Sunday, August 21, 2016

Love our Local Fest 2016


Above:  The Psychedelic Shadow Show was one of ten bands who entertained vendors and street fair goers at Love our Local Fest, held in the northeast Olympia neighborhood on Sunday. The group plays throughout the Shelton-Olympia area, or “Shelympia” as lead singer Carolyn Malanowski called it after her gig, as she bought a few goodies from the 8 Arms Bakery booth. Groovy.

By Janine Gates

Old friends hugged and spent the day catching up on old times, from afternoon through evening at the Love our Local Fest on Olympia’s northeast neighborhood on Sunday. What a long, strange trip it's been....

Plenty of new relationships were formed too as friends introduced friends and volunteers of local nonprofits explained the missions of their groups to newcomers.

Gathered around Bethel Street and San Francisco Avenue in front of the San Francisco Street Bakery and Roosevelt Elementary School, the annual event was filled with great community vibes, music, locally made food, arts, and crafts. 

Nearly 20 local sponsors, and tens of vendors helped make it all possible.

Above: Gita Moulton demonstrates her weaving skills as passersby watch her create a new guitar strap for City of Olympia Councilmember Clark Gilman, who stopped by her booth and put in his order. Gita also had key fobs, belts, dog leashes, and yoga mat straps for sale.

Above: City of Olympia councilmember Jeannine Roe sampled a handmade cream at Beth Mathew’s booth. Her business, Nature Nouveau, features vegan, cruelty-free, non comedogenic products free of synthetics, and can be found at the West Olympia Farmer’s Market at West Central Park, open for the season until October 11, on the corner of Harrison and Division on Tuesdays, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Above: Bev Bassett of the Olympia Confronting the Climate Crisis group explains her group's activities and gets more mileage out of a float that wasn’t allowed in the Capital Lakefair parade earlier this year. Nearby, Dave Peeler of the Deschutes River Restoration Team handed out beautiful, new Deschutes River Watershed Guide programs and Yestuary! bumperstickers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Former Sundberg Property About 900 feet from Suspected Olympia Fault Line


Olympia’s Critical Areas Ordinance Updated, Gaps Remain

Above: Looking like Eastern Washington, the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine in Olympia as viewed on Wednesday from a surveyed county road and right of way called North Road, looking toward Grove Street and 20th Avenue. Cooper Point Road is to the west.Sitting on a critical aquifer recharge area, the property has been dramatically and illegally altered for decades, and features mounds of disturbed soil about 30 to 40 feet high.

Repeated requests to the property owner and his representatives by Little Hollywood to tour the property by the city's first public comment deadline of Friday, August 19 have not been acknowledged. 

By Janine Gates

The Olympia city council passed a critical areas ordinance on Tuesday evening that improves the last one, updated in 2004 and 2005, but it still has a long way to go.

As identified in a March 2016 memo to the city by its consultants, ESA Associates, of Seattle, says Olympia’s critical area ordinance still contains gaps.

The critical areas ordinance is required by the Growth Management Act (GMA), and the version passed mostly clarifies terms, streamlines code, and ensures consistency with the city’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan.

Critical areas are considered to be wetlands, critical aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas.

The areas covered by the update are drinking water wellhead protection areas, habitats and species, streams and riparian areas, wetlands and small lakes, and landslide hazard areas.

A nine member working group met on July 26 to start identifying locally important species and habitats. Some species and habitats are known and others may be identified and considered through public workshops and meetings.

The first public workshop is scheduled for September.

“We expected to have this one meeting with this group but ran out of time so will be having a follow-up meeting, tentatively scheduled for Aug 29. 

After that meeting, our consultant will synthesize the technical information, comments and best practices into general recommendations for protection options, which will be the basis of the presentation to the public in September,” said Linda Bentley, senior planner for the City of Olympia, in an email on Wednesday to Little Hollywood.

The group’s membership and meeting minutes for the July 26 meeting have not yet been posted to the city’s critical area ordinance webpage but were obtained by request from staff.

The group’s two environmental organization representatives are Sam Merrill of the Black Hills Audubon Society and Daniel Einstein of Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation. 

