GNA Annual Meeting Had Full Agenda, Full Room

The Annual Meeting of the GNA had a full agenda. Held in the Griffin Fire Station, January 28th, it attracted a full room of area residents. Featured speakers were from the Sheriff’s Office, local fire department, and one of our representatives to the State Legislature. There were also updates to the community related to a number of projects occupying the GNA. Several open positions on the Board of the GNA were also filled, in an annual election.

Sheriff Dan Kimball and Sergeant Dave Odegaard

Sheriff Kimball addressed the membership and took questions. While we live in an area generally regarded as safe, there are some common-sense steps we can take to secure our property and our families. Sheriff Kimball pointed out that, although we live in a rural area, there are incidents of break-in, especially during the work days. At nights, cars and detached buildings are sometimes targets for criminals. It makes sense to keep our homes, cars, detached garages and outbuildings locked.

Identify theft is a growing problem. Sheriff Kimball described situations where criminals would follow the postal delivery car, rifling the contents of mailboxes for material that could be used to perpetrate identify theft crime. A locking mailbox will go far to stem this kind of crime. Many local residents already choose to post their outgoing mail at the post office or in the USPS dropbox in front of the Island Market.

For more information about the County Sheriff Department, see their web site at

Griffin Fire Chief John Wood and Captain Dwayne Barch

Chief Wood and Captain Barch answered questions regarding fire station operations. They pointed out that ours is a volunteer fire department. Local residents interested in volunteering should contact the fire department at 866-9000. Click here for more information about what it’s like to be a fire department volunteer.

First Aid and CPR classes are popular. These are usually free or very inexpensive. Typically, any charges go to whatever organization is providing the certification. A First Aid class will convene at 6 PM, February 4. A CPR class will be held at 6 PM on February 5.

In addition to emergency services, local residents can use free notary public service, at the main fire station. Other services include free blood pressure checks, smoke detectors and batteries, address signs for your home, emergency preparedness plans and pamphlets, and burn permits and burn ban information.

For more information about the Griffin Fire Department, see their web site at

Representative Fred Finn

Local resident and GNA Board Member Fred Finn was elected to the State House of Representatives this last November. Representative Finn is now serving on several key committees in the House. He is on the Audit Review & Oversight, Ecology & Parks, Environmental Health, Technology Energy & Communications, and Transportation committees.

The session began just a week or two before the Annual Meeting. “It’s like drinking from a firehose,” Finn told GNA members.

Click here for Fred Finn’s legislative home page.

There’s also a link to sponsored legislation and news on both our State Representatives and Tim Sheldon, our representative in the State Senate, on the GNA web site. Click here, then scroll down to “Your State Legislators in Action.”

Steamboat Conservation Partnership

Peter Reid addressed the membership on progress to create a conservation partnership. Such a partnership would allow the community to buy up and conserve land in the Steamboat area.

Reid said that, at this time last year, GNA members working to create the partnership would have expected that, one year later, we would be in a position to be eliciting financial support from the community. However, progress has been slow. Nonetheless, there is progress in creating a partnership with the Capitol Land Trust. Presently, draft legal documents are being reviewed by representatives of the Trust and GNA members working on this project.

St. Christopher’s Community Church

Fr. Pete Van Zanten came with architectural drawings of the planned community center. Progress is slow, but the project is moving forward with a new parking lot already having been cleared, this last summer, with access directly to Steamboat Island Road.

An effort is being undertaken by the local diocese and St. Christopher’s to secure some federal funding for the project. This funding will be contingent upon the center being used for the benefit of the community. Already, St. Christopher’s is hosting a local branch of the Thurston County Food Bank and meetings of a local Alcoholics Anonymous group, as well as others. There are plans to open a preschool, this next Fall.

Fr. Van Zanten said the church was also seeking to host a scouting group. Any community members who may be interested in leading a scouting group should contact the church.

