December 3, 2016

‘Reading Buddy Program’ organizes in Yelm this Tuesday

– Yelm’s first Reading Buddies program is now organizing.
To learn more, the public is invited to attend a Reading Buddy Orientation on Tuesday, December 6, 10:00-11:30 a.m. at Prestige Senior Living, 215 Killion Rd NW, Yelm (Prestige Senior Living was formerly known as Rosemont Retirement & Assisted Living).

So that enough space will be available, those planning to attend are asked to contact Sierra Abrams, Reading Buddy Program Coordinator, at the United Way of Thurston County, 360.943.2773 x124, or email

Details are also available from Sara Steinberg, Reading Buddies Leader, Yelm, or 360-458-0954.
Click here for a 5-minute YouTube about Thurston County Reading Buddies.

– About Thurston United Way’s Reading Buddy Program
“Reading Buddies helps developing young readers reach benchmark reading goals by the end of the third grade. Volunteers are paired with a first, second, or third grader who is below grade level reading, for 45 minutes a week during the school year. Trained volunteers use a variety of tools to help emerging readers learn their sight words, comprehension, identify new words, gain confidence in their reading skills, and more!

One-to-one tutoring with an emerging young reader forms a bond between students and their tutors; this is a successful strategy to help students improve their reading skills,” from United Way-Thurston.
Read more

December 3, 2016

Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable global climate changes

“Temperatures in the Arctic are currently ‘off the charts’ at about 20C above expected.”
Photo: © AP

– “Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global level”
“Scientists warn increasingly rapid melting could trigger polar ‘tipping points’ with catastrophic consequences felt as far away as the Indian Ocean”

“Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe.

The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as ‘off the charts’. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.

‘The warning signals are getting louder,’ said Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the lead authors of the report,” quoting Fiona Harvey, UK’s The Guardian.
Read more

December 2, 2016

Yelm Council approves City Hall employees union contract

* Yelm City Council approved City Hall employees union contract last Tuesday
* 11 employees affected: front desk staff, clerks, associate planners
* These jobs change from “at-will” to contract posts
* Filing Grievances and Terminations now fall under union rules
* Unionization process lasted a year and a half process because of turnover
* Key question: What conditions led to unionization?

– Union President Tami Merriman said in the Nisqually Valley News, “The union ensures as employees we have a voice. This gives us administration staff a level playing field … to make sure all employees are treated fairly and equitably.”

– What does this mean?
The union contract removes these employees from being in “at-will” positions, where they could be terminated by their superior without just cause. The staff members in the union also have a process for filing a grievance against their supervisor if warranted, without fear of being terminated.

On November 2, 2015, this Blog questioned what led to City Hall staff unionizing:
Questions require answers!
– The City of Yelm lost several high-profile and key personnel – WHY?
– Did Mayor Harding’s leaving the City Administrator job unfilled backfire? – WHY?
– A very high 70 percent of the 12 employees members signed unionization authorization cards – WHY?
– Unionizing by City Hall employees is THE most pronounced black-eye to Mayor Harding’s tenure – WHY?

Happy and satisfied employees do not unionize and the fact that the city lost key personnel followed by unionization will forever be Mayor Harding’s lasting legacy here.
This is probably now a lame-duck Mayor not likely seeking a 4th term in 2017, as he will be reigned-in on how he governs city hall.
[Editor’s Note: Harding subsequently resigned to become city administrator in a town less than half of Yelm’s size.]

– Bottom line:
As I said here last year, I repeat again today:
“This Blogger welcomes and supports Yelm’s city employees forming a union here. Fairness will now reign now for our city’s staffers.”

Further, a new City Administrator Michael Grayum is coming aboard with the skill-set to handle personnel issues properly and will bring much needed relief to city hall employees, not only in their job protection, yet in a less-stressed working environment where they feel they can go to a leader who will be “in-the-trenches” with them daily, plus provide some stability and a foundation for the future.

December 2, 2016

Christmas in the Park celebrated in Yelm Saturday

Photo credit: Yelm Chamber of Commerce

The 28th Annual Christmas in the Park Parade!
Saturday, December 3rd
The Parade starts at 9:30am.
Followed by a day of holiday cheer and family-fun activities at Yelm City Park.
The community blessing and lighting of the Christmas Tree and Water Tower will begin at 4:30pm.
Sponsored by the city of Yelm’s Parks Advisory Committee.

