February 20, 2024

The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater metro area is high in 2 national performance rankings!

Credit: Experience of Olympia & Beyond via South Sound Business.

Olympia-Tumwater Metro Area No. 9 in Milken Institute City Performance Ranking

Excerpt from South Sound Business:

The Olympia-Tumwater metropolitan area ranked No. 9 among 200 large cities in the 2024 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index released this week, up 33 spots from Milken’s 2023 ranking. The metro area ranked No. 28 in Milken’s 2022 index.

The 2024 ranking placed the metro area in Tier 1 of Milken’s five tiers, with Tier 1 the highest-ranked cities and Tier 5 the lowest-ranked cities.

The index — published annually since 1999 by the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank — reflects cities’ effectiveness at leveraging their resources to promote economic growth and provide residents with access to the essential services and infrastructure needed for success, according to a Milken news release about the rankings out this week.

The index is based on job creation, wage growth, and the high-tech sector’s output growth, in addition to measures of access to economic opportunities, such as housing affordability and broadband coverage. Recognizing the importance of sustainable and equitable growth, the 2024 index also includes metrics of communities’ ability to respond to economic and natural disasters and income inequality, the release added.

Elsewhere in the Puget Sound region, the Tacoma-Lakewood metropolitan area ranked No. 83 among large cities, placing it in Tier 3. Its 2023 ranking was a big jump from No. 138 in 2023 and No. 131 in 2022.


This year’s top-performing cities had several common themes, according to Milken’s news release. Those were a vigorous and growing high-tech sector, rebounding leisure and hospitality sectors, and community resilience. Simultaneously, housing supply and affordability was a concern among most top-performing cities. The report also noted that cities that offer higher wages and lower costs of living remain attractive to younger workers.

Olympia ranks high in another report

Also this week, the Thurston Economic Development Council reported that the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater metro area ranked No. 2 national for economic strength in a recent study by Chmura Analytics reported in Area Development magazine.

“Thurston County’s No. 2 ranking is a testament to the success of our local partnerships and initiatives, reinforcing our commitment to sustaining a robust economy that benefits everyone,” the EDC said in recapping the findings as part of its Weekly Digest report.

The ranking looked at metrics that included workforce and the gaps between employer needs and workforce readiness, metrics such as GDP trends, and performance of R&D, technology, and STEM fields, the EDC said.

February 19, 2024

The most popular check-out books at TRL in 2023!

Rachel Oberg reads a book to her son, Maverick Oberg, 5, in the children’s reading area of the Sumner Public Library on Fryar Avenue in Sumner, Wash. on March 23, 2023. Sumner City Council and the Pierce County Libraries board of trustees passed resolutions to place a bond measure on the primary ballet in August that would raise funds for a new library branch.
Credit: Cheyenne Boone Cheyenne Boone, The News Tribune.

What did Timberland library readers check out in 2023? Here are the most popular books

Over 3.1 million materials were checked out from the Timberland Regional Library system in 2023, more than 1.5 million were physical books.

Excerpt from The Olympian (accessible text via yahoo!):

To many, the time of going to a library and checking a book out seems like something from the old days since we have access to millions of books in the palm of our hands. Nonetheless, libraries persist. In fact, library patrons check out millions of physical and digital titles every year.

According to Timberland Regional Library, more than 3 million physical books and digital titles were checked out in 2023. TRL has 29 libraries in the five Washington state counties of Thurston, Mason, Grays, Pacific and Lewis.

The 2023 TRL Wrapped includes statistics about the number of physical and digital items borrowed, as well as top movies and the most popular books for every genre.

TRL said in a press release that 1.9 million digital books were borrowed in 2023, making it one of 152 total public library systems worldwide that surpassed 1 million digital checkouts last year.

“For the second straight year, Timberland Regional Library readers have checked out over 1.5 million digital items,” stated Kim Storbeck, collection services manager at TRL in a news release. “We are delighted to serve readers of all interests and ages with this free, always growing, and diverse collection.”

Here are TRL’s top books in various genres, audiobooks, e-books, and movies in 2023.

Click here for the list.

February 19, 2024

President’s Day 2024 is today!