The group also includes Theresa Nation of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, a representative from Thurston County, three from the City of Olympia, and two of the city’s consultants.

Final recommendations for revising the code are scheduled to go to the city council in November.

Gaps Identified

Gaps in the city’s critical area ordinance include the fact that the city relies on the National Wetland Inventory and does not maintain any local mapping of delineated or potential wetlands. Several wetland model codes, categories, and buffer effectiveness guidelines were found to be outdated, and there was a general lack of alternative mitigation measures for wetland impacts.

In general, ESA Associates says that although the city has complete and reliable data for some critical areas, mapping for other areas are missing or incomplete.

For example, the city uses soils data to map steep slopes, but has not mapped any seismic hazards, severe erosion hazard areas, landslide hazards, or subsidence hazards, if present.

Green Cove Basin Concerns

Clearing up those gaps and areas of concern area can’t come soon enough for some residents of the Green Cove Basin area in west Olympia, as developers seem to know the city’s vulnerabilities. 

Multiple proposed land use applications for developments in the Basin are in progress. 

The Green Cove Basin is in the Eld Inlet watershed and contains steep slopes, ravines and canyons. Roughly bounded by Cooper Point Road on the east, Mud Bay Road on the south, Overhulse Road on the west, and Sunset Beach Drive on the north, it is protected by a 1998 Thurston County Comprehensive Plan. 

The area has been mapped as a critical aquifer recharge area by the county, but the city has not actually yet defined a critical aquifer recharge area, and instead relies on an identified wellhead protection area to serve the same purpose.

“Areas of ‘extreme’ aquifer susceptibility are mapped by the county as occurring near the city limits indicating similar unmapped areas of aquifer susceptibility may be present in the city,” says the ESA Associates report.

Property developer Jerry Mahan recently submitted a land use application to the city to convert the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine into a 177 single family housing development called Green Cove Park on the City of Olympia’s westside.

The exact area of this proposed development is labelled by Thurston County as an “extreme” aquifer recharge area.

Above: Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, gave an informative presentation about the history of earthquakes in the South Sound area at the annual meeting of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum in January. A maximum capacity crowd heard the presentation and many expressed that they were unaware that a fault runs under Olympia.

Olympia Fault Line Near Sundberg Property

The city has not mapped the city’s seismic hazards, and, as it turns out, the whole 104 acre former Sundberg sand and gravel mine property appears on county and state maps as being very near an earthquake fault line that runs through Thurston County.

So near, it’s about 900 feet from the property, and within about a half mile of the top of the hill on 20th Avenue near the proposed Parkside development on Cooper Point Road.

Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources gave a presentation about the fault at the annual meeting of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum in the Coach House of the State Capitol Museum in January.

“We call it the Olympia structure but some people call it the Olympia fault,” said Walsh.

Walsh said it was initially identified on the basis of geophysical information. There is also paleoseismic data in support of an Olympia fault.

About 50 miles long, it was first mapped in 1965. In 1985, it was mapped from Shelton, near the Olympic foothills, southeast to Olympia, under the State Legislative Building, directly under the town of Rainier, to a point due east of the Doty fault, and apparently marking the northeastern limit of a band of southeast-striking faults in the Centralia– Chehalis area.

In 1998 a geologist saw enough similarity with the Seattle fault to speculate that it is a thrust fault.

Geologists Jack Odum and Bill Stephenson have also done seismic profiling along Steamboat Island Road and have made some interpretations of the Olympia structure to conclude that it is quite likely a fault.

Above: A close up of a slide by Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, showing the trajectory of the Olympia fault crossing  the area of Cooper Point and Eld Inlet very near the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine property. Click on image to enlarge.

Editor's Note, August 23: Please read note of clarification by Tim Walsh in the comment section under this article. 

Full Disclosure: Janine Gates is on the board of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum and heard Tim Walsh's presentation, along with a capacity crowd.

To read past stories about this land use proposal and other related Green Cove Basin developments, Parkside, and BranBar, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and use the search button to type in key words.

