about our educational system’s lack of concern for its male students.

Now comes a national report that says that men are entering higher education at the lowest levels ever, and that women make up more than 60 percent of all college students.  In some career fields, women make up 70 percent of the student body.   Men who do enter college often drop out at higher rates than women.

Over the last five years there has been a 71 percent decline in men applying for admission to colleges.

The higher educational community seems perplexed about why men are avoiding higher education and women are streaming into the ivy halls.  They throw around ideas like males are too busy playing video games to concentrate on their studies or that they have to earn money to help make ends meet.

The answers are all over the place.   But, I’ve been saying for decades.  Our primary educational system is stacked against boys.  The schools are run by women, for women, with little thought given to the needs of boys. Most of the teachers in primary education are women and the female way of learning is preferred over the needs of males.  It’s been pointed out that in our nation’s colleges, there are 500 Women Centers and not a single one for men.

I also want to point out, since the beginning of the “Me Too” movement, males in college settings have been demonized as predators.

There is a lot of other issues as to why males are dropping out of the country’s educational system.  Lack of fathers in the home.  Women teachers who can’t understand the differences in male and female thinking, and other social impacts.

The first step is for our primary educational system to recognize there’s a problem.  We need to have community conversation on how we can meet the needs of our boys.

When are we going to start?

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Lacey should take caution in expanding its parks board to non-city residents.

September 6th, 2021 by Ken

The recommendation to expand the Lacey Parks, Recreation and Cultural Commission to seven members from its current five members makes sense.

Having served on the Parks Board for the last six years and having recently left the board, I feel that seven members would be representative of the Lacey community.   Mayor Andy Ryder’s suggestion that two members come from the Urban Growth Area deserves consideration and discussion.  Much of what we do as a parks board does eventually impact areas around the city limits.

However I see two problems.  First and foremost comes taxing.  The board does recommend expenditures of money and even endorsements of public approved taxing measures.  It would be difficult for me to accept taxing proposals from non-tax paying representatives.  And secondly, affording non-city residents the same privileges as city residents mutes the idea of having to annex into the city to receive city services.

I recognize that this idea could be short-sighted, but there should be some advantage to being a resident of the City of Lacey.  Being involved in the future of the city should fall to residents.

Having said all of that – I know that in many cases we have extended city services outside the city limits.   Before the Lacey City Council makes the decision to expand the Parks Board to representation outside the city limits, I think it must have a serious discussion about the future of the city in regards to offering city services outside of its boundaries and when annexation should be required.

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Governor mandate hurts medical care in county

September 2nd, 2021 by Ken

Governor Jay Inslee’s order that all state employees and health care workers in the state get  vaccinated against Covid, will have a significant impact on health care in Thurston County.

It’s estimated that as many as 25 percent of all firefighters and EMTs in the county have not gotten their shots.  If Inslee’s mandate holds, Medic One will lose a quarter of its medical staff.

The problem is of such significance that the Thurston County Emergency Management Council has written a letter to the governor requesting that he make some changes in his vaccination mandate.  Council chair Stand Moon and Vice Chair Lenny Greenstein have signed the letter.

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Pacific Avenue fiasco

August 25th, 2021 by Ken

The City of Lacey has been searching for a “downtown” for its rapidly expanding population base.   Included in that search are finding properties that can serve in such a capacity.

But, city mothers and fathers have overlooked one major asset it has.   Pacific Avenue is a four-lane major street which runs through the heart of the city.  Apparently the decision-makers in Lacey have written this street off as a main street for a “downtown.”

Within the next couple of years, three major portions of Pacific Avenue will see new adaptations.  None of them are representative of what a downtown main street should look like.   Currently on Pacific Avenue, construction is underway for a major storage facility.  That takes up a significant portion of what could have been development with a main street feel.  Storage facilities don’t need to be on the main street.

Near the Lacey Boulevard roundabout, next to the animal hospital, construction will soon be underway for a new medical facility.  A nice addition to Lacey, but completely inappropriate for the city’s main street.

And, in the next several years, the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Sleater-Kinny will soon have a brand new 7-11.  A store that generates traffic, but could be located off the main intersection of the community. Other buildings will follow at that location including some restaurants.  But, I suspect, we’ll also have business that doesn’t have to be on the city’s main street.

City officials tell me they had no option but to approve these establishments because they meet all of the zoning criteria.

My question to our community leaders is why hasn’t the zoning along Pacific Avenue been changed to some form of major commercial establishments.

If, our city leaders can’t answer that.  Then ask them what they plan to do to make certain the Sears property adds to the value of our community and our search for a downtown.

We don’t need another fiasco like Pacific Avenue redevelopment.

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Conversation – Leadership

August 19th, 2021 by Ken

“What do you think makes a good leader,” she asked?”

“Why do you ask,” he asked?  “Are you planning to lead something”?

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

“Well, it seems to me that the first quality of leadership is confidence,” he replied.  “You don’t seem to have much confidence in your abilities”.

“I’ve never been the leader,” she answered.   “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 make plans for 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 that just anyone can be a leader?”

“I do,” he replied,  Do you enjoy being involved in our kids 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 schools have the resources to get that done.”

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

“So, should I do it?” she asked.

“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 a leader.  All you have to do is ask them to help and you’ll get things done.”

“Will you help me?”

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

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We’ve welcomed refugees before

August 17th, 2021 by Ken

We’ve seen it all before.  The mess in Afghanistan is almost an echo of South Vietnam.

We’ve also seen the distribution of refugees from Vietnam just like we will soon see the refugees from Afghanistan.  I don’t know if its been made official, but the Puget Sound area will shortly see hundreds of Afghanistan refugees living in our communities.

A flashback to the 1970’s, when Vietnamese refugees were huddled in camps all along Southeast Asia.  The federal  government was looking for place to put them.  Washington State’s Governor Dan Evans opened up the state borders and welcome thousands of Vietnamese to take up home in The Evergreen State.

Some social service agencies helped them find a place to live and provided a source of income.  So did dozens of churches and other private agencies to help them get re-settled.

On my street here in Lacey, we had two Vietnamese families on our block.  The parents, many of whom were highly educated took on menial jobs as laborers, janitors and gardeners to support their families.  Their children were going to have a better life than the parents.  And they did.

Vietnamese children entered our school systems, studied hard, supported by the labor of their parents, and the support of the community.   This second generation had college degrees and and went on to high-paying jobs and were an important part of the American mainstream.   The third generation was completely Americanized.

Now comes the Afghanistan refugees.  Soon to move into our neighborhoods and needing similar support to assimilate into American culture.

I have no doubt they will do so.

America is a country of refugees.   It has been since the beginning and it continues to be so today.

And, American citizens, some removed by only a generation or two from their immigrant grandparents, will assist these new residents in adapting and eventually becoming admired and appreciated citizens.

We’ve seen the immigrant story play out before.  We’ve seen it right here in Thurston County.  And, we’ll soon see it again.  It’s a shame that it had to come like this, but we’ve also seen that story before.

We’ll adapt and accept our new residents.  We’ve done it before.

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The government has no reason to know my race

August 16th, 2021 by Ken

The results of the 2020 Census are out, and significant changes are in the works for political redistricting and the distribution of federal funds.   The results have become more significant in recent years with the increase in federal funding to local jurisdictions – often made on the basis of need and the racial and ethnic make-up of communities.

But, in the last several years, racial ethnicity has become paramount for most political activities, as well as those of major corporations.  Racial identity seems to be the driver for most government activities now.   That has led to some unusual responses to the census form.

Census officials have found that as many as 20 percent of all respondents to the 2020 census forms have left one or more of the questions unanswered.  The ones most often left blank are the ones with the gender and race of the respondents or the people living in the household.

They appear to be baffled as to why, but I’ll give them a helping hand.  When race has become the over-riding driver of federal money, then many people see that as on the wrong track and are unwilling to provide the answer.

Mark me down as one of those.

I did the form on-line. I did not answer the race question on my form.  The first time I left the question blank, the computer refused to accept it because I had not answered all the questions.  The next time I answered the question, I left it blank again. The second time it accepted it.

I have no trouble providing information to the government, when I think its in the national interest.  I didn’t think my racial profile was in the national interest.   Not, when race has become the over-riding focus of most government actions.

And, from the national lack of response, I suspect there are many others who feel just as I do.

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Olympia council made a decision on Capitol Lake. Is it the right one?

August 13th, 2021 by Ken

The Olympia City Council should be commended for its decision on the future of Capitol Lake.

Commended, not for the decision, but for making a decision.  The issue of Capitol Lake has been in a holding pattern for nearly two decades.  All of the government agencies, from the state, cities, port and other governmental districts have refrained from making a decision.  Consequently the problem has grown worse and more expensive.

One of the reasons no one wanted to make a decision is because there is no right decision and no easy decision.  Government always puts off making a decision when there isn’t a preponderance of agreement.  In the case of what to do with Capitol Lake – every decision is a bad decision except for not making a decision.

The Olympia council chose to let Capitol Lake revert to an estuary and become a tide flat.  That was probably the correct decision 70 years ago before the Fifth Avenue dam was constructed (which everyone now agrees was a bad decision.)   But, is it the correct decision now, after several decades of commercial development north of the dam.

When that dam is removed, all of the dirt and silt collected in Capitol Lake will flow into Budd Inlet.  That will severely impact the Olympia Yacht Club, Percival Landing, and particularly the Port of Olympia.   As the silt pours out of the lake it will collect in the harbor.  Eventually, the port will not be able to function as a marine terminal, without a great deal of dredging.  I suspect that getting federal permits to dredge will be extremely difficult.

I don’t have an answer.   I’m just glad that a government agency has made a decision – even if it may be wrong.

We’ll have to see now what the Port of Olympia recommends.  Two port seats are up for election this year.  I think its very important to know where the candidates stand on this important issue.  Ask them the question.


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Conversation – Humor

August 10th, 2021 by Ken

“A dog walks into a bar. . . ”

“What are you doing,” she asked.

“Telling a joke,” he answered.

“What makes you think I want to hear a joke.  I don’t feel very funny right now.”

“Maybe a good joke will make you feel better,” he said.

“Why would I want to tell you a joke when you’re not really open to hearing a joke?” he asked.  “I think you have to want to hear a joke to really appreciate it.”

“OK, I’ll get a better attitude,” she said.  “Go ahead and tell your joke.”

“A dog walks into a bar and says to the bartender, Do you have any jobs?”  The bartender said, “Why don’t you try the circus.”  The dog says, “How many bartender jobs do they have in the circus.”

“I don’t get it,” she said.  “Why would a dog ask a bartender for a job?”

“Alright, I’m going to change the subject,” he said.  “When I die, I want my headstone to say ‘If life is a joke – – then death is it’s punch line.”

“You didn’t tell me you were sick,” she said.

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Lacey Council ducks citizen input

August 6th, 2021 by Ken

The Lacey City Council has decided not to hold any in-person public meetings for the foreseeable future, citing recent spikes in Covid infections.

I think the council leaders have become comfortable with meeting on-line without the bother of having irate  citizens protesting or criticizing their actions.  They also seem to like meeting at 4 p.m. when the public is usually at work or picking up children from school or day-care.

At least one member of the Lacey City Council likes to hold the meetings while he is on his boat enjoying the nice summer weather.

We have all had to alter our schedules because of Covid, and some of us have become comfortable with working from home and not having to deal with co-workers or bosses looking over our shoulder.  But, the Lacey City Council members are elected officials who serve the citizens of Lacey.

They should endeavor to get the council meetings back on track – in-person and back to a meeting time more conducive for public gathering.  And, they should do it soon.

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Expand port and county commissions to five members.

July 22nd, 2021 by Ken

There’s a move underway to expand the Thurston County Commission and the Port of Olympia Commission from the respective three member to five members.   The effort is being led by Olympia Port Commissioner Joe Downing who has advanced the idea for the port commission and is promoting the idea for the county commission.

Downing has talked with the county commissioners and has met with them in a public meeting.  The idea is gaining support from both the county and the port.

In my recent interview with Downing on KGY we talked about the reason for the move.  I offered my support for the proposal.

Currently, three-member commissions like the county commission and the port commission are severely impacted by the state’s Open Meetings Act which forbids conversation between elected officials when they constitute a majority.   Therefore, currently with a three-member commission, two can’t talk with each other about issues to come before them without violating the law.

This makes the port’s executive director and the county’s executive significantly powerful with the control of information between the elected officials.

This alone should be reason enough to increase the members.  But, Thurston County now has a population of around 300,000 residents.  We are not longer a “rural” county and a three-member commission is hard put to represent all of their constituents.

Moving to a five-member Port Commission and a five-member County Commission makes sense from many points.

