February 29, 2016

Community discussion on Uber and ride-sharing, Mar. 9

Driver display of Lyft and Uber stickers in downtown LA.
Photo credit: Richard Vogel, AP, Jan. 12, 2016.

– “Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm unite to regulate Uber, other ride-hailing services”
“Lacey City Council members receive update about a proposed ordinance”
“Area-wide meeting scheduled March 9”
“Four-city area trying to take uniform approach to rules”

“Why is a Lacey official talking about a meeting in Olympia? Because Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Yelm are trying to take a uniform approach to regulating the ride-hailing companies — and Olympia has agreed to host the meeting, said Steve Kirkman, who works in Lacey’s public affairs department.”

“The community meeting is set for 6 p.m. March 9 at Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave. E.,” by Rolf Boone, The Olympian.
Read more

February 28, 2016

A REVIEW: Yelm community talent brilliantly showcased –
Triad Arts Theater hosts SRO’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Photo courtesy: The Triad Arts Theater


– Community Theater performances in Yelm, Weekends Feb 26th-Mar 13th:
Standing Room Only is back with Oscar Wilde’s classic “The Importance of Being Earnest”!
In this hilarious comedy, pandemonium ensues when a duplicitous duo of wealthy playboys find themselves together, both masquerading as the same person, with each wooing a different woman. All amid a flurry of mistaken identity, witty banter and cucumber sandwiches!”
The Importance of Being Earnest” was one of Wilde’s more famous works, first being performed 121 years ago this month (February 14, 1895) in London.

I attended this play in Yelm Saturday evening, February 27th, the 2nd public performance,
delighted by the welcome from play-writer Oscar Wilde performed by SRO veteran Jesse Geray, on-stage with a new, artistic set design. He also had the role of Rev. Canon Chasuble, both parts admirably performed by Geray. I am always amazed at how SRO’s Director Nancy Tribush Hillman, Producer Dave Champagne, Technical Director Dawn Young and their team turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse with their small stage spaces and props utilization. The costumes adorned by the cast and house staff serving the public were very noticeable in their splendor and colorful designs. And the program quality has improved immensely.

– The Yelm Performance:
This play had nine characters (two of them being twins played here by the same cast member) and the script was very dialogue-heavy and labor-intensive for 2 of the cast, Kevin McManus and Daniel Wyman. This show marks McManus’s return to the stage after a five year hiatus, and afterwards, I welcomed him back and congratulated his spectacular performance, especially of note were the subtleties and nuances of his British accent, facial expressions, stances, and his own piano-playing by his character, Algernon. McManus is well-know from his past performances spanning more than a decade at Yelm’s Drew Harvey Theater and Olympia’s Harlequin Productions and Capital Playhouse. He is so comfortable on-stage, that even in this challenging role, his manner seemed so at ease adding to this outstanding performance. I am always eager to attend shows with McManus, to be pleasantly surprised at what this fine actor brings to the depth of his characters. I am so glad that Kevin has returned to the Yelm stage and in such a terrific role to highlight the breadth and scope of his talents! I hope we see him again soon.

The other difficult role was that of character Jack Worthing, played by the consummate thespian Daniel Wyman. I continue to be impressed with the challenges Daniel is willing to take-on to expand himself on-stage. He was easily able to create a distinct presence alongside a very strong McManus and brought a continuity to every scene in which he performed. Daniel has always proven himself up to the task of presenting solid performances alongside the commanding Champagne, and now McManus. BRAVO, Daniel!

Of course Producer Dave Champagne, also had a role that stretched him as well, playing the character of Lady Bracknell, a woman and an ultraconservative British aristocrat. This play has had a long tradition of male actors playing Lady Bracknell and Champagne did not disappoint. His first time playing a woman, his accent and intonations were superb and one could not help but note he had to reign-in his belting voice for this role. Listening to and watching Champagne’s skills in capturing this character had me comparing him to Nathan Lane’s performance in The Bird Cage, which I shared with his mother who was in-audience – yes, he was that good!

With such on-stage expertise, I was particularly observing Victoria Austin and Cori Adell Olson, who had unique parts requiring that they arise to the level of McManus, Wyman and Champagne. While this was my first time seeing their acting, I was duly impressed with their command of their characters and in adding to all of the powerhouse performances. They were terrific! Rounding-out the rest of the cast was an SRO first-time performer Yvette O’Keefe, who seemed very comfortable in adding a stage performance to her behind-the-scenes work at The Triad Theater. I look forward to seeing more of her on-stage work. Nathan Hizey played the two twin servant characters superbly. And last, I’d like to recognize Stage Manager Guy Simpson III, who had his hands filled with three scenes, two intermissions, and various complicated set changes.