The Center will be able to support the community in time of an emergency. It’s designed to serve as a shelter and to store supplies. It will be handicap accessible.

Funding continues to pose a challenge and community members are welcome to visit the church’s web site, for more information on the project and to contribute financially to it.

Fr. Van Zanten also announced the church will be offering a preschool, beginning in the Fall, for children ages 3 through 6 years. St. Christopher’s is holding an Open House, on March 16th, for interested parents to learn more about the program and to meet the Director and Preschool Board.

Preschool Open House
March 16, 5 PM to 8 PM (drop by, when you can)
St. Christopher’s Community Preschool
3320 – 79th Ave. NW

For more information, call the church at 866-2111.

Blueberry Farm Update

For some time, the GNA has sought rights to manage the blueberry farm and to make it available to the public. When the property was sold for development, members of the GNA met with representatives of the developer. It became necessary to secure liability insurance and, to do that, the GNA sought an arrangement with the South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust whereby the Trust would purchase the insurance and be reimbursed by the GNA. The GNA itself cannot purchase this coverage, since it is not a federally-recognized 501(c)(3).

In the time that has elapsed, since discussions with the developer commenced, the situation at the blueberry farm has deteriorated. Members of the South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust arranged to tour the blueberry farm with a local hydrologist. What they found was not promising and may cause us to have to rethink our plans for the resource parcel owned by the Blueberry Hill development.

The hydrologist described the blueberry farm as a bowl which is comprised a great deal by soils that are not very pervious. Water is collecting in low spots and drainage through culverts under Steamboat Island Road and on to the north of the parcel is poor. Possibly, the land in some spots is sinking, since the culverts are now above the ground level, causing the water to collect. There is also some beaver activity on the site, which is further exacerbating the drainage problem.

Water is flowing from home sites above the farm, both those in the Blueberry Hill development and from adjoining parcels. Previously, members of the GNA have addressed this problem with the County, but have been told the stormwater management from those parcels is up-to-code and, therefore, the County will not intervene to reduce the amount of water coming from those parcels and collecting in the blueberry bog.

Members of the Farmland Trust also found that many of the remaining blueberry plants on the property are stressed and may be reaching the ends of their natural lives. Some plants still remain in isolated spots – mostly high spots – around the parcel.

Unless a solution is found to reduce the water collecting in the bog, replant, and remove shrubs and blackberry vines which have grown around the parcel, we will lose the blueberry farm as a community resource. The GNA Board will discuss its next steps, at an upcoming meeting.

Will Savage, whose family owned the blueberry farm, said that he has a plan which will divert the water from the parcel. His plan will divert water on to his property, which is located south of the blueberrry farm. He will use the water to cultivate fish.

“For the next month,” Mr. Savage told the membership, “I will be at Character’s Corner each Saturday at 2 PM, for the next month. Folks who are interested in a plan to save the blueberry farm can meet with me there.”

Emergency Preparedness

GNA Board members Beau Altman and Norm Johnson described the ongoing effort to contact area residents with an emergency preparedness survey. The purpose of this survey is to identify local resources – equipment and skilled members of the community – which would be valuable in times of local emergency. The survey would also identify households which might have members who will need special attention.

Norm Johnson and others have, for a year or more, visited with homeowners in their neighborhoods, to collect emergency preparedness survey information. However, with nearly 6000 residents in our area, we’re going to need a lot more community involvement, if we’re to identify resources and plan appropriately.

Residents should expect to see more information coming from the GNA regarding a revitalized effort to engage our community in a coordinated effort to prepare for emergencies.

Click here for information regarding emergency preparedness on the GNA web site.

Board Election

Terms on the Board of the GNA are staggered. The Bylaws permit a Board of from 10 to 17 members in size.

This year three Board members have retired. They are Jerry Handfield, Kathy O’Connor, and Velma Rogers. Many thanks, to you three, for your service to the community.

Two Board members whose previous terms ended this year were nominated to serve again. Both Bob Whitener and Dave Schuett-Hames were entered into nomination.

