GriffinNeighbors Website Changes

Twelve years ago, the Griffin Neighborhood Association went online with the GriffinNeighbors web site. Over the years, change came slowly to the website. Through it all, though, the underlying technology on which the original website was built was not changed. That is, until now. We are now unveiling a trimmer web site that boasts higher integration with social networking, is easy to read, and runs on a low-cost and sustainable platform.


Yep, we’re now on WordPress.

The new website retains most of the features of the old. Our home page provides the latest news from the Griffin Neighborhood Association. A new section, top left of the home page, highlights some of the big goings-on here on the Steamboat Peninsula.

The most recent posts on our Facebook Page and Twitter feed are on display. You don’t have to have a Facebook or Twitter account to read and benefit from what we’re sharing on those social networks.

It’s easy from our website to find us on Facebook, Twitter, or to get to this area’s Nextdoor network.

A new section on the home page displays upcoming events from the calendar on our Facebook Page.

The new website should display well, whether you’re viewing it on a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone.

The most recent posts from our blog are displayed on our home page, too. A couple of clicks take you to our archive of more than 500 articles, including our series on local history and local nature.

It’s easy to add your own comments to our blog, too, and like and share our posts on some of the most popular social networks.


No, the original website was not built using this kind of PC.

Our growing directory of local businesses has a clean, easy to read layout.

Pages describing the Steamboat Conservation Partnership and providing resources to help you and your close neighbors to prepare for a disaster were moved from the old site.

Some Association members may find it convenient to pay their membership dues as an annual subscription. It’s easy to set up on our Join Us page. With a subscription, annual dues are automatically charged annually to your credit card. Want to cancel your subscription? There’s a button for that, too, on our Join Us page.Read More

Steamboat Island Community 4-H Club Informational Meeting

4-H_join4HBanner_39Please join us for an informational meeting to learn about the new Steamboat Island Community 4-H Club forming now! Kids currently in K-12 are welcome along with their parents.

4-H provides lots of opportunity for positive youth development. Come to explore projects such as: backyard nature, sewing, horseless horse, and social skills through Legos.

When: April 15, 2015 – 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Where: Griffin Fire Department Station 13-2
8113 Steamboat Island RD NW
Olympia, WA 98505

For more information please email:


GNA Offers Updates, Information on Local Developments, and Columnist John Dodge at Annual Community Meeting


John Dodge

Thursday’s Community Meeting was the once yearly opportunity for the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association to report to the community on recent activities, to vote in new members of the Board, and to provide a program of interest to residents on the Steamboat Peninsula. This year’s featured speaker was Olympian columnist John Dodge.

Bud Blake, Thurston County’s newest member of the Board of County Commissioners, attended the meeting and was able to speak with residents before and after the program. Mary, his wife, also attended and spoke with those eager to meet her and Commissioner Blake.

Also before the meeting, representatives of Feline Friends and Open Hands Food Bank Garden at St. Christopher’s Community Church met with interested residents.

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My New Year’s Resolution – Tree Free Printing

Actually, Tree Free Printing with Non-Toxic Ink.

Let me start at the beginning. When I was a child, my grandmother would send us a letter from time to time. It was one page. She’d start on one side of the page, then flip the sheet of paper over and write on the other side of the page. Then she’d fill in all the margins on that side of the page. Then she would flip the page back over and fill in all the margins on that side of the page.

When the margins were all filled in, the letter was done.

And, there were no blank lines. We all laughed at how eccentric it was. But, I guess, later in life, I too became eccentric because I started doing the same thing for the same reason – to save paper. However, I didn’t write too many letters that way, because my handwriting is illegible to all but a few, sometimes even to myself.

My next foray into my resolution to save paper was to switch from writing notes on legal pads, to writing notes on Jr Legal Pads, since most of my notes fit on that size paper. We now use mostly scratch paper – receipts and paper that’s been printed on one side. We haven’t resorted to printing notes on envelopes we’ve received in the mail, yet.

A lot of what I print are stories I’ve written for my wife. Some year in the future I’ll sell them, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I save paper when I print these, because they’re really condensed. OK, they’re short, very short, sometimes only one page, but they are complete stories. As my wife says, “I can write a novel in one page.”

