The Griffin Fire Department is Asking for Your Email Address

The Griffin Fire Department is moving to an electronic means of sending their periodic newsletter to residents within the fire district. However, to make this move successful, they need to begin to accumulate a list of email addresses for property owners in our area.

By moving to an electronic newsletter, the Griffin Fire Department can dramatically reduce the cost of producing and distributing its newsletter.

Please add yourself to their email list by downloading a copy of their form, filing in your name and email address, and sending it to the Griffin Fire Department.

Click here to download a copy of their form. It is a PDF form, so you can fill it out right on your computer using Acrobat Reader. Click the “Print Form” button and drop a copy off at the fire department headquarters (Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm).

You can choose to fax completed forms to the Griffin Fire Department. Their fax number is 866-6927.

Depending on how your computer is set up, you may find you can click the “Print Form” button (in the upper right corner of the form) and then print to a PDF file. Then you can email your form directly to

Contact the Griffin Fire Department at 866-9000 for more information.

Thanks for helping the Griffin Fire Department build their email database and reduce the costs of producing their newsletter.

“Shellfish in Your Front Yard” – Free Workshop July 21st

Register now for this free workshop.

Shellfish in Your Front Yard
July 21, 2012, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters
3707 Steamboat Loop N.W., Olympia.

Attend this Washington Sea Grant workshop and learn about identifying, cultivating and safely harvesting shellfish on your beach.

Participants will learn about the biology of bivalve shellfish, which shellfish grow best on their beach type, and various methods for enhancing tidelands with clams, oysters and mussels. The workshop will also focus on ways to protect water quality so that harvested shellfish will be safe to eat.

Workshop instructors include local shellfish farmers and Washington Sea Grant staff. The workshop will feature classroom and on-the-beach activities.

Bring a sack lunch and your mud boots!

Space is limited, so pre-registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Janis McNeal, Washington Sea Grant, at or (360) 432-3054.

Click here to download a PDF flyer of this event.

Japan: A Year After the Tsunami

Japan: A Year After the Tsunami

April 26, 2012 at 7:30pm
The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. Olympia
Free lecture, open to the public

Professor Robert Pekkanen, Associate Professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, will discuss politics, economics, demographics, Japan’s role in the region and its relations with the USA.

His first book, Japan’s Dual Civil Society: Members Without Advocates (Stanford, 2006) won the Ohira Prize in 2008.  Pekkanen’s fourth book examines party organization and theories of institutional change and origin through the case of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party. The Rise and Fall of Japan’s LDP: Political Party Organizations as Historical Institutions (Cornell University Press, 2010).

Sponsored by the Olympia World Affairs Council.

The Annual “Death to Scotch Broom” Blog Posting

Every year, around this time, all those yellow flags – those scotch broom flowers – come out to wave. Next will come the seeds and, next year, more scotch broom. There are noxious weeds and then there’s scotch broom. Now is an excellent time of year to get serious about reducing the amount of scotch broom on your property.

So, responsible rural property owners want to know: What makes scotch broom so bad?

Scotch broom is a prodigious seed producer. The seeds have hard coats enabling them to survive in the environment for up to 80 years. Once established, scotch broom forms dense brush fields over six feet tall. The brush fields diminish habitat for grazing animals, such as livestock and native animals. Areas of dense brush shade out and kill native grassland plants in invaded areas, and favor invasion by other woody, non-grassland plant species.

Scotch broom prevents reforestation, creates a high fire hazard, renders rangeland worthless and greatly increases the cost of maintenance of roads, ditches, power and telephone lines. Wildlife suffers as the growth becomes too dense for even quail and other ground birds to thrive. Being slightly toxic and unpalatable it is browsed very little by livestock.

If you cut your trees, so that a lot of sunlight reaches the ground, you’ve probably now got scotch broom to cut.

How do you eradicate scotch broom?

There are two schools of thought, those who say pull out the whole plant and those who will tell you, if you’re clever and your timing is right, all you need are a pair of lopping shears.

From the School of Pulling Out the Plant, we get these instructions:

Pull out the entire plant, including roots. When the soil is moist, small plants can be pulled easily by hand. Winter and spring are good seasons to do this.

Larger plants must be removed with a tool such as a Weed Wrench. Be sure to remove the entire plant. Broken stems re-sprout and are much harder to remove for the next person. Plants can be left where pulled.

One of the benefits of being a member of the Griffin Neighborhood Association is members can rent our Weed Wrench.

Not yet a member of the GNA? Dang, what are you waiting for?! Click here to join online.

From the School of Cutting Broom in Bloom, we get these instructions:

First, cut broom in bloom. Use loppers or small saws and cut broom right at ground level.

Broom puts all of its energy into making flowers. If you cut it while in bloom, it will most likely die in the summer’s dry heat.