For updated information about the Green Cove Park development, go to the City of Olympia website at www.olympiawa.gov or contact Cari Hornbein, City of Olympia Senior Planner, phone: (360) 753-8048, email: chornbei@ci.olympia.wa.us. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Former Sundberg Mining Pit Proposed For Housing Development


Owner seeks release from state Department of Natural Resources to clean up property 

Recent Illegal Grading, Other Activity Prompts Permit Violation Action

Neighborhood Meeting Draws 40 Concerned Community Members

Above: A housing development is proposed at the vacant site of the former Sundberg Sand and Gravel mine on Olympia’s westside near Cooper Point Road NW, between 20th Avenue NW and 28th Avenue NW.  Neighbors are quickly organizing to learn more about the proposed project, which is in the critical aquifer recharge area of Green Cove Basin.

By Janine Gates
Another Green Cove Basin Land Use Investigation

A land use application for a housing development was submitted to the City of Olympia on July 31 to develop a portion of the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine on Cooper Point Road NW between 28th Avenue NW and 20th Avenue NW.

Property owner Jerry Mahan proposes to subdivide about 50 acres into 177 single family homes and related needs such as open space, stormwater and wetland buffers. The project is proposed to be accessed via Cooper Point Road NW and Grove Street NW.  

To accommodate the development, improvements for Cooper Point Road by installing a center turn lane and a pedestrian pathway, and street improvements to Grove Street are in the plan.

The proposed project, called Green Cove Park, lies squarely in one of the most extreme critical aquifer recharge areas of the Green Cove Basin.

The property is zoned Residential Low Impact (RLI), the only area, along with the nearby BranBar property, in the City of Olympia with the RLI designation. The zoning is a remnant designation from when the area was annexed from Thurston County in 2006.

The property has been dramatically, and illegally, altered throughout the years and Mahan has received multiple letters from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for violating state laws related to unpermitted backfilling and soil disturbance activities.

Mahan, of Puyallup, is a longtime agent at John L Scott Real Estate. His nonresidential building operator business, Jerry Mahan Communities, founded in 2011, lists annual revenue of $260,000 and three employees. As a homebuilder and developer, he has built over 500 homes and developed over 1,000 lots, say his online profiles.

The applicant, who has owned the property since 2006, intends to start development in June 2017.


Above: Craig Deaver speaks about the proposed Green Cove Park housing development at a community meeting on Thursday evening at Olympia city hall.

Neighborhood Concerns

A neighborhood meeting for the proposal was held on Thursday at Olympia City Hall. About 40 individuals, including three city staff, were in attendance. The meeting was billed as a courtesy for the public to meet the applicant, learn about the project, and discuss community concerns.

Craig Deaver and Lori Harvey of C.E.S. NW, Inc., a civil engineering firm, represented the applicant and answered questions for about an hour and a half. 

As is typical for land use cases, the city will use a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist to determine whether the project will impact the environment. At the meeting, City of Olympia senior city planner Cari Hornbein said that determination will be made in the next few weeks.

The first formal public comment period for the project ends at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 19.

Concerns were expressed about the property's history as an illegal dumping ground, the area’s environmental sensitivity as a critical aquifer recharge area, and the cumulative impact of the project in an area that is seeing several other proposed housing projects.

Increased traffic and pedestrian safety were also of concern, as nearly 1,700 new vehicle trips per day are estimated to be on neighborhood roads as a result of this project. The area has no sidewalks and there are significant visual barriers due to the steep grade of area streets, especially 20th Avenue. That street becomes Elliott Avenue at the intersection meeting Division Street, an area that neighbors say is already dangerous.

The nearest grocery store is Safeway, about 1.7 miles away. The project is on the Intercity Transit bus line.

Above: The Sundberg property, which has a clear, northwest view of the Olympic Mountains, as seen from a proposed entryway on Grove Street NW off 20th Avenue. Grove Street is a quiet, little street with few houses.

Those who took the time to attend the community meeting commented that the city’s calendar system for meetings and options for public involvement and review of already submitted materials is antiquated.

While the applicant's thick geotechnical reports, soil analysis, wetland, and other studies were in paper form on the back table, none are yet online. One man commented that he wants to access GIS shape files so individuals can do their own analysis of historic data and future plans of all developments for the area.

Applicant representatives often responded to community questions by suggesting that they must make public records requests to the state Department of Ecology to get information.

