Businessman's legacy lives on in quarry

The OlympianNovember 22, 2006 

TUMWATER - Jones Quarry has been mining black basalt from a Tumwater hillside for 30 years, but the business could be entering a new phase.

Jones Quarry was started by former Yardbirds and Sea Mart store owner Bill Jones in 1976.

Jones discovered the basalt when he was using a bulldozer on the 107-acre property off Black Lake Boulevard.

Black basalt is a black rock used in road construction and landscaping.

Today, the business sells "thousands of tons" of black basalt per year to residential and commercial customers, according to Diana Wall-Specht, president of the business since 1996.

The growth of the business, which employs eight people today, has been spurred by new construction in Thurston County.

"The last three years have been very robust," Wall-Specht said.

Since Jones died in 2003, many of the assets in his large estate have been sold off to fund one of his favorite causes: helping children.

The last two assets in the estate are Jones Quarry and a nearby fuel station known as Flintstone's Fuel.

They are for sale together for $4 million, according to Brad Kisor, a commercial real estate agent with Coldwell Banker of Olympia.

Proceeds from this sale will go to the Providence St. Peter Hospital foundation, he said.

Though no decisions have been made about how the money will be spent, two ideas are to fund a special-care nursery and to start an endowment in Jones' name, said Nancy Riordan, executive director of the foundation.

Eventually, total gifts from Jones' estate could top $8 million, she said.

As for the quarry, it has been on the market for six months and has received two serious offers and is awaiting a third, Kisor said.

The property is zoned heavy industrial, single-family low density and light industrial, which could give a new owner a range of options in deciding whether to continue the quarry operation, Wall-Specht said.

The easiest transition for a new owner might be to continue running it as a quarry, Kisor said.

"The path of least resistance is a quarry and it's profitable as a quarry," he said, adding that it has 5.7 million cubic yards of mining left, or about 25 years.

Once the quarry sells, Wall-Specht and her husband John Specht, who also run Concrete Recyclers next to Jones Quarry, said they are prepared to continue running the business for a new owner, or be "good neighbors" in the event a new owner wants to do something different.

Rob McBride, owner of McBride Construction of Olympia, hopes the quarry remains the same. A conveniently located quarry has helped him keep his fuel costs down.

"It would definitely be a loss and I'd have to increase my prices to travel further," he said.

Jones Quarry

Business: Mining black basalt

President: Diana Wall-Specht

Location: 2840 Black Lake Blvd. S.W., Tumwater

Employees: Eight

Uses: Black basalt is used in road construction and landscaping.

Cost: 15 tons costs from $100 to $105

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