August 19, 2017

‘Reading Buddies’ a success at Yelm’s Ft. Stevens Elementary –
“PASS IT ON: 1 hour a week can unlock a child’s potential”!

– United Way’s Reading Buddies program a great success at Fort Stevens Elementary.
Local Leader Sara Steinberg said this to the Yelm Community Blog:
“Last year’s test results showed how much this program made a difference at Fort Stevens, but the most rewarding part was seeing the excitement in the children’s eyes when we got together every week. This fall, in addition to building the program in Yelm, we hope to introduce it in Rainier.”

“Would you like to make a difference in a child’s life in just 1 hour per week, right here in Yelm? The United Way’s Reading Buddies program is seeking volunteers to work one-on-one with kids in local schools. Training provided. Contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Thompson at 360-943-2773 ext. 121 or”
Read more

PSSST! PASS IT ON: 1 hour a week can unlock a child’s potential!
* How?

Spend that time helping them practice reading, and they’ll be more likely to graduate.

* What difference can 1 hour a week make?

A HUGE DIFFERENCE: By 3rd grade, students not reading at grade level are 4 times more likely to NOT graduate high school! That’s why Yelm is looking for caring adult volunteers to give younger students extra, one-on-one reading practice!

* Through what program?

United Way’s Reading Buddies, which has already helped 800 students in Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties.

* And now it’s come to Yelm?

Last year the program began at Yelm’s Fort Stevens Elementary School. This fall we need Reading Buddies for both Fort Stevens and Rainier schools.

* What’s involved in being a Reading Buddy?

During the school year, you spend 1 hour a week, usually working individually with 2 students.

* How can you learn more?
1) On YouTube, search for “reading buddies 2016 united way thurston” to see 2 short videos about Thurston County’s program.

2) Visit, click on “Get Involved,” then on “Reading Buddies.”

3) Attend a Reading Buddy Orientation. There’ll be several to choose from, including one on Monday afternoon, Sept. 18, in Yelm.

4) Contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Thompson at 360-943-2773 ext. 121 or

5) Chat with Reading Buddy Local Leader Sara Steinberg, 360-458-0954 or

August 18, 2017

Tips for The ‘Great American Eclipse’ this Monday, August 21, 2017 –
First U. S. coast-to-coast full eclipse since 1918

“Eclipse coverage percentage is shown.”
Photo credit: NOAA

“Man with eye damage from 1962 eclipse: Don’t make the same mistake I did”
By Meghan Holohan, TODAY, NBC News.
Read more

– A Partial Solar Eclipse with 94% occlusion will in Yelm approx. 10:20am.
From Time and
Read more

– ‘Not a good idea:’ Why you shouldn’t try driving to the eclipse Monday morning”
“Transportation officials in Oregon and Washington have a message for the region’s drivers: However bad you think traffic is going to be during next Monday’s total solar eclipse, it’s probably going to be worse than you imagine. A lot worse,” by Allison Sundell and Travis Pittman, KING-5 TV News, Seattle.
Read more

– “How to See the Best Total Solar Eclipse in a Century”
The August eclipse will be the first to go coast to coast across the U.S. since 1918, offering viewing opportunities for millions of people.
By Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic.
Read more

– “You Have Questions About the Solar Eclipse. We Have the Answers”
“Everything you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable viewing experience this Aug. 21,” by Dan Falk, Twitter, NBC News.
Read more

– “6 Ways Weather Could Change During the Great American Eclipse”
At a Glance
* Even partial eclipses have been known to change weather conditions.
* Temperatures and wind speeds often drop in the path of totality.
* Large-scale weather systems may feel slight effects.
By Jonathan Belles,
Read more

August 17, 2017

Counselor at Yelm’s Camp of the Cascades dies in hiking fall

– “St. Mary’s Academy community mourning loss of recent grads killed in cliff fall”
“The local community is mourning the loss of two young women who died on a backpacking trip when they fell off a cliff along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Friends say Emily Lang and Emma Place, both 19, were cut from the same cloth – two young women with big hearts and big plans, just starting their lives. But on Saturday [August 12, 2017] evening, hikers found their bodies below a 150 foot cliff, six miles northwest of Timberline Lodge. Investigators can only assume they fell.”

“Place spent the summer working as a counselor at Cascades Camp in Yelm, Washington. She grew up there as a camper. Assistant Director Rob Mohrweis says Place had a strong faith and a passion for service. The staff is devastated.”

