Yelm Community Blog

The White House and G.O.P. strike deal to avert default!

President Biden meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the Oval Office. The deal capped months of political brinkmanship and a marathon set of negotiations. Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times.

White House and G.O.P. Strike Debt Limit Deal to Avert

The bipartisan deal would raise the debt limit for two years while cutting and capping some government spending, a breakthrough after a marathon set of talks.

With the government on track to reach its borrowing limit within days, negotiators sealed an agreement to raise the debt ceiling for two years while cutting and capping certain federal programs.

Excerpt from The New York Times:

President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Saturday reached an agreement in principle to lift the debt limit for two years while cutting and capping some government spending over the same period, a breakthrough after a marathon set of crisis talks that has brought the nation within days of its first default in history.

Congressional passage of the plan before June 5, when the Treasury is projected to exhaust its ability to pay its obligations, is not assured, particularly in the House, which plans to consider it on Wednesday. Republicans hold a narrow majority in the chamber, and right-wing lawmakers who had demanded significantly larger budget cuts in exchange for lifting the borrowing limit were already in revolt.

But the compromise, which would effectively freeze federal spending that had been on track to grow, had the blessing of both the Democratic president and the Republican speaker, raising hopes that it could break the fiscal stalemate that has gripped Washington and the nation for weeks, threatening an economic crisis.

Mr. Biden urged the House and Senate to pass the agreement in a late-night statement issued by the White House, saying it would prevent a catastrophic default.


+ Common Dreams: Biden-GOP Debt Ceiling Deal Slashes Assistance Programs and Protects the Wealthy – The deal will impose new work requirements on benefits recipients while protecting the spiraling pentagon budget.

+ Daily Kos: Furious Freedom Caucus vows to scuttle debt deal

Pizzeria La Gitana’s ‘Basin Youth Baseball in Yelm’ fundraising Tuesday!

Credit: La Gitana’s Facebook post

Fundraising for ‘Basin Youth Baseball in Yelm’

Excerpt from La Gitana’s Facebook post:

TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2023 AT 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM

Pizzeria La Gitana Of Yelm

20% of all sales we be donated to Nisqually Basin Youth Baseball in Yelm so join us for our annual fundraiser this Tuesday May30th.

Dine in & Togo options available, all day long. Pizza, pasta, salads… 😋🔥❤️🍕🥗

Wild Waves Theme & Water Park opens 2023 season today!

Credit: Wild Waves Theme & Water Park

Wild Waves Theme & Water Park Announces 2023 Season Opening May 27

Exciting New Events, Food, Fun and Milestone Celebrations Await Guests This Season

Video and Photos Available at: Wild Waves Media Kit Dropbox

Wild Waves Theme & Water Park, Washington’s largest combination theme and water park, will open for the 2023 season May 27. The park will offer exciting, new events, delicious, new food options, and new games of skill. In addition, Wild Waves will commemorate the anniversary of two signature attractions, including the 20th anniversary of the  wooden roller coaster Timberhawk: Ride of Prey.

“As Seattle’s most iconic destination for classic thrills and nostalgic charm, we’re excited to welcome guests back for our 47th season of family fun,” said Park President and Regional VP Jody Kneupper. “We are committed to continually enhancing our park offerings, such as the rides, slides and experiences that bring families back year after year.”

New additions for the 2023 season include:

·       New Special Events: The park will expand its robust special events program with several new events, including the World’s Largest Coaster Ride June 16 in conjunction with the American Coaster Enthusiasts, the World’s Largest Swim Lesson June 22 in partnership with the World Waterpark Association, and Blast from the Past throwback weekends July 21 to 30 with live entertainment, music, prizes, special guests and more. Fan-favorite special events will return in 2023 including Dive-In Movies every Thursday from June through August; Wags N’ Waves dog swim event with “yappy” hour specials, July 4th Celebration Weekend, and the “family by day, fright by night” excitement of Fright Fest weekends in October. A full list of events can be found at;

·       New Season Pass Events: The park will celebrate its most loyal fans with four special events, beginning opening weekend May 27 to 29 with a limited-edition pin giveaway, while supplies last;

·       New Dining Options: Savory tacos, cool aguas frescas and creamy, new fudge flavors are among the additional food offerings this season; 

·       New Cashless Payments: For safer, easier transactions, Wild Waves will only accept card payments in 2023 with its new Cash-to-a-Card program. Restaurants, retail stores, games, ticket windows and parking booths will accept credit cards, cash-free cards and mobile payments. Guests visiting with cash can convert their payment to a debit card at multiple convenient kiosks throughout the park. Debit cards can be used for purchased inside and outside of the park; and

·       New Games: Guests can try their luck at a new fishing game, and kids can test their strength at a new, pint-sized “high striker.”

