Litter is Pollution, Say Local Volunteers

Thank you to all the volunteers for a successful roadside litter pickup this weekend!

On Saturday, April 20th members of the Griffin Neighborhood Association and neighborhood volunteers cleaned up litter and debris along sections of Steamboat Island Road, Old Steamboat Island Road, 33rd Ave NW, Sexton Drive NW, and Madrona Beach Road NW. Roadside signage, safety cones and safety gear were provided by Thurston County Public Works.

We appreciate everyone’s efforts in reducing and eliminating litter and pollution in our neighborhood and shared spaces. Whether it be cleaning up roadside litter in front of your home or business, participating in a litter cleanup event, or simply picking up litter in your free time – know your efforts are noticed and do make a difference. Here are some facts you may not know about litter:

Washington Ecology reports that in 2018 Thurston County was counted as having the second highest number of pounds of litter cleaned up by paid workers in the Southwest Region of Washington: 190,223 lbs. In comparison the highest was Clark County at 290,982 lbs, the lowest was Wahkiakum at 120 lbs of litter. Thurston County also had the second highest number of illegal dump sites cleaned up at 307 sites. The highest was Cowlitz County at 494 dump sites, the lowest was Wahkiakum at 3 dump sites.

Volunteer litter cleanups events DO NOT count towards these statistics and government agencies such as Thurston County and Washington Ecology are limited in their ability to clean up all the litter. Many dumpsites go undiscovered or left in place, and much of roadside litter is either scattered by wind, animals and/or rain, or deposited in places too difficult and/or dangerous for cleanup crews to access. Finally, the efforts it would take to clean up all litter and debris out there is far beyond the time and ability of the current number of cleanup crews and volunteers on task. A much as we wish and hope that litter will become a thing of the past through education and litter prevention programs such as Washington Ecology’s ‘Litter and it Will Hurt’, that simply has not been the case. The ‘Litter and it Will Hurt’ program did reduce overall litter by 25% while it was in effect, however, the program was suspended in 2009 when Washington litter cleanup taxes were diverted to support other state priorities. Since then it has been left to Washington Patrol Officers to enforce Washington litter laws. Thurston County Public Works runs a volunteer program but also does not have the means to enforce litter laws. (References: https://ecology.wa.gov/Waste-Toxics/Solid-waste-litter/Litter/Past-litter-prevention-programs and https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks/Docs/LitterControlProgram.pdf).

Litter is pollution. Litter is comprised of various paper products, metals, plastics, food waste, wood waste, rubber and cement products, among other things. Even seemingly innocent “compostable” items such as banana peels, apple cores, and food paper wrappers are in fact litter, and while they may not contain pollutants (possibly pesticides) are simply unsightly and unwanted on our roadsides and in our public places. Plastics, metal containers and treated paper products have component such as dyes and additives that can be toxic and/or carcinogenic, with the potential to leach into soils and water-ways disrupting the natural food cycle. Litter has been linked to algal blooms, poisoning of fish and wildlife, and can even harm your pets and livestock. It is now estimated that there is more common household litter polluting our waterways than pollution from industry. According to USA Today the “worst offenders” are cigarette butts, fast food wrappers and cups, plastic bags and food (again, yes, that apple core is in fact litter).

This is why it’s so important for litter cleanup to be a combined community effort. If you care for your neighborhood, your neighbors will take notice and care more too. The opposite effect is if you litter (or leave litter in place when you see it), other people will see the litter and litter too. This is known as “The Broken Windows Theory”: the concept that each problem that goes unattended in a given environment affects people’s attitude toward that environment and leads to more problems.

There is a saying that goes “If you see it, you own it.” If you see litter, join us in this effort and please pick it up – we and your neighbors thank you!!

To get on the GNA Litter Pickup mailing list and get involved with volunteer efforts in your neighborhood please email Rob Helms at robdhelms@gmail.com. The next litter pickup is scheduled for 9 AM Saturday, June 1, 2019. Meet in the gravel parking lot across from Steamboat Tennis and Athletic Club.