“The teens graduated from St. Mary’s Academy together in 2016,” by Jamie Wilson,, Portland.
Read more

August 17, 2017

‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ patrols begin here tomorrow through Labor Day

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) leading efforts to stop drunk driving.
* “NHTSA’s ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ patrols return to Yelm area Aug. 18-Sept. 4.

– “A drunk driver nearly killed him. Now his story illustrates why we have DUI patrols.”
“Summer is the deadliest season of the year on the state’s roads, which is why law enforcement agencies around the region are beefing up their presence in the upcoming weeks.

In Thurston County, officers from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Tumwater and Yelm police departments, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Patrol will be part of a series of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” patrols between Friday and Labor Day.”

“This year, the agency is sharing the story of Jack Fletcher of Battle Ground to drive home the danger of impaired drivers. Three years ago, his vehicle was struck head-on by a truck driven by a drunk driver,” by Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian.
Read more

August 16, 2017

Family of Yelm’s hit/killed bicyclist speaks-out to honor him

Bicyclist Martin Valencia killed Aug. 13, 2017
Photo: KOMO-TV 4.

– “Family of cyclist killed by truck in Yelm: ‘Tino really saw the good in everybody'”
“The family of a Thurston County teenager who was hit and killed by a truck while riding his bicycle is now on a mission to honor one of his life-long dreams.

Martin “Tino” Valencia, 19, was on his way to the Walmart store in Yelm on Sunday afternoon when a truck hit him on the shoulder of Highway 507.

‘When I’m trying to sleep, that’s all that I think is someone killed my son,’ Valencia’s mother Theresa told KOMO News on Tuesday afternoon. ‘And it’s so hard to accept that.'”

“It breaks her heart to know her kind, caring, and intelligent boy never got the chance to live out his dream of riding down the west coast to California.

Now, her grieving family is making plans to spread his ashes along the way instead. They’ve created a YouCaring page to help raise money to make the journey happen,” by KOMO News Staff.
Read more

August 16, 2017

Yelm’s Pizzeria LaGitana featured in Thurston Talk

The patio at Yelm’s Pizzeria La Gitana is like ‘a little oasis’
according to owner Marian Licxandru. Photo: Yelm Blogger.

– “Be Our Guest: At Yelm’s Pizzeria La Gitana, Customers are Family”
“Within the last year, the Yelm location added pasta to the menu after consulting with chefs from Romania, France, Italy and New York. ‘We have a lot of friends who work in kitchens around the world and they give us recipes and tips,’ says owner Marian Licxandru. ‘We worked for six months to get everything just right.’ The menu now includes spaghetti carbonara, which Licxandru describes as ‘breakfast with spaghetti’, and spaghetti Bolognese. ‘It takes six hours to simmer and do the sauce,’ he says. ‘We make it twice a week. We started out making one batch but now we make four.'”

“For Licxandru, guests are like family. ‘Whoever comes in here, they need to leave happy,’ he says,” by Heidi Smith, Thurston Talk.
Read more

309 Yelm Ave. E.
Yelm, WA 98597
Phone: (360) 400-2929


August 15, 2017

Yelm native is United Way’s Lewis County 2017 Woman of Distinction

Angela DuPont, Lewis County United Way’s Woman of Distinction winner.
Photo credit: Matt Baid, The Chronicle [Centralia]

– “United Way’s Power of the Purse Strong in 12th Year”
“Growing: Woman of Distinction Award Goes to Angela DuPont”

“The United Way’s 12th annual Power of the Purse event, held at the Riverside Golf Club in Chehalis on Tuesday [Aug. 8], was stronger than ever this year.

“Women from all throughout Lewis County attended the event and were able to enter to win a variety of prizes — which included a wide variety of purses — with the proceeds benefitting (sic) the United Way of Lewis County.”

“The Woman of Distinction award this year went to Angela DuPont, who once worked for United Way but is now the people operations director at Pacific Mobile.”

DuPont grew up in Yelm, but has lived in the Twin Cities for the last 15 years,” by Matt Baid, The Chronicle [Centralia].
Read more

August 14, 2017

Yelm’s Economic Summit Part Two is August 15th –
City cannot grow without investments in the Public Works infrastructure –
Without assurances of water, economic development can not be supported

Story Highlights:
* City of Yelm government will conduct Part Two of the Economic Summit,
* The city wants to get business owners sharing ideas to attract new stores,
* Discussions are hoped to lead to changes that enhance Yelm’s economic development.
* While this is long overdue, how can businesses feel confident to locate here,
* Yelm’s Public Works experiences breakdowns, infrastructure not kept up with growth,
* The city needs to bite the bullet and invest in water/sewer/computer systems.
* “Without assurances of water, new development is doomed in some remote areas.”

