August 31, 2023

Yelm Schools superintendent Chris Woods:
‘We will need to tighten our belts’

Credit: Thurston Talk

Yelm Community Schools superintendent: ‘We will need to tighten our belts’ following budget approval

Excerpt from the Nisqually Valley News:

The Yelm Community Schools Board of Directors is considering different cuts to make up for an expected deficit in revenues while it identifies ways to replenish its fund balance.

The district is expecting to receive more than $1 million less in revenue in its 2023-24 budget, which was approved unanimously at the Aug. 24 board meeting. According to budget numbers presented to the board, the district will receive approximately $1,499,089 less than 2022-23. Superintendent Chris Woods said a large reason for the funding deficit is due to a decrease in enrollment compared with pre-pandemic numbers.

In terms of average annual full-time equivalent student enrollment, the board anticipates 5,468 students in the district in 2023-24 — up from 5,468 in 2022-23 but down from 5,574 in 2019-20. The board’s estimated revenues come out at $93,802,294, while the expenditures are estimated to be $95,019,443 for the upcoming school year.

“Nothing here was necessarily a surprise,” said Superintendent Chris Woods following the budget hearing. “We will need to tighten our belts this spring in preparation for next year.”

While the board has had discussions about monitoring revenues and expenditures on a monthly basis, members have not identified a plan announcing what cuts will need to be made. The board noted that it will analyze potential cuts, such as staffing, in preparation for the 2024-25 budget and contracts. Salaries and employee benefits make up 84% of the total expenditures.

The 2023-24 budget also identifies nearly $7 million for capital projects.

August 31, 2023

Thurston County recognized as “outstanding example of commitment to making government work better.”

The Office of Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy and her staff attended the Board of County Commissioners meeting on August 29 to recognize Thurston County as an “outstanding example of commitment to making government work better.”
Credit: The JOLT staff photo via YouTube

State auditor office recognizes Thurston County as ‘outstanding example’ of ‘good stewards of funds, public trust’

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

The Office of the Washington State Auditor recognized Thurston County as an “outstanding example of commitment to making government work better.”

Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy and her staff personally attended the Board of County Commissioners meeting on August 29 to read the letter of recognition in front of the board and the county staff.

“We don’t do these stewardship awards to many entities across the State of Washington – over the course of a few years that we’ve been doing them,” said McCarthy. “You’re in a very elite group of people as a county.”

McCarthy said the Office of the State Auditor and the staff of Thurston County work hand-in-hand in ensuring that all the public employees are good stewards of funds and public trust.

The state auditor added that throughout their history of working, Thurston County staff consistently demonstrated a culture of accountability to create efficient and effective government.

August 30, 2023

Letitia James, NY AG: the former president fraudulently overvalued his assets,
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says no to punishing DA over indicting Trump!

Credit: Doug Mills, The New York Times.

Trump overstated net worth by up to $2.2 billion, New York attorney general says

Excerpt from CBS News:

Former President Donald Trump overstated his net worth by between $812 million and $2.2 billion each year between 2011 and 2021, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James claims in a filing made public Wednesday.

The allegations were raised in an Aug. 4 filing seeking a partial summary judgment in the office’s 2022 lawsuit accusing members of the Trump family and Trump Organization executives of orchestrating an extensive, fraudulent scheme related to valuations of property and Trump’s personal financial statements. 

James’ office is seeking $250 million and sanctions that would halt the company’s operations in the state and drastically impair the ability of Trump, Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr. to do business in New York.

The case is scheduled for trial in October, but James’ office is asking a judge to first rule against the Trumps in one facet of the case, certain allegations related to fraud. If granted, other claims, including allegations related to falsification of records and issuing false financial statements, would still be considered at trial.

“No trial is required for the court to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values…repeatedly in business transactions to defraud banks and insurers,” Andrew Amer, an attorney for James’ office wrote in the filing.

A summary judgment motion argues that certain material facts are not in dispute, and as a result, the judge is already in a position to make a decision based on them — avoiding the needdto raise them at trial.


