December 31, 2016

Yelm Police Dept. recipient of 2017 Nisqually Indian Tribe Charitable Funds

– “Nisqually Tribe to give $841K in funding”
“More than 100 area agencies and organizations will receive $841,000 in funding from the 2017 Nisqually Indian Tribe Charitable and Local Government Program.

The recipients range from area government agencies, such as the City of Yelm Police Department and Lacey Fire District, to charitable organizations, such as the Emergency Food Network and Thurston County Food Bank, to educational facilities, such as the Hands On Children’s Museum.

‘The Nisqually Tribe is fully committed to building success in many facets of our community life,’ said Farron McCloud, Tribal chairman. ‘We are committed to working with our government partners in the counties and state to move forward together.'” quoting the Business Examiner.
Read more

December 31, 2016

Treaties prove potent as Northwest Tribes oppose Fossil Fuel Initiatives

– “How Northwest Tribes Joined Forces to Beat Fossil Fuel Initiatives”
“Their victories have been inspiring to members of the Standing Rock Sioux in the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.”

“Treaties, according to the U.S. Constitution, are the supreme law of the land, and do not expire. Many agreements between the federal government and tribal nations affirm a tribe’s right to hunt and fish on its ancestral land beyond current reservation boundaries. But projects like those proposed by Westway would degrade salmon and other cultural foods habitat, said Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which represents four Columbia River Treaty fishing tribes. Oil spills and coal train derailments are just some of the environmental threats that could infringe the tribes’ treaty-protected rights to hunt and fish their lands.

These treaties have proven to be a potent legal mechanism in environmental protection in the Pacific Northwest, already racking up victories based on industry violations of generations-old government-to-government agreements,” by Terri Hansen, YES! Magazine.
Read more

December 30, 2016

This New Year’s Eve, don’t drive drunk –
Call Bill’s Towing Free “Tipsy-Tow” Service or Kelly Kab

Photo credit: Bill’s Towing & Recovery

Two excellent options to avoid getting behind the wheel drunk:

– Bill’s Towing & Recovery Tipsy Tow Service
Bill’s Towing & Recovery is offering Tipsy Tow service on New Years to provide a safe alternative to drinking and driving on Yelm area roads.

The service will be available in the greater Yelm, Rainier, and McKenna area from 9:00 p.m. on New Years Eve, December 31st to 3:00 a.m. New Years Day, January 1st.

Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver can call 360-458-5963 between the hours above and request a free tow home of up to ten miles. Callers simply tell the dispatcher, “I need a tipsy tow,” to receive the free tow and ride home.

Callers need to keep in mind that the service excludes rides for passengers, is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver, and the destination is limited to the drivers residence. Reservations are not accepted, and tows over ten miles are subject to normal rates.

Drinking drivers frequently fail to seek and obtain alternative ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle, the expense of taxis and the inconvenience of alternative transportation. Tipsy Tow is intended to give motorists a safer option for getting themselves and their vehicles home, instead of driving while intoxicated,” quoting Bill’s Towing & Recovery.
Read more

– Kelly Kab Taxi Service for the Yelm, Rainier, Clearwood, Roy.

Photo credit: Kelly Kab

– Kelly Kab is an excellent option, then return to pick-up your vehicle the next day.
Call them at (360) 791-1925.
Read more

Blogger Klein is a Bill’s Towing & Recovery customer.

December 29, 2016

New Commissioners sworn-in, now form an all “Independent” Commission –
Wolf, Romero, Fraser honored for decades public service

“Newly elected Thurston County Commissioners John Hutchings, left, and Gary Edwards
will join incumbent Bud Blake, center, to form a commission of independent members.”
Photo credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian

* What’s your definition of politically Independent?
* After yesterday’s swearing-in, County Commission now with all Independents.
* Edwards & Hutchings got 53.65% and 51.79% of the vote, respectively.
* They also now must represent the interests of the other 47+% of voters.
* Will they embrace cross-party ideals, even though they were Republicans?
* I look forward to the 3 Commissioners performing as true Independents.

* “Local political giants” retiring, women who gave in public service for decades.
* Democrats Karen Fraser, Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe leave a mark of leadership.
* All three women of distinction leave outstanding legacies.
* The Yelm Community Blog thanks these women for their commitment to the public.

This blogger views dovetail with these 3 well-written stories in The Olympian.

– “What does it mean to have an independent Thurston County Commission?”
Retired Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards and former Tenino Police Chief John Hutchings [were] sworn into office Dec. 28 to replace retiring Democratic commissioners Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe. After that, all three members of the Board of County Commissioners will be elected officials who have labeled themselves political independents.

