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Ballots, Drop Boxes now available for March 12th Presidential Primary!

Thurston County voting drop box.
Credit: The Olympian.

From the Office of the Thurston County Auditor:

Ballots Available and Ballot Drop Boxes Open for the March 12 Presidential Primary Election 

OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Auditor’s Elections Division mailed more than 190,000 ballots to voters in the county for the March 12 Presidential Primary Election.  

Any registered voter who thinks they should have received a ballot, but hasn’t by Wednesday, February 28 should contact the Elections Division at 360.786.5408 or elections@co.thurston.wa.us. Ballots for military and overseas voters registered in Thurston County were mailed on Friday, January 26.  

Seventeen-year-olds who will turn 18 by November 5, 2024, are eligible to vote in the Presidential Primary Election. These “Primary Only Voters,” who have pre-registered, will automatically receive a ballot, similar to any other voter. If you will turn 18 by the November 5 General Election but have not yet pre-registered, you can register by March 12 and participate in the Presidential Primary Election. See below for voting center information. 

The Elections Division opened 30 secure ballot drop boxes throughout the county. A list of ballot drop box locations and addresses is included in the mailed ballot materials and online at ThurstonWAVotes.gov. Returning your ballot in a drop box is the most secure way to return your ballot. 

Mailed ballots must be postmarked by March 12. Voters are advised to check mailboxes for pickup times to make sure their ballots will be postmarked by Election Day. No stamp is needed to mail your ballot. If you miss your mail pickup time, ballot drop boxes are open until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12 (Election Day). 

The Thurston County Auditor’s Elections Division is a designated voting center beginning February 21. The Voting Center at the Lacey Library will open March 4. Both voting centers will be open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. March 12 (Election Day). Voters may register to vote, update their current registration, obtain a ballot, or use a voting assistance device at the Voting Center. See the chart below for dates and times. Contact the Elections Division for more information.  

Voting Centers 
Need to register to vote or update your address? Need a ballot? Need election information, including voters’ pamphlets? Need to use the Expressvote™ an accessible voting device? We are here for you! 
Locations Address Voter Services Days & Hours 
Thurston County Auditor’s Office, Elections Division 2400 Evergreen Park Dr SW Feb 21 through Mar 11  
Monday – Friday  Election Day, Mar 12 
  8 am – 4:30 pm  8 am – 8 pm 
Voting Center at the Lacey Library 500 College St SE Mar 4 to Mar 11 
Monday – Friday  
Election Day, Mar 12 
  10 am – 4 pm  8 am – 8 pm  
(Library services 10 am – 6 pm) 

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Trump civil fraud case officially entered at $454 million –
Plus $112 thousand in daily interest until paid!
Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial to start March 25

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom during his civil business fraud trial on November 06, 2023 in New York City. A Wisconsin ethics commission delivered a blow to a Trump PAC supporting his 2024 campaign. Credit: Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images via MSN.

Trump owes $454 million plus interest in fraud case + $83 million in E. Jean Carroll case

+ MSNBC: $454,156,783.05 — That’s how much Trump is on the hook for in his civil fraud case – The former president has a 30-day window to appeal or post a bond, which will also likely be incredibly costly.

[Note: Effective Friday, February 23, 2024, “The interest on the judgment against Trump will increase at a daily rate of $111,983.86 until it’s paid off, according to the AG’s office.”]

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+ NBC News: Judgment in Trump civil fraud case officially entered at $464 million – Former President Donald Trump and his company will be hit with an extra $111,000 in interest a day until the judgment is paid.

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+ Daily Beast: Donald Trump’s Cash Crunch Just Got Much, Much Worse – New federal campaign finance filings reveal that Trump is burning through donors’ funds as he struggles to fund his legal defense and his 2024 campaign.