The names of two new community members, Jim Lynch and Peter Reid, were entered into nomination. No further names were entered.

The four names entered into nominations were approved by those GNA members present at the meeting.

The current Board of the GNA is:

Beau Altman – Gayle Broadbent – Fred Finn
Gary Goodwin – Norm Johnson – Steve Lundin
Jim Lynch – Mark Messinger – Eric Moll
Kathleen O’Shaunessy – Peter Reid
Elizabeth Rodrick – Dave Schuett-Hames
Bob Whitener – Chris Wickham

Support the GNA by Shopping at

For those of you who shop online, you can easily support the GNA, when you shop at Simply pass through our web site, on your way to Amazon’s. Bookmark at Whatever purchases you make, while there, will result in a modest commission for the GNA. Your prices and conditions of purchase won’t change at all.

Griffin Neighbors Online Discussion Group

For those of you interested in chatting online with other members of the local community, there’s an online group, GriffinNeighbors, at If you would like to join this group, send an email to and ask to be sent an invitation.

Come See “The Music Man” at Griffin School

Griffin School PTO in partnership with Capital Playhouse’s Students on Stage Program Proudly Present “The Music Man”. Based on the story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson.

Friday, January 30th at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 31st at 2:00 pm, 7:30 pm at Griffin School Auditorium – 6530 33rd Ave. NW, Olympia

Pre-sale tickets $5.00 At the Door Tickets $7.00

Tickets will be available at Steamboat Island Market on Mon., Jan. 19th thru noon on Fri. Jan 30th, Griffin school lobby from 3:00 – 3:30 M,T,Th & Fri.

Contact for more information.

Sheriff’s Department Community Alert

Date: January 23, 2009

Neighborhood/Area: Northwest / Steamboat Island

Nature of alert: Residential Burglaries

Details: In the past two weeks, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has responded to five Residential Burglaries in the area of Keating Rd., Gravelly Beach Lp. NW, Steamboat Island Rd. NW, and Island Dr. NW. At this time there are no known suspects.

Entry has been gained through the garage door. It appears that if the garage door is locked; the suspect (s) have been using a device such as a credit card to “jimmy” the lock. Two of the burglaries reported have occurred at night time.

Contact info: If you have information on these incidents, please call Detective Lieutenant Chris Mealy at (360) 786-5508.

Crime Prevention Tips: Make your residence appear as if someone is home: leave a light or television on.

(You can also use timers)

Make sure your residence is secured.

Window blinds should be open.

Inform a neighbor if you are going to be away for the night or longer.

If you have a monitored alarm system, make sure that the alarm company knows how to contact you. If your alarm is not monitored and is audible outside make sure your neighbors know how to contact you.

Note: Most all burglaries occur in the late morning to early afternoon hours (While we are at work)

Report all suspicious activity by calling 911 or the non-emergency dispatch number (360) 704-2740

Area Residents Should Support the Building of the St. Christopher Community Center

In the early 1960’s, local homeowners recognized they could be better served by a local fire department. According to the web site of the Griffin Fire Department, “A citizen’s group solicited time, money, and skills from the 1,035 property owners in the area. Five thousand dollars was raised to start building the first two fire barns. These barns eventually became [Griffin Fire] Station 13-1 and Station 13-2. The Prosperity Grange leased adjacent land to the Department for the construction of the first barn (Station 13-1). Station 13-2 was built next to Rignall Hall. The construction of these buildings was done by volunteers. An auxiliary was formed and raised money for equipment and two fire trucks.”

The community banded together to make a sizeable investment in an important asset of benefit to the entire community.

Now is the time for residents of the Griffin area to come together again and help to build a facility all of us can use. I’m speaking of the St. Christopher’s Church community center.

I’ve written in this space of the project. This last August, I wrote about the groundbreaking for the expanded parking lot. Two months earlier, I wrote a piece that included an artist’s rendering of the project.

