Local Chip Sealing and Regional Transportation Highlight Recent Town Hall

On June 19th, the Griffin Neighborhood Association hosted a Town Hall on roadway safety in the Steamboat Peninsula/Griffin area. We want to begin our wrapup of that meeting by thanking Scott Davis, of Thurston County Public Works, for his great presentation on roadside safety, and for all of the Public Works Departments’ good work in keeping our roadways well maintained and safe to drive!

During the Town Hall, Scott Davis provided a great deal of information including the chip seal schedule for local road maintenance and information on other current Thurston County roadway projects.

Mr. Davis also suggested ways the public can report any suggestions or complaints directly to Thurston County Public Works. Thurston County does not monitor Nextdoor or other social media. But you can report issues and also transmit ‘thank you’s’ and other notes of appreciation, as well, online at https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/publicworks/onlinerequest.html or by phone at (360) 867-2300. Normal office hours are 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday. 

“Because of the need for fast response, we ask that you do not report missing or downed stop signs using the online form. Instead, please call us directly at (360) 867-2300 during business hours. After hours you can report missing or downed stop signs using the Thurston County Sheriff’s Non-Emergency line at (360) 704-2740.”

During regular business hours, you may report road blocking hazards (for example, large tree limbs or flooding) either online or at (360) 867-2300. After hours, reports of blocking hazards should be made to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Non-Emergency line at (360) 704-2740.

We learned that Public Works crews do not respond to calls to remove deceased domestic animals or small wildlife from the right of way. For that, contact Animal Services at (360) 352-2510.

2019 Chip Seal Information

Chip sealing is a process where roads are coated with a thin layer of liquid asphalt and gravel chips. When complete, treated roads become skid resistant and more resistant to water penetration. According to Thurston County’s web site, the life span of a road with chip seal treatment increases by about eight years when compared to roads without it. The work is usually performed on roads in good condition, in order to keep them from falling into costly disrepair.

In 2019, Thurston County will be focusing on chipsealing roads in the Northwestern portion of Thurston County including areas of Steamboat Island, Summit Lake, Cooper Point and parts of Delphi Rd. A downloadable map of roads to be chip sealed is available here. For our area, “The current plan is to start at the north end of Steamboat Island Rd, do the main road, and then the side roads on the list.”

Please remember to be kind and patient to roadside workers as they make improvements to our neighborhood roads this summer. A small note of gratitude goes a long way.

Doolittle Construction was low bidder for chip sealing, at $1,937,993.

Click here to see more information about the County’s chip seal program, including updates and lists of roads that are to be chip sealed. And click here to learn more about travel impacts as the project proceeds

Regional Traffic Studies

Thurston County, Olympia, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are studying traffic and planning improvements which will impact residents in the Griffin area. Among these are projects that will improve access to West Olympia and install the state’s first “diverging diamond interchange” at Marvin Road and I-5. Traffic along I-5 is also being studied and information regarding the regional transportation plan is available online. 

Read More

GNA Asks Local Businesses to Sponsor Food Drives

Thurston County Food Bank logoThe Griffin Neighborhood Association is asking local businesses, especially those in the commercial district on and around Steamboat Island Road and Sexton Drive, to help collect donations for the Thurston County Food Bank and the local satellite at St. Christopher’s Community Church. The Association hopes to find businesses that are willing to host a Food Bank collection point for one month. At least every other month, a collection point could be set up at a different local business location. Customers and local residents would then be invited to visit the business to make their donations of food, supplies, and pet food and supplies. A GNA member would stop by weekly to pick up donations. All donations will be given to the food bank satellite run by St. Christopher’s Community Church, where everything will be put to work supporting residents in need right here in our neighborhood. Any surplus donations will be taken to the Thurston County Food Bank.

“We see this as a ‘win/win’ for our community,” says GNA Board member Becky Reavis. “Folks have an opportunity to give back, and the sponsoring location has the opportunity for those bringing in donations to learn more about the local business.”

In January and July, the Griffin Neighborhood Association hosts the collection drive at its events, the Annual Meeting and Community Picnic, respectively. Local postal carriers host a drive in May. Companion Cove has already signed on to host the drive in September. The Steamboat Animal Hospital has signed up for November.

That leaves just a few more months to be chosen by local businesses who agree to participate.

Becky Reavis asks local business owners to contact her at furacres@gmail.com or text/call at (913) 909-8215 if interested in hosting a collection. If you contact Becky, “Let me know a first and second choice of the month you want.”

In addition to donations of food and supplies, the Food Bank satellite at St. Christopher’s Community Church provides gas cards and emergency assistance that sometimes includes gift cards to Grocery Outlet. Your cash donations are always welcome to help fund that kind of support. There are two ways you can make a cash donation that will be put to work right here in the Griffin area.

Click here to make a secure online donation to “St. Christopher’s Food Bank”.

If you would prefer to mail a check, please make it out to “St. Christopher’s Community Church.” Your check’s memo line should say “Basic Needs Program.” Checks can be mailed to St. Christopher’s Community Church, 7902 Steamboat Island Road NW, Olympia, WA 98502.

For more information about the St. Christopher’s Food Bank, click here to see their web page. Or call St. Christopher’s directly at (360) 866-2111.

The Griffin Neighborhood Association is grateful for this community’s support of the Thurston County Food Bank and the efforts of St. Christopher’s to help address needs right here on the Steamboat Peninsula.

At US-101 and the WA-8 Underpass, It’s Called a “Zipper Merge,” and We’ve Been Doing it Wrong

Originally published January 10, 2017, we can now update this article with news that WSDOT will be installing signs for a zipper merge in late June, 2019. Click here to read the entire article, including ‘Update #2’.