“​I am so proud of the collaborative work and creation in this production, it is the beginnings of something truly Great!” quoting Technical Director Dawn ​​Young.

– Community theater at it’s best, starring our friends and neighbors:
Victoria Austin, Dave Champagne, Jesse Geray, Nathan Hizey, Kevin McManus, Yvette O’Keefe, Cori Adell Olson, & Daniel Wyman.

The Triad Theater in Yelm
102 SE Yelm Ave
Yelm, WA 98597
(360) 458-3140
Click here to see showtimes and purchase tickets.
Get ’em before they’re gone!
Tickets also available for purchase in advance at the Yelm Food Co-op.

February 27, 2016

Thurston County Homeless Census results

– From the 2016 Happy Faces: Count and Connect Campaign.
“Together with your support we were able to organize and facilitate a successful census and connect with our neighbors in need.

It’s hard to use the term ‘success’ when discussing anything related to homelessness and the individuals and families who face it every day, but we’re hard pressed to find a better word to describe the tremendous efforts on the part of so many, the fundraising goals we reached, and the overall feel of the Census event. Most importantly, it was a “successful step” toward change–eventual systemic change, yes, but change also in the hearts and minds of community members. I cannot tell you how many conversations we had with those who came away profoundly impacted. As one of our photographers put it, ‘this was an eye-opening and life-changing experience.’ And we call THAT an important success.

We’d like to share some highlights from the census:

-The campaign reached its goal of $10,000 in both in-kind and cash contributions, thanks to generous donations from individuals and businesses in the community (see the complete list of sponsor businesses at www.icountthurston.org) We’d call this a BIG SUCCESS!

-Approximately 140 people volunteered their time, both in pre-census and day-of work. That is a significant volunteer presence by any standard, and we would simply not be able to carry out this event without their hard work and open hearts. THANK YOU!

-Those volunteers collected hundreds of census forms, with a superb signature rate. Signatures allow us to officially consider the data from those forms and report it to funding and regulatory agencies.

-We stuffed and gave out over 500 goody bags! Recipient response was tremendous!

-For the first-ever Door Prize Giveaway, the I Count Thurston team was able to give out approximately 40 “warming kits”/duffle bags/blankets, and $200 worth of grocery store gift cards and food baskets to homeless families with children.

-Volunteer hair stylists donated over 70 haircuts to those in-need at the Warming Center, at First Christian Church downtown.

-We gave out over 260 Old School pizza slice coupons, numerous boxes of new and gently used clothing from the staff at the Department of Health, and hundreds of cups of fresh-brewed, high-quality coffee with half-and-half at the Census Jam thanks to the hard work of our unofficial “Coffee Team” of donors and volunteers. The coffee station offered a good place for connection and interaction, and people LOVED the pizza and clothing.

What’s next?
All of the collected Census data will be sent to the State Department of Commerce by February 22nd. Over the next several months, ACR Business Consulting (the lead agency in I Count Thurston) will continue to work on the County’s 10 year strategic plan for improving the County’s homeless and affordable housing systems. Stay connected through I Count Thurston’s Facebook page! And look for a public draft of this plan later this year.

We also hope you will consider being a part of next year’s Census, and we will reach out as the months draw near. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Rodriguez at aaron@acrbc.com. Check out some of our favorite Census photos (Photo Credit: Poppi Photography and Cortney Kelley Photography).
Read more

February 26, 2016

Yelm now has an online video cam – at the city’s water reservoir site

Water reservoir, Tahoma Blvd., behind Yelm High School,
Photo courtesy: RH2, taken Feb. 26, 2016


– “Water System Improvements Project Construction Camera”
“This live view of the construction site is updated automatically every 10 minutes,” quoting RH2.
Click here

About RH2
“Comprised of engineers, planners, and scientists, we serve our public agency and private clients by providing high-quality, tailored services ranging from project conceptualization to construction management and administration.

We’re committed to producing innovative, cost effective, environmentally sensitive and regulatory consistent solutions.”
Read more

February 26, 2016

With Wal-Mart sneezing, will Yelm catch a cold?
Wal-Mart’s declining sales & taxes revenues of note

With Yelm City Hall now so dependent on reading Wal-Mart’s tea-leaves for the city’s sales and tax revenues, with Wal-Mart now sneezing, will Yelm catch a cold?