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Sovereign Cellars holiday wine sale

Sovereign Cellars Offers Holiday Discount for a Limited Time

holiday_wine_specialFor a limited time, local winemaker Dennis Gross, of Sovereign Cellars, is offering a 30% discount on all is Double Gold winning (2014 Seattle Wine Show) reds.

Many of us have tasted these wines, either at Sovereign Cellars or at local restaurants who serve them. These really are some terrific, locally produced wines.

Contact Denny at (360) 866-7991 or for more information and to purchase before December 31st.

Read more about Sovereign Cellars in our article from this last June.

County’s Preliminary Development Code Docket Now Available for Review

According to the County’s web site, “The Official Docket of Development Code Amendments is a list of proposals for making changes to Thurston County’s development regulations.” Proposed changes are assigned a priority, on a scale of A (high) through D (low).

A summary of the entire docket is here. Both priority A and priority B are considered “high priority”. Of particular interest to residents in the Griffin area may be these high priority items:

Docket item A-2 would “Amend the Forest Lands Conversion Ordinance for Rural Areas”. This is contained within the County’s code section 17.25. According to the docket, “This could clarify and strengthen tree protection in rural areas of the County to mirror the on-going urban forestry effort.”

Docket item A-8 would “Clarify Expiration Deadlines” and would be applicable to many codes. “The code is unclear regarding expiration thresholds on approved projects, both built and unbuilt, most particularly on projects with multiple phases or buildings. Adding specific language to clarify that certain actions, not just moving dirt, are necessary to avoid expiration would improve consistency and predictability. Importantly, it would also avoid indefinite extensions after codes have changed. ”

Docket item A-13 would make revisions to the Critical Areas Ordinance in Title 24. “The new critical areas ordinance was adopted in July 2012. Amendments were made to correct errors, references and address issues brought forward through the implementation of the new critical areas ordinance. As staff continues to work with the new regulations, more issues have or may develop that need to be addressed in a timely fashion. Examples may include fixes to the prairie definition, geologically hazard area definitions, and issues regarding older nonconforming uses.”

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Steamboat Christmas Caroling @ the Grange! Saturday, December 13

Come join the Steamboat Community for our 3rd Annual Old Fashioned Christmas Caroling in the Grange.

December 13th at 2:00 to 4:00 PM

Along with the Griffin Fire Department’s Santa Sleigh!

Hosted by Restoration Home – Ingrid Olszewsky, Catherine Haag, and Heidi Sheffels.

2:00 Doors Open – Visit Santa’s Sleigh at the Fire Department
3:00 Candlelight Christmas Singing inside the Grange

Hot cider, hot chocolate, cookies and light appetizers.

Any donations will go to our Community Outreach Program which will help local families in need this Christmas season.

We look forward to seeing you!

The Tramp

Few residents are aware that our community is named after a tramp. This is not Charlie Chaplin, the famous Little Tramp, but our own Tramp, Judge Arthur Eugene Griffin.

Judge Griffin, namesake of our school district, fire district, and community, was a colorful figure who was called “The Tramp” by many of his family members. The nickname referred to his wanderlust ways, rebellious streak, and varied careers, including cook, merchant, post master, inventor, lawyer, judge, gold prospector, rancher, and investor.

Judge Arthur Eugene Griffin

Judge Arthur Eugene Griffin

Griffin’s tenuous connection with Charlie Chaplin extended beyond their similar nicknames. Perhaps Chaplin’s most famous movie was the 1925 hit, “The Gold Rush”, depicting the Little Tramp’s adventures at the Klondike or Yukon Gold Rush. Our namesake was bitten by the gold bug in 1897 and was one of tens of thousands who sought their fortunes in the Yukon. The Little Tramp climbed the famous Golden Stairs of Chilkoot Pass to reach the fabled gold fields. Our Tramp rode a horse over the nearby White Pass on his journey to the goldfields.

Arthur Griffin was born during the Civil War in 1862 at New Haven Township, Olmstead County, Minnesota. His parents were farmers. Griffin graduated from the Chicago Business College and immediately left the Midwest to seek his fortune without returning home as a prodigal son. His first job was as a cook for a Canadian Pacific Railroad survey crew. The Tramp had started his wanderlust ways.