If you have to make a choice, go after single plants and small infestation to prevent its spread.

If the broom is huge, cut off as many of the branches as you can. If the broom is small and not blooming, you can return and cut it next year when it blooms.

It is most important to not let the broom go to seed! Cut before June 17 (this date is from Vancouver Island’s “BroomBusters” web site, so it’s probably earlier, down here in the South Sound).

CUT DOWN ALL YELLOW FLOWERS so that they can not turn into seeds. Each scotch broom plant can produce 2,000 to 3,500 seed pods – which burst open, shooting seeds into adjacent soil. If you cut them while in bloom – no seeds!

HERBICIDES applied in the spring when new leaves are present are another effective control tool, but always remember to read the labels carefully and exercise extreme care when applying chemicals, especially near waterways.

DO NOT BURN SCOTCH BROOM! When exposed to fire, its seeds burst from their seedpods. Also, the smoke from burning scotch broom is actually toxic and may seriously irritate the respiratory tracts of you, your family, or your neighbors.

TAKE SCOTCH BROOM TO THE DUMP. The best way to get rid of scotch broom, once it is cut, is to take it to Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center.

The Thurston County Noxious Weed Control Agency offers the following information and services to the public: Educational presentations, plant identification especially those that may be noxious weeds, consults on your property, prescriptions for specific noxious weed problems and what the county approves for its own use, free disposal of designated noxious weeds at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery centers, and limited use of a manual removal tool called the wrench. Also available are many informational brochures and pamphlets as well as several videos.

So, responsible homeowner, get out there and cut your scotch broom!

Arts & Crafts/Flea Market an Opportunity to Support the Prosperity Grange

The Prosperity Grange is holding an Arts & Crafts/ Flea Market Sale on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21. The hours both days are 9AM to 5PM. 

The Prosperity Grange is located at 3701 Steamboat Island Rd. NW.

Arts & Crafts Sale

Grange members will set up an arts and crafts sale, in the kitchen of the grange hall.

If you have new or gently-used items to donate for sale, please drop those off at the Prosperity Grange on Thursday, April 19, between the hours of noon and 5PM. The items should be priced to eliminate a lot of work for a few grange members.

Donated items which are unsold need to be picked up on Sunday after the event. Or other arrangements can be made with Faye Olson when the items are dropped off.

Flea Market

Come sell at the Flea Market!

To reserve a table and sell at the Flea Market, please contact Faye Olson by e-mail at or phone at (360) 534-0456. The cost is $20 and a table is included. Whatever you make, in sales, you keep.

If the weather is nice and folks want to set up outside that will also be okay.

Please support the Prosperity Grange

The Prosperity Grange is in significant financial jeopardy. It is presently a challenge for them to pay property taxes and to purchase propane to heat the building. Event rentals of the facility, a significant source of income, have dropped off in recent years.

The Prosperity Grange was formed in 1910 as a community hub with social, charitable, and community support as its goals. It is affiliated with the Washington State Grange and the national Grange.

Are you looking for a location to host your event? Rental rates at Prosperity Grange are reasonable. Monday – Thursday (excluding holidays) rent at $125.00. Rentals on Friday – Sunday and holidays are $225. For rental information, contact Bill Wake at (360) 866-3909.

The Grange meets monthly on the first Wednesday (except July and August), 7PM to 8PM.

The Prosperity Grange is on Facebook. They are also online here.

“Truth Like the Sun”, the Latest from Local Author Jim Lynch, is Released April 10

The latest book from local resident Jim Lynch, the author of The Highest Tide and Border Songs, goes on sale Tuesday, April 10.

To celebrate, Fireside Bookstore is hosting an event in the ballroom of the Hotel Olympia (116 Legion Way SE) beginning at 7 PM, Tuesday, April 10. Come hear Mr. Lynch discussing his book. He will also be available to autograph copies. describes the novel as:

A classic and hugely entertaining political novel, the cat-and-mouse story of urban intrigue in Seattle both in 1962, when Seattle hosted the World’s Fair, and in 2001, after its transformation in the Microsoft gold rush.

Larger than life, Roger Morgan was the mastermind behind the fair that made the city famous and is still a backstage power forty years later, when at the age of seventy he runs for mayor in hopes of restoring all of Seattle’s former glory. Helen Gulanos, a reporter every bit as eager to make her mark, sees her assignment to investigate the events of 1962 become front-page news with Morgan’s candidacy, and resolves to find out who he really is and where his power comes from: in 1962, a brash and excitable young promoter, greeting everyone from Elvis Presley to Lyndon Johnson, smooth-talking himself out of difficult situations, dipping in and out of secret card games; now, a beloved public figure with, it turns out, still-plentiful secrets. Wonderfully interwoven into this tale of the city of dreams are backroom deals, idealism and pragmatism, the best and worst ambitions, and all the aspirations that shape our communities and our lives.