Hutchings and Edwards will join Bud Blake, who was elected two years ago, ousting former Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. Blake’s election brought an end to an all-female, all-Democratic streak on the commission.”

“‘We’ve gone from a pretty liberal county commission to what really is a pretty conservative county commission,’ said former Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who was elected five times as Thurston County auditor. ‘Part of what happened here was a reaction to thinking they’ve gone a little too far in particular in terms of land use items, and it’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way.'”

“But Thurston County Democrats chairwoman Katie Nelson said she doesn’t believe Edwards, Hutchings or Blake are truly ‘independents.’ She said their campaigns were largely funded by people and organizations that support Republican candidates.

‘I believe they intentionally misled the voters of this county,’ Nelson said. ‘… They are not independents. They are Republicans by every measure,'” by Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian.
Read more

– “The Fraser, Wolfe and Romero era is ending”
From The Olympian Editorial Board
True public service takes commitment. Love of a community. Endurance. A willingness to work with others. And a keen understanding of the public interest.

Three women who made that commitment over decades, who were local political giants, are retiring. The departures of Democrats Karen Fraser, Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe end a distinct era of leadership in Thurston County. All three chose not to seek re-election; all leave good legacies.

County Commissioners Romero and Wolfe step into retirement today as their successors — GOP-leaning independents Gary Edwards and John Hutchings — are sworn in.

Fraser, a 24-year state senator, leaves her post in January when Rep. Sam Hunt is sworn in to replace her.”

“But Romero and Wolfe held the line against erosion of other worthy environmental protections. Their successors are clearly less knowledgeable of, or committed to, environmental safeguards, which bears watching in the coming year.

Wolfe and Romero also brought needed focus to South Sound’s naturally fractured response to the mental health and homelessness problems that afflict so many individuals and cities.”

“But all three leaders were part of a surge of women in Washington politics during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wolfe served as a member of House Democratic leadership before leaving for the county commission in 2000. Romero served on the Olympia City Council before going to the state House for 12 years and later following Wolfe to the county.

During the Fraser, Wolfe and Romero era, Washington ranked among the top states for women in a legislature.”
Read more

– An excellent summary of the outstanding public service career of retiring Sen. Karen Fraser
“After internship that lasted 50 years, retiring Karen Fraser leaves long legacy of service”

“Exactly 50 years since the internship drew her away from sociology and into government, Fraser is saying goodbye to a long tenure in the Legislature and leaving behind a lifetime of accomplishments in Thurston County. She retires from the Senate in January after 24 years in the office,” by Walker Orenstein, The Olympian.
Read more

December 29, 2016

Record cold air to kick-off New Year week in Yelm – Be Prepared!


– Yelm temperatures next week are brutally cold
Highs around freezing, lows in the mid-teens to 20’s, colder in outlying areas.
Read more

– Editor’s Note:
Take precautions when driving on black ice, protect your animals, and be prepared for frigid conditions to last all week.

– “January’s Cold Reality Sets in Next Week”
“A pattern change will arrive just in time for the first week of the new year.
Much colder temperatures are ahead for the West and Plains states.
Colder air will also arrive in the recently-warm South and East later next week.
As January arrives, a pattern change will bring a reality check by ushering in much colder temperatures for a large swath of the United States.
A southward diversion of the polar jet stream will allow arctic air to flow southward out of Canada into much of the Lower 48 states by later next week.
By Brian Donegan,
Read more

December 28, 2016

Yelm Community Blog’s TOP stories of 2016 – by month

– January
* Three newly elected City Councilors (Molly Carmody, Tad Stillwell, Joe DePinto) were seated together for the first time. All elected on platforms of open government, transparency, public safety.
Read more

* Billy Frank Jr. Community Services Center dedicated by Nisqually Tribe.
Read more

* Then-Mayor Ron Harding sets tone at Thurston County Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Community address.
Demeaning remark about Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby and Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero.
Read more

* Yelm’s First Finishers won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, home remodeling/design leading platform.
Read more

* Another Big Box-type store opens in Yelm: TN-based Tractor Supply Co. takes over Dell’s site.
Read more

* JZK, Inc. wins against Virginia Coverdale on all grounds except one, JZK awarded atty fees.
Read more

* Virginia Coverdale announces she is out of funds, drops lawsuits against JZ Knight & JZK, Inc.
Walks away with over $800,000 in court imposed attorney’s fees, court costs, and interest.
Read more