+ KING-5 TV: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says no to punishing DA over indicting Trump – Georgia Republicans are coalescing around a plan to seek Fani Willis’ removal by a new state prosecutorial oversight commission that begins work on Oct. 1.

August 30, 2023

Overdose Awareness Day declared in Yelm on Aug. 31st!

Yelm City Hall. Credit: Nisqually Valley News.

Aug. 31 proclaimed Overdose Awareness Day in Yelm

Excerpt from the Nisqually Valley News:

More than 136 Americans die each day from drug overdose, according to, and the City of Yelm is taking steps to spread awareness and the threat using drugs poses.

At a Yelm City Council meeting on Aug. 22, Mayor Joe DePinto proclaimed August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day in Yelm through a mayoral proclamation. The mayor recognized the opioid and overdose crisis as both a local and national issue.

“I don’t usually go into too (much) personal stuff here when I’m doing proclamations, or anything, but I do think this is a prevalent issue affecting our community right now, not just ours, but a lot of communities across Washington state and the nation,” DePinto said. “We are doing things with our county partners to make sure people that do have overdoses, we’re helping them either through treatment or different programs.”

According to, the national overdose rate is 21.6 deaths per 100,000 residents. Amongst 15-to 24-year-olds, the average annual overdose death rate is 12.6 out of every 100,000. According to their statistics, men are more than twice as likely to die from drug overdose than women are.

“International Overdose Awareness Day is recognized globally on Aug. 31 to raise awareness about the risks of overdosing, recognize the lives that have been lost or impacted from overdosing and acknowledge the grief felt by families, friends and communities,” Mayor DePinto said as he read the proclamation. “The overdose epidemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on our Nation, claiming the lives of far too many Americans devastating families and communities across the country.”

DePinto said that every person deserves a city’s best efforts to prevent injury and death from overdose, and that it’s imperative to support overdose prevention policies and projects. He added that he wants to make sure everyone understands that overdose is a social issue and impacts the victim, their family and community.

August 29, 2023

Rare full moon phenomenon happening Wednesday!

Full moon over Mt. Rainier, see from Tacoma. Credit: The Olympian

Rare moon phenomenon not seen since 2009 happening on Wednesday above WA.

What to know

The event marks the combination of two lunar events that typically only land on the same date about once per decade.

Excerpt from The Olympian:

Many Washington state residents will have the chance to see a rare phenomenon high in the sky on Wednesday night, weather permitting — a super blue moon. Experts expect it to be the largest and brightest moon of the year.

A blue moon is when a full moon occurs for the second time within a calendar month; a sturgeon supermoon kicked off August on August 1. Meanwhile, a supermoon occurs when either a full or new moon occurs when the moon is 90% — at least 223,694 miles — or greater toward its closest approach to Earth, according to Time and Date.

The last time these two phenomena occurred at the same time was December 2009, according to Time and Date, and the next time it’ll happen will be August 2032.

Wednesday night’s super blue moon will reach its maximum size at 6:36 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday, according to However, the minimal difference between the moon’s size at sunrise and sunset means that the moon will look extra large throughout the evening.

Similar to the sturgeon supermoon earlier this month, Wednesday night’s super blue moon will appear 10 to 11% larger than the average full moon.

+ KING-5 TV: This week’s ‘blue’ supermoon will be 2023’s biggest and brightest – The last time two full supermoons appeared in the same month was in 2018. It won’t happen again until 2037.

August 29, 2023

Introducing Heart & Mind Tutoring in Rainier!

Heart & Mind Tutoring, LLC

Heart & Mind Tutoring is a family owned business in Rainer, WA.  

From Heart & Mind Tutoring, LLC:

We are energetic, insightful, resourceful, mindful teachers-mentors dedicated to help children identify and enhance their unique potential for academic and personal achievement.  

We blend innovative IT and classical educational approaches to produce a solid foundation for a lifelong learning. 

