May 15, 2024

Yelm Schools District cuts hundreds of staff after levy failure: NVN!

Yelm Community Schools Superintendent Chris Woods put his head into his hands after the school board unanimously approves a reduced eduction plan on May 9. Credit: Dylan Reubenking, NVN.
  • YCS will host a community forum at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 16, at Yelm Middle School to provide feedback from its reduced education plan priorities survey.
  • Editor’s note: The community needs to examine the ramifications about being out of touch in their support of schools.
  • How is this town going to attract new businesses and residents if our schools go into decline?

Yelm district makes hundreds of cuts after board approves reduction plan

Community calls for classroom protection amid levy failure

Excerpt from the NVN:

At least 200 positions at Yelm Community Schools will be cut, and more reductions in force are set to come next week as the school board unanimously approved its reduced education plan on Thursday, May 9.

Superintendent Chris Woods described the new period as the toughest thing the district would ever have to endure. This began with an RIF of classified staff and teachers. The reductions were a result of the district’s attempts to cut $15 million in order to balance its budget for the 2024-25 school year after its educational programs and operations (EP&O) levy failed on both attempts.

“There’s no way we can get to $15 million without reducing positions in our district,” Woods said during the meeting. “When 85% of our budget is people, there’s no way we can get to $15 million with 15% of our budget.”

Notices were sent to both classified staff and teachers to inform them of their change in employment last week. While not every position can be replaced immediately, Woods said the district’s goal is to bring back as many employees as possible, perhaps in a different role where their qualifications fit.


According to Citizens for Support of Yelm Schools, the reductions have impacted art, music, technology, library services, band and numerous electives, as well as English, science and math teachers. Staff who had served YCS for over a decade also received notices last week, which was Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States.

The list of affected positions was not made public by the district, nor were future reductions potentially impacting administrators, coaches or extracurricular programs. Woods said the decision to somehow choose what is least important is necessary and that he hopes community members “stop tearing others down on social media so we can figure this out.”

The Prairie Elementary Parent Teacher Organization’s Facebook page posted on Friday, May 10, that 14 of its teachers and paraprofessionals were given their notice that “they would no longer have a job in our district next year.” Shortly after receiving their notices, Prairie staff put on an assembly for its students “while tears were still in their eyes,” the post said.

YCS will host a community forum at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 16, at Yelm Middle School to provide feedback from its reduced education plan priorities survey, which had gathered about 1,200 responses as of Thursday, May 9.

Read more

May 14, 2024

County Commissioners declared May 5-11 as Public Service Recognition Week!

During a public meeting on May 7, 2024, the Thurston Board of County Commissioners officially declared May 5th through May 11th as Public Service Recognition Week.

Public Service Recognition Week declared by county commissioners

Thurston County Commissioners paid tribute to the dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to serve the community.

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

Last week, Thurston County Commissioners paid tribute to the dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to serve the community.

During a public meeting on May 7, the Thurston Board of County Commissioners officially declared May 5-11 as Public Service Recognition Week, acknowledging the vital contributions of public employees at all levels of government.

The Board’s proclamation emphasizes the breadth of services provided by Thurston County’s dedicated employees across various departments.

From the Assessor’s Office to Emergency Services, from Public Health to the Sheriff’s Office, the proclamation highlighted that these individuals exemplify professionalism, creativity, and unwavering dedication to serving the community.

“Residents benefit each day from the public employees who strive to meet the challenging needs of a diverse population in a rapidly changing environment,” the proclamation read.


May 14, 2024

Former Thurston County Sheriff Snaza runs for state Legislature!

Sheriff John Snaza speaks at a press conference Thursday morning outside the Thurston County Courthouse in Olympia. Credit: The Chronicle (Centralia)

Former Thurston County sheriff files to run for Legislature

Excerpt from The Chronicle (Centralia):

John Snaza, the former sheriff of Thurston County, will vie for a seat in the Washington state Legislature.

Snaza, a Republican, was among four candidates who filed with the secretary of state’s office to represent the 2nd Legislative District during filing week. The district stretches from Yelm to Mount Rainier National Park.

