GNA Members Elect Board

At their February 20th Annual Meeting, Griffin Neighborhood Association members voted-in a slate of 16 area residents to serve on the Board of the GNA. The Board manages the affairs of the GNA and Board members serve without compensation.

Two members of last year’s Board chose not to have their names placed in nomination. Matt Coyle and Jack Sisco retired from the Board, with the thanks of GNA members present at the Annual Meeting. We’ll be sure to see more of Jack, in particular, as he is fully-engaged in efforts to develop the Steamboat Area Conservation Partnership.

Three new members have joined our Board.

Here are the names of our Board members:

Beau Altman
Gayle Broadbent
Fred Finn
Gary Goodwin
Jerry Handfield
Norm Johnson
Steve Lundin
Mark Messinger
Eric Moll
Kathy O’Connor
Kathleen O’Shaunessy
Elizabeth Rodrick
Velma Rogers
Dave Schuett-Hames
Bob Whitener
Chris Wickham

You can best support the work of this Board by joining the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Click here to join the GNA. It’s easy and you can do it entirely online.

We’re proud of the diverse backgrounds of our Board members. Here’s a little information about a few of those on our Board:

Dr. Beau Altman is a Psychologist specializing in human behavior in crisis situations, emergencies. When asked, what do you do, Dr. Altman responds, “I teach people how to prepare for and how to survive emergencies when they occur on land, water and in the air!”

For more than 40 years Beau has been a major contributor to the development of emergency equipment, safety instruction and evacuation procedures for planes, ships, and buildings.

Beau is a teacher and trainer. His background and experience in crisis management and human behavior, safety and survival training and education may be particularly useful in the GNA’s ongoing emergency preparedness efforts.

Fred Finn is a business man and graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Fordham University Law School. Fred is a past Griffin School Board member involved with numerous business and civic organizations and is a candidate for the 35th District legislature. For more information on Fred’s candidacy, click this link.

Gary Goodwin writes, “When we bought property on Steamboat Island Road, there were 31 acres of trees west of us and 42 acres of trees east of us. Now all the trees are gone, there are four homes to the west, and a commercial facility proposed to the east. I am involved in the GNA to help protect the rest of our Community from a similar fate.”

Jerry Handfield is the father of four grown children and one grandson with two more on the way. He is the Washington State Archivist. The Archives is responsible for managing the life cycle of all state records and preserving valuable legal and historical records for local and state government. Jerry is a resident on Gravelly Beach Loop since March 2002, member of the GNA Board since 2003, and served as both Secretary and President (2005 – 2007).

Steve Lundin retired as a senior counsel to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2001 after nearly 30 years. He has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Washington. Steve and his wife Linda Bondurant have lived in the Griffin area since 1975.

Steve has written numerous articles about the history of the Griffin area and a book entitled “Griffin Area Schools.” He recently published a book entitled “The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State.”

Mark Messinger is a consultant to individuals, business and government. One of his children currently attends Griffin School and the other will be at Griffin next year. He’s been a resident in this area for 6 years.

Eric Moll is the Chief Financial Officer for Mason General Hospital. He has a CPA and MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Elizabeth Rodrick has worked for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for 30 years. She is a Land Conservation Manager. Elizabeth does conservation planning to identify important landscapes to protect for fish and wildlife. She also coordinates habitat acquisition grant applications and contracts and works with several land trusts including the Capitol Land Trust. Elizabeth looks forward to serving on the board and getting to know folks better.

Velma Rogers was born in Venice, California, but her family is the namesake for Hunter’s Point. Her public interests are conservation issues, retrofitting development on her own property and working to raise local awareness of the devastating effects of over-building, over-using and not protecting our unique environment and resources.

Chris Wickham has lived in the Griffin area since 1989. His children, now grown, attended Griffin School. He is currently employed as a Superior Court Judge at Thurston County Superior Court.

Learn More About The “Local Solutions to Global Warming” Bill

It’s been mentioned on this blog that there is a strong connection between growth management – the direct actions of our County government – and global climate change. Driving is the largest source of global warming pollution in Washington State, and irresponsible development dramatically increases driving. Achieving smart growth goals and reducing sprawl development is absolutely essential to reducing carbon dioxide pollution. Here in the Griffin area, we know we’re right in the crosshairs of development which, if not undertaken in a well-considered manner, will not only increase carbon emissions, it will threaten our property values, the availability and health of our drinking water supplies, and significantly reduce our quality of life.

