Youth Legislature Seeking Host Homes May 5 – 8

For three days in May over 500 student participants from around the state will take over the Capitol and run a mock legislative session. In order to ensure all students, regardless of their financial situation, are able to participate in the Youth Legislature Program, YMCA Youth & Government offers opportunities for local families to host students during their stay in Olympia. This eliminates the cost of expensive hotel stays and offers a unique experience for volunteers and participants alike.

Volunteer Host Homes Needed May 5-8, 2010

Host families are asked to provide the following support:

  • Sleeping accommodations for Wednesday, May 5 through Friday, May 7 (If necessary and requested, students can bring sleeping bags.)
  • Greet students at your home on Wednesday, May 5 between 9:30 and 11 p.m.
  • Breakfast for students on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings prior to 8:00 a.m. 
  • Share dinner with your students on Friday, May 7, between 4:30 and 8:00 p.m.

Students’ advisors will provide transportation to and from all events
as well as all meals not specified above.

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering as a Host Family during the YMCA Youth Legislature is a great opportunity to. . .

  • Meet involved and motivated students from around Washington.
  • Support the future of your community by supporting your future leaders.
  • Be part of the democratic process by contributing to the education of our state’s youth.
  • Have fun!!

As always, our goal is to help young people grow into responsible, productive, and caring adults. Your ongoing support is very important in this process.

Click here to see the Host Home Registration form.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. For more information on this event please contact our office at 360-357-3475 or check out our website at

Griffin School Levy Request Goes to Voters; Rate Among Lowest in County

The Griffin School District will send a Maintenance and Operations Replacement Levy to voters this February 9, 2010. While the levy, described in a flyer distributed by the school district, will produce one of the lowest levy rates among districts seeking voter approval that day, the amount collected represents the highest percentage of those district operating budgets. Our local school district has an excellent track record in the judicious use of property owner’s dollars and I am writing here to encourage my fellow voters to approve the levy.

As reported recently in The Olympian, expected rates for this levy are $1.92 per $1,000 in assessed value in 2011 and $2.11 per $1,000 in assessed value in 2012. The rate is considerably lower than levies asked from North Thurston, Tumwater, Rainier, and Rochester Tenino districts. In 2009, Griffin’s levy collection rate placed it second lowest in school districts county-wide. However, The Olympian is reporting money from all levies represents nearly 24% of the District’s operating budget.

47% of the money collected will go to pay for educational programs and district-wide services including maintaining smaller classes, playground supervision and special education; 42% pays to send our high schoolers to other districts, mainly the Olympia School District; and 11% will go to transportation.

This levy is not a new tax. It replaces or renews the existing maintenance and operations levy, which expires at the end of the 2010 calendar year.

The Olympian reports that “Local districts have made millions of dollars in cuts in the past few years because of cuts in state funding.” This levy will provide important money to our local top-performing school district. Ballots are coming in the mail soon. Once you learn more about this levy request, I think you’ll join me in voting in favor.

Click here to read a copy of the Griffin School District’s flyer describing the 2010 Maintenance and Operations Replacement Levy.


Note from the Commissioner of Public Lands

Commissioner’s Note
Dear Friends & Supporters,

It has been exactly a year since I took the oath to uphold the state constitution, a year since I moved from my Okanogan ranch to Olympia, and a year since beginning my job as Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands.

When I ran for office, I pledged that Washington’s public lands would be healthier and more sustainably-managed with me at the helm—and today, as the Governor gives her State of the State address—I thought I might take the opportunity to give you my reflections on my first year in office.

It was a whirlwind of a year—marked by big successes and even bigger challenges, but ask a rancher if easy work ever yields grand results, and see what he says.

Here are the top ten issues & successes that, I think, best define my first year in office: 

1.      Establishing Guiding Principles for My Administration: I made it clear when I took the oath of office, that I would be principled in my decision-making and that my expectation was that every staff-member of the department would do the same. I pledged to lead by example, and forecast my three guiding principles: Manage the State’s resources sustainably; Make decisions based on sound science and; Make decisions in the public interest and with the public’s knowledge. 
2.      A Nightmare of a Budget: The first thing I had to do when I walked in the door of the Department of Natural Resource was to quickly address the realities of our budget and the timber market. It is never easy to make difficult choices around staff reductions and doing the people’s business with fewer resources, but we faced budget cuts in the tens of millions. It was a terrible spot to be in, and sadly, many smart hard-working people lost their jobs. Now I am focused on doing what needs to be done, with less. 
3.      Harvesting Energy through Biomass: At my request, the legislature authorized DNR to create two biomass energy demonstration projects to pilot new approaches for this emerging renewable energy industry. We’ve selected our green-energy partners and are well on our way to creating new revenue streams, healthier forests and green jobs in Washington. 
4.      Protecting Puget Sound: Clean water in the Puget Sound begins at the crest of the Cascades. As part of the Goldmark Agenda, the agency’s strategic plan, we are defining goals and measurable objectives that link our aquatic lands and our uplands and regulatory programs and opportunities for ensuring that the way we do business contributes to the Puget Sound recovery. 
5.     Preserving Land for Conservation:  When I go out on the land, I think about what will be left for future generations; which is why I designate places like the Middle Fork Snoqualmie as Natural Resources Conservation Areas (NRCAs). This 10,270 acre natural area, is nested along Interstate 90, and flanked by the Mount Si NRCA and federal forests. Natural areas, like this one, are designated to protect ecological systems and habitat for threatened and endangered plants and animals, while also recreational opportunities for all of us.
6.     Preserving Land at Risk of Conversion: Ask anyone I work with and they will tell you that I feel most at home when I am out, on the land, seeing how public lands are managed. One of my best memories of my first year in office was when I walked up to an overlook in the Raging River Watershed to announce the purchase of 8,000 acres of forest land that would permanently preserve a large piece of the greenway along I-90 for sustainable forestry, habitat, and public access. 
7.     The Aquatic Reserve on Maury Island: One of the first things I did after taking my job was to address the last-minute lease of state land for building a controversial dock in an aquatic reserve on Maury Island by my predecessor. I saw it as my responsibility to ensure that this lease was carried out in the best interest of Puget Sound and the people of the state. After reviewing the lease, I determined that NW Aggregate would not be able to comply with the lease in a way that is consistent with both the objectives of the DNR’s aquatic reserve or the clean-up and recovery of Puget Sound. 
8.      Having the Conversation—Small-Forest Land-Owner Summit: We can all agree that we want forests not strip-malls. With development pressure increasing, it is important for me to acknowledge the role I play in making sure that families and individuals, who want to stay in forestry, can. I campaigned on addressing the risk of conversion, which is why I’ve begun a conversation with land-owners about how we can support “anchoring” their forests in Washington, for the long-term.  
 9.     Managing the Largest Fire Department in the State: This year, despite the high number of fires and the hot, dry conditions on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, DNR limited the number of acres burned this year. I also cut costs in fire management by 20%! 
10.     Bringing 21st Century Technology to DNR: I have updated how we communicate with the public, with an eye towards increased transparency. Our new blog, “Ear to the Ground”  (, along with other social networking tools like Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and MySpace, will ensure that we follow through with my commitment to better, more responsive government. Putting our leases online and other improvements will insure that we are informing the public of our actions. 

As I have said in the past, thank you for the support, advice, and encouragement you have given me. I look forward to the challenges that 2010 is sure to bring, and as always look forward to hearing from you.  


Peter J. Goldmark
Commissioner of Public Lands

Counterintelligence Work in Afghanistan & Iran

A free public lecture on intelligence work in Iraq and Afghanistan will take place at 7:30pm in room 101 at the Olympia Center on Thursday January 21.
Professor David Price from St. Martin’s University will address the topic “Iraq, Afghanistan, and Anthropological Problems of Counterinsurgency.”
Professor Price is the author of two books on this controversial topic, which have been published by Duke University Press. The event is sponsored by the Olympia World Affairs Council. For more information call 360-867-0919.

Science Café of Olympia – January 12

The next Science Café is January 12. The topic is Western Washington’s Contributions to the Development of Artificial Kidney.

When:   7:00 pm, Tuesday, January 12
Where:  Barnes & Noble Booksellers (in the cookbook alcove)
1530 Black Lake Blvd. SW, Olympia, WA

Until the 1960s, kidney failure was universally fatal. The pivotal developments here in Western Washington changed all of that. These developments made possible the acute and chronic treatment of patients using the “artificial kidney”, or blood dialyzer. Today, over 200,000 lives are saved every year in the U.S. due, in large part, to the pioneering research by Western Washington scientists.

This is a fascinating story of the people involved (including the “Life or Death” committee), and how research and development in the field of artificial organs depended on the interplay of advances in many areas of study outside the field of medicine.

Giving us his first-hand account of this story is Donald Lyman, Ph.D. Dr. Lyman is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Bioengineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Utah. Prior to his retirement, he directed research in the synthesis and use of polymers for medical implants. Dr. Lyman was the recipient of the first grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (part of the National Institutes of Health) specifically aimed to create an interdisciplinary research center where scientists from different fields were brought together to develop a more comprehensive approach to finding biomedical solutions. He was also involved in the early development of the artificial heart.

Coming in February:
Bacteriophages: Natural, Self-Replicating, Self-Limiting Antibiotics
by Dr. Elizabeth Kutter, Evergreen State College