Park Will Highlight Ride Milestones in 2023

In celebration of the park’s rich history as a cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest, Wild Waves will commemorate a pair of attraction milestones in 2023:

·       Timberhawk: Ride of Prey, 20 years: The park’s thrilling and legendary wooden coaster stands seven and a half stories tall and reaches a top speed of 50 mph as it soars and swoops over 2,600 feet of twisting track; and

·       Timber Axe, 5 years: This dynamic, looping thrill ride propels passengers 70 feet into the air. Riders sit face-to-face as they dramatically rise and fall with every circular pass of the axe.

Memorial Sale Offers Special Pricing

Guests can splash into summer with big savings on tickets during the Memorial Sale beginning May 25. For a limited time, Wild Waves will offer one-day admission and a meal for only $59 plus tax. For just $10 more, guests can purchase a Season Pass with unlimited visits, special events and exciting perks all season long. Visit for more information.

Wild Waves Now Hiring for Summer Season

Wild Waves is looking for people with a passion for great guest service to join their team this summer. From lifeguards to food service, and security to cash control, select positions are available for those age 16 and up. Interested candidates can apply now at

Wild Waves will open weekends and select days beginning May 27, and begin daily operation June 16 (exclusions apply, please visit the operating calendar). Information regarding Wild Waves Theme & Water Park tickets, group outings, Season Passes and early Season Pass processing can be found at, by signing up for the park newsletter, and by following the park on social media.

Olympia ranked one of top places to visit in US this summer!

State Capitol Building overlooking Olympia. Credit: Bellingham Herald

Olympia ranked one of top places to visit in US this summer. Other WA cities made the cut

Excerpt from The Olympian via Yahoo!:

For the past few years, Americans have wondered when traveling will return to how it was during pre-pandemic times. Since the World Health Organization officially ending the global health emergency in early May and Washington state immediately followed suit, the upcoming season is shaping up to be the first real post-COVID summer since the 2020 outbreak.

Will the summer of 2023 really be the first real post-pandemic travel boom? AAA predicts that about 7% more travelers will be out and about than in the summer of 2022. During Memorial Day weekend alone, more than 42 million Americans are expected to travel.

Washingtonians will no doubt be looking to fill up their travel logs in the coming months. Travel blog Travel Lemming recently curated a list of America’s top 150 summer travel destinations, and several Washington state cities and locations are listed as top choices, with Olympia ranked as 10th-best.

Olympia summer events and travel spots

The travel site states “Washington’s capital city represents the best of the state,” highlighting its vibrant artistic community, performances at local theaters, and live downtown and summer festivals.

Olympia is also a great access point for much of western Washington’s diverse scenery, including rainforests, coastal beaches, state parks, national parks and more. The city rests on the southern shore of the Puget Sound, perfect for kayaking and boating. The following environments are around a two-hour or less drive from Olympia:

Yelm Farmers Market opens for the season Saturday!

Credit: Yelm Farmers Market on Facebook

Yelm Farmers Market Set to Open for Season on May 27 in New Location

Excerpt from the NVN:

The Yelm Farmers Market is set to return on Saturday, May 27, at a new location in front of the Yelm Police Station on McKenzie Street.

The market, which was previously held at the Yelm Community Center, allows local vendors the opportunity to sell their handcrafted items or homegrown food.

“We’re just hoping for a great year. It’s different for us because we’ve been in the same location for five years,” market organizer Jon Jamieson said. “It’ll be a new change being down the street, but we’re hoping for a good turnout and hoping to be in tune with some of the events we’ll coincide with at the community center, such as the Nisqually Valley Barbecue Rally and Prairie Days. We’re hoping this new location works out.”

Jamieson said the city decided to rent out the Yelm Community Center to other events like weddings or gatherings. Since the Yelm Farmers Market is a nonprofit organization, Jamieson said they couldn’t afford the rent there.

Yelm’s Ma & Pa’s Family Diner features delicious food and comfort!

Ma and Pa's Family Diner owners and couple Bam and Jenny Robinson standing outside the restaurant doors
Ma and Pa’s Family Diner owners and couple Bam and Jenny Robinson worked together to reach their dream of owning a restaurant and business. Photo credit: Dones Williams via Thurston Talk.

Ma & Pa’s broken into – again!

From Ma And Pa’s Family Diner on Facebook:

Hey folks . This is the second break in In two months . I’m pretty worried that it might not stop happening to the people in our city . Me and my wife and our staff work very hard to keep this place going . Thank you family and true friends for your support for my family and our family owned business.