“A rare painting of Lincoln restores the emancipator to his full height”
“The 16th president is well known from black and white photos, but this re-discovered portrait adds dimension and meaning”

Credit: The Washington Post

About President’s Day
“Washington’s Birthday [Feb. 22, 1732] is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is also commonly known as Presidents Day (sometimes spelled Presidents’ Day or President’s Day). As Washington’s Birthday or Presidents Day, it is also the official name of a concurrent state holiday celebrated on the same day in a number of states.”

The day is a state holiday in most states, with official names including Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, President’s Day, Presidents Day, and Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday [Feb. 12, 1809].[1] The various states use 15 different names. Depending upon the specific law, the state holiday may officially celebrate Washington alone, Washington and Lincoln, or some other combination of U.S. presidents (such as Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who was born in April).[1]” quoting Wikipedia.

[Editor’s. note: Most government offices, libraries, and many banks will be closed, and no U. S. Postal Services today.] Read more

Click here for George Washington’s Farewell Address read every President’s Day in Congress.

February 18, 2024

Trump is finally being held “accountable” by the courts.
His appealing to delay cases has about run the course.
The curtain over his facades is being pulled back –
This “Emperor” truly has no clothes!

The case of Trump paying hush-money to Stormy Daniels WILL commence March 25. This is the first-ever criminal trial of a former president. Photo credit: MSNBC.

Trump is finally being held accountable by the courts, judges, and juries of his peers

  • Editor’s note: Trump will have to appear in court beginning March 25th, because defendants are required to attend all trial proceedings in criminal cases. His lies, spin, and attacks outside of the courtroom are inadmissible inside the courtroom. Losing the civil trials of two E. Jean Carroll cases, and the N. Y. fraud case do not bode well for him as his criminal trial begins next month!

+ MSNBC: Trump hush money case will be the first-ever criminal trial of a former president

Meanwhile, we have a date in New York. On Thursday in Manhattan state court, Judge Juan Merchan made clear that Trump will stand trial later next month on March 25. That means the hush money case for alleged 2016 election interference will be the first criminal trial against a former president. He’s charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records for allegedly attempting to cover up hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election that vaulted him into the White House.


+ MSNBC’s Deadline White House: Trump’s wild week in court ends with a nine-figure loss


+ MSNBC Glenn Kirschner: Engoron just dealt a $350 million blow to Trump’s facade. It’s only the beginning


+ MSNBC Opinion: Trump’s loss in N.Y. is a powerful predictor of what’s to come in his criminal trials


+ MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell: ‘Recipe for disaster’: Neal Katyal breaks down Trump’s circular immunity argument


+ MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show: Trump plots full MAGA family takeover of RNC


+ MSNBC’s The Reidout: How Trump trounced the Romney dynasty and used it to shape his own


+ MSNBC’s Morning Joe: Michael Steele: Dictators don’t make life better for you. Pick up a history book and read it.


+ MSNBC’s Morning Joe: VP Harris stresses her readiness to serve in new interview


+ NBC News: What Trump is promising supporters he’d do in a second term – Deploying the military domestically to fight crime, a big tax on foreign imports and “record-setting” deportations are among Trump’s main 2024 pledges.


+ Former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: As New York’s mayor, I watched Trump evade consequences for years – until now

February 17, 2024

Gov. Jay Inslee: Washington celebrates 50 years since Boldt decision

The triumphant story of Billy Frank Jr. and Tribal efforts to affirm their right to fish will be told to a national audience once a statue of Billy Frank Jr. is sent to the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Credit: Office of Gov. Jay Inslee e-newsletter.

Washington celebrates 50 years since Boldt decision

From the Office of Gov. Jay Inslee e-newsletter:

With the stroke of a pen, the Puyallup, Nisqually, Steilacoom and Squaxin Island tribes ceded their ancestral lands in 1854 in the Treaty of Medicine Creek. Among the few meager concessions the Tribes got back was a perpetual right to take fish at all usual and accustomed grounds. It was a promise soon broken.

By the 1880s, state game wardens often arrested Tribal fishermen for exercising their federal right and ancient custom, ignoring court decisions affirming that right. Among those arrested in 1945 was a 14-year-old Billy Frank Jr. Frank would dedicate his life to the cause, organizing “fish-in” protests and other acts of civil disobedience over decades of activism. By the 1970s, the escalating “Fish Wars” aroused national attention and even celebrity participation.

