Good and Bad Knife Bills in Washington State

We have both good and bad news from Washington State. Starting with the good, two companion bills, Senate Bill 6179 and House Bill 2347, would make it legal to manufacture spring-assisted and switchblade knives in the state of Washington. These bills also clarify the definition of a switchblade, or what is referred to in Oregon law as a “spring blade knife,” so as to not include assisted-opening knives that are currently subject to adverse interpretation of the state statute making them technically illegal. In addition, this bill would expand the existing law enforcement exemption for possession of “spring blade knives” to members of the military, full-time first responders and those citizens who hold a valid Washington concealed pistol license (WA is a “shall issue” state).

Knife Rights Director of Legislative Affairs, Todd Rather, will be in Olympia on Wednesday to testify in support of these bills on behalf of Washington’s knife owners. The bills are a big incremental step forward in a state where any knife with a spring assisted blade has been interpreted as being an illegal knife and where Washington knife manufacturers, such as Fox Knives USA and SOG, were prohibited from even manufacturing these knives in the state, sending those jobs to other states with more rational knife laws, including neighboring Oregon.

The bad news is that last year’s ridiculous anti-knife bill, HB 1006, that would make it illegal to conceal any knife over 3 1/2 inches long, even with a WA concealed pistol permit (since it is not a concealed weapon permit), has been resurrected. In a state where a long coat is a normal part of every outdoor enthusiast’s, fisherman’s and hunter’s attire for a good part of the year, this would turn honest citizens into criminals for carrying a modestly sized sheath knife on their belt, along with quite a few common folding knives longer than the arbitrary length limit. It’s time to put a stake through the heart of this asinine legislation and Knife Rights is working on that.

If you live, work or travel in Washington state, please contact BOTH your Senator and Representative in Olympia and ask them to support SB 1234 and HB 2347, respectively and ask your Representative to help kill HB 1006 for good. Click here to locate your legislators, or the legislators who represent where you work or travel.

Reprinted with permission from Knife Rights This article appeared in Knife Rights News Slice – January 21, 2012


On February 10 the House passed HB 2347, the bill which would make it legal to manufacture spring-assisted and switchblade knives in the state of Washington. The Senate passed SB 6179 out of committee. Knife Rights encourages interested citizens to contact their Senate representatives to request they support SB 6179.

Annual Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association is January 26th

The Annual Meeting of the Griffin Neighborhood Association is Thursday, January 26, 7 PM at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters. Come early, for light refreshments and conversation. 

Thursday, January 26
7 PM, but arrive early
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters
3707 Steamboat Loop NW

This year’s Annual Meeting will include a report to membership on the activities of the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Each year, up to half the positions on the Board are offered for elections. This is your opportunity to renew your membership in the Griffin Neighborhood Association, since only current Association members can vote to fill the Board. Click here to become a new member or renew your existing membership, online.

The Annual Meeting features a number of special guests. Those who have already accepted our invitation to speak a few minutes each and to take questions include:

State Representative Fred Finn and Ray Peters of the Squaxin Island Tribe have also been invited, but have not yet confirmed they will be able to attend.

Where else will you find such a list of elected and local officials, in one place and at one time?

Are you interested in serving on the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association? For more information on the duties and responsibilities of Board membership, click here to download a copy of our FAQ. Contact any current Board member, with your questions or to enter your name into nomination.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Update to speakers list: Thurston County Under-Sheriff Tim Braniff will attend, instead of Sheriff John Snaza.

Critical Areas Ordinance Public Hearing – December 10

A public hearing has been scheduled by the Thurston County Planning Commission on the draft Critical Areas Ordinance.   The hearing will be held on Saturday, December 10, 2011. 

Date: December 10, 2011
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with doors and sign-in beginning at 9 a.m.
Location: Room 129, Building 2 of the Thurston County Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Drive S.W.
Olympia, WA 98502

The hearing is being held open over a longer period, during daylight hours, to allow all citizens to have a safe, convenient environment in which to testify.  Those who wish to appear and testify may do so at any point between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on December 10th.  The public hearing may be extended at the discretion of the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission is not scheduled to make a recommendation at the close of the public hearing. 

In addition, the Planning Commission is currently accepting written comments on the Critical Areas Ordinance, and will do so until 5 p.m. on December 23, 2011.  Please e-mail comments to Andrew Deffobis at, or submit written comments by mail to:

Andrew Deffobis, Associate Planner
Thurston County Planning Department
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Building 1, 2nd Floor
Olympia, WA 98502

Public hearing drafts of the Critical Areas Ordinance are now available by clicking here

For more information on the update to the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance, click here.