– February
* Then-Yelm Mayor Harding recognized by Thurston Republicans at their Lincoln Dinner.
Very unusual Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Harding at age 49 by Littlefield’s daughter.
Harding was not publicly known to be prominent in Republican circles.
Read more

* Two Phoenix Rising School students win UW’s 2016 Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contest.
Read more

* Yelm military family lost their riverside home to Mother Nature.
Read more

* Yelm Councilor Joe DePinto challenges lack of Public Safety staffing – calls for more police.
Read more

* Yelm Schools Levy passes, Bond fails – what this all means.
Read more

– March
* Yelm Community Blog celebrated 10th anniversary of community service.
Read more

* Yelm Democrats Caucus one for the record books – Sanders sweeps Washington State, Yelm feels ‘The Bern’!
Read more

* Yelm Business Assn. (YBA) only organization responding to city’s Comprehensive Plan updates.
Read more

* Yelm Dollars for Scholars announced $125,000 raised.
Read more

* WA Supreme Court denies Yelm/Ecology reconsideration in Sara Foster’s water case.
Read more

– April
*National Geographic chooses Yelm Award-Winning Rory Sagner’s photo in contest.
Read more

* Yelm Schools Superintendent Andy Wolf resigns – accepts job at WA. Assn. of School Administrators.
Read more

* Yelm Community Center dedicated – YBA suggests naming for former Mayor Kathy Wolf.
Yelm Skatepark opens.
Read more

* Yelm Farmers Market introduces new Manager Suzanne Santos.
Read more

– May
More city staff bailing-out: Yelm Public Works Director Ryan Johnson leaves for Bonney Lake.
Read more

* Yelm Farmers Market opens for season.
Read more

* Yelm High Principal Brian Wharton named next Schools Superintendent amid acclaim for continuity.
Read more

* Yelm Officer Don Moody accepts Tenino Chief position.
Moody’s departure highlights Yelm’s lack of depth – too few officers stretched too thin.
Read more

* Ice Chips Grannies named 2016 SBA WA Encore Entrepreneurs of the Year.
Read more

* Harding’s hand-picked City Admin. candidate Chatwin withdraws suddenly amidst many questions.
Read more

* Yelm Chamber’s Exec. Dir. Wortberg focuses on Economic Development, then suddenly resigns.
Read more

– June
Yelm Subway and Mariachi Allegre restaurants move locations leaving major Yelm Ave. vacancies.
Read more

* Commissioner Romero gives cogent explanation on County’s Gopher Screening Process.
Read more

* More city staffers give notice to leave their posts – Comm. Dev’s. Carlson, Clerk Schlempf.
June 5th marked 1 year since City Admin. vacancy announced, still not filled.
Read more

– July
* Yelm area welcomes Paddle to Nisqually guests last weekend of July 28 thru Aug. 6.
Read more

* Yelm Mayor Ron Harding resigned, accepted City Administrator post in Aumsville, OR.
City staff breath a sigh of relief.
Read more

* Uber officially launched in Yelm, Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Thurston County.
Read more

* Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge named for Billy Frank, Jr.
Read more

* Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE) hosts almost 1,000 in Yelm from around the world.
Read more

* Wind Farm proposed for Yelm, Rainier rural areas.
Read more

* Yelm HS FFA chapter chosen as finalist to compete for FFA’s 2016 Model of Excellence award.
Read more

* County Sheriff Snaza sustains ‘life threatening’ injuries off duty – Yelm community pitches in to help.
Read more

* With Harding out, Yelm Police Dept. finally allowed to debut a Facebook page.
Read more

* Yelm Councilor JW Foster sworn-in as Interim Yelm Mayor.
“The Old Guard” was buttressed in his naming E. J. Curry in “a place holder position.”
Read more

* Yelm ‘cooling centers’ opened due to record heat.
Read more

– September
* After 13 months without a full-time City Administrator, 3 City Admin. candidates withdrew after painstaking process.
Read more

* All 7 Thurston County water systems test positive for Chromium-6 (The “Erin Brockovich’ Chemical), found in Yelm.
Read more

* JZ Knight, Ramtha’s School host over 1,000 students on Yelm campus from around the world.
Read more

* Yelm Business Assn. (YBA) submits unique Food Truck proposal to Council.
Read more

* Yelm Councilor Bob Isom suddenly resigned after serving 16 years, followed Harding out the door.
Read more

* Yelm Cemetery turns a new leaf – issues of the past are over!
The public invited to visit and see the changes!
Read more

* Coverdale loses on all counts – Washington Supreme Court Denies Coverdale Petition for Review.
JZK, Inc. vs. Coverdale case finally concludes.
Read more

* Yelm Business Assn. (YBA) sponsors 2nd Yelm Art Show with The Triad Theater.
Read more

* Award-winning Yelm Photographer Rory Sagner’s work again published in NatGeo.
Read more

– October
* NVN does not endorse candidates, instead uses ‘hit pieces’ on local donors to Democratic candidates. Demonstrated the NVN’s true intent supporting long-time Republicans turned “Independents.”
Read more

* Yelm FFA Named Model of Excellence Winner.
Read more

* Historic Democratic Candidates Forum held in Yelm for the public.
Read more

* America’s Shake-out Earthquake Drill Oct. 20 included Yelm –
Chief Todd Stancil encouraged the Yelm community to participate.
Read more

* Interim Mayor Foster sides with “The Old Guard” – Littlefield gets chosen again as Interim Councilor for Isom’s seat.
Read more

* Illegal Robocalls about Democratic candidates by Republican protagonist Glen Morgan, led to 2 lawsuits.
Read more

– November
* Councilor Joe DePinto: Interim Mayor Foster “bullying” on his budget vote –
Littlefield derides DePinto to Mayor Foster, unaware she was being publicly recorded.
Read more

* Los Angeles Times covered Thurston’s Bountiful Byway, Yelm mentioned.
Read more

* Yelm City Administrator post filled – Michael Grayum, former Mayor of Dupont, an outstanding choice.
Read more

* SRO’s “Spamalot” presentaiton achieved new heights in Yelm community theater.
Read more

* Thurston United Way’s Reading Buddy Program came to Yelm.
Read more

* 6 Yelm area businesses were KING-5 TV’s Best of Western Washington finalists!
Yelm Community Blog wa one of them.
Read more

* Yelm Community Schools takes public comments on 5-year Strategic Plan.
Read more

* Pastor Adams reported to IRS for violating church’s tax-exempt status.
Read more

* Clean sweep on county commission by Republicans who ran as “Independents.”
Read more

* Crowe Law ribbon cutting on their purchase/renovation of Yelm’s Masonic Lodge.
Read more

* Nisqually Tribe Veterans Ceremony and Memorial Dedication.
Read more

* Yelm’s Oly Fed Branch Garners LEED Gold Certification.
Read more

* Yelm’s first city-led Town Hall in over a dozen years on marijuana dispensaries, food trucks.
Read more

– December
* Swearing-in ceremony of newly elected officials set for December 28th.
Read more

* Councilor Carmody sets the record straight – NVN abridged key points & sequence of her letter.
Read more

* Yelm Business Assn. posted impressive list of 2016 accomplishments.
Read more

* Troubling signs from local newspaper editor/publisher.
Read more

* Thurston County Sheriff Snaza announced his return to post.
Read more

* Yelm Police Dept. acknowledged by JBLM Emergency Services.
Read more

* Rainier’s Sprouffske Trees open for the season, their 50th year!
Read more

* IRS directs Yelm Food Co-op separation from the Yelm Cooperative.
Read more

* Yelm Council approved City Hall employees union contract.
Read more

* Retiring County Commissioner honored for her public service.
Read more

December 27, 2016

Swearing-in ceremony of newly elected officials Wednesday –

Courtesy: Thurston County Auditor’s Office

From the Office of Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall:
“Newly elected officials will be sworn into office by Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall at South Puget Sound Community College on Wednesday, December 28. Sheriff John Snaza will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance, and Congressman Denny Heck will deliver the keynote address. The public is invited to attend this free ceremony.
The elected officials to be sworn in include the state senator (district 22), state representatives (district 22), superior court judges (positions 1 and 7), county commissioners (districts 1 and 2), and Public Utility District commissioner (district 2).

Swearing-in Ceremony of [Newly] Elected Officials in Thurston County

Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts
South Puget Sound Community College
2011 Mottman Road SW
Olympia, WA 98512

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
2:00 p.m. [ends approx. 4p.m.]

December 26, 2016

Holiday recycling tips & where Yelm-area residents can recycle your tree

– “Holiday recycling tips: Don’t throw away your packaging”
“Americans generate roughly 1,000 pounds of waste per household during the holidays, which is about 25% more than normal. At the same time, 80% of what is thrown away could be recycled.

Republic Services in Seattle recommends:

• Save your ribbons, gift bags and bows for re-gifting because they’re not recyclable.

• You can recycle wrapping paper of all kinds — glossy and glittery alike.

• Don’t forget you can avoid waste by sending holiday cards via email.

• Instead of using foam for packaging, consider shredding paper, magazines or newsprint for a personal touch.

