GNA Annual Meeting Had Full Agenda, Full Room

The Annual Meeting of the GNA had a full agenda. Held in the Griffin Fire Station, January 28th, it attracted a full room of area residents. Featured speakers were from the Sheriff’s Office, local fire department, and one of our representatives to the State Legislature. There were also updates to the community related to a number of projects occupying the GNA. Several open positions on the Board of the GNA were also filled, in an annual election.

Sheriff Dan Kimball and Sergeant Dave Odegaard

Sheriff Kimball addressed the membership and took questions. While we live in an area generally regarded as safe, there are some common-sense steps we can take to secure our property and our families. Sheriff Kimball pointed out that, although we live in a rural area, there are incidents of break-in, especially during the work days. At nights, cars and detached buildings are sometimes targets for criminals. It makes sense to keep our homes, cars, detached garages and outbuildings locked.

Identify theft is a growing problem. Sheriff Kimball described situations where criminals would follow the postal delivery car, rifling the contents of mailboxes for material that could be used to perpetrate identify theft crime. A locking mailbox will go far to stem this kind of crime. Many local residents already choose to post their outgoing mail at the post office or in the USPS dropbox in front of the Island Market.

For more information about the County Sheriff Department, see their web site at

Griffin Fire Chief John Wood and Captain Dwayne Barch

Chief Wood and Captain Barch answered questions regarding fire station operations. They pointed out that ours is a volunteer fire department. Local residents interested in volunteering should contact the fire department at 866-9000. Click here for more information about what it’s like to be a fire department volunteer.

First Aid and CPR classes are popular. These are usually free or very inexpensive. Typically, any charges go to whatever organization is providing the certification. A First Aid class will convene at 6 PM, February 4. A CPR class will be held at 6 PM on February 5.

In addition to emergency services, local residents can use free notary public service, at the main fire station. Other services include free blood pressure checks, smoke detectors and batteries, address signs for your home, emergency preparedness plans and pamphlets, and burn permits and burn ban information.

For more information about the Griffin Fire Department, see their web site at

Representative Fred Finn

Local resident and GNA Board Member Fred Finn was elected to the State House of Representatives this last November. Representative Finn is now serving on several key committees in the House. He is on the Audit Review & Oversight, Ecology & Parks, Environmental Health, Technology Energy & Communications, and Transportation committees.

The session began just a week or two before the Annual Meeting. “It’s like drinking from a firehose,” Finn told GNA members.

Click here for Fred Finn’s legislative home page.

There’s also a link to sponsored legislation and news on both our State Representatives and Tim Sheldon, our representative in the State Senate, on the GNA web site. Click here, then scroll down to “Your State Legislators in Action.”

Steamboat Conservation Partnership

Peter Reid addressed the membership on progress to create a conservation partnership. Such a partnership would allow the community to buy up and conserve land in the Steamboat area.

Reid said that, at this time last year, GNA members working to create the partnership would have expected that, one year later, we would be in a position to be eliciting financial support from the community. However, progress has been slow. Nonetheless, there is progress in creating a partnership with the Capitol Land Trust. Presently, draft legal documents are being reviewed by representatives of the Trust and GNA members working on this project.

St. Christopher’s Community Church

Fr. Pete Van Zanten came with architectural drawings of the planned community center. Progress is slow, but the project is moving forward with a new parking lot already having been cleared, this last summer, with access directly to Steamboat Island Road.

An effort is being undertaken by the local diocese and St. Christopher’s to secure some federal funding for the project. This funding will be contingent upon the center being used for the benefit of the community. Already, St. Christopher’s is hosting a local branch of the Thurston County Food Bank and meetings of a local Alcoholics Anonymous group, as well as others. There are plans to open a preschool, this next Fall.

Fr. Van Zanten said the church was also seeking to host a scouting group. Any community members who may be interested in leading a scouting group should contact the church.

The Center will be able to support the community in time of an emergency. It’s designed to serve as a shelter and to store supplies. It will be handicap accessible.

Funding continues to pose a challenge and community members are welcome to visit the church’s web site, for more information on the project and to contribute financially to it.

Fr. Van Zanten also announced the church will be offering a preschool, beginning in the Fall, for children ages 3 through 6 years. St. Christopher’s is holding an Open House, on March 16th, for interested parents to learn more about the program and to meet the Director and Preschool Board.

Preschool Open House
March 16, 5 PM to 8 PM (drop by, when you can)
St. Christopher’s Community Preschool
3320 – 79th Ave. NW

For more information, call the church at 866-2111.