Click here to read the New York Times review of Truth Like the Sun.

Click here to purchase the book online or to purchase an edition for your Kindle.


Public Power Moves Closer to Reality in Thurston County

Over the past few months you’ve read in these pages and elsewhere about the evolving movement to electrify the Thurston County Public Utility District (PUD). As we discuss this with citizens of various political ideologies and persuasions, we are realizing that this is a non-partisan issue that resonates very favorably with most people – liberals, conservatives, or middle-of-the-roaders.

It’s time for the citizens of Thurston County, Washington to take control of their electrical destiny and initiate the transfer of ownership for this and all future generations – by telling the foreign corporation pulling Puget Sound Energy’s puppet strings, “Thanks, but we’ve got it from here.”

Most of the people we talk with immediately see the values of ownership:  local control; increased reliability; improved service; lower costs; and the economic stimulus that comes from bringing skilled jobs back to Thurston County from wherever they were outsourced by PSE years ago. Some are wary or downright hostile to the thought of giving our power to “The Government” either because they fear it or they think “The Government” screws up everything it gets its hands on. With them, we talk about the difference between Big Government with a capital ‘G’ (IRS, Congress, etc.) and local government with a small ‘g’ (the library, the school, and the fire department). We explain how the PUD is definitely small government because it is responsible only for Thurston County and consists of only three Commissioners, each of whom represents 1/3 of Thurston County, or approximately 82,000 citizens. More than 70% of the citizens we ask to sign the petition to get the Initiative on the ballot happily do so – we even got 75% of the people we asked at the recent Republican party caucuses to sign on!

“Small g” government consists of our neighbors who want to make our life better. After all, they live here, too. Small government is directly responsible to its citizens who, if they don’t approve of what the elected officials do, vote them out of office.

The campaign for Public Power is shifting into full-power mode and will be more and more visible throughout April, May, and June as we collect at least 10,733 valid signatures of Thurston County voters on our petitions and qualify for the November 6 ballot. We need your help in making Public Power a Thurston County reality. Ways you can help include:

  • Sign the petition 
  • Attend one of our Community Meetings
  • Circulate a petition among your friends and work mates
  • Talk with everyone you know about the benefits of Public Power
  • Collect signatures at an approved location in Olympia, Yelm, Bucoda, or Tumwater
  • Donate whatever you can to help extend our outreach to fellow citizens

Are you looking for a good reason to go to the Democratic Party caucuses on April 15? If you’ve not yet signed our petition, look for one at your caucus – or email us at for a location near you.

Public Power is coming to Thurston County… and all we need is a little help from those who’d like to cut the puppet strings.


John Pearce is the chairperson of the Thurston Public Power Initiative.

Reprinted with permission from the April 2012 issue of Works in Progress.

The Griffin Neighborhood Association, its Board and members, neither support nor oppose a public electrical utility in Thurston County. We welcome the opportunity to publish material either in support or in opposition to the initiative to place this question on November’s ballot. Leave your comments below, join us for a discussion on our Facebook Page, talk to your neighbors about this issue.

PSE Storm Debriefing – April 12

Join the Griffin Neighborhood Association as it hosts a community meeting with representatives from Puget Sound Energy, April 12, 7:00 to 9:00 PM at the Griffin School Gym.

In attendance will be Casey Cochrane, PSE Government & Community Relations Manager and Amy Tousley, PSE Municipal Liaison Manager.

Recent and recurring storm-related interruptions of electrical service have focused community attention on the reliability of the distribution system in our area. This community event is an opportunity for area residents to meet with representatives of PSE to better understand the causes, the utility’s response to service interruptions, and what homeowners can do to help.

How does the system work to distribute electrical power to our homes?

What are some of the causes of recent electrical outages? Where did the system break down?

How does Puget Sound Energy prioritize work to restore service and what are some of the strategies employed to tackle a major outage, such as that which occurred in January?

What is being done by PSE and what can property owners do, to help make the system more resilient and prevent power outages in the future?

PSE Storm Debriefing
Thursday, April 12
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Griffin School Gym

Thank you, Griffin School District, for allowing the use of your facility for this community event.

Community Meeting Highlights Activities Over the Last Year and Plans for the Next

Area residents filled the meeting room of the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters this last week for the annual Community Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. In addition to reports from the Association Board, residents heard from a number of local officials in what has become a favorite format for this annual event. In this article, we’ll cover the business portion of the meeting. Another article will describe topics discussed by the featured speakers.

Board members Peter Reid and Steve Lundin described the recent activities of the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Using data from a variety of sources and software provided by the Squaxin Island Tribe, the SCP and its partner, the Capitol Land Trust, are working to identify parcels within the Eld and Totten inlet watersheds, for conservation. Six parcels have been identified to-date, in the beginning of a sometimes lengthy process to secure development rights from the owners. Local property owners who may wish to share in the benefits of seeing portions of their holdings preserved are encouraged to contact the SCP.