Those opposed talk about the cost of increasing elected officials and their staff.   Downing estimated the cost for the port would be about $80,000 per year.  I roughly estimate the cost for the county commission at $500,000.

That’s a small price to pay to make our elected officials more responsive to their constituents and to improve communications between them and those who they represent.

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Proud to have served Lacey – but

July 5th, 2021 by Ken

Recently I was walking my dogs through one of the many fine parks in the City of Lacey.  I thought about how nice the park was, how many times it’s used every day, and why parks are important to a community.  I have been on the Lacey Parks, Recreational and Cultural Board (Parks Board) for six years.  My term is up and the position will soon be open for new blood.

I’m proud of our parks system, I’m proud of the parks staff which operated the parks and I’m excited and happy for the future of our parks particularly when I see the care that people have for the parks.  The City of Lacey has done a great job of providing a first-rate parks and recreational system for the community and our city council should be commended for supporting our parks, recreational and cultural needs.

However, while I was walking through the parks I noticed several signs promoting the Lacey Library and some of the projects they have selected for the coming year.  I know we have a city library board, but I’m not certain to what extent they can influence what kinds of service the library provides.   You see, the library is part of the Timberland Library System.  It operates most of the libraries in a five-county area.  All the city does is provide a building.  The Timberland Library System takes care of hiring and firing the employees.  it determines what books and digital project will be carried.  It controls the programs offered and it sets the hours of operation.  As far as I can tell, operation of the Lacey(Timberland) Library is not under the control of the City of Lacey.

That got me to thinking about other city services outside the control of the city.  Take the Virgil S. Clarkson Senior Center.  The city built the building, but all services are provided by a third party over which the city has no control

Fire services are provided by Lacey Fire District Three.  The city has no control over its services.   Medic One is also under control by a regional organization.  Garbage services are provided on a contract with a third party.  Even the costs of sewer services is only partly under the control of the city.

And from experience we can see that the City of Lacey has little or no control over the homeless population now finding a place within the confines of the city.

This is not a new problem.  Many cities and communities contract for services with regional boards and commissions.  In some ways, its a solution that saves money for the city.  But, it also takes away the power of the elected officials of the city to make decisions which impact the quality of life.

Having said all that, I am proud to live in the City of Lacey.  I have devoted years of effort in many facets to make this a community I can be proud of.  And, I am.  But, to make significant changes for the better, we need to make certain that our elected officials review all of the city’s contracts with all agencies and businesses to ascertain if there may not be a better solution which allows them to have some say.  Regional government is fine.  But it isn’t local and it isn’t under the control of your local elected officials.


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Port Commissioner candidates are a varied group with similar ideas

June 24th, 2021 by Ken

I’ve personally interviewed the three candidates running for Position 3 for Port of Olympia Commissioner – – Joel Hansen, Melissa Denton and Amy Evans.   I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with all of them.  All three are viable candidates and each could make a contribution to future operations of the county-wide organization.

All want to keep the Marine Terminal open, but support for that varies.  None of the three had any answer to the future of Capitol Lake, although the future of the lake is the future of the Port.  None sees new commuter service from the Olympia airport in the near term.

They all agreed that the port is charged with supporting economic development and could point to something the port has done in that general area.

What surprised me is that none of the three advanced any ideas of how the port could be a major player in the future. (If they did I missed it – probably because I was talking instead of listening.)

The future of the Port of Olympia could very well depend on which of the three is elected by the voters.  There’s a split on the commission between those who see the environment as the primary focus of the port and those who want to continue economic development and just what constitutes economic development.

Click on the Coffee With Ken button above and listen to the interviews.  Also, read their campaign literature, particularly that which lists their endorsements.  That should give you a better idea of whose ideas  they see as the future of the port.  Better yet –  Google – Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, click on contributions  and see for yourself who has what support.

This race is only on the August Primary ballot in Commission District 3 which is primarily West Olympia and south.  The top two will face off again in the General Election when we all get to cast our vote.



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What’s in a name?

June 21st, 2021 by Ken

There’s all kind of debate over names.  To most people, with the exception of their family, names are just an identifying symbol so we know who we are addressing.

But, for a new community names are important.  A community must have a reason for existence.  Names help give it a sense of identity.   For a city the size of Lacey and still one of the newest cities in the entire state, an identity is an important and unifying symbol.