– Wal-Mart’s lackluster results cause “lingering worries about the Economy”
“WALL STREET: A three-day rally ran out of steam on Wall Street as oil prices shed recent gains and Wal-Mart, the first major retailer to report results, had disappointing sales,” quoting Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer, February 18, 2016.
Read more

– “Hope Dims for Wal-Mart’s Effort to Ignite Growth”
“In cutting sales forecast, retailer cites recently announced store closures, stronger U.S. dollar”

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday [Feb. 18, 2016] cut a sales forecast made four months ago, surprising investors again and dimming hopes that heavy spending on upgrading its stores, e-commerce operations and wages will bring quick growth,” quoting Sarah Nassauer and Chelsey Dulaney, Wall Street Journal.
Read more

– From last month: “Walmart is closing 269 stores and laying off thousands of employees.”
“The move will affect more than 16,000 employees, including 10,000 in the US.

The closings include 154 locations in the US — 102 of which are the company’s smallest stores, called Walmart Express, which have been in pilot since 2011,” quoting Hayley Peterson, Business Insider.
Read more

February 25, 2016

Introducing the landmark documentary: Minimalism, coming May 26

From Gather Films
“Imagine a life with less: less stuff, less clutter, less stress, less debt, less time, more meaningful relationships, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. A life of passion that is unencumbered by the trappings of the chaotic world around you.
What you’re imagining is an intentional life. Not a perfect life—not an easy life—but a simple life. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, a feature-length documentary from the popular simple living duo The Minimalists, examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life.
From minimalist architects, designers, and musicians, to businessmen, authors, and minimalist families, this film explores various recipes for how to live a more meaningful, deliberate life. Not a perfect life—not an easy life—but a simple one.”

A Documentary About the Important Things
In Lakewood
Lakewood Stadium 15 & Rpx
2410 South 84th Street
Lakewood, WA
Thu, May 26, 2016
AT 07:30 pm
Click here to reserve your tickets for this screening now.

February 24, 2016

Guest Entry: Yael Klein speaks-out on Yelm Post Office issues

Yael Klein

– Yelm postal service – A Critique
For awhile now, I have felt so frustrated with the service I received when walking into the Yelm Post Office to have counter service, but I had always cast-away my frustrations, telling myself that I am only one person and so it will not matter.

But lately, things got worse that I could not ignore this situation any longer. Here are some incidents I experienced:
* An incident – A month ago I was expecting mail with medicine enclosed. It was mailed to me as Next Day Delivery, and Insured. After a week of driving to the post office for my package to no avail, I connected with the sender to request the delivery number and took that to the post office. The package was there all that time laying on the shelf without any yellow slip in my mailbox to notify me. Mind you that I had two other packages delivered and picked-up during that week, yet no one bothered to see that this envelope also belonged to my p.o. box.

* Another incident – since I do not have a street mailbox near my house (due to vandalism), I had been advised by one of the clerks at the Yelm Post Office to ensure I added my p.o. box number next to my physical address for items I ordered for delivery to me, so the mail deliverer will see the box number and place a yellow note in my box to pick-up. Well, most times that worked well, but lately, a few packages have been returned to the sender marked “undeliverable.”

* Another incident – Each time I went to the post office, about five times a week, I stood in long lines. Recently, there were ten people in line, and as of late, only one clerk servicing us customers. I only needed to pick up a package, so I was hoping that another one of the clerks would show up to help with customers picking up packages only. While I stood in line, I watched the clerk repeatedly tell the person in front of him that he is out of change. Finally he stepped away to the office on the left with few dollars in his hand and came back to continue his service. A few minutes later, a tall guy shows up from that side office asking him what he wanted from those few dollars that he now held in his hands. The clerk said that he is completely out of change. The tall guy walks away, while noticing the long line. He paused and then asked for those of us with yellow slips to come to him. Four of us jumped right in. I was second in line. The lady ahead of me did not have her slip, but had some sort of an issue to ask him in regard to a package. So he dealt with her for few minutes, then collected our three yellow slipped and disappeared.

We waited and waited and waited, then saw him in the distance waiting near the safe box to get the change he needed for the clerk. After collecting the change he disappeared. Then we saw him returning, our yellow slips still held in his hand plus some rolls of change, along with a few more white envelopes. After dropping the change, he left again and after being away for a length of time, finally shows up with our packages. Looking at the line I left for the sake of getting quick service for package pick-ups, I saw that by the time I received my package, I would have already been served by the clerk had I stayed in the original line. I walked away from the place with such a terrible feeling. I felt like a second class citizen; that I was a nuisance to those employees, who made me feel as if they were doing me a big service by being there, semi-servicing customers. I knew right then that I had to do something, for if I will not speak up, no one would hear. It did not matter if they will change or not, what mattered was that I step up to create change in the way my life ought to be. My philosophy is that if I care about my lifestyle, and I do, I must be active in it. Just like the political elections that we are faced with right now. If we do not vote, we do not create change. Period!