The Capitol Land Trust will hold its annual Conservation Breakfast on February 9th. Members of the Association’s Board have reserved tables for those interested in this event. Contact Steve Lundin or Peter Reid for more information.

Diane Wiley is working with others on the Board and within the community to create a business directory. Plans are to produce both a printed and an online version. Volunteers are working to rise to the challenge of identifying the many businesses that operate in our area but without a formal storefront. Contact Diane if you would like to help assemble the business directory.

Missy Watts, a Board member and Realtor, spoke briefly regarding efforts to build “social capital” in our community. Social capital is a concept described by Robert Putnam in his books Bowling Alone and Better Together: Restoring the American Community. In these books, Putnam describes how social connections have become eroded in America and how communities can strengthen these connections, through civic engagement and a variety of other means. Missy provided the Steamboat Neighborhood logo art now being used by the GNA. She has created stickers bearing this oval image and those stickers will be available to local residents, to put on their vehicles. Local residents can pick up a sticker from the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters, during normal business hours.

The Board was moved by a discussion regarding social capital, started by Missy this last year. Those of you interested in learning more about social capital may be interested in reading the Social Capital Blog.

Linda Lentz, Board member and owner of Chelsea Farms, a family-owned shellfish farm celebrating 25 years in our area, pointed out there is more farmed shellfish in Washington than in anywhere else in the U.S. Part of the reason is because of our water quality. Land owners play a role in water quality, too. Residents who may be interested in learning more about local shellfish farming are encouraged to contact Linda. She would like to arrange tours of shellfish farms, if there is interest.

Dave Peeler reported on the annual Summer Picnic. For the second year in a row, it was held at Frye Cove Park. The weather was great! Local resident Xinh Dwelley, of Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House, donated her talents and food. Beach naturalists from the South Sound Estuary Association were on hand and the Pacific Northwest Shell Club provided displays and shells for the kids. The Association looks forward to sponsoring this event again, next summer.

Beau Altman, a member of the Board and safety expert spoke of efforts the Association could spearhead to help improve community disaster preparations. Beau spoke of community interest in a series of Saturday “MacGyver Seminars.” These could help folks to learn how to use what they have in their homes, to survive power outages and even major disasters.

Gary Goodwin, outgoing Treasurer for the Association, delivered the annual financial report.The Association began the year with $5,375.68 in its accounts and ended it with  $5,197.40. Along the way it contributed $200 to the St. Christopher’s Food Bank and $1316 to the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. It sponsored two beach naturalist scholarships with the South Sound Estuary Association ($80), paid expenses to operate a music concert and a summer picnic ($1,051.74) and paid other expenses of $176.01. Income was from dues ($916), the music concert ($1401), and other sources ($326.29).

Mark Messinger described the Association’s online footprint. The web site is the hub to a blog of news and opinion (begun in April, 2006, there are more than 408 articles in the archive), an online discussion group with more than 110 current subscribers, and a Facebook Page and Twitter feed. Folks who shop online with Amazon, using our link at helped us to raise more than $226 in commissions for the Association in 2011. The web site also has a disaster preparedness page to help residents and groups of neighbors plan.

Mark also said the Association plans to hold another music concert to raise funds for the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Two years ago the band Gaelica donated their time to play a concert. Last year, a band fronted by local musician Elizabeth Hummel filled the Prosperity Grange. Residents interested in helping to present a concert in April/May this year should contact Mark.

Dave Schuett-Hames spoke of recent interest in hosting a presentation and question-and-answer session with representatives of Puget Sound Energy. The community would benefit from a greater understanding of how PSE responds to weather emergencies such as the recent snow storm, weaknesses in the local electrical distribution system, and how homeowners can help avoid power outages or respond to them, when outages occur.

Dave also spoke of plans to develop a community garden. Local residents who may be interested in participating in a community garden should contact Dave directly.

Each year, roughly half of the positions on the Association’s Board are up for election. This year’s slate of nominees included seven returning Board members and three new nominations. Current members of the Association present at the meeting voted for the slate of ten community members. The full seventeen positions on the Board are now filled. Click here for the full roster of names on the current Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

The Board of the Association are proud of the accomplishments over the last year. The Board invites residents and local businesses to join in activities to benefit the community, to increase civic engagement, to strengthen connections to one another, and continue to make the Griffin and Steamboat area a wonderful place in which to live.

Griffin School Levy Goes to Voters February 14

The Griffin School Board of Directors have placed a two year School Programs and Operations Replacement Levy on the ballot for voter consideration on February 14, 2012.  This replacement levy serves as 28% of the district’s annual budget and is used to maintain school programs and operations.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the recent issue of Griffin Link detailing the levy and its intended uses.