• Save bubble wrap to reuse again — it’s tempting but don’t pop it.
By Michelle Li, KING-5 TV, Seattle.
Click here for the video of suggestions.

From Thurston County Public Works:

Free Christmas Tree Curbside and Drop-Off Locations, (Dec. 2016/Jan. 2017)
– Curbside pickup information
LeMay organics/yard waste customers: Place your tree in the organics bin (no sections longer than 3 feet). Service is free for organics/yard waste customers. Residents who have not signed up for this service may also set out their trees for collection; however, the cost is $3.79 per section in Yelm; and $5.23 per section in Rainier.
Read more

– Drop-off location for all Thurston County residents
Take trees to the Waste and Recovery Center at 2420 Hogum Bay Road NE in Lacey. through Jan. 14. Open Mon. through Fri. from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Sat. and Sun. from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (closed Jan. 1)
Read more

– Yelm residents
Yelm City Park tree dumpsters are available until Jan. 10.
Read more

– Rainier area residents
Take trees to the drop box at 13010 Rainier Acres Road through Jan. 14.
Open Fri., Sat., and Sun. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Other creative ideas –
– 10 Ways to Recycle Christmas Trees
By Care2, Shelley Stonebrook.
Read more

December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to you and yours – From the Yelm Community Blogger!

“Every Day A Miracle”
Photo Courtesy: Yelm’s award-winning Rory Sagner Photography & Fine Art
Taken in Yelm October 30, 2013, at sunrise

– Editor’s Note: My fav Christmas ads of 2016
#1. “John Lewis unveils Christmas ad starring a dog on a trampoline”
“Two-minute commercial features real and CGI animals and is a departure from emotion-laden tearjerkers of recent year”
Click here from UK’s The Guardian:

#2. * True love knows no bounds!
“This commercial from a European electronics retailer offers a powerful message.”
“The spirit of giving never seemed so inclusive.
A heartwarming new Christmas ad for the Scandinavian electronics retailer Elgiganten,” from the Huffington Post
Click here

#3. Delta Airlines touching 2016 Holiday Commercial: “Two Words”
“The joy of the holiday season starts with just two words.”
Click here

#4. “Marks and Spencer [London] 2016 Christmas Ad: Christmas with love from Mrs Claus”
Click here for this touching video.

#5. “Open your heart to everyone.”

Click here for the video from Apple.

– In the Christmas Spirit:
– The Polar Express – “I Believe” scene
This except reminds us that the true spirit of Christmas lies in each of our hearts.
Watch here

“Christmas in the Northwest – Brenda Kutz White”
“Post production opening clip taken from The Christmas in the Northwest Christmas special that aired on KOMO TV [Channel 4] in Seattle back in December of 1987 featuring Brenda Kutz White’s song “Christmas in the Northwest.”

All proceeds from the Christmas in the Northwest project go to Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington.”
Copyright © 1987 Fisher Broadcasting, Inc.
Click here for the video.

– 10,000 singing Beethoven’s – Ode an die Freude (Ode to Joy)
Worth hearing and seeing, from 2012.
Click here

– Michael W. Smith – Christmastime (Live From Portland, Oregon, On November 20, 2016)
Click here for this moving song.

– “Do You Hear What I Hear? (Home Free) (Christmas A Cappella)” 2015
“Originally written during the Cuban missile crisis [Oct. 1962], a parallel can be drawn to any time when the world needs a reminder to love not hate.”
Click here for the video.

By Oren Arnold:
“Christmas Gift Suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”


Christmas Eve dawn from our backyard

– Update:

Christmas morning dawn from our backyard

– Update:

Christmas Day at dusk from our backyard

December 24, 2016

“Santa Grants Final Wish to 5 year Old Boy”

Santa Claus actor Eric Schmitt-Matzen
Photo provided to Knoxville’s News Sentinel

– Editor’s Note:
I arrived from Europe into America’s Midwest on December 11, 2016 to this news story on all of the local channels, from the Knowville, TN. News Sentinel.

By Sam Venable, Special to the Knoxville News Sentinel:
“The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.

“I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’ ”

Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital in 15 minutes. He met the lad’s mother and several family members.

“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’

“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’

“He said, ‘Sure!’

“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.

“He said, ‘They will?’

“I said, ‘Sure!’

“He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?’

“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.
Read more of this beautiful story.

Click here for a story update from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Click here for the interview with Santa Claus actor Eric Schmitt-Matzen.

Click here for Brooke Baldwin’s CNN interview with Santa Claus actor Eric Schmitt-Matzen.


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