City of Olympia senior planner Cari Hornbein got the message that this project is already generating great community interest and said she will likely be setting up a separate webpage for it on the city website, similar to the proposed Trillium project in southeast Olympia.

“I came to the meeting and saw there were virtually no handouts...I was surprised. I asked staff if they were going to be putting the documents about the proposed development that were on the back table online. I was initially told that the documents might have to be obtained through a records request.  I think they judged that this might not be optimum and quickly said they would be put online,” said Judy Bardin, a former city planning commissioner who attended the meeting, and asked about street connectivity issues within the development and length of the proposed streets.

Hornbein also said she would contact state Department of Fish and Wildlife representatives after one person expressed concern for hawks and chicks seen nesting near the property.

Sundberg Property: Dumping, Permit Violations

This is not the first time property owner Jerry Mahan has sought to do something with his property. This is in fact the fifth time. Each time, Mahan has walked away from his proposals.

In 2015, the last time Mahan presented a proposal to the city, it was under the name Westbrook Investments. His proposed development, Sundberg Estates, would have platted 157 single family homes.

According to city documents, Mahan’s company was called Canterwood Investments when he first started the Sundberg Estates project in 2007, proposing to subdivide 59.60 acres into 204 residential lots.

Mahan’s representatives pulled the plug on the project in 2008, according to city documents obtained by Little Hollywood, after they were unable to get a time extension from the City of Olympia to collect and interpret groundwater data in order to refine the overall drainage design and its impacts to the project.

Mahan’s representatives requested that the application be withdrawn, and received a 50 percent refund of the original application fee, per Olympia Municipal Code.

Time and again, alert neighbors have presented the city with weighty public health and safety information regarding the property. They’ve also presented historical information that illustrates discrepancies in Mahan’s permits and paperwork. 

To move forward with a development this time, Mahan intends to seek the cancellation of a reclamation permit and release of a performance bond from the state Department of Natural Resources, according to a memo by Mahan to the City of Olympia dated March 21, 2016.

A reclamation permit means Mahan, who has owned the property since 2006, is supposed to dig out everything on the property that isn’t supposed to be there. And that’s a lot.

Recent, numerous inspection letters from the state Department of Natural Resources speak to perpetually late annual reports, stop work orders, repeated violations of state RCWs due to illegal grading inside and outside the permitted areas, the importing of fill, and construction debris and soil stockpiles observed outside the permit area. 

"Piles of imported soils have been graded flat and pushed over the mined highwall. The mine floor also had some grade work done that filled the stormwater ditches that existed in the central permit are. The culverts remained in the northern permit boundary berm but were filled with material....The site has not been approved for import or backfill and the current work is in conflict with the voluntary stop work in the unpermitted area...." reads an October 16, 2015 report by state Department of Natural Resources staff.

As a result of repeated permit violations, Mahan’s performance security bond to DNR has steadily increased due to the increased disturbed areas.

In fact, Mahan’s own geotechnical report says that there is so much old fill and debris on site, that one option, to support foundations, would be to use pin piles. Pin piles are small, hollow, steel pipes that are mechanically driven into the ground.

As of August 10, Mahan still has not received the cancellation of the reclamation permit by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

If he is released from that obligation, then the City of Olympia is on the hook, legally and financially, for the cleanup of the property.

Incredibly, the state Department of Ecology issued Mahan a sand and gravel general permit on February 17, 2016, based on information Mahan provided in his application. The effective date of the new permit was April 1, 2016 and expires in 2021. The sand and gravel mine is inactive.

Ecology called the February 17 permit a “reissue” of the permit, but state DNR staff who frequently inspect the site, discovered, in 2015, that they had issued a previous permit in 2014 in error. The permit file, and error, reaches back to 1972 when the permit was initially issued.

Mahan appeared to get the permit from Ecology because he was cited by DNR on August 7, 2015 for not having one in the proper location of the property.

Where the application asks if the site is within a critical aquifer recharge area, the box is checked no, however, the property is within a critical aquifer recharge area, according to 1998 Thurston County Storm and Surface Water Program maps, and is in the Green Cove Creek Drainage Basin.

