Congratulations, Griffin School District, for Meeting Federal Benchmarks

Four paragraphs in to an article in The Olympian entitled “7 school districts fail U.S. standard” we read, “In Thurston County, only the Griffin School District, a small K-8 district with one school, was listed as having made Adequate Yearly Progress, which means it met all the federal benchmarks.”

We say, “Congratulations!” to Dr. Donald L. Brannam, the teaching staff, administrators, and School Board of the Griffin School District. And, lest we not forget, all the students and their parents.

We’re proud of our school district; it’s one of the reasons many of us moved to this area.

Don’t forget, there’s an opportunity to directly support the Griffin School District by attending the Griffin Foundation Benefit Auction Saturday, September 13. Tickets are available at the Island Market. Click here for more information.

Click here to read the Griffin School District’s page, on the “Washington State Report Card.”

Click here to visit the Griffin School District’s web site.

St. Christopher’s Breaks Ground on New Parking Lot, Driveway

From St. Christopher’s Community Church, we get news that they’ve broken ground on their new parking lot and a driveway. The driveway from Steamboat Island Road to a parking that will serve the church and its new “community center” expansion. But, there are “miles to go” before this project, which will build a real community center on our peninsula, is complete.

Now is the time for homeowners in the Griffin Area to step up and support this important community asset. What St. Christopher’s has designed is a highly-configurable, highly accessible resource for our community. This is a facility that can support community groups, scouting groups, classes and events. This community center could serve us in time of natural disaster. But we cannot assume it’s going to be built solely with the financial resources of St. Christopher’s congregation.

Please contribute to St. Christopher’s fundraising efforts for their community center. We’ve written about this in the past. Click here to read that prior posting.

Click here to see an artist’s rendering of the completed project.

Your tax-deductible gift can be mailed to:

St. Christopher’s Community Church
Steamboat Island Community Center
3320 – 79th Ave. NW
Olympia, WA 98502-9960

I’m proud to say that I’ve made a contribution and I know a few others within the Griffin Neighborhood Association have done so, too. Please join us now in financially supporting St. Christopher’s Community Church.


Have you contributed to St. Christopher’s fundraising? Or, why not? Add your comments by clicking on the comments link below.

Griffin Historical Sketch

Tcover13he Griffin community is located in northwest Thurston County and occupies the Steamboat Island peninsula that extends northward into southern Puget Sound.

The history or the Griffin community falls into three distinct periods.

The first period was the history of indigenous peoples before contact with white people. Indigenous peoples inhabited Puget Sound for thousands of years before the arrival of white people. They were known as the “People of the Water” and considered Puget Sound to be a sacred place. They relied the Sound their basic means of transportation and as a source of food, including clams, oysters, and salmon.

Separate, but closely related, bands of indigenous peoples inhabited the seven inlets of southern Puget Sound. Each band occupied the watershed of the inlet – both sides of the inlet, including the Squi-Ailt who occupied the Eld Inlet watershed and the T’Peeksin who occupied the Totten Inlet watershed.

During cold weather, members of a band occupied cedar long houses in a village located at the sheltered end of each inlet. Remains of a large long house have been found on former Secretary of State Ralph Munro’s property located on the eastern shore of Mud Bay at the southern end of Eld Inlet. During warm weather, families units from each band fanned out along both sides of their inlet and lived in less permanent dwellings.

The second period involved the arrival of white people and their early interactions with indigenous peoples. These interactions had calamitous consequences with large numbers of native peoples losing their lives to disease brought by white men.

The first whites arriving in the Puget Sound area included Captain Vancouver, Peter Puget, and Captain Gray. Peter Puget explored the southern portion of Puget Sound in 1792. He named many areas which remain as local place names, including Eld and Totten Inlets. His journal describes indigenous peoples as being friendly and hospitable.

The United States and Great Britain jointly occupied what was called Old Oregon Country from 1818 until 1846 without consulting the indigenous peoples of this area. The Hudson Bay Company opened Fort Nisqually on southern Puget Sound in 1833. Michael T. Simmons and George W. Bush led the first American settlers on Puget Sound, arriving at what became Tumwater in 1845. A Treaty of 1846 ended the Joint Occupancy and established the western boundary between Canada and the United States. Congress created Oregon Territory in 1848 from the American portion of what remained of Old Oregon Country. The Oregon Territorial Assembly created Thurston County in 1852. Congress created Washington Territory out of the northern portion of Oregon Territory in 1853.