Click here to read our prior article on this topic, “Roadside Litter Pickup This Saturday is Part of a Quiet, Long Tradition.”

Town Hall Meeting April 24th to Focus on Wildfire Season

“In Thurston County, wildland fire is the most frequently occurring hazard, seeing an average of 70 wildland fires per year.” So begins the County’s web page regarding how you can make your home more secure during wildfire season. We don’t think of wildfires in our part of Western Washington, but as the summers become drier it may be prudent to familiarize ourselves with some basic changes we can make in order to build a defensible space around our homes. On Wednesday, April 24th the Griffin Neighborhood Association will host a presentation by Thurston County Emergency Mangement on the topic of “Neighborhood Preparedness and Home Protection during Wildfire Season and the ‘Ready, Set, Go’ Evacuation Program.” We hope you’ll join us.

The National Fire Protection Association has created an informational program called “Firewise.” Their website contains a wealth of useful materials for homeowners in rural areas such as ours. This page, in particular, describes the concept of the “home ignition zone” as a means of describing how controlling fuels can build a natural defense protecting homes and outbuildings from wildfire.

Click the image for a larger version.

There are three zones radiating out at distances of zero to five feet, five to 30 feet, and 30 to 100 feet from the home. The space within five feet – the “immediate zone” – is the non-combustible area. “Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers.”

From five to 30 feet, tree spacing and creating breaks in lower vegetation provides the greatest benefit.

Beyond 30 feet, “the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.”

For more details about these three zones, click here.

Firewise is on Facebook, too.

At this month’s Town Hall meeting, Vivian Eason, Emergency Management Coordinator for Thurston County Emergency Management, will also speak about the County’s evacuation plan.

One important step you can take to help in an evacuation is to sign up for emergency alerts and notifications. Click this link for more information about the kinds of alerts available and to sign up.

Town Hall Meeting: “Neighborhood Preparedness and Home Protection during Wildfire Season and the ‘Ready, Set, Go’ Evacuation Program”
Wednesday, April 24
6:30 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

A wealth of information about preparing for a variety of disasters is available on the Thurston County Emergency Management website.

If this information is valuable to you, and you would like to see more like it, please join the Griffin Neighborhood Association. If you own property, a business, or reside in the Griffin area, you are eligible to become a member of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Click here for more information and to join online. Thank you! from the GNA.

“Steamboat Soiree” to Benefit Prosperity Grange This March 23rd

Click the image to view a larger version.

Since 1909 the Prosperity Grange has provided community support and event space on the Steamboat Peninsula. This March 23rd the Grange will host a fundraising event with proceeds to go to the maintenance of this valuable local resource. The feature of the night includes a chocolate demonstration from Blissful Wunders and music by the five-piece jazz band Vendredi’s Bag. Appetizers, Blissful Wunders’ chocolate truffles, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will be served. A silent auction will be held and all donations to Prosperity Grange are welcome.

According to their website, “Vendredi’s Bag comprises a group of musicians who love Django and Jobim right along with Irving and Miles. They draw songs from across continents and ages, incorporating jazz standards, Latin grooves, bebop, acoustic funk, and gypsy swing into their performances. The group is based in Olympia, WA and includes mandolin, flugelhorn, electric piano, upright bass, and drums.”

“Steamboat Soiree” to benefit Prosperity Grange
Saturday, March 23
6:30 to 10 PM
Doors open at 6:30.
Vendredi’s Bag takes the stage at 7:00.
The chocolate demonstration by Blissful Wunders is at 7:30.
The silent auction will close at 9:00.

Prosperity Grange is located at 3701 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia, WA 98502.

The folks of Prosperity Grange have planned a terrific event. We hope you can join us in supporting the 110-years-young Prosperity Grange this March 23rd!

Also, mark your calendar for April 6, when Prosperity Grange will host a flea market.

Are you planning a public or private event? Let Prosperity Grange provide you with the perfect venue. Rental of the Grange is open to anyone in the community. The Grange features a stage and full kitchen. For more information, contact them at (360) 970-5652.