– Editor’s Note:
Former Mayor Ron Harding said this about Christmas in the Park, “a traditional centerpiece for the city of Yelm and those who have called this place home for many, many years.”

As I can attest, this IS true, for I was here for the very first Christmas in the Park celebration in 1989, after moving to Yelm in September 1988.

December 1, 2016

IRS directs Yelm Food Co-op separation from the Yelm Cooperative

– From the Yelm Food Co-op:
* Change is in the air!

Some changes are coming down the pike and we wanted to let you know what’s going on and how it affects you as a Co-op member and supporter.

* What’s Happening:
Earlier this year we got a notification from the IRS that we need to separate the Yelm Food Co-op from the Yelm Cooperative, which serves as the umbrella organization for both the store and the Farmers Market (yes, we know the names are very similar). While the larger organization is a federally recognized non-profit, the store clearly does not fall under that category.

* What this means for you:
The separation of the non-profit and the store means that the store will once again become a true food cooperative, with paying members as owners. This structure will be familiar to anyone who was around when the store was founded. Once members have paid $100, they will become owners.

* How You Can Help:
The “new” Co-op will need people to make it as great as we know it can be. Besides Working Members and paid staff, there will be other opportunities to contribute to the growth of the store. They’ll need committee members for membership, fundraising, outreach, marketing, finance and others, and there will be opportunities to join the Board of Directors as well. To get involved, contact the YFC at
Read more

December 1, 2016

“US Military Plans to Dump …Heavy Metals and Explosives Into the Oceans”

“US Navy forces engage in maneuver training in the Philippine Sea, November 28, 2013.
The massive amount of heavy metals and highly toxic compounds the Navy introduces into the environment
will not be cleaned up by the Navy, nor will the Navy contribute to medical tests for people whose health may suffer.”
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman/US Navy

– “US Military Plans to Dump 20,000 Tons of Heavy Metals and Explosives Into the Oceans”
“The US Navy has been conducting war-game exercises in US waters for decades, and in the process, it has left behind tons of bombs, heavy metals, missiles, sonar buoys, high explosives and depleted uranium munitions that are extremely harmful to both humans and marine life.

Truthout recently reported that the Navy has admitted to releasing chemicals into the oceans that are known to injure infants’ brains, as well as having left large amounts of depleted uranium in US coastal waters. Now, the Navy’s own documents reveal that it also plans to use 20,000 tons of heavy metals, plastics and other highly toxic compounds over the next two decades in the oceans where it conducts its war games,” by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.
Read more

Editor’s note:
Folks, this is going into the food chain.

November 30, 2016

Thurston County election results now certified

Click here for the FINAL certified Thurston County Election results.

November 30, 2016

Spamalot Final ENCORE Performance this Friday in Yelm! –

King Arthur (Dave Champagne) gets a blessing for the Holy Hand Grenade
from the archbishop (Joel Derefield), as Patsy looks on (Champagne’s son Will).
Photo credit: Bill Wyman.

Friday, December 2nd at 7:30 pm.
Regular Ticket price: $24.50, discounted tickets for Seniors, Military, and Students: $15.00
Click here to purchase your Spamalot tickets!

The Triad Theater
102 Yelm Ave. E.
Yelm, WA. 98597

– Editor’s Review:
I attended this show Friday, November 18 to packed house and was amazed at the joy and fun exhibited by the cast. The professionalism of taking SRO to the next level was noticeable in the quality of the programs and in the performance, quite a tribute to the 20+ years of community theater in Yelm provided under the direction of Nancy Hillman. This show was directed by her student, first-time Director Daniel Wyman, who was superb!

Standouts in this play were perennial favorites and accomplished thespians Dave Champagne as King Arthur and Dawn Young as Lady of the Lake. This role gave Young the ability to fully express the range of her very impressive talents! I was thrilled to see the skills of Jesse Geray put to the test in this performance, as he once-again proved himself as quite a diverse and talented actor. The highlight of this show was clearly Champagne’s son Will as Patsy, who nailed the nuances of this character. And, I am ever-so-elated to see that Kevin McManus has found his “Holy Grail” back on the Yelm stage. McManus always delights in the way he enunciates the depth of any character in utilizing his stage experience. Kellie Petersen’s proficiency was once again demonstrated in her casting of her role. Shilo Wilson is someone who shows his adeptness and I expect to see more of him on the Yelm stage. Other standouts that exhibited their talents include Kyle Burke, Alex Brown and Kalen McCrea. Joel Derefield and David Fairley added to the color. Vocal Director Ian Montgomery and Choreographer Fred Loertscher, Jr’s experience were a perfect match for this show. The entire play was well-cast by an outstanding ensemble!