Newly appointed Governor Isaac I. Stevens negotiated a number of treaties between the United States and indigenous peoples in Washington Territory. This included the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854 that was signed by Governor Stevens and representatives of various tribes and bands of indigenous peoples living on southern Puget Sound. Indigenous peoples ceded 4,000 square miles of land in return for three small reservations and the right to fish “at all usual and accustomed grounds”. The Squaxin Tribe was recognized as a combination of the bands of indigenous peoples living on the seven inlets in southern Puget Sound, including the Squi-Ailt and T’Peeksin bands. Many indigenous peoples moved to a reservation located on Squaxin Island but most soon left as the Island had no source of drinking water. They supported themselves by logging, working on hop and berry farms, and harvesting shellfish and fin fish.

Early white settlers in the Griffin area were William W. Puffer and Benjamin F. Cross. Puffer filed a donation land claim in the early 1850’s for 160 acres of land on what became known as Schneider’s Prairie. He lived in a cabin was located near the current intersection of Sexton and Steamboat Island Road, north of the Highway 101 overpass. Puffer’s claim was rejected by the federal government. Then Benjamin Franklin Cross filed a claim for the same 160 acres. Other white people soon filed claims or purchased earlier land claims, including August and Konrad Schneider after whom the local prairie is named.

The third period is the modern period since the early interactions between white settlers and indigenous peoples. Many settlers and new comers moved into the Griffin area during this period. The Griffin community was transformed from rural settlements of whites and indigenous peoples into a suburban area with many residents commuting to work outside of the peninsula.

Thurston County remained as the local government providing governmental services and facilities in the Griffin area. This included a system of road, law enforcement, a court system, and public health regulation. Early roads were provide by the forced labor of adult males and property owners using a system of small road districts.

Thurston County created a system of public schools throughout the county. Mud Bay School District was formed around 1870 and served all of the northwestern portion of the county, including the Griffin community. The first schooling in what is now the Griffin community was in the late 1870’s at the log cabin of John and Ella Olson, located in what is now called the Holiday Valley Estates. Schneider’s Prairie School District was created out of part of Mud Bay School District in 1881. A schoolhouse was soon constructed at what is now the north end of Whittaker Road immediately south of the Highway 101 overpass. Territory was gradually removed from Schneider’s Prairie School District to create a number of new districts — Hunter Point School District at the north end of the Griffin peninsula in 1891, John Fry School District at the middle portion of the peninsula in 1891, and Oyster Bay School District at the southwest portion of Schneider’s Prairie School District in 1907.

These new districts were eventually reunited with Schneider’s Prairie School District, which was renamed as the Griffin School District. Oyster Bay School District consolidated with Schneider’s Prairie School District in 1922. John Fry School District consolidated with Schneider’s Prairie School District in 1923. The Schneider’s Prairie schoolhouse burned to the ground in the summer of 1926. Arthur Griffin owned considerable acreage on Schneider’s Prairie. He gave the school district five acres of land in exchange for the two acre site where the burned schoolhouse was located and the school district was renamed in his honor. A new brick schoolhouse opened at the new school property in the Spring of 1927. Hunter Point School District consolidated with Griffin School District in 1934.

Griffin School has changed since its early days. A new 12-classroom facility opened in 1969 and the old 1927 building was torn down. A middle school complex was added in 1978. Additional classrooms, and a gymnasium, music room, kitchen and cafeteria were added in 1989. A major remodeling project was completed in 2004.

Griffin Fire District (Thurston County Fire District No. 13) was created in 1962 to provide fire protection and emergency medical services in the Griffin area.

The county operates a public park at Frye Cove off of Young’s Road. Griffin School District and the county jointly provide additional facilities off of 41st Street.

Employment in the Griffin area during the early years of the modern period was based upon logging, farming, oyster growing, working on steamships, and working at local commercial enterprises. Major logging camps and logging rail roads at one time served the Griffin community and nearby area. Major shellfish harvesting operations also were located on both Oyster Bay and Mud Bay. These operations remain today, although the Olympia oyster is no longer the primary shellfish that is harvested. Somewhat large farming operations were located in the Griffin area at one time. Modern farming is much less substantial. A number of local businesses provide employment and services. Most residents now commute out of the Griffin area for their employment.

The Squaxin Tribe emerged as a major economic and cultural presence in the Griffin area during this period.

Copyright 2008 by Steve Lundin

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, or from WSU Extension.

If you have old historic photos of the Griffin area, or family stories of the old days in the Griffin area, please contact Steve Lundin at Steve is most interested in photos of the old two-story Grange Hall in the Griffin area and the old Schneider’s Prairie schoolhouse that burned to the ground in 1926.

State Supreme Court Places Limits on Thurston County Growth Management

From Futurewise, we received this information:

Four years ago Thurston County adopted its 20 year blueprint for future growth and development. Unfortunately, the County’s plan failed to adequately protect water quality, prevent sprawl, conserve farmland, and comply with state law – it was because of these reasons that we filed an appeal of this plan back in 2004.