Most weekday mornings traffic begins to stack up where southbound US-101 merges from two lanes, to one, under WA-8. Drivers line up in the left hand lane and sometimes traffic slows almost all the way back to the onramp at Steamboat Island Road. As traffic slows, drivers entering US-101 at Steamboat Island Road scramble to join the line forming in the left lane. It sometimes creates a dangerous situation. And those drivers who cannot move left, or choose to remain in the right lane, feel like they are cheating, cutting into the line closer to the actual point the two lanes merge into one.

Transportation engineers call it a “zipper merge.” It is not taught in driver’s education. And the Washington Department of Transportation doesn’t normally provide the correct signage instructing drivers how it’s supposed to work. And it turns out we’ve been doing it wrong, all along.

At normal highway speeds, when traffic is moving smoothly through the WA-8 underpass, it’s correct for drivers to move to the left lane early, when the sign indicates there is a merge ahead.

But, when traffic begins to stack up and slow down, the correct way to use a zipper merge is for drivers to fill in both lanes. If the roadway was signed correctly, long before the right lane merges into the left, there would be a sign reading, “Use both lanes to merge point.”

Then, actually at the point the right lane merges into the right, drivers should file through the underpass one at a time. First a car from the left lane, then a car from the right, then the left, and so forth.

Cars from each lane file together, at the merge point, just like the teeth of a zipper.

If the roadway was signed correctly, there would be a sign at the merge reading, “Take turns merge here.”

Or perhaps a single sign, like the one pictured at the bottom of this article, would suffice to notify drivers that, when there is congestion, they should use both lanes and then take turns at the merge.

When both lanes are used correctly, a zipper merge could reduce by 50% the length of the backup along US-101. At the height of out little morning rush hour, drivers using the Steamboat Island Road onramp would easily be able to get into either the right or left lane. And everyone would get under WA-8 and on their way, just as quickly as before.Read More

Town Hall Meeting on Roadway Safety This June 19th

The Griffin Neighborhood Association will host a Town Hall meeting on roadway safety in the Steamboat Peninsula/Griffin area. The principal presenter will be Scott Davis, P.E., Traffic Engineering and Operations Manager for Thurston County Public Works. Joining Mr. Davis will be representatives of Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

This Town Hall is for anyone interested in joining a discussion on traffic safety in the Steamboat Neighborhood, and providing their input on traffic safety issues as part of the creation of a ‘Community Vision Statement’ for the Steamboat Neighborhood.

Town Hall Meeting on Roadway Safety
Wednesday, June 19
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters
3707 Steamboat Loop NW

A Community Vision Statement is a document that describes community values and aspirations – a shared image of what we want our community to look like over the course of the next 5 to 10 years. This document will be used to leverage funding and support for our community as we move forward on these efforts. In the future, there will be more information posted here and elsewhere about the creation of a Community Vision Statement.

For more information about what Thurston County Public Works Department does, click here to see their video.

Local Businesses and Organizations, “Won’t You Join Us For a Neighborhood Picnic?”

It’s that time of year again. The annual Griffin Neighborhood Association Neighborhood Picnic will be held Saturday, July 20th at Prosperity Grange and the Tin Cup Golf Range. As in the past, we will have booth spaces available on a first come, first serve basis for businesses and organizations from around the Griffin/Steamboat Peninsula community.

We hope to have a big crowd attending this year. Every year, attendance has grown. We will have Live Music, a Bouncy House, children’s face painting, children’s games, and alpacas.

Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, soft drinks, and desserts will be served. Taylor Shellfish will also be serving up their wonderful chowder and shellfish. Free food is all part of the deal for our Businesses and Organizations!

You will need to supply your own canopy, table, and chairs. The fee is $10 for businesses and free for non-profit organizations. Sales of merchandise are allowed for all.

If you would like to reserve a space for this event, please click here to download our application.

If you cannot attend, we gladly accept donations as all monies will go towards the picnic costs.

We are lucky to live in a community rich with a variety of businesses and organizations as well as such awesome people. This is an excellent way to showcase your group to all our neighbors.

Please feel free to contact Joanie Zelasko with questions or any additional information needed. We look forward to hearing from you!

Feline Friends Plant Sales are in May and June

Feline Friends logoPlant sales to benefit Feline Friends have become an annual series of events we’ve come to expect. The schedule of these plant sales is now available and they’re coming up fast! You can find perennials, beautiful dahlias, herbs, some vegetables, and choose from a large variety of unusual plants at great prices. The best part is, according to Diane Jacob, “You will be helping dedicated organizations in Thurston/Mason Counties in the never-ending quest to spay and neuter all pets to save hundreds of lives every year.”

Feline Friends Plant Sale
Saturday, May 4th
9 AM to 2 PM
Griffin School
6530 33rd Ave, Olympia just off Hwy 101 at Steamboat Is Rd Exit

Adopt-A-Pet Plant Sale
Saturday, May 11th
9 AM to 3 PM
Our Community Credit Union
2948 Olympic Hwy N, Shelton

S.N.A.P. (Spay & Neuter All Pets) Plant Sale
Saturday, May 25th
Starts at 9 AM 
Thurston County Animal Services
3120 Martin Way, Olympia

Close Out Plant & Garage Sale
Saturday, June 1st
9 AM to 2 PM
Griffin School
6530 33rd Ave, Olympia just off Hwy 101 at Steamboat Is Rd Exit
Please bring saleable items to the Griffin School between 6 PM and 8 PM Friday, May 31st or call (360) 866-1909.

Plants are provided by Cameron Gardens and many other local gardeners.

For more information about Feline Friends, click here to visit their website or call them at (360) 866-0599.

Thank you for supporting our local Feline Friends!

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