Annual Community Meeting Featured a Packed Agenda, Board Election

Griffin neighbors converged on the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters Wednesday night to participate in the annual Community Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. The packed agenda included reports from the President and Treasurer of the Association, the election of half the Board, and an opportunity to hear from and question a variety of local leaders. A presentation by Thurston Energy rounded out the evening.

Board President Dave Schuett-Hames reported on the activities of the Board over the prior year. Highlights of the year included a successful fundraiser for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership; the celtic band Gaelica packed the Prosperity Grange last March. Our summer picnic, at Frye Cove, featured seafood dishes prepared by local chef Xinh.

Dave introduced the outgoing members of the Board. After many, many years of service, Kathleen O’Shaunessy is retiring from the Board. Jim Lynch and Randi Johnson are also retiring from the Board. All of them will be missed, but were sure to see them at future neighborhood events.

Treasurer Gary Goodwin reported the Association ended the year with a bigger balance in its accounts than at the beginning of the year. Although fundraising focused on the Steamboat Conservation Partnership, the GNA made donations of $200 each to the food bank at St. Christopher’s Church and the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group.

Association Bylaws provide for a Board of between 10 and 17 members. Each year, roughly half the Board positions are up for election. Members present at the Community Meeting were presented with a slate of nominees. In addition to local residents already on the slate, one more nominee stepped forward. A total of seven positions were filled on the Board.

Many thanks to returning Board members Donna Hursh. Dave Peeler, Peter Reid, Dave Schuett-Hames, and Bob Whitener. New Board members are Marty Beagle and Diane Wiley.

Two positions remain open. Local residents who may be interested in serving on the Board are encouraged to speak with a Board member and to read the Association’s “Board Member FAQ”. Click here for the entire list of current Board members and find a link to the FAQ.

A veritable cavalcade of local leaders spoke with area residents. Remarkably, all those who were asked to come and speak were able to do so.

Greg Woods, Griffin School Principal, described recycling efforts at the Griffin School and other steps being taken to reduce the school’s energy footprint.

Fire Chief John Wood and Commissioner Jim McGarva provided an update on Griffin Fire Department activities, including the purchase of the Department’s new fire truck.
Lindy Vincent and Linda Bradford spoke about activities at St. Christopher’s Church. These include ongoing plans to expand the church and Lindy’s work providing support for local families in need.
State Representative Fred Finn briefly described steps being taken to meet the state’s budget shortfall.
Karen Valenzuela, Thurston County Commissioner, spoke of the12% staff cuts made last year, to reduce the County’s budget. But she also told us that long-term budget projections continue to be troubling.

Valenzuela reminded residents that progressive environmental policies cannot move forward, without active community support.

John Snaza, Thurston County Sheriff, told those present that 85% of Sheriff Department’s budget is wages. Putting deputies in the field is a chief priority of his.

Jon Tunheim, Thurston County Prosecutor, also spoke at the Community Meeting. He spoke about steps he is taking to improve the functioning of the Prosecutor’s Office. Tunheim is a local resident, too, and he became a member of the Griffin Neighborhood Association at the meeting.

Ramsey Zimmerman, Program Director for Thurston Energy (and a local resident), described the HomePLUS Energy Evaluation Package. With HomePlus, homeowners can receive a comprehensive energy assessment of their home, including recommendations to improve its energy efficiency, referrals to qualified energy contractors, and access to a wealth of other resources designed to reduce energy costs.

Several of those who turned out for this meeting also became new members of the Association or renewed their membership. For more information on how to join the Griffin Neighborhood Association, or to renew your membership, click here.

Coffee service was donated to the event by the Starbucks store at 315 Cooper Point Road NW (Cooper Point and Harrison). Hot water, for tea service, was donated by the Starbucks store at the Capital Mall. Many thanks to Starbucks for this generous donation. The refreshments provided an opportunity to socialize, before the meeting, and kept us going throughout the evening.

Science Café – February 8 – “About Changes in the Earth’s Spin and the Moon’s Orbit”

When: 7:00 pm, Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Where: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee House, 516 Capitol Way South, Olympia, Washington. Phone 360.786.6717

Batdorf & Bronson has three locations in Olympia. Science Café meets in the downtown coffee house on Capitol Way. On-street parking is available on Legion, Capitol Way, Columbia Street, and Water Street. After 6 p.m., there is parking available at Heritage Bank on Columbia Street between 5th and Legion.

Our topic in February is “The longer day: How rocks can tell us about changes in the Earth’s spin and the Moon’s orbit.”

Our planet is currently experiencing a long-term increase in the length of a day of 20 microseconds per year, meaning each day is, on average, nearly 55 nanoseconds longer than the last. Even our familiar moon is not static in its orbit around Earth, increasing its average distance from us by 3.8 centimeters per year.