“Tuesday, August 15th, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Yelm Community Center”

“As promised, Yelm is holding Part Two of its Economic Summit. At the first meeting, we listened to [the participants] to understand the needs of new and existing businesses. We recorded every comment, found areas of commonality, and have begun looking at ways to respond to the challenges presented.
At this second meeting, we will present our findings, and work with [those present] on prioritizing an action plan to address the needs indentified (sic).
You can find comments received at the first meeting on the City of Yelm Website at,” from the City of Yelm.

– Due to maintenance/upgrades deferments, Yelm is looking for immediate funding.
+ A $2 million low-interest loan is being pursued to fund Phase 1 @ $40,000+ annual interest.
+ The total Public Works project is estimated to cost between $11-17 million.
+ This for a city that has a $7 million annual budget.

– From the Nisqually Valley News, April 6, 2017:
“The total cost of the project has not been finalized because city staff keep finding ways to reduce costs, [Public Works Director] Bedlington said. The initial project estimate was about $28 million; this number has been reduced by $11 million to $17 million. The cost is expected to fluctuate until each phase begins.”
Read more

– From the Nisqually Valley News, July 27, 2017:
“Immediate Phase One Improvement Plan”
“Immediate Phase One has five improvements and was designed in a collaborative effort between the city of Yelm, VanBuskirk and the Washington state Department of Ecology.

The first improvement is to replace the operating system and software to allow WRF operators better control of the setpoints of the system.

The second improvement will replace the hardware components of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System, which will allow the system to operate safely, reliably and effectively.

The third will replace the pumps and pipes that are overdue for replacement due to current demand.

The fourth will include upgrading compressors for pressurization and airflow.

The fifth includes the construction of an underdrain system in the equalizing basin for efficient operations and maintenance of sludge.”
Read more

– From The Olympian Editorial Board:
“Get smarter on water before it’s gone”
“A Washington state Supreme Court decision last fall altered the realities for home water wells in rural parts of the state.

One reality is that water resources are finite and cannot be tapped forever as if supplies never run out. Another reality is that without assurances of water, new development is doomed in some remote areas.
Read more

– “Measuring Up US Infrastructure Against Other Countries”
“To address challenges of resilience and sustainability, future infrastructure systems will have to embrace cyber-physical technologies and data-driven approaches.

A smart city is a city that is efficient in providing services and managing assets using information and communication technology,” by Hiba Baroud, The Conversation.
Read more

August 13, 2017

507/Old McKenna Rd. back-ups due to collision & killed bicyclist

Photo credit: Trooper Brooke Bova‏ @wsp

– “Bicyclist hit and killled by truck in Yelm”
” A bicyclist is dead after colliding with a truck on state Route 507 Sunday.

The truck was headed westbound and hit the man near Old McKenna Road at milepost 30, Trooper Philips with The Washington State Patrol said,” by KOMO Staff.
Read more

Tweet by Trooper Brooke Bova‏ @wsp, 5:30pm
“Update: Driver left his lane for unknown reason & stuck 19 y/o male bicyclist on right shoulder. Driver not impaired. -Trp Phillips

“The bicyclist identified as Martin Valencia died at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet.

The driver of the pickup truck identified as Evan Hartkopf [age 56] was charged with negligent driving, driving with a suspended license and he had no insurance,” by Q13 News Staff.
Read more

August 13, 2017

Rep. Heck offers help for those needing to receive VA benefits, or more

– Editor’s Note:
Rep. Heck was featured in an MSNBC interview Saturday, August 12th commenting on the Charlottesville, VA situation. He provided some poignant insights and a call to action for the Trump Administration.

“Having trouble receiving your benefits from the VA?”
“Is the IRS failing to deposit your tax refund and you don’t know why?”

Part of the job of being your representative is helping when you have problems with a federal agency and, when necessary, advocate on your behalf.

Common issues include:

VA claims and health care access
Military/retiree pay and benefits
Immigration questions and status
Passport assistance
Visa delays
Missing social security payments
Difficulties with financial institutions
Delayed tax refunds
USPS delivery problems

If you are hitting a brick wall when trying to resolve these matters, give my office a call and our constituent services representatives can ensure you receive the necessary assistance and resources.
Read more from Congressman Denny Heck’s letter to his District 10 constituents, plus contact information.