This is the Second time in the past few months we have been broken into I miss our some quiet town this is what happens when we start to loss our small town standards  ·

Ma and Pa’s Family Diner in Yelm Provides Delicious Food and Comfort

Excerpt from Thurston Talk:

Owners Jenny Smith and Bahmon (Bam) Robinson started their humble beginnings at Jenny’s Barnhouse in McKenna, Washington, which they rented from a mutual work connection. It was there that they began working towards their dreams.

“It wasn’t my dream to have my own restaurant, it was her dream.” Bam says.
I just wanted my own business. I didn’t want to work for somebody. It just kind of fell into my lap with her.”They shared different visions, but worked together to achieve the same goal that would benefit their family and the community.

Before taking ownership of Jenny’s Barnhouse, Jenny was waiting tables and Bam was working in a lumberyard, which made their transition to business owners a financially difficult journey.


Family-Friendly Dining in Yelm

After the couple saved up enough money at Jenny’s Barnhouse, word of mouth and helpful connections helped them make the move. “Everybody gave us a chance, so we’ve been very fortunate with people giving us opportunities,” shares Bam. “They heard we were doing good at the Barnhouse, they knew both of us, so it opened the door. We wouldn’t have gotten it.”

Jenny always dreamt of owning her own restaurant and the Ma and Pa’s Diner location had a special significance for her. “This used to be my mom’s place,” Jenny shares. “It was a little café, and she had it for a couple of years.”

Yelm Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter’s Ileana Wall wins award!

Ileana Wall, center, of the Yelm Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter accepts her award for winning the 2023 Washington FFA state championship for extemporaneous speaker this past weekend in Kennewick. Photo courtesy of Washington FFA Association. Credit: The Chronicle (Centralia).

FFA Members From Lewis and Thurston Counties Earn Accolades, Leadership Positions at State Convention

Excerpt from The Chronicle via Yahoo!:

[Mother’s Day] weekend, the Washington Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association held its 93rd convention and expo at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick to hand out accolades to FFA members from chapters throughout the state and choose state representatives.


Ileana Wall of the Yelm FFA chapter was awarded the 2023 state championship for extemporaneous speaker for demonstrating her ability to deliver impromptu public speeches. Yelm FFA chapter adviser Nik Grimm said contestants vying to win extemporaneous speaker do not get their speech topic prompts until 30 minutes before they present.


The FFA is a nonprofit youth organization focused on preparing its members for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more information, visit

To view more photos from the convention and expo, visit the FFA’s flickr page at

Yelm Planning Commissioner John Graver’s letter to the public!

John Graver. Credit:

Yelm Planning Commissioner John Graver pens letter to the public

From the Letter to the NVN Editor:

For those that don’t know there is a Creative District Task Force for Yelm, the name is a little heavy, but it is a committed group of people that want to help Yelm continue being a place where people of Yelm, and outside of the area, want to come to shop, dine and basically hang out.

This group has a survey anyone can take that will give your voice input as to what Yelm will look like and act like.

With your help, Yelm can continue to grow as a destination city and give you some places to go to.

At the bottom of the City of Yelm’s website at, there is a link to a short survey.

John Graver,



About John Graver:

Started my real estate career late 1974 just after graduating college. Became a broker in 1978,
became a principal broker of 3 Hawaiian offices in 1980. Have worked all facets of real estate,
from individual buyers and sellers to government purchases and sales.
I now am part owner of Windermere Real Estate Yelm. I have a wonderful group of agents that
work extremely hard to satisfy and complete the clients goals if I or one of my team can help
please don’t hesitate to call or email. I also have the largest property management company in
the area so we can help your clients with renting there investment or finding them a place to
move into.

2 former Alabama governors call out the death penalty!

Credit: Washington Post staff illustration; iStock

We oversaw [Alabama] executions as governor. We regret it.

By Robert Bentley and Don Siegelman

Posted in The Washington Post [printed here with permission from Gov. Siegelman]:

Robert Bentley, a Republican, served as governor of Alabama from 2011 to 2017. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, was governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003.


Alabama currently has 167 people on death row, a greater number per capita than any other state. As far as the two of us are concerned, that is at least 146 people too many. Here’s why.

As former Alabama governors, we have come over time to see the flaws in our nation’s justice system and to view the state’s death penalty laws in particular as legally and morally troubling. We both presided over executions while in office, but if we had known then what we know now about prosecutorial misconduct, we would have exercised our constitutional authority to commute death sentences to life.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1976, nationwide, one person on death row has been exonerated for every 8.3 executions. That means we have been getting it wrong about 12 percent of the time. If we apply those statistics to the 167 people on Alabama’s death row, it means that as many as 20 could have been wrongfully charged and convicted.