When asked about the permit by Little Hollywood during Thursday night’s city meeting, Deaver said he didn’t know about how the boxes were checked, and that Mahan sought the permit to fall back on in case the housing development does not go through.

City of Olympia senior planner Cari Hornbein said that the RLI zoning does not allow a sand and gravel operation.

Little Hollywood has a one page, simply worded and neatly typed 12 point reclamation plan signed by Theodore Sundberg in 1979, which apparently has yet to be fulfilled.

“The subsequent use of the land will be for housing. This will be an asset to the surrounding property and no opposition has been made,” the plan says. Sundberg, who has passed away, expected the plan to be completed two years after completion of surface mining activities.

Instead, the property, which has recently been fenced on Cooper Point Road, became a known dumping site of fill, woody debris, recycled concrete, bricks and asphalt, and maybe worse, from area projects, some say for decades.

Putting the issue aside that it is unclear whether or not Mahan, as the current owner, has a valid sand and gravel permit, Mahan’s company is in violation of that permit, according to a letter by the state DNR.

The department inspected the mine on May 5, and found it in violation of five RCW’s related to unpermitted backfilling and disturbances outside of the approved reclamation permit boundary. The letter says the conditions must be corrected no later than July 4, 2016.

Asked by Little Hollywood during Thursday's meeting whether these corrections have been made, Deaver said that they have, and those corrections are currently under review by DNR. 

Deaver admitted that the permits need to be “tidied up.”

Environmental Concern for Green Cove Basin

The Green Cove Basin is roughly bounded by Cooper Point Road on the east, Mud Bay Road on the south, Overhulse Road on the west, and Sunset Beach Drive on the north. The Eld Inlet and Budd Inlet watershed boundary line meanders through the area of the Sundberg property.

The Basin is protected by a 1998 Thurston County Comprehensive Plan and has been mapped as a critical aquifer recharge area with three classes: extreme, high, and moderate.

The area of the proposed Green Cove Park is in an area labeled “extreme.”

The site of another proposed housing development of over 60 single family homes, Parkside, on the opposite side of Cooper Point Road, west of the proposed Green Cove Park, is designated “high,” according to Thurston County maps.

During the city meeting, applicant representative Craig Deaver said the project’s wetland and stormwater retention plans “mimic the site conditions as if it is forested,” and will ensure that water levels “more than matches historic flows.” He also insisted that the site was clean of hazardous materials.

Someone who scoffed at those assertions and doesn’t need to be told about the geology of the property is west Olympia resident Jim Elliott. Elliott attended the city meeting on Thursday evening and said he is an eyewitness to “decades of dumping atrocities” at the site.

Elliott, 88, lives near the former Sundberg property, and is a wealth of first-hand information about the area. His family homesteaded the area in 1922, and he grew up near the corner of what is now Cooper Point Road and 20th Avenue.

The Sundberg property was owned by Elliott's family before Theodore "Ted" Sundberg bought it in 1938. Little by little, Sundberg worked his way up to owning 104 acres.

As for area hydrology, Elliott says there was so much water coming off the hillside from what was Elliott Avenue, now 20th Avenue, that his father and uncle dug a four foot ditch from the edge of what is now the Sundberg property on Cooper Point Road to the house on the corner of Cooper Point Road and 20th Avenue, to channel the water. They also put down cedar puncheons so cattle could walk through the property without getting bogged down.

Elliott is worried. He has witnessed scores of dump trucks unloading dirt and debris from area projects and believes the site is not clean.

“They won’t listen to anybody, and I’ve grown up and lived around there. If they only knew what’s buried up there, but they don’t know, and they’re not going to dig it up,” Elliott says of any city, county, or state authority purporting to protect the environment of the area.

“Something else kind of bugs me….Every time they submit an application for development, why do they change their name all the time?” asked Elliott about Mahan’s multiple limited liability companies.

Jerry Dierker, Jr., who also lives near the former Sundberg property, claims he was exposed to hazardous gas coming from contaminated materials, dumped there, he alleges, by Port of Olympia contractors in January 2015. 