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+ Newsweek: GOP Official Refuses to Pay Donald Trump Legal Expenses With RNC Funds

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+ Newsweek: Republican Deals Major Blow to Donald Trump PAC – A political action committee (PAC) supporting Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign was dealt a blow by Wisconsin’s bipartisan ethics commission, which recommended it face criminal charges for allegedly trying to circumvent campaign finance laws to support a challenger to an anti-Trump Republican.

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+ MSNBC’s Maddow Blog: What it means for Trump if Cohen testifies and Weisselberg does not – At the former president’s upcoming hush money trial, the two witnesses most knowledgeable about his alleged involvement and intent could not be more differently situated.

+ MSNBC’s Dealdine White House: ‘Borders on pathological’: Michael Cohen reacts to judge trashing Trump in $355 million bomb

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+ The New York Times: Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial to start March 25

Yelm High grad hailed for a voyage of a lifetime –
Julian Garcia sailing around the world aboard the Barque Picton Castle!

Julian Garcia poses for a photo with the wheel of the Barque Picton Castle while sailing around the world. Credit: The Chronicle.

Voyage of a lifetime: Thurston County man sailing around the world aboard Barque Picton Castle

Excerpt from The Chronicle:

Julian Garcia’s family and friends often say that he was born 200 years too late because he was meant to sail the seas.

He grew up with a deep love of the ocean and a longing for adventure. He dreamed of being a pirate, the kind romanticized in cinema.

After graduating from Yelm High School in 2018, Garcia stumbled upon an advertisement on Instagram for the “sail training adventure of a lifetime” aboard the Barque Picton Castle, a three-masted sail training tall ship based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, that sailed around the world. The advertisement read that no sailing experience was required for the trip set to begin in April of 2020, and Garcia began envisioning his lifelong dream of sailing the seas coming true. Then, he looked at the price of the whole trip: $48,000.

“Maybe another time,” he thought.

Garcia, a welding student at Bates Technical College at the time, knew he wanted to apply for the expedition but needed to make money to afford at least one of the voyage’s three legs. He submitted his application and got accepted in December of 2019, so he began working as a welder, putting every cent he could toward the trip that was four months away.

“All of his friends were out there partying, buying new cars, going out to eat and going to concerts, and he was like, ‘Nope, I’m broke,’ ” Christa Garcia, Julian’s mother, said. “He stuck with saving his money because he had a goal.”

Julian Garcia knew the opportunity would be worth it and that his experience in welding would help him to work aboard the Barque Picton Castle, a 179-foot teaching vessel. After all, the year-long voyage was not a vacation; each crew member was expected to achieve an able-bodied seaman certification to work in the maritime industry. The ship accommodated 52 crew members and delivered services like medical and school supplies to numerous remote islands and villages around the world that are only accessible via boat.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread globally that spring, the voyage was postponed. Garcia kept working and saving money to afford as much of the trip as possible. Over the next two years, he saved $51,000 and was ready to sail around the world once it boarded in October of 2022.

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“It’s absolutely been everything I’ve dreamed of and definitely more,” Garcia said while ported in Reunion, one of the Mascarene Islands, more than 400 miles east of Madagascar. “But it’s also not as dramatic. Everything about sailing has kind of been romanticized a bit.”

Yelm Community Schools levy fails, official results posted –
YCS Special Election schools levy is slated for April 23rd!

Thurston County voting drop box.
Credit: The Olympian.

From the Office of the Thurston County Auditor

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

TOTAL VOTE %
Yes 2,468 47.04%
No 2,779 52.96%
Total Votes Cast 5,247 100.00%

Click here for the official final results.

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Auditor’s Office Seeks Citizens to Serve on “Against” Committees for Ballot Measures in the April 23, 2024, Special Election

OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Auditor’s Election Division seeks “Against” committee members for the April 23, 2024, Special Election.

The following school district needs “Against” committee members for resolutions:

  • Yelm Community Schools, Proposition No. 1

Committee members must reside within the district running the measure. Committees provide written arguments “against” a ballot measure that will appear in the Local Voters’ Pamphlet.  