Prosperity Grange is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/prosperitygrange/

Vendredi’s Bag

Roadside Litter Pickup This Saturday is Part of a Quiet, Long Tradition

In April 2006, John Dodge, the features writer for the Olympian, published an article entitled, The Angels of Steamboat Island Road’ – Dedicated crew incorporates exercise, cleanup into daily routine. The article began:

Just about every morning, anywhere from one to four retirees who live near Totten Inlet’s Gallagher Cove lace up their shoes for a two- to three-mile walk on the county roads in their neighborhood.

But they do more than walk. They pick up litter, too.

Local residents included Keith Anderson, Tom Martin, and Edward and Susan Hill. For more than four years, Dodge wrote, these “Angels of Steamboat Island Road” combined walking with a little community service. “It’s rare for volunteers to stick with it as long as they have,” said the head of Thurston County’s litter control program. “The low-traffic, low-speed county roads don’t get cleaned up without the volunteers.”

Coverage of our 1st Annual Picnic, in 1996, mentioned the “Litter Patrol Contest.” Click the image for a larger version.

Of course, the history of litter cleanup dates back earlier than the Angels. For example, in 1996, the Griffin Neighborhood Association held its 1st Annual Potluck Picnic. One of the events at that picnic was a “Litter Patrol Contest.” Teams of contestants picked up litter from 10 AM to noon. The team collecting the most won prizes. The event was repeated at the following year’s picnic, too. History does not record who won the contest or what the prizes were. What is certain, however, is the entire community benefitted from a little less litter along our roadways.Read More

Community Meeting Wrap-up: “Living With Wildlife” and GNA Year in Review

It was standing room only at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters when the Annual Community Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association was convened this last week. The keynote speaker was Matt Blankenship, a wildlife conflict specialist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, whose presentation was entitled “Living with Wildlife.” The Association held its Board election, and a video presentation provided a photo review of some of the Association’s activities over the last year. Representatives of several local organizations were also available to meet with residents interested in learning more each group.

The Year in Review

In 2018 the GNA continued its tradition of offering a summertime community picnic. Musical guests Humor & Heart played. Taylor Seafood Farms made a generous donation of seafood and staff to prepare and serve shellfish delights we’re fortunate to offer at a community event of this kind. Association Board members and volunteers crewed the event and local businesses and organizations pitched in with donations and staffed informational tables. We covered the event in two pieces published before and after the picnic.

This last November the Association hosted a town hall on traffic safety, featuring representatives of the Sheriff’s Department. If you’re on Nextdoor, you can read a thorough summary here.

Volunteers associated with the GNA also conducted several trash clean-ups along area roads in the last year. A schedule of future clean-up events will appear on our Facebook Page and Nextdoor’s Events calendar.

Click here to view photos from this last year’s events.

Local Organizations Featured

Here are the names and links to information for the not-for-profit organizations that provided information at the Community meeting:

Arbutus Folk School. Local contact is David Paul.

Catholic Community Services

Feline Friends

Fences for Fido. Local contacts are Mike and Becky Reavis.

St Christopher’s Church and Food Pantry. Local contacts are Lindy Vincent or Bill Hanna.

Steamboat Island Church

“Living With Animals”

Matt Blankenship’s presentation greatly interested all of us. Before this meeting who knew Fish & Wildlife employed “wildlife conflict specialists”? Mr. Blankenship described many of the animals with whom we share our Peninsula and provided tips about how to enjoy them and, in some instances, how to protect our property from them. His presentation highlighted the presence of deer, woodpeckers, coyotes, bobcats, black bears, and cougars in our area. There were a lot of questions at the Q&A that followed! One big takeaway had to do with the variety of resources available to us from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. Also discussed was the importance of reporting especially large animal sighting (for example, bears and cougars) to Fish & Wildlife. Their phone number is (877) 933-9847, and there is a web page for making reports of dangerous wildlife at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/dangerous/reports/

Here is a link to a downloadable PDF copy of the “Living With Animals” presentation.