He says he saw the materials, several blocks, sized 4’ x 6’ x 12’, covered with concrete and perhaps some chemical, and are used at Port of Olympia’s Swantown Boat Works. Dierker said he got within 300 feet of them and his throat started burning, and his mouth felt blistered.

Dierker immediately reported the incident to the state Department of Ecology, saying he knew the blocks had been placed there within the last four to five months of the incident.

Dierker says portions of the property were also used by the Port of Olympia to store creosote soaked pilings and hazardous wood waste from the contaminated Cascade Pole area of Budd Inlet from 1957 to 1990.

Dierker has recently addressed the Olympia city council during the public comment period to report the harm done to him as a result of the exposure.

An email by Mahan to the state Department of Natural Resources dated February 25, 2015 acknowledges that Mahan knew materials were recently being dumped on site and said he would direct the person to discontinue the activity. He also said he was moving toward a preliminary plat and would soon be requesting a grading permit.

Roger Robinson, another neighbor who lives near the proposed development and attended the meeting, has tracked activity on the property for 17 years. He has also witnessed dumping first-hand and reported it to several city and state entities in March 2015. With a city official, he even followed the dump trucks to and from the sites.

He is most worried about water quality.

“About 400 dump trucks of waste have been brought into the property over the years. In order to build, they have to go through the city and they don’t have the science. If the city is using Thurston County’s old maps of the area, they have to use 1998 science to go forward. Technically, it’s a health hazard. They’ve spread that stuff all around. What if they break through the aquifer? That’s our drinking water. Why are they gambling with our water? They are ignoring all the contamination and we need to hold the city to task. Do the science, wetland reports, and soil tests. We want the city to conform and comply with state laws,” Robinson demanded, in an interview with Little Hollywood prior to the city meeting.

Above: Roger Robinson took matters into his own hands and prepared soil and debris samples procured at the former site of the Sundberg Sand and Gravel Mine to present to city officials at the neighborhood meeting Thursday evening. Here, he shows his samples to City of Olympia principal planner Tim Smith in charge of the city's State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) determination for the Green Cove Park development. Robinson wants the City of Olympia to use SEPA in the way it’s supposed to be used – as a tool to guide a thorough investigation into the historic and current condition of the site prior to potential development.

About an exhibit he labeled Exhibit C, Robinson said, “It looks like dirt but it’s not. It’s been out there three years and nothing grows on it.” He left that one as is, but Robinson added water to the other samples and dared city officials to drink it if they considered the Sundberg site cleaned up” and fit for housing as the property owner believes.

Cumulative Impacts: Parkside, BranBar and More

In an update on the proposed Parkside land use application, the applicant responded to the city in early July with a set of revisions. The next step is a public hearing in front of a city hearing examiner, set for August 22, 6:30 p.m., in the city council chambers at Olympia city hall.

In the BranBar site specific rezone case, the hearing examiner ruled in favor of the applicant, Brandon Anderson, of Branbar, LLC on August 8. The decision is not appealable, and now goes to city council to determine what process to use for considering the recommendation.

The BranBar property is also in the Green Cove Basin and mapped by Thurston County as a critical aquifer recharge area labeled “high.”

With the rezone, a land use housing development proposal of about 20 single family homes will likely follow.

For past articles and photos about Parkside, BranBar, Green Cove Basin, and explanations about SEPA, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com, and type key words into the search engine.

For updated information about these developments, go to the City of Olympia website at www.olympiawa.gov or contact Cari Hornbein, City of Olympia Senior Planner, phone: (360) 753-8048, email: chornbei@ci.olympia.wa.us. The file number for the Green Cove Park project is 16-9025.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thurston County Fair 2016



Above: Elizabeth Ware, 16, of Rochester, relaxes with her pigs, Cinnamon, who weighs 248 pounds, and Spice, (not shown), who weighs 275 pounds, at the Thurston County Fair on opening day Wednesday. They are about seven months old. Youth exhibiting their animals at the fair are eager to share their knowledge - ask them questions! The fair runs August 3 - 7.

By Janine Gates

The Thurston County Fair, which runs from August 3 – 7, is a microcosm of just some of the tremendous talents, interests, politics, businesses, food, and music the county has to offer. 