Progress is continuing, both in activities on-site and in planning with the County’s Development Office. But participation by the community – financial contributions from those of us who recognize the value of this project – is needed.

This last summer, we published a letter regarding the project. That letter read, in part:

For the past 10 years the members of St. Christopher’s Church (79th and Steamboat Island Road) have been planning a facility that will have a positive impact on the lives of all of us living in this area. Our projected 6,000 square foot community center includes multi-purpose rooms, a conference room and a large divisible meeting room. This project has been designed in large part in response to neighborhood surveys submitted by many of you. To build a facility for use an hour or so each week makes little sense compared to daily use by our neighbors.

St. Christopher’s members have raised just under a half million towards this 1.5 million dollar project and can take on a certain amount of debt.

With its Steamboat Island Road entryway, lighted parking, and clean modern facilities, this center will meet the needs of all ages and support many activities from scouts to 12-Step programs, after school tutoring, neighborhood association meetings, and senior activities to name just a few. We hope to be designated as a Red Cross Disaster Center.

You can help this facility happen with your gift to: “St. Christopher Community Center.” The appropriate IRS acknowledgment will be sent to you.

If you would like more information, please call 866-2111.

It was my pleasure to make a contribution to this project and I hope you will consider doing so, too. Although I’m not a member of the church, I believe the project will provide the entire community with a useful facility, conveniently located near the midpoint of the Steamboat Island peninsula.

In 1962, area residents dug deep and created a lasting resource that contributed a great deal to the quality of life here in the Griffin area. Now is the time for residents to come together and support the St. Christopher Community Center.

Click here to make a secure contribution, using a credit card, on St. Christopher’s web site.


Annual Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association – January 28

Join us for our Annual Meeting, next Wednesday at the Griffin Fire Station.

Each year, the Griffin Neighborhood Association holds its annual meeting. The purpose of the meeting is principally to report to the community on activities by the Association, to elect half our Board, to present information on topics of interest to our community, and to present homeowners her with an opportunity to re-connect with one another.

Wednesday, January 28
7 PM to 9 PM
Griffin Fire Station
3707 Steamboat Island Rd. NW

Special guests expected to attend include Mr. John Wood, Griffin Fire Department Chief, Thurston County Sheriff, Mr. Dan Kimball (pictured above), and Representative Fred Finn. All will speak and will be able to answer your questions.

This year’s agenda also includes:

  • An update on the demise of the proposed Steamboat Island Conference Center
  • Steamboat Blueberry Field update
  • An update on progress to expand St. Christopher’s Church
  • Steamboat Area Conservation Partnership
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Election of the GNA Board of Directors
  • and more

All current members of the GNA can participate in the election of the Board. The Annual Meeting is a good time to get your membership up-to-date, if it’s lapsed.

We’re looking forward to seeing you Wednesday evening!

South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust’s Annual Meeting, Potluck, & Country Dance

The South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust, a valuable community resource and an organization with which the Griffin Neighborhood Association has partnered, is having their Annual Meeting, Potluck, & Country Dance on January 30.

January 30 2009
6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
South Bay Grange Hall
3918 Sleater-Kinney Road NE, Olympia

Come help save local farms for the future! Join the Trust for their Annual Membership Meeting, where you can learn about their work, vote on land trust business, and play your luck in their fabulous farm basket raffle. You’ll also share a delicious meal with your friends and fellow land trust members, and get the chance to kick up some dust on the contra dance floor. The evening is open to all – current members, prospective members, and anyone else interested in our work. There will be a craft and activity area for kids. Bring a dish to share with your friends and neighbors.

Co-sponsored by the South Bay Grange.

Contact Membership Coordinator Caitlin Krenn at (360) 402-0302 or for details.

Edible Forest Garden Workshop – February 13 & 14

Terra Commons will be installing an Edible Forest Garden at Dale and Terry Stubbart’s home, 2633 Westwind Dr. NW, towards the end of Steamboat Island road on Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14.