Thank you to Board members Jan Hopwood and Jim Goldsmith for this year’s keynote speaker.Read More

Annual Community Meeting Thursday, January 24

The Annual Community Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association will be held on Thursday, January 24th. This meeting is at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters. Doors will open at 6:00 PM for a half-hour of socializing. Snacks and beverages will be provided and local non-profit organizations have been invited to set up at tables within the meeting room. This is a nice opportunity to meet with neighbors and catch up on what’s happening in the Griffin area.

The formal program begins at 6:30 PM. There will be a brief business meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. This includes nominations and voting for half the positions on the Board of the Association. The Bylaws of the GNA provide for a Board of between 10 and 17 members in size. Folks owning property or residing within the Griffin School District are eligible to serve on the Board and each year about half the Board positions come up for election.

Please consider this your invitation to join our Board. If you or someone you know are interested in serving on the Board of the GNA, this link to the Board Member FAQ (frequently asked questions) may answer some questions about what it means to work on the Board.

This year’s keynote speaker is Matt Blankenship from the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife. Mr. Blankenship is a “wildlife conflict specialist” and he will speak on the topic of “Living With Wildlife.” In our rural environment, this is a topic sure to be of interest to all of us!

If you represent a local non-profit organization and would like to host a table at the Community Meeting, please email Becky at furacres@gmail.com.

Annual Community Meeting
Thursday, January 24
6:00 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Community Meeting!

Your Online Shopping Can Help Support the Griffin Neighborhood Association

Did you know your purchases on Amazon.com can benefit the Griffin Neighborhood Association? It’s true. At no additional cost to you, any purchases you make on Amazon can return a modest commission to the GNA, but only if you visit Amazon using our special Internet address.

It’s easy. Just begin your browsing at SteamboatIsland.org/Amazon It’s that simple. Or, find our link, near the links to our Facebook Page, Twitter feed, and Nextdoor, located to the right of our website’s masthead.

Any purchase you make, when you start your shopping at SteamboatIsland.org/Amazon will return a little commission to the Association. The price you pay will not change. 

Thanks for your support! from the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Thurston County Offices on November’s Ballot

For this election, “local candidates” include offices in the County government, District Court, and the Thurston Public Utility District.

As I have noted in the prior pieces of this series, a good starting place to familiarize yourself with the candidates is the online voter’s guide. This is an online version of the paper one you probably received a week or two ago. The online version, however, includes links to campaign web sites and campaign financing details.

Among the offices within County government there are only three positions where there is a contest between two candidates. The race for Commissioner of the Public Utility District also has two candidates. For the other five non-judicial positions, the incumbent is running unopposed for reelection. Let’s focus our attention first on the races that involve actual contests between two candidates. These are the Auditor, County Commissioner (District 3), Prosecutor, and Commissioner of the Public Utility District.

County Auditor

The incumbent is Mary Hall, a Democrat. Hall was first elected Auditor in 2013 and she is running for re-election.  

The challenger is Stuart Holmes, an Independent. 

It may be worthwhile to take a pause here and point out there are no candidates running for the County’s partisan positions who describe themselves as Republicans. The easiest way to determine the political leanings of any candidate is probably to look at who’s contributed directly to the candidate’s campaign. This won’t easily answer questions about non-campaign spending – that spending made by interest groups working for or against specific issues of candidates – but a visit to the state’s Political Disclosure Commission’s website can be enlightening. In the online voter’s guide, too, there are links to “Who donated to this candidate’s campaign?” that provide the same details.

County Commissioner

The Griffin area is within District 3 and this seat is our district’s commissioner. We choose, in the primary, what candidates are promoted to the General Election. But, in the General Election, all voters in the County will be eligible to vote for the Commissioner.

Bud Blake, Independent, was elected to the seat in November 2014 and he is running for re-election.

Tye Menser, Democrat, is running to unseat Blake.

Both candidates have extensive lists of endorsements and additional information on their campaign websites. By clicking on any candidate’s name here, you will be taken to that candidate’s website.

County Prosecutor

Jon Tunheim, a Democrat and Steamboat Peninsula resident, is looking to retain his seat for another 4-year term.