“I’ve spent my career protecting and serving the people of Thurston County,” Snaza said in a news release announcing his campaign. “I want (to) continue that service on a broader scale, advocating for policies that prioritize the safety and well-being of our community.”

Democrats Michael Holloman and Yanah G. Cook and Republican Matt Marshall have also filed to run for the seat.

The four will not face an incumbent, as Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, will not seek reelection. Wilcox, the former Republican House leader, announced plans to retire from the Legislature after 14 years. According to Snaza, Wilcox has endorsed his campaign.

Rep. Andrew Barkis, who has represented the second district since 2016, is unopposed in his reelection campaign.

First elected as sheriff in 2010, Snaza was reelected in 2014 and 2018 before losing in 2022 to current Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders. Snaza is the twin brother of Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza.

May 13, 2024

PSE introduces wildfire safety – Power lines to be shut off during extreme fire risk!

Credit: The JOLT News

Puget Sound Energy introduces wildfire safety initiative

Power lines to be shut off during extreme fire risk weather conditions.

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) representatives discussed the company’s Wildfire Program and a new initiative, Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), with the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) at a meeting yesterday.

“Over the past decade, wildfires have become a significant public health and safety concern for much of the western United States,” said Puget Sound Energy Senior Local Government Affairs Representative Kristine Rompa.

“As the state’s largest utility, PSE is taking a comprehensive approach to decrease the risk of wildfires. We are working to balance safety and the reliable delivery of energy to our communities,” Rompa added.

PSE’s wildlife program has elements relevant to measures taken before, during, and after calamities.

Wildfire Program

The first element of PSE’s Wildfire Program is situational awareness, wherein the facility evaluates the condition of the system and its environment.

“We monitor the condition of our electric system and the environment around it using risk modeling, real-time fire weather monitoring, field technologies, and pre-wildfire season inspections. These methods allow us to accurately assess the risk of wildfire in our region,” said Rompa.

The second element, grid hardening, maintains and improves current infrastructure. This can include enhanced vegetation, management in wildfire-prone areas, installing tree wires, and strategic undergrounding (relocating power lines underground).

The third element consists of operational procedures, including prevention measures and response activities for the electric system’ operation during elevated wildfire risk.

Lastly, community engagement is also part of the PSE’s wildfire program.


+ The JOLT News: Wildfire season: Puget Sound Energy seeks to prepares customers with open-house events – Thurston County residents can go in person to the open house at the Griffin Fire Department on May 21 anytime between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. There will be no formal presentation.

May 13, 2024

Yelm, Rainier Farmers Markets dates/details for the next 3 months

Credit: Yelm Farmers Market Facebook post.

Click here for the list from the Nisqually Valley News.

  • The 2024 Yelm Farmers Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 11, at 206 McKenzie Ave., near City Park.
  • The Rainier Saturday Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 206 Binghampton St. SE, near Wilkowski Park, Saturdays until September.

May 13, 2024

Northern Lights as seen in the Yelm area last weekend – in case you missed it!

Photo credit: Paulina Amador Facebook posts. Used with permission.

+ The Associated Press: Northern Lights over Washington

Photo credit: Paulina Amador Facebook posts. Used with permission.
Photo credit: Paulina Amador Facebook posts. Used with permission.

May 12, 2024

Happy Mother’s Day 2024 to all our mothers!

Anna Jarvis, Creator of Mother’s Day, first celebrated in 1912.
Photo credit: Bettmann/Corbis

Published here annually since May 14, 2006:


  • Editor’s note: Mother’s Day 2024 is especially poignant as the challenges of these times have given us an opportunity of introspection on what are truly the important things in life.
  • This year, take a moment to pause and honor with your prayers and blessings the mothers who bore us all all, givers of life.

1. From Wikipedia:
“The modern Mother’s Day holiday was created by Anna Jarvis as a day for each family to honor its mother, and it’s now celebrated on various days in many places around the world. It complements Father’s Day, the celebration honoring fathers.