We combine exacting yet fun activities to create a stimulating learning environment. We help kids to keep ignited or recover their natural love for learning and aligned their education with their life mission. We utilize various learning environments to meet our students where they are at and encourage growth. 

We promote academic and social development by: 

  • Determining individual student interests, traits and needs. 
  • Applying a variety of methods to fulfill the needs of diverse abilities and circumstances. 
  • Establishing trust by applying discipline with fairness and consistency. 
  • Developing problem-solving/critical-thinking skills by presenting challenges that boosts self-esteem and performance. 
  • Promoting the concept of equality, regardless of racial, cultural or economic differences. 
  • Reinforcing positive behavior by encouraging efforts and praising accomplishments. 

We use Leadership Education that is based on The Thomas Jefferson Tutoring philosophy, integrating all the subjects as a whole. 

We teach Elementary through High School grades that include the following subjects: Math/STEM, History, Reading, Writing, Geography & Entrepreneurship, using the classics as a way to integrate and give coherence. Electives include Spanish, Latin, Coding, Music (recorder), Chess club, Farm Animals, Gardening and the study of principles to develop an individual’s unique genius and character.  

  • Now receiving applications for the School Year 2023-2024.  
  • We start classes on September 18th, 2023.   

For more information email:     

Call or Text : 360.499.6020 

August 28, 2023

Governor Inslee: Be aware of several issues as Labor Day Weekend approaches!

Gov. Jay Inslee met volunteers, responders, evacuees, and others affected by wildfires in Spokane County on August 20. Credit: Office of Gov. Jay Inslee.

Governor Inslee: Be aware of several issues ahead of Labor Day Weekend

Excerpt from the office of Office of Gov. Jay Inslee:

Be prepared to “Ready, Set, Go!” in case of disaster

King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties have launched a regional “Ready, Set, Go!” evacuation preparedness campaign. As fires rage in Spokane, forcing thousands to evacuate, residents of western Washington should also be aware that they, too, might someday be called to evacuate in case of a regional disaster.

The best and worst times to travel for Labor Day weekend

Labor Day weekend is a popular travel occasion, and congestion should be expected along key routes. Travelers should consult the Washington State Department of Transportation’s holiday traffic volume charts to determine the best times to travel, and use WSDOT’s apps and social media accounts to prepare for changes. Congestion should be expected along highways and also aboard ferries, at airports, and perhaps aboard public transit.

Blood donations needed urgently

The American Red Cross has noted a shortfall of blood donations during the first two months of summer. With fewer donations, the Red Cross’s Pacific Northwest Region does not expect to meet demand this month. Smoke and unhealthy air conditions canceled several blood drives, making matters even worse.

“Our collections are certainly in a situation you would call precarious,” said Curt Bailey, Bloodworks Northwest president and CEO. “We need to continue to share the message that the summer months are a very critical time.”

August 27, 2023

WaPo: Trump joins the lineup of history’s most famous mug shots!

Trump joins the lineup of history’s most famous mug shots
© Composite Image/From left: Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office/AP via The Washington Post.

Trump now in the history books for first-ever President’s mug shot

+ The Washington Post: Trump joins the lineup of history’s most famous mug shots


+ MSNBC: This week, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis showed the American public what the phrase “no one is above the law” looks like. After setting a Friday deadline for Trump and his co-defendants to surrender to the Fulton County jail, Willis also set $200,000 bail for Trump, denied Mark Meadows’ request for an extension, and responded to defendant Kenneth Chesebro’s request for a speedy trial by moving the trial date up to October 23, less than two months from now. On Thursday night, Trump arrived in Georgia for his historic fourth arrest, during which the first-ever mug shot of a former U.S. president was taken and Trump became Fulton County Jail inmate P01135809. By Friday, Trump and all 18 co-defendants had surrendered, but the question still looms of whether, or more likely how soon, the co-defendants could turn on the former president to protect their own interests. Source


+ MSNBC: Ruby Freeman’s heroics gave us the MAGA mug shots we deserve – Without Ruby Freeman and her daughter resisting immense pressure to lie about committing election fraud, Trump’s historic mug shot may have never happened.


