Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool Open House – August 15

Access to terrific local educational opportunities is a real feature in our part of the world. The Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool is a valuable asset to those of us living on the peninsula between Eld and Totten Inlets. If you have a child, aged 18 months to 5 years, you’ll want to learn more about preschool at SICP. On Saturday, August 15, from 10AM to noon, you can learn all about the advantages of a cooperative preschool education at an Open House.

At Steamboat Cooperative Preschool, “Our goal is to provide a balanced preschool program for the whole child, allowing for physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and creative exploration and growth.”

Open House
Saturday, August 15
10AM to noon
6240 41st Ave.

Directions: From 101 North, Take the Steamboat Island Road Exit. Turn left onto Sexton Drive NW. Take right onto Old Steamboat Island Road past Griffin Elementary School. Turn Right onto Steamboat Island Road. Take a left onto 41st Avenue. Look for the Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool sign (rainbow and balloons) on the right. Turn right into the driveway and follow the driveway all the way back to the preschool (blue building yellow water tank out front).

For more information, click here for the SICP web site or call them at 866-1819.

St. Christopher’s Provides Assistance to Local Families in Need

Area residents may be surprised to find out that St. Christopher’s Community Church provides a satellite for the Thurston County Food Bank. Presently, St. Christopher’s is supporting 14 local families. These are families in need, right here in our neighborhood.

The coordinator for St. Christopher’s efforts, Lindy Vincent, picks-up and delivers food from the Food Bank and also helps families with other necessities. This includes providing vouchers to purchase gas, so family members can get to work or to a job interview. St. Christopher’s provides assistance with clothing, furniture, moving families to new housing, and much more.

Summer is when donations are down and kids are home all day with no access to free or reduced-cost school lunches. Food donations are particularly welcome, right now.

Donations may be conveniently dropped at the main station of the Griffin Fire Department at 3707 Steamboat Loop NW.

Home gardeners with plentiful crops, please consider donating your excess to our local families. Fresh produce delivered directly to St. Christopher’s on Wednesdays, in particular, can be distributed to families on Thursdays. Please contact Lindy Vincent directly, at 866-6781, if you have fresh vegetables or other perishables to donate.

Local families in need can always use toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, shampoo, bar soap and dish soap too!

Coats, particularly as cold weather approaches, are welcome.

Donations of cash are used for gasoline and other purchases.

Right now, Lindy is looking for pots and pans, for a family receiving services.

If you can help, especially on a regular basis, please give Lindy a call at 866-6781.

Blueberry Bash – August 16

Mark your calendars for this year’s Blueberry Bash, Sunday, August 16, 12 noon to 4 PM. This is an annual event, not to be missed, at St. Christopher’s Community Church, 7902 Steamboat Island Road NW.

In fact, this is the 32nd Annual Blueberry Bash!

Celtic/Irish music by “Cricket on the Hearth.”

Enjoy lunch – hot dogs, brats, corn-on-the-cob, real ice cream milkshakes, nachos, and their famous blueberry pies. In addition to lunch and lots of yummy treats, there will be a raffle and silent auction. This year you will see more free activities with the addition of Family Games such as a 3-legged race and an egg/balloon toss. There will also be children’s activities, including face-painting, a lollipop tree, duck pond and frog launch. Did we forget to mention music? Come and join us for a very pleasant afternoon at St. Christopher’s Blueberry Bash.

If you would like to donate items or services to the raffle or silent auction, please contact Lisa Andrew (866-4062) or Meredith Hutchins (491-3365). Local businesses are invited to contribute, too.

St. Christopher’s Community Church
August 16
12 noon to 4 PM

Please bring non-perishable food to donate to the Thurston County Food Bank.

Sign your kids up for Sunday School, too. Sunday School starts September 13.

Questions? Call 866-2111 or email

Click here for more information about St. Christopher’s Community Church.

Olympia World Affairs Council Providing Important Insights to Local Residents

Since 1984, the Olympia World Affairs Council has provided a forum for many world voices and person-to-person discussions. The Council offers a series of monthly programs focusing on international political, economic, cultural and scientific affairs. It’s is non-profit and non-partisan and it is one of the organizations that makes Olympia a terrific place in which to live.

The Olympia World Affairs Council’s free programs are usually held at 7:30 P.M. on the third Thursday of the month, September through May, at the Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia.

In the upcoming months, speakers will present on topics ranging from whether a two state solution is possible, in the Middle East, to a discussion of Anthropology, Intelligence & War.

Diplomats, professors, scientists, Federal and State officials, business executives and labor leaders have presented to the Council.

Click here for the upcoming calendar of Council speakers. We’re looking forward to seeing you at one of these fascinating Council events.

County Releases Information About Potential Changes to Development Regulations – You Have 11 Days to Comment

Thurston County Preliminary Docket of Development Code Amendments is available for review. The docket is divided into four priority levels. Lower priority subjects may not be addressed this year.

The purpose of the docket is to provide information about potential changes to development regulations that the County is considering. The Board of County Commissioners chooses the topics from a “Preliminary Docket,” maintained year-round, and places them on an Official Docket, which is forwarded to the Thurston County Planning Commission for proposal development and review. This docketing process is used to provide the public with information about and opportunities to participate in the amendment process.

Priority A Topics: Time extensions for project approvals, forest lands conversion, rural building sizes and special uses, conservation lots, incompatible use buffers, presubmission conferences, junk vehicles, wineries, accessory buildings, off road vehicles, and energy efficiency standards.

Priority B Topics: Boundary line adjustments, recreational lots, appeal period work prohibitions, property owner notification, expiration deadlines, manufactured housing, childcare centers, helipad requirements, and planned residential developments.

Priority C Topics: Agricultural structures, HVAC equipment in setbacks, front setbacks, school mitigation, density requirements, right to farm, and Grand Mound residential lot width.

Priority D Topics: Urban Growth Area code updates, wireless facility fencing, critical area fence requirements, composting roof requirements, clarify Olympia UGA commercial district, kennel waste management plans, building setbacks by active rail lines and trails, and miscellaneous clerical corrections.

Copies of the preliminary docket are available through the Permit Assistance Center at the address below, and the Thurston County web site:

The purpose of the public review period is to receive written comments. After the public review period, an Official Docket will be adopted by the Thurston County Board of Commissioners.

Please submit written comments to Jeremy Davis, Associate Planner, Thurston County Strategic Planning, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Olympia WA 98502 or at . Phone: (360) 754-3355 ext. 7010. Written comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. July 31, 2009. Citizens with hearing impairments may call the TDD line at (360) 754-2933.

If you know someone who would like to subscribe to the GMA email listserv, please have them send an email to

Emails about long range planning projects sent to will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member in as timely a manner as possible.

For more information, please visit:

County Commissioner Candidates Face-Off (Sort Of)

From TCTV, we have two televised forums featuring candidates for Thurston County Commissioner, District 3. We’ve profiled these candidates before on this blog and now we have a chance to see them in something approaching a debate forum. The incumbent is Democrat Karen Valenzuela, who was appointed to the position by Governor Gregoire after Bob Macleod resigned at the end of last year. Valenzuela is challenged by another Democrat, Dan Venable, and a Republican, Pat Beehler.

Ballots for the primary will be mailed within the next couple of weeks, so the first round in this election is just around the corner.

Unfortunately, scheduling all three candidates appears to have presented too great a challenge, for either of these TCTV programs. The League of Women Voters were able to get only the two Democrats – Karen Valenzuela and Dan Venable – together. Olympia Master Builders was only able to get their two members – Republican Pat Beehler and Democrat Dan Venable – to attend that forum.

Watch these here or click on the links below the program, to view them (much larger) on

Click here to view the League of Women Voters program on

Click here to view the Olympia Master Builders program on

Summer Picnic Features Good Food, Good Neighbors, and Good News

2009summerpicnicLocal residents filled Prosperity Grange this last Saturday to attend the Griffin Neighborhood Association’s annual Summer Potluck Picnic. Many brought salads, desserts, and snacks to add to the burgers and hot dogs cooked up by GNA Board member Beau Altman. Board member and past GNA President, Gary Goodwin, acted as Master of Ceremonies for a program that included comments by County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela, Representative Fred Finn and Capitol Land Trust Executive Director Eric Erler. Around the perimeter of the dining room were arranged displays from the GNA, the newly-formed Steamboat Conservation Partnership, the GNA’s emergency preparedness project, and the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.

Karen Valenzuela described her principal goals as a County Commissioner. Of particular interest to many in attendance is her interest in determining whether it is appropriate to assess impact fees on development in unincorporated portions of Thurston County. Impact fees are typically assessed in order to offset the costs of building out infrastructure required to support higher population densities. Presently, the County does not assess impact fees. Although the Growth Management Act and other regulations seek to focus development in urban areas, the absence of impact fees could make it cheaper for developers to build outside the Urban Growth Areas. By assessing impact fees, the County could take an important step to “level the playing field,” Valenzuela said, and remove an incentive to creating urban sprawl in our region.

Valenzuela, who was appointed by the Governor to fill out the term of Commissioner Bob Macleod, is running for election this November. Ballots for the primary election will be in the mail within weeks. Click here to read a piece regarding her candidacy. She has both a Democratic and a Republican opponent, who we’ve profiled previously on this blog.

Invoking a quote by Otto von Bismarck (“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”), local resident, GNA Board Member and 35th Legislative District Representative Fred Finn described the last legislative session. The focus of the next legislative session is likely to continue to be the budget, Finn said.