The city’s name alone – Lacey – is a unique name for a city.   There are no other cities in the state, and as far as I can tell, in the country, named Lacey.  One of the problems with the name is that it doesn’t seem powerful.  It isn’t a name as strong as Olympia.  It doesn’t have the historical connotation as Tumwater or other similar cities  So a city like Lacey needs to find other ways of creating a sense of identity and a source of purpose.

One way to do that is through names.  That’s why what’s in a name is significant. to building a city’s history and presenting opportunities for feelings of community.

The City of Lacey is only 53 years old, but the community of Lacey goes back to the beginnings of European settlement in the Oregon country.

Lacey has several names associated with pioneers.  Chambers Prairie, Hicks Lake, Sleater-Kinney and Ruddell Road are just a few.  Even the name Lacey is associated with a lawyer and real-estate promoter.  (Historians disagree about that, but I like the idea and it has some merit.)

Lacey mothers and fathers have made certain that their elected officials are properly and appropriately recognized for their contributions.  We have several parks named after them.  Homann Park is named after the city’s first mayor Al Homann and his wife Anna.  Huntamer Park is named after Tom Huntamer, Lacey’s second mayor.  Bush Park is named after Bill Bush, to date, the city’s longest serving councilmember and mayor.  The city’s first woman mayor, Karen Fraser was recently recognized by renaming the Woodland Trail as the Karen Fraser Trail. And, the Lacey Senior Center was named after Virgil Clarkson, first black mayor and longtime councilmember.

Even non-elected officials have been recognized.  Greg Cuoio, who served as Lacey’s city manager for 20 years has been honored by having a park named after him.

While the Lacey School District (OK North Thurston)  has very few of its schools named after individuals because of an adopted policy decades ago, it has managed to recognize some of its superintendents.  There’s the John Gott administrative center, the Jim Koval performing arts center and the Raj Manhas activities center.

Naming of these facilities are an important part of connecting the community to the past.

Names are important and the Lacey community is better off for it.


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10 years ago in Lacey

June 17th, 2021 by Ken

Direct from the pages of “Ken’s Corner & The Real News from 10 years ago.)

Supporters of a Home Rule Charter for Thurston County government contend that the current county government structure is not representative of the entire county particularly the unincorporated areas.  (All three county commissioners live in the urban area.)  The current county government lacks clarity of action and does not represent the views a those who live in the rural areas.

A Home Rule Charter would have to be placed on the ballot by the county commissioners and approved by the voters.  If a Home Rule Charter was approved, then a freeholders election would be held.  Those elected representative would then draft a new charter which would have to be approved by the voters.

There have been three previous efforts to adopt a Home Rule Charter since 1979, all of which have failed.

How does this impact us today

Again the mummer is starting that the current make-up of county government is ineffective.  While there is no organized effort to change county government, its obvious that three county commissioners cannot adequately do the job necessary for a county of nearly 300,000 residents.

The commissioners recognize that they need to expand the commission, but so far no one has stepped forward to lead the effort.  The current process is cumbersome and bureaucratic.  Once the county has more than 300,000 resident the process is somewhat easier.

All we need to do, to move forward, is to generate enough population to exceed the 300,000 mark – – and find someone who is willing to lead the effort.

As far as I’m concerned, we should move forward as soon as we can.

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I’ll miss Stardust

June 16th, 2021 by Ken

It’s not too late to change your holiday plans.  If you’re like me and my family, part of the Christmas holiday season included a trip to Harlequin to enjoy Stardust – the theater’s annual musical tribute to life.  This family entertainment was a part of thousands of South Sound residents traditions.

Harlequin produced no show last year because of the pandemic.  So, we all waited to see if they would bring Stardust back this year.   The answer is No.

In its place the new managers of Harlequin are presenting A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

There’s nothing wrong with a production of A Christmas Carol.  Many local high school theater programs have produced the play and many of us, including me, enjoy the production.  But, I and my family will miss, terribly, our annual musical romp through the years.  It was always entertaining and set the holiday season for many of us.

I know the new managers didn’t want to copy the Stardust production since it was the prevue of the previous managers.  But, I had hoped, in some small way, that a musical of some kind would keep the holiday tradition going.  I’m disappointed.