Committee member names must be submitted to the Elections Division by 4:30 p.m. on March 1, 2024, via email to pamphlet@co.thurston.wa.us or by dropping off forms at the Thurston County Elections Office, 2400 Evergreen Park Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502. 

To learn about committee members, call 360.786.5408 or see page 7 of the Administrative Rules for Jurisdictions found under Candidates and Jurisdictions on our website at ThurstonWAVotes.gov.

Western Washington’s high-speed rail line efforts move ahead!

Credit: KING-5 TV News.

Effort to bring high-speed rail line to western Washington remains on track

The state will meet with federal rail officials next week about applying for $250 million in grants.

Excerpt from KING-5 TV News:

— The effort to bring a high-speed rail line to western Washington continues with the state readying itself for more possible grant opportunities. 

The state was recently awarded $500,000 in grant funding to help cover the cost of planning. 

Next week, the state will meet with federal rail officials about applying for $250 million in grants to eventually begin development, according to Ron Pate, the director of rail, freight and ports for the Washington State Department of Transportation. The $250 million grant would require a $25 million investment from the state’s budget.

Sen. Marko Liias, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the most recent transportation budget set aside $50 million for high-speed rail.

”We have three million people coming to this region over the next generation,” Liias said. “Our airport is close to capacity. [Interstate 5] is at capacity. Like, we need to figure out a way to accommodate all the folks that are moving here. And rail is something we don’t use, we underuse, in this state. We need to add it to the mix.”

The goal is to have a high-speed rail line connecting Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Oregon. 

Officials from the Washington State Department of Transportation declined to make any predictions on when we’d see a high-speed train running due to so many unknown about the project.

Yelm’s Community Center getting upgrades with solar panels, battery backup!

Photo by Aaron Locke, City of Yelm via the NVN.
  • Editor’s note Yelm Blog readers may remember that after 2 failed bonds put to the voters by the city, then-Mayor Ron Harding cut the building’s planned square feet, and dropped the proposed LEEDS certification, reported here in 2015.
  • Harding then did an end-run around the voters and went to his sycophants making up the majority of Yelm’s City Council to get a vote to construct a smaller community center from city funds.
  • The building was designed with a south-facing roof to maximize the capturing of sunlight for power, which was never utilized for that purpose.
  • TEN years after this building was to be LEED-rated to save Yelm taxpayers money on power to the building, this may finally come to fruition, albeit far more expensive than in 2015.
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based, market­-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings.
  • The LEED green building rating system — developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington D.C.-based, nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders — is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being,” quoting the NRDC.
  • Many new public buildings nationwide are designed as LEEDS certified, the best way to demonstrate that a building project is truly “green.”
  • Unknown if current city management will seek LEED certification once solar power and batteries are installed.
  • IF the power consumption costs will be diminished, will the city council vote to lower the building’s public rental fees? Stay tuned.
  • The positive thing in all of this is that the community center will become self-sustaining in emergency power failures to be available to serve the public.

Yelm Community Center to receive solar and battery backup

Facility can operate in case of citywide power failure

Excerpt from the NVN

At its Tuesday, Feb. 13, meeting, the council approved entering a contract with Sphere Solar for the equipment, materials, and installation of a solar and battery backup system at the Yelm Community Center. The contract will not exceed $316,800. 

“We finally have everything worked out with Sphere. We have a grant to pay for everything, along with a reimbursement now that the inflation act has allowed cities to claim the same reimbursement that homeowners can,” Public Works Director Cody Colt said. “This project comes at zero cost to the city at the end.”

He added the project will provide both solar and battery backup in case of a “major power failure.” 

“Now the community center can survive and keep being used for emergency services or other things for multiple days, if there’s sunlight, even longer,” Colt said. “It’s a really cool project to be able to do and provide a space we can use as an emergency center, if needed, or other options. It comes at zero cost for the city and will actually save us money over time because we now won’t have to pay a power bill.” 