After the County lost in numerous venues along the way, choosing to appeal rather than improve its plan, this case eventually landed in front of the Supreme Court. This morning, the Supreme Court issued its final and unanimous decision on the case.

Click here to read the full Supreme Court decision.

Today the Supreme Court agreed with [Futurewise] that Thurston County’s urban growth areas (UGA) cannot be larger than needed to accommodate the county’s adopted population projection and a reasonable market factor. Further, the Court agreed that Thurston County cannot use lands outside the rural area when determining if there is a variety of rural densities. The Supreme Court also rejected the county’s arguments that Futurewise could not appeal the county’s oversized UGA or county’s failure to protect the rural areas from sprawling development.

This is indeed another victory for Thurston County residents who want to focus growth in compact urban areas in order to protect rural character, water quality & quantity, and the remaining farmland of Thurston County.

In addition to these crucial determinations, there were three other issues addressed by the court:

  • A party/person may challenge a county’s failure to revise its UGA designations after a 10 year update if the state’s population projections for the county have been updated;
  • A party/person may challenge a county’s failure to revise aspects of a comprehensive plan that are directly affected by new or recently amended GMA provisions if a petition is filed within 60 days of the plan adoption; and
  • The court remanded the case to the Board to determine whether the County used a land market supply factor when sizing its UGA and whether appropriate rural densities were included in the plan.

Emergency Preparedness Fair – Sep 27

Don’t Be Caught in the Dark! Prepare Yourself!

Sponsored by The Emergency Management Council of Thurston County, St. Martin’s University, Qwest Communications, Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers, and, this fair is an annual event perfectly-timed before winter weather sets in. Local homeowners who have attended this event in the past give it high marks. Seminars, lots of free information, and vendors selling all sorts of emergency preparedness equipment will fill the St. Martin’s University Worthington Center and Marcus Pavilion.

Saturday, September 27
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
St. Martin’s University Worthington Center & Marcus Pavilion
5300 Pacific Avenue SE, Lacey

Click here for more information, including a schedule of presentations and a list of vendors, information and displays.

Thurston County Emergency Management has useful online resources, to help you to begin your emergency planning. Click here for that web page.

For more information about the Griffin Neighborhood Association’s emergency preparedness efforts, click this link to visit our web page.

What other emergency preparedness resources do you recommend to our neighbors? Post a Comment using the link below.

Griffin Fire Department’s New Web Site is a Winner

I confess it’s been awhile since I sought it out, but have you seen the Griffin Fire Department’s new web site? Web designer and fire department Lieutenant Max Hollander has put together an attractive and highly functional tool for the local community. If you’ve not yet seen it, click here and spend some time perusing what’s there and get an idea of what’s to come.

I especially want to point out the set of pages under the “Public Information” top-level menu. There residents will find out information about the seasonal burn ban and alternatives to burning, an offer to provide to homeowners very important address signs, and information about the Department’s ongoing series of CPR and First Aid courses.

The site contains a wealth of information about the work of the Department, its history and equipment, and how to volunteer.

There’s even a set of photos taken during recent calls.

Take some time to browse the site and bookmark its location.

Cougar Sighting Near Maple Shores

From local residents John & Stephanie Holttum, we received this notice and a photo about a cougar sighted near Maple Shores. This development is near Frye Cove Park.

August 14

Dear Neighbors,

In recent weeks we have suspected the presence of wild animals in our neighborhood, but assumed they were the usual deer and raccoons.

Today we photographed a cougar in our front yard. This is highly unusual behavior for a wild cat, both because of the daytime appearance, the proximity to our dogs (within 30 feet), and presence of construction workers next door (within 20 feet). The animal is equal in size to our dogs.

We have notified the Department of Wildlife. They advise the neighborhood to make sure that no pet food or other potential food sources are left out, and that small children and small pets are not left unattended outside. They are reviewing the pictures we took and may provide further information or action.

We would also like to take this opportunity to request your patience on our behalf and on behalf of all the dog owners in Maple Shores. Some have noticed more barking this summer than usual, and more than could be explained by construction workers or the normal visits from deer and raccoons. This is undoubtedly the reason. Living in the country, our neighborhood dogs are our allies and deserve our thanks for alerting us to this potential threat.

With Thanks,
John & Stephanie Holttum

Griffin Foundation Auction – September 13

Mark your calendars, get your tickets and make your donations of good-quality items now for the Griffin Foundation Auction!