Thurston County Planning Department maintains a web mail service, which issues notices of this kind. You are welcome to sign up for this web mail service by clicking here.

Redistricting Could Place Griffin Area Among a Different Group of Voters

“The U.S. Constitution requires that all states evaluate electoral district boundaries every ten years following the U.S. Census. In 1983, Washington voters established the Washington State Redistricting Commission to ensure district boundaries are redrawn through a fair and bipartisan process. The Redistricting Commission includes two Democrats and two Republicans as voting members and a non-voting, nonpartisan chair.

The commissioners’ draft redistricting proposals are now posted online. Also online are links you may use to comment on these proposals. Public input to the drafts will wrap up with a meeting in Olympia on October 11. The meeting will be webcast on TVW and broadcast on TV. Public comments will be taken during the meeting by phoning in or joining the interactive webcast.

After the meeting on October 11, the Redistricting Commissioners will meet as often as needed to hammer out a final plan for congressional and legislative districts. Their meetings will be open to the public and announced at least 24 hours in advance. The Commissioners have set a goal of November 1st to agree on a final plan, providing time to correct minor errors before the Constitutional deadline for submitting the plans to the Legislature on January 1, 2012.

Presently, Griffin area voters find themselves not quite in Thurston County, as ours is the small sliver of this county within the 35th Legislative District, and not in Olympia. At least, that is, when it comes to voting. The 35th LD encompasses all of Mason County and portions of Grays Harbor and Kitsap counties. As part of the 3rd Congressional District, we vote with a largely rural region south to Vancouver and west to the Pacific Ocean, at Long Beach. While many of us work in Olympia and travel frequently to Olympia to shop and to visit with friends, we are not in the same Legislative or Congressional district as Olympia.

Four redistricting plans are now subject to public review and comment. Where does the Griffin area fall, in each of these?

Click here to view each of the four redistricting plans. Click here to install Google Earth on your PC or Mac, to take advantage of the links to Google Earth layers.

Legislative District Proposals Split Down the Middle

Proposals from Slade Gorton and Tom Huff would move the Steamboat Island peninsula into the same Legislative district (District 22) in which Olympia and portions of north Thurston County are located.

However, Slade Gorton’s proposal would put the portion of the Griffin area north of US 101 in Olympia’s legislative district, but parcels to the south of US 101 in Mason County’s legislative district (District 35). Huff’s proposal, too, would put Summit Lake in one LD and the rest of the Griffin area in another LD.

The proposals of Tim Ceis and Dean Foster would keep the Griffin area in the same legislative district as Mason County (District 35).

Congressional District Proposals Vary Widely as to Boundaries

All four proposals would place the Griffin area in the same congressional district as the city of Olympia. However, the proposals vary widely as to the boundaries and size of that district.

Gorton’s proposal is for a modestly-sized congressional district (District 9) covering all of Thurston County and then extending north into Pierce County, just east of Tacoma and west of Puyallup.

Ceis would create a congressional district (District 10) extending from Shelton across north Thurston County and then into Pierce County, but extending not as far north into Pierce County as Gorton’s proposal.

Foster’s proposal would create a single vast congressional district (District 10) covering the entire Olympic Peninsula and south to the Oregon border, including Pacific County (but not Wahkiakum). This district would extend across north Thurston County and to a point north of South Hill. It is notable, whowever, that Foster’s proposal places Shelton – actually, the eastern half of Mason County – in a different district than District 10.

Huff’s proposal is for a large congressional district (District 6) that covers the entire Olympic Peninsula, to the southern boundary of Grays Harbor County. Then east to Interstate 5, including Olympia but ending at the Nisqually River. This district would include Bainbridge Island.

Miles to Go Before Completion

Although the public comment period ends soon – October 11 – there is much work left to complete redistricting. A decade ago, there were big differences between the districts proposed and those which were eventually set.

On October 20, Thurston County will host a public meeting on the redistricting proposals. Click here for information about that event, which takes place in the Tenino High School.

Click here to review the proposals and to make comments to each of the four voting members on the Redistricting Commission.