I got home and started my Internet research on how to place a complaint against a postal service.
I went thru a loop of several phone calls to finalize the route needed and share that with the public, just in case you face the same frustration as I did and decided to do something to improve our community’s lifestyle, here in our growing town.

* Here are the steps to take in case you want to file a Postal Service complaint-
Call customer affairs @ 253-214-1800

Once they answer, you will have a choice to complain over the phone or they can send you a form to file.
If you place the complaint over the phone (which I did), they will write it all up and give you a complaint case number.
Then they will let you know that the Manager of the Yelm Post Office will call you within 72 hrs. I first wondered why needed to talk to the man who was responsible for this whole mess to begin with. But they told me that perhaps he was not aware of what was happening out there, so that should be the first step after filing with them.
His name is Ken (360) 458-2374 (I did not get his last name). Once you connect with him, he will listen to your complaint, write it up, and if he feel there is something more that can be done, he will advise you on it.

The day that I spoke to him, I had to go there again, and this time there were three clerks attending the long line! THANK YOU KEN!!!
So, it DOES matter if we do something to improve our life here in our growing town…

Well, at least this is a beginning.
I went there again to send a package and the place was empty. I waited there for someone to show up. Here came a clerk, accompanied by the manager Ken, who was so concerned that clerks would be on the front counter when there was a long lines of customers. However, not this time when the counter became busy. The manager and clerks were talking among themselves that Ken would like for a clerk to clock-out for lunch, since the place looked empty. This was in front of customers waiting in line. Within five minutes, we were already six in line and I was still not served….
and the clerk was now supposed to clock-out for lunch, while another clerk, an old-timer there, peeks in, but certainly avoided looking at the growing line on the other side of the counter, yet paid full attention to the clerk who was about to go to lunch, and asked if she got her car keys and her glasses, and accompanied her to the exit door. The manager Ken is still there yet with customers in a growing line, the three of them disappeared. I decided to leave and took my package to the McKenna Post Office where there were hardly any customers, yet their clerk greeted me with a smile. This was so refreshing in contrast to this long-forgotten act of goodness from the Yelm Post Office. Within two minutes, I was done and happily driving back home.

So, I still have my p.o.box in Yelm, but I now have most of my packages directed to a separate p.o. box at the McKenna Postal Office. I decided for now to use McKenna because of their better and quicker service, as the little extra drive time is worth it. I hope one day the Yelm Post Office will get it together, for this service is so needed in a growing community such as ours.

Yael Klein

Klein is the wife of Blogger Steve Klein.

February 23, 2016

Yelm Mayor Harding recognized by Thurston Republicans at their Lincoln Dinner

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant,
Yelm Mayor Ron Harding looking on.
February 12, 2016, Olympia

– “Birds of a feather flock together?” Yelm’s Mayor acknowledged by Thurston Republicans
Yelm Mayor Ron Harding was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Thurston County Republicans First Vice-Chair Whitney Littlefield. Littlefield is the daughter of Harding-appointee and the former Yelm Councilor Jen Littlefield, who was defeated in 2015’s election by Tad Stillwell. The Thurston County Republicans Lincoln Dinner occurred on the 207th anniversary of the birth of this nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, February 12th.
“Birds of a feather flock together?” Harding was the Deputy County Auditor appointee by the then-interim Republican Auditor.
Read more from Nisqually Valley News affiliate in Centralia, The Chronicle, on the Lewis County Lincoln Day Dinner.

Editor’s Note:
Interesting that Mayor Harding, age 49, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Thurston County Republicans, as these types of award are usually presented to those retiring after a full career or someone leaving their position. Though current County Commission candidate and former Republican Sheriff Gary Edwards resides in the Yelm area and Legislator JT Wilcox calls Yelm his home while residing in rural Roy, Ron Harding was not publicly known for any work with the Republican Party, yet he was on their dais receiving their award! Interesting.

Harding also is not near or at retirement, so is one to ascertain he is leaving public service on or before the 2017 election for his mayoral seat?

Also interesting was the presenter, Thurston County Republicans First Vice-Chair Whitney Littlefield, daughter of Harding’s interim Council Appointee Jen Littlefield, who certifiably lost re-election to Yelm’s council Position 4 to Tad Stillwell.