The Jolt News with pertinent stories in our county!

Credit: The JOLT News.

Key stories pertinent to Yelm area readers

+ Presidential Primary Elections ballots on the way, observer training Thursday

Regular ballots for the upcoming election are set to be mailed on February 21.

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+ Thurston County invites applicants for advisory board, commission, committee positions

Individuals interested in applying or seeking further information about Thurston County’s boards, commissions, and committees are encouraged to visit the official county website.

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+ State auditors find 3 procedural lapses in probe into Sheriff’s Deputy suspect shooting death

Critical Incident Investigation Team concluded its probe on February 18, 2020, submitting its findings to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

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+ SPSCC to present three concerts this March

Admission is free for SPSCC students, staff, and faculty. For the general public, there is a suggested $15 donation at the door for admission.

Yelm Schools Board to vote Feb. 22 for another replacement levy –
If approved, would be on an April 23 special election ballot!

Superintendent Chris Woods speaks to the YCS school board members during a meeting on Jan. 25. Credit: Nisqually Valley News
  • Editor’s note: The addition of a YMCA bond proposed to be put to voters later this year could be in jeopardy after the poor Yelm Schools levy showing.

Yelm district could go out for another levy after latest fails

Significant cuts possible if proposition stalls twice

Excerpt from the Nisqually Valley News (NVN):

Yelm Community Schools (YCS) is facing a challenging situation after its measure to replace the education and operations levy failed in the Feb. 13 special election. 

Unofficial results on Friday, Feb. 15 show 2,746 voters, or 53.02%, opposed the proposition, with 2,433 voters, or 46.98% in support.

As a result of the shortcoming, YCS Superintendent Chris Woods said the school board will vote to put another replacement levy on the ballot for the April 23 special election at its next meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at the district office. The news of the proposition being shot down surprised Woods and others in the district.

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Woods added that the district’s first priority is to determine cost-saving measures for the remainder of the current school year and looking at what potential cuts could be made for next year if the second levy proposition also fails. He said the second proposition won’t be a repeat of the first one, however.



“It’s important for us to be asking questions and listening to the community about how they’re feeling, learning from them and taking suggestions,” he said. “We need to listen to community members and hear strict criticism.”

The levy makes up about 13% of the district’s budget, and YCS was slated to collect a maximum amount of $15.5 million in 2025 in the first year of the four-year levy, if approved. 

If the second levy is not approved, the district would have to cut funding for staffing, art and music programs, equipment, athletics, activities, and mental and physical health services. “Everything within the district is on the table” when it comes to potential cuts, according to Woods, but those discussions will begin at Thursday’s school board meeting. 

Two Yelm girls arrested for 5 Thurston County schools bomb threats!

Credit: Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page via KIRO-7 TV.

Juveniles arrested after bomb threats made to 5 Thurston County schools

“Two [Yelm] girls have been arrested and booked into juvenile detention in connection with a series of bomb threats made against area schools over the weekend, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.”

From KIRO-7 TV, Seattle:

Two juveniles were arrested on Tuesday suspected of making voicemail bomb threats over the weekend to five Thurston County schools.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office says they were contacted by Olympic View Elementary School staff on Tuesday reporting that a bomb threat was left on the school’s voicemail over the weekend.

During the investigation it was discovered that a similar threat was made to Mill Pond Elementary in Yelm.

TCSO partnered with the Yelm Police Department and together they were able to connect two juvenile suspects to both incidents.

The parents of both minors allowed law enforcement to look at the suspects’ phones where investigators found an app that was used to make the threats.

Investigators were then able to connect the two to three other similar threats at Rochester High School, Yelm Extension School and Ridgeline Middle School.

The juvenile suspects have refused to speak to law enforcement. Both have been booked into Thurston County Juvenile Detention.

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.

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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.

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