Several years later, while passing through Enumclaw on a railroad car, Griffin took note of a good location for a store next to a saloon and boarding house. He and a partner later built Griffin and Blake Store at that site. Griffin soon was smitten by and married Gabrielle Paumell, a young French woman who was the first teacher in the community. When residents wanted to incorporate the settlement into a town, they asked Griffin to “draw up” the necessary documents. Griffin borrowed some books from a Seattle lawyer and drafted the necessary papers. After this initial success in the legal field, Griffin studied for and passed what constituted the Bar Exam in those days. He eventually became an expert in Indian law and wrote a number of short Indian stories and legends. The Griffin School Library has a compilation of these stories entitled Washington Indian Fables.

The Griffins eventually moved to Seattle. After the steamer S.S. Portland docked at Seattle’s Coleman dock with over a ton of gold from the Klondike in July of 1897, the alluring gold bug bit Griffin. He joined the stampede to find gold. Many of the thousands seeking Yukon gold traveled through Seattle and purchased their supplies there. This surge of economic activity not only put Seattle on the road to prosperity but was the catalyst to pull the nation out of its worst economic depression. Griffin opened a law firm with two other attorneys in a log cabin in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. He both prospected and practiced law.

After returning to Seattle from the Gold Rush, Griffin practiced law, became a superior court judge in King County, and made a number of investments. Of particular importance to us was his ill-fated attempt at ranching on Schneider’s Prairie. Griffin purchased much of Schneider’s Prairie in 1917. He expected to make a fortune during World War I when the price of wool skyrocketed. However, his purebred Ramboulet sheep soon died of lung worms. Griffin then tried raising registered Holsteins, but the prairie’s thin grass and wild flowers were too meager to support the cattle. Finally oyster beds where diked and he grew Pacific Oysters. This venture apparently was not successful when the market for oysters fell. Griffin then subdivided the land in a final attempt to make money on Schneider’s Prairie.

The Schneider’s Prairie District No. 33 school house burned to the ground in August of 1926. As a temporary measure, grades one through four were moved to the then abandoned schoolhouse of the prior Frye Cove School District No. 52 off what now is Gravelly Beach Loop NW.  Grades 5 through 8 were held at the second story of the old Grange Hall. The Grange had organized in 1909 and had a two-story building with an outside stairway to the second floor. Griffin donated five acres to the Schneider’s Prairie School District for a schoolhouse and grounds as part of his subdivision. Residents must have seen the deeding of the land as a grand gesture because they renamed the school district Griffin School District. The new school opened in March of 1927 with three rooms.

A new schoolhouse was constructed in 1969 and 1970, eventually becoming a 12 room building.  The new school building was constructed in phases with different grades moving into the new building as space became available. First, in early 1970, grades 6-8 moved out of portable buildings into the partially constructed new schoolhouse and grades 2-5 moved from the old schoolhouse into the portable buildings. The principal, kindergarten and grade 1 remained in the old building for the remainder of the school year. During the summer of 1970, the old building was torn down and rooms were added to the new building on the site of the old schoolhouse, allowing all grades and administration to be located in the new building by the 1970-71 school year. In 1977, a new junior module was added and grades 6-8 moved out of the 1970 structure into the addition. In 1989, six more classrooms, a gym, music room, kitchen and cafeteria were added. In 1991, two portable buildings were added supplying an additional four classrooms. In 2004 a new addition and other remodeling was completed.

The wanderlust Tramp, Arthur Eugene Griffin, died in an auto accident at the age of 86 in 1947. A large portrait of our benefactor is in the Griffin School library.

By Steve Lundin

Copyright 2014 by Steve Lundin

Reprinted from the January 1999 issue of “Neighbors“, the newsletter of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Revised 2014.

Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years. He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State.  The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling.  It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at or from WSU Extension at

Interested in reading more about our local history? Click here for the whole series.

Feline Friends Cat Adoption Day, Santa Paws, and Holiday Bazaar – December 6

Feline Friends will hold a Cat Adoption Day and Holiday Bazaar at the Griffin Fire Department Headquarters, 10 AM to 3 PM on Saturday, December 6.

This is an annual bazaar with over 20 tables filled with great gift ideas for the season. Santa will be available for pictures!

Crafts include hand blown glass art, Christmas wreaths and decorations, handmade soap, jams and jellies, candles and many other unique items.

There will also be a bake sale.

Join us for fun and to support this special cause.

Feline Friends Cat Adoption Day, Santa Paws, and Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, December 6
10 AM to 3 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters