Friday, April 25, 2014

State Divestment in Fossil Fuels Urged by Climate Crisis Activists

Above: People wait in the lobby of the Washington State Investment Board prior to the board's meeting on April 17 in Olympia. Several speakers with a local climate crisis group addressed board members during the public comment period.
By Janine Unsoeld
The Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) heard from current and retired state workers, community members, and members of a local climate crisis group during their meeting held April 17.

Speakers were united in their request for Washington State to divest from fossil fuel companies and the companies that serve them.

The WSIB was created in 1981 and has a staff of 79 employees who work in three divisions: Investments, Operations, and Institutional Relations. The board, which accepts public comment at its monthly meetings, is composed of 15 members. All were present during public testimony except for Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos.

Divestment Testimony

Testimony and personal stories from several local citizens did not overlap, providing the board with compelling information and facts about the divestment issue.
Glen Anderson, a member of the Confronting the Climate Crisis group sponsored by the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation, said he started working for the state in 1972 and retired in 2006.

“I enjoy my pension and appreciate your efforts to wisely protect it. I understand your responsibility to avoid unnecessary risk,” said Anderson, who mentioned that many cities throughout the United States have divested from fossil fuels.
Seattle divested in November 2012 and by May 2013, 11 cities had committed themselves to divest because of the climate crisis.
Anderson said that during the 1980s, he and other state employees organized an effort they called “State Employees for Socially Responsible Investment” and persuaded the state’s Committee for Deferred Compensation to offer a socially responsible alternative to the regular mutual funds. Anderson said the committee initially assumed that the investments would produce lower returns than the regular mutual funds, but the group convinced the committee that they would be strong.

“The past few decades have proved we were right,” said Anderson.
Retired Ecology state employee Patricia Holm says she depends on her pension. She said that just last week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu added his voice in support of the growing divestment movement and called for an anti-apartheid style campaign against fossil fuel companies, which he blames for the “injustice” of climate change.

Holms asked the group to start the process of divestment now, before stranded assets like the earlier banking crash and real estate and technology bubble takes them by surprise.
“....Then, it could be too late to retain investments. As a pensioner, I care about this….Clean energy is not costly, but inaction is. Costly in terms of lives, livelihoods and economies if governments and business continue to allow climate change impacts to escalate.”

Boutai Hargrove, a retired state employee, urged the board to divest on behalf of her grandchildren’s and their grandchildren’s future. 
Rhonda Hunter, a retired 25 year employee of the state, said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently declared that most remaining fossil fuels must remain in the ground.

As for clean energy, Hunter said Goldman Sachs is declaring the renewable energy sector one of the most compelling, attractive markets, investing $40 billion in wind and solar.
“Goldman says the window for coal globally is eroding and closing rapidly….Bloomberg New Energy Finance says power from wind is now cheaper than power from new natural gas plants….Warren Buffett’s utility company just invested $1 billion in Iowa wind turbines and $5.6 billion to buy Nevada Energy. Are you worried about returns? Aperio Group reports that divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies in an indexed portfolio increases theoretical return risk by only .003 %.

“Don’t hope you can just get the industry to clean themselves up – they won’t,” she told the investment board. “Their business plan requires burning five times what the climate can afford.  Please conduct a serious risk assessment to divest our pensions from fossil fuels.”
Donna Albert, a current state employee with 20 years’ experience managing capital construction and a master’s degree in civil engineering, said it is technically and economically feasible to transition away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewables. She read portions of an open letter written and signed by 93 Harvard University professors addressed to the president of Harvard University asking Harvard to purge its $33 billion endowment of holdings in oil and coal companies.

Stewart Henderson, a current state employee, also addressed the board:
“When the Manville Corporation went bankrupt in 1982, it was the largest corporation ever to go bankrupt in the U.S. Enron stock went for $90.75 per share in mid-2000, then plummeted to less than $1 by the end of November, 2001. 

“Lehman Brothers held over $600 billion in assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008.  In each case, a Fortune 500 firm that seemed like a Grade A investment years, months, and even days earlier, suddenly left investors holding pennies on the dollar.  In each case, the corporations were engaging in highly risky economic activity. In each case, they were concealing that risk. And in each case, they were manipulating the political process and public perceptions to further conceal the risks.
“Just as Manville hid the danger and costs of asbestos, and Enron hid its high-risk accounting practices, and Lehman Brothers hid their credit default swaps, the fossil fuel industry is hiding the facts that they are cooking their books with bogus assets, and their entire business model rests on their ability to escape paying for the costs of the externalities they are imposing on citizens, on governments, and on other corporations.

