Friday, September 28, 2018

Starbucks Grange Opens Its Doors in Tumwater

Above: Sue and Jim Bert are greeted by friends as they walk into the new Starbucks at the former Chambers Prairie Grange  No. 191 at 1301 Yelm Highway in Tumwater Thursday morning.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A whole new generation of hugs, handshakes, and smiles once again filled the 108 year old former Chambers Prairie Grange in Tumwater on Thursday.

It almost looked like a scene from the old days, except for those taking selfies with the spacious interior from the exposed roof beams to the wooden floor. 

Now hung high on the wall, the original Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 sign was a favorite image.

Now owned by Tom and Tiffany Schrader, the space is leased to Starbucks and became a new gathering place as customers came from all four directions to the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway, starting at 4:30 a.m. 

The former grange, once located in an agricultural area, is at the physical crossroads of Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard and the cities of Tumwater and Olympia.

It was a moving experience for some. Members of the Wickie family were among the first who came in early to check out the new space, said Ashley Buller, the new Starbucks store manager. 

According to the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 was organized in 1906 by Fred W. Lewis and reorganized in March, 1908. 

Grange members built the hall through donated work on land donated by the Wickie Family, completing the structure in 1910.

The Chambers Prairie Grange was one of the first in Thurston County.

Above: Aubree Fudge, Bev Eagen, and Jackie Barratt, aquatics staff for the Briggs YMCA, were thrilled to walk across the street to the new Starbucks and get some drinks for themselves and other staff members.

Business was steady throughout the day. 

Families with young children streamed through while one young man camped out with his laptop and a pile of books about anatomy. Another man watched Judge Brett Kavanaugh being grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee on his phone. 

After greeting friends, Sue and Jim Bert positioned themselves at a corner table to admire the scene. They’ve lived in Tumwater for 15 years and described themselves as loyal Starbucks customers.

“I’ve found a new home,” Sue Bert laughed.

Her friend Joan Olson, of Olympia, walked in to greet them. Olson has lived in the area for 39 years and walked over from her residence in Olympia on Yelm Highway.

Staff and members of the Briggs YWCA also walked in from across the street on Yelm Highway.

Bev Eagen, Briggs YMCA aquatics coordinator, audibly exclaimed, “It’s crazy! I love how open it is!”

Kate and Bob Hill walked across the street from Silver Leaf, an active living facility for those 55 years “and better,” on Henderson Boulevard in Olympia, where they have lived for three years. 

“I love it! We’ve been watching it progress for so long. I love how they kept the integrity of the actual grange,” she said.

Above: Starbucks staff member Kendall Crawford offered samples of pumpkin spice lattes and scones at their new location inside the former Chambers Prairie Grange on opening day Thursday.

In the afternoon, Little Hollywood joined the Schraders, who were cuddling at the long table in the back of the building. Exhausted but soaking in the ambiance, they watched customers as they came in.  

A potted plant with a handwritten card saying, “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” sat in front of them, signed by a family living nearby.

Tom Schrader had stayed up late Wednesday night helping put the final touches on everything to open Thursday morning. He did not attempt to make the 4:30 a.m. opening, but his wife Tiffany did.

“I was their first customer at 4:30 a.m. and eight seconds,” she laughed. The prized cup with the time stamp and her name on it now sits at home on the mantle.

Customers came over to congratulate the Schraders, including one woman with her children in tow. As a resident of the adjacent subdivision, The Farm, she had expressed concerns about the project, but was happy with the end result. 

The Schraders used literally dozens of local contractors for all facets of the former grange’s transformation. They played tag team, quickly naming as many businesses as they could remember on the spot:

“Great Western Supply, Valley Supply on Mottman Road for steel supplies, Venables Pest Management, Reliable Electric, Adam Laneer Construction for roofing and soffit work, Capital Gutter, Paul Berschauer for the HVAC system, Bracy and Thomas Surveyors, South Sound Bank for financing the project, Sharp Trucking, Bayview Lumber, H.D. Fowler, Puget Sound Landscaping, Extreme Excavation, Puget Plants, Nature Perfect, Al’s Welding, Zeigler’s Welding, Propel Concrete, Erik Ainsworth, a land developer and structural engineer, Lacey Door, Paul Jensen for finish work, Kell-Chuck Glass, and Mike Anderson for siding and trim,” they said.