In 1974, the federal government sued the state in United States v. Washington, alleging that state fishing regulations infringed on the terms of federal treaties with the Tribes. Judge George Hugo Boldt heard the case and ruled in favor of the federal government and tribal fisherman, permanently deciding the issue. Tribes would fish as they always had.

Fifty years later, Tribes cherish that right. A statue of Billy Frank Jr. will represent Washington state and regional Tribes at the National Statuary Hall inside the United States Capitol. And debates continue over the health of salmon populations, though in a more unified spirit than ever.

On the 50th anniversary of the Boldt decision, Gov. Jay Inslee said, “Rather than being pitted against one another, Tribes and the state government have since collaborated on nation-leading efforts to save our iconic salmon. The history of this case provides many lessons that should be taught continually. Most importantly, it teaches that we as Washingtonians are always capable of doing better, and we are more likely to succeed when we work together for a more just society.”

Read more:

February 17, 2024

Consolidated Communications discontinuing cable TV by end of 2024!

An office for Consolidated Communications in Yelm, Washington.
Photo by Matthew Keys for The Desk.

Consolidated Communications to stop offering cable TV by end of year

Excerpt from The Desk:

Consolidated Communications will exit the cable television market by the end of the year as it focuses on building out and maintaining its land-based broadband service business.

This week, customers in some areas began receiving notifications of Consolidated’s intention to stop offering traditional cable TV service, which will affect fewer than 30,000 subscribers, or less than 10 percent of its overall customer accounts.

“Consolidated’s strategy is based on a fiber-first product offering, which provides consumers and businesses a future-proof technology with unlimited bandwidth potential. As we make this transition, it will mean sunsetting some legacy products, such as linear TV services,” a spokesperson for Consolidated Communications said in a statement.

Consolidated has started notifying customers and municipalities in the areas where it provides cable TV service with information about its forthcoming plans and guidance on how customers can sign up for other pay television platforms, including streaming alternatives. Consolidated says it will continue to provide Internet and phone service in areas where it is withdrawing its cable TV product. The company provides telecom services in 23 states.

February 16, 2024

Trump, Trump Org. ordered to pay $350 million in damages to NY State,
Bars him from running businesses in N.Y. for 3 years!

Donald Trump.
Credit: Steven Hirsch, Poll via Getty Images via NBC News.

Judge fines Donald Trump more than $350 million, bars him from running businesses in N.Y. for three years

The former president denied any wrongdoing, calling the case “a fraud on me.”

Excerpt from NBC News:

The judge who presided over a civil business fraud trial against Donald Trump on Friday ordered the former president, his sons, business associates and company to pay over $350 million in damages and temporarily limited their ability to do business in New York.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered the former president and the Trump Organization to pay over $354 million in damages, and bars Trump “from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York for a period of three years.”

He also continued “the appointment of an Independent Monitor” and ordered “the installation of an Independent Director of Compliance” for the company.

During the trial, Trump and executives at his company, including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, attempted to blame exaggerated financial statements that were the heart of the AG’s case on the accountants who compiled them. Engoron disagreed.

“There is overwhelming evidence from both interested and non-interested witnesses, corroborated by documentary evidence, that the buck for being truthful in the supporting data valuations stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants,” he wrote. 

The judge also cited the lack of remorse by Trump and his executives after the fraud was discovered as showing the need for a monitor.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin. Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” Engoron wrote.

“Defendants’ refusal to admit error — indeed, to continue it, according to the Independent Monitor — constrains this Court to conclude that they will engage in it going forward unless judicially restrained,” he added.

February 16, 2024

‘Forever chemicals’ found in some Thurston well-water –
Get your own well water tested!

Tumwater falls and the former Olympia Brewing plant, which closed its doors in 2003. The beer built its reputation on the region’s artesian springs, using the tagline “It’s the Water.” But in the past several years, some water sources in the area have been found to be contaminated with PFAS, once-common chemicals that don’t easily break down, can travel long distances from their source, and have been shown to cause negative health effects. Credit: Andy Engelson for Crosscut, via The JOLT News.