Even though the Yelm newspaper did not raise this issue, this Blogger then questioned Littlefield’s daughter Whitney answering questions on her then-Yelm Council candidate mother’s behalf at the Yelm Chamber candidates Forum last Fall. I wrote then:
Additionally, while Councilor Littlefield could not attend the candidates forum being a school teacher, she sent her daughter to answer for her. While Ms. Littlfield was an excellent respondent and stand-in for her mother and I told her so, this was inappropriate to have her on the dais, especially that she injected her own views into some of her responses. What would have been best is for the moderator to have read Jen Littlefield’s own pre-printed responses. Having a stand-in was a fauz pas.
Read more

Is Mayor Ron Harding wrapping-up his political career?
THAT is the question one comes away with from this award!

February 23, 2016

Yelm: The Triad Arts Theater hosts SRO’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” –

Photo courtesy: The Triad Arts Theater

From The Triad Arts Theater:

Weekends Feb 26th-Mar 13th – THEATRICAL PRODUCTION IN YELM –
Standing Room Only is back with Oscar Wilde’s classic “The Importance of Being Earnest”. In this hilarious comedy, pandemonium ensues when a duplicitous duo of wealthy playboys find themselves together, both masquerading as the same person, with each wooing a different woman. All amid a flurry of mistaken identity, witty banter and cucumber sandwiches!

Community theater at it’s best, starring community favorites:
Victoria Austin, Dave Champagne, Jesse Geray, Nathan Hizey, Kevin McManus, Yvette O’Keefe, Cori Adell Olson, Zacchaeus Vines & Daniel Wyman.

The Triad Theater in Yelm
102 SE Yelm Ave
Yelm, WA 98597
(360) 458-3140
Click here to see showtimes and purchase tickets.
Get ’em before they’re gone!
Tickets also available for purchase in advance at the Yelm Food Co-op.

Wow, even Nisqually Valley News Publisher/Editor Michael Wagar “got into the act” and reported on this upcoming show. This IS a notable progression of events to have his report on an SRO play!
Read more

February 22, 2016

‘Harding’s Folly’ –
Yelm Council to vote Community Center rental rates tomorrow

Drawing courtesy: City of Yelm

“Harding’s Folly” Community Center rental rates set to be approved tomorrow.

– Tuesday’s council session will discuss Community Center public usage rental rates.
With rental rates set at $100 an hour to rent the entire hall, which holds 200-250 people with tables and chairs or $50 an hour to rent half the hall for 100-125 seated persons, plus additional charges for early opening/late closing, kitchen rental, city staff assistance and A-V equipment rental (which does NOT include rental of tables/chairs), why would anyone use this facility for a meeting or function, other than during Prairie Days, Christmas in the Park or a sporting event?

– With glass walls providing no privacy, isn’t this more suited as a basketball court?
There is no “warmth” to this facility for those that might wish to rent the space. At night, the glass walls and doors provide no privacy. And to decorate to add warmth for a welcoming event held there, one must be willing to pay exorbitant fees. The glass walls/doors are also not energy efficient in our winters, adding city borne expenses in having heat running constantly in the building. Additionally, there is no storage space in the facility, so tables/chairs must be additionally obtained by the renter.

And while the Community Center has a commercial kitchen with a window opening up into the inner hall and one opening to the outside park in front of a playgorund, why did the city need to go to the expense of commercial kitchen appliances, which will be rarely used?

– The Yelm Prairie Hotel has a Conference Center more suited as a Community Center for meetings, weddings and other functions.
Their Conference Center can easily seat 100, which is where the Yelm Chamber of Commerce has their monthly luncheon Forums there and not likely to move those to the Yelm Community Center. With A-V equipment, a side space for buffet service, carpeted floors, and window coverings, this is a far more inviting venue.

– Mayor Harding does not “get it” – his constituents want no new taxes!
Yelm was the lone ballot loss in Thurston County for support of the local Schools bond – area property owners said no more new taxes for construction bonds, vetoed now twice by the voters. Additionally, City of Yelm voters twice rejected construction bonds for this Community Center, yet Mr. Harding went around the voters to get grant funding to build a slimmed-down version anyway. The voters now have to fund maintenance and operation of that building.

– Mr. Harding shortsightedly shrunk the Center size to avoid LEED certification.
Mr. Harding decided to make the Community Center design under 5,000 square feet so the building would not have to meet grant requirements to incorporate the expenses of LEED-certification (“Green” building design standards). Yet isn’t that short-sighted, as the return in LEED-certified energy savings would more than offset the LEED construction expenses in a short period of time, as Olympia Federal Savings did with their Yelm building, garnering much attention and praise?

The funds would have better spent on Public Safety staffing in the Police Department.


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