“All the trim is original, but Mike added new siding on the backside of the building where it was needed, and was able to replicate the old trim. It’s amazing how close it was. You wouldn't know the difference,” Tom Schrader added.

“The only time we went out of Olympia is if we couldn’t find someone to do a job on our timeline, said Tiffany Schrader, a third generation South Sound resident. It’s easy to name all the companies, but I just have to add that we couldn’t have done it without all the individuals - the neighbors, our friends, and church members who poured their lives into this project.” 

It sounded like an old-fashioned barn raising, showing that some things never change.

Above: The former Chambers Prairie Grange has been transformed into a Starbucks.

For more stories, photos and information about the transformation and history of the Chambers Prairie Grange, the building’s purchase by Tom and Tiffany Schrader in 2015, required property rezones, and negotiations between the City of Tumwater and Tom Schrader, go to Little Hollywood at and type key words into the search button.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Grange Starbucks Expected to Open This Week

Above: The former Chambers Prairie Grange #191 has come back to life and now bears a Starbucks logo. Pending final inspections, the store at 1301 Yelm Highway in Tumwater is expected to open on Thursday.

Chambers Prairie Grange #191 Sign Comes Home

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Pending final inspections, a new Starbucks at the former Chambers Prairie Grange at 1301 Yelm Highway in Tumwater will open on Thursday.

The coffee shop is inside the 108 year old building, one of the first granges built in Thurston County, located on the corner of Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard. 

In recent decades, the former grange hosted a variety of memorable events, community fundraisers, and dances, but had sat neglected for years by the time developer Tom Schrader bought it in 2015 from the Washington State Grange. 

Still, the building retained its historic character and structural integrity.

Starbucks is leasing the upstairs portion of the building from Schrader, and on Tuesday, he was on site juggling a myriad of last minute details. 

Above: Inside the former Chambers Prairie Grange #191 in Tumwater on Tuesday.

Inside, a dozen or so Starbucks employees frantically unpacked boxes full of displays, supplies and equipment which had just been delivered that morning. 

Starbucks construction manager Cheryl Nicholson managed to keep the chaos organized while setting up tables and chairs out on the deck.

The inside features exposed original beams and skylights to allow in natural light. The original glass in the windows was retained. The maple floor was taken off, exposing the original Douglas fir flooring underneath. The stage is gone, but the dark-colored wood that surrounded the stage was repurposed in portions of the floor.

Historically, granges served as the community center for social, agricultural, educational, and political activities. Many artifacts were found in the grange when Schrader purchased the building including ledgers, ribbons, and songbooks. 

For a wall display, Schrader reproduced a list written in calligraphy of grange masters dating from 1908, which features many familiar last names.  

Above: The original Chambers Prairie Grange #191 sign has come home. It will be on display inside the former grange, which has been transformed into a Starbucks.

The land use process for getting the project to this point has been a multi-year roller coaster ride, chronicled by Little Hollywood since 2015. 

But perhaps the most emotionally rewarding achievement for Schrader was his recent procurement of the large, wooden, painted chipped Chamber Prairie Grange #191 sign that hung on the outside of the building for so many years.

Schrader declined to say who had the sign, but he has worked hard to get it. After he learned who had it, he found that she was unwilling to part with it for sentimental reasons.

Two Sundays ago, Schrader said, the woman contacted him. She saw that his dream to open a community space in the former grange was finally becoming a reality and told him it was time for her to let the sign go. 

Schrader purchased it from her, and just yesterday, brought it back to the grange. To protect it from the weather, it will be hung on an inside wall.

“The sign needed to come home,” he said.

Above: Ashley Buller of Tenino, center, is the new Starbucks store manager at the former Chambers Prairie Grange on Yelm Highway. She is excited to open the store and appreciated the reuse of materials throughout the building. 

A grand opening will be scheduled in the near future. 

Store hours will be Monday through Friday, 4:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Saturday, 5:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., and Sunday, 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

For more photos and information about the history of the Chambers Prairie Grange, the building’s purchase by Tom Schrader, and property rezones, negotiations and compromises between the City of Tumwater and Schrader, go to Little Hollywood at and type key words into the search button.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sequalitchew Warehouse Public Hearing Set

Above: Several pileated woodpeckers were heard boring into snags and trees well before they were seen along the peaceful Sequalitchew Creek trail in DuPont last week. Two industrial warehouses and related facilities are proposed to be built 100 feet from the creek.