Victor M. Minjares, also a Democrat, is the challenger.

Read More

Legislative Candidates on the Mid-Term Ballot

Because the President isn’t on the ballot, some voters consider the midterms to be less important. If the list of initiatives described in an earlier part of this series doesn’t argue convincingly that’s not the case, the number of legislative representatives on this November’s ballot just might.

The Griffin area is contained within a portion of the 35th Legislative District. This district covers parts of Kitsap and Thurston counties and all of Mason County. For this election, all three of our representatives in the state Legislature are being decided. These are our State Senator and two State Representatives.

As we have noted in the prior pieces of this series, a good starting place to familiarize yourself with the candidates is the online voter’s guide. There you will find biographical information and statements from each candidate. Among the links below are those to each candidate’s campaign website. The key votes of incumbents can be reviewed online at VoteSmart.org and elsewhere.

State Senator

State Senators serve 4-year terms of office.

The incumbent is Tim Sheldon who was first elected to this office in 1998. From 1991 to 1997 he was one of the District’s representatives in the House. These are only two of the several elected offices in which he’s served, sometimes simultaneously. He runs as “prefers Democratic Party,” but his top two contributors are the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. Click here to see his key votes. In his voter’s guide statement, his campaign wrote, “He is known as a legislator who works with members of all political parties to find common sense solutions without new taxes.”

The challenger is Irene Bowling, who unsuccessfully ran against Sheldon in 2014. Like Sheldon, she is also running as “prefers Democratic Party.” However, her top single contributor is the 35th Legislative District Democrats. In her official statement she writes, “I know how frustrating it is to see Washington State’s economy flourish while our own district has struggled.” “As a small business owner, I understand the struggles people face every day with red tape, paperwork, and government inefficiency.”

Read More

Here are the Initiatives Coming to Your Ballot this November

This November we’ll see four initiatives on our ballot. And one of those “Advisory Votes” required by law, but which do not carry the force of law. The requirement to hold advisory votes came about through an initiative (I-960) approved by voters in November, 2007.

The online voter’s guide contains a good deal of useful information about each of the initiatives. There you will find a link to the full text of the initiative, an explanatory statement, fiscal impacts, and official arguments for and against each initiative.

Initiative Measure No. 940 “concerns law enforcement.”

According to the explanatory statement, “This measure addresses three aspects of law enforcement. First, it addresses when law enforcement officers may use deadly force. Second, it requires de-escalation and mental health training for officers. Third, it requires officers to provide first aid in certain circumstances.”

It’s important that voters realize the importance of this this initiative removes de facto immunity enjoyed by law enforcement in Washington, when deadly force is used. That immunity from prosecution is replaced with a so-called “good faith” standard. It also requires independent investigations of police who use deadly force.

The website at https://www.deescalatewa.org/ provides information in favor of the initiative.

I have been unable to locate a comprehensive website representing arguments opposing the initiative. However, voters should know the Washington State Fraternal Order of Police agreed to restrictions on the use of deadly force, and some of the ideas contained within I-940. But the FOP ultimately announced it opposes I-940. The history for this is confusing. It has to do with steps taken by the Legislature.

The State Legislature passed a bill, HB 303, which was signed in to law this last Spring. You can read that law here and the FOP has said it supports HB 303. The Legislature had expected the passage of HB 303 would ensure I-940 would never make it to voters. A court challenge, however, put the initiative on the ballot, even after a compromise law was passed. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled the passage of HB 303 didn’t follow the law. In its ruling, the Court said lawmakers only have three options when an initiative is qualified for the ballot: approve a competing ballot initiative; reject the voter’s initiative; or amend it, in which case voters have to make the final decision between the original initiative and the amended version. In passing HB 303, the Legislature didn’t choose any of these options. So the Court voided HB 303 and cleared the way for I-940 to appear on the ballot.

Leslie Cushman, co-chair of De-Escalate Washington, was reported to have written, “We appreciate and honor the work we did with law enforcement and will work with law enforcement to make sure the policies in 3003 become law. And to do that, we need the solid policies of 940 in place.”

Read More