Among the bills Finn successfully shepherded to passage, this last year, was a bill which re-emphasizes the use of reliable, high-quality science in Puget Sound cleanup. Another bill authorized the use of safe, alternative refrigerants in a motor vehicle’s air-conditioning equipment, and another rescued Mason’s County McKernan fish hatchery from closure. A fourth bill guaranteed tougher punishment against those who damage to or steal from Christmas tree farms.

After introductory remarks by Dave Schuett-Hames, President of the GNA, Eric Erler, of the Capitol Land Trust, stepped up to describe the creation of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. This is an exciting opportunity for local residents to fund efforts by the Trust to identify property right here on the Steamboat Peninsula – activities to conserve special natural areas in the Steamboat Peninsula region and that maintain connections between these lands through corridors useful for wildlife movement. Examples of special natural areas include marine shorelines, estuaries (including pocket estuaries), freshwater streams and riparian habitat, prairies, wetlands, and upland forests.

Erler described a pocket estuary, on Totten Inlet, which has already been identified and which the Trust is currently working to preserve. This property has been described in a recent article that appeared in the Olympian.

The editorial board of the Olympian also wrote a fine piece regarding the creation of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership in today’s newspaper. Click here to read that editorial.

Many thanks to the Prosperity Grange, for allowing us to hold this year’s picnic in their facility. Thanks also to the many neighbors who brought food and contributed their time, their bar-b-que grills and their ice chests to this worthy and very enjoyable event.

Community Meeting to Discuss No Shooting on Eld Inlet – July 30

Should a No Shooting Zone or a Controlled Shooting Zone be established for the southwestern shore of Eld Inlet? That’s the question area residents can help the Board of County Commissioners answer at a community meeting on July 30th.

“The Board of County Commissioners has received requests from several residents who live along or near the southwestern shore of Eld Inlet to prohibit the discharge of firearms in the vicinity of their homes. Others have spoken out against the zoning change,” according to a press release from the Commissioners.

In addition to the Board, Representatives from the Thurston County Planning Department, Sheriff’s Department, and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will be on hand to educate residents on the current policies and procedures and to answer any questions. Mike Gaffney, Associate Director of the Washington State University Department of Governmental Studies and Services will act as facilitator.

Community meeting on No Shooting Zone in Eld Inlet
Thursday, July 30th, 7 – 9pm
Griffin Fire Department, 3707 Steamboat Lp NW, Olympia, WA 98502

Click here to read our previous piece regarding a petition to ban hunting on Eld Inlet.

Steamboat Conservation Partnership Formed to Protect Wild Areas Here at Home

SCP-logoThe Griffin Neighborhood Association is forming a unique partnership with the Capitol Land Trust to help conserve special natural areas in the Steamboat Peninsula area.

Capitol Land Trust is an Olympia-based nonprofit group with an impressive track record of working amicably with private land owners to protect key scenic and wildlife areas. During the past twenty years, the trust has permanently secured more than 3,000 acres and ten miles of South Sound shorelines through purchase or easement agreements.

By investing in this partnership with the land trust, Steamboat residents will ensure that the land trust will focus considerable time and expertise on exploring the best ways to protect wild shorelines, forests, meadows and wetlands particularly critical to the environmental health, rural charm and beauty of the area.

To help make the partnership as successful as possible, Steamboat residents are being asked to raise $15,000 a year for the next five years to help cover land trust costs. Any donations will be welcomed, but the Griffin Neighborhood Association is particularly seeking generous donors willing to commit as much as $300 a year. This opportunity is unlike most tax-deductible donations in that the money you give goes directly toward your community.

The land trust can be trusted to use the money wisely. It is a small, efficient organization with a reputation for making big things happen. The benefits of its work can already be felt out here, seeing how it has protected more than a thousand acres in the Eld Inlet watershed, including critical areas in the Wynne Farm, Schirm Farm and Sanderson Cove areas. Click here to see local areas already protected by the Capital Land Trust.

The land trust operates in a friendly, non-confrontational way that simply works. As a result, it has what few environmental organizations have — the blessings of both Republicans and Democrats. One of its most outspoken advocates is former Secretary of State Ralph Munro. Click here to read the piece entitled, “Capitol Land Trust: A Model That Works.”

As a show of enthusiastic faith in this new Steamboat Conservation Partnership, Griffin Neighborhood Association board members will pool and present an initial round of donations to the Capitol Land Trust at the July 11 summer picnic at the Prosperity Grange. Eric Erler, the land trust’s executive director, will be speaking at the event and available to field questions.

To learn more about the land trust go to To request more information about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, contact Griffin Neighborhood Association members Peter Reid (867-0919), Elizabeth Roderick (866-9797) or Jack Sisco (866-0240). Click here to visit our information page.

UPDATED: Click here to read an article in the Olympian regarding the creation of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

Image above from the web site of the Capitol Land Trust.