Public Hearing Tentatively Set for October 24

Public Comments Highlight Area’s Historic Significance, 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Held Maneuvers, Camped at Sequalitchew

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A public hearing for an industrial development proposal near Sequalitchew Creek in the City of DuPont, Pierce County, is tentatively set for October 24, 1:00 p.m., at DuPont City Hall, 1700 Civic Drive, DuPont.

The public is invited to attend and present oral and written testimony to a city hearing examiner on the proposed project.

DuPont Industrial Partners, LLC is proposing to build two warehouses totaling 258,400 square feet on a vacant, 21 acre wooded parcel near Sequalitchew Creek and the Sequalitchew Creek trail in DuPont.

Based on the applicant’s materials:

·      The buffer between the proposed project and Sequalitchew Creek is 100 feet.

·      Nearly 400 healthy trees will be removed from the site, called “Lot Y.” Of that number, 76 landmark trees are in the area, 49 of which will be removed. Landmark trees are described in ordinances as significant. One of the 49 landmark trees is a large Oregon white oak tree.

·      Over 70 percent of the property is expected to become impervious surface.

·      Approximately 444 total daily trips are expected to be generated on a typical weekday. Noise from vehicular traffic to and from the site would be present with possible operating hours of 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

·      The current comprehensive plan designation for the area is Sequalitchew Village Planning Area. The current zoning designation for the site is Manufacturing Research Park (MRP) and buildings on site may be as high as 70 feet.

The first comment deadline for state agencies, tribes, and the public to weigh in on the project was September 12. 

Jeff Wilson, community development director for the City of DuPont, has compiled the comments and will likely issue a Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS) for the project. 

Above: Mothers and children walk along the Sequalitchew Creek trail. The trail leads directly to Puget Sound and is popular with families, photographers, and bird watchers.

History of Buffalo Soldiers at Sequalitchew, American Lake

Earlier this week, Little Hollywood reviewed the City of DuPonts two inch thick file of community comments and concerns regarding the proposed project. 

Most letters highlighted the historic significance of the area and called for its preservation. Others requested increased buffers from the creek and noted other environmental considerations.

Jackie Jones-Hook, executive director of the non-profit Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Tacoma, is opposed to the proposed development. 

She provided the City of DuPont historical information about the Buffalo Soldiers and intends to testify at the public hearing on October 24.

In an interview with Little Hollywood, Jones-Hook says the area is part of a proposed Nisqually-Sequalitchew Historic District and lies in the cradle of U.S. military history in the Puget Sound region.

In 1866, Congress established six all-black regiments, each with about 1,000 soldiers.

Known as “Buffalo Soldiers,” the regiments were comprised of former slaves, free men and Civil War soldiers. They helped rebuild the country, patrolled the remote western frontier, protected settlers, built forts and roads, and mapped the wilderness in the West.

The first stewards of our national parks were these Army cavalry troops before there was a National Park Service. The last Buffalo Soldier units were disbanded in 1944.

Of local significance, over 4,000 troops from the regular U.S. Army and National Guard units from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho were organized into opposing armies around American Lake and engaged in mock battles and skirmishes.

Members of the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment served in the 1904 maneuvers at American Lake, the first in a series of large scale military maneuvers. The success of those maneuvers led to additional maneuvers in 1906, 1908, 1910, and 1912.

Jones-Hook said she is in the process of implementing a federal grant her museum just received to educate at-risk, under-served and under-represented children about the Buffalo Soldiers.  

Field trips for the children will include the areas of Fort Lawton, now Discovery Park, in Seattle and Sequalitchew Creek, where the soldiers camped. Stables for the horses were also located there.

Our curriculum will talk about the Buffalo Soldiers lifestyles and survival skills, and how they were able to live off the land by eating berries and drinking water out of the creek. It will also provide the children an opportunity to visit the actual sites where the Buffalo Soldiers served. You can talk about it, but actually being there puts you in a totally different mindset. 

“For so long we were denied the ability to read and write, so its a story thats not well told, but the story of the Buffalo Soldiers is the greatest tribute in the world to the dedication, strength, and pride of black men,” she said.