This holiday is relatively modern, being created at the start of the 20th century, and should not be confused with the early pagan and Christian traditions honoring mothers, or with the 16th century celebration of Mothering Sunday, which is also known as Mother’s Day in the UK.

In most countries the Mother’s Day celebration is a recent holiday derived from the original US celebration…

In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.

“She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”[1]

This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in the law making official the holiday in the U.S. [May 9, 1914], by the U.S. Congress on bills, and by other U.S. presidents on their declarations.”

2. From Women’s Rights.Change:
“From Physicians for Social Responsibility:

Julia Ward Howe proposed the idea of Mothers Day for Peace over a century ago. Howes Mothers Day Proclamation in 1870 was a call for disarmament and for women to come together to seek diplomatic ways to settle disagreements amongst nations.

Today, Physicians for Social Responsibility carries on this work by seeking an end to the use and spread of nuclear weapons, working to end global warming, and stopping the toxic degradation of the environment. We encourage you to share the story of Mothers Day with your mother and other family members and friends.”
Mother’s Day Proclamation 1870
By Julia Ward Howe.

3. From May 11, 2014
“Presidential Proclamation — Mother’s Day, 2014”
From The White House of President Barack Obama. Click here

May 11, 2024

Yelm School Board’s Mark Rohwedder resigns – for personal reasons!

Mark Rohwedder announces his resignation from the Yelm school board on May 9 after nearly 11 years of service. Credit: Nisqually Valley News.

Longtime Yelm School Board member resigns

Mark Rohwedder’s departure effective immediately

Excerpt from the Nisqually Valley News:

Mark Rohwedder, District No. 1 director for the Yelm Community Schools Board, announced his resignation, effective immediately, during the board’s meeting at Ridgeline Middle School on Thursday, May 9.

Rohwedder, whose term was set to expire in 2025, had served on the board since July 25, 2013. He told the board and attendees during the meeting that he first intended to resign on the first of the year but he chose to wait until after the special election for the district’s educational program and operations (EP&O) levy, which failed on both attempts.

After the meeting, Rohwedder said his job has taken him between Vancouver and Longview and that he does not “have the time to dedicate what this needs to do.”

“I basically was going to resign on the first of the year, but with the levy coming up, I was in solidarity with the board and I didn’t want to have division going into a levy election,” he said. “We decided that it would be good to wait until the levy was over, so that was gonna be the end of February. But then we didn’t pass the levy, and then, after spring break, there was only one board meeting in April but it was before the levy. So this was the first board meeting after the final levy election.”

Rohwedder did not vote on the district’s reduced education plan, which was unanimously approved during the meeting. Superintendent Chris Woods said that 200 positions would be impacted, either temporarily or long term, but the district did not make the list of positions public.

Rohwedder said that while he no longer lives in the Olympia address, as of 2022, that is listed on the YCS board of directors website, he “rents a place in the district and I rent a place down south.” He confirmed that he did not vote on either levy attempt because he changed his mailing address to his southern residence, citing “the mail system is safer down there than the house within the district.”

“I hate to say that one vote doesn’t matter, but it does. But to go through all the hassle of changing my mailing address back to where I was staying up here just to change it to down south again, I didn’t want to deal with that headache,” he said.

May 11, 2024

As warmer weather arrives, time to prep for summer’s wildfire season!

Credit: The Bellingham Herald

As the weather turns warm and dry, it’s a great time to prepare for the wildfire season

Excerpt from The Bellingham Herald via yahoo!news:

Summer is just around the corner, and the weather is expected to get warmer and dryer. As we get ready for sun and fun we need to prevent and prepare for wildfires.

In 2023, Washington had one of our most challenging wildfire seasons to date with a total of 1,880 wildfires — the second highest recorded reported by Commissioner Franz, DNR Leaders. According to National Fire Protection Association, wildfires cost the US $18 billion in property losses in 2022.