November 29, 2016

Donations requested to help Tenino Police Chief Don Moody & family

Tenino Police Chief Don Moody
Photo credit: City of Tenino

Our former beloved Yelm Police officer and now Tenino Police Chief Don Mooody and his wife Shelly were notified last weekend that their adult son JJ McCann died in a Texas hospital. McCann was raised in Yelm.

Tenino business owner Chris Hallett set-up a fund named “Help Don and Shelly Moody” to underwrite expenses to bring their son home for burial. Donate here:
Contributions also accepted for the couple at any branch of the Washington State Employees Credit Union.

Our thoughts and prayers go to Chief Mooney, his wife Shelly and their family.

November 29, 2016

Councilor Joe DePinto: Interim Mayor Foster “bullying” on his budget vote –
Fellow councilor derides DePinto, unaware they were being recorded

Yelm Councilor Joe DePinto
Photo credit: City of Yelm

* Councilor DePinto only “nay” vote on city’s 2017 budget adoption.
* Interim Mayor Foster asked DePinto about his vote after the vote.
* DePinto declined to explain his vote – Foster pressed anyway.
* That is against city protocols using Robert’s Rules of Order.
* Not appropriate for Mayor to criticize a vote by councilors after the vote.
* DePinto: “I find this bullying by you, Mayor.”
* DePinto stated on-the-record previously transparency lacking in this budget.
* DePinto: “No” vote was in no way reflective of city staff’s efforts.
* DePinto: “No vote didn’t do enough for public safety.” Police got no new officers.
* Not enough time for councilors and public to understand budget.
* Interim Mayor Foster queried council on budget process transparency.
* Foster’s response to have done so was defensive.
* In football, that is called “piling on.”

While the November 22nd City Council session budget approval vote overwhelmingly passed with only one “nay” vote, what was out-of-line was the way Interim Mayor Foster handled the fact the budget was not unanimously approved. Foster pressed DePinto to explain the reason for his nay vote, DePinto declined. Later, DePinto expressed to Foster that asking a councilor for the reason for their vote after the discussion and the council’s vote was inappropriate, according to the city’s protocols in using Robert’s Rules of Order.

DePinto, with six-years experience working in the State Legislature is thoroughly versed in procedures and protocols, was very pointed in saying to Foster, “I find this bullying by you, Mayor.” DePinto specifically responded to Foster about the separation of power between the Legislative (council) and Executive (mayor) branches and that Foster was out-of-line in questioning DePinto’s vote.

Foster’s tone towards DePinto vote was at first, condescending. Foster’s response to query each councilor about the budget process being transparent missed DePinto’s point and was defensive. DePinto was crystal clear with his displeasure at the way an additional police officer was handled in the budget. On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, the Yelm City Council voted to authorize an additional police officer, as reported in the Nisqually Valley News. DePinto’s surprise was in discovering there were no new police officers allocated in the 2017 budget. When DePinto researched, he was told the August vote for an officer was via an amendment to the 2016 budget. So, the City of Yelm will receive “zero” new officers in the 2017 budget. That lack of transparency is what disturbed DePinto.

In football, Foster querying other councilors to compare them to Depinto’s vote is called “piling on.”

What was recorded after adjournment was appalling! The video ended, then a skip is noted and starts with Councilor Wood turning-in his documents to the city clerk. Most of the councilors had left the room and Interim Mayor Foster approaches Councilor Littlefield, where she says to him, “You are such a bully. I am going to wear orange to the next meeting. Did you know that is a stop-bullying color?” Fosters responds: “Is it, orange?” Littlefield says, “They have this orange day where everybody wears orange. I never do. I’m like, no, I support the bullies.”

That Interim Mayor Foster did not cut-off Littlefield whether he knew they were on-camera or not, indicates he is complicit with her views. That is a very unprofessional stand for a city’s leader to be taking certain councilor’s sides and is a breeding-ground for mistrust. Their opinions should be shared in-private or not at all, and certainly not in council chambers!
Click here to view, begin the video at 47:10.
Click here for the actual segment (Note: this is a Windows media file).