Above: A display at the Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Tacoma describes the 9th and 10th Cavalry also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, and their military maneuvers at American Lake in 1904, 1908, 1910 and 1912.

Archaeological Investigations

Although artifacts have been found on the site proposed to be developed, the area has been extensively disturbed over the years.

In its comment letter, the state Department of Historical Preservation inquired about the relocation of the Methodist Mission marker and possible interpretive signs explaining the history of the temporary encampment of the Buffalo Soldiers.  

There is currently no marker or mention of the Buffalo Soldiers anywhere along Sequalitchew Creek. 

The agency also wondered if the project proponent has plans to retain the section of narrow gauge railroad that was recorded during a cultural resource survey a few years ago.

Operation of the DuPont Powder Works in the early to mid-1900s included use of part of the property as a burning ground dump from the 1930s until 1945. 

More disturbances occurred during archaeological investigations and related artifact collection between 1989 and 2005, and environmental remediation activities in 1999 and 2000.

Regarding the 9th U.S. Cavalry site archaeological investigations in 1989 and 1991, archaeologist Guy Moura and his team recovered over 800 artifacts.

Washington State archaeologist Robert Whitlam indicated in a 1998 letter to noted archaeologist Richard Daugherty that the site was potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. He also recommended further work to define the boundaries of the Native American and Buffalo Soldier occupations.

The Nisqually Indian Tribe expressed no concerns about the development except in the event human remains or cultural and historic resources were found.

Above: A marker indicates the likely location of the Methodist Episcopal Mission, the first non-permanent, Euro-American settlement on Puget Sound. Built in 1839, the Mission burned down in 1842. The location lies in the location of Warehouse B of the proposed project.

A September 5 story by Little Hollywood, Sequalitchew Threatened by DuPont Warehouses, is at 

For more information about the property and to stay up to date on possible public hearing meeting changes, contact Jeff Wilson, City of DuPont Community Development Director and City SEPA Official, at or (253) 912-5393, or go to

For more information about the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Tacoma, go to or email The museum is located at 1940 South Wilkeson Street, Tacoma, Washington 98405.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Olympia Attorney Fights for His Life, Nature

Above: Darren Nienaber, former deputy city of Olympia attorney and father of three young children, is looking at the big picture as he battles class 4 glioblastoma brain cancer. He has started an environment and land use education non-profit called People and Otters.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Characteristically, Darren Nienaber, 47, has always spoken slowly and quietly, choosing his words carefully.

For 18 years, the former deputy city of Olympia attorney has worked as an attorney for both city and county government, specializing in land use and environmental law.

Now, Nienaber (pronounced nee-neighbor) is on a mission to use his legal expertise to protect nature in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Western Washington and Oregon.

His goal is to educate decision makers and the public about federal, state and local environmental codes and regulations. While assisting community members with advice and potential litigation, Nienaber is also fighting for his life.

A father of three young children, Nienaber has class 4 glioblastoma, a rare, aggressive type of brain cancer with a low rate of survival.

In December 2015, Nienaber had brain surgery to remove the cancer. All was well for a while, but then it came back.

He had a second surgery in January of this year and is now undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments. In May, he left his position at the city.

“I hope this does the trick. I’m doing all I can do to fight it,” says Nienaber, who talked about his outlook on life and new endeavors with Little Hollywood last week

Chuckling at the irony, Nienaber said he had just paid off his law school debt when he found out he had cancer.

To further his environmental interests, Nienaber recently created a new non-profit called People and Otters. Asked about the name, he laughed and said, “I picked otters as a representative of nature out of total cuteness.” 

The idea is working. On his website, his creative writing oozes his upbeat personality and passion for conservation issues.

The purpose for the organization came to him after his first brain surgery, when he realized his sense of smell was more acute. 

“I could smell so-called odorless paint for months,” he said. His sense of hearing also improved. That led him to think about the animals in nature.

“It’s not surprising that some animals want to avoid state and federal logging roads. The roads are noisy and generate a lot of dust that damages streams….Then it occurred to me: can there be more places without roads and areas set aside just for nature?”

Above: The distinctive, loud drumming of several pileated woodpeckers boring into trees could be heard well before they could be seen along Sequalitchew Creek in DuPont on Tuesday.