+ ABC News: 14th Amendment, Section 3: A new legal battle against Trump takes shape


+ BuzzLoving: “What he’s proposing is literally unlawful”: Experts warn of Trump’s authoritarian rhetorics during the campaign, “take it very seriously”


+ The Washington Post: Trump touts authoritarian vision for second term: ‘I am your justice’ – The former president is proposing deploying the military domestically, purging the federal workforce and building futuristic cities from scratch


+ The Washington Post: Trump vows massive new tariffs if elected, risking global economic war – The former president has floated a 10 percent tax on all foreign imports, calling for a “ring around the collar” of the U.S. economy. Economists of both parties say the proposal is extremely dangerous.


+ USA Today: House Freedom Caucus GOP lawmaker calls on Trump to tell supporters ‘to stand down’


+ Truthout: Poll Shows Most Americans Want Trump Trial to Happen Before 2024 Election – Nearly 6 in 10 voters say a trial for Trump should start before the GOP primaries begin


+ Raw Story: Here’s why Trump’s argument that he believed he won in 2020 fails: Ex-prosecutor


+ MSNBC: Fmr. federal judge: Trump, allies committed ‘grave crimes’ with 2020 election coup plot – Former federal judge J. Michael Luttig joins Nicolle Wallace to discuss the state of the Republican Party following Donald Trump and his allies’ attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and why he thinks Trump should be barred from the presidency for his actions on January 6th. 

August 26, 2023

Air quality alert and heat advisory in place through the weekend!

Hydrate your body during a heat spell.

Air quality ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ amid Heat Advisory

The National Weather Service says people should prioritize staying cool over keeping wildfire smoke out of their homes

Excerpt from KING-5 TV News:

Western Washington is under a Heat Advisory this weekend with temperatures expected to reach into at least the mid-80s as wildfire smoke lingers in the air.

The Heat Advisory is in effect from noon Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday for areas as far north as the Canadian border, south to Lewis County, along the Cascade foothills, as well as Kitsap County and the South Sound.

The National Weather Service warns that hot temperatures will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses for those sensitive to the heat, especially those without effective cooling or adequate hydration.

To compound the issue, the Department of Ecology forecasted much of western Washington’s air quality to be in the “moderate” category on Saturday. According to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, most of Seattle reached the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” level by 10 a.m. The agency said the region should see some improvement throughout the day and that Sunday is expected to be moderate.

The air quality is expected to improve Sunday for much of the region except around Puget Sound and north to the Canadian border.

August 25, 2023

Introducing Tahoma Vista Fiber Mill, Alpaca Farm in Yelm!

Credit: Tahoma Vista Fiber Mill

Introducing Tahoma Vista Fiber Mill, Alpaca Farm in Yelm!

Farm and Mill Tours and Store

Tahoma Vista Fiber Mill is a small fiber processing mill located in Yelm, Washington. We have been involved in the alpaca industry since we purchased our first alpaca in 1993. We decided to purchase commercial grade fiber processing equipment in 2016 to offer fiber processing from roving. batts and yarn all the way to finished goods.

Book a Tour

15631 159th Ln SE
Yelm, WA 98597



From Alpacas to Art

We started raising alpacas in 1993 after seeing a humorous piece about them on the Today Show. We partnered with David’s sister and her husband to form Castetter Farms in Indiana so we could have alpacas and finish our Army careers. We have been exploring various avenues for using our fiber over the years, including hand processing, using small mills and joining cooperatives. We have benefited from this combination.​

I became a Master Sorter in 2017 after completing the Basic and Advanced Fiber Courses through SUNY Cobleskill, followed by an intense 2-year apprenticeship and rigorous testing process.​

It was the purchase of a commercial grade felting machine that swayed our decision to open our own mill. Our mill is very small, located entirely in our two car garage. We love working from home and creating products that our customers and their customers love.​

Our alpacas can be seen grazing nearby, and we have a view of Mt. Rainier from our property.


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