The bulk of the work for this workshop will be on Friday, as it is a small site. For this site we will focus on shade tolerant species as shade is very abundant here, so feel free to come and learn more about food growing in the shade. On Saturday we will finish up with everything and be there to answer questions about Edible Forest Gardens.

This workshop will also be weather dependent so please check our website for an update.

For more information visit

Community Yoga – Tuesday Evenings at Prosperity Grange

UPDATED 1/25/2009: The yoga classes are canceled until further notice.

You’re invited to a free community yoga class, meeting every Tuesday evening at the Prosperity Grange. All levels, no experience necessary. Please bring a mat and eat only lightly if not at all prior to class.

Prosperity Grange
3701 Steamboat Island Road N.W., Olympia, WA, 98502
5:30 PM to 7 PM
Every Tuesday, unless otherwise stated on the door of the grange hall

For more information, contact Betsy Grace at 561-6200 or

Free Workshop “Neighborhood Approach to Stream Restoration” – February 4th

How can your neighborhood improve wildlife habitat? Get rid of invasive plants? Take care of that neglected neighborhood stream?

Join us for a workshop on the basics of habitat restoration and stream maintenance. Thurston Conservation District staff will help workshop participants understand how to assess the habitat value of their neighborhood stream, learn ways to improve or restore important stream features, and discover techniques to get your neighborhood involved.

Wednesday Feb. 4th, 2009
6 to 7:30 PM
Olympia Timberland Library (313 8th Ave SE, Olympia)

For more information, contact Kandi Bauman at (360) 754-3588 or

Commissioner Dysfunction or Clever Tactic? You Be the Judge

After many long weeks of work, Thurston County Democrats discharged their responsibility by sending to the Thurston County Board of Commissioners a list of three candidates to replace Bob Macleod. However, Commissioners Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero were unable even to agree on a process for selecting a replacement from that list.

The top three candidates selected by Thurston County Democrats were:

  • Karen Valenzuela
  • Susan Bogni
  • Walt Jorgensen

Click here to see the final vote results.

Legally, the remaining two commissioners are to select Macleod’s replacement. Failing that, the Governor must make the appointment.

Despite all the work done by Thurston County Democrats, work that included public forums, written applications and responses to questions posed to each candidate (and available online at, Commissioners Wolfe and Romero were unable to come to an agreement as to even how to proceed to discharge their responsibility to the citizens of Thurston County.

It’s now up to Governor Gregoire to select a commissioner for our district.

In a January 8th editorial appearing in the Olympian, editors wrote:

It’s a failure of leadership and Thurston County Treasurer Robin Hunt rightfully blasted the pair for their failure. In an e-mail sent to Romero and Wolfe Wednesday, Hunt said, “I was blown away when I read that the governor has to make the (appointment) because the 2 current commissioners can’t agree. This does not bode well for you 2 running the county when you are unable to come to some simple agreement on a straightforward process. . . . Please do your job instead of bailing as it reflects poorly on our county. We have a tough enough job with the times we are in.”

What the heck happened?

Commissioner Romero advocated for appointing Karen Valenzuela, the top choice of Thurston County Democrats, to replace Macleod for the duration of his term. As reported in the Olympian, “Romero noted that Valenzuela was the top choice of ‘elected PCOs’ and the vote ‘wasn’t even very close.'”

In a phone message, Wolfe said, “I feel it’s my job to pick from the top three choices of the Democratic Party. And they did send us three names and I feel it is incumbent upon us to evaluate those names and pick the next person that will be the best fit.”

Personally, I have to admit that I concur with Robin Hunt’s assessment of the situation. Commissioners Wolfe and Romero should have made this call. They should have come to an agreement on the process in order to execute their responsibility to the citizens of the County. Instead, it appears to me they didn’t even try. I hope this does not presage the level of performance we’ll see from this Board of Commissioners. In any case, it is a most regrettable start.