With deep family roots in Whatcom County, Nienaber was born and raised in Bellingham. He grew up playing in nearby forests, building forts, hiking trails, and having Douglas fir cone fights with his buddies.

Well into his 20s, his days were also filled with lying on the beach and playing in tide pools, observing barnacles and crabs.

He started his college education taking classes in finance but ended up graduating in environmental analysis from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

He was the editor of an award-winning environmental magazine called The Planet and appreciated his time with faculty member Michael Frome, a nationally known environmental journalist.

“He said to me, ‘You have to talk to the other side to understand what they are saying. Don’t just get mad and angry from a distance,’” Nienaber remembers. 

Wanting to help the environment from within the system, Nienaber received his law degree in 2000 from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He had legal stints in King and Mason counties before landing at the City of Olympia in 2005.

True to his temperament, Nienaber has a unique approach to adversarial situations.

“I am not afraid to take a strong stance for my client, but that doesn’t mean I have to be mad while doing it,” he said.

Above: In January, 2010, then deputy city attorney Darren Nienaber spoke before the city’s Design Review Board. The contentious issue was Triway Enterprises’ plan to build a massive housing and mixed-use office building project on the isthmus in downtown Olympia. Going against a city staff recommendation to approve the project, the Board recommended denial of the applicant’s plan.

State, County, and City Reforms Needed

Nienaber is enjoying his ability to be outspoken as a private citizen and says anyone can be a city planner or an activist if they get involved in the process. 

Optimistically, Nienaber is taking the long view on state, county, and city level environmental reforms.

On the state level, his interests include improving federal and state land management and logging practices. He wants to stop outright clear cutting and limit the harsh impacts of extensive road systems within the forests.

“There should be more all-natural nature than there is,” he says.

On the local level, he has voiced his desire for city and county officials to take themselves out of all levels of permit processes in land use decision-making.

Out of respect for his former employer, Nienaber demurred when asked about examples specific to Olympia, but referred to last months Washington State Supreme Court decision against the county, Maytown Sand and Gravel, LLC v Thurston County. 

The case involved a 20-year special use permit to mine gravel in Thurston County. The Maytown Sand and Gravel Company and the Port of Tacoma claimed the county’s board of commissioners imposed unnecessary procedural hurdles on the process, and had personal communications with others about the permit that were not disclosed during a permit review hearing.

“Regardless of political party or what may or may not have not been discussed, private conversations in quasi-judicial, administrative and appeal processes are bad. A lot of land use decisions go to the county commissioners that shouldn’t. In this case, millions were paid out by the taxpayers and the county’s insurance company, eight million to the Port of Tacoma and four million to Maytown Sand and Gravel.

“Unfortunately, there was an appearance of corruption. Land use cases should be handled by hearing examiners who have the knowledge and expertise to deal with cases on a local level. If there are specific concerns about the local environment, the hearing examiner needs to be made aware of them,” he said.

Referring to the Appearance of Fairness Doctrine, he said the City of Olympia is a good model for this process.

About growth issues, Nienaber has seen first-hand how city councils need more options to attract infilling of their downtown and neighborhood centers.

“All too often, these areas are too risky to invest in because of legacy pollution,” he said.

Nienaber recently wrote a letter to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee regarding the state Department of Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program, which is responsible for the Model Toxics Control Accounts (MTCA).

“It is an underfunded program,” he wrote the governor last month.

“This is a problem that I think both conservation/ environmental groups and the development/construction side can agree. People and Otters strongly supports both a significant increase in funding, in the short term to take care of a back log, as well as funding to increase the number of (Ecology) employees that review MTCA cases.”

Referring to the Washington State Growth Management Act and local project review requirements, Nienaber says increased funding will move projects forward more quickly so small and medium sized cities can rebuild and reinvent.

If all this seems like Nienaber has a lot on his plate, he does, but he’s also taking time to enjoy the nature he loves so much. He recently took a trip to Alaska with his children, and often takes day trips to local destinations.

“I had thought I would be able to protect nature when I retired. Now, I don’t know how much time I have left.

“I must first and foremost fight the cancer and also love my loved ones. With whatever time I have after that, and fun time too, I want to fight for nature. That’s my mission. I don’t know where this will go, but I have lots of hopes and dreams of a better day for nature.”

For more information about People and Otters, go to or on Facebook, go to