Wildfire Preparedness Day was May 4 so this is a great time to take the following actions:

Reduce risk:

  • Clear fuel sources such as dead vegetation away from your home and other structures.
  • Engage in a local community cleanup day.
  • Proper fire safety on a daily basis to prevent accidental fires.
  • Fire resistant construction.
  • Remain informed of emergency alerts.

Be prepared:

  • Create an emergency kit including food, important documents, battery powered radio, first aid kit and any medicine you need.
  • Have a communication plan for notifying neighbors of an emergency.
  • Practice your family’s escape plan paths out of the house, neighborhood and where to meet.
  • Pack your vehicle with everything you need.
  • Have someone assigned to get the pets so there is no miscommunications.
  • Listen to emergency personnel and evacuate when you are told.

If you’d like more examples, visit the NFPA information page on wildfire preparedness.

For more information, contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office at 360-596-3904.

May 10, 2024

Leonard Peltier of our First Nation’s people has a parole date June 10th – U.S. has incarcerated him for 49 years. ENOUGH – President Biden: Let this Elder go home!

Leonard Peltier
Credit: Photo courtesy of the Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee) via ICT + Rapid City Journal.

Dear readers;

I have heard the requests and pleas to learn about and support the release of Leonard Pertier of the First Nation’s people. He was convicted in 1975 in what was known as the “Second Wounded Knee.”
Leonard Peltier has a parole date one month from today, June 10th 2024.
I am told that those who were with him know the truth and that “49 years is more then enough time to serve in prison. Let our elder be free!!!!!”

I agree!

Click here to read this compelling story!


Leonard Peltier: ‘I hope I make it to June 10’

Excerpt from Amelia Schafer and Kevin Abourezk, ICT + Rapid City Journal

RAPID CITY, S.D. – At 80 years old, Leonard Peltier is approaching what may be his last attempt at freedom.

On June 10, the Anishinaabe elder will participate in what may be his final parole hearing. Peltier is currently serving two consecutive life sentences after being convicted of killing two FBI agents in 1975 at the Jumping Bull Ranch in South Dakota.

Peltier is asking for the public to spread the word about his parole hearing, said Dawn Lawson, secretary of the Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee.

“For a long time, people have been dying in that prison and the (Federal Bureau of Prisons) is out of control,” Lawson said. “They’re (U.S. Penitentiary Coleman 1) currently on indefinite lockdown, not because anybody has done anything, just because they can. They (prisoners) are living in their own filth. Leonard is making an appeal to his people to please get anybody’s attention.” READ MORE — by Amelia Schafer and Kevin Abourezk, ICT + Rapid City Journal

In the past few months, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa citizen’s health has taken a turn for the worse, so much so that his attorneys say they’re concerned he won’t make it to the June parole hearing.


“At a time when democratic values are being challenged, DOJ should take action as he nears the end of his life and allow him to return to his family on his ancestral homeland,” LeBlanc said in a statement. “We implore the DOJ to grant Peltier’s compassionate release.”

Tilsen called on the Biden administration to take action.

“This administration, the Biden Administration, has said that Native American rights are a priority to them, and yet they’ve got the longest sitting Indigenous political prisoner locked up and we’ve seen no action from the federal government,” Tilsen said. “If he dies in prison this will forever be a part of that administration’s legacy as it relates to Native people.”


A chance to tell his story

Within 30 days after the June 10 parole hearing, the parole commission will issue its decision. A recommendation will be delivered to the commission for a final decision to be made.

Since Peltier is a federal prisoner serving a sentence of 30 years or more, he is eligible for a parole hearing within 9 months of his eligibility date as determined by the Bureau of Prisons. This hearing may be his only shot.

“The parole hearing on June 10 is the most important parole hearing of Leonard’s life,” Tilsen said. “He won’t live long enough for another parole hearing to come around.”


+ The Guardian (UK) posted Feb. 6, 2023: Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier in plea for clemency after 47 years in jail – Peltier, 78, convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975, tells Guardian of desire to return home to tribal land

+ Indian Times: Leonard Peltier Set for Parole Hearing in June


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