‘Forever chemicals’ in Washington’s well water could make you sick

These are linked to ailments from high cholesterol to cancer are in our clearest aquifers — but steep costs pose cleanup challenges.

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

Recently, tests have revealed that several wells in Tumwater are contaminated with PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

These are a class of water-resistant human-made chemicals used in a wide variety of products from rain jackets to Teflon pans to firefighting foam. These so-called “forever chemicals” don’t break down easily in the environment and have been found to have negative health impacts that include higher cholesterol, decreased immune response, thyroid disease and increased risks of kidney and testicular cancer.

It’s a nationwide problem – a U.S. Geological Survey report in 2023 estimated that nearly half of the nation’s drinking water may contain PFAS. Even some Washington state water systems with a reputation for high-quality water aren’t immune.

“I’ve been spoiled,” said Paul Grant, a resident of the Lazy Acres neighborhood in Tumwater, which is served by Thurston PUD, noting his water has always “tasted great.” In 2021, tests revealed that two wells serving 94 households in the community were over the state’s acceptable levels for PFAS. “I’m definitely concerned,” Grant said, noting that he temporarily switched to bottled water and is talking to his landlord about installing a filtration system.

According to the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health, 30 public water utility sites across the state currently contain PFAS over the state action level, which requires utilities to create plans to remove or treat the source if possible.The state regulates five PFAS chemicals, and the two most common, PFOA and PFOS, are limited to 10 parts per trillion and 15 parts per trillion respectively – equivalent to less than a drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Barry Rogowski, toxics cleanup manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology, said the challenge of addressing PFAS contamination statewide is equal to the scale of widespread solvent contamination from dry-cleaning shops and industrial sites in the 1990s. “This is as significant as anything that we’ve seen in the last 30 years,” Rogowski said. “The problem with PFAS is they travel very rapidly, and in great distance in groundwater – much more so than some other compounds like gasoline or solvents.” PFAS chemicals were used extensively because they’re so slippery and water-repellent – properties that made them great for Gore-Tex jackets but unfortunately also make them widespread and difficult to clean up.

February 15, 2024

Yelm Community Schools levy continues to fail as votes are tallied!

Ballots being checked against their envelopes
Ballots being checked against their envelopes
Credit: Sage Hamilton via The JOLT News.

Yelm Community Schools levy continues to fail

Unofficial Results
February 13, 2024 Special Election
Thurston County, WA
Yelm Community Schools Proposition No. 1

Yes 2,433 46.98%
No 2,746 53.02%
Total Votes Cast 5,179

Click here

February 15, 2024

Thurston County’s January home sales did something unusual –
Reflects a market that favors neither the buyer or seller!

Interviewed at a currently listed Olympia residence in the McAllister Park neighborhood on Feb. 6, 2024 Van Dorm Realty broker Alley Savin offers her thoughts on the January housing sales numbers for Thurston County. Credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

Thurston County home sales did something in January that they struggled to do in 2023

Excerpt from The Olympian [accessible text via yahoo!]:

Thurston County home sales rose for the first time in months in January, climbing 8.5% last month from the same period a year ago, according to new data released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

And that sales increase can be attributed to lower mortgage interest rates, said Van Dorm Realty broker Alley Savin, who has worked in residential real estate for 11 years.

“People are trying to take advantage of the dip we’ve had the last four months,” she said.

The average rate on a 30-year-mortgage hit 8% in October, but since then has fallen to around 6.6%, according to Freddie Mac data.


Although sales climbed last month, the rest of the county’s housing market looked awfully familiar in January: median price was right around $500,000 and inventory remains stubbornly low, still below two months, the data show.

A market that doesn’t favor either the buyer or seller is thought to have between four and six months of inventory. Right now it favors the seller, and if interest rates continue to dip, Savin said the market could heat up and become competitive again for prospective buyers.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but when rates rose, the competition for homes went away, which meant that negotiations between seller and buyer returned, Savin said.

They negotiated the purchase price, closing costs and whether the seller would pay for repairs, she said. If the market heats up again, those incentives typically go away, Savin said.


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