The DPIC has found that wrongful convictions are “overwhelmingly the product of police or prosecutorial misconduct or the presentation of knowingly false testimony.” Judge Alex Kozinski, former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, has said the withholding of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors is “epidemic” in the United States. Shamefully, such misconduct most frequently involves Black defendants (87 percent).

Alabama has not been spared miscarriages of justice. The first known exoneration from the state’s death row was of Walter McMillian, whose case was highlighted by Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson in his book “Just Mercy.” But there are other death row convictions that should haunt Alabama’s leaders.

In 1998, a non-unanimous jury convicted Toforest Johnson of killing an off-duty sheriff’s deputy based on the testimony of someone who, unknown to the defense, was later paid a $5,000 reward. The case of Rocky Myers, convicted of murdering his neighbor, is even more disturbing. Myers was never connected to the murder scene, and even though the jury recommended life without parole, the judge overrode the recommendation and ordered his execution.

One of us, Don Siegelman, is personally haunted by the case of Freddie Wright, whose execution he could have commuted, but did not, in 2000. Twenty-three years later, Siegelman believes Wright was wrongfully charged, prosecuted and convicted for a murder he most likely did not commit.

Since 1976, when the Supreme Court granted prosecutors immunity from civil liability, it has been common for prosecutors to get close to 99 percent of the indictments they seek from grand juries. One reason for this is that grand juries are secret proceedings, with no lawyers present and no judge to oversee what prosecutors are doing. In this stealth setting, prosecutors have free rein to present false testimony or false evidence, or to withhold exculpatory evidence to get the outcome they want.

Before 1976, the U.S. incarceration figure hovered around 200,000. After 1976, the number skyrocketed to more than 1.6 million. With the legal cover of the 1976 decision, President Barack Obama’s solicitor general argued to the Supreme Court in January 2010 that “U.S. citizens do not have a constitutional right not to be framed.” Ending unjust convictions will involve rethinking prosecutorial immunity.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that a unanimous verdict is required to convict someone of a capital crime warranting death. The court highlighted the racist underpinnings of non-unanimous verdicts as a Jim Crow practice dating from the 1870s. Alabama had been the only state to allow a person to be sentenced to death by this legal relic and currently has 115 people scheduled to die based on non-unanimous jury verdicts. Because the court’s ruling didn’t explicitly extend to the sentencing phase, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), using “tough on crime” rhetoric, recently signed a law that now allows a jury to recommend a death sentence on an 8-4 vote.

Alabama was also the last state to ban judicial overrides, a practice whereby judges were able to overrule jury verdicts of life without parole and order death. The Equal Justice Initiative had raised a concern about this practice, finding that “the proportion of death sentences imposed by override had often been elevated in election years.” Judicial overrides accounted for 7 percent of death sentences in a nonelection year but rose to 30 percent when Alabama judges ran for election.

In 2017, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed a law banning judicial overrides. But it was not applied retroactively, so 31 Alabamans, including Myers, are still scheduled to die based on this outlawed practice.

Alabama is one of 27 states that still retain the death penalty. Of those, 14 have not conducted an execution in 10 years, according to the DPIC, and the governors of five states (Arizona, California, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania) have said they will not perform an execution during their terms.

As governors, we had the power to commute the sentences of all those on Alabama’s death row to life in prison. We no longer have that constitutional power, but we feel that careful consideration calls for commuting the sentences of the 146 prisoners who were sentenced by non-unanimous juries or judicial override, and that an independent review unit should be established to examine all capital murder convictions.

We missed our chance to confront the death penalty and have lived to regret it, but it is not too late for today’s elected officials to do the morally right thing.

Please keep sharing!

God Bless,

Gov Siegelman

Shawn Jemtegaard memorial honored fallen Thurston Youth Football Coach.

A memorial for Shawn Jemtegaard was held at Yelm High School on Sunday, May 21.
Credit: Jacob Dimond,
Nisqually Valley News

Hundreds Gather in Memory of Fallen Thurston County Youth Football Coach

‘He Had a Passion That Was Hard to Find and Near Impossible to Duplicate’

Excerpt from The Chronicle (Centralia):

Shawn Jemtegaard’s family members, friends, colleagues, and youth football athletes gathered at Yelm High School on Sunday, May 21, to honor his life and memory during a memorial service.

Jemtegaard was shot and killed on April 22 near Hawks Prairie after an alleged “road rage” incident, according to reports.

The memorial service was highlighted by stories and words of encouragement, while roses were placed on the 50-yard line.

The former Thurston County Youth Football League (TCYFL) coach was memorialized at the high school’s field and stadium, where his sons and team played football. Several hundred people made their way into the stands prior to the start of the memorial.


Two separate GoFundMe campaigns for the Jemtegaard family have raised over $48,000.

Click here and here

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