Chris Coughenour, Ph.D. (The Evergreen State College) will discuss how these phenomena are intimately related, why our corner of the solar system is undergoing such changes, and why these changes have not been constant in the distant past. He will also tell us how, through the geologic record of preserved tidal cycles, this long-standing problem first recognized by Edmund Halley may be solved throughout Earth’s long history.

March Topic: Tuberculosis in the 21st Century, presented by Diana Yu, M.D., Health Officer, Thurston and Mason Counties.

All Are Welcome to a Community Meeting, Wednesday, January 26

Click here to download a copy of our flyer.

Please join us for a Community Meeting on Wednesday, January 26, at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters. The meeting begins at 7 PM, but folks are invited to come by beginning at 6:30, for coffee, snacks, and conversation.

The annual Community Meeting is an opportunity for the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association to report on its activities over this last year.

You do not have to be a member of the GNA to attend the meeting. However, if you are a current GNA member, you can nominate and vote on Board members.

We have a number of guests from the local community coming to speak with us and to field questions from those in attendance. We’ve received confirmations that these local officials will be attending the Annual Meeting:

Fred Finn, State Representative, 35th Legislative District
Karen Valenzuela, Thurston County Commissioner
John Snaza, Thurston County Sheriff
Greg Woods, Griffin School Principal
John Wood, Griffin Fire Department Chief

We’ll get an update on building activities at St. Christopher’s Community Church.

There will also be a presentation from Thurston Energy. Thurston Energy was recently profiled in an article by John Dodge, in The Olympian. While that article concentrates on the ways this program benefits local businesses, the same kind of benefits are available to home owners. The program is particularly beneficial to home owners who are customers of Puget Sound Energy for either electrical or gas service. Because of a subsidy paid by PSE, home owners can receive a PSE certified HomePrint™ Energy Evaluation from Thurston Energy, at a big discount ($95 to qualifying PSE customers). Smart home owners have learned a great deal of cost savings can be produced by a relatively few energy-saving improvements to their homes. Thurston Energy can help identify specific improvements and can provide information about local contractors and other resources for everything from energy conservation to solar power installation.

We’ll also be collecting donations of food and cash for the branch of the Thurston County Food Bank operated locally by St. Christopher’s Community Church. Please bring a donation of canned food or cash to help our neighbors right here in the Griffin area.

This is always a good time to either consider joining the Griffin Neighborhood Association or renewing your GNA membership. Click here to join or renew your membership in the GNA.

For more information about the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association, click here. Links on that page will take you to the Bylaws and frequently asked questions regarding serving on the Board.

If you are interested in serving on the Board of the GNA, please click here to read our Board FAQ. Contact any Board member for more information. The phone numbers of all Board members are on this page.

We look forward to seeing you at our annual Community Meeting.

Volunteer Host Families Needed for May’s YMCA Youth Legislature

Local host families are being sought for the 64th Session of Washington State YMCA Youth Legislature. This year the Youth Legislature will meet May 4 through May 7.

According to Jane Vroman, Program Director of YMCA Youth & Government, “This year we have over 450 students coming to Olympia, many in need of host families. Host homes provide an alternative to costly hotel stays and offer a unique experience for our students and community volunteers.”

Youth delegates from around the State of Washington are in need of the following:

  • 3 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast for 3 mornings
  • Dinner one evening

Delegates range in age from 14 to 18 years old and come from all over the state.

A volunteer packet may be downloaded online. Click here for that web page.

If you are interested in hosting students during the YMCA Youth Legislature please contact: YMCA Youth & Government, (360) 357-3475, or email or

Human Rights in Iran

A free, public lecture on human rights in Iran will take place at the Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. at 7:30pm on Thursday January 20th.

Arzoo Osanloo, Associate Professor in the University of Washington Law, Societies and Justice Program, will share her extensive knowledge of human rights in Iran. Doctor Osanloo also holds adjunct appointments in the School of Law and Departments of Anthropology, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Women’s Studies and Comparative Religions.

Recently, Princeton University Press published The Politics of Women’s Rights in Iran by Professor Osanloo. For more information about this outstanding scholar and teacher visit her website.

The event is sponsored by the Olympia World Affairs Council. For more information call 360- 867-0919 or visit their web site at

Science Café to Present Overview of Washington Archeology, January 11

When: 7:00 pm, Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Where: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee House, 516 Capitol Way South, Olympia, Washington. Phone 360.786.6717

Batdorf & Bronson has three locations in Olympia. Science Café meets in the downtown coffee house on Capitol Way. On-street parking is available on Legion, Capitol Way, Columbia Street, and Water Street. After 6 p.m., there is parking available at Heritage Bank on Columbia Street between 5th and Legion.

Our topic in January is Archaeology of Washington.

Dr. Rob Whitlam, Washington State Archaeologist, will present an overview of the archaeology of Washington. The tour will take you across Washington state and through 12,000 years of its history.

February Topic: The longer day: How rocks can tell us about changes in the Earth’s spin and the Moon’s orbit. Christopher L. Coughenour, Ph.D., The Evergreen State College.