The biennial Griffin School Foundation fund raising auction will be held on the evening of Saturday, September 13th, 5:30 to 10 PM, at the usual location in a circus tent in between the Grange Hall and golf driving range. This is a great event that should not be missed.

A number of Griffin Neighborhood Association members are attending the auction and have generously contributed items to be auctioned at this year’s event.

Tickets for auction and dinner, including two drinks (wine, beer, pop, or bottled water), are $45 per person. Tickets are available at Island Market and Sunrise Hair.

The Foundation is looking for good quality auction items. If you want to contribute an auction item contact Teri Weaver at

The main item that the auction will focus on funding this year is an electric reader board for the school that will be located on a triangular piece of property the school owns, in front of the old mink farm where Old Steamboat Island Road meets Steamboat Island Road. This will allow easy communication of school events, etc., by the school to the general public. Other featured targets to finance will be a trophy case, as a “bid-an-item” where bidders just indicate the money they wish to donate without purchasing an item. The Foundation has a generous matching gift challenge to provide more money for scholarships.

The Griffin School Foundation is a Washington nonprofit corporation operating under the umbrella 501(c)(3) status of The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. The Griffin School Foundation supports and contributes to the improvement of public education, and related needs, in the greater Griffin Community that are not, or can not be, support by traditional funding sources. These purposes are fulfilled by funding scholarships for Griffin School students or former students, funding educational and training opportunities for Griffin School employees and Griffin School Board members, funding capital improvements and equipment for the Griffin School District and Griffin-area youth, providing historical and other displays at Griffin School, addressing the special needs of Griffin students, and hosting events honoring our Griffin community senior citizens. Its website may be found at

It’s Primary Election Time!

Ballots for the Primary election are now out and, if you’re a registered voter, you should have received yours in the mail. If you are registered to vote and have not received your ballot, contact the Thurston County Elections office immediately at (360) 786-5408 (TTY (360) 754-2933).

There’s a ballot drop box, located in the parking lot of the Griffin Fire Department at 3707 Steamboat Loop NW. It’ll close at 8 PM on August 19 (election night). This is a real easy way to get your ballot in, without spending a dime on postage.

Not yet a registered voter? You can still register in time to vote in this Fall’s General Election. Click here to register to vote online through the Secretary of State’s Office.

Washington has a new primary. It’s not a “Blanket” primary and it’s not a “Pick-a-Party” primary. Back in 2004, voters approved I-872, which created a “Top-2” primary system. This was finally court-approved by the U.S. Supreme Court this last March. The Top-2 primary means that every candidate appears on your ballot and the top two candidates in each race move to the final General Election on November 4. In a Top-2 primary, it’s possible that the top two vote-getters in a specific race will belong to the same political party.

Judicial and non-partisan races are handled differently. For example, for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals, if any one candidate receives a majority of votes (50% + 1 vote), he or she will be the only candidate appearing on the General Election Ballot. If no single candidate receives a majority, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will appear on the General Election Ballot.

For the Thurston County Superior Court, if any one candidate receives a majority of votes (50% + 1 vote) in the Primary, that candidate is elected to the position and the race will NOT appear on the General Election ballot unless a declaration of write-in candidacy is received within ten days after the Primary Election.

It’s particularly worth pointing out is there are some judicial races in Thurston County that will be settled by the Primary Election, and not by the General Election. Judicial candidates are, in my opinion, some of the most difficult for voters. Luckily, there is some help. is an award-winning web site which nicely lays out the candidates, their credentials, and any endorsements. Click here to visit the Thurston County elections page on the web site.

Thank you, all you Griffin area homeowners who are both registered and actually vote!

Thurston County Elections has an excellent web site. Click here to go there.


Reserve Your Place Now – Benefit Lunches for Community Supported Agriculture

Local resident Velma Rogers has teamed with Food for Life Chef Maya Adjani, with support from the Olympia Food Co-op and Batdorf & Bronson to offer an informative and delicious series of benefits for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Food for Life Chef Maya Adjani will create a gourmet RAW food feast using seasonal locally grown produce for all to enjoy!

Food supplied by: Olympia Food Co-op
Beverages supplied by: Batdorf & Bronson

Featuring Local Farmers & Their Produce

Time: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Location: 9604 Hunter Pt Rd NW, Olympia WA 98502
August 23

September 13
October 25
November 22

$25 gift minimum required for any one of these dates – Space is limited.

To make reservations, gifts are requested 7 days in advance of the date of the event noted above. Make checks payable to “Velma Rogers” and mail to the address above.

Contact: Velma at 360-866-0244 or email at

The concept of CSA was described in greater detail in our previous posting about a similar event Velma put together. Click here to read that posting and to learn more about CSA and about Chef Maya Adjani.

Click here to download the flyer for this event.