The first Thurston County Fair was held in 1871 at Columbia Hall, now the Fourth Ave Tav, in downtown Olympia, and was called the Mutual Aid Fair, aimed to help farmers and agriculture, and to aid the development of our area by encouraging immigration.

It moved around, and later, was held in Tumwater on Cleveland Avenue, (where the Safeway is today), Chehalis, Lacey, (where the post office is today), Tenino, (where the elementary school is today), and the South Bay Grange. Finally, it settled in 1958 at 3054 Carpenter Road SE in Lacey, near Long Lake, where it is located today.

Elizabeth Ware, 16, of Rochester, will show the beauty and health of her pigs, Cinnamon and Spice, before judges on Friday, aa three year member of the National FFA Organization, a youth leadership organization better known by its former name, Future Farmers of America. 

She'll wear clean, neat clothes, and demonstrate her ability to follow the orders of the judge and control her animals, gently guiding them with a stick. 

There's a lot of responsibility and work involved in raising farm animals. Besides feeding and mucking out the pen every day, you must always think of your animals before yourself and provide accurate recordkeeping for an animal that is going to auction. 

For Ware, this includes tracking the animal's initial cost, its purchase weight, current weight, pounds gained per day, pounds of grain fed, cost of the grain and hay, including bedding, and miscellaneous costs such as veterinary bills. 

Total all that up, and hopefully, you'll make a profit when you sell the animal. Then, you'll reinvest your money and start all over again. 

“I love it…I have a bond with my animals,” said Ware. That bond also extends to the butchering of her animals for consumption, as she did last week. 

A few pig facts: Pigs are excellent swimmers, very intelligent and social, have a good sense of direction, have over 20 vocalizations, and run up to 11 miles per hour. Pigs have been used to sniff out landmines.

Contrary to myth, pigs eat slowly, are very clean, and do not like to sit in mud. They do not have sweat glands and roll in mud to cool off. 

Above: You know you want them - warm, slightly crunchy, deep fried, caramel drenched apple rings.

On the food front, warm, slightly crunchy, deep fried, caramel drenched apple rings were served up Wednesday at the Thurston County Republican food booth by 19 year old political newcomer Donald Austin, who is running with the Republican Party for State Representative Position #1.

Austin, a student at South Puget Sound Community College who is taking prerequisite classes toward a computer science degree, said it was hard to sleep after beating out three other Democratic candidates in the primary election last night. 

He will now face Democrat Laurie Dolan for the position. He said his goals are to promote the economy, create a fair and balanced education plan, and keep the Legislature from passing a state income tax. 

Asked if he supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Austin said he has a lot of problems with Trump. 

“I won’t support a lot of things about Trump – he has a history of supporting the Democratic Party, he’s friends with Hillary Clinton, and runs a strip club. That concerns me. Every Republican should be concerned,” said Austin.

Food and politics aside, there are plenty of ongoing, live demonstrations and activities related to the showing of animals, commercial vendors, carnival rides, and educational exhibits by local organizations like the Olympia Beekeepers Association.

It takes a lot of work to pull off the Thurston County Fair. Some exhibits and activities stay the same, and other features are definitely new. And if you don’t like what you see, or have fresh ideas, there are four vacant positions on the Thurston County Fair board, so get involved and help make a difference!

Above: Thurston County’s Tactical Response Vehicle (TRV) is on display just as you enter the fair. Weighing 50,000 pounds, the vehicle gets three to five miles per gallon, ...and that’s on a good day, going downhill, joked a volunteer with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department. Thurston County procured the vehicle a couple of years ago through the nation’s military surplus program. It was used in Afghanistan and has been used in Thurston County during several incidents. 

Above: For good natured fun during the fair’s welcoming ceremony, local elected officials blew a lot of hot air to competitively move little duckies down two water gutters. After several rounds, Thurston County Commissioner Bud Blake ultimately won. Blake demonstrated a very distinctive, winning strategy of blowing in short, powerful bursts that allowed him to beat Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder and finally, as seen above, Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby.

For a full schedule of events, hours, cost of admission, parking, and free shuttle parking details, go to www.thurstoncountyfair.org. Music by the popular Oly Mountain Boys is on Friday night!