I will go see this current production of A Christmas Carol and I will enjoy it.  But I’ll miss the holiday tradition my family undertook for years.Stardust

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Seasons of the Fields

June 12th, 2021 by Ken

It’s strawberry season in the great Pacific Northwest.  I’m not talking about those large tasteless California strawberries which have been in local supermarkets for weeks, I’m talking about the small, red sweet berries that only grow in the Northwest.

Strawberry season to me signals the real beginning of summer like nothing else.  When I was a kid, strawberry picking was what you did immediately upon the close of school.  So when the strawberries came ripe it was the beginning of summer.

You can read the whole flow of summer by what fruits and vegetables are on the market.

Right now it’s strawberries, but cherries have been out for a week or two and the wild mountain huckleberries are also ripe and ready for picking.

Soon the raspberries will be turning red followed in a week or two by the blackberries; the Rocky Mountain Blackberries, those small berries which grow on the vines lying close to the ground.  Of course the large Himalayans will be ready shortly as well, but they are too seedy and too difficult to prepare..

Most of the beans and peas and common variety backyard vegetable garden crops will be ready about mid-August and so will some of the local apples.  The Yellow Transparent will be ready before then, but followed soon by the Jonathon’s and the Winesaps; all of those apples which grow on the wet side of the mountains.

By September, the Eastern Washington apples will be offered in our local markets and so will the large ears of corn, super sweet and all grown right here in Thurston County.

Local cucumbers for making pickles, cabbage for making sauerkraut and squashes and gourds of all kinds come ready by September.

By the time the local corn hits the market though, summer will be over.  The fruits and vegetables which marked the flow of the summer days will have come and gone.  Their beginnings marked with anticipation, their endings by sorrow that the season is over.

They don’t stay around very long.  Strawberry season will be over in two to three weeks.  If you haven’t got your local berries by then, it’s too late.  The same is true of the raspberries, two to three weeks and that’s it.  Then they’re gone.

That’s just like all good things.  They don’t stick around very long.  But that’s the beauty of local fruits and vegetables.  We know that they’ll be back again next season, and it’s that anticipation which makes them worthwhile.

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Our inside guy

June 8th, 2021 by Ken

How do you turn a 90-day internship into a 31-year career?  A better question is why would you want to work at the same job for 31 years, particularly a government job?

If you’re Steve Kirkman the answer is simple.  “If you want to make a positive impact on your community, the best way to do it is to work in local government.”

Steve, a Timberline High School graduate had worked in several jobs, before working for the City of Lacey.  He worked for several years at the Red Bull Restaurant even while attending The Evergreen State College.  One of his programs was Management in the Public Interest which encouraged its students to  take an internship with a public agency.  Steve chose the City of Lacey his hometown.

While working for that first 90 days, he wrote and was awarded a grant to begin curbside recycling in the city.  Recognizing talent, the city offered him a job – and the rest is history – actually, I’m going to tell that history because its not well-known outside city circles.

Steve drove by Lake Lois every day on his way to work.  When he heard that a major housing development was planned around the lake, he became concerned.  At that time, the setback from the lake was only 25 feet.  He felt the entire lake would be impacted by the development.  While looking over possible grants, he came across one that was designed to protect the Gooeyduck clam beds on Puget Sound.   He reasoned that Woodland Creek ran through Lake Lois and into the bay.  Protection of the lake might qualify.  He wrote the grant and was able to help buy the property which later formed Lake Lois Park.    “It was the only grant awarded that wasn’t directly on the beach,” he said.

Over the years, he has been the writer of several grants with a total of more than $10 million.  These grants helped build the Lacey Child Care Center and the Virgil Clarkson Senior Center among others.

But, Steve’s talent isn’t just in writing grants.  In the early 90’s, when the need for computer literacy became important, on his own time and money, he trained himself in computer coding and launched the city’s first website. He produced LaceyLive, the city’s cable show which aired on TCTV.  He coordinated the city’s tree giveaway program which continues every Arbor Day.

Most recently, he has been involved in the Lacey Veteran’s Services Hub.

While working at city hall, Steve noticed that the city had rented some space to a veteran’s service group.  As more and more military members settled in Lacey, he saw the need was going to grow.  Searching around, he found a vacant building in the old Rowe Six, which had become the Lacey branch of South Sound Community College.  he convinced the city to lease the building and coordinate all veteran services.