Emergency Preparedness Expo – October 29

Emergency Preparedness Expo
Saturday, October 29, 2011
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saint Martin’s University
Marcus Pavilion & Worthington Conference Center
5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey

Wheelchair Accessible • ASL Interpreter Available

Vendors, Information & Displays:

  • American Red Cross – Emergency Preparedness Information & Supplies
  • CERT – Community Emergency Response Team
  • Crisis Clinic Resource Network (Thurston/Mason Counties)
  • Department of Ecology Flood Program
  • Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center
  • Home Depot
  • J & I Power Equipment
  • KGY Radio
  • Lacey Fire District #3
  • LDS Church – Food Storage/Prep Cooking with Emergency Provisions
  • National Weather Service
  • Office of the Insurance Commissioner
  • Olympia Fire Department Tiller Truck and Jaws of Life
  • Puget Sound Energy – Electrical Safety
  • Quake Ready
  • Rescue Tape NW
  • ServiceMaster of Greater Tacoma
  • Shelf Reliance
  • South Sound 2-1-1
  • Thurston County ARES/RACES
  • Thurston County Emergency Management Council – Local Preparedness & Hazards
  • Thurston County Environmental Health – Water Purification & Storage
  • Thurston County Public Health & Social Services – Medical Reserve Corps
  • Thurston County Search & Rescue Council
  • Thurston County Sheriff’s Office – Child Identification, Iris Scanning
  • Thurston County Sheriff’s Office – Dive Team
  • Tumwater Fire Department – Fire Extinguisher Training
  • Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART)
  • West Thurston Regional Fire Authority
  • WSU Germ City
  • Fun, Family-friendly Exhibits

For More Information Contact:  Vivian Eason, Thurston County Emergency Management at 360-786-5243 or email

Local Resident Mark Genich Collects Insects for the Slater Museum of Natural History

Detail from the cover of Insects of the Pacific Northwest

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the annual picnic sponsored by the Griffin Neighborhood Association is the opportunity to meet neighbors from this area for the first time. Among those local residents who visited Frye Cove at this year’s picnic was Mark Genich and Lynne Ferguson. Recently retired as a physician, Dr. Genich has undertaken an interesting project with which any of us could lend a hand.

Dr. Genich is collecting samples of insects in our area for the Slater Museum of Natural History at the University of Puget Sound with the help of the emeritus professor, Dr. Dennis Paulson. The collection will be used as a teaching tool for the students at the university. Although he retired as a family practice physician and worked in the urgent care department of Group Health Cooperative, “I got my start toward a career in medicine because I got interested in insects as vectors of disease to people and animals,” Dr. Genich explains.

As our late summer turns into fall, you may yet have an opportunity to add an important insect or two to the collection. If you capture an unusual looking insect, Dr. Genich is happy to personally pick up anything anyone finds. “The best way to hold any specimens is to catch them in a jar if possible and then put them into a freezer so they won’t dry out and become brittle.”

If you capture and freeze an insect for the collection, please contact Dr. Mark Genich by phone at 866-0844.


Neighborhood Beach Party – August 27 at Frye Cove Park

Join us for a Griffin Neighborhood Beach Party on Saturday, August 27, at Frye Cove Park.

Bring a salad, dessert, snack, or just bring yourself. We’ll provide beverages, hamburgers, hot dogs, clams, and all the condiments.

Saturday, August 27
12 noon to 4 PM
Frye Cove Park
4000 NW 61st Ave, Olympia, WA

Enjoy fresh shellfish dishes with an Asian twist prepared  by Xinh Dwelley, of Xinh’s Clam & Oyster House.

Low Tide Exploration with beach naturalists – 10 AM to 1 PM. Low tide is at 11 AM. Thanks to the South Sound Estuary Association for providing their beach naturalists, for this activity.

Kids activities include opportunities to create an estuary print, visit with the Pacific Northwest Shell Club, learn about phytoplankton and much more!

Donations of non-perishable food and cash for the St. Christopher’s Food Bank are welcome.


Meet Your New Neighbor: The Members’ Only Steamboat Island Athletic Club

Detail from the current approved site plan

Local residents cannot help but notice the activity on the prairie at the corner of Steamboat Island and Sexton roads. In recent weeks, grading has commenced on a 5.2 acre parcel owned by STAC Properties, LLC (Drake Nicholson and Desiree Forbes). A number of inquiries have been received by members of the Griffin Neighborhood Association as to what’s up. We can now report that Mr. Nicholson is indeed moving ahead with construction on a pair of buildings totaling 43,020 square feet to house a “members’ only” facility with indoor tennis courts, a salon with massage, manicure/pedicure, sauna and tanning facilities, a weight room, racquetball court, climbing wall, hot tub, and a small swimming pool.

Meet the new neighbor. Except for the Griffin School, nothing as big as this structure exists in our area. Beyond the footprint on the ground, too, the height required to accommodate tennis courts may put this among the highest structures.