Blueberry Farm Update

For some time, the GNA has sought rights to manage the blueberry farm and to make it available to the public. When the property was sold for development, members of the GNA met with representatives of the developer. It became necessary to secure liability insurance and, to do that, the GNA sought an arrangement with the South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust whereby the Trust would purchase the insurance and be reimbursed by the GNA. The GNA itself cannot purchase this coverage, since it is not a federally-recognized 501(c)(3).

In the time that has elapsed, since discussions with the developer commenced, the situation at the blueberry farm has deteriorated. Members of the South of the Sound Community Farmland Trust arranged to tour the blueberry farm with a local hydrologist. What they found was not promising and may cause us to have to rethink our plans for the resource parcel owned by the Blueberry Hill development.

The hydrologist described the blueberry farm as a bowl which is comprised a great deal by soils that are not very pervious. Water is collecting in low spots and drainage through culverts under Steamboat Island Road and on to the north of the parcel is poor. Possibly, the land in some spots is sinking, since the culverts are now above the ground level, causing the water to collect. There is also some beaver activity on the site, which is further exacerbating the drainage problem.

Water is flowing from home sites above the farm, both those in the Blueberry Hill development and from adjoining parcels. Previously, members of the GNA have addressed this problem with the County, but have been told the stormwater management from those parcels is up-to-code and, therefore, the County will not intervene to reduce the amount of water coming from those parcels and collecting in the blueberry bog.

Members of the Farmland Trust also found that many of the remaining blueberry plants on the property are stressed and may be reaching the ends of their natural lives. Some plants still remain in isolated spots – mostly high spots – around the parcel.

Unless a solution is found to reduce the water collecting in the bog, replant, and remove shrubs and blackberry vines which have grown around the parcel, we will lose the blueberry farm as a community resource. The GNA Board will discuss its next steps, at an upcoming meeting.

Will Savage, whose family owned the blueberry farm, said that he has a plan which will divert the water from the parcel. His plan will divert water on to his property, which is located south of the blueberrry farm. He will use the water to cultivate fish.

“For the next month,” Mr. Savage told the membership, “I will be at Character’s Corner each Saturday at 2 PM, for the next month. Folks who are interested in a plan to save the blueberry farm can meet with me there.”

Emergency Preparedness

GNA Board members Beau Altman and Norm Johnson described the ongoing effort to contact area residents with an emergency preparedness survey. The purpose of this survey is to identify local resources – equipment and skilled members of the community – which would be valuable in times of local emergency. The survey would also identify households which might have members who will need special attention.

Norm Johnson and others have, for a year or more, visited with homeowners in their neighborhoods, to collect emergency preparedness survey information. However, with nearly 6000 residents in our area, we’re going to need a lot more community involvement, if we’re to identify resources and plan appropriately.

Residents should expect to see more information coming from the GNA regarding a revitalized effort to engage our community in a coordinated effort to prepare for emergencies.

Click here for information regarding emergency preparedness on the GNA web site.

Board Election

Terms on the Board of the GNA are staggered. The Bylaws permit a Board of from 10 to 17 members in size.

This year three Board members have retired. They are Jerry Handfield, Kathy O’Connor, and Velma Rogers. Many thanks, to you three, for your service to the community.

Two Board members whose previous terms ended this year were nominated to serve again. Both Bob Whitener and Dave Schuett-Hames were entered into nomination.

The names of two new community members, Jim Lynch and Peter Reid, were entered into nomination. No further names were entered.

The four names entered into nominations were approved by those GNA members present at the meeting.

The current Board of the GNA is:

Beau Altman – Gayle Broadbent – Fred Finn
Gary Goodwin – Norm Johnson – Steve Lundin
Jim Lynch – Mark Messinger – Eric Moll
Kathleen O’Shaunessy – Peter Reid
Elizabeth Rodrick – Dave Schuett-Hames
Bob Whitener – Chris Wickham

Support the GNA by Shopping at

For those of you who shop online, you can easily support the GNA, when you shop at Simply pass through our web site, on your way to Amazon’s. Bookmark at Whatever purchases you make, while there, will result in a modest commission for the GNA. Your prices and conditions of purchase won’t change at all.

Griffin Neighbors Online Discussion Group

For those of you interested in chatting online with other members of the local community, there’s an online group, GriffinNeighbors, at If you would like to join this group, send an email to and ask to be sent an invitation.

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