Most recently he has overseen the renovation and remodeling of the facility to double its space from 4000 to 8000 sq. feet.  “We have 32,000 veterans in Thurston County and many of them aren’t aware of all the benefits they have coming,” Steve said.  “We’ve made it easier for them to come to one place and access the information they need.”

When you work for local government you have a direct impact on your community almost on a daily basis, he said.  “I can’t think of a better job'”

Steve will be retiring from city employment in a few weeks.  But, that doesn’t mean he’ll give up his service to the Lacey community.  When he was a student at Timberline, he was the Lion’s Club exchange student to Japan.  “I may join a service club,” he said.  “I never miss an opportunity to help my community.”


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Courthouse move faces financial questions

June 5th, 2021 by Ken

The consideration of the Thurston County Commissioners to move the administrative offices of county government to new digs on Pacific Avenue and renovate the old courthouse on the hill into a new law and justice center got my blood flowing.  I was and still am hopeful it will come to be.

But, several things are standing in the way of making the move happen.  The first and major is the cost.

The county doesn’t have the money necessary to make the move.  And, without the support of the taxpayers for a bond issue, the county commissioners won’t be able to accomplish what they need to do to make it happen.

Lets look at some costs and figures.  Before we do that – bear in mind that these are tentative and may or may not be completely accurate.

The 3000 Pacific Avenue building, called Atrium is owned by a Seattle company which owns several pieces of property around the state.  The company is currently making some improvements to the property.  I don’t know if those costs are going to be passed on to any renter – in this case the county.

Initial agreement calls for Thurston County (that’s us, the taxpayers) to make $7 million in tenant improvements.  The annual rental costs would be $2.7 million per year for seven years.  Many of our elected county officials have taken a tour of the building and their wants and desires are being addressed.  That may cost more money.  In addition, the property doesn’t have enough parking stalls.  Leasing adjacent property for parking will be another cost.

County commissioners charge each county office rent.  Currently the auditor, the assessor, the treasurer and other county offices are paying $6-$8 per sq. foot of space.  If they move to the new facility that cost could go up to as high as $27 per sq. foot.  That will mean a significant increase in each office budgets.

Then, what are the costs to renovate the abandoned courthouse into a new law and justice center – –   astronomical  probably?

The county has received some $50 million in federal funds for Covid relief.   The commissioners are considering using some of that money to assist with the move.  I suspect that the feds didn’t have that kind of use in mind when they gave taxpayer money to local governments.

Having said all that – I still favor moving county offices to the former new car lot.  It not only takes pressure off of the current courthouse property and avoids taxpayer supported redevelopment of downtown Olympia, but it moves the courthouse and the people’s  business closer to the center of the population base of Thurston County.

However, without leveling with the taxpayers about the whole cost, it will be a hard sell.   Misusing the Covid money will also be a mistake.  The commissioners need to make the case for the move and go to the voters for financial approval.

And, while they’re at it.  Get voter approval to increase the number of commissioners from three to five.  In this rapidly urbanizing county it’s needed.


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We all play our part

May 23rd, 2021 by Ken

“All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players.  They have their entrances and their exits, and each one in his time plays many parts.” (Revised)

That quote from Shakespeare sums up my thinking as I enter my eighth decade of life.

I’m not a deep thinker.  People far wiser than I have pondered the meaning of life and each one comes out with the same finding.  We all die.  Or, to keep with the stage theme, the curtain always comes down for the final time.

We play our roles – – son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father.  We are at different stages, the boss, the worker, the smart one, the dumb one.  We enter the scene, sometime with a bang and we leave the scene, sometimes with a whimper.  We enter people lives and we leave peoples lives.  Sometimes we’re the star, sometimes we’re a bit player.

When the final curtain nears and we take our curtain calls – what have we accomplished?

If we’re like some actors and actresses we leave a legacy of professionalism.  We leave a memory that brings enjoyment when others think of us.  Or, we’ve expanded the reach of what a person can accomplish.

But, most of us will be forgotten when all those who knew us also leave the stage.

Sticking with the acting theme – this quote from Robert Penn Warren, author of “All the King’s Men” sums up my view of  my life.

“Make’em cry, make’em laugh or make them think you’re God Almighty.  Or, make’em mad, even mad at you.  Just stir’em up.  It doesn’t matter how or why, and they’ll love you and come back for more.”

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