According to Fuse, a progressive network, “Now we hear that a critical bill to combat global warming is stalled in the Legislature, and we have just six days to get it moving or it’s dead for the year. The Local Solutions to Global Warming bill tackles the global warming pollution created by irresponsible development and traffic. This bill will fight global warming by protecting farm and forest land, encouraging energy efficient building and promoting livable, family friendly communities.”

But, don’t take Fuse’s word for it. You can read about this bill, yourself, here.

I found especially notable is the statement against the bill, in the Senate Report of the Bill, which begins:

“This bill wrongly assumes climate change is human caused and human influenced while there is no scientific conclusion to support this theory.”

Personally, I am growing weary of a debate framed in such terms. While there may be room to disagree on the degree to which the environment is able to absorb the deleterious impact of human activities, it is rational to seek to reduce traffic on our roads, to identify and develop within urban growth boundaries and to reject arguments that affordable housing can only be built if we develop further and further from urban centers.

To learn more about this bill and another, Senate Bill 6516, and to send a letter to Senator Sheldon, click here to visit Fuse.

–Mark Messinger

Free “Streamside Living” Workshop – March 19th

If you have a stream on your property, are interested in reducing erosion, or looking for more ways you can protect water quality and enhance salmon and wildlife habitat, you will be interested in this free workshop. The workshop is entitled “Streamside Living: A Landowners Guide.”

Wednesday, March 19
Griffin Fire Hall
3707 Steamboat Loop Rd

Although the workshop is free, advance registration is requested. Register at: (360) 427-9670 ext 680 or by email at

The workshop is sponsored by Mason County Extension, Mason Conservation District, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, and Thurston Conservation District and is made possible by a grant from the Department of Ecology.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Releases Video of Gravelly Beach Break-In

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has released more information which neighbors may be able to use to help nab the perpetrators of one or more of what’s developing to be a string of daytime burglaries in the area of Gravelly Beach Loop.

As was written previously here, a home was broken in to, on January 22, in the 4800 block of Gravelly Beach Loop. The incident occurred between 11:00 AM and 4:55 PM.

Since January 22nd, two more break-ins have occurred, in the same area. The Sheriff’s Office has now released new information which may help us to capture those responsible.

From the Sheriff’s Office release:

Sheriff seeks identity of teenage burglars

Three residential burglaries have occurred in the last 2 weeks in the Gravelly Beach Rd. N.W. off Steamboat Island Rd. N.W. area. They occurred on 1/22/08, 2/5/08, and 2/6/08. The suspects appear to be operating during the daytime hours. They have taken over $25,000 worth of guns, jewelry, electronic items, and a 1992 Toyota Camry, taupe in color, WA. License 467 RLS. In one burglary, on Wednesday 02/06/08, the suspects were seen by a surveillance camera and captured on video. The Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in identifying these suspects before they can commit any more crimes.

We believe that there are probably at least two suspects. Both appear to be white males in their late teens to early twenties. The video shows that they are driving a van that is probably blue or gray in color. In the video the suspects changed hats several times which gives the appearance of several suspects.

A video is available here.

Here are some stills from the video. Do you recognize any of these people?

If you have any information which might advance this investigation, please contact Chief Criminal Deputy Jim Chamberlain, 360-786-5659 or Detective Lt. Chris Mealy, 360-786-5508.

UPDATED: The Olympian is reporting that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Mitchell E. Coxwell, 23, living on Steamboat Island Road. According to the news article, “Detectives think he is driving a stolen blue Volkswagen Passat with Washington license plate 642RMC.”

Washington’s 97 Delegates Are Waiting for You at Saturday’s Caucus

Democratic and Republican Precinct Caucuses are this Saturday, February 9, from 1PM to 3PM.

If you are a Democrat, following “Super Tuesday” you know two things for certain:

  1. The Democratic nomination is still up for grabs
  2. Your only chance to influence the outcome is this Saturday’s caucuses

Washington State will be sending 97 delegates to the National Convention, making it one of the largest prizes left on the map. Saturday’s caucus will decide who Washington State‘s delegates will support.

Fuse, a progressive network, has an excellent piece in which they “address all your excuses for not going.” It’s at and that page will provide you with much of what you need to know.

In the Steamboat Island area, there are two Democratic precinct caucus locations: Prosperity Grange and Griffin School. The link above will link you to a “caucus finder.”

It’s important that you understand that the choice you make, on a Democratic ballot in the February 19 Presidential Primary is meaningless. It’s an “advisory vote” and no delegates to the party’s conventions will be allocated, based on the results of that ballot.

Please remember to vote in the Primary, anyway, since you will want to vote on the question of the Griffin School District M & O Renewal Levy.

You can vote, in the caucus, if you are 17 now, but will be 18 years old by this November 4.

Oh, and I am recommending Fuse’s page, even though they have neglected to mention the third candidate running for the Democratic nomination: Mike Gravel.

If you are a Republican, you know Mr. McCain is within striking distance of tying up the nomination, but Romney is far from out of the race.

Republicans will allocate delegates both from the results of this Saturday’s precincts and the February 19 Presidential Primary. This means you will want to participate in both the caucus and complete a ballot for the Primary.

Don’t forget to vote for the Griffin School District M & O Renewal Levy, on your Primary ballot.

For information regarding the Republican Precinct Caucuses, visit the Thurston County Republicans at There you will find a raft of information, including a caucus lookup link.

Steamboat Area precincts are holding their Republican Precinct Caucuses at Jefferson Middle School, 2200 Conger NW.

We’ve seen phenomenal turnout in the primaries and caucuses of other states.

One thing is for certain, Super Tuesday didn’t settle this thing.

. . . and, the writer’s strike has not robbed us of any of the entertainment value of this political season.

Learn More About Rain Gardens

As Thurston County continues to grow, increasing amounts of native forest and prairie lands are replaced by roads, roofs, driveways and other impervious surfaces. Rainfall, formerly intercepted by the forest canopy or absorbed into the soil, now flows across the surface of the landscape as stormwater runoff.

This creates two problems: localized flooding of yards, streets and parking lots; and the pollution of local waterways and Puget Sound. As the stormwater runs over the surface of the land, it picks up pollutants – like motor oil, pesticides, excess fertilizers, trash and fecal bacteria from pet waste – and carries them into local waterways and ultimately Puget Sound.

Highly engineered municipal stormwater management improvements such as catch basins and pipes that convey water to central storm ponds are one solution. But a promising low-impact approach to development enables individual homeowners to help protect streams and wetlands.

Rain gardens are modest depressions in the landscape of people’s yards.They act much like the original native forest landscape; collecting, absorbing and filtering stormwater runoff from your roof, driveway,walkways and yard, before it enters the street and catch basin system.

How is a rain garden constructed?

Rain gardens are typically excavated to a depth of about two feet. Then a mix of highly amended, compost-rich soil is used to fill the depression to a level at least 6 inches below the surrounding lawn. The depression enables ponding to occur during periods of heavy rain, and the soil/compost mix rapidly soaks up and retains water. Plants that do well in both wet and dry conditions, including Northwest native plants and non-native ornamentals help turn the rain garden into a colorful, attractive landscape amenity.

How do rain gardens work?

By collecting stormwater runoff, rain gardens reduce flooding on adjacent properties. As they absorb water, they filter out pollutants from lawns and driveways, intercepting them before they enter municipal stormwater systems or local waterways. They also help recharge groundwater aquifers.

While easy to create, rain gardens must be built with care and designed to accommodate the correct amount of rainfall. Soil conditions must be carefully assessed to determine the correct depth of soil/compost mix.

How can I learn more?

If you want to find out how to incorporate a rain garden into your landscape – and learn about other low impact development practices – come to a hands-on workshop.

Stream Team, in cooperation with Stewardship Partners and the Native Plant Salvage Project, are offering free workshops around Thurston County:

  • Monday, February 25, in Yelm
  • Thursday, March 6, in Olympia
  • Thursday, April 3, in Tumwater
  • Thursday, April 17, in Lacey

Registration is required. Participants will be mailed site-assessment instructions in advance to help maximize their learning at the workshops.

For more information or to register, contact Erica Guttman at or (360)754-3588 ext.110

— Text from the latest “StreamTeam” newsletter.
Thurston County Storm and Surface Water Utility

More online resources:

Rain Garden Network at
Virginia Department of Forestry Rain Garden web page at
Wikipedia entry on Rain Gardens at
Dowload a 6-page Rain Gardens manual, from WSU Extension Service, at

UPDATE: Well, we don’t like to gloat, but it looks as though we scooped The Olympian, on the topic of rain gardens. Click here to read their February 18th article.