“As fossil fuels continue to drive climate change, the fossil fuel industry is directly contributing to – but not paying for more severe storms, including hurricanes, typhoons, and tornadoes, more severe winter storms across the U.S., increased heat waves, increased drought, increased wildfires, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and, as pointed out recently by Governor Inslee, the increased rainfall which triggered the mudslide in Oso, for the victims of which flags are flying at half-staff throughout the state today.
“As this connection between fossil fuels and the unpaid bills they cause becomes clearer; as alternative fuels become every day more affordable; and as it becomes clearer that – as a United Nations panel recently revealed – three quarters of the assets (the underground reserves) of these fossil fuel companies are completely worthless, because we cannot afford the cost of burning them; with each coming day it will become clearer that the fossil fuel industry is in fact the greatest bubble the world has ever seen. 

“It is the legal and ethical responsibility of this body to examine that risk far more carefully and publicly than it has done to date. Sooner or later, the State Fund will be unloading these stocks.  Let’s do it today, at the top of the market, not years, or months, or days from now, at pennies on the dollar. We can’t afford the risk.” 
Rozanne Rants, spoke to the board in poetic terms:

“I will just add a few grace notes to the sad symphony of possible futures you have heard here this morning…. I do not expect you, individually or as a group, to make a quick decision about this question. The question: shall we, must we, can we, choose to cut off support to companies who profit greatly, while doing great damage to the earth, by mining and selling fossil fuels….Maybe the best thing we can do is listen to the quiet voices of those who have moved through denial, fear, and despair, and now sing songs of hope.”
Bernie Meyer, who portrays Mahatma Gandhi throughout the United States and India, said he is not a retired state employee, but worked in human services during his working career, and has his retirement fund in a socially responsible PAX world mutual fund account.

“Passover is this week, when Jews liberated themselves and it’s the Holy Week for Christians, celebrating Jesus giving away his life for humanity. These events represent growth. Like Gandhi, we must live by truth and express it with love. In our time…we are experiencing….climate change.”
Board Response

Board Chair, State Treasurer James McIntire thanked those who appeared before the board.
“We do listen and take this matter to heart. We operate here as fiduciaries, to produce the highest return with minimal risk. We do belong to a number of organizations that try to understand the risks associated with standard assets, and I think we will continue to review your comments, investment patterns and portfolios and how we move forward as investors.

“As a policy, the board has not supported divestment for several decades…so from that perspective, we will be doing our own self-reflection.”
Prior to the group’s testimony, Liz Mendizabal, institutional relations director for the Washington State Investment Board, explained the board’s position on divestment to members of the Confronting the Climate Crisis group in a letter on April 9:

“....You may be interested to know that the WSIB is a member of the Boston-based Ceres, a coalition of investors and companies that advocate for sustainable business practices, as well as several other organizations working on long-horizon investment issues. These include the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance, the International Centre for Pension Management, the Council of Institutional Investors, and the Asian Corporate Governance Association. The priority of all of these organizations is to help investors better understand the risks associated with short-termism, how responsible or poor governance impacts investment returns, and the risks posed by potential stranded assets.
“Through our corporate governance program activities, coalitions with other funds, and participation in the organizations mentioned above, we believe divestment from the fossil fuel industry would not be wise or effective as a means for the WSIB to advance progress towards addressing climate change. The most productive and meaningful strategy for the WSIB as a large institutional investor and shareholder at this time is to use our influence to actively engage with fossil fuel and other companies whose practices have come into question to encourage them to place a higher priority on transparency, mitigation, and implementing strategies focused on the long term that will be good for shareholders, the environment, and all concerned.

We appreciate hearing your perspectives and value your concerns and suggestions.”
Group Letter to Governor Jay Inslee

The Confronting the Climate Crisis group wrote and presented a letter to Governor Inslee in February urging him to place a moratorium on all new permits and infrastructure for fossil fuels in Washington.
The group has a meeting with an aide to the Governor to discuss the issue in early May.
For more information about the Washington State Investment Board, go to: or call (360) 956-4600.

For more information about the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Confronting the Climate Crisis group, go to:
Above: Pictures of Washington State Investment Board members hang in the lobby of the agency.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thurston County Specialized Recreation is in Precarious Budget Situation

Above: On April 9, about 60 participants of Thurston County's Special Recreation program gathered to bowl at Westside Lanes in Olympia. Strikes and smiles were in abundance!
Commissioners to Hold Work Session on Issue May 1
By Janine Unsoeld

A small group of dedicated people in Thurston County are addressing budget shortfalls and issues regarding the specialized recreation program for individuals with developmental or physical disabilities.
James Reddick, president of the PARC Foundation, a local, nonprofit parks, arts, recreation, and cultural organization, recently reached out to Little Hollywood to tell the story.

“I am concerned that the public does not know what is taking place with Thurston County specialized recreation services. What happens if this recreation service is eliminated for this population of citizens?” says Reddick.

Many of the individuals who use the county’s recreation services live with their parents or guardians. Some live on their own and sometimes support themselves with work income earned through agencies like Morningside. 

“I have contacted many individuals and organizations, but I have not received much response. I would like to find or start a group that would be influential in raising funds for special recreation, similar to the St. Peter’s Foundation that supports the hospital,” says Reddick.
Thurston County Specialized Recreation Budget History

Currently, the county contributes about $220,000 and the cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater contributes a combined $23,000 to the program, says Cliff Moore, Thurston County manager. Program users fees are also part of the budget.
Thurston County Recreation Services is a registered contractor with the state Department of Social and Health Services and is able to accept Department of Developmental Disability respite funds for payment of activities.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Moore placed the special recreation program into a larger context, and provided a history of Thurston County’s budget situation overall.

Since 2009, the county support for special recreation services has continued to be reduced.  Moore recounted how 2009 was the year Thurston County suffered a tremendous financial impact due to the economic downturn.

“The county lost 175 positions in 2008-09….Since 2008 until now, we’ve lost 252 positions. The biggest reasons are inflation, an increase in the cost of medical benefits, salary step increases, and fuel for county vehicles….Our largest single source of income is property taxes…and up until 2009, we had a healthy budget from the general fund.”

That year, the special recreation program was going to be cut from the budget. Moore was reminded by this reporter who was present, of an emotional 2009 county board of commissioners public hearing in which passionate testimony was voiced by caregivers and clients of the program.

Moore immediately responded, “In my entire 25 years of public service, that was the single most moving public meeting I’ve ever attended….”

The public testimony and passionate outpouring worked, and after the 2009 public meeting, the commissioners created a combined funding mechanism of the general fund and the Millage Fund that has sustained the program for the last five years.

The Millage Fund

The Millage Fund is established by state statute and requires the county to spend a certain amount of property taxes on social service programs, including special recreation.

Chris Colton, a member of the Thurston County Parks and Recreation citizen advisory group, provided specifics on the Millage Fund, illustrating the range of services required to take care of an individual with developmental or physical disabilities.

“The Millage Fund receives 2-1/2 cents per $1000 from property taxes…however, the Millage Fund's expenditure is greater than its income, and the program needs to cut about $20,000 in spending every year, starting in 2015.

“In 2014, 45% of the Millage Fund was spent supporting special recreation while the rest of the money went to high school transition (12%), parent and family support (9%), intensive case management (14%), senior services (10%), child care development and support (1%), personal counseling (3%), People First self-advocacy (3%), and assault prevention classes (3%).

“The municipalities agree that special recreation is important but….if each city upped its contribution, the $20,000 could be made up.  However, the cities are in a budget crunch and are not inclined to give up more money, at least not at the request of park staff. Also, that rationale is based on the commissioners continuing to require Millage Funds to fund special recreation. This issue needs to be addressed in our future meeting with the county commissioners.”
Efforts to Save Program Comes Up Empty-Handed

Moore says the county strongly appreciates the special recreation program and has worked hard to find a sustainable plan, a programmatic home, and funding for the program. Last year, the county launched an effort to save the program by convening a summit of 17 local organizations in June 2013, but there were no takers to provide the services.

The organizations involved include the Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County, the Hands On Children’s Museum, Morningside, Senior Services of South Sound, United Way of Thurston County, the Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater parks and recreation programs, the PARC Foundation, the South Sound YMCA, and many more.

When the county’s Resource Stewardship department took an overall 10 percent budget reduction in 2014, the summer day camp program for special recreation was cut.

In March, the county moved the program from Resource Stewardship into the public health and social services department on Lilly Road. Moore says it has been good to connect the program with other staff.

“It heightens the awareness, value and importance of the special recreation program to more staff…before, it was always seen as something different. Still, our goal is to find a sustainable long term solution.”

Moore says the Millage Fund will be tapped out in just a couple of years.
Above: Special Recreation participants try different tactics to help their game at Westside Lanes.

Thurston County Special Recreation Activities

Thurston County Specialized Recreation is the only recreation services agency in the county that provides activities and events to individuals with developmental and developmental disabilities.
The current Spring program lists fun field trips to the Puyallup Fair, a trip on the Kitsap Mini Steam Train, trips to see the Tacoma Rainiers, the Point Defiance Zoo, the Olympic Air Show, and more. Locally, the group has a regular bowling club at Westside Lanes, takes walks at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, trips to movie theaters, and more.

In the afternoon of April 9, I caught up with a group of about 60 special recreation program participants at Westside Lanes to see some pretty amazing bowling and lots of smiles.
Virginia Cook, a caregiver for her 50 year old developmentally disabled son, sat nearby to watch him bowl. She said he has memory issues, anxiety attacks, and sometimes get confused. She has been with the program for many years.

“I don’t want them to cut the budget. I rely on this program…I need the respite. I don’t have other people I can rely on too often. I could call a professional caregiver, but my son doesn’t like strangers. Without the program, people like me wouldn’t really have any breaks.”
Cook said she sometimes goes to the mall or somewhere nearby while he’s bowling under the watchful supervision of recreation staff, but then she feels bad if she missed him being happy about getting a strike.

“When he gets a strike, I can go ‘yea!’” she smiles.
Josh Russell, a caregiver with Citizen Access Residential Resources (CARR), sat near his client, watching him bowl a rocking game.

“He’s been bowling here for about 10 years…he looks forward to it. He brings his scores home and puts them up on the refrigerator, and calls his family and tells them. He’s very proud of playing a sport – he’s good at it! He’s beat me a few times. He’s an interesting character….” said Russell.
Just then, Russell’s client got a strike! He immediately came over to me and with a big smile, said, “I like to bowl. I like people.” I gave him a fist bump.

The PARC Foundation Offers Possible Solutions
The PARC Foundation, begun by Reddick in 1998, is dedicated to preserving the vital green spaces of Thurston County’s natural surroundings, expanding and supporting works of art and artists in our community, and ensuring all children have free access to recreational opportunities.

“How can specialized recreation continue to serve individuals with developmental and physical disabilities? In addition, how can this program expand to meet the needs of individuals with developmental and physical disabilities? Specialized recreation has high operational costs due to staff and safety requirements. Most of the participants are on Social Security disability income, or need support through low wage employment, or by parents and guardians,” says Reddick.

PARC serves as a nonprofit financial manager for individuals and organizations that want to contribute to their community, but are not themselves interested in becoming a nonprofit or assume financial accounting efforts.
The organization leverages a number of separate funds to achieve major projects such as the creation of the popular Olympia Skate Court on Cooper Point Road in west Olympia. It currently serves as the fiscal agent for South Sound Hounds, and the Tenino Quarry Pool’s fundraising efforts, and other projects. In the past, it served as the fiscal agent for the South Sound Estuary Association.

For special recreation, the PARC Foundation used a $15,000 grant it received in 2012 from the Nisqually Tribe for a weeklong overnight camp held last year. 

“We applied for the same amount of funds this year, and received $5,000. We were also given $5,000 to put towards a Washington State Department of Transportation grant for a 30-35 passenger bus. We’re still trying to raise funds for the bus. Fundraising is difficult.”

County Commissioners to Hold Work Session on Special Recreation

The county commissioners will meet with the Thurston County Parks and Recreation citizen advisory group for a work session on Thursday, May 1, at the Thurston County Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Room 280, at 2:00 p.m.

The advisory group wants to reconnect with the commissioners, remind them of the group’s mission, and discuss the plight of the special recreation program. The group was recently instrumental in helping the county update its comprehensive plan for parks and recreation, but now members feel in limbo. The establishment of new goals, and changes in the configuration of the group may be in order.

The program’s move from Resource Stewardship to the county health department illustrates the disconnect between the commissioners and the advisory group. Douglas Bell, a member of the Thurston County Parks and Recreation citizen advisory committee says, “We found out about it in an email.”

The public is invited to observe the commissioner’s work session on special recreation, but public comment will not be allowed. Moore welcomes public comment on the subject at any regular county commissioner meeting on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. at the Thurston County Courthouse, Room 280.

Metropolitan Parks District Option?

Moore said that due to new legislation two years ago, a dedicated funding stream for parks was created as the Metropolitan Parks District. Moore says 25 jurisdictions in Washington State have adopted one.

“We haven’t. It takes a vote of the people and creates another tax, so that’s a challenge…but information about it has been provided to the commissioners about that opportunity….As far as I know, no one is leading an effort to create one here, but it could be beneficial for the community. Generally speaking, the overall size of parks and recreation staff increases because there’s a more sustainable revenue stream,” said Moore. In turn, this option could help the special recreation program.

Moore says a 2015 budget for the special recreation program has not yet been established.

For more information about Thurston County Special Recreation, go to the Thurston County website at or contact Cliff Moore, county manager, at (360) 786-5440 or

For more information about the PARC Foundation, go to or call (360) 352-0980.
Above: Leaning helps too....

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Making of Olympia's Newest Police Officer: Wally Noel

Above: City of Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts, left, welcomes Wally Noel, Olympia's newest police officer, after administering Noel's oath of office.

By Janine Unsoeld

A brief, formal swearing in ceremony yesterday marked the beginning of a new chapter for Olympia's newest police officer Wally Noel and his family.
“We're seeing a whole new generation of police officers,” said Olympia city manager Steve Hall, after the ceremony.

“We have officers who have worked at Starbucks, in banks, served in the military…it’s really exciting in terms of the diversity in background….This is the future of our force.”
Noel, who will retire in a month as a Major from the Army, lives in Tumwater with his wife, Betheny, son Deven, 14, and daughter Kiran, 10. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration and a Master of Arts in Business and Organizational Security Management.

Noel spent 20 years in active service as a military police officer. He served in the Army prison system for 10 years, went through several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, served in detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, and was assigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord two and a half years ago.
“We love the state of Washington, and Olympia. This is where I’d like to retire. My kids and wife absolutely love it here,” said Noel.

After witnessing the ceremony, Olympia police department administrative assistant Marianne Weiland noted the longevity of officer's careers and said that Olympia went through a big hiring of officers 20 to 25 years ago.
“Many of them are now’s been exciting to see the changes,” she said.

Noel’s Family
After the ceremony, Noel’s family was all smiles. I asked Deven what he likes best about the Olympia area.

After some reflective thought, and sighing, he said, “Finally, we don’t have to run around.” Deven, who wore a tie and a white, long sleeved shirt, plays trumpet for the Tacoma Youth Junior Symphony, and will go to Black Hills High School next year.
“We’re finally in one spot,” Kiran agreed. She says her favorite hobby is going out to eat. Asked what her favorite local restaurants are, mom Betheny mentioned Vic’s Pizza, any place with sushi, especially spicy tuna, and Lacey’s new Jimmy John’s. Kiran heartily agreed.

As relative newcomers, Betheny described her impressions and passion for the South Sound community.
“After 20 years of traveling, this definitely is our home. We’ve been a lot of places, but this is the only place we feel people have open arms. We’ve lived in Germany, Italy, Hawaii, the Midwest, and the South, and people here are very open, even the homeless people. I walk by and they say, 'Good morning!' I’m very impressed.”

A fulltime wife and mother, Betheny is busy with her children’s activities and parent teacher organizations, volunteers in their classrooms, and is active in Tumwater school issues. She says she has high expectations for quality education.
“We’ve lived in Dupont, Pierce County, Lacey, and Tumwater and I’m really impressed, overall, with how the community here supports the whole child, offering support to military families, taking the time to talk to students, and caring about their emotional well-being.  This is also a community where the arts are supported – that’s important to me. When you’ve been a transient family for so long, we need outlets. Not all kids like football.

“I believe all kids, whether they come from foster homes, the military, or are bouncing around due to divorce, need the schools and the community to work together to disseminate information, to have sources for opportunities….”
She says when Deven starts at Black Hills next year, he will have attended eleven schools.

“When children move around and change schools, they lose credits,” she said. She is already looking forward to Deven's attendance at New Market Skill Center’s free summer classes, which are available for students entering 9th through 12th grade, and later, the Running Start program.
Running Start is a program designed for eligible juniors and seniors to enroll in college level courses at South Puget Sound Community College to receive both high school and college credit.

The Training of a City of Olympia Police Officer
On July 1st, Noel will head to a five month training in the police academy, then begin Olympia’s three to six month training, and begin an 18 month probation process, all before he can go solo on the streets of Olympia as a patrol officer.

Amy Stull, senior program specialist for the Olympia police department's community programs, says an officer candidate has to be hired by a law enforcement agency in order to attend the training academy.
“Completing the academy gives them state certification. If they don’t pass, they don’t retain their employment.”

The academy, coordinated by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, is in Burien. All law enforcement officers attend that academy, except for the Washington State Patrol, which has their own version.
Stull wrote about the new officer training process for the Olympia Police Department newsletter in February, 2013:

In the 1990’s, standard training was done by field training officers. New officers would be assigned one field training officer after they completed the state Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA). In recent years, the Olympia Police Department has transitioned to the police training officer model.
One of the goals was to better mesh with the Academy’s movement towards integrating more adult learning concepts. New recruits now go through training after the Academy and during their 18 months of probation. 

Under this new model, teaching is based on four substantive topics: police tactics, criminal procedure, report writing and emergency response. Within these categories are fifteen core competencies – use of force, local procedures (laws and policy), leadership, problem solving, community-specific problems, cultural diversity, legal authority, individual rights, ethics, observations skills, multi-tasking, police vehicle operation, conflict resolution, officer safety, communication skills and lifestyle stressors.
The training period is divided into four phases with a mid-term and final evaluation. Each phase takes two to four weeks. Phase one is focused on non-emergency operations, the second on emergency response, the third on criminal procedure and the fourth on patrol activity, which encompasses everything learned during the training. After the first two phases, a different police training officer evaluates the recruit’s progress. Yet another officer takes the recruit through the next phases and a fourth police training officer does the final evaluation.

The goal of the program is to put recruits in learning situations that allow them to use their level of knowledge and problem solve. Training officers look for opportunities to create problem-based learning exercises that involve multiple core competencies. This makes it possible to carefully evaluate each new employee’s chance for a successful career at the Olympia Police Department.
Current Olympia Police Department Officer Statistics

When asked for specific statistics on current officer demographics regarding gender, race, and language diversity, Olympia police department spokesperson, Laura Wohl, provided the following information:

“We now have eight female officers. As for languages, we have one certified Spanish interpreter. We also have several bilingual or semi-bilingual people who are not certified. Certification requires a test and then allows one to interpret in court. Because they are not certified, we don’t have a formal record of these officers, so I’ll give you the best that I can remember: of those who speak a second language, we now have two officers who speak sign language and we have two or three who speak Spanish.”
After some research by the human resources department, she said that in the last 25 years, the department has employed 12 African American officers and corrections officers, three Hispanic/Latino officers and corrections officers, and four Asian/Pacific Islander officers and corrections officers.

“We have had African American police officers at different times in the last 25 years. We did have a period recently when we had no African American police officers on the force – between November 2012 and April 16, 2014, when Wally was sworn in,” said Wohl.
Above: Noel's police badge.
For more information on the Olympia Police Department or law enforcement issues, events and activities, and past statistics, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search button.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Winter Camping Weekend at Mt. Rainier

Above: Moonrise over the Tatoosh. Not too far up, winter camping offers rewarding views.
Getting Away From It All: Winter Camping on Mount Rainier
By Janine Unsoeld

The gate between Longmire and Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park is now open 24 hours, but always check for park alerts, news and weather before you leave home.

No doubt, the National Park Inn at Longmire is an enticing and very romantic possibility for spending a night or two, and the historic Paradise Inn is scheduled to open for the 2014 season on Wednesday, May 21.

Winter camping this past weekend on the mountain, however, was spectacularly beautiful, and offered its own rewards to practice physical and mental endurance, and gear management.

I learned a lot: Hand warmers in my gloves were life-savers, as were the stash of nuts in my pocket when my go-to calorie supply of Snickers bars were frozen so bad I couldn't get a bite off, ever, and, for someone my size, carrying a 46 pound pack was a ridiculous load. 

Despite the grueling lessons learned, it was great to escape from the routine, and remind oneself that there’s more to life than work, meetings and day-to-day minutia.

Above: The weather at Mt. Rainier was clear and beautiful this past weekend. At 2:00 a.m., and throughout the night, the moon was bright orange, with stars and shooting stars on display.  

Above: Coming back from Panorama Point at sunrise.
Above: Janine learns the hard way, and carries a ridiculously heavy, but seemingly necessary load.