Mr. Nicholson purchased the parcel in April, 2003 and made application in mid-2004 to build the Steamboat Island Tennis Club. The original application required a Special Use Permit (the parcel is zoned for rural residential use) for the construction of a 43,200 square foot building “for indoor tennis and other associated athletic uses such as a weight room, locker room and swimming pool. In addition,” according to that original application, “the facility includes two outdoor tennis and 151 parking stalls.” Copies of the original application materials are available on the web site of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Long before grading equipment set to work on one of the last undeveloped portions of prairie in our area, voices had been raised against the project. Some objected to the development as a “huge, urban and high density athletic facility.” One local resident, Steve Lundin, filed a formal appeal against approval of the application. In a letter to the County’s Permit Assistance Center, Mr. Lundin wrote the project “(1) Violates the county zoning code; (2) is incompatible with the County Comprehensive Plan and the State’s Growth Management Act; and (3) will have substantial and undue adverse impacts on the Griffin community.”

Other residents welcomed the possibility there might be built an athletic facility closer to home.

While the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association did not take a position either in favor of or against the project, they did note a number of inconsistencies in the plans and wrote in a memo to Association members that “confusion exists about the project details.” Early in the planning stages, Mr. Nicholson had approached the Board to describe what he had in mind. However, many on the Board at the time reported the plans discussed appeared to be so fluid as to be impossible to say exactly what it was Mr. Nicholson was actually going to build. Some expressed concerns over the long-term viability of the business being proposed for such large buildings.

In May, 2006, the County’s Hearing Examiner upheld the decision to approve the Special Use Permit and denied Mr. Lundin’s appeal against the County’s approval of the project. Although zoned Rural Residential, as is much of the land on our peninsula, the Hearing Examiner allowed to go forward plans to construct what he described as two buildings “proposed to be 35 feet in height.”

The Comprehensive Plan requires development to remain rural in character and to balance human uses with the natural environment, and it requires commercial uses to be small in scale for provision of convenience services to the surrounding rural neighborhood.

Following the Hearing Examiner’s decision, an appeal was filed with the County Commissioners. The size regulations for athletic facilities in the county were not in place at the time of the original application. Commissioner MacLeod abstained from voting “due to his concerns about the special use application and whether or not it was properly vested under the rules relied upon by the Hearing Examiner.” However, the two remaining Commissioners, Cathy Wolfe and Diane Oberquell, upheld the Hearing Examiner’s decision.

That’s where things ended back in July, 2006.

In October, 2009, Mr. Nicholson filed an amended application. This time the facility included a pro shop and a “café/deli.”

In the intervening years, little the public would be aware of appears to have been done with the parcel. That is, until a few weeks ago. That’s when the grading began. We now have received from the County a packet of materials with the latest site plans. The pro shop and café/deli are out. The County’s Amended Administrative Site Plan Review includes a copy of correspondence from the Public Works Department, dated this last March, and a memo from the Environmental Health Department, in April. A blank Administrative Appeal Application Form was also included.

The County is recommending approval of the permit and for the project to proceed. A nonrefundable fee of $1710 would be required to appeal the decision. Such an appeal would need to be filed by June 15.

Click here to peruse our archive of documents related to the Steamboat Island Athletic Club.

Watch this space for more information, as it becomes available.

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!

Science Café – “The Magnitude 6.5 Puget Sound Earthquake of Fall 2011” – May 10

The Science Café of Olympia will meet next on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm.

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee House
516 Capitol Way S, Olympia WA

This month’s topic is “The Magnitude 6.5 Puget Sound Earthquake of Fall 2011 – that no one will feel.”

We are expecting a slow-slip “earthquake” next fall in western Puget Sound. While it is likely to be about a magnitude 6.5 or maybe larger, no one will feel it since it will last about three weeks instead of 20 seconds like a regular earthquake. The relatively new discovery of slow-slip earthquakes and the latest research on them and do they mean that the “big-one” is coming will be discussed. Cascadia happens to be one of the best laboratories in the world for studying this phenomenon, now called Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS).

Our speaker is Dr. Steve Malone, Prof. Emeritus and Past Director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, Department of Earth and Space Science, University of Washington.

Date of next meeting: Tuesday, June 14, 2011. “Radiation and Health.” Dr. Al Conklin, Health Physicist, Deptartment of Health.

The Science Café of Olympia, based on the Cafés Scientifique which began in the UK, provides an informal atmosphere where people both with and without a scientific background can meet and gain a better understanding of interesting topics on science and technology After a brief presentation by an expert in the field, the meeting will be opened to discussions among everyone in attendance.

Presentations will focus on issues that impact our lives locally, nationally and internationally.